Friday, January 29, 2016

The 2016 Louisiana Marathon Recap

Part One: The Trip and Expo

Sunday was the day. The day I would line up for my fifth marathon. Was I 100%, no. I couldn't even pretend I was 90%. Let's give it a solid 80%. I told myself I would give it my best shot. Most of my right foot is covered in KT Tape and since this strange thing with my toe is so new, I really didn't know what to expect. 

Notice the outfit? I was doing the deja vu challenge. Same outfit as the 5k but in a different color!

Joe and I drove downtown and got a pretty awesome parking spot about two blocks from the start. It was about 39 degrees and really breezy so we could stay in the car a little longer. Our friends would meet us down there later. When we finally left the car we stopped at the port-a-potties, with no wait, and met Kathleen for a little. I was so nice to see a familiar face. 

We checked our bag and all of a sudden it was time to get in the corral! This is all happening too fast. I don't have time to second guess my choice. I lined up with the four hour pace team. One of my Twitter friends, Joe, had said he was leading the pace team. I got to chat with him before we started and was honest with him, I was hurting. I told him I was going to give it my best shot. He said he would evenly pace and the course would be perfect.

Alright, here we go! 

The first mile and a half were not as congested as the day before. I was not worried about staying with the pacers because I knew once everything spread out I would be able to keep pace. I'm chatting with the people around me, taking in the course and feeling pretty good. I think it was around mile three that all of my plans for the race changed. 

It was the first water stop and all of a sudden the pacers were gone. They stopped at the water stop. That was fine since I could see the 2:00 half pacer ahead of me. No problem. Well, I heard someone to my right yell "Hi Steff!" I looked at it was Mark. Instantly my race plan changed. Mark had been working so hard and I wanted to help him with his first half marathon. That is now the plan. 

Around mile four we made it to LSU's campus. Right by where all the Greek houses were. I looked over and saw cops break down a door and storm the house. Legit, happened in the middle of the race! 

Mile 1: 9:02  Mile 2: 8:39  Mile 3: 8:48  Mile 4: 8:50  Mile 5: 8:54  Mile 6: 8:42

LSU's campus is beautiful. We ran around the stadium, near Mike and back out. The area we were around was called the lakes. Just a bunch of different lakes surrounded by huge homes and curvy streets. For instance, my watch was on solid through the first 10k, after mile seven I was off by .2. It is also very breezy around the lakes. 

Mark and I are still chatting. He keeps asking me "how's your pace looking" and I told him not to worry, I would make sure he stays consistent. His family was out on the course and I told him we would find them. Sure enough, I spotted his wife and two kids first. I ran ahead and let them have that moment. He needed it and I'm so happy he could have it. 

This was the best picture of us. Mark is in the blue with the hat. You can see my green arm...

Around mile eight was a Team In Training cheer station. This would normally not be anything weird or noteworthy to me, but today it was. My sweet friend Lauren texted me the night before the race and said she would be taking every step with me during the race. The last time we raced together she was running for TnT. I got a little emotional and screamed "GO TEAM" at the top of my lungs. The only way Lauren would have it. 

Out of the lakes we headed up a road we ran before. I hoped for some relief from the breeze, but that would not be the case. I remember hitting mile nine and telling Mark he really was almost done! I knew the split was around mile 10 and I needed him to believe that he could do it. 

When the split did come we said a quick goodbye and that I would see him in a few hours. I'm feeling pretty good at this point. Chatting with him really helped me to forget about how much pain I was in. 

Mile 7: 8:44  Mile 8: 8:44  Mile 9: 8:40  Mile 10: 8:46  Mile 11: 8:44  Mile 12: 8:52  Mile 13: 9:38

13.1 miles - 1:58. 

I made a potty stop right after the half split and that is when I first noticed my foot pain creeping. I shook it off and tried to hold my pace. I had a man come up to me and asked if I got dressed in the dark because I was wearing two different colored socks. Sir had to be educated on the #TwoPairDontCare right there. 

Mile 14 came quickly. There is the first time I had seen the pace team. It was an out and back street and I saw them coming. I knew I was slowing down but I didn't realize how much. I felt steady and consistent. Boy was I wrong. Joe met up with me and insisted we take a mile 14 selfie, because the only thing better is a finish line one. I told him I would see him there. 

Mile 17 is when the pain became unbearable. I noticed on the second half of the course there was a water stop every mile about 200 yards ahead of the mile marker. I would run to the water stop then walk through the water stop. To be honest, I'm super surprised I didn't walk the last nine miles all together. I kept trucking away. The volunteers were fantastic, the people of Baton Rouge were out cheering us on, and the miles just kept clicking by. 

I think is was close to mile 20 when I had a realization, this distance didn't feel so long. I understand that a marathon is always 26.2 miles, and I know I haven't had the race I expected but the distance didn't seem so intimidating. I had a 10k left. Alright, let's do it!

Mile 14: 9:20   Mile 15: 9:45  Mile 16: 10:25  Mile 17: 10:26  Mile 18: 11:01  Mile 19: 12:13 (potty break)  Mile 12: 12:09

So I'm staying consistent with my new race plan. Run to the water stop, walk through the water stop and keep going. Let's also add have some fun in the final 10k. It's time for beer, snacks, high fives and celebrations! I took my first beer stop from a pick up truck around mile 21. Then some candy from a little girl at mile 22. That was about the same time I got passed by the 4:15 pacer. I was thrilled. My PR is 4:14 and that I held my pace within four miles of the finish made me really happy. 

Oh yeah, back to what I ate! Mile 23 was another beer. I ran out of the pretzels I brought with me around this time, but with a 5k to go, I knew I would be fine. Mile 24 I had a doughnut and some gummy worms and washed it down with a beer. It was also around this point where I recognized where we were. I was already here!! This was the half/full split. There was a group of people with a Ric Flair for President signs. Being the huge wrestling fan I am, I let out a huge WOOOOOOOO! 

Mile 21: 12:35  Mile 22: 12:03  Mile 23: 12:25  Mile 24: 12:37

It was very soon after this that the lightbulb went on. That overpass. Crap. Besides my foot killing me, my quads both hurt in a very small spot. Hips feel great, so this "hill" shouldn't be that bad. I can see the mile 25 marker on top of the overpass so I decided to take my walk break right before my ascend. There is a man next to me talking himself up this hill "you can do it, push through, almost here". This "hill" ended up being fine. I had no issues and I was excited to be going down. 

Right after the down I took my final walk break. I wanted to run the final mile or so. The crowd has started to grow and I know where I am. It's almost done and I don't feel like I've been running for over four hours at all. 

I made the turn back towards the finish line, which was about a half a mile away. I can see the finish line! 

I know this journey is almost finished. I honestly hate being able to see the finish line at the end of a marathon. It didn't seem like I was getting any closer! 

As the finish line gets closer, I'm completely overwhelmed. I had friends screaming on each side of the finish line! I felt like the queen of the parade!

I also knew I would be VERY close to beating my Pittsburgh Marathon time, which was my first sub-4 attempt. I crossed the finish line and checked my time. 4:29:22! I beat my Pittsburgh time by 23 seconds and good enough for my second best marathon! Not only that, I finished over an hour faster than NOLA and crossed the line of my fifth marathon!

I hugged the lady that gave me my medal and moved through the finish shoot. All of a sudden I see pacer Joe. I almost started to cry. He said "I told you finish line selfies are the best". I couldn't believe he was there and I was so grateful!

I found my friends. Mark crushed his first half with a sub-2 finish (told you it would happen) and Joe set an over 40 minute half PR with a 2:21! I was so excited for him!

We ended up scoring free VIP passes, which included a massage! I told the nice lady where my quads hurt and she was incredibly focused on my IT Band. It was amazing. Plus there was tons of food and beverages. It was a great cap to a wonderful race weekend! 

I ended up finishing in the top half of my age group and overall which is a first for me in a marathon. Even though it wasn't the race I had hoped for, I'm so proud of myself for this race. I proved a lot to myself, and came to some realizations. 

1. I am not built to run marathons. I like the challenge of a marathon, but my execution of them are pretty terrible. 

2. I am not going to try to break four hours anymore. I can't keep getting hurt trying to achieve something that just isn't going to happen. I'm a shorter distance runner, fact. So after my next full, in September, I am retiring from the marathon distance for a while. 

3. I am so lucky to have some of the greatest friends. The amount of love and support I had been given in the days leading up to the race is more than I could have ever imagined. I have grown so much from my first marathon, and it's all because of the people I associate with. 

I cannot express how much I enjoyed this race. There were no bands or entertainment along the course, and it wasn't needed. The community really came out and the scenery was beautiful. The race social media was very informative and helpful. Plus, that finishers festival was completely worth it! I need to go back and run the half someday. This race should be on your race list for sure, you will not regret it!

Official Finish:
Time: 4:29:22
Pace: 10:17
Overall: 580 out of 1138
Female: 221 out of 550
Age Group: 30 out of 64


  1. Awesome job! I know what you mean about short distance running. I keep trying to stick to short distances but always end up doing several halfs! And I'm injury prone too. Hope your foot feels better soon!

  2. I'm so glad that you didn't let your hurt foot and your goal slipping away ruin your race. Sounds like the perfect Louisiana marathon- just a big party! Great job Steff and I can't wait to see what challenge you pick next :)

    1. Thanks Gretchen! I was happy that I was in the right mindset the whole weekend. The goal was a finish and that's what I did!

  3. Great recap, Steffany! Thanks for sharing! Louisiana Marathon is on my list to run ;) Congrats on your PR!

  4. So awesome Steff! I love reading your recaps. Distance running is definitely hard and you always make the most of it! Great job :)

  5. Great recap! I don't think that I am built for marathons either. I enjoy the half so much more anyways. I would like to go back to doing shorter races as well.