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

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

Race: Anthem 5K Fitness Classic

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 4, 2017

Time: 21:55*

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

I. AM. NOT. JOKING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night before a race = pizza.

Always.

Forever.

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

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

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

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

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Melissa and me freezing before the Anthem 5K!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disneyland Star Wars Rebel Challenge – Anaheim, CA (January 14-15, 2017)

Oh yes…you know what??  It was only a matter of time before Disney lured me back to the other coast.  So often, for convenience, you see my Run Disney posts from Disney World.  Let’s face it…Florida is a lot easier to get to than California.  But…I have a goal.  An achievable goal.  And that is to run ALL the Disney Races.  So, you know, eventually I had to return to Disneyland.  I hadn’t been here in over 3 years (I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2013).

It was good to be back.  The whole thing, however, was unraveling from the very start.  Let me start at the beginning…

After getting back from my trip to Birmingham to visit my family over Christmas, I realized my OTHER…note that I say…OTHER hip was starting to twinge at me.  I had to run a lot of hills in my parents’ neighborhood…there is no avoiding them…so I chalked it up to that and went about my training…with very little slowing me down.  Over the New Year, I did my last training run of 14 miles ahead of my taper for the Star Wars Light Side Half while in Columbus, Ohio.  It was after this run that the hip really started to get angry at me.  In fact, that day, I was hobbling around and this started to concern me.  I felt better the next morning though, a Monday, and went out for my speed work.  I did that fine, just slightly missing my assigned pace.  Drove back to Indiana, did grocery shopping, and felt okay.  Got up on Tuesday and went for a run.  The hip twinged a few times, but I slowed down and got it done.  I felt fine afterwards.  And then…on Wednesday, I got up to do my run and stretches ahead of my spin class and…I couldn’t get through my one legged squats without cringing.  I went out and started my dynamic warmups and had to stop.  I sat outside and cried.  The left hip was not happy.  I went to spin…and it did fine there…but running wasn’t happening.  It was rough from there on out.

I contacted my former physical therapist, and asked her opionion on what the issue might be.  She gave me a few stretches to do…and Cathy researched, figuring it had to be my hip flexor and not the labrum as the pain was presenting itself differently.  I wasn’t so sure, but went with it, adding some hip flexor stretches to my routine, in lieu of the dynamic stretches and plyometrics.  I went to spin 2 more times…but other than that, I rested this hip.

I even put in a call to my orthopedic doctor, but he was booked solid through after I was already leaving for this race series. I was told he would call and go over things I could do.  When I didn’t hear from him Friday or Monday, my panic mode kicked in.  I called Tuesday, leaving a message that I was leaving on Thursday morning.  No word.

But this craziness doesn’t stop there.  Wednesday night rolls around and the third on this trip, my friend and Cathy’s sister, Amanda, comes over.  You see, we paid for her to come on this adventure with us.  She always wanted to see California, and figured this would be a fun way to do it.  Girl’s trip…WOOHOO!!  She was pretty excited leading up to it…and we stayed up a bit that night discussing what we would be doing, while I prepped breakfast for the morning before the early airport journey.  Then, we crashed out.

Apparently, around 1 am, Cathy said her sister knocked on her door and said that she was sick. Cathy got up and got her some of my tea…it’s SO good on the stomach…and that didn’t help her stomach issues.  At about 3:30 am, Cathy heard me watching my Instagram story…and knocked on my door.  She asked if I had anything that could help Amanda out.  All I had were Rolaids, so we tried that.

No go.  When I got up with my alarm at 5 am to stretch and then get breakfast ready, it was apparent that Amanda was not coming with us.  So…Cathy and I made breakfast, and Amanda called her husband to take her home.  He said this was probably brought on by anxiety…which is weird, because Amanda has traveled further than California with us before with no issues.  I’ve never seen her as a nervous traveler.  So…who knows.

Cathy and I packed up our stuff and her mom picked us up to go to the airport.  We checked in and walked the terminals until it was time to line up for boarding.  We got settled on our flight out of Louisville to Phoenix, Arizona.  Cathy, thankfully, slept for about 3 of those hours. When we landed, I called my orthopedic doctor’s office and talked to the receptionist.  I explained that I was told he would call before I left, and here I was, on my way to a race weekend with 2 distances on tap, a sore hip, and no answers.  She actually went and got him out of a room to talk to me.  After listening to the symptoms, he said it sounded like a hip flexor strain and that a cocktail of Tylenol and Ibuprofen would help with that.  I thanked him and said that, more than likely, I’d be making an appointment with him after this weekend. But now I at least had a plan.

In-N-Out Burger immediately upon landing in California. Cathy had a burger & fries done animal style and I just had plain fries (they are gluten-free at In-N-Out Burger!

In-N-Out Burger immediately upon landing in California. Cathy had a burger & fries done animal style and I just had plain fries (they are gluten-free at In-N-Out Burger!

The flight from Phoenix to Burbank, California was short and sweet.  We disembarked in the rain and chilly weather. It was warmer in Louisville than it was in Los Angeles that day.  Go figure.  We got our rental car and headed out to grab lunch at In-N-Out Burger (their fries are gluten free…so my lunch was fries.  Healthy, I know!).  And then, it was onto the hotel to check in and then…yep…head over to Downtown Disney and enter into the Disneyland Hotel for the expo.  This did involve going through security to get into Downtown Disney, and then a downhill descent into a parking garage to get my race bib.  I was in the first corral and one of the lower numbers, so it was pretty easy-going.  With that, we walked back up and into the hotel proper to duck into the Exhibition Hall and to take in the rest of the expo…as well as pick up my t-shirts.  I was determined not to spend a fortune at the expo, so Cathy kept me away from the Garmin table.  HA!  But, as it was, I was already needing to spend over $100 on compression shorts, a recommendation from my former physical therapist after seeing my post about the hip flexor strain on Facebook.  So…that happened.  I went to get in line for the official merchandise, but was told it was over a 2 hour wait.  I had other things to do, so I texted my friend, Melissa, who was coming in for the races the following day to see if she could pick them up if the line wasn’t crazy.  She agreed to do just that.  So, with my new compression shorts and a couple of new (and needed) BondiBands for my running costumes, we left the expo and went to return things to the hotel room.  The rest of that night is a blur.  I don’t even think we ate dinner.  I stretched, iced, foam rolled and went to bed.

Cathy and I in front of the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center

Cathy and I in front of the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center

Friday was all about Los Angeles…and we hit it hard!  We woke up early and prepared a
breakfast from the stuff I had on hand.  We had brought some of Annie May’s Sweet Cafe’s sandwich buns with us…so I loaded them up with some peanut butter I brought and placed some sliced banana on top.  It was SO good.  And it was just the right way to start off the day.  We hauled down to the car, grabbed some coffee at a local place called Coffee Code, then we were making our way down to the California Science Center.  We alotted plenty of time to get through morning traffic and it paid off, but we still arrived about 30 minutes before the place actually opened.  That was okay, though, because what we were not aware of at the time was that the California Science Center was right next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which, for you runners out there, you will know as the place where Joan Benoit Samuelson crossed the finish line to win the very first Olympic Women’s Marathon!  I was all about standing around and taking pictures (and doing videos) of this place.  And that was a good way to kill some time.  After a little stroll here and there, we entered the California Science Center and got ready to go see the Space Shuttle Endeavour.  I think Cathy was determined to be the first there…and while we were the first on the escalator, we were definitely not first over to the shuttle…but they weren’t too busy at the time.  We pretty much skipped much of the exhibit to jump right to the good part…the space shuttle.  Although, we did pause to touch one of the wheels in the exhibit, because when you have the opportunity to touch something that has been in space, you touch it!!  Space shuttles look fake to me, when I see them in person.  It’s bizarre.  That being said, Endeavour is beautiful…and the lengths that had to be taken to get her to California is still a fantastic story.  We stayed and shopped and then went to seek out more of the center, taking a wrong turn, then turning around and discovering that in addition to the space shuttle, they had an Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini capsule as well.  Three more points of interest…and we went and took in each and every one of them.

Me in front of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Me in front of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

From there…we made another long drive (seriously…how do those of you who live/work in LA survive…it takes hours to get places!) to make our lunch stop…Erin McKenna’s Bakery in LA.  This is her third shop and I have, proudly, been to all 3.  Love her stuff.  We each got bagels for lunch with vegan cream cheese…and then a box of goodies to bring back to the hotel to have during the time we were staying.  This included 2 scones, a doughnut and a cinnamon roll – all gluten free and vegan.  And, yes, delicious!  Our next stop was supposed to be Pressed Juicery in the same area for one of their Freezes…but the Pressed Juicery there was not a Freeze shop.  So, with a little Google-fu…I found one that wasn’t too far away and we drove down there.  We parked in a parking garage and went to go get our treats.  I wish we had this in Louisville…it’s ice cream made simply from real juice and topped off with healthy goods.  Seriously…we need this.  We walked around while we ate and then went back to the car.  Turns out the parking garage where we parked was for customers of a grocery store only.  And we needed a receipt to get out.  So, we had to go inside and buy some stuff, which worked out.  I picked up some AMAZING kombucha (I am obsessed, but when you have tummy problems…it helps!), some water, and a few other goods.  With receipt in hand, we were out and back on the road.  This time, back to Burbank to hit up a boutique store called Pin-Up Girl Boutique.  I

Pin-Up Girl Boutique dresses. I wanted to buy them all!

Pin-Up Girl Boutique dresses. I wanted to buy them all!

have friends in California who rave about it and my good friend Tawn actually sent suggestions of what she’d like to see Cathy and I try on.  I was a bit more into this than Cathy was, but we tried it all on, and the sales people were lovely, and I really wanted to buy it all…but…it was only my first full day in California and I couldn’t drop $150 on a dress at that moment.  I will be shopping there though!  It took 2.5 hours to get from Burbank back to the hotel near Disneyland.  It was late…and I had a race in the morning…so…dinner was an orange and a Glutino gluten-free toaster pastry.  Not what I would usually have for dinner before a race…but it was all we had at the time and really all we had time for.

In the morning…it was time to do the…

Disneyland Star Wars Light Side 10K

Disneyland Star Wars Light Side 10K

Star Wars Light Side 10K

Race: Star Wars Light Side 10K

Place: Disneyland, Anaheim, California

Date: January 14, 2017

Time: 50:13

Compression shorts…KT Tape…and ACE Bandages.

Welcome to my morning.  I got up about 30 minutes before Cathy’s alarm was to go off, just to get myself ready.  This meant doing my hip stretches that I found for hip flexor issues and the others I’d been doing for awhile.  I also took my Tylenol/Ibuprofen cocktail my orthopedic doctor had mentioned…both the night before and that morning.  Normally, it is not recommended to medicate before a race, but, dammit, I needed to get through 2 in 2 days…I was willing to do just about anything at this rate.

Cathy got up with the alarm and we ate a light breakfast, as we had extra large bananas (Walgreens only had King Kong sized bananas when we went there for ACE Bandages) to split on race mornings…so it was a basic nosh on dry cereal with some water.  I went to change into my outfit for the day.  Not the normal running gear as I was costuming as Rey, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I wore my compression shorts though, and Cathy wrapped the ACE Bandages around my torso and left thigh, just as the video my former physical therapist sent to me.  She secured it with the clips and put tape over those.  My right foot (the one that the plantar flared up on a month or so prior) was taped and I put on the capris and the costume top I was using.  My hair went into the standard pigtails and my new BondiBand I picked up at the expo went on my head.  No compression for this one.  The costume didn’t allow for it.  But…despite the hip issues, this was the shorter of the races.  I figured, while it would feel weird not to have compression sleeves on my legs, I could handle it for 1 race.

I got pinned up and we were out the door, stepping into the unseasonably cool California morning air, joining the myriad of other runners that morning at the crosswalk to step onto Disneyland property and enter into Downtown Disney.  There was a security checkpoint to go through first.  They searched bags if you had them and, some people, randomly, were sent through the metal detectors.  I had no bags, so I was an easy pass.  Cathy’s backpack is clear…and the security people LOVE that.  Makes her journey through the checkpoints easier.

Paul (Boba Fett), Melissa (Maz), and Me (Rey)...because STAR WARS!

Paul (Boba Fett), Melissa (Maz), and Me (Rey)…because STAR WARS!

We strolled past a very crowded Starbucks and continued on toward the staging area.  As we got to the other security checkpoint, my friend Melissa texted me and asked where I was.  I told her I had just passed through Downtown Disney.  She and her husband had just gotten into Downtown Disney…so they were on their way.  I told her that Cathy and I would wait just past the checkpoint…and that’s what we did.  We saw a LOT of BB-8 costumes…and a few Star Trek costumes too.  HAHA!!  Ah, the Trekkies are hillarious!  Melissa arrived, dressed as Maz (also from Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Paul (that’s her husband) was Boba Fett.  We hugged and both she and I limped (her hip/knee had been a problem since her first marathon the weekend before…can you say BEAST MODE?!) over to the staging area.  Of course…more pictures had to happen…last minute bathroom breaks…I had half a banana to eat…that sort of stuff.  We did have to start thinking about heading to our corrals, though…so we walked together until I had to break off to head to Corral A.  Melissa gave me a tight hug…told me not to even worry about my time and to just have some fun.  And if she and Paul caught up to me if I had to walk it…they would join me.  I love my friends.  Seriously.  I love them.

I got to my corral in time for some of the morning banter with our race emcees that morning.  They were actually quite funny.  And Disney spares no expense, for sure.  I LOVED that so much of Corral A was in costume!!  There were LOTS of Princess Leia’s…for obvious reasons.  In fact, the first woman to finish was dressed as Princess Leia…which seems fitting, for sure.  I was trying not to have a meltdown or panic attack due to my hip. I knew one of two things would happen.  I would get to that start line and take a few steps and be able to go…or I would have to walk the 6.2 miles to the finish.  Whichever it was, I was going to get to that finish line.

After the National Anthem was sang by a Disney cast member, the wheelchair race was sent off first.  Only a few minutes later, the corral was discarding any mylar blankets or other clothing they brought to keep warm.  No baked potatoes allowed across that start line…it would screw with the timing.  The countdown was given…the fireworks went off…and Corral A was underway.  I walked up to the start mat, then took a few tentative steps at a jog…then kept it conservative at the jog, realizing that while the hip twinged a few times, I could run.  Not all out fast or anything…but I wasn’t struggling either.  And so…the race was on.

Rey on Hoth

Rey on Hoth

That being said, my intention to stop and use the photo ops along the way…went to the wayside.  Once I got moving, I was afraid that if I stopped, the pain would settle and I wouldn’t get started again.  So, I just ran…and prayed a little…that my ACE Bandage would hold…that my hip wouldn’t do something awful.  Let’s remember…I had a half marathon looming the next morning.  The goal was to just run this and still be able to walk around at the end of it.  My friend Melissa had warned me about the one and only hill (you get sent through this tunnel thing…so down a hill…then through…then back up, but the rest of the course is flat.  F-L-A-T.  Which is infuriating to me, as I ROCK flat courses, and if the hip had been behaving…I probably would have kicked this course’s ass.  UGH!  Seriously, it feels like I can’t catch a break.

Rey in the trash compactor

Rey in the trash compactor

That being said…I almost broke the don’t stop rule when I saw the life-size, moving around, BB-8 on the course for photo ops!!  BB-8 is my FAVORITE…and I was SO tempted…but I knew stopping probably would have been worse…so I kept going, with very little pain at all.  I ran the streets…through the parks…pushing on past the water stops.  For a 10K, I don’t run with a fuel belt, but the cold air and my slower than usual pace meant I wasn’t really dehydrating myself.  My first mile of this race was the slowest…my third…the fastest.  I slowed it down between miles 4 and 5…but picked it up when I knew the last mile was ahead.  I’m not talking breaking any speed records.  I never got faster than a 7:38 pace (and that was mile 3)…but I wanted to finish strong.  And I saw that finish line and just went for it.  I could hear Cathy screaming at me from the cheer squad seats (she got in there somehow…I never know how she pulls these things off)…and powered over that finish line.

What really kept me going…the fact that I knew the medal for this race was BB-8.  I

FINISHER of the Star Wars Light Side 10K

FINISHER of the Star Wars Light Side 10K

walked through the finisher’s area, getting my medal…a mylar blanket…a box of goodies and some water. And then…I made my way out to the staging area, where Cathy met me.  She was going on-and-on about my time and how she was checking the tracking and going, “Well…she’s running…that’s good!”  HA!  They had some fun photo ops out, so while the lines were still short, we took advantage of those.  Then…it was time to head back to the hotel.  Our friend Tawn was coming in from Fresno that morning (she left SUPER early to get down there around 9 am)…and I was ready to shower and eat some real food.  The problem was, the exit was blocked by racers.  Okay…turned around…and tried to go through one of the hotels, but instead of asking someone, Cathy just kept turning corners out of the lobby, and then put us in an Emergency Exit area…where we got trapped.  TRAPPED!  Insert me starting to bitch about being cold and wanting a shower…and now being stuck.  We finally got out, thanks to the help of some of the Disneyland employees…and after asking if we were okay or needed water, we were now on the road back to the hotel.

BB-8 Finisher's Medal for the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side 10K

BB-8 Finisher’s Medal for the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side 10K

I showered.  And then I rested a little while we awaited Tawn’s arrival.  We had a reservation for a breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen.  And Tawn arrived in time to change, do her makeup and for us to get to the restaurant, get pictures with Goofy, and get seated.  It was the best way to kick off Day #1 of Disneyland adventures for sure.

We spent the entire day at California Adventure…and that night, my friend Alison and her family drove down to meet us at the Pizza Press for my traditional gluten-free pizza before a race.  She and her family are amazing, awesome, and just all around good people.  It was a blast…and I’m glad I FINALLY got to meet her in person.  And her son, Evan, who we nicknamed Mr. Incredible a few years ago.  He really is incredible!  We sadly did have to say our goodbyes though, because Sunday’s 3:00 am wake-up for a 5:30 am race

Tawn, Goofy, Me & Cathy at Goofy's Kitchen!

Tawn, Goofy, Me & Cathy at Goofy’s Kitchen!

was impending.

Oh…so my official results of the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side 10K are that I finished in 50:13.  Not too bad given the circumstances!!  I mean…FOR REAL! I was 296/11,606 finishers overall.  I was the 33/6816 female to cross the finish line.  And I was 5/1216 runners in my age division.  This hips issue is driving me nuts.  I can’t even fathom how much better I could have done had I been able to just go for it.  Seriously…these results are both amazing…and frustrating at the same time!  Given the circumstances…I will take it!!

The rest of the day was fun at Disneyland…but at the end of the day, the hip was done and my limp was starting to return.  We turned in after the pizza stop and I took my last round of the Tylenol/Ibuprofen cocktail and turned in for the night.  The following morning…did not go as smoothly…


My BB-8 running costume, modified for the cold weather (orange shirt underneath) for the Disneyland Light Side Half Marathon

My BB-8 running costume, modified for the cold weather (orange shirt underneath) for the Disneyland Light Side Half Marathon

Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon

Race: Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon

Place: Disneyland, Anaheim, California

Date: January 15, 2017

Time: 1:47:53

My alarm went off at 3 am.  My friend Tawn was up and in the shower.  She’s a Run Disney vet and is AWESOME at the routine.  Wake up early…get out the door…do race…do the parks.  She’s not a runner, but she comes out to cheer and to just…be there at the finish line.  So, while she was in the bathroom, I got up to take that Tylenol/Ibuprofen cocktail and to stretch.  I took a few steps toward the table I had things set out on…and knew that today I was in a whole heap of trouble.  I was limping.  I was limping bad.  I was sore…and I had a 13.1 mile race ahead of me.

THIS. WAS. BAD.

I might have cried as I did my hip stretches and foam rolled.  Cathy got up just before the alarm that morning, and we started to just roll through race morning prep.  While Tawn did her makeup and hair, I got dressed and Cathy prepped some KT Tape to put across my hip flexor.  We did that…and I pulled the compression shorts on over that…then she did the ACE Bandage wrap.  Over that went my running shorts and then…the BB-8 running sparkle skirt I purchased SO long ago.  Seriously…my hip was being held together with tape, bandages, and a lot of prayer.  I was not in a good place, physically or mentally, on half marathon morning.  Not one bit.  But, I finished getting ready, having to modify the bra top costume due to the low 40 degree weather in Los Angeles that morning.  I was NOT expecting these temps there.  Luckily, I had a bright orange shirt with me and it became the base layer.  I was layered everywhere…sports bra, t-shirt, BB-8 bra top on top…KT tape, compression shorts, ACE Bandages, shorts, and a skirt on the bottom half.  And every step…a challenge.  I ate my cereal to put something in my stomach and filled up my water bottles on my fuel belt with my nuun and water.  I grabbed one of the Godzilla-sized bananas for pre-race eats and the three of us were out the door, pretty much right on time.  I was not nervous like I was before the 10K.  Walking was a challenge…so I was downright freaking out.  I think I cried a few times on the way to the crosswalk to get over to Disneyland property and through security.  I branched off to the NO LINE group and held my cell phone up over my head as we went through the metal detectors.  Tawn and Cathy got through bag check quickly and we were making our way past the overrun Starbucks on the corner.  There was another one further in that was never as busy…so we did joke about that a little.  We got to the staging area, and I hadn’t heard from Melissa and Paul yet…so we just moved out of the way and listened to some of the music.

At this point…I think I had an all-out meltdown.  Both Tawn and Cathy were quick to give me hugs and reassurance.  The thing was…I was hurting.  And a half marathon is NO JOKE!!  Cathy said that it was possible that this race would be just like the last one…where I take a few steps and it’s all good. I hoped she was right.  I dried my eyes…got more hugs…and they sent me off to get into my corral.

Same system as before.  No Melissa or Paul to hug.  I wasn’t sure if they’d pass me or if I’d see them that day…but I stepped up to Corral A and got inside.  And I felt, very much, like I honestly didn’t belong there that morning.  The race emcees were back for more fun this morning, and they kept the mood light.  I was shivering, not completely from the cold…but my nerves were creeping in.  I never get nervous before a race…but I knew that I was going into this at about 50%…and it scared the shit out of me.

The National Anthem was played beautifully by a band and soon the wheelchair racers were off.  My corral ditched the mylar blankets or clothing keeping them warm and we all started to move up a bit more at the start line.  When the countdown happened, the fireworks went off, I walked toward that start line and took a few tentative steps at a jog.

PAIN!!  It was unpleasant pain from the start, but I was in the flow of runners, so I just pressed on, without pushing too much.  I thought so hard about ducking to the side and just walking…but I didn’t.  I kept my pace easy…and I just did what I could.  Once again, though, my plan to stop for photos went out the window. Any stopping today would be the worst thing possible…because as I learned at the Boston Marathon…it hurts SO much worse to start back up.  I hit the underpass hills again…and managed to navigate those and started through some of the parks.  I paid no attention to time clocks…I was focusing in on my form as best as I could.  I had to pass up the BB-8 photo op again…which sucked, since I was dressed as BB-8…but it was the only decision that made sense to me.  Running this didn’t make sense…but I paid a HELL of a lot for this race challenge…it was happening even if I had to slow to a walk.

Me after finishing the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon and completing the Rebel Challenge

Me after finishing the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon and completing the Rebel Challenge

But then…something fantastic happened.  As we came out of the park around Mile 4…I hear and see Cathy and Tawn, just screaming at me from the side of the route.  It was amazing.  Tawn recorded it and you can hear Cathy talking about how my form looked good and all that.  I was hurting…but it wasn’t bad at this point.  I could manage…even though I was wondering when I would have to drop to the side and take it to a walk.

We exited Disneyland soon after and hit the road.  As I rounded the corner, I heard someone yell, “HEY!  IT’S R2-D2.”  Wrong droid!!!  I am in orange…BB-8 is orange.  R2-D2 is blue.  SHEESH!!  The cheerleaders that lined this portion of the course was uplifting and it did make me move a little bit faster as I went past them.  Miles 5 & 6 ended up being my fastest, and also put me at a 10K time faster than the 10K I ran the morning before.  Cathy had been tracking me as she and Tawn went to get coffee and explore some of Downtown Disney and this fact impressed her for sure.

But it started to get rough soon after this.  Much of the crowds disappear at this point. But, there are plenty of people running with you.  But…Mile 9 going into Mile 10…was the best.  The 501st is out in all their gear.  You have just this long line of Star Wars characters and it is just…fantastic.  I mean, I’m running through and everyone is in character.  There was a phenomenal Obi-Wan Kenobi on the corner…with an accent and all…and that was SO amazing to me.  It was uplifting.  But after I was past them…that was when the pain really started to rear it’s ugly head.  My pace slowed way down for the last three miles…but at this point, I knew I was only 30 minutes at most away from a finish line.  I gritted my teeth…cried…a little. Maybe a lot.  And knew my right foot was blistering, which never happens, but I was now changing my stride to accommodate my hip.  UGH.  I started to really focus on each step, trying to to baby the hip, but trying to to push it too much either.

Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Finishers Medal

Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Finishers Medal (It has Princess Leia on it…ALL THE FEELS!)

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Disneyland Star Wars Rebel Challenge Medal for finishing the 10K on Saturday & the Half Marathon on Sunday!

I thought I had picked it up for the final mile, but that ended up being my slowest mile of the day.  Go figure.  I could hear that finish line, and when I saw it, determination and stubbornness took over and I ran it as hard as I dared and could manage.  The announcer said, “It looks like we have a BB-8 coming in…Karen Brady!”  That made me at least smile, so at least my finish picture isn’t ugly crying or something.  I heard Cathy and Tawn just ahead of me as I limped past the photographers.  Cathy called me over for a picture at the finish line which hobbled over for.  They said that they would see me on the other side…and I went to get my finisher’s medal for the half marathon, my mylar blanket…and then my extra medal for completing the Star Wars Rebel Challenge!  After that, the snack box and water were handed over and I exited the finish area to re-enter the staging area…and Tawn and Cathy were there to hug me and greet me.  And I cried…again.

Top: The Schulyer Sisters - Eliza, Angelic...and Peggy - from Hamilton Bottom: Me, Cathy, Tawn...as Eliza, Angelica...and Peggy - NAILED IT!

Top: The Schulyer Sisters – Eliza, Angelic…and Peggy – from Hamilton
Bottom: Me, Cathy, Tawn…as Eliza, Angelica…and Peggy – NAILED IT!

We didn’t hang around much after this.  I was hurting and we had Disneyland to properly explore that day.  We decided to head back to the hotel so I could shower, we could eat breakfast (Cathy split the last of the sandwich buns and we split the donut 3 ways) before heading out for the rest of the day.  We had a big day ahead of us…and while it was hard to move…I wanted to get the most out of my time with Tawn and my time at Disneyland.  We even did a thing…by getting the names of the Schulyer Sisters from the musical Hamilton on our Mickey ears and posing in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle!!  We are theater NERDS!  Honestly, in order to even be able to move that day, I put on a pair of leggins, and had Cathy do the ACE Bandage wrap I wore during the races, and I put my BB-8 skirt back on…because…I needed to cover the ACE wrap.

This is how I was able to get around Disneyland. That and pain meds. And just being stubborn.

This is how I was able to get around Disneyland. That and pain meds. And just being stubborn.

That being said, this pretty much meant I couldn’t pee all day. Luckily…I never really had to.  And I managed a full day at the park…had a blast…and ate an incredible dinner that night at Cafe Orleans.  Seriously…worth every painful step.

I guess some results are in order.  The official race results of the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:47:53.  I was expecting 3 hours, so this was amazing to me.  Seriously, even I can’t figure out how I pulled off that time.  I was 422/12434 finishers overall.  I was 57/7028 women to cross the finish line.  And, I was 14/1253 in my age division.  Not too bad under these very hostile circumstances.  For real!  It still pisses me off because this was SO FLAT…and I want to run it as hard and best as I can.  Flat courses and I are BFFs.  But my body has let me down again.

My orthopedic doctor was unable to see me until February 1.  My hip is still…not good.  All running is off…I’m walking, spinning, and just trying out other non-impact means of just keeping my endurance and fitness up until I can get some answers.

Here’s hoping for the best!

And Disneyland…I’ll be back!

May the Force be with you!

May the Force be with you!

Minnesota Half Marathon – St. Paul, MN (August 6, 2016)

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Me crossing the finish line of the Minnesota Half Marathon – St. Paul, MN

Race: Minnesota Half Marathon

Place: St. Paul, Minnesota

Date: August 6, 2016

Time: 1:41:24

Two weeks ago, I had a plan.  I was to run 12 miles…either around my grandpa’s neighborhood in Minnesota…or with my friend Julie (depending on her schedule) somewhere in the Minneapolis area.  Neither came into fruition, because Southwest had that computer meltdown that literally grounded and cancelled flights that entire weekend.  So, while my family was in Minnesota, celebrating my grandpa’s 95th birthday, I was still in Indiana…and Southwest was willing to reschedule for up to 2 weeks out.  And after checking with my aunt and my grandpa about their schedules…I was rescheduled to visit now at the beginning of August instead.  The rest of my family would be back in Alabama, but I would get a bit more one-on-one time with my grandpa, aunt, and cousins (and their families).  So, there were pros and cons.

It just so happened that in my current marathon training schedule, my long run for that weekend was a 13 mile run.  And, as luck would have it…there was a local half marathon running on Saturday.

Maybe this was meant to be.

There were a lot of things that compelled me to sign up for the Minnesota Half Marathon.  For one thing…if I’m going to put in the time and miles, why not get a medal for it?  Another reason…it benefited the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and a friend of mine is currently in Chicago at the Ronald McDonald House with her niece, who is being treated for cancer…and kicking cancer’s ass if I do say so myself.  Also…there was an inline skating division.  Yes…roller bladers were invited to also do the 13.1 mile course.  I have never been part of a race with an inline skating division.  So cool.  OH…and the course…has you running right along the Mississippi River the entire time.  Sounded perfect to me.  And so…as a rather last minute decision, I registered and packed my racing gear in my luggage.

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Caribou Coffee!!!!!

Upon arriving in Minneapolis, after a much-needed and fantastic stop at Caribou Coffee at the airport, my roommate and I got our rental car and headed out to St. Paul…down to The Running Room to pick up my packet.  We arrived just slightly before they opened (let’s hear it for making good time!), so we went up the street and killed some time in CVS, before heading back down to the store and stepping inside.  There was a small table set up with a laptop, some race bibs, and boxes of t-shirts off to the side.  A young woman was manning the table and she asked my name, typed it into the computer, and grabbed the next race bib on the stack (2490), took a sharpie and marked the half marathon checkbox, and told me to grab my size t-shirt.  That was it.  Super easy.

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French Meadow Bakery’s Gluten Free & Vegan Cornmeal Waffle

From there, we headed over to Minneapolis to hit up the grocery store (I was cooking 2 meals while there AND making dessert), and then get to grandpa’s house.  We let ourselves in…and he was inside and very happy to see me there.  We were, of course, already ready for some lunch.  We invited Grandpa along, but he was tired from his trip earlier in the week that he took.  So, Cathy and I packed up and headed out to one of our favorite places to eat while in Minnesota…French Meadow Bakery.  I was cooking dinner that night for my Grandpa, aunt, my cousin Natalie, and my cousin Molly and her family (hubby and 3 kids)…and I was making BigMAC Potatoes.  I normally do gluten-free pizza before a race, but since I was treating this as a training run, I figured it was fine to change things up.  Who knows…maybe I’d stumble across something that worked better.  Cathy ordered the Mac & Cheese for lunch and I went with the Gluten Free & Vegan Cornmeal Waffle (which is topped off with bananas, toasted walnuts, and a toffee syrup).  Because…we all know how much I love breakfast.  We devoured our food and did a little bit of shopping at the Electric Fetus (that’s a record store, in case you were wondering), a Half Price Books, and then went back to home base, as I needed to bake the Gluten Free Strawberry Streusel Bars that I brought ingredients (yep…I brought the last 2 jars of my strawberry jam to Minnesota for this) to bake specifically for the birthday peeps (my aunt celebrated her birthday a few days after my grandpa did).  The dessert needed to cool for 2 hours, so I got it baking and then settled in to talk and hang out with grandpa for a little while.  Eventually, my aunt came home from work and Molly & Co. arrived.  Molly volunteered to make her famous green beans…and I was excited about eating them because they sounded SO good.  I put Cathy on the task of rinsing, poking, and rubbing the potatoes down with a light bit of olive oil.  We got them in the oven, since it would take about an hour to bake, and then I got to work on the lentils, which would make the “meat” portion of the vegan dish.  Soon, we had everything cooked and we settled down at the table, where I walked everyone through how to assemble their potatoes.  And we devoured them and half of the Strawberry Streusel Bars too.  Vegan cooking FTW!!

The Olympics were starting that evening, so the opening ceremonies were put on the screen and while I foam rolled (and taught my cousins all about foam rolling and the stick!), I watched what Brazil was bringing to the world stage for these 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  I was exhausted, as I had been up since 12:45 am to squeeze in all my stretches, warm up, and manage a short (2 mile) run and shower before my ride to the airport had arrived at 4 am.  But, as the United States were walking in the E’s (Los Estados Unidos!), I was at least able to stay up and see Michael Phelps carry in the flag.  Once that happened, I was in bed and setting 2 alarms for the morning routine for a race.

The first alarm came WAY too soon, but I got up, went through the first part of my race-day routine, and then climbed back into bed for about another hour.  The second alarm was go-time…so I had to get up, get changed, eat something, and get to the race.  I managed to get into my race outfit before checking the weather and discovering that it was currently 57 degrees outside.  So, bra top wasn’t going to work.  I came prepared with 3 different singlets though, so I grabbed my purple Boston one and slipped it on.  That would do.  Cathy was up just as I stuck a bagel in the oven to toast for her and prepped my oatmeal cup I brought with me.

So…basically I was doing EVERYTHING that they advise against in preparation for this half marathon.  I forewent the pizza the night before…I stayed up late…I ate a big bowl of oatmeal pre-race (I usually have a serving of cereal before leaving for the race and then a banana 30 minutes before the race)…I was testing out Skratch as a form of fuel (as my current fuel has been giving me stomach cramps)…and I didn’t give myself any time to stretch, do my PT exercises, my dynamic warmup stuff, or my plyometrics…yep…I was doing it all wrong and just hoping for the best.  HA!  Good thing I wasn’t racing this.

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Pre-race nap in the rental car

After we ate, I quickly brushed my teeth, filled up one water bottle in my fuel belt with water, the other with Skratch, and grabbed my banana.  Then, we were off to the races.  Via a detour.  Where Cathy managed to get where we needed to be without even trying.  Talk about luck!  She got us parked in the parking garage the race site recommended to park in…with time to kill.

So…I took a nap.

No joke.  I took a freakin’ nap.

Ah…my power naps are so…awesome.

After about 2o minutes, we decided to head on down toward the start line so that we wouldn’t feel crushed for time.  One problem…we couldn’t figure out how to efficiently get down to the ground level over by the river.  Hmmm…

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The Minnesota Half Marathon has an inline skating division…HOW COOL!

After a few false starts and a lot of back and forths…and many stair wells and elevators, we figured it out and got down to where we needed to be.  From there, we followed all the runners toward the start area.  And I immediately ducked into the long lines for the port-a-potties.  Apparently potatoes and oatmeal make me have to pee.  I rarely make use of the port-a-potties…and the lines were LONG.  Cathy found me in time to pass of my banana at 6:45 am…as the half marathon was to go off at 7:15 am.  The inline skaters were sent of at 7 am.  The bathroom lines had a TON of inline skaters in them and as the time ticked down and the lines barely moved…they had to move to the front or miss the start.  Banana…bathroom…time to watch the inline skaters go before getting myself ready to run.  There were some seriously incredible skaters who lined up…but the majority were casual racers.  Still…it was pretty awesome to see them take off.  Some were SUPER fast.

After they were out of the starting area, the half marathon runners were asked to line up.  So, I hopped into the start area…just behind the 1:40 pacer.  I had no pace expectations…just to run comfortably.  It was a training run, after all. We were sent off a few minutes early, to be sure.

But I was off.

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Me…heading out at the start of the Minnesota Half Marathon in St. Paul, MN.

This race was beautiful.  The entire run is done along the Mississippi River.  The roads are closed to traffic, so it’s just you, the runners, the river, and…the occasional struggling roller blader.  This course was reversed from the years previous to help make the last 5 miles a bit flatter.  You know what that means?  The hills hit in the first half of the race.  Some of these climbs brought some more of the novice roller bladers to a stop, or to a crawl (while clinging to the cement divider on the road), but I just worked my way up them.  I’m still trying to get my spring and speed back when it comes to hills.  That being said…I just adjusted my stride and pushed on.

We turned around just before Mile 4 to head back toward the start area, so any downhill we had, now was an uphill.  There was a small amount of support out on the side of the road…but mostly I enjoyed listening to the pacers whenever they were around.  OH…and the one guy who was totally flirting with this girl in the 1:40 group.  He literally turned to her and said, “I like your pace!”  Um…right…

Anyway…the run beside the river was quite pleasant…even though most of these miles were put in right in full sun.  Yeah…I was regretting not just doing the bra top at this point.  The singlet was light…but I would have been way more comfortable without the fabric.

At Mile 5, I decided to take a risk and try out some of the Skratch that I picked up samples of to see how it did as a fuel.  By Mile 6, the pacer in front of me was telling the runners that were with him that it would be a good time to gu.  LOL!  One good thing about running so close to a pace group, was I knew when “the last hill” would be hitting.  I let them go soon after Mile 8.  This is also the point of the race where all the runners are sent past the finish line.  Seriously…we had to run up the road for another few miles before turning around again.  This is the second race I’ve done in Minnesota where we are sent past the finish area…like a tease…

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This is me…running past the finish line area just after Mile 8.  What a tease!

Cathy saw me and was screaming and cheering.  And I gave a wave and continued on.  Mile 10…more Skratch…but I was feeling a bit tired.  So, I knew Skratch was not going to be a good fuel for my upcoming marathon.  UGH.  This means that I am back to square one on the whole nutrition/fueling thing.  MEH.  I had a backup Huma gel, but I was only 3 miles from the finish, so I stuck it out.  Just before Mile 11, we make the turn and run back toward the finish area, this time…to finish for real.  This involved a bit of a hill climb…and then it was just over 2 miles to hit that finish line.

With the gentle breeze coming off the river, I relaxed, settled into my pace, and just made my last couple of miles count.  I could see the finish line ahead and started to pick it up as much as I could manage.  And…I even managed to pass up another female runner right at the finish line.  You see that line, you sprint, dammit.  SPRINT.  Even I do that, and I don’t sprint.  I am not a sprinter.  LOL!

Anyway…upon finishing, I was given my Minnesota-shaped finisher’s medal and took some time to walk through the recovery area.  I was introduced to Aspire Sports Drink, which is made with natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives.  It was AMAZING.  I tried 4 of the 6 flavors.  Only 35 calories per bottle too.  Gotta love it.  I eased out of my racing shoes and into my flip flops for recovery.  And, after a bit of walking…Cathy and I went to get some coffee at the nearby Caribou Coffee (of course), before heading back to Minneapolis so I could change and then hang out with my friend Heather for some lunch and shopping that afternoon.

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Me with the Mississippi River behind me…after the finish of the Minnesota Half Marathon – St. Paul, MN

So, my official results of the Minnesota Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:41:24, which is only 6 seconds slower than my finish at Derby.  AND…my Garmin had this course at 13.25 miles exactly.  Anyway, I was 86/1164 finishers overall.  I was 16/640 women to cross the finish line.  And I was 3/87 people in the 35-39 female division!  Third in my age division.  HOLLA!!  Imagine if I had been racing this thing (but I know better…and I am SO close to my marathon this year!).

I had a lot of fun at this race.  Not only did it benefit a great cause, but it was a fantastic way to work in a training run.  Afterwards, I went and had delicious Mexican food for lunch and walked the Mall of America with one of my best friends in life…Heather…who brought along her 8 month old niece…and we had a blast.  It was a perfect start to a perfect visit to Minnesota.  Gorgeous course…challenging…and if you aren’t feeling up to the half distance, they also offer an unusual 6K distance as well.

The Struggle is Real

The mileage is totally going up as my race in early September creeps closer and closer.  And as there weren’t any running plans being tossed around with the normal group I run with…I made plans to run with a couple of speedy guys in Frankfort, Kentucky on Saturday.  We were doing 18 miles.  And for the first 13 miles…we were running the Kentucky History Half Marathon course (which is hilly hell)…and then we were going to run to their neighborhood for the additional 5 miles.

This started off really well, and the first 13 miles went great.  After that…it all came apart and went to hell.  We started off this massive hill and it was just like…my legs didn’t want to move anymore.  They were feeling fantastic up until that point.  And this…this just killed me.  Nothing messes with your head more than having a great run go bad.  I felt bad, slowing down the speediest of the group, as he wanted to do the 18 miles at his MP, and I was running at least a minute slower than he needed to be running.  When I hit the hill…it was even worse.  The struggle…was more than real.  It occurred to me that my September race was going to be way harder than this, and the fact that this course completely shattered my confidence I had been building up.

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Top: Kentucky History Half Marathon Course Elevation      Bottom: My September Marathon race

It was brutal and after I sent one of the runners on, and the other one never got past the 13 mile mark because he stopped to talk… got myself a bit lost and turned around in a city I really know nothing about.  I might have cried a little.  And ugly crying and a bad run make everything worse.  SO…I ended up turning around, heading back toward downtown, and rounding off the mileage on my own.  I got there, but it wasn’t pretty and I felt pretty defeated the rest of the day.  But, on the plus side, I did get the mileage in and I stepped a bit outside of my comfort zone to do it too.

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So, when I went on my little shakeout this morning, I had a little heart-to-heart with myself as I ticked off a couple of easy miles.  And that is…my new focus…and I leave it to The Doctor to share it with you…

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I get so down on myself and hard on myself regarding the paces I can hold, maintain, or even run at different points of the week.  Right now, I need to just focus on the whole…running thing…and less on how much or little time it takes me.  Let’s face it.  A 7 mile hill climb at the start of a marathon is going to SUCK…and right now, I should focus on just prepping myself mentally as well as physically by simply setting the numbers and data aside…and basically…just running.

And with all that being said…the best thing ever happened this past week as plans for my September race started falling into place.  One thing that is going to be entirely necessary is having people around to get me through what will likely be a challenging and…humbling race.  And all the ladies that are traveling with me are on board.  And I feel a LOT better about at least my post-race stuff thanks to that simple fact.

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The gang is getting back together.  It’s been way too long since the four of us have gone on an adventure.  And I promise not to get my purse stolen this time…

Anyone else watching the Tour de France?  I was watching it yesterday and was just blown away by the way these cyclists command that course.  They are amazing and inspiring.  Seriously, it does make me want to get back on my road bike…but ever since taking that spill and having so much trouble unclipping…I just haven’t felt like risking my bones and body in another potential fall.  So, I’m watching all these athletes cycling like mad on the roads of France and they’re just…FLYING!

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And I get on a bike and I feel like…

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True story!  Well, the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, practice.  I am going to look at getting my clips loosened…or possibly new pedals.  We’ll see what happens after that.  Fact of the matter is…I want to get back on my bike.

My other favorite thing this week…going over to Bryan & Michelle’s house on Friday night, eating Daiya pizza, watching Kung Fu Panda 3, drinking a little wine (Reggae Red Wine), and just having more laughs than I’ve had all week.  Seriously…it was just the unwinding that I needed at the right time.  And I love these two.  Two of the best friends I’ve made since moving to the area.

And…SHE. BOUGHT. PIZZA. I. CAN. EAT!  So much love!  I was eagerly eyeing them in the oven ready to devour.  We all know…pizza is my favorite!

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I made Gluten Free and Vegan S’mores for dessert.  I think Michelle now wants a kitchen torch (which is how I toasted said marshmallows)!

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They were a hit!

Pizza party, Panda, and discussion of what a Chi Biscuit would include.  HA!!  God, I love my friends.

And that was pretty much my weekend!  It was a decent week leading into the weekend.  And when my Saturday night finishes up with dinner at Shalimar (mmm…Indian food!), it’s a good time.

Speaking of movies…last night I watched the movie Chef.  It had been on my list for awhile, and all my friends kept telling me I had to see it.  They were right.  I loved it.  It made me really want to go to culinary school.  Maybe not to run a food truck…or…perhaps…to run a food truck.  HA!  If you haven’t seen it…get on Netflix and watch it.  You will thank me for it.

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So, that was pretty much my week.  Sort of a bumpy ride…but more ups (mentally and physically, HA!) than downs.

How do you overcome challenges?  Ever have a run fall apart on you?  How do you mentally and physically recover?  I want to know!!

Oh…it’s National Ice Cream Day…so…scoop up some goodness today!!

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Have a great week!

Quick Thoughts From the Week

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.

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But, this past weekend, Saturday’s Monon Trail run wasn’t happening…

MEH.

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!

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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…

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…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.

Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN (May 21, 2016)

Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon - Fishers, IN

Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN

Race: Geist Half Marathon

Place: Fishers, Indiana

Date: May 21, 2016

Time: 1:42:13

I’m not going to sugarcoat this in any way.  A part of me is very, very happy with this race result; the other part of me is beyond disappointed.

I know…I know…I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but it’s hard…when this race is, specifically, your PR half marathon.  And I ran that PR 2 years ago…back when the course finished up a hill and around a corner.  In fact…my blog from 2 years ago recounted said finish…

I had been hearing tales of the “hill at the end” and wasn’t sure what to expect.

It was…KILLER!  I thought Chicago was evil for putting a hill at Mile 26 of the marathon.  This was the half marathon equivalent.  Not only do you climb this hill…you then round a corner and the finish line is right ahead.  So, with legs screaming at me…I got up the incline and took the turn…and there it was…the finish.

Ah…the good old days when nothing ever hurt.  I was able to run free without all the stretching and warm ups and cool downs and all that stuff that takes a lot of my time away from my morning routines.  I shouldn’t grouse about it.  I’m back to running.  And I’m happy about that for sure.

To be honest, the week leading into this race was not my best.  Back on Sunday, I went out to eat and ordered something off a “gluten sensitive” menu.  I normally don’t risk any sort of “sensitive” menu when it comes to gluten…but I’d eaten here before, so I figured it would be safe.  NEGATIVE.  I was glutened.  And it really altered my mood and my energy levels.  Top it off with the nasty cold snap that came through and ALL. THE. RAIN.  Seriously, I was getting really tired of running in the rain this week.  My hip has been unhappy with the return of the cold weather and with the dampness too.  BAH.  HUMBUG!  AND…sinuses!  My God, this area is HORRIBLE when it comes to allergies.  And it started to hit me last week…and…oh yeah…tying to breathe on runs has been less than stellar.

So…while I was looking forward to Geist…and the new half marathon route (no more finishing up a hill!)…I also wasn’t feeling my best leading into it.  And that sort of had me down in the dumps.  Even though I knew there would be no shining PR in this race, a part of me, deep down, was really hoping to pull something off.

It was not meant to be.

All that being said, Cathy and I made the drive up to Fishers, Indiana, on Friday.  We left work about an hour and a half early and hopped in the car.  This drive always takes forever.  Seriously.  It’s just north of Indianapolis, so navigating all the traffic to get there is…well…frustrating. But, we managed to get up there without too much of a delay, but were quite happy with the decision to leave early, as by the time we got to the expo, it was already almost 6 p.m. Damn rush hour traffic.

Regardless, we got to the hospital where the expo is held and stepped inside.  Before anything else, we both made a dodge for the bathroom.  That was a long trip, and we downed a bottle of PACt Cranberry Lemonade.  Anyway, once that was taken care of, we stepped back out, looked up my bib number at one of the convenient stations, and rounded a corner so I could pick up said bib.  I was number 1541.  And there was a small line…and one guy working.  There is always a line.  It wasn’t too much of a wait with the few people ahead of me, and soon I was being handed a bib.  I stepped out of the room where I was handed a black reusable bag and we meandered further into the reaches of the expo to find the shirt booth.

I picked up my long sleeve shirt and after that…we made the short trek through the expo.  I kept expecting to see a running store represented…because the weather changed and now it was looking like rain at the start and I needed a visor or a hat.  But…nope.  There was one booth of headbands, and the rest were like…attorney offices, Orange Theory, and a Chiropractor.  Not much for your race day shopping needs.  I was a bit bummed out about that.  Thankfully, there was a Dick’s Sporting Goods just up the street.  So, after checking the race map and then giving one small glance around to make sure we didn’t miss anything…we were off to Dick’s.

Dick’s was a bit of a mess.  Finding the hats/visors was a task in and of itself for one thing.  Cathy finally tracked them down…on a little hanger thing.  I picked up an Under Armor pink visor…that way my pigtails could still fly free.  We went to check out and the cashier was the S-L-O-W-E-S-T human being in the face of retail.  Seriously.  This guy was in NO hurry to do anything.

Wow…I am really taking advantage of caps abuse on this blog.  But, seriously, we were standing in line for about 15 minutes while he rang up 2 pairs of shoes and a jacket that a lady was purchasing.  Seriously.  SERIOUSLY!!  And there was another person in front of me to go.  Luckily another cashier opened.  And I was starting to wonder how long it would take for him to ring up my visor.  The answer…about 5 freakin’ minutes.

At this point, I’m hungry and we’re coming up on 6:45 pm.  This is now about an hour later than I like to eat on the night before a race.  MEH!  We had, at the last moment, changed our mind on our restaurant of choice for gluten-free pizza, and went over to Brixx Wood Fired Pizza…mainly because they had vegan cheese…and Cathy never likes to assume a place that doesn’t have a build your own option would allow a build your own or a cheese-less option. I say…they would. But nonetheless.  We got to the small shopping center that Brixx was located in…and there was not a parking spot to be found.  Not in the lot and not in the parking deck.  We turned around in the parking deck and went back out, tuned around, and suddenly, there were 4 spots.  GO FIGURE!  We parked…and walked over to Brixx.  I checked in with the hostess station and they said it would be a 20 minute wait.  That meant it would be about 7 pm by the time we were seated…and we still had to order and eat.  UGH. Nothing stresses me out more than eating later than I like on the night before the race.  They took my phone number and said they would text me when my table was ready.  So, Cathy and I took a short walk up the street…and then we went and sat down outside until a spot cleared up in the lobby area inside.  We moved in there…and not but 5 minutes or so later, I was texted.  We were seated just around the corner from the hostess station.

Gratuitous picture of Brixx Wood Fired Gluten Free and Vegan Artichoke Pizza

Gratuitous picture of Brixx Wood Fired Gluten Free and Vegan Artichoke Pizza

And our waiter, BTW, was adorable.  He had the cutest smile with dimples.  He was dark and handsome and tall…for me…maybe not for Cathy.  I wanted to steal him and take him home with me.  Cathy and I had it narrowed down to two of the veggie pizzas…either the Wild Mushroom or the Artichoke.  We asked Hot Waiter for his opinion, and he said Artichoke. So…Brixx Wood Fired Gluten Free and Vegan Artichoke Pizza….order in.

About 15 minutes or so later…the pizza was arriving.  There was enough time to snap a picture of it before we both just sort of pounced our our half and devoured.  I mean, we were starving at that point.  The combination of the herb-marinated artichiokes, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, basil pesto and the vegan cheese was just what we needed. Our waiter was right…it was amazing.  And gone in record time.  HA!  We paid and left…dropped by a Kroger for post-race watermelon, pre-race bananas, and some water.  Then, we finally went to the hotel to check in and settle in for the night.  Normally, this is where we settle in and watch Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network, but this hotel didn’t get Food Network.  In the end, we ended up watching Say Yes to the Dress…which is as addictive as ever…and we stayed up way past the usual pre-race bedtime.

I had alarms set as usual.  The first alarm went off at 3:30 am.  I got up and turned it off…went to take my medicine and use that bathroom.  Then climbed right back into bed.  The second alarm went off at 4:45 am.  I hauled myself out of bed, turned it off again, and went to go get changed into my race clothes and slather on some sunscreen.  Buy the time I was finished with that, I was making sure Cathy was getting out of her bed and getting herself ready to hit the road to get parked and to the start.  This race starts at 7:00 am.  Love an early start.

Oh…but guess what…that rain that was supposed to be out before start…was here.  Pouring down rain.  UGH.  No wonder my hip was acting up that morning.  I hadn’t bothered to look outside.  At that point it was still dark.  But, Cathy did look outside and grumbled about wet and rain and my spirits fell.  I know some people don’t mind running in the rain, but I become a much more cautious runner when that pavement is wet.  Last thing I want to do is slip and go down.  Also, I don’t mind if it starts to rain on me when I’m out there, I just really hate starting a race in the rain.  But, you can’t help what Mother Nature throws at you.  Another rainy run.  Um…yay?  I think I had done my share of them leading up to this race.  Regardless, I put the visor on and got my race bib pinned on.  I threw on a jacket and we were out the door…banana in hand…fuel belt slung over my shoulder.  Made a quick dash across the parking lot to the car and we were making the short 15-20 minute drive to the school to park the car and then hike…about a mile…to the start line.  We were actually ahead of schedule on departing the hotel, so, I attempted to nap on the way…but that wasn’t working out.  The trip was rainy and pouring and it just made my spirits fall and my hip hurt.  MEH!  Cathy parked, and we had about 30 minutes to start time.  This left me a few minutes to once again attempt to nap.  Still wasn’t happening.  Instead, we looked around at everyone else sitting in their cars, hoping the rain would lighten up.  It did…right as we needed to get of the car to make the hike to the start.

Me attempting, and failing, to nap before the race...and also avoiding getting out in the rain...

Me attempting, and failing, to nap before the race…and also avoiding getting out in the rain…

We were not alone.  There were steams of runners and spectators making the long walk toward the start line staging area.  I have made this exact hike every year that I have run Geist…even the 5K.  They were not doing shuttles this year like they have in the past.  Thankfully, the air was just a little damp with a mist…the rain had let up.  We got to the start with very little time to spare.  There was time for a start line picture, a hug, good luck wishes, and Cathy was off to find a spot just beyond the start gate and I was in the corrals, moving as far forward as I could manage.  I ended up getting locked in in Corral B…near the 1:55 pace group.  No sooner had I got locked into that spot, the race was off…and we were running.  No time to stretch or do any of my dynamic warm-ups.  That…was it.

So, I crossed the finish line, scanning the line of people for Cathy.  Due to the weather, the sign was not with her, but I saw her, gave a wave, and continued into the first mile.  This is the first time we run across the reservoir.  There is a bit of an incline leading into the turn to hit the first mile, and a teenager said to his buddy, “This hill is going to kill me!”  And then said, “There was one year they sent us up a hill to finish.”  I pointed and said, “Yeah…2014.  It was 2014.”  See, they will never live that down.  Never ever. I made the turn after Mile 1 and started in through the neighborhood tour.  This is a short tour, and due to the wet weather, there weren’t too many people out on the driveways to cheer like in past years.  That was kind of a bummer.  I love having some crowd support.  Ah well…it is what it is.  These neighborhoods boast gorgeous homes and, when the weather is better, families that come out and cheer on the runners that invade their neighborhoods.

Before Mile 3, you are back out on a main road and heading across the reservoir once again.  Just beyond the reservoir was the turnaround for the 10K.  This is also where the race used to end back when I was doing the 5K.  I did it twice, and this was the final turn toward the finish back then.  So, that sort of made me smile as I ran past.  I cheered on the 10K runners who were booking it back to the start to hopefully win the race.  Exciting stuff.  And then, the half marathoners were on their own.

This portion of the race is a combination of commercial and residential…and just gorgeous scenery.  There are businesses…and more gorgeous neighborhoods, and people standing on the corners just to cheer people on.  The race volunteers were positioned throughout the various points, so there was always a voice at some point calling out to you.  I was exchanging spots with a guy wearing a Boston 2015 shirt…he would lead, then I would, then he would…this went on for the entire rest of the race.  And after a climb, I had a runner catch up wearing a Marathon Maniac singlet.  I called out, “HEY MANIAC!”  He wasn’t too talkative with me though.  He was with this nice older man who told me he had a beer riding on this race.  He was running here and a friend of his was running in Colorado.  HA!  So, I made some friends along the route this time around.  It was nice, especially when they were talkative, because it took my mind off of the hip…which was still not feeling this run one bit.

I do want to give a shout-out to the guy who was just beyond Mile 9.  There was a steep hill ahead, and he was at the base, calling out every race bib number and telling that runner that they were doing great, looking great, and that there were less than 4 miles left.  Seriously, he was amazing.  What he was doing was something every runner needs, especially when the struggle is getting real.

Just before Mile 10, we make a turn out of the neighborhoods and are back on familiar turf.  We are back near that old finish line area…right where we cross the reservoir.  Mile 10 was just beyond where the turn around for the 10K was marked.  I pressed on, the humidity from the rain and weather starting to really exhaust me.  Turn a corner, and now we’re running the opposite way through that first neighborhood.  There were some rolling hills through this, so we were hitting them again, just backwards.  My legs were pretty much done with hills.  They were slowing me down more than they should have, which only pissed me off.  But now the hip wasn’t wanting to fire, so you just do what you can manage at that point.  Mile 12 was at the corner before you round for that final trek toward the reservoir again.

Me crossing the finish line of the Geist Half Marathon - Fishers, IN

Me crossing the finish line of the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN

I picked it up because I saw a female ahead of me, and I was now playing games to get myself to that finish line.  I passed her, and that was a good feeling.  I told myself to keep going, and not let her sneak up and catch me.  She never did.  I could finally see the finish line…which was such an uplifting feeling.  I tried to put on the afterburners to sprint in like so many people can…but it wasn’t happening.  I just pushed as hard and moved as fast as my legs could manage at that point…and ran across that finish line.  I could hear Cathy screaming at me.  When I crossed, I received my medal and felt this wave of emotion wash over me.  This race was an important one to me, and I had some expectations…some desires…and, sadly, the race wasn’t the way I envisioned or imagined it would go.  That being said, after receiving my medal, I had one of the guys who had talked with me come over and high five me.  Cathy came over and as I was about to take my victory shot, the guy in the Boston shirt came over and high fived me as well and said said that I kept him on an amazing pace for the race.  That was a nice feeling.

Cathy took the picture and I changed into different shoes.  I keep forgetting to pack extra socks again.  D’oh!  After the shoe change, we decided to hike over to the runner recovery area and see what was there.  We were in search of the massage tent, and we found it.  YAY!  But, after standing in line for 10 minutes, we were told that we needed to fill out a form.  So, a bunch of us runners went to fill out the paperwork and get back into line.  It was another 50 minutes before they even got to me.  At this point, I was cold and had Cathy pull my jacket back out.  But, the wait for the massage was worth it.  This massage was very thorough and felt amazing on my achy body.  Amy was my massage therapist and she did a great job.  While I was getting worked on, Cathy went to get my official race results…and after that…I called my mom and spoke with her on the long walk back to the car.  The long, cold, walk back to the car.

After that, it was just a short drive back to the hotel, where I hopped into a hot shower and warmed up and cleaned up.  I changed clothes, checked out, and we were off to grab food and then coffee.  Then…the trip home.

So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:42:13, which was faster than my NYC Half Marathon, but slower than Derby and Indy.  I was a little bummed out with my time here, but I had a lot to contend with going into this and during this race.  That being said, I was 103/1601 finishers overall!  Almost in the top 100…how about that??!  I was the 20/557 women to cross the finish line.  And I was 6/185 people in the 30-39 female division!  Can’t argue with those status right?!

Please don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of my accomplishment and this finish.  I think that it’s hard, when you return to your PR race, to not be a little disappointed when a new PR doesn’t happen.  I was so close when I ran the 500 Festival a few weekends ago…so I had some hopes that this race would get me a PR that I’m searching for this year.  It wasn’t meant to be…and that’s okay.  It will happen.  I don’t know when or where…but it is bound to happen.  I just have to keep running safe and strong.  It was just not meant to be this year.  But…this is still my favorite half marathon.  It’s beautiful and challenging and just…fun.  And this year, I got to talk to and meet some of the people running it with me.  Those are special friendships forged during the grind.

Will I be back? Of course.  The race is one of the best…and that’s why I keep coming back.  Hopefully next year, the circumstances will be better.

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon – Louisville, KY (April 30, 2016)

Me running toward the finish line of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (in the rain, but still smiling) - Louisville, KY

Me running toward the finish line of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (in the rain, but still smiling) – Louisville, KY

Race: Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: April 30, 2016

Time: 1:41:18

You know…the week and morning I had leading into the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon was one that pointed to not running it at all.  On Monday morning, I had an unexpected Great Cat Chase with my neighbors cat, which I was catsitting while they were at the beach.  I love this cat, but that morning I was running late to my spin class and she slipped outside and just took off.  I ended up having to wake my roommate up to find her while I went to spin.  Since she is not my cat, I felt horrible not having her back inside while I wasn’t home.  She behaved the rest of the week though and we had good purr sessions.  Tuesday…my coffeemaker died.  MY COFFEEMAKER DIED!!  Do you know what that means??!!  It meant that I had NO caffeine fix that morning.  And after hitting up the gym, I begged my roommate for some Starbucks.  She came through, with a tall sugar free cafe misto with coconut milk for me.  She saved the day.  Then…on Thursday…my Garmin died. I woke up to it having a blank screen and not turning on.  I went on my 4 mile run sans-Garmin running watch.  I was feeling pretty hated by technology at that point.  One of the race ambassadors, and a friend of mine, Melissa, said that she had purchased an extra Garmin watch and that I could have it if I wanted it.  OMG…that was the sweetest thing anyone has done for me.

Anyway…that was leading up to race day.  I went to the race expo on Thursday night, and one of the first people I see is sweet Melissa.  I gave her a hug and we lamented about the weather. I joked about carrying shampoo and body wash with me so as I head into the finish, I could just lather up, wash down, and look and smell immaculate at the finish.  After chatting and wishing each other luck, I went over to the table to pick up my race packet.

The infamous receiving the race bib shot at the expo. We were going to pose, but Cathy took the picture already!

Picking up my race bib from the nice volunteers at the expo!  This was supposed to be posed, but Cathy snapped it candid.

This was funny…kinda.  I listed off my bib number (937A) to the lady at the table.  She asked for my ID…which I had to fish out.  Cathy was poised with her camera to take a picture, which the nice volunteer noticed.  So she had a plan to pose and everything, but before we could carry out the plan, Ninja Cathy already snapped the photo.  The lady asked if she was ready to take the shot and Cathy said, “I already did.” We all laughed a little.  I happily took my bib and the big plastic bag of stuff (including a full box of Cold-Eez) and went to retrieve the garishly bright yellow race shirt.  I love bright shirts.  What I don’t love on this shirt is the actual design.  I loved the map route on the medal this year, but it didn’t transfer well over to the screen print on the shirt.  Ah well.  It’s another race/running shirt to add to my already full closet.  I’ll take it.  After that, we walked through the various booths at the expo.  I was on the hunt for a Garmin at this point…but no one had any.  I did purchase some new Bondi Bands (YAY!) and got to see my friend Daniel working at one of the booths.  He was handing out free magnet things and I went to get one and he said, “Except for you…you have to pay for yours.”  I love my friends.  I also ran into my physical therapist, Katie, who was working an Alter-G treadmill.  AH.  I want to get on one of these SO bad.  Needless to say, she messaged me after the race on Saturday morning and said I should come into the office and try it out.  I’m SO taking her up on that.  We wrapped up the expo and headed home for a late dinner and to settle in before the craziness of Friday at the office.

My Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May's Sweet Cafe! Yes...it was as delicious as it looks.

My delicious Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe

Friday night is the night before the race…so I pulled a Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe out of my freezer.  I don’t risk anything the night before a race.  I knew I’d be fine eating this.  And it was delicious and amazing.  I rested that night, foam rolled, and went to bed around 9:30 p.m.  I set an early alarm to get up and do all my PT exercises, my dynamic warm-up and to get an early start on my mileage.

I was scheduled for 16 miles this weekend.  Which was one reason I signed up for the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon.  Why not run 13 miles with people and get a medal at the end of it, right?  That being said, I went out that morning before the race and ran a slow, steady 3 miles.  I came back home, ate my breakfast and got dressed into some (unflattering) running shorts, a light singlet, and my compression sleeves and running socks (I went with the Injinji toe socks to help prevent any blistering should rain kick in as scheduled).  I had debated wearing my favorite running shoes (my Newton Distance III) and opted to wear my Nike Free RN Distance shoes, which I have never worn over a 10K mileage, but I’d rather let rain destroy those than my Newtons.  So…I figured this would be interesting regardless.  That being said and done, I brushed my teeth gathered up my change of clothes for afterwards, got all the running gear out and ready to go…and headed out the door.

This is me, trying not to stress as I hook on my hydration belt and get ready to book it to the start line since I was running VERY late to this race.

This is what a runner who is running late to a race looks like. I’m trying to walk and snap on my hydration belt.

No joke, my roommate and I were down the road at a stoplight and I went…”I forgot to put on my wings anklet my mom gave me.”  So…this is a thing now.  Ever since I’ve returned to running, when I race, this anklet has been around my ankle.  My mom got it for me because she said, “You don’t run, baby, you fly.”  So, when I was finally able to get back out there to run and race…this anklet has been kept on my ankle.  I feel like it’s carrying my mom’s words with me on each run.  So, yeah…we turned around and I dashed back inside and grabbed the anklet.  Back off we went…and I clasped the anklet on and felt better about life.  We got back down the road to the stop light and Cathy started cussing and went to turn around.  I was like, “WHAT??!”  And she said, “We forgot the most important thing for today…”  I was so confused.  “What?”  She said…”YOUR RACE BIB.”  Oh…my…God.  I felt like such a newbie, LOL!!  We turned around and went back to the apartment.  I was now a mess because we were running way late, still had to cross the bridge, still had to park, and had to get to the corrals for the start.  I was supposed to meet up with my dear friend, Deana, to run with her, so I was texting her and telling her I had to go back to my apartment a few times and was just NOW getting underway.  UGH.  I was planning on napping on the way to the race, but it was now 7 a.m., 30 minutes before the start, and I now had to eat my banana.  I was a mess now…feeling very stressed and rushed.  I do NOT like getting to a race in this state.  The parking garage Cathy wanted to park in was not accessible as they had closed the road getting to it.  So, now we’re driving in circles looking for a place to park.  She finally found a place…and paid only $5 to park there.  We were shocked the price was so cheap!  We got parked…and she grabbed the poncho I loaned her (it’s my super nice lined one from the NYC Marathon) and we headed down the stairs to the start.  I tossed my banana peel and started to walk swiftly toward the start line.  I got there with only moments to spare.  No joke.  We took a quick picture in front of the start line, I shed the poncho (it wasn’t raining yet) and ducked into my corral.  I was so stressed and upset that I wasn’t going to be able to find Deana…and just as I found a place to stand…the gun went off…and we were off and running.

The morning was humid, but I felt good as I crossed the start line.  I saw Cathy and gave a wave as I headed out for the first mile.  I was determined to just keep it comfortable because I wasn’t here to race this half marathon.  I was here just to run it.  I fell into pace and headed down the long stretch of Main Street.  It was crowded but I didn’t have to do too much bobbing and weaving, which is always appreciated.  I felt good and blasted through the first 2 miles, making an easy turn onto 20th street.  The pace remained relaxed for me, and I felt like I was pushing a little, but not hard, which I figured was fine for a girl who already ran 3 miles before the race.  The course was a little less populated by spectators due to the impending weather.  It was nice to have the scattered people out clapping and cheering though.  At least this is a beautiful city to run, right?

Me heading out for the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon - Louisville, KY

Me heading out for the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon – Louisville, KY

I ran the full  marathon back in 2014, pacing a friend of mine, and somehow forgot about much of this course.  For some reason, I thought we ran through Churchill Downs around mile 6, so I was really looking forward to that.  At Mile 6, I was heading down Magnolia Avenue and turning back onto 4th street. Churchill Downs was nowhere in sight.  I was so confused!!  But, I just kept going.  I knew my running buddy, Tammy, said she was going to be out near Churchill Downs, so I kept an eye out for her…because I was certain it was coming up.  Two miles later, I saw Tammy and made the turn to run into Churchill Downs.  8 miles down and now was one of my favorite parts of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini Marathon…the lap through Churchill Downs.  Down the tunnel and back up…and then it was time to run around the infield.  Normally horses are out, but the weather was gearing up to start raining and none of the horses were out running or training.  So, that was a bit of a bummer.  Ah well…then…back out through a different tunnel…up…and out of Churchill Downs.  Just up the way is the infamous split.  Mini Marathon runners go left…and Marathon runners go right (and start making their way to the hills of Iroquois Park).  I turned left this time…heading into the last 5 miles of the Mini Marathon.  9 miles down…and soon…came the rain.

I had been silently cussing the fact that I wore a hat (I hate wearing hats when I race) and my Nikes instead of my Newtons…until this point.  The rain, at first, was a light drizzle.  It actually felt good.  It was around Mile 10 when my friend Dan came up beside me and said “Hi” to me.  I asked how he was doing, and he said he was starting to hurt (he ran Boston), and I wished him luck as he pulled up ahead.  With the new front of weather, the hip started to get tight and I was feeling it now.  The rain picked up a little more as I made it to the 11th mile marker.  Two more to go.  That was my mantra.  Just two more to go.  The stretch of 3rd Street was lined with few spectators…up until we hit the downtown area.  Around Mile 12…the crowds picked up.  People were shouting encouragement.  And I made the turn onto Market Street.  I could hear the announcer at the finish line, so I knew I was getting close.  But that small stretch before making the turn toward the finish line felt like it went on forever.  But I finally made the turn and pushed it as much as my tired legs could manage to hit that finish line.  I saw Cathy just before crossing and she was just screaming.  I heard my name get announced and I threw up my arms in victory and was all smiles at the end.  My friend Daniel, who headed up the training program I went out with every Saturday, was there and he came over to high five me.  That was the best part of the finish, right there.  That high five meant the world to me.

I kept moving through the chute, got my Mylar wrap and my medal.  And then I continued on for some water. I got an official finish picture taken and then continued on toward the Family Reunion Area…where I spotted Cathy on the edge of the fence-line…just waiting for me.  I came up to her and she gave me my official time.  I took 2 minutes (somehow) off my NYC Half Marathon Time and actually turned in my 4th fastest half marathon.  I was shocked.  I passed off the snacks I snagged on the way to the meeting point and did a few leg swings to help loosen up the hip some.  After that, I was ready to get out of my wet clothes, get some coffee, and grab some actual food.  So we left and did just that.

16.17 miles done that day!!  And 13.1 of them were done in racing conditions.  I never really felt like I was racing though, which speaks highly of my fitness levels.  Given that I had to take a forced year off, this makes me feel really good as I come back from this hip thing.

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon...DONE! I was soaked...but so happy with the way things turned out.

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon…DONE! – Louisville, KY

So, the official results of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon are that I finished in 1:41:18.  I was 468/10,422 finishers overall.  I was 95/6,209 female finishers.  And I was 20/972 finishers in my division.  I started this race under stress and a feeling more than a little flustered.  I didn’t get to meet up with Deana as planned, but she and I texted pretty much most of the afternoon after she finished.  We’re already making plans to train together for something bigger and better…and I couldn’t be more excited about this.  My pace slowed at the end of this run, I think due to the weather and the fact that I ran ahead of the race.  Next time, I’ll just count the race as my run.  Regardless, this was my 17th half marathon I’ve run and my 4th fastest.  Which…is super exciting given the challenges I have faced the past year.  I am starting to not only regain confidence, but an easy, fast pace while racing too!  I sort of needed this finish.  I only wish I had felt stronger at the end of it.

I want to thank everyone who I met through the Norton Training Group (those who were race ambassadors, helping to run the group, and the runners themselves)!!  I have some new running and, hopefully, lifelong friends who went through a rigorous training regimen and ran hills and did speed work and gave up their Saturday mornings just to train hard for this day.  To everyone who finished…and to those who couldn’t…I am proud of all of you and am so happy to have met you.

I can’t wait to run with you more.