Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #15

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhew.  I was hoping for the weeks to feel a little less daunting and less of a grind, since I hit that last 20+ miler last weekend.  But, apparently, my coach had other plans for this week.  I warned you…he’s very nontraditional when it comes to the taper.  That being said, I was expecting some room to breathe, so when I woke up Monday morning to my schedule (I go to bed before children go to bed…and sometimes I don’t have my schedule Sunday night before I go to bed…and this week, it came through 2 hours after I had already gone to bed), I was a little bit surprised.  I wasn’t thrilled with it…but I know there are methods to what my coach prescribes me in these weeks leading into my goal race…so I put my trust in him.

Take a deep breath…we’re diving right in.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

I knew with every run this week having some sort of speed component in them, I really needed to pay attention to those that instructed me to run a base pace, or easy, and do exactly that.  My Monday morning run is generally the same every week.  So the fact that I didn’t have my schedule prior to going to bed wasn’t stressing me out at all.  The only addition to this week’s Monday run was the inclusion of the strides at the end.  This run went well.  I kept things controlled and easy for 7 miles.  I had been struggling in Florida with any sort of speed, and despite the heat and humidity, I managed to turn out some decent strides without feeling bad about my effort.  I did my additional hip strengtheners during my stretches that morning.  And I met with Corey, who did a full-body workout with me outside…which was insane and challenging.  Let me tell you, I was still feeling it two days later.  I did put in extra time that evening (after some further meal prep) to stretch and foam roll.

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

Welcome to Day 2 of some sort of speed element in my running this week.  Let me tell you, I run 6 days a week, and 5 of them included something that involved speed.  This is my nightmare.  BUT…at least he gave me my favorite of the speed workouts he throws at me – 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 really good during the actual workout…but I had a few bumps in the road.  Not literally.  First of all, there was a woman riding around on her electric scooter with a mean, yappy dog VERY early in the morning.  And it was barking and coming at me, and at one point within my first mile, decided to chase me (there was no avoiding her), and it ripped the leash from the lady’s hand (and the handle cover off her scooter) and made for a very awkward situation and way to start.  I actually paused for a few minutes to let them scoot on away so I could, possible, stop encountering them along the way.  I don’t have a track (and it is currently WAY too warm to wait until the evening to do the track workouts with the local running store), so I do these on the road.  And for a bunch of these intervals, I need to cross a main road.  And this week…there happened to be a LOT of traffic at the time I chose to run.  This rarely happens, but it does make me mad when it does.  That being said, I did power through the intervals.  The fast mile was a struggle because my legs were getting really tired and the humidity was wearing me out…but I finished it up, did my cool down, and happily went inside.  I did my second day (I do 2 days a week usually) of additional hip strengthener moves with my stretches.  And, progressively got a little more sore throughout the remainder of the day.  That night I did attend Ladies Night at our local running store, which kept me out later than usual, but I got to hang with some amazing friends, which made it worth it.

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.

Welcome to the one and only day this week that DID NOT include some element of speed.  Thank goodness I had one.  I woke up, still sore from personal training and very glad I didn’t have to push any sort of pace because of that.  I got to bed late, but as this was a run for me to choose the distance, I know I wouldn’t go too far, and if the soreness got worse, I would keep it really short.  I woke up later than my usual alarm (Thursday would be earlier, so it balances), got dressed, fueled, put on my gear and headed out.  It took about 2 miles for my legs to find a rhythm and to not ache as much in the muscles.  But they did feel better.  I was very mindful of any sort of pain, but as things got easier…the run also progressed.  Not with speed.  I still kept that down and under control.  I have enough speed happening this week…I wasn’t going to put any unnecessary energy into this run.  A recovery run did me good though, because I did feel the muscles loosen up and I felt a lot better afterwards.  I put in 5 easy miles…which I was thankful I was able to do and that my body allowed me to do that morning.  I did my stretches I got from physical therapy YEARS ago (the ones I do every morning and night) twice this morning, as I had a sports massage scheduled for that evening.  Corey texted to say he was sick, and very kindly didn’t want to give what he had to me.  I was thankful for that.  And I think my muscles appreciated an extra bit of time off.  The sports massage…was glorious.  I went to bed as soon as I got home though…because Thursday was the start of what I considered to be my hell.  HA!

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.

I barely slept the night prior.  I had set an early alarm…for 2:30 am, with the hope of fueling (which isn’t easy on a weekday), getting ready, and heading out the door by 3 am.  I did manage all of that, but damn…I was tired.  With having spent most of the night tossing and turning, I was not looking forward to doing this run.  But, I told myself to just take it easy, gradually ease into it, and just prepare for those final three miles.  My legs felt SO much better after the sports massage.  Seriously!  But I was just fatigued.  I had fueled with the Maurten 160 Drink Mix before heading out and had one of their new Maurten 100 Gels with Caffeine on me to take around Mile 9.5 (which I did).  It was a hot, humid morning.  Every now and again, a bit of a breeze would blow, but I was not enjoying having to squeeze in a half marathon distance on a Thursday.  It’s hard for me to do double digits on a work day.  It’s hard enough to fit in single digit runs, and since I never sleep well before these double digit ones (they don’t happen often…but when they do…), I know the logistics just stress me out to that point.  I made a good effort of keeping those first 10 miles easy.  Then, I threw down, the best I could, for those final three miles.  They weren’t impressively fast…but they were good enough for the day.  The second one had a few more turns than the other two, so it was totally slower than the ones that sandwiched it.  But…I got it done.  And 13.1 miles later, I was happy to BE done.  I showered and stretched and ate a protein-filled breakfast.  And I really hoped I would sleep better leading into my rest day.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I did sleep better leading into Friday.  That was good.  I slept in.  I showered.  I stretched. I finished packing.  I headed out to work.  I put in about 6 hours, leaving the office around 2:30 pm.  I went and picked up my order of “magic sushi,” loaded it into a cooler and headed up to Indianapolis for the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben.  I have never done this race before.  But I stopped by the hotel, dropped off bags (and put my sushi into the fridge), went to the expo to pick up packets (I was grabbing my friend’s , went to Fresh Thyme (I left my pre-race breakfast at the office in my rush to leave, so I found a good replacement with Brekki Blueberry Overnight Oats, Julie’s Real Cashew Butter (coconut vanilla bean flavor), and some waters for the room and pre/during/post race things.  Then we hit up Noodles & Co. so Cathy could grab herself dinner before we returned to the hotel, turned on Food Network to watch Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, and eat dinner.  I stretched and foam rolled, then…stayed up until about 9 before calling it a night.

Saturday: INDY HALF MARATHON AT FORT BEN AT MARATHON PACE

Okay…let me be the first to admit that I ran this WAY faster than marathon pace.  But, it was 47° outside.  And while I had another restless night…I was feeling good.  I connected with Kelly first thing in the morning when we got to the giant parking lot they parked us in.  So we hung out before the race, which was fun.  I don’t get to hang with friends ahead of a race very often.  With the fall air here, the bon fires at the start were nice and we hung there until we had to get into our corrals.  I will do a full race report on this, but let’s just say this…I felt strong for the entire run, even on the giant hills.  I knew I was running well because the 1:40 pacer was behind me the entire time.  And in my head, I kept reminding myself that my goal isn’t to PR…it’s to run a race at marathon pace.  The pacers in that group were phenomenal and while I didn’t run with them, I went and thanked them after the race itself.  I would go back and run this one again in a heartbeat.  Great race.  And I am only 21 seconds off of a new PR in this distance.  Knocking on the door of a breakthrough.  After the race, I showered, packed up, went to Woody’s Library Restaurant for lunch, grabbed some goodies at the gluten-free bakery up the way, went to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Half Price Books Clearance Sale (books were $2 and under), before heading home.  It was a lot of time in the car post-race and I did stiffen up some.  Got back and swung by the office to grab the breakfast I was supposed to have from the office so I could have it on Sunday, ran into Melissa, Paul, and Carrick.  Talked for a bit.  then went to get wheat we came for, returned home, didn’t unpack, just changed into pajamas, stretched, foam rolled, made popcorn, watched Top Chef…and went to bed.

Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

UGH.  I didn’t sleep well leading into Sunday morning either.  UGH!  What’s up with these restless nights?  Is it the change in the weather?  I need it to stop now, please.  I actually got up a few times, but nothing seemed to really work.  I eventually through my comforter over me, and that helped for a bit.  Maybe I need a weighted blanket.  But what this did leave me with was very little motivation to do this workout today.  I wasn’t feeling it at all.  I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and not move.  But, I eventually got up, stretched, fueled, got my stuff together, put on sunscreen, got dressed and got out the door.  I kept those early miles easy.  I wasn’t loving the return of the 70°  weather this morning.  Or the humidity.  But I think it’s going away after today.  The first 8 miles felt harder than they were.  My legs were tired from the race the morning before.  The last 5 miles that I pushed pace were trash.  Honestly, they were the hardest in a long time.  And, because I’m dumb, I used my hilly Thanksgiving course for the last 5 miles, which made it even harder to push that fast pace.  I was dying.  It was a HUGE struggle bus.  But I just took it for what it was.  I ran too fast yesterday and that was reflected in my performance today.  I wrapped it up, hoping for a bit of a break in the workouts next week.  I don’t want speed every day again. I really don’t.  I’m also going to be out late because I’m seeing Dear Evan Hansen tonight.  So, tomorrow should be interesting.

And that’s how I taper, I guess.  I run really fast for 5 out of 6 days of training.  And I’m sure the workouts aren’t done yet.  That’s just how my coach does “taper.”  And I trust him.  With my performance at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben, his methods are working.  But, dammit, I want to sleep, and feel rested, and maybe have a week to breathe.

We shall see.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #14

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhew.

Guys, coming back from vacation is hard.  I mean, you have a routine, you get off your routine (like…by a lot), and then you try to fall back into your routine…yeah…it’s not easy.  Not at all.

That being said, we had some cooler mornings this week.  I enjoyed two runs in the low 50s this week, which felt glorious.  I mean…I was still comfortable in a tank top and shorts and I didn’t feel like I was being weighed down by heat and humidity.  What a difference from the Caribbean and Florida, eh?

But the weather had some fluctuations in it.  And the other mornings I ran, we were up 20 degrees in the 70s.  No rhyme or reason to when these occurred…but of course it heated up just in time for my 4th and FINAL 20+ miler this weekend.

Now that I’m back on schedule…how about we dive into this week?  I had an extra rest day, which made for 5 days of running…and I could actually tell a difference.  Interesting.

Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! TRAVEL DAY!

What can I say?  I had an early-ish flight out of Orlando to get back to Louisville.  And while I could have squeezed in a run around the resort, I didn’t have to get up early to do so.  My coach gave me the day off.  So, I also didn’t have to try to fit it in when I got back, allowing me to be relaxed on the flight, enjoy lunch out with my friend Melissa (who was kind enough to pick us up at the airport) and get home, unpacked, and get some groceries, because…we literally had NO food in the house.  After running some laundry and doing the stretches I couldn’t do while on vacation (French Quarter had a hard wood floor) due to the way the rooms (on the ship and on the resort were) and also the amount of time I had to squeeze in runs every day…that just didn’t happen.  My body thanked me…especially when I got to foam rolling.  I went to bed around my normal time.  Trying to get back on my routine.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

This was basically the same run I had on the last day in Orlando.  The one where I felt like I was flying, but really I wasn’t.  HA!  Well, it went so much better.  This was one of my 50 degree mornings.  Seriously…even with it being my first run back from my 8 day trip, my legs and body responded well.  Even the strides went better than they had in Florida.  LOVE!  I was happy with the end result…definitely felt like I was getting my legs back under me.  In addition, I did my extra hip strengtheners that I hadn’t been able to do while on vacation.  They felt good to get back to, for sure! 8 miles total for the day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Aside from some stomach issues that morning, this workout didn’t go too bad.  I only missed the interval speed on one of them (the 5th) but it was close and I rallied to hit the last 2 with some time to spare.  So, I mean, I wasn’t mad at it at all.  This morning was in the 50s again.  So, that made the 800s feel good.  I used the rest time to lightly jog, because that recovery is important to being ready for that next push.  And with 7 of them on tap, I wanted to be ready.  I ended with 11 miles for the day, with almost perfect 800s right in the middle.  I’ll take it.  Made sure I was properly fueled ahead of this, using the Maurten 160 Drink Mix.  It just works for me.

Thursday: 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.

Ahhh…recovery run.  The temperature was back up into the 70s this morning.  So, basically 20 degrees warmer than the previous day.  Glad it happened on a recovery run day instead of speed work.  Dodged that bullet.  I just let my legs go however they wanted, while making sure I kept it in recovery mode.  With my long run still looming over the weekend, I didn’t want to overdo anything.  I relaxed, kept my heart rate down, and rounded out the weekday runs with just over 5 miles.  I also did my second day of my additional hip strengtheners because it was the last day I had to work them in.  I try to do them twice a week.  Was surprised I managed this week.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Second (which is weird for me) rest day of the week.  What did I do?  Slept in.  Seriously.  I even went to bed early the night before.  YAY!!  Took a shower.  Stretched.  Ate breakfast.  Had coffee.  Went to work.  Went out for (MAGIC) sushi for dinner.  Stretched more.  Foam rolled.  Went to bed at 8 pm.  I had an early morning ahead of me and I wanted a full 8 hours of sleep.

Saturday: LONG RUN: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT!! AND PRACTICE RADE DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

I was really happy to hear from my friend, Ron, on Friday asking what my run schedule was.  I have two weekend runs, but Saturday was my beast.  22 miles.  My last 20 miler in this series (and my 4th one…the most I have ever done in a training cycle).  Ron was good for 10 miles with me (possibly more), so I made arrangements to meet with him at 7:30 at the Greenway to run.  I got out at 6:15 am to hit the streets and get in 8 miles ahead of those miles with Ron.  It was warm (71 degrees) and humid that morning, but while the sun was down, it wasn’t too bad.  But the moment that sun rose above the clouds, it got hot.  Fast.  Ron and I stuck it out, with the last couple of miles being hard.  But, while he was done, I still had about 4 to go.  And, the route home didn’t have much in the line of shade.  I did practice my race day fueling, knowing exactly how I am going to space out my Maurten 320 Drink Mix and my Maurten 100 Gels.  I have it down and I feel like, as long as it isn’t hot (and it might be) in November…I finally got fueling and hydrating down.  I actually finished off the water in my hydration pack today (which had 2 Nuun tablets in it).  It was a hard run due to heat, but I remain confident and feel strong…and feel that Monumental is shaping up in a good way.

Sunday: 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.

Being back on a schedule was a glorious thing.  Because, despite having a soccer match on Saturday night (that kept me out later than normal)…I was up and ready to chase my sunrise.  I love having recovery runs on Sunday because I can wake up and head out just as it’s getting light out and the sky is turning gorgeous colors.  I make it up to the park just as the sun is climbing over the lake and it’s…my favorite thing to take in on Sunday.  It was nice not to have a distance run or a run where paces needed to be hit because I really enjoy these runs.  I ran comfortably.  Didn’t push it on the hills.  And got in 5 easy, recovery miles.  Perfect way to wrap up the week.

I do believe that my unofficial, official, untraditional taper now goes into effect.  My coach doesn’t taper the usual way…in fact, while mileage might be down a little, usually it’s the intensity that he takes down a notch.  So…we shall see where we go from here.  Race day keeps creeping closer.  But this week was much easier with an extra day off and sliding back into my usual schedule.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #12

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWell, originally, this week was going to be a down week.  Extra recovery.  Because I raced pretty hard last Sunday.  BUT…I reminded my coach that I was leaving the following week for a cruise and a Disney World venture…so, he shifted weeks and had this one be a bit of recovery, but keeping one day of speed work and shifting my third (and maybe last? Maybe not?) 20 miler to this weekend.  Whew.

I won’t lie, my legs felt pretty flat for most of this week.  And the heat and humidity returned…which also sucked.  I know hot training days equal cool, fast, amazing fall marathons.  But it’s still tough and I’m not always the best at adjusting expectations.

This week…I adjusted expectations because speed work morning was close to 80 degrees long before the sun came up.  So, it was a challenging, and it really didn’t go to plan at all (save for the first mile, but more on that later)…but for the first time, I didn’t beat myself up over it.  I let it be what it was that day.  And I moved on.

So…let’s hit up this week, shall we?

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

It was the morning after the Downtown Doubler and I was relieved he set this as an easy, recovery run.  Short and sweet too.  Whew.  I hardly slept Sunday night leading into Monday morning.  My left hamstring was still tight from the race, despite having stretched and foam rolled.  Mostly, I was tired.  So my heart rate stayed VERY low and my pace was just where I felt it needed to be.  I had my watch covered and never once even looked at what I was running.  In the end, I managed 4 miles, my usual recovery run right now, and called it a day.  I did go ahead and do my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning stretches.  Because I had a hard race, my personal training session was cancelled for the additional time to recover.  And I did do that extra foam rolling to help with that hamstring.  Guess what?  It worked.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

I had gone to bed early and managed some better sleep.  Oh, and the hamstring definitely felt better.  Much better.  But my legs still felt flat on this run.  I took it easy, but it felt harder than it should have been.  And I actually checked my pace at the end of the run, and it was a pace that shouldn’t have felt that hard.  I wasn’t running great at the moment.  It happens, right?  Heavy legs don’t last forever, right?  I pushed the strides, but they didn’t feel as fast as I could usually run either.  I let it be what it was for the day.  Did my morning stretches and tossed in the extra hip strengtheners as well.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TEMPO RUN – 1 MILE WU; 3X2 MILES AT TEMPO (7:20-7:50) W/ 0.5 MILES RECOVERY; 1 MILE CD

Like I said…it was 80 degrees before the sun came up.  The humidity was not fun either.  In fact, it made the real feel close to 85 degrees.  Isn’t it September?  I don’t want winter, by any means, but some cooler mornings (not cold, cool) would be nice. I went through my warmup and it felt…hard.  UGH.  Not a good start.  But I told myself that I was going to just push hard and use the recovery to…well…recover.  I managed to hit the actual tempo pace ONCE in the entire workout.  The FIRST mile.  That was a 7:32…from there…it went off the rails.  7:52, 7:52, 7:58, 8:02, 7:57.  Recovery got slower each time too with one of them in the 9s.  It wasn’t a good morning for speed work…but I did put in the effort and that meant I was actually okay with it.  I met with Corey that afternoon for a killer core workout.  I say that because my abs were actually sore through Saturday.  How’s that for some personal training growth?

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

I kept the going to bed early thing going because I had some early wakeup calls.  When the runs get longer, the bedtimes get earlier because the wakeup times get earlier.  The air was thick and humid again, but the legs were actually starting to get some pep in their step.  So, while it still wasn’t where I wanted the easy run to be, feeling-wise, it felt better.  And my strides, still slower than I know I can push them, didn’t feel as daunting today.  I fit in my stretches and foam rolling right after work, because I was cooking up a special dinner to have with friends before we left on vacation.  They were bringing their adorable baby over and I was making Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts for everyone.  It was a fun night and…a late one for me…but worth every moment.

Friday: REST DAY!

Because of the later night, I slept in as long as I could before needing to get up, shower, and do my stretching.  It was a crazy-busy day at work, but it was also Favorite T-Shirt Day.  My co-worker, Kayla, gifted me with a Murderino t-shirt and I had to wear it ASAP!  It’s my new favorite.  For those of you who listen to the My Favorite Murder podcast…you know.  I had a hair appointment that night, and Lauren not only cut my hair back up…and then French braided it.  From there, a late night dinner of my “magic sushi” at Dragon King’s Daughter.  It had to happen.  I had that 20 miler staring me down on Saturday morning.  I went home, stretched, foam rolled, and immediately called it a night.  I had an early morning, because I was starting before the sun came up.

Saturday: LONG RUN: 17-20 MILES – GOAL 19 MILES – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT!  AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY

I got up 2 hours and 15 minutes before I’d have to leave for my long run.  I took my vitamins, drank 20 ounces of water, ate my overnight oats, stretched, did 50 pushups (I do this daily), fueled again with my Maurten 320, put on sunscreen, filled my hydration pack with 40 ounces of water with my Nuun tablets in them, and prepared to hit the road.  I left at 6:40 am and ran the first 5 miles of my 20 miler on my own.  I met up with Ron to run the Greenway (if you haven’t run it…DO IT).  He did just over 11 miles with me.  And they were great.  We talked the entire time, had some shade in spots, and then…were blocked by a train.  Just like after the Downtown Doubler.  REALLY!?  We did manage to run the flood wall and get across the tracks before the train started up again and we ran back to his car.  Here we parted ways and I did the final four miles back to the apartment.  From there, I showered, ate breakfast, went to run some errands, picked up some pho and spring rolls for my friend Natalie, visited with her while she gave me (my favorite) homemade birthday present.  Who else LOVES homemade gifts?  Then we finished up our errands, came home to eat dinner, PACK…because we hadn’t packed yet…and then watched Inside Out.  I was a lot for just one day…but I think we are mostly ready for our trip.

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 3-4 MILES EASY/RECOVERY RUN.  SLOW!!

No real time for an early bedtime.  Not with everything that needed to happen.  But I got up with enough time to fit in my 4 miles, a shower, and breakfast.  Stretching and foam rolling would have to wait for the time being.  We had an early flight to catch.

And now…vacation mode.  This was supposed to be a trip where training didn’t have to happen (because I’d be in recovery from the Erie Marathon).  I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason.  So, while I do have to train on this trip…and have two back-to-back mid-distance runs…at least I’ll relax and enjoy my time away.  Deep breaths.

Should be an interesting week…

Also…8 weeks out!

Downtown Doubler 15K/30K – New Albany, IN (September 8, 2019)

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Me finishing the Downtown Double 30K – New Albany, IN

Race: Downtown Doubler 15K/30K

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: September 8, 2019

Time: 2:26:39

I can’t miss a race when it happens on my training grounds, right?  RIGHT?!  Also, it totally coincided with my marathon training and worked as my weekend long run.  Also, as I have never ran a 30K, it would be an automatic PR for me too. Can’t argue with any of that!

Welcome to my past Sunday morning!

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My “magic sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter.  Fueling my long runs this training season.

Treating this as I have all my long runs leading into my marathon thus far, I went to get my “magic sushi,” at Dragon King’s Daughter the night before, because it’s been working as night-before-a-long-run fuel.  And why mess with something when it’s working, right?  Also, I got up as if it were a usual long run morning, giving myself plenty of time to hydrate, eat a small bowl of overnight oats, get dressed, slather on sunscreen, fuel with my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and get to the start of the actual run.  I had 40 oz of water (and 2 Nuun tablets) in my Nathan Hydration vest, and was carrying a Maurten 100 Gel for when I felt I might need it.  Other than that, I was wearing the new Newton Distance 8 and all the pink I could find in honor of my mom!  I had actually slept really well after going to bed early the night before, so I felt good.  Not even nervous.  Not even with the change from “using this as a training run” to having to throw down about 7/9 of the race at Marathon Pace.  THAT…I was NOT excited about.

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MRTT/SRTT group photo! Love these ladies!

But I had a plan.  Use the first 2 miles as a warm-up.  Then hit it at my marathon pace for the next 10-14 miles (whatever my legs were feeling that day).  Use the last 2.6 as a cool down, perhaps kicking it back in for that 0.6 at the end (although I usually don’t have a kick).

Did that happen?  Ehhhhhh…

As I stated previously, I arrived to the start of the race about 30 minutes prior to the actual start.  I met up with my friends Laura and Michael, and we decided to make use of the flushing toilets while there weren’t any lines.  They went to warm up, and I met up with Christine and the rest of the MRTT/SRTT group that was in attendance at the race.  A group pictures was taken and we all started to make our way to the start line to line up.

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Ron, Christine, and I starting the Downtown Doubler together

I was originally going to run this with Christine, but with my marathon paces now having to be a thing, it wasn’t happening.  Dang it.  We did meander to the start line together though, her laying out her plan to execute in the race.  Our other running partner, Ron, was doing the 15K and was going to start with us.

We were given the basics on the course.  Turn around at the cone.  And 15K come in to the finish on the right side…30K, stay to the left and make the turn to head back out.  It was a 2 loop course for those of us doing the 30K.  And in my head, I was thinking how smart the 15K people were.  HA!  After that…the horn sounded and we were off!

I took off and ended up running with Ron down the stretch leading into the first mile.  I could tell we were going fast.  Faster than a warm up would have been.  And when we hit the first mile he shouted that we were at 7:28.  He said he was going to race, I told him to go on, but opted to just run the first 10-14 miles fast and back off and cruise in at the end instead of my initial plan.  I mean…I just did a 7:28…might as well keep with the momentum.  I remained about what I figured was about 1/10 of a mile behind him on pace through the first 4 miles.  At the turn around point, he grabbed water and I skimmed past him.  He caught up with me and as we were coming into the 7th mile, he said, “At this pace…slow it down at Mile 10.”  I promised I would.  We headed up the hill, and after crossing the flood wall, I went down the hill and remained just slightly ahead of him at this point.  I took the rest of my Maurten at Mile 8 and headed to the turn-around point to make the loop and head back out.

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Heading out for the second loop! Halfway there!

At Mile 10, I still felt good, but I did ease off the accelerator.  Slightly.  Ron was right…I didn’t want to work up a recipe for injury, but my miles were still really fast.  Apparently he said told Cathy that I was going too fast.  But, as promised, I did ease back a little.  With the looped route, I did get to see my friends at different points on the course, and cheer in the leaders as they passed me as I was heading into the turnaround point.  It was fun.  And, as I said, I’ve run the Greenway so much, my legs knew when the hills hit and when the wooden bridges would slow me down…all the things.  When I did turn around at Mile 14, I did ease it back even more.  I knew that Daniel didn’t want me racing the whole thing, because that would mean a lot more recovery time.  So, I went to my base pace speed and started to make my way back to the finish line.

Here is where I want to give a HUGE shout-out…

…to the Urban Bourbon people at the water stop were AWESOME.  They called everyone out by name and cheered them on.  And that was AMAZING.  I loved it.  And since we 30K peeps saw them 4 times, it was nice to always have someone cheering you on on what would have been a lonely course otherwise.

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Me with my medal after finishing the Downtown Doubler 30K

At Mile 16, I went ahead and took my Maurten 100 Gel to give me a little push to the finish line.  I had to run up the last of the hills heading over the flood wall again, and my legs fought it a little bit here.  But I just eased up it and rode the downhill on the other end.  I knew I was heading into my last 1.6 miles…and technically, my watch was a bit behind where the mile markers were placed.  I was running with my watch covered, so I wasn’t sure how much it was off…I just knew it was.  Whatever.  It happens.

I knew the finish line was close though, so for that last half mile, I found myself picking the pace back up. I felt amazing, mind you.  I fueled properly…I hydrated every mile…I felt like I could have kept going.  And as I headed into the finish line, I had friends there holding out hands for some high fives.  I gladly gave them.  And I was shouted out at the finish line, and they even said I looked like I could have kept going.  It was a good morning for me and I was thankful to have the strength, endurance, and speed to carry me through the miles.

The course was 18.52 miles according to my watch…so I did a cool down, easy jog, to get me to the 18.6 miles total.  I received my medal and then had to wait around for official results to post to see if I placed at all in my age division.  It took a little bit of time, but that was okay…because I got to cheer in quite a few of my friends while we waited.

IMG_4748Turns out that I came in 2nd in my Age Group.  I was surprised (my age division is pretty competitive).  That was a nice bonus for sure.  After cheering in more people, Cathy, Ron, Shawn and I decided we would head up to Heine Bros. for coffee.  So, up the stairs (that sucked, BTW) we went to head over the tracks.  And I heard the train.  And then the train stopped.  And then the train didn’t move for 30 minutes.  I sat on the stairs and just waited it out, but some people climbed up onto the cars (and some ducked under the train) to get to their cars.  It wasn’t worth the risk of death, honestly.  I called it the “Darwin” test and really got pissed when a guy with a toddler did it.

The train did clear out and we all met up for coffee and some chatting.  Then I went home to shower, grocery shop, shop for last minute trip stuff, and await my schedule from my coach for the following week.  I had a good race.

My official results of the Downtown Doubler 30K are that I finished in 2:26:39…which is now my standing 30K PR.  This world needs more 30K races, for real.  I did look at my 15K split and I was only 3 seconds behind my 15K PR (set at The Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY back in 2013)…so that’s a win, right?  I was 28/108 finishers overall. I was 9/51 female finishers. And I was 2/11 in my age division.  I had a great time at this race.  There was so much support from the other runners, the water stops, the finish line, and the turn-around point.  This was definitely a confidence boost I needed in my training.  I will take those because they have been few and far between.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #9

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornEver feel like a week was out to get you?  I felt that way the moment my coach sent through this week’s plan.  It was stacked.  It was asking a lot on my speed work days.  It was challenging me.  I knew it would require earlier bedtimes and early wakeup alarms.  And I was prepared for it.  But…it seemed the universe had other plans for me…

Let’s dive in…

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

After spending so much time last weekend in the heat and humidity, the last thing I wanted to do on Monday morning was get up and head out into the heat and humidity.  I was happy to have the easy, recovery run.  I got up and got dressed to head out on my run and…thunder and lightning started.  I was NOT happy with that.  I was prepared to head to the gym if needed, but it seemed to pass as I started my stretches.  Without the sound of thunder or lightning flashes, I headed back out and just took it easy.  My watch was covered…and I started to concern myself a little more with a strange white truck that would just pull around and park and sit…and it kept doing this.  I ended up looping my mace over my hand just in case, but it ended up driving off and didn’t return as I finished up.  Despite the late start, I got in an easy 7 miles.  I was soaked because it was SUPER humid outside, so I went inside to shower and finish up my stretches with the additional hip strengtheners.  I also met with Corey that afternoon for my personal training session.  He had some fresh hell in store for me.  Plyometrics.  Box jumps.  Push ups.  LOTS.  My knees and, strangely, my ribs felt those box jumps the rest of the week.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: MARATHON PACE – 1-2 MILES WU; 6-8 MILES MP; 1-2 MILES CD

What can I say?  I really, really wanted to push myself on this and test my endurance.  It was HUMID and close to 80 degrees at the start of this run…which happened to start prior to 3 am.  No joke.  I did go inside to get extra water and electrolytes and stopped just a few times to utilize them.  But this run went better than I anticipated.  Considering my legs were really feeling my personal training session, I was a bit nervous about how this would go.  That being said, the longer warmup did help and once I got loosened up, I started to feel better and better.  I did use my Aftershokz headphones again…and loved that when it started to get hard, John Parr’s “Man in Motion (St. Elmo’s Fire)” came on, followed immediately by this year’s theme song, Panic At The Disco’s “High Hopes.”  It was enough to keep me going and pushing a little more.  My iPod keeps dying though on some of these hotter runs, and at first I thought it was the headphones, but now I’m pretty certain it’s the iPod.  Probably from the amount of sweat my body is producing.  Can’t help that.  But I got in just over 12 miles on a Tuesday morning.  Went inside to shower and stretch.

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.

Same run as last week.  Same instructions.  One month of it now.  This time, however, I didn’t opt to go to spin class.  I really wanted to go, but I needed to fit in a second round of my hip strengtheners AND…I had a major speed workout on Thursday, so I needed refreshed legs.  My personal training session was cancelled because Corey comes over from Kentucky and…Trump was in town and shutting down roads.  This is also why I didn’t get a soft pretzel.  MEH!  So, I put in 4 miles, just like the weeks before, and then showered, did my PT exercises and stretches with the additional hip strengthening stuff and called it a day.  I was still sore in my knees (weird for me…my knees never bother me).  I hope to get back to spin this coming week.

Thursday: TEMPO RUN – 1 MILE WU; 3X2 MILES AT TEMPO (7:20-7:50); 0.5 MILES RECOVERY; 1 MILE CD

If there was any doubt that this wasn’t my week…try waking up for the second time to thunder, lightning, strong winds, and heavy rain.  It was insane.  It was loud and violent enough that my friend, Melissa, texted me to make sure I wasn’t outside in the storm and if I was if she needed to come get me and take me home.  Do I have amazing friends, or what?  I kept hoping that the storms would pass, but they hung around all morning.  So, I did my morning stretches and then got my stuff together and…drove through light rain, but the lightning and thunder, to the gym.  Where I did my speed work…on the treadmill.  This was a huge step for me.  Running fast on a treadmill gives me A LOT of anxiety.  But, my friend, Jim wasn’t able to swim due to the storms, so he came up and ran on the treadmill next to me and kept me company.  I started off with an easy run and when that first mile was done, I pushed the speed up to 7:47.  It was all I dared to do on the treadmill.  In hindsight, I could have pushed it more, because I did get comfortable with this pace in the 2 mile pushes.  When I started the first one, I really, really wanted to stop…but Jim was there…and that would be really stupid to stop so soon into the push.  So, thanks to Jim…I actually did the workout as I should have.  YAY!  I was happy to have it done, and started to get some confidence back about working some speed and distance on the treadmill.

Friday: Per the usual…complete rest day.  Sleep in.  Shower.  Stretch.  Read.  Drink coffee.  Head into work.  Get magical sushi.  Prepare for Saturday long run.  This is how I rest day.  I take it super seriously.  I used to think I could ignore actual rest.  Do that “active recovery.”  Let’s face it, friends…active recovery is basically not resting.  IT. IS. OKAY. TO. TAKE. A. DAY. OR. TWO. OFF.  I promise, you’ll actually be fitter for it.  So, I kept it lowkey.  I got my sushi.  I stretched.  I did it all…and I went to bed early so that I could get up early and head out for my long run.  Alone.  Again.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: 17-20 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTIVE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

Okay, first of all…this run was pretty much done at or under my marathon pace for MOST of the miles.  But I honestly wasn’t pushing the pace at all.  Not one bit.  I wanted to be super careful because my left hip flexor is acting up after pushing some speed work for 9.5 miles on a treadmill during Thursday’s thunderstorms.  The important takeaway from today was that I felt good.  The temperature was perfect.  The sun was out and the sky was clear, and yet it didn’t really wear me out or kill me on the run.  I hit hills, because they make you stronger, right…with the hardest hills coming in the final three miles of this particular route.  I felt good.  I did practice my fueling and really think I have it nailed down.  I am really thankful for finding Maurten and having something work SO WELL for me.  I seriously have endless energy…even at the end of a run.  I never crash.  I never feel like I’m dragging.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So, my pace might not look like I didn’t push it, but I honestly didn’t.  I feel good about this.  I am starting to have a phenomenal feeling about Monumental.  Then I went and sat out in the sun to watch Louisville City FC win against North Carolina at Slugger Field.  WOOT!

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 3-4 MILES EASY, RECOVERY RUN. SLOW!!

I, surprisingly, felt pretty good on Sunday morning.  I woke up, did my stretches and got ready to head out to chase my Sunday morning sunrise.  I didn’t push any pace.  I just took in the beautiful sky and headed up to the park to watch the sun come up over the lake.  It’s my favorite Sunday summer tradition.  It keeps happening later and later as the summer draws to a close.  It makes me sad, because I used to be able to get it in before there was much traffic or people milling about.  But not these days.  I did get to wave and say good morning to three very attractive firefighters on my way into the park, so I count that as a win!  I focused on the purpose of this run: recovery.  The hip flexor was still slightly sore…but it felt way better today than yesterday.  Will definitely do a couple rounds of rolling again today.

And with that…this week of training draws to a close. I’m proud of the effort I put in this week, and the miles that I managed to log.  This was a stacked and really tough week.  Again, I think that my coach is getting this out of the way now…so that when I’m on vacation, on a cruise, at Disney World…I can be a bit more relaxed with the training.  Crossing my fingers anyway.  Because a long run around a cruise ship is doable…but not my idea of a relaxing vacation.

Now I sit here and wait for what fresh hell this week brings.  I hope you all are having a good training  cycle this time around!

 

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #3

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhat a roller coaster of a week.  It had ups and downs and lots of emotional spirals that had nothing to do with the training itself…but life.  And people in my life.  Funny how outside stuff can affect you in different ways.  I will never learn that some people will always feel the need to try to tell me how to do things or what to feel…and some people will try to tear me down because they are unhappy with they are…and some people are just jackasses.

I’ve dealt with a lot of jackasses.  When I’m down, I don’t need to be kicked.  And when I’m up, I don’t need to be torn down.

With all that emotional baggage, let’s dive into this week.

Monday: Another Monday morning recovery run.  He wanted this to be SLOW so my legs would be fresh for the first of two speed sessions this week on Tuesday. He gives me a range and asks me to aim for the middle of the mileage.  My legs were a bit stiff from all the time on the treadmill at the hotel over the weekend, but once I found my stride, I felt good.  I kept the pace conversational.  This was a good run in and of itself and I ended up with the higher of the mileage range.  7 Miles total.  I also wasn’t meeting with my personal trainer this week, so I felt like it would all balance out in the end.  It can be a fine line between doing enough and overdoing it.  I wanted to be very cognizant of how I felt each day and adjust as needed.  I added my extra hip strengtheners into my morning PT exercises as well.

Tuesday: Speed work.  God…I hate speed work.  I value it and why it is part of a training plan (especially one where I need to be able to hit and maintain a certain pace)…but it doesn’t come easy for me.  Ever.  And this week, Daniel was hooking me up with some FRESH HELL.  My first ever 1600 Flat Pyramid workout.  This is what that looks like: 1 Mile WU; 400m-800m-1600m-1600m-800m-400m; 1 Mile CD.  I was instructed to do a 400m-800m recovery jog in between each rep.  And the effort on the reps should be “controlled hard” and likely faster than tempo pace, but not quite as fast as rep pace where I get a full recovery.  It wasn’t fun.  I wasn’t a fan.  But I got it done.  And I felt powerful at the end of it.  I squeezed in my second day of the additional hip strengtheners to the morning stretches and PT exercises.

Wednesday: Wednesday turned into a replay of Monday’s run.  So, I ran it exactly as I had done on Monday.  7 Miles.  Slow.  Easy.  This one ended up being a bit faster than the run I did on Monday…and I was pretty certain that would come back to bite me the following morning.  That being said, I was hoping that my time stretching and foam rolling would help counterbalance that.  I wasn’t checking my watch constantly, because that’s a bad habit that I don’t want to have…so I ran by feel.  I ran too fast.  No personal training this week…so that was it for Wednesday.

Thursday: Speed Work Session #2.  And it was a damn Ladder Tempo that I have yet to master.  This is the third time that Daniel has given me this particular workout, and it always seems to fall on the warmest morning of the week.  This was the same.  It was almost 90 degrees before the sun came up that day.  The Ladder Tempo works like this: 1 Mile WU; 3 Miles @ Tempo; 0.5 Miles Recovery; 2 Miles @ Tempo; 0.5 Miles Recovery; 1 Mile @ Tempo; 1 Mile CD.  The tempo part he wanted me to aim for a pace between 7:20-7:50, but to adjust as needed to run by feel in the heat/humidity.  I’m not good at altering things when paces are assigned.  And after the 2nd Mile of the first tempo…I paused and went inside to grab 2 bottles ice cold water…one to drink in addition to the water with Nuun in my hydration pack, and one to pour over my head.  I made plenty of stops to pull these out of the cooler and attempt to keep cool when I was dying.  I don’t mean to complain about the heat…and normally I wouldn’t…but the heat is KILLING me this year.  And it’s mentally draining when I’m struggling to hit paces that never used to be this hard.

Friday: Rest Day.  I stretched.  I hydrated.  I had my friend Michelle over for dinner, wine (I didn’t drink much because of a long run the next morning).  I stayed up late.  I laughed a lot.  I needed every moment of that.  Even if it meant I went into my long run a bit sleep deprived.

Saturday: Long Run.  I had 16-17 on tap this week.  My friend Christine had 14…so we arranged it so that we could do some of the run together.  The humidity lifted that morning, so it didn’t feel as dreadful out.  It was also the Bra Top Squad meet-up at Seneca Park.  So, Christine and I were going to run about 11 miles and then finish up at Seneca with the rest of the ladies that showed up.  The sun came out.  It did warm up, but it wasn’t the killer heat that had been mentally and physically tearing me down.  Christine and I tackled some hills together (which should make our basically flat marathon seem easy) and worked through our run to the meetup.  After the picture, we parted and I went on to run 6 more miles and ended with 17 for the day.  It was the lift I needed, to be honest.  I needed to feel good.  I was happy with it, even with the laps around the park for the final solo miles.  Cathy was on hand blaring inspirational music from her phone each time I passed.

Sunday: Recovery run day.  I had 4 miles to do, and I headed out early to fit them in.  I made sure to include one big hill…but I also had a nice downhill in the last mile.  I felt pretty good the entire time.  And I paused to take a couple pictures in the early morning light.  Then, I made breakfast and headed out to see Spider-Man: Far From Home at the theater.  After that…I had to finish up some grocery shopping, run some errands, meal prep, and finish up the second season of Westworld.  All of which I accomplished.

As of 8:15 pm tonight, my new schedule hasn’t posted.  But Monday usually is 6 easy miles…so I’m going with the theory that it will remain that way this week.  The rest…well, we’ll see.  But I need to get some rest.  So…stay tuned for (hopefully) some additional blogs this week.  And I’ll catch you all up on what happens this coming week after I work through it.

Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN (May 18, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN

Race: Geist Half Marathon

Place: Fishers, Indiana

Date: May 19, 2018

Time: 1:49:06

Time got away from me on this race recap as we are almost one month removed from it.  My apologies.  Marathon training is back in full swing (again)…and I’ve just been busy.  Even on weeks that haven’t had a stacked training plan.  Hey…I do have an actual job (if I could make a living is a blogger…that would be amazing, but it’s not my destiny) and some obligations that happened between then and now.  But…here I am…finally getting this written up.

I will preface it with this…going into this race, being only weeks off of a full-on marathon where I attempted (and almost hit) a BQ race, my coach and I agreed to use this one as a training run.  No pushing the pace.  Keep it easy.  And with the humidity and weather trending the way it was for Saturday morning, I was relieved that this was our decision.  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Let’s start on Friday evening, after leaving work around 2-ish to head up to Fishers, Indiana to get to the expo and pick up race bibs.  I say bibs, because once again, Cathy was taking a spin at the 5K.  We did hit some traffic jams, of course, but we finally arrived and I was ready to get my race stuff and do a quick walk through of the expo (it’s tiny…honestly) before checking into the hotel just up the way.geist01

The expo was simple to explore. You can do the first part of it as you enter St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital.  There are a few vendors, but nothing that I, someone from out of town, really needed to stop and check out.  So, Cathy and I maneuvered ourselves to the back of the room to the table set up for packet pickup.  I went to get my bib for the half, and Cathy went to get her special VIP bib for the 5K.  We don’t remember her signing up for VIP…but she had VIP.  So…who knows.  After that, we checked out the second half of the expo, simply walking past the booths, heading to the room near where we entered to pick up our race shirts.  The 5K was short sleeve.  The 10K was short sleeve.  The half marathon…long sleeve.  It’s an April race…if it’s not the really cool hoodie thing that I got last year…I want short sleeves.  But, the shirt was very nice…so I won’t complain.

That was it for the expo.  We were in and out in about 5 minutes and heading up the street to the hotel we stayed in last year.  Check-in took a bit longer than usual, because someone was checking in bunch of different people in different rooms (not sure for what, but it wasn’t for the race).  But eventually I got up to the front desk and got our room, up on the 2nd floor.  We hauled our luggage up to the room and now were waiting on our friend, Greg, to meet up with us so we could grab dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant (my new favorite place to grab food when in Indy).  It was taking a bit longer than expected because…traffic…so Cathy and I split a Clara Cookie that I had picked up at the Glass City Marathon expo in Toledo.  It was the Peanut Butter one.  And it was delicious.  And it was perfect to keep the tummy rumbles at bay while we waited for Greg.

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Pre-race Dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN: Spinach Mushroom Tacos with Sweet Potato Fries

He did finally make it and we headed down to see him, somehow missing him when we walked through the lobby.  We ended up doubling back and finding him.  Hugs all around before making the drive from Fishers to Carmel, Indiana to eat dinner.  We ended up finding a really good parking spot and were seated immediately at a corner table.

I had looked at menus online, so I was prepared and ready to go with my order.  Greg got the Triple Grilled Cheese and a beer.  Cathy got the Friday special of Fish & Chips (her favorite), and I got Spinach Mushroom Tacos.  I didn’t ask for extras or for hot sauce, because with the race the following morning, I was hoping to keep things mild.  With it, I got a side of the sweet potato fries (which are gluten free!).  We spent the time waiting on the food (it did actually take awhile, but they were PACKED that night) chatting and catching up on things that we had been up to.  And when food arrived, we dove in.  Tacos, however, are one of those foods that once you pick it up to eat…you’re committed and you just have to keep going on it.  So the tacos disappeared first…then I hit up the fries.  We all seemed pretty satisfied with our meals.  Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to hang out.  I did some foam rolling.  Greg left after a bit more talking and we got ready to get some rest with a 7 am start time staring us down.

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Cathy feeling good on race morning for the Geist 5K

I always set two alarms for race morning.  I got up with the first one to take a pill…use the bathroom, then crawled back into bed for another hour.  The second alarm went off, which is also Cathy’s alarm.  We’re actually really good about staying out of each other’s way…letting each one have a turn in the bathroom, and getting ready pretty quickly.  We have this race morning thing down.  So even early start times aren’t too stressful.

With the way the morning was heating up already, I went with the new Boston crop top that my friend Natalie got me as a gift for finishing Glass City in Toledo (even without the BQ). I love this crop.  It’s motivation in and of itself.  And…shorts.  My compression sleeves were pink to honor my mom’s continuing battle against breast cancer.  I made sure I had two Nuun tablets in my hydration pack’s bladder to help balance out electrolytes, because it was definitely going to be a sweaty race.

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Loving my new crop top that Natalie gave me…my outfit for the Geist Half Marathon

We left the hotel room early, but I forgot to grab something and had to go back in.  Cathy went down to the lobby without me, where she met a runner celebrating her birthday.  Her name was Katie, and not only was she a Disney runner, but she was Bib 34, celebrating her 34th birthday.  AMAZING!!  She was super nice and I actually ended up running into her again as she and her family were headed to the hotel pool as I was heading up for a shower and to pack up to head out for lunch and then get home.

Cathy loves parking at the school which used to host the expo for this race.  We never have trouble finding a spot.  And while it is a bit of a hike down to the start line, it is never hard to get to and from the parking area so we can get back to the hotel without any stress.  So…worth it.  We parked and made the walk toward the start area.  I got a text from my friend Jay, and I went and met him at the Fishers Running Club tent.  But, like I said…start time was 7 am….so while their club was getting their photo taken, I meandered down to check out the start line.  It was about this time that I realized that I had left my fuel (save for the Generation UCan I had for 20 minutes before the start) back in the hotel room.  I had enough UCan to get me through a half marathon…but with the heat, I wasn’t sure if I would need backup or not.  So, I was bummed.  Big time!  Whoops!

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Why am I so happy? No pressure pace race!

The 10K and Half Marathon start on the right of the line.  The 5K starts to the left.  So, after snapping a couple of photos, Cathy and I parted ways: she went to line up in the 5K corrals and I went to find a spot at the start for someone who wasn’t racing.  I was hoping for at least a 1:50 half…so I stood near that pacer.  The National Anthem was sung…and the lyrics were flubbed, but we were close now to the start.  I took in some water and readied myself for a training run with a medal at the end.

I made a point to stay just in front of the 1:50 pacer in the first mile.  There were a lot of people going all-out, full throttle from the start, and I really think this worked against them that morning.  The emcee announced that it was the hottest Geist Half Marathon to date!!  So, holding back I think helped me not have burnout, like I did last year when I just gunned it at the start and then ended up having walk breaks at water stops.  I don’t think walk stops are a bad thing, but when you’re gunning for a PR…it’s not exactly something you usually incorporate.

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Cathy and I pre-race…she’s about to head to the 5K side and I’m about to line up for the Geist Half Marathon

This year…I was supposed to keep the pace easy…and treat this as a training run.  Mostly because I was fresh off a marathon.  In the end, this tactic seemed to work for me.  I never really felt awful at all.  And I was able to run the entire time.  Was it my slowest Geist Half Marathon to date?  You better believe it!  Am I okay with that?  You better believe it.

I continue to come back to Geist, despite the heat and hills (dear, God, are there ever hills!), because of the atmosphere.  It’s stunning.  The race runs you through gorgeous neighborhoods, starting at the corner you turn soon after hitting Mile 1.  The people who live there come out with speakers and with treats and with sprinklers and with sidewalk chalk and cheer and encourage.  And it just makes you feel good.  You belong there.  The 10K and Half Marathon stick together for about the first 3 miles. Just before that Mile 3 marker, 10K runners are instructed to go left, while Half Marathoners are told to keep going straight.  This year, I was running near a young man who had his headphones in, wearing a 10K shirt and bib…and didn’t hear the instructions.  So, it seemed he was getting himself into more than he was ready for.  He was yelled at by volunteers at least 5 times.  THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HEADPHONES IN A RACE.  Or, if you must, keep that volume at a reasonable level, okay?

This is the point where we cross the reservoir again (we do it the first time as we head out from the start).  I love this part because it’s gorgeous, but also because there is usually a nice breeze coming off the water.  Love it.

The halfway point came and went.  I would normally fuel at this point…but I was just relying on that superstartch to get me through the heat.  I still felt good, mostly because I wasn’t really pushing any sort of pace…wanting to just keep my momentum moving forward without stressing over a goal time.  There were plenty of water stops along the way, and some cooling stations as well.  If there was water being sprayed at any point, you better believe I was running through it.  I used the water stops to grab the cups of water and pour them over my head.  Every stop.  Without fail.  Trying to keep that core temperature down.  This worked.  Honestly.

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Me running to the finish of the Geist Half Marathon

From everything to remember on this course, I always remember that Mile 9 is a giant hill that we have to run up.  I passed a few people on this, who had shuffled to the side to walk up it.  I gave a couple of people a “nice job” as I jogged my way up.  Hills are a MAJOR struggle for me.  So why do I do this race?  It’s my PR race.  On a harder course.  So…one day, maybe it will all click again.  It wasn’t that day though.  Nope.  Not that day.  Not in that heat.  At the bottom of the hill, we make a turn to head back toward the bridge to go back over the reservoir and then back into the neighborhoods and then back to the finish line.  It was at this point, a man behind me said, “Are there any more hills?”  The volunteer stationed there said, “I don’t know…maybe little ones?”  I laughed.  Out loud.  The last 3 miles are basically retracing the start of the race.  People were still out cheering, offering orange slices, water, whatever runners might need.  More importantly were those who would shout out that you were getting close…that the finish line wasn’t far…that we looked strong.  Some people who were struggling, they would ask if they needed anything.  Honestly.  THE BEST.

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Me crossing the finish line at the Geist Half Marathon

As I was making the turn at Mile 12, I passed my friend Jay.  He told me I “looked strong” and I decided to give picking up the pace a shot.  The road to the finish line always seems long, but as you get close, you get the crowd and you get the announcer.  I passed a few people.  Got passed by some people.  But, ultimately, entered that chute and ran towards the finish line.  I saw Cathy on the sideline and she started screaming at me to cheer me in.  With hands held up…I finished the race.  Another Geist Half Marathon in the books.

Cathy made her way over to the finishers area, and had me stand under the spray of a cooling station there.  It was nice and felt really good.  Jay found me as we were leaving to head up to the VIP area for Cathy to grab free beer and some snacks.  He invited me to stop in at the Fishers Running Club tent for any sort of refreshment.  I took him up on that before we went to get official results and let Cathy have one more go at the VIP area.  I have videos on my cell phone of her first go-round in the VIP section. HA!

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Cooling off at the cooling station

I went to get my results printed and after the paper was handed to me, I glanced at it and went, “Holy crap.  Third in my age group!”  For the first time…without trying or even racing…I once again placed in my age group.  This was becoming a fun trend.  I went to the awards table next door and was handed a little cinch bag with the words “Age Group Winner” on it.  I always have use for bags…but this one would have to be on display.  We then went back to the VIP section…Cathy went in for beer and fruit and I hung out on the curb near the gated off area.  We chilled for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the hotel room so we could cycle through showers and head back to Carmel to grab lunch at…yep…Woody’s Library Restaurant again.

So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:49:06.  It was my slowest Geist Half Marathon yet…but I felt good throughout it, never really fading.  That’s a testament to Generation UCan if you ask me.  So, I was 104/942 finishers overall!  I was the 18/450 women to cross the finish line. And I was 3/87 people in the my age division! How ironic is it that I finally snagged an age group award on my slowest finish time for this race?  In 2014 (my PR year), I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th.  In 2018, I was 5th.  Nailed it.  Somehow.  Without trying.

And yes…I can’t wait to have another spin around the reservoir next year!

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Unexpected Age Group Award at the Geist Half Marathon

Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, OH (April 28, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, Ohio

Race: Mercy Health Glass City Marathon

Place: Toledo, OH

Date: April 28, 2019

Time: 3:38:46

After a really good shakeout run using Glass City’s Savage 5K as just that (and somehow placing in my age group), I spent the rest of Saturday in my hotel room.  Sitting on my bed.  Feet up.  Eating.  Blogging.  Watching television.  Not out walking around Toledo.  Not hanging out at the expo.  Off my feet.  Foam rolling.  Stretching.  All of it.

I was really taking this prep seriously!  I didn’t actually leave the room until about 4 pm…when Cathy and I headed into Toledo to hit up Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery for dinner.  We had looked at a few places in Toledo, but it is so hard to gauge  how safe some places are, and some reviews on places I had been looking at weren’t so good on my Find Me Gluten Free app.  We were going to do my new favorite thing before a major race – sushi…but Toledo’s only safe sushi place only had the a vegetable roll, cucumber roll, or avocado roll for vegan options.  BOOOO!  I am lucky to have Dragon King’s Daughter for my vegan sushi needs in Louisville/New Albany.  As we were driving up to Toledo, my fellow Celiac blogger and Instagram friend, Margaret, was on her way down to Columbus for the Gluten Free Allergy Free Fest and posted about Organic Bliss.  They closed at 5 pm, so we went early and got there to figure out what we wanted for dinner.  And, of course, we would get a box of goodies to go back to the hotel with us.

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My Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich with a Chickpea Salad from Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery in Toledo, Ohio

The people there were very kind and gave us some time to look over the menu, and we finally came to our conclusions…Cathy went ahead and got the BLT with Chips.  And I went with the Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich (avocado, romaine, spinach, tomato, cucumber, black beans, papaya poppyseed dressing).  I got that with a side of the Chickpea Salad.  And then we boxed up some treats: A Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake, an Almond Scone, a Cranberry Orange Scone, a Cinnamon Roll, and the Peanut Butter Quinoa Bar.  We paid and went and took a seat in the corner while meals were prepared and brought out to us.

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All my baked goodies I took back to the hotel with me from Toledo, Ohio

Sandwiches before a race are a good back-up it seems.  And this sandwich was AMAZING.  I loved it.  And the Chickpea Salad was the perfect side.  Got some carbs, protein, healthy fats…perfection.  They were trying to get ready to close, so the floors were being swept and people were coming in for last minute purchases.  We finished up and headed out to go back to the hotel for the night. And you better believe Cathy and I split that Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake for dessert back at the hotel.

I went ahead and posted on my Instagram feed the motivation, the drive, and the reason I was running the following day: my mom.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January, just after the New Year.  It was a shock to my family and one that none of us were prepared for.  Right now, she is going through chemo, keeping her spirits high and her thoughts positive.  What a warrior.  This race, save for a couple of miles, was to honor her.  Mile 1, my roommate claimed.  Mile 26, my friend Natalie claimed,  And Mile 10 was in memory of my friend Tina’s daughter, Kinsley, who died in her sleep at the age of 10 a couple of days before I left for Toledo.  I would carry these honors with me respectively on the race course.

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My mom – she’s a warrior!

I did one last round of stretching and foam rolling while watching Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network…and got an onslaught of uplifiting and motivational gifs from my coach.  I do love my coach.  He has been amazing, even when training went slightly off the rails when I busted up my knees.  The gifs made me laugh.  And he threw in a Game of Thrones reference, so that was winning.  But, soon it was time to turn in for the night.  I set two different alarms.  One for me to get up and take my medicine and use the bathroom…and then go back to bed.  And then one for Cathy…which would be when I would get up and get dressed.  No surprise…I couldn’t sleep well.  And I shut off my first alarm before it even went off.  Tried to climb back into bed and wait for the other alarm, but then my mind wouldn’t shut off.  So, I got up and did my PT stretches for my hips…and then went ahead and started to get ready.  By the time the second alarm went off, I was pretty much dressed and ready to head out the door.  So, while Cathy got ready, I started prepping my hydration vest bladder with 1 liter of water, grabbed my Maurten gels to use as additional fuel on the run, and put on my clothes I would shed prior to the race.

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Race day ready!!

Because up in Toledo…it was 41 degrees on race morning, but with the windchill, it was in the real feel was in the low 30s.  They had been predicting snow…but thankfully that didn’t happen.  I had, thankfully, packed some clothes that I could wear over my race gear (and a back up short sleeve shirt since a tank top was the original plan for this race), so I felt like I was good in the wardrobe department.  I was glad I had the clothing to give to Cathy before I got into the corral, because I was cold in that wind.

We left the hotel early.  Like 5:45-ish early.  And we made the 20 minute drive to the University of Toledo, where we found a lot to park in.  And then…then was the walk to the start.  It was slightly drizzly, but Cathy had purchased some trash bags at Kroger so, we both donned them and set out down the sidewalk to get to the start.  It was a pretty big walk, but it was a good way to warm up for sure.  If you know Cathy’s history with directions, you will understand that I kept checking with her to make sure that she was on track to getting us to the start line, especially when random runners who were walking near us would veer off and we’d continue on…into the land of empty sidewalks and roads.  But, we turned at an intersection and I could hear the tunes of the start line, and they just so happened to be playing my theme song for this year, Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.”  It was a good sign.

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This was not the start line that I expected for a spring marathon. Wet, cold and windy!

We went to find a spot for Cathy to stand for the start of the race and just sort of made that base camp.  I stood behind her to break her from the wind.  We took a few photos.  I looked miserable.  I was miserable.  Spring marathons were not meant to be spent freezing.  At least, not in my opinion.  I drank my bottle of UCAN with 30 minutes to go and eventually, with about 10, shed my extra layers, save the trash bag, got a hug from Cathy, and headed to Corral B.

It was here in Corral B that I set out on my mission to find the 3;35 pacers.  The Web site had two of them listed, but as I hunted for the tiny yellow signs the marathon pacers held, I just couldn’t find any in my corral.  So, I went up to one of the half marathon pacers and asked him where the marathon pacers were.  He said that they should be in here…and asked which group I was looking for.  I said, “The 3:35.”  And he told me that there was no 3:35, only 3:30 and 3:40 and to find and line up with the 3:40 so that I start slow.  I was determined not to melt down or let this mentally get to me.  The National Anthem was about to be sung, and after that, I gave one last look around my corral for pacers….shed my trash bag, and decided I was going to have to pace myself this time.

That’s a scary thought  right?  But that was how it was going to be.  Corral took off and I saw the bobbing of the yellow pacer signs up there.  So…one more chance to check for them in my corral.  No luck.  None.  Deep breath. We were moved up toward the start line.  Waited two minutes.  And then…we were off.

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Just before Mile 4 in the Glass City Marathon

I reeled it in immediately.  Normally that race start is intense and the adrenaline is rushing and you just GO.  You bolt it out and find some space, but it uses up valuable energy, and I had been given a plan to follow, and while I couldn’t see the first 5 miles through with the pacer as the plan said, I wasn’t going to blow it up by going out too fast too soon.  I could hold it together and hold back.  Five miles.  I had this.  My coach wanted me to be around an 8:12-8:10 pace for these miles.  I did the best I could, and while a few of them were slightly fast, the last two were just slightly slower (not by much) than that pace.  Just before Mile 4, Cathy had found a spot on the side of the road to cheer. It was amazing.  Cowbell and all with a crowd.  I will say this, for being a smaller race, I never felt like I wasn’t supported out there.  Going into Mile 4 was a huge example of this.  Lots of people, even in the damp cold, just there to cheer on the runners.  It was great.

From Mile 6-15, I was supposed to maintain a slightly faster pace, not sprinting, not going too fast, but hitting those high 8’s.  And I managed this.  Holy crap, I was doing it.  And I felt good.  I didn’t feel like I needed anything, and technically with UCAN, I didn’t…but I didn’t want to run out of steam, and I have always been told to fuel early and often.  So, I took my first Maurten gel at Mile 6. Here we were guided through some neighborhoods, and people were down at the end of their driveways cheering.  Our bibs had names on them, so they would shout out your name and some encouragement as you went by.  Loved that.  While big races are all fine and good, this was the feel of a big race without all that big race stuff.

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Me heading into the finish line of the Glass City Marathon

It was actually just before Mile 10 that the half and the full marathons split.  This was clearly marked with big gates for the runners to go through.  The half marathon runners turned left, while we continued on.  This did bring the number of people around down some.  But, again, I never, ever felt like I was running alone.  At Mile 10, I fueled again (remember, early and often) and then I did give a point up to the sky and said Kinsley’s name.  She gave me some wings on that mile.

It is just before Mile 11 that the marathon course enters Wildwood Preserve Metropark.  We would actually run through this park twice on the course, but, trust me, it didn’t really feel repetitive.  The open streets we had been running on narrowed to a running/biking path, but it was paved and beautiful.  There were race volunteers out there, handing out water at the two water stops that were inside the park.  There was a band playing as well at some point.  On the first pass through the park, somewhere after Mile 12, we are sent to the right to run out onto the streets again.  I fueled again at Mile 14, and pressed on, still feeling strong and confident.  It was somewhere in Mile 16 that I caught up with the 3:40 pacers.

WHAT?!

Yep…the 3:40 pacer.  I shook this off, figuring that it was fine.  The problem was, I joined up with them as we were sent to run on the shoulder of a road, and in a pace group, that made for some tight, tight quarters.  This made my split at this mile much slower than I would have liked, but I was afraid of clipping runners ahead of me, or being clipped by runners near me.  This happened twice, if you recall, when I started with a pace group at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon back in November.  When I had an opening, I did pass and get ahead, able to stretch my legs back out and pick it back up.  I didn’t panic.  Not at all.  I just found my own pace again and was happy to not be in that pack anymore.  I had some breathing room and it took that anxiety away.  I fueled again at Mile 18 and just kept on going.

Just before Mile 20, we re-enter the park again, from a different entrance and make our way back through that path.  It was here that we have to navigate a small bit of an incline.  And it was here, that my legs slowed down and just wouldn’t pick it back up.  The final 10K…where I wanted to just maintain and keep going strong.  A tiny little bump in the elevation took the speed away from me.  I felt like I was picking it back up, but I wasn’t.  I truly wasn’t.  This time as we go to exit, if it’s your second loop, you turn left, and now you’re heading back out toward the university.  I still felt good, I just couldn’t find any sort of speed at this point.  We are still on this paved trail, and runners were scattered, but we were strong.  The 3:40 pacer passed me again.  And I didn’t fret or sweat it.  I did shed my gloves around Mile 22.  My hands were getting really hot finally.  And I was close.  I also took my last gel at this point.  Fuel for the final four miles.

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Me crossing the finish line of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon – Toledo, Ohio

There were some really perky and happy ladies running a friend in for his last few miles, who were fresh and really uplifting.  It was nice that they came by me because they definitely helpful in that stretch.  Around Mile 25, you can pretty much see the school.  You know that finish line is on the field of the football stadium, and you know…you really are almost there.  People are cheering.  Shouting your name.  Encouraging you.  Telling you how good you look.  How fast you look.  That you’re doing amazing.  I still felt good.  I still felt confident and strong.  I knew I wasn’t getting the BQ I had been training for, but I hadn’t glanced at clocks or my watch for time…just my pace.  I never peeked at it if it wasn’t buzzing at me for a mile lap.  I hit the turns to take the chute into the 26th mile…and then it was on to the stadium.  The crowd was amazing.  Loud.  Screaming.  I saw Cathy as my name was announced and I kicked as much as I could toward that finish line.  Crossing it…with my hands up.  I paused my Garmin and took a look at the time.

3:38.

I was just off of my BQ time by 3 minutes and off my goal time by 5 minutes.  I was so close.  I didn’t get my goal, but I was incredibly happy and proud.  I hadn’t hit the 3:30’s in a marathon since 2013, where I did it twice.  Both BQ times.  I was elated.  I cried.  Cathy came over after I got my Mylar and my medal and gave me a hug.  I told her I needed to put my feet up so we went over to the field and I laid down in the sunlight and propped my legs up on her.

Eventually, I decided that I did, in fact, need to move.  So, we headed out of the stadium to the runner finish area.  Here we collected my commemorative glass mug (you get it upon finishing), and went to the food tent.  I couldn’t eat anything, but poor Cathy was starving so she had my beer and pizza tickets, so I let her claim those.  I was feeling lightheaded, so I went to sit down and shiver in my Mylar.

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My Spicy Ginger Tofu & Ancient Grains bowl from Corelife Eatery

Cathy and just shown up when my Instagram friend, Scooby (who had a fantastic day as the 3:15 pacer) wandered by.  I called him over and we chatted for a minute, but he had just snagged some pizza and I didn’t want it to get cold…so we congratulated each other and I let him go.  Cathy had two beers to try.  The first one she hated, the other one she sipped on until I decided I was ready to go get warm with a hot shower at the hotel while she went to get me some coffee from Bigbee Coffee.  The walk to the car felt longer than it probably was, mostly because my body was tired and a little sore from the effort that day.  I eventually foam rolled, stretched, and went to get dinner at Corelife Eatery before seeing Avengers: Endgame that night (the theater was advertised as having reclining seats – it didn’t…and by the end, I knew I had made a big mistake).  It was a good day, and I am still basking in my accomplishment.  I think, next time, I’ll get it.

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Nothing is impossible.  Keep on dreaming!  Glass City Marathon Finisher!!

So, the official results of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon are that I finished in 3:38:46, making it officially my third fastest marathon and the first one back in the 3:30s since 2013.  HOLLA!  Stoked.  I was 408/1278 finishers overall.  I was 108/527 female finishes.  And I was 30/96 in my age group!  How amazing is that.  I felt good and strong the entire time, never letting any self-doubt or negative talk enter my head.  I was focused on the race at hand and the people I was running it to honor.  Marathon #15…done.  Now to find the perfect fall marathon to make the next attempt on that Boston Qualifying dream.

Remember…training rarely is linear…race day can throw so many factors at you…trust the process and remain focused on your own race that day.  You never know what you are capable of until you try.

CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (November 3, 2018)

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

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 3, 2018

Time: 3:46:17

“Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.”
~ Samuel Beckett

I admit it.  The results of the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon  were a hard pill to swallow.  In all honesty, I had hoped that my training, regardless of changing plans and going solo on it all…making it all up as I went, catching up on miles I didn’t get to run to build up that marathon base…I really thought it would be enough.  I didn’t feel like I was in marathon shape.  But I felt confident.

And, as we know…I crashed and burned soon after the 14 mile mark.  I finished.  But not with a time I was happy with.

Moral of the story.  Do NOT ever leave me along with an upcoming half marathon with the option to upgrade to the full marathon when I’m pissed off with my previous marathon performance.  Less than one month apart.  27 days apart, to be exact.  Because, I figured, hell, I was already in “marathon shape”…might as well try again with a different plan of action.  So, it happened.  I upgraded my registration to the full marathon (trust me, I was starting to doubt the wisdom of this the morning of the race, but I’ll get there, LOL!) and then…didn’t really broadcast it anywhere.  I told my training partner, Lauren.  My roommate, of course, knew.  And a couple of people at the gym who asked me what was next for me knew…but no one else.  Not. A. Word.

My plan for the days in between?  Recovery.  Easy runs.  Not a ton of miles.  Just easy, training runs.  I did maybe 3 speed intervals…all of only 4 miles.  My longest long run was 10 miles…last weekend.  Slow and steady with Lauren who took me on an adventure and kept the pace right where I wanted and needed it.  Some people like to pile on those miles and brag about weekly and monthly totals.  I have never been that sort.  And, honestly, it is a rare thing for me to ever hit 200 miles in a month, even during marathon training.  There is training and there is overtraining.  One of these benefits you.  The other leads to injury, burnout, and a plethora of other issues.  Just like pace, I don’t usually post my miles or mileage either.  Honestly, who cares other than me?

Deep breath.  Let’s start with the day before the race.

Thursday night was filled with packing and not trying to overthink anything.  Cathy picked out my outfit…she packed recovery wear, shoes, race gear, fuel, etc.  Everything I would need for another 26.2.  I made her pack capris because I was nervous it would be too cold at the start of the race for the running skirt she had picked.  She allowed for that…but nothing more.  We went to work as usual on Friday, planning to leave around 2 pm to make the drive up to Indianapolis.

I made certain that I got as much work done that I could in the time I was in the office.  Lunch was just a giant salad, made from all the fresh ingredients/produce that I had lingering in my fridge heading into the weekend.  We packed up, brought bottles of water that had our Nuun Immunity Tablets in them.  If you haven’t tried them…HIGHLY recommended!  And we hit the road, with our mid-day snacks to get us through the drive and the expo before heading to dinner.

We hit a small amount of traffic on the way, but we made it to the Omni Severin Hotel, in downtown Indianapolis.  Honestly, if you’re looking for a hotel in downtown Indy…STAY HERE!!  I was blown away by the hospitality, even if they didn’t do late checkouts due to it being an event weekend (I get it…but after a marathon, I usually appreciate a hot shower).  They did say that they had a fitness center with a shower and if I needed one I could get a key made to get in there and shower.  So…I mean…there was that.  Our luggage was taken up to our room by the nicest guy, Matt, who gave us the rundown about the hotel and the history behind it.  He showed us the amenities in the room and made sure we had plans for dinner because otherwise the hotel was doing a pasta dinner for the runners.  Honestly, I’ve never felt so welcome at a hotel.

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Cathy at her first major packet pickup for the Monumental 5K

Next stop…the expo.  We took the inside path through the hotel and Circle Center Mall to get ourselves over to the Indianapolis Expo Center.  Some roads were going to be closed because Trump and Pence were in town (BARF!), but it wasn’t affecting us.  We had a work-around.  The Expo felt a lot smaller this year than it was last year.  We got there, and immediately collected posters and headed to the back to get race packets and shirts.  YES…that’s plural.  Since I upgraded to the full, Cathy decided she could do the 5K, as it started AFTER the full and half marathons were sent off.  Had I stuck with the half, she wouldn’t have done it otherwise she’d miss my finish.

We stopped at the 5K booths first and Cathy did her first ever official big race 5K packet pickup.  She had to show her ID and everything.  The volunteers at her table were SO fun and very cool.  They even had thrown safety pins into her bag.  It was awesome.

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Cathy and Me with our race numbers for the next morning.

After she got her stuff…we headed over to the marathon tables where I collected my shirt and bib and we went straight into Official Merchandise.  Where I spent more money.  This time only on a lapel pin and a jacket.  The jacket is SUPER nice though.  I could have spent SO MUCH more.  HA!  We made our walk through the vendors and races that were represented at the expo.  Cathy had forgotten a BondiBand to keep her ears warm, so we had to go and get her one of those.  She found one…bright pink…that says, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”  Just like the button she has worn since NYC.  I spotted a different flavor of Gluten Free Honey Stinger Stroopwafels (I can only ever find Salted Caramel…which is GOOD…but I know there are other flavors out there…and I found a Vanilla & Chocolate one!).  But we wrapped it up quickly, stopping to find my name on the poster and then take a few pictures with the banners.  A volunteer was kind enough to get a lot of these photos for us, from every angle.

From there, we made the trek back to the hotel room.  We had about 30 minutes to kill before dinner, so Cathy went ahead and tried on her race shirt to get my opinion on the fit.  I decided I should do the same, and thank GOD I did.  Turns out, the volunteers at my end of the table gave me a men’s small and not a women’s small.  I was NOT happy.  With 20 minutes to get to our dinner reservation, we packed up the shirt and stepped outside to take a quicker route to the convention center in hopes of changing it out.  I booked it down the hall and back into the expo to the shirt exchange area and snagged my women’s small.  Whew!  Cathy was waiting in the hall outside.  We had about 5 minutes to make a 10 minute walk to our dinner reservation at Napolese.  Honestly, whenever we are in town for a race, this is our go-to restaurant.  I mean…GLUTEN FREE FOCACCIA AND GLUTEN FREE PIZZA!!

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Napolese’s Gluten Free Focaccia

I apologized to the hostess for being late and told her we had a 5:45 reservation.  Our table was still there though, next to two very loud men who were drinking a lot and talking REALLY LOUD about Queen and movies and games and whatever.  I was over it.  Thank God they left while we were eating our appetizer.

We had already had plans on what we were going to do for eats that night.  I looked at the menu on the way up so we could formulate a plan.  So when our waiter came over, we got glasses of water and put in our order.  Gluten Free Focaccia (no dairy) and then we were going to Freestyle our pizza and do a Gluten Free Pizza topped with the Housemade Tomato Sauce, Winter Squash, Mushrooms, and Duck Eggs.  He asked if the gluten-free was an allergy and made note that it was for a Celiac on the ticket.  And also made note of the NO DAIRY preference as well.  They are VERY efficient there.  And trust me…the food is amazing too.

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Napolese’s Gluten Free Pizza – no cheese, tomato sauce, mushrooms, winter squash, duck eggs

The focaccia came out first…olive oil, garlic, parsley.  SO GOOD.  And as we were polishing that off, the pizza came out.  But it was missing…the duck eggs.  Cathy pointed it out and he apologized and took it back.  He returned with a little thing of olive oil to go with the pizza if we wanted to add it and said that he took the pizza before they had cooked up the eggs and it would be up momentarily.  And we didn’t really have a long wait before it was returning to our table.  Looking SO good.  And even with polishing off the focaccia…I was ready to eat.  We polished off the pizza and took his advice, adding the olive oil…and it was light and fruity and just added a whole new level of deliciousness to the slices.  BIG FAN.  We finished eating and were given the bill, where they didn’t charge us for the duck eggs (that was sweet…but they didn’t need to do that).  We left a big tip, because or waiter was awesome.  Then headed to CVS to pick up some waters for the next morning, and then hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for a pin.  Mind you…I was not wanting to be on my feet much this time around.  But, we were never far from the hotel and we were back into the hotel by 7:30-ish.  Cathy went to shower.  I got out all my race gear and laid it out and then started my foam rolling because I was determined to do that the night before the race.  As I was doing that, there was a knock at the door.  It was housekeeping delivering a bottle of water, some ice, and a card.  It was from the hotel.  Super sweet gesture.  I knew it would all come in handy.  We finished up an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…and then…

Lights out…9 pm.  On the nose.

I woke up a couple of times during the night…like my usual wakeup time of 3 am.  At 4

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Cathy’s complimentary drink tray that morning – orange juice and coffee!

am, my first alarm went off so I could take a pill and use the bathroom.  Back to bed for 2 restless hours.  At 6 am…we were both up and starting our morning routine.  I popped open a Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Matcha Happiness Ambition Bar.  I ate one before I ran the Monumental Half Marathon last year.  Why not do it again?  I prepped my pre-race drink and started to slowly get dressed.  At 6:15 am, Cathy’s free orange juice and coffee arrived outside the door.  We got up at 6 am so we could have a more relaxed moment and this gave her the chance to eat her Clif Bar and drink some coffee and juice as she does most mornings.  Including in her own training.

I finished getting ready, and this included slathering on some sunscreen because…it was going to be a sunny day that morning and I refuse to be the person with a sunburn in November.  I was wearing two different color CEP sleeves, my Injinji toe socks, my Newton Distance IIIs, a black running skirt, my Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon singlet, red arm warmers, and a red BondiBand that said “Breathe.”  I had some pajama bottoms to toss away prior to the race and a halfzip that I bought in a child’s size a long time ago that I was okay parting with.   I put my Nuun Energy into two of my bottles and water into the other two bottles and put my fuel belt on.  I put my new nutrition (tested once) into the front zip pouch and called myself ready.  Cathy ended up putting on a second layer on top and then we headed down to the lobby.  They had water and bananas out for the runners.  I usually eat a banana before a marathon so…I snagged one.  We ran into people from Louisville that we didn’t know, but I spotted his Chicago Marathon t-shirt and said I had run it too, but he was smarter than me this morning since he was only doing the half.  We had a good laugh over that.

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Race outfit for the marathon – minus the arm warmers, which got put on soon after.

And after they moved on…I started to have a small meltdown.  Why?  Because, despite being easy on my body and training smart leading up to this…I felt like my legs weren’t going to let me go another 26.2 so soon.  Cathy talked me down, as she usually does.  And then she had us moving out the door and into the cold Indianapolis morning.  It was 34 degrees outside.  We made the walk from the Omni to the start line, where I ate my banana and slowly drank my water.  We made it here and Cathy took a few pictures.  When we saw the pacers getting into the corral, she told me to go find my pacers and talk to them.  She gave me a hug and I left…stepping into the network of corrals and finding the 3:35 pacers (see what I’m doing here?), in the 2nd wave.  My bib was good for the first wave, but like I said, I was learning from my mistakes at Chicago…I hoped.

My plan for this race…line up with the 3:35 pace group and hold on as long as I could.  I

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Cathy & I staying warm in the hotel lobby for a few minutes before walking to the start of both of our races!

didn’t expect to be with them for long, just given how my training runs had been coming off of Chicago.  But, I figured it would be a good way to keep from going out way too fast (and we all know I would have) and at least keeping a constant pace going forward.  The male pacer’s PR was 3:09 and the female had just run a 50K the weekend before, so I can only assume that she is normally super fast as well.  Crazy good.  I never run with pacers, but I figured…this might be what I need.

I ditched my toss-away clothing and got back to the pacers just as the national anthem was being sung.  It was gorgeous.  The wheelchair racers were sent off first.  Wave one was next.  And we were moved up to the start gate.  I gave a wave to Cathy since I wasn’t on the outside of the corral…I was right behind the pacers because…I didn’t want to lose them.  After about 5 minutes…off we went.  We hit the roads of Indianapolis…and Cathy went to line up for her 5K.

The pacers guided our group down Capitol Avenue, reminding us that the pace would be slow for the first couple of miles until the race spread out a little bit.  Since the half and full marathon start together, it can be very congested at points.  Reminder, Indianapolis roads are awful.  The male pacer pointed out holes as we ran and I heard the female pacer say, “You’re going to be saying that a lot.”  HA!  She wasn’t wrong.

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Game face on as I stick close to the 3:35 pacers at the start line

We made a couple of turns before running across the first water/aid station.  They were nice enough to shout out each station as we approached so anyone who needed water or Gatorade could grab it.  It was a little chaotic through there, but I stuck with them as we made a couple more turns and made the half rotation around Monument Circle.  There was another aid station before we hit Mile 3 and the pacer sign was passed from the male to the female.  He had a pace tattoo on his arm and when we hit three, she asked, “How are we?”  He said, “We’re a little over.”  So she picked it up slightly.

Not only was I incorporating a “stick to the pacer” technique this race, I also decided to fuel more.  So every 4 miles…I was trying something new (I know…nothing new on race day, but…MEH)…Maurten Gel 100, which is apparently what Kipchoge uses!  I am no Kipchoge, nor was I aware of this when I purchased it to try…but it isn’t bad.  I like the texture way better than the Honey Stingers or Gu type gels.  I took my first one at Mile 4, which had me ease back on the pace just enough.  I took a drink of water, and pushed my way back up toward the pacers.

It was just about the 10K area that I discovered how dangerous it was to run with a pace

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My new form of fueling – Maurten Gel 100

group.  As more people fell into the group it got crowded…fast.  Someone clipped my foot from behind, sending me stumbling.  I recovered, but was pushed into someone ahead of me, which sent them stumbling.  Then someone else closed in and his foot pretty much tripped me…and again I had to catch myself.  And then someone clipped me again and that one nearly took me down for good.  The adrenaline was rushing at this point which was definitely NOT what I wanted to have happen.  I eased back just enough to allow some space so I wouldn’t get trampled at this point.

At Mile 7, the half marathoners turn left and the marathon runners continue up toward the State Fairgrounds.  At Mile 8…I fueled again.  And I was still hanging onto the pace group.  YAY.  I was a little bit behind them, but I felt that was for my own safety and sanity.  We turned onto Washington Boulevard, which we would be on for almost the next two miles.  They were giving out Clif Gels at Mile 11, but I had my own fueling to contend with.  But it was here…HERE…that I started to get a side stitch.  I wasn’t pushing my pace…but it soon turned into a stomach cramp of sorts.  I gutted through it until we made the turn and hit Mile 12…and then I slowed it to a walk to see if I could get it to pass.  This was when I was supposed to fuel again anyway…and I took the opportunity to do that before I felt I would be okay to pick it up again.  And I did.  No problems.  I made sure to drink more water this time.  I think that was the problem.  I was now further behind the pace group, but was about to hit the halfway mark.  I pushed through and continued…still feeling strong for the most part.  I was just frustrated that I was off the pace group earlier than I would have liked.

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Do you see my name on the poster? I meant to post this earlier. LOL!

I loved winding through the streets of Indianapolis.  There were crowds and people cheering in places you wouldn’t expect.  If we ran through neighborhoods, people were there too.  I may have been a bit off my pace, but I was going strong for the most part.  I made the turn onto Meridian and picked it back up a little.  Mile 16…I eased back again to fuel and drink more water.  And now I decided I would start walking some water stops in order to make sure I was hydrating.  When it’s cold outside, I forget to drink water.  I wasn’t letting anything stupid like that take me down that day.

The 3:40 pacers caught me just before Mile 18, where we ran through this area that felt like a park and were met with a wall of screaming from the people inside.  I think it was a college group, but they were fantastic.  I got quite a few compliments at aid stations and as I ran through here on my pigtails.  Love that story.  We exited onto the highway and headed toward my favorite part of the course, this gorgeous, twisting downhill on an exit ramp.  YES!  Downhill is my favorite speed as we all know!!  And this was fun.

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Cathy after she did her 5K!  She did it in 46:42!

Mile 20…and I had only a 10K left.  I took a little longer on my walk to fuel here because not only did I fuel and drink some water, but I also moved my one and only Honey Stinger Gel from my zip pocket in my running skirt to my fuel belt.  Why?  Because I was going to do one more fueling and I didn’t have enough Maurten with me.  I wanted to feel good and strong at the end of this.

At this point, if there was a hill…I speed walked it.  If there was a water stop, I walked it and took in some water.  If there was a crowd, I ran.  I was running more than walking, which was opposite Chicago, so already my plan was paying off.  I think it was at Mile 23, I went ahead and took my last gel, fueling for the last push.  The water stop here was AMAZING.  They were blaring this great song about being downtown.  And it just helped me pick it back up.

The next three miles went well, even though I could tell I was slowing down.  I think at some point the 3:45 group passed me.  I tried not to let it get into my head.  I took any water break walks that I needed and promised that I would push it at the end.  I was going to finish this one strong.  I made the turn onto W New York Street.  The crowd was amazing.  Someone shouted, “The finish is just around the corner!”  They were right.  I rounded the corner and could see the finish line down the way.  It seemed so far, but I found another gear and I started to pick it up.  As I got closer, I saw Cathy standing near the finish, screaming her head off for me.  I pressed on, crossing the finish line, arms in the air, and stopped my Garmin.  I never looked at it. I wanted to beat my Dopey time.  But I didn’t want to be disappointed yet either.

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Me crossing the finish line at the CNO Financial Monumental Marathon

So I never looked.  I started walking down the row.  I was wrapped in a Mylar blanket.  I saw some people with their medals on…and thought for a moment I had walked right past that station.  But I hadn’t.  I just hasn’t moved up far enough.  I continued on.  A nice woman put a medal around my neck and congratulated me.  I smiled and thanked her, snagging a bottle of water before stopping to get an official finisher photo from Marathonfoto.  On down the aisle of snacks, snagging a banana, a Clif Bar (for Cathy), a bag of Lay’s chips, and the famous cookie (I can’t even eat it…but I knew plenty of people who could).  And then…I made my way out to be greeted by Cathy with a hug.

I asked her, “Did I beat my Dopey time?”  And she said, “You smashed it by over three minutes.”  I was elated.  It wasn’t the time I was hoping to hit, but I once again chipped away from my time I set at the beginning of the year…doing a run/walk for the entire race.  This time, I mostly ran and felt strong and good throughout…and that was saying something.  As Cathy was finding a spot for me to lay down and put my feet up, I spotted the hat in her clear backpack and said, “You got a hat?”  She said I should have gotten one too and I told her I must have walked past that station.  She told me to lay down and she would see if she could get one for me.  After about 5 minutes, she returned victorious, saying she flagged down a happy looking marathoner to see if she could get another one.  It worked.

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Feet up…suns out…guns out.  FINISHER!

After stretching my feet up for a little bit, just basking in the sun, we finally decided to get up and head back toward the hotel.  Cathy checked us out of our room and had our bags checked.  It felt like the walk took forever, but it was a good way, save for the wind that had picked up.  I drew my arm warmers back up over my arms and we zigzagged our way back to the hotel.

We stepped inside and got into the elevator to go up one floor.  Cathy told me to go over to the bench to sit down and wait while she got luggage.  It didn’t take too long.  She opened up my suitcase and pulled out the outfit I had set out to wear afterwards, compression socks, jeans, the race t-shirt, new underwear, a proper bra, the basics.  We went ahead and took off my shoes, socks and put on my compression socks while I was sitting there.  She pulled my pigtails down, getting my hair extensions out and grabbing my hair brush.  And then she sent me around the corner to the bathroom to change.

I ducked into a stall and did that in record time after a marathon.  I realized that I had left my deodorant in my toiletries bag so I made sure I looked presentable, brushed my hair, and then went to grab that while leaving my race clothes with her.  Quick duck into the bathroom to apply deodorant, a wash of the hands, and one more fix of the hair…and I was good to go.  Once I put on my recovery shoes.

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My celebration meal at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN!

We headed out and she gave me the valet ticket to get the car while she went into Starbucks to grab me a much-needed coffee.  They valet went to retrieve the car, which took about 5 minutes and she hadn’t yet made it out.  I had no money on me to top the valet, which I felt AWFUL about, but I couldn’t help that.  I texted her and she said about 14 teenagers had been in front of her and she was coming. She was out in about 3 minutes and we loaded up her luggage.  I snagged my coffee.  And we were off, heading to Carmel, Indiana, the home of Woody’s Library Restaurant, my new favorite place to eat in all of Indianapolis.  Our friend Greg met us there.  I didn’t have an appetite at this moment, but went ahead and ordered the Gluten Free (Lettuce Wrap) Tex Mex Quinoa Tacos with a side of the Gluten Free Sweet Potato Fries, and Cathy got me a little side of pickles…just in case I wanted them.

I made a go at the food…taking my time to chew and to digest so as not to set my stomach off.  And I managed to eat the fries and most of the tacos before calling it quits.  I maybe had two of the pickle chips.  I was surprised I managed that much.  Afterwards, to stretch me out a bit more before we made the car ride home, the three of us went to the Antique Mall and looked around.  They both found things to buy, but I didn’t this time.  Maybe next time.  Then we hit up the gluten-free No Label at the Table bakery there.  I picked up two of their Lemon Cookies, a Brownie, and a Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf.  The lady who owns the bakery was there, and she was excited to see a marathoner there and asked me about other local races and Disney races as I shopped and decided what I wanted.

Afterwards…it was time to make the long drive back home.

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Until next year…BE MONUMENATAL!

So, the official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 3:46:17, which makes it my fastest marathon this year and the one that closes out my actual racing season, as far as I know.  HA.  I was 1377/4568 finishers overall. I was the 377/1983 female finishers. And I was 106/391 in my age division.  Very happy with my results as I was dedicating this run to the people I know…who can’t run.  Spontaneous Marathon #14 is in the books and I already can’t wait to sign up for next year.  This was a great race, all around.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL (October 7, 2018)

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Me heading to the finish line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL

Race: Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Place: Chicago, Illinois

Date: October 7, 2018

Time: 3:50:41

Oh, friends…sometimes you dream big.  Bigger than big.  You don’t want to dream big, because you’re scared of failing.  And you don’t want to let people down.  But people keep telling you that your dream is going to happen.  Ace in the hole.  No problem.  Easy as pie. And then those aspirations don’t go the way you planned.  And you feel like a failure.  And it sucks.  But you try not to let it get you down.  But it still sucks.

Welcome…to my Chicago Marathon.

You know, failing to reach a goal does suck.  Some people can just move on.  But I have never been one of those people.  In hindsight…I did a lot of things wrong leading into this race.  For sure.

I repeat…

A LOT.

Instead of flying, Melissa and Paul offered to drive us all up to Chicago from here.  It definitely saved time and airport stress, so we took them up on the offer.  Paul was running via a lottery draw and Melissa did an amazing job raising money for her charity, Team RMHC.  And Cathy…she’s our sherpa, cheerleader, and race mom, as always.  We got a bit of a late start out of Louisville, but we hit the road and were Chicago bound.  At some point, we all figured we needed to eat dinner…and we were in the Indianapolis area…so Cathy got on the Find Me Gluten Free app, and after a sketchy call to a pizza place…we ended up going to…The Tamale Place.

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The Tamale Place on Rockville Rd in Indianapolis, Indiana

We had never been to the Tamale Place before.  But the lady at the register was SUPER nice and super helpful and walked us through the process.  I guess she could tell we were new to the place by the confused look on our faces.  But they have a screen up front that shows what tamales they currently have…and how many.  They had one vegan one…so that was the one I went with.  That just happened to be the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale.  And since I had been wavering between tacos or a tamale, she suggested both.  And who am I to say no?  She obviously knows what she’s talking about, right?  So, I got a Veggie Taco as well with the spicy red sauce.  Because…spicy…duh.  The tortilla for the taco was homemade.  The masa in the tamale was AMAZING.  Everything was really, really good.  Ironically, this would become our dinner stop on the way home too.  I think we’re believers in The Tamale Place.  Also…it makes me think of Tawn.

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Veggie Taco and the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale from The Tamale Place

We ate our weight in food.  No really.  We did.  In fact, at one point, we were passing around this cup of Elotes.  I couldn’t eat too much of it, because the cheese situation on those were real…but I tried them.  We used the bathroom and then we got back on the road to finish the haul to Chicago.

And so…we pulled up to The Hotel Blake in the pouring rain.  Cathy and Paul had directed Melissa into the bike lane, so the valet guy helped unload us and the luggage before having Melissa move the car.  Some rude taxi driver honked at her and the valet started shouting at him.  It was dark, wet, and just awful that night.  But she got the car where it needed to be and he got her inside.  Cathy got us checked in and we headed toward the elevator with Showtime, our valet.  He had the luggage cart.  We piled into the elevator, and the doors closed, minus the Nolans.  Whoops. So, we decided we would get their stuff into their room, then our stuff into our room and get it sorted.  Showtime asked us, “Why did you make the pregnant lady drive?” Cathy assured him it was better if she was the driver than if she wasn’t.  We got

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The living room area of the King Suite I stayed in. That couch would be important later!

to our floor and headed down the hall.  They were in room 719.  We were room 722.  So we were close.  Cathy and I were staying in a King Suite.  And the Nolans were in a King room.  As we unloaded their luggage, they texted to ask what room they were in.  I went to go get them while Cathy got our stuff into our room.  They met me at the elevator bay and up we went, with me dropping them off.  Cathy said, “You have to see our room.” So…I went inside to scope it out and we texted to invite the Nolans over as well to hang.  But I think they were ready to crash because they never made it over and we eventually went to bed.  But the room was amazing.  Big ass couch.  Chairs.  Dining area.  Microwave.  Fridge.  Garden tub.  Shower.  Fit for the princess that I am.

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Meli Cafe’s Tofu Scrambler, Fruit Cup and Coffee.

The following morning, we all met up for breakfast at Meli Cafe, which is just off the lobby of The Hotel Blake.  It’s convenient…so we ate their regularly.  Cathy and I went and got a table and started to peruse the menu and drink some coffee.  My best friend from my childhood was coming in that morning and once she arrived and dropped her stuff in the room, we were all going to take the shuttle bus to the expo.  But we definitely needed to fuel up for the day.  I ended up ordering the Tofu Scrambler, which is sautéed broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, roasted red peppers, and organic tofu in a giant bowl.  Since they didn’t have a gluten-free bread option, I subbed for a small bowl of fruit instead.  It was delicious.  And filling.  And not too spicy (because the day before the race is one day you really want some bland food)…even if I added a couple dashes of hot sauce.  We ate.  We went up to the room and hung out.  And Heather arrived while I was in the bathroom.  So I came out and immediately hugged her.  It was amazing to have her in Chicago for me again.

Next stop: THE EXPO!!IMG_2848

The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo is probably the largest and best expo I have ever been to.  I have done this one twice, and it’s just…endless and amazing.  But first stop is always…race bib.  We had to take a short walk a couple of blocks down to the Hilton Chicago and got on the bus. Most of the seats that were left were in the back.  Melissa gets car sick, so we just prayed it was a smooth ride.  It wasn’t a long ride and we made note of the Green Stop being where we needed to return to in order to get back to the Hilton to get back to our hotel.

We went inside…and immediately I got swept up in that race expo bliss.  There were a few photo ops before I had to show my participant info to the security people in order to get in and get my race bib and the info for where to get my t-shirt.  It was an easy exchange and after I got this…we decided to branch off from Paul and Melissa so we could all get our necessary things done.  I had one thing I wanted at the race expo…the Newton Chicago Edition shoes.  Because…NEWTONS.  CHICAGO.  YES!  But first…I needed to get my t-shirt and check the size to be sure that I was happy with the fit.  As I was trying it on, my friend AmyLee messaged me to say she was there.  She said she would come find me at the t-shirt area.  And…she did!!  It was great to hug her and wish her luck and just sit and talk about life and catch up.  She’s amazing.  And…she’s doing the Galloway Method…which I totally respect and believe in, as the run/walk intervals helped me have a strong finish during the marathon at Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January.

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Me and AmyLee at the Chicago Marathon Expo!

We had to part ways eventually, and I had my sites set…on the Newton booth.  Cathy had already scoped it out and so…I skipped the first few aisles just to go and get these shoes that I NEEDED.  WANTED.  NEEDED.

Trust me.  I needed them.  And, one of the guys working the booth was my friend, Dan’s, friend.  And Cathy already had talked to him and he was ready for me.  He brought out my size in the Chicago edition shoes…and…yeah…they came home with me.  And I wear them.  A lot.  They’re amazing.  And with that done…it was time to shop, sample, and spend more money.

And I did.  I picked up the Shefit Sports Bra, which I sadly ended up returning due to it chafing me up really bad on two runs.  But the customer service was super nice and very helpful.  I got 6 BondiBands.  Heather got me three of them as a birthday present, because she’s amazing like that. All of the ones she got me had purple in them.  And they totally suited me.  Totally.  I bout more Nuun (of course) and I got a water bottle with it.  And I am totally hooked on their Immune flavors now.  I popped one of my tubes open for Heather while we strolled the expo.  It was their Energy one.  Her favorite.  And hydration is important.

There were photo ops everywhere.  And snacks.  Snacks just being handed to you.  And

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Here’s to finish lines!

opportunities to win free passes to the Shedd Aquarium (we didn’t…none of us).  We did win those stainless steel straws though.  So, hey, reusable straws.  We zigzagged our way down each aisle, stopping at the booths that interested us and making note so, if necessary, we could come back.  We honestly made an initial sweep and then returned to booths if we wanted to try something or if we were interested in the product.

After some time of doing this. we texted the Nolans. They were in aisle 200 (I think there were 900 aisles, maybe 800).  We figured they were probably wrapping stuff up like we were.  I wanted to stop by Nike Official Merch (NOT IMPRESSED THIS YEAR!) and also hit up the Abbott area as well.  They had a TON of things going on, including the big treadmill you might have seen where you try to match Kipchoge’s marathon pace at Berlin for as long as you can.  I would have LOVED to have done it, but not the day before the race.  That sounds like an injury waiting to happen.  But I did do the thing where you run across this special floor and it feeds you information about your stride and speed.  It compares your stride to an elite’s stride.

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My stats from the Abbott Booth at the Chicago Marathon Expo

Mine is WAY shorter.  And it calculates your marathon pace if you could maintain that short sprint speed they measured.  It was fun.  But I am thankful for the guy at the end whose job it was to catch people.  We all would have hit the booth wall, and probably take them down in the process.

Once I was certain that I honestly shouldn’t spend any more money…because Roll Recovery, Shefit, Newton, Nuun, BondiBand…and a couple others got my money this time around…we checked in with the Nolans again.  They were now in Aisle 300 at the CEP Booth.  This was when we realized they were just starting the great expo dive…so we went over there to help them shop for compression and I spotted Goodr next door, which Melissa is a big fan of, despite the tendency of the lenses to flake and scratch.  I had been on my feet already longer than I expected and we still needed to get Heather and her stuff over to her hotel.  So, we offered to take any bags that they wanted to ditch so they wouldn’t have to haul them around.  We also changed dinner plans.  Melissa really wanted to go to her charity dinner…which is fine.  I really wanted to go to a place just outside the city proper, Da Luciano’s, which has a gluten free menu as big as the regular menu (honestly, it was my one requirement on this trip), so we compromised and said we’d go as a celebration after the race.  We left them to continue their expo explorations and do the charity stuff, while we hopped the shuttle back to the Hilton and then back to hotel.  We dropped off stuff, grabbed Heather’s stuff and went to hop the Blue Line (I think) to her area of the city.  She was staying at a very nice hotel, but it was a walk to get to the train, and then a walk to get to the hotel.  Reverse it after we hung in her room for a moment to head back to our neck of the woods to grab some Garrett Popcorn, pre-dinner, and then make our way to our new dinner idea…the impromptu dinner at…Brightwok Kitchen.

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Fall In Love Stir Fry Bowl and Sweet & Sour Pickles from Brightwok Kitchen – Chicago.

I first discovered Brightwok while I was in Chicago to see Hamilton.  Cathy and I had gotten out of our show and we were STARVING. Everything there is gluten-free and dairy-free.  And the food is phenomenal.  So…I couldn’t complain too much.  It wasn’t what I had hoped to be eating the night before the marathon, but it was a good supplement.

I ended up getting the Fall In Love Stir-fry Bowl.  Fall in Love is Fall 5-Spice, Brown Rice, Carrots, Peppers, Local Zucchini, Butternut Squash, and a Sweet Potato Fritter.  It usually comes with Local Chicken, but being that I’m a vegetarian, I had them add the tofu, I think.  I actually claimed the last sweet potato fritter, so, as Heather got the same thing as me, I split it with her, because…necessary.  I also got a side of their Sweet & Sour Pickles (which are AMAZING).  Seriously, I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t like.  After that…we parted ways.  Heather went back to her hotel…Cathy and I returned to ours.  We started to lay out everything for the following day so it wouldn’t be a madhouse trying to get out the door on time.  My plan was to hopefully be in bed by 9 pm. I think, after having some downtime and the Nolans over for taping and necessary race pep talks…it was closer to 10 pm.  Lights out.  Because the next morning…it was time to run Chicago!

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Me dressed and ready to run the Chicago Marathon!

Race morning.  The usual routine.  First alarm.  Get up for the meds I need to take.  Go back to bed.  Second alarm.  Get up and actually become a functioning member of society…go to the bathroom, change into race gear, check weather, eat something, check weather, brush teeth, put hair in pigtails, check weather…you get the drill.

Heather arrived to leave her bag in our room and to head to the start line with us.  I got a text from Melissa saying she wanted to hug me before we headed out (I was in Wave 1 and had to get to my Gate really early)…and she was reapplying some iron-on symbols to her race shirt from her charity that she was running for.  She had a different gate and was in the wave after me.  So…we swung into her room (me wearing an attractive big garbage bag because I didn’t want to be soaked if I was going to be out in the rain that was predicted) and we hugged and wished each other a good, safe race.  She told me to have fun.  I loved her for that.  We left and took the elevator down to the lobby to head out the door to make the walk to the start.  We had to get over to Grant Park.  They could take me as far as my gate…which was Gate 2, before security check.  We stood there for a moment, and they told me I was going to be fine and I would be great and to have fun and enjoy the run.  That’s what friends do.  I really wished I had been in better shape…but, you just do what you can with what you have.  We took some selfies…and then hugged…and then they put me in the LONG line to get into Grant Park by way of Gate 2.

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Cathy, Me, and Heather at Gate 2 at the Chicago Marathon

And that…was where I stood…for a very, very long time.  Barely moving.  Just a short trudge here and there, waddling up bit-by-bit.  Glance to the left…and Gate 1 was just moving easily.  Look to the right…and Gate 3 had traffic moving freely.  Gate 2…was at an absolute standstill.  And every runner there was basically in Wave 1 and needing to be in their corral.  And yet…we stood.

At least it wasn’t raining…yet.  Not yet.  But, we who were left to stand there and shuffle slowly forward were about to go into panic mode.  We couldn’t understand why this gate wasn’t moving.  And panic was setting in for me.  Usually I would have stretched more…and taken my time eating the banana I brought with me…perhaps use the bathroom near the corrals…but nope. Finally they had runners who didn’t need to check bags get into a separate line (that was me), and while it still moved slowly, it got us through.  And then the panic speed walk began for everyone.  Because to get to Corral C & D, you had to go behind the other corrals to a separate entrance.  And at this point…the National Anthem was being sung, quite beautifully, but I couldn’t enjoy it.  I was trying to make it to Corral D so I could start on time.  Panic and adrenaline was setting in.

I did learn one thing from standing forever in that line at the gate.  Count the kilometers, not miles.  There are more of them, so you feel like you are getting places faster.  Nice trick.  But I digress…

I got into the corral with 1 minute to spare before they closed it.  I quickly shed my trash bag and the half-zip I had worn to keep warm, as I was in a crop top and shorts for this one.  The start temperature was warm…almost 60 degrees…but rain was coming and so were some rather steady winds.  The announcers said all the names of the elite field that were running and the corrals would cheer for each name.  And then…they sent off the first wave.

IMG_2925To the song Sweet Home Chicago.

After the initial walk to the start line, we could see it grow closer and closer and soon the walk became a job and soon the jog became the run over the start mat and under the starting gate.  I was off.  For my second ever Chicago Marathon.  A race that was so magical for me in 2013.

This experience, however, was going to be a lot different.  Because mistakes were made throughout the race as well.  I was relieved to start without the rain, and while I knew that it wouldn’t be kept at bay, I was hoping that it would hold off longer than it actually did.  The first couple of miles were pretty dry.  But as I headed into Mile 3…the rain began.  I also knew that Cathy and Heather were going to try to catch me before I hit Mile 3…so pretty much just before the bridge.  And I spotted them thanks to Heather’s purple jacket.  She was SO easy to spot.  I gave a wave and a smile, feeling absolutely strong at this point and continued on…knowing I wouldn’t see them again until Mile 13.

I should mention here that I really just wanted to run by feel for this race.  Go out and have fun.  Enjoy.  And to make sure that I wouldn’t check my watch and fuss over my pace, I set it to only show me the time.  The clock face.  No pace.  No distance.  None of it.  Not even time elapsed.  And I never once looked at my watch the entire race.  Nor did I make not of the clocks along the course.  But this is where I may have faltered.  I ran the first 12-14 miles on pace for my goal for this race.  But…it got a lot harder than I anticipated at Mile 10.  Mile 10 is not a good place to have your legs start feeling like lead.  I pressed on, hoping that maybe the flat course was affecting them, so I hoped they would wake back up.  They didn’t.

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Heading into Mile 13 at the Chicago Marathon. I am not having as much fun as it looks like I am.

I took Honey Stinger gels at Mile 6 and Mile 12…and pressed on.  I did see Cathy and Heather around Mile 13.  I spotted them and waved as I went by…I think I managed a smile, but I wasn’t feeling nearly as strong as I had when they saw me 10 miles previously.  I managed to press on through the screams and amazing people at Soul City Church, who were rocking Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” as we ran through.  But that, friends…is where it got hard.

The rain never seemed to stop.  Most of my race was in this annoying drizzle.  And with the winds coming on strong too…I was getting cold.  And…by Mile 15, I started my run/walk method that got me through Dopey.  Not systematic though.  I’d guess on how long I was walking and push as long as I could handle a run…and repeat.  It was hard.  And it was breaking me.  I could tell my little goal I had set was going to get away from me…and fast.  But now…now it was about getting to that finish line.

As we went into Mile 16, a female runner slightly ahead of me, started to slow and wobble to the side of the road.  Her legs were like Jello.  It was too early for that…so I was glad I was listening to my body and easing back, despite not reaching expectations everyone had for me performance-wise.  It was scary to see.  I kept with the run/walk method as I ticked off a few more miles.  No intervals…just as much as I could run, I would.  And then I would count (for the most part) to 30 in my head before I would try again.  Around Mile 20…there was a runner down on the corner, covered in jackets, with police officers around them.  Another scary moment.  Especially as I am pressing on just to finish these last 6 miles.

I managed to pick it up a little bit for the next mile…but slowed back down.  Mile 24 was the only one where I hit the 10s (although some of my 9 minute paces were close).  I don’t know what happened there.  But I gave myself the pep talk.  2 miles.  20 minutes.  I could do anything for 20 minutes.  Even if it was at a run/walk.

The last two miles seemed to come and go…until I hit that hill at Mile 26.  This hill takes you up an exit ramp and then you head down to the finish line, back inside Grant Park.  I won’t lie.  I walked this hill.  It got me.  This entire race got me.  I got inside my head.  I let expectations weigh me down.  I didn’t follow a good routine.  So, yeah, this hill bested me.  But I made the last turn and I said I would run it in…no matter what.  So I picked it up.  And as I was running, I spotted Heather and Cathy…screaming their heads off for me as I ran past them and headed toward that finish line.  I had no idea what my time was…my pace…none of it.  It stopped my Garmin…and looked.  3:50.  And change.  I was WAY off.  But I knew it.  I knew that would happen by Mile 10.  Was I still disappointed?  You bet!

I made my way through the finishers area, grabbing that famous Finish Line Beer, which I can’t drink, but I promised Melissa and Paul that I would pick one up.  They had to open it though…so as I went past Buckingham Fountain and further into the park to where we exited for Runners Reunite…I had to dump it out.  But I could keep the can.  I immediately headed for the letter X…it’s the assigned meeting spot for myself and my friends as NO ONE is ever at X and EVERYONE is at B.  But as I made the long walk, I noticed neither Cathy nor Heather were there.  I stayed there for awhile…then made my way up to B…because perhaps they forgot.  They weren’t there either.  So, back to X I went.  And then I got lightheaded.  I quickly sat down on the boards holding up the inflatable X and held on.  My vision was going black.  I was shivering and cold.  I wanted to get back to the hotel.  I wanted my friends.

Once I stopped having my vision go black and knew I could stand, I slowly did and made my way over to the curb…where I sat down and huddled my mylar blanket around my body.  And shivered.  And that’s where they found me.

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Me after finishing the Chicago Marathon

I stood up and they came and gave me hugs and a rose and a stuffed bear.  I started to cry a little.  I have the best friends.

Cathy asked me if I wanted to do anything in the finish line area.  I told her I just wanted to go back to the hotel and get warm.  So, Heather took my rose and I snuggled with my bear and under my mylar and they walked me back to the hotel.  We got inside and up to the room.  And they were gracious enough to help me out of my shoes, socks, compression and my crop top.  I stayed in the rest while Heather went to start a hot shower for me.

I got cleaned up and put on some fresh, warm clothes and went to sit down on the couch.  Cathy said the last check in with Melissa and Paul was the half, but she got a message that they were behind pace, the mats were being pulled up, and that they would keep us informed of their progress.  Cathy went and got me warm coffee and I tried to eat some things, but my stomach wasn’t ready for food.  Not yet.  I hydrated as much as I could with my stomach being off…and we sat and watched some television, talking, laughing, checking in with Melissa and Paul.  Cathy had me put my feet up on some pillows and she covered me with my hoodie and the blanket from the bed.  I was toasty warm now.  Paul texted to see if we could grab some snacks and drinks from the charity hospitality tent, and since we all had wristbands…we could.  But neither Heather nor I wanted to move.  So…Cathy went and grabbed as much as she could.

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Me trying to warm up after some hypothermia action at the Chicago Marathon

When we got word that they were at Mile 24…I put on my shoes and jacket and we all made our way down to the finish line area.  Security wasn’t letting people through at first, but after some women sneaked inside, the woman said, “I’m a volunteer, I’m done.”  And she walked off.  And so…we walked in.

We waited patiently at the finish, with me moving around as much as possible.  When the gates started to come down, we got even closer, moving up toward Buckingham Fountain.  We took some time to take photos of the fountain until we got word that they had finished.  We tried to direct them to a street, but Melissa’s calves had pretty much cramped up at Mile 6 and she was done.  We were going to them.

We found them…Melissa on the ground, shivering, and Paul trying to rub her calves and feet.  Poor thing!  It was crazy miserable in the rain and then the winds, so if I was this bad off…I couldn’t imagine how she felt.  Plus…pregnancy doesn’t help her either.  I knew Heather wanted to catch dinner before she had to get to the airport, so we changed dinner plans again…and moved everything to Meli Cafe again.  Which was fine.  It was closer and less hassle for sure.  But with Da Luciano’s being closed on Mondays…this meant I once again was missing my chance to eat there.  Next time…it’s happening.  Because I will make it happen.  Heather and I went to drop off things at their room and head down to dinner.  We told our waitress we’d be coming in waves.  Cathy got Melissa up and moving and she said that she was meeting us at Meli Cafe…to which Melissa said, “I could eat.”  So…YAY!!  At least the whole gang would be there to celebrate.

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Me with my Chicago Marathon medal and jacket at Buckingham Fountain

Cathy joined us first…then the Nolans.  I was just finishing up when they got their food, but it meant I could walk Heather up to get her stuff and take her outside of the hotel to give her hugs and tell her to have a safe trip back to Minnesota.  She had a flight to catch.  I went back inside to sit with my friends and just reveled in what we all accomplished.  We pushed ourselves even when things got hard.  Even when they seemed impossible.  And we all finished.  Safely.

After we ate, we hit the lobby for a couple of photo ops and then headed back upstairs to rest and recover.  We hung out in our room, watching Food Network and just talking and drinking water/cider.  It was the perfect way to close it out.

So…the official results of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon are that I finished in 3:50:41.  Definitely nowhere near what I had hoped.  BUT…I will follow with my conclusions on that in a moment.  I was the 11156 finisher overall.  The 2941 female to finish.  And I was 566 in my age division.  Not bad, considering over 43,000 runner signed up for this.

So…what mistakes did I make?

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Finishers…Friends!

I was on my feet way too much the day before the race.  I didn’t fuel as I would have liked and tried a different method…the day before the race.  I think my marathon paced runs killed me the weeks leading into the race as well.  I let expectations get to me.  I didn’t let my watch tell me to SLOW DOWN (I think that was my biggest error).  I didn’t dress for the weather that was moving in.  I probably should have fueled more than I did. I did every 6 miles…I am going to work on putting that closer and more frequent.  And…I told myself I wasn’t fit enough so I went into it believing I wasn’t fit enough.  And there are more…but I won’t dwell on it now.

I finished…I made it.  My friends finished.  They made it.  We all were safe.  We all did the best we could with our circumstances.  We may not have lived up to our own expectations, but dammit…we at least tried that day.  We at least got out there and gave it what we had.

Chicago…maybe one day I’ll be back.  But for now, I have other fall marathons to tackle.  You were a great learning experience.  And I know…if I keep trying, I’ll reach my goal.