Monday, March 5, 2012

Rock N Roll Nola: Race Report

This was a wonderful weekend overall. I probably partied a little harder than I should a couple of days before my first half marathon. I came to New Orleans Friday afternoon and went straight to the expo to get my packet and wander. There were going to be 20,000 runners, I knew the expo would be packed. Friday, it was slow, so I went to the Claim Your Journey booth to get a Run Louisiana t-shirt and meet a few people I had followed on twitter, then to the massive Brooks expo to get my gait analyzed. It was very informative. There were also lots of great other booths. I played at Garmin for a while. I'm still not enthused about spending that much on a watch, especially since manufacturers themselves have admitted that the watches aren't as accurate as most owners think. But my phone barely makes it 13 miles before the battery dies. I'll need something that lasts longer and soon. This whole time I was texting a friend who came in from Los Angeles with a group to run the race. He is trying to run all Rock N Roll races. We agreed to meet later that evening.

After I left the expo, I met my cousin to run errands and have a late lunch and cocktails. It's always great to talk to her, even when she tells me how wrong I am about things. After resting and imbibing a little more, I then met the Los Angeles group. We went to Mulate's which never disappoints. It was full of families who were in town for a cheerleading contest. Not a fan. We still had a good time then I went back to my cousin's house and passed out. Late morning Saturday, I was back the expo for a bunch of meetups with Run Louisiana/CYJ and the National Black Marathoners Association, then met some Black Girls Run! Baton Rouge friends to wander around the expo a bit more. It was very packed and I quickly got hot and was hungry and ready to leave. I got to our hotel, which was four blocks from the race start, dumped my things and headed to Copeland's for the big BGR! meetup. A total of 10 chapters were represented and the whole meetup was quite overwhelming animated.

When I and my two roommates got to the hotel for the night, we were beat. I had a couple of beers while I laid out my clothes. I told y'all there were lots of pre-race no-nos. On top of that, my monthly friend decided to pay me a visit. I was not happy. It also didn't make for a comfortable sleep, which is always an issue the night before a race. Oh well, gotta roll with the punches.

Oh and the whole race thing. I guess I should talk about that a little. We woke up around 5 a.m., got ready and headed out to the start. It was cold! I only had a long sleeve cotton shirt. I was kicking myself because I was SO sure it wouldn't be cold. Fail. The sun was just coming up and lots of other runners were headed our same way. We encountered a few groups of drunks who hadn't gone in for night. The first group we passed was too engrossed in a conversation about almost being arrested. The second group was aware of the marathon and gave us all high fives, wished us luck and kept moving. I'm a fan of nice drunks who keep it moving. First good sign.

Once we got to the main area, we met up with other BGR! runners, went to gear check and found a spot to stretch. We did two trips to the bathroom, but somehow I had to go again as I waited in my corral! I was in 12 of 26. I decided not to try and go again. That messed me up at the 2011 Crescent City Classic, but those corrals weren't managed well. I said I'd stop at a port o potty on the route. That didn't happen.

The race started at 7 a.m. We got to the starting line at 7:14 a.m. As I approached, I saw a BGR! shirt on a stick, waving in the air. It was running buddy and super cheerleader Rachel. She was right by the announcer's stage and he took notice and shouted out her and the group. That made me smile. What a perfect way to start! I wasn't too impressed with the bands, but the route was wonderful. I never tire of sight seeing in New Orleans, no matter how many times, or how I'm doing it. The crowds were great. Many runners popped off to the sides to hug and high-five family members or kiss kids and spouses. I loved that. So cute. The water stations were well staffed and the volunteers had on gloves. The one issue I had was inconsiderate walkers. Many of them would just stop and walk in the middle of the road, not making any effort to move to the side. I wanted to push a couple of them.

About a mile in, I started talking to myself, which I usually do. Not like "hi V, how's your day going?" "Quite well, how about yourself?" More like, "don't start too fast, watch the road, it's pretty uneven." Once I hit the halfway point, I gave myself a "good job. now start thinking about when you're going to pick up the pace" and "these bands suck, you may need to put some music on soon." During the race, I passed about five fellow BGR! runners and made sure to encourage them. At the halfway point, I started to worry that I was going slower than I should, but was still too nervous to try and pick up the pace. I decided I would put my music on at mile 8. The playlist was by beats per minute courtesy of and it definitely helped. I quickly realized, while I was feeling great, many other runners were struggling. I had to weave through the sea of slow runners and that is no fun. The race finish was in city park going down Lelong Drive and around the back of NOMA. As we crossed Wisner Blvd for the last stretch, a woman had a sign that said "make this last strip your bitch." I had been saying that since mile 10 when I finally realized, "hey! I can finish this!!" I'm looking for another half marathon before my full in October. I don't plan on doing much this week. I struggled through a mile with Girls on the Run practice and have the Head Hunter 10K Saturday.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day One

Today was the first day of the spring season of Girls on the Run of Greater Baton Rouge. Our group of 12 is about half new and returning girls. This is my second semester as a coach. I think I mentioned after the fall 5K that these girls really grew on me. I was nervous about that first semester. I know a thing or two about running, but dealing with a group of 8-11 years, not so much. At the wrap of the 5K, I was near tears a few times as parents gushed about what their girls told them about the lessons and me as a great coach. What? Who!?! Me??

I didn't think that could have been topped. But I came into the school today and two of the girls left their class line and ran over and hugged me. I had to get control of myself to tell them to listen to the teacher and stay in line. Thankfully it was a teacher who recognized me from last semester and she wasn't pissed.

Anyway, practice was pretty cut and dry. I ran down expectations, such as working as a team, paying attention, etc. I'm supposed to have two co-coaches. One showed up and the other will mainly be available on Thursdays. My school has practice on Mondays and Thursdays. The one who showed up today is S. She is great. She started running in high school and after a busy three years of college, she was now able to volunteer. She seems a little shy and nervous dealing with a big group of little kids, but I was the exact same way last semester. Also, I see myself in her. It's a bit overwhelming, not only dealing with kids, but also when you see such a wonderful program that you wish you had when you were 10 years old. One thing I learned last semester is it's OK to answer questions about how you dealt with things when you were 10, 11, 12 years old and so on. It's not always easy to bring up those memories. But I'm good this semester. Because it is the past and it all made you a better person.

We're going to have a lot of fun. I can't wait to get the lessons and real running started. I really hope at some point, we can take the girls out to the lakes nearby to run three miles. We were able to get the emails of most the parents, so I want to see if I can recruit them to come out and help a few times. There is an easy three mile route at the lakes. I'll need lots of volunteers to keep an eye on the girls and I want a water stop at the 1.5 mile mark. I'm more organized this time around and I'll have more help, so I can't wait!!! I'll keep you posted on how the semester goes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I'm still to the point where I'm getting my finances together. This was upsetting because it was time for a new pair of shoes. You're supposed to replace them every 300-400 miles. I had just passed 500. Then out of the blue, my Girls on the Run liaison called me and said she had some running shoes for me. Whaaaaat!?!? She surely didn't know I was broke. In fact, I have made it a point to keep all of my personal information to myself. Probably not the best idea. I've had a few "I'm overwhelmed" cries because I don't talk out my issues. Anyway, she met me right before I went to work and gave me these!!

Talk about small blessings. And it's really not small. I looked up this pair. It's a $150 pair of shoes. I need my running to keep sane. It's my time to clear my head. Or in the case of long runs, me and my running buddy Erika talk about a million things. I was going to have to involuntarily take like three weeks off until I got enough money for another pair and now I don't.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dirty Soles 10K Race Report

Back home from the Dirty Soles 10K trail race at Fountainbleu State Park. My official time was 1:07:37.9 which was better than expected and the race went well. For the most part, the trail was technical, meaning it had lots of roots and the ground was slightly uneven. There wasn't much elevation, as you can see here. I was relieved because I hadn't hit the trails as much as I would have liked.

Now to the business. It was more than a 10K. It was meant to be a 10K and half marathon, but the director, Jeff, just had the 10Kers do the first loop of the half marathon route, which he had marked as 6.55 miles. We'll deal with the discrepancies later. The race definitely earned it's name. We started the race on a utility road that lead into the trail system. I used the Comite River Park Trails as a gauge and brought some bug spay. As soon as I walked into the packet pick up area that morning, the mosquitoes were swarming. I had a small spray bottle of repellent and other people needed it, so I was glad to help.

Now, to the race! The race started on that utility road and one hundred and 50 meters into the race, we hit a a small pond. Some people decided to go straight through it, and fell. Not me. I did a careful slog around the muddy perimeter and quickly learned that it didn't matter. :( Around the 1.3 mile mark, we were required to go through a small canal. Twice. The first crossing took us knee deep. I was in capris, so I pulled them up. The second crossing seconds later was about mid-shin.

It seemed cool at the time, mainly because it was getting hot and the water was cool. But I also was suspect. We were in a huge park, but it was surrounded by neighborhoods. I was really wondering what was in that water. Anyway, I also worried because I still had five more miles to go and my shoes were old. Those Saucony's had served me well, but they were mainly neutral shoes, not fully equipped for the trails, let alone shin-deep water. I had on my Balega's, great socks, so I just told myself to focus on the run. I still needed to make sure to keep my form, not trip and of course, finish!!

The rest of the way, I just watched the people in front of me. I always use the other runners as motivation. If I'm feeling good at my current pace, I just want to keep them in sight. If I feel slow, I start to go after them. Crazy alert: I talk to myself a lot during a race. Every tough segment, I congratulate myself, then encourage myself to stay focused because I still have a ways to go. When I hit the halfway mark, I let myself know, "you've hit the halfway mark, good job, but you still have a ways to go. Stay focused."

That is basically how I finished this race with a time I was happy with and will continue to employ that in my running. Now, some issues. This is not the first time there have been issues with races by this director and his lack of due diligence. I truly believe that if I pay my registration, it is my job to show up, get my swag and run. That's it. I don't think that's too much to ask. It should be noted that the night trail race was also organized by him. I didn't feel like the trail was marked well enough and that was obvious since multiple people got lost. Jeff also didn't explain the course very well, since he appeared to be on beer number three or four during the explanation. For Dirty Soles, on top of the lack of properly marking the 10K route, he also didn't set up a side chute for the half marathoners. He also did not apologize for not doing his job! During the night trail race and Dirty Soles, he admitted, "Oh I didn't set up such and such. I guess I should have."

REALLY, GUY!?!?! I don't think I'm being uptight, mainly because this director is an experienced trail runner. He has run many races himself and knows what is expected. He is not doing that. I have really got into trail racing and at this point, I don't think I'll run many more of his. For the upcoming race, he posted that participants should be ready to swim. I asked if it was a full swim because some people wear iPods and not all Garmin watches are waterproof, his response was that he hadn't mapped the trail yet. SO WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT!?!? This is after he announced that the race is being moved because of scheduling conflicts. That was three months before the race. Three months before the race, you haven't reserved the race site??? That's way too much fail for me to deal with!

On a happy note, his brother is an awesome photographer. LOOK AT ME!! Lookin' like a real runner. :)