I chose Beth as the current featured athlete because she’s your typical runner – but with a twist. She spent a good year running with pain and decided to put the time and effort into addressing her weaknesses, correcting her running form and at the same time she decided upon a HUGE goal for 2014: to run 14 half marathons! Read about her experience and get inspired for your own big goals this year!
At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to train for. I wanted to challenge myself. Last year I saw some girls do 13 half marathons in 2013. Without caring about pace, I could at the very least find 14 races to do in Ohio and not take any time off work. I wanted to at least PR (even if it was by 10 seconds) once, but I knew it might be hard. Little did I know the journey that completing 14 half marathons in a year would take me.
My smallest race had only 8 people racing the half marathon. I came in 7th. My biggest was Columbus NCH with 18,000 people. I was near the front of the second wave for Columbus. As we were sent off with fireworks, I thought about that small race in the ice and lonely roads. I smiled from ear to ear and I looked up at the spectators… something that I rarely saw in my races this year.
14 half marathons, two 10 mile races, two 10k races, two 5k races, a 15k, and a 5 miler combined with my husband’s 2 half iron man races and full iron man race totaled the amount of races to 25 for the year. So, I was pretty much going to races every other weekend. We were busy, but it kept me focused. There was always a race around the corner.
My least favorite half marathon was the small one in February. There were 8 people running the half and it was hilly open roads. On top of that, there was plenty of ice that melted into freezing cold puddles. I practically crawled my way to finish the 13.6 mile race. I even almost got run over by a speeding snow plow and had to jump into a three foot high snow bank. My favorite was Columbus. There were so many people cheering and the weather was perfect for the occasion. I don’t know if I was actually smiling, but I felt like I was the entire time.
Sticking to one distance and maintaining my mileage allowed me to work more on my speed (or lack thereof). At the beginning of the year, I worked so hard. I trained in the cold and snow but it didn’t seem like my pace would ever improve. For whatever reason, it finally broke. I ran a half marathon with a sinus cold, back in June, in Cincinnati and PR’d by 5.5 minutes! After that, my times just fell. I ended up the year by improving my PR by exactly 14 minutes! If you had asked me if that was possible in May, I would have said absolutely not.
Prior to this year my PR’s were:
Half Marathon: 2:24:26
After this year my PR’s are:
5k: 29:27 (-0:31)
10k: 1:00:58 (-5:11)
Half Marathon: 2:10:26 (-14:00)
1. How long have you been racing?
I ran my first race in August 2012. It was a small 5k race and my first time not running on a treadmill. I came second in my age group by finishing the 5k in 29:58 minutes. It was all adrenaline.
2. What is your favorite race distance?
I would have to say after this year, my favorite race distance is the half marathon. I can manage the training in my busy schedule better than a marathon, but it is still enough of a challenge to keep me pushing hard.
3. What is your upcoming racing goal?
My next big race is another marathon. I signed up for the 2015 Flying Pig Marathon. My one and only marathon was a disaster. I got sick the week of my marathon and my running partner, who flew in from New Mexico to run with me, had a knee issue during the race. Not to mention the fact that training was stressful. I made every run happen, but moving, changing jobs and working 12 hr. days meant it was difficult to fit it all in. I also had other sport commitments, which meant that my long runs were often done at 3am slowly in the dark. There were days when I would close my eyes running and realize I could fall asleep right there on the side of the trail. This is a redemption race. I would love to improve my time; but if all else fails, I have been told that spectators offer adult beverages during the marathon.
4. How did you stay healthy during training and racing?
I listened to my body. I knew I could finish a half marathon, so if I was questioning an injury, I could easily slow down the pace or if needed, reduce mileage. If I wasn’t sure if it was an injury vs. normal soreness, I always talked to Kari. Doing the running-specific strength and form exercises that she prescribed helped to keep me mobile and prevented any injuries. The previous year, I always had hip pain but as I strengthened my glutes and hips, and worked on my running form, it disappeared. I also was very strict with my workouts. If it was a hard workout, then I pushed exceptionally hard. If it was a recovery run, then I treated it as such. Between races, I especially listened to my body before each workout. If I felt I needed more recovery time, then I slowed down.
5. What’s your favorite post-race meal?
My appetite after races is very low. Sometimes, it takes me a few days before I really feel like eating food. When my stomach finally recovers, I like to try to treat myself with the “burnin love” Red Robin hamburger and share an adult Irish Beer Shake. I’m pretty sure that this replaces any calorie loss from the race, but I run so that I can eat such things without gaining (much) weight. 😉
6. What do you enjoy most about running and/or racing?
I love improving. I am a very slow runner and I try so hard to improve. Some days I feel like I am only getting slower, but come race day, I often surprise myself. My mind is committed and I push myself as hard as I can. Racing makes me look inside myself and see the strength that is there.
The 14 Half Marathons Beth Raced (and PR’d 4 times!) in 2014:
1/1/14 Liberty Half Marathon: 2:35:01
2/2/14 Super Bowl Half Marathon: 2:44:53
3/16/14 Cincinnati Heart Health Half Marathon: 2:29:56
3/29/14 Three Creeks Half Marathon: 2:24:35
4/6/14 Xenia Half Marathon: 2:26:02
4/13/14 Athens Half Marathon: 2:23:41 (PR)
5/3/14 Cap City Half Marathon: 2:23:54
6/28/14 Cincinnati Half Marathon: 2:19:11 (PR)
8/9/14 Happy Half Trainers Half Marathon: 2:13:23 (PR)
8/17/14 Little Miami Half Marathon: 2:18:17
9/14/14 Green Cathedral Half Marathon: 2:25:30
10/4/14 Run Like a Girl Half Marathon: 2:13:41
10/19/14 Columbus NCH Half Marathon: 2:10:26 (PR)
11/8/14 Fall Into Winter Half Marathon: 2:10:49