Final thoughts leading up to #roadto26.2

With a big sigh of relief I can say “Training is officially done”.
Today I plan to do some ab work at home and lots of stretching.

Sunday morning I ran a good 8 miles and while everything was fresh in my head as far as race prep and gear I went ahead and packed that afternoon. I also made my list of last minute to-do’s such as to pack my bread/honey, cell phone charger, rolling stick etc. I got some clothes options together for my first Full.
Race Gear Prep

Tuesday I got in 4 miles which would be my last since this morning I woke up with tired, achy legs. They simply have had enough. Time for them to rest since they have a lot of work to do soon. The weather stalking has officially begun and I hate to say it but it’s not looking that good.
Every time I look at its different. Right now it’s looking like 40% chance rain and 66 degrees for the high. Not exactly what I trained for. Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

Rain will NOT make me a happy runner!

Rain will NOT make me a happy runner!

I did get some awesome news. Competitor announced yesterday Deena Kastor, will compete in her first race of 2014 on Feb. 2 at the 5th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. She will be running the Half plus she will be speaking at the Expo this Saturday. I MUST meet her. I am beyond excited to hear this surprise announcement just day after RNR announced they were bringing back their Elite program.
For more on this announcement and who Deena Kastor is: http://running.competitor.com/2014/01/news/deena-kastor-to-headline-rock-n-roll-new-orleans_94282

Then it got better! I was chatting online with my friend Karen about possibly running with the Louisiana Running Company pace group. I was thinking about falling right behind the 4:30 group (though that may be ambitious and I have never ran with a pace group). Anything under a sub 5hr finish I will be happy with but a 4:40-4:45 will be even better. My friend Karen who is also running the Full messaged me “Let’s do the 4:30 together!!!!”. Ummmmm nerves set in. Karen runs a bit faster than me but I know for her long runs she turns it down a bit. I think this will be her 5th Full and she is definitely familiar with the #RNRNOLA course since she has run it every year so that would help. So why not! If I can’t hang the whole way I’ll just turn her loose. Runners have that mutual respect for each other. They don’t want to bring the other down. I am excited to have Karen by my side and we will work on a plan to meet up on race morning.
By the way she wrote a great post on her blog on packing for a race check it out here: http://www.justmeandmyrunningshoes.com/2014/01/destination-race-packing-list-non-flight.html

My custom shirt came in Monday afternoon from One More Mile!! The color and fit was perfect. I was over the moon excited! I also ordered some magenta Zensah calf sleeves off of Amazon that came in the same day. They matched perfect. You can’t see it too well but I am also wearing some gold #shwings on my shoes.(You can see them better in the race gear pic above) Maybe they will make me go faster? I don’t know but anything to get me to that Finish line on Sunday so I can call myself a ‘Marathoner’!

FINISH STRONG #roadto26.2

FINISH STRONG #roadto26.2


I am already anticipating a fantastic, energizing race recap blog post next week and YES there will be pictures!

Any last minute advice for me as I conquer my first Full this weekend?
BTW: I did setup Runner Tracking for Sunday’s race on my Twitter @ndeckerrunner and on my personal Facebook page so you can follow along. My personal friends are welcome to text me along the way. #roadto 26.2 winding down

Thank you for following along on this journey.

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Maranoia

The countdown has started. Its 10 days out and I feel the butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I don’t doubt the work I have put in. I have no serious injuries going into next weekend’s race just a mild case of tendonitis in my right foot but the anxiety has definitely started.

If your running RNRNOLA then you totally get this! lol!!!!

If your running RNRNOLA then you totally get this! lol!!!!


• Monday I went to Whole Foods and stocked up on kale juice, veggies and salmon. Lots of healthy stuff to boost up my nutrition and immune system for this last stretch.
• Tuesday I started writing my to-do list and packing list for my race. I started thinking about race attire but I have no clue what I’ll be wearing since the weather has been so up and down from one day to the next. I contacted One More Mile to inquire about getting a custom shirt made but no response yet.
• Wednesday I started reading the final race instructions for Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans. I glanced at the course map and aid stations. I signed up for Runner Tracking so friends can check on me via Facebook and Twitter. Coral #12 woohoo! Estimated 18-20k runners! Madness!! (I love it)
• Thursday I started scoping out the weather even though it’s still a bit too soon. I am praying that Mother Nature provides great race weather for 2-2-14. That alone is probably my biggest concern at this point. Until then I have 6 miles to run after work today and 8 on Saturday. Taper has finally started which is a bit of relief.

What will Friday bring?
All I know is I need to stay focused and feel confident that I have put in the work. The rest will be what it is. You never know what race day brings. It’s just up to you to get to that Start line and take the first step. I truly am excited and thankful for all of the tips along the way I have received. I have enjoyed this experience thus far.

#roadto26.2

Recap of the Rendezvous3/ 3rd Annual Louisiana Marathon Experience

This event is definitely growing year after year and it didn’t hurt that Runners World magazine named The Louisiana Marathon one of the Top 10 up and coming running events in the January 2014 issue. Buzz had been growing for weeks on Facebook, Twitter and even on the local news. This Boston Qualifier race was going to be the place to be the weekend of January 18-19, 2014 and it didn’t disappoint. To a packed expo at the Baton Rouge River Center to the stellar speakers at the Pastalaya dinner. Bill Rodgers and Matt Long were deeply engaging. They offered advice and jokes that quickly put everyone at ease for those looking forward to their race the following day. Bill Rodgers has run over 175k miles since 1973 he has seen running evolve into a family sport over the years. First with women entering the field now the younger generation has joined in. Bill introduced Matt Long and seemed just as interested in hearing his story as we were. How the NYC firefighter fought to live with only a 1% chance of survival. He had over 40 surgeries after being run over on his road bike with a 20 ton bus in December of 2005. He had just completed the Lake Placid Ironman that July and ran the NYC Marathon. He is the second oldest of 9 kids and from Brooklyn. His spirit and humor shined through in his speaking.

A few tidbits Matt Long shared:
“As an adult you set a goal. To make it happen you have to do 3 things:”
1) Make a plan
2) Commit
3) Make Sacrifices

“If you’re the person that says you can’t, until you believe in yourself, until you say “I Will”, you won’t achieve.”

Matt’s personal mantra for his comeback was “I Will”. Even after his recovery he completed a Marathon and an Ironman. Since then Matt doesn’t run much anymore. He went back to cycling since it’s better physically for his body. Does he wish that tragic accident hadn’t happened to him? No, he has been able to help so many realize that they are strong enough to survive. He knows his endurance through training for the Marathon and Ironman shortly before his accident is what helped him survive. Even on this same day as the dinner he got on a treadmill and jogged 2 miles for Meg’s miles. A young mother, runner that was tragically killed recently by a drunk driver. Matt shared personal stories and offered lots of great advice. He is truly an inspiration. For running he stressed to get a coach and make a journal. It helps to make you accountable and lastly “If you have a dream hold on to it”.

Mother Nature cooperated once again for this weekend running events. Saturday morning the Kids Marathon and Cypress 5k went off without a hitch and on Sunday the Half/Full Marathon race started at 7am with brisk temperatures of around 45 degrees but quickly warmed up for those running the Full to apprx 60 degrees. Hydration would be key since most had been training in lower winter temperatures. There was a pelican flyover right before the start of the national anthem and we were off. The Full and Half both started at the same time and didn’t split until around mile 11. This was supposed to be an easy taper Half for me since my first Full would be in two weeks but race day adrenalin was once again kicking in. Throughout the first 6-8 miles I was struggling to keep my pace down. My friends along the course noticed and reminded me to slack off. I took in the views along the race and really appreciated the fact that runners from all 50 states were here enjoying the beauty of our neighborhoods, LSU lake front and downtown area. Along the course people were cheering and made signs to welcome everyone on this Sunday morning.
I evaluated how I felt around the split of the Half/Full course and asked myself could I have run the Full today? Yes, had I not run at the average 9:45 pace I was running. I know my race in two weeks for my first Full at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans will be much more congested at 17k+ runners compared to today’s 6k apprx and the first mile or two will take much longer to get through than today which for me will be a good thing.
I started making my way back downtown towards the Finish and noticed I could pick up the pace for a stronger finish. Normally I would be running out of the steam at the 10-11 mile mark but my endurance had increased due to Full training. My coach Stephen said it would help me run stronger Half’s and he was right. My last three miles were actually faster than the first ten and that has never happened before. I turned off my music as I was heading into the last half mile so I could hear my name and the crowd cheering as I came in for my 2:07 finish time. I had not run that well in almost a year. It wasn’t a PR but it was a strong run and I felt good. I found my friend Francine who finished a minute before me and quickly got a Core Power Protein Drink that was being supplied at the finish along with water.
I went to get my bag so I could check my phone for the Runner Tracking text alerts that the race provided and it was working like a charm. I could see all my friends estimated finish times to know if I had time to stretch my legs and be back in time at the chute to see them finish.
Many of my friends chose this race for their first Full and I was getting very excited that I would be able to see them coming in soon. They had trained for months for this day. Some had stellar sub 4hour times and some fell just short of their personal goal but every single one of them Finished Strong. Their hard work and determination had paid off. They were proudly wiping the sweat away as they took in their breaths shortly after crossing the Finish line with their new Finisher bling worn proudly on their chest. They earned it with every step from the early morning training sessions to the struggle of the wall at Mile 17 or 22. They didn’t give up. I was so happy for them and it made me want my day even more. Afterwards I headed to the Finish Festival to listen to the local bands and grab some food. I even purchased a Sweet Greens Kale drink at The Big Squeezy booth I had been wanting to try.

Looking around I could see families and friends were equally enjoying the festivities. It was quite remarkable that an event like this can bring so many people together and provide so much inspiration. I am already looking forward to next years.

But first I want my day… My day to call myself a “Marathoner”….Stay tuned

Few pictures from the weekend events:

Pastalaya dinner with Bill Rodgers and Matt Long

Pastalaya dinner with Bill Rodgers and Matt Long


No shortage of running merchandise to be found here. From Tanks, Spibelts, Sweaty bands, GU you could find it all here.

No shortage of running merchandise to be found at the expo. From Tanks, Spibelts, Sweaty bands, GU you could find it all here.


Gorgeous weather to camp out at the Finish line waiting for friends to come in.

Gorgeous weather to camp out at the Finish line waiting for friends to come in.


A short walk from the finish is all it takes to soak in some local cuisine and music at the Finish Fest.

A short walk from the finish is all it takes to soak in some local cuisine and music at the Finish Festival.


la mar finish fest 2
la mar ham fam
My "Half" bling collection from every year. I have to say though that FULL Finisher medal was sweet looking though!

My “Half” bling collection from every year. I have to say though that the FULL Finisher medal was sweet looking!

For more information on this race check out: http://www.thelouisianamarathon.com/ and on their Facebook page.

For more on Matt Long visit: http://www.iwillfoundation.com/#home

The taper begins… (Finally!)

(Warning this is gonna be a long one, but funny. Read on ..)
I am in taper mode? That’s kinda funny to me considering I have a 5,8 miler and Half Marathon this coming week but as far as my full marathon training goes, I MADE IT!!
Words cannot express how relieved I am. This past week I had more anxiety going out the door to do my 5 and 10 miler than my 22. To me that is crazy! I thought oh well if I cut it short a mile it will be ok but I completed it in full. Saturday morning my friend Jen agreed to meet me at the Mandeville Trailhead. I was so relieved to have a change in scenery for the last long training run that I didn’t mind that the weather was going to be 62 degrees and 100% humidity. I was ready. (Keep in mind that this was 30 degree increase in temperature from the weekend before. We are having one crazy winter) We started out a little after 7am. She took me along the Lakefront and a few neighborhoods. It had just rained heavily so jumping around the rain puddles and mud was a bit challenging. She saved the trees, trees and more trees route for the last 10 that I would be doing solo. She was such a trooper to hang with me for the first 12 since she was just getting over a bad cold and hadn’t run in three weeks. I felt pretty strong and reserved my GU for every 6 miles until mile 18 then I took one more to get me to mile 22 and tried to drink well so I would not get dehydrated.

During those last ten miles my mind wandered. So many thoughts:
• My aching feet for one. I had no issues with my hips or IT band but the hard pavement on the trailhead was brutal. Jen reminded me that’s what I have to look forward too on the streets of New Orleans for Rock ‘n’ Roll on 2-2-14. So true!
• I felt strong till about mile 14-16 then I needed Water!! I was desperately trying to get to mile 17 for the next water stop to get some in reserve. It was pretty warm. Since that last 10 was an out & back I was ready to be on the way back by that point.
• I thought of my crazy, runner friend/blogger Angela at http://www.runnerindenial.com/ She had mentioned that during some of the long runs your mind goes off in a bazillion directions. Physically I was feeling fine, no bonk but my mind well that was another story!
• Trees, trees and more trees.. Hmmmmm any dead bodies around? Again your mind wonders but I reminded myself that this is a family friendly park! lol
• I was seriously getting jealous of the people on bikes. Seriously I am doing this with my two legs and you have wheels!! So not fair!! And you’re taking a stretch break! Oh come on! (Again crazy thoughts)
• I thought of another great #MyTruth inspiration post to share. You will read at the bottom of this blog post but my last one was; “You can find inspiration from others but following through is all you.” I relish the rare moments of clarity during these long runs.

Finally heading back after mile 17 I knew I had it in the bag. My car with cold Gatorade was waiting for me and I would be going to Jen’s to shower and go get something to eat. There would be no finisher medal today but the feeling that I got my two 20+ milers in for my Full training was well worth it. I had did something that I truly thought I was not strong enough to accomplish. I can tell you everytime I ran my last 9 Half Marathons I was glad at Mile 12 I was almost done because I felt like I had nothing left in the tank. With this training I proved myself wrong. In three weeks I get to do this again and go 4.2 additional miles while having a fantastic time doing it. I picked up my pace to try to finish the last three miles strong which I did at 10:34, 10:11, and 10:18pace.
Summary for today’s 22 miler: 3hr:55min Average Pace: 10:41
Now if I could just freeze time for water breaks and stretching like my Garmin does!
I was ready for a shower and replenish my 2,233 calories burned!

My gorgeous friend Jennifer  and I on our way to get some grub after I got cleaned up. She was so great and supportive too me. I can't thank her enough.

My gorgeous friend Jennifer and I on our way to get some grub after I got cleaned up. She was so great and supportive too me. I can’t thank her enough.

That is Grilled Chicken underneath that mound of pepperjack cheese with a wheat bun and sweet potato fries on the side. so huge it was my lunch and dinner!

That is Grilled Chicken underneath the mound of pepperjack cheese with a wheat bun and sweet potato fries on the side. So huge it was my lunch and dinner! From The Rusty Pelican

I am looking forward to my 10th half next weekend at The Louisiana Marathon. It will be an easy taper run for me which is a bit disappointing but I have to keep my mind focused on my 1st Full. It will be a fun event and I can’t wait to cheer on my friends.
Speaking of I want to have a custom shirt made from CafePress for my Full.
Can you help me brainstorm?:
• “I just felt like running” (I love Forrest Gump references)
• #roadto26.2
• How many more miles?
• 26.2 D’oh! I checked the wrong box!
• Finish Strong

Your suggestions?
and as promised the #MyTruth inspiration from mile 22:
“ I may not be an athlete but I am all heart and that will take me far.

Last hurdle before the home stretch #roadto26.2

As I look at my Countdown the days are getting closer.
events
My chest tightens with anxiety; my concern grows over my eating regimen.
My legs immediately get sore with the thought of my last long run ahead next weekend.
“Breathe” I tell myself.
I look at my running schedule and I see that this is the 9th week of 12th. It will be the last hard week. “You got this,” I tell myself. Your not injured. Training is going well.
I realize I followed the training thus far without fail and I am actually quite proud of myself.
I just have to get through this last week and then I have three easier weeks ahead before the Marathon.
schedule
If you look at my event list I even added something new to it recently.
My first ‘Trail’ Half Marathon. I have been wanting to do a Q50 race but hoped it would be a 5 or 10miler. Well this option came up and its 5 weeks after my Full. My endurance will still be good from training. It will actually be the shortest race distance of the options that day. (It coincides with a 50 & 25 mile Ultra.) Part of me was going to play it safe and sign up after I run my Full to make sure I make it through injury free but I went for it anyway. Have you heard of Race Blues? It is the let down after a big race goal is completed. It’s the “What now?” complex. I had it after Disney Princess. The fix is to find another goal to focus on afterwards. So my first Trail Half sounded like a good option. Trails are no joke. You have to run them at a slower pace, music is not allowed, you carry your own water plus your calves and ankles will not be happy with you the next day. You will work them a completely different way but it is challenging and thrilling. I have only done a couple 5k Trail races so this is a bit of a jump for me but I am excited and for me to be excited is a good thing. I will have to dust off my trail shoes and go to Comite to prepare.
Check it out here: http://q50races.com/q50-races-marathon-and-half-marathon-2013/

First thing first. I have to get through this next week. Mother Nature has been quite fussy lately as you may know. Warm one day, cold the next plus very rainy. I have a 5 and 10 miler training run this coming week that I may have to go to the gym and fight over a treadmill to get it done then my long run next weekend. I really need to get it in. I feel good that I did get one 20 in but my friend and Coach Stephen says it would be good for me to get another. So I must trust in the training to get me through to that Finish line which is the ultimate goal. I have come this far. People are dropping like flies with colds and flu also. I am taking my vitamins every day and hoping I have this shield of protection to save me this next month ahead. I must stay Healthy and Strong.

Wish me luck! What big races do you have coming up? How do you stay focused?
focus

Sidenote: My personal blog hit over 6k views this week. Thank you for following along on my journey and for all of the encouragement. These past couples of posts have been very therapeutic to my Marathon training. Something that I hope to be able to look back on if I decide to do it again. I have surprised myself already several times since I started this blog in January 2013 with the challenges I have taken on. Even this post from last April proves I am lot stronger than I gave myself credit for: https://ndeckerrunner.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/to-go-the-distance-or-not/

What have you done lately to prove your strength?

How will you start off 2014?

Some people make “Resolutions” I will lose 10 pounds, I will get back into the gym, I will start CrossFit etc.
Some people set “Goals” for themselves: I will run a Half or Full Marathon, I will set a PR, I will do a Triathlon this year etc.
1new-years-resolutions
I used to make Resolutions and Goals but now I am at a point I feel where I am where I need to be. To be honest Resolutions and Goals didn’t get me there it was my Will, Focus, Determination and Support of Others. The key is to not look backwards but to look forward. You know what needs to be done to better yourself inside and out. Get it on paper, set a deadline and go after it. Reward yourself along the way and be proud. You are better than you were yesterday.
FIST_original
So you didn’t start yesterday you can start right now. You got this.
new-years-resolution-be-more-awesome

How will you Claim 2014?