Gulf Coast Mandeville Half

What do you get when you mix some gorgeous weather,scenery and about 1000 of your closest running buddies? To me it sounds like the recipe for a great race day! 

Driving into Fountainebleu  State Park Sunday morning the temp was about 59 degrees/97% humidity/winds 8mph. For this year’s 5th year Anniversary race they went a step up in shirt design and bibs. I was very pleased.

GCM

Race start would be at 7am and I couldn’t wait to slip on this soft t shirt afterwards. Since this is a flat, scenic course many runners had a PR day in mind, me included although my speed work has been lacking to be honest. One person I was looking forward to meeting in person today was Mandeville Police Officer Becky Kramer White. She would be running the Half today in full police uniform to raise money for the Special Olympics. You can read more about her cause here. I caught up with her around mile 2 (right before my music died. I apparently failed in charging it the day before). I introduced myself and asked Becky if she would mind if I would run with her a bit today. She is a very well known local runner and fellow blogger. Today she would be extra motivating to many. There were extra police officers on the course to support her along the route taking pictures and cheering her on. She would finish today’s race in a remarkable time of 2:11. IMPRESSIVE!

beck

Today’s race had a choice of a 10 mile route or 13.1. Around mile 7 my knee started aching badly ( the one I fell on a few weeks ago and had stitches). In that delirious moment I could not recall if you had a choice to run either distance. I had personally signed up to run the Half so even though my knee was questionable and my PR wish time of 2:05 was doubtful I kept pushing forward in the hopes of a strong finish. Passing that 10 mile sign was tough but I could see Becky in the distance and told myself to catch up to her and enjoy the course ahead. That’s what I was there for. Miles started clicking by again and I finally got my second wind around mile 11. I changed my Garmin view to see where I was at time wise. I could see that I was coming up short but pushed it as hard as I physically could. ‘Get to the Finish Fest’ I kept thinking plus every self motivational phrase I could think of “I am Fit, I am Strong”, “Keep Pushing”, “That beer isn’t going to drink itself”. I remembered the race was offering free race pics at the finish and quickly adjusted my bib and told myself to smile as I came in at 2:07. (2minutes shy of a PR) Self disappointment started to sink in knowing I wouldn’t have another shot at a PR race until December but happy about my time in all things considering. Now time to relax and enjoy the music, food and drinks the race offered afterwards. Races aren’t JUST about your finish time its the entire experience and that is a “win-win”.

GCMP

I can’t wait to see the FREE Finisher pics courtesy of Northshore Plastic Surgery. That is one benefit of not running with music is those dreadful things wont be in the pictures! (Always look on the upside)

For more info on the race check out Gulf Coast Half on Facebook or on their website.

Race results can be found here.

Congrats to all that crossed the Finish!

An EPIC Relay Adventure at Ironman 70.3 Augusta

After months of training runs through the grueling, hot summer the day was finally here.  I was about to take one of the most epic road trips I have been on with three girls I barely know but who would become my friends for life. We started our estimated 665 mile trip from Baton Rouge and picked up our swimmer Larisa in Mobile on our way to Augusta on a beautiful morning with some fun along the way.

roadtrip

The next morning after Laura got her practice bike ride in, we did some sightseeing and headed to the expo at the Augusta Convention Center for check in. ( I was dying to get my blue band to feel like I was a part of the weekend event ) The expo was small in comparison to the ones we runners go too like the Rock ‘n’ Roll races but those can get overwhelming as well. We did get a couple shirts, try some jerky samples and got some relief with some Active Release Therapy. (Only a 10 minute wait) I needed this desperately since my IT Band was already throbbing from being on my feet so much.

swag

While waiting I met Kevin Swenson. At 53 years young he has done 13 Ironman’s including one Double (which he said was the hardest thing he has done yet). The locations he has done vary from New Zealand, France, Africa, Australia and this weekend would be his first 70.3 can you believe? (Of course he killed it on Sunday with a Finish time of  5:19:01)

Check out his tattoos:

kevin

Next up we went to go check out the transition area so we could strategize. Fortunately it was laid out very well and marked for those directionally challenged like myself!

transition

Then we went to the Finish area a couple miles away to check out the Finish line while there wasn’t anyone around. (OK yes it may have been bad luck but it wasn’t fully setup yet.) Speaking of I was surprised to so many people wearing there race shirts. Us runners don’t tend to wear them til after the race but TRI athletes seem to like to get there game face on early.

finish

4:45am came early the next morning but we wanted to get out there early to park and head to body marking. The sea of bikes and people out that early was incredible. The sun started to rise as well as the excitement level. It was amazing to watch the nerves and exhilaration in everyone’s faces. They had trained for this day for months. Before we knew it the Elites were out first at 7:30am.

race morning

We took a few pictures and even ended up on IM Augusta’s FB page:

augusta

I saw the cutest race support ever. These kids cracked me up!

race support

Since we were the Relayers we were the last wave which wasn’t until 9:20am. Waves were 4 minutes apart and went off like clock work. Spotters were on the bridge to look for anyone struggling. Kayakers and paddle boarders as water support were also prepared to help. I would make my way to the bridge to take pictures of Larisa for the swim while Laura headed to transition to prepare for her bike portion when Larisa came through. She was easy to spot with her tattoos and I scored some great pictures. She completed her 1.2 mile swim in 29:11 which was under her goal. She was pumped with excitement.

swim

Next up Laura headed out for her 56 mile bike ride.  She was going to get to bike through two states Georgia and South Carolina. How cool is that?!

bike

The weather was lenient to the race participants and spectators today with a temp of 80 for the high, 67% humidity and a good bit of cloud coverage through out the day which I hugely appreciated for the upcoming run portion. I made sure to snack on salted almonds, peanut butter crackers and Gatorade while I was waiting on Laura. I wanted just enough food for energy but not weigh me down. I applied some biofreeze and sunblock. Larisa helped me stretch out my hip flexors and IT band. Both she and Michelle (our race support for the weekend) kept me company while Laura was out for her ride. The plan originally was to go to the Finish area to go watch some of the Elites come in but unfortunately we discovered it was a 2 mile walk there and back. I just couldn’t do it. I was already sore and needed to save my legs. We could only check on Laura with the IM Tracker with the one split halfway through the course. We knew she was well prepared for the ride with adequate fluids and nutrition which would help her recover quickly after the race. About 45 minutes before she came in I headed to transition to prepare mentally for the run ahead. I had never ran a Half Marathon in the middle of the day on tired legs, without music and with the nutrition I had taken in so I was a bit concerned.

As it got closer to the time for Laura to come in and tag me I started to get anxious and was ready to head out and see what I could do. I knew today would not be a PR day but I wanted to do my team proud. Spotting Laura coming in to transition was awesome  I went out in force. The ride was more challenging for Laura then expected with all the steady inclines but she did a great job and came in at 4:14:38. The first loop of the two loop run course was easier than the first since there were more people but I knew most of the runners out there were actually on there second loop. Fluids and nutrition on the course were still found in abundance which was a relief since I didn’t start my run til about 2:30pm. The roads were flat as promised but many were at an angle as I fought to keep as straight of a path as possible for my cranky IT band. This weared on my pace badly. The 2nd loop was scarce with people as I expected. At that point I was anxious to get closer to that finish line. Soon I was at Mile 12 and spotted my crew who were there cheering for me and took a few pics.

ASICS sponsorship perhaps?

ASICS sponsorship perhaps?

That was the last push I needed to make it to that 13.1 finish line with a time of 2:12:37. Our total relay team time was 7:02:28. They announced relay team “Tag Your It” was in and I had did my job. I collected our three relay medals and hats, proudly gave them to Laura and Larisa. I thoroughly enjoyed being in the Ironman world for the weekend and the hospitality of Georgia. Sharing this experience with Laura and Larisa was awesome! They did amazing!

finsih

and what better way to end our journey but a dip in the cold Savannah river after the race!

Did I mention I cant swim? Fortunately Larisa stayed close!

epic

Laura and Larisa are already talking about coming back next year. 🙂

Check out  my teammate Larisa’s recap here Part 1 & Part 2

We also met Cynthia from “You Signed Up for WHAT?! during our weekend adventure. She did her first solo 70.3 in  a remarkable time of 6:18:48. Her thorough recap is up and can be found here.

I am thankful for the experience to come to a new place and partake in my first Relay with two amazing ladies. #IM703Augusta was incredible to see. Congratulations to all you inspiring athletes that have the courage to toe the line at the Start and the heart to carry you through the Finish.

#TeamTagYourIt