Tag Archives: runCLE

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 2017 Recap – Part 1


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!


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!



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


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.


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!

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 (running) questions and a GIVEAWAY




Let’s play a little game of 20 (running) questions, shall we? Here it goes!

  1. When did you start running?

I first laced up a pair of beat-up shoes in February 2009. I left my house wearing entirely too many layers, made it about half a mile, and thought I was going to die. But I kept running, and I’m so happy I didn’t.

  1. Where do you usually train?

I’m lucky enough to be able to train around my house. We live in a subdivision, and although it doesn’t have sidewalks, I feel safe running on the roads. Right in my backyard is a township park with an oval-shaped paved path, so the kids play while I run. I also have a membership to Planet Fitness (hey, don’t knock it! They have the best treadmills around!) and an older treadmill at home that help me get the miles in.

  1. What’s the farthest distance you’ve run on a treadmill?

22 freaking miles! It was during one of my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon training cycles. I ran it at World Gym and got many weird looks from staff and other gym-goers like, “This lady is bat-shit crazy!” And it was kinda awesome.

  1. What’s your go-to carb loading meal?

One word – CHIPOTLE!!!! My usual is a scoop of brown and white rice, chicken, black beans, mild salsa, corn salsa, and cheese. Honestly, I’m hungry just typing that.

  1. What’s your favorite distance to race?

I go back and forth between the marathon and half marathon. Just when I think I picked one as my top choice, I find another reason to love the other more. The things that lures me to both races are the mental and physical challenges.

  1. What was your first race?

St. Malachi 2-miler in March 2009. At the time, it was my longest run to date. I’m pretty sure I still have the shirt saved somewhere.

  1. What are three items you can’t be without on a run?

This one is really easy – a Sparkly Soul headband, Oiselle Mac Roga shorts, and my Garmin.


  1. Do you run alone or with a group?

I much prefer to run alone. It’s really the only time I get to myself.

  1. What do you use for fuel during a long run?

I’ve tried a lot of things. Some work for me, and some definitely don’t. My favorite run fuel is Honey Stingers Gold gel. I’ve also tried Accel Gel, and that works pretty well, too. Also, never underestimate how great honey packets are for fueling. If I’m at Chick-fil-A, I usually grab a few extra to stash in my running bag. Sorry I’m not sorry, Chick-fil-A.


  1. What’s your bucket list race?

I have dreams of someday making it to Boston, but I know that will take a lot of hard work and dedication that I can’t honestly put in right now. I would also like to run the Big Sur International Marathon because it looks beautiful.

  1. Have you ever been on a race-cation?

Yep! I ran my first marathon in Hawaii. How’s that for a kick-off to marathon running?! And I try to sneak in some running/racing when I visit my brother and sister-in-law who live near Seattle.

  1. What songs power you through a tough run?

No matter how many times I’ve heard them, “My Body” by Young the Giant, “Ten Tonne Skeleton” by Royal Blood, “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, and “Ride” by twenty one pilots always help motivate me.

  1. What’s the craziest thing you’ve had happen to you on a run?

I was attacked by a Canadian goose when I first started running, and a guy in a truck had to scare it away. I was also chased by a threesome of wild turkeys while running in Westlake. Scared the crap out of me!


  1. What’s your least favorite race distance?

5Ks are my least favorite, but I love running them with my kids. Give me a 10-miler or half marathon any day.

  1. How do you recover from a long run?

A hot bath and a cold beer! If it’s the end of a race, I love chocolate milk.

  1. What are your PRs (personal records)?

Marathon – 3:57:19 (2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon)

Half Marathon – 1:54:45 (2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon half)

5K – 23:28 (2015 Downtown Willoughby 5K)



  1. Have you sustained any injuries from running?

Knock on wood, I have been healthy for the past few seasons, but I’ve had IT band and knee issues in the past.

  1. What’s one piece of advice you would give new runners?

Running is a tough sport, but it only gets easier the more you do it. Take your time, be patient, and go at your own pace. The only person you’re competing against is yourself.

  1. If you could only race one distance, what would it be?

I would probably say the half marathon. It offers the challenge, which I love, but the training schedule isn’t as grueling as a full.

  1. How has running changed you?

Running has helped me realize I am stronger and capable of more than I thought possible. I never imagined I would run 3 miles, and now I run 26 for fun. Running has brought me confidence, friendships, and a healthy outlet for stress, and I can’t think of how my life would be without it.



Whew, that was fun! You know what else is fun? Giving away a free entry to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race of your choice, so you can be part of the 40th anniversary celebration! As an ambassador, I receive a free entry for myself and one to give away. Head over to my Instagram account (stephplusfour) and check it out! The giveaway starts today, Monday, March 6 and goes through Saturday, March 11, and there will be an opportunity to enter every day. The winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, March 12, and he/she has 24 hours to claim the prize before another winner is selected. Unfortunately, if you already registered for a CLE Marathon race, you aren’t able to win to recoup your cost, but you can run a race on another day (for example, you can run the 5K or 8K on the Saturday before the 10K, half, and full). Good luck!



we have a winner!



Thanks to everyone who entered my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race entry giveaway last week. I wish I could give all of you free entries, but unfortunately, I can’t. And the moment you have been waiting for – the winner!

Congratulations to Rachel (@ItsAHero)! 

Entry WinnerWinner

Fear not! There is still a way to run CLE for free. My friend and fellow ambassador, Melissa, is kicking off her giveaway tomorrow, but you can check out her blog today for a chance to score an extra entry (http://icrashedtheweb.com/). And, even more good news – there are still two more ambassador giveaways to go!

If you’re looking to register for any of the CLE Marathon races, there is still plenty of time. Visit their registration page and sign up! You don’t want to be the only person not running!

find your motivation


It’s takes more than a little luck to power you through 13.1 or 26.2 miles! As we near the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon races on Sunday, I’m making a mental checklist of items that motivate me, things I can recall when my legs are tired, lungs can’t breathe, and I just want to see the finish line. I feel as though I’m well-trained but go forward with trepidation, so I know I will need a little extra to get me through. Here’s the list of motivators for my CLE half marathon.

  1. My kids: they are the reason I run – to set a good example and be a healthy mom AND because as much as I love them, they drive me bat-shit crazy! With each major race, I have each of them select a mile for me to run in their honor. Sunday will be no different.
  2. My boyfriend/running partner – this has been an interesting training season without Dan running beside me. Between work commitments and battling injuries, we haven’t been able to train together. I want to run well on Sunday because it would make him proud.
  3. My family: they continue to put up with my running craziness and support me along the way. Each individual family (Mom & Dad; Stevie & Tracy; Sarah, Rhett, Sophia, and Beckett; and Susannah, Billy, Savannah, and Mackenzie) has their own mile.
  4. Myself: Damn right I’m using myself as a motivator! I’m proud to say I have been a runner for a little over 6 years and have come so far since my first run. I didn’t even make it a mile without stopping, and now I have a number of marathons and half marathons under my belt. I’ve slimmed down, disciplined myself, and pushed my body to the limits. Races are a chance to celebrate that.

And because I love motivational quotes and pictures, here are a few that I hope motivate and inspire you!

a christmas story 5K recap



Did anyone else wake up on Saturday, December 7 ready to brave the cold and run A Christmas Story 5K or 10K? Alexandra, my friend Dan, and I did! It was a great way to cap off my 2013 race season.

When I first heard about this race, I knew I had to run it. The run was to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie A Christmas Story, which is one of my fave Christmas movies, in addition to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Also, with the Christmas Story House located Cleveland, supporting a local and famous landmark was a no-brainer. Lastly, all runners would receive a leg lamp shirt and finisher medal. SOLD! Originally, Lex was not going to do this race, but our friend Susie was unable to run and gave Lex her registration (thanks, Susie!). I changed my registration from the 10K to 5K to run with Lex, and she was beyond excited to give 3.1 another go.


lex looking ultra fabulous pre-race

Lex and I woke up early on race day, dressed in many, many layers, and were out the door a little around 7:30. I was incredibly thankful for our wonderful babysitter, Katie, who came to the house to watch Annie, Cole, and Cael (and she quickly became Cole’s new girlfriend, according to him) and for Dan, who drove us to the race (you all know about Cleveland driving and me). We got to Public Square around 8:15ish and sat in the car to stay warm. The temperature read 24 degrees, and we were in no hurry to get out in the cold. Plus, Lex was already freezing her “booty” off, so we sat in the car until 8:45 and then walked to the start.


There were tons of people gathered around Public Square, ready to start the race. While I had hoped to see some of the other Cleveland Marathon bloggers, I knew it would be pretty impossible to find them in the sea of people. We moved toward the middle of the crowd in an effort to stay warm and got ourselves ready. A nice lady saw Alexandra shivering and gave her some handwarmers, which were greatly appreciated. The gun went off shortly after, and we waited. It took about 10 minutes for us to get to the start line, and then we were off and running!


ready to run

Alexandra didn’t get to train for this race due to schedule and weather, so the plan was to just run until she couldn’t and then walk. We also planned to keep the pace nice and slow to allow her to run as far as possible. The first mile came and went, and Lex was still going strong, despite running up and down the Carnegie Bridge. She even commented on how it was hard to maneuver around the walkers on the course.

WP_20131207_007 WP_20131207_009

Lex kept chugging along and showed no signs of slowing down. I kept asking how she felt and was pleased that she wasn’t tired or wanted to walk. She just kept running. Along the course, I could hear remarks about how cute she looked running (that’s my girl!) She did look pretty damn cute in her semi-ugly sweater and Santa hat. We got to the second mile, and she was feeling great. Only 1.1 miles left!

On the course, we heard someone yelling for us. We turned around and saw my cousins Kathy and John, who were also running the race. We stopped for a quick photo op and continued with the run. I had to laugh that Lex was worried about the impact the short stop would have on her time…such a runner.


Once we hit the 3-mile mark, I told her to kick it in, and she eagerly picked up the pace. It was so cute to see her weave in and out of the slower runners as she tried to sprint to the finish, and I kept yelling out words of encouragement to her. There was a bit of a bottleneck at the finish line, so she was not able to finish at a full-out sprint like she had planned. That didn’t matter, though, because she had completed her second 5K and ran the entire thing! She was beaming from ear to ear, and I was a super proud momma!


it’s a major award!!!


After we collected our fabulous finisher medals and snacks, we walked to the shuttle area to hitch our ride back to Public Square. My mouth almost hit the ground when I realized how long the line was for the buses. We took our place in line and waited…and waited…and waited. The run took us about 35 minutes, and we waited about 25 minutes for a bus, which was a real downer after all the fun we had. I was thankful that my friend Christopher found us in line because he let Lex use his race shirt as a blanket. By the time we got on, Lex was almost an ice cube, but at least she was a happy ice cube. She kept admiring her medal, which made me smile. She also commented that she can’t wait to run another 5K, but she wants to do it when it’s warmer out. Good call, Lex!


kelly and me


looking very festive with CTB

I was pretty happy with the race experience, but there were a few things that could be improved upon for subsequent years. The course got a little crazy when the lead 10K runners were making their way back from the Christmas Story House to Public Square for their finish. I felt bad for them because the course wasn’t marked to keep the 5K racers to one side, so the 10K runners had to go against traffic. I could only imagine how mad they were with this. The finish line and finishers’ area were incredibly congested with people trying to get in the gift shop, go inside the Christmas Story House, and grab finisher medals and snacks. It was just one big cluster of people that was very hard to navigate. The bright spot in this mess of people – seeing my friend Kelly! The race also advertised that there would be hot Ovaltine at the finish. There was none. While I absolutely love chocolate milk after a run, it wasn’t a satisfying replacement for Ovaltine. Lastly, the bus situation made me want to pull my hair out! Everyone was freezing, and all 5K racers had to take the buses back to Public Square for our cars. It was completely understandable that there would be long lines. The upsetting part was busses were pulling to the opposite side of the road where there was no mile long line of people, and those coming from the finish rushed the bus instead of waiting in line like everyone else. Those people proceeded to fill the seats and wave to all of us in line as they drove past. So. Unbelievably. Frustrating. But enough complaining. The most important part is Alexandra had fun and was able to run the whole race, and we were able to take part in the very first A Christmas Story run. And we didn’t shoot our eye out.


good ol’ cleveland street…