I think it's fitting that my 20th half marathon, and last race of 2017, was "monumental."
There are a few reasons why this race had been on my radar for a while:
1. It's a flat course. Come on, who DOESN'T want to race a flat course and attempt a PR?
2. It's close to friends. Our dear friends live 20 minutes from the starting line, and it gave a great excuse to visit them for a weekend.
3. The medal. Each year, I had seen the Monumental medals and knew that they were some quality bling. What runner doesn't want some nice bling, right?
While it had been on my list, the biggest deterrent from running Monumental was that it is four hours from home, and another race, Marshall University Marathon/Half Marathon, is only 20 minutes away from my house, and run on the same weekend each year. So, local won. But, after four years of running Marshall, and continually missing my sub-2 goal there (even though it is also a flat course), I was ready for a change.
(Side note: The first weekend in November reminds me of two things, which cause me to wear purple at my race: My Daddy's birthday is November 1st, and November is also Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, so I go purple for Dad.)
I signed up for this race, knowing that my goal for Fall 2017 was the Chicago Marathon, and not a half marathon personal record. Indy was going to be my "fun race." I told myself I was just going to run for me, and not train for any particular time. It's very difficult to train for a half and full in the same training season, simply because your pace is very different. To train for Chicago, I was looking to hold a 10-minute pace for 26.2 miles. To sub-2 a half, you must hold 9:09 or under for 13.1. So, for this training, I chose distance over speed, and planned to just enjoy a new course at Monumental.
Since our family was all going on this trip, we waited until the boys were just about out of school on Friday, and made the 4-hour trip to Indianapolis. We headed straight to the convention center downtown for the expo, and then on to our friends' house for the night.
My son, Camden, was my sidekick as we quickly went through to get my bib and then back to the car where the others were waiting. I honestly don't LOVE expos. I think it's the introvert in me. Crowds unnerve me and it's really difficult to be in those kinds of settings for too long. The Monumental expo was about half the size of Pittsburgh or Chicago, but still had plenty of vendors and a nice set up. It was a bit confusing to know where to go (and again, crowds make me nervous), so I would have appreciated some large signs or someone to tell you that the packet pick-up was in the back. Thankfully, the shirts were given with the packet, rather than going to another station, like other big races do. Camden was thrilled to get a couple free posters and small candy canes for his brother and sister, and then we headed back to the car. All in all, the expo was fine, just a little confined for my liking, and definitely not a family-friendly event like Pittsburgh's.
Race day was set to be PERFECT weather...and it was! Part of the reason I had a tough time at my other two races this fall (Air Force Half and Chicago), was the heat. The prediction for Indy was 40s and cloudy. Basically, a runner's dream.
I left the house at about 6:20 a.m. and parked in a reserved lot about .40 miles from the start. I hadn't looked at the map of the start/finish, so I just found other runners and walked over with them. We eventually found the corrals, but it did take a while. I was nervous about getting to the porta potties BEFORE the race (since I ran out of time before Chicago), so as soon as I found some near my corral, I hopped in line.
The starting area was right beside the capitol building, and even in the darkness of the morning, it was BEAUTIFUL! Everyone I spoke to before the race was so kind, and I really enjoyed making small talk with several strangers. I also had the opportunity to meet up with one of my challengers, Bill. We have been in running groups online, and now we work together in an accountability group, so it was really cool to meet in person and wish each other well before the race.
As I mentioned, weather was PERFECT. I don't prefer to gear check, so while the morning was cold, and I wore a long-sleeve hoodie and gloves before the start, as it got closer to the gun, I started questioning my attire choice. The great thing is that my skirts that I wear have tons of pockets, so I just slid my gloves in one of those. Unfortunately, the elites were already starting just one wave before us, and my bib was pinned to the long-sleeve shirt. With the crowd pressed around me, I was getting warmer and knew I had to get that layer off and move my bib to my tank top, so as we walked to the starting line, I was a hot mess!!! I was trying to get my bib moved, tie my shirt around me (because it's one of my favs and I didn't want to toss it), AND my satellites hadn't loaded yet because of all the tall buildings! Regardless, that starting line got closer, and it was time to go. With my watch still loading, we crossed the line and I just prayed it would catch up! My guess is about 0.10 or so, it finally started!
The first few miles are always crowded with a race this big, and especially so when the half and full marathoners start at the same time. I was expecting Mile 1 to be slower, but it was 8:37. Good. That's a little fast, but I'll take it. Something happened, and Mile 2 clicked at 9:34. Enter freak out. Way off. I told myself that the satellites were still off from the buildings and that couldn't be right, but I bumped up my pace just in case I really was moving that speed. (See, in my head, I really DID want redemption from Air Force and Chicago. I really DID want to set a new personal record for the half. And I knew I had to stay at 8:58 or under to make that happen). Well, that must have scared me straight, because I never hit over 9:00 again after that! Mile 3 was 8:20 and it fluctuated, usually hitting in the 8:40s and 8:50s.
Since I was running solo, I didn't have to worry about talking or smiling or anything at all but running. I felt really good, and I knew if I stayed focused and in the zone, I could pull this out. I just couldn't QUIT that pace I was doing. And that meant water stops, too. I have had many races where I walk through the water stops and allow myself those few seconds of slowing down. I also remember how my stomach felt when I chugged tons of water at my other (very hot) races this fall. Not good. I decided that I would not stop, which would also only allow me to take a small sip, not chug. (Plus, with the cooler weather, I honestly didn't need much water). My strategy was to go to the end of the water tables, by-passing those walking through at the front of the tables, and grab a cup, take 1-2 sips without slowing, and toss the rest. And so I did. And it worked.
The course itself is flat, as advertised, and the crowd support was probably comparable to Marshall or Air Force, or something like that. Not very many people cheering, but that was okay by me. I was laser-focused. Mile 8 had some gels, and I took one from the volunteer, but since I didn't really need it, I just shoved it in my skirt pocket. Otherwise, the course offered water and gatorade at about every mile or mile and a half. The stations seemed to come at the perfect times for me, and I only skipped one or two.
There were clocks at each mile, and by Mile 6 and the halfway timing mat, I knew I was on pace to PR. The question was... could I hold it? I am historically slower in my second half of any race. I have tried to build up a buffer in most races to account for this, even though that is not a recommended race strategy. So, after Mile 6, 7, 8, I just kept worrying that I would fall behind my pace, so that fear drove me to stay steady. With every 8-something mile click, my confidence boosted a bit--enough to keep pushing.
I knew from the last time I PRed a half marathon (December 2016 at Country Music Highway Half), I needed to make sure I hit Mile 10 at or under 1:30:00. That became my focus. And I hit it at 1:28--something. Perfect! I knew that even if something happened and my last 3 miles slowed to 10 minutes, I would STILL be under a 2-hour half, but a 9:00 pace would get me in at 1:56-1:57ish. My PR stood at 1:57:54.
One thing I noticed during this race, and especially on the back half, was how many people I had passed. This is not the norm for me. Usually, I get defeated by how many people are passing me, or how I try to keep up with someone who catches my eye, but they drift out of view. This time, I happened to have entered my starting corral at the back of it, by the 2:00 pacer. I just wanted to keep in front of her, but I never saw her after the start, since I was ahead. It was a strange, but really good feeling. There was one girl I kept leapfrogging, who looked strong and I was guessing might go for a sub-2. I kept her in sights for a while. Then, the last 5-6 miles, I saw a guy and a girl running together, and it looked like he was coaching her. I was just behind them for a really long time, and they finished only a few steps ahead of me. I don't normally find motivation in "chasing people," but it was comforting to see that I was passing some and staying consistent with my pacing this time around. (I caught up to the strong-looking girl at the finish area and I told her that she kept me going. She ended up finishing after me, but this was her first race post-baby, so it was so cool to encourage her and see her do well!)
The last 3 miles of the half are always the hardest. And then it's the last two. Well, at 1.5 miles till the end, my stomach started tightening up. It felt like a really bad cramp across my mid-section, right underneath my ribcage. I told myself it was nothing. I was NOT going to let that get the best of me. I only had a mile and a half to go. PUSH THROUGH. So, I did. I kept seeing a PR in my head, visualizing crossing that finish line. I wondered if I could even make a 1:55, like my running partner, Cassie, had done a year ago at Marshall. Just keep going.
I saw photographers closer to the end of the course, and I knew I had on my game face. I didn't even care. Half of the race I wasn't even looking around. I was at work. Maybe that doesn't sound "fun" to most people, but MAN, hitting a goal takes work, and I'm not afraid of that. When I saw I had a really great opportunity, with awesome conditions surrounding me, I had to GO FOR IT. And that meant, getting down to business. So... my pictures definitely reflect some of that!
I don't usually study course maps, I just kinda go for the surprise. But, I DID remember that the finish came after a few short turns. The last three miles were long and straight back into the downtown area, and when we turned a few times, I knew the finish was close. And that is exactly what happened. When I saw the finish line, I gave it all I had, and I knew it should be a PR, but I wasn't sure if I would break 1:57:00.
I clicked off my Garmin at the timing mat and it said,
1:56:20 total time
I did it. (Unofficial time, but I knew I had set a PR).
Crossing the finish line solo is an experience. I have run with friends and I have done races by myself, with people cheering me on. I've done some solo, with no one to greet me at the finish. This race was the latter. No one was there to congratulate me when I crossed that line, but, I was strangely okay with that. Remember that introverted thing? Well, running a race without the support of family or friends at the finish, is like dining alone. Not everyone is okay with that, but it was okay for me. I had time to compose myself, walk through the shoot and get my water and medal, and decompress a bit.
After asking a stranger to take my pic, I headed over to the Results tent to see the official time. I was told it wasn't ready yet, and the Massage tent caught my eye. Perfect! I will get a massage and get the results after that. My stomach was a bit upset, as usual, so I only drank my bottle of water and held onto the other things offered as snacks. I talked with another nice runner in line for the massages, and it was TOTALLY worth the wait. I don't know if I've gotten a massage after a race before or not (usually the lines are way too long), but it was free and I would highly recommend!
Back to the Results tent and I was pleased to see that I definitely got in the 1:56s!
New official personal record!
AND... my last half of the race was faster than the first! I don't think that has ever happened!
GOD IS GOOD!
As soon as I gathered myself together, I realized that I was finally cold again, so I put on my long-sleeve shirt, new beanie, and space blanket and contacted my friend, Margaret, who had run the 5K. She met me in the pizza tent (and man, I was so happy for Papa John's). It was great to catch up for a few minutes before heading back to our friends' house. It's such a cool experience to meet running friends in person, after getting to know them through Facebook groups!
So, Indy Monumental... You were very good to me.
I would definitely recommend this race. The only complaint that comes to mind is that the t-shirt is not my fave, but that's ok, the beanie is cute! If you are looking for a good fall race in the mid-west, Monumental lives up to its reputation.
#20 in the books!
I don't even remember when it started, but I made a mental "bucket list" of races that I wanted to accomplish some day. Some people want to run New York, or maybe L.A., but I wanted to run Chicago. Why? I honestly don't know. Out of the big marathons, I wanted to see this city that I had heard so much about, but had never experienced for myself (unless you count a layover in O'Hare Airport).
In November 2016, the Chicago Marathon lottery opened. One night, I decided that I might as well apply and see what happened. I told my husband (since he would need to be on board if I got in), and waited until the emails were released in December. (It was also an option to run for charity, but knowing that we had just adopted my daughter and asked for financial assistance for that, I did not feel led to sign up for a charity fundraiser so that I could run a marathon.) The day came, and I received my acceptance email...and directions to send money and complete my registration. I was all signed up to run the Chicago Marathon!
After registering, I put everything about the race on the back burner. I was dedicating my spring training cycle to getting prepared for my first ultra marathon: a 50K trail race in Ohio. I also had the Pittsburgh Marathon slated before that, as a "training run." So, not much time to think about Chicago. I completed the spring races and thoroughly enjoyed the accomplishments there, but a spring and summer full of travel delayed my training for a while. I kept thinking I had time to start training, and then all of a sudden, it was July, and I had to get back on the ball!
I started officially marathon training in August 2017. 8 weeks from race day. No, I would not suggest this kind of plan. Since I am an avid runner and cross-trainer, most people said I was in good enough shape to adapt to a shorter training cycle, but I knew I would not have the kind of results I wanted because of the tight schedule. Nevertheless, I dedicated my weekdays and Saturdays (and some back-to-back runs) to getting my mileage up. By the end of August, I ran my 18-mile training run, and then did 20 miles the day of Air Force Half Marathon, though the miles were split up a bit because of that race. And one, broken 20 was not the same as multiple 20+ mile runs I had done for spring ultra training. And I felt it.
Aside from the short training, I still did the best that I could with the time I had. Coming into race day, I was definitely more nervous, but I was trying to give myself grace for the season it was. I had some traveling surrounding this race, as well, and even a last-minute change to my marathon weekend plans. Originally, my husband and children were going to make the 6.5 hour drive with me to the Windy City on Friday, sightseeing scheduled for Saturday, and then the race on Sunday, with hubby helping to drive me home. Due to sickness, my family could not go up with me, and I ended up rooming with friends and going solo.
I left Saturday morning at 5am EST and arrived at 10:30am CST, with plenty of time to go to the expo. I easily got my bib and through the expo center and went to my hotel. My plan was to meet up with a few people I know through Facebook running groups, and run with one friend I had met online, Dana. She messaged me and said that I could change corrals with my proof of time from Pittsburgh, giving us a 30-minute head start from our original corral. With the heat forecasted, that seemed like a good idea, so I tried not to get too lost in finding the shuttle back to the expo, and switching my bib.
The expo was large, but definitely comparable in size to Pittsburgh. The Abbott World Marathon Major Series was the showcase of the entire event. I never really thought about running Chicago because it is one of the world majors, I just wanted to see the city and I knew it was supposed to be one of the best race experiences! The lines were long to get pictures in front of different areas in the expo, and since I was going alone, I had a few pictures taken with the help of strangers, but that was about it. They did have a fantastic video of the course, sped up to show each mile and it was awesome to watch. Everything was high-quality for sure. I was surprised that there were very few interactive booths or samples, mostly just "store" set ups, so you were urged to buy more. Definitely not an expo my family would have enjoyed, so it's a good thing I could just get in and get out!
There was no rest for the weary on Saturday, with going to the expo twice, and then trying to meet up with Dana and her friend, Jennifer that afternoon. We had a little time together before heading to eat dinner, and then I made my way back to my hotel for the night. Thankfully, I was able to get to bed by 9pm and the hotel was very close to the starting corrals!
Dana and I met up at the hotel and walked to the starting area. Security was high, especially due to recent events in Las Vegas, and it took a while to be individually scanned before entering the next area. Our start time was 8:00am and it was already warm. We thought about waiting for a porta-potty near the entrance, but decided to head closer to the huge area of porta-potties, thinking the lines would move faster. Well, they didn't, and 10 minutes before our corral closed, we gave up.
Throughout our training (Dana having 18 weeks and a run coach, and me having 8 weeks and well....me), we had watched each other get faster and we were running similar times. So, it wasn't long before we realized we had the same goal for this race, and it would be fun to run together as long as we could. The great thing about runners is that we get it. We are not offended if we don't stick together. We bless and release if someone needs to go faster or slower. So... our plan was to just run, enjoy, and see what happened.
The first few miles were far less crowded than I anticipated. In Pittsburgh, the half, full, and relay runners are all starting together, making it very difficult to run pace, just because you are afraid to step on someone. In Chicago, it was only the full marathon, and the crowd of runners was more manageable, even though there were more runners all together. I think they just had more corrals and spaced it well. We talked the first few miles and already felt the heat. I LOVED the tour of the city and staying in the downtown area allowed us to be shaded and have a slight breeze for quite a while. I am very grateful we moved up and started when we did. By Mile 5 we were running happy, even on pace for what Dana had wanted. Pace is a funny thing in Chicago because the buildings don't allow for accurate satellite reception, and our Garmins were off the entire time, but she seemed happy, so I just stuck with her.
I hate to keep comparing it to Pittsburgh, but I had trained really well for that race last spring, and I set a hilly PR I was hoping to break at a flat course in Chicago. My game plan for Pittsburgh was a sub-2-hour half marathon (9:09 pace), and then taking the second half at 10-11 min/mile pace, knowing I naturally slow down on the back end. (My plan worked pretty well and I had a PR of 4:22 in my hometown.) Dana trained to hit 10s the whole way, even speeding up her second half. So, different strategies, but I just went with the flow, knowing that a sub-2 half wasn't going to be in the cards for this race.
The water stops were about every mile on the course. Thousands of volunteers made it really well-done. Gatorade and water lined the road on both sides. I had eaten my dried fruit before the race even started, so I didn't have much fuel on me, other than my little bottle of Sword hydration. I kept running through the stops until the end of the water line and would grab a cup of water each time (knowing how the Gatorade hurt my stomach at Air Force Half a few weeks before). Dana had a handheld bottle, she would have the volunteers fill up, so we would eventually catch each other somewhere after each stop. We did a kind of back-and-forth, look-for-each-other dance for quite a while.
Mile 10, 11, 12, 13...we made it half-way. It was HOT. No where near a sub-2, but still pretty close to 10-min/mile. I was trying to keep hydrated. I was getting hungry. I wondered why there were no GU gels or anything at Mile 6 like I envisioned there would be. Didn't they know I had no fuel on me? Somewhere after the half, the volunteers gave out Gatorade Endurance Energy Chews. I was so thankful, and a little nervous about trying something new, but I knew I needed some fuel. I took one and some water, and thanked God that I had pockets in my skirt to keep the rest for later. Around Mile 14 was the last time I saw Dana. We lost each other at a water stop and never found each other until the finish line. It was okay. My stomach was starting to hurt, and I needed to find a porta-potty.
I started praying for a porta-potty area, which it seemed were about every 2-3 miles. At Mile 15, I saw there were signs for some, and I stopped off and texted Dana that I likely wouldn't catch up at that point. I wish I could say that solved all my stomach issues, but they continued until about Mile 19. That's where I stopped AGAIN to use the bathroom! I couldn't believe it! And then, by this point, we were far from shade or breeze, so the sun was beating down. It was miserable. I knew my 4:20 goal was long gone. At one point I thought maybe 4:30...then 4:45 wouldn't be so bad...then, I was just calculating if I could even break 5 hours.
During marathons, things start to "hurt" but you aren't even sure if it's real. You distract your mind to think of something else. I had an issue with my right shoe around Mile 8 or so, and I kept trying to adjust the tongue, my sock, anything to make the rubbing go away (even though I had slathered on Glide before the race). Other times, I thought my hips were bugging me, or my tendonitis, and on and on. The shoe thing lasted a few miles, but I just kept telling myself it was all in my head and I was fine.
Miles 20-26 were tough. That's when you dig deep for sure. I questioned why I do this. Why do I run full marathons? Halfs are way more manageable. They don't hurt like this. The crowd support was totally amazing. I was wondering if I was going crazy, seeing the same signs again, but now I'm sure they were just family/friends moving around the course to cheer on their runner multiple times. But in the moment, I was like, "I saw that sign before...hmmmm..."
There were cheer squads all over the different neighborhoods. My personal favorite was earlier in the race. It was a mob of orange and white shirts for World Vision. They were all standing in a median in the street and I just LOVED their energy! Other favorites were the Mexicans, Japanese, and going through Chinatown. And yes, I have a favoritism towards Asians, since my daughter is Chinese. I can't explain it, but it was just comforting to see them there.
At some point, they started giving small cuts of bananas out around the water stops. At one of them, I saw orange peels on the side of the road and thought about how AMAZING an orange would be. Unfortunately, all the super fast people must have eaten them all, because only bananas were being given. I was CRAVING an orange then. And honestly PRAYING for an orange or watermelon (and I've had both on other courses before...heaven!). Eventually, we came up on the Korean cheer section, and I was pleasantly distracted by a guy dancing in the street to the music (he looked like he was probably a runner himself, but just cheering that day). He was super funny and awesome and it made me smile when I wanted to die a little inside. Out of nowhere, I saw a sweet Korean girl handing out half of a mandarin orange!!!! YES!!! I grabbed it from her and said, "GOD BLESS YOU!" and savored every bite! There was a lady who passed me and said, "You don't know how long I've been waiting for an orange!" and I replied, "Oh, I know! I've been PRAYING for one, too!" So, moral of the story...if you ever cheer a race....bring oranges. We will love you.
Usually by the later miles, I'm trying very poorly to calculate and do mental math. For this race, it was already 77 degrees and full sun, and I was trying to survive. I decided that to be mad about my time was useless. I was in CHICAGO! At a World Major! I was going to ENJOY it. I got the BEST tour of that beautiful city, and I was going to FINISH no matter what. The only thing making me upset was myself. No need for that. Disappointed? Yes, but mad at myself? No.
The crowds got thicker with the last few miles. Everyone seemed to be struggling around me. I asked many people I found hobbling if they were okay, and they all said yes, but didn't want to engage with me, so I kept going. There were medic areas around the course, and the later ones were definitely being used quite a bit. I was focused on finishing, but found out afterwards that there were so many who did not cross that line. I knew the last mile had an uphill and then it would be done. I was determined to muster up everything I had left and run that entire last mile. Even if my run was no faster than a power walk, I was running that last long mile. And I did.
I saw the finish line and it took everything in me not to bust into full-blown tears.
I did it. I ran the Chicago Marathon.
I had no one there to hug me. My time didn't matter. My Garmin said I had run 27 miles. The finishing area was huge and you just had to keep walking to get to the water, medals, pictures, and snack bags. I felt like I was delirious and in a daze to get my medal, but I found some other Sparkle Skirt-wearing ladies and decided to go to them to have my medal put on. Something about having that medal around your neck. Oh, man! It just reminds you that....YOU DID IT!
I texted Dana to find out where she was, and we found each other while in the finishing area. She had finished about 10 minutes before me, and then we found Jennifer, too. Pictures, fake smiles, real smiles, exhaustion, stretching. I had grabbed a couple bags of ice for my knees at the finish area (mostly because I always ice after runs), and carried those bad boys around while we made our way through the shoot. All of us had missed our goals...by a lot... but we all FINISHED. And no one can take that away.
After making our way back to the hotel, we said good-byes, I got slowly got my stuff together, got a shower, and headed out to leave the city. I got back to my car and realized I was finally hungry. I only wanted to do a couple things while in Chicago, one of which was to eat Chicago-style deep dish pizza. So, I called a place that looked closer to the interstate, and ordered myself a personal pie to go. By the time I arrived there and was able to leave the city, it was 4pm CST.
Through many many prayers, phone calls with anyone who would talk to me, and a personal Chicago-style pizza, venti Starbucks coffee, and Jesus, I finally made it home at 1am EST.
The Chicago Marathon is one I will never forget. I can see why it is so highly-rated, and honored. It is a tremendous race with amazing people and a beautiful city. While I think I can say this is a "one and done" race, I hope to return to the Windy City again soon. The midwest hospitality was wonderful, and....well...I'm pretty sure I need more of that pizza in my life.
Oh, RTB...how I love thee…
This is the fourth year I have raced with champions...horses, that is! In 2014, I signed up for this Lexington, Kentucky race, mostly because my local running friends are awesome for some peer pressure. I soon found out that this is one of THE BEST races around! The course is the most challenging “rolling hills” I have ever run, but I keep coming back. Why? It is a first-rate, class act event. Seriously.
First, I thought it was just for the awesome bling (which, I mean, take a look...these medals are GORGEOUS, heavy, and super classy). But, really, the hoodies over the last three years are my FAV swag from any race; super comfy and wearable year-round. The Expo has grown to include some big name companies, local companies, and highlight other amazing running events around the eastern part of the country. In the last two years, my favorite running skirt company, SparkleSkirts, has been there, saving me shipping costs on new skirts (yay!). The medals are always on display at the expo, plus plenty of Run the Bluegrass merchandise and photo ops. While the expo is not the size of a big city, like Pittsburgh, it is PERFECT for Lexington.
In previous years, I have stayed in Lexington, with friends or at a hotel. This year, my friend was coming to race with me and we stayed at my home, 1.5 hrs from Keeneland Horse Park. The race start is one of the latest starts at 9:00am, so we left the house at 6:30am to allow time for parking, bathroom, etc. As it turned out, we were parked so far away that it took a while to get up to the hospitality tents and the porta-potties up there. The race area is well-laid out, with the start and finish separated, but hospitality tents near the finish line. My local running group had one of those tents, so instead of gear check, I left my post-race bag up there. We had barely enough time to stop at the porta-potties, but finally made it to the starting corrals just in time.
The weather was cool at about 40 degrees, but I knew I would warm up and wore a tank and skirt. It took about 2-3 miles to warm up, and even longer for my hands. I kinda wish I had worn throw-away gloves. The starting area was extremely packed with runners and our first mile reflected the crowd. Over 5,000 runners total for this “little” race (including the kids race, 3.65 mile race, 7-milers, and half marathoners). I love to see RTB gain well-deserved popularity.
The goal for this race was simply to have fun. With it being my fourth year, I realized that I had never really ENJOYED it. I was always just enduring the hills and fighting for my time. Since I was running with my friend, who is training distance to do a 100-miler this fall, I planned to run at whatever her pace was and enjoy the view. I asked her what her PR time was, and she said around 2:15. I asked what she wanted for this race, and said it didn’t matter, but 2:10 would be really great. Okay then, 2:10 it is! My previous times were 2:26, 2:40-something with a stomach bug, and in 2016 I smashed my course PR with a 2:08. With my training being what it has been this spring 2017 season, I knew we could hit 2:10.
So, along the way, we talked, laughed, shared life, stopped at some water stops, stopped to take pictures of the course and the horses, and I tried to give her a heads up on each turn or hill. I truly enjoyed this race. The hills were still there, but I had never actually run WITH someone on this course before, so the company kept me occupied and motivated to keep climbing. There are 33 hills on this course. Some would say they are more like “mountains.” Mile 9 is the steepest and longest, but we took it by storm! I was really proud of us! After that, the hills continued through Mile 10, and by Mile 11 I knew we would hit the 2:10 goal, and it looked like we could get closer to 2:08. My legs were feeling those hills and I stopped talking to focus on the last two miles. Mile 12 felt SO much better than previous years. In fact, I sprinted to the finish line, just in case I could beat my previous 2:08 time. I did. 2:08:29, 15 seconds faster than the previous year. My sweet friend hit 2:08:44 and SMASHED her overall half marathon PR by over 5 minutes! We hugged, celebrated, and took pictures to commemorate this incredible race. It was truly a great day!
Even though I didn’t “race” Run the Bluegrass, I really loved the whole experience, AND hit a course PR. I think I learned that sometimes you need to just relax and have fun, and even with photo stops, you can set a record! This is one race that will keep me coming back, because the beauty, the challenge….it’s worth repeating.
March 11, 2017, my friends and I ventured out at o’dark thirty to drive across the state to Louisville, Kentucky. We decided to save money on a hotel and make a day trip to get some miles in together. Oh, and of course, getting some bling never hurts!
Around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always start to look ahead to the next year’s race calendar. Many big races will have special pricing around January 1, so I have to be ready to map out which races I want to do, keeping in mind my quota for the year that my husband and I have agreed upon ahead of time.
This year, with ultra marathon training, my training partners, Cassie and Jennifer and I were looking to see how we could get a few new races in, with little cost and add some medals to our collections along the way. So, around the beginning of the year, one of us mentioned this little St. Patty’s Day race in Louisville. The price was right, the mileage fell nicely into the training plan, so we registered.
I had been playing around with fuel and how to set myself up for races during the training season, but this 2.5-hour drive pre-race was messing with my normal routine. I was hungry when I got up, so I made sure I had some coffee and Shakeology on hand. Both of these things would fill my stomach, but also keep me alert on the drive. But, as it turned out, the coffee would dehydrate me, and I learned a lesson on that one.
As we arrived, we found the grassy parking area and stayed in the nice warm car for a while. It was around 27 degrees, but felt even colder. We ventured out to get our packets picked up and then back to the car we went for another 20 minutes. The race was well-planned, with music blaring and easy packet pick-up stations. Plenty of porta-potties were lined up, and an inflatable backdrop for post-race pictures. The race director stayed on the microphone and entertained as much as he directed.
My previous half marathon was on December 3, 2016, where I finally hit my sub-2-hour personal record. (You can read about that race here.) With the way my training had been going, I was shooting to beat that 1:57:53 time at this St. Patty’s race...just to see if I could. Cassie had a PR goal of 1:53. The gun went off and there we went!
I was able to keep up with Jennifer and Cassie for about the first 3-4 miles, and then I knew they would pull ahead. I’m used to that, and it’s okay. Also, during those first 3 miles, I was a little concerned because I couldn’t feel my feet! It was so cold that I was worried I might roll a foot/ankle and get injured, but by Mile 4 I finally regained feeling again. The beginning miles had some rolling hills and one area that descended for a while. All I could think about was the fact that if this course was an out-and-back, we would have to go UP that incline closer to the end of the race! Turned out, it WAS an out-and-back, with the turnaround at mile 6. When I had reached Mile 5, I noticed the lead man was already heading back! He was SO FAST.
My pace was good and on target for a sub-2 half, so I was simply enjoying the beautiful paved trail through the park. The scenery is very nice and the race was well-organized all the way around. There were only a few water stops, but it was okay. By the turnaround, I still felt good about my run. By Mile 7-8, I started to get a few cramps in my sides and I knew it was the coffee from earlier. I just was not well-enough hydrated. Mile 9 was a water stop and I was very grateful to chug a little cup of orange Gatorade. I normally never drink that stuff, but it tasted amazing at that point! I was calculating at Mile 10, but I also knew that incline was about to come up. As it turned out, the uphill was not as steep as I thought and I was able to make it up in a pretty good time. I also knew there was a fairly steep downhill around Mile 11-11.5 to make up for the climb.
All along the course, I knew it was running long. That was frustrating. It was about .10 off from my Garmin, so I was wondering if the finish line would be as well. As I got to Mile 12, I knew it would be really close to my PR time. I would definitely sub-2 again, but as I got closer, I saw my PR slip away. I sprinted the last .30-.40, knowing the course was long. I came in at 1:58:13. Disappointed. The course was 13.23 miles, and I felt sure I could have PR-ed with a 13.1 course. I’m terribly hard on myself.
The fact is, as this was an inaugural race, the course was brand new to us all. The director did a great job with a small half marathon, and the path was beautiful, volunteers were great, and overall, we had a wonderful time. Cassie DID hit her 1:53 PR goal and Jennifer came in just before her.
I’m so grateful to have new race experiences, road trips, and fun with friends. St. Patty’s Day Half Marathon was a great event, with awesome long-sleeve zip-up tech shirts and decent medals. I would recommend this race to anyone who is in the Louisville area, or just wants a nice March race to start their spring season. Thank you for a great day!
After 16 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 1 10K, and countless 5K races, it was time to tackle the 15K...and not only that, but let's give trail running a go! Why not, right?
The spring season of 2017 has been slated to be my first season of ultra marathon training. There is definitely a power that comes from running friends. They talk you into the craziest things. My friend, Cassie, and I had talked about tackling an ultra marathon for summer of 2017, as it is the around the time of her 30th birthday and something she wanted to accomplish by then. For me, I said, "Hey, what's 5 more miles over a marathon? Sure! I'm in!" Along the way, we talked another friend, Jennifer, into running a 50K with us in May 2017. Enter: training season.
Somewhere around the holidays, I start to plan out my racing calendar for the following year. My husband and I have agreed that I can run 8 total "big" races (meaning more than 10K) per year. Since our family is young and training takes up every Saturday morning as it is, it is a fair agreement. So, let's fill up that calendar, right? Since I have several races planned that I have never run before, I am excited to blog about each of them here. First up, Fallen Timbers 15K.
I need to be clear: I had no idea what I was getting into with this race. I had never run a trail race, and am honestly fairly inexperienced in trail running all together. I had also never ran the 15K distance before. So, what does that mean? Automatic PR, of course! A couple of key factors caused me to give into peer pressure on this one: The cost when I signed up was $15. And it was only about 40 minutes from my house. Oh, AND the prize at the end was a mug. Coffee lovers unite!! Let's just say, it doesn't take a whole lot to make me happy. Friends, running, and the promise of good food and coffee at the end!
So, let's get on with race day, shall we?
My friends and I carpooled and arrived at about 8:00 a.m. for the 9:00 a.m. start. Parking was at a church across the street from the property in Wayne County, West Virginia. There were porta-potties at the starting area, so we opted for the restroom inside the local grocery store near where we parked. A shuttle took us to the starting area with no problems. The volunteers were friendly and there was a campfire set up to keep us warm as we waited. Registration/bib pick up was simple and no frills. We were encouraged to leave a drop bag in a large white van, which would meet us at the finish line. After an explanation of the route (basically it was a butterfly shape over a mountain), our eyes glazed over and we just nodded, "okay." Follow the orange markings. Got it.
The irony of this race was that a tree had fallen right over the main road shortly before the start. One of my friends was in that stopped traffic, trying to get to the race. We were told several people were still trying to make it in and they would allow them to have a late start and complete the course. For a race called "Fallen Timbers," it sure does live up to its name! As far as we were told, no one was seriously hurt in the accident, but one car did become a convertible in the process!
Everyone lined up on the dirt road and the verbal countdown and gunshot went off. A friend who ran this course before warned me not to use all my energy up front. She was right. Jennifer took off and I knew I wouldn't keep up. I was running in old running shoes because I never invested in trail shoes (newbie, remember?), and it was okay.
Mud was plentiful, as it had rained quite a bit for about two weeks prior, but the cold chill and 30-degree temps allowed the ground to harden just enough to help in some areas, though not all. It didn't take long to start an ascent up the mountain. The small crowd thinned even more with each step. Cassie and I ended up running together for just about the entire course, which made it super fun to experience it together with a friend. As we FINALLY got to the top of the first mountain, there was a friendly aid station waiting with cups of water and probably other things. All I wanted was a sip of water and to keep going. We hadn't even hit the first mile yet.
The next few miles were a series of ups and downs, but many areas were wide enough for at least two runners. We kept our eyes open for the little orange flags and markings and other runners up ahead. Winding down another side of the mountain, a few black cows were chilling out randomly. I had to stop and take a picture, and Cassie humored me. A younger kid passed us with ease, like he runs this property every day. The path wound around to a little open pond area and a tv van for the local news station. Cassie joked that I would get on the news because I was the only crazy runner out there in a skirt! After that little reprieve, it was back up the mountain we went.
We were about halfway up the next crest when a deer came out of nowhere and had caught himself on a wire fence. White tail fur showered down as he ran in the opposite direction. It was sad and funny and caught us by surprise all at once! One more giant mountain to climb and then descend before the unofficial halfway point. Going down that second mountain was tricky in some areas. The path was extremely narrow and a few places had rope, of which I took advantage so I wouldn't fall. We finally made it back down and through a lot more mud and could see the starting area again. There was another water station set up there with some food as well, but again, just water for me, please. Then, back up the mountain through another path. My watch said we were at 4.25 miles at this point. Funny how trail miles seem infinitely longer than road!
This next mountain was on the other end of the property. Twists, turns, and narrower paths kept it interesting, to say the least. The steepest part of the mountain came as we climbed up to the tower. There was a rope to help us literally CLIMB to the top. The view was pretty nice for cold and gray January, but we realized it was only Mile 5. We had a ways to go. Another aid station was around the corner with water and candy and some other things, and I looked at my watch and realized we had been running for over an hour at that point. So, I took my GU gel that I had on hand and water and it tasted like heaven! Then, off we went again!
Mile 6 is where it got confusing. There was an orange string right in front of the trail path, but with orange flags continuing past the barrier, and then, to the left we could see more little orange markings up a hill. There were a few other runners with us by then, so we all figured we would go up the hill a bit and see if the path would continue. It did, so we went.
And then we saw other runners....approaching US.
Yup, we had gone the wrong way. By then, we REALLY did not want to back-track, especially since we figured out that it was a loop in the course. So, Cassie and I and a few others, continued around the loop in the OPPOSITE direction of the course. Oh man, I wish I would have worn a Go-Pro to capture the faces of the people we ran into! As we approached other runners, you could see all emotions, but mostly confusion and fear that THEY were going the wrong way! I constantly assured them, "Don't mind us! We are wrong, YOU are right. Keep going!!"
When all was said and done, the loop in the course was about a mile long and we came back upon the orange line that caused the confusion, passed under it, and got back on the trail where the loop would have taken us, if we had followed it correctly the first time. No harm, no foul.
Mile 7 was winding around and narrow paths again. Mile 8 widened a bit, back to enough space that we could run side-by-side and talk. That certainly passed the time, since we were tired by then and knew there was only a mile or so to go. All along the muddy trail, I had been able to keep my feet pretty dry. I dodged most of the thick muddy areas and while I could feel the mud caked on my shoes, it wasn't water getting INTO my shoes...until a little past Mile 8. Cassie and I were talking and time was passing quickly and all of a sudden we were running through a giant mud pit! I couldn't help but laugh! There was no way around it and I couldn't stop running, so the mud caked up and water finally got into my shoes. It was just too funny that it took THAT long and we were ALMOST done and THAT'S when my feet got wet!
We kept talking and the trail widened into a grassy area and my watch said we were a bit over 9 miles now. The woods gave way to a paved driveway and we figured out that just over this last hill of the road was the finish line! We crossed the finish together and were greeted by Jennifer and the other runners.
Our finisher mugs are AWESOME and they had water available right away. After retrieving our gear checked bags out of a white van, we went down to the basement of the big house for freshly made crockpots of soup, homemade bread, desserts spread across a bar, and hot drinks and water. While the electricity was out because of the fallen tree hours before, I didn't even notice. The food was hot and there was a giant fireplace keeping us toasty. Everyone was just hanging out like it was a runner party! What a great atmosphere!!
Jennifer had won 3rd female overall, and so she was given a gift certificate to a local cupcake shop. She was sweet enough (see what I did there?) to share with our carload of friends! Thanks, Fallen Timbers!
It's funny how a trail race can make even the most "in-shape" person feel inadequate! I consider myself to be in pretty good physical shape right now, but since I admittedly haven't been running trails in a long time, it is certainly a challenge!
Everyone who was at the race was friendly and encouraging. We never heard even one person complain. When I signed up, it was $15 to register, and it was absolutely worth every penny! The race directors did a fabulous job of keeping everything organized, low-key, fun, and friendly. I would recommend this race to anyone. There was also a 5K race distance and a guided hike option. Just being out in nature is a blessing. Challenging the body to accomplish something new: priceless.
Well, the day had FINALLY arrived. I had been training and planning for the Marshall University Half Marathon since the beginning of August.
The first half of the year had been focused on distance and hitting a full marathon personal record (PR), which I accomplished at Xenia, Ohio on April 10, 2016 (a 2-hour PR at that! Read about it here). With our adoption happening in the spring of 2016, I was unsure of how much training time I would be able to have, so a goal half marathon was the best strategy for this time in our family life.
Over the last year, I have learned what training plan works for me, my family, and my body, which had previously been prone to injury. I learned that for me, it works to run speed work on Tuesdays, hill training on Thursdays, and long runs on Saturday mornings. Sunday, I typically rest or do yoga, and Monday through Friday I will do some kind of cross-training programs from the comfort of my own home through Beachbody. During running "off-seasons," I tend to do higher intensity programs and keep that long run each week. During training season, I stick to things that are medium intensity and build strength.
The training plan: Beginning in August, I started and completed the Country Heat program, along with my three runs per week. It was fun, lower intensity, but still worked the core and full body. Then, I worked through some of 21-Day Fix Extreme, and 3-Week Yoga Retreat. By the end of my training, I was ready to dive into the brand new Core De Force program, but I knew the intensity of that would have to wait until post-race (and I am loving it now). I also had a half marathon in Adams County, Ohio at the end of September, which was a course PR, despite the hills. I knew I was improving my time, but this particular course proved that. A couple of weeks later, I jumped in a Bourbon Chase relay team, which was basically three legs of crazy speed work (read about it here).
So, enough about training, let's get to race day!
Anyone who follows me knows that I was a NERVOUS WRECK going into this race. Seeds of doubt crept into my mind as often as those feelings of "I CAN do this!" The mental game is so much bigger than the physical. After a successful 10-mile training run two weeks prior, I came down with a sinus infection, felt a little pain in my knees, and tapered VERY slowly that week.
Race day came and I had laid out all of my clothes the night before. Turned on GPS, even though I have been to Marshall four times now, and THOUGHT I would be early enough.
My friend, Cassie, texted me and warned me about the traffic, so I took a side street and parked at CVS. As I got out, a fellow 5K Crew friend warned me that my car would get towed there, so back in I went, and drove around some more to find another lot, wasting precious warm-up time.
I literally RAN to the stadium and totally missed the obligatory 5K Crew group picture because the line to the bathroom was much more important at that point. I hurried out to the starting area and finally found the 2:00 pacer, Brett. I finally started to calm my nerves and realized I had yet to start my watch.
The gun went off.
Satellites still loading...
Cassie and I ran together for a bit, and I realized that I was 20 seconds off from the gun by the time my watch synced up. I can live with that. She and I got situated with taking outer shirts off, adjusting, etc, and then fell into a groove. Cassie's goal was 8:45 pace (1:55:00 finish), so I knew I wouldn't keep up with her for long. We stayed in the same area for the first 3 miles, with her shouting out the average pace at each mile. (She's the one decked out in all black, and I'm near her with hair waving out of control.)
The night before, I had expressed my nervousness to my good friend, and I asked Cassie what my game plan should be. She said I should do I whatever I practiced. So...go out like a bat out of you-know-where and then die? Yes. Lol. (No, this is not what you really SHOULD do, but I'm still working on my pacing.) I knew I typically run the first half faster than the second, so I needed to build up a bit of a cushion on the front end, and with Cassie's pace, I did. The other strategy was given by my good friend and running mentor, Kara. She said to be strategic with water stops. Every other one, I made myself slow enough to take a drink and then get back to my regular stride.
So, with these two plans in place (go out like crazy and stop every other water stop), I tried to tell Cassie I would be slowing for water after Mile 3, but she didn't hear me. I just yelled, "GO!" as we came up to that riverfront area. And she did.
Since this is my fourth Marshall University Half Marathon, I am very familiar with the course. The first couple of miles goes around the stadium and then heads to the riverfront. Then, it is all semi-closed streets until Mile 6, where you head into Ritter Park, and run on some sidewalk, but mostly crushed gravel. The path around the park goes until a little after Mile 9. Miles 10-13 are back on the streets and the last two miles repeat part of the route we covered in Miles 2-4. By Mile 12, you are on the road back to the stadium, though it seems forever away. Finally, you enter the stadium through a deep decent ramp and onto the field. Running 100 yards on the field, receiving a football to carry, as you turn and run the 100 yards back to the goal/Finish Line.
So, after Cassie and I split, I could see her for a while, but not after Mile 5. Somewhere after that first water stop, my music stopped playing. I ended up running the last 10 miles without music to distract me, and while I REALLY wanted to turn it back on, I couldn't justify the minute or two I would waste in getting it back. So, I didn't. I ran in silence. Just the thoughts in my head to go faster or to tell my legs to shut up.
As we headed into Ritter Park, I felt like I was being passed by SO many people, which was discouraging. With the size of this race, there are no corrals, so it's hard to say the paces of those passing me, but I just told myself that they started later and were naturally faster. All I knew was that I did NOT want to see Brett, the 2-hour pacer. I HAD to stay ahead of him. My half-way point was good. I was under pace, which I knew I needed. At Mile 7, I could feel my pace slipping and I yelled at myself to go faster. (Well, not out loud, but in my head.) Mile 7 ended up being back at 9:02, so I was happy with that.
Miles 8-9 I felt like I was going as fast as I could, and STILL getting passed like crazy. I knew there were still a lot of miles left and I started to wonder if I could keep it up. Then, I thought about my big goal, how I would feel if I saw a "1" on that clock, and how I was running to honor my Dad. It kept me going.
Around this time, the 4:00:00 marathon pacer and his pack came around me. I told myself to stick with them. I HAD to stick with them. I was coming up at Mile 9, which is also where my friends were cheering at the end of Ritter Park. I wish I could have had more fun in that stretch, because they were definitely MAKING it fun with cheering and music, but I lodged myself in the middle of that pack of marathoners and I doubt I even busted a smile. I had to focus.
After the park and getting back on the road, I saw a shadow. Hair bouncing in the wind. It was Brett. Oh man! I could barely breathe, but all I got out was, "I didn't want to see you, today!" He chuckled and said, just keep going. You can do it! I had run with Brett during that 10-miler a couple weeks prior, so I knew I COULD keep up, but for how long?
The last few miles were hard. The whole first half of the race was in thick fog, and now the sun was beating down. I had my sunglasses, put them down on my face, and the steam from my sweat fogged them up and I could barely see. I didn't care. I had to keep running. I wasn't going to stop and try to wipe them off. No time.
I just kept guessing if I could make it on time. I figured I had to keep 9:30s at the end or less to have a chance. I ran through the riverfront again and saw the photographer. I couldn't muster up a smile. I was already starting to lose a little hope. I wanted to be done.
The last mile and a half had a very small incline, but it felt like a mountain. At Mile 12 I found a guy who was going about the same pace and followed him for a good while, and eventually passing him before the stadium. As I approached the crowd on the street before the stadium, I started to no longer feel my body. It was the weirdest thing. Maybe the cold got to me. Maybe I was just exhausted. But, I literally wasn't sure what was going on. I knew I needed to be careful as I headed into that steep decent. I was NOT going to fall. I debated grabbing a football from the volunteer, but decided to get it and ran as hard as I could down that last 100 yards on the turf.
I saw the clock.
For the record, I have set a personal best (PR) in this distance every single year I have raced at Marshall. Two years ago, I had an AWESOME finish line picture with that dang football. This year, I had no energy to smile. I was done.
I missed the mark.
All I had wanted was to see 1:59:59. I wanted that "1" on the clock.
I ran over the finish, I heard Cassie shout my name, and could barely focus on anything. I grabbed a water bottle and gingerly walked down the football field. I couldn't stop. I had to keep walking. Everything hurt. I wanted to cry. Cassie eventually caught up to me, and I barely noticed her hobble. Finally, when I could talk again, I asked how she did, and she had PR-ed as well, and made her 1:55 goal, but injured her hamstring in the process. As she made her way to a med tent, I finally sat down on the sideline and looked at my watch. 2:00:29. Even with my watch being off by 20 seconds, I didn't make it. I looked up my Chronotrack results on Facebook. 2:00:54. Man, I was WAY off, but then I scrolled down to see that my chip time (official time) was 2:00:37.
I missed my goal by 38 seconds.
I was crushed.
Now, to be fair, that was OVER 2 minutes BETTER than my previous half marathon best. So, I had, in fact, set a personal record! But, for some reason, I could only focus on how far I had missed. Since I didn't see Cassie at the field, I asked another friend to take my picture to commemorate the day, even though I felt far from celebrating at that moment....
I made my way back up to Cassie and finally back to my car to decompress. I knew my friends were still at Ritter Park cheering on the marathoners, and I had planned to join them, though I needed a few minutes to gather myself together. I threw off my shoes and threw on some sweats and headed that way.
I am thankful that I spent some time cheering with Sarah, Karen, and Stacy that day. It did my heart good to ring a cow bell and tell many other runners how awesome they are! When you feel down, there is nothing better than to lift others up! It was good to move around, dance to the music, and just have FUN.
After cheering on a marathoner friend, I headed back home for a shower and to meet my kiddos and mother-in-law for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I love that my kids see a medal and get excited. They don't care how big or small it is, or what time I ran in, they always tell me I did great and they are so happy!
Later that afternoon, I made a video about my experience and what I had been thinking at that point. I shared it live on Facebook and was encouraged by the response. It was another way to process what had just happened and how I could view it.
The next day, I realized, I had just done something INCREDIBLE. I ran a half marathon in 2 hours! My very first half was in May 2013, with a final time of 2:28. My first Marshall half was later that year with 2:27, second was 2:05, third was 2:02, and fourth was now 2:00. Pretty cool to see that improvement. Monday, I was just GRATEFUL.
Well, now, it is time to take a little running break and focus on some core results with Core De Force. I love having these seasons where I can take a small pause and re-evaluate goals. Starting in January, I will begin full marathon training again and set my sights on a 50K that will be in May 2017. So far, I have a half in April, a full in May, and the 50K a few weeks later. I LOVE distance. Endurance is my favorite, so I am looking forward to the next training season already.
After that? Well, I guess I will get back to that sub-2 goal.
There will always be Marshall.
I have always wanted to do a relay race, like the Ragnar series.
Ok, scratch that. Not ALWAYS.
Once I started doing 5 half marathons per year and throwing in a full a couple times over the past couple of years, I began to think about "what's next?"
I have considered trail races, ultramarathons, and I thought, "Hey, a Ragnar race sounds fun."
But--I had a few problems with relay races:
1. Most Ragnar races were located pretty far away from where I live in Eastern Kentucky.
2. The cost was much higher than any other races (I am a cheapskate and try to register for things with early bird pricing).
3. I'm not "fast" by most standards and was never invited to participate.
4. Despite my online presence, I am very much an introvert. Spending 30 hours with strangers brings my anxiety up to a whole new level.
5. I am not what you call "outdoorsy." I pictured having to use the woods as my bathroom, and not having a shower for that long also played a part in that anxiety level going through the roof.
I had followed friends who had run the Bourbon Chase relay in the past, and they all seemed to have a great time. As someone who does not drink bourbon, I wasn't interested in that part of it, but the fun and running always appealed to me.
This year, several friends were talking about their Bourbon Chase teams in our local running group, the 5K Crew.
I started to get a tiny bit jealous as the excitement grew. But, I told myself, "Remember reason #3..." Yeah, I would probably just bring the average down, and with many other faster runners in our group, I was never asked. And yes, I know this points back to my self-esteem and self-doubt...I'm working on that.
Low and behold, right smack dab in the middle of a very tough week for me, personally, I was sent a text by one of my best running friends in all the world, Cassie: "Girl, I know it's a long shot, but would you be available for Bourbon Chase this weekend? We had a member drop out last minute."
It was Wednesday. The race was starting in two days.
The icing on the cake was that the former member was not asking for any money back, so all I had to pay was the $30 transfer fee. Um, YES! (Well, it wasn't QUITE that easy. I had to talk to my husband and coordinate a babysitter for my youngest one, but a few hours later, I was able to say, "YES!")
What did I get myself into?
First question people have asked me when they found out I joined the team with only 2 days notice is, "Were you trained for this?" Well, yes and no. While I had never met most of my teammates before, and I never did any training runs WITH them, my goal race this fall is a sub-2-hour half marathon. That means that for months, I have been working on speed, hills, and distance. I finished a half marathon a few weeks prior in hilly Adams County, Ohio, so I felt ready for that terrain. Speed? Well, I'm working on that, but I was already trained up to 16 miles the weekend before. So, yes and no.
Well, through a lot of self-doubt and then pep talks, I got myself ready and packed (the day of the race). Yes, I am a procrastinator. I'm working on that, too. Thankfully, I am a part of a few running groups online who helped me know what to pack and how to prepare. Basically, 3 running outfits, dry clothes, extra shoes, flip flops, snacks, pillow, deodorant, and LOTS of baby wipes!
I met my van mates at about 11:20am and we drove out to the race. Remember, I had never met anyone but my friend, Cassie, and yes, I survived. So, to all your introverts out there....we can do hard things. We won't die. Lol. We had lunch at a Panera somewhere and headed on to Maker's Mark, where we would start our part of the race. Van 1 had left earlier in the morning and was already running.
Maker's Mark was a very pretty distillery site and I'm glad that we started there and got to check things out. It was a party atmosphere already. We all had to check in, show ID (that we were over 21), and then check in to make sure we all had our required reflective gear (which, of course, I had bought the night before). We had a little bit of time, so I shared some info on my Like Page, "Run for Hope," through live videos throughout the event. It was fun to share updates and the experience!
I was assigned Leg #7 out of 12, so that means, I was the first person from my van to run each time. It's pretty funny to not know who you are even looking for at the exchange, but my team had my back. I was nervous, and wanted to do my best for the team, so I started off like a bat out of...well, you know.
I was automatically met by the hills. The worst part was the mental game. We had to drive my route to get to Maker's Mark, so I KNEW that I had hills. And when I say "hills," I mean, HILLS. Talk about NERVES! I knew these guys were hoping for an 8-minute overall pace, and I've been happy to train for 9:15-9:30. SHEW!
The weather was GREAT. Cool, dusk, it was amazing to run at this time of day. I started in daylight and ended in the dark. The first 2.5 miles were ALL hills. There was a time where I needed to power walk to keep going up the biggest one and get some water in me. BUT--after mile 3, everything was MUCH flatter, much less traffic (yes, it was an open course), and I started to pick up pace. When all was said and done, I passed our "slap bracelet chip baton" to Chris, and ended up with a 9:10 pace for that almost 5 miles. I'll take it!
It seemed as though Van 2 had a lot of hard runs for the first leg. Many had their longest runs during this time, and everyone was in the dark, except for me. But, each member did their best, some threw up on the course, but the paces were coming in at around 7 minutes and some just under! Cassie and I held our own and the guys were happy with what we did. The best part was knowing that after we finished Leg 1, we were promised pizza at midnight! Eating is the weirdest part of this, because you don't want to eat right before running, so we had no dinner, and then you end up eating in the middle of the night and trying to get some sleep somehow.
After our Leg 1 and pizza was done, we honestly only had about 3 hours until we would run again. We drove to the next site and parked and tried to sleep. Didn't happen. Maybe 30 minutes top. As a Beachbody coach, I came prepared with my Performance Line of Recover and Energize. Recover really helped a couple of guys with leg cramps and I think most of us were running on Energize (literally) during the night runs. The Beachbody Performance Line is actually the North American partner for the Ironman series, so I was happy to share these natural options for my team.
Leg 2 started about 3:30am. Again, I was the first to go from our van, and this was the shortest and easiest route out of my 3. I was ready to do my best..and so I did. I came in with an 8:20 pace and felt VERY pleased with my contribution to my team. While it was the middle of the night, it was still 60-ish degrees, which made it pretty warm, but I was thankful it was dry. There is something very peaceful about running in the dark in the middle of the night.
While I was exhausted, I couldn't sleep. Cassie was Leg #10, so I wanted to make sure I was around to cheer her on at the start and finish of her legs. By this time, I was kind of hungry, but my stomach was upset and finding deluxe porta potties at Four Roses Distillery was a welcome sight. I had issues charging my phone through this race. I kept trying to charge it through the van, but when the van was not running, neither was the power. So, after Cassie's leg, I tried to plug in again, and all of a sudden, I figured out that MY music was playing through the van from my phone. I couldn't sleep. It's like my brain KNEW that was RUNNING music, so there was no way for it to shut off. Needless to say, we were finishing up Leg 2 and I had a total of an hour and a half of sleep the whole night.
Between the second and third legs, we gave up on sleep and headed to another Panera for breakfast. Stinky, some sore, and some feeling sick, but we kept going. These guys are serious rock stars, and I was feeling VERY grateful to be on this team. They are competitive and know how to have fun, too. We headed towards the next point for Leg 3, still trying to sleep, though not having much luck.
I started the last leg in 80 degree heat and full sunshine. This was not quite what I expected, so once again, nerves took hold. But, what can you do? You just go out there and do it. Our team had been well under pace the entire race at this point, but we had heard some Van 1 runners were struggling and that put the pressure on us to pick it up, too. With the heat, lack of sleep, and everything else, we were all ready to be done, but this was it. This was the last run for each of us and then we would be DONE!
As we waited for Derek to come and pass me the baton and get Leg 3 underway, there was a little group of people dressed up in Greek garb (since this year's race was Greek-themed) and playing cymbals and creating entertainment for the groups of runners waiting. It was a really fun atmosphere.
My last leg started off with another uphill and a bunch of wind. I was trying not to feel defeated, but it was tough. Throughout the race, we had been adding up our "kills," those people we had passed. So, I just focused on the next person in front of me and tried to get ahead of them. Sun beating down, those last almost 5 miles were feeling harder and I was ready to be done. But, I knew my team was counting on me and if we wanted to reach our goal of 8-minute pace, I needed to get as close to 9-minutes as possible. Once again, I had to take a very small walk break. I was feeling dehydrated and needed some water and to give myself a quick pep talk. 8 "kills" later and I could see the exchange point. Thank the good Lord! By the time I handed off, I knew I could say I did my very best, which is exactly what my goal was. That final leg was 9:13 pace, but I was DONE. I was so incredibly thankful that Cassie was there to meet me with cold water. It was the best water I might have ever tasted! Then, time to race back to the van and to the next point.
Everyone in Van 2 had a harder time with the third leg, but we all held our own. We were more than ready to be done, and during the last runner, we were trying to figure out if we had a chance at Top 10 out of all the mixed teams at the race. Arnold was the last runner. We all got to the finish line and waited for him to appear. I got the finish line on live video (shaky as it was), with our entire team crossing the finish line together. The official photographer got the whole team, but this is Van 2:
Our final time was 26:44:59. 31/430 overall (top 7%) and 14/278 (top 5%) in mixed open. Our final pace was 7:55. We had met the goal. Not Top 10, but we kept it under 8 min/mile. Man, it was a BLAST.
Want to run a relay?
Here are my tips as a newbie relay runner:
1. Get in with a team who knows how to have fun. While our guys had some serious goals, they were all business on the road and all fun in the van. It was the perfect mix.
2. Have a buddy if you are an introvert like me. I think my experience was so much more enjoyable because I had my BRF, Cassie, by my side. Knowing she was there at every one of my exchanges really helped!
3. Prepare yourself for no sleep. While you can't "store up" sleep ahead of time, make sure that you have the opportunity to sleep when the race is over. You will need it. There is no sleeping in the van. Unless your name is Jon. Lol.
4. Pack enough clothes so that you can change in between runs. There is nothing worse than sitting in wet, stinky clothes. Bring an extra pair of running shoes in case of rain. And baby wipes. Tons of them.
5. Pack clothes in ziplock bags. This was my best idea. I packed each running outfit (tank, skirt, socks, underwear, sports bra) in its own bag. I labeled them by leg and just grabbed each one as I needed them. When I was done, it was easy to put the wet clothes back in that bag and zip it up to keep the smell off my other clothes in my duffle.
6. Pack snacks, but not too many. I WAY overpacked on this, but I wasn't sure what I would want. Turned out, my stomach really didn't want much, and we ate out during our "off" times of the race.
7. Make sure your van is loaded with a cooler and plenty of water bottles. By Leg 3, we were about out of water and it was 80 degrees. The last few runners were tired and thirsty. Dehydration is not cool, kids.
8. Keep it all in perspective. Know what you CAN do. Know what your team goal is (even if it's just to finish). And do your best. Know that anything can change in an instant (weather, injury, sickness) and be ready to step up and support your team however you can.
9. Don't be too serious! I usually put a lot of pressure on myself and I tend to underestimate my own abilities. Keep your head up, smile on, and ENJOY the journey!
10. Never say never. I wasn't sure that I would want to do this again, mostly because it took a lot of time away from my family, but now, in the aftermath, I would LOVE to do it again...but maybe just with this team!
What makes Bourbon Chase a great race?
Will I be racing this one again?
I think this year was the perfect opportunity, and even with little notice, I couldn't turn it down. The price was right, I was already trained up, and I had a friend doing it with me. Our team was fast, which made it really fun to compete and run my very best.
I learned that while running is mostly a solo sport, doing a relay really brings that TEAM spirit out. I ran high school track and did relays then, but since then, I have had many years of running for myself as an adult. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of something bigger. What I did MATTERED to the TEAM.
So, all of that said, if the stars align again and I have the opportunity and my family's blessing, I will definitely do it again!
Bourbon Chase 2016, you did not disappoint! Thank you Team #EnoughOfThisSheet for an amazing experience!
22-Minute Hard Corps: The brand new Tony Horton military-style program released on March 1, with great anticipation! I was one of those people who bought on Day 1 and started streaming workouts the very next morning. 22 minutes for a full, sweaty workout? I'm there!
During this program, I was also had the final 6 weeks of marathon training. This was my second full marathon (26.2 miles) and I was determined to run the race injury-free. I accomplished that goal and SMASHED my previous personal record by over 2 hours! Read about it here.
My running schedule shifted the closer we got to our adoption. We ended up leaving for China on April 13th, about half-way through the 22-Minute Hard Corps program, and just 3 days after the marathon. While we were gone (about three weeks), I had planned to workout when I could. Our schedule was crazy and I learned very quickly on that my focus needed to be solely on our new daughter while we were making this huge transition. She had to come first, and so she did.
When we returned home, I decided to repeat Week 5 of the program and continue on from there. I went through each day and ran a long run on the weekends. One of the coaches on my team continued the program from start to finish, with no break, and I was inspired to watch her work through the 9th (and optional) Hell Week. I knew that if she was going to do it, so was I. There was no question.
While our family is still adjusting and our daughter does not usually sleep through the night, I powered through the double workouts on 6 hours of sleep each night, or less. I would not recommend this, but if you are, or ever have been, a new parent, you understand how things can go.
My go-to tricks included Beachbody Performance line products and daily Shakeology. I typically use the chocolate Recover formula after long runs or really tough workouts. The 20g of protein and no fillers really help my body feel better. Throughout the 8 weeks of the program, I would typically mix half of a scoop of Recover into my post-workout Shakeology shake. During Hell Week especially, I made sure to add in the Energize, Hydrate, and Creatine formulas. These are amazing products, and I would only feel confident to recommend them after learning about the ingredients and knowing how I felt using them. Energize DOES give a bit of a buzz, so I only recommend this as long as it is not coupled with coffee! Hydrate is one of two hydration formulas on the market that does not negatively affect my stomach (Sword is the other). Creatine I used on occasion after tough resistance workouts, but not nearly as often as the others.
After completing this program, I have to say, I have been truly impressed. I love the three rounds of exercises, the inclusion of weight training, and the simplicity of everything. Modifiers always helped me when my knees could not take one more lunge. I wasn't sure how effective 22 minutes would be, but now I am a believer! And as a mom of three young kids, my time is precious and I can't be wasting it! This program allowed me to get in, get out, and get results.
Speaking of results, the PT Fit Test was a great indicator of my progress. I more than doubled the amount of pushups I was able to do, and increased all the other areas as well. My core got stronger and I was able to hold my plank longer without really even doing planks in the workouts. For someone who loves the gym, loves to workout, this program is perfect for you! If you are just getting started in fitness, this is a great starting point for you, too. Again, having those modifiers makes you feel like you can keep up and go at YOUR own pace. Everyone can do this!
I have to be completely honest. My nutrition was not 100% on track with this program. Had it been, I am sure I would have gotten great visible results. While marathon training, it is easy to excuse a few extra tortilla chips and salsa, or add on the carbs. By now, I know my body. I don't HAVE to eat very many carbs, even as a runner. However, those are my favorite, and I tend to overdo it (yes, even "clean" foods need to be in moderation), especially when training. While in China, we were at the mercy of the food there. Had it not been for Shakeology (even though I had to mix it with bottled water and no ice most of the time), I think my body would have never bounced back. Very little foods are fresh in China, and our meals consisted of mostly carbs, pork, fried and smothered dishes. I could not WAIT to get back to the U.S. for a green salad (and that is saying a LOT from someone who hates salad)!
If you want to make REAL changes. You HAVE to tighten up your nutrition. That's all there is to it. Many people complain that they are working so hard in the gym or running a million miles but not seeing any change in the mirror. That's because you HAVE to change how you eat if you want results. That is the truth. This is why I am not surprised that I have maintained through this program. I know what I ate, and had I been on track more, the results would have been clearer.
This is what I DO know:
If you WANT to improve your health and fitness, let me know. THIS is my passion. I want to help as many people as possible to end the trend of obesity. If a 22-minute workout program and simple color-coded containers is what it takes, let's do it! If you want accountability and support from someone who has been there (but is not perfect and fails forward), hit me up. I KNOW how hard it is to make these changes, believe me! I did not lose 35lbs overnight. It took TIME. It took consistency, and it took EFFORT. But, it was WORTH it.
Let's talk about my next challenge group and how you can get the support you need from like-minded people. Remember: YOU ARE WORTH IT. Let's go #GetSome!!!
I had run long-distance in high school track because I was never "fast." I ran off and on through college to keep from gaining the "freshman fifteen." I was a yo-yo runner. I didn't run consistently, but only when I felt I needed to get my weight back down or try to improve my health. Then the brownies and ice cream would come calling my name.
After my Dad passed away, I used running as an outlet. I ran 3 miles, 3 times a week in hopes of dropping some baby weight after my second pregnancy. I still ate tons of sweets and processed foods and never lost any weight. However, my endurance increased, so I changed my goals to longer distance, rather than weight loss. I ran my first half marathon in May 2013, 30lbs heavier than I am now.
So what changed?
I looked back at my pictures and I was disappointed. I knew I HAD to change the way I ate, or I would never truly change. Beginning in August 2013, I made one small substitution at a time towards clean eating. Sweet potatoes for white, wheat bread versus white, honey instead of sugar, etc. Very slowly, over time, I lost over 30lbs by Christmas and kept running. It was a very difficult journey, as I was making these changes alone. I had very little support and very few people understood why I wasn't eating the same and would make the remarks about being careful not to lose too much weight. I knew what I was doing was best for my body. Over time, I was able to maintain that weight loss and haven't looked back.
The biggest problem was that I did not have the tools to help other people do the same. No one seemed to have the patience to learn about clean eating on their own, though everyone around me wanted to know the "secret." Well, the secret is making those hard choices day after day. The hard decision to eat whole foods when everyone around you is not. It's not easy, but it is worth it.
So, marathon training...
In 2014, I felt called to run the Walt Disney World Marathon as a Show Hope Advocate to help raise money for a family to adopt their child. Our family had always wanted to adopt, but it wasn't our time, so I ran for someone else, someone I didn't even know, and raised over $3,800.00 through my training. I had never run a full marathon before and I honestly didn't know much about what I was doing.
I had learned to run half marathons with intervals, like the Jeff Galloway method. Since he is a huge partner with Disney races, I looked up his training plans and felt that it would ease me into the process and allow me to start and finish the 26.2 miles without killing my body in the process. The beginning plan is about six months long, with three runs per week. I began training in June 2014 for a January 2015 race.
As the training went on, I found myself pushing the plan. I ran more miles when I felt well, and I ended up having several 100+ mile months. When I wasn't running, I was hitting the gym and going on the elliptical or messing around with upper body strength machines. I thought I knew what I was doing and felt confident that the cross-training was beneficial.
After my 22-miler in November, I started having serious knee issues, eventually developing into tendonitis in BOTH knees. I was also experiencing some stomach issues with the Honey Stinger gels (seemed to be a "cleaner" version of fuel than GU). I ended up in physical therapy for the last six weeks of my marathon training. I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon injured from Mile 1. It was painful. It was hard. By Mile 18, my stomach gave out and I was taking baby steps to keep moving forward. I walked a lot. Because this race meant so much to me, I knew I was never giving up. If I had to walk the whole way, I would finish. By Mile 24, I was able to "speed walk" and that would be it. I finished in 6:36:40.
And THIS is where the story changes...
After feeling completely burned out and stressed out, I found something new to me: Beachbody. Go ahead, roll your eyes...because that's what I did, too! I knew nothing about this company except I had heard of Insanity and P90X from infomercials. I connected with a girl who was a coach and explained that I was already a runner, already a clean eater, and I wasn't sure how Beachbody was going to make me healthier than I already was.
This is what I learned: While my nutrition was better because I was eating whole foods, I was not eating the correct portion sizes or types of whole foods. I was still living with too many carbs and not enough veggies. I excused this behavior by claiming my runner status. Shakeology sounded like the protein shake I was already making, but the more I researched, the more I found that it was filling in those gaps in my nutrition and giving me the energy I was lacking. The programs that they offer can all be done from home, eliminating my need to leave my kids and go to the gym. I was a skeptic. I was unsure. BUT--I was burned out, tired, and needing something new.
After joining as a coach, I also participated in several challenge groups and then began hosting my own groups to share what I had learned. The groups provided daily accountability and camaraderie with others who were also just trying to live a healthier lifestyle. It was encouraging, supportive, and I felt like I was making friends with people who really understood the struggles of meal planning, getting kids to eat healthier snacks, and staying motivated every single day. We were in it together.
I started with 21-Day Fix and completed 3 rounds. I kept very strict to the program so that I could see the best results. Sticking with portions did not make me starve, in fact, I found that I was eating more than I anticipated and still lost a pant size! I kept running through this program, as well as getting stronger through the workouts. I ran less, about 1-2 days/week, but I ran for me...and I started to enjoy it again.
In the fall, I started training again for the Marshall University Half Marathon, with my sights set on a personal record, and going for a sub-2-hour half. (My previous Half PR was 2:05). I ran about 2 days a week and completed the 8-week PiYo program and stuck to my clean eating and Shakeology. No more stomach problems. No injuries. My body felt better than ever and I set a PR at 2:02. I realized that THIS STUFF WORKS! I was loving my routine and loving running for ME.
When registration opened for the Pittsburgh Full Marathon, I decided to sign up. Pittsburgh is my hometown, and since I had done the half twice, I wanted to complete the full at least once as a bucket list item. I had about 6 months to train, but I decided to hold off. I didn't want to over-train like I had for Disney.
After the Marshall University Half in November 2015, I set a personal record in my 5K race as well. My previous 5K was 25:34, and after my training with PiYo and the half marathon, I was able to finish with a 24:54. I was convinced that less running, proper cross-training, and great nutrition were the key to my success.
I spent the next two months training with The Master's Hammer & Chisel program right from my home. I modified and did not have a weight bench or pull-up bar, but I used what I had and resistance bands and door attachment. My strength was increasing daily and I LOVED this program. I had never done so many squats in my life. It was like having a personal strength trainer right in my living room! Because this program was more intense than some of the others, I ran 1-2 days a week, and kept a 10-mile base run on the weekends. I wanted to keep that endurance up through the "off season."
In January, I started training again for the full. As our adoption process moved forward, I realized that the Pittsburgh full would likely fall at the same time that we would be out of the country. So, I made some adjustments, and switched my Xenia, Ohio Half Marathon registration to the Full Marathon so that I could use my training for something. At that point, I had already trained to about 18 miles.
Along with the clean eating, portion control, and Shakeology, I started to use the Beachbody Performance Line products with my long runs and harder workouts. I had used the Energize and Recover, but I have to admit, Recover is my favorite. It is like drinking chocolate milk, but has the nutrients to help your muscles recover better than anything else. I started experiencing leg cramps around Mile 7-9 of every training run. I had no idea why, but within 5 minutes of drinking Recover, the tightness was completely eliminated, which is something that used to take an Epsom salt bath to cure. After realizing the effectiveness of that formula, I kept it with me for every long run so I could drink it immediately after a run and keep my muscles feeling good.
As race day approached, I knew that my training runs were proving that I could get around my 4:45 goal time. I had only been able to train up to 20 miles, and knowing my previous marathon experience, I was a bit nervous about my stomach holding out or my legs giving me trouble after 18 miles. But--I KNEW this training season was different. Less miles, less training time, better nutrition, more strength, and zero burn out.
While the weather was cold, windy, and a bit challenging, the Xenia course is fairly flat and honestly felt like a training run. And mentally, that is what I told myself it was. Just a training run. The water stops and volunteers were great, but it was certainly a no-frills race. Just a training run, right? In my head, I challenged myself to see how close I could get to 4:30 (just because I always want to push), but the later miles were passing more slowly than I had hoped. I KNEW 4:45 would be beat, so I just gave it my all and decided to go for it and be happy with my result. My body was tired and sore, like any body is when it is torn down for 26.2 miles, but it was NOTHING like Disney. I was not crawling at Mile 18. I wasn't crying at Mile 20, and I was still running at Mile 26.
I crossed the finish line and saw 4:35. I did it. I beat my first marathon by OVER 2 HOURS! Who does that? My official time was 4:35:24 and I am very pleased with that. I would like to say that it was hard work that paid off, but honestly, I feel like I worked SMARTER this time around, not harder.
Here is the thing. We runners are a weird bunch. We run, we justify eating poorly, and we burn a ton of calories. Runners will run because they don't have time or don't want to cross-train. Runners believe that hitting the road is good enough. Runners don't think about portions or food groups, but indulge in carbo-loading and celebrating with friends. I know this because I am a runner.
But, take a lesson from me. Nutrition matters. Cross-training matters. Portions matter. And eating the right food groups matters. Running can be adjusted. You don't HAVE to run 5-7 days a week to see improvement.
I learned all this through Challenge Groups. And now, I am a coach who teaches these things on a daily basis. It keeps ME accountable. It keeps ME on the right track. This fall will mark my 3-year anniversary of eating clean, and I have maintained my 30lb+ weight loss and never felt better.
Contact me today about getting on the right track. I want to help you achieve those goals that you have set for yourself. I will help you get set up with the right program for YOU and nutrition to stay on track. Be stubborn about your goals. Be flexible about your methods. Start where you are.
I started doing Beachbody programs after running 4 half marathons in 4 months and trying to come back from a tough injury in both knees. The first program I tried was 21-Day Fix. I loved this program and did three rounds with success. I felt better, lost a pant's size after just one round, and I LOVED the energy and strength I gained without going to the gym.
My first love is RUNNING.
There is something about the road. I didn't abandon it during 21-Day Fix, but I did have to continually ice my knees and take extra care of myself through the workouts and I didn't do as much running. I realized that I only had ONE half marathon scheduled for the fall season, and I HAD to make it count.
I set my sights on a sub-2-hour half marathon goal.
I started PiYo seven weeks before my race. The program is a total of 8 weeks, and I thought it was a good way to see how it worked with my training schedule.
On week days I would faithfully complete the PiYo workouts, Saturdays were reserved for long runs, and Sundays I recovered with straight yoga from 21-Day Fix. I felt stronger, leaner, and just overall BETTER while doing PiYo. At first, I didn't know if I would get a good enough sweat, but as the dvds progressed, I DEFINITELY worked up a great sweat! Not only that, but my legs felt stronger, and I was able to complete training runs at a faster pace without even realizing it!
I ran fewer days and each run progressively held a faster pace. Last October, I ran over 100 miles during that month. You can imagine how draining that can be. This year, only 59 miles. Yup, about HALF the mileage, and never felt better.
This is exactly what I had been looking for.
My goal for PiYo was strictly from a running standpoint. I did not do the program to lose weight (I was already at an appropriate weight). I continued to follow my 21-Day Fix meal plan (that is now, just a habit and I no longer even think about it).
My goals were:
*Recover SOONER from long runs
*PR (personal record) my fall race and hit my time goal at Marshall University Half Marathon
The day of the race came, and I knew I had practiced the pace I need to set a personal record at this distance. I was able to keep close to a 9-minute pace for 8 miles, and under that for a 5-mile run. I had to run a 9:08 average to hit my goal.
My personal record for the half marathon race was set at Marshall University Half Marathon the previous year (2014). I ran it in 2:05:57. I was thrilled with that, since that beat my previous half (in September 2014) by about 9 minutes.
My legs felt strong, and I decided to give it all I had and leave it out on the road no matter what. The first six miles were squarely on pace and it felt great. By mile 8 I had to rethink my game plan if I wanted to keep pace. Mile 10 I spend figuring out if I still had a chance to beat the 2:00:00 time clock. And at Mile 11 I knew I would fall short. The last mile, as the "Rocky" theme song blared across some speakers in the middle of the road, I knew I had to give it everything, regardless of my finish time. I crossed that goal line on the football field of Marshall University at 2:02:51.
While I did not hit my ultimate goal of sub-2, I DID set a personal record by over THREE minutes! In the world of running, that is a big accomplishment. My other goals were also met:
*Ran injury free (and knee-brace-free for the first time all year)
*Set a new PR!
While I can't guarantee that these will be the results for every runner who uses PiYo as cross-training, I can without a doubt testify that it was the key to my success this season. My eating was on-point, my legs felt great, and I didn't feel worn out after the season ended.
So, if you are a runner, and you are looking for a way to cross-train in the comfort of your own home, YOU set the hours, NO gym membership, and you want to stay healthier as you train, I absolutely recommend this program. PiYo is staying in my library and I can't wait to use it again as I look forward to training for the Pittsburgh Full Marathon next spring!
Wife. Mother. Runner. Coach. Adoption Advocate. I strive to share HOPE through my journey and help others reach their goals.