Because I needed a shakeout run prior to the Boston Marathon, I opted to register for the B.A.A. 5K and use that as my shakeout, leaving me my usual rest day prior to a long run/race for the day before. And I did promise my coach, Kim, that I wouldn’t pull a New York City and be on my feet too much leading into the big day.
When you aren’t racing a 5K, they are way more fun, let me tell you. But this was a good way to kick-start the weekend for sure. And my roommate, Cathy, was also going to run it. That was my fault. I convinced her that since we were in Boston, she should at least do that and she’d get to make that famous turn from Hereford onto Boylston and run under that famous finish line. Worth it, if you ask me.
The B.A.A. mails out the bibs for this race for most people, and we received ours a couple weeks ahead of the trip to Boston. I repetitively reminded Cathy to NOT FORGET to pack those bibs. And she didn’t. But I think it’s because I kept freaking out about it and she finally put them in her trip folder.
I spent much of Friday traveling, at the expo, and doing some fun sightseeing with Cathy and my best friend since childhood – Heather. The expo was much smaller than I remember it being in the past (someone else back me up on this) and the Adidas (official merch) part was INSANE! Like, insane insane. So crowded. Lines that wrapped. Crazy. We survived that and had some fun and random experiences at the expo. We legit stumbled across Meb at the KT Tape booth. Got his autograph and had a great conversation with him (per usual).
We grabbed dinner at Tavern on the Square, which had so many amazing gluten free options that we all got small plates to share and then got our mains. There was a lot of food, but it was DELICIOUS. Gluten free fried pickles. Yes please…more of that in my life from here until forever. My main dish was the Quinoa Bowl, which was roasted cauliflower, winter squash, beets, broccoli, kale, avocado, goat cheese, and crispy carrots over a bed of quinoa. It was amazing. Very happy with our decision to go there to eat. Sat outside. Had a great view, and a very fun waiter, Melvin, who kept us laughing and entertained.
We returned to the hotel that evening completely stuffed and ready to cycle through showers and get some rest. I set an alarm to give us time to get the three of us through the bathroom and getting dressed to head to the 5K start…and it seems to be the wake up time we’ve stuck with this entire trip.
We made the walk to Boston Common and over to the race staging area. Heather was kind enough to hold my jacket (it was a bit cool to stand around in my tank top that long) when I went to head to the corrals. Wave 1 had white bibs and Wave 2 had blue bibs. Wave 1 was going to go first and then the blue bibs were supposed to line up after us and…you know…be Wave 2. But it didn’t work that way.
Because there was no one helping at the corral entrances. So everyone just sort of piled in. And when the first wave of pros went to move…we all started to move…and everyone else who was standing outside saw everyone going and all flooded into the corrals. So…by the time the corral I properly placed myself in for my shakeout pace got up to the start line, the pros were already done. Legit, I saw Kiera D’Amato in the finisher’s chute (I mean…that was really cool, but…). So, people were flooding into the finish line by the time I was starting. I wasn’t happy about that.
Thankfully, for me, this wasn’t a race. With everyone from every wave together, it made for a lot of bobbing and weaving (which, honestly, can be a bit dangerous) around other runners who have a more deliberate pace than me. I did my best not to trip and stumble, and carefully weave through the crowd as I made my way into the first mile. Let me tell you, Boston even loves the 5K as there were plenty of people out cheering and encouraging everyone out there. It made me smile. I’m all about smiles on the run.
After Mile 1, we head under a bridge, where everyone started WOOOOHOOO-ing. It was such energy. I loved it. We make a turn and head back, going back under the bridge, with more WOOHOO-ing and more energy, and then we head toward Mile 2, by making that famous right turn onto Hereford. Climb that short hill, and make that famous left turn onto Boylston.
Now you get to run the longest stretch of road ever, where you can see the Boston Marathon finish line, but it seems so far away. AND…you do get to cross it, but don’t get it twisted…this is NOT the 5K finish line. You have to run all the way down Boylston, past FanFest and make a turn just after Mile 3 to head into the finish line.
I spotted Heather immediately and waved at her as I ran to the finish. I walked through the crowd at the finish to get my medal and head back into the staging area to grab the snack bag and my t-shirt. I went to find Heather and drink some water while we waited on Cathy to finish. I was tracking her so I had a good idea of when she would be rounding the corner. We cheered her in and went to go wait for her on some bleachers near the exit. We started talking about the mess at the start and she said there were a lot of angry runners near where she was lined up (she was Wave 2 even).
You win some, you lose some. I accomplished my goal of running an easy couple of miles and enjoyed most every part of it. The part that was frustrating, well, that’s just part of what sometimes happens on race day. I was just surprised there weren’t volunteers at the corral entrances to help direct a little bit more. In the end, it was fun, and I had fun, and it accomplished the purpose of the run…and earned some bling too.
Spent the rest of the day at FanFest and going to check out the Finish Line. Then we went to the Boston Red Socks game. I mean…a game at Fenway…count me in!! Had a blast hanging with Cathy and Heather and doing the wave and listening to the crowd boo people on the Minnesota Twins, and then having to Google why they are booing these players. True story. And we got a Green Monster home run…so BONUS!
After 2015…this trip is already 100% more fun! Can’t wait for tomorrow.
Anyway, the results of my shakeout run at the B.A.A. 5K are that I finished with an official time of 26:46. I was 2622/8193 finishers overall. I was the 971/4584 women finishers. And I was 141/665 in my age group. And because I was literally running easy, all my finish line photos look amazing. HAHA!
If I hadn’t made it clear in years past…I LOVE NEW YORK CITY!! And I hadn’t been back to the Big Apple since I raced the NYC Half Marathon back in 2018. That is way too long…but you know…global pandemic.
Here’s what I can say about going into race day this time around. I made A TON of bad decisions leading into race day. I landed in NYC on Friday…REALLY early. My roommate and I caught an early ass flight out of Louisville to New York, direct flight. Love that story. Maybe not the early ass part, but I mean…it meant more time in the city. We landed, grabbed my luggage, and went to meet our car service to get the lift from LaGuardia Airport to the Chelsea Flower District, to our hotel, The Cambria. The problem was, a truck was blocking the road, so our driver let us out at a corner and told us which way to walk to get to the hotel. Since it was the Flower District…we had to dodge, not just people, but also plants. So. Many. Plants. On. The. Sidewalk. But…somehow I maneuvered my bag (which is as big as me, I swear) to the hotel and we got checked in. Our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our luggage and went out to get coffee and head to the expo.
Let’s start with my first mistake…ALL THE WALKING. Granted, the race was 2 days away, but I spent pretty much all of Friday walking the streets of NYC. After not finding an ideal coffee spot, we ended up getting Starbucks…and continued on our way to the race expo. I should have checked the info, because we went to where it had been in the past. Guess what…it had moved. WHOOPS. That will teach me to read all the information they send in those emails. HA!
So, we turned around and started to make our way to the actual expo, which was held this year at Center415. We had to show our Proof of Vaccination and our photo IDs to enter, and that went smoothly. Then it was off to the races…figuratively…because it’s packet pickup. The expo was smaller than I expected, but the process of getting a bib was as easy as showing a QR Code and getting your corral letter stuck onto a bib. Seamless. Went from there to take a couple of pictures and then continued on into the merchandise area. If I liked New Balance shoes, I would have been tempted to buy the special ones they had…but I don’t like New Balance shoes. Instead, my roomie gifted me with a cute running jacket and a t-shirt. I thought about getting one of the winter hats, but they weren’t overly special…so I didn’t. We headed out…and went to wander around Manhattan…with a stop at Tiffany’s (I didn’t buy anything…don’t be shocked). We grabbed a quick lunch of soup at Fresh & Co (because I suddenly realized I was starving). Then we went to Rockefeller Center to watch some people ice skate and to grab chocolate from our favorite chocolate shop.
We then made the trek back to the hotel to see if we could check in yet. We could not. Booo. So, we went to sit outside in the sunlight for a little while. I don’t like just sitting, but I did it and checked out the menu for where we were going to grab dinner, The Little Beet. After many attempts at getting our room, we were finally given keys and went up to room 1205, which was just off the elevator and in the corner on the left. The rooms were nice. We placed our dinner order and waited for it to be delivered. It was SO GOOD that we ordered from The Little Beet two more times while in the city.
After eating, we got dressed up because we had tickets (my birthday gift to my roommate) to see Come From Away on Broadway (which, let me say right now…one of THE BEST Broadway shows I have seen). I was going to wear heels with my pretty dress, but my roomie talked me out of it. I didn’t have sneakers that matched the dress, but she said no one would care. My coach, Kim, later thanked her for doing that, HA! We made the long walk to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, located between Broadway & 8th Avenue. It was a pretty long walk, so not wearing the heels was actually smart. The show was SO amazing. Like I said, one of the best shows I have seen TO DATE!! Highly recommend. After the show, we made the long walk back to the hotel to shower and get some sleep.
Woke up on Saturday morning and headed down to Central Park to do a shakeout run. We finally bought our MetroPass so we could ride the subway. That helped. Way less hiking. I got to Central Park way earlier than expected so went on my 30 minute shakeout…somehow managing to get myself a little lost after turning around and heading right back to where I started. I have the worst sense of direction. THE WORST! But I made it back. And then met one of my favorite Peloton instructors, Mister Power Zone himself – Matt Wilpers. That was really cool. He’s very genuine and just how he is on the screen of the Peloton tread or bike. Took a photo with him and had to get back to the hotel to change and head out because today was “being a tourist day.” Which meant, I was taking my roommate to the Statue of Liberty, because with as many times as we have traveled to NYC…she had never gone to the statue.
Enter my next mistake on this trip. Can you guess what it is? We went down to catch the ferry, which was fine and easy and quick. You did have to go through airport level security, but that wasn’t too bad. We didn’t get a spot to sit down on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. It was chilly on the water, and the wind was really insane. But…we docked and got off the ferry and made our way to the statue. She was just as I remembered her. The crown still isn’t open, but we were allowed to go up to the Pedestal. This is where I made the error of climbing the stairs up to the Pedestal. Sorry, Kim. I wasn’t thinking. It was 215 stairs, or about 10 stories. But, the views were amazing. I did a lot of the infamous “tourist pose”. And after we made the circuit, we went to head back down. More stairs. Good times. After that, the ferry stopped off at Ellis Island. We grabbed a snack after a little wandering about…an orange and some chips. And water. I was terrible at hydrating too. Whoops. When we got back on the ferry, we returned and made our way back to the hotel. Yes…that pretty much took the extent of all day. WORTH IT. The race was the following day, and while we had intended to go get some sushi at a nearby establishment, we opted to order in The Little Beet again. I got more grains this time with my bowl, and added beets (because those are supposed to help with running performance). After that, I foam rolled and stretched and got ready for bed…because the following morning…was RACE DAY!
When we were here in 2018, we took the subway to Brooklyn and ended up packed like sardines in the train car. With Covid-19 still being a thing, we opted to skip the subway ride to Prospect Park, and instead hired a car to take us there. It was an easy drive in, and we went across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was really cool. They dropped us off across the street and we went to sit down on a bench for a little bit, since we were still a little early. I brought my pre-race fuel to eat on the walk to the start, but Cathy went ahead and had her breakfast while we waited and chatted and watched some warmers do some strides or get some easy miles in ahead of the race. After a little while, I needed to head into the park and to the corrals…so Cathy went to catch the subway to the Manhattan Bridge and I went to go find some friends inside the park.
The first sound I heard was the voice of Ali Feller (of the Ali on the Run podcast), which felt so calming, honestly. I ate my overnight oats while I walked the path past the port-a-potties and to the corrals. I was in Corral D, and was hoping to meet up with my friend Andrew and see my friend Shana (she was volunteering at the start). And guess what? I met up with both of them. Shana was at my corral entrance, and we snapped a quick photo together. And Andrew and I got quite a few photos, some with me in my throwaway clothes (which were not human highlighter equivalent), and some of me in my race clothes (way more colorful). It was SO NICE to have someone to chat with while we waited in the corral. He’s just as fun in person as he is on Instagram. We went to run our own races at the start, but we stayed together as we jogged across the line.
This was a different route from the one in 2018. There was much more Prospect Park in this version, including a very annoying hill in the first mile. The start was pretty crowded, so I just tried to stay in the flow and not go out too fast. I succeeded in doing that and even picked up the pace a little as we headed out of the park in the first mile and onto Flatbush Avenue. This was fine…except for the 180 turn before Mile 2. After that…it was just a matter of getting to the Manhattan Bridge. The miles felt fast here, but I knew that Mile 5 was the climb onto the bridge. It was also where I fueled with Maurten. The bridge was a slog to get up, but there were so many people heading up the incline that it didn’t feel too hard. I also knew that somewhere on the opposite side would be my roommate. And boy…was she ever there…screaming her fool head off at me. I gave her a wave and a smile and rounded the corner to head toward FDR Drive…where you can legit SEE the city. I fueled again at Mile 10.
I could tell my legs were getting tired way earlier than wanted them too. That climb on the bridge took a lot of speed out of them, especially after spending so much time on my feet in the two days leading up to race day. As I said, many, many mistakes were made. But it was fine, I could do this run, even if I did slow down. I was slowing down. But, I still felt good. So that’s all that mattered.
At Mile 11, as we headed through Times Square, my roomie caught me on the course again. I could hear her over the roar of the crowd, but I never could find her. I gave a wave and smile and focused on now heading up the long and slow climb of 59th Street. We turned a corner and I knew I had about a mile left and we were heading into Central Park. This was the other big difference from 2018…way less time in Central Park. But it was an uphill finish, which is pure evil, but, I had run it in my shakeout run, so I knew that was the case. I tried to pick up my pace, but my legs were toast. I crossed the finish line, and for the first time in a long time, felt wiped. I was DONE.
I made sure to pick up my medal and get the little snack bag and a Mylar wrap on my way out of the park. That was a fun little hike, and we were let out at Columbus Circle, which was where I was meeting my roommate. We went to go sit down and my official time popped up. It was a course PR (because new course, LOL), but it wasn’t the time I was hoping to get in the buildup. I was okay with it…kind of. BUT…I did the best I could on that day. That I did know.
After sitting around for a few minutes, we went to hop on the subway to go back to the hotel so I could shower and get changed. I texted my coach and we made plans to meet at her hotel before she left. So, we headed back toward Central Park, and saw the Stranger Things Experience…so we got tickets to do that and then had to duck back into the subway station to get across the street and walk towards Kim’s hotel. I met her in the little hotel restaurant area. And I was so happy to meet her in person for the first time, after having worked with her since December. She is wonderful. And as mad as I wanted to be at myself for my finish time, she kept reminding me that it was a difficult course and I was in the midst of marathon training. I couldn’t be mad. We hung out and talked until it was time to head back and do the Stranger Things Experience. It was free admission, but you end up buying ALL THE THINGS because the show is amazing and it made me want to do a rewatch leading into the new season which comes out next month.
That night, we got dressed up once again (and this time I did wear heels) and took the subway into Harlem to meet up with our friends Marisa and Jim for dinner. It was so fun to catch up with them (we hadn’t seen them since their wedding) and eat a great dinner. The food is always delicious and the entertainment…amazing. Gotta love a live jazz band. It was loud, but it felt normal. And I’ve been searching for that for years now. Oh, in case you were wondering, I got the Spicy Charred Glazed Cauliflower – roasted tomatoes, bean puree, cilantro-yogurt sauce. It was heaven on a plate!! And I got a celebratory pint of Angry Orchard cider…because it was a celebration! Did I get dessert too? Yes. The pineapple sorbet…which tasted like dole whip. I was so happy.
But I digress…
So…the official results of the 2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon was that I finished with an official time of 1:43:41. I was 3605/22,355 finishers this year. I was 823/11,458 female finishers. And I was 87/1640 finishers in my age division. It may not have been the race that I knew I was capable of, but it was the best I could do that day…and I made it to that finish line. I do love running races in NYC…and this is my third time running the NYC Half Marathon (all three times on a different course). I can’t wait to go back to run another race there sooner rather than later this time!
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 6, 2021
Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.
Let’s skip to the good part:
This was my second fastest marathon in the 17 I have run (my PR was my first marathon back in 2013)
I negative split a marathon for the first time…EVER.
I threw the plan away halfway through the race…and this wasn’t a bad thing.
Whew. Deep breath. Now let’s talk about why all of the above is important, because coming into race day, I was starting to really have my doubts. Legit, I was having meltdowns over the possibility of everything going wrong on race day (hey…it can happen), and in turn letting myself and everyone else (honestly…no one would ever be disappointed in me) down in the process.
As many of you know, this race, initially, was supposed to be Marathon #3 in a span of 6 weeks. Berlin 2021 would kick it off…then Boston 2021…then Monumental. So, when I started back with my coach in February, we were working on getting me prepared to run decent marathons over such a short span of time. But, I opted to defer Berlin, not knowing where the world would be with COVID at that point, and I really wanted the FULL experience in Germany, up to and including Oktoberfest, which was canceled in 2021. Boston announced a reduced field size, but with it being the 125th running…registration was crazy (this included international, which eventually meant spots opened up because of travel restrictions, which were then given to those who qualified and registered for the Virtual Boston Marathon (I have a lot of opinions on that too…and if you know me, you’ve heard them, so I won’t voice it again). So, when I lost Boston because a buffer that would have been big enough on a normal year wasn’t good, I was heartbroken. When Boston offered spots to those who opted to do the virtual (I opted to train and do a marathon and qualify again for more than that reason), I was crushed. It was heartbreak all over again. And it took A LOT of wind out of my sails. Not going to lie.
But we move on.
I will say this…my training from February through November was crap. I pretty much hated every bit of it. Not all of it. But I felt like the things that concerned me or that I didn’t like weren’t being heard. For instance, I don’t like training by time. I would much rather be told how far to run, and not what amount of time to run for. I have never enjoyed training by time, and I still don’t. Pretty much every run had some aspect of speed in it. I love a run where I get to chill and not think about pushing paces. Whether it was fartleks, or strides, or hill sprints, or some ungodly amount of 800 m repeats…it was always something. And let’s talk about the summer heat. For years, I was fine in the heats. I did better in the heat. But the last three or so years, I wilt in the summer and summer runs legit take it all out of me. And speed work in the heat…that’s instant death. It was rare a summer speed session went the way it should have. And when you’re a perfectionist like me…well…that gets in your head.
Add to that, getting a text from your coach a few weeks out and being told that he isn’t confident, based on training, that my BQ goal was likely. Nothing sucks more than having the person who is supposed to be confident and instill confidence in you tell you that he’s not confident. It made me not confident. Thankfully, I have family and friends who told me otherwise on repeat because that totally messed me up. And guess what? When the cooler temperatures moved in, my paces got faster and felt easier. I ran a fast half marathon without even pushing my full potential just a few weeks prior to this race. That was a confidence booster there.
On the Thursday before the race, my coach called while I was driving home from work to go over race day expectations. He was out on his long run and had three athletes running Monumental, so hew as knocking them out while on the run. He once again brought up my training, and how it really never clicked until 3 weeks out from race day. So, he said, expectations for a 3:35 were possible, but felt my 3:30 suggestion was out of my reach. He said, honestly, that a 3:37-3:40 was most likely where I would come in. He said lining up with the 3:30 group might be disheartening if I went out hot and then fell off. He said to line up with the 3:35 group…and expect that I might fall off them, but to just do my best to hold on. And…to have some names of people in mind to dedicate the later miles to, when the race would surely get hard and start to hurt. Considering I dedicated every mile in my first marathon to people, this is a tactic I have used before.
Welcome to Friday. I took the day off work so I wouldn’t have to try to make it up to Indianapolis after work when traffic might be crazy and I would be stressed out. This allowed me to do my shakeout run (45 minutes…PLUS STRIDES) in the daylight, which gave me way more options on where to run. I chose a hilly route and took it easy…then finished off those strides feeling strong and fast. Awesome. Took a shower. Finished packing. Called in my order to my local sushi place to get my sushi to go and haul it up to Indianapolis (in a cooler, just FYI) with me so I could keep the “magic sushi” pre-race/long run tradition alive. We picked it up…stored it in the cooler, and made the drive up to Indianapolis…with no delays or problems.
Because I am a self-proclaimed princess (or maybe it’s the 4 tiaras that I own…ha!), my roommate and I were staying at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. I know…fancy. And Marriott rewards points are always nice to have and use. This was convenient, as it wasn’t far from the start and finish line…nor was it far from the expo. The one thing that was of concern was my roommate had suddenly started snuffling on Wednesday. She claimed, like everyone does, that it was allergies, but finally admitted on Friday it was a head cold. Worst. Timing. Ever. We got up to the room, on the 18th floor, and then headed out to the expo. Despite being triple vaxxed (2 shots + booster) we masked up, and with Cathy dealing with a head cold…it was the smartest thing to do.
The expo was small, but this one usually is. Cathy got her packet first…super easy. I went and got mine. And then I picked up a packet for a friend of a friend of mine. No hassles or problems. Very easy and streamlined. Then I went to Runner’s Services to pick up my Monumental Ambassador shirt (did I mention I was a race ambassador? This was fun…but it weird to still be doing it in a pandemic year as I feel like there would have been a lot more going on had we been able to gather) as well as a hoodie that was mailed to me, but never actually got to me. Seems about right. Thanks for that USPS. I met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Juan…and then took a spin through the official merchandise. It’s good luck for me to buy SOMETHING from the race. I thought about a coffee mug, but they weren’t selling any. Boo. So, I started looking for some tops…which, sadly, by 3 pm on Friday, all that was left were the L-3XL. I was really disappointed. On a side table, I did spot a bright yellow quarter zip that had a few women’s smalls in it. So…that’s what I ended up with. It wasn’t the piece of merchandise I was interested in…but it’s something that will get worn. I wandered around the expo, hoping to run into a few friends…but eventually had to head back to the room and get off my feet.
On the way back to the hotel, I did run into Tammy & Dean, who I’ve run with in the past and are local runners and friends of mine. We chatted for awhile, I we informed them of the lack of actual merchandise for smaller people. We parted ways so they could get down to the expo and I got upstairs. My friend Kelsie called just as I got back and was down at the expo. We decided we would meet up before the race because we both wanted photos together. Afterwards, I showered and settled in for the night. Yes…with Food Network and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (duh…always!). Cathy ended up opting for an easy room service order of a quesadilla, instead of trying to find something downtown that she could carry out back to the hotel. The box she picked up had three quesadillas in it. No lie. I think she ate half of it and put the other half in the fridge to have after her 5K (she never got around to it, though). I busted out my sushi I brought with me from Dragon King’s Daughter. I didn’t have any chopsticks with me…so I turned it into finger food. You do what you gotta do. Thankfully, sushi isn’t a messy meal.
Soon after, I was brushing my teeth and getting everything ready for the morning. I set three different alarms. One for me. Another for me. And one for Cathy. Lights out was close to 9 pm. And, of course, I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t really had good sleep since I moved apartments in March 2020 (and we all know what else happened in March 2020). I try though. And while I did fall sleep, it was for 20 minute spurts and then I’d wake up…roll over a couple times…and try again. My first two alarms never actually went off because I was already awake to turn them off.
All week, I had been fussing over the weather. We were getting a cold snap, so once again race morning was going to be cold. If you remember, in 2019…it was around 29 degrees when I crossed the finish line. This year, it was going to be 30 degrees at the start…no wind. So, after going back and forth on it…I opted to wear shorts (who am I?). Getting ready in the morning is easy. First I ate my over night oats. Then I put on my race outfit. Then sunscreen (always sunscreen!). My new friend, Sue, who I had picked up the packet for, was on her way to my hotel to get her stuff, so I headed downstairs to meet her. When I handed it off, she mentioned that it didn’t feel too bad out there. I asked her if the shorts were appropriate. She said yes. We wished each other luck and I went back up to my room. I now had to put my hair extensions in and put the signature pigtails in my hair. Thankfully, everything cooperated. I brought some throw-away clothes, which I slipped into and filled up my hydration pack with Nuun, and grabbed my Maurten gels and my Maurten 320 to drink about 30 minutes prior to the race. Cathy handed me a Mylar to wrap around myself while waiting for the start…and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.
The plan was to meet up with EVERYONE at a specific statue at the Indiana Statehouse. I managed to find a few members of my She Runs This Town (SRTT) chapter, but not everyone was there yet for the photo. I went to go fuel…and immediately had a meltdown over the race, which Cathy had to deal with. She spotted my pacer and told me to go and talk to him. He was easy to spot. REALLY tall. Wearing a throw away tie dye shirt. I called him Tie Dye Guy (any other Only Murders In The Building watchers?). His actual name was Riley. The corrals got really crowded really fast. I met Jason, another pacer. And Gerald, from Chicago. We chatted as other people started to cluster around the pace group. I ducked away just briefly to ditch the throw away clothes and returned…ready to run.
I never did get to meet up with Kelsie or Taushah. And I missed the photo op with my SRTT ladies…but the race was getting ready to go. The national anthem was played. And then Wave A was sent off. I was in Wave B, so we were moved up and had to wait until we were sent off. That was about 5 minutes later.
The first mile of this race was CROWDED. I mean…crowded. The pacers were having a hard time getting up to pace and the rest of us were trying to duck and dodge people in order to keep up with our pacers. Despite all of that…the first mile was WAY behind pace…clocking in at 8:30 (a 3:35 means an 8:11 mile average). They encouraged us by saying that we would slowly chip away at that in the next couple miles and get back on track. Mile 2 came around at 8:08 pace. As we entered Monumental Circe, there was a crowd there and a lot more room to move (finally). So Riley and Jason took us a bit faster but got us back on pace by the time we clipped over to Mile 3 with a 7:33 pace. WAY faster than we should be, but back on track.
Miles 4-7 were really easy. I stayed with the pacers or just behind them for most of it. And I found myself moving slightly ahead around Mile 6. I was talking with Gerald. Easy conversation. I could easily have a conversation. But we noticed the pace group was falling back behind us and both decided we should back off pace and keep them closer. Here, Riley busted out one of his cheers, which really made it fun. Just before Mile 8 is the split off where the half marathon runners go left and those running the full go straight. I fueled at this point with the rest of my Maurten 320 and again found myself up ahead of the pace group. I eased back again, even thought I felt good. I was Mile 8…too early, I told myself. I still stayed just ahead of them though…because I know sometimes pace groups can get crowded (I have been tripped more than once running with a pace group). I heard someone chatting behind me about living in Clarksville, Indiana. And I turned my head and said, “I’m in New Albany!” He mentioned probably seeing him on the Greenway if I run there. I’ll have to see if our paths cross next time I am down that way. I remained really steady with my pace from Miles 9-13, and was distracted between Miles 10-11 as I searched to see if my friends George and Susan were out as they live on the road those miles fall on. It was really cold…I didn’t spot them. I doubt they were out, but I always check…just in case.
We ran through the halfway point, and Riley busted out his second cheer to get us motivated and keep it fun. I still felt really good. I moved ahead again. In my head, I was hearing my coach telling me to hang with the pacers through at least Mile 20. I thought about how much further I still had to go. But I also knew I felt GOOD! So, I said…”FUCK IT!” And I went.
This is where I meet my new friend Stephanie. She moved up with me and asked if I was going for a BQ. I told her I was and asked if she was as well. She said she was and she said I looked really solid with my pace. So for awhile we were right there with each other. The miles clicked off and I never felt tired. I fueled at 12 and again at 16. I made sure I was hydrating at every mile, and in between if I felt I needed it. Mile 18 clicked off and then we hit my favorite part…the downhill at Mile 19. Love it. Downhill is my favorite.
Mile 20 is where most people start hitting the wall, but I was starting to pick the pace back up. I started passing people who were slowing down or starting to walk. (No shame in the walk game, FYI…I managed a 3:49:46 at the Dopey Challenge in the marathon (which is after running a 5K, 10K, and Half in the 3 days prior to the marathon) taking walk breaks). I actually felt like I could run this pace all day. Stephanie and I ended up running those last few miles together. It was nice to have company stride for stride. She was kicking ass. In 2019, the last three miles had a terrible headwind. This year…none of that. The sun was out. It was over 40 degrees (which meant I was now hot, but didn’t want to slow down to mess with taking off arm warmers). At Mile 23, i said, “We’re going to do it!” to Stephanie. She said, “Fuck yeah, we are!” I knew I liked her. I took my last Maurten Gel at Mile 24. I know only 2 miles remain at that point, but why risk having a lull in energy? Stephanie moved just slightly ahead after Mile 25 and inside my head I was cheering her on because it was motivating me. My friend Dean was somewhere around that last mile and he gave me a motivational cheer as I ran past. I smiled and waved. I still felt good. That final turn into the finish line was amazing. So many spectators cheering. I was looking for Cathy in the crowd, but didn’t see her as I headed into the finish line. I crossed…throwing my hands up into the air and stopped my watch AFTER I moved past the photographers. She was on the other side of the finish…holding a sign.
Stephanie turned around and we gave each other a hug and congratulated each other. We’re now friends on social media. I then went over to Cathy, and finally uncovered my watch, seeing 3:33 staring back at me. And I broke down in tears of joy. I not only hit my goal…I smashed it. She told me to go get my medal and goodies and she would meet me at the end of the chute. I spotted Riley after that and he said, “Did you get your BQ?” I said I had and he high fived me. So did Jason. I got wrapped in Mylar and received my medal. A volunteer opened my water bottle for me and I took a sip while I waited to take a photo with my medal. Gerald found me then and we talked. He also got a BQ. And the guy from Clarksville…he was behind me in the line and we chatted some more too.
Got my photo. Got my winter hat. Grabbed a bag of chips and a cookie. One runner dropped his cookie near the table and thought about bending over to get it. He started to do that, but then stopped. I said, “It lives there now…just grab another!” He did exactly that.
I met up with Cathy and we moved to the lawn so I could lay down and put my feet up. We were waiting on our friend Greg to arrive. Cathy went to grab my Indython charm and scarf and to try to get my medal engraved. The line was crazy long so I said it wasn’t that important. Greg did arrive as I was finishing up a phone call to my mom (I always talk to my mom when I finish a race). We headed back to the hotel so I could get warm. I laid on the floor with my feet up for a little longer before heading into the bathroom to shower and change.
While I wasn’t very hungry, I also know that post-race nutrition is important. So, we walked down to Harry & Izzy’s, but the patio seating wasn’t open and there was a wait for seating. Instead, we walked to where Greg was parked and headed into Carmel to try to get seating at Woody’s Library Restaurant. There was a small wait, and we decided to walk up to the gluten-free bakery, No Label at the Table, for some goodies. The restaurant called while we were in there so Greg and a I hurried back to get the table. I noticed then that I wasn’t as sore as I usually am after a marathon. Not mad at that.
My dinner was Greek Tacos with Kettle Chips (the tots and fries and stuff used to be GF here, but it’s been 2 years since I’ve eaten there and that is no longer the case). After that, Greg drove us back to the hotel and dropped us off. Cathy and I took a walk through the park before calling it a day and heading in for the night.
It was a good day. It was a very good day.
The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:33:46, which now makes this my second fastest marathon to date of the 17 I have now fun. This honor had since gone to the 2019 Monumental Marathon, but I beat that time by 2 minutes. Also, this was the first time I ever negative split a marathon. Cathy waid she was watching my splits and going, “She’s speeding up!” I was 1315/3948 finishers overall. I was the 333/1598 female finishers. And I was 54/287 in my age division. Considering how nothing felt like it was clicking or going well in all of my training leading up to the day…this result couldn’t have been more welcome. In the end…trust yourself…trust your abilities. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t ready or that you can’t do it. Prove them wrong. Chase your dreams!
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sorry 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.
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!
After 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.
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.
Lots 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.
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.
After 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.
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.
And…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!
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.
We 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.
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.
We 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.
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.
I 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!!
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.
Eventually, 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.
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.
I 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.
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.
The 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.
Just 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!
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.
My 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was decided, by the birthday girl herself, that we (Heather, me, Chad, Chelsea (her
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
As 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.
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.
Gifts 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 out 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.
I 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 9, 2019
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
It’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?
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 TEN…TEN!! 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!