Blue Angels Rock N Fly Half Marathon Race Recap

  

(Photo Credit: Ricky G)

I don’t know if you know this, but I love to run, and I love to run with friends. I met Jodi and Rick when I ran Mercedes in February, and had such a great time, that I decided to join them in Pensacola, FL for the Rock N Fly Half Marathon. After all, I had just wrapped up the Chattanooga Marathon and needed something to cure my post race blues. 

This race fell on a Saturday, which was new to me. All of my previous races have fallen on Sunday. So Friday night, we headed to packet pick up. This was not your typical packet pick up. It was at a local restaurant/pub, so there was no expo. We picked up our packets, and were out the door to go eat. We dined at O’zone, a local pizzeria. Ricky G swears the place is haunted (former hospital mortuary turned restaurant), but Jodi reassured me that it was actually a former hospital cafeteria turned restaurant. 

 
The menu had a lot of options, and it definitely offered something for everyone. We snacked on the spinach and artichoke dip, while we waited on our pizza.  

 

Spinach artichoke on warm pita bread
 
 
 
Pesto Vecchio add pepperoni – Ricotta cheese, spinach, Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, topped with basil pesto
 

We ate. We talked. The waitress brought me a pickle spear on a plate. We laughed. We shared stories. Then we made it back to the house to get race ready. It was raining significantly, and there were rumors of a possible race delay/cancellation if the weather continued to storm. I can train and prepare as best as I could, but I cannot control the weather, so we were just going to do it. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself. 

4am came around way too quickly, and it was still raining. We were out the door by zero dark 30, and made it to the race by 5:30am! Yes! We were early! But I’d rather be early, then late. We hung out in the car, scrolled through social media, and did what we could to pass the time. 

Daybreak came, so we got out of the car, stopped at the restroom, then stopped at Starbucks so that Jodi and Rick can get their coffee. We made it to the staging area, where I got to meet some superstars.  

 Ricky G, Jodi, Valerie, and FB friend, Lisa. 

  

  

Running friends are the best kind of friends 

 Before we knew it, it was go time.  

 

Starting line shenanigans with my favorites 

The rain held off (hooray!) but it was hot and humid. Very humid. I was ready to ditch my sparkle skirt less than 2 miles in bc it became damp and heavy and got on my last nerve. The course was relatively flat, but slanted. I tried to avoid the side of the road, but run on the middle or the top, but so was everyone else. So my bad knee was already angry. 

The course offered some pretty awesome sights. Not being in the military myself, meant I was able to see this for the first time.  

    
   
 

Chasing Old Glory at the halfway mark  

   
 

I started to lose steam approaching mile 10. My calves started to cramp as well. It was humid, so I made sure to hydrate. However, this is the first race I’ve ever done where Gatorade is not provided until the aid station near mile 10, and then we hit it again reaching mile 12. Hopefully this will change in future races because, as humid as this race was, it was necessary. 

The final 5K took us through some rolling hills. Nothing too serious, but I was just hot and tired by this point. 

   
Finally, the finish at 2:33:37. Which meant that I was, once again, 4 minutes shy of a personal best. At first I was disappointed, but now I’m not worried about it. I’m getting closer with each race, so I know that PR will get here soon. 

At the finish, I ran into Debra/IG: HAPPYRUNNINGSOLE and loved chatting it up and getting to know her. Afterwards, we all got together for a sweaty selfie because it’s what runners do. 

  
The post race party had something for everyone. But I was all about the pizza.  

 We then said our goodbye to our new friends, headed home to shower, and then out to eat. We visited the Ruby Slipper Cafe in downtown Pensacola, then walked around the beach and local shops. 

  
  
We then went back to the house, where exhaustion started to set in, and we were all falling asleep by 9pm. Overall, it was a great race and trip. Beautiful course, full course support, great volunteers and entertainment. I can’t wait to do it again. 

  
 
Until next time. ūü§ėūüŹľ

XOXO
 

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Chattanooga Marathon Recap

  

2016 Inaugural Chattanooga Marathon 

When registration was announced that my city was hosting a marathon, I knew it was a race I had to run. But let’s back up for a minute here. When I registered for this race, I was neck deep training for my first marathon, the WDW Marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge in January. So that means I would be completing 2 marathons only 8 weeks apart. Haha! Color me crazy! 

Racing locally meant I didn’t have to worry about travel costs, so I went down to the First Tennessee Pavilion on Friday for packet pickup.  

 
I signed my waiver, picked up my bib and tshirt, and walked around visiting vendors. There were some vendors that you expect to see at races. Vendors that sell compression sleeves, tshirts, foam rollers, skirts, chiropractic care, headbands, fuel, etc. But then there were some vendors that I wasn’t quite sure about, such as windows and siding for your home? I didn’t get that. But moving on, I ran into my running friend Jessica, who was running the half and I got to chat with her for a bit.  

 
Then I took a look at the course map and elevation change for the first time.  

 
I don’t like to study the course map. A lot of people say that I should know what I’m getting myself into, but I know myself, and I know I will over analyze every mile. I mean, would you blame me? Just look at the elevation change! 

I woke up on Saturday morning with every intention of getting in one last shake out run. But anyone that knows me knows that, if there’s a 5K going on, I am there. Not wanting to miss the registration cut off, I got dressed, and drove as fast as I could to Finley Stadium. Success! I’m in!  

 
The morning was very cold, so I stayed in the car until the last possible second. The course took us just about down Main Street and back. My shins were bothering me, so I tried not to push it. My official time was 34:54, so I was happy with that. The bling was nice, too.  
 
I laid low the rest of the day, determined to not let the next day’s race get to my head. So I ate, napped, painted my nails, laid my things ou, and went to bed early. 

Now on to the marathon. Sigh. This race is why it’s taken me this long to write a race weekend recap. I’ll try to get through the remainder of this post with minimal crying. 

We drove down to the finish line staging area at the First Tennessee Pavillon, where we were then shuttled to the starting line at the Tennessee Aquarium.  

 
We met up with some IG friends, did some light stretching, lined up at the start, watched someone perform the Star Spangled Banner, and were off shortly after 8am. Once again, my shins got the best of me. It was cold, my legs were tight, but I knew it was too early for this nonsense. Both marathon runners and half marathon runners took off together until the split at mile 1.56. What?! I looked behind me and a huge majority of the runners took off towards the half marathon course. So I found myself quite lonely at this point and knew, right then and there, that this race was going to be a fight. 

I turned on my music and pushed forward. Before I knew it, I was passing mile marker 5. I got a text from my best running friend/turned running coach, letting me know I was at the one hour mark. Ok. Good. One hour down. I can do this. 

 
By this point, I was feeling good. I felt strong.  I got a text at the halfway mark telling me I reached the halfway at 2:31, and my estimated finish time would be 12:58pm. That would be a sub 5 hour marathon finish. I knew I was going fast. I knew I would burn out. I knew I needed to save some in the tank. But I struggled slowing down. I was feeling good. I would soon come to see that I made a huge rookie mistake! 

I kept running and, boom.  

 
Every turn was boom  

 
At mile 17, I began to question whether I could pull this off. The sub 5 hour finish time was getting further and further away from me. Which was fine because I never really had a time goal, but at this point, the wheels began to fall off. I had my 3 best running friends texting me, telling me to finish what I set out to do. I was trying. I really was. At mile 20, I. Was. Done. I was done with this race. I was done with the pain in my feet. Done with the sweat in my face. Done with the pain in my foot. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I was reduced to a shuffle when my phone rang. Who’s calling me in the middle of a marathon? 

I answered the call. On the other line was my best running friend, turned running coach, turned best friend. I didn’t talk. I simply listened. “You can do this. You got what it takes. I believe in you. Finish the job.” On the other end were my running friends texting me to keep pushing forward, and my family texting me to not quit. I shuffled my feet. I cried. I walked. I cried.  

 
The end was near.  

 
This felt like the longest mile ever.  

 
But with some more encouragement, and another phone call, I made it. Official time was 5:39:12. A marathon person best by almost 2 hours! I cried. A lot. I sat in a chair, trying to process the trauma I just put my body through, and the high of becoming a marathoner again. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day. The free food was great, and the company was even better.  

 
  

I hobbled the rest of the day. I slept. I ate. I rode the high of what I just accomplished. That is, until the next day. 

Rumors began to circulate on social media in reference to the course length. Specifically, it was short. While the course certification was correct, the barricade placement was not. The course was, in fact, 25.9 miles. So that means, on paper, it was not a marathon. 

I struggled with this for a while. I became upset. “How can this again happen? Why did this happen? My race no longer means anything.” These were some of the things I told myself over and over. But, as the day wore on, I was reminded that this does not erase all of my hard work. This doesn’t mean I didn’t run a marathon. This doesn’t take away from the fact that I was out there doing the dang thing. So, yes. I am a marathoner! 

Will I run this race again? At first, the answer was a firm, “heck no!” But time heals sore feet, and all wounds. Ask me today if I’ll run the race again, and the answer is, “Yes! See you in 2017!”

Until next time. 

XOXO 

Mercedes Benz Half Marathon Recap

A few months ago, a friend told me I needed to come down to Birmingham, AL for one of the best races I’ll ever run: The Mercedes Benz Half Marathon. Best race? That definitely sounds interesting. I registered and booked hotel accommodations; excited to run “the best race ever.” I felt good in the months leading up to this race. Until mid January, when I came down with who-knows-what after my trip to Walt Disney World. Once again, I was sidelined and missed a few weeks of training. My doctor advised me I should probably pull out of this race because it takes me a while to bounce back after an asthma episode. But anyone who know anything about races knows that everything is always non-refundable, there was no question about it: I was going.

I made the short drive down to Birmingham in almost 3 hours because, yes, I got lost. No surprise there. My first stop was packet pick up at the expo:

Everything was very well organized and I picked my things up in less than 5 minutes. I spent some time walking the expo, meeting new people, and visiting vendors. I kept my hands out of my purse, and walked away without buying anything. Shocking, I know! I didn’t stay long. I was tired and wanted to get settled in to my room early because of the last minute 5K I registered for on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning was COLD. Temperatures were hovering around the freezing mark, so that really wasn’t the problem. The problem was the terrible head wind in the Downtown Birmingham area.

Regions Field Birmingham, AL

The race was very fun, and it was nice seeing so many people dressed up in their favorite costume. I met up with a good friend who was there to pick up her bib for her first half, raced, picked up my medal, met up with another friend, and got out of there. It was cold. For dinner that night, I met up with a group of friends at a local burger joint, where no one thought of having a group picture taken. What were we thinking, Jodi? But it was a good evening, and we shared a lot of laughs.

Once back in my room, I got all the morning’s race gear laid out, packed my bags, and got myself to bed. This is where things began to unravel for me. I couldn’t sleep. At all. I tossed and turned, got up to change the thermostat FIVE times, went to the bathroom a handful of times, and sat straight up in bed for hours with a stomachache. I wanted to cry. I knew morning would be rough if I didn’t get some sleep. Finally, a little after 2am, I dozed off only to be awoken by my alarm at 4:45.

My head hurt. My stomach hurt. I felt sick. I sat at the edge of the bed wondering what should I do. I decided to eat something slowly, and get ready slowly, and see how I felt once I got down there. Only, I didn’t bring my true and tested bagel and/or peanut butter. All I had was a Clif Bar that I purchased the day before at Starbucks. I don’t like to try anything new on race day, but I had to eat something. I nibbled on my Clif Bar, sipped on my Nuun, and was out the door by 5:45. I turned my GPS on, and Siri could not find the starting line. 

Zooming into the map, I saw all the surrounding roads were closed off. I, somehow, managed to make it down there, got into the wrong lane, begged the car behind me to let me in, parked the car, and made it to our meeting point, sobbing into my friends arms. It was a rough morning, I was late, I had less than 3 hours of sleep, and somehow I was supposed to get through 13.1 miles. 

Once I was calm, we made our way to the starting line, and I realized I left my sunglasses and Chapstick in the car. Then I became separated from 2 of my friends. I was so upset because I wanted and needed to be by Sherita for her first half. Suddenly, the gun went off, and I’ve also yet to use my inhaler or take in my fuel. I literally crossed the starting line swallowing my GU, and washing it down with water. I then stopped to use my inhaler and blow my nose. I couldn’t find Sherita so I began my lonely run.

It was cold, but not as cold as the previous day. I began to get hot at mile 3, so I shed my scarf and tossed it. I felt good at this point. I focused on my music and the people and sights around me. I saw the clock at mile 5 and realized I was running faster than usual and maybe I should slow it down because there’s no telling how long I could keep this up. I tried to slow down but kept finding myself speeding back up. I hit the halfway mark in 1:10:19. Again, faster than I’ve run in a long time, and I wondered if I could pick it up some more and run off with a PR (something I was not planning for at ALL).

But then we hit the UAB campus, and the hills and turns started. Now, the hills weren’t TERRIBLE, but enough to where my foot was wanting to shut it down. I hit the 15K checkpoint at a slower pace, and was way off the mark for a PR. But I was determined to run hard the last 4 miles. After all, what goes up must come down, right?

The course began to go downhill, so I was able to pick some speed up. I remember reading once that if you’re able to cross the finish line at a sprint, you didn’t race hard enough. So my goal was to race hard right now. My foot began to yell at me at mile 11, and I began to yell back at it. I couldn’t stop. Not now. Not this close. I hit mile 12 at 2:23:18. I’d need to wrap this race up in less than 6 minutes if I wanted to PR. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I ran as fast as my aching legs and burning lungs could take me. Rounding the corner, hearing the crowd, hearing the race announcer call my name, with the finish line in sight, tears began to sting my eyes.

2016 Mercedes Benz Half Marathon 2:33:31

I crossed the finish line 4 minutes shy of a PR. So why was I as ecstatic as I was? Why was I ugly crying? Because I can honestly say that I gave it my everything. Because I ran my fastest, and my hardest, since undergoing back surgery in September. But also because I ran on less than 3 hours of sleep, and had a crazy emotional morning.

I collected my things, and hurried into the auditorium to meet up with everyone, eager to hear their stories. One at a time everyone made it in and lots of sweaty hugs and stories  were shared. Then the after party started.

After The Party Is The After Party

Let me tell you about this race: the after party alone is worth the trip down here. They had something for everyone: free massages, BBQ, beer, soda, chips, fruit, live music, and dancing. I spent time with friends, and made some new friends:

 

We shared stories, race tips, celebrated success stories, and I laughed until my sides hurt. I always knew my race routines and OCD will one day catch up with me and be my downfall. It is true that you can never truly be prepared for every situation possible. 

I had a complete turn around from the morning I had, and I know this group had a lot to do with that.
Not every race will be a PR, but I am pleased with how I raced. I am excited to begin to train hard and work on my speed, because that PR is right around the corner.

Thank you, Mercedes Benz Half Marathon! I will see you next year.

  
 XOXO

All Things Hydration

Lets face it: there’s more to running than, well, running. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t just head out the door and run. You need the right kind of sneakers,¬†clothes, sports bras, socks, fuel, sunglasses, hydration, hat/visor, and even headbands. Suddenly, running has now become¬†rocket science; finding what works, what doesn’t, what fits, what’s necessary. Today we are going to talk about hydration.

I’ve never been a fan of sport drinks. They’re loaded in sugar and hurt my stomach. If I’m forced to have one, I have to add water or it’s a no go. Last year I began training for my first Spartan Race and a fellow racer mentioned a product called nuun; an¬†electrolyte enhanced drink tablet which you pop into your water. It was love at first sip.

Recently I read about plus for nuun; an electrolyte carbohydrate tablet. Say what?

I already knew this would be a game changer for me because I DISLIKE fueling on a run.¬†A lot of products that I’ve tried bother my stomach. I’ve tried jelly beans, different flavors of GU at different temperatures, gummy bears, as well as Blocks. I take them as directed, with water, but something about the texture makes me gag. I mean, there’s nothing like being 6 miles into a marathon when you begin to battle nausea. So I figured I will give the Plus for Nuun a try during today’s 10 mile run. I prepped the drink last night. It is recommended 1-2 Plus for Nuun tablets per 16 – 24 fluid ounces. It is flavorless, so I added my favorite Cherry limeade energy tablet.

I fueled like I normally do before leaving the house (Cliff Bar), and ran my 10 miles with only the water I prepared in my Camelbak.


I had no problems with nausea, zero fatigue, zero cramping, and needed zero fuel. No GU’s, no raisins, no gummy bears, no bananas, no anything today! I felt strong the entire 10 miles. Again, this is a game changer for me, personally.


Nuun can be found at most sporting good stores, and of course, online at http://www.nuun.com. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Have you ever tried nuun? What’s your go to fuel method?

Until next time.

XOXO