Sometimes…Moving Forward Means Looking Back

hamiltonOkay…you’ll have to forgive me.  I’m a bit of a Hamilfan (for those of you not “in the know”…that means I’m a fan of the musical Hamilton.  So…the start of this blog is going to be a bit of an homage to the musical.  If you know the music…you’ll get it.  If you don’t…keep reading and then go check it out.  It will change your life.

[ME]

You’re a runner.  Of course!  I’m a runner
God, I wish there was a race!
Then we could prove to everyone
That we’ve got a fast race pace…

[RUNNER]

Can I buy you a drink?

[ME]

That would be nice.

[RUNNER]

While we’re talking, let me offer you some free advice.
Train slow.

[ME]

What?

[RUNNER]

Run more.

[ME]

Ha.

[RUNNER]

Don’t let an injury set you back or make you sore.

[ME]

You can’t be serious.

[RUNNER]

Then let me reassert…

[ME]

Yes.

[RUNNER]

Always run hard and you’ll end up hurt.

*END SCENE*

~*~*~

Did I lose you?  I hope not, because what I am about to say is actually rather important.  I just sometimes have a hard time getting to the heart of the matter.

For the better part of the beginning of 2017, I was injured…again…

And…for once it had nothing to do with the amount or intensity of my runs.  Well…not exactly.  When I went home for Christmas, I continued with my training schedule…except the neighborhood where my parents live is hella hilly.  I mean, you literally can’t NOT run hills when you are there.  So, for pretty much the entire few days I was there, my runs were full of hills.  And my left hip flexor started to complain at me on the last morning I ran there.  I shrugged it of and boarded my plane back to the Louisville area.  I took my usual rest days, and went out for my morning runs, which during my warmups, I would note a slight twinging in my left leg, but nothing that was crippling.  My cadence and my pace seemed off for me though.  Some stretches and rolling and I was on the road to Columbus, Ohio for my New Years celebration at my friend, Jenn’s.

I know, I’ve pretty much gone over this before, but I am making a point…so, please…don’t tune out yet…

It was after a 14 mile run that I started to feel some pain in my left hip (the one opposite the one that suffered a labrum tear last year.  I hobbled through the rest of the day, took some Aleve with dinner that night, and felt a little better in the morning.  I managed to get through my 6 miles of speed work (I thought to do it at Jenn’s because her neighborhood is SO flat it is great for speed work), but didn’t quite hit the pace.  I missed it…just barely.  Upon returning home, I managed one more 6 mile run before it all went to hell.  My hip was not happy on that run and the following morning, a cross-training day, I found that I couldn’t even do my physical therapy exercises.  Sadly, my orthopedic doctor couldn’t see me before I jetted off to Disneyland for a 10K and half marathon race.  I survived those, although I still don’t know how I managed those times, but I think it was sheer stubbornness and the unwillingness to stop because I knew if I did, I’d never start running again.  That and my orthopedic doctor’s magic cocktail of 2 Tylenol & 2 Ibuprofen…3 times a day.  And KT Tape and ACE Bandages.

We all know what happened from there, but as the wait to see the orthopedic doctor took forever, and then the actual getting back to some semblance of running (first by not limping, then on the Alter-G, and then on roads…with very low mileage and with a super easy pace for me)…I decided I needed to go back and reflect on the one and only year where I wasn’t injured.  At all.

2013.

When I was training for my first full marathon.

I went back to my training journals.  This is why I keep a paper training log.  Because it gives me immediate access to the things I was doing that kept me uninjured and running strong, if nothing else.

I had become a member of a Distance Runner group, which, after the Boston Marathon bombings, branched off into a great group of runners who were seeking to qualify to Boston.  I hoped to do it sometime, so I joined.  These Boston Qualify Seeking Distance Runners, as I said, were fantastic people and runners, most of which I still speak to and am in touch with today.  But as we all geared up to train for our BQ attempts, it became a matter of how fast can you run your runs.  And while the pace of my weekday runs started to speed up, even on easy days, my long runs were much slower.  Like WAY slower.  I put a lot of quality speed into my speed work days (fartleks, tempo, intervals), posting pics of my Garmin with the best of them on the group.  But while they were all rocking out long runs at or near their race pace, I was running with a group that trained a little more deliberately.  I never really posted the Garmin shot on my long runs, and would often find myself wishing I could post training runs as fast as they were.  They were going to be so ready for Boston.  But, this was also my first marathon…so I didn’t expect the magic to happen that quickly.  I stuck to my plan, kept training with the more deliberate group, and got through June through October without hitches.  AND…get this…there were times I was doing a long run on Saturday and then another one on Sunday.  My legs never felt tired or like I was doing too much, because the paces I did these runs was so much slower than I would have run if I had been on my own.

Part of doing the back-to-back long runs was that I had signed up for the inaugural Dopey Challenge at Disney World…and I figured that was good practice.  Part of it was just loving to be able to run with people.  My friends were slaughtering their long runs…and I was just sort of cruising through them.  Weekend after weekend.

And I was never injured.

What has occurred to me as I reflected on my best year of running and racing was…

Most runners, including myself, train too hard, too often.

We all get wrapped up in those numbers, how they might look on social media, to our peers, to people who *gasp* run faster than us already.  No quality runner that I know judges their fellow runners by their training and race paces.  But, to runners, those numbers are our Bible.  And, we’re all guilty of the comparison game.  I know I am.  We love showing off our good runs, but what about the average…or not so good ones?  Why was I so frustrated and embarrassed with my slow runs on those long run days?

Little did I know, I was training smart and training properly.  Low-intensity training allows an athlete to gain fitness without overstressing the body.  Doing too much high-intensity training can cause your body to not be able to absorb all the stress being applied to it and turn it into fitness.  If you fatigue your body too much, too often, you run the risk of compromising your performance, your workouts, and possibly leading to injury.  The entire point of the long run is not to bust it out at race pace, but to get your endurance up, get you used to being on your feet for a long amount of time.

In fact, most of my long runs going into the Chicago Marathon were done at a slow pace.  There were a few weeks where certain miles were to be done at marathon pace…and I managed to rock those out.  And come the beginning of October…I lined up at the start line of the Chicago Marathon…ran strong…ran far…

AND QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON.

My first marathon.  My first BQ.  And I did it because I didn’t race all of my runs.  Speed work and quality runs are important, yes…but make them something you do once a week…and run those other runs at a much more deliberate and easy pace.  You shouldn’t be embarrassed to train slow.  In fact, I do believe it was training like this that got me to that start line safely, uninjured, and feeling strong and prepared.

Yes, high-intensity training is very important to training as well, but a relatively little amount goes a long way.  Here is one case where more is definitely not better.  There is no need to unnecessarily tax your body when you should be taking it easy.  I know…it sounds counterintuitive, especially in running when the entire goal is to reach the finish line in the fastest time you can, but…honestly…proper training means getting through the slow, the fast, the easy and the hard.  But you have to hit on every spectrum to become a better, more efficient, and…uninjured runner.

I have been sidelined every year since 2013’s Chicago Marathon.  I also attempted to run way more marathons in a year than was good for my body…but that’s another story.  That being said, after this last round with my hip flexor in January…I’m making a more conscious effort to train smarter.  Some of it is fear.  Not fear that someone will judge my training pace as being too little.  But fear of ending up with a worse injury…something that isn’t as easy to work around or get through.

I was lucky.  This time around, my hip labrum wasn’t the issue, although I fretted for a month that it was.  You have to keep your body moving forward, but turn down that intensity.  Seriously, you’ll reap serious benefits and rewards simply by slowing down.

Trust me…I’m the poster child for this, apparently!

And those training paces that you used to brag about on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media…forget about it.  Those numbers shouldn’t be bragging rights or your sense of worth in the running community.  The running community is awesome because it embraces everyone, all shapes, sizes and paces.  These times, distances, paces…these are your records of your progress.  You shouldn’t feel like you need to post only your best, fastest times for those who follow you on social media, or make excuses for runs that you deem as too slow.  Nope…these numbers are much more valuable and important than that.  It’s fine if you want to share your stats…I’m not condoning that.  Lord knows, I’ve done my share in the past.  But…do NOT base your self-worth as a runner on these numbers.  Don’t run hard every time you run.  Don’t try to overdo what you are capable of doing.  And NEVER PR a training run.  Save that for race day.  If you PR a training run, you’re not training right!

In the end…running to much, running too hard…is running your body into the ground.  And, I, for one, am tired of injury after injury.

So, to my speedy friends who I could keep up with or even outrun at times, my apologies…because I am stepping my long runs down this training season.  My long runs will be quality, long slow distances.  As they should be.  Some might have miles at race pace…but for the most part, I’m returning to how I trained for Chicago the first time around…as I gear up to run Chicago again this October.

This is NOT easy for me to do.  My legs know one speed…fast…especially when I’m on my own.  So, I do hope to find some people to hold me back and keep me accountable this summer as I work through my training and get to that start line, once again feeling confident and prepared.

Like I said…sometimes moving forward means looking back.

Maybe there really is magic in those easy, deliberate paced runs.

I ask you to consider this the next time you put that Garmin on and head out the door for an “easy” run.

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“Always enjoy yourself.  Don’t be upset if you don’t win, you’ve won by simply not giving up.” – Unknown

Comeback Kid…Again! Week #5 & Week #6

Life has been crazy, crazy, crazy busy this past week, which is why this post is almost a week late.  Because most of the exciting stuff was covered in the previous blog, I will sum up this past week and what all went on in my transformation from injured runner to…the Comeback Kid…

On Monday, my physical therapy session was cancelled with Daniel.  Which kind of sucked as I had wanted to talk about the ankle pain I was having.  But he was running a fever, and I really am a huge germophobe.

So, he wasn’t coming in and I didn’t have to show up, since my therapist was out of the office. Instead, I went to work and sent him an e-mail regarding the situation.  He messaged me back on Wednesday and said that he would look at my ankle on Thursday when I came in for my physical therapy session.

That meant a lot of waiting…and a lot of NOT running.  Again.  Because…honestly…the last thing I wanted to do was aggravate something else and be sidelined more.  It seems like a never-ending battle.  Anyway…I’m not very good at being patient or waiting.

That being said, when I finally did go in on Thursday, the first thing he did was ask about my ankle and have me take off my shoe so he could look at it, manipulate it, and basically bang the crap out of it to see if it was anything to be concerned about.  When that meant I sat there going…no…nope…that doesn’t hurt…that’s weird…hahaha….nope…it’s fine…

Yeah…I think he was wondering if it was all in my head.  It’s not.  It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t now.  But, as he told me, it’s not a stress fracture, because I wouldn’t be able to walk…so it was just some natural aches that come with starting to run again after NOT running for so long.  He then had me warm up on a bike and do some dynamic lunges and moves before taking me outside into the cold air in my shorts and all and having me run around the building.

Why was I running around the building?  So he could watch my form and see if I was babying my hip by putting more pressure on the other leg (that is the sort of shit that brought me my first (and only) stress fracture in my leg…and the last thing I want is to end up in Bootsie again!)…but he said that my form looked great from every angle he viewed me from.  Only thing was my high cadence, but that’s normal for me.

So…he cleared me to do the Anthem 5K that Saturday (as I was up to 3.5 to 4 miles of running every other day), as long as the hip continued to feel good.  So, we made one more appointment for a week and a half out…and I was done.

I wrote up a blog on the Anthem “5K”…that you can read if you missed out on that exciting adventure.  The best part of that day was that I got to hang out with Melissa and Paul before the race…saw Tammy at the start of the race…and ran comfortably at a 7:29 average for the race.  Without pain.  At all.  And without feeling like I was pushing myself harder than I should.  Which says a lot about me maintaining my fitness level even without running in the equation. So YAY!  But, I wasn’t supposed to race that one.  I was supposed to run it…so…that wasn’t exactly fun to tell my PT over e-mail.  He helped a little by putting things into perspective…about thinking long term.  So…my mindset is starting to fall that way.  I have goals I want to achieve…and being Gimpy McGimpster is not part of those plans.

Ever meet someone by chance and wonder how it was that you’d never met before and why you haven’t been friends for life? That’s Melissa and me!

Into the next week I went.  The cold weather gave way to some mild mornings in the 50s.  They were rainy…and windy…but I was in my shorts and loving it.  I was doing short 4 mile outings and reminding myself to ease it back.  This worked better on the windier of mornings (like 40 mph gusts will mess with you regardless!)…hey…I’m a work in progress.  I’ll get the hang of it.  By the weekend, the bitter cold weather returned.  I was NOT happy.  It seems like we get gorgeous weather during the week…but on the weekends, it is determined to freeze us out.  I wasn’t running as far as…anyone at the training run.  I was doing 5 miles as a natural progression to the Rodes 10K this coming Saturday.  So…I was definitely the ambassador, and training run attendee doing their own thing.

My fellow, freezing #KDFMarathon Ambassadors: Melissa, Me, Dawn, and Jack

I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training on gym machines and at spin class.  I know…I need to swim more…but swimming is just not fun for me.  Or relaxing.  So…I am working on that.  But, despite the cold temps this week, I’ve gone out on a 5 mile run yesterday morning and felt good.  I dialed back the speed and focused a lot more on form.  My roommate pointed out that my feet were really pounding the pavement when I’m running these days.  Soft feet.  That’s what I’m working on now.  Another good reason to NOT wear headphones while running.  You can tune into your body and that is so important.  The run felt good and I finished it feeling tired (hey, I started at 3:30 am), but proud of myself.

Today was my final PT session with Daniel.  Yep…officially released!  OFF THE CHAIN!  I couldn’t be happier.  My session today started with a warm-up on the bike before he had me doing my lunge matrix and then running through all the dynamic warm-up stuff he’s assigned to me in the past.  And then….he had me doing these giant plyometric jumps before taking off at a run.  All that went well…so he had me fill out final paperwork and I was discharged with the understanding that should anything flare back up…I am to call and they’ll fit me in.

And that, my friends, is a good, happy thing!

So…this weekend I am treating the Rodes 10K as a training run…and NOT…I repeat NOT running it hard.  I have enlisted my running partner, Matthew, to help keep my pace back.  We’ll just have a nice 6 mile conversation.  The goal is to finish without any pain.  I am really looking forward to this.

Going forward, I get to add some speed and hill work back into my training each week, but nothing monumental.  Just some basic strides and a few small climbs.  So, that’s progress.  I also get to increase my long run by one mile each week leading into my races in April…so that’s also a good thing.  I’m feeling good.  I’m happy.  I’m making my (hopefully final) comeback!

And there it is, friends.  Stick with me.  I’m sure there is more to this adventure!

Anthem 5K Fitness Classic – Louisville, KY (March 4, 2017)

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Me after finishing the Anthem 5K (*COUGH*) Fitness Classic – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Anthem 5K Fitness Classic

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 4, 2017

Time: 21:55*

Ugh!  Asterisk time.  I hate having to put that little thing near a time on a race…but it’s only fair because I can’t call this a PR.  Not even close to one.  Seems that the Anthem 5K was actually the Anthem 4.7K.

I. AM. NOT. JOKING.

Granted, I wasn’t on tap for a PR time…but I wasn’t pushing myself through this race either.  Still, I know a lot of people who were thrilled with their HUGE PR times, and I wonder if they just didn’t bother, or didn’t care, to check their watches.  I never even got to 3 miles…and others didn’t either.  Those who were, like me, cognizant of this fact, were rather angry, rather than celebrating PRs that were not PRs.  I mean, most (not all, I admit to that) runners do wear some sort of GPS watch and that, right there, is an instant snapshot of your race.  It might not be 100% accurate on the time…but the distance…that’s usually pretty spot on.  My Garmin never even beeped a third time before I crossed the finish line.  So, I wasn’t putting it out there that I had a HUGE PR (not that this would have been HUGE even if it was a PR pace)…but still…

OH…did I forget to mention that in all of this…I was told to run a race?

Yep.  This soon.  Already.  As in…yesterday.

Because my physical therapist thought that it would be a good mental boost for me.  I was really leery…because of every race that runs in Louisville…the Anthem 5K is my least favorite.  It’s crowded.  It’s hard to find parking.  And this year…the LMPD, apparently, used last year’s course map and cut 944 feet off the race course.  So, it wasn’t even a 5K.  And, I’m sorry, I paid almost $50 for registration for this race…I want to get my money’s worth.  This race should have been 3.1 miles.  NOT 2.93…NOT 3.2…but an accurate and exact 3.1.  And it wasn’t.

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Anyway…enough of my grousing.  Let’s move on, shall we?  Where was I?

Ah yes…I was racing.  Kinda.  The deal with my physical therapist was that I should and could do the Anthem 5K because, he felt, it could be the mental boost I needed because, let’s face it, I have played it overly cautious with my comebacks because…just as I start falling into a rhythm…something else on me breaks or falls apart or however you look at it.  It’s the proverbial shit hitting the fan at times, and I’m sort of done with that.  So…my PT felt that it would be good for me, as long as I didn’t all-out run it, to actually sign up and participate in my least favorite local race.

And that, my dear friends, is how I ended up with a race bib for the Anthem 5 (4.7)K Fitness Classic.

I registered for the race on Thursday afternoon, after I had seen Daniel that morning for my physical therapy session.  After he checked out my ankle (the opposite ankle was giving me some issues) he had me do a dynamic warmup and then took me outside to run so he could take a look at my form and make sure I wasn’t compensating.  He said everything looked great and that the only thing he noticed was my high cadence, which is normal for me.  And then he said…to give the 5K a go on Saturday.  So, I registered…coughing up $50 I didn’t really have to run a race I really didn’t like.  Easy come, easy go.

Friday, my bib number was listed on the site and after work (we were trying to make up time due to the Sting concert that happened Tuesday night and the big storms that went through the midwest delayed the return drive long enough that it would eat into personal time if I took a lunch).  SO…right after work, it was over the river to Slugger Field.  Packet pick-up was a breeze.  It was easy to remember my bib number…6061…and I was at the very end of the table due to my late registration.  But we were in and out of there in no time.  No problems.  No issues.  Back over the river…a quick stop at the grocery store for some supplies (I am batch cooking good, healthy, real food for people) and then…home.

Dinner…a gluten-free and vegan BBQ Ranch Pizza.

Night before a race = pizza.

Always.

Forever.

I keep trying to find something else that works, but pizza seems to be the key.  So much for my plan to cut back on pizza.

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I never really sat down that night.  I went from cooking up lentils and making sauce and baking potatoes to…my PT exercises and stretches.  AND…foam rolling for a brief moment.  I had every intention of going to bed early too.  That didn’t happen.  I had to have my foot taped (the right foot that had the whole plantar flare-up back in the early fall).  So, I got to bed just before 10:00 pm.

AND…I set my alarm for 3:30 am.  Why?  Because I needed to run through all my PT stuff prior to heading out for the race.  My roommate was getting up at 6:15, and these take me close to 2 hours if I do everything I am supposed to do.  So, I got up and bundled up, headed outside to do my dynamic warm-ups, my marches, my lunges, my steps, my lunge matrix, my hops and jumps…before heading inside for the resistance band stuff, the hip stretches and exercises, and even some work on the BOSU.  I finished up at 5:30 am.  I was tired.  I made tea.

I packed my breakfast to go.  I did that because I didn’t have a banana (I usually always eat a banana 30 minutes before a race) and with all my PT stuff, I never really had time to dart out to the grocery store and get one.  My local Kroger usually has bananas that aren’t ripe enough anyway.  So, I packed my Freedom Foods Rainbow Rocks cereal (think Fruity Pebbles made from real ingredients and not LOADED down with sugar) in a baggy, packed coffee cups for after the race, got protein bars ready for AFTER the race, and the roomie was up and eating some cereal soon after that.  We were out the door just slightly ahead of schedule.  It was freezing cold outside.  Thankfully, the windows hadn’t frosted over.  So, we made our trek over the river to downtown Louisville, where we ended up parking randomly in a street lot as the rest of the road was blocked off for the race.  Thankfully, there were a few spots left.  We paid the substantial $15 fee for the “convenience” to park there, then began walking down toward Market Street.  I had an Ambassador meet-up at 7:40 am at the Jimmy John’s.  Except…it was still REALLY early.  So…yeah…

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Melissa and me freezing before the Anthem 5K!

I was miserable and cold.  The sunrise was gorgeous.  But I was more focused on finding a spot where something (like a building) could act as a windbreak.  This race is ALWAYS cold.  I swear.As meet-up time came…I was still all by myself in front of the Jimmy John’s.  But not more than a moment later, I see my amazing friend (and fellow #KDFMarathon Ambassador), Melissa and her husband, Paul, coming our way.  They had already had a hell of a morning…had just picked up their race bibs…and Cathy was already pinning Melissa’s bib on her.  This has become a trend.  HA!  I actually had a gift for Melissa…which I handed over while she was being pinned.  Here’s the thing…Melissa and I are basically the Injury Crew (she’s been dealing with knee issues since The Light Side…and I’ve been dealing with the hip issue since…the beginning of the year).  Anyway…when I purchased mine, I knew, as a fellow injured runner, how sometimes you just need a little motivation.  She’s amazing…and she’s going to do amazing things.  We waited for a few minutes, but none of the other ambassadors showed up.  So…with needing to the start line and into the corrals (that no one really enforced)…we took the picture.  And for being as cold and miserable as we were, the picture was super cute!

And being super cute is what is important, friends!!

We trekked to the start line…and as I was standing in Corral B…I get spotted by my good friend, Tammy.  We sort of hung together while her boyfriend, Dean, moved up with all the fast elite types.  Because…he’s fast and elite.  Tammy knows what it’s like to have goods and bads and ups and downs, as she has been dealing with it for awhile.  It was so good to see her and run with her through the start gate.  I lost her after that.

So…one thing I dislike about Anthem is how crowded this race is.  Honestly, you never get out of the pack.  And I think that’s one reason that when I went out…I went out way faster than I intended to run.  The good thing was, the hip didn’t flare up on me or twinge or anything.  So…as I don’t check my watch for pace while running, I thought it felt comfortable and just went with it.  I maintained.  Honestly.  My splits are pretty much the same.  The first mile was amazing…it made me feel good, even if I was dodging a few people and maneuvering over some rather rough pavement at times.

Mile 2, however, was where the issues began.  Leading into it I was feeling good.  And, honestly, when I run, I get tunnel-vision.  I rarely notice anything around me.  Well, I’m just doing my thing and as we come around a corner, there is Mile 2.  Okay.  Wow.  I noted the time on the clock on the mile marker had just hit 14 minutes.  In order for that to happen, I would have had to blast off a 6-something minute mile and, honestly, this body is not up to that right now.  And as I ran beyond it, I noted that my Garmin hadn’t beeped at me yet either to indicate the 2nd mile.  So…I glanced at my watch.  The top.  For the mileage.  And I was only at 1.88 miles.  So, the marker had to be at least 0.15 miles off.  I had hoped that it was an oversite and it would correct itself as the race goes on.  Sometimes this happens.  BUT…not this time.  I rounded the corner and made the long slog down Main Street, taking it upon myself to glance at my watch after the 2 mile beep happened.  I still hoped for a course correction in miles,but as I kept going, and when I could finally see that Finish Line…I hadn’t even gotten my third beep to mark a third mile.  I hustled into the finish line…stopped my Garmin, and checked.

2.96 miles after crossing the finish line.  Not even 3 miles.  And there were a lot of angry people at that finish line.  Every fast, elite, and finisher who gave a damn was pretty much discontent and having a little bitch session.  I waited for Cathy, who was walking down to meet me and called her over to say, “The course was short!  It wasn’t even 3 miles.”  I double-checked with some runners who looked unhappy and they were, “It was WAY short and I’m pissed.”  My friend Amber and her husband felt the same way.

Seemed like everyone PR’d that day…because they PR’d on a short course.  I knew it before I crossed the finish line.  I think everyone else did too.

Was I on pace for a new PR?  Nope.  But…I might have beaten my 2013 time…which would have been cool.  But we’ll never know now.  The race people went back to measure the course and did find that they were 944 feet off.  They said that the Louisville Metro Police Department had barricades up in the wrong place as they used last year’s course map.  Regardless…this is a HUGE race here…it always kicks off the Triple Crown of Running.  You’d think they could get it right.

Like I said, when you pay as much money as this 5K race asks, you expect a little more in the end.  Needless to say, this might have been my last Anthem 5K.  Unless I get the Triple Crown bug again…but I’m happy just churning out the 10K and 10 miler, to be honest.

So…the official results of the Anthem 5K (4.7K) Fitness Classic are that I finished in 21:55.  No new PR…not even on pace to set one.  Even with the course mishap.  I was 515/5315 finishers overall.  I was the 91/3037 for women finishers.  And I was 19/412 in my age division.  I’m pretty proud, considering I’m still nursing an injury.

I will say this…I was able to run a pace that I haven’t seen since December, and have it feel comfortable.  This hip never once twinged at me while I was running.  I felt good and like I could hold that pace forever.  To me…I count all of that as a win.  PRs aren’t what I run for anymore.  I run because I can…because it makes me feel alive…because it makes me feel good.  Finishing this race was a mental boost that I needed.  Daniel was right.  So, in the end…I take with me the fact that I ran my heart out and I overcame another setback on my running journey.  And that means more to me than the length of a course or the time on the clock.

Me heading into the finish line of the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic - Louisville, Kentucky

Me heading into the finish line of the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic – Louisville, Kentucky

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Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 24, 2016)

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Me after finishing the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN

Race: Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: November 24, 2016

Time: 37:03

*twirls around*

It happened this year!!  After having to miss out on my most convenient and least stressful face of the year last year…this year I was registered and ready to run.  That’s right, my friends.  It was time for New Albany’s very own Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast.  It is held every Thanksgiving morning (for 28 years now!) and it happens…literally…right outside my door.  The start and finish area is at the fairgrounds located directly across the street from my apartment complex.  How’s that for an easy race morning?

As you might recall, last year I was still on the recovery list after dealing with my nemesis, my hip labrum tear, and then…my stress fracture in my leg.  The hip is going to be a constant thing, but when my leg started to bother me again, my orthopedic doctor decided it would be best to take the rest of November off from running and to send me to physical therapy.  I had been registered for the Fast Freddie Five Miler already…because I knew my boot would be off and I figured I’d be good to go.  But, sadly, I wasn’t.  And for the first time in the years I have been running…I had to miss out on the challenging race before my Thanksgiving feast.  I was, however, a brief spectator last year, rushing down to the start line in just enough time to see everyone off.

It wasn’t the same.

And this year…in the true tradition of Thanksgiving…I was hungry for this one.

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When you think your coach is on drugs for the pace she wants you to try to hit…and then this is the bib number you are assigned!

The Sunday prior to Thursday, I met up with my friend Jack and his friend Heather (who recognized me from the YMCA) to run the course.  It was 23 degrees out that morning, but I hadn’t run the course in a long time (and I know I need to because it does have some hills to challenge me), so I really wanted to do this test run on the course.  Or…a course preview…as we referred to it.  I ran it at an easy pace…my Garmin saying I did it in about 39 minutes.  Happy with that.

After getting home, I went to check my training calendar that my coach, Linda, throws together for me each week. Fast Freddie was listed…and she set my goal time for 38 minutes.  I had run just slightly over 38 minutes when I ran this last, in 2014, so I thought this was an achievable goal time for my first year back to this event.  But, later that night, she texted me and said that she changed my time goal for the race.  I went to check and she changed it to 36 minutes.  I texted her back and said that I had never run this course that fast (my fastest race time is 36:54 in 2013…when I was in my best racing shape), but I would try.  She told me not to kill myself doing it, but she thought I was capable, being that I was just barely over 36 minutes on a 5 mile speed work run I did a few weeks before.

For the rest of the week, I fretted over that race time.  I did my training runs, hit the paces, tried to run easy on the easy days (which isn’t easy for me…unless I run with other people), and just not try to obsess over it.  I would do my best on race morning…and that’s all I could do.

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Me after 4 hours of cooking and baking on Wednesday night.

To top it all off, though, I was hosting Thanksgiving this year.  I hosted last year, but I wasn’t racing, so I decided that I needed to do as much as humanly possible the night before.  This meant, I made a conscious decision to not rest my legs or feet…but to stand in the kitchen and cook up all of the side dishes I was serving.  Leaving, simply, the sweet potato fries, the BBQ pulled turkey, and the apple cinnamon slow-cooker apples for the morning.  It took almost 4 hours to get it all done, but I did.  I even had to set an alarm on my phone to wake me up so that I could put the food that was cooling on racks into the fridge.  I went back to bed, having my alarm set for to give me time to do all my stretches and PT exercises before the race…as well as chop up a lot of apples for both the slow cooker that had the turkey and the slow cooker with the apples as well.  It was a hectic morning, but I managed to get everything going before Cathy taped up my right foot (still having some issues with it) and pinned me up.  Time to go.

It was actually earlier than I usually head over to the fairgrounds for this race, but I was meeting up with three other #KDFMarathon Ambassadors who were running this particular race: Jack, Melissa (and her husband), and Leah (who also has Linda as a coach!).  When I showed up, I found Jack and Leah standing near the stage inside…and Melissa was just parking and heading our way.  We wanted to get a picture together before the race.  Melissa showed up, looked at me and said, “Where are your clothes?”

So…race morning was the type of weather where I get really confused as to how to properly dress.  It was around 50 degrees at the start, but there was a cold 9 mph wind.  According to the Weather Channel, it felt more like 46 degrees out.  That being said, I had opted for a t-shirt and a pair of short (rainbow) shorts…and my usual compression sleeves and BondiBand with pigtails and all that good stuff.  Melissa and Jack were in leggings and long sleeves.  Leah was in shorts and a t-shirt too (and was wearing a pie hat on her head).

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Leah, Me, Jack & Melissa…the #KDFMarathon Ambassadors representing!

We gathered outside for the photo…my peeps wearing their KDF Ambassador shirts (I like to be bright, so I didn’t wear mine…but I did hold it up!).  Not going to lie…it was cold.  So, after the photo, Jack and my warm friends helped walk me to the start line while keeping me warm.  And it was here that I ran into my friend, Harry, who was walking the course.  So…I was just finding everyone today.

I went toward the front of the race group, taking up my usual position about 3 rows back from the start.  The front row is reserved for the people with the low bib numbers.  My bib number was, hilariously, #420.  I was so amused when I picked up my bib Wednesday night because I had joked that Linda was on drugs when she set my goal pace…and then I get #420.  HA!  The crazy bib number things that happen to me.  Anyway, I like to be close to the start, without getting in the way of the people who actually deserve to be right up there.  You know…the people who run strides ahead of the race.  Those crazies in the singlets and shorty-shorts.  *glances down at rainbow shorty-shorts*

Fast Freddie’s Five Mile Foot Feast starts promptly at 9 am.  Fred came out to give the usual information about the start.  He would tell have runners get ready and then blow the whistle.  And that…is what he did.  And at the whistle blow…we were off.

I saw Cathy immediately, holding up my sign, gave a wave, and pushed on.  After all, I was chasing down a fast time.

Fast times used to be a lot easier for me.  Especially when a course has hills.  You see, one problem I am finding with my hip labrum tear is that I lose power and speed on my uphills.  I can’t easily burst up them like I used to.  Nope.  I actually struggle at times on hills.  But I wasn’t going to worry about that.  I didn’t have time.  You pretty much get hit with a hill right away on this race.  Not a big one, but it send you up and over the highway…but there is a nice downhill that awaits on the other side.  I revel in those downhills.  What I lack in hill climbing, I made up for on those downhills.  Up ahead was the light, and we all blazed our path onto Mt. Tabor road, hitting that first mile marker.  I looked to be just slightly behind on the 7:12 pace I would need to average in order to hit 36 minutes.

Mt. Tabor Road is a series of rolling ups and downs.  By now, the body is warmed up and I can take these in stride, for sure.  I actually handled these better than I anticipated. I was pushing that pace, hoping to, maybe, surprise myself in the end.  We crossed the railroad tracks, went up another hill and then down, turning onto Grant Line Road.  Mile 2…done.  And I was still just a smidge under the 7:12 time.

But this third mile…this is the killer.  As you head into Sam Peden Community Park, we get hammered with our first long climb.  This hill isn’t steep…but it is continuous.  Pretty much for the entire half a mile that you run toward that third mile mark.  There is a water stop as you enter the park, but I always bypass it and keep running.  My focus at this point was on pushing myself up that hill.  This was not easy for me…and I could feel myself really fall back on my pace.  And when this hill does level off (nope…no downhill…darn it), you’ve gotten through that third mile.  I was set back now on my time, but I was going to see if I could make it up.  I rounded the corner and started to make my way out of the park.  There was a guy near the apartment complex at the park exit cheering on people. He saw my number and said, “What you got for me, 420?”  HA!

Honestly, I used to dread Schell Lane.  It is the hilliest part of the race.  But, this past summer as I was training for the Kauai Marathon, I made a point to do hill runs in the mornings up Daisy Lane (opposite the way we run it in this race) and then through Schell Lane and back…just so I was getting in various climbs on the hills.  They slowed me down slightly, but the downhills gave me some momentum to make up some time.  The last hill is the hardest, but you get rewarded with the best downhill ever…all the way down Daisy Lane.  I made the turn, and pushed my pace on that downhill hoping to catch some of my time.  This is my favorite part of this race.  I feel so fast and free and alive.  Four miles…done.

The last mile was all that I had left…but I was starting to run out of gas in my legs.  Seriously.  Daisy Lane levels out pretty fast and it’s a huge shift when you’re coming down that hill to suddenly just have…flat.  I proceeded as fast as I could force these legs to move, but I knew I was starting to struggle.  I also knew that I was close to having a time in the 36 minute zone…so maybe…maybe I could at least get a new PR.  I made it my goal to, as always, do my best to make this last mile count.

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Me, crossing the finish line at Fast Freddie’s Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN

At the traffic light, I made the turn and began the last stretch of road back to the Fairgrounds.  I actually do run this stretch a lot and am familiar with the rolling hills.  All that being said…my legs were pretty much done.  But I wasn’t having it.  I was half a mile away, and I was going to press on and see what happened.  As we neared the Fairgrounds, I could hear the crowds of people who were there to cheer, or were waiting on their family members.  That’s the best part, coming into that finish where people line the street and send you down that finishing shoot.  I made the turn to run it into the finish and could hear Cathy screaming at me to run faster.  I managed, my Garmin telling me that as I crossed the finish line, I was hitting a pace around 5:42. Usually I have no finishing kick, but I could now see the clock and my 36+ minute zone was close to closing.  I gave it all I had…

…and managed no new PR…and missed 36 minutes by well over a minute.  But I was done.  I had beat my 2014 time by well over a minute, so given that last year I wasn’t able to run at all…this was a total and complete win.  I think, as I train more this coming year, I’ll find my stride again.  My running has been a struggle as of late, but I’m getting it figured out, little by little.

After crossing the finish line, I went and met up with Cathy and we went to find a spot near the road to cheer on the rest of my #KDF Ambassador team!!  Jack came in first…then Leah…and then Melissa and Paul.  I was there for all of them. And, afterwards, we even got a picture with Santa, who was at the finish.

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Me, Santa, Jack, and Melissa after we finished the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN

You never know what to expect from this race.

The awards were going to be handed out and the raffle drawings were going to be done, so we headed into Newlin Hall, where it was warm, and we all just sort of conversed as prizes were handed out.

And then…as they got to the Female 35-29 age division…I heard my friend Amber Korte get announced as third…I hadn’t even seen Amber.  I wasn’t sure if she was still there, but I cheered loudly.  And the second place was announced.  And then…my name was called for first in my age division.  I was…amazed, to be honest.  In 2013, when I ran my fastest time on this course, I didn’t even place.  When I ran in 2014, I was third in my age division.  So, yeah, I was surprised.  I went over to the table and got my Fast Freddie Mug (they were yellow this year!)…and went back to hang with my friends.  Except…I had some more stuff that needed to be done for Thanksgiving dinner…so we hugged and I said goodbye and headed back home to shower and cook up the remainder of the meal before everyone started arriving.

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The infamous Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast mug as age division awards.  LOVE IT!  First in my age group this year!

The official results of this year’s Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast was that I finished with an official time of 37:03…only 9 seconds off my PR on this course, and a full minute and three seconds slower than my coach was hoping for.  I was 112/866 finishers this year.  I was the 21st female to cross the finish line.  And I was 1st in my age division.  I was disappointed that I didn’t manage the fast time Linda hoped I could run, but I ran really well and really hard…and I still ran better than the last time I ran this race.  I’ll take any small victory at this point.  Maybe, with a little practice, and some hip strengthening, I’ll hit that sub-36.

I hope all of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  I am very thankful for all of you who return to my blog and read about my adventures in running and in travel and food.  I leave you with this Thanksgiving-ish thought:

Whatever feeds your desire, your hunger, and your fire…chase it down this year.

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (October 22, 2016)

Me crossing the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon - Louisville, KY

Me crossing the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Race: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 22, 2016

Time: 1:44:47

It was the weekend before Halloween…and after a few long runs with my running partner, Matthew, he and I had come up with some fun ideas should he choose to run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon with me.  Like…at one point we were going to dress as Batman & Robin…and then, at the halfway point, we were going to switch out so the other person was Batman and the other was Robin.  When we couldn’t find Robin outfits, it changed to Superman & Wonder Woman.  I had the Wonder Woman running costume…but as I said…this race was the weekend before Halloween.  Superman was a bit difficult to come by.  What he did end up with was a great brown cotton shirt.  YES!  We were SO ready for this!

My biggest concern that morning was the chilly air.  My body doesn’t do well in cooler temperatures. Once it gets under the 60s…it’s iffy.  When it hits the 40s, like it did that morning, my body sometimes doesn’t want to function at all.  So, I had to decide if I was going to do a singlet with arm warmers…or just short sleeves.  I went back and forth on it, but totally ended up going with the arm warmers and singlet.  It was a decision I immediately began questioning my decision.

I headed downstairs at my apartment that morning in my outfit choice to see if I could take the cold air.  I did all my physical therapy stretches, warmup moves, and plyometrics and figured…I’d probably warm up when running the half…I’d stick with it.  I’d just wear warm things before the race.  I also donned my KDF Marathon Ambassador shirt for the group picture prior to the race start.  My foot was NOT loving the cold air though, so I knew that this race was going to be about feeling that out and seeing how it did as the miles began to wrack up!  I’ve learned to really listen to my body…so I knew I’d be hyper aware of it as the morning went on.  That being said, I headed back upstairs to eat some cereal and finish up pre-race prep.

Kat and I the morning of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. Next time she's in town, we are so racing together!

Kat and I the morning of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. Next time she’s in town, we are so racing together!

My good friend, Kat, who ran the KDF Half Marathon in 2014 with me…and who I paced the Buffalo Marathon with the same spring, was in town and staying with me.  Poor thing probably had to get up way earlier than she intended that morning, but she was a good sport.  I wished she could have run it too…but another time, for sure!  My roomie, Cathy, and I saw her off (with a vegan and gluten-free breakfast from Annie May’s…and some additional road eats) and then hopped into the car for the dash over the river to Louisville.  Parking wasn’t too much of a problem.  And…to keep me warm on the hike from the car to the photo op, I donned the warm poncho I got at the NYC Marathon in 2014.

I had messaged the other Ambassadors to warn them that I was running a little late, and, I was the last one to show up, but a couple of others had just gotten there as well.  I shed the poncho and set up for the photo op.  I love my Ambassador family and love these little photo op moments together.  Seriously, I want to hang out with them for the rest of my life.  After the photo, I put the poncho back on and texted my running partner, Matthew, to see if he was there yet.  He was…and I told him to stay put…because I was incoming.

My KDF Marathon Ambassador team!! We all ran really good races that day!

My KDF Marathon Ambassador team!! We all ran really good races that day!

Just as I spotted him, my friend, Katie, spotted me.  There were hugs…and photos…and some chatting.  Katie and I have been trying to meet up at races for awhile now.  It finally happened.  YAY!!  Now to find a time to have her over for a run and dinner.  That also must happen.  Maybe sometime during the holidays.  I love hosting people for the holidays.  What do you think, Katie?

Matthew was in the best outfit for running.  A brown cotton shirt and shorts.  He also had a white long sleeve shirt under it because, as I mentioned, it was freakin’ cold that morning.  His girlfriend, Dawn, made sure she got some pictures before wishing him luck.  She and Cathy went to find a good spot at the start line while he and I started to walk down the line to the corrals.  The opening to get into them was a good ways down.  We were back with some over 2 hour pacers, so we did our best to work our way up a bit more.  We were treating this as a fun training run…but we wanted to be somewhere near our normal pace, for sure.  We got as far as we could before the National Anthem…and then…the gun to send us off.

Me and Matt (and Creepy Cathy, HAHA) before the start of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson)

Me and Matt (and Creepy Cathy, HAHA) before the start of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson)

We gave a wave to Dawn & Cathy as we crossed the start line and passed them.  We ran down West Main and made the turn onto 2nd Street and then onto E Muhammad Ali Blvd.  The first mile clicked over and we were off to the training (races).  In fact, Matthew and I just settled in and sort of just started talking.   It was great.  In fact, we actually paced the first 4 miles rather quickly and then, slowed it down on the hills of Cherokee Park.  In doing so, we were able to take on the hills and still feel strong at the top.  Of course, once we climbed to the top at Hogan’s Fountain, I told Matthew that we were hitting my favorite speed…DOWNHILL!!

The next three miles were back up in pace as we came out of Cherokee Park and made our way down Cherokee Parkway to Cherokee Road to Baxter Avenue.  I got a lot…and I mean a lot of Wonder Woman shout-outs.  It made me smile.  I’d wave and smile and pump my fist at anyone who shouted out at me.  But my favorite, I think, came around Mile 9, when a woman shouted, “IT’S WONDER WOMAN!” She turned to her companion and said, “She was always my favorite superhero.”  It’s little things like that, people!!

Matthew and I just after finishing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon - Louisville, KY

Matthew and I just after finishing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

The sun was out and while the air was still cold, the runners were definitely warm at this point.  Matthew said he was glad he wasn’t running a marathon, because we were 10 miles in and he was struggling a bit.  He took in some fuel and we moved into our final three miles.  As we got into the last mile, my legs were ready to move, so I settled into a bit of a faster pace and began to make the dash back down East Main toward the finish line.  I could hear a crowd and an announcer, so I knew it was close.

And then I saw Dawn and Cathy…and they were yelling and shouting.  And I crossed the finish line, foot twinging, but not hurting bad, hip feeling good, and just…glad to be done.  It was a good run.  Matthew came across momentarily after me!

Ron Steve and Me in the After Party area after the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Ron Steve and Me in the After Party area after the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

We received our medal (hey…a training run with bling…LOVE that!), and it made my race to have Chris from the KDF Ambassadors put my medal around my neck.  Seriously, that meant so much to me.  Then, Matthew and I went to do the photo ops.  Afterwards, I spotted a good friend, Ron Steve, who had a brilliant race that day, beating his goal by 2 minutes!!  THAT was very good news.  I wanted him to have a good race and he certainly did!!  We all moved through the chute, getting our water, snacks, bananas, and chocolate milks…and went to the after party setting.  Runners got to have like 8 bourbon shots if they wanted…and got soup and pizza as well.  Because of my food allergies, I didn’t partake, but Cathy did eat my slice of pizza.  It was, apparently, really good pizza.  Dawn and Matthew came to sit with us in the sun and I did get up to do a few leg swings to keep the hip loose.

Me being serenaded by the lead singer of The Louisville Crashers...HAHA!

Me being serenaded by the lead singer of The Louisville Crashers…HAHA!

After getting serenaded by the lead singer of The Louisville Crashers…it was time to get going.  Lots to do that day…and some brunch and grocery shopping was going to start it off.  I said goodbye to Ron, Matthew and Dawn, and went to accomplish the rest of the tasks that needed to be done that day, before heading to the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular later that night with my friend Amanda!

It was quite a day.

So, my official results of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:47, which is a 3 minute improvement from the Indy Women’s Half Marathon.  No rain…just cold.  And I wasn’t even pushing it.  I’ll take that!  I was the 249/2508 finishers overall.  I was 52/1406 women to finish this race.  And in the 45-59 age division, I came in 5/154.  Not bad at all.  I was very happy with the way I ran this race, given some aches and pains, and the cold weather, which never helps.  Yep…definitely a worthwhile training run (race).

Going (Head) Long Into The Wall

So, I was fortunate enough to not have to do my entire long run on my own today.  I had great company for the first 7 miles of my run.  So, big shout out to Ron, who was a key part of keeping me on pace for the early half.

Let’s face it…it’s miserable out there.

humidity
Seriously, I’m not much of a sweater, but I had sweat pooling in my belly button.  That is NOT an exaggeration.  I was drenched.  Another day of that good ol’ swimming pool feeling.  Look, if I wanted to be soaked to the skin, I’ll hop in the pool…but I’m trying to run here.

Needless today…the first climb up Iroquois Park was tolerable.  I was running with Rob, a meteorologist, and learning that lightning causes thunder…not the other way around.  I love learning new things.  So…for about 13 miles of my planned 24-miler…I was feeling good.  So, I turned around at my 13 mile point to head back up to the top of the park again…and then…it all started to fall apart.

Only one word can describe how the rest of the run went…and it isn’t “RUBBISH” this time.  Nope…

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I don’t know if I should be blaming the new fuel I was trying, the heat, the humidity, or what.  I usually do really well in the heat.  But this humidity…it’s been insanely bad this summer.  I’ve never sweat like this.  I mean…my sports bra was a nice light lavender color at the start of my run.  By the time I was done…purple.  A jeweled purple of sorts.  Like I said…I had sweat pooling in my belly button.  WHO HAS THAT HAPPEN??!!

Needless to say, my second climb was less than stellar.  It was just…awful.  I wasn’t hurting…but I was struggling.  I was thankful for some of the shade through that portion.  I managed to get up the hill…around the top…and back down the hill with only a few stops to attempt to gather myself and find a second wind of sorts.  I was downing water (once again) like crazy.  And nothing…nothing was helping.

By Mile 21…I was done.

HIT…THE…DAMN…WALL.

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I have NEVER hit the wall before.  Not in a race…not in a training run.  But this…this was one of the worst feelings in the world.  My legs didn’t want to press on.  My body didn’t want to go anywhere.  I was just…done.

HIT. THE. WALL. HARD.

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I was a mess.  I was falling apart.  And my shoes were squishy.  YES!  My shoes were squishy.  Swampy shoes…for the humidity and heat and the sweat that I was apparently raining down over my entire body.  I was just…DONE!

In fact, after my Garmin beeped over to 21 miles…I stopped.  I stopped and drank the rest of my water (that wasn’t helping!)…and dug my cell phone out of my fuel belt and dialed my roommate.

And I just started to cry…

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This is not an exaggeration.  I actually used those two words…which I hate using…especially in regards to running.

The conversation went like this…

Me: “Where are you?”
Roomie: “On 264…because things took longer than expected…”
Me: “I am done.  I can’t…I can’t go any further.  I’m out of water…I’m dying.  I’m dead.”
Roomie: “Where are you?”
Me: “Somewhere in Iroquois…I don’t know…but I’m dying.”  *bursting into an ugly cry*
Roomie: “I’m going to stop at a Kroger and get you some water and then come get you, okay?”
Me: “How am I supposed to run a marathon when I can’t even do my long runs without dying?”
Roomie: “These are horrible weather conditions.”
Me: *more tears* “These are the conditions I’m probably going to be running in.”
Roomie: “You don’t know that.”
Me: *more ugly cry* “I do…I know…Can you grab me a Sprite Zero too?  I really just want to throw up.”
Roomie: “See you in 15 minutes.”

And then…

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And then I realized…I needed to get back to the amphitheater to meet her because…I was…as I said…somewhere in Iroquois.  So…somehow…I managed to convince myself to suck it up (gluten free) cupcake and get back to the amphitheater at least.  So…I did.  2 miles more and I called it quits.  I felt horrible.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pass out or throw up.  I managed not to do either…because I’m awesome like that…but it was just…it was bad.  I looked bad.  I felt bad.  That last mile I had intended to run…wasn’t worth it.  I had no desire to even attempt it.  I walked around, hoping that would help a little…but ended up sitting down at a picnic table and doing my best to cool off.

The roomie got there soon after, and brought me the Sprite Zero.  A few small sips was where I started because…liquids were not sitting well.  Not even my water.  So…yeah…I was in bad shape.  She had water and coffee for me in the car for when I was ready for it.

Once I was certain I wasn’t going to get sick or die…I managed to snap a few photos…one badass pose and one with a Wrong Way sign…because this was the WRONG WAY to prepare for a marathon.  My 18 miler, my 20 miler, and my 23 (should have been 24) miler…all sucked.  Every single one of them.  And this does not mentally help me prepare for the difficult race course awaiting me in 3 weeks.

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Wrong way to train…or badass…the fact of the matter is…it’s not going as planned.  Nowhere near.  But, I guess when push comes to shove…at least I’m out there.  At least I’m training.  Slow.  Fast.  Hot.  Face melting humidity.  Sweaty-wet shoes and all.  So…I hit a wall…time to learn how to bust through it and get to that finish line.

The taper starts this week…and my confidence isn’t there.  I will get through this.  I have 3 weeks to figure it all out.  Fueling…running…heat…humidity…everything.  And that wall.  I never want to run into that again.  SUCK!  I’ve put in all the time and effort I possibly could…working through injury…and learning new limits because of it.  Yep…time to get this body rested and ready.

Join me, won’t you?

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – Don’t Be Afraid to Fly

So…this is it!  The last long run before the big day.  This is the make or break point.  And, I’m really, really nervous about it.  Every single one of my 20 milers (the 2 prior to this one), I have gutted out…alone.  On my very own.  And while this is nothing new to me, there is something magical about running WITH people.  It just makes the miles seem a little less daunting…and even make them go by a little faster.

That being said…tomorrow…I once again am heading out without a training partner or running buddy…to do this one last long distance run before I start the taper…

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And while I can only hope this last run will look and feel this smooth and effortless, the fact of the matter is…my long runs, as of late, anything over 13 miles, have been rubbish.  And I’m not talking pace.  I run these slower than my regular race pace…I’m talking about how I feel.  Maybe it’s the heat and humidity.  Maybe it’s the fuel (which I have started to change and experiment with as…my stomach cramps the last 18 miler and 20 miler were enough to tell me to quit).  Maybe…it’s just me.  I don’t know.  But more than likely, my run tomorrow will feel more like some kind of combination of the following…

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Seriously…those have been my feels for the last few long runs.  I know some of it has to be the humidity.  For real.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.  It makes me feel better about feeling like crap at the end of it.  Or feeling sick…ill…and just plain…BLAH!  I mean, after my 20 miler 2 weeks ago, I almost passed out in the shower.  So…my problem is 1 of 2 things (or more)…

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OR…

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I wish I could pinpoint it for sure.  My nutrition has been on point for the most part…but I am in the process of trying new fuel for while I am running.  GU started to give me issues.  I don’t like chewing much while running…so beans were out of the question…and I tried Tailwind for awhile, but it started giving me stomach cramps.  Like…horrible stomach cramps.  Went to a running store and had Skratch recommended to me…problem is, it’s more for electrolytes than full-out fuel.  So…it’s a version of NUUN.  I tried it at the Minnesota Half Marathon and knew it wasn’t going to work for any sort of long-distance fueling.  So, I’m going to give Generation UCAN a try.  I have heard good and bad things.  Don’t worry, I have a backup fuel just in case things go horribly wrong.  We shall see.  Here’s hoping.  I have four weeks…FOUR WEEKS…to figure this all out.

I am FREAKING OUT!

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MUST. REMEMBER. TO. BREATHE.

Sort of important to the whole…running thing, yes?

I am hoping, simply, to survive the humidity out there tomorrow.  This past week had runs between 6-7 miles for 3 days of the week…wherein I ran well…really well…but when I stopped moving, I was soaked.  Seriously, it looked like I had just climbed out of a swimming pool, I was that drenched in sweat.  And I am NOT a big sweater.  Yeah…that’s pretty damn humid.  Swimming pool humid.  BLECH.

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Needless to say, physically, I rested today…I ate right…I hydrated.  Physically…I’m ready.  It’s the mental aspect that I’m struggling with more and more as my race gets closer.  I start to doubt myself and when my last few runs have been anything but stellar…well…it just gets hard to believe you can really go the distance.

Really…I just need one…ONE…really good long run.

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Tomorrow…I’m going to give it my best.  Slow…steady…and climbing.  If you see me out there on the hills…give me a wave and a word of encouragement, could you?  I might need it.

Let’s climb.  Let’s get it done.  Let’s hope it all goes according to plan.

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See you at the top!  I hope!  Ready or not (and I don’t feel ready)…the taper starts next week…so this has to happen…whether I finish it running, walking of crawling.  Hitting the hills to mimic some of my marathon course.

Embrace the suck.  Sweat it out.  Push through it.  Run. Rest. Repeat.

Be safe out there if your weather is like mine.  Hydrate and take it slow and steady.  If I can do it…you can too.

Have a great long run.  Who knows…it may go better than expected.

For the record, track and field starts up tonight…use that for motivation and inspiration!

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“Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day.”
-Lauren Fleshman

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