Remember how I said I was in taper? I was apparently confused. Out of my mind. Wrong. Because my coach had one more long, long run up his sleeve. And I didn’t know about it until I was leaving the Kentucky Center of the Arts. I had gone to see Dear Evan Hansen. I was in a pretty dress and heels. I had a message come through from my coach telling me my schedule was posted and that I could choose how to run the 5K I was participating in on Saturday, but to not go 100%…because we (as in me…he wasn’t doing it with me, HA) had one more long, long run to tackle.
I flipped to my calendar and it was staring me down. One final 20-22 miler.
Here. We. Go.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
Thank goodness for easy, recovery days. With as stacked as last week was with three 13.1 runs…I was happy to have the chance to rest up a little. Especially since I had a late night with the Broadway show. I slept in as much as I could…then got up to go out for an easy run. The temperatures had dropped into the high 50s. It was supposedly raining. It wasn’t. It was a nice run that morning. No pushing pace. I ran faster than I had been in the past…probably because I had no humidity weighing me down. It was a good morning for a good run. Even if I wore a hat because of rain and it didn’t rain. I ended up with just over 5 miles. No personal training…which was a blessing with the week I had leading into this one.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
On an even more perfect morning temperature-wise, I went out in sleeves and some gloves (if temps are in the 40s or below…gloves always because Raynauds is real friends) and shorts and just let my legs do the talking. I reminded myself not to push any sort of pace. Just to go with the flow…stay in control of my breath. And let this run be the miles I needed that day. I ended up with 7.5 when I stopped. Then, I got to add strides on to the end. Six of them. And I felt fast and strong and I was fast and strong. And that’s the bonus of the cooler weather. When you suffer and die and cry throughout summer as you sweat it out…you fly in the fall. Hoping this trend continues because there comes a point where it gets too cold for me to function. And right now…we’re right in my happy place. Ended with 8 miles for the day. Also tacked on my additional hip strengthening exercises to the stretches I do every day.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.
Wednesday was a bad day. Not that anything tragic or life changing happened. But I had a double digit run on the schedule, so I had to go to bed SUPER early on Tuesday. Then, I had to wake up every super earlier than usual on Wednesday morning. I wasn’t loving it. Not at all. I also wasn’t loving the 800s that were scheduled. I will gladly and happily force myself to do speed work when asked, but I LOATHE 800s. The instant I got up, I went and made my Maurten 160 Drink Mix up and began to drink it while I was getting dressed, putting in contacts, all the things. I got my hydration bag ready to go and I headed out for my speed work. And then…my stomach decided to be on the fritz all morning. I just think it doesn’t like having things fed to it at 3 am before pushing a fast pace. At all. So, had to stop a couple of times for that, but felt better and rounded it out. I also feel that EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME I have speed work, the road I cross on the stretch that I run for it (no track…because this area is the worst) has the most traffic of any other day, no matter the hour. UGH! But, you know, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I hit my paces, recovered properly and wrapped it up with stretching. I also had personal training with Corey that afternoon. He, thankfully, kept it basic…challenging, but nothing too intense. And for that, I appreciate him. Also…Annie Mays didn’t have soft pretzels…so lunch was a no-go. Had to improvise. It just wasn’t my day.
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I love a good recovery run. We were back in the 50s this morning, so I kept the short sleeves and shorts, but ditched the gloves before I even went out the door. My goal, once again, was just to let my body do what it needed to that morning. I know that I have a pretty stacked weekend, and one rest day (which will involve the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park), I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize how my body would feel going into those. I figured 3-5 miles would be perfect. I felt good out there. My turnover felt amazing. My breath stayed controlled. And I finished up with 5 miles. Went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my stretches. Had to walk a bit farther to the office due to Harvest Homecoming happening downtown. And spent a good chunk of my morning standing in line for Masonic Donuts (which I can’t eat, but my office loves them…except for this year…or something). But, it was a good way to head into the weekend.
Full rest day! YAY!! I slept over 8 hours. Got up to shower. Did two rounds of my stretches and my foam rolling, just because I was unsure of when/if I would be able to get to it that night with the Pumpkin Walk happening. I went into work…favorite t-shirt day…ready to sit and stand at my desk to get work done, go pick up Amanda (roomie’s sister), go to get Indian food for dinner, then head (weather permitting) to Iroquois Park to do the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. It was a bit chilly, but the worst of the rain happened while we were under the canopy of the trees. It was a good way to wrap up the evening. I went right to bed when I got home.
Saturday: RACE FOR THE CURE 5K – YOU CAN APPROACH THIS HOWEVER YOU WOULD LIKE OTHER THAN PROBABLY NOT A FULL OUT EFFORT
Let me preface this by saying that this didn’t feel like an all-out effort. Not one bit. In fact, for the first two miles of the race, I couldn’t feel my feet because I was so cold. Most of this will be covered in my official blog on the race itself, but I felt good this morning. I had a fantastic group of people running on my team for my mom, Dottie Brady, showing their support and honoring her and others in her family. I love all of them for showing up and running for this cause. So, I ended up averaging a 7:07 mile for the 3.03 (the course was either short or the GPS cut out when we went through the tunnel twice) miles, finishing third overall and first female. I had a sweet woman come over when I finished and just gave me a hug and I loved her for that. I needed it. It was an emotional race and I felt so supported by my friends and team. And for that…I am thankful. So, it may appear I went all-out, but honestly, I had more in the tank. But tomorrow’s run will be a good judgement on how I ran this one. I felt amazing the entire time…and the cheers and shouts from not just my team members, but also the people along the course and in the race was uplifting. What an amazing race!
Sunday: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.
To be honest…I expected today to suck. I really did. After the 5K, a day full of grocery shopping, grabbing “magic sushi” during Harvest Homecoming (traffic and parking nightmare, friends), and a chilly Louisville City FC soccer match…I didn’t have high hopes for this run. I set an alarm for 5:15 am. Got up, put in contacts, ate breakfast, stretched, hydrated, got dressed, drank my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and got ready to head out as it was getting light out. It was 36° outside, so I put on bright yellow capris and a long sleeve shirt with gloves. And I realize I would have been cold for a few miles, but I probably would have been fine in short sleeves and shorts with the gloves. Eventually. I wasn’t pushing pace at all, and I was doing what I could to make it so that when I did my Thanksgiving course at the end of the run, I could head straight home. The cooler weather was nice, but I did feel overdressed after a time. I rolled up my sleeves halfway through the run. I did practice my fueling…and I definitely have that dialed in for race day. YAY! And I felt strong, even on the super hilly back half of this run. I finished it up, feeling confident about the race four weeks from yesterday. Honestly, I’m as ready as I’m going to be. Now it’s just a matter of taking care of myself through taper. I’ve been a bit sluggish the rest of today…but aside from that, feeling good. Happy that taper has officially (for real this time) started! YAY!
Bonus Sunday inspiration was Kipchoge’s world record 1:59:40 marathon finish on Saturday…and Sunday was also the 6th Anniversary (to the day) of me running my first marathon and getting my BQ. I hope it serves for further inspiration and motivation as the weeks wrap up and I head into my 16th marathon.
I have no idea what my week will look like, save for a half marathon on Saturday of this coming week. I anticipate that I’ll be told to take this one easy and not push the pace. And that’s fine by me. I’d like to just cruise a half marathon because I’m tired. I’ve had some pretty crazy weeks these past two weeks, and I’m ready to start seeing some downtime.
Who else is happy to hit taper time? Anyone else running Urban Bourbon next Saturday?
Me crossing the finish line at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben – Indianapolis, IN
Race: Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben
Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date: October 5, 2019
Friends…I am 21 SECONDS away from matching my half marathon PR (which I set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014). That’s…that’s ONE HILL. Do you know how thrilled I am to see this time? To know that I’m 22 seconds away from a new PR (hey, a 1 second PR is still a PR)?! I am ecstatic!!
And shocked. This is my second fastest half marathon to date. It’s been over 3 years since I even came close to my PR.
This is HUGE!
I apologize right now for all the bold, italics, caps lock, and exclamation point abuse!
Let’s take the deep dive into this race, shall we?
Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben
This story starts…on Friday. Friday’s are complete rest days for me. I hadn’t been sleeping well this past week, which sucked, but my sleep was a bit better Thursday night into Friday morning. Not great…but better. I got up, showered, finished packing, and started to prep my overnight oats (I’ve been eating these prior to long runs all summer, so why stop now?) to take with me to Indianapolis for race morning. I put those in the fridge, finished getting ready for work, and went into the office for 6 hours. Arrangements had been made to leave at 2:30 pm, head to Dragon King’s Daughter (because my magic sushi had to happen prior to a race for sure and I had a cooler in the car to keep it through the drive), and hit the road. We were about 30 minutes away when I realized I had left my prepped overnight oats in the fridge at work. UGH! So, Cathy and I said we’d find a grocery store to find something comparable when we got to Indy.
The drive was uneventful. We listened to Meb Keflezighi on the Ali on the Run podcast for most of the drive. Great listen, by the way. It’s part of the “You Can Run a Marathon” series that she put together. It was a funny, inspiring listen and it got us pretty much all the way into the greater Indianapolis area. We rolled into our hotel, checked in, dropped stuff…I put sushi into the fridge in the room…and we headed out to hit up the race expo.
The expo itself was small (probably good from a financial standpoint), but very well organized. Finding packet pickup was easy and I quickly was able to retrieve both my packet (bib and quarter zip) and my friend Kelly’s (she couldn’t get off work early and was going to drive up in the morning) packet for the half marathon. Cathy went and got her 5K packet before we stepped into the small merchandise area. She bought me a hoodie from the race. YAY. And that was all we did. We left to head to the Fresh Thyme (for some pre-made overnight oats, cashew butter, and waters) and then Noodles & Co. (because Cathy needed a night before the race fuel too), before heading back to the room to eat while watching, what else?, the traditional Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.
“Magic Sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter – Gluten Free Green Acres & Gluten Free Spicy Tofu Rolls
Cathy went to shower after we polished off our respective dinners, and I got down to stretching and foam rolling. Lights out was just before 9 pm. And, my newfound insomnia kicked in again. WEEEE! I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and didn’t get much sleep…yet again. UGH! That sucked. I switched off the first alarm I set because I was able to get up and not have to wake up anyone else because…I WAS ALREADY AWAKE. I got back into bed for another 45 minutes, but no rest was coming. Apparently I was going to run on fumes. YAY.
The temperature outside on race morning was a brisk 47 degrees. This was really the first morning of cold weather any of us were experiencing. I decided to race in the outfit I wore in the Glass City Marathon, and would likely be wearing again at Monumental. Arm warmers and everything. Cathy had a bit more of a dilemma…because 40s are hard to dress for. Sleeves are good, but sometimes you warm up fast. Short sleeves might not be enough. She opted for sleeves. We ate some breakfast (she brought oatmeal from home), finished getting ready, and then headed out the door to drive up to the giant parking lot prior to the half marathon and 5K.
Makeshift pre-race breakfast of Brekkie, Julie’s Cashew Butter, and Purely Elizabeth Granola (I brought that form home)
Kelly was there bright and early, so when we parked she made her way to the car while Cathy got out the trash bags she brought for extra warmth. I handed off the packet and zip to Kelly, who was excited she was actually getting one of the jackets, before she went to drop it in the vehicle. She was just in shorts and a tank (calling herself a human furnace)…and I was cold just looking at her. HA! She returned to the car and the three of us made our way over to the staging area near the start line. There were some nice fires going, and we tucked in to attempt to stay warm. Cathy went to drop her bag at Bag Drop, and we were just killing time now. I did drink my Maurten 160 Drink Mix 30 minutes prior to the start, per the usual.
Staying warm pre-race around the fires
As the start of the race neared, we did meander over toward the start corrals, where we met up with Elizabeth (another member of the MRTT/SRTT Southern Indiana Chapter), took some pictures, and then wished each other luck. I was in Corral B, Elizabeth in C, Kelly in D…and Cathy was in the 5K corrals, so she was able to at least take some photos, video, and cheer at the start of the half.
The 1:40 pacers were in my corral and lined up near me. I was to run this one at MARATHON PACE, so I wasn’t paying any attention to that. It was a cool, crisp morning, and after the elites and first corral were sent off…we were moved up. Cathy actually got a nice video of me starting, though she didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, she was waiting for the corral after that. Oh well. That’s what happens sometimes.
Elizabeth, Me, Kelly, & Cathy
The 1:40 pacers were fantastic, especially Troy, as he gave a lot of helpful advice to those who were running with him as we started out. And it was a good reminder that we still had a long road ahead. The first part of the race was a slight downhill…so I let gravity work it’s magic there. We were off, and I was feeling surprisingly good.
The first two miles of this race were a nice, relaxed, gentle downhill. My legs were feeling rested and good and they were on the move. Mile 1 rolled by quickly, and as we hit Mile 2, we were already inside the Fort Harrison State Park. It was as we headed into Mile 3 that we hit the first monster hill in the race. It’s funny, when you look at my splits you can see the 2 giant hills that you have to tackle in this run. But this one was early and my legs were fresh with some bounce. And I just bounded up it and kept going.
The next few miles were rolling hills and flats. And they were enough to just sort of keep your legs guessing and feeling good. The volunteers at the water stops were phenomenal, cheering loudly for the runners as they came through the aid stations, and just being really encouraging. I was still feeling good as I hit the 10K mark, knowing that I was ahead of my marathon pace, and hearing my mind tell me that if I slowed down, it was okay. But I wasn’t going to make myself slow down. We had perfect race conditions and I was rolling. I took out one of the Maurten 100 Gels (the new one with some caffeine) and managed to take it without slowing down much. There were no trash cans, so I held onto the wrapper until I spotted one, about a mile later.
When you accidentally run your second fastest half marathon
We were routed into a little round about of a parking lot, looped and came back out on the other side. Just after Mile 7, we crossed a grassy path and onto a bike path (the Harrison Trace Trail) for the back half of the run. While this was a bike path, it never doubled back on itself, so it didn’t feel crowded or cluttered. In fact, I felt like I had plenty of room to stretch my legs and push myself.
Just after Mile 8, we hit a HUGE downhill. I love downhills, but I wasn’t expecting the drop that this one had. Luckily, downhill is my favorite speed and I adjust very well to it. My footing found itself and I easily rolled back into my pace. It was just after this point that I removed my gloves and tucked them into my hydration pack. It was starting to warm up, and every time I thought I could take off the arm warmers, a cold wind would sweep up, and I’d keep them off.
Finishers: Me with the Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal & Cathy with her 5K Finisher’s Medal (love the leaf!)
After Mile 10, where I took another (non-caffeinated) Maurten Gel 100, we hit the largest hill on the course. It was one of those that starts up, levels off, then continues to go up. This was my slowest split of the entire race. It felt good to get to the top, but now my legs were definitely feeling the fatigue of the speed of the race. Just after Mile 11, we ducked back across that grassy path and onto the road, heading back toward start of the race (also the finish, obviously).
It was at Mile 12 that the 1:40 pace group caught up to me. And this entire time, in my head, I am reminding myself that I’m not running for a PR…I’m running Marathon Pace. I knew I was way ahead of that, but I still felt good, despite that late, monster hill. I ran right with them as Troy told his runners to skip the final water stop and keep rolling. As we got halfway through the mile, Troy started to talk runners in…take some deep breaths. He said they were easing back on pace, so as not to blow people out so close to the end (they were just slightly ahead of the time on his back)…and I kept going. And I picked it up a little as I started to make the final turns to head toward that finish line. I felt amazing. And I crossed, still feeling good. I stopped my Garmin, collected my medal, and then finally pulled the wrist band away from the watch face to look at my time. And I about died.
Finish Line Drinks: Cathy had the beer and I had the kombucha
It was my second fastest half marathon since I started running half marathons. My two top times are on hilly courses. How about that? I mean, I hate hills. Cathy came over and she was all, “YOU KILLED IT!” And I did. I killed it DEAD. And I still felt good (which was also good because I had another 13 miles to run the following day with more speed thrown in).
We decided to go and check out the cookout that the race offered, ducking in. There wasn’t really anything for me (food allergy queen), but Cathy snagged a piece of Jockamo’s pizza and a cookie. She went and purchased a beer and got me a local kombucha (which…was delicious!!). She ate and we went to go walk around, but had to stay in the little (and it was little) picnic area (we weren’t sitting in the tent) with our drinks (even though mine was NOT alcoholic). So, she chugged her beer and I drank what I could of my kombucha but I was fresh off a fast half marathon and chugging something didn’t sound appetizing…and I was freezing…so I didn’t want to stand there any longer.
Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with Cajun Dusted Tater Tots from Woody’s Library Restaurant
We made one more pass through the official merchandise…and I was tempted to get the finisher’s shirt with the names on the back (mine was on there)…but ultimately walked away from it. I was happy with the hoodie that Cathy got me (she had to buy it as it said “Finisher” on it). We made the drive back to the hotel where I took a shower and dried my hair while she packed up everything. We headed to Carmel, Indiana (a short drive) to catch lunch at Woody’s Library Restaurant (where I got the Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with a side of the Cajun Dusted Tater Tots). Then, we headed over to the Indiana State Fair Grounds because…Half Price Books was having a BIG clearance sale, where all books were $2 or less. Amazing.
We left after a couple of hours and a lot of texting with my dad. Road work delayed our return to the Louisville area, but we finally made it home. Still without groceries. I ended up making popcorn for dinner and then heading to bed. And not sleeping well again.
Finish Line feels at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben
My experience at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben was amazing. I can’t wait to run it again next year. Hopefully more of my friends can join me!! It was definitely much better running weather than what the large group of over 100 MRTT/SRTT ladies dealt with at the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon had the week before. Kind of glad I opted for this one.
My official results of the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben are that I finished in 1:39:13, which, as I previously mentioned, was a mere hill, or basically 21 seconds off of my PR time from 2014). This race proved something very important to me…that I can still push the pace for 13.1 miles. With all the times I have doubted my body, my ability, and mentally let myself check out, I felt strong and capable this entire race…even the two hills that messed up my fast splits. HA! I was 156/1726 finishers overall. I was 24/851 female finishers. And I was 6/138 in my age division. Guys, my age division is SUPER competitive…always. This race was no different. But this rank…is beyond what I thought I could accomplish here. If you need a fall half marathon on your radar…put the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben on your radar!
Whew. I was hoping for the weeks to feel a little less daunting and less of a grind, since I hit that last 20+ miler last weekend. But, apparently, my coach had other plans for this week. I warned you…he’s very nontraditional when it comes to the taper. That being said, I was expecting some room to breathe, so when I woke up Monday morning to my schedule (I go to bed before children go to bed…and sometimes I don’t have my schedule Sunday night before I go to bed…and this week, it came through 2 hours after I had already gone to bed), I was a little bit surprised. I wasn’t thrilled with it…but I know there are methods to what my coach prescribes me in these weeks leading into my goal race…so I put my trust in him.
Take a deep breath…we’re diving right in.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
I knew with every run this week having some sort of speed component in them, I really needed to pay attention to those that instructed me to run a base pace, or easy, and do exactly that. My Monday morning run is generally the same every week. So the fact that I didn’t have my schedule prior to going to bed wasn’t stressing me out at all. The only addition to this week’s Monday run was the inclusion of the strides at the end. This run went well. I kept things controlled and easy for 7 miles. I had been struggling in Florida with any sort of speed, and despite the heat and humidity, I managed to turn out some decent strides without feeling bad about my effort. I did my additional hip strengtheners during my stretches that morning. And I met with Corey, who did a full-body workout with me outside…which was insane and challenging. Let me tell you, I was still feeling it two days later. I did put in extra time that evening (after some further meal prep) to stretch and foam roll.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
Welcome to Day 2 of some sort of speed element in my running this week. Let me tell you, I run 6 days a week, and 5 of them included something that involved speed. This is my nightmare. BUT…at least he gave me my favorite of the speed workouts he throws at me – Mona Fartleks. If you’re an avid reader, you’re very familiar with these by now. If you’re just joining me on this journey…here’s how these work: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. I felt really good during the actual workout…but I had a few bumps in the road. Not literally. First of all, there was a woman riding around on her electric scooter with a mean, yappy dog VERY early in the morning. And it was barking and coming at me, and at one point within my first mile, decided to chase me (there was no avoiding her), and it ripped the leash from the lady’s hand (and the handle cover off her scooter) and made for a very awkward situation and way to start. I actually paused for a few minutes to let them scoot on away so I could, possible, stop encountering them along the way. I don’t have a track (and it is currently WAY too warm to wait until the evening to do the track workouts with the local running store), so I do these on the road. And for a bunch of these intervals, I need to cross a main road. And this week…there happened to be a LOT of traffic at the time I chose to run. This rarely happens, but it does make me mad when it does. That being said, I did power through the intervals. The fast mile was a struggle because my legs were getting really tired and the humidity was wearing me out…but I finished it up, did my cool down, and happily went inside. I did my second day (I do 2 days a week usually) of additional hip strengthener moves with my stretches. And, progressively got a little more sore throughout the remainder of the day. That night I did attend Ladies Night at our local running store, which kept me out later than usual, but I got to hang with some amazing friends, which made it worth it.
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.
Welcome to the one and only day this week that DID NOT include some element of speed. Thank goodness I had one. I woke up, still sore from personal training and very glad I didn’t have to push any sort of pace because of that. I got to bed late, but as this was a run for me to choose the distance, I know I wouldn’t go too far, and if the soreness got worse, I would keep it really short. I woke up later than my usual alarm (Thursday would be earlier, so it balances), got dressed, fueled, put on my gear and headed out. It took about 2 miles for my legs to find a rhythm and to not ache as much in the muscles. But they did feel better. I was very mindful of any sort of pain, but as things got easier…the run also progressed. Not with speed. I still kept that down and under control. I have enough speed happening this week…I wasn’t going to put any unnecessary energy into this run. A recovery run did me good though, because I did feel the muscles loosen up and I felt a lot better afterwards. I put in 5 easy miles…which I was thankful I was able to do and that my body allowed me to do that morning. I did my stretches I got from physical therapy YEARS ago (the ones I do every morning and night) twice this morning, as I had a sports massage scheduled for that evening. Corey texted to say he was sick, and very kindly didn’t want to give what he had to me. I was thankful for that. And I think my muscles appreciated an extra bit of time off. The sports massage…was glorious. I went to bed as soon as I got home though…because Thursday was the start of what I considered to be my hell. HA!
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
I barely slept the night prior. I had set an early alarm…for 2:30 am, with the hope of fueling (which isn’t easy on a weekday), getting ready, and heading out the door by 3 am. I did manage all of that, but damn…I was tired. With having spent most of the night tossing and turning, I was not looking forward to doing this run. But, I told myself to just take it easy, gradually ease into it, and just prepare for those final three miles. My legs felt SO much better after the sports massage. Seriously! But I was just fatigued. I had fueled with the Maurten 160 Drink Mix before heading out and had one of their new Maurten 100 Gels with Caffeine on me to take around Mile 9.5 (which I did). It was a hot, humid morning. Every now and again, a bit of a breeze would blow, but I was not enjoying having to squeeze in a half marathon distance on a Thursday. It’s hard for me to do double digits on a work day. It’s hard enough to fit in single digit runs, and since I never sleep well before these double digit ones (they don’t happen often…but when they do…), I know the logistics just stress me out to that point. I made a good effort of keeping those first 10 miles easy. Then, I threw down, the best I could, for those final three miles. They weren’t impressively fast…but they were good enough for the day. The second one had a few more turns than the other two, so it was totally slower than the ones that sandwiched it. But…I got it done. And 13.1 miles later, I was happy to BE done. I showered and stretched and ate a protein-filled breakfast. And I really hoped I would sleep better leading into my rest day.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I did sleep better leading into Friday. That was good. I slept in. I showered. I stretched. I finished packing. I headed out to work. I put in about 6 hours, leaving the office around 2:30 pm. I went and picked up my order of “magic sushi,” loaded it into a cooler and headed up to Indianapolis for the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben. I have never done this race before. But I stopped by the hotel, dropped off bags (and put my sushi into the fridge), went to the expo to pick up packets (I was grabbing my friend’s , went to Fresh Thyme (I left my pre-race breakfast at the office in my rush to leave, so I found a good replacement with Brekki Blueberry Overnight Oats, Julie’s Real Cashew Butter (coconut vanilla bean flavor), and some waters for the room and pre/during/post race things. Then we hit up Noodles & Co. so Cathy could grab herself dinner before we returned to the hotel, turned on Food Network to watch Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, and eat dinner. I stretched and foam rolled, then…stayed up until about 9 before calling it a night.
Saturday: INDY HALF MARATHON AT FORT BEN AT MARATHON PACE
Okay…let me be the first to admit that I ran this WAY faster than marathon pace. But, it was 47° outside. And while I had another restless night…I was feeling good. I connected with Kelly first thing in the morning when we got to the giant parking lot they parked us in. So we hung out before the race, which was fun. I don’t get to hang with friends ahead of a race very often. With the fall air here, the bon fires at the start were nice and we hung there until we had to get into our corrals. I will do a full race report on this, but let’s just say this…I felt strong for the entire run, even on the giant hills. I knew I was running well because the 1:40 pacer was behind me the entire time. And in my head, I kept reminding myself that my goal isn’t to PR…it’s to run a race at marathon pace. The pacers in that group were phenomenal and while I didn’t run with them, I went and thanked them after the race itself. I would go back and run this one again in a heartbeat. Great race. And I am only 21 seconds off of a new PR in this distance. Knocking on the door of a breakthrough. After the race, I showered, packed up, went to Woody’s Library Restaurant for lunch, grabbed some goodies at the gluten-free bakery up the way, went to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Half Price Books Clearance Sale (books were $2 and under), before heading home. It was a lot of time in the car post-race and I did stiffen up some. Got back and swung by the office to grab the breakfast I was supposed to have from the office so I could have it on Sunday, ran into Melissa, Paul, and Carrick. Talked for a bit. then went to get wheat we came for, returned home, didn’t unpack, just changed into pajamas, stretched, foam rolled, made popcorn, watched Top Chef…and went to bed.
Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END
UGH. I didn’t sleep well leading into Sunday morning either. UGH! What’s up with these restless nights? Is it the change in the weather? I need it to stop now, please. I actually got up a few times, but nothing seemed to really work. I eventually through my comforter over me, and that helped for a bit. Maybe I need a weighted blanket. But what this did leave me with was very little motivation to do this workout today. I wasn’t feeling it at all. I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and not move. But, I eventually got up, stretched, fueled, got my stuff together, put on sunscreen, got dressed and got out the door. I kept those early miles easy. I wasn’t loving the return of the 70° weather this morning. Or the humidity. But I think it’s going away after today. The first 8 miles felt harder than they were. My legs were tired from the race the morning before. The last 5 miles that I pushed pace were trash. Honestly, they were the hardest in a long time. And, because I’m dumb, I used my hilly Thanksgiving course for the last 5 miles, which made it even harder to push that fast pace. I was dying. It was a HUGE struggle bus. But I just took it for what it was. I ran too fast yesterday and that was reflected in my performance today. I wrapped it up, hoping for a bit of a break in the workouts next week. I don’t want speed every day again. I really don’t. I’m also going to be out late because I’m seeing Dear Evan Hansen tonight. So, tomorrow should be interesting.
And that’s how I taper, I guess. I run really fast for 5 out of 6 days of training. And I’m sure the workouts aren’t done yet. That’s just how my coach does “taper.” And I trust him. With my performance at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben, his methods are working. But, dammit, I want to sleep, and feel rested, and maybe have a week to breathe.
A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast! I had a blast talking to Stephanie and sharing part of my story (I feel like I could have gone on for at least another hour…but I also like to talk). Anyway…please go give it a listen. And be sure you share, like, subscribe and leave a review for the podcast itself.
You can check it out below…or search on your favorite podcast platform!
And thanks again, Stephanie!
“Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady Karen Brady, aka The Celiathlete, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 30. After some trial and error, and help from a Registered Dietitian, Karen was able to find the nutritional solutions to help fuel her greatest passion: running. Not only has Karen learned to live […]
Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN
Race: Geist Half Marathon
Place: Fishers, Indiana
Date: May 19, 2018
Time got away from me on this race recap as we are almost one month removed from it. My apologies. Marathon training is back in full swing (again)…and I’ve just been busy. Even on weeks that haven’t had a stacked training plan. Hey…I do have an actual job (if I could make a living is a blogger…that would be amazing, but it’s not my destiny) and some obligations that happened between then and now. But…here I am…finally getting this written up.
I will preface it with this…going into this race, being only weeks off of a full-on marathon where I attempted (and almost hit) a BQ race, my coach and I agreed to use this one as a training run. No pushing the pace. Keep it easy. And with the humidity and weather trending the way it was for Saturday morning, I was relieved that this was our decision. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…
Let’s start on Friday evening, after leaving work around 2-ish to head up to Fishers, Indiana to get to the expo and pick up race bibs. I say bibs, because once again, Cathy was taking a spin at the 5K. We did hit some traffic jams, of course, but we finally arrived and I was ready to get my race stuff and do a quick walk through of the expo (it’s tiny…honestly) before checking into the hotel just up the way.
The expo was simple to explore. You can do the first part of it as you enter St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital. There are a few vendors, but nothing that I, someone from out of town, really needed to stop and check out. So, Cathy and I maneuvered ourselves to the back of the room to the table set up for packet pickup. I went to get my bib for the half, and Cathy went to get her special VIP bib for the 5K. We don’t remember her signing up for VIP…but she had VIP. So…who knows. After that, we checked out the second half of the expo, simply walking past the booths, heading to the room near where we entered to pick up our race shirts. The 5K was short sleeve. The 10K was short sleeve. The half marathon…long sleeve. It’s an April race…if it’s not the really cool hoodie thing that I got last year…I want short sleeves. But, the shirt was very nice…so I won’t complain.
That was it for the expo. We were in and out in about 5 minutes and heading up the street to the hotel we stayed in last year. Check-in took a bit longer than usual, because someone was checking in bunch of different people in different rooms (not sure for what, but it wasn’t for the race). But eventually I got up to the front desk and got our room, up on the 2nd floor. We hauled our luggage up to the room and now were waiting on our friend, Greg, to meet up with us so we could grab dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant (my new favorite place to grab food when in Indy). It was taking a bit longer than expected because…traffic…so Cathy and I split a Clara Cookie that I had picked up at the Glass City Marathon expo in Toledo. It was the Peanut Butter one. And it was delicious. And it was perfect to keep the tummy rumbles at bay while we waited for Greg.
Pre-race Dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN: Spinach Mushroom Tacos with Sweet Potato Fries
He did finally make it and we headed down to see him, somehow missing him when we walked through the lobby. We ended up doubling back and finding him. Hugs all around before making the drive from Fishers to Carmel, Indiana to eat dinner. We ended up finding a really good parking spot and were seated immediately at a corner table.
I had looked at menus online, so I was prepared and ready to go with my order. Greg got the Triple Grilled Cheese and a beer. Cathy got the Friday special of Fish & Chips (her favorite), and I got Spinach Mushroom Tacos. I didn’t ask for extras or for hot sauce, because with the race the following morning, I was hoping to keep things mild. With it, I got a side of the sweet potato fries (which are gluten free!). We spent the time waiting on the food (it did actually take awhile, but they were PACKED that night) chatting and catching up on things that we had been up to. And when food arrived, we dove in. Tacos, however, are one of those foods that once you pick it up to eat…you’re committed and you just have to keep going on it. So the tacos disappeared first…then I hit up the fries. We all seemed pretty satisfied with our meals. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to hang out. I did some foam rolling. Greg left after a bit more talking and we got ready to get some rest with a 7 am start time staring us down.
Cathy feeling good on race morning for the Geist 5K
I always set two alarms for race morning. I got up with the first one to take a pill…use the bathroom, then crawled back into bed for another hour. The second alarm went off, which is also Cathy’s alarm. We’re actually really good about staying out of each other’s way…letting each one have a turn in the bathroom, and getting ready pretty quickly. We have this race morning thing down. So even early start times aren’t too stressful.
With the way the morning was heating up already, I went with the new Boston crop top that my friend Natalie got me as a gift for finishing Glass City in Toledo (even without the BQ). I love this crop. It’s motivation in and of itself. And…shorts. My compression sleeves were pink to honor my mom’s continuing battle against breast cancer. I made sure I had two Nuun tablets in my hydration pack’s bladder to help balance out electrolytes, because it was definitely going to be a sweaty race.
Loving my new crop top that Natalie gave me…my outfit for the Geist Half Marathon
We left the hotel room early, but I forgot to grab something and had to go back in. Cathy went down to the lobby without me, where she met a runner celebrating her birthday. Her name was Katie, and not only was she a Disney runner, but she was Bib 34, celebrating her 34th birthday. AMAZING!! She was super nice and I actually ended up running into her again as she and her family were headed to the hotel pool as I was heading up for a shower and to pack up to head out for lunch and then get home.
Cathy loves parking at the school which used to host the expo for this race. We never have trouble finding a spot. And while it is a bit of a hike down to the start line, it is never hard to get to and from the parking area so we can get back to the hotel without any stress. So…worth it. We parked and made the walk toward the start area. I got a text from my friend Jay, and I went and met him at the Fishers Running Club tent. But, like I said…start time was 7 am….so while their club was getting their photo taken, I meandered down to check out the start line. It was about this time that I realized that I had left my fuel (save for the Generation UCan I had for 20 minutes before the start) back in the hotel room. I had enough UCan to get me through a half marathon…but with the heat, I wasn’t sure if I would need backup or not. So, I was bummed. Big time! Whoops!
Why am I so happy? No pressure pace race!
The 10K and Half Marathon start on the right of the line. The 5K starts to the left. So, after snapping a couple of photos, Cathy and I parted ways: she went to line up in the 5K corrals and I went to find a spot at the start for someone who wasn’t racing. I was hoping for at least a 1:50 half…so I stood near that pacer. The National Anthem was sung…and the lyrics were flubbed, but we were close now to the start. I took in some water and readied myself for a training run with a medal at the end.
I made a point to stay just in front of the 1:50 pacer in the first mile. There were a lot of people going all-out, full throttle from the start, and I really think this worked against them that morning. The emcee announced that it was the hottest Geist Half Marathon to date!! So, holding back I think helped me not have burnout, like I did last year when I just gunned it at the start and then ended up having walk breaks at water stops. I don’t think walk stops are a bad thing, but when you’re gunning for a PR…it’s not exactly something you usually incorporate.
Cathy and I pre-race…she’s about to head to the 5K side and I’m about to line up for the Geist Half Marathon
This year…I was supposed to keep the pace easy…and treat this as a training run. Mostly because I was fresh off a marathon. In the end, this tactic seemed to work for me. I never really felt awful at all. And I was able to run the entire time. Was it my slowest Geist Half Marathon to date? You better believe it! Am I okay with that? You better believe it.
I continue to come back to Geist, despite the heat and hills (dear, God, are there ever hills!), because of the atmosphere. It’s stunning. The race runs you through gorgeous neighborhoods, starting at the corner you turn soon after hitting Mile 1. The people who live there come out with speakers and with treats and with sprinklers and with sidewalk chalk and cheer and encourage. And it just makes you feel good. You belong there. The 10K and Half Marathon stick together for about the first 3 miles. Just before that Mile 3 marker, 10K runners are instructed to go left, while Half Marathoners are told to keep going straight. This year, I was running near a young man who had his headphones in, wearing a 10K shirt and bib…and didn’t hear the instructions. So, it seemed he was getting himself into more than he was ready for. He was yelled at by volunteers at least 5 times. THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HEADPHONES IN A RACE. Or, if you must, keep that volume at a reasonable level, okay?
This is the point where we cross the reservoir again (we do it the first time as we head out from the start). I love this part because it’s gorgeous, but also because there is usually a nice breeze coming off the water. Love it.
The halfway point came and went. I would normally fuel at this point…but I was just relying on that superstartch to get me through the heat. I still felt good, mostly because I wasn’t really pushing any sort of pace…wanting to just keep my momentum moving forward without stressing over a goal time. There were plenty of water stops along the way, and some cooling stations as well. If there was water being sprayed at any point, you better believe I was running through it. I used the water stops to grab the cups of water and pour them over my head. Every stop. Without fail. Trying to keep that core temperature down. This worked. Honestly.
Me running to the finish of the Geist Half Marathon
From everything to remember on this course, I always remember that Mile 9 is a giant hill that we have to run up. I passed a few people on this, who had shuffled to the side to walk up it. I gave a couple of people a “nice job” as I jogged my way up. Hills are a MAJOR struggle for me. So why do I do this race? It’s my PR race. On a harder course. So…one day, maybe it will all click again. It wasn’t that day though. Nope. Not that day. Not in that heat. At the bottom of the hill, we make a turn to head back toward the bridge to go back over the reservoir and then back into the neighborhoods and then back to the finish line. It was at this point, a man behind me said, “Are there any more hills?” The volunteer stationed there said, “I don’t know…maybe little ones?” I laughed. Out loud. The last 3 miles are basically retracing the start of the race. People were still out cheering, offering orange slices, water, whatever runners might need. More importantly were those who would shout out that you were getting close…that the finish line wasn’t far…that we looked strong. Some people who were struggling, they would ask if they needed anything. Honestly. THE BEST.
Me crossing the finish line at the Geist Half Marathon
As I was making the turn at Mile 12, I passed my friend Jay. He told me I “looked strong” and I decided to give picking up the pace a shot. The road to the finish line always seems long, but as you get close, you get the crowd and you get the announcer. I passed a few people. Got passed by some people. But, ultimately, entered that chute and ran towards the finish line. I saw Cathy on the sideline and she started screaming at me to cheer me in. With hands held up…I finished the race. Another Geist Half Marathon in the books.
Cathy made her way over to the finishers area, and had me stand under the spray of a cooling station there. It was nice and felt really good. Jay found me as we were leaving to head up to the VIP area for Cathy to grab free beer and some snacks. He invited me to stop in at the Fishers Running Club tent for any sort of refreshment. I took him up on that before we went to get official results and let Cathy have one more go at the VIP area. I have videos on my cell phone of her first go-round in the VIP section. HA!
Cooling off at the cooling station
I went to get my results printed and after the paper was handed to me, I glanced at it and went, “Holy crap. Third in my age group!” For the first time…without trying or even racing…I once again placed in my age group. This was becoming a fun trend. I went to the awards table next door and was handed a little cinch bag with the words “Age Group Winner” on it. I always have use for bags…but this one would have to be on display. We then went back to the VIP section…Cathy went in for beer and fruit and I hung out on the curb near the gated off area. We chilled for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the hotel room so we could cycle through showers and head back to Carmel to grab lunch at…yep…Woody’s Library Restaurant again.
So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:49:06. It was my slowest Geist Half Marathon yet…but I felt good throughout it, never really fading. That’s a testament to Generation UCan if you ask me. So, I was 104/942 finishers overall! I was the 18/450 women to cross the finish line. And I was 3/87 people in the my age division! How ironic is it that I finally snagged an age group award on my slowest finish time for this race? In 2014 (my PR year), I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th. In 2018, I was 5th. Nailed it. Somehow. Without trying.
And yes…I can’t wait to have another spin around the reservoir next year!
Unexpected Age Group Award at the Geist Half Marathon
Crossing the finish line at the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon – Lexington, KY
Race: Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon
Place: Lexington, Kentucky
Date: March 30, 2019
You remember (probably not, but throwing it out there anyway) how last year I said I was going to return to the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon? Well, I was certainly good on my word. Prior to my blog even being posted last year, I was already registered to run in 2019. And at the end of March…it was time to go.
A couple of things though…
Remember that knee bruising I had from my fall at the beginning of March? Well…that was better. The problem was…the week of this particular half marathon, my knee started to really be painful when I was out running…but mostly just when I would go up and down the stairs. You know me. I went into full panic mode and texted my coach. He’s a physical therapist and he told me to rest it up until race day. I did exactly that. Slept in. No spin. No weights. Rest. So, essentially, I took off Thursday and Friday. The race was Saturday. And though this, I felt like my knee…SORT OF felt better. A little. It still twinged whenever I went down or up the stairs (more so up), but for the most part…better. So that was a good thing. I guess?
I had to work a half day on Friday, and left the office just shortly after eating my lunch. It was something simple. Soup, I think. It isn’t important. I had snacks packed for the car to have prior to going into the expo. And my roommate (who was participating in the Yearling, which is 3.65 miles, on Saturday morning) and I got into the car and started to make our way to Lexington.
Picking up my race bib
The trip was easy and this time we didn’t take the weird back way that put us on some of the course. This was direct to Keenland. And I was ready to get my bib and shop the expo. That, in and of itself, is dangerous, because I tend to throw away a lot money at this particular race expo. The swag is just that good!! I ended up getting my bib at the first little stand (my number was in the 1000, so I was in the first wave) and then proceeded to look at all the merch, ended up purchasing a cute sweatshirt and the official Run The Bluegrass Ponya Band (I did the Ponya Band last year too), and then tapped out to head into the actual expo part and peruse the booths. I had come in 13th in the Director’s Challenge, so I had a few prizes to pick up as well, including some free socks at one of the booths in the back. I got my official race shirt, then the upgrade to the really nice race jacket with the heat sheet inside (SO HAPPY). And then decided I had done enough damage for the day and went back up front to snag the rest of my Director’s Challenge swag (ear buds, Road ID gift certificate, gloves, and a couple of other nice things). I ran into a couple of friends and then we went to drive into Lexington to stop into Ethereal Brewing to pick up the glass I won in the Director’s Challenge. Cathy was very tempted to get a beer, and spotted one that looked interesting, but decided against it. I boooooooed her for that decision. But we needed to hit up the hotel, drop stuff off, and relax before meeting up with our friends Ron & Shawn Steve for dinner at Bella Notte (of course).
Upon arriving at the hotel and starting to unload our luggage, Cathy realized that we didn’t have the cooler with us (the one she moved off the kitchen counter and set by HER luggage) that had my fuel, my BCAAs, my snacks…all the things. THIS…was a HUGE problem.
I might have shouted at her for a long time about it. And instead of relaxing in the hotel, we now had to head into Lexington and attempt to find fuel for the half marathon tomorrow. The problem being, most places don’t sell my fuel of choice, UCAN. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE carries it in stores. We first went to a sporting goods store, and all they had was Sword. I don’t use Sword and have only used it in a half marathon I was pacing as fuel. And while I had no issues with it…I was trying to put some effort into this race. No good. We were getting close to dinner time, but we spotted a Vitamin Shoppe, so we took a chance and pulled in there. They had less options for me to really use. But we looked around. Lots of electrolytes but nothing that was actually good for me to use as fuel.
We left emptyhanded from there too, and I was in full-on pissed off panic mode. But dinner time was nigh, so we pulled into Bella Notte just minutes before Ron and Shawn showed up. It was perfect timing. No reservations were being taken, but we had no problems getting seated. They no longer have a separate gluten free menu, but I know what I always get here. And this was no different. Ron got the lasagna, both Cathy and Shawn got the Spaghetti & Meatballs, and I got…the Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata. It came with a salad ahead of it…so I got that minus the croutons and with the balsamic.
Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata from Bella Notte in Lexington, KY
We ate, we talked work, life, and racing (of course). It was sometime in the restaurant that Daniel, my coach, sent me the race plan for this particular half marathon. To be fair, I don’t think he understood how difficult this course actually is. He wanted me to use the first mile as a warm up, then push for 8-10 miles at a 7:45 pace, then use the rest to either continue that pace or to ease back and use it as a cool down, depending on how I felt. And I might have scoffed and laughed out loud when that text came over my phone. I told him I would try, but made no promises with the hills. He told me it was about effort, not pace. We all still got a laugh though about my race plan. Inside, I think I was starting to panic more than a little. We all passed on desserts and headed out, giving hugs and wishing everyone luck on their races the following morning. Cathy and I had just enough time to swing by John’s Run Walk Shop, hoping to get something to use for fuel. Again, we found a lot of Sword (Sword must be the sponsored fuel of Lexington, Kentucky), but thankfully they had some Honey Stinger gels in there too. I haven’t fueled with Honey Stinger gels in a while, but had in the past…so it was what I had to work with. I bought two of them, plus the Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Waffle. And it was going to have to work. We finally headed back to the hotel so we could cycle through showers and get everything ready for the morning. Stretch. Foam rolling. And eventually get some sleep. Our time was definitely way more constricted now thanks to The Great Search for Runner Fuel.
I love a race where I don’t have to question my wardrobe choices!
The alarm went off that morning and we immediately began to get ready for our respective races. The weather looked perfect for running. It was in the high 50s, so tank top and shorts were the obvious choice. There was a chance for rain, but it was supposed to kick in later on in the day. So, that was a plus. I was supposed to be done long before that kicked in and started. The half marathon started at 9:00. The Yearling kicked off at 8:50. And all the photos were to be done at 8:30 with groups like Mom’s Run This Town/She Runs This Town. I texted my friend Melissa (who was about 5 weeks off of having a baby) and she was here, but down near the start. I wanted to get my pre-race hug she always gives me, so I forwent the official photo and headed down to the start area. And never found her or met up with her. Cathy did run into one of her high school friends though. So at least she got a pre-race hug.
Waiting to see Cathy off for the Yearling at Run The Bluegrass this year!
I walked Cathy into the corral for the Yearling and hung with her there. My friend Michael, who came in from New York to run this, found me there and we stayed there up until we had to clear out so that only Yearling runners were in there. I wished Cathy luck, gave her a hug, and went to wait for Wave 1 to be moved up to the start.
The Yearling was sent off after the singing of the National Anthem…and it was to “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman. Which…I knew Cathy would love. And it turns out…she did.
The wheelchair racers were sent off next. I could not even imagine racing Run The Bluegrass in a wheel chair. The hills in this race as massive and hard enough to run up. More on that later. LOL! Michael and I lined up and wished each other good luck on the race. It is really one of the most stunning and beautiful half marathons around, so I told him to take it in and enjoy it…and if by chance he caught up to me because my race plan wasn’t going well, we could maybe run it in together.
And then we were off…to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Which, for the record, is one of my favorite race pump-up songs. I ran easy (well, I thought it was easier than it actually was, apparently, for that first mile, which takes us up our first major climb. I clocked that one in 7:58…so definitely faster than I anticipated or meant to be for my warm up. Now it was time to kick it and see what I could handle.
Mile 2 and Mile 3 were right on pace. But they were hard. This race has somewhere between 33 and 37 hills (it depends on who you ask), and some are manageable, and some will completely kill your speed. I felt good for those miles, but as I went into Mile 4, my heart rate was really high and I took a walk break. And it pretty much broke me to do that so early in a race. I knew I was now completely off my race plan and, you know how much of a perfectionist I am…it bothered me. A lot. I had been training really well, save for the fall that screwed with my knees, but this…this just destroyed my confidence. I know that this is a difficult course, and tried to keep reminding myself of that, but, dammit…I know I am better than that.
Mile 7 and looking better than I feel! Shoutout to Matthew Faske for the photoshop work!
The next mile I managed to pick it back up. A little. But it did help to see that 7 pace again. I hit it at 7:55…so not in the range he wanted me at, and it was the last 7-something pace I would see that day. Walking the hills became my method of survival. I would run up some of them, but I was being very careful since I could tell my heart rate wasn’t in a good place and I didn’t want to push it. I fueled at the halfway point with my Honey Stinger gel. And I do get the ones with caffeine, but I don’t think it made any difference. My legs weren’t going to wake back up. At least I was running when I went past the photographer around Mile 7. HA! And, thanks to a friend of mine, I got the shirtless thumbs up guy behind me edited out of my picture. YAY!
Mile 9 is the roughest. You hit it just as you start up with hill. This massive hill. And just when you think you are done with it, it turns and goes up some more. This is the infamous S-turn hill…with drums that sort of inform you of your impending doom. This hill did me in and I took the lonest walk break I have had to take just to get up it. And, the entire time, I was just getting madder and madder at myself.
Does anyone else do this?
Snagging a piece of candy on the way to the finish line!
I had a 5K left, and I gave myself the pep talk…that a 5K wasn’t far and that I could do this. And I took only a few more walk breaks in that time, trying to hydrate myself well (I was racing with my hydration pack). I think I did okay with that. It also rained at this point. Yep. Rained. It was brief…but unexpected as ran wasn’t supposed to move in until later than that. I hit the Mile 12 marker and attempted to pick it up again. When you get to 12.1, you go over a mat, and you get timed on your final mile. Some of this does go uphill, and I told myself this one I couldn’t walk. This one I had to run in. And I managed to mentally push myself to do just that. The official results clocked my final mile as a 7:06. My Garmin had me at a 8:59. LOL!!
This time, Cathy did happen to catch me at the finish line and snap some photos. I made sure to snag a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (I can’t eat them, but Cathy can) and high five the race director on the way to the finish line. Did I meet my goal for this race at all? Not even close. I gave up on myself and the plan in really early on. But I needed to take care of me, and that high heart rate had me concerned. I still hate that I walked so much. That being said, I had a strong finish and at least I did finish. So, there is power in that, for sure.
The famous Keenland Starting Gate photo…a requirement at Run The Bluegrass!
I met up with Cathy at the end of the chute. She said she had a really good race, even on her challenging hills, and even took beer at the beer/water stop that we all come across in our respective distances. She does it all. HA! We made our way over to the starting gates to get the required photo inside. I managed to get myself up, but getting down is always an issue. Cathy carried me down like a child…per usual. But this year, she got to understand the struggle as she had to do it too, as she finished the Yearling. Afterwards, I gave her my free beer (she had one of her own ahead of me) and I snagged her a free breakfast sandwich as well before we went inside. My friend Michael finished about 8 minutes behind me and he came to find us. I asked if he got his photo in the gates, and he hadn’t so I took him out to be sure we got him that.
Soon after, I found myself purchasing more stuff at the expo. HA! I bought the most stunning pair of leggings with “Dream Big” on the side and pockets from Bend Active. They are super comfortable too. I snagged the last in my size and couldn’t have been happier about that. You don’t realize how important pockets in leggings are until you need a pocket. They are my favorite pair of leggings I own now.
After that, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and change and we could pack up and head out. Thank God, this hotel had late checkout. We gathered our belongings and packed up the car. We were going to meet up with Michael back in Louisville later for sushi before heading to the Louisville City FC Soccer Game. But the rain had moved in at this point, and sitting out in the cold wet…sounded awful. They ended up postponing the match until Sunday, but Cathy and I had other things going on that day. Michael ended up going Sunday, but we did get him to my favorite Sushi joint…Dragon King’s Daughter, and took him back to his hotel afterwards.
So, my official results of the 2019 Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon are that I finished it in 1:51:14, pretty far off of what I know I am cable of, honestly. Meh. You win some, you lose some, you walk more than you want to on really big ass hills sometimes. I was 233/2635 finishers overall. I was the 53/1660 for women finishers. And I was 12/321 in my age division. So, I mean…not great. But not bad either. This wasn’t the mental boost that I was hoping it would be…but its done. And, yes, I’m already registered for next year. Time to run more hills. For real.
Me at Magic Kingdom on my last night at Disney World with all my race medals from the Disney Princess Fairy Tale Challenge weekend.
It had been over a year since my last trip to Disney World. It felt like so much longer. And a few things were changing this time around. After the bathroom incident during the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, we actually decided to move our “Disney home” from Port Orleans Riverside to…The Art of Animation Resort. It is a “step down” from the resort level of Port Orleans, which, this princess was fussing over, but it wasn’t bad. And, honestly, I’m only in the room to sleep. But still…I sort of did miss the extra space, especially when I was trying to foam roll at night AND watch Food Network at the same time (priorities).
The trip to Orlando meant an early morning to catch the first non-stop flight out of Louisville. This just happened to be on a very wet, rainy, cold morning. Hauling luggage out to the car was not fun, but we got everything loaded in and hit the road. We parked the car (we couldn’t find someone to give us a ride, so we had to pay to leave the car there while we were away) and went in to check our bags (one of the perks of flying Southwest is the free checked bags) and get through security. It didn’t take long to get through that at all, and nothing flagged for the first time in the history of ever. Not even the laptop. I don’t know why I bring my laptop with me. I have good intentions of using it…and then I rarely do. What I didn’t realize was, bringing it this time would be a blessing. More on that later.
Cathy & Me killing time at Louisville Airport before our flight
The flight was uneventful, and we landed in beautiful Orlando to temps in the 70s. LOVE! Our first stop was a nearby Whole Foods. We were going to grab snacks for the resort, and ended up grabbing lunch there as well. I found a Summer Veggie Roll that had a Gluten Free Peanut Sauce with it…so I was quite happy with that selection. I grabbed a tub of watermelon and a Sumo orange as well (which I saved for later). And, of course, water…because I needed to stay hydrated. Cathy snagged a small cup of the Lobster Chowder (she has missed that selection in Louisville), some small cornbread muffins, and a small helping of fried rice and Vietnamese-style chicken.
My Whole Foods lunch
After we ate, we decided that since we still had no word of our room at the resort being ready, we would use the bathroom at the Whole Foods and change into our sundresses and lather up with the sunscreen so we could head over to the parks. We had Animal Kingdom on the schedule. This turned out to be more of a hassle than it was worth, honestly. Cathy had to make multiple trips out to the car to get things out of suitcases and we were taking turns running into the bathroom to change and then slather on the sunscreen. It took way longer than it should have.
BUT…we finally considered ourselves ready for the parks and hopped back into the car and drove to the resort to drop off luggage. We made sure we had our necessary items and headed to the bus stop to get over to Animal Kingdom.
Me at Animal Kingdom
I was so happy to be back at Disney…and the weather was truly stunning!! Our first stop is our favorite place to get Iced Coffee. There was definitely more of a line there than we were used to…especially on a Wednesday, but we waited, placed our order, wasn’t sure which one was mocha and which was vanilla…but we got that sorted ourselves. We drank them as we killed time ducking into shops and the like…before we hit up our FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. I love doing the safari, and our guide was awesome (they are, but she was really fantastic) and the animals…they were really active and on the move. It was probably the most animals and the most activity from the animals I have seen on any trip on the Safari. As we exited, we branched off to the Gorilla walk. I wasn’t happy when we had to walk through the birds. I. Do. Not. Like. Birds.
Me & Cathy with Scrooge McDuck!
We went to grab a quick snack to tide us over to our later dinner reservation…Cathy’s traditional fries. I ate my Sumo orange. And then, as we wandered around, we came across Scrooge McDuck. His line handler, Caitlyn, was amazing. She was so much fun to talk to while we were standing in line. And this was my first time meeting any of the Duck Tales characters. Scrooge was a lot of fun, and Cathy kept trying to get him to go out for an alcoholic drink, but he was strict about his tea. And then we hopped on over to meet Launchpad McQuack next. I told him that I was really good at crashing too. HA! It was fun and we had some great photo ops!
Cathy & Me with Launchpad McQuack!
But then we saw the most amazing addition to Animal Kingdom…KEVIN. Kevin from UP. If you haven’t seen this in person, get to Animal Kingdom NOW. Just book your flight and do it! Kevin is phenomenal. And fun. And SO animated. This encounter spurred an early purchase for Cathy’s traditional Disney plushie purchase – Kevin!
We took a stroll through Pandora and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon wandering and exploring. But our time for our traditional first day at Disney meal was growing near and we hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy some food at Sanaa. We didn’t have to wait long to be seated and we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to eat. Our server was a trainee and he did an awesome job. We both got something to drink with our water, Cathy got the Savannah Cider and I got the lemonade that came with a wildberry foam of some sort. I don’t remember the really cool name that it had…but it was delicious.
We started with the bread service, of which I got three pieces of the gluten-free bread and Cathy got two of the regular naan. We split one of the GF ones and we were off to the races with the different sauces, Cathy being very careful when she would spoon her sauce to not contaminate anything. This is one of my favorite things at Sanaa. For our meals, I went with the Chickpea Wat and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables, which is served with scented Basmati Rice. It’s my go-to every time I am there. Cathy stayed with her favorite offering in the entrees, the Traditional Sosatie, which is Braai Lamb with Apricots, Pap, Spinach, Cashews, and Goat Cheese. It was all very filling and delicious.
Gluten Free Bread Service at Sanaa
Chickpea Wat, Rice, and Cilantro Coconut Vegetables
After eating, we hopped on a bus to head back to Animal Kingdom to catch the bus back to the Art of Animation. We had our room number now and went there to find our bags already in there and ready for us to settle in for the night. I took a quick shower, went to foam roll and we settled in for the night. I set an alarm for me to wake up to because I had a training run to get through before we started our morning.
It’s always an adventure running around The Art of Animation!
And that’s what I did. I forgot how hard it is to run in humidity, which would be a theme for this half marathon weekend for sure. The resort had a great running path around a lake, which was perfect for me to train on. Keeping an easy pace wasn’t hard in the heat/humidity. I finished that off with some strides, returned to the resort, showered, and we went to the dining area at the resort to find something for breakfast. That was a high anxiety and high stress situation and we vowed that would be the ONLY time we did that. Cathy went to order me a gluten free and dairy free omlette, with mushrooms, jalapenos and spinach for me. And since I couldn’t have the biscuit, the chef tossed some fresh fruit onto my plate. It was perfect. We ate and then headed out to the car to head to the Wide World of Sports for…the race expo. It was on the ride over there that my Garmin flashed me a “Sensor Error.” Not sure what it meant, I started to try to figure it out. It was that the sensor…the thing that actually reads elevation and heart rate and all that stuff, was no longer working. I figured I could, hopefully, talk to the Garmin reps at the expo and maybe get it sorted.
Gluten Free Omlette with Mushrooms, Jalapenos, Spinach…and FRUIT!
After all these years, we finally figured out the key to getting official merchandise…turn up at the expo on the first day, go straight to official merch and wait in line. The wait wasn’t that bad and we made friends with the people around us. The line moved pretty swiftly once they started letting us all in…even if at one point it was like all lines went out the window and there was this huge surge toward the front of the line. But we got in and started to shop. I bought WAY MORE than I intended to, but they had Disney Princess Weekend ears that both Cathy and I snagged, plus I needed pins for each race. I fell in love with a wine glass (of course I did) and then all the cute clothes. I had a lot of things I LOVED…but ended up getting the official challenge zip-up. And then Cathy found a cute dress thing that is actually a cover-up for before/after races. Love that. So…over $260 later, I was ready to head over to get my race bibs and then hit up the actual expo.
Official Merchandise Line upon our arrival!
The bibs were easy. This was Cathy’s first time obtaining a Disney race bib. Did I mention that she was doing her first Disney 5K?! Pretty exciting. Our numbers were a good distance apart, so I left her to get hers while I went over to pick up mine. She found me there and the guy was commenting on how I was one of the fast ones…and I said I was dropping back to Cathy’s corral, and he asked her if she was offended by me saying that I was “dropping back” and Cathy said, “NO. Not at all. Because she is definitely not going at her normal speed with me.” From there, we headed over to the actual race expo to get our race shirts and then do some shopping. Which, we didn’t really do. I was upset that there was no Garmin booth there (I mean…HELLO) but remembered that Misfit was the official activity tracker of Disney races. So…I was stuck with a broken watch for my races. Joy and happiness. UGH. That really got me riled up and I didn’t want to spend any time there…but we did make the traditional stop by Bondi Band, where we found two headbands that would work for me. One for my 10K costume…and one for training (for the record…it says “The Before Breakfast Club.” HA!) It was as we were leaving the expo that our friend, Melissa, texted us to let us know that Peter Tork (if you know me, you know of my obsession with The Monkees) had died. And I legit cried right there in the expo. After a few deep breaths, we headed out to start our day at…Magic Kingdom (aka: my favorite park).
Getting my 5K Bib
We had FastPasses for Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train spread out throughout the day. But Haunted Mansion was our first stop, and the FastPass line was INSANE. But it thankfully moved quickly. This is Cathy’s favorite ride by far. We hit up Space Mountain soon after that. And then got Dole Whip (required). We shopped. We walked around. We made our way through the Mine Train queue (also INSANE) and were put in the very back of the coaster. And then…dinner. We went to Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, which our friends Melissa & Paul introduced us to a year ago during Dopey, and we fell in love with the food and the atmosphere. I already knew what I was getting and told Cathy she had to have it too. But first…an appetizer. We split the Falls Family Falafel. And then…for our entrees…the Perkins Thai Noodles (gluten-free and minus the chicken to make it vegan), which is THE BEST thing I have ever eaten on Disney property. For real. Cathy now understood because when she got this last time, she had the flu and couldn’t taste any flavors. We had leftovers, so we boxed those up and headed out, back to the resort, stored those in the fridge and decided they would be post-10K breakfast in a couple days.
Gluten Free Falls Family Falafel
Gluten Free Perkins Thai Noodles
Showers and foam rolling commenced and we turned it in, with me setting an early 2:20 am alarm for us to get up and get dressed and ready for the first race of the weekend: the Disney Princess 5K.
Cathy & Me showing off our Disney Princess 5K Medals!
Disney Princess 5K
Race: Disney Princess 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 22, 2018
The most difficult part of any Disney race weekend is those early morning wake-up calls. Today was probably the least stressful of the three, but instead of just me getting ready, Cathy had to get costumed up as well. Sadly, my original costume, Iron Man, didn’t get assembled in time (I ordered a shirt from I Am A Superhero Fitness Apparel, DO NOT EVER DO THIS…their customer service is the worst, and it wasn’t a match with the leggings, so I contacted them to send it back and get a replacement in time for the race, and never heard from them…at all…after getting the info to return everything…and never received the replacement in time), so I had to break out my Wonder Woman costume for this one. Iron Man, part of the Marvel Universe, owned by Disney, would have worked better…but it is what it is. Cathy, however, was ready to rock her Captain America outfit. And she rocked it. Trust me. She even had light-up Captain America Mickey Mouse ears that our friends, Melissa & Paul, brought back from Disneyland Paris. We finished getting ready and headed out of the room to get to the bus that would take us to the parking lot of Epcot, where the staging area is prior to the race.
Cathy in her Captain America costume for the Disney Princess 5K
We disembarked and walked through security (no bag line…WOOT) and went to see what characters we could get our photos taken with. We managed to hit up Tiana (one of my personal favorite princesses) and Merida. Then we opted to head into the corral area and get to Corral C. We had a long wait being in that corral, so we took a seat and watched the different videos running on the big screen and the earlier corrals parading over to the start line. Cathy pointed out that there were plenty of “overly optimistic” people in those earlier corrals. While the Disney 5K is officially untimed, we both made sure we had our Garmin watches primed and ready for our start. Before we knew it, it was our turn to make the march toward the start line…and it took a few waves, but we got our fireworks and we were off.
Me as Wonder Woman (not the planned Iron Man) for the Disney Princess 5K
Except I was off at my speed and Cathy immediately said, “I don’t go that fast.” HA!! So, I fell back and got moving with Cathy, who proved to be a pro at the Disney cuts through the crowds. I also don’t know how she wasn’t dying in long sleeves and long leggings, but she was holding her own. I did get ahead of her a few times, but immediately would fall back to her side. The morning was humid and warm…the low 70s with humidity in the 90s. MEH. So, honestly, how she wasn’t dying, I will never know. That being said, in that sort of humidity, she did get a bit of a side-stich so we switched to the Galloway Method (run/walk) so that she could have some recovery time. This proved to be a fantastic option, as she walks faster than she runs. Honestly. When we hit the construction workers, she even heckled them right back. Because, that’s Cathy for you.
I would give her little pep-talks, and we ducked into the World Showcase, which now meant we were tackling some hills. It was crowded, but it wasn’t phasing her. I let her choose her walk segments, where it was hard for ME to keep up with her at times. But I made her run the downhills because downhills are my favorite speed. We ducked out of the Showcase and then back in and started to make our way toward Spaceship Earth…which meant we were getting close to the finish. We do have to make this strange turn around thing before heading to the exit. We rounded the corner, and I could see our finish line. I reached back to her to take her hand and we headed toward the finish line. She kept reminding me that my go was a different speed from hers. But, we crossed the finish line! It was awesome. And our official 5K distance was a new PR for Cathy, where she clocked in at 46:26, beating her previous PR by well over a minute. We received our medals and made our way out to get official photos and then get the snack boxes and head back to the resort. We took our turns showering, changing, and snacking before we headed out to spend the rest of the day at Epcot!
We did lots of character stops that day, Pluto, Baymax, Ralph & Vanellope, Elsa, Ana. The Festival of the Arts was going on, so there were plenty of food booths happening. And Cathy decided to forgo her beloved schwarma once again and eat around the world. I already knew my big meal of the day was going to be a Beyond Meat Burger at the Liberty Inn with Celiac-safe fries. I was really looking forward to that.
Cathy & Me with Baymax
Ralph, Cathy, Me & Vanellope
Cathy & Me with Elsa
Me & Cathy with Ana
After we completed our time at Epcot, we headed to Disney Springs and hiked over to Erin McKenna’s to get some gluten-free and vegan goodies. We ended up with a box of delicious baked goodies and then headed back to the Art of Animation to clean up, get things prepped for another early morning, let me foam roll, watch Food Network, and get some rest.
Me dressed as Zootopia’s Judy Hopps for the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Race: Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 23, 2019
Once again, another race this trip where I didn’t get to wear the outfit I originally intended to wear. My original plan was to dress up like Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. I couldn’t find the material to have my friend or my mom work up an actual costume for me (everything was either the wrong type of fabric or not close to the correct color). So…I put it up for a vote on my social media as to which costume I should revisit for the 10K…Vanellope von Schweetz (Wreck it Ralph) or Judy Hopps (Zootopia). Between Instagram and Facebook…Judy Hopps won it going away.
Cathy has a new RunDisney race shirt…and her awesome sign!
This just happened to also be the race that my coach, Daniel, wanted me to really push myself on and race. No problem. Save for the 74 degree morning temperature and the 95% humidity. I knew in this costume I would die racing, but, dammit, that was what I was there to do. So, with a bunch of layers on top, a carrot recorder, a ZPD badge, and a full hair extension piece over the top of my head to make the “bunny ears”…I was as ready as I could be to race this 10K.
Once again, we headed out of the room to get to the bus and settle in for the drive over to the staging area again. We didn’t spend time getting Princess pictures ahead of time this time around. Instead, we went to scope out the spectator area for Cathy. We were stopped by some volunteers and told that it wasn’t open yet. Apparently, according to Cathy, it’s very much like rope drop at one of the parks…pure stampede and elbows thrown to get a spot. She didn’t want to end up not able to see me on the 10K start so, I went to stand in the group waiting to get into the corrals…and soon were let in. I immediately went over to the tables and got some water to attempt to get ahead on hydration. This was one of the few times I raced a 10K with a hydration belt, mostly because I needed it as Judy’s utility belt, but with the heat, I was happy to have a steady source of water if needed.
Me at the start of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was in Corral A for the rest of the challenge weekend, so I wasn’t going to be waiting around for long. I did get into the corral early and moved toward the front before carefully taking a seat (my costume involves a bunny tail…so…yeah). I wasn’t going to waste any energy standing up though. NOPE. I wanted to really give my best to the race itself. And before you knew it…I was heading out of the corral and lining up for the 10K. I was in the second wave to go off…and Cathy actually did manage to catch me as I headed out.
The first part of the 10K is pretty dull. It’s a lot of road. As I started out hard, I passed a group of runners that were staying together and heard one of them say, “I guess she’s not stopping for photo ops.” It made me laugh. Not today. Not this race. This was the one I was supposed to give my all in. At about the second mile, we get sent up a ramp, the biggest hill we face in this race, but I felt strong as I powered up it, giving a mental thanks to my friend Christine, who has been training with me and having us do more hills than I like on our runs. I wasn’t going to look at my splits, but I felt like I was moving fast and strong.
At about Mile 3.5, we duck into the World Showcase (FINALLY) and run around about half of it. This is where it gets fun, because they really do up the park nicely with employees out their cheering, music blaring, and the atmosphere is just different from the road miles. I got a few shout-outs from the employees with “GO JUDY.” I pumped my arm in the air in response. We are directed out of the showcase and are directed toward the Boardwalk. I hate running on the Boardwalk because it can be slippery at times (they actually have an announcement about this as you approach the actual boardwalk). I traversed it safely, yet cautiously, and transitioned back to the pavement, feeling like I was picking it back up.
Runners take the roads back into Epcot, hitting the actual park this time. I got a few more Judy Hopps shout outs and was loving it. I poured a cup of water over my head at one of the water stops and learned that that was a HUGE mistake…because my long hair extensions were now sticking to my arms and driving me crazy. How people who have really long hair and keep it down when they run manage it, I will never know.
I love every race that ends in Epcot because you get to run the light-up path around Spaceship Earth. It’s beautiful when it’s still dark out. I pushed up and around, and worked my way to the park exit, where they send you past some blaring music and toward that finish line.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was so happy to see the finish and as I was running toward it, heard my name announced and everything. As I got closer, I could hear someone approaching from behind, and used my best Kelsie kick (she is WAY better at it than me) to stay ahead of that person and cross with my hands up in the air for victory. I stopped my watch and was SHOCKED when I saw a 48 at the front of my time. I really pushed hard in that race…and didn’t want to feel disappointed by my time…but I felt disappointed by my time and that I really probably could have pushed it a little more and much harder. But I had given my all in the end…the heat and humidity had just taken its toll.
I met up with Cathy at the runner’s reunion area, after having her shout “Hey Fluffbutt” over the wall at me after I got my medal, my snack box, my water, and my official photo taken. I actually did this twice and was glad I did, because the first one was awful. Sometimes you just know. Lines for the princesses weren’t long, so we hopped in to get photos with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Elena, and Cinderella. Cinderella said that she bet Judy Hopps could teach her mice a little more discipline. God, I love meeting Disney characters.
Post-10K race with Sleeping Beauty
Post-10K race with Elena
Post 10K race with Cinderella
We hopped on the bus to head back to the Art of Animation resort where I showered, changed, and then ate cold leftover noodles from Skippers and split one of the GF and Vegan Donuts we got from Erin McKenna’s with Cathy. And then…we were off to spend the day at Hollywood Studios, where I rode Tower of Terror twice, got on Star Tours twice (one time I was FINALLY the spy), checked out the new Toy Story Land, I had my best game ever on the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin (I came CLOSE to Cathy’s score. Usually I suck). And then, we departed Hollywood Studios to head out of the Disney World bubble and hit up Toasted, a gourmet Toasted Cheese place in Orlando. They have Celiac-safe options, vegan options, and safe Rosemary & Truffle Fries. HELLO!! This seemed to be the best pre-half marathon option for me and it was worth the drive (even though then we were informed that they now had a location very close to Disney World). Then…back to the hotel to rotate through showers, foam rolling, Food Network (you know the drill). And then…rest. The half marathon was all that was left.
Oh, but let’s not forget…my official results of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K were that I finished in 48:49. I was 97/12,274 finishers overall. I was 44/10,466 female finishers. And I was 8/1549 people in my age division. So, I mean, it was a really good finish…but I knew I could do better. I wasn’t going to let it disappoint me. I felt like I gave my all that morning.
Ready to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon as Snow White!
Disney Pincess Half Marathon
Race: Disney Princess Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 24, 2019
Final day of early morning 2:20 am wake-up alarms. When you get to the last race in the race series, you are pretty much ready for said series to be over. I was pretty excited about the half marathon because I was given no pace goals, simply to treat it as a training run. My race was the prior day…on the 10K. I love having a no stress race, especially at Disney.
My costume was much easier to get into, so getting ready was a breeze. My nieces (Kaytlynn & Baileigh), decided that I should dress up like Snow White for the half marathon. And thus, my mom created a new top (my old Snow White top was pretty much dead after the Dopey Marathon in 2014), and Snow White was running again. It was another hot and humid morning, but there was a bit of a breeze this time. And that was helpful for sure. Cathy and I headed out to catch the bus right on time, and made it to Epcot without any issues. YAY!! And I had plenty of time to meet up with people I was hoping to meet up with. BONUS!
Meeting up with Tarra before the race!
The problem was, I was the only person from my local MRTT/SRTT group that was in Corral A. The rest were in Corral F and starting later. Meaning…they weren’t going to arrive until later. Stephanie, a friend I met through Instagram, was running as well, but she was in traffic and Corral A was needing to get loaded in. My friend Janelle attempted to find me, but apparently I had already made it to the corral. She was in A…but we never did find each other. BUT…all that being said, I did manage to get hugs, greetings, photos, and some catch-up talk time with a friend of mine from my Elementary/Middle/High School days…who was on my softball team and everything – Tarra. So that was amazing. She and her husband were running the half and we had hoped we would be able to catch up with each other prior to the race. It was the only meet-up that happened for me.
We eventually parted ways and I knew I needed to start making that spectacularly long hike from the staging area to the corrals. It’s a great warm-up and…I didn’t need to sprint it like I did for the marathon during Dopey 2018. Corral A is a bit of a bear to get to though…all the way up and a bit of off-roading. But I got there, got inside, moved up to where I wanted to be, and took a seat. I had a bit of time before things kicked off and I didn’t want to be standing the entire time.
Cathy’s view of Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom
But, soon they were preparing to send the wheelchair racers off. And then…the waves for Corral A. I was in the 2nd wave to take off. The fireworks went off and we were on our way, taking on the dark highway of Disney World, making our way toward Magic Kingdom. It’s a lot of road, a lot of screens and character stops, and a lot of just knowing what awaits you on Main Street inside Magic Kingdom. I didn’t make characters tops, although the lines are never long for me. I wanted to really treat this as a true training run, my only caveat being that I would walk every water stop. I wanted to stay on top of my hydration as the race went on because I hadn’t been running in heat and humidity. It was 20 and below back in Indiana. Around Mile 3-ish, I think, I saw the monorail wing by. I actually wondered if Cathy was on that one, as she skipped the race start to hopefully catch me on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. She has attempted to do this twice before, and I have always beat her to the castle. She said that is the one downside to cheering on a “fast” runner.
Cathy found a prime viewing spot inside Magic Kingdom
I ticked off those highway miles and made it to Magic Kingdom. This is, by far, the best part of this race. You duck inside and make the turn onto Main Street. The crowd is amazing. This is the best part of any Disney race that sends you through Magic Kingdom. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the screaming and waving crowd, there was Cathy! She had a sign, a cowbell, and was filming me as I made my way up Main Street. I gave a wave as I went by and then made the turn to go into Tomorrowland. From there, runners cruise through Fantastyland, then through the castle, before exiting through Liberty Square and out through Frontierland. It’s the best part of the race. I always look forward to the dash through the castle itself and the photographers stationed on the winding path down towards Liberty Square. It’s amazing. But then the cheers and lights fade and you find yourself back out on the roads, making your way back toward Epcot.
There is a lot of highway on this course, but Disney does it’s best with characters and DJs and music. And every mile marker has a different character and a theme song on it, so it is something to look forward to. After Magic Kingdom, you’re halfway through the race.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
The best part, for me, after that is the Green Army Guy, the ones from Toy Story, that is stationed on a hill around Mile 10. You often here him shouting at the runners to get up the hill and other motivation. As I was nearing him, he shouted, “I want to hear you make some noise.” And none of the runners around me did anything. But I’m a good group exercise veteran and I went, “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” And he ran with it. I got a whole call-out just for me. “That’s right Snow White! That’s right, Snow. You’re going to find your finish line. You’re not going to be Grumpy or Sleepy. You won’t feel Dopey. You’ll feel Happy when you cross that finish line. Go get it, Snow! Don’t be Bashful.” It was amazing!!
At Mile 11, I spotted the infamous Balloon Ladies on the opposite side of the course. There were a lot of people darting back and forth over the road as there were port-o-potties on our side of the course. I noticed, later, that these runners were just at Mile 1 at this point. And I was 2 miles away from being done. Crazy!
Just after crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
At Mile 12, we were directed back into Epcot to make the dash through to get to Spaceship Earth. I love this part of the race. Right as I was coming up toward it, one of the volunteers closed one side and directed me and another woman the opposite way. They do this to help with the flow of traffic. The woman I was running with was like, “Why did they do that?” So I tried to explain while running with her. We made another turn and she said, “We have to be close to being done.” I told her we were going to round a corner, run past a gospel choir, then make another turn and she should see the finish line. And then I said, “Go get it!”
My favorite part of any half at Disney World is that gospel choir before the finish line. It is just such a mood lifter. You just feel good. I mad the turn and started down the path toward the finish line. And I crossed it, feeling really relieved to be done. Another hot Florida race complete. I spotted Cathy up in the stands and waved as I walked to go get my medal. As I made my way through the line, I had to veer off to pick up the challenge medal as well. They take a picture of you with your bib at the expo…so they have volunteers who check every challenge participant before letting them through to get the challenge medal. I snagged a snack box from the guy on the very end who said “We have the best bananas over here.” HA! And then I went to get my official photo done.
Heather & I post-race!
Afterwards, I exited through bag check and found Cathy. She said that lines weren’t too bad for characters, so we decided to get in line for some. On the way, I spotted Heather Shultz, and had to go say HI to her. She ended up coming to stand in line for some princess shots with us. It was nice to get to talk to someone I cheer on through social media so much. We had gotten in line to meet Pocahontas, but right when we got up there, they switched her out for Merida. Oh well. We took the photo op anyway. We also got photos with Mulan and with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) before we decided to hop on a bus back to the resort so I could get cleaned up and we could head out to Port Orleans French Quarter to get some celebratory Gluten Free Beignets (they took over an hour and that’s another long and rambling story that I won’t get into here, but I was PISSED).
Me with Merida
Me & Cathy with Mulan
Me with Aurora
Anyway, my official time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon was that I finished in 1:45:24. Not bad for walking those water stops (and I walked EVERY one). I was 176/20,088 finishers overall. I was 89/17,099 female finishers. And I was 14/2665 people in my age division. Not half bad for a training run, eh?! I was quite happy with it.
So, another Disney race weekend and challenge in the books. I hadn’t done the Disney Princess Half Marathon since 2013, so it was nice to return to it. And, with the water stop walks I made myself take, I almost tied my time from 2013 (it was 1:45:06). So…yeah. I love coming to Disney to run and while Disney Princess seems to be one of the more popular races of the ones offered, I was so happy that I came back to it. Next time, I hopefully won’t wait 6 years to come back.