Friday Five: Running Songs

A little over one week out from my next race, and while I don’t listen to music when I train, I love racing to music! So for this week’s Friday Five, I’m sharing my 5 Favorite Songs to Listen to while I Run! These songs have me head bobbing, singing, dancing, and just all-around happy during any race.

1. Thunderstruck (AC/DC). If you’ve never run Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon, then you may not understand how motivating this song can be. When I’m approaching the finish line or anytime I need a little extra pick me up, I play this (sometimes on repeat).

2. Hells Bells (AC/DC).  This takes me back to the adrenaline-pumping during a college football game.

3. Something I Need (OneRepublic). If you ever see me on a race course and I’m singing, it’s most likely to this pub song because it begs you to sing along to it.

4. Juice (Mekka Don). This song has come on during shuffle a few times as I approached a finish line, and there I am running and head bobbing along. It gets you moving and motivates me like is game day.

5. Shattered (O.A.R.). As a graduate of The Ohio State University, I have a soft spot in my heart for O.A.R. This is definitely not as heart racing as my previous song selections, but this song makes me smile and is like my love song to running because no matter how I feel I always turn around and come back to it.

What songs are on your race playlist?

Friday Five: Gym Bag

In today’s Friday Five, I dive into my gym bag to share with you what I carry. Even though the winter months are over, and I (hopefully) have little need for a treadmill, I still keep a gym bag packed and ready to go just in case.

1. Lock and Key. It’s against gym etiquette, and down right inconvenient, to carry your bag with you from each piece of equipment as you workout. But Locker Rooms are prime target areas for thieves. To keep my belongings safe, I use a lock on my locker and make sure I keep one packed so I don’t forget it!

2. Headphones. I don’t often run with headphones, but to drown out the gym noise, headphones are a must. Regardless of whether I’m on the treadmill or if I’m lifting, I like to focus and avoid distractions and headphones are the universal gym sign for “leave me alone.”

3. Extra Socks and a Headband. While I don’t keep a whole outfit in my gym bag, I have (on more than one occasion) grabbed a shirt/tank, shorts and bra, but forgotten socks. For this reason I keep a pair (or two) of socks in my gym bag for that very reason. I also keep a few headbands because gyms tend to be obnoxiously hot and it helps keep the sweaty hair out of my face.

4. Deodorant. Nothing is more unpleasant than stinking up a storm while you sweat it out in a hot gym. I like keeping a spare stick of deodorant in my gym bag to apply before (and after) my workout.

5. Plastic Bag. I don’t like stinking up my gym bag with my workout gear, so in the event I need to change clothes, I keep an old race gear check bag in my gym back to use for my dirty laundry.

What do you keep packed in your gym bag?

LA Marathon: Race Recap

LA was my 4th (fourth-that’s right) full marathon in less than 11 months; this doesn’t take into account that I ran an ultramarathon in December 2015. That’s a heck of a lot of running, for me. I know there are marathon maniacs that are practically running a race every weekend but that’s not my life. I’ve taken a few days (okay a week) to process my LA Marathon race experience. I’ve already recapped some of the usual pre-race things such as the Expo in last week’s Friday Five which can be found here. So let’s get into discussing Race Day!

Wake-up: I slept very well and woke up before my alarm at 2:30am. I prefer having some time to relax, drink my coffee and eat breakfast, instead of sleeping in then having to rush.

Weather: Leaving my hotel I noticed that it was cool (55 degrees F), and a bit humid (around 90+%). I wore a pair of throw-away sweatshirt and sweatpants, plus my Oiselle Pom Hat.

Goals: I didn’t have any to be honest. I hoped I could break 4 hours, so I started with the 4:00 pacer. But I knew that my training period had many rough spots, so enjoying the course was my primary goal.

Shuttle: I was scheduled for a 4:30am shuttle from Downtown Santa Monica, but I arrived early around 4:10am and boarded a bus immediately. Approaching our exit for Dodger Stadium, we realized the exit was closed by CHP, so we were diverted to the general traffic entrance. Once arriving, we were turned around by traffic control. Many people on our bus were not very happy about this and a few wanted off the bus right there. It was barely 5:00am so we had plenty of time, and there really was no reason to stress (yet). I was sitting inside Dodgers Stadium by 5:15am.

Start Line: There was a lot of room at Dodgers Stadium, plenty of bathrooms, and free bananas, water bottles AND Clif Shot Bloks, which was perfect because I accidentally forgot to remove my second breakfast from my gear bag before checking it after I applied my body glide and sunscreen.

Mile 1-5: Within the first ¼ mile we were so bottlenecked we were walking. Within the first ½ mile men were breaking off to the trees for a potty stop. Our first mile overall was a wee bit slower than a 4 hour pace, but it was comfortable. Besides that first mile and sometimes at water stations, the course wasn’t very congested; you looked ahead and it was a sea of runners, but there was always sufficient elbow room thankfully. For this race I actually turned off auto-lap on my Forerunner 230, and manually lapped myself each mile marker to get a more accurate mile-by-mile split times; I only forgot three times because that’s how quickly this race flew by despite how slow I was running/walking. I knew there were some rolling hills but I underestimated these inclines (I should’ve driven the course!) and that’s saying a lot from someone who has run the Flying Pig (Cincinnati) and Pittsburgh Marathons! Mile 2 was my second fastest mile of the day at 8:44, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable; the pacer did slow down to a 8:58 for Mile 3, but as we hit Mile 4 I lost them because of the Hill. This was also the start of walking the water stations to allow my legs a minute of recovery.

Mile 6-10: I wasn’t quite hitting 4 hour splits, but I was happy with my pace. I had decided to walk inclines to save my legs because let’s just admit it now, I wasn’t in the best shape for this course. Around Mile 6, we passed Echo Park Lake. At Mile 9 I stopped for a potty break. I was also on the border of being too thirsty and worried that I would be overhydrating in the weather. It was sunnier than expected and I was regretting not wearing a hat. I was still pretty positive at this point, but a bit sad that the course was going by too fast and I was certain I was missing some touristy type sights.

Mile 11-15: Around Mile 11, I ran passed Hollywood & Vine, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I was excited to see these landmarks because I felt certain I had missed them. I don’t remember where it was on the course, maybe somewhere around here, but you get an amazing view of the Hollywood sign. Just as with Detroit, most of this part of the race was a bit of a blur; although I was in a much better place physically and mentally than Detroit. I think during this part was when Jen from NYC passed me, and when I noticed a blister on my foot. I also noticed that almost every mile appeared to begin with an incline which had me walking for almost a ¼ mile. I was probably too cautious at this point with the walking, but mile 4 pretty much tormented my quads and too a lot out of my legs.

Mile 16-20: I knew that I needed to learn how to push myself at this late in the race. But I was comfortable and not really thinking at all about my finish time at this point. It was during this stretch that I entered Beverly Hills and was running down Rodeo Drive. I really wanted to stop and take pictures but I was focused on putting one foot in front of the other because while my finish time wasn’t a concern (yet) I didn’t want to waste more time on my feet.  Despite how slow my mile splits were, the miles really did seem to be flying by!

Mile 21-23: Somewhere between Mile 20 and 21 I caught up to Jen and asked her if she wanted to run together. At this point, I was feeling good and knew I could pick it up. But I had been wanting to run with someone else for most of the course, so regardless of my desire to pick up the pace, my desire to run with someone else was stronger. Eventually around Mile 23, Jen encouraged me to keep going. I passed the Oiselle Cowbell Corner around Mile 23.5. I wanted to stop for a photo-op but my legs were just carrying me at this point and I knew that I had to dig deep to get in under 4:30. The only reason 4:30 even was a “goal” at this point was because I had caught up to the 4:30 pacer and suddenly I began calculating my estimated finish time.

Mile 24-26.2: In order to break 4:30, I had to hit a 9 min/mile for the last two miles. I had taken it too easy for most of the course, and with the hills being over I had that kind of kick left in my legs, but physically I had been on my feet for over 4 hours so sustaining that pace took a lot of mental focus to keep the physical drive alive. Contrary to the elevation map, I didn’t notice that lovely decline into the finish.
Finish: My watch said 4:29:53. I never noticed the clock when I crossed the finish. There was no 26 Mile Marker, and spectators aren’t allowed in the last 0.2ish of the actually finish line, so it was pretty lonely and a bit confusing because I’m not a very visual person when it comes to estimating distances. I saw the finish line and knew I was within seconds from not breaking 4:30 (not that it really mattered). Immediately after crossing a volunteer came and walked with me. I probably didn’t look good. I got my medal, took a picture, and texted my mom. Apparently I didn’t actually cross the finish line when I stopped my watch (there were at least 3 “timing” mats at the finish) so I didn’t quite break 4:30 this time around.
Official Finish Time 4:30:32
Average Pace 10’19”

Summary: Each marathon has been a learning experience. The distance is very humbling. Random fact though is that my pace was exactly one minute slower than my pace at Pittsburgh.

Overall: If I lived closer, I would probably run this marathon annually. But the cost of travel isn’t cheap and that will keep me from making this trip. I enjoyed the course, and the volunteers were freaking amazeballs. The course entertainment and spectators didn’t come close to Pittsburgh or Columbus, but the views made up for it. I didn’t have issues with the Shuttle to the Start line, but if you read my blog often you know I’m a planner and I prefer to be early rather than late. For my first point-to-point race, I thought the logistics were very smooth. Compared to Columbus, Detroit and Pittsburgh, while LA did have constant contact via emails, and social media, they are not as responsive to posts or interactive with guests as the others. The coolest feature of LA was the Students Run LA (SRLA) group, they just brought a whole new energy on the course that was contagious.

You can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Question: Have you ever run LA? If yes, what was your favorite memory of the race?


Friday Five: Favorite Races

Today’s Friday Five are my favorite races. You can find my race history here.

1. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon. Hands down my absolute favorite marathon (and half marathon). I can’t always define why I keep coming back to this race year after year. It was the race that started it all, but also the expo is fantastic, the course is beautiful, the medals and t-shirts are always amazing. I can keep going, but I think what makes this race so perfect is that DB the race director is a runner (and his wife too) who actively runs various races throughout the year so he’s always coming up with new ideas or ways to improve this spectacular event.

2. Disneyland Half Marathon. #2&3 are tied for the most amazing spectators. But almost all of runDisney events are fun for the entire family (and fun by yourself). I prefer Disneyland over WDW because the course is more spectator friendly.

3. Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This rivals Columbus in my opinion because all of the details are looked into every year. Plus the neighborhoods compete for best spectator, and that draws a crowd regardless of the weather.

4. Akron Half Marathon. The Expo was okay, but the draw to Akron is the finish line (and finishers gift). The course is scenic through Akron with a decent amount of spectators.

5. Dave’s Turkey Chase 5K. There are so many local races I had trouble picking one. Not every race has to be long distances. I enjoy this Thanksgiving tradition because it draws out the families and finishers get a pretty cool coffee mug.

Bonus: Sketchers Performance Los Angeles Marathon. I’ve run Akron, Flying Pig (Cincinnati) and Pittsburgh, but LA was by far the most challenging course when it comes to elevation. Despite that, the course gives you such a great tour of LA.

What are your favorite 5 races?

Friday Five: Days Before LA

In preparation for my Race Recap of the LA Marathon, I thought I was share my 5 days leading up to race day. Mostly boring and travel stuff, but there was some fun sprinkled in!

Tuesday (5 Days Outs): I began my last day in Ohio with a run in the snow and a 6 degree wind chill. I purposefully overdressed to mentally prep for the warmer LA temperatures, also because it’s absolutely cool to sweat through your entire running outfit a mile into your run. Later that afternoon, we flew into LAX before driving 2.5 hours in LA traffic to Bakersfield. It was a very very long day, and my head hitting a pillow couldn’t come soon enough.

Wednesday (4 Days Out): We enjoyed playing tourists in Bakersfield at the Kern County Museum before we headed out of town. I was in flip flops and it was sunny out. On our way to Sequoia National Park, we stopped in Lindsay to try out Chito’s Asadero. I don’t speak Spanish and I’ve given up on my DuoLingo lessons, so I made him order for me. Our final destination was the Wuksachi Lodge around 7,000 feet above sea level, but our first stop after entering the National Park was the Foothills Visitor Center. We also made a stop at the Giant Forest Museum before checking-in; there’s nothing like walking in flip flops through the snow and snowmelt! Later we enjoyed a beautiful dinner at the Peaks Restaurant; the view was probably the best.

Thursday (3 Days Out): My second to last run before the marathon had me up at sunrise for a gorgeous morning on the hill. I spent the 4 miles jogging up and down the road leading to the lodge and was thankful that there weren’t too many vehicles out on the mountain roads this early. Afterwards I enjoyed breakfast with a view of Mount Silliman. Later we visited the Lodgepole Visitor Center before seeing General Sherman, the world’s largest tree. Because of the snow (and the fact that the trail is closed in the winter), we had to follow the footprints ahead of us at the Congress Trail; I wasn’t wearing flip flops this time! After having so much fun in the snow, we enjoyed another meal at the Peaks Restaurant.

Friday (2 Days Out): It took about an hour to drive from the 26ish miles (seeing that on the sign made me giddy) from the lodge to the visitor center, and not many places to stop as most of the park was closed for winter. We also knew that the longer we delayed the more traffic would pick up in LA. We did enjoy a lunch at El Tapatio in Porterville. When we finally arrived in Santa Monica, we decided to hop the Metro and head down to the Convention Center for the Expo. We arrived at the Expo aroudn 6:30ish and it ended at 7pm, so we quickly browsed the booths after picking up my bib and shirt. I stopped at the Nuun Booth and decided I needed a water bottle; I also stopped at the Clif Bar booth, sampled the new Blok flavors, and stopped to see the pace team. I didn’t buy any fuels from Clif because I packed enough; I found out that they had free Bloks (including the new flavors) Sunday at the start line.

Saturday (1 Day Out): I wanted to get in 3.18 miles for my birthday, but instead I settled on 2 miles before cleaning up and heading to Dry Bar for a birthday blowout. It was humid, but only 55 for my run. And it was dark out. I was in a new area so I spent most of those 2 miles texting with my mom so she knew I was okay; also so I had 911 at the ready in case anything happened. Thankfully there were plenty of city workers out setting up for Sunday, but when I ventured to the beach I was surprised not to see anyone running. Afterwards I headed back to the Expo for the Oiselle Volée Meet-up. I wanted to wait around for Kara Goucher at noon, but I was hungry so instead we headed to the Santa Monica Pier to enjoy some Bubba Gump’s for my birthday lunch. I wanted to minimize the time on my feet, because I always have too much energy before race day, so I opted to head back to the hotel and not move for the remainder of the evening. He ordered us Sushi for dinner, and soon it was bed time!

Stay Tuned for my LA Marathon Race Recap!

Your turn! Tell me how you spend your five days before race day in the comments below (or in your own blog and leave the link here).

Friday Five: Speed Round

For Today’s Friday Five, I’m doing more of a Friday Fifteen. It’s my birthday week celebration and it is my blog, so I can do what I want right?!? I’m currently traveling to Los Angeles to attempt my 10th Marathon. At this very moment I am listening to the Ali on the Run Show, and I’m going to do something that seems a little creepy; I am going to play along with Ali’s Sprint to the Finish and answer her 15 questions.

1. What would your last meal on earth be? Guacamole. Nachos. Tacos.
2. Favorite Movie? Dirty Dancing. PS I Love You. Wimbledon.
3. Greatest Fear? Snakes.
4. Favorite Race you’ve ever run? Columbus Marathon. Every time.
5. Favorite Place you’ve ever run? Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland.
6. Go-to Mantra? You’ve Got This.
7. Favorite Running Workout? Long Runs or Yasso 800s.
8. Go-to Breakfast? Spelt Banana Bread Muffin (with walnuts and dark chocolate chips); find the recipe in the Run Fast Eat Slow book.
9. Saturday long run or Sunday long run? Depends. I prefer Saturdays because you never know how the weather will play out on the weekends and it gives you a buffer day just in case. But occasionally I run long on Sundays if I have drill because Saturdays tend to be earlier mornings.
10. Favorite thing to do after a long run? Snuggle with my puppy and take a nap.
11. You’re hosting a dinner party and you get to have 5 guests? My first English Professor at OSU, Shelley Meyer, Andrea Barber, Meb, Pema Chodron.  Bonus question: Addie gets to invite 5 guests too! Her choices are TruMan Trumie, Holly, Meaty, Tucker, and Tuna.
12. Who was your childhood crush? A kid in my third grade class.
13. Last great thing you purchased? My Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad Pro.
14. Who is your favorite runner? Meb.
15. What is your favorite app? Overdrive. It allows me to borrow digital media (books and audiobooks) from my local library.

Your turn! Answer 5 Questions below in the comments (or in your own blog and leave the link here).

PS Subscribe to Ali on the Run Show podcast. This is a shameless plug because I enjoy it, and I think you will too!

Friday Five: Dog-(wo)man’s best running buddy

Last week, I missed a Friday Five. Life happens and no matter how much you plan ahead, some times there’s not much you can do. So this week I offer two Friday Fives. If you read my earlier post you know my 5th thing on my wishlist is a puppy and to celebrate that today’s second Friday Five is about running with woman’s best friend!

Often people get puppies during the winter as holiday gifts, and as winter turn into spring, it becomes a “fantastic” idea to introduce your new companion to your favorite past-time. But as a dog-lover I would like to advise you to stop and read my Five Tips On Running With Your Best Friend before you proceed.

  1. Commands. Having your dog understand, respond to, and OBEY basic commands before taking your dog from a run seems to be common sense, but often I have found never to assume that dog ownership comes with common sense. Commands such as sit, stay, and leave it are all beneficial on a run. Eventually as you leash train your pup, sitting at road crossings may be taught, but it begins with a command to sit. Leave it comes in handy when you come across trash or another dog’s morning present. Heel will come in handy when as you begin to run with your best friend if they have a tendency to venture ahead of you.
  2. Walk Before You Run. Your dog should behave while on a leash during daily walks before you attempt to take your dog for a run. Keep in mind that a shorter leash (6 feet or less) will give you better control of your pooch. Gentle Leaders can prevent dogs from panting during running, which is a doggie’s version of sweating; Connecting leashes for dogs who have the tendency to pull directly to the collar can cause neck damage and harnesses are recommended instead. Learning to walk with your dog is also a chance to practice those basic commands while on a leash. Also, daily walks will help you bond with your new pal, and is just as important for the hooman to learn to walk with the leash as it is the pupperoo.
  3. Sports Physical. Human children are required to have a sports physical prior to participation, and so should your dog! A visit to your family veterinarian is a great opportunity to make sure your dog is healthy enough to begin running. Your vet will most likely focus on orthopedic health as well as hereditary concerns most associated with your dog’s breed, and age. Most vets recommend holding off on running with your dog until your dog has skeletally matured which depending on breed can take one to two years. Keep in mind that not all breeds are great for running, while a pointer may have enough energy to run 10 miles daily with you, a greyhound is more suited for sprinting than distance.
  4. Know Your Pup. Training, Daily Walks, and Vet Visits will help you learn more about your dog. Overtime you will notice your dog’s behavior. Some dogs are not scared of traffic, while others take off sprinting at loud noises (ie diesel engines); knowing your dogs triggers and responses will help you plan a route that will be enjoyable for both you and your dog.
  5. Take It Easy. During your first few runs, keep it slow and short, allowing for breaks similar to when you first started running. Avoid hot (and humid) weather. Most dogs will run with you until they collapse so keep an eye on your pup and play it safe; pay attention to panting as it is how dogs cool themselves down (they don’t sweat like you do!).

BONUS: While my Dachshund is more of a sprinter like a greyhound, there is an ultramarathon running Dachshund named TruMan. You can find him on Facebook and him via his momma on Twitter and Instagram. PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY TRUMAN!

QUESTION: Do you run with your best friend? Any tips that I missed? Comment below!