SURPRISE!!

surpriseJust over two weeks ago, with the help of her family, I was able to surprise my best friend since third grade for her 40th birthday!

Because, let’s face it…40 is one of the big ones and should be celebrated!

Heather…should be celebrated!

First of all, if you have been reading my blog, you probably have some idea of who Heather is.  She is one of my loudest friends.  AND…one of my biggest cheerleaders.  While she can’t make it to every race, she has been at most of the big ones and the important ones.  And when she’s not…she’s tracking me and screaming at me from Minnesota.  Because that’s Heather.  A ride or die to the end.

So, when the opportunity arose to give her a great 40th birthday…I couldn’t pass it up!

THE PLAN

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Running before 1:30 am is CRAZINESS!

It all started with a plan, hatched by her brother and her parents.  The plan was to fly up to Minnesota the Friday of her birthday weekend (her birthday fell on a Saturday)…arriving early so that Chad, her brother, could pick me up at the airport prior to coming by the house.  He had told her to take the day off of work because they were going to do something together that day.  The night before, Chad and I made the last minute plans for airport pickup (basically I told him when my flight would be there and he sent a picture of his truck…complete with snow in the background!!).

Went to bed early.  Got up super early to fit in the last training run for that week.  I was taking the rest of the weekend off because it should be all about Heather…and running in January in Minnesota sounds awful. HA!  BUT…I didn’t post my usual Instagram stories that morning. I acted like it was my usual rest day and I was sleeping in and just gearing up for a regular work day.  I even put on clothes that looked like work clothes.  The things we do to surprise our friends.

D0FBA203-C838-41CF-B0E7-FB3DA572A76AMy roommate got up 2 hours earlier than usual to drive me to the airport.  I got there right as security was opening and I could stroll right up because I just had a carry-on with me this time.  I killed a lot of time walking the hall (there is only one) connecting the terminals in Louisville…but when my plane was set to board…I was happy to be one of the first groups to get on the plane.  I even had an exit row seat so a bit more leg room to boot.  And at 6:32 am…the plane pushed back and we took off to Minneapolis!

The flight went fast.  We were given drinks (I had water…but coffee was tempting) and Delta has KIND bars (WOOT…GLUTEN FREE!) to snack on.  Which was good, because I had eaten breakfast after my run and shower…so around 3:30 am.  It turns out, my pilots speed (just kidding…I think we had a tailwind), because we landed in Minneapolis WAY ahead of schedule.  Like at least 30 minute early.  I got off the plane and called Chad…who was getting his car washed, putting gas in his car, and having to navigate traffic.  BUT…I walked the terminal and went down to baggage claim and put on a jacket…and waited for his truck to pull up to pick me up.

He showed up, came around to give me a hug and put my suitcase in the back…and we were off!

THE SURPRISE

Chad came up with the way it would all play out.  He would park his truck and while he went inside through the garage (the normal way)…I would wait outside for two minutes…and then ring the doorbell.  In his conversation he would then say, “Heather, you better get the door…that’s your birthday present.”

And…that’s what we did.

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Lunch from Twin City Grill at the Mall of America

Never in my life have I been hauled into a house and hugged so hard.

She was so surprised.  And that was the whole point.  We hauled my luggage inside and she offered me very necessary coffee.  Caribou Coffee at that.  If you know me…you know I love Caribou Coffee…but all the places nearby that had it turned into Peet’s Coffee.  And it’s not the same.  Minnesota still has Caribou Coffee.

We sat around the house for a bit…drank coffee…and then she went and got herself ready.  And we were off.  To The Mall of America.

YAY!

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Me and Grandpa!

We did a lot of walking there.  OH…and hit up Caribou Coffee for some non-caffeinated goodness.  We shopped.  We discovered there was a pop-up Third Love store (yes…the bras that are advertised on all the podcasts) so we went and tried those on.  She changed out jeans at Macy’s.  We just had a good time.  OH…and we grabbed lunch at Twin City Grill at the Mall of America.  I had a salad.  They were prepared to make me a burger with a gluten-free bun…but they didn’t have a vegetarian/vegan option.  No Impossible Burger…no Beyond Burger…but I love salads and got their Garden Salad.  I asked for no cheese.  They left the cheese on.  I took a Lactaid…it was fine.  Heather got the Baja Burger with the famous (I wish they had been gluten free) Salt ‘N Vinegar Fries.

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Aunt Jan, Me, and Grandpa

While we were at the mall, I had called my 98 year old grandpa and left him a message to let him know I was in town and would LOVE to stop by.  He was in water aerobics at the time (you read that right…my grandpa is the BEST!), but he called me back and said he’d be home the rest of the afternoon.  Heather totally remembered where he lived, which is typical Heather, and got us there without using a GPS.  BONUS…my Aunt Jan was home early from work.  We settled down in the living room to chat for a bit…and just had a great time getting caught up.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I made sure to snap some photos before we had to hit the road back to Heather’s home.

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Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl from Tavern 4 & 5

Her parents wanted to go out to eat so Heather recalled seeing some gluten-free options at one of their favorite places, Tavern 4 & 5. I got their Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl (gluten free meant NO plum sauce).  So it was a bowl of quinoa, “power” greens salad, fresh steamed chef’s choice of vegetable from the local farmers, and the protein – in my case the Tofu.  Heather got one too…which is how we knew the original plate that came out to me came with the plum sauce…so we had to send it back and have it remade…which they did.  And the food was delicious.

We returned back to the house…and Heather made this ginger drink with gluten free vodka and we went down to the basement where she started me on some of her favorite Hallmark Christmas movies.  This bit of information will come in play later.  I had been up since 1:30 that morning…and I was starting to drift off…so I went to my room, posted my Instagram stories I saved until Heather knew I was there…and went to sleep.

The following morning, I woke up to use the bathroom….play on my phone…go back to sleep…and then finally emerge.

BREAKING BIRTHDAY

It was decided, by the birthday girl herself, that we (Heather, me, Chad, Chelsea (her

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Birthday Breakfast Omlette (with ALL the avocado)

sister-in-law), and the three kiddliewinks) would all meet up at a local ice skating rink (it’s Minnesota and outside, mind you!) to skate for maybe an hour on the big day.  I was a bit nervous about it.  First of all, I hadn’t been on the ice for 10 years (the last time I skated was on top of a department store in Dublin, Ireland).  Secondly, I would be using rental skates.  Third…I’m a marathon runner and while I’m sort of in a down season at the moment…for years I have avoided situations where I might do any sort of damage to myself accidentally.

I figured, if nothing else, I could stick close to the wall, get a feel for the ice…and maybe make a round or five before heading to the warming house and just hanging until everyone else was done.

After a delicious “build-your-own” omlette breakfast, compliments of Heather’s mom…we started to layer up and get ready to head out to the ice rink we would be skating at that day.  We would be meting Chad, Chelsea, and the kids there.

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Me rethinking life decisions in rental skates!

We all set out and I very timidly stepped out onto the ice.  And my first thought was, “Man…if I get hurt, Daniel is going to kill me!”  Daniel, for any new readers, is my running coach.  BUT…I slowly minced my way around the patchy ice, slowly being able to find a bit more of a glide and getting a bit more comfortable with it.  Heather and I took a few photos after my second or third trip around…and then she took off with my camera to film a  lap.

And that’s when things went terribly wrong.

I came skating around a turn and found her laying on the ice gripping her arm.  She was hurting.  BAD!  She told her nephew to go get Chad and soon, Chad was on his way…getting her up off the ice and having her sit down so he could assess everything.  Heather has an amazing family to support and love on her.  Honestly.  Chad helped her skate off the ice.  When the medical staff came running and saying they called an ambulance, he had them call that off…there were plenty of us there who could take her to urgent care.  He got her settled into the warming building and helped get her out of her hoodie.  He had her move her arm.  And all of this had to have been super painful for Heather.  And she gritted her teeth and did it.  A staff medial member came over with a sheet to inquire about the accident, which Chelsea went ahead and took from him and filled out with a little help from Heather.

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Heather and Me on the ice

Chelsea also went up to the snack bar to get a water and a Powerade for Heather to have to drink.  I went with her and gave her a little hug.  It was just not the birthday celebration any of us were anticipating that morning.  We did pack up everything while Chad went to go grab Heather’s car.  We carried everything out, got Heather into the passenger seat, and Chad drove Heather and I to Urgent Care.  He dropped us off at the front door so he could park the car, and I walked her in, got her insurance card and ID out, filled out the paperwork, and returned it just a moment before she was called back.  Chad joined us right then.  Good timing.

The nurse had her up on the table to start with…but after sitting there for a long amount of time, and having Chad move to block the mirror so she couldn’t see her elbow, Heather eventually worked her way down to the chair.  They did bring in an ice pack and some pain meds for her, which she took and I helped hold the ice pack for her.

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I skate with ALL the padding on!

The doctor came in to take a look at it and just sort of give a surface inspection of it.  He ordered X-Rays, but we needed to wait for the pain meds to kick in.  So, we did that.  And about 20 minutes later, they came and got her to take her back for the X-Rays.  Chad and I chilled in the exam room until they brought her back.  She made herself comfortable in the chair again and we awaited the doctor again.  He came in shortly after and pulled up the images…starting with the back of her arm.  It didn’t look bad at that angle.  THEN…he flipped to the side view.

We all winced a little and went…”OOOOOH!”  It was a VERY obvious break.  Very obvious.  But it was a clean break…not a shatter…so that was the good news.  The doctor went to see if his surgeon had called back, because this would definitely entail surgery.  When he did return with the news…surgery was necessary…but not that day.  It could wait until after the weekend and they would split her up and give her a prescription to help with the pain…and she would have a surgical consult on Monday morning.IMG_9985

Heather was very worried about what this would mean for her and her job as far as being able to do it.  Chad and I told her not to worry about that right now.  He went to pull the car around and I went to help her get out to the car safely, in the process dropping my phone at least 3 times.  It made her laugh…a little.  We then made our way to Walgreens to pick up the prescription and a cast protector so that she could take a shower.  And then…we went home.

THE OTHER SURPRISE

39A79C50-C88A-48FD-9EB2-49C152B80690As if having a broken elbow on your birthday wasn’t enough of a shock to the system…the next element of Operation Heather Turns 40 was announced…just so that she would know what was coming.  All the family and friends who could be there were coming that evening to celebrate.  So, Heather went to settle into a bed to chill and get a feel for the splint and the occasional bolt of pain that would hit.  We started upstairs, but eventually made our way downstairs, letting her get comfortable on her own bed, stacking up pillows as needed and making sure she was set.  I settled in on the other side and we watched a lot of Laura Osnes Videos.  And maybe another Hallmark Movie.  Perhaps.  I don’t remember.  If you don’t know who Laura Osnes is…you were like me, but prepare to look into her.  She’s amazing.  She’s a Broadway star…she was in the musical Cinderella, Bonnie & Clyde, and others.  And her voice is AMAZING.  She’s very talented.  It’s what Heather needed…until we needed to get her ready for the party.9C5A7E65-596C-4743-B9B5-B7169A3AA26D

I helped her change her shirt.  Her mom helped her curl her hair and do her makeup.  And when she was ready…we got her upstairs and got her settled on the couch with her arm propped.  Everyone arrived.  It was a great time.  Everyone got to have time with Heather and I got to meet SO many people who told me that they had heard a lot about me or seen my photo on Facebook.  I was having a good time.  Between Chelsea and I, we were making sure Heather had food, cake, and something to drink.  Chelsea was even kind enough to pick up a gluten-free cake for me to have as well so I could be part of the celebration.  Told you…her family is amazing.  AND…even though I’m a vegetarian, they had PLENTY of options for me to choose from as well.  I hadn’t eaten lunch that day (I was going to have a salad once Heather got settled in…but I totally didn’t get around to it and by the time I remembered it was party time anyway), so I feasted on LOTS of veggies, a potato, and some chips with a plant-based dip.  It was awesome.  And…of course…cake.

IMG_9979aGifts were opened.  Lots of different discussions were happening.  And Heather was smiling.  And after all she had gone through that day…that’s the best thing ever!

As the party was winding down and everyone started to leave, I got Heather downstairs and settled in and went to go take a shower.  We watched a Hallmark Christmas Movie until she started to fade.  I set her up with a cowbell to ring if she needed me and made sure she had water, her medicine, and whatever else nearby.  She never rang the bell all night.

TIME TO GO

Sunday morning was really laid back.  I woke up around 5 and Heather woke up when she heard me moving around.  I went to keep her company for a bit.  She dozed in and out as we watched a few more Hallmark Movies…until she needed to get up.  We went upstairs where I brewed coffee and her mom made us a breakfast outIMG_9998 of leftovers.  I made sure I had my stuff packed after I changed out of my pajamas.

Heather went to go take a shower and I helped out by sorting her laundry for laundry day.  I moved everything into the laundry room and then went back upstairs to hang out for a little bit.  Her mom made an early dinner for me and soon they were packing up the car and taking me to the airport.  There were absolutely NO lines at security, so I had some time to walk the terminals, get some chocolate, buy some local treats, and grab my last cup of (decaf) Caribou Coffee.

IMG_0001I boarded the flight and headed home at 8:30 pm.  I got into Louisville before midnight and Cathy was there to pick me up and drive us home.

This was definitely not the trip any of us envisioned when we plotted it all out…but Heather sure does know how to keep things interesting, right?

For the record, she had a successful surgery where they inserted a pin.  This week, she was put in a removable splint and has started physical therapy.  AND…she has finally gotten out of the house to go out to eat.  She’s well on her way to a full recovery.

But…I did tell her that we need a do-over for sure!

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CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (November 9, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 9, 2019

Time: 3:35:13

“Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing
Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision
Always had high, high hopes
Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes”
~ Panic at the Disco

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

BOSTON QUALIFIED!

But I am getting ahead of myself at the moment.  Because like any and every story…you have to start at the beginning.  And the beginning, for me, started on Friday.

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Day Before The Race Breakfast!

Friday was a complete rest day for me.  Normally I do shake-out runs and the like, but I had a continuous training cycle through taper, and had done my usual (albeit much lower mileage) runs on Sunday-Thursday, with 2 of these including some sort of speed workout.  So, I slept in, per usual.  I took a shower.  I didn’t go to work…so I had time to stretch, finish packing, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at home.  For the record, it was Trader Joes Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels and Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese.  I had my first melt down.  I ran a couple of errands with my roommate.  Made a quick lunch.  Had another meltdown.  She called in my sushi order at Dragon King’s Daughter (if you’ve been following my weekly training logs, you know about my “magic sushi”…so you better believe an order was traveling in a cooler up to Indianapolis with me), loaded the car, took out the garbage, went to pick up sushi order…and hit the road.

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Day Before The Race Lunch – Dr. Praegers Gluten Free & Vegan Chik’n Nuggets with Farmwise Foods Veggie Rings

The drive up to Indianapolis was easy and uneventful.  Just the way we like it.  My coach, Daniel, called me on the drive and we talked.  He always knows what to say to calm me down.  He asked me how I felt…I told him I was nervous.  He asked what I was nervous about.  And I told him…the weather.  To date, this was shaping up to be the coldest marathon I will have run.  Beating out Twin Cities in Minneapolis, MN…and Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2018 in Orlando, FL (which held the record…yes, Florida was colder than Minnesota).  The weather was showing a 28° start, with a nice wind chill making it feel more like 21°.  Good times.  We discussed how my training had done, despite not really having weather like what I would be running in for the marathon.  I told him this would change my wardrobe and we went over what I could/should wear and ways to keep my core temperature up before the race.  I told him I already had cried twice that day…and he asked what type of crying it was…and I told him it was the “I want this so bad” type of cry.  He told me how to channel that and my unease about the weather into mentally having a successful race.  Honestly, I found the BEST coach.  We hung up…and as we neared Indy…the local station we had found started playing every hype song it could throw at me.  I cried…again.

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Expo Time!

We made it to the hotel, staying once again at the Omni Severin Hotel in downtown, and only a short walk to the start and finish lines.  We got checked in.  I put the sushi in the fridge, along with my overnight oats I made at home to have race morning (just as I did before EVERY long run this cycle).  Then we went to the expo.  I got my packet for the marathon.  Cathy got hers for the 5K.  And I picked up my friend, Melissa’s, packet for her so she didn’t have to drive 4-5 hours round trip with her baby to do it.  Then, we went exploring.  I ended up buying a singlet for this race, and my roommate bought me a finisher’s jacket (she’s the best) and a Bondi Band.  She also got herself a new racing hat, featuring this race (the first one she ever trained for last year).  Then, we made our way around the expo, checking out the different booths and races that were represented there.  Once done with that, we took photos with our bibs, found my name on the giant poster, and headed back to the hotel.

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Cathy and Me at the Expo with our bib numbers!

We settled in for the rest of the day, because I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible.  We watched a couple episodes of Mindhunter.  Cathy went and got herself dinner from the hotel…which was offering  a nice pasta dinner with a side salad and breadsticks (although she got hers to go and they didn’t pack the breadsticks…but she said there was plenty of pasta).  We ate.  I stretched and foam rolled.  We watched Top Chef (still in Boston…again…good sign!).  Then, we called it a night.  Lights out.

 

I didn’t sleep well.  I kept waking up…needing some water…or just nerves at times.  I turned off my first alarm before it went off because I was already awake.  The second alarm went off at 6:00 am.  Both my roommate and I got up with that one.  It was officially the start of race morning.  She had coffee and juice delivered to the room for her to have with her breakfast (she does this every morning, so this is part of her routine).

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Found my name!

I had about 3 meltdowns just getting ready.  I wish I were kidding.  After talking to my coach on the drive up, I decided to officially nix the shorts.  While the temperature would be climbing in the over three hours I would be out there…I didn’t want to start cold.  So, for the first time in the history of my marathon running…I ran in pants.  Capris.  Of course they were bright and wild colors.  HA!  Because I gotta be me!  I decided to go with a short sleeve shirt (BRIGHT PINK), compression sleeves, my Newtons (I also brought my Adidas Boston Boosts), arm warmers, a buff, a Bondi-Band, gloves (with hand warmers), and a throw-away hat.  I wore everything pink I could…to represent my mom (as has been my theme this entire year I have raced).  I started to put together my hydration pack, pouring room-temperature Nuun into the bladder (I knew it would be cold just being out there…so why make it super cold by starting that way?), packing my Maurten Gel 100s (three with caffeine, three without), shaking up my Maurten 320 Drink Mix (which some of it went into a little bottle in my pack to take at Mile 8), and then I tucked some very important tokens into a pocket to carry with me.  My amazing friend, Kelly Lorch, gifted me with some plates that were to go on my shoelaces.  I had my shoes on…and tied…so I said I would carry them with me.  She is amazing and has been SO supportive of me reaching my goals.  There was no way these weren’t coming along on the journey in some way.

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Magic Sushi from Dragon King’s Daughter: GF Green Acres & GF Spicy Tofu Rolls

Cathy pinned my bib on…then I pinned her up.  I layered on my throwaway clothes and then we both wrapped ourselves in old Mylar from previous races and trash bags.  Then, we headed out to meet up with Melissa at the MRTT/SRTT photo meet-up spot in the Westin (which also gave us a warm place to wait for the start AND bathrooms if needed).  I walked in and was immediately flagged down my Kelly.  Melissa came over and gave me a hug too…and I started to have another cry.  But, thankfully, group pictures were happening so I had to go and attempt to look “homeless chic” in my “how to stay warm on a cold-ass race morning” attire.  The photos were taken and Melissa had me join her as she waited for her husband, Paul, to park the car and bring the bundled up baby inside.  They arrived and she brought out the MOST AMAZING sign ever.  It said, “My auntie Karen chases unicorns and runs BQs.”  She said she and the baby worked very hard on it the night before.  I cried…again.

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Packing up the hydration pack on race morning!

 

No sooner had I dried those tears, Cathy said we had about 15 minutes until the start of the race…so we needed to mosey outside.  BOOOO.  I shed all my throwaway stuff and handed it off to Paul, who was finish line support and baby watching this morning.  He was very kind to let me do that so they can live to be tossed another day. I got re-wrapped up in the trash bag and Mylar…and we headed out into the cold.  We stopped just before the start line, where I needed to make my way down to my wave corral, and I got final hugs.  Cathy let me know (for the 2 millionth time this training cycle) that I had this.  Paul wished me luck and told me I had this in the bag.  And Melissa, because we are the same person, took my head in her hands, made me look right into her eyes, and gave me a pep talk to end all pep talks.  We hugged it out…and I went to go get into place.

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Kelly Lorch gifted me these shoe tags, which I carried with me the entire race!

At first, I thought I was about to have a Glass City Marathon replay…because as I got to my corral…I could see the 3:40 pacer and the 3:30 pacer.  No 3:35.  I was about to cry again, when I spotted a guy standing in an Official Pacer orange shirt…minus the sign.  I went over there and asked if he was the 3:35 pacer.  He said he was, and his partner was currently missing and had the sign.  The other guy showed up a few minutes later, but he was prepared to get us all there with or without the sign.  I felt a lot better.  No need to stare at my watch and fuss over the pace if I could hang with them.  About 5 minutes before the start, I went to ditch the Mylar and trash bag and got back in line with the two pacers.  The race started, with the wheelchairs.  Then Wave 1.  Then my wave.  As we crossed the start line, it was crowded and packed, and the pacers were a bit ahead of me, but I didn’t panic.  I waved to Cathy, Melissa, and Paul…and began to weave a bit to make my way closer to the pace group.

I caught up to them in the first quarter of a mile and made sure not to feel crowded.  If you remember, last year I attempted to do this very same thing…but ended up getting tripped a few times.  That wasn’t happening this year.  NOPE!  We were a fun group and the pacers were great at not only giving direction on where we were turning or where aid was…but just keeping us talking to keep our minds off the race.  One of my pacers was from Sellersburg and we talked about Louisville races and whatnot for awhile.  That was really cool.  He apparently had never heard of me.  He must run in the wrong circles, HA!  Just kidding.

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MRTT/SRTT

By Mile 2 I had already talked his ear off about the Dopey Challenge.  So…there was that.  This is also where my watch was off from the mile markers.  And, yes, my friends…it remained like that until…I kid you not…MILE 26.  My watch was beeping about .1 mile after the actual mile markers.  So, with the new course changes this year, I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to get in a full 26.2.  BUT…I was also reminded by the pacers, that with the tunnel overpasses we run under/through, plus the buildings in downtown…you can’t really trust your GPS and that the course WAS measured correctly.  SO…we went with it.  I let it go.  I just let it be.

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Melissa, Baby C, and Me before the start of the marathon!

The first couple of miles of this race is a lot of turns.  For real.  I feel like we go around so many corners, but it was okay.  Also…we were slightly behind pace for the first couple of miles, but I trusted the pacers to get us where we needed to be.  I was, however, keeping a close eye on my watch, in case I needed to just break away and do this on my own.  Then, we busted out a faster fourth mile and had to tone it down a bit.  Too early for that kind of craziness…and they knew it.

From there on, we pretty much stayed steadily just ahead of the actual pace, which made up for those first three, crowded miles.  Also, this time I wasn’t tripped about three times heading into the 10K mark.  For real.  Last year, I had lined up with the 3:35 pace group and it became hazardous to my health around this time.  Nope.  We were a large group, but we were very aware of each other’s space. And that made a whole heap of difference.  I was able to stay relaxed and just breathed.  We crossed the 10K mark and kept on going.  One of the pacers asked, “Who was worried, for no reason, about how cold it was today?  You’re warm now right?”  We all raised our hands.  Don’t get me wrong, it was cold…but our bodies were working hard and we were definitely warm.

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3:35 Pace Group taking off!

At Mile 7, we separate from the half marathon runners.  They take a turn and the full marathon continues on straight.  I was surprised at how good I felt at this point, but I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Despite the cold, I was fueling how I did in training and staying relaxed. I had goals, but I didn’t want to get worked up over them.  I was just going to run my best on this day.  And right now, my best was feeling good!  At Mile 8, I fueled with the 5 oz flask I brought of the rest of my Maurten 320 from the morning.  Onward.

I stayed just slightly behind the pacers through Mile 15 to be honest.  But, I wasn’t going to sweat it.  I distracted myself from Mile 10 to Mile 12 looking for my friends Susan and George.  They live along there, and were going to come out to cheer.  If they were out, I totally missed them.  If they weren’t…I don’t blame them…it was cold.  But, I continued to search for them on the sides of the roads, where people had come out of their warm houses to cheer everyone on.  At Mile 12, I took a Maurten Gel 100.  AND…I ditched my throwaway hat that I had kept on my head until then.  The sun was finally coming out and I knew that the day was about to really start warming up.  I was, however, glad I had my head covered up until that point.  But now…now it was time to let those pigtails fly!

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Cathy got a 5K PR at the Monumental 5K

Halfway there…and I was smiling and high fiving kids and just having a blast.  I mean, if you’re going to run 26.2 miles…you might as well have fun while doing it, right?

I was keeping a very steady pace, which continued as the miles ticked off.  I fueled with another Maurten Gel 100 (and I was taking sips of water from my hydration vest EVERY mile (because I tend to under-hydrate in marathons and had practiced this in training so that it would be a habit and I wouldn’t crash at the end…which I still think is what happened at Glass City) at Mile 16, because I was going to do it every 4 miles to make sure my fuel stores stayed primed as the race went on.

The pacers had pulled slightly ahead of me, but I remained calm and breathed because I still had a ways to go.  Panicking over pace right now wouldn’t serve me.  Stay calm.  My mantra crept in…”Keep Fighting.”  At Mile 18 we went through this little park-like area…which I remembered last year had a lot of people inside just screaming.  Same thing this year.  It made me smile.  “Keep Fighting.”

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Finish line in sight! I was ugly crying already!

I caught back up to the 3:35 pacers as we started down the exit ramp at Mile 19.  If you know me…you know…downhill is my favorite speed.  I smiled a lot at this point…because I was still feeling good.  I was feeling strong.  I was ready to keep going.  I had 7 more miles to go. I did that pretty much every easy run day.  I just had to hold on.

Keep Fighting.

At Mile 20, I took another gel.  This was the last 10K.  This is where most people hit a wall.  Not me.  I wasn’t going to hit a wall today.  I was on a mission.  I kept my head up, soaking in the sun (which was now up), thinking of my mom, running as fast as my legs could possibly go that far into a marathon.  I was feeling strong still.  No wall to have to break through this time.  Although…to be honest, they have you run through this inflatable arch thing that looks like a brick wall… which did amuse me.

I maintained quite well the next few miles.  I could feel some fatigue setting in, but it wasn’t bad.  I still felt good.  I kept telling myself that I had done this before.  I raced a 30K and managed to be under my marathon pace.  I did two of my five 20+ miler training runs at my marathon pace.  Whatever road I still had ahead of me…I knew I was beyond capable of bringing this home.

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Official Results

And then, around Mile 23, we turned a corner and the headwind hit.  And it hit hard.  While the pacers continued on, I could definitely feel the need to fight a bit more now.  The wind was no joke…and I knew we’d have it for the next few miles, at least until we turned and headed to that finish line.  I wasn’t going to let it get in my head.  I had time.  I had this.

Keep Fighting.

At Mile 24, I tried to open my final Maurten Gel 100 (I listen to enough runners on podcasts warn people to not skip that final gel in the last few miles…and now I understand why).  It was hard to tear open, so I slowed to a light jog, got it opened, and picked it back up while I took it down.  2.2 miles to go.

Keep Fighting.

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FINISHED! Here with my Indy Monumental & IndyThon Ultra medals!

The next few miles, I had my personal trainer, Corey’s voice in my head.  All these little moves he had me do that would strengthen my body and get it prepared to find that “next gear” all came into play here.  The wind was whipping, and I was fighting it the best I could.  The next couple miles ticked off.  I even had a friend of mine from Instagram shout at me from the side of the road.  I smiled.  That was amazing.

I made the turn onto W New York Street. From the years prior of me running this…the full and the half…I knew the finish line was around the corner.  I made the turn.  I could see it.  I could see it and I picked it up…I started to just fight every part of my body that wanted me to slow down.  As I got closer, I spotted the signs…the one Cathy held and the one Melissa held up.  I could hear them shouting at me.  I could hear them cheering.  I was already crying.  I was already crying because I knew I was doing it.  I knew I was about to do it…FINALLY!

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I have THE BEST friends!

FLY!

I crossed that finish line, arms up…and then, after I moved past the photographers…I paused my watch and glanced at it.

3:35:13…I had done it.  I had gotten my BQ time for 2021.  And the instant I confirmed it, I just started bawling.  I was ugly crying right there at the finish.  Cathy, Melissa (and Baby C), and Paul rushed over to me and we all hugged and cried together.  All of us.  Except for the baby, ironically.  HA!  Cathy pulled up her phone and started to play Dropkick Murphy’s “Shipping Up To Boston.”  I cried some more.  I cried more than I thought I could because I was just so happy.  Cathy texted my mom and my coach.  She told me they would meet me at the end and to go get my Mylar, medal, and snacks.

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A shower and some coffee!

After I got my medal and Mylar, I spotted the pacer I ran with from Sellersburg and I told him I got my time.  He high-fived me and I tried not to cry again…but I think I was.  I met up with my amazing friends and they were patient enough with me to let me lay down and put my feet up for a few minutes.  Melissa went to retrieve official results.  Cathy and I went to see about getting my medal engraved.  Then we went to retrieve my bonus shirt and medal for the Indython Ultra (for doing Fort Ben Half too). I gave Paul my free slice of pizza. It was a lot of emotions all at once and the reality of it all just kept hitting me.  And I just kept crying…and smiling.

We made the walk back to the hotel together.  Paul and Melissa very kindly went to retrieve some coffee for all of us.  I took a shower and got dressed because I had the USL Eastern Cup Final happening in Indianapolis as well and I needed to go cheer on Louisville City FC.  This also meant I had to go back out into the cold, but Cathy promised to bring blankets.  Our friend Greg came with us to the match and to dinner.

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A very cold, intense victory at the USL Eastern Conference Final in Indianapolis the same day!

I actually didn’t get to eat anything until long after the match, but the wait was worth it.  I enjoyed some gluten free pizza and gluten free fries from Harry & Izzy’s.  I had half the pizza left, so Cathy and I decided that would be breakfast the next morning.  No shame.

We then returned to the hotel where we FINALLY got to crack open the wine I had been saving for the BQ moment.  The three of us lifted our hotel plastic cups and enjoyed the celebration.

Let me also mention that Melissa and Cathy ran the 5K on race morning, with Melissa turning in her BEST post-baby 5K time and Cathy running a new PR (and her first sub-45 minute 5K).

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Harry & Izzy’s Gluten Free Pizza (no cheese) and Fries. FINALLY got to eat!

Now that I’ve bragged on them…let’s go to the stats…

The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:35:13, which makes it my second fastest marathon to date of the 16 I have now fun.  This took down Marshall by about 42 seconds. So damn proud of the hard work and training I did to make this happen.  I was 1282/4962 finishers overall. I was the 329/2111 female finishers. And I was 98/412 in my age division. I might still be in shock from how everything played out that day.  When it started to feel hard…I just kept fighting.

Never, ever give up on your dreams.  It sometimes takes time to reach your goals.  But that’s what makes them mean so much.  Keep fighting.

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FINALLY! After 2 years of seriously trying, I finally cracked open the wine I saved for when I got my BQ!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #20

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornI don’t know how I made it through these last 20 weeks, but with that said…race week has arrived.  I’m both nervous, excited, anxious, and calm.  How is it possible to feel all the things and remain sane?  Well, the vote is still out on that whole remaining sane thing.  HA!

This was definitely a week to turn it down.  And my coach gave me specific instructions that he didn’t want me to take a complete back seat this week, but I could move or change whatever I needed to going into it.  I didn’t change a damn thing.  I did, however, knock my recovery runs down one mile and made sure to keep that pace nice…and…easy.  The last thing I wanted was to go into race morning with lactic acid hanging around in these legs.  NOPE NOPE NOPE!

As I mentioned previously, my coach does an untraditional taper.  He does lower mileage (although I was in the 60s, 50s, 40s for the last three weeks)…kinda.  He makes a lot of it all about that speed work.  Getting those legs to fire…right at the end of a run…when they are the most exhausted.  But this week really didn’t have too much on it.  My longest run was 7 miles, and that was the ONLY one that really had a speed element to it.  And it was a 4 mile fast finish.  Other than that…strides on the last day I ran before the race.  But I’ll cover all of that in this week recap.

It’s race week…let’s go!

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

I love that even in taper, my coach trusts me with “Choose Your Own Adventure” runs.  Knowing that this is race week, I really wanted to make my primary focus recovery.  I want to hit that start line feeling fresh and ready.  I was stressing over the forecast a little too much, because it looks like this will be my coldest marathon I have run.  Thanks to Canada and this arctic blast that is attacking our nation.  HA!  Anyway, I woke up to weather JUST above freezing.  So it was a long sleeve, capris kind of a run.  I didn’t wear my Dunkin’ Donuts hat…don’t know why.  I just didn’t.  And the legs did a little shakeout.  They felt good for a Monday.  I opted to do 4 instead of my usual 5 miles…and somehow snagged some negative splits in the process.  I called it a day.  No personal training.  Just my normal PT stretches.  I didn’t even do the additional hip strengtheners this week, not wanting to accidentally tweak something.  Simple.  Basic.  Got it done.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 5-8 MILES WITH 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 6.5 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

I woke up on Tuesday morning to 50 degree weather.  Yep.  From 33 degrees Monday morning to 50 degrees on Tuesday.  Fun times.  I knew he gave me the option of 8 miles…and if this was training on a normal week and I was feeling good…I might have pushed for it.  BUT…it’s taper.  It’s race week. I don’t like half miles…so I rounded up to 7…and I opted to go right in the middle with that fast finish, doing 3 easy miles and pushing pace on those last 4.  It felt hard.  It shouldn’t have felt hard.  But, I did at least get it done.  My sinuses were having a fun reaction to the yo-yo temperatures, so that was fun.  Other than that…I took it for what it was.  Finished as strong as I could for the day, then went inside to shower and just do my usual stretching.  Keeping it nice and easy.  Oh, and I went and voted.  Because that needed to happen!

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Second verse, same as the first.  My only other “Choose Your Own Adventure” run for the week.  Happy to have had 2 of these.  I opted to do 4 again, unless I just wasn’t feeling it.  That’s the glory about these…I control them.  I did make a note to back off on pace and just let the legs work a little less.  My last 2 miles were much quicker than my first 2 miles, but that’s because it took me 2 miles to feel warm.  Isn’t that fun.  OH…did I not mention that the temperature dipped back down to just above freezing again?  Another morning with 33 degrees.  Oh…joy.  And the fact that I went from a warm apartment to run and it took me 2 miles to get my legs going was a bit of a concern.  I just tried very hard not to let it get into my head.  I did my stretches twice that morning.  And I foam rolled before work.  After work, I had a sports massage and I was so thankful for that.  Basically all that is holding me back right now is the weather.

Thursday: BASE FUN 4-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 6 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT

It was another rainy Thursday morning.  Just like last week.  UGH.  MEH.  BLAH.  I originally had thought about just doing the run on the treadmill, but I can’t do strides on the tready.  Nope.  So…I opted to just go and get it done.  It never stopped raining on me…but thankfully, we were back up to 50 degrees.  WHAT THE HELL WEATHER?!  So, I definitely didn’t want to push anything. Not even the hills I go up and down.  This was one of my slowest training runs to date.  And some of it might have been fear of slipping on the wet pavement and falling.  I won’t lie.  But I really just wanted it all to feel super easy.  It didn’t.  I blame the rain.  But, I did get in 6 miles.  See…I was given the option of going up to 8…but I really am doing JUST what needs to be done this week.  I reset for strides and pushed those legs on some short sprints…then went inside to take a hot shower, stretch, and get to work.  I met my friend, Melissa, for coffee after work…and she gave me my start line pep talk just in case she couldn’t get that out at my start line.  I appreciated it.  Went home to eat dinner.  Was supposed to pack.  Didn’t pack.  Went to bed by 8:30…because I really wanted to get some quality sleep knowing that I probably won’t sleep much on Friday night.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Thank God for small miracles.  I woke up at normal time…of course.  I didn’t set an alarm.  I just woke up.  So I lounged and dozed and finally got up at 5 am.  I showered.  I stretched.  I was thankful to not have to do one single mile today.  I was thankful that it was 26 degrees outside and I got to stay inside, stretch, hydrate, and sit under my snuggie, working on this blog.  That’s what I did.  I eventually made breakfast and my roommate and I got to packing…pretty much every option for any scenario on race day.  I still don’t know what I should or want to wear during the race.  We haven’t had weather this cold yet here…so I am at a total loss.  Not to mention, I have never run a marathon or a long distance run in temperatures like this.  It doesn’t sound fun.  It’s producing a lot of anxiety…but we’re working through it.  We had to wait for Dragon King’s Daughter to open so I could order my “magic sushi” to take with me to Indianapolis.  Then we hit the road to get up to Indy, check into the hotel, and hit the expo.  The rest of the time, I was going to spend in the hotel…rolling, stretching, and keeping myself off my feet.  I wanted to feel good Saturday morning.

Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON

Goal: Qualify for Boston – needed 3:40 time.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Finished in 3:35:13.

More to come in actual post race recap!  This girl is going back to Boston in 2021!  This is my second fastest marathon…EVER.  This beats out my 2nd marathon, the Marshall Marathon, by about 42 seconds.  Super proud.  Super sore.  But my day didn’t end with that finish line.  Then I went and sat outside in Indianapolis for the USL Eastern Conference Finals between the Indy Eleven and…Louisville City FC.  We won.  In overtime.  It was a long day of being cold.

Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I just can’t sleep the night after I run a marathon.  I was up until after midnight, watching Mindhunter (finished Season 2) and was still NOT tired.  I tossed and turned all night.  Finally got up and decided to finish this blog.  Will take a short 20 minute walk on the hotel treadmill this morning before grabbing breakfast, packing, loading up the car, and heading out for some shopping and lunch (you know I’m going to Woody’s).  Then, the long car ride home to Louisville, where I still need to buy groceries, meal prep, and all the usual stuff.  This coming week will bring my 20-30 minute walks (just like I did post Glass City Marathon in April).  I want to get back to spin classes…all the stuff I stopped doing when marathon training took over my life.  Looking forward to this recovery time while I make plans for 2020, which now doesn’t need to include a marathon!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #13

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornYep.  I am well aware that this post is REALLY late this week.  But…let me tell you…I was on a glorious, fun vacation.  And I was off the grid for much of it because I was hanging on a cruise ship.  Gotta love it.

Now, let me remind you, that when I planned a birthday trip…I was to have already run my marathon.  I had planned on running the Erie Marathon, but it sold out before I could register for it.  I wasn’t expecting that, so it made me give up on my dream of a Boston 2020 experience and turn my focus on Boston 2021.  BUT…this now meant that instead of recovering on my cruise/vacation…I was now in the peak of my training.

My coach was very flexible with my schedule and kindly gave me a “down” week while I was away.  But this did include two back-to-back 13 milers…which I moved from the weekend to the middle of the week (while on a cruise ship instead of at a Disney resort) , but this was how it would work in my schedule the best while I was away.  I kept them back-to-back because I felt that was an important component to the training…just shifted WHEN they happened.

Was it ideal to have to train while on my birthday cruise/vacation?  NOPE.  Was it fun?  NOPE.  But…it is what it is right now…and I worked it in.  It wasn’t perfect.  It was far from it.  Disney exhaustion is a real thing friends, and it definitely hit me hard.  But…I managed to keep my training on track.  I wish I didn’t HAVE to fit it in…but we made it work the best we could.

Let’s set sail…

Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! EMBARKATION DAY FOR DISNEY DREAM CRUISE!

I arrived in Orlando on Sunday morning and spent most of the morning running around Disney Springs and getting settled in to the All-Star Music resort for one night.  No running around the parks.  Nothing big on Sunday…just get a meal at Sanaa (THE BEST) and get some sleep to make the drive to Port Canaveral in the morning.  I set an alarm and got up ahead of it, managing to work in my morning PT stretches that day.  Then we made the drive to port and got signed up for the Castaway Cay 5K (which was now running on my birthday), and boarded the Disney Dream.  The rest of the time was spent exploring the ship, grabbing lunch (they made me a gluten free tomato sandwich…which took some time to get to me…and they sent me 2…because I guess they thought I would starve)…settling into our room…going through the safety drill…catching a show…getting dinner (and meeting THE BEST tablemates ever)…dealing with Cathy getting sea sick…there wasn’t time for a run.  And it was nice to have an extra day off and to feel like I could get used to the ship and get my trip off to a leisurely and un-stressful start start.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

Welcome to the wonderful world of training while on a cruise. This was NOT easy whatsoever.  While eating breakfast, the ship pulled into Nassau in the Bahamas.  YAY!!  I had heard how touristy this stop was, so Cathy and I decided that we’d leave the ship, hit up the Hard Rock, hit the Starbucks (I was buying a mug for a friend), then head back to the ship.  This was what we did and I was happy with this decision.  The streets were crowded, and I could only imagine how the beach would be.  While everyone was off the ship, I figured I’d go onto the track on Deck 4 and run my workout there.  The problem was, part of the deck was blocked off due to some maintenance happening.  AND…my GPS wasn’t working.  At all.  So I would physically have to count my laps.  I wasn’t feeling it.  So, we took the stairs up to Deck 11 and entered the fitness center.  Here, I hopped on one of the treadmills and did an easy run (because I can’t run fast on a treadmill), putting in a full 8 miles at this pace, skipping the strides and vowing to add them onto one of my runs when I got back on land.  Done.  Cathy walked on the treadmill next to me and would replenish my water as needed, which was awesome.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon before showering, changing (it was Halloween costume night!), and heading out to do some Trick or Treating and catching dinner with two of our table mates (the other 2 parties were at Palo that night).  It was so much fun, and I wasn’t stressing the workout at all.  That being said, I knew the rest of the runs on the ship would be on that treadmill.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.

This was supposed to be our day at Castaway Cay…but that got shifted to Thursday.  Instead, this was our Day At Sea.  It would also be Pirate Night.  That’s fun, right?  I got up early to get to the fitness center on the ship just after it opened at 6 am.  I had 13 miles to log (really 13.1, because I can’t just run 13 miles), and was going to break it up (since treadmills go for an hour at a time) by doing 5 miles, 5 miles, and then a “fast” 3 miles right at the end.  I had my bottle of Maurten with me and would fuel after each interval, with water in between.  I learned, very quickly, that running on a treadmill on a cruise ship is HARD.  You get a full-body workout because the treadmill belt is moving, but the ship is swaying too…so at times I felt like I was running up a hill, and at times down a hill.  It took some getting used to.  But I powered through with 10 miles at an easy
pace, and then 3.1 miles at a faster (maybe not super fast, but faster) pace.  It was fast for me on a treadmill.  Afterwards, when I finished up, one of the personal trainers on the ship came over and asked me if I was training for a marathon.  He then asked which one and how many I had run.  He just said he had noticed me running.  WOOHOO!!  So, while this wasn’t what I had in mind (and this probably would have been better on land)…I just made the most of what I had been dealt.  Then, Cathy surprised me with a Stem to Stern wine tasting later that day.  We did A LOT of walking around the ship that day too.  And, of course, dressed up like pirates, went to dinner at the fancy Palo restaurant (where I had a gluten free souffle for dessert!!), and then had fireworks on deck.  AMAZING.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.

It was my birthday.  YAY!  I love my birthday.  But this morning, I was up at 5:30 to get dressed and head up to the fitness center.  It was still closed when I got up to the 11th deck, but opened up a few minutes later.  I needed to start at 6 am sharp to get in 10 miles of running prior to the Castaway Cay 5K I would be running on Disney’s private island.  I started right on time, with my Maurten bottle to fuel me through the 10 easy pace miles on the treadmill.  I did another round of 5, then started over with the last 5 miles.  Cathy met me up there as I finished up and we took the steps down to Deck 2 to group together with everyone doing the 5K.  I was using the 5K as my “fast finish,” not sure how fast it would be in the hot sun on the island AFTER a 13 mile run the day before and 10 miles ahead of the 5K itself.  We were walked off the ship and then to the start line of the 5K.  Cathy was doing the 5K as well, but we weren’t running it together.  We were sent off as the clock started and I passed quite a few people to start with, pulling into the lead female position (This, BTW, means nothing as this is a fun run and no official timing is given and people are encouraged to cut the course, LOL).  But I made a goal in my head to stay in that position.  It was definitely hot out there, especially when we weren’t in the loop (which had a bit of shade).  The runway portion was probably the hottest, and I knew my first mile was pretty quick, but my second mile I faded a bit.  I pressed on, pushing a bit more and picked it back up to finish “strong” that day.  I was happy with it.  First female.  Birthday run.  Done.  Cathy came in and we decided to change into our bathing suits, do some shopping, grab an alcoholic beverage (a Conch Cooler) and lay on the beach for a bit.  We took some pictures, went to eat lunch (the ship had a vegan and gluten free veggie burger, fries, and veggies sent to the island for me), then headed back to the ship.  NO ONE was on there.  We showered, changed, took pictures, and then went to a Mixology Class which was SO fun.  Later on, birthday dinner with the entire table back together.  And double dessert for me.  LOVED it.  The chef also created dishes for me the entire night to fit my dietary needs and make it super fun.  I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday…and the runs were a nice bonus!

Friday: REST DAY!  DISEMBARKATION DAY & MICKEYS NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY AT MAGIC KINGDOM!

I must say, it was nice to not have to try to fit in a run before leaving the ship on Friday morning.  We got our luggage packed up, went down to breakfast, which we ate with our entire table again, and then got in the line to get off the ship and go through customs.  After that, it was a waiting game for our room at Port Orleans French Quarter to be ready.  We grabbed a light lunch at Toasted.  We hit the grocery store for water.  We walked around the resort until the text came through and we could get into our room.  Once that happened, we changed into our costumes for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (we were Joy & Bing Bong from Inside Out), went to Magic Kingdom, got candy, went to eat at Skippers (we split an appetizer & entree), went on rides, got TONS more candy, walked around…and left at midnight.  My legs were tired and my feet were SO sore.  I think I got to bed just before 1 am and had to get up for a run on Saturday, now very glad I moved my back-to-back 13 milers to earlier in the week.

Saturday: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was do speed work.  My legs were feeling heavy, the late night and time on my feet this entire trip, but more specifically…the night prior at Magic Kingdom.  It was hot and humid outside.  But…I knew this needed to happen and I needed to do it now before another long day of wandering around a Disney Park (Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT!).  So…I headed out.  Mona Fartleks were going to happen on the running path of the Port Orleans resorts…whether I wanted it to or not.  Once again, these work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  I could tell from the start it was going to be a struggle.  My warm up was MEH.  My intervals felt like a slog.  And there were plenty of obstacles along the way (people with luggage, people going to the buses, dogs, carts, strollers, people on the way to breakfast and not paying attention, and any number of all of them all at once).  But I did sweat it out and get it done.  I knew it was going to be bad.  But I also had promised to tack on some strides, so I did that too…and those felt awful and slow and just sucky.  I went back to the room, feeling really defeated, but had my spirits lifted with gluten free beignets and coffee.  I showered, ate, put on sunscreen, headed to the bus to go to EPCOT…where we walked the rest of the day, once again returning LATE at night with tired legs and very sore feet.  I knew I had one more day of runs ahead of me on this trip…

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

Same run as I did on the ship…this time with the strides right at the end.  I was hoping this run would go better than the previous one.  Ultimately, this would work out to be the same distance as the Mona Fartlek workouts…just without pushing pace.  I set out, and surprisingly felt good.  I ran the same loops through the Port Orleans Resorts as the previous day.  It was much earlier, as I was wearing my reflective gear, simply because it was still very dark out.  I had an 9:15 am breakfast in Animal Kingdom, which meant in order to have time to do my run, I’d have to get up early and get it done so I could shower, change, put on sunscreen and…drive to the park.  I was happy with how I felt on this.  It was still warm and humid, but it’s Orlando, Florida.  Of course it is.  I said HI to a few people who were out smoking or sitting with their dogs on the trail. Got a lot of compliments on my Nox Gear vest (use code: CELIAC at checkout for 35% off).  And I finished it up and was actually sad and disappointed with my overall pace.  I felt like I was flying and it was so easy today…but the reality was sobering and frustrating.  I did my strides, which felt so hard to push through and do…then went to prepare for the day.  This was Animal Kingdom, some resort hopping (with Dole Whip), and then a dinner of Gluten Free Churros and Truffle Poutine.  Cathy and I split those, went and rose Flights of Passage at Pandora, and then called it a night.  We realized we hadn’t had a single vegetable all day…so we made a point to stop by the food court at the resort and pick up some celery and carrots to split…just to feel a bit better about life.  I was thankful that my travel day the following morning was an additional rest day, which made things a little less hectic and crazy…and allowed for pre-airport gluten free beignets. HA!

So…all in all…it was a fun week, but it was hard on the training.  I love traveling and taking trips, but with an actual goal this coming race, I had to prioritize my training when I had originally hoped that I wouldn’t even have to pack running clothes if I didn’t want to (let’s face it…I probably would have).  It was a struggle.  Mentally, the early mornings on vacation were rough, especially with my schedule and my diet being thrown off by late dinners, late nights, and more food than I thought was possible being put in front of me.  But, you know…you just make it work.  Even my coach said I was doing good fitting the training in while on a cruise and a stay at Disney World (since there was no races this time around) and to just let the bad runs go.  Make like Elsa…Let it go!  HA!

So, it will be nice to fall back into a “normal” schedule and see how I go as the summer days creep back in and warm us all back up…

Downtown Doubler 15K/30K – New Albany, IN (September 8, 2019)

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Me finishing the Downtown Double 30K – New Albany, IN

Race: Downtown Doubler 15K/30K

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: September 8, 2019

Time: 2:26:39

I can’t miss a race when it happens on my training grounds, right?  RIGHT?!  Also, it totally coincided with my marathon training and worked as my weekend long run.  Also, as I have never ran a 30K, it would be an automatic PR for me too. Can’t argue with any of that!

Welcome to my past Sunday morning!

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My “magic sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter.  Fueling my long runs this training season.

Treating this as I have all my long runs leading into my marathon thus far, I went to get my “magic sushi,” at Dragon King’s Daughter the night before, because it’s been working as night-before-a-long-run fuel.  And why mess with something when it’s working, right?  Also, I got up as if it were a usual long run morning, giving myself plenty of time to hydrate, eat a small bowl of overnight oats, get dressed, slather on sunscreen, fuel with my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and get to the start of the actual run.  I had 40 oz of water (and 2 Nuun tablets) in my Nathan Hydration vest, and was carrying a Maurten 100 Gel for when I felt I might need it.  Other than that, I was wearing the new Newton Distance 8 and all the pink I could find in honor of my mom!  I had actually slept really well after going to bed early the night before, so I felt good.  Not even nervous.  Not even with the change from “using this as a training run” to having to throw down about 7/9 of the race at Marathon Pace.  THAT…I was NOT excited about.

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MRTT/SRTT group photo! Love these ladies!

But I had a plan.  Use the first 2 miles as a warm-up.  Then hit it at my marathon pace for the next 10-14 miles (whatever my legs were feeling that day).  Use the last 2.6 as a cool down, perhaps kicking it back in for that 0.6 at the end (although I usually don’t have a kick).

Did that happen?  Ehhhhhh…

As I stated previously, I arrived to the start of the race about 30 minutes prior to the actual start.  I met up with my friends Laura and Michael, and we decided to make use of the flushing toilets while there weren’t any lines.  They went to warm up, and I met up with Christine and the rest of the MRTT/SRTT group that was in attendance at the race.  A group pictures was taken and we all started to make our way to the start line to line up.

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Ron, Christine, and I starting the Downtown Doubler together

I was originally going to run this with Christine, but with my marathon paces now having to be a thing, it wasn’t happening.  Dang it.  We did meander to the start line together though, her laying out her plan to execute in the race.  Our other running partner, Ron, was doing the 15K and was going to start with us.

We were given the basics on the course.  Turn around at the cone.  And 15K come in to the finish on the right side…30K, stay to the left and make the turn to head back out.  It was a 2 loop course for those of us doing the 30K.  And in my head, I was thinking how smart the 15K people were.  HA!  After that…the horn sounded and we were off!

I took off and ended up running with Ron down the stretch leading into the first mile.  I could tell we were going fast.  Faster than a warm up would have been.  And when we hit the first mile he shouted that we were at 7:28.  He said he was going to race, I told him to go on, but opted to just run the first 10-14 miles fast and back off and cruise in at the end instead of my initial plan.  I mean…I just did a 7:28…might as well keep with the momentum.  I remained about what I figured was about 1/10 of a mile behind him on pace through the first 4 miles.  At the turn around point, he grabbed water and I skimmed past him.  He caught up with me and as we were coming into the 7th mile, he said, “At this pace…slow it down at Mile 10.”  I promised I would.  We headed up the hill, and after crossing the flood wall, I went down the hill and remained just slightly ahead of him at this point.  I took the rest of my Maurten at Mile 8 and headed to the turn-around point to make the loop and head back out.

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Heading out for the second loop! Halfway there!

At Mile 10, I still felt good, but I did ease off the accelerator.  Slightly.  Ron was right…I didn’t want to work up a recipe for injury, but my miles were still really fast.  Apparently he said told Cathy that I was going too fast.  But, as promised, I did ease back a little.  With the looped route, I did get to see my friends at different points on the course, and cheer in the leaders as they passed me as I was heading into the turnaround point.  It was fun.  And, as I said, I’ve run the Greenway so much, my legs knew when the hills hit and when the wooden bridges would slow me down…all the things.  When I did turn around at Mile 14, I did ease it back even more.  I knew that Daniel didn’t want me racing the whole thing, because that would mean a lot more recovery time.  So, I went to my base pace speed and started to make my way back to the finish line.

Here is where I want to give a HUGE shout-out…

…to the Urban Bourbon people at the water stop were AWESOME.  They called everyone out by name and cheered them on.  And that was AMAZING.  I loved it.  And since we 30K peeps saw them 4 times, it was nice to always have someone cheering you on on what would have been a lonely course otherwise.

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Me with my medal after finishing the Downtown Doubler 30K

At Mile 16, I went ahead and took my Maurten 100 Gel to give me a little push to the finish line.  I had to run up the last of the hills heading over the flood wall again, and my legs fought it a little bit here.  But I just eased up it and rode the downhill on the other end.  I knew I was heading into my last 1.6 miles…and technically, my watch was a bit behind where the mile markers were placed.  I was running with my watch covered, so I wasn’t sure how much it was off…I just knew it was.  Whatever.  It happens.

I knew the finish line was close though, so for that last half mile, I found myself picking the pace back up. I felt amazing, mind you.  I fueled properly…I hydrated every mile…I felt like I could have kept going.  And as I headed into the finish line, I had friends there holding out hands for some high fives.  I gladly gave them.  And I was shouted out at the finish line, and they even said I looked like I could have kept going.  It was a good morning for me and I was thankful to have the strength, endurance, and speed to carry me through the miles.

The course was 18.52 miles according to my watch…so I did a cool down, easy jog, to get me to the 18.6 miles total.  I received my medal and then had to wait around for official results to post to see if I placed at all in my age division.  It took a little bit of time, but that was okay…because I got to cheer in quite a few of my friends while we waited.

IMG_4748Turns out that I came in 2nd in my Age Group.  I was surprised (my age division is pretty competitive).  That was a nice bonus for sure.  After cheering in more people, Cathy, Ron, Shawn and I decided we would head up to Heine Bros. for coffee.  So, up the stairs (that sucked, BTW) we went to head over the tracks.  And I heard the train.  And then the train stopped.  And then the train didn’t move for 30 minutes.  I sat on the stairs and just waited it out, but some people climbed up onto the cars (and some ducked under the train) to get to their cars.  It wasn’t worth the risk of death, honestly.  I called it the “Darwin” test and really got pissed when a guy with a toddler did it.

The train did clear out and we all met up for coffee and some chatting.  Then I went home to shower, grocery shop, shop for last minute trip stuff, and await my schedule from my coach for the following week.  I had a good race.

My official results of the Downtown Doubler 30K are that I finished in 2:26:39…which is now my standing 30K PR.  This world needs more 30K races, for real.  I did look at my 15K split and I was only 3 seconds behind my 15K PR (set at The Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY back in 2013)…so that’s a win, right?  I was 28/108 finishers overall. I was 9/51 female finishers. And I was 2/11 in my age division.  I had a great time at this race.  There was so much support from the other runners, the water stops, the finish line, and the turn-around point.  This was definitely a confidence boost I needed in my training.  I will take those because they have been few and far between.

Bluegrass 10,000 – Lexington, KY (July 4, 2019)

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Me heading toward the finish line of the Bluegrass 10,000

Race: Bluegrass 10,000

Place: Lexington, Kentucky

Date: July 4, 2019

Time: 47:40

Fourth of July means one thing.  The annual 4th of July race.  And for the third year in a row, I decided to make the trip down to Lexington, Kentucky for the Bluegrass 10,000.  This year it was a bit different.  We didn’t ride down with Melissa and Paul this year.  Melissa had a baby back in February, so I knew they would have a bit more of a stressful ride down (especially if they were bringing the baby…which they did…and her mom to watch the baby…so full car as it was) trying to juggle everything with a newborn around.

I got in touch with Linda, my former coach and one of my favorite people (she’s an amazing friend) in this world, to see if she could pick up my packet if I registered, and since she’s in charge of the pacers…she said she already was picking up all of those so she would add to mine.  I greatly appreciated that.  There was no way that I could get to Lexington during a workweek for a Thursday race so I am thankful for people who can help me out.

The night before the race I made tacos.  Not weird.  I love tacos.  And I ended up going to bed relatively early that night, knowing that a very early alarm had to be set for me to get up, hydrate, drink coffee, stretch, change, put on sunscreen, and get on the road by 5 am.  The race in Lexington starts at 7:30 am.  We managed to have breakfast, get ready, and get on the road right on time.  So, that was a definite win.

It was a warm morning, and I dressed appropriately this time.  As Wonder Woman.  With a bra top instead of a tank top.  I’m over the fact that my stomach isn’t flat.  Whatever.  Comfort is way more important and I wasn’t going to overheat this year.

This year, I was opting to give a go at racing this thing again.  I wasn’t sure how I would do.  My body isn’t reacting well to the heat/humidity this summer.  I’ve never crashed so hard on hot runs (yep…even before the sun comes up) as much as I have this year.  Its frustrating.  And it does mentally wear you down, but I decided I would just see what I had this particular day.  My training was relatively easy leading into a Thursday race.  I admit, I might have hit some miles a bit harder than intended…but I felt pretty good on the drive into Lexington.

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Race ready at the Bluegrass 10,000

As we were arriving to our designated spot to park, I got a text from Linda saying where she was parked so we could meet up.  We pulled in moments later, and I got out to get a hug and get my race shirt and bib.  Cathy pinned me up and Linda and I talked for a bit.  Her 8 minute pacer hadn’t shown up yet so she said I might have to hop in and pace.  I was willing to do that if necessary.  We both took the opportunity to use the bathroom before heading toward the start line.  Her 8 minute pacer did show up at this point, so I was reprieved of that duty.  Melissa and Paul weren’t here yet…but did arrive after the pacer photo and with about 5 minutes to the start.  I wanted to hug Melissa before the start, but she was feeding her baby and Paul was grabbing her stuff.  I had to head to the start…and that was that this year.

I lined up near the 8 minute pacer, just as I did last year.  But then I saw people who were, once again, talking about how they wouldn’t be able to do that pace…or were definitely not dressed to hold that pace (is that judgey?)…so I moved up.  And then moved up some more.  The National Anthem was sung.  The wheelchair racers were sent off.  And we all moved up to wait for our prompt 7:30 am start.  We were sent off by a rifle.  It was pretty frickin amazing!

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Start line selfies with Cathy

Here is where I am changing my plan of action for this race next time I run it.  Despite having moved up, I was still blocked by a lot of walkers who were up near the front of the race.  I wish this could be monitored a bit more, but it seems that next year, I am just lining up MUCH closer to the start line.  I was slowed down considerably here, but the start line is pretty chaotic as it is.

The street is really crowded in that first mile, so I bobbed and weaved as much as I could.  We made a turn right before the finish line and headed out to make a loop around some streets.  We make a turn around Mile 2 and start up a big hill.  It’s not a steep hill, but one of those ongoing hills. It wears you down.  I was also making a point to hydrate early and often.  So, if there was a water stop…you best believe I was taking a cup and drinking some of it before pouring the rest over my head.  Keeping that core temperature down this year.  YES!  Oh…and they had some cooling stations on some of the miles…so I used those too.

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The fight for some running space at the start of the Bluegrass 10,000

I hit the turn around point and got a bit of  a downhill.  And this is where I got a lot of Wonder Woman shout outs from people spectating.  And I got a lot of call-outs by Linda and her pacers as they came up the other side of the road.  Man, that was a booster, even when I started to walk the water stops.  No shame in that on a hot day.  I enjoyed the downhill portions and really appreciated the guy at Mile 5 with a hose who just sprayed me down as I ran past.  It steamed up my sunglasses, but damn…I needed that refreshing hit of cold water.

As I ran past the start line of the race, I could hear the race announcer up the way and was getting pretty excited to finish.  I wasn’t looking for a PR today…and I didn’t get one.  But I gave it all I could at that finish line.  I could hear Cathy screaming at me from the bleachers nearby as I ran past and just got myself across the line.  I stopped my Garmin and took a moment to catch my breath.

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Me with Linda after the Bluegrass 10,000

I made my way over to a table with water and snagged a bottle before heading to the sideline to talk with Cathy, who was heading my way.  Shortly after, Linda came across and I went to chat with her for a little bit.  I stuck around for a few of the pacers to make their way in, but I knew that we had an important date with lunch and then Season 3 of Stranger Things (which had dropped at midnight).  So, I gave Linda a hug and we headed out to get back to our car.

On the way back, we did get to see Melissa and Paul.  Melissa switched with the 15 minute pacer and was getting her group to the finish line in good form.  Cathy tried to take pictures, but they weren’t prepared.  I was happy to have caught them before we left.

We went to Target to kill off some time.  Cathy got us some more coffee and a bit of a

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Finisher of the Bluegrass 10,000

snack before we walked around, killing off time before Bella Notte opened for lunch.  There was SO much Stranger Things stuff.  How I didn’t buy it all…I will never know.  We polished off the coffee and headed over to the mall to walk a little more.  Ducked into a few stores, then finally went to Bella Notte to grab lunch.  I had my usual.  Cathy went with something new and different.  And as our entrees were arriving, Melissa, Paul, Deb and baby arrived.  Melissa came over to chat with us before they ordered, and we stopped by as we were about to head out.  We finished eating.  We stopped in at Half Price Books.  And we mad the drive back home to get through as much of the new season of Stranger Things as we could…because we were working a half day on Friday and gone all weekend.

And we got 6/8 episodes in before we had to call it.  Not bad.

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Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata from Bella Notte in Lexington, KY

I’m not sure if I am more proud of that or how I did in the race this year.  I beat last year’s time by 1 minute, but no distance or course PR this year.  It eludes me again.

My official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 47:40…in the best weather (still humid and hot) that I have had in the 3 years I have run it.  And that’s with walk/water stops.  I was 294/2969 finishers overall.  I was 41/1491 female finishers.  And I was 6/244 in my age division.  I actually was better placed this year (with more finishers in each category)…except for my age group.  I need to get out of my head a bit more and just learn to be a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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Stranger Things Binge Watching Marathon ready!

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Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, OH (April 28, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, Ohio

Race: Mercy Health Glass City Marathon

Place: Toledo, OH

Date: April 28, 2019

Time: 3:38:46

After a really good shakeout run using Glass City’s Savage 5K as just that (and somehow placing in my age group), I spent the rest of Saturday in my hotel room.  Sitting on my bed.  Feet up.  Eating.  Blogging.  Watching television.  Not out walking around Toledo.  Not hanging out at the expo.  Off my feet.  Foam rolling.  Stretching.  All of it.

I was really taking this prep seriously!  I didn’t actually leave the room until about 4 pm…when Cathy and I headed into Toledo to hit up Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery for dinner.  We had looked at a few places in Toledo, but it is so hard to gauge  how safe some places are, and some reviews on places I had been looking at weren’t so good on my Find Me Gluten Free app.  We were going to do my new favorite thing before a major race – sushi…but Toledo’s only safe sushi place only had the a vegetable roll, cucumber roll, or avocado roll for vegan options.  BOOOO!  I am lucky to have Dragon King’s Daughter for my vegan sushi needs in Louisville/New Albany.  As we were driving up to Toledo, my fellow Celiac blogger and Instagram friend, Margaret, was on her way down to Columbus for the Gluten Free Allergy Free Fest and posted about Organic Bliss.  They closed at 5 pm, so we went early and got there to figure out what we wanted for dinner.  And, of course, we would get a box of goodies to go back to the hotel with us.

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My Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich with a Chickpea Salad from Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery in Toledo, Ohio

The people there were very kind and gave us some time to look over the menu, and we finally came to our conclusions…Cathy went ahead and got the BLT with Chips.  And I went with the Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich (avocado, romaine, spinach, tomato, cucumber, black beans, papaya poppyseed dressing).  I got that with a side of the Chickpea Salad.  And then we boxed up some treats: A Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake, an Almond Scone, a Cranberry Orange Scone, a Cinnamon Roll, and the Peanut Butter Quinoa Bar.  We paid and went and took a seat in the corner while meals were prepared and brought out to us.

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All my baked goodies I took back to the hotel with me from Toledo, Ohio

Sandwiches before a race are a good back-up it seems.  And this sandwich was AMAZING.  I loved it.  And the Chickpea Salad was the perfect side.  Got some carbs, protein, healthy fats…perfection.  They were trying to get ready to close, so the floors were being swept and people were coming in for last minute purchases.  We finished up and headed out to go back to the hotel for the night. And you better believe Cathy and I split that Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake for dessert back at the hotel.

I went ahead and posted on my Instagram feed the motivation, the drive, and the reason I was running the following day: my mom.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January, just after the New Year.  It was a shock to my family and one that none of us were prepared for.  Right now, she is going through chemo, keeping her spirits high and her thoughts positive.  What a warrior.  This race, save for a couple of miles, was to honor her.  Mile 1, my roommate claimed.  Mile 26, my friend Natalie claimed,  And Mile 10 was in memory of my friend Tina’s daughter, Kinsley, who died in her sleep at the age of 10 a couple of days before I left for Toledo.  I would carry these honors with me respectively on the race course.

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My mom – she’s a warrior!

I did one last round of stretching and foam rolling while watching Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network…and got an onslaught of uplifiting and motivational gifs from my coach.  I do love my coach.  He has been amazing, even when training went slightly off the rails when I busted up my knees.  The gifs made me laugh.  And he threw in a Game of Thrones reference, so that was winning.  But, soon it was time to turn in for the night.  I set two different alarms.  One for me to get up and take my medicine and use the bathroom…and then go back to bed.  And then one for Cathy…which would be when I would get up and get dressed.  No surprise…I couldn’t sleep well.  And I shut off my first alarm before it even went off.  Tried to climb back into bed and wait for the other alarm, but then my mind wouldn’t shut off.  So, I got up and did my PT stretches for my hips…and then went ahead and started to get ready.  By the time the second alarm went off, I was pretty much dressed and ready to head out the door.  So, while Cathy got ready, I started prepping my hydration vest bladder with 1 liter of water, grabbed my Maurten gels to use as additional fuel on the run, and put on my clothes I would shed prior to the race.

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Race day ready!!

Because up in Toledo…it was 41 degrees on race morning, but with the windchill, it was in the real feel was in the low 30s.  They had been predicting snow…but thankfully that didn’t happen.  I had, thankfully, packed some clothes that I could wear over my race gear (and a back up short sleeve shirt since a tank top was the original plan for this race), so I felt like I was good in the wardrobe department.  I was glad I had the clothing to give to Cathy before I got into the corral, because I was cold in that wind.

We left the hotel early.  Like 5:45-ish early.  And we made the 20 minute drive to the University of Toledo, where we found a lot to park in.  And then…then was the walk to the start.  It was slightly drizzly, but Cathy had purchased some trash bags at Kroger so, we both donned them and set out down the sidewalk to get to the start.  It was a pretty big walk, but it was a good way to warm up for sure.  If you know Cathy’s history with directions, you will understand that I kept checking with her to make sure that she was on track to getting us to the start line, especially when random runners who were walking near us would veer off and we’d continue on…into the land of empty sidewalks and roads.  But, we turned at an intersection and I could hear the tunes of the start line, and they just so happened to be playing my theme song for this year, Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.”  It was a good sign.

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This was not the start line that I expected for a spring marathon. Wet, cold and windy!

We went to find a spot for Cathy to stand for the start of the race and just sort of made that base camp.  I stood behind her to break her from the wind.  We took a few photos.  I looked miserable.  I was miserable.  Spring marathons were not meant to be spent freezing.  At least, not in my opinion.  I drank my bottle of UCAN with 30 minutes to go and eventually, with about 10, shed my extra layers, save the trash bag, got a hug from Cathy, and headed to Corral B.

It was here in Corral B that I set out on my mission to find the 3;35 pacers.  The Web site had two of them listed, but as I hunted for the tiny yellow signs the marathon pacers held, I just couldn’t find any in my corral.  So, I went up to one of the half marathon pacers and asked him where the marathon pacers were.  He said that they should be in here…and asked which group I was looking for.  I said, “The 3:35.”  And he told me that there was no 3:35, only 3:30 and 3:40 and to find and line up with the 3:40 so that I start slow.  I was determined not to melt down or let this mentally get to me.  The National Anthem was about to be sung, and after that, I gave one last look around my corral for pacers….shed my trash bag, and decided I was going to have to pace myself this time.

That’s a scary thought  right?  But that was how it was going to be.  Corral took off and I saw the bobbing of the yellow pacer signs up there.  So…one more chance to check for them in my corral.  No luck.  None.  Deep breath. We were moved up toward the start line.  Waited two minutes.  And then…we were off.

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Just before Mile 4 in the Glass City Marathon

I reeled it in immediately.  Normally that race start is intense and the adrenaline is rushing and you just GO.  You bolt it out and find some space, but it uses up valuable energy, and I had been given a plan to follow, and while I couldn’t see the first 5 miles through with the pacer as the plan said, I wasn’t going to blow it up by going out too fast too soon.  I could hold it together and hold back.  Five miles.  I had this.  My coach wanted me to be around an 8:12-8:10 pace for these miles.  I did the best I could, and while a few of them were slightly fast, the last two were just slightly slower (not by much) than that pace.  Just before Mile 4, Cathy had found a spot on the side of the road to cheer. It was amazing.  Cowbell and all with a crowd.  I will say this, for being a smaller race, I never felt like I wasn’t supported out there.  Going into Mile 4 was a huge example of this.  Lots of people, even in the damp cold, just there to cheer on the runners.  It was great.

From Mile 6-15, I was supposed to maintain a slightly faster pace, not sprinting, not going too fast, but hitting those high 8’s.  And I managed this.  Holy crap, I was doing it.  And I felt good.  I didn’t feel like I needed anything, and technically with UCAN, I didn’t…but I didn’t want to run out of steam, and I have always been told to fuel early and often.  So, I took my first Maurten gel at Mile 6. Here we were guided through some neighborhoods, and people were down at the end of their driveways cheering.  Our bibs had names on them, so they would shout out your name and some encouragement as you went by.  Loved that.  While big races are all fine and good, this was the feel of a big race without all that big race stuff.

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Me heading into the finish line of the Glass City Marathon

It was actually just before Mile 10 that the half and the full marathons split.  This was clearly marked with big gates for the runners to go through.  The half marathon runners turned left, while we continued on.  This did bring the number of people around down some.  But, again, I never, ever felt like I was running alone.  At Mile 10, I fueled again (remember, early and often) and then I did give a point up to the sky and said Kinsley’s name.  She gave me some wings on that mile.

It is just before Mile 11 that the marathon course enters Wildwood Preserve Metropark.  We would actually run through this park twice on the course, but, trust me, it didn’t really feel repetitive.  The open streets we had been running on narrowed to a running/biking path, but it was paved and beautiful.  There were race volunteers out there, handing out water at the two water stops that were inside the park.  There was a band playing as well at some point.  On the first pass through the park, somewhere after Mile 12, we are sent to the right to run out onto the streets again.  I fueled again at Mile 14, and pressed on, still feeling strong and confident.  It was somewhere in Mile 16 that I caught up with the 3:40 pacers.

WHAT?!

Yep…the 3:40 pacer.  I shook this off, figuring that it was fine.  The problem was, I joined up with them as we were sent to run on the shoulder of a road, and in a pace group, that made for some tight, tight quarters.  This made my split at this mile much slower than I would have liked, but I was afraid of clipping runners ahead of me, or being clipped by runners near me.  This happened twice, if you recall, when I started with a pace group at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon back in November.  When I had an opening, I did pass and get ahead, able to stretch my legs back out and pick it back up.  I didn’t panic.  Not at all.  I just found my own pace again and was happy to not be in that pack anymore.  I had some breathing room and it took that anxiety away.  I fueled again at Mile 18 and just kept on going.

Just before Mile 20, we re-enter the park again, from a different entrance and make our way back through that path.  It was here that we have to navigate a small bit of an incline.  And it was here, that my legs slowed down and just wouldn’t pick it back up.  The final 10K…where I wanted to just maintain and keep going strong.  A tiny little bump in the elevation took the speed away from me.  I felt like I was picking it back up, but I wasn’t.  I truly wasn’t.  This time as we go to exit, if it’s your second loop, you turn left, and now you’re heading back out toward the university.  I still felt good, I just couldn’t find any sort of speed at this point.  We are still on this paved trail, and runners were scattered, but we were strong.  The 3:40 pacer passed me again.  And I didn’t fret or sweat it.  I did shed my gloves around Mile 22.  My hands were getting really hot finally.  And I was close.  I also took my last gel at this point.  Fuel for the final four miles.

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Me crossing the finish line of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, Ohio

There were some really perky and happy ladies running a friend in for his last few miles, who were fresh and really uplifting.  It was nice that they came by me because they definitely helpful in that stretch.  Around Mile 25, you can pretty much see the school.  You know that finish line is on the field of the football stadium, and you know…you really are almost there.  People are cheering.  Shouting your name.  Encouraging you.  Telling you how good you look.  How fast you look.  That you’re doing amazing.  I still felt good.  I still felt confident and strong.  I knew I wasn’t getting the BQ I had been training for, but I hadn’t glanced at clocks or my watch for time…just my pace.  I never peeked at it if it wasn’t buzzing at me for a mile lap.  I hit the turns to take the chute into the 26th mile…and then it was on to the stadium.  The crowd was amazing.  Loud.  Screaming.  I saw Cathy as my name was announced and I kicked as much as I could toward that finish line.  Crossing it…with my hands up.  I paused my Garmin and took a look at the time.

3:38.

I was just off of my BQ time by 3 minutes and off my goal time by 5 minutes.  I was so close.  I didn’t get my goal, but I was incredibly happy and proud.  I hadn’t hit the 3:30’s in a marathon since 2013, where I did it twice.  Both BQ times.  I was elated.  I cried.  Cathy came over after I got my Mylar and my medal and gave me a hug.  I told her I needed to put my feet up so we went over to the field and I laid down in the sunlight and propped my legs up on her.

Eventually, I decided that I did, in fact, need to move.  So, we headed out of the stadium to the runner finish area.  Here we collected my commemorative glass mug (you get it upon finishing), and went to the food tent.  I couldn’t eat anything, but poor Cathy was starving so she had my beer and pizza tickets, so I let her claim those.  I was feeling lightheaded, so I went to sit down and shiver in my Mylar.

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My Spicy Ginger Tofu & Ancient Grains bowl from Corelife Eatery

Cathy and just shown up when my Instagram friend, Scooby (who had a fantastic day as the 3:15 pacer) wandered by.  I called him over and we chatted for a minute, but he had just snagged some pizza and I didn’t want it to get cold…so we congratulated each other and I let him go.  Cathy had two beers to try.  The first one she hated, the other one she sipped on until I decided I was ready to go get warm with a hot shower at the hotel while she went to get me some coffee from Bigbee Coffee.  The walk to the car felt longer than it probably was, mostly because my body was tired and a little sore from the effort that day.  I eventually foam rolled, stretched, and went to get dinner at Corelife Eatery before seeing Avengers: Endgame that night (the theater was advertised as having reclining seats – it didn’t…and by the end, I knew I had made a big mistake).  It was a good day, and I am still basking in my accomplishment.  I think, next time, I’ll get it.

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Nothing is impossible.  Keep on dreaming!  Glass City Marathon Finisher!!

So, the official results of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon are that I finished in 3:38:46, making it officially my third fastest marathon and the first one back in the 3:30s since 2013.  HOLLA!  Stoked.  I was 408/1278 finishers overall.  I was 108/527 female finishes.  And I was 30/96 in my age group!  How amazing is that.  I felt good and strong the entire time, never letting any self-doubt or negative talk enter my head.  I was focused on the race at hand and the people I was running it to honor.  Marathon #15…done.  Now to find the perfect fall marathon to make the next attempt on that Boston Qualifying dream.

Remember…training rarely is linear…race day can throw so many factors at you…trust the process and remain focused on your own race that day.  You never know what you are capable of until you try.