Hey friends! Happy Sunday!
We made a quick trip to Baton Rouge this weekend to do some running.
Daniel and I decided to stop in New Orleans on the way to Baton Rouge Friday afternoon. While it is not exactly “on the way,” it was only a slight detour and so we figured … why not. The plan was to hit up Cafe Du Monde in the French Market for some beignets (aka carb loading) and walk around for a little bit and be on our way. Turns out that Cafe Du Monde is a cash only establishment. I had completely forgotten that and neither one of us had any cash (Dave Ramsey would be disappointed), so that was pretty much a fail. The accountant in me hates to think how much cash goes missing and/or unreported at a place like that, but that’s neither here nor there.
The weather was really nice Friday (that was NOT the case on Saturday though), so we enjoyed walking around the French Quarter, taking in all of the sights, sounds and smells of New Orleans. We got the standard Jackson Square pic.
We did manage to find a place to get coffee and hot chocolate that took our plastic.
For carb loading purposes, Daniel stuck to his traditional Fig Newtons. If you are ever wanting a carb-rich snack pre-marathon, figgy newtons are the way to go … you can get 23g of carbs from just 2 of those bad boys. This also means that if you eat the entire box, you get 300g of carbs. Daniel came just shy of that this time.
We made it to Baton Rouge around 4 p.m. We weren’t able to check into our hotel because their computer system was down, so we decided to go ahead and go to the expo. It was nothing fancy. We weren’t expecting it to be anything more than what it was, so no surprises there. We got our packets and decided to try to drive the course.
We didn’t know any specifics about the course. We knew that two of our friends had gotten lost and ended up running extra (several years ago) and we knew that it was supposed to be a fairly flat 2 loop course. Armed with only this (very homemade) map from our packets, we headed out to see what we were in for.
For starters, it was dark and the traffic was insane. The beginning of the course ran through LSU’s campus and the campus part was tough to drive (one-way streets, etc.). We ended up getting lost (not lost, lost, but missing our turns lost) about 5 times before mile 4 of the course. We had been driving around Baton Rouge for over an hour and we were both super frustrated. We decided to give up on driving the rest of the route.
Some of the areas that we drove through were areas that I definitely would not feel comfortable running through, but most of these areas we only got to because we missed a turn on the map. I was anxious about running in Baton Rouge before we even got there, mainly because of the news coverage of shootings, etc. but after driving around Friday evening, my anxiety was at an all-time high. I even debated not running the race. It sounds silly, but I just didn’t have a good feeling about it.
Trusting intuition is something that can be difficult for me because it doesn’t take too much to make me scared or fearful. I don’t want to live my life in fear and at the same time I don’t want to be too stubborn and headstrong in not letting fear control me that I put myself in a situation that I don’t want to be in. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. It’s a complicated little web up there in my brain. Daniel and I discussed it and I came to peace with the fact that I would be perfectly safe during the race.
Daniel was also iffy on the race because he has been dealing with a piriformis issue for quite some time. It has bothered him off and on for years, really. He also came down with some sort of virus the week before the race, which didn’t help anything. Going into the race, we weren’t sure if he would run the full or not, but he wanted to be there to run with and support Daniel Holley and that’s exactly what he did!
Flat Gardners laid out and ready to run!
The race started at 7 a.m. and we woke up to a rainy, windy morning on Saturday. Not exactly ideal conditions. The silver lining was that it wasn’t blazing hot. The temperatures were in the mid-50s and even dropped down to the upper-40s. It felt a little chillier because of the wind. There wasn’t any parking at the start of the race, so we had to park about half a mile away. This wouldn’t have been a big deal at all had it not been for the rain, it was really difficult to leave the dry, warm car and head to the start line.
I’ve been sharing my race “plans” on my last few posts and I think I will probably continue to do this. The last few races that I have run, I have followed my plan to the T and not surprisingly, that has led to some good results. I’ll go ahead and tell you that I didn’t do a great job of executing the plan on this race. I don’t want to only share the well-executed plans though, because sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. Sometimes that isn’t something you can control and sometimes it is. Yesterday’s race was some combination of the two for me.
The Plan was as follows: first 10% (first mile) 6:30-6:40 pace range, 10% to 80% (miles 2 through 9) 6:25-6:30 pace range, last 20% (miles 10 to 13.1) sub 6:25 (if there was anything left in the tank). It was a good plan and I didn’t exactly follow it.
I ran the first mile in 6:35, which was spot on. Unfortunately, I was already starting to get in no man’s land and I didn’t want to run 12 miles by myself! As the lead female, I had a bike escort the entire race, which was absolutely amazing and quite a blessing. She rode behind me the entire race (and occasionally gave me directions if I asked). It still wasn’t the same as having a pack of runners to work with though. I got sucked into trying to keep up with a guy in front of me during mile 2, which I ran in 6:20. Too fast! I paid for that.
Miles 3 through 7 were actually within the planned range. They were 6:25, 6:35, 6:24, 6:28 and 6:40. I think that I was having to work a little bit harder than normal to hit those paces in the wind and rain. I also wasted some energy and added distance to my race by avoiding puddles. I probably should’ve just embraced the first puddle that I came to head on and gotten it over with, but instead I decided to try to keep my shoes as dry as possible. At the time it seemed logical, but now that I am typing it out it seems slightly ridiculous.
Note to self: When running in the rain, your shoes are going to get wet. Get over it.
The wheels started to come off a little bit during mile 8. It wasn’t a huge crash, but I couldn’t hold my planned pace any longer. Miles 8 through 10 were 6:51, 6:38, 6:49. Once my pace started falling off, I had a hard time staying in the race mentally. I also got passed by about 10 (or maybe more) guys during this stretch of the race, which was really disheartening. As it turns out, these guys were not even part of the race. Ugh. I wish I had known that. I think it must’ve been a XC team out for a workout of some sort. They were young guys and were running in groups of 2 or 3 and they would just zoom by me, leaving me in their dust.
I kept telling myself “just get to mile 10, just get to mile 10, just get to mile 10 (I said it (in my head) a lot).” I don’t know exactly what sort of magic I was expecting to find at mile 10 (there wasn’t any), but I knew that I would only have a 5K to go and I was supposed to try to drop my pace down once I got there. I came through mile 10 in 1:05:43 (6:35 average). That’s when I started doing math in my head and making bargains with myself.
I knew that my half marathon PR pace was under 6:30 and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make up 5 seconds X 13 miles = 65 seconds over the last 3 miles. I wasn’t feeling good enough to pull that off. It would’ve been better if I hadn’t started doing the math because I kind of used that as an excuse to “give up.” Don’t do math and run! I knew that I was the first female by a decent amount and I was kind of like “Ehh, no big deal … it’s not a PR day so why push it.”
By the time I did all of that math, I was already at mile 11 and I hadn’t picked it up at all. Mile 11 was 6:46. Then I told myself, “just get to mile 12 and then we’ll pick it up.” I really felt okay at this point, but I was also really comfortable at my 6:50 ish pace too. Mile 12 and 13 were 6:51 and 6:49. I started chatting with my bike escort during the last few miles and I didn’t pick it up at all. I finished in 1:27:33 (13.25 miles) for 1st female and 6th overall.
I would’ve been 5th overall, but one guy beat me by 1 second! What?! He finished immediately behind me and I had no clue that he was even behind me at all. His gun time was 1:27:35 and his chip time was 1:27:32. I don’t know where he was during the race, but we never ran together. And all I really wanted was a buddy! It was so lonely out there. The 4th place finisher was 1:22, so there was a huge gap.
Obviously I am happy with the win, but at the same time, winning is only a product of who shows up, or perhaps more accurately, who doesn’t show up. I can’t control that. I also can’t control the weather. All I can do is run my race and give my best effort that day. While I do feel like I gave a really good effort, I don’t feel like it was my best.
As soon as I finished the race, I met up with Daniel Holley’s girlfriend, Sarah. I was originally planning to get on the bike and ride the second loop of the course with the Daniels. After running a half marathon in the wind and rain, I was less than thrilled about the idea of getting on the bike (shocking I know). I don’t guess we really thought that one through completely. We waited for a few minutes at the finish for the guys to come through the half and regrouped on the spectating plan.
My Daniel decided to stop at the half. Young Daniel was running strong and Daniel didn’t want to hold him back (his piriformis was bothering him, which we knew was probably going to happen). The main goal was to support Young Daniel and not permanently injure himself. Daniel, Sarah and I hopped in the car and headed out to catch Young Daniel on his second loop.
In the meantime, we also got to see Lizzie come through the half! She looked so strong!
We were able to catch Young Daniel several times along the course during his second loop. I hadn’t done a cool-down, so I hopped out and ran a little over a mile with him around mile 21. He was cruising along at about a 7:15 pace! My Daniel jumped back in at mile 23 and ran the last 3 miles with Young Daniel.
It was like a relay exchange handoff … tag, you’re up!
I got back in the car with Sarah and we booked it to the finish line.
Daniel finished in 3:15 (an over 40 minute PR!) and was 6th overall! We knew that he was in great shape going into this race and that he was going to crush it, but he absolutely knocked it out of the park! Holy moly.
Lizzie finished in 3:26 (a small PR for her) and was 2nd overall female! Woo hoo! She had a great race.
The conditions were less than ideal, but everyone made the most of it!
After a hot shower, we headed back to our LA (lower Alabama). We scooped Brookser up from the doggie ranch and got home in time for Daniel to watch most of the SEC championship and for me to take a nice little nap. It was glorious.
Everyone is worn out today. As I finished this post, I looked over to find Daniel and Brooks both completely passed out! I have a feeling that I may pay for this … (worth it).
I hope you had a great weekend! Talk to you soon!