Got the people going…

So I ended part 2 (The Show, The After Party, The Hotel) on a not so great note.  I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback about that post. LOL.  Hey what can I say….I’m honest.  Some appreciate my honesty; some don’t. The great thing about this being my blog is I’m not forced to make shit smell sweet. I can be as candid as I want to be.  People can choose if they want to read it or not.  If some chose not to because I’ve written my truths, that’s fine.  I will still inhale and exhale quite easily. I did not want to give a false impression that the day was filled with roses and sunshine because for me it wasn’t.  There were some ladies who had a fabulous experience, PR’d, actually got to hug a warm body at the finish line, and got to wear their medals with pride.  And those that got all that—that’s absolutely fabulous.  They deserve it! They worked hard for it. They earned it.  Round of applause.

My experience was just different from everybody else’s.  It sucked.  I’m not angry about it (anymore. LOL).  I’ve  accepted it. I’ve owned it. I’m moving on.

But I’ve also had more time to reflect. Two words/phrases now resonate with me in a different way.

1. Support.  Support manifests itself in different ways. I want to be clear that I sincerely appreciate all of the love and support from everyone…present or not.  Every message, text, phone call, voice mail….I heard (read) and took in all of it.  I have a great support system and I know who the people are that are genuine in their well wishes….my folks, my brother, dude, kid, Katie, Tes, Angela, Cynthia, Mickey, Crystal, LaWanda, Clarissa…just to name a few. But I’m grateful to everyone who has been there through this all.

2. No Woman Left Behind. I struggle with this phrase.  It’s used so loosely. And I wish people would admit that this statement is not 100% true.  Someone will be left behind…whether it’s on purpose or by circumstance…there will be ladies who will feel the loneliness, rejection, and disappointment.  It’s the nature of the beast and it is what it is.  Acknowledge it.

The Beginning of the End...

Now the day after the race is when reality truly sinks in.  I woke up Monday morning feeling sore.  That’s to be expected.  I wasn’t in pain though. I was just sore.  I stretched and used my stick. I got up and moved around a bit.  But I was still extremely tired.  This was a different kind of tired though. I had no energy.  I wanted to sleep but couldn’t.  My mind kept telling me to get up. But I didn’t move.  I wrote all day long.  I had a few “I hate running” thoughts that morning. But by afternoon, I was outlining my game plan for my next marathon…Crazy…I know.  I don’t really hate running. LOL. I updated my blog (Parts 1 and 2).  And had my blog link removed from the group that leaves no woman behind…Funny…The origins of this group is a blog. But now their Facebook page doesn’t allow/support other blog pages from the ladies that are a part of the group.  I’m sure there’s some inconsistent rationale behind that but hey…it’s not in my ministry to explore all that.  I’m able to share my link in other groups anyway so…no big deal.

I finally got up and put some clothes on. I explored the Magnificent Mile area but soon realized that I did not feel like walking around a lot.  Went to Gino’s East because everyone kept saying get deep dish pizza…and I kinda wanted some. The wings were great; the pizza was underwhelming.  I think that’s because they got my order wrong.  I ordered a supreme with pepperoni but I got one with sausage…a very LARGE round sausage patty.  It looked gross. LOL.  I wasn’t even sure if it was sausage. I was kinda scared to taste it to find out.  But they eventually brought me what I actually ordered. It was ok.  I think I prefer thin crust.  And I’m now convinced that I don’t like pepperoni.  Anyway.  No I didn’t get any Garrett’s Popcorn.  I know everyone was all excited about Garrett’s Popcorn and it’s supposed to be ridiculously good and fresh and all that jazz. But it’s popcorn…seriously…I’m not standing in a line for popcorn.  Why? Because it’s popcorn.  Maybe I’ll get some at the airport. Maybe not.

I put myself on phone restrictions because snarky Val was still lurking. Only the twin, the MG’s, and my BFF understand snarky Val.  I had very amusing inbox conversations with the MG’s and text conversations with the twin.  By evening snarky Val was gone so I actually answered the phone.  The BFF called.  We chatted for a few.  I shared my thoughts with her.  And then I settled in for the night.

My marathon weekend had come to a close.  I was mentally exhausted.  I said that I was never coming back to Chicago.  This was by far the most overwhelming experience-from the training, to the race itself, to how it ended.  There were good moments and bad, ups and downs, highs and lows.  I do want to say though, that even in my angry moment (because believe me…I was PISSED) I still attempted to find some good.  And I did.  I know what I will and will not do for the next one.  I’ve readjusted expectations of myself and others.  Ah-ha moments are great for growth.  I’m leaving Chicago a little different from how I arrived. Yes I’m now a marathoner. But it’s more than that.  The marathon experience will test your physical and psychological fortitude.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

Before I come to a close, there are a few people I want to give a personal acknowledgment to.

1. Natalie Miles Reed-I’ve said this a few times already, but I’m so thankful that you were there at the finish.  That was the best moment of the race for me! Thank you for coming back. And waiting. I know I took a long time and it was a little chilly out (although I was burning up! LOL). I can’t say thank you enough.

2. Tes Sobomehin.  She’s the one that got me in to this whole marathon thing! LOL.  But seriously.  She didn’t know it until a few days ago, but her initial enthusiasm for signing up for Chicago was what sparked my interest.  I did my research and next thing I know I’m registered.  Her positivity and enthusiasm is contagious…. I need to surround myself with more of that and I’m ever grateful for her spirit.

3. The MG’s.  Our conversations keep me going and laughing.  The short one with the smart ass mouth. The tall one with the smart ass mouth. The light skin one with the smart ass mouth. LOL.  I love those three.  Every single “I’m proud of you!” was heard…even when I was being difficult and snarky. 😉

4. Dude.  He listened to me moan and groan and complain a lot! LOL. He pushed me out of the house a few times and made me get up to go run.  He spent a few Saturday mornings with my kid so I could get my training runs in.  He’s not a runner by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. But he was always in my corner…even when I didn’t want him to be there. :).

5. My BFF.  She’s my person!  She’s THE most supportive non-runner and I love her.  I think she was more excited about my trip to Chicago than I was! She listened to plenty of conversations about my short runs, long runs, and races in between and is enthusiastic about everything I get myself into.  A year ago I told her I’d never run a marathon.  Her reply “Yea right.” followed by an eye roll.  I guess she knows me a little. LOL.  And she’s given me the next topics for my blog series…Stay tuned for that.  :).  Favorite post race question…”So when you get your medal are you gonna have a party?”.  That thought hadn’t even come close to crossing my mind! But after she said that it got me thinking….hmmm.

6. The Twin.  She has unknowingly been my #1 support system throughout this whole experience.  Every single “That’s a bad idea” was always followed by a “How was your run?”. Every single long run she checked on me.  If I didn’t run, she inquired as to why and encouraged me fix whatever issue I needed to fix.  She always gave realistic tips and was always honest in whatever she had to say. And her messages always seemed to come at just the right time. Funniest message during the race “Hey Twin. I think we need fat lazy friends to talk us out of doing shit like this. Now go finish!!!”  That was hilarious to me. And little did she know, during my dark moments in between 20 and 26 I looked at that message a few times so I could laugh. The next morning I get a text “Valerie?”  Figured I’d respond since she called me by my name in text.  “Just checking.”  LOL.  I was still alive; just sleeping.

So…would I do this again. Yes I most certainly would.  It was tough. But it didn’t kill me.  At the end of it, I still completed my first marathon.  Noone can take that from me. That’s a HUGE accomplishment. And I’m proud.

So what’s next for JDBL?  I have an idea…and it’s a big one.  Keep your eyes open for it!


(Thanks C-Do for help with the title.  Had a Jodeci flashback while getting this together :)).

DISCLAIMER: This post will have profanity it in and I’m spelling out all the words. None of them will be replaced with symbols. Ok? Ok. Carry on…


Part 1 ended with me in the M start corral with the 5:45 pace team.  Wave 2 started at 8:00 and at 8:00 on the dot we started inching towards the start.  I was towards the back but it was still pretty crowded back there.  At 8:22 we finally crossed the timing pad, pressed the start buttons on our Garmins, and were off.  The 5:45 pace team had a few different pacers.  One was running 5:1 intervals, one was running 2:1 intervals, and the other…I’m not sure what she was doing.  So I’m following along one lady, not knowing which intervals she’s doing and then I see the other pacer stop for their walk break.  Ok…That must be the 2:1 group-let me make my way over there.  So I did.

The first mile went by fast. 12:38.  Too fast. This group was supposed to be keeping a 13:10 pace.  Second mile 12:00.  Again too fast.  But the pacer knew it. I heard her say “We’re going too fast. Gotta slow down”.  And she did.  Mile 3 was around 14 minutes. Mile 4 was 13:08. Mile 5 was 13:01.  Got to the 10k split and was feeling great.  1:21 time; 13:02. pace.  Cool. She’s in the groove and was doing a great job so far with keeping the pace.  And I realized that I love and adore 2:1 intervals.  I trained with 2:1 and 1:1 intervals.  But for the moment, the 2:1 as my warm up was great.  I kept up with that group until around mile 10 when I slowed up to get ready for my snack time.  I had my own game plan for my breaks and walks and refueling.  But because of that pace group, I started out fabulous.   I had my snack (watermelon sport beans) and kept on.

I was really excited to see my name! LOL

Next mental goal: Reach the half way mark in 3 hours.  I was on pace for that.  I continued with my 2:1 intervals (thanks Gymboss for all those beeps!).  As I was approaching the 13 mile marker I had a thought. “This mess ain’t all flat.”  There were a few minor inclines. Nothing like the mountains of Atlanta, but definitely a few little itty bitty hills to maneuver.  One of which was leading up to 13.  I get to the half way point in 3:01.  Only 1 minute over what my goal was and I was happy with my  progress.  At this point I’m in my groove. I’m feeling GREAT. I’m happy. I’m enjoying the course. I’m not moving too fast or too slow.  Things are lovely. I’m smiling at the spectators. I’m giving high fives and waving at people.  The crowd seems to really enjoy cheering. I mean folks are jumping up and down and screaming like their life depended on it.  That kind of enthusiasm is great and honestly I’ve never seen race spectators quite that happy.  Made me wonder if they were high or drunk.  But it was too cold and too early to be either of those so…*shrug…I accepted it for what it was and kept running. LOL.  I get to mile 14 and life is still good.  I smell the roses and see the sunshine.  I’m listening to Lil Wayne’s Blunt Blowin (polo draws showin; I don’t give a lovely mutha…  look up the rest of the lyrics).  And then…


I felt a muscle in the back of left thigh tighten up. I keep running because I’m in one of my intervals.  It tightens up even tighter.  I kept running until Gymboss beeped and then stopped for my walk break.  The muscle decided to have a symphony back there because other surround muscles start singing.  I stopped to stretch it out.  Lord help me it cramped up so bad I screamed. Outloud.  Wanna know what I screamed?  “AGHHH SHIIIT!!!”  There was a kid on the corner who looked at me like “That lady said a bad word”.  A volunteer asked if I was ok.  I said yes, drank some gatorade from my camelbak, and kept going.  I’m moving a little slower but still below the course pace. I get to 15. Time for another snack.  Text the twin. Read a few other messages. Stretched some because the cramp is STILL there and get up to keep going.

From 15 to 16 was a long way.  I was happy to see the 16 mile marker.  I knew then that I only had 10 more to go.  At that point the cramp in my thigh had set up residence, got the cable and phone hooked up, and was now receiving mail.  It hurt. I had to stop again. By this time I was getting a bit frustrated.  Anybody ever ran with an unexpected cramp?  Yea? How did it feel?  The stretches weren’t helping.  I wanted to finish. But I did not want to leave injured.  I did not want to leave in an ambulance.  Dude had said to me “Don’t call me Sunday afternoon from Chicago General Hospital”.  Ughhh….That was the thought that I had as I sat on the sidewalk beside the 16 mile marker sign…feeling kinda sad…and hurting a little too.  But I got up and kept moving.

10 more miles to go. I tried to visualize my last 10 mile run and how good I felt during that run. The only thing that did was make me more frustrated.  My Garmin was still beeping every minute and that was getting on my nerves so I turned it off.  I thought about the twin’s favorite line “This was a bad idea.  A fuckin bad idea.  Why in the hell am I still moving. This shit is fuckin ridiculous”.  These are not positive, Peter Pan happy thoughts that anybody should have when they still have 10 more miles to go.  I decide to just take things 1 mile at a time.  I wasn’t dying…yet.  I get to 18. 18.1. 18.2. 18.3. 18.4. 18.5. And then…



My first thought was “FB post.”  So I gave everyone an update.  “The F’n wall is REAL”. And it is.  Words can’t describe what I felt like.  My body was moving but I have no idea how. My mind was all over the place.  People around were still cheering but I wasn’t hearing them.  I saw a runner transport vehicle and briefly contemplated hopping in.  Then I thought “Suck it up! You got yourself into this shit. You’ll get yourself out of it!”  It wasn’t until I got to 20 that I snapped out of that trance.  Honestly…I have no clue what I saw or did between 18.5 and the 20 mile marker.  I don’t remember seeing the 19 mile marker either.  Next thing I know I’m at 20 and I have some kind of epiphany.


By this time I feel like I’m dying. My leg still hurts. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m not going to make my goal time. Damnit.  I keep seeing runner transport vehicles.  I’m having to play mind games with myself.  But I get a burst of energy.  Didn’t do much good because I couldn’t move really fast; but this burst did keep me moving. I decided I needed upbeat music.  Regular JDBL readers should already know Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro” keeps my feet in motion.  It stayed on repeat for 30 minutes.

Between 20 and 22 was amusing.  The people that I was around provided for great course entertainment and ah-ha moments.  One lady said “I’m never doing this again”.  One said “I love Chinatown. I’m Chinese!”. (That was funny).  There was a disability runner on the course. He had on a singlet that said “My first 26.2” on the back.  He had some kind of defect with his legs. His pacer/coach/friend stayed with him off and on. But no matter how fast or slow, he kept moving.  Every time I saw him I’d think “You just have a cramp that will go away. He has a defect that won’t. Keep going.”

There was an aid station right after mile 22. I had walked through every aid station/water stop and drank Gatorade.  Hadn’t had any water. Just Gatorade. So I wasn’t having any hydration issues.  At this 22 mile aid station I decided to take a cup of water.  I take one sip. It taste funny.  My thought “Shit! It taste weird.” So I toss the cup and keep moving.  Then about 2 minutes later I feel nauseated.

…sigh… Really? A leg cramp that’s slowed me down and now nausea? And I still have 4 more got-damn miles. Really? This is a muthafuckin colossal joke!!!! Why the hell did I take that water?!!! Aghhh!!! I contemplated crying.  That wouldn’t have done me any bit of good.  So I do the next logical thing…I pull out my phone and send a text message.  It was a 1 word message. “SICK.”  When I got to 23 I stopped again.  My leg felt…hell…I don’t know what the fuck it felt like. That shit was hurting. And on top of that I’m trying not to vomit.  I didn’t.  I look up and what do I see…THE PACER CAR! Another “Are you fuckin kidding me?!!” moment.  So I get up and keep moving.  I manage to stay in front of the car for another mile or so.  Get to 24.  2.2 more miles! Yes.  I’m so ready for this crap to be over.  I try to run a little. Bad idea.  I let the pacer car pass me.  I only had 2 more miles to go. I couldn’t stop.  I’d done too much to stop.  I convinced myself that the pain and frustration would all be worth it when I cross the finish line and get my medal.  Save my energy so I can run those last 0.2 miles through the chute to the big finale!! I was fine as long as I could see the lights on the pacer car.

25 mile marker.  The spectators are few. The aid stations are still stocked but they’re breaking things down.

25.2 mile marker. 1 more mile to go. Keep moving

26 mile marker.  OH MY GOODNESS!…A HILL! I laughed.  And managed to run the last 0.2  There were bleachers on the side of the finish chute.  Not very many people at all. Only a handful.  I hear my name and look over to the right and see the beautiful, smiling face of Natalie Miles Reed. Oh it was soooooo good to FINALLY see somebody I know.  I managed to smile and pose for her to take a picture right before I crossed over the finish line timing mat.

I FINISHED!!! I FINISHED 26 POINT 2 RIDICULOUS MILES! OMG I was so happy to be done.



The wonderful part about completing your first big race is that moment that you cross the finish line, they put that medal around your neck, and you get to celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones.  Yea. I gots none of that.

I’m staggering through the finishers chute looking for where we go to get the medals.  I hear a volunteer say something about mail.  Turn around to catch the tail end of a conversation about no medals.


I looked at that poor girl and said “You mean I did all this shit and I’m leaving with the same goddamn bag I came here with and that’s it?”  She looked scared. And I remembered that she’s just a volunteer, not the RD. So I walked away.  Someone offered me one of those foil sheets.  What the hell I want that for? I ain’t cold.  Some guy asked if I wanted my picture taken.  I shook my head No and walked by him.

I’m looking around for people I know….





^^All that space up there….That’s me still looking for people I know

I needed a hug.  The volunteers weren’t even giving out hugs. They were too busy people telling people “Sorry. No medal for you even though you just tortured yourself and thought you were gonna get one.”  Ok…they weren’t really saying that; but you get my point.

I make my way over to the gear check tent to get my bag.

I lay on the grass and stretch for a minute.

Another girl was a few feet over also laying down stretching.  And crying.  I asked was she ok.  She said yes. She just wanted her medal.  I said me too. Thought about crying along with her but what good would that do. It wouldn’t change how I was feeling in that moment.  And we would just look like 2 crazy ass women laying in the grass crying.

So I sat there for a few…looking around…thinking “I wish the MG’s were here. The short one would say something funny. The tall one would hug me. The light skin one would say lets go get a drink.”  I knew I took a minute to finish.  Finishing alone is….  Finishing alone and not getting a medal is…. I’ma let y’all fill in the blanks on those.

So I dust myself off and manage to stand up.  I see a sign for the Post Race Party. I have no idea what time it actually is and I’ll be damned if I walk over there and noone is there.  So I began the lonely walk to the subway.  I was still wearing my bib so I got plenty of “congratulations” from strangers as I walked by.  Little did they know I’m trying to NOT cry on this walk because I didn’t want to look like the crazy girl crying as she’s walking up the street.  I just wanted to go to my hotel room.



I got back to my hotel room and plugged up my phone and saw all of the text messages from supporters back in Atlanta that made me smile.  But I’m going to be completely honest…

That was by far THE most disappointing finish line experience…in life…ever. I didn’t want to smile.

I was angry as hell. For various reasons.  Obvious one…I got no medal.  On my walk to and from the subway and while I was on the train, I’m surrounded by people with medals.  And I have…my string bag and an empty gatorade bottle.  I crawl under the covers and finally get to cry.  My leg had stopped hurting long enough for me to make it back to the room. But then it cramped up all over again.  I ate a banana and stretched.  It felt a little better. I called Dude. Talked to him for about 2 minutes. Got off the phone with him because my voice was shaky and I knew that there was no way he was going to understand any of what I was feeling.  And I didn’t want to cry again because my head was starting to hurt. So I text Twin. She always knows what to say. And of course…Her reply back to my angry rant made me laugh.  I called my mom.  She heard the disappointment in my voice.  But she knew not to ask a million questions.  I talked to kid.  All he was concerned about was what was I going to eat and if I got spaghetti would I save him some.  That made me laugh.  People were calling but I did not want to talk. Voicemail.

So the recovery process began. I laid around in my tights. Stretched. Used The Stick. Logged on to FB to let folks know that I did finish and I was alive.  I was still feeling like Queen Bitch but didn’t want it to come across in my posts.

All I could think was “This is not how the end of my first marathon should feel. I should be happy. Instead…I’m not.”

People kept sending congratulatory messages. And I did sincerely appreciate all of the kind words. But at the same time I kinda didn’t want to keep hearing (reading) it. I know that may sound horrible but hell…it’s the truth. I was in a funk. My goal time was shot to shit.  The 2nd half of that race was horrible for me. Yea I finished.  Rah-Rah Shish Boom Bah.  It sucked.  It was my worst race ever. And did I mention that I didn’t get a medal and had the most dismal finish line experience ever…in life.  Completely sucked monkey balls.

The back of the pack is a different race all together.  There are real stories back there.  Couples walking hand in hand so they can say “we did this together.”  Disabled runners.  Elderly ladies with big white hair saying “Come on honey!”. Chinese ladies happy to be Chinese and in Chinatown (that still makes me laugh).  People running in memory of a loved one…I met a girl whose mother passed away from breast cancer last year.  She was not a runner at all. Her mother was so she was running for her. The back of the pack can also be extremely lonely.  Yes I trained solo…because that’s what fits my schedule best.  But I still  like course support.  The cheers became sporadic towards the end.  I saw no familiar faces anywhere between the start line and 26.1.  I really was beyond elated to see Natalie right by the finish line.  She smiled. I managed to smile back and wave.  She has no idea how grateful I am that she was there at that moment.

It was a lonely finish.  A feeling that I never want to experience again.

And now…I gotta wait to get my damn medal in the mail!!

But wait…I got more to say. 🙂  Look out for Part 3:  Farewell Chicago…

For the last few weeks I  have been trying to figure out what direction I was going to go with the big finale blog post about my marathon experience.  I thought about writing a “The Last Week” post…but changed my mind 2 sentences in.  So the conclusion will be a 3 parter. Here’s part 1…

Getting to the Start Line:

I flew in to Chicago on Saturday.  Flight left at 11:00 Atlanta time. I arrived at O’Hare at noon Chicago time.  I didn’t want to waste time get getting to the expo so I bought my 3 day CTA pass and hopped on the train.  And  that’s when I experienced ‘Adventures in Chicago’ #1.  I’m sitting there. Holding my stuff. Minding my own business. And this young man comes over.  He introduces himself.  I’ll call him Ben (I really don’t remember what his name was. It could very well be Ben). He asks me my name (Vanessa).  He asks me where I’m from (Georgia).  He says “Well what brings you to Chicago?” (I’m running the marathon tomorrow).  “Oh wow. So don’t you have to train for that? Are you going to get up early and train before it starts? (**thinking WTF** Uhmmm no. I’ve trained already).  “Oh cool.  Well I’m on my way to get my hair braided (**He was in desperate need of that** But I don’t respond).  “Yea. I’m going out tonight. Me and my band have a gig. I’m in a band. A 2 man band.” (I continued to play on my phone while this man was talking AT me).  “Yea I like bands. 2 man bands. 3. 4. 5 man bands. Yea. Those.”….. “So what are you doing tonight?” (I ignore). “Hey Vanessa. I said what are you doing tonight?” (I continue to ignore.  THIS FOOL LEANS IN AND STARTS TALKING LOUDER. “HEY! Are you going out tonight”. At that point, I give him the church finger and put my phone up to my ear.  He walks away…finally. The girl in the seat across from me starts laughing. LOL. I had to laugh too. So this was my official welcome to Chicago. Weird guy on the Blue Line.

Marathoner Accommodations

I got to my hotel around 1:15.  Check in was easy.  On the elevator ride up to the 12th floor all I could think was “I hope the reviews on the room are exaggerated. It’s a boutique hotel so the rooms are small.  Well as luck would have it, I was in a corner room so there was plenty of space for me and all my stuff.  I dropped my bags off and headed out the door to find my way to catch the free shuttle over to the convention center for the expo.  Once I got there I was a bit overwhelmed.  It was definitely the biggest race expo I’ve ever been to. That’s to be expected with 45,000 runners.  Fortunately it was organized.  Everything was easy to find. It was just so much.  I picked up my stuff and walked around with Mickey and Shurran for a minute and then left.   The shuttle ride back to the hotel seemed to take forever! I was tired. I wanted to be in my room so I could get ready for the big day and lay my ass down.  Made my first mental note “When traveling to an out of town marathon, arrive TWO days prior.”

Shurran, Mickey, and I at the Chicago Marathon Expo

I get back to the area around my hotel some time around 5:30 or 6:00. Hell I was tired. I have no idea what time it was. But I do know that by then I was HUNGRY! I didn’t want to go in search of food so on the walk back I stopped at Whole Foods.  Now let me tell ya…I was all kinds of excited when I saw WF on the walk to the shuttle earlier that afternoon. SCORE! I can stop and get my Green Goodness and some healthy food.  I ordered a simple dinner.  Grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.  Seemed like it took forever for them to make it and I had to remind myself they prepare their meals fresh.  Apparently freshness takes an eternity.  After a 20 minute wait, I get my food and head across the street to the room.  I couldn’t take the lid off the plate fast enough I was so hungry! And then… I look in the bag… No fork. DAMNIT!!! I said that outloud.  For a quick second I contemplated eating with my fingers but since my momma has taught me better than that, I just went downstairs and got some silverware.  But when I finally did get to eat, OMG it was SO good.  Seriously…it was like I hadn’t eaten in days. So good in fact…30 minutes later I went back and got more. Yea…I was hungry…and that plate didn’t have enough food on it. On my 2nd trip to Whole Foods I experienced “Adventures in Chicago” #2. There were 2 men panhandling outside of the store. One gave me the staredown and grunted at me as I walked past.  The other mumbled something about “In the name of Jesus, can you spare some change?”  This is going to sound mean but I just wasn’t in the giving mood.  I was still hungry.  On the way out, the mumbling man says to me in a loud voice (much louder than his mumbles) “YOU SAID YOU WAS GON GIVE ME SOME CHANGE WHEN YOU CAME OUT!!!”  I politely replied “NO THE HELL I DID NOT SAY THAT!!!”.  Shut his ass up too because he wasn’t expecting me to say that.  His reply “Oh. My bad. Got you confused.” Yea. Right. Ok. Confused.

Dinner finally done. Watched tv. Stalked Facebook. Showered. Unpacked my suitcase. Laid out everything I needed for Sunday. And it was lights out at 11:30.  I woke up every hour on the hour. VERY restless nights sleep.  The alarm went off at 4:30. For a fleeting moment I thought about not getting up.  It was a quick thought. I always think that when I’m sleepy but have to get up to do something…(like every day I wake up to go to work). Breakfast of champions was waiting for me so I had to get up. Changed up the rainman routine…Honey stinger chocolate waffle, 1/2 bottle of green goodness, 4 peanut butter cookies, a few sips of gatorade, and a banana.  I was comfortably full and no tummy issues.  4:30 was the perfect time for me to get up. I was able to take my time getting dressed and eating. What was also perfect was my decision to not have a roommate.  Even though it was pricey, having a room to myself was totally worth it.  I was able to get my rainman routine going and noone was there to get in my way or vice versa.  Plus I prefer to not have conversation in the morning. Noone there to talk to me and have me ignore them worked out great! 🙂



Headed out the door around 6:15 to catch the train. Decided I didn’t want to walk to the train station when there was a perfectly good cab sitting right there on the corner. So I hopped in.  Quick ride over to Grant Park and I was there by 645.  I followed the crowd until I saw the gate I was supposed to enter.  Those ladies were checking every single person’s bib and if you were not at the right gate, you were not getting through.  It was serious business out there too! But that’s to be expected with a race that has 45,000 participants.  The set up was very well organized.  Gear check was easy to find. There were plenty of port-a-pots and even though there were lines, the lines were moving.  The start corrals were easy to find.  The volunteers were all smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be out there.

I was feeling nervous and excited all at once.  Ready to get this show on the road…literally.  I hung out with Tes, Tamara, Shanta, and Shirmel before the start.  Tes was super excited…taking pictures with strangers and all. :). Her energy is some kinda contagious.  I struggle with showing outward excitement so I find it amusing when it shows in others.  It kinda gets me going too, even though I may still have a straight face.  So yea…I was excited. Nervous too. But still excited.  The corrals closed at 7:45 so at 7:42 we made our way over. Hugs and well wishes to everyone and we went to our corrals.  I found the 5:45 pace group and got in behind them.  Wave 2 didn’t start until 8:00 and I was at the back of the M corral.  At 8:00 we started moving forward…And then….

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Show, The After Party, The Hotel.

So it’s been awhile since I’ve logged on and attempted to update this blog.  Wanna know why? Because training was kicking my ass and I really didn’t want to write about it! LOL. And that’s the truth.  But I got a little rest and regrouped; now I’m back on track-physically and mentally.

So this past weekend I had my first 20 mile training run.  Just in case you didn’t know-20 miles is a LONG freakin way.  I decided earlier in the week that I was going to go out to the Silver Comet Trail to complete the run. It’s flat. It’s a straight shot.  No need to mapmyrun through downtown or figure out where I’m going.  Plus it’s mostly shaded.

Friday night I’m laying my clothes and gear out to make sure I have everything.  CW-X tights-check. Blue marathon team singlet-check. Kinvara 3’s-check. Injinji socks-check. Garmin-check, iPod and earphones-check, road id-check.  Loaded up my camelbak with my water and sport beans.  Hmmmm…what am I missing?… My sports bra! So I go to the drawer where it normally is. And it’s not there.  I look in the other drawers. It’s not there. I look in the basket of laundry that needed to be folded. It’s not there. Ok. Maybe it’s in the basket of clothes that need to be washed. It’s not there.  Dude asks me what I’m looking for. I tell him.  He starts looking behind the pillows on the couch.  That was kinda funny.  And silly me looks behind the pillows on the other couch.  It’s not there.  So I’m beginning to get a little frantic. How in the hell did my house eat my sports bra?  I went through the baskets, drawers, closets, and couch pillows 3 times. No bra.  Finally I gave up.  Went to bed frustrated because I knew if I didn’t find it then I wasn’t going to be running in the morning.

Saturday morning rolls around.  Dude nudges me and says “Get up and go find that thing. You gotta go.”  So I get up. Head down to the laundry room to check the same baskets that I checked the night before and I see this black shadow on the other side of the washer.  And there you have it….the Enell bra grew legs and went and hid behind the washing machine. So. I get dressed. Pack up and head out.  I’m about an hour behind schedule but I had my mind set on finishing 20 miles so I was going no matter what.

Get to SCT, hook up the iPod and gym boss, and start walking towards the trail.  iPod is dead.  Sigh.  I go put that back in the car and take my phone out. I need music for this. Running it unconnected was not an option.  Thank goodness I had a full battery on my phone.  So I make my 2nd attempt up the sidewalk towards the trail….and realize I need to use the restroom.  Ughhh.  Will I EVER get started?  I make my restroom pit stop and the finally I press start on the gymboss and Garmin and I’m on my way.

Miles 1-5. Decent.  I walked the first mile as my warm up.  And the next 4 I did 1-1 intervals.  Making my usual pace.  I stop after mile 5 and eat a few watermelon sport beans (which by the way I’ve begun eating as snacks…they’re good.). I’m feeling good and happy with how I”m pacing myself so I continue on.  Around mile 6.5 I hear “Val! Val!”  I was in a zone listening to “Drop It Low” and putting together booty shake choreography in my head so it took a minute for it to register that someone was calling my name.  I look up and see that it’s MICKEY!! She’s headed back on her final homestretch and I’m just getting started. Quick hug and all smiles and we both continue on.  I get to mile 8.5 and stopped again.  By this time I’m getting hungry.  Ate a few more beans. Drank some water. And moved on.

Funny moment.  By 9.5 I was hungry. I see a sign on the trail that says “Food and drink” with an arrow.  So…I follow this arrow off the path and what do I see up ahead through the trees?!  The Golden Arches! I was slightly disappointed that it was a McDonalds. I wanted something to eat but not that. So then I began to try to figure out how I could safely get across the highway to the Publix that was on the other side.  I came up with nothing. So I made my way to the 10 mile mark.  WHOO-HOO! HALF WAY THERE!

So I’m now on the turn around. I’m a little tired but still feeling ok.  I didn’t have any real food (Nekots, luna bar) with me and I  kept thinking about that.  Had to make do with just the beans. Took a break at mile 12. And then moved on.  Once I got to 15, I began to feel the burn. I was tired. I couldn’t convince myself anymore that I felt ok.  But I only had 5 more miles to go! And OMG I was SO thirsty.  The water in my camelbak was running low and I knew I had nowhere close to enough to last 5 more miles.  I sat down and collected my thoughts.  GPS’d the SCT bike depot. It was a mile ahead.  Prayed to God that they had water, gatorade, or something for me to purchase.  From mile 15 to mile 16 I moved pretty fast thanks to Don Omar and Danza Kuduro.  I saw the shell gas station behind the bike depot and it was almost like a little bit of heaven on Earth.  Paused the Garmin and made my way over there to get something to drink.  You’d think that as hungry as I had been, I would have remembered to buy some Nekots.  Nope. I was dying of thirst so I bought a lemon-lime powerade.  I have never bought a lemon-lime powerade ever.  But I think I was slightly delirious because I thought “That color looks good.”  Yea I bought a powerade based on the color. Silly I know. Popped that thang open and chug-a-lug. RELIEF! It was so good.  Mixed the rest of it with a bottle of water in the camelbak and got back on course.

Miles 16-18 I listened to Danza Kuduro over and over and over again. And then one more time.  I was so bored and over it. I began counting the yellow lines. I counted trees. I counted cyclists that passed me.  Finally I got to mile 18 and I had a mental breakdown.  I thought to myself “This is so stupid. Why are you doing this?” Mentally I was done. I wanted to cry. My eyes watered up a little and I thought I was going to start hyperventilating.  Ok. The LAST thing I need is to hyperventilate and pass out on this dang trail. So I get it together.  Like C-Doe says “You a G! You can’t cry.” LOL.  I’m nowhere close to being a “G” but yea….no…I can’t cry. Not over running anyway.  I suck it up and keep moving.  At this point I’m doing more walking than running but I was so eager to be finished I took off again.  At 19.5 I almost had another mental breakdown.  So close but I still couldn’t see my car. All I wanted was to see my car. Instead I was looking at this white girl’s ponytail and her funny looking boyfriends head.  I wanted them to move out of my line of sight. But they didn’t. So…. I did the only thing I could think of to do. I ran as fast as I could so I could pass them and stop feeling like I wanted to snatch that girls ponytail off of her head. By the time I passed them I COULD SEE MY CAR! Jesus came down and gave me a high five and I could hear a church choir singing “Hallelujah” in the background.

I hit stop on the Garmin…20.5 miles done. I didn’t cry. I just wanted to sit down. I drank the rest of the gatorade in my camelbak, turned the air on full blast in the car, sat there for a minute in disbelief. And then of course I had to let FB know I was done. It was a mixture of feelings…tired, happy, proud, frustrated, hungry, and thirsty all at once.  This run taught me a few things:

1. I like intervals. I’m comfortable with 1:1. I’m also comfortable with 2:1.  But this time I also experiment with distance intervals.  I ran 0.2 and the walked 0.1. That interval actually felt good and gave me a good pace.

2. I cannot forget my food.

3. I should buy another sports bra so I don’t have anymore panicky moments.

4. I need to carry  gatorade or powerade too.  Just water doesn’t cut it.

5. I can run 20 miles and survive!!!

Three more weeks and I’ll be in Chicago! I’m ready y’all! I’m ready.

Just Don’t Be Last

JDBL Come back! Come back!

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Intro

It’s been a LONG time since my last post.  Too long actually. And I have come up with many things to write about. But as with any marathon training–life gets in the way.  Life definitely got in my way the last few weeks and even had me questioning whether or not this whole marathon business was even in the cards for me.  So this is my come back post. A quick update on what I’ve been doing, feeling, seeing, and hearing since July. 

1. Long runs. I’ve been doing them. Begrudgingly.  I discovered that I don’t particularly care for “training plans”.  The thought that I HAVE to run X-number of miles on a particular weekend messes with my psyche.  But I’ve gotten over it and gotten out there to get my long runs in.  Longest run to date was 16 miles. Just in  case anybody didn’t know…16 miles is FAR. My next one is 18 miles.  These numbers make me laugh.  

2. My first DNF.  The Alien Half was last weekend (8/18).  It was supposed to be a night race but it started at 6:30. The weather wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t favorable either; it was very humid.  I wasn’t emotionally invested in the race.  The days leading up to it I had slacked in my normal hydration routine so I went out there having doubts about finishing it.  At mile 4, I knew finishing was a no go.  The half way point in the race went back through the park where the start/finish line was.  So…I ran half of a half. And I was ok with that.  

3. Awhile back I had the pleasure of reading a post where people were giving their opinions on the plethora of blogs and the number of bloggers out there.  And you know….there are some real “Insert 2 profane words here” out there in cyberspace. I know that not everyone will support my blog or understand why I have one or even care that I have one…and that is 100% fine with me.  I’d rather have positive support anyway. But geez…insulting bloggers…well…anyway….

4. Training for a marathon is time consuming and kinda sucks a little bit. I’m hoping that this feeling will pass once the actual race is over. If it doesn’t, I may be joining the one and done team with my dear Mickey H. 


That’s all for now…



Saturday morning I set out to get in a 12 mile long run.  I had my camelbak ready to go with 70 oz of water.  I had a few salt packets ready just in case my fingers started to swell.  And I thought I hydrated well enough Friday with 70 oz of water. So I’m all suited up and on my way through the streets of downtown Douglasville early Saturday morning.

Miles 1-6 were good.  I was good and tired and sweaty by the time I got back to my car to take my mid-run break and refuel.  As I snacked on my nekots (they work for me as a great mid-run snack), I began to sweat profusely.  I didn’t think much of it. I just figured it was warming up and my body was trying to cool off.  So I set out to finish the second set of 6.  At mile 7.35 I realized I needed more than water so I stopped off at a convenience store to make a quick purchase.  I’m normally a powerade girl but the store only had coke products. I bought 2 gatorades-1 to mix with the water in my camelbak and one to drink.  Took a few sips of that and felt a little better so I continued on my way.

Then it hit me…Mile 8.75.  A cold chill.  Hmm…that’s odd. But I kept pushing. And then at mile 9.10 a series of cold chills took over.  My first thought “Oh shit. Something is wrong.  Slow down. Drink up. And go back to your car.”  So 1.4 miles later I’m back at my car. Still having cold chills and not really feeling the greatest.  I drank up because I figured the chills was something hydration related.  After finishing off the last of that 20 oz of gatorade and 5 or so ounces of the mix in my camelbak, the chills subsided and I headed home.

Once I got home, I knew I needed to eat something and drink a little more. I was still thirsty.  Really, really, unbelievably thirsty.  I drank some water and decided to try the Nuun tablets that Katie from KatieRunsThis gave me.  Fruit punch.  Dropped 1 of the tablets in the 16 oz water bottle and voila…an electrolyte drink.  To my surprise IT TASTED REALLY GOOD! It kind of had a carbonated flavor but not too much.  The fruit punch taste wasn’t over powering and didn’t make my mouth feel sticky like powder mixes do.  And it was ridiculously easy to mix. 1 tablet in 16 oz of water and that’s it. Easy. A child can make it.  Other pros about nuun tablets…

1. It’s portable. It’s in a little pack that can fit in your pocket, your purse, your camelbak, or your spibelt…speaking of spibelt…I need to blog about that amazing little thing too.

2. It’s 8 calories. No sugar. No carbs.

3. It comes in a variety of flavors: fruit punch, grape, lemon-lime, tri-berry just to name a few.  Find others flavors here.

A few hours after I finished the bottle of Nuun, I had another bottle of water, a few rolls of The Stick (need to blog about that too!) and I’m feeling refreshed.  No cramps in my calves anymore. My legs were fine and I even had a little energy to hang out with friends for a bit.  Thanks Katie for giving me this little tablet! It will be added to my list of “must haves” for long run aide and recovery!


Just Don’t Be Last
*Follow me on twitter @justdontbelast

I’ve been in somewhat of a denial about my training.  Cross-training is my strength.  I can go to the gym and play on the pole and go to spin class and kick class and yoga class all day, everyday. But I’ve been slacking on my running.  Yea I admit it…I haven’t been running the way I needed to.  So to get out of my running slump, I signed up for yet another half marathon. Helluva way to get back on pavement hunh.  I needed a long run of at least 10 miles.  I figured I may as well get a medal and a shirt out of it too.

So Saturday, June 9, I finished “Half” marathon #6–the inaugural Dawsonville Half.  Notice I have “half” in parenthesis.  LOL.  This was a “half” like no other.

Dawsonville is about an hour outside of Atlanta so there was no road trip for this one.  I woke up at 4:30 and went through my normal Rainman routine…cheerios, fruit, water, stretch, dress, leave the house.  Arrived at the race site around 6:30. Picked up my bib. And chilled out before the start.  There were some other ladies from the running groups that were participating and my fabulous wondertwin, Crystal.

Wonder Twins. We look SO much alike.

I told them that I really didn’t feel like running.  And I didn’t.  Yes I was being Debbie Downer that morning.  My body was there but that was it.  A half was not in my forecast for that day.  I told them I was running a 10k.  They got a good laugh out of that but I was completely serious.  10k on a half marathon course was my objective.

The start was at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville.  Since this was the first time this race was put on, it was small. Only a little over 200 runners participating.  Many of us walked around the building looking for the start line because it was not clearly marked.  Finally, the RD gave instructions as to where the start was and we made our way over.  I was in “Corral 4” but it was so small I started in Corral 3 with Crystal.  It’s not like there was anyone policing the corrals and checking bib numbers. The race began and we were off.  She was running 3:1 intervals.  I initially said I’d run 3:1 too.  I’ve run that before.  Well…after the 3rd set, I was done with that.  I fell back to my comfortable 2:1.  Then I remembered I was running a 10k. No need to make this difficult since I’d been slacking on my running anyway. So I finally settled into my 1:1 to finish MY race…my 10k.  I was enjoying the course.  It was hilly and tough but scenic.  I had a hellafied playlist that kept me entertained and as I was listening to it I came up with another blogpost.

The first 4 miles were good.  Hilly but I was surviving.  Somewhere around the 4 mile mark I began running down a steep DECLINE.  And it dawned on me that there are runners coming back up this street….cool…out and back.  But dang. What goes down must come back up.  So that steep DECLINE will also be a steep INCLINE once I turn around.  I made it to the end of the out and began to head back.  I remember stopping at the bottom of “the hill from hell” and looking up thinking “Jesus help me now.”  I made it to the top and continued on to the 7 mile marker.

MY race was done by now.  I did my 10k so if I walked the rest of the way back I was 100% ok with that.  Intervals were out the window at that point.  I ran when I felt like it and I took my time and enjoyed the scenery.  The course went through a park that had a walking trail and a track.  Apparently I was supposed to run on part of that track and there were some kids that had some powerful waterguns to cool people off but I missed that action.  Following behind some other old lady…she cut up through some woods so I cut up through those woods too.  I thought to myself “I don’t think we’re supposed to go this way”. LOL. But I followed anyway.  I also passed by a house having a yard sale.  Yard sales in the country amuse me.  Who in the hell is going to drive by there and see this yard sale! LOL.  Anyway.  I’m a nosy person and wanted to at least stop and see what they had but I didn’t.  There was a random juggling clown standing at one of the course intersections.  I don’t like clowns and seeing one on the course didn’t excite or amuse me.  My thought was “Please God don’t let that thing come near me.”  What was the purpose of it anyway?

The last 2 miles were confusing.  There were twists and turns that were not well marked.  I had to run through the parking lot of a cemetery–I found that amusing and past a few houses that I was sure someone was going to come out with a shot gun waving a confederate flag, screaming “N****** get off my property” as I ran by.  The end of the course went through a school parking lot and there weren’t any signs telling which way to go. So I just kept straight and eventually saw an arrow.  By mile 12 I was completely over it.  I made it to the finish line though. Legs intact. Uninjured. Able to walk.

I got my medal. Stretched. And ate THE best banana I’ve ever had.  All in all I rate this “half” a 6.  It wasn’t the worst (Publix) but it wasn’t the best (Palmetto) either.

Dawsonville “Half” Marathon

I guess you all are wondering why I keep putting “half” in quotes.  Well.  A half marathon is 13.1 miles.  No more, no less. 13.1.  This course was cut short by about 1/2 a mile for whatever reason (something to do with a school and the cops had to move one of the arrows…IDK).  It was only about 12.5.  That’s NOT a half marathon.  That’s a 12.5 mile course.

So even though I have a medal from the race that states half marathon and it’s highlighted on my own personal list of completed races, I can’t count it in my official Half Fanatics statistics because it was not truly a half marathon.  I’m not losing any sleep over it, but still…it wasn’t really a half since it was 1/2 mile short of that distance.  I might run it again next year. I might not.  This time it was 100% a training run preparing for Chicago.  June’s marathon training focus is consistent intervals.  That just might be my next post…

Happy training!


Most of you reading this know what a SWAG bag is. Stuff-We-All-Get from races.  The usual t-shirts, medals, coupons, and other freebies that we get for registering and completing a race.  This update’s “SWAGG Bag” is dedicated to my training and “Stuff-We-All-Gonna-Get”  to prepare for Chicago.

1st up: SHOES!!!

When it comes to what I’ve invested the most money in since I began running, my shoes comes in a very close second (next to race fees).  For my half marathons and long runs I wore the Saucony Kinvara 2.  It’s supposedly a minimalist shoe but has quite a bit going on between my feet and the ground. Not sure how that qualifies as minimalist but I did like the shoe.  After my last half mary I had some issues with my right foot.  My Kinvara’s had run their course…literally. So…it was time to upgrade.

Drum roll ………

Saucony Kinvara 3!!!

Isn’t this a beautiful shoe.  I mean really.  I could do without the pink but the rest of it. L-O-V-E. We shall see how they hold up on the long run.

My life won’t be complete without a TRUE pair of minimalist shoes for shorter runs and my cross training adventures.  I have these already

Vibram Bikila

My First Minimalist Love: Vibram Bikila

But I’m also going to test these

New Balance Minimus 00

Whew…I need a sponsor or a sugar daddy or something…These shoes ain’t cheap.


There’s nothing like a pair of hooker pants to make you feel fast. Ha!

Yea buddy! Girl u look good won’t u back that … oh wait… I’m supposed to be writing about the tights…. Oops… My bad.

I love these tights.  I can run cross-country like Forest Gump and still be able to stand upright when I’m done because of these pants right-chea.  If ya don’t know…you gon learn today (and I don’t even like Kevin Hart).

You can’t forget:  SPORTS BRA!!!

I have seen some tragedies in the gym, at group runs, and at races.  Women need to realize that investing in their foundation is just as important as investing in proper running shoes.  I don’t want my “girls” dragging the floor when I’m 40.  Running is high impact and requires high impact support.  My bra size was a shocker to me when I was properly fitted at Intimacy at Phipps Plaza.  The “Bra Fit Specialist” came in the dressing room, looked at my back, left the room, and came back with THE perfect fitting bras.  Now she didn’t tell me what size they were.  She left me to my own devices with that. I was on the 3rd bra when I finally looked at the tag.  I laughed…OUTLOUD! 34G!!!! WHAT THE WHAT?! lol.  My poor babies were being squeezed into the wrong cup size for a very long time.  Anyhoo…I had to find a sports bra to support the Geezy’s and that wasn’t easy. Then I discovered my beloved Enell.  It looks like a bullet proof vest but it does the job.  The Geezy’s don’t move and I’m not in danger of putting someone’s eye out because they’re flapping in the wind.

Enell sports bra in black. Great for high impact activities such as running.

And finally: WRIST WEAR!!!

Garmin Forerunner 110



Ridiculously simple to use.  Tracks distance, time, calories, and has a heart rate component too (I think).





Road ID Bracelet



Do runners run with their drivers license?  I don’t think so.  So the Road ID bracelet is a MUST.  If I pass out somewhere someone will know the heck I am and who they should call to come peel me off the pavement.




So that’s my SWAGG bag…What’s in yours?

It’s almost that time.   The Chicago Marathon is 5 months away.  That’s NOT a long time. The last few weeks I’ve been contemplating this decision to take on a full marathon.  Some days I think about it with excitement.  Other days I think about it and it gives me pause.  Actually it gives me more than pause.  Some days the thought gives me a full stop in my tracks.  But I manage to convince myself that I’ll be fine and that I haven’t COMPLETELY lost my mind.  I really don’t have much of a choice in the matter since I’m registered and already booked the hotel room (which wasn’t cheap either).  So like it or not, I will be in Chi-town for this foolishness.

The Fall Marathon Mafia Team, the FB group for those of us running our marathons this fall in Chicago, DC, & Miami,  is anxiously anticipating marathon training season.  I think many of them are starting in June.  But in case you haven’t figured out by now… I’m not really one to go along with a group. Solo-dolo is my thing. So guess when I’m starting.  Yep…you guessed it… not June.  May 1st it started.  I have to get in my own groove before I take part in any group activities.  The goal is to train smart and not get hurt.  So for the month of May I’m focusing on cross training, figuring out what the heck I’m gonna eat, and getting my gear together.

I have my plan very loosely mapped out.  I’ve taken my measurements and “before” picture of how I look now going into this madness.  I’ve been debating on if I was going to share my measurements.  I’ll post the picture (see below) but the verdict is still on on the inches and pounds that I’m starting with.  My plan is to take a pic and update measurements on the 7th of each month until race day.  I suspect that with this training and adjustment in my nutrition will come some loss of weight and inches.  At some point along the way I’ll give y’all the figures.  But for now… Here’s the “before’…


May 7th. The Beginning.

Pretty ain’t I?! LOL.   This is me in all my glory. Pre-marathon training. Injury free.  Legs in tact. Feel pretty good too.  Next month I’ll take this same picture. Same pose. Same clothes. Same location in front of my platinum stage pole. (yes I pole…more about that in another post).

So the journey begins.  I’m going for it. All 26.2 miles of it.



The double down craziness continued on Sunday, April 15 at the inaugural Run Raleigh Half Marathon in Raleigh, NC.  Thanks to Crystal, we had another generous host to accommodate us Saturday evening.  Her friend, Jason, was excited to have company for the weekend.  He hooked us up too. This man did pre-race shopping for us and had us well stocked with water, fruit, and gatorade! I’m already liking him! Her friend Jackie also came down from Virginia to run the race so he was in heaven with 3 attractive, athletic female runners with him for a night.  What man wouldn’t enjoy that! ;).

Now remember…I just ran 13.1 miles the day before Raleigh so it was a recovery AND prep day for me.  I started the recovery process as soon as Palmetto was done. Chocolate milk, powerade, water, ice bath, stretching.  When we arrived in Raleigh we went straight to packet pick up which was at a specialty running store.  I bought “The Stick” while I was there.    As soon as we got in the car I went to work with this stick! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I let out an inappropriate moan and Crystal looked at me and said “Are you in love?”  I was cheating on my foam roller with a skinny little stick. Hehe.  Yep. I was in love. 

Saturday evening I was the first to go down for the good night count.  I got settled and fell asleep instantly.  We had another early morning coming up and it felt like 4:30 a.m. came around way too fast.  I really did not want to get up but I dragged myself out of bed anyway. Dressed. Ate. Stretched.  And we headed back into the city for the race.

Now for the race recap…This one was nice but there were some things that were different from Palmetto…

I kept up the 2:1 interval for 1 whole mile! Whoohoo!! After that mile, I quickly abandoned it for 1:1 intervals instead.  I was fine for miles 2-5.  I wasn’t sore. My legs felt ok.  There were some rolling hlls and inclines but they were doable.  Nothing like the mountainous hills of Atlanta.  After mile 2 I noticed something unusual.  There was not one single mile marker on the route.  Instead there were volunteers shouting “Only 2 1/2 more miles to go!”; “Less than 2 miles to go!”; “Only 1 more mile to go”; “Mile ‘so and so’ is right around that corner!!!” (it usually wasn’t).  Courses need to be marked.  That was frustrating at first but I made it to mile 6/6.5 in decent time and I was on track to finish under 3 hours.  That was my goal.

Between miles 6 and 7 I began to get a bit warm.  I stopped at every water station to either sip or refill my fuelbelt bottles so dehyrdration was not an issue for me.  But I was hot anyway.  At mile 6.5 I tried something new again…yea yea I know…nothing new on race day. But I was hot and energy was on the cusp of becoming low so I had a chocolate GU.  It was surprisingly tasty. Kinda like pudding.  Drank a bit of water. And moved forward.  I was glad to see the next water stop.  I needed a refill and at this point, I was burning up.  The volunteer was offering to pour water on folks and I gladly accepted her offer! I needed my skin to cool down and those 2 cups of cold water poured down my back was heaven sent at that point.

Miles 7 – 9.5/10 were on a paved path through the woods.  I enjoyed that part of the route.  It was nice to be off the main streets and on a path surrounded by nature.  It was also the first time I’d seen anybody pee on the course.  I had heard plenty of stories of folks seeing others go into the woods for relief but I’d never seen it.  I saw a girl go into the trees and sure enough…there she was in all her glory.  Hope nothing poisonous and itchy was back there.  There was one part of this trail that sucked–big time! We had to go through an extremely dark tunnel.  When Crystal ran through she had to spring because she was coughing uncontrollably.  When I ran through, I also had to speed up because my throat started to tighten up and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  Not a good feeling.

The last 4 miles I stopped caring. I had a mental break down somewhere around 8/9.  Even though I was enjoying the route itself, I was SO over the race.  All I could think was “This wasn’t smart at all. Why am I doing this?”  My foot was hurting.  Bad. I got nervous because I did not want to have to nurse another injury or even return back home and have to explain another injury.  But I was in a bit of discomfort and I had a few miles to go.  It felt less painful when I ran but I didn’t feel like running anymore.  I wanted to walk.  So I’m having this mental vs. physical conflict.  It was not pleasant.  I attempted 30s:30s intervals.  That worked for a few minutes but after awhile it started to get on my nerves.  Again…that whole mental thing was just out the window for me.  I knew I wasn’t going to finish in under 3 hours and I didn’t care.  Considering I stopped twice for about 2 minutes both times to stretch my foot, I was still making decent enough time.  My new goal was to beat my sucky Publix time (3:12).  I could walk at a 15-16 min/mile pace and beat that time.

There was a cruel joke that turned out to be no joke at mile 12…a long STEEP hill.  Early in the race I remember running down that hill and thinking “I sure hope we don’t have to come back this way.”  Sure enough, we did.  Walk up. Run down.

The rest of the way to the finish line I kept hearing “The finish is just around that corner!!” or “You’re almost there. The finish is just ahead.”  I went around 3 or 4 more corners before it finally appeared.  The straight away to the finish was on a slight downhill so I ran a bit harder – Gotta take good finish line pics ya know!  Crystal, Jason, and Jackie were at the finish waiting.  I saw Jason with the camera so I decided to do a little dance through the finish.  Got a few laughs off of that too.  The medal was placed around my neck and I got high fives and cheers.  It’s amazing how perfect strangers are genuinely excited and happy for you at these races. I did make my alternate goal and finished with a better time than I had at Publix.  It wasn’t under 3 hours but it was still better.  So I was happy enough with that.  

As soon as I got my medal, I looked at Crystal. She read my mind.  “Bad idea.”  Two halfs in two days is mentally uncomfortable.   The only ailment I had was my foot and I was really concerned that I had a stress fracture.  (I don’t by the way).  We limped back to our cars, took a few more pictures, and made our way to find food.  After we ate and got back on the road to return to Atlanta, we had a brief conversation about the “Double Down” and if we’d do it again.  She compared it childbirth. You forget about the pain once it’s done and over.  Funny thought but she had a point.  I wasn’t unusually sore and my foot was the only “issue” so….the insanity will continue all over again in the fall.











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