#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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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.

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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!

Finish & Enjoy…Big Sur Marathon Plan

8th State, 13th Marathon, and my #1 all time favorite!

Big Sur International Marathon, April 28, 2013!

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Wow, is all I can say.  Everything about the Big Sur Marathon weekend exceeded my expectations.  Big Sur, is sitting pretty in my number #1 best overall marathon in every category.  I have often pondered keeping a running ranking of my marathon adventures and this just might inspire me to do that.

For anyone who asked about my experience I explained that Big Sur is the only marathon I have ever run that I enjoyed almost every single mile. If it weren’t for the uphill on mile 25, I would say I enjoyed EVERY mile. The pain of mile 25 was brief, just generally not appreciated so late in the race.

2, 765 miles!

2, 765 miles!

So what made the Big Sur miles so much more enjoyable than the previous 316.4? (12 x 26.2 + extra two miles on my ultra attempt) .  I am not exactly sure, but I will attribute it to  having just one single goal – Finish & Enjoy!

MY BIG SUR MARATHON PLAN! 

( taken directly from pre-race communication)

This is a difficult course and you should plan on adding extra minutes to your usual marathon time. Walk if necessary, Enjoy the spectacular music and scenery along the course and don’t worry about your time!

 I took the pre-race communications to heart and put them to action. The last thing I wanted to do was travel 2,765 miles and beat myself up over a missed PR. A mere 13 days after the attacks on Boston, just being able to run, in honor of those who cannot was a gift in itself.  

Despite Big Sur being my all time favorite marathon, I have struggled to feel inspired to put it into words.  (Hence,the delay of the race recap).  So I thought I would let my pictures tell the story

View from terrace

View from terrace

Lodging– Hotel Pacific, located right next to the expo, and block away from marathon transportation was fabulous.  Our room was huge and full of amenities.  It included a sitting area with gas fireplace, small dinning area with fridge, bathroom perfect for sharing with two showers etc  We loved it and felt like we were in a honeymoon suite.

http://www.hotelpacific.com/

courtyard view from room

Pre Marathon Relaxation

Pre Marathon Relaxation, while listening to Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” Michael Martinez

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Race Expo- Monterey Conference Center. Was easy to navigate, staffed with super friendly volunteers, and hosted lots of great vendors.  We typically breeze through the expos(you’ve seen one you have seen them all) but this one we took our time to enjoy! My highlight was officially meeting Runners World, Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso! I was giddy with excitement and was able to contain myself! The previous November, Bart gave me a “fist bump” during the Richmond, VA Marathon when I spotted him on the sidelines.  I am a huge fan!  His book My Life On The Run, is a great running read.

Bart Man!

Me and Bart Man!

Expo continued…the support for Boston was everywhere!

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

We met Michael Martinez, Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” who famously sits at mile 13.1 and plays his  Grand Piano. We purchased his CD.

Laura and i with David

Laura and I with Michael

No pictures of the expo massages but they were awesome and well worth $1 a minute!

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Saturdays Highway 1 adventures – We drove through Monterrey Cannery Row. Although fabulous, and the best aquarium I have ever seen, we skipped visiting the  Monterrey Bay Aquarium in an effort to stay off our feet. Instead, we drove the 17-mile drive,  lunched in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and then headed down Highway 1 to Big Sur.

The Lone Cypress, one of the sights on the 17 mile drive

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

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Carmel-by-the-Sea

Lunch at Hogs Breath Inn!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation...your hat is on its way!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation…your hat is on its way!

Laura at Big Sur Bakery...too full to partake

Laura at Big Sur Bakery…too full to partake

ahhh...the view.  Gotta love Big Sur

ahhh…the view. Gotta love Big Sur

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

amazing coastal  views....

amazing coastal views….

starting line coffee

starting line coffee

Marathon Day- Early start as we loaded the buses to Big Sur at 4:15am.  Luckily, we only had to walk a block from our hotel. Its an early start, but its a major effort on the event organizers to transport runners 26.2 miles down two laned Highway 1.  In addition to the marathon Big Sur offers a Relay, 21, 10.6, 9, and 5k mile option.

1st race I have even participated in that offered water, coffee and food at the start!  Super bonus points for that!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Starting line

Starting line

Two Thumbs up from Bart Yasso prior to the start!

Pre-start Bart Sighting

Pre-start Bart Sighting

6:45am and we were off and running!  As part of my Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan, I brought my phone to take pictures along the way.  The official description describes Big Sur Marathon  as a Point to point, moderately difficult, with live entertainment on the course. Featuring rolling hills, Big Sur is the largest rural marathon in the world, winding through redwoods, paralleling ranches, and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

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I often stopped to catch a glace of where I had come from.  The view looking back is just as good as the views ahead.  It is 360 degrees of sheer beauty.

Mile 5 9 guess, looking back

Mile 5 (best guess), looking back

Just when I thought we might escape the famous headwinds, the course opened up and so did the wind. It was wicked but manageable.  Even the cows ran for cover….I was not as fortunate

Cows retreating from the winds

Cows retreating from the winds

If the winds were not enough , we soon caught the first glimpses of Hurricane Point (550 foot climb over 2 miles) starting at mile 10. I am proud to say I slayed Hurricane Point by running the entire way.  I was determined not to stop!

1st views of Hurricane Point

1st views of Hurricane Point

Way before you could see the Bixby Bridge, which famously signifies the halfway point on the marathon course, you could hear the the tones  from the Grand Piano.  It was absolutely surreal and uplifting. One of my favorite memories.  As  I approached the Bixby Bridge,  I found myself overcome with emotion and fought back unexpected tears. My best guess is they were tears of shear joy as i was having an awesome run! I attempted a short video that really does it no justice at all

The mile markers, each 7 foot tall, where the BEST, I have ever seen. They ranged from completely stupid, funny, to inspiring.  They had a unique way of telling a story and really personalizing the marathon to the region, local runners,  and area. Take a look for yourself- Big Sur Mile Marker Project.

13.1 Mile Marker

13.1 Mile Marker

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez...this makes me laugh

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez…this makes me laugh

Windy shot taken by a fellow runner.  My skirt looks like I was about to take flight.

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The end was in view, first glimpses of CarmelIMG-20130428-00192

Fresh strawberries at mile 24! Yummy!

Mile 24 treat!

Mile 24 treat!

The description for mile marker 25 says it all, about my only UNenjoyable mile of the entire course.  This “Doomsayer” needs to lighten up! You may be feeling a bit down at this point, but with the finish just over a mile away, the end to your race is just over the next hill. 

Doom uphill Mile!

Doom uphill Mile!

Finally, 26.2! The race Directors and organizers, donned in their BSIM Blue blazers, shook the hands of participants as they cross the finish!  Total class act! This years finish line included  the Boston Marathon Executive Director who personally shook the hands of EVERY Boston 2 Big Sur participant. It was amazing to watch as . Emotions were still very raw and many were moved to tears.

My bonus was a congratulations hug from Bart Yasso! Promise I am a fan and not a stalker!

With Laura, being a Boston 2 Big Sur participant, we enjoyed the awesome finishers tent that overlooked the finish line. I only joined her after I partook in the free 10 minute massage.

We did it!

We did it!

Laura’s Medals

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

It was amazing! Pleased with my 4:54:47 finish, which included 2 pit stops, and numerous video and  photo ops. It was not my fastest, nor my slowest but was my STRONGEST physical and mental FINISH.  My Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan carried me through.  My only expectation was to enjoy and take it all in.  I accomplished that an much more!

I do have to credit Raleigh CrossFit, which I included in the last month of my training plan. I feel a new addiction brewing! #RaleighStrong!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

035One and done in California! Big Sur International  Marathon was an excellent choice! This race should be on every Marathon bucket list!

Mark you calendars registration for 2014 opens July 15th.  It typically sells out in a matter of days so don’t delay. Register, train, and Finish & Enjoy!

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