CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (November 6, 2021)

Crossing the finish line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 6, 2021

Time: 3:33:46

Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.

Let’s skip to the good part:

  • BOSTON QUALIFIED!
  • This was my second fastest marathon in the 17 I have run (my PR was my first marathon back in 2013)
  • I negative split a marathon for the first time…EVER.
  • I threw the plan away halfway through the race…and this wasn’t a bad thing.

Whew. Deep breath. Now let’s talk about why all of the above is important, because coming into race day, I was starting to really have my doubts. Legit, I was having meltdowns over the possibility of everything going wrong on race day (hey…it can happen), and in turn letting myself and everyone else (honestly…no one would ever be disappointed in me) down in the process.

As many of you know, this race, initially, was supposed to be Marathon #3 in a span of 6 weeks. Berlin 2021 would kick it off…then Boston 2021…then Monumental. So, when I started back with my coach in February, we were working on getting me prepared to run decent marathons over such a short span of time. But, I opted to defer Berlin, not knowing where the world would be with COVID at that point, and I really wanted the FULL experience in Germany, up to and including Oktoberfest, which was canceled in 2021. Boston announced a reduced field size, but with it being the 125th running…registration was crazy (this included international, which eventually meant spots opened up because of travel restrictions, which were then given to those who qualified and registered for the Virtual Boston Marathon (I have a lot of opinions on that too…and if you know me, you’ve heard them, so I won’t voice it again). So, when I lost Boston because a buffer that would have been big enough on a normal year wasn’t good, I was heartbroken. When Boston offered spots to those who opted to do the virtual (I opted to train and do a marathon and qualify again for more than that reason), I was crushed. It was heartbreak all over again. And it took A LOT of wind out of my sails. Not going to lie.

But we move on.

I will say this…my training from February through November was crap. I pretty much hated every bit of it. Not all of it. But I felt like the things that concerned me or that I didn’t like weren’t being heard. For instance, I don’t like training by time. I would much rather be told how far to run, and not what amount of time to run for. I have never enjoyed training by time, and I still don’t. Pretty much every run had some aspect of speed in it. I love a run where I get to chill and not think about pushing paces. Whether it was fartleks, or strides, or hill sprints, or some ungodly amount of 800 m repeats…it was always something. And let’s talk about the summer heat. For years, I was fine in the heats. I did better in the heat. But the last three or so years, I wilt in the summer and summer runs legit take it all out of me. And speed work in the heat…that’s instant death. It was rare a summer speed session went the way it should have. And when you’re a perfectionist like me…well…that gets in your head.

Add to that, getting a text from your coach a few weeks out and being told that he isn’t confident, based on training, that my BQ goal was likely. Nothing sucks more than having the person who is supposed to be confident and instill confidence in you tell you that he’s not confident. It made me not confident. Thankfully, I have family and friends who told me otherwise on repeat because that totally messed me up. And guess what? When the cooler temperatures moved in, my paces got faster and felt easier. I ran a fast half marathon without even pushing my full potential just a few weeks prior to this race. That was a confidence booster there.

Shake out run feels!

On the Thursday before the race, my coach called while I was driving home from work to go over race day expectations. He was out on his long run and had three athletes running Monumental, so hew as knocking them out while on the run. He once again brought up my training, and how it really never clicked until 3 weeks out from race day. So, he said, expectations for a 3:35 were possible, but felt my 3:30 suggestion was out of my reach. He said, honestly, that a 3:37-3:40 was most likely where I would come in. He said lining up with the 3:30 group might be disheartening if I went out hot and then fell off. He said to line up with the 3:35 group…and expect that I might fall off them, but to just do my best to hold on. And…to have some names of people in mind to dedicate the later miles to, when the race would surely get hard and start to hurt. Considering I dedicated every mile in my first marathon to people, this is a tactic I have used before.

Welcome to Friday. I took the day off work so I wouldn’t have to try to make it up to Indianapolis after work when traffic might be crazy and I would be stressed out. This allowed me to do my shakeout run (45 minutes…PLUS STRIDES) in the daylight, which gave me way more options on where to run. I chose a hilly route and took it easy…then finished off those strides feeling strong and fast. Awesome. Took a shower. Finished packing. Called in my order to my local sushi place to get my sushi to go and haul it up to Indianapolis (in a cooler, just FYI) with me so I could keep the “magic sushi” pre-race/long run tradition alive. We picked it up…stored it in the cooler, and made the drive up to Indianapolis…with no delays or problems.

Because I am a self-proclaimed princess (or maybe it’s the 4 tiaras that I own…ha!), my roommate and I were staying at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. I know…fancy. And Marriott rewards points are always nice to have and use. This was convenient, as it wasn’t far from the start and finish line…nor was it far from the expo. The one thing that was of concern was my roommate had suddenly started snuffling on Wednesday. She claimed, like everyone does, that it was allergies, but finally admitted on Friday it was a head cold. Worst. Timing. Ever. We got up to the room, on the 18th floor, and then headed out to the expo. Despite being triple vaxxed (2 shots + booster) we masked up, and with Cathy dealing with a head cold…it was the smartest thing to do.

EXPO TIME!

The expo was small, but this one usually is. Cathy got her packet first…super easy. I went and got mine. And then I picked up a packet for a friend of a friend of mine. No hassles or problems. Very easy and streamlined. Then I went to Runner’s Services to pick up my Monumental Ambassador shirt (did I mention I was a race ambassador? This was fun…but it weird to still be doing it in a pandemic year as I feel like there would have been a lot more going on had we been able to gather) as well as a hoodie that was mailed to me, but never actually got to me. Seems about right. Thanks for that USPS. I met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Juan…and then took a spin through the official merchandise. It’s good luck for me to buy SOMETHING from the race. I thought about a coffee mug, but they weren’t selling any. Boo. So, I started looking for some tops…which, sadly, by 3 pm on Friday, all that was left were the L-3XL. I was really disappointed. On a side table, I did spot a bright yellow quarter zip that had a few women’s smalls in it. So…that’s what I ended up with. It wasn’t the piece of merchandise I was interested in…but it’s something that will get worn. I wandered around the expo, hoping to run into a few friends…but eventually had to head back to the room and get off my feet.

My name on the race poster

On the way back to the hotel, I did run into Tammy & Dean, who I’ve run with in the past and are local runners and friends of mine. We chatted for awhile, I we informed them of the lack of actual merchandise for smaller people. We parted ways so they could get down to the expo and I got upstairs. My friend Kelsie called just as I got back and was down at the expo. We decided we would meet up before the race because we both wanted photos together. Afterwards, I showered and settled in for the night. Yes…with Food Network and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (duh…always!). Cathy ended up opting for an easy room service order of a quesadilla, instead of trying to find something downtown that she could carry out back to the hotel. The box she picked up had three quesadillas in it. No lie. I think she ate half of it and put the other half in the fridge to have after her 5K (she never got around to it, though). I busted out my sushi I brought with me from Dragon King’s Daughter. I didn’t have any chopsticks with me…so I turned it into finger food. You do what you gotta do. Thankfully, sushi isn’t a messy meal.

Pre-Race Vegan Sushi has never let me down

Soon after, I was brushing my teeth and getting everything ready for the morning. I set three different alarms. One for me. Another for me. And one for Cathy. Lights out was close to 9 pm. And, of course, I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t really had good sleep since I moved apartments in March 2020 (and we all know what else happened in March 2020). I try though. And while I did fall sleep, it was for 20 minute spurts and then I’d wake up…roll over a couple times…and try again. My first two alarms never actually went off because I was already awake to turn them off.

All week, I had been fussing over the weather. We were getting a cold snap, so once again race morning was going to be cold. If you remember, in 2019…it was around 29 degrees when I crossed the finish line. This year, it was going to be 30 degrees at the start…no wind. So, after going back and forth on it…I opted to wear shorts (who am I?). Getting ready in the morning is easy. First I ate my over night oats. Then I put on my race outfit. Then sunscreen (always sunscreen!). My new friend, Sue, who I had picked up the packet for, was on her way to my hotel to get her stuff, so I headed downstairs to meet her. When I handed it off, she mentioned that it didn’t feel too bad out there. I asked her if the shorts were appropriate. She said yes. We wished each other luck and I went back up to my room. I now had to put my hair extensions in and put the signature pigtails in my hair. Thankfully, everything cooperated. I brought some throw-away clothes, which I slipped into and filled up my hydration pack with Nuun, and grabbed my Maurten gels and my Maurten 320 to drink about 30 minutes prior to the race. Cathy handed me a Mylar to wrap around myself while waiting for the start…and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.

My roommate surprised me by putting these tags on my racing shoes. One a Ted Lasso sentiment. The other, something my mom always says to me.

The plan was to meet up with EVERYONE at a specific statue at the Indiana Statehouse. I managed to find a few members of my She Runs This Town (SRTT) chapter, but not everyone was there yet for the photo. I went to go fuel…and immediately had a meltdown over the race, which Cathy had to deal with. She spotted my pacer and told me to go and talk to him. He was easy to spot. REALLY tall. Wearing a throw away tie dye shirt. I called him Tie Dye Guy (any other Only Murders In The Building watchers?). His actual name was Riley. The corrals got really crowded really fast. I met Jason, another pacer. And Gerald, from Chicago. We chatted as other people started to cluster around the pace group. I ducked away just briefly to ditch the throw away clothes and returned…ready to run.

I never did get to meet up with Kelsie or Taushah. And I missed the photo op with my SRTT ladies…but the race was getting ready to go. The national anthem was played. And then Wave A was sent off. I was in Wave B, so we were moved up and had to wait until we were sent off. That was about 5 minutes later.

Race outfit. ALL THE COLORS!

The first mile of this race was CROWDED. I mean…crowded. The pacers were having a hard time getting up to pace and the rest of us were trying to duck and dodge people in order to keep up with our pacers. Despite all of that…the first mile was WAY behind pace…clocking in at 8:30 (a 3:35 means an 8:11 mile average). They encouraged us by saying that we would slowly chip away at that in the next couple miles and get back on track. Mile 2 came around at 8:08 pace. As we entered Monumental Circe, there was a crowd there and a lot more room to move (finally). So Riley and Jason took us a bit faster but got us back on pace by the time we clipped over to Mile 3 with a 7:33 pace. WAY faster than we should be, but back on track.

Miles 4-7 were really easy. I stayed with the pacers or just behind them for most of it. And I found myself moving slightly ahead around Mile 6. I was talking with Gerald. Easy conversation. I could easily have a conversation. But we noticed the pace group was falling back behind us and both decided we should back off pace and keep them closer. Here, Riley busted out one of his cheers, which really made it fun. Just before Mile 8 is the split off where the half marathon runners go left and those running the full go straight. I fueled at this point with the rest of my Maurten 320 and again found myself up ahead of the pace group. I eased back again, even thought I felt good. I was Mile 8…too early, I told myself. I still stayed just ahead of them though…because I know sometimes pace groups can get crowded (I have been tripped more than once running with a pace group). I heard someone chatting behind me about living in Clarksville, Indiana. And I turned my head and said, “I’m in New Albany!” He mentioned probably seeing him on the Greenway if I run there. I’ll have to see if our paths cross next time I am down that way. I remained really steady with my pace from Miles 9-13, and was distracted between Miles 10-11 as I searched to see if my friends George and Susan were out as they live on the road those miles fall on. It was really cold…I didn’t spot them. I doubt they were out, but I always check…just in case.

A very chaotic and crowded start!

We ran through the halfway point, and Riley busted out his second cheer to get us motivated and keep it fun. I still felt really good. I moved ahead again. In my head, I was hearing my coach telling me to hang with the pacers through at least Mile 20. I thought about how much further I still had to go. But I also knew I felt GOOD! So, I said…”FUCK IT!” And I went.

This is where I meet my new friend Stephanie. She moved up with me and asked if I was going for a BQ. I told her I was and asked if she was as well. She said she was and she said I looked really solid with my pace. So for awhile we were right there with each other. The miles clicked off and I never felt tired. I fueled at 12 and again at 16. I made sure I was hydrating at every mile, and in between if I felt I needed it. Mile 18 clicked off and then we hit my favorite part…the downhill at Mile 19. Love it. Downhill is my favorite.

Mile 20 is where most people start hitting the wall, but I was starting to pick the pace back up. I started passing people who were slowing down or starting to walk. (No shame in the walk game, FYI…I managed a 3:49:46 at the Dopey Challenge in the marathon (which is after running a 5K, 10K, and Half in the 3 days prior to the marathon) taking walk breaks). I actually felt like I could run this pace all day. Stephanie and I ended up running those last few miles together. It was nice to have company stride for stride. She was kicking ass. In 2019, the last three miles had a terrible headwind. This year…none of that. The sun was out. It was over 40 degrees (which meant I was now hot, but didn’t want to slow down to mess with taking off arm warmers). At Mile 23, i said, “We’re going to do it!” to Stephanie. She said, “Fuck yeah, we are!” I knew I liked her. I took my last Maurten Gel at Mile 24. I know only 2 miles remain at that point, but why risk having a lull in energy? Stephanie moved just slightly ahead after Mile 25 and inside my head I was cheering her on because it was motivating me. My friend Dean was somewhere around that last mile and he gave me a motivational cheer as I ran past. I smiled and waved. I still felt good. That final turn into the finish line was amazing. So many spectators cheering. I was looking for Cathy in the crowd, but didn’t see her as I headed into the finish line. I crossed…throwing my hands up into the air and stopped my watch AFTER I moved past the photographers. She was on the other side of the finish…holding a sign.

Post-Race representing the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Stephanie turned around and we gave each other a hug and congratulated each other. We’re now friends on social media. I then went over to Cathy, and finally uncovered my watch, seeing 3:33 staring back at me. And I broke down in tears of joy. I not only hit my goal…I smashed it. She told me to go get my medal and goodies and she would meet me at the end of the chute. I spotted Riley after that and he said, “Did you get your BQ?” I said I had and he high fived me. So did Jason. I got wrapped in Mylar and received my medal. A volunteer opened my water bottle for me and I took a sip while I waited to take a photo with my medal. Gerald found me then and we talked. He also got a BQ. And the guy from Clarksville…he was behind me in the line and we chatted some more too.

Got my photo. Got my winter hat. Grabbed a bag of chips and a cookie. One runner dropped his cookie near the table and thought about bending over to get it. He started to do that, but then stopped. I said, “It lives there now…just grab another!” He did exactly that.

I met up with Cathy and we moved to the lawn so I could lay down and put my feet up. We were waiting on our friend Greg to arrive. Cathy went to grab my Indython charm and scarf and to try to get my medal engraved. The line was crazy long so I said it wasn’t that important. Greg did arrive as I was finishing up a phone call to my mom (I always talk to my mom when I finish a race). We headed back to the hotel so I could get warm. I laid on the floor with my feet up for a little longer before heading into the bathroom to shower and change.

Greek Tacos & Kettle Chips at Woody’s Library Resturant

While I wasn’t very hungry, I also know that post-race nutrition is important. So, we walked down to Harry & Izzy’s, but the patio seating wasn’t open and there was a wait for seating. Instead, we walked to where Greg was parked and headed into Carmel to try to get seating at Woody’s Library Restaurant. There was a small wait, and we decided to walk up to the gluten-free bakery, No Label at the Table, for some goodies. The restaurant called while we were in there so Greg and a I hurried back to get the table. I noticed then that I wasn’t as sore as I usually am after a marathon. Not mad at that.

My dinner was Greek Tacos with Kettle Chips (the tots and fries and stuff used to be GF here, but it’s been 2 years since I’ve eaten there and that is no longer the case). After that, Greg drove us back to the hotel and dropped us off. Cathy and I took a walk through the park before calling it a day and heading in for the night.

It was a good day. It was a very good day.

The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:33:46, which now makes this my second fastest marathon to date of the 17 I have now fun. This honor had since gone to the 2019 Monumental Marathon, but I beat that time by 2 minutes. Also, this was the first time I ever negative split a marathon. Cathy waid she was watching my splits and going, “She’s speeding up!” I was 1315/3948 finishers overall. I was the 333/1598 female finishers. And I was 54/287 in my age division. Considering how nothing felt like it was clicking or going well in all of my training leading up to the day…this result couldn’t have been more welcome. In the end…trust yourself…trust your abilities. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t ready or that you can’t do it. Prove them wrong. Chase your dreams!

I will always love the Indy Monumental Marathon! So proud to represent it this year as an ambassador!


Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (October 16, 2021)

Me crossing the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Race: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 16, 2021

Time: 1:41:09

I finally returned to an in-person half marathon – and it only seems fitting that it was a local one! Hello, Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. This year, however, the race looked a little different. Because of COVID, the course and the swag that the race offered.

Packet pickup remained the same…being held at Slugger Field. This was a good, open space that allowed people to not be crowded in on each other. That was nice. I wore a mask as it was an indoor space (despite having just been boosted earlier that week), but most people opted not to. And, for the first time in the history of EVER when attending this packet pickup…I had to stand in a line. Normally I can walk right up to a table and get my bib number, wristband, and shirt. It was fine. I actually knew a few of the ladies working the tables, so it was fun to catch up while they strapped a wristband for the after party on me and assigned a bib number.

This is where my first complaint came. I thought the second line at the merchandise tent was to pick up the race t-shirt. Except it turns out that this time, we were only getting a UBHM buff in lieu of a shirt. Shirts were there to purchase, with the option of getting a phrase screen printed onto it. But the line was long and I didn’t want to pay extra for a race shirt. I usually LOVE the shirts for this race…and I did love a few of the options hanging up, but not enough to pay extra. I know some people don’t want the shirt and medal these days…but they are both things I look forward to.

Start line smiles!

Another big change was the race course. Normally this race traverses downtown Louisville and takes you into the beautiful (and hella hilly) Cherokee Park, before returning you to downtown. This year, the course ran over the Big 4 Pedestrian Bridge and into Jeffersonville, Indiana. You ran down to the Falls of the Ohio, before turning and heading back to the bridge and coming back across into Kentucky. It was fine…but those last couple miles winding up and down the waterfront were terrible. And it was a super windy day, so being right on that water with the wind wasn’t fantastic either. But I’ll get into that a little later.

Race morning. I woke up early enough to get dressed and eat something ahead of time. Then I got on my Peloton app, and did a stretch with Becs Gentry and a 5 min pre-run warm up with Adrian Williams. Then I mixed up my Maurten 160, brushed my teeth, let my roommate pin my bib on, and we were out the door and on our way across the bridge to Louisville.

Parking was super easy, as there were many options that were near both the start and the finish. Once we were parked, we stayed in the car for a few minutes before heading out, as I had to meet both the local She Runs This Town (SRTT) and BibRave people for pre-race photos. It was so much fun standing around and meeting and talking to friends and new friends. It’s one of my favorite parts of race day. And it was then that I realized…

I really missed race days.

SRTT Louisville Chapter

Once photos were taken, race start was getting close, so everyone scattered to get into the corrals. I walked the long way around (I was anticipating a 1:45 finish)…and went into the corrals from the back instead of the front. Whoops. But it was fine. People were spaced out enough that moving up in the corrals wasn’t anything like 2019…where I literally had to elbow my way up to a spot further up in the corrals. So, that was nice. The Churchill Downs bugle player played the national anthem and soon…the starting pistol was fired…and we were off.

The start of the race is pretty fast. It headed straight down East Main Street, taking you out of the downtown area toward the waterfront and to the pedestrian bridge. You are heading into Mile 2 when you make the spiral climb up the ramp on the Kentucky side of the bridge. When you reach the top, it’s a straight shot across the river. The mile marker for Mile 2 was early on the bridge. I actually uncovered my watch because I had passed it and it had been longer than I expected to hear my watch beep. But the rest of the mile markers were pretty spot on.

The Indiana part of the run was pretty straight forward, and really damn flat. YAY! In fact, a good chunk of it ran the 5K course I did awhile back (which I didn’t blog about…but here we are…). You basically turn and run parallel to the Ohio River until you turned around at the Falls of the Ohio visitor’s center. It was somewhere heading out that way that the leader of the race passed going the opposite direction. He had so much space behind him. Legit…daylight. I said something to the effect aloud to the people running near me, but they didn’t seem to care about my statement. LOL! When the loop to turn around happened, the fun really started. It was at this point that, with the sun blinding me, I got SO MANY shoutouts from my friends who were racing and heading to the turn around point. I couldn’t see any of them, but I waved and woooooo’d accordingly when someone shouted my name. It was such a highlight of this race. We looped through a different section of Jeffersonville and then headed back to the bridge. This was Mile 6. I fueled here and started up the ramp to the bridge once again.

BibRave Pros at the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Crossing the bridge was easy. You can’t get flatter than a pedestrian bridge. The legs recovered from the climb and settled in. I was looking forward to the descent down the winding side back into Louisville. Because if you know anything about me…it’s that I love downhills. Downhill is my favorite speed. The small crowd at the bottom of said descent was amazing. Someone shouted out my bib number and told me I looked strong. Over half the race was done. Settle in. Run strong.

From here, ran up a road that was mostly open to traffic, save for a lane made with cones for the runners to run safely in. We turned and headed back on a road we had previously run heading to the walking bridge. But this time we turned and made our way up a small hill to run past Lynn Family Stadium, home of Louisville’s two professional soccer teams, Louisville City FC, and Racing Louisville FC. I’m a season ticket holder…that’s a second home, it seems.

The next stretch of race was hopping onto the Beargrass Creek Greenway. This was a shaded section on a narrower path. It had been closed for awhile, so I hadn’t run it in YEARS. But I remember enjoying it in the summer because of all the shade on those hot morning runs. You come out of there and turn right and head down a straightaway toward Mile 10. I fueled one last time before the final 5K push to the finish.

This is where it got a little crazy. The last 3 miles were on the waterfront…but this made for some confusing turns (they were labeled with yellow arrow things on the ground, but legit, some ladies just ahead of me almost went the wrong way). And no one was at the point to really direct. But, we all got it sorted and started along the path. In these last 3.1 miles, there were a lot of 90 degree turns and even some loose gravely, bumpy path. That being said, the local SRTT (She Runs This Town) chapter had some ladies at the last water stop that created a fun scream tunnel as we all came into the last 1.5 miles. That was a much-needed and appreciated pick-me-up that late in the race. I still felt amazing…so, I plugged into the final miles and before I knew it, we were turning to run up a hill and start down the straightaway to 4th Street, where the finish line was.

Strong start at the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

The crowed at and near the finish was great…and I crossed feeling amazing still and smiling. I smiled so much, because I have missed doing endurance runs. I realized, as I saw the clock though, that I was much faster than my marathon pace, and had kept it pretty steady on the final half of the run. A nice volunteer put a medal around my neck and I went to meet Cathy, grab a Kind Bar and some water and head to the after party.

The band hadn’t started just yet, but there was pizza and beer. I can’t have either, so I gifted mine to Cathy. She gladly enjoyed both of those things. We headed back to see about getting my medal engraved and discovered that I had come in 2nd in my Age Group. I rarely place in races that are half marathon or marathon distances. So that was a nice surprise. With the medal engraved, I went to stand in line to buy a t-shirt, but then opted against it.

I was getting chilled just standing there in the wind, and we had some errands to run, so we left as the after party was starting up to hike back to the car. Honestly, the years I have done this and stuck around to enjoy more of the after party…it’s a fun time. It’s a great time to meet back up with friends post-race.

In the past, age group winners were given a custom bourbon-themed award. This year they were given a voucher to get something from the t-shirt booth. Since I didn’t stick around, I never got mine and I was going to say no one reached out to me about it. But this week, I received an email from the UBHM asking those who weren’t able to stick around for the awards to email them and they would get us in touch with someone at the company. They did that, and I am currently still waiting to hear back from Fine Design (the company that did the merchandise). So we shall see if I hear back.

So, my official results of the 2021 Urban Bourbon Half Marathon are that I finished in I finished in 1:41:09. I was definitely running it faster than my coach wanted me to, but I never felt like I was pushing it. I felt like it was comfortable and occasionally comfortably hard. Maybe I am fitter than my summer running made me believe. I was 146/1755 finishers overall. I was the 31/929 female finishers. And I was 2/251 in my age division (which went 41-50 and not the standard 5 years). Very proud of the way I ran this race and how I felt the entire time. I dialed in my nutrition and hydration and felt amazing the entire time. While I am kind of over the Kentucky/Indiana combo races, I get why I had to happen that way this year. I hope to return to a more traditional course next year. Fingers crossed.

Product Review: Buff® DryFlx+ Collection

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!

BUFF DryFlx+ Headband & Neckwarmer

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:

Randy | Janell | Michelle | Jaimelee | Jessica

If you’re interested in BUFF® products, feel free to go to https://buffusa.com/bibrave: Sign up for BUFF® newsletter & get 15% OFF.

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

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

Race: 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon

Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 1, 2020

Time: 1:50:02

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

But…I think they somehow made it hillier.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

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

But we were doing this thing.

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

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When you cut your garbage bag wrong…

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

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

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Pacer Meb Keflezighi

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

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

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Alaphine Tuliamuk taking selfies at the start line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lunch at Walburgers!

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

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

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

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Product Review: Knockaround Fast Lane Sunglasses

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!

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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.

IMG_3564(1)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.

4B96F23B-C583-44C0-AA9A-C012C4AAB1D6BUT…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.

082410AA-AEE2-4152-9817-408CAD85B32FAs 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!ED45A947-333E-4412-84CB-50D6CAED3D5A

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:

Montana / Deborah / Christine / Mike

Product Review: Nabee Compression Socks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angie / Ashley /

Review: Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve

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!

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Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve

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.

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Wore my Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve in the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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%.

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Can’t even see the Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve under my tights.

Want to try Body Helix yourself?  Use code “BH15BR” to save 15% on everything on http://bodyhelix.com/

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

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

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 9, 2019

Time: 3:35:13

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

BOSTON QUALIFIED!

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

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Day Before The Race Breakfast!

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

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

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

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Expo Time!

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

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Cathy and Me at the Expo with our bib numbers!

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

 

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

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Found my name!

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

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

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

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Packing up the hydration pack on race morning!

 

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

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

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

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

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MRTT/SRTT

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

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

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

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

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3:35 Pace Group taking off!

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

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

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Cathy got a 5K PR at the Monumental 5K

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

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

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

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Finish line in sight! I was ugly crying already!

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

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Official Results

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

Keep Fighting.

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

Keep Fighting.

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

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

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

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I have THE BEST friends!

FLY!

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

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

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A shower and some coffee!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #20

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

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

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

It’s race week…let’s go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

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

Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Finished in 3:35:13.

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

Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #19

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

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

So let’s do this thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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