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?

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Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #10

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornHoly crap, you guys!!  Can you believe that it’s been 10 weeks of training?  It feels like I’ve been doing this for 2 straight years.  Oh…wait…I haven’t stopped marathon training since I started training for Dopey 2018…which means…September 2017.

That’s two years of, dare I say it, injury-free training.  I mean, yeah…I fell down 3 times, but those were bruises, scrapes and just some minor inflammation.  My training has become smarter, more challenging, a bit more demanding at times…but for 2 years, I have been chasing a time goal and I’m finally ready to hit the mark.

We inch closer.  In fact, next week would have been the marathon I was going to run to attempt a 2020 BQ before changing it over to 2021.  And while its still early, the current temps for Erie look PERFECT.  I will NOT be bitter.

So, let’s jump into this week of training, shall we?

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

That’s right.  My usual Monday run.  I had heard rumors that we were supposed to have some cooler mornings.  This was not one of them.  It was around 73 degrees.  I wasn’t loving that.  But…it was just an easy, recovery run.  But, it was also supposed to start raining.  With no thunder or lightning on, and the rain light…I just went for it.  Easy pace.  My left hip flexor was still niggling at me from my Thursday treadmill run.  MEH. It didn’t bother me while running though.  I actually, because I run with my watch covered, lost track of my mileage and went one extra mile.  That was not intentional.  But, hey, the easy pace and the misty rain actually felt good so I wasn’t mad at it.  8 miles to start off the week.  I did my extra hip strengthening exercises with my stretches.  And then I met with Corey for a TON of fresh hell training moves that included box jumps.  Box. Jumps.  This girl isn’t much of a jumper.  But, he got me through it all.

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

Another morning in the low 70s.  MEH.  And I felt like the humidity was back in full swing too.  Oh, and a chance for rain was back as well.  I hate wearing a hat, and here I am starting off my week with a hat on my head to attempt to keep that rain off my face.  I don’t think it even rained at during the time I was out there.  This was the same distance as Monday, but I fell into stride easier.  I felt better rested.  My hip flexor felt a little better.   I ended up with 7.5 easy miles…then got to blast out 0.6 miles of strides.  My first one felt a little stiff, but my legs got moving after that and I managed some 5:00 paces.  LOVE THAT!!  I love it when my legs cooperate with me.   And I felt good afterwards.  But whenever my coach throws strides at me, that means speed work is coming.  And you know…with only one day during the week, that means the weekend holds some paced runs.  OY!  But Tuesday went well, and I fit in the second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.

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

 If you are new to my blog, you might not be familiar with Mona Fartleks.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t either until I started working with Daniel, my coach.  They work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  Of all the speed work that I can get assigned during the week, this one is my absolute favorite to do.  I don’t know why.  The intervals work out to be just over 3 miles.  In the end, I end up with 7 miles total.  That being said, my first push felt a little off.  But I soon found my stride, and while it did feel a bit harder this week, I ended up having one of my better attempts at this workout.  The humidity in the air that early in the morning did make that 1 mile push a bit of a struggle.  I finished it up and was thankful to have those cool down miles to reign it in and just polish up the workout.  I was happy with this.  I met with Corey again for my personal training session and he had me working those “fast twitch” muscles.  It was pure hell.  But I made him laugh a few times.  WINNING!

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.

You are correct, my fellow readers…this is usually my Wednesday run.  But, as I told you…my weekend is pretty stacked as far as long run and workouts go.  So I had an early session and my usual do whatever you want however you feel run…moved to Thursday.  I slept in an extra 30 minutes.  It was glorious.  It was also 57 beautiful degrees this morning.  That, too, was glorious. I loved it.  I loved how good it felt.  My easy pace was actually faster than I thought I was moving.  I loved finding that out at the end too.  I was just going with the flow.  Breathing.  Letting my legs do what they felt while not working too hard.  After all, recovery was still the most important part of this run.  I honestly could have run further.  Longer.  And I would have still felt great.  But I knew I needed to really just get this body recovered for the weekend.  So, I did my usual 4 miles.  My quads were feeling that training with Corey from the day before…so I figured not to press my luck.  But, damn…it felt amazing out there.

Friday:  You know the drill by now.  Friday’s are made for rest.  Friday’s are made for sleeping in.  Friday’s are made for reading.  Stretching.  Eating well.  Getting to bed early.  Except that early bedtime wasn’t happening this time.  After a relaxing morning, and getting through the day at the office…it was the last of the weirdly timed Louisville City FC soccer matches.  Friday night.  MEH.  But, I will show up and cheer and hopefully get enough sleep before attempting my first of 2 paced long runs this weekend.  And for the record…we tied in the soccer match.  It was scrappy.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11 – 13 MILES WITH 3 MILE FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END

I thought I had this one planned out perfectly.  Mindless and a bit challenging throughout, even with the fast finish at the end.  There is a race that does a 5 mile loop near where I live, so I set out to run that twice, and then run fast down the street to the halfway point (this involves some rollers) and then back up (same rollers) to finish it out.  But, what I didn’t count on was that the community park I’d run through would be having some paving done.  Thus, it cut my first loop short at 3.3 miles into the run.  Adjust.  I turned around and ran back the way I came, then set out to run the parking lots at the university before heading back toward my home with the fast finish.  This actually was a perfect morning for running.  It was 71 degrees to start, but there was a lot of cloud cover and a nice breeze.  The fast finish was miscalculated and I needed some extra, so I turned down a nearby road, and into lines of cars from a yard sale going on.  Extra level of difficulty.  I got out of there, made a loop and finished up in the parking lot at my apartments.  I successfully got it done.  My fast finish got a bit faster with each mile, so that’s a win.  Even with the rollers, the hill, and the cars.  Pretty happy with how this one turned out.  It was a perfect morning for a run.  Then, I got to go hang with my friend, Laura, and grab (magic) sushi for dinner.  Setting up for my next challenge the following morning.

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 1 MILE WU; 3X4 MILES MP; 1 MILE FAST FINISH; 1 MILE CD – TAKE 2-4 MINUTES BASE PACE/RECOVERY BETWEEN SETS AT MARATHON PACE

Seriously, my coach must be trying to kill me.  This is the 5th time he has thrown this workout at me…and this time he added some fresh hell.  The one mile fast finish before the cool down.  OY!!  Thankfully, my friend Ron was feeling the need to be tortured for a little while and said he’d give this workout a try this morning.  We met up at The Parklands and got started after I had a Facetime with a friend of mine who is in the hospital.  I hope to go see her tomorrow and bring her some good vibes and love.  This run was definitely for her.  We started off with an easy warmup and then hit the first set of marathon paces.  He was really good at reining me back when I picked up too fast and after the first interval, he said he felt good enough to go to the turnaround point with me.  So, we started the next interval and made it to the turnaround and was able to hit it once more.  With the sun creeping higher, he warned me that he might fall back on these last intervals.  We started them up, and on a hill, I went and he didn’t.  But he did VERY well running those paces with me and I was so happy to have the distraction.  I turned around at the parking lot to head back out for the last interval, recovery, and fast finish before my cool down.  I turned around at the halfway point. Overall, this run got me a total of 16.75 for the day.  Whew.  It was a hard weekend but I came through it, and definitely NAILED this workout this time.  I am thankful to have the assist from Ron.  It was a HUGE help!

With the labor day weekend upon us, I am totally looking forward to Sunday evening with my friends, Melissa & Paul (and Carrick by default).  We have a tradition of cookouts and just enjoying these long weekends together.  A year ago we were in Hawaii together getting ready to run the Kauai Half Marathon.  And then, tomorrow, off to go visit my friend in the hospital.  Busy weekend.  But I love my friends and love having time with them…under very different circumstances.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, loves!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #9

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornEver feel like a week was out to get you?  I felt that way the moment my coach sent through this week’s plan.  It was stacked.  It was asking a lot on my speed work days.  It was challenging me.  I knew it would require earlier bedtimes and early wakeup alarms.  And I was prepared for it.  But…it seemed the universe had other plans for me…

Let’s dive in…

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

After spending so much time last weekend in the heat and humidity, the last thing I wanted to do on Monday morning was get up and head out into the heat and humidity.  I was happy to have the easy, recovery run.  I got up and got dressed to head out on my run and…thunder and lightning started.  I was NOT happy with that.  I was prepared to head to the gym if needed, but it seemed to pass as I started my stretches.  Without the sound of thunder or lightning flashes, I headed back out and just took it easy.  My watch was covered…and I started to concern myself a little more with a strange white truck that would just pull around and park and sit…and it kept doing this.  I ended up looping my mace over my hand just in case, but it ended up driving off and didn’t return as I finished up.  Despite the late start, I got in an easy 7 miles.  I was soaked because it was SUPER humid outside, so I went inside to shower and finish up my stretches with the additional hip strengtheners.  I also met with Corey that afternoon for my personal training session.  He had some fresh hell in store for me.  Plyometrics.  Box jumps.  Push ups.  LOTS.  My knees and, strangely, my ribs felt those box jumps the rest of the week.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: MARATHON PACE – 1-2 MILES WU; 6-8 MILES MP; 1-2 MILES CD

What can I say?  I really, really wanted to push myself on this and test my endurance.  It was HUMID and close to 80 degrees at the start of this run…which happened to start prior to 3 am.  No joke.  I did go inside to get extra water and electrolytes and stopped just a few times to utilize them.  But this run went better than I anticipated.  Considering my legs were really feeling my personal training session, I was a bit nervous about how this would go.  That being said, the longer warmup did help and once I got loosened up, I started to feel better and better.  I did use my Aftershokz headphones again…and loved that when it started to get hard, John Parr’s “Man in Motion (St. Elmo’s Fire)” came on, followed immediately by this year’s theme song, Panic At The Disco’s “High Hopes.”  It was enough to keep me going and pushing a little more.  My iPod keeps dying though on some of these hotter runs, and at first I thought it was the headphones, but now I’m pretty certain it’s the iPod.  Probably from the amount of sweat my body is producing.  Can’t help that.  But I got in just over 12 miles on a Tuesday morning.  Went inside to shower and stretch.

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.

Same run as last week.  Same instructions.  One month of it now.  This time, however, I didn’t opt to go to spin class.  I really wanted to go, but I needed to fit in a second round of my hip strengtheners AND…I had a major speed workout on Thursday, so I needed refreshed legs.  My personal training session was cancelled because Corey comes over from Kentucky and…Trump was in town and shutting down roads.  This is also why I didn’t get a soft pretzel.  MEH!  So, I put in 4 miles, just like the weeks before, and then showered, did my PT exercises and stretches with the additional hip strengthening stuff and called it a day.  I was still sore in my knees (weird for me…my knees never bother me).  I hope to get back to spin this coming week.

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

If there was any doubt that this wasn’t my week…try waking up for the second time to thunder, lightning, strong winds, and heavy rain.  It was insane.  It was loud and violent enough that my friend, Melissa, texted me to make sure I wasn’t outside in the storm and if I was if she needed to come get me and take me home.  Do I have amazing friends, or what?  I kept hoping that the storms would pass, but they hung around all morning.  So, I did my morning stretches and then got my stuff together and…drove through light rain, but the lightning and thunder, to the gym.  Where I did my speed work…on the treadmill.  This was a huge step for me.  Running fast on a treadmill gives me A LOT of anxiety.  But, my friend, Jim wasn’t able to swim due to the storms, so he came up and ran on the treadmill next to me and kept me company.  I started off with an easy run and when that first mile was done, I pushed the speed up to 7:47.  It was all I dared to do on the treadmill.  In hindsight, I could have pushed it more, because I did get comfortable with this pace in the 2 mile pushes.  When I started the first one, I really, really wanted to stop…but Jim was there…and that would be really stupid to stop so soon into the push.  So, thanks to Jim…I actually did the workout as I should have.  YAY!  I was happy to have it done, and started to get some confidence back about working some speed and distance on the treadmill.

Friday: Per the usual…complete rest day.  Sleep in.  Shower.  Stretch.  Read.  Drink coffee.  Head into work.  Get magical sushi.  Prepare for Saturday long run.  This is how I rest day.  I take it super seriously.  I used to think I could ignore actual rest.  Do that “active recovery.”  Let’s face it, friends…active recovery is basically not resting.  IT. IS. OKAY. TO. TAKE. A. DAY. OR. TWO. OFF.  I promise, you’ll actually be fitter for it.  So, I kept it lowkey.  I got my sushi.  I stretched.  I did it all…and I went to bed early so that I could get up early and head out for my long run.  Alone.  Again.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: 17-20 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTIVE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

Okay, first of all…this run was pretty much done at or under my marathon pace for MOST of the miles.  But I honestly wasn’t pushing the pace at all.  Not one bit.  I wanted to be super careful because my left hip flexor is acting up after pushing some speed work for 9.5 miles on a treadmill during Thursday’s thunderstorms.  The important takeaway from today was that I felt good.  The temperature was perfect.  The sun was out and the sky was clear, and yet it didn’t really wear me out or kill me on the run.  I hit hills, because they make you stronger, right…with the hardest hills coming in the final three miles of this particular route.  I felt good.  I did practice my fueling and really think I have it nailed down.  I am really thankful for finding Maurten and having something work SO WELL for me.  I seriously have endless energy…even at the end of a run.  I never crash.  I never feel like I’m dragging.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So, my pace might not look like I didn’t push it, but I honestly didn’t.  I feel good about this.  I am starting to have a phenomenal feeling about Monumental.  Then I went and sat out in the sun to watch Louisville City FC win against North Carolina at Slugger Field.  WOOT!

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

I, surprisingly, felt pretty good on Sunday morning.  I woke up, did my stretches and got ready to head out to chase my Sunday morning sunrise.  I didn’t push any pace.  I just took in the beautiful sky and headed up to the park to watch the sun come up over the lake.  It’s my favorite Sunday summer tradition.  It keeps happening later and later as the summer draws to a close.  It makes me sad, because I used to be able to get it in before there was much traffic or people milling about.  But not these days.  I did get to wave and say good morning to three very attractive firefighters on my way into the park, so I count that as a win!  I focused on the purpose of this run: recovery.  The hip flexor was still slightly sore…but it felt way better today than yesterday.  Will definitely do a couple rounds of rolling again today.

And with that…this week of training draws to a close. I’m proud of the effort I put in this week, and the miles that I managed to log.  This was a stacked and really tough week.  Again, I think that my coach is getting this out of the way now…so that when I’m on vacation, on a cruise, at Disney World…I can be a bit more relaxed with the training.  Crossing my fingers anyway.  Because a long run around a cruise ship is doable…but not my idea of a relaxing vacation.

Now I sit here and wait for what fresh hell this week brings.  I hope you all are having a good training  cycle this time around!

 

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #4

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

HOT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon – Lexington, KY (March 30, 2019)

 

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Crossing the finish line at the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon – Lexington, KY

Race: Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon

Place: Lexington, Kentucky

Date: March 30, 2019

Time: 1:51:14

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.

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Picking up my race bib

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.

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Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata from Bella Notte in Lexington, KY

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.

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I love a race where I don’t have to question my wardrobe choices!

*SIGH*

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.

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Waiting to see Cathy off for the Yearling at Run The Bluegrass this year!

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.

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Mile 7 and looking better than I feel! Shoutout to Matthew Faske for the photoshop work!

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?

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Snagging a piece of candy on the way to the finish line!

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.

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The famous Keenland Starting Gate photo…a requirement at Run The Bluegrass!

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.

Papa John’s 10 Miler – Louisville, KY (March 23, 2019)

 

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Me after earning a new 10 Miler PR at the 2019 Papa John’s 10 Miler

Race: Papa John’s 10 Miler

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 23, 2019

Time: 1:15:52

There was a time when I would tell everyone that my favorite local race was the Papa John’s 10 Miler.  That changed after last year, when I didn’t know we weren’t finishing in the stadium, the course was short, the weather was awful, the shirts were cheap and ugly…

I mean, the race can’t help the weather, but the rest of it…

At the Rodes City Run 10K, it was announced that the course of the Papa John’s 10 Miler was different this year, however, we would be finishing in the stadium again.  Happiness.  There was hope for this race yet.  As for the race shirts…well…I’ll get to those in a moment.

The plan my coach gave me was pretty much similar to the plan he had given me before the Rodes City Run…race the race…and then hit some marathon paced miles in a long run the following day.  The only difference was the distances I would be running.  So, I try not to think about the fresh hell waiting for me on Sunday when I am all-out racing on Saturday.  I, once again, waited until race week to register for this race.  When I told my coach that I was eyeing these for my race calendar, he really took that to heart.  And it was a good way for him to test my legs and endurance in the process.  So, I registered and found out that, once again, I was a seeded runner with a low bib number.  I didn’t put in for that on the registration, it just was assigned to me.  Part of being a consistent runner in these races.  I only missed it a few years due to injury.  And I have come a long way since the first time I ran it in 2012.

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Bold & bright and wearing lots of pink for the Papa John’s 10 Miler (note the seeded bib)

Packet pickup for this race is always at Cardinal Stadium (formerly Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium) in one of the suites.  So, Cathy and I left work slightly early to make the drive into Louisville to get my race packet.  We parked and took the elevator up to the expo.  I immediately saw Chris Powell.  He said, “Can I help you, or are you one of those…I already know…you’re one of the speedy runners.”  Chris…don’t ever stop making me smile.  I walked over to the table for the elite and seeded runners and got my bib.  I was 59 this time.  I was told that the t-shirts were behind me.  And here we go again with the cheap-ass, uninspired, ugly, unisex, poorly fit t-shirts.  If you’re a man…these will look great on you.  If you’re female…well, you’re shit out of luck because this race no longer does women’s cut.  They do these cheap logo shirts now…where you have to size down and still not have it fit appropriately…not impressed.  And it’s too bad, because I used to rave about the Nike, fitted, race shirts that this race used to give out.  Cutting corners isn’t always a good thing.  Not one bit.

Same dinner happened the night before the race…the cauliflower crust pizza I described in the Rodes City Run 10K race blog.  No need to rehash that.  My evening routine was much the same too.  Stretch, foam roll, sleep.  Then wake up, eat, stretch, foam roll, get ready to run.

I had lots of pink showing for the Papa John’s 10 Miler, so my mom was well represented.  It was cold outside.  Which, as you know, doesn’t make me happy.  So I bundled up with layers for pre-race walking to the start and the inevitable wait for the start of the actual race.  Cathy and I had to clear some ice off the window of the car, but we got out on the road with plenty of time to park and make the hike up and over the overpass to get to the start line.

Or so we thought.  The lots that we were told to park in were being blocked by the police from the direction we were driving in from.  This caused us to drive around in various circles through the Louisville streets, with many random turnarounds and wrong turns, with no instruction from the officers themselves…until we finally came at it from the opposite side and managed to get into one of the green lots.

Dear Papa John’s 10 Miler Race Director peeps…….in the future…let us know about road closures if we are coming from, say, Indiana, okay?

And now our little cushion of time was really condensed.  SUCK!  We popped out into the cold morning air, and started to swiftly walk the very far distance from our parking space to the stairs to take us up to the overpass, which we then needed to cross over and then turn the corner and make our way to the start.  The thing was…the start line was further up from where it has been in previous years.  That was unexpected.  We had to pause on our way there, with speakers going in and out, for the singing of the National Anthem.  Cathy was trying to get me to shed layers when our friend Laura came over to say HI and chat for a moment.  I ended up shedding my winter hat prior to the race, as much as I wanted to keep it, because it would hinder my pigtails, and Cathy excused herself to go get a good spot for the start of the race.

Karen Brady and Laura Ferguson.

Photo Credit: The Voice Tribune – Me and Laura at the start of the Papa John’s 10 Miler

Laura and I got to chat a little while longer, and a reporter for the Voice Tribune came over and asked to take our picture.  So, that happened.  She wished me luck and went to find a spot to start from.  I moved a bit further up, spotting my friend Courtney.  She was shivering in shorts, a tank top, and arm warmers, saying that she totally underestimated the cold weather that morning.  I wished her luck and she did the same, saying that she was coming off of a stomach virus and I would definitely be ahead of her.

They were getting ready to start, so I went to get to the left side, and I spotted one of my favorite podcasters, Tina Muir.  She’s amazing and super fast (and came in 2nd female overall in this race!) and went to introduce myself.  She shook my hand and asked me my goals.  I told her that I was hoping to beat my PR on this course, which I went in 2016.  And then she asked me about the course, which I told her was pretty flat leading into the park.  The three miles in the park are hilly, but then it’s flat coming back until the overpass climb at Mile 9.  Then flat to the finish.  She said her coach (also her husband) wanted her to hold back for the first 5 miles and then let loose in the 2nd half.  I was supposed to be all-out the entire time.  I wished her luck and went to stand a few spots behind her, as the elites filled in around me.  I saw her infamous power pose at the start line and before you knew it…the horn was sounding at we were off.

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Me heading out at the start of the Papa John’s 10 Miler

My coach wanted me to not blitz the first couple of miles, and to ease into it with the pace, and then really start pushing it.  So, I attempted to not hit the 6 minute miles and succeeded.  HA!  Honestly, it’s not hard for me because the 6’s are just not a place I can hang.  Not yet.  (Optimism!)  They were between 7:15-7:19.  I was sort of in the midst of that early pace when my friend Dan spotted me from the sideline and shouted out to me.  I gave a wave and a quick, “HEY!” I felt good at this start, but the hard part of the race was yet to come, and with an intense week of training prior to this…well, I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to keep that up, because I had about 35 miles going into a 10 mile race that week.  Whew.  But I was feeling pretty good at the start and was just ready to see what I could do.

Mile 3 is where we enter Iroquois Park.  In case you are unfamiliar with this park, or previous blogs of mine where I mention it…there are hills.  LOTS of hills.  I was hoping they wouldn’t slow me down too much this year.  I wanted to make sure I was charging up them, not letting them slow down too much…and ride…ride those downhills down and prepare for the next uphill.  I managed to make my legs work those hills and remain powerful throughout the park.  I was wearing my hydration vest for the first time in a race, so water stops weren’t an issue.  I came out of the park just after Mile 6 and knew that I had 3 miles until the next climb.

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Trust me, despite the freezing temps, she was happy to be back INSIDE the stadium!

My legs felt trashed after all those ups and downs, but I continued to press, and my pace was able to pick back up as I headed back toward the finish, which would be in the stadium.  I hit the low 7’s on my 7th mile and knew that I needed to wake them back up so that the climb up at Mile 9 wouldn’t kill my speed.  I passed the spot where the start was, and the DJ was out there just really encouraging everyone to keep going.  We were so close now.  I made the turn at the corner and started up the hill.  I was about halfway up when my friend Terry, shouted out my name.  I turned and gave a wave and then powered up the rest.  It officially killed my legs, that climb.  I couldn’t get the speed back after the downhill and the run to enter the parking lot of the stadium.  Here we now run around the stadium to enter on the opposite side that we used to, and then we hit the field.  I had no momentum left, so I was glad this was it for me for the day with no additional miles to tack on.  I ran as hard as I could manage, which wasn’t much, to the finish line and crossed.

Cathy was screaming at me from her spot in the stands and waving at me.  All I heard was, “YOU SMASHED IT!”  I had made a point of not looking at my watch or the clocks again on the course, so I thought I had come in around or after my 2016 time.  But apparently I came in almost a full minute under my PR for this race.  That was UNEXPECTED!

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Me coming across the finish line at the Papa John’s 10 Miler and with an unexpected PR!

I caught up with my friend, Bekah, afterwards.  She still had 6 more to run that day.  I told her good luck with that, as I would be running the following day.  I met up with Cathy outside after snagging some water.  I went to snag the free pizza for her to eat and some of the free race snacks afterwards.  And then…celebrating a new 10 Miler PR…we made the very cold hike back to the car.  Cathy let me wrap the blanket she had with her around my shoulders to help stay warm.  We finally got to the car and I started to get warm…and we spent the rest of the day shopping and celebrating a PR…and then going to the Louisville City FC season opener.  For the record, the coach for LouCity ran the 10 miler and totally beat me in by 7 minutes.

So, the official results of the 2019 Papa John’s 10 Miler were that I finished in 1:15:52, which shaved just under a minute off of my PR time I set in 2016.  WINNING.  I was surprised, because I didn’t feel as strong in this one.  But, sometimes I surprise myself.  246/2981 of finishers overall.  I was the 57/1616 females to cross the finish line.  And, I was the 11/231 in my age division.  BOOM!  Love a shiny new PR.  It might just make up for the shirt I’ll never wear.

We Are The Champions…Again!

If you know anything about me…you’ll know that I am a HUGE soccer fan.

HUGE!

While I never played soccer myself, my love of the game goes back to 1994, when my parents took my sister, brother and I to a World Cup Match at Giant’s Stadium.  I was hooked ever since then.

Four years ago…Louisville, Kentucky got a USL soccer team, and my roomie, my friend Patrick, and I went in for season tickets…and we splurged.  Midfield.

Patrick moved away, and our friend Natalie took over his tickets.  And for the past four years…we have been dedicated to our Boys in Purple!

Around this time last year…Louisville City FC…our USL soccer team…won the USL Championship Cup.  It was years in the making, as we had made it to the USL Eastern Conference Finals the previous 2 years and to FINALLY get the win and put them into the Championship…was a thrill.

We took our friends Melissa and Paul.  And…with 90 minutes gone, Cameron Lancaster buried one in the net, keeping us from extra time, and…dreaded penalty kicks.  We won.

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Paul, Me, Cathy, & Melissa after Louisville City FC won the 2017 USL Cup Finals!

This year, our beloved team had it’s share of ups and downs.  For one thing, we lost our coaching staff about halfway through the season.  We had three players step up to be player coaches until the positions could be filled.  We had a bunch of injuries.  And on a small roster, that has an impact.  We had to get used to a new coach and his way of playing.  We lost games we should have won.  We won games we expected to lose.  The team knew what it needed to do to get back to the playoffs again, and they did it without egos.  And that, is one of the many reasons I love this team.

Last weekend, while I was in Indianapolis preparing to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon…Louisville City beat the New York Red Bulls II and became the Eastern Conference Champions…for the second year in a row.  On to the finals.  The Western Conference Champions this year…Phoenix Rising.  Headed by none other than Didier Drogba!  HOLY CRAP.

BUT…our usual battleground, Slugger Field, has an event happening the day ESPN chose for the match.  So…the game had to be moved…to a smaller venue.  Tickets sold out in 20 minutes.  Thankfully, as a season ticket holder, I was able to snag two tickets ahead of general sale.

They added temporary bleachers to the stadium for this match to allow for a bigger turnout.  But it was SOLD OUT and the seats were packed.  Despite the cold night.

I arrived, ready to see our team take on Phoenix Rising…and Drogba himself.

It was an honor to be able to watch him play.

The entire match was intense.  I normally take videos on my phone, but not last night.  I didn’t touch my phone.  And that’s not just because I was wearing two pairs of gloves on my hands, two pairs of socks on my feet, and four layers on my upper body.  No joke.  I was NOT going to freeze out there.  The first half came to an end…with no goals scored.

But then…at about the 62nd minute…

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Luke Spencer scores an incredible goal putting us ahead. Now…we just had to hang onto it.

The stadium was pure electricity.  Lots of stomping, cheering, clapping, screaming, it was magical.  And stressful.  Because every time Drogba was given the ball (it seems Phoenix’s entire game plan was…get the ball to Drogba), and he took a shot, I think we all collectively held our breaths.

Yellow cards were issued.  Substitutions were made.  Stoppage time was played.  And the final whistle blew.

And Louisville City FC made HISTORY last night by being the first USL team to win back-to-back championships.

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Damn…that was fun.  It also meant that my roomie and I stayed to watch the award ceremony, waited to see if the players made the rounds…and then called it a night.  We walked back to the car, just buzzing with sheer adrenaline from the win.  It was amazing.  God, I love this team.  Proud to be a founding member.

It was a late night (which included a Burger King drive-thru stop for my roomie as she was STARVING)…but we got home and I went into my room and called it a night.  I had a spin class to get to the following morning.  I was glad I went, but damn, it was very hard to get myself out of bed when my alarm went off this morning.

Any of my local peeps attend Louisville City FC matches?  Are you season ticket holders?  For those of you who don’t live in or near Louisville, what sports are you into?  Did you play that sport as a kid?  What teams do you support?  I want to know!!

For now…just riding the celebration wave into the weekend.

Much love for another fantastic season, Louisville City FC!

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Cathy & Me at the USL Cup Championship Finals at Lynn Stadium in Louisville, KY.