2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon – Atlanta, GA (March 1, 2020)

IMG_2247

Me in front of the Olympic Rings in Centennial Olympic Park after the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon – Atlanta, GA

Race: 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon

Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 1, 2020

Time: 1:50:02

Back in 2014…I ran the Publix GEORGIA Marathon.  I had been coming back from an injury (no shock there)…but I finished it strong and felt good.  In 2019, it was re-branded as the Atlanta Marathon/Half Marathon/5K (which makes sense as it is held in Atlanta).  Also, it got a new course.  So, it was going to look different from the time I ran the full thing, right?

But…I think they somehow made it hillier.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Please note…it’s been almost 3 months since I ran this…because as we all know…life got pretty crazy shortly after this…so I might not have much to say in regards to the course or the race, other than it was cold AF, hilly AF, and my hip still hurt like a mother.

But we were doing this thing.

Woke up early.  Cathy had to get up with the alarm this time as she had signed up for the 5K.  Hey, if there is bling involved and she can guarantee that she’ll be at the finish line to see me finish…those 5K races that run with the longer runs are her sort of thing.  She was pretty certain we’d be finishing close together given that the 5K started about an hour after the marathon and half went off, so it would be close.  I also told her, though, not to fret anything since I definitely wasn’t 100%.

IMG_2187

When you cut your garbage bag wrong…

So, we got dressed, fueled, and she cut up some garbage bags for us to huddle in to attempt to keep warm on the walk over to the start line.  Except she cut her bag wrong so the holes were not in the right spot.  Meaning, she cut a hole in her stomach area…so she looked more like a Care Bear and had a definite draft.  We couldn’t do anything about it, and as I am definitely more cold natured than her…I got the properly cut trash bag and she got the one that she hadn’t unfolded properly before taking scissors to it.  Please note…she learned a valuable lesson.

We headed out of the hotel room and took the elevator down to the lobby.  And we struck out toward Centennial Park, where the race would start and finish.  Temperatures were in the low 30s.  It was windy (although NOTHING near what it was the day before when the Olympic Marathon Trials ran).  And I was noshing on a banana as we made our way to the start area.  Because of how cold it was, we sort of just gave ourselves enough time to get down there with only a little bit of time to spare, but enough that we weren’t stressed out and making a mad dash through the streets to get to the start corrals.

IMG_2193

Pacer Meb Keflezighi

Had my leg/hip felt 100%…I had given some thought to hanging with the 1:40 pace group, which was being paced by Meb Keflezighi.  That would have been a dream.  But since I had to go to physical therapy and back off my training runs…it wasn’t completely out of the question, but it was a definite pipe dream.  I lined up further back, keeping my trash bag on for as long as I could prior to the start.

Here was the really cool thing about the USA Olympic Marathon Trials happening the day before – MOST of the Olympic Team came down to watch the start of the race – despite it being early and cold.  The only one who didn’t put in an appearance was Galen Rupp (not surprised – I acknowledge his skill as a marathoner, but I just don’t like him).  The rest of them came down.  AND…Alaphine Tuliamuk (the women’s first place finisher), stayed down there for the ENTIRETY of the start line from the marathon/half start to the last 5K runner to cross.  And she was not only speaking to the runners, but taking selfies and the like with them.  Because she’s amazing.

IMG_2213

Alaphine Tuliamuk taking selfies at the start line

After the National Anthem was sung, I did shed the garbage bag, wearing my BibRave t-shirt (with arm warmers because…it was cold, duh) for the first time at an event.  This one wasn’t a BibRave event…but I’m doing my part to represent.  I gave my hip a little bit of a warmup with some dynamic moves in the tight confines of the corral…and then…we were off.

I waived to Cathy as I ran by, my hip doing okay for this part.  Even being sent up a hill almost immediately.  That was good, because that wouldn’t last long.  And while the hip would eventually succumb to all the uphills and the cold…any movement I could manage without it bothering me…I was grateful for.

Also, on an interesting note…the FAQs for this race said that hydration packs were not allowed.  I saw a lot of people running with them, but I opted to obey the rules and ran with my hydration belt instead.  I hadn’t done that in a LONG time during a race, but as I had to use it for a bit of training while waiting on new bladders for my vest to come in the mail, I wasn’t completely out of practice yet.

IMG_2209

You know I had to be in all the colors…this was at the start line!

This race weaves through Atlanta completely now…whereas before, when it was the Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon, it went out to Decatur and would come back into Atlanta.  Not anymore.  Now it’s completely inside the city.  With this new course, I think I was glad it wasn’t this way when I ran it in 2014…because I think the hills are worse.  With the leg/hip issue happening, I legit had no power on any of the uphills.  You better believe I lived for those downhills though.

At one point, as the sun was coming out, I went to tuck my pink knit gloves into the back of my hydration belt…but I lost them.  It made me sad, as those were the best gloves (and pink still represents my mom – a breast cancer survivor).  But, they are throw-away gloves for a reason, I guess.  At another point, I spotted someone I know from Instagram, running just up ahead.  I wished I had the go-power to get up to her and run with her or at least say “HI.”  But…meh…not happening.  She finished up three minutes ahead of me…because she’s awesome.  So…HI KRISTIN STOKES!

I will say, I think the hill around Mile 12 was the one that did me in.  I felt like I was crawling up it.  My hip was done with the entire experience, so I basically crawled it in to the finish.  No finish line sprint.  Nothing.  Just a jog.

IMG_2255

Cathy and I at the Olympic Rings at Centennial Park in Atlanta, GA

But, Cathy had managed to finish her 5K just ahead of Meb…which meant she had about 10 minutes before I came in.  She found a spot to watch the finish line…and when I crossed I was so happy to be done.  Maybe not Kauai Marathon happy…but it might have been close.

I walked through and got my medal and some snacks before meeting up with Cathy.  We went to go take some pictures with the Olympic rings before heading back to the hotel to clean up, shower, pack, and head down to snag lunch at Walburgers before hopping on the MARTA to head to the airport for our flight home.  Walburgers had a bit of delay on opening due to a problem with with the water or electricity or something.  We hung out with some ladies and made friends with them.  When they did open, we were taken upstairs and seated, and then just after we placed our order, our friends Tammy and Dean showed up and joined us.  YAY!  It was nice to sit and catch up with them (Tammy had also done the 5K and Dean did the half ).  Also, Walburgers is great with the gluten-free options.  I had my first ever Impossible Burger on the gluten free bun…with gluten free Sweet Potato Tots.  It was…awesome.

IMG_2259

Lunch at Walburgers!

Eventually we did have to head out to the airport.  We hugged Tammy and Dean (this was when that was still allowed, which now seems weird) and made our way to the MARTA to head home.

So, my official results of the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon are that I finished in I finished in 1:50:02. Not bad on a gimpy leg, right?  I know for a fact that I would have been able to deliver better had my training and my hip been 100%.  But you do what you can when you can , right?  I was 1346/5809 finishers overall. I was the 531/3189 female finishers. And I was 99/486 in my age division.  Considering an unusual night before the race happened…with a late dinner…and lots of time standing the day before, topped with hip/leg issues…I’ll take the hell out of this result.  Couldn’t be prouder of myself for sticking it out and getting to that finish line.

Just goes to show you…if you set your mind to something…you can do hard things.

12376_6581944_enm1003321669ram

Spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials (February 29, 2020) – Atlanta, GA

IMG_1545Sorry that this is over two months overdue in posting. My lack of motivation to sit at my computer at home…after working at home for 8 hours…is more than lacking these days. But I’m very behind on these blogs…so I need to start cracking on them.  Since then, the Olympics in Tokyo are postponed until 2021.  What crazy times we are living in.  I hope everyone is staying safe.

Back in April 2019, when USATF announced that the Olympic Marathon Trials were going to be held in Atlanta, Ga., I knew…RIGHT THEN…that I wanted to go and spectate.  I wanted to be on the course where it all happened.  Six people – 3 men and 3 women – would cross a finish line and achieve the dream of becoming an Olympian.

I had to go.

So, my roommate and I went ahead and booked a hotel room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta.  Then we bought some non-stop flights to and from Atlanta from Louisville.  And then, because, why the hell not?…we each signed up for a race on the day following the Olympic Marathon Trials (Cathy did the Atlanta 5K and I did the Atlanta Half Marathon), since we’d be there.IMG_1547

And somewhere between when all that happened…my left hip started giving me problems again. I took most of February off from running or any real distance, and definitely not workouts.  I went back to my orthopedic doctor for X-rays…where I was told there was nothing structural happening.  I went back to physical therapy, where my physical therapist worked to help get me back on the road, even though it seemed where the pain was changed each day.  And she even could work with my coach as he is also a physical therapist (same company, different location)…and together they eased me back out onto the road, with only a few days with setbacks.

To say I felt 100% when I started packing for my quick trip to Atlanta at the end of March is a huge understatement.  I was questioning whether to drop to the 5K or just not do it at all. Since I was able to run, perhaps not fast or strong, I decided that I could fake my way through a race.  It would be rough and hard and probably would suck a lot more than usual, but I could do it.  So, after our friend Melissa dropped us off at the airport on a Friday morning, we boarded our flight to Atlanta and touched down without any delays or problems.  WINNING!

IMG_1551After a quick MARTA ride to get to our hotel, we checked in, dropped off stuff in our room, and took a moment to admire the fact that we could see Centennial Park from our window. How awesome!!

Then, we gathered our stuff and took a nice stroll past the park and the Olympic Marathon Trials finish line, to hit up the expo to pick up our own race stuff and see what kind of merchandise was around.

The answer…not much.  At least not at this point.  I managed to snag a Marathon Trials t-shirt for myself and my friend Natalie.  And I got a couple of pins to commemorate the event. But there was little else left.  Guess it got decimated on Thursday or earlier in the day on Friday.IMG_1564

Oh well.  The expo was much smaller than I anticipated.  For real.  And we breezed through it faster than the time we budgeted for it.  So, after we were done there, we hiked back to the hotel to drop off stuff, take a breather, and then figure out what we wanted to do next.  We ended up hiking around the Dragon*Con hotels just to kill time.  We snagged some water (we hit up CVS so many times for water on this trip) and a snack.  And then we had to figure out what we wanted to do for dinner.  The easiest option was the food court…but I needed to figure out where and what would be safe for me.  And one of our top options would have meant eating dinner around 3:30 or 4 pm, which was WAY too early for me.

IMG_1569Lots of google and Find Me Gluten Free searching guided me toward a place called BÊP Vietnamese Cuisine.  Cathy opted to go find something with meat and gluten in it for herself (since when we are eating out and on vacation, she can do this!), and ended up at Beni’s Cubano and opted for the Milagro Sandwich with Maduros (Sweet Plantains).  So, while she was hitting them up, I went up to get Curry Tofu Rice Bowl from BÊP…except they were all out of tofu as they had to cater a large party earlier.  BOO!  So, I ended up doing the Vegetarian Phở with the Gluten Free Vegetarian Spring Rolls.  It wasn’t my first choice…but, hey…it wasn’t a bad option to end up with. And, honestly, I just wanted the spring rolls, so that made me happy enough (but 2 spring rolls don’t make a meal).

We ate in the food court before heading back to the room for the rest of the night, enjoying some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network while we wound down and prepared for the following morning, which would involve having to find a good spot in which to view the trials.  And, man, did we have some options to think about.IMG_1582

We woke up the following morning with a mission.  Kara Goucher was leading a 3 mile shakeout run around Centennial Park.  I wasn’t running.  This was a rest day, and regardless, I was really hoping to give my hip an extra day off before the half marathon on Sunday morning.  Cathy safely tucked my 2015 Boston Marathon bib into her bag and we headed down toward the park.  We ended up making an entire lap before converging on the crowd by the Olympic rings.  And there, in the middle of it all, was Kara Goucher.  Kara Goucher was one of the first female runners that I took notice of.  Her book was one of the first ones I ever read (and applied a lot of it to shorter distances as I was not running marathons yet).  It was chaotic in that throng of people, but I somehow managed to get up to her, tell her something about Minnesota girls (I was born in Minnesota, remember?) and got my bib signed! YAY!  It wasn’t the way I envisioned talking to her or meeting her…but it happened, guys!!  We also made one last stop in at the expo…and glad we did because we both ended up getting some hoodies that had Atlanta to Tokyo on it (at that point, obviously, the Olympics were still happening in summer 2020).  The smallest size I could find was a large, but I figured I could just wear it around the apartment.

IMG_1592After that, we headed back to the hotel to grab a big breakfast (as this would be what would hold us through to after the marathon trials AND…a live Ali on the Run Podcast that I got free tickets to attend).  It was going to be a long day…but thankfully, we had snacks.

The breakfast at the hotel was mostly buffet.  And for someone like me with food allergies…that just doesn’t work well.  BUT, our waiter was kind enough to put in an order for me with the kitchen so everything would be safe for me to eat.  I got an egg white vegetable omelette with a bowl of fruit.  Cathy was able to go pick and choose what she wanted and was excited that there was a mini chicken and waffles option out there (it might have been on the kids table, but she loved it).  We ate.  We drank a lot of coffee.  We went back up to the room to prepare ourselves for all the intense wind, cold weather, and the fun of spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials.IMG_1602

I. COULD. NOT. WAIT.

Originally, we had planned on going right to a spot where we could see the athlete 6 times on the looped course.  But after we got down there, we decided that we really, really wanted to see the start of both the men’s and the women’s race.  Then we could go up to about Mile 8 and see the men twice and the women once, and then hopefully get back to the finish line area to see who would make the team from a decent enough s
It felt like the right plan for us.  So…we scouted out a spot for the start of the race.  It was VERY windy!  In case you hadn’t heard.  I felt bad for the athletes because when you’re in a metro downtown like that, there is no wind breaks.  There are only wind tunnels.  And that wind will hit you in all directions!  We were right near where the athletes would be walking out.  Shalane Flanagan passed us.  She, obviously, wasn’t competing, but there was no mistaking her in that Bowerman Track Club gear.

IMG_1654And…I got to hug and wish good luck to Ashley Paulson, who I know from Instagram.  She ended up coming in 44th in the women’s race.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!  Anyway, that was super fun.  Cathy gave the woman standing next to me her ear warmer because she had tried three times to find somewhere she could buy a hat and couldn’t find one anywhere.  One good deed…

The winds were whipping around 20+mph.  And it was COLD!!  Man, was it cold.  But the sun was out…and the athletes were lining up at the start line.  The men would go off first.  Then the women.  And who was sending each group off?  Meb Keflezighi!IMG_1636

He counted down the men’s race…and they were off.  As the group ran past, we cheered really loud and started pointing out the people we recognized.  It was exciting.  What a rush.  And 20 minutes later…with one almost false start…Meb sent the women off.  Now that…THAT was insane.   It was just flood of women, running down the road.  I spotted a few people I recognized.  I screamed really loud.  And we even saw the ones at the back who were starting, but dropping out due to injury, pregnancy, or whatever.  It was inspiring, regardless.

From there, we hopped over to a spot on the rail near the 8 mile mark.  This was at one of the turns on the course, so we would definitely get the chance to see everyone as they went past.  We would be here for a while, able to see the men twice and the women once, if we wanted to try to get to the finish line area.

IMG_1682We took this opportunity to snag a snack.  I brought oranges.  LOL!  Hey, I’m like Dustin in Stranger Things…so I always bring snacks with me everywhere.  I had no idea how long it would be before we’d get to eat.  We polished off our oranges (I brought Sumo’s…only the best for this occasion) and were settled in, wincing against the wind, and making friends with the people around us…as you do.

The guy who was on my left was spectating his daughter, who qualified at CIM with a squeaker time, just hitting it with maybe a second to spare.  The pride and excitement in his voice was just…awesome.  And then…we saw the pace car come down the hill and toward the turn.  Behind it…the wave of men.  And, there were two people out front that I didn’t recognize.  But then in the chase pack (just steps behind them) were all the big names and the like.  And I tried to shout out to as many as I could.IMG_1736

There were smaller waves behind them…and then it quieted down as we all awaited the arrival of the women.  And that was a wave that was just as amazing as the start.  And the crowd.  Wow…it was loud.  And you could just feel this electricity as the women continued to make the turn and head back up the hill into Mile 8.  It was insane and I loved being a part of the noise and seeing these woman lay it all out there on the challenging course.  Seriously…inspiring.  Not that I’ll ever get the chance to run the Olympic Trials…but man…I felt like I was part of something big…just by being there.

IMG_1796We waited around for the men to make their second loop and, by the time they came back around, there were more familiar faces at the front of the pack.  Mainly…Galen Rupp.  No shocker there.  And, apparently, that’s where he would stay.  But…it would be those remaining two spots that would be the surprises for us spectators.

Not wanting to miss any of the final finishes…because, honestly, I wanted to be at that finish line when the runners who would be representing the country crossed, we left to head back to the finish line area.  The general public could only get so close, but luckily we found a spot of the rail, next to a man who was cheering for his daughter (this was a theme, LOL), named Val Curtis.  So, he was tracking her and I was trying to catch bits of conversation about where some of the favorites out on the course were.IMG_2025

And you could tell when the finish was getting close because people who were able to get into the grassy parts of the park near the finish started climbing into the trees.  No joke.  Cathy even said, “Looks like the spectators are in full bloom.”  It made me laugh.  A lot.  Security, however, did make them all eventually get down, but that was just a testament to how big of a deal this was to the people in Atlanta to spectate.

IMG_2038I will never forget that feeling when I saw the lead vehicle come down over the hill and veer off as Galen Rupp came surging past.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Galen Rupp fan.  I don’t like him.  But he was going to go represent the United States at the Olympics, turning in an amazing time on what was a VERY challenging course.  The second and third place for the men came in over a minute behind Galen.  It felt like a HUGE gap of time, honestly.  But that battle for second and third was SPECTACULAR!!  No lie.  It came down to just one second that put Jacob Riley in second and Abdi Abdirahman in third.  Our alternate for the men…Leonard Korir…just seconds behind Abdi.  What a finish!!IMG_2105

We saw more men come streaming in.  A few were bloodied, which left us really confused until I started listening to podcasts after the fact and finding out that people fell down on the course, were almost trampled, and the like.  How scary is that.  To rally and get back up and finish…that’s gutsy.  I respect the hell out of it.  I saw Jared Ward finish, but he was way out of contention for a spot.  He was definitely a favorite going in.

IMG_2109Eventually, the volunteers began to route the men down a different path to finish, which could only mean one thing…the women were coming!  I had no idea who was leading at this point.  I was up on my tiptoes, leaning on the rail, just waiting to see the first woman blaze by.  It felt like forever, but then…graceful, swift, and steady…the first woman flew past.  It was Aliphine Tuliamuk…which wasn’t out of the conversation to make the team, but she was leading the way.  I was here for it!  Just behind her was Molly Seidel, who qualified using a half marathon time and this was her first marathon.  This also meant that she started behind the A standard qualifiers.  And there she was…carrying that flag all the way to the finish line.  And just over a minute behind her…our third woman came in…Sally Kipyego, who I had just heard an interview with on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, “I’ll Have Another.”  Both Aliphine and Sally had recently become citizens of the United States and here they were now…heading to the Olympics to represent the country.  Amazing.IMG_2118

Des Linden came in fourth, now officially becoming the alternate and missing out on the Olympic Team by 30 seconds.  Stephanie Bruce wasn’t too far behind, coming in 6th.

We stayed at the finish line, because now we felt like we needed to see Val Curtis come in.  We were basically adopted members of the Curtis cheer team.  In the process, I saw Jordan Hasay come by, finishing 26th, and considering she came in with the fastest time…that was a shock. Ashley Paulson finish 44th overall for the women!  That was super exciting.  She’s just so genuine and amazing.

IMG_2119I noted some names that weren’t coming in…Sarah Hall, Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson.

It was weird.

We were getting updates from Val’s father as to where she was on the course, so we knew exactly when to start cheering.  I held a sign for her while he waved a flag and shouted as she blazed past to her finish line.  Cathy snapped photos.  It was pretty exciting to be part of that.  I felt like I knew Val…even though I had just heard of her that day.

After a long day of spectating, we were heading to the Generation UCAN live podcast with Ali Feller and Carrie Tollefson and Meb Keflezighi.  We figured we would grab dinner afterwards…which in hindsight wasn’t our best plan…but we had a podcast to get to.  I am so glad we did.  A surprise to me was when Dathan Ritzenhein went up and talked for a brief moment.  If you know me, you know how he is one of my favorite male runners.  Hip issues caused him to drop out of the trials, but he listened to his body and did what he needed to do.IMG_2158

After he spoke, he left and I grabbed my 2015 Boston Marathon bib and went to see if I could catch him for an autograph.  He very graciously signed it for me…and I was able to tell him a little bit about my devastating race that morning…due to hip issues.  He listened and said that he hopes my next time running Boston (2021 with any luck), would be a much better experience.

IMG_2180The live podcast was a lot of fun, and very emotional.  We laughed.  We cried.  We had a good time.  I wanted to meet Ali after the show, but there was a rush of people, and we had to go find some food, as both Cathy and I were racing the following morning.  The problem is…so many things in big cities close early…and we really didn’t have many options.  We ended up ordering in room service at the hotel, and they took very good care of me with my food allergies.  So, we were definitely eating dinner at 8 pm, watching Guy’s Grocery Games, and trying not to fret too much over the hour and the fact that we had to be up early to get ready to get to our own start lines.  I ended up with a delicious quinoa dish.

As for me…my leg wasn’t feeling 100% despite weeks of physical therapy…but I was going to see what I could do on these Atlanta hills.  But that’s another blog.

IMG_1597

SURPRISE!!

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

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

Heather…should be celebrated!

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

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

THE PLAN

29673C73-195B-473B-81A0-CFE49772E587

Running before 1:30 am is CRAZINESS!

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

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

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

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

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

THE SURPRISE

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

And…that’s what we did.

IMG_9919

Lunch from Twin City Grill at the Mall of America

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

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

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

YAY!

IMG_9925

Me and Grandpa!

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

IMG_9930

Aunt Jan, Me, and Grandpa

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

IMG_9935

Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl from Tavern 4 & 5

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

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

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

BREAKING BIRTHDAY

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

IMG_9950

Birthday Breakfast Omlette (with ALL the avocado)

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

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

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

IMG_9960

Me rethinking life decisions in rental skates!

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

And that’s when things went terribly wrong.

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

IMG_9992

Heather and Me on the ice

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

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

IMG_9993

I skate with ALL the padding on!

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

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

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

THE OTHER SURPRISE

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

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

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

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

TIME TO GO

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_9951

Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 28, 2019)

81CBA64B-DC0E-4F37-B797-0327CFA07206

Me pushing it to the finish line at the Fast Freddie’s Five Mile Foot Feast

Race: Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, IN

Date: November 28, 2019

Time: 36:57

Okay…the way I had been racing prior to my Monumental Marathon, I was hoping for some Thanksgiving magic when I set out to run Fast Freddie’s this year.  I wasn’t expecting anything great. I wasn’t quite 3 weeks off my BQ finish, and the legs had only a little punch in them at this point.  So…let’s just say I felt like I had been racing well, so a PR wasn’t out of the question, but it was going to be up to the legs.

But I digress.

IMG_8609

Fast Freddie’s Packet Pick-Up

You guys already know the history of this tradition.  I have run it every year since I started running (except in 2015 when I was injured from the hip labrum tear, but we don’t talk about that year).  When I moved into my apartments, I had no idea a Thanksgiving race happened just across the street.  My parents found out that year though (prior to me even becoming a runner), when they were visiting for Thanksgiving and were caught on a street that was semi-closed to traffic for this race in question.  They showed up a little late going, “Are you aware a race is happening outside on the street.”  Little did they know that a few years later, they’d be spectating while I ran it.

But yes.  I do this one…EVERY YEAR!

IMG_8611

Got my number!

And why shouldn’t I?  It’s the least stressful, most convenient race on my race calendar every year.  The later start time sort of messes with my hosting responsibilities, but with my mom and dad around, we make it work.  My mom is a HUGE help in my tiny kitchen on this holiday! I give major props to her every year.  And since I wasn’t sure they would make the trip this year with her treatments and all, it was even more special this year when they said they were coming.

They arrived right around dinner time on Wednesday…bearing gifts (not really, it was a lot of my stuff that I had left with them in their attic, but they are downsizing their house (and it makes me sad, because the house they currently have is STUNNING) and the new house doesn’t have an attic (what kind of house doesn’t have an attic!?) so they needed to offload it…but news flash…I live in apartment with NO storage space that is free).  I had already stopped by the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds on the way home from work (we got out early at 3:30 pm) to pick up my race bib and shirt.  This year, the shirt was this gorgeous pumpkin color.  I’m in love with it.  I also delivered some gluten free stuffing I made for my friend Melissa to her husband, who we ran into at the packet pickup.  Go figure.

IMG_8831

Core Life’s Sriracha Ginger Tofu + Ancient Grains Bowl (YUM!)

The most difficult decision that night was where we were going to grab dinner.  We finally decided on Core Life.  Perfect.  A great, healthy dinner before the holiday feast.  I had my usual: the Siracha Ginger Tofu + Ancient Grains Bowl.  So yummy!  We ate, got caught up, and drove home, where my mom and I did some major meal prep…making the dessert (pink salad), and then chopped the veggies for the Shrimp Creole (What? You expect us to have turkey on Thanksgiving? Not in my family!) and the stuffing that would cook up in the crockpot while we were at the race.  We also hardboiled the eggs for the Deviled Eggs (which she whipped up while we were waiting on awards at the race).  We were pretty set for a less-stressful Thanksgiving.  We put on pajamas and settled in to an episode of Holiday Nailed It on Netflix.  My parents don’t have Netflix and had never seen Nailed It.  I think they’re hooked now.

IMG_8637

Don’t forget to wear your race bib!

We all turned in that night.  I set an early alarm that would give me time to do my stretches and work on some Thanksgiving things prior to the race itself.  And when everyone was up and had their coffee (not me…I had that post-race)…I went to go change, opting for some shorts because it was right on the cusp of it being too cold for shorts.  But I went with it.  I also had on a short-sleeve shirt (pink, of course) with arm warmers.  It was going to have to be enough to keep me warm that morning.  And it was cold and windy this Thanksgiving.  Oh, to have the year where it was 60 degrees back.

We were all bundled up and I realized we almost did what we did last year…forget to put my bib on.  HA!  Just before walking out the door, I realized it.  My roommate played it off like she was about to pin me up…but we all know better.  We almost forgot.  Again.  But, crisis averted.  Got pinned up, zipped back up, and we headed out into the cold Thanksgiving morning air.

IMG_8654 (1)

The Southern Indiana MRTT/SRTT group!

I knew that the local MRTT/SRTT chapter was doing their pictures at 8:45…and as we got over to the 4-H Fairgrounds, I spotted Leah…and soon more people followed.  We did get our photo taken, but then we all went our separate ways to get lined up at the start.  This year they did something a little different (which I personally appreciated)…if you were bib 1-99…you got to start in a green box at the start line.  I was Bib 90…and I took advantage of this.  I knew this wasn’t going to be an astounding race for me, but I appreciated not having to bob and weave through the kids (admittedly, a lot of them are pretty fast…but some are not) this year.

We took over the road and somehow I ended up right by the front.  Oh well…I planned to run this one has hard as I could that day.  And we were off.  The first part of this first mile felt…okay.  I got passed by a lot of people, but I was just going to see what I had.  We went up the hill leading to the overpass and I felt spritely enough to push a bit through that hill.  It isn’t one of the bad ones.  And the downhill on the other side was a nice way to balance it out.  The course flattened out as we hit the turn onto Mt. Tabor Road.  I ran past Mile 1 and soon after my watch beeped.  This is the first time EVER that my watch has been off on this course.  I didn’t look at it…I just kept going.  They had repaved the road earlier in the year, so maybe the mark was off when they went through to put up the mile markers.  I pressed on, but as I headed up a bit of a hill to turn onto Grant Line Road, I started to feel the inkling of a side stich.

IMG_8660

LOL! My face as I go to stand in the green box!

I haven’t had a side stitch on this course since the first year I ran it, I think.  And I train a lot using this course, so…what the hell?  I tried to just slowly breathe through it, and I passed Mile 2…my watch beeping soon after that.  Just as I was coming up on the rail road tracks, someone sprinted past me really fast.  All I could think in my head was, “And the coffee apparently just kicked in…”

I made the turn into Sam Peden Community Park, which I felt was wrong this year…and we turned too early from where we usually do on the course.  But, I mean, you go where you’re directed. And I could be wrong.  Needless to say, the hardest parts were here…and I started up that damn hill.  I hate that hill because it literally goes on for about a half a mile.  UGH!  I told myself I had run this hill so many times this year…and I pushed myself to keep my legs churning up it.  It felt like an eternity, but I got to where it leveled out for a moment.  And my side stitch went away too, so BONUS! As I ran past the Mile 3 marker I waited for my watch to hit it too.  It came a moment later (again).  BUT…this is also where my Wednesday spin teacher spotted me in the park and gave me a shoutout.  I sort of needed it after that hill, and knowing one of the hardest parts of the race, the hilly Schell Lane, was just ahead.

I exited the park and headed down a hill.  I have a love/hate relationship with this stretch of road.  I hate the hills.  I love that the people who live along this stretch come out and cheer, play music, whatever.  I made it up the first hill and started back down…crossed that 3 1/2 mile marker…and then headed up the short, but steep hill at the very end of that road.  Made the turn onto Daisy Lane…and enjoyed my favorite part of this race…the downhill.

IMG_8693

My dad, me, and my mom post race!

Mile 4 was in sight, and I could tell I was behind where I had been years previously, when I saw the 29 minute mark.  I usually hit this around 28 minutes in this race.  That being said, Mile 4 was my fastest mile of the race.  Even with all those hills.  Go figure.  When that part of the course levels off from that downhill though, the legs really have to fight to get that momentum again.  I knew this wasn’t going to be a spectacular last mile, but I went all in, as much as I could.

I made the turn onto Green Valley Road and immediately got hit with the headwind.  UGH.  I could feel my body just tense up because me and cold winds are not BFFs.  Not at all.  I put my head down and just fought it the best I could.  I was tired.  My legs felt tired.  But I really wanted to put in a good time.  I really wanted to have a great finish for my mom.  I have run EVERY race this year for her (always wearing pink to honor her battle against breast cancer), and when my legs were slowing down, I was literally getting mad at myself.

I  could see the fairgrounds and focused on that.  My dad was down near the road, and I heard him cheer me in.  I made the final turn, where my mom and Cathy were cheering and just ran it as hard as I could at that point…across the finish.  I slowed down and a few seconds later, my watch clicked to Mile 5.  I stopped it then.

IMG_8709

Paul, Melissa, and Baby C heading toward that finish line!

I snagged a couple of water bottles and made my way to the other side of Newlin Hall, meeting up with my mom, dad, and Cathy.  Cathy was kind enough to take a photo of me with them, before we headed over to the road to cheer in some of my friends.  My dad wasn’t feeling well, so my mom ended up taking him back to the apartment, where she got to work on the Deviled Eggs and a few other things, while I cheered people in.  Cathy kept going in to check official results, but none of them posted at that point.  Once I saw my friends Paul and Melissa come in (with Melissa pushing the stroller), I went to head inside and find them for the awards ceremony. Before I got in there, though, I was spotted by the pacer from the Monumental Marathon.  I once again took a moment to thank him for helping me hit my goal, and he said 15 people in the 3:35 group got that BQ time that day.  It was awesome.  I also got to introduce him to Cathy.  We all headed inside together.  Paul found me and Cathy and we went over to see Melissa and the baby as the awards were starting up.  My age group came up…and my name wasn’t announced.  Knowing my parents were back at the apartment, we ducked out before the raffle tickets were drawn and headed home.  Cathy checked the results as we left…and I was 4th.  Again.  Getting outkicked by A LOT.  Again.

I went inside and took a quick shower before hopping back into the kitchen to work on more of the feast for Thanksgiving.  Our friend and neighbor, Laura, stopped over with her boyfriend for a moment to say HI and give hugs.  She didn’t get to spend the day with us this year, but I was so glad she stopped by.  Soon after…we set up the table and feasted, thankful for a lot this year.  But, as always, I was thankful to have my parents with me this year.

IMG_8715

Had to get a picture with this lil’ mama!

SO…here it is.  My official results of the Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast this year is that I finished in 36:57…three seconds slower than my 2013 and 2018 finish times.  No new PR.  No age group award (again!).  But, let’s remember that I had run a BQ qualifying time at a marathon on November 9th…so these legs were peppier than I expected.  Will I ever beat my 2017 time?  I bet I can.  Just not this year.  I was 118/692 finishers this year.  There were 100 fewer finishers this year.  That is surprising.  I was the 19th 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 once again. Like…2 minutes faster than me ass kicking.  I’m definitely hoping to kick it next year and maybe get a new PR on this course. I incorporate it so often into my runs, that I figure my body would just be used to those hills.  Next year, no side stiches or wind, please!

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

77132591_10100630205287451_5435626608847224832_n

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

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 9, 2019

Time: 3:35:13

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

BOSTON QUALIFIED!

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

78671909_10100630201510021_6555545056470630400_n

Day Before The Race Breakfast!

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

78388409_10100630201639761_2353181447260471296_n

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

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

75586156_10100630201689661_5912766633272672256_n

Expo Time!

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

79014440_10100630201959121_304269132654706688_n

Cathy and Me at the Expo with our bib numbers!

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

 

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

79168981_10100630201884271_5965423683940909056_n

Found my name!

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

76957353_10100630202073891_3764985365513895936_n

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

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

78301642_10100630202218601_7245037365046018048_n

Packing up the hydration pack on race morning!

 

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

78604269_10100630202243551_6943261061474680832_n

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

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

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

77334596_10100630202433171_5768320328988098560_n

MRTT/SRTT

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

78169172_10100630203201631_2621949535592644608_n

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

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

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

77088848_10100630204134761_5874447025252073472_n

3:35 Pace Group taking off!

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

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

77240214_10100630204394241_7487999477387624448_n

Cathy got a 5K PR at the Monumental 5K

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

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

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

73352321_10100630205097831_3024414565665341440_n

Finish line in sight! I was ugly crying already!

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

79465942_10100630205551921_3248775720108818432_n

Official Results

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

Keep Fighting.

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

Keep Fighting.

78112148_10100630205651721_3606184954108575744_n

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

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

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

78459159_10100630205691641_8506863744037421056_n

I have THE BEST friends!

FLY!

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

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

77391963_10100630205761501_8110641358735147008_n

A shower and some coffee!

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

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

78710229_10100630205861301_791947421981605888_n

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

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

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

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

72802837_10100630206020981_4521775185937825792_n

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

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

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

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

77085483_10100630206105811_8729124990185635840_n

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #18

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornIt’s taper…but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.  I’m still around 50 miles this week.  Not unusual, to be honest.  This was about what happened when I ran Glass City Marathon back in April.  I told you…my coach is very untraditional when it comes to the actual taper leading into a marathon.  That being said, mileage did go DOWN from last week…so it is technically a taper, right?

RIGHT?!

This week was crazy.  Lots of rearranging due to events and/or weather.  Tuesday night I was out late at the KFC Yum! Center seeing Celine Dion perform.  So I flipped speed work to Thursday.  Saturday’s weather was calling for TONS of rains (up to 3 inches) and some strong wind gusts…so I flipped my long run to Sunday.  So, structure isn’t a thing this week.  This week, it was all about fitting it all in.  October has been a crazy month and we are now two weeks out from the big day.  I need things to slow down a little.

Let’s take a look at the week, shall we?

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

After last week’s hellish week of speed, I was thankful that Monday showed up as a choose your own adventure run.  That is…I choose the distance and the pace…depending on how I feel and what I want to do.  I always appreciate these runs.  No pressure to put in any sort of long run.  I could stop at 1 mile…I never go over 5.  I was thankful for the recovery day and just let me legs do what the wanted and needed that day.  Kept my watch covered and just paid attention to if/when I was struggling with hills or feeling like I needed to stop.  It was just what I needed and I was happy that this turned, allowing me to not have to think about my run.  Just plug in and go.  I ended up with 5 that morning, as I felt good and the temperatures seemed just perfect. Low to mid 50s…that’s a happy place for me.  I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches this morning as well.  AND…I had a personal training session with Corey, focusing on legs.  It was a busy and full day, but thankfully the run felt good.

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

Tuesday morning brought one of the speed elements I was given this week, but thankfully, it’s the least intimidating.  Strides.  My run was to be kept at my base pace, not really pushing it but keeping it where my rhythm naturally falls.  It was almost 60 degrees this morning, so I was back in a tank top and loving it.  I ran 7.5 miles without issue, keeping it around my usual base pace (sometimes faster, it just depends on hills).  And I felt amazing.  I added on the strides at the end, and my legs felt fast and strong as I pushed through 6 of them.  That was 8 miles total for the morning.  And after my shower, I went ahead and did my next round of hip strengtheners with my stretches.  Got through the work day, ate dinner, and headed out to the Celine Dion concert in Louisville.  The show was great…and I got home late.  That being said, it wasn’t yet midnight (I got in bed at 11 pm), so I didn’t have to get out and run my miles before bed for Wednesday.  And I set a later alarm, knowing that I didn’t have my big (and high mileage) speed work that following day anymore.  Thank God for a flexible coach and schedule.  I slept really well, surprisingly…just not enough despite a later (by about an hour) alarm.

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

From tank top to sleeves.  Wednesday morning, I headed out to run just after 4:30 am.  Thankful for the change to an easy, recovery run, I was hoping to at least get 3 miles in.  I would let my legs and body tell me what I had in me.  It was 41 degrees, but felt like 39.  That was a big change from the 60 degrees the previous morning.  I started off nice and easy and, while I felt tired this morning, my legs apparently felt good.  I was a little surprised by the overall pace when I uncovered my watch at the end of my run.  I never pushed pace, or even worked hard on the hills.  Recovery is very important and even I take recovery runs seriously.  Since it all felt so fluid and good that morning, I went ahead and did 5 miles.  After a shower, I did my stretches twice…and then later that evening, after work and dinner, I went and got a sports massage…which I felt I really needed!  I went right to bed when I got home because the second speed element was in my track workout (that I don’t do on a track) the following morning.

Thursday: TRACK WORKOUT: 1 MILE WU; 10X800M (GOAL: 3:30 OR ~7 MIN PACE) W/ EQUAL RECOVERY (AT A JOG, NOT WALKING), 1 MILE CD

It had been a full two days since I had an actual foam rolling session.  Granted, I did get a sports massage the night before, but when I stepped out (back in short sleeves because the temperature was in the mid-40s), I really knew I needed to get some good foam rolling in after this.  I won’t lie, 800s are my LEAST favorite speed workout.  Seriously.  I feel like they take forever to actually run (even though, for me, it’s close to 3:30 minutes…but that’s an eternity, honestly).  I don’t have a track nearby or open to the public…so I use a stretch of road and just run up and down it.  My warmup was nice and easy, followed by some dynamic stretches (high knees and butt kicks) before I launched into all TENTEN!! of my 800s that morning.  I could feel how each one was becoming harder and harder to hit, but I actually managed to keep the prescribed pace and never was slower than Daniel wanted me to aim for.  So, that was good.  In fact, before I could even fill in the comments on the training app we use, he was already commenting on how I nailed this one.  It was a good feeling.  So was finishing this up.  Because I really was not loving the speed work.  The cool down mile gave me 12 total for the day, 10 of which were the run/jog intervals.  I really made sure I kept it at a light jog, so I could feel recovered enough to push on every interval that followed.  I succeeded.  I stretched that morning and later that night went on a 5 mile run (doing the Thanksgiving route) with my friend Melissa.  It had been forever since we had run together and, she really wanted to do this route WITH me.  I don’t get invited to run with people often, and I don’t care if you run slower than me or not, I love running with people.  We kept this at a very, very easy pace because we both needed it that way.  After I downed a bagel for dinner, I stretched again and FINALLY got in some foam rolling.  I went to bed, setting a late alarm because my rest day was coming.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I was definitely sleeping better this week than I had been in the previous weeks.  So, that’s an improvement.  That being said, I woke up a full hour before my alarm.  I tried to lounge in bed and doze, but I was awake.  So…I got up, showered, did my stretches, got ready for work, ate breakfast, had coffee, survived the workday, came home for dinner.  My coach and my training partner opted to move my long run to Sunday due to the weather on Saturday…so I wasn’t feeling pressed for time.  I started a new season of Top Chef (I’m on the season in Boston, ironically), went to bed, setting a later alarm once again because I knew I was either going to do a short run in a gentle rain, or head to the gym to use the treadmill if it was a harder rain. At this point in the game, I’m 2 weeks out from my goal race…why risk slipping on wet leaves or pavement, twisting an ankle in a pothole that I thought was a puddle, or putting my immune system to the test in inclement weather?  Not worth it. I’d make the call in the morning.

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

Well, it was pouring when I woke up.  It was.  But I still had some time to make the decision.  I got over 9 hours of sleep, so I was feeling rested and ready, regardless.  I went ahead and did my stretches and hydrated.  I stepped outside, and it was still a steady rain, so I decided that, the best thing for ME to do, was to do this easy, recovery run inside.  On the treadmill.  You guys know I’m not a fan of the treadmill, but this was definitely the right choice.  I know a lot of people who were training and/or racing out in the weather, and that’s fine.  I don’t risk anything this close to race day.  And while it is possible it could rain on November 9…I have run and raced in the rain before.  And the training ground is NOT my proving ground and never will be.  I went to the gym and did a very easy pace (with a 1% incline) for 5 miles.  I forgot to set the incline at first, and my shins were killing me.  I was really confused and then I figured that out.  Sometimes a flat treadmill works best, sometimes that additional incline works magic.  I needed it today.  Honestly, I really kept an easy pace…probably easier than I would have done if I had been outside.  And that was the entire purpose of this run.  I went home afterwards, ate a big breakfast that my roommate prepared for me.  Then went grocery shopping.  Came home, prepared my breakfast to eat before my long run on Sunday…watched some soccer and rugby…and then went out to Dragon King’s Daughter for my “magic sushi” as my long run was tomorrow.  The playoffs for the Eastern Conference Finals were happening at Slugger Field tonight, but with the rain, despite having paid for the tickets, we bowed out.  Sitting in the rain and strong winds just didn’t sound appealing at all.  I went to bed early…hoping our soccer team pulled off a win…and preparing for my long run, most of which, thankfully, I’d have some company for.

Sunday: 14-18 MILE LONG RUN – GOAL 16 MILES – WITH 3 MILE RACE PACE FINISH: EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE DAY FUELING STRATEGY. AT THE END, CLIMB DOWN TO RACE PACE FOR 3-4 MILES.

With the whole intention of tapering down, I could have easily have gone on the higher end and pushed 18 miles.  But I honestly felt the goal of 16 was enough for this week.  And, thankfully, my training partner was free both days this weekend, so when we flipped to the better weather of Sunday from Saturday’s lousy weather…he was still able to join me and help me with my last push at the end.  I ended up getting up at 5 am.  This gave me time to stretch, do my pushups, eat breakfast, foam roll, get dressed, put on sunscreen, fuel, pack up my hydration vest, put on reflective gear, and head out the door at 7:20 am…without feeling rushed.  And I still had over 8 hours of sleep the night before.  I ran from my apartment down to the YMCA, where Ron was going to meet me.  I had 4 miles down there, and Ron showed up (a little late thanks to crazy road closures and traffic) and we headed out.  We kept the pace pretty easy on the 6 miles down the Greenway…which felt fast because we had this great tailwind.  BUT…this also meant when we turned around to head back (and do the fast finish) we’d have a headwind.  We eased into it…and both decided to just do the 3 miles fast at the end.  We hit it and Ron was amazing at keeping me on pace and making sure I didn’t push too much when I didn’t need to.  It felt easy having someone worry about the pace for me…and he’s really good at it.  We needed to beat a train, so the last .1 of our run was up a hill, but we were at or just slightly faster than my marathon pace.  Spirits lifted.  Feeling so good.  He was kind enough to give me a lift home afterwards.

So…we’re 13 days away from the official start of the Monumental Marathon…and with every run I’m growing in confidence and feeling more and more ready.  That’s the whole point of taper.

And, to be honest, I’m hoping that the miles go down a lot more this week…but we shall see what my coach has in store. I trust him.  It trust the process.  And for the first time in a long time…I trust my training.

2 more weeks…let’s go.

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (October 19, 2019)

 

Snapseed

Me finishing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Race: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 19, 2019

Time: 1:42:48

Oh, Urban Bourbon…it’s been a hot second.  I haven’t run this race since 2016.  Not because I haven’t wanted to.  Probably mostly due to training for other things, or injury…or whatnot.  Honestly, when races happen in my own backyard, I try to make a point to show up to them when possible.

So, trust me, I was happy when my coach gave me the green light to include this race into my training cycle as we began to head into taper.  Kinda.  Because I was under the impression that I would get to basically cruise through these additional races on the calendar, using them as easy training runs, right?

Nope.  Marathon pace.  That’s what I was told.  For both this one and Fort Ben.  Well, we all know I ran a little too fast at Fort Ben (despite the hills).  But, that wasn’t all bad.  Except my fast finish run on Sunday the following day pretty much felt like trash.  So…we repeated the hell week of speed work pretty much every day.  I did this just before Fort Ben too…but he really wanted me closer to my actual marathon pace this time.  So, I worked out a plan in my head to line up with the 1:45 pacer and stick with them.  I’d be slightly faster, but it would keep me steady and on pace.

Friday just after I ate lunch…I stopped by the coffee shop next to my office to say “HI” to my friend, Melissa.  Then, my roommate and I headed down to Slugger Field for packet pickup.  Melissa, her hubby, and their baby were coming down shortly behind us.  Picking up the packet was a breeze.  I was bib 306…first window.  AND…to make things better, my personal trainer and friend…and the Volunteer Coordinator for the Louisville Sports Commission, Corey, was right there to give me a hug.  We chatted for a few minutes, but Cathy and I needed to skedaddle back to the office (BOOO!).  As we were leaving, Melissa, Paul and the baby were arriving.  We were going to give them our parking space, but one opened up just slightly closer.  That being said, Melissa still managed to give my SRTT magnet a flip before we parted ways.

0D57305A-220F-4AA9-9915-DC9CD5C646DD

My “magic sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter

Finished up the day at work before heading over to Dragon King’s Daughter.  Because that’s where the “magic sushi” combo is.  I had my usual…the Gluten Free Spicy Tofu and the Gluten Free Green Acres Rolls.  Devoured them.  Went home to stretch and get to bed.  It was going to be an early morning.

Race morning came…and I think I actually slept well going into it.  YAY!  I didn’t lay anything out the night before.  Didn’t think to do it.  Oh well.  I wasn’t too worried about it.  I took my vitamins and ate my overnight oats that I had prepared the night prior…sticking with my fueling plan I am using for my marathon in November.  I stretched.  I hydrated.  I changed.  And, yes, I even put on sunscreen.  All the things.  I remembered my anklet and my race bib (long story, but both of those involved turning around and heading home at a different local race soon after I got back into running after the hip labrum tear).  On track.  The original thought was to come home after the race so I could shower and we could make a brunch happen…but I packed a backpack with a change of clothes because Cathy was kind of leaning toward staying over on that side of the river post-race…getting brunch, picking up a Cinnamon Roll & Donut from Annie May’s (for breakfast on Sunday), and getting some of our grocery shopping (it ended up barely being any of it) done while there.  I was game to come home and save a bit of money…so we decided we’d pack for options.

It was a bit on the chilly side that morning…but I was planning on wearing what I wanted to wear for my marathon. It’s what I’ve been wearing at my races…so I know it works.  I was just concerned about freezing near the start.  Luckily, Cathy wasn’t doing a 5K at this one and I could shed clothing just before the start (so I could stay semi-warm leading into it) and leave them with her.  I like when that happens.  I know I have throwaway items for a reason…I just hate leaving them behind when I could probably get use of them again down the line.  So…that was a plus.  She pinned my bib on…I went to mix up my Maurten 160 Drink Mix…and we were out the door.

IMG_7051

Bib is on and ready to head out to run!

The drive into Louisville wasn’t bad at all.  We didn’t even hit traffic.  Cathy found a parking garage that was a bit of a walk to and from the start and finish area…but it would allow for easy exit as no roads would be blocked.  We found a spot and sort of hung out in the warm car for a little while.  Eventually, we did decide to start heading toward the start of the race, which was on W Jefferson Street.  It was here that I met up with my training partner, Ron.  He wasn’t sure what his plan was for this race, but he was going to line up with the 1:40 pacer.  It was at this moment, I realized there was no 1:45 pacer.  There was a 1:40 and a 1:50.  So…I decided I would just have to line up in between them and try not to pass or be passed.

I mean…that seems like a logical and good plan, right?

As the race start drew nearer, and the sky turned BEAUTIFUL shades of cotton candy pink and purple (Louisville was showing off!), Ron went to go shed his layers and I went to go see if I could make the MRTT/SRTT Louisville photo.  It was at Panara Bread.  I noticed how full the corrals were getting as I headed that way, and after a short walk and not seeing where I needed to be…I opted to instead turn back and try to find my spot for a good start to the race.  I never seem to make photo ops before races unless they are right near the start line.

This turned out to be a good decision.  The only way into the start area was through the back of the corral.  I had to shed my warm outer layer and go try to find a spot.  It was REALLY crowded and I entered, finding my friend Tracy and tapping her on the shoulder, and she said, “Hey…shouldn’t you be further up.”  HA!  She wasn’t wrong…and it was really hard to move through the tight crowd of people.  There was a lot of me tapping people on the back, asking them if I could slide through, saying a lot of “Sorry” and “Thank you.”  BUT…I got there.  Whew.

Ron gave me a high five and told me that if I passed him, he was going to yell at me to slow down.  Which was the best idea ever.  Fun fact…I never passed him so he can save yelling at me for another day.

IMG_7069

Me heading out of the start at the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

The National Anthem was played and we all moved up toward the start line.  A gun went off…and so did we.  I gave a wave to Cathy on the sideline as I ran past…and really just felt good that morning.  YAY!  To be honest, while it was chilly (41° F) at the start, it was ideal running weather and was supposed to warm up as the morning went on.  That being said, unlike at Fort Ben a couple of weekends before this race…I ended up keeping my gloves on and not shedding them.

So, there are actually quite a few turns in the first mile of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon.  It starts off nice and flat and fast…and you don’t even realize you’re running that fast until you hit that first mile marker.  It was, as I said, the perfect morning for a half marathon.  The sun was coming up.  It was crisp and cool.

And I settled in pretty quickly into a rhythm.  It was, for the first mile and a half, with a tall guy who was constantly commenting on how he couldn’t believe how far up the 1:40 pacers were at the start.  Let it go, dude.  Let it go.  They have a pace they are going to run.  Those who can go faster…will.  We also had to run past EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which meant we were greeted by a guy with a speaker and a microphone basically preaching to us about why abortion is bad.  Dude…we’re running a race here.  Go do something useful with your time.

I knew I was pretty fast on my first mile, so I made a point to back off as we the loop leading into the second mile, and taking us back onto E Witherspoon.  We turned this time though, heading onto Preston before turning again E Muhammad Ali Blvd.  A couple more turns, keeping my pace in the mid to low 7:40s…which was still faster than I should have been…but I hadn’t passed Ron yet and 1:50 wasn’t coming up on me.  It was still early, and I knew the hardest part of the race would happen once we got into the park.  For now, I’d just soak it in.  Once we got onto Lexington Rd I was in some pretty familiar (even though it had been ages since I’ve run it) territory!  YAY!

It was along this stretch between Miles 4 and 5 that I high-fived some kids, tried to find a spot on the road where I wasn’t running on the shoulder (that had lots of debris from trees) but also not running on the grade of the road, which is kinda tilted at this point.  My watched beeped a bit before I saw the Mile 5 marker…and I was questioning how I screwed up the tangents already (NOTE: I don’t actually run tangents…but my watch was WAY ahead of the mile marker).  As we crossed Grinstead, we had to avoid the rubble and construction stuff (there were LARGE concrete tube-things (technical term) on the side of the road, and lots of dust and stones in their wake), but this is also where we turn and head into Cherokee Park.

Welcome…to the land of hills.

I want to give a shout-out to one of my training partners this past summer…Christine…because she had us running these hills pretty much every weekend.  And I think that, while I slowed down some on these climbs, I handled them better than I would have.  So…thanks, Christine!  That being said, I have run in Cherokee Park so many times, that I know what the hills entail.  So, I respected that.  And I respected the goal of this race, which was not to kill myself trying to race it, but to aim for marathon pace.  Slowing down, if necessary, was perfectly fine.  And the hills were my reminder of that.  While I still pushed up them, I didn’t push too hard…I let it be a hill and allowed my work, but not overwork.  There was nothing to prove at this race.  I was just here to finish.

We go into the park just before Mile 6 and we exit the park just before Mile 10.  So, that’s about 4 miles inside Cherokee Park.  And this is where you get to experience the major climbs, but also, the best part of the race.  Cherokee Park, no matter how many times you run it, is beautiful.  And in the fall, I think it’s even better.  Highlights for the race all happened inside the park.  I do want to say, I appreciate the photographers inside the park being just before that HUGE, winding climb to Hogan’s Fountain. You still look good, because when you get to the top, you pretty much feel and look like death…except you go downhill after that.  Making the turn, my friend, Dan, was at the bottom.  I heard him cheering for me and I high-fived him as I ran past.  Up another hill.  THE BEST water stop around was Water Stop 5…run by MRTT/SRTT Louisville.  Costumes, cheers, and a whole lot of noise.  My name was in chalk on the ground.  My name was shouted and I had LOUD cheers as I ran through.  Just the boost you need after all those killer hills.  Itw as phenomenal!  I love being in a girl gang!  Around Mile 9, my friend Simon caught up to me.  I could hear him coming though…because he was complimenting everyone on their dogs.  I got to hear that for the rest of the race, and it kept a smile on my face.

IMG_7139

So…much…bourbon! Runners get 4 bourbon tastings at the after party!

We head out of the park and head back downtown.  At this point, I was ready for my legs to just pick it back up, but after Cherokee (and this seemed to be a sentiment shared by lots of runners that Saturday)…the legs just had no go.  The hills ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So, I just pressed on, once again reminding myself that having no go here was fine.  This wasn’t my goal race.  I just settled in, and eventually my legs picked it up a little, just not much.  I was ready to be done.

The last few miles went by relatively quickly, and when I hit Mile 12, I did start to pick it up a little more.  There was more of a crowd, there were lots of encouraging cheers…and I could almost feel the electricity of that finish line.  Making the final turn to run it in felt amazing…and, per usual, I threw my arms up as I crossed…because every finish line, whether you are first or last, should be treated like you won the damn thing!  Always celebrate that finish line.

My training partner, Ron, had made it in exactly a minute ahead of me.  We high-fived and hugged, collecting our medals, and making our way through the snacks to go to the afterparty (where I promised my roomie my beer and pizza…I can’t eat them…because gluten), and I was hoping to give away my bourbon tags…but I ended up having no one to share them with.  It was pretty windy and chilly.  I put my sweatshirt back on after standing around for a moment.  Eventually, Cathy and I needed to go.  We decided to grab a real breakfast at North End Café…then get some goodies for my post-run breakfast on Sunday (another 13.1 miles) from Annie May’s…and grab some groceries before heading home.

It was a great day to have a great race.  I need to just keep this one on my radar every year, because Michael Clemons is phenomenal as a race director and ALWAYS puts on a great event.

IMG_7131

Ron (my training partner) and me at the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

So, my official results of the 2019 Urban Bourbon Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:42:48.  Not mad at all at that time, because I finished within my goal range, between the 1:40 and 1:50 pace groups.  I was, technically, only 5 minutes faster than my marathon pace, and my coach said I maintained a great pace on this (aka: he wasn’t mad at it).  I was 208/3026 finishers overall.  I was 40/1739 female finishers in this race.  And I was 6/301 in my age division!  Sometimes, working in some races to the training plan is a great way to figure out where you are with your training…or a good way to squeeze in a training run (keep that pace easy and controlled) and earn a medal in the process.  Definitely coming back next year!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #17

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornThis is how my week started out.  My training plan came through Sunday evening, before I had gone to bed.  I opened it…expecting a lot less intensity and  fewer miles.  What I got was a repeat of the week of speed work.  I actually replied to my coach’s message with, “Well, this wasn’t the week I was expecting.”  He knew I was fresh off a 22 miler, and told asked me if I felt like I was too beat up to do it.

Honestly, I knew I could do it.  Mentally…I didn’t want to.  This was taper.  Right?  Physically, though, I knew I could do it and told him as much.  And so…the week of speed work returned…with a vengeance.

Let’s get into it…because while the workouts are all a repeat…how I ran them definitely was different.

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

I woke up on Monday morning feeling restless and tired.  It’s been happening a lot this training cycle – I’m just not able to sleep well after long or hard workouts.  And that, my friends, sucks!  A LOT!  So, I was tired.  But on top of that, my left hamstring (which apparently wants to be tight after every long run I do on hills) was tight and sore.  AND…on top of that, I had a few other aches that were niggling at me.  I got dressed, feeling moody, and went out for my base pace run…not even sure if I’d actually be able to do it…and not really sure I could do the strides at this point.  The good news is…after about 2 miles, it all felt better and I really started to flow.  I didn’t push the pace at all this time…but I did decide that things felt good enough to do those strides.  I knocked them out, feeling a bit of speed in my legs and was grateful that everything seemed to work itself up as I warmed up.  I did my additional hip strengthening exercises afterwards when I was working in my morning stretches.  And later that day, I met with Corey for my personal training session.  He, being an athlete himself, was very considerate of my hamstring and we worked with it and around it.  Later that night, I made sure to foam roll everything really well.  I had commented on my training plan that my hamstring was bothering me, and Daniel (my coach) did reply with that if I still felt beat up, to cut out the speed work tomorrow and just do a base pace run. I went to bed early, per usual, uncertain of how my morning run would go.

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

Well, my hamstring felt much better when I woke up on Tuesday morning.  That was a good thing.  And while I had an out…I decided that unless something didn’t feel right on the 2 mile warm up, I would do the speed work exercise that day.  And this particular day was none other than – Mona Fartleks.  If you’re an avid reader, you’re very familiar with these by now.  If you’re just joining me on this journey…here’s how these work: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  I felt good this morning.  Really good.  I hit all my paces hard and fast.  I recovered, keeping it faster than base pace.  And I managed to hit 3 new records on my Garmin.  Of course, I deleted these because they weren’t under race conditions (this is just how I do it…some people would have kept them, and that’s fine).  So, you could say I was feeling much better.  I surprised myself that day, even managing a 6-minute something mile for my one mile hard effort.  I don’t know HOW I did it…but I did.  And I won’t argue with the data.  After a shower, I did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.

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

I was looking forward to Wednesday.  I really was.  Because this was the morning I got to chill.  I actually slept in an hour later, knowing that my run would be shorter and easier.  This was the one day this week that would not have some speed element in it.  And I was going to chill and just enjoy it.  And while some of my splits registered faster than they felt (not that that is a bad thing…but I really try to keep easy miles easy on these days), I didn’t want to overdo anything.  I ran 5 miles, nice and easy.  That was my day.  Just my morning and evening stretches and some foam rolling.  I went to bed just after 7:30 pm because I knew what hell awaited me in the morning.  And it was a double-digit weekday run.

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

I slept really well coming into this workout.  For that, I was relieved.  But, I still woke up sort of dreading this run. First of all, it was cold outside, in the low 40s.  It was windy.  And I really hate double digit runs on weekdays.  I work very hard and sometimes put in long days, so when I have to wake up 30-60 minutes earlier than I normally would to squeeze in marathon training…it makes me grumpy.  I get the value of an occasional mid-distance run during the week, but as someone who already runs pretty early in the morning…these get really hard to fit in more often than not.  My body felt good, and I made sure that I kept my pace truly easy for the first 10 miles.  Then, I just pushed it on the last 3 miles.  I did this better than I had the week previously that I had done this same week of workouts…which was nice, because I was also fighting headwinds on my uphills (that’s not an exaggeration…my hills all had me running INTO the wind).  But I got it done.  And it was a relief to put it behind me.  I showered and started to do my stretches (which I had intended to do twice because I had plans that evening), but remembered that I needed to make Friday’s lunch for the office because I wouldn’t have time to make it tonight before we’d have to head out the door to Derby Dinner (I won tickets).  So, I did that…then finished my stretches…but never did get to foam rolling or the second round of stretches.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Thank God for rest days!!  I was up WAY past my bedtime on Thursday night with Derby Dinner Playhouse.  It was fun.  But I was tired and really ready for bed when I got home (and still had to change, brush my teeth, take out contacts, etc)…so I crashed hard.  I set an alarm for my usual Friday morning time and woke up with the alarm, but wasn’t ready to get out of bed.  Fifteen minutes later…I did haul myself out of bed to shower, stretch, drink coffee, and get ready for work.  I left the office shortly after lunch to head to Slugger Field to pick up my packet for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon.  I met up with my friends Corey, Paul and Melissa…and that was fun…but I sadly had to go back to work.  I finished up the day, went over to Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi”…and then went home to settle in, stretch and foam roll.  I went to bed at normal time…and set an alarm with enough time to get up and get ready without feeling rushed.

Saturday: URBAN BOURBON HALF MARATHON AT MARATHON PACE

I’ll have an entire blog on this race.  Let’s just say, I still finished sooner than I probably should have.  But my plan to line up with the 1:45 pacer was thwarted by the fact that there was a 1:40 pacer and a 1:50 pacer.  So I figured if I stayed in between them…I’d be doing fine.  I forgot how much the hills in Cherokee can beat up your legs.  Thankfully, my training partner, Christine, often had us run that particular way and route around the park, so even though it had been awhile, my legs had done it often enough.  I started off way too fast…eased it back…got killed by the hills (thank goodness my marathon is flat)…ran through the best water station run by MRTT/SRTT Louisville where I got a ton of screams and cheers, and then…finished strong, even though the legs were pretty much done by the 15K mark.  Press on.  Get it done.  I officially logged a 1:42:48 half this week, purposefully easing back on the pace.  I’ll take it.  OH…and this was my 40th half marathon I have run to date.  And that was with 2 years of little to no running due to injuries.  Not too shabby!

Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

Ever have one of those days where you want to be excited about the run that is assigned to you, but just can’t.  That was this morning.  I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to run a third 13.1 miles for the week.  I was fighting it all morning.  And I was in a very bad mood when I realized that the sunrise wasn’t until 7:59 am.  I hate this time of year ONLY for that reason.  That and winter coming too soon.  But the temps today were a beautiful 57°-60° in the morning.  I decided not to wait until it got light out, but to go ahead and put on some reflective gear, get some mileage done, then ditch it at home before finishing it up.  That’s exactly what I did.  And I kept a pretty steady pace for those first 8 miles.  Then…I picked it up.  The first two fast finish miles felt fine.  It got hard after that. The legs were not wanting to push and I just had to keep giving myself those pep talks and letting it feel hard.  I was glad to finish up that run, for sure.

For it being taper, I logged 60 miles this week.  I’m really hoping the intensity and mileage start to go down from here.  I feel like I’m getting stronger, but I’m feeling pretty beat up at times…so a nice taper would feel amazing right now.  And I love long runs, but I just want to be sure I feel ready, able, and rested for November 9th’s starting line.

Feeling very inspired, confident, and ready right now.  Three more weeks.  Let’s do this thing!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #16

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornRemember how I said I was in taper?  I was apparently confused.  Out of my mind.  Wrong.  Because my coach had one more long, long run up his sleeve.  And I didn’t know about it until I was leaving the Kentucky Center of the Arts.  I had gone to see Dear Evan Hansen.  I was in a pretty dress and heels.  I had a message come through from my coach telling me my schedule was posted and that I could choose how to run the 5K I was participating in on Saturday, but to not go 100%…because we (as in me…he wasn’t doing it with me, HA) had one more long, long run to tackle.

I flipped to my calendar and it was staring me down.  One final 20-22 miler.

Here. We. Go.

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

Thank goodness for easy, recovery days.  With as stacked as last week was with three 13.1 runs…I was happy to have the chance to rest up a little.  Especially since I had a late night with the Broadway show.  I slept in as much as I could…then got up to go out for an easy run.  The temperatures had dropped into the high 50s.  It was supposedly raining.  It wasn’t.  It was a nice run that morning.  No pushing pace.  I ran faster than I had been in the past…probably because I had no humidity weighing me down.  It was a good morning for a good run.  Even if I wore a hat because of rain and it didn’t rain.  I ended up with just over 5 miles.  No personal training…which was a blessing with the week I had leading into this one.

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

On an even more perfect morning temperature-wise, I went out in sleeves and some gloves (if temps are in the 40s or below…gloves always because Raynauds is real friends) and shorts and just let my legs do the talking.  I reminded myself not to push any sort of pace.  Just to go with the flow…stay in control of my breath.  And let this run be the miles I needed that day.  I ended up with 7.5 when I stopped.  Then, I got to add strides on to the end.  Six of them.  And I felt fast and strong and I was fast and strong.  And that’s the bonus of the cooler weather.  When you suffer and die and cry throughout summer as you sweat it out…you fly in the fall.  Hoping this trend continues because there comes a point where it gets too cold for me to function.  And right now…we’re right in my happy place.  Ended with 8 miles for the day.  Also tacked on my additional hip strengthening exercises to the stretches I do every day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Wednesday was a bad day.  Not that anything tragic or life changing happened.  But I had a double digit run on the schedule, so I had to go to bed SUPER early on Tuesday.  Then, I had to wake up every super earlier than usual on Wednesday morning.  I wasn’t loving it.  Not at all.  I also wasn’t loving the 800s that were scheduled.  I will gladly and happily force myself to do speed work when asked, but I LOATHE 800s.  The instant I got up, I went and made my Maurten 160 Drink Mix up and began to drink it while I was getting dressed, putting in contacts, all the things. I got my hydration bag ready to go and I headed out for my speed work.  And then…my stomach decided to be on the fritz all morning.  I just think it doesn’t like having things fed to it at 3 am before pushing a fast pace.  At all.  So, had to stop a couple of times for that, but felt better and rounded it out.  I also feel that EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME I have speed work, the road I cross on the stretch that I run for it (no track…because this area is the worst) has the most traffic of any other day, no matter the hour.  UGH!  But, you know, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I hit my paces, recovered properly and wrapped it up with stretching.  I also had personal training with Corey that afternoon.  He, thankfully, kept it basic…challenging, but nothing too intense. And for that, I appreciate him.  Also…Annie Mays didn’t have soft pretzels…so lunch was a no-go.  Had to improvise.  It just wasn’t my day.

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

I love a good recovery run.  We were back in the 50s this morning, so I kept the short sleeves and shorts, but ditched the gloves before I even went out the door.  My goal, once again, was just to let my body do what it needed to that morning.  I know that I have a pretty stacked weekend, and one rest day (which will involve the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park), I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize how my body would feel going into those.  I figured 3-5 miles would be perfect.  I felt good out there. My turnover felt amazing.  My breath stayed controlled.  And I finished up with 5 miles.  Went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my stretches.  Had to walk a bit farther to the office due to Harvest Homecoming happening downtown.  And spent a good chunk of my morning standing in line for Masonic Donuts (which I can’t eat, but my office loves them…except for this year…or something).  But, it was a good way to head into the weekend.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY

Full rest day!  YAY!!  I slept over 8 hours.  Got up to shower.  Did two rounds of my stretches and my foam rolling, just because I was unsure of when/if I would be able to get to it that night with the Pumpkin Walk happening.  I went into work…favorite t-shirt day…ready to sit and stand at my desk to get work done, go pick up Amanda (roomie’s sister), go to get Indian food for dinner, then head (weather permitting) to Iroquois Park to do the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  It was a bit chilly, but the worst of the rain happened while we were under the canopy of the trees.  It was a good way to wrap up the evening.  I went right to bed when I got home.

Saturday: RACE FOR THE CURE 5K – YOU CAN APPROACH THIS HOWEVER YOU WOULD LIKE OTHER THAN PROBABLY NOT A FULL OUT EFFORT

Let me preface this by saying that this didn’t feel like an all-out effort.  Not one bit.  In fact, for the first two miles of the race, I couldn’t feel my feet because I was so cold.  Most of this will be covered in my official blog on the race itself, but I felt good this morning.  I had a fantastic group of people running on my team for my mom, Dottie Brady, showing their support and honoring her and others in her family.  I love all of them for showing up and running for this cause.  So, I ended up averaging a 7:07 mile for the 3.03 (the course was either short or the GPS cut out when we went through the tunnel twice) miles, finishing third overall and first female.  I had a sweet woman come over when I finished and just gave me a hug and I loved her for that.  I needed it.  It was an emotional race and I felt so supported by my friends and team.  And for that…I am thankful.  So, it may appear I went all-out, but honestly, I had more in the tank.  But tomorrow’s run will be a good judgement on how I ran this one.  I felt amazing the entire time…and the cheers and shouts from not just my team members, but also the people along the course and in the race was uplifting.  What an amazing race!

Sunday: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

To be honest…I expected today to suck.  I really did.  After the 5K, a day full of grocery shopping, grabbing “magic sushi” during Harvest Homecoming (traffic and parking nightmare, friends), and a chilly Louisville City FC soccer match…I didn’t have high hopes for this run.  I set an alarm for 5:15 am.  Got up, put in contacts, ate breakfast, stretched, hydrated, got dressed, drank my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and got ready to head out as it was getting light out.  It was 36° outside, so I put on bright yellow capris and a long sleeve shirt with gloves.  And I realize I would have been cold for a few miles, but I probably would have been fine in short sleeves and shorts with the gloves.  Eventually.  I wasn’t pushing pace at all, and I was doing what I could to make it so that when I did my Thanksgiving course at the end of the run, I could head straight home.  The cooler weather was nice, but I did feel overdressed after a time.  I rolled up my sleeves halfway through the run.  I did practice my fueling…and I definitely have that dialed in for race day.  YAY!  And I felt strong, even on the super hilly back half of this run.  I finished it up, feeling confident about the race four weeks from yesterday.  Honestly, I’m as ready as I’m going to be.  Now it’s just a matter of taking care of myself through taper.  I’ve been a bit sluggish the rest of today…but aside from that, feeling good.  Happy that taper has officially (for real this time) started!  YAY!

Bonus Sunday inspiration was Kipchoge’s world record 1:59:40 marathon finish on Saturday…and Sunday was also the 6th Anniversary (to the day) of me running my first marathon and getting my BQ.  I hope it serves for further inspiration and motivation as the weeks wrap up and I head into my 16th marathon.

I have no idea what my week will look like, save for a half marathon on Saturday of this coming week.  I anticipate that I’ll be told to take this one easy and not push the pace.  And that’s fine by me.  I’d like to just cruise a half marathon because I’m tired.  I’ve had some pretty crazy weeks these past two weeks, and I’m ready to start seeing some downtime.

Who else is happy to hit taper time?  Anyone else running Urban Bourbon next Saturday?

Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben – Indianapolis, IN (October 5, 2019)

Snapseed

Me crossing the finish line at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben – Indianapolis, IN

Race: Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

Place: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: October 5, 2019

Time: 1:39:13

Friends…I am 21 SECONDS away from matching my half marathon PR (which I set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014).  That’s…that’s ONE HILL.  Do you know how thrilled I am to see this time?  To know that I’m 22 seconds away from a new PR (hey, a 1 second PR is still a PR)?!  I am ecstatic!!

And shocked.  This is my second fastest half marathon to date.  It’s been over 3 years since I even came close to my PR.

This is HUGE!

I apologize right now for all the bold, italics, caps lock, and exclamation point abuse!

Let’s take the deep dive into this race, shall we?

IMG_6404

Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

This story starts…on Friday.  Friday’s are complete rest days for me.  I hadn’t been sleeping well this past week, which sucked, but my sleep was a bit better Thursday night into Friday morning.  Not great…but better.  I got up, showered, finished packing, and started to prep my overnight oats (I’ve been eating these prior to long runs all summer, so why stop now?) to take with me to Indianapolis for race morning.  I put those in the fridge, finished getting ready for work, and went into the office for 6 hours.  Arrangements had been made to leave at 2:30 pm, head to Dragon King’s Daughter (because my magic sushi had to happen prior to a race for sure and I had a cooler in the car to keep it through the drive), and hit the road.  We were about 30 minutes away when I realized I had left my prepped overnight oats in the fridge at work.  UGH!  So, Cathy and I said we’d find a grocery store to find something comparable when we got to Indy.

IMG_6406

Packet Pick-Up

The drive was uneventful.  We listened to Meb Keflezighi on the Ali on the Run podcast for most of the drive.  Great listen, by the way.  It’s part of the “You Can Run a Marathon” series that she put together.  It was a funny, inspiring listen and it got us pretty much all the way into the greater Indianapolis area.  We rolled into our hotel, checked in, dropped stuff…I put sushi into the fridge in the room…and we headed out to hit up the race expo.

The expo itself was small (probably good from a financial standpoint), but very well organized.  Finding packet pickup was easy and I quickly was able to retrieve both my packet (bib and quarter zip) and my friend Kelly’s (she couldn’t get off work early and was going to drive up in the morning) packet for the half marathon.  Cathy went and got her 5K packet before we stepped into the small merchandise area.  She bought me a hoodie from the race.  YAY.  And that was all we did.  We left to head to the Fresh Thyme (for some pre-made overnight oats, cashew butter, and waters) and then Noodles & Co. (because Cathy needed a night before the race fuel too), before heading back to the room to eat while watching, what else?, the traditional Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

32D67404-965F-4579-AB8D-00E8CB34657E

“Magic Sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter – Gluten Free Green Acres & Gluten Free Spicy Tofu Rolls

Cathy went to shower after we polished off our respective dinners, and I got down to stretching and foam rolling.  Lights out was just before 9 pm.  And, my newfound insomnia kicked in again.  WEEEE!  I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and didn’t get much sleep…yet again.  UGH!  That sucked.  I switched off the first alarm I set because I was able to get up and not have to wake up anyone else because…I WAS ALREADY AWAKE.  I got back into bed for another 45 minutes, but no rest was coming.  Apparently I was going to run on fumes.  YAY.

The temperature outside on race morning was a brisk 47 degrees.  This was really the first morning of cold weather any of us were experiencing.  I decided to race in the outfit I wore in the Glass City Marathon, and would likely be wearing again at Monumental.  Arm warmers and everything.  Cathy had a bit more of a dilemma…because 40s are hard to dress for.  Sleeves are good, but sometimes you warm up fast.  Short sleeves might not be enough.  She opted for sleeves.  We ate some breakfast (she brought oatmeal from home), finished getting ready, and then headed out the door to drive up to the giant parking lot prior to the half marathon and 5K.

IMG_6418

Makeshift pre-race breakfast of Brekkie, Julie’s Cashew Butter, and Purely Elizabeth Granola (I brought that form home)

Kelly was there bright and early, so when we parked she made her way to the car while Cathy got out the trash bags she brought for extra warmth.  I handed off the packet and zip to Kelly, who was excited she was actually getting one of the jackets, before she went to drop it in the vehicle.  She was just in shorts and a tank (calling herself a human furnace)…and I was cold just looking at her.  HA!  She returned to the car and the three of us made our way over to the staging area near the start line.  There were some nice fires going, and we tucked in to attempt to stay warm.  Cathy went to drop her bag at Bag Drop, and we were just killing time now.  I did drink my Maurten 160 Drink Mix 30 minutes prior to the start, per the usual.

IMG_6422

Staying warm pre-race around the fires

As the start of the race neared, we did meander over toward the start corrals, where we met up with Elizabeth (another member of the MRTT/SRTT Southern Indiana Chapter), took some pictures, and then wished each other luck.  I was in Corral B, Elizabeth in C, Kelly in D…and Cathy was in the 5K corrals, so she was able to at least take some photos, video, and cheer at the start of the half.

The 1:40 pacers were in my corral and lined up near me.  I was to run this one at MARATHON PACE, so I wasn’t paying any attention to that.  It was a cool, crisp morning, and after the elites and first corral were sent off…we were moved up.  Cathy actually got a nice video of me starting, though she didn’t realize it at the time.  In fact, she was waiting for the corral after that.  Oh well.  That’s what happens sometimes.

IMG_6427

Elizabeth, Me, Kelly, & Cathy

The 1:40 pacers were fantastic, especially Troy, as he gave a lot of helpful advice to those who were running with him as we started out.  And it was a good reminder that we still had a long road ahead.  The first part of the race was a slight downhill…so I let gravity work it’s magic there.  We were off, and I was feeling surprisingly good.

The first two miles of this race were a nice, relaxed, gentle downhill.  My legs were feeling rested and good and they were on the move.  Mile 1 rolled by quickly, and as we hit Mile 2, we were already inside the Fort Harrison State Park.  It was as we headed into Mile 3 that we hit the first monster hill in the race.  It’s funny, when you look at my splits you can see the 2 giant hills that you have to tackle in this run.  But this one was early and my legs were fresh with some bounce.  And I just bounded up it and kept going.

The next few miles were rolling hills and flats.  And they were enough to just sort of keep your legs guessing and feeling good.  The volunteers at the water stops were phenomenal, cheering loudly for the runners as they came through the aid stations, and just being really encouraging.  I was still feeling good as I hit the 10K mark, knowing that I was ahead of my marathon pace, and hearing my mind tell me that if I slowed down, it was okay.  But I wasn’t going to make myself slow down.  We had perfect race conditions and I was rolling.  I took out one of the Maurten 100 Gels (the new one with some caffeine) and managed to take it without slowing down much.  There were no trash cans, so I held onto the wrapper until I spotted one, about a mile later.

IMG_6470

When you accidentally run your second fastest half marathon

We were routed into a little round about of a parking lot, looped and came back out on the other side.  Just after Mile 7, we crossed a grassy path and onto a bike path (the Harrison Trace Trail) for the back half of the run.  While this was a bike path, it never doubled back on itself, so it didn’t feel crowded or cluttered.  In fact, I felt like I had plenty of room to stretch my legs and push myself.

Just after Mile 8, we hit a HUGE downhill.  I love downhills, but I wasn’t expecting the drop that this one had.  Luckily, downhill is my favorite speed and I adjust very well to it.  My footing found itself and I easily rolled back into my pace.  It was just after this point that I removed my gloves and tucked them into my hydration pack.  It was starting to warm up, and every time I thought I could take off the arm warmers, a cold wind would sweep up, and I’d keep them off.

IMG_6476

Finishers: Me with the Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal & Cathy with her 5K Finisher’s Medal (love the leaf!)

After Mile 10, where I took another (non-caffeinated) Maurten Gel 100, we hit the largest hill on the course.  It was one of those that starts up, levels off, then continues to go up.  This was my slowest split of the entire race.  It felt good to get to the top, but now my legs were definitely feeling the fatigue of the speed of the race. Just after Mile 11, we ducked back across that grassy path and onto the road, heading back toward start of the race (also the finish, obviously).

It was at Mile 12 that the 1:40 pace group caught up to me.  And this entire time, in my head, I am reminding myself that I’m not running for a PR…I’m running Marathon Pace.  I knew I was way ahead of that, but I still felt good, despite that late, monster hill.  I ran right with them as Troy told his runners to skip the final water stop and keep rolling.  As we got halfway through the mile, Troy started to talk runners in…take some deep breaths.  He said they were easing back on pace, so as not to blow people out so close to the end (they were just slightly ahead of the time on his back)…and I kept going.  And I picked it up a little as I started to make the final turns to head toward that finish line.  I felt amazing.  And I crossed, still feeling good.  I stopped my Garmin, collected my medal, and then finally pulled the wrist band away from the watch face to look at my time.  And I about died.

IMG_6474

Finish Line Drinks: Cathy had the beer and I had the kombucha

It was my second fastest half marathon since I started running half marathons.  My two top times are on hilly courses.  How about that?  I mean, I hate hills.  Cathy came over and she was all, “YOU KILLED IT!”  And I did.  I killed it DEAD.  And I still felt good (which was also good because I had another 13 miles to run the following day with more speed thrown in).

We decided to go and check out the cookout that the race offered, ducking in.  There wasn’t really anything for me (food allergy queen), but Cathy snagged a piece of Jockamo’s pizza and a cookie.  She went and purchased a beer and got me a local kombucha (which…was delicious!!).  She ate and we went to go walk around, but had to stay in the little (and it was little) picnic area (we weren’t sitting in the tent) with our drinks (even though mine was NOT alcoholic).  So, she chugged her beer and I drank what I could of my kombucha but I was fresh off a fast half marathon and chugging something didn’t sound appetizing…and I was freezing…so I didn’t want to stand there any longer.

IMG_6483

Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with Cajun Dusted Tater Tots from Woody’s Library Restaurant

We made one more pass through the official merchandise…and I was tempted to get the finisher’s shirt with the names on the back (mine was on there)…but ultimately walked away from it.  I was happy with the hoodie that Cathy got me (she had to buy it as it said “Finisher” on it).  We made the drive back to the hotel where I took a shower and dried my hair while she packed up everything.  We headed to Carmel, Indiana (a short drive) to catch lunch at Woody’s Library Restaurant (where I got the Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with a side of the Cajun Dusted Tater Tots).  Then, we headed over to the Indiana State Fair Grounds because…Half Price Books was having a BIG clearance sale, where all books were $2 or less.  Amazing.

We left after a couple of hours and a lot of texting with my dad.  Road work delayed our return to the Louisville area, but we finally made it home.  Still without groceries.  I ended up making popcorn for dinner and then heading to bed.  And not sleeping well again.

Fort Ben 3

Finish Line feels at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

My experience at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben was amazing.  I can’t wait to run it again next year.  Hopefully more of my friends can join me!!  It was definitely much better running weather than what the large group of over 100 MRTT/SRTT ladies dealt with at the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon had the week before.  Kind of glad I opted for this one.

My official results of the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben are that I finished in 1:39:13, which, as I previously mentioned, was a mere hill, or basically 21 seconds off of my PR time from 2014). This race proved something very important to me…that I can still push the pace for 13.1 miles.  With all the times I have doubted my body, my ability, and mentally let myself check out, I felt strong and capable this entire race…even the two hills that messed up my fast splits. HA!  I was 156/1726 finishers overall. I was 24/851 female finishers. And I was 6/138 in my age division. Guys, my age division is SUPER competitive…always.  This race was no different.  But this rank…is beyond what I thought I could accomplish here.  If you need a fall half marathon on your radar…put the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben on your radar!