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Sunday, January 26, 2014

#70- The Louisiana Marathon, The 2014 Marathon Maniacs Reunion and 5 Spinning Stars!

Just coming off my first back to back marathon weekend, I was back on a plane Friday heading for Baton Rouge, Louisiana for not only the Louisiana Marathon, but for the 2014 Marathon Maniacs reunion!

I had organized the 2012 reunion at the Utah Valley Marathon and felt honored to be asked to take on the 2014 reunion. If you know me, you know I live for this stuff!

I flew into Baton Rouge on Friday and went straight to the Expo to start checking in all the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics attending. One of the perks of coming to the reunion is getting the reunion swag. This year we all got a fun Marathon Maniac (or Half Fanatic) beanie.

2014 Reunion Swag!
It is always fun seeing Abbi! We had a nice dinner Friday night after the expo.
After dinner Friday, I went back to my hotel, and put some ice on my calf. I had hurt it on the way home from my double marathon the week before when I put some compression sleeves for my plane ride home. They hurt me so bad I had to pull them off mid flight and my leg hurt all week. Running the marathon at this point was up in the air.
After icing my leg, I got a good night's sleep and was up bright and early to work at the expo on Saturday. 
Ray (the expo guy), Abbi, Steven (the Prez) and I at the expo!
I spent a few hours at the expo, then headed over to the Hilton to place our reserved table tents on our tables at the "Pastalaya" dinner. Then I went back to the expo to finish up before the reunion meeting at 4:00pm.
I had such a great time meeting so many Maniacs and Fanatics that I had never met or only know from Facebook. Right before the meeting, we had such a long line of Maniacs waiting to check in, we had to move the line into the meeting room in order for us to start somewhat on time.
Once the meeting got started, I ran out to find the VIP finish festival wristbands that were not in some of the packets. Once i got them I ran back to the meeting.
The MM/HF reunion meeting.
During the meeting, Steven, Tony and Chris talk about club business, give out some fun door prizes and present the awards.
When it was time to present the "Ambassador of the Year" award (according to Steven Yee, the highest award given by the club), I was wondering who would win this year. Last year Betsy Rogers won. She is not only a great runner, she also volunteers at races and she and her husband Matt are race directors too.
I was utterly shocked and honored when Steven Yee announced that I had won the award this year! I can't tell you how happy that made me. I for one nominated some really worthy members, so this just blew my mind! From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Steven, Tony, Chris and any of you reading this that may have nominated me. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! 

Me receiving The Ambassador of the Year Award!
I am so honored to win this year!

Tony, Steven, Chris and I
After the meeting, we walked over to the Hilton for "Pastalaya" Dinner. It was really good! Sweet potato soup, veggie pasta, pastlaya (with sausage and chicken), salad, rolls, cookies, the works! I was so busy during the day, that I realized, I had not had anything to eat or drink since 8:00am, so I was starving!
It was also great to see the legendary Bill Rodgers and the inspiring Matt Long speak. It was a great night!
After touching base on a few things with Danny (one of the RD's), I went back to my room, iced my leg once more and went to sleep hoping my leg would be OK to run on.
The next morning I got up, got dressed and headed out to the front of the State Capitol Building where we would be taking out group photo at 6:30am.

Maniacs in front of the State Capitol.
At the start, we had our own VIP gear check and our own bank of port-a-potties which had little no lines. The port-a-potties even had a guard which made you feel like you made it past the velvet rope at Studio 54! Hee Hee!

The Start!
The race started at 7:00am and until I started, I had no idea if my leg would hold up or if I would be walking the whole 26.2 miles, so I started out slow. My leg was feeling tight the first few miles, but loosened up as I ran. Afraid to push it too hard, I went easy and was able to keep moving!

Heading of nice and easy!

Always great to see Martha!

I loved this gong! I had to bang on it!

Got to share a few miles with Kathy who was running her 100th Marathon!

Maniacs know ho to have fun!

The community support was amazing!

Half way there and feeling good!

The cutest volunteers on the course!

The signs were so good!

Only in Louisiana!

Got a selfie with Missy!

Whoa! It's the Prez!

Got to see cute Carol again!

Douglas taking a photo of me taking a photo of him! 

I made it to mile 23 and Batman was there!!
As usual the last 3 miles felt like the took forever and went by fast at the same time. When I crossed the finish line I was so happy!! I had just completed the hardest thing I have ever attempted. 3 marathons, 3 states in 8 days! I CAN'T BELIEVE I DID IT!! I also realized that I had finally gained my 5th Maniac star (which I thought I would never get)!

3 Marathons, 3 States, 8 days = 5 Stars Baby!
After I finshed, I headed over to our VIP tent where we picked up our reunion medal and the food and drink were abundant! Sullivan's Steak House catered the VIP tent and the food was awesome!

Tony, Steven and I in the VIP area!
The finish festival had some great bands and a lot of fun was had by all!
After the race I went back to the hotel with Denis and Patty who borrowed my shower then headed out to a place called "Walk-Ons" to watch the Seattle/49er's playoff game. It was fun to watch the game with some Seattle folks. The taunting between them and the SF fans in the restaurant was fun to watch. People were pretty happy when Seattle won (except Ray who was rooting for SF)!

The gang after Seattle's big win!
After the game, I headed back to the hotel and had a great night's sleep! Before leaving for home the next day.
As much work as these reunions are to plan, I just love it and I think this year's went off without a hitch, except that we ran out of reunion medals. We had about 100 more people come to the race that we were not aware of and did were not in our original count. The RD was very nice to get us more ordered so those that did not receive one will. So over all, I would say that this reunion was AWESOME!
I can't wait to get started on next year!

Not a bad haul for the weekend!
I got Louisiana!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#68 and #69- My First Back to Back Marathons at The Mississippi Blues and The Servis 1St Bank First Light Marathons!

If you follow my blog you know that I have never had any desire to do a back to back (or a double as some call them). After one marathon the mere thought of getting up super early on the weekend two days in a row just has absolutely ZERO appeal to me. Then there is the running another 26.2 miles the next day. NO THANKS!
Then I got a message from a Facebook friend alerting me to the fact that The Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, Mississippi was offering free entry to a runner from Utah to round out their representation of all 50 States. I contacted the race director and let's just say he hooked me up!!
I had this race on my radar as the one I would do for Mississippi, but I didn't think it would happen this year, so I was pretty happy when I found out I would be knocking off Mississippi sooner than expected.
I told my running buddy, friend and neighbor Galen that I was going to Mississippi and he just had to tell me that there was another marathon the next day in Mobile, Alabama. "It's a really great double" he said. "You could knock off two states inexpensively" he said! "Ugh!" I said and I signed up for my first back to back marathon weekend!
Let's start with #68, The Mississippi Blues Marathon!

I flew into Jackson on Friday, January 10th. I had a layover in Atlanta, which of course was delayed 2 hours, but I did get to see my friend Floyd from Washington, D.C. who was also heading to the race.
When we got on the plane, there were a few other Maniacs heading to the race too. I sat across the isle from a nice Maniac named Chris. When we got off the plane, he offered me and another Maniac he had never met a ride to the expo! It was really nice of him!

Ran into some of my favorite Maniacs at the expo!

After leaving the expo, I went to check into my hotel. Another Maniac, Eddie gave me a ride there! Again, so nice!

The Jackson Marriott was the host hotel, and I would like to say here that I have NEVER had better customer service at any hotel I have stayed at. I asked for a late check out, the manager gave me a 3:00pm checkout! You read that right folks 3:00pm!!! Anything I asked for, the staff went out of their way to accommodate. I highly recommend staying there if you are doing the race next year!

I got up to my room and opened my expo bag to find a lot of goodies!

The swag consisted of a nice shopping bag, a half zip fleece jacket, a harmonica, and a CD of local blues bands!
Just when I got my stuff unpacked I headed downstairs to see where I could get dinner. That's when I got a message from my pal Scott from Illinois! He and his friend Scott wanted to check out a place called "Shuckers" for dinner and asked if I would like to join them. I was totally up for the adventure as this place was about 20 miles out of town!
We had some OK food and some great laughs, then headed back into town to get ready for race day!

Scott and I had so many ones between us, we looked like we were ready to hit a strip club! Hee Hee!

After a good night's sleep I was up and ready to conquer the first race in my back to back!
I woke up feeling pretty good. I got down to the start of the race, met up with some Maniacs and before I knew it we off and running!
Maniacs at the start of the Mississippi Blues Marathon!

Local musician, Patrick Harkins played the National Anthem in true Mississippi blues fashion!

And we are off!

4 time world record holder, Larry Macon out on the course!

There were lots of drum corps on the course...

...and some good bands too!
I met Tim Troxel at the SoJo Marathon here in Utah about 1 1/2 years ago. I was really sick and was only planning to try and get 10 miles of the marathon in as my sickness had already robbed me of the previous week's long run. Tim and my other friend Tim Gill ran with me and convinced me that I could do the whole race. With their help, I did!
I was so happy to see Tim again and we ran most of the race together, picking up other fun people along the way!

Our new friend Christine, Sarah, Tim, Me, and Larry!

Need I say more?

Yep, we were SLOW!

The one thing I can say about the Mississippi Blues Marathon is that it is hilly! The last few miles felt tough. Following Galen's advice, I ran the first race as if I was doing an ultra. I walked the big hills and ran the flats and downhills. I think that strategy worked. I didn't run my fastest race, but I was able to finish with something left in the tank for my next race the next day.

Sarah, Tim, Me, and Christine at the finish.

Race #1 complete!
OK! Let's talk about the Mississippi Blues Marathon medal. THIS IS THE COOLEST MEDAL EVER!!!! It is huge! 

I am in love with this medal.
After the race, I went back to the Marriott, took a shower and met another AWESOME Maniac willing to give me a ride. Letty and her family picked me up and gave me a ride to Mobile, Alabama where we would embark on race #2!!! THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH LETTY!!
Let's move on to #69, The Servis 1St Bank First Light Marathon!
On the way Letty, her family and I stopped for lunch. When we got to the packet pickup of The Servis 1St Bank First Light Marathon, there were lots of people there eating the free pasta dinner.
We headed in and picked up our packets. One great thing about doing the double was getting extra swag!
Not only did we get a marathon shirt, we got a shirt for doing the "Back to Back"!

Everyone that did the "Back to Back" got a plaque made by one of the members of L'Arche (L'Arche is an international federation of communities in which people with an intellectual disability and those who help them can live, work, and share their lives together). My plaque was made by Peggy. When I read that she liked listening to Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, I broke into tears. I thought of my own mother and this plaque suddenly became very special to me. I got to meet Peggy at the finish line and tell her how much I love and will treasure her plaque.
Sophia, Mike and I with a few Southern Belles at the pasta dinner.

After we got our packets we joined a lot of other Maniacs for the free pasta dinner. Since we had eaten before, I was not that hungry and only had a little portion spaghetti, salad and a piece of apple pie. Everything tasted fine.
We then went and checked into our hotel and hit the hay. I was officially exhausted. Then it happened.
At 3:00am my stomach started rumbling. To spare you the gory details, I was in and out of the bathroom for the next 3 1/2 hours. Luckily for me whatever it was that made me sick, passed before I left my room to head out to the start.
When I got to the lobby, Letty asked me if I was sick during the night. When I said yes, she shared that her whole family was really sick too. Then almost everyone we talked to had some problems too. We all think it was the pasta dinner, though the Health Department is still investigating. 
Once outside The weather was cool, but perfect for running! We got everyone together for a group pic when I realized, I had left my camera on and the battery died. So thanks to everyone that let me use your photos!

Maniacs at the start!

Me getting ready to go!
This was the first race in forever that was not chip timed. It was kind of strange when the gun went off. I didn't start my watch right away as I was waiting to cross the timing mats, but there were none!
The race was really pretty and I forgot how much I love that southern hospitality. It was so cute when I would run by and a lady would yell "Good job y'all!" or "Y'all are doin' real good!" in a cute southern accent. It was sweet.

It was so nice to meet up with Cathie Johnson, who was running her 200th marathon with her sweet husband Troy and many friends there to support her!
There were some amazingly beautiful parts of this course. I was bummed not to have my camera!
In the last 8 miles I hooked up with fellow Maniacs Erica, Krissy and Evelyn and we made the last miles fun!

Me Evelyn and Erica having fun!

We all finished strong!

The medal was also made by the sweet L'Arche people. Very special.
There is no doubt there was a little problem with folks getting sick, but this race is top notch and I DID MY FIRST DOUBLE!! I surprised myself as I really wasn't sure I could do it. Next up? The Louisiana Marathon and the Marathon Maniacs 2014 Reunion!