Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!

Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!
Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner and entering code AMB-bee4a78d!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#90- The Louisiana Marathon!

When I got offered a spot to pace at the Louisiana Marathon this year, I was super excited. We held last year's Marathon Maniac reunion at Louisiana and they throw such a great party, I could not wait to go back!
Coming off the reunion weekend in Jackson and Mobile, I was starting to feel a little under the weather a few days before leaving. It was good that I was not able to fly into Louisiana until Saturday. I was supposed to get into New Orleans at around 2:00pm, but with a flight delay, I didn't get to the hotel until after 5:00pm.
I dropped my bags and looked at my phone to see what the address to the expo was only to notice that the expo closed at 5:00pm! WHAT? How does the expo close at 5:00pm the day before the race? 7:00pm? OK. 9:00pm? Even better, but 5:00pm? 
I started to get a little panicked as I was pacing the 4:30 marathon group and I didn't have my sign or my pacer shirt and I was supposed to pick up a couple of friend's packets too!
When I spoke to another pacer, I was told that I could pick up my packet in the morning at 5:30am. That was a relief. I went upstairs, dropped my bag and then hooked up with a good friend at the bar for dinner.
Race morning, I got up and was not feeling well at all. My voice was gone and my chest felt really congested. I was sick. I sucked it up and drove to the start wondering how in the heck I was going to run 26.2 miles feeling like this, but I had a job to do and had to find the strength.
I found some great parking, so I was able to jump out of the car and run to gear check where they were handing out the last minute packets. Unfortunately, they were only handing out the bibs as they were short shipped on race bags, but they let us know that anyone that did not get their packet, would get it mailed to them. I was OK with that. 
After I got my packet, I ran back to meet some Maniac friends for the group photo and to pick up my pacer sign and shirt. After the photo, I had 20 minutes to run back to the car, change my shirt and pin by bib on and get to my corral before the race started. Since I didn't know they ran out of gear bags, I expected to get one and had nothing to to check a bag so I had no choice to make another car run!
Maniacs at the Start!
Once I got to my corral, there were a few folks relieved to see me. I apologized and told them my saga with a very horse voice.
Within 10 minutes the gun went off and so did we!

Me at the Start!
My pal Georges and I at the Start!
 Terri and I at the start!
The Louisiana course is flat and pretty. A very good course if you want to run a BQ or PR.
I was having a blast pacing. We had some great people in our group. There was a first time marathoner named Clint that was running to celebrate his 45th Birthday. We sung Happy Birthday to him.
We also sang Happy Birthday to a 14 year old that chose to run his first half marathon on his Birthday with his dad! Good parenting encouraging healthy things to do instead of letting him play XBOX all day.

Pacing is FUN!
I was keeping a really good pace staying with in seconds of each mile's goal time. I did have to make potty stop, but was able to make up the pace before I hit the next mile marker.
The weather was perfect, the race was perfect, the volunteers were perfect and the spectators were perfect. Everything was going great!
I picked up a few folks in the last 6 miles that were having trouble. I talked to them, encouraged and tried to take their mind off the running. I was so proud of them when they finished (some running ahead to beat the 4:30 goal)! It was awesome.
I came in at 4:29:28! Perfect! 
The Louisiana Bling along with the special Marathon Maniac Medal!
After the race, the Maniacs had our own area called the Levee Lounge. There they had kegs of a couple different local IPA beers and Bloody Mary's with a strip of bacon sticking out of them.
The food was great too! Lots of local restaurants came out with lots of different Louisiana fare! I had jambalaya, shrimp toast and some gumbo.
It was super fun hooking up with friends and having a blast after the race!
My good friend Gerald and I at the Finish!
Maniacs at the Levee Lounge
My fellow New Yorker, Julia and I doing her signature pose!
Congratulations to Houston Wolf and Dan Semsel for both shattering their PR's! Way to go guys!
My dear friend Houston and I 
Having a little snack! 
A few more Maniacs at the Finish! 
After the race I met a friend for drinks and dinner and just went back to the hotel for some sleep. I was able to run the race with no problem, but now I felt sick with a cough that was relentless!
I really enjoy this race and it will probably be on my list for next year too. I hope I get to pace again! HUGE THANKS to Sabrina for giving me the opportunity!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

#89- The First Light Marathon! (Marathon Maniac Reunion Part 2)

Day two of the Marathon Maniacs reunion took place at the Servis Bank First Light Marathon in Mobile, Alabama.
I got a rather late start out of Jackson and drove the 3 1/2 hours to Mobile, getting to the packet pick up 15 minutes before they closed. I spoke to the Race Director, Marty O'Malley and got the info for our medal table and headed my tired butt to the Hampton Inn to get some rest for the next day!
There were a few people that had not received their bib stickers for their B2B medals, so I set up shop in the Hampton Inn lobby at 6:00am so any last minute folks could get them. The Hampton Inn had a really good breakfast out for the runners, so the lobby was quite busy.
So happy to see a couple of my favorite Maniacs Georges and Johnathan!
After breakfast, Steven Yee, Patti Krebsbach and I headed over to the start just in time for the official group photo.
Maniacs and Half Fanatics at the start!
A couple of Southern Bells and a Yankee at the start!
The First Light Marathon is one of the few marathons that are old school and does not have chip timing, so once the gun went off I started my Garmin and was off!
The run started off great. I had some good rest and the 800mg Ibuprofen I took before bed had my leg feeling very little soreness from the day before. I was not pushing the pace. I just wanted to treat this race like a nice and easy 26.2 mile recovery run. I thought I would walk more on this race, but ended up only walking a few steps of some of the bigger hills. The race just felt surprisingly easy.
The people of Mobile were so nice and with the warmer weather, there were quite a few spectators out.
I finished the race in 4:09:58 and placed 5th in my division. I was pretty happy with that as even with 2 long bathroom breaks, I was only 2 minutes off my previous PR before Mississippi Blues. This is giving me the confidence that my BQ might just happen this spring if I work hard.
I finished feeling great!
 Each medal and plaque is decorated by a member of the L'Arche community. L'Arche Mobile is part of an international federation that people with intellectual disabilities. Our B2B Reunion medals were awesome too!
My Age Group Award! 
After the race I met my friend Brian Wright and we headed back to Jackson, where I met up with a few friends for dinner, then headed back to my hotel for a good night's sleep before heading home the next day.
I really enjoyed planning this reunion and look forward to what is coming next!

Friday, January 16, 2015

#88- The Mississippi Blues Marathon! (Marathon Maniac Reunion Part 1)

I was pretty excited when I got the email from Tony Phillippi of the Marathon Maniacs asking me to organize the 2015 Marathon Maniacs / Half Fanatics reunion! This would be my 3rd year of organizing the annual reunion and I love it!

This year was to be special, as this was the first year the reunion would be a double marathon weekend. Saturday would be the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS and Sunday we would run the Servis 1st Bank First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL

As the organizer of the reunion, I flew into Jackson on Thursday, so I could be ready for our members to check in when the expo opened.

I am ready to help you! 
This was the first race I have ever seen offering CPR training! Way to go Mississippi Blues!
The expo opened at 3:00pm on Thursday, but my plane didn't get in until shortly after that. I got to the expo about 4:00pm and had my table set up next to the MM/HF booth. We had a few people stop by, but by 6:00pm I packed up and headed over to pick up Jeff Bollman and David Holman at their hotels. Local Maniac, Krissy Lizbeth invited us to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Babalu. They had the most wonderful Sangria (which I have not had since I lived in NYC).
 Just a few Maniacs at Babalu!
After dinner I dropped Jeff and David off and went back to my hotel. I stayed at the Jackson Marriott (the host hotel). I stayed there last year and had such wonderful customer service, I booked there again. This year I got the same great service. When I asked the hotel for a 3:00pm late check out, they gave it to me without batting an eye. This kind of service will always keep me coming back!
The next morning, I was back at the expo at 8:30am to start what would be a very long day of checking people in, handing out dinner wristbands and bib stickers for those running the Back2Back.
As the expo got busy, I was so glad to see the "Big 3" (Steven, Tony and Chris) and Patti Krebsbach get there. Patti and Lorinda Hagstrom were such a big help when the lines got long.

Jeff Bollman (the Discount Guy), Patti Krebsbach and I at the expo!  
My favorite NYC Maniac, Julia and I at the expo rocking the pose!
  The "Big 3" and I at the expo.
As a part of the reunion, I planned a MM/HF pasta dinner and club meeting to be held at the Mississippi Museum of Art, at 5:00pm, so we packed up early and headed over there.
The dinner was sold out so it got pretty busy. THANKS to Patti, Jeff, and Houston Wolf for coming to my rescue and helping me at the front door!
The dinner was fantastic and food was delicious! The "Big 3" did some announcements and we played a trivia game (which probably would have been more fun if I had made the questions easier), and gave out a bunch of door prizes!
Huge THANKS to Marika Cackett at the Mississippi Museum of Art for working with us! She was running the double and hopefully will be joining our ranks soon!
We had a fun table! Steven, Patti and Lorinda at the dinner.
Sabrina (MM/HF Pace Team Leader) and Lorinda at the dinner.
It is always a good time when I get to see Houston Wolf!
 Steven, Houston, Chris and I at the dinner.
Lorinda, Houston, Patti, Steve and I after the dinner.
After the dinner I was exhausted and once I found out it was going to be in the 20's at the start, I was really wishing I had only signed up for the half marathon! I got to sleep a little late, but got up with no problem.
I got dressed, went down to the lobby, where they had some fruit, muffins, coffee, sports drink and waster for all the runners. I got a cup of tea and headed out to the start line for the MM/HF photo at 6:30am.
I got there at 6:30am and saw Tony and Chris. As I yelled to gather all the MM's and HF's for the official reunion picture, I was so pissed off when someone told us a girl told them to gather up and take the picture. They said they had already taken it and a bunch of people had left! WHAT? I organized the pic and was standing with two of the founders. How could it be taken before we got there? There is nothing that thrills me more than having my plans hijacked! NOT!
Maniacs at the Start! (Photo by Loan O'Brien)
It was really cold at the start. My plan was I had no plan. I knew I was running a marathon the next day, so I wanted to go somewhat easy. I remember the Mississippi Blues Course to be very hilly, so I did not want to push it.

When it is 23 degrees at the start, I look for the best looking guys I can find to keep me warm! ;-)
Houston was pacing the 1:55 half marathon so I just thought I would stick with him until the split. The plan was not to go out that fast, but I was cold and wanted to warm up quick.
As we took off the pace felt quite easy. I didn't feel like I was going out too fast. I was just running relaxed.
Houston pacing the half marathon. He is an excellent pacer! 
At one point Houston said to me, "I think you are going to get a PR today." I laughed it off and told him that he was crazy. I mean we were only about 3-4 miles into the race.
The half marathoners split at mile 6 and I said goodbye to Houston and the rest of the pace group. I felt relaxed, so I just continued on the pace I was running.
Right before the half, I stopped at the bathroom. There was no line, but I killed a few minutes there trying to get my pants drawstring un-knotted. This would not haunt me until later.
I hit the half a 1:55 and thought "Dang if I would have stayed with Houston, I would be done!" Instead I just battled every stinking hill on that course, and there were a lot!
I kept playing leap frog with my friend Andrea, who I could not get over how strong she looked on every hill. She is speedy, so the fact that I even saw her on the course was a good omen!
When I got to mile 20, I looked at my watch to see where I was. I hit mile 20 in 3:00:25. I recalled what JC Sta Teresa told Jenn Pellegrino when she was trying to break 4:00 at Big Cottonwood. He said "If you get to mile 20 in 3:00, you can break 4:00!"
Now, I didn't think I would break 4:00 as it's the last 6 miles where I generally run out of steam and mentally check out so I put that to the back of my mind and thought more about getting a PR. I felt if I could keep my pace, a 4:02- 4:03 was within reach. I just kept running to feel.
In the last mile, Patti, Lorinda and Steven ran up behind me (I thought they were way out in front of me). Patti yelled, "Excuse me! Look who is out here kicking ass!".
There was a huge hill in front of me so I let them go as I walked up it for a few seconds. In the last half mile I caught the Prez and he told me "You are going to break 4:00!" I could not even fathom that on such a hilly course.
As we came upon the mile 26 mile marker, I looked at my watch. I had about 3-4 minutes left and the sprint was on!
Running as fast as I could, another Maniac and I trying to beat 4:00, came across a wall of half marathon walkers. We yelled for them to move out of the way but they didn't move. I went plowing through them, apologizing as I did so and crossed the finish line. I stopped my Garmin and broke into tears!
Official time: 3:58:59 (3 minutes from my BQ! Dang that bathroom break!)
I could not believe it!! After 88 marathons, I had FINALLY broke 4:00!!
The coolest thing ever was to have Patti and the Prez there. Patti and I have talked about my goals and they were all so happy for me as the pride just ran down my face!

Robert (aka Latino Heat), Patti, Steven, Lorinda, Andrea and I at the finish!
I was so hoping Houston was still there as this was the second race in a row that he has predicted a PR for me and I was dying to tell him! When I finally saw him he was really happy for me. We laughed about him being my good luck charm. I want him to rub my head before by BQ attempt! Seriously! That guy is good luck! Ha Ha!
After the race we went to have a bite to eat at a burger place called Burgers & Blues. They had great food! We saw a few other Maniacs (Jenn and Kinnier from Chicago), then I said goodbye and hit the road to Mobile, AL for marathon #2 and the conclusion of the 2015 MM/HF reunion! Stay tuned!
The race medal is probably the coolest medal I have! 
Race swag included a running vest, a Blues CD, a Harmonica and nice shopping bag!
I would like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to John Noblin, the Race Director of the Mississippi Blues Marathon. He really was a pleasure to work with. Also to all of the volunteers. From the expo to those freezing on the course, everyone was friendly and helpful. They made the race!