B.A.A. 5K – Boston, MA (April 16, 2022)

Cathy and me under the cherry blossoms after the B.A.A. 5K

Race: B.A.A. 5K

Place: Boston, MA

Date: April 16, 2022

Time: 26:46

Because I needed a shakeout run prior to the Boston Marathon, I opted to register for the B.A.A. 5K and use that as my shakeout, leaving me my usual rest day prior to a long run/race for the day before. And I did promise my coach, Kim, that I wouldn’t pull a New York City and be on my feet too much leading into the big day.

Me and Cathy at the corrals of the B.A.A. 5K

When you aren’t racing a 5K, they are way more fun, let me tell you. But this was a good way to kick-start the weekend for sure. And my roommate, Cathy, was also going to run it. That was my fault. I convinced her that since we were in Boston, she should at least do that and she’d get to make that famous turn from Hereford onto Boylston and run under that famous finish line. Worth it, if you ask me.

The B.A.A. mails out the bibs for this race for most people, and we received ours a couple weeks ahead of the trip to Boston. I repetitively reminded Cathy to NOT FORGET to pack those bibs. And she didn’t. But I think it’s because I kept freaking out about it and she finally put them in her trip folder.

Gluten Free Fried Pickles, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, and Chips & Guacamole

I spent much of Friday traveling, at the expo, and doing some fun sightseeing with Cathy and my best friend since childhood – Heather. The expo was much smaller than I remember it being in the past (someone else back me up on this) and the Adidas (official merch) part was INSANE! Like, insane insane. So crowded. Lines that wrapped. Crazy. We survived that and had some fun and random experiences at the expo. We legit stumbled across Meb at the KT Tape booth. Got his autograph and had a great conversation with him (per usual).

We grabbed dinner at Tavern on the Square, which had so many amazing gluten free options that we all got small plates to share and then got our mains. There was a lot of food, but it was DELICIOUS. Gluten free fried pickles. Yes please…more of that in my life from here until forever. My main dish was the Quinoa Bowl, which was roasted cauliflower, winter squash, beets, broccoli, kale, avocado, goat cheese, and crispy carrots over a bed of quinoa. It was amazing. Very happy with our decision to go there to eat. Sat outside. Had a great view, and a very fun waiter, Melvin, who kept us laughing and entertained.

Quinoa Bowl from Tavern In The Square

We returned to the hotel that evening completely stuffed and ready to cycle through showers and get some rest. I set an alarm to give us time to get the three of us through the bathroom and getting dressed to head to the 5K start…and it seems to be the wake up time we’ve stuck with this entire trip.

We made the walk to Boston Common and over to the race staging area. Heather was kind enough to hold my jacket (it was a bit cool to stand around in my tank top that long) when I went to head to the corrals. Wave 1 had white bibs and Wave 2 had blue bibs. Wave 1 was going to go first and then the blue bibs were supposed to line up after us and…you know…be Wave 2. But it didn’t work that way.

A very windy day at FanFest

Because there was no one helping at the corral entrances. So everyone just sort of piled in. And when the first wave of pros went to move…we all started to move…and everyone else who was standing outside saw everyone going and all flooded into the corrals. So…by the time the corral I properly placed myself in for my shakeout pace got up to the start line, the pros were already done. Legit, I saw Kiera D’Amato in the finisher’s chute (I mean…that was really cool, but…). So, people were flooding into the finish line by the time I was starting. I wasn’t happy about that.

Thankfully, for me, this wasn’t a race. With everyone from every wave together, it made for a lot of bobbing and weaving (which, honestly, can be a bit dangerous) around other runners who have a more deliberate pace than me. I did my best not to trip and stumble, and carefully weave through the crowd as I made my way into the first mile. Let me tell you, Boston even loves the 5K as there were plenty of people out cheering and encouraging everyone out there. It made me smile. I’m all about smiles on the run.

Finish Line Feels

After Mile 1, we head under a bridge, where everyone started WOOOOHOOO-ing. It was such energy. I loved it. We make a turn and head back, going back under the bridge, with more WOOHOO-ing and more energy, and then we head toward Mile 2, by making that famous right turn onto Hereford. Climb that short hill, and make that famous left turn onto Boylston.

Now you get to run the longest stretch of road ever, where you can see the Boston Marathon finish line, but it seems so far away. AND…you do get to cross it, but don’t get it twisted…this is NOT the 5K finish line. You have to run all the way down Boylston, past FanFest and make a turn just after Mile 3 to head into the finish line.

I spotted Heather immediately and waved at her as I ran to the finish. I walked through the crowd at the finish to get my medal and head back into the staging area to grab the snack bag and my t-shirt. I went to find Heather and drink some water while we waited on Cathy to finish. I was tracking her so I had a good idea of when she would be rounding the corner. We cheered her in and went to go wait for her on some bleachers near the exit. We started talking about the mess at the start and she said there were a lot of angry runners near where she was lined up (she was Wave 2 even).

Tourist Pose on the Boston Marathon Finish Line

You win some, you lose some. I accomplished my goal of running an easy couple of miles and enjoyed most every part of it. The part that was frustrating, well, that’s just part of what sometimes happens on race day. I was just surprised there weren’t volunteers at the corral entrances to help direct a little bit more. In the end, it was fun, and I had fun, and it accomplished the purpose of the run…and earned some bling too.

Spent the rest of the day at FanFest and going to check out the Finish Line. Then we went to the Boston Red Socks game. I mean…a game at Fenway…count me in!! Had a blast hanging with Cathy and Heather and doing the wave and listening to the crowd boo people on the Minnesota Twins, and then having to Google why they are booing these players. True story. And we got a Green Monster home run…so BONUS!

After 2015…this trip is already 100% more fun! Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Anyway, the results of my shakeout run at the B.A.A. 5K are that I finished with an official time of 26:46. I was 2622/8193 finishers overall. I was the 971/4584 women finishers. And I was 141/665 in my age group. And because I was literally running easy, all my finish line photos look amazing. HAHA!

Heather, Me, and Cathy at Fenway to watch the Boston Red Socks vs the Minnesota Twins

2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon – New York, NY (March 20, 2022)

Me at Mile 11 of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

Race: United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

Place: New York, NY

Date: March 20, 2022

Time: 1:43:41

If I hadn’t made it clear in years past…I LOVE NEW YORK CITY!! And I hadn’t been back to the Big Apple since I raced the NYC Half Marathon back in 2018. That is way too long…but you know…global pandemic.

Here’s what I can say about going into race day this time around. I made A TON of bad decisions leading into race day. I landed in NYC on Friday…REALLY early. My roommate and I caught an early ass flight out of Louisville to New York, direct flight. Love that story. Maybe not the early ass part, but I mean…it meant more time in the city. We landed, grabbed my luggage, and went to meet our car service to get the lift from LaGuardia Airport to the Chelsea Flower District, to our hotel, The Cambria. The problem was, a truck was blocking the road, so our driver let us out at a corner and told us which way to walk to get to the hotel. Since it was the Flower District…we had to dodge, not just people, but also plants. So. Many. Plants. On. The. Sidewalk. But…somehow I maneuvered my bag (which is as big as me, I swear) to the hotel and we got checked in. Our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our luggage and went out to get coffee and head to the expo.

First flight since 2020!!!

Let’s start with my first mistake…ALL THE WALKING. Granted, the race was 2 days away, but I spent pretty much all of Friday walking the streets of NYC. After not finding an ideal coffee spot, we ended up getting Starbucks…and continued on our way to the race expo. I should have checked the info, because we went to where it had been in the past. Guess what…it had moved. WHOOPS. That will teach me to read all the information they send in those emails. HA!

United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Expo!

So, we turned around and started to make our way to the actual expo, which was held this year at Center415. We had to show our Proof of Vaccination and our photo IDs to enter, and that went smoothly. Then it was off to the races…figuratively…because it’s packet pickup. The expo was smaller than I expected, but the process of getting a bib was as easy as showing a QR Code and getting your corral letter stuck onto a bib. Seamless. Went from there to take a couple of pictures and then continued on into the merchandise area. If I liked New Balance shoes, I would have been tempted to buy the special ones they had…but I don’t like New Balance shoes. Instead, my roomie gifted me with a cute running jacket and a t-shirt. I thought about getting one of the winter hats, but they weren’t overly special…so I didn’t. We headed out…and went to wander around Manhattan…with a stop at Tiffany’s (I didn’t buy anything…don’t be shocked). We grabbed a quick lunch of soup at Fresh & Co (because I suddenly realized I was starving). Then we went to Rockefeller Center to watch some people ice skate and to grab chocolate from our favorite chocolate shop.

Food from The Little Beet

We then made the trek back to the hotel to see if we could check in yet. We could not. Booo. So, we went to sit outside in the sunlight for a little while. I don’t like just sitting, but I did it and checked out the menu for where we were going to grab dinner, The Little Beet. After many attempts at getting our room, we were finally given keys and went up to room 1205, which was just off the elevator and in the corner on the left. The rooms were nice. We placed our dinner order and waited for it to be delivered. It was SO GOOD that we ordered from The Little Beet two more times while in the city.

After eating, we got dressed up because we had tickets (my birthday gift to my roommate) to see Come From Away on Broadway (which, let me say right now…one of THE BEST Broadway shows I have seen). I was going to wear heels with my pretty dress, but my roomie talked me out of it. I didn’t have sneakers that matched the dress, but she said no one would care. My coach, Kim, later thanked her for doing that, HA! We made the long walk to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, located between Broadway & 8th Avenue. It was a pretty long walk, so not wearing the heels was actually smart. The show was SO amazing. Like I said, one of the best shows I have seen TO DATE!! Highly recommend. After the show, we made the long walk back to the hotel to shower and get some sleep.

Come From Away on Broadway

Woke up on Saturday morning and headed down to Central Park to do a shakeout run. We finally bought our MetroPass so we could ride the subway. That helped. Way less hiking. I got to Central Park way earlier than expected so went on my 30 minute shakeout…somehow managing to get myself a little lost after turning around and heading right back to where I started. I have the worst sense of direction. THE WORST! But I made it back. And then met one of my favorite Peloton instructors, Mister Power Zone himself – Matt Wilpers. That was really cool. He’s very genuine and just how he is on the screen of the Peloton tread or bike. Took a photo with him and had to get back to the hotel to change and head out because today was “being a tourist day.” Which meant, I was taking my roommate to the Statue of Liberty, because with as many times as we have traveled to NYC…she had never gone to the statue.

Meeting Peloton instructor, Matt Wilpers

Enter my next mistake on this trip. Can you guess what it is? We went down to catch the ferry, which was fine and easy and quick. You did have to go through airport level security, but that wasn’t too bad. We didn’t get a spot to sit down on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. It was chilly on the water, and the wind was really insane. But…we docked and got off the ferry and made our way to the statue. She was just as I remembered her. The crown still isn’t open, but we were allowed to go up to the Pedestal. This is where I made the error of climbing the stairs up to the Pedestal. Sorry, Kim. I wasn’t thinking. It was 215 stairs, or about 10 stories. But, the views were amazing. I did a lot of the infamous “tourist pose”. And after we made the circuit, we went to head back down. More stairs. Good times. After that, the ferry stopped off at Ellis Island. We grabbed a snack after a little wandering about…an orange and some chips. And water. I was terrible at hydrating too. Whoops. When we got back on the ferry, we returned and made our way back to the hotel. Yes…that pretty much took the extent of all day. WORTH IT. The race was the following day, and while we had intended to go get some sushi at a nearby establishment, we opted to order in The Little Beet again. I got more grains this time with my bowl, and added beets (because those are supposed to help with running performance). After that, I foam rolled and stretched and got ready for bed…because the following morning…was RACE DAY!

Climbing the stairs inside the Statue of Liberty

When we were here in 2018, we took the subway to Brooklyn and ended up packed like sardines in the train car. With Covid-19 still being a thing, we opted to skip the subway ride to Prospect Park, and instead hired a car to take us there. It was an easy drive in, and we went across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was really cool. They dropped us off across the street and we went to sit down on a bench for a little bit, since we were still a little early. I brought my pre-race fuel to eat on the walk to the start, but Cathy went ahead and had her breakfast while we waited and chatted and watched some warmers do some strides or get some easy miles in ahead of the race. After a little while, I needed to head into the park and to the corrals…so Cathy went to catch the subway to the Manhattan Bridge and I went to go find some friends inside the park.

Me ahead of heading into Prospect Park for the start of the United Airways NYC Half Marathon

The first sound I heard was the voice of Ali Feller (of the Ali on the Run podcast), which felt so calming, honestly. I ate my overnight oats while I walked the path past the port-a-potties and to the corrals. I was in Corral D, and was hoping to meet up with my friend Andrew and see my friend Shana (she was volunteering at the start). And guess what? I met up with both of them. Shana was at my corral entrance, and we snapped a quick photo together. And Andrew and I got quite a few photos, some with me in my throwaway clothes (which were not human highlighter equivalent), and some of me in my race clothes (way more colorful). It was SO NICE to have someone to chat with while we waited in the corral. He’s just as fun in person as he is on Instagram. We went to run our own races at the start, but we stayed together as we jogged across the line.

This was a different route from the one in 2018. There was much more Prospect Park in this version, including a very annoying hill in the first mile. The start was pretty crowded, so I just tried to stay in the flow and not go out too fast. I succeeded in doing that and even picked up the pace a little as we headed out of the park in the first mile and onto Flatbush Avenue. This was fine…except for the 180 turn before Mile 2. After that…it was just a matter of getting to the Manhattan Bridge. The miles felt fast here, but I knew that Mile 5 was the climb onto the bridge. It was also where I fueled with Maurten. The bridge was a slog to get up, but there were so many people heading up the incline that it didn’t feel too hard. I also knew that somewhere on the opposite side would be my roommate. And boy…was she ever there…screaming her fool head off at me. I gave her a wave and a smile and rounded the corner to head toward FDR Drive…where you can legit SEE the city. I fueled again at Mile 10.

Andrew and me before the start of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

I could tell my legs were getting tired way earlier than wanted them too. That climb on the bridge took a lot of speed out of them, especially after spending so much time on my feet in the two days leading up to race day. As I said, many, many mistakes were made. But it was fine, I could do this run, even if I did slow down. I was slowing down. But, I still felt good. So that’s all that mattered.

At Mile 11, as we headed through Times Square, my roomie caught me on the course again. I could hear her over the roar of the crowd, but I never could find her. I gave a wave and smile and focused on now heading up the long and slow climb of 59th Street. We turned a corner and I knew I had about a mile left and we were heading into Central Park. This was the other big difference from 2018…way less time in Central Park. But it was an uphill finish, which is pure evil, but, I had run it in my shakeout run, so I knew that was the case. I tried to pick up my pace, but my legs were toast. I crossed the finish line, and for the first time in a long time, felt wiped. I was DONE.

Me just after the Manhattan Bride

I made sure to pick up my medal and get the little snack bag and a Mylar wrap on my way out of the park. That was a fun little hike, and we were let out at Columbus Circle, which was where I was meeting my roommate. We went to go sit down and my official time popped up. It was a course PR (because new course, LOL), but it wasn’t the time I was hoping to get in the buildup. I was okay with it…kind of. BUT…I did the best I could on that day. That I did know.

After sitting around for a few minutes, we went to hop on the subway to go back to the hotel so I could shower and get changed. I texted my coach and we made plans to meet at her hotel before she left. So, we headed back toward Central Park, and saw the Stranger Things Experience…so we got tickets to do that and then had to duck back into the subway station to get across the street and walk towards Kim’s hotel. I met her in the little hotel restaurant area. And I was so happy to meet her in person for the first time, after having worked with her since December. She is wonderful. And as mad as I wanted to be at myself for my finish time, she kept reminding me that it was a difficult course and I was in the midst of marathon training. I couldn’t be mad. We hung out and talked until it was time to head back and do the Stranger Things Experience. It was free admission, but you end up buying ALL THE THINGS because the show is amazing and it made me want to do a rewatch leading into the new season which comes out next month.

Stranger Things Experience

That night, we got dressed up once again (and this time I did wear heels) and took the subway into Harlem to meet up with our friends Marisa and Jim for dinner. It was so fun to catch up with them (we hadn’t seen them since their wedding) and eat a great dinner. The food is always delicious and the entertainment…amazing. Gotta love a live jazz band. It was loud, but it felt normal. And I’ve been searching for that for years now. Oh, in case you were wondering, I got the Spicy Charred Glazed Cauliflower – roasted tomatoes, bean puree, cilantro-yogurt sauce. It was heaven on a plate!! And I got a celebratory pint of Angry Orchard cider…because it was a celebration! Did I get dessert too? Yes. The pineapple sorbet…which tasted like dole whip. I was so happy.

Jim, Marisa, Me, and Cathy at Red Rooster in Harlem

But I digress…

So…the official results of the 2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon was that I finished with an official time of 1:43:41. I was 3605/22,355 finishers this year. I was 823/11,458 female finishers. And I was 87/1640 finishers in my age division. It may not have been the race that I knew I was capable of, but it was the best I could do that day…and I made it to that finish line. I do love running races in NYC…and this is my third time running the NYC Half Marathon (all three times on a different course). I can’t wait to go back to run another race there sooner rather than later this time!

My coach, Kim Conley, and me post-NYC Half Marathon (yep…she raced too and kicked major ass)

CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (November 6, 2021)

Crossing the finish line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, IN

Date: November 6, 2021

Time: 3:33:46

Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.

Let’s skip to the good part:

  • BOSTON QUALIFIED!
  • This was my second fastest marathon in the 17 I have run (my PR was my first marathon back in 2013)
  • I negative split a marathon for the first time…EVER.
  • I threw the plan away halfway through the race…and this wasn’t a bad thing.

Whew. Deep breath. Now let’s talk about why all of the above is important, because coming into race day, I was starting to really have my doubts. Legit, I was having meltdowns over the possibility of everything going wrong on race day (hey…it can happen), and in turn letting myself and everyone else (honestly…no one would ever be disappointed in me) down in the process.

As many of you know, this race, initially, was supposed to be Marathon #3 in a span of 6 weeks. Berlin 2021 would kick it off…then Boston 2021…then Monumental. So, when I started back with my coach in February, we were working on getting me prepared to run decent marathons over such a short span of time. But, I opted to defer Berlin, not knowing where the world would be with COVID at that point, and I really wanted the FULL experience in Germany, up to and including Oktoberfest, which was canceled in 2021. Boston announced a reduced field size, but with it being the 125th running…registration was crazy (this included international, which eventually meant spots opened up because of travel restrictions, which were then given to those who qualified and registered for the Virtual Boston Marathon (I have a lot of opinions on that too…and if you know me, you’ve heard them, so I won’t voice it again). So, when I lost Boston because a buffer that would have been big enough on a normal year wasn’t good, I was heartbroken. When Boston offered spots to those who opted to do the virtual (I opted to train and do a marathon and qualify again for more than that reason), I was crushed. It was heartbreak all over again. And it took A LOT of wind out of my sails. Not going to lie.

But we move on.

I will say this…my training from February through November was crap. I pretty much hated every bit of it. Not all of it. But I felt like the things that concerned me or that I didn’t like weren’t being heard. For instance, I don’t like training by time. I would much rather be told how far to run, and not what amount of time to run for. I have never enjoyed training by time, and I still don’t. Pretty much every run had some aspect of speed in it. I love a run where I get to chill and not think about pushing paces. Whether it was fartleks, or strides, or hill sprints, or some ungodly amount of 800 m repeats…it was always something. And let’s talk about the summer heat. For years, I was fine in the heats. I did better in the heat. But the last three or so years, I wilt in the summer and summer runs legit take it all out of me. And speed work in the heat…that’s instant death. It was rare a summer speed session went the way it should have. And when you’re a perfectionist like me…well…that gets in your head.

Add to that, getting a text from your coach a few weeks out and being told that he isn’t confident, based on training, that my BQ goal was likely. Nothing sucks more than having the person who is supposed to be confident and instill confidence in you tell you that he’s not confident. It made me not confident. Thankfully, I have family and friends who told me otherwise on repeat because that totally messed me up. And guess what? When the cooler temperatures moved in, my paces got faster and felt easier. I ran a fast half marathon without even pushing my full potential just a few weeks prior to this race. That was a confidence booster there.

Shake out run feels!

On the Thursday before the race, my coach called while I was driving home from work to go over race day expectations. He was out on his long run and had three athletes running Monumental, so hew as knocking them out while on the run. He once again brought up my training, and how it really never clicked until 3 weeks out from race day. So, he said, expectations for a 3:35 were possible, but felt my 3:30 suggestion was out of my reach. He said, honestly, that a 3:37-3:40 was most likely where I would come in. He said lining up with the 3:30 group might be disheartening if I went out hot and then fell off. He said to line up with the 3:35 group…and expect that I might fall off them, but to just do my best to hold on. And…to have some names of people in mind to dedicate the later miles to, when the race would surely get hard and start to hurt. Considering I dedicated every mile in my first marathon to people, this is a tactic I have used before.

Welcome to Friday. I took the day off work so I wouldn’t have to try to make it up to Indianapolis after work when traffic might be crazy and I would be stressed out. This allowed me to do my shakeout run (45 minutes…PLUS STRIDES) in the daylight, which gave me way more options on where to run. I chose a hilly route and took it easy…then finished off those strides feeling strong and fast. Awesome. Took a shower. Finished packing. Called in my order to my local sushi place to get my sushi to go and haul it up to Indianapolis (in a cooler, just FYI) with me so I could keep the “magic sushi” pre-race/long run tradition alive. We picked it up…stored it in the cooler, and made the drive up to Indianapolis…with no delays or problems.

Because I am a self-proclaimed princess (or maybe it’s the 4 tiaras that I own…ha!), my roommate and I were staying at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. I know…fancy. And Marriott rewards points are always nice to have and use. This was convenient, as it wasn’t far from the start and finish line…nor was it far from the expo. The one thing that was of concern was my roommate had suddenly started snuffling on Wednesday. She claimed, like everyone does, that it was allergies, but finally admitted on Friday it was a head cold. Worst. Timing. Ever. We got up to the room, on the 18th floor, and then headed out to the expo. Despite being triple vaxxed (2 shots + booster) we masked up, and with Cathy dealing with a head cold…it was the smartest thing to do.

EXPO TIME!

The expo was small, but this one usually is. Cathy got her packet first…super easy. I went and got mine. And then I picked up a packet for a friend of a friend of mine. No hassles or problems. Very easy and streamlined. Then I went to Runner’s Services to pick up my Monumental Ambassador shirt (did I mention I was a race ambassador? This was fun…but it weird to still be doing it in a pandemic year as I feel like there would have been a lot more going on had we been able to gather) as well as a hoodie that was mailed to me, but never actually got to me. Seems about right. Thanks for that USPS. I met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Juan…and then took a spin through the official merchandise. It’s good luck for me to buy SOMETHING from the race. I thought about a coffee mug, but they weren’t selling any. Boo. So, I started looking for some tops…which, sadly, by 3 pm on Friday, all that was left were the L-3XL. I was really disappointed. On a side table, I did spot a bright yellow quarter zip that had a few women’s smalls in it. So…that’s what I ended up with. It wasn’t the piece of merchandise I was interested in…but it’s something that will get worn. I wandered around the expo, hoping to run into a few friends…but eventually had to head back to the room and get off my feet.

My name on the race poster

On the way back to the hotel, I did run into Tammy & Dean, who I’ve run with in the past and are local runners and friends of mine. We chatted for awhile, I we informed them of the lack of actual merchandise for smaller people. We parted ways so they could get down to the expo and I got upstairs. My friend Kelsie called just as I got back and was down at the expo. We decided we would meet up before the race because we both wanted photos together. Afterwards, I showered and settled in for the night. Yes…with Food Network and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (duh…always!). Cathy ended up opting for an easy room service order of a quesadilla, instead of trying to find something downtown that she could carry out back to the hotel. The box she picked up had three quesadillas in it. No lie. I think she ate half of it and put the other half in the fridge to have after her 5K (she never got around to it, though). I busted out my sushi I brought with me from Dragon King’s Daughter. I didn’t have any chopsticks with me…so I turned it into finger food. You do what you gotta do. Thankfully, sushi isn’t a messy meal.

Pre-Race Vegan Sushi has never let me down

Soon after, I was brushing my teeth and getting everything ready for the morning. I set three different alarms. One for me. Another for me. And one for Cathy. Lights out was close to 9 pm. And, of course, I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t really had good sleep since I moved apartments in March 2020 (and we all know what else happened in March 2020). I try though. And while I did fall sleep, it was for 20 minute spurts and then I’d wake up…roll over a couple times…and try again. My first two alarms never actually went off because I was already awake to turn them off.

All week, I had been fussing over the weather. We were getting a cold snap, so once again race morning was going to be cold. If you remember, in 2019…it was around 29 degrees when I crossed the finish line. This year, it was going to be 30 degrees at the start…no wind. So, after going back and forth on it…I opted to wear shorts (who am I?). Getting ready in the morning is easy. First I ate my over night oats. Then I put on my race outfit. Then sunscreen (always sunscreen!). My new friend, Sue, who I had picked up the packet for, was on her way to my hotel to get her stuff, so I headed downstairs to meet her. When I handed it off, she mentioned that it didn’t feel too bad out there. I asked her if the shorts were appropriate. She said yes. We wished each other luck and I went back up to my room. I now had to put my hair extensions in and put the signature pigtails in my hair. Thankfully, everything cooperated. I brought some throw-away clothes, which I slipped into and filled up my hydration pack with Nuun, and grabbed my Maurten gels and my Maurten 320 to drink about 30 minutes prior to the race. Cathy handed me a Mylar to wrap around myself while waiting for the start…and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.

My roommate surprised me by putting these tags on my racing shoes. One a Ted Lasso sentiment. The other, something my mom always says to me.

The plan was to meet up with EVERYONE at a specific statue at the Indiana Statehouse. I managed to find a few members of my She Runs This Town (SRTT) chapter, but not everyone was there yet for the photo. I went to go fuel…and immediately had a meltdown over the race, which Cathy had to deal with. She spotted my pacer and told me to go and talk to him. He was easy to spot. REALLY tall. Wearing a throw away tie dye shirt. I called him Tie Dye Guy (any other Only Murders In The Building watchers?). His actual name was Riley. The corrals got really crowded really fast. I met Jason, another pacer. And Gerald, from Chicago. We chatted as other people started to cluster around the pace group. I ducked away just briefly to ditch the throw away clothes and returned…ready to run.

I never did get to meet up with Kelsie or Taushah. And I missed the photo op with my SRTT ladies…but the race was getting ready to go. The national anthem was played. And then Wave A was sent off. I was in Wave B, so we were moved up and had to wait until we were sent off. That was about 5 minutes later.

Race outfit. ALL THE COLORS!

The first mile of this race was CROWDED. I mean…crowded. The pacers were having a hard time getting up to pace and the rest of us were trying to duck and dodge people in order to keep up with our pacers. Despite all of that…the first mile was WAY behind pace…clocking in at 8:30 (a 3:35 means an 8:11 mile average). They encouraged us by saying that we would slowly chip away at that in the next couple miles and get back on track. Mile 2 came around at 8:08 pace. As we entered Monumental Circe, there was a crowd there and a lot more room to move (finally). So Riley and Jason took us a bit faster but got us back on pace by the time we clipped over to Mile 3 with a 7:33 pace. WAY faster than we should be, but back on track.

Miles 4-7 were really easy. I stayed with the pacers or just behind them for most of it. And I found myself moving slightly ahead around Mile 6. I was talking with Gerald. Easy conversation. I could easily have a conversation. But we noticed the pace group was falling back behind us and both decided we should back off pace and keep them closer. Here, Riley busted out one of his cheers, which really made it fun. Just before Mile 8 is the split off where the half marathon runners go left and those running the full go straight. I fueled at this point with the rest of my Maurten 320 and again found myself up ahead of the pace group. I eased back again, even thought I felt good. I was Mile 8…too early, I told myself. I still stayed just ahead of them though…because I know sometimes pace groups can get crowded (I have been tripped more than once running with a pace group). I heard someone chatting behind me about living in Clarksville, Indiana. And I turned my head and said, “I’m in New Albany!” He mentioned probably seeing him on the Greenway if I run there. I’ll have to see if our paths cross next time I am down that way. I remained really steady with my pace from Miles 9-13, and was distracted between Miles 10-11 as I searched to see if my friends George and Susan were out as they live on the road those miles fall on. It was really cold…I didn’t spot them. I doubt they were out, but I always check…just in case.

A very chaotic and crowded start!

We ran through the halfway point, and Riley busted out his second cheer to get us motivated and keep it fun. I still felt really good. I moved ahead again. In my head, I was hearing my coach telling me to hang with the pacers through at least Mile 20. I thought about how much further I still had to go. But I also knew I felt GOOD! So, I said…”FUCK IT!” And I went.

This is where I meet my new friend Stephanie. She moved up with me and asked if I was going for a BQ. I told her I was and asked if she was as well. She said she was and she said I looked really solid with my pace. So for awhile we were right there with each other. The miles clicked off and I never felt tired. I fueled at 12 and again at 16. I made sure I was hydrating at every mile, and in between if I felt I needed it. Mile 18 clicked off and then we hit my favorite part…the downhill at Mile 19. Love it. Downhill is my favorite.

Mile 20 is where most people start hitting the wall, but I was starting to pick the pace back up. I started passing people who were slowing down or starting to walk. (No shame in the walk game, FYI…I managed a 3:49:46 at the Dopey Challenge in the marathon (which is after running a 5K, 10K, and Half in the 3 days prior to the marathon) taking walk breaks). I actually felt like I could run this pace all day. Stephanie and I ended up running those last few miles together. It was nice to have company stride for stride. She was kicking ass. In 2019, the last three miles had a terrible headwind. This year…none of that. The sun was out. It was over 40 degrees (which meant I was now hot, but didn’t want to slow down to mess with taking off arm warmers). At Mile 23, i said, “We’re going to do it!” to Stephanie. She said, “Fuck yeah, we are!” I knew I liked her. I took my last Maurten Gel at Mile 24. I know only 2 miles remain at that point, but why risk having a lull in energy? Stephanie moved just slightly ahead after Mile 25 and inside my head I was cheering her on because it was motivating me. My friend Dean was somewhere around that last mile and he gave me a motivational cheer as I ran past. I smiled and waved. I still felt good. That final turn into the finish line was amazing. So many spectators cheering. I was looking for Cathy in the crowd, but didn’t see her as I headed into the finish line. I crossed…throwing my hands up into the air and stopped my watch AFTER I moved past the photographers. She was on the other side of the finish…holding a sign.

Post-Race representing the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Stephanie turned around and we gave each other a hug and congratulated each other. We’re now friends on social media. I then went over to Cathy, and finally uncovered my watch, seeing 3:33 staring back at me. And I broke down in tears of joy. I not only hit my goal…I smashed it. She told me to go get my medal and goodies and she would meet me at the end of the chute. I spotted Riley after that and he said, “Did you get your BQ?” I said I had and he high fived me. So did Jason. I got wrapped in Mylar and received my medal. A volunteer opened my water bottle for me and I took a sip while I waited to take a photo with my medal. Gerald found me then and we talked. He also got a BQ. And the guy from Clarksville…he was behind me in the line and we chatted some more too.

Got my photo. Got my winter hat. Grabbed a bag of chips and a cookie. One runner dropped his cookie near the table and thought about bending over to get it. He started to do that, but then stopped. I said, “It lives there now…just grab another!” He did exactly that.

I met up with Cathy and we moved to the lawn so I could lay down and put my feet up. We were waiting on our friend Greg to arrive. Cathy went to grab my Indython charm and scarf and to try to get my medal engraved. The line was crazy long so I said it wasn’t that important. Greg did arrive as I was finishing up a phone call to my mom (I always talk to my mom when I finish a race). We headed back to the hotel so I could get warm. I laid on the floor with my feet up for a little longer before heading into the bathroom to shower and change.

Greek Tacos & Kettle Chips at Woody’s Library Resturant

While I wasn’t very hungry, I also know that post-race nutrition is important. So, we walked down to Harry & Izzy’s, but the patio seating wasn’t open and there was a wait for seating. Instead, we walked to where Greg was parked and headed into Carmel to try to get seating at Woody’s Library Restaurant. There was a small wait, and we decided to walk up to the gluten-free bakery, No Label at the Table, for some goodies. The restaurant called while we were in there so Greg and a I hurried back to get the table. I noticed then that I wasn’t as sore as I usually am after a marathon. Not mad at that.

My dinner was Greek Tacos with Kettle Chips (the tots and fries and stuff used to be GF here, but it’s been 2 years since I’ve eaten there and that is no longer the case). After that, Greg drove us back to the hotel and dropped us off. Cathy and I took a walk through the park before calling it a day and heading in for the night.

It was a good day. It was a very good day.

The official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon are that I finished in 3:33:46, which now makes this my second fastest marathon to date of the 17 I have now fun. This honor had since gone to the 2019 Monumental Marathon, but I beat that time by 2 minutes. Also, this was the first time I ever negative split a marathon. Cathy waid she was watching my splits and going, “She’s speeding up!” I was 1315/3948 finishers overall. I was the 333/1598 female finishers. And I was 54/287 in my age division. Considering how nothing felt like it was clicking or going well in all of my training leading up to the day…this result couldn’t have been more welcome. In the end…trust yourself…trust your abilities. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t ready or that you can’t do it. Prove them wrong. Chase your dreams!

I will always love the Indy Monumental Marathon! So proud to represent it this year as an ambassador!


2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon – Atlanta, GA (March 1, 2020)

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Me in front of the Olympic Rings in Centennial Olympic Park after the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon – Atlanta, GA

Race: 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon

Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 1, 2020

Time: 1:50:02

Back in 2014…I ran the Publix GEORGIA Marathon.  I had been coming back from an injury (no shock there)…but I finished it strong and felt good.  In 2019, it was re-branded as the Atlanta Marathon/Half Marathon/5K (which makes sense as it is held in Atlanta).  Also, it got a new course.  So, it was going to look different from the time I ran the full thing, right?

But…I think they somehow made it hillier.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Please note…it’s been almost 3 months since I ran this…because as we all know…life got pretty crazy shortly after this…so I might not have much to say in regards to the course or the race, other than it was cold AF, hilly AF, and my hip still hurt like a mother.

But we were doing this thing.

Woke up early.  Cathy had to get up with the alarm this time as she had signed up for the 5K.  Hey, if there is bling involved and she can guarantee that she’ll be at the finish line to see me finish…those 5K races that run with the longer runs are her sort of thing.  She was pretty certain we’d be finishing close together given that the 5K started about an hour after the marathon and half went off, so it would be close.  I also told her, though, not to fret anything since I definitely wasn’t 100%.

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When you cut your garbage bag wrong…

So, we got dressed, fueled, and she cut up some garbage bags for us to huddle in to attempt to keep warm on the walk over to the start line.  Except she cut her bag wrong so the holes were not in the right spot.  Meaning, she cut a hole in her stomach area…so she looked more like a Care Bear and had a definite draft.  We couldn’t do anything about it, and as I am definitely more cold natured than her…I got the properly cut trash bag and she got the one that she hadn’t unfolded properly before taking scissors to it.  Please note…she learned a valuable lesson.

We headed out of the hotel room and took the elevator down to the lobby.  And we struck out toward Centennial Park, where the race would start and finish.  Temperatures were in the low 30s.  It was windy (although NOTHING near what it was the day before when the Olympic Marathon Trials ran).  And I was noshing on a banana as we made our way to the start area.  Because of how cold it was, we sort of just gave ourselves enough time to get down there with only a little bit of time to spare, but enough that we weren’t stressed out and making a mad dash through the streets to get to the start corrals.

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Pacer Meb Keflezighi

Had my leg/hip felt 100%…I had given some thought to hanging with the 1:40 pace group, which was being paced by Meb Keflezighi.  That would have been a dream.  But since I had to go to physical therapy and back off my training runs…it wasn’t completely out of the question, but it was a definite pipe dream.  I lined up further back, keeping my trash bag on for as long as I could prior to the start.

Here was the really cool thing about the USA Olympic Marathon Trials happening the day before – MOST of the Olympic Team came down to watch the start of the race – despite it being early and cold.  The only one who didn’t put in an appearance was Galen Rupp (not surprised – I acknowledge his skill as a marathoner, but I just don’t like him).  The rest of them came down.  AND…Alaphine Tuliamuk (the women’s first place finisher), stayed down there for the ENTIRETY of the start line from the marathon/half start to the last 5K runner to cross.  And she was not only speaking to the runners, but taking selfies and the like with them.  Because she’s amazing.

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Alaphine Tuliamuk taking selfies at the start line

After the National Anthem was sung, I did shed the garbage bag, wearing my BibRave t-shirt (with arm warmers because…it was cold, duh) for the first time at an event.  This one wasn’t a BibRave event…but I’m doing my part to represent.  I gave my hip a little bit of a warmup with some dynamic moves in the tight confines of the corral…and then…we were off.

I waived to Cathy as I ran by, my hip doing okay for this part.  Even being sent up a hill almost immediately.  That was good, because that wouldn’t last long.  And while the hip would eventually succumb to all the uphills and the cold…any movement I could manage without it bothering me…I was grateful for.

Also, on an interesting note…the FAQs for this race said that hydration packs were not allowed.  I saw a lot of people running with them, but I opted to obey the rules and ran with my hydration belt instead.  I hadn’t done that in a LONG time during a race, but as I had to use it for a bit of training while waiting on new bladders for my vest to come in the mail, I wasn’t completely out of practice yet.

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You know I had to be in all the colors…this was at the start line!

This race weaves through Atlanta completely now…whereas before, when it was the Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon, it went out to Decatur and would come back into Atlanta.  Not anymore.  Now it’s completely inside the city.  With this new course, I think I was glad it wasn’t this way when I ran it in 2014…because I think the hills are worse.  With the leg/hip issue happening, I legit had no power on any of the uphills.  You better believe I lived for those downhills though.

At one point, as the sun was coming out, I went to tuck my pink knit gloves into the back of my hydration belt…but I lost them.  It made me sad, as those were the best gloves (and pink still represents my mom – a breast cancer survivor).  But, they are throw-away gloves for a reason, I guess.  At another point, I spotted someone I know from Instagram, running just up ahead.  I wished I had the go-power to get up to her and run with her or at least say “HI.”  But…meh…not happening.  She finished up three minutes ahead of me…because she’s awesome.  So…HI KRISTIN STOKES!

I will say, I think the hill around Mile 12 was the one that did me in.  I felt like I was crawling up it.  My hip was done with the entire experience, so I basically crawled it in to the finish.  No finish line sprint.  Nothing.  Just a jog.

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Cathy and I at the Olympic Rings at Centennial Park in Atlanta, GA

But, Cathy had managed to finish her 5K just ahead of Meb…which meant she had about 10 minutes before I came in.  She found a spot to watch the finish line…and when I crossed I was so happy to be done.  Maybe not Kauai Marathon happy…but it might have been close.

I walked through and got my medal and some snacks before meeting up with Cathy.  We went to go take some pictures with the Olympic rings before heading back to the hotel to clean up, shower, pack, and head down to snag lunch at Walburgers before hopping on the MARTA to head to the airport for our flight home.  Walburgers had a bit of delay on opening due to a problem with with the water or electricity or something.  We hung out with some ladies and made friends with them.  When they did open, we were taken upstairs and seated, and then just after we placed our order, our friends Tammy and Dean showed up and joined us.  YAY!  It was nice to sit and catch up with them (Tammy had also done the 5K and Dean did the half ).  Also, Walburgers is great with the gluten-free options.  I had my first ever Impossible Burger on the gluten free bun…with gluten free Sweet Potato Tots.  It was…awesome.

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Lunch at Walburgers!

Eventually we did have to head out to the airport.  We hugged Tammy and Dean (this was when that was still allowed, which now seems weird) and made our way to the MARTA to head home.

So, my official results of the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon are that I finished in I finished in 1:50:02. Not bad on a gimpy leg, right?  I know for a fact that I would have been able to deliver better had my training and my hip been 100%.  But you do what you can when you can , right?  I was 1346/5809 finishers overall. I was the 531/3189 female finishers. And I was 99/486 in my age division.  Considering an unusual night before the race happened…with a late dinner…and lots of time standing the day before, topped with hip/leg issues…I’ll take the hell out of this result.  Couldn’t be prouder of myself for sticking it out and getting to that finish line.

Just goes to show you…if you set your mind to something…you can do hard things.

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Spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials (February 29, 2020) – Atlanta, GA

IMG_1545Sorry that this is over two months overdue in posting. My lack of motivation to sit at my computer at home…after working at home for 8 hours…is more than lacking these days. But I’m very behind on these blogs…so I need to start cracking on them.  Since then, the Olympics in Tokyo are postponed until 2021.  What crazy times we are living in.  I hope everyone is staying safe.

Back in April 2019, when USATF announced that the Olympic Marathon Trials were going to be held in Atlanta, Ga., I knew…RIGHT THEN…that I wanted to go and spectate.  I wanted to be on the course where it all happened.  Six people – 3 men and 3 women – would cross a finish line and achieve the dream of becoming an Olympian.

I had to go.

So, my roommate and I went ahead and booked a hotel room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta.  Then we bought some non-stop flights to and from Atlanta from Louisville.  And then, because, why the hell not?…we each signed up for a race on the day following the Olympic Marathon Trials (Cathy did the Atlanta 5K and I did the Atlanta Half Marathon), since we’d be there.IMG_1547

And somewhere between when all that happened…my left hip started giving me problems again. I took most of February off from running or any real distance, and definitely not workouts.  I went back to my orthopedic doctor for X-rays…where I was told there was nothing structural happening.  I went back to physical therapy, where my physical therapist worked to help get me back on the road, even though it seemed where the pain was changed each day.  And she even could work with my coach as he is also a physical therapist (same company, different location)…and together they eased me back out onto the road, with only a few days with setbacks.

To say I felt 100% when I started packing for my quick trip to Atlanta at the end of March is a huge understatement.  I was questioning whether to drop to the 5K or just not do it at all. Since I was able to run, perhaps not fast or strong, I decided that I could fake my way through a race.  It would be rough and hard and probably would suck a lot more than usual, but I could do it.  So, after our friend Melissa dropped us off at the airport on a Friday morning, we boarded our flight to Atlanta and touched down without any delays or problems.  WINNING!

IMG_1551After a quick MARTA ride to get to our hotel, we checked in, dropped off stuff in our room, and took a moment to admire the fact that we could see Centennial Park from our window. How awesome!!

Then, we gathered our stuff and took a nice stroll past the park and the Olympic Marathon Trials finish line, to hit up the expo to pick up our own race stuff and see what kind of merchandise was around.

The answer…not much.  At least not at this point.  I managed to snag a Marathon Trials t-shirt for myself and my friend Natalie.  And I got a couple of pins to commemorate the event. But there was little else left.  Guess it got decimated on Thursday or earlier in the day on Friday.IMG_1564

Oh well.  The expo was much smaller than I anticipated.  For real.  And we breezed through it faster than the time we budgeted for it.  So, after we were done there, we hiked back to the hotel to drop off stuff, take a breather, and then figure out what we wanted to do next.  We ended up hiking around the Dragon*Con hotels just to kill time.  We snagged some water (we hit up CVS so many times for water on this trip) and a snack.  And then we had to figure out what we wanted to do for dinner.  The easiest option was the food court…but I needed to figure out where and what would be safe for me.  And one of our top options would have meant eating dinner around 3:30 or 4 pm, which was WAY too early for me.

IMG_1569Lots of google and Find Me Gluten Free searching guided me toward a place called BÊP Vietnamese Cuisine.  Cathy opted to go find something with meat and gluten in it for herself (since when we are eating out and on vacation, she can do this!), and ended up at Beni’s Cubano and opted for the Milagro Sandwich with Maduros (Sweet Plantains).  So, while she was hitting them up, I went up to get Curry Tofu Rice Bowl from BÊP…except they were all out of tofu as they had to cater a large party earlier.  BOO!  So, I ended up doing the Vegetarian Phở with the Gluten Free Vegetarian Spring Rolls.  It wasn’t my first choice…but, hey…it wasn’t a bad option to end up with. And, honestly, I just wanted the spring rolls, so that made me happy enough (but 2 spring rolls don’t make a meal).

We ate in the food court before heading back to the room for the rest of the night, enjoying some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network while we wound down and prepared for the following morning, which would involve having to find a good spot in which to view the trials.  And, man, did we have some options to think about.IMG_1582

We woke up the following morning with a mission.  Kara Goucher was leading a 3 mile shakeout run around Centennial Park.  I wasn’t running.  This was a rest day, and regardless, I was really hoping to give my hip an extra day off before the half marathon on Sunday morning.  Cathy safely tucked my 2015 Boston Marathon bib into her bag and we headed down toward the park.  We ended up making an entire lap before converging on the crowd by the Olympic rings.  And there, in the middle of it all, was Kara Goucher.  Kara Goucher was one of the first female runners that I took notice of.  Her book was one of the first ones I ever read (and applied a lot of it to shorter distances as I was not running marathons yet).  It was chaotic in that throng of people, but I somehow managed to get up to her, tell her something about Minnesota girls (I was born in Minnesota, remember?) and got my bib signed! YAY!  It wasn’t the way I envisioned talking to her or meeting her…but it happened, guys!!  We also made one last stop in at the expo…and glad we did because we both ended up getting some hoodies that had Atlanta to Tokyo on it (at that point, obviously, the Olympics were still happening in summer 2020).  The smallest size I could find was a large, but I figured I could just wear it around the apartment.

IMG_1592After that, we headed back to the hotel to grab a big breakfast (as this would be what would hold us through to after the marathon trials AND…a live Ali on the Run Podcast that I got free tickets to attend).  It was going to be a long day…but thankfully, we had snacks.

The breakfast at the hotel was mostly buffet.  And for someone like me with food allergies…that just doesn’t work well.  BUT, our waiter was kind enough to put in an order for me with the kitchen so everything would be safe for me to eat.  I got an egg white vegetable omelette with a bowl of fruit.  Cathy was able to go pick and choose what she wanted and was excited that there was a mini chicken and waffles option out there (it might have been on the kids table, but she loved it).  We ate.  We drank a lot of coffee.  We went back up to the room to prepare ourselves for all the intense wind, cold weather, and the fun of spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials.IMG_1602

I. COULD. NOT. WAIT.

Originally, we had planned on going right to a spot where we could see the athlete 6 times on the looped course.  But after we got down there, we decided that we really, really wanted to see the start of both the men’s and the women’s race.  Then we could go up to about Mile 8 and see the men twice and the women once, and then hopefully get back to the finish line area to see who would make the team from a decent enough s
It felt like the right plan for us.  So…we scouted out a spot for the start of the race.  It was VERY windy!  In case you hadn’t heard.  I felt bad for the athletes because when you’re in a metro downtown like that, there is no wind breaks.  There are only wind tunnels.  And that wind will hit you in all directions!  We were right near where the athletes would be walking out.  Shalane Flanagan passed us.  She, obviously, wasn’t competing, but there was no mistaking her in that Bowerman Track Club gear.

IMG_1654And…I got to hug and wish good luck to Ashley Paulson, who I know from Instagram.  She ended up coming in 44th in the women’s race.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!  Anyway, that was super fun.  Cathy gave the woman standing next to me her ear warmer because she had tried three times to find somewhere she could buy a hat and couldn’t find one anywhere.  One good deed…

The winds were whipping around 20+mph.  And it was COLD!!  Man, was it cold.  But the sun was out…and the athletes were lining up at the start line.  The men would go off first.  Then the women.  And who was sending each group off?  Meb Keflezighi!IMG_1636

He counted down the men’s race…and they were off.  As the group ran past, we cheered really loud and started pointing out the people we recognized.  It was exciting.  What a rush.  And 20 minutes later…with one almost false start…Meb sent the women off.  Now that…THAT was insane.   It was just flood of women, running down the road.  I spotted a few people I recognized.  I screamed really loud.  And we even saw the ones at the back who were starting, but dropping out due to injury, pregnancy, or whatever.  It was inspiring, regardless.

From there, we hopped over to a spot on the rail near the 8 mile mark.  This was at one of the turns on the course, so we would definitely get the chance to see everyone as they went past.  We would be here for a while, able to see the men twice and the women once, if we wanted to try to get to the finish line area.

IMG_1682We took this opportunity to snag a snack.  I brought oranges.  LOL!  Hey, I’m like Dustin in Stranger Things…so I always bring snacks with me everywhere.  I had no idea how long it would be before we’d get to eat.  We polished off our oranges (I brought Sumo’s…only the best for this occasion) and were settled in, wincing against the wind, and making friends with the people around us…as you do.

The guy who was on my left was spectating his daughter, who qualified at CIM with a squeaker time, just hitting it with maybe a second to spare.  The pride and excitement in his voice was just…awesome.  And then…we saw the pace car come down the hill and toward the turn.  Behind it…the wave of men.  And, there were two people out front that I didn’t recognize.  But then in the chase pack (just steps behind them) were all the big names and the like.  And I tried to shout out to as many as I could.IMG_1736

There were smaller waves behind them…and then it quieted down as we all awaited the arrival of the women.  And that was a wave that was just as amazing as the start.  And the crowd.  Wow…it was loud.  And you could just feel this electricity as the women continued to make the turn and head back up the hill into Mile 8.  It was insane and I loved being a part of the noise and seeing these woman lay it all out there on the challenging course.  Seriously…inspiring.  Not that I’ll ever get the chance to run the Olympic Trials…but man…I felt like I was part of something big…just by being there.

IMG_1796We waited around for the men to make their second loop and, by the time they came back around, there were more familiar faces at the front of the pack.  Mainly…Galen Rupp.  No shocker there.  And, apparently, that’s where he would stay.  But…it would be those remaining two spots that would be the surprises for us spectators.

Not wanting to miss any of the final finishes…because, honestly, I wanted to be at that finish line when the runners who would be representing the country crossed, we left to head back to the finish line area.  The general public could only get so close, but luckily we found a spot of the rail, next to a man who was cheering for his daughter (this was a theme, LOL), named Val Curtis.  So, he was tracking her and I was trying to catch bits of conversation about where some of the favorites out on the course were.IMG_2025

And you could tell when the finish was getting close because people who were able to get into the grassy parts of the park near the finish started climbing into the trees.  No joke.  Cathy even said, “Looks like the spectators are in full bloom.”  It made me laugh.  A lot.  Security, however, did make them all eventually get down, but that was just a testament to how big of a deal this was to the people in Atlanta to spectate.

IMG_2038I will never forget that feeling when I saw the lead vehicle come down over the hill and veer off as Galen Rupp came surging past.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Galen Rupp fan.  I don’t like him.  But he was going to go represent the United States at the Olympics, turning in an amazing time on what was a VERY challenging course.  The second and third place for the men came in over a minute behind Galen.  It felt like a HUGE gap of time, honestly.  But that battle for second and third was SPECTACULAR!!  No lie.  It came down to just one second that put Jacob Riley in second and Abdi Abdirahman in third.  Our alternate for the men…Leonard Korir…just seconds behind Abdi.  What a finish!!IMG_2105

We saw more men come streaming in.  A few were bloodied, which left us really confused until I started listening to podcasts after the fact and finding out that people fell down on the course, were almost trampled, and the like.  How scary is that.  To rally and get back up and finish…that’s gutsy.  I respect the hell out of it.  I saw Jared Ward finish, but he was way out of contention for a spot.  He was definitely a favorite going in.

IMG_2109Eventually, the volunteers began to route the men down a different path to finish, which could only mean one thing…the women were coming!  I had no idea who was leading at this point.  I was up on my tiptoes, leaning on the rail, just waiting to see the first woman blaze by.  It felt like forever, but then…graceful, swift, and steady…the first woman flew past.  It was Aliphine Tuliamuk…which wasn’t out of the conversation to make the team, but she was leading the way.  I was here for it!  Just behind her was Molly Seidel, who qualified using a half marathon time and this was her first marathon.  This also meant that she started behind the A standard qualifiers.  And there she was…carrying that flag all the way to the finish line.  And just over a minute behind her…our third woman came in…Sally Kipyego, who I had just heard an interview with on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, “I’ll Have Another.”  Both Aliphine and Sally had recently become citizens of the United States and here they were now…heading to the Olympics to represent the country.  Amazing.IMG_2118

Des Linden came in fourth, now officially becoming the alternate and missing out on the Olympic Team by 30 seconds.  Stephanie Bruce wasn’t too far behind, coming in 6th.

We stayed at the finish line, because now we felt like we needed to see Val Curtis come in.  We were basically adopted members of the Curtis cheer team.  In the process, I saw Jordan Hasay come by, finishing 26th, and considering she came in with the fastest time…that was a shock. Ashley Paulson finish 44th overall for the women!  That was super exciting.  She’s just so genuine and amazing.

IMG_2119I noted some names that weren’t coming in…Sarah Hall, Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson.

It was weird.

We were getting updates from Val’s father as to where she was on the course, so we knew exactly when to start cheering.  I held a sign for her while he waved a flag and shouted as she blazed past to her finish line.  Cathy snapped photos.  It was pretty exciting to be part of that.  I felt like I knew Val…even though I had just heard of her that day.

After a long day of spectating, we were heading to the Generation UCAN live podcast with Ali Feller and Carrie Tollefson and Meb Keflezighi.  We figured we would grab dinner afterwards…which in hindsight wasn’t our best plan…but we had a podcast to get to.  I am so glad we did.  A surprise to me was when Dathan Ritzenhein went up and talked for a brief moment.  If you know me, you know how he is one of my favorite male runners.  Hip issues caused him to drop out of the trials, but he listened to his body and did what he needed to do.IMG_2158

After he spoke, he left and I grabbed my 2015 Boston Marathon bib and went to see if I could catch him for an autograph.  He very graciously signed it for me…and I was able to tell him a little bit about my devastating race that morning…due to hip issues.  He listened and said that he hopes my next time running Boston (2021 with any luck), would be a much better experience.

IMG_2180The live podcast was a lot of fun, and very emotional.  We laughed.  We cried.  We had a good time.  I wanted to meet Ali after the show, but there was a rush of people, and we had to go find some food, as both Cathy and I were racing the following morning.  The problem is…so many things in big cities close early…and we really didn’t have many options.  We ended up ordering in room service at the hotel, and they took very good care of me with my food allergies.  So, we were definitely eating dinner at 8 pm, watching Guy’s Grocery Games, and trying not to fret too much over the hour and the fact that we had to be up early to get ready to get to our own start lines.  I ended up with a delicious quinoa dish.

As for me…my leg wasn’t feeling 100% despite weeks of physical therapy…but I was going to see what I could do on these Atlanta hills.  But that’s another blog.

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Product Review: Nabee Compression Socks

“Disclaimer: I received a pair of Nabee Compression Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”

If you know me…you know that I don’t leave for a run, whether it’s one mile or 26.2 miles, without wearing compression sleeves or socks.  I’ve been doing it since 2012 and it’s been a part of my running uniform ever since.

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I didn’t think there was a brand out there I haven’t tried.  And then…Nabee Compression Socks were sent my way.  Fun fact for these days of quarantine, social distancing, and honoring our health care workers…Nabee Compression Socks were invented by a nurse.  Don’t immediately think that these socks are only for nurses, however.  These socks are also perfect for athletes, frequent fliers, as well as servers, teachers, speakers, performers, or anyone else who spends a good amount of time on their feet.  They offer two different levels of compression too, starting with 15-20 mmhg up to 20-30 mmhg.

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I had a lot of different fun colors and designs to choose from, but I really wanted to represent my Irish routes.  I got the Shamrock socks (20-30 mmhg compression).  I LOVE them…and I wear them even though St. Patrick’s Day is long past.  Shamrocks are good year round, and let’s face it…we could all use a little bit of luck these days.

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My first impression after taking them out of the packaging was just how SOFT these socks are.  Usually, compression sleeves and socks tend to have this feel of stiffness to them.  But these made me really excited about getting them on my feet and legs.  These socks also have a seamless toe and added arch support for running!  They feel good.  But I definitely wanted to put them to the test.

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So I took them out for long runs.  I took them out for short runs.  I wore them for recovery runs.  I wore them for speed work.  And I never stopped loving the way these socks felt and how I felt wearing them.  And yes…I even wore them for recovery!  I had many nurses comment about them when I would post on my social media, so I hope they took advantage of the one time discount that they gave to BibRave.

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I know I did!!  Yep…I loved these socks so much I went ahead and ordered another pair!!  I went with the Celebration Socks this time, which had fun stripes of white, electric blue and hot pink.  They were SO me!  I didn’t have to order another pair, but I am SOLD on these.  They are not just fun and fashionable, but they are effective and…above all else…comfortable!

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If you have tried compression before or been on the fence about trying compression, I would definitely send you to Nabee Socks.  Honestly, the company is great…and the product they put out there is now one of my favorite parts of my running gear!

Want to give Nabee Compression Socks a try?  Use “BIBRAVE20” and get 20% off your order.  This code is good for ONE TIME ONLY!!  Also, Nabee Compression Socks is currently donating 2 pairs of their socks to frontline healthcare workers for every pair they sell.  There’s a little bit of extra motivation!

See what other BibRave Pro’s are saying about Nabee Compression Socks:

Angie / Ashley /

BibRave Discounts!!

Hey everyone!!  Here is a list of this year’s discounts on races and swag, brought to you by BibRave!  I am a new BibRave Pro this year…and am LOVING it.  BibRave is a running community that connects runners with the best races and allows you the opportunity to research races you are considering signing up for, as well as leave feedback for the races you have completed.  If you haven’t checked it out yet…head over there.

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The list below is all of the current active BibRave partner race discount codes. Use the codes below to receive discounts on registration for our partner races. Visit https://www.bibrave.com/ for more information and contact info@bibrave.com with any questions!

January 2020

1/1/2020 – 465 Virtual Challenge

Use code “BIBRAVE” for 10% off

1/11/2020 – Times-Union Half Marathon & 5K- Jacksonville, FL

Use code “RUN15” for 15% off

1/11/2020 – Irvine Half Marathon & 5K- Irvine, CA

Use code “BRIRVINE” for 10% off

1/12/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate San Francisco – San Francisco, CA

Use code “BRHCSANFRAN19” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

1/18-1/19/2020 – Marathon Bahamas (Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend) – Bahamas

Use code “MBSPECIAL” for 10% off!

1/19/20 – Key West Half Marathon & 5K – Key West, FL

Use code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% off half marathon.

February 2020

2/1/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Houston – Houston, TX

Use code “BRHCHOUSTON20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/2/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Atlanta – Atlanta, GA

Use code “BRHCATL20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/2/2020 – San Jose 408K Race to the Row – San Jose, CA

Use cod “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

2/2/2020 – Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon – San Francisco, CA

Use code “KPSFBIBRAVE” for $5 off the 5k, 10k and half marathon

2/8/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Dallas – Dallas, TX

Use code “BRHCDALLAS20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/8/2020 – Hilton Head Marathon, Half, 8K – Hilton Head, SC

Use code “HH15” for 15% off

2/9/2020 – Life Time Miami Marathon & Half Marathon – Miami, FL

Use code “BIBRAVEMIAMI” for $5 off!

2/15/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Nashville – Nashville, TN

Use code “BRHCNASH20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

2/16/2020 – Honda Miles Per Hour Run – Chicago, IL

Use code “RAVEMPH” for $5 off individual or team entry

2/22/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte – Charlotte, NC

Use code “BRHCCHARLOTTE20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

March 2020

3/1/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Seattle – Seattle, WA

Use code “BRHCSEATTLE20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

3/1/2020 – 305 Half Marathon & 5K – Miami Beach, FL

Use code “BIBRAVE305” for $5 off half only

3/1/2020 – Napa Valley Marathon & Half Marathon – Napa, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE10” for $10 off the full or half marathon distances

3/14/2020 – San Jose Shamrock Run – San Jose, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

3/22/2020 – Oakland Running Festival – Oakland, CA

Use code “OAKLANDRAVE20” for 10% off

3/22/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate San Diego – San Diego, CA

Use code “BRHCSANDIEGO20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

3/22/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Tempe, AZ

Use code “BRWWTEMPE” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

April 2020

4/4/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Louisville – Louisville, KY

Use code “BRHCLOUIS20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/4/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA

Use code “BRHCPHILLY20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/4/2020 – Publix Savannah Women’s Half & 5K – Savannah, GA

Use code “BIBRAVE” for 15% off

4/4/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Houston, TX

Use code “BRWWHOUSTON” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

4/4/2020 – Carmel Marathon – Carmel, IN

Use code “BIBRAVE5” for $5 off

4/4/2020 – Salisbury Marathon – Salisbury, MD

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

4/5/2020 – Statesman Cap 10K – Austin, TX

Use code “BIBRAVE2020CAP10K” for $5 off registration

4/5/2020 – Hapalua Half – Waikiki Beach, HI

Use code “BIBHAPA10” for 10% off registration

4/5/2020 – Silicon Valley Half Marathon – San Jose, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

4/11/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “BRHCMINN20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/11/2020 – Milwaukee Marathon – Milwaukee, WI

Use code “RUN15” for 15% off

4/11/2020 – IPA 10K – Sebastopol, CA

Use code “BRBEERRUN20” for 10% off

4/11/2020 – Milwaukee Marathon – Milwaukee, WI

Use code “RUN15” is good for 15% off

4/18/2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate Detroit – Detroit, MI

Use code “BRHCDETROIT20” for Free Hot Chocolate running hat

4/18/2020 – Blue Ridge Marathon – Roanoke, VA

Use code “BRMRAVE” to save 20% off distance of your choice!

4/23-25/2020 – Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon – Champaign, IL

Use code “2020BIBRAVEILLINOIS” for $10 off any event other than youth run

4/25/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Dallas, TX

Use code “BRWWDALLAS” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

4/26/2020 – Delaware Marathon – Wilmington, DE

Use code “DELAWARERAVE20” for 10% off

4/26/2020 – New Jersey Marathon – Oceanport, NJ

Use code “20NJMBibRave” for $5 off registration

4/26/2020 – Ravenswood 5K – Chicago, IL 

Use code “RAVENSBR20” for a FREE trucker hat

May 2020

5/2/2020 – Cinco de Miler – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRCINCO20” for a FREE trucker hat

5/3/2020 – The Providence Marathon Presented by The Providence Journal  – Providence, RI

Use code “RUN15” for 15% off

5/3/2020 – Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon – Pittsburgh, PA

Use code “BIBRAVE10PGH” for $10 off the full, half, or relay

5/3/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Nashville, TN

Use code “BRWWNASH” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

5/16/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Atlanta, GA

Use code “BRWWATL” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

5/16/2020 – Harper’s Ferry Half Marathon – Harper’s Ferry, WV

Use code  “BIBRAVE5” good for $5 off

5/23/2020 – Soldier Field 10 Miler – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRSOLDIER20” for a FREE trucker hat

5/24/2020 – Vermont City Marathon – Burlington, VT

Use code “BIBRAVE2010” for $10 off

June 2020

6/7/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – San Francisco, CA

Use code “BRWWSF” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

6/7/2020 – North Shore Half Classic – Highland Park, IL

Use code “BRNSHALF20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

6/7/2020 – Run for the Zoo – Chicago, IL

Use code BIBRAVE for 10% off

6/13/2020 – The Governor’s Cup – Helena, MT

Use code “GCBIB20” good for 10% off

6/13-14/2020 – Big Foot Triathlon, Trail 10K & 5K – Lake Geneva, WI

Use code  “BRBF20” for a FREE trucker hat

6/21/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRWWCHI” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

6/26-28/2020 – Missoula Marathon – Missoula, MT

Use code “BibRave2020” for $5 off half/full entry

6/27/2020 – DC Wonder Woman Race Series 5k/10K – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “BRWWMIN” for FREE Wonder Woman hat

July 2020

7/12/2020 – Across the Bay 12K and 415K – San Francisco, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

August 2020

8/22/2020 – Madison Mini-Marathon Half Marathon & 5K – Madison, WI

Use code “BIBRAVE10” for 10% off half & 5K

8/29-30/2020 – Santa Rosa Marathon – Santa Rosa, CA

Use code “SAVE10” for 10% off

September 2020

9/12/2020 – Run Mag Mile 10K & 5K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRRMM20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

October 2020

10/3/2020 – Freedom’s Run – Shepherdstown, WV

Use code  “BIBRAVE5” good for $5 off

10/4/2020 – Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon & 5K – Hampton Beach, NH

Use code “SAVE10” for 10% off registration

10/4/2020 – Bucktown 5K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRBT20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

10/16-18/2020 – Detroit Free Press/TCF Marathon – Detroit, MI

Use code “BIBRAVEDET20” for 10% off

10/17/2020 – Urban Bourbon Half Marathon presented by Jim Beam – Louisville, KY

Use code “BOURBONRAVE2020” for 10% off

10/18/2020 – The East Bay 510K – Oakland, CA

Use code “BIBRAVE2020” for 10% off

10/24/2020 – Pumpkins in the Park 5K – Chicago, IL

Use code “BRPP20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

November 2020

11/8/2020 – Honor Run Half Marathon – Florence, KY

Use code “HRBIBRAVE15” good for $15 off any event

11/26/2020 – North Shore Turkey Trot – Highland Park, IL

Use code  “BRNSTT20” for a FREE Chicago trucker hat

SURPRISE!!

surpriseJust over two weeks ago, with the help of her family, I was able to surprise my best friend since third grade for her 40th birthday!

Because, let’s face it…40 is one of the big ones and should be celebrated!

Heather…should be celebrated!

First of all, if you have been reading my blog, you probably have some idea of who Heather is.  She is one of my loudest friends.  AND…one of my biggest cheerleaders.  While she can’t make it to every race, she has been at most of the big ones and the important ones.  And when she’s not…she’s tracking me and screaming at me from Minnesota.  Because that’s Heather.  A ride or die to the end.

So, when the opportunity arose to give her a great 40th birthday…I couldn’t pass it up!

THE PLAN

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Running before 1:30 am is CRAZINESS!

It all started with a plan, hatched by her brother and her parents.  The plan was to fly up to Minnesota the Friday of her birthday weekend (her birthday fell on a Saturday)…arriving early so that Chad, her brother, could pick me up at the airport prior to coming by the house.  He had told her to take the day off of work because they were going to do something together that day.  The night before, Chad and I made the last minute plans for airport pickup (basically I told him when my flight would be there and he sent a picture of his truck…complete with snow in the background!!).

Went to bed early.  Got up super early to fit in the last training run for that week.  I was taking the rest of the weekend off because it should be all about Heather…and running in January in Minnesota sounds awful. HA!  BUT…I didn’t post my usual Instagram stories that morning. I acted like it was my usual rest day and I was sleeping in and just gearing up for a regular work day.  I even put on clothes that looked like work clothes.  The things we do to surprise our friends.

D0FBA203-C838-41CF-B0E7-FB3DA572A76AMy roommate got up 2 hours earlier than usual to drive me to the airport.  I got there right as security was opening and I could stroll right up because I just had a carry-on with me this time.  I killed a lot of time walking the hall (there is only one) connecting the terminals in Louisville…but when my plane was set to board…I was happy to be one of the first groups to get on the plane.  I even had an exit row seat so a bit more leg room to boot.  And at 6:32 am…the plane pushed back and we took off to Minneapolis!

The flight went fast.  We were given drinks (I had water…but coffee was tempting) and Delta has KIND bars (WOOT…GLUTEN FREE!) to snack on.  Which was good, because I had eaten breakfast after my run and shower…so around 3:30 am.  It turns out, my pilots speed (just kidding…I think we had a tailwind), because we landed in Minneapolis WAY ahead of schedule.  Like at least 30 minute early.  I got off the plane and called Chad…who was getting his car washed, putting gas in his car, and having to navigate traffic.  BUT…I walked the terminal and went down to baggage claim and put on a jacket…and waited for his truck to pull up to pick me up.

He showed up, came around to give me a hug and put my suitcase in the back…and we were off!

THE SURPRISE

Chad came up with the way it would all play out.  He would park his truck and while he went inside through the garage (the normal way)…I would wait outside for two minutes…and then ring the doorbell.  In his conversation he would then say, “Heather, you better get the door…that’s your birthday present.”

And…that’s what we did.

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Lunch from Twin City Grill at the Mall of America

Never in my life have I been hauled into a house and hugged so hard.

She was so surprised.  And that was the whole point.  We hauled my luggage inside and she offered me very necessary coffee.  Caribou Coffee at that.  If you know me…you know I love Caribou Coffee…but all the places nearby that had it turned into Peet’s Coffee.  And it’s not the same.  Minnesota still has Caribou Coffee.

We sat around the house for a bit…drank coffee…and then she went and got herself ready.  And we were off.  To The Mall of America.

YAY!

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Me and Grandpa!

We did a lot of walking there.  OH…and hit up Caribou Coffee for some non-caffeinated goodness.  We shopped.  We discovered there was a pop-up Third Love store (yes…the bras that are advertised on all the podcasts) so we went and tried those on.  She changed out jeans at Macy’s.  We just had a good time.  OH…and we grabbed lunch at Twin City Grill at the Mall of America.  I had a salad.  They were prepared to make me a burger with a gluten-free bun…but they didn’t have a vegetarian/vegan option.  No Impossible Burger…no Beyond Burger…but I love salads and got their Garden Salad.  I asked for no cheese.  They left the cheese on.  I took a Lactaid…it was fine.  Heather got the Baja Burger with the famous (I wish they had been gluten free) Salt ‘N Vinegar Fries.

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Aunt Jan, Me, and Grandpa

While we were at the mall, I had called my 98 year old grandpa and left him a message to let him know I was in town and would LOVE to stop by.  He was in water aerobics at the time (you read that right…my grandpa is the BEST!), but he called me back and said he’d be home the rest of the afternoon.  Heather totally remembered where he lived, which is typical Heather, and got us there without using a GPS.  BONUS…my Aunt Jan was home early from work.  We settled down in the living room to chat for a bit…and just had a great time getting caught up.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I made sure to snap some photos before we had to hit the road back to Heather’s home.

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Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl from Tavern 4 & 5

Her parents wanted to go out to eat so Heather recalled seeing some gluten-free options at one of their favorite places, Tavern 4 & 5. I got their Grilled Tofu Healthy Bowl (gluten free meant NO plum sauce).  So it was a bowl of quinoa, “power” greens salad, fresh steamed chef’s choice of vegetable from the local farmers, and the protein – in my case the Tofu.  Heather got one too…which is how we knew the original plate that came out to me came with the plum sauce…so we had to send it back and have it remade…which they did.  And the food was delicious.

We returned back to the house…and Heather made this ginger drink with gluten free vodka and we went down to the basement where she started me on some of her favorite Hallmark Christmas movies.  This bit of information will come in play later.  I had been up since 1:30 that morning…and I was starting to drift off…so I went to my room, posted my Instagram stories I saved until Heather knew I was there…and went to sleep.

The following morning, I woke up to use the bathroom….play on my phone…go back to sleep…and then finally emerge.

BREAKING BIRTHDAY

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

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Birthday Breakfast Omlette (with ALL the avocado)

sister-in-law), and the three kiddliewinks) would all meet up at a local ice skating rink (it’s Minnesota and outside, mind you!) to skate for maybe an hour on the big day.  I was a bit nervous about it.  First of all, I hadn’t been on the ice for 10 years (the last time I skated was on top of a department store in Dublin, Ireland).  Secondly, I would be using rental skates.  Third…I’m a marathon runner and while I’m sort of in a down season at the moment…for years I have avoided situations where I might do any sort of damage to myself accidentally.

I figured, if nothing else, I could stick close to the wall, get a feel for the ice…and maybe make a round or five before heading to the warming house and just hanging until everyone else was done.

After a delicious “build-your-own” omlette breakfast, compliments of Heather’s mom…we started to layer up and get ready to head out to the ice rink we would be skating at that day.  We would be meting Chad, Chelsea, and the kids there.

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Me rethinking life decisions in rental skates!

We all set out and I very timidly stepped out onto the ice.  And my first thought was, “Man…if I get hurt, Daniel is going to kill me!”  Daniel, for any new readers, is my running coach.  BUT…I slowly minced my way around the patchy ice, slowly being able to find a bit more of a glide and getting a bit more comfortable with it.  Heather and I took a few photos after my second or third trip around…and then she took off with my camera to film a  lap.

And that’s when things went terribly wrong.

I came skating around a turn and found her laying on the ice gripping her arm.  She was hurting.  BAD!  She told her nephew to go get Chad and soon, Chad was on his way…getting her up off the ice and having her sit down so he could assess everything.  Heather has an amazing family to support and love on her.  Honestly.  Chad helped her skate off the ice.  When the medical staff came running and saying they called an ambulance, he had them call that off…there were plenty of us there who could take her to urgent care.  He got her settled into the warming building and helped get her out of her hoodie.  He had her move her arm.  And all of this had to have been super painful for Heather.  And she gritted her teeth and did it.  A staff medial member came over with a sheet to inquire about the accident, which Chelsea went ahead and took from him and filled out with a little help from Heather.

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Heather and Me on the ice

Chelsea also went up to the snack bar to get a water and a Powerade for Heather to have to drink.  I went with her and gave her a little hug.  It was just not the birthday celebration any of us were anticipating that morning.  We did pack up everything while Chad went to go grab Heather’s car.  We carried everything out, got Heather into the passenger seat, and Chad drove Heather and I to Urgent Care.  He dropped us off at the front door so he could park the car, and I walked her in, got her insurance card and ID out, filled out the paperwork, and returned it just a moment before she was called back.  Chad joined us right then.  Good timing.

The nurse had her up on the table to start with…but after sitting there for a long amount of time, and having Chad move to block the mirror so she couldn’t see her elbow, Heather eventually worked her way down to the chair.  They did bring in an ice pack and some pain meds for her, which she took and I helped hold the ice pack for her.

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I skate with ALL the padding on!

The doctor came in to take a look at it and just sort of give a surface inspection of it.  He ordered X-Rays, but we needed to wait for the pain meds to kick in.  So, we did that.  And about 20 minutes later, they came and got her to take her back for the X-Rays.  Chad and I chilled in the exam room until they brought her back.  She made herself comfortable in the chair again and we awaited the doctor again.  He came in shortly after and pulled up the images…starting with the back of her arm.  It didn’t look bad at that angle.  THEN…he flipped to the side view.

We all winced a little and went…”OOOOOH!”  It was a VERY obvious break.  Very obvious.  But it was a clean break…not a shatter…so that was the good news.  The doctor went to see if his surgeon had called back, because this would definitely entail surgery.  When he did return with the news…surgery was necessary…but not that day.  It could wait until after the weekend and they would split her up and give her a prescription to help with the pain…and she would have a surgical consult on Monday morning.IMG_9985

Heather was very worried about what this would mean for her and her job as far as being able to do it.  Chad and I told her not to worry about that right now.  He went to pull the car around and I went to help her get out to the car safely, in the process dropping my phone at least 3 times.  It made her laugh…a little.  We then made our way to Walgreens to pick up the prescription and a cast protector so that she could take a shower.  And then…we went home.

THE OTHER SURPRISE

39A79C50-C88A-48FD-9EB2-49C152B80690As if having a broken elbow on your birthday wasn’t enough of a shock to the system…the next element of Operation Heather Turns 40 was announced…just so that she would know what was coming.  All the family and friends who could be there were coming that evening to celebrate.  So, Heather went to settle into a bed to chill and get a feel for the splint and the occasional bolt of pain that would hit.  We started upstairs, but eventually made our way downstairs, letting her get comfortable on her own bed, stacking up pillows as needed and making sure she was set.  I settled in on the other side and we watched a lot of Laura Osnes Videos.  And maybe another Hallmark Movie.  Perhaps.  I don’t remember.  If you don’t know who Laura Osnes is…you were like me, but prepare to look into her.  She’s amazing.  She’s a Broadway star…she was in the musical Cinderella, Bonnie & Clyde, and others.  And her voice is AMAZING.  She’s very talented.  It’s what Heather needed…until we needed to get her ready for the party.9C5A7E65-596C-4743-B9B5-B7169A3AA26D

I helped her change her shirt.  Her mom helped her curl her hair and do her makeup.  And when she was ready…we got her upstairs and got her settled on the couch with her arm propped.  Everyone arrived.  It was a great time.  Everyone got to have time with Heather and I got to meet SO many people who told me that they had heard a lot about me or seen my photo on Facebook.  I was having a good time.  Between Chelsea and I, we were making sure Heather had food, cake, and something to drink.  Chelsea was even kind enough to pick up a gluten-free cake for me to have as well so I could be part of the celebration.  Told you…her family is amazing.  AND…even though I’m a vegetarian, they had PLENTY of options for me to choose from as well.  I hadn’t eaten lunch that day (I was going to have a salad once Heather got settled in…but I totally didn’t get around to it and by the time I remembered it was party time anyway), so I feasted on LOTS of veggies, a potato, and some chips with a plant-based dip.  It was awesome.  And…of course…cake.

IMG_9979aGifts were opened.  Lots of different discussions were happening.  And Heather was smiling.  And after all she had gone through that day…that’s the best thing ever!

As the party was winding down and everyone started to leave, I got Heather downstairs and settled in and went to go take a shower.  We watched a Hallmark Christmas Movie until she started to fade.  I set her up with a cowbell to ring if she needed me and made sure she had water, her medicine, and whatever else nearby.  She never rang the bell all night.

TIME TO GO

Sunday morning was really laid back.  I woke up around 5 and Heather woke up when she heard me moving around.  I went to keep her company for a bit.  She dozed in and out as we watched a few more Hallmark Movies…until she needed to get up.  We went upstairs where I brewed coffee and her mom made us a breakfast outIMG_9998 of leftovers.  I made sure I had my stuff packed after I changed out of my pajamas.

Heather went to go take a shower and I helped out by sorting her laundry for laundry day.  I moved everything into the laundry room and then went back upstairs to hang out for a little bit.  Her mom made an early dinner for me and soon they were packing up the car and taking me to the airport.  There were absolutely NO lines at security, so I had some time to walk the terminals, get some chocolate, buy some local treats, and grab my last cup of (decaf) Caribou Coffee.

IMG_0001I boarded the flight and headed home at 8:30 pm.  I got into Louisville before midnight and Cathy was there to pick me up and drive us home.

This was definitely not the trip any of us envisioned when we plotted it all out…but Heather sure does know how to keep things interesting, right?

For the record, she had a successful surgery where they inserted a pin.  This week, she was put in a removable splint and has started physical therapy.  AND…she has finally gotten out of the house to go out to eat.  She’s well on her way to a full recovery.

But…I did tell her that we need a do-over for sure!

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The 12Ks of Christmas – LaGrange, KY (December 21, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line at the 12Ks of Christmas – LaGrange, KY

Race: The 12Ks of Christmas

Place: LaGrange, KY

Date: December 21, 2019

Time: 53:53

Merry Christmas…Bah Humbug?

I won’t lie…that was how I felt at the very, very end of this race.  I felt so strong and amazing, and at the very end…I felt like everything I worked hard for was taken from me.

Does this sound dramatic?  I’m sure it does.

But it is the honest truth.  And I’ll get to why as I give a little run-down of this race.

So, a big shout-out to my amazing friends, Melissa & Paul Nolan, for not only paying for my registration for this race, but for telling me about it last year and really peaking my interest in it.  For one thing, the proceeds of this race go toward a really good cause – The Crossroads Pregnancy Resource Center.  They were even kind enough to pick up my bib and sweatshirt the night before the race and bring it with them on race morning.

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Homemade Mushroom Masala

The night before the race I should have had my “magic sushi” that has worked for me in the past when training for a marathon and racing.  But I didn’t.  I cooked up a homemade Mushroom Masala, serving it over rice.  I have to get used to that though.  I can’t have my sushi before a few races I am traveling for this coming year – the biggest of which is the Berlin Marathon.

I might just be making excuses.  HA!

I woke up to give myself time to figure out what I wanted to wear that morning (it was pretty dang cold), stretch, eat something, prep a bottle of Maurten 160 Drink Mix to bring with me for 30 minutes before the race, and…make the drive to LaGrange, Kentucky.

We got there with lots of time to kill.  Per usual.  So, after parking the car, my roomie and I wandered inside to stay warm.  I made use of the indoor bathroom (twice…lots of water that morning because hydration!) and Cathy went exploring or something.  That being said, as I wandered out, I was greeted by some members of the Louisville She Runs This Town Group, and we all sort of gathered together, admiring festive attire, talking about race strategy, possible races coming up, and how bright my pants were.  That really was a thing.  We all admired the cute Christmas tree awards that would be handed out to the Top 2 overall for the 6K and the 12K.  They were truly stunning.  Then, with 10 minutes to go until race time…we took the group photo.

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SRTT Louisville Group Photo

Melissa arrived soon after the photo was taken, bringing my bib and her cute little bundle of joy (and her husband, for good measure, LOL!).  I got pinned up and with 3 minutes to go finally headed outside.  At this point, Lynn Riedling, a local runner, wandered past and I looked at Cathy and said, “Well…I won’t take overall here anyway!” I stepped out into the cold morning air.  No one was really out there yet.  It was weird.  A lady asked which way we were heading out on the run, and I said, “I guess this way…because that’s how everyone is facing.  Usually I don’t have to worry about it because I’m not really speedy enough to lead a race.”  She said that was the same with her.

With just seconds to go, there was a countdown to the start of the race.  People didn’t really line up right on the line…but we all took off when we told to go.  My legs felt fast to start, but I didn’t know how fast they were as we took off from the church and headed down to Commerce Parkway.  We were given instructions at the start of the race to return on the path, not the road when we turned around.  Noted.  I was feeling pretty strong as we made our way to the first turn and hit Mile 1.  It was my fastest mile of the day…around a 6:50.

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Start line for the 12Ks of Christmas – next year I’m up right on that line!

But here is where I now get why my LaGrange friends always talking about the hills.  Because after that turn, the hills definitely started.  Immediately.  We climbed the first one on New Moody Lane.  I wasn’t sure who I was running with was doing the 6K or the 12K, but I knew that I would continue to run straight down a road.  Anyone doing the 6K would turn at Mile 1.86.

My second mile was around a 7:44.  Hills.  They get me every time.  I had a few people pass me, but they were either men or dogs at this point.  I did reach the turn around point and only a few turned.  I stayed the course with the rest and just really was feeling strong at the moment.  And I knew all I had to do was run straight down LaGrange Parkway to the turnaround at KY 53.  But, in all cases, I just turn around when everyone else does.

Soon after the 2.5 mile point…Lynn passed me.  I knew that was coming.  She’s stealth and fast and an amazing runner.  I expected it.  But I knew I’d now be working for that 2nd overall female position.  I was able to push a little more and sped up for the rollers on the road, reaching the turnaround point a little sooner than I should have.  After I turned and started back, the next female behind me was coming toward the turnaround. I had a bit of a buffer, but not much.

Time to dial it in.

Miles 4 and 5 went by quickly, and I was able to maintain that pickup I had once Lynn passed me.  That made me feel pretty good.  But coming into Mile 6, we had to make another hill climb, and that definitely slowed me down more than I wish it had.  But we were nearing the end of the race, so I knew my legs were not feeling as peppy.  It was my slowest mile of the race, and it ended on a downhill, so that was a bit of a surprise.  I made the dash across the road to continue on the path.  That did mean some running on some grass, but it was only for a few strides.  Someone said they heard jingle bells and turned to see me coming up behind them so they moved out of the way.  Oh yeah…decided it would be fun to wear socks with bells on them for this run.  HA!  Someone else a bit further up the path was blocking the way while walking, and they turned as I was coming up behind them and stepped right in front of me.  I had to hit the brakes and dodge around them.  They did apologize.  But I was in the homestretch.  I could also tell at this point that the course was definitely going to be short.

I made the turn into the church parking lot to come up the hill.  I had 0.05 miles to go to the finish line when…right there a woman sprinted right past me and up the hill.  I tried to go with her, but she pressed on and I saw her round to the finish line.  The fight I had left and I really slowed down because I just felt disappointed.  It was the last race of the year for my mom and I got outkicked fight at the end after being 1st or 2nd overall for ALL of the race.  I felt so much anger when I crossed the finish line that I paused my Garmin, said a few not safe for church words, and might have fought off tears.

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The Overall awards for the 12K and 6K

It felt like I had been cheated right at the end.  And I won’t lie.  I was mad.  I was also mad that the course was about .30 miles short.  Looking back at the course, the original one had us doing this little duck into a parking lot thing and doing a loop in the first mile…and that didn’t happen.  I guess that’s where it all went wrong.  The good part was that I crossed just after my friends Melissa, Paul and their baby Carrick (in a stroller) crossed for the 6K.  But Melissa wasn’t happy with her finish either, and she tried really, really hard to lift my spirits. I wasn’t having it as much as she wasn’t having my words of praise for her run.  Cathy made a point of telling me that I was coming off a week that included two 10 milers before this race whereas the other woman was probably on better rested legs.  It almost made me feel better.

At this point, a child walked an ornament over to me for finishing.  Just as I was handed it, I just passed it off to Cathy.  But then Lynn Riedling (the overall female winner) came over to me and said such nice things to me.  I think she could tell I was upset.  She told me that I really pushed her and that I ran really well that day.  Honestly, that was such a show of sportsmanship that it really warmed my heart.

Cathy noticed people weren’t coming up the path the right way so she went to direct them and I wen to go add on to my distance to get the proper 12K.  I kept it really easy.  Cried a little from anger, disappointment, and just feeling like I let my mom down on the last race of the year.

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Pop’s Poppin’ Egg Salad (without the bread) for post-race brunch with the Nolans

And then…my mom called.  I had just finished my cool down and my phone rang.  I told her about the race and she said someone should have tripped that woman.  My mom has a dry sense of humor.  She told me she was proud of me for being 3rd female or 1st in my age group.  And I told her…that didn’t matter at this race, because no one got awards for that.  Now, I know awards and accolades aren’t everything, but I literally thought I had it for the ENTIRE race until that finish.

I finished talking to her and all of us went inside for the awards.  I was nice and applauded everyone, including the lady who outkicked me (she was also the one I spoke with at the start of the race) right at the end.  I’m not unsporting.  She earned it.  I just am still a bit bitter.  HA!  I’ll get over it…eventually.  Although, I did find out that if I had opted for the 6K option, I would have crushed the competition going away.  Let that be a lesson…there is sometimes more magic in that shorter distance.  Hindsight is 20/20.

Afterwards, the Nolans, Cathy and I went out for brunch at Wild Eggs.  I then had to finish up some shopping and head home to pack because I was heading to Alabama early on Sunday morning for Christmas with the family.

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Paul, Carrick, Melissa, Me and Cathy post-race!

So, my official results of the 12Ks of Christmas are that I finished in I finished in 53:53.  That’s a good baseline to work on should I run this again next year…unless I opt for the 6K option.  We’ll see.  Also…maybe not…because the course was short, as I mentioned before.  I was 8/54 finishers overall. I was the 3/29 female finishers. And I was 1/3 in my age division. So, it might not have been the finish I thought I had earned, but in the end, it was a good race (next time I hope the course is more accurate), and the proceeds definitely went to a good cause.  And, honestly, when all was said and done…I had fun, even on the challenging hills.  And that wrapped up a year of racing…so in 2020, I’m going to work on that finishing kick.  Getting passed at the finish line is really getting old.

GOALS!

Also…I might eat sushi the night before.  Reasons.

Exciting Stuff Part 2

78546341_10100632067285991_5968535194473332736_nAgain, this will come as no surprise to you if you already follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  But, I feel the need to put it down in the blog.  This year, I hope to settle in and blog about more things.  Getting back into the writing groove when I posted about my training plan leading up to my BQ attempt (which I got) at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

And one thing that is going to help with that definitely has everything to do with this announcement.

I was selected to be a BibRave Pro.

What’s BibRave?

BibRave is a running community that was built to connect runners with the best races.  You can research races you are considering putting on your race schedule…as well as leave feedback on races that you have completed.  It is also a way for races and brands that are geared toward runners to connect with runners through their large ambassador network (which I am now a part of) as well as through #BibChat – which is a Twitter chat that happens once a month (starting in the new year).

I have applied for the opportunity to join this amazing family of people who honestly promote products and races, as well as just be an awesome member of the running community…FOUR times.  I finally got it.  And I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m learning all the basics right now, but stay tuned because I know there is some exciting stuff coming up this year!