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!

 

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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.

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!

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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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

Carmel-by-the-Sea

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.

BigsurElevation

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.

IMG-20130428-00190

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!

Carmel-20130428-00201

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”.

tweet1

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

tweet2

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

 

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!

Boston Athletic Association…Honoring a fellow Marathoner and his Cheerleader

Say what you want about runners, despite our individual quirkiness, we are  dedicated to our sport and all those who partake in it.   We are a deeply caring and compassionate community.  We  connect to  runners we have never personally met  simply because we share the same drive, passion, and love for running.  We all run for different reasons and have many different goals but in the end we are all runners.  That is our simple connection and that is all that matters.

Last month I posted a 26.2 Mile Salute a tribute to Billy, written by my sister.  Billy, an advid and accomplished marathoner, was training for his second  Boston Marathon when he un-expectantly pass away.  His fellow running community ran in his honor, April 16th, 2012.

Forrest Gump running shoe fashion

One of Billy’s running partners, who honored Billy at his funeral by wearing his running shoes, contacted BAA to let them know that Billy passed away prior to hearing the starting gun of his 2nd Boston Marathon.   The kind and compassionate, fellow runners, at the Boston Athletic Association, took the time and effort to gather Billy’s race items and sent them along with a letter of condolence to Billy’s wife.

As you can imagine, the arrival of this un- expected package to Mrs. Blevins home address sparked a  variety of emotions.  The best I can glean from the email forwarded to me is that she   was honored and overjoyed.  The personal letter so eloquently ended by saying

                                        “he has fought the good fight and finished the race” 

Contents of the package from BAA

Way to go BAA! What a wonderful and  thoughtful way to honor a dedicated runner and his loyal cheerleader.  Mrs. Blevins, whom was his biggest fan,  was on the sidelines of all of Billy’s races,

I never had the honor of meeting Billy, nor have I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Blevins.  However, their story pulls at my heart strings and I feel an indescribable connection to them both.  There is no other explanation…it has to be the “runners connection”

 Run, Billy Run!  There is no pain in Heaven!

Rest in Peace 

BoxerRunner

Running for Billy….A 26.2 Mile Salute!

(My Sisters tribute to a friends father….I just had to share)

Today Bonnie’s dad,  would have been running in the Boston Marathon, but he died unexpectedly about a month ago. This morning Bonnie put out the challenge to all her family and friends to run the 26.2 miles together for her Dad. When all was said and done, 52.75 miles were logged for Billy in 3 different cities–
Kinston, Richmond, and Chicago.

Everything started at Subway Restaurant in the little town of Pink Hill. Lunchtime conversation with fellow pharmacist turned from prescriptions to the Boston Marathon. My heart immediately sunk. Oh my, this was Billy’s day to run. I knew I would definitely be reaching out to my freind, Bonnie, before the day was done. However, in a quick email check after lunch, I soon found that Bonnie had already reached out to us. She put the challenge out to cooperatively run 26.2 miles for Billy today. My immediate response, “I’m in!”.

For 3 months I was unable to run as I nursed an IT band injury I incurred from training for my first marathon. Then for the past 6 weeks and finally physically able to run again pain free, I had a new struggle. My motivation to hit the pavement was lack luster- at best. All I had mustered up recently were sporadic runs from week to week or sometimes even two weeks to two weeks. Tonight was different. I came home motivated to run. I knew this one was for Billy and for his family that we love. After working all day, I popped a spoonful of peanut butter down the hatch, and laced up my running shoes. I pet the dog and headed out the door. No, I was not waiting for my husband who said he would run with me at 9:30pm. This was it. I knew I had to go.

Now I wish I could tell you that this run was like a Disney movie and that I found great physical strength that I never knew I had and that I completed my run into a beautiful warm and glowing orange sunset and, of course, in record time and with a new personal record. No. Instead, my body struggled like a runner who was out of condition. I ran into the dusk and springtime darkness fighting all the newly hatching bugs as they crashed into my ears, nostrils, and yes, my mouth. My legs cried out, “please just stop”, but as I purposefully ran past the places that I knew meant so much to Billy–the Sullivan house on Sedgefield and the first Sullivan home on Dorcas Terrace, I knew I could do it. Each step I ran I thought of all the beautiful steps–and probably not always so easy steps–that Billy took over the years in helping impact the lives of his special family that we are so lucky to know. I kept going.

Rounding back home after 4 miles, my body was happy to see Margaret Lane, because that meant it was time to hit that magic button on the Garmin watch and let those tired legs rest.  I’ve run many runs over the last couple years,  and I’ve felt the satisfaction of finishing a good race, but this run was different. The satisfaction was deeper and more special.  With my legs slowing to walk, I threw my arms up in the air and spoke to heaven, “That one was for you, Billy.”  Billy ran the Boston Marathon today, but not alone.  Instead, he was in the company of all those who loved him who took on their part of today’s race for him.  I am so glad that I was able to do this very special Boston Marathon for Billy and all the people who love him so much.

Laury S,4 miles  10min 30 sec pace, April 16, 2012

Barbara- Billy’s wife of 47 1/2 years…. shared with me a little about Billy’s accomplishments. It is in the comments but I wanted to make sure is was visible. 

I was married to that Marathon Man, Billy Blevins, for 47 1/2 years!!! It was so sweet of Laury to write & you to post for the world to read. Billy first started running with an 8k in Richmond when he was 60 followed by many Marathons & also qualified for Boston x2 here. He completed 17 marathons including Boston-2006, London-April 2007,Berlin-Oct 2007, NY-2009, Chicago-2010, DC Marine Corp -2011, & VA Beach several times. Your site makes me happy……..Barbara M. Blevins (He died 3-12-12 exactly 5 weeks before Boston of a Heart Attack while sleeping).

Dedicate your next run to Billy!  I know I will!- BoxerRunner