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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gulf Coast Half Marathon Mandeville 2015 Recap!

Be sure to read all about packet pickup and the day before the race!

My alarm went off at 4:45AM on race morning! I had slept pretty well but woke up several times so excited! So when the alarm went off I was ready to get up!

We all got dressed pretty fast. I was super happy that there was a microwave in the hotel room so I could eat my oatmeal. Then we headed out to a nearby hotel to meet the rest of our Sole2Soul Sisters.

Since this race is in a state park and there is only one entrance and exit you need to be there extra early to not get caught in traffic. We made it in plenty of time and found a pretty close parking spot. Another bonus...we were parked near a building that had a bathroom! A brick and mortar bathroom before a race??? That's luxury!!! I so enjoyed not waiting in line for a porta potty lol!

We had a few minutes to spare so we all hopped back into the car for warmth. The temperature was 51° and it was windy! That's perfect for running but not so great for standing around waiting on a race to start....BRRRR! Paige thought we were hilarious all bundled up in the backseat of the car lol!

Before long it was 6:40AM...which meant it was time to meet everyone at the start line for pictures and prayer. And...I had to find Jenny!

Luckily this race isn't huge and she found me super quick! We lined up for pictures but I'm disappointed in how they turned out. The lighting just wasn't good since it was barely daylight.

We said a prayer and then we had about 10 minutes before the start. Jenny had to use the restroom so I joined her in the porta potty line. Luckily it didn't take long.

I was so ready to run!

We headed to line up at the start line and who did I see? Karen!!!! I had to rub her cute little baby bump!!! And then we had to have a picture of course!

We got to the start line corral and it was packed! This race doesn't have actual corrals but you can line up by pace times. We wanted to be in between the 8:00 and 9:00 pace signs. I did NOT want to be stuck in the back like I was last year so we made a train and I squeezed us up to where we needed to be. No one seemed too aggravated by us. But even if they were I didn't care lol! It's better than having to weave in and out of people when running.

A quick start line corral picture!!!

My goals for this race were to finish under 2 hours. Jenny wanted to beat her previous PR of 1:59:57. I knew we could do that. But I wasn't sure we would beat my PR of 1:54:43. But Jenny had faith that we would.

Before we knew it it was go time!!! We started exactly where we needed to in the corral. We didn't have to do a whole lot of weaving around people and that was so nice! Jenny's husband Eric ran with us at the beginning. He's been nursing a calf strain injury and was unsure how this race was gonna be for him. So it was Eric, Jenny, and me all together for about the first 4 miles. I was feeling pretty good. The weather was perfect! Eric went ahead while Jenny and I stopped for our first water stop. We drank quickly and before long we had made it to mile 5 and one of my favorite parts of the course...running along Lake Pontchartrain! I love running by the water and seeing all the beautiful houses!

Jenny and I were keeping about an 8:30 pace. We both felt good although Jenny's leg (where her injury was) was tight but not hurting.

Mile 6 we turned into a neighborhood. I remembered that we would turn into the neighborhood, turn onto the main road and then turn around and reenter the neighborhood. I was hoping to spot some Sole2Soul Sisters here. I saw Laura but she was the only one I saw.

During this neighborhood we saw the funniest water stop too! All these guys were dressed in nothing but red speedos handing out water! I was laughing so hard! Jenny was covering her eyes as we ran by lol!

Sometime during this neighborhood I also noticed that my right calf had a really tired feeling. It wasn't pain. It just seemed tired. I prayed it wasn't anything serious and kept running. I did remember that I forgot to roll my legs with my stick before leaving the hotel. I had a feeling that was why it was doing this.

Around mile 8.5 we reached Varsity Sports where we picked up our race packet. In the years past they have always done a super fun water stop. But not this year. It was quiet as can be when we ran by. I was a little disappointed.

Finally around mile 9.5 we reached the bike path that would lead us back into the state park and to the finish! This part of the race is always tough for me. There isn't a lot to see but trees on each side of you. And you know you are so close but it seems so far away.

We were both so quiet at this point in the race. I will admit that I was struggling big time. I was so ready to be done. My legs were so tired. But I wouldn't let myself stop. I wouldn't let myself quit. It was on this bike path that I told Jenny I needed some music.

I turned on the song that I first heard at the Unique Conference the weekend before. It's called "No Longer Slaves." I told Jenny it was going to be on repeat and she said that was fine with her. The lyrics really helped me focus on something other than the run.

"I'm no longer a slave to fear 

I am a child of God 

You split the sea, so I could walk right through it 

All my fears were drowned in perfect love 

You rescued me, so I could stand and sing 

I am a child of God"

Finally we turned right off the bike path and into the state park. It was around mile 11.5. We were so close! At this point I looked at my Garmin and was a little in awe. I told Jenny, "We are going to do this girl. We are going to beat not just her PR but MY PR!" We were going to blow Jenny's PR out of the water! We just had to keep going and keep maintaining that pace. 

We reached the mile 12 sign. I kept thinking..."less than 9 minutes and you will be done." That last mile was HARD! But finally we made that left curve and I could see the finish line! 

Thanks to Jenny's husband Eric (who ran the half in 1:46 and with minimal pain...yay!!!) for this picture of us perfectly in step with each other about to cross the finish line!!!

I heard the race director Mike call out my name..."Mindy...Road Runner Girl!" And then we crossed the line!!! We finished in 1:52:31!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is over a 2 minute PR for me and a 7 minute PR for Jenny!!! Happy tears!!!!

The race director Mike also took a moment right after we crossed the line to announce that I had just reached day 500 of my run streak! So awesome!!! Thanks so much for that Mike!!! 

Thanks to my Sole2Soul Sister Heather for these finish line pics!!!

We grabbed our medals and hugged and cried! We had done it!!!! It was almost unbelievable to me!!!

Jenny's husband Eric met us at the end of the finisher's chute. And then we saw our friends Gina (who PRed with a 1:47 AND placed 1st in her age group!!!), Kristy, and Beth. We took some finisher pictures!

Then we headed to the after party for some food and celebration! They had red beans and rice, sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and the most amazing hamburgers! Yum! There was a live band playing too! SO fun!

Can you see the excitement on my face???!!!


One of my favorite things about races is seeing my blogger friends....and meeting new ones! I saw Karen at the start line. And then I saw Jen at the after party!!! She had a great race as well! And it was so good to see her again!!!

I also got to meet Debra!!! It was so great to meet her!!! And she ran a PR as well!!!

Then we headed to find the race director Mike. He is seriously the best race director ever! I had to tell him thank you for the shout out at the finish line. And also share my PR!!!

Pretty soon we found more of our Sole2Soul Sisters. Including my Paigey! She's done this race with me every year!

And here are the best roomies ever!!! Susanne, Donna, me, and Paige!!! I always have so much fun with these precious ladies!!!

We talked for a little while longer and then it was time to head back to the car. We were all ready for a shower! And for some food!!!

Luckily our hotel gave us a late checkout of 1:00 so we were all able to take showers for the ride home. But first we stopped and ate at Zea's Rotisserie Grill. We eat here every year after this race and it never disappoints!

After lunch we stopped by Starbucks for a coffee for the road. I discovered when I was ordering that the barista's name was Mindy too!!! I don't meet too many Mindy's so I told her we HAD to take a selfie lol!

I was craving hot coffee so I got my new favorite...Toasted Graham Latte. I earned that Venti size!

The ride home was fun as always! The weekend definitely went by fast! But I was ready to see my prince and little men! I had missed them!!!

I am still in awe over my new PR!!! This was another great race in Mandeville! And I will definitely be back again next year!!!

Oh and just so you don't forget.....1:52:31!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

QOTD: Do you have a race that you run every year?



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