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.