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!
Just over two weeks ago, with the help of her family, I was able to surprise my best friend since third grade for her 40th birthday!
Because, let’s face it…40 is one of the big ones and should be celebrated!
Heather…should be celebrated!
First of all, if you have been reading my blog, you probably have some idea of who Heather is. She is one of my loudest friends. AND…one of my biggest cheerleaders. While she can’t make it to every race, she has been at most of the big ones and the important ones. And when she’s not…she’s tracking me and screaming at me from Minnesota. Because that’s Heather. A ride or die to the end.
So, when the opportunity arose to give her a great 40th birthday…I couldn’t pass it up!
It all started with a plan, hatched by her brother and her parents. The plan was to fly up to Minnesota the Friday of her birthday weekend (her birthday fell on a Saturday)…arriving early so that Chad, her brother, could pick me up at the airport prior to coming by the house. He had told her to take the day off of work because they were going to do something together that day. The night before, Chad and I made the last minute plans for airport pickup (basically I told him when my flight would be there and he sent a picture of his truck…complete with snow in the background!!).
Went to bed early. Got up super early to fit in the last training run for that week. I was taking the rest of the weekend off because it should be all about Heather…and running in January in Minnesota sounds awful. HA! BUT…I didn’t post my usual Instagram stories that morning. I acted like it was my usual rest day and I was sleeping in and just gearing up for a regular work day. I even put on clothes that looked like work clothes. The things we do to surprise our friends.
My roommate got up 2 hours earlier than usual to drive me to the airport. I got there right as security was opening and I could stroll right up because I just had a carry-on with me this time. I killed a lot of time walking the hall (there is only one) connecting the terminals in Louisville…but when my plane was set to board…I was happy to be one of the first groups to get on the plane. I even had an exit row seat so a bit more leg room to boot. And at 6:32 am…the plane pushed back and we took off to Minneapolis!
The flight went fast. We were given drinks (I had water…but coffee was tempting) and Delta has KIND bars (WOOT…GLUTEN FREE!) to snack on. Which was good, because I had eaten breakfast after my run and shower…so around 3:30 am. It turns out, my pilots speed (just kidding…I think we had a tailwind), because we landed in Minneapolis WAY ahead of schedule. Like at least 30 minute early. I got off the plane and called Chad…who was getting his car washed, putting gas in his car, and having to navigate traffic. BUT…I walked the terminal and went down to baggage claim and put on a jacket…and waited for his truck to pull up to pick me up.
He showed up, came around to give me a hug and put my suitcase in the back…and we were off!
Chad came up with the way it would all play out. He would park his truck and while he went inside through the garage (the normal way)…I would wait outside for two minutes…and then ring the doorbell. In his conversation he would then say, “Heather, you better get the door…that’s your birthday present.”
And…that’s what we did.
Never in my life have I been hauled into a house and hugged so hard.
She was so surprised. And that was the whole point. We hauled my luggage inside and she offered me very necessary coffee. Caribou Coffee at that. If you know me…you know I love Caribou Coffee…but all the places nearby that had it turned into Peet’s Coffee. And it’s not the same. Minnesota still has Caribou Coffee.
We sat around the house for a bit…drank coffee…and then she went and got herself ready. And we were off. To The Mall of America.
We did a lot of walking there. OH…and hit up Caribou Coffee for some non-caffeinated goodness. We shopped. We discovered there was a pop-up Third Love store (yes…the bras that are advertised on all the podcasts) so we went and tried those on. She changed out jeans at Macy’s. We just had a good time. OH…and we grabbed lunch at Twin City Grill at the Mall of America. I had a salad. They were prepared to make me a burger with a gluten-free bun…but they didn’t have a vegetarian/vegan option. No Impossible Burger…no Beyond Burger…but I love salads and got their Garden Salad. I asked for no cheese. They left the cheese on. I took a Lactaid…it was fine. Heather got the Baja Burger with the famous (I wish they had been gluten free) Salt ‘N Vinegar Fries.
While we were at the mall, I had called my 98 year old grandpa and left him a message to let him know I was in town and would LOVE to stop by. He was in water aerobics at the time (you read that right…my grandpa is the BEST!), but he called me back and said he’d be home the rest of the afternoon. Heather totally remembered where he lived, which is typical Heather, and got us there without using a GPS. BONUS…my Aunt Jan was home early from work. We settled down in the living room to chat for a bit…and just had a great time getting caught up. I couldn’t stop smiling. I made sure to snap some photos before we had to hit the road back to Heather’s home.
Her parents wanted to go out to eat so Heather recalled seeing some gluten-free options at one of their favorite places, Tavern 4 & 5. I got their Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl (gluten free meant NO plum sauce). So it was a bowl of quinoa, “power” greens salad, fresh steamed chef’s choice of vegetable from the local farmers, and the protein – in my case the Tofu. Heather got one too…which is how we knew the original plate that came out to me came with the plum sauce…so we had to send it back and have it remade…which they did. And the food was delicious.
We returned back to the house…and Heather made this ginger drink with gluten free vodka and we went down to the basement where she started me on some of her favorite Hallmark Christmas movies. This bit of information will come in play later. I had been up since 1:30 that morning…and I was starting to drift off…so I went to my room, posted my Instagram stories I saved until Heather knew I was there…and went to sleep.
The following morning, I woke up to use the bathroom….play on my phone…go back to sleep…and then finally emerge.
It was decided, by the birthday girl herself, that we (Heather, me, Chad, Chelsea (her
sister-in-law), and the three kiddliewinks) would all meet up at a local ice skating rink (it’s Minnesota and outside, mind you!) to skate for maybe an hour on the big day. I was a bit nervous about it. First of all, I hadn’t been on the ice for 10 years (the last time I skated was on top of a department store in Dublin, Ireland). Secondly, I would be using rental skates. Third…I’m a marathon runner and while I’m sort of in a down season at the moment…for years I have avoided situations where I might do any sort of damage to myself accidentally.
I figured, if nothing else, I could stick close to the wall, get a feel for the ice…and maybe make a round or five before heading to the warming house and just hanging until everyone else was done.
After a delicious “build-your-own” omlette breakfast, compliments of Heather’s mom…we started to layer up and get ready to head out to the ice rink we would be skating at that day. We would be meting Chad, Chelsea, and the kids there.
We all set out and I very timidly stepped out onto the ice. And my first thought was, “Man…if I get hurt, Daniel is going to kill me!” Daniel, for any new readers, is my running coach. BUT…I slowly minced my way around the patchy ice, slowly being able to find a bit more of a glide and getting a bit more comfortable with it. Heather and I took a few photos after my second or third trip around…and then she took off with my camera to film a lap.
And that’s when things went terribly wrong.
I came skating around a turn and found her laying on the ice gripping her arm. She was hurting. BAD! She told her nephew to go get Chad and soon, Chad was on his way…getting her up off the ice and having her sit down so he could assess everything. Heather has an amazing family to support and love on her. Honestly. Chad helped her skate off the ice. When the medical staff came running and saying they called an ambulance, he had them call that off…there were plenty of us there who could take her to urgent care. He got her settled into the warming building and helped get her out of her hoodie. He had her move her arm. And all of this had to have been super painful for Heather. And she gritted her teeth and did it. A staff medial member came over with a sheet to inquire about the accident, which Chelsea went ahead and took from him and filled out with a little help from Heather.
Chelsea also went up to the snack bar to get a water and a Powerade for Heather to have to drink. I went with her and gave her a little hug. It was just not the birthday celebration any of us were anticipating that morning. We did pack up everything while Chad went to go grab Heather’s car. We carried everything out, got Heather into the passenger seat, and Chad drove Heather and I to Urgent Care. He dropped us off at the front door so he could park the car, and I walked her in, got her insurance card and ID out, filled out the paperwork, and returned it just a moment before she was called back. Chad joined us right then. Good timing.
The nurse had her up on the table to start with…but after sitting there for a long amount of time, and having Chad move to block the mirror so she couldn’t see her elbow, Heather eventually worked her way down to the chair. They did bring in an ice pack and some pain meds for her, which she took and I helped hold the ice pack for her.
The doctor came in to take a look at it and just sort of give a surface inspection of it. He ordered X-Rays, but we needed to wait for the pain meds to kick in. So, we did that. And about 20 minutes later, they came and got her to take her back for the X-Rays. Chad and I chilled in the exam room until they brought her back. She made herself comfortable in the chair again and we awaited the doctor again. He came in shortly after and pulled up the images…starting with the back of her arm. It didn’t look bad at that angle. THEN…he flipped to the side view.
We all winced a little and went…”OOOOOH!” It was a VERY obvious break. Very obvious. But it was a clean break…not a shatter…so that was the good news. The doctor went to see if his surgeon had called back, because this would definitely entail surgery. When he did return with the news…surgery was necessary…but not that day. It could wait until after the weekend and they would split her up and give her a prescription to help with the pain…and she would have a surgical consult on Monday morning.
Heather was very worried about what this would mean for her and her job as far as being able to do it. Chad and I told her not to worry about that right now. He went to pull the car around and I went to help her get out to the car safely, in the process dropping my phone at least 3 times. It made her laugh…a little. We then made our way to Walgreens to pick up the prescription and a cast protector so that she could take a shower. And then…we went home.
THE OTHER SURPRISE
As if having a broken elbow on your birthday wasn’t enough of a shock to the system…the next element of Operation Heather Turns 40 was announced…just so that she would know what was coming. All the family and friends who could be there were coming that evening to celebrate. So, Heather went to settle into a bed to chill and get a feel for the splint and the occasional bolt of pain that would hit. We started upstairs, but eventually made our way downstairs, letting her get comfortable on her own bed, stacking up pillows as needed and making sure she was set. I settled in on the other side and we watched a lot of Laura Osnes Videos. And maybe another Hallmark Movie. Perhaps. I don’t remember. If you don’t know who Laura Osnes is…you were like me, but prepare to look into her. She’s amazing. She’s a Broadway star…she was in the musical Cinderella, Bonnie & Clyde, and others. And her voice is AMAZING. She’s very talented. It’s what Heather needed…until we needed to get her ready for the party.
I helped her change her shirt. Her mom helped her curl her hair and do her makeup. And when she was ready…we got her upstairs and got her settled on the couch with her arm propped. Everyone arrived. It was a great time. Everyone got to have time with Heather and I got to meet SO many people who told me that they had heard a lot about me or seen my photo on Facebook. I was having a good time. Between Chelsea and I, we were making sure Heather had food, cake, and something to drink. Chelsea was even kind enough to pick up a gluten-free cake for me to have as well so I could be part of the celebration. Told you…her family is amazing. AND…even though I’m a vegetarian, they had PLENTY of options for me to choose from as well. I hadn’t eaten lunch that day (I was going to have a salad once Heather got settled in…but I totally didn’t get around to it and by the time I remembered it was party time anyway), so I feasted on LOTS of veggies, a potato, and some chips with a plant-based dip. It was awesome. And…of course…cake.
Gifts were opened. Lots of different discussions were happening. And Heather was smiling. And after all she had gone through that day…that’s the best thing ever!
As the party was winding down and everyone started to leave, I got Heather downstairs and settled in and went to go take a shower. We watched a Hallmark Christmas Movie until she started to fade. I set her up with a cowbell to ring if she needed me and made sure she had water, her medicine, and whatever else nearby. She never rang the bell all night.
TIME TO GO
Sunday morning was really laid back. I woke up around 5 and Heather woke up when she heard me moving around. I went to keep her company for a bit. She dozed in and out as we watched a few more Hallmark Movies…until she needed to get up. We went upstairs where I brewed coffee and her mom made us a breakfast out of leftovers. I made sure I had my stuff packed after I changed out of my pajamas.
Heather went to go take a shower and I helped out by sorting her laundry for laundry day. I moved everything into the laundry room and then went back upstairs to hang out for a little bit. Her mom made an early dinner for me and soon they were packing up the car and taking me to the airport. There were absolutely NO lines at security, so I had some time to walk the terminals, get some chocolate, buy some local treats, and grab my last cup of (decaf) Caribou Coffee.
I boarded the flight and headed home at 8:30 pm. I got into Louisville before midnight and Cathy was there to pick me up and drive us home.
This was definitely not the trip any of us envisioned when we plotted it all out…but Heather sure does know how to keep things interesting, right?
For the record, she had a successful surgery where they inserted a pin. This week, she was put in a removable splint and has started physical therapy. AND…she has finally gotten out of the house to go out to eat. She’s well on her way to a full recovery.
But…I did tell her that we need a do-over for sure!
It’s taper…but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I’m still around 50 miles this week. Not unusual, to be honest. This was about what happened when I ran Glass City Marathon back in April. I told you…my coach is very untraditional when it comes to the actual taper leading into a marathon. That being said, mileage did go DOWN from last week…so it is technically a taper, right?
This week was crazy. Lots of rearranging due to events and/or weather. Tuesday night I was out late at the KFC Yum! Center seeing Celine Dion perform. So I flipped speed work to Thursday. Saturday’s weather was calling for TONS of rains (up to 3 inches) and some strong wind gusts…so I flipped my long run to Sunday. So, structure isn’t a thing this week. This week, it was all about fitting it all in. October has been a crazy month and we are now two weeks out from the big day. I need things to slow down a little.
Let’s take a look at the 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.
After last week’s hellish week of speed, I was thankful that Monday showed up as a choose your own adventure run. That is…I choose the distance and the pace…depending on how I feel and what I want to do. I always appreciate these runs. No pressure to put in any sort of long run. I could stop at 1 mile…I never go over 5. I was thankful for the recovery day and just let me legs do what the wanted and needed that day. Kept my watch covered and just paid attention to if/when I was struggling with hills or feeling like I needed to stop. It was just what I needed and I was happy that this turned, allowing me to not have to think about my run. Just plug in and go. I ended up with 5 that morning, as I felt good and the temperatures seemed just perfect. Low to mid 50s…that’s a happy place for me. I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches this morning as well. AND…I had a personal training session with Corey, focusing on legs. It was a busy and full day, but thankfully the run felt good.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
Tuesday morning brought one of the speed elements I was given this week, but thankfully, it’s the least intimidating. Strides. My run was to be kept at my base pace, not really pushing it but keeping it where my rhythm naturally falls. It was almost 60 degrees this morning, so I was back in a tank top and loving it. I ran 7.5 miles without issue, keeping it around my usual base pace (sometimes faster, it just depends on hills). And I felt amazing. I added on the strides at the end, and my legs felt fast and strong as I pushed through 6 of them. That was 8 miles total for the morning. And after my shower, I went ahead and did my next round of hip strengtheners with my stretches. Got through the work day, ate dinner, and headed out to the Celine Dion concert in Louisville. The show was great…and I got home late. That being said, it wasn’t yet midnight (I got in bed at 11 pm), so I didn’t have to get out and run my miles before bed for Wednesday. And I set a later alarm, knowing that I didn’t have my big (and high mileage) speed work that following day anymore. Thank God for a flexible coach and schedule. I slept really well, surprisingly…just not enough despite a later (by about an hour) alarm.
Wednesday: 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.
From tank top to sleeves. Wednesday morning, I headed out to run just after 4:30 am. Thankful for the change to an easy, recovery run, I was hoping to at least get 3 miles in. I would let my legs and body tell me what I had in me. It was 41 degrees, but felt like 39. That was a big change from the 60 degrees the previous morning. I started off nice and easy and, while I felt tired this morning, my legs apparently felt good. I was a little surprised by the overall pace when I uncovered my watch at the end of my run. I never pushed pace, or even worked hard on the hills. Recovery is very important and even I take recovery runs seriously. Since it all felt so fluid and good that morning, I went ahead and did 5 miles. After a shower, I did my stretches twice…and then later that evening, after work and dinner, I went and got a sports massage…which I felt I really needed! I went right to bed when I got home because the second speed element was in my track workout (that I don’t do on a track) the following morning.
Thursday: TRACK WORKOUT: 1 MILE WU; 10X800M (GOAL: 3:30 OR ~7 MIN PACE) W/ EQUAL RECOVERY (AT A JOG, NOT WALKING), 1 MILE CD
It had been a full two days since I had an actual foam rolling session. Granted, I did get a sports massage the night before, but when I stepped out (back in short sleeves because the temperature was in the mid-40s), I really knew I needed to get some good foam rolling in after this. I won’t lie, 800s are my LEAST favorite speed workout. Seriously. I feel like they take forever to actually run (even though, for me, it’s close to 3:30 minutes…but that’s an eternity, honestly). I don’t have a track nearby or open to the public…so I use a stretch of road and just run up and down it. My warmup was nice and easy, followed by some dynamic stretches (high knees and butt kicks) before I launched into all TEN…TEN!! of my 800s that morning. I could feel how each one was becoming harder and harder to hit, but I actually managed to keep the prescribed pace and never was slower than Daniel wanted me to aim for. So, that was good. In fact, before I could even fill in the comments on the training app we use, he was already commenting on how I nailed this one. It was a good feeling. So was finishing this up. Because I really was not loving the speed work. The cool down mile gave me 12 total for the day, 10 of which were the run/jog intervals. I really made sure I kept it at a light jog, so I could feel recovered enough to push on every interval that followed. I succeeded. I stretched that morning and later that night went on a 5 mile run (doing the Thanksgiving route) with my friend Melissa. It had been forever since we had run together and, she really wanted to do this route WITH me. I don’t get invited to run with people often, and I don’t care if you run slower than me or not, I love running with people. We kept this at a very, very easy pace because we both needed it that way. After I downed a bagel for dinner, I stretched again and FINALLY got in some foam rolling. I went to bed, setting a late alarm because my rest day was coming.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I was definitely sleeping better this week than I had been in the previous weeks. So, that’s an improvement. That being said, I woke up a full hour before my alarm. I tried to lounge in bed and doze, but I was awake. So…I got up, showered, did my stretches, got ready for work, ate breakfast, had coffee, survived the workday, came home for dinner. My coach and my training partner opted to move my long run to Sunday due to the weather on Saturday…so I wasn’t feeling pressed for time. I started a new season of Top Chef (I’m on the season in Boston, ironically), went to bed, setting a later alarm once again because I knew I was either going to do a short run in a gentle rain, or head to the gym to use the treadmill if it was a harder rain. At this point in the game, I’m 2 weeks out from my goal race…why risk slipping on wet leaves or pavement, twisting an ankle in a pothole that I thought was a puddle, or putting my immune system to the test in inclement weather? Not worth it. I’d make the call in the morning.
Saturday: 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.
Well, it was pouring when I woke up. It was. But I still had some time to make the decision. I got over 9 hours of sleep, so I was feeling rested and ready, regardless. I went ahead and did my stretches and hydrated. I stepped outside, and it was still a steady rain, so I decided that, the best thing for ME to do, was to do this easy, recovery run inside. On the treadmill. You guys know I’m not a fan of the treadmill, but this was definitely the right choice. I know a lot of people who were training and/or racing out in the weather, and that’s fine. I don’t risk anything this close to race day. And while it is possible it could rain on November 9…I have run and raced in the rain before. And the training ground is NOT my proving ground and never will be. I went to the gym and did a very easy pace (with a 1% incline) for 5 miles. I forgot to set the incline at first, and my shins were killing me. I was really confused and then I figured that out. Sometimes a flat treadmill works best, sometimes that additional incline works magic. I needed it today. Honestly, I really kept an easy pace…probably easier than I would have done if I had been outside. And that was the entire purpose of this run. I went home afterwards, ate a big breakfast that my roommate prepared for me. Then went grocery shopping. Came home, prepared my breakfast to eat before my long run on Sunday…watched some soccer and rugby…and then went out to Dragon King’s Daughter for my “magic sushi” as my long run was tomorrow. The playoffs for the Eastern Conference Finals were happening at Slugger Field tonight, but with the rain, despite having paid for the tickets, we bowed out. Sitting in the rain and strong winds just didn’t sound appealing at all. I went to bed early…hoping our soccer team pulled off a win…and preparing for my long run, most of which, thankfully, I’d have some company for.
Sunday: 14-18 MILE LONG RUN – GOAL 16 MILES – WITH 3 MILE RACE PACE FINISH: EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE DAY FUELING STRATEGY. AT THE END, CLIMB DOWN TO RACE PACE FOR 3-4 MILES.
With the whole intention of tapering down, I could have easily have gone on the higher end and pushed 18 miles. But I honestly felt the goal of 16 was enough for this week. And, thankfully, my training partner was free both days this weekend, so when we flipped to the better weather of Sunday from Saturday’s lousy weather…he was still able to join me and help me with my last push at the end. I ended up getting up at 5 am. This gave me time to stretch, do my pushups, eat breakfast, foam roll, get dressed, put on sunscreen, fuel, pack up my hydration vest, put on reflective gear, and head out the door at 7:20 am…without feeling rushed. And I still had over 8 hours of sleep the night before. I ran from my apartment down to the YMCA, where Ron was going to meet me. I had 4 miles down there, and Ron showed up (a little late thanks to crazy road closures and traffic) and we headed out. We kept the pace pretty easy on the 6 miles down the Greenway…which felt fast because we had this great tailwind. BUT…this also meant when we turned around to head back (and do the fast finish) we’d have a headwind. We eased into it…and both decided to just do the 3 miles fast at the end. We hit it and Ron was amazing at keeping me on pace and making sure I didn’t push too much when I didn’t need to. It felt easy having someone worry about the pace for me…and he’s really good at it. We needed to beat a train, so the last .1 of our run was up a hill, but we were at or just slightly faster than my marathon pace. Spirits lifted. Feeling so good. He was kind enough to give me a lift home afterwards.
So…we’re 13 days away from the official start of the Monumental Marathon…and with every run I’m growing in confidence and feeling more and more ready. That’s the whole point of taper.
And, to be honest, I’m hoping that the miles go down a lot more this week…but we shall see what my coach has in store. I trust him. It trust the process. And for the first time in a long time…I trust my training.
Sometimes the race isn’t about who crosses that finish line first. Sometimes the race is surviving. Thriving. Proving that there is life after breast cancer.
If you ever want to feel uplifted by the strength of the human spirit…do one of these events.
I ran the Race for the Cure back in 2011, when I was new-ish to running. My mom and dad were visiting and they got to see me run across that finish line. It was the first time they ever got to see me run. And my mom said to me, “Baby, you don’t run…you fly.” I ran that year to honor my my friend’s mom. Back then, it was an officially timed event. This year…there was a clock, but unless you were a survivor…your bib strictly gave the year…2019.
In case you are new to the blog, my mom, Dottie, was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January. She’s been through chemo and radiation, and will be finishing up this round of chemo in late January. Her journey hasn’t been easy. She’s had good days, bad days, good months, bad months, bad side effects, people who cut her out of their lives as the treatments took their toll on her. But through the entire process, she’s been positive, kept a good attitude, and just done everything in her power to look on the bright side…even when there wasn’t a lot of good happening.
So, when I saw that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was happening on a weekend where I could slide it into my training schedule, I decided to put together a team who could run not just for my mom, but to honor those they know who have battled through breast cancer, and maybe those at the race who are survivors or still in the midst of their battle.
Guys…I have amazing people in my life, because I had a lot of people sign up to run for my team: The Brady Bunch.
This is also where I give a big shout-out to Kelly, because she picked up packets for everyone at Oxmoor while she was there. That saved me a trip and made it SO easy on race day. So…get yourself a friend like Kelly. Or meet Kelly. Because she’s the best.
Normally before a race, I would get my vegan sushi combo that has been working for me this training cycle…but…I also had a 22 mile run on Sunday, which I figured would be the better option for that. And, since we were meeting up with my roomie’s sister, Amanda, to go to the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park (TRADITION), we went out to our favorite Indian restaurant in Louisville – Shalimar. I got the usual (since my run was short and not long) of Broccoli Masala. Extra spicy. My favorite. Then it was off to get hot apple cider at Highland Coffee and head to Iroquois Park, where we had kettle corn while waiting for our time to head into the path with all the pumpkins.
This did make for a late night, and I went to bed the moment we got home because I had to get up early enough to stretch and figure out what I was going to wear. A front moved through with the rain overnight, so we suddenly were plunged into the 30s in the morning. My original plan to wear shorts was tossed out the window. But, our theme for our team was wear something pink (of course), green (my mom’s favorite color), and/or something with polka dots (since my mom’s name is Dottie). And I happened to have a pair of green leggings with polka dots on them. I had bought some pink compression sleeves that had polka dots on them. I had a pink short sleeve shirt. Green arm warmers. And pink gloves. I even had a Bondi Band with polka dots on it. I was covered. So, I got dressed and made sure I had my anklet on and my hair pulled up in proper pigtails (with pink and green hair extensions, naturally). I ate a quick breakfast of gluten free cereal (short race) and my roomie (also running, so no cheer squad and finish line photo for me) and I headed out the door to get to Cardinal Stadium.
Remember…it was cold outside. So, Cathy and I basically hung out in the car for as long as we could (we got their earlier than expected). My runner’s metabolism kicked in, because suddenly I was starving and I had over an hour until race time. I knew I should have brought backup. We got out of the car and donned some trash bags to insulate. Then, we meandered our way toward the team meet-up spot…Gate 4…which just happened to be near the start/finish and the stage. We were there for about 10 minutes, and then, one-by-one, my team started to arrive. Kelly and Elizabeth arrived, toting the bags with bibs and shirts. Then Tiffany and Kaleigh arrived as well. Dennis was the last one to arrive (we had more people registered, but other commitments and/or sickness took some out at the last minute). We wrangled everyone together for a group picture, then Dennis went to go warm up and the rest of us watched some of the Parade of Hope (Survivor’s Parade). The national anthem was sung, and all runners and walkers lined up to await the 9 am start of the race. As I was standing near the front, a woman (definitely a survivor) looked over at me and said, “Are you a runner? Are you running this?” I said, “Yes ma’am.” And she said, “Run for me.”
We had a fun countdown from 10 seconds to go…and then we were all off. I was only under orders to not run all out on this race, so I decided to run comfortably hard, aiming for around a 23 minutes. I felt strong, despite not being able to feel my feet/toes due to the cold air. I passed a few people as we headed down the corridor and made the turn onto S. Floyd Street. That put me up front as the first female and I was feeling pretty good. We rounded onto Central Avenue and up, up, up the hill we went. I usually get slowed down by hills, but my legs wanted to go. I powered up it, and rode that downhill on the other side (downhill, after all, is my favorite speed), making the turn onto S 3rd Street.
I ran through the water top, minding the bump of the casing over the cords. Then through the tunnel I went. I popped out, somehow missing that first mile indicator on my watch. I made the turn to run down and around Eastern, looping back and then heading down to make a loop of a small section of the U of L campus. Then, I was heading back toward the finish line (same as the start). Back down S Third Street I went. Still felt amazing and strong. And I was lifted even more as I hit Mile 2 and got shout-outs and waves from teammates Kelly and Elizabeth. Then Tiffany. Then my friend Jamie gave me a shout-out. I headed down the hill to go under the overpass and I could see Cathy coming down on the other side. She must have seen me too, because as I am running through, she literally stops to poke her head through and shout at me, “FIRST FEMALE.”
This is what friends do.
It was just before I made the turn back onto Central that I caught up to the man ahead of me. He told me “good job.” I kicked it past him and started up that stupid hill. I did push the hill, mostly because I tend to get passed on hills and I really didn’t want to be passed again. The people who were doing the walk were cheering and screaming at me as I crested it and headed down the hill to make the turn back onto S. Floyd St. More cheers of encouragement as I headed down the road and turned back toward where the start/finish line was.
My watch beeped the third mile as I was heading in, way too soon before I would hit that finish line…but I just ran it in. There was no timing mat or anything…but here was this race…this amazing race…that I signed up for to honor my mom…and I crossed the finish line as the 3rd overall (there were 2 other guys ahead of me) and first female. I have no finish line photos, because my race photographer (aka: Cathy – the roomie) was in the actual race itself. I was announced as the first female and was complimented on my hair. A woman came over and asked me if I had run the entire race. I nodded and I told her I had done it to honor my mom and she pulled me in for a tight hug. I needed it.
I grabbed a bottle of water and went to the other side of the finish line to cheer in everyone, including the first survivor to cross the finish line. The survivors got medals, and it was just so amazing and moving to see them all come in. I cheered in strangers, team members, and just enjoyed this part of the race. And, even though I had one of my strongest races, one of my best 5Ks in years…this wasn’t one giving out age group awards or placement awards. And none of it mattered to me at that moment. My mom was the reason I was there, knowing all that she had gone through over the span of the year, and was still currently fighting through…and that finish line moment was for her. Knowing I raced the best I could that day to honor her battle was award enough. Third overall…first female…strong day that morning.
So, the reason I have the asterisk by my time is not just because the race measured short on my watch…but because it was honestly not timed, and truly…the real finishes that we should celebrate are those who crossed that finish line having gone through or are currently going through treatments. I hope to return to this one again next year.
To those of you who were on my team, whether you were able to run that morning or not…THANK YOU!! Your show of support meant the world to me and I am honored to have such amazing people in my life.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
How can I describe this week? What word can I use that will basically sum everything up? Oh…I know…
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.
Fourth of July means one thing. The annual 4th of July race. And for the third year in a row, I decided to make the trip down to Lexington, Kentucky for the Bluegrass 10,000. This year it was a bit different. We didn’t ride down with Melissa and Paul this year. Melissa had a baby back in February, so I knew they would have a bit more of a stressful ride down (especially if they were bringing the baby…which they did…and her mom to watch the baby…so full car as it was) trying to juggle everything with a newborn around.
I got in touch with Linda, my former coach and one of my favorite people (she’s an amazing friend) in this world, to see if she could pick up my packet if I registered, and since she’s in charge of the pacers…she said she already was picking up all of those so she would add to mine. I greatly appreciated that. There was no way that I could get to Lexington during a workweek for a Thursday race so I am thankful for people who can help me out.
The night before the race I made tacos. Not weird. I love tacos. And I ended up going to bed relatively early that night, knowing that a very early alarm had to be set for me to get up, hydrate, drink coffee, stretch, change, put on sunscreen, and get on the road by 5 am. The race in Lexington starts at 7:30 am. We managed to have breakfast, get ready, and get on the road right on time. So, that was a definite win.
It was a warm morning, and I dressed appropriately this time. As Wonder Woman. With a bra top instead of a tank top. I’m over the fact that my stomach isn’t flat. Whatever. Comfort is way more important and I wasn’t going to overheat this year.
This year, I was opting to give a go at racing this thing again. I wasn’t sure how I would do. My body isn’t reacting well to the heat/humidity this summer. I’ve never crashed so hard on hot runs (yep…even before the sun comes up) as much as I have this year. Its frustrating. And it does mentally wear you down, but I decided I would just see what I had this particular day. My training was relatively easy leading into a Thursday race. I admit, I might have hit some miles a bit harder than intended…but I felt pretty good on the drive into Lexington.
As we were arriving to our designated spot to park, I got a text from Linda saying where she was parked so we could meet up. We pulled in moments later, and I got out to get a hug and get my race shirt and bib. Cathy pinned me up and Linda and I talked for a bit. Her 8 minute pacer hadn’t shown up yet so she said I might have to hop in and pace. I was willing to do that if necessary. We both took the opportunity to use the bathroom before heading toward the start line. Her 8 minute pacer did show up at this point, so I was reprieved of that duty. Melissa and Paul weren’t here yet…but did arrive after the pacer photo and with about 5 minutes to the start. I wanted to hug Melissa before the start, but she was feeding her baby and Paul was grabbing her stuff. I had to head to the start…and that was that this year.
I lined up near the 8 minute pacer, just as I did last year. But then I saw people who were, once again, talking about how they wouldn’t be able to do that pace…or were definitely not dressed to hold that pace (is that judgey?)…so I moved up. And then moved up some more. The National Anthem was sung. The wheelchair racers were sent off. And we all moved up to wait for our prompt 7:30 am start. We were sent off by a rifle. It was pretty frickin amazing!
Here is where I am changing my plan of action for this race next time I run it. Despite having moved up, I was still blocked by a lot of walkers who were up near the front of the race. I wish this could be monitored a bit more, but it seems that next year, I am just lining up MUCH closer to the start line. I was slowed down considerably here, but the start line is pretty chaotic as it is.
The street is really crowded in that first mile, so I bobbed and weaved as much as I could. We made a turn right before the finish line and headed out to make a loop around some streets. We make a turn around Mile 2 and start up a big hill. It’s not a steep hill, but one of those ongoing hills. It wears you down. I was also making a point to hydrate early and often. So, if there was a water stop…you best believe I was taking a cup and drinking some of it before pouring the rest over my head. Keeping that core temperature down this year. YES! Oh…and they had some cooling stations on some of the miles…so I used those too.
I hit the turn around point and got a bit of a downhill. And this is where I got a lot of Wonder Woman shout outs from people spectating. And I got a lot of call-outs by Linda and her pacers as they came up the other side of the road. Man, that was a booster, even when I started to walk the water stops. No shame in that on a hot day. I enjoyed the downhill portions and really appreciated the guy at Mile 5 with a hose who just sprayed me down as I ran past. It steamed up my sunglasses, but damn…I needed that refreshing hit of cold water.
As I ran past the start line of the race, I could hear the race announcer up the way and was getting pretty excited to finish. I wasn’t looking for a PR today…and I didn’t get one. But I gave it all I could at that finish line. I could hear Cathy screaming at me from the bleachers nearby as I ran past and just got myself across the line. I stopped my Garmin and took a moment to catch my breath.
I made my way over to a table with water and snagged a bottle before heading to the sideline to talk with Cathy, who was heading my way. Shortly after, Linda came across and I went to chat with her for a little bit. I stuck around for a few of the pacers to make their way in, but I knew that we had an important date with lunch and then Season 3 of Stranger Things (which had dropped at midnight). So, I gave Linda a hug and we headed out to get back to our car.
On the way back, we did get to see Melissa and Paul. Melissa switched with the 15 minute pacer and was getting her group to the finish line in good form. Cathy tried to take pictures, but they weren’t prepared. I was happy to have caught them before we left.
We went to Target to kill off some time. Cathy got us some more coffee and a bit of a
snack before we walked around, killing off time before Bella Notte opened for lunch. There was SO much Stranger Things stuff. How I didn’t buy it all…I will never know. We polished off the coffee and headed over to the mall to walk a little more. Ducked into a few stores, then finally went to Bella Notte to grab lunch. I had my usual. Cathy went with something new and different. And as our entrees were arriving, Melissa, Paul, Deb and baby arrived. Melissa came over to chat with us before they ordered, and we stopped by as we were about to head out. We finished eating. We stopped in at Half Price Books. And we mad the drive back home to get through as much of the new season of Stranger Things as we could…because we were working a half day on Friday and gone all weekend.
And we got 6/8 episodes in before we had to call it. Not bad.
I’m not sure if I am more proud of that or how I did in the race this year. I beat last year’s time by 1 minute, but no distance or course PR this year. It eludes me again.
My official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 47:40…in the best weather (still humid and hot) that I have had in the 3 years I have run it. And that’s with walk/water stops. I was 294/2969 finishers overall. I was 41/1491 female finishers. And I was 6/244 in my age division. I actually was better placed this year (with more finishers in each category)…except for my age group. I need to get out of my head a bit more and just learn to be a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Friends, I did not come all the way up to Toledo for this 5K. In fact, this race was my shakeout run. Tomorrow, the Glass City Marathon runs, in winter-like conditions, and I am not happy about it. I didn’t train all winter to not have a beautiful day of running. Looks like it will be 30 degrees at the start tomorrow with winds between 16-20 mph. And that sucks. And it has been festering in my brain since the weather changed as I was packing and then again as I was traveling up to Toledo.
I had a lot going on this past week. Between some training runs and cross-training. Between work and errands. I was squeezing in baking Lemon Blossoms for the MRTT/SRTT tent at the finish line of the KDF Marathon/minimarathon. I was getting a sports massage to get my legs primed for this effort on Sunday. And I was having a late dinner with my friends Melissa, Paul, and the one and only baby Carrick, the night before I had to get in a car with my roommate and make the long-ass drive from Louisville up to Toledo.
Thankfully, Cathy handled most of my packing. On Friday morning, I simply had to stretch, foam roll, make breakfast, get together road snacks and hydration…and yes…RACE FUEL…pack a few extra things plus toiletries in my suitcase…before taking everything down to the car, taking out the garbage, making a quick stop at Kroger, and hitting the road. It sounds like a lot. It was. But I enjoyed the dinner out with my friends, and despite getting home late that night, I knew I could sleep in a bit as we were hoping to get on the road by 9:30 at the latest. We managed. YAY!
But it was to be a pretty rainy drive and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint. In fact, not only did we get rain, we got about three traffic accidents that really slowed our progress into Toledo. And the first one ended up with us taking a major detour that was out of our way, but got us where we needed to be quicker than sitting in the long line of traffic would have. But the second one, we actually had to sit through and just creep through. I had to really pee at this point (remember…HYDRATION!), and now I was stuck in traffic for who knows how long. We got through that one and we managed to get to a rest stop 10 miles up the road. YAY! But soon we were sitting in traffic again…yes…AGAIN. And we hadn’t even hit Dayton yet. It. Was. A. Mess.
But…we did finally make it in to Toledo and to our hotel, the Home2Suites by Hilton. It’s a nice little place, with a full fridge, microwave, and lots of room and space. The beds are quite comfortable too. We hauled our luggage in and were told that some sports teams were coming in this weekend too…looks like some kids soccer teams…but we were staying through Monday, so it really didn’t affect us at all. We unpacked our stuff and took a moment to relax. The expo didn’t open until 4 pm, so we had a bit of time. But we wanted to get there close to opening, so we did eventually meander out and head down to the University of Toledo campus. On the way, we noted that we were close to both a Kroger and a Target…just in case we needed to make any sort of stops.
The expo itself was held in the Savage Hall Sports Arena. It isn’t a large expo, but it was big enough that we walked through a couple times. But, we made our first official stop all the way at the back…at the packet pick-up. I had to get both my Savage 5K (my shakeout run) packet and my Mercy Health Glass City Marathon race packet as well. This was very seamless and easy, to be honest. I had my bib number in my e-mail and showed my ID. Simple. The 5K gives you a soft stadium blanket. You can pay extra for a t-shirt, but why? Love different race swag. I got a yellow half-zip for the full marathon and Cathy got her bib for the 5K as well. With those in hand, we went to have her knees (that had been acting up this past week) taped up by a chiropractor that was there in the expo…and then shopped. I picked up some gluten-free and vegan protein cookies that were being sold and sampled there. Really good. And also got the Glass City Marathon Bondi Band. We wandered back over to official merch, where I picked up a hoodie and a race t-shirt (compliments of Cathy). And then we headed out.
We, sadly, were having a hard time finding food options for this race for me. Lots of reviews on Find Me Gluten Free pointed us away from many of the options we had thought about. But…we passed a Marco’s Pizza on our way to the expo, and I called to see if they did gluten free (the one in New Albany doesn’t, but the one near my parents in Birmingham, AL does…so it was worth a try). They did…so we decided that we would go ahead and put our trust in Marco’s Pizza for dinner that night.
We ordered a Gluten Free Pizza without cheese, topping it with onions, mushrooms, and banana peppers. Cathy said she didn’t even miss the cheese when ti came out. And, the man who took our order, a guy named Davis, basically walked my pizza down the line to make sure there was no cross-contamination. He was amazing. And so was the pizza. We hit up Kroger on our way back to the hotel, picking up some bananas and some gluten-free cookies to have for dessert. I am a dessert fiend. I must have dessert.
It was getting late. So while Cathy showered, I stretched and did my foam rolling before getting settled into my bed while watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network (of course!). I set an alarm for 6:30 am, since race start wasn’t until 9 am, and we called it a night.
I hate hotel pillows, for the record. They are always too soft for me. MEH. But I slept relatively well, getting up to use the bathroom, do my first round of stretches in the dark, and then get back into bed for about 30 minutes until the alarm went off.
We were up and getting ready for the race right on time. And it didn’t take us too long to get fully dressed and ready to head out the door. It was 41 degrees, but real feel was 35 degrees. I opted for capris and a long sleeve shirt for this one. And gloves, because I have to wear gloves in anything in the 40s and below for temperatures. I just have to. We made the short trip down to the race, parking near a parking garage on campus and not too far from the start of the Savage 5K. I was thinking we’d hang in the car for awhile, but we ended up throwing on some garbage bags and making the trek to the start area. After freezing for a bit, I commented that we still had an hour to go before the start, so we went over to the Savage Hall Sports Arena to sit down and stay warm prior to the race. We had our photo taken on our way up the stairs, but ducked inside and took a seat on the stairs to wait until it was a little closer to race start. I ate my banana with 30 minutes to go.
We did meander out 15 minutes before the race start and went to get into our corrals. I was in Corral A and Cathy was in Corral D. I kept my trash bag on until about 5 minutes before the race. I had set my Garmin to give me some certain strides for the last mile so I pulled up that workout and then set my watch to start the workout. A few people spoke before the race start, and a blessing was given as well. And then…at about 9:01 am…we were on our way.
As I think I mentioned above, I was using this run as a shake-out leading into tomorrow’s race. So, I held myself back and just ran comfortably…not pushing my pace or effort on any hills. I felt really good, which was surprising after sitting in the car for so long the day before. I just sort of settled in at a comfortable pace, and focused on just not pushing it. There was a bit of a hill heading into the first mile marker, but I crested it by not pushing effort or pace, and felt like I was holding back and doing a good job. I was under an 8 min pace. WHOOPS.
Mile 2 went a bit better as I reined it back a bit. This was a fun mile, as we got 2 water stop options and a dash through the Greek Village near campus. It was really nice. And as I turned back onto main roads, I passed a cute mother/young daughter team that was running and the mom was just being very encouraging to her little girl. It was adorable. Back onto the streets and back through another water stop opportunity, and I was heading into Mile 3.
My watch was set up to do 80 meter pushes with equal recovery for strides. But…my watch just beeped at me like after 1 second of running and then settled in to the extra mile I tagged on. Glad I did that. But now I was going manual. Which did help to slow me down some. I would run for .05 mile and then ease off for the same amount of time. And I did that close to the 10 times I was supposed to (after the Garmin fuck up), and just pressed the lap button. My data was already screwed up, but I wanted to give something to my coach to look at. After I got that last mile…I pressed it in to a strong finish, which happens inside the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl Stadium. I did a fast 10 miler which finished on a stadium field just like this, so that was sort of fun. I threw my hands up as I crossed the finish and my name was announced and went to collect my medal and some water.
Now, I was waiting for Cathy to finish her race, but we weren’t allowed to wait in the finisher’s area. I moved off to the side, just past the finish line, and waited for her, trying not to freeze. That’s been the worst part about Cathy now doing my races…that I don’t have warm clothing to slide into at the finish right away.
She came across and I snapped pictures and shouted at her. She was introducing me to the people she ran with for most of the race. We took some photos, then headed over to get our Commemorative Glass Mug. She went to go get beer and I went to get official results. I couldn’t remember my Athlinks login though, so I ended up just looking it up on the RaceJoy app. Then we went and got snacks, and Cathy got 2 slices of pizza (she got my slice), which she said was actually really good.
And…to my absolute shock…I came in 2nd in my age group. What the hell? I wasn’t even trying. We didn’t know if I’d get my award there or if it would be mailed, and no one else seemed to know either. Not even at the Race Info booth inside the expo. I finally asked back by where we picked up our packets and they actually know. Awards would be mailed. YAY! So, that’s something to look forward to! We walked through the expo one last time, and Cathy thanked the booth who taped her up because she had a good 5K with their help. And then we made the cold trek back to the car and headed out.
I needed hot coffee…stat. So, we headed over to Bigbee Coffee (a local chain in Toledo), where I got a Neapolitan Latte with Almond Milk. It. Was. EVERYTHING. If you like Neapolitan ice cream…it tastes exactly like THAT! Holy crap, it might be my new thing in life. Then I ducked over to Kroger to grab some sushi for a quick lunch and picked up some Pop Chips Nutter Puffs. Cathy grabbed something from the frozen section for a little bite and her favorite Doritos before we paid and headed back to the hotel.
I showered an climbed onto my bed to work up the race reviews that I now owed the blog. So here it is!!
So, my official results for Glass City’s Savage 5K are that I finished in 24:19, which was way faster than I intended to run it. But I honestly held myself back. Craziness. I was 91/1212 finishers overall. I was 16/739 female finishers. And, as I just mentioned above, I squeaked in a 2/96 in my age division! WOOT! If nothing else, I can take that away from this race.
I would do this 5K again in a heartbeat, to be honest! It’s a fantastic course for a fast race. So, if you love traveling for 5Ks…or live near Toledo…definitely consider this one! I’ve had my feet up all afternoon and am preparing to head out to a gluten free deli for dinner in a bit before stretching, foam rolling, and prepping for tomorrow’s marathon. Think happy thoughts for me, please!
You remember (probably not, but throwing it out there anyway) how last year I said I was going to return to the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon? Well, I was certainly good on my word. Prior to my blog even being posted last year, I was already registered to run in 2019. And at the end of March…it was time to go.
A couple of things though…
Remember that knee bruising I had from my fall at the beginning of March? Well…that was better. The problem was…the week of this particular half marathon, my knee started to really be painful when I was out running…but mostly just when I would go up and down the stairs. You know me. I went into full panic mode and texted my coach. He’s a physical therapist and he told me to rest it up until race day. I did exactly that. Slept in. No spin. No weights. Rest. So, essentially, I took off Thursday and Friday. The race was Saturday. And though this, I felt like my knee…SORT OF felt better. A little. It still twinged whenever I went down or up the stairs (more so up), but for the most part…better. So that was a good thing. I guess?
I had to work a half day on Friday, and left the office just shortly after eating my lunch. It was something simple. Soup, I think. It isn’t important. I had snacks packed for the car to have prior to going into the expo. And my roommate (who was participating in the Yearling, which is 3.65 miles, on Saturday morning) and I got into the car and started to make our way to Lexington.
The trip was easy and this time we didn’t take the weird back way that put us on some of the course. This was direct to Keenland. And I was ready to get my bib and shop the expo. That, in and of itself, is dangerous, because I tend to throw away a lot money at this particular race expo. The swag is just that good!! I ended up getting my bib at the first little stand (my number was in the 1000, so I was in the first wave) and then proceeded to look at all the merch, ended up purchasing a cute sweatshirt and the official Run The Bluegrass Ponya Band (I did the Ponya Band last year too), and then tapped out to head into the actual expo part and peruse the booths. I had come in 13th in the Director’s Challenge, so I had a few prizes to pick up as well, including some free socks at one of the booths in the back. I got my official race shirt, then the upgrade to the really nice race jacket with the heat sheet inside (SO HAPPY). And then decided I had done enough damage for the day and went back up front to snag the rest of my Director’s Challenge swag (ear buds, Road ID gift certificate, gloves, and a couple of other nice things). I ran into a couple of friends and then we went to drive into Lexington to stop into Ethereal Brewing to pick up the glass I won in the Director’s Challenge. Cathy was very tempted to get a beer, and spotted one that looked interesting, but decided against it. I boooooooed her for that decision. But we needed to hit up the hotel, drop stuff off, and relax before meeting up with our friends Ron & Shawn Steve for dinner at Bella Notte (of course).
Upon arriving at the hotel and starting to unload our luggage, Cathy realized that we didn’t have the cooler with us (the one she moved off the kitchen counter and set by HER luggage) that had my fuel, my BCAAs, my snacks…all the things. THIS…was a HUGE problem.
I might have shouted at her for a long time about it. And instead of relaxing in the hotel, we now had to head into Lexington and attempt to find fuel for the half marathon tomorrow. The problem being, most places don’t sell my fuel of choice, UCAN. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE carries it in stores. We first went to a sporting goods store, and all they had was Sword. I don’t use Sword and have only used it in a half marathon I was pacing as fuel. And while I had no issues with it…I was trying to put some effort into this race. No good. We were getting close to dinner time, but we spotted a Vitamin Shoppe, so we took a chance and pulled in there. They had less options for me to really use. But we looked around. Lots of electrolytes but nothing that was actually good for me to use as fuel.
We left emptyhanded from there too, and I was in full-on pissed off panic mode. But dinner time was nigh, so we pulled into Bella Notte just minutes before Ron and Shawn showed up. It was perfect timing. No reservations were being taken, but we had no problems getting seated. They no longer have a separate gluten free menu, but I know what I always get here. And this was no different. Ron got the lasagna, both Cathy and Shawn got the Spaghetti & Meatballs, and I got…the Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata. It came with a salad ahead of it…so I got that minus the croutons and with the balsamic.
We ate, we talked work, life, and racing (of course). It was sometime in the restaurant that Daniel, my coach, sent me the race plan for this particular half marathon. To be fair, I don’t think he understood how difficult this course actually is. He wanted me to use the first mile as a warm up, then push for 8-10 miles at a 7:45 pace, then use the rest to either continue that pace or to ease back and use it as a cool down, depending on how I felt. And I might have scoffed and laughed out loud when that text came over my phone. I told him I would try, but made no promises with the hills. He told me it was about effort, not pace. We all still got a laugh though about my race plan. Inside, I think I was starting to panic more than a little. We all passed on desserts and headed out, giving hugs and wishing everyone luck on their races the following morning. Cathy and I had just enough time to swing by John’s Run Walk Shop, hoping to get something to use for fuel. Again, we found a lot of Sword (Sword must be the sponsored fuel of Lexington, Kentucky), but thankfully they had some Honey Stinger gels in there too. I haven’t fueled with Honey Stinger gels in a while, but had in the past…so it was what I had to work with. I bought two of them, plus the Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Waffle. And it was going to have to work. We finally headed back to the hotel so we could cycle through showers and get everything ready for the morning. Stretch. Foam rolling. And eventually get some sleep. Our time was definitely way more constricted now thanks to The Great Search for Runner Fuel.
The alarm went off that morning and we immediately began to get ready for our respective races. The weather looked perfect for running. It was in the high 50s, so tank top and shorts were the obvious choice. There was a chance for rain, but it was supposed to kick in later on in the day. So, that was a plus. I was supposed to be done long before that kicked in and started. The half marathon started at 9:00. The Yearling kicked off at 8:50. And all the photos were to be done at 8:30 with groups like Mom’s Run This Town/She Runs This Town. I texted my friend Melissa (who was about 5 weeks off of having a baby) and she was here, but down near the start. I wanted to get my pre-race hug she always gives me, so I forwent the official photo and headed down to the start area. And never found her or met up with her. Cathy did run into one of her high school friends though. So at least she got a pre-race hug.
I walked Cathy into the corral for the Yearling and hung with her there. My friend Michael, who came in from New York to run this, found me there and we stayed there up until we had to clear out so that only Yearling runners were in there. I wished Cathy luck, gave her a hug, and went to wait for Wave 1 to be moved up to the start.
The Yearling was sent off after the singing of the National Anthem…and it was to “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman. Which…I knew Cathy would love. And it turns out…she did.
The wheelchair racers were sent off next. I could not even imagine racing Run The Bluegrass in a wheel chair. The hills in this race as massive and hard enough to run up. More on that later. LOL! Michael and I lined up and wished each other good luck on the race. It is really one of the most stunning and beautiful half marathons around, so I told him to take it in and enjoy it…and if by chance he caught up to me because my race plan wasn’t going well, we could maybe run it in together.
And then we were off…to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Which, for the record, is one of my favorite race pump-up songs. I ran easy (well, I thought it was easier than it actually was, apparently, for that first mile, which takes us up our first major climb. I clocked that one in 7:58…so definitely faster than I anticipated or meant to be for my warm up. Now it was time to kick it and see what I could handle.
Mile 2 and Mile 3 were right on pace. But they were hard. This race has somewhere between 33 and 37 hills (it depends on who you ask), and some are manageable, and some will completely kill your speed. I felt good for those miles, but as I went into Mile 4, my heart rate was really high and I took a walk break. And it pretty much broke me to do that so early in a race. I knew I was now completely off my race plan and, you know how much of a perfectionist I am…it bothered me. A lot. I had been training really well, save for the fall that screwed with my knees, but this…this just destroyed my confidence. I know that this is a difficult course, and tried to keep reminding myself of that, but, dammit…I know I am better than that.
The next mile I managed to pick it back up. A little. But it did help to see that 7 pace again. I hit it at 7:55…so not in the range he wanted me at, and it was the last 7-something pace I would see that day. Walking the hills became my method of survival. I would run up some of them, but I was being very careful since I could tell my heart rate wasn’t in a good place and I didn’t want to push it. I fueled at the halfway point with my Honey Stinger gel. And I do get the ones with caffeine, but I don’t think it made any difference. My legs weren’t going to wake back up. At least I was running when I went past the photographer around Mile 7. HA! And, thanks to a friend of mine, I got the shirtless thumbs up guy behind me edited out of my picture. YAY!
Mile 9 is the roughest. You hit it just as you start up with hill. This massive hill. And just when you think you are done with it, it turns and goes up some more. This is the infamous S-turn hill…with drums that sort of inform you of your impending doom. This hill did me in and I took the lonest walk break I have had to take just to get up it. And, the entire time, I was just getting madder and madder at myself.
Does anyone else do this?
I had a 5K left, and I gave myself the pep talk…that a 5K wasn’t far and that I could do this. And I took only a few more walk breaks in that time, trying to hydrate myself well (I was racing with my hydration pack). I think I did okay with that. It also rained at this point. Yep. Rained. It was brief…but unexpected as ran wasn’t supposed to move in until later than that. I hit the Mile 12 marker and attempted to pick it up again. When you get to 12.1, you go over a mat, and you get timed on your final mile. Some of this does go uphill, and I told myself this one I couldn’t walk. This one I had to run in. And I managed to mentally push myself to do just that. The official results clocked my final mile as a 7:06. My Garmin had me at a 8:59. LOL!!
This time, Cathy did happen to catch me at the finish line and snap some photos. I made sure to snag a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (I can’t eat them, but Cathy can) and high five the race director on the way to the finish line. Did I meet my goal for this race at all? Not even close. I gave up on myself and the plan in really early on. But I needed to take care of me, and that high heart rate had me concerned. I still hate that I walked so much. That being said, I had a strong finish and at least I did finish. So, there is power in that, for sure.
I met up with Cathy at the end of the chute. She said she had a really good race, even on her challenging hills, and even took beer at the beer/water stop that we all come across in our respective distances. She does it all. HA! We made our way over to the starting gates to get the required photo inside. I managed to get myself up, but getting down is always an issue. Cathy carried me down like a child…per usual. But this year, she got to understand the struggle as she had to do it too, as she finished the Yearling. Afterwards, I gave her my free beer (she had one of her own ahead of me) and I snagged her a free breakfast sandwich as well before we went inside. My friend Michael finished about 8 minutes behind me and he came to find us. I asked if he got his photo in the gates, and he hadn’t so I took him out to be sure we got him that.
Soon after, I found myself purchasing more stuff at the expo. HA! I bought the most stunning pair of leggings with “Dream Big” on the side and pockets from Bend Active. They are super comfortable too. I snagged the last in my size and couldn’t have been happier about that. You don’t realize how important pockets in leggings are until you need a pocket. They are my favorite pair of leggings I own now.
After that, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and change and we could pack up and head out. Thank God, this hotel had late checkout. We gathered our belongings and packed up the car. We were going to meet up with Michael back in Louisville later for sushi before heading to the Louisville City FC Soccer Game. But the rain had moved in at this point, and sitting out in the cold wet…sounded awful. They ended up postponing the match until Sunday, but Cathy and I had other things going on that day. Michael ended up going Sunday, but we did get him to my favorite Sushi joint…Dragon King’s Daughter, and took him back to his hotel afterwards.
So, my official results of the 2019 Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon are that I finished it in 1:51:14, pretty far off of what I know I am cable of, honestly. Meh. You win some, you lose some, you walk more than you want to on really big ass hills sometimes. I was 233/2635 finishers overall. I was the 53/1660 for women finishers. And I was 12/321 in my age division. So, I mean…not great. But not bad either. This wasn’t the mental boost that I was hoping it would be…but its done. And, yes, I’m already registered for next year. Time to run more hills. For real.