Running With Chronic Illness

 

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“Nausea” Pencil drawing by Malinda Ann Hill

I started running when I was 22. Over the last 18 years, I’ve run dozens of races and completed 7 marathons while living with chronic illness. I have gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) which causes severe stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. There is no cure for this condition and only a few treatments available which offer temporary relief. After many years of failed treatments, hospitalizations and feeding tubes, I had a gastric neurostimulator (stomach pacemaker) implanted on March 3, 2011. While the pacemaker has provided some relief, my symptoms continue to be debilitating. I continue to run whenever possible even when I’m experiencing stomach pain and nausea. However, there are many days that I cannot run because of vomiting and fatigue.

I hadn’t run for weeks when I met Joan Benoit Samuelson at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Expo. During her talk, she kept repeating “run your own race” – inspiring words that I needed to hear at the time. It can be an emotional struggle when I want to run but my body won’t let me. It is especially difficult when I see my identical twin sister running consistently and surpassing her race goals.

I’ve learned that I cannot compare myself to my twin or any other runner. I cannot even compare myself to the runner I was before I got sick. My body has changed and my running has changed. I have become the “go with the flow” slow runner and that is the runner I am meant to be today. I am truly grateful for every step that I am able to run. I appreciate every moment when I run – that is why I run without expectations, without time goals, without music, without a Garmin, but always with gratitude.

On her photo, Joan Benoit Samuelson wrote “Wishing you a great run through life” and I am determined to do just that!

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My twin and I dubbed ourselves “Twins Run in Our Family” since we are identical twins and opposite runners. We run together to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand for Childhood Cancer in memory of Leah’s brother-in-law Michael who died of leukemia on March 17. 2003. We’ll run the Broad Street Run (May 6) Chicago Marathon (October 7) and Goofy’s Race & a Half Challenge (January 12 & 13).

http://twinsruninourfamily.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/twinsruninourfamily

http://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/81058

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Leah Connor and Malinda Ann Hill

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Malinda, thanks so much for writing! I got to meet Malinda during the Princess half marathon weekend, she is so sweet! Be sure to stop by and say hello to her!

QOTD: Do you have a medical condition that makes running difficult or impossible? Would love to hear your story, you inspire me already!

Triathlon Volunteering

 

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Did anyone get tricked with any good April Fools jokes? Do share! I am always on the lookout because my sister usually gets me. Speaking of which, today is her birthday! Happy Birthday Christy!

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it is also the lovely Kelly Olexa’s birthday. be sure to go wish her a good one! Kelly You rock thanks for putting together the amazing company that is FitFluential!

So Saturday Bobby and I volunteered a the sprint triathlon in our neighborhood. Last year, we were spectators. This year, we were mighty volunteers!

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Bobby agreed to be a kayaker, and I agreed to be placed somewhere on the run course. Little did I know, that the dynamic running skirts duo of me and Gina would make for a crazy and hilarious day!

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We got to the course at 6:30 am, and Gina and I volunteered to work the water stop on the run course together. Since we had to go fill up cups, we sadly missed the swim start of the race. Burt here are some pictures I took before we headed to our station.

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Getting ready to start the swim

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We had enough time to watch Bobby hit the lake in his borrowed kayak. I told him good luck and to not let anyone drown.

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oh…and don’t hit anyone in the head with your kayak…

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We made it out to our water stop and started filling cups. We had plenty of time until the first runner came by, so we (Gina really) made sure our table was well stocked and efficient.

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Did I add we had to fill cups from a GIANT jug of very heavy water?

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I was quite proud of our water stop.

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We went and stood in the median so we could cheer for the bikers as they came by. Where we were stationed, we got to see them going and coming back in.

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We yelled, screamed, and cheered our little hearts out. We even got some thank you’s from the bikers (mostly women, which we found interesting).

About 20-30 minutes later, the first runner came through. Just like the bikers, the runners came down a dirt road behind our water stop, ran past us, then came back by us straight down the road, so we had to get them both ways. For the first few minutes, we were ok, since it was just people coming form one way. But, soon enough, things got CRAZY when people were coming from both directions. We tried to each get people from one particular direction, but then there was no one to fill cups. Luckily, about this time, Bobby called and asked where we were and he came to help. This was a MAJOR life saver. He filled cups while we handed out Powerade and water. There is no way we would have managed on our own had he not shown up when he did. Oh, and Gina somehow managed to take a Powerade bath. She had it all over her clothes and her face. Luckily, I came out pretty much unscathed.

We had a good system, and I enjoyed cheering for the runners as I gave them the liquids they needed. The ones towards the back were the most fun, they would walk and talk to us, crack jokes, it was great. We got some more thank yous, which was awesome, and the time flew by. Soon enough, it was time to clean up and head to the finish line.

We had a ton of paper cups to pick up from both directions, but I totally didn’t mind one bit. I have thrown many a paper cup on the ground and am so grateful for the volunteers that pick them up for me. It was my turn to help out and I gladly did it.

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We hopped on the golf cart and headed to the finish for some food and to watch the awards. We swung by the house and picked up the dogs so they could enjoy the sunshine and all the people wanting to pet them, of course.

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With  almost 300 participants, the race was a huge success, and I had a blast volunteering. It was nice to see “the other side” and it totally makes you more appreciative! We were out there for almost 6 hours. It really takes up a lot of your Saturday and is a big commitment so a THANK YOU to everyone who has ever volunteered for a race! Here are a few tips and words of advice I gleaned from my experience:

1.) Do what you are asked to do. Gina and I planned to watch the swim start before heading to our station. I knew we would have plenty of time to fill cups before the first runner came through. However, right before the start of the race, two of the people putting it on asked us to go ahead and go to the water stop. My inclination was to say “but we REALLY want to watch the swim start and we have plenty of time” (which we did, we stood around out there for 30 minutes before a runner came though) BUT, I didn’t. I smiled and said “ok” and we headed to our station. I had to remember I was not here for me, but to do whatever they needed me to do, no questions asked.

2.) Know what you are getting into. Bobby volunteered to kayak, and I am so glad I didn’t. While he was in the water waiting for the race to start, a snake started swimming right at his kayak!! he wacked it with his paddle a few times and chased it off the swim course before the race started. I think I would have died. seriously. (And you wonder why I don’t open water swim. ack!!!)

3. Be prepared to scream till your throat hurts. Gina and I did a lot of yelling. At the bikers, at the runners, we talked and yelled, cheered and jumped up and down. It was great fun but not for the anti social. Be prepared to scream your guts out.  Also, be cheerful and helpful. And smile.

4.) Know the course, and basic race information. The runners were running out one road and back down another, and the arrow was ttiinnyyy and a lot of people missed it, so we had to yell for them to keep running straight.  Had we not known the course we could have had people running the wrong way. That would have been a disaster. I had a guy ask me a question about the swim which I didn’t know the answer too, so I found out, then found the guy and told him.

5.) Wear sunscreen, and stay hydrated.  Luckily, we were stationed at a water stop, so the hydration wasn’t an issue. But it was very warm and sunny, so it is important to take care of yourself as you are out on the course. No one wants a volunteer passing out on race day!

Volunteering was a really good experience. This was my second race to volunteer at, but my first triathlon. I highly recommend volunteering, especially if you are a runner yourself. It really makes you appreciate the volunteers more after being one. I usually try to say thank you to the volunteers as much as I can remember (and when I am not dying in the middle of a race) but now I will try to do it much more often. It REALLY made a difference and made me feel good when I got a simple “thank you for volunteering” from a participant. It definitely gave me warm fuzzies and made me love this great community of athletes I am a part of even more.

QOTD: Do you thank the volunteers at races?

Don’t forget to enter my zero water giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Tips for the Active Mom

 

Today’s post comes from Amanda from Happy Mother Runner. She has QUITE the busy schedule, but still manages to fit in time to be healthy and active. Here are her tips for moms to help you stay on track! Also be sure to check out her blog and say hello!

As a mom I try to stay healthy and happy for my child. But there are times when balancing everything (work, PhD program, Mommy, Wife, and Runner) can get tricky. After much trial and error I have discovered 6 tips that make staying healthy and active just a little easier.

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#1: Stop eating my child’s leftovers.
I hate throwing away food even if it’s only two bites. So now that my son is eating big people food, I found myself eating whatever he has left on his plate. Embarrassed about this action, I asked other mommies if they did the same thing. Surprisingly, I wasn’t alone. But eating my son’s leftovers three to four times a day can lead to some serious calorie intake and overeating (especially when I am eating with him). I have taught myself to throw away the few bites he has left, or wrapping it up and saving it for his next meal. No more guilty feelings for wasting food and no more eating half a bowl of Mac and Cheese when I am not hungry.

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#2: Don’t skip a run because of sleep deprivation.
For 3-4 months Michael stopped sleeping through the night. He was up 3 times, minimum. This, obviously, interrupted my REM cycle and caused me to feel tired and lethargic in the mornings. For the first few weeks I skipped my runs because I was too tired to even lace up my shoes. After a while, I noticed that my patience and sanity were slowly dwindling. I told my hubby that I needed to go for a quick run to hit the refresh button on my Mommy meter. When I was finished I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, and happy. Exercise increases oxygen intake to the brain, which helps you feel energized and awake. After realizing that I had been depriving myself of an energy boost, I stopped skipping runs because of sleep deprivation.

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#3: I reward myself for accomplishing my running goals.
For a while I was the ONLY runner in my family. Yes that includes my hubby, siblings, cousins, etc. And during that time nobody really understood what I was doing. Many times hubby would ask, “What do you mean PR?” or “How did you hit a wall?” To make sure that my accomplishments were celebrated, I would reward myself. For small accomplishments (breaking through a mileage barrier) I would splurge on my favorite Starbucks drink. For bigger accomplishments I would invest in a coveted running item (hitting my one year mark of running I splurged on a pair of running sunglasses). There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for your hard work; it helps you realize that you have achieved something pretty awesome.

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#4: Utilize my baby jogger
Sometimes it’s impossible to get out the door for a run. For example, my husband works at a job where he can get called in at any minute. Many times I have had to cancel my run because he’s walking out the door and I have no one to watch my son. What I have learned is that a baby jogger can be a runner’s best friend. Now when I don’t have the option for a solitary run, I throw my little man in the jogger and head out the door. I switch up my running schedule and do a 3 mile tempo and at the end I can throw in some hills. My son loves it. Not only does it make his Mommy happy because she got a run in, but it makes him happy because he’s going fast & getting some fresh air. Many times we find ourselves laughing uncontrollably. It allows us the opportunity to spend time together and bond doing the activity I love most.

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#5: Don’t feel guilty for running
Mother’s guilt is a very strong emotion. But one of the biggest rules I live by is that I can’t let it stop me from getting out the door. A crying child can pull at the heart strings, but a happy and healthy mommy can wipe those tears away for years to come. It is important to keep up with your workout to be a good role model with your child. If you are lucky, your child might just want to start running with you someday. If that day does come for me, it will make up for all those days I felt so guilty leaving the house for 40 minutes to get in a good run.

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#6: Sneak away from work
There are times when things don’t work out; you over sleep, you get caught in the mommy guilt, it’s too cold for a run with the baby, and the list can go on. That is why I keep a pair of running shoes, top, socks, and shorts in the bottom drawer of my work desk. If I really feel like I need a run I will sneak away during my lunch break. Even if it’s a one mile run, I always feel better afterwards. *If you don’t have access to a shower, keep some baby wipes in your drawer … your co-workers will thank you.

Being a running Mommy can be tough. But by setting guidelines for yourself, you can find the task of balancing everything a little easier.

Be inspired, stay motivated, & run strong,

Amanda
HappyMotherRunner.com

QOTD: Any tips for the active mom?

Weekly Recap: March Week 3

 

Hi friends. This weekend has been fun and so beautiful so far. Yesterday morning we ran the St. Patrick’s Day 5k and well….It will get it’s own recap probably tomorrow, let’s just say that. Anyway, after the race we came home and Bobby worked in the yard while I did some cleaning and laundry. We also spend a good deal of time sitting on the front porch chatting. It was blissful.

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Today is church and Bobby has to do some work, and I get to start packing! That’s right folks, I am going out of town again soon. Didn’t I just get home?!? has it already been almost a month since Princess?!?

Here is a run down of this past week’s workouts for you:

Sunday: rest

Monday: 10 minutes elliptical and upper body weights. Was supposed to go to yoga but my back was still hurting pretty good from falling down the stairs.

Tuesday: ran 3 miles, did upper body weights, and 20 minutes elliptical

Wednesday: one hour yoga class, upper body and leg weights

Thursday: Ran 3 miles, upper body and ab’s workout

Friday: rest (for the 5k)

Saturday: St. Patrick’s day 5k

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Running: 3 x’s for 9 miles. We were supposed to long run after the 5k but it was so hot we decided not to.

cross training: 2 x’s

weights: 4 x’s

yoga: 1 one hour class

My back is still bothering me a little, but I will hopefully be ok for more yoga this week. I know I ran short distances this week, but I ran them at a fast pace, trying to work on my speed. I finally feel like I am leaning out a little and have dropped a pound or two (not that I was trying but I can definitely tell a difference in my arms and hips).

Sneak peek picture from the 5k:

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QOTD: How has the weather been this weekend where you live?

You Know You

 

Now that Disney Princess is over, as well as RnR New Orleans, it’s time to think about my “spring” training plan. I use the term loosely because it has been spring around here for a long time. Our grass is green already, bees are out, flowers have bloomed.

I have a rule that I will not race in the south between the months of June and September. If I race, it will be a destination race. With the heat and humidity, it’s a death wish. This means I have 2.5 months left to do any type of racing locally.

As far as things I have already signed up for, I will be running a 5k on Saturday, and a half marathon in Pensacola on April 15. I have been focusing on that half since RnR NOLA. I really want to PR, but I also have to be realistic because mid April at the beach around here means it’s most likely going to be hot and humid. I am going to pretend like I am training for any other half, and just hope for the best.

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This is how I am tackling the next month. (My half is a month from today!)

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Tempo workout 3-6 miles, weights

Tuesday: easy run 2-4 miles, weights

Wednesday: cross training, yoga, weights

Thursday: Run (maybe hills or sprints) 2-4 miles

Friday: cross train and weights

Saturday: Long run 8-12 miles

I plan to LOOSELY follow this pattern up until the week before, where I will back off of everything a bit, and will do more cross training and easy running than anything. Also, I will be out of town for a week, so it will be interesting to see how I can handle working out on my trip. not going to lie, the long run Saturday may not happen, but hopefully everything else will.

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Where did I come up with this plan? Wwweelll I just kind of made it up. I used previous knowledge from a hodge-podge of training plans, and came up with a plan that works FOR ME. Guys, this is the key. When you have been running for awhile, you start learning what works best for your own body. Like I know that if I un more than four days a week I will get an overuse injury. I also know if I don’t go to yoga I will stay really tight, potentially causing injury. I also know weight lifting has gotten me stronger and leaner and I need to do it at least four times a week. These are all things that if you would have asked me a year ago to create a training plan, I would have laughed….and never included yoga or weight lifting.

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I have come so far and learned so much about myself since I started running, and being more healthy overall. The “old me” would never spend so much time in a gym, or buying things around the outer edges of the grocery store.

I guess my takeaway for all of you from this, is a meal plan, a training plan, any kind of plan, isn’t a one size fits all thing. Just because your favorite blogger or celebrity is doing something “healthy” does not mean it is in your best interest to follow suit. Please don’t think I am saying it is wrong to use a pre-made training plan, I am just saying sometimes they don’t always suit my needs exactly. Find out what works to help you achieve your personal goals. If you have to make your own training plan, or mix a few together, so be it, but BE YOURSELF, and do what is best for you. After all, who knows you better than you?

Do you come up with your own training plans or use pre-made ones?

Weekly Recap: March Week 2

 

Did you remember to spring forward this morning? I know a lot of people groan at the thought of an hour less sleep, but I don’t mind, I am just so happy it will be getting dark later! More time outside, more sunshine, I like it! This past week was an interesting one for me. On Sunday, I ran the Rock n Roll New Orleans half marathon and PRed!

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I took Monday off, Tuesday I just lifted weights, and Wednesday my plan was to run and do yoga that night, but that didn’t happen. I did run 3 miles, yes…but I also took a tumble down the stairs that afternoon. I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter but kind of forgot to mention it here I think.

Yup, lived here exactly a year and finally fell. I had socks on because I was cold, and I was carrying laundry down the wooden/varnished stairs. I slipped, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed straight down, flat on my back on the stairs. It. Hurt. I managed to scoot down the hall to my phone and call my husband. I got really nauseated and almost passed out! Luckily, I am “ok” relatively speaking, but my back is bruised and hurts pretty badly across the lower/middle section, and right on my spine where I hit. So…obviously no yoga that night….and Thursday and Friday I did light lifting and cross training, with a run yesterday. The run really made my back sore, so I did some icing and took some pain meds. So, here is the official run down:

Sunday: RnR NOLA half marathon

Monday: rest

Tuesday: Biceps, abs, and legs

Wednesday:  3 mile run, fall down the stairs

Thursday: Biceps, walked 1 mile on the treadmill

Friday: Triceps, chest, 20 minutes elliptical

Saturday: 6 mile run with Bobby

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From day two of the RnR NOLA expo

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Miles run: 22.1

Cross training: 2 X’s

Weights: 3 x’s

Yoga: 0  <——sad times.

I had a good running week but with no yoga and only 3 days of weights, I need to rev it up again for next week. Oh, did I mention I signed up for another half marathon? Yes! I will be running the Gulf Coast half in Pensacola in April! That will be my last half most likely until Fall unless I can get away to run in a cooler climate.

I hope you all are having a great weekend. We are going to church and working in the yard today, it’s been a beautiful weekend!

QOTD: Have you ever done something klutzy like fall down the stairs?

RWS Features #15

Please take a minutes and vote for me! I was nominated for a Fitness Magazine Fitterati, an award for best running blog! VOTE HERE

Happy Saturday! This week flew by for me, I had so much catching up to do after being out of town for so long. I am happy to be home this weekend and next before heading out of town again. Where am I going next? You will have to wait until early next week to find out!

I am featuring another blogger today, a fellow FitFluential Ambassador and all around sweetheart, Carissa from http://fit2flex.com. I  got to meet Carissa at the Disney Princess half marathon. She had the coolest job, she is one of the ones who stands up on the stage before and during the race getting everyone excited. Fun!! She is beautiful and outgoing and just PRed in a recent half marathon!

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Why did you start blogging?

1. I started blogging about a year ago.  My husband & I are both personal trainers and people were constantly asking us how we eat healthy and commit to working out.  We thought the best way to inspire others was to be transparent and show our clients and readers just how we live “Fit2Flex”. That includes a commitment to clean eating, working out, and also moderation with some fun treats!

Sum up your blog in a couple of sentences:

2. Fit2Flex is all about fitness, healthy eating, and living an active healthy life! Kyle & Carissa are a married duo of personal trainers who share their secrets for fitness success along with travels, treats, and the everyday trials of life in Fit2Flex. Fit2Flex gives you workouts, cardio plans, race training tips, and healthy recipes.

What do you wish to accomplish/achieve by blogging?

3. Fit2Flex is aimed to show people that fitness and clean eating isn’t punishment! We don’t deprive ourselves, eat 800 calories a day, or spend hours working out in the gym.  We practice what we preach and we want to show how a few changes and preparation can make healthy living your daily way.

What is your biggest healthy living accomplishment?

4. My personal biggest fitness accomplishment is appearing on the Home Shopping Network as a fitness expert, and for Kyle it was having a swimmer he trained take home the Y-USA National title. Carissa is also studying to be a registered dietitian and can’t wait to add the initials RD to her resume!

Thanks Carissa for sharing! Everyone be sure to stop by her blog, say hi, and say congrats for her PR!

QOTD: What is your favorite treat to “splurge” on?

Rock N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon 2012

 

Sunday, I ran the Rock n Roll New Orleans half marathon (formally Rock N Roll Mardi Gras) This is the third year I have run this race. (You can check out my recaps from 2010 and 2011 1 and 2)

Last years race was not the best experience. My IT band was VERY angry, and I ended up crying during the race and hobbling across the finish line. This year, I was determined to do well. Then I realized it was the weekend after the princess half, so I would be doing back to back races. crap. THEN, I ended up working the Running Skirts  booth at the expo. hhmm…not shaping up to be a PR race I would say! With the odds stacked against me, I signed up due to a super discount and an awesome New Orleans saints win. ($37 or so dollar entry fee!)

My already tired legs became exhausted (specifically my knees and heels) after a day of expo set up, and two long days of working the expo. We didn’t finish until almost 8 pm on Friday and after 6 on Saturday. Walking around for an hour looking for a place to eat, I was really feeling it and it was not looking good.

Sunday morning I woke up fairly easily and was ready to race. The start line wasn’t far from the hotel, so we waited to go down until 6:45 for a 7:00 start.

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We got into corral 12, and I heard a voice behind me say my name. It was Samantha!

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She was running the full, and I tried to fill her in a bit on the course. It was time to move up, and so we said our goodbyes and good luck.

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Before I knew it, I was running under the start sign, Garmin started, an running.

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Poor Bobby was getting over a nasty cold, so he knew he wasn’t going to PR. He decided to run with me and make it his goal to help me PR.

My first goal for this race was to not start out too fast. Mission accomplished, it was sooo crowded I couldn’t go fast even if I wanted to. Since I was running with Bobby, I didn’t do as much weaving so we could stay together. I immediately got annoyed though because we started in between some tall buildings and my Garmin was off from the start, so I had to keep subtracting from my distance the whole race.

I felt really good starting out, an since the course was different this year, I was distracted having new things to look at, and trying not to plow into the back of someone. We made a turn and I was able to jump up in the median on the street car tracks/grass. My knees were killing me and this felt so much better (plus I was able to pass without weaving.) We were sure to jump down when we needed to in order to cross all the timing mats.

We passed these guys about mine four and told them to keep it up and that they were awesome.

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Soon, I saw the first runner coming back the other way. NO WAY! but yes way, the lead car was right there with him. Unreal! Granted, I started twenty minutes after the gun, but still unreal. I kept trucking along, only stopping at water stops to drink. Bobby kept at my pace (I told him nothing over a 10:20 to PR) and we stayed pretty quiet.

About mile 5, we hit the sunshine and I instantly got very very hot. I was in a long sleeve shirt and felt like I was suffocating. I decided to pull it off and tie it around my waist. I didn’t care that my bib wouldn’t be on the front anymore, I needed to stay focused and didn’t want to stop and waste time re-pinning it.

About mile 7 I was still feeling really good, which almost made me nervous. I hadn’t even taken a single walk break except for water stops, and aside from tired legs, I felt great. We came back through towards the French Quarter and down Decatur street. We passed Café du Monde and the French market before turning onto esplanade. This is when it got hard.

I think I officially REALLY for the first time ever hit a wall at mile 10. It got MUCH harder to keep the same pace I was keeping  before, and I started to panic. I wanted to stay focused, so I tried to block out the pain and keep one foot in front of the other. The streets at this point had a LOT of pot holes so I literally just looked straight down and ahead, like I was in a tunnel. I was really feeling the fact that I had been on my feet and lifting heavy objects for the past three full days, and that I had run a half marathon a mere 7 days earlier.

Normally in races I look around and soak it all in, look at spectators, signs, etc. This race, I did not. I kept repeating things to myself like “if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it” and “you are stronger than you think” and “fight through the pain”. Bobby was a GREAT encourager telling me I was doing great, and my pace was good, and I had this, that I WOULD PR. I took one short walk break to catch my breath and my bearings, and took off again.

We hit mile 12, and I knew I could do it. I kept thinking “You have busted your butt for over two hours, you CANNOT give up now!” we headed towards City Park and I kept ticking down the tenth’s in my head. At about mile 12.7, I saw a familiar face on the sidelines. Brandon from Claim Your Journey was there taking pictures. I got his attention and waved as he took my picture. I gave him a thumbs up, but really I felt like I would keel over at any second!

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We were SO CLOSE I could taste it. I told Bobby I could NOT go any faster and he told me I didn’t have to, that I was going to make it at this pace. I really needed to hear that, but, still kept asking periodically if I was going to make it. We hit mile 13 and rounded the last corner.

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I kicked with everything I had left (which wasn’t much!) and grabbed Bobby’s hand as we crossed the finish line.

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I looked down at my Garmin, and I had done it. Not only did I PR by over 2 minutes, but I met another small stepping stone goal of mine, to run a half in 2:15.

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We got our medals and funneled out of the way (more like shuffled, it was so crowded!) and headed into the after party area. We immediately put our mylar blankets on the ground and laid down. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day in the mid 60’s.

Number 11, in the books.

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As I was sitting there taking in everything, I happened to notice someone familiar. It was my sister! She is super speedy so I figured she would be gone by now and never would I have imagined I would pick her out of thousands of people. She, too PR’ed by about 5 minutes and was very happy with her time.

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We chatted for a few minutes and then she left, and we hung out on our blankets snacking and stretching before deciding to head to the busses and back to the hotel.

I would definitely say this years race was a BIG improvement over last year’s for me. Last year I was very injured, and hobbled across in about 2:26. Elven minutes faster even with back to back weekend halfs and being on expo legs? I’ll take it! Did you know I haven’t run a half NOT on expo legs since this race last year? Well except for Princess but we weren’t racing that one. I can’t wait to see what I can do on fresh legs!

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A huge thanks to my sweet husband who paced me, and to everyone else who has helped me along my journey. I am starting to feel strong, and determined. (My word of the year). I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store!

QOTD: How are you doing on your goals for the year, now that we are three months into 2012?

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***I have been nominated for a Fitterati award for Fitness magazine in the category of best running blog! I would LOVE it if yall would vote for me!***

Disney Princess Half Marathon

So, I ran the Royal Family 5k on Saturday, and then had to get up at 2:45 Sunday for the Princess half marathon. After only four hours of sleep, I wasn’t too thrilled to hear my alarm. I got up anyway, and put on my tutu.  It was if the world was instantly more fun! I was so excited to wear it.

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All 3 of us ready to run

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We made our way to the start line

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and since I had a free pass to the race retreat (thanks runDisney and FitFluential!) I left my mom and Karen outside for a couple of minutes so I could go inside and take pictures. The race retreat isn’t cheap, but I can see why. It has a private bag check, potties, tables, food, couches, TV’s, computers, and character photo ops!

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I grabbed a banana and a half of a bagel and some hot chocolate to warm me up.

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I quickly spotted my blogger group of friends and sat with them for a few minutes. Me and my fellow Belle, Meghann.

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Of course we had to get a Belle picture! Meghann, me, and Callie.

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I definitely will consider the race retreat next time, especially if it’s really cold. It was nice to not have to stress about breakfast or the bathroom!

I headed out and wished them luck, and met up with my mom and Karen right at 5:00. We decided to join the masses of people heading to the corrals. We came to a standstill for a long time, and then realized the culprit. Disney did something I don’t remember them doing at the past two marathon weekends I participated in…they had a row of port o potties on the way to the corrals…so the lines for them were literally blocking the people trying to get to the corrals! It was a bit frustrating and poor planning in my opinion. (But hey if that’s the worst Disney does, then that’s not too shabby!)

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We made a quick bathroom break ourselves, then headed to our corral. We got in about five minutes before the start, and had plenty of room to move around and take pictures.

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People behind us

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Before long, the fireworks went off, and it as time to run! There was so much excitement in the air, and of course, lots of tutus!

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As we passed the start, I yelled to Carissa who gave me another shout out. One for each race, I’ll take it girl! The first couple of miles were pretty uneventful. We tried to keep a good pace to clear out from the crowds. Unfortunately, that never really happened.

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We saw our first set of characters and had to stop. After all, our goals for this race were to have fun and get lots of pictures. The line was already really long, but we didn’t really care.

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As we were standing in line, look who I spotted in front of us! Dave Mari, who I ran Disney’s Wine and Dine with, Brandi, who I also ran with and who was my skirt helper for the booth at Wine and Dine, and Juli, who is a fellow Running Skirts sales rep!

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We took a picture with some of the men

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I had to take a picture with the Beauty and the Beast mile marker

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We then ran into these awesome ladies

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We finally made it to the Magic Kingdom and I started getting excited about running through the castle!

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We made it around to the TTC where these awesome drummers were playing.

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and then up the dreaded hill.

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During the full marathon, Bobby loved watching the tumble monkeys, and asked them if he could get on their trampoline, so I took this picture for him.

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We lost a lot of time stopping for pictures, and it was SO congested. I do not remember it being this bad for the half and full. I was constantly stopping, weaving, and bumping into people. It was impossible to even run two across, although some groups were walking 3 and 4 people across the road. oy.

I can see the castle!

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About to head into the Magic Kingdom

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About to turn onto Main Street USA!

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wwweeeee!

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I love love love this part of the race, but not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have in the past. When I turn onto Main street and see that castle I am bursting with emotion and I want to run…fast! There were sssooo many people I was basically at a walk the whole time, and spent my time going down the street a little frustrated that I couldn’t move.

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So I just took a bunch of pictures.

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We of course had to get the castle in the background

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We had to go to the bathroom, so we hit up the same one we used during the full marathon, the one in Tomorrowland. We were laughing because the women had taken over the men’s bathroom, too!

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Since mom was Cinderella I made her take her own picture with Prince Charming

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I’m ffllyyiinggg through Fantasyland!

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We made it to the back of the castle and this was actually one of I think three photo op’s we skipped. It was for Minnie and by time we realized it, we had missed the back of the line and didn’t dee it safe to swim upstream around all those people.

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We ran through the castle and out the other side and headed into Frontierland.

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Can you see me?

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and of course made a few stops along the way.

When we got to the backside of the Magic Kingdom, we saw a line for characters that was WAY long. My mom was getting tired and had a good idea. She said for us to stay in the line, and she would start walking and we would just catch her. Worked for us, so off she went. AAAAnnnddd we stood here for a long time.

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About this time, Jen texted me and I sent her this picture to show her how crazy long the lines were!

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We exited the Magic Kingdom and headed out on the skinniest portion of the race. The past two times I ran on the grass just so I could pass people. I think this part is dangerous and needs to be changed! We hit the halfway mark and the STRONGER sign with Kelly Clarkson’s song blaring. Loved it!

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We got to the Grand Floridian and I saw Belle! There was a cast member standing there telling me the line was closed. Huh? She said Belle had to go get ready for the day and go to the park. I got very frustrated. We pay a lot of money for this race and should have the characters there until everyone is done. I was about to burst into tears. After all, she was the only picture I really wanted! A sweet girl at the back of the line offered me her spot! I was so grateful! Just then, the cast member decided to let us in anyway.

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Belle told me I must have been rummaging around in her closet haha.

We caught up with my mom about mile 8.

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This is the boring part of the race (comparatively) but it was still full of people and we were still weaving around to pass. We did a few run walk intervals, and finally made it to the overpass heading to EPCOT. The skies were looking mighty dark and you guessed it..it started raining. hard. I stuck my camera and my phone under my tutu and we kept going.

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We could see the entrance to EPCOT, and knew we were getting close. Poor mom was wearing down, so I had to keep telling her to come on, and keep up. I wasn’t going to let her wimp out now!

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We made it over the last hill, and I could see the EPCOT ball!

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We made it into EPCOT and I told mom we were going to run the rest of the way. She didn’t seem to keen on the idea but I knew she could do it.

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People kept telling Karen “I like your frog!” No one seemed to get it was Pascal from Rapunzel!

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I kept telling my mom we were almost there, and to finish strong. I told her she is stronger than she thinks and that she was ALMOST DONE! We passed the gospel choir right as they started to sing “Joyful Joyful” and I ran by and slapped all their hands.

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We saw Karen’s mom as we made the last turn.

We could SEE the finish line. I told her we can’t stop now, we are so close! We picked up the pace and ran it in.

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My favorite race photo of me, ever.

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That is…until we saw Mickey mouse! We stopped dead in our tracks and I think my mom was about to kill me!

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We regrouped, and crossed the finish line together. I always get emotional when I cross the finish at a Disney race, and this one was no different.

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WE DID IT!

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Of course, my mom started crying, and I told her she DID it!

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Medals, and pictures all around

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Number 10, in the books.

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It started raining again, and we couldn’t find Karen’s mom. I was supposed to go back to the race retreat but everyone seemed a little stressed out so I didn’t say anything. Come to find out, they got breakfast, mimosa’s, and cute Princess flip flops. So sadly, I didn’t get any. Bummer, but it’s my fault.

We got on the monorail to go back to the resort and Princess was officially over.

This race gets two huge thumbs up from me. The organization is great, the characters are fun, and where else can you run in a tutu?!? I know for a lot of people, Princess was their first half. I was so proud of EVERYONE out there on that course, bettering their bodies, and becoming more healthy. That’s what it’s all about. PR’s are great, running your butt off is great, but you don’t HAVE to do those things to be a runner, or a half marathoner. It took us well over three hours to finish this race, and I don’t really care! I am strong, I am healthy, and I am happy. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be working on half marathon number twelve. I feel so blessed to have the ability to run, and a healthy body to carry me through each and every race. I never dreamed it, but it is HAPPENING! If your goal is to run Princess next year, do it! Don’t put it off. Start your journey TODAY. We aren’t promised tomorrow. Start with a 5k, work your way up if a half marathon is your goal.  It will be tough but I know you can do it. Disney is a place where dreams come true, and I highly recommend all of the Disney races.

As a very wise man once said, If you can dream it, YOU CAN DO IT!

QOTD: What is something you have done that you never thought possible?

*If you love my tutu you can have one made of your very own! My friend Rachel makes them, check out her shop. She can personalize one for you!

I was always planning to go to the race, but a couple of weeks before I left, I was asked by runDisney and FitFluential to come as a part of a group of blogger media. Part of my expenses for the trip were covered. However, I am obsessed with Disney and their runDisney races, so all opinions are 100% my own.

Rouge Orleans Race Recap Part 3

 

Check out part 1 and part 2 before reading part 3!

I left off part 2 when it started to get dark. When Jennifer came back to finish off round 2 for us, Kristyn started round 3, and Jennifer started the first bike leg.

Photos of the Girls on the Geaux running the Mississippi River levee during the Rouge-Orleans ultramarathon relay on Feb. 11-12, 2012.

We drove to the next exchange point to wait for our first bike/run duo to see how it worked out, and we realized the temps were dropping fast. They made it back and the poor girls did not look good. We had some bike issues…the helmet strap was really wonky, and it took forever to get it on and off. Still, we soldiered on, with Erin running the  next leg and Kristyn biking next to her. We sent Erin on ahead while Kristyn got going on the bike which seemed to work out well for us.

I started to get nervous knowing I was next. I typically don’t run at night and have never worn a headlamp. When we got to the next exchange, I was outfitted with a headlamp, vest, butt light, and glow sticks and bracelets.

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Erin made it back with Kristyn, and I started out on my first night leg. This was my longest leg, at 4.88 miles, which actually ended up being right at 5 miles. I started running as Erin got on the bike, and I got a good 3-4 minutes ahead. Right when she showed up, I decided I REALLY had to pee. No one was around, so I literally squatted a foot off the levee path on the back side and went. Gotta do what you gotta do, right? I felt much better, and I kept going. Erin was SUCH a great bike partner. She talked to me, asked me questions about my family, how Bobby and I met, et. It really helped pass the long dark miles. To be honest, the only thing on me that was cold was my face. The constant motion and tons of layers kept my body pretty warm. I would estimate it was in the upper 30’s at this point.

I was so glad we decided to ride with each other at night, it was very dark and scary up there. We passed some shady areas that backed up to the levee, and a lot of the levee path was not well lit at all. My headlamp was pretty weak, so I literally could only see a foot or two in front of  me, so I had to look down pretty much the whole time. About mile 3 I was over it and wanted to be back in the van. That’s when I remembered I still had to get on the bike and ride five miles while Lindsey ran. Oh. my. gosh. I tried not to freak out. At this point I was getting hungry and very tired and started losing it mentally. We passed under some plants (like power, not green living kind) which were interesting but also menacing in their own way. We finally spotted the exchange point up ahead and I thought the worst was over. That’s when Erin mentioned that the bike seat was really small and very painful. I laughed thinking it couldn’t be that bad….boy was I wrong. I asked Erin to get me a tissue and some water from the van when she got off the bike and gave me the helmet. Lindsey took off running, and by time Erin came back I STILL couldn’t get the thing on! My fingers were so numb I couldn’t feel the clasp and neither could Erin. I think we were both about to cry. She held it down and I was finally able to snap it after literally about 6-7 minutes.

I quickly hopped on the bike and IMMEDIATELY knew what Erin meant about the seat. Oh my. It was going to be a long five miles. I pedaled hard trying to catch Limdsey but she was nowhere. I started to panic. At one point I had to get off the bike and drop down off the levee where a plant went across the path. I made it back up, kept going and FINALLY spotted her. I thought for sure we were at mile 2.5 or so. nope…just to mile 1. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it. The running had kept my body cold, but being on the bike where only your legs are moving…you get cold VERY quickly. I couldn’t feel my fingers out on the handle bars and wondered if I was even still holding on. I tried to make conversation with lindsey in between chattering teeth. She was in great spirits. We even ended up having another runner catch us and run with us the rest of the leg, so I hung about ten feet behind them. My butt was hurting SO BADLY when they stopped to walk I would hop off the bike to walk too for a break.

I think my lowest point of the whole race was about mile 3.5 or so, when I knew we still had 1.5 to go and I realized how hungry and thirsty I was. I was frozen, it was WINDY, dark, and I had been up since early that morning and already run two legs of the race. I ALMOST cried, but refused to let myself. I just kept praying that God would get me through it. There is a song in High school we would sing before volleyball games, and I kept repeating it over and over to myself on the stupid bike. It goes: “I’ve got confidence, my Lord is going to see me through, no matter what the case may be, my Lord, my Lord is going to fix it for me.” I knew I had to have faith God would get me back to the van or I would mentally break down. I have ever been so happy to see all the vans waiting for us. I got the helmet off, wished Lindsey luck, and hobbled back to the van. I immediately ate an entire plate of pasta salad a sandwich, and drank an entire powerade.  Them I laid down in one of the seats, still shivering. It took me about an hour for my body to finally be still. We were pretty miserable.

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We continued on like this, running and biking, all the way through round 3. We started round 4, and soon enough it was my turn to run again. Naturally, as soon as I started, I had to pee…again. So I pulled my little levee squat again, and off we went. this leg wasn’t as long, at 4 miles. It was still long…but I had to mentally tell myself it was a mile shorter than my last to make myself feel better. The run was ok, it was slow, and at several points I just wanted to sit down on the side of the levee and cry…but I didn’t. Temperatures were dropping into the low 20’s with wind chill in the teens now. the wind had picked up a lot and a few gusts almost knocked me off my feet. When my run ended I got back on that darn bike to ride about 3.3 miles with Lindsey. It wasn’t as bad (and I think my butt was numb) and I had some food in me. I was still freezing, but knowing it was my last bike leg helped me get through it.

When we got to the exchange point we had a little pow wow. We decided the bike is what was killing us, and so we decided to take a quick nap, then continue on without the bike. Dang it! I wish they would have decided this before I had gotten on it again! We drove to the next exchange and slept for about 1.5 hours. I know it hurt our time but it was necessary for our survival to get warm and get a nap. Dawn broke, and we set out again. I had one leg left, this time about 3.3 miles.

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I was trying to get all the vans lined up at the exchange point but got the writing instead. #fail.

It was overcast and still in the low 30’s with crazy winds. I ended up running alongside a guy on a 3 man team who was having a bit of a struggle. I decided to run with him and try to encourage him and keep his mind off of this crazy thing we were doing. It did make the time go by faster, and before I knew it I was DONE! Or so I thought haha. After this hand off, we headed to McDonalds where I got a hot coffee to help warm up. We did the final exchanges and drove in to Audobon park. We had some time before Jennifer got there so we unloaded the van into everyone’s cars and wiped off the shoe polish. Then, me, Erin, and Kristyn went to the corner of Magazine street to wait for Jennifer. We ran in with her to Audobon park where we met up with the rest of our group.

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We all ran in together and finished the hardest 26 hours of my life, as a team. One unit, start to finish, accomplishing an amazing goal, and finishing a crazy journey.

Photos of the Girls on the Geaux running the Mississippi River levee during the Rouge-Orleans ultramarathon relay on Feb. 11-12, 2012.

Girls on the Geaux, we made it.

Photos of the Girls on the Geaux running the Mississippi River levee during the Rouge-Orleans ultramarathon relay on Feb. 11-12, 2012.

I feel like I earned this medal more than any of my other race medals.

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126.2 miles. We. did. it.

Photos of the Girls on the Geaux running the Mississippi River levee during the Rouge-Orleans ultramarathon relay on Feb. 11-12, 2012.

Stay tuned, I plan to do one more Rouge Orleans post, a follow up of sorts…things I learned along the way…advice for those who want to run a relay.

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Not only did we finish (in style might I add) but I am so proud of myself for staying so strong. I didn’t breakdown. I didn’t shed a single tear. For once, I honestly felt strong. Determined. Ready.

Who’s in for 2013?

QOTD: Tell me about your WORST race experience?