SURPRISE!!

surpriseJust 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!

THE PLAN

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Running before 1:30 am is CRAZINESS!

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.

D0FBA203-C838-41CF-B0E7-FB3DA572A76AMy 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!

THE SURPRISE

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.

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Lunch from Twin City Grill at the Mall of America

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.

YAY!

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Me and Grandpa!

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.

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Aunt Jan, Me, and Grandpa

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.

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Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl from Tavern 4 & 5

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.

BREAKING BIRTHDAY

It was decided, by the birthday girl herself, that we (Heather, me, Chad, Chelsea (her

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Birthday Breakfast Omlette (with ALL the avocado)

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.

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Me rethinking life decisions in rental skates!

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.

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Heather and Me on the ice

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.

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I skate with ALL the padding on!

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.IMG_9985

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

39A79C50-C88A-48FD-9EB2-49C152B80690As 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.9C5A7E65-596C-4743-B9B5-B7169A3AA26D

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.

IMG_9979aGifts 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 outIMG_9998 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.

IMG_0001I 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!

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Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #19

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornGuys…we have 19 weeks of hard training down…and only one more to go until the big day.  Am I nervous?  Of course.  There’s something scary about putting your goals out there for people to see…for putting your training out there for people to read.  Setting big goals in and of themselves can be a scary ordeal.

But there is no turning back now.  We’re in the homestretch.  That start line and that finish line are waiting…

So let’s do this thing.

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.

I was so thankful to have another Monday as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of run.  After moving my long run last week to Sunday, it was nice to not have to worry about hitting paces or doing some sort of workout.  I didn’t know this, however, until the morning when I woke up.  My coach sends through my plan after his children go to bed…and I had already gone to bed ahead of that.  What can I say?  Rest and sleep have been a priority this entire training cycle and it has made a world of difference.  So…I went out there, watch covered, and put in some miles.  I kept it easy and relaxed and just let my legs do what they needed and wanted to do that day.  No pressure.  No anxiety.  Just a simple run to shake out the legs.  I finished up with 5 miles for the morning, because my legs felt that good.  I did my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning round of stretches this morning.  Then, at noon, at met with my personal trainer, Corey, who put me through a leg day workout, targeting some muscles that don’t get a lot of love.  I stretched and foam rolled that evening and went to bed early (as always)

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT

I didn’t want to incorporate speed during my taper…but it’s important to keep that rolling.  And my coach, thankfully, handed me my favorite of the speed workouts to do.  The Mona Fartleks.  If you haven’t tried these yet…DO IT!  You’ll see what I mean.  Mona Fartleks work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2 x 90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4 x 30 sec, 4 x 15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  Simple.  Basic.  FUN!  It was a cool morning…and I felt fast.  I really did.  I kept my warm up nice and easy then really hit those intervals.  I even managed a mile in the 6s for pace at the end.  My cool down…faster than my warm up, but it usually is.  I mean…I wasn’t expecting my legs to respond like that, but they felt ready to go.  They felt strong.  It worked out to be 8 miles for the day.  I went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.  Went to work.  Came home and did those evening stretches before hitting the sack for some sleep.

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.

It was the perfect morning for another easy “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.”  When I have those in the middle of the week, it always means another bit of speed is coming the following day.  With that in mind, my watch was covered and I went out and ran comfortably.  And apparently comfortably that day was…faster than anticipated.  I felt amazing the entire time.  Rested.  Strong.  Capable.  This is what you need to be feeling this week of training…and I’m hitting it.  I did another 5 miles this morning, surprised with the average pace at the end.  I hoped it wouldn’t hinder my run the following day.  I stretched.  I went to work.  And I met with Corey at lunch for personal training, focusing on triceps.  We kept the session shorter than usual because he wanted to make sure I had no lactic acid built up as I go into race week.  He’s a runner.  He’s an athlete.  He gets these things.  That evening I had a great sports massage and all felt right with the world.  Except for…the rain.

Thursday: 8-10 MILES WITH A 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 9 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END

I didn’t casually mention rain yesterday for no reason.  When I woke up early to fit in this run (knowing I wasn’t going to do anything over the goal distance)…it was pouring rain.  Fun fact…if it starts to rain on me after I’m out running, I’m okay with it.  I don’t like starting in the rain.  At all.  And…if this wasn’t as long of a run, I probably would have gone to the gym and done it on the treadmill.  My plan was to go out and do 5 easy and 4 at marathon pace.  When the rain picked up that morning…I hit four miles and chose to just hit 5 at marathon pace instead.  So…off I went.  And even in the pouring rain (thankfully it was 58 degrees outside)…which I always fret over slipping…I nailed it.  Completely nailed it.  I even felt like I could have pushed harder, but the purpose of the exercise was to hit marathon pace, not half marathon pace.  This was also the first time since July that I have run with my watch uncovered.  And it didn’t stress me out at all.  That being said, I was very happy to finish up this run and get out of the rain.  9 miles for the day…5 of them fast.  It was a HUGE confidence boost to do that in rain.  I did my stretches in the morning and night.  Oh…and by the time I left work, winter had arrived.  We legit had snowflakes in the air.  NOPE!

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I didn’t sleep in much for some reason this Friday.  I kept waking up.  So, eventually, I just got myself out of bed and went to be a little productive.  I erased my whiteboard art and went and did up something new for the month of November.  I used Simba from The Lion King (the original animated one) with his mane of leaves.  Because it’s fall.  Leaves mean fall.  And I love drawing Disney characters.  I showered.  I stretched.  I finished filling out my paper work for my podiatrist.  My appointment got moved to just before lunch today.  I don’t anticipate this being a long visit…but hoping he can do something about some of my nails (marathon training for 2 years = ugly feet).  And…after work, we hit up Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi” as I prepare for my long run on Saturday.

Saturday: 11-13 MILES WITH 5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END

Woke up to weather in the 20s.  No joke.  It was 28° and I was not happy!  Not one bit.  I don’t do well in temperatures below freezing.  It’s part of having Raynaud’s.   It sucks to try to run when you can’t feel your feet.  So, I admit…I was in a bad mood at the start of this run.  Not even going to lie.  I didn’t even plan out a route or think it through the night before.  I just was determined that this run was going to be awful.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was just cold.  But guess what…I warmed up.  The sky was crystal clear.  The sun came out.  And while I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, my movement did finally give me some feeling in my extremities.  YAY!  The same could not be said for my iPhone 7.  The battery died 30 minutes into my run.  Guys…I can’t have my phone battery dying when the weather is cold.  It’s a safety issue for ME.  Against my will, I ended up turning the phone off and finishing up the run, with the last 5 miles being along my super-hilly Thanksgiving course.  WHY do I do this?  Why do I forget (I run this course all the time) how hard those hills are?  But I pushed my fast finish at marathon pace.  It was a bit of a struggle today, but my last long run was done.  I took a warm shower.  I put on real (warm) clothes.  I watched Mindhunter with my breakfast gluten-free bagel.  I went grocery shopping (all day).  I came home and put away groceries.  Stretched.  Watched Top Chef.  Watched Mindhunter.  Then watched Louisville City FC win (on the road) the Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Guess what?  The Eastern Conference Finals are being held in Indianapolis…the afternoon of my marathon.  Guess what we’re getting tickets to go watch!!  It was a late night (for me) but worth staying up for.

Sunday: BASE RUN 5-8 MILES + 4-6 STIDES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT

The time change messed with me.  I always panic when we have to fall back or jump forward.  Especially when I am meeting with friends to go running.  I set my alarm clock (which I needed to adjust the time, but in hindsight didn’t actually move it when we jumped forward in the spring…so I totally had the time wrong.  But I also set my phone alarm.  Then I woke up, not trusting it.  And my alarm clock (was wrong) said one time.  My phone and Garmin said another.  The clock in the living room said the same time as my phone, and the clock in the kitchen had the same time as my alarm clock.  I was driving myself crazy.  I finally asked Siri what time it was…and my phone was correct.  I just don’t trust technology to actually fall back.  Deep breath.  So, I snuggled down for another hour…but didn’t really sleep.  Finally got up to stretch, hydrate, fuel, and get my stuff together.  I figured, with it being another below freezing morning, I’d have to give myself time to scrape the windows of my car before driving to meet my friend Ron for my last weekend run before the marathon.  Murder fog rolled in as I arrived.  He had gone to do his additional 2 miles ahead of our meeting.  And we ran through it for a mile before it started to lift and the sun came back out.  We kept it easy and talked a lot about race strategy and the weather (he’s a meteorologist) and how to dress.  It’s all confusing to me.  Aside from the weather (which is an uncontrollable), I do feel confident and good and better than ever as this training cycle wraps up.  We threw in the strides at the end of the run.  Walked it back to the cars.  Stretched.  And that was it.  The last long run before the big day.  8 miles total.

So, yeah…a part of me is internally freaking out because I have put this HUGE goal out there for everyone to see, read about, and follow along with.  But, it honestly doesn’t feel like any pressure to perform has been put on me.  I trust my coach…his plan…my training…and I know I am capable of having a great race.  Now…I need the day to go well.  You never know on race day what can happen.  But…honestly, I have never felt more ready to run 26.2 miles.

Six days to go.  And, let me tell you, my friends running the NYC Marathon have been quite the inspiration!  Here’s to staying focused, healthy, and strong in these final days before the start line.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #18

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornIt’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?

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 TENTEN!! 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.

2 more weeks…let’s go.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #16

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornRemember how I said I was in taper?  I was apparently confused.  Out of my mind.  Wrong.  Because my coach had one more long, long run up his sleeve.  And I didn’t know about it until I was leaving the Kentucky Center of the Arts.  I had gone to see Dear Evan Hansen.  I was in a pretty dress and heels.  I had a message come through from my coach telling me my schedule was posted and that I could choose how to run the 5K I was participating in on Saturday, but to not go 100%…because we (as in me…he wasn’t doing it with me, HA) had one more long, long run to tackle.

I flipped to my calendar and it was staring me down.  One final 20-22 miler.

Here. We. Go.

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.

Thank goodness for easy, recovery days.  With as stacked as last week was with three 13.1 runs…I was happy to have the chance to rest up a little.  Especially since I had a late night with the Broadway show.  I slept in as much as I could…then got up to go out for an easy run.  The temperatures had dropped into the high 50s.  It was supposedly raining.  It wasn’t.  It was a nice run that morning.  No pushing pace.  I ran faster than I had been in the past…probably because I had no humidity weighing me down.  It was a good morning for a good run.  Even if I wore a hat because of rain and it didn’t rain.  I ended up with just over 5 miles.  No personal training…which was a blessing with the week I had leading into this one.

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

On an even more perfect morning temperature-wise, I went out in sleeves and some gloves (if temps are in the 40s or below…gloves always because Raynauds is real friends) and shorts and just let my legs do the talking.  I reminded myself not to push any sort of pace.  Just to go with the flow…stay in control of my breath.  And let this run be the miles I needed that day.  I ended up with 7.5 when I stopped.  Then, I got to add strides on to the end.  Six of them.  And I felt fast and strong and I was fast and strong.  And that’s the bonus of the cooler weather.  When you suffer and die and cry throughout summer as you sweat it out…you fly in the fall.  Hoping this trend continues because there comes a point where it gets too cold for me to function.  And right now…we’re right in my happy place.  Ended with 8 miles for the day.  Also tacked on my additional hip strengthening exercises to the stretches I do every day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Wednesday was a bad day.  Not that anything tragic or life changing happened.  But I had a double digit run on the schedule, so I had to go to bed SUPER early on Tuesday.  Then, I had to wake up every super earlier than usual on Wednesday morning.  I wasn’t loving it.  Not at all.  I also wasn’t loving the 800s that were scheduled.  I will gladly and happily force myself to do speed work when asked, but I LOATHE 800s.  The instant I got up, I went and made my Maurten 160 Drink Mix up and began to drink it while I was getting dressed, putting in contacts, all the things. I got my hydration bag ready to go and I headed out for my speed work.  And then…my stomach decided to be on the fritz all morning.  I just think it doesn’t like having things fed to it at 3 am before pushing a fast pace.  At all.  So, had to stop a couple of times for that, but felt better and rounded it out.  I also feel that EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME I have speed work, the road I cross on the stretch that I run for it (no track…because this area is the worst) has the most traffic of any other day, no matter the hour.  UGH!  But, you know, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I hit my paces, recovered properly and wrapped it up with stretching.  I also had personal training with Corey that afternoon.  He, thankfully, kept it basic…challenging, but nothing too intense. And for that, I appreciate him.  Also…Annie Mays didn’t have soft pretzels…so lunch was a no-go.  Had to improvise.  It just wasn’t my day.

Thursday: 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.

I love a good recovery run.  We were back in the 50s this morning, so I kept the short sleeves and shorts, but ditched the gloves before I even went out the door.  My goal, once again, was just to let my body do what it needed to that morning.  I know that I have a pretty stacked weekend, and one rest day (which will involve the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park), I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize how my body would feel going into those.  I figured 3-5 miles would be perfect.  I felt good out there. My turnover felt amazing.  My breath stayed controlled.  And I finished up with 5 miles.  Went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my stretches.  Had to walk a bit farther to the office due to Harvest Homecoming happening downtown.  And spent a good chunk of my morning standing in line for Masonic Donuts (which I can’t eat, but my office loves them…except for this year…or something).  But, it was a good way to head into the weekend.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY

Full rest day!  YAY!!  I slept over 8 hours.  Got up to shower.  Did two rounds of my stretches and my foam rolling, just because I was unsure of when/if I would be able to get to it that night with the Pumpkin Walk happening.  I went into work…favorite t-shirt day…ready to sit and stand at my desk to get work done, go pick up Amanda (roomie’s sister), go to get Indian food for dinner, then head (weather permitting) to Iroquois Park to do the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  It was a bit chilly, but the worst of the rain happened while we were under the canopy of the trees.  It was a good way to wrap up the evening.  I went right to bed when I got home.

Saturday: RACE FOR THE CURE 5K – YOU CAN APPROACH THIS HOWEVER YOU WOULD LIKE OTHER THAN PROBABLY NOT A FULL OUT EFFORT

Let me preface this by saying that this didn’t feel like an all-out effort.  Not one bit.  In fact, for the first two miles of the race, I couldn’t feel my feet because I was so cold.  Most of this will be covered in my official blog on the race itself, but I felt good this morning.  I had a fantastic group of people running on my team for my mom, Dottie Brady, showing their support and honoring her and others in her family.  I love all of them for showing up and running for this cause.  So, I ended up averaging a 7:07 mile for the 3.03 (the course was either short or the GPS cut out when we went through the tunnel twice) miles, finishing third overall and first female.  I had a sweet woman come over when I finished and just gave me a hug and I loved her for that.  I needed it.  It was an emotional race and I felt so supported by my friends and team.  And for that…I am thankful.  So, it may appear I went all-out, but honestly, I had more in the tank.  But tomorrow’s run will be a good judgement on how I ran this one.  I felt amazing the entire time…and the cheers and shouts from not just my team members, but also the people along the course and in the race was uplifting.  What an amazing race!

Sunday: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

To be honest…I expected today to suck.  I really did.  After the 5K, a day full of grocery shopping, grabbing “magic sushi” during Harvest Homecoming (traffic and parking nightmare, friends), and a chilly Louisville City FC soccer match…I didn’t have high hopes for this run.  I set an alarm for 5:15 am.  Got up, put in contacts, ate breakfast, stretched, hydrated, got dressed, drank my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and got ready to head out as it was getting light out.  It was 36° outside, so I put on bright yellow capris and a long sleeve shirt with gloves.  And I realize I would have been cold for a few miles, but I probably would have been fine in short sleeves and shorts with the gloves.  Eventually.  I wasn’t pushing pace at all, and I was doing what I could to make it so that when I did my Thanksgiving course at the end of the run, I could head straight home.  The cooler weather was nice, but I did feel overdressed after a time.  I rolled up my sleeves halfway through the run.  I did practice my fueling…and I definitely have that dialed in for race day.  YAY!  And I felt strong, even on the super hilly back half of this run.  I finished it up, feeling confident about the race four weeks from yesterday.  Honestly, I’m as ready as I’m going to be.  Now it’s just a matter of taking care of myself through taper.  I’ve been a bit sluggish the rest of today…but aside from that, feeling good.  Happy that taper has officially (for real this time) started!  YAY!

Bonus Sunday inspiration was Kipchoge’s world record 1:59:40 marathon finish on Saturday…and Sunday was also the 6th Anniversary (to the day) of me running my first marathon and getting my BQ.  I hope it serves for further inspiration and motivation as the weeks wrap up and I head into my 16th marathon.

I have no idea what my week will look like, save for a half marathon on Saturday of this coming week.  I anticipate that I’ll be told to take this one easy and not push the pace.  And that’s fine by me.  I’d like to just cruise a half marathon because I’m tired.  I’ve had some pretty crazy weeks these past two weeks, and I’m ready to start seeing some downtime.

Who else is happy to hit taper time?  Anyone else running Urban Bourbon next Saturday?

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

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

Race: Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

Place: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: October 5, 2019

Time: 1:39:13

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

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

This is HUGE!

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

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

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Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

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

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Packet Pick-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Staying warm pre-race around the fires

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

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

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Elizabeth, Me, Kelly, & Cathy

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

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

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

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When you accidentally run your second fastest half marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finish Line feels at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben

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

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #14

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhew.

Guys, coming back from vacation is hard.  I mean, you have a routine, you get off your routine (like…by a lot), and then you try to fall back into your routine…yeah…it’s not easy.  Not at all.

That being said, we had some cooler mornings this week.  I enjoyed two runs in the low 50s this week, which felt glorious.  I mean…I was still comfortable in a tank top and shorts and I didn’t feel like I was being weighed down by heat and humidity.  What a difference from the Caribbean and Florida, eh?

But the weather had some fluctuations in it.  And the other mornings I ran, we were up 20 degrees in the 70s.  No rhyme or reason to when these occurred…but of course it heated up just in time for my 4th and FINAL 20+ miler this weekend.

Now that I’m back on schedule…how about we dive into this week?  I had an extra rest day, which made for 5 days of running…and I could actually tell a difference.  Interesting.

Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! TRAVEL DAY!

What can I say?  I had an early-ish flight out of Orlando to get back to Louisville.  And while I could have squeezed in a run around the resort, I didn’t have to get up early to do so.  My coach gave me the day off.  So, I also didn’t have to try to fit it in when I got back, allowing me to be relaxed on the flight, enjoy lunch out with my friend Melissa (who was kind enough to pick us up at the airport) and get home, unpacked, and get some groceries, because…we literally had NO food in the house.  After running some laundry and doing the stretches I couldn’t do while on vacation (French Quarter had a hard wood floor) due to the way the rooms (on the ship and on the resort were) and also the amount of time I had to squeeze in runs every day…that just didn’t happen.  My body thanked me…especially when I got to foam rolling.  I went to bed around my normal time.  Trying to get back on my routine.

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

This was basically the same run I had on the last day in Orlando.  The one where I felt like I was flying, but really I wasn’t.  HA!  Well, it went so much better.  This was one of my 50 degree mornings.  Seriously…even with it being my first run back from my 8 day trip, my legs and body responded well.  Even the strides went better than they had in Florida.  LOVE!  I was happy with the end result…definitely felt like I was getting my legs back under me.  In addition, I did my extra hip strengtheners that I hadn’t been able to do while on vacation.  They felt good to get back to, for sure! 8 miles total for the day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Aside from some stomach issues that morning, this workout didn’t go too bad.  I only missed the interval speed on one of them (the 5th) but it was close and I rallied to hit the last 2 with some time to spare.  So, I mean, I wasn’t mad at it at all.  This morning was in the 50s again.  So, that made the 800s feel good.  I used the rest time to lightly jog, because that recovery is important to being ready for that next push.  And with 7 of them on tap, I wanted to be ready.  I ended with 11 miles for the day, with almost perfect 800s right in the middle.  I’ll take it.  Made sure I was properly fueled ahead of this, using the Maurten 160 Drink Mix.  It just works for me.

Thursday: 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.

Ahhh…recovery run.  The temperature was back up into the 70s this morning.  So, basically 20 degrees warmer than the previous day.  Glad it happened on a recovery run day instead of speed work.  Dodged that bullet.  I just let my legs go however they wanted, while making sure I kept it in recovery mode.  With my long run still looming over the weekend, I didn’t want to overdo anything.  I relaxed, kept my heart rate down, and rounded out the weekday runs with just over 5 miles.  I also did my second day of my additional hip strengtheners because it was the last day I had to work them in.  I try to do them twice a week.  Was surprised I managed this week.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Second (which is weird for me) rest day of the week.  What did I do?  Slept in.  Seriously.  I even went to bed early the night before.  YAY!!  Took a shower.  Stretched.  Ate breakfast.  Had coffee.  Went to work.  Went out for (MAGIC) sushi for dinner.  Stretched more.  Foam rolled.  Went to bed at 8 pm.  I had an early morning ahead of me and I wanted a full 8 hours of sleep.

Saturday: LONG RUN: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT!! AND PRACTICE RADE DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

I was really happy to hear from my friend, Ron, on Friday asking what my run schedule was.  I have two weekend runs, but Saturday was my beast.  22 miles.  My last 20 miler in this series (and my 4th one…the most I have ever done in a training cycle).  Ron was good for 10 miles with me (possibly more), so I made arrangements to meet with him at 7:30 at the Greenway to run.  I got out at 6:15 am to hit the streets and get in 8 miles ahead of those miles with Ron.  It was warm (71 degrees) and humid that morning, but while the sun was down, it wasn’t too bad.  But the moment that sun rose above the clouds, it got hot.  Fast.  Ron and I stuck it out, with the last couple of miles being hard.  But, while he was done, I still had about 4 to go.  And, the route home didn’t have much in the line of shade.  I did practice my race day fueling, knowing exactly how I am going to space out my Maurten 320 Drink Mix and my Maurten 100 Gels.  I have it down and I feel like, as long as it isn’t hot (and it might be) in November…I finally got fueling and hydrating down.  I actually finished off the water in my hydration pack today (which had 2 Nuun tablets in it).  It was a hard run due to heat, but I remain confident and feel strong…and feel that Monumental is shaping up in a good way.

Sunday: 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.

Being back on a schedule was a glorious thing.  Because, despite having a soccer match on Saturday night (that kept me out later than normal)…I was up and ready to chase my sunrise.  I love having recovery runs on Sunday because I can wake up and head out just as it’s getting light out and the sky is turning gorgeous colors.  I make it up to the park just as the sun is climbing over the lake and it’s…my favorite thing to take in on Sunday.  It was nice not to have a distance run or a run where paces needed to be hit because I really enjoy these runs.  I ran comfortably.  Didn’t push it on the hills.  And got in 5 easy, recovery miles.  Perfect way to wrap up the week.

I do believe that my unofficial, official, untraditional taper now goes into effect.  My coach doesn’t taper the usual way…in fact, while mileage might be down a little, usually it’s the intensity that he takes down a notch.  So…we shall see where we go from here.  Race day keeps creeping closer.  But this week was much easier with an extra day off and sliding back into my usual schedule.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #5

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornThis week.  *SIGH*  This week…was one big roller coaster.  It started…going downhill…fast.  Forget the climb.  There was no climb.  There was just this screaming, falling, helpless feeling that just sort of paralyzes you.  But by the end of the week, save for having no one to long run with to pass the time, things were starting to turn around.

The highlight of the week…the cooler temperatures and lower humidity.

It was amazing.

And I think that’s why when Monday went off the rails…I couldn’t figure out a good reason for it.  So, my coach and I are blazing a new path this coming week…so stay tuned for something completely different.

Until then…let’s take the plunge and then slowly climb out of the pit that was…this past week.

Monday: My Monday run is always a recovery run. Usually between 5-7 miles.  And I always run it really well.  Relaxed.  Easy.  Legs feeling good after a weekend of mileage demands.  This run started off feeling harder than the pace reflected.  I chalked it up to not being fully recovered from two long runs (both with a bit of a workout element to them…the harder one being the 3×4 miles in the middle of 15 miles on Sunday) that were done in Extreme Heat.  It was one of the worst and hardest runs I have had in a very long time.  Every mile got considerably slower.  And, when all was said and done, I cut the run short by a mile and called it a day.  I had a hard time accepting it.  And it ate at me the rest of that day.  I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches that morning and had personal training.  And still…I couldn’t let it go.  It wasn’t that my overall pace was slower than I prefer.  Not at all.  It was how hard the whole run felt when it was supposed to be easy.  I felt like I was pushing pace and the pace wasn’t coming, but instead slowing down…mile after mile.  It’s hard for me to let go of bad runs…and this was one of my worst.

Tuesday: Speed Work.  The fresh hell that hits every week.  I dread it.  But I know it’s beneficial and will make me faster in the end.  This week was the Flat Pyramid.  I was to do a 1 mile warm up, then 400m-800m-1600m-1600m-800m-400m with 400m-800m recovery in between each one.  This wasn’t too bad.  The temperature that morning was once again…perfect.  My left calf felt tight, but I figured it would loosen up.  I felt like I was rolling on this one.  But when my runs were done, my second 1600 was just CRAP. For real.  Everything was actually slower than I felt they should have been.  I wasn’t having it.  It made me feel even worse coming off of the crash-and-burn run from Monday.  I figured I should have been recovered by Tuesday.  It was 7.5 messy miles. And I wasn’t happy.  I let my coach know.

Wednesday: Easy, recovery miles.  3-4 of them.  With the week I was having, I wasn’t holding my breath that this would feel good at all.  But, something was different this morning.  I managed to have a decent run.  The entire thing felt easy.  Right at base pace.  Two of my miles were faster than I anticipated, but I wrapped up the run and I felt good.  I felt like I was turning a corner.  No personal training because my trainer had much more important things happening…but I did my additional hip strengtheners again with my daily stretches that morning.  My coach wrote me back and said it seemed like I had just come out of a mental block and was back into one.  He asked me some questions, and that resulted in a very long, very honest, very vulnerable response from me as to what I feel was going on.

Thursday: Speed Work day 2 and my coach was changing up the Tempo Run this week.  After struggling time after time to hit the ladder tempos, he had me running the same amount hard, but this time with just 2 miles in each one.  So 1 mile warm up, 3×2 miles with 0.5 miles recovery between, 1 mile cool down.  I ended up grabbing a wrist band and covering my watch face.  I didn’t set the pace intensity into the workout on my watch.  I decided that it would be what it was that day.  And I ran it well.  I had to stop for a lot of traffic that morning.  And I needed to stretch out my calf a couple of times ( that, btw, feels much better), but it was an impressive run.  One that I was happy with.  I hit the usual tempo pace he wants me to aim for and I didn’t obsess over it or consistently check my watch.  No pressure.  No expectations.  I just let this one ride.  And it worked.  9.5 miles with 6 of them at the proper tempo pace. YES!

Friday: Rest day.  Recovery.  Sleep in.  Except…I haven’t been sleeping well.  Which sucks.  I didn’t get to stretch and then chill and read like I would have liked.  But I did my best to relax.  I checked in with people about long runs, both of which weren’t going to be able to run with me this weekend.  It was also a half day at work.  The original plan was to grab an easy lunch…maybe get grocery shopping done…My roommate and I did grab lunch and headed home.  We ran some easy errands instead of going grocery shopping.  But we did turn on Designated Survivor before I was going to cook dinner.  Except, with 7 minutes left in the episode…the power randomly went out.  I was 7 minutes away from cooking dinner.  Power wasn’t back on by 5:30 (over an hour after it went out)…so we ended up having to go out to eat…again.  We ended up at Dragon King’s Daughter for sushi.  Sushi is one of my favorite pre-race, pre-long run meals.  This was fine with me.  It was just an unexpected expense that night.

Saturday: LONG RUN!  I had a goal of 17-19 on the training plan.  With the awful start to my week, I mentioned to my roommate that I was going to head out early and aim for 19…but I’d be fine if I just did 17.  I used the Maurten 320 Drink Mix for the first time…and LOVED IT.  I never crashed on this run.  I felt strong the entire time.  And yes…I managed 19 solo miles…and my pace stayed pretty consistent and even throughout.  No stomach issues.  I didn’t want to quit.  I didn’t need to randomly stop just to breathe or berate myself for stopping.  It was smooth.  It was the run I needed to round out the week.  And I felt good the rest of the day…refueling, recovering, and…finally grocery shopping (and shopping for my vacation in September too).

Sunday: Recovery run.  4 miles.  Same run I did last week.  It felt good.  I ran a lot of hills on Saturday in my long run, and my legs were definitely feeling that, especially as I tackled one of my least favorite hills along the way.  But, this run was exactly what it was supposed to be…easy, slow, recovery.  And I got some great sunrise views (again…not sleeping well…so hopefully that changes this week).

So, yeah…this week started off rough, but it definitely ended on a high note.  That being said, my coach is taking a WAY different approach with me this week in hopes of giving me the compete reset I need to get back into a proper mindset as I head into my fall marathon.  Wish me luck.  And stay tuned. Because, honestly, I think this is going to be fun.