Monthly Archives: October 2019

Race Report: Pupkin Spice 5K

So this race was originally the Pumpkin Spice 5K, but the organizers changed the name when they partnered with Tyson’s Chance Animal Foundation. It also became a dog friendly race. Costumes were already encouraged.

I signed up for this race because 1) near my house 2) something easy and fun to do shortly after UBHM 3) River City Races does this thing called Run the 502 (Louisville’s area code) where if you participate in 8 of 11 or so races beginning in the summer and going through winter, you get this big fleur de lis (Louisville’s symbol) medal on which to hang the little medal charms from each individual race. And since this year I am apparently a crow and attracted to shiny things, I am all about the race bling of this series.

I was pretty ambivalent about the costume aspect of this race. I love dressing up for Halloween parties…but not to run in. My running group was doing an October Scavenger Hunt Challenge and one of the items was “selfie running in Halloween costume”. Sold. I kinda already knew that my costume would be a last-minute, low- energy effort. The running-with-your-dog part was a bit more complicated. Kira loves to run but she has a bum knee and she is not reliable with other dogs. Also she’s a little crazy under perfectly controlled circumstances. She was staying home. Camp Randall on the other hand is a well-behaved, mostly chill little dude. But he is only good for running like a mile before he starts slowing waaaayyyyy down. So Kira was a Sorry No and Camp was a game time decision. Everything was made worse by the weather forecast–lower 50s and 100% chance of rain.

The night before the race, I pulled out some stuff from the costume closet that Spawn had bought a few years before for Halloween. It was goggles, a tool-type belt, and work-type gloves to be Tara from Teen Titans. Tara wears yellow shorts and a black, long-sleeved belly shirt with a yellow T in a circle. No yellow shorts (went with black capri running tights) but I did have a plain black tech shirt (full coverage, thanks). I cut a T In A Circle out of bright yellow fabric that was Praise Be! toward the top of a fabric pile and used a glue stick to attach it to the front of my black shirt. All set!

The morning of the run was as wet as was predicted. If it wasn’t for the giant medal-medal charm bauble and my completionist needs, I would not have gotten out of bed. Coffee, toast, pooping like clockwork. I put on my costume, which was all fine except my tights had no pockets and I couldn’t carry my hand-held water bottle because of the gloves. This was bad because I had no way to accommodate my phone. The compartments on the tool belt thing were big enough for my car key, but nowhere big enough for the necessary phone. Leaving it at home or in the car was not an option, as I wanted to take pictures.

So cue last minute destroying my closet and the coat racks looking for my flip belt (stretchy fabric waist band thing with interior pockets). I found it right before I gave up (not sure what I would have done with the phone…worn a jacket? stuck it down my pants?). The flip belt fit under the tool belt thing and I was able to squeeze my phone in. Yay! Also found cheap yellow poncho thing for if I wimped out and needed protection from the incessant rain.

It was time to leave. Camp or No Camp? I checked the radar and it was solid green. All rain. I hate being wet, having wet feet, wet shoes, being wet and cold. Everything about doing this run was going against my instincts, so I decided “goddammit if I’m gonna do this, I want a friend.” Spouse was still in bed and both dogs were there with him. I did not want Kira to know she was about to miss out on something adventurous. Camp has Toast Radar, so I opened and closed the bread box, then slid the toaster around. Sure enough, he came bouncing down the steps, expecting food to happen soon. Instead I put a doggie tie around his neck (he was in costume too!), leashed him, and off we went!

The drive only took a couple minutes. This is literally my neighborhood park. I saw some people from my running group immediately. Some in costume, some not. Some with dogs, some not. It was nice to see MRTT folks and catch up with a few people on post-UBHM feels. Pictures were taken, costumes admired (yall, some people had a goat with them), doggie-costumes awarded.

Me and Camp, ready to go

It was coming down steady at race time, so I donned my poncho. Camp went pee on command on the way to the start line because he is the best. The run was fine. Very wet, pretty fun. Thankfully it was mid 50s and no colder or I would be bitching nonstop about the temperature. The only thing of note–about 4 tenths of a mile before the finish, there is an exit out of the park. It is the exit I most often take when I’m in the park with the dogs, which is several times a week. Camp, who was completely and utterly soaking wet at this point and, keep in mind, *not a runner*, seemed to think that perhaps it was time to Later The Fuck Out Of This Noise And Go The Fuck To Our Dry Home. I enthusiastically told him NO! KEEP GOING GOOD BOY WE’RE ALMOST DONE! He said “bitch, I’ll show you how done I am.” He got slower and slower and I basically dragged a doggie anchor up the last hill.

Then we were done! We went back to the shelter and talked to friends and Camp got treats and I got coffee. We placed a 3rd in my age group. Lots of wet, happy people and pets. It was time to go home. On the way back to the car, I noticed how dirty Camp had gotten. Not from the run, but from the dirty floor of the Witches Hat pavilion shelter area. Like, seriously the floor was so damn nasty and because of the rain it was gummy and sticky and just overall ugh no. And it was all over Camp’s back legs and tail because he had been sitting so much. Thank gods I remembered to throw some towels in the car!

When we got home, Spouse had already left for the gym. The Camp and Kira reunion was insane. HE HAD NEW SMELLS. As soon as they mellowed a little bit, I put Camp’s leash back on and dragged him up to the bathtub. I’m sure he at that point was convinced he should never leave the house with me again. A big day, and it was comical how hard he crashed the rest of the afternoon.

The race seemed well organized. Packet pick-up the day before was fine, awards went quick, free photos afterward were awesome. The Heine’s Coffee was a blessing. Bummer about the weather–it would have been much funner without the rain and I’m sure more people would have been there and more people in costume.

Camp post bath, wearing age-group medal


Race Report: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

UBHM 2018 was my first half and my first big goal when I started running post surgery last summer. My only aim was to finish and not die trying. Training for it got me beyond the point where in past years I would have stopped running. It’s the race that turned me into a real runner. It was great–organization, crowd support, after party, course, everything.

So I was really looking forward to UBHM 2019! Training had gone well, no injuries, plenty of long runs, lots of running up hills. The extreme heat persisted well into October, but I just kept trying to get out as early as I could. Even though the temps were in the 90s almost every day for the beginning of October, it was getting into the 60s at night, so morning runs were totally doable. Everything about the week leading up to the race was ideal. I felt well rested, well hydrated. The stars were aligned to have a great race. Last year’s UBHM time was 2:12. Kentucky Derby Festival was 2:11. I was hoping to get under 2:10, with a dream goal of 2:07. This would be the race I had been hoping Indy Women’s Half would have been if not for the obnoxious heat and humidity.

The morning was chilly but fine, mid 40s. I wore capri-length tights and a tank top, with a light jacket on top of that. I met my running group for a picture, then went straight to the portapotty line. It took forever. I would have skipped, but I did need to pee. I got out and into the sea of humanity way toward the back of the pack, but I didn’t have time to move up. The call to the post had happened minutes before. I got my jacket off and tied around my waist right around the time I heard the starter’s pistol. Then we were off!

The race started downtown and first went toward Waterfront Park. We had the whole width of the street, so plenty of room to pass people. I went past the 3:00 pacer, then the 2:50 pacer quickly. I met up with a group of the friends I run with, but they had no time goal and encouraged me to go for it. After the course looped around waterfront park, it cut back up toward downtown, then turned to go east. It was there, around a mile and a half into the race, that I passed the 2:10 pacer. I had a few lingering doubts about my speed, that I was doing too much and I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. I thought to myself that I did not want to see that pacer again, and if I did, it would mean I was in trouble.

The course made its way to Lexington Road, along Cave Hill Cemetery’s long brick wall, and into Cherokee Park. Cherokee is where I go almost every time I run. I usually run counter clockwise, but I had been running clockwise, the direction of the course, to hit the hills the right way. I was ready. It was still hard as fuck. That first hill that goes up the “back way” to Hogan’s Fountain is no joke. But then there’s a nice long downhill. At that point I saw a running friend and her little girl, cheering people on. That was awesome. I was half hoping, half expecting to see Stuart and the dogs somewhere around there, as it’s a half mile from our house, but no luck. Mile eight was right around the time we were leaving the park. Over half done!

At eight and a half miles, water stop # 5 happened. This water stop was staffed with volunteers from my running group. It was so fun to see so many familiar faces! They had music blaring and horns and some of them were in costumes. Lots of high fives and cheers and enthusiasm. Best water stop! It was a good point in the course to see noisy fun friends. I was feeling good, under five miles to go, but I had been running hard for almost an hour and a half and the mental boost was nice.

After that it was up hilly Grinstead Drive. I run up Grinstead regularly, so I was prepared. Last year it seemed like a lot of people hit a wall at Grinstead because they thought the only hills were in the park. Or something. The hills going up Grinstead aren’t bad, but if you aren’t ready, they seem like they go on and on, and when you’ve already run over eight miles, it’s easy to get discouraged. Soon though we were by Cave Hill again, then down Baxter Ave to turn back toward downtown. Only a few miles left and no more hills! I was starting to get tired and sore feeling legs, but my energy level was okay. And the pain wasn’t too bad. Nothing I hadn’t felt before on a long run.

The finish line was near Fourth Street Live, a touristy commercial area in the middle of downtown Louisville. I felt good enough to push the last quarter mile with no intervals. I had been skipping a lot of intervals for most of the race, but at this point, I had been taking every one. Finishing was such a relief! I knew I was close to my pie-in-the-sky goal time. I grabbed a bagel to gnaw on while I checked the race results webpage to see what my time was. 2:06! What an amazing feeling to squash a challenge. I saw some running friends, who had also met and exceeded their goal times. So much celebrating!

The UBHM after party is the best race after party. Bourbon, beer, pizza, burgoo (Kentucky’s version of the regional stew that is made in a huge pot and contains every type of meat from chicken to venison and every vegetable lying around the kitchen and pantry; called booyah in the area of the country I grew up in). It took place at Fourth Street Live, which I normally avoid like the flu, but it’s kind of a perfect place for this event. I saw a bunch of friends from my running group, got in lots of pictures, but I had to leave to go get ready for another event on the calendar. I’m already looking forward to next year’s race, and my running group is talking about getting a couple hotel rooms to continue the celebration.

So now that I’ve accomplished a running goal, I need to figure out the next milestone. Should I try for a sub-two hour half or think distance and shoot for running a full marathon? I’ve got a few trail races lined up over the next several months, a bunch of short races this winter, 2020 Triple Crown and KDF Mini. I could upgrade KDF to the full or really work on speed this winter and early spring. Decisions, decisions. I’ll be turning 50 in there somewhere, so there’s also that to contend with!

Race Report: Indy Women’s Half Marathon

I should have written this up two weeks ago, but better late than never!

I’ve been running with Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town for a year and a few months.  It is a free women’s running group that is organized on facebook and it has changed my life.  The support, the group runs, the fantastic women are why I am still doing this running, instead of bailing after completing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon last year.  I’m not 100% positive I for sure would have quit, but I started and gave up on running too many times to assume I would have persevered on my own. I do know that the women in my group made continuing much easier.  I know I would never have given trail running a try if not for the group. I know I would not enjoy running as much as I do.

Anyway, so can’t overstate how important M/SRTT is for me. 

About a year ago, one of the members came to a group run on a weekend morning wearing the Indy Women’s Half tank shirt and telling tales about how nice the race was.  We all admired the cute shirt, a bit of a novelty as race shirts are, in my opinion, frequently boxy, ugly, and garish. It could be just me, who hates HATES tshirts and turns her race shirt into tank tops, but I think in general women like tanks or tshirts that fit well.  The cute color and design elements didn’t hurt.

So a bit after that, she posted on the group’s facebook page that the 2019 Indy Women’s Half was having a limited time $30 entry fee.  $30 for a half is pretty cheap. Indianapolis is a less-than-two-hour drive from Louisville. A fun time for a little group of us crazy lady runners.  That was the first thought, but within a few days, 100 of our members had signed up! I guess we really wanted to go on a field trip.

I’d been looking forward to this race for months.  Both because I would be taking over Indianapolis with 100 of my best running buddies and because I was hoping for a PR. 

I did the Filly Women’s Half at the beginning of April and the Kentucky Derby Festival Half at the end of April of this year.  I felt undertrained. Not enough long runs, not enough cross training. My time for Urban Bourbon Half last year was 2:12. My time for the Filly Women’s Half was 2:13 and KDF was 2:11.  I thought this was an opportunity for improvement. Training this summer had gone well, despite the heat, and I began to experiment, seemingly successfully, with nutrition during a long run.  I’d been better with cross training and did lots of hill work.  I was hoping I could get under 2:10, maybe even under 2:07. 

Three weeks out, the weather looked favorable.  The low for Indianapolis the night before was predicted to be in the upper 50s.  Perfect! Unfortunately as the date drew closer, a heat wave fucked everything to hell.  We would be lucky to see 68 degrees the night before, which meant at least mid-70s by the time I would be finishing the race.  Ugh. 

I used to be the kind of person who preferred hot to cold.  I guess I still am, as I loathe cold and being cold. But I no longer have my tolerance for heat.  I don’t know if it’s my age or the tamoxifen, but heat and especially running in the heat is the worst.  So yay. Probably no PR. I was already getting in the mindset that I would just be happy to be there and finish with a smile.  Let’s hear it for low expectations!

Normally I don’t get nervous before a race, but packing up the car, I realized I was kind of anxious.  I assume it was because this would be my first out of town race. I often have some anxiety when I go out of town, but usually it’s when Stuart and I go together and have to leave the pets behind.  He was staying though. I think really my two fears that would make the race go badly were related to not being home, namely sleeping poorly in the hotel and not pooping in the morning because my routine was thrown off.

I slept not great but not horrible.  Pooping did not happen at the hotel, but the walk to the start got things moving and I had some success at the portapotty.  No complaints. M/SRTT did a group photo, another just-in-case stop at the portapotties, then off to the start line.  

It was hot and humid but so much great energy!  Lots of people, tons of excitement. Time to do the thing!  I quickly caught up to some friends I often run with. We ran together a couple miles, but I was ready to skip an interval, so off I went.  Everything was going well. My first few splits were right where I wanted, around 9:50 pace.  

Around mile 4, disaster struck.  I started getting stomach cramps and had to slow down, convinced I was about to shit my pants.  At 4.5 water stop, there was a portapotty. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved. Another woman went in right ahead of me, and she was in there for at least two minutes.  It was a torturous two minutes. I saw my friends I had been running with go by. We waved. I contemplated saying fuck it and just going back to the road. My stomach wasn’t cramping much.  But it seemed stupid to have stood there for nothing. The woman inside came out eventually. And of course all I did was fart. But I physically felt better and I now had the confidence that I was not going to poop my pants.  

Back to the road!  I met back up with my friends and ran with them for another couple miles.  They had joined up with a couple other women from other states. The course had a section with a turnaround, so we got to see a bunch of our group members who were faster, then after we turned around, we got to see a bunch more friends.  So fun to cheer everyone on! It was getting really uncomfortable, and seeing people was such a boost. Again I started to break away from my friends. All was good. Mostly good. The road was not the best. Very broken up in spots, with some actual giant pot holes.  And I confess, stretches of the course were boring. So yeah, everything was good for a while. I knew my time standing by the toilet had pretty much tanked my hopes of a PR, but I wanted to see what I could do with the situation.  

Mile 7 was a tiny glitch.  I started feeling hot and tired.  Nothing I couldn’t talk myself out of.  But then mile 10 happened. So hot, so tired.  All I could think was running is stupid and all the people around are stupid just like me because we are running and it’s so so stupid.  Oh the mental state of a runner who is battling doubts. And the heat/humidity. Physically I was doing okay. Tummy issues were over and I was drinking at each walking interval.  I just wanted to be finished running. I actually thought about walking the rest of the way. Like, what’s the worst thing that could happen? PR is out fo reach…why suffer? Well, I kept going.  Around mile 12, my body started to hurt. RIght hip, my usual nemesis, was yelling at me. My pace slowed, but I was still running.

My finish time was 2:13:17.  Not too bad considering I wasted a couple minutes with my pooping false alarm and in general the weather was not ideal.  A couple of my favorite running friends finished right around when I did, so we went into the party area and decompressed and drank mimosas together.  The after party was fun. Every few minutes someone from our group would finish and join us. Lots of celebration for being done with a hard race, lots of camaraderie.  Several of our group were running their first half, so extra celebrating with them.   

Back to the hotel for showers and relaxing.  We said goodbye to some friends who weren’t staying a second night and did some room switching.  I walked around downtown Indy with a running friend and we got a late lunch, then shared an Uber with a couple other friends to a brewery for a group meet-up.  Good beer, good company. We walked through a cool Indianapolis neighborhood to get back to the hotel area, then got ice cream.

It was a hard race, but a great weekend overall.  Lots of fun with this group of women who have come to mean so much to me.  Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is in 3 days. Can’t wait!