Detroit Summer 16

Detroit Summer 16

I refuse to be in the doldrums over Kevin’s passing. There is no way he would want me to be all depressed anyway.  My longtime friend from Southfield High School and beyond sent me an invite to her 40th birthday celebration a couple of hours before Kevin passed away.  She wasn’t expecting me to attend because of everything going on, but she wanted to keep me informed.

The weekend of Tajuana’s birthday, I made my way to Detroit with an unannounced stop at my Brother Phil’s house. We went to Coney Island where I introduced Crissa to Coney’s, chili cheese fries and Greek salads.

On Saturday, my friend Maxie took us downtown to Pizza Papalis. Their deep dish is good, but lacked the thickness of Chicago’s Giordano’s.  We rode the People Mover and got off at Woodward so I could check out the new Nike Community Store.  I loved the store layout and friendly service.

Detroit greektown_1468639213542

Kelsie and Crissa outside Pizza Papalis in Greektown, Detroit.


We walked to Campus Martius, and it was refreshing to see young adults playing basketball on the four Nike courts and engaged in sand volleyball.

I haven’t been on the Detroit Riverwalk since the 2013 Auto Show Shuffle. It’s impressive to see all the progress being made downtown.  I didn’t see the new Hockey Town construction, but I did see the cranes from the People Mover.

It was time to switch gears and roll up on Tajuana at her party. It felt so good to see my friend and be amongst all her family and friends.  True friends are hard to find.


Friends 25 years Strong!


On Sunday, Crissa and I drove to the Mt. Olivet Cemetery for a Sunrise Race I found on Running in the USA. They had a 1.5 mile walk, a 5K and a 10K.  Crissa forgot her running shoes (again) and changed from the 5K to the walk.  I chose the 10K because it is my weakest distance.

It was ironic for the only race in the area that weekend to be at a cemetery. I didn’t let it get to me as I recalled running through Cave Hill and Frankfort Cemetery’s.  I ran with a goal to place in my age group.  The weather was in the low 70s, clear skies and low humidity.  The Mt. Olivet Cemetery Sunrise Run benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation

At mile 2 I linked up with a running partner. We held a good pace and he really pushed me through.  He tried to get me to leave him when he took longer stops at the water stations.  I refused to bail on him because we ran in perfect cadence.  I warned him that I do kick at every finish.  It was close to the finish when I sprinted to the line and finished around 30 seconds ahead of him.


I found this beautiful photo of Noah and I online.  Photo Credit:  Brandy Baker, The Detroit News.

I introduced myself to my running buddy and his name was Noah. His wife’s name is Kelsey.  I thanked him for running beside me.


After the race an outreach group called “We Care About 7 Mile” served a nice breakfast.

Results of the 9th Annual Sunrise Run:

1st in my age group with a time of 48:41/ 7:51 pace.

4th place Women’s division.

12th place overall.

I’m glad I got to be around family and friends for the weekend. I was able to link up with my other Brother Jason who hates taking photos, so next time I will have to sneak one.  At least I have my most competitive Words With Friends player back.  I saw my Aunt Mary and visited Corey’s children who were getting ready to take family photos.


Corey Jr, Kelsie, Trinity, and Chloe.


Last stop before hoping on 75 South was a Bread Basket corned beef with some onion rings.


Bread Basket Special


Eat. Run.  Repeat.


Posted in Detroit, family, fitness, health, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Remembering Kevin L. Carter

Kevin Lamor Carter

Kevin l carter obituary kentucky

aka “Chairs” “Pellet” “Frank” depending on how you knew him or where you met him.

6-27-77 Bridgeport, Connecticut


6-28-16 Louisville, Kentucky

 Kevin and I met on Friday, December 4, 1998.  I remember the date so clearly, because I went to Atlanta with my friend Tajuana for Thanksgiving.  We partied so hard that I had to stay in my apartment all week to recuperate. I decided to get out that Friday and hang with my girl Tonya. She told me her friend was coming over and he was bringing a friend. They pulled up in a white Dodge Caravan. I sat behind the passenger and Tonya sat behind the driver, a dude named Jermaine.

Kevin, who introduced himself as “Phrank” asked my name and where I was from. I told him I was a student at Indiana Tech and I was from Detroit. I picked up on his East coast accent right away and was turned on by his swag. I didn’t vibe with the Indiana boys that much being a city girl. Kevin asked me how long I would be in Fort Wayne, and I replied with a Foxy Brown rap lyric from Jay Z’s Paper Chase “Til May down this ____.” In reality I was supposed to finish my Engineering degree in May ’99, but I put off my senior project second semester.

We made our way to the store and when we got back to Tonya’s house, Kevin told us to go inside and he would be there in a minute. It was taking a while, so Tonya and I stood on the porch to see what the problem was. That’s when I saw Jermaine bringing a wheelchair around to the passenger side. I got all dramatic and was like, “Girl what happened to him? Why is he in a wheelchair? Is he in a gang?” Tonya was like, “I don’t know, I don’t know,” in her Southern accent.

Jermaine pulled Kevin up the steps and we all sat around and talked and had drinks. Some other people stopped by, and we partied like normal college kids. Kevin did what most Indiana corn balls were lacking. He asked me on a date. We made plans for dinner and a movie. It turned out the van was his. I was nervous about who was going to drive and how independent he was. None of that was an issue. Kevin refused to use hand controls and drove with a t-ball bat instead. To this day, he is one of the safest drivers I know. We ate at Applebee’s and I don’t recall the movie we saw.

From that point, it was on and poppin’. I called my Mom and told her I was not coming home for Christmas Break. Kevin took me to his hometown of Bridgeport, CT where I met his father’s side of the family. Of course, we went to New York and I was blown away by the City.

Kevin carter bridgeport ct

Harlem and Manhattan

Kevin lived with his mother, Pearlie, her husband, his younger siblings, and nieces and nephews. His older sister Janice was murdered in 1995 in Fort Wayne, so his mom was raising her children. Kevin went to Janice’s funeral in ’95 and it was 2-3 weeks later that he suffered a spinal cord injury which gave him a T-6 paralysis. He was only 16 and a 6 foot 5 basketball star at his high school. Kevin would often point out UConn players on TV who he played against.

Complications from being bedridden and depressed made him develop blood clots. His legs were amputated above the knee. He told me it was easier for him to lose the dead weight. The next issue became the muscle spasms. His legs would spasm so badly that they would cross over. I remember pushing down on his legs to try and keep them flat. On those tender spots is where he developed skin ulcers.

Kevin and I moved into together the summer of 1999. Our apartment was laid because he and I both have good taste in fashion and style period. Kevin had numerous surgeries to skin graft bed sores and treat infections. Kevin was still in good spirits. He loved video games, music, good food, movies and going to Detroit for corned beef and Bridgeport for pizza.

Kelsie smoot 1999

Kelsie Summer ’99 East Central Towers, Fort Wayne, IN

I finally graduated in May 2000. Kevin and I lived in Fort Wayne until September 2001. We both felt like we had outgrown the city and it was time to move on. I went back home trying to figure my life out, and Kevin moved back to Bridgeport, CT. Distance could not keep us apart and before I knew it, I called myself moving to Bridgeport. It was right after 9/11 and I remember driving through NYC and seeing missing people flyers all over the place. The smell of flesh was in the air from the 9/11 attacks.

Kelsie Smoot fort wayne indiana

Photo taken by Kevin as he was recovering from a surgery in a rehab center in Fort Wayne, IN.

Winter came and no engineering companies were responding to my resume. I drove back to Detroit. At the same time, Kevin’s mom Pearlie and her husband left Fort Wayne, moved to Indianapolis, and finally settled in Louisville. Kevin and I would meet up in Louisville quite often. I experienced my first Kentucky Derby cruising in 2002. I went back to Detroit telling everyone how live Louisville was. It was pretty wild back then before police started shutting down Broadway.

Kevin l carter indiana 2004

Holiday World Wave Pool in Santa Claus, Indiana, Kirk (Willie), Janai, Kelsie, Kevin. 

Sadly, Kevin’s mom passed away on Memorial Day 2002 and he was crushed. He flew into Detroit and we drove down to Louisville together. Kevin was so broken and until his dying day he took her birthday, Memorial Day and Mother’s Day very hard. I was extra sensitive to him around those days. This past Memorial Day is when we went for rides on the Can Ams. It lifted his spirit.

Kevin carter kelsie carter kentucky


We both took time to learn ourselves a few years after Pearlie’s sudden passing. Those 20’s can be something else! Kevin and I went through a lot, but always found a way back to each other. His health was pretty stable besides a dehydration or minor infection bout which would put him on IVs for a few days.

After I completed my Master’s Degree in Education, I relocated to Louisville with Kevin. I picked out a gorgeous halo set diamond from Shane Co. Our plan was to get married on 7-7-7. The day came and went and we looked at each other like “you didn’t plan anything and I didn’t either.” We talked about getting hitched in Hawaii and I was like why spend all that money. Both of our families and friends are all over the U.S. and buying a home was more important.

My name became Kelsie Carter on November 24, 2007 in a Justice of Peace ceremony at our apartment’s clubhouse at Blankenbaker Crossing. I wore a non-traditional dress with a white fox fur. Less than 6 months later we purchased a home in PRP and were living the dream.

Kevin and kelsie carter louisville 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Carter in 2008

Next up was babies. Kevin got some news that was hard to swallow, but we still decided to move forward with in vitro fertilization. We did two rounds which both failed. It was a major let down for both of us. Things began falling apart with our marriage. We separated in 2009 and divorced in 2010.

Kevin carter louisville ky ichiban

Kevin outside of his other favorite restaurant Ichiban.

I covered up his Kevin tattoo on my wrist with some flowers and kept the K. As I type this, I glanced to see the “evin” which I’m now glad was not completely covered. Everyone thought I was going to move back to Detroit and he would go back to Connecticut. They had us messed up. We love the warmer weather and quality of life in Kentucky. We both bloomed where we were planted and he ventured towards the Lexington and Richmond area.

Kevin carter kelsie tattoo

Last summer, Kevin told me to write my name on a sheet of paper.  A of couple days later my signature was tatted under a Queen Chess Piece. 

I deactivated my Facebook and got into running seriously. I also became a therapeutic foster parent. I was tracking workouts on Daily mile, and Kevin would try to comment on my posts. I was deleting them and blocking him as I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2013. I was still dealing with some anger of our divorce.

I had to make sure my mind was right before I hooked back up with Kevin. My Mom and I went to a Colts vs. Bengals game on October 19, 2014. I made a blog post and low and behold Kevin made a comment. Being the site administrator I was able to see his URL and email info. I decided it would be best to contact him privately before we interacted publicly.

I poured my heart out to Kevin and told him all was forgiven. I gave a stern warning to not post anything crazy on my blog. Kevin emailed back thanking me for making him the man he was and apologizing for his wrongs. The topper was the fact that Kevin Carter was at Lucas Oil Stadium for the same game and saw me and my Mom! He was too nervous to approach me.

We left the correspondence at that and he gave me a hard time about reppin’ the Bengals because I was a Colts fan with him. I do confess I always wished they loss after we broke up.

I reached out to Kevin when my nephew, Lil’ Jay was murdered in Killeen, TX. Kevin knows my entire family and how close we are. He was hurt at the news of this tragedy. Up until this point Kevin and I only communicated via email and maybe a text. The day of Lil’ Jay’s funeral Kevin and I talked for 5 hours straight getting caught up. He took me to our favorite restaurant, Ruth’s Chris after I got back to Louisville. He came fresh to def with his Ralph Lauren and Polo Black cologne to match. That boy hadn’t missed a beat.

For the next year and a half, we grew to become Best Friends. We did a lot of traveling. He was the behind the scenes guy. He knows how protective I am over content. This is my legacy, and I don’t let just anybody get a photo, let alone a name mentioned up in here.

Kevin was flattered to see his photos on my blog. Even when he would get on my nerves, I never had the urge to delete any of his content. Kevin is my family whenever anybody gets done with it.

Kevin Carter gatlingburg tn

Anyone who knew Kevin recognized that he made a huge to-do about his birthday every year. He celebrated the entire month of June. I knew not to ask him for anything during that time. For 2016, Kevin and his friend Steve were planning on hauling their bikes up to Bridgeport for a week or two. Kevin was so excited about going home to see his family.

Kevin Carter True Friends

Tez, Steve, and Chairs.  The realest of the real.

At the same time I was noticing that Kevin was looking very thin. He was in the hospital a couple months ago for what he told me was dehydration. He did mention having kidney disease, and I told him he could have one of mine if it came down to it.


On June 3rd, LeeAnna and I met him in Lexington for lunch at BD’s Mongolian Grill. Kevin had a meaningful conversation with the both of us. We sat and talked for three hours and ended up tipping twice due to shift change. I noticed that Kevin only ate a few bites of food. Being the gentleman he is, he followed me to the gas station and filled up my car before LeeAnna and I drove back to the Ville.

Kevin carter richmond ky

Kevin settled for the Charger R/T after wanting a Camaro which I told him was not practical for the wheelchair storage.

Something that stood out to me in the last few weeks is how complimentary Kevin had been towards me. He told me on several occasions how proud he was of me as a foster parent and new homeowner. He showed major love as a friend.

Kevin lamor carter louisville ky

Kevin Carter living life to the fullest.

Kevin called me on Thursday, June 9th with a weak voice saying he was going to the hospital in an ambulance. I asked was there anything he needed me to do. He had given me a key to his place back in January, so it was nothing for me to make sure his things were in order. I told Kevin to call and let me know what the doctors said. He was just at his family physician the day before complaining of loss of appetite and severe back pain.

I woke up the morning of the Muhammad Ali funeral service and I did not have any calls or texts from Kevin. At 6:20 a.m. I asked how he was feeling. He replied back “better” that evening when I had made it up to Milwaukee. I didn’t hear from Kevin the entire weekend which wasn’t that odd due to him not feeling well.

That Sunday is when the ICU nurse dropped a bomb on me that Kevin was very sick. I was at his side the next morning. The doctor explained he had severe blood infection that the strongest antibiotic was not helping. There was issues with his intestines, and his red blood cell count was dangerously low. The doctor asked was he having difficulty breathing and he said yes. She made the decision to place him on a ventilator. I was worried and nauseated by the prognosis. I’ve been with him through several surgeries and even wearing a protective suit to see him, but a ventilator? Nah, this was all new. I wanted to pass out in that ICU room but I couldn’t let him see me break. I did start to tear up a little and he told me “don’t start that @$#%.” Like a little kid, I got my act together real quick.

Kevin told me he loved me four times and kissed me on the lips. I was kicked out the room as they went to sedate him and hook up to the vent. All this happened Monday, June 13. Kevin endured two rounds of dialysis that week, and it helped his kidney function a little better. The surgeon saw the problem with his intestines through a dye test, but Kevin would not have survived the procedure.

They took Kevin off the propofol and he was more alert, although he could not talk being hooked up to the vent. He gave me a high five when I told him about the Gold Jacket 5k and how I got won 1st place overall female for him. He kept touching the ring medal. I wanted to leave it with him, but I was afraid it would get misplaced.

I didn’t visit him directly on his birthday, Monday June 27th. He had a room full of people and I knew he needed some rest. Instead, I sent some texts to his friend Tez who let Kevin read them.

I went to see Kevin on Tuesday afternoon and I saw a drastic change from two days prior. I could look into his eyes and see that he was tired. Kevin had fought all he could. He was in pain. I later learned from a nurse associate from my old job, that Kevin refused treatment that morning. He refused to have a tracheostomy. Kevin made the decision to be off of everything. It was all in his favor. He made the choices himself.

I didn’t know those were Kevin’s decisions when word got to me that they were pulling the plug about an hour after I had left the hospital. I was hysterical thinking someone else was making those decisions, but that wasn’t the case. I told Kevin’s friend that he wasn’t going to make it through the night.

Around 9:30 p.m. I was feeling antsy. My foster daughters joined me for a late night walk. I was breaking down knowing that the end was near. I started to go back up there, however, I didn’t not want to remember Kevin dying. I wanted to remember our positive interactions with one another. His friend who was delivering the text messages for me called and said he had just left the room. I was talking to Tez when he got the text that said “He’s Gone.”

I sat on my deck and looked up and the starry heavens and told my baby goodbye. Kevin suffered through so much trauma, yet and still he hardly ever complained and lived his life to the fullest. Kevin Lamor Carter taught me how to love myself, how to be kind to others and the true meaning of patience. There will always be a place in my heart for my ultimate soul mate. His memory and legacy live on through my actions in this world and the actions of those who he touched. Whether you were his nurse, waitress, friend or family, he treated everyone the same.

Kevin chairs carter

Collage by Steve

Kevin had a low tolerance for slackers. He would get on you for not living to your potential and gaining the most out of life. His smile was infectious. Kevin loved to eat good so there was no going hungry around him. When we reconnected last year one of the first things he told me was he needed to fatten me up. With running I am not able to hold weight like those thick days that he liked. Kevin fattened me up with love, friendship, loyalty and life.


Vegas Helicopter Ride with landing in the Grand Canyon Birthday gift to Kevin.

I love you ALWAYS Kevin Carter! You mentioned in those emails we exchanged about “love is love from this lifetime to the next.” I cherish those words because I know we shall meet again. You sent me a sign the other night that you are OK and you were checking on me. Although you are gone in the physical, your spirit lives forever in our hearts!

Kevin and Kelsie Carter

Kevin and Kelsie Kentucky Oaks 2015

(I thought this was going to be a teary eyed blog post and surprising I was able to tackle it with dry eyes. Let me be a witness for any and everyone who has lost a loved one that you must stay strong and lean on God, friends and family for support. Birth and death are cycles of life. The hardest part for me is knowing what Kevin is doing in heaven. I’m not in a rush to find out as I know God is still working on me. My engineering mind is curious to know all the answers. I can’t help it. J)

Kevin Carter Richmond Kentucky

Rest in Heaven My Love,

Kelsie Louise Smoot

Posted in family, Indiana, Lexington, Louisville, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket 5k

Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket 5K Recap

Columbus, Ohio


This Race is dedicated to Kevin Carter

I heard about the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket 5K from my weekly email. The name and location of Columbus, OH caught my eye.  I went on and saw how awesome the medal was, and penciled the race on my calendar.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been going through some difficult times with my Best Friend fighting for his life in ICU. I was nervous about leaving Louisville and his condition worsening.  My gut told me to go ahead and run a race I was really looking forward to.

Besides faith and prayer, running has been my escape from the stress. No days off in the heat and humidity just to give my mind positive energy to deal with the challenges coming from different directions.  I made my mind up to be happy regardless of the chaos.

My oldest foster daughter was away with her Mom for the weekend, so it was just LeeAnna and I on a quick road trip to Columbus, OH. We stopped in Hebron, KY for the Gap distribution Center and followed 71 N all the way to Second Sole in Gahanna for packet pick up.

Gold jacket 5k shirt

Gold Jacket 5k t-shirt


The medals and age group awards were on display. I was pleased with the black and gold shirt and design.  After we checked into the hotel we stepped out for pizza at Taranto’s.  The service and pizza were both amazing.

LeeAnna and I laughed all evening as I tried to finish up my Rock ‘n Sole recap. I got a call that my Best Friend was doing much better and able to communicate with simple gestures.

The race started at 8am from the Second Sole location. It was sunny and 74 degrees.  The course was down and out with a water stop at the half way point.  We ran along N Hamilton Road at the start.  LeeAnna was by my side, and there was a young lady who passed us.  She was running at a nice pace.  There were about 6 men ahead of us.

As we turned into the subdivision off Beecher Road, I passed a young man and I noticed the first woman was losing her pace. We turned into the campus of Columbus Academy.  This must be a very prestigious school.  A half day of Pre-K is 10 grand and high school tuition is 22K.  I was happy to be in a shaded area as I ran tangents on the curves.  It was on one of those tangents where I took the lead for 1st place overall female.

I told myself not to celebrate anything yet. The humidity was kicking my butt and I never underestimate the ability of others.  I didn’t know who was behind me, and I wouldn’t dare turn to look.  I would peep the competition at the turn around.

There was a group of 3 men running together, and I was a few strides behind them. At the turn around I saw another woman who was about 20 seconds behind and the #3 and #4 women.  Near mile 2, I spotted L and she yelled my name.  I gave her a thumbs up as I passed another man.  I knew I was holding a serious pace because I couldn’t hear any breathing behind me.

I told myself “Go!”

Coming out the subdivision and back onto Hamilton Rd, there was a slight incline. Hill repeats from spring marathon training gave me the confidence to power up and over.  There was a straight shot to Second Sole.  I was on the heels of the 3 guys and one of them took off so I wouldn’t pass him.  No other woman caught up to me, and I finished 1st place woman overall.

I stood along the course to chat with runners who traveled from nearby states for the medal. I spotted LeeAnna and yelled her name.  She got into beast mode as I coached her to the finish.

Awards were announced at 9:05 and she was elated to win 3rd place in her age group.

Gold jacket 5k age group award

LeeAnna 3rd place 14 and Under



This is where it gets tricky. The online results listed my time at 20:09.  I believe this is a minute faster because my Garmin registered 21:09 which is 10 seconds away from my 5K personal record.  I was 5th place overall out of 187 runners.

Kelsie Smoot Gold Jacket 5k

Betcha can’t do it like us…NOPE!


We drove back after a hearty meal at IHOP and went straight to the hospital to show off our bling. Kevin gave us high 5s.  I am so glad I followed my heart to do this race for both me and LeeAnna.  This was her first experience hearing her name called for a running award.  If I let worry consume me to stay in Louisville, I would have missed my blessing.  This serves as a reminder that I am on the right track in life and doing right by those I love, especially Kevin.



Posted in columbus, OH, family, fitness, football, health, mothers, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole

Rock ‘n Sole Half Marathon Recap

June 11, 2016

Spontaneous Summer Travel:

My brother is living the bachelor lifestyle in Milwaukee, WI as a transportation manager in his post Army career. I thought it would be a good idea for my two Foster Daughters and I to raid his bathroom counter space with girlie toiletries and leave overwhelming scents of Victoria’s Secret sprays all over his bachelor pad.

You all know me. to the rescue for an out of town race.  I discovered the Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Races consisting of a 5K, Quarter Marathon and Half Marathon.  Summerfest is a concert series in Milwaukee that has over 800 bands on 11 stages, over 2 weeks.

There was no question that I would register the girls for the 5K. I decided at the last minute to run the half marathon and gave myself about 10 days to max out at 10 miles as a brief training.  With school being out and not really having a race schedule, my max mileage has only been 6 miles.

I Am Ali:

We took our time leaving so we could see Muhammad Ali’s funeral procession. There was no way I was leaving Louisville without experiencing a major part of history.  C went ballistic when she saw Will Smith.  I must admit, Jada’s husband does have a million dollar smile.

Muhammad ali funeral procession

Muhammad Ali Funeral Procession 6-10-16


Rock ‘n Sole Expo:

We made it to Milwaukee in about 6.5 hours due to traffic and construction. We met Brad at his job for keys to his place and went to the Italian Community Center for the Race Expo.  It was easy to find with free parking.  The area was busy because the Pride Festival was taking place in the same vicinity.

Rock n sole half marathon swag

Rock ‘n Sole Half Marathon Swag


The half marathoners received gender specific tech shirts, and the 5K participants received cotton shirts. BMO Harris Bank is a major sponsor and they gave out free socks.  The usual vendors were there with gels, headbands, shoes, and gear.  Carmex was generous with samples along with Silk Yogurt.  We passed on the food samples, because I had dinner picked out at AJ Bombers.  At this point C realized she forgot her running shoes and would be doing her race in some Jordans.

Downtown Milwaukee:

AJ Bombers is the Travel Channel’s Food Wars winner for the Milwaukee Burger. We ordered cheese curds as an appetizer.  I would describe them as lightly battered cheese nuggets.  They were served with a chipotle sauce and the table got real quiet, meaning they were good!

AJ Bombers Milwaukee

AJ Bombers Cheese Curds, Milwaukee Burger and Custard.


We tried the Milwaukee burgers with fries and tots on the side. I could have eaten two, but I didn’t want to regret it the next day. We ordered custard to-go as we strolled along the Milwaukee River walk.

milwaukee river walk

Milwaukee River Walk


5K and Half Marathon Start:

The race director sent an email the night before stating there would be a one day heat wave with a chance of thunderstorms. This was not a day to push for a PR. The temperature was 72 ̊ with high humidity.  I noticed a majority of the half marathoners were not wearing hydration belts.  Even with 10 water and Gatorade stops along the course, I have to have my own fluids to consume as needed.

Rock 'n sole half marathon start

Rock ‘n Sole Quarter Marathon and Half Marathon Start


Rock ‘n Sole Half Marathon Course:

We took off onto 1st Street and I remembered seeing the temperature go up from 72 ̊ to 73 ̊ on a tower.  The saving grace was the overcast skies.  The field was crowded and finally thinned out as we looped Lincoln Ave and ran up the ramp to I-794.

Rock 'n sole course photo

Rock ‘n Sole Ramp Onto I-794

Rock 'n sole half marathon course mile 3

Rock ‘n Sole Yellow Flag Warning at Mile 3


I stayed to the right as I ran along the interstate. I knew I would be taking a ton of photos, and I did not want to interfere with the safety of others.  I spotted a runner who was barefoot and thought how brave he is for running on that hot concrete.  I know his feet have to feel like leather.  I can’t have all that going on.  My bunions are bad enough.


Rock 'n sole half marathon i 794

Minimalist Running


The views of Lake Michigan were therapeutic. I stopped for a photo at Hoan Bridge.  It wasn’t until after the race that I saw the official camera guy in the background.  Oops.  I messed up his photo.  I took another selfie as I crossed the bridge to show the elevation change.

We made it back the Henry Maier Festival Park where there was a split for the Half and Quarter Marathons. There was a decent amount of crowd support.  I asked someone what this building was and they told me the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The design reminded me of a stingray.

Lincoln Memorial Drive was very scenic and I thought how the girls should be finished with their 5K by now. I told them to refuel and find a shady area to wait for me.  I wanted to finish under 2 hours even with all the pausing to take pictures.

One of my favorite course entertainments was a saxophonist at the Veterans Park. He was jammin’.

We followed along a residential area with motivational signs. Next up was the North Point Light House.

The route followed along Lake Park Golf Course, and finally we made the loop back towards Lake Michigan between miles 8 and 9. I remember there being a downhill section and I turned it up a notch.

We ran pass Bradford Beach and no one was out, but later that evening all the beaches were on Jam! It was so crowded that we could not find a place to park, and Brad was being all cautious with his new, pearl white Cadillac.

Anyway, the clouds were clearing and I came across the best stop along the course: Wet Towels.  I ran with that towel a few minutes as I cleaned the sweat off my body.  It was very refreshing, and I could feel a slight breeze from the lake.

At mile 12, I saw a man passed out and getting oxygen. It was a scary sight and a reminder of how treacherous the conditions had become.  I later found out that the official stopped timing the race at 2:18 due to the heat.

I killed it on that last mile because I knew there was a chance for me to finish under 2:00. I heard the girls yelling my name as I neared the finish line.  I grabbed some water and the potato chips were on point from all the salt I loss.

Rock ‘n Sole Finish Festival:

The half marathon distance is my favorite because I put in work, and I can carry on with my day as usual. The Rock ‘n Sole post-race was the best one I have experienced.  There was plenty of food, freebies, and photo set ups.  A tent was set up to get official times.  Voila!  I made my goal by 2 seconds!!

Rock n sole half marathon medal

Participants in all races received the same medal but in different sizes.


I finished 632/1,344 Overall.

229/615 Woman’s Division.

31/79 in Age Division.

I negative split on the final 5k.

Spending time with Brad:

Brad wanted to take us to dinner at his favorite Mexican spot. His buddy from the army joined us with his family at El Fuego.  Being complete opposites with politics, music, and lifestyle makes for some interesting conversation.  We both think the other has “problems.”  He even called my parents to tell them about me.  It’s all love though.

El fuego milwaukee wi_1467080452978

On Sunday, we took in a Brewers vs. Mets game. We about froze our butts off with a 30 degree temperature drop.  It was a good thing I snagged some deals at the outlets on fall gear.  It would have been nice if the weather was flip flopped for the race and the game.

2 for 1:

Brad wanted to take us to an Italian spot after the Brewers game, but I thought it would be nice to have dinner in Chicago on the way back to Louisville. As a foster parent, I am all about exposure to help my kids feel comfortable in certain life situations and have experience from different cultures.

I told C and L that they would taste some real Chicago style deep dish pizza. Not that hot and ready stuff.  We parked at Navy Pier and went straight to Giordano’s.  The wait was an hour, so we ordered then walked along the pier.

My Mother called being such a Mom asking what time we were leaving and concerned about me driving from Chicago so late. I told her I was living the life and it wasn’t like I had to go to work on Monday!  She had great news that she and my Dad finally closed a deal on a house in Florida!

Before I jumped on 94 I had to pull up on one of my homies Nixon, who I call Deep Dish. He’s a former co-worker of mine living his dream as a writer and film producer.

Life Changing News:

By the time I reached Gary, IN, I received a phone call asking for Kelsie Carter. I knew right away that it had something to do with my Ex Husband.  He was in ICU fighting for his life with various complications related to his injuries sustained as a teenager.  I was able to talk to him for 2 hours until he fell asleep on the phone.

After a short nap I was at the hospital before they made the decision to sedate him and put on a vent. This is why it has taken me so long to recap my Milwaukee Trip.  My last post was “Summer off to a Great Start,” but that phone call changed everything.  Although we are no longer married, we have grown to be Best Friends to the point I don’t like the label Ex Wife or Ex Husband because people assume we should be at odds.  We do more for each other now than we did when we were married, and unfortunately some people are jealous of our bond.  These last two weeks have been some of the worse of my life.

I must say that faith in God, running, my foster kids, family, friends, and at times being still have helped me deal with the void of not having my best friend to talk to because he is on a ventilator. This time last year, we were on a freakin’ helicopter in Vegas, poppin’ bottles in the Grand Canyon.  With life, you just never know.

Like my friend Gaines told me, I have run too many miles to be defeated.

Love Is Love

Kelsie Lou

Posted in Chicago, family, food, half marathon, health, Milwaukee, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer Off To A Great Start!

My youngest brother Brad came in town from Milwaukee, WI to spend time with the family.  I made everyone tag along with me to Lowes which has become my new spot as I make upgrades and cosmetic changes to my recently purchased home.  I like taking my time in Lowes just in case someone from HGTV jumps out offering a gourmet kitchen or backyard oasis remodel.

The Smoots_1465069949286

Big Phil on standby for that military discount!

Brad took us to Buca Di Beppo where we sat in the best seat in the house located in the kitchen.  We had a great time laughing with the chefs and waiters as they prepared dishes.  Afterwards, I helped my foster daughter with her dog walking job to burn off some calories.

On Memorial Day, I took the girls to the Hike, Bike and Paddle event hosted by Mayor Greg Fischer.  I’ve done the Hike and Bike portions in previous years, but this year I wanted to paddle and hike.

summer 16_1465069948613

First time canoeing in the Ohio River.

Louisville mayor's hike bike paddle_1465069949048

We paddled from the Great Lawn to the Big Four Bridge and back.  We finished just in time to start the 3 mile hike.

I saved the Bike portion for a toy with a little more power than a road bike.  I’ve had my Motorcycle Instructional Permit for a while.  I just need to take the road test to make it official.

can am spyder f3 sport _1465069948884

2015 Can Am Spyder F3 Sport

On June 1st, we celebrated Global Running Day in the Highlands with Fleet Feet Sports Store and Dan from Norton Sports Health.

Global Running Day Fleet Feet

4 miles in 90 degree temps.

I woke up this morning to news that Muhammad Ali passed away.  His legacy gave me that extra motivation to run 10 miles knowing that he also ran on these streets of Louisville.  The girls and I placed balloons and flowers at the Ali Center’s makeshift memorial. I wanted them to experience history in the making as we reflected on his six core principles.

Muhammad Ali Memorial Louisville KY

Remembering Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali Remembered

Honoring “The Greatest” with mental and physical toughness.  Photo taken by Greg Reese with Videos Images Pictures DCC of Cincinnati, OH.

Kelsie Lou

Posted in family, fitness, health, Louisville, running | 4 Comments

Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia

Only 5 days remaining in the school year. My summer break is going to be so lit!

Let's Boogie

Summer sixteen is going to fly by, so I needed to get a jump start as the school year comes to an end.  First on my travel list was a trip to spend time with my 91 year old Grandma in Madison, WV.

She knows I love to run, and I knew she wouldn’t mind if I dipped off to a race.  I found the Poca River Run 15K and the Smart 5.29K Run going on the same day.  My post marathon runs have been less than 5 miles, and I was not willing to jump to 9 miles so soon.  Plus, the Smart 5.29K Run was for a good cause.  All the proceeds go towards children who transition from foster care and need funds for college.

In Kentucky, children who are in foster care for any amount of time automatically receive four free years of college as long as they attend a school in the Commonwealth.  According to the State Treasurer, John Perdue, only 2% of WV foster kids make it to college.

The race was held at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, WV.

The down and back course went through the small warehouse district, up a small incline on Morris Street, and ran parallel to I-64 East.  We passed the University of Charleston and had a perfect view of the gold dome on top of the tallest building in the state which is the WV State Capitol.

Kelsie smoot 5.29k run start_1463704826236

The overall female winner just completed the Boston Marathon.  The overall male winner was #1 in the State for the 1500m.

I was looking forward to the downhill action on Morris Street and making the final turn for the finish line. Off to the left, I saw my Uncle Doug watching and I ran over to give him a high five right before I crossed the finish line.

Kelsie smoot finish line 5.29K_1463704826351

Doug Smoot kelsie smoot_1463704825983

Uncle Doug is known for making the best ribs in the Smoot Family.


I ran the 3.29 miles in just under 24:00 at a 7:10 pace. I earned 1st in my age division of 30-39, 2nd overall Woman and 5th place overall.

Wv state treasure John Perdue kelsie smoot_1463704826146

WV State Treasurer John Perdue

That afternoon, I spent time talking and laughing with my Grandma. I took her to Southridge which is basically a mega strip mall on both sides of Corridor G, pronounced “Quarter G” if you are from that area.

Sunday morning was church service that was more like a mini family reunion. Most people know my name, or simply refer to me as “Phil’s daughter.”  After church I had to say my goodbyes to my Grandma and Uncle Rodney. Goodbyes are always the worst part.  I assured her I would be back again during the summer.

Lucy smoot kelsie smoot_1463704825745

Grandma Lucy Smoot after church.

One day I was watching the Food Network and saw a segment on Hillbilly Hot Dogs. I told myself that the next time I was in WV I would detour to this hot dog stand.  It was easy to access off 64 and Exit 18 around Huntington.  About 6 miles down the road sat this place I saw on T.V.

I ordered the West Virginia Dog.  Putting cole slaw on a hot dog was not new to me because that’s how my Grandma served them when we were kids.  Of course I had to get a side of chili cheese fries.  I signed “Smoot” on an empty spot on the wall and sat at the front of the bus to get my grub on.

Boy oh Boy. This food was slammin’!  Customer service was excellent and I loved the atmosphere.

I’m glad I was able to branch out from the typical “going to Grandma’s house” type of visit.  I learn something new every time I spend time with my Grandma.  She says I am a blessing to her, but I think the exact opposite!

Kelsie Lou

Posted in family, running, Travel, West Virginia | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Kentucky Derby Weekend

The Flying Pig  Marathon took more out of me than I thought.  I wanted to attend both Oaks and Derby races.  My allergies gave me the blues on Oaks Day, and I wasn’t feeling too peppy on Derby either.  On the bright side, I was able to enjoy the Pegasus Parade for the first time this year.

Pegasus parade peggy bank balloon_1462839331873

My foster daughter, her Mom and two of my former Smootents sat in the bleachers along Broadway and Second.  The parade allowed me to see that there really is something for everyone when it comes to Louisville’s largest festival of the year.  The Pegasus Parade kicked off with Louisville’s Finest which included one of my spin instructors from the Y, Jody.

Pegasus parade mayor greg fischer_1462839332809

Mayor Greg Fischer is always in the mix doing great things for the city of Louisville.

I enjoyed seeing television personalities Monte Durham from “Say Yes to the Dress” and Ray J and his girlfriend Princess from “Love and Hip Hop.”

This year’s theme was “Fun for the Arts.”

The inflatables were pretty impressive.  I knew there was drama when several police rode by on bikes up Broadway.  Moments later, news spread about a shooting two blocks away.

I was appalled that two idiots would place people’s lives in danger at a free event to entertain the community.  Having attended parades in larger cities, I was surprised to see how people nonchalantly crossed the parade route in between floats.  The Louisville Male Football team and Damion Lee knew how to have fun and lead by example.

The crowds were happy when the Balloon Fest Winner Van went by.  It was getting a little chilly, and we could feel the heat from the burner on the sidelines.

Another Derby tradition is the making of the Garland of Roses at the Middletown Kroger.  I went late on Derby Eve expecting the crowds to be light.  There was a line out the door.  Kroger gave out rose pedals from Freedom Roses that didn’t make the cut.

Kelsie Lou

Posted in family, Louisville | Tagged | 2 Comments

Flying Pig Marathon Recap

Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon

“Oinked for Life”

May 1, 2016

For 2016 I wanted to follow the same Norton Sports Health training plan that prepared me for a 3:39:51 Boston Qualifying finish at the 2015 Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon. I rarely repeat the same race for longer distances, so I needed to find a race that corresponded with the training timeline.  The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon is always the 1st Sunday in May.  It usually falls on the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby which is always the 1st Saturday in May.

The Flying Pig has been on my radar ever since an enjoyable time at the Queen Bee Half in October.  I would have the advantage of being familiar with parts of the course that are shared by both races.

Here is a recap of my Flying Pig experience:


In February, I asked my Mom to check on comps at one of the Horseshoe Casino’s host hotels.  Thankfully, the same hotel we stayed in for the Queen Bee had rooms available.  I was not registered for the race at this time, but based off experience I know to get the rooms booked early.


Mom and I drove in the rain from Louisville straight to the Duke Energy Center.  Downtown Cincinnati was on jam!  We parked in a lot across the street for $10.  Street parking was scarce and the garages wanted $20 for “Event Parking.”

flying pig marathon shirt poster bag

There were painted pigs on display sort of like the decorative horses around Louisville. The first stop was to bib pickup.  Like most expos, the layout was designed to have you walk through the vendors until you reach the shirt pick up in the back.

flying pig marathon expo (1)Proctor & Gamble is one of the top sponsors and they were very generous with feminine products and laundry detergent samples.  Volunteers were generous with bottled water.

flying pig marathon expo duke energy

I saved about $40 off registration fees by utilizing a discount code courtesy of Melanoma Know More. Their partnership with the Flying Pig sends a portion of registration fees to support their mission.  I stopped by the booth to say “Hello” to the volunteers and they gave me a shirt.

After I found my salty caramel GU packs, I went to the back of the expo for the official race shirt, poster and bag. The poster came in box with a design identical to the cover of the event guide.  The half marathoners were given a 13.1 sticker.  I’m not sure if they received a bag or not.

Something caught my attention and it was a 360 ̊photo booth. In six seconds the cameras captured this matrix like video:


We made it to the hotel and chilled for a moment. The news was broadcasting info about the weekend Pig events.  We caught a shuttle to the Horseshoe for dinner.  I decided to test my luck on a penny machine that had a unicorn on it.  After a few spins, the slot machine went into a bonus round of 36 spins, then I caught a 4x jewel, resulting in a cash out covering my race fees and weekend expenses!

flying marathon weather


Mentally, I was prepared for a total wash out. The only thing I feared was a thunderstorm that would halt the race completely, leaving thousands who have trained with out an event.  It rained on and off all night.  In the morning, there was a steady drizzle that was expected to clear.  I sported a trash bag poncho to the starting line. Race start temperature was about 60 degrees and hit the low 70s by the time I finished.


A challenge with having a race start (Smale Riverfront Park) and end (Yeatmans Cove) in different areas is deciding where to park. Do you want to walk more before the race or after the race?  I thought it would be wise to get a carpool pass at the Expo and park in the Longworth Hall lot.

It was a short walk to the Paul Brown Stadium near the race start.  After the race, there were school buses lined up along Joe Nuxhall Way to drop off at the Longworth Lot and area hotels.  It seemed like the walk took forever because I had to walk to the left of the finish line to retrieve my baggage claim and cross back by the finish area to find the shuttle buses.


Porta potties were in abundance one street over from the starting line. This is what it looked like at 5:30 a.m.  At 6:15, there were lines 10 deep.  I was in line when a lady came by saying there were no lines at the opposite end.  I took off jogging to relieve myself one last time.  I was told there were porta potties in each Corral or Pig Pen as they called them, but I knew those would be packed.

Flying pig marathon race parking gear check

Gear check buses were organized by bib #.  I knew that my cell phone, keys, and extra clothing would be secure and dry.

I found a cushioned seating area in Paul Brown Stadium. The lines for restrooms were very long and I wondered why people were standing in line when there were plenty of facilities outside.  By this time the rain stopped and I had my feet kicked up eating a banana.

Flying pig paul brown stadium pre race

A band was playing and the atmosphere was so hype! I predicted a finish time of 4:00 at registration which placed me in corral D.  The first wave of corrals A-C went off at 6:30.  The next wave moved to the start as Prince’s 1999 blared from the speakers at 6:35.


There were fluid stations at every mile. They were perfectly executed by having green cups of Gatorade first from at least 10-15 hands of volunteers, then another 10-15 hands of volunteers providing white cups of water.  This set up would be very helpful as the rain cleared and the sun blazed.

20160501_064502 - Copy_1462274988134

Taylor-Southgate Bridge.  Elevation in disguise.

The race began downtown, and we crossed to Newport, KY. I saw the Newport Aquarium on the left hand side.  Spectators showed love on the Kentucky side too.  My favorite was a group of ladies outside a retirement home with the cutest signs like “I thought this was Bingo” and “I thought they said 2.62.”

20160501_072723 - Copy

Leaving downtown and getting ready to pass the Horseshoe Casino.

I wanted to document this experience as much as I could through photos. After the half marathon and marathon split at mile 9, I realized with 17 miles to go I needed to focus on my feet and not my hands.

Flying pig half marathon split

Everyone talks about the hills in Eden Park, so I was not expecting the smaller, unexpected elevation changes later in the race. Hill training is a must for Flying Pig!

The rain had completely cleared and I was drenched. I saw Laura from the Not Quite Ready for Prime Time running group in Louisville.  She mentioned how she adjusted her 2:00 half marathon finish time to 2:10 due to the heat.  I was wondering if I needed to do the same for the full marathon.

Wearing a hat made me feel warmer. I was wanting a Bondi Band and shades so bad.  I squeezed one of my French braids and sweat poured.  Fluids, fluids, fluids was my mantra.  One volunteer was insisting I take his water cup and took heed.  I mainly consumed Gatorade for electrolytes and used the water to wash down my Gu packs.

One of the toughest parts of the Flying Pig Marathon course was on Highway 50 West. The sun was over my left shoulder.  There was a Gatorade Energy Chew stop, and it did not settle well in one runner’s stomach.  The smell of vomit was not what I needed at this time.  What I did need were the various motivational posters that were placed in the grass off the interstate shoulder.

I was so happy to get off that highway and get to the home stretch. At this point I was telling myself to make it to Mile 20 and knock out the last 6.2 miles like it was one of my mid-week training runs.  My lower back was aching and my ankles felt like I was being tortured like the movie “Misery.”  I saw more and more runners pulling off to walk.

At mile 22 I took the Layup 4 Lauren Challenge. Volunteers handed out miniature basketballs for runners to take a shot.  I paused to square up my shot and missed.

The last few miles were a mental and physical challenge. I had so many thoughts going through my mind.  I told myself I only had a few more minutes to reach the finish. Spectators felt my struggle and pretty much yelled at me to keep going.  My shorts were rubbing on my thigh and I could feel chafing.


  • Various costumes from spectators.
  • All the kiddos lined up to give high fives. Shout out to the boy who yelled “Girl Power” to me.
  • Bubble machine.
  • I saw more Old English D Tiger hats than Cincinnati Reds Caps.
  • Orange slices were perfect wedges which made it easy to hold and eat while running.
  • Fluid stations were clean and volunteers did great with keeping cups off the course.
  • Running through Hyde Park was live!
  • Mariemont had nice scenery and distinct architecture.


I could not believe how many people were lined up along the finish.  US Bank Arena area was crazy!  It was an overwhelming feeling.  I was so happy.  I wanted to pull out my phone, but I was so focused on hitting that timing mat to mark my completion.  A volunteer came up to ask was I OK.  I told him yes.  He said he would walk with me to make sure.  That was a classy touch on behalf of the race directors.  There was a lot of food at the line my digestive system was shut down.

flying pig finish swine medal marathon manicure


With my laid back approach to pace on this marathon, I am surprised to rank in top 21% overall and top 11% in both the women’s and age divisions. We were all struggling with the heat and humidity.  The best reward was coming out of this without any injuries.  I was recovered in one day besides treatment for chafing.

Official Time: 4:05:03, 9:22 pace

Half Marathon Split: 2:00:17

Overall Place: 822/3793

Women’s Division: 188/1646

Age Division:  29/256

Kelsie Lou

Posted in Cincinnati, fitness, half marathon, health, marathon, running, Travel | Tagged | 7 Comments

Flying Pig Marathon Training Update

The end of Spring Break in Louisville felt like Michigan in January.  I could not believe I was dressing in layers with hand warmers for my longest training run of 22 miles in April.

Kelsie smoot group run seneca park

Norton Sports Health Training Group


I ran with the group who varied between half and full marathoners running anything between 10-22 miles.  The 22 miler required a double loop of the Seneca, Cherokee, Bear Grass Creek parks and trails.  I consumed 3 GUs with water and both of my containers of PowerAde.  I’ve learned that restoring electrolytes goes a long way for energy and recovery.

Kelsie Smoot 22 mile run

Despite the cold and windy weather, I was still soaked. 


I had to run past the turn around to make sure I got in my mileage.  There is an overpass along Spring Street just North of Locust Street that has pigs painted on it.  I thought about the link between Louisville and Cincinnati and the pig butchering business.  I was glad I was not smelling any hogs.

Bourbon Ball Donuts

Hold the pork.  Pass the bourbon ball donuts.  Totally worth the trip at 5 a.m. for a half dozen.  Available for a limited time at Thorntons.

Based on how well I felt after the 22 miler, I decided to go ahead and register for the Flying Pig Marathon.  My hotel has been booked for weeks.  I can always cancel a room, but those race fees go down the drain in most cases if you don’t show.

I have one more day of hill repeat training and the rest is pretty easy compared to how far I have come since January.  I am very grateful to the Norton Sports Health training program!

Kelsie smoot 15 mile run louisville

15 mile training run 3/5/16 from Falls of the Ohio to Southern Parkway.  Photo taken by Dan ( Norton training coordinator)

Lastly, Run the Bluegrass posted free download photos right after my RTB recap.  Here is a shot of me after I crossed the finish line:


Another great feature of Run The Bluegrass is FREE race photos!




Well, that sums up everything for now. Spring Break was rejuvenating.  I am back to being called “Ms. Smoot” from 140 Smootents.  Good news came from the bank to schedule a closing on my house this Friday.  Saturday is looking like a 12 miler and moving at the same dang time, but I got this!


Posted in Cincinnati, half marathon, Louisville, marathon, running | 4 Comments

Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon Recap

Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon has been on my race radar for a few years.  I took a lot of photos and kept mental notes to share with readers how RTB earned the “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon” title.

Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon


The Keeneland Entertainment Center was the location for the RTB Expo. I’ve driven by Keeneland several times, but this was my first time on the grounds.  The area was clean and well-manicured.  The parking is tree covered and the signage looks very classy as it should being a National Historic Landmark.

Keeneland Entertainment Center

Entrance to Run the Bluegrass Race Expo. 

The medals were on display as soon as you walked in the Expo to give your bib number. Volunteers gave out bags with the customized bibs and official race guide.  The first thing that caught my eye was a photo area provided courtesy of Derby City Selfie.  They had several props and backgrounds to choose from.  The photo was printed and accessible digitally via SMS or Social Media.


Every workout is my therapy.

After the photo area, the official RTB merchandise was on display and a bourbon was available with special glasses. I moseyed pass the merchandise and found the Bondi Band table.  It was nice to see some updated phrases and patterns.


My first time in a horse starting gate.

Next, I picked up some Salted Caramel GU and 2 pairs of cushioned Feetures.

The last stop before leaving was to get my light weight hoody. The shirts are unisex and I ordered a size small which fit perfectly.  This is my first race shirt that does not have all the sponsor logos on the back.

Race Start:

Parking was not hard due to arriving an hour before the start. There was a little backup on New Circle to get off at Versailles Road.  There was a heavy police presence to help direct traffic. I turned and parked inside Gate 2.

A serious matter was deciding what to wear. Thankfully, there was no rain in the forecast.  The temperature was calling for 42° with 8 to 15 mph wind chills that would make 42° feel like 35°.  Another factor was the start time being at 9:00 a.m. and the amount of sun before my 2 hour projected finish.  I had 4 outfit combinations in the same color family to make last minute changes drama free.

I almost changed when I saw other runners in shorts. I would not be racing this event due knee flare ups that could prevent me from running 26.2 in 4 weeks. I compromised between tights and a tank.  I used a Hooters race shirt as my throw away layer.

Run the bluegrass starting line keeneland

Run The Bluegrass Starting Line in Keeneland.

The gear check was right behind the starting corrals and that was my last stop after a nervous stop at the porta pottie. My bib number started with a 2 to designate I would be in corral #2.  We were waved off at approximately 9:12.

rtb wave 2 start

Beautiful race morning.



Runners were greeted by our first hill at .4 miles. Based off my photo you can see that the incline is very gradual.

Run the bluegrass first hill mile .4

Gradual incline at .4 mile mark.

run the bluegrass rolling hills

Up, down, and around.

I see horses! There are so many farms we got to run pass that I will not try to remember the names and locations of everything. These horses were off to the left around mile 1-2.

run the bluegrass horse barns

The views were amazing.

There were hydration stations about every 2 miles. Sword was the official RTB drink.  I normally do not try different hydration during races but since this was a training run I wanted to sample.  Sword Hydration is something I will consider training with in the future.  The taste was good and I didn’t experience any side effects.

The course rolled along and I began to think the hills were not that bad. I kept my pace in check for any surprises in elevation.  The scenery was enough to distract me from hill work.  Around mile 4 is when I felt warm enough to ditch my Hooters shirt and gloves in the trash at a hydration stop.

Run the bluegrass mile marker 5

The hills will keep you warm.

Participant notables were a group of Marines on hand cycles. One was visually impaired and being guided by a double amputee athlete.  They showed a great deal of will power to get up and down those hills.

Operation enduring warrior

Operation Enduring Warriors

At the midway point, the sun was starting to beam. For a split second I wanted to have shorts.  There was nothing I could do about it at this point.  I kept snapping pics and I would catch up to people who left me and sometimes pass them as they ran out of juice on the hills.

Mile 9 was approaching and I heard people at the start saying how hard it was. Last year it was dedicated as Meg’s Mile for a runner who was killed by a drunk driver while training with her husband.  There are too many incidents of distracted drivers killing runners that maybe this mile could be a dedication to all of them to raise safety awareness. I sent a Run in Peace prayer up to Meg as I got in formation for RTB’s hardest incline.

Mile 9 run the bluegrass s curve

No worries.

When I looked up, I thought “Oh, this is nothing.” The incline wasn’t even half the elevation I do on my hill repeats.  I just ran 8 repeats plus 2 miles on Tuesday so this was light work.  At the top of the hill was a drum group lead by Tripp Bratton.  Their music was enough to carry me around the curve and hit another hill!  I read a sign that said “started from the bottom now we’re here!”

Between mile 10 and 11 there were about 7 horses running along the fence. I saw a pretty white horse I wanted to get a picture of.  That was my motivation to get up the next hill.

run the bluegrass 10.5 mile horses

I think they enjoyed us just as much as we enjoyed them.

The white horse ran pass me so I decided to take a selfie.  Out of nowhere I felt some warm air over my right shoulder.  This horse snuck up on me so fast and I could not believe how peaceful this encounter was.  When I got back on the course, this horse and a few others ran with me along the fence.  This experience plastered a smile on my face as others complimented me on how good a photo it was.

rtb friendly horse

Posing with horses during a half marathon = priceless.

From that point, I figured less than a 5k so pick up the pace. My knee was not bothering me.  I wanted to empty the tank and slay the last 2 miles.  Plus, the terrain had leveled out.  I thought the hills were over until I hit mile 12.  Really?  I decided to power up this last hill and still finish strong.  I could hear the finish line and the crowds thickened as other racers for the 7 miler and the Yearling were mixed in the course.  I passed a sign that said Final Furlong.  I would have snapped a pic but I was running too fast.

run the bluegrass finish

Finish Area photo taken the day before.  This are was packed with spectators, food, drinks and music.

I was surprised to see so many people at the finish line cheering on finishers. My shorter mid-week runs helped with my finish sprint.  I used visuals from my local route to imagine how close I was to the finish.

A volunteer gave me medal which is the 2nd heaviest of my collection.  I received a goodie bag of snacks.  There were some bananas off to the right and I decided to pass on them when I saw chocolate!!   Whoever came up with this idea is genius!  Turns out they were Bourbon Ball donuts that do not go on sale to the public until Wednesday at Thorntons in Lexington and Louisville.  The 1% chocolate milk was the perfect pairing.  As much as I love pizza, I gave my pizza coupon to a couple along with the beer coupon.

Run the Bluegrass bourbon ball donuts


As I was munching on this confectionary miracle a Veteran came up to thank me for trailblazing the path for him to run his first sub 2:00 half marathon ever! He saw me at mile 11 and followed me to the line and he told himself he had to find me and thank me.  Shout out to Green Cawood who traveled all the way from Arizona to Run the Bluegrass!


Finish time was 1:58:47, 9:04 pace/mile.

Overall place was 688/3263 total finishers.

My overall finish percentile was top 12%.

Female finisher 238/2054.

35-39 Female Age Group 22/365 which placed me at the top 6%.

Times for each segment:

1st 6.55 miles – Time: 1:02:43

1st 6.55 miles – Pace: 9:35

1st 6.55 miles – Rank: 1053 out of 3263

1st 6.55 miles – Gender Place: 419

2nd 6.55 miles – Time: 56:03

2nd 6.55 miles – Pace: 8:33

2nd 6.55 miles – Rank: 395 out of 3263

2nd 6.55 miles – Gender Place 114

My last two miles were 7:58 and 7:35. Looking at the above data from Scott at On The Mark Sports, I passed over 600 runners in the second half with 300 of them being female.


Run the bluegrass finisher

Killed the Hills…and the donut.

Final Thoughts: Run the Bluegrass surpassed its name of “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon.” Race director Eric and his crew did a fantastic job. The hills are not bad if you are properly trained and use correct form.

The following items will allow you to run the course and not let the course run you:

  • Use your arms! I saw too many runners who failed to swing their arms.
  • Do not look down! Look towards the top of the hill to build confidence. Looking down, which shouldn’t been done on any elevation causes runners to internalize. Instead of “I got this” mentality, it is easy to fall into an “I can’t make it” thought process.
  • Hill Repeat Training! My Tuesday hill repeats made this course super enjoyable. I chatted with a lady wearing an Iroquois Hill Runners Turkey Trot shirt and we both agreed that Louisville parks have this course beat in elevation.
  • What goes up must come down! No one mentions the downhill recovery period. I learned how to use those recovery periods in my spin class.
  • See for yourself! One man’s hill is another man’s speed bump.  Here is an elevation comparison:

Run The Bluegrass Course Elevation

Half Marathon #9 in the books!

Run the bluegrass hoodie and finishers medal

Racing with the Legends: Man O’War, War Admiral, and Seabiscuit.

Kelsie Lou

Posted in fitness, half marathon, health, Lexington, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments