It’s that time of year, friends. Yep. That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens. And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K. Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!
The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day. Why? I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money. So it doesn’t happen. So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.
But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends. Oh no!! Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will. And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.
I woke up feeling slightly “off.” My stomach was unsettled. I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help. At least I was hydrated, right? It was also VERY warm out this particular morning. Like humid and hot. The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in. UGH. So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water. When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it. I told him I wanted to race it. Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!! I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point. But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?
My speed work sessions during training have been fast. So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen. Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon). Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K. Because these legs were not made for sprinting. They were made for…DISTANCE. But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!
And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have. Spoiler alert: No PR. But let me first start with what I did do. I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw). I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries. I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.
My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race. All of these things were accomplished and did happen. I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky. It would be better thank bonky! (Rhyming is fun!)
I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point. I was amazed how few people were there at this point. So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting. Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope. I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.” It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time. Imposter syndrome!
The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off. And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.
The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range. Not this year. I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13. It felt hard. And I knew I was fading already. The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today. Nope. I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.
It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down. So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing. I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster. They kept screaming to slow down. And they did…without me even commanding them to do so. Mile 2 was at 7:35. After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting. Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core. I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.
There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line. You actually sort of go uphill to the finish. Brutal. And I was fighting. I was fighting with all I had to get there. I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on. I think someone passed me. I don’t really remember. But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion). Mile 3 was 7:53. I was going off the rails. The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done. I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first. It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.
As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes. I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.
We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink. YES!! It was perfection.
The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast. Seriously. And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it. My card and time were in fact…right. I was first in my age division. How about that? I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).
I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere. Not on Facebook. Not on Pacers & Racers. Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results. BUT…here’s what I can tell you…
Officially…I had positive splits. But positive splits for positive people. I finished the race in 23:37. I was the thirteenth woman overall. And I was first in my age group. That’s it…that’s all I got.
And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start. Fingers crossed.
And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them. But, I am not currently holding my breath!
One of my favorite baseline 5Ks to run in this area is the Run For The Berries 5K, which is part of the Starlight Strawberry Festival in Starlight, Indiana. And, while I had wanted to be running a half marathon with friends up in Medina, Ohio…I was still in the area and using the 5K as my speed work for the week.
As I say every year I actually am able to run in this race…there are a lot of things I love to run for, but strawberries…that has to be one of my favorite things ever. If only they were free…but after a (usually) sweltering race, the strawberry treats are worth shelling out some cash for. Trust me. My go-to is a big bowl of strawberries from the Strawberry Shortcake booth and a frozen strawberry drink. YUMMY!
Once again, I wasn’t actually registered to run the Run for the Berries 5K this year. I waited too long to do the mail-in form…and it doesn’t look like there is online registration yet. Which is weird. I know. But, that being said, this just meant we needed to head up to Starlight a little earlier so I could get registered, get pinned, get stretched, and get ready to run. So…that morning, Cathy woke up early and, after I did all my PT stretches, decided on what I was going to wear (hello Wonder Woman sports bra!), and ate something, slathered on some sunscreen, and we loaded into the car (and yeah…the sign was able to come too since the weather was humid and hot…but not wet and rainy!). The race was $25, which isn’t bad. I paid in cash after filling out the registration form. The shirts this year were a light sky blue. Not tech. I miss the tech shirts from this race.
We had to pin my bib onto my shorts because my sports bra didn’t have enough space for it (and I was now kinda nervous my girls were going to pop out of the cute little ziggy zaggy straps at the front). But it would have to do. I’m so not used to pinning things to my shorts at all. Luckily they were long enough and not ones that would ride up over my, now very muscular, thighs like most of my usual running shorts do. All this strength training and 3 days a week of spin have added some bulk to my thighs for sure! We had a bit of time, so we went to stand around outside near the festival entrance to people watch and just get ready.
About 5 minutes before the start of the race, runners began to make the walk down to the cone that marked the start of the actual race. As I was wandering that way, my friend Renee asked me if I was actually running this one fast. I told her that my training plan said to try to keep my pace below an 8 minute mile depending on humidity and heat. I have been struggling a lot this year with keeping my speed and endurance up in the heat…something I’ve never had an issue with in the past. UGH! Best I could do was hope for the best.
I was lined up in the second row at the start of the race. As with Fast Freddie…it’s off gun time, so the closer you are to the race start, the more accurate your time is. The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and he fired a gun, then dropped it and got into the pack to run the race itself. Or so I was told. Me…I was too busy taking off as fast as I dared.
The past couple of years I’ve managed to hit something in the high 6 minute paces. In 2013, I managed a 6:54 and in 2016, I hit a 6:48. I was sort of hoping for the same thing to happen this year. Especially since, while there are slight rollers in this first mile…it is the flattest portion of the race. I just pressed as much as I dared or could make my legs go…and decided my job today would be to push the pace and then try to hang on.
The turn onto Engle Road brought the second mile to a start. I knew my legs were starting to fatigue, but it was way too early for that. Humidity does seem to sap my energy a lot more than it used to these days. So, I decided to focus in on form and turnover. And, I did see a girl struggling, so I gave her some words of encouragement as I ran. The humid air dampened my pigtails and I could feel sweat beading on my stomach…but onward. I just kept going. This mile also brings in more rolling hills, but a few more downhills than uphills. We ran past Hubers Family Farm and continued down Engle Road. And then I hit Mile 2, ignored the water stop, and just I just kept on running. After the hill, it’s just a few rollers and a couple of smaller climbs to the finish. You actually finish this race going uphill.
I could hear Cathy yelling at me to run faster, which usually means another female runner isn’t too far behind me. According to official results, this was a mere 4 second gap between me and the lady behind me, who was also in my age division. As I crossed the finish line, a volunteer shouted out my time to me and I was handed a pink card. I also got a lot of compliments on my compression socks. I love being a fastinista.
Cathy sent me to get water and cool down by walking while she filled out the card and dropped it into the age group container for me. Then she went to grab our frozen strawberry drinks. Upon her return, of course I went to hit up the strawberries for my big bowl as a reward. It’s the best part, as I previously mentioned. While I was eating my berries and Cathy was enjoying a strawberry shortcake, a girl behind me said, “Excuse me miss…are those hair extensions in your hair.” I told her they were. She asked how I put them in so I tried to show her. Then she said the best thing, that, honestly, made my day. She said, “You encouraged me out there. Thank you.” She was the girl I saw struggling. That was the best reward ever was hearing that. That’s what running is all about, honestly. I asked her how she did. She said she was 12th overall female. So she wasn’t far behind me either. YAY!
After we devoured our treats, we went to check out the festival booths, where I ended up purchasing hair bows and a gift for my friend Melissa. Then, we headed back up to listen to the award ceremony and get our cheering on.
While the men were being announced, I went ahead and checked my watch to actually look at my splits: M1: 7:01; M2: 7:25; M3: 7:33. Yep. Very positive splits. My age group came around and I ended up as 2nd this year in my age division. WOOHOO!! I never expect to win…because there was one year where I was 6th overall and didn’t win my Age Group. So…you never just expect it. I went up to get my pint glass and then, Cathy and I decided it was time to make our pilgrimage to Hubers for some strawberries before heading home. We bought 2 gallons because…I make kickass strawberry jam, friends.
As it stands, the official results of the Run For The Berries 5K are that I finished in 22:45. Not a PR…and none of my splits were over a 7 minute pace. In the past few years I have run this, my first mile has registered in the 6’s. Not this time. I’m kind of bummed. I just want a PR at some point…and none of my old records are falling. Not. Even. Close. I was 28/133 runners overall. I was the 8/69 females to cross the line. And I ended up as 2/5 in my age division.
I want to come back stronger and faster next year. Goals.
I’ve been trying to be a bit more mindful of how I start my day when it comes to food these days. While it is so easy to simply grab a (delicious) gluten free bagel and top it off however I wish…my sports nutritionist and I have been working hard on keeping my protein levels higher…so this gives me incentive to come up with new ways of doing my favorite meal of the day.
And, one day, while shopping at Costco and spotting the pack of pomegranate seeds…an idea struck. And it has grown to be one of my favorite ways to do breakfast ever since. And why not? We’ve jumped on the smoothie wagon for Wednesdays, since our lunch is a giant, gluten free pretzel (always!). Why not play around a little more and find new ways to get nutrients in in the morning?
This is a super easy recipe, the most time consuming part is the 15 minutes it takes to prep and cook the quinoa. The rest…easy-peasy!
Find the recipe below:
Recipe: Pomegranate Breakfast Quinoa
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp nuts of choice (optional)
Cook quinoa: place 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa in a pot with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover, cook for 12 minutes until water is absorbed.
Split between two bowls.
Drizzle with pure maple syrup and top off with the pomegranate seeds, dark chocolate, and nuts (if using…highly recommended).
Just yesterday, I had asked my roommate what she wanted for breakfast, and listed off some favorites including bagels, overnight oats, and pumpkin pancakes. But she said, “I really like that quinoa thing you’ve been making.” And just like that…I knew I had hit on something good.
How do you like to fuel your mornings? Do you keep your breakfast basic or do you like to get creative?
AH…it’s so nice to be able to put up recipes and just blog about anything and everything. I’m really, really, REALLY trying to make this one of my priorities these days. I never realized how much I missed doing product reviews, typing up recipes, or just laying out my thoughts/feelings/emotions….for you guys!
So, it seems that Wednesday is turning into a Smoothie-For-Breakfast kind of day. Which is awesome. And, that being said, I attempt to make these as nutritious as I can…which means I’m incorporating both vegetables and fruit. Working off the base of the smoothie I made last week, I upped the game a little today and made a brand new smoothie concoction.
Below, find the recipe for the Blue(berry)-Green Protein Smoothie.
**FOR THE RECORD: I am using PlantFusion protein powder for these smoothies**
Recipe: Blue(berry)-Green Protein Smoothie (Gluten Free; Dairy Free)
2 cup spinach, fresh
1 package vegan protein powder (I used Plant Fusion Chocolate-Raspberry Flavor)
Place avocado, spinach, protein powder and milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla, powdered peanut butter, blueberries, and ice, and blend until thick. This is where having a good blender comes in and I love my Vitamix! Pour into glass or bowl and top with preferred toppings.
For the record, I topped mine off with 18 Rabbits Chocolate Banana Jr Granola Cereal (which I picked up at Kroger) and 1 tablespoon of NuttZo Organic Chocolate Power Fuel (which I got at Whole Foods, but is also available on Amazon). I also tossed more blueberries on top because they are freshly picked, local, and delicious. And why not? More antioxidants!
This basically tasted like a sweet tart, but with less of the tart so it wasn’t overwhelming. And I do highly recommend the toppings…especially if you make it into a smoothie bowl, like I do. I froze the bowl overnight to keep it chill on the way to the office.
Do you have a favorite fruit to throw into a smoothie? Tell me about it!!
It was inspired by an accidental find while strolling the streets of SoHo in Manhattan, NYC! My roommate and I were in NYC because I was running the NYC Half Marathon…but we were going to spend a few days there and not just fly in, race, and fly out. On one of our excursions that afternoon, we stumbled upon the Chobani Café there in SoHo.
We were curious…as we had never seen (or heard) of the Chobani Café before, but we were both fans of Chobani Greek Yogurt. So…we stepped inside to get an idea of what it was all about.
After looking at all the amazing creations being done up in the kitchen right in front of us, we took our own look at the menu and decided to get a half size bowl of one of their breakfast bowls and have that as a snack/lunch. We ended up deciding to try their PB&J Breakfast Bowl, which was created using Plain Chobani Yogurt, Creamy Peanut Butter, Fresh Red Grapes, Concord Gape Jelly, and topped off with Roasted Peanuts.
We devoured this…so, upon returning home…I decided this would be a perfect breakfast to have, especially on our gym mornings. So…I began to recreate it. With different versions, different flavors, and different peanut butter options. I’ve come to love my current incarnation of it, which uses powdered peanut butter.
So, upon request from a few people, I’m putting the recipe I have worked for over a year on (and will mention variations I have tried) to perfect over and over again.
Recipe: PB&J Breakfast Bowl
1 cup plain yogurt (Greek, vegan, etc…your choice)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy natural or powdered)
1/4 cup fruit sliced (grapes, strawberry, whole blueberries)
2-3 tablespoons jam/jelly (I prefer low sugar versions and match flavors to the fruit I use…grape with grape, strawberry with strawberry, etc.)
1-2 ounces roasted peanuts
Scoop 1 cup of yogurt into a bowl. If you are using powdered peanut butter (less fat & calories), add it here and stir well. Otherwise…hold off on adding the peanut butter for the time being.
Slice fruit in half and add to the bowl.
Top with jam. If you are using creamy peanut butter, drizzle it around the inside edge of the bowl.
Top with peanuts.
As I said, I have been making this for well over a year now, and have done so many different versions of it. It is an amazing way to start the day. I have used chocolate peanut butter with the strawberry jam and strawberries for a chocolate covered strawberry take and so on. So…get creative!! That yogurt is a blank palate…so feel free to play around with it.
Below, BTW, is the version I used to make with the natural creamy peanut butter.
However you decide to mix it up and fill it up…you’ll love this bowl. So go ahead…get creative!! And enjoy every bite.
I own a Vitamix. I have for a couple of years now. And yet…I really haven’t ever jumped on the smoothie bandwagon. Mostly because I’d rather eat my breakfast, rather than drink it.
And I don’t always think smoothies are that filling. So often (and maybe it’s just for show), a lot of Insta-Story smoothie makers show their polished off smoothie with the caption (or voice over) saying: “And still hungry.” And that’s been my problem with smoothies. When not balanced with the nutrients, I find myself hungry soon after polishing one off.
But that was not the case yesterday when, for breakfast after my 6 mile speed work run, followed by a 1 hour spin class, I whipped up a GREEN smoothie (of all things, I went for the green smoothie) to have for breakfast.
I have done green smoothies in the past and disliked most of them. They tasted too much like…grass.
But not this one. And this has the added benefit of being free of added sugars and containing amazing healthy fats, as well as being full of protein and fiber that will, in fact, leave you feeling fuller longer. And the flavor…it’s like eating a bowl of Mint Chip Ice cream (well…if you do the add-ons, as I do).
Sharing the recipe with you below, adapted from one I found online at Sweetleaf.com!
Recipe: Minty Green Protein Smoothie (Gluten Free; Dairy Free)
2 cup spinach, fresh
1 package vegan protein powder (I used Plant Fusion Natural Flavor)
Place avocado, spinach, protein powder and milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts, and ice, and blend until thick. Pour into glass or bowl and top with preferred toppings.
For the record, I topped mine off with Love Grown Foods Cocoa Goodness Oat Clusters and 1 tablespoon of Freedom Foods Smudge, both of which are available at Kroger.
So, I think I’ll take back what I’ve been saying about smoothies not being filling or tasting good (especially when green). Can’t wait to make this one again.
Do you have any filling, healthy smoothie recipes? Share with me!! Comment below.
Place: Joe Huber’s Family Farm & Restaurant, Starlight, Indiana
Date: June 3, 2017
There is something happening this year…something with race distance. Very few of them have actually been correct this year. For real. My two 5Ks this year have both been short (Throo the Zoo was 2.98 miles and the Anthem (sorry, friends…a short course does not a PR make) was 2.96 miles), but my 10Ks have all been measured properly.
Because the Barnyard Dash 10K…was just slightly short. Slightly. As in I crossed the finish line at 6.14 miles. So, closer to the actual distance than the 5Ks this year…but not an exact measure. For the third time in my local racing this year.
It is frustrating. Although I’m giving it a pass this time around because I’m about to let you in on a little secret…
I registered. I wore a bib. I toed the line with everyone else. I ran the course. I battled the heat. I hit the hills. I walked two water stops (yep…I did!)…because while this was a race, I had a longer run on the table and I needed to conserve my energy for that. So, yes…I ran the Barnyard Dash 10K, but I wasn’t doing it to set any new PR or place in my age division. I was doing it to break up mileage and enjoy some of it with a group of people on a (mostly) closed course.
I love helping my friends…which is why I am completely serious when I say that I will run with anyone. I can back off my pace anytime if it means company for the haul. And, with the myriad of injuries I’ve had the past two years…and those that still linger every now and again…backing off my pace while training is not just something I say I’m going to do…I actually do it.
My friend, Matthew, was needing a 19 miler this particular Saturday. We decided to meet at Huber’s early so we could get a couple in before the race…then run (not race) the 10K…and then finish off the remaining miles after the race. It was going to get warm pretty fast that day, so if we could do some before the 8 am race start, we were going to do so. We managed to get in 2 miles before the race as we both had to go get our bibs and timing chips to tie onto our shoes. The morning temps were humid, but I was still chilled (my body temps are always so weird), so I decided against just doing the bra top (in addition to my own dislike of how my core and body currently look) due to the fact that I was still cold. But that didn’t last long. Nope. Not at all.
I ran to use the (flushing) bathrooms just prior to the race. There was a line. Of course. So, I stood in it patiently, listening to the announcer give the minutes that remained before the race. As I moved up in line, I spotted Melissa at the hand towels and gave her a wave. She said she’ d catch me outside. And that happened…because Cathy waved her down and had her stand there. HA! We took a picture and then made the trek to the start line together. Matthew had already lined up…so I gave Melissa a hug, wished her luck, and went to go find Matt. We had both decided to “jog” this race and were going to pretty much stick together. He waved me down, having lined up with our friend Dennis (Mister Fly & Die himself!), who said that he was just going to “jog ” this one as well. So…we set off. Dennis pulled ahead immediately, and Matt and I settled into a comfortable pace that allowed him to point out landmarks, homes, and tell some great stories…as this was the area he grew up in. Nothing like a running guided tour. It was great.
This race can be really, really deceiving if you’ve never run it before. I had not; however, Matthew has multiple times. So, with the small rollers to start us off, within the first mile, you get this amazing downhill that lasts for a good portion of those first 2 miles. But after that is where the challenge and difficulty really start to rear their ugly heads.
As many of us know…most downhills lead to uphills, and the one that we meet on St. John’s Road was no exception. It is one of those hills that you think you can see the top, and then it just keeps going. In this case, it turns a corner…onto Rake Road…and continues to climb. You do eventually get a small downhill only to be sent back up a hill. And the remaining 3 miles play out like that…rolling up and down. And in the heat, those uphills seem even more brutal, let me tell you!
At the Mile 3 water stop, I gladly accepted a little mini bottle of water. I cracked it while slowing my pace to an actual jog and took a drink. The rest of it went straight over my head. It felt amazing and, as it usually does, rejuvenated me. Dennis was walking this water stop and I paused long enough to set the bottle down on the side of the road (we were beyond where people were picking up trash at that point and I didn’t want to just toss it aside never to be seen again) and Matthew and I started to pick it up again, just as Dennis did. And we never quite got ahead of him there. Between miles 3 and 4…I did get slightly ahead of Matthew. My pace felt good though…so I let it hold for the time.
Cathy had wandered down to the intersection near Mile 4, and was cheering and shouting for everyone. I heard her tell Matt to hurry up and catch me. I knew he was right behind me. I was just taking my time…and feeling good.
The other water stop was at Mile 5…and I snagged another bottle of water to perform the same actions as with the first – crack it open and take a sip before pouring it over my head. The only difference was…I stopped to walk this one this time. Once the bottle was empty and I placed it in a box that a volunteer was holding, I picked it up again…and passed Dennis in the process. I was only a mile from being done and still felt decent enough. But this is where we hit the elusive Hill Road that I mention every time I run the Strawberry Festival (Run for the Berries 5K) race. You know when the hill has a road named after it…it’s a freakin’ hill!
I was feeling the heat and humidity, but I still managed to power myself up the steep hill and breathed a sigh of relief as my legs found some level ground and had to rework how to run on it. You know you’ve run hills when your legs get confused by flat road. From there, it was just a matter of turning a corner and then bringing it home.
The mileage almost caught up to itself. But, I made the turn back into Huber’s Family Farm and immediately was greeted by the smell of fried food. I almost threw up. But I swallowed hard, attempted to breathe without breathing, and ran it in to the finish line! Only a short distance behind me was Dennis and then Matthew.
We snagged some water and ducked in out of the sun for a moment. There was an amazing spread of goods waiting for runners. Mandarin oranges, strawberries, bagels (with either cream cheese or peanut butter), bananas…and the fountain machines were open to runners as well. I snagged an orange and some strawberries, downed more water, and then went to use the bathroom. Matthew and I still had miles to go before we could call it done. Cathy passed me my fuel belt and went back out to cheer on Melissa and Paul.
Matthew and I decided to be those people who run the course backwards. At least the last part of it. Matthew, as I mentioned, grew up in Starlight, Indiana, and I was in for the tour of a lifetime. We turned back onto Hill Road, and ran into Howard, Melissa, Paul and Terry. All the peeps I didn’t get to see back at the finish line. Cathy said she and Laura cheered in Melissa and Paul and that’s pretty damn awesome.
Cathy was invited to hang for the awards and Matthew and I did the rest of our run. It was a humid day and we were on the hills of Starlight. There is no shoulder on these roads and a TON of blind curves. So, we took our time for our safety and for training (you don’t do long runs at your race pace!) and had a lot of fun as we talked and I was given the stories and grand tour of the area. The miles flew by. And just as we rounded back into Huber’s Family Farm…the awards were just letting out.
Apparently the guy who gives out the awards in quite the talker. And, we spotted Dennis, Tammy, Dean, Howard and Terry, all with awards. And Dennis mentioned that I had gotten one too.
That shocked me. Because I wasn’t even trying in this one. No expectations. Nothing. I came in 2nd in my age group. I came in 10 minutes slower than the person who took first. That would be April Woo. I’m never winning my age group this year, LOL!
The award was this really cool mason jar mug. Apparently, when I was announced, I was called up as, “Our very own Wonder Woman, Karen Brady!” I love my running community. They just know. Even when I am not dressed as Wonder Woman…they know! And I love that. Cathy and Melissa shot up to go accept my award and informed them that I was out finishing up a good chunk of mileage…to which they said, “That sounds about right.”
After Matthew and I rounded out our mileage in the parking lot, Cathy and I joined Melissa and Paul at Huber’s Winery. No wine, but I got a plain baked potato for lunch and downed a big chunk of water. I also trained out of my sweaty running clothes so I almost felt human again. HA! Afterwards, we bought 2 gallons worth of local, fresh strawberries. And that was just the start of the weekend.
So…the official results of the Barnyard Dash 10K are that I finished in 48:48.,,in heat and on massive hills. Without even putting effort into it. I was only 8 seconds off of this year’s Rodes City Run (which I wasn’t racing either…but that’s mostly flat…so this is a win!) There is something very relaxing and calming about running in a race without competing. Seriously! I was 56/181 finishers overall. I was the 14/91 for women finishers. And I was 2/14 in my age division. This was totally unexpected. I knew this race was brutal with the hills and heat (it’s usually either raining or hot, apparently)…but now I know just how much. I was happy to round off the day with a little more in the tank to get the rest of the miles in. I might revisit this one next year and race it for real.
This was it. This was the terminus of my job as a 2016-2017 #KDFMarathon/miniMarathon Race Ambassador. And it was race day. RACE DAY!! I love race day!
And, trust me, it took me a lot of sweat and tears to be able to get to that start line. Because if you had asked me in January, when my hip flexor froze up, if I would have been able to run it…I wouldn’t have been too sure. As it was, I had to drop from the full to the half…so there was that.
I wanted to be stubborn and just do it. I’m not a newbie to marathons. I have run 11 of them total, but I also haven’t really been able to train for one since I ran the Charleston Marathon in January 2015. Boston was a bust. And Kauai…well…it didn’t exactly boost my self-esteem and “can-do” marathon mentality.
I wasn’t ready for a full. Two months of training lost to a paralyzed hip flexor…and a very cautious and slow build-up in mileage put me at my first double digit run (10 miles) exactly one month before race day. To press on and do the full would have been a fool’s errand.
I’ve learned to be a little more patient with myself and allow myself to heal and train right. So, the miniMarathon it was. You win some…you lose some. I did manage to run most of the Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Marathon on Sunday. It was steamy and humid…and for the last 5 miles, I was run/walking. It was okay. These days I worry more about running smart than that finish time. When it’s hot and the race is flagged (and…for the record, both the Dark Side Half & KDF were yellow flagged due to humidity)…you just run it the best you can without putting yourself at risk for heatstroke or worse.
My second half marathon in the same week was starting off well. I only ran one time in between to two races. I didn’t need more. Wednesday morning, I hit up 4 very easy miles and called it a week. And on Thursday, I left work early to meet up with Jack, Paul and Amy (3 others in my Ambassador family) to volunteer at the expo as a greeter. I convinced quite a lot of my friends to come to the expo that day…both local and from out of town. And it was hopping! It was great seeing everyone and helping people out when they had questions. I was feeling good and confident. And being able to hang with other ambassadors and just be relaxed and help others relax…and drink free wine samples…it was actually what I needed. I was feeling good.
Friday I spent most of the day sitting at work…which is not something I normally do, but my coach had decided to have me aim for a 1:40 half on Saturday, so I really wanted to do right by my legs and my body. And, that evening, I went to the Galt House and picked up fellow Marathon Maniac, and good friend, Michael, to have a pre-race dinner. Normally, I would just cook an Annie May’s Sweet Café gluten-free/vegan pizza at home and call it a day, but I had wanted to meet up with Michael. We ended up at North End Cafe. He had the Lemonade Blueberry Pancakes, and I got the Curry Sauté with Tofu for dinner. As I have been to races where safe gluten-free pizza isn’t always readily available, I have played around some with my night before meal ritual. But nothing works like gluten-free pizza.
After we dropped Michael back off at the hotel and went home, I finished making up the “Finish Line Lemon Blossoms” for my friends. After my PT exercises and some foam rolling…I called it a night. I set my traditional 2 alarms for the race, but didn’t bother to get up in enough time to squeeze in my PT stuff…because it was going to be storming or raining in the morning. I figured I skipped them at Disney…I could supplement my walk to the start line for the warmups and I’d be ready to go.
And at 5 am…the 7:30 am start was delayed. For half an hour.
This definitely made the morning slightly easier. I was already dressed and had my hair up and everything, so I got to sit and relax a little longer…savor my breakfast…that sort of thing. Dread the humidity. Because…it was humid. And the sun wasn’t even up yet. In fact, the rain only served to make it steamier. I was having anxiety over the humidity the night before, texting my coach about my push for a 1:40 and how the humidity might slaughter that attempt…especially since I was in my “uniform” of the Ambassador shirt (which had sleeves). I’m not a fan of racing in sleeves unless it’s cold. When it’s hot…it’s a simple bra top or a tank. So this was going to be a new experience too. I figured if it got too unbearable, I could shed the shirt and then attempt to wriggle back into it before the finish line.
So…delay #1 was in the works.
The official KDFMarathon Ambassador photo was going to now be taken at 7:30…so we headed that way and actually got down to Slugger Field (and the parking lot) at around 7 a.m. This gave me time for one of my efficient and essential power naps!! I got my nap on good!! With about 10 minutes to go, I got a text from my running partner, Matthew, saying that he was at the statue in front of Slugger Field, so I got up and headed that way.
A few more ambassadors were gathered, but the whole team wasn’t there yet. This has been a thing in all these months. Races and such, we never quite managed to get everyone in a photo together. #goals
Anyway…no sooner had the photos been taken, I snagged my pre-race fuel (a simple banana!) and downed it while talking to Matthew, Natalie, and my fellow Ambassadors, who were hanging for a moment.
And then…another delay.
Race start was now set for 8:30. And I had now eaten my banana a whole hour before the start, rather than half an hour. Roll with it. I wasn’t planning on exerting myself before the race so I figured I’d be fine. We all started to make our way toward the corrals regardless (it wasn’t even raining!), when we were told to take cover. My group ducked under the cover of the Old National Bank near the race start with a crowd of other runners and passed the time just chatting away. Even my running coach and her crew joined us under there. It was sort of a nervous energy, but a positive energy at that point.
Cathy left shortly after we got up there, because she likes getting a good spot at the start line and the finish line. So, she gathered up my rain jacket (which had been keeping Natalie warm) and went to go find her spot, telling me she’d be on the right at the start and on the left at the finish.
With the 8:30 a.m. start time coming up, we opted to head out of the shelter to get to the corrals. And no sooner had we stepped out from under the bank building and down the steps…
Delay #3. Race start was now 9:00 a.m.
My group and I decided we would duck into the bank building and rest our legs by sitting on the floor there instead of standing around outside. It was more comfortable out of the humidity, regardless. With race start happening soon, we decided to make a last ditch move for the port-a-potties for those who needed them. I didn’t. I drank a ton of water the day before, but on race morning, I keep it light so I don’t have to pee. I did tell my friends that I would hold their stuff for them though. As we were heading out, the doors to the bank building seemed to be giving people some trouble. We stepped out though for our mission.
On the way to the toilets, my amazing friend, Kelsie, spotted me. Matthew and I gave her a hug and we stood around and talked for a brief moment. Then we went on so I could hold gear. I should mention that my fellow Ambassador and friend, Tonya, had gone on ahead of us too. I had her plastic bag for race start should rain happen. But we still had NO rain. Just delays. After everyone cycled through, we started back toward the bank for a few more moments of sitting down and resting before…hopefully, a real start.
And this is where we discover that the people (Tonya was now included) that were inside the bank building were now TRAPPED inside the bank building. Apparently, the Old National Bank’s doors were timed to lock at a certain time. And…guess what…they were locked. Runners were trapped inside with 15 or so minutes to go before the race start. I walked up to the window and Tonya was front-and-center.
Tonya had texted my phone, which Cathy had at this point, so Cathy sprang into action when the S.O.S. came through, alerting some officers, who wrangled up fire department and security to, hopefully, get the runners out. With like…only 10 minutes to spare…this happened. Thank goodness.
So…with no further delays and an announcement being made that 9:00 a.m. was go-time for real…everyone started to get to their corrals. Matthew and I ducked into Corral C to start making our way forward to A. We ducked under rope flags and everything to move forward in our corral. I spotted Greg, from Frankfort, Kentucky, who was pacing the 1:50 half marathon group. I said hi and he asked if I was running with him because he thought I was up in Tim’s group (that would be the 1:40 group). I said that Linda (our coach) had said that all plans were out the window with the delays and to just go have fun, but I was moving up.
And we did. Almost to the front. Like…we were behind the elite line. We saw elite bibs. Elite bibs have no corral letter on them.
Matthew and I decided we were out of our league up there and he spotted Tim’s pacing group…so we decided to move back. A bit.
And we found Kelsie again. So…this was perfect. I was starting the race off with friends…it was going to be a good time. Despite the fact that I was now starving. And it was humid.
Did I mention that I was starving?
I had fueled for an 8 a.m. start. I think my corral (Corral A) went off at 9:15 a.m. That banana was LONG gone. And I didn’t want to hit up my mid-race nutrition, because I needed that after Mile 6. I looked at Matthew and Kelsie and I said…”AND…now I’m starving.” They were too.
My coach was right…everything was a mess now…it was best just to go and have some fun.
Matthew and I decided we would attempt to at least keep Tim (remember…that’s the 1:40 pacer) in our sites. The starting gun went off…and the three of us took off. I don’t know where we dropped Kelsie, but she was doing this race right. No watch. No goals save to finish. I want to do that more. Just run how I feel and for fun. What a freeing feeling that has to be!
Matthew and I pounded out the first four miles pretty much together. The rain poured down on us shortly after the start and I looked at him and said, “We SO would have been done by now!” Soaked from humidity, rain, and exertion, we pressed on. Matthew commented that he felt like he couldn’t catch his breath. The air was heavy with humidity, so I totally knew how he felt.
I lost him after a turn. I thought he might have gone on ahead.
As we hit Mile 5…I did 2 things. I slowed for a moment to pull the KDF Marathon Race Ambassador shirt off so I could cool down. This happened just as I heard, “There’s Karen.” So I waived, tucked my Ambassador shirt into my fuel belt…and then I fueled. A whole mile early. Because my legs were starting to resist my determination to keep going. Everything was a cluster now.
Tim and the rest of the 1:40 group were still in site…but not really within distance to catch now. And my body was not feeling the pace. I told myself to hang on through Churchill Downs. So…for at least 3 more miles. I could suffer for that long, right?
I managed. My pace dropped little-by-little until I rounded the corner at the split…hit Mile 9…and took a walk at the water station. I carry my own water with me on half marathons and marathons. Usually if it’s a double-digit run, I have water and fuel with me. I didn’t care. I hit that water stop, I slowed. I took a cup from a lovely volunteer. I took a sip. The rest went on over my head. It cooled me down…and I made myself start running again.
From here on out…it was down to running smart…not running fast. Since any attempts to hit a certain time goal went away with the 90 minute delays…now it was just about crossing that finish line. I didn’t care how long it took me…I was down to the last 5 miles regardless. I managed to make water stops the rest of the way toward the finish…even when I said I would keep running and no more walking…if I needed to throw water over my head…I did it. And, as I found out in Disney, that really works.
It did, however, work better at Disney…when I wasn’t under-fueled and also dying from the humidity. At about Mile 11, I had caught up to Pete, a guy who ran with Matthew and I a couple of times before the Norton Sports Health Training Program kicked in and before I was injured. I had to slow again for one last shower of water, so he got too far ahead of me again. I had to slow to walk and water myself for about 3 more times before I knew that finish line was close. This was my Dark Side Half Marathon all over again. But worse. My splits were hitting in the 8’s…which I never touched (despite walk breaks) at Disney.
But I am nothing if not persistent.
I could taste that finish line. And it wasn’t far. I could hear the announcer. I could see Slugger Field. That meant…it was just around the corner.
And there it was…the turn!!
I never put the Ambassador shirt back on. I had it tucked in my belt…but to stop to wriggle back into it might mean I wouldn’t start again.
I took the turn. And while I didn’t feel like moving any faster, I attempted to pick up my pace. That finish line was in site…all I had to do was run over it. I focused on that line alone. I heard Cathy screaming on the sideline…and I ran down the stretch and passed under the arch.
I was…done. I also felt like crap.
But Dan spotted me at the finish line and called out my name over the bullhorn. HA!
I continued down the line, slowly, trying to catch my breath and cool down. The medals were right ahead, so as I strolled that way, Cathy caught up to me at the fence. She told me my official finish time, which I couldn’t believe, given how slow my pace had gotten as the morning went on and the miles progressed. We attempted to formulate a meeting place after I would go through the official finish photo area and the place where they store food and chocolate milk and Powerade. And as we were discussing…Paul from the Ambassadors came in. Then another running partner of mine, Ron, was in. And then…Matthew. I hadn’t moved except to go and congratulate Paul. I found Ron. And Matthew somehow slipped by me, but Cathy found him and he was at the fence when I returned.
We all managed to make our way to the runner reunion area, grabbing snacks along the way. As I emerged…with banana and chips (I have never seen Cathy so happy to see a bag of chips in my hand), I actually reconnected with Kelsie…who gave that finish line her famous kick and brought it in strong. I really need her to teach me where she finds that late energy because I’m usually dying at the finish line. She needed to head out, so after a photo, she left and Ron went to claim his free beer. Cathy told me to take my phone and see if I could catch more of the 30 people I was tracking while she went to get the bags out of the car that had my clothes to change into and a cooler with food and a big bottle of water. Tonya came in but texted to say she was in medical. And Amy came in. I never found her in the crowd. I did find former co-workers from IU Southeast, Dana & Graham, after they finished. So that was cool!
Cathy and I were camped out under the overpass for the rest of the day. When my phone told me one of my people were in…I’d attempt to go find them. I mostly succeeded. I only missed a few. I caught Natalie, who I really wanted to find above all, as it was her first marathon, and she was having Siri hit me up for motivation as she made her way to that finish line. She did great! I also did distribute Lemon Blossoms. They were very well received. My friend Jack even picked me up when I handed him a whole container. And he had just run a marathon.
I thought everyone was in at that point…but I was wrong. But that is a long, complicated, and amazing story all its own.
So, the official results of the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon are that I finished in 1:43:12. That, mind you, is almost exactly 2 minutes slower than my time last year. MEH! That being said, I wasn’t expecting to hit 1:43 at all after the walking began, so I’ll gladly take this. Given the conditions, I’m beyond happy with this result. I was 403/8737 finishers overall. I was 85/5010 female finishers. And I was 15/794 finishers in my division. Given that I had just raced a humid half marathon on Sunday…walked Disney World the rest of Sunday and all of Monday…traveled home…worked overtime…worked the expo…and then ran again in the humidity…I exceeded all expectations I had. Honestly. There were fewer runners this year (by about 2000) in the mini…but my stats improved on every single category…despite running slower. I count that as a win too!
Here’s my takeaway…
I came into this event at first meeting with a group of strangers at the KDF Marathon Headquarters. I found a great group of supportive, amazing, inspiring people who are like family to me now. So many friendships were formed in this year’s KDF Ambassador group. I was so fortunate to have been able to be a part of it. I may not have signed up the most people for the race, but I went to events…I promoted the race…I even went to the training runs (even on the coldest mornings) when I couldn’t run and encouraged others…cheered…high fived…and walked. The marathon slipped away when my training had to wait almost 3 months to even start.
Dropping to the mini was hard…but it was the smartest decision I could have made. I would never have survived the full after a humid Florida race series and the 90 minute delays. With nutrition and scheduling off…this was a blessing in disguise.
The delays have taught me a lot about being a bit more prepared for whatever race morning might throw my way.
I saw so many people finish. I helped a few out when they needed help. I hugged so many of my sweaty friends. I saw people set goals…and whether they crushed them or fell short…they completed what the started. And that, friends, is what the spirit of race day is all about.
My time as a KDF Marathon Ambassador is coming to a close, but the memories, friends, emotions, and moments that I now carry with me…those will last a lifetime.
Welcome to the second (and, sadly, my last) race of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running. The Rodes City Run 10K! I had managed to get the okay from my physical therapist to boost myself up to 6 miles 2 weeks following the Anthem 4.7K (HAHA. I’m still bitter). So, the weekend in between I made sure to get in 5 easy miles at the Falls of the Ohio with the Norton Sports Health Training Group. All the high-fives I got from my friends and strangers that day pretty much made it one of my most epic runs ever.
I don’t think I stopped smiling. And…as we all know from photos…I have a big smile!
So, with permission to tackle Rodes as long as I took it easy and didn’t “pull an Anthem” and run it really fast, I immediately contacted my training partner, Matthew, and talked him into joining me with the intention that he would help keep my pace in check. He agreed, and we signed up (I got in before the discount deadline). Locked in. Ready to run.
My plan for this run was to keep it between an 8:20-8:40 pace. Matthew figured we’d average more on the 8:40 scheme of things…and I was okay with that. Keep in mind…it is very hard for me to participate in a race and NOT actually race it. But…remember…the goal is thinking long-term and I have some stuff coming up in the future that I’d like to be in peak condition for.
We made plans to meet up at the McDonalds on W Broadway (where the #KDFMarathon Ambassadors were meeting for the group photo(s)). And, just like that…Rodes was a go to RUN…NOT RACE.
So, on Friday, I ate an early dinner at work (the closest thing I had to pizza was my Mama Mia Quinoa) before heading over the river to do a couple of things…but first and foremost…I was picking up my race packet. I was actually honored (and freaked out) to be the recipient of one of the seeded bibs in the top 200…which gives you the option of starting near the front of the race itself. Like…elite-type-shit. I was BIB 43. Really, they do base this seeding off of not just race times, but also the times you have completed the Rodes City Run in the past. I’ve done this race 3 times prior to this one, I believe. So, don’t go thinking I’ve actually achieved some overnight elite status. It’s a nice compliment and benefit that the race offers, and if I were in better shape and condition this year going into it, I might have even risked the closer-to-the-start-line start.
I did a little cooking that night before running through my PT exercises and stretches, foam rolling, and calling it a night. I had to get up fairly early to fit in all the necessary PT stuff the day of the race (it honestly takes close to 2 hours sometimes, but it’s necessary to keep me out there and I try not to whine or complain about it…too much). The weather was crazy that day. It was really warm out when I went to do my dynamic warmup and stretches. I had been expecting cooler temps and overdressed. I was dying. But I didn’t have much time to mess around with, so I just sweat it out and went inside to change into clothes for the race. I opted for a short sleeve shirt with shorts instead of capris. And since my running shorts are a bit unflattering at the moment…I tossed on one of my fun Sparkle Skirts as well. Hey…since my KDF Race Ambassador shirt is part of the uniform right now, I work around that. And it’s not my normal bright, vibrant colors. Sparkle Skirts help with this. HA!
I ate a light breakfast, grabbed a banana to eat 30 minutes before the race, packed up clothes to change into, and tossed on a pair of arm-warmers into Cathy’s race backpack…just in case. It was so warm out when I was warming up, I figured I wouldn’t need them. I threw on a hoodie and we headed down to the car.
SO glad that I opted for the hoodie. My mild morning and turned a bit chilly and with the wind that kicked up…it was near the point of me being cold. Already. I even commented that I should go back up and put the capris back on, but there simply wasn’t enough time for that. I was locked into the shorts.
We made the ride over to Louisville and managed to easily get parked near The Brown Hotel. Easy in and easy parking on a ramp. We backed in to make our exit plan a bit easier to manage too. But…we were about 20 minutes early and I wasn’t about to get out in the cold now and wait around. So, I did what I love to do on race mornings…
I took a nap.
This is not an exaggeration or a joke. I find these little power naps, pre-race, to be just what this body needs at times. So, I had the time and took full advantage. Until the 7:40 am meetup time was approaching and I knew I needed to eat my banana and get to the meeting spot. As I had a big mug of tea before breakfast that morning, I made a quick (and unusual because…princess) stop at the port-o-potties just outside the parking garage before continuing on to the McDonald’s meeting spot.
Just as the sign was in view, I received a text from Leah, one of my fellow ambassadors. She said she couldn’t find anyone else and I told her I was like…1 minute away. I found her…then Matthew found me…and then Melissa (let’s face it…we all know Melissa now!) texted to say that she and Paul were parking and on the way and they’d walk as fast as they could. This was probably the least-organized meet-up we’d had this entire time…and it shows by the smattering of photos of random KDF Marathon Ambassadors pre-race. I managed to get into the grouping of Chris, Melissa, and Leah. So…we have that.
Race start was inching closer and Matthew and I wanted to go find a spot to line up. BTW…funniest bit of this entire thing was that Matthew registered late (it’s a tradition of sorts, I guess, HA!) and was issued a WALKER big. So…he went to packet pickup and they sent him over to services to get it fixed and their “fix” was simply ripping the green sticker that said WALKER off of it. I joked that with me having to dial it back and wearing a seeded bib…and him in a WALKER big…we’re a complete mess and will confuse the hell out of them. Seriously…I this amused me WAY too much. We maneuvered through the sea of people to a spot near the middle of the front of the middle-of-the-pack group (with a smattering of walkers). No sooner had we done that…the whistle sounded (we barely heard it) and the wheelchair racers were off. The caution tape was rolled up and the runners moved ahead.
And soon…we were joining them.
We started off at a really easy pace. I pointed out Cathy ahead waiving the sign and gave a wave as we passed. The photographers captured me pointing. No joke. And then we just sort of settled in. I think at one point, Matthew asked, “Am I holding your pace back too much?” And I replied with…”Let’s pick it up a little.”
This is how the rest of it played out…
Just as we’re starting through our first mile, Matthew (aka: Eagle Eyes), spotted our friend Michael, and gave a shout-out. Michael pointed out that his wife, Laura, was just ahead in the pink and white and we should say HI. So, we picked it up and scooted up there. Laura was focused and we kept our greetings short before continuing on. The pace felt good to me…and as we were moving through the pack of runners, Matthew said, “I think that’s Tammy’s ponytail.” Sure enough…Tammy was just ahead…so we pushed up to say hey to her. She pointed out that we were definitely above the pace I had said I told my physical therapist I would run Rodes in…
…And she was right. As we moved ahead we hit Mile 1 and the digital clock said 7:54 at the mile. We decided to ease back. We thought. Well, I mean we did ease back in theory. We slacked up a bit, but when people are running with you in a giant mass, you sort of just…go with the flow. When talking became hard, Matthew would remind me that we needed to ease off the gas…and we did…until we didn’t any longer. Mile 2 was even faster than Mile 1…averaging around a 7:49 pace. I didn’t realize this at the time though. Matthew and I were just focusing on the long road ahead of us at this point. Four more to go…and thankfully most of this mile leading to 3…was a nice downhill.
I love downhill. It is my favorite speed. HA! I felt like I had backed off again, and that was what I was supposed to be doing, so…that’s good, right? I cruised down the hills and tried not to push myself too much on the inclines. After all, I had just been cleared to start in on hills again. So…there was that. But, it’s like I said…it’s hard for me not to race when I’m in a race. I go into these things with the mindset of having fun. I don’t ever set time goals; nor do I look at my pace or my watch.
But when we hit the marker for Mile 3, I glanced down and said, “Um…we just did a 7:28 mile.”
And so…we truly made an effort to back it down once more. And by that I mean we slowed it down. We had some nice climbs, which I said were downhill at one point and that had Matthew teasing me about my directional skills for the rest of that mile. But, it did feel like a downhill to me. We might have been going up, but my effort wasn’t. I felt relaxed, and it felt EASY!
The remainder of the race we actually averaged a 7:52 for miles 4-6. As we came back onto Broadway to run back to the finish line, And it was just shortly after this turn, where I can see, all the way in the distance, the inflatable that arched over the finish line…that I hear from behind me…
“Well, you don’t look like you’re limping.”
Totally busted on my speedy 10K that was not supposed to be this speedy. It was my physical therapist. He came up beside me. I introduced him to Matthew. He asked me if the hip was feeling good. I told him I had no problems. He fist-bumped me…and ran on ahead.
I just about died. What is the likelihood of that happening…for real? We hit Mile 6 and were in are less-than-quarter-mile finish. So, we picked it up a little and crossed the finish line in under 50 minutes. Slower than last year. Slower than the year I had bronchitis. But…I would like to think, if I hadn’t kept backing off the pace, I could have had a great run there. Not a PR…it’s going to take a miracle to break that…but I’d like to better my Rodes time in the near future.
Overall…I felt good before the race…I felt fantastic during the race…and I felt amazing after the race. There are so many times where I feel like I’ve lost speed or fitness…and then something like this happens, where I don’t come near a PR…but I feel good the entire time, and I feel like I could give more…but under orders to dial it back…and I just surprise myself and realize maybe I haven’t lost that much after all.
So…the official results of the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 48:40. Not even attempting to set a PR…so not even comparing. Just loving how easy this speed felt for me and how I finished with fuel in the tank. I’m getting it back This race helped prove that. I was 421/4246 finishers overall. I was the 75/2391 for women finishers. And I was 17/358 in my age division. I’m really happy with this. Even more so because I know what I am capable of and that I am actually capable of more. I am so glad that I decided to run this race. Even if my initial intention was to keep it between a 8:20-8:40 pace, and in the end…I averaged around a 7:50. I know that part of what helped me out was having a friend running with me, to keep me focused on anything other than the race itself. This race made me feel confident again. It was just what I needed.
My friend and fellow ambassador, Amy, after the race. We were totally twinning!
Matthew and I after we finished Rodes City Run 10K
Maybe next year I can aim for a goal to beat my best Rodes City Run 10K time. Or, if I’m feeling really good about things…try to set that new 10K PR. But for now, I’ll relish the fact that I’m back…and I’m getting stronger.
Following the race, Cathy and I had every intention of getting coffee and eating protein bars for breakfast…but we detoured and hit up North End Cafe where I enjoyed coffee, a gluten-free pancake and a side of fruit. Then…we got macarons from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe.
“That’s what a comeback is. You have a starting point and you build strength and momentum from there. Stay the course…remain patient. Focus on small steps that are constantly forward.”
Comebacks are hard.
Comebacks are very hard. And I have been building up to this one for a long, long time now. A very long time. Over a year kind of time. SO…much time. Sometimes…it has gone very well. Sometimes…it has gone all sorts of wrong. The winter months were painful. Rainy days are painful. Humidity has been soul-crushing and run-ruining. And, believe it or not, I discovered trying to stay safe during speed work by running on a treadmill…wasn’t so safe and actually ended up causing a bit of damage to my foot…right before this marathon.
You want to talk about a freak-out, panic-inducing, last few days before taking off for Hawaii. All sorts of visions of last year’s Hawaiian adventure with Bootsie…my boot I was put in for 8 weeks thanks to a stress fracture in my leg…that all started flashing through my mind. You want to talk about some physical and mental breakdowns…the whole build-up to this race has been one big emotional roller coaster. One I really, really needed to get off…and the sooner the better.
Thankfully, I have a fantastic podiatrist…and very understanding and encouraging friends in my life.
And despite all of the anxiety and problems…I made it. First to San Francisco. Then…to Hawaii. And Hurricane Lester took a turn back out to sea.
The race was on.
The pressure was on.
And I can’t even count how many times I had minor to major anxiety attacks in the days (despite being in Hawaii!) leading up to the race.
Like I said…comebacks are hard.
My adventure started, as it always does, with good friends and good support (non sports bra division). For the first few days I was in Hawaii, my friends and I were exploring O’ahu. We were stationed out of Honolulu, but we doing some serious exploring and shopping there. From the Dole Plantation to Waikiki Beach…we pretty much did it all. Oh, and we ate amazing food. I had pineapple, pretty much, at every meal. Fresh cut, amazing, pineapple. One from a roadside stand where a woman sliced it up while I waited. I was having a blast. We were on O’ahu until Saturday morning, when we caught an early flight over to Kauai.
Upon landing, we literally hit the ground running. After getting our luggage and our rental car, we piled in and began our adventure on Kauai. We had a few things to do before hitting up the expo. This involved coffee at my favorite coffee spot on Kauai (Ha Coffee…where I ate half a peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie and downed my favorite of their specialty signature drinks…The Bee Sting. SO good. Then we went to find Sweet Marie’s…a dedicated gluten free bakery because…we needed a gluten free cake of some sort to celebrate Jennifer’s birthday that night. The set-up was strange, and the fact that she is open only 2 days of the week (Saturday & Sunday) made this challenging…but we finally figured it all out and, after she was a little rude and snippy to us…we picked up one of her Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping. She got a little huffy at us for paying with cash (who does that??!!)…but we got our cake (it was about the size of a large muffin) and left to go check out the race expo.
Getting there was fun. We got to drive part of the course backwards and I made note of just how damn hilly it was going to be. That sort of kicked up the anxiety again. But as we got to the resort where the expo was being held, I had calmed down a little. A little.
The first thing I did at the expo was go to check out the list to get my bib number. One problem…
MY NAME WAS NOT ON THE LIST!!!
And this was even after I contacted the race prior to the trip to make sure that my deferral from last year was on their records and I was on the list to run. They told me I was. Apparently…I wasn’t. Frustrating…and did nothing to help calm the anxiety and nerves at this race. It took…awhile…but after talking to about 4 different people, they simply had me fill out a form and turn it in. They got me a blank bib, added me to the list…and I was ready to run.
After that…I was ready to shop. I had my Kauai Marathon reusable bag, which my friend Tanya really wanted. She even went to ask if she could purchase one, but they wouldn’t let her. As I have more than enough reusable grocery bags, I told her she could have mine. YAY! There was much happiness. What there wasn’t a lot of…was size small merchandise for the race itself. I had wanted a few of the rainbow race shirts…but they were out of the smaller sizes…at the start of the expo on Saturday morning. REALLY??!! I was starting to think I wasn’t going to purchase anything…but then I spotted this amazing backpack. And…it had to be mine. So…despite being way more than the shirts, that’s what I left with. And I was quite okay with that. Afterwards, I spotted Bart Yasso at a table at the expo and went over to say hello to him. Cathy told him to reassure me that I was going to be okay…and he did…quite a few times, and gave me numerous high fives and words of encouragement. I love Bart Yasso.
Soon after that…we left. We had to buy a few groceries and get a few more important things done…like checking into the resort and all that. We first stopped off at The Spouting Horn, where I thought I needed to put on some sunscreen…but we were ready to go check out the water. So, I said I would do it when we got back into the car. We spent a bit of time on the lookout, watching a blowhole spout a plume of sea water into the air. This waterspout occurs whenever waves are forced under the lava shelf and up through an opening in the rocky coast. The spout, sometimes, can shoot water as high as 50 feet into the air. It’s always amazing. We did need to grab some lunch, so we swung by the Living Foods Market. On the short journey there, I put on some sunscreen because I am prone to sunburn easily. And I finished up just as we hit the market. What I didn’t realize until later was…I forgot I had taken my Claddagh ring off and put it in my lap, so when I climbed out of the car to go into the market…it dropped. Deciding on a light lunch was not as easy as I thought as so much sounded so good. And…we were at the time where it could be breakfast or lunch and we were all having a hard time deciding on which way to go. After waiting a bit too long for breakfast, we settled on lunch. I got a small bowl of their Molokai Potato Salad, which is purple potatoes, coconut milk, green onion, and coconut flakes. And it was fantastic. Tawn got a poke bowl, Cathy got a BLT Sandwich, and Jennifer got the fish tacos. After lunch, we were off to check into the resort, hit up a couple of shops, and then buy some groceries. I was, after all, making something new (I know…nothing new on race day…but…I felt better about this than a pizza place)…Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. And we hit up the grocery stores hard. We got the tomato sauce, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, cheese, and even pepperoni (the other 3 are meat eaters) for the potatoes that night…along with waters and a few snacks to have on hand. And my banana for race morning. That is super important. And a bonus kabocha squash that we found so I could roast it up.
That night, after settling in at the resort, I started immediately in on roasting up the kabocha squash. Cutting it wasn’t too much of a hassle, but I realized we had no aluminum foil or any olive oil at the resort. I thought they might have that on hand…but I was wrong. So, I cooked without it. The squash cooked for about 30
minutes…and as it was cooking, I prepped the sweet potatoes. No olive oil meant seasoning the skins was a bit harder, but I did what I could. The moment the squash was out and plated, I turned up the oven and began to bake the potatoes. They were a bit larger…so I knew they would take about an hour to cook. In the meantime, we through in our trip playlist, danced around the resort, talked, and looked at photos from O’ahu and earlier in the day. It actually took a bit longer, but soon we were slicing them open, laying out the tomato sauce, the mushrooms, the cheese, and for the other three…pepperoni. Back into the oven for 10 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
And, finally, dinner was served. And it was delicious…and filling. But…there was still room for cake. And we had picked up candles and everything to make it special for Jenn. We were glad that the “cake” was actually more of a muffin because it was perfect once we split it 4 ways between us. And it was pretty good. Lighter than I expected though, so there is that. And it was good. It was. But Annie May’s Gluten Free Coffee Cake is WAY better. WAY! We were happy to have this though. And after staying up a little longer for showers and some talking, we turned in. We all knew an early, early morning awaited us.
Sleep didn’t come easy…but I managed a little.
Race morning arrived. Early. I had my first alarm set for 3 am so that I could get up and do my first round of preparations. I went back to sleep for another 45 minutes before getting up for the second time. This time it was to actually get dressed. I used the bathroom, got into my race gear, and nervously began milling about the room, not quite ready to duck out into the main room, where Tawn was milling about getting ready for the day. Cathy was up and moving, slowly, because it was 4 am. While she was changing and in the bathroom, I began the very, very, very tedious (but important) task of getting myself coated in sunscreen.
When in Hawaii…and a super fair-skinned, Irish girl…you lather up. You take a dip and swim in that stuff. You do whatever you can to keep your skin protected. Especially when you are already a skin cancer survivor, like me.
Cathy emerged eventually and helped me with the hard to reach areas on my back (after all…I was going to die in clothes, so it was a bra top race for me). She also had me sit down so she could actually attempt to get some sunscreen on my scalp. This was sort of awkward and left me looking, at first, a bit like a skunk, but at the end of the day…no sunburn on the scalp. And that, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing.
I threw a shirt on over my top after the sunscreen had had time to soak in…and then headed into the main room. Tawn and Jennifer were both there, in various states of readiness. I grabbed my water from the fridge and sought out my normal morning routine.
Thankfully, Cathy thought ahead while we were out hitting up grocery stores the night before…picking up a banana and a little individual serving of Cheerios for me to eat. I had my cheerios at the resort, standing in the kitchen, talking to Tawn as she put on her makeup. That was actually calming, because in my mind, I was about to have another anxiety attack. My heart was racing, my mind was racing faster, and my entire chest just wanted to explode. I wanted to burst out into tears.
But I didn’t.
Thanks to my friends.
I filled up my water bottles…2 with regular water and then 2 with my fuel (I am using Hammer at the moment…something I only had time to test out on an 8 mile run the weekend before…so I can’t report back on it quite yet). And then…after getting pinned up, we gathered up our stuff and we were, literally, off to the races.
It was just over a 30 minute drive from the resort in Kapa’a to Poipu (?) where the race started and ended. We didn’t really encounter much traffic, so this drive went very smoothly. In fact, we arrived with some time that Cathy actually pulled into the parking lot where I figured I had lost my Claddagh ring the day before…and all three of my friends got out with the flashlights on their iPhones and began searching. They came up empty handed though. Everyone got back into the car and we set out to find some parking…following cars to an area on the side of the road, just a short stroll from the start and finish line areas. We watched a truck next to us totally pull up far enough to block the sidewalk and spent some time ridiculing them from the comfort of our car. But…it was time.
And as much as I wanted to delay…I couldn’t. It was go-time.
I think I was shaking as I opened up the door and stepped out into the humid morning. It was already moist, the air heavy and wet. Ugh. I took in a shaky, but deep breath, and told myself, once again, to not freak out or panic. It was easier said than done, because I was falling apart on the inside. The last memory I have of a marathon was Boston 2015…and it did not go well for me. And it was replaying…every painful, horrible step…every moment that I had to walk…all of it…right there…fresh in my mind. And it was MESSING with me.
The four of us began the trek toward the starting area. Which, we found very easily, following not just the announcement sounds, but also the other runners heading in that direction. We crossed the road right where the start line was corralled off and took a couple of quick photos. And…just like that…it was time for me to get to the staging area and them to go find a spot for the start of the race. They all gave me hugs. I cried…wiped my eyes…handed over my shirt…and walked away…nervously…into the staging area. It was already 5:30 am…so I had to get my banana eaten so I wouldn’t be regretting putting it off until later. So, as I walked, I noshed, slowly, on the banana. I noticed very few marathon bibs…much of the over 2000 people who run these races do the half marathon option.
These…are the smart people.
These people are brilliant. These people must have looked at the elevation chart before signing up. I had an extra year…and I still didn’t do this up until it became clear that…yes…I could run. And yes…I would run.
I tossed my banana peel in the garbage and went to get in line for the bathroom. I had already used it 3 times at the resort…but I was nervous…and needed to pee. Again. I’m like an excitable puppy in that regard. It’s a curse. The lines moved relatively quickly though, and I managed to get one where the person coming out didn’t start with…”Just warning you…this one is pretty full.” Since I hate using port-o-potties anyway, this was a blessing in disguise.
Afterward…I saw everyone moving away from this staging area, so I grabbed a small tray of watermelon (I know…nothing new on race day, but it was humid enough that I was feeling the dehydrating effects already) and ate it. Then…I stepped up to the crowd waiting to enter the start area.
The announcer, Ron Wiley, from the local (and best) radio station there in Kauai, KONG, was doing some schmoozing and talking at the start. He mentioned the heat we were having…and the humidity…and said that no one was going to PR today. As that was never my intention in the first place, I was okay with that. It was hot and it was humid. Bart Yasso was brought up and, despite a couple of microphone malfunctions, wished everyone a good race. He was doing the half…his girlfriend…the full. And then, the national anthem was sung by a local woman…and, we were counted down and sent off to the sound of conch shells blowing. It was fantastic. I mean, seriously…the sun wasn’t up yet…tiki torches are lit…and conch shells are being blown by locals as the starting gun. I was taking it all in, and waving at the drone…just telling myself to take it easy, breathe, and to have fun.
As I crossed the starting line, I spotted Cathy, Tawn, and Indy…and they cheered and screamed and I waved…and that adrenaline took me through the slow-moving packed start of the race. I was thankful for the much easier pace of the start because I tend to just go all out in the first mile and tire quicker. With the humidity already pretty intense, I was already soaking wet within the first half mile. My pigtails were plastered to my neck. This humidity was NO JOKE. And with the first 7 miles being a steady uphill climb, I wanted to really pace myself and save something for the second part of the race. Mile 1 ticked off, and I was moving without breathing hard. And then…a light, misting rain started up. We’re in the gorgeous Hawaiian countryside…and here comes this light mist. I can see gorgeous mountains ahead, hear roosters crowing, and see the lightening of the sky, with the promise of a sunrise coming. I focused on my surroundings more than how I was feeling. Which was good…because with the steady incline going…by Mile 3 I was already feeling this race in my hip adductor. Not good. Not what I wanted at all.
I had hoped that my hip would hold out longer and do better…but the long climb was not something I could practice. Not for that long or that distance. Which…was now getting into my head. I focused on my form at that point, and as I came into Mile 4…was moving a bit better. My foot, however, was still an issue in and of itself. Even taped up, it would flare up with every few steps, reminding me that it was not 100%…and that I needed to keep that in mind as the race continued. Thankfully, some beautiful hula dancers were on the side of the road and that made me focus on something else for the moment. Distractions are a beautiful thing.
At Mile 5, way earlier than anticipated or hoped for…I took my first walk break. I had ever intention of at least powering through the first half of this race without needing to walk, ideally getting to Mile 15…but that didn’t happen. And I actually cried a little when I had to take this break. But the elevation was wreaking havoc on both my hip and my foot…so I took it. And once I got to a designated spot ahead (I think it was a road sign), I started back to a jog…and then an easy paced run.
Ahead was the part of the race I had been looking forward to the most…the Tunnel of Trees. Just before Mile 6, you run into this gorgeous area canopied by old Eucalyptus trees, creating a natural gateway to Kauai’s South Shore. Just inside the Mile 6 marker was placed. A woman runner from Kauai, just ahead of me, went…”Alright…6 down, 20 to go!” She pumped her hands and two runners from Honolulu began talking to here. The two from Honolulu were doing the half marathon. And, as we were running, it came out that our excitable Kauai native was also doing the half. She said she knew the course and wanted a beer after 2 hours of running. Not 4 or more. Another runner, a guy in floral shorts, stopped here and there to take amazing shots within the tunnel of trees. It really was amazing. And, as we left, we rounded into our 7th mile…and finally…FINALLY…got some downhill time. The lady from Kauai went, “Downhill…time to make up all that time we lost on that climb.” She was adorable and so excited…it was rather uplifting, actually. If she had been doing the full, I’d have wanted to have her along to keep me going. I sort of stayed with this group…having a nice back and forth with them for a few miles. They were talking about how running for over 4 hours didn’t sound appealing to them. I told them about how I was supposed to do this race last year, but couldn’t due to a stress fracture. And this was great. This got me through to Mile 10…when I pulled ahead and soon was at the point where the half marathon runners went left to run the last 2.5 miles into the finish line…and the marathon runners went right…at the rooster sign…and continued for the next 15.5 miles. This is where it really thinned out.
I made the turn, and immediately, another steep hill was waiting. I managed to run a few more feet before I stopped to take another walk break. I didn’t cuss myself out or cry this time…I just told myself to not worry too much about it. This race wasn’t for time anyway. And…at this point a beautiful rainbow was arching over the roadway. So, who needs to run when you can really drink in a Hawaiian rainbow for a moment. I did start up again as I neared the crest of the hill…and took on the downhill.
My foot was now starting to bother me more. As far as long runs went after seeing my podiatrist…I had done 8 miles. So, I was already over the distance I tested this foot out on. And it was screaming at me. I took a deep breath…turned my focus back to my form again, and kept on going. Miles 11-12 were relatively flat, but I soon found myself walking again as the hills returned near the halfway point. I picked it up to run across the half marathon mark which translated to anyone following me via tracking that I was at least halfway done. This was just under 2 hours into the race…and I was now hitting the hardest part of the course. The volunteer they had at the halfway mark though was awesome. And I am so glad he was there, cheering and encouraging people. He told me I was halfway there…and doing well. And he said it that I believed him. I was hitting my unspoken goal…to finish around 4 hours…at this point…on target. I knew I’d be slowing down though with the course being harder on the other side. But…making it this far was good…even if I was really starting to feel the effects of the humidity and heat of the day. After all, the sun was up and blazing now…and there wasn’t a lot of tree cover on these roads. You run the day…so I was running (and walking) to my abilities now.
I ran through Mile 14 before having to slow again. I drank in some water and poured some over my head to keep my body temperature cool. That was not an easy thing for me to do…but it was necessary. Also…Mile 15-17 was the huge climb that I had heard and read stories about. And I knew…I knew I would have to walk some of it.
Truth was…I walked the entire hill. I just couldn’t get my mind to tell my feet and legs to go. I probably could have run some of it, but my mind was not in a good place at this point and the word “can’t” was probably running around more than it should have been. But, once I got to the top…I started to run again. This part of the race went through a very rurual area, with broken down houses. But this…this part had my race moment. I was running along a road that looked like it was made of red clay. And this little girl, also in pigtails, come running up alongside me…just smiling. I told her that I loved her hair and we ran together…the two of us…pigtails bouncing at our shoulders. It was amazing. And even when she hit the chalk finish line she had etched into the road…she kept going with me. When she dropped back, I shouted a thank you to her and continued on my way. Seriously…highlight.
After that is where things sort of spiraled out of control. It’s hard to remember much because it got a little bit…scary. Despite taking in water (my own and that along the course) and fueling the way I have always fueled for races…by Mile 18…I was starting to feel sick. My stomach was not happy with me, probably due to taking in more water than I am accustomed to. Or, maybe it was the new fuel. I can’t say since I didn’t test it out, but I took the fuel in at my usual spots ahead of this and had no issues at all. But the heat was really starting to lay into me. And, needless to say, I started to succumb to it.
I jogged with a Marathon Maniac from Mile 17…and we walked a hill through Mile 18. He took off after that and I told myself I would start to run again. But, my body wasn’t feeling it. My stomach hurt. My head was foggy. And I was aching. Foot and hip. Just…no desire to start up again. I tried…and my foot rebelled. So, I decided to walk a little more. I walked through the next couple of miles, taking offered cold water despite feeling like I really just wanted to throw up. As I crested a hill around Mile 21…I was seeing dark spots in my vision and my lips were tingling. I was in a bad way. But I didn’t want to call it quits. I have never DNF’d a race and I wasn’t ready, after traveling this far, and having had to give upon this race last year, to give up now. I slowed it down. Breathed deeply, and kept putting one foot in front of the other. If I hit a water stop, I would drink half the water, even though I really just wanted to throw up more…then pour the rest over my head to cool down. We had rounded back and had to go over the timing mat I had gone over at the halfway point. The same enthusiastic volunteer was there as I walked…WALKED…over it. He said…”It’s only 5 more miles and mostly down hill from here.”
It was niceto hear. But I knew my pace wasn’t going to be picking up any time soon. And it wasn’t just me. I’d have people run by me who were stopping to walk. They didn’t have the added fun of an injured foot and hip to contend with and eventually would start up again. It was frustrating, to me, and I was trying hard to not worry about the time ticking away with each slow, walking step I had to take. I cussed at myself when I had to walk the downhills. I felt horrible…and the few times I talked myself into jogging, I had to stop almost immediately. I held tears back, because I didn’t want to break down and not be able to breathe. It was already hard enough in the humidity. The heat of the day was upon us now and I just wanted to get to the finish line and find some shade. When I was at Mile 23, I saw two of the volunteers on mopeds. One of them asked about some medical thing at Mile 18. The other guy said it was just a runner who was done. The heat and humidity and hills had done him in. I overheard this and said…I know how he feels, but I just decided to walk it in. And one of them said, “You’ve looked strong all day. Keep going!”
Hearing that made me feel a little better, and despite the runners catching up and passing me, I just kept that steady mantra of just putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. 2 miles…I could walk 2 miles. I was walking 2 miles. Around Mile 25, the resort near the finish line was handing out cold, wet towels. I took one and draped it over my neck, then my head. I touched it to my shoulders and face. I kept it with me until it was no longer cold. And by then…I was near the finish line. So close.
But my legs still weren’t ready to go. And I was getting so mad at myself and the entire situation. As I was nearing a bend in the road, and seeing the ocean again, a guy was walking up to the runners heading our way, a medal around his neck, giving us high fives. He saw me and said, “You turn that corner and you will see the finish. You’re almost there, girl.” And with that, I came around the bend, and started to jog.
It took every bit of my willpower to keep going. I pushed. I pushed more. And I ran toward that finish line, hearing Ron Wiley (the DJ of KONG radio) say, “And here comes Karen Brady of The Brady Bunch”…and I tossed up my hands and crossed the finish line.
I could hear Cathy, Tawn, and Jenn. I could see them. I slowed to a walk and tried to catch my breath. Tears just flowed. Those ugly cry tears. And I walked up to them, Cathy reaching over to give me a hug, and all I could say was, “That was so fucking hard.” And then I melted down.
After a few moments of sweaty hugs, and getting a lei put around my neck, I slowly walked down the chute to receive my medal. Cathy had me pose with the cute Hawaiian man handing out medals before I made my way to the reunion area to meet them. Cathy went to grab a bag of ice to lay me down on and I went to get into the shade and put my feet up. Jennifer and Tawn went to get me some iced coffee and I was content to lay there, feet up, recovering…and trying hard not to cry. My friends were awesome. They told me how good I did and how proud they were of me. And I focused on that instead of the fact that, while my only true goal was to finish the race, I had hoped for a little bit better time. But, this was a brutal course and brutal weather. I did what I could. I left everything I had out there. And while I was disappointed in myself, no one else was.
After I felt recovered enough to move, I called my mom to talk to her. She and my dad had been tracking me, which I had no idea they would be doing. It almost made me cry…especially when they both started telling me how proud they were of me. I talked to my mom as we were getting to the car and hung up as we climbed in. Cathy asked if I needed water…and as my stomach was still off, I requested a cold Sprite Zero. She said we could swing by the Long’s Drugs that was near the finish line. So…we did. And I didn’t realize she didn’t enter with me. I had gone right over to the cold beverages and grabbed a Sprite Zero. Then…couldn’t find her. Tawn had me help her look for some travel size products, and as I was ready to leave and sit down again, Cathy comes in, grabs my hand, and drops my Claddagh ring into my hand. Turns out, a customer at the Living Foods Market found it in the parking lot and turned it in. My amazing friends had called to inquire about it as they ate breakfast while I was out running. And the market had it. And now…I had it back. I purchased that ring in 2007 in Ireland…I was so upset it was gone. And now…thanks to the amazing people in my life…and a special and honest person who found it and turned it in…I have it back. I ugly cried for the 4th time that day.
After that, we went back to the resort so I could shower off and get changed. Once I was clean…and in the process…noticed that the date was wrong on the medal…I was dressed and we headed out to lunch and to explore Kauai for the rest of the day.
Lunch, by the way, was Gluten Free Vegan Tacos at Verdes. It was amazing. Just what I needed. Lunch with friends…and good food.
So…the official results of the Kauai Marathon are that I finished in 4:52:18. I was 97/258 finishers overall. I was 31/101 female finishers. And I was 6/13 finishers in my age division.
Was this the race I had hoped for? No. Nowhere close. Unfortunately, this race was the race I needed, but didn’t need. The outcome wasn’t the one I wanted. There was way more walking than I had anticipated. The hills, the heat, the humidity…they crushed me and I am still battling this mental block of mine. A part of me wonders if I can honestly take on 26.2 anymore. This race defeated me…but I was not defeated. Despite feeling horrible…despite the brutal heat and course…I finished. I found that little boost at the end to run it in and cross that finish line. And in the end…all that matters is that I crossed that line…my friends were there to hug me…and I survived. I made it.
Was this the comeback I dreamed of? Nowhere close. But there will be other races. Just not anytime soon.
I am proud of myself though…despite pain and nagging injuries…and the weather conditions (possible hurricanes up until the day before!)…I finished. I FINISHED! Marathon #11…done!
From here…I focus on getting stronger.
Aloha, Kauai. Thanks for the memories…even if my race date is wrong on the medal (which…by the way…has yet to be acknowledged by the race peeps…despite it being mentioned numerous times to them via social media).