Spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials (February 29, 2020) – Atlanta, GA

IMG_1545Sorry that this is over two months overdue in posting. My lack of motivation to sit at my computer at home…after working at home for 8 hours…is more than lacking these days. But I’m very behind on these blogs…so I need to start cracking on them.  Since then, the Olympics in Tokyo are postponed until 2021.  What crazy times we are living in.  I hope everyone is staying safe.

Back in April 2019, when USATF announced that the Olympic Marathon Trials were going to be held in Atlanta, Ga., I knew…RIGHT THEN…that I wanted to go and spectate.  I wanted to be on the course where it all happened.  Six people – 3 men and 3 women – would cross a finish line and achieve the dream of becoming an Olympian.

I had to go.

So, my roommate and I went ahead and booked a hotel room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta.  Then we bought some non-stop flights to and from Atlanta from Louisville.  And then, because, why the hell not?…we each signed up for a race on the day following the Olympic Marathon Trials (Cathy did the Atlanta 5K and I did the Atlanta Half Marathon), since we’d be there.IMG_1547

And somewhere between when all that happened…my left hip started giving me problems again. I took most of February off from running or any real distance, and definitely not workouts.  I went back to my orthopedic doctor for X-rays…where I was told there was nothing structural happening.  I went back to physical therapy, where my physical therapist worked to help get me back on the road, even though it seemed where the pain was changed each day.  And she even could work with my coach as he is also a physical therapist (same company, different location)…and together they eased me back out onto the road, with only a few days with setbacks.

To say I felt 100% when I started packing for my quick trip to Atlanta at the end of March is a huge understatement.  I was questioning whether to drop to the 5K or just not do it at all. Since I was able to run, perhaps not fast or strong, I decided that I could fake my way through a race.  It would be rough and hard and probably would suck a lot more than usual, but I could do it.  So, after our friend Melissa dropped us off at the airport on a Friday morning, we boarded our flight to Atlanta and touched down without any delays or problems.  WINNING!

IMG_1551After a quick MARTA ride to get to our hotel, we checked in, dropped off stuff in our room, and took a moment to admire the fact that we could see Centennial Park from our window. How awesome!!

Then, we gathered our stuff and took a nice stroll past the park and the Olympic Marathon Trials finish line, to hit up the expo to pick up our own race stuff and see what kind of merchandise was around.

The answer…not much.  At least not at this point.  I managed to snag a Marathon Trials t-shirt for myself and my friend Natalie.  And I got a couple of pins to commemorate the event. But there was little else left.  Guess it got decimated on Thursday or earlier in the day on Friday.IMG_1564

Oh well.  The expo was much smaller than I anticipated.  For real.  And we breezed through it faster than the time we budgeted for it.  So, after we were done there, we hiked back to the hotel to drop off stuff, take a breather, and then figure out what we wanted to do next.  We ended up hiking around the Dragon*Con hotels just to kill time.  We snagged some water (we hit up CVS so many times for water on this trip) and a snack.  And then we had to figure out what we wanted to do for dinner.  The easiest option was the food court…but I needed to figure out where and what would be safe for me.  And one of our top options would have meant eating dinner around 3:30 or 4 pm, which was WAY too early for me.

IMG_1569Lots of google and Find Me Gluten Free searching guided me toward a place called BÊP Vietnamese Cuisine.  Cathy opted to go find something with meat and gluten in it for herself (since when we are eating out and on vacation, she can do this!), and ended up at Beni’s Cubano and opted for the Milagro Sandwich with Maduros (Sweet Plantains).  So, while she was hitting them up, I went up to get Curry Tofu Rice Bowl from BÊP…except they were all out of tofu as they had to cater a large party earlier.  BOO!  So, I ended up doing the Vegetarian Phở with the Gluten Free Vegetarian Spring Rolls.  It wasn’t my first choice…but, hey…it wasn’t a bad option to end up with. And, honestly, I just wanted the spring rolls, so that made me happy enough (but 2 spring rolls don’t make a meal).

We ate in the food court before heading back to the room for the rest of the night, enjoying some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network while we wound down and prepared for the following morning, which would involve having to find a good spot in which to view the trials.  And, man, did we have some options to think about.IMG_1582

We woke up the following morning with a mission.  Kara Goucher was leading a 3 mile shakeout run around Centennial Park.  I wasn’t running.  This was a rest day, and regardless, I was really hoping to give my hip an extra day off before the half marathon on Sunday morning.  Cathy safely tucked my 2015 Boston Marathon bib into her bag and we headed down toward the park.  We ended up making an entire lap before converging on the crowd by the Olympic rings.  And there, in the middle of it all, was Kara Goucher.  Kara Goucher was one of the first female runners that I took notice of.  Her book was one of the first ones I ever read (and applied a lot of it to shorter distances as I was not running marathons yet).  It was chaotic in that throng of people, but I somehow managed to get up to her, tell her something about Minnesota girls (I was born in Minnesota, remember?) and got my bib signed! YAY!  It wasn’t the way I envisioned talking to her or meeting her…but it happened, guys!!  We also made one last stop in at the expo…and glad we did because we both ended up getting some hoodies that had Atlanta to Tokyo on it (at that point, obviously, the Olympics were still happening in summer 2020).  The smallest size I could find was a large, but I figured I could just wear it around the apartment.

IMG_1592After that, we headed back to the hotel to grab a big breakfast (as this would be what would hold us through to after the marathon trials AND…a live Ali on the Run Podcast that I got free tickets to attend).  It was going to be a long day…but thankfully, we had snacks.

The breakfast at the hotel was mostly buffet.  And for someone like me with food allergies…that just doesn’t work well.  BUT, our waiter was kind enough to put in an order for me with the kitchen so everything would be safe for me to eat.  I got an egg white vegetable omelette with a bowl of fruit.  Cathy was able to go pick and choose what she wanted and was excited that there was a mini chicken and waffles option out there (it might have been on the kids table, but she loved it).  We ate.  We drank a lot of coffee.  We went back up to the room to prepare ourselves for all the intense wind, cold weather, and the fun of spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials.IMG_1602

I. COULD. NOT. WAIT.

Originally, we had planned on going right to a spot where we could see the athlete 6 times on the looped course.  But after we got down there, we decided that we really, really wanted to see the start of both the men’s and the women’s race.  Then we could go up to about Mile 8 and see the men twice and the women once, and then hopefully get back to the finish line area to see who would make the team from a decent enough s
It felt like the right plan for us.  So…we scouted out a spot for the start of the race.  It was VERY windy!  In case you hadn’t heard.  I felt bad for the athletes because when you’re in a metro downtown like that, there is no wind breaks.  There are only wind tunnels.  And that wind will hit you in all directions!  We were right near where the athletes would be walking out.  Shalane Flanagan passed us.  She, obviously, wasn’t competing, but there was no mistaking her in that Bowerman Track Club gear.

IMG_1654And…I got to hug and wish good luck to Ashley Paulson, who I know from Instagram.  She ended up coming in 44th in the women’s race.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!  Anyway, that was super fun.  Cathy gave the woman standing next to me her ear warmer because she had tried three times to find somewhere she could buy a hat and couldn’t find one anywhere.  One good deed…

The winds were whipping around 20+mph.  And it was COLD!!  Man, was it cold.  But the sun was out…and the athletes were lining up at the start line.  The men would go off first.  Then the women.  And who was sending each group off?  Meb Keflezighi!IMG_1636

He counted down the men’s race…and they were off.  As the group ran past, we cheered really loud and started pointing out the people we recognized.  It was exciting.  What a rush.  And 20 minutes later…with one almost false start…Meb sent the women off.  Now that…THAT was insane.   It was just flood of women, running down the road.  I spotted a few people I recognized.  I screamed really loud.  And we even saw the ones at the back who were starting, but dropping out due to injury, pregnancy, or whatever.  It was inspiring, regardless.

From there, we hopped over to a spot on the rail near the 8 mile mark.  This was at one of the turns on the course, so we would definitely get the chance to see everyone as they went past.  We would be here for a while, able to see the men twice and the women once, if we wanted to try to get to the finish line area.

IMG_1682We took this opportunity to snag a snack.  I brought oranges.  LOL!  Hey, I’m like Dustin in Stranger Things…so I always bring snacks with me everywhere.  I had no idea how long it would be before we’d get to eat.  We polished off our oranges (I brought Sumo’s…only the best for this occasion) and were settled in, wincing against the wind, and making friends with the people around us…as you do.

The guy who was on my left was spectating his daughter, who qualified at CIM with a squeaker time, just hitting it with maybe a second to spare.  The pride and excitement in his voice was just…awesome.  And then…we saw the pace car come down the hill and toward the turn.  Behind it…the wave of men.  And, there were two people out front that I didn’t recognize.  But then in the chase pack (just steps behind them) were all the big names and the like.  And I tried to shout out to as many as I could.IMG_1736

There were smaller waves behind them…and then it quieted down as we all awaited the arrival of the women.  And that was a wave that was just as amazing as the start.  And the crowd.  Wow…it was loud.  And you could just feel this electricity as the women continued to make the turn and head back up the hill into Mile 8.  It was insane and I loved being a part of the noise and seeing these woman lay it all out there on the challenging course.  Seriously…inspiring.  Not that I’ll ever get the chance to run the Olympic Trials…but man…I felt like I was part of something big…just by being there.

IMG_1796We waited around for the men to make their second loop and, by the time they came back around, there were more familiar faces at the front of the pack.  Mainly…Galen Rupp.  No shocker there.  And, apparently, that’s where he would stay.  But…it would be those remaining two spots that would be the surprises for us spectators.

Not wanting to miss any of the final finishes…because, honestly, I wanted to be at that finish line when the runners who would be representing the country crossed, we left to head back to the finish line area.  The general public could only get so close, but luckily we found a spot of the rail, next to a man who was cheering for his daughter (this was a theme, LOL), named Val Curtis.  So, he was tracking her and I was trying to catch bits of conversation about where some of the favorites out on the course were.IMG_2025

And you could tell when the finish was getting close because people who were able to get into the grassy parts of the park near the finish started climbing into the trees.  No joke.  Cathy even said, “Looks like the spectators are in full bloom.”  It made me laugh.  A lot.  Security, however, did make them all eventually get down, but that was just a testament to how big of a deal this was to the people in Atlanta to spectate.

IMG_2038I will never forget that feeling when I saw the lead vehicle come down over the hill and veer off as Galen Rupp came surging past.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Galen Rupp fan.  I don’t like him.  But he was going to go represent the United States at the Olympics, turning in an amazing time on what was a VERY challenging course.  The second and third place for the men came in over a minute behind Galen.  It felt like a HUGE gap of time, honestly.  But that battle for second and third was SPECTACULAR!!  No lie.  It came down to just one second that put Jacob Riley in second and Abdi Abdirahman in third.  Our alternate for the men…Leonard Korir…just seconds behind Abdi.  What a finish!!IMG_2105

We saw more men come streaming in.  A few were bloodied, which left us really confused until I started listening to podcasts after the fact and finding out that people fell down on the course, were almost trampled, and the like.  How scary is that.  To rally and get back up and finish…that’s gutsy.  I respect the hell out of it.  I saw Jared Ward finish, but he was way out of contention for a spot.  He was definitely a favorite going in.

IMG_2109Eventually, the volunteers began to route the men down a different path to finish, which could only mean one thing…the women were coming!  I had no idea who was leading at this point.  I was up on my tiptoes, leaning on the rail, just waiting to see the first woman blaze by.  It felt like forever, but then…graceful, swift, and steady…the first woman flew past.  It was Aliphine Tuliamuk…which wasn’t out of the conversation to make the team, but she was leading the way.  I was here for it!  Just behind her was Molly Seidel, who qualified using a half marathon time and this was her first marathon.  This also meant that she started behind the A standard qualifiers.  And there she was…carrying that flag all the way to the finish line.  And just over a minute behind her…our third woman came in…Sally Kipyego, who I had just heard an interview with on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, “I’ll Have Another.”  Both Aliphine and Sally had recently become citizens of the United States and here they were now…heading to the Olympics to represent the country.  Amazing.IMG_2118

Des Linden came in fourth, now officially becoming the alternate and missing out on the Olympic Team by 30 seconds.  Stephanie Bruce wasn’t too far behind, coming in 6th.

We stayed at the finish line, because now we felt like we needed to see Val Curtis come in.  We were basically adopted members of the Curtis cheer team.  In the process, I saw Jordan Hasay come by, finishing 26th, and considering she came in with the fastest time…that was a shock. Ashley Paulson finish 44th overall for the women!  That was super exciting.  She’s just so genuine and amazing.

IMG_2119I noted some names that weren’t coming in…Sarah Hall, Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson.

It was weird.

We were getting updates from Val’s father as to where she was on the course, so we knew exactly when to start cheering.  I held a sign for her while he waved a flag and shouted as she blazed past to her finish line.  Cathy snapped photos.  It was pretty exciting to be part of that.  I felt like I knew Val…even though I had just heard of her that day.

After a long day of spectating, we were heading to the Generation UCAN live podcast with Ali Feller and Carrie Tollefson and Meb Keflezighi.  We figured we would grab dinner afterwards…which in hindsight wasn’t our best plan…but we had a podcast to get to.  I am so glad we did.  A surprise to me was when Dathan Ritzenhein went up and talked for a brief moment.  If you know me, you know how he is one of my favorite male runners.  Hip issues caused him to drop out of the trials, but he listened to his body and did what he needed to do.IMG_2158

After he spoke, he left and I grabbed my 2015 Boston Marathon bib and went to see if I could catch him for an autograph.  He very graciously signed it for me…and I was able to tell him a little bit about my devastating race that morning…due to hip issues.  He listened and said that he hopes my next time running Boston (2021 with any luck), would be a much better experience.

IMG_2180The live podcast was a lot of fun, and very emotional.  We laughed.  We cried.  We had a good time.  I wanted to meet Ali after the show, but there was a rush of people, and we had to go find some food, as both Cathy and I were racing the following morning.  The problem is…so many things in big cities close early…and we really didn’t have many options.  We ended up ordering in room service at the hotel, and they took very good care of me with my food allergies.  So, we were definitely eating dinner at 8 pm, watching Guy’s Grocery Games, and trying not to fret too much over the hour and the fact that we had to be up early to get ready to get to our own start lines.  I ended up with a delicious quinoa dish.

As for me…my leg wasn’t feeling 100% despite weeks of physical therapy…but I was going to see what I could do on these Atlanta hills.  But that’s another blog.

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Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben – Indianapolis, IN (October 5, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben – Indianapolis, IN

Race: Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

Place: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: October 5, 2019

Time: 1:39:13

Friends…I am 21 SECONDS away from matching my half marathon PR (which I set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014).  That’s…that’s ONE HILL.  Do you know how thrilled I am to see this time?  To know that I’m 22 seconds away from a new PR (hey, a 1 second PR is still a PR)?!  I am ecstatic!!

And shocked.  This is my second fastest half marathon to date.  It’s been over 3 years since I even came close to my PR.

This is HUGE!

I apologize right now for all the bold, italics, caps lock, and exclamation point abuse!

Let’s take the deep dive into this race, shall we?

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Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

This story starts…on Friday.  Friday’s are complete rest days for me.  I hadn’t been sleeping well this past week, which sucked, but my sleep was a bit better Thursday night into Friday morning.  Not great…but better.  I got up, showered, finished packing, and started to prep my overnight oats (I’ve been eating these prior to long runs all summer, so why stop now?) to take with me to Indianapolis for race morning.  I put those in the fridge, finished getting ready for work, and went into the office for 6 hours.  Arrangements had been made to leave at 2:30 pm, head to Dragon King’s Daughter (because my magic sushi had to happen prior to a race for sure and I had a cooler in the car to keep it through the drive), and hit the road.  We were about 30 minutes away when I realized I had left my prepped overnight oats in the fridge at work.  UGH!  So, Cathy and I said we’d find a grocery store to find something comparable when we got to Indy.

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Packet Pick-Up

The drive was uneventful.  We listened to Meb Keflezighi on the Ali on the Run podcast for most of the drive.  Great listen, by the way.  It’s part of the “You Can Run a Marathon” series that she put together.  It was a funny, inspiring listen and it got us pretty much all the way into the greater Indianapolis area.  We rolled into our hotel, checked in, dropped stuff…I put sushi into the fridge in the room…and we headed out to hit up the race expo.

The expo itself was small (probably good from a financial standpoint), but very well organized.  Finding packet pickup was easy and I quickly was able to retrieve both my packet (bib and quarter zip) and my friend Kelly’s (she couldn’t get off work early and was going to drive up in the morning) packet for the half marathon.  Cathy went and got her 5K packet before we stepped into the small merchandise area.  She bought me a hoodie from the race.  YAY.  And that was all we did.  We left to head to the Fresh Thyme (for some pre-made overnight oats, cashew butter, and waters) and then Noodles & Co. (because Cathy needed a night before the race fuel too), before heading back to the room to eat while watching, what else?, the traditional Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

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“Magic Sushi” from Dragon King’s Daughter – Gluten Free Green Acres & Gluten Free Spicy Tofu Rolls

Cathy went to shower after we polished off our respective dinners, and I got down to stretching and foam rolling.  Lights out was just before 9 pm.  And, my newfound insomnia kicked in again.  WEEEE!  I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and didn’t get much sleep…yet again.  UGH!  That sucked.  I switched off the first alarm I set because I was able to get up and not have to wake up anyone else because…I WAS ALREADY AWAKE.  I got back into bed for another 45 minutes, but no rest was coming.  Apparently I was going to run on fumes.  YAY.

The temperature outside on race morning was a brisk 47 degrees.  This was really the first morning of cold weather any of us were experiencing.  I decided to race in the outfit I wore in the Glass City Marathon, and would likely be wearing again at Monumental.  Arm warmers and everything.  Cathy had a bit more of a dilemma…because 40s are hard to dress for.  Sleeves are good, but sometimes you warm up fast.  Short sleeves might not be enough.  She opted for sleeves.  We ate some breakfast (she brought oatmeal from home), finished getting ready, and then headed out the door to drive up to the giant parking lot prior to the half marathon and 5K.

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Makeshift pre-race breakfast of Brekkie, Julie’s Cashew Butter, and Purely Elizabeth Granola (I brought that form home)

Kelly was there bright and early, so when we parked she made her way to the car while Cathy got out the trash bags she brought for extra warmth.  I handed off the packet and zip to Kelly, who was excited she was actually getting one of the jackets, before she went to drop it in the vehicle.  She was just in shorts and a tank (calling herself a human furnace)…and I was cold just looking at her.  HA!  She returned to the car and the three of us made our way over to the staging area near the start line.  There were some nice fires going, and we tucked in to attempt to stay warm.  Cathy went to drop her bag at Bag Drop, and we were just killing time now.  I did drink my Maurten 160 Drink Mix 30 minutes prior to the start, per the usual.

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Staying warm pre-race around the fires

As the start of the race neared, we did meander over toward the start corrals, where we met up with Elizabeth (another member of the MRTT/SRTT Southern Indiana Chapter), took some pictures, and then wished each other luck.  I was in Corral B, Elizabeth in C, Kelly in D…and Cathy was in the 5K corrals, so she was able to at least take some photos, video, and cheer at the start of the half.

The 1:40 pacers were in my corral and lined up near me.  I was to run this one at MARATHON PACE, so I wasn’t paying any attention to that.  It was a cool, crisp morning, and after the elites and first corral were sent off…we were moved up.  Cathy actually got a nice video of me starting, though she didn’t realize it at the time.  In fact, she was waiting for the corral after that.  Oh well.  That’s what happens sometimes.

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Elizabeth, Me, Kelly, & Cathy

The 1:40 pacers were fantastic, especially Troy, as he gave a lot of helpful advice to those who were running with him as we started out.  And it was a good reminder that we still had a long road ahead.  The first part of the race was a slight downhill…so I let gravity work it’s magic there.  We were off, and I was feeling surprisingly good.

The first two miles of this race were a nice, relaxed, gentle downhill.  My legs were feeling rested and good and they were on the move.  Mile 1 rolled by quickly, and as we hit Mile 2, we were already inside the Fort Harrison State Park.  It was as we headed into Mile 3 that we hit the first monster hill in the race.  It’s funny, when you look at my splits you can see the 2 giant hills that you have to tackle in this run.  But this one was early and my legs were fresh with some bounce.  And I just bounded up it and kept going.

The next few miles were rolling hills and flats.  And they were enough to just sort of keep your legs guessing and feeling good.  The volunteers at the water stops were phenomenal, cheering loudly for the runners as they came through the aid stations, and just being really encouraging.  I was still feeling good as I hit the 10K mark, knowing that I was ahead of my marathon pace, and hearing my mind tell me that if I slowed down, it was okay.  But I wasn’t going to make myself slow down.  We had perfect race conditions and I was rolling.  I took out one of the Maurten 100 Gels (the new one with some caffeine) and managed to take it without slowing down much.  There were no trash cans, so I held onto the wrapper until I spotted one, about a mile later.

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When you accidentally run your second fastest half marathon

We were routed into a little round about of a parking lot, looped and came back out on the other side.  Just after Mile 7, we crossed a grassy path and onto a bike path (the Harrison Trace Trail) for the back half of the run.  While this was a bike path, it never doubled back on itself, so it didn’t feel crowded or cluttered.  In fact, I felt like I had plenty of room to stretch my legs and push myself.

Just after Mile 8, we hit a HUGE downhill.  I love downhills, but I wasn’t expecting the drop that this one had.  Luckily, downhill is my favorite speed and I adjust very well to it.  My footing found itself and I easily rolled back into my pace.  It was just after this point that I removed my gloves and tucked them into my hydration pack.  It was starting to warm up, and every time I thought I could take off the arm warmers, a cold wind would sweep up, and I’d keep them off.

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Finishers: Me with the Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal & Cathy with her 5K Finisher’s Medal (love the leaf!)

After Mile 10, where I took another (non-caffeinated) Maurten Gel 100, we hit the largest hill on the course.  It was one of those that starts up, levels off, then continues to go up.  This was my slowest split of the entire race.  It felt good to get to the top, but now my legs were definitely feeling the fatigue of the speed of the race. Just after Mile 11, we ducked back across that grassy path and onto the road, heading back toward start of the race (also the finish, obviously).

It was at Mile 12 that the 1:40 pace group caught up to me.  And this entire time, in my head, I am reminding myself that I’m not running for a PR…I’m running Marathon Pace.  I knew I was way ahead of that, but I still felt good, despite that late, monster hill.  I ran right with them as Troy told his runners to skip the final water stop and keep rolling.  As we got halfway through the mile, Troy started to talk runners in…take some deep breaths.  He said they were easing back on pace, so as not to blow people out so close to the end (they were just slightly ahead of the time on his back)…and I kept going.  And I picked it up a little as I started to make the final turns to head toward that finish line.  I felt amazing.  And I crossed, still feeling good.  I stopped my Garmin, collected my medal, and then finally pulled the wrist band away from the watch face to look at my time.  And I about died.

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Finish Line Drinks: Cathy had the beer and I had the kombucha

It was my second fastest half marathon since I started running half marathons.  My two top times are on hilly courses.  How about that?  I mean, I hate hills.  Cathy came over and she was all, “YOU KILLED IT!”  And I did.  I killed it DEAD.  And I still felt good (which was also good because I had another 13 miles to run the following day with more speed thrown in).

We decided to go and check out the cookout that the race offered, ducking in.  There wasn’t really anything for me (food allergy queen), but Cathy snagged a piece of Jockamo’s pizza and a cookie.  She went and purchased a beer and got me a local kombucha (which…was delicious!!).  She ate and we went to go walk around, but had to stay in the little (and it was little) picnic area (we weren’t sitting in the tent) with our drinks (even though mine was NOT alcoholic).  So, she chugged her beer and I drank what I could of my kombucha but I was fresh off a fast half marathon and chugging something didn’t sound appetizing…and I was freezing…so I didn’t want to stand there any longer.

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Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with Cajun Dusted Tater Tots from Woody’s Library Restaurant

We made one more pass through the official merchandise…and I was tempted to get the finisher’s shirt with the names on the back (mine was on there)…but ultimately walked away from it.  I was happy with the hoodie that Cathy got me (she had to buy it as it said “Finisher” on it).  We made the drive back to the hotel where I took a shower and dried my hair while she packed up everything.  We headed to Carmel, Indiana (a short drive) to catch lunch at Woody’s Library Restaurant (where I got the Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with a side of the Cajun Dusted Tater Tots).  Then, we headed over to the Indiana State Fair Grounds because…Half Price Books was having a BIG clearance sale, where all books were $2 or less.  Amazing.

We left after a couple of hours and a lot of texting with my dad.  Road work delayed our return to the Louisville area, but we finally made it home.  Still without groceries.  I ended up making popcorn for dinner and then heading to bed.  And not sleeping well again.

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Finish Line feels at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

My experience at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben was amazing.  I can’t wait to run it again next year.  Hopefully more of my friends can join me!!  It was definitely much better running weather than what the large group of over 100 MRTT/SRTT ladies dealt with at the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon had the week before.  Kind of glad I opted for this one.

My official results of the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben are that I finished in 1:39:13, which, as I previously mentioned, was a mere hill, or basically 21 seconds off of my PR time from 2014). This race proved something very important to me…that I can still push the pace for 13.1 miles.  With all the times I have doubted my body, my ability, and mentally let myself check out, I felt strong and capable this entire race…even the two hills that messed up my fast splits. HA!  I was 156/1726 finishers overall. I was 24/851 female finishers. And I was 6/138 in my age division. Guys, my age division is SUPER competitive…always.  This race was no different.  But this rank…is beyond what I thought I could accomplish here.  If you need a fall half marathon on your radar…put the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben on your radar!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #12

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

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

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

So…let’s hit up this week, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: REST DAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should be an interesting week…

Also…8 weeks out!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #4

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornHow can I describe this week?  What word can I use that will basically sum everything up?  Oh…I know…

HOT!

From mornings in the 80s to real feel temps in the triple digits…this week did everything it could to destroy me.  I persevered, but I was wrecked at the end of it.  But, let’s hear it for getting it done.  Even if it wasn’t pretty.  And even if it wasn’t perfect.

(And we all know that I’m a perfectionist because…Virgo…so that’s not easy for me to deal with).

So…how about we dive into the week that wrapped up my first month of training with today (Sunday, July 21, 2019), marking 16 weeks out from the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  So, let’s all settle into ice baths (HA…just kidding…I don’t do ice baths), stay cool, and review the events of this crazy week.

Monday: Every Monday, I pretty much have the same run.  5-7 miles (aiming for 6) and an easy recovery pace.  It was 80 degrees at 3:30 am, so I knew that this wasn’t going to be a day where pace was even pushed.  Once my legs warmed up and woke up, I fell into a natural stride and the easy pace started to finally feel good.  I extended it to the full 7 miles for that reason.  I went ahead and did my additional hip strengtheners during my stretches because I had just enough time to fit it in.  And later that afternoon, I had my personal training session with Corey.  And we had it outside.  Which was super fun because it wasn’t overly humid out.  Basically…a little bit of everything.

Tuesday: Hello, speed work.  One of these days I hope to get to the track and see how I do on a flat track.  But this week…it wasn’t going to work.  Nope.  Not one bit.  The speed work this week was my favorite of the workouts that Daniel assigns: Mona Fartleks.  These are fun and challenging and definitely keep it interesting.  Mona Fartleks work like this: 2 mile warm up; 2×90 seconds, 4×60 seconds, 4×30 seconds, 4×15 seconds (with equal recovery time in between each rep); 2 mile cool down.  I felt like I was moving faster than I apparently was.  I blame the humidity.

Wednesday: It was a recovery day.  A short, easy, deliberate pace for me.  I got up at usual time though because I always try to fit in two days of my additional hip strengtheners, and they take some times.  The shorter run did allow for this.  And I took it easy on the run (somehow did negative splits…I can never do this when I try), and then got in the stretches and additional exercises.  This morning, I also had my 6 year check-up with my dermatologist.  He cleared me for another year, but did say that he wanted me to start running with a hat or do rag covering the top of my head. MEH.  I hate how I look in hats, and my head gets really hot when I cover it with anything.  But, my skin is more important, so I got on Amazon and placed an order from Buff, for both a hat and buff to use on my head.  I had my second day of personal training with Corey this afternoon too.  He had some serious fresh hell exercises ready for me.

Thursday: Welcome to Day #1 of the Extreme Heat Warning that was going to span the entire rest of the week.  So, believe me when I say that I was looking forward to taking Friday off.  It was HOT that morning.  Around 80 degrees before the sun was up.  MEH.  I had 9 miles on tap.  Nothing fast.  Nothing hard.  Just a base pace run.  It wasn’t easy in air you can wear.  Not at all.  I was so soaked in sweat that morning that my running shorts wanted to fall off my hips.  This sort of heat is serious business and people who downplay it are not smart people.  Whether you react to it or not…it’s hot.  Be safe.  I survived, even though I looked like I had gone swimming.

Friday: Day off.  Rest.  Slept in.  Showered.  Stretched.  Read some more of “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered,” by the My Favorite Murder ladies – Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.  If you don’t listen to that podcast…YOU NEED TO!  If you haven’t read the book…YOU NEED TO!  Trust me.  Went to work that day.  Then went out for some sushi at Dragon King’s Daughter…because it was too hot too cook and…we made it through a busy week…why not treat yourself a little?  I love vegan sushi.  It made me happy.  Plus…it was not just good carb loading for my weekend ahead, but also had some additional sodium to prep for the heat.

Saturday: Long run day.  One of them.  Because we were back to some back-to-back workout runs that I did a couple of weeks ago.  I met up with my friend Ron, on an extremely hot morning.  It was real feel 90 degrees and we started at 6:30 am.  Cathy got up early on a weekend to actually drop me off at the starting point, because she had a cooler full of cold water bottles and she was going to meet us at the turn-around point so we could cool off with cold water to drink and pour over us as needed.  This was also my first time running in the ultra-light Buff hat.  I still think it makes my head hot.  I will fight you.  Ron and I kept the pace easy, but challenging.  And he’s really good about telling me to ease back on pace because sometimes I feel good and that helps me to keep out of the “now I feel like crap” zone that likely will come sooner rather than later.  We did 10 miles together.  His training ended there.  I still had 2 more “fast finish” miles to go.  MEH.  I took another cold water break before I left to go and get those done.  I knew in the heat that it would not be super fast, but the effort was there.  Both miles were in the low 8s which is in my marathon pace zone…but definitely not the fast finish I can usual produce.  Iced coffee, a shower, and some air conditioned shopping later…I started to feel recovered.  With heat indexes in the triple digits, and me needing to not be dehydrated going into Sunday, we skipped the Louisville City FC match (we would have baked).  I went to bed after watching Chernobyl on HBO (we started it on Wednesday night) and hoped to rest up because I was setting yet another early alarm.

Sunday: I had texted Daniel on Saturday afternoon regarding my Sunday workout.  I knew it was going to be impossible.  He told me to go off of effort and not pace.  But even with effort, this run was pretty much impossible to do without multiple, numerous, sometimes air-conditioned stops.  I loaded up a cooler when I headed out to put on the back of my car.  It had one bottle of water to drink and one bottle to use to pour over my head.  I had frozen two small (5 oz) bottles the night before to allow to melt while I was running so I could snag them from the pockets of my Nathan hydration vest and pour over my head if needed before I could get to a good point near my car.  I looped this entire run.  I wore the Buff as a do rag, despite being out before the sun was up.  I just wanted to see if it made my head overheat.  The jury is still out on that.  But I died.  I died so hard on this run.  No mile came without a stop or two.  My effort was not as hard as I would normally push.  It makes me feel like I just can’t string together hard pushes in runs, even when racing, and it’s bothering me so much.  I know that it was 90 degrees at 4 am this day…but it still bothers me on a fundamental level.  Want me to feel out of shape…let me fail at a workout.  And this one was the one that nearly killed me a couple of weeks ago.  1 mile warm up; 3×4 miles @ marathon pace (with 4 minutes recovery); 1 mile cool down.  It was bad.  It went completely off the rails for the second time.  And I just need to prove to MYSELF that I can do these more challenging workouts.  I’m tired of feeling like I failed or having people make me feel like I’m a failure for wilting in this heat.  I drank water, finished off Chernobyl, and have been meal prepping ever since.

It was a rough week, friends.  I just need things to start clicking.  I need to start feeling excited, confident, and prepared.  I’m not there right now.  I’m not even excited.  And that’s definitely not where I want to mentally be with 4 months to go.  So, we’ll see what happens in this coming week.

Fingers crossed that the heat never gets this hot again.  But it’s only July.  So I won’t hold my breath.

The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast – Episode 10: “Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady — BluegrassBAMR

Hey everyone!

A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast!  I had a blast talking to Stephanie and sharing part of my story (I feel like I could have gone on for at least another hour…but I also like to talk).  Anyway…please go give it a listen.  And be sure you share, like, subscribe and leave a review for the podcast itself.

You can check it out below…or search on your favorite podcast platform!

And thanks again, Stephanie!

 

“Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady Karen Brady, aka The Celiathlete, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 30. After some trial and error, and help from a Registered Dietitian, Karen was able to find the nutritional solutions to help fuel her greatest passion: running. Not only has Karen learned to live […]

via The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast – Episode 10: “Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady — BluegrassBAMR