I 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 thingsand 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!
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
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.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 5-8 MILES WITH 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 6.5 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END
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!
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
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.
Thursday: BASE FUN 4-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 6 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT
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.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
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.
Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON
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.
Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
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!
Friends…I am 21 SECONDS away from matching my half marathon PR (which I set at the Geist Half Marathon in 2014). That’s…that’s ONE HILL. Do you know how thrilled I am to see this time? To know that I’m 22 seconds away from a new PR (hey, a 1 second PR is still a PR)?! I am ecstatic!!
And shocked. This is my second fastest half marathon to date. It’s been over 3 years since I even came close to my PR.
This is HUGE!
I apologize right now for all the bold, italics, caps lock, and exclamation point abuse!
Let’s take the deep dive into this race, shall we?
This story starts…on Friday. Friday’s are complete rest days for me. I hadn’t been sleeping well this past week, which sucked, but my sleep was a bit better Thursday night into Friday morning. Not great…but better. I got up, showered, finished packing, and started to prep my overnight oats (I’ve been eating these prior to long runs all summer, so why stop now?) to take with me to Indianapolis for race morning. I put those in the fridge, finished getting ready for work, and went into the office for 6 hours. Arrangements had been made to leave at 2:30 pm, head to Dragon King’s Daughter (because my magic sushi had to happen prior to a race for sure and I had a cooler in the car to keep it through the drive), and hit the road. We were about 30 minutes away when I realized I had left my prepped overnight oats in the fridge at work. UGH! So, Cathy and I said we’d find a grocery store to find something comparable when we got to Indy.
The drive was uneventful. We listened to Meb Keflezighi on the Ali on the Run podcast for most of the drive. Great listen, by the way. It’s part of the “You Can Run a Marathon” series that she put together. It was a funny, inspiring listen and it got us pretty much all the way into the greater Indianapolis area. We rolled into our hotel, checked in, dropped stuff…I put sushi into the fridge in the room…and we headed out to hit up the race expo.
The expo itself was small (probably good from a financial standpoint), but very well organized. Finding packet pickup was easy and I quickly was able to retrieve both my packet (bib and quarter zip) and my friend Kelly’s (she couldn’t get off work early and was going to drive up in the morning) packet for the half marathon. Cathy went and got her 5K packet before we stepped into the small merchandise area. She bought me a hoodie from the race. YAY. And that was all we did. We left to head to the Fresh Thyme (for some pre-made overnight oats, cashew butter, and waters) and then Noodles & Co. (because Cathy needed a night before the race fuel too), before heading back to the room to eat while watching, what else?, the traditional Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.
Cathy went to shower after we polished off our respective dinners, and I got down to stretching and foam rolling. Lights out was just before 9 pm. And, my newfound insomnia kicked in again. WEEEE! I tossed and turned and tossed and turned and didn’t get much sleep…yet again. UGH! That sucked. I switched off the first alarm I set because I was able to get up and not have to wake up anyone else because…I WAS ALREADY AWAKE. I got back into bed for another 45 minutes, but no rest was coming. Apparently I was going to run on fumes. YAY.
The temperature outside on race morning was a brisk 47 degrees. This was really the first morning of cold weather any of us were experiencing. I decided to race in the outfit I wore in the Glass City Marathon, and would likely be wearing again at Monumental. Arm warmers and everything. Cathy had a bit more of a dilemma…because 40s are hard to dress for. Sleeves are good, but sometimes you warm up fast. Short sleeves might not be enough. She opted for sleeves. We ate some breakfast (she brought oatmeal from home), finished getting ready, and then headed out the door to drive up to the giant parking lot prior to the half marathon and 5K.
Kelly was there bright and early, so when we parked she made her way to the car while Cathy got out the trash bags she brought for extra warmth. I handed off the packet and zip to Kelly, who was excited she was actually getting one of the jackets, before she went to drop it in the vehicle. She was just in shorts and a tank (calling herself a human furnace)…and I was cold just looking at her. HA! She returned to the car and the three of us made our way over to the staging area near the start line. There were some nice fires going, and we tucked in to attempt to stay warm. Cathy went to drop her bag at Bag Drop, and we were just killing time now. I did drink my Maurten 160 Drink Mix 30 minutes prior to the start, per the usual.
As the start of the race neared, we did meander over toward the start corrals, where we met up with Elizabeth (another member of the MRTT/SRTT Southern Indiana Chapter), took some pictures, and then wished each other luck. I was in Corral B, Elizabeth in C, Kelly in D…and Cathy was in the 5K corrals, so she was able to at least take some photos, video, and cheer at the start of the half.
The 1:40 pacers were in my corral and lined up near me. I was to run this one at MARATHON PACE, so I wasn’t paying any attention to that. It was a cool, crisp morning, and after the elites and first corral were sent off…we were moved up. Cathy actually got a nice video of me starting, though she didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, she was waiting for the corral after that. Oh well. That’s what happens sometimes.
The 1:40 pacers were fantastic, especially Troy, as he gave a lot of helpful advice to those who were running with him as we started out. And it was a good reminder that we still had a long road ahead. The first part of the race was a slight downhill…so I let gravity work it’s magic there. We were off, and I was feeling surprisingly good.
The first two miles of this race were a nice, relaxed, gentle downhill. My legs were feeling rested and good and they were on the move. Mile 1 rolled by quickly, and as we hit Mile 2, we were already inside the Fort Harrison State Park. It was as we headed into Mile 3 that we hit the first monster hill in the race. It’s funny, when you look at my splits you can see the 2 giant hills that you have to tackle in this run. But this one was early and my legs were fresh with some bounce. And I just bounded up it and kept going.
The next few miles were rolling hills and flats. And they were enough to just sort of keep your legs guessing and feeling good. The volunteers at the water stops were phenomenal, cheering loudly for the runners as they came through the aid stations, and just being really encouraging. I was still feeling good as I hit the 10K mark, knowing that I was ahead of my marathon pace, and hearing my mind tell me that if I slowed down, it was okay. But I wasn’t going to make myself slow down. We had perfect race conditions and I was rolling. I took out one of the Maurten 100 Gels (the new one with some caffeine) and managed to take it without slowing down much. There were no trash cans, so I held onto the wrapper until I spotted one, about a mile later.
We were routed into a little round about of a parking lot, looped and came back out on the other side. Just after Mile 7, we crossed a grassy path and onto a bike path (the Harrison Trace Trail) for the back half of the run. While this was a bike path, it never doubled back on itself, so it didn’t feel crowded or cluttered. In fact, I felt like I had plenty of room to stretch my legs and push myself.
Just after Mile 8, we hit a HUGE downhill. I love downhills, but I wasn’t expecting the drop that this one had. Luckily, downhill is my favorite speed and I adjust very well to it. My footing found itself and I easily rolled back into my pace. It was just after this point that I removed my gloves and tucked them into my hydration pack. It was starting to warm up, and every time I thought I could take off the arm warmers, a cold wind would sweep up, and I’d keep them off.
After Mile 10, where I took another (non-caffeinated) Maurten Gel 100, we hit the largest hill on the course. It was one of those that starts up, levels off, then continues to go up. This was my slowest split of the entire race. It felt good to get to the top, but now my legs were definitely feeling the fatigue of the speed of the race. Just after Mile 11, we ducked back across that grassy path and onto the road, heading back toward start of the race (also the finish, obviously).
It was at Mile 12 that the 1:40 pace group caught up to me. And this entire time, in my head, I am reminding myself that I’m not running for a PR…I’m running Marathon Pace. I knew I was way ahead of that, but I still felt good, despite that late, monster hill. I ran right with them as Troy told his runners to skip the final water stop and keep rolling. As we got halfway through the mile, Troy started to talk runners in…take some deep breaths. He said they were easing back on pace, so as not to blow people out so close to the end (they were just slightly ahead of the time on his back)…and I kept going. And I picked it up a little as I started to make the final turns to head toward that finish line. I felt amazing. And I crossed, still feeling good. I stopped my Garmin, collected my medal, and then finally pulled the wrist band away from the watch face to look at my time. And I about died.
It was my second fastest half marathon since I started running half marathons. My two top times are on hilly courses. How about that? I mean, I hate hills. Cathy came over and she was all, “YOU KILLED IT!” And I did. I killed it DEAD. And I still felt good (which was also good because I had another 13 miles to run the following day with more speed thrown in).
We decided to go and check out the cookout that the race offered, ducking in. There wasn’t really anything for me (food allergy queen), but Cathy snagged a piece of Jockamo’s pizza and a cookie. She went and purchased a beer and got me a local kombucha (which…was delicious!!). She ate and we went to go walk around, but had to stay in the little (and it was little) picnic area (we weren’t sitting in the tent) with our drinks (even though mine was NOT alcoholic). So, she chugged her beer and I drank what I could of my kombucha but I was fresh off a fast half marathon and chugging something didn’t sound appetizing…and I was freezing…so I didn’t want to stand there any longer.
We made one more pass through the official merchandise…and I was tempted to get the finisher’s shirt with the names on the back (mine was on there)…but ultimately walked away from it. I was happy with the hoodie that Cathy got me (she had to buy it as it said “Finisher” on it). We made the drive back to the hotel where I took a shower and dried my hair while she packed up everything. We headed to Carmel, Indiana (a short drive) to catch lunch at Woody’s Library Restaurant (where I got the Mushroom & Spinach Tacos with a side of the Cajun Dusted Tater Tots). Then, we headed over to the Indiana State Fair Grounds because…Half Price Books was having a BIG clearance sale, where all books were $2 or less. Amazing.
We left after a couple of hours and a lot of texting with my dad. Road work delayed our return to the Louisville area, but we finally made it home. Still without groceries. I ended up making popcorn for dinner and then heading to bed. And not sleeping well again.
My experience at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben was amazing. I can’t wait to run it again next year. Hopefully more of my friends can join me!! It was definitely much better running weather than what the large group of over 100 MRTT/SRTT ladies dealt with at the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon had the week before. Kind of glad I opted for this one.
My official results of the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben are that I finished in 1:39:13, which, as I previously mentioned, was a mere hill, or basically 21 seconds off of my PR time from 2014). This race proved something very important to me…that I can still push the pace for 13.1 miles. With all the times I have doubted my body, my ability, and mentally let myself check out, I felt strong and capable this entire race…even the two hills that messed up my fast splits. HA! I was 156/1726 finishers overall. I was 24/851 female finishers. And I was 6/138 in my age division. Guys, my age division is SUPER competitive…always. This race was no different. But this rank…is beyond what I thought I could accomplish here. If you need a fall half marathon on your radar…put the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben on your radar!
A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast! I had a blast talking to Stephanie and sharing part of my story (I feel like I could have gone on for at least another hour…but I also like to talk). Anyway…please go give it a listen. And be sure you share, like, subscribe and leave a review for the podcast itself.
You can check it out below…or search on your favorite podcast platform!
And thanks again, Stephanie!
“Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady Karen Brady, aka The Celiathlete, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 30. After some trial and error, and help from a Registered Dietitian, Karen was able to find the nutritional solutions to help fuel her greatest passion: running. Not only has Karen learned to live […]
After a really good shakeout run using Glass City’s Savage 5K as just that (and somehow placing in my age group), I spent the rest of Saturday in my hotel room. Sitting on my bed. Feet up. Eating. Blogging. Watching television. Not out walking around Toledo. Not hanging out at the expo. Off my feet. Foam rolling. Stretching. All of it.
I was really taking this prep seriously! I didn’t actually leave the room until about 4 pm…when Cathy and I headed into Toledo to hit up Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery for dinner. We had looked at a few places in Toledo, but it is so hard to gauge how safe some places are, and some reviews on places I had been looking at weren’t so good on my Find Me Gluten Free app. We were going to do my new favorite thing before a major race – sushi…but Toledo’s only safe sushi place only had the a vegetable roll, cucumber roll, or avocado roll for vegan options. BOOOO! I am lucky to have Dragon King’s Daughter for my vegan sushi needs in Louisville/New Albany. As we were driving up to Toledo, my fellow Celiac blogger and Instagram friend, Margaret, was on her way down to Columbus for the Gluten Free Allergy Free Fest and posted about Organic Bliss. They closed at 5 pm, so we went early and got there to figure out what we wanted for dinner. And, of course, we would get a box of goodies to go back to the hotel with us.
The people there were very kind and gave us some time to look over the menu, and we finally came to our conclusions…Cathy went ahead and got the BLT with Chips. And I went with the Gluten Free Caribbean Avocado Sandwich (avocado, romaine, spinach, tomato, cucumber, black beans, papaya poppyseed dressing). I got that with a side of the Chickpea Salad. And then we boxed up some treats: A Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake, an Almond Scone, a Cranberry Orange Scone, a Cinnamon Roll, and the Peanut Butter Quinoa Bar. We paid and went and took a seat in the corner while meals were prepared and brought out to us.
Sandwiches before a race are a good back-up it seems. And this sandwich was AMAZING. I loved it. And the Chickpea Salad was the perfect side. Got some carbs, protein, healthy fats…perfection. They were trying to get ready to close, so the floors were being swept and people were coming in for last minute purchases. We finished up and headed out to go back to the hotel for the night. And you better believe Cathy and I split that Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake for dessert back at the hotel.
I went ahead and posted on my Instagram feed the motivation, the drive, and the reason I was running the following day: my mom. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January, just after the New Year. It was a shock to my family and one that none of us were prepared for. Right now, she is going through chemo, keeping her spirits high and her thoughts positive. What a warrior. This race, save for a couple of miles, was to honor her. Mile 1, my roommate claimed. Mile 26, my friend Natalie claimed, And Mile 10 was in memory of my friend Tina’s daughter, Kinsley, who died in her sleep at the age of 10 a couple of days before I left for Toledo. I would carry these honors with me respectively on the race course.
I did one last round of stretching and foam rolling while watching Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network…and got an onslaught of uplifiting and motivational gifs from my coach. I do love my coach. He has been amazing, even when training went slightly off the rails when I busted up my knees. The gifs made me laugh. And he threw in a Game of Thrones reference, so that was winning. But, soon it was time to turn in for the night. I set two different alarms. One for me to get up and take my medicine and use the bathroom…and then go back to bed. And then one for Cathy…which would be when I would get up and get dressed. No surprise…I couldn’t sleep well. And I shut off my first alarm before it even went off. Tried to climb back into bed and wait for the other alarm, but then my mind wouldn’t shut off. So, I got up and did my PT stretches for my hips…and then went ahead and started to get ready. By the time the second alarm went off, I was pretty much dressed and ready to head out the door. So, while Cathy got ready, I started prepping my hydration vest bladder with 1 liter of water, grabbed my Maurten gels to use as additional fuel on the run, and put on my clothes I would shed prior to the race.
Because up in Toledo…it was 41 degrees on race morning, but with the windchill, it was in the real feel was in the low 30s. They had been predicting snow…but thankfully that didn’t happen. I had, thankfully, packed some clothes that I could wear over my race gear (and a back up short sleeve shirt since a tank top was the original plan for this race), so I felt like I was good in the wardrobe department. I was glad I had the clothing to give to Cathy before I got into the corral, because I was cold in that wind.
We left the hotel early. Like 5:45-ish early. And we made the 20 minute drive to the University of Toledo, where we found a lot to park in. And then…then was the walk to the start. It was slightly drizzly, but Cathy had purchased some trash bags at Kroger so, we both donned them and set out down the sidewalk to get to the start. It was a pretty big walk, but it was a good way to warm up for sure. If you know Cathy’s history with directions, you will understand that I kept checking with her to make sure that she was on track to getting us to the start line, especially when random runners who were walking near us would veer off and we’d continue on…into the land of empty sidewalks and roads. But, we turned at an intersection and I could hear the tunes of the start line, and they just so happened to be playing my theme song for this year, Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.” It was a good sign.
We went to find a spot for Cathy to stand for the start of the race and just sort of made that base camp. I stood behind her to break her from the wind. We took a few photos. I looked miserable. I was miserable. Spring marathons were not meant to be spent freezing. At least, not in my opinion. I drank my bottle of UCAN with 30 minutes to go and eventually, with about 10, shed my extra layers, save the trash bag, got a hug from Cathy, and headed to Corral B.
It was here in Corral B that I set out on my mission to find the 3;35 pacers. The Web site had two of them listed, but as I hunted for the tiny yellow signs the marathon pacers held, I just couldn’t find any in my corral. So, I went up to one of the half marathon pacers and asked him where the marathon pacers were. He said that they should be in here…and asked which group I was looking for. I said, “The 3:35.” And he told me that there was no 3:35, only 3:30 and 3:40 and to find and line up with the 3:40 so that I start slow. I was determined not to melt down or let this mentally get to me. The National Anthem was about to be sung, and after that, I gave one last look around my corral for pacers….shed my trash bag, and decided I was going to have to pace myself this time.
That’s a scary thought right? But that was how it was going to be. Corral took off and I saw the bobbing of the yellow pacer signs up there. So…one more chance to check for them in my corral. No luck. None. Deep breath. We were moved up toward the start line. Waited two minutes. And then…we were off.
I reeled it in immediately. Normally that race start is intense and the adrenaline is rushing and you just GO. You bolt it out and find some space, but it uses up valuable energy, and I had been given a plan to follow, and while I couldn’t see the first 5 miles through with the pacer as the plan said, I wasn’t going to blow it up by going out too fast too soon. I could hold it together and hold back. Five miles. I had this. My coach wanted me to be around an 8:12-8:10 pace for these miles. I did the best I could, and while a few of them were slightly fast, the last two were just slightly slower (not by much) than that pace. Just before Mile 4, Cathy had found a spot on the side of the road to cheer. It was amazing. Cowbell and all with a crowd. I will say this, for being a smaller race, I never felt like I wasn’t supported out there. Going into Mile 4 was a huge example of this. Lots of people, even in the damp cold, just there to cheer on the runners. It was great.
From Mile 6-15, I was supposed to maintain a slightly faster pace, not sprinting, not going too fast, but hitting those high 8’s. And I managed this. Holy crap, I was doing it. And I felt good. I didn’t feel like I needed anything, and technically with UCAN, I didn’t…but I didn’t want to run out of steam, and I have always been told to fuel early and often. So, I took my first Maurten gel at Mile 6. Here we were guided through some neighborhoods, and people were down at the end of their driveways cheering. Our bibs had names on them, so they would shout out your name and some encouragement as you went by. Loved that. While big races are all fine and good, this was the feel of a big race without all that big race stuff.
It was actually just before Mile 10 that the half and the full marathons split. This was clearly marked with big gates for the runners to go through. The half marathon runners turned left, while we continued on. This did bring the number of people around down some. But, again, I never, ever felt like I was running alone. At Mile 10, I fueled again (remember, early and often) and then I did give a point up to the sky and said Kinsley’s name. She gave me some wings on that mile.
It is just before Mile 11 that the marathon course enters Wildwood Preserve Metropark. We would actually run through this park twice on the course, but, trust me, it didn’t really feel repetitive. The open streets we had been running on narrowed to a running/biking path, but it was paved and beautiful. There were race volunteers out there, handing out water at the two water stops that were inside the park. There was a band playing as well at some point. On the first pass through the park, somewhere after Mile 12, we are sent to the right to run out onto the streets again. I fueled again at Mile 14, and pressed on, still feeling strong and confident. It was somewhere in Mile 16 that I caught up with the 3:40 pacers.
Yep…the 3:40 pacer. I shook this off, figuring that it was fine. The problem was, I joined up with them as we were sent to run on the shoulder of a road, and in a pace group, that made for some tight, tight quarters. This made my split at this mile much slower than I would have liked, but I was afraid of clipping runners ahead of me, or being clipped by runners near me. This happened twice, if you recall, when I started with a pace group at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon back in November. When I had an opening, I did pass and get ahead, able to stretch my legs back out and pick it back up. I didn’t panic. Not at all. I just found my own pace again and was happy to not be in that pack anymore. I had some breathing room and it took that anxiety away. I fueled again at Mile 18 and just kept on going.
Just before Mile 20, we re-enter the park again, from a different entrance and make our way back through that path. It was here that we have to navigate a small bit of an incline. And it was here, that my legs slowed down and just wouldn’t pick it back up. The final 10K…where I wanted to just maintain and keep going strong. A tiny little bump in the elevation took the speed away from me. I felt like I was picking it back up, but I wasn’t. I truly wasn’t. This time as we go to exit, if it’s your second loop, you turn left, and now you’re heading back out toward the university. I still felt good, I just couldn’t find any sort of speed at this point. We are still on this paved trail, and runners were scattered, but we were strong. The 3:40 pacer passed me again. And I didn’t fret or sweat it. I did shed my gloves around Mile 22. My hands were getting really hot finally. And I was close. I also took my last gel at this point. Fuel for the final four miles.
There were some really perky and happy ladies running a friend in for his last few miles, who were fresh and really uplifting. It was nice that they came by me because they definitely helpful in that stretch. Around Mile 25, you can pretty much see the school. You know that finish line is on the field of the football stadium, and you know…you really are almost there. People are cheering. Shouting your name. Encouraging you. Telling you how good you look. How fast you look. That you’re doing amazing. I still felt good. I still felt confident and strong. I knew I wasn’t getting the BQ I had been training for, but I hadn’t glanced at clocks or my watch for time…just my pace. I never peeked at it if it wasn’t buzzing at me for a mile lap. I hit the turns to take the chute into the 26th mile…and then it was on to the stadium. The crowd was amazing. Loud. Screaming. I saw Cathy as my name was announced and I kicked as much as I could toward that finish line. Crossing it…with my hands up. I paused my Garmin and took a look at the time.
I was just off of my BQ time by 3 minutes and off my goal time by 5 minutes. I was so close. I didn’t get my goal, but I was incredibly happy and proud. I hadn’t hit the 3:30’s in a marathon since 2013, where I did it twice. Both BQ times. I was elated. I cried. Cathy came over after I got my Mylar and my medal and gave me a hug. I told her I needed to put my feet up so we went over to the field and I laid down in the sunlight and propped my legs up on her.
Eventually, I decided that I did, in fact, need to move. So, we headed out of the stadium to the runner finish area. Here we collected my commemorative glass mug (you get it upon finishing), and went to the food tent. I couldn’t eat anything, but poor Cathy was starving so she had my beer and pizza tickets, so I let her claim those. I was feeling lightheaded, so I went to sit down and shiver in my Mylar.
Cathy and just shown up when my Instagram friend, Scooby (who had a fantastic day as the 3:15 pacer) wandered by. I called him over and we chatted for a minute, but he had just snagged some pizza and I didn’t want it to get cold…so we congratulated each other and I let him go. Cathy had two beers to try. The first one she hated, the other one she sipped on until I decided I was ready to go get warm with a hot shower at the hotel while she went to get me some coffee from Bigbee Coffee. The walk to the car felt longer than it probably was, mostly because my body was tired and a little sore from the effort that day. I eventually foam rolled, stretched, and went to get dinner at Corelife Eatery before seeing Avengers: Endgame that night (the theater was advertised as having reclining seats – it didn’t…and by the end, I knew I had made a big mistake). It was a good day, and I am still basking in my accomplishment. I think, next time, I’ll get it.
So, the official results of the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon are that I finished in 3:38:46, making it officially my third fastest marathon and the first one back in the 3:30s since 2013. HOLLA! Stoked. I was 408/1278 finishers overall. I was 108/527 female finishes. And I was 30/96 in my age group! How amazing is that. I felt good and strong the entire time, never letting any self-doubt or negative talk enter my head. I was focused on the race at hand and the people I was running it to honor. Marathon #15…done. Now to find the perfect fall marathon to make the next attempt on that Boston Qualifying dream.
Remember…training rarely is linear…race day can throw so many factors at you…trust the process and remain focused on your own race that day. You never know what you are capable of until you try.
Race: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Date: November 3, 2018
“Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.” ~ Samuel Beckett
I admit it. The results of the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon were a hard pill to swallow. In all honesty, I had hoped that my training, regardless of changing plans and going solo on it all…making it all up as I went, catching up on miles I didn’t get to run to build up that marathon base…I really thought it would be enough. I didn’t feel like I was in marathon shape. But I felt confident.
And, as we know…I crashed and burned soon after the 14 mile mark. I finished. But not with a time I was happy with.
Moral of the story. Do NOT ever leave me along with an upcoming half marathon with the option to upgrade to the full marathon when I’m pissed off with my previous marathon performance. Less than one month apart. 27 days apart, to be exact. Because, I figured, hell, I was already in “marathon shape”…might as well try again with a different plan of action. So, it happened. I upgraded my registration to the full marathon (trust me, I was starting to doubt the wisdom of this the morning of the race, but I’ll get there, LOL!) and then…didn’t really broadcast it anywhere. I told my training partner, Lauren. My roommate, of course, knew. And a couple of people at the gym who asked me what was next for me knew…but no one else. Not. A. Word.
My plan for the days in between? Recovery. Easy runs. Not a ton of miles. Just easy, training runs. I did maybe 3 speed intervals…all of only 4 miles. My longest long run was 10 miles…last weekend. Slow and steady with Lauren who took me on an adventure and kept the pace right where I wanted and needed it. Some people like to pile on those miles and brag about weekly and monthly totals. I have never been that sort. And, honestly, it is a rare thing for me to ever hit 200 miles in a month, even during marathon training. There is training and there is overtraining. One of these benefits you. The other leads to injury, burnout, and a plethora of other issues. Just like pace, I don’t usually post my miles or mileage either. Honestly, who cares other than me?
Deep breath. Let’s start with the day before the race.
Thursday night was filled with packing and not trying to overthink anything. Cathy picked out my outfit…she packed recovery wear, shoes, race gear, fuel, etc. Everything I would need for another 26.2. I made her pack capris because I was nervous it would be too cold at the start of the race for the running skirt she had picked. She allowed for that…but nothing more. We went to work as usual on Friday, planning to leave around 2 pm to make the drive up to Indianapolis.
I made certain that I got as much work done that I could in the time I was in the office. Lunch was just a giant salad, made from all the fresh ingredients/produce that I had lingering in my fridge heading into the weekend. We packed up, brought bottles of water that had our Nuun Immunity Tablets in them. If you haven’t tried them…HIGHLY recommended! And we hit the road, with our mid-day snacks to get us through the drive and the expo before heading to dinner.
We hit a small amount of traffic on the way, but we made it to the Omni Severin Hotel, in downtown Indianapolis. Honestly, if you’re looking for a hotel in downtown Indy…STAY HERE!! I was blown away by the hospitality, even if they didn’t do late checkouts due to it being an event weekend (I get it…but after a marathon, I usually appreciate a hot shower). They did say that they had a fitness center with a shower and if I needed one I could get a key made to get in there and shower. So…I mean…there was that. Our luggage was taken up to our room by the nicest guy, Matt, who gave us the rundown about the hotel and the history behind it. He showed us the amenities in the room and made sure we had plans for dinner because otherwise the hotel was doing a pasta dinner for the runners. Honestly, I’ve never felt so welcome at a hotel.
Next stop…the expo. We took the inside path through the hotel and Circle Center Mall to get ourselves over to the Indianapolis Expo Center. Some roads were going to be closed because Trump and Pence were in town (BARF!), but it wasn’t affecting us. We had a work-around. The Expo felt a lot smaller this year than it was last year. We got there, and immediately collected posters and headed to the back to get race packets and shirts. YES…that’s plural. Since I upgraded to the full, Cathy decided she could do the 5K, as it started AFTER the full and half marathons were sent off. Had I stuck with the half, she wouldn’t have done it otherwise she’d miss my finish.
We stopped at the 5K booths first and Cathy did her first ever official big race 5K packet pickup. She had to show her ID and everything. The volunteers at her table were SO fun and very cool. They even had thrown safety pins into her bag. It was awesome.
After she got her stuff…we headed over to the marathon tables where I collected my shirt and bib and we went straight into Official Merchandise. Where I spent more money. This time only on a lapel pin and a jacket. The jacket is SUPER nice though. I could have spent SO MUCH more. HA! We made our walk through the vendors and races that were represented at the expo. Cathy had forgotten a BondiBand to keep her ears warm, so we had to go and get her one of those. She found one…bright pink…that says, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Just like the button she has worn since NYC. I spotted a different flavor of Gluten Free Honey Stinger Stroopwafels (I can only ever find Salted Caramel…which is GOOD…but I know there are other flavors out there…and I found a Vanilla & Chocolate one!). But we wrapped it up quickly, stopping to find my name on the poster and then take a few pictures with the banners. A volunteer was kind enough to get a lot of these photos for us, from every angle.
From there, we made the trek back to the hotel room. We had about 30 minutes to kill before dinner, so Cathy went ahead and tried on her race shirt to get my opinion on the fit. I decided I should do the same, and thank GOD I did. Turns out, the volunteers at my end of the table gave me a men’s small and not a women’s small. I was NOT happy. With 20 minutes to get to our dinner reservation, we packed up the shirt and stepped outside to take a quicker route to the convention center in hopes of changing it out. I booked it down the hall and back into the expo to the shirt exchange area and snagged my women’s small. Whew! Cathy was waiting in the hall outside. We had about 5 minutes to make a 10 minute walk to our dinner reservation at Napolese. Honestly, whenever we are in town for a race, this is our go-to restaurant. I mean…GLUTEN FREE FOCACCIA AND GLUTEN FREE PIZZA!!
I apologized to the hostess for being late and told her we had a 5:45 reservation. Our table was still there though, next to two very loud men who were drinking a lot and talking REALLY LOUD about Queen and movies and games and whatever. I was over it. Thank God they left while we were eating our appetizer.
We had already had plans on what we were going to do for eats that night. I looked at the menu on the way up so we could formulate a plan. So when our waiter came over, we got glasses of water and put in our order. Gluten Free Focaccia (no dairy) and then we were going to Freestyle our pizza and do a Gluten Free Pizza topped with the Housemade Tomato Sauce, Winter Squash, Mushrooms, and Duck Eggs. He asked if the gluten-free was an allergy and made note that it was for a Celiac on the ticket. And also made note of the NO DAIRY preference as well. They are VERY efficient there. And trust me…the food is amazing too.
The focaccia came out first…olive oil, garlic, parsley. SO GOOD. And as we were polishing that off, the pizza came out. But it was missing…the duck eggs. Cathy pointed it out and he apologized and took it back. He returned with a little thing of olive oil to go with the pizza if we wanted to add it and said that he took the pizza before they had cooked up the eggs and it would be up momentarily. And we didn’t really have a long wait before it was returning to our table. Looking SO good. And even with polishing off the focaccia…I was ready to eat. We polished off the pizza and took his advice, adding the olive oil…and it was light and fruity and just added a whole new level of deliciousness to the slices. BIG FAN. We finished eating and were given the bill, where they didn’t charge us for the duck eggs (that was sweet…but they didn’t need to do that). We left a big tip, because or waiter was awesome. Then headed to CVS to pick up some waters for the next morning, and then hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for a pin. Mind you…I was not wanting to be on my feet much this time around. But, we were never far from the hotel and we were back into the hotel by 7:30-ish. Cathy went to shower. I got out all my race gear and laid it out and then started my foam rolling because I was determined to do that the night before the race. As I was doing that, there was a knock at the door. It was housekeeping delivering a bottle of water, some ice, and a card. It was from the hotel. Super sweet gesture. I knew it would all come in handy. We finished up an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…and then…
Lights out…9 pm. On the nose.
I woke up a couple of times during the night…like my usual wakeup time of 3 am. At 4
am, my first alarm went off so I could take a pill and use the bathroom. Back to bed for 2 restless hours. At 6 am…we were both up and starting our morning routine. I popped open a Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Matcha Happiness Ambition Bar. I ate one before I ran the Monumental Half Marathon last year. Why not do it again? I prepped my pre-race drink and started to slowly get dressed. At 6:15 am, Cathy’s free orange juice and coffee arrived outside the door. We got up at 6 am so we could have a more relaxed moment and this gave her the chance to eat her Clif Bar and drink some coffee and juice as she does most mornings. Including in her own training.
I finished getting ready, and this included slathering on some sunscreen because…it was going to be a sunny day that morning and I refuse to be the person with a sunburn in November. I was wearing two different color CEP sleeves, my Injinji toe socks, my Newton Distance IIIs, a black running skirt, my Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon singlet, red arm warmers, and a red BondiBand that said “Breathe.” I had some pajama bottoms to toss away prior to the race and a halfzip that I bought in a child’s size a long time ago that I was okay parting with. I put my Nuun Energy into two of my bottles and water into the other two bottles and put my fuel belt on. I put my new nutrition (tested once) into the front zip pouch and called myself ready. Cathy ended up putting on a second layer on top and then we headed down to the lobby. They had water and bananas out for the runners. I usually eat a banana before a marathon so…I snagged one. We ran into people from Louisville that we didn’t know, but I spotted his Chicago Marathon t-shirt and said I had run it too, but he was smarter than me this morning since he was only doing the half. We had a good laugh over that.
And after they moved on…I started to have a small meltdown. Why? Because, despite being easy on my body and training smart leading up to this…I felt like my legs weren’t going to let me go another 26.2 so soon. Cathy talked me down, as she usually does. And then she had us moving out the door and into the cold Indianapolis morning. It was 34 degrees outside. We made the walk from the Omni to the start line, where I ate my banana and slowly drank my water. We made it here and Cathy took a few pictures. When we saw the pacers getting into the corral, she told me to go find my pacers and talk to them. She gave me a hug and I left…stepping into the network of corrals and finding the 3:35 pacers (see what I’m doing here?), in the 2nd wave. My bib was good for the first wave, but like I said, I was learning from my mistakes at Chicago…I hoped.
My plan for this race…line up with the 3:35 pace group and hold on as long as I could. I
didn’t expect to be with them for long, just given how my training runs had been coming off of Chicago. But, I figured it would be a good way to keep from going out way too fast (and we all know I would have) and at least keeping a constant pace going forward. The male pacer’s PR was 3:09 and the female had just run a 50K the weekend before, so I can only assume that she is normally super fast as well. Crazy good. I never run with pacers, but I figured…this might be what I need.
I ditched my toss-away clothing and got back to the pacers just as the national anthem was being sung. It was gorgeous. The wheelchair racers were sent off first. Wave one was next. And we were moved up to the start gate. I gave a wave to Cathy since I wasn’t on the outside of the corral…I was right behind the pacers because…I didn’t want to lose them. After about 5 minutes…off we went. We hit the roads of Indianapolis…and Cathy went to line up for her 5K.
The pacers guided our group down Capitol Avenue, reminding us that the pace would be slow for the first couple of miles until the race spread out a little bit. Since the half and full marathon start together, it can be very congested at points. Reminder, Indianapolis roads are awful. The male pacer pointed out holes as we ran and I heard the female pacer say, “You’re going to be saying that a lot.” HA! She wasn’t wrong.
We made a couple of turns before running across the first water/aid station. They were nice enough to shout out each station as we approached so anyone who needed water or Gatorade could grab it. It was a little chaotic through there, but I stuck with them as we made a couple more turns and made the half rotation around Monument Circle. There was another aid station before we hit Mile 3 and the pacer sign was passed from the male to the female. He had a pace tattoo on his arm and when we hit three, she asked, “How are we?” He said, “We’re a little over.” So she picked it up slightly.
Not only was I incorporating a “stick to the pacer” technique this race, I also decided to fuel more. So every 4 miles…I was trying something new (I know…nothing new on race day, but…MEH)…Maurten Gel 100, which is apparently what Kipchoge uses! I am no Kipchoge, nor was I aware of this when I purchased it to try…but it isn’t bad. I like the texture way better than the Honey Stingers or Gu type gels. I took my first one at Mile 4, which had me ease back on the pace just enough. I took a drink of water, and pushed my way back up toward the pacers.
It was just about the 10K area that I discovered how dangerous it was to run with a pace
group. As more people fell into the group it got crowded…fast. Someone clipped my foot from behind, sending me stumbling. I recovered, but was pushed into someone ahead of me, which sent them stumbling. Then someone else closed in and his foot pretty much tripped me…and again I had to catch myself. And then someone clipped me again and that one nearly took me down for good. The adrenaline was rushing at this point which was definitely NOT what I wanted to have happen. I eased back just enough to allow some space so I wouldn’t get trampled at this point.
At Mile 7, the half marathoners turn left and the marathon runners continue up toward the State Fairgrounds. At Mile 8…I fueled again. And I was still hanging onto the pace group. YAY. I was a little bit behind them, but I felt that was for my own safety and sanity. We turned onto Washington Boulevard, which we would be on for almost the next two miles. They were giving out Clif Gels at Mile 11, but I had my own fueling to contend with. But it was here…HERE…that I started to get a side stitch. I wasn’t pushing my pace…but it soon turned into a stomach cramp of sorts. I gutted through it until we made the turn and hit Mile 12…and then I slowed it to a walk to see if I could get it to pass. This was when I was supposed to fuel again anyway…and I took the opportunity to do that before I felt I would be okay to pick it up again. And I did. No problems. I made sure to drink more water this time. I think that was the problem. I was now further behind the pace group, but was about to hit the halfway mark. I pushed through and continued…still feeling strong for the most part. I was just frustrated that I was off the pace group earlier than I would have liked.
I loved winding through the streets of Indianapolis. There were crowds and people cheering in places you wouldn’t expect. If we ran through neighborhoods, people were there too. I may have been a bit off my pace, but I was going strong for the most part. I made the turn onto Meridian and picked it back up a little. Mile 16…I eased back again to fuel and drink more water. And now I decided I would start walking some water stops in order to make sure I was hydrating. When it’s cold outside, I forget to drink water. I wasn’t letting anything stupid like that take me down that day.
The 3:40 pacers caught me just before Mile 18, where we ran through this area that felt like a park and were met with a wall of screaming from the people inside. I think it was a college group, but they were fantastic. I got quite a few compliments at aid stations and as I ran through here on my pigtails. Love that story. We exited onto the highway and headed toward my favorite part of the course, this gorgeous, twisting downhill on an exit ramp. YES! Downhill is my favorite speed as we all know!! And this was fun.
Mile 20…and I had only a 10K left. I took a little longer on my walk to fuel here because not only did I fuel and drink some water, but I also moved my one and only Honey Stinger Gel from my zip pocket in my running skirt to my fuel belt. Why? Because I was going to do one more fueling and I didn’t have enough Maurten with me. I wanted to feel good and strong at the end of this.
At this point, if there was a hill…I speed walked it. If there was a water stop, I walked it and took in some water. If there was a crowd, I ran. I was running more than walking, which was opposite Chicago, so already my plan was paying off. I think it was at Mile 23, I went ahead and took my last gel, fueling for the last push. The water stop here was AMAZING. They were blaring this great song about being downtown. And it just helped me pick it back up.
The next three miles went well, even though I could tell I was slowing down. I think at some point the 3:45 group passed me. I tried not to let it get into my head. I took any water break walks that I needed and promised that I would push it at the end. I was going to finish this one strong. I made the turn onto W New York Street. The crowd was amazing. Someone shouted, “The finish is just around the corner!” They were right. I rounded the corner and could see the finish line down the way. It seemed so far, but I found another gear and I started to pick it up. As I got closer, I saw Cathy standing near the finish, screaming her head off for me. I pressed on, crossing the finish line, arms in the air, and stopped my Garmin. I never looked at it. I wanted to beat my Dopey time. But I didn’t want to be disappointed yet either.
So I never looked. I started walking down the row. I was wrapped in a Mylar blanket. I saw some people with their medals on…and thought for a moment I had walked right past that station. But I hadn’t. I just hasn’t moved up far enough. I continued on. A nice woman put a medal around my neck and congratulated me. I smiled and thanked her, snagging a bottle of water before stopping to get an official finisher photo from Marathonfoto. On down the aisle of snacks, snagging a banana, a Clif Bar (for Cathy), a bag of Lay’s chips, and the famous cookie (I can’t even eat it…but I knew plenty of people who could). And then…I made my way out to be greeted by Cathy with a hug.
I asked her, “Did I beat my Dopey time?” And she said, “You smashed it by over three minutes.” I was elated. It wasn’t the time I was hoping to hit, but I once again chipped away from my time I set at the beginning of the year…doing a run/walk for the entire race. This time, I mostly ran and felt strong and good throughout…and that was saying something. As Cathy was finding a spot for me to lay down and put my feet up, I spotted the hat in her clear backpack and said, “You got a hat?” She said I should have gotten one too and I told her I must have walked past that station. She told me to lay down and she would see if she could get one for me. After about 5 minutes, she returned victorious, saying she flagged down a happy looking marathoner to see if she could get another one. It worked.
After stretching my feet up for a little bit, just basking in the sun, we finally decided to get up and head back toward the hotel. Cathy checked us out of our room and had our bags checked. It felt like the walk took forever, but it was a good way, save for the wind that had picked up. I drew my arm warmers back up over my arms and we zigzagged our way back to the hotel.
We stepped inside and got into the elevator to go up one floor. Cathy told me to go over to the bench to sit down and wait while she got luggage. It didn’t take too long. She opened up my suitcase and pulled out the outfit I had set out to wear afterwards, compression socks, jeans, the race t-shirt, new underwear, a proper bra, the basics. We went ahead and took off my shoes, socks and put on my compression socks while I was sitting there. She pulled my pigtails down, getting my hair extensions out and grabbing my hair brush. And then she sent me around the corner to the bathroom to change.
I ducked into a stall and did that in record time after a marathon. I realized that I had left my deodorant in my toiletries bag so I made sure I looked presentable, brushed my hair, and then went to grab that while leaving my race clothes with her. Quick duck into the bathroom to apply deodorant, a wash of the hands, and one more fix of the hair…and I was good to go. Once I put on my recovery shoes.
We headed out and she gave me the valet ticket to get the car while she went into Starbucks to grab me a much-needed coffee. They valet went to retrieve the car, which took about 5 minutes and she hadn’t yet made it out. I had no money on me to top the valet, which I felt AWFUL about, but I couldn’t help that. I texted her and she said about 14 teenagers had been in front of her and she was coming. She was out in about 3 minutes and we loaded up her luggage. I snagged my coffee. And we were off, heading to Carmel, Indiana, the home of Woody’s Library Restaurant, my new favorite place to eat in all of Indianapolis. Our friend Greg met us there. I didn’t have an appetite at this moment, but went ahead and ordered the Gluten Free (Lettuce Wrap) Tex Mex Quinoa Tacos with a side of the Gluten Free Sweet Potato Fries, and Cathy got me a little side of pickles…just in case I wanted them.
I made a go at the food…taking my time to chew and to digest so as not to set my stomach off. And I managed to eat the fries and most of the tacos before calling it quits. I maybe had two of the pickle chips. I was surprised I managed that much. Afterwards, to stretch me out a bit more before we made the car ride home, the three of us went to the Antique Mall and looked around. They both found things to buy, but I didn’t this time. Maybe next time. Then we hit up the gluten-free No Label at the Table bakery there. I picked up two of their Lemon Cookies, a Brownie, and a Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf. The lady who owns the bakery was there, and she was excited to see a marathoner there and asked me about other local races and Disney races as I shopped and decided what I wanted.
Afterwards…it was time to make the long drive back home.
So, the official results of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 3:46:17, which makes it my fastest marathon this year and the one that closes out my actual racing season, as far as I know. HA. I was 1377/4568 finishers overall. I was the 377/1983 female finishers. And I was 106/391 in my age division. Very happy with my results as I was dedicating this run to the people I know…who can’t run. Spontaneous Marathon #14 is in the books and I already can’t wait to sign up for next year. This was a great race, all around.
Oh, friends…sometimes you dream big. Bigger than big. You don’t want to dream big, because you’re scared of failing. And you don’t want to let people down. But people keep telling you that your dream is going to happen. Ace in the hole. No problem. Easy as pie. And then those aspirations don’t go the way you planned. And you feel like a failure. And it sucks. But you try not to let it get you down. But it still sucks.
Welcome…to my Chicago Marathon.
You know, failing to reach a goal does suck. Some people can just move on. But I have never been one of those people. In hindsight…I did a lot of things wrong leading into this race. For sure.
Instead of flying, Melissa and Paul offered to drive us all up to Chicago from here. It definitely saved time and airport stress, so we took them up on the offer. Paul was running via a lottery draw and Melissa did an amazing job raising money for her charity, Team RMHC. And Cathy…she’s our sherpa, cheerleader, and race mom, as always. We got a bit of a late start out of Louisville, but we hit the road and were Chicago bound. At some point, we all figured we needed to eat dinner…and we were in the Indianapolis area…so Cathy got on the Find Me Gluten Free app, and after a sketchy call to a pizza place…we ended up going to…The Tamale Place.
We had never been to the Tamale Place before. But the lady at the register was SUPER nice and super helpful and walked us through the process. I guess she could tell we were new to the place by the confused look on our faces. But they have a screen up front that shows what tamales they currently have…and how many. They had one vegan one…so that was the one I went with. That just happened to be the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale. And since I had been wavering between tacos or a tamale, she suggested both. And who am I to say no? She obviously knows what she’s talking about, right? So, I got a Veggie Taco as well with the spicy red sauce. Because…spicy…duh. The tortilla for the taco was homemade. The masa in the tamale was AMAZING. Everything was really, really good. Ironically, this would become our dinner stop on the way home too. I think we’re believers in The Tamale Place. Also…it makes me think of Tawn.
We ate our weight in food. No really. We did. In fact, at one point, we were passing around this cup of Elotes. I couldn’t eat too much of it, because the cheese situation on those were real…but I tried them. We used the bathroom and then we got back on the road to finish the haul to Chicago.
And so…we pulled up to The Hotel Blake in the pouring rain. Cathy and Paul had directed Melissa into the bike lane, so the valet guy helped unload us and the luggage before having Melissa move the car. Some rude taxi driver honked at her and the valet started shouting at him. It was dark, wet, and just awful that night. But she got the car where it needed to be and he got her inside. Cathy got us checked in and we headed toward the elevator with Showtime, our valet. He had the luggage cart. We piled into the elevator, and the doors closed, minus the Nolans. Whoops. So, we decided we would get their stuff into their room, then our stuff into our room and get it sorted. Showtime asked us, “Why did you make the pregnant lady drive?” Cathy assured him it was better if she was the driver than if she wasn’t. We got
to our floor and headed down the hall. They were in room 719. We were room 722. So we were close. Cathy and I were staying in a King Suite. And the Nolans were in a King room. As we unloaded their luggage, they texted to ask what room they were in. I went to go get them while Cathy got our stuff into our room. They met me at the elevator bay and up we went, with me dropping them off. Cathy said, “You have to see our room.” So…I went inside to scope it out and we texted to invite the Nolans over as well to hang. But I think they were ready to crash because they never made it over and we eventually went to bed. But the room was amazing. Big ass couch. Chairs. Dining area. Microwave. Fridge. Garden tub. Shower. Fit for the princess that I am.
The following morning, we all met up for breakfast at Meli Cafe, which is just off the lobby of The Hotel Blake. It’s convenient…so we ate their regularly. Cathy and I went and got a table and started to peruse the menu and drink some coffee. My best friend from my childhood was coming in that morning and once she arrived and dropped her stuff in the room, we were all going to take the shuttle bus to the expo. But we definitely needed to fuel up for the day. I ended up ordering the Tofu Scrambler, which is sautéed broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, roasted red peppers, and organic tofu in a giant bowl. Since they didn’t have a gluten-free bread option, I subbed for a small bowl of fruit instead. It was delicious. And filling. And not too spicy (because the day before the race is one day you really want some bland food)…even if I added a couple dashes of hot sauce. We ate. We went up to the room and hung out. And Heather arrived while I was in the bathroom. So I came out and immediately hugged her. It was amazing to have her in Chicago for me again.
Next stop: THE EXPO!!
The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo is probably the largest and best expo I have ever been to. I have done this one twice, and it’s just…endless and amazing. But first stop is always…race bib. We had to take a short walk a couple of blocks down to the Hilton Chicago and got on the bus. Most of the seats that were left were in the back. Melissa gets car sick, so we just prayed it was a smooth ride. It wasn’t a long ride and we made note of the Green Stop being where we needed to return to in order to get back to the Hilton to get back to our hotel.
We went inside…and immediately I got swept up in that race expo bliss. There were a few photo ops before I had to show my participant info to the security people in order to get in and get my race bib and the info for where to get my t-shirt. It was an easy exchange and after I got this…we decided to branch off from Paul and Melissa so we could all get our necessary things done. I had one thing I wanted at the race expo…the Newton Chicago Edition shoes. Because…NEWTONS. CHICAGO. YES! But first…I needed to get my t-shirt and check the size to be sure that I was happy with the fit. As I was trying it on, my friend AmyLee messaged me to say she was there. She said she would come find me at the t-shirt area. And…she did!! It was great to hug her and wish her luck and just sit and talk about life and catch up. She’s amazing. And…she’s doing the Galloway Method…which I totally respect and believe in, as the run/walk intervals helped me have a strong finish during the marathon at Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January.
We had to part ways eventually, and I had my sites set…on the Newton booth. Cathy had already scoped it out and so…I skipped the first few aisles just to go and get these shoes that I NEEDED. WANTED. NEEDED.
Trust me. I needed them. And, one of the guys working the booth was my friend, Dan’s, friend. And Cathy already had talked to him and he was ready for me. He brought out my size in the Chicago edition shoes…and…yeah…they came home with me. And I wear them. A lot. They’re amazing. And with that done…it was time to shop, sample, and spend more money.
And I did. I picked up the Shefit Sports Bra, which I sadly ended up returning due to it chafing me up really bad on two runs. But the customer service was super nice and very helpful. I got 6 BondiBands. Heather got me three of them as a birthday present, because she’s amazing like that. All of the ones she got me had purple in them. And they totally suited me. Totally. I bout more Nuun (of course) and I got a water bottle with it. And I am totally hooked on their Immune flavors now. I popped one of my tubes open for Heather while we strolled the expo. It was their Energy one. Her favorite. And hydration is important.
There were photo ops everywhere. And snacks. Snacks just being handed to you. And
opportunities to win free passes to the Shedd Aquarium (we didn’t…none of us). We did win those stainless steel straws though. So, hey, reusable straws. We zigzagged our way down each aisle, stopping at the booths that interested us and making note so, if necessary, we could come back. We honestly made an initial sweep and then returned to booths if we wanted to try something or if we were interested in the product.
After some time of doing this. we texted the Nolans. They were in aisle 200 (I think there were 900 aisles, maybe 800). We figured they were probably wrapping stuff up like we were. I wanted to stop by Nike Official Merch (NOT IMPRESSED THIS YEAR!) and also hit up the Abbott area as well. They had a TON of things going on, including the big treadmill you might have seen where you try to match Kipchoge’s marathon pace at Berlin for as long as you can. I would have LOVED to have done it, but not the day before the race. That sounds like an injury waiting to happen. But I did do the thing where you run across this special floor and it feeds you information about your stride and speed. It compares your stride to an elite’s stride.
Mine is WAY shorter. And it calculates your marathon pace if you could maintain that short sprint speed they measured. It was fun. But I am thankful for the guy at the end whose job it was to catch people. We all would have hit the booth wall, and probably take them down in the process.
Once I was certain that I honestly shouldn’t spend any more money…because Roll Recovery, Shefit, Newton, Nuun, BondiBand…and a couple others got my money this time around…we checked in with the Nolans again. They were now in Aisle 300 at the CEP Booth. This was when we realized they were just starting the great expo dive…so we went over there to help them shop for compression and I spotted Goodr next door, which Melissa is a big fan of, despite the tendency of the lenses to flake and scratch. I had been on my feet already longer than I expected and we still needed to get Heather and her stuff over to her hotel. So, we offered to take any bags that they wanted to ditch so they wouldn’t have to haul them around. We also changed dinner plans. Melissa really wanted to go to her charity dinner…which is fine. I really wanted to go to a place just outside the city proper, Da Luciano’s, which has a gluten free menu as big as the regular menu (honestly, it was my one requirement on this trip), so we compromised and said we’d go as a celebration after the race. We left them to continue their expo explorations and do the charity stuff, while we hopped the shuttle back to the Hilton and then back to hotel. We dropped off stuff, grabbed Heather’s stuff and went to hop the Blue Line (I think) to her area of the city. She was staying at a very nice hotel, but it was a walk to get to the train, and then a walk to get to the hotel. Reverse it after we hung in her room for a moment to head back to our neck of the woods to grab some Garrett Popcorn, pre-dinner, and then make our way to our new dinner idea…the impromptu dinner at…Brightwok Kitchen.
I first discovered Brightwok while I was in Chicago to see Hamilton. Cathy and I had gotten out of our show and we were STARVING. Everything there is gluten-free and dairy-free. And the food is phenomenal. So…I couldn’t complain too much. It wasn’t what I had hoped to be eating the night before the marathon, but it was a good supplement.
I ended up getting the Fall In Love Stir-fry Bowl. Fall in Love is Fall 5-Spice, Brown Rice, Carrots, Peppers, Local Zucchini, Butternut Squash, and a Sweet Potato Fritter. It usually comes with Local Chicken, but being that I’m a vegetarian, I had them add the tofu, I think. I actually claimed the last sweet potato fritter, so, as Heather got the same thing as me, I split it with her, because…necessary. I also got a side of their Sweet & Sour Pickles (which are AMAZING). Seriously, I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t like. After that…we parted ways. Heather went back to her hotel…Cathy and I returned to ours. We started to lay out everything for the following day so it wouldn’t be a madhouse trying to get out the door on time. My plan was to hopefully be in bed by 9 pm. I think, after having some downtime and the Nolans over for taping and necessary race pep talks…it was closer to 10 pm. Lights out. Because the next morning…it was time to run Chicago!
Race morning. The usual routine. First alarm. Get up for the meds I need to take. Go back to bed. Second alarm. Get up and actually become a functioning member of society…go to the bathroom, change into race gear, check weather, eat something, check weather, brush teeth, put hair in pigtails, check weather…you get the drill.
Heather arrived to leave her bag in our room and to head to the start line with us. I got a text from Melissa saying she wanted to hug me before we headed out (I was in Wave 1 and had to get to my Gate really early)…and she was reapplying some iron-on symbols to her race shirt from her charity that she was running for. She had a different gate and was in the wave after me. So…we swung into her room (me wearing an attractive big garbage bag because I didn’t want to be soaked if I was going to be out in the rain that was predicted) and we hugged and wished each other a good, safe race. She told me to have fun. I loved her for that. We left and took the elevator down to the lobby to head out the door to make the walk to the start. We had to get over to Grant Park. They could take me as far as my gate…which was Gate 2, before security check. We stood there for a moment, and they told me I was going to be fine and I would be great and to have fun and enjoy the run. That’s what friends do. I really wished I had been in better shape…but, you just do what you can with what you have. We took some selfies…and then hugged…and then they put me in the LONG line to get into Grant Park by way of Gate 2.
And that…was where I stood…for a very, very long time. Barely moving. Just a short trudge here and there, waddling up bit-by-bit. Glance to the left…and Gate 1 was just moving easily. Look to the right…and Gate 3 had traffic moving freely. Gate 2…was at an absolute standstill. And every runner there was basically in Wave 1 and needing to be in their corral. And yet…we stood.
At least it wasn’t raining…yet. Not yet. But, we who were left to stand there and shuffle slowly forward were about to go into panic mode. We couldn’t understand why this gate wasn’t moving. And panic was setting in for me. Usually I would have stretched more…and taken my time eating the banana I brought with me…perhaps use the bathroom near the corrals…but nope. Finally they had runners who didn’t need to check bags get into a separate line (that was me), and while it still moved slowly, it got us through. And then the panic speed walk began for everyone. Because to get to Corral C & D, you had to go behind the other corrals to a separate entrance. And at this point…the National Anthem was being sung, quite beautifully, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I was trying to make it to Corral D so I could start on time. Panic and adrenaline was setting in.
I did learn one thing from standing forever in that line at the gate. Count the kilometers, not miles. There are more of them, so you feel like you are getting places faster. Nice trick. But I digress…
I got into the corral with 1 minute to spare before they closed it. I quickly shed my trash bag and the half-zip I had worn to keep warm, as I was in a crop top and shorts for this one. The start temperature was warm…almost 60 degrees…but rain was coming and so were some rather steady winds. The announcers said all the names of the elite field that were running and the corrals would cheer for each name. And then…they sent off the first wave.
To the song Sweet Home Chicago.
After the initial walk to the start line, we could see it grow closer and closer and soon the walk became a job and soon the jog became the run over the start mat and under the starting gate. I was off. For my second ever Chicago Marathon. A race that was so magical for me in 2013.
This experience, however, was going to be a lot different. Because mistakes were made throughout the race as well. I was relieved to start without the rain, and while I knew that it wouldn’t be kept at bay, I was hoping that it would hold off longer than it actually did. The first couple of miles were pretty dry. But as I headed into Mile 3…the rain began. I also knew that Cathy and Heather were going to try to catch me before I hit Mile 3…so pretty much just before the bridge. And I spotted them thanks to Heather’s purple jacket. She was SO easy to spot. I gave a wave and a smile, feeling absolutely strong at this point and continued on…knowing I wouldn’t see them again until Mile 13.
I should mention here that I really just wanted to run by feel for this race. Go out and have fun. Enjoy. And to make sure that I wouldn’t check my watch and fuss over my pace, I set it to only show me the time. The clock face. No pace. No distance. None of it. Not even time elapsed. And I never once looked at my watch the entire race. Nor did I make not of the clocks along the course. But this is where I may have faltered. I ran the first 12-14 miles on pace for my goal for this race. But…it got a lot harder than I anticipated at Mile 10. Mile 10 is not a good place to have your legs start feeling like lead. I pressed on, hoping that maybe the flat course was affecting them, so I hoped they would wake back up. They didn’t.
I took Honey Stinger gels at Mile 6 and Mile 12…and pressed on. I did see Cathy and Heather around Mile 13. I spotted them and waved as I went by…I think I managed a smile, but I wasn’t feeling nearly as strong as I had when they saw me 10 miles previously. I managed to press on through the screams and amazing people at Soul City Church, who were rocking Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” as we ran through. But that, friends…is where it got hard.
The rain never seemed to stop. Most of my race was in this annoying drizzle. And with the winds coming on strong too…I was getting cold. And…by Mile 15, I started my run/walk method that got me through Dopey. Not systematic though. I’d guess on how long I was walking and push as long as I could handle a run…and repeat. It was hard. And it was breaking me. I could tell my little goal I had set was going to get away from me…and fast. But now…now it was about getting to that finish line.
As we went into Mile 16, a female runner slightly ahead of me, started to slow and wobble to the side of the road. Her legs were like Jello. It was too early for that…so I was glad I was listening to my body and easing back, despite not reaching expectations everyone had for me performance-wise. It was scary to see. I kept with the run/walk method as I ticked off a few more miles. No intervals…just as much as I could run, I would. And then I would count (for the most part) to 30 in my head before I would try again. Around Mile 20…there was a runner down on the corner, covered in jackets, with police officers around them. Another scary moment. Especially as I am pressing on just to finish these last 6 miles.
I managed to pick it up a little bit for the next mile…but slowed back down. Mile 24 was the only one where I hit the 10s (although some of my 9 minute paces were close). I don’t know what happened there. But I gave myself the pep talk. 2 miles. 20 minutes. I could do anything for 20 minutes. Even if it was at a run/walk.
The last two miles seemed to come and go…until I hit that hill at Mile 26. This hill takes you up an exit ramp and then you head down to the finish line, back inside Grant Park. I won’t lie. I walked this hill. It got me. This entire race got me. I got inside my head. I let expectations weigh me down. I didn’t follow a good routine. So, yeah, this hill bested me. But I made the last turn and I said I would run it in…no matter what. So I picked it up. And as I was running, I spotted Heather and Cathy…screaming their heads off for me as I ran past them and headed toward that finish line. I had no idea what my time was…my pace…none of it. It stopped my Garmin…and looked. 3:50. And change. I was WAY off. But I knew it. I knew that would happen by Mile 10. Was I still disappointed? You bet!
I made my way through the finishers area, grabbing that famous Finish Line Beer, which I can’t drink, but I promised Melissa and Paul that I would pick one up. They had to open it though…so as I went past Buckingham Fountain and further into the park to where we exited for Runners Reunite…I had to dump it out. But I could keep the can. I immediately headed for the letter X…it’s the assigned meeting spot for myself and my friends as NO ONE is ever at X and EVERYONE is at B. But as I made the long walk, I noticed neither Cathy nor Heather were there. I stayed there for awhile…then made my way up to B…because perhaps they forgot. They weren’t there either. So, back to X I went. And then I got lightheaded. I quickly sat down on the boards holding up the inflatable X and held on. My vision was going black. I was shivering and cold. I wanted to get back to the hotel. I wanted my friends.
Once I stopped having my vision go black and knew I could stand, I slowly did and made my way over to the curb…where I sat down and huddled my mylar blanket around my body. And shivered. And that’s where they found me.
I stood up and they came and gave me hugs and a rose and a stuffed bear. I started to cry a little. I have the best friends.
Cathy asked me if I wanted to do anything in the finish line area. I told her I just wanted to go back to the hotel and get warm. So, Heather took my rose and I snuggled with my bear and under my mylar and they walked me back to the hotel. We got inside and up to the room. And they were gracious enough to help me out of my shoes, socks, compression and my crop top. I stayed in the rest while Heather went to start a hot shower for me.
I got cleaned up and put on some fresh, warm clothes and went to sit down on the couch. Cathy said the last check in with Melissa and Paul was the half, but she got a message that they were behind pace, the mats were being pulled up, and that they would keep us informed of their progress. Cathy went and got me warm coffee and I tried to eat some things, but my stomach wasn’t ready for food. Not yet. I hydrated as much as I could with my stomach being off…and we sat and watched some television, talking, laughing, checking in with Melissa and Paul. Cathy had me put my feet up on some pillows and she covered me with my hoodie and the blanket from the bed. I was toasty warm now. Paul texted to see if we could grab some snacks and drinks from the charity hospitality tent, and since we all had wristbands…we could. But neither Heather nor I wanted to move. So…Cathy went and grabbed as much as she could.
When we got word that they were at Mile 24…I put on my shoes and jacket and we all made our way down to the finish line area. Security wasn’t letting people through at first, but after some women sneaked inside, the woman said, “I’m a volunteer, I’m done.” And she walked off. And so…we walked in.
We waited patiently at the finish, with me moving around as much as possible. When the gates started to come down, we got even closer, moving up toward Buckingham Fountain. We took some time to take photos of the fountain until we got word that they had finished. We tried to direct them to a street, but Melissa’s calves had pretty much cramped up at Mile 6 and she was done. We were going to them.
We found them…Melissa on the ground, shivering, and Paul trying to rub her calves and feet. Poor thing! It was crazy miserable in the rain and then the winds, so if I was this bad off…I couldn’t imagine how she felt. Plus…pregnancy doesn’t help her either. I knew Heather wanted to catch dinner before she had to get to the airport, so we changed dinner plans again…and moved everything to Meli Cafe again. Which was fine. It was closer and less hassle for sure. But with Da Luciano’s being closed on Mondays…this meant I once again was missing my chance to eat there. Next time…it’s happening. Because I will make it happen. Heather and I went to drop off things at their room and head down to dinner. We told our waitress we’d be coming in waves. Cathy got Melissa up and moving and she said that she was meeting us at Meli Cafe…to which Melissa said, “I could eat.” So…YAY!! At least the whole gang would be there to celebrate.
Cathy joined us first…then the Nolans. I was just finishing up when they got their food, but it meant I could walk Heather up to get her stuff and take her outside of the hotel to give her hugs and tell her to have a safe trip back to Minnesota. She had a flight to catch. I went back inside to sit with my friends and just reveled in what we all accomplished. We pushed ourselves even when things got hard. Even when they seemed impossible. And we all finished. Safely.
After we ate, we hit the lobby for a couple of photo ops and then headed back upstairs to rest and recover. We hung out in our room, watching Food Network and just talking and drinking water/cider. It was the perfect way to close it out.
So…the official results of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon are that I finished in 3:50:41. Definitely nowhere near what I had hoped. BUT…I will follow with my conclusions on that in a moment. I was the 11156 finisher overall. The 2941 female to finish. And I was 566 in my age division. Not bad, considering over 43,000 runner signed up for this.
So…what mistakes did I make?
I was on my feet way too much the day before the race. I didn’t fuel as I would have liked and tried a different method…the day before the race. I think my marathon paced runs killed me the weeks leading into the race as well. I let expectations get to me. I didn’t let my watch tell me to SLOW DOWN (I think that was my biggest error). I didn’t dress for the weather that was moving in. I probably should have fueled more than I did. I did every 6 miles…I am going to work on putting that closer and more frequent. And…I told myself I wasn’t fit enough so I went into it believing I wasn’t fit enough. And there are more…but I won’t dwell on it now.
I finished…I made it. My friends finished. They made it. We all were safe. We all did the best we could with our circumstances. We may not have lived up to our own expectations, but dammit…we at least tried that day. We at least got out there and gave it what we had.
Chicago…maybe one day I’ll be back. But for now, I have other fall marathons to tackle. You were a great learning experience. And I know…if I keep trying, I’ll reach my goal.
“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life it.”
I went back. I went back to an island and a race that both made me find myself and broke me…but this time I was only going half the distance. Because I’m smart. HA!
The trip itself is a whole different story all together, and something I may or may not blog about. I did keep a travel journal the best that I could…but life just happens. Let’s begin this story, then, with the expo.
As you know, my roommate (Cathy) and I have been to Kauai twice before. Once with me in a boot with our friend, Jenn. Needless to say, I didn’t race that year. Then a year later with our friends Indy & Tawn. That was the year I did the full marathon. First marathon after recovering from the hip labrum and stress fracture. It didn’t go as I had imagined…but, those hard races are what make us better. It was the last marathon I ran until January 2018, when I did the Dopey Challenge. My hip problems kept coming back and setbacks led to some cautious comebacks (of my own doing).
This time…no longer being guided by a coach and really just playing around with an old training schedule…I was going in with a plan. And this time, we were traveling with some of our favorite people, Melissa and Paul Nolan!
This is an image from our first day at our resort. I went for a short shake-out from travel run after a day of travel and getting groceries and coffee and ice cream and just checking out a bit of the island with our friends. They headed to the beach…I went for an easy run and met them on the beach. Because…the beach is life. The next morning…was expo day.
But first…coffee and breakfast. We picked up coffee at our go-to coffee spot on Kauai – Ha Coffee Bar! And breakfast, we went to Living Foods Market and got breakfast. For me, the coffee was the Kauai Sunshine and the crepe was the Gluten Free Roasted Vegetable Crepe.
After we were powered up with coffee and food…it was off to the Wilcox Health Sports and Fitness Expo at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. This hotel is GORGEOUS. Seriously. And I love visiting the expo and checking out the resort in the process. For the most part, it’s a small and basic expo. But…I. BOUGHT. SO. MUCH. Maybe it’s because when I ran the marathon, all I bought was the big triathlon backpack (which they no longer have and that made me SO sad because I wanted another one since mine is getting old and I use it for ALL travel). Maybe it’s because it was the 10th Anniversary. But most of my spending money went out the window at the race expo. That’s…pretty typical of me. HA!
I picked up my race bib and t-shirt (this time, I was listed) then went to scope out the merchandise and the little side booths in the small little room where the expo is held. There is a lot going on in there, and it can seem really crowded and chaotic at times (especially in the official merchandise area), but it is worth spend the time checking out. I ended up buying a half-zip, a towel, a magnet, a hoodie, a t-shirt…..maybe a few other small things that I don’t remember…but yeah…budget blown. Melissa and Paul had met Bart Yasso before heading into the expo, and she snagged his last new book. I went to say hi to Bart, as I’ve seen him and talked with him at numerous race expos, and he introduced me to the male marathon winner (who was also running the half this year…and would win it), Tyler. Tyler also ran Chicago…small world. After a chat, I went to see how the Nolan’s were doing with their shopping and found them as overwhelmed with the merchandise as I was. But…we eventually wrapped things up and got ready to head out for the rest of the day.
Sightseeing was the plan and we hit up the Spouting Horn, Glass Beach, The Westernmost Bookstore in the United States (Talk Story Bookstore) in Hanapepe, where we also got to enjoy rainbows and a street fair, walked across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, and then hit up Verde (one of my favorite spots) for tacos for dinner!
We went to bed knowing we’d have to be up early enough if we were going to take part in Bart Yasso’s shake-out run that morning. We were running a little late when we got there, but they had to check on the path (as there had been flooding because…hurricanes). It was a path of treachery. Lots of holes and puddles and ditches, but it was straight out and back, about a 5K. I took it easy because…I wanted to see what I could do on the course the next day. I was complimented, however, on my stride. And that has NEVER happened. I was one of the first few people back to the starting point.
Melissa and Paul came in next, and then we cheered Cathy in. Yes…even Cathy got in on the action during the morning shakeout. At the shakeout I got to talk to a lot of people, and everyone was SO nice. I chatted races with a guy named Seth (we’re now friends on Strava). I FINALLY got to meet the Marathon Goddess, Julie Weiss, who I have followed on social media for ages, like back when she was doing her 52 marathons in 52 weeks. She is just as inspiring and sweet in person as she is on her social media. I can say that for certain. After a few group pictures, we went back to shower/change and then head out for the day to do more exploring. And we just ended up winging it. Breakfast for Cathy and I was a cookie that we split at Ha Coffee House. My coffee was (my favorite for life) the Bee Sting. And then…we went on an impromptu hike.
If you know me…you know I’m not a fan of being outdoors. Which is weird, because I am a long distance runner. But the rest of my party were set on doing it, even though the trail was REALLY muddy and…quite not fun to navigate at times. I won’t lie…I was nervous about slipping and falling. I was nervous about twisting an ankle…or breaking a bone. The endgame…a waterfall. We meant to reach the bottom of it…but instead, we took the path less traveled and got to the top. And for all the bitching and complaining I did about the hike (I mean…it was the day before the race)…it was AMAZING reaching that waterfall we set out to see. And being on the top of it was so much better than the bottom. This particular waterfall was used in the filming of Jurassic Park. Hence…why it was on our radar. The hike back felt less dangerous and slippery. Melissa did slip up at one point, but she caught herself. And we emerged, with VERY muddy shoes and a few bug bites. But I burst out going, “I’m FREE!” That being said, I wouldn’t change that experience for anything. Even if I’m a princess who doesn’t really enjoy hikes in the woods.
I was cooking that night for our pre-race dinner. I don’t like to chance things if I don’t have to. So, I cooked up the purple sweet potatoes we bought at Costco, topping them with caramelized onions, avocado, and a drizzle of Sriracha Mayo. It was amazing. I’ve never had much luck with sweet potatoes pre-race, but figured this race wasn’t about time, it was about executing my strategy…so I went with it. And I know some people swear by sweet potatoes for fuel…but they just don’t work on me. But…everyone really enjoyed the dinner…and that was what counted. Time to sleep. For the following day…we raced.
Morning definitely came too soon. I got up early to do my stretches, eat something, take my vitamins, slather on a good layer of sunscreen, get my hair put up and my part spritzed with sunscreen, and get dressed. Cathy wanted to be out the door early…as the race starts at 6 am. Like…before the sun can get too high in the sky. We were a little late on the time, but we all got out the door with pre-workout, fuel, pre-race eats, and all our water bottles. We piled into the car, and Cathy drove part of the course before the road closed to get a good spot to park for the start of the race. We headed toward the little area where the runners would gather to use the bathrooms, stretch, warm-up, eat some fruit, hydrate. Melissa needed to use the bathroom (because…she was coming up on 5 months pregnant here…which she hadn’t really mentioned to the world yet…but it’s out now, so I can write about it)…and the lines were long. She had a pregnancy meltdown, but went to see if she could find a place to use the bathroom. She had talked about not doing the race…but I wasn’t about to let her come this far and at least not give it a shot. Apparently, a Starbucks let her in to use the bathroom. So that was awesome. The runners had already been marched down to the start line, and that was drawing close. I left Cathy and Paul to wait for Melissa to head that way and get a good starting spot. Not up front, but close enough to feel good about my pace when the race spaced out a bit.
The blessing was sung by the natives and the National Anthem was being sung when I spotted Melissa’s top knot of her hair. I waived them in and they ducked in to stand next to me in the corral. We were sent off to conch shells being blown (my favorite start line, hands down!). And just before I took off, the three of us took a selfie. It’s on their phone and we haven’t put up our shared Google Drive yet…so I can’t show it to you. Then Melissa gave me a hug and told me to run fast. I told them to have a good race and headed off, waving to Cathy holding her “Run The Fences Are Down” sign with the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park on it. She made the official video. I’ll link it here.
And so…it was time to put my plan into action. I know that the first seven miles of this race are a steady uphill. So, my plan was to settle in for those, and push just hard enough to keep it comfortable and challenging. I admit, my first mile was faster than I would have liked, but I was in the crowd and seeking space. But I eased back on the accelerator as I entered into the second mile. And as the climb (it’s gradual until Mile 5) continued, I eased back a bit more. I ran with a local who was doing the full, in bare feet. He looked over and asked if I was doing the half or full. I told him the half. He said I had a good pace. I told him I was impressed he was doing the race in bare feet. He replied with a native, “Mahalo.”
At Mile 4…I spotted the rainbow. YES! Another rainbow during my Kauai race. I even said, “Look! A rainbow!” to those running near me. But they ignored me and just kept plugging away. I passed some runners who were already struggling in the humidity/heat, but I knew…this is where you kept it simple and easy. Don’t race here. Race at the end.
At Mile 5, you start the climb into the Tunnel of Trees. Mile 6 is about halfway through. This is my favorite part of the race, because it is absolutely STUNNING. The views are incredible. You’re shaded by the trees. And it’s just…amazing. It’s amazing. I fueled at the halfway mark with my Honey Stinger gel, and drank down some water, which I had been doing consistently, because I know how humid and hot this race is, so I figured I’d start that hydration train rolling early. As I passed Mile 7…I knew it was time to hit the gas.
This is probably the only time you will see negative splits on any of my races. I usually go out too fast and then sort of dye at the end (fly and die). But this time, I conserved my speed for the final back half…which was more of a gradual downhill toward the beach where the finish line was. I ticked off the miles, running strong and picking up the pace where I could. The heat was starting to get to me around Mile 10, just before we stopped sharing the course with the marathoners. They would turn to the right and take on those mountains (been there, done that). I turned left and knew I could push it still, even though now the runners would be out in full sun to the finish. It’s fine. knew I could do this.
We ran down neighborhood streets, where the locals were out to cheer us on. There was a guy with a big, white Santa beard, and someone behind me said, “HEY SANTA!” It made me laugh, not going to lie. Miles 11 and 12 felt hard because they were sunny, but I knew when I passed Living Foods Market, I knew I was close. I took the opportunity to see what I had left in the tank, and managed to pull out the energy to pick it up and cross the finish line strong. I felt amazing. And, at that time, that was my perfect race pace for my upcoming marathon for the goal I was hoping to hit (although, with the sudden break in my training plan due to parting ways with my coach and striking out on my own, I wasn’t holding my breath). I got my medal hung around my neck and Ron Wiley from Kong Radio announced my name as I crossed. There was no “Brady Bunch” attached to it this time around. HA!
I was quite happy with my time, given how challenging this course was. I slipped into a sun shirt after snapping a few photos with my medal and went to check out if there was anything I could necessarily eat at that point. There was fruit…and coffee. So that happened. Cathy set a towel down on the ground and we sat down to wait for the rest of our party. There really isn’t a way to live track them, so we just had to guesstimate their placement. They checked in at one point, so we had an idea of their finish time.
We did eventually move to the finish line, where we got to see the first female finisher for the marathon come in. No tape. But her name was announced. And she looked fantastic for having taken on that course. Cathy wandered off to go to the turn before you have the straightaway to the finish line, and would text me when they were coming in. When the text came, I readied my camera…and Paul and Melissa crossed the finish line…with a friend they made along the way. It was her first half marathon and her friends had left her…so they brought her along on their run. They looked like they were having a blast. And, as I told her at the finish, that was the first time I had seen Melissa happy at the end of a race.
We had some photo moments at the finish line, and I even sent Melissa back to inquire about getting a medal for the baby. They weren’t sure they’d have enough, so I ended up contacting the race via e-mail and we were able to go in and pick one up the day after. They ended up having extras. So…YAY!! I was so proud of her, because she had been doubting herself all evening and morning leading into the race, but I knew if she started, she would finish. And, she has a built-in cheerleader and running partner with Paul there, so she wouldn’t be alone. All I told her was that she had to make that halfway point and she could walk it in if she had to at that point. She did great. And she didn’t have to walk it in.
We showed them to our little spot in the shade where they could take off their shoes, relax, and get some refreshments. The volunteers remembered Melissa as “the pregnant lady” from the expo, which was super amazing!! They helped gather up some of the snacks and we all went back to have a sit and just take in some of the finishers still coming in. We rested and relaxed and talked and took pictures, but the race was winding down and we had to still make the walk to wherever Cathy parked the car. She knew. We didn’t. We had been running when she transported herself to that finish line from the start. So, we gathered everything up…and started walking…but not before taking some photos near the finish line.
So, my official results of the Kauai Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:46:27. That’s amazing to me! For real! Is it my fasted half marathon time this year? Nope. Sadly, I think that belongs to Dopey. HA!! How does this happen to me? I race before a race before a race, and still pull off a fast time. But this is a tough, tough course, and to say I did it in less than half the time it took me to struggle through the full…total win! I was 63/1561 finishers overall! That’s top 100!! I was the 15/992 women to cross the finish line. And I was 5/143 people in the my age division! I seem to be clinging to this 5th place benchmark these days. I am not satisfied with it. LOL!
Oh…and we ran into Bart Yasso again too. He asked me how I did, and I told him I was the 15th female overall. And he was totally happy for me and so genuine, as he always is. This is one of many reasons why I refer to him as my “Running BFF.” From there, we went back to the resort to shower and change…and we headed out to the Kauai Coffee Plantation that day…and it was the perfect ending to a race day. That and the pho we ate later that night at a random establishment we found in a strip mall. But I might save that for another post.
Tomorrow, I’m making my way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and I’m homebound….
Sorry. I really am someone who can turn a statement into lyrics without even trying. It’s a gift.
For real though…I’m making my way up to Columbus, Ohio tomorrow. And…it may not be why you think.
Yep…it’s Columbus Marathon/Half Marathon weekend. And yes…I’ll be in Columbus. But I’m not racing. I’m not even registered for the races. Why am I in a city with a major event going on but not taking advantage of the chance to add to my race medal collection?
Because I’m seeing Phil Collins.
Yep…Sussudio…In The Air Tonight…You’ll Be In My Heart…used to head the band Genesis…Phil Collins.
And that’s pretty exciting to this girl who owned like…every album he put out growing up. I mean…I saw Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper earlier this year…and have Elton John next week…
How old am I?
I also get to hang with my friend Jenn…who it feels like I haven’t seen in ages. And Cathy is insisting on a trip to Schmidt’s Sausage Haus while we’re there. They are home of the 1/2 pound cream puff and a variety of sausages. None of this applies to me, mind you. But, don’t worry…I’ll eat a salad and/or some of the sides there. I won’t starve. And I’ll devour all the Pink Salad I can get my hands on at Jenn’s. YUMMY!
All that being said…YES…I will at least stop by the expo and scope out the booths and the vendors and wish people luck. I mean…I’ll be in town. I might have to do some shopping there too. The rest of the weekend…well, we’ll see what we feel like doing. I’m sure a few Half Price Books stops are going to happen for sure.
Can’t wait to hit the road tomorrow. And, yes…being me…I’ve packed a dinner so as not to have to stop. If the traffic gods are with us…we will have time to swing by Jenn’s house and drop stuff off before heading to the concert. Otherwise…we’ll see her afterwards.
Did I mention it feels like ages since we last hung out?
Time to get those Weekend at Jenn’s rolling again. It’s a good escape.
Oy. That was a tough one. Needless to say…my runs have not only proven to me that I’m sort of stuck at a certain pace or higher (MEH!), but that I am lacking in endurance, especially as the weather warms up. Also…as a point…I had to give up a fall half marathon I had been hoping to run, but this one was far enough of away from a goal race that I was good to go on this one.
Here’s the thing. I LOVE THIS RACE! For real. The Geist Half Marathon in 2014 holds my half marathon PR (almost 10 minutes faster than this time – 1:38:52)…and that was a difficult course. I think I was in much better shape then. HA! But…it was a goal this year to press on into a new race PR, specifically in the half marathon distance. This was supposed to go down at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon at the beginning of the month…but things went downhill quickly on that one and my goal slipped, rather quickly, out of my reach.
This race is a beautiful one. You run through the gorgeous neighborhoods of Fishers, Indiana. You run the reservoir, which is stunning. It’s just fun. And…guess what…it wasn’t the race I expected, but damn…I had fun on this one!
Let’s start with Friday…
It was difficult to get away from work early as my roommate’s teammate took the day off at last minute, leaving her to cover for him. Our best chance was to escape around 3:30 pm. The plan was to place a call into Dragon King’s Daughter for sushi to pick up and take with us in the car. Sushi is great travel food, by the way! We got out, but our order wasn’t quite ready at the restaurant, so we waited around near the bar while they finished it up. I loved that they included a little take-away container of the gluten-free soy sauce for me. This is why I continue to return to Dragon King’s Daughter. This also proved to me that sushi is not the magic race food I was toting it up to be. Dang it. I thought I was onto something.
You failed me, sushi!!
The drive up to Indianapolis was uneventful and traffic actually wasn’t bad. Normally we hit bad traffic heading into the Nobelsville/Fishers area. Not this time. But it was getting late into the evening…we were after 6 pm and just now getting into the area to get to the expo and pick up my packet. From past experiences, we know that the expo has little to offer, but you have to walk through it in order to get your bib and then your race shirt. No biggie. We parked at St. Vincent’s Fishers Hospital and walked inside to the Visitors Waiting Area/Food Court entrance, which is where the expo was being held. It was raining at this point. Naturally. And we were supposed to be battling thunderstorms the following morning…but we were hoping that it would hold off.
On my way toward the back to pick up my bib, I heard someone say my name. I turned…and there was Jay…another Nuun Ambassador!! I love seeing familiar faces. We gave hugs and spoke for a moment, but then, I was back on track to pick up my bib number.
I was bib 24. I had to go to the very end. Why the low number? Because I was doing the offered 26.2 Half Marathon Challenge. What is this challenge? Well…the description said: Run another half marathon (or marathon!) in March, April, or May prior to Geist, and then complete the Geist Half Marathon on May 19th! I had done half marathons in March, April and May…so using Geist as the required last half marathon in the challenge was totally in my grasp. Why not? And it got me VIP Access post-race as well. It only cost $49 to throw my name into the challenge and that got me a 26.2 Half Marathon Challenge jacket, a special collector’s edition medal, the aforementioned VIP Access at Geist, and then two chances to win airfare, hotel and a free race entry to the March 2019 Publix Georgia Half Marathon in Atlanta. I’m pretty certain I didn’t win that…as I’ve never heard otherwise. Dang it. OH…the most exciting part of this was when I did go to pick up my race shirt, only to discover it is a tech material hoodie. I LOVE HOODIES!! Day…made.
Since the expo is really small, we had walked through it on the way to get everything…so we left right after getting the hoodie. Still raining. We were off to the hotel for the night, just a short drive up the road…the Holiday Inn Express Nobelsville.
Check-in went smooth. Cathy unloaded the car while I got the key. Cathy spotted the free coffee and said when she brought the luggage cart back down she’d check for decaf coffee (her favorite nightly tradition). We unpacked the cart and she went to scope stuff out while I turned on the traditional Food Network for some Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives viewing while we relaxed and I foam rolled. I laid out my intended race clothes (the humidity was going to be stupid the following morning) and then…lights out.
Race morning dawns…and while I’m changing in the bathroom, Cathy turns on the weather. When I came out, she said, “The weather looks SO much better this morning.” She wasn’t wrong. The rain was now going to hold off until later in the morning. If I ran well…I could beat it in. That being said…the caveat was still that it was going to be 97% humidity during the race. That was going to be a sweat-fest for sure.
The Geist Half Marathon has a 7 am start time. That’s early. But I was grateful for it due to the humidity. We packed up our stuff to head out and noticed that the complimentary breakfast was open slightly early. It’s usually open at 6, but they opened up early for the runners. That was awesome. Kudos to the hotel. Cathy grabbed a light breakfast and I snagged a banana. She ate. And then…we got into the car and made it to the school where we always park the car and walk to the start line.
I was able to snag a 10 minute power nap…which just consisted of me closing my eyes. No real sleep actually happened. But then…I knew the walk to the start needed to happen. So, I got out of the car, tossed on my NYC Half Marathon jacket (in case the morning air was chilly) and we began the one mile hike down to the start line area. On the way, my NYC Half Marathon jacket was spotted by a nice guy (and super fast) runner named Tim. I know a lot of fast runners named Tim. We talked the entire walk and wished each other luck as we both went to find spots for the start. There was still a little bit of time ahead of that, so Cathy got a photo of me, still in the NYC Half Marathon jacket with the start line. Then…I handed it off to her and went to go stand and stretch in the corral. And lo and behold…I ran into a familiar face once again…JAY!! It was good to have someone to talk to and chat with at the start line. Normally I’m good making friends but here…built in friend! Love it.
We wished each other luck and then…the start of the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon started all at once. And, with a wave to Cathy just past the start line…I took off at a comfortably hard pace.
My training plan wanted me to do this race in over 2 hours. I. HATE. THIS. ABOUT. MY. TRAINING. PLAN. Needless to say, I tossed that plan out the window that morning, because I was now playing “Beat the Thunderstorms.”
The air was incredibly thick with humidity that morning. Like…breathing through a wet towel kind of humid. So, before I even made the first turn after Mile 1, my pigtails were already damp and I could feel the sweat on my skin. This is not a PR course as it is (never mind the fact that this race holds my my PR half marathon time), but it was also not PR weather. Water stops were happening immediately for some. I carry my own fuel/water/electrolytes, regardless, so I only stop if it gets unbearable.
Here is what I love about this race. It’s beautiful. You get to run through the gorgeous neighborhoods in Fishers, Indiana near the Geist Reservoir. The 5K goes along a different course, but the 10K and Half Marathon runners are together for the first 3 miles of the race. It’s after we duck out of a neighborhood and turn onto Fall Creek Road that we get to take our first pass over the Geist Reservoir bridge. The 10K peels off to the left to go to the turnaround point, while the Half Marathon runners stay to the right and keep on pressing forward. It’s back into the neighborhoods and around part of a round-about. And around Mile 5, I remember high-fiving some children at the bottom of a driveway. It was fantastic. I was having a blast. There is something to be said, when you know your speed is down, but you can’t stop having a good time. That’s what this race does for me EVERY. TIME.
The halfway point came and I went ahead and took the HoneyStinger gel (everything new on race day! I had never tried these before) that I had randomly at home. I was out of my normal Hammer gels…so why not try it. I felt an immediate surge of energy, and I actually did pick it up. In the humidity though, it was short-lived. There were, thankfully plenty of water stations along the course and even some sprinklers/cooling stations that could mist water over you. LOVE. So, my pace didn’t start failing me as soon as it did at the Indy Mini…but this was where I did start slowing down, heading into Mile 9. And Mile 9 happens right at the base of a large hill. There were some women out there who were just amazing…very encouraging to the runners and just cheering them up the hill. Some people walked. I did last year, but my legs feel strong…just slow. I pressed up the hill. From about Mile 7-11, I was pretty much following a very strong woman who was just very steady in her pace. Rabbit, rabbit. I passed her, just after we crossed back over the Geist Reservoir and ran the last 3 miles of the course backwards back to the finish line/start line. At this point, if there was water, I was snagging it or running through it. I was pouring it over my head, knowing that in order to keep running and going, keeping cool was going to be key.
I knew I was running smart, but I was also trying to pick it up. I never once glanced at my watch to check my pace, because, honestly, I didn’t care. I felt better than I did at the Indy Mini…so there is that. The final mile is straight down the road, and when you hear the crowd and see that finish line…it’s just amazing. I did manage to pick my pace up for a strong finish. I crossed the finish line…arms barely capable of going up over my head…but I was done.
The 10K race bibs were silver and the Half Marathon bibs were gold…but since I was doing the 26.2 Half Marathon Challenge…my bib was silver with a low number. The woman who was going to give me a medal went to hang a 10K medal on my neck and I stopped her and said, “No…no…I did the half.” She was very apologetic, remarking that she thought all the half bibs were gold. So…volunteers were apparently unaware of the challenge bibs being a different color. It was quickly fixed and the GIANT Geist Half Marathon medal found it’s way around my neck. Then, the woman I had been chasing for most of the race came up behind me and we congratulated each other, thanked each other for the push, and fist-bumped. LOVE the running community.
Cathy met up with me and we decided to head toward the after party area. We had time and the storms were holding off. On the way there, we ran into Tim again. He had a good race even in the humidity…so that’s fantastic. We high-fived and I went to head to the VIP area to get my additional medal and jacket (the medal is plexiglass and the jacket is sort of like a cheap wind-breaker/rain jacket…but it works!)…and then I went to get a massage. Apparently, I am a WRECK. I should really look into massages post and pre race because there were so many spots on my neck and shoulders and back that this poor massage therapist had to really work to get the tension/knots to release. I’ve always been told I’m a train wreck anytime I get a massage. They aren’t lying.
After I had my massage, I put my VIP Access to good use. I went over to the Oliver Winery booth and got a Mimosa to enjoy. I don’t drink much or often, but this was nice and Oliver wine is one of my favorites. It’s SO good. And I snagged the free beer for Cathy. We sat at a table, enjoying not moving for a moment…drinking before 9:30 am. It was great. There was a guy who was dancing…the entire time there. It was amazing. People would join him, he’d get people to join him. The music was wonderful. I was able to eat some fruit…it was good. It was definitely worth getting the VIP Access for this race. I really recommend it for anyone who has thought about doing this race or perhaps have passed on doing VIP in the past. I thought this was worth it. No disappointment here.
After a little while, we knew that if I was going to catch a shower before meeting up with our friend Greg for lunch that afternoon…we needed to get back to the hotel. We headed out to make the mile walk to the car. I called my mom during the walk to let her know how I did and we just chatted the entire way to the car. Back at the hotel, Cathy went to fetch me coffee and a luggage cart while I showered. She packed and got everything ready…and I had time to sit and use my foam roller while drinking coffee before we actually needed to check out and head on our way.
It was nice to have time to relax and just…savor everything from the morning. I was still smiling. This is my slowest half marathon of the 2018 season thus far…and yet…I think this was the one where I had the most fun. I enjoyed every…humid…step.
We were heading to Hops & Fire to eat lunch with Greg. I got the exact same thing I got when I went here after the Indy Mini…the Vegan and Gluten Free Caprese Sandwich with Fries. And we all split an order of the Gluten Free Onion Rings. And then we hit up Half Price Books and a Comic Book Store before needing to hit the road to get home, unwind, give me time to stretch and then head out to the Louisville City FC soccer match that night back in Louisville. Busy day. But a full day. And a day full of smiles.
So, my official results of the Geist Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:45:28. I’ll take it. I thought I was having a better race than the Indy Mini…but I think the humidity got me more here, even if it happened later on in the race. Or my endurance has just gone to crap at the moment. Or a combination of the two. Who knows? That being said, I was 87/869 finishers overall! Top 100 this year. Also…this was half the finishers of number when I ran it 2 years ago. I hope the chance of storms just kept people away because this is honestly a great race. I was the 17/420 women to cross the finish line. And I was 5/74 people in the my age division! Inching closer to an age group award. In 2014, I was 4th. In 2016, I was 6th. This time I was 5th. One day…one day it will be my time!
Major question of importance…will the course of the Throo The Zoo 5K ever actually be a 5K? Because…once again I didn’t even hit 3 miles for this race. In fact, when I crossed the finish line, my watch read 2.99 miles. I know it’s not hard to measure a course. I’m not even good at running tangents, but…come on. I do give it a pass because it is a zoo run and it is supposed to be fun…but I swear…move the start line back or the finish line out just a little bit…and GOLDEN!
So…I was talked into doing the Throo The Zoo 5K by my good friend, Melissa. She had a team started for the race and made sure to inform me that…hey…they have finisher’s medals this year because…it was their 25th anniversary of the race. So…I signed up. We all know how much I LOVE 5K races right? *sarcasm*
I am NOT a sprinter. Not one bit. Not at all. This is why I have NO finishing kick at the end of races. If I am sprinting…I’m done a the end. My energy is spent. Maybe this is because I didn’t grow up a runner…I don’t know. But…5Ks are not my forte nor something that I actually enjoy running.
But…they do make for good speed play. And it’s a fun way to do speed work, as I am an avid hater of doing anything that means pushing hard and then recovering. LOL! I can’t help it. Speed work and treadmills are what injure me. So I’m reluctant to do either.
Also…Saturday is my “long” run day and I had 81 minutes on tap for that morning. I also hate training by time. But I’ve made that known from the start. My plan was to run for an hour ahead of the race…pause and drive to the zoo…and then finish up my long run with the race itself. My original plan had been to finish up my run after the race, but it was going to be very hot that day and once the sun came out…I probably would have died. I normally love training in the heat, but this year it’s not working so well for me. MEH.
The night before, I met up with Melissa and Paul for sushi at Dragon King’s Daughter (sushi is my new pre-race BFF…at least for now)…and then we went back to the apartment so that Cathy could apply KT tape.
I needed to stretch and roll and then sleep because I needed to wake up early enough to fit in a sweaty 60 minutes of running, change, eat, get to the zoo…and then see what I could do. So…that’s what I did.
Morning was an early alarm for me. I suited up, put on my Nox Gear Tracer 360 and head lamp and headed out for some easy paced miles. I am working very hard on keeping my long runs and easy runs slower more consistently. Slowing down has never been my forte. I am a work in progress there. After just over an hour of running (I like round numbers so I went over the time to get to a perfect mileage number), I had 8 miles under my belt and went inside to stretch out, eat, and change into clothes for the race. I decided to ditch the tank top and wear a crop because I was dying in a tank top before the sun came up and with the race starting at 8 am…the sun would be up and if the Indy Mini taught me anything it was if I overheat…I’m done.
I fixed up my protein shake using my OWYN protein powder (coffee flavored) with my Four Sigmatic Cordycep Mushroom Elixir and took it on the road with me for the drive to the zoo. That would be my fuel for this race as I seem to forget to buy bananas these days. This was new…but doing new things on race day seems to be my thing this year. I have no idea why. I drank it on the way there, but soon, Cathy and I were stuck in the zoo traffic and barely moving. The race start time was quickly approaching and we still had about a half mile to go. We quickly made the decision to park in the Kroger parking lot and make the walk to the zoo. It made for a nice warmup anyway, right?
Traffic is usually an issue, but it has never been this bad. But with the promise of a medal at the end, the 5K sold out and…yeah…it was a mess. Melissa was apparently in the zoo round-a-bout and no moving. So…we weren’t alone. In fact, we got to the start line before she and Paul did. Which is CRAZY!
As I was standing around waiting for the race start, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to pee (I mean, I rehydrated with Nuun, and then drank a protein shake…and I really did need to pee, but port-a-potty lines were RIDICULOUS)…which seemed to work. And then I saw Laura!! Laura and I talked and we’ve started making some plans to do long runs together this summer…so that will be fun. Start time was approaching, so I shed my Run The Bluegrass hoodie and went to line up with Laura at the start.
We both noted the lack of certain regulars at this race…which could be a good thing in the end for us. HA! We also noted a lot of kids lining up at the front of the start…which race officials specifically asked NOT to do…but…I mean…it’s the zoo. It is a safety concern though. That being said, one of said kids was like…pretty close to being one of the first in…and he was 12 so…I mean…some do deserve it, but others probably should have moved back. Especially since the road this starts on is narrow and crowded at the start.
Speaking of the start…a random airhorn went off prior to the race…and it really just confused all of us at the start line. It was not the official start. But now that everyone was ready and prepared…the official start was counted down by the emcee on the microphone at the start line. And with a simple…”GO”…we were off and running.
I kept my training shoes on (they are heavier than my racing shoes) to help me better pace myself this race. The first mile was spent on the narrow-ish Illinois Avenue, just outside of the Louisville Zoo. My legs still felt good at this point, surprisingly, after my miles that morning, so I just worked on running comfortably hard. I wasn’t going to all-out sprint it…but I wanted to see how much I could push myself. The first turn takes us into the entrance at the back of the zoo. Last year, I remembered rocky areas and my Newton shoes would get stones stuck in the lugs. This year…I kept my Adidas Boston Boosts on to prevent this from happening. Glad I did…because the rocky section was just the start. Further into the race, construction was happening in this first mile and there was a big section on the path that was stones and loose rocks. I made a good decision to wear the heavier shoes. We hit Mile 1 soon after hitting this parking lot area of the zoo, pass the water stop and zig-zag up a hill and head back into the zoo. I could hear a lot of people coaching some younger runners near me. “Try to run faster. You have to run faster.” UGH. Let them have fun.
Back into the zoo and we get some fun rolling hills. I was now in the presence of a man with a running stroller. He was running strong, but one of the steep uphills inside the zoo slowed him down to a walk. For most of the rest of the race…I could hear him talking to his child about the animals that were out and about my socks. I literally was steps ahead of him for the rest of the race. Here we can see walkers heading into the first mile and it’s this fun area where the late wave and the first wave get to meet. Some of them cheer and send out encouragement, which is nice. And the zoo employees that are stationed around are also amazing for that too. Mile 2 hits around the start of the African Outpost section of the zoo. And my watch beeped a little after the mark. Here we go again.
I didn’t once glance at my watch, because I never do when running, so why start during races. But I could feel the strength and energy draining as the hills continued and we hit the worst of them all…Gorilla Hill. This is a long and winding climb that does take runners out of the zoo for the final sprint to the finish. I was slowing down on the hill, and when the flat road came back as we all came out to the parking lot to finish, I couldn’t find a finishing kick. Well, I never have one anyway, but there was nothing left. I did manage to get shout-outs from Howard, Matt, Amy, and others who ran to the race to cheer on finishers. So that was amazing. They could recognize me this time because I had on fun socks and colorful shorts. I learned my lesson after KDF. HA!!
So, I ran it through to the finish, my watch never even beeping for a third mile. MEH. Oh well. And that guy with the stroller…he passed me in the final straight-away. Naturally. I finished the race and received a medal and magnet…then moved out of the way to wait for Cathy to join me. I told her I needed to round up my mileage so I did a short jog in circles in the grass before grabbing some water, a banana, and going to stand at the finish line to wait on Melissa and Paul to finish. Cathy told me that I was the 6th female in, so that guaranteed me an age group award. That was exciting. It was just a matter of where I placed for it.
They weren’t too far behind me and we cheered them in to the finish line. We went to meet up with them afterwards. Cathy went to grab them both water and Gatorade and then get their official finishing times for them. They both had a good race and Melissa was about to head out for her 2nd 5K that morning with the Girls on the Run girls she had been coaching.
As Cathy and I had nowhere else to be and my running was now done for the day, we waitited with Paul to cheer in Melissa’s mom, who signed up at the last minute to walk it. She did great and actually beat her time goal. WOOHOO!! And then I won a door prize randomly…which ended up being Louisville Bats tickets and some chicken place gift cards (these are of no use for me, but I’ll take the baseball tickets).
The announcers started to do age group awards, so I wandered over that way, but they ended up pausing halfway through for the costume contest awards. I wandered back over the shade of the tree where everyone was huddled and just talked a little bit and laughed a lot. And when age group awards resumed, I missed the first ones, and I suddenly heard my age group announced with me as coming in first.
WOOHOO! I hurried that way to go claim my certificate. I definitely wasn’t expecting that result as I ran this race faster last year and came in 2nd in my age group. And I haven’t felt very fast as of late. So…after running 8 miles prior to the race itself…this was a pleasant surprise indeed.
Afterwards, Cathy and I left to make the walk back to the car and head to brunch. We hit up North End Café for a Basic Breakfast and some chill time. Later that afternoon, we were headed out to a wine tasting with our friend Michelle, so this was fuel to get us through to that. And I made sure to get some protein for some much needed recovery as well.
And the winery…that was a whole lot of fun!
So, the official results of the Throo The Zoo 5K is that I finished the race in 22:58…with the course being short AGAIN this year. I hope that gets fixed in the future. I slowed down each mile and Gorilla Hill was a struggle, but I’ll take this time with over an hour of running ahead of the race itself. I was 54/2589 finishers overall. I was the 6/1685 female finishers. And I was 1/239 people in my age division! Maybe my endurance is coming back. I hope to get heat adapted sooner rather than later so I can endure a bit more, but I’m pretty proud of this result when all is said and done.