Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tallahasee Weekend recap

This was SUCH a wonderful weekend. Besides getting sick during the race, there is not anything that wasn't perfect and amazing.

I can't even put into words how incredible Jennifer was. From the moment I arrived until the moment I left, she took care of everything, spoiled me rotten, and gave me more love, support and encouragement than I could have imagined. We got to spend so much precious time together - talking and talking and laughing and talking and eating and talking and laughing. I got to live in her home, meet many of her friends, see where she works, drive her car, and really get to be IN her life for a long weekend and I loved it. We were already best friends, but this time definitely brought us even closer. It was just as great as having her in my home with Josh and the kids and showing her all around where I live. I do believe we made the most of every minute.

The story can best be told with pictures, so here comes a lot of them. :) I will never remember every detail but here are some of the highlights.

Lauri and I had a long but smooth trip to Tallahassee. Jennifer was waiting for us outside at the airport and after some hugging and squealing (and tears) we were on our way to her house. Her new place is beautiful and after getting the tour, I did what any marathoner does after way too many hours sitting - I rolled! Jennifer snapped this mid-roll.

The next morning we got up to run. I had six miles to do and J was all excited to run together. She was proud to stay with Lauri and I for a quarter mile. It was fun! It was a really nice shake out run for me. It was a hilly area but the rolling hills were fun and it felt incredible to run outside in 45 degrees.  I did the six miles (first three with Lauri) and some strides and felt great. Yay shorts! Yay no snow or ice! Yay sea level! :)
Right before we ran together.
Jennifer had her house stocked up with gluten free and dairy free food for me, and after our run we ate and showered. I made my hot cereal and fruit in the big pot and then ate out of it every morning. :)
Lauri had some shopping to do so we got that done, and then we went to see Les Miserables. I had already seen it (and loved every second of it) but the other girls had not, so it was the perfect thing to do. It was even better the second time. After that was dinner at Carrabba's and then back to J's.

J, me and Lauri
On Saturday morning J and I got up to run after NINE blissful hours of sleep. I truly could not tell you the last time I slept for nine hours. Heaven! We started off our run together again and then I saw her on my way back. Once again it was perfect weather, a beautiful area, and I felt wonderful. More breakfast, showers, rolling, talking, and laughing. J has one huge bathroom so it was a lot like college with all of us in there getting ready at the same time. Super, super fun.

As we were leaving J's house, we found a package on the front step, and it was a PajamaGram from my mom!! She sent J and I really cute PJ's and we had too much fun opening it up and modeling. It was such a fun and thoughtful gift. Pam says these are our "Super Mom" and "Jennifer Gets her Groove Back" pj's. Indeed!!!

I slept in mine the night before the race. J just modeled hers for a bit. She is gorgeous!
We went to the (very, very tiny) race expo and got our bibs and shirts. Jennifer showed us her office where she works, we hit another store, and then we went home for dinner. J made a perfect gluten free pasta with dairy-free cheese for me. So yummy! We went to a small get together some of J's friends were having as a pre-race meal and we talked with the other runners for a bit, and then we got back to J's house nice and early and got everything ready for race morning.

On the way back from the get together is when my nerves hit. Instead of burying them though as I have in the past, I talked about them and dealt with them. I read my "Running Within Book", I prayed, I reminded myself of all that I had done well during training, etc. After a short but good night's sleep we were up and it was race morning! I woke up feeling good. I was focused, but excited and confident. J gave me a sweet card about how much she believes in me (she really is the best), and we got ready and out the door with plenty of time to spare.

We picked up J's friend Gary who was coming to spectate with her, and then got to Florida State University, where the race was starting and ending. Everything about the start of this race was perfect and easy. We parked, went inside a heated building, rested for a bit, used a real bathroom, went outside to warm up (I jogged about 3/4's of a mile nice and easy with Lauri and did two strides) and then we went back in, I took off my warm ups and went to the bathroom again, and we headed out to the start line about five minutes before the race start. No shivering outside for hours, no battling huge crowds, no hoopla, no long portapotty lines, no added stress. There were about 1200 runners doing the half and full combined and everything went very smoothly. This was my favorite race start ever.  I felt ready to run, focused, and excited.

Lauri and I before we warmed up.
Right at the start. J stood right next to me on the curb so I handed her my jacket right before we took off.  

The weather was ideal. Temps were in the low to mid 40's and got into the low 50's at the end. It was sunny, but much of the course was shaded. I was very comfortable in my tank and shorts. I ditched the throwaway gloves around mile 3 and gave the arm sleeves to J at mile 6.

A bunch of the half marathoners took off very fast at the start and some of the marathoners did as well. I did not take off too fast and stuck to my goal pace of 7:00-7:15. I settled into a groove quickly and just felt good. I kept telling myself, "I feel awesome. This is the best I have ever felt". It was true! I passed a lot of runners in the first few miles (those who took off too fast) and then settled in and there was not a whole lot of passing or being passed for a while. A super fast runner that I look up to a great deal gave me the advice to "rest early and work hard late" in the race, and I reminded myself of that often. I felt very comfortable.

J was an incredible spectator. Her and her friend Gary saw me at the start, at mile 1, at mile 6, at mile 13, at mile 15 and then a whole bunch of times after that too. They made signs, took my arm warmers, took my empty bottle and gave me a fresh one, took pictures, took video, had Josh and my parents on the phone, and of course screamed and cheered like lunatics. :) I could not have asked for more!
J trying to stay warm!

The course was an out and back. With the half marathon going on as well, I mentally broke the course up into quarters (to the half turnaround, to my turnaround, back to the half turnaround, and to the finish line). I felt great for both of the first two "quarters" and went through the half at 1:32:30, which is right where Sage told me to. Right past the half point my stomach went south. Now, this is the furthest I have ever made it into a marathon without stomach problems so that is progress, which I don't want to overlook. If I had stopped right then at the portapotty I likely would have only lost a minute or two and had a much better outcome, but I felt SO good running and did not want to stop and get out of my groove, so I tried to hold on to the next aid station (two miles) and then lost way too much time once I stopped. Lesson learned.

I really love this course. The almost straight out and back means very few turns, and it was pancake flat. The out and back also made it nice to be able to see the leaders ahead of you once they turned around and to see the people behind you once you turned around. I actually missed seeing Lauri when I was in the bathroom! She was the one runner I really wanted to see out on the course. It was never too crowded - no weaving at all.

For fueling in this race, I went back to my old reliable - Hammer products. I drank Hammer Heed and took two apple cinnamon Hammer gels (at mile 8 and mile 18). It worked well energy wise and while my stomach clearly struggled, it was not from the Hammer.

During the last "quarter" of the race the wind really picked up. I was running alone so there was no one to draft off of, but I did my best to stay relaxed, run strong, and not get discouraged or frustrated. I kept thinking positive thoughts. I knew it was slowing my pace some, but also knew I was still running strong.

I saw Jennifer at around mile 23 and she told me that there were five women ahead of me, and that two of them I could catch. She was SO encouraging! I didn't have any energy to waste on talking, but I was so grateful for her. I was surprised that I could catch some of the women because I figured after losing so much time with stomach issues that there was no chance I would place. I was running strong though and decided to just keep doing what I was doing and to try and reel them in over the last 3.2 miles.

I came up on the first girl at about mile 24 and was surprised because she had quite the lead on me at the turnaround (before I even wasted time). I passed her and told myself to work on reeling in the next one. Fatigue was setting in and the wind was tough at times, but I could see the girl ahead of me and knew I was gaining ground. I stayed patient, positive, and focused. She had a bike pacer with her and neither one of them ever turned around so I don't know if they knew that I was coming or not. The bike pacer peeled off with one mile to go, and that is right where I caught up and passed her. I expected her to fight back and give me a race, but I kept my eyes ahead of me, kept running, and didn't see her again until the finish area.

The finish line was GREAT. You ran into the FSU track and did 3/4's of a lap and then ran into the finish line. The track felt like heaven under my feet! Before the race started I had grand illusions of sprinting around the track to the finish, but the gas tank was on fumes. I was running strong, but definitely not at a sprint. :) Jennifer ran me in, and my official time was - 3:14:27.

Here are my splits -  7:02, 6:59, 7:04, 7:04,7:04, 6:59, 6:55, 6:55, 6:58, 7:06, 7:12, 7:07, 7:03, 7:04, 11:15 (first stop), 7:00, 7:08, 7:29, 7:20, 8:51 (second stop), 7:17, 7:20, 7:17, 7:35, 7:25,7:34, 6:48 pace for the last 0.3

We thought I had finished fourth overall, but the woman who crossed the line third was 48 (amazing!!!!) so she was Master Champion and I moved in to third overall. The men's race was VERY exciting. Three of them ran a 2:23 and change, and a young guy from Connecticut came out of nowhere and beat the two African runners that we wearing bibs #1 and #2.  I was the 31st runner to cross the line, fourth female.

I talked to Josh and my parents, found a much needed shower, and then we went to cheer in Lauri (who set a PR even after a wrong turn!) and to wait for the award ceremony. Right after I finished, Jennifer gave me the MOST beautiful necklace with 26.2 engraved on it in Roman numerals. It is just beautiful.

As we were waiting I got an awesome compliment - another runner came over and he asked me what school I ran for. Ha! I told him I was 35, married, and have 12 kids and he almost fell over. :)
Sitting in the grass, waiting for the awards ceremony.
I won a beautiful 3rd place platter and $400!
award ceremony
We went out to lunch at Outback with a couple of J's friends, and then back to her place for the most wonderful gift ever. She arranged to have one of the head massage therapists from Florida State University (he works on the FSU football team!) come to her house to give us sports massages!
Lauri and I decided we both love Bob.
Bob was fantastic and really knew what he was doing. He helped my piriformis which tends to get tight, told me I was tougher than the football players, and said he couldn't believe how relaxed my muscles were just hours after running a marathon and that I was an impressive athlete. He made my day. :)

Of course it was Super Bowl Day, so J had a party that night. She put all of my race stuff out on display...

and she bought a beautiful cake....

and Lauri made me a gluten-free, dairy-free cake that J bought all the ingredients for. Marshmallow Fluff as icing. YUM.  

We had a fun night visiting with J's friends, relaxing, and celebrating a fun race.

Monday morning came early. J got a ride to work and I drove Lauri to the airport. Later in the afternoon I picked up J and we went out to a late lunch, then out with some of her friends for a little while, and then out to a fondue restaurant for dessert, before heading back to her place for our last night together for a while.  We made the most of every last minute of girl time.

Now I am close to landing back in Salt Lake City. One three-hour car ride and I will be home sweet home. I have missed Josh and the kids terribly as I always do when I am away. I love them all so much and am so grateful that they give me the opportunity to go and race a few times a year, and that I got this extra long weekend to spend with my BFF. I can't wait to be home!

I do highly recommend this race. It is low-key and well-organized, and it has fast runners, a flat and shaded course with very few turns, and generous prize money. It is a great race!

It truly was a great weekend. I had more fun than I can say. Jennifer and Lauri were beyond wonderful. The race did not go exactly as I would have hoped, but I am happy with how I ran, it was awesome to place 3rd overall and win some money, and most of all, I am so happy with how I felt, mentally and physically. I got my racing groove back. I felt like a different runner than I did this fall, and I am excited for what lies ahead. I will continue to work with Sage Canaday as my coach. I felt confident in his training plan for me from the beginning (long and short term) and I could not be happier with how things have gone under his guidance so far.

Hard work, determination, faith, love, smart training, and more hard work - I do believe it pays off.

More soon!


Happy Running Mama said...

Congratulations, Erin!!! Sounds like it was a truly amazing race and weekend, too. Love that your friend bought all gluten-free food and even made you a cake. My favorite part of this post is that someone thought you were still in school! :)

Happy Running Mama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Team Serrins Springfield said...

Congratulations on the PR and 3rd place finish. What a wonderful finish. I too can struggle with my stomach during runs. I had (what I assume is) the same issue on a training run. Not fun. You are amazing to recover so well.

Where is the picture of what you teased as a very ugly medal?

Kayla said...

I loved this recap! Sounds like a big win of a weekend all around, tummy troubles notwithstanding. Do your nerves affect your stomach? Mine do. If I'm nervous before a race, I have to "go" a whole lot more than normal. Once I get going, I'm fine (though afterward I usually have to "go" again!).

erindegroff said...

Congratulations on a great race! I really love the green Run Happy shirt you are wearing in the first picture; is that a new model from the Brooks line?

Amy Lauren said...

Wow :). Sounds like you had an incredible race and lots of fun in Fla. Jennifer sounds like an amazing friend and hostess too, and I love how you talked about being asked which school you run for... I'm 27 but look about 15 and get that lots, but it's definitely a compliment :). I hope you enjoyed that cool cake too!

misszippy said...

Awesome job, Erin! So happy for you. Way to stay focused and push on even when the going got tough. That is what makes champions!

Glad you feel good about your training, too, and confident in the future. Great place to be!

greengirlrunning said...

What a fantastic weekend!!! Being able to share the experience with your best friend is priceless. Your recap was amazing... it felt like I was running right there with you. Congrats on such an awesome achievement!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Congrats Erin! YOu did awesome. It sounded like you had an incredible weekend!

Jody Britton said...

Congrats on a great finish! I loved reading this story! Training for my first ever marathon and hoping to just get under 4:30...I must say I'm tired just reading your splits! ;) Amazing!! Well done!

L.A. Runner said...

Excellent job and great race report. Once again, progress is progress. Hold your head up knowing that you are getting there... sometimes we have to take the road less traveled. ;) I love all the neat things you did with your bestie. I could really tell what a special weekend it was for you. Times on the clock come and go, but those relationships last forever.

Beth @ Miles and Trials said...

Looks like a truly amazing weekend in many ways. Congratulations on third place AND a PR and having a good/successful training cycle.

Emz said...


Kortni said...

Truly awesome race...congrats on all the victories you achieved on race day!

Nicole said...

So happy for you Erin! It sounds like an amazing weekend with such wonderful friends. You did excellent running the race despite the stomach difficulties and I applaud you!

Adrienne said...

Racing with the girlfriends...there is no substitute!

Congratulations on another step in the right direction. Keep up the positive energy!

Kristin said...

WOW! What a great race for you! Glad to see you using Hammer, they're my FAVORITE and a gem after lots of stomach problems with other products. Have you ever tried a pepto bismal tablet a day before and the day of a race? It's worked wonders for me. CONGRATS on 3rd place, here's to lots of racing and placing!

robinbb said...

What a great weekend and that plaque was well deserved my friend. I am sure you have tried it before, but I wanted to just throw it out there, but have you tried salt sticks during your races to help with stomach issues? I had them at my Half Ironman this summer and again at Disney. Whenever my stomach started to feel weird, I took a salt tablet and the feeling went away allowing me to continue fueling. I ended up taking one tablet right on the hour as my stomach would start hurting right at the hour. I have never been able to take all my gels in a race until I tried it. Just a thought.

Janice {Run Far} said...

Love this so much! You are amazing!

Terzah said...

Great job, Erin, and congratulations again! You earned this great day and weekend! (The nine hours of sleep part makes me jealous.)

AmyZ, PhD said...

Amazing race! And...Um, yeah, can I get my friends in Austin in touch with Jennifer so they know how to treat me when I stay with them (less than 2 weeks!) to run ATX 26.2? kidding! I am sure they will be great hosts.

Raina said...

Congrats to you, lady!! I am so thrilled for your new PR. It seems that you really had the mental battle won early on with this one- and regardless of anything else, you WERE going to have a great race, and any obstacles were only going to be hurdled.

Too funny about that guy asking you what school you ran for! Oh, to be 20 again...

Very cool that you ended up third OA and got the cash!! Great incentive to race- makes up a bit for the travel part. :)

Can't wait to see where things go from here. Sounds like Sage is great to be coached by.

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Favorite part of this post: "I got my racing groove back."

Least favorite: "...last night together for a while."

You are an amazing runner and you have come so far but still have untapped potential that is going to be so much fun to get to see come out in the coming months and years. Of course, I had so much fun this weekend and was SO PROUD of you. So proud to get to watch you race and then parade you around and brag on you!!! I know that's not your shtick, so thank you for indulging me :-) I'm already dreaming and scheming to find a weekend to get to see you again!

Vicky Cook said...

Congratulations on the PR! I'm sorry a couple of imodium pre race doesn't work for you (I remember you said before it doesn't). I have similar issue which interrupts every run I do longer than around an hour (even earlier than that actually) and it is so FRUSTRATING! I'm glad I haven't had to deal with it during a marathon, imodium sorts me out for long enough to get through the race. I suffer afterwards but I'll take that. Hope you find your fix and soon (3 imodium.....4?!)
This result is a reminder to me that training smart is the way to get results. Glad you found a smart coach :)

Christina Williams said...

Love love this story and so many congratulations!!! I'm going to bookmark it and re-read when I get close to my marathon in April for inspiration! That is such a great idea, celebrating afterward with a cake and how wonderful your BFF is for setting it all up. That is how a post-marathon celebration should be! :)

Mommy Run Fast said...

Erin- this is so fantastic! What a perfect weekend, and you ran such a strong, solid race. You are so inspiring!! That is hilarious that you were asked what school you run for... :) Rest up and enjoy the pay off from your amazing hard work!

Aunt Melissa said...

You rock, Erin!

Annie Crow said...

Congratulations! And what a great report.

Nicole Hart said...

Wow, Erin. Sounds like a great weekend. Your running is really coming along. You are absolutely glowing in the post-marathon photos! Congrats. Keep up the good work. I know you will.

monicac2 said...

Oh my goodness, look at those beautiful splits. You ran one hell of a race! It is so clear that but for those stoamch problems, you would have accomplished your goals and then some!

You are very blessed to have your friendship with Jennifer. It's obvious that you two a special bond. That is a rare thing to find as you get older, so cheers to you both!

Annet said...

This was so lovely to read. Could also be titled "How to be the best host ever, a tutorial by Jen" :)

Tenley said...

It was so wonderful to meet you! Hope it's for longer next time -- take care!!

fourinthemorning89 said...

Congratulation Erin! I have discover your blog yesterday! I have found it truly sincere, nice and very inspiring. I'm your fan - much older but enthusiastic woman runner

Kerrie T. said...

I love this. Congratulations!