The 12Ks of Christmas – LaGrange, KY (December 21, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line at the 12Ks of Christmas – LaGrange, KY

Race: The 12Ks of Christmas

Place: LaGrange, KY

Date: December 21, 2019

Time: 53:53

Merry Christmas…Bah Humbug?

I won’t lie…that was how I felt at the very, very end of this race.  I felt so strong and amazing, and at the very end…I felt like everything I worked hard for was taken from me.

Does this sound dramatic?  I’m sure it does.

But it is the honest truth.  And I’ll get to why as I give a little run-down of this race.

So, a big shout-out to my amazing friends, Melissa & Paul Nolan, for not only paying for my registration for this race, but for telling me about it last year and really peaking my interest in it.  For one thing, the proceeds of this race go toward a really good cause – The Crossroads Pregnancy Resource Center.  They were even kind enough to pick up my bib and sweatshirt the night before the race and bring it with them on race morning.

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Homemade Mushroom Masala

The night before the race I should have had my “magic sushi” that has worked for me in the past when training for a marathon and racing.  But I didn’t.  I cooked up a homemade Mushroom Masala, serving it over rice.  I have to get used to that though.  I can’t have my sushi before a few races I am traveling for this coming year – the biggest of which is the Berlin Marathon.

I might just be making excuses.  HA!

I woke up to give myself time to figure out what I wanted to wear that morning (it was pretty dang cold), stretch, eat something, prep a bottle of Maurten 160 Drink Mix to bring with me for 30 minutes before the race, and…make the drive to LaGrange, Kentucky.

We got there with lots of time to kill.  Per usual.  So, after parking the car, my roomie and I wandered inside to stay warm.  I made use of the indoor bathroom (twice…lots of water that morning because hydration!) and Cathy went exploring or something.  That being said, as I wandered out, I was greeted by some members of the Louisville She Runs This Town Group, and we all sort of gathered together, admiring festive attire, talking about race strategy, possible races coming up, and how bright my pants were.  That really was a thing.  We all admired the cute Christmas tree awards that would be handed out to the Top 2 overall for the 6K and the 12K.  They were truly stunning.  Then, with 10 minutes to go until race time…we took the group photo.

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SRTT Louisville Group Photo

Melissa arrived soon after the photo was taken, bringing my bib and her cute little bundle of joy (and her husband, for good measure, LOL!).  I got pinned up and with 3 minutes to go finally headed outside.  At this point, Lynn Riedling, a local runner, wandered past and I looked at Cathy and said, “Well…I won’t take overall here anyway!” I stepped out into the cold morning air.  No one was really out there yet.  It was weird.  A lady asked which way we were heading out on the run, and I said, “I guess this way…because that’s how everyone is facing.  Usually I don’t have to worry about it because I’m not really speedy enough to lead a race.”  She said that was the same with her.

With just seconds to go, there was a countdown to the start of the race.  People didn’t really line up right on the line…but we all took off when we told to go.  My legs felt fast to start, but I didn’t know how fast they were as we took off from the church and headed down to Commerce Parkway.  We were given instructions at the start of the race to return on the path, not the road when we turned around.  Noted.  I was feeling pretty strong as we made our way to the first turn and hit Mile 1.  It was my fastest mile of the day…around a 6:50.

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Start line for the 12Ks of Christmas – next year I’m up right on that line!

But here is where I now get why my LaGrange friends always talking about the hills.  Because after that turn, the hills definitely started.  Immediately.  We climbed the first one on New Moody Lane.  I wasn’t sure who I was running with was doing the 6K or the 12K, but I knew that I would continue to run straight down a road.  Anyone doing the 6K would turn at Mile 1.86.

My second mile was around a 7:44.  Hills.  They get me every time.  I had a few people pass me, but they were either men or dogs at this point.  I did reach the turn around point and only a few turned.  I stayed the course with the rest and just really was feeling strong at the moment.  And I knew all I had to do was run straight down LaGrange Parkway to the turnaround at KY 53.  But, in all cases, I just turn around when everyone else does.

Soon after the 2.5 mile point…Lynn passed me.  I knew that was coming.  She’s stealth and fast and an amazing runner.  I expected it.  But I knew I’d now be working for that 2nd overall female position.  I was able to push a little more and sped up for the rollers on the road, reaching the turnaround point a little sooner than I should have.  After I turned and started back, the next female behind me was coming toward the turnaround. I had a bit of a buffer, but not much.

Time to dial it in.

Miles 4 and 5 went by quickly, and I was able to maintain that pickup I had once Lynn passed me.  That made me feel pretty good.  But coming into Mile 6, we had to make another hill climb, and that definitely slowed me down more than I wish it had.  But we were nearing the end of the race, so I knew my legs were not feeling as peppy.  It was my slowest mile of the race, and it ended on a downhill, so that was a bit of a surprise.  I made the dash across the road to continue on the path.  That did mean some running on some grass, but it was only for a few strides.  Someone said they heard jingle bells and turned to see me coming up behind them so they moved out of the way.  Oh yeah…decided it would be fun to wear socks with bells on them for this run.  HA!  Someone else a bit further up the path was blocking the way while walking, and they turned as I was coming up behind them and stepped right in front of me.  I had to hit the brakes and dodge around them.  They did apologize.  But I was in the homestretch.  I could also tell at this point that the course was definitely going to be short.

I made the turn into the church parking lot to come up the hill.  I had 0.05 miles to go to the finish line when…right there a woman sprinted right past me and up the hill.  I tried to go with her, but she pressed on and I saw her round to the finish line.  The fight I had left and I really slowed down because I just felt disappointed.  It was the last race of the year for my mom and I got outkicked fight at the end after being 1st or 2nd overall for ALL of the race.  I felt so much anger when I crossed the finish line that I paused my Garmin, said a few not safe for church words, and might have fought off tears.

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The Overall awards for the 12K and 6K

It felt like I had been cheated right at the end.  And I won’t lie.  I was mad.  I was also mad that the course was about .30 miles short.  Looking back at the course, the original one had us doing this little duck into a parking lot thing and doing a loop in the first mile…and that didn’t happen.  I guess that’s where it all went wrong.  The good part was that I crossed just after my friends Melissa, Paul and their baby Carrick (in a stroller) crossed for the 6K.  But Melissa wasn’t happy with her finish either, and she tried really, really hard to lift my spirits. I wasn’t having it as much as she wasn’t having my words of praise for her run.  Cathy made a point of telling me that I was coming off a week that included two 10 milers before this race whereas the other woman was probably on better rested legs.  It almost made me feel better.

At this point, a child walked an ornament over to me for finishing.  Just as I was handed it, I just passed it off to Cathy.  But then Lynn Riedling (the overall female winner) came over to me and said such nice things to me.  I think she could tell I was upset.  She told me that I really pushed her and that I ran really well that day.  Honestly, that was such a show of sportsmanship that it really warmed my heart.

Cathy noticed people weren’t coming up the path the right way so she went to direct them and I wen to go add on to my distance to get the proper 12K.  I kept it really easy.  Cried a little from anger, disappointment, and just feeling like I let my mom down on the last race of the year.

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Pop’s Poppin’ Egg Salad (without the bread) for post-race brunch with the Nolans

And then…my mom called.  I had just finished my cool down and my phone rang.  I told her about the race and she said someone should have tripped that woman.  My mom has a dry sense of humor.  She told me she was proud of me for being 3rd female or 1st in my age group.  And I told her…that didn’t matter at this race, because no one got awards for that.  Now, I know awards and accolades aren’t everything, but I literally thought I had it for the ENTIRE race until that finish.

I finished talking to her and all of us went inside for the awards.  I was nice and applauded everyone, including the lady who outkicked me (she was also the one I spoke with at the start of the race) right at the end.  I’m not unsporting.  She earned it.  I just am still a bit bitter.  HA!  I’ll get over it…eventually.  Although, I did find out that if I had opted for the 6K option, I would have crushed the competition going away.  Let that be a lesson…there is sometimes more magic in that shorter distance.  Hindsight is 20/20.

Afterwards, the Nolans, Cathy and I went out for brunch at Wild Eggs.  I then had to finish up some shopping and head home to pack because I was heading to Alabama early on Sunday morning for Christmas with the family.

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Paul, Carrick, Melissa, Me and Cathy post-race!

So, my official results of the 12Ks of Christmas are that I finished in I finished in 53:53.  That’s a good baseline to work on should I run this again next year…unless I opt for the 6K option.  We’ll see.  Also…maybe not…because the course was short, as I mentioned before.  I was 8/54 finishers overall. I was the 3/29 female finishers. And I was 1/3 in my age division. So, it might not have been the finish I thought I had earned, but in the end, it was a good race (next time I hope the course is more accurate), and the proceeds definitely went to a good cause.  And, honestly, when all was said and done…I had fun, even on the challenging hills.  And that wrapped up a year of racing…so in 2020, I’m going to work on that finishing kick.  Getting passed at the finish line is really getting old.

GOALS!

Also…I might eat sushi the night before.  Reasons.

Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 28, 2019)

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Me pushing it to the finish line at the Fast Freddie’s Five Mile Foot Feast

Race: Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, IN

Date: November 28, 2019

Time: 36:57

Okay…the way I had been racing prior to my Monumental Marathon, I was hoping for some Thanksgiving magic when I set out to run Fast Freddie’s this year.  I wasn’t expecting anything great. I wasn’t quite 3 weeks off my BQ finish, and the legs had only a little punch in them at this point.  So…let’s just say I felt like I had been racing well, so a PR wasn’t out of the question, but it was going to be up to the legs.

But I digress.

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Fast Freddie’s Packet Pick-Up

You guys already know the history of this tradition.  I have run it every year since I started running (except in 2015 when I was injured from the hip labrum tear, but we don’t talk about that year).  When I moved into my apartments, I had no idea a Thanksgiving race happened just across the street.  My parents found out that year though (prior to me even becoming a runner), when they were visiting for Thanksgiving and were caught on a street that was semi-closed to traffic for this race in question.  They showed up a little late going, “Are you aware a race is happening outside on the street.”  Little did they know that a few years later, they’d be spectating while I ran it.

But yes.  I do this one…EVERY YEAR!

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Got my number!

And why shouldn’t I?  It’s the least stressful, most convenient race on my race calendar every year.  The later start time sort of messes with my hosting responsibilities, but with my mom and dad around, we make it work.  My mom is a HUGE help in my tiny kitchen on this holiday! I give major props to her every year.  And since I wasn’t sure they would make the trip this year with her treatments and all, it was even more special this year when they said they were coming.

They arrived right around dinner time on Wednesday…bearing gifts (not really, it was a lot of my stuff that I had left with them in their attic, but they are downsizing their house (and it makes me sad, because the house they currently have is STUNNING) and the new house doesn’t have an attic (what kind of house doesn’t have an attic!?) so they needed to offload it…but news flash…I live in apartment with NO storage space that is free).  I had already stopped by the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds on the way home from work (we got out early at 3:30 pm) to pick up my race bib and shirt.  This year, the shirt was this gorgeous pumpkin color.  I’m in love with it.  I also delivered some gluten free stuffing I made for my friend Melissa to her husband, who we ran into at the packet pickup.  Go figure.

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Core Life’s Sriracha Ginger Tofu + Ancient Grains Bowl (YUM!)

The most difficult decision that night was where we were going to grab dinner.  We finally decided on Core Life.  Perfect.  A great, healthy dinner before the holiday feast.  I had my usual: the Siracha Ginger Tofu + Ancient Grains Bowl.  So yummy!  We ate, got caught up, and drove home, where my mom and I did some major meal prep…making the dessert (pink salad), and then chopped the veggies for the Shrimp Creole (What? You expect us to have turkey on Thanksgiving? Not in my family!) and the stuffing that would cook up in the crockpot while we were at the race.  We also hardboiled the eggs for the Deviled Eggs (which she whipped up while we were waiting on awards at the race).  We were pretty set for a less-stressful Thanksgiving.  We put on pajamas and settled in to an episode of Holiday Nailed It on Netflix.  My parents don’t have Netflix and had never seen Nailed It.  I think they’re hooked now.

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Don’t forget to wear your race bib!

We all turned in that night.  I set an early alarm that would give me time to do my stretches and work on some Thanksgiving things prior to the race itself.  And when everyone was up and had their coffee (not me…I had that post-race)…I went to go change, opting for some shorts because it was right on the cusp of it being too cold for shorts.  But I went with it.  I also had on a short-sleeve shirt (pink, of course) with arm warmers.  It was going to have to be enough to keep me warm that morning.  And it was cold and windy this Thanksgiving.  Oh, to have the year where it was 60 degrees back.

We were all bundled up and I realized we almost did what we did last year…forget to put my bib on.  HA!  Just before walking out the door, I realized it.  My roommate played it off like she was about to pin me up…but we all know better.  We almost forgot.  Again.  But, crisis averted.  Got pinned up, zipped back up, and we headed out into the cold Thanksgiving morning air.

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The Southern Indiana MRTT/SRTT group!

I knew that the local MRTT/SRTT chapter was doing their pictures at 8:45…and as we got over to the 4-H Fairgrounds, I spotted Leah…and soon more people followed.  We did get our photo taken, but then we all went our separate ways to get lined up at the start.  This year they did something a little different (which I personally appreciated)…if you were bib 1-99…you got to start in a green box at the start line.  I was Bib 90…and I took advantage of this.  I knew this wasn’t going to be an astounding race for me, but I appreciated not having to bob and weave through the kids (admittedly, a lot of them are pretty fast…but some are not) this year.

We took over the road and somehow I ended up right by the front.  Oh well…I planned to run this one has hard as I could that day.  And we were off.  The first part of this first mile felt…okay.  I got passed by a lot of people, but I was just going to see what I had.  We went up the hill leading to the overpass and I felt spritely enough to push a bit through that hill.  It isn’t one of the bad ones.  And the downhill on the other side was a nice way to balance it out.  The course flattened out as we hit the turn onto Mt. Tabor Road.  I ran past Mile 1 and soon after my watch beeped.  This is the first time EVER that my watch has been off on this course.  I didn’t look at it…I just kept going.  They had repaved the road earlier in the year, so maybe the mark was off when they went through to put up the mile markers.  I pressed on, but as I headed up a bit of a hill to turn onto Grant Line Road, I started to feel the inkling of a side stich.

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LOL! My face as I go to stand in the green box!

I haven’t had a side stitch on this course since the first year I ran it, I think.  And I train a lot using this course, so…what the hell?  I tried to just slowly breathe through it, and I passed Mile 2…my watch beeping soon after that.  Just as I was coming up on the rail road tracks, someone sprinted past me really fast.  All I could think in my head was, “And the coffee apparently just kicked in…”

I made the turn into Sam Peden Community Park, which I felt was wrong this year…and we turned too early from where we usually do on the course.  But, I mean, you go where you’re directed. And I could be wrong.  Needless to say, the hardest parts were here…and I started up that damn hill.  I hate that hill because it literally goes on for about a half a mile.  UGH!  I told myself I had run this hill so many times this year…and I pushed myself to keep my legs churning up it.  It felt like an eternity, but I got to where it leveled out for a moment.  And my side stitch went away too, so BONUS! As I ran past the Mile 3 marker I waited for my watch to hit it too.  It came a moment later (again).  BUT…this is also where my Wednesday spin teacher spotted me in the park and gave me a shoutout.  I sort of needed it after that hill, and knowing one of the hardest parts of the race, the hilly Schell Lane, was just ahead.

I exited the park and headed down a hill.  I have a love/hate relationship with this stretch of road.  I hate the hills.  I love that the people who live along this stretch come out and cheer, play music, whatever.  I made it up the first hill and started back down…crossed that 3 1/2 mile marker…and then headed up the short, but steep hill at the very end of that road.  Made the turn onto Daisy Lane…and enjoyed my favorite part of this race…the downhill.

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My dad, me, and my mom post race!

Mile 4 was in sight, and I could tell I was behind where I had been years previously, when I saw the 29 minute mark.  I usually hit this around 28 minutes in this race.  That being said, Mile 4 was my fastest mile of the race.  Even with all those hills.  Go figure.  When that part of the course levels off from that downhill though, the legs really have to fight to get that momentum again.  I knew this wasn’t going to be a spectacular last mile, but I went all in, as much as I could.

I made the turn onto Green Valley Road and immediately got hit with the headwind.  UGH.  I could feel my body just tense up because me and cold winds are not BFFs.  Not at all.  I put my head down and just fought it the best I could.  I was tired.  My legs felt tired.  But I really wanted to put in a good time.  I really wanted to have a great finish for my mom.  I have run EVERY race this year for her (always wearing pink to honor her battle against breast cancer), and when my legs were slowing down, I was literally getting mad at myself.

I  could see the fairgrounds and focused on that.  My dad was down near the road, and I heard him cheer me in.  I made the final turn, where my mom and Cathy were cheering and just ran it as hard as I could at that point…across the finish.  I slowed down and a few seconds later, my watch clicked to Mile 5.  I stopped it then.

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Paul, Melissa, and Baby C heading toward that finish line!

I snagged a couple of water bottles and made my way to the other side of Newlin Hall, meeting up with my mom, dad, and Cathy.  Cathy was kind enough to take a photo of me with them, before we headed over to the road to cheer in some of my friends.  My dad wasn’t feeling well, so my mom ended up taking him back to the apartment, where she got to work on the Deviled Eggs and a few other things, while I cheered people in.  Cathy kept going in to check official results, but none of them posted at that point.  Once I saw my friends Paul and Melissa come in (with Melissa pushing the stroller), I went to head inside and find them for the awards ceremony. Before I got in there, though, I was spotted by the pacer from the Monumental Marathon.  I once again took a moment to thank him for helping me hit my goal, and he said 15 people in the 3:35 group got that BQ time that day.  It was awesome.  I also got to introduce him to Cathy.  We all headed inside together.  Paul found me and Cathy and we went over to see Melissa and the baby as the awards were starting up.  My age group came up…and my name wasn’t announced.  Knowing my parents were back at the apartment, we ducked out before the raffle tickets were drawn and headed home.  Cathy checked the results as we left…and I was 4th.  Again.  Getting outkicked by A LOT.  Again.

I went inside and took a quick shower before hopping back into the kitchen to work on more of the feast for Thanksgiving.  Our friend and neighbor, Laura, stopped over with her boyfriend for a moment to say HI and give hugs.  She didn’t get to spend the day with us this year, but I was so glad she stopped by.  Soon after…we set up the table and feasted, thankful for a lot this year.  But, as always, I was thankful to have my parents with me this year.

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Had to get a picture with this lil’ mama!

SO…here it is.  My official results of the Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast this year is that I finished in 36:57…three seconds slower than my 2013 and 2018 finish times.  No new PR.  No age group award (again!).  But, let’s remember that I had run a BQ qualifying time at a marathon on November 9th…so these legs were peppier than I expected.  Will I ever beat my 2017 time?  I bet I can.  Just not this year.  I was 118/692 finishers this year.  There were 100 fewer finishers this year.  That is surprising.  I was the 19th female to cross the finish line.  And I was 4th in my age division. To be fair…those who came in ahead of me kicked my ass time-wise once again. Like…2 minutes faster than me ass kicking.  I’m definitely hoping to kick it next year and maybe get a new PR on this course. I incorporate it so often into my runs, that I figure my body would just be used to those hills.  Next year, no side stiches or wind, please!

Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure 5K – Louisville, KY (October 12, 2019)

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The Brady Bunch team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K

Race: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 12, 2019

Time: 21:34*

Sometimes the race isn’t about who crosses that finish line first.  Sometimes the race is surviving.  Thriving.  Proving that there is life after breast cancer.

If you ever want to feel uplifted by the strength of the human spirit…do one of these events.

I ran the Race for the Cure back in 2011, when I was new-ish to running.  My mom and dad were visiting and they got to see me run across that finish line.  It was the first time they ever got to see me run.  And my mom said to me, “Baby, you don’t run…you fly.”  I ran that year to honor my my friend’s mom.  Back then, it was an officially timed event.  This year…there was a clock, but unless you were a survivor…your bib strictly gave the year…2019.

In case you are new to the blog, my mom, Dottie, was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January.  She’s been through chemo and radiation, and will be finishing up this round of chemo in late January.  Her journey hasn’t been easy.  She’s had good days, bad days, good months, bad months, bad side effects, people who cut her out of their lives as the treatments took their toll on her.  But through the entire process, she’s been positive, kept a good attitude, and just done everything in her power to look on the bright side…even when there wasn’t a lot of good happening.

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My mom: Dottie Brady

So, when I saw that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was happening on a weekend where I could slide it into my training schedule, I decided to put together a team who could run not just for my mom, but to honor those they know who have battled through breast cancer, and maybe those at the race who are survivors or still in the midst of their battle.

Guys…I have amazing people in my life, because I had a lot of people sign up to run for my team: The Brady Bunch.

This is also where I give a big shout-out to Kelly, because she picked up packets for everyone at Oxmoor while she was there.  That saved me a trip and made it SO easy on race day.  So…get yourself a friend like Kelly.  Or meet Kelly.  Because she’s the best.

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Broccoli Masala from Shalimar in Louisville, KY – not my usual pre-race eats!

Normally before a race, I would get my vegan sushi combo that has been working for me this training cycle…but…I also had a 22 mile run on Sunday, which I figured would be the better option for that.  And, since we were meeting up with my roomie’s sister, Amanda, to go to the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park (TRADITION), we went out to our favorite Indian restaurant in Louisville – Shalimar.  I got the usual (since my run was short and not long) of Broccoli Masala.  Extra spicy.  My favorite.  Then it was off to get hot apple cider at Highland Coffee and head to Iroquois Park, where we had kettle corn while waiting for our time to head into the path with all the pumpkins.

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Part of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Louisville, KY

This did make for a late night, and I went to bed the moment we got home because I had to get up early enough to stretch and figure out what I was going to wear.  A front moved through with the rain overnight, so we suddenly were plunged into the 30s in the morning.  My original plan to wear shorts was tossed out the window.  But, our theme for our team was wear something pink (of course), green (my mom’s favorite color), and/or something with polka dots (since my mom’s name is Dottie).  And I happened to have a pair of green leggings with polka dots on them.  I had bought some pink compression sleeves that had polka dots on them.  I had a pink short sleeve shirt.  Green arm warmers.  And pink gloves.  I even had a Bondi Band with polka dots on it.  I was covered.  So, I got dressed and made sure I had my anklet on and my hair pulled up in proper pigtails (with pink and green hair extensions, naturally).  I ate a quick breakfast of gluten free cereal (short race) and my roomie (also running, so no cheer squad and finish line photo for me) and I headed out the door to get to Cardinal Stadium.

Remember…it was cold outside.  So, Cathy and I basically hung out in the car for as long as we could (we got their earlier than expected).  My runner’s metabolism kicked in, because suddenly I was starving and I had over an hour until race time.  I knew I should have brought backup.  We got out of the car and donned some trash bags to insulate.  Then, we meandered our way toward the team meet-up spot…Gate 4…which just happened to be near the start/finish and the stage.  We were there for about 10 minutes, and then, one-by-one, my team started to arrive.  Kelly and Elizabeth arrived, toting the bags with bibs and shirts.  Then Tiffany and Kaleigh arrived as well.  Dennis was the last one to arrive (we had more people registered, but other commitments and/or sickness took some out at the last minute).  We wrangled everyone together for a group picture, then Dennis went to go warm up and the rest of us watched some of the Parade of Hope (Survivor’s Parade).  The national anthem was sung, and all runners and walkers lined up to await the 9 am start of the race.  As I was standing near the front, a woman (definitely a survivor) looked over at me and said, “Are you a runner?  Are you running this?”  I said, “Yes ma’am.”  And she said, “Run for me.”

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Me heading out at the start of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Louisville, KY

We had a fun countdown from 10 seconds to go…and then we were all off.  I was only under orders to not run all out on this race, so I decided to run comfortably hard, aiming for around a 23 minutes.  I felt strong, despite not being able to feel my feet/toes due to the cold air.  I passed a few people as we headed down the corridor and made the turn onto S. Floyd Street.  That put me up front as the first female and I was feeling pretty good.  We rounded onto Central Avenue and up, up, up the hill we went.  I usually get slowed down by hills, but my legs wanted to go.  I powered up it, and rode that downhill on the other side (downhill, after all, is my favorite speed), making the turn onto S 3rd Street.

I ran through the water top, minding the bump of the casing over the cords.  Then through the tunnel I went.  I popped out, somehow missing that first mile indicator on my watch.  I made the turn to run down and around Eastern, looping back and then heading down to make a loop of a small section of the U of L campus.  Then, I was heading back toward the finish line (same as the start).  Back down S Third Street I went.  Still felt amazing and strong.  And I was lifted even more as I hit Mile 2 and got shout-outs and waves from teammates Kelly and Elizabeth.  Then Tiffany.  Then my friend Jamie gave me a shout-out. I headed down the hill to go under the overpass and I could see Cathy coming down on the other side.  She must have seen me too, because as I am running through, she literally stops to poke her head through and shout at me, “FIRST FEMALE.”

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I’ve pretty much known Kelly since I moved here…because I met her at my first job I got in Indina

This is what friends do.

It was just before I made the turn back onto Central that I caught up to the man ahead of me.  He told me “good job.” I kicked it past him and started up that stupid hill.  I did push the hill, mostly because I tend to get passed on hills and I really didn’t want to be passed again.  The people who were doing the walk were cheering and screaming at me as I crested it and headed down the hill to make the turn back onto S. Floyd St.  More cheers of encouragement as I headed down the road and turned back toward where the start/finish line was.

My watch beeped the third mile as I was heading in, way too soon before I would hit that finish line…but I just ran it in.  There was no timing mat or anything…but here was this race…this amazing race…that I signed up for to honor my mom…and I crossed the finish line as the 3rd overall (there were 2 other guys ahead of me) and first female.  I have no finish line photos, because my race photographer (aka: Cathy – the roomie) was in the actual race itself.  I was announced as the first female and was complimented on my hair.  A woman came over and asked me if I had run the entire race.  I nodded and I told her I had done it to honor my mom and she pulled me in for a tight hug.  I needed it.

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My amazing team post-race! I am lucky to have such good people in my life!

I grabbed a bottle of water and went to the other side of the finish line to cheer in everyone, including the first survivor to cross the finish line.  The survivors got medals, and it was just so amazing and moving to see them all come in.  I cheered in strangers, team members, and just enjoyed this part of the race.  And, even though I had one of my strongest races, one of my best 5Ks in years…this wasn’t one giving out age group awards or placement awards.  And none of it mattered to me at that moment.  My mom was the reason I was there, knowing all that she had gone through over the span of the year, and was still currently fighting through…and that finish line moment was for her.  Knowing I raced the best I could that day to honor her battle was award enough.  Third overall…first female…strong day that morning.

So, the reason I have the asterisk by my time is not just because the race measured short on my watch…but because it was honestly not timed, and truly…the real finishes that we should celebrate are those who crossed that finish line having gone through or are currently going through treatments.  I hope to return to this one again next year.

To those of you who were on my team, whether you were able to run that morning or not…THANK YOU!!  Your show of support meant the world to me and I am honored to have such amazing people in my life.

Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN (May 25, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line of the Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN

Race: Run for the Berries 5K

Place: Starlight, Indiana

Date: May 25, 2019

Time: 23:37

It’s that time of year, friends.  Yep.  That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens.  And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K.  Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!

The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day.  Why?  I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money.  So it doesn’t happen.  So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.

But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends.  Oh no!!  Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will.  And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.

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Registering on race morning

I woke up feeling slightly “off.”  My stomach was unsettled.  I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help.  At least I was hydrated, right?  It was also VERY warm out this particular morning.  Like humid and hot.  The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in.  UGH.  So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water.  When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it.  I told him I wanted to race it.  Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!!  I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point.  But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?

My speed work sessions during training have been fast.  So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen.  Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon).  Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K.  Because these legs were not made for sprinting.  They were made for…DISTANCE.  But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!

And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have.  Spoiler alert: No PR.  But let me first start with what I did do.  I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw).  I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries.  I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.

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I am wondering why I’m up front!

My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race.  All of these things were accomplished and did happen.  I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky.  It would be better thank bonky!  (Rhyming is fun!)

I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point.  I was amazed how few people were there at this point.  So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting.  Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope.  I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.”  It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time.  Imposter syndrome!

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Me at the start, when I thought I might be able to hang and be fast…

The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off.  And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.

The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range.  Not this year.  I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13.  It felt hard.  And I knew I was fading already.  The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today.  Nope.  I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.

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An icy cold strawberry drink was just what I needed

It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down.  So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing.  I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster.  They kept screaming to slow down.  And they did…without me even commanding them to do so.  Mile 2 was at 7:35.  After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting.  Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core.  I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.

There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line.  You actually sort of go uphill to the finish.  Brutal.  And I was fighting.  I was fighting with all I had to get there.  I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on.  I think someone passed me.  I don’t really remember.  But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion).  Mile 3 was 7:53.  I was going off the rails.  The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done.  I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first.  It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.IMG_1097

As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes.  I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.

We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink.  YES!!  It was perfection.

IMG_1102The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast.  Seriously.  And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it.  My card and time were in fact…right.  I was first in my age division.  How about that?  I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).

I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere.  Not on Facebook.  Not on Pacers & Racers.  Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results.  BUT…here’s what I can tell you…

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Age group pint glass from the Run for the Berries 5K

Officially…I had positive splits.  But positive splits for positive people.  I finished the race in 23:37.  I was the thirteenth woman overall.  And I was first in my age group.  That’s it…that’s all I got.

And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start.  Fingers crossed.

And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them.  But, I am not currently holding my breath!

Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN (May 18, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN

Race: Geist Half Marathon

Place: Fishers, Indiana

Date: May 19, 2018

Time: 1:49:06

Time got away from me on this race recap as we are almost one month removed from it.  My apologies.  Marathon training is back in full swing (again)…and I’ve just been busy.  Even on weeks that haven’t had a stacked training plan.  Hey…I do have an actual job (if I could make a living is a blogger…that would be amazing, but it’s not my destiny) and some obligations that happened between then and now.  But…here I am…finally getting this written up.

I will preface it with this…going into this race, being only weeks off of a full-on marathon where I attempted (and almost hit) a BQ race, my coach and I agreed to use this one as a training run.  No pushing the pace.  Keep it easy.  And with the humidity and weather trending the way it was for Saturday morning, I was relieved that this was our decision.  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Let’s start on Friday evening, after leaving work around 2-ish to head up to Fishers, Indiana to get to the expo and pick up race bibs.  I say bibs, because once again, Cathy was taking a spin at the 5K.  We did hit some traffic jams, of course, but we finally arrived and I was ready to get my race stuff and do a quick walk through of the expo (it’s tiny…honestly) before checking into the hotel just up the way.geist01

The expo was simple to explore. You can do the first part of it as you enter St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital.  There are a few vendors, but nothing that I, someone from out of town, really needed to stop and check out.  So, Cathy and I maneuvered ourselves to the back of the room to the table set up for packet pickup.  I went to get my bib for the half, and Cathy went to get her special VIP bib for the 5K.  We don’t remember her signing up for VIP…but she had VIP.  So…who knows.  After that, we checked out the second half of the expo, simply walking past the booths, heading to the room near where we entered to pick up our race shirts.  The 5K was short sleeve.  The 10K was short sleeve.  The half marathon…long sleeve.  It’s an April race…if it’s not the really cool hoodie thing that I got last year…I want short sleeves.  But, the shirt was very nice…so I won’t complain.

That was it for the expo.  We were in and out in about 5 minutes and heading up the street to the hotel we stayed in last year.  Check-in took a bit longer than usual, because someone was checking in bunch of different people in different rooms (not sure for what, but it wasn’t for the race).  But eventually I got up to the front desk and got our room, up on the 2nd floor.  We hauled our luggage up to the room and now were waiting on our friend, Greg, to meet up with us so we could grab dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant (my new favorite place to grab food when in Indy).  It was taking a bit longer than expected because…traffic…so Cathy and I split a Clara Cookie that I had picked up at the Glass City Marathon expo in Toledo.  It was the Peanut Butter one.  And it was delicious.  And it was perfect to keep the tummy rumbles at bay while we waited for Greg.

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Pre-race Dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN: Spinach Mushroom Tacos with Sweet Potato Fries

He did finally make it and we headed down to see him, somehow missing him when we walked through the lobby.  We ended up doubling back and finding him.  Hugs all around before making the drive from Fishers to Carmel, Indiana to eat dinner.  We ended up finding a really good parking spot and were seated immediately at a corner table.

I had looked at menus online, so I was prepared and ready to go with my order.  Greg got the Triple Grilled Cheese and a beer.  Cathy got the Friday special of Fish & Chips (her favorite), and I got Spinach Mushroom Tacos.  I didn’t ask for extras or for hot sauce, because with the race the following morning, I was hoping to keep things mild.  With it, I got a side of the sweet potato fries (which are gluten free!).  We spent the time waiting on the food (it did actually take awhile, but they were PACKED that night) chatting and catching up on things that we had been up to.  And when food arrived, we dove in.  Tacos, however, are one of those foods that once you pick it up to eat…you’re committed and you just have to keep going on it.  So the tacos disappeared first…then I hit up the fries.  We all seemed pretty satisfied with our meals.  Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to hang out.  I did some foam rolling.  Greg left after a bit more talking and we got ready to get some rest with a 7 am start time staring us down.

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Cathy feeling good on race morning for the Geist 5K

I always set two alarms for race morning.  I got up with the first one to take a pill…use the bathroom, then crawled back into bed for another hour.  The second alarm went off, which is also Cathy’s alarm.  We’re actually really good about staying out of each other’s way…letting each one have a turn in the bathroom, and getting ready pretty quickly.  We have this race morning thing down.  So even early start times aren’t too stressful.

With the way the morning was heating up already, I went with the new Boston crop top that my friend Natalie got me as a gift for finishing Glass City in Toledo (even without the BQ). I love this crop.  It’s motivation in and of itself.  And…shorts.  My compression sleeves were pink to honor my mom’s continuing battle against breast cancer.  I made sure I had two Nuun tablets in my hydration pack’s bladder to help balance out electrolytes, because it was definitely going to be a sweaty race.

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Loving my new crop top that Natalie gave me…my outfit for the Geist Half Marathon

We left the hotel room early, but I forgot to grab something and had to go back in.  Cathy went down to the lobby without me, where she met a runner celebrating her birthday.  Her name was Katie, and not only was she a Disney runner, but she was Bib 34, celebrating her 34th birthday.  AMAZING!!  She was super nice and I actually ended up running into her again as she and her family were headed to the hotel pool as I was heading up for a shower and to pack up to head out for lunch and then get home.

Cathy loves parking at the school which used to host the expo for this race.  We never have trouble finding a spot.  And while it is a bit of a hike down to the start line, it is never hard to get to and from the parking area so we can get back to the hotel without any stress.  So…worth it.  We parked and made the walk toward the start area.  I got a text from my friend Jay, and I went and met him at the Fishers Running Club tent.  But, like I said…start time was 7 am….so while their club was getting their photo taken, I meandered down to check out the start line.  It was about this time that I realized that I had left my fuel (save for the Generation UCan I had for 20 minutes before the start) back in the hotel room.  I had enough UCan to get me through a half marathon…but with the heat, I wasn’t sure if I would need backup or not.  So, I was bummed.  Big time!  Whoops!

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Why am I so happy? No pressure pace race!

The 10K and Half Marathon start on the right of the line.  The 5K starts to the left.  So, after snapping a couple of photos, Cathy and I parted ways: she went to line up in the 5K corrals and I went to find a spot at the start for someone who wasn’t racing.  I was hoping for at least a 1:50 half…so I stood near that pacer.  The National Anthem was sung…and the lyrics were flubbed, but we were close now to the start.  I took in some water and readied myself for a training run with a medal at the end.

I made a point to stay just in front of the 1:50 pacer in the first mile.  There were a lot of people going all-out, full throttle from the start, and I really think this worked against them that morning.  The emcee announced that it was the hottest Geist Half Marathon to date!!  So, holding back I think helped me not have burnout, like I did last year when I just gunned it at the start and then ended up having walk breaks at water stops.  I don’t think walk stops are a bad thing, but when you’re gunning for a PR…it’s not exactly something you usually incorporate.

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Cathy and I pre-race…she’s about to head to the 5K side and I’m about to line up for the Geist Half Marathon

This year…I was supposed to keep the pace easy…and treat this as a training run.  Mostly because I was fresh off a marathon.  In the end, this tactic seemed to work for me.  I never really felt awful at all.  And I was able to run the entire time.  Was it my slowest Geist Half Marathon to date?  You better believe it!  Am I okay with that?  You better believe it.

I continue to come back to Geist, despite the heat and hills (dear, God, are there ever hills!), because of the atmosphere.  It’s stunning.  The race runs you through gorgeous neighborhoods, starting at the corner you turn soon after hitting Mile 1.  The people who live there come out with speakers and with treats and with sprinklers and with sidewalk chalk and cheer and encourage.  And it just makes you feel good.  You belong there.  The 10K and Half Marathon stick together for about the first 3 miles. Just before that Mile 3 marker, 10K runners are instructed to go left, while Half Marathoners are told to keep going straight.  This year, I was running near a young man who had his headphones in, wearing a 10K shirt and bib…and didn’t hear the instructions.  So, it seemed he was getting himself into more than he was ready for.  He was yelled at by volunteers at least 5 times.  THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HEADPHONES IN A RACE.  Or, if you must, keep that volume at a reasonable level, okay?

This is the point where we cross the reservoir again (we do it the first time as we head out from the start).  I love this part because it’s gorgeous, but also because there is usually a nice breeze coming off the water.  Love it.

The halfway point came and went.  I would normally fuel at this point…but I was just relying on that superstartch to get me through the heat.  I still felt good, mostly because I wasn’t really pushing any sort of pace…wanting to just keep my momentum moving forward without stressing over a goal time.  There were plenty of water stops along the way, and some cooling stations as well.  If there was water being sprayed at any point, you better believe I was running through it.  I used the water stops to grab the cups of water and pour them over my head.  Every stop.  Without fail.  Trying to keep that core temperature down.  This worked.  Honestly.

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Me running to the finish of the Geist Half Marathon

From everything to remember on this course, I always remember that Mile 9 is a giant hill that we have to run up.  I passed a few people on this, who had shuffled to the side to walk up it.  I gave a couple of people a “nice job” as I jogged my way up.  Hills are a MAJOR struggle for me.  So why do I do this race?  It’s my PR race.  On a harder course.  So…one day, maybe it will all click again.  It wasn’t that day though.  Nope.  Not that day.  Not in that heat.  At the bottom of the hill, we make a turn to head back toward the bridge to go back over the reservoir and then back into the neighborhoods and then back to the finish line.  It was at this point, a man behind me said, “Are there any more hills?”  The volunteer stationed there said, “I don’t know…maybe little ones?”  I laughed.  Out loud.  The last 3 miles are basically retracing the start of the race.  People were still out cheering, offering orange slices, water, whatever runners might need.  More importantly were those who would shout out that you were getting close…that the finish line wasn’t far…that we looked strong.  Some people who were struggling, they would ask if they needed anything.  Honestly.  THE BEST.

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Me crossing the finish line at the Geist Half Marathon

As I was making the turn at Mile 12, I passed my friend Jay.  He told me I “looked strong” and I decided to give picking up the pace a shot.  The road to the finish line always seems long, but as you get close, you get the crowd and you get the announcer.  I passed a few people.  Got passed by some people.  But, ultimately, entered that chute and ran towards the finish line.  I saw Cathy on the sideline and she started screaming at me to cheer me in.  With hands held up…I finished the race.  Another Geist Half Marathon in the books.

Cathy made her way over to the finishers area, and had me stand under the spray of a cooling station there.  It was nice and felt really good.  Jay found me as we were leaving to head up to the VIP area for Cathy to grab free beer and some snacks.  He invited me to stop in at the Fishers Running Club tent for any sort of refreshment.  I took him up on that before we went to get official results and let Cathy have one more go at the VIP area.  I have videos on my cell phone of her first go-round in the VIP section. HA!

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Cooling off at the cooling station

I went to get my results printed and after the paper was handed to me, I glanced at it and went, “Holy crap.  Third in my age group!”  For the first time…without trying or even racing…I once again placed in my age group.  This was becoming a fun trend.  I went to the awards table next door and was handed a little cinch bag with the words “Age Group Winner” on it.  I always have use for bags…but this one would have to be on display.  We then went back to the VIP section…Cathy went in for beer and fruit and I hung out on the curb near the gated off area.  We chilled for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the hotel room so we could cycle through showers and head back to Carmel to grab lunch at…yep…Woody’s Library Restaurant again.

So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:49:06.  It was my slowest Geist Half Marathon yet…but I felt good throughout it, never really fading.  That’s a testament to Generation UCan if you ask me.  So, I was 104/942 finishers overall!  I was the 18/450 women to cross the finish line. And I was 3/87 people in the my age division! How ironic is it that I finally snagged an age group award on my slowest finish time for this race?  In 2014 (my PR year), I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th.  In 2018, I was 5th.  Nailed it.  Somehow.  Without trying.

And yes…I can’t wait to have another spin around the reservoir next year!

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Unexpected Age Group Award at the Geist Half Marathon

Glass City’s Savage 5K – Toledo, OH (April 27, 2019)

 

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Me after finishing Glass City’s Savage 5K – Toledo, OH

Race: Glass City’s Savage 5K

Place: Toledo, Ohio

Date: April 27, 2019

Time: 24:19

Friends, I did not come all the way up to Toledo for this 5K.  In fact, this race was my shakeout run.  Tomorrow, the Glass City Marathon runs, in winter-like conditions, and I am not happy about it.  I didn’t train all winter to not have a beautiful day of running.  Looks like it will be 30 degrees at the start tomorrow with winds between 16-20 mph.  And that sucks.  And it has been festering in my brain since the weather changed as I was packing and then again as I was traveling up to Toledo.

I had a lot going on this past week.  Between some training runs and cross-training.  Between work and errands.  I was squeezing in baking Lemon Blossoms for the MRTT/SRTT tent at the finish line of the KDF Marathon/minimarathon.  I was getting a sports massage to get my legs primed for this effort on Sunday.  And I was having a late dinner with my friends Melissa, Paul, and the one and only baby Carrick, the night before I had to get in a car with my roommate and make the long-ass drive from Louisville up to Toledo.

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Picking up my Savage 5K race big & stadium blanket

Thankfully, Cathy handled most of my packing.  On Friday morning, I simply had to stretch, foam roll, make breakfast, get together road snacks and hydration…and yes…RACE FUEL…pack a few extra things plus toiletries in my suitcase…before taking everything down to the car, taking out the garbage, making a quick stop at Kroger, and hitting the road.  It sounds like a lot.  It was.  But I enjoyed the dinner out with my friends, and despite getting home late that night, I knew I could sleep in a bit as we were hoping to get on the road by 9:30 at the latest.  We managed.  YAY!

But it was to be a pretty rainy drive and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint.  In fact, not only did we get rain, we got about three traffic accidents that really slowed our progress into Toledo.  And the first one ended up with us taking a major detour that was out of our way, but got us where we needed to be quicker than sitting in the long line of traffic would have.  But the second one, we actually had to sit through and just creep through.  I had to really pee at this point (remember…HYDRATION!), and now I was stuck in traffic for who knows how long.  We got through that one and we managed to get to a rest stop 10 miles up the road.  YAY!  But soon we were sitting in traffic again…yes…AGAIN.  And we hadn’t even hit Dayton yet.  It. Was. A. Mess.

But…we did finally make it in to Toledo and to our hotel, the Home2Suites by Hilton.  It’s a nice little place, with a full fridge, microwave, and lots of room and space.  The beds are quite comfortable too.  We hauled our luggage in and were told that some sports teams were coming in this weekend too…looks like some kids soccer teams…but we were staying through Monday, so it really didn’t affect us at all.  We unpacked our stuff and took a moment to relax.  The expo didn’t open until 4 pm, so we had a bit of time.  But we wanted to get there close to opening, so we did eventually meander out and head down to the University of Toledo campus.  On the way, we noted that we were close to both a Kroger and a Target…just in case we needed to make any sort of stops.

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Picking up my Mercy Health Glass City Marathon packet and half-zip.

The expo itself was held in the Savage Hall Sports Arena.  It isn’t a large expo, but it was big enough that we walked through a couple times.  But, we made our first official stop all the way at the back…at the packet pick-up.  I had to get both my Savage 5K (my shakeout run) packet and my Mercy Health Glass City Marathon race packet as well.  This was very seamless and easy, to be honest.  I had my bib number in my e-mail and showed my ID.  Simple.  The 5K gives you a soft stadium blanket.  You can pay extra for a t-shirt, but why?  Love different race swag.  I got a yellow half-zip for the full marathon and Cathy got her bib for the 5K as well.  With those in hand, we went to have her knees (that had been acting up this past week) taped up by a chiropractor that was there in the expo…and then shopped.  I picked up some gluten-free and vegan protein cookies that were being sold and sampled there.  Really good.  And also got the Glass City Marathon Bondi Band.  We wandered back over to official merch, where I picked up a hoodie and a race t-shirt (compliments of Cathy).  And then we headed out.

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Lots of love to Marco’s Pizza for this gluten-free pizza!!

We, sadly, were having a hard time finding food options for this race for me.  Lots of reviews on Find Me Gluten Free pointed us away from many of the options we had thought about.  But…we passed a Marco’s Pizza on our way to the expo, and I called to see if they did gluten free (the one in New Albany doesn’t, but the one near my parents in Birmingham, AL does…so it was worth a try).  They did…so we decided that we would go ahead and put our trust in Marco’s Pizza for dinner that night.
We ordered a Gluten Free Pizza without cheese, topping it with onions, mushrooms, and banana peppers.  Cathy said she didn’t even miss the cheese when ti came out.  And, the man who took our order, a guy named Davis, basically walked my pizza down the line to make sure there was no cross-contamination.  He was amazing.  And so was the pizza.  We hit up Kroger on our way back to the hotel, picking up some bananas and some gluten-free cookies to have for dessert.  I am a dessert fiend.  I must have dessert.

It was getting late.  So while Cathy showered, I stretched and did my foam rolling before getting settled into my bed while watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network (of course!).  I set an alarm for 6:30 am, since race start wasn’t until 9 am, and we called it a night.

I hate hotel pillows, for the record.  They are always too soft for me.  MEH.  But I slept relatively well, getting up to use the bathroom, do my first round of stretches in the dark, and then get back into bed for about 30 minutes until the alarm went off.

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Had to dress warm because Winter returned to Toledo, Ohio!

We were up and getting ready for the race right on time.  And it didn’t take us too long to get fully dressed and ready to head out the door.  It was 41 degrees, but real feel was 35 degrees.  I opted for capris and a long sleeve shirt for this one.  And gloves, because I have to wear gloves in anything in the 40s and below for temperatures.  I just have to.  We made the short trip down to the race, parking near a parking garage on campus and not too far from the start of the Savage 5K.  I was thinking we’d hang in the car for awhile, but we ended up throwing on some garbage bags and making the trek to the start area.  After freezing for a bit, I commented that we still had an hour to go before the start, so we went over to the Savage Hall Sports Arena to sit down and stay warm prior to the race.  We had our photo taken on our way up the stairs, but ducked inside and took a seat on the stairs to wait until it was a little closer to race start.  I ate my banana with 30 minutes to go.

We did meander out 15 minutes before the race start and went to get into our corrals.  I was in Corral A and Cathy was in Corral D.  I kept my trash bag on until about 5 minutes before the race.  I had set my Garmin to give me some certain strides for the last mile so I pulled up that workout and then set my watch to start the workout.  A few people spoke before the race start, and a blessing was given as well.  And then…at about 9:01 am…we were on our way.

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Cathy & I before heading out for the Savage 5K

As I think I mentioned above, I was using this run as a shake-out leading into tomorrow’s race.  So, I held myself back and just ran comfortably…not pushing my pace or effort on any hills.  I felt really good, which was surprising after sitting in the car for so long the day before.  I just sort of settled in at a comfortable pace, and focused on just not pushing it.  There was a bit of a hill heading into the first mile marker, but I crested it by not pushing effort or pace, and felt like I was holding back and doing a good job.  I was under an 8 min pace.  WHOOPS.

Mile 2 went a bit better as I reined it back a bit.  This was a fun mile, as we got 2 water stop options and a dash through the Greek Village near campus.  It was really nice.  And as I turned back onto main roads, I passed a cute mother/young daughter team that was running and the mom was just being very encouraging to her little girl.  It was adorable.  Back onto the streets and back through another water stop opportunity, and I was heading into Mile 3.

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Me & Cathy after finishing the Savage 5K in Toledo, OH

My watch was set up to do 80 meter pushes with equal recovery for strides.  But…my watch just beeped at me like after 1 second of running and then settled in to the extra mile I tagged on.  Glad I did that.  But now I was going manual.  Which did help to slow me down some.  I would run for .05 mile and then ease off for the same amount of time.  And I did that close to the 10 times I was supposed to (after the Garmin fuck up), and just pressed the lap button.  My data was already screwed up, but I wanted to give something to my coach to look at.  After I got that last mile…I pressed it in to a strong finish, which happens inside the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl Stadium.  I did a fast 10 miler which finished on a stadium field just like this, so that was sort of fun.  I threw my hands up as I crossed the finish and my name was announced and went to collect my medal and some water.

Now, I was waiting for Cathy to finish her race, but we weren’t allowed to wait in the finisher’s area.  I moved off to the side, just past the finish line, and waited for her, trying not to freeze.  That’s been the worst part about Cathy now doing my races…that I don’t have warm clothing to slide into at the finish right away.

She came across and I snapped pictures and shouted at her.  She was introducing me to the people she ran with for most of the race.  We took some photos, then headed over to get our Commemorative Glass Mug.  She went to go get beer and I went to get official results.  I couldn’t remember my Athlinks login though, so I ended up just looking it up on the RaceJoy app.  Then we went and got snacks, and Cathy got 2 slices of pizza (she got my slice), which she said was actually really good.

And…to my absolute shock…I came in 2nd in my age group.  What the hell?  I wasn’t even trying.  We didn’t know if I’d get my award there or if it would be mailed, and no one else seemed to know either.  Not even at the Race Info booth inside the expo.  I finally asked back by where we picked up our packets and they actually know.  Awards would be mailed.  YAY!  So, that’s something to look forward to!  We walked through the expo one last time, and Cathy thanked the booth who taped her up because she had a good 5K with their help.  And then we made the cold trek back to the car and headed out.

I needed hot coffee…stat.  So, we headed over to Bigbee Coffee (a local chain in Toledo), where I got a Neapolitan Latte with Almond Milk.  It. Was. EVERYTHING.  If you like Neapolitan ice cream…it tastes exactly like THAT!  Holy crap, it might be my new thing in life. Then I ducked over to Kroger to grab some sushi for a quick lunch and picked up some Pop Chips Nutter Puffs.  Cathy grabbed something from the frozen section for a little bite and her favorite Doritos before we paid and headed back to the hotel.

I showered an climbed onto my bed to work up the race reviews that I now owed the blog.  So here it is!!

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Glass City’s Savage 5K Finisher

So, my official results for Glass City’s Savage 5K are that I finished in 24:19, which was way faster than I intended to run it.  But I honestly held myself back.  Craziness.  I was 91/1212 finishers overall.  I was 16/739 female finishers.  And, as I just mentioned above, I squeaked in a 2/96 in my age division!  WOOT!  If nothing else, I can take that away from this race.

I would do this 5K again in a heartbeat, to be honest!  It’s a fantastic course for a fast race.  So, if you love traveling for 5Ks…or live near Toledo…definitely consider this one!  I’ve had my feet up all afternoon and am preparing to head out to a gluten free deli for dinner in a bit before stretching, foam rolling, and prepping for tomorrow’s marathon.  Think happy thoughts for me, please!

Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 22, 2018)

Me heading into the finish line of the 2018 Fast Freddie’s Festive Five-Mile Foot Feast

Race: Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, IN

Date: November 22, 2018

Time: 36:54

Every. Year.

Every. Thanksgiving.

I only missed this race in 2015, which made me sad, but at least I went down to the start to cheer on those taking on this challenging course.

The Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast is my least stressful race of the year because…it happens right outside my door.  In the weeks leading up to race day, I was figuring I would be running with my friends Michelle and Angela, but they decided to not sign up and to go and run their own little sister run that morning, so now I was back to being on my own.  And coming off of two marathons in 27 days, I wasn’t too sure how my legs would hold up if I was actually racing.

But…as you can see…I was only 12 seconds slower than last year’s race.  I count that as a win.  But we’re not there yet.  Let me first vent just slightly about signing up for this year’s race.

So, last year when I placed in my age division (I was third) in what was my fastest Fast Freddie’s race since I’ve been running them, the organizers said that they didn’t have mugs this year and that next year, age group winners would get a free entry to the race.  I love getting mugs and all, but hey…free race entry.  BOOM.  Excited.  So, when the e-mail came out to register for the 2018 race, I sent a message about how to collect on that free entry. I was told that only AGE GROUP WINNERS (those that came in 1st in their perspective age groups), would actually be eligible for that free race entry promised the year before.  I was actually livid…because last year I ran my heart out…I ran fast…and the fastest I ever had on that course…and I didn’t have a mug or a free race entry to show for it.  MEH. I think that’s why it took me to the very last minute to actually register this year, meaning I had to purchase the race shirt separately instead of having it included in the registration.  Oh well.  I mean, the proceeds for this race goes to a fantastic cause, but I was not happy going into this year’s registration.

But I registered.  So…I would definitely race.

The initial plan was to not race this one, as I was just a couple of weeks off of a marathon (Indy Monumental…SO MUCH LOVE!)…so, I had discussed running this with my friends Michelle and Angela…but they opted to not run this year and do their own run earlier that morning.  So…I decided that I would just run this however felt comfortable to me.

The day before Thanksgiving, my parents were coming into town again.  My roomie and I left work and headed over to the 4-H Fairgrounds to get my race bib and purchase a shirt before it got too busy (and being that I missed registration with a shirt, there was no guarantee that they would still have the size I needed).  I got my bib number and went to get the shirt.  That worked out.  I still wasn’t sure how I would tackle the race this year, but at least I had the shirt with my name on the back of it from the previous year’s race (the top 500 finishers get their name on the shirt).

My parents arrived and we all opted to go to Dragon King’s Daughter for some dinner.  We sat in the bar so as not to have to wait for a table…and that worked out just fine.  I got my sushi (which worked some major magic last year), the Green Acres Roll and the Veggie Roll.  And then, after eating, we returned home to start some of the prep for the big meal the following day.  My mom and I prepped dessert and a few other of the side dishes and appetizers before settling in for the evening, putting our feet up, talking, laughing, and watching YouTube videos.

Finally pinned up for the race, since I forgot the bib before heading out.

My alarm went off early on Thanksgiving morning.  I knew it was cold out, but I had no outfit picked out for the race this year.  Nothing.  I was feeling really underprepared and underwhelmed by the whole thing.  I did my stretches until other people began to stir.  Breakfast was served up…some eggs and toast for those not running.  I had my protein shake.  After that, I decided it was time to maybe figure out something to wear. I managed to get dressed in a crazy amount of colors, nothing matching, just in time to head out into the cold morning air and head across the street to get ready for the start of the race.  It was here that I realized that waiting to pick out my outfit was enough of a distraction that I forgot to pin my bib on.  Whoops.  Cathy and I sent my parents on while we hurried back up to the apartment to remedy this issue.

We made one small circuit, sort of just looking for anyone I recognized.  I didn’t see anyone immediately, but people were starting to line up in the streets or do their strides.  So, I went to take a spot near the front. There are A LOT of fast people in this race, but I also know that there is no actual timing mat down at the start of the race, so everyone’s chip gets activated at the same time at the start, so the closer I am to the actual start line, the more accurate my finish time.

Me and my cheer squad! My dad, my mom, and my roommate!

This year, the starting whistle was going to be done by the people who live in the house next to the fairgrounds. Fred, the organizer, said that for YEARS now, runners have trampled through their yard and never once did they ever complain.  So…with that, we got the “Runners Set….” And the whistle blew.

I took off quick, having practiced a bit on the course in the weeks leading into Thanksgiving.  I run this course often as it is challenging, but handy 5 miler right out my front door.  So, I know the hills that slow me down and when I need to conserve energy to tackle them.  Starting off, I always get passed up by a lot of people.  Most notably this year was a woman who was running with a belt that held her bib on around her waist, except it had slid down to just above her knees…and if that was me, I would have to fix it and pull it up, but she just kept going.  I mean, she was running faster than me with it like that…so…I mean…if it works.  I did pass her on a downhill and when she passed me after the turn into the first mile marker, it seemed she had pulled it back up around her waist. I never saw her again.

I always get a traditional picture with Santa at this race! This year, I managed it before I ran.

There were a few people lining Mt. Tabor road as we raced down one side of it.  That is always a nice treat, and usually helps to get me through the rollers that are part of the course at that point.  I made the turn onto Grant Line Road, knowing that once I turned to climb into the park, it would get harder. My legs didn’t feel fresh, but they weren’t heavy either, but I kept pushing them to go…and that got really challenging on that hill to reach Mile 3 in Sam Peden Community Park.  I passed the water stop at the fire house to really just focus on my climb.  The hill is steady, long, but not incredibly steep.  It just feels like one of those hills that keeps going.  And when I run it during training runs, it often means I pause at the top to give myself a pep talk to finish off the run.  No time for the pep talk during the race.  I hit Mile 3, my slowest of the race this year (I think every year), and continued to hit the climbs and downhills that Schell Lane gives runners.  I appreciated the people who were blasting Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” on this road.  That made me smile and continue to press on.

While the downhills are nice, we make just as many climbs heading into Mile 4.  The reward is that once you get up that last steep hill at the end of the road and turn onto Daisy Lane, you get a nice, long downhill.  I let my legs carry me down that hill, noted the time on the clock…I wasn’t too far off the year before…so, I decided to push it as much as I possibly could to the finish line.  One mile to go!

There were some people at the corner of Daisy and Green Valley, and they were blaring Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”  I loved it.  I did what I could to pick it up, playing a bit of back and forth with some runners as we could taste the finish line coming up.  I was elated to make the turn back into the 4-H Fairgrounds.  My parents were ringing cowbells, screaming, and just joining Cathy in all the finish line screaming that she is famous for.  It was great.  I crossed the finish line, feeling like I gave all I could that morning.  Nothing left.  Marathons do that to you…and I was still basically in recovery mode at that point.

My time: an exact match of my 2013 race time…which prior to last year, was my fastest time on the course.  2013 was also when I was pretty much in my best shape ever for running…so this is a win.  For sure.  While results were getting ready to be posted, I went back out to the road to look for and cheer in my friends.  I knew that Kelly, Rosie, Leah, Paul and Melissa were out there, along with other people I knew from the gym, or from just being in the area or previous jobs.  So, I had a blast spotting them, cheering in people as they neared the finish line, and just encouraging people into that final turn.

Paul, Melissa and I after the Fast Freddie’s Festive Five-Mile Foot Feast

Once everyone was in, Cathy went to check results, and my age group got super fast. I was 4th in my age division, so instead of sticking around for awards…we opted to head back to the apartment so I could shower and get working on all the dinner stuff for that afternoon’s feast.

SO…here it is.  My official results of the Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast this year is that I finished in 36:54…matching my finish time from 2013.  No new PR.  No age group award.  But pretty damn proud of that, given that I had just raced a marathon on November 3rd.  The fact that I came anywhere close to last year’s time was…surprising.  HA!  I was I was 105/790 finishers this year.  I was the 20th female to cross the finish line.  And I was 4th in my age division. To be fair…those who came in ahead of me kicked my ass time-wise. Fast race…and fast people in that 35-39 AG for sure. I’m very proud of this finish and happy with how it all came out.  And that’s all I can ask for at the end of the day.  Especially since I had no intention of racing this one this year.