Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #12

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWell, originally, this week was going to be a down week.  Extra recovery.  Because I raced pretty hard last Sunday.  BUT…I reminded my coach that I was leaving the following week for a cruise and a Disney World venture…so, he shifted weeks and had this one be a bit of recovery, but keeping one day of speed work and shifting my third (and maybe last? Maybe not?) 20 miler to this weekend.  Whew.

I won’t lie, my legs felt pretty flat for most of this week.  And the heat and humidity returned…which also sucked.  I know hot training days equal cool, fast, amazing fall marathons.  But it’s still tough and I’m not always the best at adjusting expectations.

This week…I adjusted expectations because speed work morning was close to 80 degrees long before the sun came up.  So, it was a challenging, and it really didn’t go to plan at all (save for the first mile, but more on that later)…but for the first time, I didn’t beat myself up over it.  I let it be what it was that day.  And I moved on.

So…let’s hit up this week, shall we?

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.

It was the morning after the Downtown Doubler and I was relieved he set this as an easy, recovery run.  Short and sweet too.  Whew.  I hardly slept Sunday night leading into Monday morning.  My left hamstring was still tight from the race, despite having stretched and foam rolled.  Mostly, I was tired.  So my heart rate stayed VERY low and my pace was just where I felt it needed to be.  I had my watch covered and never once even looked at what I was running.  In the end, I managed 4 miles, my usual recovery run right now, and called it a day.  I did go ahead and do my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning stretches.  Because I had a hard race, my personal training session was cancelled for the additional time to recover.  And I did do that extra foam rolling to help with that hamstring.  Guess what?  It worked.

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

I had gone to bed early and managed some better sleep.  Oh, and the hamstring definitely felt better.  Much better.  But my legs still felt flat on this run.  I took it easy, but it felt harder than it should have been.  And I actually checked my pace at the end of the run, and it was a pace that shouldn’t have felt that hard.  I wasn’t running great at the moment.  It happens, right?  Heavy legs don’t last forever, right?  I pushed the strides, but they didn’t feel as fast as I could usually run either.  I let it be what it was for the day.  Did my morning stretches and tossed in the extra hip strengtheners as well.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TEMPO RUN – 1 MILE WU; 3X2 MILES AT TEMPO (7:20-7:50) W/ 0.5 MILES RECOVERY; 1 MILE CD

Like I said…it was 80 degrees before the sun came up.  The humidity was not fun either.  In fact, it made the real feel close to 85 degrees.  Isn’t it September?  I don’t want winter, by any means, but some cooler mornings (not cold, cool) would be nice. I went through my warmup and it felt…hard.  UGH.  Not a good start.  But I told myself that I was going to just push hard and use the recovery to…well…recover.  I managed to hit the actual tempo pace ONCE in the entire workout.  The FIRST mile.  That was a 7:32…from there…it went off the rails.  7:52, 7:52, 7:58, 8:02, 7:57.  Recovery got slower each time too with one of them in the 9s.  It wasn’t a good morning for speed work…but I did put in the effort and that meant I was actually okay with it.  I met with Corey that afternoon for a killer core workout.  I say that because my abs were actually sore through Saturday.  How’s that for some personal training growth?

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

I kept the going to bed early thing going because I had some early wakeup calls.  When the runs get longer, the bedtimes get earlier because the wakeup times get earlier.  The air was thick and humid again, but the legs were actually starting to get some pep in their step.  So, while it still wasn’t where I wanted the easy run to be, feeling-wise, it felt better.  And my strides, still slower than I know I can push them, didn’t feel as daunting today.  I fit in my stretches and foam rolling right after work, because I was cooking up a special dinner to have with friends before we left on vacation.  They were bringing their adorable baby over and I was making Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts for everyone.  It was a fun night and…a late one for me…but worth every moment.

Friday: REST DAY!

Because of the later night, I slept in as long as I could before needing to get up, shower, and do my stretching.  It was a crazy-busy day at work, but it was also Favorite T-Shirt Day.  My co-worker, Kayla, gifted me with a Murderino t-shirt and I had to wear it ASAP!  It’s my new favorite.  For those of you who listen to the My Favorite Murder podcast…you know.  I had a hair appointment that night, and Lauren not only cut my hair back up…and then French braided it.  From there, a late night dinner of my “magic sushi” at Dragon King’s Daughter.  It had to happen.  I had that 20 miler staring me down on Saturday morning.  I went home, stretched, foam rolled, and immediately called it a night.  I had an early morning, because I was starting before the sun came up.

Saturday: LONG RUN: 17-20 MILES – GOAL 19 MILES – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT!  AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY

I got up 2 hours and 15 minutes before I’d have to leave for my long run.  I took my vitamins, drank 20 ounces of water, ate my overnight oats, stretched, did 50 pushups (I do this daily), fueled again with my Maurten 320, put on sunscreen, filled my hydration pack with 40 ounces of water with my Nuun tablets in them, and prepared to hit the road.  I left at 6:40 am and ran the first 5 miles of my 20 miler on my own.  I met up with Ron to run the Greenway (if you haven’t run it…DO IT).  He did just over 11 miles with me.  And they were great.  We talked the entire time, had some shade in spots, and then…were blocked by a train.  Just like after the Downtown Doubler.  REALLY!?  We did manage to run the flood wall and get across the tracks before the train started up again and we ran back to his car.  Here we parted ways and I did the final four miles back to the apartment.  From there, I showered, ate breakfast, went to run some errands, picked up some pho and spring rolls for my friend Natalie, visited with her while she gave me (my favorite) homemade birthday present.  Who else LOVES homemade gifts?  Then we finished up our errands, came home to eat dinner, PACK…because we hadn’t packed yet…and then watched Inside Out.  I was a lot for just one day…but I think we are mostly ready for our trip.

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 3-4 MILES EASY/RECOVERY RUN.  SLOW!!

No real time for an early bedtime.  Not with everything that needed to happen.  But I got up with enough time to fit in my 4 miles, a shower, and breakfast.  Stretching and foam rolling would have to wait for the time being.  We had an early flight to catch.

And now…vacation mode.  This was supposed to be a trip where training didn’t have to happen (because I’d be in recovery from the Erie Marathon).  I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason.  So, while I do have to train on this trip…and have two back-to-back mid-distance runs…at least I’ll relax and enjoy my time away.  Deep breaths.

Should be an interesting week…

Also…8 weeks out!

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Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #10

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornHoly crap, you guys!!  Can you believe that it’s been 10 weeks of training?  It feels like I’ve been doing this for 2 straight years.  Oh…wait…I haven’t stopped marathon training since I started training for Dopey 2018…which means…September 2017.

That’s two years of, dare I say it, injury-free training.  I mean, yeah…I fell down 3 times, but those were bruises, scrapes and just some minor inflammation.  My training has become smarter, more challenging, a bit more demanding at times…but for 2 years, I have been chasing a time goal and I’m finally ready to hit the mark.

We inch closer.  In fact, next week would have been the marathon I was going to run to attempt a 2020 BQ before changing it over to 2021.  And while its still early, the current temps for Erie look PERFECT.  I will NOT be bitter.

So, let’s jump into this week of training, shall we?

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

That’s right.  My usual Monday run.  I had heard rumors that we were supposed to have some cooler mornings.  This was not one of them.  It was around 73 degrees.  I wasn’t loving that.  But…it was just an easy, recovery run.  But, it was also supposed to start raining.  With no thunder or lightning on, and the rain light…I just went for it.  Easy pace.  My left hip flexor was still niggling at me from my Thursday treadmill run.  MEH. It didn’t bother me while running though.  I actually, because I run with my watch covered, lost track of my mileage and went one extra mile.  That was not intentional.  But, hey, the easy pace and the misty rain actually felt good so I wasn’t mad at it.  8 miles to start off the week.  I did my extra hip strengthening exercises with my stretches.  And then I met with Corey for a TON of fresh hell training moves that included box jumps.  Box. Jumps.  This girl isn’t much of a jumper.  But, he got me through it all.

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

Another morning in the low 70s.  MEH.  And I felt like the humidity was back in full swing too.  Oh, and a chance for rain was back as well.  I hate wearing a hat, and here I am starting off my week with a hat on my head to attempt to keep that rain off my face.  I don’t think it even rained at during the time I was out there.  This was the same distance as Monday, but I fell into stride easier.  I felt better rested.  My hip flexor felt a little better.   I ended up with 7.5 easy miles…then got to blast out 0.6 miles of strides.  My first one felt a little stiff, but my legs got moving after that and I managed some 5:00 paces.  LOVE THAT!!  I love it when my legs cooperate with me.   And I felt good afterwards.  But whenever my coach throws strides at me, that means speed work is coming.  And you know…with only one day during the week, that means the weekend holds some paced runs.  OY!  But Tuesday went well, and I fit in the second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.

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

 If you are new to my blog, you might not be familiar with Mona Fartleks.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t either until I started working with Daniel, my coach.  They 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.  Of all the speed work that I can get assigned during the week, this one is my absolute favorite to do.  I don’t know why.  The intervals work out to be just over 3 miles.  In the end, I end up with 7 miles total.  That being said, my first push felt a little off.  But I soon found my stride, and while it did feel a bit harder this week, I ended up having one of my better attempts at this workout.  The humidity in the air that early in the morning did make that 1 mile push a bit of a struggle.  I finished it up and was thankful to have those cool down miles to reign it in and just polish up the workout.  I was happy with this.  I met with Corey again for my personal training session and he had me working those “fast twitch” muscles.  It was pure hell.  But I made him laugh a few times.  WINNING!

Thursday: 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.

You are correct, my fellow readers…this is usually my Wednesday run.  But, as I told you…my weekend is pretty stacked as far as long run and workouts go.  So I had an early session and my usual do whatever you want however you feel run…moved to Thursday.  I slept in an extra 30 minutes.  It was glorious.  It was also 57 beautiful degrees this morning.  That, too, was glorious. I loved it.  I loved how good it felt.  My easy pace was actually faster than I thought I was moving.  I loved finding that out at the end too.  I was just going with the flow.  Breathing.  Letting my legs do what they felt while not working too hard.  After all, recovery was still the most important part of this run.  I honestly could have run further.  Longer.  And I would have still felt great.  But I knew I needed to really just get this body recovered for the weekend.  So, I did my usual 4 miles.  My quads were feeling that training with Corey from the day before…so I figured not to press my luck.  But, damn…it felt amazing out there.

Friday:  You know the drill by now.  Friday’s are made for rest.  Friday’s are made for sleeping in.  Friday’s are made for reading.  Stretching.  Eating well.  Getting to bed early.  Except that early bedtime wasn’t happening this time.  After a relaxing morning, and getting through the day at the office…it was the last of the weirdly timed Louisville City FC soccer matches.  Friday night.  MEH.  But, I will show up and cheer and hopefully get enough sleep before attempting my first of 2 paced long runs this weekend.  And for the record…we tied in the soccer match.  It was scrappy.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11 – 13 MILES WITH 3 MILE FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END

I thought I had this one planned out perfectly.  Mindless and a bit challenging throughout, even with the fast finish at the end.  There is a race that does a 5 mile loop near where I live, so I set out to run that twice, and then run fast down the street to the halfway point (this involves some rollers) and then back up (same rollers) to finish it out.  But, what I didn’t count on was that the community park I’d run through would be having some paving done.  Thus, it cut my first loop short at 3.3 miles into the run.  Adjust.  I turned around and ran back the way I came, then set out to run the parking lots at the university before heading back toward my home with the fast finish.  This actually was a perfect morning for running.  It was 71 degrees to start, but there was a lot of cloud cover and a nice breeze.  The fast finish was miscalculated and I needed some extra, so I turned down a nearby road, and into lines of cars from a yard sale going on.  Extra level of difficulty.  I got out of there, made a loop and finished up in the parking lot at my apartments.  I successfully got it done.  My fast finish got a bit faster with each mile, so that’s a win.  Even with the rollers, the hill, and the cars.  Pretty happy with how this one turned out.  It was a perfect morning for a run.  Then, I got to go hang with my friend, Laura, and grab (magic) sushi for dinner.  Setting up for my next challenge the following morning.

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 1 MILE WU; 3X4 MILES MP; 1 MILE FAST FINISH; 1 MILE CD – TAKE 2-4 MINUTES BASE PACE/RECOVERY BETWEEN SETS AT MARATHON PACE

Seriously, my coach must be trying to kill me.  This is the 5th time he has thrown this workout at me…and this time he added some fresh hell.  The one mile fast finish before the cool down.  OY!!  Thankfully, my friend Ron was feeling the need to be tortured for a little while and said he’d give this workout a try this morning.  We met up at The Parklands and got started after I had a Facetime with a friend of mine who is in the hospital.  I hope to go see her tomorrow and bring her some good vibes and love.  This run was definitely for her.  We started off with an easy warmup and then hit the first set of marathon paces.  He was really good at reining me back when I picked up too fast and after the first interval, he said he felt good enough to go to the turnaround point with me.  So, we started the next interval and made it to the turnaround and was able to hit it once more.  With the sun creeping higher, he warned me that he might fall back on these last intervals.  We started them up, and on a hill, I went and he didn’t.  But he did VERY well running those paces with me and I was so happy to have the distraction.  I turned around at the parking lot to head back out for the last interval, recovery, and fast finish before my cool down.  I turned around at the halfway point. Overall, this run got me a total of 16.75 for the day.  Whew.  It was a hard weekend but I came through it, and definitely NAILED this workout this time.  I am thankful to have the assist from Ron.  It was a HUGE help!

With the labor day weekend upon us, I am totally looking forward to Sunday evening with my friends, Melissa & Paul (and Carrick by default).  We have a tradition of cookouts and just enjoying these long weekends together.  A year ago we were in Hawaii together getting ready to run the Kauai Half Marathon.  And then, tomorrow, off to go visit my friend in the hospital.  Busy weekend.  But I love my friends and love having time with them…under very different circumstances.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, loves!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #8

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornGuys…it has been a week.  A crazy, unpredictable week.  And here I am, trying to plan how to work training in while I am gone over my birthday weekend and it’s just a little overwhelming and stressful.

I went into this week with a little bit of trepidation.  Not over what I needed to do during the week.  Nope.  The weekend.  The weekend was what was truly weighing on my mind.  Why? Because it is the series of workouts that I have yet to actually execute perfectly or near perfectly.  The heat/humidity has killed me the past three…yes THREE…times I have attempted this.  And this weekend was shaping up to be…you guessed it…both hot and humid.

So…let the slog being!

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

Covering my watch has definitely become my new normal.  So if you know of anywhere where I can buy cute/fun wristbands to go over my Garmin…clue me in.  I want to stock up.  Since this was an easy run, I decided to try out the Aftershokz Bone Conducting Headphones out.  What I do love about these is that they don’t go into the ears…so you can still be fully aware of the world around you.  That’s perfect for me.  I’m not going to make a habit out of running with music…but I might pull these out for my speed work on Sunday…just to see if it gets me out of my head.  My recovery miles were definitely a little faster than they needed to be, but I felt really relaxed and good the entire run.  Later that day I met with Corey for my personal training session.  And he kicked my butt with some dynamic exercises to activate the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core.  I love/hate core exercises.  I love a good strong core…the exercises just aren’t always fun.  I went ahead today and did my bonus hip strengthener exercises with my usual stretches as well.  Busy day.

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

I woke up early this morning.  I was having trouble sleeping.  It was speed work day…and I always have a little bit of anxiety going into speed work morning.  But, I put in my contacts, got dressed, and was in the kitchen, eating something to give me some energy, while I hydrated a little and filled up my hydration pack when my Weather Channel app pinged and said thunderstorms with strong winds were coming my way.  I gave it a quick moment of thought and decided that I could beat it.  I rushed out the door and quickly started my watch.  And only 0.15 miles into the planned 8 for that morning, the sky started to light up with lightning.  Frustrated, I ran back to the apartment and decided to see if it passed over while I did my stretches and additional hip strengtheners again.  It thundered while I was doing that, so I decided I was just going to have to switch my speed work day with my Thursday easy run.  I wasn’t happy about it…but it was how it had to go this time.  I thought about waiting and running on the track that night…but it was going to be in the mid-90s and there were more chances for storms.  Not going to take chances, I went to the gym…despite there being no rain, thunder, or lightning happening when I went to my car.  I hopped on a treadmill, once again using my Aftershokz to get the tunes going (I can’t do a treadmill without music.  EVER!  I can run outside (and prefer to) without music and go forever).  And I did easy miles on the treadmill for just over an hour.  Total of 7 miles, just like Monday.  The same workout, two days in a row.  One on pavement.  One on a treadmill.  I knew I would feel that treadmill on Wednesday…so I was thankful it was another easy day.  Was I stacking this week against me or what?

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.

Same run as last week.  Same instructions.  Third week in a row.  Spin wasn’t given as an option, but I went anyway.  It really makes me so happy…helps me with endurance…and I get in a mentally tough place fighting for sprints and on climbs.  I like to think it carries over to running when it gets tough.  So, kept a VERY easy pace on my run, then hopped in the car to head to the gym again…this time for the Endurance Ride Spin Class.  One hour and a lot of sweat later, my legs felt really good.  Spin class always seems to take the heaviness out of my legs.  Another reason I love going so much.

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

I woke up so many times the night leading into this rescheduled speed work.  I really, really was wishing this was done earlier in the week and I could just run easy today.  But…nope.  Speed work HAS to happen.  And I needed to give it my best.  I just didn’t WANT to.  Typical.  So…this week I did the usual Mona Fartlek workout.  The difference was, right after the 15 second round, I was to go immediately into a hard effort mile before my cool down.  I was toast in the mile.  It was tough.  I did my best to tough it out, but the humidity was weighing me down.  I hate when it’s humid enough to make it hard to breathe.  UGH.  But…I did it.  I got it done.  My workout was simple: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4×60 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.  They were hard this morning.  And this is really the only speed work I actually enjoy doing.  I didn’t hate this…but I was very happy to be done with it.

Friday: Per the usual…complete rest day.  Sleep in.  Shower.  Stretch.  Read.  Drink coffee.  Head into work.  The usual.  I was also having a checkup with my eye doctor just to see how the contacts were working.  Guess what…LOVE THEM!  I have a busy weekend planned, so tried to do as much prep work in advance as I could the night before.  So, insanity…but hopefully these legs will appreciate the extra TLC, foam rolling, stretches and rest because I really NEED the weekend runs to go well.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: 9 – 12 MILES WITH 2 MILE FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END

Fast finishes are one of my least favorite things.  While I am usually very good about keeping my regular pace during the run easy, I still somehow struggle more than I should with fast finishes.  With one of my running buddies opting to sleep in, I met up with Ron on my side of the river where we ran the Greenway early to try to beat some of the summer morning heat.  Once that sun comes up…struggle bus.  But we actually kept a pretty steady, regular pace to our turnaround and then barely slowed down on the return.  Then, my fast finish was done running to the local coffee shop 2 miles away.  My roommate was meeting me there for iced coffee and Ron joined us for some rest and relaxation while we drank coffee and discussed races in states and why to do or not do certain ones.  After that, I headed home to shower and change because Cathy and I were meeting our friend Michelle and heading to Turtle Run Winery for a girls day out.  I was the designated driver due to my workout on Sunday morning, so I basically had half of a glass of wine total over the 3+ hours we were hanging there.  It was a really fun day.  After a stop off for dinner for Cathy & Michelle at a local favorite spot (nothing there I can really eat), we went to let Amanda & Richie’s pitt bull puppies out to play before taking Michelle home, calling in my order for magical sushi (it’s becoming a pre-long run favorite) for a VERY late dinner.  I ate at 8:30 pm.  REALLY late for me.  And then I went to get ready for bed…because I had an early wakeup the following morning.

SUNDAY: INSTRUCTIONS: 1 MILE WU; 3X4 MILES MP; 1 MILE CD – TAKE 2-4 MINUTES BASE PACE/RECOVERY BETWEEN SETS AT MARATHON PACE

Honestly, this is the workout I dread.  Anytime it pops up on my training plan it makes me die a little inside.  Why?  Because I have NEVER been able to actually do it properly.  AND…on top of that, one of my best friends was doing her first triathlon and wanted me to come spectate and cheer.  This meant an early morning so I could start with enough time to hopefully make it from Indiana to Kentucky and not miss her finish.  I knew I wouldn’t make her start…I probably could have seen her bike to run transition, but I didn’t know where she was when I got down there.  But my run…it was the best attempt I have had yet.  While it wasn’t perfect, especially in the last 2 miles, which were a HUGE struggle bus because it was hotter and the sun was up, and there was no shade to be had.  But…I executed this run better than I have in the past.  I even got a high five from a biker as I was on the greenway, heading from Indiana into Kentucky.  Amazing.  My marathon paces were pretty accurate, even with hills.  My biggest problem today was the extra fuel I carry to take at Mile 8…leaked.  And it was halfway gone by the time I hit Mile 5.  So, it became a use it or lose it decision so I took it 3 miles early.  I don’t think it made too much of a difference, but I was really ready to be done once that sun got higher.  It heated up really quickly today.  But, I did manage to hit the paces with few to little stops.  And, I was at the finish line to cheer in my friend, give her a hug, and hang out for a bit before heading out to do all the grocery shopping we still had left to do.  It worked out to 15.6 miles when all was said and done.

Let me tell you…I’m tired.  And my schedule for next week isn’t playing around.  So…rest is going to be key for me this coming week.  Wish me luck on that.  Also…my coach and his wife just welcomed their third child.  Exciting times.  He warned all of us he coaches that he might not get schedules posted by Sunday night, but he actually had them to me before 3 pm.  Amazing.  And also…trying not to panic over the speed work that he assigned this time around.

Killer.

For now, I keep hoping for this heat to let up…just a little.

OH…AND WE ARE 12 WEEKS OUT.

No wonder I’m tired…

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #6

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornI was frustrated last week.  I was run down, burnt out, and just down on myself and my performance.  I feel like I’m always making excuses (it doesn’t matter how true they are…it’s just how it seems to come across).  Yes…I worked really hard in an Extreme Heat Warning…and clawed my way through two workouts that included some speed work.  And at the beginning of the week last week…my body said…”ENOUGH!”  And it was a huge struggle.  The worst part is when my body can’t do something physically, it mentally rips me apart.  I’m not good at dealing with things going wrong.  I’m not good at feeling like I’m not living up to my potential.

I am my worst critic.  I am very hard on myself.  And I know this.  It comes with the territory of being a Type A Virgo.  Perfection is all I know.  So, when things skew off the line…well…I pretty much beat myself up over it for a long time.

Well, my coach…I LOVE MY COACH…noticed this downward trend.  And when he sent me through my plan for this week, he assigned me 0 miles.  All I had were guidelines.  The distance, and most of the paces were up to me.  This…was the RESET WEEK.  I have never felt better for an entire week of runs than this week.  This was exactly what I needed to regain a bit of confidence in my abilities, the process, and learn to have some fun along the way.

My coach, Daniel, may be the smartest coach in the history of…ever.  So, let’s dive into this week, shall we?

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – COVER YOUR WATCH OR DON’T WEAR IT!

I discovered something last week when I did my tempo repeats on Thursday…if I covered my watch, I wasn’t stressing as much over pace.  I couldn’t judge it.  It was what it was…and it actually was good when I uploaded the data.  Right on target, even.  When I run tempo or speed with the watch uncovered…all I do is stress and get wound up.  This covering the watch thing…this works for me.  I have a little Nike sweat band that I got once to cover up my Garmin during The Color Run…and I dug it out again this week to wear…EVERY DAY…because this week was up to me.  I held my usual base pace  and smiled…a whole heap!  I ended up doing a full 7 miles at base pace and probably could have kept going, but I had other things happening that day.  So I fit in my additional hip strengthening exercises and met with Corey as well for my personal training session.  It was the perfect way to kick off the week.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: ANGRY RUN – THIS IS THE “GET MAD” RUN. LET YOUR FRUSTRATIONS, STRESSES, ANGER, FEAS, AND ALL OF IT COME OUT. BE MAD ABOUT ERIE. STOP AND CRY IF YOU NEED TO. RUN FAST IF YOU NEED TO. GO FIND SOMETHING TO PUNCH (I liked that part, LOL). DON’T RUN FROM YOUR FEELINGS – INVINTE THEM AND RUN THROUGH THEM. THIS IS THE RUN YOU GET TO HAVE ALL OF WHAT YOU’VE BEEN FEELING.  THIS IS ALSO THE RUN WHERE YOU LET ALL THAT GO. IT MIGHT BE FUN OR IT MIGHT SUCK. IT IS WHAT IT IS. DO IT. THEN WAKE UP TOMORROW A NEW RUNNER WITH A NEW MIDSET AND NEW APPROACH LEAVING ALL THIS CRAP BEHIND.

Deep breath, friends.  Because this run…this was actual therapy.  I decided to actually run this as if it were an actual temper tantrum of fit.  So, I headed out and did the first 2 miles as a warm up.  Because every good tantrum starts with a build-up.  After that, I ran quick fartleks each mile for 5 miles…using each mile to symbolize some stress, frustration, or part of my life that has been holding me back: cancer, my fall race debacle messing up a ton of my plans, friends who aren’t taking care of themselves, work, myself…and maybe a few other things that got worked in halfway through each mile.  It sucks when you don’t like how you feel because people make and actions and yourself make you feel like less of a person.  This run helped me work through that.  And I rounded it off with 2+ miles cool down…because every fit of anger and tantrum ends with a cooling down period.  I basically did a 15K that morning.  And I needed that.

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.

Even with the permission to go longer, I actually made this a short, base pace, recovery run.  I did wear my watch, but as with the two previous mornings, I covered it and just ran comfortably.  I had the same pace as Monday when all was said and done…and was happy to keep it short and easy.  I stopped at 4 miles.  But they were 4 wonderful miles. I then decided that since I had the time, and Thursday’s run was up to me, I could FINALLY return to a Wednesday morning spin class.  I was SO happy being back in Michelle’s class.  Spin class is therapy for me.  It’s hard work, it’s challenging, but it’s a great non-impact way to get some more endurance in.  And since Wednesday is always Endurance Ride Wednesday…it’s my favorite.  I met with Corey later that afternoon for personal training.  We had to change up the original plan as he snapped the resistance band.  It involved a lot of squats.  Because he’s evil.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: FUN RUN – PICK OUT YOUR FAVORITE WORKOUT…COULD BE ONE I’VE GIVEN YOU, ANOTHER COACH, YOUR FAVORITE FROM 5 YEARS AGO. IT CAN BE A WORKOUT GEARED FOR 5KS OR 10KS OR A MARATHON. WHATEVER YOU WANT – RUN IT!

I have never liked, loved, or enjoyed speed workouts.  Ever.  Not ever.  Not in the history of EVER.  So I was really stumped on this one.  But, when all was said and done and I headed out (watch covered) that morning, I set myself up to run Mona Fartleks. Daniel got me hooked on these from the first time he assigned them.  They’re actually kind of fun, and still challenging at the same time.  The basics: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4×60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 2 mile cool down.  Got it done, putting in 7 speedy miles that morning.  Then I worked in the 2nd day of the additional hip strengthening exercises to my physical therapy stretches I do every morning.

FRIDAY: Always a rest day.  I slept in.  I took a shower.  I stretched.  I finished off the My Favorite Murder book, “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered.”  I went to work.  I cooked.  I ate food.  I let my body recharge.  I watched “Designated Survivor” and then went to bed just after 8 pm.  I set an alarm so I could get up, stretch, put on sunscreen, and head out early for my long run…of no set distance.

SATURDAY: INSTRUCTIONS: RUN IN YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO RUN! WATCH IS ALLOWED, BUT TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS AND PROMISE YOURSELF NOT TO LOOK AT IT ANY MORE THAN 1 TIME EVERY 2-3 MILES. 10-20 MILES…I REALLY DON’T CARE!

I got up early and had a small bite to eat.  I stretched while I hydrated.  I lathered myself up in sunscreen.  I tied on my new Adidas Boston Boosts.  I fixed up my nutrition.  Anyone else loving Maurten?  I drank down the Maurten 320 Drink Mix and packed one of the Maurten 100 Gels to take with me.  Maurten has worked wonders for me.  No energy crashes.  No stomach problems.  It’s brilliant.  And I have had 2 very energetic and great long runs using it.  I’m sold.  So if any local peeps want my barely used container of UCan…let me know.  I didn’t know how far I’d run that morning.  I covered my watch.  I did a short warmup mile before hitting the actual roads and just letting myself go.  I told my roommate that I may have to call her to come get me if I decide I’m done before getting home. But despite hills and the hotter morning, this run was better than last week’s 19 miler.  And I only had to stop for traffic and at one point to make a tight turnaround.  That was it.  And I still had some in the tank when I made my way back to the apartment complex.  I ended up doing 20.25 miles…surprisingly at marathon pace.  And I felt so good.  I smiled.  I said good morning to people.  I was working, but I wasn’t straining, fighting, or dying at any point.  I needed this.  I needed this more than I knew I needed this.  I want running to always feel like this.  I need the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon to feel like this.  First 20 miler came early for me…but I feel good.  I felt good the rest of the day.  Walked the malls, did the grocery shopping, made dinner, stretched, foam rolled…yep…it’s good!  It’s all good.

SUNDAY: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! RECOVERY RUN!

With no expectations and no pace requirements, and a heavy heart from all the mass shootings this country is dealing with…I headed out this morning to chase the sunrise.  And that’s what I did, pausing at every mile (for the first 3) to take pictures of the sun coming up over the horizon and the cotton-candy sky that emerged from the dark night.  I ran the Fast Freddie course here…putting in 5.0 miles for the 50 states of this country.  Feeling blessed to wake up and be able to run easy, refreshed, and without care, when people are waking up and maybe missing their loved ones today due to a senseless act of violence.  With that being said, this recovery run was the last of my reset week and I enjoyed every step of it.  I needed this reset week more than even I knew.  This is why I hired Daniel.  He knew exactly what to hit me with this week so that I could shed frustrations, anger, and disappointment and find a new focus and really prepare myself for the upcoming weeks leading into the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I feel better about it.  I feel refreshed.  I feel ready.

So today I have a bunch of meal prep to do and some things to get done around the apartment today…and await this week’s plan.  I’ll embrace the good…the bad…the hard and easy this week.  When you’re struggling…don’t be afraid to reset.  Don’t be afraid to build from the experience.  Come back to it feeling ready, refreshed, and with a laser focus on your goals.  Just don’t forget to keep it fun and enjoyable.

Okay…new week, new training plan.  Let’s go.

The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast – Episode 10: “Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady — BluegrassBAMR

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Hey everyone!

A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast!  I had a blast talking to Stephanie and sharing part of my story (I feel like I could have gone on for at least another hour…but I also like to talk).  Anyway…please go give it a listen.  And be sure you share, like, subscribe and leave a review for the podcast itself.

You can check it out below…or search on your favorite podcast platform!

And thanks again, Stephanie!

 

“Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady Karen Brady, aka The Celiathlete, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 30. After some trial and error, and help from a Registered Dietitian, Karen was able to find the nutritional solutions to help fuel her greatest passion: running. Not only has Karen learned to live […]

via The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast – Episode 10: “Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady — BluegrassBAMR

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

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

Race: Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, IN

Date: November 22, 2018

Time: 36:54

Every. Year.

Every. Thanksgiving.

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

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

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

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

But I registered.  So…I would definitely race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kauai Half Marathon – Poipu, HI (September 2, 2018)

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Me crossing the finish line of the Kauai Half Marathon – Kauai, Hawaii

Race: Kauai Half Marathon

Place: Poipu, HI (Island of Kauai)

Date: September 2, 2018

Time: 1:46:27

“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life it.”

~Kara Goucher

I went back.  I went back to an island and a race that both made me find myself and broke me…but this time I was only going half the distance.  Because I’m smart.  HA!

The trip itself is a whole different story all together, and something I may or may not blog about.  I did keep a travel journal the best that I could…but life just happens.  Let’s begin this story, then, with the expo.

As you know, my roommate (Cathy) and I have been to Kauai twice before.  Once with me in a boot with our friend, Jenn.  Needless to say, I didn’t race that year.  Then a year later with our friends Indy & Tawn.  That was the year I did the full marathon.  First marathon after recovering from the hip labrum and stress fracture.  It didn’t go as I had imagined…but, those hard races are what make us better.  It was the last marathon I ran until January 2018, when I did the Dopey Challenge.  My hip problems kept coming back and setbacks led to some cautious comebacks (of my own doing).

This time…no longer being guided by a coach and really just playing around with an old training schedule…I was going in with a plan.  And this time, we were traveling with some of our favorite people, Melissa and Paul Nolan!

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Cathy, Me, Melissa & Paul on the beach on Kauai at our resort.

This is an image from our first day at our resort.  I went for a short shake-out from travel run after a day of travel and getting groceries and coffee and ice cream and just checking out a bit of the island with our friends.  They headed to the beach…I went for an easy run and met them on the beach.  Because…the beach is life.  The next morning…was expo day.

But first…coffee and breakfast.  We picked up coffee at our go-to coffee spot on Kauai – Ha Coffee Bar!  And breakfast, we went to Living Foods Market and got breakfast.  For me, the coffee was the Kauai Sunshine and the crepe was the Gluten Free Roasted Vegetable Crepe.


After we were powered up with coffee and food…it was off to the Wilcox Health Sports and Fitness Expo at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.  This hotel is GORGEOUS.  Seriously.  And I love visiting the expo and checking out the resort in the process.  For the most part, it’s a small and basic expo.  But…I. BOUGHT. SO. MUCH.  Maybe it’s because when I ran the marathon, all I bought was the big triathlon backpack (which they no longer have and that made me SO sad because I wanted another one since mine is getting old and I use it for ALL travel).  Maybe it’s because it was the 10th Anniversary.  But most of my spending money went out the window at the race expo.  That’s…pretty typical of me.  HA!

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Paul, Melissa & Me at the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon Expo

I picked up my race bib and t-shirt (this time, I was listed) then went to scope out the merchandise and the little side booths in the small little room where the expo is held.  There is a lot going on in there, and it can seem really crowded and chaotic at times (especially in the official merchandise area), but it is worth spend the time checking out.  I ended up buying a half-zip, a towel, a magnet, a hoodie, a t-shirt…..maybe a few other small things that I don’t remember…but yeah…budget blown.  Melissa and Paul had met Bart Yasso before heading into the expo, and she snagged his last new book.  I went to say hi to Bart, as I’ve seen him and talked with him at numerous race expos, and he introduced me to the male marathon winner (who was also running the half this year…and would win it), Tyler.  Tyler also ran Chicago…small world.  After a chat, I went to see how the Nolan’s were doing with their shopping and found them as overwhelmed with the merchandise as I was.  But…we eventually wrapped things up and got ready to head out for the rest of the day.

Sightseeing was the plan and we hit up the Spouting Horn, Glass Beach, The Westernmost Bookstore in the United States (Talk Story Bookstore) in Hanapepe, where we also got to enjoy rainbows and a street fair, walked across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, and then hit up Verde (one of my favorite spots) for tacos for dinner!

We went to bed knowing we’d have to be up early enough if we were going to take part in Bart Yasso’s shake-out run that morning.  We were running a little late when we got there, but they had to check on the path (as there had been flooding because…hurricanes).  It was a path of treachery.  Lots of holes and puddles and ditches, but it was straight out and back, about a 5K.  I took it easy because…I wanted to see what I could do on the course the next day.  I was complimented, however, on my stride.  And that has NEVER happened.  I was one of the first few people back to the starting point.

Melissa and Paul came in next, and then we cheered Cathy in.  Yes…even Cathy got in on the action during the morning shakeout.  At the shakeout I got to talk to a lot of people, and everyone was SO nice.  I chatted races with a guy named Seth (we’re now friends on Strava).  I FINALLY got to meet the Marathon Goddess, Julie Weiss, who I have followed on social media for ages, like back when she was doing her 52 marathons in 52 weeks.  She is just as inspiring and sweet in person as she is on her social media.  I can say that for certain.  After a few group pictures, we went back to shower/change and then head out for the day to do more exploring.  And we just ended up winging it.  Breakfast for Cathy and I was a cookie that we split at Ha Coffee House.  My coffee was (my favorite for life) the Bee Sting.  And then…we went on an impromptu hike.

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Me at the top of Ho’opi’i Falls on Kapa’a Stream

If you know me…you know I’m not a fan of being outdoors.  Which is weird, because I am a long distance runner.  But the rest of my party were set on doing it, even though the trail was REALLY muddy and…quite not fun to navigate at times.  I won’t lie…I was nervous about slipping and falling.  I was nervous about twisting an ankle…or breaking a bone.  The endgame…a waterfall.  We meant to reach the bottom of it…but instead, we took the path less traveled and got to the top.  And for all the bitching and complaining I did about the hike (I mean…it was the day before the race)…it was AMAZING reaching that waterfall we set out to see.  And being on the top of it was so much better than the bottom.  This particular waterfall was used in the filming of Jurassic Park.  Hence…why it was on our radar.  The hike back felt less dangerous and slippery.  Melissa did slip up at one point, but she caught herself.  And we emerged, with VERY muddy shoes and a few bug bites.  But I burst out going, “I’m FREE!”  That being said, I wouldn’t change that experience for anything.  Even if I’m a princess who doesn’t really enjoy hikes in the woods.

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My signature dish for the night before the race: Toasted Purple Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Onion, Avocado, Sriracha Mayo

I was cooking that night for our pre-race dinner.  I don’t like to chance things if I don’t have to.  So, I cooked up the purple sweet potatoes we bought at Costco, topping them with caramelized onions, avocado, and a drizzle of Sriracha Mayo.  It was amazing.  I’ve never had much luck with sweet potatoes pre-race, but figured this race wasn’t about time, it was about executing my strategy…so I went with it.  And I know some people swear by sweet potatoes for fuel…but they just don’t work on me.  But…everyone really enjoyed the dinner…and that was what counted.  Time to sleep.  For the following day…we raced.

Morning definitely came too soon.  I got up early to do my stretches, eat something, take my vitamins, slather on a good layer of sunscreen, get my hair put up and my part spritzed with sunscreen, and get dressed.  Cathy wanted to be out the door early…as the race starts at 6 am.  Like…before the sun can get too high in the sky.  We were a little late on the time, but we all got out the door with pre-workout, fuel, pre-race eats, and all our water bottles.  We piled into the car, and Cathy drove part of the course before the road closed to get a good spot to park for the start of the race.  We headed toward the little area where the runners would gather to use the bathrooms, stretch, warm-up, eat some fruit, hydrate.  Melissa needed to use the bathroom (because…she was coming up on 5 months pregnant here…which she hadn’t really mentioned to the world yet…but it’s out now, so I can write about it)…and the lines were long.  She had a pregnancy meltdown, but went to see if she could find a place to use the bathroom.  She had talked about not doing the race…but I wasn’t about to let her come this far and at least not give it a shot.  Apparently, a Starbucks let her in to use the bathroom.  So that was awesome.  The runners had already been marched down to the start line, and that was drawing close.  I left Cathy and Paul to wait for Melissa to head that way and get a good starting spot.  Not up front, but close enough to feel good about my pace when the race spaced out a bit.

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Cathy’s sign at the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon!

The blessing was sung by the natives and the National Anthem was being sung when I spotted Melissa’s top knot of her hair.  I waived them in and they ducked in to stand next to me in the corral.  We were sent off to conch shells being blown (my favorite start line, hands down!).  And just before I took off, the three of us took a selfie.  It’s on their phone and we haven’t put up our shared Google Drive yet…so I can’t show it to you.  Then Melissa gave me a hug and told me to run fast.  I told them to have a good race and headed off, waving to Cathy holding her “Run The Fences Are Down” sign with the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park on it.  She made the official video.  I’ll link it here.

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Me at the start of the Kauai Half Marathon

And so…it was time to put my plan into action.  I know that the first seven miles of this race are a steady uphill.  So, my plan was to settle in for those, and push just hard enough to keep it comfortable and challenging.  I admit, my first mile was faster than I would have liked, but I was in the crowd and seeking space.  But I eased back on the accelerator as I entered into the second mile.  And as the climb (it’s gradual until Mile 5) continued, I eased back a bit more.  I ran with a local who was doing the full, in bare feet.  He looked over and asked if I was doing the half or full.  I told him the half.  He said I had a good pace.  I told him I was impressed he was doing the race in bare feet.  He replied with a native, “Mahalo.”

At Mile 4…I spotted the rainbow.  YES!  Another rainbow during my Kauai race.  I even said, “Look! A rainbow!” to those running near me.  But they ignored me and just kept plugging away.  I passed some runners who were already struggling in the humidity/heat, but I knew…this is where you kept it simple and easy.  Don’t race here. Race at the end.

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Rainbow at the finish line of the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

At Mile 5, you start the climb into the Tunnel of Trees.  Mile 6 is about halfway through.  This is my favorite part of the race, because it is absolutely STUNNING.  The views are incredible.  You’re shaded by the trees.  And it’s just…amazing.  It’s amazing.  I fueled at the halfway mark with my Honey Stinger gel, and drank down some water, which I had been doing consistently, because I know how humid and hot this race is, so I figured I’d start that hydration train rolling early.  As I passed Mile 7…I knew it was time to hit the gas.

This is probably the only time you will see negative splits on any of my races.  I usually go out too fast and then sort of dye at the end (fly and die).  But this time, I conserved my speed for the final back half…which was more of a gradual downhill toward the beach where the finish line was.  I ticked off the miles, running strong and picking up the pace where I could.  The heat was starting to get to me around Mile 10, just before we stopped sharing the course with the marathoners.  They would turn to the right and take on those mountains (been there, done that).  I turned left and knew I could push it still, even though now the runners would be out in full sun to the finish.  It’s fine.  knew I could do this.

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Me receiving my medal at the Kauai Half Marathon finish line

We ran down neighborhood streets, where the locals were out to cheer us on.  There was a guy with a big, white Santa beard, and someone behind me said, “HEY SANTA!”  It made me laugh, not going to lie.  Miles 11 and 12 felt hard because they were sunny, but I knew when I passed Living Foods Market, I knew I was close.  I took the opportunity to see what I had left in the tank, and managed to pull out the energy to pick it up and cross the finish line strong.  I felt amazing.  And, at that time, that was my perfect race pace for my upcoming marathon for the goal I was hoping to hit (although, with the sudden break in my training plan due to parting ways with my coach and striking out on my own, I wasn’t holding my breath). I got my medal hung around my neck and Ron Wiley from Kong Radio announced my name as I crossed.  There was no “Brady Bunch” attached to it this time around.  HA!

I was quite happy with my time, given how challenging this course was.  I slipped into a sun shirt after snapping a few photos with my medal and went to check out if there was anything I could necessarily eat at that point.  There was fruit…and coffee.  So that happened.  Cathy set a towel down on the ground and we sat down to wait for the rest of our party.  There really isn’t a way to live track them, so we just had to guesstimate their placement.  They checked in at one point, so we had an idea of their finish time.

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Paul, Melissa and the person they picked up on the run, crossing the finish line at the Kauai Half Marathon.

We did eventually move to the finish line, where we got to see the first female finisher for the marathon come in.  No tape.  But her name was announced.  And she looked fantastic for having taken on that course.  Cathy wandered off to go to the turn before you have the straightaway to the finish line, and would text me when they were coming in.  When the text came, I readied my camera…and Paul and Melissa crossed the finish line…with a friend they made along the way.  It was her first half marathon and her friends had left her…so they brought her along on their run.  They looked like they were having a blast.  And, as I told her at the finish, that was the first time I had seen Melissa happy at the end of  a race.

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YAAAAAAAAAAS!!

We had some photo moments at the finish line, and I even sent Melissa back to inquire about getting a medal for the baby.  They weren’t sure they’d have enough, so I ended up contacting the race via e-mail and we were able to go in and pick one up the day after.  They ended up having extras.  So…YAY!!  I was so proud of her, because she had been doubting herself all evening and morning leading into the race, but I knew if she started, she would finish.  And, she has a built-in cheerleader and running partner with Paul there, so she wouldn’t be alone.  All I told her was that she had to make that halfway point and she could walk it in if she had to at that point.  She did great.  And she didn’t have to walk it in.

We showed them to our little spot in the shade where they could take off their shoes, relax, and get some refreshments.  The volunteers remembered Melissa as “the pregnant lady” from the expo, which was super amazing!!  They helped gather up some of the snacks and we all went back to have a sit and just take in some of the finishers still coming in.  We rested and relaxed and talked and took pictures, but the race was winding down and we had to still make the walk to wherever Cathy parked the car.  She knew.  We didn’t.  We had been running when she transported herself to that finish line from the start.  So, we gathered everything up…and started walking…but not before taking some photos near the finish line.

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Paul, Melissa & Me at the finish line of the Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

So, my official results of the Kauai Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:46:27.  That’s amazing to me!  For real!  Is it my fasted half marathon time this year?  Nope.  Sadly, I think that belongs to Dopey.  HA!!  How does this happen to me?  I race before a race before a race, and still pull off a fast time.  But this is a tough, tough course, and to say I did it in less than half the time it took me to struggle through the full…total win! I was 63/1561 finishers overall! That’s top 100!! I was the 15/992 women to cross the finish line. And I was 5/143 people in the my age division! I seem to be clinging to this 5th place benchmark these days.  I am not satisfied with it.  LOL!

Oh…and we ran into Bart Yasso again too.  He asked me how I did, and I told him I was the 15th female overall.  And he was totally happy for me and so genuine, as he always is.  This is one of many reasons why I refer to him as my “Running BFF.”  From there, we went back to the resort to shower and change…and we headed out to the Kauai Coffee Plantation that day…and it was the perfect ending to a race day.  That and the pho we ate later that night at a random establishment we found in a strip mall.  But I might save that for another post.

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Me and Bart Yasso after the Kauai Half Marathon!