Mar 28, 2017

Race for Women's Wellness Half Marathon Recap

I have been looking for half marathons since I signed up for the Walt Disney World Full Marathon. I'm gonna need a half for proof of time for that race. Now, races between now and POT deadline, are few and far between, cause Florida and summer. But I stumbled across this race in Coral Springs. I had nothing going on that weekend, but I didn't sign up until after I did an 8 miler a couple of weeks ago. Once I did that run, and felt OK, I signed up.

This race is in Coral Springs, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away. Not too bad of a drive. And the race began at 6am. This made for an almost-Disney style wakeup, but it meant running before the sun was up, so I'll take it. I left my house at about 4:20am and turned on my Waze to get me to the Coral Springs Sports Complex.

I got there in about 45 minutes. Since packet pickup was also in Coral Springs, I just grabbed my bib on race day morning. I went to the registration table and got my bib, shirt, bag, and water bottle. Then I headed back to the car to drop this all off and chill a bit before hitting up the port-o-potties and heading to the start.

When I walking towards the port-o-potties, I noticed some blue ones and pink ones, and went to get in line for the blue ones. Turned out the blue ones were for the men, and the pink for the women.... and the women's line was shorter! There were tons more available for the ladies. Plus they were huge and even flushed. There were even some nice ladies making sure the port-o-potties stayed clean too. Um, more races need to get on this. It made the early morning port-o-potty stop a little better.

Soon enough they said the half people should start lining up. I went into the chute and hung out next to the 2:40 pacer. They played the National Anthem, and at about 6:02, we were off. It was dark out there and coolish with a little breeze. I was wearing my arm sleeves, so I didn't have to wear a jacket. This way I would be able to slip them off, since I knew I'd be warm a few miles in.

I started off with my 5 minute warmup, and that made me the 3rd from last person. I was kinda freaking out. Would I be able to pass people, or was I the slowest one here? I made it out the front of the Sportsplex and as soon as I turned right, I was at mile 1. It seemed like that first mile was super fast. And then mile 2 came before I knew it.

And this is when the rain started. The rain wasn't terrible, but it was there. I was getting wet, and just hoping it wouldn't be like this for the whole race. Luckily, it was just a South Florida storm, and was gone in a few minutes. It did come back every now and then throughout the rest of the race though.

I was getting a little warm, so a little before mile 3 I took off my arm sleeves. Thankfully the pockets in my sparkle skirt were plenty big enough to hold them. I was consciously taking it easy. I know I could have gone faster at this point, but I wanted to save some juice for the end.

The course was weaving through the neighborhoods of Coral Springs. Nothing too interesting. And since the start was at 6am, those first few miles were dark. I remember turning a corner into one neighborhood and the red and blue lights from the cop car on the corner was the only light there was. I kept going, I was feeling pretty good, and listening to the new Mindy Kaling book to keep me entertained and laughing.

The sun started to come up, which made everything a little more visible. At mile 8, we ran through a high school parking lot. The volunteers had tons of energy and were so fun. When I headed out, I hit mile 9 a little after. I took my chews now, and somehow managed to bite the inside of my cheek while chewing them. Damn, that hurt. Guess I was concentrating on the running...

At about mile 9.5, I saw that 2:40 pacer in the distance. I hadn't seen her since the start line, so it was a welcome surprise to see that little sign. I figured I didn't need to pass her, but as long as she was a little in front of me I had a chance for a PR. I kept chugging along with the pacer as my bullseye. I soon passed mile 10, and a little after, I passed the pacer! She passed me during a walk interval, but a few intervals passed, she was behind me for good.

Once I passed her, I wanted to make sure she stayed behind me, so I picked up the pace. I started going a little faster, and even ran through a water stop while still drinking my water. Somehow the miles that seemed to come so fast in the beginning seemed to take so long now. I know it's cause I wanted that finish line so bad. Mile 12 was eternal, but soon enough we were turning into the Sportsplex.

The 5k runners started mixing in at this point too. It was getting a little crowded, I just wanted to not run into a stroller, or have a 5k walker slow me down. I was able to weave around a few of them and saw the finish. I gave it all I have left and sprinted to the finish. With the pacer no where in sight, I knew I had my PR!

Cold towels and cold water and my medal were waiting for me at the finish. I also grabbed some food, cause I was hungry! I waited to get a post race pic, hit the bathroom, and then headed to the car. This is when I checked the results, and saw my final time 2:35:01! I killed my last PR. So freaking crazy! About 8 minutes better than last month.

I took a look at my splits too. They were pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. Easy and steady at the start, then I picked up the speed at the end.

This was a great race to PR in. It was small, only about 400 people in the half, very flat, and though it was a little boring, since it was through the neighborhoods, it was kinda like my weekend long run, which made it comfortable for me. And I liked the early dark start. It sucked getting up so early, but it definitely made the run in March in Florida way easier than 13 miles in full sun.

Mar 10, 2017

Best Damn Race Orlando 10k Recap

There is a race series in Central Florida called Best Damn Race. They started a couple of years ago, and they have a rolling registration. The first few people get in the race for $1, the next bunch for $5, and so on. Kris did this 10k last year, and raved about it. So when registration day came we were ready to see how fast we could snag our spots. We ended up getting the 10k for $30! Not to bad at all.

Now we registered for this race last year, when we decided we would only do 10ks... hahahaha. We also forgot that Eddie was doing this race with us too. So we all got to run this one together too. And Kris's coach from OTF, Bev, joined in on the fun too.

It was a chilly morning in Orlando on race day. It was another long sleeve race. We parked at Eddie's office and walked the few blocks back to the race start. It was a cold walk. On the way we met up with Bev, and all headed to drop our bag and make a pit stop before the race start.

We lined up and were off. The race ran through downtown Orlando. I've done plenty of Orlando races, but none in downtown Orlando. It was really nice. The only thing is the brick streets. Some of the streets downtown are brick, guess they were trying to be fancy. You just have to watch your footing a bit. But after the wonky-ass streets of NOLA, this was no big deal.

It was definitely colder than during Rn'R New Orleans. It was hard at the beginning cause of the cold. My legs needed to get moving and really warm up. Once we got to about mile 2 and everything was warmer it was much better. I did tape up my knee before the race, but was feeling good. No issues there. 

It was also kind of windy, so it made it a little colder. And made for some headwinds on some of the turns. Coming up the chute to the finish line there was a nasty headwind. It sucked. But soon enough it was all done.

We finished and collected our medals. On our way out of the finishing area, we saw the half medals. They were immense. We decided then and there, it needs to be the half next year. Cause big bling is better bling... LOL

And here is where a good race turned into a great race, even the best damn race if you will, the post-race festivities! First the food. There was the usual bananas, oranges, and cookies. They had some masa real, totally random, but I brought some home for Grandma. And here's the best part, they had pizza. Fresh pizza!

Pizza after a race at 8:15am? Why the hell not. It was delicious.

We snacked on some almond butter bites, smoothies, frozen fruit bars, plus fruit and the pizza. Then we decided to go over to the beer garden.

I figured there would be the regular Michelob Ultra in the beer area. But no, there was also hard cider, hard root beer, and hard cream soda. I can have like 2 sips of a Michelob Ultra and then I'm over it. But the cider was great. And then besides the beer, was a bar. They were serving vodka lemonades and bloody marys.

Who am I to say no to something free. I had to have a celebratory drink or two. I couldn't not try the lemonade. LOL! After we finished our drinks, we headed to get our free massages. You heard me right, FREE massages for everyone. The line wasn't too long, and my massage therapist was amazing. She worked miracles.

And after we took full advantage of all that the race had to offer, we headed down the street to meet up some more friends for brunch at The Stubborn Mule. Great food and great friends. It was so much fun.

I can not say enough good things about the Best Damn Race. I'll totally be back next year for all of the best damn-ness. I emailed them to ask about a possibility any South Florida Best Damn Races, but they are scared of the heat. Come on people...

Mar 6, 2017

Rock n' Roll New Orleans:The weekend

Now that the running was done, it was time to explore New Orleans and all that food!

After the race, we headed to one of Kris and I's favorite spots from last time we went to New Orleans, The Cameila Grill. It was time for ridiculous omelettes and coffee. Which so hit the spot after 13.1 miles.

We walked around for a bit, and then, hungry again, we got some more coffee and beignets. So good. This little place had a cute little courtyard to sit in and we did and enjoyed the breeze and the coffee. And those beignets!

We went back to the hotel, cause running makes you tired, and started watching the Super Bowl. It was Super Bowl Sunday after all. Before halftime we headed to the hotel bar to get our complimentary drinks and watch Lady Gaga. Cause that's really what the whole show was all about anyways, right?

After Gaga, we headed out to grab a slice on Bourbon Street and walked around. We hit up the voodoo shop, and wandered through a bunch of art galleries. It's so cool how you can find so many things wandering up and down the streets.

The next morning we were able to sleep in and be lazy for a bit. We looked up a new place for brunch and it was around the corner, so we walked on over to the Fleur de Lis Cafe. This place was packed. We put our name on the list, and checked out a little boutique down the block. Which had the most adorable vintage-y stuff. I could have lived in that store.

We got called back to the restaurant, and were seated. Kris and I got strawberry mimosas. They were ridiculously good. Ed got an Irish coffee that was very heavy on the Irish. Breakfast was just delicious. The grits were outta hand, the biscuit was flaky, and mouth-watering pancakes. Yeah, my goal on vacation is just to eat.

We went back to the boutique and tried on all of the dresses. I wanted to take so many home, but got myself a cute hat and some new sunnies.

Next, we were off to Jackson Square to check out the cathedral, the river, and the French Market.

We saw all of the artists in front of the church and walked around to look at the park, the river, and then we made a stop at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets. I mean you have to make a stop right?! Plus at this time it's a little less crowded than it is for breakfast.

We walked off our beingets walking around the streets of the French Quarter just checking out all of the houses. It's just so pretty around there. Everything is so pretty, I love it.

And most of the places were all decked out for Mardi Gras. I loved all the decorations.

We decided we needed to take a street car ride, so that's what we did. We rode the St. Charles line all the way til they kicked us out, then rode it back.

It was nice seeing all of the area that we had run the day before on a street car and not on foot. Man, we ran a long way.

We came back and changed for our night out. We headed to dinner at The Gumbo Shop. It was delicious. We stuffed our little faces with all sorts of New Orleans deliciousness. I had shrimp creole, jambalaya, and crawfish etoufee. It was so delicious. And did I mention bread pudding with whiskey sauce for dessert? Just too good.

After dinner, we headed to Preservation Hall. I had heard about this place on the Foo Fighters series on HBO. I knew Dave Grohl has been there, so I figured we should check it out. And we had to see some live jazz while we were in New Orleans. It was such a cool old building, that seriously looked like it was (well actually was) falling apart. Very New Orleans.

Our last day, we planned to check out the cemeteries and then grab some lunch before calling for the Uber back to the airport. We got up and headed towards the cemetery, only to get caught in a huge thunderstorm. We didn't think much of that or the tornado warnings, cause #florida. The rain let up a bit and we were going to cross the street to go to the cemetery, but some people were leaving telling us it was closed. Boo. That really sucked.

We headed towards Jackson Square to get Kris her mufaletta before we left. We also grabbed some cans of wine, cause you can drink in the street, and we needed to do that.

As we walked back towards the hotel, the rain started again. It was bad. We snuck into a coffee shop for a second, and were finally able to walk back to the hotel. Ed and I got po'boys and we ate as we waited for our uber driver. (Total fail, this was the only food I didn't take a pic of!)

And that was our whirlwind trip to New Orleans, to run, eat, and see the sights. I did have another run to my connecting flight home, but it wasn't nearly as tight as it was on the way there.

Another race in another state is in the books. It was a super fun racecation!

Feb 28, 2017

Rock n' Roll New Orleans: The race

I don't know how we ended up deciding on doing the Rock n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, but we were registered and ready to go before I knew it. We decided to fly (cause no one wants to drive that long after running 13.1). This would be me & Kris's 10th half marathon (that's counting the half of a half that was last year's Wine & Dine), and this time Eddie bit the bullet and was gonna run all 13.1 too, his first half.

At long last the day arrived and Mom and Pop took me to the airport. I had a quick layover in Atlanta, where I'd meet up with Kris & Ed and then we'd head off to New Orleans. My first flight went good. And then when we arrived, they shuffled, and shuffled, and shuffled the gate, and made us really late. Atlanta is a HUGE airport and I RAN (after taking the shuttle to the correct concourse) to catch my next flight. I literally ran to my gate, but I made it. I think I was the second to last person on the flight.

We finally landed in New Orleans, and I waited for Kris and Eddie to get off the plane, where we hugged, and set off for a great weekend in the Big Easy.

Since we got to New Orleans on Saturday morning, and dropped our bags at our hotel and headed to the expo. We were able to walk there, which was great. We were hungry, but wanted to grab our bibs first. We got our bibs and some pics. We shopped around a bit, but we were getting hangry, so we headed out and started walking back.

Eddie had a recommendation to go to Mother's and our uber driver from the airport agreed on that too. We stopped at Mother's for lunch. OMG, what deliciousness. Our uber driver recommended the roast beef po' boy. And that's what Kris and I got. Amazing, seriously it's all about the debris. So freaking good.

We headed back to the hotel to get our room and rest a little. We also got our race gear ready.

After some rest, we headed out for an early drink and some dinner. We also found a cute little place for a coffee, before we headed back to get some sleep before the race.

And as always, that race morning wakeup came all too soon. We were all dressed up and headed out to the start. It wasn't too far a walk there from the hotel. And the great thing about race morning, is that the only ones out there are the runners, so just follow them and you'll get there.

I had on a long sleeve top, but had a tank underneath, cause I knew I'd only need the sleeves for a little bit. It was chilly for me.

We waited for what seemed like nothing (and I really mean that, not the loooong wait times like at runDisney), and the corrals started going off. About 30 seconds to 1 minute in between. Loved that! Soon enough corral 17 was off and running.

We ran through the central business district, around the circle and up St. Charles Street with all the big houses. It was so close to Mardi Gras that the houses were all decorated already. The houses were amazing and they really go all out on the decor. By about mile 3, I was hot, so I took of my long sleeves, tied it around my waist and ran in my tank. So much better. I was feeling good and it was a little cool-ish, which made it all the better.

We did a tour of the Catholic schools on the course. First the elementary. Then we passed the high school, which looked like one of those movie schools with a really old building. I half expected to see nuns crossing with rows of uniformed kids behind them. Then we hit the college, Loyola. Just gorgeous. One of those old campuses that looked like it has been there forever, has tons of traditions, and too many secret societies. LOL

Here was the turn around and we headed back up to the St. Charles circle and cut through another part of town. All along the course there were different bands playing which was super cool. Had to get a pic of these guys killing it on the bagpipes.

Now we headed towards Jackson Square. We ran right between the square and the river, and could see St. Louis cathedral. And the super long line at Cafe Du Monde first thing in the morning.

We headed through more of the French Quarter, full of more bands, Mardi Gras decorations, and we were holding a pretty good pace. My hip, which had been acting up since before Christmas was bothering a bit, but doing pretty ok. I always seem to struggle a bit after mile 10, so I thought nothing of it.

We headed out of the French Quarter and headed to the park, and the finish line. Right before we headed in, my IT band was screaming. I guess that's what I get for not taping it. Soon enough we were heading into the park for that last 1.1 mile. I was a little hobbly with my IT band pain, but dammit we were almost done.

As usual, we saw the finish and ran all the way there. But this time it was definitely more of a sprint. And it did its job, cause BOOM, half marathon PR... 2:43:17!

With that we got the bling, some snacks and sat to eat and chill for a sec. Then we headed over to get our beer, saw the headlining band, and headed to the shuttles back to the start.

The shuttles were so well organized. We were on a bus before we knew it. Then back to the hotel for showers, cause damn, that gross stinkiness.... and out to get more food and explore the town.