My Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon Adventure!

As many of you know, I am an ambassador for the 2017 #KDFMarathon.  This is my race recap-the good, the bad and the ugly! I say this because weather delays and the perfect storm of conditions led to a challenging race for most, including me.  When people ask me “How was it?”, consistently my first answer is “Interesting!”.   I say interesting because I cannot think of a better word. At any rate, this is my story as I remember it…

First, this race was very special to me because I was training with a good friend and this was her first marathon. We were both beyond excited about it; I may have been more excited about her first race than she was, honestly! I love seeing people set goals and meet them, so it was a great feeling to watch her train and prepare for the race. Also, my mentor, or “Fairy God Mother Runner”, as I affectionately named her, would be joining us for this adventure on a last minute whim.  She is a seasoned marathoner and was a wealth of knowledge for us as we trained for this race. I was happy and relieved she would be there to support us on race day.

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Our Marathon Trifecta

The three of us stayed in a hotel downtown the night before the race.  We had dinner and talked about the things we were looking forward to as well as worked through any last minute details.  Lights were out early as we hoped to get a good night’s rest, but sadly lightening crashing down outside the hotel room woke us at about 3:30 am.  At 5:00 we found that our race was delayed for 30 minutes due to weather.  Little did we know, this would be the start of two more delays and a start time of 9:20 am instead of 7:30 am!

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All smiles as we wait out the weather.

Once we were dressed and fueled, we walked down to the start line. Dozens of our running friends were gathered outside a stadium waiting for an announcement that the race would start.  There was discussion of race fuel, hydration, weather, weather…oh, and did I mention weather? Finally, it was time and we started lining up in corrals.  Our plan was to start out a little under our race pace and safely maneuver through traffic before settling into our comfort zone well before hitting Iroquois Park. Best pace scenario would put us at the finish line right around the 4:20 mark, which would be a PR (personal record).  My running partners agreed they would be ecstatic to get near that time as well, so we were excited! As soon as we took off, heavy rain started, but quickly backed off to a drizzle.  Then, things went gray and humid. Still, no sun was beating down on us and we were all smiles and in good humor. It was great to run on that course and see so many people that I have made friends with during training season.

Our 10K pace was right at an hour, which was pretty comfortable for us considering the crowd.  I was ready to pick up the pace, but it started to get hotter and my partner started to feel ill around mile 8. We were forced to slow down in order for her heart rate to get back in order. In mile 9, she told me to go ahead without her. I didn’t want to and so we went back and forth about this for awhile. Honestly, I was scared for her and didn’t want to leave her this way.  (AND, I had ran my first marathon alone and knew what that felt like!)  After a pep talk from another mother runner and after much insistence from my running partner, I went on ahead.  I looked at my watch and started doing the math and realized her argument was right, I could still PR this race!

Getting into mile 12 and starting the hilliest part of the race was invigorating for me. I have a bad habit of going faster than I should up hills, so I really had to watch my ascents, and descents, for that matter. I wanted to run hard and fast and get out of the park so that I could find my rhythm again on flat ground. My fueling was way off because of the delayed start, so I kept my mind occupied by doing “fuel math” as I ran to mile 15. On miles 15-20, I ran my fastest miles of the day, and I felt like I had wings on my feet! Towards the end of mile 19, I had a group of mother runners, affectionately known as our “Scream Team” waiting for me and the others with ice, body glide and jello shots.  I took the ice and rubbed it down my neck and poured water over my head. I shoved ice cubes in my mouth like a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter – I am sure I made a lovely picture at that point, looking like a drowned, crazy squirrel!  It was so humid- fire hydrants were turned wide open as the sun beat down on us. It was easily in the high 80’s with high humidity. I made sure to run through every drop of water I could find.  I started passing people in mile 22.  I could feel it; I was so close to that finish line!  My husband and my children text me a photo that said “We are waiting for you, mommy!” and I just started crying!  They were tears of joy, to be clear.

Suddenly, my pace slowed and I thought miles 23 and 24 were never going to end. I was sure that my watch was wrong-my pace was staying consistent but I felt like my legs were running in slow motion. As I rounded the curve at 26, I could hear my husband yelling and then I saw my two boys.  My ten year old was leading the pack with my eight year old right behind him! They were running alongside of me, cheering me on, blowing me kisses as they ran screaming, “Run, Mommy! Run!” like it was a game we play every day.   I held my head up and put my feet forward one at a time as I ran to catch them. They ran the entire last 0.2 of that marathon with me and it was 0.2 miles of pure joy the entire way.  Later, after I had my medals, some food and a celebratory beverage in my hand, my husband revealed I had PR’d the race. I had forgotten to look at my time at the finish line!

Now I look at my finisher’s photos and I am wearing a huge grin. My smile tells a story of which I am so proud. I am proud of my friend who finished her first marathon not long after I did. I am proud of my Fairy God Mother Runner for PR’ing what was her seventh marathon finish. I am proud of myself for finishing what was a race under not so ideal conditions.  I ended up with a 4:35 finish time for this race- 10 minutes faster than my first try at this course. And I think to myself, not too shabby for your second 26.2!

I now look forward to my next marathon and the experience it brings me. I welcome the training because it makes me stronger. I welcome the challenge because showing my children hard work can pay off is priceless. No matter how slow or fast I go, I know when I cross that finish line, I am a better runner and a better person than I was the day before.

*A special thank you to my husband and family members for putting up with me during my 14 week training season.  Also, I want to thank my IRun4 buddy, Jessica and her mother, Merlene, for being such great cheerleaders! You all are my a place I find strength and comfort on the hard days.

In like a lion, out like a lamb…

They say that spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  I feel that exact way right now about my race schedule for April through June!  In the past 3 weeks I completed Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon and a Ragnar Trail Relay. I am now in my two week taper plan for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon.  My spring race training plan resembles a lion, in that it is fierce!  There were many miles included weekly in the plan, a mix of trail and road miles, and I also upped my cross-training this year for the marathon. Couple that with the fact that I was off for almost 3 weeks from injury (strained calf) and illness (upper respiratory) and I sometimes felt as if I had been run over by a lion.

My last marathon was a year ago. I had forgotten what it is like to train for this distance. I am constantly hungry and I sleep well {read: my head hits the pillow and I am out} at night!  I have to carefully plan my mileage each week around my full-time job as a mom, my {other} full-time job, hockey practice, my husband’s training schedule, my extended family..it is exhausting!  I know it is all worth it in the end, but this training is a painful reminder how time consuming it all is.

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This leads me to think:  How do mother runners fit it all in?  

Here are some key pieces that help me to successfully complete my training:

  1. Supportive family members – If it were not for my husband and children cheering me on, I am not sure I would have the drive to lace up every day.  My husband is also a runner and understands the time commitment. When I worry about missing “something”, he is there to tell me it is okay to run. Or maybe he helps me reconfigure the schedule.  He is a great sounding board when I need it!  My boys are always telling me to “have a good run” and give me supportive kisses as I head out on my long weekend runs. They are genuinely interested in how my runs go and always want a recap when I return.
  2. Awesome friends – Not all of my friends are runners.  It is hard to explain to them why I am MIA on the weekends. But, I never hear them complain if I have to miss a coffee or lunch date.  My friends that are runners already know, so they usually text me and say, “When are you running Saturday?” and then make plans with me around that. My friends are super awesome that way.
  3. Training partners – There are days when I am dreading a long run on my own. Those are the days I put a shout out to my Moms Run This Town running tribe to find some ladies who wants to run as far as I do but don’t want to go it alone either.  It always energizes me to show up for a run and see a smiling face (or more) ready to go the distance with me!
  4. Letting some of “the things” go – During training times, I will admit I let things go that I normally would not. This means, laundry isn’t always washed and put away the same day. Dust settles for longer periods of time. But, I do my best to prioritize and make sure I spend time with the people I love.  In the end, life is about the experiences and not “the things”, so I do my best not to stress about those.

Again, these are all “secrets” that apply to my situation.  I am sure there are mother runners out there that would add other things that work for them.  All of those things being said, I am hoping they help to make my spring season go out like a lamb–soft, gentle, and sweet!

Pre-race selfies with other mother runners.
Training buddies keep me motivated!

If you have considered signing up for the Derby Festival Marathon or Minimarathon – here is a sign you need to do it now!  From now until April 17th, you may use the code KDF2017VIP and receive $10 OFF your race registration! (Of course, you can also choose me, Stephanie Boyd, as your race ambassador during registration, as a way to say “This is awesome”!)

Don’t delay and register at derbyfestivalmarathon.com today! If you have any questions about the race or race day, please feel free to comment below or email me bluegrassbamr@gmail.com – See you at the Start Line on April 29th!

 

 

Run the Bluegrass: What “eating hills for breakfast” actually tastes like.

Billed as the “America’s Prettiest Half-Marathon”, Run the Bluegrass is held in Lexington, Kentucky every spring.  And, while the scenery is gorgeous (think famous horse farms, green grass for miles, and fields of lavender that meet the sunrise), many come to this race for the hills.  This race has been on my list for awhile, and after prodding from The Running Wife, I decided to register for the 2017 race.

I admit, I went about the whole process a bit backwards. I registered one day and then started researching more about it the next. Most every blog post and race review I found about the race talked about the expo, parking, swag, but mostly the hills.  How could a half marathon be this hilly? This isn’t San Francisco we are talking about, it is Lexington–a beautiful city full of gentle, rolling hills, right?  After discussing the race with some running friends who also signed up this year, we all stated “Hills? We eat hills for breakfast!”.  And we laughed, and I tried to stop worrying about elevation change for awhile.

Fast forward to race day.  {I will spare you with the expo talk- just go and walk through the expo-you will meet lots of friendly vendors and pick up some sweet bourbon swag. The race website has everything you need to know about the this, pre-race day activities, the kids race and more so check it out!}  My running friends and I poured into Keeneland excited about the weather and photo ops. We had forty–something-degree weather with no rain and race day was looking good.  Waves were released one at a time, and while we were a bit crowded getting out of the gate, by half a mile in we started to thin out and get comfortable.

This year I ran with a friend I had not raced with before. We both agreed we would run together, stop to take photos, and be a “running tourist” – it was her first time to the area and there was a lot to see!  We started out at a steady pace, but the hills started right away.  And they never stopped.  A small decline was greatly welcomed after the inclines, but I do not ever remember seeing flat parts to this course.  Mile 6 was a test; we weren’t smiling as much and working harder than we had the first few miles.  We stopped to take a few photos, but soon realized starting was hard again after stopping on hills!  And all of the sudden, I never, ever wanted to eat hills for breakfast ever again.  Afterwards, I told a friend the hills reminded me of contractions during labor. They came in waves, they were enough to make the strongest woman nauseous, and sometimes all you could do was hold on and hope they passed quickly!  The finish line came and my friend and I were both happy to cross together-she even half marathon PR’ed on this course, which I think is an amazing feat on a course like this one.

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I believe someone told me in total there are 33 hills in this race. I did not try to count them during the race; in retrospect that would have been a daunting task!  But I did take note of the number of beautiful landscapes and smiling faces I saw as I ran 13.1 miles that morning.  I highly recommend that runners take on this race at least once-not for the swag or the after-party, but for the hills.  And, just a word of caution: don’t eat hills for breakfast on race morning; you are going to get plenty of them later out on the course.

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Total elevation gain on my Garmin read 879 ft.

Countdown to the #KDFMarathon!

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I can’t believe I am in the final weeks of training for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon!  The event holds a special place in my heart for several reasons, including that the mini was my very first half marathon. This year will be my second year running the full marathon. After running the race last year, I decided to apply to become a 2017 KDF Marathon Ambassador on a whim.  I never thought that I would be selected as an ambassador.  I wasn’t an “elite” athlete, I had only run a marathon once, and well, I just didn’t think I would fit the mold.  But my running friends encouraged me to submit an application and fast forward almost a year later–here I am preparing to run the marathon as an ambassador!

My role as an ambassador is to assist in getting this race opportunity out in front of as many people as possible and encourage them to register.  But, the best part is meeting so many great people and supporting them during their training leading up to race day! I answer questions about training runs, race day prep and of course, the race itself.  I am always proud to say I am from this area and that I’ve run the mini/full several times when I talk to people about the experience.  Also exciting is that I get to participate in training runs with fellow ambassadors and people who have registered for the race and chosen me as an ambassador.  I have met so many amazing runners, triathletes, and women who want to run this race {again}!

I will certainly be sad when this race is over because my tenure as an ambassador will end. But, the friends I have made and the knowledge I have gained will stay with me for much longer.  I highly recommend if you are running the race this year to reach out to any of the ambassadors with questions-if we don’t have the answer, we will find it for you!

Here are just some of the reasons why this race is unique (and why you should run with us):

  • The cap for this race is 18,000 runners.  This makes for an exciting atmosphere on race day with plenty of crowd participation when there is fair weather.
  • It is a Boston Qualifier race! The course is fairly flat and fast (details here).
  • The course takes you through historic old Louisville, University of Louisville and Sullivan University campuses, as well as our beautiful park systems.  I promise, you will see some sights on this course!
  • You get to run through the infield of Churchill Downs-not many racers can say that about their race experiences!
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2017 KDF Marathon Ambassadors

If you want information about the #KDFMarathon, please click here.

You can register for the full marathon, minimarathon, or relay here.   (Don’t forget to choose me, Stephanie Boyd, as your ambassador during sign up!)

Registration prices will increase again on 4/1/17, so don’t delay! From time to time, I do have registration discount codes available to use; follow me on Instagram to see those discounts as they occur! 

Happy Training! I hope to see you at the KDF Start Line on April 29th.

For the love of running,

BluegrassBAMR

 

 

 

 

When Lexington & Louisville BAMRs collide!

When The Running Wife offers to come to Louisville and run with the Louisville MRTT/SRTT group, we lace up! Check out her story here. It was great meeting both Ashleigh and Pam-hope we see them back in Louisville soon! 

Yes, I’m an extrovert. Yes, I’m a runner. But two years ago, I would have NEVER driven to Louisville to run with a bunch of awesome women runners that I’ve never met for a long run. I would have been scared of the pace, the people and the results. Fast forward to yesterday, I had […]

via Crossing a bridge, group runs!  — The Running Wife

I Run 4 Jessica

I started this running journey in 2013 with my first timed 5K. After that, I joined a women’s running club and started signing up for more races! When I decided to run  my first full marathon, I also decided to fill out an application to become a runner for the Irun4 non-profit organization.  This organization pairs runners with children and adults that have physical, mental, and developmental special-needs.  I knew that I wanted my running to have a purpose. I Run 4 Michael seemed to be a great fit to help me stay motivated and have someone to dedicate miles to that could not run for themselves.

After months of waiting, I was finally paired with my running buddy! Her name is Jessica and she is a young woman who has lived with the diagnosis of Rett Syndrome. Essentially, Rett Syndrome is a neurological disorder that is diagnosed in infancy, most of the time in females.  In Jessica’s case,  she is not able to walk or talk and depends on her parents for her activities of daily living.  But, she is more than just a young lady with a diagnosis.  She is a girl who loves to ride on ATVs, loves animals and enjoys watching video games.  Her mom loves to take photos of her and she is the jewel or her parents’ eyes.  Jessica is my inspiration and motivation for my races, but in particular she helped me train and cross the finish line of my first marathon and for that I am forever grateful to her.

Every training mile and every mile I run is dedicated to Jessica. I even “wear” her with me on every race—she is on my running bib!  She is always there, pushing me on when I am tired and may not want to keep going.  It is rewarding to know I have someone in my corner to cheer me on AND proudly wear the medals we run together to earn.

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The bib I wear in all of my races!
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Jessica proudly wearing her first #KDFMarathon Medal

This is it! I went and did it! I started my blog. This is something I have been considering for a few years, but did not have the focus until now to start.  I hope this blog will serve as  motivation and inspiration for women who want to run or who are currently runners.  When I talk to women about their health and about their fitness goals, often times running comes up in the conversation.  However, these same woman do not always know where to start or how to go about the business of running.  And, many times women may start their running journey without knowledge or support to sustain a certain level of running.  As a member of a women-only running club here in the Louisville area, I see the struggles and successes daily of women on their running journeys. I strive to motivate women in that group and now I am opening up that motivation to women outside the group. I appreciate your support in this endeavor (which means, thanks for reading and sharing my blog)!

Here is to running happy!

BluegrassBAMR

 

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