10 Half Marathons

I got out all my half marathon medals last night because I can still hardly believe I’ve run 10! I know for some people that is not many, but it was cool to look at all of my medals at once. IMG_7690

1) 2011 Rock ‘n Roll Mardi Gras (last year it was named as such): 2:18

2) 2011 Rock ‘n Roll Dallas: 2:07

3) 2011 Jazz Half Marathon: 2:25

4) 2011 Baton Rouge Beach: 2:07

5) 2012 Louisiana Riverfront: 2:04

6) 2012 Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans: 2:09

7) 2014 Louisiana Half: 2:37

8) 2014 Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans: 2:20

9) 2014 Jazz Half Marathon: 2:02

10) 2014 Log Jammer Half Marathon: 2:07

So I have had a wide range of finishing times, but I have never broken 2 hours which I would love to do someday. I totally peaced out on the distance in 2013, but am set to run my most halves in a year for 2014 as I already am signed up for my 11th half (and 5th of the year) on Dec. 13.

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Smiles after getting my current half PR Nov. 1, 2014

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Running my first half in February 2011

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Smiling as I got a then-PR in January 2012

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Gutting out a then-PR in December 2011

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One of my less-great half performances in October 2011

Log Jammer Half Marathon Race Recap – Lucky #10

My 10th half marathon was wet, cold, and preceded an additional four miles I did on my own to get to 17 miles for marathon training, and it was great.

The race started at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Shreveport, and I had originally planned to go out there at 6 a.m. and do 4 miles on my own ahead of time. The downtown area is next to the a 5-mile riverfront path, so it was going to be easy for me to park near the race, hop on the riverfront path and do my 4 miles, then get back to the race start for 13.1 more.

Well, when I somehow thought about checking the weather forecast for the first time Saturday evening, I was very dismayed to see it was supposed to be raining all morning long. I know from past experience the forecast can change drastically over a matter of hours, so I went to bed that night hoping and praying it would somehow magically not be rainy when I woke up.

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Backtracking a bit, earlier in the day I picked up my race packet and also stopped by Dick’s, where I bought a gorgeous long-sleeved Under Armour Pullover, some headbands and Body Glide. My race shirt was a Men’s Small, a very nice technical T-shirt that I’m sure my husband will enjoy wearing because it’s way too big for me. We also got a hat.

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So back to Sunday morning, when my alarm went off at 5:30, I could hear the rain hitting the roof pretty steadily. I prolonged getting up for about 30 more minutes as it continued raining, then decided that maybe I’d better get dressed and get over to the race start on the very small chance that maybe downtown it was just drizzling or not raining at all.

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My sympathetic and half-asleep husband wished me good luck, and I headed downtown where I found several other runners had already arrived and parked, even though the race was almost an hour away. I had brought an extra long-sleeved top, a poncho, towels, extra socks, but I didn’t want to get soaking wet by trying to run on my own before the race, so I ended up deciding to stay in the car until about 7:15. If it was somehow bearable, I would try to run my extra 4 miles afterwards. In my head I was already starting to think that I would just run the half marathon and run 17 next week – after all, my plan called for a long run of only 13 miles next weekend, so I could just switch them out, as much as I didn’t want to do that.

I was honestly surprised about how many people showed up for the race despite the horrible weather. As tempting as the thought was of just going home, I couldn’t make myself do that when I saw how many other people were there braving the cold and wetness.

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Race start area

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Fake smile

At 7:15 I begrudgingly got out of my warm car and walked to the starting area, where I picked up my timing chip, one of those non-disposable ones you zip-tie to your shoe.

The half marathon crowd was a pretty decent size after we separated from the 5Kers for our start line, and as we stood there waiting for the race person to say, “Go!”, I realized it wasn’t raining anymore. We started running through downtown Shreveport, then through some neighborhoods, and it really wasn’t so bad. I started out kind of faster than I’d planned, with a goal to stay around 10-minute miles. My first three were all 9:45 or lower, and by mile 4 I was starting to feel tired already. I’m sure running the 10K the day before contributed to that. I purposefully made myself slow down more and the race pack started thinning out.

Maybe around miles 5-6 a windy mist started hitting us in the face, and that lasted about 20 minutes, but it never started raining full force, which was a blessing. The only reason my shoes got wet was because I missed a puddle at one point and accidentally stepped in it.

At one point we ran past a playground that had a short path around it. I remembered back to Christmastime in 2010, my husband had been playing ultimate frisbee with some other guys at that playground, and while they played, I ran around that short path over and over and over again. I was training for my very first half marathon at the time. It was a nice feeling to see that path for the first time in almost four years, running my 10th half marathon when I had at the time been training for my 1st. Full circle, I guess.

At mile 8.5 we got on the riverfront path that would take us all the way back to downtown Shreveport. This was a little bit of a challenge mentally because the scenery wasn’t very exciting, and I’ve run the path several times so I recognized all of the landmarks and knew just how much longer it was going to be. I do have to say, the volunteers working the aid stations were wonderful and very encouraging as we passed, and I know it couldn’t have been their #1 choice to be out there in the freezing cold and wetness. There were only a few spectators on the course, but I don’t really get a boost from spectators so that didn’t bother me.

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We got back to downtown and left the riverfront path, heading back up a hill to the finish line. I had felt some pressure to stay under 10-minute miles and not let people pass me during the race, which was stupid considering it was just part of a training run for me. But I was very happy to see my finishing time of 2:07:XX, and felt very good about being able to do my remaining four miles at a very slow pace with no feelings of pressure or awareness about anyone else around me.

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Post-race scene – kind of wet.

My hands started freezing almost immediately after I stopped running, so I took a few photos, looked around, then headed back to my car to get some gloves and take off my bib and medal before heading back out to do four more miles. It was still dreary but clear and free of rain, so I went back to the riverfront which I had just come from and did 2 miles, then turned around and headed 2 miles back to my car.

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Unfortunately, when I checked the race results today, I was not listed on there. I don’t know if my chip wasn’t activated or was the wrong one for my bib or what, but I definitely had the chip on the whole time – they stopped me at the finish line and cut it off my shoe and everything. I emailed the race organizers to see if they could find out my information, but if the chip didn’t work I don’t see what they can do. My Garmin said 2:07:23, but there was no starting mat and I don’t remember exactly what the finish line clock said – something between 2:07:25 and 2:07:29 – so I don’t know what my chip time would be. Oh well. It doesn’t really matter. Based on the results I would have been like 9th in my age group. No big deal.

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Edited to add: I never received a response from the email I sent, but I checked the results again a few days later and I was listed this time! Chip time = 2:07:27. My halves were almost identical!

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Also, there was a short little article in the local newspaper about the race – I guess I can officially classify myself as “hard core” now!

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RnR NOLA Marathon Training, Week 2 of 12

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Monday, Ran 2 miles

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This was an impromptu run Monday evening which I decided to do because I had rested Saturday-Sunday and felt lazy.

Tuesday, Ran 5 miles

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Post-work run with my husband which was in some chilly, wet weather with a rainstorm preceding and following the run. We left our neighborhood and ran 2 miles to a park, ran 1 mile around the park and then returned home.

Thursday, Ran 1 mile

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This was a quick, short run before work, which I decided to do because I knew I had a high-mileage weekend coming up and didn’t want to do too much, but I also didn’t want to go three days without running at all. It was dreary and cold and I was glad to not be out there long.

Saturday, Ran 6 miles

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The Pie Run 10K ended up being 0.2 short of a 10K, but it was still a good race and a good run.

Sunday, Ran 17 miles

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I will do a race recap soon, but on Sunday I ran the Log Jammer Half Marathon and then gutted out 4 more miles to get to 17. I thought it might not happen when Saturday night’s forecast predicted a morning full of rain in the low 40s. When my alarm went off at 5:30, I could hear the rain hitting the roof and I slowly got up full of nerves. I had originally planned to do the 4 miles before the race, but I didn’t want to get soaking wet before the race even started, so instead I sat in my car for 30 minutes before the race, absolutely dreading it.

Thankfully, by the time the race started, the rain had tapered off and it was more of a cold mist. When the race was over, it was still dreary but clear, and so I set off on some very slow miles along the riverfront to finish my daily goal. I was so pleased to get these miles in despite the bad weather, and it went by quickly thanks to 13 miles being a race with others and offering a varying course. I was actually kind of cheerful during the remaining four miles by myself, and even though I ran them slowly, it went by really fast.

Total Miles – 31

Next week’s plan:

Monday – Full Rest

Tuesday – 5 miles

Wednesday – Rest or XT

Thursday – 4 miles

Friday – 3 miles (new addition to plan)

Saturday – 13 miles

Sunday – Rest (Going out of town)

Total Mileage Planned: 25

The Pie Run 10K Race Recap

Race #1 of the weekend was a 10K in Shreveport benefiting a private school which is situated in a very rich and hilly neighborhood. Last year we did this race and the course included one long and steep uphill climb, which 10Kers had to do twice because you did a 3.1-mile loop two times (unless you were a lucky 5Ker who did it once).

We made it into town Friday evening in time to go pick up our race packets, which is always much more convenient than doing so on race day. It feels like a lot of things were upgraded this year from last – not only did we get a nice cotton, long-sleeved T-shirt, but we got a drawstring bag, water bottle and towel.

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When we arrived, parking easily and walking a short distance to the race start, I saw a big START inflatable which I also believe was new this year. In addition, the course was apparently going to be different because they had us facing the opposite direction from where we started last year.

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IMG_7585It was about 34 degrees at start time, which wasn’t too bad except for the wind that made it feel colder than that. I wore a warm UA long-sleeved top and capri tights under my shorts, but I was left wishing I had gloves for my cold, numb hands. The 10Kers and 5Kers took off at the same time, and we immediately came upon an uphill climb. As we navigated the 3.1-mile loop, we found that they had eliminated the long, steep climb from last year, but instead we had about four shorter uphill climbs, a couple which were quite steep. It was definitely more than anything we deal with at home!

I noticed right away that the course was short, my Garmin said 0.83 miles when we passed the 1-mile marker, and that trend kept up the whole way. The first half went by quickly and the course thinned out majorly for the 10K’s second half. My husband was starting to fade a little at the end, but he dug in with me at the end to sprint to the finish. My Garmin hit 6 miles exactly as we crossed the finish line, so 0.2 short. Oh well. I made a beeline for the pie. It was VERY GOOD.

IMG_7588 IMG_7587I took a photo with my pie but husband wasn’t feeling too good and it was quickly getting cold again, so we left pretty quickly and I ate it in the car.

IMG_7598According to the race website, my chip time was 58:01.

RnR NOLA Marathon Training, Week 1 of 12

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Since I signed up for the marathon last Friday, and had previously been training for a half marathon, I am counting this past week as my first real week mentally and actively training for “a marathon.” The 12 weeks is 4-6 weeks less than a typical plan, but since I already have a half marathon base and will run 17 miles this coming Sunday, I think I am right on schedule.

This was a three-run week, coming off the high of a great half marathon. I originally intended to run on Monday, but was still exhausted and moved it to Tuesday.

Tuesday, Nov. 4 – Ran 5.25

IMG_7483I did the first three with my husband around our neighborhood, averaging a 10+ minute pace. Then I took off on my own to get to 5 and upped the pace a bit, bringing down my total pace to 9:40. I guess I ran the extra .25 because I was still that far from home when I hit 5 miles.

Thursday, Nov. 6 – Ran 4

IMG_7501I ran 4 miles, again around the neighborhood, before work Thursday morning. I hate getting up early but I love getting my run done first thing so that the rest of the day I don’t have it looming ahead of me. Plus with the time change, it gets dark so early that I am often racing the sunset. Was very sweaty for this run even though it was a cool morning.

Friday, Nov. 7 – Ran 15

IMG_7522 A very busy weekend with several work engagements and church obligations meant I had to push my run up to Friday morning. The bad news was that I already had a doctor’s appointment set for 10:45 a.m. (30 minutes away), so I had to get up and get this run in early and quick. It was quite chilly, about 49 degrees, and so I added running tights and a long-sleeved Under Armour thick top to my running wardrobe, then left my house at 6:30.

Well, it took about 0.6 miles to warm up, but as soon as I did I knew the long-sleeved top had to go. I turned around and headed back home, where I changed into a much lighter Brooks long-sleeved shirt. Back out on the road, I set out on my planned route which took me through another neighborhood to the city park, then from the park to a bigger neighborhood. Bad news – I had to pass the main streets where three schools are located, and it was prime dropping-off-your-kids time. I re-routed several times but still had to go down some parts of the street with tons of cars, and no shoulder. I was up and running in the grass several times at an incline, which was not fun and expended tons of energy.

I kept chugging along, feeling my stomach starting to get upset, and got back to my house at 11.4 miles for a bathroom and Gatorade break. The last 3.6 miles went by pretty quickly and I had just enough time afterwards to bathe, eat breakfast and get to my doctor’s appointment in time.

TOTAL MILEAGE – 24.25

Some fun running things I ordered came in Friday, just in time because my legs really needed them – new Sockwell compression socks and a $10 version of The Stick for massaging my muscles.

IMG_7521I also took two epsom salt baths and have rested mostly Saturday-Sunday, when not at church or working.

Another busy week ahead, with my two-race weekend coming up! I am pretty excited. It will be a high mileage week for me if I complete these runs -

Tuesday – 5 miles

Thursday – 3 miles

Saturday – Pie Run 10K

Sunday – Log Jammer Half Marathon + 4 miles = 17 miles

Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Marathon Training Plan

This is a plan I put together a few weeks ago, which I made based on my previous two marathon plans. Most weeks I have four runs planned, with a few three-run weeks thrown in.

RnR nolaTo be honest, my life is quite more hectic than it was when I trained for my last marathon, as my job hours vary based on what’s going on in the community and my husband and I lead the youth group at our church. So while I hope to get my mileage in each week, it may not be in the form presented in the training plan. For instance, this weekend I have to do a 15-miler. I wanted to do it on Saturday, but something work-related has come up. Well, since my job hours are flexible due to the nature of being a journalist, I am instead going to do the 15-miler before rushing to a doctor’s appointment on Friday morning. I can’t feasibly do it Sunday because my husband and I are filling in for someone and leading Sunday school. Just thinking about how busy my next few days are, I am so ready for Sunday evening. But I will find 2.5 hours to do my long run.

And that’s kind of how I am viewing each week – a 4-mile run is about 40 minutes. A 13-mile run is a little over 2 hours. I can find these pockets of time to do my runs. There is really no excuse as long as I plan ahead. So Friday I will be waking up at 6:30, running 15 miles, showering, dressing, eating breakfast and getting to my appointment 30 minutes away by 10:45.

For my “Rest or XT” days, I will try to have at least 2 non-running days a week where I do my spin bike, weights or yoga. What is most important to me is that the day after each long run, I have a full, no-exercise rest day.

Jazz Half Marathon Race Recap – A Perfect PR Day

This is a long and indulgent recap because I just had the best race I’ve ever had save for my first marathon, which only tops it because I was so thrilled just to finish a marathon.

I really never expected to get a PR in today’s race – I knew I had been having some strong runs lately and had been increasing my speed, but after a year and a half of lackluster racing, I never expected to top my January 2012 PR of 2:04:48. I barely had a goal going in – I basically decided at the last minute that my goal was to come in under 2:10, so under a 9:55 pace.

My husband and I both worked a little Friday morning and got on the road to New Orleans shortly before lunchtime. A lunch stop in Lafayette and 40 minutes of extra time added thanks to Baton Rouge traffic had us arriving to NOLA close to 5 p.m., which led straight to New Orleans rush hour traffic and more time in the car. We finally got to the expo on Convention Center Blvd. and I was in and out pretty quickly – it was a small expo but much larger than when I went to pick up my packet for this race in 2011, so I suppose that’s a good sign that the race is growing. The shirt is a pretty color but the cut is kind of weird – I really hate unisex tech shirts!

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After the packet pickup duty was done, we drove to our hotel on Poydras Street, which was less than a half-mile from the race start. This was my first time having a hotel room so close to a race, and I LOVED IT. Normally for New Orleans races we are traveling in from 25 minutes away and even when I lived in Baton Rouge and did several races, they were all 10 minutes or so away and the stress of finding parking, etc. was still present. To be able to just walk out of the hotel and to the start was amazing.

Anyway, back to Friday, Halloween night – we walked a little ways to the French Quarter to get dinner and saw lots and lots of fun costumes (and some disturbing ones). We ate dinner at Jimmy J’s Cafe on Chartres, which serves breakfast at all hours. I decided to go for the pancakes and I was glad I did! This may be my go-to race eve meal from now on.

IMG_7331We walked further in to the French Quarter so my husband, who had no idea it was going to be cold this weekend, could buy a jacket. On the way, we unexpectedly came upon a Halloween parade! This was so fun. Obviously New Orleans is known for its parades, but I had no idea there was one on Halloween – apparently it’s called the Krewe of Boo. We caught the last 5 minutes of it or so, then headed to Urban Outfitters where husband got a long-sleeved shirt. Then we headed back to the hotel and were locked in tight by 8 p.m.

IMG_7380I got all my race stuff together like normal and fell asleep rather easily, but I woke up about 4-5 times during the night. I had TWO bad race dreams – one was that the race wasn’t on Saturday and instead was on Sunday. In my dream this was a huge problem because I had only reserved the hotel room for Friday night and didn’t know if we could get the room again for Sunday. The second dream was that my alarm didn’t go off and I woke up at 6:59 – one minute before the race start. I had to run through the hotel, down the stairs instead of the elevator and I woke up just as I was running down the street toward the start line. Hilarious huh?

IMG_7383In reality my alarm did go off at 6 a.m. but I had already been awake by 5:30 checking and re-checking the weather forecast for the next several hours.

IMG_7384I had an old space blanket from a previous half marathon, so I brought that with me to use beforehand for keeping warm. I also decided at the last minute to wear running tights under my shorts because I’d rather be a little warm than too cold. These were both GREAT decisions.

IMG_7387I feel so weighed down with all of the junk I bring with me to races – phone in armband for contacting husband purposes, Garmin on one wrist, ID bracelet on the other wrist, iPod nano clipped to shorts with headphones wrapped around my neck. Thank goodness I didn’t have need for my Spibelt too! Oh well, it didn’t bother me too much while I was running.

As soon as I stepped outside I was so glad for my space blanket – it was not just cold but windy, something that persisted all morning. There were several other runners out walking to the start from their hotels or parking spots, so I just followed the crowd and soon found myself among the throngs of runners awaiting the start at Lafayette Square. It was still dark.

IMG_7401Finally it was time for the race to start, and I tried not to be too obvious about huddling next to the ladies beside me for their body warmth. The race horn blew and we were off – and I felt OK about it. The first mile was very congested and I didn’t feel like weaving around people, so I kind of hung back for a few minutes and waited until it was easier to pass others. One girl decided this was a good time to stop in the middle of the street to tie her shoe and another guy had to practically hurdle over her head to avoid colliding with her. Why do people do this?

I decided to have my pace/calorie screen showing on my Garmin rather than overall time/distance screen so that I could ensure I wasn’t going over a 10:00-minute pace. First mile was 10:17 thanks to all the congestion, but I was OK with starting out slower.

The first 5K of the race took us from Camp Street in the Central Business District to Convention Center Blvd., then back to Poydras past the Superdome with a U-turn to go back the way we came. At that point the 5Kers headed for the finish line and we half-marathoners made our way to St. Charles Avenue, which would encompass the majority of the rest of our race. My second and third miles were in the low to mid 9s, and I thought that was pretty good. I didn’t really give my pace or possibilities more thought until I hit the 4 mile mark and felt really strong, like I could continue running less than 9:30 for a while. But I knew the race wasn’t even close to finished, so I resolved to just run like I was as long as it felt good.

IMG_7422RnR Nola does the same thing as the Jazz Half in that it takes us down St. Charles for several miles, then has us go back the opposite way on St. Charles for another several miles. The difference is that the Jazz Half also takes runners off St. Charles and into Audubon Park for two miles, which is a nice change. St. Charles was kind of boring since I’ve run it several times, but I just kind of zoned out and wondered how long I could keep my pace.

IMG_7423When we got to Audubon Park, we were on the 8th mile and I still felt really strong. Audubon Park is a beautiful area with a very smooth running path, and I found myself invigorated and running faster. At 9 miles I determined that if I ran the remaining 4.1 miles at least at a 9-minute pace or so, I’d kill my PR. I knew it would be tough but I was all of a sudden very motivated to get a PR. We left Audubon Park and headed back the way we came on St. Charles. The sun was in our faces at points and the wind, which had been annoying here or there, was coming in at random, strong gusts. I focused on keeping my pace at 8:50-9:00 and my mantra was “Hang on.” I had been getting Gatorade at every other water stop, and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with my water break expertise – every time I stopped it felt so quick and seamless, it was just a perfect day! Normally I am stumbling and spilling water all over myself and running in to people at water stops.

After passing the Mile 11 marker, mentally that part was the toughest because it felt like the Mile 12 marker was never going to arrive. I felt like once I had only a mile left, I could just truck it and ignore my watch and stop thinking so much, but getting to that point felt like it took forever. In reality it took about 8:52.

Also, while I had sweated and felt comfortably warm for the most part, my hands never warmed up and were red and tight by this time. I knew I would have a hard time operating my fingers when the race finally ended.

IMG_7424The last mile was tough physically in that I was trying to push myself as hard as I could but the head wind was brutal and unrelenting at this point. It did go by pretty fast though, and I was surprised when we turned a corner and could see the finish line, so I guess mentally it was good. When I saw the clock at 2:02:– I was so thrilled. Race photos are not up yet, but I know I had a big smile on my face.

IMG_7425I had told my husband that as long as he got to the finish line at 9 a.m. he would be safe, since I definitely wasn’t breaking 2 hours. Well, he only had to wait a few minutes because he had arrived shortly before I unexpectedly pulled in with a 2-and-a-half-minute PR.

I was very happy!

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And sweaty!

IMG_7412Final deets:

Jazz HalfMedal:

IMG_7419I don’t know how to explain the unexpected PR except that I’ve had some strong, fast (for me) runs recently, combined with a perfect weather day, flat course and stomach that didn’t betray me.

In 2014, I’ve had my worst ever half marathon and now my best. That’s how it goes!

After the race, I recovered and got clean in the hotel (free continental breakfast was still ongoing so I grabbed a croissant and OJ!), then we checked out and made it to the famous Port of Call on Esplanade right before the lunch rush began. We got one of the last empty tables; after that, groups of 5+ were coming in right after the other and being put on a waiting list.

IMG_7431IMG_7436All in all, a great day! Now when I run the Log Jammer Half Marathon in two weeks, what will be part of a 17-mile day, I can just run at it nice and easy and know that I already have a fresh PR that will probably last for a little while.

I just registered for a marathon…

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I had been thinking about committing to the Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Marathon on Jan. 25, but I had not gotten up the courage to officially register for it. My first half marathon of the fall is in the morning, but I have two strong months of running behind me and feel confident that I am ready to train for marathon #3. So when I saw a promo code on Facebook to get $55 off of the fee, and that the code expired tonight at midnight, I was forced to make a quick decision on whether or not I would take advantage of the large discount for something I was 90% certain I would sign up for anyway. So I did it. Marathon #3 is less than 3 months away. A run of 15 miles is on my schedule for next Saturday.

Revisiting missed turn in my latest 5K

Today, the day after the 5K race where I missed a turn on the course, I went on an 8-mile run and returned to the neighborhood where most of this 5K was. With my Garmin I measured the turn I should have taken and then the way that I actually went, and they were exactly the same – .40 miles. So I was off course for less than half a mile and went the same distance as the race course part that I missed. Also, the reason I was able to so fluidly get back on track was because the turn was only a short detour that headed back to the road that I also got on.

Here is how it was:

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So all in all, no harm done. I just did the opposite of that part of the course for the same distance! ;) This also means that even if I hadn’t gotten lost, my final distance would still be 3.4 so I was never going to realistically get a 5K PR. I know most race courses end up, according to Garmin, a little over thanks to tangents, but usually only 3.15 or 3.2. I believe I would have PR’d with that distance, but there’s no way to know for sure. I will just have to try again soon.

Halloween Hustle 5K Race Recap – Zombies Chasing and Getting Lost = First Place Female?

It was bound to happen, me missing a turn on a course during  a small race where I didn’t have lots of people to follow.

The Halloween Hustle 5K – Zombie Gleaux was a small, fun night race where a lot of people dressed up in costume and were taking it all in fun. Me, I wanted to get my 5K PR since I have never beaten my PR of 26:33 set in February 2011.

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More people were in costume than not

So the 30-40 or so of us lined up at the start, and when the whistle blew, I shot out of the gate as fast as my little legs could carry me. My husband signed up for the race too, but he hadn’t run very much lately, so I left him behind. As the crowd thinned out I no longer had anyone in front of me, so I just kept my eyes up and ahead and focused on breathing.

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Us at the start line

During this race, there were people on the course dressed as zombies who would scream and lurch at us as we ran by. Some were better at keeping in character than others. As we passed a street to the right (this whole race was in a residential area), one of the zombies, a young girl, said rather nonchalantly, “Aren’t  y’all supposed to turn here?” I was already past the street at that point and looked back, but she didn’t say anything else, I hadn’t seen a sign, and a couple of people behind me passed up the street too and followed me. So I just kept going.

It bothered me for most of the next mile and a half that I had possibly missed the turn because I didn’t want to end up short of a 5K distance and I didn’t want to erroneously win an award or anything, which I knew I had a good chance of doing with such a small race.

I kept running, and it had gotten pretty dark at this point. They had glow-in-the-dark stuff for us to wear, which was definitely needed since the course wasn’t closed to traffic. There were police and firetrucks at certain intersections, but we still had to watch for cars. I focused more on my pace than on how far I had run (no mile markers were on the course) and when I hit 2 miles I focused on keeping an 8:20 pace or so. It was just me and a guy running near each other as we headed back toward the finish line. We went back the same way we had come, and this time I saw the sign on the street where in fact I should have turned. But as we got close to the finish line, my Garmin said I had gone more than 3.3 miles, so i was definitely past the 5K mark. For the last quarter-mile, one of the zombies sprinted with me and was right at my back. I was like “OK dude, that’s enough!” But hey, good motivation.

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I crossed the finish line at 28:42 for 3.42 miles – an 8:24 pace. They said I was the first female finisher, so I immediately gave myself up to the race organizer people and told them what I had done on the course and that I had still gone 3.4 miles. They didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. “You’re still the first female!” they said. So I said, OK. It turns out that I pretty much did the same distance as everyone else, because the way I ran was pretty much the same distance as if I had taken the turn correctly, according to my husband.

While I was happy to have done so well with my pace (PR pace was 8:33), I can’t really count this as my PR since it was so much over. I guess I will have to find a 5K that has more people so I won’t get lost and then try again soon.

A couple of minutes passed after I finished before anyone else came up, and then my husband came through the finish line at around 31:something. We had to wait awhile for everyone to finish and then for awards, but we stuck around since we knew I’d gotten something. When they announced awards, they just did 1st and 2nd place in each age group – no overall award. The age groups were like 13-under, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc. Well, turns out there were only 2 people in my husband’s age group and he got first place! It’s his first individual award at a race. I was so happy for him. The 2nd place person finished like 10 minutes behind him. I of course got first place in my age group since I was first girl. We took pictures then headed home!

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Medal front

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Medal back

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Even slow runners can win stuff sometimes!

This was overall a really fun race, in retrospect I wish I had worn a costume or something. If I hadn’t been gunning for a PR I would have stuck with my husband and wouldn’t have missed that turn, but oh well.

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Everyone got a Halloween tote bag with a cotton T-shirt, apple and pencil.

The running community is not as strong here as it is in bigger places like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, so the result is that races here are much smaller and not as fancy, but I really appreciate the effort. This was really fun and we had a good time.

EDITED TO ADD:

Today, the day after the race, I went on an 8-mile run and returned to the neighborhood where most of this 5K was. With my Garmin I measured the turn I should have taken and then the way that I actually went, and they were exactly the same – .40 miles. So I was off course for less than half a mile and went the same distance as the race course part that I missed. Also, the reason I was able to so fluidly get back on track was because the turn was only a short detour that headed back to the road that I also got on.

Here is how it was:

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So all in all, no harm done. I just did the opposite of that part of the course for the same distance! ;) This also means that even if I hadn’t gotten lost, my final distance would still be 3.4 so I was never going to realistically get a 5K PR. I know most race courses end up, according to Garmin, a little over thanks to tangents, but usually only 3.15 or 3.2. I believe I would have PR’d with that distance, but there’s no way to know for sure. I will just have to try again soon.