Well, there is definitely nothing more satisfying than beating a previous year’s time. Still no 10K PR, but I did way better at this local 10K than the one I attempted to really race in hot, humid Florida a couple of weeks before. Go figure.
I also waited until the very last week to sign up for this race. I had it on my radar, as usual, as it is one of the best races here in Louisville, BUT…that being said, I am also in the heat of marathon training and wasn’t sure I was actually going to race it. My coach, however, said I was. (For the record, he also raced it and averaged a 5:57 average pace). So, I was going into this with expectations of a better performance than my previous 5K. And that was the goal. Run hard…the entire 6.2 miles.
That being said, I headed down to Slugger Field on the Friday before the race to pick up my race packet. It was here that I discovered that I was a seeded runner this year and had a low number bib. Oh. Awesome. No pressure then, right? HA! So, I was directed over to the proper table to get my race bib and then went to snag a t-shirt as well. I loved that the shirts this year were purple (GO LouCity), and had a bit of a Mardi Gras flair to them. So, that was awesome.
Headed home to make a one of the cauliflower pizza’s I have in my freezer (Califlour Pizza Crusts, which I top with Trader Joes Greek Yogurt Kale & Spinach Dip, some mushrooms, spinach, and garlic). Friday Pizza Night has sort of become a thing. And these cauliflower crusts are the best out there (and naturally, I can’t get them in any store around here and have to order them online). Totally worth it. It was a late dinner, but perfect. I did my evening stretches, foam rolled, and went to bed early.
Because I had to wake up early enough on race morning to figure out my clothes, stretch, foam roll, and eat prior to race time. It was around 39 degrees at the start of the race, but I didn’t take into account the wind chill, which made it feel like it was in the high 20s. So, the running skirt and tank top with arm warmers was, for the first time in a long time, me being underdressed for a run. Needless to say, I had layers on over my race outfit until close to start time.
Please note, that SOMETHING in all of my race outfits this year will be pink, to honor my mom as she goes through her treatments for breast cancer. You’re going to see me in a lot of pink.
I was pretty fresh off of busted up knees from a fall I took on some frozen mud near my apartment complex. I mentioned this a lot on Facebook, but not on here, because I’ve been horrible about blogging and need to really get back into the swing of that. My apologies, friends. So, I took a hard belly-flop fall one morning while doing my run. We have had some new construction and roofing going on at my apartment complex and with the weather winging between hot and cold, a pile of mud that is normally not in my path was in my path, and froze solid from the below freezing temps. My left foot caught it one morning and I was DOWN. Just laid out with holes torn into my favorite pair of winter running tights, blood and bruising. It wasn’t pretty. So, that sucked. And now you know the tale of the Legend of the Fall (non-Brad Pitt division). So, I had some twingy, pain every now and again during my runs, but nothing that I was too concerned about. I had this before after I fell in the 5K of Dopey, and it eventually just got better on its own. Just took awhile. And, cold air and banged up knees are not a good combo.
Just prior to starting, Harry and Jo wandered by and got to say HI and wish me luck. Harry said, “Low number! WOW.” He asked about my knees and said that they looked a little bit better than the photo I had posted on Facebook. I think he was being kind. We wished each other luck and I shed my outer layers, even though I didn’t want to yet. My training partner and friend, Christine, found me at this point. She was aiming for a really fast 10K…and I wasn’t sure I could keep up with her…but we gathered together at the start, wished each other luck and awaited go-time.
The elites and seeded were set to go after the wheelchairs, so after the wheelchair racers went, we all crowded together and prepared for our turn. The horn blew and we were off. I felt good in that first mile, comfortable, but running hard down East Broadway. I wasn’t going to check my watch or the clocks on the mile markers the entire race, I was running by feel, and it was supposed to feel hard. My first mile ended up being a 6:51 pace. Fast.
But the hill at the beginning of Mile 2 really took me down a peg. Like…majorly. Hills. I need to get more comfortable with them, I just don’t run them enough or often. But I’ll change that eventually. Christine has had some hilly portions in our long runs together, so that at least helped with that. She passed me on the hill (everyone passes me on the uphill) and stayed ahead of me for the rest of the race. I could always JUST see her.
It’s the tilty roads that got me next, but my pace picked back up. There were some rollers in here as far as hills went, but nothing substantial. I just focused on pushing myself hard again. Mile 3 we are on the far side of Cave Hill Cemetery. I was pretty cold, but moving as fast as I could move at that moment. Miles 3 and 4 were in the low 7’s (7:10 and 7:14). Mile 5 was back to feeling really slow and challenging. I don’t think hills were involved, I think my legs were just tired. I can’t say for sure. It’s been a few weeks. But I pressed on, knowing how close I was to the finish. I wasn’t going to give up on myself yet. Squeaked out a 7:26 mile. And then…the final mile was upon us. I made the turn back onto East Broadway and headed back toward where we started (this race now is a loop and not a point-to-point, like it had been for years). I remembered hearing someone behind me say, “Is the start the finish?” It made me smile, but honestly, I could see it and it still felt so far away. And no matter how much I was pushing, I just couldn’t seem to get there. It felt like it never got closer. The final .2 was just me giving my best, and I crossed the finish line, just happy to be done. And knowing I did better than the previous year (which was windy, rainy, and cold AF, to be fair). I got past the photographers and hunched over for a moment to catch my breath. My coach had said to push hard and not focus on the hard miles I was going to have to do the next day…so I did as he said. And it paid off. My final miles were 7:29 and 7:16). New PR? Nope. Not this time. But now I only need to shave an additional 1:30 off to tie it. PROGRESS!
We had planned on meeting up with Christine post-race for coffee, and we stared to wander our way towards the coffee shop. She found us as we were walking that way, and we eventually ended up at a different coffee shop. A Starbucks. I was fine with it. It was warm inside and the drinks were caffeinated. YAY! We sat around the table and talked and then she and her husband gave us a ride back to our car at Slugger Field (we had made quite the hike to the start line that morning, mind you).
The following day, I knocked out my long run with 2×5 miles in the middle at marathon pace. I was shocked, but happy my body could do it.
So, the official results of the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 45:33. I am chipping away at my times, getting closer to matching or beating that PR time. SO CLOSE! I was 246/2964 finishers overall. I was the 58/1596 women finishers. And I was 12/225 in my age division. Last year I was also 12/225 in my age division. HA! There were over 400 more runners this year though than last year. I’ll take that as a win. And while this wasn’t a distance PR, it was a race PR and a course PR…so that’s also exciting when you think about it!
As some of you know, I have been training, very specifically, very diligently, and quite intensely for my Spring marathon! I chose one out of the area, but close enough to drive. Honestly, this is one of the most vigorous training plans I have been through when working toward the marathon distance. As I may have mentioned (it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, I can’t remember), I hired a new coach. He was my physical therapist back in 2017 when my hip flexor paralyzed itself, and he got me quickly back on the road. After not reaching any running goals last year, I really needed to reassess my training, and after talking to him, hired him on to train me. And my life has never been the same.
I have had some of the highest mileage weeks I have had in 6 years. I’m not saying that to brag, because I am aware that one extra mile could be the tipping point to injury. But, as I said, Daniel used to be my physical therapist and he knows my weaknesses better than I do. He also knows that in order to speed me up and work on endurance, it means a mix of easy/slow runs and hard speed sessions. We all know how I feel about speed work, but he hasn’t made me cuss him out or cry yet…so his method is working.
I will say, I’m exhausted by the end of the week and look forward to my rest day to prepare for the long runs (yep…runs) of the weekend. Sometimes they are easy runs, sometimes one of them involves some speed. But there is always a reason for where and why he wants me to do runs a certain way. And I’m working hard to hit suggested paces, without going over the edge to injury. It can be a fine line, especially when you’ve dealt with injuries over the years. Last year, I made it out without a single one, and I hope to continue that trend this year.
All that being said, I am getting a slight down week this week as I am headed to Disney World (you know this if you follow me on Instagram) for the Disney Princess Race Weekend. I am participating in the 5K (running it with my roommate at her pace), the 10K (which is what Daniel wants me to race), and the half marathon (training run). I’m super stoked. My last trip to Disney was in January 2018, and it was a hot mess express of a dumpster fire.
So…packing has commenced and I finally got around to trying on my costumes yet. Does my coach realize that I dress up in costumes? Probably not. LOL! But its Disney…if you don’t do SOMETHING Disney related (doesn’t have to be full-on costume), you have no soul.
So…my 5K costume had to change. My roommate is running as Captain America, so I thought I’d go as Iron Man (Tony Stark FOREVER!).
Sadly, the outfit I ordered to do this costume, didn’t match. And the company I ordered the top from hasn’t done much to get me the new top in time for this race. So…I thought about trying to put together a Captain Marvel costume (not enough time), or do something else Avengers…but I just couldn’t cobble together what I needed in the short span of time remaining. So that means, I stick to super hero, but cross the streams into the DC universe and run as…Wonder Woman (DUH!)!
Not what I wanted…but it will work. It will do. And besides, I am Wonder Woman, so might as well stick to my nickname.
For the 10K…I was having a hard time settling on a costume. Believe it or not, I was originally going for Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.
That being said, it’s really hard to find running clothes that are that golden yellow and not a fluorescent yellow. I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to maybe get fabric for my friend Melissa to sew a costume for me, but there wasn’t anything there that would work. I was sad, but not giving up on this costume. It WILL happen, because she’s perfect for me to run as. So, I had to make a choice between two costumes that I have run in before…Officer Judy Hopps (Zootopia) or Vanellope von Schweets (Wreck it Ralph). I put it up for a vote on both Facebook and Instagram and the winner…
Pretty excited to bust out this costume again. Hoping that I get the “ears” just right like last time.
The one race that I knew for certain which character I was dressing up as was the half marathon. My nieces, Kaytlynn and Baileigh, chose for me to run as one of the most classic princesses from the Disney films.
My mom made my top for this costume, as the one I wore when I ran Dopey in 2014, was shredded. I mean, the sleeves are made out of ribbons. My mom did a PHENOMENAL job and I can’t wait to share the actual costume with you guys! I tried it on today as we started packing for the trip and I really just want my mom to make all my running costumes from now on. She did my Vanellope top I wore in Dopey 2018, and it was perfection. This one…also perfection. Excited to reprise my role as Snow White for 13.1 magical miles.
I’m going to be trying some new stuff out in the upcoming weeks, but I needed to get through Disney before I make fresh purchases. I’m thinking of switching to the hydration vest versus the belt I’ve worn since 2012. My friend Christine let me borrow hers and I loved it. So…that will be a big purchase, but one I can’t wait to try. Also…my new fuel. It’s pricey, but it seems to work! I’m using old fuel I still had kicking around for now. It’s fine, because I like it as well. As long as it doesn’t make me sick or hurt my stomach, or as long as I don’t have to chew it…I’m happy to use it.
So, seven challenging weeks of training down. Ten more to go. And now, here come the weeks where I also throw in some races (either as training runs, or to race) and I’m pretty stoked to get that going. Stay tuned, as I hope to keep you informed of more of my training highlights and shortcomings (because I’m human and I’m not going to nail everything). But that will have to wait until I get back from Disney.
Hello, my dear friends and readers. Let me introduce you to my friend, Natalie. I met Natalie through a local running store, that ultimately, led to a small running group. She and I became fast friends and, we have seen each other through a lot of ups and downs in life. Last year, she took on one of the hardest and biggest challenges of her life. She went to get treated for anorexia, an eating disorder that was, literally, wasting her away to just bones. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of problem that just goes away after treatment. It stays with you…it eats at you…it gets in your head and it makes it hard to stay on the right path.
With the holidays in full swing, she commented on the way her life is just saturated in diet culture. It’s hard enough to deal with when you are in the population trying to lose weight. But have you ever thought about how hard it is for someone who is obsessed with being smaller? Someone who can easily be triggered by the word “diet” or “fat” or even “calorie?”
I have been wanting to welcome guest bloggers to my page for awhile now, so I’m going to let Natalie share her thoughts on the saturation of the market with “quick fixes” and how it can be a problem for people who have disordered ways of eating or looking at nutrition.
We all can agree, diets are bullshit. Your body doesn’t need to do a cleanse, you have a liver that does that for you. Your dietary choices should not be used as a way to restrict yourself from what you can and cannot eat. And diets…don’t work. As anyone who does any sport, you know how important FOOD is and PROPER NUTRITION is to performance and longevity. It’s hard, though, even for people without an eating disorder, to feel normal when it feels like every ad, commercial, influencer, and the like out there is telling you that you need to be smaller and this gimmick or new workout is how to do just that.
So, let me turn it over to a great friend of mine, a fellow athlete, and someone who has been on the dark side of an eating disorder and is working hard to recover, despite being bombarded with messages that are the complete opposite of what she needs to be feeding herself.
Below are her words, as well as a before and after photo for reference. Thank you, Natalie, for being brave enough to share your story and your thoughts on this matter. Keep fighting.
It’s all the time; all year and everywhere! In the malls, magazines, on TV, the internet, radio, at work, with friends and now invading your emails!
DIETS: how to diet, which one is right for you, what melting pill takes the fat away, and on and on it goes.
Food has always been a part of life. You can’t get away from it: from the moment you’re born, it’s literally shoved into your mouth, and then, we are told not to eat what we just learned to put into our mouths because it is bad for you. Yet, it’s what we have to have to stay alive!
The diet industry probably makes more money than the company’s for any other product. I think I read it’s a multi-billion dollar corporation! Well, as hard is it is for someone wanting to get healthy (which one to pick, this one didn’t work, etc.), what its like for a person with an eating disorder is absolutely just torture!!
In my active portion of my ED, I was all about different fads and diets and everyone was willing to give it to me despite the fact that I was sick and losing too much weight. I had doctors that even encouraged my particular way of eating – healthy of course – but I left out how much I exercised to burn off the little healthy food I did eat! I’m sure if I had tried I probably could have found a surgeon to give me gastric bypass!! Trust me, I thought about it! But, now in process of being in recovery, which is the hardest thing I have ever done, it’s all around me and dangling in my face 24/7. I know this is a part of life and they didn’t actually cause my ED, but they feed it, literally and metaphorically!!
I get emails everyday for the newest product of diet pills. I see a runner on an ad and then go to read it and it talks about counting macros or the Keto diet. Even gluten-free diets are used to restrict, which is kinda funny considering they have some of the highest sugar counts in their stuff just so it tastes good. It’s supposed to be for allergies to gluten or, more specifically, what it was originally for was Celiac disease which has to be diagnosed with a biopsy and blood work! Period! I have many friends with this and they can actually die from it! So, to take specific diets for specific diseases is also the new fad. Like I said, it’s crazy and it can make a normal person crazy, but with the ED, I feel like I have no chance at ever getting better because it always draws that part of me back to the fact that I’m not good enough the way I am. I could be thinner if I just took this pill or if I rubbed my belly with this amazing fat burning gel or if I get my macros or micro nutrients right. I have to say, in my treatment (which was meant for an athlete), I have learned about macros and micro foods, but in the end, we are people that can get obsessed about anything and take it to extremes. It’s in our way of thinking and I say in our DNA too.
They say people with ED are a lot like alcoholics, if that gives you some idea of how bad it is. Except you don’t need alcohol to live, but you do have to eat food. To constantly give all this media attention to something that will only work for a small time, and then the targeted person will go off their diet and then have to start all over again, because they are desperate at that point and go back to the diet programs or vitamin shops that sell “healthy ways to diet” is just as addictive.
But, for a person like me, someone who will go the distance to be thin enough and never stop. And every diet there is or that comes out, my mind immediately thinks…maybe if I try this and that, then the cycle of being afraid to eat, the fear of gaining weight and not being good enough if I don’t weigh less…all of it throws me back into what will ultimately be my death warrant!
So basically, from my point of view, as a recovering anorexic…this industry is helping us kill ourselves for money!!
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received as a runner…was to stop posting my Garmin face post-run with distance and time. Stop putting my splits up on social media for others to see. While a lot of times, this garnishes so many LIKES and compliments…it also, honestly, is no one’s business what my run looked like that day. And, sometimes, it can also bring about negativity…or pressure to perform.
How often do we do this to ourselves? We go for a run. We feel good during the run. Or maybe we don’t. Maybe the run feels hard, but we’re pushing. And we’re just giving it all we have (I don’t recommend doing this for every run you do, btw). And when we’re done, we click that stop button on our watch and check our time…
And how often does that time…or overall pace…determine for YOU…whether that run was a “good run” or a “bad run?”
Hey…I’ve been guilty of this myself.
When a run feels hard and it should be easy…guess what…you’re probably running too hard.
When you feel good through your entire run, but then stop your watch and are disappointed with your overall pace…guess what…you have forgotten the golden rule of…easy runs should be easy…hard runs should be hard…and BOTH are important. You probably did this run perfectly…you felt good…but your Garmin spouts off an average that makes you feel inadequate.
So many people play that social media comparison game. Just because one person can easily crack off 7 minute (or less) minute miles, everyday, for most distances….doesn’t mean that you have to be able to do that too. That’s the great thing about being a human being.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT. And guess what?! OUR ABILITIES ARE ALL DIFFERENT!!
Am I screaming at you? Yes!! Because I often get told that someone doesn’t think they need to recover as much as I do because I run so much faster than them. Well, my 8 minute mile might be just as hard to me as their 10 minute mile is to them. The effort is equal…the paces are different. But someone’s slow will always be someone else’s fast. And it’s a serious problem if you are judging your worth and your fitness or your place in the running community based off of how fast your legs move to propel you forward.
And social media has done nothing more than take all of this insecurity and elevated the comparison game to new heights. It is great to motivate people…but your paces and your miles logged don’t really do that. WORDS do that. Examples do that. Just because you can run that 6:XX mile tempo, doesn’t mean that I can. And expecting me to be able to isn’t right too. Telling me that you’re an extreme runner, or getting it done right, doesn’t make me feel good about my 8:xx tempo of the same distance that day…probably less consistent than yours. Your Garmin watch face…your split times…your average pace…that does have the power to motivate…and inspire…but it also can really get into people’s heads.
And let’s talk about burnout. So many times…these “extreme” runners that consistently post these fast times in training often burnout or hit a wall…when it counts most. On race day.
Sure, it might seem fun to post your 7:XX mile runs during training, every day, no rest days, no days off, but when you end up sidelined with an injury, or your marathon times don’t match up to your training runs, or you hit a wall…hard…at Mile 21, those social media brags and posts will have been in vain.
Let’s face it…an 8:20 pace is not easy if your marathon pace is an 8:30.
IT. IS. THAT. SIMPLE.
Whether you consider yourself a speed demon, a middle-of-the-packer, or a back-of-the-packer…ultimately…the comparison game will only bring you unnecessary stress.
And that’s why, my friends, my Instagram posts don’t show off my pace, my distance, my stats, my splits…because that is for me to know and for me to work on. Not for anyone else to cast judgement on or to compare themselves to. We’re all different. We all run different. We all train different. But in the end…I’m not here to set a precedent for anyone but myself.
Comparison is the thief of joy…and I’m not looking for anything but happiness out on the roads right now. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have my goals and am actively pursuing them the best I know how to. After all, happiness is definitely a goal worth pursuing.
I haven’t blogged on it yet…but it’s coming. I just need more time in my days to get my thoughts down.
Two weeks ago. And I have been taking my time returning to my training.
I’m not forcing myself to go out there for double-digit runs at the moment. I’m not forcing speed work on myself. I’m running by feel, fewer days a week than normal, not worrying over how long I’m out there or how far I go.
So many of my friends are shining in races. Some of them also had hard efforts in marathons. But, to me, it’s not about how many races I do…it’s about being able to do the number of races I register for…comfortably, without pain, without injury, without burnout…
I don’t wear race volume around my neck as a bragging right. I don’t care how many races I have run or of what distance each one was. Every finish is a victory. Every race is a victory lap for the training I put into it. And part of training…is taking the necessary time off to get my body strong, rested, and prepped for the next training cycle. I’ve done the whole rush into the next thing route before…and we all know how that turned out for me. So many people overlook the downtime and recovery…and I used to be one of them.
It’s so hard, these days, to keep this in perspective. Social media has a funny way of making you feel inadequate. Someone is always running more, running faster, running further, hitting goals you’ve dreamed of but have fallen short of for months/years. But, in the end, we can only do what is best for ourselves. No one else.
This past weekend, I was in Columbus, Ohio, visiting my friend Jenn and seeing Phil Collins in concert on Friday night. I had some late nights…I slept in each morning. And…I put in some miles each morning. One was mild and windy, the other was frigid and also windy (but less windy, I guess). I never once looked at my Garmin to check my pace. I just counted each mile beep until I hit the miles in my made-up plan.
Each run was solid and strong and amazing. I mean, I was having fun, even when the headwind felt like it was pushing me back. I got inspired when I hit up the Columbus Marathon expo, purchasing more things than I should of from the booth, and stopping by Noxgear to say HI to the people there…and get my hands on their new product, which hasn’t launched to the public yet. Watch my social media for more on that.
I ate well. I stretched. I foam rolled. All the self-care stuff that comes with recovering from a hard effort.
So while others are stocking up on medals and miles, I’m cheering them on, but not rushing to join them. I never want to be out for as long as I was in the past. And with these solid recovery runs coming so easy…I’m proud to say, I think this time, I’m doing it right.
The number of races I do is nothing compared to the number of races I will continue to do, simply by respecting this body.
Being a runner isn’t about the number of races I finish. I know plenty of real runners who aren’t even interested in racing. I love racing. It’s fun. But I don’t care if I’ve run 1 or 100 races…as long as I’m still enjoying it and listening to my body so I can continue to do it.
My Garmin Forerunner 935 sometimes expects great things of me…and other times blocks out the fact that I’ve been recovering from a hard effort and calls me “UNPRODUCTIVE” or tells me I’m “DETRAINING.”
Considering that it thinks I can cut about 2 minutes off my 5K PR, 2 minutes off my 10K PR, 5 minutes off my half marathon PR, and 13 minutes off my marathon PR (all of these cuts are on PRs that I set 4-5 years ago…which is sad, honestly), it should also understand the value of rest. I mean…high expectations there on race predictions…the best way to do that is to give this body the time it needs to get strong and happy again. You know what that requires?
And I’ve been doing so much of it.
Finally…just over a week later, my Garmin seems to understand me a little better…
That’s way better than being told I’m unproductive. I mean, I may not be piling on the miles, but I’ve been taking walks, returning to spin classes (that started this week!), stretching, foam rolling, strength training…all because I want to keep this body happy and healthy. Too many times I’ve rushed back into training and ended up sidelined with either a major or minor injury. I’m done with watching others achieve things I’ve dreamed of from the sidelines. Done.
So yeah, I have put recovery as a priority, where I might have really overlooked it before. I keep trying to work some extra sleep in, but that is harder for me to accomplish. I get to bed as early as I can when I know I have an early morning ahead of me. To the best of my ability, of course.
Remember…sleep, eat, rest, recover…and you’ll be set to give it your all when training kicks back in.
Nothing is ever a perfect fit for everyone. Nothing. Just because something suits one person doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. That’s just life. No two people are exactly the same…and that means not everything will work the same for every body.
And that, my friends…is only the beginning of the changes that have been spinning through my life.
Let’s start with the biggie…
In a time where everyday runners…and weekend warriors are seeking out help through means of a coach…my coach and I have parted ways.
It was a mutual thing…in the end. I was extremely unhappy with the way her plan had me running and the lack of mileage that I was putting into my training. Running for time instead of distance is not something I enjoy doing. When I marathon train, I want my 20 mile runs so I know…I can get there and then…hit that last 10K. And I just wasn’t anywhere near that. Halfway through training and I never once got over 13 miles. And it was eating at me. And the volume and length of the speed work days was overwhelming…where I’d have to get up at 2:30 am just to fit it in and, honestly, every Sunday night, I’d end up in tears over it. And no training plan is worth that sort of misery and unhappiness. I’m not an elite athlete…I don’t win cash prizes for running…I’m not a sponsored athlete…I run because I enjoy it. Because it’s fun. And it wasn’t fun anymore. And I wasn’t enjoying it. It was stressing me out more than it was helping me to decompress. And that means…it’s totally upside down.
I value what I learned from her in the years I had her as my coach, and while I respect that the plan she had me on got her the BQ she really wanted…it wasn’t working for me. My body wasn’t reacting well to it. I wasn’t getting better with it. In fact, I felt it was only breaking down the progress I had made prior to starting it.
And so…she called me…and we decided it was better for both of us…to just be friends.
It’s so much better now.
So…where does this leave me with my training? That’s a very, very good question. This was NOT an easy transition to make. And I’m still adjusting while trying to convince myself that I’m not too far behind on my fall marathon training. That fall marathon is coming up fast and I’m still just…uneasy over it all. I feel unprepared, undertrained, and just…lost sometimes.
My roommate had me dig out my first ever training plan for the marathon distance, from 2013, when I was training for Chicago. She made a few adjustments to it, loaded it up on my Google Calendar…and that’s it. That’s what I got for the next 7.5 weeks. No pace requirements (although I’m focusing on keeping those long runs at a slower pace to not break down my body and also…to get me used to long periods of time on my feet). I do the speed sessions, which are broken down into intervals I believe I can nail and not stress over. I just go and do it…and whatever is my best that day is what I can give. And without the stress…I usually do better than anticipated. As for long runs…my roommate gives me only one bit of advice…
HAHA. Well…sort of. Basically this schedule was worked up to help me grow in confidence, in endurance, and, eventually, in speed. So…her advice is always…just go run. However I feel.
And my only goal at the moment is to get through it all…uninjured. Because when I’m usually working on this sport alone…that’s what happens.
At the beginning of my training season, after Dopey in January and after I got over the flu, my coach asked me, specifically, for some goals this year. I laid out two. And one of them was to PR my half marathon distance, specifically at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
It was in writing. And I was actually starting to finally have a good training cycle, when, one morning, as you read in a previous post (and I swear I will blog about the saga…maybe…perhaps), I fell hard on a training run early one morning. It was a long run I was doing to beat the rain and storms that were supposedly coming. And…it took me out of any sort of strong training for the entire time leading into the KDF miniMarathon. I kept telling myself that this would actually work out for me in the end. My body would recover…and I’d be well-rested coming into this race, despite having a half marathon the week before.
Mind you…I took it very easy on KDF. I barely broke an 8 minute mile when all was said and done. So, my legs felt good and my foot was finally feeling good…but I haven’t been feeling strong or fast as of late. Keep in mind, the races I have been doing, I haven’t been doing at pace. This was supposed to be what makes me able to do this for goal/key races. So, I assured myself that the missed runs wouldn’t matter. I was ready. I could do this.
Friday morning came and I went out for an easy shake-out run for 30 minutes. Showered. Then began to prep breakfast for that morning. Melissa and Paul were coming over (we were all driving up together) and I was going to make us a hearty breakfast to get us through the Panel of Olympians (I won two tickets to it and Melissa and I were going to attend) that morning, the race expo itself, and whatever else we ended up doing afterwards until dinner time. The menu: Avocado Toast and Hash Browns. I used Simple Kneads Gluten Free Quinoa Power Grains Bread, smashed ripe avocado on each slice, topped it with some Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, then capped each slice with a sunny-side up egg. Served with some Ore Ida Hash Browns (with onions and peppers). It was perfect. We ate. We drank coffee. We eagerly discussed the events that day. And then…we were literally off to the races.
We talked…the entire time heading to the hotel. We were staying at the JW Marriott (I’m a princess…sorry, not sorry!) and we were going to check in and take things up to the room before heading over to Indiana Convention Center (we could do this via walkway, but why not enjoy the wind that day?) for the Champions Panel that started at 11 am (but they wanted ticket holders in by 10:45 am).
We pulled up to the hotel and while everyone else was unloading the car, I was sent inside to check into the room. And this friends…is where the tale truly begins. Because, upon entering the hotel, all wind-blown and looking like a hot mess…I notice someone in a race jacket holding a cup of coffee near one of the pillars at the front of the lobby. And my brain went…
This is where I lost all motor functions for a moment. I smiled at him and walked toward the line for the front desk check-in. I pulled out my cell phone to text my group, but I couldn’t get my fingers to hit the right numbers on my unlock screen. I did finally get there. I typed a simple message, “HOLY SHIT! MEB!” And I sent it. And just as it sent, Cathy came strolling in. At this point, Meb went to go talk to a group of runners in the lobby and I started pointing at him (his back was to me). She glanced over, did a shrug, then did a double take. It was awesome.
She told me to go ask if I could get a selfie with him. I’m not shy. So I did. I’m surprised I could now find words. I’m honestly not the type to get star-struck like that…but Meb is a one of my running heroes and I was..honored to be in a hotel lobby with him. Also, no one informed me that I looked all a mess from strong winds and car ride. But…hey…at least he looks good in the photos. I took a selfie and then someone took a picture for me. Both of which I look like a star-struck fool with really, really bad hair.
Hey…you never know when you’ll met your heroes.
He was so very gracious and generous and never once made me feel like I was inconveniencing him. And that’s one of the many things I love about Meb. After the photos in the lobby, Cathy and Paul sent Melissa and I on our way to get to the Champions Panel while they took stuff up to the room. Paul was on a business call at this point anyway. So…we braced ourselves for the windy walk to the Indianapolis Convention Center (we could have walked it inside, honestly) and went to get in line for the panel.
We were seated in the second row when doors opened. And as they brought in the Champions for the Champions Panel…they also introduced the woman who was conducting the panel, Indianapolis’ very own Lindsey Hein, the host of the “I’ll Have Another” podcast…which I am a total fan and listen to every week. So, I fangirled a little there and hoped to snag a picture with Lindsey afterwards…but we were escorted out of the room quickly and I never got to ask. Dang it. NEXT TIME!!
The Champion’s Panel was amazing. It started off with having us introduced to the Elite Ambassador and Special Olympics athlete, Andrew Peterson. His story and the way he told it was inspiring and tear inducing. Seriously. What an inspiration. From being told he could never do things…to being the second Special Olympian to qualify for the Boston Marathon…he is nothing but inspiring. What a way to kick off the panel. Then…they brought up the rest of them:
Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alexi Pappas, and Meb Keflezighi!
The stories all of these athletes could tell about mental fitness, experiences in running, etc. I now have a major girl crush on Alexi for one thing. She’s a doll. Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers had tales to tell about the running community and running game back when they were at the top of the game. And Meb had lots of uplifting and insightful things to say. Alexi is training with Deana Kastor for her first marathon. And I’m currently reading Deana Kastor’s book. Full circle. Just…love. This was the way to kick off the weekend for sure. It was the day before Meb’s birthday, so we all sang Happy Birthday to him. So that was amazing.
After the panel dismissed the audience, Melissa and I met up with Cathy and Paul, who had already gone shopping through the expo area. So…now it was our turn. We went to pick up our bibs and race packets first before setting out to see all of the expo area and try not to spend too much money. HA!
Actually, because Newton wasn’t there (I really want to try on the Distance VII), I came out of it on the plus side. Cathy bought me my mandatory Bondi Band’s (this has to happen at every race or bad stuff happens!) and I was told I wasn’t allowed to buy any Finisher’s gear (which means, she got me something). And with those being the only restrictions, I just set out to see what was there. This is a great expo. Lots of samples of products, lots of vendors…all very relevant. Area races were present and promoting. And, while we paused for bathroom breaks, that was when Corey Queen found us!
He actually started sneaking up on me and got pretty damn close before I saw him and gave him a hug. He’s a ninja, that one. The five of us stood around and talked for a good while. We discussed races and being ambassadors and weather and just life in general. Seriously, if this weekend proved anything…it’s that the five of us could stand around and talk and not get bored with it. HA!
When we all finally decided we needed to finish seeing the expo and make Meb’s autograph session before heading to our dinner reservations. We did traverse the rest of the expo, killing time before standing around near the area the line would be forming for Meb. Currently Bill Rodgers was at the autograph table. So, we hung out until the volunteers at the expo came and put up some partitions and had us maneuver inside to wait for Meb.
Melissa asked me if Bill Rodgers book was worth buying, and I told her definitely. So she asked if she could get into the back of his line for an autograph. We had thought of doing this earlier, but Cathy had overheard one of the handlers say that he was just signing books…but the man ahead of Melissa had his Boston Marathon shirt so she looked at me and said, “Do you want Bill Rodgers to sign your medal too? He’s a four time Boston Marathon champion.” I took my medal from her and went to stand with Melissa. This worked out because it meant I could take photos with her and Bill and she could return the favor for me. Bill was awesome. He recommended to Melissa that she run Chicago Marathon and she told him she was this year. And he wouldn’t let up on how amazing the crowd support is there and how amazing the race is (everything I have touted all along) and as I was taking their picture, he apparently kept whispering “Chicago. Chicago. Chicago.” in her ear. HA! My turn. I brought him my medal and I told him my Boston story. When I told him about my hip labrum tear, he said, “That’s a bad injury. Did you have to have surgery?” I told him no. He said, “Lots of physical therapy.” I nodded. “So much physical therapy!” He signed my medal and graciously took a photo with me and wished me luck in Chicago this year too. Melissa and I went to duck back into our spots at Meb’s line.
Meb arrived and we were seriously near the front of the line. Meb took his time with people, signing an item for each person. We sent Paul and Melissa up to him first and it was so amazing to see just the sheer joy in Melissa’s face as she got to talk to Meb and tell him how much he inspired her to run her first race. He was the best and gave her encouraging words and was so uplifting. He signed a photo for her and a quote for Paul, and they took pictures with him. Then…it was my turn.
I knew telling my story to Meb was going to be emotional to me. So, thankfully I had Cathy on hand to tell him about my path to the Boston Marathon and the injury that I wouldn’t let take me out of it. She also mentioned the hip labrum tear, and his eyes got wide and he said, “That is a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAD injury.” He’s not wrong. It was (and still his and will hopefully forever be…the worst injury I have ever endured). I laid out my medal and asked him to sign it for me. He said, “This is the first one I have seen of these today!” One of the professional photographers took photos as he signed it. And then we did the stand and smile photo ops. Honestly, everything you have heard about Meb is true. He’s very humble and very human and very generous. And uplifting. Man, I walked away from that table feeling like I had just met a rockstar. I had. I mean…for real.
We needed to drop off our race expo stuff, so we took the walkways back to the hotel. We dropped things off in the room (Melissa and I hadn’t been here yet) and then set back out to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and then make our way to dinner at Harry & Izzy’s in downtown Indianapolis.
Originally, I thought Cathy and I were going to split one of the gluten-free pizzas. BUT…she started eyeing other things on the menu. Pizza has been a good food for me the night before the race, but as I knew I couldn’t eat the entire thing by myself and it would be a waste of money to just eat half of it (I wouldn’t have gotten back to it after the race or anything), I went a very different direction. I ended up ordering the Oven Roasted Beet Salad (hey…beets are supposedly good for athletic performance), which consisted of artisan greens, local goat cheese (I asked them to go light on the cheese), candied walnuts, and had a tarragon vinaigrette. And then I placed an order for the gluten free fries on the side. It was super yummy and I devoured it all. I mean…you need to be fueled for the race, right?
Afterwards, we walked to the candy store, just for some fun, and then headed back to the hotel to charge Garmin’s, shower, lay out race day stuff, and finally, get some rest. I had Melissa help me pick between the two outfits I brought, a tank and shorts or a crop and a running skirt. As the tank and skirt were in Boston colors and my Boston Marathon medal was now autographed by Bill Rodgers and Meb Keflezighi, it seemed like a good omen.
We set alarms for 6 am. And race morning dawned and alarms went off. We went with the bathroom circuit that we’ve established since the NYC Half Marathon. I grabbed my stuff and went to change into my shorts and tank before coming out and allowing the next people to work their way through. I always use the bathroom one last time before leaving the hotel. I realized I didn’t eat anything leading up to this…or take in some water. So…that was that working against me. I did have a banana, which I ate as we made our way to the lobby, as we were 30 minutes out from the start of the race. I know better than to JUST eat a banana before a distance race. A shorter race it would be fine…but not for a half or full marathon.
We got outside and gave hugs to Melissa and Paul. My corral was in Wave 1, which was going off at 7:33 am. So, Cathy went to cut across to the other side, and didn’t think that there was openings to the corals on that side (there was), so we hugged and she told me to have a good race. And….I went to get into Corral B. I had to pause though, as the National Anthem was starting, so I did that before heading up to the actual corral entrance and ducking inside. I didn’t move too far up, but I got out of the crowd there at the back. In fact, I wasn’t far from a guy in a penguin suit. No joke. I also noticed a lot of other Corral’s in my corral. Like a woman who should have been in Corral L. Okay…
I felt nervous energy as the light breeze kept the start line cool. The humidity was higher that day than what I was used to running in and the start line was a gorgeous 54 degrees…but it was going to hit the 60s fast that morning. When Wave 1 was sent off after the wheelchair start, I headed over the start line, waved to Cathy and took on the streets, telling myself that it was going to be a good day. And for the first mile I felt strong. And was definitely on pace to hit my PR. But that didn’t last long. My endurance is shit these days and immediately, I dropped off that pace and that was the story of my race. A steady decline and a huge missed opportunity.
Mile 1 was clipped off at a fast 7:10 minute mile. But they got slower soon after that. Mile 2 through 4 were steady and still in a good range of where I could be to finish ahead of my goal. Or so I thought. I never once looked at my watch or the clocks on the course. I didn’t want to fuss over time on this race. I felt strong heading up W Michigan and really thought I was pacing myself well. But as I turned onto Main Street just around Mile 5, I could hear conversation behind me. Whenever there is conversation, there is a pace team. I had no idea which one, until they started pacing me for a brief moment. It was the 1:40 pacer. I was way behind my goal and I could feel my energy really fading fast.
“It’s not meant to happen today,” I said to myself, and then just set my next focus on finishing a strong race. The 1:40 pacer faded and I decided I would at least try to stay ahead of the 1:50 this time.
Heading into the track, the lugs on the bottom of my Newtons picked up a stone, so just after Mile 6, I pulled over to dig it out. It apparently fell out on its own just as I slowed. So, I jumped back into the race. The race track has always been the thing that slows me down. And it was no exception this year. I kept telling myself to relax, but the humidity had gotten the best of me and at this point, I was no longer sweating. You know what that means? I was now overheating. I also fuel on half marathons during the time I’m inside the track, where we weren’t allowed to take any sort of gel at the time. So…I waited it out and made my lap of the track. I could feel my legs slowing down, and at times just feeling tingly. Definitely not having a good race. I didn’t let it dishearten me too much, and I did pick it up for the part where I ran across the brickyard. Flashing devil horns, as always. Coming out of the track, I usually am able to pick it up, but my body just had nothing left. I started making stops at the water stations to pour water over my head. I took my Hammer Gel, but it was too late at this point. I was now just focusing on counting down the miles to the finish line. My training plan said to try to finish ahead of 1:44…it was going to be close.
At Mile 12, I did glance at the course clock. It was where I should have been heading to the finish. But this mile does bring in crowds and cheers and the road lined with checkered flags, so my staggering pace started to slightly (not by much) pick up. I ignored the people handing out the leis and just kept pressing on. In order to finish, I just needed to focus on getting my legs to move. I forgot how awful crossing that last bridge felt, but kept going…feeling like I was moving through mud. As I was in the last quarter mile, I noticed medics near the curb and a young woman laying on the ground. They were radioing for an ambulance. I made the final push, seeing the finish line and could see Cathy with the sign near it. And I powered through, crossing at 1:44 and change. I missed the goal by seconds that I was supposed to aim for in my training plan. But I was just glad to be done. Meb was supposed to leave after finishing to head to Texas for his brother’s wedding, but he was at the finish line for as long as he could be, and he happened to still be there after I crossed. He gave me a fist bump, and it made me at least smile at a moment when I didn’t really feel like smiling.
I made my way through the finisher’s area, getting my medal and my bag that then had snacks from bananas and fruit to Clif Bars tossed into it. I got my photo taken at the backdrop and then headed into the Runner Reunion area where the after party was happening.
Normally, this is where Cathy would meet me at the letter X and we would take photos and head back to the hotel so I could shower and all that. But she wasn’t there. I had looked for her as I was coming into the area, but never spotted her or the sign. So, for the next 30-40 minutes, I was wandering around trying to find her, always returning to X, just in case she showed up there. I was really upset about my race and now this was upsetting me more…but I finally spotted her near the entrance to the runner reunion and came up behind her. She gave me a hug and my official finishing time – 1:44:14. I just decided to harp on her about not being at X and she admitted that she “got cocky” and tried to catch me before that point.
We went to take a photo before heading back to the hotel. I needed to drink water, but I wasn’t ready to. My stomach wasn’t loving anything at this point. The lobby of the JW Marriott had employees handing out water bottles (bless them) and cold towels. It was just what I needed. I went up to my room and Cathy went to pack up some stuff and make my BCAAs up while I showered and changed. We were going to check out, leave our luggage, and head down to wait for Corey, Melissa and Paul.
When our friends finished, we gathered together under a shady tree and just…voiced our thoughts that day. Being that none of us have really had humid or warm days to run in up to this point, we were all glad to have finished and sweat it out. I know Melissa and I were not happy with our times, and our coach, Linda, called to talk to us about the race. I don’t know what she said to Melissa, but Linda said she was looking at my splits and I just looked like I got tired.
Told you…endurance is shit right now. MEH! I told her I felt good up until Mile 5 and then it just spiraled from there. I was frustrated and disappointed, but she was very uplifting and positive about it. Did it make me feel better about it? Not really. But the positive affirmations did so much for my mental state at that point.
After Cathy, Corey and Paul shared a beer and a half (they were apparently VERY stingy with the free beers offered at the after party), and we passed the lemon blossoms I baked around…we decided to make our way back to the hotel. I needed to actually start the recovery process with some nutrition and Paul and Melissa needed to change before we spent the rest of the day in and around Indianapolis. This was where we found out that the guy who came to take our luggage gave us the wrong tag. And this is where we all freaked out because my backpack had my Boston Marathon medal in it and Melissa’s wedding rings were in her bag. But, Cathy went back to find the correct cart and we did have our stuff. We went separate directions to let them go to the Fitness Center to change and us to get some coffee. Nutrition after a race is important to recovery and coming back strong. Sometimes I don’t want to eat anything, but I always make sure I do.
I drank my protein shake and, while it wasn’t what I wanted, it would do for now until we would get dinner. Melissa got a coffee and Paul got himself coffee and a sandwich of sorts from Starbucks. We decided to head out…headed to Greenwood for Half Price Books, Strange Brew Coffee…and finally…dinner at Hops & Fire. After that…the long drive home…where we once again talked the entire way.
So, the official results of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:14. It was definitely NOT the results I set out for or wanted. But you never know what will happen on race day. So, you learn from it. I was 1304/19,588 finishers overall. I was 224/10,403 female finishers. And I was 50/1438 finishers in my division! I am trying really hard to not let these results bother me. But I would be sugar-coating it to say that I was okay with this. I set out for a PR…and I didn’t come close. And yeah…I’m disappointed. But this just drives me to step up and try again. I’ve been chasing PRs for years now. Eventually one of them is bound to fall. Disappointed…yes. Deterred…never.
Three weeks ago (and I hope to put up a blog about this, but time has been short and I haven’t had much time to get online while home (and I’m not home much these days) so it hasn’t happened yet), I was out on a training run. Nothing big. It was supposed to rain and storm that morning, so I got up early and headed out in the dark to get in whatever I could, if not the entire run, before the weather moved in. I didn’t go too far from my apartment, again, just in case the weather rolled in, but I was running on a bit of the sidewalk that I normally didn’t run. It’s near a cemetery, which is fine, but the sidewalk can sometimes be a path of treachery. That morning…it was. It was Mile 3.4 of my run and…
I fell hard.
It was one of those moments that seem to happen in slow motion…but it probably played out hilariously fast and painfully. But it was early. No cars were on the road at that point and no one was hanging out at the cemetery gates or at the apartments across the street. My ankle twisted on…something. I don’t even know what…if it was a rock, a branch, the side of the sidewalk. I felt my ankle twist…I tried to compensate…but down I went…while heading down a hill.
Gravity…is a bitch.
I shook it off. Actually, I didn’t even pause my Garmin. I think it automatically paused. At that point, I could have cared less. I was a few weeks out from the half marathon I wanted to race (KDF was my warmup) so I needed to make sure I wasn’t broken. I popped up…looked at my feet (thanks headlamp), looked at my hands and arms…I was bloodied…but when I did this jog in place thing, nothing on my foot or ankle bothered me…so I kept going. And I finished the run, noting the scrapes on my knees, the road rash on my leg, and the gash on my hand from playing Slip-N-Slide with the sidewalk.
I took a shower…and went out for brunch (gluten free pancake FTW) that morning at North End Cafe and…after sitting, really started to feel my foot getting sore. But…I pressed on. Until I could no longer press on. Sitting for long periods of time or stopping my forward momentum became painful. At one point, I bought a bag of frozen edamame from Whole Foods (I already had frozen peas in my fridge, so I didn’t need more!) to put on my foot/ankle while Cathy (the roomie) finished up grocery shopping. By the time we got home, I was in tears and putting any weight on my foot was excruciating. Ice happened in 20 minute spurts the rest of the evening. I also had to bow out of the Louisville City soccer match that night because there was no way I was getting down the stairs at the apartment, let alone the stadium.
I told the roomie to go. And she almost did. But, in the end, she stayed with me. And ate popcorn and watched movies. For those who are curious…we watched Apollo 13 and then Coco (the new Pixar movie)!
All that being said, I woke up on Sunday and was able to walk. YAY!! I took through Wednesday off from running completely. I realized just as I was heading out that I was supposed to run Thursday, but it was early and I was suited up and it was a 30 minute run. And it all went well. Until my other foot started bothering me. I took more time off and called my podiatrist.
I was trying to make a long story short…so let me wrap this up. On the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon (it ran that Saturday) my podiatrist took X-rays of my feet and saw no fractures (but I have an extra bone in each foot!)…but I had some swelling in a muscle on the side of my foot I twisted…and my left foot (the one that now bothered me) had some stress reactions in the 2nd and 5th metatarsals. So…he taped me and told me to have some fun.
Good thing I wasn’t all-out racing this one.
That Friday, I did a short test run and, while a little sore, found everything manageable…and my friend Leah was aiming for a 2 hour marathon, which would keep my pace in check, I figured I had a game plan and one that wouldn’t destroy me. That night, my roomie and I met up with our local BFFs…Melissa & Paul Nolan…for dinner. Our fuel of choice…Dragon King’s Daughter. I’ve been finding that the rice, avocado, tamari combination has been working well for my body…so my dinner was two Vegan Sushi Rolls…the Spicy Tofu and the Green Acres.
They came back to the apartment so that Cathy could tape up Melissa (who had been dealing with an achy Achilles since the blast of cold at the New York City Half Marathon). They left after that to check out the Balloon Glow and I got busy baking Lemon Blossoms for the finish line and to stretch and foam roll.
I made a point to get to bed at a decent time and got up with enough time to do my stretching routine, eat breakfast, wake up the roommate (because she turned off her alarm and her door remained closed), get her coffee, get into my race clothes (I have some new black running shoes, so I thought I would emulate Des Linden at Boston and wear all black…NEVER AGAIN!), put my hair up, got my number pinned on, and waited for Melissa & Paul to come pick us up. She had VIP parking and we had nowhere to be until that evening (Louisville City soccer…and they were coming with us anyway), so it worked out.
We got down to Slugger Field to park, with the aid of Melissa’s barrier pass and VIP parking pass. YAY!! We got parked and I headed toward the statue outside Slugger Field to meet up with my running coach, Linda (who was running this race ONLY because she wanted to keep my pace slower than I would run it on my own) and Leah, who we were hoping to pace to a half marathon PR at the 2 hour mark (her current PR is 2:15).
There were a lot of photo ops happening…and I thought I missed the nuun Ambassador one, but Leah is one of the ambassadors and the other one, Jay, happened by, so we went ahead and snapped a photo. YAY!! Linda wanted to get into the corrals, so I missed the KDF Ambassador Alumni photo…but…it’s okay.
We worked our way into the corrals, where Linda got us positioned about the back of Corral B. She thought we were up in A…but she was wrong (and I was right, HA!). We stayed there though…but we realize in hindsight we should have probably dropped back further for Leah’s sake.
The National Anthem was beautifully sung and they prepped the wheelchair race to go off with a cannon. That misfired. So we got a “Ready? GO!” situation there.
Oh my my!
The elites were to be sent off next. With a cannon blast. Which also misfired. So…no boom…but the “GO” shout-out happened. So exciting.
And then…it was time for the rest of us. AND…the cannon still misfired so no big boom for us either. And…we made our way to the starting line…the three of us together…and we were off.
Too fast, honestly, to start. Both Linda and I noticed immediately that Leah’s breathing was too hard and fast so we reigned it in after the first mile. We attempted to do that, but the crowd was carrying us along and while I felt we were slowing down, the reality of the Gamin shows that we weren’t…but we weren’t too far ahead of the pace. But heading into Mile 4, Leah started walk breaks. This was fine, we now had an unintentional bank to work with. When she was ready, we started up again. She looked defeated…but we did our best to lift her spirits…and when she needed to walk again, she said her stomach was starting to act up. YIKES!
In fact, somewhere near Mile 7-ish, we found some port-a-potties just beyond the water stop so she could make a stop. Linda and I ducked off to the side to wait, and this was where we met up with Tonya, another of my friends who was an ambassador least year. She said she was having tummy troubles as well and this was her third stop. I’ll discover that this was a common theme among people that day. Maybe it was the change from winter to mid-50s weather. Who knows? I felt good though…and when Leah emerged, we started to run again.
And then Linda and I lost her as we neared my favorite part of the race: Churchill Downs. We hopped up on a curb and finally found her again, making the dash to take a photo in front of the famous horse track.
This is my absolute favorite part of the race. Every time I have run it. And, true to form, I did yell, “RUN LIKE PRETTY PONIES!” as we were entering it. The run down the hill through the tunnel and up into the infield was easy-peasy for me. And I don’t like hills. I got to the top with Linda and we realized we had lost our third again. We pulled off to the side…no horses out training yet…and waited a moment. She got to us…but she was walking. I knew that the race photographer was around the corner, and I really wanted some good photos this year inside Churchill Downs…so we got her running again through there. My photos, for the record, were crap again. MEH! I just am not a pretty runner.
We were heading out of Churchill Downs after walking and I spotted the next downhill out through the tunnel and back up toward the road. I said, “Linda, it’s a downhill. I HAVE to run the downhill.” She told me to go on and I got to the top, stepped off to the side, had Linda catch me and we waited for Leah. We could tell Leah was upset and frustrated, and while we helped get her to the split…where she was looking for another stop, Linda asked her what she wanted us to do.
And with that…we were off. Linda and I picked up the pace. Linda had originally wanted me to negative split this race (as I am horrible at finishing fast). So, we picked it up and ran a bit faster through Mile 10…then I held it steady through Mile 12. She told me to go on as she was going to slow herself down (she has the Flying Pig Full Marathon this weekend). And I made every attempt I could to pick it up and just FLY to that finish line. The 2 hour mark had just passed and I started weaving through the crowd, heading downtown via S 2nd Street before making the turn onto Main Street and heading the few blocks down it before the final turn and the finish line. I held on strong, just plugging away as much as I could. It’s hard for me to run slow and kick it in the end. My legs and body just don’t like to pick it up. So, this was a mental and physical struggle…but I was, honestly, ready to be done and off the course. I was also getting hungry because I was out there longer than I normally am. Is that weird?
I kicked it as much as I physically could make myself kick at that point. The song “Danger Zone” from Top Gun was playing, so that was motivational at least. And I crossed the finish line, happy that it was over. Linda apparently decided she didn’t want to slow down because she kicked it into high gear and was just behind me. I don’t know how she does it. She immediately said, “That was stupid.” LOL!! We went to get our medals and suddenly, Cathy was at our side!! Holy Moses. She somehow got into the finisher’s chute and walked with us around to get our water, our treats, and into the runner recovery area. Here we met up with some friends of Linda’s and then Linda went to get stuff from her car and try to catch one of her clients doing her first full marathon on the course. I went to Melissa and Paul’s car to change while Cathy went to get coffee. I needed coffee…trust me.
After that, we went to meet up with Melissa and Paul, who were finished and waiting for us in the Chicken Garden near Waterfront Park. We ended up taking the long way around, but we got to them, and I immediately doled out Lemon Blossoms from my stash. I also delivered a container of them to the Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town booth in the finisher’s area. WOOT! Mission: Accomplished. Melissa and Paul knew people who were out on the full course and waited to see them in. We, actually, ended up staying for the entire race…and didn’t leave until the last runner crossed.
Their friend, Britni, had almost an hour PR for her marathon time…which is amazing considering she almost died in a car accident the weekend before when driving home from Disney World (she did the Dark Side Challenge). And their other friend came in…and between all of us, we demolished the remainder of the Lemon Blossoms. Paul and Michelle Bolton found us too, and since Michelle is also a gluten-free runner…I passed on a few to her (as promised).
After sitting around and letting everyone relax…we decided it was time to head out and head home (because showers needed to happen for sure). We walked Britni to her car and she gifted Melissa and I with our BB-8 figures she picked up at Disney. I still owe Melissa money for that, now that I think of it. HA! And then we made the walk back to Slugger Field’s parking lot, stopping to take a few photos with the finish line, while it was still up. After that, we needed to make our way back to Southern Indiana. We got back to the Nolan’s house and we transferred everything to our car, told them we’d see them around 4:30 to grab Indian food before heading to the soccer match that night.
So, the official results of the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon are that I finished in 2:05:03 (my slowest KDF miniMarathon and one of my slower half marathons). I was 2517/8268 finishers overall. I was 965/4792 female finishers. And I was 195/748 finishers in my division. There was definitely no negative splits this time around. In fact…my first half of the race average a 9:13/mile and my last half was a 9:32/mile. Ah well…you win some; you lose some. It was definitely not the race I wanted or intended to run, nor did I hit any of the goals I had set out for this race, except not to blow myself up actually racing it. It does suck though…as this is the first year I won’t get a Top 100 Female Finisher award. Dang it.
And if that wasn’t enough excitement…the Indian food was amazing and something the four of us had all been craving…and Louisville City FC got the WIN that night. So…yeah…in the end…it was all good.
As for the foot/ankle situation…they can be little twingy at times, but seem to be on the mend. I also am still allergic to the tape adhesive, so I’ve had to remove it for the next few days and will tape it up again for the weekend. All-in-all…I’m on the mend and looking forward to my next race.
Maybe this time I can fly.
It all depends on these feet…the weather…and just, overall, needing those perfect conditions for the magic to happen. It will. Whether it’s the next race or another one. If anything the past few years has taught me…and this whole running slower thing as well…is patience.
OH!! I also learned that people look for me at races wearing bright colors or a super hero costume, so none of my friends who were out cheering saw me that day. And those in the race thought they saw me and then said, “But that person was in all black so it couldn’t have been you.” Guess what. It was. Go figure. I was trying to get my Desi Linden on and instead I got my race ninja on. Even Cathy told me I wasn’t ever allowed to wear all black to a race because I wasn’t easy to spot coming into the finish line. Live and learn, friends.
I am a runner. An average middle-of-the-pack runner.
Or so I thought.
That is…until I got deeper into the running community. And I realized…I’m a bit of an anomaly in this particular fellowship. Maybe I’m not so average.
Maybe I am actually a black sheep. A unicorn. I’m feeling more and more like a star trying to fit into a round hole (as my roommate so blatantly put it awhile back when I took a moment to whine about this very subject).
I am a runner…that didn’t run as a child. No cross country or track in high school. Basically my running in my non-adult years was the bases of a softball field. IF I was fortunate enough to hit the ball. I wasn’t much good at hitting. I was a damn good catcher though. Maybe squatting was more my thing.
I’m digressing. Back on track…
I am a runner…that will never have some inspirational Transformation Tuesday photos. If anything, my pictures tell a very different story. I started running just after being diagnosed with Celiac. My body was depleted of essential nutrients that it stopped absorbing. My pictures show someone going from being tiny and maybe fitting that “fit” standard all social media aspires to…to someone with a little bit of meat on her bones and muscle tone that isn’t as defined because my body is healthy. Maybe the scale tells me things I don’t like…but I feel strong and I feel healthy…and that beats a number on the scale anytime.
I am a runner…that didn’t start running to lose weight, maintain a certain lower weight, or to make my body smaller. In fact…the more years I’ve run, the more I’ve weighed. I keep hoping it’s muscle and not the desserts I love so much. HA. (It’s okay, though, if it actually is the desserts because we all need to live a little!)
I am a runner…who didn’t take up running in place of other habits such as smoking or drinking. I never took up this sport to replace some demon I was battling or some habit I was dispensing of at the time. It was never my rehab.
Nope. Much like Forrest Gump…one day, I just felt like running.
But what I have discovered is that this isn’t your typical running story…and in a sense, it has left me feeling like quite the outsider in a truly diverse community. And it’s perplexing how I can be surrounded by great people…and yet still find myself running alone more times than not. How is it that in a community that has every shape and size of person…I just don’t fit?
I think social media recently illuminated this light bulb and got me thinking on this particular subject. Good or bad…the gears started turning in my head.
Awhile back…when lots of Transformation Tuesday posts were still fresh in my head…my local MRTT/SRTT social media post showed a pic of two of the chapter leaders and invited everyone to tag their BRFs (Best Running Friends). And this is where it all clicked with me. I have this great community all around me…and yet…I do 90% of my runs alone.
And this wasn’t always the case. When I first started running, and after a big bridge repair happened and made going over to Louisville a lot easier, I started running Monday nights from a new running store in the Highlands of Louisville. It was the Monday Fun Run and I showed up, the girl from Indiana, who didn’t know anyone there…and afraid I’d be running alone and get lost…had people to run with for the first time. My first run, I met Courtney, who was kind enough to run with me and guide me around the Loop at Cherokee Park, because I was certain I’d get lost as I didn’t run in Louisville unless it was a race…and that’s marked out…and…and…she was awesome. And she put up with my RunKeeper clicking off my pace and miles from my pocket…because I didn’t own a Garmin yet. Courtney and I are still friends…and this store brought so many more people into my life. Especially when I started training for marathons in 2013. That Monday group invited me to come and join them on their weekly long runs as I dove into marathon training for the first time. A large group of people met up at the running store (the store is gone now) every Saturday morning for long runs. All paces. All levels. Everyone welcome. As someone who met this group by taking a chance, I decided it would be a much more fun way to train. I love running with people. And from there…I gained a lot of friendships and running buddies. I ran fast…I ran slow…but I always had someone to guide me through the process and take me the next mile week after week after week.
And keep me from getting lost in Louisville. (I actually do get lost…a lot).
But…these days I feel like I’ve lost all of that. Many members of that group no longer run together. Some have health issues that prevent them from participating in the sport anymore or for right now. Some have just taken to training solo. Some have outgrown the group because they’ve gotten superhuman speed or are doing triathlons so their focus has to be on other aspects. Some are battling injuries. Some are taking time away…for no other reason except that they want to explore other hobbies that they enjoy and need time to do.
And all of that is fair. And fine. We all have our own goals and aspirations and restrictions and limitations.
I am always game to run with people, but as someone who is known as one of the “fast” runners (I’m really not…but thank you!), I feel like everyone feels intimidated and doesn’t want to slow me down.
Insert my coach saying, “PLEASE…SLOW HER DOWN!”
The great thing about running is that it can be an individual sport, but it can also be a team sport or a sport that you can buddy up or form groups and make the miles tick away as you please. Where I see so many groups out there running together, I feel like my training and my so called “speed” have left me more isolated than ever before. And it sucks. It sucks, because I am such a social person, and I love the social aspect of training with people and running with people, because that can be far more entertaining than waiting on the next beep from the Garmin watch, or simply getting lost in the sound of my footfalls on another empty road or my breathing as I run, perhaps, a little harder than I need to be for a training run…because my mind is now focused on nothing more than finishing another solo run. It’s definitely more rewarding.
I probably sound like I’m whining…
I guess…being someone without a past in running, or someone who has dropped weight, or someone who has overcome addiction…I guess it just makes me a bit more of an outsider. And, yeah, sometimes I’m jealous. People with stories are the people who inspire others. No one gets inspired by the girl who just one day decided to run instead of walk…and has had to battle back after some pretty bad (and always poorly timed) injuries…time and time again…because people usually give you the, “Oh…I’m sorry you got injured…again.” look or tone or whatever. I don’t like being the person who gets told, “you’re so injury prone,” or that “You shouldn’t do that because it will make you get injured again. You’re always getting injured.” There was a time where that didn’t matter…but now it’s so ingrained in my head that I feel like pushing the limits in running will just lead to injury. Funny how people can change your way of thinking…and make you feel like less of a person, even if that isn’t their intention.
Yep…I have been injured. What runner hasn’t? But, it seems that in the time I have had to take off from running was when my community crumbled and scattered and all that’s left are a few bits of the foundation…and, God, am I ever thankful for them. Because, I’ve not had an easy time of it, regardless of what people think. When you’re told by both your orthopedic doctor and your physical therapist that your body just isn’t built for running…but this is the one sport that you’ve actually been able to show up for, enjoy, and, sometimes, even be good at…well, stopping is not an option.
Not yet, anyway!
Through all of this…the very struggles that make elite runners feel human…is where I have felt the most lonely. My comebacks have been slow, steady, and silent. My setbacks have been disappointing to myself and to those I felt were counting on me to show up every weekend and run some miles with them. It’s all a very internalized struggle that just recently showed me how very different I am from most people I know who are runners.
But I’m not an outsider. I’m one of them. I just came to it differently. I fight for it differently. I do it for different reasons. And sometimes…when I’m digging into another mile on a long training run, I need to remember MY WHY.
It’s not always easy being an average girl, with an average build, who runs a rather average speed, an average amount of times a week, who has been pretty basic her entire life…with an average story…feeling anything but average in this life these days.
I’m okay with being average. Just…tell me there are more out there like me. Because I’m looking for you!