Monday, March 12, 2012

I am a marathoner!

 Above: Around 6:00 a.m., in the hotel lobby. Mistake number 1: change in my routine. My normal pre-long run food is oatmeal. Although I brought oatmeal from home, I tried the hotel oatmeal. It was not fully cooked, which left me wondering if it would digest properly. I quickly opted for one of the protein bars I bought at the expo the day before.
Below: Making my way to the corrals. Behind me you can see the start line. Excited!

 Above: A friend from Eufaula, Stephanie. She was running her first half-marathon. She finished right at 2 hours, amazing pace. Congratulations Stephanie!
Below: All of the Sole2Soul Sisters decided to start together. We met up in Corral 20 and prayed together before the start of the race. We were a couple of blocks back from the start line. Rock N Roll does this so right! The corral start is very well organized and makes everything smooth.
Mistake #2! Panic moment! I left my Garmin in the room. Thankfully, we were only two blocks from the hotel. Scott ran back to the hotel to get my Garmin. A few of us walked ahead of the crowd and made a quick potty break. Possibly one of the nastiest things EVER! Let's just leave it at that.
 I met up with Scott to get my watch! Whew! That was a little crazy start.

 Jackie and I ran together from about mile 2-17. I had a goal of finishing in around 5 hours. I thought I would be fine on my own because I am so used to running by myself. I was so glad to have Jackie with me though. Even with the corral starts, the first half was super crowded. At one point, we even jumped up in the median to run. Although this was easier on our legs and did not require so much weaving in and out, I almost tripped, so it was back to the road.
 At the 5K mark, my time was 34:38, an 11:08 pace, right where I wanted to be.
It was important to not start out too fast. I was trying to stay 11:00-11:15.
And, I was all smiles!

 The sun was shining, the temperatures were in the 50's and all was right in the world.
There were still plenty of beads in the trees leftover from Mardi Gras
and a few hazardous ones on the streets.
I was looking for Scott at mile 8, but finally found him at mile 9. It was really warming up and I had planned to leave my extra shirt with him. Like my friend Missy says, you gotta get a little naked in NOLA. Well, that's as close as I'll get. It sure did feel good though to cool down a bit. I had already refilled my water bottles at mile 8. I was carrying 18 ounces total. I had also taken my first Gu at around 55 minutes and my plan was to take those every 45 minutes or so.  

 Once we finished in the business district downtown, it was off to the French Quarter.
This mega blow-up by Brooks Running is just kinda comical. It welcomes you into the
heart of the French Quarter. This time passes fast as you are passing all the typical touristy
sites like Jackson Square, Hard Rock, Cafe du Monde and the French Market.

 Around mile 12, you do have the option to keep running the full or go straight ahead to a half-marathon finish. There was never any question that I was going to finish this thing, so a hard left I took. I was already taking some walk breaks, but was able to keep Jackie in my sight.
2:28:45 was my actual time for the half, an 11:20 pace.
Mistake #3: Although I look pretty excited in this picture, I just didn't feel great. I just felt FULL! I don't know if it was the protein bar or if I took in way too much water.

After the half split off, it was a liberating feeling to not have to weave in and out of people. In hindsight though, perhaps that helped keep me going. I started fading quickly on the back half. There was a long, kinda boring stretch along the back side of City Park. There were very few spectators, but we did see the speedy marathoners coming back on the other side of the street. We finally turned to run along the waterway. Miles 16-22 were along Lakeshore Drive. At mile 17, I started taking a lot more walking breaks and NEVER got into a good pace again. I still had Jackie in my sight at mile 20, but after that, there were some slow miles. 
 Perhaps that was my wall. I never felt like it was unattainable, but I just grew exhausted. I couldn't find a happy pace. I was in a complete mental fog. I had intentions of writing quotes on my arm and dedicated those last 6.2 to miles to certain people, but I never followed through with that. Big regret. I needed something to carry me through. I was trying to think clearly, but honestly just couldn't.
 Interestingly enough, this man had a keg out in front of his mansion at 11:00 on a Sunday morning. I asked him to give me a ride to the finish line, but I guess he would have needed a designated driver.  Shortly after this, I saw a man doubled over and a bystander trying to encourage him to just keep going, he only a had a "couple more miles". BTW, 2 or 3 miles is a LONG way when you have already been 23. Those words are NOT comforting. Tell me when I have .2 and that might encourage me. The poor guy looked like he was going to vommit, but he was having extreme cramps. Although I was doing a lot of walking, I was grateful to God that nothing really was hurting. I was just worn down and exhausted, mentally and physically. I mean, everything hurt, but nothing HURT. As you can calculate, it took me 39 minutes to go three miles. Oh well!

At this point, everyone is in the same state of delirium. I just thought this was the most beautiful scenery, so I needed to stop and take a picture. Why not? I had time to spare, huh?
The bands along the course are a good pick me up. The name of this band was Local Skank. OK.?!
Then, we have the official race photos. As Jackie said, yes,
this is PROOF that I did run the marathon.
I think the picture above was taken about mile 25.
Below, coming into the finish.

This one above seems to be the one my friends on FB like, maybe it's because it is the first one in the set. I can't decide if that looks like a muscle or cellulite on my left leg. The jury is out.
Although, I do think the picture below captures some of the emotion I was feeling at the finish.
Again, I can't even describe the mental confusion I felt. I couldn't focus or think straight. I wish I understood if that was just from exhaustion or something I could do different. Poor Scott had been waiting for me with our video camera at the finish. He had just left the sidelines one minute before figuring that he missed me. This is because it took me more than an hour and twenty minutes to go what would normally take about an hour and 5 minutes.
Further clarifying to you that my brain was mush, genius here took off her fuel belt with her bib on it for her finisher picture. Hence, I don't have an official finisher picture, but I do like this one that Scott got with my cell phone.
Below: a quick picture with Ann. She ran the full last year in 4:52 and this year
 she finished in 4:34:49. Wowzer! Way to go Ann!
The finish line from afar.
Scott was upset that he didn't get my finish on video, but I was just too slow. :)
I was just so thankful to finish. I walked through the finishing area, grabbed some chocolate
milk, a banana, and a few other snacks. When I saw Scott on the other side of the finish line,
I completely broke down in tears. What an emotional journey.
More reflections on what I did right and what I did wrong in my next post. If you would
to witness my painful last 6 miles, you can click on the link below to view my Garmin data. Some of the plummets are when I stopped to refill my fuel belt. My Garmin did lose satellites for a moment in the first mile due to the tall buildings. I have a time of 5:11. They have my time as 5:15. Let's compromise and say it was about 5:13. I've got room to grow and become stronger. I only have to shave off about 30 seconds per mile to get in under 5 hours.
Marine Corps Marathon here I come-October 28.
NOLA Marathon by leahmoore at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rock N Roll NOLA Expo

 Just before this picture, there was literally a countdown until race time, but it mysteriously disappeared. The packet pick up was in the Convention Center, which is ginormous!
Below (L to R): Christina, Paige, Missy, me, Mindy, Ann.
I rode over to Daphne early Saturday morning to ride with Christina. We picked up Ann in Mobile. I had never spent any time with either of them, but I'm not shy. :) We are all part of the Sole2Soul Sisters. Christina and Ann also both work for Alabama Power. Since my husband works for Gulf Power and worked for Alabama Power for more than 16 years, we had plenty in common.

 Above: I met Heather from one of my favorite blogs:
She is also a sales rep for one of my favorite companies: running skirts.
We spent a few hours walking around the expo. I only bought a few protein bars and I pre-ordered a certificate that gave me $75 worth of credit for my marathon photos. It only cost $50. Pretty good deal. We had intentions of going back by the apparel booths, but our stomachs were screaming for food.
 We walked over to the Riverwalk to the food court. It was already almost 2:00. Scott was on his way into town and I wanted to have a nice dinner with him. He had to stay behind due to the boys both having early morning activities. I opted for one of my protein bars instead of a meal at the food court. After that, it was time to head to the hotel. I was ready to get off my feet. I spent some time getting my gear ready and situated.

 Around 5:00, Scott and I set out for dinner. I wanted to stay close by the hotel and just eat at the same place where we ate last year. Scott wanted to explore. We walked and we walked and we walked. We eventually wound up at the same restaurant where a big group of S2S Sisters were eating, but there wasn't enough room to join in. We quickly made our way back to Margaritaville. It was perfect! Scott was able to enjoy a margarita and fish tacos. I had a blackened chicken pasta dish. Yummy! We had never eaten at Margaritaville before, but I would highly recommend it.

 There was a fun band playing in the bar area, but I just got a quick photo and we were on our way. Since we knew we would have to leave after the marathon, it was most important to go ahead to Cafe du Monde. I am so glad that Scott and I had this fun evening together! I would later regret the many miles that I had walked. I would guess that I walked atleast 5 miles on Saturday.
We picked up some caramel and chocolate covered apples for the boys on our way back to the hotel. I was actually in bed by 9:00 and slept pretty well until about 3:00. I would wake every thirty minutes, but was able to go back to sleep. I finally got up around 5:00. And then, the fun began!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Last Long Run before the Marathon

Saturday, February 11 was my longest run to date. Instead of running around my neighborhood by myself, I decided to go over to Daphne to run it with a group of Sole to Soul Sisters. Due to the 4 a..m. start time, I decided to drive over and spend the night with Paige. She was so gracious to let me crash at her house for those few hours of sleep before the 3 a.m. wake up.
I spent the evening before looking for a light for my arm. I have a head lamp on my hat, but I wanted to make sure that cars could see me as we would be running in the dark of night all over streets that were new to me.
Daphne Long Run by leahmoore at Garmin Connect - Details
You can see all my data by clicking on the link above. Overall, it was a successful run. It helped me to run with the group to have support. I tend to start out too quickly which effects me later in my run. I was able to start of in the low 11:00 minute pace, which is where I needed to be. It was colder than I had anticipated and I was super cold most of the run. I would rather be cold than hot any day though.

There were 18 women in all who joined in at some point to run. What an amazing support system they have. They had strategically placed water stops so we were able to refill our hydration belts. Before I knew it, we were on mile 6. I was doing great until I got to miles 13 and 14. My mind started thinking that the half-marathon was over and it was time to relax. As the miles went on, they got tougher. You can tell by my pace that I had to do some intervals to finish it out.

My training schedule only called for 20 miles. If I would have seen my car at mile 20, I certainly would have quit. I'm glad that I didn't though because I needed the extra to make me stronger. I did, however, see me car at 21.5 and that was good enough for me. I finished the 21.5 in 4:05:36, an 11:25 pace. This is exactly where I needed to be to successfully complete my marathon in around 5 hours. Success!!
Above: Katrina, myself, and Mindy after a super early morning run.
Below: Jackie, me, and Paige.

Just a few short weeks until my first marathon. Thank you Paige for letting me spend the night. Thank you S2S Sisters for being such a wonderful ministry to build up women!

Double Bridge Run

The Double Bridge Run was held on February 4, 2012. It is a 15K that is attended by thousands of people and has many elite runners attend. Starting in downtown Pensacola, it crosses the 3-mile bridge over to Gulf Breeze, goes through the heart of Gulf Breeze proper, and then the culmination is conquering the Bob Sikes bridge that takes you onto Pensacola Beach.
Jennifer and I drove down with the kids to pick up our race packets on Friday afternoon. We went for a walk along the boardwalk at Pensacola Beach. Since we always go to Orange Beach, this area was all new to me. There were lots of new shops under construction getting ready for the upcoming vacation season.

My friend Jennifer had been training for this run for months. When we finished the Pensacola Beach Run, she felt like she had an injury. Unfortunately, we think it is a similar injury to what I had gone through in the fall, a stress fracture in the tibia.
After my 18 mile training run on January 27, I was afraid I had hurt my knee or IT band. Although I REALLY wanted to run this race, I knew it was not in my best interest. Jennifer and I decided to just walk the 5K version of the race and support the local running community by being cheerleaders.
Here's my friend Ali, flying through Gulf Breeze.
You can still see the thousands of people battling the bridge.
Here we are at the top of the bridge. Can you say WINDY? We did
get lots of compliments on our matching outfits.
 Jennifer had even made us headbands to match our outfits. I am not crafty at all
and it just amazes me how she can make things from just looking at it.
We found our friend, Fatma, after the race. She had a terrific run and was ready for her
marathon the next weekend in Jacksonville. The after party seemed to be pretty fun, but by the time we meandered across the bridge, it was super crowded. We sat for a while to people watch, but then it was time to call it a day. The day wasn't what we had hoped for, but it was inspiring to watch the runners.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pensacola Beach Run

January 14, 2012

Pensacola Beach Run Half-Marathon

Training is going well in preparation for the full in NOLA on March 4. This was my first time to run this race. It is neat because there are three distances: Half, 10K, and 5K. This is great because my friends could run the 10K and 5K and I wouldn't be alone after the half...well, we thought it was the perfect plan...more on that later.
Scott and I went over on Friday night to pick up my race packet from The Grand Marlin. We had a nice dinner, which I embarassed him by taking pictures of. Those happen to be on his Iphone, so I can't include those at this time. I really regret that I don't have a picture of the two of us, but he makes fun of me for taking random pictures and was not eager to have the waiter take our picture. Just wait until NOLA. Please note that I obviously was LONG overdue for a haircut. I resolved that the next week. Ahh, much better.
Once home, it was time for gear check. Here we have: compression socks, pants, and shirt, sweaty band AND ear warmer head band (what would be the proper term?), gloves, Ipod, fuel belt, electrolytes, gu, mole skin (to prevent a blister on my foot), the trusty Garmin watch, and race bib. Please note that the race bib has tear away tickets for beer, beer, beer, and food. I thought that was pretty comical.
Jennifer, Cathy and I met at our normal spot and rode down together to the beach. As usual, I guess I was anxious because bossy pants Leah kept directing my wonderful chauffeur, Jennifer, how to drive, which direction to take and to speed up for goodness sakes!
This is the famous sign that directs your path over to Pensacola Beach.
Once on the bridge, we were greeted by a glorious sunrise, a special gift from the Lord.
Excitement was building, but I was also reassured by the gentle reminder
 of who was in control.
 I don't really remember why we took this picture, but it I now know that I really
should wear a little make-up on race day. 
Can you tell how cold it was? The temperature was around 29 degrees. We tried to bundle up, but I think we were all standing a little funny trying to conceal our freezing bodies.

 Above: Dawn runs with the "Phat Girlz" running group that is sponsored by our local running store, Running Wild. Dawn is also training for NOLA. We talked the night before and decided we would run together for part of the race. According to my training schedule, I had to run 16 miles. I knew that the 16 miles HAD to supersede my temptation to "race" the half. I warmed up quickly and enjoyed probably the first 6 miles with Dawn. While I knew the race was going well, I started the mental debate of PR vs. training run.
 As I was struggling with this debate, it should be no surprise that I was distracted with a big nudge that said slow down, enjoy the view, take it all in, finish what you started.
Once at the turnaround point, I really started calculating. Miles 8-10 were a mental game still evaluating PR vs. finishing the 16 miles successfully. Once I finally came to my senses, I started to slow significantly. If I was any good at this blogging thing, I would insert my data here, but I can't figure out how to do that, so look at the post below and you can follow the link to my Garmin details. As you can tell, I started taking lots of walk breaks. It took me a while, but I finally became comfortable with the idea. I had a mission to complete 16 miles and I couldn't do it if I had no
 gas left in the tank. 
Above is my finish line picture and yes, it is obvious that I need to work on how to pose while running! Jennifer and Cathy both had terrific races and were so kind to wait on me to finish. Their race started at 8:00, so they had to wait on me for a little while. At the finish line, there were some typical post-race foods, but the beer, beer, beer, food was across the parking lot. We walked around for a few minutes, drank some water and I ate a banana. Then, it was time for me to go finish by doing 2.9 more miles.
I ran down Fort Pickens Road until I reached one of our favorite restaurants, Peg Leg Pete's. Naturally, I started thinking about eating lunch and was ready for the run to be over. This part of my run was enjoyable because you can see the ocean on one side and the sound on the other. My body knew that this was my longest run ever and it REALLY wanted to stop, hence, more walk breaks. BUT, I did it, 16 miles completed in 2:58:47-11:11 pace. Not bad considering how much I walked. Then, I saw something very pitiful, two frowny faces waiting for me and wondering if I was ever coming back. The expression on my friend's faces let me know something was wrong. Guess what? They had run out of food. Don't they know that I run so that I can eat? Pretty disappointing!
Well, the good news is, there are several yummy restaurants within walking distance, so we headed over to Flounders. I had never eaten there, but it is the host sight of the Gulf Coast Half Marathon that I did last year and will do again this year on April 15.
Jennifer recommended the seafood nachos and I wanted to taste the spicy shrimp. We all three shared and still had plenty leftover. The nachos were ginormous!
I forgot something inside the restaurant and had to go back in. When I came out, Jennifer and Cathy were relaxing in these fabulous chairs. They said I should put on the blog: "I'm the one that should be sitting down." I had run 16 miles and they had run 6.2 and 3.1 respectively. I was struggling to get up and down at this point, so sitting in those chairs may have left me there for hours. I am proud of both of them and just thankful to have friends that share my passion for running.
All in all, it was a terrific morning at the beach!
Note to self: Continue to work on your horrid posture.