Bondi Band Ambassador & Discount Code

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Bondi Band Social Media Ambassador

So, it’s official.  I am a Bondi Band Social Media Brand Ambassador.  What does this mean?  This means that I am officially your Bondi Band go-to girl.

Are you a Bondi Band fan?  They are the only headbands I have ever worn as a runner.  And I wear them running, spinning, and to the gym.  I am never working out without one on my head.  I think the people at the YMCA enjoy seeing what message I’m carrying with me that day when I turn up.  It usually brings a smile, nevertheless.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bondi Band, let me tell you a little bit about them.  Bondi Band was founded by Rebecca Buckley, who, at one time, searched high and low searching for a fun, fashionable headband that did not slip while she was working out.  She was unsuccessful in her search.  So, while vacationing in Australia, she was inspired to create her own line.  Upon returning from her trip, Buckley began to experiment and eventually developed the perfect design for a headband that would incorporate elements of both function and fashion.  She began to sew Bondi Band headbands by hand, in her hometown of Lewiston, Maine in February 2005.

Bondi Band initially began with only headbands, but have since expanded to a full line of headwear, compression products, and accessories in comfortable, colorful options that will fit every lifestyle and personality for active women, men and children.  Not only does Bondi Band offer functional unisex, high quality, American made products, but Bondi Band donates 10% of all profits to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

If you have been contemplating headbands, headwear, accessories, and/or compression for your runs and workouts, I would be the first to throw a Bondi Band at you.  If you are already a fan…YAY!!  If you have yet to try them…here’s your choice.

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Bondi Band Grab Bag Offer

As a Brand Ambassador for Bondi Band, I am going to share with you my discount code to get you 10% off of your online order.  Go to Bondi Band’s Web site, purchase and/or create your favorite Bondi Bands (yes, you can customize the products), and when you checkout, enter the code: CELIATHLETE

That magic code will knock 10% off your order.  YAY!!  We all love savings.  And…that’s not all.  While supplies last, Bondi Band is offering a Grab Bag, which gives you 10 items for $20.  You can use my discount code on that too!

So…head over there and remember to use: CELIATHLETE when you check-out!!

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I am never without my Bondi Bands when I run…race…spin…workout…

OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (May 7, 2016)

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Me heading into the finish line of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon

Race: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: May 7, 2016

Time: 1:39:28

Four years ago…four years ago I ran the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon as my second half marathon EVER!  I was fortunate enough to have a friend in my corral, a local runner I met with the (now gone) Blue Mile Monday running group.  It was a fantastic race that day.  Hot.  Steamy.  Sweaty.  But fantastic.  It was such a spirited, fun, and well-run race and expo…that I vowed to go back.

And then…it didn’t happen.

Until, I decided to run it again.  It was a really random, really quick decision to run it.  And I didn’t really shout about it because, as I’ve said before, every day is different for me.  I never know when there is a good day ahead or a bad day…so, I haven’t really been talking about races I’m doing just in case it’s not a good day and I don’t actually run it.  It’s hard coming back from injury, but I’m being cautious and smart about it and I’m not pushing it.  So…I left work early on Friday and trekked up to Indianapolis, Indiana to get checked into the hotel.  I always stay at the JW Marriott when in Indy for a run, when it’s convenient.  It was for this race.  The start line was right out the door!  HA!  Besides, I’m a princess…I like to stay in nice places.  (Joking…sort of…).  After checking in and dropping off bags in the room, Cathy and I headed down to the race expo to pick up my race bib.  This was a little bit of a hike through the convention center, but it’s a hell of an expo and worth the hike.

We noted the Starbucks in the hotel and said we’d stop and get a banana for me for in the morning on our way back.  Once we got into the expo, we were handed drawstring backpacks and we immediately headed to the Packet Pickup area.  Since I registered later, my number was pretty high up there, which meant hiking further back in the line of windows with bib numbers.  I found my spot and went up to the window.  They said to have your photo ID ready, but the guy didn’t even ask for it.  He did find my bib and got my shirt…tucked it into a Blue Mile bag and handed it over to me.  YAY!  Officially ready to run.  But first…shopping…

…and the official merchandise store always has some goodies to offer.  Cathy went and bought an official Finisher shirt for me (I can’t buy that…bad mojo).  And I ogled a few other things, but opted to leave it with just the shirt.  So…we began a quick weave through the expo.  This is where I fell in love with the Ocean Spray PACt Cranberry Extract Water.  I am forever having this stuff in my fridge.  HOLY COW!!  SO GOOD!!  We scooted past the Clif Bar place, which had a line due to all the samples they were handing out.  And then…

…I signed up for another race.  It was one I was considering anyway…and with the expo discount and the promise of a free hat…I ended up going ahead and signing up.  Somebody stop me!!  LOL!!  This one isn’t too far away, so I  feel confident I’ll be in good form to run it.

We then found the BondiBand booth…and…oh yeah…there were purchases made.  I ended up getting 3 more…because…I can’t have too many of these.  I wear them on runs, at the gym, and in spin classes…so, yeah…they get used.  I still own the very first BondiBand I ever had…my 13.1 one that my friend, Heather Dillon, purchased for me at my first half marathon in Chicago back in 2011.  You might say that I am a fan…but I’m also a brand ambassador for them now too.  More on that once it’s officially official.  Anyway…more money spent and it was time to leave the expo to get to our dinner reservation.  We stopped for a moment to sign the banner wall at the exit.  Then, food.

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My Gluten Free Penne with Tomato Marinara and Vegetables from Osteria Pronto at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, IN

Now, my pre-race eats is always…ALWAYS…a gluten free pizza.  BUT…we couldn’t find a close spot that offered that near where we were in Indianapolis.  And we really didn’t want to leave the area…so Cathy found out that the hotel restaurant, Osteria Pronto, offered gluten-free pasta on their menu.  I normally don’t do pasta as I am a pasta freak and will EAT ALL THE PASTA…and sometimes it’s too much and I still have it with me in the morning.  But, you gotta do what you gotta do.  Turns out, this place had their act together. The chef and servers were very knowledgeable about gluten-free dining and when they brought out Cathy’s bread…they brought me out some toasted Udi’s Gluten Free Sandwich Bread to have with either butter (no dairy for me) or olive oil.  It was a nice gesture.  The chef threw together a pasta dish for me using the Gluten Free Penne and their amazing red marinara and some fresh vegetables (onion, red pepper, broccolini).  Cathy got their signature pasta dish – Straw & Hay (chive noodle & egg noodle, lardo, English peas, garlic cream, pine nuts, and topped with a soft boiled egg).  I didn’t think I was that hungry…but as I said, I love pasta…and I devoured mine.  LOL!!

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Just hanging out with my NUUN guys!  I loved them.  I really loved them.

After dinner, we returned to the expo to finish up.  Starbucks was closed…so Cathy said she’d get a banana in the morning for me. We revisited the entire expo, walking through the slightly less chaotic area this time.  Cathy bought another BondiBand for spin class, and the lady working there gave us the discount so she only paid $5 for it, since we previously bought some that day.  YAY!!  I found the NUUN table and got to talking with the cute guys behind there.  I told them I was a #nuunambassador and we got a picture together.  LOVE!!  It was fun.  My new favorite flavor…the Mango Orange.  WOW!  And…then I signed up for ANOTHER race.  Seriously…stop me.  This one is in the fall…and they gave me a free wine glass and an expo discount for signing up.  Cathy was given a race shirt because they were so impressed with what a great running fan she is and everything she does for not just me…but other runners.  SUPER awesome.  We wrapped up the expo and hiked outside to Circle Center to hit up Rocket Fizz.  We ended up purchasing a Diet Root Beer for Cathy and a Nut Goodie Bar to split for dessert.  I am a firm believer in dessert.  And then…it was back to the hotel.  I talked to my sister on the phone on the way back…and I even stood at the window in my room and watched an ongoing baseball game…which was totally awesome.  Cathy went to go shower and I needed to do my nightly foam rolling.

I had made a promise to my good friend, Deana, after the Derby Mini, that I would dedicate the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon to her.  I kept my word, and in Sharpie, on my race bib, I wrote: FOR DEANA!  I texted her a picture and we chatted for a little while…as I watched some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (seriously…this is a tradition!) and did more foam rolling and used THE STICK on my hip and hip adductor.  After that…it was time to set the alarms for the morning and get some sleep.

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The final race day outfit…I was told to NOT wear the tank…I am glad I didn’t.

My first alarm went off and I got up, turned it off, took my medicine, used the bathroom, and then…went back to sleep.  My second alarm got me up at 5:30 am.  I grabbed my pile of race gear and headed into the bathroom to change and put on ALL THE SUNSCREEN.  Hey, I’m a pale, blonde, Irish girl…I burn easily.  And I had to slather it ALL OVER myself.  I wasn’t sure at this point if I was running in just a sports bra or if I was throwing on a tank, but I acted as though I’d do the bra only.  Once I had my Injinji socks on and my Newtons laced up, I put my hair up in my signature pigtails, dressing them up with red and black hair extensions.  And the BondiBand was a pink and black checkered one I found at the expo.  It was the closest thing to a checkered flag I could find.  I went back into the hotel room and made sure Cathy got up out of her bed.  Her mission was to go get me a banana from Starbucks.  They were giving them away for free, but it was a madhouse, and she was gone long enough that I managed to eat my cereal, do all my PT stretches and turn on the news/weather.  When she got back, she changed, ate a protein bar, and drank her Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher.  At about 6:45 a.m., I had my fuel belt on and was heading out the door.  Cathy realized she forgot the sign, so back to the hotel room to snag it.  And then, we were on our way, heading down the elevator and out the door.

My friend, Julia, was running in the 5K, which was going off at 7 a.m.  I was hoping to find her, but, there were SO many people that I never did see her.  I looked and waited.  And never saw her go by.  DANG IT!  Cathy thought she heard the announcer say something about corrals closing and said that it involved mine, so now we were walking the line down to the split in the corrals.  She found an information guy and asked and he aid that my corral was going to open as soon as the 5K runners were though…since I was in C.  So…Cathy made me panic for no reason.  She does this a lot at races.  Seriously.  *deep breath*  We walked back up and I downed my banana and I went to get into Corral C.  I had a moment to do my dynamic warmup moves before Cathy said she needed to stake out her spot at the other side of the start…so she made me take off my NYC Marathon zip I had put on to keep warm.  I parted with it, and was surprised that it wasn’t too chilly at the start.  A little, but not enough that I was shivering.  The National Anthem was sung BEAUTIFULLY and the wheelchair racers were sent off by Meb.  Meb was there running from the back of the mini to the front…I never got to see him.  Dang it.  In fact, I finished the race before he even started.  I did beat his time though, LOL!

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Meb waiving the green flag up in the bucket. I didn’t even see him. I suck.

The corrals moved up and the first wave was prepared to be sent off…by Meb…at 7:33 am.  The horn sounded, Meb waived the green flag, and we were off.  I crossed the start line, started my Garmin, and just went with the crowd.  I saw Cathy and gave a wave and headed toward the Indianapolis Zoo.  I didn’t see any animals out this year…but it is a nice way to start the race regardless.  That zoo is gorgeous!  This was a quick pace for me, though it didn’t feel it at the time.  My first mile was 6:57, apparently, but I dropped back after that.  Let me say, I am very glad that Cathy told me to go with the bra top only and not the tank.  The humidity was very real at Mile 2…and it was still early.  So, yeah…that worked out wonderfully.  I would have died with fabric on me.  As it was, my legs felt heavy and I was wondering how well this race was actually going to play out for me.  But, I pressed on, hoping I’d find my stride and fall into a comfortable pace and hold it.  Mile 2 and 3 are run on W. Michigan Street.  In fact, much of the first 5 miles of the race is through residential and such areas…but always with spectators and people there to cheer, some more populated than others.  Mile 5 is Main Street…and a banner is spread over the top welcoming runners to Main Street.  There are restaurants and the like out here and the crowd was loud and proud.  It was a nice way to make the turn toward the Speedway itself.  You enter the speedway via a steep downhill slope, and then back up.  Inside, you hit Mile 6 and the run around the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on.  This is the part I always look forward to.  This was also the slowest miles of the race for me.  I think it’s because the sun had come out, the humidity was high, and there was no shade out on that track.  But I was running ON THE TRACK of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  How cool is that.  They have 2 pit stops (water stations) inside the track, but I carry my own water and fuel with me, so I never make use of these.  I thought about it though, with the humid air.  I was sweating!  The best part…the highlight, is hitting that brickyard.  I flashed devil horns to the photographers and carried on.  You exit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just before Mile 9.  From here…it’s 4 miles to the finish.

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Me leaving the start gate of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon

4 miles is a morning run for me.  So, despite feeling like I was really slowing down, I was super happy with how I was plugging along.  I kept saying, “This is for Deana…and Deana doesn’t quit!”  Or “Be relentless…like Deana.”  Mantras really help.  LOL!  I wasn’t about to quit…when it’s humid and hot, you just slow it down and run comfortable.  Miles 9-11 wind you back toward downtown, and when you get to Mile 12, you see the checkered flags, and hear the crowds, and you just run.  You just run because you’re almost done.  You just run because you are heading to that finish line. You just…do what you’ve been doing all along, but with feeling and spirit and maybe jazz hands.  Or maybe not.  Jazz hands might be a little much…

I love this part of the race.  The energy is amazing.  I could hear the finish line announcer and I knew I was getting close.  My watch beeped long before the 13 mile marker (I was about .20 miles ahead of the mile markers), and I picked it up some more.  I gritted my teeth, dug deep, and pushed it.  I saw Cathy to my right with my sign and just screaming at me.  And I noticed, as I neared the finish, that the clock time said 1:39:45…I crossed.  I just turned out another half marathon (13.29 miles on my Garmin)…and was only 1:07 minutes off of breaking my PR set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014.  I felt amazing.  And accomplished.  And…yeah!!  I was ushered toward the medals and was handed one, which I eased over my head, somehow not spilling any water in the open water bottle I was holding.  I’m just that talented, folks.

I was given a plastic bag to put water, banana, fruits, energy bars, and whatever else into as I walked through the runner recovery area.  As I got a Dole cup, one of the Dole employees said he loved my outfit and smile and asked if he could get my picture with the Dole cup.  So, I agreed.  If I turn up on any Dole advertisements, let me know.  I am almost famous, LOL!  Afterwards, I headed into the After Party area where I was to find Cathy in the family reunion zone around the end of the alphabet.  I spotted her and rushed over…and she gave me my official time!!  I was SO happy with it.  Impressed because I felt like I was running through tar at some points…no joke.  But this was 2 minutes better than Derby…which was 2 minutes better than NYC.  Nice pattern there, yes?  LOL!

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Getting my post-race massage.  I obviously approve, LOL!!

I changed out of my shoes and put on some recovery shoes.  I snagged some chocolate milk for Cathy and then headed into the massage tent.  I NEVER miss a post-race massage whenever possible.  Seriously, this just helps me with my recovery.  The lines weren’t long yet either.  The nice lady who gave me my massage was awesome.  It was, seriously, one of the best post-race massages I have ever had.  She asked me a lot about running and how I got into it…and she really stretched me out and worked my muscles.  She told me she loves working on people where she can feel their muscles and see how they move when she works on them.  GO ME!  Afterwards, I was ready to head back to the hotel to shower, so Cathy and I headed that way.

The hotel was handing out cold towels to runners so we could wipe our faces and get refreshed, which was SO awesome.  Once we got up to the room, I went to go shower and Cathy packed up everything.  Once I was clean and dressed, she called down to have the car brought out by valet and I downed some water and played on my phone for a moment.  We finally went down just as our car came around.  Packed up…we hit the road to go to Target and then meet up with our friend, Greg, at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  A celebrator Gluten Free Veggie Baja Burger (no cheese or sour cream) was in order.  I got mine with the gluten free sweet potato fries.  I devoured it.  No joke.  We did a bit of shopping after lunch, hitting up Half Price Books…Strange Brew for coffee…and the outlets in Edinburgh, before heading home.

Half Marathon #18…done.  And it’s my third fastest one to date!!

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Half Marathon #3 this year…done…Half Marathon #18 in my running career…done…3rd fastest half marathon time…achieved. Call it a comeback!

So, the official results of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is that I finished in 1:39:28.  I was 889/24,768 finishers overall.  I was 123/13,487 female finishers.  And I was 21/1,939 finishers in my division!  I am so happy with this result and I texted Deana and she was so honored and happy.  It was a wonderful race, and now I remember why I loved it so much.  I hope not to wait another 4 years to return to this one.  That being said, I’m already in talks with Deana about some upcoming stuff for next year, which I’m super excited about.  I’m sure I’ll discuss that when it all falls into place.  I am certain my endurance will continue to get better.  Half marathon distances used to feel so easy for me, but I’ve been struggling in the last few miles as of late.  But this one surprised me, because I thought I had really slowed down, but I never once hit a sub 7:45 minute pace.  At all.  WOW!!  And to think I slowed down to a pace that felt “easy.”  At least my fitness has been kept up over the span of time I was out with injury last year.  I credit that to my spin classes, regular gym visits, and sheer determination on my part.

Deana…I ran hard and strong for you…I’m glad this race turned out the way it did.  Thank you for being an inspiration, a badass, and truly, an amazing friend.

The Machine that Just Changed My Life: The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill

M320_AlterGOH. MY. GOD.

Seriously…

OH. MY. GOD!!

My running life…as I know it…was changed today.  Changed in such a good way.  In a confidence boosting…pain-free…really freakin’ cool way today.

Over a year ago, just before heading out to my first (and currently only) Boston Marathon, I was diagnosed with a small tear in my right hip labrum.  For over a year, I have been working hard with physical therapists and at home to alleviate the pain and rework my body mechanics to get me back out on the road…safely…without other problems popping up like the stress fracture in my leg that I got last year three days before I was to leave for Hawaii to run a marathon.  I had one hell of a bad year last year.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know my orthopedic doctor opted not to consider me for surgery as my labrum tear is small and in, naturally, a strange spot.  This meant physical therapy, which, for the longest time, I didn’t think was doing one single damn thing.  Following the stress fracture, I told my doctor that I was DONE!  D-O-N-E.  Something had to be done because I was a long distance runner.  I must run.  And I currently was still not able to without pain.  Lots and lots of pain.

This was when he sent me back to physical therapy…initially for dry needling.  The therapist at Kort Physical Therapy, Steven, who does the dry needling talked to me about the issues I was having and ran me through some basic strength tests.  I had none.  I had been forced into a year off…of course I was weak.  Since dry needling didn’t give me any relief prior to Boston, he said he was opting not to do it on me again…and instead introduced me to the amazing Katie, the new running specialist they hired.  My life in physical therapy truly started there…and every week…every time I saw her, I was getting stronger and reworking my body mechanics to make it possible for me to run.  I ran on the treadmill…I changed my form…I did exercises for balance and strength at home…I went out in the snow, rain, and cold weather to do the warm-ups and the plyometric exercises she assigned me.  I still do them to this very day, even though I never want to because they do take up to 30 minutes to complete.  I know they are important…so I take the time to do them…even on the rainy days…and the days I just want to go out my door and run.  And soon, I was back out and running.  Slowly.  And not always pain-free.  But I was out there, being cautious, but working on endurance, building up mileage, getting stronger by running hills…even if I hurt for three days afterwards…I did it.  And the reward has been being able to run and even race again…virtually (not always completely) pain free.

But something happened very recently at Kort Physical Therapy…

You see, my physical therapist office just acquired an AlterG Treadmill!!  I have been ogling and wanting to try an AlterG for AGES!  I follow a lot of professional runners, and they utilize the AlterG for recovery and while they are injured.  And, trust me, when I was down and out of the count last year…how I longed to see if something like this would help me out.

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Me running in the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill

Today, I was given the opportunity to try it out.  I had spotted this amazing machine at the expo for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini Marathon.  I also spotted  my physical therapist in it. HA!  So, she contacted me about coming in and testing it out.  Today was an ideal day to do so…so at 9 am…I left work in my running clothes and turned up at my my physical therapist office for the first time in months…and…was greeted by Katie, where we discussed races and plans…and then…she got me ready to try out the AlterG.

My training plan had me at 3 miles today, so instead of running them in the cold drizzle this morning, I was able to do them on the AlterG.  So, the first thing we had to do was pick out the size of shorts I would have to wear.  The shorts have a lip on them (like a tutu), that has a zipper all around it.  These shorts are similar to compression shorts that athletes wear and are actually specially designed to help create an airtight environment around the lower body.  Then, you step up onto the machine platform and then into the “cockpit.”  From there, the little cockpit is raised up to about waist level and you get zipped in.  The machine then ready to be used.  Stand on the surface of the treadmill belt and allow the system to weigh you prior to exercise.  Your FULL body weight is necessary here.  Once the calibration is complete, the pressure in the bag around your lower body will begin to pressurize.  The weight control starts at 100%…Katie took me down to 70% and got me started.  I went right up to a 8:34 minute mile (7.0 mph) and let that go for about 5 minutes…just getting used to the equipment.  Then I bumped it to an 8:00 mile (7.5 mph)…and soon I was up to a 7:30 minute mile (8.0 mph)…and then it was a 7:19 minute mile (8.2 mph)…and then a 7:03 minute mile (8.5 mph)…and for the last 5 minutes…I rocked out a 6:53 minute mile (aka: the fastest I have run a mile…or 8.7 mph) and it felt amazing.  No pain.  No twinges.  Nothing.  It felt easy…but I was totally working up a sweat at the same time.  This was, honestly, life changing to me.  Here I was, running along at a super-fast clip for these little legs and I felt unstoppable.  I felt like Meb at the Boston Marathon in 2014.  I could have run all day at that speed and felt amazing at the end of it.  My hip, my leg, my knee…nothing twinged at any point, even when I was really pushing the pace.  As my session came to an end, I slowed down the speed…got down to a walk…and then slowly boosted the pressure back up to 100% body weight.  My physical therapist said this was important because if you go from the anti-gravity bubble to land without readjusting the pressure…you basically get sea legs.  Good to know.

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8.7 mph feeling easy and amazing!

So, how does it work?  The AlterG’s technology was originally conceived as part of an effort to help NASA’s astronauts maintain fitness during prolonged space flight.  The machine basically uses an advanced pressure regulation system with a treadmill to provide the most effective and comfortable body weight support system available today.  This means all the work and reduced impact to your body and joints.  WINNING.  All that I had heard about the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill lived up to the reputation.  I am all set to invest into the packages that they are offering to spend time on this treadmill.  Oh yeah…its happening.  Because this just made it more possible for me to train without putting all the pressure that niggles at my hip injury (which isn’t going to heal…ever) and/or causing other injuries in the process.  Especially, for me, speed work.  Speed work is always where I get hurt thanks to my tilted pelvis and tight hamstrings.  YAY body mechanics.

Anyway, I was so happy to be able to run 3 miles in this machine today.  With some upcoming races in the works, it was nice to push myself without all the pounding on my joints and body.  Kort is doing amazing things with this new technology.  This is going to help so many people and athletes…and it’s here…in New Albany, Indiana.

Have any of you ever tried out or run in an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill??  I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try.  I swear…it will change your running life forever.  Especially you injury prone (um…me!)…because this machine will change the way you tackle some training forever.

I’m already looking forward to scheduling another session on the AlterG.

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon – Louisville, KY (April 30, 2016)

Me running toward the finish line of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (in the rain, but still smiling) - Louisville, KY
Me running toward the finish line of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (in the rain, but still smiling) – Louisville, KY

Race: Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: April 30, 2016

Time: 1:41:18

You know…the week and morning I had leading into the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon was one that pointed to not running it at all.  On Monday morning, I had an unexpected Great Cat Chase with my neighbors cat, which I was catsitting while they were at the beach.  I love this cat, but that morning I was running late to my spin class and she slipped outside and just took off.  I ended up having to wake my roommate up to find her while I went to spin.  Since she is not my cat, I felt horrible not having her back inside while I wasn’t home.  She behaved the rest of the week though and we had good purr sessions.  Tuesday…my coffeemaker died.  MY COFFEEMAKER DIED!!  Do you know what that means??!!  It meant that I had NO caffeine fix that morning.  And after hitting up the gym, I begged my roommate for some Starbucks.  She came through, with a tall sugar free cafe misto with coconut milk for me.  She saved the day.  Then…on Thursday…my Garmin died. I woke up to it having a blank screen and not turning on.  I went on my 4 mile run sans-Garmin running watch.  I was feeling pretty hated by technology at that point.  One of the race ambassadors, and a friend of mine, Melissa, said that she had purchased an extra Garmin watch and that I could have it if I wanted it.  OMG…that was the sweetest thing anyone has done for me.

Anyway…that was leading up to race day.  I went to the race expo on Thursday night, and one of the first people I see is sweet Melissa.  I gave her a hug and we lamented about the weather. I joked about carrying shampoo and body wash with me so as I head into the finish, I could just lather up, wash down, and look and smell immaculate at the finish.  After chatting and wishing each other luck, I went over to the table to pick up my race packet.

The infamous receiving the race bib shot at the expo. We were going to pose, but Cathy took the picture already!
Picking up my race bib from the nice volunteers at the expo!  This was supposed to be posed, but Cathy snapped it candid.

This was funny…kinda.  I listed off my bib number (937A) to the lady at the table.  She asked for my ID…which I had to fish out.  Cathy was poised with her camera to take a picture, which the nice volunteer noticed.  So she had a plan to pose and everything, but before we could carry out the plan, Ninja Cathy already snapped the photo.  The lady asked if she was ready to take the shot and Cathy said, “I already did.” We all laughed a little.  I happily took my bib and the big plastic bag of stuff (including a full box of Cold-Eez) and went to retrieve the garishly bright yellow race shirt.  I love bright shirts.  What I don’t love on this shirt is the actual design.  I loved the map route on the medal this year, but it didn’t transfer well over to the screen print on the shirt.  Ah well.  It’s another race/running shirt to add to my already full closet.  I’ll take it.  After that, we walked through the various booths at the expo.  I was on the hunt for a Garmin at this point…but no one had any.  I did purchase some new Bondi Bands (YAY!) and got to see my friend Daniel working at one of the booths.  He was handing out free magnet things and I went to get one and he said, “Except for you…you have to pay for yours.”  I love my friends.  I also ran into my physical therapist, Katie, who was working an Alter-G treadmill.  AH.  I want to get on one of these SO bad.  Needless to say, she messaged me after the race on Saturday morning and said I should come into the office and try it out.  I’m SO taking her up on that.  We wrapped up the expo and headed home for a late dinner and to settle in before the craziness of Friday at the office.

My Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May's Sweet Cafe! Yes...it was as delicious as it looks.
My delicious Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe

Friday night is the night before the race…so I pulled a Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe out of my freezer.  I don’t risk anything the night before a race.  I knew I’d be fine eating this.  And it was delicious and amazing.  I rested that night, foam rolled, and went to bed around 9:30 p.m.  I set an early alarm to get up and do all my PT exercises, my dynamic warm-up and to get an early start on my mileage.

I was scheduled for 16 miles this weekend.  Which was one reason I signed up for the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon.  Why not run 13 miles with people and get a medal at the end of it, right?  That being said, I went out that morning before the race and ran a slow, steady 3 miles.  I came back home, ate my breakfast and got dressed into some (unflattering) running shorts, a light singlet, and my compression sleeves and running socks (I went with the Injinji toe socks to help prevent any blistering should rain kick in as scheduled).  I had debated wearing my favorite running shoes (my Newton Distance III) and opted to wear my Nike Free RN Distance shoes, which I have never worn over a 10K mileage, but I’d rather let rain destroy those than my Newtons.  So…I figured this would be interesting regardless.  That being said and done, I brushed my teeth gathered up my change of clothes for afterwards, got all the running gear out and ready to go…and headed out the door.

This is me, trying not to stress as I hook on my hydration belt and get ready to book it to the start line since I was running VERY late to this race.
This is what a runner who is running late to a race looks like. I’m trying to walk and snap on my hydration belt.

No joke, my roommate and I were down the road at a stoplight and I went…”I forgot to put on my wings anklet my mom gave me.”  So…this is a thing now.  Ever since I’ve returned to running, when I race, this anklet has been around my ankle.  My mom got it for me because she said, “You don’t run, baby, you fly.”  So, when I was finally able to get back out there to run and race…this anklet has been kept on my ankle.  I feel like it’s carrying my mom’s words with me on each run.  So, yeah…we turned around and I dashed back inside and grabbed the anklet.  Back off we went…and I clasped the anklet on and felt better about life.  We got back down the road to the stop light and Cathy started cussing and went to turn around.  I was like, “WHAT??!”  And she said, “We forgot the most important thing for today…”  I was so confused.  “What?”  She said…”YOUR RACE BIB.”  Oh…my…God.  I felt like such a newbie, LOL!!  We turned around and went back to the apartment.  I was now a mess because we were running way late, still had to cross the bridge, still had to park, and had to get to the corrals for the start.  I was supposed to meet up with my dear friend, Deana, to run with her, so I was texting her and telling her I had to go back to my apartment a few times and was just NOW getting underway.  UGH.  I was planning on napping on the way to the race, but it was now 7 a.m., 30 minutes before the start, and I now had to eat my banana.  I was a mess now…feeling very stressed and rushed.  I do NOT like getting to a race in this state.  The parking garage Cathy wanted to park in was not accessible as they had closed the road getting to it.  So, now we’re driving in circles looking for a place to park.  She finally found a place…and paid only $5 to park there.  We were shocked the price was so cheap!  We got parked…and she grabbed the poncho I loaned her (it’s my super nice lined one from the NYC Marathon) and we headed down the stairs to the start.  I tossed my banana peel and started to walk swiftly toward the start line.  I got there with only moments to spare.  No joke.  We took a quick picture in front of the start line, I shed the poncho (it wasn’t raining yet) and ducked into my corral.  I was so stressed and upset that I wasn’t going to be able to find Deana…and just as I found a place to stand…the gun went off…and we were off and running.

The morning was humid, but I felt good as I crossed the start line.  I saw Cathy and gave a wave as I headed out for the first mile.  I was determined to just keep it comfortable because I wasn’t here to race this half marathon.  I was here just to run it.  I fell into pace and headed down the long stretch of Main Street.  It was crowded but I didn’t have to do too much bobbing and weaving, which is always appreciated.  I felt good and blasted through the first 2 miles, making an easy turn onto 20th street.  The pace remained relaxed for me, and I felt like I was pushing a little, but not hard, which I figured was fine for a girl who already ran 3 miles before the race.  The course was a little less populated by spectators due to the impending weather.  It was nice to have the scattered people out clapping and cheering though.  At least this is a beautiful city to run, right?

Me heading out for the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon - Louisville, KY
Me heading out for the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon – Louisville, KY

I ran the full  marathon back in 2014, pacing a friend of mine, and somehow forgot about much of this course.  For some reason, I thought we ran through Churchill Downs around mile 6, so I was really looking forward to that.  At Mile 6, I was heading down Magnolia Avenue and turning back onto 4th street. Churchill Downs was nowhere in sight.  I was so confused!!  But, I just kept going.  I knew my running buddy, Tammy, said she was going to be out near Churchill Downs, so I kept an eye out for her…because I was certain it was coming up.  Two miles later, I saw Tammy and made the turn to run into Churchill Downs.  8 miles down and now was one of my favorite parts of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini Marathon…the lap through Churchill Downs.  Down the tunnel and back up…and then it was time to run around the infield.  Normally horses are out, but the weather was gearing up to start raining and none of the horses were out running or training.  So, that was a bit of a bummer.  Ah well…then…back out through a different tunnel…up…and out of Churchill Downs.  Just up the way is the infamous split.  Mini Marathon runners go left…and Marathon runners go right (and start making their way to the hills of Iroquois Park).  I turned left this time…heading into the last 5 miles of the Mini Marathon.  9 miles down…and soon…came the rain.

I had been silently cussing the fact that I wore a hat (I hate wearing hats when I race) and my Nikes instead of my Newtons…until this point.  The rain, at first, was a light drizzle.  It actually felt good.  It was around Mile 10 when my friend Dan came up beside me and said “Hi” to me.  I asked how he was doing, and he said he was starting to hurt (he ran Boston), and I wished him luck as he pulled up ahead.  With the new front of weather, the hip started to get tight and I was feeling it now.  The rain picked up a little more as I made it to the 11th mile marker.  Two more to go.  That was my mantra.  Just two more to go.  The stretch of 3rd Street was lined with few spectators…up until we hit the downtown area.  Around Mile 12…the crowds picked up.  People were shouting encouragement.  And I made the turn onto Market Street.  I could hear the announcer at the finish line, so I knew I was getting close.  But that small stretch before making the turn toward the finish line felt like it went on forever.  But I finally made the turn and pushed it as much as my tired legs could manage to hit that finish line.  I saw Cathy just before crossing and she was just screaming.  I heard my name get announced and I threw up my arms in victory and was all smiles at the end.  My friend Daniel, who headed up the training program I went out with every Saturday, was there and he came over to high five me.  That was the best part of the finish, right there.  That high five meant the world to me.

I kept moving through the chute, got my Mylar wrap and my medal.  And then I continued on for some water. I got an official finish picture taken and then continued on toward the Family Reunion Area…where I spotted Cathy on the edge of the fence-line…just waiting for me.  I came up to her and she gave me my official time.  I took 2 minutes (somehow) off my NYC Half Marathon Time and actually turned in my 4th fastest half marathon.  I was shocked.  I passed off the snacks I snagged on the way to the meeting point and did a few leg swings to help loosen up the hip some.  After that, I was ready to get out of my wet clothes, get some coffee, and grab some actual food.  So we left and did just that.

16.17 miles done that day!!  And 13.1 of them were done in racing conditions.  I never really felt like I was racing though, which speaks highly of my fitness levels.  Given that I had to take a forced year off, this makes me feel really good as I come back from this hip thing.

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon...DONE! I was soaked...but so happy with the way things turned out.
Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon…DONE! – Louisville, KY

So, the official results of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon are that I finished in 1:41:18.  I was 468/10,422 finishers overall.  I was 95/6,209 female finishers.  And I was 20/972 finishers in my division.  I started this race under stress and a feeling more than a little flustered.  I didn’t get to meet up with Deana as planned, but she and I texted pretty much most of the afternoon after she finished.  We’re already making plans to train together for something bigger and better…and I couldn’t be more excited about this.  My pace slowed at the end of this run, I think due to the weather and the fact that I ran ahead of the race.  Next time, I’ll just count the race as my run.  Regardless, this was my 17th half marathon I’ve run and my 4th fastest.  Which…is super exciting given the challenges I have faced the past year.  I am starting to not only regain confidence, but an easy, fast pace while racing too!  I sort of needed this finish.  I only wish I had felt stronger at the end of it.

I want to thank everyone who I met through the Norton Training Group (those who were race ambassadors, helping to run the group, and the runners themselves)!!  I have some new running and, hopefully, lifelong friends who went through a rigorous training regimen and ran hills and did speed work and gave up their Saturday mornings just to train hard for this day.  To everyone who finished…and to those who couldn’t…I am proud of all of you and am so happy to have met you.

I can’t wait to run with you more.

Reflections of a Recovering Runner

comeback01Slow.  Weak.  Broken.  Scared.

These are the words that describe me when it comes to prepping for and going out for any sort of run.  Whether it’s a race or a training run…or just an easy fun run to shake off a bad day or a extended period sitting…or even just an excuse to stretch the legs.  I feel like my mind has to work overtime anymore for fear of, frankly, damaging myself again.

Where once I would have used words like…Confident.  Strong.  Fast.  Free…to describe myself as a runner, I can’t seem to see that anymore in my running, my reflection, my ability.

Every run…is a mental and physical struggle for me.  I have to think about everything and still attempt to run…well.

Note the phrasing…attempt to run well.

Because every step I take on a run, I have to listen to the signals my body is sending me.  Does my hip hurt?  If so, is it because of speed…or incline…or form?  If so, am I overcompensating with the other leg?  Does anything else hurt.  Are my feet falling quickly and softly.  Is my cadence even?  Am I leaning back?  Am I heel striking?

It sort of takes the joy out of lacing up those shoes and going out.  PLUS…before I even get started, I have about 30 minutes of necessary PT exercises and warm-ups, and those are usually a good gauge as to how any sort of run is going to feel.  If my leg lifts hurt…you better believe my run is going to hurt.  And then the brain starts working overtime, doubting myself, thinking I’m just going to end up sidelined again.  Wondering…is it all really worth it?  What happens when the activity that you used to do so easily, freely, and with so much joy…mentally and physically drains you?

You press on!   Or at least, that’s what I do.

When it was bitterly cold, when there was snow, when it rains…I’m out on that sidewalk in front of my apartment doing all the plyometrics and warm-up exercises that my physical therapist assigned me.  Why?  Because taking another year off to recover from injury doesn’t sound appealing at all.  In fact, it scares me.  I have gone through a year of hardships, trials, and a lot of pain…and my journey is not over yet.  That being said, I’m not one to give up either.

What brings this up?  Well…tomorrow is one of my favorite races to participate in.  I had to miss it last year as I was…running the Boston Marathon.  Injured.  So, I would have had to miss it regardless…but…I have a history with this little 5K.

The Pro.Active For Life 5K is in its 10th year running.  And I have run it in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  In each one…I have placed in my age division and/or as one of the top 3 female finishers.  And…it is my PR 5K race.

And tomorrow, for the first time, I’m actually nervous about going to Frankfort after work to run in this race.  And it’s simply because…every run is day-to-day.  I feel good some days; I hurt some days.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  And there are a lot of amazing, skilled, fast, and mad talented runners in Frankfort and at this race.  My legs are still weak from a year off…the hill repeats sometimes making me feel strong, and sometimes making my legs scream at me and my hip hate me for the next 3 days.  My speed…is not consistent.  My legs tire easily…or just refuse to power me through some runs.  Yes…even short ones.  And especially sprints…and I’ve never been a sprinter.

And all of this has been rolling around in my head this entire week since getting back from Florida.  I am not afraid of not placing or setting a new PR.  I don’t care about that.  I’m afraid of letting myself down.  I hold myself up to a certain level and expect a lot of myself…especially at races I’ve always performed well in.  But…it just seems daunting and impossible these days.  Because. my mind races through that checklist EVERY. SINGLE. RUN.

I have to work harder than before to run.  I have to work harder than most to be able to run.  My body, literally, is not made for it.  But I’m not letting it stop me.  I am a work in progress, for sure.  And it’s hard…and I know it’s possible that I may not get stronger, or better, or even faster…but I’m not going to stop trying.

I’m also scared going into tomorrow evening because I have a rather long run planned for Saturday morning…and I’m doing it solo…because people are recovering from Boston, or tapering for Derby or Flying Pig.  And that scares me too.  I worry about pushing too hard in the 5K and not being able to do my run on Saturday.  And, sadly, the run on Saturday is the more important of the two.  And this has been my struggle, my concerns, and my fears/worries since…well…I started running again.  But, it’s been weighing heavy on me for this entire week leading into tomorrow night.

I have lost a lot of confidence in myself.  I know that.  And I have lost strength, fitness, and speed.  But I have not lost my drive.  Running may feel harder…because, these days running is harder.

But I can’t stop.  And I won’t stop.

It’s okay to be scared…but I can’t let it take control.

This is my comeback.  It’s slow.  But it’s progress.  And for now, progress is all I can ask for.  The rest will…hopefully…fall into place.

These Are A Few of my Favorite Things

Happy Sunday, everyone!!

I have made it through a very tiring, very busy, very hectic week.  But, I got a lot accomplished and even made it out for a pre-wedding 5K for two of my favorite peeps from my running group this morning.  Their wedding was this afternoon…so I hope all in attendance had a fantastic time!!

But I’ll get to that some more in a moment.

This week, I’ve learned a lot about…patience.  I’m Irish.  Patience is not a virtue that I really have.  Not much, anyway.  But if there is one thing this hip labrum tear recovery period has taught me it’s that…I have to be patient.  With myself.  With my body.  With my running.  With vast changes in weather this week, my hip has been screaming at me.  Everything is day-to-day…which is frustrating, but, it’s how it has to be.  That being said, getting out this week in the various weather conditions and with a variety of people for various things has been…good for my soul.

So, with that in mind, here are some things that I found good for my soul this week…

1.  Laura & Mike’s Wedding 5K


When I first started running consistently with the Blue Mile group (which has sort of stayed together despite the store no longer being there…although no more Monday fun runs), I got to know both Laura and Mike rather well.  They are both fantastically bright, fun, and amazing people.  And a perfect match for each other.  When they (finally) got engaged, it was something to be celebrated.  And then, today, Laura & Mike invited everyone out for a special running of the Breakfast Club, for a pre-wedding 5K and then breakfast.  They surprised us all with finisher’s medals that commemorate the event and their special day.  Runners are the best people.  I wish both of my dear friends (both of whom I have had the honor of running with for short and long distances) much luck and love in their future!  CHEERS!!

2.  Louisville City FC First Kick @ Home
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Well, the winds were insane.  That’s about all I can say.  Nothing like seeing the guys out on the pitch kick a ball high, have it spin in place and then come right back to them.  We had some crazy strong winds yesterday for the first home match for Louisville City FC.  I (FINALLY) got to hang out with Natalie again, as she took up the third seat in the Season Tickets that we have kept from last year.  Same row.  Same seats.  Same awesome view.  LOVED being there again, despite the cold.  LOVED hanging with Cathy & Natalie, watching the guys take on the New York City Redbulls II.  And…sadly…and very disappointingly…we lost.  Bad.  It felt like we just didn’t have any rhythm.  And we sort of looked a bit like a squad of newbie kids out there just mucking about.  I hope this doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the season because Louisville City FC was SO amazing last year.  Crossing our fingers that Saturday’s match is better.

3.  THESE LEGGINGS!!
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A gift from my very own Sole Sister, Natalie…I love these leggings.  They fit me perfectly, and they perfectly suit our friendship.  Thank you, Natalie…for these.  I have been sporting them all day and I really don’t want to take them off!!

4.  A Run in the Rain
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A lot of times, I stay out of the rain and opt for a treadmill run or a later run.  But this past Thursday, the 5 miler I put in during the wee hours of the morning was both cleansing and rejuvenating.  I had no pace goals nor expectations.  Normally I don’t want to go out in the rain, but it was the only time that day I’d have to do it, with nasty storms brewing that evening (right about the time I left work).  And I’ve found I hurt a little more after a treadmill run than I do after an outdoor run.  Sometimes a lot more.  So, I opted to throw on some old running shoes, suit up, and take in 5 very wet miles.  And I loved every moment of it.  It was like I was a kid again.  Splashing through puddles (one was ankle deep…thankfully I found that one (accidentally) near the end of the run), hearing my feet against the wet pavement, wondering what the drivers in the few cars that passed thought as I was lighting up the dark with my reflective gear and blinkie lights.  It wasn’t a perfect run, nor a fast run, but it was the run I needed that morning.  And I take every good and enjoyably run I can find these days!

5.  Dinner Rolls
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It’s such a simple thing…and yet, after promising Cathy (the roomie) that I would make my gluten-free dinner rolls for over a month now, today, I finally set out to do it.  And, yes, despite a very busy afternoon, much of it spent away from home…they are being made and I have one very happy roommate on my hands.  Sometimes…it’s the simple things that bring the most joy!  Gluten-free dinner rolls…oh yeah.  As Oprah says…”I love bread.”  HAHA!!  And when I make it myself, I know exactly what is going into it!

6.  Deciding To Run for a Charity
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I can’t plug this enough.  When you believe in something, you do something.  So, when I found the opportunity to run the Lumiere’s Challenge (Disney Wine & Dine 10K on Saturday and Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Sunday) for Disney Wine & Dine weekend not just for myself, but for a charity, I couldn’t be happier.  As I said in a previous post…I have wanted to run for charity again for awhile.  My injury kept me out of the running circuit for a year…so…yes…this had to happen.  I am going to be running for Alliance For A Healthier Generation.  And if you would like to support me with a donation, I would be forever grateful!  I love being able to support a cause and do something I love at the same time!

You can throw any donation my way at this link: http://giving.healthiergeneration.org/site/TR/TeamHealthierGeneration/TeamHealthierGeneration?px=1065517&pg=personal&fr_id=1271

So, that was some of the high points of my week. What brought you joy this week?  What made you smile!!

 

Running For A Cause

allianceforhealthiergenAfter a year off from running due to a bad hip injury (which won’t ever heal…I’ve just been trained to work with it), there was one thing I made very clear as day after day ticked by and I started to get a little stronger, and live with a little less pain.

I wanted to run again for charity.

You might recall, back when I was training for my first marathon, Chicago 2013, I ran for the charity Action For Healthy Kids, a charity that Dean Karnazes works with, that aims to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment, and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can have healthier lives.

To keep true to my promise to myself to once again raise money for a cause, I found a great opportunity to do so…this November.

I have signed up to run the Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge at Disney World this November.  You see, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon is one of my favorite Disney races, and despite some rather major changes to the race this year, I was still eager to return to this one (I ran it 2 years ago on a broken toe, LOL!).  One of the changes made this year was that they added a 10K race the day before the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  So, on Saturday, November 5, at 5:30 a.m., I will be striking out (in costume!) to run the Disney Wine & Dine 10K course.  Then, on Sunday, November 6, at 5:30 a.m. (yep…they moved it to a morning race…which is kind of MEH…but what do you do?), I will be running (in a different costume) the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

But the catch is…I’m raising money for a great cause this time!

I chose to run the Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge for Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a charity that also acts as a catalyst for children’s health.  As an auntie to 7 (yes…7) nieces and nephews, I know, firsthand, how important it is for children to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and physical activity.  Alliance for a Healthier Generation works with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals, and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier kids.  After all, childhood obesity is a national epidemic.  Nearly 1 in 3 children (ages 2-19) in the United States is overweight or obese, which puts them at risk for serious health problems.  If obesity among children continues at the current rate, this generation could become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.

Scary, right?

Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s goal is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and empower children to develop lifelong, healthy habits.

As someone who has extensively studied nutrition, has my own food allergies to contend with, and is a dedicated home chef, and longtime food & fitness blogger, this charity seemed like a perfect fit for me.

My personal fundraising goal is $1000 (and hopefully beyond!).  You can help by making a tax deductible donation to the Alliance. Your financial support will turn my efforts into research and programs to develop healthier opportunities during childhood.

If you can, please follow the link below and help support me in my fundraising efforts.  No amount is too small or too big.  And I appreciate any help I can get to achieving my fundraising goal.

You can help support me here:  http://giving.healthiergeneration.org/site/TR/TeamHealthierGeneration/TeamHealthierGeneration?px=1065517&pg=personal&fr_id=1271

I hope to make everyone proud when I head to Disney World to run in November!

The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, KY (March 17, 2016)

Me at the start of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky
Me at the start of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Race: The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K

Place: Frankfort, Kentucky

Date: March 17, 2016

Time: 13:09

It took too damn long to get back to Frankfort, Kentucky for an actual race.  It took way too long.  But…yesterday…despite my own skepticism about being able to do this race and do it well enough to make myself not feel totally out of shape and defeated…I ventured out to Frankfort for what used to be the first race of the Frankfort Trifecta.

The Frankfort Trifecta is no longer a thing.  It seems that the Frankfort Striders stepped in and created a HUGE race series that has something like 17 or so races…and I love Frankfort, but there is no way I can do all of that.  So, I’m sticking to my Trifecta races (all three are still running…just not as an overall series…which is nice because it takes a lot of pressure off of me…having placed the 2 years I competed in all three races) and just hoping for the best at this point.

All that being said, the madness began last night.  I was scheduled for 4 miles that day, so I ran 2.25 of them that morning, saving the remaining 1.8 and change for the race.  I kept the miles easy so I would have some gas in the tank at the end of the day.  BUT…it was also a gym morning so off I went, keeping my usual routine much lighter and easier.  Same reasoning.  And then…work.  I stood for half of the day at my standing desk because, starting on Wednesday after work, my left hamstring had been sore and tight…and I figured that it had a lot to do with how much and long I sat on Wednesday.  Trying to counter that, I did more standing than I normally would have on a sprint effort run day.

Oh…that’s the other thing…I…AM…NOT…A…SPRINTER.  I never have been.  I never will be.  I have short legs that can move, but they need time to warm up and find their strides.  5Ks and shorter races are the bane of my racing existence, and yet, I know the importance of doing them…and so I do.

But, I digress.

Where was I?  Oh yes…leg stuff.  My hamstring was still a bit unhappy when I ducked into the bathroom at work to get dressed for the race.  Cathy and I ducked out early to hit the road.  Dinner had to be on-the-go…so it was vegetarian sushi.  Figured it wouldn’t be too heavy before a race, but it wouldn’t have me feeling hungry just before doing it either.  So…yay for that.  We actually hit a few pockets of slow-ass traffic, which hindered our progress to Frankfort, but we got there.  I had to make my mandatory stop at Kroger to use the facilities (if I can avoid port-o-potties, I do…because…PRINCESS!), and then continued into Frankfort to get to the race.  We parked…noticed that the start line wasn’t set up where it usually was…but it was, instead, on the other side of the square.  Interesting.  So, I hiked that way…and realized that packet pickup was not in the building it normally was held in.  Now…with only 10 minutes to race time…I was starting to stress out.  IT WAS ALL DIFFERENT!

And then I found…my dear friend Linda.  She just suddenly was there…a sea of people having parted ways…her back to me…standing on the corner.  I went up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder.  She didn’t know I was coming and gave me the biggest smile and hug.  That helped.

A LOT.

I asked where packet pickup was now and she pointed to a table…then just went over there with me and got my race shirt, bag, and bib.  I handed everything off to Cathy, who began to pin me up while Linda and I talked for a moment.  But, you see, Linda knows EVERYONE!!  So, I got introduced to a bunch of people and got the very fair warning to not run over any kids during the race.  This is important, because this is THAT race where all the kids want to start up front and…well…some of them actually do belong up there, for sure.  Some…maybe not so much, but you gotta love the enthusiasm.  I promised her I would be very vigilant of the little humans.  I wasn’t familiar with the course being run this way, but Linda quickly gave me an overview before everyone started to line up.  There was a prayer and an Irish blessing (it DOES run on St. Patrick’s Day after all) and then we all moved forward and awaited the airhorn that would send us on our way.

It blew.

We took off.

Me after finishing The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky
Me after finishing The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

My legs felt tired and heavy from the start.  The hamstring, much like in the morning, didn’t bother me while moving though, so that was good.  My hip wasn’t aching…but, I raced hard on Tuesday…did 4 miles on Wednesday, and was now racing hard(ish) again on Thursday.  Talk about giving these legs a bit of a workout this week.  And all of this ahead of another big adventure this weekend.  So…while I made a few surge attempts, the legs were sort of reluctant to get moving…even when I willed them to go a bit faster.

We turned a corner…turned again, stepping over a big hole, and took off up a hill…leading to the main drag that would take us up another (steeper) hill and then across a bridge and toward the state Capitol building.  Close to the turn around point, we hit Mile 1.  I didn’t look at my watch, I just kept going.  I rounded the turn to now run on the other side of the road and headed back the way we came…down the long stretch…up to the bridge…then D-O-W-N to the main drag.  At this point, you know you’re getting there.  You’re almost done.  It was basically straight on to the finish line.

I was slowing down, but I wasn’t having it.  Linda was just slightly ahead of me…and then another woman…and me.  I did all I could, minding my form, my hip, and my leg…to try to catch up, but it wasn’t having it.  Once again, I lack that finisher’s kick that other people have.  I even had people just up and sprint by me…as always.  Frustrating when your mind is willing, but your body just isn’t capable.  Between that and the strong wind that was blowing right into our faces…well…yeah.  It was one of those finishes.

But…I crossed…and it was awesome.  I felt good.  I felt…incredible.

Cathy came over, waving the race sign, and said, “Shit, Twin…you placed!”

All that being said…I grabbed some water and ducked into an alley to do my plyometric exercises and stretches that I’m supposed to do after a run.  See, I can behave.  Well, I did half of them and got bored, to be honest, so I can semi-behave.  We ducked back into the melee and I put my Boston Marathon windbreaker back on…because with the sun going down it was getting chilly.

Rebecca, Linda, and Me...all 1st place finishers in our age divisions at The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky
Rebecca, Linda, and Me…all 1st place finishers in our age divisions at The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Cathy was right…I ended up taking first in my age division…and…get this…TYING MY TIME from 2014, when I ran this race last.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I was very, very happy with that performance, considering I was really struggling after that first mile.  My Garmin said my first mile was in 7:01…so…I haven’t run that fast in…a very long time.  VERY long.  And when I do, I can’t sustain it.  So, YES!!  Happy.  SO freakin’ happy because this injury has had me struggling to do this running thing for over a year.  I’ll take a time of 13:09 and celebrate it!!  Embrace it!!

The awards ceremony followed…the only hitch being that someone was being shown as winning female overall that wasn’t the actual female overall winner.  So, they had to pause for a moment and go get it figured out.  I had been chatting with Debbie Brown about my physical therapy and amazing physical therapist when this began and she went to go get it all straightened out.  Because she’s Debbie.  And she’s awesome.

So, once that was straightened out…the awards commenced.  Overall winner was awarded to the correct, and super-fast, Roberta Meyer.  For the overall male winner…it was Aaron Schaffner.  It usually is.  LOL!!  He’s STUPID-FAST!!  As in…blink and you might miss him.  He was also in a Boston Marathon jacket…but I bet he ran his better than I ran mine.  HA!

The rest of the awards for female runners was next…and I took first in the 35-39 age division with my time of 13:09.  My overall pace was 7:04 for the entire 3K distance…so…that’s sort of impressive…for me…at this point in my running.  It was pointed out by the announcer that I was also wearing a Boston Marathon jacket.  Then he said, “Or is that New York.” Cathy said, “She has one of those too.”  LOL!

True story.

Anyway…I stayed and cheered for the other winners, took a picture with Rebecca Atkins (1st female 40-44) and Linda [Word] (1st female 45-49).  And then gave hugs and made my departure.  I might have flailed happily as I was walking away, because this was such a huge boost to my confidence…even though my legs and brain aren’t quite working in tandem yet.  They’ll get there.

I’ll get there.

Me with my age division award at the The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky
Me with my age division award at the The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

So, the official results of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K are that I finished in 13:09.  I was 35/701 finishers overall.  I was 9/466 female finishers.  And I was 1/62 finishers in my division.  I take nothing for granted anymore.  Every run I am able to accomplish without pain or with minimal pain is a blessing.  Getting through this week of harder runs, and really pushing and challenging myself has not only terrified me, but empowered me.  I said it 2 years ago…and I’m going to say it again…Running is a gift, and I’m thankful I can do it again…even if it means slowing down for a little while to allow myself ample time to heal.

I’m looking forward (or so I am telling myself) to including a bit of speed work in my upcoming training…as well as continuing to focus on my hill repeats (because Frankfort hills are just…relentless!)…and, maybe I can finally figure out how to get that finishing kick.  Until then…relentless forward motion…

“Don’t fear moving slowly forward…fear standing still.”     ~ Kathleen Harris