Me fiercely fighting for a strong finish at the Rodes City Run 10K
Race: Rodes City Run 10K
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 9, 2019
Well, there is definitely nothing more satisfying than beating a previous year’s time. Still no 10K PR, but I did way better at this local 10K than the one I attempted to really race in hot, humid Florida a couple of weeks before. Go figure.
I also waited until the very last week to sign up for this race. I had it on my radar, as usual, as it is one of the best races here in Louisville, BUT…that being said, I am also in the heat of marathon training and wasn’t sure I was actually going to race it. My coach, however, said I was. (For the record, he also raced it and averaged a 5:57 average pace). So, I was going into this with expectations of a better performance than my previous 5K. And that was the goal. Run hard…the entire 6.2 miles.
That face you make when you are surprised with being a seeded runner in a local 10K race
That being said, I headed down to Slugger Field on the Friday before the race to pick up my race packet. It was here that I discovered that I was a seeded runner this year and had a low number bib. Oh. Awesome. No pressure then, right? HA! So, I was directed over to the proper table to get my race bib and then went to snag a t-shirt as well. I loved that the shirts this year were purple (GO LouCity), and had a bit of a Mardi Gras flair to them. So, that was awesome.
Headed home to make a one of the cauliflower pizza’s I have in my freezer (Califlour Pizza Crusts, which I top with Trader Joes Greek Yogurt Kale & Spinach Dip, some mushrooms, spinach, and garlic). Friday Pizza Night has sort of become a thing. And these cauliflower crusts are the best out there (and naturally, I can’t get them in any store around here and have to order them online). Totally worth it. It was a late dinner, but perfect. I did my evening stretches, foam rolled, and went to bed early.
Because I had to wake up early enough on race morning to figure out my clothes, stretch, foam roll, and eat prior to race time. It was around 39 degrees at the start of the race, but I didn’t take into account the wind chill, which made it feel like it was in the high 20s. So, the running skirt and tank top with arm warmers was, for the first time in a long time, me being underdressed for a run. Needless to say, I had layers on over my race outfit until close to start time.
A picture of my knees the night before the race
Please note, that SOMETHING in all of my race outfits this year will be pink, to honor my mom as she goes through her treatments for breast cancer. You’re going to see me in a lot of pink.
I was pretty fresh off of busted up knees from a fall I took on some frozen mud near my apartment complex. I mentioned this a lot on Facebook, but not on here, because I’ve been horrible about blogging and need to really get back into the swing of that. My apologies, friends. So, I took a hard belly-flop fall one morning while doing my run. We have had some new construction and roofing going on at my apartment complex and with the weather winging between hot and cold, a pile of mud that is normally not in my path was in my path, and froze solid from the below freezing temps. My left foot caught it one morning and I was DOWN. Just laid out with holes torn into my favorite pair of winter running tights, blood and bruising. It wasn’t pretty. So, that sucked. And now you know the tale of the Legend of the Fall (non-Brad Pitt division). So, I had some twingy, pain every now and again during my runs, but nothing that I was too concerned about. I had this before after I fell in the 5K of Dopey, and it eventually just got better on its own. Just took awhile. And, cold air and banged up knees are not a good combo.
Basically me thinking, “Please don’t make me take off these layers” before race start.
Just prior to starting, Harry and Jo wandered by and got to say HI and wish me luck. Harry said, “Low number! WOW.” He asked about my knees and said that they looked a little bit better than the photo I had posted on Facebook. I think he was being kind. We wished each other luck and I shed my outer layers, even though I didn’t want to yet. My training partner and friend, Christine, found me at this point. She was aiming for a really fast 10K…and I wasn’t sure I could keep up with her…but we gathered together at the start, wished each other luck and awaited go-time.
The elites and seeded were set to go after the wheelchairs, so after the wheelchair racers went, we all crowded together and prepared for our turn. The horn blew and we were off. I felt good in that first mile, comfortable, but running hard down East Broadway. I wasn’t going to check my watch or the clocks on the mile markers the entire race, I was running by feel, and it was supposed to feel hard. My first mile ended up being a 6:51 pace. Fast.
Me heading out with a fast start at the Rodes City Run 10K
But the hill at the beginning of Mile 2 really took me down a peg. Like…majorly. Hills. I need to get more comfortable with them, I just don’t run them enough or often. But I’ll change that eventually. Christine has had some hilly portions in our long runs together, so that at least helped with that. She passed me on the hill (everyone passes me on the uphill) and stayed ahead of me for the rest of the race. I could always JUST see her.
It’s the tilty roads that got me next, but my pace picked back up. There were some rollers in here as far as hills went, but nothing substantial. I just focused on pushing myself hard again. Mile 3 we are on the far side of Cave Hill Cemetery. I was pretty cold, but moving as fast as I could move at that moment. Miles 3 and 4 were in the low 7’s (7:10 and 7:14). Mile 5 was back to feeling really slow and challenging. I don’t think hills were involved, I think my legs were just tired. I can’t say for sure. It’s been a few weeks. But I pressed on, knowing how close I was to the finish. I wasn’t going to give up on myself yet. Squeaked out a 7:26 mile. And then…the final mile was upon us. I made the turn back onto East Broadway and headed back toward where we started (this race now is a loop and not a point-to-point, like it had been for years). I remembered hearing someone behind me say, “Is the start the finish?” It made me smile, but honestly, I could see it and it still felt so far away. And no matter how much I was pushing, I just couldn’t seem to get there. It felt like it never got closer. The final .2 was just me giving my best, and I crossed the finish line, just happy to be done. And knowing I did better than the previous year (which was windy, rainy, and cold AF, to be fair). I got past the photographers and hunched over for a moment to catch my breath. My coach had said to push hard and not focus on the hard miles I was going to have to do the next day…so I did as he said. And it paid off. My final miles were 7:29 and 7:16). New PR? Nope. Not this time. But now I only need to shave an additional 1:30 off to tie it. PROGRESS!
Photo Credit: The Voice Tribune – My biggest cheerleader, my roomie, Cathy at the race…even in the bitter cold.
We had planned on meeting up with Christine post-race for coffee, and we stared to wander our way towards the coffee shop. She found us as we were walking that way, and we eventually ended up at a different coffee shop. A Starbucks. I was fine with it. It was warm inside and the drinks were caffeinated. YAY! We sat around the table and talked and then she and her husband gave us a ride back to our car at Slugger Field (we had made quite the hike to the start line that morning, mind you).
Me crossing the finish at the Rodes City Run 10K
The following day, I knocked out my long run with 2×5 miles in the middle at marathon pace. I was shocked, but happy my body could do it.
So, the official results of the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 45:33. I am chipping away at my times, getting closer to matching or beating that PR time. SO CLOSE! I was 246/2964 finishers overall. I was the 58/1596 women finishers. And I was 12/225 in my age division. Last year I was also 12/225 in my age division. HA! There were over 400 more runners this year though than last year. I’ll take that as a win. And while this wasn’t a distance PR, it was a race PR and a course PR…so that’s also exciting when you think about it!
Me at Magic Kingdom on my last night at Disney World with all my race medals from the Disney Princess Fairy Tale Challenge weekend.
It had been over a year since my last trip to Disney World. It felt like so much longer. And a few things were changing this time around. After the bathroom incident during the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, we actually decided to move our “Disney home” from Port Orleans Riverside to…The Art of Animation Resort. It is a “step down” from the resort level of Port Orleans, which, this princess was fussing over, but it wasn’t bad. And, honestly, I’m only in the room to sleep. But still…I sort of did miss the extra space, especially when I was trying to foam roll at night AND watch Food Network at the same time (priorities).
The trip to Orlando meant an early morning to catch the first non-stop flight out of Louisville. This just happened to be on a very wet, rainy, cold morning. Hauling luggage out to the car was not fun, but we got everything loaded in and hit the road. We parked the car (we couldn’t find someone to give us a ride, so we had to pay to leave the car there while we were away) and went in to check our bags (one of the perks of flying Southwest is the free checked bags) and get through security. It didn’t take long to get through that at all, and nothing flagged for the first time in the history of ever. Not even the laptop. I don’t know why I bring my laptop with me. I have good intentions of using it…and then I rarely do. What I didn’t realize was, bringing it this time would be a blessing. More on that later.
Cathy & Me killing time at Louisville Airport before our flight
The flight was uneventful, and we landed in beautiful Orlando to temps in the 70s. LOVE! Our first stop was a nearby Whole Foods. We were going to grab snacks for the resort, and ended up grabbing lunch there as well. I found a Summer Veggie Roll that had a Gluten Free Peanut Sauce with it…so I was quite happy with that selection. I grabbed a tub of watermelon and a Sumo orange as well (which I saved for later). And, of course, water…because I needed to stay hydrated. Cathy snagged a small cup of the Lobster Chowder (she has missed that selection in Louisville), some small cornbread muffins, and a small helping of fried rice and Vietnamese-style chicken.
My Whole Foods lunch
After we ate, we decided that since we still had no word of our room at the resort being ready, we would use the bathroom at the Whole Foods and change into our sundresses and lather up with the sunscreen so we could head over to the parks. We had Animal Kingdom on the schedule. This turned out to be more of a hassle than it was worth, honestly. Cathy had to make multiple trips out to the car to get things out of suitcases and we were taking turns running into the bathroom to change and then slather on the sunscreen. It took way longer than it should have.
BUT…we finally considered ourselves ready for the parks and hopped back into the car and drove to the resort to drop off luggage. We made sure we had our necessary items and headed to the bus stop to get over to Animal Kingdom.
Me at Animal Kingdom
I was so happy to be back at Disney…and the weather was truly stunning!! Our first stop is our favorite place to get Iced Coffee. There was definitely more of a line there than we were used to…especially on a Wednesday, but we waited, placed our order, wasn’t sure which one was mocha and which was vanilla…but we got that sorted ourselves. We drank them as we killed time ducking into shops and the like…before we hit up our FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. I love doing the safari, and our guide was awesome (they are, but she was really fantastic) and the animals…they were really active and on the move. It was probably the most animals and the most activity from the animals I have seen on any trip on the Safari. As we exited, we branched off to the Gorilla walk. I wasn’t happy when we had to walk through the birds. I. Do. Not. Like. Birds.
Me & Cathy with Scrooge McDuck!
We went to grab a quick snack to tide us over to our later dinner reservation…Cathy’s traditional fries. I ate my Sumo orange. And then, as we wandered around, we came across Scrooge McDuck. His line handler, Caitlyn, was amazing. She was so much fun to talk to while we were standing in line. And this was my first time meeting any of the Duck Tales characters. Scrooge was a lot of fun, and Cathy kept trying to get him to go out for an alcoholic drink, but he was strict about his tea. And then we hopped on over to meet Launchpad McQuack next. I told him that I was really good at crashing too. HA! It was fun and we had some great photo ops!
Cathy & Me with Launchpad McQuack!
But then we saw the most amazing addition to Animal Kingdom…KEVIN. Kevin from UP. If you haven’t seen this in person, get to Animal Kingdom NOW. Just book your flight and do it! Kevin is phenomenal. And fun. And SO animated. This encounter spurred an early purchase for Cathy’s traditional Disney plushie purchase – Kevin!
We took a stroll through Pandora and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon wandering and exploring. But our time for our traditional first day at Disney meal was growing near and we hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy some food at Sanaa. We didn’t have to wait long to be seated and we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to eat. Our server was a trainee and he did an awesome job. We both got something to drink with our water, Cathy got the Savannah Cider and I got the lemonade that came with a wildberry foam of some sort. I don’t remember the really cool name that it had…but it was delicious.
We started with the bread service, of which I got three pieces of the gluten-free bread and Cathy got two of the regular naan. We split one of the GF ones and we were off to the races with the different sauces, Cathy being very careful when she would spoon her sauce to not contaminate anything. This is one of my favorite things at Sanaa. For our meals, I went with the Chickpea Wat and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables, which is served with scented Basmati Rice. It’s my go-to every time I am there. Cathy stayed with her favorite offering in the entrees, the Traditional Sosatie, which is Braai Lamb with Apricots, Pap, Spinach, Cashews, and Goat Cheese. It was all very filling and delicious.
Gluten Free Bread Service at Sanaa
Chickpea Wat, Rice, and Cilantro Coconut Vegetables
After eating, we hopped on a bus to head back to Animal Kingdom to catch the bus back to the Art of Animation. We had our room number now and went there to find our bags already in there and ready for us to settle in for the night. I took a quick shower, went to foam roll and we settled in for the night. I set an alarm for me to wake up to because I had a training run to get through before we started our morning.
It’s always an adventure running around The Art of Animation!
And that’s what I did. I forgot how hard it is to run in humidity, which would be a theme for this half marathon weekend for sure. The resort had a great running path around a lake, which was perfect for me to train on. Keeping an easy pace wasn’t hard in the heat/humidity. I finished that off with some strides, returned to the resort, showered, and we went to the dining area at the resort to find something for breakfast. That was a high anxiety and high stress situation and we vowed that would be the ONLY time we did that. Cathy went to order me a gluten free and dairy free omlette, with mushrooms, jalapenos and spinach for me. And since I couldn’t have the biscuit, the chef tossed some fresh fruit onto my plate. It was perfect. We ate and then headed out to the car to head to the Wide World of Sports for…the race expo. It was on the ride over there that my Garmin flashed me a “Sensor Error.” Not sure what it meant, I started to try to figure ito out. It was that the sensor…the thing that actually reads elevation and heart rate and all that stuff, was no longer working. I figured I could, hopefully, talk to the Garmin reps at the expo and maybe get it sorted.
Gluten Free Omlette with Mushrooms, Jalapenos, Spinach…and FRUIT!
After all these years, we finally figured out the key to getting official merchandise…turn up at the expo on the first day, go straight to official merch and wait in line. The wait wasn’t that bad and we made friends with the people around us. The line moved pretty swiftly once they started letting us all in…even if at one point it was like all lines went out the window and there was this huge surge toward the front of the line. But we got in and started to shop. I bought WAY MORE than I intended to, but they had Disney Princess Weekend ears that both Cathy and I snagged, plus I needed pins for each race. I fell in love with a wine glass (of course I did) and then all the cute clothes. I had a lot of things I LOVED…but ended up getting the official challenge zip-up. And then Cathy found a cute dress thing that is actually a cover-up for before/after races. Love that. So…over $260 later, I was ready to head over to get my race bibs and then hit up the actual expo.
Official Merchandise Line upon our arrival!
The bibs were easy. This was Cathy’s first time obtaining a Disney race bib. Did I mention that she was doing her first Disney 5K?! Pretty exciting. Our numbers were a good distance apart, so I left her to get hers while I went over to pick up mine. She found me there and the guy was commenting on how I was one of the fast ones…and I said I was dropping back to Cathy’s corral, and he asked her if she was offended by me saying that I was “dropping back” and Cathy said, “NO. Not at all. Because she is definitely not going at her normal speed with me.” From there, we headed over to the actual race expo to get our race shirts and then do some shopping. Which, we didn’t really do. I was upset that there was no Garmin booth there (I mean…HELLO) but remembered that Misfit was the official activity tracker of Disney races. So…I was stuck with a broken watch for my races. Joy and happiness. UGH. That really got me riled up and I didn’t want to spend any time there…but we did make the traditional stop by Bondi Band, where we found two headbands that would work for me. One for my 10K costume…and one for training (for the record…it says “The Before Breakfast Club.” HA!) It was as we were leaving the expo that our friend, Melissa, texted us to let us know that Peter Tork (if you know me, you know of my obsession with The Monkees) had died. And I legit cried right there in the expo. After a few deep breaths, we headed out to start our day at…Magic Kingdom (aka: my favorite park).
Getting my 5K Bib
We had FastPasses for Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train spread out throughout the day. But Haunted Mansion was our first stop, and the FastPass line was INSANE. But it thankfully moved quickly. This is Cathy’s favorite ride by far. We hit up Space Mountain soon after that. And then got Dole Whip (required). We shopped. We walked around. We made our way through the Mine Train queue (also INSANE) and were put in the very back of the coaster. And then…dinner. We went to Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, which our friends Melissa & Paul introduced us to a year ago during Dopey, and we fell in love with the food and the atmosphere. I already knew what I was getting and told Cathy she had to have it too. But first…an appetizer. We split the Falls Family Falafel. And then…for our entrees…the Perkins Thai Noodles (gluten-free and minus the chicken to make it vegan), which is THE BEST thing I have ever eaten on Disney property. For real. Cathy now understood because when she got this last time, she had the flu and couldn’t taste any flavors. We had leftovers, so we boxed those up and headed out, back to the resort, stored those in the fridge and decided they would be post-10K breakfast in a couple days.
Gluten Free Falls Family Falafel
Gluten Free Perkins Thai Noodles
Showers and foam rolling commenced and we turned it in, with me setting an early 2:20 am alarm for us to get up and get dressed and ready for the first race of the weekend: the Disney Princess 5K.
Cathy & Me showing off our Disney Princess 5K Medals!
Disney Princess 5K
Race: Disney Princess 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 22, 2018
The most difficult part of any Disney race weekend is those early morning wake-up calls. Today was probably the least stressful of the three, but instead of just me getting ready, Cathy had to get costumed up as well. Sadly, my original costume, Iron Man, didn’t get assembled in time (I ordered a shirt from I Am A Superhero Fitness Apparel, DO NOT EVER DO THIS…their customer service is the worst, and it wasn’t a match with the leggings, so I contacted them to send it back and get a replacement in time for the race, and never heard from them…at all…after getting the info to return everything…and never received the replacement in time), so I had to break out my Wonder Woman costume for this one. Iron Man, part of the Marvel Universe, owned by Disney, would have worked better…but it is what it is. Cathy, however, was ready to rock her Captain America outfit. And she rocked it. Trust me. She even had light-up Captain America Mickey Mouse ears that our friends, Melissa & Paul, brought back from Disneyland Paris. We finished getting ready and headed out of the room to get to the bus that would take us to the parking lot of Epcot, where the staging area is prior to the race.
Cathy in her Captain America costume for the Disney Princess 5K
We disembarked and walked through security (no bag line…WOOT) and went to see what characters we could get our photos taken with. We managed to hit up Tiana (one of my personal favorite princesses) and Merida. Then we opted to head into the corral area and get to Corral C. We had a long wait being in that corral, so we took a seat and watched the different videos running on the big screen and the earlier corrals parading over to the start line. Cathy pointed out that there were plenty of “overly optimistic” people in those earlier corrals. While the Disney 5K is officially untimed, we both made sure we had our Garmin watches primed and ready for our start. Before we knew it, it was our turn to make the march toward the start line…and it took a few waves, but we got our fireworks and we were off.
Me as Wonder Woman (not the planned Iron Man) for the Disney Princess 5K
Except I was off at my speed and Cathy immediately said, “I don’t go that fast.” HA!! So, I fell back and got moving with Cathy, who proved to be a pro at the Disney cuts through the crowds. I also don’t know how she wasn’t dying in long sleeves and long leggings, but she was holding her own. I did get ahead of her a few times, but immediately would fall back to her side. The morning was humid and warm…the low 70s with humidity in the 90s. MEH. So, honestly, how she wasn’t dying, I will never know. That being said, in that sort of humidity, she did get a bit of a side-stich so we switched to the Galloway Method (run/walk) so that she could have some recovery time. This proved to be a fantastic option, as she walks faster than she runs. Honestly. When we hit the construction workers, she even heckled them right back. Because, that’s Cathy for you.
I would give her little pep-talks, and we ducked into the World Showcase, which now meant we were tackling some hills. It was crowded, but it wasn’t phasing her. I let her choose her walk segments, where it was hard for ME to keep up with her at times. But I made her run the downhills because downhills are my favorite speed. We ducked out of the Showcase and then back in and started to make our way toward Spaceship Earth…which meant we were getting close to the finish. We do have to make this strange turn around thing before heading to the exit. We rounded the corner, and I could see our finish line. I reached back to her to take her hand and we headed toward the finish line. She kept reminding me that my go was a different speed from hers. But, we crossed the finish line! It was awesome. And our official 5K distance was a new PR for Cathy, where she clocked in at 46:26, beating her previous PR by well over a minute. We received our medals and made our way out to get official photos and then get the snack boxes and head back to the resort. We took our turns showering, changing, and snacking before we headed out to spend the rest of the day at Epcot!
We did lots of character stops that day, Pluto, Baymax, Ralph & Vanellope, Elsa, Ana. The Festival of the Arts was going on, so there were plenty of food booths happening. And Cathy decided to forgo her beloved schwarma once again and eat around the world. I already knew my big meal of the day was going to be a Beyond Meat Burger at the Liberty Inn with Celiac-safe fries. I was really looking forward to that.
Cathy & Me with Baymax
Ralph, Cathy, Me & Vanellope
Cathy & Me with Elsa
Me & Cathy with Ana
After we completed our time at Epcot, we headed to Disney Springs and hiked over to Erin McKenna’s to get some gluten-free and vegan goodies. We ended up with a box of delicious baked goodies and then headed back to the Art of Animation to clean up, get things prepped for another early morning, let me foam roll, watch Food Network, and get some rest.
Me dressed as Zootopia’s Judy Hopps for the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Race: Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 23, 2019
Once again, another race this trip where I didn’t get to wear the outfit I originally intended to wear. My original plan was to dress up like Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. I couldn’t find the material to have my friend or my mom work up an actual costume for me (everything was either the wrong type of fabric or not close to the correct color). So…I put it up for a vote on my social media as to which costume I should revisit for the 10K…Vanellope von Schweetz (Wreck it Ralph) or Judy Hopps (Zootopia). Between Instagram and Facebook…Judy Hopps won it going away.
Cathy has a new RunDisney race shirt…and her awesome sign!
This just happened to also be the race that my coach, Daniel, wanted me to really push myself on and race. No problem. Save for the 74 degree morning temperature and the 95% humidity. I knew in this costume I would die racing, but, dammit, that was what I was there to do. So, with a bunch of layers on top, a carrot recorder, a ZPD badge, and a full hair extension piece over the top of my head to make the “bunny ears”…I was as ready as I could be to race this 10K.
Once again, we headed out of the room to get to the bus and settle in for the drive over to the staging area again. We didn’t spend time getting Princess pictures ahead of time this time around. Instead, we went to scope out the spectator area for Cathy. We were stopped by some volunteers and told that it wasn’t open yet. Apparently, according to Cathy, it’s very much like rope drop at one of the parks…pure stampede and elbows thrown to get a spot. She didn’t want to end up not able to see me on the 10K start so, I went to stand in the group waiting to get into the corrals…and soon were let in. I immediately went over to the tables and got some water to attempt to get ahead on hydration. This was one of the few times I raced a 10K with a hydration belt, mostly because I needed it as Judy’s utility belt, but with the heat, I was happy to have a steady source of water if needed.
Me at the start of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was in Corral A for the rest of the challenge weekend, so I wasn’t going to be waiting around for long. I did get into the corral early and moved toward the front before carefully taking a seat (my costume involves a bunny tail…so…yeah). I wasn’t going to waste any energy standing up though. NOPE. I wanted to really give my best to the race itself. And before you knew it…I was heading out of the corral and lining up for the 10K. I was in the second wave to go off…and Cathy actually did manage to catch me as I headed out.
The first part of the 10K is pretty dull. It’s a lot of road. As I started out hard, I passed a group of runners that were staying together and heard one of them say, “I guess she’s not stopping for photo ops.” It made me laugh. Not today. Not this race. This was the one I was supposed to give my all in. At about the second mile, we get sent up a ramp, the biggest hill we face in this race, but I felt strong as I powered up it, giving a mental thanks to my friend Christine, who has been training with me and having us do more hills than I like on our runs. I wasn’t going to look at my splits, but I felt like I was moving fast and strong.
At about Mile 3.5, we duck into the World Showcase (FINALLY) and run around about half of it. This is where it gets fun, because they really do up the park nicely with employees out their cheering, music blaring, and the atmosphere is just different from the road miles. I got a few shout-outs from the employees with “GO JUDY.” I pumped my arm in the air in response. We are directed out of the showcase and are directed toward the Boardwalk. I hate running on the Boardwalk because it can be slippery at times (they actually have an announcement about this as you approach the actual boardwalk). I traversed it safely, yet cautiously, and transitioned back to the pavement, feeling like I was picking it back up.
Runners take the roads back into Epcot, hitting the actual park this time. I got a few more Judy Hopps shout outs and was loving it. I poured a cup of water over my head at one of the water stops and learned that that was a HUGE mistake…because my long hair extensions were now sticking to my arms and driving me crazy. How people who have really long hair and keep it down when they run manage it, I will never know.
I love every race that ends in Epcot because you get to run the light-up path around Spaceship Earth. It’s beautiful when it’s still dark out. I pushed up and around, and worked my way to the park exit, where they send you past some blaring music and toward that finish line.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was so happy to see the finish and as I was running toward it, heard my name announced and everything. As I got closer, I could hear someone approaching from behind, and used my best Kelsie kick (she is WAY better at it than me) to stay ahead of that person and cross with my hands up in the air for victory. I stopped my watch and was SHOCKED when I saw a 48 at the front of my time. I really pushed hard in that race…and didn’t want to feel disappointed by my time…but I felt disappointed by my time and that I really probably could have pushed it a little more and much harder. But I had given my all in the end…the heat and humidity had just taken its toll.
I met up with Cathy at the runner’s reunion area, after having her shout “Hey Fluffbutt” over the wall at me after I got my medal, my snack box, my water, and my official photo taken. I actually did this twice and was glad I did, because the first one was awful. Sometimes you just know. Lines for the princesses weren’t long, so we hopped in to get photos with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Elena, and Cinderella. Cinderella said that she bet Judy Hopps could teach her mice a little more discipline. God, I love meeting Disney characters.
Post-10K race with Sleeping Beauty
Post-10K race with Elena
Post 10K race with Cinderella
We hopped on the bus to head back to the Art of Animation resort where I showered, changed, and then ate cold leftover noodles from Skippers and split one of the GF and Vegan Donuts we got from Erin McKenna’s with Cathy. And then…we were off to spend the day at Hollywood Studios, where I rode Tower of Terror twice, got on Star Tours twice (one time I was FINALLY the spy), checked out the new Toy Story Land, I had my best game ever on the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin (I came CLOSE to Cathy’s score. Usually I suck). And then, we departed Hollywood Studios to head out of the Disney World bubble and hit up Toasted, a gourmet Toasted Cheese place in Orlando. They have Celiac-safe options, vegan options, and safe Rosemary & Truffle Fries. HELLO!! This seemed to be the best pre-half marathon option for me and it was worth the drive (even though then we were informed that they now had a location very close to Disney World). Then…back to the hotel to rotate through showers, foam rolling, Food Network (you know the drill). And then…rest. The half marathon was all that was left.
Oh, but let’s not forget…my official results of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K were that I finished in 48:49. I was 97/12,274 finishers overall. I was 44/10,466 female finishers. And I was 8/1549 people in my age division. So, I mean, it was a really good finish…but I knew I could do better. I wasn’t going to let it disappoint me. I felt like I gave my all that morning.
Ready to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon as Snow White!
Disney Pincess Half Marathon
Race: Disney Princess Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 24, 2019
Final day of early morning 2:20 am wake-up alarms. When you get to the last race in the race series, you are pretty much ready for said series to be over. I was pretty excited about the half marathon because I was given no pace goals, simply to treat it as a training run. My race was the prior day…on the 10K. I love having a no stress race, especially at Disney.
My costume was much easier to get into, so getting ready was a breeze. My nieces (Kaytlynn & Baileigh), decided that I should dress up like Snow White for the half marathon. And thus, my mom created a new top (my old Snow White top was pretty much dead after the Dopey Marathon in 2014), and Snow White was running again. It was another hot and humid morning, but there was a bit of a breeze this time. And that was helpful for sure. Cathy and I headed out to catch the bus right on time, and made it to Epcot without any issues. YAY!! And I had plenty of time to meet up with people I was hoping to meet up with. BONUS!
Meeting up with Tarra before the race!
The problem was, I was the only person from my local MRTT/SRTT group that was in Corral A. The rest were in Corral F and starting later. Meaning…they weren’t going to arrive until later. Stephanie, a friend I met through Instagram, was running as well, but she was in traffic and Corral A was needing to get loaded in. My friend Janelle attempted to find me, but apparently I had already made it to the corral. She was in A…but we never did find each other. BUT…all that being said, I did manage to get hugs, greetings, photos, and some catch-up talk time with a friend of mine from my Elementary/Middle/High School days…who was on my softball team and everything – Tarra. So that was amazing. She and her husband were running the half and we had hoped we would be able to catch up with each other prior to the race. It was the only meet-up that happened for me.
We eventually parted ways and I knew I needed to start making that spectacularly long hike from the staging area to the corrals. It’s a great warm-up and…I didn’t need to sprint it like I did for the marathon during Dopey 2018. Corral A is a bit of a bear to get to though…all the way up and a bit of off-roading. But I got there, got inside, moved up to where I wanted to be, and took a seat. I had a bit of time before things kicked off and I didn’t want to be standing the entire time.
Cathy’s view of Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom
But, soon they were preparing to send the wheelchair racers off. And then…the waves for Corral A. I was in the 2nd wave to take off. The fireworks went off and we were on our way, taking on the dark highway of Disney World, making our way toward Magic Kingdom. It’s a lot of road, a lot of screens and character stops, and a lot of just knowing what awaits you on Main Street inside Magic Kingdom. I didn’t make characters tops, although the lines are never long for me. I wanted to really treat this as a true training run, my only caveat being that I would walk every water stop. I wanted to stay on top of my hydration as the race went on because I hadn’t been running in heat and humidity. It was 20 and below back in Indiana. Around Mile 3-ish, I think, I saw the monorail wing by. I actually wondered if Cathy was on that one, as she skipped the race start to hopefully catch me on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. She has attempted to do this twice before, and I have always beat her to the castle. She said that is the one downside to cheering on a “fast” runner.
Cathy found a prime viewing spot inside Magic Kingdom
I ticked off those highway miles and made it to Magic Kingdom. This is, by far, the best part of this race. You duck inside and make the turn onto Main Street. The crowd is amazing. This is the best part of any Disney race that sends you through Magic Kingdom. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the screaming and waving crowd, there was Cathy! She had a sign, a cowbell, and was filming me as I made my way up Main Street. I gave a wave as I went by and then made the turn to go into Tomorrowland. From there, runners cruise through Fantastyland, then through the castle, before exiting through Liberty Square and out through Frontierland. It’s the best part of the race. I always look forward to the dash through the castle itself and the photographers stationed on the winding path down towards Liberty Square. It’s amazing. But then the cheers and lights fade and you find yourself back out on the roads, making your way back toward Epcot.
There is a lot of highway on this course, but Disney does it’s best with characters and DJs and music. And every mile marker has a different character and a theme song on it, so it is something to look forward to. After Magic Kingdom, you’re halfway through the race.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
The best part, for me, after that is the Green Army Guy, the ones from Toy Story, that is stationed on a hill around Mile 10. You often here him shouting at the runners to get up the hill and other motivation. As I was nearing him, he shouted, “I want to hear you make some noise.” And none of the runners around me did anything. But I’m a good group exercise veteran and I went, “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” And he ran with it. I got a whole call-out just for me. “That’s right Snow White! That’s right, Snow. You’re going to find your finish line. You’re not going to be Grumpy or Sleepy. You won’t feel Dopey. You’ll feel Happy when you cross that finish line. Go get it, Snow! Don’t be Bashful.” It was amazing!!
At Mile 11, I spotted the infamous Balloon Ladies on the opposite side of the course. There were a lot of people darting back and forth over the road as there were port-o-potties on our side of the course. I noticed, later, that these runners were just at Mile 1 at this point. And I was 2 miles away from being done. Crazy!
Just after crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
At Mile 12, we were directed back into Epcot to make the dash through to get to Spaceship Earth. I love this part of the race. Right as I was coming up toward it, one of the volunteers closed one side and directed me and another woman the opposite way. They do this to help with the flow of traffic. The woman I was running with was like, “Why did they do that?” So I tried to explain while running with her. We made another turn and she said, “We have to be close to being done.” I told her we were going to round a corner, run past a gospel choir, then make another turn and she should see the finish line. And then I said, “Go get it!”
My favorite part of any half at Disney World is that gospel choir before the finish line. It is just such a mood lifter. You just feel good. I mad the turn and started down the path toward the finish line. And I crossed it, feeling really relieved to be done. Another hot Florida race complete. I spotted Cathy up in the stands and waved as I walked to go get my medal. As I made my way through the line, I had to veer off to pick up the challenge medal as well. They take a picture of you with your bib at the expo…so they have volunteers who check every challenge participant before letting them through to get the challenge medal. I snagged a snack box from the guy on the very end who said “We have the best bananas over here.” HA! And then I went to get my official photo done.
Heather & I post-race!
Afterwards, I exited through bag check and found Cathy. She said that lines weren’t too bad for characters, so we decided to get in line for some. On the way, I spotted Heather Shultz, and had to go say HI to her. She ended up coming to stand in line for some princess shots with us. It was nice to get to talk to someone I cheer on through social media so much. We had gotten in line to meet Pocahontas, but right when we got up there, they switched her out for Merida. Oh well. We took the photo op anyway. We also got photos with Mulan and with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) before we decided to hop on a bus back to the resort so I could get cleaned up and we could head out to Port Orleans French Quarter to get some celebratory Gluten Free Beignets (they took over an hour and that’s another long and rambling story that I won’t get into here, but I was PISSED).
Me with Merida
Me & Cathy with Mulan
Me with Aurora
Anyway, my official time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon was that I finished in 1:45:24. Not bad for walking those water stops (and I walked EVERY one). I was 176/20,088 finishers overall. I was 89/17,099 female finishers. And I was 14/2665 people in my age division. Not half bad for a training run, eh?! I was quite happy with it.
So, another Disney race weekend and challenge in the books. I hadn’t done the Disney Princess Half Marathon since 2013, so it was nice to return to it. And, with the water stop walks I made myself take, I almost tied my time from 2013 (it was 1:45:06). So…yeah. I love coming to Disney to run and while Disney Princess seems to be one of the more popular races of the ones offered, I was so happy that I came back to it. Next time, I hopefully won’t wait 6 years to come back.
Me heading into the finish line of the CNO Financial Monumental Marathon – Indianapolis, IN
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 3, 2018
“Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.” ~ Samuel Beckett
I admit it. The results of the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon were a hard pill to swallow. In all honesty, I had hoped that my training, regardless of changing plans and going solo on it all…making it all up as I went, catching up on miles I didn’t get to run to build up that marathon base…I really thought it would be enough. I didn’t feel like I was in marathon shape. But I felt confident.
And, as we know…I crashed and burned soon after the 14 mile mark. I finished. But not with a time I was happy with.
Moral of the story. Do NOT ever leave me along with an upcoming half marathon with the option to upgrade to the full marathon when I’m pissed off with my previous marathon performance. Less than one month apart. 27 days apart, to be exact. Because, I figured, hell, I was already in “marathon shape”…might as well try again with a different plan of action. So, it happened. I upgraded my registration to the full marathon (trust me, I was starting to doubt the wisdom of this the morning of the race, but I’ll get there, LOL!) and then…didn’t really broadcast it anywhere. I told my training partner, Lauren. My roommate, of course, knew. And a couple of people at the gym who asked me what was next for me knew…but no one else. Not. A. Word.
My plan for the days in between? Recovery. Easy runs. Not a ton of miles. Just easy, training runs. I did maybe 3 speed intervals…all of only 4 miles. My longest long run was 10 miles…last weekend. Slow and steady with Lauren who took me on an adventure and kept the pace right where I wanted and needed it. Some people like to pile on those miles and brag about weekly and monthly totals. I have never been that sort. And, honestly, it is a rare thing for me to ever hit 200 miles in a month, even during marathon training. There is training and there is overtraining. One of these benefits you. The other leads to injury, burnout, and a plethora of other issues. Just like pace, I don’t usually post my miles or mileage either. Honestly, who cares other than me?
Deep breath. Let’s start with the day before the race.
Thursday night was filled with packing and not trying to overthink anything. Cathy picked out my outfit…she packed recovery wear, shoes, race gear, fuel, etc. Everything I would need for another 26.2. I made her pack capris because I was nervous it would be too cold at the start of the race for the running skirt she had picked. She allowed for that…but nothing more. We went to work as usual on Friday, planning to leave around 2 pm to make the drive up to Indianapolis.
I made certain that I got as much work done that I could in the time I was in the office. Lunch was just a giant salad, made from all the fresh ingredients/produce that I had lingering in my fridge heading into the weekend. We packed up, brought bottles of water that had our Nuun Immunity Tablets in them. If you haven’t tried them…HIGHLY recommended! And we hit the road, with our mid-day snacks to get us through the drive and the expo before heading to dinner.
We hit a small amount of traffic on the way, but we made it to the Omni Severin Hotel, in downtown Indianapolis. Honestly, if you’re looking for a hotel in downtown Indy…STAY HERE!! I was blown away by the hospitality, even if they didn’t do late checkouts due to it being an event weekend (I get it…but after a marathon, I usually appreciate a hot shower). They did say that they had a fitness center with a shower and if I needed one I could get a key made to get in there and shower. So…I mean…there was that. Our luggage was taken up to our room by the nicest guy, Matt, who gave us the rundown about the hotel and the history behind it. He showed us the amenities in the room and made sure we had plans for dinner because otherwise the hotel was doing a pasta dinner for the runners. Honestly, I’ve never felt so welcome at a hotel.
Cathy at her first major packet pickup for the Monumental 5K
Next stop…the expo. We took the inside path through the hotel and Circle Center Mall to get ourselves over to the Indianapolis Expo Center. Some roads were going to be closed because Trump and Pence were in town (BARF!), but it wasn’t affecting us. We had a work-around. The Expo felt a lot smaller this year than it was last year. We got there, and immediately collected posters and headed to the back to get race packets and shirts. YES…that’s plural. Since I upgraded to the full, Cathy decided she could do the 5K, as it started AFTER the full and half marathons were sent off. Had I stuck with the half, she wouldn’t have done it otherwise she’d miss my finish.
We stopped at the 5K booths first and Cathy did her first ever official big race 5K packet pickup. She had to show her ID and everything. The volunteers at her table were SO fun and very cool. They even had thrown safety pins into her bag. It was awesome.
Cathy and Me with our race numbers for the next morning.
After she got her stuff…we headed over to the marathon tables where I collected my shirt and bib and we went straight into Official Merchandise. Where I spent more money. This time only on a lapel pin and a jacket. The jacket is SUPER nice though. I could have spent SO MUCH more. HA! We made our walk through the vendors and races that were represented at the expo. Cathy had forgotten a BondiBand to keep her ears warm, so we had to go and get her one of those. She found one…bright pink…that says, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Just like the button she has worn since NYC. I spotted a different flavor of Gluten Free Honey Stinger Stroopwafels (I can only ever find Salted Caramel…which is GOOD…but I know there are other flavors out there…and I found a Vanilla & Chocolate one!). But we wrapped it up quickly, stopping to find my name on the poster and then take a few pictures with the banners. A volunteer was kind enough to get a lot of these photos for us, from every angle.
From there, we made the trek back to the hotel room. We had about 30 minutes to kill before dinner, so Cathy went ahead and tried on her race shirt to get my opinion on the fit. I decided I should do the same, and thank GOD I did. Turns out, the volunteers at my end of the table gave me a men’s small and not a women’s small. I was NOT happy. With 20 minutes to get to our dinner reservation, we packed up the shirt and stepped outside to take a quicker route to the convention center in hopes of changing it out. I booked it down the hall and back into the expo to the shirt exchange area and snagged my women’s small. Whew! Cathy was waiting in the hall outside. We had about 5 minutes to make a 10 minute walk to our dinner reservation at Napolese. Honestly, whenever we are in town for a race, this is our go-to restaurant. I mean…GLUTEN FREE FOCACCIA AND GLUTEN FREE PIZZA!!
Napolese’s Gluten Free Focaccia
I apologized to the hostess for being late and told her we had a 5:45 reservation. Our table was still there though, next to two very loud men who were drinking a lot and talking REALLY LOUD about Queen and movies and games and whatever. I was over it. Thank God they left while we were eating our appetizer.
We had already had plans on what we were going to do for eats that night. I looked at the menu on the way up so we could formulate a plan. So when our waiter came over, we got glasses of water and put in our order. Gluten Free Focaccia (no dairy) and then we were going to Freestyle our pizza and do a Gluten Free Pizza topped with the Housemade Tomato Sauce, Winter Squash, Mushrooms, and Duck Eggs. He asked if the gluten-free was an allergy and made note that it was for a Celiac on the ticket. And also made note of the NO DAIRY preference as well. They are VERY efficient there. And trust me…the food is amazing too.
The focaccia came out first…olive oil, garlic, parsley. SO GOOD. And as we were polishing that off, the pizza came out. But it was missing…the duck eggs. Cathy pointed it out and he apologized and took it back. He returned with a little thing of olive oil to go with the pizza if we wanted to add it and said that he took the pizza before they had cooked up the eggs and it would be up momentarily. And we didn’t really have a long wait before it was returning to our table. Looking SO good. And even with polishing off the focaccia…I was ready to eat. We polished off the pizza and took his advice, adding the olive oil…and it was light and fruity and just added a whole new level of deliciousness to the slices. BIG FAN. We finished eating and were given the bill, where they didn’t charge us for the duck eggs (that was sweet…but they didn’t need to do that). We left a big tip, because or waiter was awesome. Then headed to CVS to pick up some waters for the next morning, and then hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for a pin. Mind you…I was not wanting to be on my feet much this time around. But, we were never far from the hotel and we were back into the hotel by 7:30-ish. Cathy went to shower. I got out all my race gear and laid it out and then started my foam rolling because I was determined to do that the night before the race. As I was doing that, there was a knock at the door. It was housekeeping delivering a bottle of water, some ice, and a card. It was from the hotel. Super sweet gesture. I knew it would all come in handy. We finished up an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…and then…
Lights out…9 pm. On the nose.
I woke up a couple of times during the night…like my usual wakeup time of 3 am. At 4
Cathy’s complimentary drink tray that morning – orange juice and coffee!
am, my first alarm went off so I could take a pill and use the bathroom. Back to bed for 2 restless hours. At 6 am…we were both up and starting our morning routine. I popped open a Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Matcha Happiness Ambition Bar. I ate one before I ran the Monumental Half Marathon last year. Why not do it again? I prepped my pre-race drink and started to slowly get dressed. At 6:15 am, Cathy’s free orange juice and coffee arrived outside the door. We got up at 6 am so we could have a more relaxed moment and this gave her the chance to eat her Clif Bar and drink some coffee and juice as she does most mornings. Including in her own training.
I finished getting ready, and this included slathering on some sunscreen because…it was going to be a sunny day that morning and I refuse to be the person with a sunburn in November. I was wearing two different color CEP sleeves, my Injinji toe socks, my Newton Distance IIIs, a black running skirt, my Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon singlet, red arm warmers, and a red BondiBand that said “Breathe.” I had some pajama bottoms to toss away prior to the race and a halfzip that I bought in a child’s size a long time ago that I was okay parting with. I put my Nuun Energy into two of my bottles and water into the other two bottles and put my fuel belt on. I put my new nutrition (tested once) into the front zip pouch and called myself ready. Cathy ended up putting on a second layer on top and then we headed down to the lobby. They had water and bananas out for the runners. I usually eat a banana before a marathon so…I snagged one. We ran into people from Louisville that we didn’t know, but I spotted his Chicago Marathon t-shirt and said I had run it too, but he was smarter than me this morning since he was only doing the half. We had a good laugh over that.
Race outfit for the marathon – minus the arm warmers, which got put on soon after.
And after they moved on…I started to have a small meltdown. Why? Because, despite being easy on my body and training smart leading up to this…I felt like my legs weren’t going to let me go another 26.2 so soon. Cathy talked me down, as she usually does. And then she had us moving out the door and into the cold Indianapolis morning. It was 34 degrees outside. We made the walk from the Omni to the start line, where I ate my banana and slowly drank my water. We made it here and Cathy took a few pictures. When we saw the pacers getting into the corral, she told me to go find my pacers and talk to them. She gave me a hug and I left…stepping into the network of corrals and finding the 3:35 pacers (see what I’m doing here?), in the 2nd wave. My bib was good for the first wave, but like I said, I was learning from my mistakes at Chicago…I hoped.
My plan for this race…line up with the 3:35 pace group and hold on as long as I could. I
Cathy & I staying warm in the hotel lobby for a few minutes before walking to the start of both of our races!
didn’t expect to be with them for long, just given how my training runs had been coming off of Chicago. But, I figured it would be a good way to keep from going out way too fast (and we all know I would have) and at least keeping a constant pace going forward. The male pacer’s PR was 3:09 and the female had just run a 50K the weekend before, so I can only assume that she is normally super fast as well. Crazy good. I never run with pacers, but I figured…this might be what I need.
I ditched my toss-away clothing and got back to the pacers just as the national anthem was being sung. It was gorgeous. The wheelchair racers were sent off first. Wave one was next. And we were moved up to the start gate. I gave a wave to Cathy since I wasn’t on the outside of the corral…I was right behind the pacers because…I didn’t want to lose them. After about 5 minutes…off we went. We hit the roads of Indianapolis…and Cathy went to line up for her 5K.
The pacers guided our group down Capitol Avenue, reminding us that the pace would be slow for the first couple of miles until the race spread out a little bit. Since the half and full marathon start together, it can be very congested at points. Reminder, Indianapolis roads are awful. The male pacer pointed out holes as we ran and I heard the female pacer say, “You’re going to be saying that a lot.” HA! She wasn’t wrong.
Game face on as I stick close to the 3:35 pacers at the start line
We made a couple of turns before running across the first water/aid station. They were nice enough to shout out each station as we approached so anyone who needed water or Gatorade could grab it. It was a little chaotic through there, but I stuck with them as we made a couple more turns and made the half rotation around Monument Circle. There was another aid station before we hit Mile 3 and the pacer sign was passed from the male to the female. He had a pace tattoo on his arm and when we hit three, she asked, “How are we?” He said, “We’re a little over.” So she picked it up slightly.
Not only was I incorporating a “stick to the pacer” technique this race, I also decided to fuel more. So every 4 miles…I was trying something new (I know…nothing new on race day, but…MEH)…Maurten Gel 100, which is apparently what Kipchoge uses! I am no Kipchoge, nor was I aware of this when I purchased it to try…but it isn’t bad. I like the texture way better than the Honey Stingers or Gu type gels. I took my first one at Mile 4, which had me ease back on the pace just enough. I took a drink of water, and pushed my way back up toward the pacers.
It was just about the 10K area that I discovered how dangerous it was to run with a pace
My new form of fueling – Maurten Gel 100
group. As more people fell into the group it got crowded…fast. Someone clipped my foot from behind, sending me stumbling. I recovered, but was pushed into someone ahead of me, which sent them stumbling. Then someone else closed in and his foot pretty much tripped me…and again I had to catch myself. And then someone clipped me again and that one nearly took me down for good. The adrenaline was rushing at this point which was definitely NOT what I wanted to have happen. I eased back just enough to allow some space so I wouldn’t get trampled at this point.
At Mile 7, the half marathoners turn left and the marathon runners continue up toward the State Fairgrounds. At Mile 8…I fueled again. And I was still hanging onto the pace group. YAY. I was a little bit behind them, but I felt that was for my own safety and sanity. We turned onto Washington Boulevard, which we would be on for almost the next two miles. They were giving out Clif Gels at Mile 11, but I had my own fueling to contend with. But it was here…HERE…that I started to get a side stitch. I wasn’t pushing my pace…but it soon turned into a stomach cramp of sorts. I gutted through it until we made the turn and hit Mile 12…and then I slowed it to a walk to see if I could get it to pass. This was when I was supposed to fuel again anyway…and I took the opportunity to do that before I felt I would be okay to pick it up again. And I did. No problems. I made sure to drink more water this time. I think that was the problem. I was now further behind the pace group, but was about to hit the halfway mark. I pushed through and continued…still feeling strong for the most part. I was just frustrated that I was off the pace group earlier than I would have liked.
Do you see my name on the poster? I meant to post this earlier. LOL!
I loved winding through the streets of Indianapolis. There were crowds and people cheering in places you wouldn’t expect. If we ran through neighborhoods, people were there too. I may have been a bit off my pace, but I was going strong for the most part. I made the turn onto Meridian and picked it back up a little. Mile 16…I eased back again to fuel and drink more water. And now I decided I would start walking some water stops in order to make sure I was hydrating. When it’s cold outside, I forget to drink water. I wasn’t letting anything stupid like that take me down that day.
The 3:40 pacers caught me just before Mile 18, where we ran through this area that felt like a park and were met with a wall of screaming from the people inside. I think it was a college group, but they were fantastic. I got quite a few compliments at aid stations and as I ran through here on my pigtails. Love that story. We exited onto the highway and headed toward my favorite part of the course, this gorgeous, twisting downhill on an exit ramp. YES! Downhill is my favorite speed as we all know!! And this was fun.
Cathy after she did her 5K! She did it in 46:42!
Mile 20…and I had only a 10K left. I took a little longer on my walk to fuel here because not only did I fuel and drink some water, but I also moved my one and only Honey Stinger Gel from my zip pocket in my running skirt to my fuel belt. Why? Because I was going to do one more fueling and I didn’t have enough Maurten with me. I wanted to feel good and strong at the end of this.
At this point, if there was a hill…I speed walked it. If there was a water stop, I walked it and took in some water. If there was a crowd, I ran. I was running more than walking, which was opposite Chicago, so already my plan was paying off. I think it was at Mile 23, I went ahead and took my last gel, fueling for the last push. The water stop here was AMAZING. They were blaring this great song about being downtown. And it just helped me pick it back up.
The next three miles went well, even though I could tell I was slowing down. I think at some point the 3:45 group passed me. I tried not to let it get into my head. I took any water break walks that I needed and promised that I would push it at the end. I was going to finish this one strong. I made the turn onto W New York Street. The crowd was amazing. Someone shouted, “The finish is just around the corner!” They were right. I rounded the corner and could see the finish line down the way. It seemed so far, but I found another gear and I started to pick it up. As I got closer, I saw Cathy standing near the finish, screaming her head off for me. I pressed on, crossing the finish line, arms in the air, and stopped my Garmin. I never looked at it. I wanted to beat my Dopey time. But I didn’t want to be disappointed yet either.
Me crossing the finish line at the CNO Financial Monumental Marathon
So I never looked. I started walking down the row. I was wrapped in a Mylar blanket. I saw some people with their medals on…and thought for a moment I had walked right past that station. But I hadn’t. I just hasn’t moved up far enough. I continued on. A nice woman put a medal around my neck and congratulated me. I smiled and thanked her, snagging a bottle of water before stopping to get an official finisher photo from Marathonfoto. On down the aisle of snacks, snagging a banana, a Clif Bar (for Cathy), a bag of Lay’s chips, and the famous cookie (I can’t even eat it…but I knew plenty of people who could). And then…I made my way out to be greeted by Cathy with a hug.
I asked her, “Did I beat my Dopey time?” And she said, “You smashed it by over three minutes.” I was elated. It wasn’t the time I was hoping to hit, but I once again chipped away from my time I set at the beginning of the year…doing a run/walk for the entire race. This time, I mostly ran and felt strong and good throughout…and that was saying something. As Cathy was finding a spot for me to lay down and put my feet up, I spotted the hat in her clear backpack and said, “You got a hat?” She said I should have gotten one too and I told her I must have walked past that station. She told me to lay down and she would see if she could get one for me. After about 5 minutes, she returned victorious, saying she flagged down a happy looking marathoner to see if she could get another one. It worked.
Feet up…suns out…guns out. FINISHER!
After stretching my feet up for a little bit, just basking in the sun, we finally decided to get up and head back toward the hotel. Cathy checked us out of our room and had our bags checked. It felt like the walk took forever, but it was a good way, save for the wind that had picked up. I drew my arm warmers back up over my arms and we zigzagged our way back to the hotel.
We stepped inside and got into the elevator to go up one floor. Cathy told me to go over to the bench to sit down and wait while she got luggage. It didn’t take too long. She opened up my suitcase and pulled out the outfit I had set out to wear afterwards, compression socks, jeans, the race t-shirt, new underwear, a proper bra, the basics. We went ahead and took off my shoes, socks and put on my compression socks while I was sitting there. She pulled my pigtails down, getting my hair extensions out and grabbing my hair brush. And then she sent me around the corner to the bathroom to change.
I ducked into a stall and did that in record time after a marathon. I realized that I had left my deodorant in my toiletries bag so I made sure I looked presentable, brushed my hair, and then went to grab that while leaving my race clothes with her. Quick duck into the bathroom to apply deodorant, a wash of the hands, and one more fix of the hair…and I was good to go. Once I put on my recovery shoes.
My celebration meal at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN!
We headed out and she gave me the valet ticket to get the car while she went into Starbucks to grab me a much-needed coffee. They valet went to retrieve the car, which took about 5 minutes and she hadn’t yet made it out. I had no money on me to top the valet, which I felt AWFUL about, but I couldn’t help that. I texted her and she said about 14 teenagers had been in front of her and she was coming. She was out in about 3 minutes and we loaded up her luggage. I snagged my coffee. And we were off, heading to Carmel, Indiana, the home of Woody’s Library Restaurant, my new favorite place to eat in all of Indianapolis. Our friend Greg met us there. I didn’t have an appetite at this moment, but went ahead and ordered the Gluten Free (Lettuce Wrap) Tex Mex Quinoa Tacos with a side of the Gluten Free Sweet Potato Fries, and Cathy got me a little side of pickles…just in case I wanted them.
I made a go at the food…taking my time to chew and to digest so as not to set my stomach off. And I managed to eat the fries and most of the tacos before calling it quits. I maybe had two of the pickle chips. I was surprised I managed that much. Afterwards, to stretch me out a bit more before we made the car ride home, the three of us went to the Antique Mall and looked around. They both found things to buy, but I didn’t this time. Maybe next time. Then we hit up the gluten-free No Label at the Table bakery there. I picked up two of their Lemon Cookies, a Brownie, and a Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf. The lady who owns the bakery was there, and she was excited to see a marathoner there and asked me about other local races and Disney races as I shopped and decided what I wanted.
Afterwards…it was time to make the long drive back home.
Until next year…BE MONUMENATAL!
So, the official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 3:46:17, which makes it my fastest marathon this year and the one that closes out my actual racing season, as far as I know. HA. I was 1377/4568 finishers overall. I was the 377/1983 female finishers. And I was 106/391 in my age division. Very happy with my results as I was dedicating this run to the people I know…who can’t run. Spontaneous Marathon #14 is in the books and I already can’t wait to sign up for next year. This was a great race, all around.
Me heading to the finish line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL
Race: Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Place: Chicago, Illinois
Date: October 7, 2018
Oh, friends…sometimes you dream big. Bigger than big. You don’t want to dream big, because you’re scared of failing. And you don’t want to let people down. But people keep telling you that your dream is going to happen. Ace in the hole. No problem. Easy as pie. And then those aspirations don’t go the way you planned. And you feel like a failure. And it sucks. But you try not to let it get you down. But it still sucks.
Welcome…to my Chicago Marathon.
You know, failing to reach a goal does suck. Some people can just move on. But I have never been one of those people. In hindsight…I did a lot of things wrong leading into this race. For sure.
Instead of flying, Melissa and Paul offered to drive us all up to Chicago from here. It definitely saved time and airport stress, so we took them up on the offer. Paul was running via a lottery draw and Melissa did an amazing job raising money for her charity, Team RMHC. And Cathy…she’s our sherpa, cheerleader, and race mom, as always. We got a bit of a late start out of Louisville, but we hit the road and were Chicago bound. At some point, we all figured we needed to eat dinner…and we were in the Indianapolis area…so Cathy got on the Find Me Gluten Free app, and after a sketchy call to a pizza place…we ended up going to…The Tamale Place.
The Tamale Place on Rockville Rd in Indianapolis, Indiana
We had never been to the Tamale Place before. But the lady at the register was SUPER nice and super helpful and walked us through the process. I guess she could tell we were new to the place by the confused look on our faces. But they have a screen up front that shows what tamales they currently have…and how many. They had one vegan one…so that was the one I went with. That just happened to be the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale. And since I had been wavering between tacos or a tamale, she suggested both. And who am I to say no? She obviously knows what she’s talking about, right? So, I got a Veggie Taco as well with the spicy red sauce. Because…spicy…duh. The tortilla for the taco was homemade. The masa in the tamale was AMAZING. Everything was really, really good. Ironically, this would become our dinner stop on the way home too. I think we’re believers in The Tamale Place. Also…it makes me think of Tawn.
Veggie Taco and the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale from The Tamale Place
We ate our weight in food. No really. We did. In fact, at one point, we were passing around this cup of Elotes. I couldn’t eat too much of it, because the cheese situation on those were real…but I tried them. We used the bathroom and then we got back on the road to finish the haul to Chicago.
And so…we pulled up to The Hotel Blake in the pouring rain. Cathy and Paul had directed Melissa into the bike lane, so the valet guy helped unload us and the luggage before having Melissa move the car. Some rude taxi driver honked at her and the valet started shouting at him. It was dark, wet, and just awful that night. But she got the car where it needed to be and he got her inside. Cathy got us checked in and we headed toward the elevator with Showtime, our valet. He had the luggage cart. We piled into the elevator, and the doors closed, minus the Nolans. Whoops. So, we decided we would get their stuff into their room, then our stuff into our room and get it sorted. Showtime asked us, “Why did you make the pregnant lady drive?” Cathy assured him it was better if she was the driver than if she wasn’t. We got
The living room area of the King Suite I stayed in. That couch would be important later!
to our floor and headed down the hall. They were in room 719. We were room 722. So we were close. Cathy and I were staying in a King Suite. And the Nolans were in a King room. As we unloaded their luggage, they texted to ask what room they were in. I went to go get them while Cathy got our stuff into our room. They met me at the elevator bay and up we went, with me dropping them off. Cathy said, “You have to see our room.” So…I went inside to scope it out and we texted to invite the Nolans over as well to hang. But I think they were ready to crash because they never made it over and we eventually went to bed. But the room was amazing. Big ass couch. Chairs. Dining area. Microwave. Fridge. Garden tub. Shower. Fit for the princess that I am.
Meli Cafe’s Tofu Scrambler, Fruit Cup and Coffee.
The following morning, we all met up for breakfast at Meli Cafe, which is just off the lobby of The Hotel Blake. It’s convenient…so we ate their regularly. Cathy and I went and got a table and started to peruse the menu and drink some coffee. My best friend from my childhood was coming in that morning and once she arrived and dropped her stuff in the room, we were all going to take the shuttle bus to the expo. But we definitely needed to fuel up for the day. I ended up ordering the Tofu Scrambler, which is sautéed broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, roasted red peppers, and organic tofu in a giant bowl. Since they didn’t have a gluten-free bread option, I subbed for a small bowl of fruit instead. It was delicious. And filling. And not too spicy (because the day before the race is one day you really want some bland food)…even if I added a couple dashes of hot sauce. We ate. We went up to the room and hung out. And Heather arrived while I was in the bathroom. So I came out and immediately hugged her. It was amazing to have her in Chicago for me again.
Next stop: THE EXPO!!
The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo is probably the largest and best expo I have ever been to. I have done this one twice, and it’s just…endless and amazing. But first stop is always…race bib. We had to take a short walk a couple of blocks down to the Hilton Chicago and got on the bus. Most of the seats that were left were in the back. Melissa gets car sick, so we just prayed it was a smooth ride. It wasn’t a long ride and we made note of the Green Stop being where we needed to return to in order to get back to the Hilton to get back to our hotel.
We went inside…and immediately I got swept up in that race expo bliss. There were a few photo ops before I had to show my participant info to the security people in order to get in and get my race bib and the info for where to get my t-shirt. It was an easy exchange and after I got this…we decided to branch off from Paul and Melissa so we could all get our necessary things done. I had one thing I wanted at the race expo…the Newton Chicago Edition shoes. Because…NEWTONS. CHICAGO. YES! But first…I needed to get my t-shirt and check the size to be sure that I was happy with the fit. As I was trying it on, my friend AmyLee messaged me to say she was there. She said she would come find me at the t-shirt area. And…she did!! It was great to hug her and wish her luck and just sit and talk about life and catch up. She’s amazing. And…she’s doing the Galloway Method…which I totally respect and believe in, as the run/walk intervals helped me have a strong finish during the marathon at Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January.
Me and AmyLee at the Chicago Marathon Expo!
We had to part ways eventually, and I had my sites set…on the Newton booth. Cathy had already scoped it out and so…I skipped the first few aisles just to go and get these shoes that I NEEDED. WANTED. NEEDED.
Trust me. I needed them. And, one of the guys working the booth was my friend, Dan’s, friend. And Cathy already had talked to him and he was ready for me. He brought out my size in the Chicago edition shoes…and…yeah…they came home with me. And I wear them. A lot. They’re amazing. And with that done…it was time to shop, sample, and spend more money.
And I did. I picked up the Shefit Sports Bra, which I sadly ended up returning due to it chafing me up really bad on two runs. But the customer service was super nice and very helpful. I got 6 BondiBands. Heather got me three of them as a birthday present, because she’s amazing like that. All of the ones she got me had purple in them. And they totally suited me. Totally. I bout more Nuun (of course) and I got a water bottle with it. And I am totally hooked on their Immune flavors now. I popped one of my tubes open for Heather while we strolled the expo. It was their Energy one. Her favorite. And hydration is important.
There were photo ops everywhere. And snacks. Snacks just being handed to you. And
Here’s to finish lines!
opportunities to win free passes to the Shedd Aquarium (we didn’t…none of us). We did win those stainless steel straws though. So, hey, reusable straws. We zigzagged our way down each aisle, stopping at the booths that interested us and making note so, if necessary, we could come back. We honestly made an initial sweep and then returned to booths if we wanted to try something or if we were interested in the product.
After some time of doing this. we texted the Nolans. They were in aisle 200 (I think there were 900 aisles, maybe 800). We figured they were probably wrapping stuff up like we were. I wanted to stop by Nike Official Merch (NOT IMPRESSED THIS YEAR!) and also hit up the Abbott area as well. They had a TON of things going on, including the big treadmill you might have seen where you try to match Kipchoge’s marathon pace at Berlin for as long as you can. I would have LOVED to have done it, but not the day before the race. That sounds like an injury waiting to happen. But I did do the thing where you run across this special floor and it feeds you information about your stride and speed. It compares your stride to an elite’s stride.
My stats from the Abbott Booth at the Chicago Marathon Expo
Mine is WAY shorter. And it calculates your marathon pace if you could maintain that short sprint speed they measured. It was fun. But I am thankful for the guy at the end whose job it was to catch people. We all would have hit the booth wall, and probably take them down in the process.
Once I was certain that I honestly shouldn’t spend any more money…because Roll Recovery, Shefit, Newton, Nuun, BondiBand…and a couple others got my money this time around…we checked in with the Nolans again. They were now in Aisle 300 at the CEP Booth. This was when we realized they were just starting the great expo dive…so we went over there to help them shop for compression and I spotted Goodr next door, which Melissa is a big fan of, despite the tendency of the lenses to flake and scratch. I had been on my feet already longer than I expected and we still needed to get Heather and her stuff over to her hotel. So, we offered to take any bags that they wanted to ditch so they wouldn’t have to haul them around. We also changed dinner plans. Melissa really wanted to go to her charity dinner…which is fine. I really wanted to go to a place just outside the city proper, Da Luciano’s, which has a gluten free menu as big as the regular menu (honestly, it was my one requirement on this trip), so we compromised and said we’d go as a celebration after the race. We left them to continue their expo explorations and do the charity stuff, while we hopped the shuttle back to the Hilton and then back to hotel. We dropped off stuff, grabbed Heather’s stuff and went to hop the Blue Line (I think) to her area of the city. She was staying at a very nice hotel, but it was a walk to get to the train, and then a walk to get to the hotel. Reverse it after we hung in her room for a moment to head back to our neck of the woods to grab some Garrett Popcorn, pre-dinner, and then make our way to our new dinner idea…the impromptu dinner at…Brightwok Kitchen.
Fall In Love Stir Fry Bowl and Sweet & Sour Pickles from Brightwok Kitchen – Chicago.
I first discovered Brightwok while I was in Chicago to see Hamilton. Cathy and I had gotten out of our show and we were STARVING. Everything there is gluten-free and dairy-free. And the food is phenomenal. So…I couldn’t complain too much. It wasn’t what I had hoped to be eating the night before the marathon, but it was a good supplement.
I ended up getting the Fall In Love Stir-fry Bowl. Fall in Love is Fall 5-Spice, Brown Rice, Carrots, Peppers, Local Zucchini, Butternut Squash, and a Sweet Potato Fritter. It usually comes with Local Chicken, but being that I’m a vegetarian, I had them add the tofu, I think. I actually claimed the last sweet potato fritter, so, as Heather got the same thing as me, I split it with her, because…necessary. I also got a side of their Sweet & Sour Pickles (which are AMAZING). Seriously, I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t like. After that…we parted ways. Heather went back to her hotel…Cathy and I returned to ours. We started to lay out everything for the following day so it wouldn’t be a madhouse trying to get out the door on time. My plan was to hopefully be in bed by 9 pm. I think, after having some downtime and the Nolans over for taping and necessary race pep talks…it was closer to 10 pm. Lights out. Because the next morning…it was time to run Chicago!
Me dressed and ready to run the Chicago Marathon!
Race morning. The usual routine. First alarm. Get up for the meds I need to take. Go back to bed. Second alarm. Get up and actually become a functioning member of society…go to the bathroom, change into race gear, check weather, eat something, check weather, brush teeth, put hair in pigtails, check weather…you get the drill.
Heather arrived to leave her bag in our room and to head to the start line with us. I got a text from Melissa saying she wanted to hug me before we headed out (I was in Wave 1 and had to get to my Gate really early)…and she was reapplying some iron-on symbols to her race shirt from her charity that she was running for. She had a different gate and was in the wave after me. So…we swung into her room (me wearing an attractive big garbage bag because I didn’t want to be soaked if I was going to be out in the rain that was predicted) and we hugged and wished each other a good, safe race. She told me to have fun. I loved her for that. We left and took the elevator down to the lobby to head out the door to make the walk to the start. We had to get over to Grant Park. They could take me as far as my gate…which was Gate 2, before security check. We stood there for a moment, and they told me I was going to be fine and I would be great and to have fun and enjoy the run. That’s what friends do. I really wished I had been in better shape…but, you just do what you can with what you have. We took some selfies…and then hugged…and then they put me in the LONG line to get into Grant Park by way of Gate 2.
Cathy, Me, and Heather at Gate 2 at the Chicago Marathon
And that…was where I stood…for a very, very long time. Barely moving. Just a short trudge here and there, waddling up bit-by-bit. Glance to the left…and Gate 1 was just moving easily. Look to the right…and Gate 3 had traffic moving freely. Gate 2…was at an absolute standstill. And every runner there was basically in Wave 1 and needing to be in their corral. And yet…we stood.
At least it wasn’t raining…yet. Not yet. But, we who were left to stand there and shuffle slowly forward were about to go into panic mode. We couldn’t understand why this gate wasn’t moving. And panic was setting in for me. Usually I would have stretched more…and taken my time eating the banana I brought with me…perhaps use the bathroom near the corrals…but nope. Finally they had runners who didn’t need to check bags get into a separate line (that was me), and while it still moved slowly, it got us through. And then the panic speed walk began for everyone. Because to get to Corral C & D, you had to go behind the other corrals to a separate entrance. And at this point…the National Anthem was being sung, quite beautifully, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I was trying to make it to Corral D so I could start on time. Panic and adrenaline was setting in.
I did learn one thing from standing forever in that line at the gate. Count the kilometers, not miles. There are more of them, so you feel like you are getting places faster. Nice trick. But I digress…
I got into the corral with 1 minute to spare before they closed it. I quickly shed my trash bag and the half-zip I had worn to keep warm, as I was in a crop top and shorts for this one. The start temperature was warm…almost 60 degrees…but rain was coming and so were some rather steady winds. The announcers said all the names of the elite field that were running and the corrals would cheer for each name. And then…they sent off the first wave.
To the song Sweet Home Chicago.
After the initial walk to the start line, we could see it grow closer and closer and soon the walk became a job and soon the jog became the run over the start mat and under the starting gate. I was off. For my second ever Chicago Marathon. A race that was so magical for me in 2013.
This experience, however, was going to be a lot different. Because mistakes were made throughout the race as well. I was relieved to start without the rain, and while I knew that it wouldn’t be kept at bay, I was hoping that it would hold off longer than it actually did. The first couple of miles were pretty dry. But as I headed into Mile 3…the rain began. I also knew that Cathy and Heather were going to try to catch me before I hit Mile 3…so pretty much just before the bridge. And I spotted them thanks to Heather’s purple jacket. She was SO easy to spot. I gave a wave and a smile, feeling absolutely strong at this point and continued on…knowing I wouldn’t see them again until Mile 13.
I should mention here that I really just wanted to run by feel for this race. Go out and have fun. Enjoy. And to make sure that I wouldn’t check my watch and fuss over my pace, I set it to only show me the time. The clock face. No pace. No distance. None of it. Not even time elapsed. And I never once looked at my watch the entire race. Nor did I make not of the clocks along the course. But this is where I may have faltered. I ran the first 12-14 miles on pace for my goal for this race. But…it got a lot harder than I anticipated at Mile 10. Mile 10 is not a good place to have your legs start feeling like lead. I pressed on, hoping that maybe the flat course was affecting them, so I hoped they would wake back up. They didn’t.
Heading into Mile 13 at the Chicago Marathon. I am not having as much fun as it looks like I am.
I took Honey Stinger gels at Mile 6 and Mile 12…and pressed on. I did see Cathy and Heather around Mile 13. I spotted them and waved as I went by…I think I managed a smile, but I wasn’t feeling nearly as strong as I had when they saw me 10 miles previously. I managed to press on through the screams and amazing people at Soul City Church, who were rocking Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” as we ran through. But that, friends…is where it got hard.
The rain never seemed to stop. Most of my race was in this annoying drizzle. And with the winds coming on strong too…I was getting cold. And…by Mile 15, I started my run/walk method that got me through Dopey. Not systematic though. I’d guess on how long I was walking and push as long as I could handle a run…and repeat. It was hard. And it was breaking me. I could tell my little goal I had set was going to get away from me…and fast. But now…now it was about getting to that finish line.
As we went into Mile 16, a female runner slightly ahead of me, started to slow and wobble to the side of the road. Her legs were like Jello. It was too early for that…so I was glad I was listening to my body and easing back, despite not reaching expectations everyone had for me performance-wise. It was scary to see. I kept with the run/walk method as I ticked off a few more miles. No intervals…just as much as I could run, I would. And then I would count (for the most part) to 30 in my head before I would try again. Around Mile 20…there was a runner down on the corner, covered in jackets, with police officers around them. Another scary moment. Especially as I am pressing on just to finish these last 6 miles.
I managed to pick it up a little bit for the next mile…but slowed back down. Mile 24 was the only one where I hit the 10s (although some of my 9 minute paces were close). I don’t know what happened there. But I gave myself the pep talk. 2 miles. 20 minutes. I could do anything for 20 minutes. Even if it was at a run/walk.
The last two miles seemed to come and go…until I hit that hill at Mile 26. This hill takes you up an exit ramp and then you head down to the finish line, back inside Grant Park. I won’t lie. I walked this hill. It got me. This entire race got me. I got inside my head. I let expectations weigh me down. I didn’t follow a good routine. So, yeah, this hill bested me. But I made the last turn and I said I would run it in…no matter what. So I picked it up. And as I was running, I spotted Heather and Cathy…screaming their heads off for me as I ran past them and headed toward that finish line. I had no idea what my time was…my pace…none of it. It stopped my Garmin…and looked. 3:50. And change. I was WAY off. But I knew it. I knew that would happen by Mile 10. Was I still disappointed? You bet!
I made my way through the finishers area, grabbing that famous Finish Line Beer, which I can’t drink, but I promised Melissa and Paul that I would pick one up. They had to open it though…so as I went past Buckingham Fountain and further into the park to where we exited for Runners Reunite…I had to dump it out. But I could keep the can. I immediately headed for the letter X…it’s the assigned meeting spot for myself and my friends as NO ONE is ever at X and EVERYONE is at B. But as I made the long walk, I noticed neither Cathy nor Heather were there. I stayed there for awhile…then made my way up to B…because perhaps they forgot. They weren’t there either. So, back to X I went. And then I got lightheaded. I quickly sat down on the boards holding up the inflatable X and held on. My vision was going black. I was shivering and cold. I wanted to get back to the hotel. I wanted my friends.
Once I stopped having my vision go black and knew I could stand, I slowly did and made my way over to the curb…where I sat down and huddled my mylar blanket around my body. And shivered. And that’s where they found me.
Me after finishing the Chicago Marathon
I stood up and they came and gave me hugs and a rose and a stuffed bear. I started to cry a little. I have the best friends.
Cathy asked me if I wanted to do anything in the finish line area. I told her I just wanted to go back to the hotel and get warm. So, Heather took my rose and I snuggled with my bear and under my mylar and they walked me back to the hotel. We got inside and up to the room. And they were gracious enough to help me out of my shoes, socks, compression and my crop top. I stayed in the rest while Heather went to start a hot shower for me.
I got cleaned up and put on some fresh, warm clothes and went to sit down on the couch. Cathy said the last check in with Melissa and Paul was the half, but she got a message that they were behind pace, the mats were being pulled up, and that they would keep us informed of their progress. Cathy went and got me warm coffee and I tried to eat some things, but my stomach wasn’t ready for food. Not yet. I hydrated as much as I could with my stomach being off…and we sat and watched some television, talking, laughing, checking in with Melissa and Paul. Cathy had me put my feet up on some pillows and she covered me with my hoodie and the blanket from the bed. I was toasty warm now. Paul texted to see if we could grab some snacks and drinks from the charity hospitality tent, and since we all had wristbands…we could. But neither Heather nor I wanted to move. So…Cathy went and grabbed as much as she could.
Me trying to warm up after some hypothermia action at the Chicago Marathon
When we got word that they were at Mile 24…I put on my shoes and jacket and we all made our way down to the finish line area. Security wasn’t letting people through at first, but after some women sneaked inside, the woman said, “I’m a volunteer, I’m done.” And she walked off. And so…we walked in.
We waited patiently at the finish, with me moving around as much as possible. When the gates started to come down, we got even closer, moving up toward Buckingham Fountain. We took some time to take photos of the fountain until we got word that they had finished. We tried to direct them to a street, but Melissa’s calves had pretty much cramped up at Mile 6 and she was done. We were going to them.
We found them…Melissa on the ground, shivering, and Paul trying to rub her calves and feet. Poor thing! It was crazy miserable in the rain and then the winds, so if I was this bad off…I couldn’t imagine how she felt. Plus…pregnancy doesn’t help her either. I knew Heather wanted to catch dinner before she had to get to the airport, so we changed dinner plans again…and moved everything to Meli Cafe again. Which was fine. It was closer and less hassle for sure. But with Da Luciano’s being closed on Mondays…this meant I once again was missing my chance to eat there. Next time…it’s happening. Because I will make it happen. Heather and I went to drop off things at their room and head down to dinner. We told our waitress we’d be coming in waves. Cathy got Melissa up and moving and she said that she was meeting us at Meli Cafe…to which Melissa said, “I could eat.” So…YAY!! At least the whole gang would be there to celebrate.
Me with my Chicago Marathon medal and jacket at Buckingham Fountain
Cathy joined us first…then the Nolans. I was just finishing up when they got their food, but it meant I could walk Heather up to get her stuff and take her outside of the hotel to give her hugs and tell her to have a safe trip back to Minnesota. She had a flight to catch. I went back inside to sit with my friends and just reveled in what we all accomplished. We pushed ourselves even when things got hard. Even when they seemed impossible. And we all finished. Safely.
After we ate, we hit the lobby for a couple of photo ops and then headed back upstairs to rest and recover. We hung out in our room, watching Food Network and just talking and drinking water/cider. It was the perfect way to close it out.
So…the official results of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon are that I finished in 3:50:41. Definitely nowhere near what I had hoped. BUT…I will follow with my conclusions on that in a moment. I was the 11156 finisher overall. The 2941 female to finish. And I was 566 in my age division. Not bad, considering over 43,000 runner signed up for this.
So…what mistakes did I make?
I was on my feet way too much the day before the race. I didn’t fuel as I would have liked and tried a different method…the day before the race. I think my marathon paced runs killed me the weeks leading into the race as well. I let expectations get to me. I didn’t let my watch tell me to SLOW DOWN (I think that was my biggest error). I didn’t dress for the weather that was moving in. I probably should have fueled more than I did. I did every 6 miles…I am going to work on putting that closer and more frequent. And…I told myself I wasn’t fit enough so I went into it believing I wasn’t fit enough. And there are more…but I won’t dwell on it now.
I finished…I made it. My friends finished. They made it. We all were safe. We all did the best we could with our circumstances. We may not have lived up to our own expectations, but dammit…we at least tried that day. We at least got out there and gave it what we had.
Chicago…maybe one day I’ll be back. But for now, I have other fall marathons to tackle. You were a great learning experience. And I know…if I keep trying, I’ll reach my goal.
Me crossing the finish line of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon – Indianapolis, Indiana
Race: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: May 5, 2018
At the beginning of my training season, after Dopey in January and after I got over the flu, my coach asked me, specifically, for some goals this year. I laid out two. And one of them was to PR my half marathon distance, specifically at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
It was in writing. And I was actually starting to finally have a good training cycle, when, one morning, as you read in a previous post (and I swear I will blog about the saga…maybe…perhaps), I fell hard on a training run early one morning. It was a long run I was doing to beat the rain and storms that were supposedly coming. And…it took me out of any sort of strong training for the entire time leading into the KDF miniMarathon. I kept telling myself that this would actually work out for me in the end. My body would recover…and I’d be well-rested coming into this race, despite having a half marathon the week before.
Mind you…I took it very easy on KDF. I barely broke an 8 minute mile when all was said and done. So, my legs felt good and my foot was finally feeling good…but I haven’t been feeling strong or fast as of late. Keep in mind, the races I have been doing, I haven’t been doing at pace. This was supposed to be what makes me able to do this for goal/key races. So, I assured myself that the missed runs wouldn’t matter. I was ready. I could do this.
Friday morning came and I went out for an easy shake-out run for 30 minutes. Showered. Then began to prep breakfast for that morning. Melissa and Paul were coming over (we were all driving up together) and I was going to make us a hearty breakfast to get us through the Panel of Olympians (I won two tickets to it and Melissa and I were going to attend) that morning, the race expo itself, and whatever else we ended up doing afterwards until dinner time. The menu: Avocado Toast and Hash Browns. I used Simple Kneads Gluten Free Quinoa Power Grains Bread, smashed ripe avocado on each slice, topped it with some Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, then capped each slice with a sunny-side up egg. Served with some Ore Ida Hash Browns (with onions and peppers). It was perfect. We ate. We drank coffee. We eagerly discussed the events that day. And then…we were literally off to the races.
We talked…the entire time heading to the hotel. We were staying at the JW Marriott (I’m a princess…sorry, not sorry!) and we were going to check in and take things up to the room before heading over to Indiana Convention Center (we could do this via walkway, but why not enjoy the wind that day?) for the Champions Panel that started at 11 am (but they wanted ticket holders in by 10:45 am).
We pulled up to the hotel and while everyone else was unloading the car, I was sent inside to check into the room. And this friends…is where the tale truly begins. Because, upon entering the hotel, all wind-blown and looking like a hot mess…I notice someone in a race jacket holding a cup of coffee near one of the pillars at the front of the lobby. And my brain went…
This is where I lost all motor functions for a moment. I smiled at him and walked toward the line for the front desk check-in. I pulled out my cell phone to text my group, but I couldn’t get my fingers to hit the right numbers on my unlock screen. I did finally get there. I typed a simple message, “HOLY SHIT! MEB!” And I sent it. And just as it sent, Cathy came strolling in. At this point, Meb went to go talk to a group of runners in the lobby and I started pointing at him (his back was to me). She glanced over, did a shrug, then did a double take. It was awesome.
She told me to go ask if I could get a selfie with him. I’m not shy. So I did. I’m surprised I could now find words. I’m honestly not the type to get star-struck like that…but Meb is a one of my running heroes and I was..honored to be in a hotel lobby with him. Also, no one informed me that I looked all a mess from strong winds and car ride. But…hey…at least he looks good in the photos. I took a selfie and then someone took a picture for me. Both of which I look like a star-struck fool with really, really bad hair.
Hey…you never know when you’ll met your heroes.
He was so very gracious and generous and never once made me feel like I was inconveniencing him. And that’s one of the many things I love about Meb. After the photos in the lobby, Cathy and Paul sent Melissa and I on our way to get to the Champions Panel while they took stuff up to the room. Paul was on a business call at this point anyway. So…we braced ourselves for the windy walk to the Indianapolis Convention Center (we could have walked it inside, honestly) and went to get in line for the panel.
We were seated in the second row when doors opened. And as they brought in the Champions for the Champions Panel…they also introduced the woman who was conducting the panel, Indianapolis’ very own Lindsey Hein, the host of the “I’ll Have Another” podcast…which I am a total fan and listen to every week. So, I fangirled a little there and hoped to snag a picture with Lindsey afterwards…but we were escorted out of the room quickly and I never got to ask. Dang it. NEXT TIME!!
The Champion’s Panel was amazing. It started off with having us introduced to the Elite Ambassador and Special Olympics athlete, Andrew Peterson. His story and the way he told it was inspiring and tear inducing. Seriously. What an inspiration. From being told he could never do things…to being the second Special Olympian to qualify for the Boston Marathon…he is nothing but inspiring. What a way to kick off the panel. Then…they brought up the rest of them:
Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alexi Pappas, and Meb Keflezighi!
Meb, Alexi, Bill, Frank
The stories all of these athletes could tell about mental fitness, experiences in running, etc. I now have a major girl crush on Alexi for one thing. She’s a doll. Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers had tales to tell about the running community and running game back when they were at the top of the game. And Meb had lots of uplifting and insightful things to say. Alexi is training with Deana Kastor for her first marathon. And I’m currently reading Deana Kastor’s book. Full circle. Just…love. This was the way to kick off the weekend for sure. It was the day before Meb’s birthday, so we all sang Happy Birthday to him. So that was amazing.
After the panel dismissed the audience, Melissa and I met up with Cathy and Paul, who had already gone shopping through the expo area. So…now it was our turn. We went to pick up our bibs and race packets first before setting out to see all of the expo area and try not to spend too much money. HA!
Actually, because Newton wasn’t there (I really want to try on the Distance VII), I came out of it on the plus side. Cathy bought me my mandatory Bondi Band’s (this has to happen at every race or bad stuff happens!) and I was told I wasn’t allowed to buy any Finisher’s gear (which means, she got me something). And with those being the only restrictions, I just set out to see what was there. This is a great expo. Lots of samples of products, lots of vendors…all very relevant. Area races were present and promoting. And, while we paused for bathroom breaks, that was when Corey Queen found us!
He actually started sneaking up on me and got pretty damn close before I saw him and gave him a hug. He’s a ninja, that one. The five of us stood around and talked for a good while. We discussed races and being ambassadors and weather and just life in general. Seriously, if this weekend proved anything…it’s that the five of us could stand around and talk and not get bored with it. HA!
When we all finally decided we needed to finish seeing the expo and make Meb’s autograph session before heading to our dinner reservations. We did traverse the rest of the expo, killing time before standing around near the area the line would be forming for Meb. Currently Bill Rodgers was at the autograph table. So, we hung out until the volunteers at the expo came and put up some partitions and had us maneuver inside to wait for Meb.
Bill Rodgers and Me
Melissa asked me if Bill Rodgers book was worth buying, and I told her definitely. So she asked if she could get into the back of his line for an autograph. We had thought of doing this earlier, but Cathy had overheard one of the handlers say that he was just signing books…but the man ahead of Melissa had his Boston Marathon shirt so she looked at me and said, “Do you want Bill Rodgers to sign your medal too? He’s a four time Boston Marathon champion.” I took my medal from her and went to stand with Melissa. This worked out because it meant I could take photos with her and Bill and she could return the favor for me. Bill was awesome. He recommended to Melissa that she run Chicago Marathon and she told him she was this year. And he wouldn’t let up on how amazing the crowd support is there and how amazing the race is (everything I have touted all along) and as I was taking their picture, he apparently kept whispering “Chicago. Chicago. Chicago.” in her ear. HA! My turn. I brought him my medal and I told him my Boston story. When I told him about my hip labrum tear, he said, “That’s a bad injury. Did you have to have surgery?” I told him no. He said, “Lots of physical therapy.” I nodded. “So much physical therapy!” He signed my medal and graciously took a photo with me and wished me luck in Chicago this year too. Melissa and I went to duck back into our spots at Meb’s line.
Meb Keflezighi and Me
Meb arrived and we were seriously near the front of the line. Meb took his time with people, signing an item for each person. We sent Paul and Melissa up to him first and it was so amazing to see just the sheer joy in Melissa’s face as she got to talk to Meb and tell him how much he inspired her to run her first race. He was the best and gave her encouraging words and was so uplifting. He signed a photo for her and a quote for Paul, and they took pictures with him. Then…it was my turn.
I knew telling my story to Meb was going to be emotional to me. So, thankfully I had Cathy on hand to tell him about my path to the Boston Marathon and the injury that I wouldn’t let take me out of it. She also mentioned the hip labrum tear, and his eyes got wide and he said, “That is a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAD injury.” He’s not wrong. It was (and still his and will hopefully forever be…the worst injury I have ever endured). I laid out my medal and asked him to sign it for me. He said, “This is the first one I have seen of these today!” One of the professional photographers took photos as he signed it. And then we did the stand and smile photo ops. Honestly, everything you have heard about Meb is true. He’s very humble and very human and very generous. And uplifting. Man, I walked away from that table feeling like I had just met a rockstar. I had. I mean…for real.
We needed to drop off our race expo stuff, so we took the walkways back to the hotel. We dropped things off in the room (Melissa and I hadn’t been here yet) and then set back out to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and then make our way to dinner at Harry & Izzy’s in downtown Indianapolis.
Originally, I thought Cathy and I were going to split one of the gluten-free pizzas. BUT…she started eyeing other things on the menu. Pizza has been a good food for me the night before the race, but as I knew I couldn’t eat the entire thing by myself and it would be a waste of money to just eat half of it (I wouldn’t have gotten back to it after the race or anything), I went a very different direction. I ended up ordering the Oven Roasted Beet Salad (hey…beets are supposedly good for athletic performance), which consisted of artisan greens, local goat cheese (I asked them to go light on the cheese), candied walnuts, and had a tarragon vinaigrette. And then I placed an order for the gluten free fries on the side. It was super yummy and I devoured it all. I mean…you need to be fueled for the race, right?
Afterwards, we walked to the candy store, just for some fun, and then headed back to the hotel to charge Garmin’s, shower, lay out race day stuff, and finally, get some rest. I had Melissa help me pick between the two outfits I brought, a tank and shorts or a crop and a running skirt. As the tank and skirt were in Boston colors and my Boston Marathon medal was now autographed by Bill Rodgers and Meb Keflezighi, it seemed like a good omen.
We set alarms for 6 am. And race morning dawned and alarms went off. We went with the bathroom circuit that we’ve established since the NYC Half Marathon. I grabbed my stuff and went to change into my shorts and tank before coming out and allowing the next people to work their way through. I always use the bathroom one last time before leaving the hotel. I realized I didn’t eat anything leading up to this…or take in some water. So…that was that working against me. I did have a banana, which I ate as we made our way to the lobby, as we were 30 minutes out from the start of the race. I know better than to JUST eat a banana before a distance race. A shorter race it would be fine…but not for a half or full marathon.
We got outside and gave hugs to Melissa and Paul. My corral was in Wave 1, which was going off at 7:33 am. So, Cathy went to cut across to the other side, and didn’t think that there was openings to the corals on that side (there was), so we hugged and she told me to have a good race. And….I went to get into Corral B. I had to pause though, as the National Anthem was starting, so I did that before heading up to the actual corral entrance and ducking inside. I didn’t move too far up, but I got out of the crowd there at the back. In fact, I wasn’t far from a guy in a penguin suit. No joke. I also noticed a lot of other Corral’s in my corral. Like a woman who should have been in Corral L. Okay…
From my Instagram Stories on race day!
I felt nervous energy as the light breeze kept the start line cool. The humidity was higher that day than what I was used to running in and the start line was a gorgeous 54 degrees…but it was going to hit the 60s fast that morning. When Wave 1 was sent off after the wheelchair start, I headed over the start line, waved to Cathy and took on the streets, telling myself that it was going to be a good day. And for the first mile I felt strong. And was definitely on pace to hit my PR. But that didn’t last long. My endurance is shit these days and immediately, I dropped off that pace and that was the story of my race. A steady decline and a huge missed opportunity.
Mile 1 was clipped off at a fast 7:10 minute mile. But they got slower soon after that. Mile 2 through 4 were steady and still in a good range of where I could be to finish ahead of my goal. Or so I thought. I never once looked at my watch or the clocks on the course. I didn’t want to fuss over time on this race. I felt strong heading up W Michigan and really thought I was pacing myself well. But as I turned onto Main Street just around Mile 5, I could hear conversation behind me. Whenever there is conversation, there is a pace team. I had no idea which one, until they started pacing me for a brief moment. It was the 1:40 pacer. I was way behind my goal and I could feel my energy really fading fast.
“It’s not meant to happen today,” I said to myself, and then just set my next focus on finishing a strong race. The 1:40 pacer faded and I decided I would at least try to stay ahead of the 1:50 this time.
Heading into the track, the lugs on the bottom of my Newtons picked up a stone, so just after Mile 6, I pulled over to dig it out. It apparently fell out on its own just as I slowed. So, I jumped back into the race. The race track has always been the thing that slows me down. And it was no exception this year. I kept telling myself to relax, but the humidity had gotten the best of me and at this point, I was no longer sweating. You know what that means? I was now overheating. I also fuel on half marathons during the time I’m inside the track, where we weren’t allowed to take any sort of gel at the time. So…I waited it out and made my lap of the track. I could feel my legs slowing down, and at times just feeling tingly. Definitely not having a good race. I didn’t let it dishearten me too much, and I did pick it up for the part where I ran across the brickyard. Flashing devil horns, as always. Coming out of the track, I usually am able to pick it up, but my body just had nothing left. I started making stops at the water stations to pour water over my head. I took my Hammer Gel, but it was too late at this point. I was now just focusing on counting down the miles to the finish line. My training plan said to try to finish ahead of 1:44…it was going to be close.
Me running as fast as I could at this point to cross the finish line. I was ready to be done.
At Mile 12, I did glance at the course clock. It was where I should have been heading to the finish. But this mile does bring in crowds and cheers and the road lined with checkered flags, so my staggering pace started to slightly (not by much) pick up. I ignored the people handing out the leis and just kept pressing on. In order to finish, I just needed to focus on getting my legs to move. I forgot how awful crossing that last bridge felt, but kept going…feeling like I was moving through mud. As I was in the last quarter mile, I noticed medics near the curb and a young woman laying on the ground. They were radioing for an ambulance. I made the final push, seeing the finish line and could see Cathy with the sign near it. And I powered through, crossing at 1:44 and change. I missed the goal by seconds that I was supposed to aim for in my training plan. But I was just glad to be done. Meb was supposed to leave after finishing to head to Texas for his brother’s wedding, but he was at the finish line for as long as he could be, and he happened to still be there after I crossed. He gave me a fist bump, and it made me at least smile at a moment when I didn’t really feel like smiling.
I made my way through the finisher’s area, getting my medal and my bag that then had snacks from bananas and fruit to Clif Bars tossed into it. I got my photo taken at the backdrop and then headed into the Runner Reunion area where the after party was happening.
Normally, this is where Cathy would meet me at the letter X and we would take photos and head back to the hotel so I could shower and all that. But she wasn’t there. I had looked for her as I was coming into the area, but never spotted her or the sign. So, for the next 30-40 minutes, I was wandering around trying to find her, always returning to X, just in case she showed up there. I was really upset about my race and now this was upsetting me more…but I finally spotted her near the entrance to the runner reunion and came up behind her. She gave me a hug and my official finishing time – 1:44:14. I just decided to harp on her about not being at X and she admitted that she “got cocky” and tried to catch me before that point.
We went to take a photo before heading back to the hotel. I needed to drink water, but I wasn’t ready to. My stomach wasn’t loving anything at this point. The lobby of the JW Marriott had employees handing out water bottles (bless them) and cold towels. It was just what I needed. I went up to my room and Cathy went to pack up some stuff and make my BCAAs up while I showered and changed. We were going to check out, leave our luggage, and head down to wait for Corey, Melissa and Paul.
When our friends finished, we gathered together under a shady tree and just…voiced our thoughts that day. Being that none of us have really had humid or warm days to run in up to this point, we were all glad to have finished and sweat it out. I know Melissa and I were not happy with our times, and our coach, Linda, called to talk to us about the race. I don’t know what she said to Melissa, but Linda said she was looking at my splits and I just looked like I got tired.
Told you…endurance is shit right now. MEH! I told her I felt good up until Mile 5 and then it just spiraled from there. I was frustrated and disappointed, but she was very uplifting and positive about it. Did it make me feel better about it? Not really. But the positive affirmations did so much for my mental state at that point.
After Cathy, Corey and Paul shared a beer and a half (they were apparently VERY stingy with the free beers offered at the after party), and we passed the lemon blossoms I baked around…we decided to make our way back to the hotel. I needed to actually start the recovery process with some nutrition and Paul and Melissa needed to change before we spent the rest of the day in and around Indianapolis. This was where we found out that the guy who came to take our luggage gave us the wrong tag. And this is where we all freaked out because my backpack had my Boston Marathon medal in it and Melissa’s wedding rings were in her bag. But, Cathy went back to find the correct cart and we did have our stuff. We went separate directions to let them go to the Fitness Center to change and us to get some coffee. Nutrition after a race is important to recovery and coming back strong. Sometimes I don’t want to eat anything, but I always make sure I do.
I drank my protein shake and, while it wasn’t what I wanted, it would do for now until we would get dinner. Melissa got a coffee and Paul got himself coffee and a sandwich of sorts from Starbucks. We decided to head out…headed to Greenwood for Half Price Books, Strange Brew Coffee…and finally…dinner at Hops & Fire. After that…the long drive home…where we once again talked the entire way.
So, the official results of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:14. It was definitely NOT the results I set out for or wanted. But you never know what will happen on race day. So, you learn from it. I was 1304/19,588 finishers overall. I was 224/10,403 female finishers. And I was 50/1438 finishers in my division! I am trying really hard to not let these results bother me. But I would be sugar-coating it to say that I was okay with this. I set out for a PR…and I didn’t come close. And yeah…I’m disappointed. But this just drives me to step up and try again. I’ve been chasing PRs for years now. Eventually one of them is bound to fall. Disappointed…yes. Deterred…never.
Me coming into the finish of the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon – Lexington, KY
Race: Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon
Place: Lexington, Kentucky
Date: March 31, 2018
There is something to be said about not coming into a race wanting to smash it. Pressure can be a friend or foe, and with me, more often than not…it’s foe.
There is also something to be said about choosing an almost local half marathon to run…one that you’ve wanted to run for a couple of years but have always been riding the injury train…and spending it with important people in your life. Not fussing over all the minutiae…stressing over goal times…all the stuff that comes with races.
There is something to be said about running the race that is billed as “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon.” Running it, my friends, but really taking it in. Drinking in the gorgeous horse farms, and the running horses by the roads you are running, taking selfies with strangers and friends alike.
Yeah…it’s something I rarely get to experience because I do get wrapped up in finish times more than finish lines sometimes. That was a lot of “-imes and -ines” all at once, yeah?
I registered for the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon after being encouraged by my enabler…er…friend…Melissa. I knew this one was going to be a tough course, as I heard about the, anywhere from 33-40 hills (it’s all in who you ask and talk to!). We all know, my broken down hips love the downhill and flat spaces. The uphills…well…let’s just say I’m working on that.
My coach, Linda, actually provides her runners as pacers for this race. No…I did not sign up to be a pacer. She and her local and amazing Frankfort pack were going to see runners to their goals on race day. Linda was going to be pacing the 2:10 group, fresh off of the Chattanooga Marathon where she punched her ticket to the Boston Marathon next year. I was told to line up with her and to stick with her. And while, for a brief moment, I felt like I was wasting an opportunity to race…it turned out this was a blessing in disguise (and maybe it was all part of her plan from the start…Melissa is convinced that it was!).
The Friday before the race just happened to be Good Friday. So, my office gave all employees a half day. This meant that Cathy and I could hit the road to Lexington early and get to the expo and have some time to look around. I had packed some Asian soup for us to eat before we hit the road, and we had dinner plans that night with Melissa and Paul at the BEST place to get pasta in Lexington – Bella Notte.
The drive down was easy and uneventful. We were pumping ourselves up for the race, so I put in the Britney Spears Greatest Hits album (don’t judge!) and played it all the way through. Then, my Garmin GPS in the car took us some weird route toward the race expo, where we were driving on narrow back roads. It was wet and rainy and beautiful. We passed a chicken farm…where I declared, “That there is a chicken farm!” Because, I wanted to talk in a hick-deep-South accent, I guess.
It was at that turn, however, that Cathy made note of the signs marking the Run the Bluegrass route. As we turned and took the road toward Keeneland, where the race expo and the start of the race would happen, we wound through the beautiful horse country. And as Cathy pointed out the course signs, she literally turned her head and said…
“You’re going to die tomorrow.”
I am still laughing over this…because she knows my hatred of uphills. And there were going to be 30 something uphills to conquer. She probably wasn’t wrong. My saving grace was going to be running with Linda…my coach…the 2:10 pacer. Linda and I have run in the same races before, but never together. So, I was pretty stoked about it. Linda was too. And that helped.
Walking into the expo at Keeneland in Lexington, KY
We arrived to the expo and parked the car. Keeneland is gorgeous and we walked into the main building of the expo where you are immediately greeted, handed info books and catalogs and directed to the packet pickup area. This is done by bib number, which is corresponding with the corral/wave that you are in. My bib was 1052…first corral…but I was falling back to wherever Linda was going to be stationed. I texted Linda as I got there and then went to get my bib. A lot of the Frankfort runners were manning packet pick-up and when I gave my bib number, I was given a long look, the bib was flipped over to get my name info, and she said, “I though that was you, Karen. You’re just not in running clothes.” That must be one of those #runnerproblems.
Linda caught up with me just as I was entering the expo space to look at all the things for sale and really just wanting to buy everything. We hugged and she showed me all the great things I should by. In the end, I ended up with one of the Run The Bluegrass Ponya Bands (I was going to get a Bondi Band, but was literally seconds too late as the woman at the table and grabbed the last two), and the official Run The Bluegrass jacket, which is gorgeous and I love it and want to wear it all the time. It has, actually, come in handy with the crazy rainy days we’ve had since the race. I also had Cathy buy me some of the special popcorn from Popcorn Paradise.
Photos, Packet Pickup, Shopping…Run The Bluegrass Expo has it all!!
Melissa and Paul were on their way in, so we made the rounds through the rest of the expo and checked out all the vendors. I’m still searching for some shoes that I can simply train in (so I don’t wear out those hard-to-find Newton’s that I race in), but none of the ones for sale at the expo spoke to me. Ah well. I did finally get to try Sword. It was pretty good…but I’m still doing well with my combo of Hammer gels and Nuun Performance. When my stomach is happy…I stick with it.
At the very back of the space, you get to pick up your race shirt. In this case, it’s this t-shirt hoodie thing. Which, honestly, has become my favorite thing to wear at the moment. Just slip it over my workout clothes and good to go. They also had out next year’s gear and…the hoodie shirts aren’t coming back. They are bringing in long sleeve and short sleeve tech shirt options, and the upgrade jacket has omni heat lining.
I ran into Tammy and Dean back here and we got to talk for a little bit. This was also their first time running Run The Bluegrass…so we were all pretty excited to be taking part in it this year. They were catching dinner at BJ’s…and we were hoping to squeak in as walk-ins at Belle Notte eventually. They went to head out and we turned around to go back toward the front of the expo.
Melissa and Paul texted to say they were parking so Cathy and I maneuvered back up to the entrance area. Twenty minutes later and we were wondering if they got lost in the parking lot. But, they did eventually come through the doors, hit up the bourbon table, got their bibs and texted to see where we were. I texted back to turn around.
And we were reunited. We all made our way back through the shopping, vendors, and races that were there to hopefully catch your eye. Many of them did…so…who knows. Paul replaced his sunglasses as his old pair went missing on the NYC trip. And they got their shirts/jackets. Melissa stayed with the hoodie…but Paul had upgraded to the men’s jacket. It was NICE!
As we were standing around about to try more Sword, I got a text from my friends Ron and Shawn, and they came on back to where we were so we could talk for a moment. Ron was going for a race PR the following day and he looked relaxed and ready. They would be heading to Bella Notte for dinner as well later that evening.
Bella Notte Gluten Free House Salad
With all the expo excitement done, the four of us split up to make the trek to Belle Notte for our pre-race dinner. Bella Notte has an amazing gluten-free menu and knowledgeable staff. I have never had issues at this restaurant, and I make sure I eat here every time I’m in Lexington. I often contemplate trying something else…but in the end…I always end up getting the same thing: Gluten-Free Pasta Arrabiata with a Salad (no croutons; no cheese) with their balsamic dressing. Melissa got the Caesar Salad (no croutons) and the Bella Original Rigatoni Crema (which actually comes out as Fusiili pasta). Cathy got the Tomato Basil Soup and the Bella Origina Rigatoni Crema, and Paul got Salad and got the Baked Rigatoni Romano. There was a lot of food…but it was all fantastic, good…and we ate it all. I was on the right amount of full. And afterwards, we went to walk it all off for a bit at the Half Price Books nearby and then hit Kroger up for some bananas, waters, and whatever else we needed for the hotel room.
Bella Notte’s Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata
The plan was to play some games (it’s been awhile since game night and that was the never-ending game of Stranger Things Monopoly). But instead, we ended up watching a few YouTube Videos (one a comedian doing a bit about fitness trackers and joggers…and triathletes. It was funny…and of course…Marathon Thoughts). And then Melissa had us watch the episode of The Office where they run a 5K for rabies awareness. It was so funny. So…the games didn’t happen..but we were chill and relaxed and got our stuff laid out for the following morning to help make life easier. Cathy made up my Nuun Performance to go in my water bottle for fuel and then we did a Shaun T stretching video to realign, relax, and prepare ourselves for some sleep and hopefully get out the door on time to head to the start the next morning.
I heard some horror stories about the traffic going into Keeneland on race day.
I actually slept really well. My alarm went off at the same time as theirs. And, much like when we shared the Suede Tomb in NYC…we just sort of went in rounds through the bathroom. I snagged my race clothing (I started in a tank top and running skirt…and of course had my sports bra) to change into while I used the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I came out of the bathroom to let whoever was next go in and do their thing. And while that was going on…I put on my compression sleeves, my anklet, my earrings, put my hair extensions in and put my hair in pigtails…
My 2nd outfit that morning…and even this got to be too hot early in the race. How do you dress for freezing at the start and 50 degrees at the finish?
…and then Melissa checked the weather again. And everything needed to change. It was about 30 degrees at the start of the race with a decent wind going on. I changed my entire outfit to a totally different tank top (which I added arm warmers to), bright capri’s…changed my compression sleeves and then put on a jacket and my pants over it to stay warm. It was going to be close to 50 by the time I would be finishing the race…but we were starting in the freezing temps. This is why I don’t know how to dress in spring.
To top everything off…I donned my “Hills Suck” Bondi Band. It was perfect for this race.
Cathy headed down to the restaurant to snag some real food from the complimentary breakfast. Apparently runners had this plan too because she texted that she was in a line. She grabbed an English Muffin (line too long to toast it), potatoes, eggs, and bacon and gobbled it down while the runners of the group got their shit together and headed down. Melissa wasn’t sure how the race would go, so she and Paul went ahead and loaded their stuff up into their car instead of bothering with late checkout. I went to find Cathy and she casually finished her breakfast, got her coffee to go, and we were all out the door and en route to Keeneland. Cathy took the first gate (despite instructions to take Gate 2) and we got stuck in a bit of a line waiting to get parking. Melissa and Paul took Gate 2 and got in and parked in a prime spot without a wait. Naturally.
Cathy’s Embassy Suites breakfast…don’t know what was in the bowl if anything…
We ended up being directed up a hill with every other vehicle coming in at that point and parking in the grass in the middle of a field. Thankfully the grass wasn’t too soft from all the rain we’ve been getting or I fear my little Toyota Corolla would have had some problems getting out. We sat in the warm car until I heard from Melissa and Paul that they were heading to the RunDisney tent for the meetup photo there. Cathy made me get out into the cold, but we decided to wander into the expo building. I figured I could use a flushing toilet while there…but then I saw the line and, since I really didn’t have to go…I really didn’t bother to wait in the slow moving ladies room line. Hey…the port-a-potty lines were just as long. We eventually did make our way out to the muddy tent area, found Melissa and Paul and then went on a Linda h
Cathy and I before heading to the start line of the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon.
unt. Since she and her runners were pacers, it was no surprise that they weren’t at the tent. Cathy decided we needed to head down to the start line anyway.
And on the way, I did fuel up with my Banana Bread Lärabar. The bar worked for New York, even though I definitely used more energy there. Actually, with all the hills…I figured it would probably be comparable effort. Maybe?
Ron and I at the start line of the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon
At the start line…I saw no one. No one that I recognized. No pacers yet. So I devoured my breakfast and then finally saw a smiling, happy face. Ron!! He was hoping to run a RTB (Run The Bluegrass) PR (he has been saying if he can sub-1:45 he’d burn a couch) and he looked good and strong and we had perfect weather. I told him I knew he was going to do it and wished him luck and let him go and get lined up where he needed to achieve his goals. Then, I saw Tim walk by with the 1:45 pacer sign. AH…the pacers were here…which meant Linda would be here. Which meant, I needed to head back in the corrals and find her.
On the way, I spotted Greg, who was a 2:00 pacer and stopped to give him a hug and talk to him. He told me Linda was the next corral back to lead Wave 3 out…so I told him to have a good race and skipped back to where I saw the next pacer sign. YES! There was Linda and her pacing partner, Mark! I had never met Mark, but I had seen him earlier, because he was wearing a kilt. I notice kilts!
Me, Linda and Mark leading Wave 3 and the 2:10 hopefuls!
The start of the race was actually delayed by about 15 minutes because the ambulances were stuck in traffic and not at their stations on the course. So, I got to know some of the people around me. I had this couple asking me questions about my Newton running shoes…we talked about half marathons…and then…finally…go-time!!!
Except…I was in Wave 3…so it was walk up with the 2nd wave and wait…and then finally move to the front. I think Linda said there was supposed to be 2 minutes between waves, but as we got to the front of the line for Wave 3, I heard the announcer say 40 seconds before Wave 3’s start. Two minutes my runner’s booty!
And just like that…I was off…running my very first Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon. So many of the runners I know continue to return to this race, so I knew I was in for something special. I also knew that I could really take in the experience, which was both frustrating and amazing all at once. My legs like to run…and I was moving at a trot (horse reference, get it?). I knew that hills awaited and, honestly, this was probably the best way for this race to be approached. Linda had the breakdown specific to this race on how each mile needed to be run and I’m not used to checking my watch, but I figured I could at least help with that. Maybe?
First hill…of so many!
We headed up Keeneland’s Back Gate Drive – the first hill…and I felt strong and my legs really wanted to push and power up…but more hills awaited and Linda was keeping me right where I needed to be. She’s good at that. HA!
I knew this was going to be a good run when I saw horses within the first couple of miles. Seriously. Horses that were in one of their fields. They were running away from the big group of humans that were running and we all joked that the horses were thinking, “Well, all the people are running…we should too.” HA!! It was…SO amazing. We were still ahead of pace, and Linda said that worked to our advantage because that meant we could walk some of the bigger hills. I was totally okay with that.
There were definitely a couple of selfie-stops along the way. And when we hit the split for the 7 Milers and Half Marathoners (which also happened to be that Chicken Farm) and said to Linda to take note to tell Cathy…because I promised her I’d say it. And then I let go with my “That there is a chicken farm!” I had so much fun running with Linda and the group of runners that she and Mark were leading. I got to talk to a few of them about Disney races, Dopey, New York City, and Linda let me in on a secret…it’s good luck to throw your hands up in the air when you run across railroad tracks. So, the three sets that we crossed during this race, I did that and let out an enthusiastic, “WOOOOO!” at the same time. I mean, if you’re going to do something…do it with gusto!
It was also around the second or third water stop that we realized that, unlike it was stated in the race guide, Sword was not at every water stop. And this concerned a lot of runners who had planned to use this as their fuel on the course and didn’t bring their own. Every water stop we would ask for the Sword…and were told they just had water. A few runners were already starting to panic as the day was heating up (I shed my arm warmers and was comfortable in a tank), the sun was up, and electrolytes were needed. I always carry my own fuel regardless, so I said I had Nuun Performance if needed…and Linda had salt tabs to offer if needed as well. We FINALLY ran across a stop with Sword at the halfway point. That came as a relief…but the rest of the way…Sword was only in one or two other water stops. That would be my only compliant…mostly from other runners standpoints. I have never trained with Sword and am kind of in love with my Nuun, but I could see the frustration and worry of those I was running with who were looking for Sword at every stop.
That being said, the various farms that we came across were stunning. I particularly liked the one near the end that had spires and is just absolutely stunning. The fact that that is a BARN and not a house still baffles me! Honestly!
Going into this race, I was warned about the hill at Mile 9…the dreaded S-Curve. You start up…it levels out, you round a corner…you go back up. I was prepping for this and the drums pretty much the entire way. This hill is, apparently, notorious! As we were heading toward this hill though, we were coming up another one and had caught up with the wheelchair racer. He was blind as well and had his helper. The runners did good to get over at this point, but Linda said to me…”they will fly past us on the downhill in a few minutes.
She heard them too…and started to shout to the runners to GET TO THE RIGHT! Of course, most did, except those with headphones on. One woman almost got completely taken out because she couldn’t hear the TEN times Linda had shouted at her to move over for the wheelchairs. And then…The hill leading into Mile 10. The dreaded hill I heard so much about.
As we started the climb, a runner started up it with us and said, “This isn’t so bad.” I laughed and said, “Those might be famous last words.” She shook her head. “Nah. I’m from Cincinnati…I run Mount Adams.” And then she picked it up and powered on up the hill
I did hear the drums that I had heard so much about. I was told to put my head down and ignore everything and to just get up the hill. We climbed, turned…and climbed some more. That being said…the hill after that one is probably the one that you’ll hate more than anything.
Linda did pass me her pacer sign at this point to run fast downhill to hit use the bathroom near Mile 10. Mark had me back off the downhill pace (downhill is my favorite speed…this was hard to do, LOL!) and he let Linda know we were going past as we rounded the corner at the water stop and continued onward. Linda is amazing and caught up with us not much longer…on an uphill. We like to make her work for it. After all, running slower than my norm is not easy for me and she had to keep calling me back if I would get too far ahead on the course. Around Mile 10 I had to take a gel. My stomach was rumbling (I was usually done with half marathons at this point and I still had three miles to go) and drank some water with it. It didn’t really do much for the hunger, but my energy was picking back up.
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! I’M FREE!
Near the start of the race, Linda had told me that she was going to let me go at Mile 12.1 to spring into the finish line. Just after we passed Mile 11…she said, “You can go.” I looked at her. “Really?” She nodded. “Yes…you can go.” I threw my hands up in the air in a kermit flail and yelled, “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY” as I took off. And trust me, despite the hills, I had energy to burn at this point. I know I was probably getting the stink eye from some runners at this point. Pretty much legs are done by this point, but the course only has some small rollers with the long not-steep climb at the end to the finish line. So, I’m surging. But, more often than not, what I got was, “You go girl!” “That’s how you finish!” “Looking strong.” “Get it girl!” I loved that. I wasn’t even moving up to race pace at this point, because hills, even at a slower pace, are still hills and my legs weren’t accustomed to running fast. They adjusted.
The final two miles flew by and when I hit the timing mat at Mile 12.1, I tried to pick it up just a little more. They record your final furlong (last mile) and I really hoped to pour on the power and speed. I think I managed to pick it up slightly more, but not where I would feel like I was just…flying. But I felt good. I was having fun. I was smiling. I looked good. And I made the turn to come into the finish line and put on that final push and crossed.
That. Was. Fun.
Ron flying into the finish line of Run The Bluegrass
I had a medal put around my neck and I made my way through the finisher’s chute. The entire time I was heading into the finish, I was looking for Cathy and the sign, but never saw her. Never heard her either (which is weird, because she is always screaming at me at the finish line!). I stopped near the end of the chute, across from the donuts and just…kept raising up on tiptoes expecting to see the sign walking toward me. It never happened.
Ron found me. He had a fantastic race…and there will be couch burning because he ran a 1:40. Totally flew on this course. I was so excited for him. I asked him if he had seen Cathy and he hadn’t. Soon after that, I spotted Linda coming down the chute. She came over to me and asked me my finish time. I said it was 2:04 something…and she said she was in the 2:09’s…right on target for that 2:10 pacer! She’s amazing. I asked if she had seen Cathy and she hadn’t…so…we figured she might be at the ForWord Running tent so we headed that way.
She wasn’t. I told Linda to try calling her, which she did, but Cathy didn’t answer. So, she tried my phone. This time she got her. Cathy had been in a panic for about 20 minutes because she had gotten the time I crossed the mat for 12.1 miles, but never received notification that I had finished. She never saw me sprinting it in. She thought maybe something had happened to me, and of course, having Linda call her didn’t make her feel any better. Linda assured her I was fine and we were at the tent. She came over and looked so relieved.
I ate a few grapes and drank my water, but I knew Cathy and I had a Louisville City soccer match to hit up at 3 pm. With it coming up on noon-ish at this point…Cathy was ready to get back to the hotel so I could shower and we could get on the road back to Louisville. I gave Linda a hug and we started through the masses.
Me in the Keeneland Starting Gates after the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon
But I did make Cathy stop, even though she didn’t want to at the time, so I could get the infamous Keeneland Starting Gate photo. It had to happen and I was going to be stubborn about this one. I managed to find a short line and pulled myself up to stand in the gate. I felt amazing. Cathy snapped some photos and then had to lift me down because that gate is pretty high up. HA!
Later, when I sent the photo to Melissa, she texted me back and said that was the most genuine smile she had seen on me after a race/run in a long time. She wasn’t lying. I felt amazing. I had so much fun. I could have cared less about my time. Genuine. You better believe it.
So…the official results of the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon are that I finished it in 2:04:43, running with the 2:10 pacers for the first 11 miles and then being turned loose for the final 2.1. I was 743/3163 finishers overall. I was the 283/1989 for women finishers. And I was 65/388 in my age division. I’m really happy with this. I averaged a 9:32 pace for the race, none of which ever left me feeling like I was dying or about to die. The hardest thing was suddenly being hungry. That never happens. LOL! But this race now holds a near and dear place in my heart…and yeah…I’ve already registered for next year! Can’t wait to smile all over again.
Me crossing the finish line of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: November 4, 2017
When weekends are busy…boy, they are busy. That’s how my Monumental Half Marathon weekend turned out to be. The running gods just sort of made this race available to me, as I was already going to be up in Indianapolis that weekend for a wedding. Why not make an event out of it?
So, I signed up for the Monumental Half Marathon and went into it with the run/walk mentality that I’ve been practicing, in an attempt to not have my body fall apart on me again at crucial and critical times. Training with the run/walk method is one thing. Actually incorporating it into racing is another beast altogether.
But I digress.
My race weekend started off with lots of packing on Thursday night. Not only did I need to pack for a half marathon, but I also needed to pack for a wedding…AND (yep…there is an and in there) a soccer match. Told you my weekend was busy. And this all was happening in the span of one day.
Lunch on the go…when you’re broke!
So, packing for three events meant about 4 pairs of shoes! HA! No joke though, because at first the forecast called for rain, so I had my regular racing shoes, my rain shoes, heels for the wedding, and my recovery shoes for the soccer match. It also meant packing running clothes for rain, for cold, for comfortable weather…a dress to wear to the wedding…and some jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie for the soccer match. Plus pajamas, race fuel, snacks, protein powder, recovery stuff…ALL THE THINGS!! And, I had originally suggested grabbing sushi on the way up to Indianapolis (we were taking a half day from work to travel and would hit the road right at lunch time), but decided to save money and made gluten-free cashew butter and jelly sandwiches! My roommate had a small baggie of chips with hers (we had one serving left in a bag at the apartment) and I had the remainder of the grapes we bought at Costco! That was lunch.
Me at the race expo for the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN
We got up to Indianapolis in good time, actually. No traffic issues really at all. So, after checking into the Hilton near the Indiana State Capitol (and also near the start line and finish line), we took a walk to the convention center to hit up the race expo. I had actually expected to spend more money on stuff at the expo. It’s a really nice expo. But all the official merchandise promoted the full marathon, and not really the half. So, that was a bit disappointing. Aside from that…obtaining my race bib, t-shirt, and all that stuff was super easy. And we navigated the aisles of the race expo without signing up for more races, or buying extra stuff…save for 3 Bondi Bands. They had one that’s perfect for a race I am planning to do with friends in the fall, one that had unicorns and rainbows on it (DUH!) and one that said “Run Like A Princess Today.” HELLO! Made for me. And that was it. I purchased two replacement water bottles for my fuel belt and called it a day.
With plenty of time to kill, we took the stuff back to the hotel room and then decided to hit up Indianapolis by foot. This meant walking Monument Circle and stopping into candy store (DUH!). That’s where we picked up dessert, actually. Because…candy store!! Cathy picked up a Diet Butterscotch Root Beer to dry, and it was decent enough. We then took a stroll down to the city library because she wanted to look at their Irish History section. And from there…we were both ready to figure out what to have for dinner.
Ideally…it’s always gluten-free pizza before a race for me. BUT…as this was my first distance race where I would be incorporating my run/walk method, I was toying with giving up the pizza and opting for Mexican or other options. The gluten-free pizza place we had discovered the year I ran the Indy Women’s was our first stop though. They weren’t taking reservations and with a marathon happening the next day, we weren’t certain that it wouldn’t be crowded. It wasn’t at that point. They said they could seat us at a table, but we’d have to be out by 6:30. Not a problem. That gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu, make dinner choices, and still not feel rushed.
Gluten Free Focaccia from Napolese in Indianapolis, IN
Our waiter was awesome. We explained to him that I was a Celiac and also couldn’t do dairy. He was great to work with and even remembered the dairy-free part when we ordered the gluten-free focaccia, which had garlic. Lots of garlic. YUM!!
After going back and forth on the type of pizza we were going to split, we finally decided that creating our own would be the most fun. AND…we even asked the opinion of our server when it came to doing either a white pizza or one with sauce. We had wanted to have winter squash, balsamic onions, and then quail eggs (protein!) on the pizza. And after mulling back and forth on whether to sauce it up or go white pizza…the server settled it for us, saying that the white pizza would let the other ingredients shine, and with the eggs, we would have plenty going on with the pizza. No need for the red sauce. DONE!! Order in.
The pizza we built at Napolese in Indianapolis, IN: Gluten Free Crust, Winter Squash, Balsamic Onions, Quail Eggs
The pizza, by the way, was magnificent. The crust was basically what they made the focaccia out of, but this time it wasn’t sliced into triangles and put into a basket, it was laid out on a plate, baked to perfection, topped with everything. Eggs on a pizza was a new experience for me. And it was amazing. We devoured without rushing through the meal, pausing to discuss how EPIC this dinner was. This reminds me…I have squash in my fridge that I need to bake up so it doesn’t go bad. Perhaps a pizza is in the future.
With my pre-race meal now in the tank, we took a stroll to CVS to pick up additional waters for that evening and race day…and then turned in for the night. I laid out my clothes while Cathy showered…and then it was Food Network for Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives until bedtime. We turned in early. But thanks to being so close to the start of the race, my three race morning alarms were set later.
Rocking my Louisville Landsharks shirt at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon
Got up with my first alarm to take a pill and some water. Went back to bed. An hour later, alarm went off. I went to get dressed in my race clothes and finished putting my hair up when the alarm for Cathy to wake up went off. It was perfect timing. I had packed some snack bars/protein bars to have for breakfast…so we did that in the room. I filled up my fuel belt with one side water and the other my Nuun Performance (LOVE!!) before grabbing my hoodie, and heading out. Cathy even remembered the sign. We were WINNING this morning.
I texted my coach once I got to the start line area, hoping to catch her before the race. She was aiming for a PR. I’m not concerned with time right now…just focusing on form, and how I feel. And she and I discussed a race plan via text for this one the night before. With as many people running this as there was, we decided a 4 minute run/30 second walk interval might cause problems. So…the new plan was to have me walk all the water stops. She was hanging in the convention center, so I didn’t actually find her ahead of time. Cathy had to convince me to give up my hoodie and get into my corral as I was a Wave 1 runner and the start of the race was getting close.
I gave it up, got a hug, and went to get into the corral at the start. I had just found a spot that was a decent amount of space back from the start, but not too far back, and then I hear my name being shouted. I start turning my head, and I see two guys waving at me. It’s Tim and Greg from Frankfort!! Greg came over and gave me a hug. They were doing the full. We joked about how I was smart and was focusing on half marathons for awhile. But with the anthem starting to be sung, we wished each other luck and got back into our own zones.
The wheelchair race was underway first. And then…Wave 1 was off.
I actually felt really good that morning, even with the cold air. I had opted, at the last minute before leaving town, to swing back by the apartment and grab arm warmers for the race. This turned out to be a wise decision. While there were points of the race that I felt I was getting too warm, the wind would kick in and I’d be grateful to have them again.
I loved this race. Honestly!! I have always heard good things about it…but this was my first year actually running it. I have known friends who have done the full or the half and have never heard anything bad about it at all. I settled into what I felt was a good and easy pace and got into the zone. Even though it was crowded, there wasn’t a lot of weaving going on. I felt comfortable and like I wasn’t really pushing too much too fast. I saw Cathy just after crossing the start line, and she had said she’d be at Monument Circle as well before heading to the finish line to wait for me. Apparently an actual breakfast happened for her as well…because while I saw her at Monument Circle (hard to miss that sign!), she didn’t see me. It was still dark, and I was wearing darker colors than I normally do. After she realized she missed me, she spotted the Au Bon Pain and ended up getting one of their breakfast sandwiches. HA!! She’s resourceful like that.
Almost 3 miles in now and I still felt good. No hip issues (even with the chilly weather) and just a steady rhythm going. I knew that the marathon/half marathon split was just after Mile 7, so I knew things would thin out a bit at that point as well. At my 4 mile water stop, Tim caught up with me and gave me a pat on the back and told me I was doing great. He was doing the full and looked like he wasn’t even trying to maintain a fast pace. He’s superhuman, I swear! He ended up catching me again at the water stop around Mile 6 before the split. I kept waiting for Linda or Greg to pass me…but never did see that. It was good to see Tim out there though!
The split came and that involved running underneath this arch where half was labeled for the full and the other half was labeled for the half. They kept on going straight and we made a left turn to continue on our path to the finish line. Just after Mile 8, they were handing out gels on the course. Not my thing so onward. I really felt good the entire time, except between Miles 10 and 11. I just felt really tired at that point. I walked a “hill” and a water stop within the same mile. I didn’t feel bad for it. I was tuning into my body and it really needed. There is no shame in walk breaks. In fact, they sort of make the run more enjoyable…and in the end…the results are quite surprising. I didn’t speed walk those breaks either. I strolled each water stop…taking in my own water of fuel as needed. And after that extra break heading into Mile 11, I felt better and I was able to pick it back up. Final two miles and into the home stretch.
Me with Linda, my coach, after the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN
I could hear the announcer as I neared the final stretch of the half marathon. I took a corner and could see that finish line. As I was nearing it, I spotted Cathy and the sign. She was shouting at me and the crowd was loud and awesome. And I heard my name get announced just as I was moments away from crossing that finish line. That’s always a motivation to kick it up a notch. I never have much of a kick at the end of a race, but I was smiling the entire time as I crossed over that finish line and threw my hands up in celebration!
Afterwards, made the walk through the finish chute, getting a Mylar blanket, a medal, lots of snacks, and some water. I got an official finisher photo on the way to meet up with Cathy. And soon after finding her, we got word that Linda was on her way to the finish line, so we waited to flag her down. And the first thing she did was give me a hug. I love my coach, for real!! She’s my biggest support system, even when I am one of her biggest headaches (I am neurotic; I can’t help it!). We talked to her for a little bit, but soon had to head back tot he hotel to cycle through showers and get dressed for the wedding. Linda was going to be waiting on her runners doing the full and half marathon.
From running shoes to high heels and a pretty dress. We made a coffee stop at Strange Brew in Greenwood, IN before the wedding (necessary) and then got to see two friends get married. A little dancing and food at the reception and we were in the bathroom changing into clothes for the soccer match and heading back to Louisville to cheer our team to victory (it went to penalty kicks and we won…and charged the field afterwards). It was a long, but totally amazing day!
So…the official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:41:44…walking EVERY water stop. I’ll take that time with walk breaks. Hell yeah! I was 720/7972 finishers overall. I was the 175/4492 female finishers. And I was 32/775 in my age division. WITH. WALK. BREAKS. YAAAAAAS!! Maybe Jeff Galloway really does have the secret recipe for racing success! I mean, I ran/walked that race faster than I did the KDF Half Marathon. It was also faster than I ran the Dark Side Half Marathon. Yep…Jeff Galloway is a genius!
Hard work understands hard work. And hugs from your coach at the finish line make it all worth it in the end.