Monday, April 30, 2012

St. Jude Country Music Marathon 2012

The St. Jude Country Music Marathon & 1/2 Marathon, a part of the Rock N Roll Series, was held in downtown Nashville this past Saturday (Apr. 28). 

Described in one word for me? ----->  Finally.  A race where I felt good, ran well, and finished strong!!  It was much needed.  After my full that turned into a half this past October, to the half 2 weeks ago, I was beginning to doubt my ability to run a race where I wasn’t hurt! 

But yes, finally, it happened.  On Saturday.  In Nashville.  Thank you, Lord.

A "MARATHON" gas station as we are on our way to run a MARATHON?! Cheesy I know, but hey, we were pumped! A MARATHON gas station as we are on our way to run a MARATHON?!  Cheesy, but we were pumped!

My registration for this race was given to me by my mom and dad (at my request) for my birthday back in February.  It is exactly what I wanted.  And FYI to anyone reading this who may be looking for gift ideas for me in the future: a race registration is ALWAYS a good one!! Winking smile 

Anyway, the plans were put together fairly quickly for my mom, myself, Katie, my sister Jessica, and my sis-in-law Kristy, to all go to Nashville for a girls’ weekend; Jessica, Kristy, and I were all registered to run the half-marathon.  WOOHOO!!  Look out Nashville, here we come!!!!
 

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My sister, Jessica, and I after arriving at our hotel in Nashville.

Nashville is one of my favorite cities.  It is really beautiful.  Ever since we used to come here frequently for Lady Vol basketball games (when our girls played Vandy or the SEC Tourney), I have loved it.  In fact, I remember waiting in line outside Memorial Coliseum on Vanderbilt’s campus to get into a ballgame one evening, and more than one group of runners went by and I wanted to jump right in with them so bad!  There are beautiful trees and landscaping everywhere, green green grass, and nice rolling hills that makes the Nashville downtown area stand out to me.  It almost doesn’t feel like a typical downtown area at all!  It’s just lovely.  I and KNEW that someday I wanted to run a marathon here.

After checking into the hotel, we were starving so we headed to Hard Rock CafĂ© in downtown Nashville.  We wanted to go downtown anyway because we also had to pick up our race packets at the expo so we thought we’d kill two birds with one stone.  DONE.  In and out like ROCKSTARS. Star

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Afterwards, we headed out to Opry Mills [which had just reopened due to the flooding that they had last year], and got our shopping on!  Yep, this big spender came away with a new pair of running shorts, an outfit for Katie, and a package of new socks for each of my boys.  Can you say big spender?!  Haha!

We headed back to hotel for our pasta buffet dinner, which was perfect, then up to our room to hit the hay.  Don’t we party hard when we go out of town without our men?!  Well, when a 4am wake up call is coming, bed needs to come EARLY, too!

Nobody slept particularly well. <----- Par for the course for the night before a race. Annoyed  Early adrenaline is easily to blame…along with some nerves.IMG_2351

Watching the sun come up with 40,000 other runners + friends and family.

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Arrival at LP Field, the finish line, and where we caught our shuttle to the start line!

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Lines for the shuttles, with the cityscape in the background.

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Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!  Well, awake, anyway.  And excited!!

The start line was just outside Centennial Park.  It is a beautiful park with tons of space…there were people EVERYWHERE, but it didn’t feel crowded…certainly not like there were 40,000+ people milling around.  It was GRAND. 

And I love the race crowds on race mornings.  The nervousness, the excitement, the anticipation…  It is the day when all your hard work pays off.  The day when the long runs really COUNT.  And plus, running creates endorphins, endorphins make you happy, therefore RUNNERS ARE HAPPY PEOPLE!  Even port-a-potty lines that are longer than you can even imagine can’t dampen the spirit! Open-mouthed smile

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Let’s do this! IMG_2358

 

And to make it even more exciting, this was my sister, Jessica’s FIRST HALF MARATHON!!!!  That’s right.  13.1 miles is HUGE, and is something to be celebrated for sure!  13.1 miles tests your body in ways that it’s never been tested before.  It demands so much mental toughness and physical determination, that it doesn’t matter HOW you cover that many miles, just that you DO it.  And when the going got tough in Mile 9, my sister.kept.going.  I have to say that I’m not surprised.  And I am SO proud of her.  I hope it’s the first of many half marys we do together. 2012-04-30 0012

I love you, Jessa, and I am BEYOND proud of you!!! Red heart (And yes, Layne, we missed you SO much!!!)

My sis-in-law Kristy also rocked out her SECOND HALF MARATHON!!!  She also did the Rock N Roll in St. Louis back in October, and I kind of blindsided her in the grocery store back in February and told her about Nashville.  I knew she’d do it, because she’s awesome like that…and she pumped through her second half marathon like it was her 50th.  I know she cusses me when she’s on her long runs, but she loves me.Winking smile Red heart  And Katie thinks she’s the bomb! IMG_2401

Katie and her Aunt Kristy just goofing!

 

At 7:22am, our corral got the countdown and the Country Music Marathon was off!!!

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It was an absolutely beautiful day!  But boy, did it warm up quick!  Not horrifically hot and humid, but definitely uncomfortable.  After a week of mornings with temps in the 30s/40s, I wasn’t really prepared for that, but I rolled with it (like I had any choice, right?!).  But what I wasn’t really anticipating were the HILLS!! 

Oh my word, this course is loaded with hills.  I knew that it was a “hilly” course, but I thought that meant a few up/downs with the biggest being reported around mile 2-3 on Demonbruen Street.  And yep, it did not disappoint, it was there…big and longgggg.  But I managed to power up and over it and thought, “Yeah!  I conquered the big hill!”  But little did I know was that the WHOLE COURSE is loaded with hills!  Maybe not all as massive as the first one, but still…  I am struggling to remember a flat part of the whole course; we were either going uphill or downhill the entire race.  Oy. 

It tested me for sure, but I just kept pumping up and powering down.  I kept my pace much slower than normal for two reasons, 1) I didn’t want to burn out too quickly, and 2) I didn’t want to aggravate any of my healing injuries (right foot and right femur).  I am happy to report that neither one bothered me at all, and all the nerve pain in my feet that plagued me during my last half two weeks ago never did bother me whatsoever Saturday.  Praise God!! 

Here’s how it all shook out: 2012-04-30_2031cmm

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And the official times:  IMG_2404

SO SO SO happy!!!!

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I think the smile says it all. Winking smile

After showers, naps, and a celebratory dinner at Red Lobster (YUMMMM!!!), we treated ourselves to Sweet CeCe’s Frozen Yogurt.  I made mine with the original tart flavor with strawberries, blueberries, and granola.  Oh.my.word.  SO GOOD!!

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What an amazing weekend we had! 

Perfect company, wonderful times, and promises made to do it again…very soon!!

Love you guys!

xoxo

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prom 2012

Well slowly but surely I’m getting caught up here…Smile

Van Buren High School Junior/Senior Prom 2012 was held last Saturday night, April 21.

You know, I feel kind of out of it because I can’t even remember the theme…but then again I don’t know if I ever KNEW the theme.  I was just so focused on getting my baby, ahem, my guy, ready for his first prom that I couldn’t think about anything else.  Ever since Heather asked him to go [he’s a sophomore, she’s a junior, therefore, SHE asked HIM to escort her], I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he is actually old enough to go to Prom.

Sheesh.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but with every new milestone I just sit back and shake my head and wonder, how did we GET here?!  So quickly it seems…

I really still see Tyler as my little guy,
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Oh my word, is he cute or what?!  I can hardly stand it!

But I sucked it up, and on Saturday we did this,
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And a note to all your Mommas out there: YES, you can put a picture of yourself with your boy BEFORE you put up a picture of him and his date.  That’s just how it goes. Winking smile 

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My favorite picture of the night was of Tyler with his BFF, Hailey…
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And, yes I’m going to flash back again,
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Heehee, cutest.thing.ever.


More pics from the night,
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Much to our delight, the after-prom night went very smoothly.  Tyler and some friends went to PB to eat and pick up some new movies; afterwards they all came back to our house around 130am and watched movies.  I breathed deeply for the first time when I knew he was finally home.  Thank you, Jesus.

Another milestone passed!

xoxo 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Go! St. Louis Half Marathon 2012

To finish off the most busy and wonderful weekend, I decided that since we were in STL anyway, I’d just go ahead and run a half marathon on Sunday morning before we headed home. 

I know.  I’m nuts.  It takes a crazy breed to do this at 5 AM,

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I mean, really.  BUT I LOVEEEEE IT!!!!! 

In fact, I sent a text to Jack (who was still at the hotel snuggled into bed) when I got downtown to the starting area that said that exact thing,
 

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Pre-Race Pics:

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I may be a little biased, but St. Louis is a beautiful city in which to run.  I love it. 

But wow, how quickly did I go from this:

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To this:

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And just so I can be Captain Obvious here, I would MUCH rather be wearing the running shoes than the heels ANY day. Winking smile

So the race started at 7am.  I was in Corral B, and I had in my mind a race “plan” that I had read about before, although I can’t remember where.  My plan was to take every mile and pray about and focus on one thing for that mile.  I started broadly and narrowed my prayer list down so that I could finish my last four miles praying for my favorite people.  As soon as I finished running, I typed out my list so I’d remember.  Here’s how it all shook out…

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In the beginning, everything was going well.  The temps were a little bit warmer than idea but not bad, and certainly not like last year!  I love how the first 6 miles loop around through the brewery before coming back into the downtown area.  It also goes through Soulard-where they have the best block party with most of the residents outside in their pjs and drinking coffee while cheering on the runners…I remember liking this so much last year, too!

My feet felt good for the first 5 or so miles.  I had no pain in my toes due to the nerve issue that’s going on or anything else…yet.  2012-04-23_1949stlhalf1

I had to take my first walk break at close to the 6 mile mark.  My toes started to tingle a little bit and I walked for a minute in order to try to give them a little break.

It wasn’t quite enough.

The next few miles were rough mentally as I struggled with some long, slow inclines and the tingling in my feet that was gradually turning into numbness.  I alternated running and walking.
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So how do I describe miles 10-13.1…BRUTAL.  Oh my word.  Don’t ask me how your feet can be numb AND burn so bad at the same time but that’s what was happening!  I mean, wouldn’t you think that if your feet were numb then you wouldn’t be able to feel anything?!  But that was not the case. Sad smile  My feet felt like they were on fire, literally.  Every step was a struggle.  That nerve pain is no.joke.  I remember thinking, “C’mon, Erica, you can gut this out.  You’re tougher than cancer for goodness sake, you can DO this.  One foot in front of the other.”

Geez, it felt like it took forever.

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And to top it off, the course was LONG!!  And not just a little bit, but like .21 mile long!  Do you know how long that little bit extra feels like when you’re looking for the finish line at 13.1 and it doesn’t come until 13.31?!  Oh man. 

BUT, I did it, and I lived to tell about it.  Barely. Winking smile

When I finished, I felt like I could barely walk.  And after finding Jack at the finish area, I promptly told him…”I’m never doing that again.”  HA!  Well we all know how long THAT lasted…I’m running another half this weekend in Nashville.  *heehee*

My official times:

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I was VERY happy to be finished!

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Something funny…on the way home I was reading the paper and this ad caught my eye:
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Can’t imagine WHY, can you?! 

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So, at the end of the day, my fourth half marathon is in the books. 

I spent some good quality time praying for and thinking about the things that mean the most to me.

And I reminded myself that stronger …and so are you. Red heart

Love you guys.

Remember to check your ta~tas, ladies.  You could save your own life.

xoxo