My 2017 Cleveland Half Marathon training + experience

So, my plans to revive this ol’ blog may not have gone as planned. However, I used to share all sorts of running and fitness posts so I thought why not recap the Cleveland Half Marathon?

The journey to dust off my race shoes began when Team Fat Camp (aka my workout crew from Hyland) decided to sign up for the Cleveland Half. I thought, hey, why not? It may have been 5 years since I’ve participated in an official 13.1-mile run, however, when the weather is right, running is my jam. I even joined my friend Christie for 11ish miles last fall as she prepped for the Philly full marathon. (Mental thought: I got this!)

Just as blogging went on the backburner this spring, long runs did, too. Between bachelorette parties, a destination wedding, wedding showers (sense a theme?) and an always busy work and life calendar, I was lucky to get in the 3 longer runs that I did!

After placing second in my age group (old) and running fairly fast (7:13 pace), I was feeling pretty good post Cleveland Ten Miler. The timing of the ten miler was convenient in case my training continued to be stagnant, too.

The week before the half, I had signed up to run in my work’s annual 5K. Again, my running compadre encouraged me to run 5-6 miles with her before the 5K and I’m so glad she did. (Mental thought: 8+ miles the week before the half, I got this!)

Enter May 21: Race day! After all the worry and excessive checking of the weather, I woke up rested and pretty excited about the temperature and dry conditions (note: I usually loooove running in the heat).

It was also pretty great to see at least 3 friendly faces (including Tabitha) before even making my way to the starting corral. The happy thoughts are about to come to a screeching halt…

Without getting into every minute detail, here’s a breakdown of my thoughts  during the 13.1 13.34 miles:

  • Coming out strong! These first 3 miles are flying and the scenery is on point (Playhouse Square, Browns stadium, spectators everywhere!)
  • The Flats are back and I need to check out Collison Bend Brewery.
  • What mile am I on?! There has yet to be a mile marker, or a race clock for that matter. (And no, I refuse to look at Nike+ Run Club while I run.)
  • Are we running up THAT hill after the Columbus Bridge? Shit.
  • Post Columbus hill: Is this race over yet? Was that only mile 4? Shit.
  • Hi Hylanders! The Hy-5 water stop was a needed boost.
  • Mind vs. matter from here on out. Don’t worry about running fast, just finish.
  • WHY DIDN’T I CHECK COURSE ELEVATION? Note: Would be nice if the official race course was NOT a PDF.
  • Oh look, there’s Dean again! Now he’s riding his bike on the sidewalk – ‘Dean go away!’ I only asked him to go away because I wanted to ride his bike 🙂
  • I’m thirsty. I’m dehydrated. Stop running for time. Try to enjoy this.
  • Mind vs. matter is alive and real.
  • Final stretch is here! Is that a TWO (hour) on the clock!? (It wasn’t, maybe I was hallucinating.)

As I crossed the finish line, I literally got light-headed – that’s a first! After a few minutes and a bottle of water, I felt fine but it was a reminder that I should’ve ran with a water bottle or water belt – lesson learned.

I happened to PR this year’s CLE half, by 6 minutes, with a final finish time of 1:41:22. Yes, I’m definitely proud of myself – 13.1 miles is no easy feat.

Newsflash! Running doesn’t always come easy and it’s not always fun. Hello, this is life. I simply had hopes that I would enjoy those minutes pounding the pavement throughout the city.

It wasn’t all bad (I’m kidding)…My absolute favorite part of participating in the CLE Marathon is the friendly faces you see mile after mile (shout out to the dudes passing out beer in Tremont). I saw about 12 unexpected friends cheering on the sidelines (Halle, you gave me LIFE!). And Dean, your biking and cheering was on point.

Long runs aside, I wasn’t a lazy slug all winter and spring and every workout helped me achieve the goal of running fast. No specific time, just run fast. #vague.

From Fat Camp (what up Jake) to psycle and even a few Orange Theory classes, I keep active but that doesn’t equal being prepped to happily run a half.

One final thought, I AM SORE.

To all my friends, you know who you are, who want me to run a full marathon, this half doesn’t help your case. But, never say never!

So, did you participate or head downtown for this year’s Rite Aid? What’d you think of the course, city and marathon festivities?

HA – such a difference in color between short and shirt color from 7am to 9am. 🙂




Bachelorette partying in Ellicottville, NY

My prom date (aka one of my lifelong best buddies) is getting married! He shockingly picked a wonderful girl to marry, Beth 😉 . Beth and I have become good friends over the past few years and she was kind enough to include me in her bachelorette party festivities. The plan: Après ski, hot tub and overall shenanighan’s. Sign me up!

The wacky weather had other intentions. When Court, Linds, Andrea and I packed up the car in CLE, it was a balmy 78-degree February day. Alas, the ski gear stayed home but we all packed our party pants.

After our 3-hour drive to Great Valley, NY, we got dolled up and went to a swanky private dinner in the basement of Dina’s. After we got a base in our belly, it was off to the Gin Mill for a quick drink then we wrapped up the evening at Balloon’s. Hysteria ensues at Balloon’s, for the record (I even ran into a Hyland friend – Hi Analise!).

Not surprisingly, the first night ended up in the chalet hot tub!

Day two was almost a replica of Friday night. Since the 15 of us skipped the slopes, we explored downtown Ellicottville in the daylight. We grabbed some pizza at Dina’s, hit some local shops, grabbed a beer at the Ellicottville Brewing Company and wrapped up our day-venture with another visit to the Gin Mill.

Happy Bachelorette, Beth! #aprésski #beffrey

A post shared by Alana Coticchia (@dawgpndgirl) on

Saturday night was more hot tubbing, gifts for the bride-to-be (no photos allowed!) and an old school house party. All in all, a fun girls weekend!

I’d love to check out Ellicottville again with Dean when there is snow on the ground. For a quick trip from Cleveland, Ellicottville is definitely worth considering.

Next up on the Beffrey (Beth + Jeff, get it?!) train: a bridal shower and a destination wedding in Asheville, N.C. Let’s do this!

Hello…Is this thing on? 

It’s been 4 months since I blogged. Before that, it was a 3-month hiatus. I could keep going, but I think it’s pretty clear this blog has become less of a priority than it was 4, 56 or even 7 years ago.

When DreamHost badgered me that I needed to renew hosting, I eagerly deleted each reminder. The evening before the funds were due, I haphazardly busted out my credit card and renewed The Dawg’s Dish for two more years. I simply didn’t want to flush all these memories, experiences and let’s be honest, work down the toilet.

I mean, I documented Cabela’s puppyhood, our wedding and so many other fantastic adventures Dean and I have had. And I can’t forget the infamous battle with the not-to-be-named Barre studio on the east side.

Ironically, I’ve been seeing my friend Allison (met her from blogging, RIP Green Dog Wine blog) each Saturday morning this year at psycle for Bob’s spinning class. We got to talking about blogging, or really, lack there of. I confessed I renewed my hosting; I forgot to tell her that her blog was my favorite back in 2009, along with Heatha‘s blog (RIP Mile 26 and More). The blog graveyard keeps growing!

In the end, we agreed it’s a difficult call to turn off your personal, but public, online diary that you invested so much time and effort into.

Fun fact: Still friends with Christie (neighbors and co-workers, too) and Heather. The above photo was from a run at Crocker Park in 2011. MEMORIES I’D NEVER REMEMBER: Reason alone to keep this ol’ blog alive.

Do people even read blogs anymore? Working in marketing, I know they do. I read a few local blogs now and again and visit my favorite food blog regularly.

What’s my point?

I’m realistic, this isn’t some aggressive blogging comeback. However, I do want to document the upgrades and updates we (Dean) have done to our (not-so-new anymore) home. I also signed up for the Cleveland Half Marathon with my #HylandLife Fat Camp friends – I used to do a lot of fitness blogging! And honestly, I miss the creative outlet this blog once was for me.

There is never a shortage of fun, friends, family, fitness and food in my life. You may not see as much of it here, but if you’re inclined, follow along on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter: dawgpndgirl.

Here’s to hoping the next blog is next month, not next quarter!

Pier W Wine Dinner Takes Guests on a ‘Tour of Italy’

Date night? Birthday? Anniversary? Insert other excuse to go out to dinner here? Pier W has you covered and is always on the top of our lists for any reason to wine and dine.


Why? Well, they hands down have one of the best views of Cleveland. Their seafood game is STRONG. The ambiance is on point. Oh yeah, and their happy hour specials at the bar are some of the most affordable and tasty treats around.

If you have a special event to celebrate or are looking for a fun date night, I’d suggest heading to Pier W for the ‘Tour of Italy’ dinner on November 1.

Check out the menu:

1st Course

Lobster Carpaccio

Lobster Carpaccio, Accompanied by Mango Mignonette Sauce, Poached Asparagus Tips, Shaved Shallots, Frisee

IL Folli Prosecco “Extra Dry” ~ Veneto ~ Italy ~ N.V.

2nd Course

Prosciutto & Ricotta Agnolotti

Sliced Prosciutto, Medley of Italian Olives and Ricotta Filled Ravioli, Finished with Truffle Beurre Blanc, Butter Roasted Mushroom and Porcini Powder

Tenuta di Trinoro ~ Passopisciaro “Etna Rosso” ~ Nerello Mascalese ~ Sicily ~ Italy ~ 2013

3rd Course

Australian Lamb Chops

Sous Vide and Roasted Lamb Chops, on a Garlic Herb Butter Risotto and Batonette Steamed Vegetable Medley, Topped with a Mostarda Demi-Glace with Sundried Tomatoes

Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo ~ Nebbiolo ~ Piedmonte ~ Italy ~ 2011

4th Course

Vanilla Napoleon

Crisp Puff Pastry, Vanilla Cream,

Maple Anglaise, Mixed Nut Crumble

Marco Cecchini Picolit ~ Friuli-Venezia Giulia ~ Italy ~ 2008


When I asked Dean to join me, he couldn’t say ‘YES’ quickly enough. My Italian husband has a thing for pasta, seafood and wine 🙂

Tickets to the dinner are $85 plus tax and gratuity. Call 216-228-2250 to secure your spot today!

Disclosure: I was asked to help promote this event and have received two complementary tickets to the dinner. As always, opinions are mine.

{Over a year later} Backyard renovations: An update!

It was almost exactly one year ago to the date when I blogged about the one or two (or 25) hiccups that happened in our backyard as we tried to do one relatively small project. Where does the Internet time go?! Honestly, if you would’ve asked me a year ago, I thought it all would’ve been done by the fall. Haven’t I learned any better by now?

July 22, 2015

July 22, 2015

Last summer threw some outdoor curve balls our way but that didn’t stop me from hosting the beginning of one epic bachelorette party on those pretty new pavers. Who cares if girls had to walk on unset stone and 2x4s in heels to get there?

missys last fling

As fall approached, we finally got our new, improved and upgraded deck. I’ve been obsessed ever since. No one wants to find water almost leaking into their house, ever. But if you (aka dad) do before interior damage is done, you get insurance to pitch in and wind up with a deck nearly 3 times the original size? OK, I can get behind that.

backyard deck project

Since fall, we’ve added some nice touches to the deck. By we, again I mean Dean and my dad. Between the outdoor ‘kitchen’ area complete with a grill and countertops to the built-in bar area alongside our new furniture, I have found Heaven. It’s in our backyard.

bar and new patio furniture


Oh, I got ahead of myself. That was about two weeks ago 🙂

That husband of mine. His creativity, plans and boyish ideas know no bounds! Before summer 2016 rolled around (and we 100% completed the deck area), it was time for Dean’s Big Kahuna: HIS BACKYARD GARAGE (aka barn, man cave, small home).

shed to garage process

While all this work was being done, there was no stopping Dean and I from being the entertainers we are. Our best friends and family have been making memories at our pad, which is what it’s all about anyways, right? 🙂

garage and yard progress

parties on the new deck

I have to give credit when credit is due. Dean was the mastermind behind all of these updates. However, we both had a vision for the table Dean tirelessly built last year. That vision came together earlier this summer at Alissa + Matt’s engagement party:

matt and alissas engagement party


So, the garage (for the most part) is complete. From all these projects, rain and heavy duty machinery, our yard took a major beating. I thought we were almost done. Again, what do I know?

I forgot that we needed to re-grade the entire yard! Get a Bob Cat and take out the 10-foot weeds that have grown next to the new barn! Pour hundreds of yards of dirt! Spread gravel! Buy boulders! Oh my!

dirt in the backyard

Maybe we’ll be done this summer. Maybe we won’t.

Am I going to stress about it? No. I’ll be reading on the deck until those leaves start falling and it’s time to cheer on the Brownies.

And if you need some help in your yard, my husband and dad aren’t for purchase, but we used: Design Surfaces for the outdoor counter tops, Oster Services and Zbin landscaping.

Editor’s note and husband note: Alana’s blogging talent and time have subsided but maybe next edition we will show how great the deck looks today!

RTA launches mobile app {+ a giveaway!}

How amazing is it to be in Cleveland right now? From being World Champs to all the new and exciting development, to the RNC, there is no doubt CLE is on fire. We’re looking so good, I think we may shake that awful moniker that has haunted us all for years.

Summer 2016 on The Cuyahoga

Summer 2016 on The Cuyahoga

Alana and Lori NBA ChampsSpeaking of being NBA Champs, did you take the Rapid or RTA on parade day? My dear friend and I were planning to but ended up snagging a ride downtown and a boat ride (balling!) home. If you’ve been paying attention to the RTA’s marketing efforts recently, you’ve probably heard about the #IGoRTA campaign (I’ve heard radio spots and seen the ad on my Words with Friends app-no shame).

Which brings me to the highlight of this blog post: RTA is launching an app on July 18th that will help RTA riders plan their trips, track riding options and pay for rides right from their mobile device.

You’ll start to hear a lot more about this app during RTA’s Summer Tour: Wade Oval Wednesdays, Edgewater Live (on Thursdays), Eucfest on August 26th, as well as all Friday and Saturday Indians home games through August 20th.

Are you heading to Edgewater Live this Thursday, July 14? Stop by the RTA booth to try their new mobile app first hand!

The RTA wants to know how you go RTA so they have offered up 2 movie passes to Cleveland Cinemas and a $15 Melt gift card to The Dawg’s Dish readers! Enter to win by…

Socially share with the hashtag #IGoRTA and leave a link to your tweet, Facebook status, etc. in the comments section (must comment on this blog post to enter). Example tweets:

  • #IGoRTA to play Pokemon GO!  <– LOL
  • #IgoRTA via the Rapid to Browns games

Have fun with it and let us now how you go!

You can enter as many times as you’d like through Monday, July 18, 2016. Good luck and happy summer!

Disclaimer: I was asked to help promote the new RTA mobile app in exchange for Indians tickets and a gift card. As always, opinions are my own.

Pier W’s Copper River Salmon Run {Giveaway}

Don’t call it a comeback, but I may partake in a few fun runs this summer. I am already signed up for Hyland’s annual Hy-5 on May 14 and plan to participate in Pier W’s Copper River Salmon Run annual 5K the following Saturday.

Four years ago (before my wedding madness and before my friend’s and family’s wedding festivities begun), I actually was quite the runner. It’s not that I hung up my running shoes. In fact, as the weather has broke this season, I’ve been pounding the pavement 3-4 times a week. It’s just that I don’t sign up for road races and feel the camaraderie anymore. Perhaps these two runs will reignite my racing mojo!

Cincinnati's Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon in 2011.

Cincinnati’s Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon in 2011.

Are you looking for a race on Cleveland’s west side this May? I invite you to join me at the Copper River Run! It’s no secret I’m one of Pier W biggest fans. So why not run a 5K and get rewarded with Copper River Salmon burgers, vegan black bean burgers, all beef burgers or turkey hot dogs provided by one of my favorite restaurants? Added bonus, all proceeds will benefit Malachi House. Even if you’re not a runner, bring $12 and you can enjoy lunch with some of the best views Cleveland has to offer.

Celebrating back in 2012 at Pier W.

Celebrating back in 2012 at Pier W.

So sign up today or enter to win a free race entry by:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can enter through Sunday, May 8 (don’t forget Mother’s Day!). Good luck and I hope to see you on the road soon!

Copper salmon_final

Disclosure: In exchange for hosting this giveaway, I was given a free race admission.

Cleveland Home +Remodeling Expo: Giveaway!

It’s almost time for the third Cleveland Home +Remodeling Expo! I’m especially excited this year because of the show’s venue, The Cleveland Convention Center. Not that I don’t look forward to the epic people watching and affordable parking situation at the IX Center, but I like any excuse that gets me downtown these days. Working and living in the ‘burbs leaves me missing our great city!

I also love any excuse to surround myself with anything HGTV. If Dean’s not home, you can bet I’m catching up on House Hunters, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper or some other addiciting show on my favorite network. So when I found out Drew and Jonathan Scott will be at this year’s event, I called my HGTV-loving mom and we marked our calendars for a Saturday funday on March 19.

drew and jonathon scott

For all of my DIY and home improvement obsessed friends, I have two tickets to give away to the Cleveland Home +Remodeling Expo that runs March 18-20! You can enter by:

1. Post a comment telling me what your favorite HGTV show is.
2. Tweet the following (you can tweet once per day – post a comment letting me know you tweeted): I want to win tickets to the CLE @GreatBigShow from @dawgpndgirl:

I will randomly select a winner on Friday, March 11.

You can purchase tickets online and save an extra $1 using code DAWGSDISHHR.

Disclosure: I was provided two complementary tickets in exchange for this blog post.

All About the Bag 2016: recap

Last week, my mom and I headed to the east side (a rarity!) for The Hunger Network’s All About the Bag fashion benefit. I had a great time running into friends old and new, catching up with fellow bloggers and checking out the fashion! It’s safe to say my mom also enjoyed the event…

The photo says it all: Mother loves the Browns. Mother ingrained said love of the Browns into her daughter. Can you tell we’re related?

Joe Thomas is as nice as you’d imagine him to be!

The event was executed very well, in my opinion. There was the perfect amount of time upon arrival for networking, grabbing a bite to eat and having a drink or two all while checking out the items up for raffle. The fashion show itself was probably 30 minutes – not too short, not too long!

Last I was updated, the event raised $90,000! That’s a lot of meals to feed the hungry in Cleveland!

Waiting for the show to begin!

Waiting for the show to begin!

After the fashion wrapped up, attendees and the ‘models’ mingled for about 45 minutes and just like that, it was time to go home! Time flies, as they say. Before we hit the road, I snapped a picture with Tank Carter, caught up with Jenn and Scott (Psycle Stars and models!) and my mom geeked out with Alex Mack (sorry Alyssa! ;))

all about the bag 2016

Looking to donate to this great cause? Check out their next event, Run/Walk for Hunger on May 7th at the Great Lakes Science Center!

Disclosure: I was provided two general admission tickets in exchange for promoting this event. As always, opinions are all mine.

Mission unplug, unwind, refresh & recharge

Did you know 40% of Americans don’t use their vacation days (aka PTO=Paid Time Off)? I was aware PTO went to waste in most organizations, but I had no idea the statistic was so staggering until The NOW (News Channel 5) visited my workplace to highlight our sabbatical program. Hyland’s sabbatical program is pretty spectacular: after 8 years, employees are encouraged to take 4 weeks off, paid, with no obligation or expectation to work. Five years for me to go!

I digress. Dean and I have an upcoming 8-day vacation planned to go down to Florida to visit his parents and get some QT in with the beach, ocean and fishing rods. When are we going you ask, internet robbers? I don’t think so! 🙂

Pompano, January 2013

Pompano, January 2013

I am using 7 days of PTO for this trip. Historically, when I take a long weekend or a few days of PTO, I check my work phone multiple times throughout the day. It’s not something that bothers me. Part of my job requires me to always be ‘on’ to a certain degree. I am going to try my best to leave that habit in the 440 for this upcoming trip. I earned that PTO after all, right? Editors note: My honeymoon doesn’t count for this type of behavior. I think I even turned that extra iPhone off.

Younger toes in Pompano, 2009.

Younger toes in Pompano, 2009.

And let’s be honest, I’m not saving lives. Also, my teammates are baller and more than willing to take on extra responsibility…while I drink Corona Lights on the beach with a book in hand…

This is also going to be a test for my personal self. Not checking into work will feel nice for a week, but putting my phone down to enjoy the present may be tough. What’s going on in the Twitterverse? Who just snapchatted me? How many likes did Dean’s Instagram get (serious concerns in our household)?

Enjoying drinks in South Beach in 2010

Enjoying drinks in South Beach in 2010

So, as I prepare to semi-detach (let’s be honest, there will be some personal emailing, instagramming and snapchatting on the trip), I wonder if I’m alone in this addiction to my mobile device and email. When you take time off, do you turn it all off or are you still connected to your responsibilities and devices?