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The hardest run ever…

feeling: resolved

distance: 7.62 miles

temperature: approximately 46 degrees

gear: full-length running tight, long sleeve technical tee, hat, throw-away gloves, fleece vest, tropical flavored shot bloks that happened to be left in my pocket from a previous long run…don’t ask, just be ok with it.

The reason why this run was the hardest run is not the distance, it wasn’t the speed…but it was the journey itself.  Today was actually supposed to be an easy run, 2 miles to be exact…but I decided to forgo 2 miles for 5 miles to process.  I needed to get out of the house and I didn’t want to drive anywhere…ever since taking up this running thing, I have no problems parking at the edge of the parking lot, taking the stairs whenever I can and anything to get extra steps, feet, yards or a mile in.

I started down my block towards the less populous of the two main thoroughfares at the edge of my block…decided on a 1 mile warm up to get my legs back on track, my Garmin was already ready for the interval I usually do for shorter runs (45s:1m)…however I decided against it and went back to my tried and true interval (30s:45s).  I figured since I am out here…I’ll make the best of it.  The familiar beeps took me back to a place that provides me the most satisfaction and accomplishment.

I started down the block…the streetlights at familiar intervals as I start out on my journey alone…the occasional car passing me heading to their destinations…the smell of cinnamon and sugar from the Nabisco factory nearby when the wind blows just right…makes the neighborhood smell divine.

….the most difficult word to say in the English language, in my opinion is not some 13-syllable word with consonants on top of consonants and a vowel sprinkled in for good measure.  The most difficult word to say in the English language is a 2-syllable word…goodbye.  Goodbye is the hardest word in the English language…especially with the knowledge that the goodbye is not an “until next time” or “see you later”.

I will be saying goodbye to a person that provided me with laughter, good advice, stories, insight, honesty…gossip, conversations about gardening, lottery numbers, self-reliance, independence and doing what makes you happy.  This is one of the most painful goodbyes I’ve ever had to say…but it doesn’t lessen the years I had with my grandmother.  She was my gossip buddy, she was a person I could explain things to without judgement or condemnation, she provided much needed and valued insight, even if you didn’t get it right then, “just live a little bit more”…friends loved her just the same and when I would tell them things she said…they would be in disbelief until they had a sit-down conversation with her.  We always had our “Thursday hen sessions” where we’d talk for hours…I’d make sure my phone was fully charged when I called, because we’d have to fill each other in on all of the goings on.  Thursday afternoons were our time…on the day when I’d work from home and my workload was slow.

…I glanced down at the distance and pace that I covered and I wasn’t ready to turn around, the sun was beginning to peek across the sky, the streetlights flickered off in unison, the block was stirring with people heading to the train station, the bus stop or just heading to their destination, so I kept going to allow myself the time for my mind to wander…to process…to grasp…to reason…to wrap my mind around…to rationalize because if i can rationalize it, i can be ok with it…to wonder…to plan…to pray…to give thanks…to be angry…to be frustrated…to be sad…to be humble…to be alone…to be grateful…and to be.

We’d discuss what was going on in the news in our respective cities…and it would always be worth a great laugh.  Thursdays won’t hold the same importance to me as they did…but Thursday afternoons will still be our time.

I made my way back to my house to begin to prepare for my day with a heavy heart, but a lighter spirit…sadness in her departure, but gratitude for our relationship.  At that moment when I placed my key into the front door…I realized that the hardest word I’ve had to say is goodbye.

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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Been a Long Time…

Didn’t want you to think that i’ve been a neglectful lover and that I’m not giving my long run the attention it deserves and that I’m not continuing my respectable courtship with it.  The long run is still my boo-boo kitty snookums…however, I’ve taken a self-imposed brief hiatus after accompanying a friend for more than half of her 13 mile training run.  While she was doing the first 4.5 miles…I served as her aid and water station.  Armed with her choice of snacks, Aleve, bandages, paper towels, peroxide, alcohol and various other items I could think of, I waited patiently for her and another friend to reach me, so she could top off or “re-up”.

During my self-imposed hiatus…I’ve spent more time with my yoga practice, getting a little strength training in and revisiting my former boo…spin class.  I participate in 2 spin classes a week…one is an endurance spin class where the purpose is to remain in the aerobic zone while maintaining 80-100 RPM at a moderate resistance.  The second class is an interval class…and it is exactly what it sounds like, lots of jumps and hills.  Sometimes I even spend 90 minutes on the spin bike at the gym if I don’t have time to catch a class.

Also…I might tap into my philanthropic side and give away a few things here and there.  So be on the lookout…which means read my blog that I shamelessly plug when I can.  Kai-Possible and I were fortunate enough to give away 2 entries to the RunningNerds 5K on Saturday April 14, 2012 and we will even be course marshals too.

Now, don’t be fooled…I still run and will still do long runs for the simple fact that I enjoy them and they are my time to commune with nature and to let my mind wander.  Just right now…I’m in a waning period, however I will be back in a waxing period when the weather cools off.  So…buckle your seatbelt, it will be a bumpy ride.

Until Next Time…

 
 

RunningNerds 5K Giveaway! I know how much you like free stuff!

Throughout this journey which I’ve added more miles to my road, from being happy with the 5K; pushing on towards a 10K, and now, the half-marathon is my drug of choice.  A person that has been one of my many sources of camaraderie, kinship and goodwill has been Temilola Sobomehin, founder of RunningNerds.  From her trademark Nike headband and glasses to her signature Colts’ jersey,

The discount that started the mass influx.

RunningNerds take NOLA by storm...
photo courtesy of Jeanne Ellsberry

she has continuously motivated, informed and inspired a growing and diverse community of runners, Running Nerds and Running Nerds in Training.

Because of the inspiring and motivating community she has created in which runners can share, learn and grow with and from each other and the mission of RunningNerds, Kai (my half-marathon partner in crime) and I decided to “Sponsor a Runner” for the Inaugural RunningNerds 5K on April 14, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  In addition to the giveaway, Temilola (people that know her, call her Tes) was gracious enough to indulge me in an interview.  This is my first interview, yay!

Sage advice and guidance
photograph taken by A.Danielle Photography ©2012

I affectionately nickname this interview…Science Nerd meets Running Nerd

Long Distance Love Affair (LDLA):  I noticed RunningNerds prides itself on educating runners of all ages and levels, which led me to do more research on RunningNerds, one program that captured my attention is the RunningNerd in Training Program, what is the RunningNerd in Training program?

RunningNerds (RN): The “Runningnerd in training” program is a progressive running program towards completing a 5K for new or developing runners. We work with groups or even individuals to help them build up to the distance of 3.1 miles. Currently we are working with 2 different groups in Atlanta who have the goal of completing the runningnerds 5K on April 14. Having a race on your calendar 4-8 weeks away is the first step of the RunningNerds in training program. We also provide new runner education clinics with every session with topics such as footwear, pacing techniques, nutrition, etc.

LDLA: There is the My First 5K Facebook Group, but I saw that you were working with the youth (at Coretta Scott King HS, right? or am I mixing two different things together) as well.  One thing that makes the RunningNerd Nation so unique is that you are drawing in RunningNerds from 8-80, all levels of fitness and ability.

RN: Yes!! The Coretta Scott King HS Faculty, Staff and Parents are participating in a RunningNerds in training program as well as the students. We meet with them 1 day per week for a full session and then they do their “homework” 2 -3 additional days per week. If you are ever free on a Friday morning 7:15 or 8:30am please come out and check it out for yourself. The My First 5K group page is a great resource for new runners who want support and advice. We also provide resources for training programs. We will have a huge celebration for all My First 5K! finishers at the runningnerds 5K!! Can’t Wait!

LDLA: Where do you see the direction of the running community-at-large heading?

RN: I see the running community growing by leaps and bounds over the next few years. I also see the community becoming more diverse across races and socioeconomic statuses. It is too fun and rewarding to be kept a secret any longer!! RunningNerds is all about facilitating a contemporary running community! Our mission is to provide a social forum, resource, and service!

LDLA: What is the best piece of running advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to aspiring RunningNerds?

RN: I have received a lot of great advice that has helped to take me from one level to the next and also conquer many challenges that come along with running. The advice that has stuck with me throughout and that I would pass along to others is to always Have A Goal!!! A workout goal, a daily goal, a race goal, ANY GOAL. Once you reach that goal, celebrate, commemorate, and repeat!

LDLA: What is your proudest running moment?

RN: My proudest running moment was leading a group of 200+ women on Christmas Eve 2011 in a group run! We made a huge statement by getting up early on a Holiday Saturday morning in the name of health & sisterhood! It was powerful, fun, and I was so proud to be a part of it.

LDLA: If you had an unlimited budget for a one-time race, what would be your dream destination race and why?

RN: I would love to run on a beautiful island that started and finished on a beach, and along the way we traveled through a tropical forest, up a inactive volcano to the top of a mountain to look down at the world, then back down and throw a water slide in there!! At the end of the race we are greeted with a full bbq and tasty beverages with umbrellas on our way to massages and a live band playing Caribbean music. You said dream….so there you go!!! Who’s with me??

LDLA: Do you run with music? If so, what is in heavy rotation on your running playlist?

RN: Yes I do!! If you ever find an iPod with Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lil Wayne in heavy rotation…that would be mine!!!

LDLA: Thank you so much for doing this interview with me and I appreciate everything you’ve done for the running community at large. We are so excited about this and I am so proud of you. I thank you for all of your goodwill and kinship. That concludes my interview with the wonderful Temilola (Tes) Sobomehin of RunningNerds.

photo courtesy of A.Danielle Photography © 2012

Now…let’s get down to the business of giving away two entries and registration packets for the Inaugural RunningNerds 5K.

We will be giving away two (2) registrations and gift bags to RunningNerds 5K, the first registration will go to a student and the second registration will be a general entry.  Eligibility criteria are as follows:

1.      Must have never completed a timed 5K, we are runners and operate on the honor system, however I do have a means to verify.

2.      For the student entry, you must be an elementary, high school or college student.  Again, we are runners and operate on the honor system.

3.      Respond in the comments area of the blog to the following question: How do you Celebrate the Running Nerd in you?

4.      Please specify on your submission whether you are entering for the student entry or the general entry.

All entries must be submitted by 11:59pm April 3rd, 2012 and the winner will be announced April 8th, 2012.  Entries will be reviewed and the winner will be determined. Please include a valid e-mail address in which you can be contacted in the event you are selected for the registration.  The winners of the RunningNerd 5K entry will be able to pick their entry up on either Tuesday April 10th, 2012 or Thursday April 12th, 2012 at the My First 5K! Clinic, Fun Run, & Social Forum either Tuesday at yoforia, Piedmont Park or Thursday at yoforia, Howell Mill Rd.

Good Luck!

Even if you aren’t one of the winners of an entry for the RunningNerd 5K, register for the race and run the Nerdiest Race in all of the Atlanta.

Here is the registration at active.com RunningNerd 5K

Turn-by-turn preview of the RunningNerds 5K course…I know this should get you excited.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Giveaways

 

Roll wit’ Me, Knock wit’ Me: Outrageous Outakes from Rock & Roll New Orleans

Lil’ Rascals Brass Band-Roll wit’ Me, Knock wit’ Me  this song brings back fond memories of Slidell, LA and if it doesn’t make you want to get your second-line on…you have no soul.

One thing I have to say about New Orleans…they have the best signage, hands down than any other city.

no loitering,no solicitation, no crack selling, no cat-selling © sign outside a repair shop on the corner of St. Claude and Louisa

I guess that covers all of the bases for mine and Kai-Possible’s New Orleans excursion.  This is not a running-related post, but it is a post that is a collection of our New Orleans experiences that didn’t quite make it under the Rock & Roll New Orleans category.

First things first…we figure that we’re going to head down to check out a few things, grab breakfast and go to the Race Expo…and we’re not really the cab kinda gals, so we plan to make use of the local public transit, it worked out great because the bus ran not too far from where we stayed.

We went into one package store (well…they are liquor stores in LA) to ask how often the bus comes by, the cashier really didn’t know, so we just waited patiently…and we came out right on time to catch our bus to get to the trolley.

let’s keep our relationship good…NO credit allowed…don’t even ask © sign at the register of the liquor store on St. Claude near Louisa.

Now let’s discuss this…who is going into the liquor stores asking for credit on alcohol…so “I’ll gladly pay you tomorrow for a 4Loko I’ll drink today”…who does this? please riddle me that? Yes…it seems like 4Loko is the beverage of choice in New Orleans.  For those who do not know what 4Loko is…here’s some info.  Basically Red Bull, grape koolaid and malt liquor.

Well…one thing I must admit, I travel with Kai because she’s an excellent travel companion, we have no problems navigating a city on public transportation and she’s an agreeable and adventurous just I am.  We’ve pretty much have come to the conclusion that I’m the navigator though.  So, we went ahead purchased a our means to get around... so we can navigate the city at our leisure.  We purchased our Jazzy Passes from the Unique Grocery Store (that is the name of the store…i kid you not)…in which Kai and I wait patiently in line.  We hear breaking glass outside of the store…a man comes in smelling like a distillery and informs the clerk behind the register that he dropped his 40 oz…yes, this is at 10:00am…but its New Orleans, so would you expect anything less? So, the cashier reaches behind the register and pulls out a miniature axe, yes darlings…an AXE! and waves it at the man…and tells him “i don’t want any problems out of you”, so the man who dropped his drink proceeds to pay for his replaced liquor.

Now, we’re going to fast forward to Monday in which we took advantage of the sights and sounds of the city…plus it was a little less crowded.  We didn’t have time to take advantage of the tours, however we know that we will be revisiting New Orleans another time and we will have ample opportunity to partake in the tours and just enjoy the city.  There are numerous tours offered in New Orleans and not all tours are created equal, however we met a tour guide named Eddie with a purple…yes darlings a purple Cadillac parked outside…who is “always ready” who informed us of his I believe 16 children between 4 wives…and at last count he has about 12 jobs.

Since we didn’t have time for tours…we got our history nerd on and toured Jackson Square , St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere,

The Cabildo Louisiana State Museum and went through the

Jean Lafitte Visitors’ Center.

We toured the French Market Place, checked out the Cemeteries on the edge of town…and walked around.  All in all it was an enjoyable visit and New Orleans still holds a special place in my heart on my list of favorite cities.

edit: This story isn’t quite a race story…but this is a story about the Rock & Roll Half Marathon experience…regardless to whichever tour stop you do.  Rock & Roll Series believes in taking pictures…there were pictures of me taken that I didn’t know how or where the heck they snapped those running hot messes of pictures.  I felt like Lindsey-freakin’- Lohan and the paparazzi were on the side of the building like Spiderman, jumping out of bushes and just in random arbitrary places…typically around Mile 8 through the end…so (half) marathoners…you gotta work on your game face, because Rock & Roll photographers are on some honey badger foolishness.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tales from the Backside: The Half-Marathon you DON’T see

This entry is Part II of W-T-F- Where’s the Finish.

As promised…I am breaking my traveling race experience into three parts.  Part I was what was going through my head during my half.  Part II is what I saw and experienced and Part III will be outtakes and other random things.

Part II was inspired by a conversation that I had with the fabulous and funny Renee Ross.  We were discussing our half-marathon experience and based upon the antics that I shared with her…to the casual listener, you would have thought there was two separate races taking place that day.

I have been blessed and fortunate enough to come across half-marathoners of all ages and speeds, from the sub-2:00 speed racers that make it look so effortless…you would think Chariots of Fire played every time they laced up their running shoes…to the 2:00-2:45 half-marathoners that go hard in the paint by any means necessary.  I love, admire and am grateful for their support, kinship and camaraderie.  However, I fall into neither category.  I am a 3:00+ half-marathoner…and I am perfectly alright with that.  There are things that I witness in my races, that my faster friends will never witness…but it makes for entertaining stories.  I affectionately refer to the 3:00 hour in the half-marathon as “the witching hour”.

edit: I forgot to add…before the race, Kai and I laid our eyes upon an older gentleman wearing a plaid blazer with the ultrasuede elbow patches over his running attire…so imagine a male in his late 50’s wearing a navy and hunter green blazer with camel-colored elbow patches, a singlet, running shorts and running shoes.  I don’t underestimate that man…because if he’s coming to a marathon wearing a blazer, you KNOW he is about to handle some business.  Seriously, I think he wore the blazer to take off and cast along the side of the course, because clothes left along the race course are donated to local shelters.

first sighting was 4 college-aged guys dressed like Devo, with whips and all.  The cool thing was the band around Mile 5 played a couple of verses of Whip It and the kids danced and basically had a good ol’ time…whips and all.  To accompany the guys dressed as Devo running the half were girls dressed like this.  Bless their hearts, I say…because while it was a great day for a marathon, it would have been bad business to have a spandex leotard stuck in your craw during a 13.1 mile run.  Some things just aren’t meant for marathoning…a leotard over spandex shorts is one of them.

After I Love the 80’s Strikes Back departed from view and I kept on with the journey at hand.  I came across two ladies made up like Tammy Faye Bakker…with those windbreaker jogging suits on, you know…the ones that make the swooshing sound when you walk.  No, dears…it wasn’t on accident and it wasn’t a costume.  Ms. Imogen and Ms. Fran were getting it in out there…and I’m not mad in the least.  I’m trying to figure out…who thought this was alright? What half-marathon training program did you use? How did you manage to keep your pageant hair in place for this adventure.  One was chattering about wine and the other one was tuning her out…I could see her roll her eyes every time the other woman said something.  Yeah…I had to keep a comfortable distance between that, because someone wasn’t going to make it.

The highlight of my experience…and I have told this story to others, was seeing a lady out there with a poster around Mile 3, thanking those that supported Rock & Roll New Orleans.  She is a 6 year Ovarian Cancer Survivor and she was diagnosed in Stage 3…the fact that she was out there made me so happy, she was the 2nd most welcomed sight to me…after the finish line.  Where she made my race…was seeing her again, cheering us on around Mile 8…I had to stop and give her a hug and thank her for cheering us on.  There was a reason why I chose Rock & Roll New Orleans as a half for 2012.  It wasn’t the discount…it wasn’t the medal…it wasn’t the fact that New Orleans is one of my favorite cities.  It was the fact that Rock & Roll New Orleans teamed up with American Cancer Society for this event.  Proceeds including fundraising efforts from this event will benefit American Cancer Society programs, which provide resources for cancer survivors, their caregivers and families. We all give back, serve our communities and donate…but sometimes nothing makes it all come together like seeing those who benefit from your efforts.

…alright now, don’t get all weepy on me.  You know I’m going to lighten the mood back up.

Ok…for those that don’t know me, I tend to think that i’m misunderstood…I think I’m one of those candies that is tough on the outside, but all soft and mushy on the inside.  I’m a pretty tough customer…I know that much is true, but sometimes my heart gets in the way and that soft side comes through…even with my sarcasm.  For those that read Part I knew about my issue while running this race…now I am doped up on 1000 mg of Tylenol.  I was probably running sideways around Mile 9.

I saw a lady that was just really having a rough time.  During my walk interval, I asked her if she was alright, she said “I’m managing…but I’m so hungry and this gel isn’t working”.  Poor thing…I can sympathize with her plight, she told me this was her first half-marathon and probably her last.  I asked her…”you don’t plan on dying on me, right…all i’ll say is never say never about this being your last half”.  She laughed a little…I pulled out my Cheetos…yes, i said Cheetos and I offered her some.  She squealed like she was at a Prince concert and he touched the side of her face.  She accepted some of my Cheetos gratefully and chewed in silence, drank a little water…and she looked better.

Back to these Cheetos…because I know some of you have erupted in laughter while reading this.  Look here, I will be so very honest with you…because that’s what I do.  I’m a thick girl…I am out here longer than average…I need sustenance…those gels will NOT do, I have teeth…I need to chew.  Like I told you…I am a 3:00+ half-marathoner…do you know if I get hungry out there, it will be some problems because I’m kinda surly when I haven’t eaten.  That is why I prefer Shot Bloks…however after a while, I can’t stand all of that sugar on my stomach and salt tablets or salt packets are too much for me.  The Cheetos or Chex Mix give me the right amount of salt input. We did the intervals that I use during half-marathons 30s run: 45s walk and she was doing just fine until she got tired and walked.

Well…the lady got tired and I still had a little fight left in me at Mile 11.5 despite what was going on in me…therefore I had to keep on pushing towards the finish line.

This last account is one from my running partner…the Sophisticlectic Kai, she was a few minutes behind me and she submitted an account for the “witching hour chronicles”…this one, I have to admit that Jesus knew what he was doing by allowing me to be a little further ahead, so I didn’t witness this.

…husband and wife were doing the half-marathon, it was the wife’s first half.  So, she has on two bras while doing this…which because I am the “Bra Police”, is totally unacceptable. NO exercising woman should be wearing two bras under any circumstances…and fellas, if you are reading this…don’t let your mama, wife, girlfriend, homegirl or sister commit this gross violation or I will kick in your front door like Macho Man Randy Savage in the Slim Jim commercial.  Long story short, the wife is so uncomfortable that she takes off one of the bras…and has it in her hand.  I guess she no longer wanted to hold it, she didn’t want to throw it on the course…I don’t blame her, so her loving husband took her sweaty bra…and put it on his head like a helmet…and did a couple of miles with it.  Now, wifey is over here in one bra…flapping around like a lost bird and wondering why her chest hurts.  See, that is why I implore you to invest in your foundation…because it will hurt you WAY more than it will hurt me.

As stated before…I sincerely believe that there are three different half marathons that take place during a single race…we all have different stories to tell.  Stories of triumph, perseverance, tragedy and redemption.  I am a proud “back of the packer” for the simple fact that we are like a family…a small cohesive unit.  We have to be pretty happy-go-lucky for the simple fact that when we cross the finish line…many of the faster folks are making their way home, the awards have been handed out…the refreshment table looks like an afterthought…crowds have dissipated, spectators have lost interest, but that doesn’t make our races any less significant.  I have heard so many touching stories on what brought people this far…and I believe it is not a mistake that they are here.  We cheer each other and ourselves on in our heads…when we come upon another person struggling, a smile…a reassuring nod, a wave or a conversation can be the difference between someone pressing on…and someone hopping in the sag wagon.  I am a firm believer of running your own race…but you never know how you impact someone else’s race…by running your own.

 
 

W-T-F…Where’s the Finish (Notes from Rock & Roll New Orleans)

W-T-F…Where’s the Finish (Notes from Rock & Roll New Orleans)

 

Everyone has a pre-race day routine, and I am no exception.

The night before, I laid out all of my clothes, charged my Garmin and my phone, deviated slightly from my standard pre-race meal fare for the simple fact that I’m in New Orleans…home of all things decadent and delicious.  Instead of my standard meal of grilled or baked salmon, brown rice and a vegetable, I had a salad, half of a fully dressed shrimp po’boy and sweet potato fries.  It did make me quite happy.  After the day of navigating the city, going to the race expo to pick up my bib, which included seeing a few good people from ATL and meeting members of NBMA (it was great to put names with faces) picking up my shirt and goodies, as well as doing some lightweight expo shopping (Bondibands, arm warmers and my favorite race day snacks), I took it back to the house, because I needed to be off of my feet as much as possible.

Back at the house, I laid down, did some reading…chatting with my race partner in crime and then went to bed because I had an early day.  I pretty much slept like a rock and safely say I had no strange or weird dreams.

Woke up at 4:30am…much to my chagrin and somewhat expectation…Mother Nature played a cruel prank on me, but there was no use in dwelling…you pack extra supplies and keep going.  The zippered pocket in the back of my running capris is a good spot to stash those supplies.  Thankfully, I had on dark grey capris, so no worries.

We stayed in Bywater…and took a quick cab ride to the race village, because we had to be there by 6:30am.  We arrived by 6:00am, grabbed a bagel, drank a little water and found our other running partner in crime.  With all Rock & Roll events, there are tons…and did I mention TONS of pictures to be taken.  The official race photographers captured our fresh and shining faces prior to our descent into 13.1 miles of sheer madness.

Around 6:35-6:40, we began making our way to our corral.  We were in Corral 25, the LAST corral.  Still, no worries because I’m just not all that invested in what corral I start in, because I am not an elite runner…nor am I a fast half-marathoner.  I’d rather start out away from all the madness and commotion of all of the mad dashers.  So, we kept it all the way live in Corral 25.

The corral progression seemed to take forever, but once the marathoners took off, we were cooking with gas…the corrals ahead of me were taking off like rockets and the numbers were dwindling down.  Once they got to Corral 23, the executive decision was made to just group Corrals 24 and 25 together.

…and awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we go!

As usual, the first 3 miles are always a labor of love, we heard music all around us.  As much as I like Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer…I don’t have to hear it too often or too soon.  If I was a gambling woman, I would have been right about hearing Gary Glitter‘s- Rock & Roll Part 2 (for those that never knew the title…its “The Hey Song” you hear at sporting events).  I glanced down at my Garmin as I hit the mat for timing my 5K…my pace was right on target for what I wanted to do.

5K down…16.2K to go….

For the first part of the course, it was a down and back…it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t seeing all of the people on the back part as I was going down and it seemed like the turning point around Mile 4.5 was nowhere in sight. I saw several familiar faces.  I saw a couple of Black Girls Running…I saw a couple of my favorite Runningnerds of RunningNerd Nation, I even laid sight on a bedazzled K.I.M.M.I.E doing her first half marathon.

Aaaah…sweet freedom, we made it to the turn-around point.  I’m feeling pretty good, enjoying the scenery, the weather, the neighborhoods and my water.  I’m approaching Mile 6.  Mile 6…I’m feeling great, no complaints, this right here is my “happy place” and my “happy pace” that I always talk about.  I have 3 Shot Bloks, wash it down with some water, and keep chugging along.

10K down…11.2K to go…still feeling daisy fresh, despite Mother Nature’s cruel joke, still doing about what I normally do for a 10K.

Halfway there…and I’m going to walk through this water station because the last thing I need is to slip on those plastic cups and end up in traction fooling around out here.  I never thought I’d say this…I’m SICK of flat terrain…coming from Atlanta, which essentially is hills, heat and humidity.  New Orleans is pancake flat.  The pros to running on a flat surface is that its flat and you can coast.  However, the cons to that…if you are coasting along at a more conservative speed like myself, you are using the same muscles over and over with no reprieve.

Mile 7.5…reality is starting to sink in that Mother Nature is a prankster and does what she can to thwart my progress…I’m getting a little crampy, but thank goodness your favorite crazy running lady is armed with supplies.  I pop 2 500 mg Tylenol tablets, drink some water and wait for the magic to happen.

Mile 8…I chatted with a lady doing intervals from Colorado and asked her how the vast change in terrain was treating her as well as the humidity, because it has to be like sucking in molasses to her, running in New Orleans.  We chatted about various races…I told her that I’m considering Rock & Roll Denver either in 2013 or 2014 because my race schedule is tentatively full for 2012 and I have some things I want to accomplish physically (i.e. lose more weight, continue to build core strength and work on the muscles around my knees).  The Tylenol kick in…I eat some Cheetos because Shot Bloks, water and Tylenol are not a friendly combination.

Miles 8,1-11 were a blur…I was probably high off Tylenol and singing Juvenile songs in my head.  I didn’t realize that I still remembered the words to Ha, for knowing all the words to that song…I deserve my medal.

*screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech* at Mile 11.5 is when the wheels fell off this train.

The drugs wore off, the cramps came back with a vengeance…we’re dealing with some REAL ish right now.  However, I’m about 11.5 miles in…ain’t no giving up, no turning back, no stopping at the medical tent…I don’t care if I have to drag my carcass across the remaining 1.6 miles, which were the LONGEST 1.6 miles in the history of man.  I was probably moving so slow, I was shuffling backwards.  To add insult to injury…the socks that served me well in my previous half marathon was chafing my pinky toe and chafing the ball of my right foot.  So, I was unhappy and not interested in anything anyone had to say.  I was probably mean enough to slap lightning and cuss out thunder.

Well…because I am a believer of Murphy’s Law…anything that can happen, will happen.  I wiggled my fingers every once in while during my body scan to gauge my level of discomfort and see what was bothering me.  Lo and behold, my fingers felt tight.  When I looked down at my hands and wrist…they were swollen.  Great…just great!

What causes swelling in your extremities during a race, crazy running lady?

There are several causes of swelling in your extremities…especially hands during a race and depending on your hydration patterns before and during your race, it could be hyponatremia , it can also be physical where the blood is pooling in your extremities if you have kept your hands at your sides for periods of time.  So, I drank more Gatorade and walk/ran with my hands above my head for about 20-30 minutes…which alleviated the discomfort and reduced swelling in my hands.  I may have looked strange…but many others were doing it also.

Mile 12…there is a God!!! 1.1 miles left…i’m ready for this foolery to end, we are approaching the Museum.

W-T-F!!! Where’s the f***in finish…where is the fanfare…the crowds have thinned out, not that I was looking for streamers, balloons and trumpets when I finish, because let’s face it.  I do this because I can..no accolades, no glory.  Where’s my medal, my t-shirt and my drink?  Really…I’m NOT KIDDING…where’s the effin’ finish.  I’m tired of rounding corners in this Little Billy, corn maze type arrangement.

Someone bring this damn finish line over here to me, right now…right now I say!!

Mile 13…FINALLY…I see the finish line, serenity now!  I did 13 miles…the last mile was an eternity.

Coming into the finishers zone…take a pic…blah, blah, blah…cross the finish line…blah, blah, blah…get my medal…get my water and a banana…take more pics.

On a scale of 1-10…this experience was a 7…not great, not horrible…just average.  The city was beautiful and I traversed some really cool neighborhoods.  The bad was the last mile of the race.

Lessons Learned

1. I am a firm believer of staying off my feet as much as possible, the day before…but that will be strictly enforced for future races.  Staying off my feet as much as I can the day of the race also…chances are, I will be in the last corral…which means I will start about 35-45 minutes after the start time.  That is a LOOOONG time to be on your feet, those miles add up on your body.

2. I am going to test out the running toe socks, because my thinnest socks were bothering me…which goes to show, all half marathons aren’t created equal. This is my 3rd half marathon and your body will behave differently for each one.

3. TMI alert…I will be scheduling my races around my menstrual cycle.  If there is even the happenstance Aunt Flo is arriving around the day of the race.  I will avoid it…I know things happen, life happens and I’m not going to quit a race if it happens…I just don’t think I’ll register for a race if there is the likelihood.

4. This is already a lesson I advocate, especially for my plus-sized runners…and something I believe in, for first time half-marathoners I believe you should train up to and maybe a little past 13.1 miles…no more than 15 miles though.  For the simple fact…I was on my feet another 2 miles after I finished my half, to get to the car.  I was on my feet for a good hour before the race started…so for all intents and purposes.  I probably logged 17-18 miles worth of time on my feet that day.

5. Enjoy yourself…none of you are getting shoe endorsements and Nike, Asics, Mizuno and whomever is not interested in signing your behind to a contract.  Do this because you can…do this because you enjoy it…do this for the love.  You have nothing to prove to anyone, but yourself.  Your worst day is miles better than someone who didn’t even get out there.

My Rock & Roll New Orleans experience will be done in 3 parts…this part is my self-reflection, Part II is Tales from the Backside…which is soon coming.  Part III is Roll wit’ me…Knock wit’ me and that will be my New Orleans experience.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Race Coverage

 

A thousand mile journey begins with a single step…

mood: tired

temperature: 31 degrees Fahrenheit, 13 mph wind, 55% humidity

gear: lined running tights, yoga pants, lined running shirt with thumb holes, half zip, gloves, earmuffs and hat.

fuel brought: 3 squares of strawberry Shot Blok, 3-10 oz bottles on fuel belt, 1 containing pure water, 1 containing half powerade/half water, 1 containing 70/30 water:powerade

distance: 7.15 miles

music: 

I’m doing my last long run prior to Rock & Roll NOLA, plus it was an excuse to get out of the house and get some fresh air and alone time.  Since the Chicagoland area is considerably flatter than Atlanta, I switched up my intervals just to see how I felt, if all else failed…I can always switch back to the interval that I’ve been training with.

Since I started a little later in the day than normal…I took note of the fact that I saw no other runners on my trek.  That really doesn’t bother me because face it…I started my run on a Sunday, around 12:00pm a time where most people are either still in church, still in bed…or still making up excuses on why they aren’t able to do whatever it is they set out to do.

A late start is better than no start…but it is definitely better than not starting and blaming others or circumstances on why you can’t start.

Which brings me to the thought that I had while on this run…are you making the best use of your life?  I had a conversation with a couple of people and it really made me question…am I making the best use of my life? If not, who is to blame?

*names and relationships will be changed for protection*

I had a conversation with a person that claims to have finally reached their tipping point in a long-term relationship. While they love, care for and have history with this person, this person is not contributing in the manner in which they should.  As I listened to the account and this person being fed up, I had to think about a quote that was told to me, “a person will only do, what you allow them to do”. I could offer an empathetic ear, my empathy was very limited because I’ve learned, you can’t control another person’s behavior, but you can control how you react to their behavior.  You have allowed for this behavior to go unchecked or you have checked it and there is lack of follow through on your part.  Sure, the person engaging in the behavior is at fault, but the person who allows this to occur in my opinion is at greater fault, because they know its wrong…yet they allow the behavior to continue.

…back to the matter at hand, the run.  The first 3.6 miles went surprisingly fast, actually faster than I expected especially with this interval…which is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing because it shows that I have no problem with this interval on flat surfaces and I can maintain this pace for almost 4 miles…it is a curse, because in a perfect world…running a race with a negative split is the ideal way to run a long distance race such as a half or full marathon.

what is a negative split, crazy running lady?

A negative split occurs when you are able to run the second half of a race faster than the first. So, for instance, if you’re running a marathon and you run the first 13.1 miles in 2:01:46, and then run the second 13.1 miles in 1:59:30, then you ran a negative split.  Got it!?! Gooood…

The average runner will do the opposite by starting out too fast in the beginning, and then slowing down significantly in the second half of the race. It’s a common mistake because you feel rested and strong in the beginning, so it’s tempting to go out fast.

My goal is to try to resist that temptation…and keep in mind, while I may feel good…I may feel strong and rested and all that stuff…resist temptation.  I may feel superb at mile 4…but I have to remember, I have 9.1 miles left in that half-marathon and the ultimate goal is always to finish strong.  So…looks like I will be working to achieve that negative split.

…fast forward to Mile 6.2, still feeling not bad…my hands have long since warmed up, my gloves are tucked into the pocket of my half zip.  I look down at my Garmin for the second time during my run and realized this is the fastest 10K that I’ve run…not bad I say, not too shabby.  I’m actually a little hungry though…and would have loved to have some Thai food while  I was home…however, this visit to Chicago was not a social visit…hence the reason why I didn’t reach out to folks and let them know I was home.

run, walk, run, walk, repeat…and a collective sigh is given.  I have completed 7.15 miles and I am taking it inside the house to shower and get dressed.

This was my first entry…I promise it will get better, I may even have pictures and funny stories for you.  If you read this…thank you for bearing with me and I will give you my official race coverage after Rock & Roll New Orleans.

I also have to figure out…what am I going to wear.  Stay tuned for pre-race coverage and there may be other musings and laughter from yours truly and her fun-sized cohort (we are shorter than 5’3″)…the wonderful and hilarious Kai-Possible.

So if you see us at the race expo in New Orleans…come on up, feel free to say hello, don’t be shy…but if you see us enjoying fine New Orleans cuisine after 13.1 miles, wave and just understand that I will be eating Bananas Foster or creme brulee using a praline as a spoon…and washing it down with a hurricane.  Weight Watcher Points will be thrown to the wind.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized