It was an honor to sit down with Crystal and Tom O’Keefe for an interview about all things Peloton as well as my time in Germany, running the Berlin Marathon, and…Bradley Rose. This was one of the most fun interviews I have ever done.
Check out the episode on their YouTube channel:
You can also listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and other listening apps – you can find it by searching The Clip Out in your favorite app!!
Let’s hear it for a new course PR…by a lot! I mean…we’re talking 1 hour 20 minutes and 5 seconds difference in finish times between my 2015 Boston Marathon time and my 2022 Boston Marathon time. In 2015…I was running on a torn hip labrum. In 2022…I was healthy and feeling ready to run the course. What a difference 7 years makes, right?
But let’s not jump to the end before we start at the beginning.
On Sunday morning, I woke up in time to eat a bagel for breakfast, grab some coffee (while in Boston, get your coffee from Tatte. Don’t question it…just do it!), and get to Boston Common for the McKirdy Trained shakeout run. I wasn’t actually running, and to make myself behave, I wore jeans. BUT…I did want to go and meet up with other McKirdy athletes because…I love meeting people.
The first person I met…was Gabby. And it went from there. I had quite a few people come up to me and say that they follow me on Instagram. Enough to make my friend Heather laugh at how “famous” I am. With just over 4K followers on IG…legit not even close to Insta-famous…but it’s the thought that counts. I was in for the group shot, the trivia (I didn’t win either giveaway…dang it), and then got to take photos with my coach and the group of athletes she had there. And after that…I waved to the groups that were doing a shakeout and went to go back to my hotel room to grab the hat I bought at the expo because it was very windy and cold outside and I had a Swan Boat ride to go on.
The Swan Boats were a good way to be out in Boston but not on my feet. It wasn’t a very long ride. And it was cold. But it was fun. Afterwards, we darted over to do some shopping (and others not me because food allergies!) at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. After that, I knew I needed to go back to the hotel room to put my feet up for the rest of the day. My friend Heather and I did that, while Cathy went out to see a cemetery she had wanted to go back to from when we visited in 2015.
And so, I watched television, was amused by Heather’s shadow puppets on the wall, hydrated, snacked….and finally ordered dinner for delivery from Poke by Love Art. I ordered the Garden Special, as it was vegan. From things I have learned since then, I should have gotten extra rice and fewer vegetables that day…and honestly, should have been eating like that leading into the race since the day I landed in Boston. But I wasn’t familiar with a proper carb load until much later. I now know for later. Soon after dinner and some foam rolling…it was time to rest because the next morning was RACE DAY!!
My alarm went off at 6 am because that gave me a little over 2 hours before I had to get on the bus to head to Hopkinton. I drank a Maurten 320 at the hotel room while I got ready for race day. My roommate finished up her signs and pinned my bib on. Since I was in the Wave 3, my buses weren’t going to depart until 8:15 am. I used the bathroom a lot because I hate port-a-potties…but knew I’d have to use one at Athlete’s Village anyway. I had tried, tirelessly, to find people to ride the bus with, but never could nail down plans as others were in different waves or had other transportation.
Cathy, Heather and I made the walk over to Boston Common, expecting the buses to be loading up like they were back in 2015…but they were actually on the OPPOSITE side of Boston Common…and we figured that out by following all the other runners. Because when in doubt…
I stood outside of the security checkpoint for a few minutes to snag some photos, but it was getting close to 8 am…so I knew I’d have to go through. I lifted my trash bag and my throwaway items to show my bib and I was allowed to pass through. A girl behind me had a hydration pack and realized it was on the prohibited items list just as she was about to go through. I don’t know what happened after that…I was in and moving toward the buses.
Except they were still loading up Wave 2 (the white bibs). So, instead, I found a little curb on a corner and took a seat to stay off my feet. And that’s when my friend, Stephanie, who I met WHILE running the Monumental Marathon that qualified us for this race, found me! In this sea of people…she spotted my famous pigtails.
So, I now had a friend to ride the bus for an hour with…which was nice. She had a friend that she met at the Air BnB (I think) where they were staying. We took over the back of the bus and were able to chat and chill and get our nerves down together. The bus ride seemed so much longer than I remembered from 2015…but, honestly, there isn’t a lot I remember about that year. When we got there, we started to scout out where we could get a non-busy port-a-potty…and we spotted one across the road, but the volunteers wouldn’t let us go over there to them…so into Athlete’s Village we went.
On the way to the entrance, I was spotted by another BibRave Pro, and she took a selfie with me before hurrying on back ahead. My little group got into the village and spotted a parking lot that was lined with port-a-potties that had relatively short lines. We got into one and would hold each other’s gear while we cycled through. It was a nice arrangement. Then we settled down on the pavement to fuel (I won’t do overnight oats again as they were getting to the point where they were out of the fridge for enough time…but I ate them and hoped for the best), put on sunscreen (I had done this at the hotel…I now know to reapply), and ditch our throwaway clothes (I realize we could have kept these on longer…but didn’t remember that…so…we ditched them earlier than we needed to, but it was fine).
Stephanie and I were in the same corral, so we headed that way and decided to take advantage of one more bathroom break before getting settled into the corrals. We then got to our corral and waited for the start. We enjoyed seeing the people who lived along the start area out there day drinking and cheering all the runners on. Our wave was finally set off and we walked with the corral to the start line…and then we were off.
I thought like I was starting pretty chill. The start is always crowded and often means that there is weaving and dodging so as not to get kicked or pushed. My first mile was actually slower than it felt, especially being mostly downhill (let’s face it….it’s all rolling). My pace did pick up as runners…kind of…stretched out. Honestly, it was crowded and stayed crowded, but I felt like I had a little more space to move. I was so happy to be back on the course. Even when I had to go uphill before hitting the Newton Hills. I tried not to focus too much on my watch. The Boston Marathon was going to be run for fun…as I had an actual goal race later in the year. So, every mile ticked off and I didn’t look at my watch too much, but realize now I should have because apparently I was on PR pace for the first half. HA!
Okay…I know that Boston is a net downhill and the Newton Hills are the famous hills (Heartbreak Hill for sure) are where you hear about the hills…but there are rolling hills throughout the first half of the race. I remember at one point, maybe around Mile 10, a woman in the crowd yelled, “WELCOME BACK TO THE APRIL BOSTON MARATHON!” It made me smile. I didn’t have the chance to do the fall Boston as I didn’t have a big buffer and didn’t sign up for the virtual, for many reasons, only to find out that virtual runners did get to go and run it in person if they had qualified…but whatever. It wasn’t meant to be in 2021 for me. That was a hard pill to swallow, I admit, and I avoided social media that day in October for my own mental health, but I was proud of my friends who did complete it. I digress…
I kept a pretty spicy (for me during a marathon) pace through the first half…but I could tell I was definitely running outside of my current ability at that time. I still felt good though…and I even felt a bit of a boost as I ran past my coach at Mile 14. She sent out a cheer in my direction and I flashed her a heart symbol with my hands (honestly, we started working together in early December…so she was a big help in getting me to this point). And on I went.
Honestly, I felt really good up until the first of the Newton Hills kicked in around Mile 17. My quads honestly felt so wrecked at this point from the downhills that the uphills were just not feeling good. And so…I opted to change over to a walk on the uphills and run on the downhills method. I was a little mad that I had to take the walks, but aside from sore quads…I felt strong and capable…so I kept going.
Heartbreak Hill was my slowest mile…because it was where I had to do the most walking. At the top there is a banner that tells the runners they conquered Heartbreak Hill. From here, we go back to a more downhill than up course…and I was okay with that, but my legs were sore…and now walk breaks were happening at the water stops along the way…if not at other points. I wasn’t mad though…I was proud of myself for continuing on.
I was moving forward, and the crowds were carrying me. I was trying to make sure I was drinking water at the water stops, and except for my quads screaming at me…I felt good. I knew that I had already achieved my goal…and that was to do better than I did in 2015. It was such a blessing to see the famous Citgo sign because now I knew I was close. Just over a mile to go.
The emotions really kicked in when I made the right onto Hereford. I made the climb up that hill, feeling a wave of emotions, because I knew that the finish line was around the corner (and down the road quite a way). I smiled. I cried. I turned left onto Boylston. My legs were so sore, but I pushed. I heard Cathy and Heather screaming at me from their spot on the sideline as I ran past them. I couldn’t take my eyes off that finish line.
Crossing that finish line was emotional. I did it. I ran through, stopping my watch after I was past the photographers. I started to tear up more. I had done something that I had dreamed about doing for 7 years. I was able to run the Boston Marathon on MY TERMS. No injury dictated how I ran this time. I got to run it the best I could on the day. And I was proud of that.
I collected my medal from a volunteer. I had wanted to find a certain one who was from the HardCORE group for Peloton, but I was so done at that point. I got wrapped in Mylar and started to walk through the finish line area to make my way through to get to the reunion area to meet my friends. Soon after taking a photo with my medal with one of the photographers…I stepped past and felt really light headed. I made my way over to one of the barriers and leaned against it.
BOOM. Immediately I had medical volunteers at my side asking me what was wrong. I told them I felt light headed and one put a wheelchair behind me and the other picked me up and legit settled me into it. Then I was wheeled over to the medical tent.
The people who took care of me at the medical tent were so nice. They transferred me from the wheelchair to a little cot and wrapped me up in Mylar to get me warm. They asked me my name and confirmed that I was 41 years old. One said, “Is that why you’re dressed like Rainbow Brite.” HAHA!! They did attempt to call my roommate on both her phone and mine, but since she didn’t recognize the number, she didn’t answer (D’OH!). They said they needed me to eat something and offered me broth (not vegetarian) and chips (not gluten free)…so they settled on a banana. I did slowly manage to eat it. And after that and some water, they did have me get up and walk around. I felt much better…so they put me back in the wheelchair and discharged me.
Finally, I got to go out to the reunion area where Heather and Cathy were eagerly waiting for me. I apologized and told them I had been in medical and we all hugged and started to walk back to the hotel. This meant we also forgot to take a bunch of photos of me with my medal, but just as we neared the hotel door, Heather remembered (bless her!). So we snapped a few photos of me on the sidewalks of downtown Boston.
After that, I went upstairs to shower and to put my legs up. We had a dinner reservation that night at Davio’s with Lydia, a childhood friend of mine and Heather’s. I wasn’t really ready to eat, but I knew I needed to, so per the usual, I just ate what I felt my stomach could handle at that time. I even split dessert. I was celebrating!!
Next time the goal is to finish without the need of the medical tent at the end.
So…my official finishing time at the 2022 Boston Marathon was 3:47:03. I am ECSTATIC! It took YEARS to get back here and won’t take any of that for granted. Not one bit. I was 14808/24834 finishers overall. I was the 4980/10572 woman to cross the finish line. And, I was 942/1637 in my age division. Finishing and smiling the entire way was my goal for this Boston Marathon redo…and I definitely succeeded in that. So much fun. And, major props to the medical volunteers who were wonderful and took very good care of me while I was in their care. I already can’t wait to do it again next year…which…I have could use my Monumental Marathon time for again so I’m already accepted. So…let’s go have some fun again next year, yes?
Because I needed a shakeout run prior to the Boston Marathon, I opted to register for the B.A.A. 5K and use that as my shakeout, leaving me my usual rest day prior to a long run/race for the day before. And I did promise my coach, Kim, that I wouldn’t pull a New York City and be on my feet too much leading into the big day.
When you aren’t racing a 5K, they are way more fun, let me tell you. But this was a good way to kick-start the weekend for sure. And my roommate, Cathy, was also going to run it. That was my fault. I convinced her that since we were in Boston, she should at least do that and she’d get to make that famous turn from Hereford onto Boylston and run under that famous finish line. Worth it, if you ask me.
The B.A.A. mails out the bibs for this race for most people, and we received ours a couple weeks ahead of the trip to Boston. I repetitively reminded Cathy to NOT FORGET to pack those bibs. And she didn’t. But I think it’s because I kept freaking out about it and she finally put them in her trip folder.
I spent much of Friday traveling, at the expo, and doing some fun sightseeing with Cathy and my best friend since childhood – Heather. The expo was much smaller than I remember it being in the past (someone else back me up on this) and the Adidas (official merch) part was INSANE! Like, insane insane. So crowded. Lines that wrapped. Crazy. We survived that and had some fun and random experiences at the expo. We legit stumbled across Meb at the KT Tape booth. Got his autograph and had a great conversation with him (per usual).
We grabbed dinner at Tavern on the Square, which had so many amazing gluten free options that we all got small plates to share and then got our mains. There was a lot of food, but it was DELICIOUS. Gluten free fried pickles. Yes please…more of that in my life from here until forever. My main dish was the Quinoa Bowl, which was roasted cauliflower, winter squash, beets, broccoli, kale, avocado, goat cheese, and crispy carrots over a bed of quinoa. It was amazing. Very happy with our decision to go there to eat. Sat outside. Had a great view, and a very fun waiter, Melvin, who kept us laughing and entertained.
We returned to the hotel that evening completely stuffed and ready to cycle through showers and get some rest. I set an alarm to give us time to get the three of us through the bathroom and getting dressed to head to the 5K start…and it seems to be the wake up time we’ve stuck with this entire trip.
We made the walk to Boston Common and over to the race staging area. Heather was kind enough to hold my jacket (it was a bit cool to stand around in my tank top that long) when I went to head to the corrals. Wave 1 had white bibs and Wave 2 had blue bibs. Wave 1 was going to go first and then the blue bibs were supposed to line up after us and…you know…be Wave 2. But it didn’t work that way.
Because there was no one helping at the corral entrances. So everyone just sort of piled in. And when the first wave of pros went to move…we all started to move…and everyone else who was standing outside saw everyone going and all flooded into the corrals. So…by the time the corral I properly placed myself in for my shakeout pace got up to the start line, the pros were already done. Legit, I saw Kiera D’Amato in the finisher’s chute (I mean…that was really cool, but…). So, people were flooding into the finish line by the time I was starting. I wasn’t happy about that.
Thankfully, for me, this wasn’t a race. With everyone from every wave together, it made for a lot of bobbing and weaving (which, honestly, can be a bit dangerous) around other runners who have a more deliberate pace than me. I did my best not to trip and stumble, and carefully weave through the crowd as I made my way into the first mile. Let me tell you, Boston even loves the 5K as there were plenty of people out cheering and encouraging everyone out there. It made me smile. I’m all about smiles on the run.
After Mile 1, we head under a bridge, where everyone started WOOOOHOOO-ing. It was such energy. I loved it. We make a turn and head back, going back under the bridge, with more WOOHOO-ing and more energy, and then we head toward Mile 2, by making that famous right turn onto Hereford. Climb that short hill, and make that famous left turn onto Boylston.
Now you get to run the longest stretch of road ever, where you can see the Boston Marathon finish line, but it seems so far away. AND…you do get to cross it, but don’t get it twisted…this is NOT the 5K finish line. You have to run all the way down Boylston, past FanFest and make a turn just after Mile 3 to head into the finish line.
I spotted Heather immediately and waved at her as I ran to the finish. I walked through the crowd at the finish to get my medal and head back into the staging area to grab the snack bag and my t-shirt. I went to find Heather and drink some water while we waited on Cathy to finish. I was tracking her so I had a good idea of when she would be rounding the corner. We cheered her in and went to go wait for her on some bleachers near the exit. We started talking about the mess at the start and she said there were a lot of angry runners near where she was lined up (she was Wave 2 even).
You win some, you lose some. I accomplished my goal of running an easy couple of miles and enjoyed most every part of it. The part that was frustrating, well, that’s just part of what sometimes happens on race day. I was just surprised there weren’t volunteers at the corral entrances to help direct a little bit more. In the end, it was fun, and I had fun, and it accomplished the purpose of the run…and earned some bling too.
Spent the rest of the day at FanFest and going to check out the Finish Line. Then we went to the Boston Red Socks game. I mean…a game at Fenway…count me in!! Had a blast hanging with Cathy and Heather and doing the wave and listening to the crowd boo people on the Minnesota Twins, and then having to Google why they are booing these players. True story. And we got a Green Monster home run…so BONUS!
After 2015…this trip is already 100% more fun! Can’t wait for tomorrow.
Anyway, the results of my shakeout run at the B.A.A. 5K are that I finished with an official time of 26:46. I was 2622/8193 finishers overall. I was the 971/4584 women finishers. And I was 141/665 in my age group. And because I was literally running easy, all my finish line photos look amazing. HAHA!
If I hadn’t made it clear in years past…I LOVE NEW YORK CITY!! And I hadn’t been back to the Big Apple since I raced the NYC Half Marathon back in 2018. That is way too long…but you know…global pandemic.
Here’s what I can say about going into race day this time around. I made A TON of bad decisions leading into race day. I landed in NYC on Friday…REALLY early. My roommate and I caught an early ass flight out of Louisville to New York, direct flight. Love that story. Maybe not the early ass part, but I mean…it meant more time in the city. We landed, grabbed my luggage, and went to meet our car service to get the lift from LaGuardia Airport to the Chelsea Flower District, to our hotel, The Cambria. The problem was, a truck was blocking the road, so our driver let us out at a corner and told us which way to walk to get to the hotel. Since it was the Flower District…we had to dodge, not just people, but also plants. So. Many. Plants. On. The. Sidewalk. But…somehow I maneuvered my bag (which is as big as me, I swear) to the hotel and we got checked in. Our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our luggage and went out to get coffee and head to the expo.
Let’s start with my first mistake…ALL THE WALKING. Granted, the race was 2 days away, but I spent pretty much all of Friday walking the streets of NYC. After not finding an ideal coffee spot, we ended up getting Starbucks…and continued on our way to the race expo. I should have checked the info, because we went to where it had been in the past. Guess what…it had moved. WHOOPS. That will teach me to read all the information they send in those emails. HA!
So, we turned around and started to make our way to the actual expo, which was held this year at Center415. We had to show our Proof of Vaccination and our photo IDs to enter, and that went smoothly. Then it was off to the races…figuratively…because it’s packet pickup. The expo was smaller than I expected, but the process of getting a bib was as easy as showing a QR Code and getting your corral letter stuck onto a bib. Seamless. Went from there to take a couple of pictures and then continued on into the merchandise area. If I liked New Balance shoes, I would have been tempted to buy the special ones they had…but I don’t like New Balance shoes. Instead, my roomie gifted me with a cute running jacket and a t-shirt. I thought about getting one of the winter hats, but they weren’t overly special…so I didn’t. We headed out…and went to wander around Manhattan…with a stop at Tiffany’s (I didn’t buy anything…don’t be shocked). We grabbed a quick lunch of soup at Fresh & Co (because I suddenly realized I was starving). Then we went to Rockefeller Center to watch some people ice skate and to grab chocolate from our favorite chocolate shop.
We then made the trek back to the hotel to see if we could check in yet. We could not. Booo. So, we went to sit outside in the sunlight for a little while. I don’t like just sitting, but I did it and checked out the menu for where we were going to grab dinner, The Little Beet. After many attempts at getting our room, we were finally given keys and went up to room 1205, which was just off the elevator and in the corner on the left. The rooms were nice. We placed our dinner order and waited for it to be delivered. It was SO GOOD that we ordered from The Little Beet two more times while in the city.
After eating, we got dressed up because we had tickets (my birthday gift to my roommate) to see Come From Away on Broadway (which, let me say right now…one of THE BEST Broadway shows I have seen). I was going to wear heels with my pretty dress, but my roomie talked me out of it. I didn’t have sneakers that matched the dress, but she said no one would care. My coach, Kim, later thanked her for doing that, HA! We made the long walk to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, located between Broadway & 8th Avenue. It was a pretty long walk, so not wearing the heels was actually smart. The show was SO amazing. Like I said, one of the best shows I have seen TO DATE!! Highly recommend. After the show, we made the long walk back to the hotel to shower and get some sleep.
Woke up on Saturday morning and headed down to Central Park to do a shakeout run. We finally bought our MetroPass so we could ride the subway. That helped. Way less hiking. I got to Central Park way earlier than expected so went on my 30 minute shakeout…somehow managing to get myself a little lost after turning around and heading right back to where I started. I have the worst sense of direction. THE WORST! But I made it back. And then met one of my favorite Peloton instructors, Mister Power Zone himself – Matt Wilpers. That was really cool. He’s very genuine and just how he is on the screen of the Peloton tread or bike. Took a photo with him and had to get back to the hotel to change and head out because today was “being a tourist day.” Which meant, I was taking my roommate to the Statue of Liberty, because with as many times as we have traveled to NYC…she had never gone to the statue.
Enter my next mistake on this trip. Can you guess what it is? We went down to catch the ferry, which was fine and easy and quick. You did have to go through airport level security, but that wasn’t too bad. We didn’t get a spot to sit down on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. It was chilly on the water, and the wind was really insane. But…we docked and got off the ferry and made our way to the statue. She was just as I remembered her. The crown still isn’t open, but we were allowed to go up to the Pedestal. This is where I made the error of climbing the stairs up to the Pedestal. Sorry, Kim. I wasn’t thinking. It was 215 stairs, or about 10 stories. But, the views were amazing. I did a lot of the infamous “tourist pose”. And after we made the circuit, we went to head back down. More stairs. Good times. After that, the ferry stopped off at Ellis Island. We grabbed a snack after a little wandering about…an orange and some chips. And water. I was terrible at hydrating too. Whoops. When we got back on the ferry, we returned and made our way back to the hotel. Yes…that pretty much took the extent of all day. WORTH IT. The race was the following day, and while we had intended to go get some sushi at a nearby establishment, we opted to order in The Little Beet again. I got more grains this time with my bowl, and added beets (because those are supposed to help with running performance). After that, I foam rolled and stretched and got ready for bed…because the following morning…was RACE DAY!
When we were here in 2018, we took the subway to Brooklyn and ended up packed like sardines in the train car. With Covid-19 still being a thing, we opted to skip the subway ride to Prospect Park, and instead hired a car to take us there. It was an easy drive in, and we went across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was really cool. They dropped us off across the street and we went to sit down on a bench for a little bit, since we were still a little early. I brought my pre-race fuel to eat on the walk to the start, but Cathy went ahead and had her breakfast while we waited and chatted and watched some warmers do some strides or get some easy miles in ahead of the race. After a little while, I needed to head into the park and to the corrals…so Cathy went to catch the subway to the Manhattan Bridge and I went to go find some friends inside the park.
The first sound I heard was the voice of Ali Feller (of the Ali on the Run podcast), which felt so calming, honestly. I ate my overnight oats while I walked the path past the port-a-potties and to the corrals. I was in Corral D, and was hoping to meet up with my friend Andrew and see my friend Shana (she was volunteering at the start). And guess what? I met up with both of them. Shana was at my corral entrance, and we snapped a quick photo together. And Andrew and I got quite a few photos, some with me in my throwaway clothes (which were not human highlighter equivalent), and some of me in my race clothes (way more colorful). It was SO NICE to have someone to chat with while we waited in the corral. He’s just as fun in person as he is on Instagram. We went to run our own races at the start, but we stayed together as we jogged across the line.
This was a different route from the one in 2018. There was much more Prospect Park in this version, including a very annoying hill in the first mile. The start was pretty crowded, so I just tried to stay in the flow and not go out too fast. I succeeded in doing that and even picked up the pace a little as we headed out of the park in the first mile and onto Flatbush Avenue. This was fine…except for the 180 turn before Mile 2. After that…it was just a matter of getting to the Manhattan Bridge. The miles felt fast here, but I knew that Mile 5 was the climb onto the bridge. It was also where I fueled with Maurten. The bridge was a slog to get up, but there were so many people heading up the incline that it didn’t feel too hard. I also knew that somewhere on the opposite side would be my roommate. And boy…was she ever there…screaming her fool head off at me. I gave her a wave and a smile and rounded the corner to head toward FDR Drive…where you can legit SEE the city. I fueled again at Mile 10.
I could tell my legs were getting tired way earlier than wanted them too. That climb on the bridge took a lot of speed out of them, especially after spending so much time on my feet in the two days leading up to race day. As I said, many, many mistakes were made. But it was fine, I could do this run, even if I did slow down. I was slowing down. But, I still felt good. So that’s all that mattered.
At Mile 11, as we headed through Times Square, my roomie caught me on the course again. I could hear her over the roar of the crowd, but I never could find her. I gave a wave and smile and focused on now heading up the long and slow climb of 59th Street. We turned a corner and I knew I had about a mile left and we were heading into Central Park. This was the other big difference from 2018…way less time in Central Park. But it was an uphill finish, which is pure evil, but, I had run it in my shakeout run, so I knew that was the case. I tried to pick up my pace, but my legs were toast. I crossed the finish line, and for the first time in a long time, felt wiped. I was DONE.
I made sure to pick up my medal and get the little snack bag and a Mylar wrap on my way out of the park. That was a fun little hike, and we were let out at Columbus Circle, which was where I was meeting my roommate. We went to go sit down and my official time popped up. It was a course PR (because new course, LOL), but it wasn’t the time I was hoping to get in the buildup. I was okay with it…kind of. BUT…I did the best I could on that day. That I did know.
After sitting around for a few minutes, we went to hop on the subway to go back to the hotel so I could shower and get changed. I texted my coach and we made plans to meet at her hotel before she left. So, we headed back toward Central Park, and saw the Stranger Things Experience…so we got tickets to do that and then had to duck back into the subway station to get across the street and walk towards Kim’s hotel. I met her in the little hotel restaurant area. And I was so happy to meet her in person for the first time, after having worked with her since December. She is wonderful. And as mad as I wanted to be at myself for my finish time, she kept reminding me that it was a difficult course and I was in the midst of marathon training. I couldn’t be mad. We hung out and talked until it was time to head back and do the Stranger Things Experience. It was free admission, but you end up buying ALL THE THINGS because the show is amazing and it made me want to do a rewatch leading into the new season which comes out next month.
That night, we got dressed up once again (and this time I did wear heels) and took the subway into Harlem to meet up with our friends Marisa and Jim for dinner. It was so fun to catch up with them (we hadn’t seen them since their wedding) and eat a great dinner. The food is always delicious and the entertainment…amazing. Gotta love a live jazz band. It was loud, but it felt normal. And I’ve been searching for that for years now. Oh, in case you were wondering, I got the Spicy Charred Glazed Cauliflower – roasted tomatoes, bean puree, cilantro-yogurt sauce. It was heaven on a plate!! And I got a celebratory pint of Angry Orchard cider…because it was a celebration! Did I get dessert too? Yes. The pineapple sorbet…which tasted like dole whip. I was so happy.
But I digress…
So…the official results of the 2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon was that I finished with an official time of 1:43:41. I was 3605/22,355 finishers this year. I was 823/11,458 female finishers. And I was 87/1640 finishers in my age division. It may not have been the race that I knew I was capable of, but it was the best I could do that day…and I made it to that finish line. I do love running races in NYC…and this is my third time running the NYC Half Marathon (all three times on a different course). I can’t wait to go back to run another race there sooner rather than later this time!
I realize that this race took place on Thanksgiving morning, and here I am, just 5 days post-Valentine’s Day and I am just now getting this post up. But trust me…life has been crazy and busy and just…exhausting. BUT…here we go.
First of all…NEW COURSE AND 5 MILE RACE PR!! I feel like I should have been shouting this from the hills after it happened, but the weather was so terrible that day. Legit a cold and rainy morning. And, I honestly didn’t realize I had a PR until much later that evening when I was putting up my Christmas tree. Didn’t register. It was only after my training partner asked about the race that I looked up my time and went to compare it to the past few years. This beat my former 5 mile race PR (let’s face it…there aren’t a lot of those in the world) from this race in 2017. I was only a couple of weeks off running the Monumental Marathon (got a BQ but a big margin), so I hadn’t thrown in any speed workouts and wasn’t really being guided by a coach because we had decided to part ways.
I should also mention, that I ran this one, unofficially, last year virtual. It went virtual due to COVID, and since I run this route all the time…I didn’t officially sign up for the race. I, instead, ran it with my friends Melissa & Paul, who pushed a stroller on those crazy sidewalks and roads!
Woke up Thanksgiving morning to cold rain. It was still shorts weather though, so I couldn’t be too mad. This just meant that I stayed in the apartment until the very last moment. As I have mentioned in every blog about this race – the start line is basically at the base of my apartment complex. It’s the least stressful race of the year. It’s a one minute walk at most…but this year faster because rain makes me move faster.
I got down to the start line with just one minute to spare. Per usual, I let the elite runners that can run this in like 25 minutes in that first row and was somewhere around row 2-3 with the runners. I try to start as close to the start line, because while the race is now time chipped, there isn’t a start mat so the minute we are sent off…that’s it. That’s when timing starts.
I took off strong, getting passed by many but not caring, honestly. This happened every year, and for the most part, I catch up or pass at least half of the crowd. Besides, we immediately go up a hill and hills suck. But I honestly run this route a lot because it’s an easy and measured route…so I am at least used to the hills. This was a splish-splashy run for sure, and after going across the overpass I went down the hill and made my way to the stop light to turn and hit that first mile. It was faster than I anticipated, and was the fast mile of the day. After that, my legs remembered I hadn’t run fast in quite some time…but they worked hard.
Mile 2 is always where I settle in, and I did just that, running strong and doing my best to avoid puddles (because the game puddle or pothole is never a fun one!). I always feel like Mile 2 goes by fast. I think it’s more downhill and flat than uphill. But it was here and gone as I pressed on to Sam Peden Community Park. This is where I have to deal with THE HILL. It’s half a mile up to the top, where you sort of get a false flat. It was my slowest mile of the race…because hills are stupid. I climb this hill a lot in training, specifically in the summer, which at times was an ego check…but today my focus was on getting up it and getting to the next mile. I clicked it off…wand headed into the rollers of Schell Lane.
You start off with a downhill, but immediately go back up…then back down…then the hardest climb back up. This road is fun on Thanksgiving because the people who live in the houses lining the street come out and cheer. And even though it was POURING down rain…this still happened. And it made me smile. And when you smile…you run better, right? Sure. Lets go with that.
Turned onto Daisy Lane and get to go down a BIG hill. If I run UP the hill, this is my least favorite hill (which now I know is about 200 meters from doing hill repeats there). But running down is a nice speed boost and it levels out just as Mile 4 beeps on the watch. That flat stretch after that downhill always feels terrible, but the legs adjust. One more mile to go, and it’s the main road that I run (the opposite way, but still) every training run.
I was confident in my ability to keep the momentum going and I just pushed with whatever I had left. The 4-H Fairgrounds were in view and I made the turn to head into the finish line. Crossed it. I don’t even think I threw my hands up this year…I was just over being in the rain.
The award ceremony was happening much later, and with the rain and cold air, I didn’t want to stand in that any longer. My roommate agreed. I snapped a quick picture in the rain jacket she brought for me…and we headed out, crossed the road, and went home.
It was definitely still a different experience in 2021. No indoor awards ceremony because of COVID and a different place for packet pick-up. But it all worked out. And while it took me, legit, the rest of the day to realize I had a PR…I was super happy with the race, and just happy to be inside and out of the rain.
I later found out I placed in my age group. I contacted the race director, and while he wasn’t terribly happy that I didn’t stay for the awards (I host each year and usually can’t stay long after because cooking has to happen on a schedule…but he said if you don’t stay you don’t get the award…but I swear, I have picked up my mug in the past at the local running store), but he did deliver it to the local running store and I went and picked it up that day. So, I was thankful for that.
The official results of this year’s Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast was that I finished with an official time of 36:19…a new PR by 17 seconds. WOOHOO!! Still shocked that this race went as well as it did this past year. I felt highly under-prepared for it, but honestly, 2018, 2019, and 2021 have all happened post-Monumental Marathon. I was 81/431 finishers this year (this also means that everyone make’s the t-shirt next year). I was the 12th female to cross the finish line. And I was 2nd in my age division. You know…maybe going sub 36 in in my future? Will have to talk to my NEW coach. More on that another blog…sometime in the near future.
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 6, 2021
Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.
Let’s skip to the good part:
This was my second fastest marathon in the 17 I have run (my PR was my first marathon back in 2013)
I negative split a marathon for the first time…EVER.
I threw the plan away halfway through the race…and this wasn’t a bad thing.
Whew. Deep breath. Now let’s talk about why all of the above is important, because coming into race day, I was starting to really have my doubts. Legit, I was having meltdowns over the possibility of everything going wrong on race day (hey…it can happen), and in turn letting myself and everyone else (honestly…no one would ever be disappointed in me) down in the process.
As many of you know, this race, initially, was supposed to be Marathon #3 in a span of 6 weeks. Berlin 2021 would kick it off…then Boston 2021…then Monumental. So, when I started back with my coach in February, we were working on getting me prepared to run decent marathons over such a short span of time. But, I opted to defer Berlin, not knowing where the world would be with COVID at that point, and I really wanted the FULL experience in Germany, up to and including Oktoberfest, which was canceled in 2021. Boston announced a reduced field size, but with it being the 125th running…registration was crazy (this included international, which eventually meant spots opened up because of travel restrictions, which were then given to those who qualified and registered for the Virtual Boston Marathon (I have a lot of opinions on that too…and if you know me, you’ve heard them, so I won’t voice it again). So, when I lost Boston because a buffer that would have been big enough on a normal year wasn’t good, I was heartbroken. When Boston offered spots to those who opted to do the virtual (I opted to train and do a marathon and qualify again for more than that reason), I was crushed. It was heartbreak all over again. And it took A LOT of wind out of my sails. Not going to lie.
But we move on.
I will say this…my training from February through November was crap. I pretty much hated every bit of it. Not all of it. But I felt like the things that concerned me or that I didn’t like weren’t being heard. For instance, I don’t like training by time. I would much rather be told how far to run, and not what amount of time to run for. I have never enjoyed training by time, and I still don’t. Pretty much every run had some aspect of speed in it. I love a run where I get to chill and not think about pushing paces. Whether it was fartleks, or strides, or hill sprints, or some ungodly amount of 800 m repeats…it was always something. And let’s talk about the summer heat. For years, I was fine in the heats. I did better in the heat. But the last three or so years, I wilt in the summer and summer runs legit take it all out of me. And speed work in the heat…that’s instant death. It was rare a summer speed session went the way it should have. And when you’re a perfectionist like me…well…that gets in your head.
Add to that, getting a text from your coach a few weeks out and being told that he isn’t confident, based on training, that my BQ goal was likely. Nothing sucks more than having the person who is supposed to be confident and instill confidence in you tell you that he’s not confident. It made me not confident. Thankfully, I have family and friends who told me otherwise on repeat because that totally messed me up. And guess what? When the cooler temperatures moved in, my paces got faster and felt easier. I ran a fast half marathon without even pushing my full potential just a few weeks prior to this race. That was a confidence booster there.
On the Thursday before the race, my coach called while I was driving home from work to go over race day expectations. He was out on his long run and had three athletes running Monumental, so hew as knocking them out while on the run. He once again brought up my training, and how it really never clicked until 3 weeks out from race day. So, he said, expectations for a 3:35 were possible, but felt my 3:30 suggestion was out of my reach. He said, honestly, that a 3:37-3:40 was most likely where I would come in. He said lining up with the 3:30 group might be disheartening if I went out hot and then fell off. He said to line up with the 3:35 group…and expect that I might fall off them, but to just do my best to hold on. And…to have some names of people in mind to dedicate the later miles to, when the race would surely get hard and start to hurt. Considering I dedicated every mile in my first marathon to people, this is a tactic I have used before.
Welcome to Friday. I took the day off work so I wouldn’t have to try to make it up to Indianapolis after work when traffic might be crazy and I would be stressed out. This allowed me to do my shakeout run (45 minutes…PLUS STRIDES) in the daylight, which gave me way more options on where to run. I chose a hilly route and took it easy…then finished off those strides feeling strong and fast. Awesome. Took a shower. Finished packing. Called in my order to my local sushi place to get my sushi to go and haul it up to Indianapolis (in a cooler, just FYI) with me so I could keep the “magic sushi” pre-race/long run tradition alive. We picked it up…stored it in the cooler, and made the drive up to Indianapolis…with no delays or problems.
Because I am a self-proclaimed princess (or maybe it’s the 4 tiaras that I own…ha!), my roommate and I were staying at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. I know…fancy. And Marriott rewards points are always nice to have and use. This was convenient, as it wasn’t far from the start and finish line…nor was it far from the expo. The one thing that was of concern was my roommate had suddenly started snuffling on Wednesday. She claimed, like everyone does, that it was allergies, but finally admitted on Friday it was a head cold. Worst. Timing. Ever. We got up to the room, on the 18th floor, and then headed out to the expo. Despite being triple vaxxed (2 shots + booster) we masked up, and with Cathy dealing with a head cold…it was the smartest thing to do.
The expo was small, but this one usually is. Cathy got her packet first…super easy. I went and got mine. And then I picked up a packet for a friend of a friend of mine. No hassles or problems. Very easy and streamlined. Then I went to Runner’s Services to pick up my Monumental Ambassador shirt (did I mention I was a race ambassador? This was fun…but it weird to still be doing it in a pandemic year as I feel like there would have been a lot more going on had we been able to gather) as well as a hoodie that was mailed to me, but never actually got to me. Seems about right. Thanks for that USPS. I met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Juan…and then took a spin through the official merchandise. It’s good luck for me to buy SOMETHING from the race. I thought about a coffee mug, but they weren’t selling any. Boo. So, I started looking for some tops…which, sadly, by 3 pm on Friday, all that was left were the L-3XL. I was really disappointed. On a side table, I did spot a bright yellow quarter zip that had a few women’s smalls in it. So…that’s what I ended up with. It wasn’t the piece of merchandise I was interested in…but it’s something that will get worn. I wandered around the expo, hoping to run into a few friends…but eventually had to head back to the room and get off my feet.
On the way back to the hotel, I did run into Tammy & Dean, who I’ve run with in the past and are local runners and friends of mine. We chatted for awhile, I we informed them of the lack of actual merchandise for smaller people. We parted ways so they could get down to the expo and I got upstairs. My friend Kelsie called just as I got back and was down at the expo. We decided we would meet up before the race because we both wanted photos together. Afterwards, I showered and settled in for the night. Yes…with Food Network and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (duh…always!). Cathy ended up opting for an easy room service order of a quesadilla, instead of trying to find something downtown that she could carry out back to the hotel. The box she picked up had three quesadillas in it. No lie. I think she ate half of it and put the other half in the fridge to have after her 5K (she never got around to it, though). I busted out my sushi I brought with me from Dragon King’s Daughter. I didn’t have any chopsticks with me…so I turned it into finger food. You do what you gotta do. Thankfully, sushi isn’t a messy meal.
Soon after, I was brushing my teeth and getting everything ready for the morning. I set three different alarms. One for me. Another for me. And one for Cathy. Lights out was close to 9 pm. And, of course, I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t really had good sleep since I moved apartments in March 2020 (and we all know what else happened in March 2020). I try though. And while I did fall sleep, it was for 20 minute spurts and then I’d wake up…roll over a couple times…and try again. My first two alarms never actually went off because I was already awake to turn them off.
All week, I had been fussing over the weather. We were getting a cold snap, so once again race morning was going to be cold. If you remember, in 2019…it was around 29 degrees when I crossed the finish line. This year, it was going to be 30 degrees at the start…no wind. So, after going back and forth on it…I opted to wear shorts (who am I?). Getting ready in the morning is easy. First I ate my over night oats. Then I put on my race outfit. Then sunscreen (always sunscreen!). My new friend, Sue, who I had picked up the packet for, was on her way to my hotel to get her stuff, so I headed downstairs to meet her. When I handed it off, she mentioned that it didn’t feel too bad out there. I asked her if the shorts were appropriate. She said yes. We wished each other luck and I went back up to my room. I now had to put my hair extensions in and put the signature pigtails in my hair. Thankfully, everything cooperated. I brought some throw-away clothes, which I slipped into and filled up my hydration pack with Nuun, and grabbed my Maurten gels and my Maurten 320 to drink about 30 minutes prior to the race. Cathy handed me a Mylar to wrap around myself while waiting for the start…and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.
The plan was to meet up with EVERYONE at a specific statue at the Indiana Statehouse. I managed to find a few members of my She Runs This Town (SRTT) chapter, but not everyone was there yet for the photo. I went to go fuel…and immediately had a meltdown over the race, which Cathy had to deal with. She spotted my pacer and told me to go and talk to him. He was easy to spot. REALLY tall. Wearing a throw away tie dye shirt. I called him Tie Dye Guy (any other Only Murders In The Building watchers?). His actual name was Riley. The corrals got really crowded really fast. I met Jason, another pacer. And Gerald, from Chicago. We chatted as other people started to cluster around the pace group. I ducked away just briefly to ditch the throw away clothes and returned…ready to run.
I never did get to meet up with Kelsie or Taushah. And I missed the photo op with my SRTT ladies…but the race was getting ready to go. The national anthem was played. And then Wave A was sent off. I was in Wave B, so we were moved up and had to wait until we were sent off. That was about 5 minutes later.
The first mile of this race was CROWDED. I mean…crowded. The pacers were having a hard time getting up to pace and the rest of us were trying to duck and dodge people in order to keep up with our pacers. Despite all of that…the first mile was WAY behind pace…clocking in at 8:30 (a 3:35 means an 8:11 mile average). They encouraged us by saying that we would slowly chip away at that in the next couple miles and get back on track. Mile 2 came around at 8:08 pace. As we entered Monumental Circe, there was a crowd there and a lot more room to move (finally). So Riley and Jason took us a bit faster but got us back on pace by the time we clipped over to Mile 3 with a 7:33 pace. WAY faster than we should be, but back on track.
Miles 4-7 were really easy. I stayed with the pacers or just behind them for most of it. And I found myself moving slightly ahead around Mile 6. I was talking with Gerald. Easy conversation. I could easily have a conversation. But we noticed the pace group was falling back behind us and both decided we should back off pace and keep them closer. Here, Riley busted out one of his cheers, which really made it fun. Just before Mile 8 is the split off where the half marathon runners go left and those running the full go straight. I fueled at this point with the rest of my Maurten 320 and again found myself up ahead of the pace group. I eased back again, even thought I felt good. I was Mile 8…too early, I told myself. I still stayed just ahead of them though…because I know sometimes pace groups can get crowded (I have been tripped more than once running with a pace group). I heard someone chatting behind me about living in Clarksville, Indiana. And I turned my head and said, “I’m in New Albany!” He mentioned probably seeing him on the Greenway if I run there. I’ll have to see if our paths cross next time I am down that way. I remained really steady with my pace from Miles 9-13, and was distracted between Miles 10-11 as I searched to see if my friends George and Susan were out as they live on the road those miles fall on. It was really cold…I didn’t spot them. I doubt they were out, but I always check…just in case.
We ran through the halfway point, and Riley busted out his second cheer to get us motivated and keep it fun. I still felt really good. I moved ahead again. In my head, I was hearing my coach telling me to hang with the pacers through at least Mile 20. I thought about how much further I still had to go. But I also knew I felt GOOD! So, I said…”FUCK IT!” And I went.
This is where I meet my new friend Stephanie. She moved up with me and asked if I was going for a BQ. I told her I was and asked if she was as well. She said she was and she said I looked really solid with my pace. So for awhile we were right there with each other. The miles clicked off and I never felt tired. I fueled at 12 and again at 16. I made sure I was hydrating at every mile, and in between if I felt I needed it. Mile 18 clicked off and then we hit my favorite part…the downhill at Mile 19. Love it. Downhill is my favorite.
Mile 20 is where most people start hitting the wall, but I was starting to pick the pace back up. I started passing people who were slowing down or starting to walk. (No shame in the walk game, FYI…I managed a 3:49:46 at the Dopey Challenge in the marathon (which is after running a 5K, 10K, and Half in the 3 days prior to the marathon) taking walk breaks). I actually felt like I could run this pace all day. Stephanie and I ended up running those last few miles together. It was nice to have company stride for stride. She was kicking ass. In 2019, the last three miles had a terrible headwind. This year…none of that. The sun was out. It was over 40 degrees (which meant I was now hot, but didn’t want to slow down to mess with taking off arm warmers). At Mile 23, i said, “We’re going to do it!” to Stephanie. She said, “Fuck yeah, we are!” I knew I liked her. I took my last Maurten Gel at Mile 24. I know only 2 miles remain at that point, but why risk having a lull in energy? Stephanie moved just slightly ahead after Mile 25 and inside my head I was cheering her on because it was motivating me. My friend Dean was somewhere around that last mile and he gave me a motivational cheer as I ran past. I smiled and waved. I still felt good. That final turn into the finish line was amazing. So many spectators cheering. I was looking for Cathy in the crowd, but didn’t see her as I headed into the finish line. I crossed…throwing my hands up into the air and stopped my watch AFTER I moved past the photographers. She was on the other side of the finish…holding a sign.
Stephanie turned around and we gave each other a hug and congratulated each other. We’re now friends on social media. I then went over to Cathy, and finally uncovered my watch, seeing 3:33 staring back at me. And I broke down in tears of joy. I not only hit my goal…I smashed it. She told me to go get my medal and goodies and she would meet me at the end of the chute. I spotted Riley after that and he said, “Did you get your BQ?” I said I had and he high fived me. So did Jason. I got wrapped in Mylar and received my medal. A volunteer opened my water bottle for me and I took a sip while I waited to take a photo with my medal. Gerald found me then and we talked. He also got a BQ. And the guy from Clarksville…he was behind me in the line and we chatted some more too.
Got my photo. Got my winter hat. Grabbed a bag of chips and a cookie. One runner dropped his cookie near the table and thought about bending over to get it. He started to do that, but then stopped. I said, “It lives there now…just grab another!” He did exactly that.
I met up with Cathy and we moved to the lawn so I could lay down and put my feet up. We were waiting on our friend Greg to arrive. Cathy went to grab my Indython charm and scarf and to try to get my medal engraved. The line was crazy long so I said it wasn’t that important. Greg did arrive as I was finishing up a phone call to my mom (I always talk to my mom when I finish a race). We headed back to the hotel so I could get warm. I laid on the floor with my feet up for a little longer before heading into the bathroom to shower and change.
While I wasn’t very hungry, I also know that post-race nutrition is important. So, we walked down to Harry & Izzy’s, but the patio seating wasn’t open and there was a wait for seating. Instead, we walked to where Greg was parked and headed into Carmel to try to get seating at Woody’s Library Restaurant. There was a small wait, and we decided to walk up to the gluten-free bakery, No Label at the Table, for some goodies. The restaurant called while we were in there so Greg and a I hurried back to get the table. I noticed then that I wasn’t as sore as I usually am after a marathon. Not mad at that.
My dinner was Greek Tacos with Kettle Chips (the tots and fries and stuff used to be GF here, but it’s been 2 years since I’ve eaten there and that is no longer the case). After that, Greg drove us back to the hotel and dropped us off. Cathy and I took a walk through the park before calling it a day and heading in for the night.
It was a good day. It was a very good day.
The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:33:46, which now makes this my second fastest marathon to date of the 17 I have now fun. This honor had since gone to the 2019 Monumental Marathon, but I beat that time by 2 minutes. Also, this was the first time I ever negative split a marathon. Cathy waid she was watching my splits and going, “She’s speeding up!” I was 1315/3948 finishers overall. I was the 333/1598 female finishers. And I was 54/287 in my age division. Considering how nothing felt like it was clicking or going well in all of my training leading up to the day…this result couldn’t have been more welcome. In the end…trust yourself…trust your abilities. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t ready or that you can’t do it. Prove them wrong. Chase your dreams!
I finally returned to an in-person half marathon – and it only seems fitting that it was a local one! Hello, Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. This year, however, the race looked a little different. Because of COVID, the course and the swag that the race offered.
Packet pickup remained the same…being held at Slugger Field. This was a good, open space that allowed people to not be crowded in on each other. That was nice. I wore a mask as it was an indoor space (despite having just been boosted earlier that week), but most people opted not to. And, for the first time in the history of EVER when attending this packet pickup…I had to stand in a line. Normally I can walk right up to a table and get my bib number, wristband, and shirt. It was fine. I actually knew a few of the ladies working the tables, so it was fun to catch up while they strapped a wristband for the after party on me and assigned a bib number.
This is where my first complaint came. I thought the second line at the merchandise tent was to pick up the race t-shirt. Except it turns out that this time, we were only getting a UBHM buff in lieu of a shirt. Shirts were there to purchase, with the option of getting a phrase screen printed onto it. But the line was long and I didn’t want to pay extra for a race shirt. I usually LOVE the shirts for this race…and I did love a few of the options hanging up, but not enough to pay extra. I know some people don’t want the shirt and medal these days…but they are both things I look forward to.
Another big change was the race course. Normally this race traverses downtown Louisville and takes you into the beautiful (and hella hilly) Cherokee Park, before returning you to downtown. This year, the course ran over the Big 4 Pedestrian Bridge and into Jeffersonville, Indiana. You ran down to the Falls of the Ohio, before turning and heading back to the bridge and coming back across into Kentucky. It was fine…but those last couple miles winding up and down the waterfront were terrible. And it was a super windy day, so being right on that water with the wind wasn’t fantastic either. But I’ll get into that a little later.
Race morning. I woke up early enough to get dressed and eat something ahead of time. Then I got on my Peloton app, and did a stretch with Becs Gentry and a 5 min pre-run warm up with Adrian Williams. Then I mixed up my Maurten 160, brushed my teeth, let my roommate pin my bib on, and we were out the door and on our way across the bridge to Louisville.
Parking was super easy, as there were many options that were near both the start and the finish. Once we were parked, we stayed in the car for a few minutes before heading out, as I had to meet both the local She Runs This Town (SRTT) and BibRave people for pre-race photos. It was so much fun standing around and meeting and talking to friends and new friends. It’s one of my favorite parts of race day. And it was then that I realized…
I really missed race days.
Once photos were taken, race start was getting close, so everyone scattered to get into the corrals. I walked the long way around (I was anticipating a 1:45 finish)…and went into the corrals from the back instead of the front. Whoops. But it was fine. People were spaced out enough that moving up in the corrals wasn’t anything like 2019…where I literally had to elbow my way up to a spot further up in the corrals. So, that was nice. The Churchill Downs bugle player played the national anthem and soon…the starting pistol was fired…and we were off.
The start of the race is pretty fast. It headed straight down East Main Street, taking you out of the downtown area toward the waterfront and to the pedestrian bridge. You are heading into Mile 2 when you make the spiral climb up the ramp on the Kentucky side of the bridge. When you reach the top, it’s a straight shot across the river. The mile marker for Mile 2 was early on the bridge. I actually uncovered my watch because I had passed it and it had been longer than I expected to hear my watch beep. But the rest of the mile markers were pretty spot on.
The Indiana part of the run was pretty straight forward, and really damn flat. YAY! In fact, a good chunk of it ran the 5K course I did awhile back (which I didn’t blog about…but here we are…). You basically turn and run parallel to the Ohio River until you turned around at the Falls of the Ohio visitor’s center. It was somewhere heading out that way that the leader of the race passed going the opposite direction. He had so much space behind him. Legit…daylight. I said something to the effect aloud to the people running near me, but they didn’t seem to care about my statement. LOL! When the loop to turn around happened, the fun really started. It was at this point that, with the sun blinding me, I got SO MANY shoutouts from my friends who were racing and heading to the turn around point. I couldn’t see any of them, but I waved and woooooo’d accordingly when someone shouted my name. It was such a highlight of this race. We looped through a different section of Jeffersonville and then headed back to the bridge. This was Mile 6. I fueled here and started up the ramp to the bridge once again.
Crossing the bridge was easy. You can’t get flatter than a pedestrian bridge. The legs recovered from the climb and settled in. I was looking forward to the descent down the winding side back into Louisville. Because if you know anything about me…it’s that I love downhills. Downhill is my favorite speed. The small crowd at the bottom of said descent was amazing. Someone shouted out my bib number and told me I looked strong. Over half the race was done. Settle in. Run strong.
From here, ran up a road that was mostly open to traffic, save for a lane made with cones for the runners to run safely in. We turned and headed back on a road we had previously run heading to the walking bridge. But this time we turned and made our way up a small hill to run past Lynn Family Stadium, home of Louisville’s two professional soccer teams, Louisville City FC, and Racing Louisville FC. I’m a season ticket holder…that’s a second home, it seems.
The next stretch of race was hopping onto the Beargrass Creek Greenway. This was a shaded section on a narrower path. It had been closed for awhile, so I hadn’t run it in YEARS. But I remember enjoying it in the summer because of all the shade on those hot morning runs. You come out of there and turn right and head down a straightaway toward Mile 10. I fueled one last time before the final 5K push to the finish.
This is where it got a little crazy. The last 3 miles were on the waterfront…but this made for some confusing turns (they were labeled with yellow arrow things on the ground, but legit, some ladies just ahead of me almost went the wrong way). And no one was at the point to really direct. But, we all got it sorted and started along the path. In these last 3.1 miles, there were a lot of 90 degree turns and even some loose gravely, bumpy path. That being said, the local SRTT (She Runs This Town) chapter had some ladies at the last water stop that created a fun scream tunnel as we all came into the last 1.5 miles. That was a much-needed and appreciated pick-me-up that late in the race. I still felt amazing…so, I plugged into the final miles and before I knew it, we were turning to run up a hill and start down the straightaway to 4th Street, where the finish line was.
The crowed at and near the finish was great…and I crossed feeling amazing still and smiling. I smiled so much, because I have missed doing endurance runs. I realized, as I saw the clock though, that I was much faster than my marathon pace, and had kept it pretty steady on the final half of the run. A nice volunteer put a medal around my neck and I went to meet Cathy, grab a Kind Bar and some water and head to the after party.
The band hadn’t started just yet, but there was pizza and beer. I can’t have either, so I gifted mine to Cathy. She gladly enjoyed both of those things. We headed back to see about getting my medal engraved and discovered that I had come in 2nd in my Age Group. I rarely place in races that are half marathon or marathon distances. So that was a nice surprise. With the medal engraved, I went to stand in line to buy a t-shirt, but then opted against it.
I was getting chilled just standing there in the wind, and we had some errands to run, so we left as the after party was starting up to hike back to the car. Honestly, the years I have done this and stuck around to enjoy more of the after party…it’s a fun time. It’s a great time to meet back up with friends post-race.
In the past, age group winners were given a custom bourbon-themed award. This year they were given a voucher to get something from the t-shirt booth. Since I didn’t stick around, I never got mine and I was going to say no one reached out to me about it. But this week, I received an email from the UBHM asking those who weren’t able to stick around for the awards to email them and they would get us in touch with someone at the company. They did that, and I am currently still waiting to hear back from Fine Design (the company that did the merchandise). So we shall see if I hear back.
So, my official results of the 2021 Urban Bourbon Half Marathon are that I finished in I finished in 1:41:09. I was definitely running it faster than my coach wanted me to, but I never felt like I was pushing it. I felt like it was comfortable and occasionally comfortably hard. Maybe I am fitter than my summer running made me believe. I was 146/1755 finishers overall. I was the 31/929 female finishers. And I was 2/251 in my age division (which went 41-50 and not the standard 5 years). Very proud of the way I ran this race and how I felt the entire time. I dialed in my nutrition and hydration and felt amazing the entire time. While I am kind of over the Kentucky/Indiana combo races, I get why I had to happen that way this year. I hope to return to a more traditional course next year. Fingers crossed.
I raced. I raced in a non-virtaul, real life, in person race!
It has, legit, been…19 months since I raced all out in any distance. It’s been 16 months since I participated in an in-person racing event. And, wow, have I ever missed it! I never got nervous or felt like I needed to prove myself to anyone. I just wanted to get out there and run hard and have fun. I never once stopped smiling. Even when it was 80° F out at the start. I knew going into this that this wasn’t PR weather…at least not for me. So I was just going to push myself more than I would if I were doing speed work on my own and hope for the best. So, yeah…I wore that smile the entire time.
While the race did offer an option for race-day packet pick up, it was encouraged that runners stop by the PNC Pavillion at Beckley Creek Park on Friday to make race day a little less hectic and easier for everyone. I ended up leaving work a little early on Friday to make this happen. It took about 30 minutes to get out there, but the packet pickup process was smooth and easy. Louisville Running Co Owner, Michael Clemons, recognized me on sight (Cathy said some things don’t change…people just know me in this area) and made the process super quick, writing my start time (I went with the first wave at 8 am, hoping to run with fast people and hopefully have the coolest temperatures of the morning at the start) on the back of my bib before handing me a t-shirt and an envelope with race information and some goodies from The Parklands. Got back into the car for the ride home, and of course ordered my Magic Sushi for dinner that night.
I had to wake up early on race morning to not only get into my race outfit and gear, but to bathe in some sunscreen as well. If you think I’m being sarcastic, guess again. I wear sunscreen every time I go out for a run in the daylight. I never get a Garmin tan line like many runners brag about in the summer because, let’s face it, tan skin is damaged skin. So, on went the sunscreen…and then I ate a little something with my vitamins and then got to stretching. My roommate woke up soon after I finished that up and ate her breakfast while I made her some coffee and then went to make a few minor changes to my running outfit for the day. I brushed my teeth. I went to grab a banana from the kitchen. My roommate grabbed the donkey race sign (IYKYK). And we were in the car and making the drive from home to Beckley Creek Park in The Parklands. We got there and had absolutely no trouble getting parked. I ate the banana and took…you guessed it…a power nap!
I did eventually have to get out of the car, shed the t-shirt I was wearing to keep from freezing in the car air conditioning, and get a little acclimated to the outdoor temps that morning. We had about 15 or so minutes until the start of my wave. I should probably mention that the race was using a wave start, so a wave of up to 40 runners would go off every 5 minutes. Cathy and I went to look at the start and finish area so that she could get an idea of where she wanted to stand for the start and finish. While we were waiting, my friend Dennis, who talked me into doing this 5K, arrived. He was starting at 8:15 so he got to see me start and I got to see him finish. As I said, because of the heat and humidity that morning, I didn’t have an specific time goals, but told Cathy I would be happy if I came in around 23 minutes (my 5K PR was set in 2013 at the Pro.Active for Life 5K in Frankfort, KY).
Cathy suddenly alerted me that it was almost time for my wave to go off. I didn’t even realize how close to the start time it was. I still had to turn on my Garmin and get it ready to go. Luckily, it found it’s satellites pretty quickly. They made the call for the 8 am wave to line up on the left hand side of the street (making sure we understood that we were running out on the left hand side and returning on the left hand side). Michael Clemons went to get on the bike to lead the first wave out on the course. And the countdown from 5 seconds started, the horn blared, and we were off!
I legit just went for it at the start. I bounded over that start line and focused on just pushing myself. I knew I was going to be running with a lot of very fast, very talented people. I also know, from pacing a race that started in this park, that we have a few bridges that come at us in the form of hills, that aren’t exactly easy climbs. But I’ve also been running hills on pretty much every run I go on in training. There is no avoiding them around here, to be honest. I felt strong and confident and ready to just leave it all out there. I rounded the corner and was greeted with that very first hill. They do slow me down, but I kept pushing, because my specialty is, and will always be, that downhill. I gained some ground there and kept my feet turning over as much as I could. The second hill came in this first mile as well. There was a water stop at the crest of it, but I powered through, hitting that downhill and cruising through the first mile. I was slower than I had hoped to be at that point (I didn’t know until after the race because I don’t look at my watch…because I’ll stress out if I do), but I wasn’t dying in the heat. The run out to the turn around point was without shade, but it felt flat. I made the tight turn and started back toward the start. Halfway through.
It was fun to see the runners coming up onto the turn around point because we could cheer each other on. I knew that once I got back up the hill to the water stop, that we had to hop off the asphalt and onto the concrete of the Louisville Loop. I crested the hill, feeling the heat and fatigue setting in. But it was down a hill. And right at the Mile 2 marker, I passed the woman who was right in front of me. Did I mention that I love a good downhill? I figured she would catch me when things flattened out, but I never saw her again after that. I just focused on following the guy in front of me as we pounded down the concrete and baked in the hot sun.
One more hill. I struggled on this one. But I got up it and came down the other end, passing the guy that had been in front of me as I did so. Downhills are my jam! I turned the corner to head into the finish line. Cathy was screaming at me to run. I could hear the guy I just passed at the Mile 3 sign trying to get past me again. I don’t like getting outkicked at the finish line. It happens to me a lot because I usually just don’t have that finisher’s kick. But I found one more gear and managed to hit that finish line just before he did. Arms up in the air. Still smiling.
I got my finisher’s medal and went to drink some water while waiting for Dennis to finish. He knew the heat was going to be a factor today, but he was going to go for a PR anyway. I love that about Dennis. He will always just run as hard and fast as he can for as long as he can. No fear. No worries. It seems so easy for him. I envy that. I got to ring a cow bell as he came into the finish, not sub-22, but still sub-23. Win!
So, my official results of The Parklands 5K Walk & Run are that I finished in I finished in 23:10. I was 26/438 finishers overall. I was the 6/240 female finishers. And I was 2/27 in my age division. I couldn’t wait around that morning for the age group awards, so I’ll have to go and pick mine up next week at Fleet Feet. This was a good return to racing for me. This was a good confidence builder.
I can’t wait to do it again! And do it faster next time. I know I’m older. I know I have a problematic hip at times (thanks hip labrum tear in 2015). But I know I can get a PR in some distance this year. It’s time some of those old records fall.
For the first time in forever, Louisville, Ky. served up perfect temperatures for a Hot Chocolate race. While this year was virtual, again, it didn’t make the experience any less fun. While some people are going through “virtual race burnout,” I am quite the opposite. I was a fan of virtual races before they became the norm. And one of the biggest pluses of signing up for the AllState Hot Chocolate Louisville Virtual 15K/5K race is…that since that it is part of Louisville’s very own Triple Crown of Running…you got three races for the price of one. As a bargain shopper…this was winning.
So, in the weeks leading up to the April 3 race day, I also ran the 5K Fitness Classic and the City Run 10K. Any virtual race that I participate in is normally treated like a training run…and these were no different. However, when the 15K rolled around yesterday morning, my coach decided to let me run the first 10K however I wanted to…but that last 5K he wanted me to push the pace a little bit and speed up. He’s been on a “run faster at the end” kick. I don’t know if I like that or not. HA!
A few weeks before the big day, I received my race packet in the mail. This contained my Triple Crown of Running t-shirt, hat and medal…along with the amazing swag that the AllState Hot Chocolate races provide. This year…a nice jacket (with a removable hood and LOTS of zippered pockets), a medal, a Nuun tablet, race bib, chocolate, and the ever-important double chocolate hot chocolate packets. If you have never had this hot chocolate, you’re missing out. The race fee is worth it just for those little packets of chocolatey goodness. Trust me. It’s my absolute favorite. And with a starting temperature of 28 degrees…the perfect weather for a hot chocolate finish line treat.
My race morning went well. After spending some time with the foam roller and a pre-run warm up, I laced up my shoes, donned my hydration pack, and headed out the door with no route in mind. This worked out great to start with. Since I was just making it up as I went, I enjoyed the peaceful, cold morning weaving through the streets of my neighborhood. But, because I went into this without having mapped out a course, my fast finish 5K at the end of the 15K run…were on hills. Whoops. But, for having to navigate some steep climbs, I was pretty pleased with my overall performance for this virtual race.
Once I was done, back home, I popped a piece of chocolate and made myself a hot cup of that hot chocolate (and added some vegan marshmallows for good measure). This was a pretty big training week for me since getting back with my coach. I didn’t mind it. By breaking up the race, it really helped me have a fun and enjoyable time…even if I was in my own neck of the woods, and not downtown Louisville. Next year!
Never count a virtual race out. The AllState Hot Chocolate 15K/5K people really know how to give you an experience without it being the full experience. I can’t wait to be able to safely race with large groups of people again…and really test these legs for some speed and endurance. I’m very proud of the work I put in yesterday though to earn my hot chocolate medal…and the actual hot chocolate, of course.
Will run for chocolate. Always. Forever. Even virtually.
Thanks for another great year of virtually racing this series! I’ll be hitting those Louisville streets next year for sure!
Well, during all this quarantine time, I have finally gotten around to writing about the final race that I ran before everything shut down. It was the first leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, which had been saved from extinction and re-branded with a new company overseeing it. The City Run 10K and the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K would both be moved to virtual races during the pandemic.
Covid-19 really messed up this year’s race plans.
If you read my blog on the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon, you know that I was working my way back from another hip issue (it’s always my hips). I had physical therapy the day before, but was cleared to run this however I wanted to…but carefully. I knew my friend, Melissa, was signed up to run with one (no husband or baby in tow)…so I asked if she wanted someone to run with that morning. I would go at her pace…and hopefully help to motivate her all the way to the finish line. I love when I get to run with my friends, and maybe even help them reach their goals.
Cathy and I woke up early that morning to eat breakfast and dress warmly (it was C-O-L-D) for the run. I, once again, decided to deck out in my BibRave gear (this time the 1/4 zip top…because again…COLD) and found some fun leggings to wear that morning that were also warm. I have a few with lining in it…so…I went with one of those.
We headed out and went to pick up Melissa to drive into Louisville, find a parking spot, and get to the start line. We managed to do all of that without too much hassle. I was wearing my MRTT/SRTT jacket before the race and a member of the group came up and said she’d just walk with us as she was a part of the group too and was trying to get to where the picture was being taken. We told her we would probably not get to the photo op in time…so instead we just took a photo together. She went to go find her friends and Melissa and I got called over by our friends, Chris and Christy. YAY!
Christy asked how fast I intended to run this course, and I told her that I was racing with Melissa that morning. We hopped into a corral…shed our extra clothing…listened to the national anthem…and waited to be sent off. And when we were…I fell right in step with Melissa.
She was on a mission that first mile. We blazed up East Market, but the bitter air really hit us when we rounded the corner onto S Brook Street. It was here my neighbor, friend, and sometimes training buddy, Kristi Roach, saw me in the crowd and said HI. I had a short conversation with her and turned around to find Melissa behind me, having a hard time breathing as the sudden rush of cold air to her lungs kicked off some asthma. YIKES! We eased it back to see if she could get her lungs to respond and get acclimated. We still managed a decent first mile…even with the slow down to wave and thank Course Marshal Stephanie heading into the first mile marker.
We hit it, and we took a short walk break to let her catch her breath and get those lungs expanding. It wasn’t a long walk, and when she was ready, we picked it back up and started in on our second mile. I could already tell the walk break did her good, because she was looking so much stronger and better afterwards. I let her know that, and apparently a homeless man on the side of the road told her I was lying. Dude! Whatever!! Honestly, she pushed back and came back and was doing awesome. I spotted the water stop just ahead of Mile 2 and asked if she wanted water. She nodded and I ran up ahead to snag a cup for each of us and passed it off to her. We took a short water stop walk, and when we were done, we were back on.
We hit the second mile and now we were into the home stretch. One more mile to go. This was a new course for this race, so I had no idea where we were going…I was just following everyone else. As we always do, we took our final walk break at the mile marker just to attempt to get lungs working in Louisville’s polluted city air. When Melissa was ready…we were back on.
Unfortunately, it was here that a course marshal said, “That’s it…walk it in.” Melissa said, “Nope…just on a walk break!” And the course marshal said, “OH…I’m an interval runner too.” MEH! How about not making any comments on whether people are running or walking, and simply just encouraging them to get to that finish line.
We made the turn onto the final stretch. Here I heard music behind me and turned to see Melissa Joyce!! So I went and said “HI” and told her she looked great. I rejoined my running best friend, Melissa, and we hit that final stretch hard. We hit Mile 3 and she glanced at her watch and got a little upset that she didn’t hit a goal she had set, but she put it behind her and we took it into the finish line together. I think she beat me by a second.
We made our way through the finisher’s area, getting our medal and our free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, which we gave to Cathy for breakfast. They were out of coffee, so we didn’t get that for ourselves…but we tried.
I did get to meet up with Stephanie and another BibRave Pro who was visiting (and not racing) and got to chat for a little while. But it was still cold, and Melissa needed to get home to her family…so we eventually made our way back to the car, which we parked at Slugger Field. We took some photos together before calling it a day and taking her home.
This was a fun and flat course, so I know a lot of people got PRs. Hopefully, racing will restart at some point and maybe next year, both Melissa and I can hit our own PRs. We’ll just need the weather and our bodies to cooperate a little more. But, I couldn’t have imagined running this race any differently, even if it ended up being my last in-person event before the shutdown. Being with my friend and seeing her from start to finish was the perfect way to do this race. Sometimes, we run for ourselves. Sometimes we run for others. Sometimes we run with others. I was proud and happy to have been able to run with one with Melissa.
So, my official results of the Chick-Fil-A 5K Fitness Classic are that I finished in I finished in 39:51. I was 2868/3846 finishers overall. I was the 1458/2196 female finishers. And I was 238/338 in my age division. I can’t wait to take on this flat and fast course again next year.