Fourth of July means one thing. The annual 4th of July race. And for the third year in a row, I decided to make the trip down to Lexington, Kentucky for the Bluegrass 10,000. This year it was a bit different. We didn’t ride down with Melissa and Paul this year. Melissa had a baby back in February, so I knew they would have a bit more of a stressful ride down (especially if they were bringing the baby…which they did…and her mom to watch the baby…so full car as it was) trying to juggle everything with a newborn around.
I got in touch with Linda, my former coach and one of my favorite people (she’s an amazing friend) in this world, to see if she could pick up my packet if I registered, and since she’s in charge of the pacers…she said she already was picking up all of those so she would add to mine. I greatly appreciated that. There was no way that I could get to Lexington during a workweek for a Thursday race so I am thankful for people who can help me out.
The night before the race I made tacos. Not weird. I love tacos. And I ended up going to bed relatively early that night, knowing that a very early alarm had to be set for me to get up, hydrate, drink coffee, stretch, change, put on sunscreen, and get on the road by 5 am. The race in Lexington starts at 7:30 am. We managed to have breakfast, get ready, and get on the road right on time. So, that was a definite win.
It was a warm morning, and I dressed appropriately this time. As Wonder Woman. With a bra top instead of a tank top. I’m over the fact that my stomach isn’t flat. Whatever. Comfort is way more important and I wasn’t going to overheat this year.
This year, I was opting to give a go at racing this thing again. I wasn’t sure how I would do. My body isn’t reacting well to the heat/humidity this summer. I’ve never crashed so hard on hot runs (yep…even before the sun comes up) as much as I have this year. Its frustrating. And it does mentally wear you down, but I decided I would just see what I had this particular day. My training was relatively easy leading into a Thursday race. I admit, I might have hit some miles a bit harder than intended…but I felt pretty good on the drive into Lexington.
As we were arriving to our designated spot to park, I got a text from Linda saying where she was parked so we could meet up. We pulled in moments later, and I got out to get a hug and get my race shirt and bib. Cathy pinned me up and Linda and I talked for a bit. Her 8 minute pacer hadn’t shown up yet so she said I might have to hop in and pace. I was willing to do that if necessary. We both took the opportunity to use the bathroom before heading toward the start line. Her 8 minute pacer did show up at this point, so I was reprieved of that duty. Melissa and Paul weren’t here yet…but did arrive after the pacer photo and with about 5 minutes to the start. I wanted to hug Melissa before the start, but she was feeding her baby and Paul was grabbing her stuff. I had to head to the start…and that was that this year.
I lined up near the 8 minute pacer, just as I did last year. But then I saw people who were, once again, talking about how they wouldn’t be able to do that pace…or were definitely not dressed to hold that pace (is that judgey?)…so I moved up. And then moved up some more. The National Anthem was sung. The wheelchair racers were sent off. And we all moved up to wait for our prompt 7:30 am start. We were sent off by a rifle. It was pretty frickin amazing!
Here is where I am changing my plan of action for this race next time I run it. Despite having moved up, I was still blocked by a lot of walkers who were up near the front of the race. I wish this could be monitored a bit more, but it seems that next year, I am just lining up MUCH closer to the start line. I was slowed down considerably here, but the start line is pretty chaotic as it is.
The street is really crowded in that first mile, so I bobbed and weaved as much as I could. We made a turn right before the finish line and headed out to make a loop around some streets. We make a turn around Mile 2 and start up a big hill. It’s not a steep hill, but one of those ongoing hills. It wears you down. I was also making a point to hydrate early and often. So, if there was a water stop…you best believe I was taking a cup and drinking some of it before pouring the rest over my head. Keeping that core temperature down this year. YES! Oh…and they had some cooling stations on some of the miles…so I used those too.
I hit the turn around point and got a bit of a downhill. And this is where I got a lot of Wonder Woman shout outs from people spectating. And I got a lot of call-outs by Linda and her pacers as they came up the other side of the road. Man, that was a booster, even when I started to walk the water stops. No shame in that on a hot day. I enjoyed the downhill portions and really appreciated the guy at Mile 5 with a hose who just sprayed me down as I ran past. It steamed up my sunglasses, but damn…I needed that refreshing hit of cold water.
As I ran past the start line of the race, I could hear the race announcer up the way and was getting pretty excited to finish. I wasn’t looking for a PR today…and I didn’t get one. But I gave it all I could at that finish line. I could hear Cathy screaming at me from the bleachers nearby as I ran past and just got myself across the line. I stopped my Garmin and took a moment to catch my breath.
I made my way over to a table with water and snagged a bottle before heading to the sideline to talk with Cathy, who was heading my way. Shortly after, Linda came across and I went to chat with her for a little bit. I stuck around for a few of the pacers to make their way in, but I knew that we had an important date with lunch and then Season 3 of Stranger Things (which had dropped at midnight). So, I gave Linda a hug and we headed out to get back to our car.
On the way back, we did get to see Melissa and Paul. Melissa switched with the 15 minute pacer and was getting her group to the finish line in good form. Cathy tried to take pictures, but they weren’t prepared. I was happy to have caught them before we left.
We went to Target to kill off some time. Cathy got us some more coffee and a bit of a
snack before we walked around, killing off time before Bella Notte opened for lunch. There was SO much Stranger Things stuff. How I didn’t buy it all…I will never know. We polished off the coffee and headed over to the mall to walk a little more. Ducked into a few stores, then finally went to Bella Notte to grab lunch. I had my usual. Cathy went with something new and different. And as our entrees were arriving, Melissa, Paul, Deb and baby arrived. Melissa came over to chat with us before they ordered, and we stopped by as we were about to head out. We finished eating. We stopped in at Half Price Books. And we mad the drive back home to get through as much of the new season of Stranger Things as we could…because we were working a half day on Friday and gone all weekend.
And we got 6/8 episodes in before we had to call it. Not bad.
I’m not sure if I am more proud of that or how I did in the race this year. I beat last year’s time by 1 minute, but no distance or course PR this year. It eludes me again.
My official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 47:40…in the best weather (still humid and hot) that I have had in the 3 years I have run it. And that’s with walk/water stops. I was 294/2969 finishers overall. I was 41/1491 female finishers. And I was 6/244 in my age division. I actually was better placed this year (with more finishers in each category)…except for my age group. I need to get out of my head a bit more and just learn to be a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
You remember (probably not, but throwing it out there anyway) how last year I said I was going to return to the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon? Well, I was certainly good on my word. Prior to my blog even being posted last year, I was already registered to run in 2019. And at the end of March…it was time to go.
A couple of things though…
Remember that knee bruising I had from my fall at the beginning of March? Well…that was better. The problem was…the week of this particular half marathon, my knee started to really be painful when I was out running…but mostly just when I would go up and down the stairs. You know me. I went into full panic mode and texted my coach. He’s a physical therapist and he told me to rest it up until race day. I did exactly that. Slept in. No spin. No weights. Rest. So, essentially, I took off Thursday and Friday. The race was Saturday. And though this, I felt like my knee…SORT OF felt better. A little. It still twinged whenever I went down or up the stairs (more so up), but for the most part…better. So that was a good thing. I guess?
I had to work a half day on Friday, and left the office just shortly after eating my lunch. It was something simple. Soup, I think. It isn’t important. I had snacks packed for the car to have prior to going into the expo. And my roommate (who was participating in the Yearling, which is 3.65 miles, on Saturday morning) and I got into the car and started to make our way to Lexington.
The trip was easy and this time we didn’t take the weird back way that put us on some of the course. This was direct to Keenland. And I was ready to get my bib and shop the expo. That, in and of itself, is dangerous, because I tend to throw away a lot money at this particular race expo. The swag is just that good!! I ended up getting my bib at the first little stand (my number was in the 1000, so I was in the first wave) and then proceeded to look at all the merch, ended up purchasing a cute sweatshirt and the official Run The Bluegrass Ponya Band (I did the Ponya Band last year too), and then tapped out to head into the actual expo part and peruse the booths. I had come in 13th in the Director’s Challenge, so I had a few prizes to pick up as well, including some free socks at one of the booths in the back. I got my official race shirt, then the upgrade to the really nice race jacket with the heat sheet inside (SO HAPPY). And then decided I had done enough damage for the day and went back up front to snag the rest of my Director’s Challenge swag (ear buds, Road ID gift certificate, gloves, and a couple of other nice things). I ran into a couple of friends and then we went to drive into Lexington to stop into Ethereal Brewing to pick up the glass I won in the Director’s Challenge. Cathy was very tempted to get a beer, and spotted one that looked interesting, but decided against it. I boooooooed her for that decision. But we needed to hit up the hotel, drop stuff off, and relax before meeting up with our friends Ron & Shawn Steve for dinner at Bella Notte (of course).
Upon arriving at the hotel and starting to unload our luggage, Cathy realized that we didn’t have the cooler with us (the one she moved off the kitchen counter and set by HER luggage) that had my fuel, my BCAAs, my snacks…all the things. THIS…was a HUGE problem.
I might have shouted at her for a long time about it. And instead of relaxing in the hotel, we now had to head into Lexington and attempt to find fuel for the half marathon tomorrow. The problem being, most places don’t sell my fuel of choice, UCAN. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE carries it in stores. We first went to a sporting goods store, and all they had was Sword. I don’t use Sword and have only used it in a half marathon I was pacing as fuel. And while I had no issues with it…I was trying to put some effort into this race. No good. We were getting close to dinner time, but we spotted a Vitamin Shoppe, so we took a chance and pulled in there. They had less options for me to really use. But we looked around. Lots of electrolytes but nothing that was actually good for me to use as fuel.
We left emptyhanded from there too, and I was in full-on pissed off panic mode. But dinner time was nigh, so we pulled into Bella Notte just minutes before Ron and Shawn showed up. It was perfect timing. No reservations were being taken, but we had no problems getting seated. They no longer have a separate gluten free menu, but I know what I always get here. And this was no different. Ron got the lasagna, both Cathy and Shawn got the Spaghetti & Meatballs, and I got…the Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata. It came with a salad ahead of it…so I got that minus the croutons and with the balsamic.
We ate, we talked work, life, and racing (of course). It was sometime in the restaurant that Daniel, my coach, sent me the race plan for this particular half marathon. To be fair, I don’t think he understood how difficult this course actually is. He wanted me to use the first mile as a warm up, then push for 8-10 miles at a 7:45 pace, then use the rest to either continue that pace or to ease back and use it as a cool down, depending on how I felt. And I might have scoffed and laughed out loud when that text came over my phone. I told him I would try, but made no promises with the hills. He told me it was about effort, not pace. We all still got a laugh though about my race plan. Inside, I think I was starting to panic more than a little. We all passed on desserts and headed out, giving hugs and wishing everyone luck on their races the following morning. Cathy and I had just enough time to swing by John’s Run Walk Shop, hoping to get something to use for fuel. Again, we found a lot of Sword (Sword must be the sponsored fuel of Lexington, Kentucky), but thankfully they had some Honey Stinger gels in there too. I haven’t fueled with Honey Stinger gels in a while, but had in the past…so it was what I had to work with. I bought two of them, plus the Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Waffle. And it was going to have to work. We finally headed back to the hotel so we could cycle through showers and get everything ready for the morning. Stretch. Foam rolling. And eventually get some sleep. Our time was definitely way more constricted now thanks to The Great Search for Runner Fuel.
The alarm went off that morning and we immediately began to get ready for our respective races. The weather looked perfect for running. It was in the high 50s, so tank top and shorts were the obvious choice. There was a chance for rain, but it was supposed to kick in later on in the day. So, that was a plus. I was supposed to be done long before that kicked in and started. The half marathon started at 9:00. The Yearling kicked off at 8:50. And all the photos were to be done at 8:30 with groups like Mom’s Run This Town/She Runs This Town. I texted my friend Melissa (who was about 5 weeks off of having a baby) and she was here, but down near the start. I wanted to get my pre-race hug she always gives me, so I forwent the official photo and headed down to the start area. And never found her or met up with her. Cathy did run into one of her high school friends though. So at least she got a pre-race hug.
I walked Cathy into the corral for the Yearling and hung with her there. My friend Michael, who came in from New York to run this, found me there and we stayed there up until we had to clear out so that only Yearling runners were in there. I wished Cathy luck, gave her a hug, and went to wait for Wave 1 to be moved up to the start.
The Yearling was sent off after the singing of the National Anthem…and it was to “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman. Which…I knew Cathy would love. And it turns out…she did.
The wheelchair racers were sent off next. I could not even imagine racing Run The Bluegrass in a wheel chair. The hills in this race as massive and hard enough to run up. More on that later. LOL! Michael and I lined up and wished each other good luck on the race. It is really one of the most stunning and beautiful half marathons around, so I told him to take it in and enjoy it…and if by chance he caught up to me because my race plan wasn’t going well, we could maybe run it in together.
And then we were off…to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Which, for the record, is one of my favorite race pump-up songs. I ran easy (well, I thought it was easier than it actually was, apparently, for that first mile, which takes us up our first major climb. I clocked that one in 7:58…so definitely faster than I anticipated or meant to be for my warm up. Now it was time to kick it and see what I could handle.
Mile 2 and Mile 3 were right on pace. But they were hard. This race has somewhere between 33 and 37 hills (it depends on who you ask), and some are manageable, and some will completely kill your speed. I felt good for those miles, but as I went into Mile 4, my heart rate was really high and I took a walk break. And it pretty much broke me to do that so early in a race. I knew I was now completely off my race plan and, you know how much of a perfectionist I am…it bothered me. A lot. I had been training really well, save for the fall that screwed with my knees, but this…this just destroyed my confidence. I know that this is a difficult course, and tried to keep reminding myself of that, but, dammit…I know I am better than that.
The next mile I managed to pick it back up. A little. But it did help to see that 7 pace again. I hit it at 7:55…so not in the range he wanted me at, and it was the last 7-something pace I would see that day. Walking the hills became my method of survival. I would run up some of them, but I was being very careful since I could tell my heart rate wasn’t in a good place and I didn’t want to push it. I fueled at the halfway point with my Honey Stinger gel. And I do get the ones with caffeine, but I don’t think it made any difference. My legs weren’t going to wake back up. At least I was running when I went past the photographer around Mile 7. HA! And, thanks to a friend of mine, I got the shirtless thumbs up guy behind me edited out of my picture. YAY!
Mile 9 is the roughest. You hit it just as you start up with hill. This massive hill. And just when you think you are done with it, it turns and goes up some more. This is the infamous S-turn hill…with drums that sort of inform you of your impending doom. This hill did me in and I took the lonest walk break I have had to take just to get up it. And, the entire time, I was just getting madder and madder at myself.
Does anyone else do this?
I had a 5K left, and I gave myself the pep talk…that a 5K wasn’t far and that I could do this. And I took only a few more walk breaks in that time, trying to hydrate myself well (I was racing with my hydration pack). I think I did okay with that. It also rained at this point. Yep. Rained. It was brief…but unexpected as ran wasn’t supposed to move in until later than that. I hit the Mile 12 marker and attempted to pick it up again. When you get to 12.1, you go over a mat, and you get timed on your final mile. Some of this does go uphill, and I told myself this one I couldn’t walk. This one I had to run in. And I managed to mentally push myself to do just that. The official results clocked my final mile as a 7:06. My Garmin had me at a 8:59. LOL!!
This time, Cathy did happen to catch me at the finish line and snap some photos. I made sure to snag a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (I can’t eat them, but Cathy can) and high five the race director on the way to the finish line. Did I meet my goal for this race at all? Not even close. I gave up on myself and the plan in really early on. But I needed to take care of me, and that high heart rate had me concerned. I still hate that I walked so much. That being said, I had a strong finish and at least I did finish. So, there is power in that, for sure.
I met up with Cathy at the end of the chute. She said she had a really good race, even on her challenging hills, and even took beer at the beer/water stop that we all come across in our respective distances. She does it all. HA! We made our way over to the starting gates to get the required photo inside. I managed to get myself up, but getting down is always an issue. Cathy carried me down like a child…per usual. But this year, she got to understand the struggle as she had to do it too, as she finished the Yearling. Afterwards, I gave her my free beer (she had one of her own ahead of me) and I snagged her a free breakfast sandwich as well before we went inside. My friend Michael finished about 8 minutes behind me and he came to find us. I asked if he got his photo in the gates, and he hadn’t so I took him out to be sure we got him that.
Soon after, I found myself purchasing more stuff at the expo. HA! I bought the most stunning pair of leggings with “Dream Big” on the side and pockets from Bend Active. They are super comfortable too. I snagged the last in my size and couldn’t have been happier about that. You don’t realize how important pockets in leggings are until you need a pocket. They are my favorite pair of leggings I own now.
After that, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and change and we could pack up and head out. Thank God, this hotel had late checkout. We gathered our belongings and packed up the car. We were going to meet up with Michael back in Louisville later for sushi before heading to the Louisville City FC Soccer Game. But the rain had moved in at this point, and sitting out in the cold wet…sounded awful. They ended up postponing the match until Sunday, but Cathy and I had other things going on that day. Michael ended up going Sunday, but we did get him to my favorite Sushi joint…Dragon King’s Daughter, and took him back to his hotel afterwards.
So, my official results of the 2019 Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon are that I finished it in 1:51:14, pretty far off of what I know I am cable of, honestly. Meh. You win some, you lose some, you walk more than you want to on really big ass hills sometimes. I was 233/2635 finishers overall. I was the 53/1660 for women finishers. And I was 12/321 in my age division. So, I mean…not great. But not bad either. This wasn’t the mental boost that I was hoping it would be…but its done. And, yes, I’m already registered for next year. Time to run more hills. For real.
There is something to be said about not coming into a race wanting to smash it. Pressure can be a friend or foe, and with me, more often than not…it’s foe.
There is also something to be said about choosing an almost local half marathon to run…one that you’ve wanted to run for a couple of years but have always been riding the injury train…and spending it with important people in your life. Not fussing over all the minutiae…stressing over goal times…all the stuff that comes with races.
There is something to be said about running the race that is billed as “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon.” Running it, my friends, but really taking it in. Drinking in the gorgeous horse farms, and the running horses by the roads you are running, taking selfies with strangers and friends alike.
Yeah…it’s something I rarely get to experience because I do get wrapped up in finish times more than finish lines sometimes. That was a lot of “-imes and -ines” all at once, yeah?
I registered for the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon after being encouraged by my enabler…er…friend…Melissa. I knew this one was going to be a tough course, as I heard about the, anywhere from 33-40 hills (it’s all in who you ask and talk to!). We all know, my broken down hips love the downhill and flat spaces. The uphills…well…let’s just say I’m working on that.
My coach, Linda, actually provides her runners as pacers for this race. No…I did not sign up to be a pacer. She and her local and amazing Frankfort pack were going to see runners to their goals on race day. Linda was going to be pacing the 2:10 group, fresh off of the Chattanooga Marathon where she punched her ticket to the Boston Marathon next year. I was told to line up with her and to stick with her. And while, for a brief moment, I felt like I was wasting an opportunity to race…it turned out this was a blessing in disguise (and maybe it was all part of her plan from the start…Melissa is convinced that it was!).
The Friday before the race just happened to be Good Friday. So, my office gave all employees a half day. This meant that Cathy and I could hit the road to Lexington early and get to the expo and have some time to look around. I had packed some Asian soup for us to eat before we hit the road, and we had dinner plans that night with Melissa and Paul at the BEST place to get pasta in Lexington – Bella Notte.
The drive down was easy and uneventful. We were pumping ourselves up for the race, so I put in the Britney Spears Greatest Hits album (don’t judge!) and played it all the way through. Then, my Garmin GPS in the car took us some weird route toward the race expo, where we were driving on narrow back roads. It was wet and rainy and beautiful. We passed a chicken farm…where I declared, “That there is a chicken farm!” Because, I wanted to talk in a hick-deep-South accent, I guess.
It was at that turn, however, that Cathy made note of the signs marking the Run the Bluegrass route. As we turned and took the road toward Keeneland, where the race expo and the start of the race would happen, we wound through the beautiful horse country. And as Cathy pointed out the course signs, she literally turned her head and said…
“You’re going to die tomorrow.”
I am still laughing over this…because she knows my hatred of uphills. And there were going to be 30 something uphills to conquer. She probably wasn’t wrong. My saving grace was going to be running with Linda…my coach…the 2:10 pacer. Linda and I have run in the same races before, but never together. So, I was pretty stoked about it. Linda was too. And that helped.
We arrived to the expo and parked the car. Keeneland is gorgeous and we walked into the main building of the expo where you are immediately greeted, handed info books and catalogs and directed to the packet pickup area. This is done by bib number, which is corresponding with the corral/wave that you are in. My bib was 1052…first corral…but I was falling back to wherever Linda was going to be stationed. I texted Linda as I got there and then went to get my bib. A lot of the Frankfort runners were manning packet pick-up and when I gave my bib number, I was given a long look, the bib was flipped over to get my name info, and she said, “I though that was you, Karen. You’re just not in running clothes.” That must be one of those #runnerproblems.
Linda caught up with me just as I was entering the expo space to look at all the things for sale and really just wanting to buy everything. We hugged and she showed me all the great things I should by. In the end, I ended up with one of the Run The Bluegrass Ponya Bands (I was going to get a Bondi Band, but was literally seconds too late as the woman at the table and grabbed the last two), and the official Run The Bluegrass jacket, which is gorgeous and I love it and want to wear it all the time. It has, actually, come in handy with the crazy rainy days we’ve had since the race. I also had Cathy buy me some of the special popcorn from Popcorn Paradise.
Melissa and Paul were on their way in, so we made the rounds through the rest of the expo and checked out all the vendors. I’m still searching for some shoes that I can simply train in (so I don’t wear out those hard-to-find Newton’s that I race in), but none of the ones for sale at the expo spoke to me. Ah well. I did finally get to try Sword. It was pretty good…but I’m still doing well with my combo of Hammer gels and Nuun Performance. When my stomach is happy…I stick with it.
At the very back of the space, you get to pick up your race shirt. In this case, it’s this t-shirt hoodie thing. Which, honestly, has become my favorite thing to wear at the moment. Just slip it over my workout clothes and good to go. They also had out next year’s gear and…the hoodie shirts aren’t coming back. They are bringing in long sleeve and short sleeve tech shirt options, and the upgrade jacket has omni heat lining.
I ran into Tammy and Dean back here and we got to talk for a little bit. This was also their first time running Run The Bluegrass…so we were all pretty excited to be taking part in it this year. They were catching dinner at BJ’s…and we were hoping to squeak in as walk-ins at Belle Notte eventually. They went to head out and we turned around to go back toward the front of the expo.
Melissa and Paul texted to say they were parking so Cathy and I maneuvered back up to the entrance area. Twenty minutes later and we were wondering if they got lost in the parking lot. But, they did eventually come through the doors, hit up the bourbon table, got their bibs and texted to see where we were. I texted back to turn around.
And we were reunited. We all made our way back through the shopping, vendors, and races that were there to hopefully catch your eye. Many of them did…so…who knows. Paul replaced his sunglasses as his old pair went missing on the NYC trip. And they got their shirts/jackets. Melissa stayed with the hoodie…but Paul had upgraded to the men’s jacket. It was NICE!
As we were standing around about to try more Sword, I got a text from my friends Ron and Shawn, and they came on back to where we were so we could talk for a moment. Ron was going for a race PR the following day and he looked relaxed and ready. They would be heading to Bella Notte for dinner as well later that evening.
With all the expo excitement done, the four of us split up to make the trek to Belle Notte for our pre-race dinner. Bella Notte has an amazing gluten-free menu and knowledgeable staff. I have never had issues at this restaurant, and I make sure I eat here every time I’m in Lexington. I often contemplate trying something else…but in the end…I always end up getting the same thing: Gluten-Free Pasta Arrabiata with a Salad (no croutons; no cheese) with their balsamic dressing. Melissa got the Caesar Salad (no croutons) and the Bella Original Rigatoni Crema (which actually comes out as Fusiili pasta). Cathy got the Tomato Basil Soup and the Bella Origina Rigatoni Crema, and Paul got Salad and got the Baked Rigatoni Romano. There was a lot of food…but it was all fantastic, good…and we ate it all. I was on the right amount of full. And afterwards, we went to walk it all off for a bit at the Half Price Books nearby and then hit Kroger up for some bananas, waters, and whatever else we needed for the hotel room.
The plan was to play some games (it’s been awhile since game night and that was the never-ending game of Stranger Things Monopoly). But instead, we ended up watching a few YouTube Videos (one a comedian doing a bit about fitness trackers and joggers…and triathletes. It was funny…and of course…Marathon Thoughts). And then Melissa had us watch the episode of The Office where they run a 5K for rabies awareness. It was so funny. So…the games didn’t happen..but we were chill and relaxed and got our stuff laid out for the following morning to help make life easier. Cathy made up my Nuun Performance to go in my water bottle for fuel and then we did a Shaun T stretching video to realign, relax, and prepare ourselves for some sleep and hopefully get out the door on time to head to the start the next morning.
I heard some horror stories about the traffic going into Keeneland on race day.
I actually slept really well. My alarm went off at the same time as theirs. And, much like when we shared the Suede Tomb in NYC…we just sort of went in rounds through the bathroom. I snagged my race clothing (I started in a tank top and running skirt…and of course had my sports bra) to change into while I used the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I came out of the bathroom to let whoever was next go in and do their thing. And while that was going on…I put on my compression sleeves, my anklet, my earrings, put my hair extensions in and put my hair in pigtails…
…and then Melissa checked the weather again. And everything needed to change. It was about 30 degrees at the start of the race with a decent wind going on. I changed my entire outfit to a totally different tank top (which I added arm warmers to), bright capri’s…changed my compression sleeves and then put on a jacket and my pants over it to stay warm. It was going to be close to 50 by the time I would be finishing the race…but we were starting in the freezing temps. This is why I don’t know how to dress in spring.
To top everything off…I donned my “Hills Suck” Bondi Band. It was perfect for this race.
Cathy headed down to the restaurant to snag some real food from the complimentary breakfast. Apparently runners had this plan too because she texted that she was in a line. She grabbed an English Muffin (line too long to toast it), potatoes, eggs, and bacon and gobbled it down while the runners of the group got their shit together and headed down. Melissa wasn’t sure how the race would go, so she and Paul went ahead and loaded their stuff up into their car instead of bothering with late checkout. I went to find Cathy and she casually finished her breakfast, got her coffee to go, and we were all out the door and en route to Keeneland. Cathy took the first gate (despite instructions to take Gate 2) and we got stuck in a bit of a line waiting to get parking. Melissa and Paul took Gate 2 and got in and parked in a prime spot without a wait. Naturally.
We ended up being directed up a hill with every other vehicle coming in at that point and parking in the grass in the middle of a field. Thankfully the grass wasn’t too soft from all the rain we’ve been getting or I fear my little Toyota Corolla would have had some problems getting out. We sat in the warm car until I heard from Melissa and Paul that they were heading to the RunDisney tent for the meetup photo there. Cathy made me get out into the cold, but we decided to wander into the expo building. I figured I could use a flushing toilet while there…but then I saw the line and, since I really didn’t have to go…I really didn’t bother to wait in the slow moving ladies room line. Hey…the port-a-potty lines were just as long. We eventually did make our way out to the muddy tent area, found Melissa and Paul and then went on a Linda h
unt. Since she and her runners were pacers, it was no surprise that they weren’t at the tent. Cathy decided we needed to head down to the start line anyway.
And on the way, I did fuel up with my Banana Bread Lärabar. The bar worked for New York, even though I definitely used more energy there. Actually, with all the hills…I figured it would probably be comparable effort. Maybe?
At the start line…I saw no one. No one that I recognized. No pacers yet. So I devoured my breakfast and then finally saw a smiling, happy face. Ron!! He was hoping to run a RTB (Run The Bluegrass) PR (he has been saying if he can sub-1:45 he’d burn a couch) and he looked good and strong and we had perfect weather. I told him I knew he was going to do it and wished him luck and let him go and get lined up where he needed to achieve his goals. Then, I saw Tim walk by with the 1:45 pacer sign. AH…the pacers were here…which meant Linda would be here. Which meant, I needed to head back in the corrals and find her.
On the way, I spotted Greg, who was a 2:00 pacer and stopped to give him a hug and talk to him. He told me Linda was the next corral back to lead Wave 3 out…so I told him to have a good race and skipped back to where I saw the next pacer sign. YES! There was Linda and her pacing partner, Mark! I had never met Mark, but I had seen him earlier, because he was wearing a kilt. I notice kilts!
The start of the race was actually delayed by about 15 minutes because the ambulances were stuck in traffic and not at their stations on the course. So, I got to know some of the people around me. I had this couple asking me questions about my Newton running shoes…we talked about half marathons…and then…finally…go-time!!!
Except…I was in Wave 3…so it was walk up with the 2nd wave and wait…and then finally move to the front. I think Linda said there was supposed to be 2 minutes between waves, but as we got to the front of the line for Wave 3, I heard the announcer say 40 seconds before Wave 3’s start. Two minutes my runner’s booty!
And just like that…I was off…running my very first Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon. So many of the runners I know continue to return to this race, so I knew I was in for something special. I also knew that I could really take in the experience, which was both frustrating and amazing all at once. My legs like to run…and I was moving at a trot (horse reference, get it?). I knew that hills awaited and, honestly, this was probably the best way for this race to be approached. Linda had the breakdown specific to this race on how each mile needed to be run and I’m not used to checking my watch, but I figured I could at least help with that. Maybe?
We headed up Keeneland’s Back Gate Drive – the first hill…and I felt strong and my legs really wanted to push and power up…but more hills awaited and Linda was keeping me right where I needed to be. She’s good at that. HA!
I knew this was going to be a good run when I saw horses within the first couple of miles. Seriously. Horses that were in one of their fields. They were running away from the big group of humans that were running and we all joked that the horses were thinking, “Well, all the people are running…we should too.” HA!! It was…SO amazing. We were still ahead of pace, and Linda said that worked to our advantage because that meant we could walk some of the bigger hills. I was totally okay with that.
There were definitely a couple of selfie-stops along the way. And when we hit the split for the 7 Milers and Half Marathoners (which also happened to be that Chicken Farm) and said to Linda to take note to tell Cathy…because I promised her I’d say it. And then I let go with my “That there is a chicken farm!” I had so much fun running with Linda and the group of runners that she and Mark were leading. I got to talk to a few of them about Disney races, Dopey, New York City, and Linda let me in on a secret…it’s good luck to throw your hands up in the air when you run across railroad tracks. So, the three sets that we crossed during this race, I did that and let out an enthusiastic, “WOOOOO!” at the same time. I mean, if you’re going to do something…do it with gusto!
It was also around the second or third water stop that we realized that, unlike it was stated in the race guide, Sword was not at every water stop. And this concerned a lot of runners who had planned to use this as their fuel on the course and didn’t bring their own. Every water stop we would ask for the Sword…and were told they just had water. A few runners were already starting to panic as the day was heating up (I shed my arm warmers and was comfortable in a tank), the sun was up, and electrolytes were needed. I always carry my own fuel regardless, so I said I had Nuun Performance if needed…and Linda had salt tabs to offer if needed as well. We FINALLY ran across a stop with Sword at the halfway point. That came as a relief…but the rest of the way…Sword was only in one or two other water stops. That would be my only compliant…mostly from other runners standpoints. I have never trained with Sword and am kind of in love with my Nuun, but I could see the frustration and worry of those I was running with who were looking for Sword at every stop.
That being said, the various farms that we came across were stunning. I particularly liked the one near the end that had spires and is just absolutely stunning. The fact that that is a BARN and not a house still baffles me! Honestly!
Going into this race, I was warned about the hill at Mile 9…the dreaded S-Curve. You start up…it levels out, you round a corner…you go back up. I was prepping for this and the drums pretty much the entire way. This hill is, apparently, notorious! As we were heading toward this hill though, we were coming up another one and had caught up with the wheelchair racer. He was blind as well and had his helper. The runners did good to get over at this point, but Linda said to me…”they will fly past us on the downhill in a few minutes.
She heard them too…and started to shout to the runners to GET TO THE RIGHT! Of course, most did, except those with headphones on. One woman almost got completely taken out because she couldn’t hear the TEN times Linda had shouted at her to move over for the wheelchairs. And then…The hill leading into Mile 10. The dreaded hill I heard so much about.
As we started the climb, a runner started up it with us and said, “This isn’t so bad.” I laughed and said, “Those might be famous last words.” She shook her head. “Nah. I’m from Cincinnati…I run Mount Adams.” And then she picked it up and powered on up the hill
I did hear the drums that I had heard so much about. I was told to put my head down and ignore everything and to just get up the hill. We climbed, turned…and climbed some more. That being said…the hill after that one is probably the one that you’ll hate more than anything.
Linda did pass me her pacer sign at this point to run fast downhill to hit use the bathroom near Mile 10. Mark had me back off the downhill pace (downhill is my favorite speed…this was hard to do, LOL!) and he let Linda know we were going past as we rounded the corner at the water stop and continued onward. Linda is amazing and caught up with us not much longer…on an uphill. We like to make her work for it. After all, running slower than my norm is not easy for me and she had to keep calling me back if I would get too far ahead on the course. Around Mile 10 I had to take a gel. My stomach was rumbling (I was usually done with half marathons at this point and I still had three miles to go) and drank some water with it. It didn’t really do much for the hunger, but my energy was picking back up.
Near the start of the race, Linda had told me that she was going to let me go at Mile 12.1 to spring into the finish line. Just after we passed Mile 11…she said, “You can go.” I looked at her. “Really?” She nodded. “Yes…you can go.” I threw my hands up in the air in a kermit flail and yelled, “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY” as I took off. And trust me, despite the hills, I had energy to burn at this point. I know I was probably getting the stink eye from some runners at this point. Pretty much legs are done by this point, but the course only has some small rollers with the long not-steep climb at the end to the finish line. So, I’m surging. But, more often than not, what I got was, “You go girl!” “That’s how you finish!” “Looking strong.” “Get it girl!” I loved that. I wasn’t even moving up to race pace at this point, because hills, even at a slower pace, are still hills and my legs weren’t accustomed to running fast. They adjusted.
The final two miles flew by and when I hit the timing mat at Mile 12.1, I tried to pick it up just a little more. They record your final furlong (last mile) and I really hoped to pour on the power and speed. I think I managed to pick it up slightly more, but not where I would feel like I was just…flying. But I felt good. I was having fun. I was smiling. I looked good. And I made the turn to come into the finish line and put on that final push and crossed.
That. Was. Fun.
I had a medal put around my neck and I made my way through the finisher’s chute. The entire time I was heading into the finish, I was looking for Cathy and the sign, but never saw her. Never heard her either (which is weird, because she is always screaming at me at the finish line!). I stopped near the end of the chute, across from the donuts and just…kept raising up on tiptoes expecting to see the sign walking toward me. It never happened.
Ron found me. He had a fantastic race…and there will be couch burning because he ran a 1:40. Totally flew on this course. I was so excited for him. I asked him if he had seen Cathy and he hadn’t. Soon after that, I spotted Linda coming down the chute. She came over to me and asked me my finish time. I said it was 2:04 something…and she said she was in the 2:09’s…right on target for that 2:10 pacer! She’s amazing. I asked if she had seen Cathy and she hadn’t…so…we figured she might be at the ForWord Running tent so we headed that way.
She wasn’t. I told Linda to try calling her, which she did, but Cathy didn’t answer. So, she tried my phone. This time she got her. Cathy had been in a panic for about 20 minutes because she had gotten the time I crossed the mat for 12.1 miles, but never received notification that I had finished. She never saw me sprinting it in. She thought maybe something had happened to me, and of course, having Linda call her didn’t make her feel any better. Linda assured her I was fine and we were at the tent. She came over and looked so relieved.
I ate a few grapes and drank my water, but I knew Cathy and I had a Louisville City soccer match to hit up at 3 pm. With it coming up on noon-ish at this point…Cathy was ready to get back to the hotel so I could shower and we could get on the road back to Louisville. I gave Linda a hug and we started through the masses.
But I did make Cathy stop, even though she didn’t want to at the time, so I could get the infamous Keeneland Starting Gate photo. It had to happen and I was going to be stubborn about this one. I managed to find a short line and pulled myself up to stand in the gate. I felt amazing. Cathy snapped some photos and then had to lift me down because that gate is pretty high up. HA!
Later, when I sent the photo to Melissa, she texted me back and said that was the most genuine smile she had seen on me after a race/run in a long time. She wasn’t lying. I felt amazing. I had so much fun. I could have cared less about my time. Genuine. You better believe it.
So…the official results of the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon are that I finished it in 2:04:43, running with the 2:10 pacers for the first 11 miles and then being turned loose for the final 2.1. I was 743/3163 finishers overall. I was the 283/1989 for women finishers. And I was 65/388 in my age division. I’m really happy with this. I averaged a 9:32 pace for the race, none of which ever left me feeling like I was dying or about to die. The hardest thing was suddenly being hungry. That never happens. LOL! But this race now holds a near and dear place in my heart…and yeah…I’ve already registered for next year! Can’t wait to smile all over again.
OMG, you guys!! I was finally able to participate in a 4th of July race. I have been wanting to do this for ages, but usually my schedule (events) or injury have prevented this from happening. And while I’m still not to my 100%, nor where I would like to be in my running, I was excited to be participating in this race.
Well, my friends talked me into it.
Seriously. I blame the likes of Melissa, Paul and Linda. Because while there are races closer to home, this one was one I had heard so much about. So…I pulled the trigger on it about a week or so before the actual race…and registered.
No backing out now.
I decided this would be the perfect race to bring back my Wonder Woman running outfit. As I was nicknamed Wonder Woman with my running group ages ago…the outfit always makes me feel confident and strong. And, let’s face it, it’s the perfect 4th of July outfit.
Cathy and I made arrangements with Melissa and Paul to carpool from the Louisville area down to Lexington together. My running coach, Linda, had picked up my packet for me (there is NO race day pickup…which I didn’t know until I read an e-mail closer), so I had to meet her around 6:30 AM…meaning…pickup at the apartment was happening at 5 am.
Melissa was cool with this (she was driving)…so plans were set.
I was up before 2 am on the 4th of July to do my PT exercises and stretches…both inside and out. It was pretty damn humid out. And there was a reason. Rain was coming. But I managed to get all my stuff done before any sort of rain came in. I think it might have sprinkled a little while I was inside finishing up the stretching, but it was done by the time Cathy woke up, ate a light breakfast, and we headed down to wait for our ride.
And they arrived right on time. In the dark of night. Well…I suppose it was the dark of pre-ass-crack-of-dawn, honestly. Cathy sat up front with Melissa (as she tends to get carsick at times), and Paul and I sat in the back. I had it in my head to take my power nap…but we were chatting for the entire ride to Lexington, and that’s fine. I would much rather have the social time than the nap.
When we arrived in Lexington, it was raining. MEH. I was prepared for this and wore my old rain shoes, which I didn’t want to do, but I just had a feeling…that’s what I was going to need that day. We parked across from Rupp Arena and I messaged Linda to find out where she was so I could meet up with her and get my packet. She was under the bridges behind Rupp Arena and with a little bit of cell phone-fu…we managed to get directions around the building and park where the rest of her people were parking. This actually worked in our favor as it made for an easy exit after the race.
We didn’t have a lot of time to sit and chat, but I FINALLY got to introduce Linda to Melissa…which Linda has been wanting to have happen for awhile now. Since April, actually. SO…YAY!! Cathy pinned me up and managed to stab me in the stomach with the safety pin. I like to joke that I was bleeding out after that. HA! She also pinned up Melissa and then we helped Melissa with rain shoe choices. Trust me…this is SUPER IMPORTANT when you’re running in the rain.
Once we were all pinned up, we all (meaning the four of us and Linda’s crew as well) began to make the walk to the start line. Linda had an idea of where flushing toilets might be along the way…via the convention center. The door happened to be unlocked, so we moseyed on in. We had only gotten halfway toward the bathrooms when a security guard came rushing at us in a panic, inquiring as to how we got in. Linda explained that the door was unlocked and he was all, “Well, it’s not supposed to be!” She asked if we could at least use the bathrooms, and he said they were locked. BUT…feeling sorry for our pathetic face falls at that, he did tell us to take the elevator up to the hotel lobby and use the bathroom there.
That’s what we did.
And once we all cycled through the line, we headed out to get to the start line. The race was getting close to starting. Like…really close. We went through the revolving door, where Linda and I did some high knees. I think I started that. I’m weird. I told her that counted as my warmup.
As we were making the hike to the start line, we passed under the finish line. She had said that she was going to tell me to make a kick to the finish when I saw the start line…but it was still a good ways up the road from the finish. So she pointed to a drug store and told me that I should kick it in when I saw the drug store instead. I told her I would try.
As we were nearing the start line, the wheelchair racers were sent off. YIKES!! I got a quick good luck hug from Cathy and we all hurried to get a spot at the start. I slid in sort of close to the front…but not RIGHT up there where I don’t belong. And no sooner had I gotten in there and got my Garmin turned on and ready for the race…that we were sent off.
No time to stress. Just run.
Me at the start of the Bluegrass 10,000
Paul & Melissa at the start of the Bluegrass 10,000
And that was the orders that Linda had given me. Just go out there and run. Enjoy it. Have some fun. The rain had stopped at this point, but the humidity was at 94% at start time. It was just swampy. Humid…damp…and that was not a good recipe for a good race.
Not that this was a bad race. It wasn’t. I actually had a rather decent race. Mostly. You see, I have yet to power through a race this year without needing to stop. Every race (including the ones in Florida) have been just…HUMID and HOT. I guess that comes with racing in the late spring/summer. Which, I really haven’t done for a few years, between training and injuries. So…I have pretty much died during the races. And it mentally frustrates me and physically defeats me.
Anyway…back to the race. At the start, I actually was feeling good. Even with the cotton Wonder Woman tank on (I had thought about wearing a bra top…and in hindsight, probably should have, but I’m not loving my body at the moment…so…there it is. Pure honesty). As I was setting out I even heard Tammy (from my Louisville running group) shout, “Hey, Karen Brady!” I’m kind of hard to miss in my pigtails and everything. HA!
My first mile was decent. It felt hard. I know there are a few things I need to do to get my running as strong and easy as it used to be…but for some reason, I’m having a difficult time implementing them. I’m working on it. But I have some mental blocks that are…holding me back.
Whoa. That got serious there. Let’s just say…I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be. Both are good and bad…depending on how you look at it.
We looped around a few corners before heading into the second mile. I was already soaked and not from rain. It was just that steamy out. And I was in my cotton Wonder Woman tank. Good planning there (*sarcasm*). Some of Mile 2 was actually on a downhill, but you quickly find out that from thereon in…it’s a lot of uphill. That being said, I made a conscious decision to slow down at a water stop in Mile 3 because I wanted to be smart. I started off this race more dehydrated than I should have been, so I needed water. I took a quick sip…then poured the rest over my head. That was just what I needed. I picked up my pace and headed into the turnaround point. I made the turn and headed back toward the finish line.
Just after Mile 4, I came to a walk and took another cup of water from the water stop there. Once again, I drank a sip of it and then the rest went over my head. I tossed the cup and started to run again. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to stop again. I had just under 2 miles to go…and I could get there without needing to stop.
THIS is the biggest struggle I have had these days. I just can’t seem to get used to steamy/hot running. I used to fly in this kind of weather. But being unable to really train in it for a few years due to injury seems to have changed that. Um…YAY?
So, my 5th mile was pretty fast. The walk break must have helped with that, so I made up a bit of that time. That wasn’t the intention, that’s just how it works. That Jeff Galoway…he was totally onto something. Run/Walk works…what?! I was into the last mile now and it started to really feel hard. I could feel myself just slowing down. The humidity was wearing me down…and the hills had really taken it out of my legs. But I could SEE the finish line, so I pressed on, trying to pick it up to kick it into gear. I still have no finishing kick…but I managed to finish as strong as I could manage.
The humidity is killing me. I used to be able to run in it like it was nothing. Turns out, when you have to take 2 summers off from running…you lose that ability. I felt horrible at the end. I went to snag some water and ended up running into Tammy, Dean, and Pete (who I used to run with a lot back before the hip things). We chatted for a moment…about how hot and humid it was. How none of us had a good race. That sort of stuff. I was also told by Dean, with all the Wonder Woman running outfits out that day, that I needed to find a new super hero. BUT…let’s face it. I did it first. HA! And…come on…I was given the nickname by my running store at the time.
I decide to grab one more cup of water before heading over to the bleachers where Cathy was sitting. She hadn’t moved because the finish area was pretty compact so they were asking people not to wade that way. But this meant that I had a good spot to sit while we waited on Melissa and Paul to come racing into the finish line. Cathy saw Linda come in…I never saw Linda at the finish line. I saw some superheroes run in…including a few more Wonder Woman impersonators (*EVIL EYES*) and the Power Rangers. And then it started raining…again. It was shortly after the Power Rangers passed by that Cathy spotted Melissa and Paul heading in. We cheered and screamed and waved and made a lot of noise. Cathy and I hopped off the bleachers and went to go find our friends.
Linda heading to the finish of the Bluegrass 10,000
Melissa & Paul running through the rain to the finish line of the Bluegrass 10,000
They were easy to find as they were looking for us as well. With the rain coming down, we decided to head toward the car. But first…we ducked into Starbucks for coffee (because post-run coffee is the best!). With coffee in hand we continued back toward Rupp Arena to where we were parked. When we were about a minute away, Linda texted to say she was at her car and Cathy, who had my phone, replied with that we would literally be there in a minute.
We talked about the weather, humidity, race, and results. We took photos. And Linda and crew headed back to Frankfort. Melissa, Paul, Cathy and I were going to hit up Bella Notte in Lexington for lunch. But first we hit up Target to change out of our running clothing and grab some water. Bookstores, food, chocolate, and lots of laughs and SO MUCH FUN later…we eventually needed to head back to Louisville.
It was an imperfect race, but a perfect day.
So, the official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 46:52…once again in humid conditions…once again with walk breaks. UGH! But…hey…that’s about 2 minutes off my PR…so I’m getting there. Slowly. But getting there. I was 238/2704 finishers overall. I was the 42/1321 female finishers. And I was 5/214 in my age division. I’ll take that. I think this might become my tradition on the 4th of July as long as I’m in town. SO much fun. And doing it with friends was even better.
Ah, Disney. My dear, sweet, Disney. I wanted to hate you for not deferring my Dopey Challenge entry after I was told by my doctor, I physically could not run. I was angry…because that was a lot of money to be out…despite having doctors notes and all. I wanted to swear you off for life.
But I couldn’t.
Especially since I had to cancel my trip in January due to the injury and I opted, instead, to sign up for your latest challenge…Lumiere’s Challenge…which is a 2-race challenge (not the 4 races you do in January)…a 10K on Sunday and a half marathon on Sunday. I had the date marked on my calendar to sign up…and was so busy at work that I totally missed it…by a day. I figured it would be okay…but it wasn’t. The races were sold out.
I was sad, but then I recalled I wanted to do some more running for charity. So, I chose a cause near and dear to my heart…Alliance For A Healthier Generation. I blogged on this during my fundraising effort…and I totally raised a little bit more than the $1000 required for the charity.
THANK YOU to anyone who donated.
So, this was the weekend it all went down. And it has been a bit of a struggle getting here. Not physically…well…not here to Disney World. Physically, my foot ligament has been twinging every now and again, and sometimes is just painful. Also, just under a week before leaving for Disney, my sinuses suddenly decided that they wanted to just get all cloggy. I wasn’t sneezing or coughing, but I was definitely congested and lost my voice. This also meant my training runs were a mess of stops and breathing issues. Which didn’t make me feel confident heading into this weekend. While some of it has cleared up, I’m not 100%, but I was definitely ready for some running for sure.
Two days…two races…19.3 miles.
Let’s do this thing…
Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Race: Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 5, 2016
It is my long-term goal for the coming year to set a PR in a distance race. Short or long. With my return to running from injury, I’m having a hard time, mentally, dealing with the pitfalls of this hip labrum tear and the other aches and pains that have cropped up. So, after getting back with my running coach, we’re setting a few goals to aim for.
This was not one of the races I was using to hit a new PR. In fact, I was a little under 4 minutes from doing so. But I didn’t care…because this race was so freakin’ fun!
This is the first year that the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend included a 10K distance as well. I love doing inaugural races. I really do. And then I love returning to them. Disney puts on fantastic races, as I have mentioned before. And I do love these challenge race weekends that are popping up…EVERYWHERE now. But Disney…Disney has always done it best.
I actually got to Disney World on Thursday, giving me time to hit up the expo and have an entire day of exploring the parks before needing to worry about running. It also gave me time to recover well and be ready to run. We all know that race mornings come very, very, very, early at Disney World. And while Wine & Dine is usually a night race…this year they changed it to morning. So…I set three alarms on my phone…the first 2 for me and the final one for my entourage (aka: Jenn & Cathy).
I always do Disney races in costume, and I had originally intended to break out Vanellope Von Schweetz again (I was Vanellope when I did Wine & Dine in 2014), but my hip labrum injury had me not running for close to a year. Despite keeping a clean and healthy diet, I’ve put on some weight. So, the costume wasn’t flattering on me…at all. So…in the span of 2 days, my roomie and I managed to piece together an Officer Judy Hopps costume (from Zootopia). And that took a little while for me to get on (as it involved hair extensions and accessories), but I managed to get it on and get out the door in time to catch the shuttle over to the start.
I was supposed to meet up with my friend (and fellow #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Stephanie) at the shuttle bus from our resort (she was also staying at Port Orleans Riverside), but it turns out she turned off her alarm and slept through the start of the race. But, I did manage to meet up with another #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Melissa, at the start line. She and her husband were running the 10K as Disgust and Fear from Inside Out. Their costumes were totally cute! So, it was nice to converse with them before we were heading into the race. Melissa is a Run Disney pro…for real! And her costumes are AMAZING. So when she complimented me on my Hopps costume, that meant a lot to me.
We took some photos and then headed toward the start line. She and her husband were in a different corral, so I went to get into mine. It was pretty crowded in Corral A, but I found a spot to sit (even with my pinned on bunny tail) and let myself relax a little before being moved to the start line. I wasn’t there for too long before the group began to move. We passed by the other corrals and I heard a few people calling out to Corral A and wishing us luck. Love that.
Once at the start line, there were some announcements made and the National Anthem was sung. And the wheel chair racers were sent on their way. At this point, I was drawing a deep breath as the corral moved forward and we waited a couple of minutes before our fireworks and start time. And soon, Remy from Ratatouille was sending us off for the start of our run. I was hoping for the best. Continuous running was a mere impossibility leading into this race due to some sinus issues. I still had the lingering effects, so I just hoped I could get through it.
I was less than enthusiastic about the first three (and then some) miles of the 10K race. As with most Disney races, a majority of your time is spent out on the highway. They sort of curb your boredom with character stations and areas with jumbo television screens and fast, fun music. Still, by the first mile, I was already not loving my costume. The long hair extensions were hot…and annoying. I honestly don’t know how women with long hair can run with it down. I was so DONE with it. It just kept getting in my way. I can’t count the number of times I flung a extra-long pigtail back behind my shoulder.
Also…wearing three layers on your top half in humid Florida…not my best idea. HA!! Yep…three (3) layers. My sports bra, my t-shirt (which was originally long sleeve, but I thought better of it), and my other sports bra that I made into Judy Hopps vest. Yep…it got hot pretty fast for me. But, you know, you just keep trekking. I mean, it was 68 degrees with 88% humidity (it is Florida, after all) at the start of the race. I knew the layers were going to be hot when I threw this costume together at the last minute.
Regardless…I felt a little better about life (even if all the race photos are unflattering and tell a different story), once we entered Epcot for the last part of the race. At about 3.5 miles, we take to the park, starting around the World Showcase, cutting down across the boardwalk (and I love the people staying at those resorts along the boardwalk who come out and cheer that early in the morning!), and then cutting back into the World Showcase to round out the run by running past the big Epcot ball. From there, it’s down a stretch into the parking lot and across the finish line. I could tell I was slowing down once I hit Epcot. The hills inside the World Showcase aren’t bad…but my legs had been going on a full day of parks and I was tired. Seriously. I was tired…and a little grumpy. That 2:30 am wakeup call came too early and I was doing my best to not fall asleep in the corral at the start of the race. So, finishing was a relief. I didn’t even care about my time. And after crossing, I saw Cathy and Jenn waiting up in the bleachers, waiving the sign that was made the night before…and cheering.
None of us were really firing on all cylinders. But I do love having my peeps at the end of a race. I walked through the finisher’s chute, getting my 10K medal (this thing was HUGE and HEAVY) and continuing down for the water, snack box, banana, and then the official photos near the end. Cathy and Jenn were going to meet me outside of bag claim…so I went through after that and there they were, heading my way.
I gave them sweaty hugs and Cathy helped me change out of my race shoes (I raced in my Altras for the first time!) and into my recovery flip flops. My feet thanked me for that. I had wanted to take some photos with the Disney characters in the finish area, but the lines were super long. I told them we could head back to the resort as long as I got to get pictures after the half marathon. I think they were all relieved. We got on the bus after a few pictures and headed back to Port Orleans – Riverside, where I showered, ate some real food, and got ready to spend the rest of the day out in Hollywood Studios. Yep…at Disney, I don’t rest these legs. I get on rides, chase down characters, and have a blast. It’s Disney. And even though lacking mega caffeine and oomph, I had a brilliant time. Spent the day on my feet, and ended with a traditional (gluten free) pasta dinner at Mama Melrose’s. I even got to indulge in more carby goodness with the gluten free dinner rolls. I only ate one. And I ate only about 2/3 or my huge pasta dish. I was full. And tired. It was back to the resort after that. I climbed into bed, setting three alarms for the following morning…when I would run the half marathon!
Oh…so my official results of the Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K are that I finished in 48:19. Not too bad given the circumstances!! I was 164/9260 finishers overall. I was the 42/6556 female to cross the finish line. And I was 6/1102 runners in my age division. Considering I am still not 100% physically (damn ligament in my foot) and was dealing with the last of a sinus…thing…I’ll take it. It was a fantastic race and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Race: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 6, 2016
What a difference an extra hour of sleep makes!!
Seriously, THANK YOU TIME CHANGE!! It was a lot easier to get up at 2:30 am when we had to fall back on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ll take that extra hour. I could tell we all needed it regardless.
Especially Jenn. Jenn was not feeling the early morning love all day on Saturday as we trudged around Hollywood Studios. I kept offering coffee and/or caffeine in the form of soda, but I think she was determined to just be tired and (a little cranky) ride it out on her own. NOT ME!! I downed a Iced Soy Caramel Apple Latte from Joffrey’s just after riding Tower of Terror on Saturday and that was the kick I needed, honestly, to help with the rest of the day. I don’t play around. If I’m tired…I get my caffeine. Lessons learned along the way. Definitely helped make the day easier to navigate through. And it was another long day…this time at Hollywood Studios…still undergoing renovations.
We did take in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show, which meant we were sitting for awhile. So, I think she liked that part. Be that as it may, she was not loving much of life all day Sunday, and after hearing, “I’m so tired I could cry” more than once, I told her that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if she stayed at the resort on half marathon morning and slept. In fact, I’d prefer it so that we could avoid another adventure like Saturday.
She ignored all three alarms, and slept through my hurried dash back into the room after forgetting my sunglasses (sunrise was now earlier…I didn’t have time for the sunscreen I didn’t put on thinking it would be like the day before and still be dark when I finished). The one other race weekend she came to Disney with us, I was doing Wine & Dine in 2014…and it was still a night race. Note to self: Jenn doesn’t handle Disney wake-up race times well. LOL!! Hey…those schedules on Disney weekends are brutal…I admit it. But I’m sort of used to the early mornings, and the on-the-go days, to the semi-late. And I’m pretty much a Disney race veteran. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone for sure. I think Saturday was the breaking point for Jenn. And that’s fine. The extra sleep and down time meant that she was ready to go at Epcot that afternoon. So, YAY! And that was a long day, as we had the after party that night as well. So, this was probably the best option for her…so I’m glad she did what was best for her.
Now, Cathy and I were up at the ass-crack of dawn and out the door to the shuttle to take us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where the race was to start. For the half marathon, I was running as the Disney Princess that my niece, Kaytlynn, requested this time around…Ariel. Yep…I was The Little Mermaid. Simple costume (and much cooler too, although this race morning was a bit cooler (64 degrees) and windy…but the humidity was higher…pretty much at 100%. UGH. That being said, I had a throw-away shirt on over my purple sports bra and it helped keep me warm up until I shed it for the #KDFMarathon Ambassador photo before the start of the race. Anyway, the big shuttle left the resort pick-up spot just as we were getting to the front of the line…so, when the next bus showed up, it was WAY smaller. I said, “And they sent us the short bus!” It made everyone laugh. That being said, we boarded, settled, and let the bus carry us to the start of Sunday’s adventure.
The plan was for all of the #KDFMarathon Race Ambassadors (Stephanie, Richie, Melissa and me) to meet up at Bag Check before the race. This time, all four (4) of us made it. And we all looked amazing in our cute outfits. We got our pictures (which meant I ditched the shirt and then just never got it back) together and chatted a bit about the 10K, upcoming races, and just other stuff…that general stuff. Richie and I were in Corral A together so, after we all broke to get to our corrals, he and I stuck together and made our way into ours. I stood with him until the wheel chair racers kicked off. Then I gave him a hug and said I was going to move up and attempt to meet the goal that my coach had set for me for this race.
That goal…run it in 1:45:00.
As I had run (not raced) the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon two weeks prior to this (that race blog is incoming, life has been a busy, frantic, hectic mess) in less than this time (but barely), I figured this was an acceptable goal and one that I could accomplish.
But it wasn’t a walk in the (Disney) park either.
Once again, we had the fanfare of fireworks for Corral A to start off to. We also had Olympian Jenny Simpson running with the first corral. She was using this as an easy training run, you know…only running 6:15 min miles and all. She came in second, overall, btw…after a back and forth to the finish with the eventual winner. Her husband, Jason Simpson, won the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and set a new course record. So, that’s kind of cool to run in the footsteps of Simpson running greatness.
It was also in this first mile that I noticed a familiar running stride ahead of me. I pushed a little to catch up and was able to say “HI” to another Louisville runner, Lynn Riedling. That was about all I got to say before she pulled ahead and then was gone in the darkness. Probably about halfway through the first mile we heard the fireworks go off to send off Corral B…and one of the guys just ahead of me goes, “Run faster…they’re coming for us!”
Once again, this Disney race was mostly highway miles. But they did make a point to have character stops and some scenic stops along the way. There were also the music and television monitor stations throughout the course, to sort of shake up the monotony. The first three miles of this race…I felt like I ran well. I was comfortable in the moist air, as my layers today consisted of a purple sports bra and a green sparkle skirt. MUCH better in the Orlando humidity.
My first noticeable pace slow-down came between Mile 4 and Mile 5. Surprisingly, or maybe not, this was while I was inside Animal Kingdom (THANK GOD, they let us run completely through a park, because when the course maps were first released, it looked like we were running to the middle of nowhere and coming back). The course did narrow in some areas, and I do get distracted by the photo stops that are set up with characters. But I pressed on through to the 10K mark, my pace picking back up. I told myself that I would take in nutrition at the 10K line, and I did, downing a Hammer Gel (giving these a try…despite the rule to never try something new on race day). This and my Nuun I was hauling in one of my bottles on my fuel belt both had caffeine, which I hoped would wake me up when I was feeling tired and ready to stop.
It worked its magic. I managed to pick the pace up a little again for Mile 7 through Mile 11. These were all on the highway, and despite being Florida, we actually had a few hills to navigate over. Two of them came in a row. My favorite one though had to be the first hill we hit. Disney stationed a character out there…one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story. He was calling out to runners to push hard up the hill. If anyone slowed down they would have to do pushups. He noticed one runner just ahead of me.
“You…you in the blue shorts…get over here. Give me one pushup.” To my surprise, the runner did just that. And then the army man said, “Now…run fast and make up the 3 seconds you just wasted.”
I LOVE DISNEY!
Mile 12 had us entering the Epcot area. Like most of the races at this point, we just sort of duck into Epcot. It isn’t like the 10K where we get to run around the World Showcase and see it all. At this point, I spotted one of those inflatable T-Rex Costumes and the wearer was holding a sign that said, “Free Hugs.” LOVE IT. I was in my last mile…and really cutting it close on time. I hated that I felt like I ran this race better and was still coming in so close to what I did Urban Bourbon in without even trying. Returning from injury is frustrating at times…but you just end up being thankful for the gift of running that day in the end. I did the weird jog around the Food & Wine Festival centerpiece and headed up past the Epcot ball. And with that said, I made the turn and heard the gospel choir that is always at Mile 13 (or 26 if it’s the full marathon) at the Disney races. This is always uplifting…and I picked up my pace. I rounded a corner…got nailed by all the Disney photographers taking pictures of the runners coming toward the finish…and just pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in my hip and (sore) foot…and crossed that finish line…before it hit 1:45:00.
I saw Cathy up in the stands cheering and gave a wave as I made my way down the finisher’s chute. Here I received my medal for the half marathon, then proceeded on to get water, my snack box, and eventually go through the tent to get my medal for completing the 10K and the Half Marathon. This was “Lumiere’s Challenge”. As I was about to grab my water bottle, I hear my name being called over the fence. It was Cathy, sticking her camera over to get a photo. She said, “Want to know your time?” I said I did. And she said…”You did 1:44:30…BOOM!” She even texted it to my coach for me. HAHA! The volunteers at the table found this entire conversation amusing being as it was done over a covered fence. I got to the Challenge Medal tent, had them look up my name, and they sent me through to receive the medal. Afterwards, I exited through Bag Check and met up with Cathy on the other side. Sweaty hugs were given, and my race shoes (today I was in my Brooks), were changed out for the flip flops again. I was lingering a little, hoping to catch Richie again as he came through, but Cathy noticed that the lines of the characters were super short, and didn’t want me to miss the opportunity to get photos with them, since I passed it up due to lines on Saturday. I was able to get photos (rather quickly) with Lumiere and with Remy (from Ratatouille). And after that…I went back to see if I could catch Richie, but he had already finished and left for Port Orleans French Quarter. I had just missed him.
We arrived back at Port Orleans Riverside and trekked back to the manor house we were staying in. Jenn was up, and she was rested. So this was good. I went to shower, change, and eat some real food before we got our stuff together and headed out to Epcot for the day. We finished up around 4-ish with everything and decided to go back to the resort for a little while to unwind before returning to check in and then enjoy the After Party. This also meant that everyone else was kicked out of Epcot and we got to stay and eat at all the countries, drink at all the countries, and ride any of the rides that were open. This was, in fact, how we got on the new Soarin’. We had fast passed the Frozen Ever After ride.
I did manage to meet up with Stephanie and Richie while walking the showcase that night. I didn’t ever find Melissa. Ironically, my friend Michelle, for the second time in a row, managed to find me in the huge crowd of people at the After Party. We took a picture to commemorate her awesome GPS honing skills. HAHA!
I was able to enjoy a few stops at the After Party as well. I started my night off with Dole Whip…then went on to Brazil where I devoured two large rolls of Pão de Queijo, and then finished off the night with a Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffle.
It was close to 1 am when we got back to our room at the resort. And we had to get up early (but not race morning early) for a character breakfast the next morning. BUT…that involved gluten-free Mickey waffles…so I was okay with this.
Oh…and I guess I should give you the official race results. The official race results of the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:44:30. So, yay…I managed to hit my coach’s goal time with 30 seconds to spare. Whew. I was 208/12651 finishers overall. I was 56/8749 women to cross the finish line. And, I was 11/1513 in my age division. Not too bad.
Now…if I can get this whole endurance with speed (and no pains or issues breathing) thing down, I might be well on my way to a way better race year next year. But this was Half Marathon #23…and the final one for the year. No better way to finish it up than at Disney!
I will say…I still miss running this race at night. But it wasn’t a bad way to start a Sunday off either.
OH…and before I forget…a big THANK YOU to all of you who donated funds to the charity I was raising money for by doing this race. Alliance For A Healthier Generation is a fantastic charity doing great things for the future of our country and the children that are to be our future. I went slightly over my fundraising goal, never a bad thing…and I have many of you to thank for that. So…THANK YOU…from the bottom of my heart!
It was a long, holiday weekend. YAY!! And, as is usual for me over the 4th of July…I was out of town. At a convention. In Indianapolis. Now, normally when I am up in Indy for this convention, my Saturday morning is spent running the Monon Trail. It’s gorgeous. Seriously. I always look forward to it. The past few years (last year I wasn’t able to run at all at this point), I have managed to get out there for my long run of 10-12 or so miles.
But, this past weekend, Saturday’s Monon Trail run wasn’t happening…
SO…on Saturday morning, I was down in the fitness center at 6 am…and on a treadmill to do 12 miles that morning. I started easy and worked up a ladder to a comfortable speed and then took it back down. It was mind numbing, despite the music (and to think, I almost left my iPod in my room). But, my training run was done.
And if that wasn’t enough punishment, I got up on Sunday morning to do my shakeout run. I decided to do an easy run for an hour…getting 7.36 miles in during that time.
I was feeling it Saturday and I really felt it Sunday. I hate running on treadmills. They seem to do more damage to me than road running does. I was sore through Wednesday, honestly. I don’t know how people do long distances on these things on a regular basis. My body couldn’t handle it!
My runs have been suffering since those treadmill runs. The hip was not mad…but not happy either. MEH. Not enough foam rolling in the world. Of course…the epic humidity with air so thick you could cut it with a knife…isn’t helping either.
But, despite the humidity and the fatigue from late nights, I’ve been keeping up with my training runs. Which…is impressive for me. It’s not been easy to get out of bed to just go outside and melt…but…
…I’ve been getting it done. It hasn’t been pretty…and I’m not always happy with the results on my Garmin, but I’m doing what my body is currently capable of…so, there is that.
OH…and this past week, I got to play around with recipes that I created. I made 6 different recipes…2 pasta dishes, a fusion pizza, a rice dish, a sandwich, and a dessert. I was quite proud of the results…all based off of Peter Cincotti’s recently released EP, Exit 105. Check out these images of the completed dishes…
Top (L-R): Island Spell Pizza (song: Palermo) – Jerk seasoned tofu, topped with onion, bell pepper, pineapple, cheddar cheese, and a Jamaican jerk coleslaw; Missing Sara Sammie (song: What’s Sara Doing?) – sammie layered with sweet potato, hummus, avocado (or guacamole), and kale; Unexpected Beat Tagliatelle (song: Long Way From Home) – tagliatelle pasta in a bechemel sauce and topped with shredded beets, goat cheese, parsley, toasted pine nuts, and toasted bread crumbs
Botton (L-R): Roamin’ Skies Pasta (song: Roman Skies) – my take on the traditional Roman dish – Cacio e Pepe – pasta mixed with butter, black pepper, Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses; Exit 105 Rice-A-Roni (Album Title: Exit 105) – my version of the San Francisco Treat (after all, Exit 105 takes you to the Golden Gate Bridge)…and it has been dubbed my “best rice dish in the history of ever”; Sexy on the Beach Ice Cream (song: Sexy) – a vegan ice cream made from coconut cream, pureed raspberries, pureed pineapple, chambord and vodka…just like the drink Sex on the Beach…
I love getting chefy.
So, aside from a little bit of work stress…that’s what’s going on thus far. Stay tuned as this weekend is going to be amazing. I can tell.
Product: Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Penne Pesto – $3.29+
You know…it was because I was told that the liveGfree Gluten Free Tortillas at Aldi wouldn’t fall apart and crumble on me (which was false…they did…and I was sad) that I ended up back at my Aldi to grab some gluten-free goods. Just the tortillas…that was the plan.
But you know how quickly plans fall apart when gluten free products/food are involved.
While standing in line with one item, I spotted the infamous liveGfree box colors on some discounted sale items. There were three different types of pastas sitting there…discounted…looking for a happy pantry to belong to. I thought about just skipping that. I’m trying to move things out, not bring more in, but they were discounted to $1.99…so I grabbed one of each flavor.
With this being an odd week with half days and holidays…my usual meal planning is thrown a bit off. When I’m not going to be here, batch cooking that much just doesn’t make sense. So, I pick and choose and then fill in. So, when my roommate said to just throw together a pasta or something for a lunch on Monday, that’s exactly what I decided to do.
I knew we had these boxes of Aldi lifeGfree Gluten Free Pasta Meals in my pantry, so I gave her the choice of flavors…(all of which will be reviewed here…so watch this space)…and she decided to start with the Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Penne Pesto Pasta Meal.
Cooking this up is super easy. Simply throw 1-1/4 cup water into a pan and bring it to a boil. Once there, pour the noodles and seasoning mix into the water. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 7-9 minutes. Stir it occasionally, and continue to cook until the water is completely absorbed. That’s it. It’s ready to eat.
Well, here is the downside. A box contains only 1-1/2 servings. Yes…one and a half servings. I don’t know where the logic is with that, but after I had this cooked up and split it between my roommate and I…there was hardly anything in our lunch bowls. So, I reached into my freezer and pulled out the Beyond Meat Gluten Free and Vegan Italian Meatballs, cooking up some of those to add to the dish to bulk it up and make it bigger than just a side dish. So, please be aware…1-1/2 servings per container. If there is more than 1-1/2 of you eating…plan accordingly.
At lunch today, I retrieved the Pyrex containers with the pasta and “meatballs” in it and popped each one in the microwave to heat. Once heated all the way through…lunch was ready to go. I do love a no-hassle, fuss-free, easy lunch to prepare at work when the kitchen can get quite chaotic with everyone fighting for counter space and the microwave.
I settled in at my desk, gave it a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (because I like it hot, LOL!) and dug in.
First of all, I was very impressed with the way the pasta held up, not just in the cooking process, but also in the reheating. It didn’t fall apart or get gummy. So, that’s a huge plus. I loved the seasoning that was cooked down over the noodles. A blend of basil and spinach, mixed with a touch of garlic and Parmesan. So, yeah…not exactly dairy-free, eh? I didn’t notice that when I bought it…but…it was all I had for lunch. I’m not allergic to dairy…just highly intolerant to lactose. So, I just hoped for the best. Very full of flavor…which surprised me. I never expect much from boxed pasta meals, but this one was actually very delicious. I am, however, quite happy that I opted to include the vegan meatballs to bulk it out. It also added to the depth of flavor of the dish. For a pasta meal that I spent under $2 to purchase…this was the happy surprise of the week. Didn’t see that one coming.
Let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Penne Pesto Pasta Meal, shall we? This boxed meal is made from gluten free pasta (corn flour, rice flour), process cheese food in powder [cheese blend (pasteurized milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes), whey powder, salt, sodium citrate, disodium phosphate], cream powder (cream, milk), natural flavor, potato starch, parmigano reggiano cheese (milk, salt, rennet), dehydrated spinach, dehydrated basil, salt, garlic powder, and turmeric powder. This pasta meal is gluten free and wheat free.
Now that we know what goes into Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Penne Pesto Pasta Meal, let’s look at the nutrition ingredients. A serving size of this product is 2/3 cup (or 3/4 cup prepared), and there are 1.5 servings fer container. One serving will provide you with 250 calories, 6 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 570 mg sodium, 42 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 4 grams sugars, and 8 grams protein. If you were to eat the entire box yourself, you would only be consuming 375 calories in total. Which, really isn’t too bad. I just think that Aldi should either round it down to 1 serving or up to 2 servings, because this half serving really annoyed me, if you couldn’t tell.
I wasn’t expecting much from this Aldi meal, but, once again, Aldi surprised me. I should have trusted them a little more. If you can get your hands on the Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Pasta Meal’s…it’s a cheap and delicious way to have something on hand for when you don’t really have time or energy to cook something else up.
Four years ago…four years ago I ran the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon as my second half marathon EVER! I was fortunate enough to have a friend in my corral, a local runner I met with the (now gone) Blue Mile Monday running group. It was a fantastic race that day. Hot. Steamy. Sweaty. But fantastic. It was such a spirited, fun, and well-run race and expo…that I vowed to go back.
And then…it didn’t happen.
Until, I decided to run it again. It was a really random, really quick decision to run it. And I didn’t really shout about it because, as I’ve said before, every day is different for me. I never know when there is a good day ahead or a bad day…so, I haven’t really been talking about races I’m doing just in case it’s not a good day and I don’t actually run it. It’s hard coming back from injury, but I’m being cautious and smart about it and I’m not pushing it. So…I left work early on Friday and trekked up to Indianapolis, Indiana to get checked into the hotel. I always stay at the JW Marriott when in Indy for a run, when it’s convenient. It was for this race. The start line was right out the door! HA! Besides, I’m a princess…I like to stay in nice places. (Joking…sort of…). After checking in and dropping off bags in the room, Cathy and I headed down to the race expo to pick up my race bib. This was a little bit of a hike through the convention center, but it’s a hell of an expo and worth the hike.
We noted the Starbucks in the hotel and said we’d stop and get a banana for me for in the morning on our way back. Once we got into the expo, we were handed drawstring backpacks and we immediately headed to the Packet Pickup area. Since I registered later, my number was pretty high up there, which meant hiking further back in the line of windows with bib numbers. I found my spot and went up to the window. They said to have your photo ID ready, but the guy didn’t even ask for it. He did find my bib and got my shirt…tucked it into a Blue Mile bag and handed it over to me. YAY! Officially ready to run. But first…shopping…
…and the official merchandise store always has some goodies to offer. Cathy went and bought an official Finisher shirt for me (I can’t buy that…bad mojo). And I ogled a few other things, but opted to leave it with just the shirt. So…we began a quick weave through the expo. This is where I fell in love with the Ocean Spray PACt Cranberry Extract Water. I am forever having this stuff in my fridge. HOLY COW!! SO GOOD!! We scooted past the Clif Bar place, which had a line due to all the samples they were handing out. And then…
…I signed up for another race. It was one I was considering anyway…and with the expo discount and the promise of a free hat…I ended up going ahead and signing up. Somebody stop me!! LOL!! This one isn’t too far away, so I feel confident I’ll be in good form to run it.
We then found the BondiBand booth…and…oh yeah…there were purchases made. I ended up getting 3 more…because…I can’t have too many of these. I wear them on runs, at the gym, and in spin classes…so, yeah…they get used. I still own the very first BondiBand I ever had…my 13.1 one that my friend, Heather Dillon, purchased for me at my first half marathon in Chicago back in 2011. You might say that I am a fan…but I’m also a brand ambassador for them now too. More on that once it’s officially official. Anyway…more money spent and it was time to leave the expo to get to our dinner reservation. We stopped for a moment to sign the banner wall at the exit. Then, food.
Now, my pre-race eats is always…ALWAYS…a gluten free pizza. BUT…we couldn’t find a close spot that offered that near where we were in Indianapolis. And we really didn’t want to leave the area…so Cathy found out that the hotel restaurant, Osteria Pronto, offered gluten-free pasta on their menu. I normally don’t do pasta as I am a pasta freak and will EAT ALL THE PASTA…and sometimes it’s too much and I still have it with me in the morning. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. Turns out, this place had their act together. The chef and servers were very knowledgeable about gluten-free dining and when they brought out Cathy’s bread…they brought me out some toasted Udi’s Gluten Free Sandwich Bread to have with either butter (no dairy for me) or olive oil. It was a nice gesture. The chef threw together a pasta dish for me using the Gluten Free Penne and their amazing red marinara and some fresh vegetables (onion, red pepper, broccolini). Cathy got their signature pasta dish – Straw & Hay (chive noodle & egg noodle, lardo, English peas, garlic cream, pine nuts, and topped with a soft boiled egg). I didn’t think I was that hungry…but as I said, I love pasta…and I devoured mine. LOL!!
After dinner, we returned to the expo to finish up. Starbucks was closed…so Cathy said she’d get a banana in the morning for me. We revisited the entire expo, walking through the slightly less chaotic area this time. Cathy bought another BondiBand for spin class, and the lady working there gave us the discount so she only paid $5 for it, since we previously bought some that day. YAY!! I found the NUUN table and got to talking with the cute guys behind there. I told them I was a #nuunambassador and we got a picture together. LOVE!! It was fun. My new favorite flavor…the Mango Orange. WOW! And…then I signed up for ANOTHER race. Seriously…stop me. This one is in the fall…and they gave me a free wine glass and an expo discount for signing up. Cathy was given a race shirt because they were so impressed with what a great running fan she is and everything she does for not just me…but other runners. SUPER awesome. We wrapped up the expo and hiked outside to Circle Center to hit up Rocket Fizz. We ended up purchasing a Diet Root Beer for Cathy and a Nut Goodie Bar to split for dessert. I am a firm believer in dessert. And then…it was back to the hotel. I talked to my sister on the phone on the way back…and I even stood at the window in my room and watched an ongoing baseball game…which was totally awesome. Cathy went to go shower and I needed to do my nightly foam rolling.
I had made a promise to my good friend, Deana, after the Derby Mini, that I would dedicate the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon to her. I kept my word, and in Sharpie, on my race bib, I wrote: FOR DEANA! I texted her a picture and we chatted for a little while…as I watched some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (seriously…this is a tradition!) and did more foam rolling and used THE STICK on my hip and hip adductor. After that…it was time to set the alarms for the morning and get some sleep.
My first alarm went off and I got up, turned it off, took my medicine, used the bathroom, and then…went back to sleep. My second alarm got me up at 5:30 am. I grabbed my pile of race gear and headed into the bathroom to change and put on ALL THE SUNSCREEN. Hey, I’m a pale, blonde, Irish girl…I burn easily. And I had to slather it ALL OVER myself. I wasn’t sure at this point if I was running in just a sports bra or if I was throwing on a tank, but I acted as though I’d do the bra only. Once I had my Injinji socks on and my Newtons laced up, I put my hair up in my signature pigtails, dressing them up with red and black hair extensions. And the BondiBand was a pink and black checkered one I found at the expo. It was the closest thing to a checkered flag I could find. I went back into the hotel room and made sure Cathy got up out of her bed. Her mission was to go get me a banana from Starbucks. They were giving them away for free, but it was a madhouse, and she was gone long enough that I managed to eat my cereal, do all my PT stretches and turn on the news/weather. When she got back, she changed, ate a protein bar, and drank her Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher. At about 6:45 a.m., I had my fuel belt on and was heading out the door. Cathy realized she forgot the sign, so back to the hotel room to snag it. And then, we were on our way, heading down the elevator and out the door.
My friend, Julia, was running in the 5K, which was going off at 7 a.m. I was hoping to find her, but, there were SO many people that I never did see her. I looked and waited. And never saw her go by. DANG IT! Cathy thought she heard the announcer say something about corrals closing and said that it involved mine, so now we were walking the line down to the split in the corrals. She found an information guy and asked and he aid that my corral was going to open as soon as the 5K runners were though…since I was in C. So…Cathy made me panic for no reason. She does this a lot at races. Seriously. *deep breath* We walked back up and I downed my banana and I went to get into Corral C. I had a moment to do my dynamic warmup moves before Cathy said she needed to stake out her spot at the other side of the start…so she made me take off my NYC Marathon zip I had put on to keep warm. I parted with it, and was surprised that it wasn’t too chilly at the start. A little, but not enough that I was shivering. The National Anthem was sung BEAUTIFULLY and the wheelchair racers were sent off by Meb. Meb was there running from the back of the mini to the front…I never got to see him. Dang it. In fact, I finished the race before he even started. I did beat his time though, LOL!
The corrals moved up and the first wave was prepared to be sent off…by Meb…at 7:33 am. The horn sounded, Meb waived the green flag, and we were off. I crossed the start line, started my Garmin, and just went with the crowd. I saw Cathy and gave a wave and headed toward the Indianapolis Zoo. I didn’t see any animals out this year…but it is a nice way to start the race regardless. That zoo is gorgeous! This was a quick pace for me, though it didn’t feel it at the time. My first mile was 6:57, apparently, but I dropped back after that. Let me say, I am very glad that Cathy told me to go with the bra top only and not the tank. The humidity was very real at Mile 2…and it was still early. So, yeah…that worked out wonderfully. I would have died with fabric on me. As it was, my legs felt heavy and I was wondering how well this race was actually going to play out for me. But, I pressed on, hoping I’d find my stride and fall into a comfortable pace and hold it. Mile 2 and 3 are run on W. Michigan Street. In fact, much of the first 5 miles of the race is through residential and such areas…but always with spectators and people there to cheer, some more populated than others. Mile 5 is Main Street…and a banner is spread over the top welcoming runners to Main Street. There are restaurants and the like out here and the crowd was loud and proud. It was a nice way to make the turn toward the Speedway itself. You enter the speedway via a steep downhill slope, and then back up. Inside, you hit Mile 6 and the run around the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on. This is the part I always look forward to. This was also the slowest miles of the race for me. I think it’s because the sun had come out, the humidity was high, and there was no shade out on that track. But I was running ON THE TRACK of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How cool is that. They have 2 pit stops (water stations) inside the track, but I carry my own water and fuel with me, so I never make use of these. I thought about it though, with the humid air. I was sweating! The best part…the highlight, is hitting that brickyard. I flashed devil horns to the photographers and carried on. You exit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just before Mile 9. From here…it’s 4 miles to the finish.
4 miles is a morning run for me. So, despite feeling like I was really slowing down, I was super happy with how I was plugging along. I kept saying, “This is for Deana…and Deana doesn’t quit!” Or “Be relentless…like Deana.” Mantras really help. LOL! I wasn’t about to quit…when it’s humid and hot, you just slow it down and run comfortable. Miles 9-11 wind you back toward downtown, and when you get to Mile 12, you see the checkered flags, and hear the crowds, and you just run. You just run because you’re almost done. You just run because you are heading to that finish line. You just…do what you’ve been doing all along, but with feeling and spirit and maybe jazz hands. Or maybe not. Jazz hands might be a little much…
I love this part of the race. The energy is amazing. I could hear the finish line announcer and I knew I was getting close. My watch beeped long before the 13 mile marker (I was about .20 miles ahead of the mile markers), and I picked it up some more. I gritted my teeth, dug deep, and pushed it. I saw Cathy to my right with my sign and just screaming at me. And I noticed, as I neared the finish, that the clock time said 1:39:45…I crossed. I just turned out another half marathon (13.29 miles on my Garmin)…and was only 1:07 minutes off of breaking my PR set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014. I felt amazing. And accomplished. And…yeah!! I was ushered toward the medals and was handed one, which I eased over my head, somehow not spilling any water in the open water bottle I was holding. I’m just that talented, folks.
I was given a plastic bag to put water, banana, fruits, energy bars, and whatever else into as I walked through the runner recovery area. As I got a Dole cup, one of the Dole employees said he loved my outfit and smile and asked if he could get my picture with the Dole cup. So, I agreed. If I turn up on any Dole advertisements, let me know. I am almost famous, LOL! Afterwards, I headed into the After Party area where I was to find Cathy in the family reunion zone around the end of the alphabet. I spotted her and rushed over…and she gave me my official time!! I was SO happy with it. Impressed because I felt like I was running through tar at some points…no joke. But this was 2 minutes better than Derby…which was 2 minutes better than NYC. Nice pattern there, yes? LOL!
I changed out of my shoes and put on some recovery shoes. I snagged some chocolate milk for Cathy and then headed into the massage tent. I NEVER miss a post-race massage whenever possible. Seriously, this just helps me with my recovery. The lines weren’t long yet either. The nice lady who gave me my massage was awesome. It was, seriously, one of the best post-race massages I have ever had. She asked me a lot about running and how I got into it…and she really stretched me out and worked my muscles. She told me she loves working on people where she can feel their muscles and see how they move when she works on them. GO ME! Afterwards, I was ready to head back to the hotel to shower, so Cathy and I headed that way.
The hotel was handing out cold towels to runners so we could wipe our faces and get refreshed, which was SO awesome. Once we got up to the room, I went to go shower and Cathy packed up everything. Once I was clean and dressed, she called down to have the car brought out by valet and I downed some water and played on my phone for a moment. We finally went down just as our car came around. Packed up…we hit the road to go to Target and then meet up with our friend, Greg, at Cheeseburger in Paradise. A celebrator Gluten Free Veggie Baja Burger (no cheese or sour cream) was in order. I got mine with the gluten free sweet potato fries. I devoured it. No joke. We did a bit of shopping after lunch, hitting up Half Price Books…Strange Brew for coffee…and the outlets in Edinburgh, before heading home.
Half Marathon #18…done. And it’s my third fastest one to date!!
So, the official results of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is that I finished in 1:39:28. I was 889/24,768 finishers overall. I was 123/13,487 female finishers. And I was 21/1,939 finishers in my division! I am so happy with this result and I texted Deana and she was so honored and happy. It was a wonderful race, and now I remember why I loved it so much. I hope not to wait another 4 years to return to this one. That being said, I’m already in talks with Deana about some upcoming stuff for next year, which I’m super excited about. I’m sure I’ll discuss that when it all falls into place. I am certain my endurance will continue to get better. Half marathon distances used to feel so easy for me, but I’ve been struggling in the last few miles as of late. But this one surprised me, because I thought I had really slowed down, but I never once hit a sub 7:45 minute pace. At all. WOW!! And to think I slowed down to a pace that felt “easy.” At least my fitness has been kept up over the span of time I was out with injury last year. I credit that to my spin classes, regular gym visits, and sheer determination on my part.
Deana…I ran hard and strong for you…I’m glad this race turned out the way it did. Thank you for being an inspiration, a badass, and truly, an amazing friend.
Product: So Delicious Dairy Free Mac & Cheese Pizza Flavor – $2.99+
It was in a recent issue of Gluten Free & More that Erica Dermer (aka: Celiac & The Beast) brought to my attention the fact that So Delicious Dairy Free was coming out with a new product. Two (yes…TWO) versions of a boxed mac & cheese.
Gluten free and dairy free…perfect for this girl. I figured it would take an eternity to find in Louisville, but…a couple of weeks ago, it was out on the shelves of the local Whole Foods. So both flavors (Pizza and Cheddar) came home with me. And this week was an ideal week to try one of them as my endless quest to clear out the pantry continues (I know…if I’d stop buying things it would be so much easier!).
I know, I had a vegan mac and cheese on Monday…but who says comfort food can only happen once a week, right? Besides…this was a different mac and cheese. This one came in a box. HAHA! And since today was my (allergen-free) Soft Pretzel Wednesday lunch tradition, and I bought an amazing (allergen-free) Confetti Cupcake from my local bakery, Annie May’s Sweet Café, I figured, why not go for broke? Have some mac & cheese! Thanks to the (not-so-expensive) splurge at Whole Foods…this was possible.
Nothing could be easier to make. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil and pour the noodles in. Allow them to cook for about 8-9 minutes. Drain. Once drained, return noodles to the pot and add in 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (I used unsweetened cashew milk) and 2 tablespoons of a dairy-free buttery spread (I used Earth Balance). Add in the packet of powder-like-cheesy-stuff and stir until mixed well. Serve.
So, my roommate opted to have the Pizza Flavored Mac & Cheese from So Delicious first before the Cheddar. I think she’s having a hankering for pizza. Well, she said it’s because I made “regular” mac & cheese on Monday. Whatever. Regardless, we started off with the odd-flavored one! (That’s odd as in…not a normal flavor you would find). I served it with a slice of vegan garlic bread (from Annie May’s Sweet Café)…and dinner was super-easy, super-quick, and hopefully super-yum!
As far as boxed mac & cheese goes, this ranks up there. I thought the gluten free noodles were amazing. They didn’t get gummy or fall apart. They held up to draining and constant mixing when everything was added in. That really was a high point for me, since so often these boxed gluten-free pastas just fall apart. So…YAY! As for the flavor…it…kind of tastes like pizza. There is a hint of tomato flavor in the sauce, for sure. And the sauce is darker than the orange boxed powder stuff that people are used to eating. It didn’t punch me in the tastebuds and make me think I was eating pizza instead of pasta. Like I said, it had more of a rich tomato flavor than anything. What I did love most, however, was that it didn’t have a weird tangy fake cheese flavor to it. No plastic residue. Nothing that can be such a turn off (for me, anyway) when it comes to vegan cheese products. The sauce was creamy and cheesy (without the cheese!)…and for that I am happy. I think I liked it best when I was scooping it up with my garlic bread though. More powerful flavors there than on its own. That being said, I wasn’t disappointed in the least, and will probably end up keeping a box of the So Delicious Dairy Free Mac & Cheese in my pantry for nights where I need something quick and easy…and delicious.
All that being said, let’s talk about what goes into the So Delicious Dairy Free Mac & Cheese Pizza Flavor. This product is made up of organic gluten free pasta (organic white rice flour, organic green lentil flour, organic corn flour), algal protein, veggie blend (carrot, tomato), sea salt, natural flavor, coconut oil powder (maltodextrin, organic coconut oil, rice starch, natural flavor), guar gum, pizza seasoning (spices, garlic, salt, onion), mustard (seed), annatto, and lactic acid. This product us Kosher Parve, Certified Gluten Free, and Certified Vegan.
As for nutrition, a serving of the So Delicious Dairy Free Mac & Cheese Pizza Flavor is 2.5 ounces (71 grams…or about 1 cup prepared) and there are about 2.5 servings per box. My roommate and I just split it in half. An actual serving (as packaged, not prepared), will give you 260 calories, 2 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 50 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams sugars, and 10 grams of protein! LOOK at that protein!! It is definitely filling.
No worries…I still ate the cupcake afterwards!
Anyway…while the So Delicious Dairy Free Mac & Cheese Pizza Flavor was a nice way to have a stress-free night of cooking, I still felt that it was lacking somewhat in flavor. That being said, the texture, taste, and creaminess were right up to par…especially for a powder-base. I was impressed and surprised that I liked it that much. And that’s a good thing, for sure. But, I sure was glad I picked up that garlic bread today…
Bottom line…it was good. Not outstanding. But good. And different. I have yet to find another gluten free and/or vegan pizza mac and cheese on the market.
A little while ago, I posted a blog about a new product I discovered at my local Whole Foods store…a vegan cheese spread by a company known as Heidi Ho. I was beyond impressed with not just the texture, but also the flavor and taste of the cheese. And from there…so many people began to sing the praises of their products, specifically their Creamy Chia Cheeze.
Let it not be said that I can’t take a hint! HA!
With the holidays now out of the way and the budget not as stretched, I am able to indulge a little more these days. And, that is how a container of Heidi Ho Organics Creamy Chia Cheeze wound up in my basket at Whole Foods…and then in my fridge at home. Funny how that happens, right? With this week being a little…hectic…with my training and just life in general…I chose to make a version of mac & cheese using some of the Heidi Ho Creamy Chia Cheeze instead of Daiya and all the cashew milk and gluten-free flour and bake method. Simple is what I like.
Heidi Ho was created by Heidi K. Lovig, a fanatic about farm-to-table dining, sustainability, seasonal menus, and buying local. This vegan chef honed in on her skills during her time living on the Big Island of Hawaii in a sustainable community where she managed an eco hostel and farm. She trained with vegans and raw foodies from around the world, thus developing a deeper connection to the ingredients she uses in her cooking. Lovig moved to Portland a few years ago and began training at Le Cordon Bleu to obtain her degree in Culinary Arts. With a focus on local, organic, and sustainable practices, she turned her attention to the environmental issues humans have created due to food supply structures and our current system of distribution. At her side is Lyssa M. Story, “the Boss” at Heidi Ho. She runs the show and is the brains behind every facet of its operations. From HR to business plans and projections, to law, licensing, accounting, banking, money, organization, and keeping Chef Heidi on track. Story has an extensive background in the food and beverage industry, and attended the Western Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu, where she received an Associates degree in Occupational Studies – Hospitality and Restaurant Management. Story was raised on the standard American diet, which, over time, jeopardized her health. At the age of 22, she began a plant based and whole foods diet.
So, these two ladies set out to create delicious plant-based cheezes using ingredients that are healthier for their consumers…as well as the planet. Hedi Ho is the future of cheese – aiming to be the cheese that creates change. They take great pride in the values they uphold in their company and products. They sell cheeze that is superior in flavor and quality over the rest on the market.
Guess what…they succeed. The introduction of this plant-based comfort food is a game changer for vegans out there. They say on their Web site that their Creamy Chia Cheeze will “blow your mind for Mac N Cheese” and they are absolutely correct. Not only does this have a fantastic flavor, but it is rich and creamy and tastes like cheese…not like something plastic. It has a great texture too. And it’s like having a real melty cheese. I was so happy with the way this worked on the gluten-free noodles that I cooked up and poured this over. Creamy, healthy, and guilt-free. My dairy-free fridge will forever have one of Heidi Ho’s cheezes inside. That’s for sure.
Let’s talk about what goes into the Heidi Ho Creamy Chia Cheeze, shall we? This product is made from a veggie puree (water, red potatoes, red bell pepper, carrots, onions, garlic), cashews, safflower oil, sea salt, lemon, chia seeds, citric acid, paprika, mustard seed, black pepper, and cayenne. A majority of their ingredients are organic! The Hedi Ho Creamy Chia Cheeze contains NO nutritional yeast (thank goodness, as I’ve started to have reactions to it), soy, and is free of gluten and dairy. In other words, perfect for me!
So, let’s discuss nutrition. A serving of Heidi Ho Creamy Chia Cheeze is 1 ounce (28 grams). The container has 10 servings inside. A serving of Heidi Ho Creamy Chia Cheeze will provide you with 50 calories, 4 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 3 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, 1 gram protein. So much healthier than actual cheese too! Trust me, even you who can have dairy will LOVE this cheese.
If you haven’t been over to Whole Foods to pick up one of Heidi Ho’s vegan cheeze products, then you need to hurry over there now and try it out. Seriously…it is one of the best vegan cheezes that I have tried. No weird taste, creamy, delicious, and made with real and clean, organic ingredients. What’s not to love?
For the record…tonight I poured it over gluten-free rice chips and made nachos…and it was awesome.
Seriously…awesome. Your turn to try it so you know how awesome it is too!