Aim to Stay an After

Surprise, I will be featured as a local success story in March’s issue of Louisiana’s Health and Fitness Magazine I am quite flattered by this. My weight loss story is old news but my journey to “Stay an After” is never ending. With all of the temptations around us it makes it very difficult plus I am an emotional eater which means we basically find excuses to eat whether we are bored, depressed or happy. It is something I struggle with daily. I don’t use my fitness habits as an excuse to eat I use them to keep me in check. Being aware is key. I don’t find there are many articles out there that tell the daily struggle that people go through to keeping off the weight. As with everything it really is all about balance.

LAHFM MARCH 2014

Pick up a hard copy in the Greater New Orleans Area or you can read the article here: http://www.healthfitnessmag.com/Health-Fitness-Magazine/March-2014/Local-Success-Nicole-Decker/


Is this something you struggle with? Do you have a similar story to share?

Advertisements

A race morning at the Finish – Amedisys Mardi Gras Mambo 10k/15k

This past Saturday morning was like no other. The 7th Annual Amedisys Mardi Gras Mambo 10k/15k was going to be going on Downtown and this race morning I decided I wanted to go down and volunteer. My husband and daughter also came which was an added bonus.
We got there right before the kids 1 mile Mambo Fun Run started. I always love to watch the kids races. Their energy never fails to inspire me. Right after they finished crossing the start line I saw the race director Eric Engemann unwrapping the kids medals and asked him if he needed a hand and he said sure. So we went to work getting the finisher medals ready. We had to work fast. The first kid “Michael Lee -Age 13” crossed the 1 mile mark at 6min:22 seconds! Before we knew it it was time for the 10k & 15k to start which both groups would be starting together. I saw many familiar faces of running friends in the crowd. They asked why I wasn’t running and I told them I would be ‘Medal Girl’ today. I would be there to cheer for them as they crossed the Finish line. They all said they were looking forward to it. Once again we went to work getting the 10k/15k medals ready. (Fortunately we had a bit more time for this race.) The 15k medal was larger than the 10k and the bibs were different colors so it would be easy to see who needed what medal although some registered for the 15k turned off and did the 10k during the race so we would still have to ask as they finished. The weather was perfect this morning with blue skies and approx 42 degrees. Part of me wished I was out there running but I was in the next best spot especially with my family by my side.
The 1st 10k Finisher “Conor Doan” came in at 33:24 (5:23pace) WOW!
The 1st 15k Finisher ” Kevin Castille” came in at 48:34 (5:13pace) Double WOW!
To give medals to many friends and new runners was a very rewarding experience. If I wasn’t running there was no other place I would have rather have been. After a couple hours we got relieved to get a bite to eat at the after party which was just a short walk to the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium. Most of the food was gone by that time but Jay Ducote of Bite and Booze was still serving up brisket. There were a great variety of vendors to choose from if you had gotten there just a tad earliar. As I congratulated friends and said our goodbyes my daughter told me that next year count her in for the 10k. I have to say that yes, I will be joining her as well.
photo

For more information on this race visit: http://www.runmambo.com/
When was the last time you volunteered at a local race?

So how has completing a Marathon changed me?

People mentioned that once you do one it will change you. I do feel that I have accomplished something pretty great. To scratch off a goal that you worked hard for is very satisfying. I know people do this every day but for me this was huge. I had to put the “What if’s” behind me and just go for it. Now that it is behind me I do find myself asking “What‘s next?”.

Once you actually complete your first Half or Full Marathon you truly "get" this saying.

Once you actually complete your first Half or Full Marathon you truly “get” this saying.


I think another thing I learned is for me it’s not so much about the race clock rather than the overall experience. To have fun doing something you enjoy. As with everything there is a balance. Give it your all but have fun doing it.

This picture definitely says FUN!

Good times with good friends trump pretty much everything

Good times with good friends trump pretty much everything. This was obviously during the first Half of the Marathon lol!

What’s next isn’t important it’s just about being out there and enjoying it.
What lesson did you learn after completing your first Half or Full?

An FYI about me: I love inspirational motivation phrases. I just read this and had to share for this post: “Faith is having a positive attitude about what you can do and not worrying about what you can’t do.” (Very fitting)

By the way Karen’s Vlog of our RNRNOLA Marathon is up you can check out the highs and lows of our journey here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej7gwFb66zs#t=69

Part Two: 26.2 Claimed! “The day of & personal reflections”

When you think about Race Day you envision perfect weather temperatures, blue skies and legs that feel like air. Especially when it’s a significant race to you. On this day I woke up at 3:45am after hours of broken sleep with legs that felt tired and achy. I decided to get up and take a cold bath to wake them up. I had laid out my gear the night before so my main dilemma was just where I was going to be putting my 4-5 GU’s (I wanted to carry my own since you never know what the race will be supplying and if there will be any left. Trust in your own supplies!) Then the weather was once again on my mind. I glanced at the radar and only saw popcorn showers in the area for the next few hours so I tell Francine “It’s a Go!” On goes the music (I like to prep on race mornings to my running music to get me going) She took my “before pic” since I knew the humidity was going to wreak havoc on my hair later and I ate my bread/honey.

Before the damp humidity!!

Before the damp humidity!!


Down we go to leave our luggage in the bell hop area. As we step outside I see the weather has already started to go south. Light drizzling rain, heavy fog and a dampness that covered you immediately when you walk out. The streets were not going to be forgiving today. It’s bad enough that New Orleans streets are the not best but we were going to have a slickness to worry about as well which means you would have to step carefully as you ran. It was so dark and foggy at this time (6:05am/race start would be 7am) that I started to go in panic mode. Should I had ran my Full at the Louisiana Marathon two weeks earlier? (I had ran the Half that day), Will the rain hold out or will we be forced to turn at the halfway mark and I’d be doing this all over again in Mississippi the following weekend?
I called Karen and let her know we were headed to the Hilton to pick her up. We make our way to the Varsity Sports meet up area and take a group “before” picture at the RNRNOLA Start area and they let me say the traditional Runner’s Prayer which I was honored to do and hoped it would give me luck for the race.
Group pic with the Varsity Sports Baton Rouge crew!

Group pic with the Varsity Sports Baton Rouge crew!


After a couple more stops we go to our Coral and find the 4:30 group pacer which were actually in Coral 11.
I am sure everyone is probably thinking the same thing. Don't let it rain!

I am sure everyone is probably thinking the same thing. Don’t let it rain!


The Half/Full Runners start together so Francine was able to start with us. Off goes my text alert on my iPhone it stated that I started the race at 6:33am!! Do what?! Did I accidentally step on one of the timers? This was not good. I had setup Runner Tracking to post notifications on Facebook, Twitter and text people so they knew where I would be at certain mile markers on the course. Even my coach Stephen would be out there as support. Our Coral crossed the start line at 7:17am and yes, unfortunately I was multitasking by running and sending updates with my phone manually since my Runner Tracking was off. (It even had me at the 13 mile point at 1hr:20min. I joked with Karen at this rate I will get an age group in the mail in 6 weeks because I’ll be finished in about 3hours!!) All joking aside it seemed to have fixed itself around the 20 mile marker but I was unaware of this. I was concerned with notifying people and how I was going to get the time on my Finisher Certificate fixed later. (yes I know, Very Type A !lol)
But let’s back up….As soon as we started I felt the race anxiety disappear. The first couple miles Karen and I did our best to stay with the 4:30 pacers. Unfortunately this meant zigzagging around lots of people which was zapping my energy quick which is NOT what you want to happen early on. We were not even to Mile 3 and called it quits. The sight of the pacer group balloons were quickly fading in the distance. We decided to go at our own pace. I was relieved to because I wanted to save my energy for the back half of the race. Right at 9am we were coming up to the St. Louis Cathedral. The hourly bells were going off but you couldn’t see the Cathedral because of the thick fog. I felt bad for the tourist runners that were missing out on the sights throughout the course. We go into the French Quarter and it’s a drizzly misty rain on and off.
One word "Yuck"

One word “Yuck”


MARATHONFOTO16
The miles steadily ticked away and I appreciated all the spectators that were out on this wet, foggy, dreary morning. At the halfway point the course split for the Halfers to turn to the right and the Full runners would veer off to the left. This was it. I was excited because today I would be turning to the left and seeing a part of the course I had never seen. Karen and I stopped to take a couple of funny pictures and she Vlogged that we had made the turn to the left and we were going for it!
Ummmmm Left or Right????

Ummmmm Left or Right????


Excited to see my pal Cesar at the Halfway point. We made our turn to the left (look at all the people going to the right)

Excited to see my pal Cesar at the Halfway point. We made our turn to the left (look at all the people going to the right)


13.1 more miles to go!!! (Gulp! A mixture of excitement and anxiety once again set in)
I decided at this point with the levees and steep inclines still in the distance to conquer to have a little fun on the back half of the course. Jenni’s little reminder “Enjoy the Experience” came to my mind. I was wearing a 4:40 split bracelet and we were still on track at that point. Karen and I stopped at Mile 16 to take a couple pics with the Superhero’s at the water station.
Woohoo Baby!

Woohoo Baby!

We started to make our way to the very long out and back part of the course. Parts of it seemed endless. Fortunately I saw my coach Stephen out there not only at the split as I expected but also around mile 17 and 21. I particularly looked forward to seeing him at mile 21 because I was feeling my energy being zapped away. Karen and I took short walk breaks when we needed to and fortunately she had some Biofreeze and Tylenol with her which helped with the inclines on the back half of the course.
Busted by the course photographer taking a much needed walk break on one of the inclines!

Busted by the course photographer taking a much needed walk break on one of the inclines!


Right past Mile 21 saw my coach & friend Stephen. He said we were looking good and  not much farther to go!

Right past Mile 21 saw my coach & friend Stephen. He said we were looking good and not much farther to go!

Those last few miles seemed to drag on forever. I texted a couple of people to let them know where I was and was soon to be a Marathoner.
Home stretch Baby!!!

Home Stretch Baby!!!


Francine texted me back to let me know she got my 26.2 Finisher shirt and was cheering at the Finish line waiting. Gotta keep pushing forward I told myself. Karen said were almost there as we entered City Park towards the Finish.
Just a couple more miles to go.. Almost a Marathoner!

Just a couple more miles to go.. Almost a Marathoner!


One last stretch to go and finally the Finisher chute ahead. I am almost in a daze at this point. Karen said she can see the chute and were going to finish this together. I took off my earphones and remembered to fix my bib and smile as we cross over that last timing belt. RELIEF!!! We did it!!
Deliriously Happy!

Deliriously Happy!


Karen was my angel during this race

Karen was my angel during this race


I see Francine and she was there as promised snapping pics, I hugged Karen and felt deliriously happy. I got my Finisher medal and took some pictures but the questioned remained what was my time? Did I at least break Sub 5?
FB Fnish
Yes indeed 4:48 I’ll take that gladly especially with today’s weather conditions.
I Did It!!!

I did it


I didn’t stay at the Finisher Fest long. I was ready to get some coffee and head home. My journey had come to a close. Today felt like the closing ceremony to something great. I achieved something that I never thought possible. I had ran a Marathon. As Francine and I headed home I began reading through my messages and was overwhelmed at all the support I had received during and after the race.
Just a few of my Congrat Tweets received

Just a few of my Congrat Tweets received


I didn’t get much sleep that night due to my Runners High and even the next day I was in such a fog mentally and physically I could barely think straight. I was ready to start the recovery phase. Thoughts and emotions started to flow as it all started to sink in. Accomplishment, relief and gratitude. Grateful for those that supported me even when I doubted myself. That saying is true “The body achieves what the mind believes”. People have their own reasons for running a Marathon. Mine was to prove to myself that I could do it. People have already asked me “When is the next one?”. I hate to disappoint but it truly was a bucket list item for me. Honestly unless it’s a fun one at Disney its highly doubtful due to the time that training requires. I went from running 2x a week , average 9-12 miles to 3-4x a week ,average 25-30 miles. This experience will make me a stronger Half Marathoner. I still want a sub 2hr (Best time 2:06) and I will be getting back into Trail running. In fact I will be doing my first Trail Half Marathon in less than 5 weeks. Why? Because I can.

Race recap notes: Room for improvement for RNRNOLA
• Send tips on Runner Etiquette along with Final Instructions Race Guide email. Especially for all of the newbies. (If I start to discuss this it will turn into a rant- Best left unsaid)
• Stock the water stations earlier! There were big bottlenecks throughout the course in multiple areas. I read online there was a delay with the water trucks that morning.
• I heard there was lack of food at the fest. How about Food Trucks from local restaurants?
• I would like more bands at the back half of the course. Seemed like most were on break. Ummmm Hello, we were not on break lol!!
• How about some race support signs along the back half of the course? Something for me to take my mind off those levees and inclines along the way.
• Don’t get me started on my Runner Tracking fiasco. (Which you have to pay for!)

Other than that I liked my shirt, race medal and the expo. Being that RNRNOLA was my first Half it was only right it would be my First Full. Despite the weather it was great and I will always remember my first Full fondly. Am I going to beat myself up about my time could have been better due to the weather? NO! I gave it everything I had and had some fun along the way. I had the best Race Support on and off the course. I accomplished everything I set out to do.
I AM A MARATHONER! #roadto26.2 CLAIMED!

Words of advice to those thinking of running a Marathon:
It took me months to convince myself it was possible but once I set my mind on it I was committed which was the biggest part. I had a friend help me with a flexible training schedule that I stuck with and I got buddies for my long runs. I told my family upfront that I needed them to be onboard and supportive of this goal and the time it would require. The rest will fall in place I promise. It’s a decision I will never regret and achieving this goal has made me even stronger. I also reflect on it with a great level of emotion because so many knew I could do this before I did and never doubted me. For that I am very appreciative. To complete something you never thought possible is empowering.

finisher
finisher cert

If you missed Part 1: https://ndeckerrunner.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/26-2-claimed-i-am-a-marathoner-part-one-leading-up-to-the-day-of/

26.2 Claimed! I am a Marathoner! Part One: “Leading up to the day of…..”

The past several days have been a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. I had trained for three long months for the physical, running portion but there was so much more ahead I was unprepared for. I will have to split this recap up into two parts so please bear with me.

A few days leading up to Sundays Rock’n’Roll New Orleans Marathon I had the nerves BAD. 60-70% chance of storms on the forecast. The planner in me needed to prepare for the worst case scenario. I had never done a training run in the rain much less do a race in it. (I know I am a wimp, even my coach warned me about this) I started requesting last minute tips such as Body Glide and Aquaphor on your skin as a water repellent plus to prevent chaffing/blistering, wear as little of clothing as possible, wear a visor and sunglasses to protect your eyes, wrap your iPhone up in a Ziploc then put it in your arm band if you’re going to carry it etc. Friday morning I even looked into a plan B race. Something close and soon in case it fell apart on Sunday. I found the ‘Mississippi River Marathon’ in Greensville, MS scheduled for 2/8/14. A much smaller race but time wise was soon enough to work with my taper. That night I mentioned it to my daughter that I had a Plan B just in case for the weather and she tells me “Mom, you planned for Plan A stick with Plan A there is no Plan B!” She is such a smart girl. I hugged her and said ok. She says “Everything is going to be fine and I am proud of you.” I told her to wait and say that when I am back home with my Finisher medal.

The next morning my friend Francine picked me up so we could head to the Expo. (She had graciously signed up for the Half so she could be my Race Support before and after the race.) We took our time that Saturday morning since it was announced that Deena Kastor wasn’t going to make it due to her getting the flu at the last minute so she wouldn’t be speaking at the Expo for 11am or be able to run the race. I was disappointed but as we all know things happen. You can’t plan for everything which my type A personality struggles with constantly. We get down to the Convention Center and easily go through the packet pickup area. (I was extremely excited to get my first “Marathon” bib, too bad it didn’t have our names on them) After talking to a couple people I decided to move up my Coral from 12 to 10 (there was 18 corals and an estimated 15,000 runners expected). Corals are based on the estimated time you finish. My running had improved during my training since I first signed up. My initial goal was to run a sub 5 for my first Full. Later as my training progressed I started to want to do around 4:40 based on my average long run pace of 10:35. I found my friend Karen who said she would run with me for the Full. (This would be her 5th Full plus she was a legacy runner for #RNRNOLA so I would be in good hands) We started talking strategy and checked in with the LRC pace group booth to see what their plans were. The times for the Louisiana Running Company pacers were 4:30 and 4:45 so we decided to fall in behind the 4:30 group. (You will learn how that worked later on) The Expo was as great as I remembered. Since I have ran the RNRNOLA Half twice I was familiar with the layout. I had bought all my last minute stuff ahead of time so I would keep my spending at a minimum. As my friend Ken mentioned the Expo was like a “Runners Carnival” anything you can imagine was there and then some. I got to say Hello to several people and got my Good Luck hug from Jenni Peters of Varsity Sports. She told me I have trained for this and to “Enjoy the Experience”. I picked up my 26.2 decal and a new “addaday” stick roller for my IT band issues. I tried not to be on my feet too long but still managed to be there about 3 hours and skipped lunch. Fortunately I packed a couple protein bars.

Francine and I headed to our hotel ‘Crowne Plaza‘ and traffic on Canal was a nightmare. When I got to the room I immediately unpacked and got an ice bath since my legs were already tired. Around 5pm we started searching for food and got into Acme Oyster House only to find they didn’t serve pasta so a ½ pound burger would have to do. I ate every bite and drank tons of water (ok and yes one beer). We met up Karen and her husband for dessert at Hard Rock then called it a night due to our early 4am wake up.

A few pics from the day….

Getting a Good Luck hug/selfie pic with my daughter Alaina before leaving home to head to New Orleans.

Getting a Good Luck hug/selfie pic with my daughter Alaina before leaving home to head to New Orleans.


Under the 24 hour mark for my 1st Full. YIKES! I found my running partner Karen and of course the great Cesar Torres. He is the organizer of the Q50 races and is famous for his race cheers at other local races I was looking forward to his "Looking good, Baby!!!!"

Under the 24 hour mark for my 1st Full. YIKES! Found my running partner Karen and of course the great Cesar Torres. He is the organizer of the Q50 races and is famous for his race cheers at local races I was looking forward to his “Looking good, Baby!!!!”


Jenni Peters rooting me on for #1 and pals Fred, Rhonda, Mary and Francine.

Jenni Peters rooting me on for #1 and pals Fred, Rhonda, Mary and Francine.


All runners you have to have at least one food pic. This was the 1/2lb pound burger I annihilated at the Acme Oyster House for dinner.

All runners have to have at least one food pic. This was the 1/2 lb pound burger I annihilated at the Acme Oyster House for dinner.

Then the Good Lucks messages started to pour in before bed.

Just a few Tweets on Twitter I received. Feel so blessed.

Just a few Tweets on Twitter I received. I felt so blessed.


Lacey let me know to look for this sign on the race course. So sweet of her.

Lacey let me know to look for this sign on the race course. So Sweet!

As I went to bed I rechecked the weather forecast and just hoped for the best.

Part Two: “The day of and personal reflections after becoming a Marathoner https://ndeckerrunner.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/part-two-26-2-claimed-the-day-of-personal-reflections/

.