Take 5!

Hey lovelies!!

I know…I’ve been neglecting the blog…especially product reviews as of late.  Life has been a bit crazy.  But with my first marathon back from injury now in the books (even though it did not go well at all)…I feel like things are settling back down and I can get right back on track.

YAY!!

So…let me start off by reminding you that I am a Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon Race Ambassador!!!  It’s true!

What is it they say?  Pictures or it didn’t happen?  Well…it happened:


What a great team to be working with!!  Seriously…I met them at the big kick-off meeting last week and, seriously, we all bring something different and unique to the group.  And I love all of them already.  And I’ve only just met most of them.

So…now to the entire purpose of this post.

Do you know how amazing the NUMBER FIVE (5) is?  Well…let me tell you a few ways…

1. Cinco de Mayo

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Runners LOVE to eat and drink, am I right?  And while these days we have important things like…Taco Tuesday…and the like, the ultimate Mexican-themed holiday has to go to Cinco de Mayo.  While this is not even a federal holiday in Mexico, this doesn’t stop me (and the rest of the USA) from breaking out the chips, salsa, guacamole, tequila, sombreros, etc…and celebrating the 5th day of the 5th month.  Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s Independence day…but the day actually commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.  There you have it.  The more you know.

Now, pass me the guacamole!

2. The Five Second Rule

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HA!!  We’ve all done it.  Eating a tasty treat and then…WHOOPS…you drop it and it hits the floor.  This is the little unwritten rule that says…hey…that delicious food item is still safe to eat.  I mean…we’d hate to let it go to waste, right?

3.  High Fives

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We, collectively, as runners…LOVE a good high five.  I mean, you’re running the later miles of a distance race and there is a child/adult/spouse/friend/complete stranger with that infamous sign…

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Whether it’s up high, down low…ooops…too slow (see what I did there?), there is nothing more uplifting than a mid-race high five.  For real!!  This little hand clap makes victories sweeter, the low times a bit more tolerable, and…they sure do make you think that you are getting that power up promised, as you run your way through the streets, when you slap your hand together with a stranger.

4. The ever-popular 5K race

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It is the perfect distance for some…and torture for others.  But if you are looking to get better, faster, stronger…the 5K race is the race for you.  And, in addition, you aren’t out for hours on end on a weekend.  Anywhere between 15-45 minutes…and BOOM…you’re done!!  Is it any wonder the 5K race is where most runners start?  It’s a warm-up…it’s a challenge…it it easy…it hurts…it is hard.  It’s all these things…and that’s why we love to hate and continue to run…those 5K races.

5.  $5 OFF #KDFMARATHON RACE REGISTRATION

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As I mentioned above, I am one of the Race Ambassadors for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon!  And this is a great opportunity to get a discount on your race registration, whether you choose to go 13.1 miles (Mini Marathon) or 26.2 (Marathon).  Here’s the deal…all you need to do is head over to the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon Registration Page and click on the button to begin your registration.  Enter the following code between September 15 – September 29, 2016 and recieve $5 OFF your registration:

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And, remember, when you see the question:

Were you referred by a race ambassador?

Choose my name – Karen Brady!!

See…the number 5 is a wonderful thing!!  Now, stop procrastinating and hesitating and get registering.  Come seek out a finish line with us!!

#KDFMarathon #KDFMarathonAmbassador #comerunwithus

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Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (September 17, 2016)

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Me heading into the finishing line of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon (completely soaked) – Indianapolis, IN

Race: Indy Women’s Half Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: September 17, 2016

Time: 1:47:02

Okay…I admit it…running a half marathon only 2 weeks after dying in a brutal (both with hills (aka: mountains), heat and humidity) in Hawaii…and on the week you are back from a 10 day vacation where you crossed ALL THE TIME ZONES at some point…well…it definitely wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve made.

But…you know…this one was for me.  Last year, my 35th birthday (you know…when you move up an age division) fell on a Saturday and there were so many races running that day…but I was in a boot…and not running.  So this year, I felt like I needed something for me.  Something that I could do to celebrate.  And I knew when I signed up for it that it wouldn’t be a PR due to the marathon I was running 2 weeks prior…but I still wanted to do this one.

So, at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon…I signed up (and got a free wineglass for doing so!)…and…Cathy was kind enough to kick in the additional $25 for the VIP status for the race.  So…there was that.

I was seriously hurting after the full marathon in Hawaii.  The hip and the foot were both problems, and despite taking a whole week off before even starting up any sort of activity…my body was not feeling the love.  Since I had this half marathon, though, I did go out for a couple of slow, steady, easy, shorter runs in the early mornings this past week.  Nothing over 6 miles…and it was a slow build and then a cut back.  And I said…that would work.  Half marathon…here we come!

And so, Friday rolled around.  And after a highly stressful day at the office where I was just all over the place trying to get stuff done, only to have my baskets overflowing every time I started to clear them out…I was trying to stay calm and relaxed.  But it wasn’t happening.  My roomie and I cleared it with the boss to leave early, so when 3 p.m. rolled around, we were heading out the door to make the 2 hour drive up to Indianapolis.  And, thankfully, the traffic gods were with us.  Not too many slowdowns, so, that was nice.  That takes a bit of the stress off.

We were staying at the host hotel, The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre, so it was a matter of getting to the door for valet parking (stress-free parking, yep, we’ll pay for that!) and getting checked in.  This would normally be a super-easy task, except…some jackass pulled in sideways ahead of us, blocking the lane and any parking area behind him, and sent his wife in to check in while he piddled around with luggage and ordered the valet around a bit…and then said he was going to self-park not valet…and then decided (I guess) that his wife couldn’t check-in without his help so he LEFT HIS CAR like that and totally jacked up that lane of traffic and any incoming traffic (it was the host hotel, there was a ton of incoming traffic to the hotel).  He didn’t care.  And then…he took his time getting back to his car and in his car to go and pull out of that spot so we could pull up and in and let the flow of traffic start again.  BOO!!  People suck.

Anyway, we were actually quick to park and grab our bags and get the valet ticket.  I headed inside to get checked in.  Which, didn’t take too long at all.  The people in front of me simply had questions. I loved that the Sheraton front desk people were sporting the bright, fluorescent pink Indy Women’s Half Marathon & 5K t-shirts.  I think all host hotels should do this.  It really gets you excited.

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The view from my room at The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre

The expo was just downstairs, but I needed to drop my bags first.  So, up to room 1425 we went…got inside, dropped our stuff…and had to check the view.  For the first time in FOREVER…room with a freakin’ view.  LOVED it.  Beautiful. Especially with the daylight sort of…easing out.  So, that was good.

So, now it was expo time.  YAY expo.  The expo for the Indy Women’s Half Marathon is bigger than it used to be, but still a small event.  I went to get my packet and t-shirt first.  That part was easy.  I had been e-mailed my bib number (1398) earlier that week…so I went up to the table and gave the nice lady (with a nice accent) my number and…boom…easy.  Fantastic race bag with gorgeous race shirt handed over to me.  And now…time to explore.

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Back of the official merchandise t-shirt…my name is on there twice. HA!  Twinning with myself.  If only they had this in my size (or close to my size)…

Like I said, there wasn’t too much going on here, but I got a foot massage ball and ended up purchasing a foam roller (which I am now keeping in the car, because I forget to bring mine all the time).  So that happened for $25…but definitely worth it in the end.  I stopped by the BondiBand table (of course…since I am a #BondiBandAmbassador) and purchased one…yes…just one…new band.  I didn’t wear it during the race though.  I did wear a BondiBand, but you couldn’t tell which one…because…it was going to rain…and I had a visor to wear.  As we were leaving, we spotted the official merchandise, but nothing was still there in the smaller sizes and an XL would swim on me…but I did find my name (twice!) on the back of the shirt.  So…that was awesome.  If the shirt had been any smaller, I might have bought it.  But…no bueno.  After that, we trekked back up to the room to drop stuff off, adjusted the dinner reservations to an early time slot and headed down toward the Monument Circle to walk over to the restaurant.

I had found Napolese, an Artisan Pizzeria in downtown Indianapolis, via Find Me Gluten Free.  They had gluten free foccacia bread and gluten free pizzas.  And, as I can’t do dairy, they have a “freestyle” option, where you can select 3 toppings…so that is what we did.  Our waiter, was amazing.  He realized that the foccacia bread came with goat cheese on it, and had the chef’s remake it without the cheese so I could have it. And the pizza…wow.  It was a standard cracker crust, but that oven…that oven crisped up the crust so that you could hold it up (and mine was topped with marinara, mushrooms, summer squash, and roasted peppers)…and it wasn’t soggy or falling apart.  So, total WIN!  Dinner was devoured (not all the foccacia…Cathy took that to have as breakfast)…and we strolled over to Rocket Fizz for some gluten-free candy as a dessert. I was craving sorbet, but there wasn’t anything close enough that was both dairy-free and gluten-free…so…dark chocolate it was.  After that…we strolled through the Oktoberfest celebrations on Monument Circle…got back to the room…and relaxed by watching Big Bang Theory before turning in just after 9:30 p.m.  One last check of the weather…rain. All the rain.  Possible thunderstorms.  I tell you…the Indy Women’s Half Marathon just can’t catch a break on the weather.


Woke up at 4:00 a.m. to start my pre-race rituals.  I climbed back into bed for another 45 minutes before alarm #2 went off.  This was my “GET UP” alarm…so, I shut it off, climbed out of bed…for the second time…but this time to stay…and went over to the window.  It had stormed earlier in the morning, but it wasn’t currently raining.  It was wet out there though.  Very wet.  I staggered in the dark to the bathroom to get changed into my race gear and put some sunscreen on (guaranteeing that it would rain, HA!)  I put my hair up in my signature pigtails, then went out to the room and, in the dark, did all my PT stretches.  I have been trying to be good about working these in.  If it hadn’t been raining prior to the race, all the dynamic warmup stuff would have happened too…but…eh…I wasn’t going to get wet if I didn’t have to.  Once 6:00 a.m. rolled around, I turned on the light and flopped on the bed with my gluten-free cereal and made Cathy get up from her bed and start getting ready.  She went to retrieve the foccacia, which needed to be reheated as it just got hard overnight…but…eh…she made it work.  As she was getting ready, I was busy checking weather on the news and on my phone.  Rain was coming.  Rain was definitely coming.  Possible thunderstorms.  But the Facebook page for the Indy Women’s said it was still a-go…so…I got her to pin me up…I threw on my visor…put my sunglasses on my visor (in case)…also guaranteeing we’d get poured on…and filled up my fuel belt with my Hammer Nutrition and some Essentia Water.  Then, we were out the door and heading down to the lobby to stand around until we had to start the race.  It was time for me to eat my pre-race banana…it was a little under-ripe still, but I ate it.  So, as I watched people dart in from the light sprinkle from being dropped off…and then we meandered down toward the Starbucks, as the other set of doors were down there.  Start line…BOOM…right outside.  I love staying at the host hotel.  The rain had tapered off at this point…so Cathy and I ventured out.  We took a picture of me in front of the starting line and as we were walking away, we were asked by two ladies who were doing the 5K if we had any extra safety pins.  Cathy travels with a case of safety pins…so we hooked them up.  Cathy even pinned one of them up.  Good deed of the morning…done.

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Goofiness in front of the start line at the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

It was nearing start time, so I shed the jacket I had thrown on in case there was rain before the start and handed it off to Cathy.  Then, after she told me to have fun (this race was all a finish line not a finish time!) and went to get a spot for the start of the race, I wandered around the circle looking for my friend Katie…but never found her.  They were telling people to get into the start corrals, so I lined up between the 1:50 and 2:00 pacers…because I figured I could at least pull that off with the hip…the foot…the marathon fatigue…and travel fatigue…at least…I hoped.  They had someone come out to sing the National Anthem…and all the runners started turning circles looking for a flag.  We finally found one on a building.  But it was like…everyone all at once started to turn circles.  It brought about a good laugh from the participants.

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Me running toward Mile 1 in the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

At 7:30 am…SHARP…they sent off the wheelchair racers.  This was the first year that the Indy Women’s Half Marathon had a wheelchair division.  These racers are inspiring.  Seriously.  They always amaze me.  A moment or so later…the corrals were moved up and we helped count down from 10 to start the race.  And…we were off!  So, for the first 2+ miles, the 5K runners were with us.  Cathy came down and saw me just before Mile 1 ticked off, which was awesome.  The first 2 miles had us rounding parts of downtown, running a bit of Monument Circle…heading out into the city and turning onto a road.  Before the turn…about Mile 2…I saw the leader of the 5K coming the other way…and she had no one behind her. In fact, Cathy said she finished a good 2 minutes before the second finisher came in.  FAST!  So…there was a sign that had the 5K runners turn right down a road while the half marathon runners continued on.  There was a light, misting rain at this point…but that was going to be short lived.

Miles 3-5 were a bit uneventful.  There wasn’t anyone out to cheer, save for the volunteers and this random guy who had a wife/girlfriend/friends running so he was there around Mile 4-ish and was sending out some encouragement.  So, that was nice.  As I neared Mile 6, I saw the leader of the half marathon coming the other way.  And as soon as she passed…the skies opened up.  HELLO RAIN!!  It was a freakin’ downpour.  I mean…deluge.  Seriously…hard rain.  Just hard rain.  I was nearing the halfway point here and I knew my friend Julia was working that water stop.  We did get a brief break from the rain (but not the horrible roads) as we ran under an overpass.  Back out into the rain and I was prepared to make the turn.  Right on the other side of the hairpin turn was the water stop.  I immediately spotted Julia and gave her a wave and a shout-out.  She did the same to me.

Now…running in the rain is not only badass, but quite fun.  BUT…that being said…I am so overly cautious when I run in the rain.  I slow down my pace, because road surfaces are now wet and slick.  And that’s exactly what happened here.  I bitch a lot about running in the rain because it ruins your shoes.  I mean…kills shoes.  And I had just got these shoes.  UGH.  And there was no avoiding the standing water and puddle-filled pot holes and cracks in the Indianapolis pavement.  So, the shoes were soaked…sometimes I was plodding through some deceivingly deep standing water…and doing my best to not aggravate an already unhappy hip (the hip HATES weather) and twingy foot (which my podiatrist thankfully taped for me 2 days before the race…but the amount of water I was running through meant…it was coming off!).  As I said, I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast race for me…so I just took it one step at a time…one mile at a time.  Just after Mile 7, we branched off onto a sidewalk thingy to run down White River Parkway…and at some point in this we actually had to hop down off the sidewalk and back down onto the road…but…you do what you gotta do.  This is where we continued the lull in any support.  I think the rain kept people in…but not sure how much support would have been out there even without the rain.  The rain lightened up at one point, but not for long…it was back with a vengeance.

Just before Mile 11, there was a water stop…and some of the quietest volunteers I had ever seen.  At this point, with no crowd support through a bulk of this race, some uplifting cheers and excitement was needed.  But, I guess they weren’t ecstatic about standing out in the pouring rain.  Because they didn’t even shout about the water or Gatorade…just sort of…mentioned it as you neared them.  One guy might have said…”Good job.”  But…let’s get loud, people!

After that, we made the turn onto Michigan Road, which is familiar from the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon…and Mile 12 ticked off.  Rain…so much rain…my shoes were heavy and soaked through…my pigtails were pretty much plastered to my neck.  And as I headed into the last mile…the rain started to lighten up again.  Nice.  I passed a couple of people on the way to the finish…not really able to pick up the pace.  This hip…this damn freakin’ (I would use another word…but…I’m being polite) hip wasn’t loving the damp weather at all.  Thank God it wasn’t also cold.  Soon, the crowd ahead near the finish could be heard and that’s where I got excited again.  Time to bring it in!!  So, I smiled…pushed as much as I could…passed Cathy and a stranger shouting my name…HA!…and crossed the finish line.  So happy to be done.  The rain was no longer pouring…but more of a drizzle.  I received my medal, some water, a bag of snacks and stuff, and a rose.  At the end of the chute, Cathy came down to give me a wet hug and congratulate me.  We were both soaked.  Kudos to the people who waited at the finish line for their friends and family to finish.

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Finisher Photo at the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

We made our way over to the backdrop to take an official finish photo (no photographer was stationed there)…and then went into the recovery area.  As I was a VIP…I thought I would skip the massage table and head into the area.  Signs about how to get inside were confusing, but we finally figured it out.  Family was not allowed into the VIP area, but could be in the beer garden.  I stepped inside…hoping for amazing things…and realized that this was SO NOT worth the extra $25.  The fruit they had out was oranges and apples (whereas in years before it was melon, berries, and the like).  They had flavored sparkling water in cans.  And then donuts (which I couldn’t eat)…as well as beer and mimosas (not ready to drink that close to a race finish).  So, I grabbed a can of the sparkling water and an orange…and that was that.  No separate massage area…nothing really worth that extra $25.  I was really, really disappointed.  I thought there would be more to it.  And, maybe if the weather had been better…it might have been…but I felt cheated out of money for what was there.  So…I highly recommend skipping the VIP upgrade…unless they really ramp it up and make it worth your while next time.

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Heading into the very underwhelming VIP section of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

Anyway…this was my 21st Half Marathon…and my official birthday race (2 days early)…so I was happy to be able to do it.  I enjoyed the rain…but not the wet pavement.  And I just took my time and ran my own race, listening to my body as it is still in recovery mode.

So, my official results of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:47:02, which is a slower half marathon for me, but I am proud of finishing with that time.  I have put my body through a lot in recent weeks, and this was a good run to just go and do and focus on a finish line, not a finish time.  This race also ran long, my Garmin having it at 13. 23 miles…but I’d rather have a course run long than short, honestly.  In fact, around Mile 4, a lot of the runners I was with commented that the mile markers were a bit off.  Not sure if the markers were off or that no one was running the tangents as we were all not wanting to go into deep puddles on the side of the road.  The world may never know.  Anyway…I was 44/946 finishers overall.  And I was 10/175 people in the 35-39 division!  Not too shabby.  I’ll take it!!

Honestly, it felt so good to climb into a hot shower afterwards…and I had to wring the hell out of my running shorts and BondiBand.  Craziness.  Cathy brought me up some coffee from Starbucks, which I drank while organizing some items to pack up and also checking my phone for updates on the Air Force Marathon (which was delayed due to weather)…as my running partner, Matt, was doing that one.  After I changed, we packed up our stuff, checked out of the hotel…and went to get a crazy-good gluten-free and vegan (in my case) lunch at Hops & Fire in Greenwood.  Then round #2 of coffee at Strange Brew (a required stop when I’m in the Indianapolis area).  I even picked up some local gluten-free granola that they had on sale there.  YAY!

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Every woman receives a finisher’s medal and a rose at the finish line of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

I believe, with the exception of the first year that the Indy Women’s Half Marathon & 5K ran (I did the 5K that year)…the weather for this race has been horrible.  Every. Single. Time.  At least this year the race went off…despite the torrential rainfalls.  So, we were already ahead of last year.  The year I did the half marathon in this race for the first time…a hurricane was rolling in and humidity was at 90%…so the entire race was like breathing through a wet towel…and no one felt good at the end.  So…I hope a few years of perfect weather are headed this way.  I love this race.  There is something so amazing about a race that only women are doing.  We all lift each other up.  There were so many runners who would shout out support to the others…it was awesome.  So, I do recommend this race…just pray for good weather.  And maybe…just maybe…Indianapolis will repave some of those roads.  Wow.  Horrible roads.

All that being said, I intend to come back to this one again.  Maybe with a body that loves me more and weather that is a little less…wet.  We shall see.  Ladies…keep this one on your radar for sure!  We are all badass, rockstar runners at this one.

Kauai Marathon – Poipu, HI (September 4, 2016)

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Me after finishing the Kauai Marathon – Kauai – Poipu, HI

Race: Kauai Marathon

Place: Poipu, HI (Island of Kauai)

Date: September 4, 2016

Time: 4:52:18

“That’s what a comeback is.  You have a starting point and you build strength and momentum from there.  Stay the course…remain patient.  Focus on small steps that are constantly forward.”

~Kara Goucher

Comebacks are hard.

Comebacks are very hard.  And I have been building up to this one for a long, long time now.  A very long time.  Over a year kind of time.  SO…much time.  Sometimes…it has gone very well.  Sometimes…it has gone all sorts of wrong. The winter months were painful.  Rainy days are painful.  Humidity has been soul-crushing and run-ruining.  And, believe it or not, I discovered trying to stay safe during speed work by running on a treadmill…wasn’t so safe and actually ended up causing a bit of damage to my foot…right before this marathon.

You want to talk about a freak-out, panic-inducing, last few days before taking off for Hawaii.  All sorts of visions of last year’s Hawaiian adventure with Bootsie…my boot I was put in for 8 weeks thanks to a stress fracture in my leg…that all started flashing through my mind.  You want to talk about some physical and mental breakdowns…the whole build-up to this race has been one big emotional roller coaster.  One I really, really needed to get off…and the sooner the better.

Thankfully, I have a fantastic podiatrist…and very understanding and encouraging friends in my life.

And despite all of the anxiety and problems…I made it.  First to San Francisco.  Then…to Hawaii.  And Hurricane Lester took a turn back out to sea.

The race was on.

The pressure was on.

And I can’t even count how many times I had minor to major anxiety attacks in the days (despite being in Hawaii!) leading up to the race.

Like I said…comebacks are hard.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach, O'ahu, Honolulu, Hawaii

Sunset on Waikiki Beach, O’ahu, Honolulu, Hawaii

My adventure started, as it always does, with good friends and good support (non sports bra division).  For the first few days I was in Hawaii, my friends and I were exploring O’ahu.  We were stationed out of Honolulu, but we doing some serious exploring and shopping there.  From the Dole Plantation to Waikiki Beach…we pretty much did it all.  Oh, and we ate amazing food.  I had pineapple, pretty much, at every meal.  Fresh cut, amazing, pineapple.  One from a roadside stand where a woman sliced it up while I waited.  I was having a blast.  We were on O’ahu until Saturday morning, when we caught an early flight over to Kauai.

Upon landing, we literally hit the ground running.  After getting our luggage and our rental car, we piled in and began our adventure on Kauai.  We had a few things to do before hitting up the expo.  This involved coffee at my favorite coffee spot on Kauai (Ha Coffee…where I ate half a peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie and downed my favorite of their specialty signature drinks…The Bee Sting.  SO good.  Then we went to find Sweet Marie’s…a dedicated gluten free bakery because…we needed a gluten free cake of some sort to celebrate Jennifer’s birthday that night.  The set-up was strange, and the fact that she is open only 2 days of the week (Saturday & Sunday) made this challenging…but we finally figured it all out and, after she was a little rude and snippy to us…we picked up one of her Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping.  She got a little huffy at us for paying with cash (who does that??!!)…but we got our cake (it was about the size of a large muffin) and left to go check out the race expo.

Me at Bart Yasso at the Kauai Marathon Race Expo

Me at Bart Yasso at the Kauai Marathon Race Expo

Getting there was fun.  We got to drive part of the course backwards and I made note of just how damn hilly it was going to be.  That sort of kicked up the anxiety again.  But as we got to the resort where the expo was being held, I had calmed down a little.  A little.

The first thing I did at the expo was go to check out the list to get my bib number.  One problem…

MY NAME WAS NOT ON THE LIST!!!

And this was even after I contacted the race prior to the trip to make sure that my deferral from last year was on their records and I was on the list to run.  They told me I was. Apparently…I wasn’t.  Frustrating…and did nothing to help calm the anxiety and nerves at this race.  It took…awhile…but after talking to about 4 different people, they simply had me fill out a form and turn it in.  They got me a blank bib, added me to the list…and I was ready to run.

After that…I was ready to shop.  I had my Kauai Marathon reusable bag, which my friend Tanya really wanted.  She even went to ask if she could purchase one, but they wouldn’t let her.  As I have more than enough reusable grocery bags, I told her she could have mine.  YAY!  There was much happiness.  What there wasn’t a lot of…was size small merchandise for the race itself.  I had wanted a few of the rainbow race shirts…but they were out of the smaller sizes…at the start of the expo on Saturday morning.  REALLY??!!  I was starting to think I wasn’t going to purchase anything…but then I spotted this amazing backpack.  And…it had to be mine.  So…despite being way more than the shirts, that’s what I left with.  And I was quite okay with that.  Afterwards, I spotted Bart Yasso at a table at the expo and went over to say hello to him.  Cathy told him to reassure me that I was going to be okay…and he did…quite a few times, and gave me numerous high fives and words of encouragement.  I love Bart Yasso.

Lunch on the day before the race - Molkai Potato Salad from the Live Foods Market on Kauai

Lunch on the day before the race – Molokai Potato Salad from the Live Foods Market on Kauai

Soon after that…we left.  We had to buy a few groceries and get a few more important things done…like checking into the resort and all that.  We first stopped off at The Spouting Horn, where I thought I needed to put on some sunscreen…but we were ready to go check out the water.  So, I said I would do it when we got back into the car.  We spent a bit of time on the lookout, watching a blowhole spout a plume of sea water into the air.  This waterspout occurs whenever waves are forced under the lava shelf and up through an opening in the rocky coast.  The spout, sometimes, can shoot water as high as 50 feet into the air.  It’s always amazing.  We did need to grab some lunch, so we swung by the Living Foods Market.  On the short journey there, I put on some sunscreen because I am prone to sunburn easily.  And I finished up just as we hit the market.  What I didn’t realize until later was…I forgot I had taken my Claddagh ring off and put it in my lap, so when I climbed out of the car to go into the market…it dropped.  Deciding on a light lunch was not as easy as I thought as so much sounded so good.  And…we were at the time where it could be breakfast or lunch and we were all having a hard time deciding on which way to go.  After waiting a bit too long for breakfast, we settled on lunch.  I got a small bowl of their Molokai Potato Salad, which is purple potatoes, coconut milk, green onion, and coconut flakes.  And it was fantastic.  Tawn got a poke bowl, Cathy got a BLT Sandwich, and Jennifer got the fish tacos.  After lunch, we were off to check into the resort, hit up a couple of shops, and then buy some groceries.  I was, after all, making something new (I know…nothing new on race day…but…I felt better about this than a pizza place)…Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.  And we hit up the grocery stores hard.  We got the tomato sauce, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, cheese, and even pepperoni (the other 3 are meat eaters) for the potatoes that night…along with waters and a few snacks to have on hand.  And my banana for race morning.  That is super important.  And a bonus kabocha squash that we found so I could roast it up.

Oven roasted Kabocha Squash...cooked up by me...as part of the pre-race dinner.

Oven roasted Kabocha Squash…cooked up by me…as part of the pre-race dinner.

That night, after settling in at the resort, I started immediately in on roasting up the kabocha squash.  Cutting it wasn’t too much of a hassle, but I realized we had no aluminum foil or any olive oil at the resort.  I thought they might have that on hand…but I was wrong.  So, I cooked without it.  The squash cooked for about 30
minutes…and as it was cooking, I prepped the sweet potatoes.  No olive oil meant seasoning the skins was a bit harder, but I did what I could.  The moment the squash was out and plated, I turned up the oven and began to bake the potatoes.  They were a bit larger…so I knew they would take about an hour to cook.  In the meantime, we through in our trip playlist, danced around the resort, talked, and looked at photos from O’ahu and earlier in the day.  It actually took a bit longer, but soon we were slicing them open, laying out the tomato sauce, the mushrooms, the cheese, and for the other three…pepperoni.  Back into the oven for 10 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes - my pre-race dinner...something new. And delicious.

Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – my pre-race dinner…something new. And delicious.

And, finally, dinner was served.  And it was delicious…and filling.  But…there was still room for cake.  And we had picked up candles and everything to make it special for Jenn.  We were glad that the “cake” was actually more of a muffin because it was perfect once we split it 4 ways between us.  And it was pretty good.  Lighter than I expected though, so there is that.  And it was good.  It was.  But Annie May’s Gluten Free Coffee Cake is WAY better.  WAY!  We were happy to have this though.  And after staying up a little longer for showers and some talking, we turned in.  We all knew an early, early morning awaited us.

Jennifer with the Gluten Free Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecan Struesel that we picked up from Sweet Marie's that morning.  It was her birthday after all.

Jennifer with the Gluten Free Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecan Struesel that we picked up from Sweet Marie’s that morning. It was her birthday after all.

Sleep didn’t come easy…but I managed a little.

Race morning arrived. Early. I had my first alarm set for 3 am so that I could get up and do my first round of preparations. I went back to sleep for another 45 minutes before getting up for the second time. This time it was to actually get dressed. I used the bathroom, got into my race gear, and nervously began milling about the room, not quite ready to duck out into the main room, where Tawn was milling about getting ready for the day. Cathy was up and moving, slowly, because it was 4 am. While she was changing and in the bathroom, I began the very, very, very tedious (but important) task of getting myself coated in sunscreen.

When in Hawaii…and a super fair-skinned, Irish girl…you lather up. You take a dip and swim in that stuff. You do whatever you can to keep your skin protected. Especially when you are already a skin cancer survivor, like me.

Cathy emerged eventually and helped me with the hard to reach areas on my back (after all…I was going to die in clothes, so it was a bra top race for me). She also had me sit down so she could actually attempt to get some sunscreen on my scalp. This was sort of awkward and left me looking, at first, a bit like a skunk, but at the end of the day…no sunburn on the scalp. And that, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing.

I threw a shirt on over my top after the sunscreen had had time to soak in…and then headed into the main room. Tawn and Jennifer were both there, in various states of readiness. I grabbed my water from the fridge and sought out my normal morning routine.

Thankfully, Cathy thought ahead while we were out hitting up grocery stores the night before…picking up a banana and a little individual serving of Cheerios for me to eat. I had my cheerios at the resort, standing in the kitchen, talking to Tawn as she put on her makeup. That was actually calming, because in my mind, I was about to have another anxiety attack. My heart was racing, my mind was racing faster, and my entire chest just wanted to explode. I wanted to burst out into tears.

But I didn’t.

Thanks to my friends.

I filled up my water bottles…2 with regular water and then 2 with my fuel (I am using Hammer at the moment…something I only had time to test out on an 8 mile run the weekend before…so I can’t report back on it quite yet). And then…after getting pinned up, we gathered up our stuff and we were, literally, off to the races.

I look nervous in this picture because I was...and I had just stopped crying...before I said goodbye to my friends at the start line...

I look nervous in this picture because I was…and I had just stopped crying…before I said goodbye to my friends at the start line…

It was just over a 30 minute drive from the resort in Kapa’a to Poipu (?) where the race started and ended. We didn’t really encounter much traffic, so this drive went very smoothly. In fact, we arrived with some time that Cathy actually pulled into the parking lot where I figured I had lost my Claddagh ring the day before…and all three of my friends got out with the flashlights on their iPhones and began searching. They came up empty handed though. Everyone got back into the car and we set out to find some parking…following cars to an area on the side of the road, just a short stroll from the start and finish line areas. We watched a truck next to us totally pull up far enough to block the sidewalk and spent some time ridiculing them from the comfort of our car. But…it was time.

And as much as I wanted to delay…I couldn’t. It was go-time.

I think I was shaking as I opened up the door and stepped out into the humid morning. It was already moist, the air heavy and wet. Ugh. I took in a shaky, but deep breath, and told myself, once again, to not freak out or panic. It was easier said than done, because I was falling apart on the inside. The last memory I have of a marathon was Boston 2015…and it did not go well for me. And it was replaying…every painful, horrible step…every moment that I had to walk…all of it…right there…fresh in my mind. And it was MESSING with me.

Torches and Conch Shells sent off the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon.  It was amazing.

Torches and Conch Shells sent off the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon. It was amazing.

The four of us began the trek toward the starting area. Which, we found very easily, following not just the announcement sounds, but also the other runners heading in that direction. We crossed the road right where the start line was corralled off and took a couple of quick photos. And…just like that…it was time for me to get to the staging area and them to go find a spot for the start of the race. They all gave me hugs. I cried…wiped my eyes…handed over my shirt…and walked away…nervously…into the staging area. It was already 5:30 am…so I had to get my banana eaten so I wouldn’t be regretting putting it off until later. So, as I walked, I noshed, slowly, on the banana. I noticed very few marathon bibs…much of the over 2000 people who run these races do the half marathon option.

These…are the smart people.

These people are brilliant. These people must have looked at the elevation chart before signing up. I had an extra year…and I still didn’t do this up until it became clear that…yes…I could run. And yes…I would run.

I tossed my banana peel in the garbage and went to get in line for the bathroom. I had already used it 3 times at the resort…but I was nervous…and needed to pee. Again. I’m like an excitable puppy in that regard. It’s a curse. The lines moved relatively quickly though, and I managed to get one where the person coming out didn’t start with…”Just warning you…this one is pretty full.” Since I hate using port-o-potties anyway, this was a blessing in disguise.

Afterward…I saw everyone moving away from this staging area, so I grabbed a small tray of watermelon (I know…nothing new on race day, but it was humid enough that I was feeling the dehydrating effects already) and ate it. Then…I stepped up to the crowd waiting to enter the start area.

The announcer, Ron Wiley, from the local (and best) radio station there in Kauai, KONG, was doing some schmoozing and talking at the start. He mentioned the heat we were having…and the humidity…and said that no one was going to PR today. As that was never my intention in the first place, I was okay with that. It was hot and it was humid. Bart Yasso was brought up and, despite a couple of microphone malfunctions, wished everyone a good race. He was doing the half…his girlfriend…the full. And then, the national anthem was sung by a local woman…and, we were counted down and sent off to the sound of conch shells blowing. It was fantastic. I mean, seriously…the sun wasn’t up yet…tiki torches are lit…and conch shells are being blown by locals as the starting gun. I was taking it all in, and waving at the drone…just telling myself to take it easy, breathe, and to have fun.

Me crossing the start line of the Kauai Marathon

Me crossing the start line of the Kauai Marathon

As I crossed the starting line, I spotted Cathy, Tawn, and Indy…and they cheered and screamed and I waved…and that adrenaline took me through the slow-moving packed start of the race. I was thankful for the much easier pace of the start because I tend to just go all out in the first mile and tire quicker. With the humidity already pretty intense, I was already soaking wet within the first half mile. My pigtails were plastered to my neck. This humidity was NO JOKE. And with the first 7 miles being a steady uphill climb, I wanted to really pace myself and save something for the second part of the race. Mile 1 ticked off, and I was moving without breathing hard. And then…a light, misting rain started up. We’re in the gorgeous Hawaiian countryside…and here comes this light mist. I can see gorgeous mountains ahead, hear roosters crowing, and see the lightening of the sky, with the promise of a sunrise coming. I focused on my surroundings more than how I was feeling. Which was good…because with the steady incline going…by Mile 3 I was already feeling this race in my hip adductor. Not good. Not what I wanted at all.

I had hoped that my hip would hold out longer and do better…but the long climb was not something I could practice. Not for that long or that distance. Which…was now getting into my head. I focused on my form at that point, and as I came into Mile 4…was moving a bit better. My foot, however, was still an issue in and of itself. Even taped up, it would flare up with every few steps, reminding me that it was not 100%…and that I needed to keep that in mind as the race continued. Thankfully, some beautiful hula dancers were on the side of the road and that made me focus on something else for the moment. Distractions are a beautiful thing.

At Mile 5, way earlier than anticipated or hoped for…I took my first walk break. I had ever intention of at least powering through the first half of this race without needing to walk, ideally getting to Mile 15…but that didn’t happen. And I actually cried a little when I had to take this break. But the elevation was wreaking havoc on both my hip and my foot…so I took it. And once I got to a designated spot ahead (I think it was a road sign), I started back to a jog…and then an easy paced run.

Tunnel of Trees around Mile 6 of the Kauai Marathon

Tunnel of Trees around Mile 6 of the Kauai Marathon

Ahead was the part of the race I had been looking forward to the most…the Tunnel of Trees. Just before Mile 6, you run into this gorgeous area canopied by old Eucalyptus trees, creating a natural gateway to Kauai’s South Shore. Just inside the Mile 6 marker was placed. A woman runner from Kauai, just ahead of me, went…”Alright…6 down, 20 to go!” She pumped her hands and two runners from Honolulu began talking to here. The two from Honolulu were doing the half marathon. And, as we were running, it came out that our excitable Kauai native was also doing the half. She said she knew the course and wanted a beer after 2 hours of running. Not 4 or more. Another runner, a guy in floral shorts, stopped here and there to take amazing shots within the tunnel of trees. It really was amazing. And, as we left, we rounded into our 7th mile…and finally…FINALLY…got some downhill time. The lady from Kauai went, “Downhill…time to make up all that time we lost on that climb.” She was adorable and so excited…it was rather uplifting, actually. If she had been doing the full, I’d have wanted to have her along to keep me going. I sort of stayed with this group…having a nice back and forth with them for a few miles. They were talking about how running for over 4 hours didn’t sound appealing to them. I told them about how I was supposed to do this race last year, but couldn’t due to a stress fracture. And this was great. This got me through to Mile 10…when I pulled ahead and soon was at the point where the half marathon runners went left to run the last 2.5 miles into the finish line…and the marathon runners went right…at the rooster sign…and continued for the next 15.5 miles. This is where it really thinned out.

Half Marathon & Marathon Split signs at the Kauai Marathon

Half Marathon & Marathon Split signs at the Kauai Marathon

I made the turn, and immediately, another steep hill was waiting. I managed to run a few more feet before I stopped to take another walk break. I didn’t cuss myself out or cry this time…I just told myself to not worry too much about it. This race wasn’t for time anyway. And…at this point a beautiful rainbow was arching over the roadway. So, who needs to run when you can really drink in a Hawaiian rainbow for a moment. I did start up again as I neared the crest of the hill…and took on the downhill.

My foot was now starting to bother me more. As far as long runs went after seeing my podiatrist…I had done 8 miles. So, I was already over the distance I tested this foot out on. And it was screaming at me. I took a deep breath…turned my focus back to my form again, and kept on going. Miles 11-12 were relatively flat, but I soon found myself walking again as the hills returned near the halfway point. I picked it up to run across the half marathon mark which translated to anyone following me via tracking that I was at least halfway done. This was just under 2 hours into the race…and I was now hitting the hardest part of the course. The volunteer they had at the halfway mark though was awesome. And I am so glad he was there, cheering and encouraging people. He told me I was halfway there…and doing well. And he said it that I believed him. I was hitting my unspoken goal…to finish around 4 hours…at this point…on target. I knew I’d be slowing down though with the course being harder on the other side. But…making it this far was good…even if I was really starting to feel the effects of the humidity and heat of the day. After all, the sun was up and blazing now…and there wasn’t a lot of tree cover on these roads. You run the day…so I was running (and walking) to my abilities now.

I ran through Mile 14 before having to slow again. I drank in some water and poured some over my head to keep my body temperature cool. That was not an easy thing for me to do…but it was necessary. Also…Mile 15-17 was the huge climb that I had heard and read stories about. And I knew…I knew I would have to walk some of it.

Truth was…I walked the entire hill. I just couldn’t get my mind to tell my feet and legs to go. I probably could have run some of it, but my mind was not in a good place at this point and the word “can’t” was probably running around more than it should have been. But, once I got to the top…I started to run again. This part of the race went through a very rurual area, with broken down houses. But this…this part had my race moment. I was running along a road that looked like it was made of red clay. And this little girl, also in pigtails, come running up alongside me…just smiling. I told her that I loved her hair and we ran together…the two of us…pigtails bouncing at our shoulders. It was amazing. And even when she hit the chalk finish line she had etched into the road…she kept going with me. When she dropped back, I shouted a thank you to her and continued on my way. Seriously…highlight.

After that is where things sort of spiraled out of control. It’s hard to remember much because it got a little bit…scary. Despite taking in water (my own and that along the course) and fueling the way I have always fueled for races…by Mile 18…I was starting to feel sick. My stomach was not happy with me, probably due to taking in more water than I am accustomed to. Or, maybe it was the new fuel. I can’t say since I didn’t test it out, but I took the fuel in at my usual spots ahead of this and had no issues at all. But the heat was really starting to lay into me. And, needless to say, I started to succumb to it.

I jogged with a Marathon Maniac from Mile 17…and we walked a hill through Mile 18. He took off after that and I told myself I would start to run again. But, my body wasn’t feeling it. My stomach hurt. My head was foggy. And I was aching. Foot and hip. Just…no desire to start up again. I tried…and my foot rebelled. So, I decided to walk a little more. I walked through the next couple of miles, taking offered cold water despite feeling like I really just wanted to throw up. As I crested a hill around Mile 21…I was seeing dark spots in my vision and my lips were tingling. I was in a bad way. But I didn’t want to call it quits. I have never DNF’d a race and I wasn’t ready, after traveling this far, and having had to give upon this race last year, to give up now. I slowed it down. Breathed deeply, and kept putting one foot in front of the other. If I hit a water stop, I would drink half the water, even though I really just wanted to throw up more…then pour the rest over my head to cool down. We had rounded back and had to go over the timing mat I had gone over at the halfway point. The same enthusiastic volunteer was there as I walked…WALKED…over it. He said…”It’s only 5 more miles and mostly down hill from here.”

It was niceto hear. But I knew my pace wasn’t going to be picking up any time soon. And it wasn’t just me. I’d have people run by me who were stopping to walk. They didn’t have the added fun of an injured foot and hip to contend with and eventually would start up again. It was frustrating, to me, and I was trying hard to not worry about the time ticking away with each slow, walking step I had to take. I cussed at myself when I had to walk the downhills. I felt horrible…and the few times I talked myself into jogging, I had to stop almost immediately. I held tears back, because I didn’t want to break down and not be able to breathe. It was already hard enough in the humidity. The heat of the day was upon us now and I just wanted to get to the finish line and find some shade. When I was at Mile 23, I saw two of the volunteers on mopeds. One of them asked about some medical thing at Mile 18. The other guy said it was just a runner who was done. The heat and humidity and hills had done him in. I overheard this and said…I know how he feels, but I just decided to walk it in. And one of them said, “You’ve looked strong all day. Keep going!”

Hearing that made me feel a little better, and despite the runners catching up and passing me, I just kept that steady mantra of just putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. 2 miles…I could walk 2 miles. I was walking 2 miles. Around Mile 25, the resort near the finish line was handing out cold, wet towels. I took one and draped it over my neck, then my head. I touched it to my shoulders and face. I kept it with me until it was no longer cold. And by then…I was near the finish line. So close.

But my legs still weren’t ready to go. And I was getting so mad at myself and the entire situation. As I was nearing a bend in the road, and seeing the ocean again, a guy was walking up to the runners heading our way, a medal around his neck, giving us high fives. He saw me and said, “You turn that corner and you will see the finish. You’re almost there, girl.” And with that, I came around the bend, and started to jog.

Hugs from friends.  And they gave me a lei!  I have amazing people in my life.  I think this is where I said, "That was so fucking hard."  And cried.  A lot.

Hugs from friends. And they gave me a lei! I have amazing people in my life. I think this is where I said, “That was so fucking hard.” And cried. A lot.

It took every bit of my willpower to keep going. I pushed. I pushed more. And I ran toward that finish line, hearing Ron Wiley (the DJ of KONG radio) say, “And here comes Karen Brady of The Brady Bunch”…and I tossed up my hands and crossed the finish line.

I could hear Cathy, Tawn, and Jenn. I could see them. I slowed to a walk and tried to catch my breath. Tears just flowed. Those ugly cry tears. And I walked up to them, Cathy reaching over to give me a hug, and all I could say was, “That was so fucking hard.” And then I melted down.

After a few moments of sweaty hugs, and getting a lei put around my neck, I slowly walked down the chute to receive my medal. Cathy had me pose with the cute Hawaiian man handing out medals before I made my way to the reunion area to meet them. Cathy went to grab a bag of ice to lay me down on and I went to get into the shade and put my feet up. Jennifer and Tawn went to get me some iced coffee and I was content to lay there, feet up, recovering…and trying hard not to cry. My friends were awesome. They told me how good I did and how proud they were of me. And I focused on that instead of the fact that, while my only true goal was to finish the race, I had hoped for a little bit better time. But, this was a brutal course and brutal weather. I did what I could. I left everything I had out there. And while I was disappointed in myself, no one else was.

After I felt recovered enough to move, I called my mom to talk to her.  She and my dad had been tracking me, which I had no idea they would be doing.  It almost made me cry…especially when they both started telling me how proud they were of me.  I talked to my mom as we were getting to the car and hung up as we climbed in.  Cathy asked if I needed water…and as my stomach was still off, I requested a cold Sprite Zero.  She said we could swing by the Long’s Drugs that was near the finish line.  So…we did.  And I didn’t realize she didn’t enter with me.  I had gone right over to the cold beverages and grabbed a Sprite Zero.  Then…couldn’t find her.  Tawn had me help her look for some travel size products, and as I was ready to leave and sit down again, Cathy comes in, grabs my hand, and drops my Claddagh ring into my hand. Turns out, a customer at the Living Foods Market found it in the parking lot and turned it in.  My amazing friends had called to inquire about it as they ate breakfast while I was out running. And the market had it.  And now…I had it back. I purchased that ring in 2007 in Ireland…I was so upset it was gone.  And now…thanks to the amazing people in my life…and a special and honest person who found it and turned it in…I have it back.  I ugly cried for the 4th time that day.

After that, we went back to the resort so I could shower off and get changed.  Once I was clean…and in the process…noticed that the date was wrong on the medal…I was dressed and we headed out to lunch and to explore Kauai for the rest of the day.

Lunch, by the way, was Gluten Free Vegan Tacos at Verdes.  It was amazing.  Just what I needed.  Lunch with friends…and good food.

Me with a handsome Hawaiian at the finish of the Kauai Marathon - Kauai - Poipu, HI

Me with a handsome Hawaiian at the finish of the Kauai Marathon – Kauai – Poipu, HI

So…the official results of the Kauai Marathon are that I finished in 4:52:18.  I was 97/258 finishers overall.  I was 31/101 female finishers. And I was 6/13 finishers in my age division.

Was this the race I had hoped for?  No.  Nowhere close.  Unfortunately, this race was the race I needed, but didn’t need.  The outcome wasn’t the one I wanted.  There was way more walking than I had anticipated. The hills, the heat, the humidity…they crushed me and I am still battling this mental block of mine.  A part of me wonders if I can honestly take on 26.2 anymore.  This race defeated me…but I was not defeated.  Despite feeling horrible…despite the brutal heat and course…I finished.  I found that little boost at the end to run it in and cross that finish line.  And in the end…all that matters is that I crossed that line…my friends were there to hug me…and I survived.  I made it.

Was this the comeback I dreamed of?  Nowhere close.  But there will be other races.  Just not anytime soon.

I am proud of myself though…despite pain and nagging injuries…and the weather conditions (possible hurricanes up until the day before!)…I finished.  I FINISHED!  Marathon #11…done!

From here…I focus on getting stronger.

Aloha, Kauai.  Thanks for the memories…even if my race date is wrong on the medal (which…by the way…has yet to be acknowledged by the race peeps…despite it being mentioned numerous times to them via social media).

I’ve got one week…

ONE WEEK.

sevendays
SEVEN DAYS.

And guess what??!!

There’s a Tropical Storm brewing in the pacific and heading straight for Hawaii.  Um?  Yay?

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So, while this is almost what happened last year…when three…YES…THREE…hurricanes were spinning the the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and bringing unseasonable humidity and general muckiness…this year…there is one.  One.

Her name is Madeleine.

What does this mean?  Well, as of right now…the storm’s track is heading north and is supposed to turn west.  They’re predicting it turns west early, so Madeleine will primarily impact the Big Island.  Oahu and Kauai are farther north, so unless she grows substantially, all they’re calling for is 20% for rain and some wind (about 20mph) on Thursday in Honolulu.  Do I really have to run in really windy weather?  AGAIN??!!

Damn you Mother Nature…AGAIN!!

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Needless to say…the forecasts for while I am island hopping around Hawaii looks rather wet, windy and rainy.  Um?  YAY?!  Seriously…I have some adorable bathing suits I’d like to wear…on sunny beaches…poolside…wherever.  So…let’s not take that away from me shall we?

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Aside from that, as of now, I physically am as ready as I can be for this trip.  Mentally, I’m struggling.  It’s not easy, sometimes, putting those demons inside your head to rest.  And these past few weeks have definitely brought them out more than I’d like.  But, the advice given to me by a good friend, Derek, was simple…

RUN THE DAY.

And as I have one goal for this race…TO LIVE THROUGH IT…

Okay…maybe two goals…TO FINISH…

…then I say to simply run the day is some great advice.  Humid…hot…windy…rainy…whatever the case…I’m going to enjoy the fact that I can be out there…going the distance again.  It might get hard.  I might struggle.  I might even cry.  But, once I start, one thing is for certain…I won’t give up.

Now, to get packing because I’m pretty certain the rest of this week is going to be crazy!  I think everyone going with me is ready…and I’m not ready.  So they are all…

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…and I’m all…

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I leave in 3 days.  I’m more than a little broke.  And…stressing.  A little.  Maybe a lot.  But…this time…this time it’s actually happening.

Ready…or not…

Hey…I’m a #KDFMarathon Race Ambassador (Discount Code!)

2017 Race Ambassador Logos CMYKIt was the best news I had received in a long time.  I found out, as I was making my way to Minnesota, that I was chosen to be one of the 2017 Race Ambassadors for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon.

I can’t even begin to explain  how excited I am to take on this role.  I absolutely love being an encourager and this opportunity gives me the chance to help people take steps to meet their goals at the Kentucky Derby Marathon or Mini Marathon.

Seriously…EXCITED!!

All that being said…if you register within the next two (2) weeks, you can take 10% off your registration by using the code:

KDFR4R08

When you register (see, I said when not if)…be sure to select my name – Karen Brady – from the “Ambassador Referral” on the application.

Just go here and register.  Simple.  Easy.  Motivational.

KDF Marathon/Mini Marathon Registration

And, of course, go like and follow the official Facebook Page!

Come train with me and chase down that finish line!!

#KDFMarathon #KDFMarathonAmbassador #ComeRunWithUs

Going (Head) Long Into The Wall

So, I was fortunate enough to not have to do my entire long run on my own today.  I had great company for the first 7 miles of my run.  So, big shout out to Ron, who was a key part of keeping me on pace for the early half.

Let’s face it…it’s miserable out there.

humidity
Seriously, I’m not much of a sweater, but I had sweat pooling in my belly button.  That is NOT an exaggeration.  I was drenched.  Another day of that good ol’ swimming pool feeling.  Look, if I wanted to be soaked to the skin, I’ll hop in the pool…but I’m trying to run here.

Needless today…the first climb up Iroquois Park was tolerable.  I was running with Rob, a meteorologist, and learning that lightning causes thunder…not the other way around.  I love learning new things.  So…for about 13 miles of my planned 24-miler…I was feeling good.  So, I turned around at my 13 mile point to head back up to the top of the park again…and then…it all started to fall apart.

Only one word can describe how the rest of the run went…and it isn’t “RUBBISH” this time.  Nope…

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I don’t know if I should be blaming the new fuel I was trying, the heat, the humidity, or what.  I usually do really well in the heat.  But this humidity…it’s been insanely bad this summer.  I’ve never sweat like this.  I mean…my sports bra was a nice light lavender color at the start of my run.  By the time I was done…purple.  A jeweled purple of sorts.  Like I said…I had sweat pooling in my belly button.  WHO HAS THAT HAPPEN??!!

Needless to say, my second climb was less than stellar.  It was just…awful.  I wasn’t hurting…but I was struggling.  I was thankful for some of the shade through that portion.  I managed to get up the hill…around the top…and back down the hill with only a few stops to attempt to gather myself and find a second wind of sorts.  I was downing water (once again) like crazy.  And nothing…nothing was helping.

By Mile 21…I was done.

HIT…THE…DAMN…WALL.

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I have NEVER hit the wall before.  Not in a race…not in a training run.  But this…this was one of the worst feelings in the world.  My legs didn’t want to press on.  My body didn’t want to go anywhere.  I was just…done.

HIT. THE. WALL. HARD.

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I was a mess.  I was falling apart.  And my shoes were squishy.  YES!  My shoes were squishy.  Swampy shoes…for the humidity and heat and the sweat that I was apparently raining down over my entire body.  I was just…DONE!

In fact, after my Garmin beeped over to 21 miles…I stopped.  I stopped and drank the rest of my water (that wasn’t helping!)…and dug my cell phone out of my fuel belt and dialed my roommate.

And I just started to cry…

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This is not an exaggeration.  I actually used those two words…which I hate using…especially in regards to running.

The conversation went like this…

Me: “Where are you?”
Roomie: “On 264…because things took longer than expected…”
Me: “I am done.  I can’t…I can’t go any further.  I’m out of water…I’m dying.  I’m dead.”
Roomie: “Where are you?”
Me: “Somewhere in Iroquois…I don’t know…but I’m dying.”  *bursting into an ugly cry*
Roomie: “I’m going to stop at a Kroger and get you some water and then come get you, okay?”
Me: “How am I supposed to run a marathon when I can’t even do my long runs without dying?”
Roomie: “These are horrible weather conditions.”
Me: *more tears* “These are the conditions I’m probably going to be running in.”
Roomie: “You don’t know that.”
Me: *more ugly cry* “I do…I know…Can you grab me a Sprite Zero too?  I really just want to throw up.”
Roomie: “See you in 15 minutes.”

And then…

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And then I realized…I needed to get back to the amphitheater to meet her because…I was…as I said…somewhere in Iroquois.  So…somehow…I managed to convince myself to suck it up (gluten free) cupcake and get back to the amphitheater at least.  So…I did.  2 miles more and I called it quits.  I felt horrible.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pass out or throw up.  I managed not to do either…because I’m awesome like that…but it was just…it was bad.  I looked bad.  I felt bad.  That last mile I had intended to run…wasn’t worth it.  I had no desire to even attempt it.  I walked around, hoping that would help a little…but ended up sitting down at a picnic table and doing my best to cool off.

The roomie got there soon after, and brought me the Sprite Zero.  A few small sips was where I started because…liquids were not sitting well.  Not even my water.  So…yeah…I was in bad shape.  She had water and coffee for me in the car for when I was ready for it.

Once I was certain I wasn’t going to get sick or die…I managed to snap a few photos…one badass pose and one with a Wrong Way sign…because this was the WRONG WAY to prepare for a marathon.  My 18 miler, my 20 miler, and my 23 (should have been 24) miler…all sucked.  Every single one of them.  And this does not mentally help me prepare for the difficult race course awaiting me in 3 weeks.

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Wrong way to train…or badass…the fact of the matter is…it’s not going as planned.  Nowhere near.  But, I guess when push comes to shove…at least I’m out there.  At least I’m training.  Slow.  Fast.  Hot.  Face melting humidity.  Sweaty-wet shoes and all.  So…I hit a wall…time to learn how to bust through it and get to that finish line.

The taper starts this week…and my confidence isn’t there.  I will get through this.  I have 3 weeks to figure it all out.  Fueling…running…heat…humidity…everything.  And that wall.  I never want to run into that again.  SUCK!  I’ve put in all the time and effort I possibly could…working through injury…and learning new limits because of it.  Yep…time to get this body rested and ready.

Join me, won’t you?

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – Don’t Be Afraid to Fly

So…this is it!  The last long run before the big day.  This is the make or break point.  And, I’m really, really nervous about it.  Every single one of my 20 milers (the 2 prior to this one), I have gutted out…alone.  On my very own.  And while this is nothing new to me, there is something magical about running WITH people.  It just makes the miles seem a little less daunting…and even make them go by a little faster.

That being said…tomorrow…I once again am heading out without a training partner or running buddy…to do this one last long distance run before I start the taper…

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And while I can only hope this last run will look and feel this smooth and effortless, the fact of the matter is…my long runs, as of late, anything over 13 miles, have been rubbish.  And I’m not talking pace.  I run these slower than my regular race pace…I’m talking about how I feel.  Maybe it’s the heat and humidity.  Maybe it’s the fuel (which I have started to change and experiment with as…my stomach cramps the last 18 miler and 20 miler were enough to tell me to quit).  Maybe…it’s just me.  I don’t know.  But more than likely, my run tomorrow will feel more like some kind of combination of the following…

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Seriously…those have been my feels for the last few long runs.  I know some of it has to be the humidity.  For real.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.  It makes me feel better about feeling like crap at the end of it.  Or feeling sick…ill…and just plain…BLAH!  I mean, after my 20 miler 2 weeks ago, I almost passed out in the shower.  So…my problem is 1 of 2 things (or more)…

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OR…

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I wish I could pinpoint it for sure.  My nutrition has been on point for the most part…but I am in the process of trying new fuel for while I am running.  GU started to give me issues.  I don’t like chewing much while running…so beans were out of the question…and I tried Tailwind for awhile, but it started giving me stomach cramps.  Like…horrible stomach cramps.  Went to a running store and had Skratch recommended to me…problem is, it’s more for electrolytes than full-out fuel.  So…it’s a version of NUUN.  I tried it at the Minnesota Half Marathon and knew it wasn’t going to work for any sort of long-distance fueling.  So, I’m going to give Generation UCAN a try.  I have heard good and bad things.  Don’t worry, I have a backup fuel just in case things go horribly wrong.  We shall see.  Here’s hoping.  I have four weeks…FOUR WEEKS…to figure this all out.

I am FREAKING OUT!

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MUST. REMEMBER. TO. BREATHE.

Sort of important to the whole…running thing, yes?

I am hoping, simply, to survive the humidity out there tomorrow.  This past week had runs between 6-7 miles for 3 days of the week…wherein I ran well…really well…but when I stopped moving, I was soaked.  Seriously, it looked like I had just climbed out of a swimming pool, I was that drenched in sweat.  And I am NOT a big sweater.  Yeah…that’s pretty damn humid.  Swimming pool humid.  BLECH.

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Needless to say, physically, I rested today…I ate right…I hydrated.  Physically…I’m ready.  It’s the mental aspect that I’m struggling with more and more as my race gets closer.  I start to doubt myself and when my last few runs have been anything but stellar…well…it just gets hard to believe you can really go the distance.

Really…I just need one…ONE…really good long run.

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Tomorrow…I’m going to give it my best.  Slow…steady…and climbing.  If you see me out there on the hills…give me a wave and a word of encouragement, could you?  I might need it.

Let’s climb.  Let’s get it done.  Let’s hope it all goes according to plan.

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See you at the top!  I hope!  Ready or not (and I don’t feel ready)…the taper starts next week…so this has to happen…whether I finish it running, walking of crawling.  Hitting the hills to mimic some of my marathon course.

Embrace the suck.  Sweat it out.  Push through it.  Run. Rest. Repeat.

Be safe out there if your weather is like mine.  Hydrate and take it slow and steady.  If I can do it…you can too.

Have a great long run.  Who knows…it may go better than expected.

For the record, track and field starts up tonight…use that for motivation and inspiration!

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“Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day.”
-Lauren Fleshman

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