15 Races for 2015: Great New Year’s Eve Race – Race #8 & 2016 Goals!

Dec 31, 2015

Well, last race of 2015 in the books!! This is one of my favorite races to run. SARC has well organized races and this one if no exception. It is nice because you can wait inside (bonus) and they have lots of food including soup, bread, etc. I never usually eat more than a banana, but it is nice that it is offered. I had signed up for this race in like mid-January of this year because 1) I was making my plan to run 15 Races in 2015 and 2) they had a sweet hoodie and a discounted entrance fee if you registered in Jan of this year.

I was running a bit late for the race this year as I was right in the middle of cleaning my basement (such a good thing!). So I was surprised when I heard someone yell my name as I was scurrying from my car. It was Alise and Chris and their friend, Rebecca! I was so glad to see them! It is always nice to hang with people at a race, plus it was good to see them.

Pre-race selfie!
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I had just gotten my orthodics the day before so I was anxious to try them out for a first run. The run was pretty good. I felt like I gave my best effort, especially since my running the last couple of months was spotty due to my injury. I walked the one hill for just about 10-15 seconds, but I’m okay with that. My feet felt pretty good and supported with the inserts. I think any discomfort is just getting used to them. My unofficial time (from my new sweet watch) was 33:58 which is 10:56/per mile. It turns out that I came in 37/61 of females in my age group and 505/700. I feel good and happy that I am back running and that my orthodics seem to be doing the trick to help alleviate the pain.

Oh, and let me finally address the elephant in the room, so to speak. 15 Races in 2015??!! Yeah, I didn’t achieve that goal. I think I bit off more than I could chew. I started out great, but slowed down through the summer, busy with activities and vacations and then the fall was really busy with work and then finally my blasted injury in late fall. All excuses aside, I’m happy that I achieved more than half my goal with 8 races. Plus I ran 2 more races than last year! And, I went out of my comfort zone and ran a couple trail races that were absolutely freezing cold!! All that being said, I have set a different sort of running goal for 2016. I have decided to run a total of 800 miles for the year. The cool thing is that my new watch is consistent and accurate AND has a setting to track treadmill runs so I should be able to have a much accurate tracking mechanism. I’m excited to continue in my Challenger facebook running group, run by Coach Jenny Hadfield, which provides so much support and inspiration. Here are all my goals for 2016:

1. Run 800 miles in 2016. To make this I need to step up my “regular” run distance to 4 miles. This will take work, but I like a good challenge!
2. Add a home yoga practice to my yoga along with once at work and once at the studio in town. So, yoga 3x a week.
3. Make time for writing one sentence of gratitude every night in my new journal.
4. Move/organize the treadmill and yoga stuff into the new “fitness” room at home.
5. Finish and self-publish my marathon journey book that I started in 2011.
6. Eat a fruit or veggie with every meal.

Happy New Year to all!
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15 Races for 2015: Jingle Bell Run – Race #7

Sun, Dec 13

The Jingle Bell Run is always a fun one for me because my whole family gets involved and because it is for such a great organization (arthritis foundation). This year we even added the puppy dog to our team!! It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 60’s!! That was a bit different from last year’s 39 degree temps!! The Ram Fam had a team of 10 members strong this year.

Here is the original Ram Fam with Henry!
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Henry met a very cute Great Dane who was a therapy dog. Funny how small he looks compared to her! This sweet girl is a therapy dog and they love her in the hospital because she is so big she can just rest her head right on the bed!
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We saw so many dogs at this race. As you can see, dogs of all sizes are able to participate!
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This might have to be a new tradition for Henry!
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This is a pic of Marilyn coming back. Go girl!!
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Mary and MaryAnn coming in!
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Marilyn come in first in her age group!! Funny because 2 years ago, she came in 3rd and last year she came in 2nd! It was time for her to come in 1st this year. So, last year does she need to be the first woman across the finish line??!!
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Another cool medal!
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Henry was tuckered on the way home!
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Both had the same look…
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The 2015 Ram Fam!!
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Plus Mary!!
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This race was a little bit different from all my others this year. I walked most of it due to an injury (plantar fasciitis). I tried to be positive and think about how I was walking for those who couldn’t, but to be totally honest, I was pretty bummed about it. I just don’t like walking, especially when I have to walk. Hiking through the woods is different, but having to walk when others are running pretty much bites. I do have positive news to report, however! I am picking up my orthodics on Dec 30 which is just in time for the New Year’s Eve Race the next day. I’m hoping to run it or maybe run/walk it. I’m trying to be patient and remember that this too shall pass, but a runner girl needs to run, yo!

(Walking) Time: 47.33; 15:20/mile

15 Races for 2015: Buckeye 1/2 Marathon and Relay 2015 – Race #6

Sun, Oct 25

So I never thought I would do a relay. I was very salty at the relay-ers back in 2011 running my first (and only) full marathon. They would jump right into the race with fresh legs to do their 5 or 6 mile leg and just had way to much energy for me trucking along at probably mile 16 or 17 or whatever. But when Alise (JCU alum) asked me to run the Buckeye 1/2 as a relay with her a few weeks ago, I was really interested! I’m so glad she did! What a great experience this morning. It was really nice because for that distance (just a smidge longer that a 10K), there is really not a lot of long run training to do beyond what I normally do. Plus, the price was very reasonable and you could not beat the SWAG!!

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It was a beautiful morning for a run. The spitty rain petered out early and gave way to temps in the low 50’s. I almost hit a deer on my way to the race, but thankfully that was the only drama involved today! Oh, well we did have drama with the registration of our team name a little bit, but thankfully the race organizers fixed it and the JCU BlueStreaks were ready to take on the race! Alise was to run first, so after seeing her off at the starting line I made my way back to the car, via the bathroom, of course. The course was a double loop so the starting line for me was the same spot where Alise started. This was good since directions are never my strength area! I hung out in the car for just a few minutes, and before I knew it, it was time to go out and meet my partner to “pass the baton”!

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I started out with my garbage bag on me, but that lasted for about 30 seconds! I wore capris and a long-sleeved shirt and that turned out to be a perfect choice. It was the most perfect weather for running!! This is probably why I love fall races! It was a smaller race with about 800 runners, sponsored by SARC (Summit Athletic Running Club). I felt really good and strong right from the beginning. I had been running some faster runs lately so I was hoping to turn it on and do the same today! I felt good because I kept passing people! This I never usually do! People usually pass me! I wonder if there were any 1/2 haters watching me jump in all perky??!!! I came upon the 2:20 pacer group and ran with them for a bit, but then passed them! The course was great with a few hills, but nothing too bad. I booked up them with no walking! It was weird to get used to the fact that cars were on most of the course while we were running, but I think that is usual for smaller races. I felt strong and good about my pace the entire time. Coming into the finish I pushed it and for the first time ever in a race, I felt like I wanted to throw up. Luckily I didn’t!

Coming into the finish…
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I met up with Alise and her boyfriend, Chris (who got a PR for the 1/2!), and we enjoyed the post-race goodies and awards ceremony.

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We were really happy with our time! We beat my 1/2 marathon PR time by like a minute with a 2:18! Too cool!

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Even though the only time that is registered is our team time in terms of my individual time here is what my watch said my stats were:
6.4 miles, Time: 1:08:13; Pace per mile: 10:35

A medal for like a 10K? Yes, please!
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Sweet jacket!
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Great morning with great friends!

15 Races for 2015: Akron Half – 2015

Sat, Sept 26, 2015
7am – 54 degrees at the start, 65% humidity
Race 5: Akron Marathon – Half
Akron, Ohio

Well, half #7 is in the books! My training for this race was spot on. My long runs felt strong and fast. I had been committed to all of them, which was different than my experience with Cleveland in May, and was going into the race with a great attitude. That is until last Monday came and I felt a chest cold coming on. With each day it was getting a bit worse and culminated on Friday with a major cough. Ugh. At this point I dreaded lining up at the start as I wasn’t sure how I would perform not feeling my best. Since not running the race was not an option, I adjusted my expectations. Rather than preparing to get a new PR, I decided I just wanted to finish. At least that it was what Flat Lisa and I decided.

Flat Lisa
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Thankfully Mike agreed to me my roadie again so he drove us downtown. It stresses me out finding parking, etc so I’m always so glad when he is willing to drive!

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It was so fun to run into Alison Kinnear waiting in line for the potty! She was getting ready to run her first relay!

And it was really fun to have a Challenger Meet-Up pic with Carol…
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And with Jen!

Yeah, it was a good pre-race time running into people. Akron is such a well organized event even down to signs for parking.

I grabbed this really cool pic of the starting line from Akron’s website
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So I started off feeling okay. I tried not to go out to fast. My mile 3, however, I already felt like I was being depleted of energy really fast. The one bright spot was that I saw my boss in the crowd right before mile 3 cheering me on so that was really nice! I knew I could keep up a good pace through the 10K and that became my next goal. I got to the 10K mark and walked a bit up a hill. I was really hot and totally sweaty, of course, (it was humid) and I was really thirsty. I kept myself from drinking too much because I didn’t want to get water-logged. I took a GU packet at like mile 7 because I was feeling depleted. I usually wait until about mile 9, but I needed it. It helped a little. Right around 7.5 miles, I heard someone call my name. Up from behind me came Michelle, a woman I went to high school with. We had kept in touch a bit through Facebook and I knew she was a runner too. We quickly discovered the following commonalities:
1. We ran about the same pace on normal days
2. We had both run multiple halfs and had roughly the same PR time
3. We were both feeling sick and not really feeling this race

So we decided to stick together and help each other through it! We walked some, but ran most of the way into the finish. It was fun to talk a bit and get a little bit caught up with each other and comforting to have someone to lean on during this run. Every now and then I would cough and it hurt in my chest. I have to give Michelle mad props because I think she was feeling sicker than I was, but she kept going!

Michelle and I at the finish. We did it!

Home and ready for a shower!

This medal is the best of them all, so far!

The race shirt giveaway this year. It is okay. I like that it is long-sleeve, but not sure white is the best color.

Totally cool socks that we got at the finish along with our food, water, banana, etc.

Lessons learned:
1. The joy is in the journey! I had some great runs during this training cycle so I need to remember that it is not all about race day. The race is just one run: a snapshot in time.
2. The joy of friendship! It feels good to be able to rely on someone in times of trouble and also to let them rely on you. That was probably the best lesson learned from this race. Sometimes we are not at our best and it is okay to admit that and to ask for help, receive it and give it right back!

Here are my stats for this race
Time: 2:38:31 (12:05/mile) – not my slowest, however!!
5.8 mile: 1:04:46 (11:10/mile)
11.5 mile: 2:19:47 (12:09/mile)
Division: 171/252
Gender: 1705/2320
Overall: 3267/4090

15 Races for 2015: Cleveland Half – 2015!

May 17, 2015
7am – 65 degrees at the start, 97% humidity
Race 4: Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon
Cleveland, Ohio

Well, race #4 and half marathon #6 is in the books! Thank, God cause that was a rough one!! Going into this race I was under-prepared in my training. First, I had a bad chest cold this spring that caused havoc on my long run schedule for about 3 weeks so that threw me off. I ended up only getting up to 8 miles for my long runs and I was supposed to get to 11. So, I had to adjust expectations going into the race. I wasn’t planning on a PR, for sure. I just wanted to finish. Then, I saw the weather prediction for the day and *gulp*, my heart sank as I saw it was predicted to be 97% humidity that morning. Ugh.

Flat Lisa ready to go!
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I got up at 4:15am to begin the getting ready process. Mike (my roadie) said we needed to leave at 4:45am in order to get downtown and parked by 6am.

It was early!
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We parked and found MaryAnn and Tom. Pre-race selfies!
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The Q bathrooms were open so I hopped in there when we first got downtown. However, true to form I need to make another visit before the horn so I headed to the portapotties. The lines were crazy long, but I made friends.

The portapotty line took like 30 minutes!
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Thankfully I made it back to the start with 10 minutes to spare! About 5 minutes before the start we had a downpour of rain, but luckily Mike had a big umbrella and I put my garbage bag on, afterall. We all started off together, but I told MaryAnn to take off as she had trained with Tom on her long runs and I knew she could race faster than me, for sure!

I got rid of the bag before mile 1 was done. The humidity kept getting worse as the morning continued. I was glad I had worn my fuel belt just so I knew I could get access to water whenever I needed to and not have to rely on the water stops. For the first time ever I got water or powerade at every water stop. I remembered to be cautious about taking in too much water so I began to take 2 cups and dump one on my head and take two sips from the other! It worked very well! I felt much better after those little showers! I also took part in the various hoses that were along the route! Ah, what a treat. Did I mention it was bit humid? I decided at about mile 5 that I needed to make a plan for finishing this sucker. I knew that running the whole thing was probably not going to work this time given all the variables. So, I decided I would run the 10K and after that point I would switch to the run/walk program. So after 6.2 miles I ran 5 minutes/walked 2 and so forth. This felt doable. I needed to be able to commit to a plan that would get me to the finish in one piece and not crying on the side of the road!!!

Suddenly around mile 8 or 9 I got a sudden burst of adrenaline and started running normal again (and singing and clapping). Some runners commented that I had way too much energy for that part of the race!! I told then you just have to fake it!!! Then at mile 10 I crashed, had my GU packet, and focused on getting through the last 3 miles. It was all uphill on the shoreway! I did the best I could to finish strong doing the run/walk program. I wasn’t injured I was just so uncomfortable from the humidity!! I just wanted to be done and get my chocolate milk!!

I did it and I’m still standing up! That is all that counts!
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Happy girls!
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Loved the outside color of the medal this year – PURPLE!
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This year’s shirt. Not really a big fan. I don’t dig the color and I don’t understand the bars??!!
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Since I didn’t like the shirt giveaway from this year, I treated myself to a cool tank at the Expo. Very light and comfortable!!
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Lesson learned from this training cycle and race?
1. Long runs matter!!!
2. When you need to adjust your expectations to accomplish your goal it is okay to do so!!

Here are my stats:
Time: 2:41:59 (12:21/mile); My slowest time for a 1/2
10K: 1:11:34 (11:31/mile)
Division: 173/232 (bottom third of age group)
Gender: 2207/2791
Overall: 4071/4867

15 Races for 2015: Race #3: Flirt with Dirt 10K

Saturday, Feb 28
9am, -7 degrees at the start
Race 3: Flirt with Dirt 10K
Western Reserve Racing
Oak Hill Trail Head (Cuyahoga Valley National Park)

Race #3 was the toughest one yet! Another trail race in the snow! This was the longest trail race I’ve done to date and boy was I pooped! I think it was tough because I’ve been running so much on the treadmill these days because we have had such chilly weather. Plus, at lunch it is just more convenient to rip off some TM miles rather than spend 10 minutes just getting dressed properly for the weather! But my legs could really feel it during the race and my feet can feel it the day after! It is such a great workout because it feels like you are running in sand and you have to constantly balance and watch your step. I was just thankful it wasn’t icy!

Before race selfie
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My run was okay. We got there about 5 minutes before the race started, but that actually worked in our favor because we didn’t have to wait in the freezing temps very long! Marilyn and I started out together, but thankfully she passed me a mile in because she is much faster and I wanted her to run her best race (more on that later!) The first part was really tough because I had forgotten how hard it was and I had to get used to running in snow again. At the beginning I felt like everyone and their brother passed me and I got a bit discouraged about that, I’m not gonna lie. “On your left, on your left”, was all I heard. I did find myself thinking “never again” during the race – in terms of running a trail race, but eventually I found my flow. There was one gigantic hill that was nearly impossible to run so I totally walked up that. Then there were a few other times when I decided to walk for a few seconds. Trails are not treadmills – for sure!

At around the half-way point and right about the time to walk up the big hill, I noticed I was seeing white around my eyes and I figured my eyelashes were frozen with icicles. So I had to stop and take a picture! That was very strange and had never happened before! I had to document!

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There were also very beautiful parts of the course so I gave permission to take it all in and stop very briefly to snap a picture. I mean, why not, right?

Breathtaking long line of evergreens!
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Finished! With our new running friend, Julie!
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Bib and Swag
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We got a cool smart wool cap. It is pretty thin, but is deceptively warm, I think. I have some other smart wool stuff that I love, so it is a good giveaway.

I got my race time results text just then and I was floored! I ran the race in 1 hour and 27 minutes! It usually takes me between 60-62 minutes to run 6 miles. Did I mention trails are different than treads or streets?! After we talked for a few minutes with Julie I was ready to go. The post-race chill-down was happening quickly given the balmy temp of 17 degrees. I am probably more chilly after the race in those cases because of the sweat/wet factor. So we took off since both Marilyn and I still had full days ahead. Well, it turns out we should have stayed! I learned later that afternoon that my fast friend, Marilyn, won first place in her age-group!!!!!!! Yahoo!!!!!!! They will most certainly mail her her medal and gift card, but I felt badly not being there for her to accept it and cheer for her – not to mention the pic with the medal! We will just have to do a reenactment later!

Me and “fast legs” Valencia!
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So, another race in the books. Now to decide on race #4…

15 Races for 2015 – Race 2: Frostbite 5K

Saturday, Feb 7
9am, 27 degrees
Race 2 – Frostbite 5K Prediction Run
Summit Athletic Running Club
Munroe Falls State Park

Race #2 complete! I “survived” the run, but almost didn’t survive waiting for the results!

It was a pleasant day to start – sunny, with little wind. I had to get to the race early to pick up my packet on race day as I was working the night before when regular packet pick-up was scheduled. I worked a late event at work so I didn’t get into bed until 1am, but I felt pretty good at 6:30am anyways.

I’m glad I got there early because parking was a little crowded. The parking lot was also a sheet of ice which did not bode well for the race route! It was all on the road which I noticed was snow/ice covered when I drove in…hmm.

I ran into a former JCU student leader and her boyfriend at the start which was fun since I was on my own. This was a prediction run so the top 10 people who ran a time closest to their prediction time won prizes. The tricky thing about this race was that you had to predict your time when you registered rather than the day of the race so it was hard to take the weather into account (unless you were supposed to predict too!). I had guessed 33:30 for me knowing it would be on the road rather than a trail. I usually run about between 31 and 32, but that is for an even 3 miles.

The trail was a double loop with a pretty good hill and lots of ice. Everyone just tried to stay on the snow packed areas. Then one section of it was tough because it was just un-plowed snow that was turning into “sand” the more people went over it. I do like the winter races because you just don’t know what you are going to get!

I finished with an unofficial time of about 35 minutes. I glanced back at the clock quickly after I crossed the finish line. So, I was off my predicted time by about 90 seconds or so. Not too shabby!
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Finish selfie with Elise
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Here is the shelter where they were sharing the results/prizes. Notice – not enclosed! It did not take long for my sweat to begin turning me into a big Popsicle! I will say that they did provide awesome goodie bags, however. They were loaded with a cup, lid and hot chocolate mix, peanut butter crackers, mini chocolate doughnuts, and a breakfast bar! I just wanted water. I was too cold to monkey around with making the hot chocolate!
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We waited for quite awhile and then the race volunteers told us that the last runners had just crossed the finish and we would be getting results soon. It felt like forever! I kept trying to decide if I wanted to go to my car to get my blanket or not. It wasn’t too far to my car, but far enough! Plus I didn’t want to miss the results! Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I went to fetch my blanket. Much better even over my wet clothes!

Waiting…
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Waiting…but with a blanket!
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They finally got the results after some computer glitches and the top 10 people were all within like 30 seconds of their predicted time! Wow! Maybe I’ll get better if I keep doing this?! Then after the official prize giveaways they let the group loose on the prize table and everyone went away with something. I scored a long-sleeved green tech shirt, in my size and everything…sweet!

All in all it was a fun race and now I’m officially a member of the SARC! They seem like a really great organization. They do some really neat things in the community that I may look into getting more involved with – volunteering at races, group training runs, etc. Runners (and friends) are cool.

Pictures of the SWAG from the race. We got the cute scarves with our bib and the green shirt was my freebie! And a MEDAL! FOR A 5K! FIRST TIME THAT HAPPENED!!!
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DID I MENTION THE MEDAL??!!
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15 Races for 2015 – Race 1 – Dirty Snowflake Trail Race

January 10, 2015
10am, 2 degrees
Race 1 – Dirty Snowflake Trail Race – 4ish miles
Western Reserve Racing
Virginia Kendall Park Trails

Well, 10 days into the new year and I got my first race done! Wahoo!! This one was a toughy for a lot of reasons. First, I have never run a trail race before. Come to think of it, I never have even really run a trail except for the towpath which doesn’t really count because it is pretty straight and not very technical. I have hiked the Ledges trail a few times before…in the fall, but that was with no snow so this would be a new thing for me! The other challenge for this race was the temperature. We have been in a cold snap for the last week or so and the prediction was for the temp to be at 0 for the race.

This was what greeted me this morning when I got up this morning
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Gulp. My friend, Marilyn, who decided to do the race last night, and I chatted about the temp in the morning, but decided we would just go for it! Besides, like they say, there is no bad running weather, there are just ill-prepared runners! I was determined NOT to be one of those this time. I have run other races (last winter) in which I thought I was prepared, but it turns out I wasn’t as prepared as I could/should have been. So, this time I invested in a couple new items (yes, new on race day, oh no!) and the outcome was wonderful!

This is what I wore today:
1 pair smart wool socks (new and amazing!!)
Regular Nike Pegasus kicks
2 pair of leggings…1 regular and 1 cold weather on top
1 long-sleeved tech shirt
1 long-sleeved warmer shirt
My new cold weather running coat (which is seriously amazing)
1 balaclava-type thing (just goes on the neck and up the face)
1 fleece head band
1 hat
1 pair glove liners
1 pair weather proof gloves over them (new that were awesome!)

I was pretty comfortable and not cold whatsoever (toes and hands were perfect the whole time – before, during and even after!)

The really cool thing about this race was that it was a prediction race. In other words, runners submitted their predicted finishing time upon check-in. Then the 5 women and 5 men whose actual race time came closest to their predicted time were the winners – no matter what the time was! Plus, no watches allowed! For a road race this would be easier to do as the route is not technical like trails can be, but this trail was pretty technical with roots, rocks and other obstacles to dodge. My usual time for 4 miles would be between 41 and 41 minutes so I thought I would add 10 minutes on to that. My prediction was 52 minutes and my actual time turned out to be 55:34. I was off by 3:34 seconds which was not too bad for my first time and that I had never run this course before! The winning woman had only a 3 second spread and the winning man had a 4 second spread. Actually the 5th place winners had a 21 and 18 second spread, respectively. Amazing! The smart thing to do would be to actually run the course for practice, but even then things could change depending on trail conditions. Each day can be totally different.

We were so relieved that the ledge shelter was not only enclosed, but they had a fire going and a few giant heaters!

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Obligatory before race selfie

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I’m so glad Marilyn joined me today. It makes it more fun doing it with a buddy! Knowing that she was meeting me at my house helped me keep my commitment to go, in spite of that thermometer! Plus it is neat that we could share this amazing experience! And I’m SO glad I did it. We did not actually run together – she has crazy fast legs, but hey, my motto is always “your race, your pace”!

The trail was breathtaking today. I snapped 2 quick pictures towards the beginning when the crowd bottle-necked, but of course it just doesn’t do it justice.

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It was so quiet on the trail and quite a different experience than on the road. The woods looked totally untouched and absolutely beautiful that it is hard to put it into words. I did sort of wish that I could snap my fingers and be all alone on that trail, even if just for 5 minutes, so I could really take it all in. Once the group spread out a little bit I did find myself “alone” and with a little bit of space and it was so peaceful with only the sound of my breathing and the crunching of my feet on the snow. It was also REALLY nice to be free from a watch and any sort of distance or time marker. Just run. Wonderful. I could really dig this. It was a great workout and fun to have to watch to dodge obstacles. It made me forget about the cold!

We survived! Now for coffee and baked beans! Yes, they served steaming hot, baked beans! Hey, why not?!

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Bib and Bling – I’m going to take a pic of my big and bling from each race just because.

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For those keeping track at home – Race 2 is planned for Sat, Feb 7 – Frostbite Prediction Run (5K)at Munroe Falls Metropark. I am already registered! Maybe I should run this one ahead of time! I do have 15 races planned out (and yes, on an Excel spreadsheet), but some are not in stone yet. I’m allowing for some flexibility within the plan. The only thing I know for sure is that there will be 15 races (or more) in 2015. Oh and it will be fun!