Category Archives: Half Marathon

Louisiana Half Marathon 2014

On January 19th, I ran the Louisiana Half Marathon in Baton Rouge for the third year! Ever since their inaugural event in 2012 this has been far and away my favorite race. Not only is the course really pretty and almost completely flat, but the weather is typically just right for running this time of year also. The thing that absolutely impresses me the most about Louisiana though is their Finish Festival. They really do it up right. Plus, this race was my PR race last year when I finally broke 1:40 for a half. Lots of good things going on in Baton Rouge.

This year was a little bit different though. The course, the weather and the finish festival were all the same as I expected, but this year I got to experience the Louisiana Half as a pregnant runner! This is a completely new thing for me, when I was pregnant with my son I was still in my obese, pre-runner days. I can say with confidence that I never exercised a single time during that pregnancy.

Quick down and dirty on how this happened and then back to the race: (Ok, not really … you know HOW it happened) but …

On December 9th, I finally bit the bullet and did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but never worked the nerve up to do until then. I went for a consultation with a Plastic Surgeon to see about having some post weightloss “work” done. He asked me about plans to have any future children and I told him the truth that Tim and I have been trying on and off for about 5 years to have another baby, but that after being on fertility meds, having surgery to clear out blocked fallopian tubes and a miscarriage that it just wasn’t happening for us. But I couldn’t promise that it would never happen.

Two days later I was ready to schedule my surgery and was about to take a large sum of money out of the bank, but before I did that I decided on a whim to take a pregnancy test … an lo and behold, it was positive.

I’m 12 weeks 3 days pregnant right now, I was just over 10 weeks when I ran the Louisiana Half. I had already decided a long time ago to run the race with Tim this year, but with the news it worked out just perfectly because I didn’t feel up to going all out anyway.

On race morning Drew, Lauren, Tim and I rode the free shuttle bus from our hotel to the start. We all gathered in the gear check building to keep warm before time to head to the starting line.

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I have no idea why Tim is tickling Drew’s ear in the above picture.

Anyway …

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The race was a blast as usual, and running with Tim was very comfortable … for the most part. There was that once when I had to stop and pee and then almost slung my uterus out of my body running a stupid-fast pace trying to catch back up to him. Uteruses are heavy.

Anyway again …

We crossed the finish line together in 2:11:something, a new PR for Tim!

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We immediately headed the the VIP tent (one of the perks at Louisiana for being a member of Half Fanatics). The tent is full of fancy food, all kinds of alcoholic beverages, massage tables, a big screen TV broadcasting the finish line, etc.

I have to admit I was a tiny bit bitter that I couldn’t take advantage of the bottle of free wine, mimosas, beer and bloody mary’s. But I made sure to make up for it in food and CAKE BALLS…

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We relaxed for a little while under the tent and watched the live finish line feed, until the time got close for Drew to be finishing. Then we headed over to watch him finally BOSTON QUALIFY!

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That is a big deal, my friends!

A successful weekend all the way around, I’d say. Hopefully we can find a way to make it happen again next year!

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Filed under Half Marathon, Pregnancy, Races

Chickamauga Half Marathon ‘13

Me: 2 – Chickamauga: 1

Finally I’m in the lead! Chickamauga and I had a rough start. In 2011 I had my worst run to date in Ft Oglethorpe, Georgia at Chickamauga Battlefield. You know, the one where I got lost in the rain storm and ended up on the highway after getting chased by a pit bull, and then ran 12+ mile on a hotel treadmill. Yes, I’m still a little bit bitter.

Last year I ran a PR race at Chickamauga and got my revenge.

On Friday morning Tim, Lincoln and I headed up to Chattanooga/Ft Oglethorpe. The race itself is in Georgia, but its just over the border from Tennessee. On the way up, we stopped in Birmingham for lunch at Whole Foods. I love their hot bar, but it can become very expensive very quickly. This time we decided to try out the restaurant.

I ordered the Salmon with Warm Farro Salad.

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And Lincoln was happy because they had pizza.

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I didn’t realize it at the time, but Whole Foods discourages tipping in their restaurants since they already pay their employees fair wages. Nice to know!

We arrived in Georgia around 5pm Eastern and headed to the packet pick-up. Chickamauga doesn’t have much an an expo per se, so it was a quick in and out stop before we headed over to our hotel in Chattanooga.

After unpacking and settling in, we met up with Drew and headed out to dinner. We ended up at Big River Grille, the food was “meh” but a good time was had.

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On race morning I woke up exceptionally early. I remembered that last year the traffic going into the battlefield was backed up and I was nervous about getting to the start on time. This year I made sure that I could leisurely get ready and drive to the start to find parking with no extra anxiety. As a matter of fact we ended up arriving more than an hour and a half before the start of the race. Thankfully McQueens can sleep anywhere.

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The morning was cold and dark. The thermometer in the car read 32 degrees and there was ice in the grass as I trekked over to use the porto-potty with only the light of my cellphone as my guide.

During the quiet time in the car before the race started, I spent a few minutes pondering my “goal” for the day. I knew that a PR race wasn’t within my reach this year. The only training I’ve done in the last 9 months or so was for a marathon distance. Longer, slower running. Even the speedwork for a marathon is not the pace that is necessary to excel at a Half Marathon distance.

I decided that I would take this opportunity to concentrate on my pacing and to work on consistency, and finishing the last few miles strong. I aimed specifically to finish in 1:45 because when I looked at the 21 previous Half Marathons that I have run, my average pace is approximately that.

Eventually the sun came up and everyone started making their way to the starting line. I waited until the very last minute to hop out of my warm car, rushed over and picked my spot in the crowd just before the race got underway.

Chickamauga start

The first 2 miles or so I didn’t even bother looking at my Garmin to check my pace. My feet were numb from the cold and the crowd was pretty tight, so I knew I just needed to go with the flow for a little while before I locked in on my target of an 8 minute pace. I was surprised when I looked at my splits later and realized that even these first couple of miles were right on… 8:04 and 7:51.

I remembered from the previous year how incredibly beautiful this course was, the wildlife, the monuments, the gorgeous fall colors … what I didn’t remember and was quickly reminded of around the 4th mile were the very rolling hills and the camber of the road in places. Still I managed to stay pretty consistent through the next several miles … 7:55, 8:04, 7:45, 8:01, 8:01.

Miles 8-10 went by in a blur. I tried to make myself look around and enjoy the scenery, look for deer in the distance of the open fields, enjoy the cold air on my face but all I really wanted to do was focus on the music blaring in my ears and watch the ground 3 feet infront of my body. So I let myself do that. 7:54, 7:52, 8:03.

At mile 10 I was really ready to be done. My feet, legs and hands were freezing cold but my chest and my head were on fire. It was a weird sensation that I didn’t like. I wanted to take my outer long sleeve shirt off, but I had attached my bib to it, so I just rolled up my sleeves and tried to make-do. I lifted my cap off my head a little to let some cold air in and that helped some. I still just wanted to be done.

I tried to run faster, but was only able to pick it up slightly. I felt some satisfaction in catching up to and passing a couple of runners who had blown past me miles back. The last few miles felt like forever, but finally I hit the corner of Barnhardt circle, the very last stretch around the loop where the race first started. 7:48, 7:47, 7:45

And just like that it was over! My official time was 1:44:24. Overall it was a really solid run for me that I was proud of.

We stuck around and ate some Chickamauga special Banana Pudding and Chicken Noodle Soup, let Lincoln play in the grass with the other kids, and then watched the reenactors fire the cannon as the first marathoner finished before heading out to Blue Plate for lunch.

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I would definitely recommend Chickamauga to anyone looking for great Fall Marathon or Half Marathon in the Southeast with lots of beautiful scenery and historical significance. Because of the small size of the race, it sells out quickly so jump on it in March when registration becomes available.

Next up: Louisiana Half Marathon on January 19th.

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Country Music Half Marathon & Hero for Heroes CrossFit Competition

I haven’t written anything in over 2 months because that time has just big one big cluster of suck. You know how your momma taught you “if you can’t say anything nice …”? Yeah.

On April 27th, I completed my 21st Half Marathon in Nashville at the Country Music Marathon and Half. You might remember that last year I did the full marathon and had an amazing experience. I felt great, I did great … I was looking forward to having a blast again this year minus the extra 13.1 miles.

In reality this happened:

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Cold, blindingly hard rain from the very beginning through the very end that never let up. I couldn’t even lift my face up without being absolutely pelted.

From the start of the race I could tell that due to my previous injury and recovery time, that I hadn’t quite built back up my cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. It was taking more effort than is typical for me to run a very modest race pace. At about mile 6.5 I started having similar pain that I experience in my calf at the Georgia Half, but it was in the opposite leg. THIS DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE!

At that point I was frustrated, but refused to be defeated. I walked and ran back and forth between the two and was able to ultimately cross the finish line, with a time of: 1:54:35! My worst half marathon time to date.

The good: I got to spend the weekend hanging out with one of my best friends, his girlfriend and my family. Lots of fun was had!

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I left Tennessee with a sense of not knowing where I stood with running though. And I didn’t like it.

Over the next several weeks, I cut way back on my running which was causing pain and stuck to only doing low impact cardio such as the elliptical and biking. I also continued to do CrossFit up to 3 times a week.

On May 18th, I took part in my very first CrossFit Competition called Hero 4 Heroes.  The first workout of the day was called “Danny”: As Many Rounds as Possible in 20 minutes of – 30 box jumps, 20 Push Press, 30 Pull-Ups (or Ring Rows).

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It was INTENSE!

The 2nd WOD (only a few minutes later) was out on the field. “Brenton” is 100ft bear crawl, 100ft broad jumps back – for every 5 broad jump do 3 burpees. All of this x 5 rounds.

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Even more intense. Maybe. I still can’t decide.

I had a great time at the competition even though it was very intense, I enjoyed pushing myself and being around super competitive but supportive people.

I tied for fourth place in my division.

The next morning after the competition, I woke up and could barely walk. Not only because I was so sore, but because my left calf was swollen to almost twice its original size. The muscle and even the skin on my leg hurt to touch. I spent most of last week resting, going back and forth to doctor’s appointments and popping Ibuprofen.

Things have settled down now, my leg pain is gone (hopefully for good, but we’ll see) and I’ve started working my running mileage back up. I started with only 1 mile at a time, did that twice … then went up to 2 miles, etc. Now I’m back up to 3 miles and hoping to increase a little faster from here. Chicago is still 5 months away, but its time to start getting serious about training!

I’m looking forward with positivity and excitement!

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Filed under Competitions, CrossFit, Half Marathon, pictures

Louisiana Half Marathon 2013

Yesterday Tim and I ran in the 2nd annual Louisiana Half Marathon. This was one of my absolute favorite races last year, which is quite a compliment for an inaugural race. I knew this year was bound to be even better!

It did not disappoint.

Last year we made this a family trip to visit some of Tim’s relatives in Baton Rouge. We brought Lincoln and Tim’s mom along. This year we did things differently and left the family at home and had a weekend to ourselves.

It’s about a 6 hour drive from Montgomery to Baton Rouge, but I found ways to entertain myself.

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We stopped in Mandeville, Louisiana to eat lunch at our favorite breakfast place, the original Broken Egg Cafe. I’ve been to several Another Broken Egg locations, but none of them are as good as the original.

I had the Chicken Cobb Salad.

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In the words of my friend Barb, call this “Paleo-light” because of the inclusion of the bleu cheese, but my god I just couldn’t bring myself to utter the words “no bleu cheese”. I just couldn’t.

After lunch we got back on the road and headed straight to the Expo at the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino & Hotel.

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If I could improve upon one thing about this race it would be the expo. It has tons of vendors, but they are packed into a small space which makes things very crowded. Unfortunately …  I had to pee, and even more unfortunately the bathrooms were on the exact opposite side of the expo and no one was moving!

We checked into our hotel room and decided to go out and walk around downtown before our dinner reservations, but somehow we found ourselves in the hotel bar instead. Gah! I know, I know.

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We did eventually make it to our dinner reservation at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. I don’t typically like chain restaurants, but because this one had such amazing reviews I decided it was worth a try.

I’m not kidding when I say that this may have very well been the best meal of my entire life, or atleast in the top 3.

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14 oz NY strip (aged for 27 days, apparently this matters), brussel sprouts and mushrooms. Sounds simple, but it was magical .. I swear.

Fast forward >>> Race morning.

Because of all the special perks Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs received at this race I thought I might wear my HF tank top. My bib number was also my Half Fanatic member number.

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I found the Maniacs and Fanatics at the gear check just in time to jump into the group picture.

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I decided a couple of days in advance that I was definitely going to race this one to the best of my ability. The weather forecast and the mostly flat course were just too perfect not to see what I could do.

Whenever I need extra motivation I draw things on  my hands and arms to look at during long runs or races to keep me inspired. This day I kept it very simple …

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I felt like it would be damn near impossible, but I figured if it was ever going to happen it was going to be on this course with sunny beautiful 40 degree weather.

I knew from last year that my Garmin read about 13.22 miles at the finish line so that meant I’d have to maintain a 7:34 overall pace.

The first mile was really really crowded so I was surprised to see a 7:36 split when my Garmin chirped. The crowd thinned out quickly after that intial mile though and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.

7:36, 7:36, 7:31, 7:36

The first several miles I really didn’t feel so great. My back was hurting, my toes were numb, my shorts kept slipping down and I just felt generally heavy. My pace stayed consistent though, so I pressed on.

7:32, 7:33, 7:30, 7:33

I got lost in thought for these middle miles. I thought about everything from stuff I had looked at on Pinterest to Jenn Shelton running marathons in funny swimsuits. Just in case you were wondering …

Jenn Shelton - Pear Yep. Badass bitch.

Anyway …

7:30, 7:29, 7:42

At mile 10.5 I checked my overall pace for the first time remembering that I had to be at or below 7:34 … it said 7:33. At first I was ecstatic, and then I realized that was a little too close for comfort.

I ran the last 2 miles as fast as my legs would carry me.

7:31, 7:27.

When I came around the final turn I saw the clock and knew that I would make it, barely.

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After I crossed the finish line and figured out my sense of direction I booked it back to the hotel room as quickly as I could to change shoes and grab my phone so that I could take pictures of Tim as he finished.

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He also PR-ed!

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The after race party at Louisiana is like no other!

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King cake, wine and mimosa (plus beer), local gourmet food, live jazz bands.

This race goes on the permanent “to do” list!

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Filed under Half Marathon, Personal Record, Races

Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon

I’ll start this blog the way I seem to start just about every race blog I write.

I ran my 15th Half Marathon on Saturday.

I didn’t go into this race with very high hopes. I went in with no expectations at all actually. I gained 6 pounds while I was at Disney World and I’ve been on a carb-restrictive diet for a week. I had no idea how those 2 things would affect my performance so I decided to just have a good time, enjoy spending time with my friends and be happy with whatever the outcome was. I also knew though that I wanted to try my best, whatever my best was at that time.

Chickamauga still haunts me a little bit since what is to date my very worst run ever happened there also. The one where I got lost in a rainstorm, chased by a pitbull and somehow ended up on the interstate. I ended up running 12+ miles on a hotel treadmill that day.

Saturday morning was coooooold. It was less than 40 degrees before the start of the race. We walked around and took some pictures to pass the time before the race started.

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Finally at 7:30 the cannon fired (actual real life cannon … super awesome!) and we got going. What a freakin’ gorgeous morning!

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My feet were so numb to start that it felt really weird to run on them, and my shorts were slipping down a lot … I kept having to hike them back up. Minor annoyances though. I was totally in awe of the beautiful scenery and focused on how freaking fantastic I felt.

7:53, 7:42, 7:29, 7:34

Somewhere around mile 4 I overheard something that stuck out in my mind for a while. Someone cheering on the sidelines yelled to her runner friend, “Your pace is right where it needs to be. Now just fall asleep”.

For some reason I fixated on that thought. The thought of “falling asleep” or mentally checking out while running. It has happened to me on a few occasions where I felt like I literally “lost” miles, but not often and not really ever in a race. But guess what? While fixating on the thought of it … it happened.

7:43, 7:43, 7:40, 7:39

At mile 9ish, I woke up. I saw the 1:40 Pace Leader not too far ahead of me and did a mental “WTF!  You serious? 1:40 pacer? For real?”

Then the math started. “Mile 10 … I have 3.1 left to run, if I can hold atleast a 8 minute pace I’ll be done in about 25 minutes or less … what is 25 minutes from now?” … “1:40! Nooooo”…

“Ok, 2 miles left to go, if I can hold 8’s I have 16 minutes left … what will that make my time? 1:41?” Holy crap.

This is what I usually do in my mind for most races. Almost the whole race. I concentrated on where I could push a little harder on the flats and downhills and where I needed back off a bit.

7:42, 7:36, 7:48

I knew at this point unless something catastrophic happened there was no way that I wasn’t going to PR. My current PR was 1:42:20.

Once I realized that, I went balls to the wall trying to see exactly how far under that I could manage.

7:36, 6:42.

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My official chip time ended up being 1:40:57!

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Once James and Kaitlin finished their Full Marathon we headed out for some much need food.

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What a great day! I definitely felt like Chickamauga owed me something after my disastrous run there last Fall. I guess we are even now.

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Sylaward Trail Half Marathon

Today I ran my 14th Half Marathon and my very first trail race! I haven’t spent very much time at all running trails, but the few times I have done it I absolutely loved it.

My friend Barbara and I headed up to Sylacauga, Alabama early this morning for this race at the trails around Lake Howard. We ended up making much better time than we thought with the drive and then had over an hour to wait for the race to start. It was 40 degrees, which felt painfully cold so we sat in the car with the heater on until the very last second before the race started.

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We did get to watch a beautiful sunrise over the water while we waited.

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The race was very small, there were only about 35 entrants. Apparently that’s pretty normal for a trail race from what I’m told.

The race started and I immediately knew that this was going to be a pretty technical trail. I was under the impression that it was much easier than the trail I run close to home, but to me it actually seemed very similar. Tons of rocks, roots, pine cones and other obstacles to navigate.

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The plan was to take it easy and just enjoy ourselves.

With so few people in the race it wasn’t long before it was just Barbara and I together with no one else in sight ahead or behind us. At about mile 3.5 I slipped in some mud and fell pretty hard and landed on my hip. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt and was able to keep going. Then just a few minutes later Barbara took a big fall. She tried to brace herself and ended up pulling her hamstring pretty badly. She tried to jog a little bit, but the pain was too severe so she urged me to go ahead while she walked the race. I didn’t want to leave her, and had a hard time making myself do so but she told me in no uncertain terms to go. I ran ahead to the next aid station and asked a volunteer to check on her.

I kept going alone and I never saw another person until about mile 8, when I came up on a girl that had passed us when the fall happened. I ran behind her for about a mile, but right on her heels. I think it was kinda weird for both of us … I couldn’t decide if I wanted to get ahead of her and feel pressured to go faster or stick behind her and run slower than I knew I could. Finally I asked her to let me pass and she did.

The most of the rest of the race it was just me and the woods. I paid a lot of attention to my footing and thankfully didn’t have any more falls.

My finishing time was 2:08:04 and I was the 1st Female Winner!

The awards were the coolest I have ever seen for any race, I got this handmade quilt!

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I got word after the race that Barbara was ok and was walking the race still. She wouldn’t accept a ride back and didn’t DNF. Total trooper!

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I had such a blast! If it wasn’t for the fear of falling and injuring myself I’d love to run trails all the time. Once this next marathon is over I may very well do that.

After lunch Quilt and I took a nice looong nap together.

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Two More Half Marathons

The past few weeks have been very busy. I completed 2 more half marathons since I last blogged.

The first of the two was Scenic City Half Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee on February 25th and then the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 4th.

The hubby and I ran the Scenic City Half together. I decided in advance that I wanted to run this race with him at his pace, but I didn’t let him know until the beginning of the race.

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One of the main reasons I chose to do this race is because a friend of mine, Crystal,  from high school  posted on Facebook that she was doing it. We’ve only seen each other once in the past 13 years or so, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch-up again.

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Unfortunately, Tim became injured during the race (IT band issues) and we ended up walking about half of the distance.

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I really enjoyed the race course at Scenic City, but I thought it could have been more clearly marked. There were a few places on the course where the turns were not obvious. The course itself was relatively flat and lived up to its scenic name.

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(source)

Lincoln was able to join us and walked/ran/got carried the last mile of the race.

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All 3 McQueens crossed the finish line together.

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Finishing this race with both of my boys and being there for Tim when he was hurting made this race special for me.

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A week later we traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. This was a fun trip with a ton of runner friends. Friday night was spent playing on Bourbon Street. Waaay too much playing.

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Saturday I still had to pay for my sins by completing my scheduled 8 mile training run. Thankfully it wasn’t completely miserable and helped me recover from the night before, although it was on the treadmill.

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Saturday night was spent having dinner with 13 friends at Court of Two Sisters.

And then was race day.

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This was easily the largest race I’ve ever been in with approximately 25,000 runners. The weather was cool and sunny. Pretty perfect.

With so many runners this race was crowded from start to finish. The roads were uneven and potholed. It certainly wasn’t a race to take seriously. But the bands at each mile, the crowd and the friends I ran with made it fun.

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Duane and I finished together in 1:46:17.

After the race we all met back up for breakfast at the hotel and then headed our separate ways.

After New Orleans I applied for the Half Fanatics. I met the criteria to be a Saturn Level fanatic by completing 4 Half Marathons in 36 days. (criteria)

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Next up is the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Pensacola Beach, Florida on April 15th.

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Filed under Half Marathon, pictures, Races