Tag Archives: marathon

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 2017 Recap – Part 2

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If you haven’t had a chance to read Part 1 to my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Recap, check it out, so you know what’s going on 🙂

Sunday, May 21 was a day I had been looking forward to for the past year, give or take. I was going to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon – my 5th CLE Marathon and 7th overall marathon to date. I’ll admit I was nervous going into the race because I felt I was not as well training as I was last year when I set my marathon PR. However, I felt pretty confident I could run a good race, relatively speaking.

The alarm was set for 4:15AM. I like to get up early, eat, put on my makeup (yes, I wear makeup to run), and have plenty of time, so I don’t feel rushed. Plus, I knew I had to look semi-decent because I was meeting up with Branson Wright from The Plain Dealer for an interview pre-race. They contacted the Marathon to do a profile on a runner, and my Marathon friends passed along my name. Dan was not having a good morning, but I figured it was his usual pre-race issues just magnified a little. He kept saying he felt sick and that it was not going to be a good morning. I felt so bad for the guy!

We arrived at the start at Quicken Loans Arena at 6:00AM and found Branson. I did a little interview with him, which was actually a lot of fun and much less nerve-wracking than I expected. I found it easy to talk about why I loved the Marathon so much, what it meant to me, and why I run. After the interview, we had a little time to chill and visit with friends before the race. That is always one of my favorite things to do pre-race because it instantly puts me in a good mood and calms my nerves.

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me, Melissa, Sara, Pam, Jess, Stephani, and Jamie

After the photo ops, I made my way to the start. I planned to line up with the 4:00 pace group and hang with them throughout the race. After a beautiful National Anthem and the special announcement of “Jack Staph Day,” it was go time! I took a deep breath and began my journey of 26.2 miles…but not before taking this absolutely ridiculous starting line picture. Thanks, MarathonFoto, for capturing my complete cheesiness!

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The start was much more congested than I thought it would be, and I couldn’t help but think I started too far back. Being short is unfortunate at races because you easily get lost. I must have run ahead of the 4:00 pacers without knowing it, but when I saw the 3:55 group, I figured I would hang with them a bit and see what happened. The pace felt pretty good, and I was having fun. I have to admit I even loved the hill around mile 4. The motivational signs the Marathon posted were hilarious! I also LOVED seeing my sole sister and fellow Ambassador, Jamie, along the course. Jamie is one badass running chic who is battling back from an injury, so she didn’t run this year. Seeing her really lifted my spirits.

I hung with that pace group until about the half marathon mark. With the congestion at the beginning, the pace was a little too slow, so to get in on time, the group picked it up to a pace I wasn’t quite comfortable with for that many miles. So I dropped back and ran by myself, which was not a big deal at all. That’s how I train anyway. I did meet an awesome lady in a pink tank and we kinda ran together for a lot of the remaining miles. I wish I caught her name because she helped me when I started to struggle near the end. Pink tank top lady, if you are reading this, THANK YOU!

I felt like everything was going pretty well for me and I was going to come in under 4 hours until I hit about mile 21-22. Then the damn leg cramps kicked in. My left leg above my knee locked up, and I had to stop, rub out the cramps, and walk. Then, my foot cramped in my shoe, and holy hell, did that hurt! I felt pretty defeated at this point and wanted to cry, but I held myself together because I knew there weren’t many miles left. For the remaining miles, I tried to run as much as I could before the cramps started again. I would get about .75 mile in, and the legs would lock up, forcing me to walk. Looking back, I didn’t walked all that much, but it felt like an eternity when it happened. Pain train for sure!

When I hit mile 25, that finish was so damn close! I mustered every bit of energy left in my body to run those last 1.2 miles. It was slower than I wanted, but I was able to run it all. Seeing the people lining the finish as I made my way into the city definitely gave me a boost, and before I knew it, the finish line was in sight! A-freaking-men!!!!!

I knew my family (Mom, Dad, Sarah, Rhett) were going to be at the race, so when I came in for the finish, I looked for them to no avail. But I saw Dan at the finish and didn’t think anything weird of it. I just figured he was part of The Plain Dealer’s story, or maybe I was delirious after 26+ miles. I crossed the finish line, threw my hands in the air in celebration, and stopped my watch (don’t worry, people who didn’t think I stopped it; I did!). AND THEN I SAW HIM DROP TO ONE KNEE!!!! Holy shit, is this really happening?! Yes, it was. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes! And it only seemed fitting that he asked at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon since we trained together for that race in 2014 and have been a running team ever since. Between the crying and buckling legs, we celebrated at the finish, and little did I know, it was all caught on camera. Dan had been planning this with the CLE Marathon staff since freaking January, and when The Plain Dealer contacted them about doing a story on the runner, they had just the person.

Once I could kinda wrap my head around what just happened at the end of this race, I saw my family, Dan’s family, my sister Sarah and her husband Rhett, and our friends Andrew, Brittany, Ryan, Jess, and Jamie standing around us cheering and smiling. I was so thankful they were there for this moment! I love you all.

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holy crap, I’m getting a husband!

So just like that, I’m an engaged lady! My phone was going crazy after the race with calls, texts, and social media well-wishes, and when I went into work on Monday, I was like a pseudo celebrity. Most people had already seen the video on social media or the news, so I was popular that day. I’ve been asked the usual questions – Do you have a date? Have you picked a venue? Do you have a dress? Have you thought about a honeymoon? Honestly, no, we haven’t. We are going to enjoy this time in our lives and think about planning a little later.

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race bling…and a ring

Now comes the part for some thank-yous. Here it goes.

  • Dan – thank you for the amazing proposal and for loving me. I don’t make it easy at times. I love you and look forward to our life together. Guess it’s time to change that single mom part of the blog J
  • CLE Marathon Ambassadors – you are wonderful, and I am glad we got to be part of this together. I am thankful for your support and friendship. You are my running family.
  • CLE Marathon staff, especially Jack, Ralph, Joan, and Kayla – I think the world of you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent your race. Also, sending a huge THANK YOU for helping Dan with the proposal. I don’t see how that can be topped.
  • Mom, Dad, Rick, Lori, Sarah, and Rhett – I am so glad you were there for our big day! The weather was bad, but having you there was perfect. Love you.
  • Readers – whether you are family, friends, or people I have never met, thank you for following my journey and reading my posts. A blog is nothing without its readers.

AND…if you’re interested, you should check out some of the videos/articles about the proposal.

http://www.cleveland.com/ohio-sportsblog/index.ssf/2017/05/cleveland_marathon_2017_weddin.html

http://fox8.com/2017/05/21/bling-video-captures-sweet-proposal-at-rite-aid-cleveland-marathon-finish-line/

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 2017 Recap – Part 1

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Every year, I look forward to Marathon Weekend! It’s practically a holiday in my house, like Christmas, and this was the fifth year I have taken part in the festivities as a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. Simply put, being an Ambassador is freaking awesome, and I am beyond grateful for the experience.

The weekend kicked off with the VIP Reception at the Arcade on Friday night after a quick stop at the Expo to pick up packets for Saturday and Sunday’s races. I was happy that although we were there only a short time, I had a chance to swing by Jill and Brian’s booth where they were promoting their books. Yes, everyone, I have not one but TWO Ambassador friends who are badass authors! How sweet is that? You should check them out!

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As Ambassadors, we are used to seeing one another in various forms of running/athletic clothing, but damn, do we clean up nicely when the occasions arise!

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CHEESE!

Plus, Dan and I get a chance to get all fancy for a night. We don’t have an opportunity to do this often.

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The food, beverages, and desserts (especially the desserts) were fantastic, but being able to visit with my friends was so much better. We are not just Ambassadors for the Cleveland Marathon; we are a running family. AND families like to celebrate together, so it was extremely fitting Melissa’s boyfriend Chad proposed to her on the steps of the Arcade at the reception with all of us around! It was beautiful, and if anyone deserves to be happy, it’s that girl! She is thoughtful and caring and one of the nicest people I know. I cried it was so wonderful! It was also a special night for Jack Staph, Executive Director for the Marathon and a man who has my utmost respect, as he was given an award by the City of Cleveland that night. Congrats, Jack and Melissa! It was a big night for you and well deserved!

Saturday morning was my first race of the weekend. I use the term loosely because I don’t really race it. I’ve managed to sucker encourage my family into walking the 8K with me as part of the Challenge Series. My parents have been good sports over the years, and my sister Sarah was added to the mix this year. I met them that morning at Public Square, and since Debi was participating in the 8K too, she became an honorary family member that day. I though the plan would be for us all to walk together, but my dad told me he had different plans. See, he had a goal in mind for the 8K, and it involved running! No complaints here! We made our way to the corrals, chatted and posed for pics with my awesome Ambassador peeps, and were ready to race. I will let you know that until you line up at the start with my dad, you will never have any idea how freaking hilarious he can be. Trust me, just try it.

The gun went off, and Dad and I were running through the streets of CLE! Legit running for the first half mile! I was super proud of him.

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mid-run selfie was required

We walked for a little bit, ran for a little bit, and talked the whole time. I really loved having this experience with my dad because we don’t get as much time together as I would like. We were making really good time as the miles clicked by. I could tell he was getting a little tired, but he kept going. And let me tell you, when we were running, Dad was fast! Like mid-8:00 pace fast, and the guy never freaking runs! As we made our way back toward Public Square, we heard the drum of John Adams and kicked it in gear. We crossed the finish line in 1:00:19! I was beaming, but I know Dad was a little bummed. He really wanted to finish under an hour, but goodness sake, it was a great run! Not too many people can say they are able to finish an 8K (albeit a little short) in an hour, especially if they have not trained for the event. Way to go, Dad!

After we finished and grabbed some goodies, we went back to the finish line to watch Mom, Sarah, and Debi but not before I had a chance to introduce my dad to some of the great CLE Marathon staff who have become my friends over the years. Some awesome people right there! Shortly after we made it to the finish line, we saw the crew power walking their hearts out and cheered! They finished a lot quicker than we expected and were proud of them for completing the course.

After a little finish celebration and pictures, the fam and I went to the Expo for a bit. After they left, I chatted it up with Ryan and Jess (two of my favorite and most-respected runners), shopped the vendors, visited Brian and Jill again, and went back to the room to crash for a bit until Dan was back from work. I knew Sunday was a big day, and I needed all the rest I could get for the marathon. Little did I know it would be bigger than I expected. More of that in Part 2!

my cle marathon history

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If you’re like me and counting down the weeks until we run CLE, you’ll know that we are just about 7 weeks from the big day! The time is flying by, and race day will be here before we know it. At least we are finally moving from winter to spring and getting some nice weather for outdoor training. I’m pretty much over the treadmill.

Over the last two or so weeks, I started thinking about my experience with the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. It goes deeper than the 5 years I have been an ambassador. Here’s a little Cleveland Marathon by the numbers.

2009: This was the first year I participated in a RACM event. I was fresh into running, having just started in February, and wanted to dip my toes into something besides a 5K. A friend at the time was running the half, so I tagged along with her to run the 10K. I felt nervous and out of place around all of these people who looked like “real runners.” That feeling went away quickly after I started running and kept receiving words of encouragement from the participants and crowd alike. I crossed the finish line in 1:02:08. This race lit a fire under my butt to run longer.

2010: To date, this is the only year I have not participated in some fashion. Personal life got in the way, and I actually took a break from running.

2011: My very first half marathon, a running milestone! This was also one of the first races where I felt confident in my training. I was by no means fast, but I was consistent and ready. I had a feeling of euphoria when I hit the 11.5 mile mark with not having run anything farther than that before. It was like venturing into uncharted territory. My legs felt great, I wasn’t tired, and I didn’t have to walk. The only thing that took away from my happiness was a dreaded bathroom break around mile 12. I should have known this was a foreshadowing of things to come in CLE. Finish time – 2:17:45

2012: This was the year I ran my very first Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! (I completed my first marathon in Honolulu in December 2011) I won a free race entry from Jessica McCartney, and I thought, “What the hell?!” With a free entry I might as well go big. I had some IT band and knee issues during training that set me back a bit, but I felt like I was up for the challenge of 26.2 miles. Unfortunately, my stomach had other plans. Everything felt pretty good aside from the warm weather, but once I hit the half split, I was a hot mess. I can honestly say I hit up every single port-o-potty from the halfway point to the finish and made my way through the miles with a run-walk combination. Each step was a struggle, and I cried when I hit the finish line, thankful to be done. That was 5:22:22 on the pain train.

2013: I couldn’t let my absolutely awful race in 2012 break me, and I wanted redemption in 2013. This was also my first year as a RACM ambassador (official blogger back then), so I joyfully signed up for the full again. Training was going well, and I was getting faster. Impinged fat pads slowed me down a bit during training, and I went to the start line feeling a little unprepared. Although super hot, the race went well for me…until the damn second half when stomach trouble reared its ugly head. Although not as bad as the 2012 race, it still slowed me down, and I remember crying on the course. I thought I had this under control but apparently not (it would take until the next year for me to get smart and take Imodium before the race). I finished in 4:49:20, not as well as I had hoped but a whole hell of a lot better than the year before.

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2014: My 3rd attempt at the CLE marathon and Dan’s first. We trained together for this race. I needed him to help me get faster, and he needed me because I had marathon experience. On race day, the weather was cool and crisp, and I was well prepared for this race both mentally and physically. Miles clipped by, and this was the first time I made it past the halfway point without a bathroom break! This was also the first time running 26.2 miles where it felt, if I dare say, easy, and this was probably my most enjoyable race to date. I crossed the finish in 4:24:52 with a leap across the line and a smile on my face! 2014 was also the first year I tried something new and added a race on Saturday. My parents, Dan, and I walked the 5K, and I loved that even though my parents are not runners, they still participate and support me.

2015: Again a CLE ambassador, my plan was to run the full, but I switched down to the half before race day. No worries, I suppose. On Saturday, I ran the 5K with all four of my kids. Yes, ALL FOUR…even my daughter who hates running. They all had a great time and liked getting medals and snacks at the end. On Sunday, I lined up for my second CLE half marathon, which made me laugh considering I had run the full three times already. Everything was going well, and for me, I was running fast. I ran out of steam a little near the end, slowing down a bit, but I still managed to run a race I was proud of. 1:55:54 and it was my first time running a long distance race under a sub-9:00 pace. PR party for me!

2016: The. Most. Cleveland. Race. Ever! The terrible weather conditions started on Saturday when my absolutely awesome parents joined me in the wind, rain, and cold for the 8K/5K. Dad and I walked the 8K, running at times because that’s how he does it, and Mom and our family friend Julia walked the 5K. I remember just about crying to my dad that I put in so much work training for the marathon to have it derailed by weather. He told me to just go out and do my best. And that is exactly what I did. My plan was a sub-4 hour marathon. I had quite a few people tell me it would not be possible, and I kept using that as fuel when the weather got worse and my legs got tired. I ended up having to walk for a hot minute on the dreaded Shoreway, but through my happy tears, I mustered the remaining leg strength I had to cross the finish in 3:57:19. I did it! My first sub-4 hour marathon!!!!

So what will 2017 bring? I was dragging my feet a bit with signing up. I knew I was planning to run the full marathon but as undecided about the Challenge Series. Mom and Dad agreed to walk with me again, so that made my decision easy. Full Marathon/8K Challenge Series it is! I’m trained up to 18 miles and feel pretty good about where I stand with my training cycle. It’s true I was better prepared last year, but I don’t feel as though I am too far off. As much as I want to run CLE all out and see how fast I can go with the new course, I need to play it smart with having the Green Jewel 50K about 3 weeks later. An injury in CLE means no ultramarathon, which is a bucket list item for me. For the next 8 weeks. I need to remain focused, continue to get my training runs in, and step up my nutrition game. Seven more weeks. We’ve got this.

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do something that scares you

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I’m sure you’ve heard that if you want to conquer a fear and grow as a person, you need to do something that scares you. Something, anything. Just do it, as Nike says. Well…I did something scary and exciting and crazy, something that has been a bucket list item for a few years now. I registered for my first ultramarathon – the Green Jewel 50K on June 10! If you’re wondering what’s an ultramarathon, it’s anything over the 26.2-mile distance in a standard marathon (haha as if 26.2 miles could ever be considered standard). Fifty kilometers (31.068 miles) is like the gateway drug, the first foray to ultramarathoning, and I’m jumping in.

I’ve been eying this race for the past 2 years, but there have been a few reasons why I never pulled the trigger. One was the timing. The race had been held in March, which fell during a really bad time in my training cycle. There was no way I was remotely close to being trained up enough to run this race. Not even close. The other was weather because March can be so damn unpredictable. Cold, wind, and rain? No thanks. Throw schedules and family commitments into the mix, and it just didn’t work.

The racing gods were looking out because the date changed from March to June. I will already be trained up because of running the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on May 21. It’s also on a weekend the kids are with their dad, and we have no family commitments on the calendar! Win, win, win, win!!!! The only thing left to do was register. As I typed in my information, my heart raced. Could I do this? Am I able to run that far? What if I fall apart at mile 27? Would I fail miserably? Then I told that negative voice in my head to shut the hell up, clicked the register button, drew a long breath, and smiled. Thirty-six sounds like a great year to be even more badass.

Have you ever run an ultramarathon? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom?

kick-off to marathon training!

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The new year breathes fresh life into my running, and I couldn’t be happier! I have the pleasure of yet again being an ambassador for the hometown race I love – the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! This is my fifth year (wow…I can’t even believe that as I typed it) as an ambassador, and it’s exciting as well as humbling. Part of me can’t believe people still want to read about my journey, but I’m thankful that you do. I’m also extremely appreciative of the race and its staff for allowing me another year to share my stories, help to motivate others, and promote this great race. If you’ve followed my blog in the past, you know I can’t say enough about everyone who work hard to make the Cleveland Experience the best possible. Each year gets better and better, and I know this will be no exception. This year is also the 40th anniversary of the Cleveland Marathon, so let’s celebrate!

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So…the big question for this year – what race am I running? There’s absolutely no freakin’ way I’m running anything besides the full marathon! I love everything about it – the training, the time commitment, the euphoria, the pain, and the wonderful accomplishment of crossing that finish line. That is something that can’t be taken away. And how can I pass up the marathon on the 40th anniversary?! Last year, I did the Challenge Series (8K on Saturday and marathon on Sunday), but I think I’ll stick to one race this year. The only way this will change is if my family wants to walk the race with me on Saturday (Mom and Dad…hint, hint).

Training kicked off in earnest this past weekend with the Kick-Off Run at Fleet Feet in Pepper Pike. It was quite a haul for us, but it was totally worth it to see my running friends, fellow ambassadors, and race staff. The arctic temperatures did nothing to deter the runners! We Ohio runners are a tough bunch, and hell, we survived “The Most Cleveland Race Ever” – the 2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! Sleet, rain, snow, hail, wind, thunder, and lightening have nothing on us!

If you missed the Kick-Off run last weekend, there’s still another chance this weekend. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and Fleet Feet Westlake are hosting the second kick-off run at 9:30AM on Saturday, January 14. Here’s more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/659262447578466/

Where do I go from here? Well, I’m in a pretty good position going into marathon training. I ran my second fastest and third sub-2 hour half marathon during the Santa Hustle in December. I needed that race to boost my confidence going into my training cycle, and it certainly did. Speed-wise, I’m not quite where I want to be, but I think that will come. If you’re wondering what kind of training plan I follow, the answer is the Stephanie Plan. I’ve found training plans are a little too restrictive for my life and leave me anxious. I know which runs need completed each week, and I fit them in around work and family life. It’s not going to win my any races, but it allowed me to run my best marathon ever. As far as races go, I have two on the calendar – the Lake Health Running Series 20 Mile Drop on April 23 and Brokeman’s 20/20 on April 30. I truly enjoy both of these, and they come at the perfect time during my training cycle. I highly recommend them if you’re training for the marathon. They are also perfect training runs if you’re running the half because both offer shorter distances. Lake Health Running Series offers the 10 Mile Drop, and Brokeman’s has a 20K option.

Looking for a little motivation to get you through training? Look no further than my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon ambassadors! Our team is made of speedy runners, slower runners, middle-of-the-pack runners (like me!). We have people running the full marathon, half marathon, and 10K. Some are gunning for a Boston qualifier. Others are looking to beat their personal best. Then there are some coming back from injuries and will be ecstatic to cross that finish line regardless of time. I believe no matter who you are, there is at least one ambassador you can look to for motivation, tips, and laughs. Check them out; they’re awesome! Also, did I mention each week a different ambassador will be giving away a free entry to a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race of your choice?!

Good luck and best wishes with your training, and I look forward to sharing more with you!

WHAT RACE(S) ARE YOU TRAINING FOR THIS WINTER AND SPRING? ARE YOU RUNNING CLEVELAND, AND IF SO, WHICH RACE?

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it feels good to be back!

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2016 CLE marathon

If you haven’t heard the fabulous news by now, I was welcomed back by the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon as an Official Ambassador for their 2016 race! I’m joined by 13 of my absolutely awesome ambassador friends from last year, and we welcomed two new ambassadors, who are just as awesome in my opinion. This is my fourth year as a race ambassador/official blogger for the race, and I couldn’t be more proud. I again get to train for and run the race I love in the city I love and share my experience with you. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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Some of the 2015 crew before the race (Jamie, Debi, Andrew, me, Melissa, Jessica, Jill, and Stephani)

This year, I’m tackling a new adventure in CLE with the Challenge Series. It consists of participation in a race on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I signed up for the 8K and Full Marathon Challenge! For the past two years, I have participated in a race on both days (the 5K and full in 2014 and 5K and half in 2015), but there wasn’t a formalized challenge for it until this year. On top of that challenge, I’m gunning for a huge PR in the marathon – sub-4 hours – which would mean shaving off nearly 25 minutes from my current best. Crazy, I know. It’s going to require some hard work, determination, and perseverance, but it’s not impossible. Over the past two years of running, I’ve improved quite a bit, and I think I have this in me. I guess we shall see in May.

With such lofty goals comes a new training plan. In the past, my main goal was to finish the marathon period or finish without walking. Training consisted of a long run on the weekends and 2-3 shorter runs during the week but no real speed work and no crosstraining. I’m sure racing fanatics and marathon purists are screaming at me for not doing those. I know that won’t cut it when I’m actually trying to hit a goal time. Speed work, hills, and crosstraining will become part of my training regiment, whether I like it or not. To help with my accountability and tracking, I received a running journal for Christmas, which I have already put to us. It allows me to track workouts during the week and plan for upcoming weeks. It was quite possibly the smartest gift I received this year. I’m also thankful to have the other ambassadors on this journey with me. I know I can count on them for advice and support, and they also help with the accountability piece. We are a team, and we are all in this together!

I look forward to sharing my experience with you over the upcoming months. Cleveland is going to be a wild ride! Best wishes on a successful training season, and I’ll see you at the starting line!

I want to know – which Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race/races are you running this year?

goodbye, 2015! hello, 2016!

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Holy crap! That year went fast!!! 2015 is nothing but memories now, and we are moving full speed ahead into 2016 with as much busyness and craziness as we had last year. It seems like I don’t have time to catch my breath sometimes, but it’s not all bad. Honestly, I thrive on being busy. The thought of sitting at home to watch a Netflix marathon is horrible to me; I would much rather be active doing something, anything. Even cleaning the house takes a front seat to couch sitting.

If I could describe 2015 in one word, it would be stressful. This seemed to be a theme in all aspects of life, and I’ve excited for a new year. That doesn’t mean that some absolutely awesome things didn’t happen in 2015. I choose to focus on those below and leave the craptastic things in the past.

On a personal note, Dan has officially put up with our family/me for two years, and yes, he deserves a medal for that. We are not an easy bunch to live with, and that’s putting it lightly. He started as a running friend and for some crazy reason that I have yet to understand, decided he would stick around. Thank you. I love you.

Running wise, I kinda kicked ass in 2015, even though I didn’t take part in a lot of races. I set not one but 3 personal records – a 10 mile PR at the Hermes Cleveland 10 Miler in April (1:25:09), a half marathon PR at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in May (1:54:45) and a 5K PR at the Downtown Willoughby 5K in September (23:28). Hell, I even placed in my age group at the Willoughby race, and there were a LOT of people in my age group! I had the great privilege of being a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador with the most amazing group of people. We started January 2015 as ambassadors and ended as friends. I was so thankful to have all of them in my corner supporting me along the way. I also tried something new – a marathon relay as part of the Akron Marathon – with a group of my CLE marathon friends and Dan, honorary CLE ambassador. Team #ShareCLE was one of the highlights of my year because it brought many us together again doing something we all love. We also had a chance to support other CLE friends who were running either the marathon or half.

As far as work goes, I accomplished my most important work project to date – leading a team to submit all of our documentation for public health accreditation. Think of it as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for health departments. In December 2014, we submitted our application, and we were able to start uploading documents in May 2015. In exactly 7 months, my team and I worked to finalize all of our documents to help meet the hundreds of requirements. Everything was sent off on December 22! We still have a ways to go before we hear our decision on accreditation, but we are hoping the outcome is a positive one. More stress to come on this as we prepare for the site visit in spring/summer.

The kiddles have grown and have become their own little people. I think they learned a few life lessons this year (at least I hope they did) and possibly gained a little more respect for the people who love them and take care of them. It was not an easy year, more of a learning experience. And as mad as I get at them for some of the crazy things they pull and way they act, I think they know that no matter what, I love them and will take care of them.

Looking forward to 2016, I have some exciting things ahead of me. I was graciously asked to be an ambassador again for the 2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! This will be my fourth year, and I am proud and thankful to represent this great race and organization. That being said, I have some running goals to crush. This year, I am participating in the new Challenge Series where I will run an 8K on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. AND I am gunning for a sub-4 hour marathon, which would be dropping nearly 25 minutes off my current PR. Crazy, I know, but I love a good challenge. It gives me something to work for, and I always run better with a lofty goal. There is a quote that says, “Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.” I will be thinking of this as I embark on my training plan.

I also want to be the person who leads my health department to accreditation. This is a huge deal for me, both personally and professionally. We should expect to hear the decision in fall 2016. I have faith in my health department and the team who put in the time and effort to get us this far. We just need to make it to the end of the journey.

As we start another trip around the sun, I want to say good luck and best wishes! Hope this is a great year for you!