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

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

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

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 12, 2019

Time: 21:34*

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

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

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

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

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My mom: Dottie Brady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what friends do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race: Mercy Health Glass City Marathon

Place: Toledo, OH

Date: April 28, 2019

Time: 3:38:46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My mom – she’s a warrior!

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

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Race day ready!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just before Mile 4 in the Glass City Marathon

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

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

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Me heading into the finish line of the Glass City Marathon

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

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

WHAT?!

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

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

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

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

3:38.

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

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

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My Spicy Ginger Tofu & Ancient Grains bowl from Corelife Eatery

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

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

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

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

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.

Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 23, 2017)

Me heading into the finish line of Fast Freddie’s – New Albany, IN

Race: Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, IN

Date: November 23, 2017

Time: 36:36

Magic happens when you let it.

As we are all pretty much aware by now…my body has taken a liking to falling apart on me as any sort of mileage or speed ramps up.  It never fails.

Ever.

So, after my last round of physical therapy had to be cut very short due to insurance not wanting to cover it (because, hell, I could walk around…I don’t HAVE to run, right?…seriously, that is a can of worms I need to keep the lid on because it makes me mad any time I am reminded of it), my physical therapist recommended that I start using a run/walk method.  So, for awhile I started by walking…and running through song choruses.  I hate listening to music when I run, but I wasn’t going far at all.  Then I decided to try 9 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking.  EH…I wasn’t such a fan.  Then, I decided to hit up Jeff Galloway’s site and his recommendation for my pace was a 4 minute run with a 30 second walk.  I tried that…and felt that it worked.  Even my training partners have been gracious to do this style with me.

That being said, my runs have been built on a run/walk process.  There were a few mornings, I ran short mileage without the walk breaks…but for the most part, I’ve been doing this run/walk method to keep my hips from breaking down before January strikes.

This will be more difficult to do as the weather gets colder…but I’ll save the weather rant for another blog.

Needless to say, in the days leading up to my traditional Thanksgiving race, I had no expectations for pace at all.  My parents were going to be in town for Thanksgiving and my intention was simply to go out and just finish.  If I needed walk breaks, especially on the hills, I had permission to take them.  After all, January is the prize I am seeking.  A local “turkey-trot”…not so much!

I was running long on weekends by myself for a few runs, which was fine.  I normally run in Louisville, but when I have no one to meet up with…I simply stay here and run my local area…which includes…always…the Fast Freddie route.  In the long run (heh…running pun), I think doing this helped me tremendously on race day.  I ran it at least 4 times prior to race day in some combination of my long distance runs.  So that was helpful…especially since my body is anti-hill for the most part.

The night before the race, I went over to the 4-H Fairgrounds across the street from my apartment to pick up my t-shirt and bib.  That was simple, and my parents got to walk over with me before we headed out for dinner at Dragon King’s Daughter.  Sushi.  Vegan sushi was happening!  YUM!  I usually do pizza the night before, but I also didn’t want to go over to Louisville for gluten-free pizza that could be iffy on the gluten-free-ness.  So…I branched out.  After all…no expectations meant that I could stray from my routine a little and not fret over it.  After dinner, we returned home and my mom and I prepped a few dishes for Thanksgiving before we settled in for the night.  I checked the weather (it was going to be effin’ cold) one last time and went to grab some leggings and a lined top to run in.  I asked my dad to choose a color for my compression sleeves, and he said “black and blue?”  So…I had both colors so I grabbed one of each.  HAHAHA!!  Why not?  With that taken care of, we settled in for the night.  I went to crash on the couch and set an alarm to give me time to wake up and get some more stuff prepped (the turkey had to go into the crock pot) and stretch prior to the race.

Angela, Michelle, and Me before the Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

Morning came and I started drinking water, ate a light breakfast, and got my stretches in.  My mom emerged to help me with stuff in the kitchen and we got the onions, apples and bbq sauce into the crock pot with the turkey.

My dearest friends, Michelle and Angela, were coming over before the race.  I offer all my friends my warm apartment on Fast Freddie morning.  And Angela was bringing Persimmon Pudding (gluten free & dairy free) with her as well.  YAY!!  And…YUM!!  We had enough time for photos and some talking before heading out to the start line.  There was a new backdrop for the race, so we took full advantage of that.  I may have worn my unicorn hoodie over there.  If I didn’t care about it getting sweaty, I might have considered racing in it.  But I bet it’s a pain to wash.  And it’s white. So…yeah.

As people started congregating on Green Valley Rd, I knew that the race was getting close to start time.  I always try to start up close on this race.  It is now timed, but still based on gun time.  So, starting close to the start line gives me a more accurate finish time.  Michelle and Angela started up with me and so did a random guy with a stroller who was teasing some kids by saying, “You need to run fast.  You don’t want the old guy with a stroller to pass you.  That would be embarrassing.”  I don’t know about the kids, but he passed me at the start and I never saw him again.

I have a unicorn hoodie. Your argument is invalid.

Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast starts promptly at 9 am.  Fred came out to give the usual information about the start.  He always lets us know that his cue to runners is “get ready” and then the whistle.  And…as always…that’s what he did.  And at the whistle blow…we were off.

I saw Cathy with my sign and my dad ringing a cowbell and my mom with this clappy-noise-maker thing and it made me smile.  I settled into a comfortable pace and just let it ride.  No goals means no pressure.  And I often perform better when I’m not bogged down with a set time goal or pace.  Some people perform better with those.  I don’t.  I panic.  I’m not your typical runner, you know.

The past two years have seen me with hips that basically want to fall apart.  My right hip labrum remains torn, but I’ve worked around it and it rarely bothers me.  Sometimes when it’s cold outside…but it isn’t often anymore.  My left hip fell apart twice this year.  Once in January and again in July. MEH.  Physical therapy was life for awhile, but I was able to get back to running once we got the hip flexors and core to work together.  All that said, with the hip problems…the hills I run at times are slow and sometimes bring me to a walk.  No shame.  I’m trying to not have this problem in the future and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this body healthy and race-ready again.

Today…despite it being 30 degrees outside, not counting the wind chill…I felt GOOD!  And I ran without feeling out of breath or like I was running too fast at the start down Green Valley road and over the first small hill.  No struggle.  I was loving it.  I was smiling too!  The first turn happens just before the first mile marker and taking the turn at the light at the end of the road didn’t even phase me.  I didn’t look at the clock at the marker, I just kept going.  I still felt good.  I didn’t feel out of breath.  I was enjoying this.  Easy!

Mt. Tabor Road is a series of rolling ups and downs.  By now, the body is warmed up and I can take these in stride, for sure.  Since I had run this a few times leading into the race, I handled these better than I anticipated. My biggest complaint heading into Mile 2 was the group (probably cross-country runners) that came up behind me and got right in front of me, spreading across the ENTIRE street making it virtually impossible to pass.  And that sucked when I hit one of my downhills that I rely on to let me make up for some of the slow downs on the hills. UGH!.  We turned onto Grant Line road and hit Mile 2.  After this mile marker, I hopped up on the sidewalk just to get past the fanned out amoeba group and got back on the road as I barely cleared them.

But now we were heading to the part of the race that I think is the most difficult.  I took the turn into Sam Peden Community Park, which takes us to Mile 3, and immediately get to take on the long hill.  This hill isn’t steep, but it goes on for awhile.  So, it really is a climb.  Long and drawn out…not short and steep.  MEH. It’s about a half mile of climbing before it levels out at the Mile 3 marker.  I didn’t actually slow too much on this, which was surprising.  But I did ease up on pace and focused on my form.  When it leveled out, I could feel my pace pick up and I still felt good.  This never really was feeling hard.  I love running comfortably.  I rounded the corner and started to make my way out of the park and take on the rolling and steeper hills of Schell Lane.

I used to dread Schell Lane.  It is the hilliest part of the race.  The difference is these hills are shorter but steeper.  While I lose power on the uphills, we have nice downhills on the other side.  LOVE those down hills.  There were people out in the neighborhood blaring music and cheering, even in the bitter cold.  This is one of my favorite parts of the race to be honest.  I plowed up the last (and hardest) hill and was rewarded with the best downhill ever…all the way down Daisy Lane.  I made the turn, and pushed my pace on that downhill without trying.  Gravity is a wonderful thing.  Anytime I run this route, this is my favorite part.  I feel fast and free.  Always.  Four miles…done.

It was here that I caught a glimpse of the clock.  29 minutes and some seconds.  I did the math and knew that if I could keep a 7-something pace, I could come in faster than last year’s 37 minutes.  I thought I was picking up my pace to run in the last mile…but I wasn’t really.  HA!!  It sure did feel that way in my head.

Me heading into the finish line of the Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

As we move past the marker for half a mile to go, you start to get people out walking their dogs, or who are waiting on friends/family to finish.  The real crowd is right near the finish and I was almost there.  There were some people who had finished and were already cheering everyone in.  I made the turn to run it into the finish and could hear Cathy screaming and my dad just ringing that cowbell.  I crossed the finish line and saw the clock said 36 minutes and seconds after it.  I came closer to last year’s goal time without trying.  Last year I tried and came up a minute short.  I knew my fastest Fast Freddie was back in 2013, when I ran it for a little girl with brain cancer…and that was in 36:54.

I went around the back of the building and grabbed a bottle of water and continued on to meet my parents and Cathy.  When Cathy met me she said, “You were like…36:36!”  And I said, “What was my PR on this race?”  When she looked it up it became clear…I had a new 5 mile PR.  And I did it without trying.  In fact, I was so chill that my heart rate stayed down for most of the race.  No joke.  I was in the green zone more than anything.  How’s that for some good running?

Santa and me after the Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

She went to get me delicious coffee and I went to line the road with my parents to wait for and cheer in Michelle, Angela, and Melissa and Paul (who were late getting to the race so I didn’t see them before the start).  I had coffee in hand when Michelle and Angela came booking it into the finish line.  They ran a very good 5 miles.  And after they finished, they came to help cheer in Melissa and Paul as well.

As they were coming in…I held out my hand and yelled, “HIGH FIVE ME!”  They are very compliant and did just that before they took their turn to run it in.

Whenever possible, we like to stay for the awards.  And it turns out that my time (faster than last year when I placed first in my AG)…was good enough for third in my age group.  And the award this year wasn’t another coffee cup.  It was a free race entry.  WOOT!!  LOVE IT!!  I also love that I have great friends who cheer when my name gets called.

Overall, what can I say?  I ran smart.  I ran well.  I ran fast.  And I did it all without trying or feeling like I was pushing myself hard.  And this just all fell into place for me on Thanksgiving.  It was nice to grab a PR this year…even if it took me to the LAST race of the season.  Winning.  Hey…when you’re injured for 2 years off and on…these are the victories that count the most.

Victory pose…and a new PR on the course!

After the awards, we hugged Melissa and Paul and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving, before walking with Angela and Michelle back to the apartment.  I devoured a slice of Persimmon Pudding and got to just hang for a few before they went on to get their Thanksgiving celebrations ready.

I had my amazing friend, Laura, joining us for Thanksgiving, so I went to shower and then finish up with the side dishes while Cathy checked, shredded, and made sure the turkey was ready for the carnivores.  Me…I was looking forward to Brussels Sprouts, Gluten-Free/Vegan Stuffing, Gluten-Free/Vegan Mac & Cheese and…mostly…Laura’s Mashed Cauliflower.  Holy yum!!

The official results of this year’s Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast was that I finished with an official time of 36:36…a new PR by 18 seconds.  WOOHOO!!  Still thrilled with how this race went this year.  I love suprising myself after a disappointing year.  I was 93/794 finishers this year.  I was the 26th female to cross the finish line.  And I was 3rd in my age division. And…I feel like the sub-36 minute might be in my yet.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Like I said…magic happens when you let it.

BELIEVE!

Just keep taking chances and having fun: A KDF Marathon Wrap-Up

flyIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt|The Man in the Arena

And just like that…it’s over.  Done.  Finished.  The race has been run and won and packed up.  Streets have been flooded by cars and not by athletic shoes pounding out a cadence that is either scripted by music in the earbuds or matching that racing heartbeat.  Crumbled white cups that used to hold water or Powerade have long been swept up.

It’s business as usual in Louisville, Kentucky.

This week, we had the official Wrap-Up meeting for the #KDFMarathon Ambassadors.

Let me just give you a little insight as to why this was so emotionally hard for me…

I was chosen to be a part of this amazing group of people back in the beginning of August.  So here I was, now a member of a group of 20 people that were hand selected by the Kentucky Derby Festival people to represent the Marathon/miniMarathon!  I was beyond honored, ecstatic, and ready to do what I could for this local race.

 

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The official announcement happened on August 5th for me…I was in the final group to be announced.

I had no idea how much these people and this position would change me.  Personally.  Emotionally.  I never expected or anticipated the impact that being a part of the KDF Marathon family would have on me.  But this has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life.

I’m almost 40 years old.  So that’s saying something.  Regardless of how average my life is.  HA!!

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For countless months and so many training runs…these people…this amazing, inspiring group of people…were my freakin’ backbone.  We saw each other through surgeries, recovery, losses, injuries, PRs, hard times, good times…you name it.  We stuck through it all together.  We would check in via phone, text, Facebook, e-mail…we truly became a family.  I have never seen a large group of different personalities just fall into such a happy place with each other.  Simply put…we worked.

When the photo above was taken, I knew maybe 2 of the three people in the group.  But I was talking and chatting with all of them, like I knew them for years, by the time the meeting wrapped up.  I was just getting back into the swing of things.  I had returned from Hawaii after giving my best (and ultimately, feeling let down by my performance) at the Kauai Marathon (I mean, it was my first major race back from my hip labrum tear).  Nothing hurt.  No pains.  I was ready to get excited to train for the KDF full marathon.  I had run it in 2014 as a pacer for a friend…but I really just wanted to run these streets for me this time.  Official training didn’t begin until January, but starting as early as our first meeting, we had a discount code for registration to share and we were off to the races (pardon the pun).

I had a fantastic time connecting with some of them at the Disney Wine & Dine Lumiere’s Challenge weekend!


Food.  Wine.  Running. Disney.  You better believe we were bonding.  AND we did make a point to find one another before the race…after the race…in the parks…at the after party.  We honestly…enjoyed each other’s company.  AND…texting/calling one such group member who MIGHT have slept through her alarm on the first race. *cough*

When you are a member of such a diverse group…and you can bond over one thing as simple as running…you’re going to find a lot of other things to bond over.  While we only had a few official meetings, the unofficial ones turned out to be just as important…at least to me.

I met up with Melissa once more at a Disney race…this time in January…and this time under much, much different circumstances.  On December 31, I did a 14 mile training run and ended up having a twinge of the hip flexor.  It didn’t go away.  It only got worse.  And I honestly stopped running after that.  Nothing leading into my upcoming January events.  I was heading into the Disneyland Light Side Rebel Challenge weekend.  When the orthopedic doctor wasn’t able to see me or to talk to me before I left…things got beyond stressful.  And I had more than one panic attack in California.  I remember walking to the start corrals (I was in A and Melissa was a few back) and I was seriously on the verge of tears because my hip was honestly being held together by KT Tape, ACE Bandages, and compression shorts under my costume), and Melissa stopped me and gave me the best hug ever and told me just to go have fun…stop for pictures…not even worry about the time on the watch…and that if they caught up to me and I was walking…they’d join me.  I mean…this woman….is probably one of the few people left in this world who just thinks about others like that.  Is it any wonder we all love her?  Her pep talks…work magic.  And her spirit is contagious.

Paul (Boba Fett), Melissa (Maz), and Me (Rey)...because STAR WARS!

Paul (Boba Fett), Melissa (Maz), and Me (Rey)…because STAR WARS!

Melissa has become, honestly, one of my best friends.  We hang out together…bond over gluten-free eats, and just laugh.  God, we can laugh over the silliest and stupidest things.  But…how she and I, both living in New Albany, have never crossed paths before, neither of us can figure out.  But now…we’ve got a lifetime to make up for it.

As the KDF training runs began, despite still not being able to run…AT ALL…I turned up for them.  There were some very cold mornings where I would just walk.  Sometimes 2 miles…sometimes 4…sometimes 5.  It took forever.  And I would cry.  GOD, would I cry.  But…here my amazing Ambassadors would lift my spirits with jokes, anecdotes, high fives, hugs, smiles, encouragement…THE ENTIRE TIME!  One of them (calling you out here, Chris) gave me a blanket after one of the coldest mornings that I had to walk and was determined to WALK at least half the distance.  I hurt so bad…and the cold wasn’t helping.  I still have that blanket.  Chris…I can give you back your blanket…FYI!

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Chris, Paul, Jack, Reggie, Dawn, Me, Melissa…freezing our running asses off!

We were friends…we are family!

Race morning…if it could go wrong…if it could happen…well, we all read about it or experienced it.  IT HAPPENED!  From thunderstorms, delays, nutrition being off, more delays, people getting locked in a bank, more delays…and finally a 9:15 am start…well…there is actually a lot behind all of why that happened that way and I hope those of you who swore of the KDF Marathon/miniMarathon make a point to try it out again.  It was really eye-opening to get the behind-the-scenes play-by-play by the new race director at the final KDF Ambassador Wrap-Up Meeting.  Everything had to play out that way for safety…and there is a lot the general public doesn’t understand.  You do the best you can under the circumstances, right?

The thing is…for better or for worse…we made it.  We struggled and thrived in training.  We struggled and thrived in the race.  And while we all had different paces, places, and races…we all finished this…together.  I was so honored to have been able to see most of my friends at the finish line.  I loved being able to give them that hug…because when we finish a race under even the best of circumstances, that hug can change everything.  WE DID THIS THING!  WE did this thing that WE trained for and prepared for and WE did this thing…TOGETHER!

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This past week we had the final meeting.  And while those who were able to attend were few…we had everyone there in spirit.  Over Lemon Blossoms and good conversation…we wrapped it all up and concluded our term as a 2016-2017 KDF Marathon Ambassador.

And…much to my surprise, I was awarded one of the Top Social Media Recruiter Awards…a distinction that I proudly share with Stephanie, another lady who has inspired, motivated, and befriended me.  Seriously…this was so shocking and unexpected.  And I’m honored simply to have been an Ambassador, but to include me with someone who rocked the social media world with her posts…it’s amazing to me.


One of the Ambassadors really went above and beyond when it came to recruitment and promotions.  Honestly, he would work on setting up tables at local business and gyms.  And he didn’t keep this to himself either, but invited other Ambassadors to jump in and get on it too.  And it was for that reason that Jack took home the Award for Promotions!

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Chris, Deana, Jack, and Stephanie

And the award of the night went to the person who most deserved, earned, and fought for it.  Seriously…if you could hear her back story…and then all that happened to her on the marathon course…you’d be in awe of her.  She’s one of my best friends now.  And I would be lying to say I wasn’t slightly jealous because she gets to be a part of the new group that comes together for next year…but…I’m proud of her.  Oddly enough…I even had said for a few weeks leading into this meeting that if she didn’t win Ambassador of the Year, I would be disappointed…so…Melissa Nolan..take a big freakin’ bow and get your beauty queen wave on!!

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Melissa is Ambassador of the Year

And no blog would be complete without the last shot of all of us who were able to make the meeting.  Honestly, to those pictured below and those pictured in the first group shot way at the beginning of this post…I can’t emphasize enough how much your friendship and encouragement have inspired me, moved me, and kept me going.  I had some highs during my time as an Ambassador…but I had more lows in my life…and they lifted me up and kept me going…and that, friends, is what this group is all about.  I didn’t ever feel like we had any sort of competition in our group.  We invited each other to our parties, to lunches, and even gave airport transportation.  I have a whole new group of friends in my life…and I’m forever thankful to have had this opportunity to grow not just as a runner, but as a person too.

To Deana, Chris, Stephanie, Amy, Chad, Danielle, Dawn, Jack, Jamie, Jessica, Kelsey, Leah, Madeline, Melissa, Paul, Reggie, Richie, Stephanie, and Tonya…I can’t wait to see and experience all that awaits you down the road.  I can’t wait to see how you rise above it all.  I can’t wait to see you soar over challenges and push yourself to the next level.  I can’t wait to see more starting lines…and finish lines with you.  Not strictly race-related…because we’re all in this thing called life together…and whether physical or metaphorical…we’ve got new beginnings and new ends ahead.  I can’t wait to cheer you through it all.  LOVE YOU!

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For any of you who have thought about becoming a Race Ambassador, I highly recommend it.  This has been such a rewarding experience for me.  I can’t even begin to put into words (that I haven’t already used) how much this group motivated, supported, and changed me.  They were my rocks.  And I can’t wait to see them at our unofficial Ambassador reunions and out on the streets of our amazing city!

If you want to try to get in as a KDF Marathon Race Ambassador next year…the application opens in August.  Fill it out!!  Maybe magic will happen for you too!  Chase your dreams, friends!!  See you out on the roads!!

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