Are You Spartan Tough?

As you know I am marathon crazy.  I have not done many other races because I am trying to get to my goal of a marathon in all 50 states.  However, the trend of themed and obstacle running events does get me excited.  I participated in an obstacle race a few years ago and had a blast.  It was like getting to be a kid for the day.  Plus, the kids thought mom playing in the mud was pretty cool.

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Have you done one of these races?  I would love to hear your experiences. If not, check this out and see what you are missing.

 

If you would like to try one, the wonderful people of Spartan are very generous and offering a discount to all of my Miles For A Cure readers.  All you have to do is click this link and you can register with a 15% discount.

 http://bit.ly/spartanwarrior

Or would you like to WIN a FREE entry?

Click the link below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Now check out these great new shoes from Reebok made just for you Spartans.

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Back to Back Marathon Weekend – Mississippi & Alabama

This weekend my friend Tina and I met up to acquire two more states to reach our 50 states marathon goal.  We began the weekend in Jackson, Mississippi.  This was a good but hard race.

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I have come to love smaller races since you do not have to arrive so early.  The race began after, “The Star Spangled Banner” was played on an electric guitar. Some of the things we loved about the Mississippi Blues Marathon were , the hospitality, the music and the medal.  The hospitality was very close to that of Little Rock.  Everyone was so welcoming.  Every person you passed said, “Welcome to Jackson” and “Thank you for coming to our city.”

The music was great except being a, “back of the packer” most of the music areas closed before we got there.  I think if you host a 7 hour marathon their needs to be something for everyone within the time limit to enjoy.

The hardest part about the run were the HILLS.  They were brutal, at least for those of us from Houston and Orlando. The roads were also very bad.  You had to watch your step all of the time.

Here are a few of the other highlights.

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I met Jim and Larry.  Jim, in red, was the first North American to run 1,000 marathons and Larry was the second.  I felt like I was among marathon royalty.

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The state capitol.

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The finish line.

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And did I mention the awesome medal?

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The second marathon for the weekend was the First Light Marathon in Mobile, Alabama.

When we arrived at packet pick up we were given a shirt for back-to-back marathons as well as a plaque for doing both.  The plaque was made by special needs residents at  the community of L’Arche Mobile.  We were late for the spaghetti dinner but I think that was good since there were quite a few with tummy troubles the next day.  Not fun for a marathon.

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The race had plenty of water stops and even had cold water.  They also had oranges which is a huge bonus and they did not run out.  The roads were much better than those in Jackson but that was it.  There were minimal volunteers and most were teens on their phones.  There were only a handful of spectators and the course was not exactly scenic. But here is a picture from one of the pretty streets.

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We were not quite sure what this said in this yard.  It made for an “interesting” yard decoration.

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We then ran through a University and I assume this was their mascot.  See I am not just slow I like to take pictures too.

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The most frustrating part of the race was in the last third of a mile.  They opened up a fun run that merged with the marathoners.  I am all for fun runs and encouraging kids to run, but when you are finishing up 50+ miles you feel “fragile” shall we say.  It was difficult to get through the crowd and I was afraid of being tripped.  I wish there would have been a divider to separate the two groups.

The medal was also made by the community members at L’Arche Mobile.

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So for recommendations.  I would definitely recommend Jackson as long as you train for hills, but Mobile was one of my least favorites of the now 18 I have done.

Overall is was a fantastic weekend.

Happy Running!

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Columbia Gorge Marathon

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My marathon journey continues to my 10th state, Oregon.  The only word to describe the Columbia Gorge Marathon is BEAUTIFUL.  Every mile was breathtaking.  It was certainly not my easiest marathon but the beauty distracted me enough to not care.  I think the pictures can say more than words…

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See the rainbow.  This was mile 5.  We had absolutely gorgeous weather until mile 13 when the wind picked up.

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This did not turn out well but it was graffiti that had been carved into the rock back in the early 1900’s when there was a snow storm and people were trapped in the tunnel.

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Miles 20-24 it rained.

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For anyone who might be considering this marathon you have got to do it.  It has an early start for those needing more time, and there was plenty of food, beverages and port-a-potties along the route.  At the end they even served a full meal and hot apple cider.  Great course. Great people. Lots of Fun!

What an Honor

In my last post I wrote about the End of the World marathon.  Well I am by no means fast, or as John Bingham says, “I am getting my moneys worth out of the experience.”  Well the second day of the race I was so close to quitting.  My body hurt everywhere and I had an extremely swollen achilles tendon.  If you have never experienced that, It hurts!

Well needless to say I was neck and neck for last place, or as my kids call said, I was next years winner.  I will go with that.  But in the back I had the honor of meeting an amazing man. We talked about his favorite races and he gave me tips on ones to take the kids to.  I noticed he had on a 50 states club shirt so I asked him how many marathons he had completed.  I had guessed around 100, but his response was 677!  Can you imagine 677 marathons. Thats 17,737 miles just at races, not training.

So as disappointed as I was to be so close to the back I could not have chosen a more amazing person to finish with.

My new friend Gene.

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The End of The World

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I have not yet finished blogging my different marathons.  I need to get on it since I have another one coming up next week.  I love when I get comments and emails from you saying that the posts have helped you decide which runs to do.  I just love hearing from you all.

I have now done 13 marathons and I know I say that each were my favorite, but this one was really unique.  On December 21, 2012 I did, “The End of The World Marathon” and then the following day I did, “The Day After The End of The World Marathon.”  The races took place in Humble, Tx.  There was not much that was special about the location.  It was basically a plowed field with course markers. But what made it awesome was the husband and wife team that put it together.  They were amazing.  I would do any race this couple put on.  Here are a few of the course markers that were put out.

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A view of the trail.

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Not too many places do you get to run by where they are drilling for oil.

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Most runners will admit that we are in it for the bling.  This race not only had the bling but it had great swag.  For each day we got a duffle bag, a shirt, a hat, a medal and a squeeze toy.  The toy is just something this group likes to do.  One was a Easter Island head and the other was a smiley face.

The shirts

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The BLING!!

From day 1

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From Day 2

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And a coin for doing both days.

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Just a few more random pics…

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A Bald Eagles Nest

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Happy Running

Pontypoole Challenge Day 1

As you read in the previous post the Pembroke Coastal Challenge did not go as planned (cliffs, 45 mph wind gusts, hail and mud).  So Tina and I chose to make out own challenge.  We called this the Pontypoole Challenge.  I do have to say it was a lot more fun.

Sam, my husband, dropped us off at the canal close to where we were staying.  We knew the canal was roughly 45 miles long so he just said for us to call when we were done.  Here are just a few pictures of what we saw along the canal.

Sunrise over the canal.

The beautiful fall leaves.

Tina on one of our detours from the trail to see the little water falls.

Sheep, Sheep and more Sheep.

The canal boats.

Next time I am there I want to take a ride in one of these.  However, this time we got to assist in a dog rescue using the boats.

 

Our Finish

 

 

One of the best parts about the UK is that everything ends in the pub.

It made for a great after run meal.

Pembroke Coastal Challenge 2012

The Pembroke Coastal Challenge consists of three marathons in three days where you run along the Pembroke Coastal Trail. This is an absolutely beutiful area of the world and definitely a place worth putting on your bucket list. However, training in Houston, Texas could not prepare me for what was required. I looked up YouTube videos of the race to see the different terrains. I saw gravel so I ran many miles on gravel. I also saw lots of dirt trails, so I trained on dirt trails. But what we came across was mud! Not just regular mud but ankle deep mud. Those in the challenge that live in the Pembroke area were flying across the stuff. As for Tina and I, it slowed us down considerably. While trudging through the mud I fell not once but three times. The first time I just got agitated, the second time I twisted my ankle and fell face first in the most awesome grass ever. I just laid there for a while having an emotional moment, but felt I better get up before Tina found me laying there and panicked. The third time however, after I fell I heard some stomping and looked up to find five cows staring down at me. One warning given to us before the challenge began was the cliffs.  It was mentioned that 5 people had died by slipping off the cliffs from 1981 – 1996.  I did not want to be the next statistic.  My concern was not the closeness to the cliff as it was the closeness combined with the slippery mud. I completed 20 miles and had to make the decision that I should not continue the challenge.  It is the first time I have not completed a race I have started, but with conditions I was just not prepared for I had to listen to that gut feeling that says to stop.  So I did.  I am very disapointed but I know I did what was best for me.  Below are some more pictures of this fabulous coast.

 

Even though I did not finish it was an experience I will never forget.  I have never run through cow pastures, flocks of sheep or among horses.  If you are someone considering this race and you are from a flatland area I would suggest you really think about how you can train for such an event.  If you are already one of these crazy mountain runners then this would be an amazing race for you.  The staff were wonderful and very concerned for the welfare of each participant.

This Ones For You Dad

Today is the two year anniversary of my Dad’s death. I have decided each year to do something fun on that date. I know he would rather me do that than sit around crying all day. Last year Sam took me to an Orlando Magics Game. It was so much fun and something my Dad would have hated. So it made it where I was not sitting their having a pitty party.

This year, I get to do something he would have loved, but now two years later I am able to enjoy these things as if he were with me. Well first of all Sam is taking me to a George Strait concert!! I know you Floridians here in Orlando probably don’t think that is that awesome, but for those of you in Texas you understand.

But this morning I got to do something really awesome, well for me at least. I got to run a half marathon with three wonderful friends. But the best part is that it was at a place I had wanted to take my Dad when he came here to visit, a place he would have loved to go bird watching.

The girls and I went out to Christmas, Florida and ran the Orlando Extreme Half Marathon. It was our first off road race and I can’t wait to do another. It was held at the Orlando Wetlands Park. It is sad we only live a couple miles from a place so beautiful and never knew it was there. So here are a few pictures of our race.

Tina, Taylor, Betsy and I pre race.

This should have been our first warning.

I don’t think I have ever said a race was peaceful, but this one was. Their was only 160 runners and being spaced out you could hear all that was around you. However, I did learn that alligators make an oinking noise, who knew.

Look close. Yes that is a 9 foot alligator. And Yes it got me moving.

Just have to show off our medals by the Alligator warning sign.

And Here we are with our Bling!

The joy of doing a race this small is that the four of us all placed in the top 9 for our age divisions. Go Girls!

I just have to say THANK YOU to my amazing friends who have walked this journey with me. As my sweet friend said, “I will never walk alone.” Thanks Guys. I love You.

Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic

This has to have been one of my favorite all time events.  The Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic offers two distances, 50K (31 miles) and 50 miles.  Since this was my first event to go further than the 26.2 marathon distance, I opted to go for the 50K.  I know many will find this hard to believe but it was 7 hours of fun.  I absolutely loved it.

The run was held at the beautiful Wakulla Springs State Park.  The course was a 10k loop that I had to do five times.  At first I felt this would be difficult, seeing the same thing, knowing how many more times I had to do the loop, etc.  I usually do not want to see the finish line until I am finished.  But I have to say it made the race all that better.

Each participant could set up their own aid station.  So for a good 100 yards you saw areas set up with various supplies.  It was so nice not to have to bring everything you need along the way.  It was also nice in that you can have extra clothes and shoes ready.  By the time I got to the last loop I needed to change shoes.  My feet just needed to hit shoes in different areas.

Another participants aid station.

I have to admit it made me feel like I was part of Nascar.  Sam set up my aid station in the trunk of his car.  So each time I came around he had water bottles filled and food ready.  As I stopped to stretch he was changing the supplies out of my belt.

Along with our personal stations the race crew also had two stations set up.  Unlike most marathons where you have water, Gatorade and one stop with a gel of some sort, the ultra provided a buffet.  At the stations you could find potatoes cut up that you dipped in salt (I have to say this was my favorite, salt never tasted so good), bananas, oranges, m&m’s, chips, cookies, pb&j and so much more.  Other than the potatoes I think the Ibuprofen was the best part of the buffet.

Of course every run is about the bling.  My friends and I will decide sometimes which race to do based on the bling.  Many ultras do not offer bling and many times only the winner gets something and it is usually a belt buckle.  I was very happy to know I was getting a finisher award of some kind and I loved it.  The race crew had a local pottery studio make medals from ceramic, and we got a long sleeve running shirt.

In other races the spectators often are the ones that help you get through.  In the ultra the only spectators were the participants support crews.  However, the camaraderie among the runners was amazing.  The way the course was set up it allowed runners to pass by each other numerous times, so as we passed each other everyone offered incredible support to one another.  One of my favorite parts about the course support were the signs.

Above everything else about the event, the best part were the special people that made donations. I was able to raise over $2500.00 for Farm Sanctuary. Running for a purpose always helps get you through. Thank you so much for those of you who supported me with donations, prayers and encouragement.  And you know I have to throw this in, that it is not too late to contribute.  Tax deductible donations can be made to Farm Sanctuary through the following link.

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/milesforacure/tallahasseeultramarathon

The atmosphere of the ultra is totally different from other distances.  It is so laid back.  The entire experience was great.

Would I do this race again? Absolutely

Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon

This was my second year doing the Space Coast event, the oldest marathon in Florida.  Last year I did the half marathon and this year I did the full marathon.  I had made a pact with myself to not do the same race twice, but I was persuaded by the medal and friends.  Plus I needed another training run for the insane run of 31 miles I plan to do in ten days.  My nerves go crazy just thinking about it.

Here’s the crew.

On the course we were known as the Pink Ladies.  Now let me clarify, these are NOT socks.  These are compression sleeves.  They are amazing and really help your legs while running.

This was last years medal I received for doing the half.

Are you ready to see this years medal?  It is awesome.

See why I had to do it again?

Space coast is great in that you not only get a dri-fit shirt but you also get a beach towel at the finish line.

The race overall is smaller in comparison to some of the larger races like those in the Rock N Roll  series, but it is nice to go back and forth, and do different types of runs.

This run is much like Grandma’s marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.  The entire race runs along the water.  The Space Coast marathon begins in the City of Cocoa and then runs along the Indian River.

The expo is on the small side but is at Kennedy Space Center.  I have not been able to attend the pasta dinner they offer, although I would have liked to.  The dinner is held under a Saturn V rocket.  This year the speaker was Katherine Switzer.  She was the first woman to run the Boston marathon.

The only thing lacking on the course were more spectators.  Between miles 17 to 26 you want spectators.  The energy they provide is sometimes all you need to keep going.  I did like that each water stop was a space theme.  One stop all the volunteers were dressed as Space Balls characters, remember them? And my favorite of course was the TNT stop where they were all dressed as Buzz Lightyear.

Overall, Great Race.  Thank You Running Zone.