Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013 Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon Recap

Happy Wednesday! We’ve made it halfway through another week and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’m hoping to catch up on a lot of necessary things around my house and I’m especially looking forward to relaxing!

Here’s the link to a few Rock n Roll New Orleans recaps I’ve written so far:

I slept extremely well the night before the race – an amazing feat because our hotel was right on the corner of Canal and Bourbon Street! Yes, Bourbon Street! I do remember waking up at 4 a.m. to noise outside, but it didn’t keep me awake for long.

My alarm rang at 4:45 a.m. and as I was getting ready, I realized I did not prepare for this race as I should have. I text Heather and she admitted that she felt the same way. I think we both had our focus on other races this season (mine was Goofy and hers was Houston) and somehow, we let a lot of essential things slip from our mind for Rock n Roll NOLA. We kept saying “Oh I meant to bring this but I forgot it at home” or “I thought to pack that but then didn’t”. It was crazy. As I dressed for the race, the nerves began to set in. What on earth was I thinking? Not planning out each and every essential detail of the race? I must have lost my mind!

I calmed myself down, then met my dad in the lobby. He offered to walk with me to the start line which was super nice of him!


(Whoa! I’m glowing!!)


Our running group met in Corral 16 prior to the race. I found my long lost Goofy pal and had to take a picture, just  for old time sake! :0) I also found my race buddy! Yay!


After a group picture…


…and a little pep talk from our running coach, we said our goodbyes and good lucks, then made our way to our individual corrals.

All week long, the forecast for the race called for rain. We woke up on race morning to a clear blue sunny sky! Yay!


Heather and I started out in Corral 11. Our plan was to find the 4:30/4:45 pace team and follow them as long as possible.

We got in our corral and waited….and waited….

One problem. We did not see pace teams ANYWHERE. Not a single one.

OK…new game plan. Let’s pace ourselves, we can do this….right?

Remember that whole “I thought to bring it but left it at home” problem? Guess where the pace band was. Yep, at home.

Ah well no problem. Plan C?  Keep a 10ish pace for as long as possible……got it.


We neared the start line and before I knew it, we were off and running!

That whole “Keep a 10ish minute pace” strategy was a little rough the first few miles. Even though we spent most of our time bobbing and weaving through the crowd, we still maintained a fairly decent pace.

As we reached Mile 2, we began the lookout for Mo, Shalane, and Kara.


Before long, we were granted with a glimpse!


Heather asked if we could stop and cheer for them as they ran by and of course I said yes!!


These athletes are incredibly talented and inspiring!


We were on a “we just cheered for Shalane and Kara” high for several miles and it definitely helped the time pass by!


Around Mile 10, I knew I would have to work a little bit harder to attain the goal I desired to achieve at the end of the race. The roads were uneven which caused some discomfort in my feet. I asked Heather if she noticed it as well and she agreed.

Despite the bumpy roads, we continued to press on, keeping a decent pace. I kept trying to calculate the pace/finishing time in my head but finally gave up – my brain couldn’t think that far in advance!


I loved all of the crowd support and the awesome cheerleaders along the sidelines! They really helped keep us going!



We passed Jackson Square…


…and Café DuMonde – both New Orleans landmarks. The sweet smell of fried dough covered in powdered sugar lingered in the air as we ran past. Right outside of the Café were several members of our running group. It was great to see them and they cheered for us as we passed!


Mile 11 took us past a graveyard. This sign read “Cemetery Ahead. Look Alive!” I smiled and had to take a picture because the poster reminded me of the Haunted Mansion in Disney! Yes, everything relates back to Disney in my mind! 



We reached Mile 12 and I stopped for my usual picture! :0) Yes, even during a Full!


The half and the full marathoners stayed together most of the race. As the course reached the entrance of City Park, the two split apart - the half marathoners ran into City Park to cross the finish line and the full marathoners continued their course to the lake.

I have to say, it was really nice not having the half marathoners/relay-ers around after the split. The course was somewhat congested until that point and I kept getting poked or hit with relay drumsticks.


Awesome course support from onlookers! I loved these signs! One said “Just Do It….In Your Pants!” and the other read “That GU looks delicious…said no runner ever!” :0)


My favorite water stop of the entire race was the Mickey Mouse Club! The volunteers were dressed either as members of the Mickey Mouse Club or as Mickey/Minnie themselves. Adorable!


We made it to the lake and by that point, the sun began to disappear. (I did remember my sunscreen this year! Yay!)


We reached Mile 18 at 3 hours and 8 minutes. I could not believe how good I felt (the un-comfortableness in my feet started to fade as we ran on smoother ground). I kept thinking back to the previous year and how far I had come since my injury. Amazing difference!


The course continued on through several neighborhoods and over several hills, bridges, and inclines. Did I mention several? Cause it was a lot. I train on FLAT ground and I’m not a fan of inclines. Even the turn around point was in the middle of an incline. Ugh.

The course route was changed at the last minute due to the fear of flooding in certain areas so I got to see parts of NOLA I’d never seen before! As we passed a college campus building, I asked Heather if that was LSU. Really, LSU?? Obviously delirium was setting in. Must have been all of those hills we had to run over. We found out later that the campus was a part of UNO. Yes, the University of NEW ORLEANS…since we obviously were NOT in Baton Rouge. Still SMH’ing on that one.


No lie, this dude dribbled a basketball the entire race.

By the time we reached Mile 23, we were both hurting, tired, and ready to be finished. My knee only bothered me when we ran on odd roads with an incline. Other than that, I had no pain in my knee and I only had to apply BioFreeze once! I’ll be honest, it was nice to feel pain in other areas for once…and by pain, I mean the typical I’m almost finished with a marathon kind of pain – like hip soreness, feet achiness, leg fatigue, etc.

There were several times when I wanted to stop and walk or take it easy but I wouldn’t let myself. I ran hard for a really long time and I determined that I was going to continue to run as hard as possible to the end.

Around Mile 24, I passed a spectator holding a sign that read, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” –Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) A League of Their Own ….. which just so happens to be my all time favorite movie!

That phrase continued to roll over in my mind during the last two miles of the race. The race was hard and I was hurting. Like the sign read, I reminded myself that it wasn’t supposed to be easy. Nothing in life worth having comes easy. I’m not sure where I got it from, but those last two miles were some of the fastest I ran the entire race.


As I passed through one of the last turns in City Park, a song by Need to Breathe began to play on my iPod. The lyric that caught my attention said, “Show me your fire, show me your heart. You know I’d never let you fall apart, just keep your eyes open…”

I knew that’s what I had to do. Keep pressing on, keep pushing forward, keep my eyes open and before long, I’d cross that glorious finish line!


I saw my family and raised my hands in the air in triumph. After two years of training for a 5 hour marathon, my dream became a reality…finally!


That’s a look of sheer determination right there!


I crossed the finish line with a time of 4 hours and 44 minutes, well before my goal of 5 hours!


I met up with Heather’s husband after I crossed the finish line and we cheered Heather on as she crossed just moments later! We finally completed a marathon, together!


I walked on cloud 9 the rest of the day. Well, let me rephrase that…I hobbled on cloud 9 the rest of the day but it was an awesome feeling!

I realized something as we were leaving the park – this was my 4th Marathon, I finished with a time of 4 hours and 44 minutes, and I PR’d right at 40 minutes. I decided it must have been something in the water…and maybe training for Goofy’s Challenge came with added perks! Who knew?! :0)


After the race, I treated myself to a chocolate milk and a Mickey rice crispy treat. Best rice crispy treat, EVER.

Thank you so much for following along with my journey! I appreciate everyone’s support! You guys are awesome! :0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sweet Redemption

I’ll be back tomorrow with a full race recap of my experience with the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon – but for now, I want to share a few thoughts I had while running this race.

For starters, I looked to Rock n Roll New Orleans as my “redemption run”. This was my 4th Full Marathon and up until Sunday, I had yet to achieve my goal. With two fun Disney fulls and one injured full under my belt, I knew Sunday had to be different.

Last year, I trained for the Houston Marathon. I put everything into training and only weeks before the race, I became injured. I developed tendonitis and swelling in my left knee which led to 8 weeks of Physical Therapy and subsequent ITBand issues.

I was crushed that I couldn’t run the Houston Full. Along with the average marathon, Houston also hosted the Olympic Trials that weekend. Watching Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflezighi, Desi Davila, Ryan Hall, and all the other Olympic Trials hopefuls compete for the title was incredibly inspiring. I stood on the sidelines with my leg wrapped in an ACE bandage and I wished with every fiber in my being that I could go the distance, too.

On race day, I wanted to cry as I pinned the Half Marathon race bib on my shirt. I was advised by my physical therapist to run the Half Marathon instead of the Full. At the time, I knew it was the best decision but my stubborn brain didn’t want to accept it.

As I ran the Houston Half, I kept thinking back to Kara who pushed through her pain to qualify for the Olympic Trials. I hobbled along, pushing through my pain as best as possible and I gained a whole new respect for professional athletes. No, I’m not comparing myself to them AT ALL, cause I’m not. I’m not even saying that I understand them because I’m definitely not that caliber of a runner, I simply gained a new found respect for them.

I finished that Half in tears, disappointed in myself…disappointed my body let me down….disappointed at life in general. How could running, something I love SO much hurt so bad?

Flash forward to Sunday. A few weeks prior to the race, I heard that professionals like Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Mo Farah were on schedule to run the Rock n Roll NOLA Half Marathon. I could not believe I was about to travel a very similar path, just a few (or maybe more) minutes behind such greats! My running buddy Heather and I examined the course to see if we might catch of glimpse of these awesome athletes run by and as it turns out, WE DID!


There’s the pace truck followed closely behind by Mo!



Shalane and Kara!!


As the athletes flew by us, we stopped to cheer them on. I could not believe that I was running on the same roads as these incredible ladies (and gentlemen)!

We began running again and that’s when the realization hit me. THIS DAY was IT. Last year, I couldn’t even run 2 miles without excruciating pain and here I was running a marathon at a great pace with no pain at all! I kept thinking about Kara and how ironic it was that she was in New Orleans, too…just like Houston last year! I’ll admit, I told Heather my thoughts and I teared up a bit - I honestly could not believe everything that was happening at that moment. Kara will never know how much of an inspiration she’s been to me. I held onto my thoughts for several miles and continued to let them roll around in my mind.

Here it was…my redemption run….I promise you, redemption never tasted so sweet!


Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Rock n Roll New Orleans Expo

Happy Monday! I hope everyone thoroughly enjoyed their weekend! I know I had a great time in New Orleans for the Rock n Roll Marathon! I enjoyed spending time with my family, seeing friends, meeting new people, and running the race! Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend! I’ll start off with a recap of the Expo followed by the race itself. :0) 

On Saturday morning bright and early (7 a.m., thank you!) my family and I began our trip to New Orleans! I decided to take a few vitamins before we left (like I always do) – only this time, I took them after having eaten only a few bites of a banana. (Pills make me nauseated if I don’t have food on my stomach.)


After taking the pills, I ate the rest of the banana, then proceeded to foam roll while waiting on my parents. Not 20 minutes later, a huge wave of nausea hit me and….yep….everything came back up. Before you think it, NO…I’m not pregnant! I thought I felt better after that, so we got in the car and left. We were only about 15 minutes away from home (not quite to the interstate yet) when I made my dad pull off to the side of the road. It happened again.

Standing on the side of the road holding my hair out of my face, I kept thinking about the race the following morning. Was it just the vitamins I took that did this? Have I come down with a virus? What was I going to do? I was worried.

We continued driving and about 30 minutes later, my dad had to pull off to the side of the interstate. By that point, I was dry heaving. Thankfully, there was an exit nearby and we were able to locate Pepto Bismol!  After taking a dose, I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until we were in Baton Rouge. When I woke up, I felt like a new person! No more nausea and….best part….I was hungry! Thank goodness for the inventor of Pepto Bismo. He was suddenly my new best friend! :0)


We stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Gonzales for breakfast and I ordered an egg, sausage, and fruit plate (didn’t eat the grits).

After breakfast, we shopped a little bit at the outlet mall and I hit up my favorite store….Banana Republic!
Before long, we made it to New Orleans, checked into our hotel, and began the walk to the Expo.


The Expo was held at the Convention Center complete with new finishing touches to the outside (when I was here in may for a Convention, it was all under construction).


Ready to rock this thing!!


My husband didn’t tell me the mask was on my face crooked! Haha!

After walking around the Expo a bit, I received a text from a fellow Run Pink Ambassador, Mindy! She was at the Expo, too and we were finally able to meet up!


After “talking” to Mindy so much on Twitter, it was nice to finally meet face to face! (She’s a runDisney lover, too!)

We continued walking around and before long, ran into my running buddy and partner in crime, Heather!


We found a leprechaun and just had to stop for a picture! :0)


I also spotted the runDisney booth and they gave me a bag! Yay! Even though I was missing out on the Princess Half, it was nice to have a little Disney in New Orleans!


Steve Gleason was at the Expo with his booth “Team Gleason”. It was neat to see so much support for him, his charity, and ALS in New Orleans!


We stayed at the Expo for an hour, then decided to find some food! Last year, we had a really hard time finding something to eat because NOLA was super crowded. If we started early this year, we’d avoid all of that, right?


Wrong. There were LONG lines EVERYWHERE. After walking around for an hour, we finally ended up at a sports bar where I had a flatbread pizza!




After dinner, we met up with our running group for a team meeting and picture. I love these guys! They are a lot of fun to be around!

Once the meeting was finished, Jason and I hit up Pinkberry for some FroYo, then returned to our room for sleep. I had quite the eventful day and was ready to catch some zzz’s. Perhaps the best part of the day is the fact that my nausea did not return! Yay! I made sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and rehydrate myself before the race.

Up next: Rock n Roll New Orleans Full Marathon Race Recap

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