• Grayson's First Birthday

  • New Things: Veggin' Out

  • I'm An Ambassador!

  • Spring Race Plans

Friday, April 25, 2014

One Last Ambassador Deal

So this ambassador program has turned out to be even cooler than I could have imagined.

I'll post more of my thoughts on the program, this training season, and the race soon, but for now I have one last ambassador-only deal to share with you guys!

Some of my favorite parts of the Kentucky Derby Festival activities are the concerts at the waterfront. I've seen SO MANY good shows there over the years (my favorite still has to be Justin Moore back in 2009, I think -- before he was as big as he is now). The weather is usually pretty nice, and it's pretty awesome to hear some good music with the river as a backdrop.

This year's lineup includes THE FRAY (with The Mowgli's) next Thursday, May 1st, and SCOTTY McCREERY (with Cassadee Pope and Steve Holy) next Friday, May 2nd!

Tickets for each show are $32.50, but as our special thanks for making the ambassador program such a big success, we're offering a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE deal!

To get the deal, just click here and use promo code RUNJAM14!

I think Jennifer and I will be heading down to see The Fray.
Side Note: their song "Little House" is a GREAT song to run to!
Thanks again for making this year's race such a big success! Now it's time to party!!

I hope to see you down there -- you've earned it!


Hurry, this discount expires Tuesday, April 29th at 9:00am!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 KDF Marathon - Race Recap

Although I had probably the best training season I could have had (especially considering the crazy winter weather we had), I was still pretty nervous going into yesterday's race.

I think a big part stemmed from the fact that I've done the mini so many times now, and I know the hardest part of the half for me is the stretch from Churchill Downs back into downtown (roughly miles 9 - 13). Those four miles really seem to drag on for whatever reason, and by that point you're ready to be done, but it's painfully obvious just how far you still have left to go (because you know how far from the river you still are).

So I knew I was going to have one of my toughest mental battles ahead of me, since the full marathon course turns right, AWAY from downtown and heads all the way down and loops Iroquois Park before making the trek back toward the river.

Leading up to the race, I tried various tactics to keep myself in a positive mindset about it all. I knew I had done the distance before, so that was something (although that time didn't go as well as I had hoped), and my long runs this year had gone pretty well (my training in general was MUCH better than last time). I figured I would break the distance up into smaller, more digestible sections, like four 5-mile sections followed by a 10K.

That helped a little.

So Friday night we got everything ready and went to bed as early as possible. I don't feel like I had trouble sleeping, but I remember waking up a few times throughout the night looking at the clock. Before I knew it, it was 5:30am and we were up and about.

This was probably the calmest we've been before a race. I woke up not nervous at all, and I was actually hungry, which was a very good thing. Normally I can't really eat before a race, and that throws everything off, but I was able to eat my normal breakfast plus a smoothie and I was feeling really good.

We left on time, and actually made it down there about 30 minutes before the race start, which is pretty rare for us!

It was a little chilly at the start -- upper 40s and windy -- but you couldn't have asked for better weather.

We made our way to the corrals, said our good-lucks and goodbyes, and got lined up to start.

Since I was a little nervous/intimidated by this race, I didn't really have any specific goals. I just didn't want that pressure. Ultimately, I just wanted to finish the race without hurting like I was during my last one. I was really hoping to finish under 4:30, but not if it caused me too much pain or took the joy out of it. Under 4:00 would have made my year, but I kinda knew that would only happen if everything in the universe conspired to help me.

I was really just looking forward to having a good race and having fun with it. I had been training since November -- it was crazy to think that I was just a few hours away from it all being over. I wanted to soak it in.

And so, I started off as easy as I could, hoping to hold between a 9:30 - 10:00/mile pace for at least the first half. There were a few times when I'd look down at my watch and realize I was probably going too fast, so I'd slow down, but for the most part I held that pace really well.

The corral system REALLY helped with that. I never felt like I was passing a lot of people or getting passed. I remember looking around seeing the same people all the way through Churchill Downs (which was the first 8.5 miles); I honestly don't remember that ever happening during a race before.

The first 9 miles of the marathon course (in orange)

My first 9 splits -- pretty much right on target!

I LOVED running into the front of Churchill Downs this year!

After the split where the half-marathoners turned left and the full-marathoners turned right coming out of Churchill, things got pretty lonely. Somewhat surprisingly, I was still keeping about the same pace, as were the people around me. I'm not sure what mile we were at, but somewhere along the stretch between Churchill and Iroquois we were passed by the leaders. They were FLYING! And of course they didn't even look like they were working hard at all.

As we entered Iroquois we immediately climbed a pretty big hill. I wanted to keep with my current pace since I was feeling really good, but I made one slight exception: if my heart rate (which had been holding in the 160s and sometimes the 170s) climbed into the 180s, I would slow down or walk. I was really trying to "keep it easy" and conserve as much energy as I could so that I would be able to finish strong.

That plan really seemed to work well, and that's definitely something I'm going to incorporate on all future long-distance runs.

We hit the halfway mark halfway through the park and I was still feeling great. This was around the point where I fell apart during my first marathon, so I think I was a little superstitious that something would happen again.

Leaving the park at mile 15 I was really feeling great, and still hitting my pace goal (even with taking some walk breaks)!

But I knew this would be one of the toughest parts of the course for me mentally -- that long trek back toward the river:

I tried to just settle in and keep doing what I had been doing. I kept the pace easy, and made sure I was fueling and hydrating. Since it was pretty hot and sunny out, I made sure to keep an eye on how much water/PowerAid I was taking in. There were a few times that I noticed I had stopped sweating, so I made sure to drink more so I didn't dehydrate.

I don't really remember what I was thinking as I made my way back up Southern Parkway, but it definitely didn't drag on like I expected it to. At one point I remember looking between the houses and seeing Churchill Downs, and being surprised that I was already there.

And before I knew it I was almost at the final turn-off that the marathoners had to take before finally meeting back up with the half folks for the finish. And my pace was still exactly where I was hoping it would be!

Everyone always talks about hitting "the wall" around mile 20, and I guess that's what happened to me. There's just no other word for it.

Jennifer was hoping to finish the half, meet up with her mom and the baby, and make her way to the 21 mile mark to see me pass by, so I had been texting her where I was. As I passed by the 20 mile mark, she realized she just wasn't going to make it, even though they were all running. I was really hoping to see them -- I definitely needed it -- but I knew it was out of their control.

While seeing them would have been amazing, it wouldn't have helped me. I was physically crashing; it wasn't a mental battle at that point.

I had been running the perfect race, but somewhere between miles 20 and 21 my quads started cramping up (almost like charlie-horses). I tried eating and stretching, and that definitely helped, but the cramping never fully went away. I pushed through it as much as I could, but there were times I could barely walk, let alone run.

I was pretty upset about it, but since I wasn't gunning for a certain time I tried not to get so hung up on it. I just pressed on, knowing that the sooner I finished, the sooner I'd be able to see Jennifer and Grayson, and sit down!

Give me that medal, mom!

The miles continued to pass by, albeit a little slower than before. Eventually I rounded the 2nd to last turn back onto Main street, where I saw my mother-in-law. She had been out running all over the city with the baby all morning, trying to catch us at a few different spots along the course. At that point I was walking and stretching, trying to loosen my legs up so I could run through the finish. She walked along with me, asking how I was doing, telling me where Jen was with the baby, and giving me lots of encouragement. It really was great to see her.

When I felt like I could, I started running again (if you can call it that!). I made the final turn toward the finish, scanning the crowd looking for Jen and the baby. Jennifer got a few pics of me as I went by:


Since I was really pushing the 4:30 mark, I didn't stop like I wanted to. Instead I just used my momentum to carry me across the finish line.

My final splits

So I missed my time goal by 32 seconds, but I met my most important goal: although my quads were tight, I felt really good and was able to walk around after the race. I didn't feel like I was completely dead like I did after my first marathon.

The best reward. Also, he's looking at that bagel like I'm looking at him. #truelove

I want to give a HUGE thanks to Jennifer's mom for bringing Grayson out and taking care of him (while running all over the city, no less)!


I think I learned way more from this marathon experience than I did my first one. I trained better and I raced better, and I came away from it all with things I'll do differently next time.

Because let's just be honest, I'm sure there will be a next time.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Did you race yesterday? What did you think??

My job as an ambassador isn't quite over. I'm still going to give my feedback on the race, and I'd like to include your story/comments as well! Just leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll pass it along!

I think my favorite part were the shirts and medals this year. Definitely the best out of the past 5 years in my opinion!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Final KDF Marathon/miniMarathon DISCOUNT CODE!

Edit: The coupon code is good through Sunday, April 6th, and online registration is open until Tuesday, April 8th!

The time has almost come.

The Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon are now just two short weeks away.

If you're still on the fence about registering, or know someone who still needs to, make sure you use this code to save 10%:

Discount Code: AMBREF3
Good for 10% off
Valid Through 4/6/2014

Make sure you tell them Ambassador #11 sent you (that's me!).

If you've already registered, make sure you confirm your registration here.

Some Other Important Notes:

  • Today (April 4th) is the last day to transfer your registration to someone else
  • Online Registration closes Tuesday, April 8th at 11:59pm
  • April 14th - an email will be sent out with bib and corral assignments
  • Packet Pickup and Race Expo - KY International Convention Center, Hall 2D
    • Thursday, April 17th: 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    • Friday, April 18th: 11:00am - 9:00pm
  • Running Wild Pasta Dinner - Friday, April 18th: 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Also, don't forget to sign up for runner tracking (starting April 14th) for your friends and family!

I hope your training has gone well despite the weather!

Make sure you stop by and say "hi" at the packet pickup. I'll be handing out the race shirts from 2:15pm until 6:00pm on Friday.

And of course, I'll be out bright and early on Saturday, April 19th! Can't wait to see you there!!


I seriously can't believe that race day is only two weeks away!

It's been a long, hard winter, but somehow the time has still managed to fly by.

I did a few things differently this season, and I'm really happy with what I've been able to accomplish, so I wanted to take a minute and reflect back.

I started my training way back in November of last year, following the No Meat Athlete Marathon Road Map. Since I hadn't run in a while (aside from a handful of 2-4 mile runs leading up to the Biggest Loser 5K on November 2nd), I wanted to do the optional 8-week foundation-building part of the training plan to help ease my body back into running.

I think I was just really excited to be training again, because I actually stuck with my training plan this time. I think I've only missed a handful of runs total, which is incredible for me.

And early on I was even WAKING UP EARLY to go for a run. Yeah, never in my life did I think I'd wake up at 6:00am to willingly go for a run before I went into work. Especially not on those cold mornings.

But I did.

Comparing the numbers from this season to my Air Force Marathon training, some noticeable differences pop out.

  • I'm running more often for shorter distances, but hitting about the same total mileage, and
  • I'm getting almost ALL of my runs in, as opposed to just one or two per week.

Back in 2012, I was averaging just 7.5 runs per month! (That's less than 2 runs per week on average.)

This time around I've almost doubled that, averaging 14.2 runs per month, or just over 3 runs per week!

Even though my number of runs has increased significantly, my total mileage was pretty close (up until this past month, that is):

The 42 miles in Month 6 for the AF Marathon INCLUDE the 26 from the race

Of course, I REALLY slacked off on my training in the final 6 weeks last time, and I'm sure that's a big reason why I was hurting on race day. I thought the most important thing was to get my long runs in, so that was my primary focus. Aside from that, I really couldn't find the motivation to get out and run.

I've definitely learned my lesson, so I'm going to do whatever I have to to get all my runs in over the next couple of weeks.

Also, some of my really important long runs were done on the treadmill last time.

Overall, I've done more runs on the treadmill this time around. That's partially because the crazy winter we had, but also because it was just easier to do that with the baby sometimes.

But over the last two months I've only run twice on the treadmill (out of 27 runs), which is wayyy better than the 6/16 from 2 years ago. (And I didn't even have the baby excuse back then!)

Lastly, I'm doing more hills.

This new plan incorporates hill work, which I've never done before. But even though I haven't been getting in as many of those workouts as I should, I'm still logging a lot of climbing thanks to a couple of big hills at the park right by our house.

I just wrapped up my peak week this past weekend, and I've been "noticing" my left knee here and there. It doesn't hurt, but it feels as if it's on the verge -- like if I land the wrong way it'll start hurting like it has in the past. Luckily it doesn't happen often, and when it does it's brief, so I'm hoping that logging my runs and keeping up with my strength training will continue to keep the injuries at bay.

Peak week for me ended on Sunday with a pretty good 20 mile run at the park.

For my past few long runs, I've really had a hard time getting going. The thought of running 16, 18, or 20 miles seems so daunting that I don't even want to start.

Fortunately that feeling goes away after a few miles, but pretty much every weekend I question why I ever wanted to do this again. And while I'm happy to be tapering, I'm pretty nervous about the big day. Somehow, I just don't feel ready.

But I know I've trained, and I know deep down I'm ready for that redemption I've been craving.

I honestly have no idea how close I'll be to hitting my 4 hour goal. That would be a 9:15/mile average pace, and I know that long runs are supposed to be around 30 seconds slower per mile, but mine have been averaging even slower than that:

Date Miles Average Pace
2/16 14.00 10:30
3/1 16.02 10:11
3/15 18.01 9:51
3/30 20.18 10:06

Ultimately for me, the most important thing is finishing this one strong.

For funsies, I'll leave you with a map from my last long run. It's safe to say I know the Beckley Creek Park very well! (I can't wait for them to open some of the other sections!)

This is what 20 miles looks like. Make sure you click it so you can see it zoomed in a bit. :)

If you're ever worried about not being able to finish a run, remember that the most important part is starting. In my book, it's okay to stop early if you have to -- you can always make it up on another day. But usually once you start you find reasons to keep going.

And it really is amazing what our bodies are capable of.

As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Papa John's 10 Miler - Race Recap

Unlike the 10K a few weeks ago, I actually had a plan for this race.

Basically, I wanted to keep my first 6 miles as close to 8:00/mile as I could. I didn't want to go out too hard for the first few miles, but I didn't want to lose too much time on the hills in Iroquois, either. Then I was hoping to push as hard as I could for the last four miles, hopefully averaging around mid-7:00s to make up the difference.

I was really hoping to finish under 1:20:00, which meant I needed an average pace of 7:53/mile or better overall.

Although we left pretty close to when we should have, we got down there just a few minutes before the race started because of traffic and street closings. I ended up being about 8:40 behind the clock.

Walking to the start line

I was hoping to get a bit further ahead for the start, but I wasn't too concerned about it. If anything, the traffic would help me hold my pace back some.

The first few miles were really crowded. I tried to stay on the road, but I ended up having to jump up on the curb and into the grass a few times to get around people.

Mile 1: 8:41

Ouch. Quite a bit slower than I was hoping for. I tried to push the pace without expending too much energy, looking for gaps so I didn't have to keep weaving in and out of people.

Mile 2: 8:07

Much better!

Mile 3: 8:16

Once again, slower that I would have liked. I didn't want to drop that much until I was in the park.

As I turned onto Taylor blvd I saw the leaders coming out of the park. Normally, they pass by somewhere out on Southern Parkway, so they were a bit behind this year. (That was confirmed by the finish times -- this year's winner finished in 51:11 compared to last year's winner with a 47:25.)

Even so, they were FLYING!

Since I'm normally really bad about fueling, I decided to eat a GU before I headed into the park. I knew I would need the energy for the hills, and especially as I made my way back up Southern Parkway.

Mile 4: 8:20

Not bad. This was as we entered the park and got into the hills, so that's right around where I wanted to be.

Mile 5: 8:10

Perfect! Turns out, the hills weren't nearly as bad as I remembered. Maybe that's because I've been doing hill work and running a lot more hills during my long runs. There were also some nice flats and even some good downhills in the park.

Mile 6: 8:12

Again, right where I needed to be.

Coming out of the park I looked at my Virtual Partner to see how far behind I was. I had it set for a 7:53/mile pace. Turns out I was about 2 minutes behind, or roughly a quarter of a mile.

Ouch. Four miles to make up 2 minutes is a pretty tall order. I was hoping I could hang on and average around 7:30/mile for the rest of the race, but it would be tough.

Mile 7: 7:26

Well that's a good start! As you leave the park you're running downhill for a little more than half a mile, and from there it's relatively flat on Southern Parkway. I tried to keep the momentum going and push the pace without using too much effort.

Mile 8: 7:37

Not bad, but not great. I was wearing out, so I tried to eat another GU. I only managed a couple bites of it.

The wind was also pretty brutal.

"Only two more miles. Just hold on," I told myself.

Mile 9: 7:23

I really was leaving everything I had out there.

I tried to push through the pain and the negative thoughts, knowing it would be over soon, but the overpass about broke me. It was HARD to not stop and walk. My pace briefly fell to around 9:00/mile, but I managed to push a little harder and get it back up.

My heart rate was making a steady climb, nearly hitting 200 as I crested the hill.

Coming down the back side, my speed improved back into the low 7:00s and my heart rate recovered a bit. I kept checking my watch. It was going to be close!

As I turned into the stadium I had about a minute and a half left to hit my 1:20:00 goal.

Mile 10: 7:28

Coming into the stadium I was oblivious to everything around me. All I knew was that I had about 30 seconds to get the to the finish line -- an impossible task, but I pushed as hard as I could.

I felt like I was slowing down, but according to my Garmin I really wasn't! I was holding 6:00s and even dipped into the mid-5s!

The last little .12: 5:44

Official Time: 1:20:23

Even though I missed my goal, I certainly can't be mad at that time.

After all, it is a PR of 5:41!

But yeah, it was just 5 seconds behind Kara's PR. That's okay -- maybe I'll get her on the marathon!
Thanks for being my rabbit again, Kara!!

Instead of falling over and dying right there, I made my way back to where Jennifer and my in-laws were waiting in the stands.

As soon as Baby G saw me, he came right over and cuddled up

Of course, I went and grabbed some pizza and we watched as Chris finished his longest race (and run!) ever! Then we went out to brunch before going home and passing out.

For anyone interested, here are the charts:

Notice that TINY little bump around the 9.3 mile mark -- that's the dreaded overpass!!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Looking for Another PR this Weekend

This Saturday marks the third and final installment in the Triple Crown of Running with the Papa John's 10 Miler.

This race is always a bit tougher than the Anthem 5K and Rodes City Run 10K because a) the distance, and b) the hills through Iroquois Park.

Since I didn't really have a plan for the 10K two weeks ago, I thought I should at least look back at this race from the last two years to see where I might struggle, and use that to create an action plan for race day.

The Course

The race starts on Southern Parkway just a couple blocks away from Central Avenue. It's basically a lollipop course -- heading down Southern Parkway, looping Iroquois park, then heading back up Southern Parkway -- except the finish is about a mile past where the start line was (turn right onto Central and cross the dreaded overpass, then left onto Floyd, and finally left into the stadium).

Tough Spots

Iroquois is obviously the toughest part of the course. From around mile 3 to about mile 6, you're climbing. Actually, it's a lot of up and down, but somehow you only seem to notice the ups.

The craziest part is that you feel like you climb for close to three miles, but as you leave the park you only seem to descend for about a quarter of a mile!

Here's what my Garmin picked up as the elevation profile for the last two years. I'm not sure how they're so different!



The end of the race is actually pretty tricky, too. Right after mile 9 you cross an overpass that's no joke. So you think you're done with the hills in Iroquois and you really step it up as you make your way back up Southern Parkway, only to find yourself with nothing left in the tank to take on this beast:

The real salt in the wound is that once you make it over this hill and you're excited that the finish is "right around the corner," you've still got a good half-mile until the actual finish line.

I made the mistake of going all-out on the backside of the overpass the first year, only to find myself crashing before I even stepped foot in the stadium.

And of all races, you definitely want to finish strong for this one because a) not only are you running on the field with everyone watching from the stands, but b) they also show you on the big screen.

Game Plan

This year, I'm going to try to stick to the plan I had when I set my current PR back in 2012 -- start off easy, hold back through the park, then pick up the pace for the last 2/5 or so.


What? You hate fractions? Well sorry, but it's less than 1/2 and more than 1/3!

Actually, I pretty much did the same thing last year, only slower.


So my current PR is 1:26:04, set back in 2012 when everything seemed to be clicking for me.

I know I can beat it.

The question is by how much?

1:26:04 is an average pace of 8:36/mile.

So far this year, I've been able to average under 8:00 for both races (considerably faster than I was back in 2012):

Anthem 5K 24:14 (7:49/mile) 23:12 (7:27/mile)
Rodes City Run 10K 51:53 (8:22/mile) 49:00 (7:53/mile)
Papa John's 10 Miler 1:26:04 (8:36/mile) ???

If I keep up with my current trend of averaging about 30 seconds per mile better, I'll come in somewhere around the 1:21:30 and 1:22:30 mark.

But why stop there?

Once again, I noticed that I'm pretty close to Kara from It's a Dog Lick Baby World's PR. She set a 7 MINUTE PR in the pouring rain, literally running through puddles!

To beat her this time, I'd have to come in under 1:20:18, which is around a 7:53/mile pace (yeah, that's how fast I ran the 10K, although I was hungover for that one).

I guess we'll just see how it goes.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!!