It’s a good thing that “Regularly update my readers on my progress with my New Year’s Resolutions” wasn’t one of my New Year’s Resolutions, because I would have failed miserably if I had done so!

I told myself multiple times throughout the year that I needed to do so, but then I would forget to do so amidst all of the training and exercise posts I wrote over the year.

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I never thought I’d miss the training runs that I did in 90 degree weather on the Towpath, but on a snowy day like today, I’d give anything for a nice, humid run during which sweat drips off of my head like water!

Before I talk about what I’d like to do in 2014, I should probably wrap up 2013, right?

Without further ado, let’s take a look back and see how I did! Read the rest of this entry

I’m thrilled to announce that I have been selected once again to serve as an Official Blogger for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

1398484_10201668949759306_1769179088_oThose of you who have been reading for a year or so may remember that I also had the privilege to serve as an Official Blogger for the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In typical Joe style, I submitted my application approximately 15 minutes before the midnight deadline with the hope that my weight loss journey and my transformation into an avid runner might win over the selection committee. To my shock and delight, I found out via e-mail that I was selected right in the midst of a frantic search for a set of missing car keys that eventually turned up a few minutes later!

I had a great time documenting my training on my way to the starting line of my first half marathon. Read the rest of this entry

Even though I didn’t win anything in the #Runchat Scavenger Hunt (#runchathunt) earlier in the year, I still had a lot of fun tracking down all of the different items on the list.

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(For those of you who aren’t runners, I should probably stop and explain what #Runchat is, right? #Runchat is a weekly Twitter chat that takes place on the first and third Sundays of every month at 10:00PM EST and on the second and fourth Sundays of every month at 8:00PM EST. You can follow along using the hashtag #Runchat. I put it on my Google Calendar so that I don’t forget and I look forward to it every week. Essentially, #Runchat is a time when runners of all backgrounds and ability levels from all over the world congregate online to talk about various topics related to running. I hope to see you there!)

When I saw the list of items for the Holiday-to-Holiday #Runchathunt, I was pretty excited. I had some pretty interesting ideas for fun shots, and of course I was also eager to have a chance to win some pretty cool prizes.

Then we decided to buy a house, and one of the busiest and most stressful months of our lives commenced.

Read the rest of this entry

A Christmas Story 10K Race Recap

As a proud lifelong Clevelander, I know that the following statement may be heresy, but…

I’ve never seen A Christmas Story from start to finish in one sitting.

In my defense, I’ve seen the entire movie through bits and pieces of various viewings over the years. I’ve also seen the play (and I missed a Browns game to see it too!).

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Of course, the game I missed happened to be the one in which we actually beat the Steelers in 2009. I still haven’t seen this game in its entirety!

Nevertheless, when I first heard about the A Christmas Story 5K\10K, I wasn’t too excited. Perhaps that was because I’ve never had a proper viewing of the movie? In September, my stepmom forwarded me an email with a Groupon for the race and I didn’t sign up. At the time, we were looking for houses pretty regularly. I thought for sure that we would be moved to a new home in another part of the city by December, and I figured that paying to run in an area in which I have run regularly for almost two years now was a waste of money.

Fast forward to November, when it became obvious that we weren’t going to be homeowners by December, let alone moved into a new home by December. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a difference a year makes…

At this time last year, I was basking in the glow of my first-ever 5 miler at the 2012 Cleveland Turkey Trot. In addition to completing the race itself, I also smashed my time goal. Heading into the race, my goal was to run at a 10:00 min\mile average pace. When I crossed the finish line and saw that I had run it in 47:06 (9:25 min\mi average pace), I was overjoyed.

Striding proudly towards the finish line during the 2012 Cleveland Turkey Trot (thanks to my brother-in-law Cyrus for this great pic!)

This achievement was even more notable in light of the fact that I ran a race while sick for the first time. I felt awful in the days leading up to the Turkey Trot. I had a bad sore throat, cough, and lots of congestion. Because I wanted to end my race season on a high note, I hid how bad I felt from just about everyone since I knew that people would have strongly encouraged me to sit it out if I was sick. Once the race started, though, my adrenaline kicked in and I felt fine. Considering that 5 miles was the longest distance that I had ever run in my life up to that time, I was pretty daunted and nervous heading into the race, but I was thrilled that it went so well and very glad that I could conclude my first-ever race season on a high note.

Celebrating a race well run!

Celebrating a race well run!

Fast forward to one year later. Read the rest of this entry

We saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Friday night down at the Cinemark in Valley View. The movie was excellent, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you do so (just read the books first!)

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Katniss and I remembering who the real enemy is

As we drove home along Canal Road, I looked out at the section of the Towpath running adjacent to the road and began to think about all of the various runs that I had done in that specific area over the past year. Read the rest of this entry

Your Next PR Playlist

Unfortunately, those of us in Ohio are nearing the end of race season…but it’s never too early to think about what we’ll listen to when we’re setting our first PR in 2014!

Here’s my playlist from the Towpath Half Marathon earlier in November, when I completely shocked myself and cut over 16 minutes off of my half marathon time to post my first sub-2 half marathon!

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I’m always looking for good new songs to add to my running playlist. Please feel free to pass along some highlights from your recent playlists in the comments!

Life was pretty busy in the week before the Towpath Half Marathon.

I woke up on Friday to find that one of my tires had finally given up the ghost and died. All four tires on my car were very old and I knew that they would need to be replaced before snow started flying. Longtime readers may remember that I had a flat tire on the way to the Cleveland Marathon Expo. As I made arrangements to deal with my tire, I figured that perhaps the flat tire might be a good omen that signified that I would be having as much success at the Towpath Half as I did at the Cleveland Half Marathon.

Packet pickup was much closer to my house this year, which was nice. Whenever I go to an expo or packet pickup for a race with a distance that I have never previously run, I always feel a bit lost and uncertain…almost like I don’t belong there. I wind up wandering around in a daze and I’m sure that more than a few race volunteers have wondered how I managed to wind up at the starting line! Because I had already run a half marathon, I didn’t feel this way at packet pickup, and I had a good time stopping by the various booths and talking with the various exhibitors who were there. I picked up some Gu packets because I thought the aid stations only had Powerbar gels, which I have never used before.

After taking Sheila to the airport, I spent the evening relaxing at home with some video games and carboloading with a delicious Mexican pasta bake that Sheila made so that I wouldn’t starve while she was gone!

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I could seriously eat Mexican food for every meal. I took some students on a trip on Tuesday and I pointed out multiple Mexican restaurants that I love as we drove and by the end of the trip they were all making fun of my zeal for Mexican food. LOL!

As anyone who has read this blog for awhile now can attest, I have a bad habit of getting to races without much time to spare. Read the rest of this entry

If you follow me on Twitter (@ClevelandJoe), you may have seen that I tweeted, “I am going to have to keep training for marathons in order to force myself to keep space in my schedule for free time” at least two or three times over the past three weeks.

I took about two weeks off to rest after the Northern Ohio Marathon. Hindsight is always 20\20, of course, but I’m pretty sure that I came back too hard and too quickly after the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon and the Towpath 10-10 and that’s why I had some nagging injuries during late July and early August. With a few good months of running and racing ahead before the snow starts flying here in Ohio, I didn’t want to rush back after the longest run of my life and wind up sitting on the sidelines during November. Of course, the seven hours or so that I spent training each week promptly became consumed by work. I really love what I do, and I am blessed to work with students from a variety of ages. Nevertheless, going through a week without a few good runs during which I can clear my head is pretty rough.

When I wasn’t working, I spent a lot of time deciding whether I would run the Towpath Half Marathon or the 10K. Read the rest of this entry

Northern Ohio Marathon Race Recap

After I stayed up later than I probably should have typing up my last post, I went to bed feeling surprisingly calm about the Northern Ohio Marathon.

Predictably, I had trouble falling and staying asleep. At one point, I checked my phone and saw that it was 5:00AM, and I thought to myself, “In one hour you’re going to be getting ready for one of the biggest events of your life.” I’m not sure how I fell back asleep after that thought, but I did, because my 6:00AM alarm seemed like one of the most abrupt wakeup calls I’ve ever gotten in my lifetime.

As I scurried around getting ready, I noticed an awful smell coming from the living room. When I went in to get my GPS watch and iPod, I noticed that Butters had an accident on the floor. I hadn’t really factored in doggie cleanup time into my morning schedule, but I knew that I had to get that cleaned up. This put me behind schedule and I was pretty angry with him, especially when I wound up getting to the finish line with about a minute to spare before the start.

Later on, as I ran along during the first mile, I saw a “Lost Dog” poster advertising a lost dog with a reward of several thousand dollars. (I saw many more of the same poster on the rest of the course too. I hope they have located him!) This poster also said not to approach the dog because he was very shy. Seeing and reading this reminded me of how Butters was when we first met him at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter. He wouldn’t come near us, wouldn’t chase after a toy, and he showed no emotion when we went up to him and petted him. At that point, all of the residual anger and frustration that I had with our pup melted away. Sure, he can be a handful at times, but I’m sure glad that he’s part of our lives.

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Sheila soon joined me downstairs, and she told me that she felt pretty nauseous and ill from bad acid reflux that she had on Saturday night. (She later told me that she felt as bad as she did on Good Friday when she went to the MetroHealth ER!) I told her that I’d be OK on my own, but she insisted on coming along, so we headed out. Miraculously, I didn’t forget anything.

The trip took a lot longer than I had remembered… Read the rest of this entry