The Louisiana Marathon (The Half) Recap

halfmarathon

Um. Y’all? As of late Sunday morning, I became a half marathoner, thanks to The Louisiana Marathon (The Half)!

I’m sure many of you knew just how nervous I was about this race. My last run was terrible…..9.4 miles and my pace was embarrassing. I thought for sure I’d get swept. For sure.

I had various dreams the week of the race, proving how random and crazy my subconscious is. Here’s two that I can still remember:

  • One was about how they closed the course for 2 hours to allow Mike the Tiger (LSU’s mascot) to go for his morning walk on the campus streets. I remember being at mile 9 and feeling great…then we got a text 2 hours later that we had 30 minutes left to finish the race or you’d get no medal.
  • Another was about how I ended up waking up on time, but I just couldn’t get moving (hate those dreams). By the time I started to leave the house, it was 6:50 and the race was going to start at 7!

Crazy, stupid dreams. None of them ended with me in a medal. :-\ It was really messing with me, mentally.

Also, at the expo on Friday, I wore BOOTS. Stupid stupid stupid. I ended up with some blisters on my feet, and I texted my friend hoping that it wasn’t a bad sign. Don’t wear boots (no matter how comfy you think they are) to an expo. ::sigh::

Saturday night, I laid out everything that I would need on race day, so I could just wake up, eat my banana with PB, get dressed and be done. It’s a tip that I’ve read on blogs, and I’m so glad I did. One less thing to worry about!

On Sunday, my husband and I went downtown, found a great parking spot, and I slowly worked my way to the starting line with him. My husband was SO awesome for going with me at 5:30am. I saw a few friends who were also doing the half, and before we all knew it, it was time to line up for the start. My old college roommate, Sarah, generously offered to run the whole race with me. She wasn’t looking to PR (thank goodness), and since this was her 10th half marathon, I was relieved to have someone with me who has done this rodeo before. :-)

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The half marathon basically went from downtown Baton Rouge, to LSU campus and back. At least that’s what I told myself to make 13.1 miles seem less daunting. :-)

halfmarathonmap
Photo credit: Bing Maps (through Garmin Connect)

I’m going to admit right now that mile 1 was terrible. TERRIBLE. I think that mile 1 for me is one of the hardest miles to run in any training run/race. Everything is screaming at me to stop now, and my pace was looking terrible. I seriously thought…well, that’s it. I’m gonna end up swept after mile 1. That smile below is relief…SWEET relief. I hate mile 1 forever and ever. (Trust me, I’m not alone…google it. Mile 1 stinks.)

Mile 1
Photo Credit: My friend, Sarah

Mile 2 wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the darn overpass that we had to run on. That bridge killed me for the 5K last year, so I was ready for it. My strategy was to walk the up and run the down. :-) It worked out OK for me, since I didn’t feel too too bad afterwards. Just in case, though, I ended up eating a couple of Gu Chomps, and downing some Powerade at the water station (I did this every 2 miles).

Once mile 3 hit, I was sort of in the zone. I was making great time (for me, that is), and my muscles were no longer in pain. Look at that cheesy ol’ grin! 5k down, 10 to go! I also saw a good friend in college who made a sign for me! Definitely a pepper upper!

I felt like this until about mile 7.

Mile 3
Photo Credit: My friend, Sarah

At mile 7, my left ankle was super sore. I have ankle issues from an old injury in high school, so I have to wear shoes with more support. They usually do the trick, but I think running the roads with those potholes in the Garden District finally caught up to me. Thankfully, my best friend came to see me at this point, and we talked a good bit, while walking of course.

At mile 8, my feet started to rub. Even though I used Body Glide, and tied my shoes on tightly, I felt the pain in my heels. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when those shoes came off.

As you can see here, I’m running in place for the mile 9 marker. I reached a point where if I stopped, I had a feeling things were going to cramp. So, no stopping!

Mile 9
Photo Credit: My friend, Sarah

Mile 9 & 10 were pretty rough, but what kept me going is that after mile 10, we were going to meet up with the marathoners, which was SO inspiring. Also, after mile 10, like my friend Sarah said, would be the longest distance I’ve ever done! Just after mile 10, I saw my college friend again who made another sign for me! I mean c’mon…the support was AWESOME.

At mile 11, I saw my best friend one last time for a quick high five and hug (sorry it was probably so sweaty!). Right after, I used the last burst of energy I had before facing the same overpass. Once the bridge came, I was really dragging. It burnt out my muscles, and I didn’t think I had anything left in me.

Thankfully, at that point, the marathon and half marathon course merged until the finish, so I ended up running near some of the faster marathoners. I thought they would give me funny looks since I was really hobbling the next couple of miles, but quite a few of them slowed down to pat me on the back, told me I was doing a great job and encouraged me to keep going. (I definitely told them great job as well….because 26.2 miles…holy moly!)

At mile 12, I was still a tired, limpy mess. Right after the bridge, there were some ladies with coke & king cake for the runners. I didn’t think much of it, but my friend Sarah insisted that a tiny bit of coke would give me a quick jolt to finish.

Oh man, my left ankle was sore again, and my feet were on fire. At one point, my foot started feeling like pins and needles (which I kind of appreciated). It was the LONGEST MILE EVER. I guess this was my wall. Sarah kept encouraging me (thank goodness) and we joked with a few cops to just drop us off at the finish festival haha! There were also a ton of race finishers walking to their cars who were so encouraging! I also saw another friend and her husband who had finished the half earlier but stuck around to cheer on friends who were still doing the half/full, and they gave me a quick high five before I turned that last corner to the finish. :-)

We turned the last corner to where I could see the finish line before mile 13, and my friend Sarah said I HAD to run in for the finish. So, I sprinted (at least in my head I sprinted haha). NO IDEA where that came from….maybe the coke did the trick? LOL! Seriously….but I ran as hard and as fast as I could for the finish line!

I just teared up and smiled. (hopefully there’s no picture of that ugly mess haha) I was in disbelief. I took a water, banana and chocolate milk and thanked Sarah for being there for me  that day. I really didn’t think I had 13 in me after mile 1. She reminded me that I needed to go get my medal (oops!), so we picked up our medals and took our pictures.

halfmarathonfinish
Photo Credit: My friend, Sarah

Here’s the Garmin break-down of things. You can definitely see that mile 12-13 was the worst. :-\ Also, for 13 til the finish, I forgot to turn off my Garmin at first, so the time isn’t super accurate. My official chip time was 3:39.

halfmarathon

Here’s my new medal next to the 5K medal that I earned last year in the same race series. It’s a reminder that the human body is an amazing thing. Truly amazing. Back when I weighed 298 lbs., I had no idea my body was capable of a half marathon. No idea.

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Now, the big question. Will I do it again? I think I want to, but it would definitely have to be at a lighter weight. I really loved how the half marathon varied from a 5K. At random points, we’d all talk to one another about our running journeys, and there was a small group of us who sort of stuck together. It felt like a small community that morning. :-) I really liked it!

I will also admit that this race was perfectly organized. I loved how gorgeous the race course is, and everything in my experience went off without a hitch. Thanks to the organizers and the multiple volunteers who made The Louisiana Marathon possible!

Also, a huge thanks to:

  • my husband Joey, who sent me encouraging texts every mile and dealt with my complaints during training
  • my family for their supportive calls/texts
  • my friend Sarah, for running the entire half with me and dealing with my weak points…there were a lot of them
  • my friend Jenna for being there during those tough mile points and just being the most amazing best friend a gal could ever ask for!
  • my friend Melanie, who constantly dealt with my half marathon questions and doubts haha!
  • other friends who made signs or gave me a high five during the race
  • my food blogger friends, especially Kristen, Katrina & Sarah for their guidance, texts, FB messages, etc.
  • you guys!! Oh man….your comments/tweets/emails have been amazing! Y’all are just so kind!
  • and…..last but not least, those random strangers who had no idea who I was, but knew I needed a pat on the back or a “You Can Do It!” after mile 11.

(I hope I didn’t forget anyone…)

I will never forget this race. Ever.

DISCLAIMER: Now, of course before you start any type of workout program, it’s best to check with your doctor. I’m not a doctor…just some random blogger. Seriously, check with your doctor before taking on a workout program, especially if you have had injuries or you’re overweight. Running can be hard on your body, so you want to make sure you don’t make anything worse or hurt yourself…period!

The Color Run 5K

I was pretty nervous about this race. For one, they had the race scheduled to start at 10am, and around here lately, it’s either 85 degrees (full-on humidity) or 40 degrees (Brr..). I haven’t had much luck with warmer weather running so far this year, and it makes me wonder how in the heck did I run in 90+ degrees 3 afternoons/week.

We got downtown around 8am, because I was just nervous about the parking situation. I met up with my friends, and we took up a table at the Main Street Market near the farmer’s market to just pass the time. I ordered a peanut butter/banana crepe, because while the smell of bacon permeated around the building, I just wanted to stick to my pre-race tried and true (well, not the crepe part..the pb/b part). Around 9:30, we decided to walk towards the starting line, and we saw this.

::jaw drop::

The starting line was WAYYY up there (beyond the inflatable arch you see in the picture). Goodness…

Color Run

…and 20 minutes later, this was behind us…

Color Run

My friend and I realized based on the number of runners, there was no way we’d get a run in today. Just SO many people…it was ridiculous. We were standing around for a while, and realized the race was running pretty late. It was 10:20am, and we were still stuck. My sister heard that they were releasing people in small groups, which makes sense, but had I known, we would have edged towards the front more. Since we were waiting for a while, we decided to take a few random pictures. Here’s us & the shirts that we made with our team name.

Color Run

I totally googled “color run teams” to find our team name, by the way. It’s not original at all. :-P

Before we knew it, we were in the front section by the starting line. The Color Run folks threw a few promo items, and after that, they mentioned that while this race is about having a good time, we shouldn’t forget about what happened in Boston earlier in the week. They said that a few teams even changed their name to give tribute to the marathoners, which I thought was a great gesture. :-) After pumping up the crowd, they started a countdown, and we started (finally) running at 10:47am.

When we started, we all semi-agreed to stay together. However, I’m a slow poke. I tried to catch up to my friends/sister, but before I knew it, I was battling a nasty side cramp, and decided to slow it down. I didn’t turn on my RunKeeper for this race, because I just didn’t want to obsess over my pace. I wanted to enjoy the Color Run experience, and just have a good, solid run. It was hard to keep running through a side cramp, but I remembered reading somewhere to inhale/exhale hard and that would rid of it. It definitely helped.

After what seemed to be FOREVER, I approached color station #1. Holy cow…major blue cloud!

Color Run

I wanted to get some color on my race shirt, so I ran along the side and got blasted. LOL! Those volunteers were having the time of their lives, it seemed. After the blue station, my leg cramp started to go away (I usually have leg cramps like crazy the first mile or so…), so I told myself just run to one more color station. I can do this. At this part of the race, I started to get annoyed. I stayed on the left/middle part of the street, because while I’m not the fastest, I certainly was passing a few people up. My annoyance was from the fact that despite the great amount of signs that said “Runners Left/Walkers Right”, no one seemed to give a flip about it. It was hard to go around these groups of friends/families, who were really just strolling along. I didn’t want to stop running, though, so I did yell “Excuse me!” quite a few times to people who just wouldn’t move to the right.

Color Run

It seemed like it took quite a while to get to the yellow station. I was happy to get there though, because at that point, the streets were a lot wider and I took it as an opportunity to up the pace and pass some groups. And yes, I did get a good bit of yellow color, too. :-) At that point, my legs were feeling fine (surprisingly), and I told myself…one more station.

Color Run

The pink station came a lot quicker than the yellow one, in my opinion. I was in the zone, running wise, and was so thrilled about it. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the pink station, but I stayed towards the middle since I had a good gap there. Before I knew it, my mouth was FULL of pink cornstarch. Blech…a volunteer got me right in the face. I ended up coughing quite a bit, slowed my pace down to feel back to normal and saw the water station. It was like a God send. Sadly though, the line for the water station was ridiculous. I realized that I was probably a mile from the finish line, so if I could just push through this last mile, I’ll get a bottle of water soon enough. :-)

It was then that my friend called me to tell me she crossed the finish line (and yes, I was jogging while talking on the phone…crazy!). Holy cow…she usually finishes in 30 minutes, so that means I was on track to finish in 45 minutes if I was (what I thought was) a mile away! So, I upped the pace a little bit, and before I knew it, there was the purple station. The last color station. WHEE!

Color Run

After the purple station, I made the last turn in the street. There it was…the finish line was there. I looked at my clock and realized if I pushed it and made it to the finish line in 3 minutes, I would finish in 42 minutes. OMG. So, I went for it! My legs were a little bit tired, but I was thinking “OMG…I just ran the WHOLE FREAKING 5K. No walk breaks!”

Y’all…I can’t tell you how happy I was. Last summer,  I was straining through 1 minute jogs, and less than a year later, I ran 3.1 miles like it was no big deal. WHAT? I got to the finish area just in time to watch the crowd throw their color packets. So pretty.

Color Run

I would have ran towards the crowd, but since I was meeting my husband for lunch right after, I didn’t want to get too colorful. :-) Watching from a safe distance was just as fun, though. After the race, I finally met up with my sister and we got an after pic together. :-) I wanted to also get one with my friend, but she had plans that afternoon, and since the race ran a bit over, she had to leave fairly quickly.

Color Run

All in all, I had a good time at this race. Will I do it again? Probably not. I think it’s a wonderful event for families and friends to get together, but it was just SO crowded. I also think it’s a bit on the spendy side for a race that isn’t timed, so I have a feeling this is my first/last Color Run. I think everyone should give this type of race a try at least once in their lifetime…it’s definitely a different race experience!

The Advocate Cypress 5K Recap

A few months ago, my friend and I decided to sign up for The Advocate Cypress 5K. It’s organized by the Louisiana Marathon, and the 5K race is held the day before the Louisiana Half/Marathon, so we knew the crowds wouldn’t be so bad, but it would probably be well-organized since this race was very popular last year.

Fast forward to January, and well, the past couple of weeks have been terrible. Non-stop rain and super cold weather just made everything seem miserable. Add being under the weather for a week, and well…preparing for this 5K just wasn’t getting any easier. Oh, and not to mention this gal didn’t run at all from Thanksgiving until after Christmas. I had no excuses…I just got lazy during the holidays. I told my friend who did the 5K with me….as long as I cross that finish line, I’ll be happy. Oh, and as long as it doesn’t rain, because if it rained during the race while I was getting over my illness, I was definitely going to stay home.

Well, I checked the 10 day forecast, and each day, it said the same thing: Sunny weather with lows in the lower 40s, highs in the lower 60s. Perfection. It was sort of a joke the Thursday before the race when the rain ended. So many pictures on Facebook of Mr. Sun, with people what this bright ball of light was. HA! Even my dog did a double take when she went outside…I’m telling y’all…we’re aren’t used to that type of weather!

On Friday, I went to the expo to pick up my bib and shirt. I was so excited about this shirt, because it was supposed to be a nice running shirt. However, when I got there, the lady at the table insisted that the “L” on my registration form = women’s large. Um…no. I ordered unisex large, but she said I’d have to go back after the race to switch it. Bummer…I never did switch it, because the expo opened about an hour after I was done with the race. My husband told me to just think of it as motivation to lose weight to fit into it….I guess in about 30 lbs. it’ll fit? Right now, it’s super tight…I’m surprised I got the shirt over my shoulders. LOL! This was the only bummer about my race experience…I know it had nothing to do with the organizers…it was just that particular volunteer at the expo.

Anyway, so Saturday morning came and the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. Slightly chilly with barely any wind, and the Sun was just beaming. I had a feeling it would be a good race at that point, and then I checked my email one last time before leaving the house…

The Advocate Cypress 5K

That’s the first time I’ve ever gotten that type of email. Way awesome, in my opinion.

So, I picked up my friend, and we easily parked downtown and took our time walking to the starting line. When we turned the corner, this is what we saw.

The Advocate Cypress 5K

I’m used to a small balloon arch or something, but wow…once again I was pretty impressed.

My friend and I found a spot on the sidewalk to talk a bit and get ready, and we decided it would probably be best to take a picture before we looked a sweaty mess. :-P Seriously…look at that sky, too! PERFECT day.

The Advocate Cypress 5K

Before we knew it, we were lining up at the starting line. :-)

The Advocate Cypress 5K

The race organizers were right on time with the start. 8:00am and everyone was on their way. I had my RunKeeper app on, and checked my phone every block to watch my pace. I still tend to get a little adrenaline rush, and go 4-5 minutes faster a minute at the very beginning if I don’t watch myself. So to avoid burn out, I moved to the far right of the group and slowed down to a 14 minute mile, which is still fast for me, but I knew a big bridge was coming up TWICE in the race, and I wanted a PR, if possible.

To recap, my first 5K in August was 51:06, and my second 5K in October was 49:47. As you all know, I’m VERY slow, and I’ve yet to run a full 5K without walking breaks.

The Advocate Cypress 5K

Right before the dreaded bridge, I saw this sign. WHAT? Mile 1 ALREADY?? Oh man…awesome.

Then I hit the bridge. I had a plan to walk a 16:00 minute/mile pace, and used my height to my advantage. Long strides…my time was looking great! When I got to the decline of the bridge, I took advantage of the slope and ran down. :-) Sometime around there, I saw my friend on the way back (she’s super fast lol) and gave her a high five! It definitely gave me a little pep in my step to see her, and exchange some “YOU GO GIRL!”s. :-)

I made it around the loop shortly after, and realized OMG…I’m already halfway done?! YES! My pace was looking great, too!

I hit the bridge the second time with the same goal…walk with long strides. I had a lady that was sort of back and forth with me most of the race, which was great motivation to stay on pace. (Does anyone else have silent competition in these 5Ks? This lady was my competition, sort of….is that wrong?) Then, once again, I ran down the bridge and right after the bridge, I saw this.

The Advocate Cypress 5K

Mile 2…oh HECK yes! Y’all this race was FLYING. I was still doing well with my pace, and I turned around quickly and the lady I was back and forth with during the race was way back there. Um, mini victory? That has NEVER happened y’all. They usually pass ME up! I sound so silly, I know, but I’m the person counting where I was in reference to last place. My first 5k….6th to last. Second 5K….about 20th to last. There were quite a few people behind me at this point, so I decided to keep on keeping on. :-)

About a block from the last turn, I walked one last time so I could run the entire last stretch. Once I hit that turn, I started jogging again, but noticed my pace wasn’t as good as the beginning. Oh well…I was still doing OK, and figured if I sprinted the last block, I would be good to go!

My friend texted me about that time “Come on girl…you got this!” (My friend is really the best!) It made me realize that I was really almost done, and I could make this a PR! At the last block, my friend was there, and she helped me sprint to the finish! Right at the finish, I was like OMG I GET A MEDAL! Then, I looked down at my RunKeeper and I saw it…a PR!!! I was SO stoked. I took a couple of steps to get my medal, looked up and saw that Zach Mettenberger (LSU’s quarterback) was giving out medals. Stupid me should have gotten a picture in case he’s super famous in the NFL someday, but all I wanted was a dang banana and water. LOL!

Check out this medal! I love it. :-)

The Advocate Cypress 5K

Now, a bit of bummer news. I guess I started my RunKeeper after my chip crossed the starting line, because my official time with the 5K was just a few seconds shy of a PR. That’s OK though…I was very close and felt GREAT after the race. :-)

This has been my favorite 5K so far. Thanks to the Louisiana Marathon organizers for putting on such an amazing event. I think my next goal is to one day do their half marathon, but we’ll see where my running journey takes me. :-)

Zoo Zoom 5K

Last Saturday was my first 5K. Well, I used to do 5Ks with friends in college, but most of the time, I walked the course. I was never a runner, and I didn’t really care about my place in the race. I cared more about the free jambalaya and drinks afterward. Typical college student, right? MUST.FIND.FOOD. :-P

I have been doing the Couch to 5K training program for weeks now, so I figured it would be cool to test myself and see how I could do. I didn’t have high expectations, because my current pace is very slow, but I was really hoping for a 45 minute time.

Spoiler alert: 45 minutes didn’t happen.

The day before the race, it stormed, which isn’t really a big deal unless you live in a place like this. The day after a nasty storm, it’s usually crazy humid outside. I thought that maybe 8:15am starting time wouldn’t be SO bad, since it was still kind of early, so I woke up, ate most of a Luna bar, some fresh raspberries and chugged down a glass of water. Then, as I was getting ready to leave, I got SO nervous. I kept thinking to myself…what am I doing? Am I really going to do this? Thank God I had my friend doing this with me, because I probably would have chickened out and crawled back into bed.

Then, I thought…hey, it’s just a 5K. In the middle of the summer. How crowded could it be?

So, my friend and I arrived at the zoo, and the parking lot was PACKED. It was a HUGE turnout, and there were so many runners out there who looked like they meant business.

ZooZoom1

I kept telling my friend “We got this…we’re gonna rock this”, but in the back of my head I kept saying “Don’t pass out…don’t fall…don’t come in last”.

Before I knew it, the race started. I put on my Pandora station, and started my jog. I was feeling pretty good, and noticed that I saw a 13:29 pace on my app. To me, that was CRAZY fast. So, I slowed down to avoid the burn-out. My usual pace is a VERY slow 16:30ish, so I tried to stick to 15:00/mile pace as long as I could.

For the first mile, time flew. I wasn’t staring at my phone to check my stats much, and realized that I was doing a pretty good job with my pace after I saw the Mile 1 sign. :-) Then, around 1.5 miles, the usual zoo canopy of trees were gone, replaced with a side part of the track where we had to run through some sort of back parking lot. OH MY GAH. No shade…humid as all get out….and HOT. I was so sad to do this, but I had to walk. I walked for about half a mile until I got back under the trees, and got right back to running.

The second run was just SO difficult to get back into. I was hot, sweaty and felt like I was truly the slowest person there. I never turned around to see if anyone was behind me, but I felt truly alone at that point. There was one point around this time where I was running on the right side of the track, since I knew there would be mile 3 runners running on the same part of the track (yeah, the loops in this race were VERY confusing), and a volunteer shouted at me to move for the REAL runners (despite already being on the right side of the track). :(

That guy was the only volunteer who was like that. I have to admit, the other volunteers were truly wonderful. Even though I was one of the slowest ones there, they kept telling me “great job”, “keep it up”, “you’re awesome”…things like that. I really appreciated that, and every time, I’d try to muster out a “thank you” since they really did inspire me to keep pushing. :-)

When I saw the mile 3 sign, I told myself to SPRINT. I can sprint 0.1 miles, and I figured it was just around the curve that I was running. I got super excited, but the curve kept going on and on and on…seriously. But then, I heard my friend. She was screaming “GO AMY!”, so I kept my sprint going to that finish. I saw my time as I crossed the finish line…51:06.

I was SO discouraged….like very bummed, but then I gave my friend a huge hug, and she said “You DID IT! You FINISHED a 5K!” My first reaction was WATER. SNACK. CHAIR., so we walked over to the pavilion where the rest of the runners were and I grabbed what I needed. :-)

ZooZoom4

After guzzling down the water and slowly eating some animal crackers, I was so relieved to finally catch my breath. :-)

My friend and I took a picture, and until then, I didn’t really realize how much I was SWEATING!

zoozoom3

By the way, do you recognize this shirt?

After a few minutes, I decided to check the results to see how I did. I was 6th to last place. (yikes) However, on my Runkeeper app, I noticed that my overall pace was completely AWESOME. Way better than any long run I’ve ever done, and this race was almost twice as much as my longest C25K workout! :-D So, that was awesome. And, my results can only get better from here!

My friend and I are already looking for a 5K to do this Fall, in fact! :-)