Archive | February, 2014

So you ran a marathon. Now what?

26 Feb

I was taking a break from homework and thought that now would be the perfect time to get to this post that I have been meaning to write for what seems like ages.

Earlier this month I ran in my first every marathon. My ultimate goal that I have been focused on and looking forward to (not exactly the word choice I would choose) since I joined the FMRMC group last May.  Since then I’ve been taking it kind of easy since I didnt have the motivation of a looming marathon to run.

Part of it was recovery, the other part was a sudden piling on of work for school (and for work) and the last part was a bit of laziness on my behalf.  I admit I haven’t done too much running since then. Altough I have still been going to kickboxing and the dog park AND I miracuously (spelling on that?) made it to the 5am run this past Tuesday. (And if you know me that was a struggle and a half to get to, I can wake up good for the 6am weekend runs but having to wake up around 4/4:30 in the morning for the 5am weekday runs is ROUGH!!)

So I’m slowly working to get back into the routine. I currently am planning on going on a run with the Pharmacy school as they are holding free 5k training sessions this afternoon as I tend to stay more motivated and accountable when I run with the group.

Back to the main topic. Whats next?

If you had asked me right after my marathon if I would ever run a marathon again I would’ve flat out told you “HECK NO!!” (and if I was one  to cuss/curse, which I do not, I wouldve added a rather colorful explitive ). However, Monday night I was in bed and thinking I could do so much better than I did and was already searching for the next one.

I found one in October in Indianapolis when one of my best friends from undergrad is currently living. I haven’t 100% committed to it as of yet as I want to get back into the routine of running first and I want to wait to commit until I start my actual “Big-Girl” job in June, so that I can see how long it takes for me to balance running and a full time job and how vacation days work, etc. But it is currently looking like  strong possibility as I could go and see my best friend who I haven’t seen in ages!! (or at least maybe do the 1/2 marathon). I’ll keep you updated.

I was thinking about doing a 1/2 coming up soon but then I realized that the Month of march is quite busy for me and if I did it that would mean that I would be out of town every weekend in March and then the first weekend in April (thanks to spring break, a traveling broadway play I’m going to see 🙂 and a bridal shower for a wedding that I am in).  So I’ve nixed that.

But I plan on doing a prediction 5k coming up in early March over my spring break and close to St. Patty’s Day, quite excited for that. And I may convince my brother to do the Great Urban Race with me in Atlanta in early April.  I did it last year with one of my friends in the MBA program, and don’t remember if I was blogging then or if I did a recap of it (Ill have to go back and see).

To try and stay with it I am going to see if I can at least find one race a month to do (even if just 5k’s ) as a bit of motivation, but as of right now I don’t have too much planned.

I do however have a few goals that I would eventually love to meet (hopefully break 1 or two of them this year)

  •  1 Mile time: Break a 7:30, In high school my fastest time was 7:48 and I’ve never really been close to that since. During my training my mile time for our mile time trials improved dramatically, even dropping as low as 8:13 on one occasion. I would love to say that I am fastest that I have ever been
  • New 5K PR
  • Break 1hr for 10k – I’ve been pretty consistant at around 1 hr 3 minutes lately so I would love to beat that time

Other happenings with me.

3 weeks ago I officially joined Weight Watchers. I’ve been kind of trying to lose weight on my own and we see how well that has worked for me (It hasn’t).

I first joined weight watchers the summer before my senior year in highschool about 6 years ago (has it really been that long) and had a lot of success with it. However throughout college that weight slowly crept back on.

I think I just do alot better with the accountability that WW provides by going in publicly to weigh in and go to the meetings (even if some meetings don’t really apply to me).  I also like that I can eat really whatever I want, I just have to track it and count how many points it is.  I’ve been able to go out with friends for dinner and still able to lose weight. Heck I can even have icecream everyday (and I think I may have) which is an amazing thought for me and my sweet mouth (not tooth).

Over the past 3 weeks I have successfully been able to lose around 8.5 pounds and I’m sure that as I work to get back on my exercising path I will continue to be successful as this was done with minimal exercise.  I found a good website that has delicious food with the weight watchers points already calculated and I would say I’ve sauted yellow squash to eat about 18 of the 21 days. Prior to this I couldn’t tell you the last time that I ate a piece of squash.

I’ve also been working to drink more water as more often than not I’m like a camel where I drink maybe a little and then hardly drinking anything at all the rest of the day. (Confession: I’ve probably gone some days not drinking anything at all. Bad/Unhealthy I know). I found this App called Plant Nanny which helps to make a “fun” way to track your water and make sure that you drink enough. You plant a plant in a nursery and every time you drink a cup of water you “water” your plant. It will send you reminders when your plant is thristy reminding you to drink.  The more water you drink the more your plant grows till eventually its full grown and produces seeds so that you can plant another plant.  If you don’t water it then it dies.

My name is Holley and I just may run another Marathon.


Rock N Roll NOLA Recap: Part 2

6 Feb

Well here it is what you have all been waiting for. My recap of race day and the day I completed my goal of running a marathon. For part 1 of my recap which covered the expo you can click here.

So this post will covered everything (well as much as I can remember or can put into words ) that happened just a few short days ago on Feb. 2.

Sunday Feb 2.

After signing up for the FMRMC challenge (You can see my post on my declaration of my marathon goal here) in May it was hard to believe that I was about to run a marathon.  The night before I told my mom and brother that we had to be in the car and on the way to drop me off (the start line was about 3 miles from the finish where their parking space was so that would have to drop me off in the designated runner drop-off area) that we had to be out of the hotel and in the car by 5:45 at the latest.

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So Close to race time!!

I woke up aroung 4:30/4:45 and started getting ready. I ate my handy dandy, always eat before a run Luna bar, put on some body glide (which ended up being a life saver let me tell you!) put on my race day outfit and took a couple of pics with my mom. Somehow my outfit was completly orange and purple (orange shirt, orange socks, orange hairtie, orange flipBelt, attempted orange nails with stupid nailpolish that wouldnt dry right, purple sports bra, purple pants, purple race bib, purple headband).

Finally we left the hotel (After my mom and brother were moving a little slow) and were on the way to the start line, albiet later than planned. Perhaps I should mention that I stress out if I’m running late and like to be extremely early to things, so naturally running late I started to stress out.

My mom dropped me off at the runner dropoff area and they went to the finish line ot find their parking spot.  I went and had to walk a few blocks with runners as far as I could see to the starting park whichc had gear check (with rows and rows of UPS trucks), port-a-potties (with lines as far as the eye could see) and a few light refreshments (like bananas).  Since I wasn’t able to meet up with my running group the night before (hotel far away and I was ready for dinner at 4:30)  I wanted to be able to meet up with them before the start, so I immediately jumped in the bathroom line. Slowly but surely it I finally was able to use the restroom and I heard that one unfortunate sole did not have a zipper on their pocket and their phone dropped into the port-a-potty!!! Bye Bye phone!

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After this I went straight to my corral as it was getting close to race time.

Unfortunately I did not even realize how far away my corral was. I was in corral 15 and instead of finding a road intersection to skip the first few corrals I started from the Elite and corral 1 and had to walk what seemed like forever and a day to make it to my corral. When I got there I found my running group! I found John who was running the half, Beth who was running the full and Tess (our leaders adult daughter) who had signed up for the full but was just going to run the half.

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From my corral looking forward

Did I mention there was a butload of people running this race? I just checked and it looks like it was just shy of 12,500 who finished the race (of those approximately 2,700 completed the marathon).  It took about 27 minutes from the official start of the race until I got to cross the start line.  They had the waves spread out about 2 minutes apart in order to help with crowd control and to get runners at least some sort of space.

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Finally made it to the starting line!

We got to the start line and then the let our corral lose on the city of New Orleans. Almost immediately I split off from my running group as I was doing a 2:30/1:00 interval for the race and they were doing other intervals. Before I go into the actual race here is a pic of the route:



How did I not see this crazy elevation map (the last 6 miles) until now?

The first 1/2 of the race (shown in purple) wasn’t too bad. It was pretty crowded because it consisted of both the marathoners and the halfers but with the waved start there was still plenty of room to maneuver around people. Unfortunately New Orleans doesn’t have the best roads and it was filled potholes so that didn’t help too much and with having an interval plan I was kinda forced to stick to the sides on the crappier parts of the road so that I wouldn’t get in everyone’s way during my walking portions.  I actually saw a good amount of people and heard a good amount of beepers that indicated that people were doing some sort of run/walk interval technique for this race and it made me feel more at home.

The long out and back portion during this first part has some really pretty scenary. We ran by old historic houses and were huge and I’d say classic NOLA. There were some sections that had beautiful oak trees (at least I think oak) that lined the path and some of the trees even had mardi gras beads in them.  I took a few pictures during walk breaks some ended up kinda blurry and continued on.  Because it was near homes and some businesses there were plenty of spectators around (many with dogs) watching runners go by. Many had signs, and a few were giving out beer and the cheer sections were very enthusiastic.  A few people were dressed up as the characters from Monster Inc and had a sign that said “Nobody got time for Christopher Walken”.  Apparently someone had a sign (that I unfortunately misssed) that said something like “Run like the Tardis is waiting for you”. I got several high-fives and did a “touch here for power” on a sign and tried to enjoy the music both around me and coming from my ipod.

The first few water stops were extremely congested (especially being in the 15th corral) with cups and people everywhere.  Personally I think they should have had the water stops on both sides (they did for some of the later ones) so that people were not all forced to one side causing a bottleneck and slowing down.

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It didn’t take too long before I passed the 5:30 pace group for the marathon and I was feeling pretty good and excited at my potential finish time.

Anyways, before too long I could hear some cheering ahead and looking across the street you could see the race leaders and the pace bikes as they had long ago made the turn around and were heading back in. One thing that is great about the running community is that everyone is so supportive of everyone else.  I crossed the 5k mark in about 34:00 minutes and then the 10k mark at 1 hr 10 which was right on pace for my targeted time and a good pace to stay at, not too fast and not too slow.  Right around the 10k is when things started to change a bit.  The forecast for the race was rain and thunderstorms and up until this point there hadnt been any actual rain.  Around the 10k mark it started to rain some and then proceeded to get pretty humid and foggy.  Even though I had on some dry-wick socks I stepped in a puddle and got my shoe wet and ended up running in wet socks for about 20 miles (no fun). At one point around the French Quarter it got so foggy you could harldy see in front of you. Some spectators at this point even had pieces of donuts they were passing out to runners, but I (wisely) passed and continued on with my run.

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See how foggy and wet! You can hardly see the rocker dude, it was worse at other parts

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Why couldn’t I stop at Cafe Du Monde right then and there?

We run through the lower portion of the French Quarter and continue along at are between miles 12 and 13 when one of the first really hard things happened: the split from the halfers.

I wish I had taken a picture but it was during my running portion so I couldn’t but picture this: your reaching the split, you can hear the finish line music and celebration but you know that you still have 13 miles to go. They tell the fulls to keep to the left and the halfers to the right. What it looks like at this point is a packed can of sardines (not really but in comparison) on the right and an empty can with only 1.5 sardines on the left. It was here that you could really tell that there were 8,000 more people running the half than the full and you begin to wonder “what in the world gave me the idea to run a full?”

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So I continued along with the straggle of marathoners it it was here that I basically had open road. There was plenty of space around me and water stops from here on out were never a croud issue.  Just pass the 1/2 marathon spot I spotted my mom and brother (who I later found out got a little lost trying to find the parking lot and were afraid that they would get lost again so stayed near the finish the entire time so that they wouldn’t miss me, instead of exploring NOLA for a bit). I had slow down a little bit at this point (but still at a fairly good and regular pace, some of the slow downs attributed to the crowded water stops) and had passed the 1/2 point at 2:34 which put me on pace for a 5:10ish marathon (which I was estatic about). Back to the family. I spotted my family and my mom had the camera and a sign that said “GO Holley, Go Holley, Go Holley and Charlie” (I think she ment to say love Charlie, my dog, because he most certainly wasn’t running this race).  They gave me a bottle of water and my brother jogged with me for a short bit, which I thought was pretty sweet considering he was wearing jeans. He asked how I was doing and if I was going to make it, (and if I was near a walk break which unfortunately I wasn’t) took the bottle back and then I was off again.  Around here you could see the super speedy runners who were close to mile 25 (seriously how do people run that fast?) and spectators were genuinely cheering for both those at 25 and myself near mile 14.

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Now this 1/2 of the race was honestly pretty boring. There was literally nothing out there. There was much fewer spectators as there wasn’t many houses and towards the end of the out and back it basically just cement and Lake Ponchatrain (did I spell that right?) as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately it was not too long after that things started to go downhill for me. I’ve done a 24 mile run for training and a couple of other 20+ milers but this one just seemed to be much more difficult. For one thing my socks were wet and running in wet socks is no fun at all. For another somehow at mile 13 I did something to my ipod shuffle (I normally use my phone) and had it repeating on the same 3-4 songs for who know how long and then at another point somehow had it off (I guess a song didn’t play right or something) and didn’t notice for awhile. For another my stomach had started to bother me, perhaps it was the nerves, or the humidity combination but it was just not feeling right. As a result I took far fewer energy chews than I normally do because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep them down (and it seemed rather hard to chew for some reason at this point).  And then finally we had the bridges. Bridges that I did not really even expect to be coming up.

Now driving over a bridge is no big deal but running over 3-4 (two times on the out and back) is just torture, I ended up walking up most of them to try and save energy.  In all this uck my legs were getting tired and I began to negotiate with myself adding in another walk break here and there (which I know was a bad idea and I should have pushed through because this messed up my entire rhythm).

Everything seemed to go on in slow motion. It was around mile 18 that the 5:30 pace group surpassed me and I knew that I was in trouble (time wise) and that my awesome time wasn’t going to be so hot.

Meanwhile this stretch seems to go on forever and you almost begin to give up hope that the turnaround will ever come. Finally you hear several runners (who are ahead of you running in the opposite direction as they have made the turnaround) encourage you and those nearby you that it is indeed coming up soon. Sure enough just past mile 19 half way up yet another bridge was the turnaround.  Now someone please tell me, why would you have a turnaround half way up a bridge? That is just torture.   I crossed the 20 mile mark at 4:17 still slowing down (if I had fresh legs I could have finished the last 6 in just over an hr but that was definitely not the case).


Mile 23ish? I was exausted but still able to cheeze for the camera

I reach about mile 22 when I see Beth coming from the opposite way. I say hello and cheer her on, she is almost to the turnaround. I’ve really slowed down now and ended up switching my intervals to the opposite. What I should have done was stop my watch and then change the intervals to a 2:00/1:00 or a 1:30/1:00 but of course I didn’t.  At some point along the course I yelled “War Eagle” to another runner and at another point a spectator with martini glasses and a bullhorn had on a Florida outfit. I “ran” by doing the Seminole Tomahawk Chop in which she replied with some witty banter, it helped to put a little bit more pep in my step.

This point in the race was were you have to be mentally prepared. Most of the faster runners have already completed the race and there is some distance between yourself and others at some points. I would keep talking to myself saying “only X more miles to go, you can do this, your almost there…” etc. And if I haven’t mentioned it before my cognitive and math skills go far out the window when it comes to long runs so some of this, if spoken out loud, would have been extremely amusing to hear I’m sure.  At one point my watch died which is another indicator that the second half of my race was going much slower than anticipated. Of course it would have died unless I was under a 5 hr marathon but thats besides the point. Mentally it is a devasting blow. Originally I had borrowed my mom’s interval time and I was going to use it becasue I knew that my watch would die before the end but unfortunately hadn’t had time to learn how to use it so I decided against it.  Thankfully though I had brought my phone in my flipbelt and had an interval app on it. That ment no more music and random beeps in my ears for however many miles I had left to go, but it was far better then nothing.

I finally make it to mile 25 and the last water stop where I am practically dragging my feet. My entire upper body and head are like “yeah lets do this” while my legs are screaming “please stop!”. I get to the water stop and who do I see but my wonder running group leader Tammy. She walks with me for short bit and asks how I am doing (honestly I’m kind of surprised that I’m coherant at this point).  I’ll be honest (and kind of mad at myself) I walked the majority of the last mile because it feels like there was no end in sight. On top of that at about 25.5 there was a steep (extremely steep if you had just be running for hours on end) footbridge, or maybe cars went over it too couldn’t tell you at this point with photographers at the bottom. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.  I finally wind around this loop and here people telling me “your almost there”, which I was hesitant to believe but sure why not.

I see Tammy again and some white barriers and she tells me to smile when I cross the finish line for a good picture (I tried honestly but looking back at the pic, which I will post in a bit, in my head I looked alot better than what I actually did, lol). And then another guy tells me that there is only .2 mile left to go. Then kick it into gear and pass by some people walking near me.  I can hear the music and finally I can see the finish line and the people lining up near the shute. I’m so close I am determined as ever to finish this race. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t finish the race, although for a brief second or two during the tougher parts you almost want to think about it before you tell yourself to snap out of it.


Eye on that Finish Line Prize!


Now where was I? I’m closing in on the finish line maybe 150 feet out and I reach the edge of the crowd that is lining the finish line and they cheer for me when the unthinkable happens. MY IPOD FALLS OFF OF MY SHIRT AND ONTO THE GROUND!!!! I then had to waste precious time to turn around, bend down (ugggh) and get the ipod. Seriously of all times for it to do it it is at the very end of the race?  I grab my ipod at start running to the finish line (once again), I seriously am almost crying at this point and was probably seconds from tears. I can’t believe that I have done this and come this far on my running journey in such a short period of time. I lift my hand up in the air Rocky style (and no I haven’t seen the movies) and I have officially finished a marathon!

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Sweet race bling on a strand of mardi gras beads!

My official time was 6 hours 0 minutes and 20 seconds. While I know it didn’t take 20 seconds to get my ipod, if it hadn’t of dropped and I had done one extra running instead of walking interval I would have been in the 5 hr range.  While extremely excited I quickly became a little dissapointed at myself. I went from the chance of running a 5:10ish marathon to running one in 6 hrs. What can I say it is the competitive spirit within me pushing myself to do better that I know that I could have done much better.  I keep reminding myself however, how far that I have gone in terms of running in the past 9 months. That certain things couldn’t be controlled with the race such as weather, my stomach, etc that probably effected how I did, and that I have never run a full fledged marathon before. I accomplished something that the majority of the world would never even dream to accomplish.  I ran 26.2 miles (over 138,000 feet). I went to bed early on a Friday night when most of my peers were staying up late partying,etc so that I could get up early on Sat morning and run. I woke up at 4:30 am on some occasions (ended up having to run most of the mid week runs on my own because even that was too early for me) to make it to a 5 am group run in the middle of the week.  And if I have to I will continue to tell myself this over and over and over again any time some seed of doubt or some thought of judgement or comparison starts to creep into my mind.  Everyone is on a different journey. Sure some people finished the marathon in under 3 hrs, and to some people this was this 18th millionth marathon.


I did it! I ran a marathon!!

But I have to remember that :

My name is Holley and I am on my own running journey and I ran a marathon in 6 hrs.

(P.s) I was going to include post race stuff, what I did in NOLA, etc but realized how long this post was getting, so instead of 3 parts there will now be 4. Part 3 will be post race and Part 4 will be what’s next in my running journey.

(P.p.s) I decided to buy my race photos this go around (even though they were kinda expensive, but I completed a marathon people!) and have included some on here with a mix of some of my own photos. Of course many of my photos look crazy bad (personally to me) and some of them just so happened to be on a walk interval so they look like I’m doing nothing….


Rock N Roll NOLA RECAP: Part 1

5 Feb

OK. So I figured that I would split up my race recap into three (ish) parts, part 1 (which is here) will be about the expo and pre-race stuff, part 2 (which should be up tomorrow) will be about race day, and part 3 (which will be up either Sat or Sun) will be about what to do next now that I’ve accomplished my goal.

First thing first, when writing this I realized that I had not transferred my pictures over yet from my phone/camera so I will go ahead and publish this as is, but when I get home (currently writing during a break at school on a lab computer) I will strike this out and insert the pictures. I didn’t want to deprive y’all of a post so I will start without the pictures. (Race shirt and another will be shown tomorrow they are in the wash I believe).

Sat. Feb 1

My Saturday started really early. I had driven home to Pensacola from school the day before and Saturday was when we were officially driving to New Orleans! My dad unfortunately couldn’t make it because he was on call for work and couldn’t get anyone to swap days with him at work. Bummer. So my mom and I started off early by dropping Charlie off at the vet’s office to be boarded for the weekend. (With my dad on call he could have ended up anywhere and may have had to spend the night somewhere, thus was unable to watch him for us). We drove through Mobile and picked my brother up at his dorm room and then we officially were on the way! I still couldn’t believe that this weekend was already here (and as I type this I couldn’t believe that I have finished a marathon!).

We went straight to the expo when we had got there. I was hoping that we would have gotten there early enough for a tweet-up that the race was holding with two twitter runners that I had been talking to and following as of late but our trip was delayed a bit at various stops and we didn’t make it in time.

We get to the gigantic convention center where the expo was being held and lo and behold in the room (ballroom whatever) right next to the expo upstairs they were holding auditions for So You Think You Can Dance. (I’ve never really watched the show that much honestly, and was surprised that they were still on air I suppose).  I figured I would put all the auditionees to shame with my mad dance skills (NOT!) so I decided against auditioning that day.

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We get to the expo and it was the hugest thing I have ever seen. Most of the races I have done have been really little (in comparison) and only a couple of them actually had expos but they were tiny compared to RNRNOLA. They had a red carpet directing you inside to pickup your packet, shirt and goody bag along with a countdown clock until race time.

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At this point my mother was driving me slightly insane. For some reason she was far more than her usual self and I wondered what she put in her coffee she was oddly hyper. Thankfully my brother saw my annoyance and intercepted in order to wrangle some of her energy.

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After pickup the first area that you go into (which is about ½ of the room or so) is the Brooks sponsored area.  They had tons of running clothes (from the generic to the New Orleans specific). I ended up getting a cute tank top with a picture of Louisiana on it (there will be a pic) and a long sleeve gray shirt (that was actually a men’s shirt but super comfortable) that said Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon on it (and I may have worn it to school yesterday) and then my mom bought myself and her a lightweight running cap.

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They had this neat little “Island” area where you went in and got your “passport” and then they had three different stations from a gate analysis, mechanical shoe (instead of mechanical bull) and this neat little racing up a volcano thing. If you did all three things, you would get a stamp and then could get a tote cooler thing. We opted not to do the events but went straight to the marketplace. On your passport was a QR code. The people there would scan the code and you would win anything from a pair of Brooks shoes (pretty rare to get, but the people behind me got it), a t-shirt, foam finger or a small plastic tote.  My brother and I both won t-shirts and my mom won the tote.

From there we went to the other half of the expo where tons of different retailers and such all had booths. There were things from massage sticks to headbands, compression socks to GU gels and everything in between.  To keep this post from getting to long I’ll skip to some of the highlights.

I ended up getting 2 pairs of running socks as I needed some more dry-wick socks and tried and voted for the RNR official GU flavor (I picked the salted watermelon one). We went to the Geico booth where you got a pair of shoelaces and a car decal for the race and could spin the wheel to be sponsored by Geico and win some pretty nice stuff from them. Didn’t win on the wheel (but of course the guy behind me does, ugghh).  They had some people from previous Biggest Loser seasons there which was pretty neat. I stop by the FlipBelt booth as I was looking to get another belt but unfortunately due to the stupid winter and ice storm their shipment didn’t get in in time so they only had XL belts, but they did give me a coupon code to get 20% off online (which I will for sure be doing). I absolutely love my flipbelt and can’t wait to get a second one. Then my mom paid for a parking pass that would guarantee us somewhat decent parking and we were done with the expo.

Almost forgot! I also got my 26.2 Marathon Magnet to go on my car!!!

We were at the expo much longer than expected and were starving. Ended up just getting snacks and heading to the hotel with the plan for an early dinner. Our hotel was pretty far from the actually expo (and resulting start line for the race) but we got it free through rewards points so can’t complain much there. We asked for suggestions from the front desk and at about 4:30 we went off to eat dinner. Somehow we ended up a primarily seafood restaurant (I hate seafood and used to get sick at the smell of it) that had okay food (although the fried eggplant sticks were pretty awesome) but extremely slow service. They had even gotten my order wrong so I had to wait even longer for my chicken pasta (did I mention that I was starving?).

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Fast forward back to the hotel where I laid out my running clothes for the next day, made sure that my gym bag was packed with my change of clothes and anything I would need/want immediately post race and I was off to bed at around 8:45/9:00ish.

My name is Holley and in a nutshell that was my day before my marathon.


3 Feb



My name is Holley and yesterday I completed my 1st marathon! (Working on a race recap that should be up by wed night)