February 27, 2011

Mardi Gras

Best overheard conversation

"The problem with Mardi Gras is that people don't realize that life continues outside Mardi Gras"

A stranger jumps in:  "No it doesn't!"

"...My point exactly."

Sorry, all.  I am in the midst of New Orleans Mardi Gras.  (9 more days to go until MG-day).  I haven't forgotten about you.  It's just that this city has a way of getting into your blood, especially this time of year. Happy festivities!

(Thank God it's taper time.)

February 18, 2011


Yesterday I woke up, got dressed & had my morning coffee.  The weather outside was amazing... 70+ degrees & sunshine.*  The only thought on my mind was that I didn't want to go to class.  I really, really didn't want to go to class.  It was too beautiful a day to have to sit inside and listen to lecture, no matter how good it might be.

Thank God this is the weekend forecast.  Looks like my studies are gonna have a rough spring.
Then I got an email saying that my morning lecture was cancelled and we would only have a 1pm lecture.  This was the kiss of death.  Really?!?  No class all morning?!?  Heck.  There's almost no point in going in for just an hour.

So I didn't.  I played hooky instead.

This is one of the problems joys of grad school.  Our parents aren't around, we're considered "adults" and therefore we're responsible only to ourselves.  Skipping school no longer requires elaborate plans aimed at proving our contagiousness:

So what did I do on my surprise day off?

1.  Went for a fantastic 7 mile run & sweated my face off.
2.  Worked on my Mardi Gras costume.  (It's coming together quite nicely.)
3.  Spent 5 hours on a patio drinking delicious beer with friends.

Days like that kinda make all the blood, sweat & tears of grad school worth it.  What do you do on surprise days off?

*For those of you who live up North, please note that I am not trying to rub it in much.  We each have our own obstacles.  You can feel free to laugh at us Southerners during the summer when our sorry a$$es are running through months with a heat index of 115 degrees.

February 17, 2011

Mercedes Marathon in Pictures

This week has been crazy and won't settle down until Sunday at the earliest.  So with no further ado, here are (some of the many) pictures from the Mercedes Marathon.  They tell the story as well as any words.

And we're off.

Finish line in sight.

I promise to muster up a true race report soon.  Short story:  great race.

February 15, 2011

Race Etiquette

The Mercedes Marathon this past Sunday went amazingly well.  I thought the race would be a disaster between my many interruptions in training & the hillier course, but in the end it was definitely one of my best races in terms of enjoyment.  The weather was perfect.  I felt great the whole time.  The spectators were spectacular.  Overall a good time.  I'll write up a full race report soon.

In the meantime, I have a question about race etiquette:

I'm a poor grad student, so I'm all about grabbing freebies at expos & races.  I recently wrote about hitting up all the booths with free stuff at the Mardi Gras RnR expo and wrote about how I try to come out even with Gu at races (finish with the amount I started with).  At finish lines I might grab an extra banana or water - something I'll eat as I recover.

But here's my complaint:  I saw some people hoarding food at the finish line and filling their bags with goodies.  Once I'd recovered and stretched out I went back to the finish line to cheer on those coming in behind me.  In doing so, I couldn't help but notice that the runners who came in around the 4:45-5:00 time where left with some scrawny oranges and a couple warm waters at the finish line.  It's nice to get your money's worth at expensive races, but not if it means that others are left with nothing.  But that's just me.  Am I being too harsh?

Free for all in the grab for freebies, or truly free for all finishers - regardless of time?  What's your thought?

February 12, 2011


As soon as I finish this blog, I'm hitting the road:  tomorrow is the Mercedes Marathon... woohoo!  And as a bonus, since the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans is also tomorrow, I got to hit up their expo as well.  I figure the RNR marathon is likely to be somewhat larger and this way I won't have to carry anything back from Bham.

My computer is being stupid.  This is what you get for a map.
In case you can't tell, A is New Orleans & B is Birmingham.
How do I approach expos?  It's all about the samples & the gels.  As a poor grad student, I can't afford to be constantly buying new running clothes.  I would love to, but I would also love a new car, a new bike, a new... well...  You get the idea.  So I stick to the gels.  Why?  I know I need them for training & races, and they are always (in my experience) cheaper at the expos than at any stores.  I usually buy a big box of 24 (that you can mix & match, discounted for $20) which gets me through for a while.

So that was my plan: Get in, get gels, get out.  And let's just say, I was successful.  Perhaps a bit too successful. I walked away with a 24 pack of Gu and a 24 pack of Carb Boom.  I'd never seen Carb Boom before but they were handing out samples & I liked it.  That's more than I can say about most other energy sources.  I'll let you know more once I get to try them out on a run.

The other goal of expos:  samples.  If I'm still hungry when I leave, I consider that a fail.  What did I get to try?
  • Muscle Milk (coffee & vanilla)
  • Gu Chomps (the new Peach Tea flavor)
  • Snickers Protein something or other (Didn't pay attention to the name.  I refuse to actually buy an endurance product made by a candy company, but I tried 2 flavors.  They were ok.)
  • Carb Boom energy gels
  • Fortune cookies from PF Changs (with running "fortunes")
Well, that's all for now.  Good luck to everyone running the Mardi Gras Marathon this weekend!  I'll definitely be thinking about all of you!

(Ooops.  Sorry to anyone who had to read this in large print.  Should be fixed now.)

February 9, 2011


They formed underneath my clothes where I left them to dry.  I waited to run today until a friend got home from work.  I was glad to wait and I wasn't.  The bad news is that it looked like this outside:
Like this, except if you are on the other side of the glass.

The good news is that I had the best run I've had in a while.  The pace was relaxed but steady.  We ran through Audubon Park after dark - something that I would never do alone but have grown to appreciate with company.  The rain, cold & wind were a bit brutal at the start and I never fully regained feeling in my fingers until I took a shower.  But despite doubling the distance I had planned for the day, my legs felt fantastic.

With the Mercedes Marathon Sunday and a lot of missed runs behind me, I needed this little boost.  Now I can't wait to head to Birmingham.  But hopefully there I'll find less puddles.

Shorts & shoes.  A bit wet.

I may have *slightly* enhanced the puddles, but only to make their full glory more apparent.  How do you feel about running in the rain?

February 8, 2011


I have something of a love/hate relationship with treadmills.  Living in New Orleans, they are something I rarely have to use.  For one, the winters here are relatively mild (though, as a cold weather wimp I still complain).  And due to my job, I usually spend most of the day inside.  Running is the one time that I get outside, enjoy nature & have a moment to myself.  When I do have to use them I generally find myself in one of 2 situations:  Either I get into a groove & knock out the miles wondering why I don't use treadmills more often, or I spend the whole run staring at the mileage as it ticks slowly 0.1 mile at a time.  Usually it's the latter.

So over the past year, anytime I was forced to run indoors I usually chose another option:  the mini-track.  My local gym has this itty-bitty track that requires 9 loops for a mile.  And that's if you're in the outer loop.  Yeah.

One would think it would be awful, but I've found I like it better than the dreadmill.  Particularly because my gym is located on an undergraduate campus, there are always things to distract you.  Coeds having inappropriate conversations on their cell phones, guys flexing & grunting to show off (ps guys... not sexy) and scandalous workout outfits are everywhere.  (If your gym shorts are so short that I can see your thong, you might want to rethink your gym clothes.  Just sayin'.)

At this rate, I may never run on a treadmill in New Orleans again.  I even knocked out a 16 miler on the mini-track and a handful of shorter runs.  (One warning though:  one leg tends to get a little sore.)

What types of runs do you try to avoid & what are you willing to do to get out of them?

Oh... and for fuel on your treadmill, mini-track, outdoors or otherwise runs, a little Gu giveaway hosted by 26.2 Quest.

February 7, 2011

Bike Envy

You could race this guy, right?
Maybe I'm the only one, but I have this glorious irrational dream that someone will generously buy me an amazing road bike.  And by "amazing" I mean any road bike.

This is not to say that I'm ungrateful for my mountain bike.  I am very grateful.  It gets me to and from work when I bike commute.  It's taken me grocery shopping when my car was in the shop.  I've gone for long fast and long leisurely rides on it.

But whenever someone passes me on a road bike I get bike envy.  And despite delusions earlier in the year that I could afford a road bike, a couple months on the road for interviews was eye opening in terms of the sadness of my bank account.


I'm left with bike envy.  But I've got a plan.  I've decided to win the lottery this spring.  It's important to be realistic.

What would you buy with a ga-zillion dollars?

February 3, 2011


It was an accident, I swear!

Ok, it wasn't an accident.  It was an intentional - yet possibly stupid - decision.  Only time will tell.  (Isn't that how addictions work?)  Hopefully it will involve some hilarities, a handful of goofy pictures and (*fingers crossed*) no injuries.

The one thing that makes me sad about this marathon is that it means I won't be in New Orleans to cheer on or run with my friends.  I know a handful of people doing the half and the full and I'll miss it.  As for the race itself, no love lost.  I ran it last year and I have to say that I liked it better when it was run by our local track club.  (Last year it became a Rock N' Roll event.)  I'm sure they will continue to improve the race - perhaps it's not fair to judge based on their inaugural year, but there you have it.  Plus, it's like a ga-zillion dollars to run  the Mardi Gras Marathon and paying for Mercedes even last minute was still cheaper than the early discount for New Orleans.  Ah well.  I'll definitely be thinking about my friends as I crawl the last miles in pain.

What do you have coming up?  Ever run Mercedes or Mardi Gras?