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Archive for November, 2012

Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 22, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast - New Albany, Indiana

Me crossing the finish line of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, Indiana

Race: Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: November 22, 2012

Time: 38:24

A week ago, I had gone out on a five mile run, taking the route that I’ve been doing a majority of my five mile runs on…the route that the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast happens on.  And each time that I have run it, I have come up close to…but not quite beating my fastest five mile time to date, which I set back on June 16 at the Activate America 5 Miler in Frankfort, Kentucky.  I told Cathy, that morning after I got back from my run, that by next year, I hoped to run a five mile race in under 40 minutes.

She told me…I’d do it long before then.

And I laughed.  No…I literally shook my head, laughed, and went back to making breakfast.  I think I underestimate myself…

Fast forward to…Thanksgiving morning.

Now, most places on Thanksgiving have Turkey Trots and Drumstick Dashes and other fun Thanksgiving themed runs.  Here in New Albany, Indiana, we have the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast.  Which, doesn’t sound like a typical Thanksgiving run…but trust me…this happens to be THE Thanksgiving run.  I participated in it last year (finishing in 44:48), making it my first official running of this New Albany tradition.  And also lead me to discover that this is, without doubt, the least stressful race that I compete in all year.


Because it starts and finishes at the Floyd County 4H Fairgrounds…which just happen to be located across the street from my apartment complex.  On Thanksgiving morning, I can sleep in a little.  Get up in enough time to eat some cereal, change into running gear, stretch, and then step outside and walk across the street to mingle with the crowd a little, stretch some more, get accustomed to the weather (last year, I was in long pants and a jacket…this year…shorts!).  After I finish, I can just meander back to my apartment, hop in the shower, and finish getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner without feeling rushed or stressed.  Best race, logistically, for me.

And that was exactly how my morning went.  Cathy and I walked out the door about 30 minutes before the start of the race.  Already, our apartment complex’s main drive was filling up with parked vehicles of runners who were showing up for the race.  Trust me…this is no small happening.  Last year 880 people participated in the event.  This year, they were expecting a record number of runners…and the area didn’t disappoint.  The Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast brought out 960 finishers this year.  HUGE!!

And somehow, within those 960 racers, plus their friends and family who came to cheer them on…I get found by the people who spotted me in Hershey when I was there for the half marathon.  They saw the sign, once again.  Turns out they were also at the Hot Chocolate 15K as well.  They even looked for my sign…but didn’t see it.  SO funny!  I really need to get their names at the next race I participate in and see them.  Only seems right.

Anyway…it was in the mid-40s on Thanksgiving morning, so I decided I would wear shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt.  Actually, I toyed with the idea of a short sleeve tech shirt and probably would have been just fine in that.  But it was a bit chilly at the start of the race.  I just tend to warm up faster than I think I will.

Soon after I shucked my jacket and finished a few stretches, runners were already making their way up to the line of white tape that crossed the entire street that we start on.  It was just before the drive leading to my apartment complex.  Like I said…I use this route on my five mile training runs, so I felt really prepared to tackle the myriad of hills that this course would offer at different points.  Feeling so strongly about the run, I actually moved pretty far up (not in the front, mind you, but a few rows back) near the start line.  All around me, runners were talking about their plans for the day, or upcoming runs, or what they were going to have for Thanksgiving.  It was just a really good vibe and I could feel the electricity of the crowd.  It can really lift a runner up when those around them are having a good time as well.

Soon, the announcement about the start of the race was being made over the bullhorn.  Now, this is not officially a closed course, so as a personal choice, I didn’t run with my iPod or headphones.  I do believe I run better when I have my music, but I am a safety first kind of person, and while there is a police presence out there helping with traffic control…the fact that there is still traffic and vehicles that pass by, I choose not to listen to music on this run.  I didn’t last year either for the same reason.  Despite this, there was so much commotion and conversation going on with all the runners that I couldn’t hear what was being said anyway.  All I know is that the front line of runners hunched down to take their marks…so it was almost go time.

A horn sounded.  And off we went.

So, last year when I ran the Fast Freddie for the first time, I ran this route for the first time.  What I didn’t know then was how hilly this course is.  When you drive it in a car, you don’t even realize it.  But when you are racing up these inclines and hills…yeah…you suddenly take note of them.  I remembered this…and this past year have embraced running some of this course to get used to the hills.  When New Albany installed sidewalks down Grant Line Road, I could now run the entire route, safely.  And by doing so, I trained my legs not to fear those hills, but to power up them.

Within the first mile, we tackle one of the steeper ones.  This one actually comes within the first half mile.  It is so close to the start of the race that it’s enough to strike fear into some of the first-timers.  Runners are sent up an incline leading to a bridge that crosses over the highway.  I’ve done this portion of the run more times than I can count…coming from both sides of the bridge.  I do not fear this hill.  I use this as a challenge as often as I can.  And on the Fast Freddie, despite my legs being a bit cold from the slight chill in the air…I powered up it just as I would have in a training run.  I ran down the rest of Green Valley Road to the turn onto Mount Tabor.  Here we tick off Mile 1.  And it was there that I noticed the clock said 7 minutes and some-odd seconds and I knew I had gone out fast.  Faster than my training runs even.

Going into Mile 2 is a mostly flat course, with just a couple of minor, rolling hills.  Nothing that is too challenging to say the least.  It is probably the easiest of the miles to run.  The entire length of Mount Tabor Road is run, and then racers are directed onto Grant Line Road.  Here, we pass by Mile 2 and make our way to Sam Peden Community Park.  We turn onto Alex Thorn Drive and we encounter a water stop, just outside the fire department.  I bypassed it, aiming to tackle the incline leading into the park.  It doesn’t look like much…but it is quite tough to get up.  I know…I do it pretty often.

Mile 3 is halfway through the park.  Last year, this was where a horrible side stitch got me and I had to slow my pace a little until it passed.  I didn’t walk though.  This year, I flew by it without an issue at all.  I was no longer even looking at the clocks, I was just running.  Like I said, I made a point to run this course often.  The park is one of my favorite places to run anyway…especially on weekend mornings before a lot of people are up.  It’s quite and peaceful.  And with the small, rolling hills, a little challenging without being too hard.  But after Mile 3 we hit the most difficult portion of the run.

Runners leave Sam Peden Community Park via Schell Lane.  Schell Lane offers a nice variety of hills.  Not small rolling inclines.  No.  When I say HILLS, I mean HILLS.  And we get just over a half mile of them.  It’s nice, because you start off with a slight downhill.  But then you meet your first uphill.  Not much of a downhill follows that and then it’s back up a hill.  Here you do get a downhill run, but the next (and last) huge hill you run up is quite steep.  On my training runs, I always congratulate myself for reaching the top.  No…I really do.  I did the same during the race.  It’s not easy running Schell Lane.  I always tell myself when I get to that portion that it just means the worst part is almost over.

As a reward, as you head into Mile 4, you get a nice downhill run on Daisy Lane.  I love this part.  The downhill gives my legs a little bit of a reprieve, because I tend not to push on the downhills, just let myself go with the momentum, while keeping some control.  I don’t want to get injured, so I try to reign in the urge to just fly.  It levels off though and the rest of Daisy Lane means you really have to push.  But, at the end of Daisy Lane, you come back onto Green Valley Road and soon you only have the last half mile to go.

That is an amazing feeling.  If you are familiar with the area, then you know that last half mile doesn’t take too long to run.  It’s just past the Catholic cemetery, and from there, you can even see the Floyd County 4H Fairgrounds.  The finish line awaited.  So, I pushed a little more.  I pushed because last year I had so many people passing me and this year…I didn’t want that.  I pushed because I knew I could.  I’d done it before.  I’d done it countless times.  I knew every up and down of this stretch of road better than any other in New Albany.  Every outdoor run ends with this portion.  So…I ran my heart out.

I turned into the 4H Fairgrounds and could see my sign near the finish line.  Cathy was cheering me on.  I noted the clock at 38 minutes.  I was doing so much better than even I anticipated.  I gave it my all and crossed the finish line in 38:24.  I paused my Garmin and continued through the chute in the order I finished, handing off the bottom of my race bib and rounding through only to spot Cathy already waiting for me on the other side.  Biggest (and best) surprise was that she brought my water bottle with her.  She apparently saw me off, took stuff back to the apartment, grabbed some water and was back at the finish line to cheer me on.  See…it really is the least stressful race of all year.  She’ll agree with me on that in a heartbeat.  She handed me the water and took my card I was handed to fill out for a chance to win prizes in the raffle.

Me with Santa at the awards ceremony for the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

Me with Santa at the awards ceremony for the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

We decided to stick around for the raffle as well as the awards…because, despite it being Thanksgiving…I love doing that.  I grabbed a couple of extra water bottles, took a short walk, then went inside the main building of the Floyd County 4H Fairgrounds.  There were only a few people inside, so we went over to look at the records and past winners.  Then scoped out the cool trophies for the top finishers.  It was fun.  I finished all the water and we got to see the top three men and top three women get their awards.  Raffles were handed out.  I spotted Santa and got my picture taken with him.  And then age group awards were given.

Afterwards, no stress of trying to get out of a parking lot and get on the road.  We simply walked across the street and headed back to our apartment building.  From there, I took a quick shower and got to work on the vegetable dish I was bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.

Later that afternoon, the results were up on the page.  I immediately pulled them up and got to share that moment with my roommate and her family.

Official results of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast are that I finished it in 38:24!  Yes…my fastest 5 mile time to date.  And yes, my roommate earned the right to tell me that she told me so when it came to finishing a 5 mile race in less than 40 minutes.  I figured I could do it, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.  I was 173/960 overall; 7/79 in my division.  Results for just the women runners haven’t been posted yet.  I am surprised, to say the last.  When last year I was ranking 437 overall…jumping up to 173 is a TOTAL improvement.  In my division last year, I was 18/78 runners.  When I can compare results like that…I really can see how my training, and my podiatrist (since my injury) have helped make me a better runner.  I’ve been running outside more.  I’ve been diligent with my miles and listening to my body.  I’ve come back from a crippling injury and become a fighter and a stronger runner due to it.

And on Thanksgiving…I had reason to give thanks for the chance to be able to run…and the gift of the run.  And I’m thankful for all of you…who cheer me on either at the races, or over the miles and the Internet.

For as long as I live in this area, I intend to make the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast a Thanksgiving tradition.

And maybe…just maybe…I’ll keep on improving.


Hot Chocolate 15K – Columbus, OH (November 18, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Hot Chocolate 15K - Columbus, Ohio

Me crossing the finish line of the Hot Chocolate 15K – Columbus, Ohio

Race: Hot Chocolate 15K/5K

Place: Columbus, Ohio

Date: November 18, 2012

Time: 1:13:28

There is just something about running for chocolate, I guess, that makes me move faster than I ever imagined possible.  That seems to be my mojo when it comes to races that involve chocolate.  Honestly.  The last two races I have run that have involved some sort of chocolate at the end have turned out my fastest times yet.  I think I see a pattern, yes?

But, once again, I am getting ahead of myself.

I was so excited to see a race on a weekend that I was going to be in Columbus, Ohio.  Nevermind that I was going to be about two hours away the night before seeing a concert.  Why take that into consideration?  After all…this was the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K race.  Hot chocolate.  You get hot chocolate and chocolate fondu with goodies at the end.  Seriously!!  It came down to which distance I wanted to do that day.  In the end…I chose the 15K.

Packet pick-up was held on Friday and Saturday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.  We went down there Saturday morning…and after getting lost in a sea of ballroom gowns and dancers, we finally found the small expo where I could get my number and my goodie bag.  The swag for this one was cool…a windbreaker.  I was pretty excited to be getting a jacket instead of a shirt.  However, in the end, Cathy purchased a long-sleeve tech shirt for me too.  And I love it.  After that…it was off to run a few errands, go back to Jenn’s, get ready to leave for Cleveland, meet up with friends for dinner, enjoy a concert…and drive back that night.  The following morning…I would run.  It occurred to me that choosing to do this race might not have been the best idea I ever had.  But, I was committed to it now.

It was really early on Sunday morning and I was at my friend Jenn’s house.  While I often wake up at 5:40 a.m. (or earlier) for races, this one was difficult to get up for.  Why?  Because I had been up in Cleveland, Ohio the night before at The Monkees concert.  The drive back to Columbus got us back to Jenn’s by around 1:30 a.m. or so.  We all immediately got ready for bed and it was near 2:00 a.m. when that happened.  A couple hours of sleep and my cell phone blared my GO RUN! alarm.  I was out of bed, shambling toward the bathroom with my race day clothes and talking myself into actually going.  I love to race, but I was dead on my feet and I knew it was a cold morning.  Sometimes it’s hard to get started when those are your conditions.

But…I managed.  Made my way downstairs to eat the cereal I brought with me and get the race bag packed up and ready to go.  I made sure that Cathy had a Luna Bar to eat while I ran.  Just cereal for breakfast is not an option.  I grabbed my Smart Water from the fridge and began to just get a few things together while sipping some water to make sure I was hydrated…without drinking too much.  I am a princess…and the thought of having to use a port-a-pottie is not a pleasant one for me.  Jenn made it downstairs…had a light breakfast as well and got a few things together.  I went to brush my teeth then get my bib number pinned onto my front.

The big debate now came.  Do I bring the hydration belt or not?  This was actually my first 15K distance race.  I have pretty much covered everything else under a half marathon distance.  It would be 9.3 miles when all was said and done.  I know I’ve run that far without my hydration belt before, but it was cold…and I still have yet to get that thing to sit right on my waist so it doesn’t bounce and try to move around to the front.  In the end…I left it behind this time and said I’d just make use of the water stops.  There were four of them along the course, so I wouldn’t have to worry about becoming dehydrated.  When the weather turns cold, that can be a major problem as most runners won’t even realize that they are dehydrated.

With all that said and done…we shambled out into the cold morning to get in the car and make our way downtown to the Hot Chocolate 15K.  We expected this to be an easy commute…and for the most part…it was.  That is until we got near the race area.  Then…then it got a little congested.  Lights would change and lanes wouldn’t move.  We knew where we wanted to park but it literally took forever to get there.  It was 7:20 a.m. when we finally got to the parking garage and I was already eating my pre-race banana.  Yes.  In the car.

We parked and began to make our way up the stairs of the parking garage to the street level.  We got there just in time to see a wave of runners take off.  Ah…the 5K was off and running already.  Sure enough…it was past 7:30 a.m. and their race was now starting.  We stepped outside so Cathy could snap some pictures and we cheered for the last few waves to go through the start gate.  We laughed at a couple of the costumes being worn by some of the runners.  With the 5K off and running, RAM Racing (the peeps putting on the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K) began to get set up to send the 15K runners off.

I didn’t have much time to get accustomed to the chill of the air…or stretch.  So as they began to put someone in place to hold the Corral G (my corral and the one that lead off the race) sign, I did a few important stretches to get my muscles a little warm.  I gave Jenn a hug and she sent me off with the traditional (and lucky) blessing of “Don’t pants your poop!  The power of Dean [Karnazes] compels you!”  I love Jenn!!  She always makes me laugh and can take the pressure and tension out of any situation with a simple phrase.  Cathy and I went toward where they were loading runners into Corral G.  She gave me a hug, took my warm fleece jacket from me, and told me to have fun and assured me that I was going to do great.  Cathy is awesome like that.  Even when I have doubts she makes it seem like this will be an easy run…just like training…just like a fun run.  No pressure.  Just go out and do what I love.  I honestly have some of the best peeps cheering for me.  Seriously.

The announcer at the start line was thankfully energetic and getting runners pumped up.  I actually needed that.  But as I hit the button on my Garmin to begin finding satellites, I was already starting to get excited for the run.  It’s hard not to when you have the energy of other racers around you.  Despite being chilly, it was a beautiful, sunny day in Columbus.  So, it would be a good run.  Actually, the temperature was a few degrees warmer than originally predicted.  I felt a bit overdressed in my long sleeve tech shirt with my running jacket over it.  In fact, I figured I was probably going to get too warm in it.  But…too late to change any of that.

The 8:00 a.m. start time crept closer and we soon had a countdown to go-time.  I started my iPod when it reached the 15 second mark.  And then…the horn sounded and we were off.  I passed Jenn and Cathy on the way through the Start gate, just after starting (and again, stopping…stupid gloves!) my Garmin.  I flashed a smile and a peace sign…and I was off.  And I restarted my Garmin a few steps down the way.

The first 5K of the race was spent running the length of North High Street.  This was a great stretch to run.  Only a few minor inclines…but mostly flat.  I hit the first mile marker and noticed the clock time was showing a fantastic, but fast, pace for me.  I thought to slow down, but my legs were feeling good and the cool weather was definitely assisting.  The first mile marker also was where the 5K run turned off of High Street.  The 15K runners were to continue on.  And I did.  Mile 2 flew by just as fast, again, the clock showing a better time than I was used to.  Mile 3 was next…and at the 5K mark, I had managed to clock my fastest 5K time to date (which doesn’t count as this is not a 5K race…but hitting 5K in 24:07 was an awesome feeling).  Yeah…I may have been tired and running on fatigued legs…but this race was agreeing with me.  I only worried that perhaps I was going out too fast.  I tend to do that at races and then I fade at the end.  Soon after the 5K line we began to wind and twist through small roads near and around The Ohio State campus.  Yeah.  There were quite a few turns made coming into Mile 4.

Just after Mile 4, I decided to make use of the water stop.  I ran past the Gatorade pushers and to where water was being handed out.  I managed to work my way toward the back and snag a cup (no easy task in knit gloves).  I sipped from it and then tossed the rest of it.  I just needed a little and I was back on the path and running.  The clock on Mile 5 was a bit screwed up, so I stopped paying attention to them after that.  I tend to do better when I run and not pay attention to my time.  Takes the pressure off.  Miles 5 and 6 ticked off in no time and I hit the 10K marker with my fastest 10K time to date as well (again…it wasn’t in an official 10K race…so no points for it…but hitting 10K with a time of 48:25 was thrilling!).  I made use of the water stop here as well, taking another few sips of water before continuing on.

All I had left ahead of me was a 5K race.

The last bit of the race always seems the longest.  I don’t know why.  But, I was going to make this happen.  Mile 7 and Mile 8 were flat and easy.  I bypassed the water stop there, but got caught up in the crowd.  And then…somewhere just at the start of Mile 9…we get a hill.  Yeah.  That’s just evil.  So, I push myself up the hill and just continue on.  I know I’m getting close because I’m running past the convention center.  I can hear announcements being made.  I round another corner and there it is…the Finish.  I can see runners going through and I pick up my pace as much as I can.  We all know that I am not a sprinter…so my finishes are never with a flourish of speed…but I do try to push harder at the end.  I passed by the DJ that was keeping the crowds going and the runners encouraged near the finish and blew on through, catching sight of Cathy and Jenn on the side, waving my sign and cheering.

My Finisher's Mug for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K with all the goodies included

My Finisher’s Mug for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K with all the goodies included

It felt great.  I paused my Garmin and walked over to where they were standing.  Cathy told me to make my way through the recovery area and meet them near the booths where they were handing out the Finisher’s Mug (yes…mug).  I managed to weave through other finishers and find them in the recovery area.  I tore the tag off the bottom of my race bib and went to retrieve my Finisher’s Mug.  I was handed a giant plastic mug that had hot chocolate in a cup in the middle, a well filled with fondu chocolate.  A full banana, a marshmallow, two vanilla wafer cookies, a Rice Krispie treat, and a square of chocolate.  Oh yes…I do love running for chocolate.

However, given my food allergies…I enjoyed the banana dipped in chocolate and the chocolate square.  I let Cathy and Jenn split the rest, which they happily did.  And they let me finish using the dipping chocolate first so there would be no cross-contamination.  My friends are awesome.  With our bellies happy and full of chocolate, we decided to call it a race well-run and return to Jenn’s so I could shower and we could think about heading out to grab a bite at P.F. Chang’s.

I would totally run in another Hot Chocolate 15K race in a heartbeat.  SO much fun.  If one comes to your area, I highly encourage you to sign up for it or the 5K and run for some chocolate goodness.  It’s fun.  I promise!

Official results of the Hot Chocolate 15K are that I finished it in 1:13:28!  That is now my benchmark for a PR in a 15K.  So when I run the Boilermaker in Utica, New York this coming July…I know what I’m aiming to beat.  I was 312/3021 overall; 129/2234 women; 24/347 in my division.  Do you even know how awesome those stats sound to me.  I am still surprised I could run that fast and that much on so little sleep and very tired legs.

Running for chocolate is always a good incentive to run.  I just seem to run faster when it’s involved.  Really had a great time at this race and was so glad that I did choose to run in it, even with the logistical nightmare of everything that came before it.  I hope Columbus hosts it again next year because I’d love to come out and do it again!

Running for chocolate…again…but this time it’s hot (the chocolate, that is)

Hot Chocolate 15K

Hot Chocolate 15K

In the time following the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon I have yet to take a day off.  Seriously.  I’ve already started up my training program for my half marathon in December up in Indianapolis.  No rest for the road racer, that’s for sure.  I haven’t actually given this much fun.  While I have had days where I have not run, my legs have still been put through the ringer with elliptical, the stationary bike, and the circuit routine that I’ve been doing to help strengthen my core.  No, these legs haven’t seen any rest.

But they do get a break for the next two days.  It’s a short-lived break, however.  Because I’m headed up to Columbus, Ohio.  Initially this trip wasn’t for a race at all.  When I read up on the race in Columbus, it just happened to coincide with my journey that way.  Which was great.

The initial reason for my trip is to go and see The Monkees up in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday.  This is going to make for a long drive back to my friend Jenn’s that night…and a really early morning on Sunday to get up and head to the race.

But…it’s America’s Sweetest Race.  So, how could I turn down another opportunity to run for…hot chocolate!

Yes, my friends…I am running in the Hot Chocolate 15K in Columbus, Ohio.  Probably on very few hours of sleep and still tired legs…but it’s going to be a fun race.  And it will set my initial benchmark for a 15K race, as it is my first one at that distance.  It’s exciting.  It’s…also going to be cold.  So…you know I’m going to be hesitant to even step outside and go run.  But…I’ll just keep telling myself that hot chocolate awaits me at the finish line…along with other chocolate goodies (most of which, due to my food allergies, I can’t have…but I have Jenn and Cathy there…and they can).

Why the Hot Chocolate 15K…aside from the fact that I was already going to be in town?  Well…the swag bag is awesome.  You get a jacket.  YES…a jacket.  How totally awesome is that.  And the finisher’s medal isn’t one you wear around your neck.  Nope.  It’s a Finisher’s Mug…which will contain hot cocoa, chocolate fondue and other chocolate treats!  Running for chocolate rules!  And after a cold 9.3 miles…that hot chocolate is going to taste fantastic.

Tired legs, cold weather and concert fatigue aside…I think it will be a really fun race.

Stay tuned…

Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (November 3, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon – Louisville, Kentucky

Me crossing the finish line of the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: November 3, 2012

Time: 1:52:22

Ever do something that completely surprised you and surpassed all your expectations?  That’s kind of how I feel about the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon.  Honestly.  In all truth, the way I was able to run it shouldn’t have happened.  I should not have been able to do it as quickly as I did.  Or as well as I did.  In fact, I probably shouldn’t have been able to run this one at all.  And there are a few factors that go into why I feel that way.

  1. I was only 2 weeks off of another half marathon, and never let up on my training, including that 10 mile run the weekend before.
  2. It was my first half marathon in bitterly cold conditions.
  3. Rain and sleet…yeah…that was interesting.

Needless to say, when I crossed that finish line I couldn’t believe the time my Garmin told me.  Honestly.  My plan was to run this one easy, and that’s what I did.  Which means…I might actually be capable of breaking 1:50:00…one day.  You know…but pushing it some (but not too early), but only if the conditions are right.

The conditions last Saturday morning, however, were anything but ideal.

The night previous, after having my mandatory gluten-free pizza meal (it brings me luck!), I headed over to Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Why?  Because I really didn’t want to wear my jacket during a half marathon, fearing I would definitely get too hot and then I’d be stuck wearing it for the rest of the race.  My intention, being that it was going to be in the high 30s, was to find a long sleeve tech shirt with some sort of ‘keep you warm’ technology.  There were a few options, actually, but I went with one from Nike.  Purchase made…off I went to grab a dessert of ice cream and head home to get some rest.

And then came morning.  I could tell it was cold when my alarm clock went off and I had to fight with myself to peel back the covers and get out of my warm cocoon of blankets.  But, I did have a race ahead of me and I needed to get a little water into my system before that.  So…I got up and got dressed in my compression tights and my new thermal top.  For a moment, after seeing the exposed skin at my neck, I thought about putting on the running jacket anyway, but logic told me it would warm me up too much…so I skipped it.  An hour later, my roommate got up and we had some cereal for breakfast.  Then came the rush to get everything together.  We played this morning very casual because the race was simply across the river, not miles and miles and  miles and a lengthy car ride away.  I decided, that since we were in close proximity to home, I wouldn’t bother with a change of clothes this time.  I always have a change of clothes, even at local races…but I knew that post-race I was going to get some gluten-free goodies from my favorite allergen-free bakery and coffee from my favorite Louisville coffee shop before heading home.  Why bother?

THAT decision came back to haunt me…so lesson learned.

We got my protein shake, some snacks, and my water bottle together.  I filled up my race water bottle with Smart Water (my beverage of choice…yay electrolytes!) and then I shrugged into a few layers to wear pre-race and we were off.  As we were driving across the bridge, my friend Keith, who was also running, texted to see if I was down there yet.  I told him I was on my way and he said he was near the start line by bag check.

When we arrived, Cathy picked a close parking garage and for $5.00 we parked and headed out toward the start line.  Which just happened to be right outside the parking garage.  WOOHOO!  How is that for some good race day mojo, yes?  I couldn’t see any signs that said Bag Check, so Cathy and I meandered over to the Pure Tap 5K Registration booth…but still nothing.  I texted Keith to let him know where I was.  Then, I ate my mandatory pre-race banana while he made his way over.

Now, Keith and I had been going back and forth on what we were wearing during the race that day.  He kept telling me he was wearing a parka…because he doesn’t do cold.  Well, he wasn’t too far off.  He arrived where I was waiting for him, dressed in his running tights that heat up when you begin to sweat or they get wet, a thermal shirt, a windbreaker, gloves, and a hat.  I asked him if he was going to get too hot wearing all that.  He joked and said he’d be the guy scooping up the discarded clothing of other runners and crossing the finish line with more on than he started with.  We got a good laugh from that.  We stood around and talked and then the Pure Tap 5K was about to start, so we stood there during the National Anthem and cheered when they took off, after a call to post by the official bugle player from Churchill Downs.  Pretty awesome.  A gunshot…and they were off.

This left us about 30 minutes before the start of the half marathon.  While we were standing around and talking, the fountain we were standing next to came on.  Yeah.  Moments ago, runners were standing in there.  And on a cold morning, starting off soaked to the skin due to a sudden fountain surprise would not have been good.  Thankfully, they had all cleared out by this point so no one got soaked.

And soon, I was saying goodbye to Cathy and Keith and I were making our way to the starting area of the race.  We hung back a bit.  He said he was going to use me for pace as I was going to run this one easy being only 2 weeks off my last half marathon.  I said that was fine and promised to run faster than a 10:00 mile.  The National Anthem was played again…as was the call to post.  We were told to go on the gun.  But…no gun was heard.  And I hadn’t started my iPod yet.  Apparently it was fired because Cathy ended up getting the bullet for me as a souvenir.  Yeah.  Best souvenir EVER.  We walked with the group toward the start line…and soon we were jogging…then…we were off.

And so a comedy of errors began immediately when it came to me.  I started my watch…and it stopped.  So I had to hit it again.  My start line photo that Cathy took of me has me futzing with the damn Garmin.  Then, only a few moments later as I’m taking off down the first stretch of road…my iPod falls off my belt.  Seriously?  It was just dangling as I ran, so I had to scoop it up, reel it in, and reattach it, all while running, and dodging people in that first initial sprint from the start.  Blah.  Not the best way to start the race.  Kind of like getting off on the wrong foot.

Oh…and I left Keith behind…somewhere…

Mile 1 flew by, however.  I have run the streets of Louisville numerous times.  But nothing was as bad as coming out of the first mile and into the second mile and having to smell the fresh manure that was out in one of the feed store lots.  Yeah.  Not pleasant at all.  The worst part…we later had to run by there again as we were coming into the finish.

Just after Mile 2…it began sprinkling.  Nothing hard.  Just a little bit of water.  I had checked and the rain wasn’t supposed to get here until afternoon…so this was unpleasant, but if it stayed light…it would be okay.  And for the most part…it did.  I got through the third mile and headed into Cherokee Park for the next 3.5 miles of the race.  This is where the hilly portion was.  And I figured I was as ready as I could be at this point for it.  Why?  Because this is where I do a lot of my running.  And the day I accidentally ran 11 miles instead of 9 was done on the path I would be taking for this race.  Hills…I had this.  I could eat these hills for breakfast, brunch, and second breakfast.

Cherokee Park was great.  People who had been out getting there walk were cheering on the runners and just really keeping us motivated, even in the light sprinkling of rain.  No better way to get over the steep hills of Cherokee Park than with a lot of crowd support.  We had it here.  And as we exited the park, near Mile 6, that was when the rain decided to really kick it up.

As in pour.  As in downpour.

So, not only was I running in the cold weather…it was now cold and wet.  And as I stated before…cold and wet are my two least favorite conditions to run in…especially simultaneously.  BLECH!  And…even better…the rain didn’t let up.  Not one bit.  So, for the last half of the race…I did it in the pouring rain.

I had my sunglasses on, and I was glad I did to keep the rain out of my eyes.  However, my sunglasses were steaming up, so I’d have to use my gloved hands to rub them and clear them up.  In addition to that, my Nike shoes, which are about a full size bigger than my normal shoes, were now getting soaked.  Which, no big deal, except with how big these are, the water would slosh into the toes of my shoes and it just felt…weird.

So…the last half of the race was quite miserable…but you just have to make the most of it.  I was actually just enjoying the run, regardless of the chill and dampness.  I even broke a cardinal rule of mine and gave one of the announcers, around Mile 10, I think, a high five.  Why?  Because he asked for one.  And it was awesome.  Made me smile.

Coming back through the city meant that I was in the home stretch.  I ticked off Mile 11.  And then the announcer just after Mile 12 really lifted our cold, drenched spirits.  He’d call out the bib numbers as you were running toward him and just tell you how great you were doing, that you looked amazing, and that the finish line was just down the road.  Almost there.  Yeah…that’s what we needed to hear.

And yes…about half a mile later, I could see the finish line ahead.  I didn’t know what time I was coming in it, but I did pick up my pace.  Slightly.  Awesome.  I made my final push for a strong finish and crossed the finish line.  I went to pause my Garmin and saw that it said 1:52 with some seconds.  And then I moved on through the recovery area with Cathy screaming her excitement from the sideline.

I was handed a Finisher’s medal and then made my way through the lines for a space blanket, water, Powerade, chocolate milk, bananas, and whatever else was being offered.  I grabbed a couple of items.  And then I met Cathy in the recovery area.  She took my stuff and told me to go check out the runner’s afterparty to see what stuff they offered.  I went to move around through there, keeping that space blanket wrapped around me because…I was cold.  Nothing really grabbed my attention, so I went to find Cathy again.  As I had been getting ready to head that way, I had dropped my Vitamin Water and my regular water, so I ducked back through the line to get those again.  And then hurried back.  She had my protein shake out and ready for me and I downed it.  We went over to one of the buildings that acted as a buffer against the cold wind, and laid out the space blanket…and I propped my feet up to hopefully prevent any muscle cramping.  I kept them elevated for about 10 minutes.  Then…I was ready to get going.  The race was great, but it was still cold and wet and I was beyond shivering now.

We had plans to stop by the allergen-free bakery (Annie May’s Sweet Café) in Louisville, KY so I could grab some breakfast and then we were heading to Highland Coffee for some warm coffee goodness and so Cathy could have one of their breakfast wraps.  We did just that…and after devouring our breakfast at 11:00 a.m…we headed home.  Because I needed a hot shower to get warm after being chilled down to the bone.  And…we had the Bruce Springsteen concert in Louisville that night.  Whew…busy day and a busy night still ahead.

LOVED this race.  And fared very well in it, considering the conditions I was running in and how soon I was doing it after my half marathon in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  I wasn’t running to set a new PR, but I sure as hell came close to doing it.

Official results of the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon are that I finished it in 1:52:22!!!  That is less than 1 minute slower than my PR I set in Hershey.  WOOHOO!! I was 490/2143 overall; 107/1066 women; 21/194 in my division.  Beyond thrilled and quite surprised at how well I was able to do two half marathons with so little recovery time in between.

I guess what Bruce Springsteen says is right…Baby, I was born to run.

On to the next…

Two weeks recovery to a second half marathon…but baby, I was born to run…

Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon

Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon

Two weeks ago, I ran my best half marathon to date at the Hershey Half Marathon in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Two weeks ago.  So, when it came to training for this half marathon I am running in Louisville this morning, it consisted of a few short, easy runs, and a 10 mile run last Sunday morning.  And that was all the time I had.

The only reason I signed up for this half marathon was that it is literally in my backyard.  One short drive over the river into Louisville, Kentucky and…there we are!  I promised to treat it as a training run.  A recovery run.  I promised to take it easy.

And…I know that I will.  I know I will because it’s freakin’ COLD out there.  The Weather Channel claims that the temperature is currently 39°F outside, but feels like 37°F when you factor in the wind.  Pardon me while I say…BRRRRR!  Granted, I would rather run in cold weather than warm, despite not liking being cold.  Even at little 5K races, I’m a wimp when the weather turns cold.  I like a nice 55°-65°F temperature to run in.  It’s ideal and perfect.  But, after experiencing a half marathon in brutal heat and humidity, I’ll take cold.  Even bitter cold.

So, this morning, I am taking to the streets in the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon.  This is the second year that it has run.  Last year, I was going to run it, but I just hadn’t prepared for it and honestly wasn’t ready.  And when I saw the people at the mall walking around in the t-shirts with their finisher’s medals on…I was sad I hadn’t done it.  I knew when they announced this one that it was only two weeks after Hershey, but I wanted to run it.  No excuse.  It’s right where I live.

My greatest source of nerves and concern, however, has not been with my training.  I know I’ve trained for this.  I’ve run three other half marathons this year and still have one more to go in December.  Nope.  It was with what I was going to wear.  Before you get the wrong idea, let me explain.  I have never, as a runner, had to run 13.1 miles in 30 degree temperatures.  This is not be trying to be a fashionista runner and look as cute as possible at the start and finish.  Nope.  I just didn’t know if it was better to wear compression tights…or go with shorts and compression socks.  I didn’t know if I should wear a jacket over my tech shirt, or just go with a cold weather tech shirt.  This is all a guessing game with me.  I went ahead and bought knit gloves I could wear at the start of the race and then simply discard them as I warm up.  The fact of the matter is…this race isn’t going to get much warmer than the temperature when it starts.  A couple degrees…and that’s it.  And that was my biggest source of nerves this time around.

I’m not concerned with my time on this race.  I’m not out to set a new PR (although it would be awesome…it won’t be happening).  I just want to make sure I am prepared for the conditions.  There is a chance we might see a bit of rain at the beginning of the race now.  I didn’t prepare for that because the rain wasn’t supposed to hit until late afternoon.  I’m hoping it stays north of Louisville.

So, yeah…as you can tell, I’m still a little worked up over it all…but I’ve settled on compression tights and a cold weather tech shirt.  Gloves.  And, of course, my BondiBand, which I can pull down over my ears to keep them warm.  This morning, I am going to just go for a run.  A really long, quite chilly run.

And when I’m done…I’m going to go get some food and some coffee…then come home and take a nice warm shower.  Because, tonight…I am heading back to the site of the start of the race for a very different sort of event.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN at the Yum! Center.  I can’t wait for that either.  Lots going on today…but now, I’m turning my focus to the race ahead of me…and just running it the best I can in whatever conditions await.