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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Complaining

Here it is. The complainy post.
Rock n Roll New Orleans is this week, and it's my last chance for a good marathon this year. I have Publix and Boston coming up, but I don't expect either to be much good for me - mostly because I am so bad at hills.
After the Louisiana Marathon in January, I didn't really have a goal for RnR NOLA, but I wanted to PR. I mean, I always want to PR. It doesn't always work out, but generally, that's the plan. The problem is, I have been sick all winter.
I am usually very healthy, so this long, drawn-out cold - it started Christmas Eve and has been off and on since then - is most unusual. I don't know what the cause is.

Is it because I work in a hospital? When I worked in hospital pharmacy before, I was sick a lot. That could be a problem again. I'm constantly exposed to resistant bacteria.
Is it the temperature changes? This winter has been the worst weather, with many abrupt temp fluctuations and lots of warm, wet days followed by cold.
Did I overtrain? Although I haven't been running very hard, maybe I didn't allow myself enough recovery time after races and sicknesses, and my immune system and body are just tired.

Whatever the reason, I am exhausted. I am sick of being sick, and I'm not in prime marathon shape. I missed quite a few days of running, and I didn't do any "key workouts" like marathon pace runs or speed work (we did some with the Varsity group for Monday night track, but I missed some and didn't put in real effort for others). I can tell by how much effort I feel when running that I'm not going to be great this weekend. Running just feels like too much effort: even easy paces. Tell-tale case in point: I felt like I was struggling at The Wall, and my pace was 7:10. I ran 8 miles farther at a 7:15 pace at the last marathon. That doesn't sound like improvement to me! 

Can I still run this Sunday? Of course. And I'll still give it my best. Maybe I can still PR, but I'm not getting my hopes up. The only bright side is that this isn't a race I poured a lot of training into: it was tacked on 6 weeks after another race. If I'd put in 16 weeks of diligent training I'd be a lot more upset!

If you've ever been sick for a race, how did handle it? What changes did you make to your race plan? I think I'm more concerned about fitness lost while sick than actually running sick.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's your Body Age? Mental Age?

Why is it that I find a comic strip about two old people so apropos of my life?
This could definitely happen in my kitchen.
The sad truth is, hubby and I are getting older. I can tell. Besides our similarity to comic strip old people, we are starting to do things like go to bed early and read the newspaper.
According to a test on WikiHow, which is a reliable font of knowledge since anyone who can wield a keyboard can throw their two cents in, my body age is 20. This is very close to my actual age of 21.
But what about my mental age? I mean, I know I feel old, but do I act old? I decided to create my own mental age test.
Just take your age and add or subtract years based on your answers.

1. I clip coupons:
a. Never, mommy buys all my food for me (-4)
b. ?! You can't clip Groupons, you just print them out (-3)
c. If they are for items I buy (0)
d. Religiously (+2)
e. Every Sunday, and then I tuck them into one of those coupon sorters that are specially designed to slow down supermarket lines (+ one decade)

2. I typically drive ____ mph _____ the speed limit
a. 21, over (-as many years as required to make you 16)
b. 19, over ...duh, if you're going 20 over you can go to jail (-4)
c. 0-5, over (0)
d. 15, under (+8)
e. I don't care what the speed limit is. 35 is my max speed (+12)

3. The last time I ate at a buffet was:
a. Does the school cafeteria count? Then...today at lunch (-5)
b. Does the college cafeteria count? Then...today at lunch (-3)
c. That stupid sushi over-eating fest last year. Mistake. (0)
d. Last Friday over at Picadilly's. Mimi and I always meet there at 4:30 pm for girls' night. (+8)

4. My idea of a night on the town is:
a. Having my parents drive me to the dollar movies (-6)
b. Sorority party!! Complete with high pitched squealing at all hours of the night and sugary drinks in Solo cups!!!! (-4)
c. Booze and live music at a classy bar (0)
d. Wine and cheese in front of Frasier re-runs (+5)
e. Taking the senior transport bus to the casino (+10)

5. Whenever I see kids playing ball in the street, I:
a. Intercept the ball and run for a touch down! (-3)
b. Kind of wish I was playing (-2)
c. Drive around them (0)
d. Tell them to get out of the street, they might get run over, and if they don't I'll tell their mom (+2)
e. Beat them with my cane (+3)

6. My hips:
a. Don't lie (-1)
b. Reflect my love for cheese (0)
c. Are titanium (+1)

7. I take ____vitamins
a. Gummy (-3)
b. Zero - I am indestructible (-1)
c. A multi (0)
d. Seventeen different, including those special fish oil capsules that were buy one, get one free last week at Walgreens (+2)

8. My phone:
a. Is paid for by my daddy (-3)
b. Was the free one that came with the contract (-1)
c. Is touch-screen (0)
d. Plugs into the wall (+5)

So, how's you score? What's your body age? And what's your mental age?

Monday, February 27, 2012

PLEASE HOLD!

I'm talking to you, weather! Please hold for Sunday's RnR New Orleans marathon!
Weather like this in March is kind of rare: humidity only in the 60's and a beautiful, calm, sunny day with a high of 61!
This is ideal running weather, especially considering that we have hit the 80's just last week and that Thursday and Friday are supposed to be hot and stormy. I'm praying the weather holds this week: I already feel sick with this annoying sinus infection; humidity would just compound the misery.
If we have good weather, and if I turn the corner, maybe just maybe...I can go for another PR! Here's to hoping!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Foody Friday: FINALLY a tasty homemade king cake!

I have spent years trying my hand at king cakes, only to be continually disappointed in the results. Usually the cake part is too dry or too bread-like. Finally this year I made one that is really delicious! So here's the recipe, just in time for lent.
Ooops.
Sorry about that. I guess you can make it next year.

Ingredients:
For cake:

2 packages active dry yeast (or 2 Tbs bulk)
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup sour cream

1 cup skim milk

2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5  to 6 cups flour

For filling:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
zest of one lemon or orange
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 or 2 Tbs milk or juice from orange or lemon used for zest

For frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 - 2 teaspoons water, milk, or juice from orange or lemon used for zest
If you like more frosting, double this recipe. 


For decorations:
Colored sugar or sprinkles
For baby:
One plastic baby
I decorated my cakes with mauve, green, and gold - the traditional Mardi Gras colors. Sort of. So sue me, it's hard to make purple using liquid food coloring. 

Directions:
Dissolve yeast, butter, and sugar in hot water. When foamed, add remaining ingredients except flour and mix well. Add flour in increments until dough forms. It should be thick, hard-to-stir dough but a little too moist and sticky to knead. Stir 100 times. Let rise in bowl (covered with damp towel, in a warm place) until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare filling: mix dry ingredients; add melted butter and mix. Should be crumbly. Add milk until it's thick but slightly spreadable.
Divide dough in half and flatten each half into a rectangle. Spread each piece of dough with filling, roll it up, then flatten it a little. Twist a few times and form into an oval, sealing ends.
Allow to rise for 45 minutes, then bake in 375 F oven for 35 minutes.
While still warm, drizzle with glaze and decorate if desired. Hide the baby. The person who gets the baby in their piece has to buy (or make!) the next king cake. Or they just choke to death.

Note: If using colored sugar, it will adhere better and the color will be richer if it becomes slightly damp. The best way to do this is decorate while still warm, then transfer to an airtight container like a cake carrier. The heat will create just enough steam and condensation to do the trick - you can, and should, uncover the cake after just a minute or two. In the pictures above I skipped this step, which is why the colors are a little on the pastel side. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Make your own long run fuel

Fact: I am far too cheap to waste $3 worth of Gu on a long run.
Problem: I get hungry. Also I hit the wall all the time, like a dummy.
Solution: Make-your-own-fuel out of crazy cheap ingredients.

You can use either oatmeal or leftover white rice. I think rice is generally a better choice, because it is lower in fiber, but quick oats (rather than old fashioned) work, too.
If you are using oatmeal, cook some up and let it cool. I usually just add some water and microwave it. Try to make it kind of thick.

As it cools, stir in a little maple syrup or honey and some white sugar - more than usual; you want this super sweet to add calories. Yes, I said add calories, I'm going to diet hell.
I put real maple syrup in because I love syrup and I hate oatmeal and I'm trying to cover the taste.
Then scoop it into tiny snack baggies. I put too much in mine because I didn't want to waste baggies (CHEAP), but it would be better to put about half as much so you can eat it all in one sitting. Once you open the bag it gets pretty messy and it's hard to re-close.

To eat, just open a corner and squeeze - like a gel. Only messier.

If you'd rather use rice, it works better if you mash it up a little, and go easy on liquid sweeteners since rice isn't as absorbant. I use rice when I have some leftovers sitting in the fridge.

In the summer, I forego sugar altogether - I replace the calories by bringing Gatorade - and I use salt in the oats or rice instead. I sweat so much in the New Orleans humidity that the only way I can keep my blood pressure at an adequate level is by upping salt. I like the taste better, too - sweet can be tough to take during a hot run.
What's your go-to fuel for long runs? Races?
I actually brought oatmeal for two marathons, one of which was a fairly fast 3:36 (the other sucked, don't ask), but recently I've switched to just gels.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras! (Late)

This pictures are from David's parade on Sunday. He rides in Thoth. We weren't actually in New Orleans doing Mardi Gras today because, eh, too many tourists.
That's why this is late...I didn't get around to posting until Wednesday!
Pic from here

DAvid's float's theme was Royal Street: the Krewe's theme this year was Streets of New Orleans

Dorky costume

And of course he threw me the good stuff. 

You know what is astonishing? A city as corrupt and disorganized as New Orleans can put on weeks of parades for many thousands of people with relatively no glitches. And if you are unfamiliar with Mardi Gras, this isn't just a few floats and some dance troops. This is 33 parades (just inside New Orleans proper, not even counting Metairie, the Westbank, and surrounding areas) with many floats, half the streets shut down, all the marching bands from all of our high schools, and thousands of "throws" being hurtled into crowds that include babies, teens, families, drunk people, and criminals. The entire series of events is accompanied by a city functioning as an open bar.

I don't know how we do it.





Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to the third generation!

Remember my dear sweet hubby replacing the screen on his old ipod so I could use it? Well, it's finally ready for use!
It turns out that once you open these suckers they don't really like to fit back together. So we did what anyone would do: smeared epoxy in the seams and clothes-pinned the pieces together until the glue set. I'm hoping this has created a water-resistant seal. It definitely isn't pretty.
If you look closely you can see an errant smear of epoxy.
I had to buy a new armband, since the third generation is square and my first generation was rectangular, and I got this Griffin model for under $4, shipping included. It was new in box WITH a pair of ear buds! Yay Ebay! Unfortunately, it's pink. I know I am a girl and therefore obligated by the contract I signed with our culture in utero to adore pink, but the truth is, there are very few shades of pink I like. Hot pink is distinctly not one of them. However, as you might have noticed, I care more about being cheap than looking good, so pink it is!

So...how much did this repair job cost?
1 replacement screen: $27
1 tool to open ipod, which we didn't use: $6 - but we returned this as we were able to use other tools to get the job done.
1 tube of epoxy: $5 - but we already owned this.
1 new armband: $3.65
13 man-hours of labor at my asking price, to pry apart the front and back pieces*: $702

So there you have it. A new ipod costs a $160. This one cost $743.65.

*I think Apple should make our troops' body armor.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I actually wore

For Valentine's Day I skipped the frumpy and wore a black wrap dress. I bought this dress to wear on a date with David...about seven years ago! It's plain, but it does the trick.
Ugh, David cut off my shoes in the picture. So like a man.  FYI they were black peep-toe heels with a slight hidden platform.

This picture is highlighting my large calves. That reminds me that my calves are SORE. Stiff, sore, and heavy! On Monday the running group had a guest coach, Boo Schexnayder (There is this thing Cajuns do where they replace a perfectly normal first name with a nonsense syllable, for example, "Boo") who coaches at LSU. He was sweet, smart, and helpful - but his rather extensive warm-up exercises included lots of skipping movements that apparently use muscles I usually ignore. I woke up sore the next morning! All week I've been feeling muscle fatigue. I'm hoping my legs feel better for Saturday's long run.

Oh, and what else did we do Valentine's Day? Went to Coquette, one of my favorite restaurants, and indulged in the tasting menu. Heavenly! Then I indulged further by ordering off-menu for a specialty cocktail we had there last year - the Gold Rush, a spicy drink featuring JalapeƱo tequila. It was amazing, and worth the $10 price tag the bar tender arbitrarily assigned it (I am aware that $10 is standard for cocktails in some neighborhoods, but in New Orleans it's basically highway robbery).
Hm, it appears that I overcame my horror at eating these beauties and managed to polish one off. 
Then we read mushy cards to each other and traded candy. I got David big bags of cheap candy that I will eat and he got me a box of twelve miniature works of art that are too pretty to bite. This is why I will eat his heart-shaped Reeses.


If you had a choice, would you rather get a few nice, high quality chocolates? Or a 5-lb bag of your favorite candy bar minis? 
I have to be honest here. I think I'd go for a giant bag of Kit-Kats or Reeses!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Awkward moment

At the finish of the last race I ran, a guy asked one of the runners, "Were you the first masters finisher?"

She's 35.

Ouch.

I'm so glad I didn't say that. The only worse gaff would be to ask if someone was the first clydesdale finisher.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ELEVEN THINGS....

SUAR tagged me for this, and she threatened me with some vile bodily function if I didn't do it, so I'm capitulating.

Here are the rules:
Forget the rules.
Yeah, I'm breaking the rules. This meme is so over. Not tagging anyone. 

Random Things About Me:

1. I have short thumbs. It's actually brachydactyly d, a congenital birth defect. No piano playing for me.
2. I've never been to a hair salon. I cut and layer my hair myself and don't color it...yet. Watch out, grays!
3. I am not scared of anything. I just don't have fear. It's weird.
4. I delivered one of my brothers. As in, caught the baby. Note to expectant moms: don't wait until your contractions are 1 min, 11 seconds apart to call the midwife.
5. I am not even remotely interested in interior decorating. I just have no skill in this area at all.
6. I met my husband online. On Friendster!
Look, weird wedding ring and short thumb all on the same hand! 
7. I wear my wedding ring on the distal joint of my ring finger (ie, farthest from my hand).
8. I have never seen my husband sleep: I ALWAYS fall asleep first. For all I know, he could snore.
9. I carry a Sharpie in my purse with which to aggressively correct public grammatical errors.
10. I can't swim.
11. When I was four, I would not eat unless I had first washed my food in running water: and I mean everything I ate: sandwiches, string cheese, salad, scrambled eggs, you name it.

SUAR's questions for me:

1. In five words or less, tell me your most embarrassing moment:
Text, alcohol, multiple, "Jeff"'s
2. What’s one habit you need to break?
I wake up early to run. Instead, I have a cup off coffee and read the paper. Then I'm late. Dumb.
3. What’s your favorite book of all time?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes (I know, choosing an anthology isn't fair...)
4. Have you ever cheated on a test or a partner (don’t need to tell me which one)?
NEVER, this goes so against my personality. I am a firm believer in total honestly and working for what you get!
5. If you weren’t doing your current job, what would be your profession?
A portrait artist. I'd make you prettier if you paid me extra.
6. Do you think Bob Harper is gay?
Who the heck is Bob Harper?
7. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
You're the man.
8. Would you be able to run further or faster?
I'd rather run faster. And I'm not interested in running further. Ultramarathons don't tempt me, they just fill me with distaste.
9. What food gives you gas? Nothing. I grew up vegetarian and my stomach can withstand all manner of soy, cabbage, beans, and bizarre vegetables.
10. Ever done a cleanse or had a colonic?
No, but I once went to this website for "Dr. Natura" and was revolted/fascinated beyond belief. I heard they took the fecal images down, but if you Google it they'll return to haunt your mealtimes.
11. What’s your dream marathon?
One that is missing miles 15 - 19.


I would like you to go back and read my random #4. Please choose your response:
A. That is so distressing, but you show no signs of such a shock occurring in your formative years. Cheers to you for overcoming and developing so normally.
B. What a beautiful story. It makes me want to put on my broomstick skirt, grab a soy milk, and head down to the co-op to sing songs about nature with a guy who needs to bathe and plays guitar.
C. Well, that explains half of your neuroses.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine question from Fatsy McBloaterson

It is Valentine's Day.
We have dinner plans.
Thanks to my annoying bodily clock, I am in a revolting state of bloated grossness.
I need clothes that both hide this belly I've suddenly grown and, preferably, feel like pajamas.

So my question is - is this too frumpy for Valentine's Day? See it on here.
My other options are jeans and a sweatshirt or staying at home crying while my husband gets take-out Chinese and wonders what he did wrong.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Run like the wind! Or at least into the wind.

Saturday was The Wall 30k, traditionally held three weeks before the Mardi Gras Marathon (now the RnR New Orleans marathon).
This was also my virtual run for Sherry - although sadly, her bib barely made it, after being battered with wind for 18 miles. 
As I TMI shared, there was a complicating factor to this race...major GI distress. I don't know what's up with my stomach, but I am still feeling bleah! So rather than choose one of my three options, I decided to run by effort and tummy.
View of the river from the course
I jogged to the start - the race moved from ugly and awful Destrehan to the Audubon fly, slightly over 1.5 miles from my house - and ran into my friends Celeste and Jill, both fast girls. Celeste and I have run together before, but she's generally a lot faster for me.
Even on the jog over, I was noticing the heavy winds. Once the race started, I realized just how tough this run would be. The course is an out-and-back on the top of the levee. The levee is the windiest place in the city: it's elevated and it's on the water. In Saturday's gusts, it was unbelievable! We had a headwind at first, and I was glad - it meant a tail wind on the return.
There was a 10k and a 30k option for the race, and once the 10k turned around, the race thinned. I realized I wasn't close enough to any pack of runners to draft. I made a move around mile 5 or 6 to try to join two guys ahead of me and share drafting duty. Unfortunately, right about then they spread out and I never could catch either one (except I did on the back half, when it didn't matter anymore). So I ended up by myself in crazy wind. I can't describe the misery, but my splits tell the story: they vary from 6:56 to 7:36! A spectator told me I was lead female at mile 7ish. I pushed into the wind, because I didn't know who was behind me. I was trying to tire the competition out early and take it easy in the tail wind on the way back. My thinking was that if I built up enough of a lead early on, it would be too difficult for anyone to overcome that later.
Near the turn around I verified I was lead female, and I also saw a quite large group a minute or two behind me: Celeste was leading. I made a mental note not to let them creep up later on!
Miles 7.5-9.3 were a terribly windy section that really made it hard to even stay upright, so I knew I'd get a big break after I turned around and got a tail wind. Sure enough, parts of the return leg were a lot easier. However, there was a section at miles 13-14 that became very gusty and turned into a headwind again. That was the toughest section to me, although my splits weren't terrible.  I felt ok (thank God my tummy was relatively calm, so glad I had that Imodium in the medicine cabinet), but I will say that fighting the wind is exhausting. You pour in so much energy that you're just plain tired. It was hard to recover from that, but my strategy worked: no one gained on me after the turn around.
At mile 16, I did pass one runner, one of the guys I'd tried to join earlier on. By now I was back in a very familiar area: this section of the levee is a section I run as part of my regular ten-mile loop. I felt like I was "home" and sped up. My speed was also helped because for the last mile, the path dips off the levee to street level, and is shielded by office buildings (actually, where my husband works!). It was a blessed break from the wind off the river. I knew I'd run a negative split - there was no other option thanks to the wind - and my last two miles were 6:59 and 6:56. In no time, I was in sight of the finish, and finally that run was over! My time was 2:13:30 gun.
Yay! Finish line!

Thoughts from The Wall:
- I saw many people in the back of the pack struggling. I kept thinking, that was me two years ago! I wanted to stop and tell them, keep at it! Running gets easier, I promise!
- Wearing head phones when it's windy is pointless. You can't hear a thing.
- I did two gels for that distance and it worked well. This was also my first time trying Hammer gel; I liked that it was less sweet and I handled it well given my upset stomach. Plus, Hammers are really cheap!
- I thought about everything under the sun to distract myself from thinking about my stomach.
- I am a little disappointed in my pace - around 7:08 Garmin pace - because I think my 30k pace should be faster than that. But factoring in the wind I'm not that upset.
- I do not actually know what one is supposed to do with a finish line tape. Slow down? Ram into it full speed? Move ones arms out of the way? Luckily no one caught the awkwardness on camera.
- I like that I've been winning clothes! Winners got plaques and shorts. Unfortunately the shorts are quite large and a weird high-cut style, but it's still a nice idea.
- Nothing tastes better after a long run than beer and king cake.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Derailed plans


Looks like I'm taking today as a rest day. And I have no idea what will happen with tomorrow's race after all.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Upcoming race decisions: The Wall

I'm running a 30k this Saturday and I have yet to decide how to run it.
I have a few options:

1. Run it at marathon pace. It is three weeks out from RnR New Orleans, so it would be a good race to test out my marathon plan.
2. Run it as a long run. The run from my house to the start plus the race will put me at a about 22 miles, so I could use this as a relaxed long run.
3. Race it. This would be faster than marathon pace for this shorter distance.

Thoughts? My next marathon is March 4th.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fixing an ipod

My husband goes through electronics like I go through running shoes.
He has had FOUR ipods since I've known him. I have had one (we have been together for 7-8 years).
If you have been paying attention, you may recall that I actually got a brand new ipod by turning in my old one, which was recalled for flaming batteries. But I am not using that PIECE OF CRAP, because I HATE IT.
Review of the 6th generation nano to come. In case your wondering, it ain't gonna be 5 stars.
David, darling that he is, dug out one of his old nanos - a 3rd generation with a cracked screen - and attempted to fix it for my use.
The blue tool is actually an ipod-opener. There is such a thing. Weird.

It was my brilliant idea to use collar stays to hold the case open as we worked on other edges. Saved the day. 

You know what? Apple makes it impossible to open their products. It took us two weeks to pry it apart. But we got it!

We replaced the screen and it works like a charm. The only problem is that now we can't quite get it back together. It closes, but it's not even a little bit water resistant. I think I will buy a "skin" for it as added protection. Until then, I'm still running with no music.
Which mp3 player do you use? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New art for David's office

I have David on a rotating art plan. Every so often I paint him new pictures and replace the old ones in his office. Actually, I just stack the paintings on top of each other. It's getting kind of crowded in those old frames.*
These are his new ones:


David's cubicle is windowless, so I painted him "windows" onto the Mississippi River! His coworkers who do have windows have these same views: he works right on the Mississippi. He likes the industrial look of the grain elevators on the other side of the river.
Do you have art at work? 
I don't just keep David's cube decorated: I have paintings in my consultation room, too. I think it adds a homey feel.
*Someday someone will buy some old pictures at a yard sale and find layers of art inside! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Louisiana Marathon: Race Review and DISCOUNT!

This was the inaugural Louisiana Marathon this Sunday. You can read my recap here
The race: There is a full, a half, and a relay, and the day before there is a 5k and a kid's one-mile. The race was well-attended, with over 1800 runners Sunday and about 400 Saturday. There were runners from 46 states and several other countries. 

At the start
Registration and cost: This is a slightly pricey race, but if you register early you can find discounts. I got in for $50 with a coupon code. That, my friends, was a DEAL! Someone can pick your packet up for you on Friday or Saturday, but there is no race day pick up, which is not my favorite. 


Finish line 
Swag: Not much - the T-shirt is kind of cheap technical with very weird sizing, so that I had to get a men's medium to get one long enough (the smalls were very short and wide). There was a small expo with absolutely no free samples of anything. However, this isn't the kind of race you run for swag; you're paying for a posh afterparty and a well-run race instead. 



Course: Course was mostly pretty although there were some long, dull stretches; it was not a totally flat course but there weren't outright hills, just the occasional long grade. I learned the hard way that this is a majority full-sun course (sunburn!). My only complaint about this race is about the course: The half and full separate and come back together several times, which means that fast runners are hitting a wall of slow half-marathoners repeatedly. These sections were miles long. It meant I was dodging and ducking, and some of the halfers were tired out and stopping to walk or stopping at water stations. I assume that they will change this for next year - it's just part of the learning curve! 

This race picture kind of demonstrates the congestion, although this was on a wider section - still, imagine everyone around me was running a 10:30 mile, and you can see how this would mean a lot of dodging and weaving for several miles at a time.
Support: Support was really excellent. There were many very well-manned water and Powerade tables (both at each station) and there were Cliff gels twice (I missed the second one though). There was a nice crowd out, too. It's nice to see a community get out and spectate for a race, and only a few areas had no one out. 
The after party by the state capitol
Post race: There is an after-party with live music, plenty of food from vendors, and local beers. They charge $10 to get in if you didn't race, but it isn't roped off and no one was paying. David didn't pay; he just didn't eat the food provided for runners (poor man was starving, too). The awards were given too late for my tastes: 1 pm for the marathon, and it started at 7am! But they kindly let me pick mine up early.
T-shirt, poster, medal, and jacket
Awards: So kick-butt. Everyone gets a medal; overall and age group winners all get the same thing, a fabulous fleece jacket for girls or a sweatshirt for guys, and an art print (see it here). Since edition number affects the value of a print (did I tell you I took a print making class once? Loved it), overall winners were given prints from the top 25 editions (I got #11)! Cute idea. These are definitely the best awards I've ever won: I'd much rather wear a jacket around than add a plaque to the stack on my desk that I am debating throwing away. Plus, the top three overall got the aforementioned Whole Foods giftcard! 
This race catered to first-timers, and the top 25 first-time marathon finishers actually received a free pair of Mizuno's from Varsity Sports. Um, how awesome is that? 
Technology: This race had some pretty cool features I wanted to mention. Notice the QR code on the race bib: if you scan it, your name and results pop up on your phone! Loved that! I also liked that right near the finish they were running a results booth. They put your number in and printed you this handy receipt with your time and division place and even your splits (it could be improved by putting overall place within your gender).
QR coded, personalized bib and timing receipt
You can get info from the website, but most of the things I needed to know I got from Facebook! If you run this race, I suggest liking the louisiana marathon on Facebook. 
Etc - Everything went very smoothly for this race, so I'd definitely recommend it. You can already register for next year, and the time of year almost guarantees nice weather (I said almost). 
*NOTE right now you can register for next year using the code EARLYBIRD for $15 off. I got suckered in and registered for the full marathon for just $50!* REGISTER NOW, this coupon code expires Feb 5th at midnight! 
So overall? Almost a perfect race. Give them time to work on the course. 

Note: All pictures except the race picture courtesy of Louisiana Running Company.

World Marathon Rankings

....Where do you rank?

Check it out here.

In 2011, I was ranked 10,319th in the world for my 27.2 mile marathon time!
Unfortunately, the rankings stop at 3 hours for the men and 4 hours for the women - but it's still interesting to peruse. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Virtual Run for Sherry Arnold

I know most of us read SUAR's blog - and even if you don't, you probably know Sherry's story. The entire running community is saddened by this tragedy.
Please visit SUAR's blog to read about Sherry and, if you are able, donate to help her children, who have just lost their mom.
I hope you'll join SUAR in a virtual run for Sherry.
I know I will.

I dedicated the first mile of my last marathon to Sherry (I wanted it to be a good mile!) but now I'm even more happy to race for her. You see, I'm already running on Feb 11th, the day of the virtual run. It's the Wall 30k, so I will be racing with two bibs.
Please join me in this virtual run in support of Sherry's family and friends. It's a celebration of her life by doing what she loved. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breaking even!

Look what came in the mail today!
And the sweet little personalized note!!! I die!!!

It's a gift card...
For $50 at Whole Foods (or, as David says, three whole items).
Whole Foods donated these for the top three finishers at the Louisiana Marathon, but everyone forgot about them. So this was a happy surprise in the mail!
Here's the best part: I paid $50 to register for this race, so getting the gift card means I broke even. 
And for someone as cheap as me, that's just plain heaven.


What's the best prize/award/race swag you;ve ever gotten?
Besides this gift card, getting wicking socks at Baton Rouge Beach Marathon was pretty awesome!