Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Louisiana Half Marathon Recap - 2015

This past weekend, I set out to do something I’ve been attempting to do for three years – PR and break the 2 hour mark in the half marathon distance. Prior to Sunday’s half marathon, my PR in the half distance was 2:01 from 2011 – an IT Band injury also accompanied that half marathon and I’ve battled with the injury off and on ever since.

When I initially registered for the Louisiana Half Marathon back in the fall, I had in mind that it would be my “goal” race.  I ran this race in 2013 and loved it. Since I was familiar with the course and the overall atmosphere of the event, I decided to make this one “it” with a backup plan of Rock N Roll New Orleans…which happens to be this upcoming weekend. I also didn’t plan on running any full marathons this year so I could give my IT Band a break and focus on this one half marathon goal.

On Tuesday of “race week”, I woke up with a sore throat. Just what I needed, right? I can’t tell you how much Airborne and Zicam I took, trying to knock out whatever germ decided to descend upon me.

By Wednesday, I wasn’t feeling better – I spent both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings lying around the house, trying to get some rest. When I started running fever on Thursday afternoon, I knew it wasn’t good. I had so much sinus congestion and pain, I just couldn’t take it anymore. After work on Friday, I decided to go to Urgent Care (which was huge for me because I’m actually really stubborn when I’m sick – I’m a nurse, what can I say?).  Urgent Care was able to patch me up and by Saturday morning, I was feeling a little bit better.

Still, I had so much doubt in my mind about the race. What was I going to do? Just go have fun with it and enjoy the day? Start off trying to achieve my goal and hang as long as possible?

After scrolling through my twitter notification feed, my eyes landed on this interaction and thoughts began to formulate in my head once again:

Louisiana Half Marathon (2)Louisiana Half Marathon

Pace groups…what did I know about pace groups? Well, I already knew that Nicole and I attempted to stay with one during the RnR NOLA full marathon last year and failed. I knew someone else who once ran with a pace team and told me that their pacer allowed them to stop for water and a potty break, but that was for the full marathon distance. Hmmm…

I decided to sleep on it and determine how I felt in the morning. Well, race morning came around and so did a croupy sounding cough. What. The. Heck. I was down and out on myself but I stopped the negative thoughts right there. I registered for this race to achieve a goal and you know what? I decided to just go for it!  If I had to drop back and slow down mid-race, then at least I tried. In the end, I wanted to be able to hold my head high, knowing that I gave it my all.

Louisiana Half Marathon (2)

Around 6 a.m., Kayla and I met up with my dad in the hotel lobby. Our race was set to begin at 7 a.m. and we had a short 2 mile drive to the start line.

Louisiana Half Marathon (3)

My first plan of action was to find the 2 hour pace team.

Louisiana Half Marathon (4)

I got as close as I could but in hindsight, I should have moved in even closer. As the first wave of runners took off, the crowd moved in and that 2 hour pace sign moved even further away….

Louisiana Half Marathon (6)

See what I mean? Great. I had visions of Rock N Roll NOLA all over again (bobbing and weaving through runners to keep up)…

Louisiana Half Marathon (7)

Luckily, I was able to make my way back up to them not long after crossing the start line! (The 4 hour marathon pacer stayed with us until they split at mile 11.)

Our pace stayed fairly consistent through the first few miles considering the crowds. I remember that my first mile was around a 9:11 and I felt really good and hadn’t coughed at all (which was odd). I also knew in the back of my mind that I was going to have to do some catch-up work because I needed to stay around a 9 minute pace.

Louisiana Half Marathon (24)

We crossed over a bridge on our way out of downtown and I remembered it from 2013’s race. I also remembered that mile 12 was somewhere around that bridge and if I wanted to finish strong, I needed to have enough left in my tank for the end of the race.

Throughout the next few miles, I stuck as close to the pacers as I could. I kept thinking, “if anyone can get me through this, they can!”

I had to laugh a bit when I heard one of the pacers holler “water on the right”! That meant water break, right? NO. It meant grab water and keep going! Okkk…so that’s how this was gonna be, huh? Nothing like a little powerade up your nose! For the remainder of the race, I alternated water and powerade with each stop. Thankfully, the temperature and weather were perfect for this race and I never felt as if I lacked hydration.

It was around mile 3 that I introduced myself to our 2 hour pacer.

His name’s Joe, he’s a fellow runDisney fan, and he’s from the south. Instant friends, right?

Louisiana Half Marathon (10)
Photo credit

I loved that he had a GoPro on his pacer sign!

We approached Tiger Stadium around mile 5 and I couldn’t believe that I was still feeling great. Our pace picked up a bit and I remember seeing a few miles on my Garmin in the 8:50’s range. I choked down a GU (while running and without water – another first) which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m so used to taking GU while walking and with a glass of water, so that feat was interesting to say the least.

Louisiana Half Marathon (9)

Death Valley!

Louisiana Half Marathon (5)

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel like death…well at least not yet, anyway….

Louisiana Half Marathon (11)

You can see the two different signs for both races here – the half and the full split around mile 11.

Louisiana Half Marathon (12)

At one point, Joe ended up with both the half AND the full pacer signs! Was that even possible? Haha!

Louisiana Half Marathon (13)

After leaving Tiger Stadium area, we approached another favorite part of this race for me…the lake and the gorgeous homes that are around it!

It was around mile 8.5 that my legs began feeling like mush. The ball of my left foot hurt like crazy and I couldn’t wiggle my toes in any way to make it stop. I knew I had to keep going and just keep up the pace. I also reaaaaaaally wanted to blow my nose (I had tissue in my flip belt), but the act of locating the tissue actually took effort and I was way too worn out for any extra effort. A little cough/congestion also set in but I managed as best as I could.

Louisiana Half Marathon (14)
Photo credit

I love this picture here because it just shows the drive and determination on my face. Music was playing and all I focused on was putting one foot in front of the other. “I CAN do this…I CAN do ALL things” was repeated over and over in my mind.

Louisiana Half Marathon (16)

I took choked down another GU around mile 9 and I was shocked at how fast the miles were really flying by. The funny and inspiring spectator signs also helped the time fly by – one of my favorites read: “YOLO – So Run FASTER”!

I loved having my playlist on my iphone along with me. Need to Breathe’s “Keep Your Eyes Open” (which helped me so much during last year’s RnR NOLA Marathon) came on at the exact moment I needed to hear it. Somehow I found enough energy to keep up the pace. Never doubt the power of good music!

As we approached mile 12 and “the bridge”, I tucked my head  and prayed that God would help me through. I didn’t want to see the bridge, I just wanted to focus on one foot in front of the other. I knew I was on target for my goal and I would be so mad at myself if I stopped. I was reminded of the bracelet on my wrist from Team413 – it simply read “Can Do ALL Things”. I wear this bracelet every time I know I’m going to push myself in a race and the reminder always makes a difference!

This was also the point where I put away my camera. I didn’t even take my traditional mile 12 picture…that goes to show you exactly how bad I felt. Not only did my legs feel like mush but so did my arms. I literally had NO energy left in my body. Somehow, I managed to tell Joe how I was feeling and he encouraged me to keep going. In my mind, I knew I had already been running for over an hour and forty five minutes straight (again, another first) – I only had a few minutes to go and I would be finished. The times were constantly counting down in my head – I started that process around an hour and thirty minutes.

As we turned onto the final road for the finish line, there it was. Only problem – it was about 0.4 miles away. Joe asked how far I started behind him and I told him not far. He told me to “go!” and go I did.

I could hear him hollering as our group neared the final chute, “2 hour half marathoners here! One fifty niners coming through!

Louisiana Half Marathon (17)

I heard my parents call out my name but all I could do was turn my head to acknowledge them. I couldn’t even muster a wave.

Louisiana Half Marathon (18)

I remember checking my watch here because I felt like I still had so far to go! The official race clock said 2:02 and I wanted to make sure that wasn’t right!

Louisiana Half Marathon (19)

Somehow (I have no idea how), I found enough energy to lift my arms and smile as I crossed the finish line with a half marathon time and official PR of 1 hour, 58 minutes and 56 seconds.

I did it….sick and all - one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life, mentally and physically. I couldn’t believe it.

As soon as I stopped running, my body swayed and I thought I was going to fall over. My body had this weird I just ran a full marathon stiff-feeling (which so wasn’t true). I started walking funny and it struck me as odd and hilarious all at the same time!  I also finally had a chance to blow my nose. Ahh…that felt so good!

Louisiana Half Marathon (15)

My next mission after crossing the finish line was to find Joe and take a picture with him. Without his guidance and pep talks, I never would have accomplished my goal.

Louisiana Half Marathon (21)

Sweet, sweet glory. This still feels like a dream!

Louisiana Half Marathon (22)

It took a while (because I was walking funny), but I finally found my parents. We took a few pictures, then walked back over to the finish line to cheer on Kayla.

Louisiana Half Marathon (23)

Giving us a thumbs up as she passed by!

Louisiana Half Marathon (20)

I could not have asked for a more perfect day. This truly was one of the best days of my life, one of my favorite races, and a day I’ll remember forever. This whole experience tops my list of my favorite moments, ever!

Somewhere throughout the journey, Joe asked how many in our group were running their first half – several of them were which was really impressive! Then he asked how many had five under their belt? A few did. Next, ten half marathons – I knew I had more than ten but couldn’t remember my actual number (isn’t that awful?). I counted today – this race was half marathon #19 for me! Crazy how far this journey has taken me over the years and I’ve loved (almost) every step! :)

I’m going to save the post-run party for another day since this is already long enough. If you stuck with me through it, I thank you!

I also thank each and every one of you SO much for your sweet words, tweets, texts, facebook/instagram messages, and prayers. It all means so much more to me than you’ll ever know. I love the community that is the running world and I am so grateful for all of you!!

<3

"Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. Hard is what makes it great."
-- Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), A League Of Their Own

-------------------------------------------------------------

Have you ever run with a pace group or pacer? If so, what are your thoughts on the experience?

48 comments:

  1. This recap made me so happy Karen. You worked so hard to earn your sub 2 hour half and it was a sweet victory for you. Can't wait to see you next month at Princess. Good luck with your race this weekend, and hopefully you will be feeling much better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Pam! Can't wait to see you too!!

      Delete
  2. Wooooohoooooooooo!!!!!
    So happy for you my friend! You EARNED that PR with every step!!!!! Congrats!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Nicole! It was so tough but so worth it!

      Delete
  3. Congrats Karen! How wonderful to finally meet your goal -- no better feeling! Oh, and I wouldn't count yourself out of PRing again this weekend at Rock n Roll, especially since you were sick this past weekend. I PR'd in 1/2s on back-to-back weekends after not PRing for years, so you never know! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jen...I agree, there's no better feeling! :)

      Delete
  4. Congrats Karen! I knew you would do well. I will be attempting my first full next weekend in NOLA.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Huge congrats! And I know the feeling of finally being able to blow my nose. I had that problem in games all the time since cold weather makes my sinuses go crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah, CONGRATS! Way to tough it out (even when sick!) and finish strong. I want a sub-two SOOOO bad -- thanks so much for the extra dose of inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jennifer! You'll get there - it took me three years but it was all worth it in the end! :)

      Delete
  7. Congrats!! That's an incredible achievement - sick or not. I'm glad to hear that other people adore my beloved LSU lakes as much as I do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooh yes, Melanie...if I lived there, I would run all the time! :D Thanks so much!

      Delete
  8. Congrats on your sub-2! It's an accomplishment for anyone, much less someone who is sick. I hope you are feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Kimberly! Appreciate it! :)

      Delete
  9. Congrats, you did great!! You should be super proud!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is so freaking awesome! You're so speedy and you did it even when sick!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It was super tough but definitely worth it in the end!! :D

      Delete
  11. Congratulations! Getting under the 2 hour mark with a PR is amazing! It just goes to show how the right training, right race, and right encouragement at the right times coupled with a little bit of faith and a lot of determination can make amazing things happen! Congratulations!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is all so true! Thank you so much!

      Delete
  12. Wow, that's impressive! Congrats on your PR and I hope you feel better now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I'm finally feeling better now! :)

      Delete
  13. Congrats!!! It's hard to PR under perfect circumstances, let alone when you are sick. Hope you are feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I'm feeling so much better now! :)

      Delete
  14. Congratulations on your PR! You even did it while you were sick! I hope you are starting to feel better :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. What an amazing recap! WAY TO GO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Megan! I appreciate it! :)

      Delete
  16. Way to go Karen! Running while sick is no easy task, and you showed that cold who was boss! Congrats on conquering that sub 2 hour finish!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow! what an accomplishment! It takes so much discipline and determination to accomplish what you did! Congratulations! I am so proud of you! Great job!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!! I appreciate your kind words so much! :)

      Delete
  18. I am SO happy for you! You were even sick and still managed a PR! You are amazing! Those pacer signs are pretty cool. I've never seen unique ones like that! Congrats Karen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! I agree, I hadn't seen pacer signs like that, either...they were so easy to follow! :) Appreciate it!

      Delete
  19. Congrats!!!! I got goosebumps reading about your PR - I love that feeling and I'm hoping to have that this year in at least one of my half marathons! Great job at pushing through the pain and meeting your goal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do too, Kristen! Happy race wishes to you this year!! Thank you! :)

      Delete
  20. congrats friend! I didn't even know you were going for it at this race! One day I will get there! haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I kinda didn't tell anyone, not even my parents! Haha! I didn't want to jinx myself being sick and all. Thank you!! :D

      Delete
  21. Karen, this is so awesome that you reached your goal! I am so excited for you! I was praying you would feel better! Glad everything worked out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Leah! I appreciate the prayers! They worked!! :)

      Delete
  22. I LOVE this recap Karen! So so proud of you! And Joe is awesome! I met him at the Biggest Loser Half last year where he played a trumpet the entire time he ran! So crazy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh that's hysterical and doesn't surprise me one bit!! He's so funny!

      Delete

Blog Archive

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...