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I’m back for a reNUUNion!

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So today is my big return to blogging! Woo hoo! I’ve wrestled for a long time with firing the old girl up again or not…or at least posting an explanation of my quick departure…but then the days started passing by so quickly…and life happened…and I was too busy out there living it rather than staying inside and writing about it.

Before I roll right into my next adventure, I’ll say a VERY few words about where I’ve been all this time. In short, the responsibilities at my full-time job swelled tremendously (but I’m okay with it, because I love my job and I find it very fulfilling), my baby turned into a toddler who never stops and never sleeps (no, really, he never sleeps…we’re seeing a specialist), and my husband and I have decided to spend more time out on our community as a family. All of that being said, I probably won’t get back to blogging with the frequency I had before (which was almost daily) but I definitely want to make more of an effort since I really have missed the community and the outlet. I’m sure I’ll talk more about things that happened during my hiatus, but that will get written about over time.

So, what’s happening today?
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Today I am off to Salt Lake City by way off Dallas. I’m headed to UT to run Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back with Nuun Hydration! I was lucky enough to land a spot on one of Nuun’s 2012 Hood to Coast teams and I’m so excited to have a chance to reunite with a couple of my former teammates and meet some ones!

I get to run with these two cool kids again…
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If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram or Twitter during my blogging vacay (and I certainly hope you have!), you’ll know that since January of this year I have been working really, really hard to get the baby weight off. YES, I KNOW MY CHILD IS NOW 2 1/2 YEARS OLD…but, hey, it takes some women longer than others to drop that weight. And, for some of us, it takes TWO YEARS. (C’mon, I’m not alone here, right Jen-nai?) Regardless, the extra 25-30 pounds are gone and I’m feeling stronger than ever going into this event. I know that when going into a team event like this that it isn’t all about being the speediest runner on the planet, but I still want to perform well and feel like I’m contributing my best to my team. Honestly, I’ve never hit the paces I’ve been hitting lately…and, honestly, I never thought I could hit those paces. I’m running faster now than I ever did before my kiddo. Old dogs really CAN learn new tricks! WHO KNEW!?

Anyway…back to Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back…

I’m super stoked to get out of dodge for a couple of days for a little runcation. Participating in a Ragnar Relay has been on my bucket list for a while and I’m so excited that my first one is their “home race.” That’s right, the first ever Ragnar Relay was Wasatch Back, so I’m heading to where it all began!

I’m hoping my travel to UT will be smooth and everything will go as planned. Who am I kidding? “Murphy’s Law” might as well be my middle name, so we know it’s not going to be that easy. More on this later… :)

Enough about me…let me introduce you to my fellow…(drum roll, please!) 2014 Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back #NUUNjas!

(I’ve linked to their Twitter accounts — if they have them — so you can follow the action in real-time starting tomorrow at 12:30PM)

RUNNER #1: Meggan Roth
RUNNER #2: Katie Key (Is this a Katie Sandwich or a Meggan/Megan Sandwich?)
RUNNER #3: Megan Fay
RUNNER #4: George Okinaka
RUNNER #5: Cameron Smith
RUNNER #6: Carmen Hui
RUNNER #7: Sanita Ly-Smith
RUNNER #8: Keri Branca Treasure
RUNNER #9: Lisa Roehm-Gensel
RUNNER #10: Steve Beyer
RUNNER #11: Kayla Moothart
RUNNER #12: Tiffany Henness

RnR Dallas was MORE than 13.1

26 Mar

Yesterday I ran the Rock and Roll Dallas Half Marathon! It was the slowest, ugliest, and I think hardest half marathon I have ever run. My time was terrible. It was hot…and hilly. I got blisters…and I was dehydrated.

This sounds like the perfect recipe for the worst race ever, right?

Nope, not at all! Taking all of these things into account, I can honestly say it was one of the best half marathons I have ever run. Despite my “slowness” I hauled my body 13.1 miles. And that in itself is something to be proud of! Even though I posted my slowest 13.1 time, I know that deep down in my gut, I gave it everything I had, and I left everything on the course. This was the first race I can recall having to fight so hard to finish, but I did it.

Operating my post-baby body in a distance race almost felt the same as when I first started running. Its awkward, and weird, and with every step, I was reminded that I am not as strong as I once was. Humility at its finest, my friends. I had high hopes for my finish time (reasonable, yet slightly aggressive), but somewhere in the back of my brain, knowing that this race was my first solo effort distance race post-baby, I knew I had to be okay with whatever the clock said when I crossed the finish line. Surprisingly, I was.

The last two years of racing before the baby brought out this super competitive side of me (not to worry, I was most competitive with myself and not others). If I had a bad race day, I would obsess over it, beat myself up, and punish myself with restrictive diets and two-a-day workouts. Looking back, it was crazy.

This race was different. Crossing the start line with the mentality of “just do the best you can” gave me such a sense of peace. I was able to enjoy watching other runners, take in the scenery, and chat it up with my super awesome running buddy. In short, I allowed my brain to turn this race into an experience…one that I desperately needed. I have been wrestling with a lot of self doubt lately. Rock and Roll Dallas was more than just the 13.1 miles of the course…it was a giant leap over my mental 13.1 hurdle. While it wasn’t fast, I still did it. And you know what this means, don’t you? It means that this mama has still got it in her! HALLELUJAH!

Pre-race breakfast! YUM!

So now about the race…here is the good, the bad, and the ugly…

I was not ready for the hills.
“Hill work” in South Louisiana is almost non-existent. I put it in quotes because the city I live in barely has hills. We often do hill training on the overpasses or rolling mounds that we like to call hills. Let’s just say that the exaggerated piles of dirt that we call hills were not proper training for the inclines that we experienced from Mile 3 through Mile 8.

I was not ready for the heat.
In the past few weeks, Louisiana has seen rising temperatures. Being a girl that loves the summer heat, I did not think this would be an issue. I was SO wrong. Even though I have been doing some long runs in the heat, they had been in the evening, when the sun was not so high up in the sky. Though the course was absolutely beautiful, it did not bring much in the way of shade. I felt like the sun was blazing right down on us…and it was, as evidenced by my sunburned shoulders and cheeks today.

I got blisters.
Bodyglide was no match for the awkward foot falls that resulted in all that hill-climbing. In getting dressed for the race, I rubbed that stick of Bodyglide over every inch of each foot…on the tops, sides, bottoms, all around the toes, and all around the ankle. Sadly, the anti-friction super power of Bodyglide was all gone by Mile 5. This was the first time I have EVER experienced a blister while using Bodyglide. When I first starting to feel the hot spots (under the two smallest toes, both feet), I was completely thrown off. I probably should have stopped at the medical tent for some attention, but we pushed on!

I was dehydrated.
This is completely my own fault. I drank lots of water on Thursday and Friday before the race…more than 90oz each day, at least. Saturday, however, was a different story. I know it sounds ridiculous, but drinking water COMPLETELY slipped my mind. Erica and I were having so much fun in the car and I was so distracted, it didn’t even occur to me to drink water. I think my subconscious also had something to do with the sabotage because lots of water drinking leads to lots of bathroom stops…and we were just too excited to get to Dallas! In my bag I packed my hand held Amphipod and Nuun, but at the last minute, I decided not to carry it, thinking there would be plenty of hydration stations along the way. What a bad idea. While there we lots of water stops, they weren’t where I needed them to be…which let to panic and stressing on my part. Let’s just say, lesson learned.

Despite all of these hiccups, I had an awesome day…

  • I ran my fastest 5k that I have run in MONTHS. The first 3.1 miles was around the 32:00 mark.
  • This led to my fastest 10k in my last three 10k run distances. 6.2 miles was around the 01:09:00 mark.
  • Miles 3 through 8 were uphill…and exhausting.
  • Miles 6 through 8 were mostly walked. We were running out of steam and those hills were murder.
  • I had “heard” that after you get past the crest of the hill at Mile 8 that it was a sloping downhill all the way to the finish. Huh. I’m not sure where the sloping downhill went, because it seemed pretty even to me. I still need to download the info from my Garmin and see the actual elevation statistics.
  • Miles 8 through 10 were run in intervals…3:00 minute push, 1:00 minute recovery.
  • I ran out of gas at Mile 10 and I was TIRED.
  • Miles 10 through 13 were a fight. I repeated my mantra, fought for every quarter of a mile, and dreamed about the beer at the end. I WILL NOT DIE. I WILL NOT DIE. I WILL NOT DIE.
  • The last 0.1 mile was JOYOUS. I caught the eye of my friend, I picked up the pace, and I did a little dance across the finish line. It was spectacular!

And 02:47:53 later…I was done. And smiling.

I drank a couple of these…

Chocolate milk, I love you.


…and these.

EARNED.


Making the whirlwind trip to Dallas and back with Erica was a blast! Having a friend by your side to keep you motivated when you feel like calling it quits is so important. I needed her to keep me going, and her antics left me with no lack of entertainment! And with all of her on-route photo taking, I think she has a new nickname…the Touristy Runner! It has a ring to it, yes?

While I had a great race experience, I can assure you that I will never again post a time this slow for a half marathon. It isn’t that I am embarrassed by my time or anything like that, it is just that I prefer to move faster. Basically, if I am going to be investing that much time running a race, I want it to be for a full marathon and not a half (just my personal preference). More extensive training is definitely needed before I register for another half marathon. Getting a happy trigger finger when signing up for races isn’t always the smartest plan. Moving forward, I am looking to do a fall half marathon and possibly an early winter full marathon. For the next 12 weeks or so, the goal is to bring the mileage/run down, increase run frequency to get my body really comfortable, and increase strength training (which, I will admit, I really don’t like to do). Necessary evils!

I have another race in mind, but I have to work out the details and logistics before I put it out there in the universe.

One last thing before I wrap this up…I just want to say that the support you can find from other runners across the Twitterverse and blogosphere is truly amazing. I appreciate every kind word that was sent our way on race day. It means so much. It just goes to show you that despite all the negativity you hear on the news or read in the paper, there are a lot of really awesome and thoughtful people in the world.

How was YOUR weekend? Did you race or get in a long run? How did it go?

Baby Key’s First Race!

12 Mar

I had absolutely no intention of racing this weekend. I really didn’t, but…I did. And it was fun…really, REALLY fun.

Friday night I went out to dinner with my family (and some new friends!) and since I had no plans of racing, I enjoyed some empanadas and a margarita. It had been a tremendously long week and I was looking forward to sleeping in a little bit on Saturday morning. But then, the Race Monster bit me.

Ole!


After dinner, I got a text from a friend reminding me that the Ozone Run 10k was happening the next morning in Covington, LA. The Ozone Run 10k happens to be the Louisiana State 10k Championship race, so knowing that there would be some good runners to watch, I started considering it. All of a sudden, I was trying to figure out how I could get over there the next morning to run as well. I knew my BabyJogger running stroller was out of commission, as it is in desperate need of a tune-up and a new front tire, so if I was able to make it out to the race, I would have to push Baby Key in the monstrous (read = HEAVY) Chicco stroller.

I knew there was no way the “touring stroller” would make it the full 10k, but my friend, who was the race director, texted me and told me that there was a 2-mile option for the race. I had not run “just a 2-miler” in ages and it seemed like the perfect distance for me and Baby Key. I asked my husband sweetly if he minded us going (under the guise that this would give him the chance to sleep in and have some time to himself, of course), he agreed, and we were set! Little Nugget must have known we had a big Saturday morning, because for the first time since he was born, he slept. My child actually slept…for 8 hours straight!

I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a champ! I quickly got kiddo dressed and we headed over to the Northshore. We got to the race early and had the chance to visit with lots of my friends. This was their first chance meeting Baby Key, so he was definitely Mr. Popularity.

At 8:00AM, I headed over to the start of the race to line up. You should have SEEN the looks I got lining up with that big freaking stroller. The glances said, “Ooooh no! She must not run much. Anyone who really runs would know you can’t run with a stroller like that!”

Yes, people, I know I looked like a moron lining up to race with the same stroller that I would take if we were going for a day-long excursion to the zoo, but I did not have a choice. It was the only stroller I had, so it would have to do.

The race started at 8:15AM and 2 miles and 22 minutes and 58 seconds later, Baby Key and I were crossing the finish line! The last quarter mile of the race was on a track, which was GREAT for us! I pushed it a little bit harder and we ended up being able to pass three people right at the end! 22:58 for 2 miles is by no means “speedy” but for pushing what felt like a load of bricks, I was pretty pleased with it!

So here it is…Me and Baby Key’s first race together….

Our first race together!


Even better? We placed 1st in my age group. Granted, it was not a huge race, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I will take it!

[SIDE NOTE: I do not, under any circumstances, recommend running with a big, fat comfy stroller. It was so hard and so heavy and SO hard to steer. Lesson learned...need to get my BabyJogger fixed STAT!]

After the race, we hung around to visit it with more friends that I do not get to see often enough. I did spend a long time chatting with my friends, Jodi and Betsy (who happens to be the Louisiana State RRCA Representative) and we made plans for a way to redeem ourselves for all having pulled a DNS at the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon. I will tell you about that later, but it is going to be fun!

Right before I left, I went over to introduce myself to Rachel Booth. If you do not know who Rachel is, just take a second to Google her. Her running resume is impressive, to say the least, and she was the first female finisher at the Ozone Run 10k. Her finish time qualified her for an elite corral at the Crescent City Classic 10k in a few weeks! She is such a joy to watch. She is such a strong runner and she makes it look completely effortless. I am really impressed with the way she balances having an outstanding running career, being a wife, and being a mom to two little ones. On top of all of that, she’s just nice…like sincerely sweet. It is always fun to meet someone who you look up to and find out that they are as genuine as you hoped they would be.

After the race, we headed home and spent the afternoon playing around the house and watching Dinosaur Train. Yes, folks, it is an exciting life I lead!

Did YOU race this weekend? How did you do? Did you run solo or with your kiddo(s)?

A Gut-Wrenching DNS

6 Mar

This past weekend I experienced my first-ever DNS. I really do not want to talk about it. While I did miss the race for a very good reason, I would be lying if I said I was not still pissy about it. I wanted this race. This was going to be MY race. All of the other races I had been a part of this year had been relays or shorter distances. This was to be my return to solo effort distance racing. But alas, it was not meant to be…

Here is how all of the events from the weekend went down…

FRIDAY
Friday I arrived to the Ernest R. Morial Convention Center around 10:30AM. I went over and checked out the booth space for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series (where I would be working), finished getting it set up, and then headed over to the press conference at 11:30AM. I ran into some of my girls, Rivers and Heather!

@RivsHughey and me!


@runningwithsass and me!


After the press conference, I headed over to the booth to get ready for the circus. The doors opened at noon and there was a really, really long line of people waiting to get in!

There was a lull in the crowd for about 3.27 seconds, so I seized my opportunity to go and pick up my goods. EXCITED?? You bet I was!

After the expo, I hauled my tired body back to my car and drove back to Baton Rouge for the night. The drive is only about an hour, but it felt like DAYS. When I got home, I spent some time with my husband and kiddo, packed up all my stuff for the race on Sunday and shuffled my way to bed.

SATURDAY
On Saturday, I was up and on the road at 6:30AM. The expo opened at 9:00AM, but I had a few things I needed to do before the doors opened. I still got there a little early, so I visited with Heather, whose Running Skirts booth had now been moved right around the corner from me! Woot! I couldn’t resist purchasing this little number…

Photo courtesy of runningskirts.com


I spent the morning chatting with excited marathoners and half-marathoners, dancing to the old school tunes coming from the Sweaty Bands booth which was right behind us, and getting amped about race day!

At 1:00PM, I made my way over to the black and red balloon arches for the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon Social Media Mash-Up! It was a blast! I got to meet so many Twitter friends from all over the country! I love turning online friends into in-real-life friends! We all go super cute t-shirts and some Gu gels!

After the meet-up, I went back to the booth I was working. It got CRAZY on Saturday afternoon, y’all. CRAZY. I could not even begin to put an exact number on how many thousands of people I probably talked to. Every now and then, while I was talking with someone they would suddenly look at me as if a light bulb had just gone off in their head and they would say, “Hey! I read your blog!” and that made me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Those people automatically got a high five and a big hug!

@RunRockNRoll, @Bama26point2, and me!


As the clock struck 7:00PM, the expo drew to a close and I was beat. Standing on your feet for two days in a row on a hard surface can really make your legs sore! I had no idea! Needing some grub and an adult beverage (or two), a couple of buddies and I headed off to Mulate’s for some fried catfish and other South Louisiana fare.

And this is where it all went south….

First, I exchanged text messages with my husband…

Then I texted my friend, Ann, who I was supposed to be spending the night with…

Then, I texted Brent back.

My husband gets migraines. Really, really bad (read = debilitating) migraines…headache, light chasers, nausea, etc. Pair that with a screaming, fussy, sick GERD baby and you have a recipe for disaster. And that, my friends, is exactly what we had on our hands. It was NO BUENO.

I know with all my heart that I made the right decision to not race on Sunday. But I just cannot seem to shake the “bummed” feeling about it.

This race was “my thing”…my one thing that I wanted to be really selfish about. I know this sounds ridiculous, but this was my thing that I did not have to share with my husband (as his wife) and I did not have to share it with my kiddo (as his mama). This race was going to be 100% my thing and I wanted to do it for myself.

And I suppose I would not be so antsy if I had another fun race planned and on the books. But I don’t. RnR NOLA was supposed to be my “big race” before I took a step back, refocused, got a new plan, and started training differently. However, now that I did not run it, I sort of feel like I am just hanging out there…not really sure what my next move should be.

Do I find another race to make “mine”? If so, how do I justify the cost and just WHERE can I fit in my schedule?

Do I scrap the idea of an immediate “redemption race” altogether and start a new training plan with a different goal race later this year?

I think I will sit down with a calendar today and look at what the rest of the year holds. There are some pretty big plans later this year (which I will divulge as soon as I can!) and I want to see what kind of wiggle room I can find in my schedule.

UPDATE ON BABY KEY
Sunday was spent mostly in the house, making Little One as comfortable as possible. Every time he took a breath it sounded like liquid was gurgling in his chest. While I was very concerned, he was not running a fever, so we decided not to take him to Urgent Care. Yesterday, however, we spent just about our entire day in the doctor’s office. After our first appointment with the doctor, x-rays were schedule to rule out pneumonia. Luckily, the x-rays showed no pneumonia and he was diagnosed with a serious (recurring) case of bronchiolosis. We were sent home with a breathing machine, which is now ours to keep. Lucky us! Nexium has now been bumped up to twice a day and albuterol breathing treatments three times a day. I know the breathing treatments are not the end of the world, but I am just so ready to have a healthy little nugget!

So, how was YOUR race weekend? What did I miss!?

Race Recap: 2012 Rouge-Orleans 126.2 Ultramarathon Relay

16 Feb

This past Saturday morning at 4:30AM, I woke up to the sound of Baby Key crying. Normally, this would be a non-issue in my house, as that is his normal waking time, but this day was different. My alarm was not scheduled to go off until 5:15AM and Saturday, of all days, was a day that I would need every single second of extra sleep.

My team, Girls On The Geaux, was preparing to set out on a 24-hour ultramarathon relay adventure called the Rouge-Orleans! Our wave started at 8:00AM, but we had everyone picked up and at the start of the race by 7:00AM. Team captains had to be there an hour early in order to have our safety gear (headlamps, flashlights, safety vests, etc.) checked by the race director. After we got all checked in, we spent the next hour decorating our van. On Saturday morning, the temperature was about 40 degrees and there was pretty heavy wind. Oh, if we had only known what was to come!

Meet our van, Rapunzel.


Check out our sheVANigans at...#GirlsOnTheGeaux!


Me, Kristyn, Lindsey, Jenn, Erin, and Heather


Leg 1 of the 8:00AM wave got started promptly with a firing of the canon from the USS Kidd. The race website had mentioned this, but somehow I had forgotten. When it went off, I swear I almost peed my pants. Good thing I didn’t though…that would have been a looooooong day in pee-pants. :D

Our 6-person relay team went like this…Kristyn –> Erin –> Heather –> Lindsey –> Katie –> Jenn. God bless my sweet friend Jenn for being the anchor leg. Seriously, that was some tough mileage.

Legs 1 – 6 (Mileage: 27.45 miles)
Time: 8:00AM Saturday – 1:12PM Saturday

As expected, this was the happiest round for us. As soon as the race got started, the fun began. The sun was out and it was shaping up to be a gorgeous day! Though still cold and windy, the weather was tolerable because there was not a cloud in the sky and we were running on the scenic Mississippi River Levee. At this point, all of us were still bouncing off the walls and excited to be there! At each exchange, we chatted with other runners, crews, and teams…discussing training, strategy, and, of course, food.

Doing what we do best...ninja-style!

Highlights of Round 1: Our van got gnomed by Team Rolling with My Gnomies! They gave us the cutest antenna topper ever! We started tracking all of the other teams on Twitter by using the #RO12 hashtag! Watching their progress was really fun and a great interactive way to stay connected to other teams.

Lindsey coming in for the hand-off!


Best hand-off face EVER, Jenn!


We got GNOMED!


Legs 7 – 12 (Mileage: 27.50 miles)
Time: 1:12PM Saturday – 6:19PM Saturday

As we moved into the second half of the day, we were still having a ball! Once we figured out how much time we really needed at each exchange, we fell into a comfortable groove of getting to the next exchange, tagging our runner, and refueling with our Nuun and sandwiches. The temperatures crept up in the early part of the afternoon, and at one point we were even able to peel off some layers! After my leg of this round was done, I distinctly remember saying, “Man, I got hot out there.” (That would be the last time I would say that.) In this round, Erin had her longest run at 7.3 miles. On this leg, she passed the Carville Leper Colony…which was the site of the only hospital that treated leprosy in the United States. CRA-ZAY! She also passed a creepy cemetery and I am disappointed to report that she saw no ghosts. Bummer! Add to that the fact that on this leg the road diverts far away from the levee so we couldn’t even watch her run. Oh, and add to THAT the fact that she got chased by dogs about 0.6 miles into her leg, causing her to tire much too early in her run. Pushing the tiredness and overall creepiness of this leg aside, Erin finished like a champ! On Jenn’s run, the last leg of this round, the sun started going down and we had to break out the safety gear! C’mon, who doesn’t love a headlamp! We all posted good times on Round 2 and going into Round 3, we were about 30 minutes ahead of our anticipated pace.

Highlights of Round 2: We got to meet the awesome crew for Meredith Dolhare. Seriously, if you have a chance, check out her website and how badass she is! Also on these legs, we encountered lots of wildlife on the levee. Heather was fully prepared to handle any livestock she encountered by making sure she ran with her 1 million volt Tazer. No really, she did. That girl wasn’t messin’ around! At one of the exchanges, we got to meet the super fly girls from Team Hippie and A Ginger! Very cool girls! Oh, and Kristyn ran her fastest 2 miles ever!!

Waiting to see Kristyn!


A gorgeous afternoon!


"Imma Taze me a cow!" ~ Heather


Finishing up Leg 2! Sun starting to set!


Runners on the levee at sunset!


Jenn ready to take it from day to night!


Legs 13 – 18 (Mileage: 24.86 miles)
Time: 6:19PM Saturday – 11:55PM Saturday

Well, this is where all the fun stuff sort of ends. *sigh* It was on round 3 that things went from good to bad. As nightfall settled in, the temperatures quickly dropped from the 40’s down into the low 20’s. Considering the 20mph winds up on the levee, the “real feel” temperature was in the upper teens. In all honesty, it was awful. I mean, really, really terrible. Let’s put it this way, since I moved back to Louisiana in December 2010, this was the coldest overnight low it had been since then. IT. WAS. PAINFULLY. FRIGID. Once the sun went down, our plan was to run and then when your leg was done, you hop on the bike and pace the next runner. During daylight hours, running on the levee is quiet and relaxing. At night, when you can’t see anyone in front of your or behind you, the dark can be extremely disorienting…making every tenth of a mile feel like half a mile. We planned to have someone on the bike to assist the runner to help keep the runner motivated and moving along. This was a really, really bad idea. Going from running to riding really did a number on our legs. While running, we were able to keep our bodies warm. However, getting on the bike allowed the cold to sink deep into our bodies. Riding at the runner’s pace was not fast enough to keep the rider warm. By the time each of us got back in the van from our running leg, we were exhausted. It took each of us about an hour and a half to warm back up…which meant that right as we were warming up, it was almost time to get back out there again. These Louisiana and Mississippi girls were NOT built to handle these temperatures. Give me 100 degree weather with 90% humidity over cold and windy any day!

Really not a good look.


On a personal note, this is the leg where my cold-weather asthma really took a toll on me. Sadly, I forgot my inhaler. I wheezed and coughed the entire leg. When it was my turn to hand off to Jenn, I had an extremely hard time getting going on the bike. The helmet was too small and the bike seat was too high. My fingers were numb up to the second knuckle so adjusting both proved to be nearly impossible. I ran down the levee to the van and begged my teammates to loosen the helmet and help me lower the seat. Of course, my girls were there for me. However, by the time I finally got going on the van, Jenn had already started running and was well into her leg. I had to pedal overtime in order to catch up with her. By the time I got to her, I realized that hypothermia/asthma attack was taking over. When I caught up to her I wanted to ask her how many more miles she had to go before we could get back to the van. In my head, this questions was coming out of my mouth. In reality, I couldn’t the lower half of my face. My lips were literally freezing and my tongue felt thick and solid. The only words I could really get out were “mileage” and “I need help.” When Jenn saw what bad shape I was in, we stopped. I got off the bike and pushed my face into my shoulder, desperately trying to breath warmer, humid air. Jenn, seeing how bad off I was, said she would call the van to come and get me. I refused to leave my friend out there, on the levee, in the middle of the night. Thankfully, we were only about a 1.5 miles to the end of the leg. The whole situation was so scary and I have never felt anything like that before. I was seriously happy to see the van at the next exchange.

Lowlights of Round 3: Cold temperatures + Fatigue = VERY quiet Girls On The Geaux van. We tried our best to stay positive despite the cold, but quite frankly, there were A LOT of curse words thrown around the van during these miles. The question, “Wait, WHY did we want to do this again?” was said A LOT. Unfortunately, all the good pacing we had earlier in the day caught up to us. The nighttime cold meant we moved slower and breathed harder. It was rough.

Cold. Quiet. Dark. Still.


Legs 19 – 24 (Mileage: 22.37 miles)
Time: 11:55PM Saturday – 5:30AM Sunday

Round 4 was DIRTY. Team Girls On The Geaux was cold and tired and we fought for every single mile. The van stayed pretty quiet during these hours in hopes of giving some of us a chance to catch at least a few winks.
Lowlights of Round 4: Unable to find the port-a-potties in the dark, several members of the team may or may not have bare-butted it and peed right on the side of the levee. Just sayin’. Around 3:30AM, we had to make an executive decision. The cold was really doing a number on us and we felt that it was almost dangerous for us to be out there. We were having such a hard time warming up and knew that we needed a break. Although it was our goal to finish in 25 hours, we made the decision to stop and rest for an hour. We had to. It was either rest and let everyone warm up, or risk not finishing at all. We had come to far not to cross that finish line, so rest we did. I wish we would not have had to but it was the smart thing for us to do.

Legs 25 – 30 (Mileage: 24.19 miles)
Time: 5:30AM Sunday – 10:55AM Sunday

Round 5 brought better spirits to the van! As the sun came up, we all perked up a little, but it would be the understatement of the century to just say that we were ready to be done. We were all so close to the finish line and we were fighting tooth and nail to get there. This round brought lots of tears and a lot of walking. I am so proud of each of my teammates for getting back out there and fighting through to the end. Jenn’s IT band started to act up but she pushed through her entire last leg. The race ended in Audobon Park and as soon as we saw that big, blue inflatable finish line, we knew victory was ours.

FINISHERS. BAM!


I have LOTS of advice about what worked for our team, what did not work for our team, what we brought and did not need, items we wished we had, etc. That is an entire post in itself. I will get to all that this weekend, so be on the lookout!

Again, a massive huge epic THANK YOU to all of our sponsors. Without you, we would not have gotten this far.

To 110% Play Harder,
After Round 3 of running, there is nothing that felt better than pulling on my perfectly snug calf sleeves. Not only did they provide an extra layer of warmth while out on my run, but they also helped keep my calves feeling fresh and energized. I’m proud to say that after the event, I did not experience one iota of calf soreness! SUCCESS!

To Brooks Running,
The Cascadia 7s were the most perfect shoe for running this terrain. Normally I wear a more minimal shoe, but on the rocks and uneven levee, the Cascadias provided the ideal amount of support and cushion. The Cascadias are an amazing shoe!
(insert pic)

To GO Sport ID,
Thank you for keeping us safe. I had no idea how scary it would be up on that levee, out in the middle of nowhere, all alone. Our ID bands gave us the peace of mind to know that should anything happen to us, that our loved ones would be able to notified quickly.

To Nuun,
Thank you for keeping Team Girls On The Geaux hydrated. With the freezing temperatures, it was often hard to convince ourselves to keep hydrating but the tasty fizziness of Nuun made drinking freezing cold water much more palatable. By the end of the race, several teams were calling us the Nuun Girls!

To Running Skirts,
Thank you for the awesome purple plaid running skirts! When undertaking an adventure such as this, it is always easier when you are doing it in STYLE! We tried our best to put a running skirt on our van, which we appropriately named Rapunzel! The running skirt was super comfortable and the fabric, design, and fit are excellent. Thank you!

To Drink Chia!,
Thank you for the awesome chia drinks! After a couple of the legs, I was not really interested in eating heavy food, but the chia drinks helped give me much-needed calories and nutrition without making me feel too weighed down. The texture took a little getting used to, but the drinks were delicious!

To Barber & Mann, 1st Choice Real Estate, and Good Shepherd Christian Academy,
Thank you so much for your financial support of Team Girls On The Geaux. With your contributions, Team Girls On The Geaux was able to contribute $550 to the Girls On The Run of Greater Baton Rouge. GOTR provides incredible programs to the girls in our communities and we appreciate you helping us help them!

To PROBAR,
Thank you so much for all of the bars! The Old School PB&J is the best and was super tasty around 2:30AM! We were able to share with some of the runners in other vans and every said how delicious they were! Thank you for keeping our tummies full and our bodies fueled!

To Icelandic Glacial,
Thank you for all the water!! Runners could not do what we do without water and Icelandic Glacial tastes awesome! After leg 10, my teammate Lindsey took a swig and looked at me and said, “Man, this is REALLY good water!” It made me smile!

To Enterprise,
Thank you for the GIGANTIC Econoline van! It was massive and FANTASTIC! Even though we overpacked big time, we still had plenty enough room for all of us, our food, water, and medical gear. We even had enough room left on the seats to stretch out our legs and nap a little between legs. And, surprisingly, it was really great on gas too! Way better than I expected!

To Giraphic Prints,
Thank you for the most awesome team tech shirts! Having matching shirts made us feel like a real team and we were so proud to be able to display all of our sponsors on it! You did a great job!!

To my fellow Girls On The Geaux,
Thank you for this incredible experience. We laughed, we cried, we danced, and we ran. Boy, oh boy, did we run! We shared stories, we helped each other, we got aggravated with each other, and we hugged. I could not have imagined tackling this adventure with a better group of girls. We only barely knew each other when this trip began, but I feel like we are running buddies for life! Who knows what fun things might bring Team Girls On The Geaux later this year and into 2013!! Keep on running, ladies!

Photo Credits: Erin Parker Skinner, Krisytn Gunter, Heather Montgomery, Jenn Macha-Hebert, Lindsey deBlieux, and Evin Beck.

Inaugural 2012 Louisiana Marathon

20 Jan

*WHEW*

The inaugural Louisiana Marathon was last weekend and everything seemed to go off without a hitch. Race directors, committee members, and volunteers worked tirelessly for over a year to help bring this first-class event to Louisiana. I could not be prouder to have served on the committee for this race and I am super, crazy excited about next year! I will be posting a video soon about what the Louisiana Marathon meant to me on a personal level soon, but if you are wondering how it all went, check out this recap I wrote for nola.com/running!

If you are seeking a destination race or if you are a Marathon Maniac or Half Fanatic, I seriously urge you to consider adding this race to your bucket list. I am not just saying that because of my involvement with this race. I am suggesting it as a fellow runner. In fact, I ran it too.  Do it…you will not regret it!

2012 Louisiana Marathon

History was made in Baton Rouge last weekend with the running of the inaugural Louisiana Marathon. Drawing over 2,800 runners from 46 states and 12 countries, the Louisiana Marathon presented runners with Louisiana’s first multi-format race.

In creating the event, Race Director Craig Sweeney made sure to present a race that runners of all levels could participate in. The Louisiana Marathon featured a 5k, Half Marathon, Marathon, and Marathon Relay, allowing it to seem approachable for runners of every ability, from seasoned runners to newbies.

Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series

Everything about the Louisiana Marathon dripped with our rich culture and history. The scenic route of the course took runners through downtown, around the LSU lakes and LSU campus, and through Mid-City with the start and finish line near the State Capital. For 26.2 miles, runners were greeted with warms smiles and signs of encouragement from volunteers at water stations and supporters who camped out along the route. At the finish line, runners were awarded with a beautiful medal (which happens to double as a bottle opener!), delicious food, and incredible music from New Orleans locals, the Bucktown All-Stars!

Runners could not have asked for more perfect weather on race day. Cloudless skies and temperatures in the mid-40s made for an ideal start at 7:00AM. The mild elevation of the course allowed runners to race hard and fast around the Capital City. For the runner looking to set a PR, this seemed to be the perfect event.

Photo courtesy of The Lousiana Marathon Company

Top finishers in the race posted some incredible times. For the marathon, Baton Rouge native, Matt Manning, was the first-place finisher with an impressive time of 02:33:42. Karen Meraw, hailing from Detriot, MI was the first female finisher at 2:58:54, pulling in 7th place overall. For the half marathon, the top male award went to Jonathan Granger of New Iberia with a powerful time of 01:17:45 and the top female award went to Kelly Nicholas of New Orleans with a time of 01:29:52.

For an inaugural race, the Louisiana Marathon was extremely well executed and clearly surpassed everyone’s expectations. Don’t believe me? Just check out the comments left on the Louisiana Marathon facebook page. Compliments abound and many out-of-towners and Marathon Maniacs have said they eagerly anticipate returning next year! But don’t think for one second that all of this great response means that race directors plan to sit back and relax.

“Based on the feedback, we plan to fine tune what worked and overhaul things that we need to in order to make adjustments regarding the course. The goal is to make everything tighter, more defined, and even better for next year,” says Sweeney. The 2013 Louisiana Marathon is already in the works and over 330 runners have already registered for next year’s race! There is no doubt that an event of this caliber will grow and continue to attract runners from all over the world. The Louisiana Marathon has put our state on the map for the running community and for making strides to promote healthier lifestyles!

For more information on the race and to register for next year, be sure and check out www.thelouisianamarathon.com.

Complete race results can be found at www.thelouisianamarathon.com/race-results/.

To see photos from the Louisiana Marathon, check out www.sportphoto.com.

2011 Gulf Coast Half Marathon Louisiana Northshore

10 Oct

This was the race recap from this weekend’s Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Mandeville, LA.  This was written for nola.com/running, but I thought some of you might enjoy reading it as well!  I hope you like it!

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Yesterday, the Gulf Coast Half Marathon series wrapped up the 2011 race series with the Gulf Coast Half Marathon Louisiana Northshore.  Even though the race weekend culminated with yesterday’s half marathon, race weekend events kicked off much earlier in the week.  Packet pick-up was available on Wednesday and Thursday at the Varsity Sports locations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, respectively.  On Friday and Saturday the packet pick-up was held on Varsity Sports Mandeville, which also hosted the expo featuring great deals from shoe and apparel vendors and information about other upcoming races.

Medals.jpg

Friday night, the Gulf Coast Half Marathon hosted the 2nd Annual Joe Relaxo Shrimp Boot Stroll.  Several hundred participants made the stroll from The Lake House to Barley Oak to raise funds for Save Our Shore, a non-profit created to aid recovery efforts among victims of the BP oil spill and encourage restoration of the Gulf Coast’s fragile ecosystems.  It was the perfect way for racers to relax and get ready for Sunday’s festivities!

Sunday morning started out breezy and cool with some racers fearing it might just be TOO chilly. However, by the 7:00AM race start, temperatures had warmed up to right around 70° F with light winds around 18mph…nearly perfect racing conditions for October in South Louisiana.  The sun was shining high and all of the participants seemed excited and anxious for the race.  Runners started entering the corral in beautiful Fontainebleau State Park around 6:40AM, and by the gun start, all 1,149 racers were on their way!

KWenstrom.jpg

The majority of the half marathon route took runners through Old Mandeville, running past Pelican Park, historic homes, along Lakeshore Drive, and finishing back in Fontainbleau State Park.  Race participants were welcomed to the post-race party by the sounds of The Lewinskys playing on the Abita Beer main stage, food provided by Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, and massages by Jones Physical Therapy.

The flat and fast course offered impressive finish times for many race participants, with the average race time being 02:19:53.  The top overall male and female finishers as follows:

MALES

  1. Rich Bouckaert  01:17:37
  2. Tom Luongo  01:21:23
  3. Billy Borrouso  01:23:19

FEMALE

  1. Kristin Wenstrom  01:22:36
  2. Courtney Cooper  01:23:54
  3. Samantha Mazer  01:26:42

Race participants were treated to 12 water and aid stations along the route, with each station competing to win a cash prize for a charity of their choice.  Water stations were judged on cheerfulness, ample supply of Gatorade and water, and cleanliness.  The Northshore Cross-Country team came in first place, collecting $1,000 for their school’s team, Varsity Sports won the second place prize, donating $500 to Save Our Shore, and Team in Training collected the third place prize of $250 for their charity’s fundraising.

Overall, this year’s Gulf Coast Half Marathon Louisiana Northshore was an overwhelming success!  Participants loved the route, had a great time racing, and many have already expressed an interest in running again next year! Good times were definitely had by all! The Gulf Coast Half Marathon series will be returning to Mandeville next year on October 14th. However, if you are looking for a great half marathon even sooner, be sure and catch their January half marathon in Gulf Shores!  Check out the link here!

Complete race results can be found online at louisianahalf.com.

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