Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (October 19, 2019)

 

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Me finishing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Race: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 19, 2019

Time: 1:42:48

Oh, Urban Bourbon…it’s been a hot second.  I haven’t run this race since 2016.  Not because I haven’t wanted to.  Probably mostly due to training for other things, or injury…or whatnot.  Honestly, when races happen in my own backyard, I try to make a point to show up to them when possible.

So, trust me, I was happy when my coach gave me the green light to include this race into my training cycle as we began to head into taper.  Kinda.  Because I was under the impression that I would get to basically cruise through these additional races on the calendar, using them as easy training runs, right?

Nope.  Marathon pace.  That’s what I was told.  For both this one and Fort Ben.  Well, we all know I ran a little too fast at Fort Ben (despite the hills).  But, that wasn’t all bad.  Except my fast finish run on Sunday the following day pretty much felt like trash.  So…we repeated the hell week of speed work pretty much every day.  I did this just before Fort Ben too…but he really wanted me closer to my actual marathon pace this time.  So, I worked out a plan in my head to line up with the 1:45 pacer and stick with them.  I’d be slightly faster, but it would keep me steady and on pace.

Friday just after I ate lunch…I stopped by the coffee shop next to my office to say “HI” to my friend, Melissa.  Then, my roommate and I headed down to Slugger Field for packet pickup.  Melissa, her hubby, and their baby were coming down shortly behind us.  Picking up the packet was a breeze.  I was bib 306…first window.  AND…to make things better, my personal trainer and friend…and the Volunteer Coordinator for the Louisville Sports Commission, Corey, was right there to give me a hug.  We chatted for a few minutes, but Cathy and I needed to skedaddle back to the office (BOOO!).  As we were leaving, Melissa, Paul and the baby were arriving.  We were going to give them our parking space, but one opened up just slightly closer.  That being said, Melissa still managed to give my SRTT magnet a flip before we parted ways.

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My “magic sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter

Finished up the day at work before heading over to Dragon King’s Daughter.  Because that’s where the “magic sushi” combo is.  I had my usual…the Gluten Free Spicy Tofu and the Gluten Free Green Acres Rolls.  Devoured them.  Went home to stretch and get to bed.  It was going to be an early morning.

Race morning came…and I think I actually slept well going into it.  YAY!  I didn’t lay anything out the night before.  Didn’t think to do it.  Oh well.  I wasn’t too worried about it.  I took my vitamins and ate my overnight oats that I had prepared the night prior…sticking with my fueling plan I am using for my marathon in November.  I stretched.  I hydrated.  I changed.  And, yes, I even put on sunscreen.  All the things.  I remembered my anklet and my race bib (long story, but both of those involved turning around and heading home at a different local race soon after I got back into running after the hip labrum tear).  On track.  The original thought was to come home after the race so I could shower and we could make a brunch happen…but I packed a backpack with a change of clothes because Cathy was kind of leaning toward staying over on that side of the river post-race…getting brunch, picking up a Cinnamon Roll & Donut from Annie May’s (for breakfast on Sunday), and getting some of our grocery shopping (it ended up barely being any of it) done while there.  I was game to come home and save a bit of money…so we decided we’d pack for options.

It was a bit on the chilly side that morning…but I was planning on wearing what I wanted to wear for my marathon. It’s what I’ve been wearing at my races…so I know it works.  I was just concerned about freezing near the start.  Luckily, Cathy wasn’t doing a 5K at this one and I could shed clothing just before the start (so I could stay semi-warm leading into it) and leave them with her.  I like when that happens.  I know I have throwaway items for a reason…I just hate leaving them behind when I could probably get use of them again down the line.  So…that was a plus.  She pinned my bib on…I went to mix up my Maurten 160 Drink Mix…and we were out the door.

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Bib is on and ready to head out to run!

The drive into Louisville wasn’t bad at all.  We didn’t even hit traffic.  Cathy found a parking garage that was a bit of a walk to and from the start and finish area…but it would allow for easy exit as no roads would be blocked.  We found a spot and sort of hung out in the warm car for a little while.  Eventually, we did decide to start heading toward the start of the race, which was on W Jefferson Street.  It was here that I met up with my training partner, Ron.  He wasn’t sure what his plan was for this race, but he was going to line up with the 1:40 pacer.  It was at this moment, I realized there was no 1:45 pacer.  There was a 1:40 and a 1:50.  So…I decided I would just have to line up in between them and try not to pass or be passed.

I mean…that seems like a logical and good plan, right?

As the race start drew nearer, and the sky turned BEAUTIFUL shades of cotton candy pink and purple (Louisville was showing off!), Ron went to go shed his layers and I went to go see if I could make the MRTT/SRTT Louisville photo.  It was at Panara Bread.  I noticed how full the corrals were getting as I headed that way, and after a short walk and not seeing where I needed to be…I opted to instead turn back and try to find my spot for a good start to the race.  I never seem to make photo ops before races unless they are right near the start line.

This turned out to be a good decision.  The only way into the start area was through the back of the corral.  I had to shed my warm outer layer and go try to find a spot.  It was REALLY crowded and I entered, finding my friend Tracy and tapping her on the shoulder, and she said, “Hey…shouldn’t you be further up.”  HA!  She wasn’t wrong…and it was really hard to move through the tight crowd of people.  There was a lot of me tapping people on the back, asking them if I could slide through, saying a lot of “Sorry” and “Thank you.”  BUT…I got there.  Whew.

Ron gave me a high five and told me that if I passed him, he was going to yell at me to slow down.  Which was the best idea ever.  Fun fact…I never passed him so he can save yelling at me for another day.

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Me heading out of the start at the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

The National Anthem was played and we all moved up toward the start line.  A gun went off…and so did we.  I gave a wave to Cathy on the sideline as I ran past…and really just felt good that morning.  YAY!  To be honest, while it was chilly (41° F) at the start, it was ideal running weather and was supposed to warm up as the morning went on.  That being said, unlike at Fort Ben a couple of weekends before this race…I ended up keeping my gloves on and not shedding them.

So, there are actually quite a few turns in the first mile of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon.  It starts off nice and flat and fast…and you don’t even realize you’re running that fast until you hit that first mile marker.  It was, as I said, the perfect morning for a half marathon.  The sun was coming up.  It was crisp and cool.

And I settled in pretty quickly into a rhythm.  It was, for the first mile and a half, with a tall guy who was constantly commenting on how he couldn’t believe how far up the 1:40 pacers were at the start.  Let it go, dude.  Let it go.  They have a pace they are going to run.  Those who can go faster…will.  We also had to run past EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which meant we were greeted by a guy with a speaker and a microphone basically preaching to us about why abortion is bad.  Dude…we’re running a race here.  Go do something useful with your time.

I knew I was pretty fast on my first mile, so I made a point to back off as we the loop leading into the second mile, and taking us back onto E Witherspoon.  We turned this time though, heading onto Preston before turning again E Muhammad Ali Blvd.  A couple more turns, keeping my pace in the mid to low 7:40s…which was still faster than I should have been…but I hadn’t passed Ron yet and 1:50 wasn’t coming up on me.  It was still early, and I knew the hardest part of the race would happen once we got into the park.  For now, I’d just soak it in.  Once we got onto Lexington Rd I was in some pretty familiar (even though it had been ages since I’ve run it) territory!  YAY!

It was along this stretch between Miles 4 and 5 that I high-fived some kids, tried to find a spot on the road where I wasn’t running on the shoulder (that had lots of debris from trees) but also not running on the grade of the road, which is kinda tilted at this point.  My watched beeped a bit before I saw the Mile 5 marker…and I was questioning how I screwed up the tangents already (NOTE: I don’t actually run tangents…but my watch was WAY ahead of the mile marker).  As we crossed Grinstead, we had to avoid the rubble and construction stuff (there were LARGE concrete tube-things (technical term) on the side of the road, and lots of dust and stones in their wake), but this is also where we turn and head into Cherokee Park.

Welcome…to the land of hills.

I want to give a shout-out to one of my training partners this past summer…Christine…because she had us running these hills pretty much every weekend.  And I think that, while I slowed down some on these climbs, I handled them better than I would have.  So…thanks, Christine!  That being said, I have run in Cherokee Park so many times, that I know what the hills entail.  So, I respected that.  And I respected the goal of this race, which was not to kill myself trying to race it, but to aim for marathon pace.  Slowing down, if necessary, was perfectly fine.  And the hills were my reminder of that.  While I still pushed up them, I didn’t push too hard…I let it be a hill and allowed my work, but not overwork.  There was nothing to prove at this race.  I was just here to finish.

We go into the park just before Mile 6 and we exit the park just before Mile 10.  So, that’s about 4 miles inside Cherokee Park.  And this is where you get to experience the major climbs, but also, the best part of the race.  Cherokee Park, no matter how many times you run it, is beautiful.  And in the fall, I think it’s even better.  Highlights for the race all happened inside the park.  I do want to say, I appreciate the photographers inside the park being just before that HUGE, winding climb to Hogan’s Fountain. You still look good, because when you get to the top, you pretty much feel and look like death…except you go downhill after that.  Making the turn, my friend, Dan, was at the bottom.  I heard him cheering for me and I high-fived him as I ran past.  Up another hill.  THE BEST water stop around was Water Stop 5…run by MRTT/SRTT Louisville.  Costumes, cheers, and a whole lot of noise.  My name was in chalk on the ground.  My name was shouted and I had LOUD cheers as I ran through.  Just the boost you need after all those killer hills.  Itw as phenomenal!  I love being in a girl gang!  Around Mile 9, my friend Simon caught up to me.  I could hear him coming though…because he was complimenting everyone on their dogs.  I got to hear that for the rest of the race, and it kept a smile on my face.

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So…much…bourbon! Runners get 4 bourbon tastings at the after party!

We head out of the park and head back downtown.  At this point, I was ready for my legs to just pick it back up, but after Cherokee (and this seemed to be a sentiment shared by lots of runners that Saturday)…the legs just had no go.  The hills ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So, I just pressed on, once again reminding myself that having no go here was fine.  This wasn’t my goal race.  I just settled in, and eventually my legs picked it up a little, just not much.  I was ready to be done.

The last few miles went by relatively quickly, and when I hit Mile 12, I did start to pick it up a little more.  There was more of a crowd, there were lots of encouraging cheers…and I could almost feel the electricity of that finish line.  Making the final turn to run it in felt amazing…and, per usual, I threw my arms up as I crossed…because every finish line, whether you are first or last, should be treated like you won the damn thing!  Always celebrate that finish line.

My training partner, Ron, had made it in exactly a minute ahead of me.  We high-fived and hugged, collecting our medals, and making our way through the snacks to go to the afterparty (where I promised my roomie my beer and pizza…I can’t eat them…because gluten), and I was hoping to give away my bourbon tags…but I ended up having no one to share them with.  It was pretty windy and chilly.  I put my sweatshirt back on after standing around for a moment.  Eventually, Cathy and I needed to go.  We decided to grab a real breakfast at North End Café…then get some goodies for my post-run breakfast on Sunday (another 13.1 miles) from Annie May’s…and grab some groceries before heading home.

It was a great day to have a great race.  I need to just keep this one on my radar every year, because Michael Clemons is phenomenal as a race director and ALWAYS puts on a great event.

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Ron (my training partner) and me at the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

So, my official results of the 2019 Urban Bourbon Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:42:48.  Not mad at all at that time, because I finished within my goal range, between the 1:40 and 1:50 pace groups.  I was, technically, only 5 minutes faster than my marathon pace, and my coach said I maintained a great pace on this (aka: he wasn’t mad at it).  I was 208/3026 finishers overall.  I was 40/1739 female finishers in this race.  And I was 6/301 in my age division!  Sometimes, working in some races to the training plan is a great way to figure out where you are with your training…or a good way to squeeze in a training run (keep that pace easy and controlled) and earn a medal in the process.  Definitely coming back next year!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #17

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornThis is how my week started out.  My training plan came through Sunday evening, before I had gone to bed.  I opened it…expecting a lot less intensity and  fewer miles.  What I got was a repeat of the week of speed work.  I actually replied to my coach’s message with, “Well, this wasn’t the week I was expecting.”  He knew I was fresh off a 22 miler, and told asked me if I felt like I was too beat up to do it.

Honestly, I knew I could do it.  Mentally…I didn’t want to.  This was taper.  Right?  Physically, though, I knew I could do it and told him as much.  And so…the week of speed work returned…with a vengeance.

Let’s get into it…because while the workouts are all a repeat…how I ran them definitely was different.

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

I woke up on Monday morning feeling restless and tired.  It’s been happening a lot this training cycle – I’m just not able to sleep well after long or hard workouts.  And that, my friends, sucks!  A LOT!  So, I was tired.  But on top of that, my left hamstring (which apparently wants to be tight after every long run I do on hills) was tight and sore.  AND…on top of that, I had a few other aches that were niggling at me.  I got dressed, feeling moody, and went out for my base pace run…not even sure if I’d actually be able to do it…and not really sure I could do the strides at this point.  The good news is…after about 2 miles, it all felt better and I really started to flow.  I didn’t push the pace at all this time…but I did decide that things felt good enough to do those strides.  I knocked them out, feeling a bit of speed in my legs and was grateful that everything seemed to work itself up as I warmed up.  I did my additional hip strengthening exercises afterwards when I was working in my morning stretches.  And later that day, I met with Corey for my personal training session.  He, being an athlete himself, was very considerate of my hamstring and we worked with it and around it.  Later that night, I made sure to foam roll everything really well.  I had commented on my training plan that my hamstring was bothering me, and Daniel (my coach) did reply with that if I still felt beat up, to cut out the speed work tomorrow and just do a base pace run. I went to bed early, per usual, uncertain of how my morning run would go.

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

Well, my hamstring felt much better when I woke up on Tuesday morning.  That was a good thing.  And while I had an out…I decided that unless something didn’t feel right on the 2 mile warm up, I would do the speed work exercise that day.  And this particular day was none other than – Mona Fartleks.  If you’re an avid reader, you’re very familiar with these by now.  If you’re just joining me on this journey…here’s how these work: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  I felt good this morning.  Really good.  I hit all my paces hard and fast.  I recovered, keeping it faster than base pace.  And I managed to hit 3 new records on my Garmin.  Of course, I deleted these because they weren’t under race conditions (this is just how I do it…some people would have kept them, and that’s fine).  So, you could say I was feeling much better.  I surprised myself that day, even managing a 6-minute something mile for my one mile hard effort.  I don’t know HOW I did it…but I did.  And I won’t argue with the data.  After a shower, I did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.

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.

I was looking forward to Wednesday.  I really was.  Because this was the morning I got to chill.  I actually slept in an hour later, knowing that my run would be shorter and easier.  This was the one day this week that would not have some speed element in it.  And I was going to chill and just enjoy it.  And while some of my splits registered faster than they felt (not that that is a bad thing…but I really try to keep easy miles easy on these days), I didn’t want to overdo anything.  I ran 5 miles, nice and easy.  That was my day.  Just my morning and evening stretches and some foam rolling.  I went to bed just after 7:30 pm because I knew what hell awaited me in the morning.  And it was a double-digit weekday run.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.

I slept really well coming into this workout.  For that, I was relieved.  But, I still woke up sort of dreading this run. First of all, it was cold outside, in the low 40s.  It was windy.  And I really hate double digit runs on weekdays.  I work very hard and sometimes put in long days, so when I have to wake up 30-60 minutes earlier than I normally would to squeeze in marathon training…it makes me grumpy.  I get the value of an occasional mid-distance run during the week, but as someone who already runs pretty early in the morning…these get really hard to fit in more often than not.  My body felt good, and I made sure that I kept my pace truly easy for the first 10 miles.  Then, I just pushed it on the last 3 miles.  I did this better than I had the week previously that I had done this same week of workouts…which was nice, because I was also fighting headwinds on my uphills (that’s not an exaggeration…my hills all had me running INTO the wind).  But I got it done.  And it was a relief to put it behind me.  I showered and started to do my stretches (which I had intended to do twice because I had plans that evening), but remembered that I needed to make Friday’s lunch for the office because I wouldn’t have time to make it tonight before we’d have to head out the door to Derby Dinner (I won tickets).  So, I did that…then finished my stretches…but never did get to foam rolling or the second round of stretches.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Thank God for rest days!!  I was up WAY past my bedtime on Thursday night with Derby Dinner Playhouse.  It was fun.  But I was tired and really ready for bed when I got home (and still had to change, brush my teeth, take out contacts, etc)…so I crashed hard.  I set an alarm for my usual Friday morning time and woke up with the alarm, but wasn’t ready to get out of bed.  Fifteen minutes later…I did haul myself out of bed to shower, stretch, drink coffee, and get ready for work.  I left the office shortly after lunch to head to Slugger Field to pick up my packet for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon.  I met up with my friends Corey, Paul and Melissa…and that was fun…but I sadly had to go back to work.  I finished up the day, went over to Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi”…and then went home to settle in, stretch and foam roll.  I went to bed at normal time…and set an alarm with enough time to get up and get ready without feeling rushed.

Saturday: URBAN BOURBON HALF MARATHON AT MARATHON PACE

I’ll have an entire blog on this race.  Let’s just say, I still finished sooner than I probably should have.  But my plan to line up with the 1:45 pacer was thwarted by the fact that there was a 1:40 pacer and a 1:50 pacer.  So I figured if I stayed in between them…I’d be doing fine.  I forgot how much the hills in Cherokee can beat up your legs.  Thankfully, my training partner, Christine, often had us run that particular way and route around the park, so even though it had been awhile, my legs had done it often enough.  I started off way too fast…eased it back…got killed by the hills (thank goodness my marathon is flat)…ran through the best water station run by MRTT/SRTT Louisville where I got a ton of screams and cheers, and then…finished strong, even though the legs were pretty much done by the 15K mark.  Press on.  Get it done.  I officially logged a 1:42:48 half this week, purposefully easing back on the pace.  I’ll take it.  OH…and this was my 40th half marathon I have run to date.  And that was with 2 years of little to no running due to injuries.  Not too shabby!

Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

Ever have one of those days where you want to be excited about the run that is assigned to you, but just can’t.  That was this morning.  I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to run a third 13.1 miles for the week.  I was fighting it all morning.  And I was in a very bad mood when I realized that the sunrise wasn’t until 7:59 am.  I hate this time of year ONLY for that reason.  That and winter coming too soon.  But the temps today were a beautiful 57°-60° in the morning.  I decided not to wait until it got light out, but to go ahead and put on some reflective gear, get some mileage done, then ditch it at home before finishing it up.  That’s exactly what I did.  And I kept a pretty steady pace for those first 8 miles.  Then…I picked it up.  The first two fast finish miles felt fine.  It got hard after that. The legs were not wanting to push and I just had to keep giving myself those pep talks and letting it feel hard.  I was glad to finish up that run, for sure.

For it being taper, I logged 60 miles this week.  I’m really hoping the intensity and mileage start to go down from here.  I feel like I’m getting stronger, but I’m feeling pretty beat up at times…so a nice taper would feel amazing right now.  And I love long runs, but I just want to be sure I feel ready, able, and rested for November 9th’s starting line.

Feeling very inspired, confident, and ready right now.  Three more weeks.  Let’s do this thing!

Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure 5K – Louisville, KY (October 12, 2019)

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The Brady Bunch team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K

Race: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 12, 2019

Time: 21:34*

Sometimes the race isn’t about who crosses that finish line first.  Sometimes the race is surviving.  Thriving.  Proving that there is life after breast cancer.

If you ever want to feel uplifted by the strength of the human spirit…do one of these events.

I ran the Race for the Cure back in 2011, when I was new-ish to running.  My mom and dad were visiting and they got to see me run across that finish line.  It was the first time they ever got to see me run.  And my mom said to me, “Baby, you don’t run…you fly.”  I ran that year to honor my my friend’s mom.  Back then, it was an officially timed event.  This year…there was a clock, but unless you were a survivor…your bib strictly gave the year…2019.

In case you are new to the blog, my mom, Dottie, was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January.  She’s been through chemo and radiation, and will be finishing up this round of chemo in late January.  Her journey hasn’t been easy.  She’s had good days, bad days, good months, bad months, bad side effects, people who cut her out of their lives as the treatments took their toll on her.  But through the entire process, she’s been positive, kept a good attitude, and just done everything in her power to look on the bright side…even when there wasn’t a lot of good happening.

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My mom: Dottie Brady

So, when I saw that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was happening on a weekend where I could slide it into my training schedule, I decided to put together a team who could run not just for my mom, but to honor those they know who have battled through breast cancer, and maybe those at the race who are survivors or still in the midst of their battle.

Guys…I have amazing people in my life, because I had a lot of people sign up to run for my team: The Brady Bunch.

This is also where I give a big shout-out to Kelly, because she picked up packets for everyone at Oxmoor while she was there.  That saved me a trip and made it SO easy on race day.  So…get yourself a friend like Kelly.  Or meet Kelly.  Because she’s the best.

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Broccoli Masala from Shalimar in Louisville, KY – not my usual pre-race eats!

Normally before a race, I would get my vegan sushi combo that has been working for me this training cycle…but…I also had a 22 mile run on Sunday, which I figured would be the better option for that.  And, since we were meeting up with my roomie’s sister, Amanda, to go to the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park (TRADITION), we went out to our favorite Indian restaurant in Louisville – Shalimar.  I got the usual (since my run was short and not long) of Broccoli Masala.  Extra spicy.  My favorite.  Then it was off to get hot apple cider at Highland Coffee and head to Iroquois Park, where we had kettle corn while waiting for our time to head into the path with all the pumpkins.

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Part of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Louisville, KY

This did make for a late night, and I went to bed the moment we got home because I had to get up early enough to stretch and figure out what I was going to wear.  A front moved through with the rain overnight, so we suddenly were plunged into the 30s in the morning.  My original plan to wear shorts was tossed out the window.  But, our theme for our team was wear something pink (of course), green (my mom’s favorite color), and/or something with polka dots (since my mom’s name is Dottie).  And I happened to have a pair of green leggings with polka dots on them.  I had bought some pink compression sleeves that had polka dots on them.  I had a pink short sleeve shirt.  Green arm warmers.  And pink gloves.  I even had a Bondi Band with polka dots on it.  I was covered.  So, I got dressed and made sure I had my anklet on and my hair pulled up in proper pigtails (with pink and green hair extensions, naturally).  I ate a quick breakfast of gluten free cereal (short race) and my roomie (also running, so no cheer squad and finish line photo for me) and I headed out the door to get to Cardinal Stadium.

Remember…it was cold outside.  So, Cathy and I basically hung out in the car for as long as we could (we got their earlier than expected).  My runner’s metabolism kicked in, because suddenly I was starving and I had over an hour until race time.  I knew I should have brought backup.  We got out of the car and donned some trash bags to insulate.  Then, we meandered our way toward the team meet-up spot…Gate 4…which just happened to be near the start/finish and the stage.  We were there for about 10 minutes, and then, one-by-one, my team started to arrive.  Kelly and Elizabeth arrived, toting the bags with bibs and shirts.  Then Tiffany and Kaleigh arrived as well.  Dennis was the last one to arrive (we had more people registered, but other commitments and/or sickness took some out at the last minute).  We wrangled everyone together for a group picture, then Dennis went to go warm up and the rest of us watched some of the Parade of Hope (Survivor’s Parade).  The national anthem was sung, and all runners and walkers lined up to await the 9 am start of the race.  As I was standing near the front, a woman (definitely a survivor) looked over at me and said, “Are you a runner?  Are you running this?”  I said, “Yes ma’am.”  And she said, “Run for me.”

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Me heading out at the start of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Louisville, KY

We had a fun countdown from 10 seconds to go…and then we were all off.  I was only under orders to not run all out on this race, so I decided to run comfortably hard, aiming for around a 23 minutes.  I felt strong, despite not being able to feel my feet/toes due to the cold air.  I passed a few people as we headed down the corridor and made the turn onto S. Floyd Street.  That put me up front as the first female and I was feeling pretty good.  We rounded onto Central Avenue and up, up, up the hill we went.  I usually get slowed down by hills, but my legs wanted to go.  I powered up it, and rode that downhill on the other side (downhill, after all, is my favorite speed), making the turn onto S 3rd Street.

I ran through the water top, minding the bump of the casing over the cords.  Then through the tunnel I went.  I popped out, somehow missing that first mile indicator on my watch.  I made the turn to run down and around Eastern, looping back and then heading down to make a loop of a small section of the U of L campus.  Then, I was heading back toward the finish line (same as the start).  Back down S Third Street I went.  Still felt amazing and strong.  And I was lifted even more as I hit Mile 2 and got shout-outs and waves from teammates Kelly and Elizabeth.  Then Tiffany.  Then my friend Jamie gave me a shout-out. I headed down the hill to go under the overpass and I could see Cathy coming down on the other side.  She must have seen me too, because as I am running through, she literally stops to poke her head through and shout at me, “FIRST FEMALE.”

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I’ve pretty much known Kelly since I moved here…because I met her at my first job I got in Indina

This is what friends do.

It was just before I made the turn back onto Central that I caught up to the man ahead of me.  He told me “good job.” I kicked it past him and started up that stupid hill.  I did push the hill, mostly because I tend to get passed on hills and I really didn’t want to be passed again.  The people who were doing the walk were cheering and screaming at me as I crested it and headed down the hill to make the turn back onto S. Floyd St.  More cheers of encouragement as I headed down the road and turned back toward where the start/finish line was.

My watch beeped the third mile as I was heading in, way too soon before I would hit that finish line…but I just ran it in.  There was no timing mat or anything…but here was this race…this amazing race…that I signed up for to honor my mom…and I crossed the finish line as the 3rd overall (there were 2 other guys ahead of me) and first female.  I have no finish line photos, because my race photographer (aka: Cathy – the roomie) was in the actual race itself.  I was announced as the first female and was complimented on my hair.  A woman came over and asked me if I had run the entire race.  I nodded and I told her I had done it to honor my mom and she pulled me in for a tight hug.  I needed it.

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My amazing team post-race! I am lucky to have such good people in my life!

I grabbed a bottle of water and went to the other side of the finish line to cheer in everyone, including the first survivor to cross the finish line.  The survivors got medals, and it was just so amazing and moving to see them all come in.  I cheered in strangers, team members, and just enjoyed this part of the race.  And, even though I had one of my strongest races, one of my best 5Ks in years…this wasn’t one giving out age group awards or placement awards.  And none of it mattered to me at that moment.  My mom was the reason I was there, knowing all that she had gone through over the span of the year, and was still currently fighting through…and that finish line moment was for her.  Knowing I raced the best I could that day to honor her battle was award enough.  Third overall…first female…strong day that morning.

So, the reason I have the asterisk by my time is not just because the race measured short on my watch…but because it was honestly not timed, and truly…the real finishes that we should celebrate are those who crossed that finish line having gone through or are currently going through treatments.  I hope to return to this one again next year.

To those of you who were on my team, whether you were able to run that morning or not…THANK YOU!!  Your show of support meant the world to me and I am honored to have such amazing people in my life.

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?

Downtown Doubler 15K/30K – New Albany, IN (September 8, 2019)

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Me finishing the Downtown Double 30K – New Albany, IN

Race: Downtown Doubler 15K/30K

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: September 8, 2019

Time: 2:26:39

I can’t miss a race when it happens on my training grounds, right?  RIGHT?!  Also, it totally coincided with my marathon training and worked as my weekend long run.  Also, as I have never ran a 30K, it would be an automatic PR for me too. Can’t argue with any of that!

Welcome to my past Sunday morning!

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My “magic sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter.  Fueling my long runs this training season.

Treating this as I have all my long runs leading into my marathon thus far, I went to get my “magic sushi,” at Dragon King’s Daughter the night before, because it’s been working as night-before-a-long-run fuel.  And why mess with something when it’s working, right?  Also, I got up as if it were a usual long run morning, giving myself plenty of time to hydrate, eat a small bowl of overnight oats, get dressed, slather on sunscreen, fuel with my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and get to the start of the actual run.  I had 40 oz of water (and 2 Nuun tablets) in my Nathan Hydration vest, and was carrying a Maurten 100 Gel for when I felt I might need it.  Other than that, I was wearing the new Newton Distance 8 and all the pink I could find in honor of my mom!  I had actually slept really well after going to bed early the night before, so I felt good.  Not even nervous.  Not even with the change from “using this as a training run” to having to throw down about 7/9 of the race at Marathon Pace.  THAT…I was NOT excited about.

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MRTT/SRTT group photo! Love these ladies!

But I had a plan.  Use the first 2 miles as a warm-up.  Then hit it at my marathon pace for the next 10-14 miles (whatever my legs were feeling that day).  Use the last 2.6 as a cool down, perhaps kicking it back in for that 0.6 at the end (although I usually don’t have a kick).

Did that happen?  Ehhhhhh…

As I stated previously, I arrived to the start of the race about 30 minutes prior to the actual start.  I met up with my friends Laura and Michael, and we decided to make use of the flushing toilets while there weren’t any lines.  They went to warm up, and I met up with Christine and the rest of the MRTT/SRTT group that was in attendance at the race.  A group pictures was taken and we all started to make our way to the start line to line up.

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Ron, Christine, and I starting the Downtown Doubler together

I was originally going to run this with Christine, but with my marathon paces now having to be a thing, it wasn’t happening.  Dang it.  We did meander to the start line together though, her laying out her plan to execute in the race.  Our other running partner, Ron, was doing the 15K and was going to start with us.

We were given the basics on the course.  Turn around at the cone.  And 15K come in to the finish on the right side…30K, stay to the left and make the turn to head back out.  It was a 2 loop course for those of us doing the 30K.  And in my head, I was thinking how smart the 15K people were.  HA!  After that…the horn sounded and we were off!

I took off and ended up running with Ron down the stretch leading into the first mile.  I could tell we were going fast.  Faster than a warm up would have been.  And when we hit the first mile he shouted that we were at 7:28.  He said he was going to race, I told him to go on, but opted to just run the first 10-14 miles fast and back off and cruise in at the end instead of my initial plan.  I mean…I just did a 7:28…might as well keep with the momentum.  I remained about what I figured was about 1/10 of a mile behind him on pace through the first 4 miles.  At the turn around point, he grabbed water and I skimmed past him.  He caught up with me and as we were coming into the 7th mile, he said, “At this pace…slow it down at Mile 10.”  I promised I would.  We headed up the hill, and after crossing the flood wall, I went down the hill and remained just slightly ahead of him at this point.  I took the rest of my Maurten at Mile 8 and headed to the turn-around point to make the loop and head back out.

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Heading out for the second loop! Halfway there!

At Mile 10, I still felt good, but I did ease off the accelerator.  Slightly.  Ron was right…I didn’t want to work up a recipe for injury, but my miles were still really fast.  Apparently he said told Cathy that I was going too fast.  But, as promised, I did ease back a little.  With the looped route, I did get to see my friends at different points on the course, and cheer in the leaders as they passed me as I was heading into the turnaround point.  It was fun.  And, as I said, I’ve run the Greenway so much, my legs knew when the hills hit and when the wooden bridges would slow me down…all the things.  When I did turn around at Mile 14, I did ease it back even more.  I knew that Daniel didn’t want me racing the whole thing, because that would mean a lot more recovery time.  So, I went to my base pace speed and started to make my way back to the finish line.

Here is where I want to give a HUGE shout-out…

…to the Urban Bourbon people at the water stop were AWESOME.  They called everyone out by name and cheered them on.  And that was AMAZING.  I loved it.  And since we 30K peeps saw them 4 times, it was nice to always have someone cheering you on on what would have been a lonely course otherwise.

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Me with my medal after finishing the Downtown Doubler 30K

At Mile 16, I went ahead and took my Maurten 100 Gel to give me a little push to the finish line.  I had to run up the last of the hills heading over the flood wall again, and my legs fought it a little bit here.  But I just eased up it and rode the downhill on the other end.  I knew I was heading into my last 1.6 miles…and technically, my watch was a bit behind where the mile markers were placed.  I was running with my watch covered, so I wasn’t sure how much it was off…I just knew it was.  Whatever.  It happens.

I knew the finish line was close though, so for that last half mile, I found myself picking the pace back up. I felt amazing, mind you.  I fueled properly…I hydrated every mile…I felt like I could have kept going.  And as I headed into the finish line, I had friends there holding out hands for some high fives.  I gladly gave them.  And I was shouted out at the finish line, and they even said I looked like I could have kept going.  It was a good morning for me and I was thankful to have the strength, endurance, and speed to carry me through the miles.

The course was 18.52 miles according to my watch…so I did a cool down, easy jog, to get me to the 18.6 miles total.  I received my medal and then had to wait around for official results to post to see if I placed at all in my age division.  It took a little bit of time, but that was okay…because I got to cheer in quite a few of my friends while we waited.

IMG_4748Turns out that I came in 2nd in my Age Group.  I was surprised (my age division is pretty competitive).  That was a nice bonus for sure.  After cheering in more people, Cathy, Ron, Shawn and I decided we would head up to Heine Bros. for coffee.  So, up the stairs (that sucked, BTW) we went to head over the tracks.  And I heard the train.  And then the train stopped.  And then the train didn’t move for 30 minutes.  I sat on the stairs and just waited it out, but some people climbed up onto the cars (and some ducked under the train) to get to their cars.  It wasn’t worth the risk of death, honestly.  I called it the “Darwin” test and really got pissed when a guy with a toddler did it.

The train did clear out and we all met up for coffee and some chatting.  Then I went home to shower, grocery shop, shop for last minute trip stuff, and await my schedule from my coach for the following week.  I had a good race.

My official results of the Downtown Doubler 30K are that I finished in 2:26:39…which is now my standing 30K PR.  This world needs more 30K races, for real.  I did look at my 15K split and I was only 3 seconds behind my 15K PR (set at The Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY back in 2013)…so that’s a win, right?  I was 28/108 finishers overall. I was 9/51 female finishers. And I was 2/11 in my age division.  I had a great time at this race.  There was so much support from the other runners, the water stops, the finish line, and the turn-around point.  This was definitely a confidence boost I needed in my training.  I will take those because they have been few and far between.

Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN (May 25, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line of the Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN

Race: Run for the Berries 5K

Place: Starlight, Indiana

Date: May 25, 2019

Time: 23:37

It’s that time of year, friends.  Yep.  That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens.  And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K.  Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!

The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day.  Why?  I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money.  So it doesn’t happen.  So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.

But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends.  Oh no!!  Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will.  And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.

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Registering on race morning

I woke up feeling slightly “off.”  My stomach was unsettled.  I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help.  At least I was hydrated, right?  It was also VERY warm out this particular morning.  Like humid and hot.  The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in.  UGH.  So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water.  When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it.  I told him I wanted to race it.  Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!!  I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point.  But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?

My speed work sessions during training have been fast.  So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen.  Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon).  Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K.  Because these legs were not made for sprinting.  They were made for…DISTANCE.  But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!

And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have.  Spoiler alert: No PR.  But let me first start with what I did do.  I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw).  I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries.  I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.

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I am wondering why I’m up front!

My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race.  All of these things were accomplished and did happen.  I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky.  It would be better thank bonky!  (Rhyming is fun!)

I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point.  I was amazed how few people were there at this point.  So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting.  Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope.  I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.”  It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time.  Imposter syndrome!

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Me at the start, when I thought I might be able to hang and be fast…

The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off.  And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.

The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range.  Not this year.  I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13.  It felt hard.  And I knew I was fading already.  The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today.  Nope.  I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.

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An icy cold strawberry drink was just what I needed

It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down.  So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing.  I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster.  They kept screaming to slow down.  And they did…without me even commanding them to do so.  Mile 2 was at 7:35.  After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting.  Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core.  I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.

There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line.  You actually sort of go uphill to the finish.  Brutal.  And I was fighting.  I was fighting with all I had to get there.  I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on.  I think someone passed me.  I don’t really remember.  But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion).  Mile 3 was 7:53.  I was going off the rails.  The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done.  I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first.  It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.IMG_1097

As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes.  I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.

We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink.  YES!!  It was perfection.

IMG_1102The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast.  Seriously.  And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it.  My card and time were in fact…right.  I was first in my age division.  How about that?  I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).

I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere.  Not on Facebook.  Not on Pacers & Racers.  Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results.  BUT…here’s what I can tell you…

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Age group pint glass from the Run for the Berries 5K

Officially…I had positive splits.  But positive splits for positive people.  I finished the race in 23:37.  I was the thirteenth woman overall.  And I was first in my age group.  That’s it…that’s all I got.

And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start.  Fingers crossed.

And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them.  But, I am not currently holding my breath!

Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, OH (April 28, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, Ohio

Race: Mercy Health Glass City Marathon

Place: Toledo, OH

Date: April 28, 2019

Time: 3:38:46

After a really good shakeout run using Glass City’s Savage 5K as just that (and somehow placing in my age group), I spent the rest of Saturday in my hotel room.  Sitting on my bed.  Feet up.  Eating.  Blogging.  Watching television.  Not out walking around Toledo.  Not hanging out at the expo.  Off my feet.  Foam rolling.  Stretching.  All of it.

I was really taking this prep seriously!  I didn’t actually leave the room until about 4 pm…when Cathy and I headed into Toledo to hit up Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery for dinner.  We had looked at a few places in Toledo, but it is so hard to gauge  how safe some places are, and some reviews on places I had been looking at weren’t so good on my Find Me Gluten Free app.  We were going to do my new favorite thing before a major race – sushi…but Toledo’s only safe sushi place only had the a vegetable roll, cucumber roll, or avocado roll for vegan options.  BOOOO!  I am lucky to have Dragon King’s Daughter for my vegan sushi needs in Louisville/New Albany.  As we were driving up to Toledo, my fellow Celiac blogger and Instagram friend, Margaret, was on her way down to Columbus for the Gluten Free Allergy Free Fest and posted about Organic Bliss.  They closed at 5 pm, so we went early and got there to figure out what we wanted for dinner.  And, of course, we would get a box of goodies to go back to the hotel with us.

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My Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich with a Chickpea Salad from Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery in Toledo, Ohio

The people there were very kind and gave us some time to look over the menu, and we finally came to our conclusions…Cathy went ahead and got the BLT with Chips.  And I went with the Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich (avocado, romaine, spinach, tomato, cucumber, black beans, papaya poppyseed dressing).  I got that with a side of the Chickpea Salad.  And then we boxed up some treats: A Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake, an Almond Scone, a Cranberry Orange Scone, a Cinnamon Roll, and the Peanut Butter Quinoa Bar.  We paid and went and took a seat in the corner while meals were prepared and brought out to us.

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All my baked goodies I took back to the hotel with me from Toledo, Ohio

Sandwiches before a race are a good back-up it seems.  And this sandwich was AMAZING.  I loved it.  And the Chickpea Salad was the perfect side.  Got some carbs, protein, healthy fats…perfection.  They were trying to get ready to close, so the floors were being swept and people were coming in for last minute purchases.  We finished up and headed out to go back to the hotel for the night. And you better believe Cathy and I split that Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake for dessert back at the hotel.

I went ahead and posted on my Instagram feed the motivation, the drive, and the reason I was running the following day: my mom.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January, just after the New Year.  It was a shock to my family and one that none of us were prepared for.  Right now, she is going through chemo, keeping her spirits high and her thoughts positive.  What a warrior.  This race, save for a couple of miles, was to honor her.  Mile 1, my roommate claimed.  Mile 26, my friend Natalie claimed,  And Mile 10 was in memory of my friend Tina’s daughter, Kinsley, who died in her sleep at the age of 10 a couple of days before I left for Toledo.  I would carry these honors with me respectively on the race course.

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My mom – she’s a warrior!

I did one last round of stretching and foam rolling while watching Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network…and got an onslaught of uplifiting and motivational gifs from my coach.  I do love my coach.  He has been amazing, even when training went slightly off the rails when I busted up my knees.  The gifs made me laugh.  And he threw in a Game of Thrones reference, so that was winning.  But, soon it was time to turn in for the night.  I set two different alarms.  One for me to get up and take my medicine and use the bathroom…and then go back to bed.  And then one for Cathy…which would be when I would get up and get dressed.  No surprise…I couldn’t sleep well.  And I shut off my first alarm before it even went off.  Tried to climb back into bed and wait for the other alarm, but then my mind wouldn’t shut off.  So, I got up and did my PT stretches for my hips…and then went ahead and started to get ready.  By the time the second alarm went off, I was pretty much dressed and ready to head out the door.  So, while Cathy got ready, I started prepping my hydration vest bladder with 1 liter of water, grabbed my Maurten gels to use as additional fuel on the run, and put on my clothes I would shed prior to the race.

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Race day ready!!

Because up in Toledo…it was 41 degrees on race morning, but with the windchill, it was in the real feel was in the low 30s.  They had been predicting snow…but thankfully that didn’t happen.  I had, thankfully, packed some clothes that I could wear over my race gear (and a back up short sleeve shirt since a tank top was the original plan for this race), so I felt like I was good in the wardrobe department.  I was glad I had the clothing to give to Cathy before I got into the corral, because I was cold in that wind.

We left the hotel early.  Like 5:45-ish early.  And we made the 20 minute drive to the University of Toledo, where we found a lot to park in.  And then…then was the walk to the start.  It was slightly drizzly, but Cathy had purchased some trash bags at Kroger so, we both donned them and set out down the sidewalk to get to the start.  It was a pretty big walk, but it was a good way to warm up for sure.  If you know Cathy’s history with directions, you will understand that I kept checking with her to make sure that she was on track to getting us to the start line, especially when random runners who were walking near us would veer off and we’d continue on…into the land of empty sidewalks and roads.  But, we turned at an intersection and I could hear the tunes of the start line, and they just so happened to be playing my theme song for this year, Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.”  It was a good sign.

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This was not the start line that I expected for a spring marathon. Wet, cold and windy!

We went to find a spot for Cathy to stand for the start of the race and just sort of made that base camp.  I stood behind her to break her from the wind.  We took a few photos.  I looked miserable.  I was miserable.  Spring marathons were not meant to be spent freezing.  At least, not in my opinion.  I drank my bottle of UCAN with 30 minutes to go and eventually, with about 10, shed my extra layers, save the trash bag, got a hug from Cathy, and headed to Corral B.

It was here in Corral B that I set out on my mission to find the 3;35 pacers.  The Web site had two of them listed, but as I hunted for the tiny yellow signs the marathon pacers held, I just couldn’t find any in my corral.  So, I went up to one of the half marathon pacers and asked him where the marathon pacers were.  He said that they should be in here…and asked which group I was looking for.  I said, “The 3:35.”  And he told me that there was no 3:35, only 3:30 and 3:40 and to find and line up with the 3:40 so that I start slow.  I was determined not to melt down or let this mentally get to me.  The National Anthem was about to be sung, and after that, I gave one last look around my corral for pacers….shed my trash bag, and decided I was going to have to pace myself this time.

That’s a scary thought  right?  But that was how it was going to be.  Corral took off and I saw the bobbing of the yellow pacer signs up there.  So…one more chance to check for them in my corral.  No luck.  None.  Deep breath. We were moved up toward the start line.  Waited two minutes.  And then…we were off.

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Just before Mile 4 in the Glass City Marathon

I reeled it in immediately.  Normally that race start is intense and the adrenaline is rushing and you just GO.  You bolt it out and find some space, but it uses up valuable energy, and I had been given a plan to follow, and while I couldn’t see the first 5 miles through with the pacer as the plan said, I wasn’t going to blow it up by going out too fast too soon.  I could hold it together and hold back.  Five miles.  I had this.  My coach wanted me to be around an 8:12-8:10 pace for these miles.  I did the best I could, and while a few of them were slightly fast, the last two were just slightly slower (not by much) than that pace.  Just before Mile 4, Cathy had found a spot on the side of the road to cheer. It was amazing.  Cowbell and all with a crowd.  I will say this, for being a smaller race, I never felt like I wasn’t supported out there.  Going into Mile 4 was a huge example of this.  Lots of people, even in the damp cold, just there to cheer on the runners.  It was great.

From Mile 6-15, I was supposed to maintain a slightly faster pace, not sprinting, not going too fast, but hitting those high 8’s.  And I managed this.  Holy crap, I was doing it.  And I felt good.  I didn’t feel like I needed anything, and technically with UCAN, I didn’t…but I didn’t want to run out of steam, and I have always been told to fuel early and often.  So, I took my first Maurten gel at Mile 6. Here we were guided through some neighborhoods, and people were down at the end of their driveways cheering.  Our bibs had names on them, so they would shout out your name and some encouragement as you went by.  Loved that.  While big races are all fine and good, this was the feel of a big race without all that big race stuff.

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Me heading into the finish line of the Glass City Marathon

It was actually just before Mile 10 that the half and the full marathons split.  This was clearly marked with big gates for the runners to go through.  The half marathon runners turned left, while we continued on.  This did bring the number of people around down some.  But, again, I never, ever felt like I was running alone.  At Mile 10, I fueled again (remember, early and often) and then I did give a point up to the sky and said Kinsley’s name.  She gave me some wings on that mile.

It is just before Mile 11 that the marathon course enters Wildwood Preserve Metropark.  We would actually run through this park twice on the course, but, trust me, it didn’t really feel repetitive.  The open streets we had been running on narrowed to a running/biking path, but it was paved and beautiful.  There were race volunteers out there, handing out water at the two water stops that were inside the park.  There was a band playing as well at some point.  On the first pass through the park, somewhere after Mile 12, we are sent to the right to run out onto the streets again.  I fueled again at Mile 14, and pressed on, still feeling strong and confident.  It was somewhere in Mile 16 that I caught up with the 3:40 pacers.

WHAT?!

Yep…the 3:40 pacer.  I shook this off, figuring that it was fine.  The problem was, I joined up with them as we were sent to run on the shoulder of a road, and in a pace group, that made for some tight, tight quarters.  This made my split at this mile much slower than I would have liked, but I was afraid of clipping runners ahead of me, or being clipped by runners near me.  This happened twice, if you recall, when I started with a pace group at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon back in November.  When I had an opening, I did pass and get ahead, able to stretch my legs back out and pick it back up.  I didn’t panic.  Not at all.  I just found my own pace again and was happy to not be in that pack anymore.  I had some breathing room and it took that anxiety away.  I fueled again at Mile 18 and just kept on going.

Just before Mile 20, we re-enter the park again, from a different entrance and make our way back through that path.  It was here that we have to navigate a small bit of an incline.  And it was here, that my legs slowed down and just wouldn’t pick it back up.  The final 10K…where I wanted to just maintain and keep going strong.  A tiny little bump in the elevation took the speed away from me.  I felt like I was picking it back up, but I wasn’t.  I truly wasn’t.  This time as we go to exit, if it’s your second loop, you turn left, and now you’re heading back out toward the university.  I still felt good, I just couldn’t find any sort of speed at this point.  We are still on this paved trail, and runners were scattered, but we were strong.  The 3:40 pacer passed me again.  And I didn’t fret or sweat it.  I did shed my gloves around Mile 22.  My hands were getting really hot finally.  And I was close.  I also took my last gel at this point.  Fuel for the final four miles.

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Me crossing the finish line of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, Ohio

There were some really perky and happy ladies running a friend in for his last few miles, who were fresh and really uplifting.  It was nice that they came by me because they definitely helpful in that stretch.  Around Mile 25, you can pretty much see the school.  You know that finish line is on the field of the football stadium, and you know…you really are almost there.  People are cheering.  Shouting your name.  Encouraging you.  Telling you how good you look.  How fast you look.  That you’re doing amazing.  I still felt good.  I still felt confident and strong.  I knew I wasn’t getting the BQ I had been training for, but I hadn’t glanced at clocks or my watch for time…just my pace.  I never peeked at it if it wasn’t buzzing at me for a mile lap.  I hit the turns to take the chute into the 26th mile…and then it was on to the stadium.  The crowd was amazing.  Loud.  Screaming.  I saw Cathy as my name was announced and I kicked as much as I could toward that finish line.  Crossing it…with my hands up.  I paused my Garmin and took a look at the time.

3:38.

I was just off of my BQ time by 3 minutes and off my goal time by 5 minutes.  I was so close.  I didn’t get my goal, but I was incredibly happy and proud.  I hadn’t hit the 3:30’s in a marathon since 2013, where I did it twice.  Both BQ times.  I was elated.  I cried.  Cathy came over after I got my Mylar and my medal and gave me a hug.  I told her I needed to put my feet up so we went over to the field and I laid down in the sunlight and propped my legs up on her.

Eventually, I decided that I did, in fact, need to move.  So, we headed out of the stadium to the runner finish area.  Here we collected my commemorative glass mug (you get it upon finishing), and went to the food tent.  I couldn’t eat anything, but poor Cathy was starving so she had my beer and pizza tickets, so I let her claim those.  I was feeling lightheaded, so I went to sit down and shiver in my Mylar.

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My Spicy Ginger Tofu & Ancient Grains bowl from Corelife Eatery

Cathy and just shown up when my Instagram friend, Scooby (who had a fantastic day as the 3:15 pacer) wandered by.  I called him over and we chatted for a minute, but he had just snagged some pizza and I didn’t want it to get cold…so we congratulated each other and I let him go.  Cathy had two beers to try.  The first one she hated, the other one she sipped on until I decided I was ready to go get warm with a hot shower at the hotel while she went to get me some coffee from Bigbee Coffee.  The walk to the car felt longer than it probably was, mostly because my body was tired and a little sore from the effort that day.  I eventually foam rolled, stretched, and went to get dinner at Corelife Eatery before seeing Avengers: Endgame that night (the theater was advertised as having reclining seats – it didn’t…and by the end, I knew I had made a big mistake).  It was a good day, and I am still basking in my accomplishment.  I think, next time, I’ll get it.

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Nothing is impossible.  Keep on dreaming!  Glass City Marathon Finisher!!

So, the official results of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon are that I finished in 3:38:46, making it officially my third fastest marathon and the first one back in the 3:30s since 2013.  HOLLA!  Stoked.  I was 408/1278 finishers overall.  I was 108/527 female finishes.  And I was 30/96 in my age group!  How amazing is that.  I felt good and strong the entire time, never letting any self-doubt or negative talk enter my head.  I was focused on the race at hand and the people I was running it to honor.  Marathon #15…done.  Now to find the perfect fall marathon to make the next attempt on that Boston Qualifying dream.

Remember…training rarely is linear…race day can throw so many factors at you…trust the process and remain focused on your own race that day.  You never know what you are capable of until you try.