Crossing the finish line at the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon – Lexington, KY
Race: Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon
Place: Lexington, Kentucky
Date: March 30, 2019
You remember (probably not, but throwing it out there anyway) how last year I said I was going to return to the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon? Well, I was certainly good on my word. Prior to my blog even being posted last year, I was already registered to run in 2019. And at the end of March…it was time to go.
A couple of things though…
Remember that knee bruising I had from my fall at the beginning of March? Well…that was better. The problem was…the week of this particular half marathon, my knee started to really be painful when I was out running…but mostly just when I would go up and down the stairs. You know me. I went into full panic mode and texted my coach. He’s a physical therapist and he told me to rest it up until race day. I did exactly that. Slept in. No spin. No weights. Rest. So, essentially, I took off Thursday and Friday. The race was Saturday. And though this, I felt like my knee…SORT OF felt better. A little. It still twinged whenever I went down or up the stairs (more so up), but for the most part…better. So that was a good thing. I guess?
I had to work a half day on Friday, and left the office just shortly after eating my lunch. It was something simple. Soup, I think. It isn’t important. I had snacks packed for the car to have prior to going into the expo. And my roommate (who was participating in the Yearling, which is 3.65 miles, on Saturday morning) and I got into the car and started to make our way to Lexington.
Picking up my race bib
The trip was easy and this time we didn’t take the weird back way that put us on some of the course. This was direct to Keenland. And I was ready to get my bib and shop the expo. That, in and of itself, is dangerous, because I tend to throw away a lot money at this particular race expo. The swag is just that good!! I ended up getting my bib at the first little stand (my number was in the 1000, so I was in the first wave) and then proceeded to look at all the merch, ended up purchasing a cute sweatshirt and the official Run The Bluegrass Ponya Band (I did the Ponya Band last year too), and then tapped out to head into the actual expo part and peruse the booths. I had come in 13th in the Director’s Challenge, so I had a few prizes to pick up as well, including some free socks at one of the booths in the back. I got my official race shirt, then the upgrade to the really nice race jacket with the heat sheet inside (SO HAPPY). And then decided I had done enough damage for the day and went back up front to snag the rest of my Director’s Challenge swag (ear buds, Road ID gift certificate, gloves, and a couple of other nice things). I ran into a couple of friends and then we went to drive into Lexington to stop into Ethereal Brewing to pick up the glass I won in the Director’s Challenge. Cathy was very tempted to get a beer, and spotted one that looked interesting, but decided against it. I boooooooed her for that decision. But we needed to hit up the hotel, drop stuff off, and relax before meeting up with our friends Ron & Shawn Steve for dinner at Bella Notte (of course).
Upon arriving at the hotel and starting to unload our luggage, Cathy realized that we didn’t have the cooler with us (the one she moved off the kitchen counter and set by HER luggage) that had my fuel, my BCAAs, my snacks…all the things. THIS…was a HUGE problem.
I might have shouted at her for a long time about it. And instead of relaxing in the hotel, we now had to head into Lexington and attempt to find fuel for the half marathon tomorrow. The problem being, most places don’t sell my fuel of choice, UCAN. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE carries it in stores. We first went to a sporting goods store, and all they had was Sword. I don’t use Sword and have only used it in a half marathon I was pacing as fuel. And while I had no issues with it…I was trying to put some effort into this race. No good. We were getting close to dinner time, but we spotted a Vitamin Shoppe, so we took a chance and pulled in there. They had less options for me to really use. But we looked around. Lots of electrolytes but nothing that was actually good for me to use as fuel.
We left emptyhanded from there too, and I was in full-on pissed off panic mode. But dinner time was nigh, so we pulled into Bella Notte just minutes before Ron and Shawn showed up. It was perfect timing. No reservations were being taken, but we had no problems getting seated. They no longer have a separate gluten free menu, but I know what I always get here. And this was no different. Ron got the lasagna, both Cathy and Shawn got the Spaghetti & Meatballs, and I got…the Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata. It came with a salad ahead of it…so I got that minus the croutons and with the balsamic.
Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata from Bella Notte in Lexington, KY
We ate, we talked work, life, and racing (of course). It was sometime in the restaurant that Daniel, my coach, sent me the race plan for this particular half marathon. To be fair, I don’t think he understood how difficult this course actually is. He wanted me to use the first mile as a warm up, then push for 8-10 miles at a 7:45 pace, then use the rest to either continue that pace or to ease back and use it as a cool down, depending on how I felt. And I might have scoffed and laughed out loud when that text came over my phone. I told him I would try, but made no promises with the hills. He told me it was about effort, not pace. We all still got a laugh though about my race plan. Inside, I think I was starting to panic more than a little. We all passed on desserts and headed out, giving hugs and wishing everyone luck on their races the following morning. Cathy and I had just enough time to swing by John’s Run Walk Shop, hoping to get something to use for fuel. Again, we found a lot of Sword (Sword must be the sponsored fuel of Lexington, Kentucky), but thankfully they had some Honey Stinger gels in there too. I haven’t fueled with Honey Stinger gels in a while, but had in the past…so it was what I had to work with. I bought two of them, plus the Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Waffle. And it was going to have to work. We finally headed back to the hotel so we could cycle through showers and get everything ready for the morning. Stretch. Foam rolling. And eventually get some sleep. Our time was definitely way more constricted now thanks to The Great Search for Runner Fuel.
I love a race where I don’t have to question my wardrobe choices!
The alarm went off that morning and we immediately began to get ready for our respective races. The weather looked perfect for running. It was in the high 50s, so tank top and shorts were the obvious choice. There was a chance for rain, but it was supposed to kick in later on in the day. So, that was a plus. I was supposed to be done long before that kicked in and started. The half marathon started at 9:00. The Yearling kicked off at 8:50. And all the photos were to be done at 8:30 with groups like Mom’s Run This Town/She Runs This Town. I texted my friend Melissa (who was about 5 weeks off of having a baby) and she was here, but down near the start. I wanted to get my pre-race hug she always gives me, so I forwent the official photo and headed down to the start area. And never found her or met up with her. Cathy did run into one of her high school friends though. So at least she got a pre-race hug.
Waiting to see Cathy off for the Yearling at Run The Bluegrass this year!
I walked Cathy into the corral for the Yearling and hung with her there. My friend Michael, who came in from New York to run this, found me there and we stayed there up until we had to clear out so that only Yearling runners were in there. I wished Cathy luck, gave her a hug, and went to wait for Wave 1 to be moved up to the start.
The Yearling was sent off after the singing of the National Anthem…and it was to “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman. Which…I knew Cathy would love. And it turns out…she did.
The wheelchair racers were sent off next. I could not even imagine racing Run The Bluegrass in a wheel chair. The hills in this race as massive and hard enough to run up. More on that later. LOL! Michael and I lined up and wished each other good luck on the race. It is really one of the most stunning and beautiful half marathons around, so I told him to take it in and enjoy it…and if by chance he caught up to me because my race plan wasn’t going well, we could maybe run it in together.
And then we were off…to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Which, for the record, is one of my favorite race pump-up songs. I ran easy (well, I thought it was easier than it actually was, apparently, for that first mile, which takes us up our first major climb. I clocked that one in 7:58…so definitely faster than I anticipated or meant to be for my warm up. Now it was time to kick it and see what I could handle.
Mile 2 and Mile 3 were right on pace. But they were hard. This race has somewhere between 33 and 37 hills (it depends on who you ask), and some are manageable, and some will completely kill your speed. I felt good for those miles, but as I went into Mile 4, my heart rate was really high and I took a walk break. And it pretty much broke me to do that so early in a race. I knew I was now completely off my race plan and, you know how much of a perfectionist I am…it bothered me. A lot. I had been training really well, save for the fall that screwed with my knees, but this…this just destroyed my confidence. I know that this is a difficult course, and tried to keep reminding myself of that, but, dammit…I know I am better than that.
Mile 7 and looking better than I feel! Shoutout to Matthew Faske for the photoshop work!
The next mile I managed to pick it back up. A little. But it did help to see that 7 pace again. I hit it at 7:55…so not in the range he wanted me at, and it was the last 7-something pace I would see that day. Walking the hills became my method of survival. I would run up some of them, but I was being very careful since I could tell my heart rate wasn’t in a good place and I didn’t want to push it. I fueled at the halfway point with my Honey Stinger gel. And I do get the ones with caffeine, but I don’t think it made any difference. My legs weren’t going to wake back up. At least I was running when I went past the photographer around Mile 7. HA! And, thanks to a friend of mine, I got the shirtless thumbs up guy behind me edited out of my picture. YAY!
Mile 9 is the roughest. You hit it just as you start up with hill. This massive hill. And just when you think you are done with it, it turns and goes up some more. This is the infamous S-turn hill…with drums that sort of inform you of your impending doom. This hill did me in and I took the lonest walk break I have had to take just to get up it. And, the entire time, I was just getting madder and madder at myself.
Does anyone else do this?
Snagging a piece of candy on the way to the finish line!
I had a 5K left, and I gave myself the pep talk…that a 5K wasn’t far and that I could do this. And I took only a few more walk breaks in that time, trying to hydrate myself well (I was racing with my hydration pack). I think I did okay with that. It also rained at this point. Yep. Rained. It was brief…but unexpected as ran wasn’t supposed to move in until later than that. I hit the Mile 12 marker and attempted to pick it up again. When you get to 12.1, you go over a mat, and you get timed on your final mile. Some of this does go uphill, and I told myself this one I couldn’t walk. This one I had to run in. And I managed to mentally push myself to do just that. The official results clocked my final mile as a 7:06. My Garmin had me at a 8:59. LOL!!
This time, Cathy did happen to catch me at the finish line and snap some photos. I made sure to snag a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (I can’t eat them, but Cathy can) and high five the race director on the way to the finish line. Did I meet my goal for this race at all? Not even close. I gave up on myself and the plan in really early on. But I needed to take care of me, and that high heart rate had me concerned. I still hate that I walked so much. That being said, I had a strong finish and at least I did finish. So, there is power in that, for sure.
The famous Keenland Starting Gate photo…a requirement at Run The Bluegrass!
I met up with Cathy at the end of the chute. She said she had a really good race, even on her challenging hills, and even took beer at the beer/water stop that we all come across in our respective distances. She does it all. HA! We made our way over to the starting gates to get the required photo inside. I managed to get myself up, but getting down is always an issue. Cathy carried me down like a child…per usual. But this year, she got to understand the struggle as she had to do it too, as she finished the Yearling. Afterwards, I gave her my free beer (she had one of her own ahead of me) and I snagged her a free breakfast sandwich as well before we went inside. My friend Michael finished about 8 minutes behind me and he came to find us. I asked if he got his photo in the gates, and he hadn’t so I took him out to be sure we got him that.
Soon after, I found myself purchasing more stuff at the expo. HA! I bought the most stunning pair of leggings with “Dream Big” on the side and pockets from Bend Active. They are super comfortable too. I snagged the last in my size and couldn’t have been happier about that. You don’t realize how important pockets in leggings are until you need a pocket. They are my favorite pair of leggings I own now.
After that, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and change and we could pack up and head out. Thank God, this hotel had late checkout. We gathered our belongings and packed up the car. We were going to meet up with Michael back in Louisville later for sushi before heading to the Louisville City FC Soccer Game. But the rain had moved in at this point, and sitting out in the cold wet…sounded awful. They ended up postponing the match until Sunday, but Cathy and I had other things going on that day. Michael ended up going Sunday, but we did get him to my favorite Sushi joint…Dragon King’s Daughter, and took him back to his hotel afterwards.
So, my official results of the 2019 Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon are that I finished it in 1:51:14, pretty far off of what I know I am cable of, honestly. Meh. You win some, you lose some, you walk more than you want to on really big ass hills sometimes. I was 233/2635 finishers overall. I was the 53/1660 for women finishers. And I was 12/321 in my age division. So, I mean…not great. But not bad either. This wasn’t the mental boost that I was hoping it would be…but its done. And, yes, I’m already registered for next year. Time to run more hills. For real.
Me after earning a new 10 Miler PR at the 2019 Papa John’s 10 Miler
Race: Papa John’s 10 Miler
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 23, 2019
There was a time when I would tell everyone that my favorite local race was the Papa John’s 10 Miler. That changed after last year, when I didn’t know we weren’t finishing in the stadium, the course was short, the weather was awful, the shirts were cheap and ugly…
I mean, the race can’t help the weather, but the rest of it…
At the Rodes City Run 10K, it was announced that the course of the Papa John’s 10 Miler was different this year, however, we would be finishing in the stadium again. Happiness. There was hope for this race yet. As for the race shirts…well…I’ll get to those in a moment.
The plan my coach gave me was pretty much similar to the plan he had given me before the Rodes City Run…race the race…and then hit some marathon paced miles in a long run the following day. The only difference was the distances I would be running. So, I try not to think about the fresh hell waiting for me on Sunday when I am all-out racing on Saturday. I, once again, waited until race week to register for this race. When I told my coach that I was eyeing these for my race calendar, he really took that to heart. And it was a good way for him to test my legs and endurance in the process. So, I registered and found out that, once again, I was a seeded runner with a low bib number. I didn’t put in for that on the registration, it just was assigned to me. Part of being a consistent runner in these races. I only missed it a few years due to injury. And I have come a long way since the first time I ran it in 2012.
Bold & bright and wearing lots of pink for the Papa John’s 10 Miler (note the seeded bib)
Packet pickup for this race is always at Cardinal Stadium (formerly Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium) in one of the suites. So, Cathy and I left work slightly early to make the drive into Louisville to get my race packet. We parked and took the elevator up to the expo. I immediately saw Chris Powell. He said, “Can I help you, or are you one of those…I already know…you’re one of the speedy runners.” Chris…don’t ever stop making me smile. I walked over to the table for the elite and seeded runners and got my bib. I was 59 this time. I was told that the t-shirts were behind me. And here we go again with the cheap-ass, uninspired, ugly, unisex, poorly fit t-shirts. If you’re a man…these will look great on you. If you’re female…well, you’re shit out of luck because this race no longer does women’s cut. They do these cheap logo shirts now…where you have to size down and still not have it fit appropriately…not impressed. And it’s too bad, because I used to rave about the Nike, fitted, race shirts that this race used to give out. Cutting corners isn’t always a good thing. Not one bit.
Same dinner happened the night before the race…the cauliflower crust pizza I described in the Rodes City Run 10K race blog. No need to rehash that. My evening routine was much the same too. Stretch, foam roll, sleep. Then wake up, eat, stretch, foam roll, get ready to run.
I had lots of pink showing for the Papa John’s 10 Miler, so my mom was well represented. It was cold outside. Which, as you know, doesn’t make me happy. So I bundled up with layers for pre-race walking to the start and the inevitable wait for the start of the actual race. Cathy and I had to clear some ice off the window of the car, but we got out on the road with plenty of time to park and make the hike up and over the overpass to get to the start line.
Or so we thought. The lots that we were told to park in were being blocked by the police from the direction we were driving in from. This caused us to drive around in various circles through the Louisville streets, with many random turnarounds and wrong turns, with no instruction from the officers themselves…until we finally came at it from the opposite side and managed to get into one of the green lots.
Dear Papa John’s 10 Miler Race Director peeps…….in the future…let us know about road closures if we are coming from, say, Indiana, okay?
And now our little cushion of time was really condensed. SUCK! We popped out into the cold morning air, and started to swiftly walk the very far distance from our parking space to the stairs to take us up to the overpass, which we then needed to cross over and then turn the corner and make our way to the start. The thing was…the start line was further up from where it has been in previous years. That was unexpected. We had to pause on our way there, with speakers going in and out, for the singing of the National Anthem. Cathy was trying to get me to shed layers when our friend Laura came over to say HI and chat for a moment. I ended up shedding my winter hat prior to the race, as much as I wanted to keep it, because it would hinder my pigtails, and Cathy excused herself to go get a good spot for the start of the race.
Photo Credit: The Voice Tribune – Me and Laura at the start of the Papa John’s 10 Miler
Laura and I got to chat a little while longer, and a reporter for the Voice Tribune came over and asked to take our picture. So, that happened. She wished me luck and went to find a spot to start from. I moved a bit further up, spotting my friend Courtney. She was shivering in shorts, a tank top, and arm warmers, saying that she totally underestimated the cold weather that morning. I wished her luck and she did the same, saying that she was coming off of a stomach virus and I would definitely be ahead of her.
They were getting ready to start, so I went to get to the left side, and I spotted one of my favorite podcasters, Tina Muir. She’s amazing and super fast (and came in 2nd female overall in this race!) and went to introduce myself. She shook my hand and asked me my goals. I told her that I was hoping to beat my PR on this course, which I went in 2016. And then she asked me about the course, which I told her was pretty flat leading into the park. The three miles in the park are hilly, but then it’s flat coming back until the overpass climb at Mile 9. Then flat to the finish. She said her coach (also her husband) wanted her to hold back for the first 5 miles and then let loose in the 2nd half. I was supposed to be all-out the entire time. I wished her luck and went to stand a few spots behind her, as the elites filled in around me. I saw her infamous power pose at the start line and before you knew it…the horn was sounding at we were off.
Me heading out at the start of the Papa John’s 10 Miler
My coach wanted me to not blitz the first couple of miles, and to ease into it with the pace, and then really start pushing it. So, I attempted to not hit the 6 minute miles and succeeded. HA! Honestly, it’s not hard for me because the 6’s are just not a place I can hang. Not yet. (Optimism!) They were between 7:15-7:19. I was sort of in the midst of that early pace when my friend Dan spotted me from the sideline and shouted out to me. I gave a wave and a quick, “HEY!” I felt good at this start, but the hard part of the race was yet to come, and with an intense week of training prior to this…well, I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to keep that up, because I had about 35 miles going into a 10 mile race that week. Whew. But I was feeling pretty good at the start and was just ready to see what I could do.
Mile 3 is where we enter Iroquois Park. In case you are unfamiliar with this park, or previous blogs of mine where I mention it…there are hills. LOTS of hills. I was hoping they wouldn’t slow me down too much this year. I wanted to make sure I was charging up them, not letting them slow down too much…and ride…ride those downhills down and prepare for the next uphill. I managed to make my legs work those hills and remain powerful throughout the park. I was wearing my hydration vest for the first time in a race, so water stops weren’t an issue. I came out of the park just after Mile 6 and knew that I had 3 miles until the next climb.
Trust me, despite the freezing temps, she was happy to be back INSIDE the stadium!
My legs felt trashed after all those ups and downs, but I continued to press, and my pace was able to pick back up as I headed back toward the finish, which would be in the stadium. I hit the low 7’s on my 7th mile and knew that I needed to wake them back up so that the climb up at Mile 9 wouldn’t kill my speed. I passed the spot where the start was, and the DJ was out there just really encouraging everyone to keep going. We were so close now. I made the turn at the corner and started up the hill. I was about halfway up when my friend Terry, shouted out my name. I turned and gave a wave and then powered up the rest. It officially killed my legs, that climb. I couldn’t get the speed back after the downhill and the run to enter the parking lot of the stadium. Here we now run around the stadium to enter on the opposite side that we used to, and then we hit the field. I had no momentum left, so I was glad this was it for me for the day with no additional miles to tack on. I ran as hard as I could manage, which wasn’t much, to the finish line and crossed.
Cathy was screaming at me from her spot in the stands and waving at me. All I heard was, “YOU SMASHED IT!” I had made a point of not looking at my watch or the clocks again on the course, so I thought I had come in around or after my 2016 time. But apparently I came in almost a full minute under my PR for this race. That was UNEXPECTED!
Me coming across the finish line at the Papa John’s 10 Miler and with an unexpected PR!
I caught up with my friend, Bekah, afterwards. She still had 6 more to run that day. I told her good luck with that, as I would be running the following day. I met up with Cathy outside after snagging some water. I went to snag the free pizza for her to eat and some of the free race snacks afterwards. And then…celebrating a new 10 Miler PR…we made the very cold hike back to the car. Cathy let me wrap the blanket she had with her around my shoulders to help stay warm. We finally got to the car and I started to get warm…and we spent the rest of the day shopping and celebrating a PR…and then going to the Louisville City FC season opener. For the record, the coach for LouCity ran the 10 miler and totally beat me in by 7 minutes.
So, the official results of the 2019 Papa John’s 10 Miler were that I finished in 1:15:52, which shaved just under a minute off of my PR time I set in 2016. WINNING. I was surprised, because I didn’t feel as strong in this one. But, sometimes I surprise myself. 246/2981 of finishers overall. I was the 57/1616 females to cross the finish line. And, I was the 11/231 in my age division. BOOM! Love a shiny new PR. It might just make up for the shirt I’ll never wear.
Me fiercely fighting for a strong finish at the Rodes City Run 10K
Race: Rodes City Run 10K
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 9, 2019
Well, there is definitely nothing more satisfying than beating a previous year’s time. Still no 10K PR, but I did way better at this local 10K than the one I attempted to really race in hot, humid Florida a couple of weeks before. Go figure.
I also waited until the very last week to sign up for this race. I had it on my radar, as usual, as it is one of the best races here in Louisville, BUT…that being said, I am also in the heat of marathon training and wasn’t sure I was actually going to race it. My coach, however, said I was. (For the record, he also raced it and averaged a 5:57 average pace). So, I was going into this with expectations of a better performance than my previous 5K. And that was the goal. Run hard…the entire 6.2 miles.
That face you make when you are surprised with being a seeded runner in a local 10K race
That being said, I headed down to Slugger Field on the Friday before the race to pick up my race packet. It was here that I discovered that I was a seeded runner this year and had a low number bib. Oh. Awesome. No pressure then, right? HA! So, I was directed over to the proper table to get my race bib and then went to snag a t-shirt as well. I loved that the shirts this year were purple (GO LouCity), and had a bit of a Mardi Gras flair to them. So, that was awesome.
Headed home to make a one of the cauliflower pizza’s I have in my freezer (Califlour Pizza Crusts, which I top with Trader Joes Greek Yogurt Kale & Spinach Dip, some mushrooms, spinach, and garlic). Friday Pizza Night has sort of become a thing. And these cauliflower crusts are the best out there (and naturally, I can’t get them in any store around here and have to order them online). Totally worth it. It was a late dinner, but perfect. I did my evening stretches, foam rolled, and went to bed early.
Because I had to wake up early enough on race morning to figure out my clothes, stretch, foam roll, and eat prior to race time. It was around 39 degrees at the start of the race, but I didn’t take into account the wind chill, which made it feel like it was in the high 20s. So, the running skirt and tank top with arm warmers was, for the first time in a long time, me being underdressed for a run. Needless to say, I had layers on over my race outfit until close to start time.
A picture of my knees the night before the race
Please note, that SOMETHING in all of my race outfits this year will be pink, to honor my mom as she goes through her treatments for breast cancer. You’re going to see me in a lot of pink.
I was pretty fresh off of busted up knees from a fall I took on some frozen mud near my apartment complex. I mentioned this a lot on Facebook, but not on here, because I’ve been horrible about blogging and need to really get back into the swing of that. My apologies, friends. So, I took a hard belly-flop fall one morning while doing my run. We have had some new construction and roofing going on at my apartment complex and with the weather winging between hot and cold, a pile of mud that is normally not in my path was in my path, and froze solid from the below freezing temps. My left foot caught it one morning and I was DOWN. Just laid out with holes torn into my favorite pair of winter running tights, blood and bruising. It wasn’t pretty. So, that sucked. And now you know the tale of the Legend of the Fall (non-Brad Pitt division). So, I had some twingy, pain every now and again during my runs, but nothing that I was too concerned about. I had this before after I fell in the 5K of Dopey, and it eventually just got better on its own. Just took awhile. And, cold air and banged up knees are not a good combo.
Basically me thinking, “Please don’t make me take off these layers” before race start.
Just prior to starting, Harry and Jo wandered by and got to say HI and wish me luck. Harry said, “Low number! WOW.” He asked about my knees and said that they looked a little bit better than the photo I had posted on Facebook. I think he was being kind. We wished each other luck and I shed my outer layers, even though I didn’t want to yet. My training partner and friend, Christine, found me at this point. She was aiming for a really fast 10K…and I wasn’t sure I could keep up with her…but we gathered together at the start, wished each other luck and awaited go-time.
The elites and seeded were set to go after the wheelchairs, so after the wheelchair racers went, we all crowded together and prepared for our turn. The horn blew and we were off. I felt good in that first mile, comfortable, but running hard down East Broadway. I wasn’t going to check my watch or the clocks on the mile markers the entire race, I was running by feel, and it was supposed to feel hard. My first mile ended up being a 6:51 pace. Fast.
Me heading out with a fast start at the Rodes City Run 10K
But the hill at the beginning of Mile 2 really took me down a peg. Like…majorly. Hills. I need to get more comfortable with them, I just don’t run them enough or often. But I’ll change that eventually. Christine has had some hilly portions in our long runs together, so that at least helped with that. She passed me on the hill (everyone passes me on the uphill) and stayed ahead of me for the rest of the race. I could always JUST see her.
It’s the tilty roads that got me next, but my pace picked back up. There were some rollers in here as far as hills went, but nothing substantial. I just focused on pushing myself hard again. Mile 3 we are on the far side of Cave Hill Cemetery. I was pretty cold, but moving as fast as I could move at that moment. Miles 3 and 4 were in the low 7’s (7:10 and 7:14). Mile 5 was back to feeling really slow and challenging. I don’t think hills were involved, I think my legs were just tired. I can’t say for sure. It’s been a few weeks. But I pressed on, knowing how close I was to the finish. I wasn’t going to give up on myself yet. Squeaked out a 7:26 mile. And then…the final mile was upon us. I made the turn back onto East Broadway and headed back toward where we started (this race now is a loop and not a point-to-point, like it had been for years). I remembered hearing someone behind me say, “Is the start the finish?” It made me smile, but honestly, I could see it and it still felt so far away. And no matter how much I was pushing, I just couldn’t seem to get there. It felt like it never got closer. The final .2 was just me giving my best, and I crossed the finish line, just happy to be done. And knowing I did better than the previous year (which was windy, rainy, and cold AF, to be fair). I got past the photographers and hunched over for a moment to catch my breath. My coach had said to push hard and not focus on the hard miles I was going to have to do the next day…so I did as he said. And it paid off. My final miles were 7:29 and 7:16). New PR? Nope. Not this time. But now I only need to shave an additional 1:30 off to tie it. PROGRESS!
Photo Credit: The Voice Tribune – My biggest cheerleader, my roomie, Cathy at the race…even in the bitter cold.
We had planned on meeting up with Christine post-race for coffee, and we stared to wander our way towards the coffee shop. She found us as we were walking that way, and we eventually ended up at a different coffee shop. A Starbucks. I was fine with it. It was warm inside and the drinks were caffeinated. YAY! We sat around the table and talked and then she and her husband gave us a ride back to our car at Slugger Field (we had made quite the hike to the start line that morning, mind you).
Me crossing the finish at the Rodes City Run 10K
The following day, I knocked out my long run with 2×5 miles in the middle at marathon pace. I was shocked, but happy my body could do it.
So, the official results of the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 45:33. I am chipping away at my times, getting closer to matching or beating that PR time. SO CLOSE! I was 246/2964 finishers overall. I was the 58/1596 women finishers. And I was 12/225 in my age division. Last year I was also 12/225 in my age division. HA! There were over 400 more runners this year though than last year. I’ll take that as a win. And while this wasn’t a distance PR, it was a race PR and a course PR…so that’s also exciting when you think about it!
Me at Magic Kingdom on my last night at Disney World with all my race medals from the Disney Princess Fairy Tale Challenge weekend.
It had been over a year since my last trip to Disney World. It felt like so much longer. And a few things were changing this time around. After the bathroom incident during the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, we actually decided to move our “Disney home” from Port Orleans Riverside to…The Art of Animation Resort. It is a “step down” from the resort level of Port Orleans, which, this princess was fussing over, but it wasn’t bad. And, honestly, I’m only in the room to sleep. But still…I sort of did miss the extra space, especially when I was trying to foam roll at night AND watch Food Network at the same time (priorities).
The trip to Orlando meant an early morning to catch the first non-stop flight out of Louisville. This just happened to be on a very wet, rainy, cold morning. Hauling luggage out to the car was not fun, but we got everything loaded in and hit the road. We parked the car (we couldn’t find someone to give us a ride, so we had to pay to leave the car there while we were away) and went in to check our bags (one of the perks of flying Southwest is the free checked bags) and get through security. It didn’t take long to get through that at all, and nothing flagged for the first time in the history of ever. Not even the laptop. I don’t know why I bring my laptop with me. I have good intentions of using it…and then I rarely do. What I didn’t realize was, bringing it this time would be a blessing. More on that later.
Cathy & Me killing time at Louisville Airport before our flight
The flight was uneventful, and we landed in beautiful Orlando to temps in the 70s. LOVE! Our first stop was a nearby Whole Foods. We were going to grab snacks for the resort, and ended up grabbing lunch there as well. I found a Summer Veggie Roll that had a Gluten Free Peanut Sauce with it…so I was quite happy with that selection. I grabbed a tub of watermelon and a Sumo orange as well (which I saved for later). And, of course, water…because I needed to stay hydrated. Cathy snagged a small cup of the Lobster Chowder (she has missed that selection in Louisville), some small cornbread muffins, and a small helping of fried rice and Vietnamese-style chicken.
My Whole Foods lunch
After we ate, we decided that since we still had no word of our room at the resort being ready, we would use the bathroom at the Whole Foods and change into our sundresses and lather up with the sunscreen so we could head over to the parks. We had Animal Kingdom on the schedule. This turned out to be more of a hassle than it was worth, honestly. Cathy had to make multiple trips out to the car to get things out of suitcases and we were taking turns running into the bathroom to change and then slather on the sunscreen. It took way longer than it should have.
BUT…we finally considered ourselves ready for the parks and hopped back into the car and drove to the resort to drop off luggage. We made sure we had our necessary items and headed to the bus stop to get over to Animal Kingdom.
Me at Animal Kingdom
I was so happy to be back at Disney…and the weather was truly stunning!! Our first stop is our favorite place to get Iced Coffee. There was definitely more of a line there than we were used to…especially on a Wednesday, but we waited, placed our order, wasn’t sure which one was mocha and which was vanilla…but we got that sorted ourselves. We drank them as we killed time ducking into shops and the like…before we hit up our FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. I love doing the safari, and our guide was awesome (they are, but she was really fantastic) and the animals…they were really active and on the move. It was probably the most animals and the most activity from the animals I have seen on any trip on the Safari. As we exited, we branched off to the Gorilla walk. I wasn’t happy when we had to walk through the birds. I. Do. Not. Like. Birds.
Me & Cathy with Scrooge McDuck!
We went to grab a quick snack to tide us over to our later dinner reservation…Cathy’s traditional fries. I ate my Sumo orange. And then, as we wandered around, we came across Scrooge McDuck. His line handler, Caitlyn, was amazing. She was so much fun to talk to while we were standing in line. And this was my first time meeting any of the Duck Tales characters. Scrooge was a lot of fun, and Cathy kept trying to get him to go out for an alcoholic drink, but he was strict about his tea. And then we hopped on over to meet Launchpad McQuack next. I told him that I was really good at crashing too. HA! It was fun and we had some great photo ops!
Cathy & Me with Launchpad McQuack!
But then we saw the most amazing addition to Animal Kingdom…KEVIN. Kevin from UP. If you haven’t seen this in person, get to Animal Kingdom NOW. Just book your flight and do it! Kevin is phenomenal. And fun. And SO animated. This encounter spurred an early purchase for Cathy’s traditional Disney plushie purchase – Kevin!
We took a stroll through Pandora and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon wandering and exploring. But our time for our traditional first day at Disney meal was growing near and we hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy some food at Sanaa. We didn’t have to wait long to be seated and we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to eat. Our server was a trainee and he did an awesome job. We both got something to drink with our water, Cathy got the Savannah Cider and I got the lemonade that came with a wildberry foam of some sort. I don’t remember the really cool name that it had…but it was delicious.
We started with the bread service, of which I got three pieces of the gluten-free bread and Cathy got two of the regular naan. We split one of the GF ones and we were off to the races with the different sauces, Cathy being very careful when she would spoon her sauce to not contaminate anything. This is one of my favorite things at Sanaa. For our meals, I went with the Chickpea Wat and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables, which is served with scented Basmati Rice. It’s my go-to every time I am there. Cathy stayed with her favorite offering in the entrees, the Traditional Sosatie, which is Braai Lamb with Apricots, Pap, Spinach, Cashews, and Goat Cheese. It was all very filling and delicious.
Gluten Free Bread Service at Sanaa
Chickpea Wat, Rice, and Cilantro Coconut Vegetables
After eating, we hopped on a bus to head back to Animal Kingdom to catch the bus back to the Art of Animation. We had our room number now and went there to find our bags already in there and ready for us to settle in for the night. I took a quick shower, went to foam roll and we settled in for the night. I set an alarm for me to wake up to because I had a training run to get through before we started our morning.
It’s always an adventure running around The Art of Animation!
And that’s what I did. I forgot how hard it is to run in humidity, which would be a theme for this half marathon weekend for sure. The resort had a great running path around a lake, which was perfect for me to train on. Keeping an easy pace wasn’t hard in the heat/humidity. I finished that off with some strides, returned to the resort, showered, and we went to the dining area at the resort to find something for breakfast. That was a high anxiety and high stress situation and we vowed that would be the ONLY time we did that. Cathy went to order me a gluten free and dairy free omlette, with mushrooms, jalapenos and spinach for me. And since I couldn’t have the biscuit, the chef tossed some fresh fruit onto my plate. It was perfect. We ate and then headed out to the car to head to the Wide World of Sports for…the race expo. It was on the ride over there that my Garmin flashed me a “Sensor Error.” Not sure what it meant, I started to try to figure it out. It was that the sensor…the thing that actually reads elevation and heart rate and all that stuff, was no longer working. I figured I could, hopefully, talk to the Garmin reps at the expo and maybe get it sorted.
Gluten Free Omlette with Mushrooms, Jalapenos, Spinach…and FRUIT!
After all these years, we finally figured out the key to getting official merchandise…turn up at the expo on the first day, go straight to official merch and wait in line. The wait wasn’t that bad and we made friends with the people around us. The line moved pretty swiftly once they started letting us all in…even if at one point it was like all lines went out the window and there was this huge surge toward the front of the line. But we got in and started to shop. I bought WAY MORE than I intended to, but they had Disney Princess Weekend ears that both Cathy and I snagged, plus I needed pins for each race. I fell in love with a wine glass (of course I did) and then all the cute clothes. I had a lot of things I LOVED…but ended up getting the official challenge zip-up. And then Cathy found a cute dress thing that is actually a cover-up for before/after races. Love that. So…over $260 later, I was ready to head over to get my race bibs and then hit up the actual expo.
Official Merchandise Line upon our arrival!
The bibs were easy. This was Cathy’s first time obtaining a Disney race bib. Did I mention that she was doing her first Disney 5K?! Pretty exciting. Our numbers were a good distance apart, so I left her to get hers while I went over to pick up mine. She found me there and the guy was commenting on how I was one of the fast ones…and I said I was dropping back to Cathy’s corral, and he asked her if she was offended by me saying that I was “dropping back” and Cathy said, “NO. Not at all. Because she is definitely not going at her normal speed with me.” From there, we headed over to the actual race expo to get our race shirts and then do some shopping. Which, we didn’t really do. I was upset that there was no Garmin booth there (I mean…HELLO) but remembered that Misfit was the official activity tracker of Disney races. So…I was stuck with a broken watch for my races. Joy and happiness. UGH. That really got me riled up and I didn’t want to spend any time there…but we did make the traditional stop by Bondi Band, where we found two headbands that would work for me. One for my 10K costume…and one for training (for the record…it says “The Before Breakfast Club.” HA!) It was as we were leaving the expo that our friend, Melissa, texted us to let us know that Peter Tork (if you know me, you know of my obsession with The Monkees) had died. And I legit cried right there in the expo. After a few deep breaths, we headed out to start our day at…Magic Kingdom (aka: my favorite park).
Getting my 5K Bib
We had FastPasses for Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train spread out throughout the day. But Haunted Mansion was our first stop, and the FastPass line was INSANE. But it thankfully moved quickly. This is Cathy’s favorite ride by far. We hit up Space Mountain soon after that. And then got Dole Whip (required). We shopped. We walked around. We made our way through the Mine Train queue (also INSANE) and were put in the very back of the coaster. And then…dinner. We went to Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, which our friends Melissa & Paul introduced us to a year ago during Dopey, and we fell in love with the food and the atmosphere. I already knew what I was getting and told Cathy she had to have it too. But first…an appetizer. We split the Falls Family Falafel. And then…for our entrees…the Perkins Thai Noodles (gluten-free and minus the chicken to make it vegan), which is THE BEST thing I have ever eaten on Disney property. For real. Cathy now understood because when she got this last time, she had the flu and couldn’t taste any flavors. We had leftovers, so we boxed those up and headed out, back to the resort, stored those in the fridge and decided they would be post-10K breakfast in a couple days.
Gluten Free Falls Family Falafel
Gluten Free Perkins Thai Noodles
Showers and foam rolling commenced and we turned it in, with me setting an early 2:20 am alarm for us to get up and get dressed and ready for the first race of the weekend: the Disney Princess 5K.
Cathy & Me showing off our Disney Princess 5K Medals!
Disney Princess 5K
Race: Disney Princess 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 22, 2018
The most difficult part of any Disney race weekend is those early morning wake-up calls. Today was probably the least stressful of the three, but instead of just me getting ready, Cathy had to get costumed up as well. Sadly, my original costume, Iron Man, didn’t get assembled in time (I ordered a shirt from I Am A Superhero Fitness Apparel, DO NOT EVER DO THIS…their customer service is the worst, and it wasn’t a match with the leggings, so I contacted them to send it back and get a replacement in time for the race, and never heard from them…at all…after getting the info to return everything…and never received the replacement in time), so I had to break out my Wonder Woman costume for this one. Iron Man, part of the Marvel Universe, owned by Disney, would have worked better…but it is what it is. Cathy, however, was ready to rock her Captain America outfit. And she rocked it. Trust me. She even had light-up Captain America Mickey Mouse ears that our friends, Melissa & Paul, brought back from Disneyland Paris. We finished getting ready and headed out of the room to get to the bus that would take us to the parking lot of Epcot, where the staging area is prior to the race.
Cathy in her Captain America costume for the Disney Princess 5K
We disembarked and walked through security (no bag line…WOOT) and went to see what characters we could get our photos taken with. We managed to hit up Tiana (one of my personal favorite princesses) and Merida. Then we opted to head into the corral area and get to Corral C. We had a long wait being in that corral, so we took a seat and watched the different videos running on the big screen and the earlier corrals parading over to the start line. Cathy pointed out that there were plenty of “overly optimistic” people in those earlier corrals. While the Disney 5K is officially untimed, we both made sure we had our Garmin watches primed and ready for our start. Before we knew it, it was our turn to make the march toward the start line…and it took a few waves, but we got our fireworks and we were off.
Me as Wonder Woman (not the planned Iron Man) for the Disney Princess 5K
Except I was off at my speed and Cathy immediately said, “I don’t go that fast.” HA!! So, I fell back and got moving with Cathy, who proved to be a pro at the Disney cuts through the crowds. I also don’t know how she wasn’t dying in long sleeves and long leggings, but she was holding her own. I did get ahead of her a few times, but immediately would fall back to her side. The morning was humid and warm…the low 70s with humidity in the 90s. MEH. So, honestly, how she wasn’t dying, I will never know. That being said, in that sort of humidity, she did get a bit of a side-stich so we switched to the Galloway Method (run/walk) so that she could have some recovery time. This proved to be a fantastic option, as she walks faster than she runs. Honestly. When we hit the construction workers, she even heckled them right back. Because, that’s Cathy for you.
I would give her little pep-talks, and we ducked into the World Showcase, which now meant we were tackling some hills. It was crowded, but it wasn’t phasing her. I let her choose her walk segments, where it was hard for ME to keep up with her at times. But I made her run the downhills because downhills are my favorite speed. We ducked out of the Showcase and then back in and started to make our way toward Spaceship Earth…which meant we were getting close to the finish. We do have to make this strange turn around thing before heading to the exit. We rounded the corner, and I could see our finish line. I reached back to her to take her hand and we headed toward the finish line. She kept reminding me that my go was a different speed from hers. But, we crossed the finish line! It was awesome. And our official 5K distance was a new PR for Cathy, where she clocked in at 46:26, beating her previous PR by well over a minute. We received our medals and made our way out to get official photos and then get the snack boxes and head back to the resort. We took our turns showering, changing, and snacking before we headed out to spend the rest of the day at Epcot!
We did lots of character stops that day, Pluto, Baymax, Ralph & Vanellope, Elsa, Ana. The Festival of the Arts was going on, so there were plenty of food booths happening. And Cathy decided to forgo her beloved schwarma once again and eat around the world. I already knew my big meal of the day was going to be a Beyond Meat Burger at the Liberty Inn with Celiac-safe fries. I was really looking forward to that.
Cathy & Me with Baymax
Ralph, Cathy, Me & Vanellope
Cathy & Me with Elsa
Me & Cathy with Ana
After we completed our time at Epcot, we headed to Disney Springs and hiked over to Erin McKenna’s to get some gluten-free and vegan goodies. We ended up with a box of delicious baked goodies and then headed back to the Art of Animation to clean up, get things prepped for another early morning, let me foam roll, watch Food Network, and get some rest.
Me dressed as Zootopia’s Judy Hopps for the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Race: Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 23, 2019
Once again, another race this trip where I didn’t get to wear the outfit I originally intended to wear. My original plan was to dress up like Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. I couldn’t find the material to have my friend or my mom work up an actual costume for me (everything was either the wrong type of fabric or not close to the correct color). So…I put it up for a vote on my social media as to which costume I should revisit for the 10K…Vanellope von Schweetz (Wreck it Ralph) or Judy Hopps (Zootopia). Between Instagram and Facebook…Judy Hopps won it going away.
Cathy has a new RunDisney race shirt…and her awesome sign!
This just happened to also be the race that my coach, Daniel, wanted me to really push myself on and race. No problem. Save for the 74 degree morning temperature and the 95% humidity. I knew in this costume I would die racing, but, dammit, that was what I was there to do. So, with a bunch of layers on top, a carrot recorder, a ZPD badge, and a full hair extension piece over the top of my head to make the “bunny ears”…I was as ready as I could be to race this 10K.
Once again, we headed out of the room to get to the bus and settle in for the drive over to the staging area again. We didn’t spend time getting Princess pictures ahead of time this time around. Instead, we went to scope out the spectator area for Cathy. We were stopped by some volunteers and told that it wasn’t open yet. Apparently, according to Cathy, it’s very much like rope drop at one of the parks…pure stampede and elbows thrown to get a spot. She didn’t want to end up not able to see me on the 10K start so, I went to stand in the group waiting to get into the corrals…and soon were let in. I immediately went over to the tables and got some water to attempt to get ahead on hydration. This was one of the few times I raced a 10K with a hydration belt, mostly because I needed it as Judy’s utility belt, but with the heat, I was happy to have a steady source of water if needed.
Me at the start of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was in Corral A for the rest of the challenge weekend, so I wasn’t going to be waiting around for long. I did get into the corral early and moved toward the front before carefully taking a seat (my costume involves a bunny tail…so…yeah). I wasn’t going to waste any energy standing up though. NOPE. I wanted to really give my best to the race itself. And before you knew it…I was heading out of the corral and lining up for the 10K. I was in the second wave to go off…and Cathy actually did manage to catch me as I headed out.
The first part of the 10K is pretty dull. It’s a lot of road. As I started out hard, I passed a group of runners that were staying together and heard one of them say, “I guess she’s not stopping for photo ops.” It made me laugh. Not today. Not this race. This was the one I was supposed to give my all in. At about the second mile, we get sent up a ramp, the biggest hill we face in this race, but I felt strong as I powered up it, giving a mental thanks to my friend Christine, who has been training with me and having us do more hills than I like on our runs. I wasn’t going to look at my splits, but I felt like I was moving fast and strong.
At about Mile 3.5, we duck into the World Showcase (FINALLY) and run around about half of it. This is where it gets fun, because they really do up the park nicely with employees out their cheering, music blaring, and the atmosphere is just different from the road miles. I got a few shout-outs from the employees with “GO JUDY.” I pumped my arm in the air in response. We are directed out of the showcase and are directed toward the Boardwalk. I hate running on the Boardwalk because it can be slippery at times (they actually have an announcement about this as you approach the actual boardwalk). I traversed it safely, yet cautiously, and transitioned back to the pavement, feeling like I was picking it back up.
Runners take the roads back into Epcot, hitting the actual park this time. I got a few more Judy Hopps shout outs and was loving it. I poured a cup of water over my head at one of the water stops and learned that that was a HUGE mistake…because my long hair extensions were now sticking to my arms and driving me crazy. How people who have really long hair and keep it down when they run manage it, I will never know.
I love every race that ends in Epcot because you get to run the light-up path around Spaceship Earth. It’s beautiful when it’s still dark out. I pushed up and around, and worked my way to the park exit, where they send you past some blaring music and toward that finish line.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was so happy to see the finish and as I was running toward it, heard my name announced and everything. As I got closer, I could hear someone approaching from behind, and used my best Kelsie kick (she is WAY better at it than me) to stay ahead of that person and cross with my hands up in the air for victory. I stopped my watch and was SHOCKED when I saw a 48 at the front of my time. I really pushed hard in that race…and didn’t want to feel disappointed by my time…but I felt disappointed by my time and that I really probably could have pushed it a little more and much harder. But I had given my all in the end…the heat and humidity had just taken its toll.
I met up with Cathy at the runner’s reunion area, after having her shout “Hey Fluffbutt” over the wall at me after I got my medal, my snack box, my water, and my official photo taken. I actually did this twice and was glad I did, because the first one was awful. Sometimes you just know. Lines for the princesses weren’t long, so we hopped in to get photos with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Elena, and Cinderella. Cinderella said that she bet Judy Hopps could teach her mice a little more discipline. God, I love meeting Disney characters.
Post-10K race with Sleeping Beauty
Post-10K race with Elena
Post 10K race with Cinderella
We hopped on the bus to head back to the Art of Animation resort where I showered, changed, and then ate cold leftover noodles from Skippers and split one of the GF and Vegan Donuts we got from Erin McKenna’s with Cathy. And then…we were off to spend the day at Hollywood Studios, where I rode Tower of Terror twice, got on Star Tours twice (one time I was FINALLY the spy), checked out the new Toy Story Land, I had my best game ever on the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin (I came CLOSE to Cathy’s score. Usually I suck). And then, we departed Hollywood Studios to head out of the Disney World bubble and hit up Toasted, a gourmet Toasted Cheese place in Orlando. They have Celiac-safe options, vegan options, and safe Rosemary & Truffle Fries. HELLO!! This seemed to be the best pre-half marathon option for me and it was worth the drive (even though then we were informed that they now had a location very close to Disney World). Then…back to the hotel to rotate through showers, foam rolling, Food Network (you know the drill). And then…rest. The half marathon was all that was left.
Oh, but let’s not forget…my official results of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K were that I finished in 48:49. I was 97/12,274 finishers overall. I was 44/10,466 female finishers. And I was 8/1549 people in my age division. So, I mean, it was a really good finish…but I knew I could do better. I wasn’t going to let it disappoint me. I felt like I gave my all that morning.
Ready to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon as Snow White!
Disney Pincess Half Marathon
Race: Disney Princess Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 24, 2019
Final day of early morning 2:20 am wake-up alarms. When you get to the last race in the race series, you are pretty much ready for said series to be over. I was pretty excited about the half marathon because I was given no pace goals, simply to treat it as a training run. My race was the prior day…on the 10K. I love having a no stress race, especially at Disney.
My costume was much easier to get into, so getting ready was a breeze. My nieces (Kaytlynn & Baileigh), decided that I should dress up like Snow White for the half marathon. And thus, my mom created a new top (my old Snow White top was pretty much dead after the Dopey Marathon in 2014), and Snow White was running again. It was another hot and humid morning, but there was a bit of a breeze this time. And that was helpful for sure. Cathy and I headed out to catch the bus right on time, and made it to Epcot without any issues. YAY!! And I had plenty of time to meet up with people I was hoping to meet up with. BONUS!
Meeting up with Tarra before the race!
The problem was, I was the only person from my local MRTT/SRTT group that was in Corral A. The rest were in Corral F and starting later. Meaning…they weren’t going to arrive until later. Stephanie, a friend I met through Instagram, was running as well, but she was in traffic and Corral A was needing to get loaded in. My friend Janelle attempted to find me, but apparently I had already made it to the corral. She was in A…but we never did find each other. BUT…all that being said, I did manage to get hugs, greetings, photos, and some catch-up talk time with a friend of mine from my Elementary/Middle/High School days…who was on my softball team and everything – Tarra. So that was amazing. She and her husband were running the half and we had hoped we would be able to catch up with each other prior to the race. It was the only meet-up that happened for me.
We eventually parted ways and I knew I needed to start making that spectacularly long hike from the staging area to the corrals. It’s a great warm-up and…I didn’t need to sprint it like I did for the marathon during Dopey 2018. Corral A is a bit of a bear to get to though…all the way up and a bit of off-roading. But I got there, got inside, moved up to where I wanted to be, and took a seat. I had a bit of time before things kicked off and I didn’t want to be standing the entire time.
Cathy’s view of Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom
But, soon they were preparing to send the wheelchair racers off. And then…the waves for Corral A. I was in the 2nd wave to take off. The fireworks went off and we were on our way, taking on the dark highway of Disney World, making our way toward Magic Kingdom. It’s a lot of road, a lot of screens and character stops, and a lot of just knowing what awaits you on Main Street inside Magic Kingdom. I didn’t make characters tops, although the lines are never long for me. I wanted to really treat this as a true training run, my only caveat being that I would walk every water stop. I wanted to stay on top of my hydration as the race went on because I hadn’t been running in heat and humidity. It was 20 and below back in Indiana. Around Mile 3-ish, I think, I saw the monorail wing by. I actually wondered if Cathy was on that one, as she skipped the race start to hopefully catch me on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. She has attempted to do this twice before, and I have always beat her to the castle. She said that is the one downside to cheering on a “fast” runner.
Cathy found a prime viewing spot inside Magic Kingdom
I ticked off those highway miles and made it to Magic Kingdom. This is, by far, the best part of this race. You duck inside and make the turn onto Main Street. The crowd is amazing. This is the best part of any Disney race that sends you through Magic Kingdom. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the screaming and waving crowd, there was Cathy! She had a sign, a cowbell, and was filming me as I made my way up Main Street. I gave a wave as I went by and then made the turn to go into Tomorrowland. From there, runners cruise through Fantastyland, then through the castle, before exiting through Liberty Square and out through Frontierland. It’s the best part of the race. I always look forward to the dash through the castle itself and the photographers stationed on the winding path down towards Liberty Square. It’s amazing. But then the cheers and lights fade and you find yourself back out on the roads, making your way back toward Epcot.
There is a lot of highway on this course, but Disney does it’s best with characters and DJs and music. And every mile marker has a different character and a theme song on it, so it is something to look forward to. After Magic Kingdom, you’re halfway through the race.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
The best part, for me, after that is the Green Army Guy, the ones from Toy Story, that is stationed on a hill around Mile 10. You often here him shouting at the runners to get up the hill and other motivation. As I was nearing him, he shouted, “I want to hear you make some noise.” And none of the runners around me did anything. But I’m a good group exercise veteran and I went, “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” And he ran with it. I got a whole call-out just for me. “That’s right Snow White! That’s right, Snow. You’re going to find your finish line. You’re not going to be Grumpy or Sleepy. You won’t feel Dopey. You’ll feel Happy when you cross that finish line. Go get it, Snow! Don’t be Bashful.” It was amazing!!
At Mile 11, I spotted the infamous Balloon Ladies on the opposite side of the course. There were a lot of people darting back and forth over the road as there were port-o-potties on our side of the course. I noticed, later, that these runners were just at Mile 1 at this point. And I was 2 miles away from being done. Crazy!
Just after crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
At Mile 12, we were directed back into Epcot to make the dash through to get to Spaceship Earth. I love this part of the race. Right as I was coming up toward it, one of the volunteers closed one side and directed me and another woman the opposite way. They do this to help with the flow of traffic. The woman I was running with was like, “Why did they do that?” So I tried to explain while running with her. We made another turn and she said, “We have to be close to being done.” I told her we were going to round a corner, run past a gospel choir, then make another turn and she should see the finish line. And then I said, “Go get it!”
My favorite part of any half at Disney World is that gospel choir before the finish line. It is just such a mood lifter. You just feel good. I mad the turn and started down the path toward the finish line. And I crossed it, feeling really relieved to be done. Another hot Florida race complete. I spotted Cathy up in the stands and waved as I walked to go get my medal. As I made my way through the line, I had to veer off to pick up the challenge medal as well. They take a picture of you with your bib at the expo…so they have volunteers who check every challenge participant before letting them through to get the challenge medal. I snagged a snack box from the guy on the very end who said “We have the best bananas over here.” HA! And then I went to get my official photo done.
Heather & I post-race!
Afterwards, I exited through bag check and found Cathy. She said that lines weren’t too bad for characters, so we decided to get in line for some. On the way, I spotted Heather Shultz, and had to go say HI to her. She ended up coming to stand in line for some princess shots with us. It was nice to get to talk to someone I cheer on through social media so much. We had gotten in line to meet Pocahontas, but right when we got up there, they switched her out for Merida. Oh well. We took the photo op anyway. We also got photos with Mulan and with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) before we decided to hop on a bus back to the resort so I could get cleaned up and we could head out to Port Orleans French Quarter to get some celebratory Gluten Free Beignets (they took over an hour and that’s another long and rambling story that I won’t get into here, but I was PISSED).
Me with Merida
Me & Cathy with Mulan
Me with Aurora
Anyway, my official time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon was that I finished in 1:45:24. Not bad for walking those water stops (and I walked EVERY one). I was 176/20,088 finishers overall. I was 89/17,099 female finishers. And I was 14/2665 people in my age division. Not half bad for a training run, eh?! I was quite happy with it.
So, another Disney race weekend and challenge in the books. I hadn’t done the Disney Princess Half Marathon since 2013, so it was nice to return to it. And, with the water stop walks I made myself take, I almost tied my time from 2013 (it was 1:45:06). So…yeah. I love coming to Disney to run and while Disney Princess seems to be one of the more popular races of the ones offered, I was so happy that I came back to it. Next time, I hopefully won’t wait 6 years to come back.
As some of you know, I have been training, very specifically, very diligently, and quite intensely for my Spring marathon! I chose one out of the area, but close enough to drive. Honestly, this is one of the most vigorous training plans I have been through when working toward the marathon distance. As I may have mentioned (it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, I can’t remember), I hired a new coach. He was my physical therapist back in 2017 when my hip flexor paralyzed itself, and he got me quickly back on the road. After not reaching any running goals last year, I really needed to reassess my training, and after talking to him, hired him on to train me. And my life has never been the same.
I have had some of the highest mileage weeks I have had in 6 years. I’m not saying that to brag, because I am aware that one extra mile could be the tipping point to injury. But, as I said, Daniel used to be my physical therapist and he knows my weaknesses better than I do. He also knows that in order to speed me up and work on endurance, it means a mix of easy/slow runs and hard speed sessions. We all know how I feel about speed work, but he hasn’t made me cuss him out or cry yet…so his method is working.
I will say, I’m exhausted by the end of the week and look forward to my rest day to prepare for the long runs (yep…runs) of the weekend. Sometimes they are easy runs, sometimes one of them involves some speed. But there is always a reason for where and why he wants me to do runs a certain way. And I’m working hard to hit suggested paces, without going over the edge to injury. It can be a fine line, especially when you’ve dealt with injuries over the years. Last year, I made it out without a single one, and I hope to continue that trend this year.
All that being said, I am getting a slight down week this week as I am headed to Disney World (you know this if you follow me on Instagram) for the Disney Princess Race Weekend. I am participating in the 5K (running it with my roommate at her pace), the 10K (which is what Daniel wants me to race), and the half marathon (training run). I’m super stoked. My last trip to Disney was in January 2018, and it was a hot mess express of a dumpster fire.
So…packing has commenced and I finally got around to trying on my costumes yet. Does my coach realize that I dress up in costumes? Probably not. LOL! But its Disney…if you don’t do SOMETHING Disney related (doesn’t have to be full-on costume), you have no soul.
So…my 5K costume had to change. My roommate is running as Captain America, so I thought I’d go as Iron Man (Tony Stark FOREVER!).
Sadly, the outfit I ordered to do this costume, didn’t match. And the company I ordered the top from hasn’t done much to get me the new top in time for this race. So…I thought about trying to put together a Captain Marvel costume (not enough time), or do something else Avengers…but I just couldn’t cobble together what I needed in the short span of time remaining. So that means, I stick to super hero, but cross the streams into the DC universe and run as…Wonder Woman (DUH!)!
Not what I wanted…but it will work. It will do. And besides, I am Wonder Woman, so might as well stick to my nickname.
For the 10K…I was having a hard time settling on a costume. Believe it or not, I was originally going for Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.
That being said, it’s really hard to find running clothes that are that golden yellow and not a fluorescent yellow. I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to maybe get fabric for my friend Melissa to sew a costume for me, but there wasn’t anything there that would work. I was sad, but not giving up on this costume. It WILL happen, because she’s perfect for me to run as. So, I had to make a choice between two costumes that I have run in before…Officer Judy Hopps (Zootopia) or Vanellope von Schweets (Wreck it Ralph). I put it up for a vote on both Facebook and Instagram and the winner…
Pretty excited to bust out this costume again. Hoping that I get the “ears” just right like last time.
The one race that I knew for certain which character I was dressing up as was the half marathon. My nieces, Kaytlynn and Baileigh, chose for me to run as one of the most classic princesses from the Disney films.
My mom made my top for this costume, as the one I wore when I ran Dopey in 2014, was shredded. I mean, the sleeves are made out of ribbons. My mom did a PHENOMENAL job and I can’t wait to share the actual costume with you guys! I tried it on today as we started packing for the trip and I really just want my mom to make all my running costumes from now on. She did my Vanellope top I wore in Dopey 2018, and it was perfection. This one…also perfection. Excited to reprise my role as Snow White for 13.1 magical miles.
I’m going to be trying some new stuff out in the upcoming weeks, but I needed to get through Disney before I make fresh purchases. I’m thinking of switching to the hydration vest versus the belt I’ve worn since 2012. My friend Christine let me borrow hers and I loved it. So…that will be a big purchase, but one I can’t wait to try. Also…my new fuel. It’s pricey, but it seems to work! I’m using old fuel I still had kicking around for now. It’s fine, because I like it as well. As long as it doesn’t make me sick or hurt my stomach, or as long as I don’t have to chew it…I’m happy to use it.
So, seven challenging weeks of training down. Ten more to go. And now, here come the weeks where I also throw in some races (either as training runs, or to race) and I’m pretty stoked to get that going. Stay tuned, as I hope to keep you informed of more of my training highlights and shortcomings (because I’m human and I’m not going to nail everything). But that will have to wait until I get back from Disney.
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
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.
If you know anything about me…you’ll know that I am a HUGE soccer fan.
While I never played soccer myself, my love of the game goes back to 1994, when my parents took my sister, brother and I to a World Cup Match at Giant’s Stadium. I was hooked ever since then.
Four years ago…Louisville, Kentucky got a USL soccer team, and my roomie, my friend Patrick, and I went in for season tickets…and we splurged. Midfield.
Patrick moved away, and our friend Natalie took over his tickets. And for the past four years…we have been dedicated to our Boys in Purple!
Around this time last year…Louisville City FC…our USL soccer team…won the USL Championship Cup. It was years in the making, as we had made it to the USL Eastern Conference Finals the previous 2 years and to FINALLY get the win and put them into the Championship…was a thrill.
We took our friends Melissa and Paul. And…with 90 minutes gone, Cameron Lancaster buried one in the net, keeping us from extra time, and…dreaded penalty kicks. We won.
Paul, Me, Cathy, & Melissa after Louisville City FC won the 2017 USL Cup Finals!
This year, our beloved team had it’s share of ups and downs. For one thing, we lost our coaching staff about halfway through the season. We had three players step up to be player coaches until the positions could be filled. We had a bunch of injuries. And on a small roster, that has an impact. We had to get used to a new coach and his way of playing. We lost games we should have won. We won games we expected to lose. The team knew what it needed to do to get back to the playoffs again, and they did it without egos. And that, is one of the many reasons I love this team.
Last weekend, while I was in Indianapolis preparing to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon…Louisville City beat the New York Red Bulls II and became the Eastern Conference Champions…for the second year in a row. On to the finals. The Western Conference Champions this year…Phoenix Rising. Headed by none other than Didier Drogba! HOLY CRAP.
BUT…our usual battleground, Slugger Field, has an event happening the day ESPN chose for the match. So…the game had to be moved…to a smaller venue. Tickets sold out in 20 minutes. Thankfully, as a season ticket holder, I was able to snag two tickets ahead of general sale.
They added temporary bleachers to the stadium for this match to allow for a bigger turnout. But it was SOLD OUT and the seats were packed. Despite the cold night.
I arrived, ready to see our team take on Phoenix Rising…and Drogba himself.
It was an honor to be able to watch him play.
The entire match was intense. I normally take videos on my phone, but not last night. I didn’t touch my phone. And that’s not just because I was wearing two pairs of gloves on my hands, two pairs of socks on my feet, and four layers on my upper body. No joke. I was NOT going to freeze out there. The first half came to an end…with no goals scored.
But then…at about the 62nd minute…
Luke Spencer scores an incredible goal putting us ahead. Now…we just had to hang onto it.
The stadium was pure electricity. Lots of stomping, cheering, clapping, screaming, it was magical. And stressful. Because every time Drogba was given the ball (it seems Phoenix’s entire game plan was…get the ball to Drogba), and he took a shot, I think we all collectively held our breaths.
Yellow cards were issued. Substitutions were made. Stoppage time was played. And the final whistle blew.
And Louisville City FC made HISTORY last night by being the first USL team to win back-to-back championships.
Damn…that was fun. It also meant that my roomie and I stayed to watch the award ceremony, waited to see if the players made the rounds…and then called it a night. We walked back to the car, just buzzing with sheer adrenaline from the win. It was amazing. God, I love this team. Proud to be a founding member.
It was a late night (which included a Burger King drive-thru stop for my roomie as she was STARVING)…but we got home and I went into my room and called it a night. I had a spin class to get to the following morning. I was glad I went, but damn, it was very hard to get myself out of bed when my alarm went off this morning.
Any of my local peeps attend Louisville City FC matches? Are you season ticket holders? For those of you who don’t live in or near Louisville, what sports are you into? Did you play that sport as a kid? What teams do you support? I want to know!!
For now…just riding the celebration wave into the weekend.
Much love for another fantastic season, Louisville City FC!
Cathy & Me at the USL Cup Championship Finals at Lynn Stadium in Louisville, KY.