Saturday, January 17, 2015

Just happy to finish - Mississippi Blues Marathon 2015 Race Recap

Another year and another Blues Marathon is in the books!  This year's Blues Marathon, along with the First Light Marathon in Mobile the following day, was the Maniac Reunion.  I had no intentions of running Mobile again, but after this announcement was made, I ended up signing up for that race too which was in direct violation of my new rule for 2015 - No spending money on hotel rooms for races unless it's a new state.  Doh!  I'm so weak.  I made arrangements for several friends to stay at my house and to travel with to Mobile so the cost of the hotel room/travel was pretty minimal.  But I digress.  Let's get back to the Blues!  Race morning was so freaking cold!  Actually the entire race was so freaking cold!

Pre-race selfie.  Yes, hubby's beard is real.

Last year, I actually did pretty well at the Blues, finishing with a new PR of 4:14:59.  This year, I knew it would just be good to finish without my asshole right leg falling off!  Ever since Pensacola, my right leg has decided that it hates me.  I've had pains in both my adductor and my IT band that have made me cut a lot of my runs short.  So just getting through the Blues this year would be a victory.  The race started and I ran with my friend TW for the first few miles.  My asshole leg pretty much hurt from the very beginning.  

WTF is up with my arm swing? (pic courtesy of Fleet Feet Jackson)

I didn't take my hunter orange sweatshirt off until around mile 5, but I did so very reluctantly and once I did take it off I immediately regretted that life decision.  I actually never felt "warm" the entire race.  Always slightly chilly.  I stayed just ahead of or with the 4:30 pacer for about the first 11 miles or so.  This is much slower than I have been running my long runs but was just trying to keep my damn leg happy.  

For as "slow" as I was going, the miles seemed to fly by.  I ran pretty much the entire way, just very slowly.  I wasn't wearing any Maniac gear because I was feeling less than social.  In addition to my asshole leg, I was also getting a cold.  Pretty much the running gods hated me.  The Blues course is "rolling" and that's pretty much all you have to keep you entertained.  Most of the course is through residential neighborhoods and along the highway.  Not very scenic at all!  For it being so cold, I was impressed with the amount of people out cheering us on in the neighborhoods.  My ass would have been inside!  By the time I got to about mile 22, I knew that at least a sub-5 finish time was in the bag.  I didn't want to stop running because it was most painful to stop and then start again.  So I "ran" (maybe shuffled is a better word) until I hit the finish line.  Finished in 4:43:45.

Look at that quad!

I grabbed my metal, a bottle of water, and my heat sheet and walked (hobbled) directly to my car.  Leg was definitely pretty angry with me.  Chances of doing Mobile the next day were slim to none!  Even bending my leg was a real struggle.  Got home and discovered that hubby had done well in the half and had signed up for the Mississippi River Half Marathon in a few weeks.  

Too cold for outside pictures.

The medal this year is fantastic.  As you can see, both the marathon and half marathon medals are quite large.  I'm not sure why the guitar tilts the way it does.  Don't people play it tilted the other way?  Upon looking at all my Blues medals, they all tilt this (what I consider) wrong way.  In our race bag, we didn't get a shirt, but a vest that resembles that of a Walmart greeter (thanks to JL for making that reference on Facebook because I thought it was the most accurate description of this hideous piece of race clothing).  I can't believe the number of people that were actually wearing that thing during the race.  Unless I dress up as a Walmart greeter for Halloween one year, the chances of me putting that thing on are pretty much ZERO!  They gave these vests out in 2009 and they were bright yellow.  One of the only pieces of race clothing that I've actually thrown in the garbage!

Welcome to Walmart.  Let me play you a little ditty on my guitar.
After a quick shower, we were on our way to Mobile for the First Light race.  At the expo, I officially dropped to the half marathon and upon waking up on Sunday morning I officially kept my ass in bed.  No way I was even walking the half marathon.  I wasn't too sad about this since I've already done this race.  It's more important for me to finish new states, so if that means dropping out of a few "local" races, then that's what I'll do. 

A week later and my leg feels perfectly fine, although I haven't been for a run since the Blues.  My next run just may be on January 31, 2015, when I FINISH the Sedona Marathon in AZ for my 25th state. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The First 24

At the end of the month I will be halfway through the states - state #25 is slated to be Arizona on January 31.  Super excited about both going to Sedona AND being halfway done with my states.  So here's how the first 24 went.............

State #1: Georgia
Georgia Marathon (2009)

I picked a hell of a hilly course for my first.  Not sure why since I lived in flat flat flat eastern North Carolina at the time.  Nice course showcasing the best little neighborhoods of ATL. 

State #2: Arkansas
Little Rock Marathon (2011)

Yup - TWO YEARS passed between my first and second marathon.  I was WAY into half marathons at the time, so marathons were a rare occurrence.   Little Rock is always popular because of its ginormous, tacky medal. 

State #3: Mississippi

This is my "hometown" race, so I do it every year.  The course is rather boring as there is not much to see in Jackson.  It's only kept interesting by the endless hills.

State #4: Delaware

This race still remains one of my favorite races (maybe top 5).  I was so surprised at how beautiful Wilmington, DE, was and I thought the organizers of this race were first class.  This is a marathoner's marathon.  Highly recommend but it is hilly (and can be a tad warm). 

State #5: West Virginia

Marshall is always a good pick for WV.  It's FLAT, which I imagine is a rarity in WV.  Double loop course that is (honestly) less than scenic.  If you're not afraid of hills, I might look for another WV race.  Just sayin'. 

State #6: Texas

Typical big city marathon.  The part of the course that goes around the lake was nice, but other than that it was just sort of meh.  Big city races just aren't my favorite, but if you like them, this would be a good TX race for you.

State #7: Louisiana

This is a good race for LA although the back half of the marathon course is really really boring.  I did the half marathon at this race in 2014 and liked it (the half is mostly all around the LSU lakes and the campus).

State #8: Ohio

Another pretty typical city marathon.  Big race.  Goes through downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.  Hilly, but not terrible.  

State #9: Connecticut

Day 1 of my first double.  For a "bigger" race, I actually really liked this race and it's one of the few city marathons that I would go back to in a heartbeat.  Great course - nice mix of city and rural.  

State #10: Rhode Island

Day 2 of my first double.  Absolutely breathtaking course for the first 13.1 miles.  I wish they made this a double loop course because the back half of the marathon is a snooze-fest, especially after running the first half.  

State #11: Missouri

This course ran mostly through residential neighborhoods but the fall colors are in full bloom.  Not too hilly of a course, but just enough hills to keep it interesting.

State #12: Tennessee

Coldest ever!  Feels like temp of 9 degrees F at the start!  Yikes.  Also, hilliest ever!  Beautiful course that winds its way through Nashville's Percy Warner Park.  Great race with a cult like following.

State #13: Alabama

Day 2 of an unplanned double.  Decided to run it while running the Mississippi Blues Marathon the day before.  Nice course.  Good to double with Mississippi.

State #14: New Mexico

It's hard to describe this race.  Probably my favorite race that I've ever done.  26.2 miles in the high desert of New Mexico with the Organ Mountains all around you.  Such a beautiful course with inspiration everywhere you look.  In my opinion, this is a MUST DO event.

State #15: California

The Big Sur Marathon speaks for itself.  Highly scenic.  This is a bucket list race for many people and for good reason.  Save your legs for the second half because that's where all the hills are!

State #16: North Carolina

OMG!!  What a gem of a race!  This race is near Boone, NC, and is 26.2 miles of postcard-worthy views.  In my opinion, this is my perfect race (small, rural, scenic).  Barns, Christmas tree farms, cows, horses, a river!  I die!

State #17: Illinois

This was an inaugural event but was nicely done.  A few hills through Starved Rock Park, but otherwise flat.  Run past lots of farms.  No shade the last 13.1 miles and it was hot and sunny.  

State #18: Kentucky

Great race in the middle of nowhere!  You can count this race as either KY or WV since it starts in one and ends in the other.  Some big hills.  Scenic.  

State #19: Wyoming

This was day 1 of a "sort of" double (there was a day between the races).  Jackson Hole is a great destination with both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks nearby.  The course is scenic but a lot of it is run next to busy highways which sort of took away from it all.  Either way, I'd do this race again just because it's in Jackson Hole. 

State #20: Colorado

Day 2 of a "sort of"double.  Nice course around Colorado Springs with Pikes Peak in the background.  Not a technical trail, but this race is mostly on a hard packed dirt trail.  Very nice for running.

State #21: Nebraska

Along with the New River Marathon earlier in the year, this is (in my opinion) a perfect race.  Small, rural, and highly scenic.  It was hella hot this year (and no shade on the course) but that didn't matter because the course was so nice.  I also got 3rd in my age group (out of 4 - haha).

State #22: Maine

If you don't like hills you should stay far far away from this race.  Cause it's hilly!  Constant up and down.  Great course around Bar Harbor.  

State #23: Indiana

Another typical big city marathon so not my favorite.  Flat course through the city, parks, and residential neighborhoods.  Super cold too! 

State #24: Florida

Not my first choice for Florida, but it was drivable and fit the schedule.  Really boring course.  You are definitely not running along the water for this race.

So there it is.  My first 24 states.  I'm super excited about reaching the halfway point and even more excited to tackle the final 25.  Lots of states that I have never even stepped foot in!! I plan to finish either late 2018 or early 2019 in Pennsylvania.  I'm taking my time and enjoying my time in many of my remaining states.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I didn't hate it - Fit for Agriculture Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Ah yes, the Fit for Agriculture Half Marathon again.  I did this race last year (and a few years before that) so I expected it to be a torture-fest due to the mind-numbingly boring course.  While the course itself wasn't any different this year, I had someone to keep me company for 90% of the race, so the miles seemed to just fly by.  I arrived pretty early to the race and sat in my car listening to tunes until about 15 minutes before the start.  It was a pretty juicy morning.  Look at this weather!  I saw many people wearing long sleeves and beanies.  Pretty sure there was ZERO chance that your ears or head were going to get too cold.

It's so juicy!  Definitely ear muffs, gloves, and long sleeves weather.

We started about 3 minutes late.   Goal was to try to do better than last year (it was similar weather last year, so I felt this was a good goal).  Of course, this wouldn't be a half marathon without me going out way too fast!  The first three miles were somewhere around 9:00/mile.  EW caught up with me somewhere in these first few miles and we ended up running the rest of the race together.  After mile 3, we settled into a nice 9:30 pace and kept it there for pretty much the rest of the race.  Well, we won't talk about miles 10 and 11.  We crossed the finish just a bit past 2:05, a whole minute and a half faster than last year.  Haha.  Pretty sure that counts as just doing it in the same amount of time both years.  

Medals this year were actually bigger than a quarter.

So that's how the Fit for Ag Half Marathon went this year.  And so concludes my 2014 race year with a total of 28 races (2 ultra marathons, 16 marathons, 8 half marathons, 1 12k, and 1 8k).  Not too shabby.  I also picked up 12 new states in my goal to run a marathon in all the states.  In other blogging news (because you know, I'm a special snowflake and need to make blogging announcements, like anyone really cares) I think that for 2015 I'm going to make this a private blog (and the crowd shrieks in horror - at least that's what I like to imagine is happening).  For anyone that knows me in real life, I'm generally not a very nice person and I cuss like a sailor.  Well, I'd like to do all of that more on my blog, but I don't want it to be public.  So there you go.  If you like what I write and wouldn't mind reading a lot few more swear words, I may consider giving some people access to the blog via a password (or whatever you do when you make your blog private).  Of course this is all just a thought right now.  If a mass protest erupts, I may consider otherwise.

2015 will be an exciting year, but not sure if anything can top 2014!  It's been a crazy year for me in the running world.  Next year I'll be in Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, New Hampshire, and either South Carolina or Nevada.  A possible Washington race may be thrown in there if I end up going to conference out there in June. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

So what's all this running around cost???

I thought it would be interesting (and possibly frightening) to keep track of all my race-related expenses for 2014.  Let's look at what I did in 2014:

**28 races** 

2 ultra marathons 
16 marathons 
8 half marathons 
1 12k 
1 8k

**12 new marathon states** 

AL, NM, CA, NC, IL, KY, WY, CO, NE, ME, IN, and FL

 **3 new half marathon states**

CA, TX, and WV

**9 "completed" states (both marathon and half marathon are done)** 

AL, CA, NC, KY, CO, TX, IN, WV, and FL

So I pretty much got some shit done this year!!!!!!  So what did all this cost...............

Gray shading = N/A (a local race or something like that); if it says "0", it was a cost, but MY cost was "0"!!

**I didn't include food because that's so variable (one person may do the dollar menu and another may want to do fine dining for every meal.**

Stop calling it Gatorade!! - Pensacola Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Florida was probably the last remaining marathon state that I had that was still within driving distance (depending on where in Florida).  The state of Florida doesn't excite me too much, probably because I've been there multiple times and it's not hard for me go back.  The Pensacola Marathon was not my first choice for Florida, but it was convenient and it fit my schedule.  So after recruiting my friend HWW4 to go with me, a road trip was born.

The obligatory selfie with the "Welcome to........." sign

This race started pretty early - 6:30AM - so we left our hotel fairly early to be sure we got good parking.  It was a cool morning but nothing like the weekend before in IN and WV (duh - we were in Florida).  It was cool, but still very humid.  HWW4 and I met up with fellow Mississippi Maniac EW.  

Mississippi Maniacs

The number one goal for this race was to get HWW4 his first sub-5 marathon, so we started out with the 5:00 pace group.  We quickly decided that this was a bit too slow for us and gradually caught up with the 4:45 pacer.  We stayed either with or slightly behind him for pretty much all of the rest of the race.    This race is not what I would call scenic at all.  There is a water view or two in the first few miles, but other than that you are in neighborhoods, running along an airport road, etc.

Water in the early miles.

So, in my expert opinion, this was a boring course.  It was also flat (save for a short hill around mile 17), which added to the boring-ness.  The aid stations were plentiful and well stocked with water and some had gels.  I'll have to go ahead and complain here that they kept offering "sports drink" and "Gatorade", but to my knowledge (according to their Facebook page), they were offering no such thing.  I'm fairly sure it was NUUN (again, according to their Facebook page) which is NOT a sports drink.  It's an electrolyte replacement drink with NO CALORIES.  I kept telling the volunteers to stop calling it Gatorade because that was very misleading!!  Ok, rant over!

My right lower back and into my hip had been hurting almost the entire race, but not enough for me to stop running.  Around mile 18, HWW4 and EW ran off ahead of me and I slowed my pace substantially.  Leg was really starting to hurt, especially into the adductors.  Every time I would stop for some water and then try to run again it would hurt like a son-of-a.  The pain would subside after a few minutes.  I hobbled on that way all the way to the finish, crossing the finish line in like 4:46 - not too terrible.  HWW4 ended up crushing his goal of sub-5 with a 4:42 - a 24 minute PR!!!!!  I was super excited for him!

Done with our Florida marathon!

The medals are actually really nice!!  I love the color combo!!  My hip/leg was hurting something fierce!  It was a struggle to get to the car.  I limped around almost the entire rest of the day and into the night.  Ouchie!  Seems to be all better now though.  

So here are the cost deets:
  • Race registration = $0 (this was a birthday gift from my hubby)
  • We stayed at the MainStay Suites in Pensacola (a few miles up the road from the start/finish) and that was $125.  There is plenty of parking at the start so any hotel in the area would be fine.  I ended up paying for the hotel and HWW4 drove and paid for gas.  That worked out nicely.
  • So a total bill of $125 (not including food).  Not bad.
This was my last marathon of the year.  I have a few local races planned to keep me busy until next year.  For 2015, I won't be running quite as many races as I did this year.  I plan to hit up AZ, KS, UT, ID, OR, NH, and NV as new states and then fill in my schedule with all the local marathons. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stationary bike redemption - Marshall University Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

I don't particularly like to do the same race for my half marathon and marathon in each state.  If I revisit a state, I like to see a new part of it!  But for West Virginia it just made sense to do the Marshall University Half Marathon even though I did the marathon back in 2012.  My friends that I went to Indy with were all doing the Marshall University Marathon, but I didn't want to repeat a marathon, so I signed up for the half.  The drive to Huntington from Indy was loooooong.  And I had somehow chaffed my butt all up during the IMM so sitting for almost 5 hours was a bit uncomfortable!  Since I'm an expert of this race, I directed everyone to the start area on race morning.  It was still cold, but not as windy as the day before.  The race started on time and we were running through the streets of Huntington.  

A much fancier start line this year.

If you are interested in this race, you should read my recap of the 2012 Marshall University Marathon.  I think I took more pics then.  This race pretty much starts at the football stadium and then the first 3 miles wind through some neighborhoods.  Around mile 3, the course passes by the stadium again and then runs through campus on a main street.

We then continued to run towards the waterfront and then along an uninteresting industrial part of town.  

Ohio River
A quick selfie!

The next few miles are through a park and are probably my favorite of the course.  I felt like the course was much prettier this time.  The leaves will still on the trees and not on the ground like in 2012.  

I don't remember it being quite so colorful a few years ago.

After the park, we made our way back to the riverfront and then onto the start/finish.  This is a double loop course, so half marathoners (ME!!!) were done while marathoners go on to do the loop again.  Sadly, the half marathoners don't get to run through campus at the end of their loop.  

Another pass along with the river front (marathoners will pass this same stretch of river 4 times).

This year I was on the lookout for that damn football to carry over the finish line (I somehow missed it back in 2012).  As for how my race went, this wasn't my finest performance.  I walked A LOT and just generally didn't care.  I barely came in under 2:30 and collected my quarter-sized medal (seriously small). 

GK cut off the medal, but don't worry, you're not missing much!

My favorite thing about slummin' it with the half marathoners is that I have time to get a shower after the race!!!!  GK took me back to the hotel to shower and then we came back to the stadium to pick up our overachieving marathon friends.  We then had to show GK the course and, in particular, my absolute favorite part - the stationary bike in the park!!!  One of the greatest regrets of my life (yes, I have a sad life, or maybe a great life since these are the types of things I regret) is not getting on that bike during the marathon in 2012.  I also didn't get on it during the half because there was no around that looked like they wanted to take my picture (they all looked like they were being serious about the race).  So I had to get on that bike no matter what!

Do people really use this???  The pedals had absolutely ZERO resistance!

We also took GK by the fountain on the MU campus and the fountain in the park.  

Group selfie!
Love all the people I have met through running!

Cost breakdown for the race (and the weekend):
  • Race registration was $87 - I registered pretty late for this so I suspect earlier registration is much cheaper.
  • We stayed at the Super 8 Huntington.  I had a room share so my part of the room was $40.  This is a fine hotel to stay at since there is plenty of parking at the start/finish of the race.  
  • I already discussed flight/car prices on my IMM recap post (flight = $0; car/gas = $50 for the entire weekend).
  • After the race, we made our way back to Indy (we were all flying out of Indy Monday morning).  So Sunday night we stayed at the Fairfield Inn Indianapolis South.  I also had a room share for this and my part was $33.  
  • So for the entire weekend (2 races, flight, car/gas, and 3 nights in hotels) I spent about $500 (would have been much less if I hadn't gotten my own hotel room Friday night before IMM).  
So with the MU Half Marathon done, that brings my half marathon total to 35 and I'm not sure how many states for halfs (maybe 21 or 22??? Too lazy to go and count).