Friday, July 30, 2010

July in Review

Yesterday was my last run for July. I ran two miles on treadmill due to time restraints. The two miles was planned as myself and three other friends are heading to Chicago this morning. We will be running the Chicago Rock 'N Roll 1/2 Marathon on Sunday.

July Stats

69--- running miles
2--- elliptical miles
0--- bike miles
71--- total miles
151--- weight as of July 30, 2010 (+2 pounds since June 30, 2010)

Current 2010 Stats

650--- running miles
52.9--- elliptical miles
5.1--- bike miles
708--- total miles

Overall, I was happy with my July training. High temperatures and humidity made many of the workouts challenging but it just made me stronger in the end. As for the two pound weight gain, I am completely fine with it. I am at a weight I am comfortable at. My only goal in relationship to weight is to maintain between 150-155.

Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thumbs Up Thursday...Ashley Cavicchi

So, last week I saw that Ashley had commented on Thumbs Up Thursday. She mentioned that she really enjoyed reading them. So, I figured why not ask her permission to spotlight her this week. I sent her a message and she was happy to oblige. With that said, I give you the question and answer portion of Thumbs Up Thursday!!

Jodi: How long have you been running?
Ashley: About 3 years on and off. I've only been consistently running since last May.

Jodi: Why did you start running?
Ashley: Originally I started running to get in better shape while I was a figure skater. When I was forced to quit figure skating due to a back injury, running became the only type of exercise that felt like a challenge for me and I learned to love it, now I think I love it more than skating sometimes, which is a big feat considering I grew up as a figure skater.

Jodi: How many years have you been racing?
Ashley: 1 year seriously, I had done a few 5k's and a four miler previously but I didn't really race them and I didn't know a thing about training until last spring/summer. I've learned so much already.
Ashley before a 5k
Ashley and her boyfriend after 4th of July 10k

Jodi: What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Ashley: Half marathon, it's not so fast I feel as though I'm sprinting the whole time like a 5k but it's not too long for me, it's the easiest race distance for me to pace myself so far.
Ashley finishing her first 1/2 marathon

Jodi: What is your favorite race memory?
Ashley: Finishing my first marathon in May 2010. It was an amazing feeling. I remember coming into the finishing area and just feeling this sense of relief and accomplishment. I don't know that I'll ever forget it.
Ashley at mile 9 of the 2010 Vermont City Marathon
Ashley going through the finish line at the 2010 Vermont City Marathon
Ashley after the 2010 Vermont City Marathon

Jodi: What is your least favorite race memory?
Ashley: Having a breakdown on a hill at mile 15 of the marathon. I remember seeing my mom, aunt, and boyfriend on the side of the street and just begging for my gatorade which they didn't have. They just pushed me away and told me to keep going. I was crying at this point. It was definitely a low point in the race.
Ashley's breakdown at mile 15 of the 2010 Vermont City Marathon

Jodi: What is your proudest running moment to date?
Ashley: Hmmm....either finishing my first marathon this spring or running a sub 7 minute mile recently. Both felt like things I never imagined I'd do and I have done now!

Jodi: What one item do you absolutely have to have with you on a training run?
Ashley: If I had to choose one it would be my Garmin but even that I don't bring with me on all my runs...there's not one specific thing for every run...but for long runs, definitely my handheld water bottle, especially in this heat!

Jodi: What is your favorite cross-training activity?
Ashley: I'm so bad about cross-training and need to do more...biking would win out as my favorite even though it's been awhile since I've been on a bike ride. I really need to start cross-training more!

Jodi: What is your least favorite cross-training activity?
Ashley: Lifting weights. Just not a fan at all.

Jodi: Do you have a favorite quote?
Ashley: Ahh...I have so many. Hmm...I'm currently reading Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald and he has a quote at the start of each chapter, and this one catches my eye every time: "Pain is good because it teaches your body and your soul to improve"- Lance Armstrong. I think I like it because I hold back frequently from pushing myself during harder workouts (i.e. speedwork) and know that I need to push myself and that certain types of pain aren't always bad.

Jodi: Finish this statement, after a training run I feel __________.
Ashley: Accomplished.

Jodi: What is your current goal?
Ashley: To qualify for the Boston Marathon, my qualifying time is 3:40.

Thank you for the opportunity to give you a Thumbs Up Ashley. Best of luck achieving your Boston Marathon goal.

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Ashley YOU inspire ME!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Chicago Rock 'N Roll 1/2 Marathon Week

One week from today I will be running the Chicago RNR 1/2 Marathon with these three lovely ladies and amazing friends. Our registration included tickets to the Uncle Kracker concert on Friday night so we will be making it a girl's "running" weekend of sorts.
Nikki, Marilyn, Deb, and myself
Nikki has graciously agreed to host a pool party for all of us and our families on Thursday night. It will be fun to get together with everyone before we head to Chicago on Friday morning.
Nice inviting pool
Friday we will head out in the morning and stop and pick up our race packets and concert tickets before we head to our hotel for check in. The plan for Friday night is to have dinner at Smith and Wollensky, a well-known Chicago Steakhouse. I'm looking forward to experiencing the view from the restaurant as well as the food and atmosphere of the restaurant itself. The pictures online are amazing!

After we finish dinner, we will head to the Uncle Kracker concert and enjoy the rest of our evening in Chicago.
Uncle Kracker
I do believe that we will do some shopping on Saturday, but definitely not the marathon of shopping that Deb and I did this past week! Of course we will be on the hunt for a nice carb loading dinner on Saturday night. I do believe Deb is looking into an Italian restuarant for us. I'm looking forward to that experience as well.
The pasta dish from my 22.2 mile training run
We will most likely head to bed early Saturday evening so we can be well rested for the 6:30AM start of the race.
The start of the 2009 RNR Chicago 1/2 Marathon
It is going to be a really fun weekend with a little bit of running thrown in!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thumbs Up Thursday...Connie Spielman

I met Connie back in March at the St. Malachi 5 Miler. She was very kind and we had a lot to talk about while waiting for the race. She was well into her training for the Boston Marathon and I was in the midst of training for the Cleveland Marathon. Fast forward to yesterday when I sent Connie and email and asked her if I could give her a thumbs up today. Her response was: "I would be honored, but I'm not running right now! My foot is still bothering me (sigh). I'm off to see the podiatrist again tomorrow afternoon. But if that's okay, I would love to!" I immediately responded with: "Of course it is okay for you to be spotlighted. Injuries are a part of running." With all of this said, I give you the question and answer portion of Thumbs Up Thursday!

Jodi: How long have you been running?
Connie: I have been running all my life! I ran my first race when I was 8 years old.

Jodi: Why did you start running?
Connie: My dad started running in the late 60's, and when we moved to Cleveland he started running races. I guess I wanted to be like him, so I begged and begged to be able to run a race too! My mom and dad finally said okay, and I ran/walked a 3 mile race while he did a ten mile race. I won a medal for being the youngest finisher, and I was hooked!

Jodi: When you are really tired and want to skip a workout what motivates you to do the workout anyway?
Connie: Ohhh, this is hard. I keep my goal in mind - whether it's the next race, weekly mileage, getting faster, or just to keep up with the cross country girls!

Jodi: How many years have you been racing?
Connie: See above - over 37 years!

Jodi: What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Connie: I think either the 5 mile or the 10k - they are short enough that you still have to go relatively fast, and not super long so I can usually hang on until the end!

Jodi: What is your favorite race memory?
Connie: Oh, this is hard. I have so many! One of my favorites is crewing for my brother when he ran the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in California! It was just amazing - beautiful scenery, an amazing race, for 28 hours we just drove to different places to see him and check if he needed anything, make sure he was eating, drinking enough, gave him change of clothes, ran with him for awhile, helped him at the aid stations. I had never seen an ultra trail race before, and I completely understood why he loved it so much! It was incredibly difficult, but everyone knew everyone else - which was how it was for our family when my brother and I were younger. There weren't as many runners doing races and we all knew each other!

Jodi: What is your least favorite race memory?
Connie: Well, I have a bunch of these too! It would have to be when I was a senior in college, and during our first race of the season something in my hip "popped" half way through a cross country race. It hurt horribly, and I was out for the rest of the season - one which I had trained so hard during the summer for, and had hoped to have a PR season!

Jodi: What is your proudest running moment to date?
Connie: Qualifying for Boston last year at the Cleveland Marathon, or else Boston this year, when I finished and found out my daughter had finished her first marathon in 3:35!!!
Connie and Katie before Boston
Connie crossing the finish line at Boston
Connie and Katie after Boston
Jodi: What is your favorite running related purchase to date?
Connie: I love my Garmin 405!!

Jodi: What is your favorite non-running related purchase to date?
Connie: Food? Our house? Chocolate!!!

Jodi: Finish this statement, running makes me _________.
Connie: Feel alive!

Jodi: Do you have a favorite quote?
Connie: Since I have been an assistant coach for the high school girls cross country team, I've discovered so many great ones! We like to put them on the back of the team tshirts, and look for a different one each year. Right now, I love "The gun goes off and everything changes...the World changes...and nothing else really matters" by PattiSue Plummer.

Jodi: What is your biggest frustration at the moment?
Connie: Not being able to run! I have plantar fasciitis right now, everything feels great and ready to go except for my foot. Grrrr!!

Jodi: What is your current goal?
Connie: Still working on having a great marathon - and I would love to get under 21 minutes in the 5k again. :)

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give you a Thumbs Up Connie. Best of luck achieving your marathon and 5k goals. First and foremost, heal well!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Connie YOU inspire ME!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shopping Can Be A Workout Too

So my kids headed to Pop Pop and Grammy's for the week on Sunday and my dear friend Deb and I headed to Columbus for a mini girl's trip. We got into Columbus Sunday afternoon and headed over to Easton where we spent a good four hours shopping (most of that time being spent in the container store. I could use up my life savings in that store. So many cool things!) Sunday evening we enjoyed dinner at the Melting Pot. We had A LOT of food and I was glad that I had run 10 miles Sunday morning. We headed back to our hotel after dinner and decided we would head to the outlet mall in Jeffersonville in the morning. Before I go on, I should mention that Deb and I are not big shoppers. Now imagine our surprise when we realized we shopped for 7 hours straight on Monday! Shopping is a lot like work! We had an amazing time shopping, people watching, and laughing until we cried at the outlets. We also found awesome deals ($98.00 jeans for $14.24 is just one example) as you can see in the photo below. When Deb emailed my husband this picture, he sent me a text message which said: "Ok that's her stuff so no room for yours. Glad I didn't buy you a Suburban." Deb and I laughed when I read the text message and I replied with: "actually mine was more than half".

We called it a day around 6:30 PM and started on the 45 minute drive back to our hotel. There was dead silence for awhile. It was really quite comical when we realized it. Neither one of us has ever been quite so sore from shopping! When we got back to our hotel Deb even commented that she may have felt better after running 13.1 miles at the Cleveland Marathon. Me, not so much, seeing how I felt like I had been hit by a Mac truck after 25 miles at the Cleveland Marathon. We headed up to our room and sat there for awhile commenting on how sore we were. In fact, we both updated our Facebook status to reflect just how tiring shopping had been. I truly think I was in less pain after my 10 mile run on Sunday than I was at the end of our shopping trip on Monday. We eventually decided we should find something for dinner. We headed back to Easton and had Bon Vie. It was very good, but of course I ate too much again. Yesterday was our last day in Columbus and Deb had ordered a shelving system for her daughter's bedroom from the Container Store so we headed back to Easton where we spent another two hours shopping. We went into a few stores we hadn't gone to on Sunday and then we headed to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. Deb convinced me to be adventurous and try something new so we shared a chop salad and fish tacos. I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed the meal and would definitely order it again. Now, if they would just put this restaurant in on the West side of Cleveland we could go there more often! Our final stop was the container store. After all was said and done, my Trailblazer was filled to the rim (both the back seat and the back hatch area). Take a look at the picture.

We didn't do one ounce of running on our trip but we certainly walked A LOT! How could we not walk a lot when we shopped a total of 13 hours in three days!?! It was a great trip and I can't wait to do it again!

And no worries on the running front, I got out there this morning for a nice 5 miler!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thumbs Up Thursdsay...Julie Reardon

This weeks Thumbs Up goes to Julie Reardon. When I contacted Julie, via the dailymile to see if she would be willing to allow me to give her a thumbs up, she was hesitant stating: "I'm not sure I'm worthy". My response to her was "Everyone is worthy!!! It's all about that fact that you got out there and started something and have goals! :)" Without further delay, I give you the question and answer portion of Thumbs Up Thursday!

Jodi: How long have you been running?
Julie: I started in high school and have had 24 years of stops and starts along the way but have been running consistently now for just over 3 years.

Jodi: What motivated you to start running?
Julie: My dad, he had been a runner since I was born. I went to Magnificat High School and was just mediocre at most sports and did not want to be sitting on the sidelines watching. So my dad convinced me to go out for cross country. I quit after the first day of practice my freshman year when I couldn't keep up. My dad was a regular in the Cleveland Revco 10k, so I trained with him and we did the race together in May 1986. I went out for cross country again my sophomore year and had a blast running all through high school.

Jodi: What motivates you to continue running?
Julie: That's a tough one and it has changed many times over the years. But at this time it is my brother Bill. He started running about 10 years ago and started doing many half marathons. I enjoyed hearing his stories so much that I wanted to join him and I did, completing my first, the Akron Half in September of 2007 (still my PR in a half). This year I did the Cleveland Half Marathon while Bill and my little brother Brad did the full marathon. It was so fun to share the experience with them.

Bill, Julie, and Brad after the 2010 Cleveland Marathon

Jodi: How long have you been racing?
Julie: Well with the Revco 10k being my first it has been 24 years. I love racing! It keeps me motivated!

Jodi: What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Julie: I'm not sure I have a favorite distance. I probably do the most 5k's as there are so many offered but I think I would prefer a 5 miler or 10k. I think it takes me some time to find my best pace and usually that is when a 5k is ending. I know it is not ideal but I usually end up starting out too fast and then I catch my breath by mile 2.5 or 3. In a longer race I can pick up my pace for the next 2-3 miles and finish stronger.
Jodi: What is your favorite race memory?
Julie: In the spring I participated in the Flying Pig Marathon Relay with my husband, Dennis, brother-in-law Breen, and sister-in-law, Mary Lou. It was Dennis' second race experience and Breen's first. It was so fun listening to their take on it and their will to do it again next year. Also, watching Dennis cross the finish line with all the full marathoners was just priceless.

Jodi: What is your proudest running moment to date?
Julie: Running the Flying Pig Half Marathon in 2009 for my friend Jen's son , John Owen and raising over $3,000 to help end Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Julie with John Owen after the 2009 Flying Pig Half Marathon

Jodi: Do you have a favorite quote?
Julie: The race is not always to the swift but to those that keep on running. ~Author Unknown

Jodi: Do your kids like to run with you?
Julie: No, not really. My daughter has run with me a couple times but mostly she will ride her bike while I run. My youngest son is 5 and he is going to be a distance runner. When I say I'll race you to the end of the street, he'll pace himself so he can run the entire way unlike my other two that will sprint and walk and sprint some more.

Jodi: What is your favorite time of day to run?
Julie: The morning, I am not a morning person but if I don't get up and do it right away chances are I won't get to it.

Jodi: What is your current goal?
Julie: A marathon - probably Columbus this fall. My brother is doing it and I'd like to get one on my racing resume before I turn 40 next spring. Also, to complete a 5k in under 25 minutes.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give you a Thumbs Up Julie! Best of luck achieving your current goals. It is evident that you have the desire and determination to get it done!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Julie YOU inspire ME!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

James Kerstetter Memorial 5k Race Report

Headed out to run a 5k this morning to honor the memory of Elyria Police Officer James Kerstetter, shot and killed in the line of duty in March 2010. I got to the packet pickup nice and early. I found it a little odd that we didn't have numbers for the race. When I asked another runner he told me that we would be handed a numbered index card as we finished the race. The number on the card would be our place overall. Once we received the card, we would write our name and city on it and then drop it into our respective age group buckets and then volunteers would tabulate the results prior to the award ceremony. After I found out this information, I headed back to my truck to drop off my "goodie" bag. When I came back to the starting area, I ran into Darlene and we had a quick picture taken. We then walked back to the parking lot to drop off my camera.

We walked back to the starting area and got lined up. There was a decent sized group of officers that ran together in formation each wearing a 1 or a 7, running 3 abreast. The fallen officer's badge number was 177. They let the officers have a "head start" and then we were off! It was somewhat of an out and back course with a few hills. I managed to run the first mile in 7:20. The next mile included some hills and my pace slowed a little and my two mile split was 8:00. Once again, I had to hold back tears in a race. As I was heading back on the course towards the finish line, the pack of officers passed me going the opposite direction doing a candence to the fallen officer. At this point in the race I started playing "leap frog" with another runner. I would pull away from her on the uphill and she would come back on the downhill. Once we approached the three mile mark, I managed to outsprint her to the finish and she walked up to me at the end and said "Wow, great job, I will run with you anytime". I crossed the line in an unofficial time of 23:23 and knew immediately that I had placed 1st in my age group because I was the first one to drop an index card in my respective age group bucket. Number two in my age group..."leap frog girl" of course! Thank goodness I found that final kick at the end! I got to see the pack of officers a second time when I was walking back to my truck to grab my camera and they were still in perfect formation, doing a cadence to the finish line. Right after I passed them, I saw my friend Heather. Today was her first 5K and she finished it in 32:15. She was very proud, as she should be! The best part is that she finished 177th overall which as I mentioned earlier was the fallen officer's badge number. What a great coincidence at her first race. I congratulated her on her success and we had our picture taken. Of course we were still sweaty, and red faced from the run!

After our picture we just talked with some people and waited for the awards ceremony. It was really great to hear them announce my name for 1st place female in the 35-39 age division. As I was walking back after receiving my award, one of the dispatchers I know was shouting way to go. As you can see in the photo, I looked her way instead of looking at the camera. At least I am still smiling!

Following this, my friend Darlene was called up. She placed 2nd in her age division. Darlene and I know each other because she owns Hershey's Ice Cream & More in Elyria, Ohio and I pretty much had ice cream from her store every single day of my pregnancy with my daughter. We still try and get to the store once in awhile to say hello and enjoy some ice cream. I think we both could have gone for some ice cream after this picture, it was getting HOT!!

I was very pleased with my time today even though it was only 23 seconds shy of a PR. I ran faster today than I did last Sunday on a flat course. Perhaps I actually know how to use the hills to my advantage. A side effect from growing up in PA maybe? I have no idea, but I will take it!
Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thumbs up Thursday..Kelly Lebanik

I sent Kelly an email yesterday asking her if I could spotlight her today. Her reply was, "you are SO sweet Jodi. I'm honored!" And tomorrow is my Matty's 2nd birthday. So cool!

So, once again, I give you Thumbs Up Thursday questions and answers!

Jodi: How long have you been running?
Kelly: I started running in April of '07. Lol, my very first run was a full mile. In 13 minutes. I thought I was going to die.

Jodi: What motivated you to start running?
Kelly: I had gained a lot of weight while carrying the twins. Everyone always told me that pregnancy weight was "9 months on, 9 months off". Well, the girls were 10 months old and I hadn't lost any of the weight yet. I was looking for something that was easy to pick up, something that could be done on my own time and that didn't have others judging my progress or level of progression. Running was a perfect fit.
Kelly with her twins, Emma and Hailey, running the 1 mile race at a Turkey Trot
Jodi: How do you maintain your motivation level to continue running?
Kelly: Running has become more like a friend to me. I run to pray. I run to vent and think and problem solve and relieve stress and...well, I pretty much use running for everything. So if anything, running motivates me.

Jodi: How many years have you been racing?
Kelly: My very first 5k was on 4th of July '07. It was a very tough course on some huge hills (okay, Texas hills, but still) and I finished in over 32 minutes. But crossing the finish line for the first time was enough to get me hooked.

Jodi: What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Kelly: I LOVE the marathon. If I had my choice I wouldn't run anything else. And now that I think about it, since I've run my first full marathon, I haven't raced anything else. I don't think it's the marathon distance that is important. It's the training. The 18 (or whatever) weeks leading up to the race become a love affair. I love having 4 (or less) hours to myself. To reflect on what my body is capable of doing and the dedication and stamina I showed to get where I am. It's 4 hours of mind over matter. And I think that's why so many of my "Mom friends" love the marathon too. Being a mother is a lot like running a marathon.

Jodi: What is your favorite race memory?
Kelly: My favorite race memory was at the 30th Annual Cowton Marathon It was my first "big race" and I was almost 20 weeks pregnant with Matthew. I was anxious and scared and proud and happy and excited all rolled up into one big mess. My time wasn't that impressive (2:28), but considering I stopped to use the restroom 4 times that race thanks to little feet on my bladder, I was pretty happy. I remmeber crossing the finish line and my husband, my daughters, my pastor and my best friend (who also ran the half...and got her half marathon PR that day) were all waiting at the finish line cheering me on. That was the best feeling ever.
Emma, Hailey, and Kelly at Cowtown
Desiree, Emma, Kelly, Kelly's pastor, Hailey and Kevin at Cowtown
Jodi: What is your proudest running moment to date?
Kelly: Well, I'd love to put Cowton here as well, but I won't. I suppose that even though the Cleveland Marathon didn't have the ending I had hoped for, I am still pretty darn proud of it. The training cycle leading up to Cleveland was plagued wtih ITBS. I had been dealing with it since White Rock 6 months earlier. I worked very hard that cycle and got to the start line injury free. But due to some mistakes on my part, I got ver sick that race and told myself to DNF 4 times. Once for every time that I got sick on the race route. Despite a stomach that despised me that day and a Garmin that never loaded it's satellites, I still had a race PR of over 32 minutes. It wasn't the finish I had envisioned, but it wasn't a race where all the stars aligned either. I'm pretty proud of myself for pulling through and completing the race.
Kelly's adorable children after the kids race at the Cleveland Marathon!
Jodi: Do you have a favorite quote?
Kelly: "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."--John Bingham

Jodi: What is your favorite cross-training activity?
Kelly: I really enjoy my Insanity DVDs, but if I had to pick, I suppose it would be swimming. Now my swimming isn't the traditional swimming, but rather when I swim, I swim with preschoolers. For some reason, when my 3 littles are involved, I get in a much harder workout.

Jodi: What is your favorite pre-race meal?
Kelly: The night before a race, I usually eat whatever I want. I love some good seafood though. Like some salmon or grilled shrimp. Good protein and nothing that would give me an upset tummy. As for the morning of a race, I am so bad. My pre-race ritual (which I did NOT follow in Cleveland and alas was the beginning of my downfall) is a 20 oz. Diet Pepsi, a Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar and a banana. I know, so bad for me.

Jodi: What is your current goal?
Kelly: BOSTON! *sigh* I have a long way to go. Training in the summer is very hard on me, but I'm giving it my all. I know I'm not going to achieve my goal tomorrow or maybe not even my next race, but I will get there eventually. And then, I'll set a new goal. I never want to be done improving myself. There is always work to be done!
Laura, Kelly, and Desiree at Kelly's first 1/2 marathon. This race also happens to be her goal marathon race this year!

Jodi: Please feel free to share anything else with me that you feel will help inspire others!
Kelly: The greatest thing about running is that there is no one telling you "You can't!" Running is between you and the road. Each day that you get out there, you will accomplish things that you never thought that you were capable of doing. Just one more day, one more step, one more mile. Keep going and be proud that you did!

Thanks for allowing me to give you a Thumbs Up Kelly! Best of luck achieving your current and future goals and of course Happy Birthday to Matthew!!!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Kelly YOU inspire ME!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Smiles For Sophie Birthday Bash and Dash 5K Race Report

Headed out to run a 4th of July 5k this morning. This particular 5k tends to be emotional because it is held in memory of 4-year-old Sophie Quayle, who lost her battle with brain cancer, after a valiant fight, on October 6, 2007. Today would have been Sophie's 7th birthday. When we walked to the start line we received a carnation to be placed in Sophie's front yard during the race because part of the course goes right past Sophie's house. As we waited at the red, white, and blue rainbow start line, we sang "Happy Birthday to Sophie in Heaven" and I was brought to tears. This beautiful tribute to Sophie was followed by the singing of The National Anthem and a simple statement of "runner's to your mark, set...go" and we were off.

I felt pretty good for the first mile aside from the heat and the fact that I started to tear up again when I dropped the carnation in Sophie's front yard. I just kept pushing on and thinking about what this race was all about. I was out there supporting a cause and that made me happy. Got to the water stop around the 1 1/2 mile marker and I opted to pour the water on my head. Fortunately, just a few strides later, a little girl and her dad had set up their own "water station" and I was able to get a nice cold drink from them! Hit mile two about ten seconds shy of 15 minutes. As I came out of the development and crossed the street into the park, I started really concentrating on my stride. The timer read off the split at the three mile mark and I knew I could finish under 24:00 so I started my final kick and my ear buds promptly fell out and ended up right next to my knees as can be seen in the photo below.

Fortunately, I successfully made it to the finish line, unharmed, in 23:46. I was shy of a 5k PR by 46 seconds. I finished 5th in my age group. I decided to look up my results from last year and I ran a 26:26 and finished 11th in my age group. What a difference a year makes! We had parked at my mother-in-law's house and walked to the start line so of course we had to walk back after the race. My daughter asked if we could walk past Sophie's house so she could drop off her carnation which is exactly what she is doing in the photo below. I am so proud of her for having such compassion for others at the young age of 7.

I really enjoy this race and plan to continue running it every 4th of July!
Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thumbs Up Thursday...Joe Marruchella

When I started thinking about who deserved a thumbs up this week, my thoughts immediately went to Joe. Afterall, if you remember, Joe had my back the day after my marathon attempt. He took it upon himself to head out on his lunch, on a scheduled rest day, and finish the last 1.2 miles for me and for my good friend Deb which can be seen in the picture he emailed me below!

I sent Joe an email asking him if he would do me the honor of allowing me to spotlight him this week. His response was "that would be so very cool and I am completely honored to be included on your blog". Without futher delay, the question and answer portion of Thumbs Up Thursday!

Jodi: How long have you been running?
Joe: I started running in March 2004, so just over six year now.

Jodi: What motivated you to start running?
Joe: At first I started running to shed a few of the pounds I had gained from working behind a desk and spending time on the road traveling for my job. I was not exercising and I wanted something that I could do whether I was at home or on the road to start exercising again. I started with a walk/run program of about 30 minutes at lunchtime and away I went. I was a marathoner 20 months later.

Jodi: How do you continue to stay motivated to run?
Joe: The motivation part for me is really two-fold. I run because I truly love it. I never knew that there was a distance runner trapped in my body for 36 years waiting to get out, but there was! I try to make sure that I have a goal to chase whether it was a major goal like qualifying for the Boston Marathon or a smaller goal, such as shaving a second or two off my training routes at home. Having those goals to chase really help keep me going. But last summer when my friend Dom was diagnosed with cancer, it really hit me hard. I realized in the blink of an eye just how precious life is and that you should embrace every day and every opportunity that life grants to us. There are a lot of days when I feel like I could mail in a run or skip one altogether, but Dom and his ongoing battle really keeps me focused on working hard every day to become a better runner, a better husband, and frankly a better person every day.

Jodi: How long have you been competing in races?
Joe: I've been racing since the fall of 2006.

Jodi: What is your favorite distance to race and why?
Joe: The marathon. If you asked me what is my most enjoyable distance I think I would choose the half, as it is not nearly as physically demanding as the marathon, but still a challenging distance that you have to train seriously for if you hope to do well. But for me, there is nothing like the marathon. The dedication level that is required as part of the training and preparation, the pageantry of the race itself, the physical test, as well as the mental challenge to push through exhaustion is truly life-affirming for me. That final .20 miles is among the greatest of life experiences.

Joe after the 3M Half Marathon January 2010

Jodi: How many marathons have you run?
Joe: I am a 5-time marathoner and proud member of the Marathon Maniacs!

Jodi: Which marathon course has been your favorite so far?
Joe: The Boston Marathon course from Hopkinton, MA to Boston is my favorite course for sure. The crowds make that experience one of a kind.

Jodi: What is your favorite race memory?
Joe: Wow, such a great question as all of the memories come flooding back to me- but if I had to pick just one as my favorite it would have to be mile 22 at the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2009. It was my Boston Qualifying race and I was 4 miles away from surpassing my goal of 3:19:59. I was running next to a young man for the better part of two miles and we started chatting about the race. He was chasing a Boston time also, but being 10 years younger than me he needed to run a sub 3:10:00 time and we were on pace for about 3:18:00. He was not going to make it and seemed to realize it as we were running alongside each other. Just as we passed the mile 22 water station, the Theme from Rocky came on my Ipod and he caught me grinning. I didn't want to celebrate too early as I still had 4 miles left- and I also did not want him to feel bad about not making his goal time as he was running an incredible race. He looked over at me and saw me smiling and asked: "What?" I told him that the Rocky Theme had just came on my headphones. We took about five strides and he looked me dead in the eye and said, "Dude....Can I listen?" It was all I could do not to laugh out loud and ruin my breathing---we ran together up through mile 25 when I pulled away from him a bit and finished with a time of 3:17:43. He was the first runner to congratulate me, as I was getting my finisher's medal, on qualifying for Boston. It was the first time I realized that I had really qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Joe at the top of Forbes Climb at the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon

Jodi: How did you come up with the idea of "Run for Dom"?
Joe: At the Pittsburgh race in 2009 Dom was there for me to watch me chase my Boston time. At our post-race breakfast Dom was complaining of stomach issues that had been going on for a couple of months, but at age 38 who would of thought cancer? Two months later my wife and I got the call from Dom telling us about his condition and that the form of stomach cancer Dom had was very serious. He was going to have to fight very hard to survive. After reflecting for two days I went on a Sunday long run. 12 miles along the trail behind our home and around a lake that I run several times a week. I couldn't shake Dom from my thoughts and how I felt so powerless and helpless. I wanted to do something to help him and his family but couldn't quite figure out what. I kept thinking about the Pittsburgh Marathon in Dom's hometown and how much I wanted to return to that race in 2010 and run it for Dom. The race was only 13 days after the Boston Marathon however, a race that I had trained for more than a year to qualify. How could I not run Boston? As I made the turn at the bottom of the lake I thought to myself, why not both? Why not run both marathons as a way to raise awareness and hopefully money that would help Dom, his wife Val, his 3 year old daughter Sierra, and 3 month old (at the time) son Nico. Over the last 4 miles of the run I kept thinking about the goal of running two marathons in two weeks in honor of my good friend's battle with cancer. By the time I got home it was a done deal. I was going all in.
Joe and Dom with the Run for Dom shirt

Jodi: Who do you admire most and why?
Joe: Dom D'Eramo. He is the bravest, most courageous man I have ever met.

Jodi: What has been your proudest running moment to date?
Joe: I would have to say coming through the finish chute at this years Pittsburgh Marathon just 13 days after Boston. It was a very, very tough race for me in hot humid conditions. As good as the weather was at Boston, 47 degrees, no wind- it was tough at Pittsburgh. Rain for the entire race, winds 10-12 mph, 77 degrees and humid. But toughing out that second marathon and earning that finisher's medal to put around Dom's neck at the family reunion area was a highlight for me. It was not my fastest marathon as I ran 20 minutes slower than Boston and 25 minutes slower than Pittsburgh the year before- but it was without question my finest effort.

Joe and Dom after the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon

Jodi: Do you have a favorite quote?
Joe: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift" -Steve Prefontaine

Jodi: What is your favorite post run meal?
Joe: I love breakfast foods -all kinds- but after a long run when I've burned 1,000 or more calories I crave sweet breakfast more than eggs and potatoes. For those times, my favorite are homemade waffles. Nothing better!

Jodi: Have you purchased that "jogging" stroller for the new baby yet?
Joe: We have not made the purchase yet, but it is on our registry at Babies R' Us! I am really hoping that the Bob w/ 12 inch aluminum wheels shows up at our door soon!

Jodi: What is your current goal?
Joe: Great timing with this question as I just went public with my latest goal of "Under 40:00 after 40". I am looking to post an official 10k race time of 39:39 this year at the age of 43. That time will get me a starting spot in the under 40:00 corral at this spring's Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina. It is one of the largest 10k's in the United States with close to 40,000 runners. I will be training tough through the TX summer to hopefully hit that race time at the IBM Uptown Classic in Austin, October 17, 2010. That will mean running 6.2 miles at 6:26 pace. My 5k PR is 19:28 so it is possible- but I am going to work very hard this summer to get there.
Joe at the Congress Avenue Mile May 2010 where he ran a smoking 5:24!

Jodi: If you have anything else you would like to share with me, please feel free.
Joe: The only thing else I would like to share is to just thank everyone who got involved with Run for Dom this year as we were able to surpass our goal of raising $26.2K for the D'Eramo family to help defray some of the costs of Dom's surgeries and procedures. The outpouring of support and kind words is so appreciated- with more than 19,000 visits to since November- it is amazing to me that so many people have opened up their hearts to Dom and his fight. I am eternally grateful for everyone that made Run for Dom such a success. From here forward I plan on continuing to run in honor of my good friend and hopefully help others discover our sport. It is a sport for everyone as no matter how long you have been running, how fast you run or how far, the only person we are truly competing with is ourselves.

I couldn't have said it better myself in regards to competing with ourselves. Stop on over to Joe's blog at and I guarantee you will be inspired. Thank you for allowing me the honor and privilege of giving you a Thumbs Up Joe. What you have done for Dom and so many others is truly amazing. Continue to be proud of your accomplishments, enjoy the new baby, and good luck smashing your current goal of 39:59 in the 10k on October 17, 2010.

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Joe YOU inspire ME!!