Race Recap: Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City – September 18, 2016

img_2450This past Sunday was the biggest race of the year for me IM AC 70.3. This race has been on the books for a very long time. In fact I just checked my email and I registered on October 27, 2015, so it’s been on the books for nearly a year. When I initially registered I also booked my hotel for the weekend which was Trump Taj Mahal….big mistake! This was before all the Donald Trump nonsense got underway. If I had known then what I know now I would have definitely booked somewhere else. I was looking for a replacement hotel for probably the past 3 months and everything was just so expensive! You would think for a town like Atlantic City the prices would be more reasonable, but nope. All the good hotels there were $350+ a night. So I ended up finding a really good deal at the Comfort Inn in Absecon, NJ. The hotel turned out to be pretty nice. Nice big rooms, friendly staff, and it was only about a 10-15 minute drive from the race site.

Pre-Race Athlete Check-in
We left New York at probably around 11am, and traffic was a bitch! We needed to get to AC by 2:00pm to make the last athlete briefing. The athlete village and transition area was at Bader Field. From what I’ve heard this is an old airport. It is a huge space with lots of room, so this was the perfect place to have the transition area. When we reached AC the briefing was already underway so we didn’t bother to stick around listening to it. There was this cool sand sculpture entering athlete village. Great place for a photo opp.

Me and Allison

Me and Allison

Athlete checking was quite different from Eagleman 70.3 last year. There was absolutely no security. I was waiting for someone, anyone to ask me for a form of ID, or my USAT card, but that never happened. The check-in process was completely lax which is very strange for such a large event. The bar was set very low for dishonest people who enjoy cheating at races. I didn’t take any pictures of this area. I think due to my total disappointment of it all, or maybe because I went through this whole process last year. My excitement level was just not that high.

The store to purchase gear was completely wiped out. I don’t know if they underestimated the number of people that would be purchasing gear, or if people just really went crazy because there was nothing left there that I would want to purchase. So we racked our bikes, and we got out of there.

Swag
At check-in, we were given a large swim bag, and a long sleeved Ironman 70.3 AC Race shirt. Both were very nice. The insulated water bottle was given post race, and the finisher glass was at our bikes in transition.

*not my pic

*not my pic

Race
img_2350Last year we got to the race super early, and I was standing around for over 2hrs. I was not making that mistake this year. I woke up at 5:00am with a planned time to leave at 6:00am, to reach Bader Field by 6:15….that did not happen! Getting to the race was a complete shit show! First siri took us in the wrong direction. Then we get on the AC Expressway and the exit we need to get off is closed for the race! (guess I should have read the athlete guide!) Then when we finally get off the highway and turn onto the main AC strip it is a darn parking lot. I sat in traffic for maybe 5 minutes before I said F it and went around everyone. I know people were pissed but I didn’t care. You grow up in New York, you learn to drive like a New Yorker! So bogart the line I did. We managed to bypass all the traffic and make it to Bader Field with like 15 minutes to set up transition. I’m sure lots of people got there much later because traffic was just not moving. It took me maybe 10 minutes to set up. Thank goodness Lisa Laws was there because I deflated my tires the night before and they needed to be pumped. She took care of that for me…thank you Lisa!

The Swim
img_2359I was a ball of nerves from the moment I woke up. I think it all just hit me at once. I was fine up until that point, but race morning had me a little shook. I walked down to the swim start with my teammates. We are all different ages, so we start at different times. Of course I’m always last to begin my swim. When I took this pic I was just trying to calm myself down because I didn’t want to mess up my favorite part of the race. The most important part is to get through the swim within the allotted time of 1:10minutes. Yes I knew I could do it, but you just never know what is going to happen when you get into the water. We had a small swim out to the start line. I breast stroked out. For some reason I just did not want to put my face in the water. This is TMI but here goes: I had to pee when I was setting up my transition area, but I refused to use the port-a-potty, so I knew I would be peeing in my wet suit! Now people pee in their wet suits all the time, and I always hear it warms you up and it is great. I’ve never done it because I always thought it was gross, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, so I peed! I’m so glad I did because that released some of my nerves, and yes it was very nice and warm.

Yep this lady blocked all my pics...I look mad!

Yep this lady blocked all my pics…I look mad!

I wasn’t completely comfortable until about 10 minutes into the swim. I think I was good when I kicked that first person who tried to swim over me. A good kick to a rude swimmer will easily make them go around you instead of over you! I thought my swim went well. When I got out of the water I looked at my watch and saw 36:04 mins and I thought what the heck! I asked someone next to me what there time was and she said 37 mins. SwimExit2I told her something is not right here. Low and behold the swim course was cut short. Apparently there was an announcement about this, but I surely didn’t hear it, and I was standing by the start from the beginning.

The purple line is the route I swam. The red arrow is where the original swim route turned around.

The purple line is the route I swam. The red arrow is where the original swim route turned around.

As I am running out of the swim area, I unzip my wetsuit and pull it off my shoulders. As I’m running this guy yells “get on the ground” I think ok. He quickly rips my wetsuit off of me, and off I go. That was the fastest wetsuit stripping I’ve ever done! The blue wet looking thing in my hand is my wetsuit.

Running to transition

Running to transition

Official Swim Time: 36:35

T1: Swim-to-bike time: 04:23
Transition 1 was pretty uneventful. I threw my wetsuit down, put on my socks, put my bike shoes on, and then my wet hair kept dripping onto my face. I didn’t have a towel, but I saw one right next to my area. I picked that sucker up, and wiped off my face! (Sorry Amu!) I had some spray sun block. I sprayed it all over and when I got to my neck it burned like hell! I knew I had wetsuit rash and was mad that I didn’t lube my neck before putting my wetsuit on.

This is what happens when your wetsuit rubs against your neck while swimming...ouch!

This is what happens when your wetsuit rubs against your neck while swimming…ouch!

I threw my helmet on, and I was off!

The beginning of the bike at the mount line.

The beginning of the bike at the mount line.

The Bike
Bike StartI’ve been biking pretty well the last few weeks leading up to the race. I definitely think my new Flo Wheels have helped out tremendously. One I started the bike I was feeling great. I was holding a 19mph pace for miles at a time. Of course there were portions of a slower pace here and there, but for me I was flying! I even passed some people which was awesome, because at Eagleman every darn person and their mama passed me. It felt good to not be totally last. The first 29 miles of the bike was great. It lived up to its advertisement of flat and fast. I averaged over 17mph for this stretch. Now the back half of the bike was a totally different story. That flat and fast turned out to be a real bait and switch. There were a lot of inclines that just plateaued, so there was no down hill recovery. As you can see the first half did have inclines, but there were downhills to follow. The back half was just up, up, and away!

My bike elevation chart

My bike elevation chart

Getting passed by a speed demon!

Getting passed by a speed demon!

My speed slowed down drastically. I was probably in the 15mph range for most of the last 27 miles. Also, the men that started after me caught me on this stretch. It is to be expected because they are going 22+mph. Most of them had disc wheels on their bike, so I could hear them coming before they reached me. It almost sounded like a small car was approaching. It really got depressing when the 50+ women started passing me. I was pedaling as fast as I could but was getting no where! I hate cycling hills. Hate it with a passion! For the next tri season I definitely need to incorporate more hill work into my training.bike4 The bike portion ending by us re-entering the Atlantic City Expressway. This is when the wind kicked in. The other thing I hate when cycling is the wind! It wasn’t too bad, I’ve had worse, but it was enough to slow everyone down.

Coming back to Bader Field was great because the crowd was there again cheering everyone on. All I remember is riding as fast as I could because I knew I needed all the time I could get on the run. I knew before I got off the bike that it would not be pretty.

Why is my mouth always open??!!

Why is my mouth always open??!!

I get off my bike, and walk it into the transition area. I took my time because I knew my legs would feel like bricks. (the brick workouts that I skipped out on a lot in training!) I rack my bike, throw down my helmet, take off my bike shoes, put on my sneakers, grab my water bottle filled with my Infinit formula and I’m out of there!

 

 

 

Official Bike Time: 56 miles, 03:27:01, 16.23 mph

The Run
fullsizerender9Now I have not been running well at all lately. I don’t know if was the long cycling on Saturday, then running on Sunday, but my runs have been the pits. As soon as I started running I knew it was going to be a long rest of the day.  I took a sip of my Infinit and it was boiling hot!  I knew that I would dump it as soon as I got the chance.  Now the beginning of the run was totally awful.  They had us doing laps in the lot.  It must have been 2.5 miles of around and around.  Once I got to the first aid station I emptied my bottle, asked the volunteers to fill it with water, I poured my Infinit powder in (I had it tucked in the back of my tri top), shook it up and took a few gulps.  It was the most refreshing thing I ever tasted!  I think it gave me a little boost, and I continued on with my shuffle.

We ran out of the field, and onto the street, and up to the boardwalk.  Now I knew the race ended on the boardwalk, but I didn’t know 10 friggin miles of it was on the boardwalk.  It was the never ending boardwalk from hell!  Another good reason to read the athlete guide, or even the course description before signing up!  Yes it was flat which is always good, but there was absolutely zero shade in sight.  My tan is epic!

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I did a whole lot more walking than running.  That was fine with me because I knew I made pretty good time on the swim and bike, so I had some time to spare.  Probably half way into the race my toes started killing me.  They were just completely sore.  That made even walking pretty painful.  I did the best that I could, and did a slow jog when possible, and a fast walk the rest of the time.

On the pier exposed to the brutal heat.

On the pier exposed to the brutal heat.

There was one point of the run that we ran out onto this really long pier.  I swear I contemplated jumping off to cool myself down, but thought hey, I may die if I jumped off this pier….I kept it moving!

Since the run was a loop I got to see my teammates over and over again.  It was great, and not so great at the same time because I could see how they were gaining ground on me every-time we saw each other; which meant that I was moving extremely slow.  Once one of my teammates caught up with me I thought OMG I must be moving at a snails pace!  She passed me and I kept doing my own thing.  Worrying about someone else was not going to make me move any faster.  When I got closer to the finish there was a portion that was on the sand!  Part of the sand was covered as you can see here.run3  The black is some kind of mat that was laid on top of the sand.  After that we were trekking through the sand a bit.  This portion was a little treacherous because right after I believe we could see the finish line.  Having to run past the finish line is like taking a knife to the heart.  I could hear and see people finishing, and the excitement of the crowd is of epic proportion.  I got through that section as fast as I could!

The turn around to head back to the finish line was at mile 11.  Once I made the turn around I saw another teammate and thought how the heck did she catch me too!!  I did my best to run a bit more so she did not completely leave me in her dust! (Hey Tinnette) As we approached the finishline I told her to go ahead.  I wanted pics of only me coming through the finish!! LMAO!!

 

img_2355As I’m coming down the chute I see Coach Jax and give her a high five.  It was so nice to see a friendly face at this point in the race.  All I kept telling myself was run through this finish and be strong!  38_m-100736777-digital_highres-1386_071952-3874978It was great!  The crowd was roaring.  I see a camera and throw up my deuces.  The finishline is in my sights…this thing is almost over!

 

Finally I crossed the finish and can breath a sigh of relief.  I knew I did way better than last year just from the way I felt once I crossed.  Last year I was just defeated and depleted of any energy.  Yes I was hurting, but it wasn’t unbearable and I got it done!  Post race everyone received an insulated water bottle.  I would have preferred a finisher hat, but a water bottle it is….ehhhh  There was even a food truck there giving out delicious fries, a tent with yummy pizza, grapes, soda, and something else I can’t remember.

 

 

 

 

Finish like a champ!

Finish like a champ!

 

Official Run Time: 13.1 miles – 03:14:51, 14:52 pace

Overall Race Time: 07:27:48

I have to say, I had a great time at this race.  Although I didn’t like some portions of the course, I don’t think I’ll ever be fully satisfied with a race course.  I just have to deal with the hand I’ve been dealt, and do the best that I can.

Would I recommend this race to others? The answer is yes.  The company that put on this race, Delmo Sports did a great job.  Everything was very organized, there was no point in the race that I felt lost on the course (it happens).  The volunteers were amazing.  Aid stations were plentiful, and the weather was great despite the sunburn!  If you live within driving distance I would definitely recommend giving this race a shot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Until next time!

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Race Recap: Smithpoint Triathlon – August 6, 2016

Not really a full recap, but more of a hey I’m still alive!!

This was my first tri of the season. It was a 500m swim, 9.7 mile bike, & 2.9 mile run. My stats were more along the lines of 768m swim, 9.64 mile bike, & 2.85 mile run. Mostly everyone I chatted with over-swam the swim. I don’t know if the swim was not marked correctly, or if we just all swim badly, but to swim 250m additional was a bit of a mess! I felt pretty good on the bike. It was an out and back course. Going out I averaged 15.8mph…I was really riding miss daisy. On the way back I averaged 18.7mph, but was riding 20mph at least half the time. The bike was nice! The run was your basic run, nothing to write home about. Overall I felt pretty good during this race, and it was nice to get back into the game leading up to Ironman AC 70.3 which is nearly a month away!

Until next time….

Race Recap: NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10K May 14, 2016

IMG_8312On Saturday I ran the UAE HK 10K in Central Park.  When I was lined up in the corrals I turned to my friend and said I hope this isn’t the Scotland Run route; low and behold it was the Scotland Run route!  This route is what I call the reverse run of Central Park.  It is the absolute worse because you are constantly running up and down (mainly up hill).  So it is very easy to poop yourself out, especially early on during the race.  The race starts off with a steady incline, and as I’m running it I think what the heck is this!  We run through the start, and the finish line is about 400 meters after the start line, so we run through the finish line at the beginning of the race.  When I run this route I always wonder why they just don’t start and finish the race at the same point.  Anywho I was off.

I kept a decent pace the first mile 9:50, and the exact thing that I mentioned above could FullSizeRenderhappen did happen…I pooped myself out!  As you can see from the elevation chart the start of the race was basically a steady increase in elevation.  A quick downhill, then a steady climb during mile 2.  The climb was really torturous because I remember once I got to the top I had a bit of a break on a straight away, then a decent, then here comes a whole other climb.  It was just really nonstop.  Once I reached the 5K mark I never thought I would see the end of that hill. I was so happy to get to the top and get a slight breather.

 

Me and Allison pre-race

On top of the constant climbing, it was unusually hot out for May in NYC.  I was sweating almost immediately once the race started; like sweating so badly I was constantly wiping my forehead.  Because I was so hot I made sure to hit every water station for hydration.  One of the stations had gatorade so I grabbed two cups there, chugged them down, and kept it moving.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful.  I ran up on a guy and he was stomping so loudly, I tapped his shoulder and he looked at me and I said pick up your feet, we only have a mile to go!  He looked at me with the “what the heck did you say face?”  He takes out his headphones and I repeat myself and he picks up his feet and takes off.  I caught back up to him about 200 meters later and just cruised by him.  I think he was a bit tired at the point, but he was no longer dragging his feet.  If you see a runner doing this…help em out!  I finished the race in 1:06.  My slowest time for a 10k in a long time, but I’m ok with that.  I’m getting back into the groove of things, and I am bound to improve in the very near future.

Next weeks race…The Brooklyn Half!!

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Is this lavender or lilac? I don’t know which one it was, but they smelled wonderful!

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With JP post race

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Me and Allison on the streets of NYC.

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UAE Healthy Kidney 10k Medal

 

Race Recap: NJ Half Half Marathon May 1, 2016

IMG_7918So this past Sunday I headed down to the Jersey Shore to run the NJ Half Marathon.  The weeks leading up to the race we were having pretty good weather in NY, so I had my cute little shorts and tank top ready to go for the race.  That plan went right out the window because it was cool and rainy out.  I woke up at the crack of dawn race morning.  Well actually before the crack of dawn since it was 3:30am.  The race started at 7:30am so we wanted to give ourselves enough time to get from NY to NJ and get settled in for the race.  Being that it was so early traffic was non existent so we had a nice ride down to the shore.

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The crew in the corrals before the race

The race start was at Monmouth Park Racetrack; like literally inside the park.  We got there pretty much at the start of the race, so I had to hustle to get to the trucks to check my bag before they pulled off.  I should have packed a full change of clothes, but I just had a shirt, and my umbrella inside the bag which I was so happy that I packed it because I really needed it after the race!

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Obligatory pre-race group selfie

This race had a stagger start, and I thought it was pretty slow going.  I mostly race in NY and most of our races have a lot of people.  I didn’t think this race was particularly that large and the stagger start was really not needed.  It just left us more time to play around and take pictures!

 

Dawn's First Marathon!

Dawn’s First Marathon!

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Allison Dancing, yeah we had way too much time on our hands!

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Allison, Deb, Janis

I was feeling pretty good the first 5 miles of the race.  A little too good because although it was raining and cool I was hot.  I unzipped my jacket some which was a mistake because as it started to rain more my shirt underneath my jacket became wet, and I started to get cold.  I almost took my jacket off because I was so hot, but I was happy that I didn’t.  So I kept a pretty good pace up until the 50 minute mark when I stopped to take in nutrition.  At this point I walked a little while I ate and drank.

FullSizeRender(3)As you can see, as the race goes on, my splits increase.  I felt fine endurance wise, but from mile 6 on I was cold, and my feet were soggy so my natural reaction was just to slow down.  I started taking it easy and taking in gatorade at every water stop.  I will say although there were people around me the entire race it was very lonely out there, and quiet.  I don’t think I’ve been at a more quieter race before.  The course was pretty basic. Mostly through residential neighborhoods, so other than the occasional view of mini mansion it was a pretty boring course.  It was virtually flat except for 2 overpasses, so if you are looking to PR or try to BQ this marathon is the perfect place to do it.

My official race time was 02:21:52.  Not the time I wanted, but considering my lack of training I’m pretty happy with it.  Post race there was lots to grab.  They gave out towels, water, gatorade, pretzels, and my favorite salt water taffy.  The one thing they were missing was foil.  It was wet and cold out there, and some people were in shorts and tanks, so something to wrap up in would have been nice.  I looked at the images of last years race and it looked sunny and warm, so I’m sure having foil was not on the race directors radar this year.

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Soaked at the finishline with my crooked hat!

Would I recommend this race? Yes and no.  Yes because it is a flat course and if you are looking to set a record this is the place to do it.  The medal is nice, and there are good post race refreshments.  No because it just wasn’t all that fun for me.  The water stations were not predictable but pretty random.  Who reads the athlete guide right?  I’m so use to having the option of liquids every mile that when it isn’t there it annoys me.  The post race shuttle location was horrible.  It was at least half a mile, maybe more from the finishline.  Then once the bus dropped us off back at the start we had to walk another half a mile back to our car.  For those that just ran a marathon that is a lot of walking, and painful at that.  The Race Directors really need to work on those logistics.

Until next time!

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Race Recap: Publix Georgia Half Marathon March 20, 2016

Hiya…it’s been a while!! I know I always say that! Anywho I’ve been up to lots of fun stuff so I haven’t been chronicling my fitness escapades like I should, but I am back to business now.

A couple weeks ago I headed down to Georgia to do the Publix Half Marathon, and I’ll tell you it was certainly a memorable weekend.  Atlanta is practically a second home to me now since my mother moved there, so I’ve made the two and a half hour flight many times and it is a breeze.

We got in early Friday morning, and as much as I love Atlanta, I hate the Atlanta airport.  All the walking and hoping on a train, then waiting for luggage that always takes forever, it really just poops you out.  Then on top of that we rented as car which was a whole other journey.  I don’t think we got out of the airport until 2hrs after our flight landed.    So after making a few stops we headed to my moms house.  After settling in we went to get a mani/pedi because of course we didn’t have sense enough to get one while in NY.  After all the getting up early I was beyond exhausted.  We got back to the house and I wanted to take a nap, but of course I couldn’t sleep; and we had an event to go to that night!  I went to Deb probably around 9 or 10 and told her I didn’t want to go out.  She said but you told X you would be there…I said I surely did and chucked it up and got ready, and I am glad I did because we had a ball.

Deb and I with Michael Martinez, founder of RunFam

So the weekend was called Runners All-Star Weekend.  We went to a white party Friday night hosted by Run Fam.  The party was at 595 North Event Center which is a warehouse type building; it was really nice.  The vibe of the party was very cool, and it was nice to meet so many people that I interact with on Facebook on a daily basis.

 

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Me

Deb

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The whole NYC crew

I took tons more pictures, but we would be here all day if I posted them all.

On Saturday we attended Heather King’s day party, and that was also a blast.  I had the opportunity to chat more and meet lots of new people in a day time setting.  The Meet and Greet Day Party was held at 255 Tapas Lounge in Atlanta.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place.  The food was delicious, and the drinks were nice and strong!

 

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I finally got a chance to meet Mr. BTA himself!

Me and Tony Brown, founder of Black Triathletes Association.

Me and Tony Brown, founder of Black Triathletes Association.

Me, Michael Martinez-Founder of RunFam, & Deb

Me, Michael Martinez-Founder of RunFam, & Deb

On Saturday we headed over to the expo to pick up our race bibs.  The expo was held at the Georgia World Congress Center which is huge.  I’ve been there before for an event and didn’t realize how massive the place was until this day.  I am not exaggerating, from the time we walked in the place, to get to the location were the expo was we walked at least a mile.  I looked down at my watch and saw I had 2000 more steps and couldn’t believe it.  The expo was extremely underwhelming.  I left my Honey Stinger Energy Chews at home so I was on a mission to buy some at the expo.  There was not one vendor there that sold nutrition.  When we first walked in there was a Mizuno (the race apparel sponsor) shop with race gear and very little nutrition.  After walking around the entire expo and finding no vendors with nutrition I was pissed!  I had to walk back to the Mizuno shop and buy sports beans (which taste disgusting) because the only option was energy gels which I just cannot stomach.

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One good thing about the expo was I saw this cute Georgia Marathon hoody, but I didn’t want to pay $65 for it.  After the race they were marked down to $50….score!

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On to race day:  The race started at 7am, so we had to get up at the crack of dawn to get to downtown Atlanta before the streets closed.  The race start and finish were just outside of Olympic Centennial Park.  There were plenty of port-a-potty’s set up so using them was a breeze.  Now bag check was a friggin mess.  The lines were like 100 people long.  I am really spoiled with our NY races because bag check is a breeze.  I really don’t understand why the lines were so long, and why it was taking the volunteers so long to get bags checked.  There needs to be an overhaul of this system for next years race, because it did not work well.

Pre-race it's still dark out!

Pre-race it’s still dark out!

 

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My obligatory pre-race selfie!

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Waiting in the start corrals

So this was the HARDEST half that I have ever done.  Yes I heard the horror stories about the hills beforehand, but I never expected to get what I did.  This was my first time running rolling hills.  In NY we have hills here and there, but no rolling hills.  The hills were never ending!  As soon as you went up one and down another, here comes another one!  The first 3 miles of the race I felt OK.  There were hills of course, but I didn’t think it was too bad and thought OK I can do this.

At mile 4 of the race, we ran by Dr. Martin Luther’s King Jr.’s church Ebenezer Baptist Church.  I decided to stop and take a few pictures of this historic site.

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The original church

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Newer larger church across the street

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And my blurry while running pics

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As I was running up the block I was looking for Dr. Kings home.  I was on the left side of the street which was the wrong side.  I thought I saw it but wasn’t sure so I just kept running.  I asked someone after the race where it was and I indeed missed it!  Next time I’m in Atlanta I think I will finally go on the tour of his home.

 

IMG_7382Mile 7 is when I really started to feel the burn of the hills, and I just said F it and starting walking up them.  Since I started taking my running seriously I stopped walking during races.  Well not completely, I still walk the water stations.  If I do stop to get liquids it is usually no more than 30 secs…a minute max but that’s pushing it.  At this point I was so over the up and down that I just walked as fast as I could to get to the top.  Sometimes I tried to run, but I felt like I could walk faster than my attempt at running so I just walked them.  Almost everyone around me was walking as well, or trying uneventfully to run them.  It is very discouraging when you get this far into a half and you have to start walking.  I saw my goal time slipping away from me minute by minute, so my new goal was to just get to the finish line.

The post race swag was great.  They gave at out green throw away jackets as soon as you crossed the finish.  There was full bottles of chocolate milk which I drank right down and took 2 for the road.  Bananas, snack boxes, powerade, and I’m sure plenty things I do not remember.  A con for the race for me besides the hills was the Powerade.  I am use to Gatorade Endurance formula.  This is what I train with, and this is what we get at mostly all NY races.  I’ve drank powerade before, but the regular store bought kind.  Not sure what formula they provided along the course, but it tasted disgusting and had a wretched after taste.  I took it at the first station and skipped all the rest.  This led to minor cramping in my quads in the later miles.

Overall I had a fantastic time this  weekend.  Although this was the most difficult half I have done, I will and am going to do it again.  Next year I think I’ll actually put some training in for it because this year my mile count heading into this race was non existent, and I will bring my own liquids!

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Publix Georgia Half Marathon Medal

Publix Georgia Half Marathon Medal

For anyone thinking of doing the Publix Half don’t let the hills scare you.  We get complacent in our running once we reach certain milestones, so it is nice to challenge yourself every once in a while.

Until next time!

 

Race Recap: New York City Marathon November 1, 2015

785899_1039_0039Its been 2 weeks since the big dance, and I have finally come down from cloud nine and am able to write my thoughts down about this unforgettable momentous day.

Marathon Training
Going into the marathon my emotions were all over the place. About 2 weeks b4 the race I was just so done! I missed my last long run because I just didn’t feel like going out, and missed a couple training runs leading up to the race. I was just sick of all the early morning (waking up at 4am) weekend training runs, the forcing myself to wake up at the crack of dawn to run alone in the dark during the week….I was just done. I have never read anyone’s thoughts on the pre-marathon training, and what a major toll it takes on your life both physically, emotionally, and socially! If you had an active social life prior to thinking about training for a marathon be prepared to tell it bye bye! Don’t get me wrong, you can still live and have a great time; but you just have to make the time to fit it all in. With me having two young children at home I just found balancing everything not as easy as people make it out to be. Marathon Training takes sacrifice and dedication and if you don’t have that stick to 10k’s…lol!

McDonalds Selfie

McDonalds Selfie

Marathon Morning
I woke up at 4am race morning to give myself enough time to shower, get cute, and get out the door to make a 5:30 am bus from Runners Stop. Runner’s Stop is a local running store located in Lynbrook, NY. They chartered a bus to Staten Island, and then picked up all runners not too far from the finish line in NYC. It is a very convenient service that I was glad I signed up for! Yes it was a cheese bus, yes it was uncomfortable, and yes it was the best transportation decision I made that day! When we reached Staten Island, all the charter buses that NYRR transports runners to the start in were letting people off right at marathon village. It was super early, I would say around 7am when we reached that area. So everyone who was let off was waiting around for 3-4 hours for the race to begin. My start time was 11am. It wasn’t cold like last year, maybe in the uppers 40’s at that time, so waiting around for that many hours on your feet, or on the cold ground was probably not ideal. I was glad that I did not choose that transportation option. Our bus brought us to a local McDonalds where we hung out for those few hours.

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Left to right: Kim, Terri, Janet, Jennifer, Ashleigh, Sharon, Michele, Wanda, Deb

Your probably wondering why the heck we were there so early if I didn’t start running until 11am. Well the race starts on the Verrazano Bridge. This bridge is the only way to drive from Brooklyn into Staten Island. The bridge closes at a certain time (not sure what time that is) so if you are not over the bridge by that time, then your only other option is to take the Ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island. When you pick your race transportation option through NYRR there are different ferry time slots that you can choose. The ferry is actually public transportation so yes you pick a time slot, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. A lot of people figured that out and I heard the ferry was an absolute mess. It was super crowded and I read a lot of people missed their start time. I was again glad I didn’t choose that option.

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Marathon Village

I would say about 10:30 the people in Corral 4 (me!) get on the bus to head over to marathon village. The bus dropped us off at the tip of the village so I still had a ways to walk to my start corral. I think I walked about a mile in total to get there so I considered that my warm up! Walking through the village I started getting that scared excited feeling that comes with doing a big race. I had a goal time in mind (which was completely blown) so I got myself into a zone and just kept saying in my head you can do this. I put in the training (well mostly I did) I knew I had gotten faster, so I just knew I could pull it off. I went in with a plan to have a good half marathon split.

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Pre-Start Marathon Village: Ashleigh, Deb, Me

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Final pic before the race began

The race start was quite eventful.  Picture thousands of people crowded into a small but large space (if that makes sense) on the Verazanno Bridge.  By this point I split with all of my friends because we all had different start corrals.  I knew I would be running the race alone, but I didn’t know it would be this lonely!  Luckily everyone around me was alone as well, so we formed a stranger running little family for the time that we were on that bridge waiting to start.  I read that Soprano for the Metropolitan Opera Susanna Phillips sang the national anthem, and also ran the race, but she didn’t sing it for my wave.  A gentleman sang it which I cannot remember his name (sorry) but he ran the race as well.

Here are some pics while I was walking to the start.

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The toll booths were behind these buses.

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obligatory pre-race selfie

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UPS cheering us on after doing baggage check.

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My view of the start line

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NYRR main stage

The Race Begins
FullSizeRender(3)The first half of the race was pretty much went accordingly to plan….well not exactly!! My goal was to keep my pace sub 10 per mile. So anything under 10min miles I would be happy with. Well that went completely out of the window at the start of the race. There were 50,000+ people racing in total and 4 race waves, so 12,500 people starting at a time is huge! Most races don’t even have half that amount of people. So my first mile was incredibly slow and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. So after a few attempts of trying to get around people I eventually just stayed where I was and ran with the crowd.  Once I was able to some what carve out my own space I figured I better make up some time and book it in mile 2, so that’s what I did!  Miles 3-5 I don’t know what the heck happened!  I think I was just really enjoying the race.  There were people everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  They were cheering, dancing, there were bands playing music, it was just really incredible and unlike anIMG_2339ything I’ve ever seen before.  Mile 5 I stopped to take in some nutrition.  I got my stingers out of my pouch, grabbed a cup of gatorade and popped a salt pill.  I walked for about a minute and took my time eating and making sure everything went down safely.  Mile 6-8 I stopped for gatorade and each station and walked through each stop.  I knew my goal of getting to the half way mark by 2:15 was gone, so I figured I may as well take my time.  Around mile 9 I saw some friendly faces on the sidelines, it was Vernell, Kisha, and Ellen of BGR!  A huge smile spread across my face because I surely did not expect to see them on the streets of Brooklyn.  They snapped this pic of me, and as you can see I have a huge smile on my face.  I stopped and gave them all hugs, and I was on my way.  This gave me a little pep in my step and I picked up the pace slightly going into mile 10.  Around mile 10 (I think?) I ran into the QuickSilver Striders Crew.  I stopped gave them all hugs, Susan passed me an orange, which at the time tasted like the best thing on earth because I was starving.  Chrissy gave me some mustard packs (which I didn’t end up using) and I keep booking it.  Just around the corner I saw my tri coach!!! A huge grin spread across my face because she told me she’d be around Atlantic Terminal (which she was just further down.)  I didn’t see her where I imagined her to be, and thought she either left, or never came out; but she was there and I was so happy!  She gave me a bit of a pep talked, ran with me for a few, and I was on my way….thx Coach Jax!   Mile 11 I stopped to take in more nutrition; stingers, gatorade, and salt tabs.  Now I’ve taken salt tabs before, but usually I’ll take only 1 during an entire workout.  During the marathon I was popping one every 55 minutes, I think this was my fatal mistake.  Your probably thinking she only drinks Gatorade??….yep I only drink Gatorade.  I’ve been training with the Gatorade Endurance formula all year so I’m use to it.  I never take water at races because sometimes it is just down right funky tasting.  My body is use to Gatorade Endurance, so that is what I stick to.

Mile marker 13.1

Mile marker 13.1

I got to the halfway mark at 2:24:53.  Definitely not the 2:15 I was looking for, but I was having a great time, so worrying about the time was the last thing on my mind.  The 13.1 mile marker was on the Pulaski Bridge.  I knew from my 20 mile training run that this bridge was a steady incline so I decided to take a breather and walk up this hill.785736_1269_0046  As you can see everyone around me was walking as well.  At this point I’m just thinking 13.1 your halfway there!  Miles 13-14.5 I was feeling ok, but my 15 is when the cramping set in.  Never in my life have I cramped during a run.  I’m attributing it to taking in more salt than I usually do.  Yes I know it’s normally the opposite, but this is the only thing I changed about my normally racing routine.  I know I know the saying never try anything new on race day, but stupid me did!  Once I got on the 59th street bridge it was so bad that I just started walking, and not even a brisk walk, I was walking in slow motion.  The pain was from my quads all the way down to my toes.  At this point I see the 4:45 pacer and my heart drops.  My goal time was 4:40, so I know if I am seeing this pacer I am in trouble.  I’m still walking and 5 minutes later (no I’m not exaggerating) I see the 5:00 pacer and I literally wanted to cry.  I couldn’t believe both pacers caughttext up to me and passed me!  This is the one point in the race that I wanted to quit.  I was just thinking all of this hard work for nothing!  I was pissed and in pain so I whipped out my phone and texted my friend Allison.  As you can see I was probably delirious because I was on the 59th street bridge so this had to be somewhere between mile 15 and 16.  After I text her I put my phone away and kept going.  Once I got to the end of the bridge I started running.  At this point I decided to drink only water until the end of the race.  I wanted to get some of the salt out of my system.  When I got to mile 16 I knew this was the BGR water station, and there was no way I was walking through it.  I mustered up as much strength as I could and ran down the hill from the 59th street bridge and the crowd was roaring.  This gave me the extra boost I needed.  Now I volunteered at mile 16 for the last 2 yrs so I was very familiar with the setup.  When I got to the

thx DawnMarie

thx DawnMarie

point where the water station usually begins I was confused….there was no water…huh! Just when I resigned myself to drink water there was none.  Turns out they moved the station down one block because there was a new citi bike station set up where the mile 16 water station use to begin.  So I keep trekking and I see DawnMarie!  I stop to give her a hug, she asks how I’m doing I tell her I’ve been cramping, and I drink some water.  At this point I’m completely stopped and it feels good!  Dawn snaps my pic.  Then I look across and Dawn L. is over there!!! So you know I had to run across KDthe street and say hey to my girl.  Dawn had her daughter out volunteering with her, as well as some of their Jack & Jill crew….I luv when the kids give back.

About 3 weeks prior I ran these exact last 10 miles of the marathon route as practice.  At that time I didn’t think it was easy, so I knew it would be extremely difficult now.  As soon as I cleared the water station I started cramping again so I started walking as fast as I could which was not very fast at all, but I did the best that I could.  Mile 17-19 I continually flushed my system with water.  I was taking 2 cups at a time at this point.  The run down 2nd Avenue was pretty flat, but I knew when I got to the Willis Avenue bridge it would not be easy.  This bridge was a steady incline.  I ran as much of it as I could but decided to save my legs and walk some more.  Once I got to the end of the bridge I started running again.  I remember coming off of the bridge, rounding the corner, and passing a community center I worked at one summer as a teenager.  There was also a group giving massages on the side of the road, it was really amazing.  The run through the Bronx was so short that if you blinked you missed it.  I was really saddened by that since this is my home Boro, but I K.I.M. (kept it moving!)

Willis Ave Bridge...what am I doing?

Willis Ave Bridge…what are my hands doing?

785753_1339_0033We crossed back over the 138th street bridge and into Harlem, my second home as a teenager….if those streets could talk!  The cramping begin to die down a bit, but I was still feeling it here and there.  Once I got to Marcus Garvey I saw Coach Sid Young (Team for Kids – you can see him and my previous post about the marathon expo.) He put his arm around me and walked with me and gave me a much needed pep talk.  He told me I was almost home, which runners hate to hear, but he was right, I only had 5 miles to go, that was a cake walk right?IMG_2342  Coach Sid sent me on my way and I kept booking.  Here comes mile 22.  By this time my contacts are completely dried out, which has never happened on a run! I am seeing clouds and trying not to blink to keep my vision as clear as possible.  All of a sudden I hear someone calling my name.  This is not uncommon since I have my name on my leg.  Then this person starts waving at me, but I’m thinking I don’t know anyone out here, then I blink and it’s Allison!!! I run over to her and Zaire and give them hugs!  She asks how I’m doing…still cramping but much better.  She gives me a big bag of pretzels and those pretzels looked like a steak to me at that point because I was starving.  We snap a pic and I yell what are you guys doing here!  I was so shocked to see them because I text her like an hour ago and although I didn’t see her reply until later when I got home I was thinking why didn’t she tell me she would be out there!  I literally almost cried because I was so happy to see them.  This was probably the highlight of my race.  I knew my time goal was gone, physically I was having the worse race of my life, but to see a familiar face so late in the race was a real confidence booster….thank you Allison and Zaire!

Mile 22-24 I’m just trucking along and eating my pretzels.  Those were the best damn pretzels ever!  At that point the cramping was gone and I was just trying to make it to the finishline before dark.  I was determined to have my finisher pics with daylight as my backdrop.  Somewhere around mile 23-24(I think) we enter Central Park.  This is the home stretch.  I look at my watch and I am at 5hrs.  I said to myself you better cross before 5:30, so now that was my new goal.  By this point it was all a mental game so I just did my best to move as fast as I could.  I get to mile 25 and couldn’t resist taking a pic.

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Mile 26

It took me a couple tries.  The sun was setting and was directly in my face.  People were all around me walking/running/wogging, you name it, but I got the shot!

IMG_23301.2 miles to go, I was home free.  I buckled down and ran my fastest mile since mile 14.  Mile 26 was 12:38.  My miles 15-25 were all in the 13-14 min range.  I was happy that I had something left in the tank to make it to the end in 5:27:50.  Yes it wasn’t the time I had in mind by far, but I had the time of my life.  The NYC Marathon is the biggest marathon in the world for a reason, and I am so happy it was my first.  Finishing this marathon is right next to finishing my 70.3, and it is a day that I will never forget.  So much so that even though I said I would not be doing it next year……I AM!!! Yes I will be running the 2016 NYC Marathon, and yes I am certifiable!  Next year I will hopefully get my redemption.

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I’m a marathoner!

 

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