Category Archives: race report

Jenny runs the Flying Pig Marathon!

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Yep, it starts out as you would imagine.  If you’d have told me a few years ago that I’d run a marathon someday..

Crazy.

After running for a few years and doing many smaller races, and seeing so many of my runner friends do a marathon, I started thinking perhaps I should attempt it before I get any older.  Sometime at the end of last year I suppose, I decided I would start training for it.  If I trained for the Derby full or Flying Pig full the training schedule would put me at 13 miles right at the time of the Run the Bluegrass half marathon.  Since I knew I would run that anyway, may as well start marathon training and at least get half way through before really deciding.

After RTB I decided to keep training.  Almost in secret.  I was afraid to say it out loud.  If I kept it to myself I could back out and hardly anyone would know.  I did some long runs with others training for the derby or pig, some I did solo.  I won’t lie; the 20 mile run was terrible.  It made me really question whether I should try to do a marathon.  Two weeks later I did a 22 mile run.  It was worse.  I ran in my neighborhood and made 2 or 3 stops at my house to replenish water, stops that lasted too long.  During the last half my pattern was start running, make it a couple blocks, stop, walk for a few blocks, repeat. Walk breaks are fine but not as many as I was taking. I was so frustrated.  At one point in that run I told myself “You better make it 2 miles without walking or you just call it off, you are NOT going to register for the marathon.”  I made it 2 miles.

That was so frustrating I really needed to try to figure out what I was doing wrong and fix it.  The training plan did not call for it but I decided I would do another 20+ mile run the following weekend.  I had to prove to myself I could reasonably do it before actually registering.  I reviewed my Garmin times, read up on marathon training tips, etc.  I concluded I was going too fast in the first half of the runs, and I should try salt tablets.  The next weekend I went out for 21 miles with those two adjustments.  I wasn’t really much faster but I ran more consistently and I sure felt better at the end.

I was training, but I’d not yet registered.  I’d not yet reserved a hotel room, and most hotels were long-ago full for Pig weekend.  Long run training was disastrous. Yet everywhere I turned,  I was receiving ‘go’ signs.

I kept seeing phrases everywhere – at the gym, Facebook and Twitter of course, even my church’s newsletter!

“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”

“The pain of running the marathon is worth the finishing of the marathon.”

“If you’re going to face a real challenge, it has to be a REAL challenge. You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.”

“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill.” ~ Anonymous

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” ~T.S. Eliot

“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.”― Tim Noakes, Lore of Running

“There will be days you don’t think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have.” #Running #Quotes

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” ~ JEDI MASTER YODA

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward in spite of our fear.”

Seriously??  Where was this stuff coming from??

One evening I happened to be on Facebook when a runner friend posted on the Striders group that she was not going to be able to run the Pig and would anyone want her room reservation.  Right place at the right time?  Another sign?  Another excuse nullified.

Finally time to bite the bullet and register. Monday April 15.  I registered at my desk during lunch.  Tweeted that I had registered and now was a knot of nerves.  Encouragement ensued from coach Krissie and other friends on at that time.  As you know, not much later, the news of Boston came.  What had been anxiousness turned into determination.  That afternoon I was ready to go run the marathon Right NOW.

I would love to say that determination held strong for the next three weeks, but I alternated between ‘ready to go!’ and ‘OMG am I crazy?!’

On the Tuesday before the race an email came that said ‘It’s Race Week!’   The first item was information from Tri State Running Company.  The last line said “Hydrate, rest up, and get hyped. You are about to be a marathoner! We’ll be rooting for you!”  I choked up, teared up.  Good grief.  If that makes me cry how am I gonna get through these next few days?

On to the virtual goodie bag.  That’s safe, right?  An advertisement for a breakfast buffet beginning at 6 am on race day, for family and friends of the runners.  “Breakfast of the people who cheer on the Champions.”  Another gulp.  What’s wrong with me, getting emotional from words from people who want to sell me stuff!

The day before the race my husband Chris and I drove up to Cincinnati.  We didn’t get there until around 3 pm so I was not able to catch up with my running group friends at the Expo.  As Chris and I walked around, he noticed the 26.2 stickers.  “Hey here’s your 26.2 sticker.”  I said “yep” and kept moving. “Aren’t you going to get one?” “Nope, not before the race. Bad luck.”  “You know you’re going to finish it so I don’t see why not.  I can buy it for you then.”  “You can, but I can’t know about it.”  He did talk me into buying a ball cap with 26.2 on it.

I realized after the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon a few weeks earlier that I had missed some of the atmosphere.  My goal had been to beat my finish time of the previous year.  I think I focused on that more than enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  I know there were signs telling runners of the nicknames given to each of the hills on the course.  I did not notice any of them during the race.  Therefore my strategy for the marathon was simply to stay positive no matter what, pay attention to the things and people along the way, enjoy it and finish.

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I set the alarm for 3:30 a.m. on race morning.  The hotel restaurant did not open until 6 am so I ate a protein bar and drank a protein drink that I had brought with me.  My stomach was so full of butterflies it was not easy to get them down.  When I went to the lobby to catch up with the Striders I saw that the hotel had had some breakfast in the lobby for the runners!  No one had told me that would be there.  Then again, I had not asked anyone at the hotel about that.  Now, of course, it makes sense since their hotel was full of runners.  I took a banana and put it in my jacket pocket.  I figured if I got really hungry I could just eat that along the course.  I ended up not eating it, but that banana was in sad, sad shape after traveling in the pocket of the jacket that was mainly tied around my waist and flapping around for 26 miles.

The morning was threatening rain and the sky was overcast as the sun came up.  While we waited in the corrals and they made the start of race announcements, a small partial rainbow appeared and grew into a full beautiful rainbow.  At the same time the song being played was Sweet Caroline.  It was so wonderful.  I waited in the porta potty line in my corral, G.  When I emerged the runners in Gate G were gone and Gate H folks were headed to the start.  I headed that way and turned on the Garmin. I had turned it on a couple times already and it had gone to sleep.  This time of course, when it really mattered, it would NOT find the satellite before I crossed the start!  I hopped into the median before the start line to get out of the way of the other runners, waving my arm in the air like a crazy woman.  Finally I went on across as I did not want to be the LAST person to cross the start line.  Not because I worried about being last but because I worried about being LOST.  I do not have a good sense of direction and I knew I needed to follow folks in front of me.  At mile 1 my watch showed .85 so that was not bad.

I was a little anxious the first couple miles, feeling like I needed to catch up from my delayed start.  I finally settled down and settled in for the long run.

I felt good that throughout most of the way I was in the vicinity of a couple of the Streakers.  For those who do not know, the Streakers are a group of runners who have run the Flying Pig Marathon in each of its 15 years.  If anyone was going to know the way to the finish line, it was a Streaker.  I could always follow them if I felt I was getting lost.

Between miles 5 and 6 I think, I saw DJ and the Big Hand. Yay!  So much fun to see them and high 5 the hand!  I did not see Ernie and other cheerers though, not sure how I missed them.

Around mile 7 a cheerer said “You got this!” and I automatically breathed ‘Yeah, sure.’  Then I said, No, that’s not the right attitude, I DO got this!

We came to the point of the separation of half- and full- marathon routes.  Fewer people to follow now.  Better keep up.

Around mile 12 I was not feeling well at all.  I was done. Over, finished, can’t do it.  I thought well, what if I just go to the nearest medical station, tell them I don’t feel good and get a ride back. At mile TWELVE??!  No, figure something out.  You’re just hungry.  Not enough to eat, need more carbs.  I forced myself to eat the rest of the Stinger chews in my pocket.  I literally had to choke them down.  Took a salt pill, some water, and went on the move.  That must have been it, I felt much better.

I was so looking forward to mile 20.  I know those are supposed to be some tough miles between 20 and 26 but I just needed that mental push of being past 20.  Also I knew Jaime was there somewhere past 20 and while the strangers cheering me on were unbelievably great I was looking forward to seeing a familiar face.  As 22 turned into 23 then into 24 I thought maybe I had missed Jaime too!  Then at mile 25 I found Jaime, Kelly and Steve!   There they were in their big yellow rain coats, yelling for me.  Awesome.  I got big ol’ hugs from Jaime and Kelly.  They offered to run the last mile in with me, but I was doing okay so I went on.  Turns out I really felt my best during those last 6 miles.

Coming up to the finish line I heard my husband yell “Yay Jenny!” and turned to see him there, videoing me as I ran by.  He told me later he was not expecting me right at that time because I was about 10 minutes ahead of the projected finish time he’d received via text.

Finished!!  A volunteer hung the medal around my neck.  I got one of those silver blankets that always look so cool to me.  Since my goal time was ‘finish’, I was right on time!

It was dark in the recovery area.  Maybe on a day with better weather the sun shines in but it was a bit gloomy in there.  There were tables full of small paper cups with Gatorade.  I drank one then took another and walked out to the food area.  I love having a banana after a race, so that was what I looked for first.  They were first up, but were sliced in half.  By this time the ends of all of them were brown and nasty looking.  Yuk, no thanks.  I realize I could eat 2 half bananas, but I really feel that if you run 26.2 miles you are entitled to a whole unadulterated banana.

I moved on to other snacks.  I saw the fruit cups but for some reason those did not appeal to me, just seemed like too much trouble.  Picked up a few things and headed out to find my husband.

I had put a jacket and ball cap in my clear bag from the expo for Chris to bring to the finish area for me.  I  took off my wet jacket and headband and put on the dry jacket and cap.  I thought I would have been absolutely starving but I really wasn’t.  I ate a couple of swiss cake rolls and drank some water.  I was suddenly soooo cold.  My body was shaking, I could not stop shaking.  Yet, dang it, I had just finished a marathon, I was ready for the post-race party!  Um, where is it?  I had Chris walk over to the information booth and ask.  He came back and said “They laughed and told me this is it.”  Well, either we really were not in the right place or, due to my later finish and the rain, it had indeed fizzled out.  Ah well.  Hot shower was sounding great.

I must have been in a time warp out there on the course.  I would take a salt tab and try to remember the time on my Garmin so I could take another in 45 minutes from then, give or take.  Then I would look down at the Garmin and think ‘now what elapsed time was it when I stopped last time?  Surely it hasn’t been almost an hour but I think the time is about an hour later than last time I looked.”  It does not seem like I spent 5 1/2 hours out there.  Another strange thing is that my Garmin says I covered 26.59 miles.  Adding back the .15 I missed at the start, I went 26.74.  Half mile too far!  Where the heck did I go?  lol

The weather, to me, was great.  A couple times after pit stops I got chilly because I had cooled down a bit from not moving.  I was glad I had brought my jacket to be able to put on for a while until I warmed up again.  It only rained for the last few miles and it was only a light rain.  Much better than a hot sunny day.

Those who had run it before had reported the crowd support was great.  I had no idea!  It was unbelievable.  I headed out with the final corral of runners and was really in the last of the pack.  I had support the ENTIRE way..  And not just people standing there.  People applauding, yelling, cheering, encouraging.  Amazing.

On the back of my t-shirt I was wearing the bonus race bib stating ‘First Time Marathoner.’  People who saw that were so encouraging!   One of the Streakers ran up beside me, asked how I was doing, asked if it was what I thought it would be, told me to just run however I felt like running and  not worry about anything else.  When I passed people they would yell up ‘Yay, first timer, go!’.  The course monitors on bicycles would say ‘Good job first timer!’ as they rode past.

There was a little old man with a one-man band that if recall correctly was assembled with duct tape.  People outside of nursing homes, some in wheel chairs.  One group offered a small cup of beer in the home stretch, which I graciously declined.  The coordinated groups – in costumes, dancing groups.  Elvis singing. So many signs to read.  The police and security people standing at intersections all saying “good job!”  I tried to thank people for being out there to cheer and somehow they ended up thanking ME.  Bizarre.  I remember one older lady who was applauding and whom I thanked as I went by, and she looked me straight in the eyes and said “thank YOU, I’m so very proud of you.”  I tried to high-five as many of the little kids along the way as I could.  There were plenty of official water and Gatorade stops but there were also plenty of offerings from the crowd.  People holding out trays of sliced oranges, fruit pieces in baggies.  How long they must have been doing that to still be offering them to me?  A couple of little girls were trying to hand out small bottles of Gatorade but seemed to not have many takers. I had just passed them but went back and asked for one.  Her face lit up.  I carried that darn thing for a few miles, never opened it, dropped it off at a water stop.

I waved at Batman, played runner’s tag with Iron Man, gave thumbs up to Frisch’s Big Boy, slapped some skin to Elvis and high-fived a dog – not a person in a dog suit, a real dog.

I could go on and on and on and ON about how fantastic the people were.  For my non-runner friends, if you ever want to just do something nice for people, just for the heck of it, something that costs you nothing, go stand along a race route and yell, applaud, or just smile.

I’m so glad I did it.  While training I honestly planned that I was going to do it just so I never had to do this again!  Training was hard, the race was wonderful.  As of now I will be fine if I do not run another full marathon.  But I cannot say I’m 100% sure I won’t.  I learned so much during this first experience that I know I would do better and possibly even enjoy it more.

Thank you all, my friends, running and non-running, for all your inspiration and encouragement along the way.

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Jaime’s Derby Recap – Part 1

Jaime ran her first marathon at the Kentucky Derby Marathon Festival on April 27th. I am so proud of this girl I can’t hardly see straight. Today you’ll get her marathon experience and tomorrow her reflections. Feel free to leave her congratulatory notes! 

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The National Anthem was sung.  The elites were at mile 8 (okay, so maybe only at 2 or 3).  It was about 14 minutes into the official start of the Derby Marathon/MiniMarathon.  And I was about to cross the starting line.  A journey that began on August 1, 2012 was at the beginning of the end.

As I looked to my left, to tell my best friend and hetero-life partner that now, officially, no one could say that I had DNS’ed a marathon, she looked back at me and said “Yay!!  You’ve popped your marathon cherry!!!”  I laughed, and we trotted on down the street.  We kept an eye on our pace so that I wouldn’t go out of the gate way too fast and burn out.  I had a plan and was going to stick to it.  Got to see the Strider cheer squad and get some early hugs in, as well as high-fiving Big Hand.  Felt amazing to be running with so many people.  You see such diversity at races!

Katie and I stayed together until Churchill Downs, just before the split.  I ran into the fancy flushing toilets that still had toilet paper, with Katie running on, yelling her love and encouragement back at me.  Got a hug from a friend I didn’t even know would be there (yay!), and then I was on my own as the split approached.

Literally.  On my own.  A race volunteer pointed at me: “Marathoner!!!”  She pointed to her left.  “That side of the road!!!!”  The side of the road that nobody else was on.  Nobody.  Not in front of me, nor behind me.  For over a half a mile, the only marathoners I saw were the ones that were coming back into town.  But it was okay.  I only had 3 miles to get to my gear exchange with Krissie.  I can run 3 by myself.  Just before the park, a nice water station volunteer offered me a gel with an encouraging “you’re halfway done!!”

“Really, son?  Can you not do math?  11 is not half of 26.2.”  He laughed, and I ran on.  Exchanged gear.  Hugged Krissie.  Found out Beth was ahead of me in the park and hightailed it looking for her.  In the end, she found me (I honestly don’t think someone yelling my name has sounded so awesome before that moment), and we ran/walked through most of the park together.

Exiting the park, I came upon the man running the marathon while dribbling a basketball.  And I pushed my pace to get away from him because I was not about to be DQ’d for taking out another participant.  I don’t know where the crazy singing girl was at, but I hightailed it away from her, too.  While it may have pushed my pace and body farther than I wanted, I regret nothing about keep my sanity in those spots.

My legs started feeling wonky about 17.  It was like they couldn’t clear the gunk built up in them.  So I took a walk break, casually sipping water from my Camelbak (or water teat, whichever makes you happier), and checked Twitter to see how on-pace I was (thanks, LaTanya, for tracking & tweeting my updates).  Again, I was alone: by that time even the crowds had had enough and were gone.

At 18, I made the big decision.  I decided that, yes, I could push and hit my tentative goal of a sub-5 hour race.  But I might not finish happy.  And would, most likely, end up in actual pain if I did try to push.  So, right there at the 18 mile marker, when I started running again with the determination to get that mile ran completely, I decided to run for a good time, to finish, and to be happy during it.  Now, 18-20 were kind of a blur.  Somewhere in there I was nearly taken out by a moving van that the police had let through the blocked intersection.  The poor father cheering from the corner freaked out more than I did.  I walked a lot more than I had intended or wanted.  But I was running at 20 when I came upon the Striders again.  Michel ran a bit with me.  Ernie was there beaming.  Jenny had my name on her jacket and a hug just for me.  And Lori.  My Lori.  Who ran so many of the training miles with me, encouraging me every step.  She was there, and she ran about two blocks with me to make sure I was okay, and to encourage me more, even as I was yelling at her about running on her sore foot.  A final hug, and I kept running.  I hope she didn’t realize that I was about to cry with happiness at running that little smidge with her.

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21-24 were, again, a blur.  Time messed with my head.  I was lonely.  My legs hurt like they’d never before.  I wanted some blue powerade like there was no tomorrow.  I nearly texted Katie to tell her to make sure she had some for me, but I was afraid of worrying her by texting her while I’m supposed to be running.  I high-fived every small child and little old lady I could find.  I smiled and thanked every police officer.  Thanked the water station people even though I had my own water.  Smiled and thanked anyone who yelled encouragement, even though that was sparse.  I heckled the spectators that weren’t participating like they should.  Or the ones who were lying (“You can’t tell me I’m almost there!!  I’m not, and you’re lying!!”  “If this *isn’t* the last hill, I’m coming back here for you afterwards!!!”  “Don’t look so damn gloomy, honey!!”)

The 5:15 pace group caught up to me, and then passed me.  That, my friends, was a really low point.  Really low.  I very nearly cried.  But as I passed a med tent, I overheard a lady say something like “wow, she looks really good.  She’s got this.”  I don’t even give a damn if she was talking about me or not.  I owned it anyway, and kept it in my head.  Somewhere in that stretch, I ran with one of the Marathon Maniacs named Rick.  He ended up running ahead of me when I needed another walking break, but as I passed spectators, he had spread the word that it was my first marathon, and they cheered me on by name.

I was walking again when I saw this beacon of black and pink sunshine ahead.  Stacy had come to check on me.  At the lonely, most desolate point that I’d been at.  I nearly cried again.  She ran me to the 25 mile marker, asking how I was feeling, and how it was going.  She said I wouldn’t remember what we talked about.  I don’t, not really.  I just remember how it felt to be reminded that I wasn’t alone out there, even when it felt like I was.

I finally saw the 26 mile marker ahead in the distance.  My throat tightened.  I was going to finish.  Katie came running up to me, and I very, very nearly ugly-cried.  She ran next to me as we approached my girls.  My tribe.  Cheering for me at the end, despite the fact that they’d already ran for hours and cheered for more and were freezing themselves.  Even now, I’m about to start crying again.  To know that they really had been there, waiting just to see me pass.  I am amazed by my tribe.  And so thankful to have friends like them.

I turned the corner.  The announcer called out my name.  I heckled one of the spectators that had told me I was almost there that she could actually say that now (yes, spectators, we remember the ones that lie to us early on).  I threw my arms up in the air and I crossed the line.  I was officially a marathoner.

I asked which one of the blanket-givers wanted to cuddle me.  Rick, the Marathon Maniac, was waiting on me to cross, to congratulate me, and he walked me to get my medal.  We hugged, and I went to get my powerade.

And they were out of powerade when I got there.  Bananger is nothing compared to powerade-anger.  Seriously, I’d wanted that thing for at least 6 miles.  And they ran out.  As in, the guy who came ahead of me had the last bottle.  If he hadn’t been swigging the last gulp, I would have ripped it out of his hand.  I’ll make sure I’ve got my blue G2 on me, or waiting on me, from now on.

Overall, the best impression I can give of this race was “lonely”.  Yes, there was pretty good crowd support.  But for a social runner, which is what I consider myself now, it was just lonely.  I was a lone wolf in desperate need of my wolfpack.  The course was fine, mostly flat with the exception of Iroquois Park (which wasn’t as bad as I had feared) and a final hill around 22-23 (that I hadn’t been prepared for at all, but got up).  Water stops were awesome, tons of volunteers in very high spirits (one of whom apologized for not having bourbon when I asked for it).  Shirt is bright yellow, but not offensively so.  My biggest complaint: at no point, nowhere, did I get to hear “Eye of the Tiger.”  Seriously, people, it’s a marathon.  I thought it was understood that marathons and this song went hand in hand.

Will I run another marathon?  Yes, I will.  I have, in fact, already signed up for another (insert Richmond site here).  Yes, less than 48 hours after I finished my first, I signed up for my second marathon.  I may be insane.  I do know I’ll never run another one alone or without music again.  I think music to distract me would have helped a lot, and I’m buying some good earbuds this week to practice with.

And I have only one regret.  Just one.  I regret that I didn’t steal that man’s can of beer somewhere around 22-23.  Cause really, how awesome would it have been to have ran to Krissie and said “Here, hold my beer while I finish this thing”?

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South Florida Race Reviews

Our girl Erin was kind enough to review some of the races she’s done while loving in Miami. As jealous as I am of these pictures, I can’t wait to have her home!

As many of you know, I’m living in Miami this year. The racing season is in winter and I was lucky enough to run in 3 local half marathons. Here is a little info about each one in case you are dreaming of a winter vacation next year that involves some running! If you have any specific questions about any of them just ask me on twitter or facebook.

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Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon (Rock N Roll Series) Nov 2012
Expo–on the beach literally. Tents were set up on South Beach with typical vendors and race merch. Wear your flip flops.
Course–Starts on scenic Ocean Drive, runs through Miami Beach, across the Julia Tuttle Causeway to Miami, south a few miles, then across the MacArther Cswy back to South Beach. The finish is on the beach, a hard packed sand finish. This race has water views for more than half the race. People were stopping to take pictures everywhere along the course. Support was good, many bands and cheerleaders were out at various locations. It was warm and humid but this race was very prepared for that. Salt packets were available at the start line and aid stations, cold towels and ice cubes at the stations, and after crossing the finish you ran by cold air misters.
Post-Race–beach festival with music and beer. Last year Pitbull performed. This year was a Latino band that was really good. Overall party atmosphere with the ocean behind you.
Swag/Medal–women’s tech tee with cool South Beach-esque design, medal is of art deco buildings on South Beach with a little glitter on it. Beautiful!
Verdict–it might be hot or humid, but this is a small RNR race (only a few thousand) that exhibits local flavor and focuses on the Beach. Do it if you are in town or going on a cruise, but don’t necessarily plan a whole trip around it.

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ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon Jan 2013

Expo–the best I’ve been to. Bart Yasso was there and the vendors were superb. LOVED the merchandise!
Course–Starts downtown, cross the MacArthur Cswy to Miami beach, up north to cross the Venetian Cswy back to Miami. The half runners then split to Bayfront Park for the finish. Full runners go south to Coconut Grove and then back up to Bayfront to finish. Great tour of different neighborhoods and plenty of water views. More than enough support and spectators. Tons of energy at this race! Definitely an international race with many countries represented.
Post-Race–Bayfront Park with water views
Swag/Medal–women’s tech tee with cool design reflecting this year’s theme. The medal is over the top in true Miami fashion. Each year the ribbon is designed by a local artist and this year was a graffiti type artist, Lebo, so it is a little busy. This race is known for spinner medals, so the palm tree and cityscape each spin. One side is downtown Miami, the other is South Beach complete with actual sand in it.
Verdict—Huge race with a lot of money they put into it and it shows. DO IT!!

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Ft Lauderdale A1A Marathon and Half Marathon Feb 2013
Expo–typical vendors at the Convention Center
Course–Starts Downtown Ft Lauderdale, down Las Olas Blvd, then along A1A highway (meaning beach views the entire rest of the race). This course was Beautiful. I reached A1A just in time to see the sunrise over the ocean. Ft Lauderdale has one of the prettiest beaches in Florida and it was amazing to run along it. Support was good and the first band was playing Margaritaville-perfect mood. There weren’t a lot of spectators which I attribute to the weather. Last year it was a high of 84. This year the weather was 40s with 30mph cold wind. Combine that with a 6 am start time and I don’t blame people for not spectating. I imagine in other years there have been more.
Post-Race–At the beach. It was so cold that I didn’t stay, but it looked like a good party.
Swag/Medal–my unisex shirt gets a major dislike. I PR’d this race and would love to wear this shirt, but it fits more like an oversized tee. I may try to wear it as a regular shirt or over compression in the winter. This race is known for it’s medals and for past few years has had a hinged medal that opens. This year, the medals were heavier than usual so the hinge is flimsy and a lot of people’s broke immediately. The race director Matt (the equivalent of Eric Patrick Marr) was so upset about it that he is having the factory make ones with steel hinges and will be mailing to everyone. I personally don’t mind the hinge and love the seahorses, but I think it shows how dedicated Matt is to making this race grow into a leading race in South Florida.
Verdict–Beautiful race!! Is small around 4,000 total with a local guy putting his heart and soul into planning it. DO IT!!

Race Recap: OBX Marathon

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Even though Hurricane Sandy passed by over one hundred miles off-shore, it doesn’t take much to disrupt things when we’re talking about a ribbon of sand jutting out into the ocean. Combine that with a nor’easter blowing through not long after that and it’s understandable some people were concerned about race weekend. The race director promised all the flooding and damage was confined to the ocean side and that all events were on. We were staying with Krissie’s parents and brother and his
little girl on Hatteras Island, though, and the one way there was washed out by the storms. It would have been rough enough driving from Avon to Kitty Hawk for the start, and impossible using the emergency ferry we’d have to catch, so we decided to stay in Manteo (where it finishes) the night before.

I got up and carried out my usual race morning routine before walking over to Manteo High School for the 5:45 AM shuttle to the start in Kitty Hawk. I wore my new Run Kentucky shirt and it turns out one of my fellow passengers was from Georgetown. Small world. Our bus was the first one there, and as such we all got first dibs on the port-a-potties. It was a chilly morning but I spent most of it talking to our friend Jeremy (from Louisville) until it was time to line up. The half marathon started at 7 at the half way point of the race, but the marathon runners lined up in corrals A and B. One prayer and a national anthem later and the A runners took off at 7:20. Us mortals in corral B started just a few minutes later.

The race started out along Albemarle Sound and we wove in and out of neighborhoods I’d never been through before despite all our past visits. I was really pleased (and pleasantly surprised) at the crowd support. It is off-season on the Outer Banks and there aren’t that many residents there, but the turnout was really good. If I’m not mistaken they even had shuttles moving some of them around as the race progressed. There were cheering stations in addition to water stations, and I heard more than a few thank us for visiting and running. Having our names on our bibs was a nice touch, because it was good to hear people call you by name, especially when you’re not having fun anymore.

It was definitely the most scenic race I’ve run (water, water, everywhere…). At mile 8 the route ran along the base of the Wright Brothers Monument, and there were a few people stopping to take their picture in front of it. We entered Nags Head Woods Preserve around mile 10 and were in there for 3 miles or so. The trail was packed sand and was a little hillier than I expected (but no trouble to anyone training in central Kentucky). That section was a nice change of pace. We also ran along Jockey’s Ridge, which is the largest sand dune on the east coast. I didn’t see any hang-gliders out that morning, though. The course crossed the Washington-Baum Bridge over Roanoke Sound. That was the highest point but it wouldn’t have been that bad had it been anywhere before mile 23. Nothing good comes at mile 23. But at least the cross wind wasn’t much to contend with.

The forecast was for a high of 70 but it felt like more than that, especially out on the main four lane highway without shade. I don’t know if it was that, the possibility I started out too fast, or just the fact that it’s a 26.2 mile run, but I felt like I was having the race of the life until around mile 20. And then it stopped being fun and I didn’t care where I was running. My shoulders started hurting like they did at Flying Pig, and this time the rest of my back joined in on the fun. I knew that was a possibility going in, but once exhaustion sets in I suppose running form throws in the towel. But I finished, I beat my Flying Pig time, and I had a week at the beach to recuperate.

Outer Banks Sporting Events makes a whole weekend of it. There is a 5K, 8K, and Fun Run on Saturday and this year they added a 6 mile run during the full and half marathons. As far as I know each race has its own medal and shirt. I would not recommend this half since it’s the last half of the full and it misses all the fun stuff at the beginning, but the Flying Pirate Half Marathon in April runs the first half of the marathon course.

Now to start thinking about getting ready for the Asheville – Biltmore Marathon in March.

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The Bourbon Chase

Wow. friends. Buckle your seatbelts (as we were reminded is required by law even in 14-passenger vans) because this is going to be a loooong post. That’s what happens when I review a 34 hour race. I had told several people before I ran that I kept reading the same thing in reviews of relay races: “It was brutal and I hated it but I had a great time!”

And, honestly? I totally get that now.

Welcome to the Bourbon Chase Recap.

I almost don’t even know where to start. This race caused me to lose all concept of time and space. By the time it was over, I had no idea where I was geographically, even though I am fairly familiar with all towns that held transition spots. I had no idea what time of day it was, if the sun should be shining or not, when I should be sleepy, or when I should be hungry. I sat in sweaty clothes for hours. I lived out of a van. I became very familiar with portajohns.

And a good time was had by all.

I ran the Bourbon Chase on a charity team for Hospice. I know a few of my team members, but for the most part had only met them once at a get-to-know-you dinner. But by the end, I felt like I knew them all. Maybe that’s what happens when you exchange sweaty hugs and middle-of-the-night run stories.

We started the relay with a 90-minute drive to Jim Beam. The crazy thing? We parked the van. Got out. A van pulled up beside us. And out pops my friend Kathie that I haven’t seen since college. (I graduated in 2000.) I mean, I knew she was running the Chase, but to see her first thing? It was just the coolest.

The DJ at Jim Beam was pretty awesome. The Captain Jack Sparrow song. Mumford. Just great. We checked in, showed our gear, got our shirts, and it was time to get started. At 9:30am on Friday, our first runner took off!

And she had a very soggy run. It was partial trail, which would have been cool if it wasn’t for the standing water. She finished strong, but it wasn’t exactly the best way to get things started. I looked a little like this at the first transition.

Over the next 3 hours, we drove from transition area to transition area, dropping off runners. And before I knew it, it was my turn to run. At 1:18, I took off.

My first leg (Leg 5) was pretty eventful. My first hill was the hardest hill in my entire series. It was good to get that out of the way. Then I saw a guy almost get killed by a rottweiler (saved only by an amazing invisible fence). The rain had stopped, but returning with the sun was the humidity. I was on skinny, winding, pretty deserted country roads. My kind of landscape. I had amazing climbs, amazing downhills, and amazing views. 4.47 miles in 49:09. Average pace of 10:59. Totally thrilled to be under 11min/mile. Especially with the amount of walking I did.

Angie ran her leg and then it was time to go inactive. We met Van 2 at Maker’s Mark, set them off to go, and took off toward our hotel in Danville.

As we drove away, I felt horrible for our runners. Because they were out in this.

We made it to Danville. We had about 45 minutes to kill before we needed to head to dinner. I tried to sleep but was too wound up. I put on my LexRunLadies shirt (because I was actually Runner 5) and got ready to go active again. Oh, and with our Hunger Games theme, I was also sporting Katniss braids. I’m that cool.

A little less than 6 hours after going inactive, we headed to Perryville to start our overnight legs. It was good to see Van 2. So many characters over there.

About the time we started our second legs was when I really started to freak out a little. We were under a dense fog advisory and I would be running this in the middle of the night.

I was pretty freaked out. But the closer it got to midnight and the more tired I got, the more I just wanted it over. As runners in my van completed their legs, I stopped getting more nervous and just realized that I had to do it. We headed to the transition area in Stanford. I visited the bathroom in a really cute cafe. I put on my vest, headlamp, knuckle lights, and blinky red light on my back. I just wanted it over.

Time for scary Leg 17. I headed out of Stanford at 12:34am, and I felt like I was going to be okay. There weren’t any runners around me, but I knew that I only had 2 turns. I ran past the graveyards. Kinda creepy, but I was still in town. I made the second turn and there were a few runners around me. The fog wasn’t that bad. I was happy that I couldn’t see my garmin to know how fast or slow I was running. I was channeling Forest Gump. I was just running. And I felt pretty good. It was really foggy, but there were people around me. I couldn’t actually see anyone, but I could see red blinking lights ahead of me. I could see lights inside the houses I passed. The elevation profile was serious. I had a few substantial climbs. It was bizarre to not have any clue that a hill was coming or when it would end. It was strange that I could see lights ahead now and then but not have any idea how far away they were. I didn’t know if there was a hill between me and a red dot that was at eye level. I did have the occasional runner come up behind me and we would exchange pleasantries, and had several real conversations before they would move on.  I felt pretty cool running in the middle of the night with nothing but the cows and the occasional runner going by. I could see blinking red lights ahead of me. Everything was okay.

Until right around 5.5 miles in That’s where things got dicey. The fog was very dense. I couldn’t see anything. I could tell I had a rock wall to my right but I had no idea what was on the other side of the guardrail on my left. I had been climbing a hill for a while and didn’t know when it would end. I was tired and needed to take a walk break, but I was too scared not to run. I went over half a mile without seeing a runner or being passed by a van. The fog was so incredibly thick and my knuckle lights just reflected more fog back at me. I got my cell phone out and had no service. And I was really close to freaking out. Really close. But then I heard banjo music. One of the vans had a big plywood banjo lit up on the top and was piping out bluegrass music. That’s all I needed. It snapped me back to reality. I wasn’t alone. They hooted at me as they passed. Not long after that, a runner came up behind me. I started the descent around 6.3 and I was doing better. The problem then was that I was physically spent. I was hungry. I’d been up for 20 hours. I’d pushed hard on my first leg and the freaked out miles of this leg. I just wasn’t in a good place. But I finished at 2:04am. 8.64 miles in 1:37:09. Average pace of 11:16/mile.

Angie ran her leg and we headed back to the hotel. After a quick shower, I was able to get 2 hours of solid sleep. And it was very good, quality sleep. I felt almost well rested when I got up on Saturday morning. We headed to Lawrenceburg to take the baton/bracelet from Van 2 and get our last legs finished.

Susan got us started. I think because it was our last runs, we were all excited in transitions. As much fun as we were having, we were also really tired.

We had some really strong third legs. We were ahead of our projected times. We transitioned at distilleries. We rode rocking turkeys. The routes were hard, but we were used to them. Honestly, a lot of Saturday morning/afternoon is a blur. My body was very confused. I lost all hunger and sleep cues. I didn’t have any motion sickness even though I forgot to take dramamine. I had no idea if I had drank enough that day. I was totally on autopilot.

I had been talking to a few friends via Twitter, but it hadn’t really hit me that I was going to see familiar faces on my last leg. I mean, my teammates were my friends at this point and I was seeing other friends in passing at transitions, but I felt like I was in a different reality. When I saw Faith at my transition point to start my last run, I really thought I was going to lose it. I must have hugged her 20 times. I mean, I knew that I wasn’t ever more than 90 minutes from my house, but I felt like I was just in a strange land. (My brain was seriously scrambled, friends.) Seriously. I hugged her over and over.

I was ready for my last leg. Ready. I took off on Leg 29 at 11:42am. I knew I had a hill and a turn in the first 1/4 mile, but it was a straight shot and elevation decline after that. I had 5 miles to crank out and then I was done. My legs were toast since I’d ran the prior 2 legs significantly faster than my usual pace. It wasn’t raining. It was beautiful two-lane road through horse country. I was getting honked at and cheered for by lots of white vans. I had nothing left in my tank at all, but I cranked out those 5 miles.

Close to the end of my run, I turned a corner and saw a familiar car. There was Lydia. I knew she was going to be cheering at some point, but I didn’t know I’d react the way I did. I was all smiles and cheers and hugs when I saw her and her sign about taking a nap, but I got very emotional after I ran past her one-man cheering station. I was finishing something crazy. I had lots of people cheering for me – virtually and in person. Running has changed me. Running has given me friends and health and pride. I just love running.

I finished my last Bourbon Chase run at 12:54pm. 4.88 miles in 52:16. Average pace 10:42/mile.

And I was truly in a beautiful place. Even if I was sitting in a van…down by the river.

Angie finished her leg and we passed the baton to Van 2 again at Woodford Reserve. I had a ham and cheddar scone from the Midway School Bakery. I was feeling pretty good. Our van was done. I was ready to go home.

On our way out of Woodford, I saw all of my friends who were running with other teams. There were a lot of hugs between the building above and our van. Lots of hugs. I am part of a family of runners. They are everywhere. I encouraged the ones that still had runs to go. I celebrated with others that were done. It was one of the highlights of the run.

Then we headed back to Lexington. And I started coming out of my fog a little. I felt like we were in a different world, but we were less than half an hour from Lexington. It was just crazy. I unloaded my stuff into my car and drove home. Just like everything was normal, I talked to Nathan. I took a shower. I took about an hour nap. And then we headed back downtown to the finish line celebration.

I still don’t know how to tell you exactly how I felt. My body was just confused. I still had no physical cues about anything. I didn’t know if I was tired or hungry or thirsty. Just nothing. I had 2 sample pours of bourbon and I definitely felt tipsy. We cheered other teams to the finish. We chatted with all of our friends. We were waiting for our final teammate to come into town. We thought we had about 7 minutes when I heard a frantic “THERE SHE IS!” and we took off. It was like a scene from a movie. Our final runner just came barrelling through the homestretch. We didn’t have time to react. So there we are – half of our team holding purses, and I think a beer or two – and we are SPRINTING to the finish line. It was hilarious. Just the perfect end to the race.

And we were done! Team Bourbon Games for the win!

And by “the win” I actually mean last place. With an average pace of 10:18. Last place. I’ll take that all day long.

Would I do this again? I really don’t know. Did I have a great time? Absolutely. I ran with an amazing group of people. I really didn’t know any of them very well when I started, but they took me in like a long lost friend. Even when we were all tired and hungry, no one got cranky or snippy. You are looking at a group of people who are very friendly, supportive, encouraging and warm (even when I lost my crap freaking out about my foggy leg).

So after 30+ hours and 200 miles, I am a Bourbon Chaser. As my friend Tim said, it is something to check off the Bucket List. It may be something that I look back on with longing after a few days or weeks, but I’m not there yet. I am proud. Very proud. But in my heart, I kinda feel like this is a one-and-done. But I’m not making any promises.

Race Recap: Asheville Citizen-Times Half-Marathon

Okay. So I had been warned. I’d heard the term “brutal” tossed around. I knew it was going to be hilly.

But I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t ready.

This race was no joke. And I kinda loved it.

First things first: before the race. Parking was easy peasy. We parked maybe 1/4 mile from the start line. In a garage. For free. There was quite the portapotty farm by the start line. Slightly frightening because it was dark, but I didn’t even have to wait in a line.

The start was very clearly marked with anticipated finish times for lining up. And, from where I was, they were very well utilized. I didn’t have to weave at all.

The first mile or so was awesome. Ashley and I just trucked through downtown. A downhill start was very nice. We ran around Pack Square. We ran by restaurants I wanted to try. We were cruising a smidge fast for the first mile, but I’d seen the elevation profile, so I figured a little time in the bank wouldn’t hurt.

That didn’t last long. Miles 2-8 were steady uphills followed by steady downhills. Both were stressful. Here in Lexington, we do a lot of complaining about the S-Curve on the half course at Keeneland. By the end of mile 8, I had walked up several hills that would laugh at the S-Curve. I knew it was bad when I got a sidestitch from walking up a hill. I felt great, though. I was running smart. I was running up the hills as much as I could, and then quickly walking the rest of them. I was letting myself fly downhill. It felt really good. I was fueling well. I was drinking well. I was more tired than I usually am at those distances, but running through the neighborhoods of the city I will someday call home was distracting.

I was doing a really good job at pushing uphill and recovering downhill. I was feeling really solid. Until mile 10. That’s when the
hill started. From 9.5 to 10.3, we climbed 225 feet. Straight up. No relief. No leveling out. No slight downhill. Just climb. Turn a corner. Curse. Climb some more. Turn a corner. Curse. Climb some more. It wasn’t fun.

I may have tweeted an obscenity. It was that bad.

I finally turned the corner to go downhill…and it didn’t get any better. The downhill was so steep that I felt really out of control to
run. I had earned such a huge downhill and it was over so stinking fast.

And then the next climb started at 10.9. It was much more gradual, but it was still a climb. We repeated the climb. And I was done.

I looked at my Garmin around mile 11.5 and I seriously wanted to walk off that course. I know this sounds dramatic, but I felt worse physically at that moment than I did in on the Highway to Hell at mile 22 at the marathon. And I know I am better trained now than I was at the marathon. I was completely defeated. It has been a very long time since I have had that “I just don’t ever want to do this ever ever again” feeling about running, but I was just done.

But then downtown came into view. And I knew I was almost done. And I started to cry.


The last climb was short but brutal, up Walnut at the corner where Malaprop’s sits. I had been dreading that climb since we walked up it that morning. Ashley’s Dustin was there cheering for me. I made a few turns and next thing I knew, I was running into the chute.

And immediately everything changed. I went from hating my body, hating my time, and hating that city to looking forward to next year. Looking forward to training differently. Looking forward to being prepared. Looking forward to being triumphant next year. (Kinda like I approach the Keeneland course here.)

The medal was placed around my neck. Someone spilled her beer on my shoes. I ate a baggie of plain and chocolate covered pretzels. And Nathan and I cheered and cheered and cheered. We were so excited to see Ashley come through. Even though we got a double-bird and “I hate you both!”

It was epic. She was epic. We were epic.

Of course, Nathan loved it. He is already talking about the full next fall. I’ll probably stick with the half. Although the full course will skip the monster hill…who knows.

Overall:

Expo: Nice enough. They had everything I needed. Good expo for the size of the race. Parking easy. Logistics easy. Well done.

Race logistics: Well done. I had all the info I needed before the race. Parking was easy. Portajohns were plentiful and close to the
start line. Water, electrolyte drink, gu-type stuff, and pretzels were available at great intervals across the course. Volunteers were very friendly. Well done.

Course: I think I’ve covered the difficulty. It was challenging sometimes because it wasn’t closed to traffic in all areas. Intersections were very well manned, but some of the curvy roads were challenging. I never felt threatened or unsafe, but I could tell the drivers were angry. Coming up into downtown at the end, the right lane went from being closed for us to run in to wide open. The cones just disappeared. I was running in a pack, so I continued running in the lane, but I was really unsure if I was supposed to be there or not. The final stretch, though, was on sidewalk and that made me frustrated. As did the volunteers not paying attention and not telling us about the final turn. (The lady in front of me asked in a very aggressive way if we were supposed to turn, so she relayed the frustration for our little pack.)

Swag: The shirt and the medal are AWESOME. I also really like the sweatshirt I picked up. “Hills smills” makes me laugh. I liked that our bags weren’t full of flyers and papers that we’d just throw away.

Would I do this race again? Absolutely. But would I understand why someone would say they wouldn’t? Absolutely. It was brutal. But wonderfully brutal.

So you’re coming with me next year, right?

Race Recap: Hunger Run 10K

So every race won’t be perfect. And that isn’t always something that can be helped. Sometimes things happen that are just out of a race director’s control. Before I start what I hope doesn’t sound like a rant, I want to make sure I clarify. I do not think my major issues with this race were in any way the fault of the race director or the charity that put on the race.

Okay, then. Here I go.

Saturday morning, Nathan and I ran the Hunger Run for River Cities Harvest. We grew up in Greenup County and like to do as many races there as possible. Not only does it make me happy to see that our small area is putting on races, but they are usually pretty cheap and pretty small. This one was no different. $18 for a 10K. Granted, the website says that 50/50 DriFit shirts were “guaranteed” to the first 150 racers. There were 80 racers combined in 5K and 10K. And we got cotton shirts. No big deal, though. It was $18 to a good cause.

My other beef with this race (that could have been controlled) was the late start. The race started at 9am. In July. It was hot when we got there. We split a bottle of water before we even got started. I was prepared to run the race, not race it. I knew that getting a PR would be next to impossible when it was 85* and 80% humidity when the race started. I checked my email and the website frantically so that I wouldn’t miss an early start announcement. But it never came.

9:00 it was.

these are our race faces.

We lined up with the other 20 people running the 10K. I chatted it up with a few other ladies who I thought I might be able to fall into a groove with. And we were off.

The first mile or so was really really fun. We ran around the old high school, down a nice hill, and through 2 railroad underpasses (one was long and uncomfortably dark). That’s when the field started to spread out a little. Going up the hill out of the second underpass, the ladies I had planned on hanging with started to walk. I wasn’t feeling that yet, so I kept going. I ran past the diary bar where my best friend worked in high school. My first mile was 10:26. That is ridiculously fast for me.

The second mile also wasn’t too bad. The course was close to the river, so it was mostly flat and pretty shady. But I knew that with such a small field, and the number of ladies behind me, I had a chance of placing in my age group. So I just kept running along. I saw an aid station coming up, so I drank about half of my handheld Gu powdered drink and topped it back off with water. My second mile was in 11:35. Much better 10K pace for me.

The third mile? I started to fall apart. The shade wasn’t as frequent. There wasn’t a lot to look at. I was really feeling the heat. The girl that I had kept in my sights was getting farther and farther away. I was not excited to be running. Not at all. I thought of Mark racing his first Ironman and that kept me going. I didn’t want to run anymore. I kept thinking that the late start time was stupid. That it was dangerous for us to be out. But there were two ambulances driving around, so that was comforting to me. Third mile: 12:32.

What I was most excited about with this race was the second half. Once the route crossed the railroad tracks, it went through my hometown. Past the grocery store, the post office, the middle school, the church that held my favorite Bible school, the railroad my dad used to work at, the place I had my 16th birthday party. The second half was going to be fun. That’s what got me through those first 3.8 miles before we crossed the railroad tracks.

Oh, wait. The railroad tracks. Between the time that the quick people crossed the tracks and when the fun runners made it there, a train had crossed the tracks. And stopped. As I approached the intersection, I could see people standing there trying to decide what to do. I watched as two ladies decided to go walking down the other set of tracks to see how far it was to the end of the train. I stood there – in some man’s yard – talking to the homeowner and another runner. Trying to figure out what to do. The other runner decided to join the other ladies in pursuit of the end of the train. It didn’t feel safe to me. I didn’t want to get hit by a train, and I didn’t want to stand there for who knows how long to wait for it to start moving again. I asked the other runner to find my husband when he finished (I mean, how hard is it to find a big red beard?) and tell him that I was retracing the first half of the course and to come and pick me up. We exchanged names and descriptions. He took off one way, and I took off the other.

I was signing on for more distance than a 10K. Because I didn’t want to just stand there and get more overheated. I wanted to be done running. I didn’t want to make it last any longer. Not long after I turned around, I came across one of the ambulances. It stopped and I informed them of what I was doing and why. The passenger let me know that they would keep an eye on me. And he gave me a bottle of water. I came across 8 or 9 runners behind me. I let them know that the train had stopped and I was turning back. In the next mile, I could see that the train still wasn’t moving. But I was happy that I was still moving. Mile 4 was rough. I was back in the hot, shadeless part of the run. I had the worst mile there at 13:02. Such a far cry from 10:26. I could tell that the train started moving almost exactly a mile after I had turned around. I was so glad I hadn’t stood there for 12 minutes.

Somewhere around mile 5, I took off my number. I felt so much better once I took that off. I was just a lonely runner out there, having a lonely bad run. A bad run felt completely different in my head than a bad race. The ambulances stopped to chat with me a few times, giving me water. I expressed my concern about running through the tunnels and was assured that there were raised sidewalks. Okay, then. I was running until Nathan came to get me. Oh, and they gave me another bottle of water. Greatly appreciated.

Even with the heat, I finished the 10K in 1:15:something. I kept my garmin on because I was giving myself credit for every step that I ran, but I felt at that point I had finished what I’d set out to do. So I could walk as much as I wanted to after that. And I walked a lot.

The tunnels were interesting. The sidewalk stayed at a level even with the tops of the cars, so I got no light from headlights at all. I stepped in a big puddle and got scared to death by a pigeon. Or maybe I scared him to death. Probably a little of both. Either way, that bird was the most dangerous part of my day.

I made it through the second tunnel, turned right, and saw my awesome husband on his great white steed in our lovely beige Altima coming toward me. I stopped my garmin at 6.97 and happily climbed in the passenger set. The guy had given him the message and he came back for me. I wanted to go back to the clock and let them know that I was safe and Nate wanted to go see if he’d won anything, so back to the race site we went. I went to the finish line, showed my number, and announced that I did not finish. Yup, my first DNF. Yes, I did more than the distance, but I didn’t do almost half of the course. I didn’t feel right crossing the finish line. So I didn’t. (If I had crossed at 1:15, I’d have finished 2nd in my age group.)

As I watched people come in, I learned something that still chills me to the bone. The ladies behind me? They climbed BETWEEN TRAIN CARS. They didn’t go around, they went BETWEEN. We were in a train town. I can see where the runners were from and they all grew up around trains too. You don’t take any chances with trains, friends. You just don’t. This scared me to death. We are so lucky no one was hurt or killed. I still can’t believe that happened.

But there is good news! My Nathan finished 2nd Overall Male!

So, yeah. I’m strangely peaceful about my first DNF. I made the best decision for me. I was in a situation that I knew I had someone to come back for me. I had multiple options to get in support vehicles and be taken to the finish. I truly feel that the race supported me on the repeat of the first half. I just can’t believe people climbed between train cars. *shudder*

And I also wish I’d ran the BG10K. Oh well. I still rocked the Big Hand.

Bluegrass 10,000 Race Report from Amber

Amber was gracious enough to write a Race Report for us! If you want to see how other Ladies did, check out reports from Lydia and Katie.

Thanks so much, Amber!

Amber at the Iron Horse 2011

Amber at the Iron Horse 2011

Wednesday I woke up at 5:45, well to be honest the alarm went off at 5:45 and I actually got up at 6:00. I did my normal pre-run routine, coffee and oatmeal with fresh fruit, half a banana, and let Lola (the dog of the house) outside. I was walking from home to the race start so I knew I would have the walk to wake up. I met my brother outside and we leisurely walked toward the race start. I arrived at Thoroughbred Park at approximately 7:00 a.m. which I thought was a touch early but everyone was already geared up and ready to go. The LexRunLadies group was congregated and the excitement and nervousness was palpable! The weather was great, clear sky and in the mid-70s, a beautiful morning.

The starting line was crowded and steamy, as expected. There were over 3015 finishers for the race this year, which was the 36th running of the Bluegrass 10,000. I do not race very often, so I when I do I try to pick well organized and coordinated events with some significance for me. The Bluegrass 10,000 has quite a reputation in Lexington and it seems all the natives hold it in a special place. I was so impressed by the community involvement along the entire course. There were neighborhoods out cheering and spraying us with water hoses (welcomed cool zones on a hot morning). Aside from the wonderful crowds and cheering the race itself was precisely coordinated and ran (pun intended) smoothly. The organizers did an impeccable job. The course was well marked with signs every mile and plenty of volunteers at every turn. There were adequate water stations along the course which is so important on a hot morning like yesterday. The firefighters, volunteers, and kind spectators had water hoses and “cool mist zones” set up along the course. Initially I found myself avoiding the water but during the second half of the race I ran through every sprinkler I could, like a kid in the backyard.

I guess this brings me to the part of the review about the course. After the start signal there was an agonizing 4 minute time gap before I got to cross the start gates then we took off toward downtown. We saw the finish line and got a glimpse of all the festivities awaiting us after 6 short (?) miles. I started slow, I have a nasty little habit of starting out too fast then running out of energy, so the plan was to start out slower than I wanted then “kick it in” in the second half of the race. The first 2 miles were flawless, mostly flat and downtown. I saw Krissie and Ann on Vine Street with an awesome silver hand sign and was feeling good. Then, we started out Richmond Rd toward Shriner’s hospital and were met with a long gradual climb toward Clay Street. This was not a bad hill, especially if you have been running out at Legacy, but nonetheless takes a bit of energy out of your legs. As we ran past the Henry Clay estate the hill let up and I started noticing all the spectators and signs. The crowd was great, both sides of Richmond Rd and the median were full of people watching and cheering. We saw the elite pack running to our left, having already made the turn-around, on their way to the finish.

As we approached the turn-around we heard live music from the median and my pace quickened. I was ready for the turn-around, it was starting to really heat up and get steamy, and I needed the mental boost of knowing I was on my way back. My original “plan” told me I should be quickening the pace here…ah plans. I did as much as I could to get my pace up but I had not factored in just how much the heat was going to zap my energy. Mile 4 was tough, tired, and grimy. I think my pace was a touch quicker on the way back and we got to run downhill heading back to downtown. It provided a boost mentally and physically. The last mile was the best of the race for me; I could see the finish line for about a mile before we reached it. I mustered up some energy and just kept going (I like to sing the Dory song: “just keep swimming” when I get tired, somehow it always helps). I saw Krissie and the awesome silver hand again just before the finish and pushed hard to get a few seconds on my time. I crossed the finish line, almost ran into some people in the shoot, and grabbed and chugged a blue Gatorade. I finished!

As a wrap-up I loved this race. Even with the heat and humidity, even though I didn’t PR, and even though I didn’t run a time I was shooting for. I would sign up again, tomorrow. I was lucky enough to have my Dad and brother both there to support me.  I felt like this was the most representative Lexington race I have seen so far. I loved knowing that the other LexRunLadies were there, some doing their first 10K, others running one of many. Congratulations to everyone who finished. It was a great experience!

Race Report: Flying Pig Marathon from Erin

Flying Pig Marathon Recap AKA Highway to Hell AKA Don’t you put that evil on me Ricky Bobby

I registered for the FPM last winter.  I don’t have a great running base, only about 1.5 years, but I’ve done 4 half marathons and I know I enjoy distance. I had planned on working on my speed soon, but I had several friends and my husband that were registering for it. Knowing that I was moving in the summer to Florida where I will have no running buddies, I figured it would be a good idea to train for my first full marathon now, when I’d have tons of support.

Things were going well until I developed mild runner’s knee in March. I took a week off and cut back my mileage. Apparently I had altered my gait without realizing it, because suddenly on my 20 miler I had IT Band pain on the opposite leg. I was limited to 5 miles. Same thing happened the next week. At this point it was 2 weeks out from the race. I was frustrated. I decided to stop all activity for 2 weeks and stretch, foam roll, and yoga daily. My plan was to start the race and if it hurt, take the half marathon split and walk it in if needed.

Fast forward to race day. We got up at 4:15 and I had my usual long run breakfast—coffee, PB sandwich, banana, water.  We met Krissie and Nathan in the lobby of our hotel and headed over to the start line. We took a few pics, then broke up to go to our respective corrals.  Krissie and I waited excitedly in G corral and then finally we were off 16 minutes after the gun.

The first five miles were uneventful.  The first sign I saw was “Don’t you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!” I have a special place in my heart for Ricky Bobby quotes so this made me laugh and was a great start to the race.  We were sweating by mile 2, but not uncomfortable in 60 degree weather.  We were conservative and walked a few inclines.  We drank water or Gatorade at every station. The 5-6 mile stretch brought familiar faces—my mom, stepdad, Courtney and the #Runky sign, Miranda.

6-9 miles were The Climb.  We ran-walked to not waste energy.  I had a few random pains, but nothing bad.  At the split, I pretended like I didn’t even see the half signs and off I went with Krissie to do the full marathon.  I silently prayed “If my IT Band has to hurt, wait until at least after mile 20.”  We saw a marathoner juggling somewhere along here.  Yes.  Juggling and running.

Miles 10-18 were still good.  I turned on music to take my mind off the random pains I was having, thinking they were probably psychological, not actually physical.  I sang out loud a little—thank you Britney Spears for providing quality running music.  We maintained our goal pace through this whole time, drinking every station and taking gels on schedule.  There were more great signs—“Keep going, Keep going, That’s what she said”.  It was perfect and just what a marathon should be.

Miles 19-26.2 were different.  We didn’t hit the wall in the traditional sense.  What we hit was the intense heat of the day.  It was now around 11 am and the temperature was in the 80’s.  We were on a highway without shade.  We ran okay for a while then began a more run/walk even though it was flat.  At one point I started getting dizzy and my heart rate was up even with just walking. I dumped water all over me—my head, chest, back.  It didn’t help.  We walked.  And walked.  Krissie stopped thanking everyone who cheered, so I knew she was feeling it too.  Finally, I told her that I was afraid to run anymore because I was so dehydrated.  I told her to run ahead if she felt like it, that I didn’t mind.  She admitted she had been feeling the same.  So we planned to walk to 26, then run in the last .2.  We repeatedly grabbed ice, doused ourselves with cups and bottles of water, and stood in the path of water hoses. At some point, I stopped sweating completely.  I looked around and noticed no one else around us was running either.  We were all miserable together in direct sunlight on asphalt in the hottest part of the day.  At one point a band was playing “Highway to Hell” and I proclaimed that Riverside Drive was definitely THE highway to hell.  Or in hell.  Either way.

I tweeted and texted my family that we were walking and would be late.  Krissie even stated if it weren’t her first marathon that she’d walk off the course and I think I would have also.  I can’t describe how hot we were.  And to add to the misery, our legs felt fine.  We kept saying, if only there had been some shade, maybe we could run a little.  At mile 25 Nathan showed up and walked the last mile with us.  It took us 2 hours to make it 6 miles.  We sprinted the measly little .2 to the finish line and got our medals.  It was anti-climactic. No tears.  Few spectators.  Food and drinks being packed away. Party over.

We took a few pics and then my husband and I headed to my mother in law’s to shower.  At this point, I just stood in the shower and sobbed.  My thoughts: What a shitty first marathon.  My heart rate is still high.  I’m still dehydrated.  I didn’t get to hang out at the post race party.  I didn’t get the post-race beer I had so been looking forward to.

Now that I’m home and rehydrated, I feel a little better about it.  I ran a marathon.  I went to John’s and got a 26.2 sticker to prove it.  I don’t know what I could have done differently to avoid dehydration.  We kept a conservative pace.  We hydrated every station.  Maybe if we were faster runners, we would have been finished before the heat surged.  Maybe I should have waited to do a marathon until I was a faster runner.  I don’t know.  But I’m still proud.  Today I’m not injured–only stiff legged.  And walking like I’m pregnant, according to Krissie.

Final thoughts—the Flying Pig is a great race.  Do it. Do any distance.  But do it.  ASAP.  If the temperature ever gets in the 80’s—stop running.  I will never run in heat like that again.  I do realize the irony of moving to florida next month, but still.  I want to thank Krissie for running with me in 20 degree and 80 degree weather, in rain and in humidity.  You’ve been a great running partner and I’ll miss you when I move.  Thank you to my husband for picking me up in the car because he thought I’d be too sick to walk back to the hotel. For helping me roll over in bed this morning because my legs wouldn’t work.  And for being proud of me even though he finished his race 2 hours before me.  Thank you to #runky for the tweets and the signs.  Thank you to my mom and stepdad for spectating.  And thank you Highway to Hell.  For what, I’m still not sure of, but thanks for leading me to an awesome medal.

a little bit of this and a little bit of that

I’m still reeling from Run the Bluegrass! I wanted to share reviews from a few of our friends. I’ll add others as I come across them. Leave any you’ve found (or written) in the comments!

Krissie (me!)

Lydia

Faith

Bob

DJ

While I’m at it, you should try to join us Wednesday night at 6pm to celebrate RtB! We’ll meet at Thai Orchid. Let me know if you plan on coming (sign up on the spreadsheet) so I can tell Toa how many of us to expect!

Over the next few days, I’ll be throwing out lots of info for upcoming training plans. I know they are like a month early, but I want you to have plenty of time to prepare or to get the info out to your friends. C25K and B210K will start mid-May and then a plan for the Iron Horse Half won’t be far behind.

Also check the new set-up on the schedule page. A calendar shows the info in a more organized way, but there is still a link at the bottom of the page for the spreadsheet to sign up.

I hope to see you all soon!

happy running,

krissie

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