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

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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!).

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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.

What?

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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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…

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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?

*sigh*

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

It’s The Little Things

Yesterday afternoon, I returned home from work to find a package, delivered via UPS, sitting on my doorstep. It was from Louisville Stoneware.  I hadn’t ordered anything and my roomie hadn’t ordered anything for me either.  On the box, in black Sharpie, were the words Top 100 Female.

So, I hauled the box inside and opened it up.  There was a roll of padding and packing material, which took me a moment or two to completely unroll and discover…a gorgeous tumbler made by Louisville Stoneware with the Kentucky Derby Festival logo on it (as well as the key sponsors of the race) and…on the reverse side…the words FEMALE DIVISION TOP 100.

When I ran the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon on April 30, I finished in the top 100 females.  In fact, I was 95.  WOOT WOOT!!  And, apparently, this year they sent out these little mementos…little awards…to those that hit that mark.  I am truly honored!

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Considering how hit-and-miss my running has been with the return of the cold weather…and with how crappy the weather was on race day…this was a very nice, and uplifting, surprise!

And now…random thoughts I’ve had on my runs this week…

  • God bless the people who leave their porch lights on all night. It gives the morning warriors like me a little more light in a dark world usually lit by blinkie lights, head lamps, and maybe a street light or two.
  • WHY IS IT RAINING?!
  • Should I build an ark?
  • Wearing a windbreaker was a big mistake.  I am sweltering.  I am dying!
  • I. HATE. LAYERS.
  • I don’t think I’ll ever hit negative splits again…*sigh*
  • Rain?! Again?!  Seriously?!
  • (*while running past a Starbucks*) I am awake and going before the Starbucks baristas.  But if the cafe was open this early, I would learn to run and chug coffee.
  • ONE…MORE…MILE…(*tries to run faster…fails*)
  • Dammit…I forgot my mace…
  • Dammit…I forgot my Road ID…
  • It’s May, right?  Like…mid-May?!  WHY IS IT SO COLD!  WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE NOVEMBER?
  • Fuck you, Mother Nature!
  • Don’t drink wine the night before a 7 mile run.  Just don’t.

And…there it is.  Now…off to the gym and then to suffer at work for another day.  Is it the weekend yet?  And, dammit, is it ever going to warm up?

Go A Little NuttZo This Spring…BIG SALE!

As many of you know, I am very proud to be an athlete ambassador for my absolute favorite nut butter out on the market.

It’s called NuttZo.  You might recognize it from the upside down label…or you might have spotted it in the jar that is upside down on the shelves.  NuttZo is awesome.  It was created by Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi, who counts both fitness and nutrition as an integral part of her life.  After she and her husband adopted two boys from the Ukraine who were vitamin deficient, she began to focus further on preparing creative, flavorful, and super-nutritious foods.  Out of this new determination, NuttZo came into being.  NuttZo is an Omega-3 powerhouse of nutrition, all blended into a delectable nut and seed butter.

NuttZo is non-GMO and organic.  And, yes, the price tag might make you think twice about adding it to your shopping cart.  But, rest assured, this is money well spent.  Because everything is organic, the price tag is a bit higher…but the quality of this nut butter is like nothing you have ever had.  Forget those commercial seed and nut butter…go NuttZo.

And…good news…

This week, NuttZo is holding it’s big Spring Sale!!!

Click on the image below and see for yourself why NuttZo takes seed and nut butters to a whole new level.  Fall in love with it and spread the NuttZo love!!

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NuttZo Spring Sale!!

#NuttZoAmbassador #NuttZoFanatic #NuttZoLove #EatNuttZo

Six Things Saturday

I’m having a good day today.  Seriously.  I woke up, did my core work and PT hip strengthening stretches without any serious pain.  I went and did some grocery shopping, then did some dynamic warmups, a 2+ mile treadmill run with a friend, and followed that up with my plyometrics for my hip…and I still do NOT hurt.  At all.  So it’s a good day.  So I want to share some good stuff…

Because sometimes I just want to talk about random…stuff.

1. Lush’s 93,000 Miles Shower Jelly

Lately, I’ve been working on finding Celiac-friendly, non-chemical shampoos, body washes, lotions, etc.  And while on this hunt, I was introduced to the 93,000 Miles Shower Jelly by Lush.

thatsmyjelly_zpsfhjyokq3The description on Lush’s page reads:

Cool down and refresh

If you’ve been giving your muscles the runaround, plan a showertime run-in with this invigorating eucalyptus and mint jelly. Whether you’ve run a marathon or walked a mile this bright wobbly jelly will soothe aches and pains and send lingering cramps on their way. Take it straight out of the freezer and into the shower to enjoy the energizing power of invigorating peppermint and warming cinnamon leaf oils.

Let me just say, this stuff is amazing.  Shower jellies are a little strange at first, but once you get used to them…yeah.  And if you’re a runner like me with tired muscles at the end of a long run or hard push, then this jelly is for you.  It is warm and soothing, with a strong scent of eucalyptus, mint, and cinnamon.  And it feels wonderful to lather up, especially on those tired and sore muscles.  I’m hooked.

2. Running Hills

Hills make you stronger, right?  Right.  Well, it just so happens that my physical therapist wants me running hills.  Lots of hills.  Because it actually works the adductor and hip flexor muscles which are causing me fits right now.  Go figure.

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This past Tuesday, I was out at Cherokee Park, doing hill repeats.  4 miles worth of hill repeats.  You ever want to be humbled and made to feel both strong and weak at the same time…run hills. Really long hills.  And them repeat.  Six times.  It was also super cold and I froze my face off.  Guess that makes me stronger too…

3. Treadmill Running

It is no secret that I am not the biggest fan of treadmills.  Guess what…neither is my physical therapist.  That being said, sometimes it’s all you have as an option.  Like…when weather gets bad…or ice, snow, sleet, lightning…something hits.  I don’t own a treadmill…I probably never will, but I’ve had to make use of the one at the gym due to weather conditions here.

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Today, I was invited out by my friend Amber to be treadmill buddies and fit in our runs today.  A lot of our running peeps were out running in the snow, but with the two of us being out with hip labrum issues, we are treadmill bound.  But the time flew as we just sort of chatted and talked and I can’t wait to do it again.  I forgot I was on a treadmill for some of it.

4. Snowmageddon, Snow Days, Snow…

It is no secret…I am not big on winter.  As a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) sufferer, winter months are hard on me.  Winter weather is hard on me too.  My body hurts more, I slow down, it’s hard for me to breathe…and let’s not even get started on what it does to the skin on my hands.  Cracking, peeling…it’s just not my favorite time of year.

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That being said, we got about 4-6 inches of snow yesterday and, after being sent home early from work, I snuggled in, watched Disney movies, had a Girls Night In with my roomie and downstairs neighbor, and just made the most of it.  Wine might have been involved.  Italian Nachos too.  And homemade macaroons.  All the things.  It was fun.  It was just what I needed to chase away some lingering winter blues.

Is it summer yet?  Because I do so much better in heat than in the tundra of winter.  Seriously…I can sweat out any run, but my body reacts poorly to cold air.  So…seriously…is it summer yet?  I need a beach.  Stat.

5. Disney/Pixar Animated Movies in Order

With the onslaught of the snowfall yesterday, and the better part of the day left with me and my roommate sitting on the couch at home, we made the most of it by squeezing in two of the next films in our quest to watch the Disney Animated Movies In Order™.  We are polishing off 2008 with Pixar’s WALL-E and Disney’s Bolt.

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I forgot how much I loved both of those movies.  Seriously.  That’s one thing this cinematic animated journey has taught me.  Well…that and I really would have probably loved being a Disney animator, which was my very first dream job.  Yep…I’m not just a runner, chef, and blogger…I can draw too.

6. Adagio Teas

Get used to hearing a lot about my favorite teas and tea companies.  That’s going to be vastly featured in my blog…because my roommate really stocked me up on some local stuff, some new stuff, some fun stuff, and some of my favorites.

One tea that I discovered while in Chicago for the U2 concert was Adagio Tea.  And my favorite is the Citron Green.

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For starters, I love green tea.  And this smells like Sprite.  No, it really does.  Their Web site describes it as:

Citron Green tea combines green tea from China with delicate flavors of lemon and orange. The clean vegetal notes of the green tea blend seamlessly with the citrus crispness. Delightfully sweet, lifted by the freshness of the lemon-orange. Not too dry or too citrusy. Citrus Green is an Adagio customer favorite, perfect hot or iced.

Yeah…it’s pretty amazing.  I had it last night while watching Kingsman: The Secret Service and loved every sip of it.  I remembered why it was one of my favorite teas of all time (and I drink a whole heap of a lot of tea!).  Adagio Tea is based out of Illinois.  Interested in trying some of their unique and fun teas…check out that link above!

There you go…six things…on a Saturday.  ENJOY!

Blogging 101: Introduce Yourself to the World

Hello world!!

While my blog and my blogging skills are nothing new, this year, I decided to put a little more thought, depth, and skill into each of my blogs.  Why?  Because I am seriously making a go at this.  So, I signed up for the Blogging 101 thing that WordPress offered.  I figured…what could it hurt?

So, my first assignment, despite having been a long-time blogger here…is to introduce myself to the world!

For those of you who have been with me…thank you for indulging me with this post.

My name is Karen, but I blog as The Celiathlete.  The reason for this is pretty self-explanatory.  I am an athlete…and a Celiac.  I don’t think there is anyone in the world who is unfamiliar with Celiac Disease, but just in case…it simply means that I cannot eat gluten.  While this can be a fairly simple task, I am also lactose intolerant (I try to avoid dairy, but sometimes…hello ice cream!), and I am also a vegetarian.  I was a vegetarian before the Celiac diagnosis, and, while this can really limit my food at times, I don’t let it keep me down or slow me down.  Adapt and overcome.

So, currently, I am making (another) comeback from injury.  This means that a lot of my posts this year will focus on my recovery, my nutrition, my goals, my recipes, and the foods that I choose to consume.  I love reviewing new products…and, even more, love to use products in new ways.  So, if you happen to have a gluten-free product that suits my diet, I’d love to try it and tell the world about it.

My goal isn’t just to connect with other Celiacs…but to reach out to the Celiac community, the running community, the gluten-intolerant, the Couch25K-er, the weekend warrior, or just someone who is new at this whole gluten-free thing and needs some guidance into healthy, better choices.

It seems simple enough in writing, but actually implementing this can sometimes be hard.  I gave up on some product reviews closer to the holidays due to lack of time to sit down and blog.  By the time I would have had time to write about it…I had already forgotten about how they tasted and what I felt about them.  So, my goal is to stay on top of this stuff.  Write up my product reviews, my restaurant reviews, and my race reviews and/or recovery progress as I go.

I’ve been wanting to turn my blog into something else for awhile.  Why not start afresh in the new year?

So, I hope you all stick with me…and tell your friends too!