AllState Hot Chocolate Indy Virtual 15k Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Indianapolis to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

If there is anything I can say about doing the AllState Hot Chocolate Indy Virtual 15K this past weekend…it’s that it didn’t go as I had planned. Seems to be a theme for 2020, eh?

To be fair…this had nothing to do with the race itself. Mostly…with the date the race was on. And when I signed up for it…it wasn’t an issue at all.

But you know…this year has kept us guessing. While on a run just under 2 weeks before the race date, I fell on a dark morning run when my foot hit a rock I didn’t see…and I sprained my ankle. Grade 2 sprain. I was put in a brace and everything…but I was told I could start easing back some activity if the ankle felt okay.

It was a guessing game, but I did manage a few short, easy runs leading up to that Saturday morning when I would do the virtual race. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. 45 minutes. That was all I had time for. I didn’t fuss over or worry over pace…I just needed to see how the ankle was doing in the short time I had to build it up.

On the morning of the race, I also decided to attack the race in a different way, because I knew the ankle was healing. So…I broke it up into three 5Ks. The first 5K I did early that morning. It went well…and I really just focused on my stride and made sure that I wasn’t compensating or pushing too much. I met up with my roommate for the 2nd 5K that morning. She was doing a virtual 5K for another event so we knocked out those miles together. And, finally, I rounded out the race with my final 5K…which I decided to do on a bit more challenging course…which would end at the top of a hill…and be about a mile walk back to my apartment for the cool down.

Honestly, it went better than it should have. I made sure I put my health and safety first. And I really think breaking it up into the three separate 5Ks that day was the smartest and healthiest way for me to approach the 15K distance. And, I never pass up a chance to run with someone, no matter their pace. And I think my roomie appreciated me for most of the run (although I get chatty and don’t stop talking…but she should know that about me already!). I played her a finish line song as we ran to the finish of that portion of the race.

The AllState Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races are SO much fun. I have run it in person (in Columbus, OH) before. And I have now run it virtually twice. I love that the race provides celebratory chocolate pieces and…of course…the coveted finish line hot chocolate.

It was almost 70 degrees the morning I ran…so that hot chocolate is being saved for another morning, but I sure did pose with that amazing jacket and donned my medal…and eat a piece of chocolate to celebrate.

The AllState Hot Chocolate 15K Indianapolis race may have been virtual…but it was virtually a lot of fun. All of these races are virtual this year…so why not sign up and have your own little hot chocolate party?

Running the Virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Indianapolis

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Indianapolis to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I absolutely love running up in Indianapolis. I have raced many times there and always am eager to return. After all, it’s around 2 hours away from where I live, which makes it a convenient spot to race.

This year, as we all know, racing looks a little different. And the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K series has gone virtual. This means that while it wouldn’t have been a hassle to get up to Indianapolis for an in-person race…this year we can all do this from wherever we are. So, when I was given the opportunity to be a part of the virtual race this year…I was excited to do it!

The Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races are wonderful. I ran my first one back in November 2012 and had such a good time (even though I was FREEZING!). It makes that hot chocolate at the finish line all the more welcome, right? This race hasn’t changed much over the years…but the swag has become higher quality. Back when I ran it…there was no finisher’s medal. Now…there is definitely a medal. And this year…it flips open to reveal a hidden piece of chocolate inside. The jacket the year…has a removable hood and is SUPER cozy. And…even though it’s virtual, I still got chocolate and hot chocolate packets to enjoy post-virtual race.

And we all love running for chocolate, right?

Last week, I sprained my ankle on an early morning run…and with the 10/10 date for this virtual race rapidly approaching…I am definitely looking at different options for me as far as how I approach getting to my own virtual finish line. But one thing is for sure…I’ll be out there and I’ll be enjoying some chocolate afterwards.

Make sure you get registered and take part in a fun race series!! How sweet it is!

Want to hear more from other BibRave Pro’s doing this virtual race? Check out these blogs by Stephanie and Lisha!

Global Running Day 24 Hour Virtual Relay

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Global Running Day 24 Hour Virtual Relay as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Hey everyone!!  What a crazy year 2020 has been, right?  With most of the races we were supposed to be running this spring postponing or cancelling straight out, it seems the art and sport of virtual racing has really taken off.  It’s definitely not been your average racing season for sure.

With all that being said, my daily life has been erratic and different from the norm.  I work from home most of the time, which means that all the days…weeks…months…as time has gone one…has pretty much lost all meaning to me.  But, I have made sure that I have at least maintained my fitness by continuing to get outside and run…even if no races are on my calendar.

In case you’re like me and you’ve lost all sense and track of time, June is coming.  And the first Wednesday, June 3, 2020, is Global Running Day!  Global Running Day is a celebration of the sport of running, as well as striving to live a healthy and active lifestyle.  While I know a lot of people are over the whole virtual racing thing…I am VERY excited to be participating in this virtual relay.

I am on the NYC team and am scheduled to run from 9:00-9:30 am.  This particular relay is time based, rather than mileage based.  Everyone who is participating is encourged to get out there and do what they can in their given time frame.  When you finish your allotted half hour, you virtually “pass the baton” to your next teammate via text, e-mail, or a call.

Additionally, there are teams from all over the country that you can join, so it doesn’t even, necessarily, have to be in the state or area you live in.  I’m in Southern Indiana, but I’m on the NYC team…so that doesn’t matter.  AND…if you want to start your own team, you are able to do that too.  That’s the magic of the virtual race, for sure!

Those who register for the early morning time slots are being given a $5 discount on their entry.  If you love getting your run in early (I used to be one of these 3:00 am people), there are definitely spots open for you!!

Added bonus, just for participating, you will receive this t-shirt and medal at the end of June and entered into a few raffles from Garmin, Maurten, Goodr, and Trigger Point.

And what do you get for participating in this Global 24 Hour Relay? Well, beside the obvious pride that comes along with it, you’ll receive this shirt and medal at the end of June and be entered into a few raffles from Garmin, Maurten, Goodr, and Trigger Point.

So, if you’re feeling burnt out on virtual races, maybe a virtual relay is just what you need to reignite that spark.

Want to be a part of it?  You should totally sign up!  Be a part of this year’s #Global24Relay!



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!


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!


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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!


Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #20

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornI don’t know how I made it through these last 20 weeks, but with that said…race week has arrived.  I’m both nervous, excited, anxious, and calm.  How is it possible to feel all the things and remain sane?  Well, the vote is still out on that whole remaining sane thing.  HA!

This was definitely a week to turn it down.  And my coach gave me specific instructions that he didn’t want me to take a complete back seat this week, but I could move or change whatever I needed to going into it.  I didn’t change a damn thing.  I did, however, knock my recovery runs down one mile and made sure to keep that pace nice…and…easy.  The last thing I wanted was to go into race morning with lactic acid hanging around in these legs.  NOPE NOPE NOPE!

As I mentioned previously, my coach does an untraditional taper.  He does lower mileage (although I was in the 60s, 50s, 40s for the last three weeks)…kinda.  He makes a lot of it all about that speed work.  Getting those legs to fire…right at the end of a run…when they are the most exhausted.  But this week really didn’t have too much on it.  My longest run was 7 miles, and that was the ONLY one that really had a speed element to it.  And it was a 4 mile fast finish.  Other than that…strides on the last day I ran before the race.  But I’ll cover all of that in this week recap.

It’s race week…let’s go!


I love that even in taper, my coach trusts me with “Choose Your Own Adventure” runs.  Knowing that this is race week, I really wanted to make my primary focus recovery.  I want to hit that start line feeling fresh and ready.  I was stressing over the forecast a little too much, because it looks like this will be my coldest marathon I have run.  Thanks to Canada and this arctic blast that is attacking our nation.  HA!  Anyway, I woke up to weather JUST above freezing.  So it was a long sleeve, capris kind of a run.  I didn’t wear my Dunkin’ Donuts hat…don’t know why.  I just didn’t.  And the legs did a little shakeout.  They felt good for a Monday.  I opted to do 4 instead of my usual 5 miles…and somehow snagged some negative splits in the process.  I called it a day.  No personal training.  Just my normal PT stretches.  I didn’t even do the additional hip strengtheners this week, not wanting to accidentally tweak something.  Simple.  Basic.  Got it done.


I woke up on Tuesday morning to 50 degree weather.  Yep.  From 33 degrees Monday morning to 50 degrees on Tuesday.  Fun times.  I knew he gave me the option of 8 miles…and if this was training on a normal week and I was feeling good…I might have pushed for it.  BUT…it’s taper.  It’s race week. I don’t like half miles…so I rounded up to 7…and I opted to go right in the middle with that fast finish, doing 3 easy miles and pushing pace on those last 4.  It felt hard.  It shouldn’t have felt hard.  But, I did at least get it done.  My sinuses were having a fun reaction to the yo-yo temperatures, so that was fun.  Other than that…I took it for what it was.  Finished as strong as I could for the day, then went inside to shower and just do my usual stretching.  Keeping it nice and easy.  Oh, and I went and voted.  Because that needed to happen!


Second verse, same as the first.  My only other “Choose Your Own Adventure” run for the week.  Happy to have had 2 of these.  I opted to do 4 again, unless I just wasn’t feeling it.  That’s the glory about these…I control them.  I did make a note to back off on pace and just let the legs work a little less.  My last 2 miles were much quicker than my first 2 miles, but that’s because it took me 2 miles to feel warm.  Isn’t that fun.  OH…did I not mention that the temperature dipped back down to just above freezing again?  Another morning with 33 degrees.  Oh…joy.  And the fact that I went from a warm apartment to run and it took me 2 miles to get my legs going was a bit of a concern.  I just tried very hard not to let it get into my head.  I did my stretches twice that morning.  And I foam rolled before work.  After work, I had a sports massage and I was so thankful for that.  Basically all that is holding me back right now is the weather.


It was another rainy Thursday morning.  Just like last week.  UGH.  MEH.  BLAH.  I originally had thought about just doing the run on the treadmill, but I can’t do strides on the tready.  Nope.  So…I opted to just go and get it done.  It never stopped raining on me…but thankfully, we were back up to 50 degrees.  WHAT THE HELL WEATHER?!  So, I definitely didn’t want to push anything. Not even the hills I go up and down.  This was one of my slowest training runs to date.  And some of it might have been fear of slipping on the wet pavement and falling.  I won’t lie.  But I really just wanted it all to feel super easy.  It didn’t.  I blame the rain.  But, I did get in 6 miles.  See…I was given the option of going up to 8…but I really am doing JUST what needs to be done this week.  I reset for strides and pushed those legs on some short sprints…then went inside to take a hot shower, stretch, and get to work.  I met my friend, Melissa, for coffee after work…and she gave me my start line pep talk just in case she couldn’t get that out at my start line.  I appreciated it.  Went home to eat dinner.  Was supposed to pack.  Didn’t pack.  Went to bed by 8:30…because I really wanted to get some quality sleep knowing that I probably won’t sleep much on Friday night.


Thank God for small miracles.  I woke up at normal time…of course.  I didn’t set an alarm.  I just woke up.  So I lounged and dozed and finally got up at 5 am.  I showered.  I stretched.  I was thankful to not have to do one single mile today.  I was thankful that it was 26 degrees outside and I got to stay inside, stretch, hydrate, and sit under my snuggie, working on this blog.  That’s what I did.  I eventually made breakfast and my roommate and I got to packing…pretty much every option for any scenario on race day.  I still don’t know what I should or want to wear during the race.  We haven’t had weather this cold yet here…so I am at a total loss.  Not to mention, I have never run a marathon or a long distance run in temperatures like this.  It doesn’t sound fun.  It’s producing a lot of anxiety…but we’re working through it.  We had to wait for Dragon King’s Daughter to open so I could order my “magic sushi” to take with me to Indianapolis.  Then we hit the road to get up to Indy, check into the hotel, and hit the expo.  The rest of the time, I was going to spend in the hotel…rolling, stretching, and keeping myself off my feet.  I wanted to feel good Saturday morning.


Goal: Qualify for Boston – needed 3:40 time.


Finished in 3:35:13.

More to come in actual post race recap!  This girl is going back to Boston in 2021!  This is my second fastest marathon…EVER.  This beats out my 2nd marathon, the Marshall Marathon, by about 42 seconds.  Super proud.  Super sore.  But my day didn’t end with that finish line.  Then I went and sat outside in Indianapolis for the USL Eastern Conference Finals between the Indy Eleven and…Louisville City FC.  We won.  In overtime.  It was a long day of being cold.


I just can’t sleep the night after I run a marathon.  I was up until after midnight, watching Mindhunter (finished Season 2) and was still NOT tired.  I tossed and turned all night.  Finally got up and decided to finish this blog.  Will take a short 20 minute walk on the hotel treadmill this morning before grabbing breakfast, packing, loading up the car, and heading out for some shopping and lunch (you know I’m going to Woody’s).  Then, the long car ride home to Louisville, where I still need to buy groceries, meal prep, and all the usual stuff.  This coming week will bring my 20-30 minute walks (just like I did post Glass City Marathon in April).  I want to get back to spin classes…all the stuff I stopped doing when marathon training took over my life.  Looking forward to this recovery time while I make plans for 2020, which now doesn’t need to include a marathon!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #8

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornGuys…it has been a week.  A crazy, unpredictable week.  And here I am, trying to plan how to work training in while I am gone over my birthday weekend and it’s just a little overwhelming and stressful.

I went into this week with a little bit of trepidation.  Not over what I needed to do during the week.  Nope.  The weekend.  The weekend was what was truly weighing on my mind.  Why? Because it is the series of workouts that I have yet to actually execute perfectly or near perfectly.  The heat/humidity has killed me the past three…yes THREE…times I have attempted this.  And this weekend was shaping up to be…you guessed it…both hot and humid.

So…let the slog being!


Covering my watch has definitely become my new normal.  So if you know of anywhere where I can buy cute/fun wristbands to go over my Garmin…clue me in.  I want to stock up.  Since this was an easy run, I decided to try out the Aftershokz Bone Conducting Headphones out.  What I do love about these is that they don’t go into the ears…so you can still be fully aware of the world around you.  That’s perfect for me.  I’m not going to make a habit out of running with music…but I might pull these out for my speed work on Sunday…just to see if it gets me out of my head.  My recovery miles were definitely a little faster than they needed to be, but I felt really relaxed and good the entire run.  Later that day I met with Corey for my personal training session.  And he kicked my butt with some dynamic exercises to activate the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core.  I love/hate core exercises.  I love a good strong core…the exercises just aren’t always fun.  I went ahead today and did my bonus hip strengthener exercises with my usual stretches as well.  Busy day.


I woke up early this morning.  I was having trouble sleeping.  It was speed work day…and I always have a little bit of anxiety going into speed work morning.  But, I put in my contacts, got dressed, and was in the kitchen, eating something to give me some energy, while I hydrated a little and filled up my hydration pack when my Weather Channel app pinged and said thunderstorms with strong winds were coming my way.  I gave it a quick moment of thought and decided that I could beat it.  I rushed out the door and quickly started my watch.  And only 0.15 miles into the planned 8 for that morning, the sky started to light up with lightning.  Frustrated, I ran back to the apartment and decided to see if it passed over while I did my stretches and additional hip strengtheners again.  It thundered while I was doing that, so I decided I was just going to have to switch my speed work day with my Thursday easy run.  I wasn’t happy about it…but it was how it had to go this time.  I thought about waiting and running on the track that night…but it was going to be in the mid-90s and there were more chances for storms.  Not going to take chances, I went to the gym…despite there being no rain, thunder, or lightning happening when I went to my car.  I hopped on a treadmill, once again using my Aftershokz to get the tunes going (I can’t do a treadmill without music.  EVER!  I can run outside (and prefer to) without music and go forever).  And I did easy miles on the treadmill for just over an hour.  Total of 7 miles, just like Monday.  The same workout, two days in a row.  One on pavement.  One on a treadmill.  I knew I would feel that treadmill on Wednesday…so I was thankful it was another easy day.  Was I stacking this week against me or what?


Same run as last week.  Same instructions.  Third week in a row.  Spin wasn’t given as an option, but I went anyway.  It really makes me so happy…helps me with endurance…and I get in a mentally tough place fighting for sprints and on climbs.  I like to think it carries over to running when it gets tough.  So, kept a VERY easy pace on my run, then hopped in the car to head to the gym again…this time for the Endurance Ride Spin Class.  One hour and a lot of sweat later, my legs felt really good.  Spin class always seems to take the heaviness out of my legs.  Another reason I love going so much.


I woke up so many times the night leading into this rescheduled speed work.  I really, really was wishing this was done earlier in the week and I could just run easy today.  But…nope.  Speed work HAS to happen.  And I needed to give it my best.  I just didn’t WANT to.  Typical.  So…this week I did the usual Mona Fartlek workout.  The difference was, right after the 15 second round, I was to go immediately into a hard effort mile before my cool down.  I was toast in the mile.  It was tough.  I did my best to tough it out, but the humidity was weighing me down.  I hate when it’s humid enough to make it hard to breathe.  UGH.  But…I did it.  I got it done.  My workout was simple: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4×60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  They were hard this morning.  And this is really the only speed work I actually enjoy doing.  I didn’t hate this…but I was very happy to be done with it.

Friday: Per the usual…complete rest day.  Sleep in.  Shower.  Stretch.  Read.  Drink coffee.  Head into work.  The usual.  I was also having a checkup with my eye doctor just to see how the contacts were working.  Guess what…LOVE THEM!  I have a busy weekend planned, so tried to do as much prep work in advance as I could the night before.  So, insanity…but hopefully these legs will appreciate the extra TLC, foam rolling, stretches and rest because I really NEED the weekend runs to go well.


Fast finishes are one of my least favorite things.  While I am usually very good about keeping my regular pace during the run easy, I still somehow struggle more than I should with fast finishes.  With one of my running buddies opting to sleep in, I met up with Ron on my side of the river where we ran the Greenway early to try to beat some of the summer morning heat.  Once that sun comes up…struggle bus.  But we actually kept a pretty steady, regular pace to our turnaround and then barely slowed down on the return.  Then, my fast finish was done running to the local coffee shop 2 miles away.  My roommate was meeting me there for iced coffee and Ron joined us for some rest and relaxation while we drank coffee and discussed races in states and why to do or not do certain ones.  After that, I headed home to shower and change because Cathy and I were meeting our friend Michelle and heading to Turtle Run Winery for a girls day out.  I was the designated driver due to my workout on Sunday morning, so I basically had half of a glass of wine total over the 3+ hours we were hanging there.  It was a really fun day.  After a stop off for dinner for Cathy & Michelle at a local favorite spot (nothing there I can really eat), we went to let Amanda & Richie’s pitt bull puppies out to play before taking Michelle home, calling in my order for magical sushi (it’s becoming a pre-long run favorite) for a VERY late dinner.  I ate at 8:30 pm.  REALLY late for me.  And then I went to get ready for bed…because I had an early wakeup the following morning.


Honestly, this is the workout I dread.  Anytime it pops up on my training plan it makes me die a little inside.  Why?  Because I have NEVER been able to actually do it properly.  AND…on top of that, one of my best friends was doing her first triathlon and wanted me to come spectate and cheer.  This meant an early morning so I could start with enough time to hopefully make it from Indiana to Kentucky and not miss her finish.  I knew I wouldn’t make her start…I probably could have seen her bike to run transition, but I didn’t know where she was when I got down there.  But my run…it was the best attempt I have had yet.  While it wasn’t perfect, especially in the last 2 miles, which were a HUGE struggle bus because it was hotter and the sun was up, and there was no shade to be had.  But…I executed this run better than I have in the past.  I even got a high five from a biker as I was on the greenway, heading from Indiana into Kentucky.  Amazing.  My marathon paces were pretty accurate, even with hills.  My biggest problem today was the extra fuel I carry to take at Mile 8…leaked.  And it was halfway gone by the time I hit Mile 5.  So, it became a use it or lose it decision so I took it 3 miles early.  I don’t think it made too much of a difference, but I was really ready to be done once that sun got higher.  It heated up really quickly today.  But, I did manage to hit the paces with few to little stops.  And, I was at the finish line to cheer in my friend, give her a hug, and hang out for a bit before heading out to do all the grocery shopping we still had left to do.  It worked out to 15.6 miles when all was said and done.

Let me tell you…I’m tired.  And my schedule for next week isn’t playing around.  So…rest is going to be key for me this coming week.  Wish me luck on that.  Also…my coach and his wife just welcomed their third child.  Exciting times.  He warned all of us he coaches that he might not get schedules posted by Sunday night, but he actually had them to me before 3 pm.  Amazing.  And also…trying not to panic over the speed work that he assigned this time around.


For now, I keep hoping for this heat to let up…just a little.


No wonder I’m tired…

Bluegrass 10,000 – Lexington, KY (July 4, 2017)

The crew that ran the Bluegrass 10,000 – Lexington, Kentucky

Race: Bluegrass 10,000

Place: Lexington, Kentucky

Date: July 4, 2017

Time: 46:49

OMG, you guys!!  I was finally able to participate in a 4th of July race.  I have been wanting to do this for ages, but usually my schedule (events) or injury have prevented this from happening.  And while I’m still not to my 100%, nor where I would like to be in my running, I was excited to be participating in this race.

Why Lexington?

Well, my friends talked me into it.

Seriously.  I blame the likes of Melissa, Paul and Linda.  Because while there are races closer to home, this one was one I had heard so much about.  So…I pulled the trigger on it about a week or so before the actual race…and registered.

No backing out now.

I decided this would be the perfect race to bring back my Wonder Woman running outfit.  As I was nicknamed Wonder Woman with my running group ages ago…the outfit always makes me feel confident and strong.  And, let’s face it, it’s the perfect 4th of July outfit.

Cathy and I made arrangements with Melissa and Paul to carpool from the Louisville area down to Lexington together.  My running coach, Linda, had picked up my packet for me (there is NO race day pickup…which I didn’t know until I read an e-mail closer), so I had to meet her around 6:30 AM…meaning…pickup at the apartment was happening at 5 am.

Melissa was cool with this (she was driving)…so plans were set.

I was up before 2 am on the 4th of July to do my PT exercises and stretches…both inside and out.  It was pretty damn humid out.  And there was a reason.  Rain was coming.  But I managed to get all my stuff done before any sort of rain came in.  I think it  might have sprinkled a little while I was inside finishing up the stretching, but it was done by the time Cathy woke up, ate a light breakfast, and we headed down to wait for our ride.

And they arrived right on time.  In the dark of night.  Well…I suppose it was the dark of pre-ass-crack-of-dawn, honestly.  Cathy sat up front with Melissa (as she tends to get carsick at times), and Paul and I sat in the back.  I had it in my head to take my power nap…but we were chatting for the entire ride to Lexington, and that’s fine.  I would much rather have the social time than the nap.

When we arrived in Lexington, it was raining.  MEH.  I was prepared for this and wore my old rain shoes, which I didn’t want to do, but I just had a feeling…that’s what I was going to need that day.  We parked across from Rupp Arena and I messaged Linda to find out where she was so I could meet up with her and get my packet.  She was under the bridges behind Rupp Arena and with a little bit of cell phone-fu…we managed to get directions around the building and park where the rest of her people were parking.  This actually worked in our favor as it made for an easy exit after the race.

Me attempting to not bleed out after Cathy stabbed me in the stomach with a safety pin…LOL!

We didn’t have a lot of time to sit and chat, but I FINALLY got to introduce Linda to Melissa…which Linda has been wanting to have happen for awhile now.  Since April, actually.  SO…YAY!!  Cathy pinned me up and managed to stab me in the stomach with the safety pin.  I like to joke that I was bleeding out after that.  HA!  She also pinned up Melissa and then we helped Melissa with rain shoe choices.  Trust me…this is SUPER IMPORTANT when you’re running in the rain.

Once we were all pinned up, we all (meaning the four of us and Linda’s crew as well) began to make the walk to the start line.  Linda had an idea of where flushing toilets might be along the way…via the convention center.  The door happened to be unlocked, so we moseyed on in.  We had only gotten halfway toward the bathrooms when a security guard came rushing at us in a panic, inquiring as to how we got in.  Linda explained that the door was unlocked and he was all, “Well, it’s not supposed to be!”  She asked if we could at least use the bathrooms, and he said they were locked.  BUT…feeling sorry for our pathetic face falls at that, he did tell us to take the elevator up to the hotel lobby and use the bathroom there.

That’s what we did.

And once we all cycled through the line, we headed out to get to the start line.  The race was getting close to starting.  Like…really close.  We went through the revolving door, where Linda and I did some high knees.  I think I started that.  I’m weird.  I told her that counted as my warmup.

As we were making the hike to the start line, we passed under the finish line.  She had said that she was going to tell me to make a kick to the finish when I saw the start line…but it was still a good ways up the road from the finish.  So she pointed to a drug store and told me that I should kick it in when I saw the drug store instead.  I told her I would try.

As we were nearing the start line, the wheelchair racers were sent off.  YIKES!!  I got a quick good luck hug from Cathy and we all hurried to get a spot at the start.  I slid in sort of close to the front…but not RIGHT up there where I don’t belong.  And no sooner had I gotten in there and got my Garmin turned on and ready for the race…that we were sent off.

No time to stress.  Just run.

And that was the orders that Linda had given me.  Just go out there and run.  Enjoy it.  Have some fun.  The rain had stopped at this point, but the humidity was at 94% at start time.  It was just swampy.  Humid…damp…and that was not a good recipe for a good race.

Not that this was a bad race.  It wasn’t.  I actually had a rather decent race.  Mostly.  You see, I have yet to power through a race this year without needing to stop.  Every race (including the ones in Florida) have been just…HUMID and HOT.  I guess that comes with racing in the late spring/summer.  Which, I really haven’t done for a few years, between training and injuries.  So…I have pretty much died during the races.  And it mentally frustrates me and physically defeats me.


Anyway…back to the race.  At the start, I actually was feeling good.  Even with the cotton Wonder Woman tank on (I had thought about wearing a bra top…and in hindsight, probably should have, but I’m not loving my body at the moment…so…there it is.  Pure honesty).  As I was setting out I even heard Tammy (from my Louisville running group) shout, “Hey, Karen Brady!”  I’m kind of hard to miss in my pigtails and everything.  HA!

My first mile was decent.  It felt hard.  I know there are a few things I need to do to get my running as strong and easy as it used to be…but for some reason, I’m having a difficult time implementing them.  I’m working on it.  But I have some mental blocks that are…holding me back.

Whoa.  That got serious there.  Let’s just say…I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be.  Both are good and bad…depending on how you look at it.

We looped around a few corners before heading into the second mile.  I was already soaked and not from rain.  It was just that steamy out.  And I was in my cotton Wonder Woman tank.  Good planning there (*sarcasm*).  Some of Mile 2 was actually on a downhill, but you quickly find out that from thereon in…it’s a lot of uphill.  That being said, I made a conscious decision to slow down at a water stop in Mile 3 because I wanted to be smart.  I started off this race more dehydrated than I should have been, so I needed water.  I took a quick sip…then poured the rest over my head.  That was just what I needed.  I picked up my pace and headed into the turnaround point.  I made the turn and headed back toward the finish line.

Straight shot.

Just after Mile 4, I came to a walk and took another cup of water from the water stop there.  Once again, I drank a sip of it and then the rest went over my head.  I tossed the cup and started to run again.  I told myself I wasn’t allowed to stop again.  I had just under 2 miles to go…and I could get there without needing to stop.

THIS is the biggest struggle I have had these days.  I just can’t seem to get used to steamy/hot running.  I used to fly in this kind of weather.  But being unable to really train in it for a few years due to injury seems to have changed that.  Um…YAY?

Wow, I look rough as I head into the finish line at the Bluegrass 10,000 – Lexington, Kentucky

So, my 5th mile was pretty fast.  The walk break must have helped with that, so I made up a bit of that time.  That wasn’t the intention, that’s just how it works.  That Jeff Galoway…he was totally onto something.  Run/Walk works…what?!  I was into the last mile now and it started to really feel hard.  I could feel myself just slowing down.  The humidity was wearing me down…and the hills had really taken it out of my legs.  But I could SEE the finish line, so I pressed on, trying to pick it up to kick it into gear.  I still have no finishing kick…but I managed to finish as strong as I could manage.

The humidity is killing me.  I used to be able to run in it like it was nothing.  Turns out, when you have to take 2 summers off from running…you lose that ability.  I felt horrible at the end.  I went to snag some water and ended up running into Tammy, Dean, and Pete (who I used to run with a lot back before the hip things).  We chatted for a moment…about how hot and humid it was.  How none of us had a good race.  That sort of stuff.  I was also told by Dean, with all the Wonder Woman running outfits out that day, that I needed to find a new super hero.  BUT…let’s face it.  I did it first.  HA!  And…come on…I was given the nickname by my running store at the time.

I decide to grab one more cup of water before heading over to the bleachers where Cathy was sitting.  She hadn’t moved because the finish area was pretty compact so they were asking people not to wade that way.  But this meant that I had a good spot to sit while we waited on Melissa and Paul to come racing into the finish line.  Cathy saw Linda come in…I never saw Linda at the finish line.  I saw some superheroes run in…including a few more Wonder Woman impersonators (*EVIL EYES*) and the Power Rangers.  And then it started raining…again.  It was shortly after the Power Rangers passed by that Cathy spotted Melissa and Paul heading in.  We cheered and screamed and waved and made a lot of noise.  Cathy and I hopped off the bleachers and went to go find our friends.

They were easy to find as they were looking for us as well.  With the rain coming down, we decided to head toward the car.  But first…we ducked into Starbucks for coffee (because post-run coffee is the best!).  With coffee in hand we continued back toward Rupp Arena to where we were parked.  When we were about a minute away, Linda texted to say she was at her car and Cathy, who had my phone, replied with that we would literally be there in a minute.

We talked about the weather, humidity, race, and results.  We took photos.  And Linda and crew headed back to Frankfort.  Melissa, Paul, Cathy and I were going to hit up Bella Notte in Lexington for lunch.  But first we hit up Target to change out of our running clothing and grab some water.  Bookstores, food, chocolate, and lots of laughs and SO MUCH FUN later…we eventually needed to head back to Louisville.

It was an imperfect race, but a perfect day.

So, the official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 46:52…once again in humid conditions…once again with walk breaks.  UGH!  But…hey…that’s about 2 minutes off my PR…so I’m getting there.  Slowly.  But getting there.  I was 238/2704 finishers overall.  I was the 42/1321 female finishers.  And I was 5/214 in my age division.  I’ll take that.  I think this might become my tradition on the 4th of July as long as I’m in town.  SO much fun.  And doing it with friends was even better.

“I’ve come to realize that the only people I need in my life are the ones who need me in theirs even when I have nothing else to offer them but myself.”

Throo The Zoo 5K – Louisville, KY (May 13, 2017)

Me crossing the finish line of the Throo the Zoo 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Throo The Zoo 5K

Place: Louisville Zoo, Louisville, Kentucky

Date: May 13, 2017

Time: 22:07*

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I can’t run a 5K this year that is actually a 5K.  This is my second attempt (which is saying something as I despise this distance) at a 5K this year (the first was the Anthem 5K…which was just about this distance as well).  I am not built to be a sprinter.  These legs would rather run long than run all out for a short distance.  BUT…I’m struggling to find my speed again…and races like this are a fantastic way for me to run fast without fretting, worrying, or freaking out.

Let’s face it…my injuries have left me lacking in the self-confidence and the belief that I can do any sort of speed work without getting injured.

This was a fantastic opportunity.  For one thing…I love this 5K because of how much fun it is.  I mean…you run through the Louisville Zoo.  How cool is that.  AND…you honestly do spend a majority of the time inside the zoo now.  It used to be just a duck in and out thing.  This race has definitely come a long way…even if the course continues to be a little short.

So, my friend Richie, had mentioned this race to me a little bit before KDF ran.  And I said I had been eyeing it.  When my other friend (and sister from another mister), Melissa, mentioned she had a team running, I leaped at the opportunity to join in.  The name was clever (See You At The Finish Lions) and it was a fantastic way to be a part of a race with a friend.  So, yeah…I was all about it.  I signed up before the last chance to do so before registration went up…and it was all good to go.

My coach set no goals for me on this race, other than to just do my best and to see what I can do.  I love goals like that.  I don’t feel pressured to push harder or faster, whether or not I am capable of doing so…so I think I tend to run better.  Going into this race with that in mind, I had no nerves, no tears, no panic attack.  It was a nice change of pace (pun not intended, but funny!).

My gluten-free and vegan “sausage” pizza for pre-race fuel

I left work a little early to run home to make pre-race pizza (because, it may be a 5K…but some traditions should just happen!) before heading over to Louisville to pick up my packet at Whole Foods.  Lo and behold, as I’m leaving the office, Melissa texts to see if I wanted her to pick up my bib and shirt.  Saved me a trip, so I told her that it would be awesome.  I was going to go to the grocery store before heading home, but wasn’t feeling it, so onward to the apartment.  It wasn’t too long after that that Melissa stopped by with all my race stuff.  How awesome is that!!  I love this lady because she just naturally thinks of others!!  It made my evening a little less stressful for sure.

I finished up making my Gluten Free Vegan “Sausage” Pizza for dinner (I made the “sausage crumbles” out of chickpeas and amazing spices that made it all taste like sausage), ate it out on the balcony, and then decided to do a small amount of grocery shopping just to save some time.  After arriving home, I put the groceries away, changed into my pajamas and worked on my PT stretches/exercises and foam rolling.  Then, I was off to bed.

It was still relatively early, but I needed the rest.  And, I also had an alarm set for 4 a.m. so I would have time to do my PT stretches/exercises pre-race as well.  When the alarm went off that morning, I shut it off and immediately knew something was off.


Well, I couldn’t turn my head for one thing.  I had slept weird and now turning my head to either side caused a sharp muscle stabbing pain to radiate throughout my shoulders/neck.  This…was not good.  Not at all.  With little to do about it (I don’t medicate before races as it can do serious damage to internal organs and BioFreeze would totally burn the moment I started running and my pores opened up), I went outside and did all the outdoor PT stuff before coming  back up for the indoor stuff.  I managed to get it all done with very few stops to help with the literal pain in my neck.

Me with my coffee at the start line.  Coffee does not make me run faster.

My roommate and I actually loaded up the car to head that way early with a plan.  SO many people go on and on about the wonders of coffee pre-race and how it gives a boost.  We decided to swing by Highland Coffee and give it a try.  So…we did.  I got myself a traditional Cafe Au Lait with their homemade macadamia milk and we went on our way to the zoo.  We had a bit of time after parking, so Cathy and I went to go stand around.  As we reached the curb, I head my name being shouted out of a car.  I turned my head, and it was Richie.  What good timing.  He was on his way to park.  So I decided after drinking some coffee, I should take advantage of the small lines for the port-a-potties.  I hate using port-a-potties, so here was one reason I wasn’t a fan of the coffee pre-race.  When I returned, Richie was joining us.

We talked for a little bit and caught up on everything.  Richie had been dealing with some foot issues, and this was his first race back.  We were both just hoping to run strong and well.  I texted Melissa…but she wasn’t here yet.  With about 20 minutes to go, we decided to move closer to the start line.

It was after I shed my jacket layer (it wasn’t cold, but I tend to always be cold…so I just dress that way).  The weather in the 50s was perfect, honestly.  I tucked it into Cathy’s backpack and, after getting a good luck hug, went to stand in the mob of people at the start line.  Richie was there…and soon, Melissa was joining us too.

For the first time…none of us were sporting the KDF Marathon Ambassador shirt.  We were getting our race style on for sure.  Melissa was waiting on her husband to join us and pointed out that Cathy was getting her picture taken with the sign she carries to my races.  Of course she was.  She always gets her photo taken.  HA!  Melissa’s husband joined us just before the start of the race, which was delayed for a few minutes.  This gave us a chance to get a pre-race photo together.  But then it was time to go.  Melissa and Paul had discussed staying up front, but they hopped out and started at the back of Wave 1, which is where Richie and I were taking off.

Richie, Me, Melissa before we dashed Throo the Zoo!

We both ran down Illinois Avenue, which is just outside the Louisville Zoo, Richie going much faster than I was pushing.  I wanted to go faster, but I also know that 5Ks are still about pacing.  I’m just really bad at doing so.  We make a turn and enter through the back of the zoo.  One hill climb…and then a great downhill.  I passed Richie on the downhill (I love me some downhill action) and pressed on.  This part of the race is great because, as I said, we’re inside the zoo.  We duck out shortly before Mile 1 to zig-zag through the parking lot…but that comes after the first steep hill.  Gorilla Hill.  It’s a beast.  I press up it and am thankful when it levels off.  Exiting the zoo soon after, I follow a few runners into the parking lot area where there is a water stop there.  I blow past it, not needing water, and continue onward.  This is the annoying zig-zag part I mentioned up there.  Definitely a way to get the necessary mileage.  But definitely a pace killer.  I end up neck-and-neck with a younger, female runner and we’re pretty much stride-for-stride with her as we re-enter the park.  I pull ahead for a brief moment and feel really accomplished…

…until she blew right past me.  HA.  Oh well.  I wasn’t even pressed to try to pass her again.  I was comfortably uncomfortable with my slowing pace.  And…yes…I could tell I was slowing down.  Soon after entering the zoo again, another steep hill climb happened.  I did my best to focus on form and just working on pressing up the hill.  I was slowed tremendously by the ascent, but felt strong at the top, and totally enjoyed the downhill as always.  We hit Mile 2 just before rounding a corner and entering the African Outpost area of the zoo, as well as Glacial Run.  Here we could see some of the walkers heading through the other part and it was nice to get some cheers and encouragement along the way.  The zoo employees were also good for that as well.

It was just before we make the last bit of the race before the exit that we double back on the route again.  Just as I’m coming up to the corner, a woman ducks under the flags and starts in toward Mile 3.  I run past her immediately, finding that very dishonest and unfair.  But, at least I was ahead of her.  I hope if she got any sort of award she didn’t accept it.

I make the winding, tiring, final climb out of the Louisville Zoo and head to flatter ground.  My legs are fatigued and I pass that 3 mile marker without my watch buzzing.  It was off at Mile 2, but I was hoping that it would even out in the end.  It didn’t.  I didn’t hit the third mile…AGAIN!  UGH!  That is beyond frustrating, but I cut the Louisville Zoo a lot more slack than I do those in charge of the Anthem 5K.  Just sayin’.  That being said…I really, really want a 5K that is the real distance so I can see my baseline and what I need to do to try to improve.  As I’m about to head into my marathon training, I will be limiting racing out of necessity of not getting injured…so this might be a moot point at this point.

I wandered over to where Cathy was standing just as Richie crossed the line.  I told her that the course was short and that I would be right back.  I went to find Richie and we went to grab some bottles of water.  As more people came in, I went to round off my mileage and finish up Matthew & Dennis’ long run that day in the parking lot of the zoo.  Melissa and Paul came in as I was finishing that up and were ecstatic to hear Cathy screaming for them at the finish line.

We all met up and while Matthew & Dennis went to head to Panara for the breakfast thing with Laura & Mike…Richie, Melissa, Paul, Cathy and I went over to the finish recovery area to wait on awards, raffle prizes, and just simply hang out and talk.  That was a lot of fun, actually, discussing upcoming plans…the KDF Ambassador luncheon later that day, and just our general, overall well-being.  I love my friends!

Second Place Age Division certificate for Throo the Zoo 5K 2017

It turns out, I was 2nd in my age division, so I was called up to receive a certificate.  The last time I ran this race, medals were handed out.  I guess since River City Races no longer is in charge of this one, that changed.  But, it’s cool.  I don’t have a certificate other than finisher’s certificates…so this was something different for sure.  I proudly accepted the honor, as this race is tough to run and has some tough competition!

Afterwards, Cathy and I decided we needed to make our Costco run and ducked out of walking through the zoo…which sucks as I have never actually visited the Louisville Zoo.  But, we would be seeing Melissa and Paul again at lunch at Guy Fieri’s on Fourth Street later that afternoon.

So, the official results of the Throo The Zoo 5K is that I finished the race in 22:07…unfortunately on another short course.  I still would have beaten the time I had for the previous running I did in this race…which was in 2014…so there is that.  It’s something, right? I was   I was okay with this time.  Much slower than last year, but I ran hard just over 12 hours before this one…so…yeah…this was good for me.  I was 45/1493 finishers overall.  I was the 6/932 female finishers.  And I was 2/105 people in my age division!  I’ll take that!  I also learned that coffee did not give me an extra boost during the race…so therefore, I think I’ll leave it for after from now on.

It was a blast returning to this run again…and being able to do it on my dear friend’s team.  I hope I did her proud.  And I hope to attempt to actually get in a 5K on properly measured course before I resolve to focus on training and not racing.  Because that is coming up…fast.

I can’t wait to run this one again.  Challenging and fun.  Who doesn’t want that?

Post-race Ambassador luncheon with: Stephanie, Paul, Leah, Melissa, Me, and Jack at Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse on 4th Street in Louisville, Kentucky

Disney World Dark Side Challenge – Orlando, FL (April 22-23, 2017)

When I registered for the Disney World Dark Side Challenge, I was in great running shape, I wasn’t injured, and I was ready to rock Coast2Coast challenges for runDisney in 2017.  As we all know from my post on the Disneyland Star Wars Rebel Challenge back in January…this almost didn’t come to pass.  My hip flexor began to act up right at the start of the New Year.  No joke.  January 1.  And it never got better.  And with no chance to see my orthopedic doctor before the California trip…I ran through the Light Side 10K and Light Side Half Marathon at Disneyland, basically being held together by Ibuprofen, Tylenol, KT Tape, and ACE Bandages.  No lie.  That’s the honest truth.  And from there, I had to wait another month to even see my ortho and get diagnosed with an extremely strained hip flexor.  Like…it was basically paralyzed.  How is that for determination when it comes through getting through back-to-back races?

Lots of physical therapy, exercises, stretches, lunges, resistance band moves, and sheer determination later, I was finally back on the road.  That was about the start of March.  And I knew I not only had the Disney Dark Side Challenge ahead of me near the end of April, but also the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon (I was originally signed up for the full, but as I lost 2 months of training and then had to baby-step my way back into mileage, I would have been a fool to even attempt the distance) the following weekend, I didn’t have much time to get back to where I would feel comfortable at distance races.  3 miles, 4 miles, 5 miles, 6 miles, 7 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles, and then 8 miles.  That was my build-up to the two half marathons I had lurking on my calendar.  I ran a 5K race…then a 10K race…and had to sit-out two races (they ran the same day and were way above the mileage I was at for that week in my build-up) I was interested in running – Run The Bluegrass Half and the Papa John’s 10 Miler (my favorite race in Louisville).

It stung…but I knew that obeying my physical therapists directions, I would only better myself and not cause further setbacks.

And so…the big weekend arrived.  This was going to be a short trip to Florida, which probably was a good thing in the end.  Disney is expensive, but always worth it.  Always.  Early, early, early morning on Friday, my good friend, Melissa, drove over to the apartment and picked up my roommate and me and dropped us off at the airport.  She was a lifesaver.  This saved us airport parking money…and she said she was free to drive us home when we got back in town…which we did end up taking her up on.

We settled in at the airport as the TSA line wasn’t bad at all…and really we were the only flight going out of there (a brand new offering from Southwest…non-stop morning flight to Orlando…yes, please!)…so we wandered the terminal for a bit before waiting to board.  We did, and I snagged us spots near the front.  Easier and earlier exit upon arrival.  I got out my Kindle and started to read 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, as we took our 2 hour flight to the House of Mouse.  I napped a bit too.  I knew I was going to need it.

We hit the ground running.  We always do.  Baggage claim to car rental to Publix to our resort (our room wasn’t ready yet so we had to check our bags while we hit the expo and park) to the Expo.

Me at the runDisney Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Expo – Orlando, FL

I love the runDisney expo…but this time around, I really, really, really needed to behave myself.  With a tight budget going into this, I made a point to really not look too closely at things.  I had wanted to buy some Pro Compression socks…but never found their booth, so that never happened.  They were there, but I think I rushed myself through and just didn’t look at everything this time around.  I did pick up my packet and got my photo taken for the challenge (they check your bib number and photo when you go to get your challenge medals to make sure YOU actually were the one running).  Then it was off to claim t-shirts and hit up the rest of the expo.  I dove into the event merchandise first.  Because I wanted my pins.  I also picked up a shirt for Melissa’s husband Paul (she gave us money toward it), and a shirt for my running partner, Matthew.  I picked up the pins and my roommate got me a magnet for my car and a t-shirt for after I completed the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge.

We finished up shopping (which meant walking swiftly through the expo so as not to find time to purchase anything), and then headed out to hit up Animal Kingdom.  We were originally going to stash our stuff in a locker, but as we didn’t have much, Cathy just ended up carrying the bag along.  No rides really (she hates roller coasters and riding alone is kinda…meh).  Our first stop was the best coffee ever (it always is the first stop at Animal Kingdom), and then we were off and wandering about until our FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari to kick in.  This involved ducking in and out of shops, grabbing a quick snack (usually I bring snacks with me, but these were in the luggage that were stashed back at the resort), and so-on.  So, we thrashed the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom, explored, shopped, and then ducked over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our traditional first night at Disney meal…at Sanaa!

This was different in that I was actually racing the following day…and normally don’t eat this kind of food the night before a race.  But, hell, I was already going to die in the humidity in my costume…why not go out with a delicious meal the night before, right?  RIGHT!

So, I ended up ordering the gluten-free bread service which had gluten-free naan and about 8 different dipping sauces, which were the Red Chile Sambal, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Garlic Pickle, Spicy Jalapeno-Lime Pickle, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (got 2 of those, actually), and the Tamarind Chutney.  It comes with 9 usually, but I couldn’t have the Cucumber Raita because there is dairy in it.  We devoured the hell out of that, both Cathy and I agreeing that the best dip on there was the Tamarind Chutney, the Mango Chutney, and the Tomato-Date Jam.  It’s not every day I get naan, so this was fun.  And delicious.  And for dinner…I went with one of their Potjie Inspired Samplers which I chose the Chickpea Wat and the Cilantro-Coconut Milk Seasoned Vegetables – served with Basmati Rice.

We ate to a state of complete fullness.  No dessert.  And then, we should have gone back to the resort.  But we didn’t.  We popped over to Disney Springs to check out the big World of Disney Store, get a free sample of Ghirardelli Chocolate, and then head over to Erin McKenna’s Bakery for some Gluten-Free Coffee Cake, a Gluten-Free Cinnamon Roll, and a gluten-free (GINORMOUS) Thin Mint Cookie.  None of which we ate that night, nor did we indulge in the Vegan Soft Serve that night either.  We were full.  We were tired.  And we still needed to get back to Port Orleans Riverside and pick up our bags and officially (and finally) get to our room.

Since I was running first thing in the morning, I simply got out my race outfit, brushed my teeth, and climbed into bed.  I could shower after the race.  Sunscreen be damned.  I was exhausted at this point and had 3 early alarms set to wake up me (twice) and then my roommate.  Because Saturday morning brought us to the…

Star Wars Dark Side 10K

Race: Star Wars Dark Side 10K

Place: Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Date: April 22, 2017

Time: 47:10

I had really wanted to switch up the costumes for Dark Side and actually run them as characters of the Dark Side in Star Wars…but I didn’t have the money (after all the physical therapy and doctor bills that went into the hip) to justify new running costumes.  So…I opted instead to reuse the costumes I ran the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Rebel Challenge in.  This meant I was to be Rey on Saturday for the 10K and then BB-8 on Sunday in the Half Marathon.  I obsessively checked the weather the week leading into the races, and it was showing very warm mornings (high 60s) and very hot afternoons (low 90s).  UGH.  My Rey costume involved long capris and arm warmers.  In Florida heat/humidity, I had a feeling I might fly and die in this race.  The costume always looks great.  AND…it does sort of feel like running in pajamas.  It was perfect for the unseasonably cold races I had in Los Angeles for the Light Side…but now, I was really starting to question my sanity.  I was determined to run in the costume and keep the arm warmers on.  They were sewn to my arm size so they are virtually impossible to tear off and discard.  And to keep myself from trying, I placed my Garmin (very inaccurate HRM readings that race) and my Road ID and Momentum Jewelry on over the arm warmers.  Because I am smart.  Or stupid.  Depends on how you look at it, right?

We had done some prep the night before (it was already late, what was a few more minutes), so I was dressed by the time my third alarm went off to wake up Cathy.  She clamored out of her bed to get ready while I got a banana ready and we pinned me up with my Dark Side Challenge bib and headed out the door.  We stepped down the sairs and walked to the sidewalk that would take us to the bridge that would lead us to the bus that would take us to the start…and the first thing we noticed was how quiet it was.  Normally, the resorts are hopping with runners heading toward the shuttle buses, but this morning, there was not another runner in sight.  And as we made our way to the bus stop, a half-empty bus pulled away.  Cathy questioned the helpful employee manning the bus depot whether we were late, and he said that the buses started at 3:30 and that he was simply sending that bus around to the other stops before having it come back.  Another runner showed up shortly after that.  We felt a little better about life, but still freaked out.  Nothing like a big ball of stress in the morning to make your race day awesome, right?


Cathy with her Star Wars Dark Side 10K sign

Anyway, we arrived at the staging area, where I got to go through the NO BAGS line and Cathy had her new Captain America messenger bag searched.  We met up after that and continued on to see what exciting stuff was going on at the base camp near the start line.  We were actually a little late getting there, so there was a lot going on.  But Cathy and I made our way over to the start line area to take a few pictures.  I stood there and talked to her for a little bit of time before I had to head to my corral.  She finally made me go…which was good because as I got up to Corral A, I started to eat my banana and heard the volunteer shout, “Corral A will close in 5 minutes!”  So, I ducked inside and walked with the group up to the official start line.

The start line is usually a lot of fun at Disney races.  They tend to theme them to the specific race.  LOTS of Star Wars guests on stage at this one, but I have to say that the entertainment and banter at the Light Side races was WAY better than here.  I didn’t really notice much of it.  I was so exhausted that I was starting to fall asleep, standing up in the corral.  But soon, the National Anthem was sung and the wheelchairs were sent off to start us out.  And then…it was Corral A’s turn.  The countdown…the fireworks…and GO!

The Disney World Dark Side 10K starts in a parking lot and sends you out onto the highway for the first 3 miles.  It is, thankfully, still dark at this point, so it isn’t boring.  We just make our way down a long stretch of road, with a few character stops and movie clips and music to entertain the runners along the way.  Just after Mile 3, you enter the first park – the relatively flat Hollywood Studios.  This is a fun jaunt through the park, passing the Tower of Terror and and other rides before turning onto the main drag for a moment, and the exiting the park.  You run around the main entrance and head down to the bus depots, bypassing them to hit the Boardwalk.

I am practically dying here, as is relevant in my Garmin splits.  Miles 4 & 5 were my slowest, each at 7:27 and 7:36, respectively.  The course is really flat, which makes it fast for me.  I love a good, flat course.  And the Boardwalk entrance also gave me my favorite music on the course – a dance-techno version of the Imperial March.  I want this version.  Like now.  It was a nice distraction to focus on as I ran the walkway toward the actual boardwalk near the Disney Beach Club Resort.  There were a few Disney Cast Members out there to cheer us on, which I love…every time I run along here.  It’s nice to have support near the end of a run, even if it’s just a few voices and claps along the way.  As we exited the Boardwalk…we were off to the Epcot World Showcase.  We run up a nice incline and as we hit the top, another Cast Member says, “Welcome to the Stage!”  This is the last mile of the race, and it goes by fast.  For the 10K, you don’t run the entire World Showcase.  You just duck inside and run part of it, before exiting and making our way toward Spaceship Earth (aka: the giant Epcot ball).  You make the turn out of the park and head around toward that finish line.  You hear the announcer.  You hear the crowd.

Star Wars Dark Side 10K

And somewhere, despite being overheated in my costume and dealing with the heat/humidity that morning…I found a little pit of a kick (not much) to bounce into the finish.  I spotted Cathy in the stands soon after crossing, holding the Cookie Monster sign she made that said, “Me Promised Cookies by Dark Side”.  BEST. SIGN. EVER.  She snapped my picture and I went on to pick up my 10K medal, snack box, and water, and exit through bag check to find her waiting on me.

Lines weren’t currently long, so we went and made sure to get a few photos that day…with BB-8, Kylo-Ren, Phasma, and Jabba.  It was awesome.  She also relayed my final time to me…which I thought matched the 10K time I ran at the Light Side (while injured), but I was wrong.  It was pretty close to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon I ran in November.  Actually this was faster.  I must have been humidity stupid.  I stopped being so disappointed in it after looking up my Light Side time and realizing I ran that one 3 minutes slower than this.

So my official results of the Disney World Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon are that I finished in 47:10.  Which wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.  My coach had put it out there to attempt a goal time of 42 minutes, which is actually 2 minutes and change faster than I have ever run that distance, and I came nowhere near meeting that.  That’s a 6-something minute mile overall, and I’ve never been able to sustain that pace.  I might one day…but I’m getting older…I might not.  I was 160/10,895 finishers overall.  I was the 19/5888 female to cross the finish line.  And I was 4/1008 runners in my age division. I ALMOST got an age group award at a Disney race, which has been a goal of mine for awhile, but normally just come short of it.  Like this.  But, super happy with these results.  I ran strong, even in a hot costume on a warm morning…and I felt good afterwards.  I call that a win!

Gluten Free Beignets from Port Orleans French Quarter….AMAZING!

After returning to the resort to shower, I dressed in my BB-8 dress and headed to Port Orleans French Quarter to split an order of Gluten Free Beignets with Cathy before heading to Hollywood Studios.  That was where we intended to spend the rest of the day…because…

You can now meet BB-8!!  Meet and greet BB-8.  HOW COOL!!  I was more than a little happy to meet my favorite little droid.  And he approved of my dress.  AND…I met Chewbacca as well.  I might have been geeking out more than a little.  Star Wars Land is really going to be amazing when it’s completely done and open to the public.  We spent the day riding Star Tours, shopping, and checking out the sites.

Dinner that night…had to be at Mama Melrose’s Italian Ristorante Italiano.  Best part was…the re-introduced the gluten-free flatbreads.  So I got the Gluten Free Mushroom Flatbread…which is their gluten-free flatbread with Roasted Cremini and Button Mushrooms with a Roasted Vidalia Onion Spread finished with Balsamic Reduction and fresh Herbs.  It normally had cheese on it, but they were able to make mine without.  So, it was kind of like having a pizza…which I prefer before a big race.  Pasta works in a pinch, but gluten-free pizza is magic.

No dessert there…we learned our lesson about staying up late…so we headed back to the resort and split the Thin Mint Cookie (HUGE)  for dessert.

Cathy went to shower while I foam rolled and then…lights out.  Another early morning awaited…

Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Race: Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Place: Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Date: August 23, 2017

Time: 1:43:34

My runDisney race protocol is this…Alarm 1: 1 am; Alarm 2: 2 am.  Alarm 3 (aka: Cathy’s Alarm): 3 am.  We shifted this just slightly…hence the early bedtime.  We learn from our previous mistakes.  We’re not even runDisney rookies…we just overestimated what kind of time we might have on our first day at Disney World.

I ate a small helping of cereal (no milk…just dry) and got my running outfit on and my epic race hair ponytails in.  I actually felt a bit more alert on half marathon morning, and we were running on target to get out the door and to the shuttle bus to the race start earlier than the previous morning.  After a quick brush of my teeth, Cathy handed me my fuel belt and I grabbed my light hoodie so I wouldn’t freeze on the shuttle bus…and we were out the door.

There was A LOT more going on this morning.  Runners were going across the bridge and toward the shuttle bus.  We weren’t alone today.  And that was a very good thing.  The bus that was waiting was sent on…but another one quickly followed.  And it didn’t even fill up all the way.  I was glad to have the hoodie because I often get chilled when I’m just in a bra top…even if it is warm outside.  And…honestly…sometimes those buses are FREEZING inside.

I also wasn’t loving the way the BB-8 costume was fitting.  I’m having bad body image issues at the moment, due to all the setbacks with my body and how it has prevented me from keeping up my light, lithe runners body.  I’ll get it back…it’s just taking more time than I’d like.

BB-8 needed a Power Nap before the half marathon!

The short drive to the start included a dance party a la Cathy while Hammer Time and Happy played over the radio.  We were dropped off and sent through the NO BAG and BAG CHECK lines.  Runner belts are not considered bags, so I had it easy.  But Cathy was through the line in no time.  We went over to check out the start, but we were really early this morning, so Cathy settled in on the ground and I laid down and took one of my infamous pre-race power naps.

I don’t know what it is, but these naps are magical.  I don’t doze for long, but I feel so much more relaxed and ready, even when I’m not.  The race was Yellow Flagged at the start, meaning we were to back off on speed and not really aim for a PR…although that usually means nothing to most runners.  When I woke up, I had to grab my banana and head into the corral area.  This was way more chaotic than on 10K morning, and it took me about 8 or so minutes to get from the entrance all the way up to Corral A.  I got there with enough time to walk toward the start line with the group, and then attempt to wriggle my way closer to the actual start.

The entertainment was much the same…fun but not as much fun as Disneyland.  They showed the new trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie.  They showed clips of other Star Wars movies.  They asked people what their favorite Star Wars episode was.  Most said The Empire Strikes Back…but one lady said, Rogue One.  While Rogue One was a fantastic movie, we all knew going into it that it wasn’t going to end well.  Ah, well…to each their own.

Fireworks mean GO TIME!

The National Anthem was up next…followed by the start of the wheelchair racers.  Fireworks.  The go-sign.  And then Corral A…my corral…was off about 3 minutes after them.  Cathy finally managed to catch the magical Disney fireworks which they fire off before the start of every corral.  So everyone gets to feel special!  I love that.

As with most Disney races, a good portion of the race is spent on the highways.  But we do get to duck inside three of the parks this time.  So, for the first mile, I was already feeling the affects of the 72 degree start temperature and the humidity.  I was coated with sweat and was pretty certain I knew exactly how this would affect me later in the week.  Nevertheless, I pressed on, turning out onto Floridian Way and then onto Bear Island Road.  The runners spend about 4 miles out on the highway, working their way to the first park…and my personal favorite to run through – Animal Kingdom!

We are inside Animal Kingdom, and running up and down the small hills.  The cast members there are always very supportive and encouraging.  I was feeling pretty good the entire time inside Animal Kingdom, taking the humidity with stride.  It felt amazing to  run past the Tree of Life and past some of the attractions inside the park as well.  After exiting Animal Kingdom, though, I was really starting to feel the heat and humidity catching up to me.  I slowed down to walk the water stop at Mile 6 and pour water over my head.  The reinvigorated me and I pressed on, picking the pace back up as I started out onto Osceola Parkway, heading toward Hollywood Studios.  I stopped again at Mile 8 to once again take in some water and pour the rest over my head, walking through as I did it, and then immediately start running again.

We made the turn on World Drive and then up onto Bueno Vista Drive as we headed into Hollywood Studios.  I stopped here, about Mile 10 to grab another cup of water to pour over my head.  I walked the hill as I did so and then tossed the cup and took off again.  I wasn’t sure if I was helping but I sure felt better with cold water dousing me.  Sort of like a second wind.  I told myself to press on through the final 3 without stopping if possible.  Hollywood Studios was, once again, another quick in and out, taking us back down to the Boardwalk.  Once again, that dance-techno version of the Imperial March helped lift my spirits and my pace and I moved through Mile 11 to the Boardwalk.  The sun was now up and the Boardwalk had people from the Beach Club Resort out on it to cheer the runners on.  That was awesome.  I even got a lot of BB-8 shout-outs.  We started toward Mile 12, and I had to make one last stop to refresh my overheated body with another cup of water over the head.  I was starting to feel really puny.  But I kept going.  This was the hardest part of the race.  My body is tired and overheated and I am now running up to the World Showcase.  This time, however, runners actually circle the entire Showcase before getting let out to run toward Spaceship Earth.  This is actually a lot of fun, until you glance across the lake and realize how much further you have to go.  Then you sort of lose sight of it…and suddenly, you’re making that turn.  Chewbacca was stationed there for a photo op, but I was so close now and just ready to be done and have a big bottle of water.  I rounded a corner to come into one of the two final turns.  Normally, a gospel choir is stationed here to sing you in toward the finish.  This time, there were characters from Star Wars.  I took the turn, high-fived a storm trooper, and made the final push in to the finish line.  I glanced up as I was about to cross, shocked to see a 1:43 time.  I thought the walking I had to do slowed me down way more than that.  I knew the humidity had…but there it was…

I threw my hands up over my head as I crossed the finish…and even that felt like I had weights on them.  But, it’s just something that I do.  And just like that…I was done!

My 25th Half Marathon…DONE!  This is a really unflattering mid-secion photo!

Cathy shouted at me from the stands and I waived at her before she snapped a picture of me just after the finish.  I was smiling.  My time was better than anticipated…and I don’t know how I even managed to pull that off.  Especially with 4 breaks to walk.  I guess I recovered from them efficiently, because my pace for the entire half only dropped below an 8 minute mile once…at 8:01…and that was as I entered the Boardwalk.  So…that was a pleasant surprise…because I was feeling like a bit of an unathletic, unfit runner.

My spirits felt lifted…and while I still hated that I had to walk some of it, I was beyond happy with the results.  That was a hot, humid, and tough race.  And I finished it way faster than I thought I would.  I’ll take it.

I now had to file myself trough the lines to retrieve my Dark Side Half Marathon medal.  After that…it was into another tent to have my number checked to show that I was to collect a Dark Side Challenge medal.  That was okayed, and then I was sent over to a table, where they pulled up my bib number, checked the photo that was taken of me at the expo with my bib, and then sent me through to collect ALL THE MEDALS.  And by ALL THE MEDALS, I really mean it.  In addition to the Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Medal, I was given my Disney World Dark Side Challenge Medal (for doing the 10K & Half Marathon); my Kessel Run Challenge Medal (for doing the Disneyland Star Wars Rebel Challenge and the Disney World Dark Side Challenge); and my Coast to Coast Medal (running a half marathon at Disneyland and a half marathon at Disney World).  So, after getting those put over my head, I got a cold, wet towel, my snack box, my water, and a banana…and went to get my photo taken before heading out of bag check to meet Cathy.  I wiped down my face with the towel and posed for some pictures with all four of the five medals I earned that weekend.  She said that the lines for the characters we missed yesterday (Darth Vador and Boba Fett).  On the way there, they had these misters going and I had to go stand in them and try to cool off more.

Photos were taken with the characters and we made our way over to the bus to take us back to our resort.  As we were walking back to our room, the sprinklers came on and I quickly ducked over to stand under them.  I was not cooling off.  A shower and some food helped with that.  We split the Gluten Free & Vegan Cinnamon Roll and Coffee Cake we had gotten at Disney Springs on Friday night as a breakfast.  Then, we were set to head over to Epcot that day to enjoy the rest of the day.  The Flower & Garden Show was going on, which we didn’t realize had food booths.  So, Cathy’s lunch plan went out the window and she tried a few tasty eats on the World Showcase.  We also had to stop at our Starbucks first thing for some coffee.  As we were heading out, we saw the last racer, a limping, injured girl in a R2-D2 top and a tutu…shambling toward the finish with the shame wagon behind her.  She stopped…took a cautious step…turned around…and then asked for a ride to the finish.  She just had about another .3 miles to go.  And, honestly, I wanted to duck under the ropes and help get her there.  It broke my heart.  She was so close.

Sadness, Cathy, Me, Joy

Our one requirement that day was to finally meet Joy & Sadness from Inside Out.  THIS…was one of the best character meet & greets I have been to.  They were so interactive and didn’t feel like you needed to rush off.  Cathy and Sadness bonded as they were both wearing glasses and blue…and Cathy asked Joy if she couldn’t jump since everyone jumped for Joy.  She showed that she was, clearly, able to jump.  It was amazing.

We enjoyed our day at Epcot…but we had plans for dinner at Morimoto at Disney Springs.  I enjoyed a meal of Edamame and then Vegetable Sushi.  Cathy got the Pork Buns and the Shrimp Roll.  And it was delicious.  We decided to head over to Erin McKenna’s for dessert to give the Vegan Soft Serve a try.  It was a little gritty, but cool and delicious.  I needed that.  we both got the Chocolate/Vanilla swirl.  Cathy got hers in a cone.  I got mine in a cup.  I also got the Fairy Dust put on top of mine.

Erin McKenna’s Gluten Free & Vegan Cinnamon & Coffee Cake; Macaron Chocolat Framboise; Morimoto Edamame; Morimoto Vegetable Roll; Erin McKenna’s Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Soft Serve w/ Fairy Dust

And then…instead of going back to Epcot…we called it a day.  We waved the white flag and headed back to Port Orleans Riverside to rest up and get some sleep.  A character breakfast was first in the morning on Monday and this meant we could get a few extra hours of sleep.

The official race results of the Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:43:34.  I seriously, can’t figure out how I pulled off that time with the walk breaks.  I was 265/16311 finishers overall.  I was 38/8800 women to cross the finish line.  And, I was 7/1496 in my age division.  Totally shocked, humbled, and love that I managed to do this.  The walk breaks killed me…I hate that I had to take them, but I have learned to run smart.  I would have been worse off if I hadn’t.

I’m already hoping to run Disney again soon.  Thank you, Dark Side, for the memories!

My medals from the Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Weekend: Coast to Coast; Kessel Run, Dark Side Challenge, Dark Side Half Marathon, Dark Side 10K



Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN (September 17, 2016)

Me heading into the finishing line of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon (completely soaked) – Indianapolis, IN

Race: Indy Women’s Half Marathon

Place: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: September 17, 2016

Time: 1:47:02

Okay…I admit it…running a half marathon only 2 weeks after dying in a brutal (both with hills (aka: mountains), heat and humidity) in Hawaii…and on the week you are back from a 10 day vacation where you crossed ALL THE TIME ZONES at some point…well…it definitely wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve made.

But…you know…this one was for me.  Last year, my 35th birthday (you know…when you move up an age division) fell on a Saturday and there were so many races running that day…but I was in a boot…and not running.  So this year, I felt like I needed something for me.  Something that I could do to celebrate.  And I knew when I signed up for it that it wouldn’t be a PR due to the marathon I was running 2 weeks prior…but I still wanted to do this one.

So, at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon…I signed up (and got a free wineglass for doing so!)…and…Cathy was kind enough to kick in the additional $25 for the VIP status for the race.  So…there was that.

I was seriously hurting after the full marathon in Hawaii.  The hip and the foot were both problems, and despite taking a whole week off before even starting up any sort of activity…my body was not feeling the love.  Since I had this half marathon, though, I did go out for a couple of slow, steady, easy, shorter runs in the early mornings this past week.  Nothing over 6 miles…and it was a slow build and then a cut back.  And I said…that would work.  Half marathon…here we come!

And so, Friday rolled around.  And after a highly stressful day at the office where I was just all over the place trying to get stuff done, only to have my baskets overflowing every time I started to clear them out…I was trying to stay calm and relaxed.  But it wasn’t happening.  My roomie and I cleared it with the boss to leave early, so when 3 p.m. rolled around, we were heading out the door to make the 2 hour drive up to Indianapolis.  And, thankfully, the traffic gods were with us.  Not too many slowdowns, so, that was nice.  That takes a bit of the stress off.

We were staying at the host hotel, The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre, so it was a matter of getting to the door for valet parking (stress-free parking, yep, we’ll pay for that!) and getting checked in.  This would normally be a super-easy task, except…some jackass pulled in sideways ahead of us, blocking the lane and any parking area behind him, and sent his wife in to check in while he piddled around with luggage and ordered the valet around a bit…and then said he was going to self-park not valet…and then decided (I guess) that his wife couldn’t check-in without his help so he LEFT HIS CAR like that and totally jacked up that lane of traffic and any incoming traffic (it was the host hotel, there was a ton of incoming traffic to the hotel).  He didn’t care.  And then…he took his time getting back to his car and in his car to go and pull out of that spot so we could pull up and in and let the flow of traffic start again.  BOO!!  People suck.

Anyway, we were actually quick to park and grab our bags and get the valet ticket.  I headed inside to get checked in.  Which, didn’t take too long at all.  The people in front of me simply had questions. I loved that the Sheraton front desk people were sporting the bright, fluorescent pink Indy Women’s Half Marathon & 5K t-shirts.  I think all host hotels should do this.  It really gets you excited.

The view from my room at The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre

The expo was just downstairs, but I needed to drop my bags first.  So, up to room 1425 we went…got inside, dropped our stuff…and had to check the view.  For the first time in FOREVER…room with a freakin’ view.  LOVED it.  Beautiful. Especially with the daylight sort of…easing out.  So, that was good.

So, now it was expo time.  YAY expo.  The expo for the Indy Women’s Half Marathon is bigger than it used to be, but still a small event.  I went to get my packet and t-shirt first.  That part was easy.  I had been e-mailed my bib number (1398) earlier that week…so I went up to the table and gave the nice lady (with a nice accent) my number and…boom…easy.  Fantastic race bag with gorgeous race shirt handed over to me.  And now…time to explore.

Back of the official merchandise t-shirt…my name is on there twice. HA!  Twinning with myself.  If only they had this in my size (or close to my size)…

Like I said, there wasn’t too much going on here, but I got a foot massage ball and ended up purchasing a foam roller (which I am now keeping in the car, because I forget to bring mine all the time).  So that happened for $25…but definitely worth it in the end.  I stopped by the BondiBand table (of course…since I am a #BondiBandAmbassador) and purchased one…yes…just one…new band.  I didn’t wear it during the race though.  I did wear a BondiBand, but you couldn’t tell which one…because…it was going to rain…and I had a visor to wear.  As we were leaving, we spotted the official merchandise, but nothing was still there in the smaller sizes and an XL would swim on me…but I did find my name (twice!) on the back of the shirt.  So…that was awesome.  If the shirt had been any smaller, I might have bought it.  But…no bueno.  After that, we trekked back up to the room to drop stuff off, adjusted the dinner reservations to an early time slot and headed down toward the Monument Circle to walk over to the restaurant.

I had found Napolese, an Artisan Pizzeria in downtown Indianapolis, via Find Me Gluten Free.  They had gluten free foccacia bread and gluten free pizzas.  And, as I can’t do dairy, they have a “freestyle” option, where you can select 3 toppings…so that is what we did.  Our waiter, was amazing.  He realized that the foccacia bread came with goat cheese on it, and had the chef’s remake it without the cheese so I could have it. And the pizza…wow.  It was a standard cracker crust, but that oven…that oven crisped up the crust so that you could hold it up (and mine was topped with marinara, mushrooms, summer squash, and roasted peppers)…and it wasn’t soggy or falling apart.  So, total WIN!  Dinner was devoured (not all the foccacia…Cathy took that to have as breakfast)…and we strolled over to Rocket Fizz for some gluten-free candy as a dessert. I was craving sorbet, but there wasn’t anything close enough that was both dairy-free and gluten-free…so…dark chocolate it was.  After that…we strolled through the Oktoberfest celebrations on Monument Circle…got back to the room…and relaxed by watching Big Bang Theory before turning in just after 9:30 p.m.  One last check of the weather…rain. All the rain.  Possible thunderstorms.  I tell you…the Indy Women’s Half Marathon just can’t catch a break on the weather.

Woke up at 4:00 a.m. to start my pre-race rituals.  I climbed back into bed for another 45 minutes before alarm #2 went off.  This was my “GET UP” alarm…so, I shut it off, climbed out of bed…for the second time…but this time to stay…and went over to the window.  It had stormed earlier in the morning, but it wasn’t currently raining.  It was wet out there though.  Very wet.  I staggered in the dark to the bathroom to get changed into my race gear and put some sunscreen on (guaranteeing that it would rain, HA!)  I put my hair up in my signature pigtails, then went out to the room and, in the dark, did all my PT stretches.  I have been trying to be good about working these in.  If it hadn’t been raining prior to the race, all the dynamic warmup stuff would have happened too…but…eh…I wasn’t going to get wet if I didn’t have to.  Once 6:00 a.m. rolled around, I turned on the light and flopped on the bed with my gluten-free cereal and made Cathy get up from her bed and start getting ready.  She went to retrieve the foccacia, which needed to be reheated as it just got hard overnight…but…eh…she made it work.  As she was getting ready, I was busy checking weather on the news and on my phone.  Rain was coming.  Rain was definitely coming.  Possible thunderstorms.  But the Facebook page for the Indy Women’s said it was still a-go…so…I got her to pin me up…I threw on my visor…put my sunglasses on my visor (in case)…also guaranteeing we’d get poured on…and filled up my fuel belt with my Hammer Nutrition and some Essentia Water.  Then, we were out the door and heading down to the lobby to stand around until we had to start the race.  It was time for me to eat my pre-race banana…it was a little under-ripe still, but I ate it.  So, as I watched people dart in from the light sprinkle from being dropped off…and then we meandered down toward the Starbucks, as the other set of doors were down there.  Start line…BOOM…right outside.  I love staying at the host hotel.  The rain had tapered off at this point…so Cathy and I ventured out.  We took a picture of me in front of the starting line and as we were walking away, we were asked by two ladies who were doing the 5K if we had any extra safety pins.  Cathy travels with a case of safety pins…so we hooked them up.  Cathy even pinned one of them up.  Good deed of the morning…done.

Goofiness in front of the start line at the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

It was nearing start time, so I shed the jacket I had thrown on in case there was rain before the start and handed it off to Cathy.  Then, after she told me to have fun (this race was all a finish line not a finish time!) and went to get a spot for the start of the race, I wandered around the circle looking for my friend Katie…but never found her.  They were telling people to get into the start corrals, so I lined up between the 1:50 and 2:00 pacers…because I figured I could at least pull that off with the hip…the foot…the marathon fatigue…and travel fatigue…at least…I hoped.  They had someone come out to sing the National Anthem…and all the runners started turning circles looking for a flag.  We finally found one on a building.  But it was like…everyone all at once started to turn circles.  It brought about a good laugh from the participants.

Me running toward Mile 1 in the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

At 7:30 am…SHARP…they sent off the wheelchair racers.  This was the first year that the Indy Women’s Half Marathon had a wheelchair division.  These racers are inspiring.  Seriously.  They always amaze me.  A moment or so later…the corrals were moved up and we helped count down from 10 to start the race.  And…we were off!  So, for the first 2+ miles, the 5K runners were with us.  Cathy came down and saw me just before Mile 1 ticked off, which was awesome.  The first 2 miles had us rounding parts of downtown, running a bit of Monument Circle…heading out into the city and turning onto a road.  Before the turn…about Mile 2…I saw the leader of the 5K coming the other way…and she had no one behind her. In fact, Cathy said she finished a good 2 minutes before the second finisher came in.  FAST!  So…there was a sign that had the 5K runners turn right down a road while the half marathon runners continued on.  There was a light, misting rain at this point…but that was going to be short lived.

Miles 3-5 were a bit uneventful.  There wasn’t anyone out to cheer, save for the volunteers and this random guy who had a wife/girlfriend/friends running so he was there around Mile 4-ish and was sending out some encouragement.  So, that was nice.  As I neared Mile 6, I saw the leader of the half marathon coming the other way.  And as soon as she passed…the skies opened up.  HELLO RAIN!!  It was a freakin’ downpour.  I mean…deluge.  Seriously…hard rain.  Just hard rain.  I was nearing the halfway point here and I knew my friend Julia was working that water stop.  We did get a brief break from the rain (but not the horrible roads) as we ran under an overpass.  Back out into the rain and I was prepared to make the turn.  Right on the other side of the hairpin turn was the water stop.  I immediately spotted Julia and gave her a wave and a shout-out.  She did the same to me.

Now…running in the rain is not only badass, but quite fun.  BUT…that being said…I am so overly cautious when I run in the rain.  I slow down my pace, because road surfaces are now wet and slick.  And that’s exactly what happened here.  I bitch a lot about running in the rain because it ruins your shoes.  I mean…kills shoes.  And I had just got these shoes.  UGH.  And there was no avoiding the standing water and puddle-filled pot holes and cracks in the Indianapolis pavement.  So, the shoes were soaked…sometimes I was plodding through some deceivingly deep standing water…and doing my best to not aggravate an already unhappy hip (the hip HATES weather) and twingy foot (which my podiatrist thankfully taped for me 2 days before the race…but the amount of water I was running through meant…it was coming off!).  As I said, I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast race for me…so I just took it one step at a time…one mile at a time.  Just after Mile 7, we branched off onto a sidewalk thingy to run down White River Parkway…and at some point in this we actually had to hop down off the sidewalk and back down onto the road…but…you do what you gotta do.  This is where we continued the lull in any support.  I think the rain kept people in…but not sure how much support would have been out there even without the rain.  The rain lightened up at one point, but not for long…it was back with a vengeance.

Just before Mile 11, there was a water stop…and some of the quietest volunteers I had ever seen.  At this point, with no crowd support through a bulk of this race, some uplifting cheers and excitement was needed.  But, I guess they weren’t ecstatic about standing out in the pouring rain.  Because they didn’t even shout about the water or Gatorade…just sort of…mentioned it as you neared them.  One guy might have said…”Good job.”  But…let’s get loud, people!

After that, we made the turn onto Michigan Road, which is familiar from the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon…and Mile 12 ticked off.  Rain…so much rain…my shoes were heavy and soaked through…my pigtails were pretty much plastered to my neck.  And as I headed into the last mile…the rain started to lighten up again.  Nice.  I passed a couple of people on the way to the finish…not really able to pick up the pace.  This hip…this damn freakin’ (I would use another word…but…I’m being polite) hip wasn’t loving the damp weather at all.  Thank God it wasn’t also cold.  Soon, the crowd ahead near the finish could be heard and that’s where I got excited again.  Time to bring it in!!  So, I smiled…pushed as much as I could…passed Cathy and a stranger shouting my name…HA!…and crossed the finish line.  So happy to be done.  The rain was no longer pouring…but more of a drizzle.  I received my medal, some water, a bag of snacks and stuff, and a rose.  At the end of the chute, Cathy came down to give me a wet hug and congratulate me.  We were both soaked.  Kudos to the people who waited at the finish line for their friends and family to finish.

Finisher Photo at the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

We made our way over to the backdrop to take an official finish photo (no photographer was stationed there)…and then went into the recovery area.  As I was a VIP…I thought I would skip the massage table and head into the area.  Signs about how to get inside were confusing, but we finally figured it out.  Family was not allowed into the VIP area, but could be in the beer garden.  I stepped inside…hoping for amazing things…and realized that this was SO NOT worth the extra $25.  The fruit they had out was oranges and apples (whereas in years before it was melon, berries, and the like).  They had flavored sparkling water in cans.  And then donuts (which I couldn’t eat)…as well as beer and mimosas (not ready to drink that close to a race finish).  So, I grabbed a can of the sparkling water and an orange…and that was that.  No separate massage area…nothing really worth that extra $25.  I was really, really disappointed.  I thought there would be more to it.  And, maybe if the weather had been better…it might have been…but I felt cheated out of money for what was there.  So…I highly recommend skipping the VIP upgrade…unless they really ramp it up and make it worth your while next time.

Heading into the very underwhelming VIP section of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

Anyway…this was my 21st Half Marathon…and my official birthday race (2 days early)…so I was happy to be able to do it.  I enjoyed the rain…but not the wet pavement.  And I just took my time and ran my own race, listening to my body as it is still in recovery mode.

So, my official results of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:47:02, which is a slower half marathon for me, but I am proud of finishing with that time.  I have put my body through a lot in recent weeks, and this was a good run to just go and do and focus on a finish line, not a finish time.  This race also ran long, my Garmin having it at 13. 23 miles…but I’d rather have a course run long than short, honestly.  In fact, around Mile 4, a lot of the runners I was with commented that the mile markers were a bit off.  Not sure if the markers were off or that no one was running the tangents as we were all not wanting to go into deep puddles on the side of the road.  The world may never know.  Anyway…I was 44/946 finishers overall.  And I was 10/175 people in the 35-39 division!  Not too shabby.  I’ll take it!!

Honestly, it felt so good to climb into a hot shower afterwards…and I had to wring the hell out of my running shorts and BondiBand.  Craziness.  Cathy brought me up some coffee from Starbucks, which I drank while organizing some items to pack up and also checking my phone for updates on the Air Force Marathon (which was delayed due to weather)…as my running partner, Matt, was doing that one.  After I changed, we packed up our stuff, checked out of the hotel…and went to get a crazy-good gluten-free and vegan (in my case) lunch at Hops & Fire in Greenwood.  Then round #2 of coffee at Strange Brew (a required stop when I’m in the Indianapolis area).  I even picked up some local gluten-free granola that they had on sale there.  YAY!

Every woman receives a finisher’s medal and a rose at the finish line of the Indy Women’s Half Marathon – Indianapolis, IN

I believe, with the exception of the first year that the Indy Women’s Half Marathon & 5K ran (I did the 5K that year)…the weather for this race has been horrible.  Every. Single. Time.  At least this year the race went off…despite the torrential rainfalls.  So, we were already ahead of last year.  The year I did the half marathon in this race for the first time…a hurricane was rolling in and humidity was at 90%…so the entire race was like breathing through a wet towel…and no one felt good at the end.  So…I hope a few years of perfect weather are headed this way.  I love this race.  There is something so amazing about a race that only women are doing.  We all lift each other up.  There were so many runners who would shout out support to the others…it was awesome.  So, I do recommend this race…just pray for good weather.  And maybe…just maybe…Indianapolis will repave some of those roads.  Wow.  Horrible roads.

All that being said, I intend to come back to this one again.  Maybe with a body that loves me more and weather that is a little less…wet.  We shall see.  Ladies…keep this one on your radar for sure!  We are all badass, rockstar runners at this one.