Marathon Recap

I told you in my last post I had a lot to talk about! This isn’t even the last big event that I have on the writing agenda, but I will get there. Since I am still riding my marathon high, I best reflect. The Saturday before last, I ran my third marathon, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I had run the half here once before, so I had an idea of what to expect. If you have never run this race, I highly recommend it. The course takes you right through St. Jude’s campus and there is nothing like it. I’d like to meet the person who can run this mile of the course and not get all the feels. They’d have to be made of stone. If you haven’t run this race, you should add it to your bucket list. All the proceeds go to St. Jude, which everyone knows is fantastic organization.

Back to the marathon walk through. As this is my third marathon, I feel I had learned some lessons from before and had my pre-race prep down. For example, I have a terrible nervous stomach and in past marathon’s I would do the typical carbo-load of night before spaghetti, but not this time. This time I made a simple meal my family eats on the regular, baked salmon, white rice, and sauteed zucchini and squash. It was easy to digest and a good mix of veggies, carbs, good fats, and protein. I also had a glass of red wine to help calm my nerves so I could get some sleep.

Before bed, I did my pre-race gear check. Here is the list of gear I used for this marathon. I linked to Amazon so you can see exactly what I used but I am not affiliated with any of these brands, but if you buy from the Amazon link I get a slight kick back.

I believe that’s my whole gear list. Some of these products I love and some I are just whatever. I don’t think of myself as a brand loyalist, so some I could interchange. When it comes to choosing what I wear for the marathon I pick out all my favorites and make sure they’re clean for the big day. Maybe one day, I’ll do a “products I’m loving” post.

After gear check, I schedule my Uber and head to bed. It’s marathon day! Although my alarm was set for 5am, I’ve been basically awake since 4:30. Oh, race day jitters! I always start my race morning by washing my face and getting dressed which includes 5 minutes of applying Glide and getting my toes in my shoes just right. Seriously, this toe thing is a process! My breakfast includes a glass of water, coffee with milk, two pieces of toast with almond butter, and a disgusting banana! I HATE bananas! Seriously, I only force myself to eat the terrible things on big race mornings. Once I eat, I fix my water bottle with an electrolyte drink to sip until the start line prior to mixing my race fuel, which was Tailwind Nutrition this go. I used Skratch Labs as my pre-race electrolyte this time. I liked it, but I still prefer Nuun. I also foam rolled until my Uber picked me up.

My brother-in-law was also running the marathon. This was a great treat, because I had a buddy to hang out with, and he also ran with me for most of the race. Got to the race in plenty of time to use the bathroom 3 times. Honestly, I could go to the bathroom as many times as I had time for. I have two complaints about this race. The first is the start line. They didn’t assign corrals, which was a terrible idea. People were all over the place. Seriously, there were people who crossed the start line already walking with the 4-hour pace group! They also didn’t give a map of where the corrals would be from the start line, so you had to backtrack to get to your corral. It was just chaos. Because of this, my first mile was about a minute off my pace. You also start downtown and the streets are narrow, but after the first mile when you turn off Beale Street the crowd starts spread out.

 

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I love pre-race photos. We look so happy and excited!

 

The first 5k winds through downtown and down Riverside Drive. My second complaint is at mile 4 this year they combined us with the 5k. Again, chaos! All of a sudden there was a hoard of people running all sorts of speeds in the middle of the half and full marathons. This again slowed down the pace because you were trying to dodge folks and not get run over at the same time. These simple problems were quickly forgotten at mile 5 when we entered the St Jude campus. During this mile stretch, I ran the whole way with a smiley teary-eyed expression on my face. If you’re not a high-fiver, this is the place to let all that go. These are the greatest high fives you’ll ever get.

Once through the campus, the pack really starts to spread out a bit. It’s here that I remind myself that my plan was to take it easy the first 10 miles and keep track of my hydration and nutrition. This stretch of the marathon heads up the Parkway to Poplar Ave to Midtown, where you will spend the next 22 miles. My brother-in-law said he had to go to the bathroom back at like mile 3, and he kept talking about it but was determined to hold it. Around mile 6 with all the bathroom talk, I started feeling like I needed to go to, Ugh!. At mile 8, we saw a group of porta-potties with no wait so we decided to just go. Oh man, was that a good idea! I felt so much better! Back to running! We saw our family at the Cooper Ave turn onto Madison. Nothing like hugs and cheers to put a smile on your face for the next 7 miles until we saw them again.

I made it to the 10-mile mark feeling good and continued on pace. A little after the half, the “work the second 10” approach started to become prevalent. I still felt really good, but I could feel myself getting tired and my form starting to slip. From here until mile 20, my goal became centered on running form. Since I haven’t really bragged about Tailwind Nutrition yet, let me just tell you this stuff is amazing! I can’t say enough good things about it. Thank you, dude, at Fleet Feet for encouraging me to try it, because I don’t know if I will ever use anything else ever again! Enough kudos, back to the race. Miles 13 through16 of the course was beautiful. The path through Rhodes College and then this cute little neighborhood followed by Overton Park. It always makes me happy when races don’t jip those running the full. Sometimes I feel like races get lazy with the second half of the course but not this one.

 

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Mile 17, feeling good!

 

 

It was around mile 16.5 that I began to lose my brother-in-law. We both knew this was bound to happen as I had trained a lot harder, and we had agreed to just let it happen when it was time. I saw my family for the second time at mile 17, and got a few quick baby hugs from Chicken and was on my way yet again. Now alone without my brother-in-law to distract from the fatigue in my legs, I had to turn my attention back to my form and my plan to work the second 10. Before the race, my husband said he would see for the last time at 19.5. I didn’t see them and thought that maybe they weren’t able to make the close meetups. This got me a little down, but luckily this was also on my old street in Cooper-Young. Instead of concentrating on the missed meeting and letting it depress me, I decided to check out the street and observe the changes to my old home over the past year. Luckily that was all the distraction I needed, cause when I rounded the corner at mile 20, there they were! This time Chicken ran alongside me. Seriously, it was adorable! This was exactly what I needed to move into the last phase of my race plan. Empty the tank and run until the wheels fall off for the last 10k!

 

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Mile 20 much-needed dose of cuteness!

 

At the next water stop, I refilled my bottle and poured in another serving of tailwind. I had also saved my music for this stretch too. So turned on my headphones and pushed shuffle on the playlist. China Grove came on and kicked off the trip downtown to the finish line. I’m telling you, I felt great! I ran a negative split and put everything out there. That last mile I turned it up and gave it everything I had and because of that, the turn into the shoot felt amazing! I have never been so amped at the end of a race! I finished 3 minutes under my goal at 4:17! Just writing this is getting me excited. I might just go register for another one. 3:59, here I come!

 

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Marathon finishers! My brother-in-law, nephew and me.

 

 

After the race, we went out for my fav post-race meal, a big, fat cheeseburger and a cold beer!

 

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The marathon also wore Chicken out too! She also enjoyed some of my post-race Oreos from the goodie bag. 

 

I Might Actually Be Crazy!

This past weekend, Andrew, Chicken, and I spent the weekend camping. It’s no secret that our little family loves camping. We take every chance to spend our weekends outdoors. But don’t let me mislead you, camping with a 1-year-old is no easy feat. It requires a ton of stuff (here is my list of baby camping must-haves), zero sleep (you can from our baby sleeping mistakes here), and a really messy baby, but with all that, it’s still totally worth it! This trip was made a little easier by some extra helping hands. We were joined by my parents, and sister’s family, so we had the benefit of splitting tasks and baby holding.

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Our little camping crew. My nephew had such great time on his first big camping trip. 

Although camping is not why I’m crazy, but it did produce the opportunity for my husband to attempt to talk me into doing something crazy, but I’ll get to that later. We are a family that needs to move, and the Village Creek State Park’s great trails are perfect for just that. On Saturday morning after we all enjoyed some delicious breakfast sandwiches my mom made, we strapped on the babies and went for about 5-mile hike. The good thing about hikes that long on easy terrain is you get a chance to talk with almost everyone. At one point during the hike, while Chicken was sleeping on my back, Andrew mentioned that after the St.Jude Marathon, I will have run 3 marathons in 3 different states. He then joked and said maybe you should go for 50 marathons in 50 states. The man should know better than to mention crazy running schemes to me. I’m extremely susceptible!

As crazy as that idea is, it got me thinking, why not? After St.Jude and my 50k, I could easily add in the Mississippi Blues Marathon at the end of January. There’s 4. I’ve had my eye on the Moonlight 50k in Arkansas in June, that’s 5. Then I would only be 5 away for qualifying for a membership to the 50 States Marathon Club (yes, that’s a thing). If I finish all 50, I get a trophy, medal, and finisher singlet. I mean, what won’t I run for free stuff. Seriously I’m not lying, I signed up for the New Orleans Rock n’ Roll Marathon instead of the Half Marathon so I could get the finisher jacket. Totally, worth it!

Another bonus to committing to 50 in 50 is it would give Andrew and me an excuse to buy a camper, and we’ve been dreaming of a camper for a while now. We could turn most of the races into family vacations. How cool would it be to be able to show Chicken the United States one race at a time? Oh no, I think I might be talking myself into it! Maybe I should finish the St. Jude and Swamp Stomper first before I fall too deeply into wanderlust.Well, I’m not committing yet, but it sure does sound like a pretty awesome goal!

Does anybody else have dreams of crazy running goals? I’d love to hear them! Maybe you can inspire me to do something even crazier!

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It never fails to amaze me how messy she gets while camping! 

A Weekend of Family, Football, and Running

This past Thursday, Andrew and I made a last minute decision to buy tickets to the Ole Miss vs Arkansas game on Saturday. I am so excited we did. This would be the first game, I had been too in a couple of years, and even more exciting, it would be Chicken’s first Ole Miss game and visit to the Grove.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ole Miss football, the Grove is a one-of-a-kind tailgating experience. Seriously, there is nothing like it. I grew up going to the Grove for every home game. My parents met at Ole Miss and my older siblings and myself all went to college there. Ole Miss is part of who I am, and when you’re in the Grove on game day, you can feel that love and passion for the school from every fan. The setup itself is unlike any other tailgate. There are no cars just tents in every direction and boy, is southern hospitality on display. The food found in every tent is over the top and the drink runs freely. The grove is not a place to worry about your diet that is for sure.

On Saturday morning, I woke up early and squeezed in my 10 miles at race pace. It was a great run in the new cooler weather. I can’t believe it’s taken until the last weekend in October to get any sign of fall here. I ran some good times. A little faster than intended, but I can’t help myself when a run is feeling good. Post run I fueled with a fried egg and extra egg white, sourdough toast, half an avocado, and the oh so essential coffee before heading off to Oxford.

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We arrived about an hour and a half before the game and set off for the Grove. Chicken was immediately greeted with a doughnut and the adults with some delicious adult peppermint hot chocolate and homemade chicken biscuits. How can you refuse?

At the game, I was so proud of Chicken. She did so well. She was so distracted by the band playing music and the people shouting and waving pom-poms, she never even noticed she had missed her nap. I was sure we would have to bail on the game before halftime, but she made it until the start of fourth quarter, and then we just watched the rest of the game from a tv in someone’s tent. (It didn’t end well for my Rebels, but at Ole Miss that never dampens our spirit.)

 

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She did take some time to chill in daddy’s lap, though.

 

She had a blast playing in the Grove and eating every cookie she was given, which turned out to be about 5. The cookies combined with no nap made for a big crash in the car on the way back to my parents’ house. Where we ordered take out and climbed in our PJs at 5pm and spent the night hanging out until an early bedtime. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

 

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Excuse my car seat, I never seem to get around to cleaning that thing.

 

The next morning, we slept in. Well, we slept to 7 because there is no sleeping in with a 1-year-old. Andrew and I headed back to Memphis after breakfast, and Chicken stayed with my parents to visit for a couple days. When I got to Memphis, I changed into my running gear and got my fuel ready for my 20 miler. This is my second 20 miles so far in this training schedule. The first one did not go so great, so I was a bit apprehensive about this one. I tried a new fuel, Tailwind nutrition. I had both the green tea and tropical punch flavors. I had a great run and never bonked. I was even able to run negative splits my last four miles, but I still kept it pretty slow as the training scheduled said to do. I really liked the Green Tea Tailwind powder. It had a really nice light flavor and mixed perfectly into my water bottle. It was also very easy on my stomach, which is why I won’t take gels or chews anymore. I also really like that I didn’t have to eat anything or drink extra water. The only downfall is that you have to stop every hour and mix another drink. I think I have found my nutrition plan for this marathon. I have 2.5 hour run this Sunday, so I am going to try it again and make sure I still like it. Has anyone else had experience using Tailwind Nutrition? What do you think? Did having to stop and mix new drinks bother you?

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Post-baby PR

Happy Friday everyone! I am very excited to post today because, yesterday, I got a postpartum 5K PR. I ran it in 25 minutes, YAY! I know this isn’t fast for many of you. It’s not even fast for a lot of ladies who are also 9 months postpartum, but I had given up being speedy a long time ago. Actually, I have been anti-fast running since I went to college.

In high school, I had the talent but not the motivation. I simply wanted to be good for the wrong reasons. I wanted to win for other people. I wanted others to think I was good. Now, I don’t care if I’m fast or not. The goal to be faster does not necessarily make me happy; it’s the journey to that goal that brings me joy. I have come to love putting in the hard work and seeing what comes from it. The struggle is what makes me happy. It makes me feel strong, and that strength gives me confidence.

This PR is special because of where I started. As anyone who’s had a baby knows, giving your body over to your child for 9 months as they grow and to continue to nourish a newborn for months while dealing with all the changes and stress put on your body is hard work. And in the end, you have a completely new body from the one you started with. Proving to myself that I can still work hard and see results gives me strength.

I am excited to see what this new body can do, so I’m going to continue to work and challenge myself. Earlier this month I signed up for a four Road Race Series and the St. Jude Marathon (this will be my third). So lots, of challenges already in the books. Can’t wait!

What gives you strength and confidence?

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My splits, I definitely see some areas for improvement.

 

Happy, Little Discovery

I wasn’t planning on posting today, but I thought I’d tell everyone about my happy, little discovery yesterday. To begin, Andrew is out of town for work, so it’s just me home with Chicken which means no early morning runs until he gets back. I mean, I would love to pull a Peter Pan and leave Chicken with the dog for an hour while I get in a quick run. I’m sure Enid, my golden retriever, could pull off a Nana, but I’m also pretty sure that activity is frowned upon. So until society excepts dogs as viable caregivers, I’m stuck waiting until after work and taking the little one on a stroller run. Darn!

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Enid and Chicken lounging on our bed. (Don’t worry I’m within an arm’s reach of baby girl.)

 

I have like zero motivation to exercise once I get home from work, but I saw on “Moms Run This Town” (a Facebook group I’m a member of but have never actually participated in) that there was going to be a group run at a park in a suburb a little farther out from where we live. I REALLY needed the run for my sanity and to blow off some steam. Honestly, I don’t know how single moms do it. I think they should wake up to applause every morning cause these ladies have super powers! I am stressed after like two nights by myself!

Once I get home, I pack up the car and head that way. It takes about 20 minutes to get there, and as soon as I arrive, I realized I totally didn’t read the whole post because no one is there. Yep, it said June 13th. Oh well! I was there, and instead of whining about it, I decided to run anyway. I had never been to this park before and to my surprise, it was absolutely lovely. Johnson Park in Collierville has this great boardwalk through the woods. It was beautiful! I took a little video that you can see here: (Sorry for the shakiness, I was running, steering a stroller, and taking a video. I’m pretty sure this should be illegal.)

My only complaint was that it wasn’t long enough and had to do a couple laps to get the mileage. Obviously, that is a silly thing to complain about and hope to make the trip back out to enjoy a change from my regular routes. Maybe, I’ll even make the mom group sometime. That is if I actually read the post and get the time right.

Frisbee and a 5k

Last week, Andrew and I decided to drag Chicken to our various activities. We started off by taking her to her very first Ultimate Frisbee game. Andrew loves ultimate frisbee and has been playing since his days at Villanova. The start of summer also means the start of summer league for the Burke family, and Chicken and I were there to cheer daddy on.

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Chicken had a great time playing on the blanket and eating mommy’s keys. She loves to be outside so was fairly happy even though we were creeping in on her bedtime. We did have to break out the “magical” Cheerios when things started going down hill.

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For the most part, we had a successful first game. Andrew had two games, and they won both. We only stayed for the first since I didn’t want to get little one to bed too late. Although, that turned out not to matter anyway. Parenting lesson of the night, make sure you have your house keys after switching vehicles with your husband. If you don’t you’ll spend about an hour driving around the neighborhood trying not to wake a sleeping baby while waiting for your husband to get home to unlock the door. I guess it could’ve been worse, she could have screamed in the car that whole time instead.


 

The next night, we signed up to run the Harbortown 5k with my sister and her family. It was my first time running this Memphis “must run once” race. It’s a great course that wound through Harbortown and the locals really come out to support the runners. Let me go ahead and let everyone know, I am not a fast runner. I love to run and run a lot and hope to get faster, but that is not my primary goal when it comes to running. So don’t expect to see any impressive times posted on this blog.

I ran the 5k with my sister while Andrew pushed Chicken in the stroller. My sister has recently found her love for running and that brings me more joy than I can tell you. Nothing makes me happier than to share my passion for running, and it’s even more special to do so with someone I love so much.

For starting at the back of the pack, we ran a good race, and my sister outran her expected pace by a full minute! The best part was the finish when my 6-year-old nephew ran through the finish line with us. Sharing experiences like these with loved ones are why I sign up again and again. Here a few pictures of us before the race (when we still look pretty).

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Chicken is ready to run!

 

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Lining up at the start as a family.

The party after the run looked super fun, and those Sonic burritos looked sooo delicious! But once the stroller stopped moving Chicken quickly realized it was WAY past her bedtime, and we had a to make a quick escape! Thank goodness for car rides and my Widespread Panic lullaby CD.

After a Thursday night frisbee game and Friday night race, we decided a weekend at home relaxing and getting back on Chicken’s sleep schedule was what we ALL needed.