Disclaimer: I received the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Baby…it’s getting cold outside! And, as always, BUFF has your back (or your neck and head, as the case may be). You see, BUFF has always lead the way when it comes to face and head coverings (I own a lot of them!), but they recently introduced a new collection – the Buff® DryFlx+ Collection.
Of course, when the products first arrived to my door, I was still attempting to rest a couple of sprained ankles (that’s going in another post)…and the temperatures were rather pleasant outside. But we all know, the weather can turn on a dime…and that cold weather did, in fact move in. And while I haven’t been able to do much due to my ankles, I did get out for a couple of short runs to test out this gear.
This new collection was engineered to cover the warm + dry winter activity requirements. The neckwarmer, in particular, was knitted in one-piece and designed with technical “smart zones” that increase breathability and targeted warmth while still enhancing an active fit for comfort. The design is an articulated mask design…so it fits efficiently and comfortably over your neck and head.
I opted for the headband over the hat…just because I’m not much of a hat person, and usually rely on headbands first and hats only when the temperatures get to a certain degree. This isn’t a new thing, I’ve never liked wearing hats from the day I was born. I love that the fabric of both the neckwarmer and headband are light and breathable, meaning it doesn’t feel like you’re layering up intensively for any outdoor activity. These products kept me warm without causing me to overheat. And as a perpetual over-dresser…this is a win in my book!
Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say about the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection:
Back in 2014…I ran the Publix GEORGIA Marathon. I had been coming back from an injury (no shock there)…but I finished it strong and felt good. In 2019, it was re-branded as the Atlanta Marathon/Half Marathon/5K (which makes sense as it is held in Atlanta). Also, it got a new course. So, it was going to look different from the time I ran the full thing, right?
But…I think they somehow made it hillier.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Please note…it’s been almost 3 months since I ran this…because as we all know…life got pretty crazy shortly after this…so I might not have much to say in regards to the course or the race, other than it was cold AF, hilly AF, and my hip still hurt like a mother.
But we were doing this thing.
Woke up early. Cathy had to get up with the alarm this time as she had signed up for the 5K. Hey, if there is bling involved and she can guarantee that she’ll be at the finish line to see me finish…those 5K races that run with the longer runs are her sort of thing. She was pretty certain we’d be finishing close together given that the 5K started about an hour after the marathon and half went off, so it would be close. I also told her, though, not to fret anything since I definitely wasn’t 100%.
So, we got dressed, fueled, and she cut up some garbage bags for us to huddle in to attempt to keep warm on the walk over to the start line. Except she cut her bag wrong so the holes were not in the right spot. Meaning, she cut a hole in her stomach area…so she looked more like a Care Bear and had a definite draft. We couldn’t do anything about it, and as I am definitely more cold natured than her…I got the properly cut trash bag and she got the one that she hadn’t unfolded properly before taking scissors to it. Please note…she learned a valuable lesson.
We headed out of the hotel room and took the elevator down to the lobby. And we struck out toward Centennial Park, where the race would start and finish. Temperatures were in the low 30s. It was windy (although NOTHING near what it was the day before when the Olympic Marathon Trials ran). And I was noshing on a banana as we made our way to the start area. Because of how cold it was, we sort of just gave ourselves enough time to get down there with only a little bit of time to spare, but enough that we weren’t stressed out and making a mad dash through the streets to get to the start corrals.
Had my leg/hip felt 100%…I had given some thought to hanging with the 1:40 pace group, which was being paced by Meb Keflezighi. That would have been a dream. But since I had to go to physical therapy and back off my training runs…it wasn’t completely out of the question, but it was a definite pipe dream. I lined up further back, keeping my trash bag on for as long as I could prior to the start.
Here was the really cool thing about the USA Olympic Marathon Trials happening the day before – MOST of the Olympic Team came down to watch the start of the race – despite it being early and cold. The only one who didn’t put in an appearance was Galen Rupp (not surprised – I acknowledge his skill as a marathoner, but I just don’t like him). The rest of them came down. AND…Alaphine Tuliamuk (the women’s first place finisher), stayed down there for the ENTIRETY of the start line from the marathon/half start to the last 5K runner to cross. And she was not only speaking to the runners, but taking selfies and the like with them. Because she’s amazing.
After the National Anthem was sung, I did shed the garbage bag, wearing my BibRave t-shirt (with arm warmers because…it was cold, duh) for the first time at an event. This one wasn’t a BibRave event…but I’m doing my part to represent. I gave my hip a little bit of a warmup with some dynamic moves in the tight confines of the corral…and then…we were off.
I waived to Cathy as I ran by, my hip doing okay for this part. Even being sent up a hill almost immediately. That was good, because that wouldn’t last long. And while the hip would eventually succumb to all the uphills and the cold…any movement I could manage without it bothering me…I was grateful for.
Also, on an interesting note…the FAQs for this race said that hydration packs were not allowed. I saw a lot of people running with them, but I opted to obey the rules and ran with my hydration belt instead. I hadn’t done that in a LONG time during a race, but as I had to use it for a bit of training while waiting on new bladders for my vest to come in the mail, I wasn’t completely out of practice yet.
This race weaves through Atlanta completely now…whereas before, when it was the Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon, it went out to Decatur and would come back into Atlanta. Not anymore. Now it’s completely inside the city. With this new course, I think I was glad it wasn’t this way when I ran it in 2014…because I think the hills are worse. With the leg/hip issue happening, I legit had no power on any of the uphills. You better believe I lived for those downhills though.
At one point, as the sun was coming out, I went to tuck my pink knit gloves into the back of my hydration belt…but I lost them. It made me sad, as those were the best gloves (and pink still represents my mom – a breast cancer survivor). But, they are throw-away gloves for a reason, I guess. At another point, I spotted someone I know from Instagram, running just up ahead. I wished I had the go-power to get up to her and run with her or at least say “HI.” But…meh…not happening. She finished up three minutes ahead of me…because she’s awesome. So…HI KRISTIN STOKES!
I will say, I think the hill around Mile 12 was the one that did me in. I felt like I was crawling up it. My hip was done with the entire experience, so I basically crawled it in to the finish. No finish line sprint. Nothing. Just a jog.
But, Cathy had managed to finish her 5K just ahead of Meb…which meant she had about 10 minutes before I came in. She found a spot to watch the finish line…and when I crossed I was so happy to be done. Maybe not Kauai Marathon happy…but it might have been close.
I walked through and got my medal and some snacks before meeting up with Cathy. We went to go take some pictures with the Olympic rings before heading back to the hotel to clean up, shower, pack, and head down to snag lunch at Walburgers before hopping on the MARTA to head to the airport for our flight home. Walburgers had a bit of delay on opening due to a problem with with the water or electricity or something. We hung out with some ladies and made friends with them. When they did open, we were taken upstairs and seated, and then just after we placed our order, our friends Tammy and Dean showed up and joined us. YAY! It was nice to sit and catch up with them (Tammy had also done the 5K and Dean did the half ). Also, Walburgers is great with the gluten-free options. I had my first ever Impossible Burger on the gluten free bun…with gluten free Sweet Potato Tots. It was…awesome.
Eventually we did have to head out to the airport. We hugged Tammy and Dean (this was when that was still allowed, which now seems weird) and made our way to the MARTA to head home.
So, my official results of the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon are that I finished in I finished in 1:50:02. Not bad on a gimpy leg, right? I know for a fact that I would have been able to deliver better had my training and my hip been 100%. But you do what you can when you can , right? I was 1346/5809 finishers overall. I was the 531/3189 female finishers. And I was 99/486 in my age division. Considering an unusual night before the race happened…with a late dinner…and lots of time standing the day before, topped with hip/leg issues…I’ll take the hell out of this result. Couldn’t be prouder of myself for sticking it out and getting to that finish line.
Just goes to show you…if you set your mind to something…you can do hard things.
Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
If you know me well, you know that I am very particular about my sunglasses. I have a head that, sadly, doesn’t play nice with hats and eye wear all the time. So, I am not one to dive in and blindly try something that I haven’t had a chance to put on my face to see if I like it or not.
But…this time…I did.
I was given the opportunity to try out a pair of Knockaround Fast Lane Sunglasses. And, in doing so, I was taking a chance that I would look like a complete dweeb in the process. But, hey, these are crazy times…might as well live a little, right? I made a point of selecting the brightest, most colorful pair I could find in the Fast Lane selection: Neon Summer.
These came into my possession JUST before the world shut down. Literally. I opened up the tiniest shipping box I had ever received and inside were these beautiful, bright glasses, staring right back at me. Literally. As the lenses are mirrored. Not just mirrored, but mirrored in this gorgeous aqua color. I was a fan of the bright neon pink frames with the loud and proud yellow arms that screamed “CHILD OF THE 80’s” like you’ve never imagined.
As someone who is a child of the 80’s for real (like…born in 1980), this made me beyond happy. And…I immediately had to put them on. I was already getting that nervous feeling…because I didn’t want to fall in love with a product that didn’t look good with my face shape.
BUT…they looked great!! The felt great. I wore them home that day from the office. And then the following day…I was stoked to take them out on a run to see how they held up to my road running adventures.
Here’s what I love about Knockaround Fast Lane Sunglasses…
They are lightweight. Honestly, you can barely tell they’re on when you’re out running or walking or even when you have them resting on top of your head while dashing into the office for a moment or whatever the case may be.
They won’t give you a headache. These glasses will fit your head without squeezing the daylights out of it. If you’re in them for 10 minutes or all day, they have yet to a headache. I love it when things fit properly!
The lenses aren’t coated in the cheap stuff that flakes off. I have had people invest in a different brand of sunglasses for running in, only to have the lens coating start to chip away. I’ve been pretty rough and tumble with these, and they still look like the did the day I pulled them out of the box.
They won’t fog up. How many of you have started out on a run, early enough to not need the sunglasses, but then moved them down only to have the lenses foggy. It’s not easy to run when you can’t see where you are going. I have gone out on cold mornings, hot mornings, rainy mornings, and never have had to pause my run to wipe away foggy lenses.
As you can tell, I went into this wanting to hate the sunglasses…but quite the opposite happened. Instead…I found a brand of sunglasses that I love to wear. In fast, I have already ordered two more pairs. One was in their big (Stay) Home (You’re Not) Alone 40% of sale…which also included the option of using the BibRave Discount as well. So, I bought a pair with the colors of my local professional soccer team.
And then I customized another pair…and those are going to be on their way to me in no time. The moral of the story is…big things come in little packages. If you’ve been searching for a good pair of sunglasses for your runs, walks, hikes, or maybe a future trip somewhere…you can’t go wrong with Knockarounds.
And if the Fast Lane style doesn’t speak to you, they have numerous other shapes and designs…and an option to design your own!! WHAT?! Yep…customize your own pair of sunnies!! Now we’re cooking with gas!
Head on over to Knockaround‘s Web site and go find your perfect pair…or design your own. But…I’m a forever fan of living my sunniest days…in the Fast Lane.
Want to hear what other people are saying about the Fast Lane’s? Let a few other BRP’s shed some (sun)light on the subject:
If you know me…you know that I don’t leave for a run, whether it’s one mile or 26.2 miles, without wearing compression sleeves or socks. I’ve been doing it since 2012 and it’s been a part of my running uniform ever since.
I didn’t think there was a brand out there I haven’t tried. And then…Nabee Compression Socks were sent my way. Fun fact for these days of quarantine, social distancing, and honoring our health care workers…Nabee Compression Socks were invented by a nurse. Don’t immediately think that these socks are only for nurses, however. These socks are also perfect for athletes, frequent fliers, as well as servers, teachers, speakers, performers, or anyone else who spends a good amount of time on their feet. They offer two different levels of compression too, starting with 15-20 mmhg up to 20-30 mmhg.
I had a lot of different fun colors and designs to choose from, but I really wanted to represent my Irish routes. I got the Shamrock socks (20-30 mmhg compression). I LOVE them…and I wear them even though St. Patrick’s Day is long past. Shamrocks are good year round, and let’s face it…we could all use a little bit of luck these days.
My first impression after taking them out of the packaging was just how SOFT these socks are. Usually, compression sleeves and socks tend to have this feel of stiffness to them. But these made me really excited about getting them on my feet and legs. These socks also have a seamless toe and added arch support for running! They feel good. But I definitely wanted to put them to the test.
So I took them out for long runs. I took them out for short runs. I wore them for recovery runs. I wore them for speed work. And I never stopped loving the way these socks felt and how I felt wearing them. And yes…I even wore them for recovery! I had many nurses comment about them when I would post on my social media, so I hope they took advantage of the one time discount that they gave to BibRave.
I know I did!! Yep…I loved these socks so much I went ahead and ordered another pair!! I went with the Celebration Socks this time, which had fun stripes of white, electric blue and hot pink. They were SO me! I didn’t have to order another pair, but I am SOLD on these. They are not just fun and fashionable, but they are effective and…above all else…comfortable!
If you have tried compression before or been on the fence about trying compression, I would definitely send you to Nabee Socks. Honestly, the company is great…and the product they put out there is now one of my favorite parts of my running gear!
Want to give Nabee Compression Socks a try? Use “BIBRAVE20” and get 20% off your order. This code is good for ONE TIME ONLY!! Also, Nabee Compression Socks is currently donating 2 pairs of their socks to frontline healthcare workers for every pair they sell. There’s a little bit of extra motivation!
See what other BibRave Pro’s are saying about Nabee Compression Socks:
Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
It’s hard to change when something feels off on your body. Do you run through it? Do you take time off? As some of you know, I had something flair up in my hip/leg/quad/hamstring back in January. After a mile or so, it normally settled down and I could run confidently without feeling I was making something worse. That is…until one day I knew something was defintely wrong, when I felt I was fighting for every step and I was limping later in the afternoon after a 10 mile run.
Talk about good timing for my Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve to arrive. I had a few options to choose from to test out, but I already wear my compression socks and sleeves (so I didn’t want calf sleeves). I don’t have knee issues, so I skipped the knee option. And I had no reason to get anything for my arms (so that elbow sleeve wasn’t necessary). That left the thigh sleeve. And I had never seen a thigh sleeve option before. And with my hamstrings and quads giving me some issues…it was the logical choice.
A few days later, it arrived and I couldn’t wait to test it out.
Body Helix was founded by world-ranked tennis player, Fred Robinson, and physician, Thomas E. Parker, MD. The compression wraps were developed based on both the science of movement and the research on injury management. Each sleeve is made with a material that would stretch, rebound, and stay in place. And, of course, that would be comfortable and effective to wear during exercise.
Body Helix’s tagline is “Move Through It.” Well, thanks to the thigh compression sleeve they sent me…I was able to do just that.
The package arrived and not only included my compression sleeve (which I got in a stunning plum color), but it also had a card with a note from the CEO and Chairman on one side…and WASHING INSTRUCTIONS on the other side. FINALLY! Compression that comes with instructions on how to wash it! BONUS! (For the record, it goes in the washing machine and dryer…how awesome is that?). It also had a page of all their compression options included.
And after getting cleared to run by my physical therapist, I went out for my first run in over three weeks after the leg pain wasn’t something that I felt would be okay for me to run through. And guess what? It felt great. The sleeve easily slid up and over my leg, settling perfectly on my thigh. It was a fantastic fit too. Not too tight…but not going to slide down my leg either. Which was my biggest concern going into this. Nothing would suck more than heading out to run and having your compression just continue to slide down and making me have to stop and pull it back up. It stayed put. It stayed tight. It gave me support and I was able to run, and not hobble or limp, through my runs. And, it fits under your running shorts/tights without looking, feeling, or actually being bulky. Long runs, short runs, and even some speed work…my Body Helix Compression Sleeve worked like a charm. It arrived at just the right time. Now I don’t know what I would have done without it. And going forward, I know I’ll be using it as I work on rehabbing this leg and getting back to being 100%.
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 9, 2019
“Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing
Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision
Always had high, high hopes
Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes”
~ Panic at the Disco
But I am getting ahead of myself at the moment. Because like any and every story…you have to start at the beginning. And the beginning, for me, started on Friday.
Friday was a complete rest day for me. Normally I do shake-out runs and the like, but I had a continuous training cycle through taper, and had done my usual (albeit much lower mileage) runs on Sunday-Thursday, with 2 of these including some sort of speed workout. So, I slept in, per usual. I took a shower. I didn’t go to work…so I had time to stretch, finish packing, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at home. For the record, it was Trader Joes Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels and Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese. I had my first melt down. I ran a couple of errands with my roommate. Made a quick lunch. Had another meltdown. She called in my sushi order at Dragon King’s Daughter (if you’ve been following my weekly training logs, you know about my “magic sushi”…so you better believe an order was traveling in a cooler up to Indianapolis with me), loaded the car, took out the garbage, went to pick up sushi order…and hit the road.
The drive up to Indianapolis was easy and uneventful. Just the way we like it. My coach, Daniel, called me on the drive and we talked. He always knows what to say to calm me down. He asked me how I felt…I told him I was nervous. He asked what I was nervous about. And I told him…the weather. To date, this was shaping up to be the coldest marathon I will have run. Beating out Twin Cities in Minneapolis, MN…and Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2018 in Orlando, FL (which held the record…yes, Florida was colder than Minnesota). The weather was showing a 28° start, with a nice wind chill making it feel more like 21°. Good times. We discussed how my training had done, despite not really having weather like what I would be running in for the marathon. I told him this would change my wardrobe and we went over what I could/should wear and ways to keep my core temperature up before the race. I told him I already had cried twice that day…and he asked what type of crying it was…and I told him it was the “I want this so bad” type of cry. He told me how to channel that and my unease about the weather into mentally having a successful race. Honestly, I found the BEST coach. We hung up…and as we neared Indy…the local station we had found started playing every hype song it could throw at me. I cried…again.
We made it to the hotel, staying once again at the Omni Severin Hotel in downtown, and only a short walk to the start and finish lines. We got checked in. I put the sushi in the fridge, along with my overnight oats I made at home to have race morning (just as I did before EVERY long run this cycle). Then we went to the expo. I got my packet for the marathon. Cathy got hers for the 5K. And I picked up my friend, Melissa’s, packet for her so she didn’t have to drive 4-5 hours round trip with her baby to do it. Then, we went exploring. I ended up buying a singlet for this race, and my roommate bought me a finisher’s jacket (she’s the best) and a Bondi Band. She also got herself a new racing hat, featuring this race (the first one she ever trained for last year). Then, we made our way around the expo, checking out the different booths and races that were represented there. Once done with that, we took photos with our bibs, found my name on the giant poster, and headed back to the hotel.
We settled in for the rest of the day, because I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible. We watched a couple episodes of Mindhunter. Cathy went and got herself dinner from the hotel…which was offering a nice pasta dinner with a side salad and breadsticks (although she got hers to go and they didn’t pack the breadsticks…but she said there was plenty of pasta). We ate. I stretched and foam rolled. We watched Top Chef (still in Boston…again…good sign!). Then, we called it a night. Lights out.
I didn’t sleep well. I kept waking up…needing some water…or just nerves at times. I turned off my first alarm before it went off because I was already awake. The second alarm went off at 6:00 am. Both my roommate and I got up with that one. It was officially the start of race morning. She had coffee and juice delivered to the room for her to have with her breakfast (she does this every morning, so this is part of her routine).
I had about 3 meltdowns just getting ready. I wish I were kidding. After talking to my coach on the drive up, I decided to officially nix the shorts. While the temperature would be climbing in the over three hours I would be out there…I didn’t want to start cold. So, for the first time in the history of my marathon running…I ran in pants. Capris. Of course they were bright and wild colors. HA! Because I gotta be me! I decided to go with a short sleeve shirt (BRIGHT PINK), compression sleeves, my Newtons (I also brought my Adidas Boston Boosts), arm warmers, a buff, a Bondi-Band, gloves (with hand warmers), and a throw-away hat. I wore everything pink I could…to represent my mom (as has been my theme this entire year I have raced). I started to put together my hydration pack, pouring room-temperature Nuun into the bladder (I knew it would be cold just being out there…so why make it super cold by starting that way?), packing my Maurten Gel 100s (three with caffeine, three without), shaking up my Maurten 320 Drink Mix (which some of it went into a little bottle in my pack to take at Mile 8), and then I tucked some very important tokens into a pocket to carry with me. My amazing friend, Kelly Lorch, gifted me with some plates that were to go on my shoelaces. I had my shoes on…and tied…so I said I would carry them with me. She is amazing and has been SO supportive of me reaching my goals. There was no way these weren’t coming along on the journey in some way.
Cathy pinned my bib on…then I pinned her up. I layered on my throwaway clothes and then we both wrapped ourselves in old Mylar from previous races and trash bags. Then, we headed out to meet up with Melissa at the MRTT/SRTT photo meet-up spot in the Westin (which also gave us a warm place to wait for the start AND bathrooms if needed). I walked in and was immediately flagged down my Kelly. Melissa came over and gave me a hug too…and I started to have another cry. But, thankfully, group pictures were happening so I had to go and attempt to look “homeless chic” in my “how to stay warm on a cold-ass race morning” attire. The photos were taken and Melissa had me join her as she waited for her husband, Paul, to park the car and bring the bundled up baby inside. They arrived and she brought out the MOST AMAZING sign ever. It said, “My auntie Karen chases unicorns and runs BQs.” She said she and the baby worked very hard on it the night before. I cried…again.
No sooner had I dried those tears, Cathy said we had about 15 minutes until the start of the race…so we needed to mosey outside. BOOOO. I shed all my throwaway stuff and handed it off to Paul, who was finish line support and baby watching this morning. He was very kind to let me do that so they can live to be tossed another day. I got re-wrapped up in the trash bag and Mylar…and we headed out into the cold. We stopped just before the start line, where I needed to make my way down to my wave corral, and I got final hugs. Cathy let me know (for the 2 millionth time this training cycle) that I had this. Paul wished me luck and told me I had this in the bag. And Melissa, because we are the same person, took my head in her hands, made me look right into her eyes, and gave me a pep talk to end all pep talks. We hugged it out…and I went to go get into place.
At first, I thought I was about to have a Glass City Marathon replay…because as I got to my corral…I could see the 3:40 pacer and the 3:30 pacer. No 3:35. I was about to cry again, when I spotted a guy standing in an Official Pacer orange shirt…minus the sign. I went over there and asked if he was the 3:35 pacer. He said he was, and his partner was currently missing and had the sign. The other guy showed up a few minutes later, but he was prepared to get us all there with or without the sign. I felt a lot better. No need to stare at my watch and fuss over the pace if I could hang with them. About 5 minutes before the start, I went to ditch the Mylar and trash bag and got back in line with the two pacers. The race started, with the wheelchairs. Then Wave 1. Then my wave. As we crossed the start line, it was crowded and packed, and the pacers were a bit ahead of me, but I didn’t panic. I waved to Cathy, Melissa, and Paul…and began to weave a bit to make my way closer to the pace group.
I caught up to them in the first quarter of a mile and made sure not to feel crowded. If you remember, last year I attempted to do this very same thing…but ended up getting tripped a few times. That wasn’t happening this year. NOPE! We were a fun group and the pacers were great at not only giving direction on where we were turning or where aid was…but just keeping us talking to keep our minds off the race. One of my pacers was from Sellersburg and we talked about Louisville races and whatnot for awhile. That was really cool. He apparently had never heard of me. He must run in the wrong circles, HA! Just kidding.
By Mile 2 I had already talked his ear off about the Dopey Challenge. So…there was that. This is also where my watch was off from the mile markers. And, yes, my friends…it remained like that until…I kid you not…MILE 26. My watch was beeping about .1 mile after the actual mile markers. So, with the new course changes this year, I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to get in a full 26.2. BUT…I was also reminded by the pacers, that with the tunnel overpasses we run under/through, plus the buildings in downtown…you can’t really trust your GPS and that the course WAS measured correctly. SO…we went with it. I let it go. I just let it be.
The first couple of miles of this race is a lot of turns. For real. I feel like we go around so many corners, but it was okay. Also…we were slightly behind pace for the first couple of miles, but I trusted the pacers to get us where we needed to be. I was, however, keeping a close eye on my watch, in case I needed to just break away and do this on my own. Then, we busted out a faster fourth mile and had to tone it down a bit. Too early for that kind of craziness…and they knew it.
From there on, we pretty much stayed steadily just ahead of the actual pace, which made up for those first three, crowded miles. Also, this time I wasn’t tripped about three times heading into the 10K mark. For real. Last year, I had lined up with the 3:35 pace group and it became hazardous to my health around this time. Nope. We were a large group, but we were very aware of each other’s space. And that made a whole heap of difference. I was able to stay relaxed and just breathed. We crossed the 10K mark and kept on going. One of the pacers asked, “Who was worried, for no reason, about how cold it was today? You’re warm now right?” We all raised our hands. Don’t get me wrong, it was cold…but our bodies were working hard and we were definitely warm.
At Mile 7, we separate from the half marathon runners. They take a turn and the full marathon continues on straight. I was surprised at how good I felt at this point, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Despite the cold, I was fueling how I did in training and staying relaxed. I had goals, but I didn’t want to get worked up over them. I was just going to run my best on this day. And right now, my best was feeling good! At Mile 8, I fueled with the 5 oz flask I brought of the rest of my Maurten 320 from the morning. Onward.
I stayed just slightly behind the pacers through Mile 15 to be honest. But, I wasn’t going to sweat it. I distracted myself from Mile 10 to Mile 12 looking for my friends Susan and George. They live along there, and were going to come out to cheer. If they were out, I totally missed them. If they weren’t…I don’t blame them…it was cold. But, I continued to search for them on the sides of the roads, where people had come out of their warm houses to cheer everyone on. At Mile 12, I took a Maurten Gel 100. AND…I ditched my throwaway hat that I had kept on my head until then. The sun was finally coming out and I knew that the day was about to really start warming up. I was, however, glad I had my head covered up until that point. But now…now it was time to let those pigtails fly!
Halfway there…and I was smiling and high fiving kids and just having a blast. I mean, if you’re going to run 26.2 miles…you might as well have fun while doing it, right?
I was keeping a very steady pace, which continued as the miles ticked off. I fueled with another Maurten Gel 100 (and I was taking sips of water from my hydration vest EVERY mile (because I tend to under-hydrate in marathons and had practiced this in training so that it would be a habit and I wouldn’t crash at the end…which I still think is what happened at Glass City) at Mile 16, because I was going to do it every 4 miles to make sure my fuel stores stayed primed as the race went on.
The pacers had pulled slightly ahead of me, but I remained calm and breathed because I still had a ways to go. Panicking over pace right now wouldn’t serve me. Stay calm. My mantra crept in…”Keep Fighting.” At Mile 18 we went through this little park-like area…which I remembered last year had a lot of people inside just screaming. Same thing this year. It made me smile. “Keep Fighting.”
I caught back up to the 3:35 pacers as we started down the exit ramp at Mile 19. If you know me…you know…downhill is my favorite speed. I smiled a lot at this point…because I was still feeling good. I was feeling strong. I was ready to keep going. I had 7 more miles to go. I did that pretty much every easy run day. I just had to hold on.
At Mile 20, I took another gel. This was the last 10K. This is where most people hit a wall. Not me. I wasn’t going to hit a wall today. I was on a mission. I kept my head up, soaking in the sun (which was now up), thinking of my mom, running as fast as my legs could possibly go that far into a marathon. I was feeling strong still. No wall to have to break through this time. Although…to be honest, they have you run through this inflatable arch thing that looks like a brick wall… which did amuse me.
I maintained quite well the next few miles. I could feel some fatigue setting in, but it wasn’t bad. I still felt good. I kept telling myself that I had done this before. I raced a 30K and managed to be under my marathon pace. I did two of my five 20+ miler training runs at my marathon pace. Whatever road I still had ahead of me…I knew I was beyond capable of bringing this home.
And then, around Mile 23, we turned a corner and the headwind hit. And it hit hard. While the pacers continued on, I could definitely feel the need to fight a bit more now. The wind was no joke…and I knew we’d have it for the next few miles, at least until we turned and headed to that finish line. I wasn’t going to let it get in my head. I had time. I had this.
At Mile 24, I tried to open my final Maurten Gel 100 (I listen to enough runners on podcasts warn people to not skip that final gel in the last few miles…and now I understand why). It was hard to tear open, so I slowed to a light jog, got it opened, and picked it back up while I took it down. 2.2 miles to go.
The next few miles, I had my personal trainer, Corey’s voice in my head. All these little moves he had me do that would strengthen my body and get it prepared to find that “next gear” all came into play here. The wind was whipping, and I was fighting it the best I could. The next couple miles ticked off. I even had a friend of mine from Instagram shout at me from the side of the road. I smiled. That was amazing.
I made the turn onto W New York Street. From the years prior of me running this…the full and the half…I knew the finish line was around the corner. I made the turn. I could see it. I could see it and I picked it up…I started to just fight every part of my body that wanted me to slow down. As I got closer, I spotted the signs…the one Cathy held and the one Melissa held up. I could hear them shouting at me. I could hear them cheering. I was already crying. I was already crying because I knew I was doing it. I knew I was about to do it…FINALLY!
I crossed that finish line, arms up…and then, after I moved past the photographers…I paused my watch and glanced at it.
3:35:13…I had done it. I had gotten my BQ time for 2021. And the instant I confirmed it, I just started bawling. I was ugly crying right there at the finish. Cathy, Melissa (and Baby C), and Paul rushed over to me and we all hugged and cried together. All of us. Except for the baby, ironically. HA! Cathy pulled up her phone and started to play Dropkick Murphy’s “Shipping Up To Boston.” I cried some more. I cried more than I thought I could because I was just so happy. Cathy texted my mom and my coach. She told me they would meet me at the end and to go get my Mylar, medal, and snacks.
After I got my medal and Mylar, I spotted the pacer I ran with from Sellersburg and I told him I got my time. He high-fived me and I tried not to cry again…but I think I was. I met up with my amazing friends and they were patient enough with me to let me lay down and put my feet up for a few minutes. Melissa went to retrieve official results. Cathy and I went to see about getting my medal engraved. Then we went to retrieve my bonus shirt and medal for the Indython Ultra (for doing Fort Ben Half too). I gave Paul my free slice of pizza. It was a lot of emotions all at once and the reality of it all just kept hitting me. And I just kept crying…and smiling.
We made the walk back to the hotel together. Paul and Melissa very kindly went to retrieve some coffee for all of us. I took a shower and got dressed because I had the USL Eastern Cup Final happening in Indianapolis as well and I needed to go cheer on Louisville City FC. This also meant I had to go back out into the cold, but Cathy promised to bring blankets. Our friend Greg came with us to the match and to dinner.
I actually didn’t get to eat anything until long after the match, but the wait was worth it. I enjoyed some gluten free pizza and gluten free fries from Harry & Izzy’s. I had half the pizza left, so Cathy and I decided that would be breakfast the next morning. No shame.
We then returned to the hotel where we FINALLY got to crack open the wine I had been saving for the BQ moment. The three of us lifted our hotel plastic cups and enjoyed the celebration.
Let me also mention that Melissa and Cathy ran the 5K on race morning, with Melissa turning in her BEST post-baby 5K time and Cathy running a new PR (and her first sub-45 minute 5K).
Now that I’ve bragged on them…let’s go to the stats…
The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:35:13, which makes it my second fastest marathon to date of the 16 I have now fun. This took down Marshall by about 42 seconds. So damn proud of the hard work and training I did to make this happen. I was 1282/4962 finishers overall. I was the 329/2111 female finishers. And I was 98/412 in my age division. I might still be in shock from how everything played out that day. When it started to feel hard…I just kept fighting.
Never, ever give up on your dreams. It sometimes takes time to reach your goals. But that’s what makes them mean so much. Keep fighting.
I don’t know how I made it through these last 20 weeks, but with that said…race week has arrived. I’m both nervous, excited, anxious, and calm. How is it possible to feel all the thingsand remain sane? Well, the vote is still out on that whole remaining sane thing. HA!
This was definitely a week to turn it down. And my coach gave me specific instructions that he didn’t want me to take a complete back seat this week, but I could move or change whatever I needed to going into it. I didn’t change a damn thing. I did, however, knock my recovery runs down one mile and made sure to keep that pace nice…and…easy. The last thing I wanted was to go into race morning with lactic acid hanging around in these legs. NOPE NOPE NOPE!
As I mentioned previously, my coach does an untraditional taper. He does lower mileage (although I was in the 60s, 50s, 40s for the last three weeks)…kinda. He makes a lot of it all about that speed work. Getting those legs to fire…right at the end of a run…when they are the most exhausted. But this week really didn’t have too much on it. My longest run was 7 miles, and that was the ONLY one that really had a speed element to it. And it was a 4 mile fast finish. Other than that…strides on the last day I ran before the race. But I’ll cover all of that in this week recap.
It’s race week…let’s go!
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I love that even in taper, my coach trusts me with “Choose Your Own Adventure” runs. Knowing that this is race week, I really wanted to make my primary focus recovery. I want to hit that start line feeling fresh and ready. I was stressing over the forecast a little too much, because it looks like this will be my coldest marathon I have run. Thanks to Canada and this arctic blast that is attacking our nation. HA! Anyway, I woke up to weather JUST above freezing. So it was a long sleeve, capris kind of a run. I didn’t wear my Dunkin’ Donuts hat…don’t know why. I just didn’t. And the legs did a little shakeout. They felt good for a Monday. I opted to do 4 instead of my usual 5 miles…and somehow snagged some negative splits in the process. I called it a day. No personal training. Just my normal PT stretches. I didn’t even do the additional hip strengtheners this week, not wanting to accidentally tweak something. Simple. Basic. Got it done.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 5-8 MILES WITH 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 6.5 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END
I woke up on Tuesday morning to 50 degree weather. Yep. From 33 degrees Monday morning to 50 degrees on Tuesday. Fun times. I knew he gave me the option of 8 miles…and if this was training on a normal week and I was feeling good…I might have pushed for it. BUT…it’s taper. It’s race week. I don’t like half miles…so I rounded up to 7…and I opted to go right in the middle with that fast finish, doing 3 easy miles and pushing pace on those last 4. It felt hard. It shouldn’t have felt hard. But, I did at least get it done. My sinuses were having a fun reaction to the yo-yo temperatures, so that was fun. Other than that…I took it for what it was. Finished as strong as I could for the day, then went inside to shower and just do my usual stretching. Keeping it nice and easy. Oh, and I went and voted. Because that needed to happen!
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
Second verse, same as the first. My only other “Choose Your Own Adventure” run for the week. Happy to have had 2 of these. I opted to do 4 again, unless I just wasn’t feeling it. That’s the glory about these…I control them. I did make a note to back off on pace and just let the legs work a little less. My last 2 miles were much quicker than my first 2 miles, but that’s because it took me 2 miles to feel warm. Isn’t that fun. OH…did I not mention that the temperature dipped back down to just above freezing again? Another morning with 33 degrees. Oh…joy. And the fact that I went from a warm apartment to run and it took me 2 miles to get my legs going was a bit of a concern. I just tried very hard not to let it get into my head. I did my stretches twice that morning. And I foam rolled before work. After work, I had a sports massage and I was so thankful for that. Basically all that is holding me back right now is the weather.
Thursday: BASE FUN 4-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 6 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT
It was another rainy Thursday morning. Just like last week. UGH. MEH. BLAH. I originally had thought about just doing the run on the treadmill, but I can’t do strides on the tready. Nope. So…I opted to just go and get it done. It never stopped raining on me…but thankfully, we were back up to 50 degrees. WHAT THE HELL WEATHER?! So, I definitely didn’t want to push anything. Not even the hills I go up and down. This was one of my slowest training runs to date. And some of it might have been fear of slipping on the wet pavement and falling. I won’t lie. But I really just wanted it all to feel super easy. It didn’t. I blame the rain. But, I did get in 6 miles. See…I was given the option of going up to 8…but I really am doing JUST what needs to be done this week. I reset for strides and pushed those legs on some short sprints…then went inside to take a hot shower, stretch, and get to work. I met my friend, Melissa, for coffee after work…and she gave me my start line pep talk just in case she couldn’t get that out at my start line. I appreciated it. Went home to eat dinner. Was supposed to pack. Didn’t pack. Went to bed by 8:30…because I really wanted to get some quality sleep knowing that I probably won’t sleep much on Friday night.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
Thank God for small miracles. I woke up at normal time…of course. I didn’t set an alarm. I just woke up. So I lounged and dozed and finally got up at 5 am. I showered. I stretched. I was thankful to not have to do one single mile today. I was thankful that it was 26 degrees outside and I got to stay inside, stretch, hydrate, and sit under my snuggie, working on this blog. That’s what I did. I eventually made breakfast and my roommate and I got to packing…pretty much every option for any scenario on race day. I still don’t know what I should or want to wear during the race. We haven’t had weather this cold yet here…so I am at a total loss. Not to mention, I have never run a marathon or a long distance run in temperatures like this. It doesn’t sound fun. It’s producing a lot of anxiety…but we’re working through it. We had to wait for Dragon King’s Daughter to open so I could order my “magic sushi” to take with me to Indianapolis. Then we hit the road to get up to Indy, check into the hotel, and hit the expo. The rest of the time, I was going to spend in the hotel…rolling, stretching, and keeping myself off my feet. I wanted to feel good Saturday morning.
Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON
Goal: Qualify for Boston – needed 3:40 time.
Finished in 3:35:13.
More to come in actual post race recap! This girl is going back to Boston in 2021! This is my second fastest marathon…EVER. This beats out my 2nd marathon, the Marshall Marathon, by about 42 seconds. Super proud. Super sore. But my day didn’t end with that finish line. Then I went and sat outside in Indianapolis for the USL Eastern Conference Finals between the Indy Eleven and…Louisville City FC. We won. In overtime. It was a long day of being cold.
Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I just can’t sleep the night after I run a marathon. I was up until after midnight, watching Mindhunter (finished Season 2) and was still NOT tired. I tossed and turned all night. Finally got up and decided to finish this blog. Will take a short 20 minute walk on the hotel treadmill this morning before grabbing breakfast, packing, loading up the car, and heading out for some shopping and lunch (you know I’m going to Woody’s). Then, the long car ride home to Louisville, where I still need to buy groceries, meal prep, and all the usual stuff. This coming week will bring my 20-30 minute walks (just like I did post Glass City Marathon in April). I want to get back to spin classes…all the stuff I stopped doing when marathon training took over my life. Looking forward to this recovery time while I make plans for 2020, which now doesn’t need to include a marathon!
Guys…we have 19 weeks of hard training down…and only one more to go until the big day. Am I nervous? Of course. There’s something scary about putting your goals out there for people to see…for putting your training out there for people to read. Setting big goals in and of themselves can be a scary ordeal.
But there is no turning back now. We’re in the homestretch. That start line and that finish line are waiting…
So let’s do this thing.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I was so thankful to have another Monday as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of run. After moving my long run last week to Sunday, it was nice to not have to worry about hitting paces or doing some sort of workout. I didn’t know this, however, until the morning when I woke up. My coach sends through my plan after his children go to bed…and I had already gone to bed ahead of that. What can I say? Rest and sleep have been a priority this entire training cycle and it has made a world of difference. So…I went out there, watch covered, and put in some miles. I kept it easy and relaxed and just let my legs do what they needed and wanted to do that day. No pressure. No anxiety. Just a simple run to shake out the legs. I finished up with 5 miles for the morning, because my legs felt that good. I did my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning round of stretches this morning. Then, at noon, at met with my personal trainer, Corey, who put me through a leg day workout, targeting some muscles that don’t get a lot of love. I stretched and foam rolled that evening and went to bed early (as always)
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
I didn’t want to incorporate speed during my taper…but it’s important to keep that rolling. And my coach, thankfully, handed me my favorite of the speed workouts to do. The Mona Fartleks. If you haven’t tried these yet…DO IT! You’ll see what I mean. Mona Fartleks work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2 x 90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4 x 30 sec, 4 x 15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. Simple. Basic. FUN! It was a cool morning…and I felt fast. I really did. I kept my warm up nice and easy then really hit those intervals. I even managed a mile in the 6s for pace at the end. My cool down…faster than my warm up, but it usually is. I mean…I wasn’t expecting my legs to respond like that, but they felt ready to go. They felt strong. It worked out to be 8 miles for the day. I went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches. Went to work. Came home and did those evening stretches before hitting the sack for some sleep.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
It was the perfect morning for another easy “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.” When I have those in the middle of the week, it always means another bit of speed is coming the following day. With that in mind, my watch was covered and I went out and ran comfortably. And apparently comfortably that day was…faster than anticipated. I felt amazing the entire time. Rested. Strong. Capable. This is what you need to be feeling this week of training…and I’m hitting it. I did another 5 miles this morning, surprised with the average pace at the end. I hoped it wouldn’t hinder my run the following day. I stretched. I went to work. And I met with Corey at lunch for personal training, focusing on triceps. We kept the session shorter than usual because he wanted to make sure I had no lactic acid built up as I go into race week. He’s a runner. He’s an athlete. He gets these things. That evening I had a great sports massage and all felt right with the world. Except for…the rain.
Thursday: 8-10 MILES WITH A 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 9 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END
I didn’t casually mention rain yesterday for no reason. When I woke up early to fit in this run (knowing I wasn’t going to do anything over the goal distance)…it was pouring rain. Fun fact…if it starts to rain on me after I’m out running, I’m okay with it. I don’t like starting in the rain. At all. And…if this wasn’t as long of a run, I probably would have gone to the gym and done it on the treadmill. My plan was to go out and do 5 easy and 4 at marathon pace. When the rain picked up that morning…I hit four miles and chose to just hit 5 at marathon pace instead. So…off I went. And even in the pouring rain (thankfully it was 58 degrees outside)…which I always fret over slipping…I nailed it. Completely nailed it. I even felt like I could have pushed harder, but the purpose of the exercise was to hit marathon pace, not half marathon pace. This was also the first time since July that I have run with my watch uncovered. And it didn’t stress me out at all. That being said, I was very happy to finish up this run and get out of the rain. 9 miles for the day…5 of them fast. It was a HUGE confidence boost to do that in rain. I did my stretches in the morning and night. Oh…and by the time I left work, winter had arrived. We legit had snowflakes in the air. NOPE!
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I didn’t sleep in much for some reason this Friday. I kept waking up. So, eventually, I just got myself out of bed and went to be a little productive. I erased my whiteboard art and went and did up something new for the month of November. I used Simba from The Lion King (the original animated one) with his mane of leaves. Because it’s fall. Leaves mean fall. And I love drawing Disney characters. I showered. I stretched. I finished filling out my paper work for my podiatrist. My appointment got moved to just before lunch today. I don’t anticipate this being a long visit…but hoping he can do something about some of my nails (marathon training for 2 years = ugly feet). And…after work, we hit up Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi” as I prepare for my long run on Saturday.
Saturday: 11-13 MILES WITH 5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END
Woke up to weather in the 20s. No joke. It was 28° and I was not happy! Not one bit. I don’t do well in temperatures below freezing. It’s part of having Raynaud’s. It sucks to try to run when you can’t feel your feet. So, I admit…I was in a bad mood at the start of this run. Not even going to lie. I didn’t even plan out a route or think it through the night before. I just was determined that this run was going to be awful. It wasn’t too bad. It was just cold. But guess what…I warmed up. The sky was crystal clear. The sun came out. And while I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, my movement did finally give me some feeling in my extremities. YAY! The same could not be said for my iPhone 7. The battery died 30 minutes into my run. Guys…I can’t have my phone battery dying when the weather is cold. It’s a safety issue for ME. Against my will, I ended up turning the phone off and finishing up the run, with the last 5 miles being along my super-hilly Thanksgiving course. WHY do I do this? Why do I forget (I run this course all the time) how hard those hills are? But I pushed my fast finish at marathon pace. It was a bit of a struggle today, but my last long run was done. I took a warm shower. I put on real (warm) clothes. I watched Mindhunter with my breakfast gluten-free bagel. I went grocery shopping (all day). I came home and put away groceries. Stretched. Watched Top Chef. Watched Mindhunter. Then watched Louisville City FC win (on the road) the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Guess what? The Eastern Conference Finals are being held in Indianapolis…the afternoon of my marathon. Guess what we’re getting tickets to go watch!! It was a late night (for me) but worth staying up for.
Sunday: BASE RUN 5-8 MILES + 4-6 STIDES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT
The time change messed with me. I always panic when we have to fall back or jump forward. Especially when I am meeting with friends to go running. I set my alarm clock (which I needed to adjust the time, but in hindsight didn’t actually move it when we jumped forward in the spring…so I totally had the time wrong. But I also set my phone alarm. Then I woke up, not trusting it. And my alarm clock (was wrong) said one time. My phone and Garmin said another. The clock in the living room said the same time as my phone, and the clock in the kitchen had the same time as my alarm clock. I was driving myself crazy. I finally asked Siri what time it was…and my phone was correct. I just don’t trust technology to actually fall back. Deep breath. So, I snuggled down for another hour…but didn’t really sleep. Finally got up to stretch, hydrate, fuel, and get my stuff together. I figured, with it being another below freezing morning, I’d have to give myself time to scrape the windows of my car before driving to meet my friend Ron for my last weekend run before the marathon. Murder fog rolled in as I arrived. He had gone to do his additional 2 miles ahead of our meeting. And we ran through it for a mile before it started to lift and the sun came back out. We kept it easy and talked a lot about race strategy and the weather (he’s a meteorologist) and how to dress. It’s all confusing to me. Aside from the weather (which is an uncontrollable), I do feel confident and good and better than ever as this training cycle wraps up. We threw in the strides at the end of the run. Walked it back to the cars. Stretched. And that was it. The last long run before the big day. 8 miles total.
So, yeah…a part of me is internally freaking out because I have put this HUGE goal out there for everyone to see, read about, and follow along with. But, it honestly doesn’t feel like any pressure to perform has been put on me. I trust my coach…his plan…my training…and I know I am capable of having a great race. Now…I need the day to go well. You never know on race day what can happen. But…honestly, I have never felt more ready to run 26.2 miles.
Six days to go. And, let me tell you, my friends running the NYC Marathon have been quite the inspiration! Here’s to staying focused, healthy, and strong in these final days before the start line.
It’s taper…but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I’m still around 50 miles this week. Not unusual, to be honest. This was about what happened when I ran Glass City Marathon back in April. I told you…my coach is very untraditional when it comes to the actual taper leading into a marathon. That being said, mileage did go DOWN from last week…so it is technically a taper, right?
This week was crazy. Lots of rearranging due to events and/or weather. Tuesday night I was out late at the KFC Yum! Center seeing Celine Dion perform. So I flipped speed work to Thursday. Saturday’s weather was calling for TONS of rains (up to 3 inches) and some strong wind gusts…so I flipped my long run to Sunday. So, structure isn’t a thing this week. This week, it was all about fitting it all in. October has been a crazy month and we are now two weeks out from the big day. I need things to slow down a little.
Let’s take a look at the week, shall we?
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
After last week’s hellish week of speed, I was thankful that Monday showed up as a choose your own adventure run. That is…I choose the distance and the pace…depending on how I feel and what I want to do. I always appreciate these runs. No pressure to put in any sort of long run. I could stop at 1 mile…I never go over 5. I was thankful for the recovery day and just let me legs do what the wanted and needed that day. Kept my watch covered and just paid attention to if/when I was struggling with hills or feeling like I needed to stop. It was just what I needed and I was happy that this turned, allowing me to not have to think about my run. Just plug in and go. I ended up with 5 that morning, as I felt good and the temperatures seemed just perfect. Low to mid 50s…that’s a happy place for me. I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches this morning as well. AND…I had a personal training session with Corey, focusing on legs. It was a busy and full day, but thankfully the run felt good.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
Tuesday morning brought one of the speed elements I was given this week, but thankfully, it’s the least intimidating. Strides. My run was to be kept at my base pace, not really pushing it but keeping it where my rhythm naturally falls. It was almost 60 degrees this morning, so I was back in a tank top and loving it. I ran 7.5 miles without issue, keeping it around my usual base pace (sometimes faster, it just depends on hills). And I felt amazing. I added on the strides at the end, and my legs felt fast and strong as I pushed through 6 of them. That was 8 miles total for the morning. And after my shower, I went ahead and did my next round of hip strengtheners with my stretches. Got through the work day, ate dinner, and headed out to the Celine Dion concert in Louisville. The show was great…and I got home late. That being said, it wasn’t yet midnight (I got in bed at 11 pm), so I didn’t have to get out and run my miles before bed for Wednesday. And I set a later alarm, knowing that I didn’t have my big (and high mileage) speed work that following day anymore. Thank God for a flexible coach and schedule. I slept really well, surprisingly…just not enough despite a later (by about an hour) alarm.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
From tank top to sleeves. Wednesday morning, I headed out to run just after 4:30 am. Thankful for the change to an easy, recovery run, I was hoping to at least get 3 miles in. I would let my legs and body tell me what I had in me. It was 41 degrees, but felt like 39. That was a big change from the 60 degrees the previous morning. I started off nice and easy and, while I felt tired this morning, my legs apparently felt good. I was a little surprised by the overall pace when I uncovered my watch at the end of my run. I never pushed pace, or even worked hard on the hills. Recovery is very important and even I take recovery runs seriously. Since it all felt so fluid and good that morning, I went ahead and did 5 miles. After a shower, I did my stretches twice…and then later that evening, after work and dinner, I went and got a sports massage…which I felt I really needed! I went right to bed when I got home because the second speed element was in my track workout (that I don’t do on a track) the following morning.
Thursday: TRACK WORKOUT: 1 MILE WU; 10X800M (GOAL: 3:30 OR ~7 MIN PACE) W/ EQUAL RECOVERY (AT A JOG, NOT WALKING), 1 MILE CD
It had been a full two days since I had an actual foam rolling session. Granted, I did get a sports massage the night before, but when I stepped out (back in short sleeves because the temperature was in the mid-40s), I really knew I needed to get some good foam rolling in after this. I won’t lie, 800s are my LEAST favorite speed workout. Seriously. I feel like they take forever to actually run (even though, for me, it’s close to 3:30 minutes…but that’s an eternity, honestly). I don’t have a track nearby or open to the public…so I use a stretch of road and just run up and down it. My warmup was nice and easy, followed by some dynamic stretches (high knees and butt kicks) before I launched into all TEN…TEN!! of my 800s that morning. I could feel how each one was becoming harder and harder to hit, but I actually managed to keep the prescribed pace and never was slower than Daniel wanted me to aim for. So, that was good. In fact, before I could even fill in the comments on the training app we use, he was already commenting on how I nailed this one. It was a good feeling. So was finishing this up. Because I really was not loving the speed work. The cool down mile gave me 12 total for the day, 10 of which were the run/jog intervals. I really made sure I kept it at a light jog, so I could feel recovered enough to push on every interval that followed. I succeeded. I stretched that morning and later that night went on a 5 mile run (doing the Thanksgiving route) with my friend Melissa. It had been forever since we had run together and, she really wanted to do this route WITH me. I don’t get invited to run with people often, and I don’t care if you run slower than me or not, I love running with people. We kept this at a very, very easy pace because we both needed it that way. After I downed a bagel for dinner, I stretched again and FINALLY got in some foam rolling. I went to bed, setting a late alarm because my rest day was coming.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I was definitely sleeping better this week than I had been in the previous weeks. So, that’s an improvement. That being said, I woke up a full hour before my alarm. I tried to lounge in bed and doze, but I was awake. So…I got up, showered, did my stretches, got ready for work, ate breakfast, had coffee, survived the workday, came home for dinner. My coach and my training partner opted to move my long run to Sunday due to the weather on Saturday…so I wasn’t feeling pressed for time. I started a new season of Top Chef (I’m on the season in Boston, ironically), went to bed, setting a later alarm once again because I knew I was either going to do a short run in a gentle rain, or head to the gym to use the treadmill if it was a harder rain. At this point in the game, I’m 2 weeks out from my goal race…why risk slipping on wet leaves or pavement, twisting an ankle in a pothole that I thought was a puddle, or putting my immune system to the test in inclement weather? Not worth it. I’d make the call in the morning.
Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
Well, it was pouring when I woke up. It was. But I still had some time to make the decision. I got over 9 hours of sleep, so I was feeling rested and ready, regardless. I went ahead and did my stretches and hydrated. I stepped outside, and it was still a steady rain, so I decided that, the best thing for ME to do, was to do this easy, recovery run inside. On the treadmill. You guys know I’m not a fan of the treadmill, but this was definitely the right choice. I know a lot of people who were training and/or racing out in the weather, and that’s fine. I don’t risk anything this close to race day. And while it is possible it could rain on November 9…I have run and raced in the rain before. And the training ground is NOT my proving ground and never will be. I went to the gym and did a very easy pace (with a 1% incline) for 5 miles. I forgot to set the incline at first, and my shins were killing me. I was really confused and then I figured that out. Sometimes a flat treadmill works best, sometimes that additional incline works magic. I needed it today. Honestly, I really kept an easy pace…probably easier than I would have done if I had been outside. And that was the entire purpose of this run. I went home afterwards, ate a big breakfast that my roommate prepared for me. Then went grocery shopping. Came home, prepared my breakfast to eat before my long run on Sunday…watched some soccer and rugby…and then went out to Dragon King’s Daughter for my “magic sushi” as my long run was tomorrow. The playoffs for the Eastern Conference Finals were happening at Slugger Field tonight, but with the rain, despite having paid for the tickets, we bowed out. Sitting in the rain and strong winds just didn’t sound appealing at all. I went to bed early…hoping our soccer team pulled off a win…and preparing for my long run, most of which, thankfully, I’d have some company for.
Sunday: 14-18 MILE LONG RUN – GOAL 16 MILES – WITH 3 MILE RACE PACE FINISH: EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE DAY FUELING STRATEGY. AT THE END, CLIMB DOWN TO RACE PACE FOR 3-4 MILES.
With the whole intention of tapering down, I could have easily have gone on the higher end and pushed 18 miles. But I honestly felt the goal of 16 was enough for this week. And, thankfully, my training partner was free both days this weekend, so when we flipped to the better weather of Sunday from Saturday’s lousy weather…he was still able to join me and help me with my last push at the end. I ended up getting up at 5 am. This gave me time to stretch, do my pushups, eat breakfast, foam roll, get dressed, put on sunscreen, fuel, pack up my hydration vest, put on reflective gear, and head out the door at 7:20 am…without feeling rushed. And I still had over 8 hours of sleep the night before. I ran from my apartment down to the YMCA, where Ron was going to meet me. I had 4 miles down there, and Ron showed up (a little late thanks to crazy road closures and traffic) and we headed out. We kept the pace pretty easy on the 6 miles down the Greenway…which felt fast because we had this great tailwind. BUT…this also meant when we turned around to head back (and do the fast finish) we’d have a headwind. We eased into it…and both decided to just do the 3 miles fast at the end. We hit it and Ron was amazing at keeping me on pace and making sure I didn’t push too much when I didn’t need to. It felt easy having someone worry about the pace for me…and he’s really good at it. We needed to beat a train, so the last .1 of our run was up a hill, but we were at or just slightly faster than my marathon pace. Spirits lifted. Feeling so good. He was kind enough to give me a lift home afterwards.
So…we’re 13 days away from the official start of the Monumental Marathon…and with every run I’m growing in confidence and feeling more and more ready. That’s the whole point of taper.
And, to be honest, I’m hoping that the miles go down a lot more this week…but we shall see what my coach has in store. I trust him. It trust the process. And for the first time in a long time…I trust my training.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!