Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans marathon recap

Well I did it. I crazily signed up for, trained, and ran my 5th marathon on Sunday. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans full marathon and finished all 26.2 miles of that beast. This was kind of a bucket list race for me. I had signed up for the full two times before and had to defer to the half both times. The first time I had the flu the week before. The second time I was pregnant with Baby Z-peat. So, third time was the charm. I was GOING to cross that finish line if it killed me (and it almost did!! or felt like it).

I had trained with two wonderful frunners Sarah and Denise for this marathon. It was going to be their first and since coming back to running after having Baby Z-peat it felt like I was totally starting over and re-training for my first. They helped me so much with motivating me to keep going on those long runs. My amazing ultra-running friend Kerrie kicked my butt and kept me going when I was whining daily to her that I just wanted to quit. My husband was a huge support, helping juggle the kids while I trained. I could not have done any of this without these people.

The Saturday before the race we left around mid-day to head down the expo and pick up our race packets. I usually hit up the expo on Fridays so it’s not very crowded when I get there. Ummm..Saturday at 2:00 is a CRAZY time to go. Let me just tell you. It was pretty crowded. Booths felt a little smooshed together and it was hard to walk around and just look. We picked up our race packets, ran into several people we knew, and looked at some of the race merchandise.

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I didn’t really find anything I had to have at the expo (shocker, I know!) but it’s always fun to browse and window shop for new products.

I loved that I was able to visit with my dear friend Heather. She’d just come back from Disney Princess weekend and was going to run the half on Sunday on a cranky IT band. I don’t know how she does it!

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We ate dinner at a little pizza place down the street early and then decided to call it a night at the hotel…after raiding the lounge at the Marriot for cookies and deserts. ūüôā

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Race morning we woke up around 5:30 to get dressed and eat a little breakfast before our walk over to the race start a few blocks away. I checked the weather again for the 1,000th time and it hadn’t changed. It was going to be a warm one. Ugh. I don’t run well at all in the warm weather. In fact, I’m terrible in it. I was worried.

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But I put on my big girl panties, my shoe bling, my great Move Ya Brass shirt, and my 2XU compression socks and tights. We were suited up and ready to run!

It took us about 22 minutes to get to the start line in our corral but we finally snailed our way there and it was time to go. My race strategy was to initially run a slow and steady 10:00/mile pace for the first half and then slow down as needed to 11:00/mile on the second half.

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The race route sent us down St. Charles for the initial few miles. I’m very familiar with this route as we run it for many New Orleans races. The roads are bad. I knew this. But, now the roads were bad plus add 10,000 additional people plus add heat and humidity plus add construction. Yes. Construction. It was a crazy, crowded, hot, humid, and then they had to shut the roads down to single lane in one section. Every time I found I good pace I would get bottle-necked and have to slow down. It was a mess.

My 10:00/mile pace actually felt really good and easy. I wasn’t struggling with it and I was doing really well dodging pot holes and trolley car lines and walkers. Before I knew it we were turning back into the CBD. We ran through the Quarter and up Esplanade¬†to head towards City Park. I was still feeling good and was finding a better groove now that we were on the wider parts of Esplanade. I saw that mile 12 split – full marathoners to the left and half marathoners to the right. Whaaa. I wanted to go to the right but I put my head down and veered left.

Then the sun came out in full force. At mile 14 I started to get tired and decided to slow down. At mile 15 I started to get hot. At mile 16 I started to get nauseated. At mile 17 I started to get miserable. Luckily I saw Sarah and Denise’s entire family waiting at mile 15. They were cheering us on and giving high fives, shouting, “You can do it!” as I passed. It was so great to see them!

I texted my husband at mile 15 letting him know I was struggling and that I was really slowing down. I knew he was waiting for me with the boys at mile 18. That’s honestly one of the few things that kept me going. I stopped and walked a bit and ate some Honey Stinger chews and pretzels. I tried to consciously drink water from my hydration vest to make sure I was hydrating with the heat.

The race volunteers were handing out salt with the water and Gatorade and I took one, feeling the salt crusted up on my face from all the sweat. That and the solid food on my stomach helped a little bit with the nausea.

I turned the corner up to Lakeshore drive and started looking for my husband and boys. I see them a little down the road and I cannot wait to see their smiling faces. Then I see another person with them. Wait a second! That looks like my mom. That IS my mom!! She had snuck in the night before to surprise me on the course. It was so wonderful to have her out there cheering me on too!

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The bottom right picture is me realizing that she was there with everyone!! My husband had special t-shirts printed up that said “My mommy rocks 26.2” and “My wife rocks 26.2”. HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!???!

I gave them all big, sweaty, runner hugs and kisses and told them I’d see them at the finish line. Whimpering, I slowly trudged my way back out onto the course to finish up those last 7 miles.

The back half of this course is pretty desolate and there are a few bridges to go over. Not much shade and not much race support out there so having my family at mile 18 was a huge uplift.

By mile 20 I had resigned myself to run/walking it in the rest of the way. Time be damned, I just wanted to be DONE. I was hurting, I was tired, I was hot, and I wanted to throw up. Ugh. But I pushed and kept going one step at a time. Right around then is when Sarah caught up with me. THANK GOD she did! She and I ran in those last 5 miles together pushing each other up those bridges and ¬†around the corners. I’m not sure I would have made it without her.

It’s all pretty much a blur until mile 26 when I knew we were ALMOST DONE! We entered the chute for the final stretch and we were powering it in to finish. Sarah got my attention and pointed to my family cheering off to the left. My husband dropped my son over the fence and he grabbed my hand and ran in the last part of the race with me. He was beaming from ear to ear and we ran down the finish and everyone was cheering. He loved it, and honestly, I did too. It was a special ¬†moment.

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We crossed the finish line and got my medal. One of the best things they were doing immediately after you crossed was they were handing out icy cold, wet, towels. It felt amazing to wash the salt and sweat off of my neck and face and arms. I chugged a cold chocolate milk and more water and found the rest of my family. We cheered Denise in not long after our finish and all hugged her neck after she crossed the finish line. We did it! We did it! We finished 26.2 mile in some pretty rough conditions! These girls powered through a tough, tough course for their first and they made it look easy. I was so, very proud of them!

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Not long after our finish we made a bee-line for our finishers jacket. I wanted that damn jacket! I’d earned that baby!

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Now I think I may never take it off again.

You can also see my race write up on Bibrave.com here: Rock N Roll New Orleans Race Recap

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Reindeer Run 5k recap

This weekend the entire Z Family went out to Ponchatoula, LA for their annual Reindeer Run for Restoration House 5k and kids fun run. We did this race last year and loved it. Little Z ran the kids run and loved that he got a medal at the end. This year they were passing out the cutest reindeer medals for everyone. Coming back from a week at Disney we were exhausted but we HAD to do it. Little Z had been talking about running to get his medal for weeks.

Of course, our family had to go in costume. In fact, there are specific costume award categories for this race. Almost everyone was dressed up in Christmas gear.

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Little Z wanted to be Santa and wanted us to dress up as either elves or reindeer. Elves were much easier to do so elves we were!

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He was soooo excited to run with Daddy as they lined up at the race start.

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Annnnddd they’re off! Apparently the gun/horn went off by accident and everyone started running in the wrong direction. HA! So they had to run another block in the other direction.

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But Little Z and Mr. Z did GREAT and finished up strong.

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He was so proud of his medal.

After the kids race was done it was time for us to line up for the 5k. We were pushing both boys in the double stroller and it was cold so I wanted to get it done quickly. Last year when we did this race I was just a few months off having Baby Z-peat. I wanted to crush that time this year. We started out pretty quickly and Mr. Z asked me what time I was going for. I just told him, “get this done as quickly as possible”.¬† But I did have a goal in my head. I REALLY wanted to get a sub-9:00 pace.

Miles 1 & 2 ticked by pretty easily. I had pulled up the holiday channel on Pandora on my phone as we were blasting Christmas music as we ran. At the start of mile 3 I started to get tired. We were both getting tired. But we were almost there and we were on track for sub 9:00/mile pace. We pushed each other and ran it in at a sprint for a 26:37 finish time! Whoohoo!

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Shortly after we finished I check the official finisher results and saw that we had both placed in our age groups! I took 1st and Mr. Z took 2nd! SWEET!

The race starts and ends at a cute park in Ponchatoula. They have a cute backdrop to take race photos and Santa is even there for pictures.

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There was hot cocoa, Chic-fil-a chicken biscuits (YUMMY!), chicken quesadillas, jambalaya, fruit salad and a cookie decorating station.

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There’s even a nice playground for the kids to run around and burn off some energy too.

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We even took home the best group costume! The prize was a HUGE box of chocolates. All in all, it was a great morning. We had a blast and we will be back to run it again next year.

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You can check out my race report on bibrave.com here:

Reindeer Run for Restoration House 5k

Crescent City Classic 2015 Expo

You can often judge the success of a race based on their expo and vendors. Usually for a 10k you don’t expect much of an expo, or even one at all. It’s usually pick up your race packet¬† and t-shirt and then “See ya at the start!” Let me tell you, NOT with the Crescent City Classic 10k expo. They have an expo that rivals most half and full marathon expos I’ve been to! The expo is held on the Thursday and Friday before the race at the Hyatt Regency in downtown New Orleans. It’s a gorgeous and HUMONGOUS hotel. Thankfully they have signs pointing everyone in the right direction of I would have been lost and attending some banker convention.

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I was already working downtown on Thursday, so I decided to just pop over that afternoon and walk through the expo and grab my bib. One of the things I love so much about this expo is that they really promote the local businesses and running community. As we were riding down the escalator to the expo there was a HUGE Community Coffee blow-up coffee cup. Ahhhh…coffee. That might just hold me over for the day. Ha!

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There were good signs directing you right where to go to pick up your race bib. It was so quick and easy. I even picked up two other bibs for friends by proxy. All they needed was my ID and the email print out from my friends so they could look up our names. They found our corrals (sorted by color) and issued me our bibs. (Yes, I was a dork and forgot to take off my work lanyard).

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Once I received by bib I turned the corner to the fun! Varsity Sports and Brooks Run Happy were there with all the fun Brooks games and SWAG. Community Coffee had a huge set-up with free coffee, a mega Keurig machine and coupons and free k-cups. I grabbed…well, let’s just say, a few. Blue Runner was there handing out samples of their red beans and rice and Michelob Ultra was there handing out BEER!! Yes. I said BEER!!!! Only in New Orleans….beer AT the expo.

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They strategically placed the t-shirts so you had to walk through all of the merchandise to get your shirt. Nice job guys. Ya got me for a pair of sunglasses and a couple of t-shirts! I got this super cute onesie and matching tee for me from Nola Girl.

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And I also got to meet Robin and snag one of her uber cute tanks from Fit By You. Isn’t she just adorable!!! So sweet too.

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Towards the end of the expo Winn-Dixie had a whole wall set up of freebies to try and you could even take a fun picture with the Easter Bunny! (Not exactly sure which camera I’m looking into but my friends look lovely).

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Some of the other local vendors there included Dirty South Running and CHRONOS Body, Health, & Wellness Spa (I want a Mother’s Day package there please!). Many of the local half and full marathon race organizers were present as well, often offering a discount for race sign-up at the expo.

I didn’t have time to stay and listen to any of the speakers they had scheduled but there were some great topics for runners. Sad to say, I missed the second line on Friday at the expo. It looked so fun!

All in all it was an excellent expo and just one more reason why I love the Crescent City Classic.

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Chick-fil-a Race Series 10k Race Recap

I first noticed the information for the Chick-fil-A Race Series race in our local Chick-fil-A. Having a picky eating 3 year old, we hit up Chick-fil-A at least once a week. He loves their nuggets and fruit and indoor play area. I thought it would be a fun event for the whole family. I signed us up for the 10k. And then I learned that on top of the normal age group awards there was a Spirit Award for best costume. I am ALLLLL about some fun race costumes. It. Was. On.

I made a bee line to JoAnn’s for a ton of bulk felt in Chick-fil-A colors and set about my plan. Mr. Z and I would be cows, Little Z a chicken nugget, and Baby Z-peat a waffle fry. I was even going to decorate the stroller as a take out bag. Friday afternoon I got to sewing and gluing (felt glue is amazing stuff). I stayed up until 11:00 the night before but I got it all done. We were one Chick-fil-A spirited family. I was determined to get that prize!

Even the jogging stroller got a makeover!

Even the jogging stroller got a makeover!

Our little waffle fry.

Our little waffle fry.

Our crazy weather meant, of course, a cold front moved in the night before. We got up at 6:00 a.m. to start getting dressed and it was 34*! Ack! So we layered upon layered up. We got the whole family dressed, the stroller loaded and we were ready to roll!

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We got to the race and found our way to the start area. They had water and bananas available for everyone at the start. We filled out the spirit cards with our bib numbers at the Spirit tent and made our way to the start line. We met up with our friend Denise and her family there. The 10k racers were going first with the 5k folks starting about 10 minutes after us. We made sure the kids were super bundled up and we were off.

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The course took us on the back roads around several neighborhoods and rural parts in the area. It was actually very pretty. There were wonderful race volunteers at the turns pointing us in the right direction along with well marked signs. They cheered us on at each turn. We got a mile in and were feeling good when Little Z’s iPad app got stuck and he wanted something to drink. I got the iPad fixed, got him his water, and we were able to start running again. We were in this race for the fun of it, so I wasn’t too concerned with pace.

Around mile 4 the course took us by some construction they were doing on a back road. And the crew was actually working on a Saturday. Oh no. Two huge dump trucks were trying to maneuver out of the construction site onto the nearby road. Luckily it was a small race and the trucks didn’t have to go far before they were clear of runners.

We were feeling really good and actually keeping a pretty good pace. We were on pace to knock off several minutes from last weekend’s 10k! We rounded the corner and saw the police lights signaling the turn into the finish line. Little Z loved the police lights! We sprinted it in to the finish and the Chick-fil-A cows were there giving everyone high fives and handing out little cows. It was so cute!

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Little Z LOVED his little cow.

They had warm coffee and chicken biscuits waiting for all the runners. Ohh they tasted so, so good on that cold, cold day.

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They also had bouncy houses set up for the kids across the parking lot. But it was so cold that Little Z really wanted nothing to do with them. They weren’t handing out medals at this race except for the overall and age group awards. They had medals for each of these categories three deep. I’m not fast by any means, so I had no expectation of getting one but I can still ogle the bling!

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They had a cute finishers backdrop set up across the finish line for people to take pictures after the race. We were able to snap a Z Family picture in all of our costumed fabulousness.

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And Little Z was infatuated with the big cows. He was following them around, wanted pictures with them, giving them high fives.

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He even wanted to “shake his booty” with the cows. He got his dance on with the big one. It was hilarious. He had everyone in stitches.

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It was time to start calling the awards. They got to each of our age groups and shocker upon shocker we each won third place in our age group! Whohoo!

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Everyone was starting to leave and they still hadn’t called the Spirit Awards. I walked up to the award tent to ask if they were going to do those today or if it worked differently. She looked at me, grinned and said, “We’re just about to announce them. DO NOT LEAVE!” Ummm…OK.

They announced the third place winner. Then the second place winner. Then the overall Spirit Award winner….ME!! OMG! OMG! I was so excited!! She said it was the cow ears that put me over the top. HA!

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I won a huge stuffed Chick-fil-A cow and a coffee mug filled with free Chick-fil-A vouchers. I’m going to be a Chick-fil-A eating fool!! We had such a fun time at the race. Ok, here’s the break down:

Pros:

  • GREAT food after the race
  • Nice race distances for everyone and every ability: 1 mile, 5k, and 10k
  • Course was fun
  • Bouncy houses were a nice touch for kids – just wish it were warmer
  • Good age group medals, three deep for each race.
  • The Spirit Award contest added an extra element of fun to the race.
  • The race shirts were really nice – red tech t-shirts.

Cons:

  • I wish, wish, wish races would hand out medals for everyone in the 1 mile fun run. You don’t know how much it makes these kids light up to get a medal (no matter how cheap and chintzy) when they cross that finish line.
  • They were handing out Chick-fil-A biscuits, coffee, water and bananas but then wanted to charge $1.50 for a cookie. It was kind of odd to me.

Overall it was a great race and we had a really good time. We would definitely be back to run this one again if it’s offered near us.

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New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2014 Recap

This weekend I had a lot of running friends run the 2015 New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. I loved seeing all of their expo, “flat runner”, tweetup and finish line brag pics! I didn’t sign up to run it this year because I didn’t feel like I would be ready to run it in time and didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself after the arrival of Baby Z-peat. I really just wanted to soak up my time with his sweet little face. But, I ran it last year. I never did a race recap on it. I thought it’d be fun to post a race recap one year later. Let’s see how much I remember!

This race was just doomed for me from the start. Everything that could go wrong did. I had every intention of running the full marathon that year. I trained hard all fall and PR’d a couple of my half marathons leading up to the race. I was feeling strong late December with two 20 milers already under my belt. Things were looking good. And then Christmas happened and then I got the flu. Ugh. I was sick for over two weeks. When I finally started to feel better my body was so incredibly weak.

Two weeks before, my friend Nicole was running the full too. It was going to be her first. She wanted to come over to my ‘hood to run with me for her last long run for a change of scenery. It was going to be a test run for me to see how my body would do. If I could manage the whole 20, no matter how slow, I would run the full. If not, I would downgrade to the half.

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We started our run and 6 miles in I just was not feeling it. I knew then that this run would be a real struggle for me. I stuck it out for 12 miles and then had to call it quits. I felt so bad for having to leave her to finish out those last 10 miles but I just couldn’t go any longer. (She rocked those last 10 miles anyway!) My body was spent.

My dear friends Sarah and Ryan were coming in for the race and I was so excited to see them! Mr. Z, Little Z and I met up with them the Saturday of the expo and had lunch before heading over to the expo to pick up our packets and peruse the running goodies. Funny enough, this is where I bought my first FlipBelt and fell in love with it. I was nervous though. I was supposed to run the full with Sarah and I was still feeling pretty crummy.

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To add insult to injury, Mr. Z was supposed to run the half. That same week he started having severe nose bleeds…to the point he had to go to the ENT to have a blood vessel cauterized. The Dr. told him under no uncertain term was he to run for 4 weeks or he could risk hospital stay. So, he was out. I convinced my friend Kerrie to come run on his bib with me. She’d been having some calf and shin pain but I twisted her arm and she relented. Yay!

Sunday morning I got up, still feeling crappy and exhausted. I had NO energy. My body felt beat down and tired. I had decided that I was just going to shuffle through the half and get it done. I’d paid my entry. I was going to get a medal one way or the other dammit!

I walked out the door to my car and was greeted by crazy, thick-as-pea-soup fog. FOG! UGH! Seriously? Kerrie and I were following each other across the bridge. When I got to the toll booth, I saw that they were caravaning people across at 35 mph due to the thick fog. 24 miles at 35 mph. Seriously????? Ugh! Luckily we had given ourselves plenty of time to get across, get parked, catch the shuttle, and meet up with Sarah. We were doing good on time.

We finally got across the bridge and the fog had lifted a bit. We got parked and were gearing up to go catch the shuttle to downtown. I couldn’t find my headphones. I tore the car apart. No headphones. Damn. Not a huge issue since I run without headphones most of the time but I like to put them in if I start really struggling or hurting for an extra bit of motivation. Kerrie and I always talk our heads off while running so It was OK. We started to walk to the shuttle buses and I had a nagging feeling in my head that I was missing something. I felt for my car key and it was gone. GONE!! I started to freak out. Kerrie, (thank God for her level head) ran back to car and looked for the key using her iPhone light (it was still dark out). We were hoping I had just dropped it at the car. I began to backtrack behind her looking as well. No key. Anywhere. I thought maybe I had just locked it in the car while rummaging for my headphones. At this point I was feeling crappy, exhausted and freaked out over losing my car key. We decided to say “F it” and just run the damn race since we were so close.

After all that, we were cutting it close for the race start. We caught one of the last shuttles to the start line and managed to still make it to our corral. Unfortunately I completely missed seeing Sarah at the start. We slowly meandered our way to the start line and I was still a stress ball and nervous wreck over losing my car key. We got to the start and began running. We were off! About a mile in I ran into Nicole and Karen! I snuck up behind her and goosed her. HA! She was looking strong and ready to tackle all 26.2 miles!

Our motto was to just keep moving/shuffling/walking until we crossed that finish line. The miles ticked by. I’m so grateful for Kerrie’s conversation and taking my mind off things. Before I knew it we were halfway done and in the French Quarter. It was CRAZY foggy in the Quarter as we got close to the river. It was very eerie and actually quite beautiful running through it.

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By mile 8 we were hurting. I still felt crappy. It was taking every bit of willpower to run and keep moving. I had zero energy. What was wrong with me? I was running 16 and 18 milers just a few weeks before with no issue! But we kept it fun and silly and just kept moving, moving, moving.

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The last few miles were a blur. I just remember entering City Park and wanting to be done so badly. Just keep moving. Just keep moving. I finally saw the finish line and it was such a wonderful site. We were almost there. Kerrie took off in a sprint. She wanted to be done. I didn’t have any gas left. I just kept moving slowly to the finish line. We. Were. Done.

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We got our finisher medals and walked back to the car hoping maybe we might see the key along the way or dropped right at the car. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Fuuuuddddggggeeeeee. I call Mr. Z and told him I had lost the key. He was so wonderful and drove across to bring me the spare key. We walked over to CC’s and had some warm coffee (I ALWAYS pack a credit card or a $20 in my belt for those “just in case” times thank God!). We waited there until he arrived with the key. Hallelujah! I drove home, got a hot shower and crawled into bed for a long nap.

All morning I was telling Kerrie that something was off. This was not me! I’m not this scatter brained! I just was not feeling well. No energy. Exhausted. Well, a week later I found out why!! I was pregnant with Baby Z-peat! No WONDER!

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I can honestly say this was one of the craziest, messed up races I have ever done. I have no idea how I made it through it but I did. Amazing what a little willpower and good friends can do!

Race Review – Keeping Up With Jones 5k & Fun Run

The weekend before last we trekked out as a family and ran our first 5k race with the new addition Baby Z-peat. We ran the Keeping Up With Jones 5k and Fun Run put on by Jones Physical Therapy. I’ve always wanted to run this race but something has kept me from doing it each year. I’d heard it was a lot of fun with tons of great door prizes. The weather has been gorgeous here lately so I decided to sign¬†us up online to get our butts out the door and get moving.

wpid-20141018_082641.jpgI signed Little Z up for his first one mile fun run. He loves to run around the house and he runs down to the pond and playground by our house to play and feed ducks. I thought this would be a fun introduction to racing for him.

We barely arrived in time on Saturday morning to get Little Z up to the starting line for the one mile run (it’s tough wrangling everyone). Mr. Z was running it with him to assist and carry him if need be. He was a little overwhelmed by the people and excitement and poor Mr. Z ended up carrying him for most of the mile. But he put him down toward the finish and told him to RUN! And he did! It was so stinking adorable watching the two of them run in together.

20141018_081938Immediately following was the 5k. We loaded Little Z into The Beast and got ready to roll. Smoothie King was there so he was super content to chill in the stroller with his strawberry smoothie.

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We walked to the start and got at the back of the pack. I had no illusions of grandeur about running this whole thing. I just wanted to run some/walk some and have fun. The course was through old town and along the lakefront. We could not have asked for a prettier day.

wpid-20141018_082716.jpgI actually ¬†managed to run the entire first mile! I was so proud of myself. We ran/walked the last two since I was getting a little winded and tired. I didn’t want to overdo it. We finished the race and headed to the finish area. There was a ton of great food.¬†Another Broken Egg Cafe catered the race. There were Southern biscuits, bacon, scrambled eggs, Smoothie King smootihes, Starbucks coffee, and Starbucks pastries and bagels. Several of the local half marathon races were out promoting their races with discounts too!

wpid-20141018_092809.jpgWe met up with some¬†of our friends after the race (my friend Claudia and me here). It was so great to see Amanda and Fred (NOLArunner) there too! Always a pleasure physically chatting with some of my social running network friends. Sorry I didn’t get a picture with Amanda though. Speedy Fred won his age division! Congrats Fred!

wpid-20141018_095136.jpgThey were calling out all the age division wins and they got to the “5 and under” division. They called the name of the fastest girl and then they were calling the winner for the fastest boy. It was Little Z!!! He won his age division in his first race! (now he was the only entrant, but that’s besides the point). He was SOOOO excited to get his prize. He kept asking all morning, “I was the winner Mama?” He won a very cool coffee mug with a packet of hot cocoa. He loves his winner mug.

20141018_094726After the age division awards and overall winner awards they started with the door prizes. There were a BUNCH of really cool door prizes! My friend Claudia won a $175 spa package! Mr. Z won a $20 gift certificate to Varsity Sports. There was local artwork, jewelry, gift baskets from local merchants and even a grill (as the grand door prize). It was really fun watching the prizes being handed out.

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All in all it was a GREAT race day. We had a blast and I will definitely be back to run it again next year.

Keeping Up With Jones 5k

Pros:

  • Small, local race – not crowded at all
  • Fun, scenic course along the lakefront
  • GREAT food and coffee after
  • HUGE amount of really good door prizes
  • Really good race t-shirt. It’s super soft and cute. Sorry – no pic.
  • Very family fun oriented

Cons:

  • I can’t think of one!

Crescent City Classic 2014 Race Recap

2014 Crescent City Classic 10k Race Recap from Jennifer Zenuch on Vimeo.

I am almost ashamed to say that this is the first year I have ever run the Classic. Easter is a big holiday for us and we almost always either have family in town or we’re out of town. It’s a hard race for us to coordinate and run. But this year we were free of family commitments. We were free to run the race! I was excited. My friend Nicole¬†won two free tickets and she allowed me to use one of them! I registered Mr. Z earlier in the week and we were ready to go.

I hit the expo on Thursday afternoon. I had to run through pretty quickly because I was working downtown but, “Wow!”. What a great expo for a 10k race. Packet pickup was fast and easy¬†to maneuver. I quickly walked through the vendor area to see what they had. There were so many great vendors there. I purchased some really cute running tanks from Dirty South Running and Geaux Run and talked a bit with Craig Watson, the race director for Baton Rouge Beach Marathon (SUCH a great race – one of my faves).

Saturday morning we woke up at 5:00 a.m. (EEP!) and got ready. We drove to meet up with Nicole and picked her up to combine bodies into one car. We decided to park at City Park and catch the shuttle to downtown. I was worried the shuttle bus lines would be slow so we gave ourselves plenty of time. The buses ran very quickly and efficiently though. There was no need to worry. We got to the Superdome about 7:30 and met up with Heather and Larisa, two other social media runners from the Gulf Coast.

Before we knew it, it was time for the race to start. We were pushing Baby Z in the stroller so we were waiting to jump into the last corral at the very back (as we were supposed to do). By the time we got to the start line the race had been going for 30 minutes. I knew this was a big, crowded race and I had no illusions of grandeur of racing it with a jogging stroller. We just set out to run/walk and weave in and out of the walkers as best we could. And we also just set out to have fun.

It was rough going getting the jogging stroller through the mob of walkers in the back. We were running a pretty good pace for the first several miles and we were STILL passing walkers and strollers at mile 3. I don’t think those people went to the back of the corrals. O_o The race support and water stations were great all along the route. There were plenty of bands, music speakers blasting, crazy costumes, dancers, cheering squads and free alcohol to keep you entertained the entire time.

Baby Z became REALLY unhappy around mile 5. I don’t think he was feeling well and at that point he just wanted OUT of the stroller. So we took him out and walked a little over half a mile taking turns holding and playing with him. Suddenly as we approached City Park he said he wanted back into the stroller. THANK YOU LORD!! We managed to bang out that last half mile and finish the race. It was a huge cluster of people at the end. The crowd¬†mostly kept moving well until it was time to enter the festival area. They had corralled that down to about five lanes of single file people. It bottle-necked terribly and it was almost impossible to get the jogging stroller through the barriers they had set up. There was no way that was handicap accessible and I had seen several wheelchairs on the race route. That was a bit disappointing to me.

Once we (FINALLY) got into the festival area we managed to meet back up with Nicole and several more friends that we knew were running the race. We saw Heather and Larisa and even Mindy  one more time. While the food lines were long, I did pawn some yummy red beans and rice off of a friend. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. You could have not asked for a better day. All in all it was a fun race and a fun way to get out and spend a Saturday morning.

Song Title: Spring to Come
Artist: John Butler Trio
Album: Flesh & Blood

Zydeco Marathon Race Review

Several months ago, fellow frunner (runner and friend) Fred posted an article¬†on his blog (http://www.nolarunner.com/) showing the medal previews for several upcoming local races. This photo popped up on his page and I knew right then and there that I HAD TO HAVE THAT Z!! 1653594_10152229422199592_1261642856_n ¬† Anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter¬†knows that I am about all things Z! My son is Baby Z. My husband is Mr. Z. I am Jennifer Z. So when I saw the medal for the Zydeco Marathon in Lafayette I knew, KNEW I had to have it. I had planned to train for this half a little better than I did. But after the fiasco that was the New Orleans Rock n Roll race in February (I may do a race recap on that one if I can get up out of the fetal position in the corner whenever I think about it), plus persistent hip issues, my race training fell to pretty much sitting on my butt on the couch catching up on the last season of “Homeland”. ¬†As race weekend approached I knew this was just going to be a “go out there and have fun with it” race. I wasn’t going to worry at all about time since this was, for the most part, running 13.1 miles off the couch. The week before the race, I really had no intention of wearing a tutu. I’m a fan of the running tutu, but¬†it just hadn’t even crossed my mind to wear one for this race. That is until THIS, now infamous, article came out about Self magazine and Glam Runner Monika Allen. If you haven’t heard about or read the article, it essentially called women who run in tutus “lame”. Huge PR nightmare later, Self apologizes (kinda) and donates to Monika’s charity…yadda, yadda, yadda. If anything positive could come out of that debacle at least Monika’s charity got a nice donation and awareness from all the publicity. Plus, I think it really united runners in showing their tutu love. So, to show my solidarity I decided to whip together a tutu the night before the race…to include bunny ears and a tail.

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The Z Family in front of the big Z at the race expo.

We got into Lafayette on Saturday and we hit the Expo, picked up our race bibs, and then headed out for some delicious po’ boys at Old Tyme Grocery. They seriously have the best shrimp po’ boy around in my humble opinion. The Expo was actually pretty decent for an inaugural, local race. Packet pickup was very smooth and quick. There were several¬†local¬†vendors there as well that I hadn’t seen at other race expos. I even picked up a box of Zydeco Energy Bars – sweetened naturally with sweet potato! I will be doing a product review on those later.

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What’s left of the yummy po’ boy from Old Tyme Grocery. Gotta carb fuel!

Race morning the alarm clock went off at 5:30. Sitting up in bed I thought, “Why in the crap do I do this to myself, on the weekend,…for fun!!???”. We rolled out of bed, got dressed and jumped into the car to head to the Cajundome. Parking was abundant and easy to find. The weather was perfect (upper 40s race start – 60s race finish). We made our way to the race start and waited the 15-20 minutes until 7:00 for the start gun. I started to run to the porta-potty in that time, just in case, but the lines were so massively long that I said forget it. Almost race time. We made our way to the back of the pack (stroller pushing) and counted down the minutes to run. I must say, the lady who sang the national anthem before the race did an AMAZING job. She was simply phenomenal.

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Ready to roll!!

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Baby Z all bundled up with his iPad and Superman sweater on.

7:00 and we are off!!

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Running selfie!

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Downtown Lafayette. So cute!

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Mile markers and race course marked with Z’s!!!!!!

The course took you through some really great parts of Lafayette, both residential and retail. It¬†was pretty narrow in spots and ¬†in one area we had to run single file. It was a bit hard to maneuver with a stroller but the narrow parts¬†were very short and few and far between. One of the coolest things was the entire course was marked with Z’s!! Z course markers¬†were spray painted on the roads and even all of the mile markers had big Z’s on them. Every mile made me smile. The course support was amazing. Between the volunteers, the police and the family and friends just out cheering, everything was top notch. And let me tell you, I was so glad I wore that bunny tutu for the race. I cannot tell you how many little kids (and adults) lit up, waved, and shouted, “Go Easter Bunny!!!” at me. To see the smile on their faces made my day and made the miles go by that much faster. So NOT lame if you ask me. Mile 10 hit and my legs were getting tired. My body and joints didn’t hurt, which is odd because they usually do at that point. But, my legs were just dead. Jelly. We ran/walked it in from that point and finished strong with a (small) sprint to the finish.

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We got our Z’s!

The post race festival was full of food, beer and fun. They had vendors cooking and serving everything from andouille gumbo, to pasta jambalaya, to fried catfish, to shrimp tacos, to funnel cakes, to cotton candy, to cookies, to snowcones!! The food was non-stop and so, so good. I think I managed to eat every calorie I had just burned in a matter of 15 minutes. I met up with Fred to give him a bit sweaty hug and say howdy. We stuck around a bit longer, ate a bit more food, and then had to get back to the hotel to get our sweaty bods showered and packed before check-out time.20140330_101029

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So tired. Thank goodness Baby Z wanted to push the stroller back to the car.

All in all it was a fantastic race. I will definitely be back to run this one again. It was very well done. Here’s a quick break down of the pros and cons:

PROS:

  • Packet pickup and expo parking were easy to find and maneuver
  • Very good race communication via email
  • Decent expo with some local vendors I hadn’t seen at previous races
  • Race day parking was abundant and again EASY to maneuver
  • Good, scenic course highlighting some nice sights of Lafayette
  • GREAT course marking (loved those Z’s!!)
  • GREAT course support. Thanks to all the volunteers and police.
  • Excellent water station placements and very good staffing of water stations
  • Really good¬†food at the finish festival. Plus they give you plenty of food voucher tickets on your bib to eat and drink yourself silly.

CONS:

  • Not enough porta-potties at the beginning. The lines were really long and they stayed long at all the potties until about mile 6.
  • Narrow course in places made it difficult to run with a partner and stroller. We had to run single file in a couple of places.
  • The finish line was a bit of a cluster. They need some people there to direct finishers to keep moving¬†to the finish festival. People were loitering after the finish and it turned into a big mess of a bottle neck. After 13 miles of pushing a stroller I do not want to maneuver around even MORE mobs of people standing still right after the cross.

IMG-20140330-00084 Great job Zydeco Marathon on a wonderful inaugural race. You guys were Super!