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! 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
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.

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
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
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
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:

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:

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.


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