Sunday, April 8, 2018

State #35: Kentucky: Run The Blue Grass!

I didn't get lost!
And, it was just as they advertised:
America's Prettiest Half Marathon
....but super challenging!
... and super fun!

I have struggled with chronic right hammy pain for more than 3 years. It has made hill work very challenging. Confession: I avoid running races with lots of hills. What I am realizing as I get down to now with only 15 states left -  I can't be that choosy. It's actually getting harder to see what halves work with my work schedule, my marathon training schedule, and Ron's work schedule.

After my debacle in Washington State, Coach really wanted me to run another half before running the London Marathon. I was scrambling on the flight home from Washington to figure out where I could squeeze in another half ...then I saw it...Kentucky, Run The Blue Grass. First thing I do ...look at the elevation. OMG! Look at all those hills!
Presenting Example #1
Presenting Example #2
Okay, so this was on the way to and from Maker's Mark ...another great reason to Run The Blue Grass ...BOURBON! But you get the idea of  the hilly terrain.
Maker's Mark Distillary
I learned from a local artist/photographer, Bill Cole, that Kentucky has 3 Religions:
  1. Basketball
  2. Horse Racing
  3. Bourbon
I don't know Bill, you are a pretty phenomenal photographer - but Kentucky did a pretty darn good job of pulling off an amazing half marathon!
But I digress ...
Of course though, for the sake of Bourbon!

So, without turning the calendar (Easter Sunday was the next day!) I said, "What the heck, Beth, Pull on your big girl pants, suck it up, and race some hills!" And don't forget Jacquie's words,
"They're just hills. 
Get over them!"
And with that, I decided to train on Saturdays with a local group, Fueled By Doughnuts (Yes, they let me run with them even though I avoid gluten, and can't eat doughnuts bc of the Crohn's). They run a super challenging loop every Saturday morning, which after running about 4-5 miles before I meet up with them, we run up a hill about mile 8/9. This was actually perfect because unbeknownst to me, around mile 9 of Run Blue Grass there's a "demon" hill that reminds me of this local hill ... if you married it with Boston's Heart Break Hill. At about mile 9 of Run The Bluegrass, you "start" to run up a hill, make a slight turn, think it's gonna level out, and then run up another hill!

In the past, I would have really gotten in my own head running this hill, but during my training leading up to this race, I ran, hill, after hill, after hill. The problem with this in New Jersey is that the hills aren't as close together. In NJ, you run up a hill, run down a hill, go a stretch with no hill, then run up another, so on and so forth. In Kentucky, the hills just roll, and roll, and roll....

So, my big prep for this race was working on my mental game. I decided during my training that I would keep my faith. To me, this meant, trusting in my God:
God will keep my legs strong,
God will keep my lungs filled with oxygen,
God will help me reach my goal ...which wasn't to place, but to finish -
especially after Washington State.

I also needed to truly trust my Coach, Joel Pasternack,
and better follow his plans for me:
Don't over train (Type A all the way!)
Don't over run - speed, distance, etc, 
Trust my training. 

And during my training, I started to pray and meditate: "I will keep my faith, God will make me strong, I am strong." And I started to praise God more, especially for the little successes I was having along the way - really in training for the London Marathon: GI-wise, as well as achilles, hammy, and hip-wise. Cryotherapy definitely helped too new obsession.

I decided I would Run The Blue Grass as a training run for the London Marathon. I would run strong, in spite of how weak I would likely feel going up those hills. And with each step, running those hills, I would repeat, "God makes me strong!"

I also focussed on my training partner's recent comment while we were on the track, "There's always room for new energy." Thank you Rebecca - This was also a mantra I said and now say to myself over and over and over again.

Next, I developed an "A Plan", a "B Plan", and a "C Plan" - something Coach Paul Giuliano taught me. My "A Plan" was to run an 8:00 minute mile, my "B Plan" was to run an 8:15 minute mile, and my "C Plan" was to run an 8:30 minute mile.

I tried to hang with the 1:45 minute pacers - and I did for the first half. I would be slow going up the hills, and try to make up the time on the downhill. After awhile, just because I am not used to running hills like that back to back, my downhills started to be more of a recovery from going uphill.

During the second half, I made some friends - you know how you do passing back and forth with other runners - 

I met a women who had really great strong-looking legs - I told her that her legs looked strong! She past me toward the end - and I yelled out, "Strong legs, you go girl!" She started laughing - it was a nice exchange. 

There was a guy who stopped on one of the hills, and I yelled, "C'mon, man shuffle if you hafta, but keep running." I passed him at the end, and yelled, "Mr Shuffles, we're at the finish!" He started laughing! 

Then there was a woman - we just kept at it back and forth - I told her, "Your strong baby, you're strong" She passed me towards the end, I yelled, "I told you you are strong!" She laughed, "I'm pregnant, so when you said 'you're strong baby, I just laughed" She went onto say that the last few hills were rough. I told her that I felt the same, and I am always cautious running down hill because it really jostles the tummy, and I have Crohn's" Turns out - she has Crohn's too! I yelled as she continued to pass me, "Mine got better when I was pregnant - I hope your does too." I heard off in the distance .... thank youuuuu ....

This young woman waited for me at the finish, and gave me a huge hug! "You are such an inspiration!" she told me - Me? I said, "You Are - Pregnant and have Crohn's? Wow!" I told her I have had Crohn's for forty years - then I told her not to let anyone tell her she should stop running!

Then there was a bunch of us gearing up for mile 9. A local man told me as we approached, "It's more than a dooozy" Oh boy! When we got to the top, I screamed 
"Amen, that was freakin' awesome! 
One more mile and we only got a 5k left! 
That's nothing! 

Oh yeah - as my daughter puts it, "I'm a real 'peach' to run with!" 
Well, I saw this local runner after the race and I got a great big Hi-Five, "You made it!" I said, "We sure did!"

After the race, we hung around, I was looking for a woman named Susan, who I met at the start, and a man, David, who ran the 7-mile race with his son. I didn't see them, but I did get to celebrate a very successfully hilly half with my family!
In the horses' gates with Juliette and Johnny
I found out that I placed fourth, and my time was 1:50:35. I was happy with my time, and I focussed on not losing my faith in my God, my training, and my ability to run strong. But something was weird with the results, and Ron kept noting that my overall placement in the half kept going down. Ron said, "You know, I think they ran out of yellow bibs, and must have given some of the 7-milers blue bibs." I also thought it was odd that when I would look up my results, there was no official place results for me or my age group.

Well, we left without a trophy, which I truly coveted because it is a Bourbon Barrel - and all of you who know me - you know I like bourbon - not wine, not beer, but bourbon! As I say, it's a good thing I run because it keeps me honest on Friday and Saturday night.
I Present Example #3
When we got home, I received an email with the "Official Results" I noticed that the woman in 2nd place had no splits after the halfway point, and her last recorded mile was 14-minutes. 
So, yes I freakin' stalked her - and her Athlinks Times! 
I searched for her on Compuscore, too - I wanted to know - what does this lady usually run pace-wise? And no, she wasn't cranking out sub-9-minute miles. Soooo, I wrote to the race director, and told them how I felt that maybe there could have been a mistake? Perhaps this woman ran the 7-mile race? Possibly with a blue bib?

Long story short, you are looking at the 3rd place winner of the 50-54 year old age group winner 
of the 2018 Run The Blue Grass Half Marathon!
State #35: Kentucky
Run The Blue Grass
3rd Place
Now, I just can't wait to get my little Bourbon Barrel Trophy in the mail!

Keep Your Faith!

Train Smart!
Run Strong!
Run Fearless!
Run To Inspire!
Run For Peace!
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