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Thursday, March 26, 2015

#93- The Publix Georgia Marathon!

Out of all the marathons I have run, I can't believe it has taken me 92 marathons to run the Publix Georgia Marathon. I mean, my twin sister lives in Atlanta, so I have a free place to stay and a ride anywhere I need to go, so this is one race I can do fairly cheap.

I was pretty excited when I found out the Marathon Maniacs Pace Team landed a spot pacing the race, sharing duties with a few of the local pacers. I was wanting to pace the 4:30 group, but when the 4:30 group was taken by the local pacers, I was happy to take the 4:45 spot. I had heard the Atlanta course was super hilly and with just running a tough marathon the weekend before in Kentucky, I was thrilled to take a slower pace.

Wanting to take the minimum amount of PTO from work, I decided to work on Friday and take the red-eye to Atlanta Friday night. My plane left at midnight and I arrived in Atlanta at 5:30am on Saturday morning. 

My sister was good enough to come pick me up from the airport and we headed back to her house where I was able to get a much needed 1 1/2 hour nap and a shower before taking my shift at the pacer booth when the expo opened at 10:00am. 

My twin, Angel and I leaving for the Expo.

I got to the expo just before the door opened and met a few of the local pacers. I picked up my pacer shirt and sign (we were not able to wear our Maniac pacer shirts, we had to wear the Georgia Marathon shirts), got instructions from the Georgia Marathon pacer coordinator and got ready for the doors to open.

Once the doors opened, our booth got very busy, very fast. It is always fun talking to first time marathoners and half marathoners. They always have the excitement and fear of waiting to see how their months of training will pay off on race day. As a pacer, we try to calm the fears and feed the excitement.

We encouraged first timers and seasoned runners alike to run with a pace group to help them achieve their goals, be it a BQ, a PR, or just to finish. I am a pretty good pacer, but even after 93 marathons, I benefit from running with a pace group when trying to reach my own goals.   

Entrance to the Publix Georgia Marathon Expo

Shatora, Me, Sabrina and Brenda working the pacer booth!

Tony (MM #3) and Chris (MM#2) get a selfie at the pacer booth with me (MM #1975)!

Just a few of our Maniac and Fanatic pacers at the Expo!

After the expo, my sister and I walked to the Start/Finish area in Centennial Olympic Park to find the bricks we bought during the building of the park for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. We found them quite fast (area 166). It was neat to see my mom's brick too. She and my sister volunteered at the Games and just had a blast.

My mom's brick sits above the brick belonging to my sister and I. As twins we had to share everything, even a brick! Ha Ha!

After the park we had a nice lunch then headed back to my sister's house. The red-eye flight was catching up to me at this point and I needed a nap.

I woke up in time to head out to the Maniac/Pacer dinner that Joe (one of our pacer's) organized. It was at a really good Italian place called Noni's. They had a wonderful menu that didn't break the bank. I had a delicious Seafood Scampi for $14.

We had a wonderful table out on the patio. The weather was so nice, but we knew at any moment the rain was coming. 

Great shot of our dinner taken by Joe Raymond! You can see how pretty it was.

Selfie/group photo at the Maniac/Pacer dinner! Joe's face in this photo makes me laugh.

I got home from the dinner around 9:00pm and started putting my race gear together when I realized I had not run! I am a streak runner (running at least one mile a day) and with 205 days under my belt (at that time), I had to get my run in! So, I changed my clothes and headed out into the dark at 9:30pm with no headlamp or flashlight for one short mile out and back on Idlewood Road!

I could NOT give up the streak! One mile in the dark and my streak is safe!

I finally got my stuff together and got a little sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30am. 

I woke up and looked outside. It was already pouring rain. I was having deja vu of my last race, where I ran the entire race in the rain. It seemed it would be the same here in Atlanta.

On the train not to happy to get out in that rain! Ha Ha!

My sister drove me to the MARTA and I caught the train to the start. I made it just in time to the Maniac/Fanatic photo then I quickly headed to the port-a-potty before dropping my gear off at the gear check.

Maniacs and Fanatics at the Start

My awesome and fast friend Brian and I at the Start! I hope we are neighbors soon! 

Now, this was a first. The race started at 7:00am and at 6:30am there were NO LINES at the port-a-potties! In fact the one I used, didn't even have the toilet paper opened yet. It was clean and didn't smell. I was the first one to use it. I have never been to a race that 30 minutes before the race, you were not waiting in a long line let alone be the first one in the port-a-potty. It was awesome!
As the rain fell, I must admit, I camped out in that port-a-potty, got myself and my gear bag ready to check. It was warm and dry in there and I didn't want to leave (a phrase you will never hear leave my lips in regards to a pot-a-potty again), but I had to get to my corral. I felt a little guilty about staying in there so long, but was happy when I opened the door and there still wasn't anyone waiting.

I gathered my stuff and headed to gear check, then to my corral. I chatted with the people and tried to calm some nerves. Fellow Maniac and friend Heather Shoemaker showed up and said she wanted to run with our group too. Heather is a good pacer herself and I was glad to have her there. I was supposed to have a co-pacer, but she didn't show up and my Garmin was doing wacky things when it came to the pace window, so I had to do things the old fashion way and rely on nothing but feel and the time. Heather made a great co-pacer for most of the race!

My 4:45 group at the start!

Let's talk about the Georgia Marathon course for a minute. Every person I spoke to said that the course was beautiful, but hilly. Living in Utah, my idea of hilly might be different than someone from Florida. Let it be known, the Georgia Marathon course is freaking hilly! 

Trying to pace on so many rolling hills can be challenging as you are rarely running an even pace. You slow down going up hill and gain a little speed on the downhill. An experienced pacer knows how to balance the two to keep on pace. This is one great thing about the Marathon Maniacs Pace Team. Each pacer must have run at least 10 marathons (to pace the full) or 10 half marathons (to pace the half). There is A LOT of experience there.

The course also lived up to its reputation when it came to scenery. It ran through some beautiful parks and neighborhoods as well as some historical landmarks. My favorite spots included Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth and resting place and Little 5 Points (a place I spent a lot of time at in college).

Martin Luther King Jr. has always been a hero to me. Running past his (along with his wife Coretta's) final resting place was humbling.

We also ran by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where MLK preached.

These "shotgun homes" were so cute! They are still private residences.

We ran past MLK's birth home as well.

Little 5 Points is my old stomping ground! My good friends Eric and Madonna own Criminal Records. I remember when that store was tiny!

I held on to my group for a good part of the race and one by one they fell of the pace or took of and left me and by mile 23, I had picked up some new people to push through. Running the slower pace meant I had a lot of energy in those last miles. 

I came up on a first time marathoner named Lawanda. She was hurting, but looking strong. I ran with her a bit and tried to get her mind off the last couple of miles. She had given up brownies and could not wait to have one waiting for her at the finish as her reward. I loved that!

I finished a little before her but waited at the finish line to see her finish. There is something so sweet about seeing someone finish their first marathon. I still well up for them when I see them cross the finish line. I know how hard they worked to get there and I think of all the joy and friendships I have made though running and am happy to think, if they stick with it, all of what I have enjoyed can be theirs too!  

I finished in 4:44:33. I was pretty excited! Photo by Kate Stoker

Thanks Kate for getting such fun shots! Photo by Kate Stoker

So fun to see some Maniac Divas out there. Kate, Karen and I got a pic together before picking up our medals! Photos first, medals second! Ha Ha! Photo by Kate Stoker 

I am wet, but I got the job done!

My pacing sign, Garmin and medal.

My splits. 4:45 pace= 10:52 minute mile pace. I was pretty much right where I needed to be.

After the race I went back to my sister's house, took a hot shower and a nap and later that afternoon we went to a movie and then to her ex-husband's house for dinner. I was so happy to see my sister's dog Ace still kicking! When I was home for Christmas, I thought that was the last time I would see him (he is almost 19 years old), so I was so happy to snuggle him again.

Ace eats like a king! I am feeding him homemade sardine treats! 

The next morning I slept in. I was pretty tired, but I got up around 10:30 and got a great recovery run in before grabbing some breakfast and heading off to kill some time before heading back to the airport.

Streak day 207 in the books!

I an so glad I got the opportunity to pace at the Georgia Marathon this year. Not only is it a great and well organized race, I got to pace with the best pace team in the country (thanks Sabrina), I got to see my sister and some great friends, I knocked Georgia off my states list, and I got to go to Zesto for a Nut Brown Crown!!!!!!!!

I haven't had a Nut Brown Crown since college! BOOYA!!

The medal detail was great! I love that it has all the neighborhoods on it. The shirt was not the best though.

The Publix Georgia Marathon is a big city marathon with a small town feel. I loved it, hills and all!

State #26 Check!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

25 States Down, 25 To Go!!

That's right folks! This past weekend I ran a marathon in Kentucky, thus completing state #25!! It all downhill from here right?

I am currently looking for sponsors or a sugar daddy to help me complete the remaining states. Thank you! Ha Ha!

25 states down. 25 to go!

Monday, March 16, 2015

#92- The Land Between The Lakes Marathon.

This Land Between the Lakes Marathon in Grand Rivers, KY was not on my radar until a friend and fellow Maniac Matt Heidenreich put out the call on Facebook for folks to come run this race. I saw the post, clicked the link and saw that this was not only a trail marathon, but this race also included a 23k, a 60k and a 50 mile race. 

My last race being a 50 miler, I won't lie and say I didn't think about doing the 50 miler, but with my left knee still a little wonky and with a gig pacing at the Georgia Marathon next weekend, I thought I had better leave well enough alone and just do the marathon.

The race was inexpensive and I found a flight to St. Louis from Salt Lake City (a 3 hour drive from Grand Rivers) for $220 RT on Southwest and a rental car for less than $50, I could not pass it up to get Kentucky off my list.

I have never had a bad experience with Southwest Airlines until Friday morning. My flight left Salt Lake City at 6:00am with a short layover in Phoenix, then on to St. Louis. 

The flight to Phoenix went smoothly and when I got off the plane I looked for my flight on the departure board and headed to the gate. When I got there I noticed the flight to St. Louis had a stop in Omaha. I thought that was strange as I didn't recall my flight stopping in Omaha. I double checked with the gate agent and he confirmed that I was in the right place.

I took a seat at the gate, when we were told some bobo tried to flush a diaper down the airplane toilet, so the flight would be delayed 30 minutes so they could take the toilet apart to get it out. There was also a woman somewhere in my vicinity that must have bathed in the worst perfume ever and it was making my nauseous. Needless to say I was not a happy camper. I just wanted to get on the plane and get a little sleep for the 3 hour drive I had ahead of me.

When they started boarding the plane, I scanned my boarding pass (that was on my phone) and this loud noise went off (kind of like when you get the wrong answer on Family Feud and that big red X comes up). A different gate agent looked at my boarding pass and told me I was on the wrong flight. WHAT?!!!!! I was exactly where the first agent told me I should be!! The second agent told me that my flight was in the gate next door and it had just left! There were 2 flights to St. Louis right next to each other!

I went back to the first agent and showed him my boarding pass again and he looked at it and apologized for telling me the wrong info and told me the best he could do would be to put me on the flight I had been waiting for. It had a stop in Omaha and got to St. Louis 2 hours later than my original flight, but at this point I didn't have a choice and it would still get me to St. Louis in time and get to Grand Rivers before the packet pick up closed.

When we got to Omaha, the 9 of us that were going to St. Louis were supposed to just stay on the plane, as everyone getting off in Omaha left the plane. I was going to get my stuff and score a seat closer to the front when over the intercom I heard this: "Angelina Pace, please gather your belongings and leave the plane. You will need to see the gate agent. This flight is sold out." SOLD OUT??!!

At that point I was so furious, I was afraid they may have to call security from the expletives that I planned to let loose when the gate agent told me there was nothing I could do and if I had a problem, I would have to take it up with the agent in Phoenix! Instead, I busted into tears and plopped into a seat to figure out how I was getting to the race. 

When the gate agent started calling stand-by people on the flight, the NY'er came out and I got the last seat on the plane. One hour later, I was in St. Louis and I had made it to packet pick up with 30 minutes to spare!

Grand Rivers was a really cute little town.

I picked up my packet at the Senior/Community Center and drove across the street to meet a few Maniacs for dinner at Patti's. 

After a stressful day, it was so great to see these great people! I love our club!

After dinner around 9:00pm, I headed back to Patti's Inn and Suites, where I was staying. I unpacked and tried to figure out what to wear for the race. It was pouring rain and the forecast indicated that the rain would continue for the race the next day. Once I got that worked out, I laid down on the bed, turned on the TV and got ready to relax when I looked at the clock and realized it was 9:30pm and I had not run today! My streak was in danger!

I was so tired and the last thing I wanted to do was run, but I jumped up, got some running clothes on and headed down to the fitness center, thinking I could get a mile in on the treadmill. The only problem was their fitness center consisted of a stationary bike and an elliptical machine, and due to some flooding it was closed.

I headed back to my room, grabbed the hat I got at packet pick up and a jacket and ran 10 laps in the pouring rain around the hotel where it was light. 10 laps= 1.24 miles! Streak saved! Now it was time for bed!! 

A streakers gotta do what a streakers gotta do! 1.24 miles in the rain at 9:30pm the night before the marathon.

The alarm went off at 5:30am and I got up, got dressed headed downstairs for breakfast and drove over to the race start/finish about 3 miles away.

I got a good parking spot and headed into the Community Center, used a real bathroom, grabbed a cup of tea, and chatted with a few Maniacs.

Maniacs keeping warm and dry before the start.

Before we knew it, we were all heading for a short walk down to the starting line, which didn't really exist as far as I could tell. One minute we were all gathering and the next minute I heard a gun go off and that was it. There was no timing mat to go over or anything. I quickly started my Garmin and off we went!

Me walking to the start.

I ran into Guinness World Record Holder, Larry Macon and my pal Denis at the start.

The start!

This race was originally supposed to be run on the trails, but due to the huge snowfall and rain they had over the last few weeks, there is no way the trails were in any shape to take on so many runners. The trails would have not only been dangerous, but they would have been left in terrible shape. Instead of cancelling the race, Race Director Steve Durbin and his team worked tirelessly to work out a new course, which still had the beauty and challenge of the trail course. I think they succeeded.

The course consisted of one 13.1 mile loop (which was adjusted for the 50 mile runners). You ran 1-4 loops depending on the distance you signed up for. While most of the course was on road (there was a small section of trail and gravel roads), I really could not think of a more beautiful road to run on and the rain made everything smell so good!

There is a road under all those leaves!

Me on the trail!

Brenda and I working up one of the many hills@

This was the gravel road part of the course.

When they moved this to the road I thought this would be a great race to see where I am fitness wise. I really want that BQ in May, but haven't run more than 10 miles in the month following my 50 miler at Rocky Raccoon. 

I started the first loop feeling a little tired, but loosened up and found a pace I could live with. They may have taken the race off the trail, but they left all the climbs in! There were a lot of nice hills in this sucker! 

I had decided against using my ultra vest, but opted to run with my smaller water belt as there were aid stations 2-3 miles apart. I had also put on a few more layers than I needed, because in my experience, rain = cold and I did NOT want to be cold. Needless to say the layers were shed and around my waist in the first 2 miles and that water belt felt like an anchor pulling me down to the bottom of the sea! I NEEDED to get rid of this stuff for the second loop!

I was disappointed when I hit the half at 2:01 (I was hoping to hit it around 1:55), I figured a sub 4:00 would not happen and this probably would not be a PR day either. I parked right on the course and all I could think about was ditching the layers and my water belt into the car. When I crossed the timing mat and started out for the second loop, I misjudged where I had parked and ended up running right past the car! I thought I was stuck with this stuff for the rest of the race! Luckily, the first/last aid station is a little over a mile from the start/finish, so I dumped the stuff there for my second loop and picked it up for the last mile. Gosh that was freeing!

Rainy and wet, but fun!

Wet, but still moving!

The same hills on the second loop seemed to be even bigger the second time around. This felt so hard! I thought I was doing terrible! Being on the course with the 50 mile runners got me into that "ultra" mindset and I had no problem walking with the 50 mile folks up the big hills and staying a minute or two longer at an aid station than I would at a normal marathon (they have a much better selection of food!). If I was going to suffer. I might as well eat well! Ha Ha!

At the last aid station, I picked up my stuff and headed towards the finish line pretty disappointed in my time of 4:15:16. This was way off my Boston mark. When I crossed the finish line I was given my medal and then I was told I was the 5th overall female and they handed me this really cool eagle trophy! I thought they were joking!

Then I went an looked at the results. The woman's winner was Ashley Dahlman (28 years old). She won the race in 3:43:49. This made me think that it wasn't just me. The course was freaking hard! 

It was so cool to run with Brenda Knight! She kicked butt and earned the 4th place female trophy! Maniacs representing! (This photo was taken before I got a look at myself in the mirror. When I saw myself I literally laughed out loud!)

After the race we went into the Community Center for bowls of hot chili, soup, hot tea and Diet Coke! I thought I had died and gone to heaven! 

This race had some great swag! The shirt is one of my new faves! I like the hat too!

Me and my eagle trophy and marathon medal!

After a shower and a nap, I headed back down to the finish line to watch the rest of the 50 mile runners com in. It was so cool!

I then went to find a bar that I could just sit at for a bite to eat and I found out the Grand Rivers is in a DRY COUNTY (No wonder I didn't see many runners after the race! Ha Ha!). I drove 10 miles out of town and found a bar that served food and got a bite to eat while hearing and having some interesting/funny conversations with a few locals who kept wanting to buy me drinks.

The next morning before heading back to St. Louis, I got up, had breakfast and headed out for a quick recovery run on the back roads behind the hotel. The weather was so nice. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the cows were mooing!

An old barn.


Me on the back roads of Kentucky!

I was hoping these were moonshine stills. It would have made for a better story! Hee Hee!

Kentucky is beautiful!

After my run, I showered, packed and fueled up the car and me for the 3 hours back to St. Louis!

The car took unleaded, I took Mike and Ike and Coke! Ha Ha!

Huge thanks to Steve Durbin and team for making this race happen. I can't imagine how much work had to go into changing the course days before the race! The course was beautiful! 

Huge thanks to Galen Garrison for taking care of Zoe while I was away and huge thanks to Rob Benson for getting up at 4:00am on a workday to take me to the airport and then picking me up from the airport at midnight to drive me home! I have great and generous people in my life!  

Next year, I might just have to come back and run this race on the trails. It is worth a second trip!

Oh yeah! I almost stepped on a dead possum! I can't make this stuff up! Ha Ha!