Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon 2014

5am wake-up call. Seemed late after the 2am-4am wake-ups for Dopey Challenge. Yes it may be three weeks post Disney, but I still put race starts in relation to Disney time. ;)

Flat Dani was ready to go!

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Real Dani was slightly dragging, but ready to give it my all.

Thankfully Kenlie of All The Weigh lived just a 5-minute walk away from the Start area.

Sah-weet!

I headed to the VIP tent to meet my Team Chocolate Milk running mates for a group photo at 6am. It was drizzling. I just didn't want it to start downpouring. I hoped the real bad weather held off until at least 10am.

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I love meeting the other folks from Team Chocolate Milk since we are spread out all over the world. There are a few folks that I have seen at multiple races including the inspiring Angela from We Beat Fat. She and her husband have combined to shed over 500 lbs!!

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After grabbing half of a free bagel, chomping on my KIND bar and taking my ENERGYBits, it was time to hit up the special VIP port-o-potties and gear check before heading to the Start.

The race was set to start at 7am so I tried to hustle into Corral 2 with time to spare. Especially since Dacia from My Roots To Grow was going to meet me at the Start.

But as I walked to the Start Line, I tried turning my Garmin, it would spit out "low battery," and shut off.

No No No!

It had been charged. What was going on? I tried about 6 times. Nothing.

Well, it looked like I would be running the race "naked" as runners call it - IE sans watch. You dirty minds you! ;)

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Of course I had to grab a selfie.

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In case you didn't believe I was at the Start.

I made it to Corral 2 and Dacia was there waiting for me. :) We chatted about her game plan for spectating the race. We were hoping she would see me at least one time out on the course before heading to the Finish.

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As we were chatting and taking in the scene, Michael of Point One Miles came over to say hi! He had been at the #RnRTweetup, but we didn't have a chance to chat there.

I was sort of freaking out about not having the Garmin, but talking to Michael and Dacia was distracting. Since Michael and I were in the same Corral, we were going to start the race together.

The National Anthem played and it was time to big farewell to Dacia.

As we approached the Start (both the marathoners and half marathoners were all starting together), I tried to get my Runkeeper app to load.  I never keep my location services on so trying to figure out what I needed to change on the phone to get Runkeeper to start was just not working. So I said F-it. I would be running without any sort of tracking.

What was the worst that could happen?

Dacia hustled herself just past the Start to catch this gem!

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My goal was to use the run as a training run for Boston since I had missed the 16-miler with Tedy's Team the previous day.

The humidity was thick. The rain was drizzling. The ground was sort of slippery. So I wasn't trying to PR out there.

Michael and I got in a great rhythm. I let him know he could easily leave me at any point if he wanted to try for a PR, but he also felt like taking it easy with the weather conditions.

It was great chatting with someone during the run.

There was what I could call a decent crowd size as we ran through the city.

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The bands were great. We were able to enjoy some multiple times as we had a down and back situation at the beginning of the race.

After the band we spotted the two wheelchair racers and the elite runners. I cannot explain how far ahead the first half marathon and full marathon guys were from the rest of the pack. They were running together and neither looked like they were breaking a sweat.

We ran the first 4.5 or so (again no specifics since I didn't have my watch) before we turned around. The weather was overcast and foggy so I couldn't totally see the historic sites.

Thankfully a gentlemen rolled up next to be during Mile 4 to point out Loyola University and Tulane, etc. Thank you again Sir.

We also discussed the Rock 'n' Roll shirts for this race and our disappointment in the color choices. I love making friends on the course. The shirt was grey with dull green/purple coloring. I was just expecting something more vibrant.

Eh! We know I pay more attention to the medals anyway. ;)

While Michael and I chatted away we talked about his running dreams, his desire to want to complete a full marathon and our thoughts on some of the other races we have both done.

I love the down and back because after we took the turn before Mile 5 we could see our fellow runners coming toward us.

I heard someone randomly yell out "Go Irish Eyes!" which made me so freakin' excited. I am glad a photographer didn't catch what I looked like.

And I also got to see Sarah from Mom Running On Empty, Mindy from Road Runner Girl, which totally put a little pep in my step.

As we headed towards Mile 8, the crowds started to get more animated and that's where we spotted it ... a table of donuts!

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So of course we stopped. I freaked the poor girl out as I took this little shot.

Then someone else at the table shouted "We have a keg," which is why this diddy was born.

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We both passed on doing a mid-race kegstand, but we each took a donut ... or two!

Holy dry mouth. There unfortunately wasn't a water stop after the donuts, but we did see the Mile 8 marker.

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I was glad Michael was in for taking ridiculous in-race photos like me. :)

Mile 8 was going to fly. Why? Because I had been texting with Dacia so I knew she and her boyfriend would be there waiting for us at Mile 9.

And they were!!! I came in for a HUGE hug from Dacia. It was a great pick-me-up.

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As were these awesome bagpipers.

After seeing familiar faces, it was time to look out for Michael's Lululemon cheering squad. :P I think he thought they were out there just for him. Should I break his bubble? Nah.

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They were totally there just for him.

While we headed to Mile 10, we ran DIRECTLY into the fog. We really noticed the blanket of fog as we passed the Crescent City Brewery (which I had visited the day before).

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I wondered if we were just going to fall off the end of the world. It was a sight similar to Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half back in October 2013.

But we went into the fog and thankfully came out alive. :) We even got a little clearer shot to see the RnR Dude.

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I love seeing that guy at every race because it usually means you are inching closer to the Finish.

I tweeted out to the masses that we had hit the Mile 10 mark. It was at that time that I actually started feeling the humidity. You could cut it with a knife.

All race long I made sure to grab water and gatorade at each water stop to make sure I was keeping myself hydrated. It may have looked overcast, but the humidity was there.

We hit Mile 11 and the clock was off. Dammit. I was hoping to try and do a little math in my head to see how we were doing.

Michael had stuck with me, took goofy pictures and had a donut (or two), but I was still hoping we would finish sub-2.

Mile 11 actually flew by as we were busy talking to the folks around us. Oh and I was trying to ignore the humidity.

By Mile 12, I was ready to be done. Hey, there are just some races that you feel like that.

But when we hit Mile 12, the clock said 1:45 and change. Michael turns to me and says: "I don't know if we are going to make it." I reassured him that I am from Boston and no matter what I would walk a mile faster than 15 minutes so we would be golden.

At Mile 12.5, we saw the signs ... JELLO SHOTS!

Oh hell yeah we would be stopping for one of those and we did. It was a little difficult to eat while running, but this race was all about fun so we made it work. ;) Plus how often do you say I had a jello shot during a race.

At that point the Full Marathon runners headed to the left, while we continued straight ahead to the Finish. I felt like I was on a treadmill. I was moving, but didn't feel like I was moving forward. It made me feel like I was back in the last 0.2 miles of the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Full in November 2012.

But Michael was being a great cheerleader and we were pushing each other along.

Apparently Dacia and Erick were just after the Mile 13 marker, but I was oblivious. I saw the Finish Line and was gunning for it.

Michael and I went Start to Finish together and rocked and rolled to a 1:55:43. It turned out to be Michael's second-fasted half marathon. Woo!

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Don't we look great for having OWNED 13.1 miles.

I had a blast. It was a great flat course. The crowd wasn't as full as I would've expected. I was also surprised to see the Finish Line over a mile from the Start. I hadn't experienced this at a Rock 'n' Roll event before. I think some spectators had difficulty getting around the course in a timely manner.

My spectators Dacia and Erick were ON it. I need to thank them again for jetting around New Orleans to see me.

After snapping a couple of pics at the Finish Line,

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I headed over to the Got Chocolate Milk tent to #FinishStrong. But, we needed to move from one tent (Half Marathon) to the other tent (Marathon) so I could see some of the other folks that manage the team.

Can you tell I am in a "Take me wherever you need to" mode? :P

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And it was worth it. Oh delicious low-fat chocolate milk. The best way to refuel post-race (before the beer of course).

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I met back up with Dacia and Erick and we headed to the second VIP tent so I could grab a quick snack and a much-needed mimosa.

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Oh and a mini beignet of course. Deeellliisshhh!!!

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I did pay the $20 to have my medal engraved. It is $20 at Rock 'n' Roll races, but I do it at every one. Mainly because if they mess up they have a whole stack of medals to replace it with. I don't have that luxury if I do it at home.

My amazing cheerleader and I snapped a couple photos before heading to breakfast.

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I was REALLY into whatever Dacia was saying. :P

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It was great walking back down the street, while others finished both the Half and the Full Marathon. Some of those Full Marathoners were finishing sub-3 hours and looking strong and fierce.

So running without my Garmin or Runkeeper was slightly unnerving, but it was also freeing to just run and truly live in the moment. How about not having any sort of splits in a race recap? :P

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I want to thank Got Chocolate Milk for sponsoring me to run the RnR New Orleans Half Marathon.

Did you run? Did you have a blast?

New Orleans: Arrival, Expo & #RnRTweetup

Did you all know I was excited to head to New Orleans? You may remember this post about it - check it out if you don't.

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I arrived to the airport early since I was heading solo and I am a worrier. Plus I like a pre-flight beer at Boston Beer Works.

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If you don't recall, I was heading down to New Orleans on Jet Blue. Thanks frequent flyer miles. When I rolled up to the Gate, my name was being called over the loudspeaker. Oh man that is never a good sign - is that I said to all the people around me.

BUT IT WAS AWESOME!! It is the 10th anniversary of Jet Blue being in Boston and I was the 10th person to check into my flight so I won...

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... 10,000 Jet Blue Miles and a $10 Dunkin' Donuts gift card.

Aaaaahhhh-may-zing way to kick off the weekend.

The flight itself was uneventful - little napping, little TV, little people watching. The usual.

I arrived in New Orleans and took a cab to my friend's place. I would be staying with Kenlie from All The Weigh for the weekend.

We checked out the amazing view from her rooftop and I had to dip my toes in her pool. I didn't care that it was chilly ... it was warmer than Boston so I had to do it. :P

We headed out to grab dinner at a cute little sushi place before checking out Bourbon Street. It was my first time to New Orleans so it seemed like a "must do." It was definitely a sight to be seen.

After a long day of work, traveling and adult beverages, it was a deep sleep. Plus Kenlie's couch was super comfy.

I sprang out of bed off the couch Saturday because it was finally #RnRTweetup time.

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I was excited to finally meet these lovely bloggers in person.

Kenlie was nice enough to drop me off at the Expo. Little did I know the convention center was MASSIVE. I entered at Hall A and the RnR Expo was at Hall J. I was shockingly running late, which is rare for me.

I made a quick stop at Starbucks to grab a coffee. :( It was no Dunks.

But I hustled down the covention center and made it to the Expo with about 15 minutes to spare.

I headed over to the Stage area. Ahh I would be up there talking and hopefully people would be there enjoying it.

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Oh and our names were even on the poster.

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I was geekin' out!

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There were the ladies! I have been chatting with these ladies online for years and it was finally time to meet them in person.

From left to right: Me (Duh!), Sarah from Mom Running On Empty, Mindy from Road Runner Girl & Abby from Back At Square Zero!!

We all hopped on stage and got the party started!

It was a BLAST! The time flew by and I was happy to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. :)

Here are some amazing shots captured by Ashley from Rock 'n' Roll.

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Not the most flattering photo of me, but I am probably talking about my love of Race Bling! ;)

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What do bloggers do when they get together at a tweet up? This picture sums it up perfectly! :P

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I can't express how awesome it was to meet such amazing women at one time. I was overwhelmed with love and happiness. It was a magical morning.

A big thank you to Rock 'n' Roll for letting Abby, Sarah, Mindy and I have such a once in a lifetime experience. How about we make it more than once in a lifetime? Huh Huh? Tweet me Rock 'n' Roll. ;)

I want to thank some amazing folks for attending the tweet up.

My friend and Team Chocolate Milk teammate Angela from We Beat Fat

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And others who I didn't nab a pic with.

Just as the #RnRTweetup ended, my girl Christine (aka Dubyawife) arrived. :) We have hung out at the past two Fitbloggin' conferences and she drove an hour from Baton Rouge, LA to hang out. I was PSYCHED to see her.

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After giving tons of hugs to the girls, Christine and I headed to pick up by bib. 'Cuz ya know I was in New Orleans to run. I forgot. :P

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As soon as I had the swag, we headed to the Got Chocolate Milk booth so I could grab my wristband for the VIP tent (sweet perk), snap a pic with the chocolate mustache and see some teammates.

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Even Christine got in on the fun!

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And then I ran into some of my amazing Team Chocolate Milk running mates.

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Aren't they handsome fellas? :)

After chit chatting with the guys, it was time to head to my second must-see booth at the Expo: Sparkly Soul.

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I was wicked excited to see Pamela. She and her sister run Sparkly Soul and are great great people.

Who here went to the booth and said "Weight Off My Shoulders sent me" and got a free headband. I would love to see you showing off the sparkle. I thank the ladies for giving me that opportunity and the 10% off everyone else received. :)

I love representing good and authentic companies.

Christine and I took a little spin around the Expo before heading out to grab lunch. We ate at Ernst Cafe, where we received a free beer thanks to checking in on Foursquare! Yay social media! :)

After a great time catching up, it was time for Christine to head home and me to head back to Kenlie's for a quick recharge.

I re-bonded with Kenlie's couch before heading out to meet up with my girl Dacia from My Roots To Grow.

Dacia, her boyfriend and I had a great time walking around the city, trying Crescent City brewery, dinner at Gordon Biersch and just catching up. It was a nice relaxing pre-race evening. The pizza at Gordon Biersch was delicious. The crust was just the way I liked it.

We parted ways and I headed back to Kenlie's to get some sleep.

It wasn't until this point that I realized I was in Central Time Zone not the Eastern. Yeah I am not swift on the uptake. :P

But with a 5am wakeup call, I was ready to crash before 9pm ... and I did.

Not before laying out Flat Dani of course.

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And if you didn't realize before, Kenlie's couch was comfy so it was "Hey I should get more ...Zzzzzzzz"

Hello 5am!

Tune in next time to hear how the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon turns out...

I'm Rockin' n' Rollin' To New Orleans!

I'm Rockin' I'm Rollin'

I'm Runnin'

... to New Orleans!!

WOO!

That's right folks your girl Dani is off to New Orleans for the first time! :)

I am ready to take part in the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon on Sunday (February 2nd).

This trip will be about fun, friends, social media, sparkles, chocolate milk, running and of course beer! ;)

Many folks how I travel so much for races. Here's a couple of things that help me out:

I am flying on the cheap ... $7 cheap to be exact. How you may ask?

I'm free fallin' of course!

Okay not really. I am using the last of our frequent flyer miles to head down South. Jet Blue down and United back. Including taxes the flights cost $7.

We have just two credit cards that we use for all purchases - 1 that racks up Jet Blue points/miles and 1 that logs United points/miles.

BOOM! :)

My lovely friend, Kenlie (author or All The Weigh), is graciously opening her couch to me!! <3 I will pay her in hugs, love, snuggles and a meal or beer or two. :)

Thank you Fitbloggin' for connecting us. Kenlie lives in downtown New Orleans so she is not only close to the action, but in the perfect location for me to walk to and from the RnR Expo and Race. :)

But, Kenlie won't be my only Fitbloggin' friend I will see ... Dacia of Run. Ride. Repeat. and Christine aka Dubyawife!!!

WAHOO!

I am happily heading to New Orleans to run the Half Marathon as a member of Got Chocolate Milk's Team Refuel! I will once again rock my orange singlet and chug on some sweet low-fat chocolate milk after I #FinishStrong.

As a member of the team, I have the gift of running the race for free. Thank you again Got Chocolate Milk ... and for all of you that helped vote me on to it! :)

Now besides running I am ready to explore the city with my amazing tour guide Kenlie and see what New Orleans has to offer - both food and beer wise! :P

But I will also be spending my Saturday morning at the Rock 'n' Roll Expo, which is being held at New Orleans Morial Convention Center • Hall J.

The Expo opens at 9am on Saturday and I plan to be there with bells on.

Why so early?

Because the amazing Abby from Back At Square Zero and I will be co-hosting the #RNRTWEETUP, which starts at 10am!!

Please join us!! You do not have to be running the race to attend the Expo. It is free and open to the general public.

Abby and I have known each other for a couple years, but strictly online. So what better way to meet for the first time in person than on a stage. Right? It will be AMAZING!!!

We will also be tweeting and meeting with such lovely bloggers as:

Cecilia from Mommies Run. Debi from Girls On The Run 901 Holly from Running & Baking Oh My Mindy from Road Runner Girl Sarah from Mom Running On Empty

* I am hoping to see local Tanee from From Fat To Fit Chick as well.

Sooo if you are in the New Orleans area please come check out the #RNRTWEETUP and the Expo as a whole. I always have a ton of fun at at RnR Expo.

You can take silly pictures in front of a green screen.

RnR Los Angeles 2013

RnR Philadelphia 2013

RnR Providence 2012

(Note: all of the folks in those two photos I met through Twitter!!)

You can also swing by the Got Chocolate Milk booth to make your own video to try and join the Team Refuel crew!!

Or take a picture with a chocolate milk mustache.

Also take in all the vendors. You know I will be stopping by the Sparkly Soul headbands booth. My collection could always use more sparkle. If you meet the ladies of Sparkly Soul, be sure to tell them Weight Off My Shoulders sent you! :)

PLEASE NOTE: The first three people that stop by the Sparkly Soul booth and say: "Weight Off My Shoulders sent me" ... get a FREE headband!!!

And I will DEFINITELY be hitting up the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Jewelry (aka Terry Berry) booth to find my New Orleans bead to update the awesome RnR bracelet my wife got me a couple of years ago. :)

It is an amazing way to keep the RnR memories alive on a daily basis.

So if you are in the New Orleans area, come on down to the Expo Saturday morning, Hollah at me on race morning or grab a beer with me at night. Either way say Hi if you can.

Won't be in town, but have been to New Orleans - offer me some suggestions!

What do I need to see, eat or drink?

Haunted Trails Of The Night 10k

Soooo have you ever signed up for a race and didn't realize it was happening? Oh no? Is that not normal?

Well it has happened to be more than once ... and on one Saturday night (October 26) in LA it was no different.

Let me back it on up.

As we may remember when I left us off on Part 1 of my LA trip, I was in California to run the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon and meet some amazing social media friends.

Once we left the meetup, we headed back to my teammate's house to change and head to his brother's house. He had told me about the 5k his brother was racing that night. Ohhh hello race. My ears perked up. We chatted that morning that if they had an extra entry that I would be fact be interested in running.

Shocking I know. :P

As we headed to his brother's house to play with some puppies before heading to the run, I figured a free extra entry had limited chance of happening so I wore what I wore to the expo to his brother's house. It would be cool to cheer his bro on. I love spectating races.

While in the car, his brother let us know that it was a 10k. Oh cool cool.

We get to Paramount Ranch, where they apparently film shows/movies. Sure.

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As we walk onto the lot, BOOM! There is Linzie from SeeSharpRun! Whhaa?? He had told me he was running a race that night, but what are the odds he would be at this specific one. Well, turns out he is an ambassador for the race series. Hollah!

Ray (my teammate) asks the race director Keira if she possibly has an extra space for me - the girl that has come all the way from Boston. And generously Keira said Yes.

Wow!

So there it was. After running a 10k training run that morning, it was time for my second 10k of the day. Bring it!

Sweet swag and Finisher's Medal!!!

I was ill prepared clothing wise, but thankfully had my Got Chocolate Milk #TeamReful racing t-shirt on and my regular running shoes. The two-sizes too big Lululemon yoga pants would have to work. :P

This race was also (if you couldn't tell by the name) being held at night and I did not carry a headlamp in my pocketbook. (Note to self: carry headlamp at all times) The rule was you had to have some sort of light with your person so out came my trusty iPhone Flashlight app. Yup, laugh away folks. ;)

Now the group offered me some little flashlights, but thankfully Linzie had the best headlamp ever invented so I decided that he would be stuck with me the whole race. What? We had met a few hours earlier that day so we were ready to become BFFs.

I have done three local trail runs here in Boston that aren't as intense trails as I would experience at this race and they were in the daylight.

Who doesn't love a new challenge right?

Here is how the site described the event:

Runners of all levels and abilities are given the chance to practice and experience trail running in the night. This race will be a fun and very safe event, and all the while everyone will be able to enjoy the spirit and festivities of the Fall season.

Join us for two 3.1 mile loops of runnable non technical single track trails. This course is a fairly easy course with very little hills or climbing. Witness the trails of the night become illuminated by glow sticks, goblins, and loads of fun! Stay after the race for a haunted post race party in the historic old ghost town of Paramount Ranch. This is a Trail Race that should not be missed!

Thankfully Linzie agreed to stick with me during the race so we lined up together and were ready for the two 3.1 mile loops. Keira let us know that there would be volunteers and glowsticks along the course letting us know where to go.

Oh! And since it was a Halloween themed events there would be spooks and ghouls along the course. Umm yay?

The horn sounded, we headed out and I started my Runkeeper. Oh yeah, I forgot the Garmin at the house. (Note to self: ALWAYS carry Garmin in my pocketbook)

Right off the bat I knew this would be challenging. Again wicked thankful that Linzie had his "it looks like noon on a Sunday" headlamp on because my flashlight app wasn't cutting it.

First incline in I knew I was in for a long race. Being sick didn't help with my breathing. Oh boy! I sounded ROUGH, but knew physically I could make it through.

Linzie was on my page. This race wasn't about time, but about conquering the feat AND making it through injury free. We both had that pesky half marathon in the morning. ;)

Let me tell you it is tough running at night (I rarely do it!) and I felt okay slowing down to avoid injury.

I tried to enjoy and soak up the experience as much as possible. It was great to chat with Linzie the whole time about running, the Boston Marathon, blogging, Run Disney, life, etc. We are both doing the Dopey Challenge so it was nice to commiserate on our craziness together.

And I loved that as we approached a steep incline Linzie would say: "Endurance training baby! Endurance training!"

Ummm ... yay! :P But it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I, again, am a newbie trail runner and I thought to myself how are we not done with one loop yet? We finally emerged to the Start to stop for water and start the next loop. My breathing was so labored due to being sick I thought about stopping. Then I caught a glimpse of the medal out of my right eye.

Oohhh no I will NOT NOT get one of those babies. (that enough nots?)

I grabbed a quick sip of water and we were off again.

Now, I thought the second loop would be harder than the first, but it really wasn't. I knew it would be rough, but I was okay with walking.

There were a few inclines where we had to walk up to catch our breathe and I said: "This is ALL counting towards my 1,000 miles run in 2013." Thankfully Linzie agreed. ;)

The terrain was uneven (as one would expect) and there were some turns where I started to slip slightly down the hill due to lose gravel, but with the help of the headlamp we were able to recover.

I wish I could better articulate the elevation we traveled. I unfortunately couldn't snap any pictures since well - it was pitch black out.

As we moved/ran/walked/hustled/chatted through that second loop, a sense of sheer joy came over me. I was going to do it. I was going to accomplish 2 10ks in one day. Damn pride came over my whole body. I would never have thought a few years ago that I would look forward to doing something like that.

We realized we were just 1/2 a mile from the Finish and it was time to kick it up. We wanted to finish strong and finish strong we did.

We came out of the trails and back to the main Barn area...

... and I was given my medal by the cutest little Star Trek character of them all. I wish I had gotten a picture of him. He was probably 5 or 6 and just the cutest thing ever.

I am beyond thankful for Linzie. I wouldn't have completed the race or had half as much fun without him. It is funny to meet someone you have chatted with online in person and you just hit it off. I felt that way with him.

The race was really well run, the course was easy to follow, the volunteers were excellent and the ghosts/ghouls along the course were definitely scary. I can admit I screeched more than once along the way.

And the post-race party/spread was amazing. These trail runners know how to snack ... and I like it. :)

My Runkeeper also did a really great job tracking the race since I was out in the hills.

I officially finished in 1:20:54 - good for 34th overall out of 69.

I can't thank Keira enough for this opportunity. It was truly life-changing.

If you are in the LA area, please please please check out on of Keira's trail races. The group was so welcoming to this clear outsider and I had a great time!!

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Have you ever taken part in an impromptu race? Are you a trail runner?

Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn 10k Recap

No. Sleep. Til. Brooklyn!!! What? You really didn't think I would pass up using that as my opener? C'mon now. :P

I was REALLY looking forward to this little trip to NY last weekend (October 11-13) as I have a lot of great Weight Watchers/blogging friends that I was going to meet up with as well.

After leading my final Weight Watchers meeting of the week on Friday (October 11), I hustled home to change, pick up my bags, and head out to the train station. I was annoyed by all the security/waiting when I flew to NY in June that I went with Amtrak this time around.

I got to South Station with plenty of time to spare, bought my second Dunkin Iced Coffee of the day (hey! I was up at 5am! Don't judge) and settled in to wait for the train.

I knew I'd be on the train for a good 4-ish hours so I made sure to get in as many steps as possible before boarding. My train departed at 11am and I was over 6500 steps by then. Yay!

I settled in to a nice window seat. Hello plugs to charge my phone. And got comfy. I did try to get up and walk at least once every hour while on the train, which was easy for me since I drink so much water. :P

It took me awhile to realize that we were in fact behind schedule. Ahh! I was going to be cutting it close enough to packet pick-up. I was landing in Penn Station at 3:15pm and packet pick-up ended at 5pm in Brooklyn. I didn't need a delay to kick this off.

Thankfully I was tweeting with RnR while on the train letting them know about my hold up. I just kept trying to put good juju out into the world that it would all work out.

After arriving 30 min late (curse you Amtrak), my friend Kitty was on hand to meet me and help shuttle me through the public transit system to get to Brooklyn in tact. ;)

AND...

WE MADE IT!!

Yes! We made it with time to spare. Phew!

Ummm Corral 1, how did that happen??

After picking up my bib, we needed to celebrate with a beer of course. Kitty and I met her brother's roommate for dinner and to unload my bag so I could save time storing it in the morning before the race.

I met up with my girl Sheryl (aka Bitchcakes) for a nightcap and to crash on her couch. I am so thankful that Sheryl opened up her apartment to me. I was able to crash on her couch and use a car service to head to the race the next morning. Sheryl lives in Brooklyn so I thought she would be close to the start. Yeah Brooklyn is bigger than I thought.

Thankfully it all worked out and the $22 car ride was totally worth it in the morning to make it to the race safely and on time.

I met up with my Team Refuel teammates - Anthony and Lisa - to chat before the race.

I love racing and meeting all these amazing teammates from around the country!! Plus the VIP tent was crucial, private bag check and private port-o-potties. Thanks Got Chocolate Milk for the hook up.

As we were chatting, I realized we had just 40 or so minutes until Game Time AND I hadn't eaten. Dammit! So I got my KIND Bar out and scarfed it down.

I headed over to the Start Line and set myself up in Corral 1. Feeling out of place is an understatement. I had no idea how I ended up there, but I enjoyed the experience of being so close to the elite athletes.

My stomach was feeling off. Gah! Not a good sign. I shook it off to nerves. No matter the distance I ALWAYS get nervous before a race.

After the National Anthem, the horn sounded and we were off.

Enter more intense stomach cramps. Dammit! I knew it. I ate too close to the race. I try to NEVER eat closer than one hour to Start time and I failed at that. I was hoping I would still be okay, but apparently not.

From the onset, I felt like I was going to throw up. Yup, this was going to be a looong 6.2 miles. Thank goodness it wasn't a Half or a Full.

I just tried to focus on seeing friends and enjoying the scenery than the pain.

But as the race went on the pain got more intense. It was fun to run through Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The bands and fans helped take my mind off the pain until I crossed the 5k mark. I thought to myself how am I going to make it through the last half of this race.

I looked down and my pace was getting slower and slower. Ugh! Well clearly I wasn't PRing that race so the best I could do was focus on finishing.

The race was pretty flat as we can along the outside of the Park. Shortly after the 5k check point, we took a right and headed back into the Park.

As we approached Mile 4, we started going up an incline. Oh that was that hill that Sheryl told me about. The pain increased. It got so bad that at Mile 5, I stopped and tried to make myself throw up. I thought it would help. Well it didn't work so I just started running again and just get to the Finish.

The race ended on a downhill, which was nice so I just tried to pick it up and Finish strong.

I even managed one of the best action shots ever during a race.

I look like I know what I'm doing. :0)

I crossed the Finish Line and almost kissed the ground. I was so happy to be done, but proud of myself for pushing through and finishing. I actually felt zero pain in the rest of my body besides my stomach which I took as a good sign since I had been battling a foot pain the couple weeks prior.

I was pretty impressed with finishing on such a precise time and overall I did well compared to when I started racing. But, in the moment I was upset. I had the right to be. I accepted my thoughts and moved on. Plus, I had chocolate milk to drink!!

AND I even got to take a pic with a celebrity!

Hello Nesquick Bunny! :P

I waited in the very long line to get my medal engraved. It's worth the $20 to me to get it done onsite because if they mess up they have a box of medals right there to fix it. Wouldn't be the case if I got it done at home.

After meeting up with Kitty, who kicked race butt, I headed back to the VIP tent for some post-race food and refreshments. Again, thank you Got Chocolate Milk for the hook up. This was definitely better than the free Michelob Ultra you usually get (which I always pass on).

Yay wine!

Before heading out with Kitty, I was able to FINALLY meet up with a social media friend and inspiration to me, Amy (aka The Awesome Mom) and it was magical. :)

She was as pleasant and sparkly in person as I imagined.

Kitty and I headed out to grab my bag from her brother's place and meet with the rest of the crew for lunch. Now there was some train issues going on in NY due to construction or something. So our trek from Brooklyn to Melanie's hood seemed to take forever. Especially lugging my bags around. We ended up on 2 trains and a shuttle bus, but we finally made it safely to Melanie's.

We cleaned up a little and headed to brunch with other friends I had wanted to see while in town.

This group shed 330+ lbs through Weight Watchers!

I was glad that everyone got along since not everyone knew each other beforehand. :)

We then celebrated with a little pub crawl before turning in early. It had been one long day and I would be spending the next day traveling back to Boston on a not so comfy Bolt Bus.

Overall, it was a quick, but jampacked weekend in NY. It was great running a rare 10k. I wonder how long Rock 'n' Roll will keep this race around before changing it to a Half or Full. It seems inevitable in my opinion since the 10k is so rare these days.

I loved the down and back during the race since I was able to see Janine and her mom racing as well as Amy and my Got Chocolate Milk teammates.

And now I know - no eating less than 1 hour before Game Time. It will just end ugly!

*The More You Know*

Oh and RnR Brooklyn was my third of 4 RnR races on the year. I have RnR LA left on October 27.

***

Have you run Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn? Do you love the 10k distance?

Weekly Workout Wind Up (10/10-16/13)

And just when the back stops hurting, I come back from NYC and immediately get sick. Thank you fever/cold/virus for putting me right back on myu booty! :( I'm embarrassed by this. It doesn't even deserve a recap...  

Thursday, October 3: Mandatory REST

 

Friday, October 4Mandatory REST

 

Saturday, October 5: Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn 10k

10-12

Sunday, October 6Mandatory REST

 

Monday, October 7Mandatory REST

 

Tuesday, October 8: Mandatory REST

 

Wednesday, October 9: Mandatory REST

 

What will next week have to throw in my way???

I rocked & rolled through Providence...

Redemption. I was looking to redeem myself at this year's Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon.

Why?

Well last year I ran this race and narrowly missed a PR by a minute or so. But I was beat. I lost steam. I didn't know the course. I wasn't ready for the hills. I wasn't ready.

But, 2013 would be different.

I am a stronger now. I am wiser. I know the course.

So I was ready to enjoy the day.

Pressure?

Nope.

Why?

Well, I was going to be running the ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon the day before on the Cape so I knew I wasn't going to PR in Providence.

But, I wanted to come out on the other end feeling STRONG since I felt the complete opposite at the end of last year's run.

On Saturday, September 28 after finishing the ZOOMA Half and grabbing a quick shower at Nancy's, it was time to hit the road ... after a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts of course.

Mmmm caffeine!

The drive from Falmouth to Providence would take about 80 minutes. I cranked up the tunes and set off.

The weather was glorious and I got to Providence early enough to grab lunch before meeting up with my friend Samantha, who I was crashing with that night.

On hear advice, I dined at PJ's Pub which was close to her apartment. Funny thing was I asked them to recommend a local brew and they said: "Harpoon IPA." Sorry miss. That is local to where I live ... not you. I was looking for a RI beer, but they didn't have any on tap. Sam Octoberfest it was to celebrate my race earlier that morning.

After my GPS somehow sent me to the wrong address for Samantha's, I got myself squared away and finally found her place. She met me in the parking lot and we jetted off to the Expo to meet our friend Robin. Yay seeing blogging/Twitter friends turned real-life friends! :)

We picked up our bibs...

... must be a small crowd if this girl - yes me - somehow ended up in Corral 2.

Speaking of small crowds, the expo this year was TINY. It took us no time to do a loop - or rather a couple loops - around the Expo. I wanted to take advantage of the free KT Tape booth, but some girl was getting most of her body covered in KT Tape so I bagged it.

We then headed over to the Got Chocolate Milk booth so I could take a couple pics and meet the other Team Refuel runners.

It was awesome meeting Jill and John - two amazing athletes!

And of course we needed a pic with the chocolate mustaches!

I had missed this at the last RnR Expo so I wasn't missing my chance this time around. :P

Samantha, Robin and I headed back to Samantha's apartment to unwind, watch some youtube videos on her Apple TV and enjoy a couple glasses of wine. My kind of night.

We enjoyed a nice dinner at Chili's since both Samantha and Robin are Gluten-Free so it worked for all of us then called it an early night.

Hey Flat Dani

Why such an early night?

Because the alarm was going off at 4:30am. Again, damn these early race times.

Providence has been known to have massive crowds in the parking garage so our goal was to get there early to secure a spot ... and early we did.

Thankfully Samantha is a local and got us in and parked quickly.

This gave ample time to enjoy my pre-race KIND Bar, have multiple trips to mall bathroom so we didn't have to use port-o-potties, hit up bag check and hide in the warmth of the mall before the start.

Oh hello Finish, we would be seeing you in a few hours after this was taken.

Before I knew it it was time to head to our corrals. I made a last minute port-o-potty stop (damn small bladder) and Samantha and I went to Corral 2. Robin was already settled into Corral 1.

While standing in the Corral, I saw my Tedy's Team runningmate Jackie, who I had actually ran into earlier in the mall as well. Yay seeing familiar faces.

Before the race, the game plan was to run with Samantha, but she was feeling severly undertrained so we were going to play it by ear.

My foot was feeling sore so I had no idea what my body would bring for the run.

The Start was delayed, which was tough in the chilly air, but the announcer tried to keep it light.

It was finally time to begin. Robin and Corral 1 went off and a couple minutes later it was our turn.

From the get go something felt off in my right foot. I had been battling a pain in the ball of my right foot earlier in the week, but this was coming from the arch.

I tried to shake it off and keep running. Samantha and I hung together the first 1.8 miles or so before I needed another port-o-potty stop. I figured it I went around Mile 2 I would be golden the rest of the race. My nerves get to me at the beginning of races.

Hit up the port-o-potty, almost ran over some of the 3-mile racers (oops!) and I was back on the course just in time for the first hill of the day.

But this time I was prepared. I buckled down and pushed up. It was easier this year. The weather helped, but I just felt smarter.

I turned up the music on my X-1 Headphones, which I attach to my visor and tried to zone out.

As we approached Mile 4, I knew the big hill was coming. This is like a hill for what feels like forever, but is really around a Mile. But it just keeps climbing. I remembered it from last year.

After giving myself a fist pump for making it through that mile, the pain increased in my arch.

It actually got so bad that at Mile 5 - the transition point of the Half Marathon Relay - I thought about quitting. I was going to get my first DNF.

Oh hell no I wasn't.

The rest of my body felt AMAZING. I would keep soldiering on. I stopped at Mile 5 to stretch and started running again.

I had a huge debate with myself during the next 2 miles. I started crying. The pain was tough. I knew that if it became unbearable I would stop. I am not risking my Dopey Challenge training for one race or one medal.

As we came down a hill approaching the water, I looked up and saw this sight. I had to stop and take a picture.

The fog was so thick it looked like a horror movie. I expected something to come out at me. It was a cool sight though.

But the pain got worse. I actually took my phone out of my armband, clicked it off airplane mode and texted my wife through the tears. I had no idea why she wasn't responding until I realized it was 8am on a Sunday so she was probably sleeping.

I put my phone away and got back to focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

As I approached Mile 9, I started feeling better. The foot started loosening up and the pain started to subside. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe it was the tears. Maybe it was working itself out.

But I just focused on enjoying the race.

I hit the Mile 10 marker, I looked across the street (as this was the start of an out and back loop thing) and saw Robin. I totally looked like a fan girl yelling: "ROBIN! ROBIN! GO ROBIN!" She looked fast and strong.

So I pulled from the depths of my energy and gave it all I had. I pushed through and reminded myself I had just a 5k to go! I can do that in myself. (Ummm not really but it worked in the moment)

I kept ticking the miles off with each step. When I hit Mile 12, I realized I was going to get Sub 2 - even with a half the day before and a bum foot. I also knew there was the hill approaching the Finish - it got me last year - but not this.

I pushed even harder once I saw the Mile 12 marker, but made sure to keep a little in the tank for that final hill.

I took the turn towards the Finish, squated down a tad in my stance and pushed. I gave all I had on that final hill.

There was the Finish Line. There was the Capital. There was the Chocolate Milk.

I had done it.

1:54:22.

Hell to the yeah.

With all that - half the day before and a sore foot - I finished just 1 minute and 24 seconds slower than last year. Are you serious? THAT just goes to show how much can change in a year.

Amazing.

Not sure the Chocolate Milk had ever tasted so good. ;)

Jill & I post-race

I chatted with the Got Chocolate Milk folks and headed off to get my medal engraved. I ALWAYS take advantage of the on-site medal engraving at the RnR races because if they mess up they have a whole box of medals right there to fix the mistake - not if I take it home. So it is worth the $20 to me.

Once the medal was set, I headed off to get my bag out of baggage claim and wait at the Letter X for my friends. It was so odd not having my wife there at the Finish and not seeing her out on the course. It took some wind out of my sails for sure.

Robin had OWNED the course and had delayed finding me because she needed a couple more cool-down miles. An inspiration to me on so many levels - she shed 90 lbs with Weight Watchers and completed her first Ironman in July.

Lucky to call her a friend!

Samantha finished. Her main goal. She did a great job too.

We didn't even plan to all be wearing Zensah compression sleeves. :P

It was great to spend the weekend with these two ladies. We had all done the race together last year as well, but staying together the night before made it special.

The Providence race is a great time. It is the right amount of challenge yet scenic enough to get you through it.

As always, the Rock 'n' Roll experience of having the bands along the course give you a bit of energy, the volunteers are always friendly and the spectators are encouraging.

We even hung out to watch the band for a little while. We were right up on the stage. I rarely go to concerts so that was just a cool experience.

Plus there are amazing places to grab a beer/food after the race. We had some misinformation on a couple places websites, but we ended up enjoying a great meal at Bar Louie.

But after a double race weekend it was time to head back home with happy memories in tow.

***

Do you enjoy the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series? Have you ever run in Providence?

I rocked & rolled through Philadelphia!!

Is there a better way to spend your birthday weekend than racing, exploring a new city, seeing an old friend, meeting online folks and setting a shiny PR?? NOPE!

Well not in my book. ;)

I arrived in Philadelphia on Friday, September 13th and had a great time walking around a bit with my friend Joann, who I've known since 7th grade (I'm 31). We hit a few local establishments before calling it an early night.

One of the best ways to explore a city - in my opinion - is on foot so I headed out bright and early Saturday morning (September 14th) for a little shakeout run before the following day's half marathon.

It was beautiful. Joann lives right by an entrance to the bike path so I hopped on and just let the legs lead me. I was planning on just running 2 miles, but I had something I wanted to see over a certain bend so I just kept running. I honestly wanted to keep going, but had to bring myself back to reality knowing I had a race the next day.

Thankfully Joann doesn't mind walking and Philly is a wonderfully walkable city so instead of driving or taking a bus or taking a train, we walked from her apartment to the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Expo. It was a great way to hit some of the "must sees" of Philadelphia and the weather was beautiful!

Rocky and I conquering our dreams!!

I couldn't ask for a prettier day to explore a new city!

LOVE - wish my wife had been with me so we could've taken a cheesy photo together

We had such a great time walking and talking that before I knew it we had finally made it to the Expo.

After picking up my bib...

I made sure that one of my first stops was to the KT Tape booth to get my knee all taped up for the following day then it was time to see my favorite people: Got Chocolate Milk & Team Refuel.

Should I host my own radio show? ;)

Joann and I wandered around the Expo, trying out some free samples, running into familiar faces from Boston (yay Kelsey) and making sure I nabbed a sweet pic in front of the green screen.

I should wear these glasses all the time, right?

Following the Expo we hit up the famous Reading Market and continued our sightseeing/trek back to her apartment. We saw almost all historic landmarks Philadelphia had to offer as well as some of the most historic taverns. Balance, right? ;)

We had a lowkey/chill dinner before I called it an early night. I had an early wakeup call with the race.

Joann was gone, but thankfully she had a full length mirror so I could still do my pre-race selfie. Important or the race won't happen. :P

I got myself ready nice and early so I could hit up Dunkin Donuts first (hello coffee) and give myself plenty of time to get lost walking to the Start - just in case.

I did love the art on the walls of a certain bridge underpass as I walked to the Start.

It gave me something to think about as I ran later.

Thanks to Got Chocolate Milk & Team Refuel I was able to hang out in the VIP tent prior to the race and meet up with some of my teammates.

The wonderful Erika & Angela

The VIP tent was sah-weet. They had snacks, a special bag claim as well as Elite athletes all over the place. I felt extremely out of place, but had a great time sitting and chatting with my teammates. It was also nice to have a special area with bag claim and port-o-potties to use before heading to the Start Line.

Apparently I was too busy chatting, having my pre-race KIND Bar and Energybits and using the bathroom to realize I was cutting it close to the Start.

I had to hightail it over to Corral 4 and made it pretty much just in time.

Before the race started, I tried to tell myself to just take it easy. I was trying to use the race as a simple long training run. BUT I was also told that Philly was one of the flatest courses around and a great place to PR.

My mind and body were torn. Once the Start gun went off I said I would listen to my body. And no matter what enjoy the run.

And from the get go I had to pee again. I had to talk with myself of when to stop and use the port-o-potty or skip it. I also was sad to know I had zero people watching me along the course. I get sad when I don't have even one spectator I know personally.

But as I turned the corner (around Mile 2 I believe), there was a smiling face I was happy to see. The one and only Mission Meltdown (aka Dre). We know each other through blogging. He has one amazing infectious smile. I was BEYOND happy to see him. Plus he snapped this pretty sweet action shot.

I used his energy and love to push through the rest of the race.

I decided to hit a port-o-potty before the 5k mark and I was happy I did. Short line so the whole experience took under 45 seconds.

Once I left that spot, I was golden the rest of the race.

I just kept trying to enjoy the scenery around me and take in the experience. I actually was around the same few people the whole race so I made it my mission to try and stay with them or ahead of them for the rest of the race. Sometimes during long races you need to play games with yourself to distract yourself from the time.

I also was using a pacing bracelet for the first time ever. I picked the 1:45 bracelet out of the bin at the Expo. My previous PR was 1:44:30 so I thought having the bracelet might be a nice experiment to see how well I did.

It actually helped me make up time after the bathroom stop. :)

Philly is legit flat/downhill folks. We kept going down and down and I thought to myself at some point we HAVE to hit a large hill, yet we didn't.

I was making glorious time and my body felt awesome.

It was around Mile 7 that I realized. I might hit a PR if I play my cards right, but if I miss it - it will all be because of my darn bladder. :O)

I was cruising along listening to the convos of the folks around me when I came across a Rock 'n' Roll and Team Refuel legend - George (probably during Mile 8). We were online friends, but had never met in person. All of a sudden he came up next to me. It was great to have someone to chat with for a couple minutes - especially someone you have been wanting to meet in person for awhile now.

Every time I hit a Mile Marker, I checked my Garmin and checked my 1:45 pace bracelet. I was on my mark of trying to stay at least 30 seconds ahead of the pace band.

As we hit Mile 10, I just told myself "You just have a 5k to go - kick it up a notch." I tried to give it everything I had. I wanted a PR so bad I could taste it.

I tried to just focus on passing people - it takes my mind off the PR - and keep myself strong.

We were still on a slight decline, which confused the heck out of me. If you go down, at some point you have to come back up ... except in Philly. :P

As we passed the 12 mile mark, I ended up near someone running in jorts (jean shorts). I COULDN'T have this person beat me so I had to et in front of him.

I saw the Mile 13 mark and the road finally started to have an incline.

Of course!

Of course it would incline during the last tenth of a mile.

But I dug deep and gave it everything I had.

I crossed the line, grabbed my medal, took my post-race photo and finally looked at my Garmin. Unofficial time of 1:44:08 ... a freakin' PR!!! Ahhh!! Even with a 45 second port-o-potty stop.

I headed over to see my peeps at the Got Chocolate Milk tent ... I needed my sweet sweet After of chocolate milk.

I even got to snap a pic with George after he finished.

Love his hair! :)

After chatting with Lindsey from Got Chocolate Milk, it was time to head to the medal engraving tent and get my medal engraved. It is totally worth the $20 to me. I do it at each Rock 'n' Roll event. Why do it onsite? Well if they mess it up, they have a whole box of medals sitting next to them where they can redo it. You wouldn't get that if you waited til you got home.

The man told me I had an official finish time of 1:44:12. Still a PR by 18 seconds! :) Hell yeah! I jumped up and down!

Oh I'm sorry, does that say SUB 8 min/mile pace for a freakin' half. Yes it does. Whhaaa??? Me. Lil 'ol me. It is CRAZY what my body can do now. I am loving every moment of this adventure.

After my medal was all snazzy, it was time to head back to the VIP tent and wait for my Refuel teammates. The one thing I dislike about the RnR events is their post-race beer choice - Michelob Ultra. I just don't like wasting calories/Points on that beer. I have specific beer taste. ;)

BUT, when I went into the VIP tent, there were mimosas. Oh yes I will have one of those ... thanks!

I LOVED the medal and really needed to thank Team Refuel for the chance to run this race.

I added my own sparkle thanks to this Sparkle Athletic skirt.

As I was enjoying my mimosas and snacks (mmm bacon), other teammates starting trickling in. It is just such a treat to meet these online friends in real life.

What a great crew! Thanks Angela for the pics!!

This was a great great race. It really is one of the flatest courses I have ever run on. It was scenic. The bands along the way were rockin'! The volunteers were energetic. And the crowd - as always - was lively!!

Would I recommend this race? For sure!

After hanging with the crew for awhile, it was time to head back to Joann's house, grab a shower and hit up lunch with Joann. Sunday afternoon we finished up some touristy stuff, but called it a night early. Ordered in some sushi for a pre-birthday dinner and watched a movie at her place.

A lovely end to a lovely day as I had an early wakeup call the next day to head home. Yes I got to travel on my birthday. :P

Overall, it was one truly amazing weekend. I was surrounded by so much love, earned a shiny PR and just enjoyed the experience. I am one lucky lady for the opportunities I have received.

Until next time Philadelphia...

Women's Triathlon Recap

FORGIVE ME BLOG READERS FOR I HAVE SINNED. I allowed too much time to pass before posting this recap. Almost a month.

FOR SHAME.

***

I need to start by thanking the Hartford Marathon Foundation for offering me a complimentary entry into the Women's Sprint Triathlon in Farmington, Connecticut on September 8th. But as you all know I do not let a complimentary entry sway my thoughts on a race!

It was pretty clear after finishing my first triathlon - Boston Sprint Tri on August 4th - that I was hooked. So I was happy to get another triathlon in before the season came to a close.

Now I registered and got all excited and THEN realized the race would be a good 2.5 hour drive from Boston ... on the day of the race.

The race began at 7:30am.

I will let you take a moment to do the math.

Got it?

If not, that meant a nice 3:30am wakeup that morning.

Yay!!!!!

Not. :P

Okay it wasn't the ideal pre-race conditions, but we had no other choice. We couldn't leave the pups the night before so day of travel was our only option.

The alarm went off at 3:30am, I leaped out of bed and immediately the pre-race jitters set in.

Thankfully I am a tad OCD and everything was already packed and ready to go the night before to help make the morning a smooth transition.

We hit Dunkin Donuts for some much-needed caffeine and we were on the road.

Shockingly we hit zero traffic. ;)

We arrived at the Winding Trails in Farmington, CT with plenty of time to pick up my packet, get numbered and set up my transition station.

My transition area worked so well at Boston Triathlon that I decided to duplicate it at the Women's Triathlon.

The transition area was set up by bib #s, but in each lane you could put your bike wherever you wanted. So I just picked one as close to the front as I could, but I pretty much ended up smack in the middle of my lane.

I did a once over and headed out of the transition area to hang with the wife until it was time to suit up.

It was amazing to walk around and see a race entirely made up of women. It felt great, comforting and welcoming.

There were women of all shapes, sizes and athletic abilities taking part. For many, it was their first triathlon. There were women wearing just bathing suits, women whose bikes had baskets/bells/kickstands and some who were clear Ironman finishers. It was a wide variety, but everyone was cheering each other on.

I also throughly enjoyed that during all the announcements when they talked about spectators they mentioned wives of competitors. Yay for being super supportive of the lesbian racers. It just made me smile. :)

Before I knew it it was time to head back to the transition area to pick up the wetsuit and head to the beach.

While standing on the beach, a blog reader came over to introduce herself and say hi. It was such an awesome feeling. I love meeting people who actually read these posts. :)

I decided to take a quick dip into the water before heading to the Start area.

And it was time.

The nerves were high. I was so busy doing Dopey Challenge training that I hadn't been on the bike in over a month or in the pool all that much so I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to go out there and give it my all.

***

Swim - 1/2 Mile

For this race we started IN the water. I was in the first corral of ladies in the water. I tried to put myself farther up in the pack since I learned at the last tri that I needed to do that. I was a stronger swimmer than I gave myself credit for.

The gun went off and we were in.

But from the get go something was wrong. I couldn't breathe. It felt as if someone was trying to choke me. I tried to loosen the neck area of the wetsuit slightly to see if that would help, but I couldn't get in a groove.

I felt as if I was swimming in place. I had no idea what was going on so I just kept trying to move forward.

I ended up breathing almost every single stroke, but I figured I would do anything to try and get to the Finish.

Thankfully we were in a calm pond which I can say helped.

I got to the halfway mark and wondered how the heck I would make it the rest of the way. I just thought about my wife on the beach and swam towards her.

I could tell my sighting had gotten much better from the first triathlon to this one. My wife said I was the only swimmer in my group that came straight towards the Finish Line after the halfway point. Woo! I think I was probably the 10 or 12th swimmer out of the water so I guess I was moving faster than I thought.

After coming out of the water, we had to run all the way up the beach, along the outside length of the transition area and THEN entered the transition area. It was a long way to run barefoot, but I did the best I could to get that wetsuit down to my waist as quickly as possible.

There were a good number of volunteers (lifeguards) out in kayaks on the water which put me at ease in case I really couldn't breathe at any point.

Total Time: 17:42 Overall Place: 44/442

***

Transition 1

Time: 2:07

Since I was still trying to catch my breath, I took my time during the transition. I was worrying about that so much that I fell right over while taking off the wetsuit. Yes I need to focus on one thing at a time. :P

I was able to grab some Gatorade, some pieces of KIND Bar, switch into my Team Refuel singlet and lace up my sneakers. I also made sure to really dry my feet off before putting my socks on since I ended up with very wet feet last time. ;)

(See how we learn something from each race!)

I slapped my helmet on and I was headed out of the transition area.

Yes this should've been faster, but I was just happy that my breathing had started to return to normal.

***

Bike - 12 miles

Now for some reason I thought this was going to be a flat course. Not sure where I got that impression but boy was I WRONG!!! Holy hill Batman. I am a weak biker anyway, but throw in hills and I wasn't sure what I was doing.

I definitely know I will be getting some clips for my bike so I can wear my Spin shoes before my next race because I was losing some force having my sneakers on.

All I could do was push forward though. I had the cyclometer on my bike and my goal was to try and stay between 17-19 mph the best I could.

I pushed faster than I had before and tried to use the downhills to my benefit. The roads were open to traffic so we had to stay as close to the right of the road as we could.

I was actually able to pass some people, but was definitely passed my more. :)

It was one amazing experience coming back towards the transition area as both sides of the course were lined with spectators. The cheering was loud and the faces made my smile grow. I felt like a freakin' rock star. All these people were cheering for lil old me. It was awesome!

Plus just as I was about to dismount the bike, I caught a glimpse of the wife - just what I needed to see since I hadn't seen her when I left the water earlier.

I know that the bike is the portion I need to work on the most, but I was pretty pleased with how I handled my first hilly bike course.

I didn't really see too many volunteers out on the course itself for some stretches, but they were there at key turns and when we exited and entered the lanes near the transition area.

Total Time: 40:09 Overall Place: 88/442 (can we tell it’s my weakest area)

***

Transition 2

Time: 1:07

Much more respectable transition time the second time around. But really all I had to do here was ditch the bike/bike helmet, throw on my visor/sunglasses and put on my race belt with bib.

***

Run - 5k

As I left the transition area, I ran by the wife and said "I can't breathe." Not sure what was going on with me that day, but as I headed out for the run - I once again just tried to focus on my breathing.

Since triathlons don't allow headphones, it was really easy to tune into my breathing and correct it.

I had just a 5k between me and the end of my second triathlon.

Now again I somehow was under the impression that this would be a flat easy run.

FALSE!!!!

As I rounded the second turn, there was a large trail incline in front of me.

It is at that point, that I realized I was in for a rough terrain trail 5k rather than an easy run.

I stopped to retie my sneakers, buckled down and focused on trying to pass any runners I could pass in front of me.

I got my breathing under control and just tried to enjoy the scenery around me. We were in one glorious forest.

Every volunteer I passed, I said "I was lied to about this being a flat course" and all they could do was laugh.

Thankfully my GPS was pretty spot on and before I knew it we were less than 1/2 a mile to the Finish.

I tried to speed the body up as best I could.

With a few hundred yards to go we emerged from the trees and there was the Finish Line.

I gave it the rest I had and it was over. The 5k was done.

Water stops were well covered, but other than that it was really just the runners on the trail. Not sure what I would've done had I gone down with a cramp or injury while in the woods since I didn't know where the next water stop or volunteer would be.

Total Time: 24:45 Overall Place: 15/442

***

I’M A TRIATHLETE ... AGAIN! :)

I completed the course in 1:25:48 and couldn't have been happier.

As soon as I crossed the Finish Line, they announced my name (Ahhh I love when races do this) and was given a gorgeous wooden medal.

Cool, right?

I found the wife and she presented me with an actual cycling jersey for me to use next year during training rides.

Can I pull it off?

We then headed over to refuel with some chocolate milk. It was like they knew I was coming! ;)

After my chocolate milk and water, it was obviously time to grab a celebratory beer courtesy of Old Burnside Brewing Company! I love when races are sponsored by local craft breweries. Drink local friends! :)

As I walked away from the beer area, I noticed a massage tent with no wait. YES!! Whenever these are at races by the time I finish there is a huge line so I had to jump on this opportunity.

It was GREAT to get stretched out by a professional! I wish I could have this treatment after every workout.

Thank you Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers for providing this service!

Before I go any further I want to thank my wife for being my #1 supporter, calming me down along the course, getting up at 3:30am, driving hours to the race and being an overall wonderful sport in this crazy racing world I am in. :) I couldn't do this without her.

We had planned on meeting up with my friend Martinus from 300PoundsAndRunning.com for lunch so we headed back to the transition area to get my stuff and headed back to the car.

I wouldn't find out until hours later that I had actually placed in my division. Whaaa??? I KNOW!!

I had finished 31st overall out of 442 and 3rd in my division.

How cool is that? I was shocked and amazed. Since I had left, I missed receiving my prize. A prize? Yay!

So I actually sent $8 to the Hartford Marathon Foundation and they sent me the prize. An amazing hand-painted marvel.

Overall, I was extremely happy with how the race turned out. Do I know exactly what happened with my breathing during the swimming portion? No, but that is something I will work through on my training in case it happens again.

I really loved the Women's Triathlon atmosphere and would highly recommend this race to any of my friends.

I hope to return next year to take on those rolling hills of Connecticut again! :)

***

So when can I do my next triathlon? ;)