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

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

Race: 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon

Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 1, 2020

Time: 1:50:02

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

But…I think they somehow made it hillier.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

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

But we were doing this thing.

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

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When you cut your garbage bag wrong…

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

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

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Pacer Meb Keflezighi

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

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

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Alaphine Tuliamuk taking selfies at the start line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lunch at Walburgers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. COULD. NOT. WAIT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was weird.

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

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

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

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

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

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Product Review: Nabee Compression Socks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angie / Ashley /

SURPRISE!!

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

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

Heather…should be celebrated!

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

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

THE PLAN

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Running before 1:30 am is CRAZINESS!

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

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

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

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

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

THE SURPRISE

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

And…that’s what we did.

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Lunch from Twin City Grill at the Mall of America

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

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

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

YAY!

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Me and Grandpa!

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

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Aunt Jan, Me, and Grandpa

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

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Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl from Tavern 4 & 5

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

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

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

BREAKING BIRTHDAY

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

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Birthday Breakfast Omlette (with ALL the avocado)

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

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

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

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Me rethinking life decisions in rental skates!

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

And that’s when things went terribly wrong.

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

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Heather and Me on the ice

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

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

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I skate with ALL the padding on!

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

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

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

THE OTHER SURPRISE

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

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

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

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

TIME TO GO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 9, 2019

Time: 3:35:13

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

BOSTON QUALIFIED!

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

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Day Before The Race Breakfast!

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

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

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

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Expo Time!

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

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Cathy and Me at the Expo with our bib numbers!

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

 

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

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Found my name!

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

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

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

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Packing up the hydration pack on race morning!

 

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

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

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

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

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MRTT/SRTT

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

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

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

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

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3:35 Pace Group taking off!

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

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

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Cathy got a 5K PR at the Monumental 5K

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

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

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

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Finish line in sight! I was ugly crying already!

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

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Official Results

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

Keep Fighting.

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

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

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I have THE BEST friends!

FLY!

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

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

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A shower and some coffee!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #20

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

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

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

It’s race week…let’s go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

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

Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Finished in 3:35:13.

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

Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #19

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornGuys…we have 19 weeks of hard training down…and only one more to go until the big day.  Am I nervous?  Of course.  There’s something scary about putting your goals out there for people to see…for putting your training out there for people to read.  Setting big goals in and of themselves can be a scary ordeal.

But there is no turning back now.  We’re in the homestretch.  That start line and that finish line are waiting…

So let’s do this thing.

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

I was so thankful to have another Monday as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of run.  After moving my long run last week to Sunday, it was nice to not have to worry about hitting paces or doing some sort of workout.  I didn’t know this, however, until the morning when I woke up.  My coach sends through my plan after his children go to bed…and I had already gone to bed ahead of that.  What can I say?  Rest and sleep have been a priority this entire training cycle and it has made a world of difference.  So…I went out there, watch covered, and put in some miles.  I kept it easy and relaxed and just let my legs do what they needed and wanted to do that day.  No pressure.  No anxiety.  Just a simple run to shake out the legs.  I finished up with 5 miles for the morning, because my legs felt that good.  I did my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning round of stretches this morning.  Then, at noon, at met with my personal trainer, Corey, who put me through a leg day workout, targeting some muscles that don’t get a lot of love.  I stretched and foam rolled that evening and went to bed early (as always)

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

I didn’t want to incorporate speed during my taper…but it’s important to keep that rolling.  And my coach, thankfully, handed me my favorite of the speed workouts to do.  The Mona Fartleks.  If you haven’t tried these yet…DO IT!  You’ll see what I mean.  Mona Fartleks work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2 x 90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4 x 30 sec, 4 x 15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  Simple.  Basic.  FUN!  It was a cool morning…and I felt fast.  I really did.  I kept my warm up nice and easy then really hit those intervals.  I even managed a mile in the 6s for pace at the end.  My cool down…faster than my warm up, but it usually is.  I mean…I wasn’t expecting my legs to respond like that, but they felt ready to go.  They felt strong.  It worked out to be 8 miles for the day.  I went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.  Went to work.  Came home and did those evening stretches before hitting the sack for some sleep.

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.

It was the perfect morning for another easy “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.”  When I have those in the middle of the week, it always means another bit of speed is coming the following day.  With that in mind, my watch was covered and I went out and ran comfortably.  And apparently comfortably that day was…faster than anticipated.  I felt amazing the entire time.  Rested.  Strong.  Capable.  This is what you need to be feeling this week of training…and I’m hitting it.  I did another 5 miles this morning, surprised with the average pace at the end.  I hoped it wouldn’t hinder my run the following day.  I stretched.  I went to work.  And I met with Corey at lunch for personal training, focusing on triceps.  We kept the session shorter than usual because he wanted to make sure I had no lactic acid built up as I go into race week.  He’s a runner.  He’s an athlete.  He gets these things.  That evening I had a great sports massage and all felt right with the world.  Except for…the rain.

Thursday: 8-10 MILES WITH A 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 9 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END

I didn’t casually mention rain yesterday for no reason.  When I woke up early to fit in this run (knowing I wasn’t going to do anything over the goal distance)…it was pouring rain.  Fun fact…if it starts to rain on me after I’m out running, I’m okay with it.  I don’t like starting in the rain.  At all.  And…if this wasn’t as long of a run, I probably would have gone to the gym and done it on the treadmill.  My plan was to go out and do 5 easy and 4 at marathon pace.  When the rain picked up that morning…I hit four miles and chose to just hit 5 at marathon pace instead.  So…off I went.  And even in the pouring rain (thankfully it was 58 degrees outside)…which I always fret over slipping…I nailed it.  Completely nailed it.  I even felt like I could have pushed harder, but the purpose of the exercise was to hit marathon pace, not half marathon pace.  This was also the first time since July that I have run with my watch uncovered.  And it didn’t stress me out at all.  That being said, I was very happy to finish up this run and get out of the rain.  9 miles for the day…5 of them fast.  It was a HUGE confidence boost to do that in rain.  I did my stretches in the morning and night.  Oh…and by the time I left work, winter had arrived.  We legit had snowflakes in the air.  NOPE!

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I didn’t sleep in much for some reason this Friday.  I kept waking up.  So, eventually, I just got myself out of bed and went to be a little productive.  I erased my whiteboard art and went and did up something new for the month of November.  I used Simba from The Lion King (the original animated one) with his mane of leaves.  Because it’s fall.  Leaves mean fall.  And I love drawing Disney characters.  I showered.  I stretched.  I finished filling out my paper work for my podiatrist.  My appointment got moved to just before lunch today.  I don’t anticipate this being a long visit…but hoping he can do something about some of my nails (marathon training for 2 years = ugly feet).  And…after work, we hit up Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi” as I prepare for my long run on Saturday.

Saturday: 11-13 MILES WITH 5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END

Woke up to weather in the 20s.  No joke.  It was 28° and I was not happy!  Not one bit.  I don’t do well in temperatures below freezing.  It’s part of having Raynaud’s.   It sucks to try to run when you can’t feel your feet.  So, I admit…I was in a bad mood at the start of this run.  Not even going to lie.  I didn’t even plan out a route or think it through the night before.  I just was determined that this run was going to be awful.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was just cold.  But guess what…I warmed up.  The sky was crystal clear.  The sun came out.  And while I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, my movement did finally give me some feeling in my extremities.  YAY!  The same could not be said for my iPhone 7.  The battery died 30 minutes into my run.  Guys…I can’t have my phone battery dying when the weather is cold.  It’s a safety issue for ME.  Against my will, I ended up turning the phone off and finishing up the run, with the last 5 miles being along my super-hilly Thanksgiving course.  WHY do I do this?  Why do I forget (I run this course all the time) how hard those hills are?  But I pushed my fast finish at marathon pace.  It was a bit of a struggle today, but my last long run was done.  I took a warm shower.  I put on real (warm) clothes.  I watched Mindhunter with my breakfast gluten-free bagel.  I went grocery shopping (all day).  I came home and put away groceries.  Stretched.  Watched Top Chef.  Watched Mindhunter.  Then watched Louisville City FC win (on the road) the Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Guess what?  The Eastern Conference Finals are being held in Indianapolis…the afternoon of my marathon.  Guess what we’re getting tickets to go watch!!  It was a late night (for me) but worth staying up for.

Sunday: BASE RUN 5-8 MILES + 4-6 STIDES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT

The time change messed with me.  I always panic when we have to fall back or jump forward.  Especially when I am meeting with friends to go running.  I set my alarm clock (which I needed to adjust the time, but in hindsight didn’t actually move it when we jumped forward in the spring…so I totally had the time wrong.  But I also set my phone alarm.  Then I woke up, not trusting it.  And my alarm clock (was wrong) said one time.  My phone and Garmin said another.  The clock in the living room said the same time as my phone, and the clock in the kitchen had the same time as my alarm clock.  I was driving myself crazy.  I finally asked Siri what time it was…and my phone was correct.  I just don’t trust technology to actually fall back.  Deep breath.  So, I snuggled down for another hour…but didn’t really sleep.  Finally got up to stretch, hydrate, fuel, and get my stuff together.  I figured, with it being another below freezing morning, I’d have to give myself time to scrape the windows of my car before driving to meet my friend Ron for my last weekend run before the marathon.  Murder fog rolled in as I arrived.  He had gone to do his additional 2 miles ahead of our meeting.  And we ran through it for a mile before it started to lift and the sun came back out.  We kept it easy and talked a lot about race strategy and the weather (he’s a meteorologist) and how to dress.  It’s all confusing to me.  Aside from the weather (which is an uncontrollable), I do feel confident and good and better than ever as this training cycle wraps up.  We threw in the strides at the end of the run.  Walked it back to the cars.  Stretched.  And that was it.  The last long run before the big day.  8 miles total.

So, yeah…a part of me is internally freaking out because I have put this HUGE goal out there for everyone to see, read about, and follow along with.  But, it honestly doesn’t feel like any pressure to perform has been put on me.  I trust my coach…his plan…my training…and I know I am capable of having a great race.  Now…I need the day to go well.  You never know on race day what can happen.  But…honestly, I have never felt more ready to run 26.2 miles.

Six days to go.  And, let me tell you, my friends running the NYC Marathon have been quite the inspiration!  Here’s to staying focused, healthy, and strong in these final days before the start line.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #18

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

RIGHT?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 more weeks…let’s go.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #16

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

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

Here. We. Go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: REST/RECOVERY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #11

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornSometimes in training, you have to learn how to adapt.  And sometimes that means that the runs might be harder.  Sometimes it means that your hard pace looks slower on paper, but the effort is there.  Sometimes it means that you have to do two days of speed work back-to-back in order to have a bit of a life outside of marathon training.

Guys, I don’t know how I ever fit in gym mornings and time with friends and all that prior to this training cycle.  Because, honestly, I don’t feel like I have much casual, free, leisure time anymore.  I train in the morning, I do personal training sessions two times a week, I go to work, I come home, I stretch and foam roll, and in between all of that…I survive by prepping and eating and just making sure I get plenty of rest so that this body can continue to power through the workouts, training, and eventually, another marathon.

I am tired.  I have been living in a constant state of exhaustion for the past 2 years.  And with this past year, a lot of focus being on prioritizing rest/sleep…I just run out of time.  I knew heading into this week that things were going to get crazy.  Why?

Because I had concert tickets to see Rob Thomas…on Wednesday night.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT!  So, after a bit of debate, I decided the only thing I could do was rearrange my workouts.  I thought all the concerts/shows I had tickets for came AFTER my cruise, but I was wrong.  Rob Thomas slotted in ahead of it.  In the middle of the week.  Not going wasn’t an option.  Fun fact: I met Rob Thomas back in 1998 when I lived in Birmingham, Alabama.  And, it had been FOREVER since I’d made time to go to a concert on a “school night.”  HA!

So, let’s dive in to the insanity of this week.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

The best part about this past Monday was that it was Labor Day!  HOLIDAY!  Do you know what this meant?  I slept in.  I ran in the daylight.  I had been out at my friend’s house on Sunday night for a Labor Day cookout.  I indulged in more than a few Gluten Free Vegan S’Mores.  I had a good amount of food, and enjoyed my time hanging out with some of my favorite people.  We left late and I crawled into bed without setting an alarm. I woke up at my usual time and made myself NOT get up at that point.  I did get up to stretch and head out for a run in the early morning.  It was sunny, and a little humid, and the easy, recovery run felt a bit harder than it should have.  I think it was the extra sugar that night, but it was worth it.  Campfire S’mores are the best.  The run was nothing to write home about.  I just sort of let myself cruise, but it was a struggle at times, especially near the end.  After over 16 miles of pounding on concrete at marathon pace in the Parklands the day before, my legs were not loving the movement or miles at all.  They felt tired.  And that happens.  I made sure to give them some good foam rolling time.  I was planning on planting  my booty on the couch and binge watching Mindhunter on Netflix all Monday, but one of my best friends was in the hospital for surgery and I went and bought her a gift and delivered it to her.  I did manage some meal prep, 2 episodes of Mindhunter, and finished off the day watching Free Solo with dinner.  It was a long, productive, and very condensed day.  But, that’s holidays for you. The run was a total of 7 miles…nice and easy on very tired legs.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TEMPO RUN – 1 MILE WU; 3X2 MILES AT TEMPO (7:20-7:50) W/ 0.5 MILES RECOVERY; 1 MILE CD

UGH!  Speed work.  Not just speed work, but a tempo workout.  I don’t know why tempos stress me out, but they do.  At least this one was with some recovery time and not hard pushes for consecutive miles.  My legs still felt a bit flat, but I decided to just give it my best effort.  I never once stopped.  Even in the humidity and the warmer temps….I came close to nailing this workout. The first mile of the last tempo push was a 7:57 so, but I got back to 7:50 for the second mile.  It was the end of the workout, so I’m not too mad at it.  I’m a little mad at it, because I like to have a bit more perfection with the workouts, but it was what my legs had that day.  I came close and I did it without burning out.  That’s a win.  I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches that morning as well.  As for the run, that gave me 9.5 miles for a Tuesday morning.

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

Yes…you read that right.  Two speed work days in a row.  It was my only option with the Rob Thomas concert starting at 8 pm Wednesday night.  I wasn’t going to have the time or energy to wake up at 3:30 am to fit them in per usual on Thursday morning.  I figured I wouldn’t get home until after midnight (I was right), so adjustments had to be made.  I moved my short, recovery run to Thursday and Thursday’s speed session to Wednesday.  At least it was my favorite – Mona Fartleks.  They work like this: 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 ran these SO much better last week.  I was 3 minutes slower overall.  But my legs still felt flat and my hard efforts were all I could manage that morning.  That one mile push was unsuccessful.  I did it, but it had at least 5 (if not a few more) stops just to pound on my legs and try to get them to loosen up, find some flow, and just go.  I was so happy to just have this done and behind me.  It wasn’t easy at all to run this much two days in a row.  Hard runs usually get some recovery time…and there wasn’t enough here.  I did my second day of hip strengthening exercises this morning, foam rolled while drinking my coffee, and even managed my evening stretches before heading out to the concert that night.  It was a messy day.  But sometimes training, and life, gets messy. It was just over 8 miles on the run!

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.

So…it was after midnight when I got out of the Rob Thomas concert and made it home.  Trying to figure out when I would fit in my recovery run…I opted, since I was up and awake at that point, to just suit up, gear up, and go out and do it before heading to bed.  The midnight temperature was in the low 70s, but there was no humidity and a nice breeze.  And, for the first time all week, my legs decided that they felt good.  I felt very light on my feet, free, and able to open up.  I didn’t push pace or anything.  I didn’t even have to stop, slowing down every time I needed to cross the busy road because there was ALWAYS a car.  Seriously, why are there so many cars on the road at midnight.  But I felt amazing.  I did 4 miles.  And they felt glorious…despite being completely exhausted and worn out from the early morning, speed work, real work, concert…all the things.  It was a nice surprise and was the lift I finally needed to feel a bit better about my runs this week.  Let’s hear it for small miracles.

Friday: Rest Day.  It’s always a rest day.  I have a big weekend ahead of me, so this was really needed.  I really made a point to get to bed at a decent time the night before.  And to SLEEP!  Really sleep.  Except I couldn’t.  And I ended up waking up at normal time.  I made myself stay in bed for a bit longer and got up about 30 minutes before my alarm.  I tried.  I really did.  I took a shower, stretched, drank water, ate breakfast, got ready for work and went into the office. With so much going on, I kept track of my nutrition, rested my legs, stretched, foam rolled, and started to prepare for the weekend.  God, I always look forward to Friday.  Respect and learn to love those rest days.  They are more important than the days you are running. These are the days that help your body get stronger, faster, better.  I might be the only runner in the history of ever who looks forward to and loves rest days!

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

I was going running with my friend, Dennis this Saturday morning.  Woke up early to fit in my stretching and give me time to lather up the sunscreen and fuel before heading over the river to meet up with him at the Big Four Bridge.  I had told him that because I had to throw some race paces into my Sunday run now (making it more of a race than a training run), I really needed to take this run easy.  Dennis has one gear…and it’s GO.  But he was doing a 25 mile bike ride that morning after the run so we were going to keep it easy.  And that…didn’t happen.  He blames me.  He claims that he’d shout out our pace and I’d say we needed to slow it down and then wouldn’t.  Maybe he’s right.  Maybe it was him.  Who is to say.  We turned around halfway and when we headed back up the bridge into the last mile, he took off and I let him go. After all,  I was racing the following day and he was not.  I met up with him at the finish, texted my roommate to come and get me before heading home to shower, eat, and head out to grocery shop and get some more vacation shopping done.  I did manage to get my costume locked down for my cruise.  It did mean that I didn’t get much time off my feet.  I went out for “magic sushi,” the vegan sushi that has been my go-to pre-long run meal.  Then, I foam rolled and stretched that evening and then went to bed early.

Sunday: DOWNTOWN DOUBLER 30K – INSTRUCTIONS: PLAN ON SHOOTING FOR 10-14 MILES AT RP FOR THIS ONE

I woke up just before my alarm again this morning, probably the nerves of having to race a race.  Let’s face it…I have been using most, if not all, as training runs in the past.  But, while still feeling wiped from a messed up week of sleep, I wasn’t feeling bad at all in the morning.  I decided to treat this like marathon morning (let’s face it…I was supposed to be running a marathon in Erie, PA today had I been able to register before it sold out), and fueled as I intend to the actual marathon morning.  So, my first breakfast happened.  Then I stretched, got dressed, put on sunscreen.  Prepared my fuel, which has been Maurten and it has been a GAME CHANGER for me.  I packed a small bottle of it to take during the race along with a gel pack to take near the end.  I never want to crash on a race, and my system of fueling hasn’t let me down yet.  My roommate and I left the apartment and headed down to downtown New Albany, where the race was starting on the beautiful Greenway.  For the 30K, runners would make 2 loops of the course.  I was starting to second guess my enthusiasm for doing the 30K over the 15K…but too late to turn back now.  My initial plan was to run 2 miles as a warm up, hit it for the middle 14 (if I felt good), and then use the final miles as a cool down.  In my enthusiasm, I just took off at the start, so when I hit the first mile at a race pace (faster, really), I decided I would race the first 10 to 14 and then cool down in the last part of the race.  I will do an actual post on this race, but it went REALLY well for me.  I executed my fueling perfectly, even at the faster pace, and I managed a time good enough for 2nd in my age division.  Stay tuned for a post.  After the race, and after getting delayed by a train stopping on the tracks and blocking the parking lot, my roommate, myself, and our friends (who did the 15K) Ron & Shawn met with us for coffee at Heine Bros.  Afterwards, I came home to shower, clean, meal prep, and get some laundry done.  Also stretched and foam rolled.  Ready for a breather!

My coach did forget that I was heading on my cruise at the end of the week and had a down/recovery week planned, but he switched it up to the following week so I won’t have to run as much or as hard on a cruise ship.  That was nice of him.  But that does mean I have a pretty stacked week again after a hard effort.  Just going to do what I can and hope my recovery really comes along.

Stay tuned!