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

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

Race: 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon

Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 1, 2020

Time: 1:50:02

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

But…I think they somehow made it hillier.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

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

But we were doing this thing.

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

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When you cut your garbage bag wrong…

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

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

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Pacer Meb Keflezighi

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

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

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Alaphine Tuliamuk taking selfies at the start line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lunch at Walburgers!

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

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

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

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Product Review: Knockaround Fast Lane Sunglasses

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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If you know me well, you know that I am very particular about my sunglasses.  I have a head that, sadly, doesn’t play nice with hats and eye wear all the time.  So, I am not one to dive in and blindly try something that I haven’t had a chance to put on my face to see if I like it or not.

But…this time…I did.

I was given the opportunity to try out a pair of Knockaround Fast Lane Sunglasses.  And, in doing so, I was taking a chance that I would look like a complete dweeb in the process.  But, hey, these are crazy times…might as well live a little, right?  I made a point of selecting the brightest, most colorful pair I could find in the Fast Lane selection: Neon Summer.

IMG_3564(1)These came into my possession JUST before the world shut down.  Literally.  I opened up the tiniest shipping box I had ever received and inside were these beautiful, bright glasses, staring right back at me.  Literally.  As the lenses are mirrored.  Not just mirrored, but mirrored in this gorgeous aqua color.  I was a fan of the bright neon pink frames with the loud and proud yellow arms that screamed “CHILD OF THE 80’s” like you’ve never imagined.

As someone who is a child of the 80’s for real (like…born in 1980), this made me beyond happy.  And…I immediately had to put them on.  I was already getting that nervous feeling…because I didn’t want to fall in love with a product that didn’t look good with my face shape.

4B96F23B-C583-44C0-AA9A-C012C4AAB1D6BUT…they looked great!!  The felt great.  I wore them home that day from the office. And then the following day…I was stoked to take them out on a run to see how they held up to my road running adventures.

Here’s what I love about Knockaround Fast Lane Sunglasses…

  • They are lightweight.  Honestly, you can barely tell they’re on when you’re out running or walking or even when you have them resting on top of your head while dashing into the office for a moment or whatever the case may be.
  • They won’t give you a headache. These glasses will fit your head without squeezing the daylights out of it.  If you’re in them for 10 minutes or all day, they have yet to a headache.  I love it when things fit properly!
  • The lenses aren’t coated in the cheap stuff that flakes off.  I have had people invest in a different brand of sunglasses for running in, only to have the lens coating start to chip away.  I’ve been pretty rough and tumble with these, and they still look like the did the day I pulled them out of the box.
  • They won’t fog up.  How many of you have started out on a run, early enough to not need the sunglasses, but then moved them down only to have the lenses foggy.  It’s not easy to run when you can’t see where you are going.  I have gone out on cold mornings, hot mornings, rainy mornings, and never have had to pause my run to wipe away foggy lenses.

082410AA-AEE2-4152-9817-408CAD85B32FAs you can tell, I went into this wanting to hate the sunglasses…but quite the opposite happened.  Instead…I found a brand of sunglasses that I love to wear.  In fast, I have already ordered two more pairs.  One was in their big (Stay) Home (You’re Not) Alone 40% of sale…which also included the option of using the BibRave Discount as well.  So, I bought a pair with the colors of my local professional soccer team.

And then I customized another pair…and those are going to be on their way to me in no time. The moral of the story is…big things come in little packages.  If you’ve been searching for a good pair of sunglasses for your runs, walks, hikes, or maybe a future trip somewhere…you can’t go wrong with Knockarounds.

And if the Fast Lane style doesn’t speak to you, they have numerous other shapes and designs…and an option to design your own!!  WHAT?!  Yep…customize your own pair of sunnies!!  Now we’re cooking with gas!ED45A947-333E-4412-84CB-50D6CAED3D5A

Head on over to Knockaround‘s Web site and go find your perfect pair…or design your own.  But…I’m a forever fan of living my sunniest days…in the Fast Lane.

Want to hear what other people are saying about the Fast Lane’s?  Let a few other BRP’s shed some (sun)light on the subject:

Montana / Deborah / Christine / Mike

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

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

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

I had to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. COULD. NOT. WAIT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was weird.

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

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

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

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

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

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Product Review: Nabee Compression Socks

“Disclaimer: I received a pair of Nabee Compression Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”

If you know me…you know that I don’t leave for a run, whether it’s one mile or 26.2 miles, without wearing compression sleeves or socks.  I’ve been doing it since 2012 and it’s been a part of my running uniform ever since.

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I didn’t think there was a brand out there I haven’t tried.  And then…Nabee Compression Socks were sent my way.  Fun fact for these days of quarantine, social distancing, and honoring our health care workers…Nabee Compression Socks were invented by a nurse.  Don’t immediately think that these socks are only for nurses, however.  These socks are also perfect for athletes, frequent fliers, as well as servers, teachers, speakers, performers, or anyone else who spends a good amount of time on their feet.  They offer two different levels of compression too, starting with 15-20 mmhg up to 20-30 mmhg.

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I had a lot of different fun colors and designs to choose from, but I really wanted to represent my Irish routes.  I got the Shamrock socks (20-30 mmhg compression).  I LOVE them…and I wear them even though St. Patrick’s Day is long past.  Shamrocks are good year round, and let’s face it…we could all use a little bit of luck these days.

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My first impression after taking them out of the packaging was just how SOFT these socks are.  Usually, compression sleeves and socks tend to have this feel of stiffness to them.  But these made me really excited about getting them on my feet and legs.  These socks also have a seamless toe and added arch support for running!  They feel good.  But I definitely wanted to put them to the test.

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So I took them out for long runs.  I took them out for short runs.  I wore them for recovery runs.  I wore them for speed work.  And I never stopped loving the way these socks felt and how I felt wearing them.  And yes…I even wore them for recovery!  I had many nurses comment about them when I would post on my social media, so I hope they took advantage of the one time discount that they gave to BibRave.

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I know I did!!  Yep…I loved these socks so much I went ahead and ordered another pair!!  I went with the Celebration Socks this time, which had fun stripes of white, electric blue and hot pink.  They were SO me!  I didn’t have to order another pair, but I am SOLD on these.  They are not just fun and fashionable, but they are effective and…above all else…comfortable!

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If you have tried compression before or been on the fence about trying compression, I would definitely send you to Nabee Socks.  Honestly, the company is great…and the product they put out there is now one of my favorite parts of my running gear!

Want to give Nabee Compression Socks a try?  Use “BIBRAVE20” and get 20% off your order.  This code is good for ONE TIME ONLY!!  Also, Nabee Compression Socks is currently donating 2 pairs of their socks to frontline healthcare workers for every pair they sell.  There’s a little bit of extra motivation!

See what other BibRave Pro’s are saying about Nabee Compression Socks:

Angie / Ashley /

Review: Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve

Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve

It’s hard to change when something feels off on your body.  Do you run through it?  Do you take time off?  As some of you know, I had something flair up in my hip/leg/quad/hamstring back in January.  After a mile or so, it normally settled down and I could run confidently without feeling I was making something worse.  That is…until one day I knew something was defintely wrong, when I felt I was fighting for every step and I was limping later in the afternoon after a 10 mile run.

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Wore my Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve in the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon!

Talk about good timing for my Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve to arrive.  I had a few options to choose from to test out, but I already wear my compression socks and sleeves (so I didn’t want calf sleeves).  I don’t have knee issues, so I skipped the knee option.  And I had no reason to get anything for my arms (so that elbow sleeve wasn’t necessary).  That left the thigh sleeve.  And I had never seen a thigh sleeve option before.  And with my hamstrings and quads giving me some issues…it was the logical choice.

A few days later, it arrived and I couldn’t wait to test it out.

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Body Helix was founded by world-ranked tennis player, Fred Robinson, and physician, Thomas E. Parker, MD.  The compression wraps were developed based on both the science of movement and the research on injury management.  Each sleeve is made with a material that would stretch, rebound, and stay in place.  And, of course, that would be comfortable and effective to wear during exercise.

Body Helix’s tagline is “Move Through It.”  Well, thanks to the thigh compression sleeve they sent me…I was able to do just that.

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The package arrived and not only included my compression sleeve (which I got in a stunning plum color), but it also had a card with a note from the CEO and Chairman on one side…and WASHING INSTRUCTIONS on the other side.  FINALLY!  Compression that comes with instructions on how to wash it!  BONUS!  (For the record, it goes in the washing machine and dryer…how awesome is that?).  It also had a page of all their compression options included.

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And after getting cleared to run by my physical therapist, I went out for my first run in over three weeks after the leg pain wasn’t something that I felt would be okay for me to run through.  And guess what?  It felt great.  The sleeve easily slid up and over my leg, settling perfectly on my thigh.  It was a fantastic fit too.  Not too tight…but not going to slide down my leg either.  Which was my biggest concern going into this.  Nothing would suck more than heading out to run and having your compression just continue to slide down and making me have to stop and pull it back up.  It stayed put.  It stayed tight.  It gave me support and I was able to run, and not hobble or limp, through my runs.  And, it fits under your running shorts/tights without looking, feeling, or actually being bulky. Long runs, short runs, and even some speed work…my Body Helix Compression Sleeve worked like a charm.  It arrived at just the right time.  Now I don’t know what I would have done without it.  And going forward, I know I’ll be using it as I work on rehabbing this leg and getting back to being 100%.

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Can’t even see the Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve under my tights.

Want to try Body Helix yourself?  Use code “BH15BR” to save 15% on everything on http://bodyhelix.com/

Review: Handful Bra

Disclaimer: I received a Handful Y-Back Bra to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

One thing any woman will tell you is that finding that perfect sports bra that is a perfect mix of style, fit, and work with whatever your activity and activity level is might be one of the most difficult things to do.  At least, for me it has been a challenge to find a sports bra that won’t leave me chafed around the middle.

And then…Handful came into my life.

The first thing that drew me to Handful was the support they give to Breast Cancer Warriors and Survivors.  My mom battled breast cancer last year and came out on the other side as a beautiful survivor.  Handful gives 12.5% of revenue from their Battle Cry Pink bras year round to YSC® (Young Survival Coalition) in recognition of the 1 in 8 women (12.5%) who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.  And, for any woman who loses a breast to cancer, Handful provides FREE pad sets that can be stacked and used as prosthetics in any of their pocketed bras.

And if that isn’t amazing enough…Handful prides itself on the Fashion, Function, Feel, Fun, and Fight in their products.  This is what they call their High Five and it is the foundation of their company and products.

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Handful Y-Back Bra (front view)

When my Handful Bra arrived in the mail on a Thursday and I couldn’t wait to open it up and check it out.  It would have to wait for the test runs that weekend, as Friday’s are always my rest day.

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Handful Y-Back Bra (back view)

First impressions:

  • SOFT! The bra fabric is SUPER soft.  I couldn’t wait to try it on because it just felt so amazing so I knew it was going to feel good wearing it.
  • COLOR! I got my Handful Y-Back Bra in the color Eclipse.  It’s the stunning dark blue.  But here’s the thing, fun and fashion are two of the High Fives that the company swears by…and every single style of their bras come in stunning colors and/or designs.
  • POCKETS & PADS! Handful Bras are all equipped with removable pads (to give you more or less of what you need where/when/if you need it). Those little sleeves you slide the pads in and out of also double as stash pockets for a key, card, chapstick, fuel, or whatever!  HOW AMAZING!

So, I had to wait a day before trying out the bra, but that entire weekend I was going to put it to the test.  I had a 10 mile run on Saturday, and a 16 mile run on Sunday.  This would be a good way to put this bra to the test.

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My findings:

  • COMFORT! This bra, as I mentioned before is SOFT!! It’s so comfortable to wear.  I wore it with the provided pads on Saturday, and without on Sunday.  Made no difference.  I felt very supported and never felt like the fabric was rubbing me raw anywhere or that I was bubbling out of it in the back or the front.  It’s also quick-drying with a soft, moisture wicking COOLMAX lining.  Comfortable doesn’t even begin to describe it. I could live in this bra.
  • NO CHAFING! The biggest issue I have with MOST of the sports bras that I have purchased is that they chafe me right around the middle where that band hits just below the breasts.  That didn’t happen at all with this bra.  I have worn it on numerous runs, both short and long.  I have worn it to physical therapy.  I have even worn it to work because…it’s JUST that comfortable.  And nothing rubbed me wrong.  Not a single mark was left on my body.  Not around the middle.  Not under the arms.  Not down the back.  Not on the shoulders.  It was a perfect fit.  AND…if you aren’t sure how to pick your size, the Handful site has  a chart, but for the most part, your T-shirt size is your Handful Bra size.  They aren’t wrong.  It fit me perfectly!
  • FLATTERING! The Handful Y-Back Bra comes with what they call the “Anti-Uniboob Design.  Seriously, the little ruching at the front a simple touch that makes a world of difference and simply…defines your shape.  It also keeps things tight if you lean forward, where most sports bras will gap.  What’s not to love about that?

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There is no doubt that Handful has become my favorite bra in my lineup.  In fact, I’m tossing my old ones and ordering a variety of these so that I exclusively wear them.  That’s how impressed I am with it.  And, of course, in honor of my mom…I’ll definitely be getting quite a few in  Battle Cry Pink!

See what other BibRave Pro’s are saying about the Handful Bra!

Stephanie / Vanessa / Mai / Danielle / Montana / Kim / Lissa

Are you ready to give Handful a try? Click here and check out their lineup of bras, as well as shirts and leggings. You can use discount code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% of your entire purchase.

BibRave Discounts!!

Hey everyone!!  Here is a list of this year’s discounts on races and swag, brought to you by BibRave!  I am a new BibRave Pro this year…and am LOVING it.  BibRave is a running community that connects runners with the best races and allows you the opportunity to research races you are considering signing up for, as well as leave feedback for the races you have completed.  If you haven’t checked it out yet…head over there.

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The list below is all of the current active BibRave partner race discount codes. Use the codes below to receive discounts on registration for our partner races. Visit https://www.bibrave.com/ for more information and contact info@bibrave.com with any questions!

January 2020

1/1/2020 – 465 Virtual Challenge

Use code “BIBRAVE” for 10% off

1/11/2020 – Times-Union Half Marathon & 5K- Jacksonville, FL

Use code “RUN15” for 15% off

1/11/2020 – Irvine Half Marathon & 5K- Irvine, CA

Use code “BRIRVINE” for 10% off

1/12/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate San Francisco – San Francisco, CA

Use code “BRHCSANFRAN19” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

1/18-1/19/2020 – Marathon Bahamas (Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend) – Bahamas

Use code “MBSPECIAL” for 10% off!

1/19/20 – Key West Half Marathon & 5K – Key West, FL

Use code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% off half marathon.

February 2020

2/1/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Houston – Houston, TX

Use code “BRHCHOUSTON20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/2/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Atlanta – Atlanta, GA

Use code “BRHCATL20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/2/2020 – San Jose 408K Race to the Row – San Jose, CA

Use cod “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

2/2/2020 – Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon – San Francisco, CA

Use code “KPSFBIBRAVE” for $5 off the 5k, 10k and half marathon

2/8/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Dallas – Dallas, TX

Use code “BRHCDALLAS20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/8/2020 – Hilton Head Marathon, Half, 8K – Hilton Head, SC

Use code “HH15” for 15% off

2/9/2020 – Life Time Miami Marathon & Half Marathon – Miami, FL

Use code “BIBRAVEMIAMI” for $5 off!

2/15/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Nashville – Nashville, TN

Use code “BRHCNASH20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/16/2020 – Honda Miles Per Hour Run – Chicago, IL

Use code “RAVEMPH” for $5 off individual or team entry

2/22/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte – Charlotte, NC

Use code “BRHCCHARLOTTE20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

March 2020

3/1/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Seattle – Seattle, WA

Use code “BRHCSEATTLE20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

3/1/2020 – 305 Half Marathon & 5K – Miami Beach, FL

Use code “BIBRAVE305” for $5 off half only

3/1/2020 – Napa Valley Marathon & Half Marathon – Napa, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE10” for $10 off the full or half marathon distances

3/14/2020 – San Jose Shamrock Run – San Jose, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

3/22/2020 – Oakland Running Festival – Oakland, CA

Use code “OAKLANDRAVE20” for 10% off

3/22/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate San Diego – San Diego, CA

Use code “BRHCSANDIEGO20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

3/22/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Tempe, AZ

Use code “BRWWTEMPE” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

April 2020

4/4/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Louisville – Louisville, KY

Use code “BRHCLOUIS20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/4/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA

Use code “BRHCPHILLY20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/4/2020 – Publix Savannah Women’s Half & 5K – Savannah, GA

Use code “BIBRAVE” for 15% off

4/4/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Houston, TX

Use code “BRWWHOUSTON” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

4/4/2020 – Carmel Marathon – Carmel, IN

Use code “BIBRAVE5” for $5 off

4/4/2020 – Salisbury Marathon – Salisbury, MD

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

4/5/2020 – Statesman Cap 10K – Austin, TX

Use code “BIBRAVE2020CAP10K” for $5 off registration

4/5/2020 – Hapalua Half – Waikiki Beach, HI

Use code “BIBHAPA10” for 10% off registration

4/5/2020 – Silicon Valley Half Marathon – San Jose, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

4/11/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “BRHCMINN20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/11/2020 – Milwaukee Marathon – Milwaukee, WI

Use code “RUN15” for 15% off

4/11/2020 – IPA 10K – Sebastopol, CA

Use code “BRBEERRUN20” for 10% off

4/11/2020 – Milwaukee Marathon – Milwaukee, WI

Use code “RUN15” is good for 15% off

4/18/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Detroit – Detroit, MI

Use code “BRHCDETROIT20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/18/2020 – Blue Ridge Marathon – Roanoke, VA

Use code “BRMRAVE” to save 20% off distance of your choice!

4/23-25/2020 – Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon – Champaign, IL

Use code “2020BIBRAVEILLINOIS” for $10 off any event other than youth run

4/25/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Dallas, TX

Use code “BRWWDALLAS” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

4/26/2020 – Delaware Marathon – Wilmington, DE

Use code “DELAWARERAVE20” for 10% off

4/26/2020 – New Jersey Marathon – Oceanport, NJ

Use code “20NJMBibRave” for $5 off registration

4/26/2020 – Ravenswood 5K – Chicago, IL 

Use code “RAVENSBR20” for a FREE trucker hat

May 2020

5/2/2020 – Cinco de Miler – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRCINCO20” for a FREE trucker hat

5/3/2020 – The Providence Marathon Presented by The Providence Journal  – Providence, RI

Use code “RUN15” for 15% off

5/3/2020 – Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon – Pittsburgh, PA

Use code “BIBRAVE10PGH” for $10 off the full, half, or relay

5/3/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Nashville, TN

Use code “BRWWNASH” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

5/16/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Atlanta, GA

Use code “BRWWATL” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

5/16/2020 – Harper’s Ferry Half Marathon – Harper’s Ferry, WV

Use code  “BIBRAVE5” good for $5 off

5/23/2020 – Soldier Field 10 Miler – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRSOLDIER20” for a FREE trucker hat

5/24/2020 – Vermont City Marathon – Burlington, VT

Use code “BIBRAVE2010” for $10 off

June 2020

6/7/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – San Francisco, CA

Use code “BRWWSF” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

6/7/2020 – North Shore Half Classic – Highland Park, IL

Use code “BRNSHALF20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

6/7/2020 – Run for the Zoo – Chicago, IL

Use code BIBRAVE for 10% off

6/13/2020 – The Governor’s Cup – Helena, MT

Use code “GCBIB20” good for 10% off

6/13-14/2020 – Big Foot Triathlon, Trail 10K & 5K – Lake Geneva, WI

Use code  “BRBF20” for a FREE trucker hat

6/21/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRWWCHI” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

6/26-28/2020 – Missoula Marathon – Missoula, MT

Use code “BibRave2020” for $5 off half/full entry

6/27/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “BRWWMIN” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

July 2020

7/12/2020 – Across the Bay 12K and 415K – San Francisco, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

August 2020

8/22/2020 – Madison Mini-Marathon Half Marathon & 5K – Madison, WI

Use code “BIBRAVE10” for 10% off half & 5K

8/29-30/2020 – Santa Rosa Marathon – Santa Rosa, CA

Use code “SAVE10” for 10% off

September 2020

9/12/2020 – Run Mag Mile 10K & 5K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRRMM20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

October 2020

10/3/2020 – Freedom’s Run – Shepherdstown, WV

Use code  “BIBRAVE5” good for $5 off

10/4/2020 – Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon & 5K – Hampton Beach, NH

Use code “SAVE10” for 10% off registration

10/4/2020 – Bucktown 5K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRBT20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

10/16-18/2020 – Detroit Free Press/TCF Marathon – Detroit, MI

Use code “BIBRAVEDET20” for 10% off

10/17/2020 – Urban Bourbon Half Marathon presented by Jim Beam – Louisville, KY

Use code “BOURBONRAVE2020” for 10% off

10/18/2020 – The East Bay 510K – Oakland, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

10/24/2020 – Pumpkins in the Park 5K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRPP20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

November 2020

11/8/2020 – Honor Run Half Marathon – Florence, KY

Use code “HRBIBRAVE15” good for $15 off any event

11/26/2020 – North Shore Turkey Trot – Highland Park, IL

Use code  “BRNSTT20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

Exciting Stuff Part 2

78546341_10100632067285991_5968535194473332736_nAgain, this will come as no surprise to you if you already follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  But, I feel the need to put it down in the blog.  This year, I hope to settle in and blog about more things.  Getting back into the writing groove when I posted about my training plan leading up to my BQ attempt (which I got) at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

And one thing that is going to help with that definitely has everything to do with this announcement.

I was selected to be a BibRave Pro.

What’s BibRave?

BibRave is a running community that was built to connect runners with the best races.  You can research races you are considering putting on your race schedule…as well as leave feedback on races that you have completed.  It is also a way for races and brands that are geared toward runners to connect with runners through their large ambassador network (which I am now a part of) as well as through #BibChat – which is a Twitter chat that happens once a month (starting in the new year).

I have applied for the opportunity to join this amazing family of people who honestly promote products and races, as well as just be an awesome member of the running community…FOUR times.  I finally got it.  And I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m learning all the basics right now, but stay tuned because I know there is some exciting stuff coming up this year!

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

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

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 9, 2019

Time: 3:35:13

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

BOSTON QUALIFIED!

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

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Day Before The Race Breakfast!

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

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

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

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Expo Time!

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

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Cathy and Me at the Expo with our bib numbers!

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

 

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

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Found my name!

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

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

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

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Packing up the hydration pack on race morning!

 

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

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

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

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

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MRTT/SRTT

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

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

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

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

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3:35 Pace Group taking off!

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

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

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Cathy got a 5K PR at the Monumental 5K

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

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

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

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Finish line in sight! I was ugly crying already!

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

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Official Results

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

Keep Fighting.

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

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

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I have THE BEST friends!

FLY!

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

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

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A shower and some coffee!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #20

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornI don’t know how I made it through these last 20 weeks, but with that said…race week has arrived.  I’m both nervous, excited, anxious, and calm.  How is it possible to feel all the things and remain sane?  Well, the vote is still out on that whole remaining sane thing.  HA!

This was definitely a week to turn it down.  And my coach gave me specific instructions that he didn’t want me to take a complete back seat this week, but I could move or change whatever I needed to going into it.  I didn’t change a damn thing.  I did, however, knock my recovery runs down one mile and made sure to keep that pace nice…and…easy.  The last thing I wanted was to go into race morning with lactic acid hanging around in these legs.  NOPE NOPE NOPE!

As I mentioned previously, my coach does an untraditional taper.  He does lower mileage (although I was in the 60s, 50s, 40s for the last three weeks)…kinda.  He makes a lot of it all about that speed work.  Getting those legs to fire…right at the end of a run…when they are the most exhausted.  But this week really didn’t have too much on it.  My longest run was 7 miles, and that was the ONLY one that really had a speed element to it.  And it was a 4 mile fast finish.  Other than that…strides on the last day I ran before the race.  But I’ll cover all of that in this week recap.

It’s race week…let’s go!

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

I love that even in taper, my coach trusts me with “Choose Your Own Adventure” runs.  Knowing that this is race week, I really wanted to make my primary focus recovery.  I want to hit that start line feeling fresh and ready.  I was stressing over the forecast a little too much, because it looks like this will be my coldest marathon I have run.  Thanks to Canada and this arctic blast that is attacking our nation.  HA!  Anyway, I woke up to weather JUST above freezing.  So it was a long sleeve, capris kind of a run.  I didn’t wear my Dunkin’ Donuts hat…don’t know why.  I just didn’t.  And the legs did a little shakeout.  They felt good for a Monday.  I opted to do 4 instead of my usual 5 miles…and somehow snagged some negative splits in the process.  I called it a day.  No personal training.  Just my normal PT stretches.  I didn’t even do the additional hip strengtheners this week, not wanting to accidentally tweak something.  Simple.  Basic.  Got it done.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 5-8 MILES WITH 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 6.5 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

I woke up on Tuesday morning to 50 degree weather.  Yep.  From 33 degrees Monday morning to 50 degrees on Tuesday.  Fun times.  I knew he gave me the option of 8 miles…and if this was training on a normal week and I was feeling good…I might have pushed for it.  BUT…it’s taper.  It’s race week. I don’t like half miles…so I rounded up to 7…and I opted to go right in the middle with that fast finish, doing 3 easy miles and pushing pace on those last 4.  It felt hard.  It shouldn’t have felt hard.  But, I did at least get it done.  My sinuses were having a fun reaction to the yo-yo temperatures, so that was fun.  Other than that…I took it for what it was.  Finished as strong as I could for the day, then went inside to shower and just do my usual stretching.  Keeping it nice and easy.  Oh, and I went and voted.  Because that needed to happen!

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

Second verse, same as the first.  My only other “Choose Your Own Adventure” run for the week.  Happy to have had 2 of these.  I opted to do 4 again, unless I just wasn’t feeling it.  That’s the glory about these…I control them.  I did make a note to back off on pace and just let the legs work a little less.  My last 2 miles were much quicker than my first 2 miles, but that’s because it took me 2 miles to feel warm.  Isn’t that fun.  OH…did I not mention that the temperature dipped back down to just above freezing again?  Another morning with 33 degrees.  Oh…joy.  And the fact that I went from a warm apartment to run and it took me 2 miles to get my legs going was a bit of a concern.  I just tried very hard not to let it get into my head.  I did my stretches twice that morning.  And I foam rolled before work.  After work, I had a sports massage and I was so thankful for that.  Basically all that is holding me back right now is the weather.

Thursday: BASE FUN 4-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 6 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT

It was another rainy Thursday morning.  Just like last week.  UGH.  MEH.  BLAH.  I originally had thought about just doing the run on the treadmill, but I can’t do strides on the tready.  Nope.  So…I opted to just go and get it done.  It never stopped raining on me…but thankfully, we were back up to 50 degrees.  WHAT THE HELL WEATHER?!  So, I definitely didn’t want to push anything. Not even the hills I go up and down.  This was one of my slowest training runs to date.  And some of it might have been fear of slipping on the wet pavement and falling.  I won’t lie.  But I really just wanted it all to feel super easy.  It didn’t.  I blame the rain.  But, I did get in 6 miles.  See…I was given the option of going up to 8…but I really am doing JUST what needs to be done this week.  I reset for strides and pushed those legs on some short sprints…then went inside to take a hot shower, stretch, and get to work.  I met my friend, Melissa, for coffee after work…and she gave me my start line pep talk just in case she couldn’t get that out at my start line.  I appreciated it.  Went home to eat dinner.  Was supposed to pack.  Didn’t pack.  Went to bed by 8:30…because I really wanted to get some quality sleep knowing that I probably won’t sleep much on Friday night.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Thank God for small miracles.  I woke up at normal time…of course.  I didn’t set an alarm.  I just woke up.  So I lounged and dozed and finally got up at 5 am.  I showered.  I stretched.  I was thankful to not have to do one single mile today.  I was thankful that it was 26 degrees outside and I got to stay inside, stretch, hydrate, and sit under my snuggie, working on this blog.  That’s what I did.  I eventually made breakfast and my roommate and I got to packing…pretty much every option for any scenario on race day.  I still don’t know what I should or want to wear during the race.  We haven’t had weather this cold yet here…so I am at a total loss.  Not to mention, I have never run a marathon or a long distance run in temperatures like this.  It doesn’t sound fun.  It’s producing a lot of anxiety…but we’re working through it.  We had to wait for Dragon King’s Daughter to open so I could order my “magic sushi” to take with me to Indianapolis.  Then we hit the road to get up to Indy, check into the hotel, and hit the expo.  The rest of the time, I was going to spend in the hotel…rolling, stretching, and keeping myself off my feet.  I wanted to feel good Saturday morning.

Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON

Goal: Qualify for Boston – needed 3:40 time.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Finished in 3:35:13.

More to come in actual post race recap!  This girl is going back to Boston in 2021!  This is my second fastest marathon…EVER.  This beats out my 2nd marathon, the Marshall Marathon, by about 42 seconds.  Super proud.  Super sore.  But my day didn’t end with that finish line.  Then I went and sat outside in Indianapolis for the USL Eastern Conference Finals between the Indy Eleven and…Louisville City FC.  We won.  In overtime.  It was a long day of being cold.

Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I just can’t sleep the night after I run a marathon.  I was up until after midnight, watching Mindhunter (finished Season 2) and was still NOT tired.  I tossed and turned all night.  Finally got up and decided to finish this blog.  Will take a short 20 minute walk on the hotel treadmill this morning before grabbing breakfast, packing, loading up the car, and heading out for some shopping and lunch (you know I’m going to Woody’s).  Then, the long car ride home to Louisville, where I still need to buy groceries, meal prep, and all the usual stuff.  This coming week will bring my 20-30 minute walks (just like I did post Glass City Marathon in April).  I want to get back to spin classes…all the stuff I stopped doing when marathon training took over my life.  Looking forward to this recovery time while I make plans for 2020, which now doesn’t need to include a marathon!