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

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

Race: Bluegrass 10,000

Place: Lexington, Kentucky

Date: July 4, 2019

Time: 47:40

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

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

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

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

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

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Race ready at the Bluegrass 10,000

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

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

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Start line selfies with Cathy

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

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

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

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

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

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Me with Linda after the Bluegrass 10,000

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

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

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

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Finisher of the Bluegrass 10,000

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

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

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Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata from Bella Notte in Lexington, KY

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

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

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Stranger Things Binge Watching Marathon ready!

S

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Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN (May 18, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN

Race: Geist Half Marathon

Place: Fishers, Indiana

Date: May 19, 2018

Time: 1:49:06

Time got away from me on this race recap as we are almost one month removed from it.  My apologies.  Marathon training is back in full swing (again)…and I’ve just been busy.  Even on weeks that haven’t had a stacked training plan.  Hey…I do have an actual job (if I could make a living is a blogger…that would be amazing, but it’s not my destiny) and some obligations that happened between then and now.  But…here I am…finally getting this written up.

I will preface it with this…going into this race, being only weeks off of a full-on marathon where I attempted (and almost hit) a BQ race, my coach and I agreed to use this one as a training run.  No pushing the pace.  Keep it easy.  And with the humidity and weather trending the way it was for Saturday morning, I was relieved that this was our decision.  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Let’s start on Friday evening, after leaving work around 2-ish to head up to Fishers, Indiana to get to the expo and pick up race bibs.  I say bibs, because once again, Cathy was taking a spin at the 5K.  We did hit some traffic jams, of course, but we finally arrived and I was ready to get my race stuff and do a quick walk through of the expo (it’s tiny…honestly) before checking into the hotel just up the way.geist01

The expo was simple to explore. You can do the first part of it as you enter St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital.  There are a few vendors, but nothing that I, someone from out of town, really needed to stop and check out.  So, Cathy and I maneuvered ourselves to the back of the room to the table set up for packet pickup.  I went to get my bib for the half, and Cathy went to get her special VIP bib for the 5K.  We don’t remember her signing up for VIP…but she had VIP.  So…who knows.  After that, we checked out the second half of the expo, simply walking past the booths, heading to the room near where we entered to pick up our race shirts.  The 5K was short sleeve.  The 10K was short sleeve.  The half marathon…long sleeve.  It’s an April race…if it’s not the really cool hoodie thing that I got last year…I want short sleeves.  But, the shirt was very nice…so I won’t complain.

That was it for the expo.  We were in and out in about 5 minutes and heading up the street to the hotel we stayed in last year.  Check-in took a bit longer than usual, because someone was checking in bunch of different people in different rooms (not sure for what, but it wasn’t for the race).  But eventually I got up to the front desk and got our room, up on the 2nd floor.  We hauled our luggage up to the room and now were waiting on our friend, Greg, to meet up with us so we could grab dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant (my new favorite place to grab food when in Indy).  It was taking a bit longer than expected because…traffic…so Cathy and I split a Clara Cookie that I had picked up at the Glass City Marathon expo in Toledo.  It was the Peanut Butter one.  And it was delicious.  And it was perfect to keep the tummy rumbles at bay while we waited for Greg.

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Pre-race Dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN: Spinach Mushroom Tacos with Sweet Potato Fries

He did finally make it and we headed down to see him, somehow missing him when we walked through the lobby.  We ended up doubling back and finding him.  Hugs all around before making the drive from Fishers to Carmel, Indiana to eat dinner.  We ended up finding a really good parking spot and were seated immediately at a corner table.

I had looked at menus online, so I was prepared and ready to go with my order.  Greg got the Triple Grilled Cheese and a beer.  Cathy got the Friday special of Fish & Chips (her favorite), and I got Spinach Mushroom Tacos.  I didn’t ask for extras or for hot sauce, because with the race the following morning, I was hoping to keep things mild.  With it, I got a side of the sweet potato fries (which are gluten free!).  We spent the time waiting on the food (it did actually take awhile, but they were PACKED that night) chatting and catching up on things that we had been up to.  And when food arrived, we dove in.  Tacos, however, are one of those foods that once you pick it up to eat…you’re committed and you just have to keep going on it.  So the tacos disappeared first…then I hit up the fries.  We all seemed pretty satisfied with our meals.  Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to hang out.  I did some foam rolling.  Greg left after a bit more talking and we got ready to get some rest with a 7 am start time staring us down.

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Cathy feeling good on race morning for the Geist 5K

I always set two alarms for race morning.  I got up with the first one to take a pill…use the bathroom, then crawled back into bed for another hour.  The second alarm went off, which is also Cathy’s alarm.  We’re actually really good about staying out of each other’s way…letting each one have a turn in the bathroom, and getting ready pretty quickly.  We have this race morning thing down.  So even early start times aren’t too stressful.

With the way the morning was heating up already, I went with the new Boston crop top that my friend Natalie got me as a gift for finishing Glass City in Toledo (even without the BQ). I love this crop.  It’s motivation in and of itself.  And…shorts.  My compression sleeves were pink to honor my mom’s continuing battle against breast cancer.  I made sure I had two Nuun tablets in my hydration pack’s bladder to help balance out electrolytes, because it was definitely going to be a sweaty race.

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Loving my new crop top that Natalie gave me…my outfit for the Geist Half Marathon

We left the hotel room early, but I forgot to grab something and had to go back in.  Cathy went down to the lobby without me, where she met a runner celebrating her birthday.  Her name was Katie, and not only was she a Disney runner, but she was Bib 34, celebrating her 34th birthday.  AMAZING!!  She was super nice and I actually ended up running into her again as she and her family were headed to the hotel pool as I was heading up for a shower and to pack up to head out for lunch and then get home.

Cathy loves parking at the school which used to host the expo for this race.  We never have trouble finding a spot.  And while it is a bit of a hike down to the start line, it is never hard to get to and from the parking area so we can get back to the hotel without any stress.  So…worth it.  We parked and made the walk toward the start area.  I got a text from my friend Jay, and I went and met him at the Fishers Running Club tent.  But, like I said…start time was 7 am….so while their club was getting their photo taken, I meandered down to check out the start line.  It was about this time that I realized that I had left my fuel (save for the Generation UCan I had for 20 minutes before the start) back in the hotel room.  I had enough UCan to get me through a half marathon…but with the heat, I wasn’t sure if I would need backup or not.  So, I was bummed.  Big time!  Whoops!

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Why am I so happy? No pressure pace race!

The 10K and Half Marathon start on the right of the line.  The 5K starts to the left.  So, after snapping a couple of photos, Cathy and I parted ways: she went to line up in the 5K corrals and I went to find a spot at the start for someone who wasn’t racing.  I was hoping for at least a 1:50 half…so I stood near that pacer.  The National Anthem was sung…and the lyrics were flubbed, but we were close now to the start.  I took in some water and readied myself for a training run with a medal at the end.

I made a point to stay just in front of the 1:50 pacer in the first mile.  There were a lot of people going all-out, full throttle from the start, and I really think this worked against them that morning.  The emcee announced that it was the hottest Geist Half Marathon to date!!  So, holding back I think helped me not have burnout, like I did last year when I just gunned it at the start and then ended up having walk breaks at water stops.  I don’t think walk stops are a bad thing, but when you’re gunning for a PR…it’s not exactly something you usually incorporate.

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Cathy and I pre-race…she’s about to head to the 5K side and I’m about to line up for the Geist Half Marathon

This year…I was supposed to keep the pace easy…and treat this as a training run.  Mostly because I was fresh off a marathon.  In the end, this tactic seemed to work for me.  I never really felt awful at all.  And I was able to run the entire time.  Was it my slowest Geist Half Marathon to date?  You better believe it!  Am I okay with that?  You better believe it.

I continue to come back to Geist, despite the heat and hills (dear, God, are there ever hills!), because of the atmosphere.  It’s stunning.  The race runs you through gorgeous neighborhoods, starting at the corner you turn soon after hitting Mile 1.  The people who live there come out with speakers and with treats and with sprinklers and with sidewalk chalk and cheer and encourage.  And it just makes you feel good.  You belong there.  The 10K and Half Marathon stick together for about the first 3 miles. Just before that Mile 3 marker, 10K runners are instructed to go left, while Half Marathoners are told to keep going straight.  This year, I was running near a young man who had his headphones in, wearing a 10K shirt and bib…and didn’t hear the instructions.  So, it seemed he was getting himself into more than he was ready for.  He was yelled at by volunteers at least 5 times.  THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HEADPHONES IN A RACE.  Or, if you must, keep that volume at a reasonable level, okay?

This is the point where we cross the reservoir again (we do it the first time as we head out from the start).  I love this part because it’s gorgeous, but also because there is usually a nice breeze coming off the water.  Love it.

The halfway point came and went.  I would normally fuel at this point…but I was just relying on that superstartch to get me through the heat.  I still felt good, mostly because I wasn’t really pushing any sort of pace…wanting to just keep my momentum moving forward without stressing over a goal time.  There were plenty of water stops along the way, and some cooling stations as well.  If there was water being sprayed at any point, you better believe I was running through it.  I used the water stops to grab the cups of water and pour them over my head.  Every stop.  Without fail.  Trying to keep that core temperature down.  This worked.  Honestly.

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Me running to the finish of the Geist Half Marathon

From everything to remember on this course, I always remember that Mile 9 is a giant hill that we have to run up.  I passed a few people on this, who had shuffled to the side to walk up it.  I gave a couple of people a “nice job” as I jogged my way up.  Hills are a MAJOR struggle for me.  So why do I do this race?  It’s my PR race.  On a harder course.  So…one day, maybe it will all click again.  It wasn’t that day though.  Nope.  Not that day.  Not in that heat.  At the bottom of the hill, we make a turn to head back toward the bridge to go back over the reservoir and then back into the neighborhoods and then back to the finish line.  It was at this point, a man behind me said, “Are there any more hills?”  The volunteer stationed there said, “I don’t know…maybe little ones?”  I laughed.  Out loud.  The last 3 miles are basically retracing the start of the race.  People were still out cheering, offering orange slices, water, whatever runners might need.  More importantly were those who would shout out that you were getting close…that the finish line wasn’t far…that we looked strong.  Some people who were struggling, they would ask if they needed anything.  Honestly.  THE BEST.

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Me crossing the finish line at the Geist Half Marathon

As I was making the turn at Mile 12, I passed my friend Jay.  He told me I “looked strong” and I decided to give picking up the pace a shot.  The road to the finish line always seems long, but as you get close, you get the crowd and you get the announcer.  I passed a few people.  Got passed by some people.  But, ultimately, entered that chute and ran towards the finish line.  I saw Cathy on the sideline and she started screaming at me to cheer me in.  With hands held up…I finished the race.  Another Geist Half Marathon in the books.

Cathy made her way over to the finishers area, and had me stand under the spray of a cooling station there.  It was nice and felt really good.  Jay found me as we were leaving to head up to the VIP area for Cathy to grab free beer and some snacks.  He invited me to stop in at the Fishers Running Club tent for any sort of refreshment.  I took him up on that before we went to get official results and let Cathy have one more go at the VIP area.  I have videos on my cell phone of her first go-round in the VIP section. HA!

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Cooling off at the cooling station

I went to get my results printed and after the paper was handed to me, I glanced at it and went, “Holy crap.  Third in my age group!”  For the first time…without trying or even racing…I once again placed in my age group.  This was becoming a fun trend.  I went to the awards table next door and was handed a little cinch bag with the words “Age Group Winner” on it.  I always have use for bags…but this one would have to be on display.  We then went back to the VIP section…Cathy went in for beer and fruit and I hung out on the curb near the gated off area.  We chilled for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the hotel room so we could cycle through showers and head back to Carmel to grab lunch at…yep…Woody’s Library Restaurant again.

So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:49:06.  It was my slowest Geist Half Marathon yet…but I felt good throughout it, never really fading.  That’s a testament to Generation UCan if you ask me.  So, I was 104/942 finishers overall!  I was the 18/450 women to cross the finish line. And I was 3/87 people in the my age division! How ironic is it that I finally snagged an age group award on my slowest finish time for this race?  In 2014 (my PR year), I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th.  In 2018, I was 5th.  Nailed it.  Somehow.  Without trying.

And yes…I can’t wait to have another spin around the reservoir next year!

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Unexpected Age Group Award at the Geist Half Marathon

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.

Glass City’s Savage 5K – Toledo, OH (April 27, 2019)

 

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Me after finishing Glass City’s Savage 5K – Toledo, OH

Race: Glass City’s Savage 5K

Place: Toledo, Ohio

Date: April 27, 2019

Time: 24:19

Friends, I did not come all the way up to Toledo for this 5K.  In fact, this race was my shakeout run.  Tomorrow, the Glass City Marathon runs, in winter-like conditions, and I am not happy about it.  I didn’t train all winter to not have a beautiful day of running.  Looks like it will be 30 degrees at the start tomorrow with winds between 16-20 mph.  And that sucks.  And it has been festering in my brain since the weather changed as I was packing and then again as I was traveling up to Toledo.

I had a lot going on this past week.  Between some training runs and cross-training.  Between work and errands.  I was squeezing in baking Lemon Blossoms for the MRTT/SRTT tent at the finish line of the KDF Marathon/minimarathon.  I was getting a sports massage to get my legs primed for this effort on Sunday.  And I was having a late dinner with my friends Melissa, Paul, and the one and only baby Carrick, the night before I had to get in a car with my roommate and make the long-ass drive from Louisville up to Toledo.

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Picking up my Savage 5K race big & stadium blanket

Thankfully, Cathy handled most of my packing.  On Friday morning, I simply had to stretch, foam roll, make breakfast, get together road snacks and hydration…and yes…RACE FUEL…pack a few extra things plus toiletries in my suitcase…before taking everything down to the car, taking out the garbage, making a quick stop at Kroger, and hitting the road.  It sounds like a lot.  It was.  But I enjoyed the dinner out with my friends, and despite getting home late that night, I knew I could sleep in a bit as we were hoping to get on the road by 9:30 at the latest.  We managed.  YAY!

But it was to be a pretty rainy drive and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint.  In fact, not only did we get rain, we got about three traffic accidents that really slowed our progress into Toledo.  And the first one ended up with us taking a major detour that was out of our way, but got us where we needed to be quicker than sitting in the long line of traffic would have.  But the second one, we actually had to sit through and just creep through.  I had to really pee at this point (remember…HYDRATION!), and now I was stuck in traffic for who knows how long.  We got through that one and we managed to get to a rest stop 10 miles up the road.  YAY!  But soon we were sitting in traffic again…yes…AGAIN.  And we hadn’t even hit Dayton yet.  It. Was. A. Mess.

But…we did finally make it in to Toledo and to our hotel, the Home2Suites by Hilton.  It’s a nice little place, with a full fridge, microwave, and lots of room and space.  The beds are quite comfortable too.  We hauled our luggage in and were told that some sports teams were coming in this weekend too…looks like some kids soccer teams…but we were staying through Monday, so it really didn’t affect us at all.  We unpacked our stuff and took a moment to relax.  The expo didn’t open until 4 pm, so we had a bit of time.  But we wanted to get there close to opening, so we did eventually meander out and head down to the University of Toledo campus.  On the way, we noted that we were close to both a Kroger and a Target…just in case we needed to make any sort of stops.

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Picking up my Mercy Health Glass City Marathon packet and half-zip.

The expo itself was held in the Savage Hall Sports Arena.  It isn’t a large expo, but it was big enough that we walked through a couple times.  But, we made our first official stop all the way at the back…at the packet pick-up.  I had to get both my Savage 5K (my shakeout run) packet and my Mercy Health Glass City Marathon race packet as well.  This was very seamless and easy, to be honest.  I had my bib number in my e-mail and showed my ID.  Simple.  The 5K gives you a soft stadium blanket.  You can pay extra for a t-shirt, but why?  Love different race swag.  I got a yellow half-zip for the full marathon and Cathy got her bib for the 5K as well.  With those in hand, we went to have her knees (that had been acting up this past week) taped up by a chiropractor that was there in the expo…and then shopped.  I picked up some gluten-free and vegan protein cookies that were being sold and sampled there.  Really good.  And also got the Glass City Marathon Bondi Band.  We wandered back over to official merch, where I picked up a hoodie and a race t-shirt (compliments of Cathy).  And then we headed out.

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Lots of love to Marco’s Pizza for this gluten-free pizza!!

We, sadly, were having a hard time finding food options for this race for me.  Lots of reviews on Find Me Gluten Free pointed us away from many of the options we had thought about.  But…we passed a Marco’s Pizza on our way to the expo, and I called to see if they did gluten free (the one in New Albany doesn’t, but the one near my parents in Birmingham, AL does…so it was worth a try).  They did…so we decided that we would go ahead and put our trust in Marco’s Pizza for dinner that night.
We ordered a Gluten Free Pizza without cheese, topping it with onions, mushrooms, and banana peppers.  Cathy said she didn’t even miss the cheese when ti came out.  And, the man who took our order, a guy named Davis, basically walked my pizza down the line to make sure there was no cross-contamination.  He was amazing.  And so was the pizza.  We hit up Kroger on our way back to the hotel, picking up some bananas and some gluten-free cookies to have for dessert.  I am a dessert fiend.  I must have dessert.

It was getting late.  So while Cathy showered, I stretched and did my foam rolling before getting settled into my bed while watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network (of course!).  I set an alarm for 6:30 am, since race start wasn’t until 9 am, and we called it a night.

I hate hotel pillows, for the record.  They are always too soft for me.  MEH.  But I slept relatively well, getting up to use the bathroom, do my first round of stretches in the dark, and then get back into bed for about 30 minutes until the alarm went off.

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Had to dress warm because Winter returned to Toledo, Ohio!

We were up and getting ready for the race right on time.  And it didn’t take us too long to get fully dressed and ready to head out the door.  It was 41 degrees, but real feel was 35 degrees.  I opted for capris and a long sleeve shirt for this one.  And gloves, because I have to wear gloves in anything in the 40s and below for temperatures.  I just have to.  We made the short trip down to the race, parking near a parking garage on campus and not too far from the start of the Savage 5K.  I was thinking we’d hang in the car for awhile, but we ended up throwing on some garbage bags and making the trek to the start area.  After freezing for a bit, I commented that we still had an hour to go before the start, so we went over to the Savage Hall Sports Arena to sit down and stay warm prior to the race.  We had our photo taken on our way up the stairs, but ducked inside and took a seat on the stairs to wait until it was a little closer to race start.  I ate my banana with 30 minutes to go.

We did meander out 15 minutes before the race start and went to get into our corrals.  I was in Corral A and Cathy was in Corral D.  I kept my trash bag on until about 5 minutes before the race.  I had set my Garmin to give me some certain strides for the last mile so I pulled up that workout and then set my watch to start the workout.  A few people spoke before the race start, and a blessing was given as well.  And then…at about 9:01 am…we were on our way.

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Cathy & I before heading out for the Savage 5K

As I think I mentioned above, I was using this run as a shake-out leading into tomorrow’s race.  So, I held myself back and just ran comfortably…not pushing my pace or effort on any hills.  I felt really good, which was surprising after sitting in the car for so long the day before.  I just sort of settled in at a comfortable pace, and focused on just not pushing it.  There was a bit of a hill heading into the first mile marker, but I crested it by not pushing effort or pace, and felt like I was holding back and doing a good job.  I was under an 8 min pace.  WHOOPS.

Mile 2 went a bit better as I reined it back a bit.  This was a fun mile, as we got 2 water stop options and a dash through the Greek Village near campus.  It was really nice.  And as I turned back onto main roads, I passed a cute mother/young daughter team that was running and the mom was just being very encouraging to her little girl.  It was adorable.  Back onto the streets and back through another water stop opportunity, and I was heading into Mile 3.

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Me & Cathy after finishing the Savage 5K in Toledo, OH

My watch was set up to do 80 meter pushes with equal recovery for strides.  But…my watch just beeped at me like after 1 second of running and then settled in to the extra mile I tagged on.  Glad I did that.  But now I was going manual.  Which did help to slow me down some.  I would run for .05 mile and then ease off for the same amount of time.  And I did that close to the 10 times I was supposed to (after the Garmin fuck up), and just pressed the lap button.  My data was already screwed up, but I wanted to give something to my coach to look at.  After I got that last mile…I pressed it in to a strong finish, which happens inside the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl Stadium.  I did a fast 10 miler which finished on a stadium field just like this, so that was sort of fun.  I threw my hands up as I crossed the finish and my name was announced and went to collect my medal and some water.

Now, I was waiting for Cathy to finish her race, but we weren’t allowed to wait in the finisher’s area.  I moved off to the side, just past the finish line, and waited for her, trying not to freeze.  That’s been the worst part about Cathy now doing my races…that I don’t have warm clothing to slide into at the finish right away.

She came across and I snapped pictures and shouted at her.  She was introducing me to the people she ran with for most of the race.  We took some photos, then headed over to get our Commemorative Glass Mug.  She went to go get beer and I went to get official results.  I couldn’t remember my Athlinks login though, so I ended up just looking it up on the RaceJoy app.  Then we went and got snacks, and Cathy got 2 slices of pizza (she got my slice), which she said was actually really good.

And…to my absolute shock…I came in 2nd in my age group.  What the hell?  I wasn’t even trying.  We didn’t know if I’d get my award there or if it would be mailed, and no one else seemed to know either.  Not even at the Race Info booth inside the expo.  I finally asked back by where we picked up our packets and they actually know.  Awards would be mailed.  YAY!  So, that’s something to look forward to!  We walked through the expo one last time, and Cathy thanked the booth who taped her up because she had a good 5K with their help.  And then we made the cold trek back to the car and headed out.

I needed hot coffee…stat.  So, we headed over to Bigbee Coffee (a local chain in Toledo), where I got a Neapolitan Latte with Almond Milk.  It. Was. EVERYTHING.  If you like Neapolitan ice cream…it tastes exactly like THAT!  Holy crap, it might be my new thing in life. Then I ducked over to Kroger to grab some sushi for a quick lunch and picked up some Pop Chips Nutter Puffs.  Cathy grabbed something from the frozen section for a little bite and her favorite Doritos before we paid and headed back to the hotel.

I showered an climbed onto my bed to work up the race reviews that I now owed the blog.  So here it is!!

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Glass City’s Savage 5K Finisher

So, my official results for Glass City’s Savage 5K are that I finished in 24:19, which was way faster than I intended to run it.  But I honestly held myself back.  Craziness.  I was 91/1212 finishers overall.  I was 16/739 female finishers.  And, as I just mentioned above, I squeaked in a 2/96 in my age division!  WOOT!  If nothing else, I can take that away from this race.

I would do this 5K again in a heartbeat, to be honest!  It’s a fantastic course for a fast race.  So, if you love traveling for 5Ks…or live near Toledo…definitely consider this one!  I’ve had my feet up all afternoon and am preparing to head out to a gluten free deli for dinner in a bit before stretching, foam rolling, and prepping for tomorrow’s marathon.  Think happy thoughts for me, please!

Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon – Lexington, KY (March 30, 2019)

 

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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

Time: 1:51:14

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.

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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.

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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.

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I love a race where I don’t have to question my wardrobe choices!

*SIGH*

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

Disney World Fairy Tale Challenge – Orlando, FL (February 22-24, 2019)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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KEVIN!!!

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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.

 

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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

Time: 48:45

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

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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

Time: 48:49

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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My favorite ride – Tower of Terror!

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.

 

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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

Time: 1:45:24

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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.

 

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.