Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson Marathon 2011
Bethany and Bobby

Andrew Jackson was one tough son of a gun – And I firmly believe you had to be one tough son of a gun to run the Andrew Jackson Half Marathon on Saturday, April 9 (and double tough to run the full).

With dreams of the wonderful Germantown Half dancing in my head, our friends Ron and Beth treated us to Coletta’s to carbo load the night before (my 29th birthday!). Coletta’s was a favorite of the King, and Bobby and I had never been. The garlic bread with cheese was amazing: It was $1.75 for 2 giant pieces slathered in garlic and cheese! We ordered tons of it. Beth’s lasagna came in a steel crock pot thing – I had never seen it like that. Our Round The World pizza was pretty good (Ron said the BBQ pizza was great too). I loved the retro 50’s artwork on the menu. There was also a menu on the wall from the 70’s when Elvis visited the restaurant – Lasagna was $2, drinks were 20 cents, no alcohol was served and no large sizes were available.

We woke up Saturday morning at 4:30am and left the house at 5:00am. I should have gotten up earlier because I didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast or really use the restroom – Strike 1.

Got to Jackson by 6:30am. We both ate a Gu for our breakfast, but I could tell it was not very satisfying for me (why didn’t I get up earlier and eat some oatmeal, why?). At packet pickup – guess what – They ran out of small shirts! Well, it was a white shirt anyway, but it was a tech shirt with a fairly good logo so I was kind of bummed.

Bobby’s race (the full) started at 7:00am, and I cheered the marathoners off. This was a small, country, low-key race. The race director reminded everyone, “Look for the signs for when to turn. If the signs have been stolen, look for the white painted arrows on the street. They can’t steal paint“. LOL

My race (the half) started at 7:30am. Right off the bat – stomach cramp. That is a bad sign right there. It stayed with me for a mile or 2, but wasn’t killer. It was after a couple miles I realized, “Hey, this is a pretty hilly course!”. I just assumed it would be like flat Germantown again. I know Jackson pretty well and never noticed all these non-stop, rolling hills in a car – Strike 2.

Andrew Jackson Marathon 2011
Bobby goes insane after winning 3rd overall

First 6 miles were pretty good. My niece Shelby even drove by at mile 5 and cheered – that was great! But it sure was hot and windy. And while there were more spectators than Tupelo, it was the longest I’d ever run by myself, and I couldn’t find anyone to chat with. The second half really dragged (would these hills ever stop?). By the end, it felt like I had run a  whole marathon! But Shelby was there again to cheer as I finished at 2:28 (Over 20 minutes longer than Germantown 2 weeks ago – argh).

We overheard some folks and found out that no full marathoners had come in yet. After 3 hours passed I was surprised no marathoners were in yet, but it was a small race and a testament to the heat and hills. 3:13 finally saw the winner, 3:21 saw Harry “Birdlegs” from Memphis and 3:27 saw Bobby, 3rd overall (and 1st in age group)!

We stayed for the half awards (I got nothing; I figured I wouldn’t). We tried to stay for the full awards, but they were taking a really long time! So we picked up Bobby’s trophy and headed back to Memphis to eat some leftover Coletta’s pizza and watch Netflix.

You take the good
You take the bad

You take them both
And there you have

The Andrew Jack
The Andrew Jack

G’town Half

Germantown Half MarathonCloudy and Sunny, Wet and Dry, 40 degrees and 70 degrees – That is difference between the 2010 Germantown Half Marathon and the 2011 Germantown Half Marathon.

It seemed like everyone in Memphis was running the G’town Half. At the start I chatted with Beth, Susan, Yu and Virgina. Virgina and I discovered we were both aiming for 9:00 – 10:00 minute miles and decided to try to run together. I can’t say enough how much this helped.

Right at mile 1 I bumped into Bobby’s dad, Mike (Last year I didn’t catch up to him until mile 5). For the first couple miles we ran with Patrick, but then he picked up speed. We caught up to Francesca around mile 4 and ran with her for a bit. We loved Mile’s hot dog costume and “power up boost” poster at mile 5.

Germantown Half MarathonThe half way point at Houston High School featured a water stop hosted by all the Breakaway crew and a beer stop hosted by James, Keshia and Cassie (taking photos). One gentleman behind me grabbed a beer and said, “Don’t take my photo; I’m Baptist!” I was feeling so good I took a sip of beer, my first ever during a race!

This whole time Virgina and I had been staying closer to 9:00 minute pace than 10:00, and feeling great! We might both PR, but it would be close. We ran into Patrick again at mile 9-10 at Cameron Brown Park and ran with him some more (his knee was hurting really bad). It was at mile 10 last year where I couldn’t keep up with Keshia anymore and had to fall back. Not this year!

Germantown Half MarathonAt mile 12-12.5 we saw Bobby! He had finished at 1:29:11 (a PR by a minute) and ran us in. I was feeling great and had a super fast sprint to the finish. My final time was 2:05:58. Virgina was right behind at 2:06:14. Our friends were not too far behind us.

Afterwards I felt a little lightheaded for a couple minutes, but after sitting down for 5 minutes, I was good. Apparently right after I finished some girl had to be put on a gurney for dehydration – it was a warm day. The food afterwards, was not so great: Soup, small generic cookies and bananas. I guess the rational is that it isn’t a marathon. Oh, and I did get my small tech shirt this year as opposed to last year!

What’s great about the Germantown Half:

  • Mostly flat course
  • Good crowd support
  • Scenic, suburban course
  • If it isn’t randomly ice cold and raining, there should be mild temperatures
  • Everyone you know in Shelby County will be there!

What’s not-so-great about the Germantown Half:

  • Food after race is not that good
  • Shirts are tech, but could use a redesign – Rather small seal/logo left chest and sponsors on back (maybe make logo full chest at least?)

Little Rockin’ It

Little Rock MarathonIs there a better way to start the March marathon season than your first ever Shamrock Shake? I didn’t think so. (Note: I think these are just vanilla shakes with 2 dabs of green food coloring; I was disappointed to not taste anything different.)

Beth and Ron picked us up in their giant suburban Saturday, March 5, and we drove to Little Rock (with the aforementioned McDonald’s stop). A quick stop at Ron and Beth’s hotel, and it was on to the expo!

The expo was about the same size at St. Jude’s. Bobby bumped into his running buddies David and Richard who were pacing the 3:35 group. They regaled Bobby with the perks of being a pacer: race fee wavered, free admittance to VIP areas, free hotel room, free neon yellow PACER shirt and best of all – a small sign on a dowel rod. I had actually always wondered if those pacer signs were heavy, and I was allowed to hold it. It was surprisingly light and the pacers said it had never given them a neck or shoulder cramp during a race.

Where were Bobby, Michelle and I staying in Little Rock? The Governor’s Mansion, of course! The governor is Michelle’s dad’s cousin (practically a brother; they grew up very close). We got a tour of the place from Mike and Ginger. Michelle stayed in a guest room and Bobby and I stayed in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath guest house outside.

We stuck with tradition and ate at Olive Garden again for a pre-race dinner. It was packed.

Little Rock MarathonThe race was Sunday, March 6 at 8:00am. It was a little colder and cloudier at the beginning (30’s and 40’s) than we all expected. I had luckily brought a throw away hoodie to keep warm, and Bobby wore a new toboggan he had bought at the expo. We saw Katherine while waiting inside a crowded restaurant near the start. This race is definitely smaller than St. Jude or a Rock and Roll Series. There were 4 corrals, but after the wheelchair start we were all off!

At this race you could put your name on your bib. It was a great touch and total strangers would yell your name out during the race. Bobby decided to be funny and put “Roberto” on his. If we go again I’m going to think of a funny name.

The first half had zero hills. I had thrown off my hoodie by mile 4. We grabbed some Mardi Gras beads a church was handing out near mile 12. It was at mile 13 I saw a young guy in dark dress pants, suspenders and black dress shoes running the whole marathon. That would be tough (and he finished too not far after me).

The crowd support in Little Rock was the best I’ve ever seen – it was like the whole city was out. People were cheering and giving away free food and drinks the whole race course (Krispy Kreme doughnuts, oranges, frozen margaritas, Sprite, beer, candy, etc).

Missy and Billy were waiting at the top of a big hill around mile 16 (in the “Midtown” of Little Rock) with a sign saying, “Go Memphis Runners!”. Missy ran a couple miles with us and chatted with us the whole time – that was such a boost.

The down and back (miles 18-23) was flat, but tough. The sun came out, and it was getting hot and Beth’s knee was hurting a lot too. Here we saw a solider in full uniform with backpack jogging/walking the marathon – wow! We were hurting, but getting close to the end now…

Little Rock MarathonI passed on the “lipstick stop” at mile 25 where they gave away lipgloss so the marathoners could look good for their finish line photo, and the beer stop right before that. I shouldn’t have!

Michelle set a new personal record in the half marathon at 2 hours and 22 minutes! Bobby also had a new personal record for the marathon at 3 hours and 13 minutes. He had started with his buddies in the 3:35 group, but just kept working his way up. He came in 50th overall for the entire marathon (out of 1,814 marathoners)! He was even handed an embossed card inviting him to visit the Capitol Building on a weekday to receive a special gift from the Secretary of Arkansas.

I finished at 5 hours and 9 minutes (A little longer than at St. Jude, but I felt a lot better at the end of this race). My running buddy Beth was not far behind at 5:21.

Beth said, “Never again,” but I have to say, it was the best race I’ve had so far, and I’d do it next year!

New Orleans Half Marathon Report: Part 2

Race morning! The alarm on my Droid went off at 5:00am, but I was waking up all night (thinking I overslept), per my usual big race routine. Ah well. I tried to boil some water in the in-room coffee pot for my instant oatmeal, but the coffee pot didn’t work at all. Luckily the water from the tap got really hot. That must be an old timey pick up line: “You’re hot enough to boil my oats, baby!”

We all hopped in a mini van cab outside that we shared with another fellow runner to the start. We found out there that James had missed the shuttle to the half-marathon relay point (he is doing the second leg; Brett is doing the first), and he will have to walk. But it isn’t too far away. We stayed in line for the porta-potties forever – Bobby didn’t think he’d make it time (being in corral 1 and all). Side note I forgot to mention: I must have been out of it when I registered back in January because I put my expected half-marathon finishing time as 1:15:00. Didn’t realize this until I got my confirmation letter a week before the race, where they placed me in corral 1. Yeah – that’s not happening.

Keshia and I went back to corral 13 while the fasties went to corral 1. It was cold! I wore my favorite black shorts and blue St. Jude tank top. I was glad I did because it did get warm later, but waiting in the starting line was colder than expected. Should have brought a throw away sweatshirt.

The first few miles were chilly, but I warmed up. Great crowd support the whole way. The blisters on my pinkie toes were wrapped up in band-aides, but still hurt some and that made me run a little funny (#1 stupid preventable mistake = Toe blisters). First few miles were zero pain. But already at mile 3 I started to get some left knee pain again that stayed with me off and on throughout the race (#2 stupid preventable mistake = Tapering too much; Not running at all the week of the race). I loved the KISS singers around mile 3.

The race was going by fast! I was feeling good (blisters and knee pain aside) and Keshia was feeling great! Roads started to get pretty bumpy and rough at mile 6 – I felt like I was trail running I was looking down so much. By mile 10 my knee was giving some sharp pains that were slowing me down more, and I lost sight of Keshia. Even though, thought I would be okay until (and this pissed me off most of all) I kid you not, right at mile 13 – right when I was coming into the park for the finish – I got an insane stabbing stomach cramp exactly like I got at St. Jude around mile 13/14 (#3 stupid preventable mistake = Use the bathroom the morning of the race, or at least the night before; yes, you know what I’m talking about, that has to be what it was). I wanted to sprint it in so bad, but all I could do to hold my stomach and do a slow jog while everyone around me was cheering and sprinting to the finish. So frustrating. It kinda went away a few yards before the finish line, but in my finish line video I am sort of hobbling (probably the blisters helped with that too; it was heaven to get those shoes off).

But still, new half marathon PR! 2:11:37. Old time was 2:13. My overall pace was 10:03. Keshia PRed too with 2:09. Pam also PRed with an amazing 1:44 with Patrick right with her. And James and Brett got 3rd overall in the relay – Wow!

We waited for Bobby and Nathan to finish the marathon. After accidentally waiting at the half marathon finish for awhile, not realizing there were 2 finish lines, we raced over to the marathon finish. There I finally bumped into Michelle! She had PRed with 2:27. Bobby finished the full marathon with 3:27:44 with a 7:56 pace and he felt great! Nathan was not far behind him at 3:34.

We regrouped, relaxed in the sun and drank our 2 free Miller 64 beers (AKA water). The weather was great. I inspected my blisters and found that my left one had turned into a blood blister. Bobby saw it and said, “Is that a red jelly bean on your foot?” When I told him what it was he was horrified and promptly named me “Skittle Foot”.

For lunch we ate po-boys at a small place that featured several Ziploc bags with pennies in them, hung up to keep the flies away (seemed to work). Bobby and I had the Alligator po-boy and I had my first ever Bloody Mary (verdit: too salty for me).

For dinner that night we ate at the Acme Oyster House at 724 Iberville Street and had the most amazing oysters. Bobby and I had eaten there on a previous trip, and it is well worth the wait in line. I saw a 15-dozen oyster challenge featured on the wall and believe me, I think I could have done it (though I don’t think I want to know the stomach ailments that result from too many oysters – yerg). Again we wandered down Bourbon, this time venturing into the many souvenir shops. We even bought a bag of beads and threw a few out from the balcony of a bar (not a lot of takers on a Sunday night though). We got revenge on Patrick by being “so kind” and buying him a shot of absinthe. Then we ended the night at the piano at LaFitte’s.

Monday morning we were on our way back home to Memphis. What a great trip, and if we do the race next year I know I’ll do better from my lessons learned!

New Orleans Half Marathon Report: Part 1

We arrived in New Orleans on Friday afternoon after a 6-hour car ride with Keshia and James. It actually went by pretty quick. Originally we were going to rent a minivan and have more with us, but Brett had to leave later and Allison decided not to go.

Our hotel was the Holiday Inn Westbank. Awesome that it was newly renovated and cheap, but not so awesome that the nearby interstate was quite loud. Probably won’t stay there next time (but the authentic 1950’s coffee shop 2 buildings down was a kick).

The first restaurant our tour guide Nathan took us to was Lola’s – A small Spanish restaurant at 3312 Esplanade Avenue. You can bring your own wine (or even beer as Pam and Patrick did). Their sangria was great. This was the first restaurant of many in NOLA were we discovered “The Curse of No Splitting Up of Checks”. Guess what’s hard? Doing math after sangria – Yarg!

Afterwards we traveled to DBA on 618 Frenchman Street to hear the “Pirate Band” as Cassie called them. I think they were Russian? Whatever they were, there was a stand up bass (which the singer actually stood up on at one point) and an accordion involved. Next was LaFitte’s at 941 Bourbon Street – one of the oldest bars in the United States. Patrick was “so kind” to treat us all to Jagerbombs – one of the oldest drinks in the United States (Wait, I may have to get my fact checker on that). The rest of the night was spent wandering down Bourbon where Patrick was “so kind” again and treated us all to Hand Grenades (which I’ve always had every time I’ve been to NOLA). Hmmm…Bombs and Grendades? I see a theme here…

Saturday we recouped by going to Mother’s at 401 Poydras Street for a late breakfast. Long wait for this place. We’d tried to go on previous trips but had been scared off by the long line. It actually moved quite fast. Getting food was a little strange: You wait in line inside like a deli to order and then seat yourself where ever you can get a spot (usually hovering over someone busing a table). But we kept wondering, “How are they going to know where to bring our food?!”. Well, someone comes up to you after you snag a seat and you give them your receipt. Food was pretty good, coffee was my fav (zero bitterness). Honestly not sure if it was worth the wait and crazy seating arrangement though.

The Expo at the Convention Center was next. By this point I realized the shoes I’d picked out to walk around it weren’t as comfortable as I’d thought. Blisters on both pinky toes had formed – Argh! But the expo was the coolest I’d been too: tons of vendors, games, giveaways. Finally got a Hippee Runner belt with the correct 4 loops and in a cool shade of pinkish-coral. I should have ragged the guy about my defunct 2 loop belt I got from them off of Amazon (which I have yet to return – yikes – need to do that).

Pre-race dinner was some amazing sushi at Ninja at 8433 Oak Street. I could’ve eaten 4 bowls of their seaweed salad. The Swamp Roll even featured some marinated seaweed draped on top of it. Bobby ordered the spicy Volcano Roll and was treated to a giant plate of sushi, piled high in a volcano shape. It was covered with so many delicious crispies and chili sauce, we wondered if there actually was any sushi underneath. But the award for spiciest roll goes to the Devil’s Roll, ordered by Brett. Tears of joy (pain? anger? love?) rolled down his cheeks. Bobby confirmed it was the spiciest ever and filled with wasabi.

After a dinner that was probably too long, we convoyed and parked Nathan’s car near the finish of the race so we would have a ride back the next day. This was a fantastic idea, and I highly advise it (just make sure not to park in one of the many tow-away zones on race day).

We drove back to the hotel and snuggled into bed, exhausted, a little later than we wanted (11:00pm I think?) but excited for the race tomorrow!

New Orleans Half Marathon Report: Part 2 – Coming Tomorrow

Little Rock Marathon Medal Unveiled

I almost forgot that I hadn’t posted the unveiling of the Little Rock Marathon medal! It looks fantastic. I love the Grecian border and font on the thick gold ribbon. The addition of the spinner this year is amazing – It even convinced a friend to register at the last minute. It is, “Just as big as last years if not bigger.”

View the medal presentation on YouTube

The YouTube the video it pretty amusing – The parks and rec department in Little Rock seems straight out, well, the show Parks and Recreation. Very amateur and folksy…but passionate about their race.

Little Rock Marathon registration

If you want to register – Good luck! Half marathon is completely full now and only 20 spots left in the full marathon as of this morning. There is a marathon relay and 5k available as well.

NOLA Bound

All my Gus are packed
I’m ready to go…

Well, I’m not totally packed yet and I have Cliff Shots too, so that song isn’t totally accurate. But I am ready for the New Orleans Half Marathon this Sunday morning at 7:00am! Weather report says low of 45, high of 60 and sunny. Much better than the Snowpocalypse we are having here in Memphis.

My plan is to do 5 miles at the Midtown Breakaway group run tonight. It will be my first run since last Saturday’s 18 miles! Bobby hasn’t run all week. But he has swam and worked out some. He is trying to recreate the awesomeness of the Tupelo Marathon *knock on wood*

Road Race Series Survey

If you ran in the 2010 Road Race Series, you should have received a survey in your inbox a day or two ago. Be sure to take it and see if your answers to the three fill-in-the-blank questions can be as creative as my husband’s.

Here’s Bobby’s response to the final question, “What can we do different next year?”

“I think my favorite bands should play in concert at every mile marker (email me for the list). I would like the timing chip to be a permanent brightly colored ear tag that publicly displays current location during and after the race. There should be a wide variety of fancy bears at the beer stops. The 5 miler needs to have a fleet of trucks with air conditioning units pointed at the runners & this same fleet shall heat the 1/2 marathon. The timing mats to confirm that a runner has successfully had their ear chip register with an electrical shock. Runners should be allowed to run with iPods if they also run with blindfolds.”

Is Everything Bigger in Texas?

Courtesy of spryfeet.com

The Texas Marathon in Kingwood, TX may be threatening to usurp Little Rock’s title as “Largest Marathon Finisher’s Medal in the World”.

This small race, held on January 1, 2011 had only 650 runners. They have long been known for giving out a really big medal (last year’s was 2.2lbs). But I have heard this year’s was nearly 3.5lbs and the largest in the world so far!

You can see the evolution of their medal over the years at 26point2medals.com

Little Rock – Don’t let this po-dunk Texas town take your title! This year’s Little Rock Marathon medal had better be the biggest.

These hips DO lie

For your hilarity and enjoyment – The photo is me at the Winter Cross Country Series 8k on Sunday at the famous Stanky Creek crossing (courtesy of MRTC). Yes, I am always constantly screaming while I run. No, I am not completely insane.

Oh, SO…if you are thinking of trying to wear your water belt around your hips – Don’t. It is not going to work. With those water bottles filled the belt bounces 15 feet up in the air with each step. Very annoying. I didn’t even last 1 mile of my 16 mile run Saturday with it at the hips before I moved it up to my waist. BUT since I got a medium it is too big for my waist. Yeah…got to return another belt. My shipping department (Bobby) is starting to get grumpy

Also, the neon pink Go Belt arrived and only had 2 loops for Gu when it clearly said on the website, “NEW! Now with 4 loops!” Maybe I got an old one. The photos of the black one definitely show 4 loops – thinking I will return and get a black one. Or get something else. I need all 4 loops!