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Run for the Pierogies – Blogger Meetup and My First 5K

"Run for the Pierogies Day" at Cuyahoga Community College's Western Campus.

When I woke up on Saturday, it felt like Christmas morning.  However, the excitement and adrenaline weren’t for unwrapping presents under the tree.  It was raceday – my first 5K.

After Alicia at Poise in Parma announced that July 9th’s Ohio Blogging Meetup would be The Run for the Pierogies, it was the motivator I needed to try running for the first time in ten years.  So, for the last couple of months, I’ve been cluing into getting active in Cleveland

I upgraded my crosstrainers to running shoes (they feel so much better!).  I started walking and jogging around the neighborhood and dedicating part of my weekly personal training sessions at CSU to running on the treadmill and the indoor track.

I knew going into it I wouldn’t wake up one day and suddenly be able to run. When  I started training, I clocked in at 50 minutes and could hardly jog for more than 30 seconds. Although I didn’t want to set a difficult goal for myself, all I knew was that I wanted to at least beat that.

Pierogies - the perfect motivator

Over July 4th weekend, I got my time down to 44 :55 (a personal best). But then two days before – due to a combination of stress and a shoe mishap – I had a horrible run, coming in at 48:30. 

I was discouraged and went into my default mode for dealing with things like this — I started worrying. After some helpful advice and motivation from Alicia, my trainer Sean and Kali at Finishing Firsts, my anxiety faded a bit.  Regardless, though, when I woke up on Saturday, I could feel the nerves. And on the drive out to Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus in Parma, they intensified. 

Once Scott and I got out of the car, I realized it was a lot hotter and more humid than I had expected. The sun was beating down and I started reliving Thursday’s horrible performance in my head. 

Then I saw Alicia, HungryinCLE and WhyCLE’s friendly faces and reminded myself I had come out to Parma to have a good time and hang out/meet some local bloggers.

Hans, Poise in Parma, WhyCLE and me at the start line.

 In addition to Poise in Parma, Hungry in Cleveland and WhyCLE, here’s a rundown of who was there:

Get ready .... get set .... go!

After meeting everyone, we took our places for the race.  Whether it was the distraction of meeting new people or the adrenaline I had been told so much about, my nervousness turned to excitement as we lined up at the starting line. 

When they told us to go, the crowd lurched forward all at once.  I usually start my practice runs with a 5-minute warmup walk, but this was raceday and nothing could stop me from keeping pace.  Well, nothing could stop me for 2 minutes.  Usually I fizzle out after 1 and a half minutes of running but thanks to the adrenaline I pushed myself to 2 minutes straight. 

As I knew I would going into this, I soon fell behind the other bloggers. The heat and the sun were zapping my energy quick. However, I was surprised when I looked at my phone to check my status and realized after a mile I had shaved 4 minutes off of my normal time. Now I just had two more miles to go.

My personal paparazzi (Scott) stalked me down.

The track was a double loop through part of the Tri-C campus and as I was heading back for the second half of the run, the actual runners were starting to arrive at the finish line. Not letting that discourage me, I focused and kept moving, alternating every couple of minutes between walking and jogging.  

I saw a couple of bloggers who had already finished  or were nearing the end and got a boost of motivation from being cheered on.  And when I felt my worst around the 2 mile mark, there was Scott all of a sudden. 

Perfect timing! Scott had apparently camped out near the 2 mile marker for a couple minutes waiting for me to run by.  Seeing him for just a moment was all that I needed for the last stretch. I could finally see the finish line and despite how much my legs were screaming at me and my chest was heaving, I knew I was going to run it in.

As I crossed the line, I looked up at the clock and was floored. 42 minutes and 28 seconds.  A personal best for this non-runner on her first 5K!  

After cooling down, I grabbed a banana and my pierogies. “To the victor belong the spoils” and all that.  The pierogies were cooked up fresh by the Little Polish Diner and Krakow Foods. And if you’re going to run for something, I can’t think of anything better than delicious pierogies!

The finish line! Time to get those pierogies.

I know that if it weren’t for the help and motivation I got from friends and my fellow bloggers, I wouldn’t have been able to do the 5K. The emails, tweets and cheers along the way from everyone listed above and others like @MildlyRelevant and @TheHeldawg  were the best motivation. And Sean Grasso who has been an excellent trainer for the last couple of years helped me re-learn how to actually run and pace myself.

Most importantly, though, thanks to Scott — who put up with my training and cheered me on — especially when he popped up during the race. As usual, that guy has impeccable timing.

Even though I didn’t expect it when I first signed up, this month’s Ohio Blogger Meetup has been my favorite yet. I learned I actually enjoy running. While I know I’m not going to win medals anytime soon, preparing for the race and competing against myself was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to my next 5k on August 6 — the Independence 5K Run/Walk to A Healthier You.

If you’d like to read other bloggers’ recaps of the race and how they did, check out posts from Mollyberries’ Hodge Podge (she placed 2nd out of women — congrats!), Finishing FirstsMojomala2, Poise in Parma, and WhyCLE.

And if you blog — or are thinking about blogging — join us at our next meetup on August 11 when we take in a Cleveland Indians game.

The best cheerleader anyone could ask for.

Clue Into Being Active in CLE

HermesCleveland.com offers way to get active in Cleveland

By no stretch of the imagination am I an athlete. If you’ve been following this blog even for a short while, you’ll know my huge loves are food and the arts. And although I enjoy watching sports, I don’t often participate in them.

A huge reason for this is that I’m just not that good at it.  Combined with the fact that I can be overly competitive, I tend to beat myself up when I don’t do well and end up not having a good time.

Despite this, though, I’ve recently started pushing myself to be more active. It started by joining Hungry in CLE‘s kickball team For Whom the Ball Rolls.  Part of the Hermes Sports and Social league, we meet every Tuesday at Tremont’s Clark Field to play kickball.  And it’s a lot of fun (even if I am too hard on myself)!

I haven’t played kickball since grade school and have quickly realized how little I remember of the game.  But I’m learning, and even if I still can’t figure out how to kick the ball so that it’s not a pop-up out, I’ll get there eventually.  In addition to Hungry in CLE, fellow bloggers @MildlyRelevant and Why CLE? are on the team.

Thanks to OH Blogging Association, I'm running my first 5K on July 9th

I can also thank blogging for introducing me to the other sports activity I’m undertaking this summer.

When Poise in Parma announced that July 9th’s Ohio Blogging Meet up would be The Run for the Pierogies, I initially planned on cheering everyone on and meeting up for brunch after the race. The last time I participated in any sort of running (and I use the term loosely) was over ten years ago.  And even then, I grudgingly walked it as part of the mandatory fitness tests in high school.

However, another one of the great things about the Ohio Blogging Association is being able to learn from other bloggers’ stories and take motivation from what has motivated them.

After these bloggers – Poise in Parma, Healthy Heddleston, WhyCLE, HungryinCLE, Finishing Firsts, A Slice of Kiwi, Mojamala2 – shared their experiences about running or getting fit (whether it was ten years or just a few months ago), I realized I could stop joking about my lack of athleticism and lace up my sneakers at the Run for the Pierogies.

And if nothing else, there is the promise of pierogies at the end of it.

Pierogies!

For once, though, I’m not setting a lofty goal.  I want to have fun while doing this and figure if I push myself too hard, I’m going to discourage myself from doing it at all.  So after clocking myself walking a 5K at a little over 50 minutes, I’m hoping to end up somewhere between 45 and 50 minutes.

Between getting winded quickly, the shin splints and hamstring strain, I’m taking it slow and confess it’ll be more of a “Speed Walk for the Pierogies” than anything else.  But it’s ok. I’m having fun and looking ahead to future 5Ks.

If you’re likewise trying to find small ways you can get more active in Cleveland, check out Hermes’ Cleveland Sports and Social activities. They offer leagues throughout the year, including volleyball, bowling, softball and skeeball.

You can also join me at the Run for the Pierogies in Parma on July 9th (a Hermes Road Racing event). There is a 1 mile and a 5k option.  Registration is $20 each and benefits the American Cancer Society Parma Area Relay for Life. The American Cancer Society is an organization that’s personally close to my heart, so I’m glad my first 5K is going to support it.

Since I’ve needed to kick myself into gear, I’ve found that Active.com and Cool Running’s Couch to 5K program are excellent resources for training.  Although I’ve had to modify some of Couch to 5K’s tips because I’m ridiculously out of shape and have a shorter time frame for my training, I’m planning to continue working on this after the 5K is over.

Have your own suggestions for how to get more active in Cleveland, including any 5Ks after July 9th you’d like to recommend?

Share them in the comments section below!

(Images from HermesCleveland.com, OHBlogging.com and Facebook.com/OHBlogging, respectively)