I won’t lie…that was how I felt at the very, very end of this race. I felt so strong and amazing, and at the very end…I felt like everything I worked hard for was taken from me.
Does this sound dramatic? I’m sure it does.
But it is the honest truth. And I’ll get to why as I give a little run-down of this race.
So, a big shout-out to my amazing friends, Melissa & Paul Nolan, for not only paying for my registration for this race, but for telling me about it last year and really peaking my interest in it. For one thing, the proceeds of this race go toward a really good cause – The Crossroads Pregnancy Resource Center. They were even kind enough to pick up my bib and sweatshirt the night before the race and bring it with them on race morning.
The night before the race I should have had my “magic sushi” that has worked for me in the past when training for a marathon and racing. But I didn’t. I cooked up a homemade Mushroom Masala, serving it over rice. I have to get used to that though. I can’t have my sushi before a few races I am traveling for this coming year – the biggest of which is the Berlin Marathon.
I might just be making excuses. HA!
I woke up to give myself time to figure out what I wanted to wear that morning (it was pretty dang cold), stretch, eat something, prep a bottle of Maurten 160 Drink Mix to bring with me for 30 minutes before the race, and…make the drive to LaGrange, Kentucky.
We got there with lots of time to kill. Per usual. So, after parking the car, my roomie and I wandered inside to stay warm. I made use of the indoor bathroom (twice…lots of water that morning because hydration!) and Cathy went exploring or something. That being said, as I wandered out, I was greeted by some members of the Louisville She Runs This Town Group, and we all sort of gathered together, admiring festive attire, talking about race strategy, possible races coming up, and how bright my pants were. That really was a thing. We all admired the cute Christmas tree awards that would be handed out to the Top 2 overall for the 6K and the 12K. They were truly stunning. Then, with 10 minutes to go until race time…we took the group photo.
Melissa arrived soon after the photo was taken, bringing my bib and her cute little bundle of joy (and her husband, for good measure, LOL!). I got pinned up and with 3 minutes to go finally headed outside. At this point, Lynn Riedling, a local runner, wandered past and I looked at Cathy and said, “Well…I won’t take overall here anyway!” I stepped out into the cold morning air. No one was really out there yet. It was weird. A lady asked which way we were heading out on the run, and I said, “I guess this way…because that’s how everyone is facing. Usually I don’t have to worry about it because I’m not really speedy enough to lead a race.” She said that was the same with her.
With just seconds to go, there was a countdown to the start of the race. People didn’t really line up right on the line…but we all took off when we told to go. My legs felt fast to start, but I didn’t know how fast they were as we took off from the church and headed down to Commerce Parkway. We were given instructions at the start of the race to return on the path, not the road when we turned around. Noted. I was feeling pretty strong as we made our way to the first turn and hit Mile 1. It was my fastest mile of the day…around a 6:50.
But here is where I now get why my LaGrange friends always talking about the hills. Because after that turn, the hills definitely started. Immediately. We climbed the first one on New Moody Lane. I wasn’t sure who I was running with was doing the 6K or the 12K, but I knew that I would continue to run straight down a road. Anyone doing the 6K would turn at Mile 1.86.
My second mile was around a 7:44. Hills. They get me every time. I had a few people pass me, but they were either men or dogs at this point. I did reach the turn around point and only a few turned. I stayed the course with the rest and just really was feeling strong at the moment. And I knew all I had to do was run straight down LaGrange Parkway to the turnaround at KY 53. But, in all cases, I just turn around when everyone else does.
Soon after the 2.5 mile point…Lynn passed me. I knew that was coming. She’s stealth and fast and an amazing runner. I expected it. But I knew I’d now be working for that 2nd overall female position. I was able to push a little more and sped up for the rollers on the road, reaching the turnaround point a little sooner than I should have. After I turned and started back, the next female behind me was coming toward the turnaround. I had a bit of a buffer, but not much.
Time to dial it in.
Miles 4 and 5 went by quickly, and I was able to maintain that pickup I had once Lynn passed me. That made me feel pretty good. But coming into Mile 6, we had to make another hill climb, and that definitely slowed me down more than I wish it had. But we were nearing the end of the race, so I knew my legs were not feeling as peppy. It was my slowest mile of the race, and it ended on a downhill, so that was a bit of a surprise. I made the dash across the road to continue on the path. That did mean some running on some grass, but it was only for a few strides. Someone said they heard jingle bells and turned to see me coming up behind them so they moved out of the way. Oh yeah…decided it would be fun to wear socks with bells on them for this run. HA! Someone else a bit further up the path was blocking the way while walking, and they turned as I was coming up behind them and stepped right in front of me. I had to hit the brakes and dodge around them. They did apologize. But I was in the homestretch. I could also tell at this point that the course was definitely going to be short.
I made the turn into the church parking lot to come up the hill. I had 0.05 miles to go to the finish line when…right there a woman sprinted right past me and up the hill. I tried to go with her, but she pressed on and I saw her round to the finish line. The fight I had left and I really slowed down because I just felt disappointed. It was the last race of the year for my mom and I got outkicked fight at the end after being 1st or 2nd overall for ALL of the race. I felt so much anger when I crossed the finish line that I paused my Garmin, said a few not safe for church words, and might have fought off tears.
It felt like I had been cheated right at the end. And I won’t lie. I was mad. I was also mad that the course was about .30 miles short. Looking back at the course, the original one had us doing this little duck into a parking lot thing and doing a loop in the first mile…and that didn’t happen. I guess that’s where it all went wrong. The good part was that I crossed just after my friends Melissa, Paul and their baby Carrick (in a stroller) crossed for the 6K. But Melissa wasn’t happy with her finish either, and she tried really, really hard to lift my spirits. I wasn’t having it as much as she wasn’t having my words of praise for her run. Cathy made a point of telling me that I was coming off a week that included two 10 milers before this race whereas the other woman was probably on better rested legs. It almost made me feel better.
At this point, a child walked an ornament over to me for finishing. Just as I was handed it, I just passed it off to Cathy. But then Lynn Riedling (the overall female winner) came over to me and said such nice things to me. I think she could tell I was upset. She told me that I really pushed her and that I ran really well that day. Honestly, that was such a show of sportsmanship that it really warmed my heart.
Cathy noticed people weren’t coming up the path the right way so she went to direct them and I wen to go add on to my distance to get the proper 12K. I kept it really easy. Cried a little from anger, disappointment, and just feeling like I let my mom down on the last race of the year.
And then…my mom called. I had just finished my cool down and my phone rang. I told her about the race and she said someone should have tripped that woman. My mom has a dry sense of humor. She told me she was proud of me for being 3rd female or 1st in my age group. And I told her…that didn’t matter at this race, because no one got awards for that. Now, I know awards and accolades aren’t everything, but I literally thought I had it for the ENTIRE race until that finish.
I finished talking to her and all of us went inside for the awards. I was nice and applauded everyone, including the lady who outkicked me (she was also the one I spoke with at the start of the race) right at the end. I’m not unsporting. She earned it. I just am still a bit bitter. HA! I’ll get over it…eventually. Although, I did find out that if I had opted for the 6K option, I would have crushed the competition going away. Let that be a lesson…there is sometimes more magic in that shorter distance. Hindsight is 20/20.
Afterwards, the Nolans, Cathy and I went out for brunch at Wild Eggs. I then had to finish up some shopping and head home to pack because I was heading to Alabama early on Sunday morning for Christmas with the family.
So, my official results of the 12Ks of Christmas are that I finished in I finished in 53:53. That’s a good baseline to work on should I run this again next year…unless I opt for the 6K option. We’ll see. Also…maybe not…because the course was short, as I mentioned before. I was 8/54 finishers overall. I was the 3/29 female finishers. And I was 1/3 in my age division. So, it might not have been the finish I thought I had earned, but in the end, it was a good race (next time I hope the course is more accurate), and the proceeds definitely went to a good cause. And, honestly, when all was said and done…I had fun, even on the challenging hills. And that wrapped up a year of racing…so in 2020, I’m going to work on that finishing kick. Getting passed at the finish line is really getting old.
Again, this will come as no surprise to you if you already follow me on Facebook and Instagram. But, I feel the need to put it down in the blog. This year, I hope to settle in and blog about more things. Getting back into the writing groove when I posted about my training plan leading up to my BQ attempt (which I got) at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
And one thing that is going to help with that definitely has everything to do with this announcement.
I was selected to be a BibRave Pro.
BibRave is a running community that was built to connect runners with the best races. You can research races you are considering putting on your race schedule…as well as leave feedback on races that you have completed. It is also a way for races and brands that are geared toward runners to connect with runners through their large ambassador network (which I am now a part of) as well as through #BibChat – which is a Twitter chat that happens once a month (starting in the new year).
I have applied for the opportunity to join this amazing family of people who honestly promote products and races, as well as just be an awesome member of the running community…FOUR times. I finally got it. And I couldn’t be more excited.
I’m learning all the basics right now, but stay tuned because I know there is some exciting stuff coming up this year!
Tis the season to be busy…fa la la la la la la la la.
I have been trying to squeeze in time to blog on here about a few things that have come up since my last race…and it life just hasn’t slowed down very much. In fact, I figured I’d have a bit more time these days without the grind of marathon training. But the fact of the matter is…now I’m getting caught up on everything that had to wait until I wasn’t marathon training. Work has been insane. And pile the holidays on right after and it’s a recipe for chaos and stress.
BUT…some pretty exciting stuff has happened since my last race update…and I have a few goals that are non-running related that I want to keep up with this year on THIS blog even. Because I started this blog to not just cover my running (training & races), but also my life as I navigate a gluten-free life in a gluten-filled world, my passion for baking and cooking, and everything in between.
That being said…this post is definitely running related…but also travel related…because…
I GOT INTO THE BERLIN MARATHON!!
That’s right. This girl is heading to Germany this coming September. Not long after my 40th birthday. So, honestly, I can’t think of any better race to use to ring in 40th year on Earth. The last time I went to Germany was 2003…so its been awhile. And I have never been to Berlin or a few other places that I’ve looked at visiting while there (hello Munich in October…because Octoberfest!). So, do expect a lot more of that as far as planning, travel, and all that goes on in Germany to be documented here.
It’s awhile off, but this is my first overseas race of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (I have done Chicago (x2 – 2013; 2018); NYC (2014), and Boston 2015) already. Hopefully I can get into the remaining two in the near future as well.
I found out about this on the day before Thanksgiving. I was just clearing out my e-mails that morning, and thought it was spam, but opened it anyway (I live dangerously, I guess?) and gasped, went “OH MY GOD!” and threw my phone. It freaked out my roommate. Especially when I started going, “HOLY SHIT BALLS!” She kept going, “WHAT?! WHAT?!” And, honestly while crying I said, “I GOT INTO BERLIN!” (I am using Caps Lock here because it was all the screams). Her response was classic: “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.” HAHA!
Honestly, we already have places where we are staying. Our hotel in Berlin is 5 star hotel (because…PRINCESS) and have started to lay out a general schedule (because we needed places to stay in the other cities we wanted to travel to as well). And, of course, since we’re there, we will probably hop over to Austria for an afternoon.
The best part of this, though, was talking with my Grandpa about it. He has run the Berlin Marathon twice (he lived in Germany for 3 years back in the 80s) and he went over race strategies with me and told me about his experiences. Of course, the big difference is that when he ran the race, Berlin was still divided by a wall. Seriously, I couldn’t stop smiling as we chatted on the phone.
So, there is my first round of exciting news. Stay tuned for more in the next couple of days (I promise…I’ll post it before I head home for the holidays).
Okay…the way I had been racing prior to my Monumental Marathon, I was hoping for some Thanksgiving magic when I set out to run Fast Freddie’s this year. I wasn’t expecting anything great. I wasn’t quite 3 weeks off my BQ finish, and the legs had only a little punch in them at this point. So…let’s just say I felt like I had been racing well, so a PR wasn’t out of the question, but it was going to be up to the legs.
But I digress.
You guys already know the history of this tradition. I have run it every year since I started running (except in 2015 when I was injured from the hip labrum tear, but we don’t talk about that year). When I moved into my apartments, I had no idea a Thanksgiving race happened just across the street. My parents found out that year though (prior to me even becoming a runner), when they were visiting for Thanksgiving and were caught on a street that was semi-closed to traffic for this race in question. They showed up a little late going, “Are you aware a race is happening outside on the street.” Little did they know that a few years later, they’d be spectating while I ran it.
But yes. I do this one…EVERY YEAR!
And why shouldn’t I? It’s the least stressful, most convenient race on my race calendar every year. The later start time sort of messes with my hosting responsibilities, but with my mom and dad around, we make it work. My mom is a HUGE help in my tiny kitchen on this holiday! I give major props to her every year. And since I wasn’t sure they would make the trip this year with her treatments and all, it was even more special this year when they said they were coming.
They arrived right around dinner time on Wednesday…bearing gifts (not really, it was a lot of my stuff that I had left with them in their attic, but they are downsizing their house (and it makes me sad, because the house they currently have is STUNNING) and the new house doesn’t have an attic (what kind of house doesn’t have an attic!?) so they needed to offload it…but news flash…I live in apartment with NO storage space that is free). I had already stopped by the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds on the way home from work (we got out early at 3:30 pm) to pick up my race bib and shirt. This year, the shirt was this gorgeous pumpkin color. I’m in love with it. I also delivered some gluten free stuffing I made for my friend Melissa to her husband, who we ran into at the packet pickup. Go figure.
The most difficult decision that night was where we were going to grab dinner. We finally decided on Core Life. Perfect. A great, healthy dinner before the holiday feast. I had my usual: the Siracha Ginger Tofu + Ancient Grains Bowl. So yummy! We ate, got caught up, and drove home, where my mom and I did some major meal prep…making the dessert (pink salad), and then chopped the veggies for the Shrimp Creole (What? You expect us to have turkey on Thanksgiving? Not in my family!) and the stuffing that would cook up in the crockpot while we were at the race. We also hardboiled the eggs for the Deviled Eggs (which she whipped up while we were waiting on awards at the race). We were pretty set for a less-stressful Thanksgiving. We put on pajamas and settled in to an episode of Holiday Nailed It on Netflix. My parents don’t have Netflix and had never seen Nailed It. I think they’re hooked now.
We all turned in that night. I set an early alarm that would give me time to do my stretches and work on some Thanksgiving things prior to the race itself. And when everyone was up and had their coffee (not me…I had that post-race)…I went to go change, opting for some shorts because it was right on the cusp of it being too cold for shorts. But I went with it. I also had on a short-sleeve shirt (pink, of course) with arm warmers. It was going to have to be enough to keep me warm that morning. And it was cold and windy this Thanksgiving. Oh, to have the year where it was 60 degrees back.
We were all bundled up and I realized we almost did what we did last year…forget to put my bib on. HA! Just before walking out the door, I realized it. My roommate played it off like she was about to pin me up…but we all know better. We almost forgot. Again. But, crisis averted. Got pinned up, zipped back up, and we headed out into the cold Thanksgiving morning air.
I knew that the local MRTT/SRTT chapter was doing their pictures at 8:45…and as we got over to the 4-H Fairgrounds, I spotted Leah…and soon more people followed. We did get our photo taken, but then we all went our separate ways to get lined up at the start. This year they did something a little different (which I personally appreciated)…if you were bib 1-99…you got to start in a green box at the start line. I was Bib 90…and I took advantage of this. I knew this wasn’t going to be an astounding race for me, but I appreciated not having to bob and weave through the kids (admittedly, a lot of them are pretty fast…but some are not) this year.
We took over the road and somehow I ended up right by the front. Oh well…I planned to run this one has hard as I could that day. And we were off. The first part of this first mile felt…okay. I got passed by a lot of people, but I was just going to see what I had. We went up the hill leading to the overpass and I felt spritely enough to push a bit through that hill. It isn’t one of the bad ones. And the downhill on the other side was a nice way to balance it out. The course flattened out as we hit the turn onto Mt. Tabor Road. I ran past Mile 1 and soon after my watch beeped. This is the first time EVER that my watch has been off on this course. I didn’t look at it…I just kept going. They had repaved the road earlier in the year, so maybe the mark was off when they went through to put up the mile markers. I pressed on, but as I headed up a bit of a hill to turn onto Grant Line Road, I started to feel the inkling of a side stich.
I haven’t had a side stitch on this course since the first year I ran it, I think. And I train a lot using this course, so…what the hell? I tried to just slowly breathe through it, and I passed Mile 2…my watch beeping soon after that. Just as I was coming up on the rail road tracks, someone sprinted past me really fast. All I could think in my head was, “And the coffee apparently just kicked in…”
I made the turn into Sam Peden Community Park, which I felt was wrong this year…and we turned too early from where we usually do on the course. But, I mean, you go where you’re directed. And I could be wrong. Needless to say, the hardest parts were here…and I started up that damn hill. I hate that hill because it literally goes on for about a half a mile. UGH! I told myself I had run this hill so many times this year…and I pushed myself to keep my legs churning up it. It felt like an eternity, but I got to where it leveled out for a moment. And my side stitch went away too, so BONUS! As I ran past the Mile 3 marker I waited for my watch to hit it too. It came a moment later (again). BUT…this is also where my Wednesday spin teacher spotted me in the park and gave me a shoutout. I sort of needed it after that hill, and knowing one of the hardest parts of the race, the hilly Schell Lane, was just ahead.
I exited the park and headed down a hill. I have a love/hate relationship with this stretch of road. I hate the hills. I love that the people who live along this stretch come out and cheer, play music, whatever. I made it up the first hill and started back down…crossed that 3 1/2 mile marker…and then headed up the short, but steep hill at the very end of that road. Made the turn onto Daisy Lane…and enjoyed my favorite part of this race…the downhill.
Mile 4 was in sight, and I could tell I was behind where I had been years previously, when I saw the 29 minute mark. I usually hit this around 28 minutes in this race. That being said, Mile 4 was my fastest mile of the race. Even with all those hills. Go figure. When that part of the course levels off from that downhill though, the legs really have to fight to get that momentum again. I knew this wasn’t going to be a spectacular last mile, but I went all in, as much as I could.
I made the turn onto Green Valley Road and immediately got hit with the headwind. UGH. I could feel my body just tense up because me and cold winds are not BFFs. Not at all. I put my head down and just fought it the best I could. I was tired. My legs felt tired. But I really wanted to put in a good time. I really wanted to have a great finish for my mom. I have run EVERY race this year for her (always wearing pink to honor her battle against breast cancer), and when my legs were slowing down, I was literally getting mad at myself.
I could see the fairgrounds and focused on that. My dad was down near the road, and I heard him cheer me in. I made the final turn, where my mom and Cathy were cheering and just ran it as hard as I could at that point…across the finish. I slowed down and a few seconds later, my watch clicked to Mile 5. I stopped it then.
I snagged a couple of water bottles and made my way to the other side of Newlin Hall, meeting up with my mom, dad, and Cathy. Cathy was kind enough to take a photo of me with them, before we headed over to the road to cheer in some of my friends. My dad wasn’t feeling well, so my mom ended up taking him back to the apartment, where she got to work on the Deviled Eggs and a few other things, while I cheered people in. Cathy kept going in to check official results, but none of them posted at that point. Once I saw my friends Paul and Melissa come in (with Melissa pushing the stroller), I went to head inside and find them for the awards ceremony. Before I got in there, though, I was spotted by the pacer from the Monumental Marathon. I once again took a moment to thank him for helping me hit my goal, and he said 15 people in the 3:35 group got that BQ time that day. It was awesome. I also got to introduce him to Cathy. We all headed inside together. Paul found me and Cathy and we went over to see Melissa and the baby as the awards were starting up. My age group came up…and my name wasn’t announced. Knowing my parents were back at the apartment, we ducked out before the raffle tickets were drawn and headed home. Cathy checked the results as we left…and I was 4th. Again. Getting outkicked by A LOT. Again.
I went inside and took a quick shower before hopping back into the kitchen to work on more of the feast for Thanksgiving. Our friend and neighbor, Laura, stopped over with her boyfriend for a moment to say HI and give hugs. She didn’t get to spend the day with us this year, but I was so glad she stopped by. Soon after…we set up the table and feasted, thankful for a lot this year. But, as always, I was thankful to have my parents with me this year.
SO…here it is. My official results of the Fast Freddie’s Festive Five Mile Foot Feast this year is that I finished in 36:57…three seconds slower than my 2013 and 2018 finish times. No new PR. No age group award (again!). But, let’s remember that I had run a BQ qualifying time at a marathon on November 9th…so these legs were peppier than I expected. Will I ever beat my 2017 time? I bet I can. Just not this year. I was 118/692 finishers this year. There were 100 fewer finishers this year. That is surprising. I was the 19th female to cross the finish line. And I was 4th in my age division. To be fair…those who came in ahead of me kicked my ass time-wise once again. Like…2 minutes faster than me ass kicking. I’m definitely hoping to kick it next year and maybe get a new PR on this course. I incorporate it so often into my runs, that I figure my body would just be used to those hills. Next year, no side stiches or wind, please!
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 9, 2019
“Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing
Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision
Always had high, high hopes
Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes”
~ Panic at the Disco
But I am getting ahead of myself at the moment. Because like any and every story…you have to start at the beginning. And the beginning, for me, started on Friday.
Friday was a complete rest day for me. Normally I do shake-out runs and the like, but I had a continuous training cycle through taper, and had done my usual (albeit much lower mileage) runs on Sunday-Thursday, with 2 of these including some sort of speed workout. So, I slept in, per usual. I took a shower. I didn’t go to work…so I had time to stretch, finish packing, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at home. For the record, it was Trader Joes Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels and Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese. I had my first melt down. I ran a couple of errands with my roommate. Made a quick lunch. Had another meltdown. She called in my sushi order at Dragon King’s Daughter (if you’ve been following my weekly training logs, you know about my “magic sushi”…so you better believe an order was traveling in a cooler up to Indianapolis with me), loaded the car, took out the garbage, went to pick up sushi order…and hit the road.
The drive up to Indianapolis was easy and uneventful. Just the way we like it. My coach, Daniel, called me on the drive and we talked. He always knows what to say to calm me down. He asked me how I felt…I told him I was nervous. He asked what I was nervous about. And I told him…the weather. To date, this was shaping up to be the coldest marathon I will have run. Beating out Twin Cities in Minneapolis, MN…and Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2018 in Orlando, FL (which held the record…yes, Florida was colder than Minnesota). The weather was showing a 28° start, with a nice wind chill making it feel more like 21°. Good times. We discussed how my training had done, despite not really having weather like what I would be running in for the marathon. I told him this would change my wardrobe and we went over what I could/should wear and ways to keep my core temperature up before the race. I told him I already had cried twice that day…and he asked what type of crying it was…and I told him it was the “I want this so bad” type of cry. He told me how to channel that and my unease about the weather into mentally having a successful race. Honestly, I found the BEST coach. We hung up…and as we neared Indy…the local station we had found started playing every hype song it could throw at me. I cried…again.
We made it to the hotel, staying once again at the Omni Severin Hotel in downtown, and only a short walk to the start and finish lines. We got checked in. I put the sushi in the fridge, along with my overnight oats I made at home to have race morning (just as I did before EVERY long run this cycle). Then we went to the expo. I got my packet for the marathon. Cathy got hers for the 5K. And I picked up my friend, Melissa’s, packet for her so she didn’t have to drive 4-5 hours round trip with her baby to do it. Then, we went exploring. I ended up buying a singlet for this race, and my roommate bought me a finisher’s jacket (she’s the best) and a Bondi Band. She also got herself a new racing hat, featuring this race (the first one she ever trained for last year). Then, we made our way around the expo, checking out the different booths and races that were represented there. Once done with that, we took photos with our bibs, found my name on the giant poster, and headed back to the hotel.
We settled in for the rest of the day, because I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible. We watched a couple episodes of Mindhunter. Cathy went and got herself dinner from the hotel…which was offering a nice pasta dinner with a side salad and breadsticks (although she got hers to go and they didn’t pack the breadsticks…but she said there was plenty of pasta). We ate. I stretched and foam rolled. We watched Top Chef (still in Boston…again…good sign!). Then, we called it a night. Lights out.
I didn’t sleep well. I kept waking up…needing some water…or just nerves at times. I turned off my first alarm before it went off because I was already awake. The second alarm went off at 6:00 am. Both my roommate and I got up with that one. It was officially the start of race morning. She had coffee and juice delivered to the room for her to have with her breakfast (she does this every morning, so this is part of her routine).
I had about 3 meltdowns just getting ready. I wish I were kidding. After talking to my coach on the drive up, I decided to officially nix the shorts. While the temperature would be climbing in the over three hours I would be out there…I didn’t want to start cold. So, for the first time in the history of my marathon running…I ran in pants. Capris. Of course they were bright and wild colors. HA! Because I gotta be me! I decided to go with a short sleeve shirt (BRIGHT PINK), compression sleeves, my Newtons (I also brought my Adidas Boston Boosts), arm warmers, a buff, a Bondi-Band, gloves (with hand warmers), and a throw-away hat. I wore everything pink I could…to represent my mom (as has been my theme this entire year I have raced). I started to put together my hydration pack, pouring room-temperature Nuun into the bladder (I knew it would be cold just being out there…so why make it super cold by starting that way?), packing my Maurten Gel 100s (three with caffeine, three without), shaking up my Maurten 320 Drink Mix (which some of it went into a little bottle in my pack to take at Mile 8), and then I tucked some very important tokens into a pocket to carry with me. My amazing friend, Kelly Lorch, gifted me with some plates that were to go on my shoelaces. I had my shoes on…and tied…so I said I would carry them with me. She is amazing and has been SO supportive of me reaching my goals. There was no way these weren’t coming along on the journey in some way.
Cathy pinned my bib on…then I pinned her up. I layered on my throwaway clothes and then we both wrapped ourselves in old Mylar from previous races and trash bags. Then, we headed out to meet up with Melissa at the MRTT/SRTT photo meet-up spot in the Westin (which also gave us a warm place to wait for the start AND bathrooms if needed). I walked in and was immediately flagged down my Kelly. Melissa came over and gave me a hug too…and I started to have another cry. But, thankfully, group pictures were happening so I had to go and attempt to look “homeless chic” in my “how to stay warm on a cold-ass race morning” attire. The photos were taken and Melissa had me join her as she waited for her husband, Paul, to park the car and bring the bundled up baby inside. They arrived and she brought out the MOST AMAZING sign ever. It said, “My auntie Karen chases unicorns and runs BQs.” She said she and the baby worked very hard on it the night before. I cried…again.
No sooner had I dried those tears, Cathy said we had about 15 minutes until the start of the race…so we needed to mosey outside. BOOOO. I shed all my throwaway stuff and handed it off to Paul, who was finish line support and baby watching this morning. He was very kind to let me do that so they can live to be tossed another day. I got re-wrapped up in the trash bag and Mylar…and we headed out into the cold. We stopped just before the start line, where I needed to make my way down to my wave corral, and I got final hugs. Cathy let me know (for the 2 millionth time this training cycle) that I had this. Paul wished me luck and told me I had this in the bag. And Melissa, because we are the same person, took my head in her hands, made me look right into her eyes, and gave me a pep talk to end all pep talks. We hugged it out…and I went to go get into place.
At first, I thought I was about to have a Glass City Marathon replay…because as I got to my corral…I could see the 3:40 pacer and the 3:30 pacer. No 3:35. I was about to cry again, when I spotted a guy standing in an Official Pacer orange shirt…minus the sign. I went over there and asked if he was the 3:35 pacer. He said he was, and his partner was currently missing and had the sign. The other guy showed up a few minutes later, but he was prepared to get us all there with or without the sign. I felt a lot better. No need to stare at my watch and fuss over the pace if I could hang with them. About 5 minutes before the start, I went to ditch the Mylar and trash bag and got back in line with the two pacers. The race started, with the wheelchairs. Then Wave 1. Then my wave. As we crossed the start line, it was crowded and packed, and the pacers were a bit ahead of me, but I didn’t panic. I waved to Cathy, Melissa, and Paul…and began to weave a bit to make my way closer to the pace group.
I caught up to them in the first quarter of a mile and made sure not to feel crowded. If you remember, last year I attempted to do this very same thing…but ended up getting tripped a few times. That wasn’t happening this year. NOPE! We were a fun group and the pacers were great at not only giving direction on where we were turning or where aid was…but just keeping us talking to keep our minds off the race. One of my pacers was from Sellersburg and we talked about Louisville races and whatnot for awhile. That was really cool. He apparently had never heard of me. He must run in the wrong circles, HA! Just kidding.
By Mile 2 I had already talked his ear off about the Dopey Challenge. So…there was that. This is also where my watch was off from the mile markers. And, yes, my friends…it remained like that until…I kid you not…MILE 26. My watch was beeping about .1 mile after the actual mile markers. So, with the new course changes this year, I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to get in a full 26.2. BUT…I was also reminded by the pacers, that with the tunnel overpasses we run under/through, plus the buildings in downtown…you can’t really trust your GPS and that the course WAS measured correctly. SO…we went with it. I let it go. I just let it be.
The first couple of miles of this race is a lot of turns. For real. I feel like we go around so many corners, but it was okay. Also…we were slightly behind pace for the first couple of miles, but I trusted the pacers to get us where we needed to be. I was, however, keeping a close eye on my watch, in case I needed to just break away and do this on my own. Then, we busted out a faster fourth mile and had to tone it down a bit. Too early for that kind of craziness…and they knew it.
From there on, we pretty much stayed steadily just ahead of the actual pace, which made up for those first three, crowded miles. Also, this time I wasn’t tripped about three times heading into the 10K mark. For real. Last year, I had lined up with the 3:35 pace group and it became hazardous to my health around this time. Nope. We were a large group, but we were very aware of each other’s space. And that made a whole heap of difference. I was able to stay relaxed and just breathed. We crossed the 10K mark and kept on going. One of the pacers asked, “Who was worried, for no reason, about how cold it was today? You’re warm now right?” We all raised our hands. Don’t get me wrong, it was cold…but our bodies were working hard and we were definitely warm.
At Mile 7, we separate from the half marathon runners. They take a turn and the full marathon continues on straight. I was surprised at how good I felt at this point, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Despite the cold, I was fueling how I did in training and staying relaxed. I had goals, but I didn’t want to get worked up over them. I was just going to run my best on this day. And right now, my best was feeling good! At Mile 8, I fueled with the 5 oz flask I brought of the rest of my Maurten 320 from the morning. Onward.
I stayed just slightly behind the pacers through Mile 15 to be honest. But, I wasn’t going to sweat it. I distracted myself from Mile 10 to Mile 12 looking for my friends Susan and George. They live along there, and were going to come out to cheer. If they were out, I totally missed them. If they weren’t…I don’t blame them…it was cold. But, I continued to search for them on the sides of the roads, where people had come out of their warm houses to cheer everyone on. At Mile 12, I took a Maurten Gel 100. AND…I ditched my throwaway hat that I had kept on my head until then. The sun was finally coming out and I knew that the day was about to really start warming up. I was, however, glad I had my head covered up until that point. But now…now it was time to let those pigtails fly!
Halfway there…and I was smiling and high fiving kids and just having a blast. I mean, if you’re going to run 26.2 miles…you might as well have fun while doing it, right?
I was keeping a very steady pace, which continued as the miles ticked off. I fueled with another Maurten Gel 100 (and I was taking sips of water from my hydration vest EVERY mile (because I tend to under-hydrate in marathons and had practiced this in training so that it would be a habit and I wouldn’t crash at the end…which I still think is what happened at Glass City) at Mile 16, because I was going to do it every 4 miles to make sure my fuel stores stayed primed as the race went on.
The pacers had pulled slightly ahead of me, but I remained calm and breathed because I still had a ways to go. Panicking over pace right now wouldn’t serve me. Stay calm. My mantra crept in…”Keep Fighting.” At Mile 18 we went through this little park-like area…which I remembered last year had a lot of people inside just screaming. Same thing this year. It made me smile. “Keep Fighting.”
I caught back up to the 3:35 pacers as we started down the exit ramp at Mile 19. If you know me…you know…downhill is my favorite speed. I smiled a lot at this point…because I was still feeling good. I was feeling strong. I was ready to keep going. I had 7 more miles to go. I did that pretty much every easy run day. I just had to hold on.
At Mile 20, I took another gel. This was the last 10K. This is where most people hit a wall. Not me. I wasn’t going to hit a wall today. I was on a mission. I kept my head up, soaking in the sun (which was now up), thinking of my mom, running as fast as my legs could possibly go that far into a marathon. I was feeling strong still. No wall to have to break through this time. Although…to be honest, they have you run through this inflatable arch thing that looks like a brick wall… which did amuse me.
I maintained quite well the next few miles. I could feel some fatigue setting in, but it wasn’t bad. I still felt good. I kept telling myself that I had done this before. I raced a 30K and managed to be under my marathon pace. I did two of my five 20+ miler training runs at my marathon pace. Whatever road I still had ahead of me…I knew I was beyond capable of bringing this home.
And then, around Mile 23, we turned a corner and the headwind hit. And it hit hard. While the pacers continued on, I could definitely feel the need to fight a bit more now. The wind was no joke…and I knew we’d have it for the next few miles, at least until we turned and headed to that finish line. I wasn’t going to let it get in my head. I had time. I had this.
At Mile 24, I tried to open my final Maurten Gel 100 (I listen to enough runners on podcasts warn people to not skip that final gel in the last few miles…and now I understand why). It was hard to tear open, so I slowed to a light jog, got it opened, and picked it back up while I took it down. 2.2 miles to go.
The next few miles, I had my personal trainer, Corey’s voice in my head. All these little moves he had me do that would strengthen my body and get it prepared to find that “next gear” all came into play here. The wind was whipping, and I was fighting it the best I could. The next couple miles ticked off. I even had a friend of mine from Instagram shout at me from the side of the road. I smiled. That was amazing.
I made the turn onto W New York Street. From the years prior of me running this…the full and the half…I knew the finish line was around the corner. I made the turn. I could see it. I could see it and I picked it up…I started to just fight every part of my body that wanted me to slow down. As I got closer, I spotted the signs…the one Cathy held and the one Melissa held up. I could hear them shouting at me. I could hear them cheering. I was already crying. I was already crying because I knew I was doing it. I knew I was about to do it…FINALLY!
I crossed that finish line, arms up…and then, after I moved past the photographers…I paused my watch and glanced at it.
3:35:13…I had done it. I had gotten my BQ time for 2021. And the instant I confirmed it, I just started bawling. I was ugly crying right there at the finish. Cathy, Melissa (and Baby C), and Paul rushed over to me and we all hugged and cried together. All of us. Except for the baby, ironically. HA! Cathy pulled up her phone and started to play Dropkick Murphy’s “Shipping Up To Boston.” I cried some more. I cried more than I thought I could because I was just so happy. Cathy texted my mom and my coach. She told me they would meet me at the end and to go get my Mylar, medal, and snacks.
After I got my medal and Mylar, I spotted the pacer I ran with from Sellersburg and I told him I got my time. He high-fived me and I tried not to cry again…but I think I was. I met up with my amazing friends and they were patient enough with me to let me lay down and put my feet up for a few minutes. Melissa went to retrieve official results. Cathy and I went to see about getting my medal engraved. Then we went to retrieve my bonus shirt and medal for the Indython Ultra (for doing Fort Ben Half too). I gave Paul my free slice of pizza. It was a lot of emotions all at once and the reality of it all just kept hitting me. And I just kept crying…and smiling.
We made the walk back to the hotel together. Paul and Melissa very kindly went to retrieve some coffee for all of us. I took a shower and got dressed because I had the USL Eastern Cup Final happening in Indianapolis as well and I needed to go cheer on Louisville City FC. This also meant I had to go back out into the cold, but Cathy promised to bring blankets. Our friend Greg came with us to the match and to dinner.
I actually didn’t get to eat anything until long after the match, but the wait was worth it. I enjoyed some gluten free pizza and gluten free fries from Harry & Izzy’s. I had half the pizza left, so Cathy and I decided that would be breakfast the next morning. No shame.
We then returned to the hotel where we FINALLY got to crack open the wine I had been saving for the BQ moment. The three of us lifted our hotel plastic cups and enjoyed the celebration.
Let me also mention that Melissa and Cathy ran the 5K on race morning, with Melissa turning in her BEST post-baby 5K time and Cathy running a new PR (and her first sub-45 minute 5K).
Now that I’ve bragged on them…let’s go to the stats…
The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:35:13, which makes it my second fastest marathon to date of the 16 I have now fun. This took down Marshall by about 42 seconds. So damn proud of the hard work and training I did to make this happen. I was 1282/4962 finishers overall. I was the 329/2111 female finishers. And I was 98/412 in my age division. I might still be in shock from how everything played out that day. When it started to feel hard…I just kept fighting.
Never, ever give up on your dreams. It sometimes takes time to reach your goals. But that’s what makes them mean so much. Keep fighting.
I don’t know how I made it through these last 20 weeks, but with that said…race week has arrived. I’m both nervous, excited, anxious, and calm. How is it possible to feel all the thingsand remain sane? Well, the vote is still out on that whole remaining sane thing. HA!
This was definitely a week to turn it down. And my coach gave me specific instructions that he didn’t want me to take a complete back seat this week, but I could move or change whatever I needed to going into it. I didn’t change a damn thing. I did, however, knock my recovery runs down one mile and made sure to keep that pace nice…and…easy. The last thing I wanted was to go into race morning with lactic acid hanging around in these legs. NOPE NOPE NOPE!
As I mentioned previously, my coach does an untraditional taper. He does lower mileage (although I was in the 60s, 50s, 40s for the last three weeks)…kinda. He makes a lot of it all about that speed work. Getting those legs to fire…right at the end of a run…when they are the most exhausted. But this week really didn’t have too much on it. My longest run was 7 miles, and that was the ONLY one that really had a speed element to it. And it was a 4 mile fast finish. Other than that…strides on the last day I ran before the race. But I’ll cover all of that in this week recap.
It’s race week…let’s go!
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I love that even in taper, my coach trusts me with “Choose Your Own Adventure” runs. Knowing that this is race week, I really wanted to make my primary focus recovery. I want to hit that start line feeling fresh and ready. I was stressing over the forecast a little too much, because it looks like this will be my coldest marathon I have run. Thanks to Canada and this arctic blast that is attacking our nation. HA! Anyway, I woke up to weather JUST above freezing. So it was a long sleeve, capris kind of a run. I didn’t wear my Dunkin’ Donuts hat…don’t know why. I just didn’t. And the legs did a little shakeout. They felt good for a Monday. I opted to do 4 instead of my usual 5 miles…and somehow snagged some negative splits in the process. I called it a day. No personal training. Just my normal PT stretches. I didn’t even do the additional hip strengtheners this week, not wanting to accidentally tweak something. Simple. Basic. Got it done.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 5-8 MILES WITH 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 6.5 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END
I woke up on Tuesday morning to 50 degree weather. Yep. From 33 degrees Monday morning to 50 degrees on Tuesday. Fun times. I knew he gave me the option of 8 miles…and if this was training on a normal week and I was feeling good…I might have pushed for it. BUT…it’s taper. It’s race week. I don’t like half miles…so I rounded up to 7…and I opted to go right in the middle with that fast finish, doing 3 easy miles and pushing pace on those last 4. It felt hard. It shouldn’t have felt hard. But, I did at least get it done. My sinuses were having a fun reaction to the yo-yo temperatures, so that was fun. Other than that…I took it for what it was. Finished as strong as I could for the day, then went inside to shower and just do my usual stretching. Keeping it nice and easy. Oh, and I went and voted. Because that needed to happen!
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
Second verse, same as the first. My only other “Choose Your Own Adventure” run for the week. Happy to have had 2 of these. I opted to do 4 again, unless I just wasn’t feeling it. That’s the glory about these…I control them. I did make a note to back off on pace and just let the legs work a little less. My last 2 miles were much quicker than my first 2 miles, but that’s because it took me 2 miles to feel warm. Isn’t that fun. OH…did I not mention that the temperature dipped back down to just above freezing again? Another morning with 33 degrees. Oh…joy. And the fact that I went from a warm apartment to run and it took me 2 miles to get my legs going was a bit of a concern. I just tried very hard not to let it get into my head. I did my stretches twice that morning. And I foam rolled before work. After work, I had a sports massage and I was so thankful for that. Basically all that is holding me back right now is the weather.
Thursday: BASE FUN 4-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 6 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT
It was another rainy Thursday morning. Just like last week. UGH. MEH. BLAH. I originally had thought about just doing the run on the treadmill, but I can’t do strides on the tready. Nope. So…I opted to just go and get it done. It never stopped raining on me…but thankfully, we were back up to 50 degrees. WHAT THE HELL WEATHER?! So, I definitely didn’t want to push anything. Not even the hills I go up and down. This was one of my slowest training runs to date. And some of it might have been fear of slipping on the wet pavement and falling. I won’t lie. But I really just wanted it all to feel super easy. It didn’t. I blame the rain. But, I did get in 6 miles. See…I was given the option of going up to 8…but I really am doing JUST what needs to be done this week. I reset for strides and pushed those legs on some short sprints…then went inside to take a hot shower, stretch, and get to work. I met my friend, Melissa, for coffee after work…and she gave me my start line pep talk just in case she couldn’t get that out at my start line. I appreciated it. Went home to eat dinner. Was supposed to pack. Didn’t pack. Went to bed by 8:30…because I really wanted to get some quality sleep knowing that I probably won’t sleep much on Friday night.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
Thank God for small miracles. I woke up at normal time…of course. I didn’t set an alarm. I just woke up. So I lounged and dozed and finally got up at 5 am. I showered. I stretched. I was thankful to not have to do one single mile today. I was thankful that it was 26 degrees outside and I got to stay inside, stretch, hydrate, and sit under my snuggie, working on this blog. That’s what I did. I eventually made breakfast and my roommate and I got to packing…pretty much every option for any scenario on race day. I still don’t know what I should or want to wear during the race. We haven’t had weather this cold yet here…so I am at a total loss. Not to mention, I have never run a marathon or a long distance run in temperatures like this. It doesn’t sound fun. It’s producing a lot of anxiety…but we’re working through it. We had to wait for Dragon King’s Daughter to open so I could order my “magic sushi” to take with me to Indianapolis. Then we hit the road to get up to Indy, check into the hotel, and hit the expo. The rest of the time, I was going to spend in the hotel…rolling, stretching, and keeping myself off my feet. I wanted to feel good Saturday morning.
Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON
Goal: Qualify for Boston – needed 3:40 time.
Finished in 3:35:13.
More to come in actual post race recap! This girl is going back to Boston in 2021! This is my second fastest marathon…EVER. This beats out my 2nd marathon, the Marshall Marathon, by about 42 seconds. Super proud. Super sore. But my day didn’t end with that finish line. Then I went and sat outside in Indianapolis for the USL Eastern Conference Finals between the Indy Eleven and…Louisville City FC. We won. In overtime. It was a long day of being cold.
Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I just can’t sleep the night after I run a marathon. I was up until after midnight, watching Mindhunter (finished Season 2) and was still NOT tired. I tossed and turned all night. Finally got up and decided to finish this blog. Will take a short 20 minute walk on the hotel treadmill this morning before grabbing breakfast, packing, loading up the car, and heading out for some shopping and lunch (you know I’m going to Woody’s). Then, the long car ride home to Louisville, where I still need to buy groceries, meal prep, and all the usual stuff. This coming week will bring my 20-30 minute walks (just like I did post Glass City Marathon in April). I want to get back to spin classes…all the stuff I stopped doing when marathon training took over my life. Looking forward to this recovery time while I make plans for 2020, which now doesn’t need to include a marathon!
Guys…we have 19 weeks of hard training down…and only one more to go until the big day. Am I nervous? Of course. There’s something scary about putting your goals out there for people to see…for putting your training out there for people to read. Setting big goals in and of themselves can be a scary ordeal.
But there is no turning back now. We’re in the homestretch. That start line and that finish line are waiting…
So let’s do this thing.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I was so thankful to have another Monday as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of run. After moving my long run last week to Sunday, it was nice to not have to worry about hitting paces or doing some sort of workout. I didn’t know this, however, until the morning when I woke up. My coach sends through my plan after his children go to bed…and I had already gone to bed ahead of that. What can I say? Rest and sleep have been a priority this entire training cycle and it has made a world of difference. So…I went out there, watch covered, and put in some miles. I kept it easy and relaxed and just let my legs do what they needed and wanted to do that day. No pressure. No anxiety. Just a simple run to shake out the legs. I finished up with 5 miles for the morning, because my legs felt that good. I did my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning round of stretches this morning. Then, at noon, at met with my personal trainer, Corey, who put me through a leg day workout, targeting some muscles that don’t get a lot of love. I stretched and foam rolled that evening and went to bed early (as always)
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
I didn’t want to incorporate speed during my taper…but it’s important to keep that rolling. And my coach, thankfully, handed me my favorite of the speed workouts to do. The Mona Fartleks. If you haven’t tried these yet…DO IT! You’ll see what I mean. Mona Fartleks work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2 x 90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4 x 30 sec, 4 x 15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. Simple. Basic. FUN! It was a cool morning…and I felt fast. I really did. I kept my warm up nice and easy then really hit those intervals. I even managed a mile in the 6s for pace at the end. My cool down…faster than my warm up, but it usually is. I mean…I wasn’t expecting my legs to respond like that, but they felt ready to go. They felt strong. It worked out to be 8 miles for the day. I went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches. Went to work. Came home and did those evening stretches before hitting the sack for some sleep.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
It was the perfect morning for another easy “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.” When I have those in the middle of the week, it always means another bit of speed is coming the following day. With that in mind, my watch was covered and I went out and ran comfortably. And apparently comfortably that day was…faster than anticipated. I felt amazing the entire time. Rested. Strong. Capable. This is what you need to be feeling this week of training…and I’m hitting it. I did another 5 miles this morning, surprised with the average pace at the end. I hoped it wouldn’t hinder my run the following day. I stretched. I went to work. And I met with Corey at lunch for personal training, focusing on triceps. We kept the session shorter than usual because he wanted to make sure I had no lactic acid built up as I go into race week. He’s a runner. He’s an athlete. He gets these things. That evening I had a great sports massage and all felt right with the world. Except for…the rain.
Thursday: 8-10 MILES WITH A 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 9 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END
I didn’t casually mention rain yesterday for no reason. When I woke up early to fit in this run (knowing I wasn’t going to do anything over the goal distance)…it was pouring rain. Fun fact…if it starts to rain on me after I’m out running, I’m okay with it. I don’t like starting in the rain. At all. And…if this wasn’t as long of a run, I probably would have gone to the gym and done it on the treadmill. My plan was to go out and do 5 easy and 4 at marathon pace. When the rain picked up that morning…I hit four miles and chose to just hit 5 at marathon pace instead. So…off I went. And even in the pouring rain (thankfully it was 58 degrees outside)…which I always fret over slipping…I nailed it. Completely nailed it. I even felt like I could have pushed harder, but the purpose of the exercise was to hit marathon pace, not half marathon pace. This was also the first time since July that I have run with my watch uncovered. And it didn’t stress me out at all. That being said, I was very happy to finish up this run and get out of the rain. 9 miles for the day…5 of them fast. It was a HUGE confidence boost to do that in rain. I did my stretches in the morning and night. Oh…and by the time I left work, winter had arrived. We legit had snowflakes in the air. NOPE!
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I didn’t sleep in much for some reason this Friday. I kept waking up. So, eventually, I just got myself out of bed and went to be a little productive. I erased my whiteboard art and went and did up something new for the month of November. I used Simba from The Lion King (the original animated one) with his mane of leaves. Because it’s fall. Leaves mean fall. And I love drawing Disney characters. I showered. I stretched. I finished filling out my paper work for my podiatrist. My appointment got moved to just before lunch today. I don’t anticipate this being a long visit…but hoping he can do something about some of my nails (marathon training for 2 years = ugly feet). And…after work, we hit up Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi” as I prepare for my long run on Saturday.
Saturday: 11-13 MILES WITH 5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END
Woke up to weather in the 20s. No joke. It was 28° and I was not happy! Not one bit. I don’t do well in temperatures below freezing. It’s part of having Raynaud’s. It sucks to try to run when you can’t feel your feet. So, I admit…I was in a bad mood at the start of this run. Not even going to lie. I didn’t even plan out a route or think it through the night before. I just was determined that this run was going to be awful. It wasn’t too bad. It was just cold. But guess what…I warmed up. The sky was crystal clear. The sun came out. And while I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, my movement did finally give me some feeling in my extremities. YAY! The same could not be said for my iPhone 7. The battery died 30 minutes into my run. Guys…I can’t have my phone battery dying when the weather is cold. It’s a safety issue for ME. Against my will, I ended up turning the phone off and finishing up the run, with the last 5 miles being along my super-hilly Thanksgiving course. WHY do I do this? Why do I forget (I run this course all the time) how hard those hills are? But I pushed my fast finish at marathon pace. It was a bit of a struggle today, but my last long run was done. I took a warm shower. I put on real (warm) clothes. I watched Mindhunter with my breakfast gluten-free bagel. I went grocery shopping (all day). I came home and put away groceries. Stretched. Watched Top Chef. Watched Mindhunter. Then watched Louisville City FC win (on the road) the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Guess what? The Eastern Conference Finals are being held in Indianapolis…the afternoon of my marathon. Guess what we’re getting tickets to go watch!! It was a late night (for me) but worth staying up for.
Sunday: BASE RUN 5-8 MILES + 4-6 STIDES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT
The time change messed with me. I always panic when we have to fall back or jump forward. Especially when I am meeting with friends to go running. I set my alarm clock (which I needed to adjust the time, but in hindsight didn’t actually move it when we jumped forward in the spring…so I totally had the time wrong. But I also set my phone alarm. Then I woke up, not trusting it. And my alarm clock (was wrong) said one time. My phone and Garmin said another. The clock in the living room said the same time as my phone, and the clock in the kitchen had the same time as my alarm clock. I was driving myself crazy. I finally asked Siri what time it was…and my phone was correct. I just don’t trust technology to actually fall back. Deep breath. So, I snuggled down for another hour…but didn’t really sleep. Finally got up to stretch, hydrate, fuel, and get my stuff together. I figured, with it being another below freezing morning, I’d have to give myself time to scrape the windows of my car before driving to meet my friend Ron for my last weekend run before the marathon. Murder fog rolled in as I arrived. He had gone to do his additional 2 miles ahead of our meeting. And we ran through it for a mile before it started to lift and the sun came back out. We kept it easy and talked a lot about race strategy and the weather (he’s a meteorologist) and how to dress. It’s all confusing to me. Aside from the weather (which is an uncontrollable), I do feel confident and good and better than ever as this training cycle wraps up. We threw in the strides at the end of the run. Walked it back to the cars. Stretched. And that was it. The last long run before the big day. 8 miles total.
So, yeah…a part of me is internally freaking out because I have put this HUGE goal out there for everyone to see, read about, and follow along with. But, it honestly doesn’t feel like any pressure to perform has been put on me. I trust my coach…his plan…my training…and I know I am capable of having a great race. Now…I need the day to go well. You never know on race day what can happen. But…honestly, I have never felt more ready to run 26.2 miles.
Six days to go. And, let me tell you, my friends running the NYC Marathon have been quite the inspiration! Here’s to staying focused, healthy, and strong in these final days before the start line.
Oh, Urban Bourbon…it’s been a hot second. I haven’t run this race since 2016. Not because I haven’t wanted to. Probably mostly due to training for other things, or injury…or whatnot. Honestly, when races happen in my own backyard, I try to make a point to show up to them when possible.
So, trust me, I was happy when my coach gave me the green light to include this race into my training cycle as we began to head into taper. Kinda. Because I was under the impression that I would get to basically cruise through these additional races on the calendar, using them as easy training runs, right?
Nope. Marathon pace. That’s what I was told. For both this one and Fort Ben. Well, we all know I ran a little too fast at Fort Ben (despite the hills). But, that wasn’t all bad. Except my fast finish run on Sunday the following day pretty much felt like trash. So…we repeated the hell week of speed work pretty much every day. I did this just before Fort Ben too…but he really wanted me closer to my actual marathon pace this time. So, I worked out a plan in my head to line up with the 1:45 pacer and stick with them. I’d be slightly faster, but it would keep me steady and on pace.
Friday just after I ate lunch…I stopped by the coffee shop next to my office to say “HI” to my friend, Melissa. Then, my roommate and I headed down to Slugger Field for packet pickup. Melissa, her hubby, and their baby were coming down shortly behind us. Picking up the packet was a breeze. I was bib 306…first window. AND…to make things better, my personal trainer and friend…and the Volunteer Coordinator for the Louisville Sports Commission, Corey, was right there to give me a hug. We chatted for a few minutes, but Cathy and I needed to skedaddle back to the office (BOOO!). As we were leaving, Melissa, Paul and the baby were arriving. We were going to give them our parking space, but one opened up just slightly closer. That being said, Melissa still managed to give my SRTT magnet a flip before we parted ways.
Finished up the day at work before heading over to Dragon King’s Daughter. Because that’s where the “magic sushi” combo is. I had my usual…the Gluten Free Spicy Tofu and the Gluten Free Green Acres Rolls. Devoured them. Went home to stretch and get to bed. It was going to be an early morning.
Race morning came…and I think I actually slept well going into it. YAY! I didn’t lay anything out the night before. Didn’t think to do it. Oh well. I wasn’t too worried about it. I took my vitamins and ate my overnight oats that I had prepared the night prior…sticking with my fueling plan I am using for my marathon in November. I stretched. I hydrated. I changed. And, yes, I even put on sunscreen. All the things. I remembered my anklet and my race bib (long story, but both of those involved turning around and heading home at a different local race soon after I got back into running after the hip labrum tear). On track. The original thought was to come home after the race so I could shower and we could make a brunch happen…but I packed a backpack with a change of clothes because Cathy was kind of leaning toward staying over on that side of the river post-race…getting brunch, picking up a Cinnamon Roll & Donut from Annie May’s (for breakfast on Sunday), and getting some of our grocery shopping (it ended up barely being any of it) done while there. I was game to come home and save a bit of money…so we decided we’d pack for options.
It was a bit on the chilly side that morning…but I was planning on wearing what I wanted to wear for my marathon. It’s what I’ve been wearing at my races…so I know it works. I was just concerned about freezing near the start. Luckily, Cathy wasn’t doing a 5K at this one and I could shed clothing just before the start (so I could stay semi-warm leading into it) and leave them with her. I like when that happens. I know I have throwaway items for a reason…I just hate leaving them behind when I could probably get use of them again down the line. So…that was a plus. She pinned my bib on…I went to mix up my Maurten 160 Drink Mix…and we were out the door.
The drive into Louisville wasn’t bad at all. We didn’t even hit traffic. Cathy found a parking garage that was a bit of a walk to and from the start and finish area…but it would allow for easy exit as no roads would be blocked. We found a spot and sort of hung out in the warm car for a little while. Eventually, we did decide to start heading toward the start of the race, which was on W Jefferson Street. It was here that I met up with my training partner, Ron. He wasn’t sure what his plan was for this race, but he was going to line up with the 1:40 pacer. It was at this moment, I realized there was no 1:45 pacer. There was a 1:40 and a 1:50. So…I decided I would just have to line up in between them and try not to pass or be passed.
I mean…that seems like a logical and good plan, right?
As the race start drew nearer, and the sky turned BEAUTIFUL shades of cotton candy pink and purple (Louisville was showing off!), Ron went to go shed his layers and I went to go see if I could make the MRTT/SRTT Louisville photo. It was at Panara Bread. I noticed how full the corrals were getting as I headed that way, and after a short walk and not seeing where I needed to be…I opted to instead turn back and try to find my spot for a good start to the race. I never seem to make photo ops before races unless they are right near the start line.
This turned out to be a good decision. The only way into the start area was through the back of the corral. I had to shed my warm outer layer and go try to find a spot. It was REALLY crowded and I entered, finding my friend Tracy and tapping her on the shoulder, and she said, “Hey…shouldn’t you be further up.” HA! She wasn’t wrong…and it was really hard to move through the tight crowd of people. There was a lot of me tapping people on the back, asking them if I could slide through, saying a lot of “Sorry” and “Thank you.” BUT…I got there. Whew.
Ron gave me a high five and told me that if I passed him, he was going to yell at me to slow down. Which was the best idea ever. Fun fact…I never passed him so he can save yelling at me for another day.
The National Anthem was played and we all moved up toward the start line. A gun went off…and so did we. I gave a wave to Cathy on the sideline as I ran past…and really just felt good that morning. YAY! To be honest, while it was chilly (41° F) at the start, it was ideal running weather and was supposed to warm up as the morning went on. That being said, unlike at Fort Ben a couple of weekends before this race…I ended up keeping my gloves on and not shedding them.
So, there are actually quite a few turns in the first mile of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. It starts off nice and flat and fast…and you don’t even realize you’re running that fast until you hit that first mile marker. It was, as I said, the perfect morning for a half marathon. The sun was coming up. It was crisp and cool.
And I settled in pretty quickly into a rhythm. It was, for the first mile and a half, with a tall guy who was constantly commenting on how he couldn’t believe how far up the 1:40 pacers were at the start. Let it go, dude. Let it go. They have a pace they are going to run. Those who can go faster…will. We also had to run past EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which meant we were greeted by a guy with a speaker and a microphone basically preaching to us about why abortion is bad. Dude…we’re running a race here. Go do something useful with your time.
I knew I was pretty fast on my first mile, so I made a point to back off as we the loop leading into the second mile, and taking us back onto E Witherspoon. We turned this time though, heading onto Preston before turning again E Muhammad Ali Blvd. A couple more turns, keeping my pace in the mid to low 7:40s…which was still faster than I should have been…but I hadn’t passed Ron yet and 1:50 wasn’t coming up on me. It was still early, and I knew the hardest part of the race would happen once we got into the park. For now, I’d just soak it in. Once we got onto Lexington Rd I was in some pretty familiar (even though it had been ages since I’ve run it) territory! YAY!
It was along this stretch between Miles 4 and 5 that I high-fived some kids, tried to find a spot on the road where I wasn’t running on the shoulder (that had lots of debris from trees) but also not running on the grade of the road, which is kinda tilted at this point. My watched beeped a bit before I saw the Mile 5 marker…and I was questioning how I screwed up the tangents already (NOTE: I don’t actually run tangents…but my watch was WAY ahead of the mile marker). As we crossed Grinstead, we had to avoid the rubble and construction stuff (there were LARGE concrete tube-things (technical term) on the side of the road, and lots of dust and stones in their wake), but this is also where we turn and head into Cherokee Park.
Welcome…to the land of hills.
I want to give a shout-out to one of my training partners this past summer…Christine…because she had us running these hills pretty much every weekend. And I think that, while I slowed down some on these climbs, I handled them better than I would have. So…thanks, Christine! That being said, I have run in Cherokee Park so many times, that I know what the hills entail. So, I respected that. And I respected the goal of this race, which was not to kill myself trying to race it, but to aim for marathon pace. Slowing down, if necessary, was perfectly fine. And the hills were my reminder of that. While I still pushed up them, I didn’t push too hard…I let it be a hill and allowed my work, but not overwork. There was nothing to prove at this race. I was just here to finish.
We go into the park just before Mile 6 and we exit the park just before Mile 10. So, that’s about 4 miles inside Cherokee Park. And this is where you get to experience the major climbs, but also, the best part of the race. Cherokee Park, no matter how many times you run it, is beautiful. And in the fall, I think it’s even better. Highlights for the race all happened inside the park. I do want to say, I appreciate the photographers inside the park being just before that HUGE, winding climb to Hogan’s Fountain. You still look good, because when you get to the top, you pretty much feel and look like death…except you go downhill after that. Making the turn, my friend, Dan, was at the bottom. I heard him cheering for me and I high-fived him as I ran past. Up another hill. THE BEST water stop around was Water Stop 5…run by MRTT/SRTT Louisville. Costumes, cheers, and a whole lot of noise. My name was in chalk on the ground. My name was shouted and I had LOUD cheers as I ran through. Just the boost you need after all those killer hills. Itw as phenomenal! I love being in a girl gang! Around Mile 9, my friend Simon caught up to me. I could hear him coming though…because he was complimenting everyone on their dogs. I got to hear that for the rest of the race, and it kept a smile on my face.
We head out of the park and head back downtown. At this point, I was ready for my legs to just pick it back up, but after Cherokee (and this seemed to be a sentiment shared by lots of runners that Saturday)…the legs just had no go. The hills ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, I just pressed on, once again reminding myself that having no go here was fine. This wasn’t my goal race. I just settled in, and eventually my legs picked it up a little, just not much. I was ready to be done.
The last few miles went by relatively quickly, and when I hit Mile 12, I did start to pick it up a little more. There was more of a crowd, there were lots of encouraging cheers…and I could almost feel the electricity of that finish line. Making the final turn to run it in felt amazing…and, per usual, I threw my arms up as I crossed…because every finish line, whether you are first or last, should be treated like you won the damn thing! Always celebrate that finish line.
My training partner, Ron, had made it in exactly a minute ahead of me. We high-fived and hugged, collecting our medals, and making our way through the snacks to go to the afterparty (where I promised my roomie my beer and pizza…I can’t eat them…because gluten), and I was hoping to give away my bourbon tags…but I ended up having no one to share them with. It was pretty windy and chilly. I put my sweatshirt back on after standing around for a moment. Eventually, Cathy and I needed to go. We decided to grab a real breakfast at North End Café…then get some goodies for my post-run breakfast on Sunday (another 13.1 miles) from Annie May’s…and grab some groceries before heading home.
It was a great day to have a great race. I need to just keep this one on my radar every year, because Michael Clemons is phenomenal as a race director and ALWAYS puts on a great event.
So, my official results of the 2019 Urban Bourbon Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:42:48. Not mad at all at that time, because I finished within my goal range, between the 1:40 and 1:50 pace groups. I was, technically, only 5 minutes faster than my marathon pace, and my coach said I maintained a great pace on this (aka: he wasn’t mad at it). I was 208/3026 finishers overall. I was 40/1739 female finishers in this race. And I was 6/301 in my age division! Sometimes, working in some races to the training plan is a great way to figure out where you are with your training…or a good way to squeeze in a training run (keep that pace easy and controlled) and earn a medal in the process. Definitely coming back next year!
This is how my week started out. My training plan came through Sunday evening, before I had gone to bed. I opened it…expecting a lot less intensity and fewer miles. What I got was a repeat of the week of speed work. I actually replied to my coach’s message with, “Well, this wasn’t the week I was expecting.” He knew I was fresh off a 22 miler, and told asked me if I felt like I was too beat up to do it.
Honestly, I knew I could do it. Mentally…I didn’t want to. This was taper. Right? Physically, though, I knew I could do it and told him as much. And so…the week of speed work returned…with a vengeance.
Let’s get into it…because while the workouts are all a repeat…how I ran them definitely was different.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
I woke up on Monday morning feeling restless and tired. It’s been happening a lot this training cycle – I’m just not able to sleep well after long or hard workouts. And that, my friends, sucks! A LOT! So, I was tired. But on top of that, my left hamstring (which apparently wants to be tight after every long run I do on hills) was tight and sore. AND…on top of that, I had a few other aches that were niggling at me. I got dressed, feeling moody, and went out for my base pace run…not even sure if I’d actually be able to do it…and not really sure I could do the strides at this point. The good news is…after about 2 miles, it all felt better and I really started to flow. I didn’t push the pace at all this time…but I did decide that things felt good enough to do those strides. I knocked them out, feeling a bit of speed in my legs and was grateful that everything seemed to work itself up as I warmed up. I did my additional hip strengthening exercises afterwards when I was working in my morning stretches. And later that day, I met with Corey for my personal training session. He, being an athlete himself, was very considerate of my hamstring and we worked with it and around it. Later that night, I made sure to foam roll everything really well. I had commented on my training plan that my hamstring was bothering me, and Daniel (my coach) did reply with that if I still felt beat up, to cut out the speed work tomorrow and just do a base pace run. I went to bed early, per usual, uncertain of how my morning run would go.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
Well, my hamstring felt much better when I woke up on Tuesday morning. That was a good thing. And while I had an out…I decided that unless something didn’t feel right on the 2 mile warm up, I would do the speed work exercise that day. And this particular day was none other than – Mona Fartleks. If you’re an avid reader, you’re very familiar with these by now. If you’re just joining me on this journey…here’s how these work: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. I felt good this morning. Really good. I hit all my paces hard and fast. I recovered, keeping it faster than base pace. And I managed to hit 3 new records on my Garmin. Of course, I deleted these because they weren’t under race conditions (this is just how I do it…some people would have kept them, and that’s fine). So, you could say I was feeling much better. I surprised myself that day, even managing a 6-minute something mile for my one mile hard effort. I don’t know HOW I did it…but I did. And I won’t argue with the data. After a shower, I did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I was looking forward to Wednesday. I really was. Because this was the morning I got to chill. I actually slept in an hour later, knowing that my run would be shorter and easier. This was the one day this week that would not have some speed element in it. And I was going to chill and just enjoy it. And while some of my splits registered faster than they felt (not that that is a bad thing…but I really try to keep easy miles easy on these days), I didn’t want to overdo anything. I ran 5 miles, nice and easy. That was my day. Just my morning and evening stretches and some foam rolling. I went to bed just after 7:30 pm because I knew what hell awaited me in the morning. And it was a double-digit weekday run.
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
I slept really well coming into this workout. For that, I was relieved. But, I still woke up sort of dreading this run. First of all, it was cold outside, in the low 40s. It was windy. And I really hate double digit runs on weekdays. I work very hard and sometimes put in long days, so when I have to wake up 30-60 minutes earlier than I normally would to squeeze in marathon training…it makes me grumpy. I get the value of an occasional mid-distance run during the week, but as someone who already runs pretty early in the morning…these get really hard to fit in more often than not. My body felt good, and I made sure that I kept my pace truly easy for the first 10 miles. Then, I just pushed it on the last 3 miles. I did this better than I had the week previously that I had done this same week of workouts…which was nice, because I was also fighting headwinds on my uphills (that’s not an exaggeration…my hills all had me running INTO the wind). But I got it done. And it was a relief to put it behind me. I showered and started to do my stretches (which I had intended to do twice because I had plans that evening), but remembered that I needed to make Friday’s lunch for the office because I wouldn’t have time to make it tonight before we’d have to head out the door to Derby Dinner (I won tickets). So, I did that…then finished my stretches…but never did get to foam rolling or the second round of stretches.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
Thank God for rest days!! I was up WAY past my bedtime on Thursday night with Derby Dinner Playhouse. It was fun. But I was tired and really ready for bed when I got home (and still had to change, brush my teeth, take out contacts, etc)…so I crashed hard. I set an alarm for my usual Friday morning time and woke up with the alarm, but wasn’t ready to get out of bed. Fifteen minutes later…I did haul myself out of bed to shower, stretch, drink coffee, and get ready for work. I left the office shortly after lunch to head to Slugger Field to pick up my packet for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. I met up with my friends Corey, Paul and Melissa…and that was fun…but I sadly had to go back to work. I finished up the day, went over to Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi”…and then went home to settle in, stretch and foam roll. I went to bed at normal time…and set an alarm with enough time to get up and get ready without feeling rushed.
Saturday: URBAN BOURBON HALF MARATHON AT MARATHON PACE
I’ll have an entire blog on this race. Let’s just say, I still finished sooner than I probably should have. But my plan to line up with the 1:45 pacer was thwarted by the fact that there was a 1:40 pacer and a 1:50 pacer. So I figured if I stayed in between them…I’d be doing fine. I forgot how much the hills in Cherokee can beat up your legs. Thankfully, my training partner, Christine, often had us run that particular way and route around the park, so even though it had been awhile, my legs had done it often enough. I started off way too fast…eased it back…got killed by the hills (thank goodness my marathon is flat)…ran through the best water station run by MRTT/SRTT Louisville where I got a ton of screams and cheers, and then…finished strong, even though the legs were pretty much done by the 15K mark. Press on. Get it done. I officially logged a 1:42:48 half this week, purposefully easing back on the pace. I’ll take it. OH…and this was my 40th half marathon I have run to date. And that was with 2 years of little to no running due to injuries. Not too shabby!
Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END
Ever have one of those days where you want to be excited about the run that is assigned to you, but just can’t. That was this morning. I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to run a third 13.1 miles for the week. I was fighting it all morning. And I was in a very bad mood when I realized that the sunrise wasn’t until 7:59 am. I hate this time of year ONLY for that reason. That and winter coming too soon. But the temps today were a beautiful 57°-60° in the morning. I decided not to wait until it got light out, but to go ahead and put on some reflective gear, get some mileage done, then ditch it at home before finishing it up. That’s exactly what I did. And I kept a pretty steady pace for those first 8 miles. Then…I picked it up. The first two fast finish miles felt fine. It got hard after that. The legs were not wanting to push and I just had to keep giving myself those pep talks and letting it feel hard. I was glad to finish up that run, for sure.
For it being taper, I logged 60 miles this week. I’m really hoping the intensity and mileage start to go down from here. I feel like I’m getting stronger, but I’m feeling pretty beat up at times…so a nice taper would feel amazing right now. And I love long runs, but I just want to be sure I feel ready, able, and rested for November 9th’s starting line.
Feeling very inspired, confident, and ready right now. Three more weeks. Let’s do this thing!
Sometimes the race isn’t about who crosses that finish line first. Sometimes the race is surviving. Thriving. Proving that there is life after breast cancer.
If you ever want to feel uplifted by the strength of the human spirit…do one of these events.
I ran the Race for the Cure back in 2011, when I was new-ish to running. My mom and dad were visiting and they got to see me run across that finish line. It was the first time they ever got to see me run. And my mom said to me, “Baby, you don’t run…you fly.” I ran that year to honor my my friend’s mom. Back then, it was an officially timed event. This year…there was a clock, but unless you were a survivor…your bib strictly gave the year…2019.
In case you are new to the blog, my mom, Dottie, was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January. She’s been through chemo and radiation, and will be finishing up this round of chemo in late January. Her journey hasn’t been easy. She’s had good days, bad days, good months, bad months, bad side effects, people who cut her out of their lives as the treatments took their toll on her. But through the entire process, she’s been positive, kept a good attitude, and just done everything in her power to look on the bright side…even when there wasn’t a lot of good happening.
So, when I saw that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was happening on a weekend where I could slide it into my training schedule, I decided to put together a team who could run not just for my mom, but to honor those they know who have battled through breast cancer, and maybe those at the race who are survivors or still in the midst of their battle.
Guys…I have amazing people in my life, because I had a lot of people sign up to run for my team: The Brady Bunch.
This is also where I give a big shout-out to Kelly, because she picked up packets for everyone at Oxmoor while she was there. That saved me a trip and made it SO easy on race day. So…get yourself a friend like Kelly. Or meet Kelly. Because she’s the best.
Normally before a race, I would get my vegan sushi combo that has been working for me this training cycle…but…I also had a 22 mile run on Sunday, which I figured would be the better option for that. And, since we were meeting up with my roomie’s sister, Amanda, to go to the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park (TRADITION), we went out to our favorite Indian restaurant in Louisville – Shalimar. I got the usual (since my run was short and not long) of Broccoli Masala. Extra spicy. My favorite. Then it was off to get hot apple cider at Highland Coffee and head to Iroquois Park, where we had kettle corn while waiting for our time to head into the path with all the pumpkins.
This did make for a late night, and I went to bed the moment we got home because I had to get up early enough to stretch and figure out what I was going to wear. A front moved through with the rain overnight, so we suddenly were plunged into the 30s in the morning. My original plan to wear shorts was tossed out the window. But, our theme for our team was wear something pink (of course), green (my mom’s favorite color), and/or something with polka dots (since my mom’s name is Dottie). And I happened to have a pair of green leggings with polka dots on them. I had bought some pink compression sleeves that had polka dots on them. I had a pink short sleeve shirt. Green arm warmers. And pink gloves. I even had a Bondi Band with polka dots on it. I was covered. So, I got dressed and made sure I had my anklet on and my hair pulled up in proper pigtails (with pink and green hair extensions, naturally). I ate a quick breakfast of gluten free cereal (short race) and my roomie (also running, so no cheer squad and finish line photo for me) and I headed out the door to get to Cardinal Stadium.
Remember…it was cold outside. So, Cathy and I basically hung out in the car for as long as we could (we got their earlier than expected). My runner’s metabolism kicked in, because suddenly I was starving and I had over an hour until race time. I knew I should have brought backup. We got out of the car and donned some trash bags to insulate. Then, we meandered our way toward the team meet-up spot…Gate 4…which just happened to be near the start/finish and the stage. We were there for about 10 minutes, and then, one-by-one, my team started to arrive. Kelly and Elizabeth arrived, toting the bags with bibs and shirts. Then Tiffany and Kaleigh arrived as well. Dennis was the last one to arrive (we had more people registered, but other commitments and/or sickness took some out at the last minute). We wrangled everyone together for a group picture, then Dennis went to go warm up and the rest of us watched some of the Parade of Hope (Survivor’s Parade). The national anthem was sung, and all runners and walkers lined up to await the 9 am start of the race. As I was standing near the front, a woman (definitely a survivor) looked over at me and said, “Are you a runner? Are you running this?” I said, “Yes ma’am.” And she said, “Run for me.”
We had a fun countdown from 10 seconds to go…and then we were all off. I was only under orders to not run all out on this race, so I decided to run comfortably hard, aiming for around a 23 minutes. I felt strong, despite not being able to feel my feet/toes due to the cold air. I passed a few people as we headed down the corridor and made the turn onto S. Floyd Street. That put me up front as the first female and I was feeling pretty good. We rounded onto Central Avenue and up, up, up the hill we went. I usually get slowed down by hills, but my legs wanted to go. I powered up it, and rode that downhill on the other side (downhill, after all, is my favorite speed), making the turn onto S 3rd Street.
I ran through the water top, minding the bump of the casing over the cords. Then through the tunnel I went. I popped out, somehow missing that first mile indicator on my watch. I made the turn to run down and around Eastern, looping back and then heading down to make a loop of a small section of the U of L campus. Then, I was heading back toward the finish line (same as the start). Back down S Third Street I went. Still felt amazing and strong. And I was lifted even more as I hit Mile 2 and got shout-outs and waves from teammates Kelly and Elizabeth. Then Tiffany. Then my friend Jamie gave me a shout-out. I headed down the hill to go under the overpass and I could see Cathy coming down on the other side. She must have seen me too, because as I am running through, she literally stops to poke her head through and shout at me, “FIRST FEMALE.”
This is what friends do.
It was just before I made the turn back onto Central that I caught up to the man ahead of me. He told me “good job.” I kicked it past him and started up that stupid hill. I did push the hill, mostly because I tend to get passed on hills and I really didn’t want to be passed again. The people who were doing the walk were cheering and screaming at me as I crested it and headed down the hill to make the turn back onto S. Floyd St. More cheers of encouragement as I headed down the road and turned back toward where the start/finish line was.
My watch beeped the third mile as I was heading in, way too soon before I would hit that finish line…but I just ran it in. There was no timing mat or anything…but here was this race…this amazing race…that I signed up for to honor my mom…and I crossed the finish line as the 3rd overall (there were 2 other guys ahead of me) and first female. I have no finish line photos, because my race photographer (aka: Cathy – the roomie) was in the actual race itself. I was announced as the first female and was complimented on my hair. A woman came over and asked me if I had run the entire race. I nodded and I told her I had done it to honor my mom and she pulled me in for a tight hug. I needed it.
I grabbed a bottle of water and went to the other side of the finish line to cheer in everyone, including the first survivor to cross the finish line. The survivors got medals, and it was just so amazing and moving to see them all come in. I cheered in strangers, team members, and just enjoyed this part of the race. And, even though I had one of my strongest races, one of my best 5Ks in years…this wasn’t one giving out age group awards or placement awards. And none of it mattered to me at that moment. My mom was the reason I was there, knowing all that she had gone through over the span of the year, and was still currently fighting through…and that finish line moment was for her. Knowing I raced the best I could that day to honor her battle was award enough. Third overall…first female…strong day that morning.
So, the reason I have the asterisk by my time is not just because the race measured short on my watch…but because it was honestly not timed, and truly…the real finishes that we should celebrate are those who crossed that finish line having gone through or are currently going through treatments. I hope to return to this one again next year.
To those of you who were on my team, whether you were able to run that morning or not…THANK YOU!! Your show of support meant the world to me and I am honored to have such amazing people in my life.