Bless My Heart

the improvement of a southern girl


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Portland Shamrock Run

I had the pleasure of being invited by my sister and her boyfriend to join them in running the Shamrock Run in Portland, Oregon last weekend. This was the first 5k for my big sis, and I knew I wanted to join her as soon as she asked.

Yes, this is my “big” sister. My other “big” sister is tiny, too. I don’t know what to tell you except for my theory that my mother’s body knew that I was her last fetus and it supplied to me every growth hormone and amazon-woman gene it could find.

Yeah I just made that up.

After visiting the village of port-a-potties, we found where we were supposed to be.

There were a TON of people at this event. 26,000+ to be exact. There are 3 different races; 5k, 8k, and 15k. Our 5k had around 7500 runners.  Come time to start, we made our way into the thick of ’em.

It took around 15 or minutes or so to get to the start line after the gun. We were in the “10:00 and higher” corral towards the back of the pack.

You can see the START in this picture, as well as the timer to the left that says 13:08 on the gun time. The leaders of the race were more than 2/3rds done by the time this pic was taken 😦

I took my phone out about halfway through to take an action shot. This was the beginning of a big hill that took up most of the 2nd  mile. You can see that the congestion never really let up. The whole race was a constant traffic jam; swerving around slowpokes and being passed by speeders. It kept us on our toes for sure. Speaking of toes, we saw a girl running the whole way on her tippy-toes. How do you do that??? Why??

We finished around 36 minutes in. A normal pace for me and a good pace for sister’s first time. We actually did the last mile in 10:15, but the big hill killed us earlier on. As soon as we crossed the finish line we turned in our timer and headed to the water bottles. I took a picture of the timer because this was the first time I’d used one of these. It went around my ankle and I DIDN’T LIKE IT AT ALL! I like shoelace chips!

It was a great race and I’m very proud of my sister and how well she did the first time out (with hardly ANY training, by the way). I am looking forward to focusing my training for faster paces now that I am done with adding distance. Although I do have the idea of doing another half marathon at the end of this season in the back of my mind ;).


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Half Marathon Race Recap

It’s been a week since I ran my half, so I figure it’s about time to let you all know how it went :).

The Man and I put our little girls in the hands of his mother and headed out the door at 5:45am on Saturday morning and pointed the car to New Orleans. After a 5 hour drive and a few stops, we headed to the Expo at the Convention Center.

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The center was packed with people buzzing around every which way. Along with the runners, there was some sort of cheerleader thing going on as well. I searched out and found a steady stream of abnormally fit people going in a certain direction and followed them into the correct hall. From the very first minute, I knew I was where I needed to be. This was where I should be. Not because I am abnormally fit, but because I want to be 🙂

As a steady stream of people passed by, I couldn’t help but observe the many different genres of “runner” that I saw. There were the pros, sleek and trim and cool as a cucumber. Another day at the office for them. There were the groups and teams, giggling as they huddled together for another photo-op. Leaning on each other for support and inspiration. And there were the rookies, with eyes and clothing sizes a little wider than the rest, lingering in front of every station. These were my people, and there were plenty of them.

After getting my bib and info packet, we were off to explore the chaos. I had to stop for my own little photo-op…

I have to say that we didn’t stay too long at the expo. Too, too many people for this chick. I tried to soak it in as fast as possible. A few free samples here and there and I signed up for a new magazine subscription so I could get a “free” tshirt 🙂

The rest of the day was spent grabbing some good food and visiting family and a Tulane baseball game. It was a beautiful day to spend in the city, but I have to say I was quite preoccupied through most of it. I suffered with an upset stomach through most of the day. Nothing dramatic, just enough to feel upset. Nerves, yuck!!

Around 9 o’clock I decided to call it a night and get myself ready for the morning. I laid out everything I needed for the next morning; this is the pic I took of it all before I packed for the trip:

The white fleece jacket is forever-old and needed to be retired. I chose to bring it to the starting line to ditch when we started. It was too cold to go without anything while waiting, but knew I would heat up pretty quickly. I give myself a +2 for that idea, as it worked perfectly. The waist belt was something I bought the day before we left town. Without my running jacket, I needed a pocket to carry my iphone in so I could contact The Man when/if I reached the finish line. Another +2. It was a great $10.00 purchase from Academy. I didn’t feel it the entire run, and it was nice to be able to text when I was reaching Canal St. to let the husband know I was reaching our checkpoint.

The bodyglide has been long-run staple ever since I had a sports bra incident that made me look like a had an underwire attack; and the shot bloks I would have really liked at about mile 6, but I forgot to pack them the morning of the run.

After getting all my gear ready, I read over my instructions a few dozen times and closed my eyes praying for sleep.

It worked. I slept like a baby.

Alarm was set on the iphone for 5am and it didn’t take me long after the first sounds for me to remember the monstrous task I had assigned for myself that day. I quickly went about getting dressed and ready and eating the peanut butter and banana sandwich I had made for myself the night before. I woke The Man up and we headed out the door by 6:00am. After a short drive in a sleepy town, we arrived at the shuttle set up for runners at the Superdome. After a sweet send-off from the husband, I closed the door and found myself alone on a tremendous journey. I loaded the shuttle bus and sat quietly, watching couples and friends walk by through the window.

A nice older gentleman sat down next to me and politely asked me about myself. He was from Atlanta and has done dozens of half marathons throughout the years. It was a nice ice breaker into another runner’s perspective. I felt better automatically.

After a short walk from the bus stop, I found myself at the starting area.

I had about 1/4 of a bagel and a bottle of water, and made my way to my corral.

I wisely went to the port-a-potty before the rest of the crowd filled in. There was quite a line at this point. You can see a line of blue potties in the background, right above the people. That was the main group of them, but luckily each corral had five or six in the start line as well. Everybody’s got to go before a race!

After about 20 minutes of waiting, we saw the front line take off but my corral took about 35 minutes to work up to the start line. I snuck out of the barriers to pee again 🙂 and barely missed a beat. +2 decision again for me. I didn’t have to go at all while running and every potty in the race course had a line waiting.

Finally, the start!

Mile 1 – went by in a flash. Just excited about watching everything and every body go by.

Mile 2 – trying to settle into a pace. I notice on my Garmin I’m a little faster than normal. Try to bring it down a bit to I don’t burn out too fast but it’s too easy a pace right now. Still excited.

Mile 3 – HOLY CRAP MY STOMACH IS CRAMPING!!! Where did that come from? I try not to dwell on it and inhale long and slow, breathing down into my belly. It works.

Mile 4, 5, 6 – Just cruising. Slowed down and staring at various butts as we all go along. Also start having routine water stations about every mile or so and decide to walk 30 seconds through each one so I can actually drink it and not splash my face instead.

Mile 7 – Yeah, I’m tired. Yeah, I’m thinking to myself, “a couple of weeks ago I did a 7 miler and it was long and hard and I was ecstatically happy with it. and now I’m just a little over halfway done… boo…“.

Mile 8 – I got to see my smiling husband as I went through the Quarter. He snapped a pic and then I promptly stopped for a second to talk and stretch. My back/hamstrings were getting pretty stiff at this point.

If it looks like those two ladies were walking, it’s because they were. 8.4 miles in, people were dropping like flies.

Mile 9 – Along with the water, they had energy gel (Gu). I have never wanted anything more during a run. I was way past empty on the energy scale. I took mine down quickly, and I admit, a half mile later I picked up an unopened discarded packet and had it as well. I’m telling you.. EMPTY!

Mile 10, 11, 12 – THE HARDEST 3 MILES I HAVE EVER “RUN” IN MY LIFE! Mile 10 had a donut shop and the air was the best thing I have ever smelled. Thoughts of beignets faded into the background as I smelled those heavenly donuts. Two runners actually came out of the shop and joined back into the race with a bag of chocolate cake donuts. I hated them instantly for taunting me. Taunting me with donuts, and taunting me with the fact they could joke about eating donuts after running so long. They had no idea I hated them, either. I observed it all in silence as I suffered along the live oak covered cracked pavement of Esplanade Ave.

The 13th mile  – We were teased a little by thinking we had to run down and cross a bridge and come back to the park. When we reached the bridge we realized the path went the opposite direction and then came back around, adding a 1/2 mile or so. That was depressing. My whole body hurt, but the last few miles I realized it hurt just as bad when I walked as it did while I ran, so I carried on. As we approached the finish line I was passing runners that were walking back from the finish line, already carrying their finisher’s medal. I was soo ready to be one of them.

THE FINISH LINE!

There was no energy left to speed up for a strong finish, so I made sure just to finish in an upright position. It would be bad form to collapse at this point 😉

I quickly realized there was no one to greet me. The Man hadn’t made it to the park by shuttle bus yet (there was no parking for spectators, boo!). That was a little disheartening, but I tried to enjoy it all as much as I could. I was given my medal and grabbed up some free grub before finding a nice tree to crash under until my cheering section arrived (sister-in-law and brother-in-law joined husband).

That’s a pic of a very tired, but very satisfied girl. I just finished a half marathon! I went from huffing through my first Couch to 5k 90 second run, to running 13.1 miles!!! Granted, I was slow (2:55), but I was never in this for speed. I wanted to go the distance – and the distance I conquered 🙂

I really believe now that I can do anything I set my mind to. The body is an amazingly adaptive thing. If you sit on the couch all day, it will adapt to that. If you push it through exercise, it will adapt to that as well. It was my decision to get off the couch, and I’m so very glad that I did.

I don’t really know where I go from here. I am going to run a 5k in Portland, Oregon next weekend visiting family, and I have a few 5k’s scheduled for this spring/summer. The Man and I have got a plan to start lifting/running together to lose some poundage. Funny thing that I haven’t lost any weight during training. My appetite was as big as my training plan! I’m also pretty weak as well, so I’m looking forward to adding some weight lifting to tone up a bit for summer short season.

Sorry it took so long to recap! Work life is pretty busy right now and kids never let up (school kids or home kids!).

Night y’all – and I hope this inspires you to do something to improve your life. You don’t have to run 13.1 miles, but you should investigate that nagging thought in the back of your brain that pushes you out of your comfort zone.


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The Spa10k Recap

Whew! It’s done! 5 weeks of hard work and perseverance has paid off and I rocked my 10k race yesterday. We got in to the hotel around 9pm and after laying out my clothes for the next morning, I was asleep by 10:15. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of nerves, but the long drive made me ready to crawl into bed. I slept fast and quick and woke up bright and early at 5:57am. Three minutes before my alarm went off. Why does that happen??? The Man showered while I found a vending machine and bought some nasty stale peanut butter crackers. I ate four out of the six and made some coffee. Then it was time to go! The start was at the convention center about .5 mile south of the hotel. I was happy to find out it wasn’t toooo cold when we got out the door. We got there about 7, so we had about an hour to kill before the start. I kept myself busy getting ready. This was my first race to use a timing chip, so it took a minute to figure out how to put it on my shoe. *See my Garmin watch?I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and was excited about racing with it. I turned it on and quickly found out that the battery was dead.  I fully charged it before packing… I guess it was bumped on somehow. I was bummed. No Garmin 😦 And there’s the bib. #89. It kept me thinking about my big sister. She graduated high school in ’89. I saw that number a lot when I was a kid 😉 All ready to go!! Thumbs up was apparently my “thing” yesterday. I swear I gave a thumbs up to at least a dozen volunteers/cops while running the course. I guess I was encouraging myself in a roundabout way. I went to the bathroom at least three times in the hour I was waiting, but sure enough, as soon as they said it was time to line up, I had to pee again. No time to go though, so I felt like I had to pee the first 2 miles. Nerves, stupid nerves. Here we go! Rocking the thumbs up!

Mile 1 – trying to forget about the fact that I need to pee. settling in, keeping my pace. humoring myself with townspeople watching us like we are on parade. it feels like a parade.

Mile 2 – reminding myself that I have to do this for over and hour and zoning out a bit. pacer girl tells me my time, and I’m on pace. I feel good.

Mile 3 – water. yeah! I turn a corner and there is a mountain I have to run up. But, hey, I can do it. I pass people for the first time since mile 1. Training on my long hilly road at home as helped!

Mile 4 – start going downhill. crap, it’s going back up! ok, now down for good.

Mile 5 – more water! and finishing it out through the old neighborhoods. I probably could run faster, but I’m still afraid of burning out before the finish. FINISH! I finished in 1:15:21, which gave me a 12:09 mile pace. Still turtle-ish, but it about :20 mile faster than it used to be, so I’ll take it. Hey, it’s faster than being on the couch 🙂 We ditched the end awards and ceremony blah blah and went back to the hotel for me to get a shower and change. I was ready for some pancakes! This is supposed to be the place to go for breakfast. It was -eh- okay. I make a better pancake. I didn’t really care though, cause I was hungry! I had blueberry buckwheat pancakes with one egg and bacon. I have to say, I ate most of this. Hey, I had just ran 6.2 miles! I really like my race shirt! It’s a Brooks technical shirt. After pancakes we did a little Christmas shopping, watched a little football, I got a massage (heaven), and planned our evening. I had the Man drive me around the course so I could show him the mountain. Had to get out and take a picture. You can see the rise of the hill in the background a little. We were up a bit! It was a great day, but I had to make an emergency trip to Walgreens for some Tylenol around 5. My legs were so sore already! Luckily it kicked in and I made it through date night to watch some bands play. Can’t say I did any booty shaking, though. Found myself a chair and stayed in it! I’m so glad that I decided to do this race, and although I’m a little sore, I’m sitting here planning my next one. There is a 5k in two weeks that I’ll probably do, and then…  the half marathon?????  Do I dare?