Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #3

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhat a roller coaster of a week.  It had ups and downs and lots of emotional spirals that had nothing to do with the training itself…but life.  And people in my life.  Funny how outside stuff can affect you in different ways.  I will never learn that some people will always feel the need to try to tell me how to do things or what to feel…and some people will try to tear me down because they are unhappy with they are…and some people are just jackasses.

I’ve dealt with a lot of jackasses.  When I’m down, I don’t need to be kicked.  And when I’m up, I don’t need to be torn down.

With all that emotional baggage, let’s dive into this week.

Monday: Another Monday morning recovery run.  He wanted this to be SLOW so my legs would be fresh for the first of two speed sessions this week on Tuesday. He gives me a range and asks me to aim for the middle of the mileage.  My legs were a bit stiff from all the time on the treadmill at the hotel over the weekend, but once I found my stride, I felt good.  I kept the pace conversational.  This was a good run in and of itself and I ended up with the higher of the mileage range.  7 Miles total.  I also wasn’t meeting with my personal trainer this week, so I felt like it would all balance out in the end.  It can be a fine line between doing enough and overdoing it.  I wanted to be very cognizant of how I felt each day and adjust as needed.  I added my extra hip strengtheners into my morning PT exercises as well.

Tuesday: Speed work.  God…I hate speed work.  I value it and why it is part of a training plan (especially one where I need to be able to hit and maintain a certain pace)…but it doesn’t come easy for me.  Ever.  And this week, Daniel was hooking me up with some FRESH HELL.  My first ever 1600 Flat Pyramid workout.  This is what that looks like: 1 Mile WU; 400m-800m-1600m-1600m-800m-400m; 1 Mile CD.  I was instructed to do a 400m-800m recovery jog in between each rep.  And the effort on the reps should be “controlled hard” and likely faster than tempo pace, but not quite as fast as rep pace where I get a full recovery.  It wasn’t fun.  I wasn’t a fan.  But I got it done.  And I felt powerful at the end of it.  I squeezed in my second day of the additional hip strengtheners to the morning stretches and PT exercises.

Wednesday: Wednesday turned into a replay of Monday’s run.  So, I ran it exactly as I had done on Monday.  7 Miles.  Slow.  Easy.  This one ended up being a bit faster than the run I did on Monday…and I was pretty certain that would come back to bite me the following morning.  That being said, I was hoping that my time stretching and foam rolling would help counterbalance that.  I wasn’t checking my watch constantly, because that’s a bad habit that I don’t want to have…so I ran by feel.  I ran too fast.  No personal training this week…so that was it for Wednesday.

Thursday: Speed Work Session #2.  And it was a damn Ladder Tempo that I have yet to master.  This is the third time that Daniel has given me this particular workout, and it always seems to fall on the warmest morning of the week.  This was the same.  It was almost 90 degrees before the sun came up that day.  The Ladder Tempo works like this: 1 Mile WU; 3 Miles @ Tempo; 0.5 Miles Recovery; 2 Miles @ Tempo; 0.5 Miles Recovery; 1 Mile @ Tempo; 1 Mile CD.  The tempo part he wanted me to aim for a pace between 7:20-7:50, but to adjust as needed to run by feel in the heat/humidity.  I’m not good at altering things when paces are assigned.  And after the 2nd Mile of the first tempo…I paused and went inside to grab 2 bottles ice cold water…one to drink in addition to the water with Nuun in my hydration pack, and one to pour over my head.  I made plenty of stops to pull these out of the cooler and attempt to keep cool when I was dying.  I don’t mean to complain about the heat…and normally I wouldn’t…but the heat is KILLING me this year.  And it’s mentally draining when I’m struggling to hit paces that never used to be this hard.

Friday: Rest Day.  I stretched.  I hydrated.  I had my friend Michelle over for dinner, wine (I didn’t drink much because of a long run the next morning).  I stayed up late.  I laughed a lot.  I needed every moment of that.  Even if it meant I went into my long run a bit sleep deprived.

Saturday: Long Run.  I had 16-17 on tap this week.  My friend Christine had 14…so we arranged it so that we could do some of the run together.  The humidity lifted that morning, so it didn’t feel as dreadful out.  It was also the Bra Top Squad meet-up at Seneca Park.  So, Christine and I were going to run about 11 miles and then finish up at Seneca with the rest of the ladies that showed up.  The sun came out.  It did warm up, but it wasn’t the killer heat that had been mentally and physically tearing me down.  Christine and I tackled some hills together (which should make our basically flat marathon seem easy) and worked through our run to the meetup.  After the picture, we parted and I went on to run 6 more miles and ended with 17 for the day.  It was the lift I needed, to be honest.  I needed to feel good.  I was happy with it, even with the laps around the park for the final solo miles.  Cathy was on hand blaring inspirational music from her phone each time I passed.

Sunday: Recovery run day.  I had 4 miles to do, and I headed out early to fit them in.  I made sure to include one big hill…but I also had a nice downhill in the last mile.  I felt pretty good the entire time.  And I paused to take a couple pictures in the early morning light.  Then, I made breakfast and headed out to see Spider-Man: Far From Home at the theater.  After that…I had to finish up some grocery shopping, run some errands, meal prep, and finish up the second season of Westworld.  All of which I accomplished.

As of 8:15 pm tonight, my new schedule hasn’t posted.  But Monday usually is 6 easy miles…so I’m going with the theory that it will remain that way this week.  The rest…well, we’ll see.  But I need to get some rest.  So…stay tuned for (hopefully) some additional blogs this week.  And I’ll catch you all up on what happens this coming week after I work through it.

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Bluegrass 10,000 – Lexington, KY (July 4, 2019)

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Me heading toward the finish line of the Bluegrass 10,000

Race: Bluegrass 10,000

Place: Lexington, Kentucky

Date: July 4, 2019

Time: 47:40

Fourth of July means one thing.  The annual 4th of July race.  And for the third year in a row, I decided to make the trip down to Lexington, Kentucky for the Bluegrass 10,000.  This year it was a bit different.  We didn’t ride down with Melissa and Paul this year.  Melissa had a baby back in February, so I knew they would have a bit more of a stressful ride down (especially if they were bringing the baby…which they did…and her mom to watch the baby…so full car as it was) trying to juggle everything with a newborn around.

I got in touch with Linda, my former coach and one of my favorite people (she’s an amazing friend) in this world, to see if she could pick up my packet if I registered, and since she’s in charge of the pacers…she said she already was picking up all of those so she would add to mine.  I greatly appreciated that.  There was no way that I could get to Lexington during a workweek for a Thursday race so I am thankful for people who can help me out.

The night before the race I made tacos.  Not weird.  I love tacos.  And I ended up going to bed relatively early that night, knowing that a very early alarm had to be set for me to get up, hydrate, drink coffee, stretch, change, put on sunscreen, and get on the road by 5 am.  The race in Lexington starts at 7:30 am.  We managed to have breakfast, get ready, and get on the road right on time.  So, that was a definite win.

It was a warm morning, and I dressed appropriately this time.  As Wonder Woman.  With a bra top instead of a tank top.  I’m over the fact that my stomach isn’t flat.  Whatever.  Comfort is way more important and I wasn’t going to overheat this year.

This year, I was opting to give a go at racing this thing again.  I wasn’t sure how I would do.  My body isn’t reacting well to the heat/humidity this summer.  I’ve never crashed so hard on hot runs (yep…even before the sun comes up) as much as I have this year.  Its frustrating.  And it does mentally wear you down, but I decided I would just see what I had this particular day.  My training was relatively easy leading into a Thursday race.  I admit, I might have hit some miles a bit harder than intended…but I felt pretty good on the drive into Lexington.

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Race ready at the Bluegrass 10,000

As we were arriving to our designated spot to park, I got a text from Linda saying where she was parked so we could meet up.  We pulled in moments later, and I got out to get a hug and get my race shirt and bib.  Cathy pinned me up and Linda and I talked for a bit.  Her 8 minute pacer hadn’t shown up yet so she said I might have to hop in and pace.  I was willing to do that if necessary.  We both took the opportunity to use the bathroom before heading toward the start line.  Her 8 minute pacer did show up at this point, so I was reprieved of that duty.  Melissa and Paul weren’t here yet…but did arrive after the pacer photo and with about 5 minutes to the start.  I wanted to hug Melissa before the start, but she was feeding her baby and Paul was grabbing her stuff.  I had to head to the start…and that was that this year.

I lined up near the 8 minute pacer, just as I did last year.  But then I saw people who were, once again, talking about how they wouldn’t be able to do that pace…or were definitely not dressed to hold that pace (is that judgey?)…so I moved up.  And then moved up some more.  The National Anthem was sung.  The wheelchair racers were sent off.  And we all moved up to wait for our prompt 7:30 am start.  We were sent off by a rifle.  It was pretty frickin amazing!

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Start line selfies with Cathy

Here is where I am changing my plan of action for this race next time I run it.  Despite having moved up, I was still blocked by a lot of walkers who were up near the front of the race.  I wish this could be monitored a bit more, but it seems that next year, I am just lining up MUCH closer to the start line.  I was slowed down considerably here, but the start line is pretty chaotic as it is.

The street is really crowded in that first mile, so I bobbed and weaved as much as I could.  We made a turn right before the finish line and headed out to make a loop around some streets.  We make a turn around Mile 2 and start up a big hill.  It’s not a steep hill, but one of those ongoing hills. It wears you down.  I was also making a point to hydrate early and often.  So, if there was a water stop…you best believe I was taking a cup and drinking some of it before pouring the rest over my head.  Keeping that core temperature down this year.  YES!  Oh…and they had some cooling stations on some of the miles…so I used those too.

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The fight for some running space at the start of the Bluegrass 10,000

I hit the turn around point and got a bit of  a downhill.  And this is where I got a lot of Wonder Woman shout outs from people spectating.  And I got a lot of call-outs by Linda and her pacers as they came up the other side of the road.  Man, that was a booster, even when I started to walk the water stops.  No shame in that on a hot day.  I enjoyed the downhill portions and really appreciated the guy at Mile 5 with a hose who just sprayed me down as I ran past.  It steamed up my sunglasses, but damn…I needed that refreshing hit of cold water.

As I ran past the start line of the race, I could hear the race announcer up the way and was getting pretty excited to finish.  I wasn’t looking for a PR today…and I didn’t get one.  But I gave it all I could at that finish line.  I could hear Cathy screaming at me from the bleachers nearby as I ran past and just got myself across the line.  I stopped my Garmin and took a moment to catch my breath.

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Me with Linda after the Bluegrass 10,000

I made my way over to a table with water and snagged a bottle before heading to the sideline to talk with Cathy, who was heading my way.  Shortly after, Linda came across and I went to chat with her for a little bit.  I stuck around for a few of the pacers to make their way in, but I knew that we had an important date with lunch and then Season 3 of Stranger Things (which had dropped at midnight).  So, I gave Linda a hug and we headed out to get back to our car.

On the way back, we did get to see Melissa and Paul.  Melissa switched with the 15 minute pacer and was getting her group to the finish line in good form.  Cathy tried to take pictures, but they weren’t prepared.  I was happy to have caught them before we left.

We went to Target to kill off some time.  Cathy got us some more coffee and a bit of a

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Finisher of the Bluegrass 10,000

snack before we walked around, killing off time before Bella Notte opened for lunch.  There was SO much Stranger Things stuff.  How I didn’t buy it all…I will never know.  We polished off the coffee and headed over to the mall to walk a little more.  Ducked into a few stores, then finally went to Bella Notte to grab lunch.  I had my usual.  Cathy went with something new and different.  And as our entrees were arriving, Melissa, Paul, Deb and baby arrived.  Melissa came over to chat with us before they ordered, and we stopped by as we were about to head out.  We finished eating.  We stopped in at Half Price Books.  And we mad the drive back home to get through as much of the new season of Stranger Things as we could…because we were working a half day on Friday and gone all weekend.

And we got 6/8 episodes in before we had to call it.  Not bad.

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Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata from Bella Notte in Lexington, KY

I’m not sure if I am more proud of that or how I did in the race this year.  I beat last year’s time by 1 minute, but no distance or course PR this year.  It eludes me again.

My official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 47:40…in the best weather (still humid and hot) that I have had in the 3 years I have run it.  And that’s with walk/water stops.  I was 294/2969 finishers overall.  I was 41/1491 female finishers.  And I was 6/244 in my age division.  I actually was better placed this year (with more finishers in each category)…except for my age group.  I need to get out of my head a bit more and just learn to be a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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Stranger Things Binge Watching Marathon ready!

S

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

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Hey everyone!

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

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

And thanks again, Stephanie!

 

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

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

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #2

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWell friends…much to everyone’s dismay as a new Team Challenge kicked in for the MRTT/SRTT group…I had a down week this week.  And it might have been just what I needed considering I raced on Thursday and was out of town over the weekend.  Training when a race is on a weird day works for me…but going out of town never makes training easy.  Especially when you are somewhere that isn’t easy to run without venturing out for a ways to a place with sidewalks and safe paths or trails.  It was what it had to be this week.  And, honestly, I never know where I stand on those challenges because I just do what my coach tells me to do.  I never want to overtrain and/or bring about injury because of these fun challenges.  So…I just stay my course and do my thing. As training hadn’t officially started, my coach let me split the total accumulated mileage between Saturday and Sunday into two mid-distance runs as opposed to a short run followed by a long run…as I was limited only to a treadmill.  You tweak things as you need and just do the best you can with what life is offering at the time.

Let’s dive into this week, shall we?

Monday: This was my typical Monday morning run.  6 miles.  Easy pace.  SLOW!!  He assigns me Mondays as a recovery run from any weekend runs that he puts me through.  And with the past week’s Sunday run being rough…it was a good morning to just take it easy, move the legs, and not put much effort into anything.  I survived another humid morning.  I drank a lot of water, trying to stay ahead on hydration this week.  I also met with my personal trainer.  And then…I returned to my Monday evening spin class with Deana.  It was her sing-along class and it was a lot of fun.  Since it was a down week, I did throw in a few extra things as I figured it wouldn’t mess with my training.  Today I also did one of the two days a week I throw in my hip strengthening exercises to my morning PT stretching routine.

Tuesday: No speed work this week.  My Tuesday run kept it simple.  6 more miles, this time at base pace.  Another humid morning, and this time I had to deal with some stomach issues.  UGH.  It happens sometimes when you have Celiac.  But, I got through it and managed to keep a slightly faster pace than Monday.  I followed that up with a round of 10 strides, which I actually managed to do quickly while focusing on form.

Wednesday: Short and easy run this morning.  3 recovery miles.  He told me to run them SLOW…and I did…for the first one.  And somehow that turned into negative splits without me focusing on it.  So…yeah…this one was probably too fast and should have been done slower.  I wasn’t looking at my watch for each mile…I just ran by feel and it DID feel easy.  No personal training because I was racing the following day, but I did do my second day of additional hip strengthening exercises to my morning PT stretching routine.

Thursday: Early morning.  I needed to stretch, drink some coffee, lather up in my sunscreen, get dressed, and head down to Lexington, Kentucky, for my July 4th race.  I have made it a tradition to go to the Bluegrass 10,000 race there.  My former coach is in charge of the pacers.  Just a bonus fact.  She was kind enough to pick up my packet for me on Wednesday because there was NO way I could make it down there to get it…and there is no race day packet pickup.  Let’s hear it for amazing friends in our lives.  The race starts at 7:30.  It was warm, clammy, and humid.  BUT…honestly, it is the best weather this race has had for the 3 years I have run it.  I dressed appropriately for the weather, wearing my very patriotic Wonder Woman outfit.  Because…I am Wonder Woman.  I raced as hard as I could that day.  I did take short walk breaks through three of the water stops.  And I had a guy at Mile 5 spray me with his hose.  It was a good way to keep my body from overdoing it on a hot day.  No shame in that.  I felt strong at the end thanks to that and put in a time that beat out last year’s time.  Even without a course PR or a distance PR…I was proud of my effort that day.  July 4th 10K in the books…and then a pasta lunch and a 6 hour Stranger Things marathon for Season 3.  I had wanted to finish it…but I had to work the following morning, so I needed sleep more than to get an entire season into one day.

Friday: REST DAY! That being said, because this was a down week and my long runs weren’t really going to be out in the heat, or far for that matter…I decided to drop into my old Friday spin class.  It was a class of 2, but Brittney (the instructor), had taken a training class on the bikes our gym has and gave us a new, challenging, and fun way to use the screens on the bike and really get into a good training mode on it.  I was impressed with how my numbers improved.

Saturday: Welcome to the wonderful world of traveling.  I was up in Indianapolis for a convention.  This hotel isn’t near the Monon Trail.  It’s not even in a good area with plenty of sidewalks and areas to go for a run outside.  I knew going into this weekend that I would be on a treadmill and told my coach.  He had me down for 18-20 miles over the entire weekend, with Sunday being a 15 miler.  He was a bit concerned that would be a bit far to run on a treadmill and we discussed, since training wasn’t really starting yet with my change of venue for my fall marathon…we decided that I could break up the distance over the 2 days I was out of town.  I split the difference…starting with 10 miles on Saturday at an easy pace.  I stopped the treadmill at 6 and restarted it because they only would run for an hour at a time.  The fitness center was crowded (very unusual), and I re-fueled and hit go again…this time messing with some speeds, though still keeping the run easy.  Afterwards…a shower, breakfast, and off to some panels at the convention.  Gluten-free pizza that night for supper.  YUM!  I also stayed up WAY too late on Saturday night, so I knew Sunday might be rough.

Sunday: I had an alarm set for 6 am…but I woke up at 5:30 am so I got up and got dressed and hauled down to the fitness center to fit in the second half of my distance for the weekend.  Same run as yesterday, another 10 miles…which this time I started doing varying, but easy, speeds on the treadmill just so I didn’t sleepwalk through the first 6 miles, which felt like what I did on Saturday.  I was very conscious of the extra fatigue due to the late night and not getting my ideal amount of rest, foam rolling, or stretching while out of town.  I try to make time for it, but I literally just didn’t have the time this trip.  I feel like I normally would, but there was a lot going on.  Got it done before anyone else came into the fitness center.  After my shower and a protein bar for breakfast, I came down and saw the fitness center packed.  Just packed.  So I was good to get it done when I did.  Left the convention just after 11:30 and went up to Carmel, Indiana for lunch at Woody’s Library Restaurant.  And then, the long drive home.  My roommate when to buy all the groceries while I meal prepped, unpacked.  I was supposed to stretch and do my PT exercises…but just didn’t have the time with  trying to multitask everything else.  I did fit it in ahead of finishing up the final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 3.  I foam rolled for the first 20 minutes and then it was on the couch and not moving until it was done.

So, this week was lower on mileage and definitely a much needed reprieve from the endless (it seems) marathon training I have been pushing through for almost 2 years now.  My roommate and I calculated it, and I have been training for and running marathons mostly exclusively, for 20 months now.  Thankfully, they have been continuous and have also had PROPER recovery (okay…maybe not the Chicago to Monumental 2018 stretch…but I felt like I was still in good shape and really wanted some form of redemption from the hot mess that was my Chicago Marathon).  So, I am really ready to get the job done this time, and I’m working very hard in my training to do what I need to to reach those goals, while also listening to any cues my body gives me and helps.  If I need extra recovery…I take it.  And it’s fine.  It’s okay to reset.  Never forget that.  Marathon training, or any sort of training, really asks a lot of you.  So nourish your body, get enough sleep, recover like a champ…and you might be amazed with how far you can go and what you can accomplish.

Back to the norm starting this coming week…and now I feel ready for it.

One more thing…running on a treadmill is NOT my favorite thing in the world.  Treadmills hurt my hips and my body so if I can avoid them, I will.  I’m hurting after 2 days of it…but it had to be done.  But, trust me, I will keep that in mind on my recovery run.  Don’t ever get uncomfortable to the point where it can cause you to sustain an injury.  It’s not worth it, friends.

It was nice to not have to die in the humidity for a weekend though.  Bright side!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #1

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornEver since the Erie Marathon sold out before I was able to sign up for it, my training has felt sort of…meaningless.  I still put in the work, but I had no purpose behind it.  And that, friends, is not where I like to be.  It’s not good for me, mentally, to not have a plan to execute.  I wasn’t just going through the motions, but my heart wasn’t in it.  Where there is no passion, there is no joy.

But this week, I made a decision.

I am giving up my hope of a BQ for 2020.

This was not an easy decision to come to by any means.  I searched every marathon within driving distance between now and the fall cut-off for Boston.  The best courses were all multiple loops…and they just didn’t excite me.  I dreaded having to loop the same path 4-8 times (depending on the race of choice).  After a lot of thinking on it, pondering it, and just…looking at the races I could do and not feeling excited about training for them…I opted to give myself more time.

The hard part was choosing a fall race.  Again, I was limited on distance I could travel due to a birthday cruise I am all signed up for (back when I thought Erie would be a thing and I wouldn’t be training).  I narrowed it down to Mill Race, Columbus, and Indianapolis Monumental.

And after weighing the pros and cons…I settled on a race I ran for the first time last year…Indy Monumental.

GOAL: Boston Qualify for 2021

All that being said, let me point out that training has had it’s own ups and downs these days.  I used to be someone who could handle the heat…but it ahs been a struggle this year.  A big…huge…struggle.  It makes me feel out of shape and underprepared.  And I haven’t mastered what I need to do to make it easier…if anything.  I have hydrated myself, fueled myself, and yet…the struggle, at times, has been beyond real.  Especially if I am pushing pace at any point.  This is not helping me at all with my confidence.  I try not to let bad training runs get to me, but I’m human.  And while I can shrug it off after a few hours, it’s just hard when I know I am capable of doing so much better than I am.

So, let’s recap now that I have chosen a race…

Monday: My coach had me down for 6 miles with the instructions to go SLOW.  Why?  Because Tuesday is usually speed work day and he wants me to have fresh legs for those.  I went out easy and kept it easy.  In fact, my legs felt really good that morning, so I had to remind myself to ease it back on the pace.  Couldn’t ask for a better start to the week.

Tuesday: Speed work.  MEH!  At least it is my favorite workout: Mona Fartleks.  If you haven’t done these…try them.  It keeps things interesting and challenging all at once.  I didn’t stop as much as I have had to this time around…just for traffic when needed and some hydration when it was hard to do it while moving.  My workout was: 2 mile WU; 2×90 sec; 4×60 sec; 4×30 sec; 4×15 seconds (all of which with EQUAL recovery a bit faster than base pace); 2 mile CD.  Any stops I made, I tried to make the turnaround time quick.

Wednesday: Short and easy run this morning.  3 recovery miles.  And then I went to spin class, because I really jus needed to do something other than running.  I’ve missed doing my cross-training and getting my gym time in.  I don’t know how I was fitting it in before.

Thursday: Heading toward a full rest day, my Thursday run was 8 miles on paper at base pace.  I didn’t check my watch at any point, but it turned out I did 7 of them at or below my Marathon Pace.  Whoops. So, I did a cool down mile to make up for that at a much easier pace.  I hate having to look at my watch, but I need to be more mindful of my pace on my easy and base pace days.

Friday: REST DAY! (Thank God!)

Saturday: I flip-flopped my long run days this week because I could have company if I did that.  Being able to run with someone makes me happy.  So, my 10 miler was moved to Saturday.  I met up with Ron at 7 am to try to beat some of the morning heat.  This was supposed to be at an easy pace and then 2 miles for a fast finish.  The 10 miles I ran with Ron were delightful.  We lost some shade after we turned around to head back, and it definitely was warming up…but at least we could get each other through it.  I ran him to 10 and then I turned around to do my final 2 a bit faster.  That part sucked.  But at least I got to see some MRTT ladies out there.  That always helps when the struggle sets in.  I drove home with my air conditioning blaring.

Sunday: I wanted to start early.  The humidity has been INSANE here, and it was no joke today.  And this was going to be a challenging workout…especially in the heat. It was 75 degrees when I headed out the door at 6:25 am.  The humidity and dewpoint made it feel like I was swimming.  Immediately.  My workout: 1 mile WU; 3×4 miles @ MP w/ 4 minute recovery; 1 mile CD.  The warmup felt like a slog and I knew today was going to be hard.  I told myself I wasn’t going to let it bother me, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to instructions.  I did pretty good on the top half of the run.  I stopped a few times to hydrate, but immediately continued on.  It was when I turned around at Mile 9, that the struggle became more than real.  LOTS of stops.  LOTS.  And there wasn’t much shade where I was running at that point either, which made it feel 100x harder.  But I got a bit of a reprieve when a train was going on the tracks.  I sat on some stairs in the shade to wait it out.  And when it was safe to cross, I got up and set back out again.  But now my body didn’t want to push.  I had 2 more miles of marathon pace, and I was stopping more than I was running.  I started to play a bit of a game, where I told myself I just had to run to the next street.  It got me through, and I listened to my body and stopped at each corner.  But I was fading…so I stopped at a shady stoop of a business and sat down for a moment to cool off.  I was almost done with marathon pace, but it just didn’t feel like I could go on.  I let my heart rate go down and allowed my body to cool down again before I stood up to at least finish off that mile.  I managed it and had never been so thankful to run easy again in my life.  But the heat and humidity were beating me down even at an easy pace.  I ended up in a shaded parking lot, recovering once again.  I texted my coach and my roommate to let them know I had a mile to go, but was currently sitting in the shade trying to talk myself into doing the cool down mile.  I know better than to push too hard in heat, so I wasn’t mad at the performance, just aggravated that I was struggling so much.  I did finally get up, shake it off, and jog myself home.  It was one of the hardest runs I have had to get through yet this training session, and I feel like I barely survived it.  My coach gave me a pep talk, telling me what I already know…in the summer you have to go based off of effort and not pace.  That’s never been easy for me…but it was a good reminder.  I made it home.  I took a cool shower.  And I started to recover as best as I could in that moment.

So…here it is, friends.  Another attempt for me to get back to a race that I still feel like, to this day, I never had a fair shake at.  I know I am capable of getting there.  I just need to get comfortable being a bit uncomfortable this summer.  Trust me…this goal is worth all the effort I am putting into it.  I am just trying to train smart and keep it real.

And to keep smiling.  Because if you can’t smile at the end of the day…it’s not worth doing.

Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN (May 25, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line of the Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN

Race: Run for the Berries 5K

Place: Starlight, Indiana

Date: May 25, 2019

Time: 23:37

It’s that time of year, friends.  Yep.  That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens.  And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K.  Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!

The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day.  Why?  I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money.  So it doesn’t happen.  So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.

But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends.  Oh no!!  Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will.  And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.

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Registering on race morning

I woke up feeling slightly “off.”  My stomach was unsettled.  I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help.  At least I was hydrated, right?  It was also VERY warm out this particular morning.  Like humid and hot.  The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in.  UGH.  So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water.  When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it.  I told him I wanted to race it.  Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!!  I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point.  But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?

My speed work sessions during training have been fast.  So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen.  Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon).  Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K.  Because these legs were not made for sprinting.  They were made for…DISTANCE.  But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!

And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have.  Spoiler alert: No PR.  But let me first start with what I did do.  I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw).  I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries.  I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.

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I am wondering why I’m up front!

My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race.  All of these things were accomplished and did happen.  I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky.  It would be better thank bonky!  (Rhyming is fun!)

I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point.  I was amazed how few people were there at this point.  So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting.  Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope.  I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.”  It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time.  Imposter syndrome!

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Me at the start, when I thought I might be able to hang and be fast…

The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off.  And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.

The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range.  Not this year.  I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13.  It felt hard.  And I knew I was fading already.  The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today.  Nope.  I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.

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An icy cold strawberry drink was just what I needed

It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down.  So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing.  I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster.  They kept screaming to slow down.  And they did…without me even commanding them to do so.  Mile 2 was at 7:35.  After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting.  Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core.  I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.

There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line.  You actually sort of go uphill to the finish.  Brutal.  And I was fighting.  I was fighting with all I had to get there.  I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on.  I think someone passed me.  I don’t really remember.  But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion).  Mile 3 was 7:53.  I was going off the rails.  The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done.  I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first.  It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.IMG_1097

As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes.  I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.

We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink.  YES!!  It was perfection.

IMG_1102The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast.  Seriously.  And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it.  My card and time were in fact…right.  I was first in my age division.  How about that?  I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).

I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere.  Not on Facebook.  Not on Pacers & Racers.  Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results.  BUT…here’s what I can tell you…

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Age group pint glass from the Run for the Berries 5K

Officially…I had positive splits.  But positive splits for positive people.  I finished the race in 23:37.  I was the thirteenth woman overall.  And I was first in my age group.  That’s it…that’s all I got.

And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start.  Fingers crossed.

And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them.  But, I am not currently holding my breath!

Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN (May 18, 2019)

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Me after finishing the Geist Half Marathon – Fishers, IN

Race: Geist Half Marathon

Place: Fishers, Indiana

Date: May 19, 2018

Time: 1:49:06

Time got away from me on this race recap as we are almost one month removed from it.  My apologies.  Marathon training is back in full swing (again)…and I’ve just been busy.  Even on weeks that haven’t had a stacked training plan.  Hey…I do have an actual job (if I could make a living is a blogger…that would be amazing, but it’s not my destiny) and some obligations that happened between then and now.  But…here I am…finally getting this written up.

I will preface it with this…going into this race, being only weeks off of a full-on marathon where I attempted (and almost hit) a BQ race, my coach and I agreed to use this one as a training run.  No pushing the pace.  Keep it easy.  And with the humidity and weather trending the way it was for Saturday morning, I was relieved that this was our decision.  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Let’s start on Friday evening, after leaving work around 2-ish to head up to Fishers, Indiana to get to the expo and pick up race bibs.  I say bibs, because once again, Cathy was taking a spin at the 5K.  We did hit some traffic jams, of course, but we finally arrived and I was ready to get my race stuff and do a quick walk through of the expo (it’s tiny…honestly) before checking into the hotel just up the way.geist01

The expo was simple to explore. You can do the first part of it as you enter St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital.  There are a few vendors, but nothing that I, someone from out of town, really needed to stop and check out.  So, Cathy and I maneuvered ourselves to the back of the room to the table set up for packet pickup.  I went to get my bib for the half, and Cathy went to get her special VIP bib for the 5K.  We don’t remember her signing up for VIP…but she had VIP.  So…who knows.  After that, we checked out the second half of the expo, simply walking past the booths, heading to the room near where we entered to pick up our race shirts.  The 5K was short sleeve.  The 10K was short sleeve.  The half marathon…long sleeve.  It’s an April race…if it’s not the really cool hoodie thing that I got last year…I want short sleeves.  But, the shirt was very nice…so I won’t complain.

That was it for the expo.  We were in and out in about 5 minutes and heading up the street to the hotel we stayed in last year.  Check-in took a bit longer than usual, because someone was checking in bunch of different people in different rooms (not sure for what, but it wasn’t for the race).  But eventually I got up to the front desk and got our room, up on the 2nd floor.  We hauled our luggage up to the room and now were waiting on our friend, Greg, to meet up with us so we could grab dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant (my new favorite place to grab food when in Indy).  It was taking a bit longer than expected because…traffic…so Cathy and I split a Clara Cookie that I had picked up at the Glass City Marathon expo in Toledo.  It was the Peanut Butter one.  And it was delicious.  And it was perfect to keep the tummy rumbles at bay while we waited for Greg.

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Pre-race Dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant in Carmel, IN: Spinach Mushroom Tacos with Sweet Potato Fries

He did finally make it and we headed down to see him, somehow missing him when we walked through the lobby.  We ended up doubling back and finding him.  Hugs all around before making the drive from Fishers to Carmel, Indiana to eat dinner.  We ended up finding a really good parking spot and were seated immediately at a corner table.

I had looked at menus online, so I was prepared and ready to go with my order.  Greg got the Triple Grilled Cheese and a beer.  Cathy got the Friday special of Fish & Chips (her favorite), and I got Spinach Mushroom Tacos.  I didn’t ask for extras or for hot sauce, because with the race the following morning, I was hoping to keep things mild.  With it, I got a side of the sweet potato fries (which are gluten free!).  We spent the time waiting on the food (it did actually take awhile, but they were PACKED that night) chatting and catching up on things that we had been up to.  And when food arrived, we dove in.  Tacos, however, are one of those foods that once you pick it up to eat…you’re committed and you just have to keep going on it.  So the tacos disappeared first…then I hit up the fries.  We all seemed pretty satisfied with our meals.  Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to hang out.  I did some foam rolling.  Greg left after a bit more talking and we got ready to get some rest with a 7 am start time staring us down.

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Cathy feeling good on race morning for the Geist 5K

I always set two alarms for race morning.  I got up with the first one to take a pill…use the bathroom, then crawled back into bed for another hour.  The second alarm went off, which is also Cathy’s alarm.  We’re actually really good about staying out of each other’s way…letting each one have a turn in the bathroom, and getting ready pretty quickly.  We have this race morning thing down.  So even early start times aren’t too stressful.

With the way the morning was heating up already, I went with the new Boston crop top that my friend Natalie got me as a gift for finishing Glass City in Toledo (even without the BQ). I love this crop.  It’s motivation in and of itself.  And…shorts.  My compression sleeves were pink to honor my mom’s continuing battle against breast cancer.  I made sure I had two Nuun tablets in my hydration pack’s bladder to help balance out electrolytes, because it was definitely going to be a sweaty race.

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Loving my new crop top that Natalie gave me…my outfit for the Geist Half Marathon

We left the hotel room early, but I forgot to grab something and had to go back in.  Cathy went down to the lobby without me, where she met a runner celebrating her birthday.  Her name was Katie, and not only was she a Disney runner, but she was Bib 34, celebrating her 34th birthday.  AMAZING!!  She was super nice and I actually ended up running into her again as she and her family were headed to the hotel pool as I was heading up for a shower and to pack up to head out for lunch and then get home.

Cathy loves parking at the school which used to host the expo for this race.  We never have trouble finding a spot.  And while it is a bit of a hike down to the start line, it is never hard to get to and from the parking area so we can get back to the hotel without any stress.  So…worth it.  We parked and made the walk toward the start area.  I got a text from my friend Jay, and I went and met him at the Fishers Running Club tent.  But, like I said…start time was 7 am….so while their club was getting their photo taken, I meandered down to check out the start line.  It was about this time that I realized that I had left my fuel (save for the Generation UCan I had for 20 minutes before the start) back in the hotel room.  I had enough UCan to get me through a half marathon…but with the heat, I wasn’t sure if I would need backup or not.  So, I was bummed.  Big time!  Whoops!

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Why am I so happy? No pressure pace race!

The 10K and Half Marathon start on the right of the line.  The 5K starts to the left.  So, after snapping a couple of photos, Cathy and I parted ways: she went to line up in the 5K corrals and I went to find a spot at the start for someone who wasn’t racing.  I was hoping for at least a 1:50 half…so I stood near that pacer.  The National Anthem was sung…and the lyrics were flubbed, but we were close now to the start.  I took in some water and readied myself for a training run with a medal at the end.

I made a point to stay just in front of the 1:50 pacer in the first mile.  There were a lot of people going all-out, full throttle from the start, and I really think this worked against them that morning.  The emcee announced that it was the hottest Geist Half Marathon to date!!  So, holding back I think helped me not have burnout, like I did last year when I just gunned it at the start and then ended up having walk breaks at water stops.  I don’t think walk stops are a bad thing, but when you’re gunning for a PR…it’s not exactly something you usually incorporate.

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Cathy and I pre-race…she’s about to head to the 5K side and I’m about to line up for the Geist Half Marathon

This year…I was supposed to keep the pace easy…and treat this as a training run.  Mostly because I was fresh off a marathon.  In the end, this tactic seemed to work for me.  I never really felt awful at all.  And I was able to run the entire time.  Was it my slowest Geist Half Marathon to date?  You better believe it!  Am I okay with that?  You better believe it.

I continue to come back to Geist, despite the heat and hills (dear, God, are there ever hills!), because of the atmosphere.  It’s stunning.  The race runs you through gorgeous neighborhoods, starting at the corner you turn soon after hitting Mile 1.  The people who live there come out with speakers and with treats and with sprinklers and with sidewalk chalk and cheer and encourage.  And it just makes you feel good.  You belong there.  The 10K and Half Marathon stick together for about the first 3 miles. Just before that Mile 3 marker, 10K runners are instructed to go left, while Half Marathoners are told to keep going straight.  This year, I was running near a young man who had his headphones in, wearing a 10K shirt and bib…and didn’t hear the instructions.  So, it seemed he was getting himself into more than he was ready for.  He was yelled at by volunteers at least 5 times.  THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WEAR HEADPHONES IN A RACE.  Or, if you must, keep that volume at a reasonable level, okay?

This is the point where we cross the reservoir again (we do it the first time as we head out from the start).  I love this part because it’s gorgeous, but also because there is usually a nice breeze coming off the water.  Love it.

The halfway point came and went.  I would normally fuel at this point…but I was just relying on that superstartch to get me through the heat.  I still felt good, mostly because I wasn’t really pushing any sort of pace…wanting to just keep my momentum moving forward without stressing over a goal time.  There were plenty of water stops along the way, and some cooling stations as well.  If there was water being sprayed at any point, you better believe I was running through it.  I used the water stops to grab the cups of water and pour them over my head.  Every stop.  Without fail.  Trying to keep that core temperature down.  This worked.  Honestly.

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Me running to the finish of the Geist Half Marathon

From everything to remember on this course, I always remember that Mile 9 is a giant hill that we have to run up.  I passed a few people on this, who had shuffled to the side to walk up it.  I gave a couple of people a “nice job” as I jogged my way up.  Hills are a MAJOR struggle for me.  So why do I do this race?  It’s my PR race.  On a harder course.  So…one day, maybe it will all click again.  It wasn’t that day though.  Nope.  Not that day.  Not in that heat.  At the bottom of the hill, we make a turn to head back toward the bridge to go back over the reservoir and then back into the neighborhoods and then back to the finish line.  It was at this point, a man behind me said, “Are there any more hills?”  The volunteer stationed there said, “I don’t know…maybe little ones?”  I laughed.  Out loud.  The last 3 miles are basically retracing the start of the race.  People were still out cheering, offering orange slices, water, whatever runners might need.  More importantly were those who would shout out that you were getting close…that the finish line wasn’t far…that we looked strong.  Some people who were struggling, they would ask if they needed anything.  Honestly.  THE BEST.

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Me crossing the finish line at the Geist Half Marathon

As I was making the turn at Mile 12, I passed my friend Jay.  He told me I “looked strong” and I decided to give picking up the pace a shot.  The road to the finish line always seems long, but as you get close, you get the crowd and you get the announcer.  I passed a few people.  Got passed by some people.  But, ultimately, entered that chute and ran towards the finish line.  I saw Cathy on the sideline and she started screaming at me to cheer me in.  With hands held up…I finished the race.  Another Geist Half Marathon in the books.

Cathy made her way over to the finishers area, and had me stand under the spray of a cooling station there.  It was nice and felt really good.  Jay found me as we were leaving to head up to the VIP area for Cathy to grab free beer and some snacks.  He invited me to stop in at the Fishers Running Club tent for any sort of refreshment.  I took him up on that before we went to get official results and let Cathy have one more go at the VIP area.  I have videos on my cell phone of her first go-round in the VIP section. HA!

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Cooling off at the cooling station

I went to get my results printed and after the paper was handed to me, I glanced at it and went, “Holy crap.  Third in my age group!”  For the first time…without trying or even racing…I once again placed in my age group.  This was becoming a fun trend.  I went to the awards table next door and was handed a little cinch bag with the words “Age Group Winner” on it.  I always have use for bags…but this one would have to be on display.  We then went back to the VIP section…Cathy went in for beer and fruit and I hung out on the curb near the gated off area.  We chilled for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the hotel room so we could cycle through showers and head back to Carmel to grab lunch at…yep…Woody’s Library Restaurant again.

So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:49:06.  It was my slowest Geist Half Marathon yet…but I felt good throughout it, never really fading.  That’s a testament to Generation UCan if you ask me.  So, I was 104/942 finishers overall!  I was the 18/450 women to cross the finish line. And I was 3/87 people in the my age division! How ironic is it that I finally snagged an age group award on my slowest finish time for this race?  In 2014 (my PR year), I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th.  In 2018, I was 5th.  Nailed it.  Somehow.  Without trying.

And yes…I can’t wait to have another spin around the reservoir next year!

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Unexpected Age Group Award at the Geist Half Marathon