Tag Archives: long run

that’s a wrap


On Saturday, I wrapped up my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon training cycle with 22.5 glorious miles on the treadmill at Planet Fitness in Lorain, and all things considered, it felt pretty damn good! I made sure I dialed back the pace and just cruised. I get asked a lot how I keep myself engaged and sane on the treadmill. Thankfully, I am able to read magazines while I run, so now, I am well-versed in spring fashion, workout tips, and Hollywood gossip. I’ll watch a little TV, people-watch around the gym, and reward myself with music for the last 5 or so miles. I also “compete” with other runners on the treadmills next to me (sorry, not sorry), so that keeps it fun. I had someone pay me an awesome compliment when I finished the first 10 miles and needed a water bottle refill – “You run the shit out of that machine!” Why, thank you, sir, and yes, I do.

The run certainly wasn’t easy, but I walked out of there feeling strong and accomplished. Do I feel 100% ready for Cleveland in 2 weeks? I’d say I’m feeling 85-90% confident that I will run a “good” race. I don’t feel I trained as well as I should have this year with everything else going on in our crazy, busy lives, but I know it was well enough to not totally fall apart on the course. I’m expecting it to hurt, but the feeling of crossing the finish line for my 7th marathon/5th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon will be so rewarding!

Another thing I always look forward to near the end of the training cycle is the Ambassador Meet-up, which was held at the tail-end of April. It had been a long time since I saw some of my ambassador friends, and seeing them was like a jolt in the arm and just what I needed to carry me through the end of training. They are supportive and motivating, and we’ve come to build this little running family. Basically, they make my heart smile, and I can’t wait to take the streets of CLE with them! 13 DAYS!!!!!!

20 mile drop race recap


A little over a week ago on April 23, I ran the Lake Health Running Series 20 Mile Drop. I freaking love this race for a few reasons.

1. It’s the perfect training run for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and it’s not that expensive of a race at all. Even with signing up later, it was $65 with a discount code.

2. It’s challenging! Don’t let the Drop part of the name fool you; the course has some hills and elevation changes to keep your legs guessing.

3. And last but most certainly not least, this race goes through my hometown neighborhood in Painesville, so my family is able to cheer me on right near their house. I also get all nostalgic running through my hometown.

Race day conditions were sooooo much better than last year when Mother Nature dropped a snowstorm the day before the race and graced us with bone-chilling temps. I got my usual escort to the starting line (Thanks, Dad! You’re awesome!), made one last bathroom stop, and walked to the start. I was happy when I saw a few peeps I knew (what’s up, Rachel and Sara?!) and chatted for just a bit before we were off and running.

The plan I told everyone was this would just be a training run for CLE, and I wasn’t going to push the pace. That in fact is a lie; I just didn’t want to hear the bitching. I wanted to see how well I could do this year with running it well last year (2:53 and change). The first mile was done before I knew it, but it was too fast to be sustainable (just a hair over 8:00). Time to back off because I still had 19 miles to go. Around miles 1.5-2.5, there was a significant climb, but thankfully, I didn’t feel tired or winded after. This shocked me because I keep feeling as though I was not as well training or running as well as I did last year. Small victory, even though it was early in the race.

Around mile 4ish, I hung with a group of three ladies and chatted a bit. It’s always nice to have someone to talk with during these long runs because it breaks the mile monotony. The one lady and I pressed ahead, and she was pretty awesome. I didn’t catch her name, but she was a 40-something, elementary school gym teacher in Kirtland. And she was killing it! For the next 4 or so miles, we hung together and talked. I wasn’t paying attention to my watch, but when I finally did, I told her to leave me in the dust because I was way under my planned pace and didn’t want to burn out halfway through the race.

Miles 10-14 were a blur because I started to get really antsy. I knew my parents would be waiting for me around mile 14, and I was just like, “Holy crap, just get there already!” When I came out of the bike path into the neighborhood, my mom and dad were there smiling and cheering me on. I was starting to feel a little fatigued at this point, so it boosted my spirits. The best part of the whole race happened when my dad, who is not a runner, hopped in to run with me. All the feels!

Although I felt myself getting tired after mile 15, I kept moving forward, and my pace was great and consistent. This changed as soon as I hit the damn flag for mile 17. Muscle cramps in both calves and a cramp in my left foot stopped me in my tracks. I had to stop and stretch, walk, and then get back to running. This would be the recurring theme for the last three miles, and I know I stopped at least 5 times. I felt defeated and wanted to cry, but I told myself I better get my shit together and finish this race. My parents got to see me in this sad state when I hit mile 18, and after talking with them after the race, they said they wanted to stop and help me.


pain train at mile 18

I was so happy when I reached mile 19 knowing I was so close to that finish line. I wanted to be able to run the entire last mile, but I had to stretch out one last cramp around 19.5. One-half mile to go! You can do this! When I hit the last turn, I regained focus and made my way through the muddy grass to the finish. 2:56:34. It wasn’t the race I necessarily wanted being that it was 3 minutes slower than last year, but I know I spent more than 3 minutes taking care of my legs on the course. All things considered, I did pretty damn well, and it was good enough for second place in my age group! WOOHOO! I could get used to this placing thing. Thanks, Lake Health Running Series, for yet another great year. I’m already looking forward to 2018!


“It’s a major award!”


one run, huge difference



Lately, I’ve lacked motivation when it comes to training. I was too busy worrying about how slow I thought I had gotten or how few miles I put in during the week. It didn’t help that every time I checked social media, I saw friends who were running faster and farther than me.

I’m happy to say I feel as though I turned a corner on Monday, and my confidence and motivation have been restored. I was thankful to have the day off for Presidents’ Day and with the unseasonably warm weather, it was a perfect day for a long run. I was a little worried since I had just ran 10 miles on Saturday, but I needed to try. My run Saturday wasn’t particularly bad, but it was hard, much harder than I expected. I never settled in a rhythm, my legs felt dead, and all I kept thinking was I couldn’t wait for it to end.

I knew running around the neighborhood wouldn’t motivate me, so I decided running the Lorain County Metro Parks would be a good change of scenery. I parked my car, turned on my watch, and set off with no real expectations. And do you know what? It felt great! My legs weren’t tired, and my pace was much better than I was expecting! It almost felt effortless. The miles clipped by, and I wasn’t faltering. I was actually getting faster. And I truly enjoyed the run, everything about it. It’s been a long time since I said that.

When it was all over, I ran a nice little half marathon through High Meadows, Bur Oak, and the Steel Mill Trail. 13.1 miles at an 8:42 pace! That, my friends, is my fastest outdoor half marathon to date! And it was a training run on a freaking Monday! To round it out to a nice whole number, I even jumped on the treadmill at Planet Fitness where I parked and ran a 0.9 mile cool-down.

After the run, I was still riding my runner’s high, so I thought I might as well keep it going. After 14 miles, I took the kids to Sky Zone for some exercise disguised as fun. We jumped and laughed and enjoyed the time out. The added bonus was the kids and I are now lumped in the same weight group, so we are finally able to jump together as opposed to having the smaller ones on one side of the jump floor and me on the other.


So that was all it took. One little run made a huge difference. Bring it, Cleveland Marathon, I’m back and ready to train hard! See you in May.


no calendar = better training


Did you know over 20,000 runners, joggers, and walkers will take to the streets of Cleveland for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in less than 8 weeks?! If you think that sounds hard to believe, so do I. It seems like only a few weeks ago I was asked to come back as an official blogger and chronicle my journey, and now, we are almost there! My race day excitement is building with each passing week as I continue to work on speed and adding miles. I am reaching goals I’ve never thought possible and am very excited for what race day will bring.

So, how has training been going for me? The answer – really well! And want to hear the funny part? I’m not keeping with a strict schedule like I have in the past, and it seems to be working for the better. For previous half marathons and marathons, I’ve sat down with my blank calendar and penciled in every single run to get me to race day. I barely deviated from the schedule, which was good in terms of discipline and consistency, but it led to running burn out. Every weekend I logged a long run, adding 1-2 miles each week whether my body felt up to it or not. I may have been getting the miles in, but my times were slow and the run itself was mediocre at best. This year is different. I’m doing a better job of listening to my body instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, which, for a super scheduled person like me, is hard to do. Now, if I don’t feel up to a long run on Saturday or Sunday, I don’t do it. I don’t want to force the miles. I would rather complete the run on another day than slug through and be miserable with the way the run felt and the time in which I completed it. There have been weekends where I haven’t run. I worried about this at first, but I found that the time off gave me fresh legs and a clear head, which allowed me to come back and crush it. My long run yesterday was proof of this.

Do I still have my training calendar? Yes, I do, and it’s still hanging on the side of my refrigerator. I glanced at it to see where I was in terms of miles, and I’m happy to say that I’m ahead of schedule! Currently, I’m up to 18+ miles for a long run, which in past years I didn’t reach until about 5 weeks before race day. My plan is to keep improving on my long runs and nailing down my pre-race and race day nutrition. I recently tried PowerBar Performance Energy Blends and fell in love. They are basically glorified baby food, but, goodness sake, are they delicious and beat the heck out of gels! I highly suggest trying them, especially if the thought of downing another gel makes your stomach want to flip.

What next? I originally planned to not run a major race before CLE, but with my new running confidence and being ahead of schedule, I took the plunge and signed up for the Lake Health Running Series 20 Mile Drop, a point-to-point race that starts in Chardon and ends at Mentor Headlands. I needed an element of challenge to fight long-run monotony, and I thought this would be the perfect chance to put my training to the test. I would much rather find out something with my pre-race prep, nutrition, gear, etc. isn’t working quite right and have a chance to tweak it than get to the marathon in May and have things fall apart. I refuse to fail in Cleveland this year! Plus, it’s hard to pass up a race near my hometown of Painesville, and I hope that some of my family can make it to Headlands to see me finish (yes, fam, I’m calling you out and hope you come to the race!)

If you’re interested in running the 20 Mile Drop, sign up now; they have a limited number of spots left. 20 miles not your cup of tea? Be part of the fun by running the 10 Mile Drop! Hope to see you there!

the motivation within



I recently had a nice little chat with Joan and Jen, both with the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon (and who are totally awesome, by the way), and I was asked how I stay motivated to run and train with being so busy. The answer is simple. Running is something I love and one of the only things that I do purely for myself; I make it one of my priorities. While I may joke about racing people on the treadmill, the one I am competing against is myself. That is what drives me to train hard. I want to do well to prove to myself that I am better than I previously thought.

Seeing myself improve so much over this past summer and fall has provided me with extra motivation, as did being chosen again as an official blogger for the marathon. While the improvements added much-needed fire, the blogging provided accountability. Those two items, in my opinion, are a recipe for success.

So, how do I train for a marathon? It starts with the mindset of no excuses. There are days when I am tired and don’t feel like running, but with a packed schedule, I need to get my runs in at a certain time, no matter how I feel. “Suck it up, buttercup!” is a good mentality to have, and I suggest you adopt it. Getting the runs in, even when I don’t want to, will help make me mentally and physically tough, which is good preparation for the punishment running 26.2 miles puts on your mind and body. To help me, I make a calendar about 4-5 months out from my marathon and plot my runs for that training period. Seeing it in writing helps hold me to it. I also am realistic in terms of training. Would I love to be able to get more miles in each week or add an extra day of running? Sure, who wouldn’t want to do that to feel better trained, but I don’t have that luxury with working full-time and being a mom to four. My typical training week consists of 2-3 short runs (3-5 miles) through the week with long runs reserved for the weekend. I prefer to get my long run in on Saturday, so I can enjoy the rest of the weekend and recover for the start of the next training week. I have used this training schedule for past half and full marathons and have found it to be successful for me.

I would be foolish to think I could train for a marathon on my own without a little help. It would be impossible for me without the help of my family and friends who are coerced into volunteer to watch the kids while I sneak in a long run. I also rely on the daycare at my gym. The kids are able to stay there for up to two hours, which is enough time for me to finish a half on the treadmill. The thing I love about this is I can watch them while I run, and I love the waves, kisses, and heart signs they give me when I am pounding out the miles. Their cuteness gives me a boost.

Lastly, I set a goal. Being a very driven and dedicated person, I absolutely hate to fail. I will work as hard as I possibly can to accomplish what I set out to do. My goal for Cleveland – a new marathon PR. I am not comfortable giving a time at this point; it’s still to early in training for that. However, I know I am completely crushing my old one, and the celebration at the end will be so very sweet.

And I will leave you with this thought…


How do you motivate yourself to run or workout?

race recap – downtown willoughby 5k


I have to begin by saying yesterday’s Downtown Willoughby 5K was a fabulous race! This was the inaugural year, and I hope that they keep this race going. Honestly, based on the response, I don’t know how they couldn’t; the race sold out! From the atmosphere of downtown Willoughby to the charity (Make A Wish Foundation) to the course to the goodies (cupcakes and 3 free drink tickets), it was hard to beat. But I will gush more later. Now on to the race recap.

My plan was to shoot for a 5K PR for this race, so I have been working on getting a little speedier. However, I am also in the throes of training for two half marathons (October 6 and October 20), and I needed to get my long run on Saturday. I went back and forth as to whether I wanted to do my long run Saturday and compromise my 5K race or run the race and get the extra miles in after. In the end, the long run won. I went to the gym Saturday morning with the kids and cranked out a 10 miler on the treadmill. I knew that if I didn’t do the run on Saturday, I would probably make some excuse to not run it later, so that PR would have to wait. It has stood for 4+ years, so what’s another, right?

Saturday was also a girls’ day out. My cousin Halle is getting married in two weeks. She didn’t want a party or a shower, but there was no way we were going to let her get out of having something to celebrate her special day. As her bridal party, we took her out on a wine tour of Geneva and had a blast! With having the race on Sunday, I volunteered to be the DD. The thought of running the next day made it easier to pass up all of that delicious vino.


The kiddles and I stayed at my parents’ house on Saturday (they were the babysitters for my Saturday excursion and Sunday race day…thanks, mom and dad!). I woke up at 6:30 because I like having plenty of time to get ready. I like to eat breakfast, get dressed (in my lucky running skirt), do my hair and make-up (this is a must for me), and just relax. Sare and Rhett came around 8:30, and we were out the door shortly after. We were able to snag a good parking spot thanks to our friend who has a law firm in downtown Willoughby. We parked and made our way into downtown.


sare and me pre-race

Raymond wasn’t able to run due to being injured, so I was very happy when he said he signed up to volunteer. We met up with him that morning at packet pick-up to say hi before doing our pre-race ritual of stretching and a bathroom break.


packet pick-up. didn’t notice when i took this pic, but that guy’s keg shirt is amazing.



pre-race with mark and marie

There were a lot of people, and even though I am not fast, I didn’t want to get lined up behind people who were walking or running much slower than me (no offense, people). I tried to work my way closer to the front but only made it about halfway there. That would have to do. After a few minutes of waiting, they started the countdown, and we were off! The first quarter mile or so was spent weaving through people who were either slow joggers or walkers or some who stopped all together. I have no problem with people who are slower, but it is a lot easier for other runners if they start farther back or stay to one side of the street. When I finally got through the sea of people I looked at my watch. Holy crap, I was in the 7 minute per mile range! I told myself that I should slow down, but I wanted to try and make up some of the time I lost earlier in the race. I kept going because I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable at that pace.

The first mile was done before I knew it, and I checked the watch – completed in 8:18. Oh my goodness, this PR thing might be possible! My quads were already starting to hurt from Saturday’s long run, but I kept going. I was thankful to see the water stop around mile 1.5 because I was hot! It sounds crazy, but I kept wishing I had my running belt with water bottles throughout the whole race. I am also horrible when it comes to dressing for the weather during this time of year. I wore a long sleeve running top and was sweating my butt off at this point. I felt a lot better after that drink and pressed on.

My body was starting to get really tired, and I was happy when my watched beeped for the second mile. 8:00 minute pace exactly – I can’t believe that I got a little faster. At this point, I knew that I was going PR unless something horrible happened. I smiled to myself at that thought. I was very thankful for that extra time cushion because I was done. My legs were sore and heavy, and when I saw the uphill stretch before the turn to the finish, I was actually worried that I might have to walk. For the first time during the race my time fell into the 9 minute range, and I started to feel a little defeated. I made it up the hill and made the turn for the final straightaway.

I tried to make my body go faster at this point, but it was having none of that. I saw the clock in the distance, and the seconds kept ticking by. I tried to muster up a sprint, but it felt like an awkward jog at best. I crossed the line with 25:19 on the clock. Even though I felt like hell, I did it – I had a new 5K PR!!! Party time for me!

After crossing and trying to catch my breath, I saw Raymond off to the side. I went up to him, and he was very surprised to see me. He wasn’t expecting me for two minutes or so, so he missed my big finish, which wasn’t a big deal to me because I am sure I looked like death. We didn’t need pictures to commemorate it. The race bibs had a QR code on the back to see your instant results. He scanned the code, and I was floored when I saw the results. Chip time 24:56, which works out to an 8:02 pace! I DID IT! I completely crushed my old PR, which was 26:40 at the Ohio City Run in 2009!

Downtown Willoughby Results

We then stood off to the side to wait for Sare and Rhett. And we waited and waited and waited. The more time that passed, the more worried I got. Poor Sare has a bum knee due to an ACL replacement and no meniscus, and it has been giving her problems lately. I thought maybe she got injured on the course and had to walk the whole thing. While we were standing to the side, we did get a chance to see my cousin who ran two 5Ks that day! Great job, Kathy! We also saw a man wearing a shirt with this sweet saying, and a pic was necessary!


the answer is a resounding YES!

Finally, we saw Rhett and her walking toward us. We missed their finish! I don’t know how this happened because we were standing right there the whole time, but we did. Turns out they were looking for us, and in the meantime, had already gotten food and water. When we checked their times online, Sare was so pleased. She also had a PR by about 30 seconds per mile! And Rhett, who never runs races, did a great job, too (they ran together). All of these PRs called for some serious celebrating!

V__FFD2While we were out enjoying our hard work, I saw Jessica, one of my blogger friends from the Cleveland Marathon who also rocked an amazing PR at the race. I really like her blog, and you should check it out. She is currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so I can’t wait to read more about that. She also gets bonus points for being a fellow Sparkly Soul lover.


if our eyes look weird, it’s because it was dark in the bar or you could say we were still pumped about our PRs!

There were only a few nit-picky things that I have to say about this race, but they were so minor to me that they didn’t impact my overall impression of this great race. The first thing would be to have more bathrooms. I think this is just a first year mistake, and a few more could have made a big difference, especially if they were put on the opposite end. The second would be to have flags or markers at each mile along the race course. With having a watch, I could monitor where I was in the race, but I heard people commenting about this as we were running. The third would be to have men’s and women’s technical shirts. I really liked the shirts that they picked, but I am swimming in a men’s small. Next year, perhaps. (Note: After writing this, we received an email from the race coordinator thanking participants. He also said that mile markers and gender-specific tech shirts are part of the plan for next year. And there will DEFINITELY be a next year!)

Okay, now back to gushing about the race. I was completely amazed at how the local community pulled this all together, and the fact this was the first year made it even more amazing to me. It was not just a race; it was an entire downtown affair with activities for the whole family! Downtown Willoughby seems to be such a close community, and it really showed with their sponsorship and coordination of this race. I was also happy that their charity was Make A Wish Foundation. I am a sucker for anything that helps children, so I loved that part of my entry fee went to this charity. Another really cool thing that they did was open an additional 100 spots after closing the race. Those runners paid $60 each to register, and the money raised from those 100 registrations funded one child’s wish. How awesome is that?!

Thank you, Downtown Willoughby, for an awesome experience. I sincerely hope you continue this race next year, and you can expect a registration from me! It’s things like this that make me proud to say I am from Lake County!


adding fuel to the fire


We all know that training will only take you so far during a marathon. A runner must be mentally and physically prepared for the challenge of 26.2 miles, and the right mindset can make or break a run. I have been thinking a lot about my brain fuel for Sunday’s Cleveland Marathon – what I will use to carry me through when things get tough or when I just need a little boost. I have a combination of things that will be on my mind during the race.

Let’s start with the positives. My kiddles. I use them for inspiration on every long run, and I always carry something that makes me think of them. For my first two marathons I wore a shirt that they decorated (with help from my mom), and my third marathon, I had a good lucky charm on my shoe. This year, I will be wearing a hair bow that they made for me…gotta look good, right? 


my very first marathon shirt – honolulu marathon 2011

Miles 2, 3, 4, and 5 are always dedicated to them (miles 1 and 25 are mine). When I am running, I think about each of them separately and what makes them special and unique. I try to remember funny things that they have said or done over the years and experiences that we’ve had. I also think about what it felt like to be in labor with them, because I know if I made it through natural labor three time, including a set of twins, I can finish this damn marathon. 


my absolutely fabulous kiddles

Another group of people that I always think of are “my fam” (Mom, Dad, Stevie, Tracy, Sarah, Rhett, Sophia, Susannah, Savannah, Mackenzie, and Raymond…he is included, too). This number has grown over the past few years, and I am happy to run a mile for each of them. They are always there for me and have supported my running endeavors.

My grandparents are a special group, and I dedicate a mile to each of them. I am fortunate enough to still have my Grandma and Grandpa Lesco, and they are one of the cutest couples I know. I just love when Grandpa refers to Grandma as his “beautiful bride” after more than 60 years together. Not too many people get to experience that much together. My Grandma and Grandpa Gielink are living happily in heaven, but they are always on my mind during a race. I miss them both terribly, but I know they are watching over me. My hardest miles (usually 22-24) are dedicated to them.

Negatives will help fuel my race, too. On Sunday, I will be thinking of those that I refer to as snakes.


They are the insidious people who slither through society, poisoning it just by existing. You know these people in your own lives. The ones who feel better about themselves by bringing down others. The ones whose egos are so big they can’t fit through the door. The ones who never quite graduated from middle school antics although they are well into adulthood or are at least old enough to be considered adults. The ones who are quick to point out others’ faults without acknowledging their own shortcomings. Why will I be thinking of them on Sunday? Because with every step I take forward, I will envision myself crushing them. Their hate makes me stronger.

What will you use as brain fuel for Sunday or another big race?