Race Report: 2014 Shamrockin’ Run

On March 16, I ran the Shamrockin’ Run 8k race for the second time. I didn’t write about last year’s race, apparently, but what I remember of it is that a) I ran almost the whole thing, except one short port-a-potty break and b) I ran with Heather. I had to look up my time, and it was 58:47. Since it’s almost 5 miles, that’s a tiny bit faster than 12 minute miles. Hmmm.

Coming on the race this year, I had one goal, and that was to run the whole thing without any breaks at all. And to finish in under 55 minutes.

I was excited about this year’s race because not only was Heather going to run again, but also a bunch of other friends. Fun, right? Well, some friends ended up going out of town, and then the weather forecast was terrible so they ended up pushing the race back and hour, so Heather couldn’t make it. So it was just me and Maggie.

It was a little drizzly when we went to pick up our numbers, but in spite of dire forecasts, it only sprinkled a few times throughout the race. I wish more races were overcast and sprinkly.

There’s not much to say about the race except that I started off at a comfortable pace (which ended up being almost exactly 11 minutes/mile) and basically kept at it for the next 4.97 miles. Not to say it was easy. At the end, it took some real willpower to not stop. It wasn’t as cool as I’d hoped, and I was getting overheated.

When I’m running and I want to stop, I try to evaluate why I want to stop. Legs felt fine. Lungs felt fine. But I was just hot. Ugh.

I didn’t have a watch on me, I just had my phone tracking my time, so I didn’t really know what my time near the end was looking like. I certainly wasn’t going to waste energy pulling my phone out of my pack and looking at it, so I just had to hope that my pace was still on track. Since I started my tracking app a minute or so before the start of the race, it wasn’t going to be totally accurate anyway.

So I gave it my all in the last 100 yards or so (though at this stage I was so focused on not stopping that I barely even noticed the 610 Stompers dancing at the finish line) and went to find Maggie, who finished a few minutes before me.

Checked my results on my phone (ain’t technology great?) and I finished in…

 

54:58! Just made it in under the wire! Woo hoo!

Next year…52 minutes?

Race Report: Crescent City Fall Classic 5K

The last 5k I did was the CCFC last year, and this year, I was determined to beat my time. If you recall, I came within seconds of beating my PR last year, and I was not going to let it slip from my grasp again. Not that I’d done much training, but in the week prior, I’d run two miles in under 20 minutes twice (yes, practically faster than the speed of sound I am) so I thought I had a chance.

I kept an eye on the weather all week, since I think last year, the heat was partly to blame for my time (I have to blame something other than myself, of course.) I was pleased to see it was supposed to be cool and cloudy. Perfect running weather!

Much like the half-marathon last month, the weather ended up being picnic-perfect, but a bit sunnier than I’d like for a race. But at least it was cooler than last year. Plus, they changed the route so it seemed to me a bit shadier than last year.

I went to the race with some friends – Chris, Steph, Heather, and Stacy. Chris was going for 28 minutes, and Heather, Stacy, and Steph were not going for a specific time. My real goal was to finish in under 32 minutes. A pretty tall order, considering I only needed to finish in under 32:26 to set a new PR.

As the race started, I cued up the playlist I created, and then spent the first mile dodging walkers and people with strollers. Very frustrating. I wish the race organizers did more to remedy this. Alas.

I wish I knew what my splits were, but turns out the app I chose to use won’t let you look at them? Weird. We’ll see. Anyway, the upshot is…I set a new PR! By a lot!

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After the race, we had bananas and Chee-Wees (best post-race food ever) and tiny Subway sandwiches. I beat these ladies! Woo! Ha ha!
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Now I’m even more determined to run more 5ks and fewer half marathons (as in, no more.) I may do one in December and see if I can…gasp…go even faster?!?

Race Report: 2013 Jazz Half Marathon

My eleventh half-marathon. Why do I continue to do these? I don’t even really like them. I probably say this after every race, but I’m sticking to 5ks from now on.

Anyway, for the week prior to the race, I knew the weather was not going to be ideal for a half-marathon. Ideal for a picnic or a birthday party at the park, but not for running. Not for me. I need cool, cloudy weather. Which is the opposite of what we got.

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Before the race started

 

My plan was to run with my friend Heather, who is ten years younger and probably fifty pounds lighter than me. You see where this is going? We did a 2:1 run:walk and in spite of the weather (I mean, it wasn’t that bad, it was in the 70s) I felt pretty good. We were averaging about 12 minute miles, which was fine, whatever.

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Still alive

 

About a mile after this picture, when we were in the Audubon Park portion of the race, the timer beeped to run again, and I just told Heather to go on without me. She said later I looked very pale. I didn’t even feel all that bad, but I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep going at that pace for another five miles. So she went on ahead (and ran the rest of the way, so I’m glad I didn’t hold her back) and I contemplated having George come get me. But then I decided I would just keep going, and see how it went.

So that’s basically it. I just kept going. I ran some, I walked some. I ate some jelly beans, which I guess helped. I mean, I didn’t die or anything. Ha.

And then I finished. In, shockingly, not my worst time ever. 2:53. And in looking at my history, it’s faster than my first, eleven years ago, that I did when I was training for the London Marathon. So that makes me feel a tiny bit better.

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George and the boys watched me finish, which was great, and I got a rare photo with my boys. And Millie. And Heather’s boyfriend.

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One positive note was that I was not really sore Sunday or today. I am guessing that means I was pretty well trained, legs-wise, just not heat-wise. Although my legs felt really really tired at about mile 12, I definitely still had some life in them. I was just overheated. But still. No more half-marathons. Unless they’re in Alaska or somewhere that’s guaranteed to be cold. Hmmph.

As for the race itself, I was disappointed in a few things. Well, kinda. I was disappointed there were no timing mats on the course. That just seems weird. I really would like to know what my time at the halfway point was, before I lost my shit. And There were no photographers out on the course, but that was more of a relief than anything. Just an observation. But at least there were plenty of water stations, and whatever they were giving out as a sports drink was totally delicious. Yum.

One funny thing happened at the end, a woman came up to me who recognized my sparkly skirt and the boys, because she had read my review of last year’s race the day before. Love that!

You know I love a busy weekend.

And this was a doozy. But a good doozy.

Saturday was the baby shower for my friend Mary Catherine’s third baby, their first boy. (Yeah, yeah, say what you will about third babies and showers, but when it’s a good friend, why shouldn’t you celebrate every baby?) I was one of the hostesses, so I spent the first part of the morning making three dips. I’ll share the recipes because they were all delish.

Admittedly, the third dip (the white bean one) was the least exciting, so I don’t know if I’ll be making it again (even though I did put a sage sprig in the dip just like in the picture.) Maybe I’ll use a different recipe. But the artichokes with goat cheese? A definite winner. I don’t even need to tell you how good the Nutella dip was.

But before the shower, the boys had a playdate. Their first playdate! And with their best friends at school, Anders and Lewis. They’re twins. (Poor Miles doesn’t have an Anders or a Lewis in his class. But he does have a Millie.) We went to their {very very cool} house and the moms hung out while the kids played. It was great, and hopefully just the first of many.

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Little boys wreaking havoc

After we left the playdate, I dropped the boys off at Granny and Grandpa’s, and raced across town to get to the shower in time. Just made it! Whew.

And since Mary Catherine is so very Southern, the shower was adorable and full of cute little touches, mostly thanks to her sister, who is also, of course, very Southern.

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And I’m happy to say that baby Hank made his arrival this morning, safe and sound. I’ll be doing his newborn photos this weekend. Can’t wait!

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Ann Frances is now a big sister!

After the shower, I was pretty wiped out, so I relaxed (child-free!) for the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning, I ran an 8k race. Yes, and I mean, I ran the entire race. I haven’t run more than maybe 4 miles in a row in forever. Maybe less than that! But my friend Heather, who I ran it with, said she wanted to try running the whole way, and I thought, “why not?” The weather was almost perfect for it (cool and cloudy) and it wasn’t THAT far – 4.8 miles. And we did it! I did have to stop for a potty break (darn tiny bladder) but the energy I expended catching back up to Heather was probably more than if I’d just kept running.

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We finished in 58 minutes, woo hoo! I think it’s kind of funny that if I do run/walk, I can go faster (11 minute pace instead of just under 12) but I wasn’t worried about time for this race, just running.

After the race, we went to our friends’ Irish restaurant (where else) for brunch. And then I raced across town (in a car this time) to get the boys for a birthday party. Miles had a cough, so he came home with me while Oliver and Linus partied. (Their first drop-off party!)

I went to take photos of a very pretty triplet family, and then went to the grocery store, blah blah blah who wants to hear about my trip to Sam’s?

And that was our weekend, in a nutshell.

Race Report: 2012 Woman’s Half Marathon

Let me preface this by saying the only training I did for this race was the half-marathon I did in October. Seriously, the only running I’ve done since then was a few laps around a tennis court during boot camp. And even that was before Thanksgiving. So in light of that, I’d say I did pretty darn good!

This race was in Baton Rouge, my hometown. So that meant we had to spend the night in Baton Rouge, and I had to get a decent night’s sleep, which is difficult at my mom’s house. Miles wakes up about 4,501 times per night at my mom’s, just to confirm I’m still there. So that doesn’t make for the most restful slumber, alas. But I managed to snatch a few hours, and got up at 5 am to get ready. (I can’t totally blame Miles for my tortured sleep, though. I also was afraid my new iPhone alarm wouldn’t actually work, so I kept waking up to check the clock. Argh.)

Got up, made a protein shake/energy drink combo (I’ve been doing an Advocare challenge for the past few weeks) and ate a bagel (mmm, carbs) and drove my mom’s car to the start. It took me longer than I’d hoped to get out of the house because my mom’s car is one of those fancy push-button ones and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Yeesh. And then when I got downtown, I couldn’t find the key fob, and it was just v stressful. But I survived. Got to the start. I’ll spare you the details of the start. At least I made it through the port-a-potty line before the race started, unlike at the Jazz Half.

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The start line – a sea of pink

So, okay, the race starts. I had my interval timer set to a 2 minute run: 1 minute walk cycle, and I felt pretty good. One of the great things about this race is that it was small (about 425 runners) and so I didn’t have to weave in and out of people. But it was unseasonably warm. I was very worried about this. Fortunately, the sun never really came out, and that helped tremendously.

I was having a good time. People always love my shirt, and I get lots of fun compliments on it. And since I was running for a family friend who is getting treated for leukemia, I had a sign on my back saying I was running for Laine Z. And a woman passed me and said she went to high school with her! (Or maybe it was her sister, I can’t remember now.) Anyway, it was neat to meet a mutual friend in such a small crowd.

Sometime after the first mile, I decided to try a 3:1 run:walk ratio. Why not? I was feeling good. But {spoiler alert} I probably shouldn’t have done that. I know not to go out too fast, but I reasoned that I’d finished the Jazz Half strong doing a 2:1 the entire time, so why not try to push myself? (Because it was 20 degrees warmer today, that’s why.)

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Along the river at the beginning

At around mile 3, you could decide whether you wanted to do a 10K or a half marathon. I was kind of worried that I would see the 10K turnoff and not be able to resist it. But frankly, I wasn’t even tempted. Whew. And this was my tenth half-marathon, so I wanted to hit that milestone.

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Tiger Stadium, and the turnoff for the 10k/half

So from then on, I ran and ran and ran. And walked, I mean. Ran and walked. We went through the LSU campus (where I spent, ahem, six years – and no, I didn’t go to grad school) and around the lakes. It was a really beautiful course. And there were TONS of water stations. I really appreciated this. I don’t expect more than one station every couple of miles, but I would guess there were at least a dozen stops throughout the race. I didn’t even have to stop at all of them, because they were so plentiful. The support was fantastic.

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My freshman dorm was on the other side of those trees. Memories!

At about mile 7, I started to feel the heat. And probably the consequences of going out too fast in the beginning. And the hills (you laugh, but New Orleans is SO flat that it makes Baton Rouge look positively mountainous.) So I decided to set my timer to about 1:30 run to 1:00 walk. And I continued for a while at this pace. Until I decided, to hell with the timer and turned it off. And just ran when I felt like it (mostly on “downhills”) and walked when I felt like it. I just wanted to finish in under three hours. I knew I wasn’t going to do better than the Jazz Half (2:33), but I was totally fine with that.

And so on I went. I was taking pictures with my iPhone, posting to Facebook, texting my mom to see if they were at the finish line yet, and just having fun. No pressure.

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We ran around the state capital, through some pretty parks and then back to downtown.

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Was SO happy to see this! 1.1 to go!

I was SO happy to get back on River Road, where it was ending. I could see the finish line, and there in the chute was my mom, the boys, and Larry. Woo! Larry recorded me finishing…

Done! And in 2:44:59, my second/third best time! See, after all that walking, I still finished fifteen minutes faster than the one I did in March! Not too shabby.

Afterwards, I got my picture taken, got some snacks for me and the boys, and ran into a few old friends. I was also able to get my results immediately, including my splits from all the chip mats. Very nice!

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All in all, a very good race. Well-organized, great course, fantastic support. I’ll be doing it again next year!

Race Report: Crescent City Fall Classic 5K

Subtitle: “So Close”

I haven’t done a serious 5K in a while. About a year ago, I did one to benefit a friend’s cousin, but I wasn’t running much then, so I don’t even think I kept track of my time. And before that, I don’t think I’d done one since before the boys were born. Maybe even longer ago than that. As much as I love 5Ks, they’re kind of pricey when you’re on a budget, and when the boys were infants, I couldn’t really leave them. So I was happy when there was a Living Social deal for this race, which made it way more affordable.

I had hoped that it would be cool, since it’s, hello, November, but it was in the high 60s when I left the house and only getting warmer. At least there were some clouds in the sky to keep the sun at bay. But not enough.

When I got to City Park, I found the verrrrry long line to pick up my number (there were 400 Living Social entrants and only one person getting them registered. Ugh.) and eventually got it. They had to delay the start of the race by 20 minutes to account for all of the people in line.

I ran into my friend Heather from our neighborhood, and we lined up at the start together, but agreed to do our own thing and meet up at the finish. When we started, she was a few paces ahead of me, and I thought, if I could keep up with her the whole time, I’d be doing well. (She has not only the benefit of youth, but let’s just say a more running-friendly build than I do.) There were a lot of people walking in front of us, so no doubt I lost some time weaving in and out, but it wasn’t too bad.

The first mile was fine, and I finished it in 10:23. Ooh, that’s pretty fast! There was one underpass (read: giant mountain hill) and I figured that wouldn’t be the only one. Mile two was better – completely flat – and I finished it in 10:09. Oooh, negative splits! I was getting pretty hot at this point, but kept going, even through another underpass. When I hit mile three (10:05!) I really thought I might pass out, but I was so close to the end – surely I could get a PR! I couldn’t remember exactly what that PR was – it was very old – but I was thinking it was a bit over 32:30. So when I crossed the finish line at 32:30 on the nose (I crossed the start line at 2:30 and the finish line at 35:00 exactly) I thought I may have shaved a few seconds off my PR. That last tenth of a mile was killer. It was around a track (which was kinda neat – I’ve never run on a track before) but I was giving it everything I had. I mean, I was barely getting enough oxygen in, and I was hot, hot, hot. But as you can see, I was going at practically the speed of sound. Srsly. Look at that…that spike at the end is 7:14 pace! Ha ha!

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Heather was a few seconds behind me, and as agreed, we met up at the Nutella truck. Yes, Nutella truck. Can you imagine? Heavenly. They were giving out slices of french bread with Nutella slathered on. Heavenly.

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When I got back to my car, I looked up my race report from the race I got my PR at back in January 2005 and was saddened to see that my PR was actually 32:26, so I missed it by four stinkin’ seconds. Oh well. I honestly don’t think I could have shaved off four seconds at the end, but that’s okay. This race was undoubtedly hotter and probably more crowded. So I’ll call it even. 🙂

All in all, a good race and hopefully I’ll be able to do more 5Ks soon. I do have another half next month, but after that…5Ks only!

Race Report – 2012 Jazz Half Marathon

I haven’t done a real race report in ages, but this race definitely merited one. As I mentioned in a previous post, my personal best heading into this race was 2:44. I didn’t know if I could beat that – I was nine years younger when I set that time. But I figured, why not try? I thought if the pace I’d maintained during my 9.5 mile training run last weekend was any indication, it would be possible, at least.

But Friday was still so warm – too warm to run fast. And I took the boys to Boo at the Zoo, where my legs got pretty tired. But I got a good night’s sleep that night, and when I was up at 5am on Saturday morning, I felt pretty good. Had some coffee and a little breakfast, and headed to catch the ferry. I was very happy to be hit with a wall of cold air when I opened the door to go outside.

{to keep this from being a solid block of text, here are a few pictures George took of the boys while they waited for me.}
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I took the ferry over and then walked to the race start, where there were a couple thousand people milling about. I had plenty of time before the race started, so I sat on a bench for a little while before getting in the port-a-potty line. I didn’t want to use it, and then have to go again before the race started (I have a tiny bladder, okay?) so I waited a bit. And then once I saw the line, I regretted that immediately. On the bright side, I ran into our friend Dawn in the line, and we chatted for the thirty minutes we had to wait in line. The starting gun went off when there were still several people in front of us in line, but by that point, I was not going to get out of line.

Finally I was done, and then I had to drop my bag off at the gear check, and get my phone all set up. I had a running playlist, an interval timer, and a GPS mapping program going on to track my pace. So by the time I got to the start, the masses were all well into their first or second mile. But that was okay, the only person I was racing was myself. I started my run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute intervals from the start. The interval timer I was using would tell me which interval I was at, and each “set” was 3 minutes, so I knew if I could finish each mile by the end of every fourth interval, I would be doing a better than 12 minute mile, which was all I needed to set a personal best.

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I should mention that the weather was absolutely perfect. I mean, the best running weather I can imagine. (Well, slightly less wind would have been fine, but it wasn’t bad.) It was cool and cloudy. Perfect.

Mile three hits when I was in something like my tenth interval, so I knew I was going much faster than a 12 minute pace. Much faster. Like, an 11 minute pace? (That’s blistering for me!) And I knew if George got to the finish line at 9:45, which was the earliest time I told him, they might miss me. So I sent him a text saying I might finish a bit earlier than expected. Fortunately, since I started six or seven minutes late, that built in a little buffer for me. But still – didn’t want to take any chances.

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A few miles go by, and I’m maintaining my pace. My hamstrings are a little tight, but I feel good. And then I hear my name being called, and I turn around and see an old high school friend, Emily. She was actually doing a 16 mile run that day, using a 3:1 run:walk ratio, but since she wasn’t trying to set any records, she stuck with me at my pace. It was nice to have someone to chat with, it definitely made the miles go by faster! A few times I would go ahead when she had to make a phone call or something, but she caught up. It’s kind of unbelievable how fast the whole race went by. Before we knew it, we were at mile 12 and we passed the guys giving out free shots of whiskeys and beer chasers. A woman running near us took one, while I got heartburn just thinking of it. Emily told me when she went back to do her additional miles, she got her whiskey shot in. Hee!

We turn the corner onto Camp Street, which is where the finish line is. I’m feeling a bit worn out and when my interval timer tells me to walk, I do. But then the finish line is in sight, and I decided to ignore it after that. And then I see the boys, George, Dawn, and Teresa on the sidelines, cheering me on. I was so happy to see them, I just ran faster so I could finish as quickly as possible.

Pointing out the boys to Emily:
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Come on boys, gimme five!
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They were a tad distracted by the Spiderman on the other side of the road:
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Imagine how surprised I was to see 2:34 on the timer when I stopped it. That’s ten minutes faster than the time I set in 2003! I went back to where everyone was standing and got big hugs from my boys. They kept asking if I won, and I said, no. I came in second. Ha!

Me and the boys and my sparkle skirt:
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Later, I checked my official time and it was actually better than I thought…2:33:16! That’s 11 minutes faster than my 2003 time, and a whopping 32 minutes off my official time from the half I did in March!

Overall, just a great race. I felt great, the weather was great, I beat my time…and then seeing the boys at the end was the icing on the cake. So happy!

(And Dawn got fourth in her age group, so she did even better!)

Mardi Gras Half-Marathon Race Report

It’s weird to think that the first one of these I wrote was ten years ago, in the lead up to my first marathon. Which means that was almost ten years ago. And I met George a few days after I got back from London, so it’s been almost ten years since I met him. Crazy.

Anyway, this is going to be in no way as detailed as those race reports, but I do want to make sure I write down some of the details.

My friend Stephanie and her friend from Washington, Allison, were planning to do the race together. Allison was training for a marathon, but promised to stay at our pace. She was training using the Galloway method, which involves running and walking at intervals. She informed us that our intervals would be one minute running, one minute walking. Seemed fair.

The race started at 7 am, but since we were waaaaaay at the back, we didn’t get to the start line until 7:40.

Waiting…(me and Steph)
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Once we got to the start line, we immediately started running for one minute, walking for one minute. It was super easy, even though Steph and I hadn’t run too much during our “long” training run/walks. I had to pee, though, and there weren’t any port-a-potties until mile 2 or so. Tiny bladder strikes again! Once we got to them, we had to wait several minutes in line, but whatever. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Good thing about being in the back of the pack is seeing all the people in costume!
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As you can see, it was a gorgeous day. Well, it would have been gorgeous if I hadn’t been running. It was a tad sunnier than I’d like, and so we did get hot along the way, but it was too lovely to complain much otherwise.

I can’t say too much exciting happened during the race. We chugged along at our 1/1 pace pretty much the entire time. At one point, a woman saw my tank top and said, “Pam? I’m Amy K’s friend…she said to tell you hi!” That was fun. Pretty cool that she found me in a field of 20,000 runners!

I will say that near the end, Steph and I were cursing the woman on Allison’s phone who would tell us when to start running again, but then again, we’d sing her praises when she’d say it was time to walk. We decided that someone needs an app that uses more inspirational voices. Like, say, Ewan McGregor, or Liam Neeson, or similar. Pierce Brosnan telling me I was doing great would be a hell of a lot more motivational than that robotic phone voice.

15K! No idea how many miles that is. 9ish?
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We crossed the finish line officially in 3:04:55, but I know we were in line for the bathroom more than 5 minutes (we stopped twice) so I’m going to go ahead and say I met my goal of finishing in under three hours. Heh.

As I mentioned, my entire reason for signing up for this race was so that the boys could watch me cross the finish line. We even made flags a la car races for them to wave when I crossed. So I was getting pretty excited and emotional as we approached the finish line. Sadly, the combination of tens of thousands of people and three cranky little boys meant we missed each other at the end. But that just means I’ll have to sign up for another race! This time, a smaller, shorter one. 🙂

So happy to be done!
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New PR!

Race this morning – beat my personal best time for the 5K! Previously 33:09, now it’s 32:26, thankyouverymuch. Yay!

Last night we had a yummy steak dinner with Polly and Colin, and then saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I liked it a lot, only not as much as the Royal Tenenbaums.

Tomorrow I’m going to see my baby cousin Sara star in her high school production of Oklahoma. I can’t believe she’s 18 and all grown up! And she can sing. She must’ve gotten that from the other side of the family.