Rock-n-Roll NOLA Expo

After writing about how disappointed I was with the Rock-n-Roll series being all about the money on Friday, my running girls and I headed over to the expo to pick up our bibs and shirts.  After driving around in circles for a bit (navigating New Orleans isn’t the easiest) we finally found a place to park and headed into the convention center.

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We snaked our way through the convention center, admist a muck (ok, maybe that word is a bit harsh) of pre-teen cheerleaders in WAY too heavy makeup; apparently there was a cheer competition or something going on, too.

The first stop at the expo was picking up the bibs and doing a last minute corral change.  When I had registered for this back in May I put 4:30 as my estimated finish time; however, my goal was to break 4:30 so I moved up two corrals.

Marathon #2 in less then 18 hours! EEEEP

Marathon #2 in less then 18 hours! EEEEP

After the last minute corral change, it was we headed to pick up our shirts.  I have to give RnR props because their expo is expertly executed.  Before you can enter the vendor booths you have to pick up your bib, swag bag and tee’s.

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Awesome participant tee. I looooove it!!

Then it was time for the FREEEEEBIES!! And the expo did not disappoint with the freebies.  We stopped at the Brooks store first where I won a free cotton tee and my friend Stacey won a pair of free shoes. HECK YES!!

We stopped at different booths and sample various products.  I headed to the Perform Pain Relief booth and was incredibly surprised to find that they were handing out full size products…Um, yes please!

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After taking some silly pictures, we headed over the the KT Tape booth.  My friend Lorena has been having some horrible IT band issues and her massage therapist recommended she get taped before the race.  I had decided to get taped too to see if it would help with my foot issues.  I was somewhat skeptical but knew I’d find out soon enough.  I figured that even if it failed, the KT Tape still looked cool.

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I have to admit, I felt slightly like a legit athlete with this stuff on…

Then it was time to take all of our freebies and bid adieu to the expo.  My running girls and I were starving and we still had to check into the hotel.

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Scccchhhhwaaaag!

After navigating the parking garage from hell we finally arrived at our hotel.  We ditched our race gear and headed to find some grub.  We had decided ahead of time to eat at Chef John Besh’s restaurant, Domenica.

Outside of Domenca.  It was gorgeous.

Outside of Domenica. It was gorgeous.

And like the true non-city dwellers we are, none of us thought to call ahead for reservations.  We got there just before 7 and they said they wouldn’t have a table until 10. Whaaaaaaaaat? My tummy needed food ASAP.  So we ended up ordering at the bar and then heading back to the hotel.  I ordered the Calabrese pizza which was thin crust topped with spicy salami, fresh mozzarella, capers & olives.  Maybe not the smartest pre-race meal (sodium wise) but it ’twas yummy.

mmmmmmmmmmm Get in mah bellay

mmmmmmmmmmm
Get in mah bellay

And then it was time for bed.  I knew those 26.2 miles weren’t going to run themselves in the morning.  After all was said and done, I had finally started to get excited about running my 2nd marathon.

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Ready to Rock-n-Roll!

Question:  What do you do at expos? Do you take advantage of the freebies or just get your race stuff and go?

Mississippi River Inaugural Marathon (1/2) Recap

This past Saturday I ran the Inaugural Mississippi River {half} Marathon in Greenville, Mississippi.  I had decided to run the race in honor of my stepmom Starla’s ongoing battle with breast cancer.  She’s actually going back this morning for more surgery.  They thought they got everything with the double mastectomy last week but found a small amount of cancer in one of her lymph nodes.  We’re all praying that this will be the final surgery.539568_582279051800520_2118421503_n

Friday afternoon my running buddy Stacey and I made the 5 ½ hour drive up to Greenville.  We arrived at packet pickup and were greeted by amazing friendly volunteers.  In just a matter of minutes we got our bibs, shirt and some freebies (GU chomps and a cowbell) then headed to find some last minute cold weather gear.

bibs

Apparently Stacey and I both missed the memo that it was going to be FREEZING race morning.  Whoops.  We found some adorable gloves on clearance at JCPenney but no head gear.  Then it was time to grab some grub.  We went to a restaurant, Garfields, in the mall (where packet pickup was) and waited….and waited…and waited for our food.  It finally came but wasn’t anything special.  However, it was food which I guess is all that really mattered.

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My turkey avocado sandwich with very little turkey and basically no avocado.
And french fries I didn’t want…

Stacey and I headed to the hotel to get ready for an early morning wakeup call.  Since this was a point-to-point race the runners had to be bused to the starting line.  We had been cautioned several times through e-mails to make sure to be at the buses no later then 6:30 or risk being left Saturday morning.  We made it to the bus area by 6 and hopped on.  I have never been so happy to be on a school bus in my life; it was 35* degrees outside and I was in a skirt.  Fantastic planning, Gina.

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We made the 13ish mile trek to the starting line in Arkansas and were treated to a beautiful sunrise.

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herding area

I enjoy the irony of the picture. The check out the sign.
The way the buses lined up, it really felt like herding area for the runners.

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The downfall of being bused in was that we had roughly 1.5 hours of waiting time before the start.  I snapped some pictures and tried not to freeze.

Brrrr

Before I knew it we were lining up for the start.  I had my sub 2 hour goal in mind but I really doubted that I was going to be able to do it; especially since I would be squaring off against an incredibly strong {and cold} headwind.  See the thing about running in the Delta is that it’s all open plains; no trees or buildings to block the wind.  On the plus side, the Delta is incredibly flat.  The only incline was the bridge and that was basically flat, too.

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Ready to run but I can’t feel my legs…or my toes…or my nose…

3…..2….1….. And we were off.  I knew that I would need to maintain around a 9:10 pace to get my sub 2 goal but I wanted to give myself a bit of wiggle room so I planned to keep it around 9.  The first 2 ½ miles took us over the Mississippi River; the bridge was absolutely gorgeous.  Looking up and seeing the suspension beams was so cool.

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Miles 3-6 were the absolute toughest for me.  My toes were numb and I was having fairly bad calf pain, most likely from not stretching / warming up properly.  Coupled with the headwind I really thought about ditching my sub 2 goal and just using this race as the training run for the marathon in 2 weeks.  Then I thought about my stepmom and how she couldn’t give up with her fight.  I felt terrible having even considered backing down.

Mile 7 was where I put my big girl panties on and stopped internally whining. I had been watching my splits and knew that I could still pull off a sub 2.  I decided to lose myself in the run and just have fun.  The crowd support was amazing and I was having a blast high-fiving any poor soul that happened to put their hand out in my direction.  I thanked the volunteers at the water stops and shook a few of the police officers hands for directing traffic.  The next time you’re running, thank the people who are helping out, race volunteers are seriously amazing!

Mile 10 came and I knew that there was only a 5k left.  I remember actually feeling a bit disappointed knowing I only had 27ish minutes left to run; however I was also excited because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to get the sub 2.  I wasn’t fatigued at all and knew I could pick it up a bit. {side note: When you’re just getting into a groove by mile 10, you know you’re made for marathons.}

Mile 13 came and I finally caught a glimpse of the finish line.  Sweetness.  I kicked the speed up and coasted to the finish line at a 7:53 pace for a finish time of 1:58:24.  I’m not usually an emotional runner (I didn’t even tear up after I finished the MCM in memory of my brother) but I actually got a bit choked up thinking about Starla and everything she had just gone through with the double mastectomy.  She is such an amazingly strong and courageous woman and inspired me throughout the entire run.  I was proud of my sub 2 finish but even more proud of Starla.

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splits

My {negative} splits.
You can see where I was having trouble with the early miles.

Stacey also finished very strong (especially for being sick all week) at 2:06.  After the race, a friend of ours that lives in Greenville surprised us.  It was so great seeing her and getting a quick hug.  Then we all headed over to get some food and chocolate milk.

Laura

Donuts

My overall impression with this race is that it was amazing.  With inaugural events you never really know what to expect but the event staff did a great job building hype and then living up to that hype.  From packet pickup, to the finish line, and everything in between, this race was exceptional.  There were plentiful aid stations, volunteers, and phenomenal crowd support with lots of cheers for the runners.  You could tell that the entire town really took pride in this race.  I think this inaugural event was just the tip of the iceberg and that it’s going to become a ‘must-do’ race in this area.  I can’t wait to see how awesome it is next year!

Question:  Have you ever fought hard for a goal? How did you feel once you reached it?