NYC Marathon – I’m in!

When the lottery sign-up for the New York City Marathon opened on January 15, I basically entered as soon as I got to a computer that morning. I knew my chances were REALLY slim – ultimately only 18% of the 80,000+ entrants would be accepted via the lottery. But it was an $11 fee to enter and I figured it was worth a shot.

Fast forward to today, lottery day, and I was excited to find out if I got in but not *really* expecting to be one of the lucky few. I was initially checking my email throughout the morning, which is how I thought I’d be notified, but then I saw on the Marathon Maniacs group that people were finding out via a $255 charge from the New York Road Runners in their bank account. I went to my bank account information online with a fast beating heart, and there it was – a $255 pending charge!

I was hesitant to really grasp or believe that I had actually been accepted into the marathon without official confirmation via their website or an email, but after seeing the official NYC Marathon Twitter and Facebook basically say, “You won’t get an email or website confirmation until later, but if we took a bunch of money out of your bank account you’re in” — I started to get really excited!

My husband and I went out to eat for dinner to celebrate, and while we were out I got the official word via email!

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It is still very surreal, and thankfully we have 8 months to prepare for this epic adventure. We visited NYC strictly as a fun tourist trip last May, and it was such a fast trip that I was left wanting to return and do some things we had missed out on because of the lack of time. Now, we have a legit reason to go back and we can skip the touristy things we did last year (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge) and do some of the more unique things we didn’t do before. Plus, I get to run one of the most famous marathons in the world through all five boroughs of New York City! I can’t wait!!! It will be torture waiting 8 months to go!

Stride Box Subscriber

I signed up to receive the monthly StrideBox on Thursday, and my first box came in the mail today! Monday had not been going so swell for me, so this was a really nice surprise during my lunch break when I went home and checked the mail.

I have been tempted to sign up for similar monthly boxes like this, some that send beauty product samples or healthy snack samples each month. But I was definitely sold when I first read about this running sample box, and I see myself enjoying this for a long time to come.

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In the box

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A busy weekend + 8 days to Marathon #5

Part of the reason my marathon training has been so hit-or-miss all fall and winter long is the busy-ness that is the rest of my life. I know there are people out there who are way busier than me who make it happen (especially those with small children), so it’s no excuse. I just like my sleep, so it’s hard to find running motivation during those busy weeks when work and church obligations keep me out at night during times I’d rather be resting.

This weekend was an example of that – Friday night was a ministry event I had to attend and take part in, so that was pretty much directly after work until about 9:30 p.m. because I stayed after to help clean up. I got up this morning to get in my last long run before the Zydeco Marathon, 13 miles in about 2:20. I got home, made mac and cheese for a quick lunch, showered, then headed into work to get stuff done for my Saturday afternoon deadline.

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Me speaking briefly at the ministry event Friday night.

Then I went and took some photos at an event, also for work. Once done with work for the day, my husband and I headed in to Lake Charles to run some errands and pick up some things we can’t get at home – for me, this included stops at Dick’s, the local running store AND Academy to try and find the flavor of PowerBar Energy Gel I like so I can have it for the marathon next weekend. Academy for the win. I also picked up some more sunscreen and a white Under Armour running hat. We had dinner at a Greek/Lebanese place, and on the way back home got some Dairy Queen!

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Lunch! Truffle Mac and Cheese

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Dinner – Chicken Kebob Platter

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Dessert!

Tomorrow morning is church, then we’re taking the youth group to an afternoon play, then after that we have a staff meeting back at church! So weekends like this are rough because I don’t get much rest. Still, I got my long run in and enjoyed it, so that’s what counts.

Speaking of my run today, I fueled with a Salted Caramel Gu beforehand, no breakfast. I haven’t used Gu in years, and I remembered why today – too thick! I almost gagged. I switched to PowerBar brand energy gel in 2011 because it is thinner and so much easier to swallow down. I will use the rest of the Gu I have for long runs, but no way will I be able to use it during a marathon.

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I also tried a Pocket Fuel Nut Butter Blend for the first time. This is basically a packet of almond butter for you to take in during a long run, and for me, it was too messy to be convenient. I carried it with me in my handheld water bottle’s pouch and stopped at mile 8 to eat it. It was cold out, so no matter how much I squeezed the packet, it still wasn’t going to be easy to get the almond butter softened. The butter that did come out was messy and while it went down OK with water, I feel this whole exercise would be too time-consuming during a marathon. An ultramarathon, sure – it is an easy way to take in some more calories outside of an aid station. And my stomach had started to feel hungry around mile 5-6, so this did the trick and helped me get through the rest of the run.

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I spent most of the run listening to old Jillian Michaels Show podcasts. I was way behind on these, so I was shocked to get to the show from late last month or early this month that revealed her producer/sidekick Janice had left the show! And no explanation is to be found by Googling as to why?!? This almost made me stop in my tracks. Sad :(

I honestly don’t know if I will PR next week, but more than anything I want to have a good experience and have fun. I officially registered earlier this week as well as booked a hotel for super cheap.

I plan to pick up one of these special 26.2 stickers at the expo, for the uniqueness of having the distance spelled out in French!

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From the Zydeco Marathon Facebook page

Marathon Maniac #10782

When I ran two marathons in 8 days, I officially qualified to be a Marathon Maniac. I don’t think I will ever get up to higher than the Bronze level, and I certainly am going to remain a “Maniac” with some of the fewest marathons, but I love the community and being able to read others’ advice, encouragement and getting information about upcoming races along with some discounts.

To celebrate my new MM status, I bought a Sweaty Band with the logo. It’s so cute! Will wait a little while to get a shirt – I am not crazy about the pink or yellow shirts because I look dumb in both colors, but I will probably go with the yellow short-sleeved shirt. Maybe when next winter rolls around I will invest in a jacket too.

FullSizeRenderIn correlation with that, there was a discussion on the MM Facebook group about how runners deal with dogs chasing them on their runs. I have been chased by dogs countless times even though my current town has a leash law, and have been lucky enough not to be bitten even though every time I do exactly what you’re not supposed to do, which is keep running. The advice given most often was to run with pepper spray and dog treats (the pepper spray to fend off aggressive dogs, the treats to distract those who persist in a less antagonistic manner). The Sabre pepper spray I ordered has a little handheld part and I figure I can run with some dog treats in my Spibelt.

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As I told my husband, the pepper spray is good to have for use on humans too, if needed (God forbid). The one I bought has a hand strap, and I ran with it on an 11-mile run today. It is light and easy to carry. It did make me feel safer too.

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Running beginnings

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My first race actually took place in 1993, a year before this article, and it was for the same run – the St. Charles Parish Reading Council Fun Run.

My older sister ran track in high school and I had attended many of her track meets and seen her win awards, so apparently I decided I wanted to win awards for running too.

At age 7 I ran the 2-mile race and won 2nd place in my age group! I got a trophy which was of a girl running. I was thrilled! So the next year at age 8 I ran the 1-mile. The only thing I remember is that I got a bad cramp during this one. I really wish they had printed the finishing times because I have no idea how long it took! Again I got 2nd place and another trophy! (Whether or not there were only 2 people in my age group running, I’ll never know…)

I still have the T-shirt from the 1994 race as well – it’s cute! Just a little raggedy.

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Now I need to find these trophies, if they still exist! After this race, I took a little break from racing… for about 16 years.

Zydeco Marathon Training, Weeks 1-2

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With five weeks in between marathons, I am hesitant to do too much or too little. I am trying to maintain my endurance while also working on speeding up just a bit, but I may be in need of some extended rest or therapy judging on how badly my 20-miler went on Saturday.

I hadn’t run for speed in a long time, so my two runs of 2 and 3 miles where I kept under a 9:10 pace for both was somewhat of a challenge to myself and really wore me out. I thought since they were shorter runs that the quicker speed wouldn’t do any harm, but when I set out for my 20-miler on Saturday, my legs were just tired and sluggish, making completing the distance really difficult.

I expected it to be warm and expected to be tired, but I was just surprised at how slow I was going at times. It didn’t feel that slow and yet I’d look down at my pace and be shocked to be running slower than 11-minute miles. I thought about quitting at 16 and 18 miles, but I couldn’t bear the thought of not finishing what I started. I knew I’d be disappointed in myself and feel like the whole run was a waste, so I pushed through, even though the last five miles included several walking breaks and really slow hobbling.

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Maybe it also didn’t help that I did the 3-miler the very day before the 20-miler. I don’t know. I am also dealing with morning congestion and have a sore throat as I type, so maybe rest is best right now. Nonetheless, while I was sore the rest of Saturday, I woke up Sunday with absolutely no soreness.

With three weeks until the Zydeco Marathon, I am planning to do a 15-miler this Saturday and a 10-miler next Saturday. I am very relieved to have that 20-miler done. I just hope I can still incorporate some speed work without making my long runs miserable and killing my legs.

Zydeco Marathon goals

zydeco I have not officially registered yet, but in my head I am committing to running the Zydeco Marathon in Lafayette on March 8. Since I have now shown myself that I am again capable of running marathons, I want to go into the next one with a real goal other than “finish alive.”

That goal is obviously to PR, beating my best time of 4:40:16, but more than that, I want to break 4:40 and have my time be 4:3X:XX. So 4:39:59 would be a win, 4:40:00 would be a fail, even though it is a PR too. To try and accomplish this I am going to be focusing on running faster in my shorter runs and my longer runs, with actual pace goals.

Park to Park Half Marathon Race Recap

medalThis was my third race weekend in a row, but I decided to take it easy this time around and just do a half marathon ;) The truth is this wasn’t so easy for me, but I was pretty pleased with my final time considering how slow my training runs and other races have been lately.

FullSizeRenderThis race was only an hour’s drive away, so for the first time in three weeks I didn’t have to get a hotel for a race weekend. Instead, I just had to wake up about 5 hours earlier than I would have liked in order to get ready and get on the road. I decided to pick up my packet the morning of the race, and packet pickup was supposed to close by 7 (with the race set for 7:30), so I left the house at 5:40 a.m.

It was pretty much dark the whole way until shortly before I arrived to my destination – on the way I ate half of a regular bagel with PB.

IMG_0269Parking was easy and after picking up my packet at a church by the start, I sat in my car for a little while until it was close to starting time, because pre-race temperatures were cold, around 40 degrees. The race was supposed to start at 7:30 but we didn’t end up starting until about 15 minutes past that, so I had to stand and be cold a little longer than planned. But once we started running, it warmed up really quick.

The sun was out and high, and the course offered little shade. We headed out on Maplewood Drive, a four-lane highway where much of the race would take place. I assume the name of the race comes from the fact that we start near sort of a park (or at least trees surrounded by a walking path) and ran to and around at least two other parks on the course. But mostly we were running up and down Maplewood, with one lane blocked off for us and police there to divert traffic when we had to cross the street. There was one back street that led to the first park which cars were allowed to drive on, and some of them were pretty reckless, going way too fast considering all of the bodies running in both directions around them. At one point I stared at a driver going by way too fast, and even turned my head to continue giving them the evil eye, then said aloud to myself, “Really, person??” Other than that, the course was well-protected.

I tried to keep around 10-minute miles along the way, but I had forgotten to take an energy gel before the start, was running on less than 5 hours of sleep, and maybe – just maybe – am worn out from doing two marathons two weekends in a row. So by mile 5 I was already tired and by mile 10 I wanted to lay down on the ground. My miles got much slower, though I never stopped to walk, mostly because that would prolong the end of the race and I just wanted to finish!

IMG_0274Finally I did – my Garmin said I ran 13.02 miles in 2:11:04. So the course was short a bit. Hate it when that happens.

IMG_0284The “medal” was definitely unique, made of wood with the same design as the T-shirt. Speaking of the shirt, I loved it! It not only was a technical T-shirt and had a pretty design, but they had gender-specific shirts which is almost unheard of for a small race, at least the ones I’ve done.

I had to sit down as soon as I crossed the finish, and I was offered both a mini Powerade and water. They were serving what smelled like jambalaya inside the church, but I wasn’t too hungry, so I went back to my car and changed into flip flops, took a few pictures of the race area, then headed home.

IMG_0283I spent the rest of the day doing nothing and resting my legs. Maybe I will take a break from racing next weekend… or maybe not. We’ll see!

Galveston Marathon Race Recap

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Surprise! I ran another marathon.

I myself didn’t know I was going to do it until three days beforehand, when I started perusing a list of upcoming marathons around the country just for fun. I felt so good during and after the Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Marathon that I was already itching to do it again and even try to get a better finishing time. When I was looking at marathons on Thursday night and I saw that the Galveston Marathon was coming up on February 1, and that Galveston was only a three-hour drive away, I started analyzing how doable this would be. First I had to talk to my husband to see if he would be willing to do another road trip with me and if he thought I was crazy for wanting to do another marathon 7 days later. He did ask me if I was sure I felt up to it, but he said if I slept on it and decided I still wanted to do it by Friday lunchtime, I could go ahead and register and get a hotel for Saturday night.

Well, on Friday I was a tiny bit less gung-ho because I had started analyzing too much and was questioning if my body would break down from too much running or if I was going to wear us out with yet another road trip and marathon weekend or if I should back off and wait another few weeks and try to find a different driveable race instead. I also was checking the weather and there were supposed to be some afternoon thunderstorms in Galveston on Sunday, plus early morning rain. So much rain forecast before and after the race time period made me nervous.

But since the forecast didn’t have rain taking place during the race and because it seemed too perfect to have found this race so close by, and because my body really did feel recovered from the RnR NOLA marathon, I decided to go for it. You only live once and all that. Plus I knew if I didn’t go ahead and go for it, I would regret it.

So on Friday I registered for the marathon and booked a hotel, then on Saturday afternoon, we were off on our road trip. I hadn’t exactly been preparing all week for a marathon again, so I spent all day Friday and Saturday drinking copious amounts of water and eating carbs. I also drank about three protein smoothies by the time we left Saturday afternoon.

IMG_0174We got to Galveston around 5 p.m., an hour before packet pickup was closing. There was no expo, but packet pickup was at a running store in historic downtown Galveston, which was very cute and bigger than expected. After I got my packet which consisted of a bunch of handouts, a protein bar, a long-sleeved shirt, visor and mouse pad, we headed for dinner at a nearby restaurant, the Black Pearl Oyster Bar. There wasn’t much in the way of pasta, but we got an appetizer that consisted of grilled shrimp and pita chips. My entree was salmon, salad, bread and a fully loaded baked potato. So much food! I couldn’t eat it all.

IMG_0167After eating, I was really tired from driving and being stressed about getting to packet pickup on time, so all I wanted to do was get to our hotel. We got one of those secret deals on Hotwire, so our hotel was cheaper but about 15 miles from the race start, with a travel time of a little over 20 minutes. This stressed me out a little because I got spoiled having a hotel in walking distance to the race start last week. With a starting time of 7:30 a.m., I told my husband we’d need to leave by 6:30 to be safe. (Very overly cautious I am). Our hotel room was huge with an extra sitting room, kitchenette and small balcony. Too bad it was too dark to see the beach by the time we got there! I laid out all my stuff and got into bed. We were both under the covers with the TV on by 8 p.m. Old people.

IMG_0172I slept OK but woke up a few times, including a point late in the night where our neighbors were fighting loudly in the hall. My alarm went off at 5:30 but I pressed snooze like 3 times. Finally I got up, forced down most of a bagel and almond butter I brought, and got everything together. We left at 6:40 and had little trouble getting to the race start, so we parked for a little while, and then my husband dropped me off around the corner from the race start at 7:15 on the dot.

IMG_0171When I first woke up in the hotel, my main feeling was of sheer regret. I wished I was home in my own bed and only having to go to church, not run a marathon. But by the time I got to the starting line, the energy of everyone else and excitement in the air got me feeling a little more excited too. The forecast anticipated a 30 percent chance of rain at various points during the race including 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., so I put vaseline between my toes and covered my iPhone in a ziploc bag. I started out by the 4:40 pacer, but I knew I wasn’t going to keep up with her most likely, or at least I wasn’t going to make a serious effort to do so. I just wanted to beat my time of 4:50 from last week.

IMG_0179 IMG_0181 IMG_0191It was warm and humid at the start, already 60 degrees, so my plan was to drink at every water stop and take salt packets three times throughout the race. I got them from Wendy’s when we had lunch there on Saturday. The race was a double loop for marathoners, so we would be doing the same loop twice, the first time with the half marathoners.

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Purchased race photo

The race began, and we headed out of downtown toward the Seawall, which ran along the beach. This was nice because there was a slight breeze coming off the water and you could smell the salty beach air. We turned right on the Seawall and ran down beside the beach about a mile, veered right across the highway into a residential area, ran around that and then came back onto the Seawall back in the direction we had just come from. Then we proceeded to run down the Seawall for what felt like forever. I don’t remember exactly how far but it was probably more than three miles one way, which felt like longer because there was no shade from the sun.

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We turned off of the Seawall and then proceeded into a back area that had condominiums and maybe a golf course or something? It seemed like a lot of private, manicured property with very little people around. That took us around for about 3 miles, then we returned to the Seawall, non-beach side, to head back toward downtown. The last street we were on leads directly to the finish line, which you can see for almost a mile of running. It seems so close and yet so far away.

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I was happy to get to the finish line for the end of the first half, because I had been planning a very active water stop once I got past the halfway point – I took a salt packet, three ibuprofen and a gel, all at the same stop! It was very exciting. So half marathoners went to the finish line and us crazy full marathoners bypassed that to go on to the second loop and do again what we had just done. I was still in good spirits and making sure to drink water at every stop, maintain a decent pace but not go too fast, and keep my breathing steady.

IMG_0198 IMG_0199 It had not even hinted at raining, in fact the sun was out and high and bright. The next several miles on the Seawall were pretty rough, with the sun beating down and no end in sight. I knew that the end of the endless Seawall would mean 20 miles and I could text my husband to give him a head’s up, so I just kept focusing on and looking forward to that. The policemen directing traffic were super nice and would even say encouraging words as I passed by. Maybe I looked like I needed it? Volunteers at the water stop were also very great.

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Another purchased race photo… there were plenty of ugly ones but I did not want to buy them.

At mile 20 I texted my husband and then decided to try and stay under 11 minute miles for the remainder of the way. I passed several people over the next two miles, and then at the mile 22 marker, some head wind and boring scenery-less road began. This lasted for over a mile, and I hated it so much. I was struggling to keep under an 11-minute pace against the wind with my tired legs, and I couldn’t wait to get back to that dreaded Seawall just to be done with this portion of the race. The one little uphill part of the course came at the end of that stretch, and then finally I got back on the Seawall and was soon at the mile 24 marker. The light at the end of the tunnel was near. I basically just zoned out for the next mile, which took us down the Seawall and then into a residential area connected to the downtown area. I didn’t bother to stop at the mile 25 water stop because I just wanted to finish. It had never rained, but the temperature had continued to rise and my shirt was drenched with sweat. As that last mile dragged on and on, my breathing was finally starting to get labored and I knew that if the race was any longer than a marathon I would have had to start walking.

But besides walking through water stops so I could avoid spilling drink on myself, I never had to stop and walk during the race. I did have three breaks where I basically stopped to complete a task, the first when I had my active water stop of taking salt, medicine and a gel, and then a second stop where I took out my phone to take pictures of the beach and the third time when I texted my husband.

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Photo by husband – he couldn’t zoom out fast enough (because I’m sooooo fast)

IMG_0219 That last stretch where I could see the finish line but was still so far away felt like torture, but I just chugged along and finally, mercifully, approached the end. The announcer said my name and town as I crossed that magic line, and I got handed a medal and water, then stopped my Garmin and immediately sat down.

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According to my Garmin, I had beaten last week’s time by 4 minutes! Official chip time confirmed it - 4:46:51 – exactly 4 minutes faster than last week’s 4:50:51. Those four minutes were basically shaved in the first half – last week’s first half was 2:24 and this week’s first half was 2:20. The last four miles of this race had been rough, but I had endured through it rather than give in to the temptation to walk, and it had paid off with my 2nd best marathon time out of four marathons.

IMG_0205IMG_0209 I wasn’t really hungry for real food, so we went by this place called Rita’s for a custard milkshake and then headed out of town. I was ready to get on the road back home and get some pizza for the Super Bowl. My loving husband drove us the whole way home.

So it was a very last minute decision to do this marathon, and there were brief periods of time where I felt I’d rather be in the comforts of my own home, but of course, as with every race, I was very glad I went through with it after it was over. I don’t know when my next marathon will be, if I will do another in the coming months or wait until next fall, but I feel like my view on marathons, how intimidated I have been by them, has changed a lot in the past week. I’ve learned how to be smarter during a race, and I can now look forward to doing them with some confidence rather than fear and dread.

Galveston resultsSplits:

Galveston Splits

Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Marathon Race Recap

More than two years after my last disastrous marathon where I started out with high expectations and the wheels fell off around mile 20 (prompting me to swear I would never run a marathon again), I set out for Marathon #3 and found that the lessons I learned last time around were very valuable and got me to the finish line despite being a bit under-trained.

The weekend started on Friday when we drove into Luling and spent the night at my parents’ house. On Saturday I ate a big breakfast of pancakes and an omelet, then later had pho at MoPho in New Orleans before heading to the marathon expo. Pho seems like a great pre-marathon meal, lots of noodles and meat and vegetables.

The expo was packed even though when we got there, there was only 3 hours left until it closed. Packet pickup went smoothly and though I had my heart set on buying some special marathon merchandise to commemorate the occasion, nothing struck my fancy. The clothing selection exclusively by Brooks was very limited and very expensive.

EXPOWe checked into our hotel and that night we had Italian food at Frank’s in the French Quarter. I got French fries and Italian Sausage Spaghetti. It was OK. Back at the hotel by 8:30, I laid everything out and prepared to go to sleep. I think I got a decent amount of sleep considering my first alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. I ate most of my bagel and PB, got dressed, then got back in bed because I was still tired! My second alarm went off at 6:50 a.m.

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I loved being so close to the start. The official start time was 7:30, but since I was in corral 12 I knew it wouldn’t even be until around 8 or so before I got to start. I left the hotel at 7:15 with no concerns. I used an old space blanket from a previous RnR race to keep warm in my corral. The temperature wasn’t that bad but we were situated between tall buildings which created a fierce wind tunnel. You would think being packed in like sardines would help, but it didn’t. Without the wind, it would have felt great.

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So as we got to the starting line and they started to count down for my corral, my Garmin was STILL “getting location.” I had to start the race without it. Going in to this race, I really had no “official” goal, though I said to myself that I would be pleased to finish under 5 hours considering my slacking training. I was just leery of the second half after how badly my last marathon went from mile 20 and on. So I set out prepared to run slow, fuel consistently, stay very hydrated, and just temper my expectations.

Throughout the race I had my Polaroid Cube in my hand to take pictures. They were often hit or miss – with this tiny camera, you just sort of point and aim it but there is nothing available for you to see exactly what you’re taking a picture of. These are some photos I took while waiting for the race to start:

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Our turn

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Keeping warm in Corral 12

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Started out behind the 5-hour pacer

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Crammed together

NOLA courseMile 1 – My stupid Garmin couldn’t find satellites for most of the first mile. Once it finally found a satellite, I considered waiting until the first mile marker to start it up, but decided I just needed to use it to know my pace. This turned out to be a good decision because since my Garmin mileage was off of the course completely, I never looked at the mileage part of Garmin. Thus, I was never sure where I was between mile markers, which helped me mentally. I can’t be sure, but I think my first mile was like 12 minutes because of the congestion and narrow pathway.

Miles 2-6: I kept a pretty tempered pace as we ran down St. Charles Avenue for several miles and then turned around to go back the same way we came. The sun was out and the sky was cloudless, so the shade provided by all the buildings and trees on St. Charles was important here. I was sweating some but the breeze kept it from getting too hot. I wanted to take my second gel at the mile 6 marker, but I was waiting for the water stop which never came that mile. Turns out water stops were only at odd-numbered miles for the first half. I was distressed until I could finally take the gel at the mile 7 water stop.

Meanwhile I was drinking water or Gatorade at every single water stop to stay hydrated and checking my pace. I wanted to stay under 11:25/mile (5-hour marathon pace) but I was making myself slow down whenever I was running faster than 10:40ish. This sounds slow, but I did not want to conk out in the second half of the race, as I did in my last marathon. “Conserve energy” was my mantra.

I was tempted to shout “only 20 more miles” at the 10K mark but restrained myself.

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Out and back on St. Charles Avenue

Miles 7-10 - I had several mental milestones during the first half that I was looking forward to – I have done this half marathon three times, so I knew the course and knew that once we finally left St. Charles we would be heading to the French Quarter and would be at mile 10 once we got through that area. Then a little while after that would mercifully be the course split where the halfers headed to their finish and the course would be much less congested. I didn’t really mind the heavy foot traffic during the first half, but I also knew that getting to the halfway point would make it “all downhill” from there and the course split would mark the beginning of that. So I couldn’t wait to see the halfers go.

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In the French Quarter… I apparently fogged up my lens.

Miles 11-14- After the main French Quarter part ended at mile 10, we had to run like 2+ miles down one street to get to the course split, and I had some waves of tiredness that came and went as I looked for that to arrive. When we split from the half marathoners, like 30 people around me went the half way and three people near me went the full way. I took another gel at the water stop after the split and proceeded down yet another street that they had us run down and then make a U-turn to go back the way we came. A lot of out-and-back portions in this race. So you can see all the people who are like a mile ahead of you coming in the opposite direction, which is sometimes a downer.

During the race, some of the mile markers were either just inconspicuous or turned sideways or fell down completely, or I wasn’t paying good attention, because I missed several including the 13 mile marker. I ran over a mat that I assumed was for the half marathon mark but there was no sign telling us that?

A little ways after the mile 14 marker we turned off onto another residential street.

Miles 15-25: So the second half of the course kind of made me feel like the race organizers hate runners. Like at times I felt disliked because of the course they were making me run. First off, they make you run down the street that goes past City Park where the finish line is. So you can hear music and noise coming from the finish area, see half finishers walking by with their medals and waiting for the shuttle buses to take them back downtown. Once you get past that, it’s just several miles of boring scenery-less road taking you far away from civilization. Water stops and volunteers were still great, but there were very few spectators compared to the first half.

Miles 16-18 were uneventful and I never even saw the 18 mile marker. Since I wasn’t tracking mileage on my Garmin I was kind of shocked to see the 19 mile marker come up. I ended up taking a fourth gel between miles 18-19. I felt pretty fine during this time – taking it one mile at a time, focusing on not going too fast and breathing steadily, drinking water at every stop and stretching here or there. At some point I took 3 ibuprofen which was GREAT. We again came to what was apparently an out and back as runners who were far ahead of me were coming back in the opposite direction. This led to Lakeshore Drive, which, as the name suggests, was by the lake. This was nice for a change of scenery but there were some brutal winds coming off the water which at some points created a bit of a headwind. At 20 miles I still felt decent and texted my husband to “plz” bring my hair brush when he came to the finish line “thx.”

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Out and back on Lakeshore Drive…. say hello to all the people much faster than you.

I again felt disliked at this part of the course because there were no less than three overpasses on Lakeshore Drive, so we not only had to climb them once each but we hit them again after making the U-turn.

I walked through water stops and mostly walked these uphill climbs to save energy. But as the miles climbed higher and I felt more confident I wasn’t going to have the wheels come off like at the BR Beach Marathon, I got more confident to run a little faster and not be so conservative.

Math was hard to do in my head the last hour, but based on my knowledge that I had started about 30 minutes off the gun time, I figured based on the clock at the 20-mile marker that I could do a sub-5 as long as I maintained less than 11:30-miles the rest of the way. And I knew I could do that as long as I didn’t have to walk.

During these last miles I passed a guy walking who was barefoot. He had his chip tied around his ankle, so I assume he ran barefoot the whole way. Ouch.

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More open road, around mile 23

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One of the race photos I purchased – trying to wave but looking like an airplane as I head to the finish.

Mile 26 and 0.2 – Once I hit the mile 25 marker, I sped up quite a bit and even ignored the last water stop. I was ready to be done and also really happy that I still felt good enough to run. I had had no stomach issues and no breathing issues throughout the whole race. When I saw the 26 mile sign I felt a little teary but pulled myself together to smile for the camera guys. Entering the finishing chute I saw my parents and husband waiting for me. I high-fived the announcer on my way in. The gun clock said 5:17 so I knew that I had a chip time of less than 5 hours, but I had no clue what it was.

More race photos I purchased, all from finish line area -

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And my own personal favorite, taken by my mother right after I finished:

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I have to give props to RnR – this year they had free finisher jackets for marathoners at the finish line, and unlike last year (when I did the half) I really liked the medal and also liked that it had a ribbon instead of the usual Mardi Gras bead. But for people bummed about the missing bead, you could “bead your medal” and get one at a separate station at the finish. I have enough medals with Mardi Gras beads, and the ribbon was pretty, so I didn’t care to do that.

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The finisher shirt is kind of boring!

IMG_0155My mom had been tracking me so she pulled up my profile and it showed my finishing time as 4:50:51. Only about a minute slower than my 2nd marathon but such a different feeling at the finish. Because of my lowered expectations I was smiling widely after this one, and I was crying in disappointment after the last one. I felt after this the same as I had felt after my first marathon (which was a time of 4:40 and could have been better had I not experienced stomach issues the whole time) – very proud and accomplished.

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And here are my three marathon medals side by side -

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