#GeauxRunLA…Louisiana Marathon Recap

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Voted one of the best NEW  Marathons by Runners World Magazine…The Louisiana Marathon will not disappoint. Baton Rouge, the state capital, and home to Louisiana State University is a great host city. The Marathon offers numerous running options and family themed events. There is a distance for everyone. You can certainly make an entire weekend of it!  Laura and I left our husbands and kids behind so we missed out on all of the pre- marathon activities by choice.

We flew into New Orleans Friday afternoon and drove over to Baton Rouge (1.25hr drive).  You can easily fly into Baton Rouge, but we decide while in the area we would spend some post marathon time in New Orleans.

All the marathon activities were hosted downtown so we booked the Downtown Hampton Inn. Great choice as it was only 3.5 blocks from the start! Great location, free breakfast, and late check out option.  We were thrilled to secured the last available room.  Don’t delay as rooms book fast!

imageDowntown Baton Rouge, was a little sleepy. Clearly catering to the Mon-Friday business crowd, there was limited evening dinning and shopping options.  Don’t get me wrong there were options, just not as many as I was expecting in a city. Clearly, this is a city in transition and new options are on the horizon. The city itself was very clean and we always felt safe while walking around.  We did struggle to find a grocery store in close proximity to pick up some amenities so we opted for a Walmart.  When in doubt, seems you can always find a Walmart.  Luckily, we had a car.

The expo hosted at the Baton Rouge River Center was walking distance from the hotel.  We chose to drive since we planned to drive the course later in the day. Packet pick up was a breeze and they gave us a nice reusable drawstring bag with pictures of Louisiana. While I am not personally an “expo person” they seem to have a lots of vendors, LA marathon themed gear, and some really cool limited prints.  The expo certainly met my needs.

Traditional Expo picture

Traditional Expo picture

We attempted our traditional pre-race drive of the course.  We did not quite drive the entire course due to a very small map but we got the general idea.  Flat and nice!  We enjoyed a WONDERFUL carb load dinner a few blocks from our hotel at The Little Village. Definitely a hot spot and one of a few dinning options.  We did not have reservations but were able to squeeze into two spots at the bar. If you go you must order the Village Bread.  Get a whole loaf!  Yummy!  I could have feasted on just that alone!

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Lined up and ready to go!

Race Day! We hit breakfast in the hotel and walked to the start. We were so close to the starting line we were able to utilize our nice and clean private bathroom verses the Porta Potties. BONUS!  The starting line up was packed into the small street but manageable.  The race was capped at 2,000 marathoners and 3,600 half marathoners.  After the waved start, we were off and running.  The course best described by the race organizers was spot on!

Friends, family and curious spectators will line up for Race Day Tailgating along the 26.2 miles of roadways filled with inspiring sights and sounds to cheer on the many that chose to run. The Louisiana Marathon course features a fast, flat, runner-friendly path through the lakes, along the river, around downtown, on the university campus and in historic neighborhoods. Runners and spectators will enjoy local music & entertainment along the course.

The locals were out in force turning the race into a reason to have tailgate parties in their front yards.  Perhaps it was their warm up to festival season ( pre- mardi gras) It was fantastic! They were so welcoming and you could really get a feel for the spirit of Louisiana.  To date,  I have never seen so much beer, champagne, and bloody Marys on course( spectator provided).  Oh and doughnuts, and of course King Cake! If you chose to you could have partaken almost every mile.  I cannot say enough good things about the course. I love it! Here are some sights and scenes from the course.

Loved the Trees

Loved the Trees. Pictures does them no justice

 

As seen on course..these guys cracked me up!

As seen on course..these guys cracked me up! Note…no time for cooler they were drinking beer right from the 12 pack.

Even the Pet Chicken got to partake in the race day fun!

Even the Pet Chicken got to partake in the race day fun!

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Beautiful run around the lake.

By far the funniest thing I captured on course was a fellow race participant taking advantage of a tree swing in someones yard. He was singing and swinging.  Hilarious! Perhaps, he was enjoying the on course libations? Runners high? Really, it does not matter he was having a blast!

Swinging Runner!

Happy Swinging Singing Runner! Yes this was on the marathon course. Exactly the reason I run with my phone. Somethings you just have to capture!

The finish shoot runs right up to the capital.  A great way to finish!

Done! Congrats to Laura and her !st marathon post baby!

Done! Congrats to Laura and her 1st marathon post baby! She is still lightning fast!

The post race festival was hopping!  It was open to the public for purchase. Music and lots of different regional foods and Beer.  Laura’s stomach was off so we did not stay and sample all the offering. I did enjoy some yummy red beans and rice and a cold Abita!

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I typically don’t linger too long at post race activities but this certainly looked like one worth staying for.  Unfortunately, we did not have much time as we were pushing our late check out and needed to shower and hit the road to New Orleans.  Luckily, our shower was only 3.5 blocks away!

Overall, great experience.  I give Louisiana Marathon 2 thumbs up! Great regional race with local flair!  Much better alternative to Rock n’ Roll New Orleans.#Runlocal

12th State checked off the list!

 #GeauxRunLA you will be glad you did!  

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12 Reasons to love the Ellerbe Marathon

In February, I  stumbled upon the Ellerbe Marathon while searching marathonguide.com for some local races I could run as part of my CedarIsland40 training.  I had never heard of the Ellerbe Marathon nor had any idea where Ellerbe, NC was. After reading the reviews, I was fully convinced Ellerbe was worth the 1.5 hour drive from Raleigh to get in some training miles.  I submitted my paper registration via snail mail and was ready to go!

12 reasons why I loved the Ellerbe Marathon…

1. No traffic, no crowds, no lines, no nonsense, and plenty of parking. Race day packet pick up.

Mount Pleasant Community Club- packet pickup and post race lunch

Mount Pleasant Community Club- packet pickup and post race lunch

2. No Porta Potties, real facilities, plumbing, and running water!

The real deal! Race day dream come true :)

The real deal! Race day dream come true 🙂

3.  NO line for the women’s bathroom. I was so shocked I had to take a picture.  As you see there is no wait for the ladies room.  BONUS!

No wait for ladies room!  Men's bathroom line.

No wait for ladies room! Men’s bathroom line.

3. 7:50 am we headed to the start. No maneuvering needed you just found your preferred spot among the 75 runners ( 3 walkers started early)

starting line

starting line

4.  Mark Long, Race Director, gave some brief instructions, recognized some fellow veteran participants.  Congrats to Rick French who was lined up for his 21st Ellerbe Marathon!  After completing just one I can honestly say that is a big freaking deal! Hats off to Rick! No timing chips, not race mats, Mark set us on our way with a “Ready, Set, Go”  Simplicity at its best!

Mark Long, Mangum Track Club, giving us our race briefing and start

Mark Long, Mangum Track Club, giving us our race briefing and start

5. 26.2 rolling miles! Minimal to no traffic. Majority of the traffic were the volunteers keeping an eye on the runners.

somewhere around mile 6

somewhere around mile 6

6. Simple…run into traffic and follow the yellow arrows.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous being responsible for finding my way along the course but it was very well marked with yellow arrows.

on course arrows

on course arrows

7. What comes up must go down! Awesome downhill segments.  Great reward for the many uphill climbs.

Start of long downhill stretch around mile 11

Start of long downhill stretch around mile 11 ( not certain)

ahhh downhill!

ahhh downhill!

8. Awesome aid stations and super friendly volunteers.  ICE cold water, oranges, pretzels, etc. Extra Bonus points for ICE cold water!

Aid station at the bottom of "Hannibal".  Any hill with a name is not good! In the distance is the highest point in Richmond County.

Aid station at the bottom of “Hannibal”. Any hill with a name is not good!  David and I were surprised we had completed it.  It was not nearly as bad as what we had heard.

9. Sheriff assistance at major road crossings/intersections (there were two the entire 26.2 miles) You just have to love that this is considered a major road crossing!  In all seriousness, I think it is awesome that Mark and Jerry had the Shefiff department monitoring these crossings ensuring our safety.  THANKS!

major road crossing.  Believe it or not, they actually had to stop traffic for us.

major road crossing. Believe it or not, they actually had to stop traffic for us.

10. More downhill! Trust me it is a VERY WELCOME site along this course.  I was really excited for this one in the last 3-4 miles.

downhill Selfie

downhill Selfie

11. Post race grub! Good ole southern fare…chicken and dumplings, role, and sweet tea! It was super yummy protein and carb reload.

Finish line meal

Finish line meal

12. Super nice laid back friendly runners!  I met some really cool people.  Early in the race, I recognized Clay, a fellow blogger whom had commented on one of my previous blog post.  We made the connection, chatted a bit, and covered some of the early miles.  I eventually dropped back, but always had Clay in my sight.  Around mile 11, I met up with David.  We ran, (walked) and chatted for the next 12 miles.  Wow, the miles just flew by!  Thanks David I really enjoyed your company! David and I , always had Clay in our line of sight.  We joked he was our unofficial pacer.

Clay, Me, David...FINISHED!

Clay, Me, David…FINISHED!

You simply cannot go wrong with Ellerbe. I approached this marathon( #16) as a training run with support.  I was very relaxed, not worried about negative splits, pace etc.  I walked the hills and whenever I was tired.  I felt great! With my approach,  I was able to take it all in and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  It was a beautiful day!  It heated up into the low 70’s towards the end but the course offered lots of shade so it was bearable.

The course is challenging.  Of my 16 marathons, this was the most difficult from a course/elevation perspective. My opinion is that Ellerbe is much more difficult than Big Sur.  I lost my garmin data ( not really sure how this happened) from Big Sur so I cannot compare the elevation charts side by side.

Ellerbe Elevation

Ellerbe Elevation

If you are looking for a challenge, or wanting to push your comfort zone give Ellerbe a try.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

2nd place female in my age group! I proudly accepted my pottery mug make by http://www.semperfipottery.com/index.html

2nd place female in my age group! I proudly accepted my pottery mug make by http://www.semperfipottery.com/index.html

Due to my Ellerbe participation, I was unable to run Ella’s Race.  In Ella’s honor, I wore her favorite colors of pink and purple and dedicated my miles in her memory.  When the miles got tough, I would reflect on Ella’s relentless fight against her cancer.  I know Ella was shinning down on all of us on Saturday!  Please consider a donation to  The Cure Starts Now Foundation…Curing Cancer, One Child at a Time

Head to Toe, Pink & Purple in honor of Ella!

Head to Toe, Pink & Purple in honor of Ella!

 

Mentoring to the finish…Kiawah Island, SC Marathon Recap

I get so excited whenever anyone shares with me their desires start running. Running  has given me so much over the past five years.  Running gave me a fresh perspective on my  life in a time when I needed it most.  As a result, I am eager to share my love and experience of the sport with anyone willing to give it a try or listen.

Kayla, 21 years my junior, whom I once would kindly refer to as a co-worker, through running I now can confidently call my friend 🙂 would drop in my office occasionally and  talk about her desires to run. When she was ready,  I ensured she had the right gear and equipped her with a signed copy of  Train Like a Mother!  The wisdom between the pages of the orange covers benefits any female, no kids required.  TLAMcover2-796x10241-415x533Kayla set her goals high and planned to run a half marathon.  We had many conversations around her training ups and downs, and I encouraged her along the way.  It was exciting to watch her interest in running move from something she was simply curious about to something she came to love.

Our first run together, June 2014!  My Facebook post- Shout out to Kate for her longest run! Kayla for best dressed! Great run with running buddies OLD and NEW literally. With Rex (woof),

Our first run together, June 2014! My Facebook post- Shout out to Kate for her longest run! Kayla for best dressed! Great run with running buddies OLD and NEW literally. With Rex (woof),

I was giddy with excitement when she crossed the finish line of her first half marathon. I was even more excited when she said she could not wait for the next one!  We all know in running you either love it or hate it! So naturally when Kayla said she thought she  was ready to conquer a marathon, but was scared to death.  I told her I would happily run by her side and get her across the finish line.  I never second guessed my offer  to get her across the finish line but I also don’t think I fully thought out how challenging a task this might be. Failure was not an option she was to become a marathoner if I had to carry her! Which I had knew was possible, since I carried her the month before at Tough Mudder.

kiawahMap

We decided on Kiawah Island Marathon in South Carolina.  I needed the check off the state of South Carolina so this was perfect.  My only goal was to get Kayla across the finish line…this was all about Kayla!

imageRace Day! We were ready.  We walked .6 miles to the start from our adorable cottage. Fortunately the forecast of rain held off and temps were mild in the 50’s. A little warm for my liking but no rain. We were thrilled to be joined by running buddy KMac who registered last minute for the half.  We were off!.

The course was fantastic!  The course provided you with  beautiful views of the South Carolina low county (water& marshlands), and some of the biggest houses I have ever seen. Huge!  There was always something to look at.  The aid stations were excellent and very organized. The volunteers handing out Gatorade wore yellow jerseys.  So smart!  There was musical entertainment in several places along the course which was nice touch but for the most part the course was quiet and serine.  Absolutely my favorite!

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KMac, back from injury, was having a great day and she took off. Despite the warmth and humidity I was feeling good.  Kayla, was quietly struggling, not verbalizing how she felt.  I knew she was not 100% and was careful not to pester her about how she was doing.  I threw out my attempt at distractions, casual encouragement, and we keep moving forward.  Unfortunately, Kayla started feeling worse having to utilize her inhaler several times.  She was feeling like crap,  so I need to move to plan B and fast!

one of the many motivational quotes at expo...this was our mantra

one of the many motivational quotes at expo…this was our mantra

We moved to a run walk segment and that is when things starting to turn around. She finally started to talk a little, and honestly just looked better in general.  It was a relief for me but we still had 13.1 more miles ahead of us.

The blessing in disguise was Kayla’s mental fortitude. Despite feeling like crap, she was determined to cross the finish line. She told me ” I will finish this marathon.  It may take me longer than I intended but I will finish”.  Music to my ears! Her strong mental state made her goal of finishing achievable.  She was mentally strong and nothing was going to stop her.

Our gentleman friend whom we shared many of the latter marathon miles with

Our gentleman friend whom we shared many of the latter marathon miles with

I looked hard but never say any Alligators

I looked hard but never say any Alligators

Kayla is smiling!

Kayla is smiling!

Around mile 17-18 feeling happy!

Around mile 17-18 feeling happy! My Favorite Picture

Bike path segment to the finish!

Bike path segment to the finish!

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

At mile 25.5, I tripped on the bike path and hit the asphalt.  Stunned, scrapped, and little bloody Kayla extended her hand and pulled me off the ground.  I brushed off the asphalt and we kept going.  It was a little slow and with a limp but we literally were almost there.

We were thrilled to see our friends Mary Anne and Kmac with their kids waiting for us before the finish chute.  Always great seeing familiar faces.  The kids joined us for the final run to the finish.

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Fabulous Finish!  Kayla is a Marathoner!

Fabulous Finish! Kayla is a Marathoner!

I am so incredibly proud of Kayla for overcoming her adversities and pushing through!  I was honored to cross that finish line with you!  Welcome to the Marathon Club Kayla!

Read Kayla’s marathon re-cap

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Kiawah is an amazing regional Marathon! The after party provided local brews and a full buffet of AWESOME food. Not your standard bagel and bananna. Real yummy food! Amazing considering registration is only $70. Excellent destination marathon that won’t disappoint.  In my quest to run a marathon in every state,  I have vowed not to repeat any marathons but if I were to repeat Kiawah is on top of my list!

Low Country Boil Dinner to celebrate!

Low Country Boil Dinner to celebrate!

So excited to me college buddy Tracy at the expo and later on the course!

So excited to me college buddy Tracy at the expo and later on the course!

Down and Dirty… Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC Recap

I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I registered for the Charlotte, NC Tough Mudder as part of deal with my buddy Kathryn.

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

She agreed to run the Twin Cities Marathon with me if I would do Tough Mudder.  DEAL! I registered and then read and watched the obstacle videos! Artic enemia, electric eel, electric shock therapy… what had I gotten myself into? I did not fret to long as I was excited about a new challenge and a running buddy for my fall marathon.

Team #BAMR Bad Ass MUDA Runners was officially formed and the recruiting for additional team members began. We recruited 12 team members but lost 3 prior to the event.  We were 9 members strong on race day!

Team #BAMR

Team #BAMR

crossfitHaving never participated in a mud run I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how to train.  The running was a no brainer for me it was the sheer lack of muscular strength that was of concern.   Luckily Kathryn had that figured out for us and talked me into a trying out Raleigh Crossfit. I had heard of Crossfit, seen numerous tweets about it but honestly had no idea what it was.  I went into my trial class not knowing what to expect (or what to wear) and left KNOWING I would schedule my foundations training ( to learn the 9 fundamental Crossfit movements) and add Crossfit to my weekly training routine.  I was hooked from day 1. I maintained my marathon training and incorporated in 3 Crossfit training days.  I love CF so much I have actually dropped a running day ( 3 post CF marathons completed and no regrets). The addition of CF to my training regimen has been  very beneficial to me.              ( perhaps a future post)

Obstacle recap, of the ones I can remember, from the Charlotte, NC event. Weather was overcast, chilly upper 40’s.

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  • To get to the starting line you must scale a small wall.  Don’t let the size fool you! I had a friend fall, crack a rib, and tear her intercostal muscle on this very wall. In complete BEAST mode she completed the course with the help of her team.  You go Sarah S! The day of our race, the medics were tending to a fellow mudder whom had injured themselves attempting the wall.  Be careful!
  • Running- the running between the  obstacles was similar to single track trail running.  Uneven surfaces, roots, rocks, holes, you name it.  Luckily, I had spent many miles on the trails during training. Tip: Leave the asphalt when you can and train on single track trail
  • Kiss of Mud– surprisingly I was able to  to do on my hands and knees based on height of the wire

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

  • Glory Blades– no issues with a foot boost, from team mate,  to pull myself to the top and and slide down the other side.
  • Arctic Enema– mentally and physically HORRIBLE! The freezing water completely stunned me, I could not catch my breath.  I pulled myself together, went under the wooden plank only to be welcomed by huge ice cubes on the other side. When I made it out I had an full body ice cream headache.  Torture! Thankfully they had Mylar sheets to help warm you up.  All I could think about was those poor people on the Titanic. Tip: close your mouth,  jump out far, to get to as close to the plank wall as possible.  
  • Cliffhanger– must have been a none event.  I don’t even remember it.
  • Warrior Carry– no problem, got practice with this in crossfit. I proudly carried Kayla whom is 2 inches taller than me! Tip: have team wait to distribute carry based on size and weight.
  • Balls to the Wall– no problem, due to notches in the wall for foot placement.  I was actually surprised they were there.  Would be much harder without.
  • Hold you Wood– no problem, the name of this obstacle brought many laughs and crude comments from our co-ed team with only 2 male members.  
  • Mud Mile– FAVORITE!  I found slugging through, and sliding into  the cold mud fun.  There were plenty of fellow mudders available to pull you up the dirt mound as needed.  
  • Berlin Walls– this one takes team work to hoist team mates up high enough to pull themselves over the wall. The drop from the top to the other side can be intimidating thankfully the landing is softened by a think layer of mulch.  Tip: don’t rush your drop from top of the wall.  Attempt to execute a safe landing.
  • Boa Constrictor– no issues other than being in a confined space. The pipe was so small I could not crawl on my forearms.  I had to side crawl.
  • Just the Tip– I did not make it past the first section and dropped into the cold green water.  Possibly easier without gloves.  Our 1 team mate who made it the entire way was glove free! Way to go LIZARD!

    Lizard!

    Lizard!

  • Electric Eel- UGG! Dive in FAST, low,crawl, shimmy, whatever it takes as low and fast as you can to get out.  It sucked! It was worse for some than others.  It was not as bad as I thought. I feel like having on two shirts help insulate me from the shocks. Tip: wear two shirts, keep you mouth closed and head down. 
  • King of the Mountain– Fun! team work is needed to boost each other up some of the bales.  Tip: use the twine to help pull yourself up.
  • Cage Crawl- I am very comfortable in the water so I had no issues with this obstacle.  Due to my layers of clothing I felt like I was floating.  For those not comfortable being on their back in water this could be tough.
  • Walk the Plank– Close your mouth, exhale from you nose ( or hold it) and JUMP! I forgot to exhale and got muddy water up my nose YUK! No fear of moderate heights no issues.  
  • Unknown Cargo Net Obstacle- Jump across water to a cargo net. If you miss you go in the water.  I caught the cargo net but lost my grip and fell into the water.  My left shoulder has hurt ever since:(   Way to go Sundrop and J-Wow for mastering this one!
  • Funky Monkey– HARD! After teammate slipped off first rung and fell onto her back on the metal platform (Thankfully she was fine) I decided it was not worth the risk.  I jumped into the cold water and swam across. The bars are slick and placed 1.5 feet apart. Way to go J-Wow who effortlessly tackled this obstacle!
  • Everest– I made it on 1st attempt! Thankful for the strong volunteers at the top who caught me and pulled me up.  Tip: seek out the group of volunteers that look strong enough to hoist you up. 
  • Electroshock TherapySUPER HORRIBLE! I swear they “juiced” up the shock on this one.  They hurt!  To make it worse the ground was thick, slick mud.  I kept falling and had trouble getting up (envision the person in the horror movie running away and they keep falling…that was me) . To increase the fun they placed  a huge hay bale, that had to be scaled right in the middle of the shock torture.  Scaling a hay bale while getting shocked non stop was ridiculous.  I finally make it over the bale only to face plant into thick mud. At this point, I was laughing out of fear I would never make it out.  Finally, I made it.  We were all so disoriented, we did not realize Mama Bean was stuck not able to get over the bale.  Fortunately, she decided to go around.  Sorry Mama Bean:( Tip: attempt to go as fast as you can.  Find mental strength in knowing this is the last obstacle
DONE!

DONE!

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

My random tips:

  • My only injury...random

    My only injury…random

    CLOTHES-Wear old clothes and shoes they will be NASTY! I wore long sleeve compression shirt under my team shirt.  It kept me warm and was a great barrier against the mud and shocks.  Capri pants and high socks! Its not the best look going but it provided a great protective barrier from scrapes and scratches.  We had BadAss Socks 🙂

  • GLOVES- I wore them and was glad I had them.  Half the team had them half did not.  Really no advantage just preference.
  • HAIR-If you hair it long wear it up or braided.  If you hair is short like mine…brace yourself for a seriously bad,muddy, hair day.
  • SHOES-We did not duck tape shoes.  Just tie tight and double knot.  Nobody lost their shoes.  The trails were littered with duck tape that fell of peoples shoes.
  • DROP BAG- Bring flip flops to wear after you toss your shoes, towel to dry off with after the COLD rinse down, change of clothes. Qtips to get a jump on your ear cleaning. $ if you want more beer or food. Phone so you can take post race photos ( we did not take on course..too risky)

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer!  Great cause!

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer! Great cause!

Overall thoughts– For me Tough Mudder is a “One and Done”.  It was fun, a good experience, new challenge,  but I did not finish with a strong desire to do another one.  It was a great team effort and I am most grateful for the friendships I enhanced and developed with my awesome team mates. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life. Tough Mudder is truly is a TEAM event.  Recruit as many “like minded” people as you can and stick together!  No team? No problem, there are plenty of volunteers and mudders at the obstacles helping each other out. The support is amazing!

Was it the toughest most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever done? For me no. Ultra/marathon running and some Crossfit WODs(work out of the day) are far more physically and mentally challenging…FOR ME. The experience is so personal based on an individuals physical condition, experiences, and fears. For someone with fear or heights or water I think Tough Mudder would be mental torture.

Tough Mudder is a a quality event that will not disappoint! Give it a try! Getty Muddy! You really don’t know what you are capable of until you give it a try.

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event...

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event…

 

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only their to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM!

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only there to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM! We were so glad to have him! Especially SunDrop whom was the lone male team mate!

Twin Cities Marathon & Another Mother Runner CONNECTION!

9th State and 14th Marathon! Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Oct 6, 2013

TClogo

Why Twin Cities?  I lost count of how many times I was asked this question leading up to the marathon and once we arrived in MSP (Minneapolis-St.Paul).  “You came from NC to MN for the marathon?  Wow!”  Yep,Twin Cities Marathon has been on my list of “must dos” since I decided to conquer all 50 States…before I die, or die trying. Little side note- RIP, Joy Johnson, 86,  whom died a day after running her 25th  NYC Marathon. What an inspiration! I always tell my family, If I die running, know I died doing what I love.

Bart Man! Big Sur Expo 2013

Bart Man! Big Sur Expo 2013

 Back to Twin Cities- Bart Yasso, whom I may be a tiny bit obsessed with, raved about Twin Cities in his book My Life On the Run. If by the way, you have not read this book you are totally missing out. After reading about just a few of Bart’s 1,000+ competitive adventures and being thoroughly entertained, I decided any events he put on a  “must dos” list would be added to my bucket list.  Thanks BART! Your recommendations have not failed me yet.

1st time meeting Dimity&Sarah Country Music Nashville Marathon 2011

1st time meeting Dimity&Sarah Country Music Nashville Marathon 2011

Additionally my fav gals, Sarah and Dimity of AnotherMotherRunner.com (whom I am a self proclaimed “SUPER FAN”), raved about their 2012 Twin Cities Marathon Weekend experience.  Little did I know, prior to registration and arrival, we would share a very special AMR connection. More on that later I promise…

So, Twin Cities Marathon landed on my 2013 race calendar.  Laura (my 50 States partner,  BRF, and recent newlywed) was consumed in her hectic personal life and for the first time in three years could not commit to a fall race. The beauty of our running relationship is that when we decide to do a race we don’t deliberate and ponder we “JUST DO IT” often via just text communication.

Airport Selfie headed to MSP!

Airport Selfie headed to MSP!

Luckily, my long time buddy Leigh, intrigued by my 50 states quest, was ready to tackle her second marathon.  No convincing needed she signed up, booked her flights and our hotel! MN Bound!

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

 My second recruit,BRF and Raleigh-CrossFit buddy Katherine, begrudgingly agreed to tackle Twin Cities (her 3rd marathon) if I would do Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC with her in Oct.  Being an endorphin junkie, perhaps under the influence of an endorphin high, I did not hesitate and signed up for Tough Mudder.  AFTER, signing up I viewed the videos….Artic Enima, electrocution, etc. What had I gotten myself into? Clearly, I had not learned my lesson. (Pine Mountain 40 Beatdown)  Oh well, seemed like a great trade off and opportunity for a new adventure. Sadly, Katherine, fell victim to an ITband injury and had to cancel running Twin Cities 😦   On a happier note, we did conquer and survive Tough Mudder- Charlotte on 11/3.  Blog post coming soon!  

Expo Selfie

Expo Selfie

Leigh and I arrived in Minneapolis on Friday afternoon and headed straight to our hotel, Residence Inn at The Depot, walking distance to the start line!  We unpacked and laid out all our running gear (a running travel tradition). Nothing was forgotten…always a good sign!  Ready for lunch we walked across the street to The Crooked Pint.  I promise not to bore you with what we ate all weekend but I have to tell you I  had not idea how much Minnesotan’s love their tater tots!  Never having a tater tot that did not come out of a freezer bag, I found the Jumbo, house-made tater tots with Serrano peppers, bacon, and cheddar to be a delicious welcome to this first time Minnesota visitor. Hence, thought #1 I could live here! However, a diet of tator tots is likely not in my best interest.

imageAfter our late lunch we headed to the expo at the St. Paul River Center.  This was Leigh’s biggest marathon and marathon expo so we put a strategy in place to make sure we covered it all.   After we got our bibs, we headed to the furthest corner to start our expo journey. We were both really excited to visit the AnotherMotherRunner.com booth.  Boom! Right before our eyes it was the first booth we saw! We practically ran into as we rounded the corner.

AnotherMotherRunner.com CONNECTION! Amy ZP, JoAnne, Me, Jess, Leigh

AnotherMotherRunner.com CONNECTION! Amy ZP, JoAnn, Me, Jess, Leigh

The minute we reached the booth,it was  an instantaneous party and the beginning of our AMR CONNECTION! I can only imagine how loud we were or how this looked to the other expo visitors. JoAnn and I quickly made the connection that we had exchanged tweets days prior to the expo. Got to love social networking!  We shopped, shared stories of our AMR connections to Sarah and Dimity, took pictures, got restaurant referrals, exchanged contact info etc.  It was like we knew these ladies all our lives!  Amy ZP floored us when she  extended Leigh and I an invite to her pre-marathon dinner at her house. Despite only knowing these ladies for 15 minutes, they were no longer strangers, they were Another Mother Runners so we  we said YES!  We agreed we would firm up details Saturday via text.  JoAnn passed along some restaurant referrals for dinner and we reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the booth to explore the rest of the expo!  imageimageWe hopped in a cab to the Happy Gnome for dinner.  The Gnome, was packed,so we headed to the bar in hopes of scoring a table.  As we waited, we were so surprised when a cute Minnesotan couple tapped us on the shoulder and offered us their table. Why such kindness? They insisted we have the table so we took it.  Thought #2- I could live here people are so nice. Leigh and I were both blown away with the hospitality we had encountered over the past few hours. I had no idea how friendly Minnesotans were. Honestly, really never had a reason to think about it.  So being the good southern gals that we are we had the waiter deliver drinks to the nice couple ( who ended up sitting beside of us) to thank them.  Only to have them send a round back to us 🙂  Crazy! Full from lunch, we decided to share bacon wrapped Elk loin. Yum! The Happy Gnome was awesome its a don’t miss if you are in St. Paul.

Saturday arrived and we had no plans other than dinner with our new St. Paul friends. We shared text throughout the day and firmed up our dinner plans. Leigh and I worried what if they got caught up in the moment and invited us to dinner and now regretted it.  Little did we know the St. Paul gals were having similar conversations wondering if the Carolina girls(Leigh&I)  would really show up.

Sara and her AWESOME Sauce photo bomb. Rambling Rose Tri, Raleigh, NC

Sara and her AWESOME Sauce photo bomb. Rambling Rose Tri, Raleigh, NC

JoAnn texted Sara(AMR.com) and told her Leigh and I were coming over for dinner.  Sara’s comment,that I found highly flattering and funny was “Jenn is AWESOME-SAUCE”  Not sure what awesome-sauce is but this SUPER-FAN  will take it! Leigh and I were so excited to have dinner with the gals and their families.  Whenever one of us would get a text we would say “Is it from our new friends”  Just too funny!

We had time to kill before dinner so we decided to explore Minneapolis, by foot, since we did not rent a car. Typically, I rent a car, for some reason we opted out on this trip.  If I were to do it again, I would likely get a car.  First stop was Marshalls, which was the best Marshall’s I have ever been to.  We loaded up on awesome workout gear, which we have not been able to find in our local Marshall’s.  The best find of the day was a Life is Good Social Networking shirt for Leigh whom is an avid around town cyclist at home and whom does NO SOCIAL MEDIA. There was no passing up this shirt. SCORE!

This was made just for leigh! She bought it!

This was made just for Leigh! She bought it!

marshallsOne of my favorite all time comments from Leigh is ” Talk to MY FACE, not my FACEBOOK”  That so needs to be a bumper sticker!  Me on the other hand loves all forms of social media!   Leigh is a master shopper, so I found a nice leather chair in Marshall’s and took a social media break. I had to rest my legs…after all we were running 26.2 miles in less than 24 hours.

Next stop was the two story Target for provisions and h2omore shopping for Leigh, I forgot shopping was one of her skills:)  I got my traditional “big gulp” of water.  For some reason, part of the tradition, is I drink it straight from the bottle. I see no reason to  break tradition at this point.  After shopping we headed back to the hotel rested up and got ready for dinner with our St. Paul Friends.

Cab Selfie on way to dinner at Amy's

Cab Selfie on way to dinner at Amy’s

We were greeted by Amy who said “Can you believe you are at a strangers house for dinner?” I stated that Leigh and I laughed about it being the setting for an Another Mother Runner murder plot. 🙂  We all laughed  at the re-telling of how Leigh and I came to be dinner guest.  Everyone was so welcoming.  We shared great food, drinks, stories, and laughs!  It was like we had known everyone for a lifetime. Thought #3- I could live here. These people are so awesome!

Eric&Amy our adorable host

Eric&Amy our adorable host

Amy & Shannon sporting their compression gear!

Amy & Shannon sporting their compression gear!

Dinner Crew!

Dinner Crew and our New St. Paul Friends!

Shannon & Jo

Shannon & Jo

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end we had a big day ahead of us. We said our goodbyes and planned to hook up after the marathon for the post party at JoAnn’s. Wow! The most hospitable people I have ever met. Thought #4- I could live here! This neighborhood is precious and my neighbors would be great!

JoAnn, insisted on taking Leigh and I back to our hotel in Minneapolis (30 miles round trip).  There was no arguing this with her as she wanted to drive us along the marathon course route.  BONUS! I always drive the route and due to lack of car I had not seen any of the course.  Despite the darkness, we got a great personalized breakdown of a good portion of the course and the area. What a great night! JoAnn shared she had given AMR Sara the same course preview last year.

6:00am came to fast!  Fortunately, we were only several blocks from the Metrodome. The sun was shinning (rain was in the forecast) and temps were in the 40’s.  Perfect day for running. Finding our way to the bag check and starting coral was painless due to awesome volunteers. I did spot coffee, water, and pre-race snacks for the runners but we did not partake.

At the Start!

At the Start!

Off and running!

Off and running!

The course is just as described America’s Most Beautiful Urban Marathon! The course completely lived up to the description via TCMevents.org.

With mile after mile of parkways, lakes, rivers and tree-lined boulevards, the scenery can’t be beat. Add 300,000 screaming fans, 10 Cheer Zones, over a dozen course entertainment acts, and you’ve got an experience that you’ll never forget.
Somewhere between miles 5-6

Somewhere between miles 5-6

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The point to point course course winds around four beautiful lakes and along both sides of the Mississippi River. The course contains a few rolling hills; but with a starting and finishing elevation of approximately 840 feet and no climbs over 100 feet long, it’s nothing you can’t handle. 
The might Mississippi

The might Mississippi

The final stretch races past the clanging bells of the Saint Paul Cathedral and downhill onto the spectacular view of the State Capitol and the finish line!

The course will not disappoint!  Crowd support was HUGE! If you desire lots of support this is the marathon for you.  I would argue the crowds are bigger or equal to the Marine Corps Marathon.  There were VERY few spots without spectators. As a serenity runner, I found the crowds to be overwhelming at times. I learned to really appreciate the crowd free zones. Certainly, not meant to be a negative comment it is just based on personal preference. The course is flat.  Much flatter than I expected.  I would not classify this course as rolling hills( based on what I train on).   My hips reminded me most of the 26.2 miles I was running flat. The occasional incline was a welcome relief.  I do love to run some hills!

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Thad & Eric

I spotted Eric and Thad ( Amy and Shannon’s husbands) very early whom were spectating and cheering from their bikes.  They yelled encouragement every time they saw us. It was so great. Around mile 5 we found Amy and Shannon on the course.  We pinged back and fourth and finally joined running forces somewhere in the second half.  Somewhere before the half we saw JoAnn, Holi,and Jess.  Perfect timing as I was in need of a pick me up.  As wonderful as the course , weather , and general surroundings were I was not feeling my best. Surprisingly, Leigh and I ran the majority of the race in silence (anyone who knows us finds this SHOCKING!).  We were both silently struggling but doing our best to take it all in and enjoy the experience.  We agreed early on we came too far to impose ourselves with time goals.  Our #1 goals was to finish and enjoy! That we did! I have to thank our St. Paul friends for their on course support. They were the ENJOYMENT factor! Every time we turned around they were there!  1,215 miles from home and we have our own pack of roving  fans! “Go Carolina Girls!”  I can still hear Jess ” GET DOWN!”

While running I snapped this pic of our cheer squad!

While running I snapped this pic of our cheer squad! Mother Runners Rock!

We did not HIT the Wall at mile 20 we ran right thru it!

We did not HIT the Wall at mile 20 we ran right thru it!

Summit Ave! Still Smiling!

Summit Ave! Still Smiling!

St. Paul & Carolina Gals!

St. Paul & Carolina Gals!

I cannot say enough about this course. The locals embrace every aspect of the marathon weekend.  They have huge parties in their front yards with inflatables for the children.  One house had several large tents, picnic tables and were having a huge pancake breakfast! Too bad we could not stop in for some additional carbs. The mid race drizzle did not negatively impact the spirit of this event.  Rain or shine…twin Cities Marathon is a celebration!

Mother Runner Fans! post doughnut hole stop!

Mother Runner Fans! post doughnut hole stop…hence JoAnn’s full mouth. Roving fans need fuel too!

We happily crossed the finish line! Marathon #14 (Me) and #2 (Leigh) were done! Fantastic race!

DONE!

DONE!

imageWe met up with our St. Paul gals to celebrate!

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Another Mother Runner BOND!

Another Mother Runner St. Paul and Carolina Gals!

I can honestly say what started out as an Another Mother Runner CONNECTION through the miles transitioned to an Another Mother Runner BOND! These ladies(and gents), all of them, got me through!  I am forever grateful for the memories and new friendships!

JoAnn braved the traffic and picked us up and transported us to her house for the after party celebration.  We enjoyed awesome BBQ beef, chips, sweets, etc! It was a great way to top off an awesome day!

Jo's post marathon Bash!

Jo’s post marathon Bash!

Mike, Peg, and Jo!

Mike, Peg, and Jo!

imageAfter a great celebration, JoAnn once again insisted on taking us back to Minneapolis.  But oh no we could not go empty handed..she send us with a bottle of wine. Simply amazing! Never ending hospitality! Thought #5- I could live here. I am nice and cozy. I don’t want to leave, or for this weekend to be over.

Leigh and I were so grateful as we reflected on our Twin cities experience. I told Leigh this was a once in a life time marathon weekend experience that would be hard to top!

As I said earlier, what started as an Another Mother Connection quickly transitioned to an Another Mother Runner BOND!  The connection of runners, especially mother runners, is something very special.  Its hard to put to words…..its an experience!

“Its that bond of female runners that makes me want to be a better runner-to push a little harder”

~Cheri hill Lombardo

Thanks for the memories St. Paul friends.  We are looking  forward to our 2014 running reunion weekend!

Plane Selfie we sent to our St. Paul friend to say good bye!

Plane Selfie we sent to our St. Paul friend to say good bye!

Thought #6- I could live here!…. Reality, I would miss my family, and truth be told this SOUTHERN BORN and raised North Carolinian who does not even own anything close to a winter coat or snow gear would not survive the first day of fall…much less winter.  I now have some great friends in St. Paul and have a reason to visit!

Finished product! I surprised Leigh with one as well!

Finished product! I surprised Leigh with one as well!

As a thank you for the fabulous hospitality, Leigh and I sent our St. Paul gals personalized water bottles from aquavation.org.  Aquavation, a personal favorite, is a gift that keeps giving! Aquavation donates 20% of each bottle to a designated charity partner.  I designated Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue as the beneficiary.  Fitting since we are all dog lovers!  Check out aquavation.org!

shot of my computer screen.  Image printed on the bottles

shot of my computer screen. Image printed on the bottles

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Quitters Don’t Run. #Runners Don’t Quit! Boston Strong!

Richmond, VA Marathon Fall 2012

Richmond, VA Marathon Fall 2012

I spend the hours prior to the Boston Marathon attack trying to view the live web stream, follow the Twitter feed, track my BRF(best running friend), and work(my paid job). It was multi tasking at its best.

I was giddy with excitement for all the runners but especially for my BRF, Laura, running her 1st Boston. I had butterflies in my stomach as I tracked her progress, I compared waiting for her to cross the finish line like waiting for the arrival of a baby! I was just that excited and anxious. She rocked it and I proudly shared her accomplishments with all my “tweeps”.

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There was not much time to celebrate her accomplishment as my next tweet was a tweet regarding the bombings.

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It was unfathomable. How and why did this happen? These things don’t happen in the US. My excitement quickly faded to sheer grief, shock, and sadness.  So many things were lost that day or simply “undone” (best reflected by Sarah Bowen Shea) Boston Marathon: Undone « another mother runner.

Many difficult days lie ahead for those mourning the loss of loved ones or simply healing from their sustained injuries. Despite the losses, we as a nation, city, state, and individual(s) must respond and carry on!

Virtual Memorial Run Bib

Virtual Memorial Run Bib

Although I was not physically in Boston on the day of the attacks, the assault is personal in that is targeted my loved sport and fellow running community. Its hard not to take that personally! Runners are committed, determined, and perhaps a little hard headed. We push through physical limitations in quest of the next best thing. We carry on! We suffer set backs and  limp every once in a while but the determination to get back out there and do it again is always there. No deranged terrorist will keep us from the love of our support! We don’t quit!

In time, the freshness and sting of the Boston attacks will fade. However, the memories will remain. I pledge to honor those whose lives were forever changed every time I “toe the line” at a running event!  Cheers to running free! Carry on!  #BostongStrong

Boston Memorial Run, Raleigh, NC- 3,000 strong!

Raleigh Boston Memorial Run

Raleigh Boston Memorial Run

Me with BRF's Katherine and Mary Anne!

Me with BRF’s Katherine and Mary Anne!

 

3,000 runners strong! Raleigh runners respond

3,000 runners strong! Raleigh runners respond

 

New Beginnings....

New Beginnings….

Please consider supporting The One Fund

one-fund

 

Reversal of the “Disney Curse” & Running REDEMPTION in 2013!

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613 miles from Orlando, I shared in the joy and excitement of my sister Laury’s REDEMPTION RUN at the Disney Half Marathon!  She finally got it done! Whoo Hooo!

Her quest started with the 2011 Disney Half Marathon, which she missed due to being extremely anemic. It was to be a family event, between all of us, we would cover participation the 5k, half and full marathons.  Unfortunately, I, registered for the marathon,  feel ill to a HORRIBLE upper respiratory infection and could not even make the trip.  The 2011 Disney running weekend did not happen for either of us!  Laury recovered enough to make the trip as a spectator and cheered on the rest of the family (Sister Amy’s 1st Marathon)

Dinner Animal Kingdom Rain Forest Cafe after 2012 Disney Half Marathon/Goofy Challenge

Back with  vengeance, we registered for 2012 determined to make it happen. I registered for the Goofy Challenge ( half and full marathons) and Laury for her first marathon!  We were going to make it happen in 2012! Even if it meant wearing rubber gloves and surgical mask to fend  off germs.  Fortunately, it never came to that.  But Unfortunately, Laury fell victim to the dreaded IT BAND aggravation.  UGGGGG! Once again, Laury traveled to Orlando as a spectator…two years in a row! The good news in all of this is she was able to speak with a wonderful Run Disney representative who after hearing her story and clearly feeling sorry for her deferred her 2012 marathon entry to 2013!  This was so awesome considering the deferral period was long gone. She was not giving up!

My Fav picture!

My Fav picture 2012 Disney Marathon/Goofy Challenge!

Bummed not able to pace my sister in her first marathon, I was thrilled to take on the challenge of pacing my brother-in-law Jon in his 1st 26.2.  We had a great run and Laury…once again  a spectator happily greeted us at the finish line!

2013 was to be Laury’s year!  She was not going to miss this race again!  She was feeling great, injury free and then…the fever, raspy voice, labored breathing, tightness in the chest started 6 days before her THIRD attempt at a Disney race.  Monday, she called me and delivered the news she was not well.  Of all things chest congestion a runners nightmare…you need your lung capacity.  Having just run/attempted (whatever you want to call it) the PineMountain40 (My PineMountain BEATDOWN)  with compromised lung capacity I URGED her to go to the Dr and NOT make the same mistake I had.  She heeded my advise (major win for me since those whom work in the medical profession love to self diagnose and think they are fine) and went to the Dr. The Doc diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and prescribed meds  that in turn got her TO and ACROSS the finish line.  FINALLY! SHE DID IT! A Disney Half Marathoner Finisher. Third time is a charm:)

Disney Curse BROKEN! REDEMPTION run complete!

Disney Curse BROKEN! REDEMPTION run complete! 2013

She was elated and so was I… many miles away! I only wish I could have been there for her, as she has been for me,  to hug her sweaty neck! Way to go Laury!  You did it!

For me, one of the greatest joys of running is sharing in others milestones and  victories!  I  glean energy and motivation from others conquest and successes.  Today was no different, my excitement was such you would have thought I had completed the race myself.

Laury’s REDEMPTION run was DONE!  The irony in it all, is that just this morning (while Laury was making her way to the 5:30am start) “I” received notification at 4:46am that I had been “un-wait listed” and moved to a participant in my own personal REDEMPTION run ..The North Carolina Fat ASS 50K. (Thanks Nathan @SocialShark for telling me about #FatASS50k)    Wow! Irony, coincidence, Divine intervention…I am not exactly sure. I will take this as a sign that my quest for a personally satisfying ultra distance was meant to be!

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Cheers to you Laury, for a long overdue, job well done and well wishes to those seeking REDEMPTION in 2013!

Sargeant Laury!

Sargeant Laury!

My Pine Mountain 40.. Beatdown!

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On December 2, 2012, I attempted the most physically and mentally challenging endurance run of my life… The Pine Mountain 40 put on by the Georgia Ultarunning & Trailrunning Society.

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Jason, a 3 time Pine Mountain finisher, by far has the best description of the race I have ever read.  So good I had to share……..

“Even for well-rested runners with fresh legs, the Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run is a beatdown.  To use a familiar ultrarunning comparison, running this particular race is like being pecked to death by baby ducks.  The Pine Mountain course takes place on mild-elevation rolling hill terrain that does not feature any major notable obstacles, and runners do not face any steep mountain climbs, treacherous river crossings, or drastic temperatures.   Instead, the 40 miles of this course are home to countless minor aggravations that gradually accumulate to the point where motivation and fortitude are reduced to a frazzled exhaustion.  It is the little things that kill, and any small rock that catches the toe of a trail shoe, any tree root that is hidden underneath a pile of leaves, or any unstable slick stepping stone on a short creek crossing might be the final straw that causes a smiling runner to throw his or her hands up in exasperation and explode into profanity.”

Best Pace Scenario: Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run 12/2/12 (Race Report).

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Custom T party favor!

Jason’s detailed blog post were the extent of my research leading up to this race. I knew it was going to be a huge challenge but I must have mentally blocked that from my prefrontal  cortex ( portion of brain responsible for logic and reasoning)- issue #1.  The Pine Mountain 40 was a great way to end a very busy fall running season (3 fulls & 1 half marathon), and to celebrate Laura’s ( #BRF’s -best running friend & 50 States partner ) 40th birthday!  40 for 40!  It was so cute and catchy I could not turn her down.

In 2012, Laura and I traveled together to completed the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, The Blue Ridge Relay, Wineglass Marathon, and Richmond, VA Marathon.  We had checked off three states in 2012 so the opportunity to cross off a 4th (GA) was very enticing.  With Laura’s famous quote, that seems to fuel all of our running registrations, “We will be trained” we committed to our first ultra marathon….without a lot of thought (prefrontal cortex issue #2)

Laura & Jenn

Laura & Jenn

Ten days prior to the big event I came down with a horrible upper respiratory infection.  I  battled through it and in hind sight should have gone to the doctor.  The lingering cough, that left and returned few days prior to the race, later caused me some major issues on race day.  Being the hard headed (red head trait), determined individual that I am  I was not going to let some pesky sickness stop my quest for 40 miles (prefrontal cortex issues #3).

We road tripped down to Pine Mountain, GA, a 8hr trek from 703724_10200152136989070_1045115297_oRaleigh.  Laura rented us an awesome cabin just a few miles from the start.  We arrived in Pine Mountain, a very quaint and friendly place, just in time for the annual Christmas parade. We thought it was a great welcome!  We stocked up on supplies at the local grocery and then headed to our cabin to relax by the fire and await our 7 am Sunday start.

029One of the best decisions made (outside of inviting Dan and PJ:)), was inviting David!  David an accomplished ultra runner  cyclist, and world traveler signed up to be the official “ultra virgins” pacer!

At 7:00am, in 50 degree temps, we hit the trail for our 40 mile adventure.  We started towards the back of the pack hoping the other 150 or so runners would clear a path through the ankle deep leaves. The first section of the trail was a great stretch of running with minimal obstacles. I did not feel particularly well and was winded early. I hoped this was nerves and would pass.  Initially, I  welcomed the frequent walk breaks up the inclines but soon found I was much more comfortable running.

We made it to the 1st aid station (Fox Den Cove- 5.9 miles).  I was thrilled to see and briefly speak to  fellow “tweep” Kristin , whom was one of the unfortunate runners to be stung by the un-expectant swarm of yellow jackets. Fortunately, we missed that early torture.  We topped off our water and kept rolling.

The following  9 miles were sheer mental torture.  I am typically a sickly optimistic person but the negative thoughts of DNF(did not finish) were running ramp-id in my head. I have NEVER battled this nor ever considered dropping from a race. My breathing was labored and the uphill hikes were proving to be my biggest challenge.  They took everything I had.  I would have paid big money for a pulley system to drag my ass up the hill sides.  David, so kind, slowed his pace to stick with me and offer his ever helpful coaching and mental support.

025My struggles, both mentally and physically continued, as  I lagged behind and  eventually caught up with concerned trail mates David and Laura at the 3rd aid station (Dowell Knob-14.3 miles). My words were few and Laura knew me well enough to know I was struggling.  As Laura expressed her concerned  that I was going to end up with Pneumonia, one of the jovial GUTS volunteers chimed in  “Hell, it is way cooler to say you got pneumonia  running an ultra than just laying on the couch”  Oddly enough, I had to agree with this wise volunteer.  It was at this moment, I knew I was among fellow “bad asses” and I was going to give it all I had.  When ” all I had” was gone that would be the end of my race.   I am a huge proponent of “run your own race” so I encouraged Laura and David to go on without me.

With my much improved mental attitude, I pushed on.  I convinced myself to “live in the moment” and try to enjoy the sights and serenity the trail had to offer (despite the ever present pesky rocks, roots and inclines).  The day was nearly perfect despite the climbing temps.  The 70 degree temps were unwelcome but better than rain.  As I made it toward the 4th aid station (Rocky Point – 17.8 miles) I noticed my fingers were beginning to swell like sausages.  This was un nerving as this has never happened.  I had been hydrating with nuun, taking electrolyte tablets, and fueling with my cliff bars, and pretzels but obviously with the heat it was not enough. At the aid station, another wonderful GUTS volunteer told me to load up with some salt and suggested the bake potato pieces dipped in salt.  Yum, those were the best cold bake potato pieces I had ever eaten in my entire life. I swished them down with some Coke like “cola”…ahhh best Cola I have ever had and I was off.

I was feeling better, not optimal, but enough to keep going.  I reached the first time cut off at aid station #5 (TV Tower- 22.82 miles) with time to spare (not much but it was time) . At this point, I knew I was close to 26.2 miles, a familiar mileage accomplished many times.  I was determined at minimum to reach 26.2 and claim my Georgia marathon! My spirits lifted and I found energy from my new “line of sight  marathon goal”. and the fellow runners.  Just when I thought I was alone, and possibly the last person on the trail someone would appear.  After long stretches of solitude, just seeing another person was a welcome sight.  David, from Woodstock, GA, was so kind stopping with me when I found myself dizzy and just offering a smile, when times got tough.  We did not exchange a lot of conversation but were a support system.

Double sprained ankle? Sure does not look like it.  Go Amy! pic by Liza AuYeung

Double sprained ankle? Sure does not look like it. Go Amy! pic by Liza AuYeung

Amy M., Atlanta, seemed to appear out of nowhere. This was Amy’s 3rd Pine Mountain 40 and she was running on a double sprained ankle.  Can you say “BAD ASS!”.  I cannot even imagine.  Amy and I shared the portion of the trail with the seemingly endless creek crossings. I am happy to report we both stayed dry!  Amy’s determination to run through an injury inspired me to keep pushing.  Thanks Amy!

At aid station #6 ( Rocky Point- 24.2  miles)  David and I were told we made up some time.  That was great news.!  We had 60 minutes to cover 3.52 to reach aid station #7 (Dowell Knob 28.4 miles).  This was  doable and I was confident I could cover the additional 12 miles after the next aid station to finish.  At this point I was  not concerned with the 10.5 hour cut off. I just wanted to run across the finsh line…no matter the time..

As I approached aid station #7 (Dowell Knob 28.4 miles) I noticed  a male runner who had been ahead of me sit down…I thought odd perhaps he is quitting  As I approached the food table, the kind GUTS volunteer informed David and I we had missed the time cut off by 12 minutes.  Uggggg how did this happen? I was shocked.  I had just found my rhythm and clearly lost track of time.  I had long given up on my Garmin that could not keep up with the terrain and lost at least 30 minutes of time.  Ironically, the same volunteer who made the funny comment about me coming down with pneumonia Is the guy who told me I could not go on.  I was stunned, I knew I could make the last 12 miles and now I couldn’t. My race was over BUT I had more to give.

My first comment was “Dang, this is my first ultra, I would have at least liked to have made it to 30 miles” they laughed at me and said ” Congratulations!  You are an ultra runner!”  I know anything over 26.2 is considered ultra distance but there was something psychological about hitting the 30 mile mark.  I considered hiking up to the trail head to get in my final two miles but I risked my ride back to the finish and it was a little crazy.  Finally, I embraced it…I didn’t have to run anymore…so I treated myself to some M&M’s!  Ahhhh they were good!

The Finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48

The Finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48

There was comfort in numbers, as I sat with my fellow “pulled” runners waiting for the remaining runners.  I was happy to see Amy approach.  I had not seen her for some time and was wondering if her ankle had gotten the best of her.  Next was Paige, from Atlanta, and then Rhonda a fellow Raleigh-“ite” and the Co- Race director for the Umstead 100.  Rhonda and I had passed each other several times throughout the day. She was struggling with an injury and bad cramping but kept pushing!  It wasn’t until we were “pulled” that we made the Raleigh connection.  Rhonda, with all her ultra wisdom, educated me that that I did not have a DNF, I did not quit, I was pulled due to time cut offs!  This was comforting as I was trying to process what had just happened.   Her next question to me was ” Why did you chose this race for your first ultra?”  Prefrontal Cortex issue #1….enough said!

I am at peace with my Pine Mountain 40 attempt! I did

Perhaps the smartest thing I did related to this race....soak my feet and legs in the COLD mountain water!

Perhaps the smartest thing I did related to this race….soak my feet and legs in the COLD mountain water!

not give into the negative mental tourture!  I did not quit!  I gave it what I had in my that day!

Pine Mountain 40 is the hardest most mentally and physically taxing thing I have done outside of two natural child births.  They say that God erases the pain memory of child birth so women will have more than one child. God clearly must do the same for ultras!  On the way home, I was planning my “ultra redemption” race with my sister, fellow ultra runner Amy!  –(wait listed- Mangum Track Club Fat Ass 50k) I’ll be back!

Thanks GUTs for an awesome ultra experience!

See ya on the trail!

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

 Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Laura & David Packet Pick  Up

Laura & David Packet Pick Up
Cabin!

Cabin!

Heart Shaped Tub in the Master Bed Room!  Too Funny!

Heart Shaped Tub in the Master Bed Room! Too Funny!

My running widower Dan!  He is awesome!  Thanks Dan!

My running widower Dan! He is awesome! Thanks Dan!

Grocery closed on Sunday.  Dan & PJ got dinner supplies from Family Dollar! It Rocked!

Grocery closed on Sunday. Dan & PJ got dinner supplies from Family Dollar! It Rocked!

So tired...I could not even put my compression socks on right!

So tired…I could not even put my compression socks on right!

Garmin Casualty….Boxers gone BAD!

Apparently the bowl of noodles was not enough!  In a matter of an minutes, one of my three lovely boxers “counter surfed” pulled down a bowl of noodles and my GARMIN.  I can understand the noodles but WHY my Garmin?  The last I checked it did not smell like a hunk of meat ( I actually rinsed it after my run this am).

Fortunately, the body of the watch and screen were spared.  I cannot say the same thing for the band which was chewed off.  I have no idea where the missing piece is….I can only imagine.

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Thanks to Amazon.com a replacement band is one the way.  T-6 days until the City of Oaks Marathon!…I sure hope it arrives 🙂

#1 Garmin Chewer Suspect- Lucy ( she may have even worn this chef disguise)Image

#2 Noodle Suspect Rex (anyone who can stand as tall as this can pull items off the counter)

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#3 Suspect- Potter ( I think his huge tongue would not allow him to chew my watch)Image

She had me at “Wineglass”……Wineglass Marathon Weekend

She had me at “wineglass” and “girls weekend“…

Wineglass girls weekend….

NO BRAINER, it had my name all over it!

“She” being my BRF (best running friend) Rebecca had her sights on an awesome girls running weekend to re-ignite her running.  This would be Rebecca’s “Come Back” / “Post Baby 26.2!”  I was so excited to have my BRF back I would go anywhere with her!  I was mentally signed up  hearing “wine” and “girls weekend” The fact the weekend entailed running a marathon was merely a bonus!

It was a no brainer without much discussion The Wineglass Marathon weekend was etched on our calendars, flights were booked,  and reservations made. Corning, NY here we come!  Our fellow BRF Becky gladly joined along with BRF Laura my college buddy, 50 states partner. Laura  in the past 18 months had drug me to ( DC, TN, AZ, FL) for marathons and convinced me to run a 40 miler with her in December. I knew she would be all in. She is like “Mikey” she will do anything!  I guess she probably says the same about me.:)

Please pardon this interruption for a              

  PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Super BIG shout out to my loving, extremely goofy, and super supportive husband, of 17 years,  DAN who has supported my running efforts from day one!  I am forever grateful of your support !  You are my motivation! 🙂

Me and Dan after my 1st 1/2 Marathon 2/2009

Another bonus of this already fabulous girls running weekend was the fact it gave Laura and I the opportunity to check off the state of New York. When we decided  to run a marathon/or ultra (ultra was not part of the original deal) in every state we decided there could only be one marathon per state and no repeats. It is the only way we will get them all done….before we die/or die trying 🙂  So we passed on the option to enter the NYC Marathon Lottery.  The Wineglass Marathon was our New York Marathon. While the NYC marathon remains on my top 5 must run bucket list it will just have to wait.

September finally arrived and the “Southern Invasion” crossed the Mason-Dixon Line and landed in Corning, NY!  Whoo Hooo!  With all ALL my BRF’s in tow it was going to be an amazing weekend……and that is was!

Southern Invasion!

Rebecca (yankee transplant to NC), Me, Laura, Becky!

We arrived Saturday am and were immediately blow away by the beauty of the area. The air was crisp, the sun was shinning, and the leaves were just starting to turn.  It was amazing!  We left upper 70’s in NC to 50’s in NY.  It was GORGEOUS!  The Marathon is a huge event for this area.  There were welcome banners in the airport and even a welcoming station for the runners.  Wow!  These people really rolled out the red carpet and we had not even gotten out of the airport.  We knew we were in for an amazing weekend in the finger lakes region of NY. It is a must see and do!

Becky checks out the course map as Rebecca, superstitious, REFUSES to even glance at it. (check out awesome cinch sacks we got…great quality)

We hit the expo to start collecting all the amazing schwag the WGM has become known for.  The regional marathon gets high marks on being a fast course, BQ qualifier, and an AWESOME unique glass finishers medal, and a spectacular finish line “spread” of just about anything your heart desires.  They must add hospitality to this list.  Everyone we met was so excited we were visiting and were just so friendly.  I am typically the dead give away anytime I leave the south “You are not from around here, where are you from?” My southern accent, which I will still argue is not that strong 🙂 is always a dead giveaway.  So we got to meet lots of people from the area.  You know southerns we will talk to anyone.

Back to the expo.  The WGM organizers and travel and tourism folks were well coordinated.  We picked up our bag, shirt, and bib at the YMCA which happened to be beside the Corning Museum of Glass, which as a marathon participant we got reduced admission.  Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit….we needed more time.

Becky and Rebecca headed to the Heart of Corning for swag!

Next, we were instructed to take a short walk across the bridge into the heart of Corning to  pick up our WGM wineglass and bottle of champagne made specifically for the weekend.  Wow!  We also got a sample of Poppletons  Harvest Wine Cake the official WGM Cake which was amazing…we bought 2! They ship!

We were totally in love with the area and had not been there but a few hours.  Next we hit Market Street Brewing Company for super yummy appetizers and liquid carb loading!

Her 2nd round next to our 1st! Clearly she was seeking carbs!

No names will be mentioned but if one of my BRF’s would hydrate while running like she does at the bar her performance just might soar!  hehe   While we were carb loading, my Corning “admirer”  paid us a visit.  We met Jimmy earlier on Market Street after he remarked on my cowgirl boots..  Jimmy professed is love for me and wanted me to move to Corning.

Me and Jimmy my new friend!

Jimmy  is know by all the locals as he spends his days cruising Market Street on his mountain bike with his  police scanner.  If you are in Corning make sure you speak to Jimmy he is so kind and has a HEART of GOLD!  Watch out Dan!

Looking down Market Street

Market Street was so beautiful and full of unique shops, glass galleries, eateries etc. You can spend an entire day window shopping, eating, and drinking!  We hit Sorges, a local Italian eatery for homemade pasta to continue the carb load.  It was AMAZING!  We got there just in time.  As we left there were hoards of people waiting for tables.  Next we hit Wegmans for food and water.  Wegmans was huge and smelled so good!  It smelled like thanksgiving! I had fall on my mind.

Thirsty?

I purchased my typical “big gulps” that everyone makes fun of me for.  I consume a lot of water carefully enhanced by my favorite electrolyte tabs NUUN!  Which is officially pronounced “Noon” but Rebecca calls them  “Nuns”  We find them to be rather “heavenly” so the divine reference works for us!  We need all the help we can get!

Just as Laura and I we were settling in for an attempt at a good nights rest, Rebecca visited to inquire if either of us had extra running skirt or shorts. WHY?   Becky, bless her heart, forgot her running shorts.  Can we say CRISIS!  We were in small town America which is void of Starbucks on every corner, Target, or a sporting goods/running store open past 5:00pm.  So off to Walmart they went.  Becky returned with some Danskin Capris one size too big that she swore fit her.  She thoroughly entertained us for the next half hour modeling all versions of her race day apparel. Underwear, no underwear, underwear over the pants etc…..Just when we thought her apparell could not get any worse she pulled out her “toss sweater” she was going to wear to stay warm pre-race.  Dear God! A time machine must have been involved!

Becky’s time machine

Becky clearly took a trip to the late 80’s early 90’s to resurrect this golden beauty. We rolled in laughter at the fact she still had this sweater and worse yet she allowed it to take up space in her luggage. Our laughter just fueled her love affair with the sweater….so Becky being the REBEL that she is wore it pre- race then CHECKED IT!  Please someone call Stacy and Clinton we need an intervention!  No time for that we had a race to run!

Classic! Becky’s Time Machine Sweater and her TUB of vaseline. What is wrong with Body Glide? xoxo

We took the bus to the starting line and were able to hang out in a garage with heaters and chairs.  This was luxury (minus the porta potties!)  It was cold outside, perfect running weather.  We were excited and ready!  The course was beautiful!  It was flat with two hills, which I would argue don’t even qualify as hills.  I would call them slight inclines.  The rural route was beautiful, peaceful and generally serine with impressive crowd support for such a small regional marathon.  I enjoyed almost every mile…some more than others.  I had told myself early on that finishing was my objective.  I traveled too far to be bummed out by missing a time goal.  I was running for the shear enjoyment of it!  Stress free with a little pain here and there.

At mile 26 the run down Market Street to the finish was amazing.  It was a straight .2 shot to the finish.  The trees lining the street were beautiful…almost as beautiful as the finish line!  Whoo Hoo Marathon #9 done and it was AWESOME!  Check out the bling!

By far the coolest most unique finishers medal I have ever received. Made locally in Corning.

The spread of food and drink was amazing chocolate milk, soda, hot chocolate, fruit, bagels, cookies, hot soup, etc. They even had a pizza oven on the street pulling out HOT Pizza!  I had to take a picture cause I figured nobody would believe it!  Not even the Disney Marathon Weekend can top this spread!

We got our grub on then headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up….we had wineries to visit and the clock was ticking!

Beckys “golden beauty” is OLDER than the young ladies who took our picture.

We cleaned up fast and headed to some local winerys. 1st stop Castel Grisch, Watkins Glen, NY.  We were looking super sassy in our Its all Good We Ran Today Tees from AnotherMotherRunner.com !

Castle Grisch

Lakewood Vineyards

2nd stop was Lakewood Vineyards.  Tammy took awesome care of us!  We tasted some fabulous wine (purchases were made) and  ate some chesse curds (1st for me).  Tammy sent us across the lake to  local eatery The Stonecat Cafe.  Our meal, all supplied locally, was amazing! If you are in the area its a don’t miss!  We headed back to our hotel where we ate our Harvest Wine Cake and toasted to a job well done! 1 Boston Qualifier, 1 recent Personal Best, 1 Post Baby Marathon, and 1 running for the sheer joy of it!

We wrapped up our weekend with quiche and coffee at Poppletons Pastries (YUMMY).  Jimmy spotted as he rode by on his bike and and came in to say hello!

We  had some time to kill before our flight so we headed down the street to Vitix Hot Glass Studio.   They were busy working on new pieces.  I finally, got my glass pumpkin!  Everywhere we went in Corning were these beautiful glass pumpkins. I had tons of fragile stuff in my suit case already (medal, wine glass) what was another breakable item.

Unfortunately our weekend had to come to and end.  We did not want to leave.  There was so much to do and see but not enough time.  Our families and job were waiting for us back in NC!

The Wineglass Marathon is a topnotch event! Add it to your running bucket list….I promise it will not disappoint!