Becoming an alum

Ok, so lots of life has happened since I ran a marathon. (But OMG I RAN A MARATHON!). Rather than try to backtrack and cover all those exciting events (there were many), I think the best thing to do is start at the most recent and then keep moving forward. The biggest thing lately? I graduated from college. It was a day I thought would never come and came much too fast all at the same time.

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On May 16, 2014, I graduated cum laude from Louisiana State University A&M College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biological Sciences and a minor in Spanish.

My parents came down, and family flew in from Arizona.  I passed on the main ceremony on Thursday in favor of a dinner at Boutin’s.  Friday dawned early for my nervous tummy.  That settled down once I got to the fieldhouse and realized I knew the majority of the 300+ grads, either from class or my dorm days.  From there on out, it was just fun! We lined up and paraded in, pride beaming from every face in the room.  First to speak was LSU President F. King Alexander.  He’s only been at LSU a year, but he’s fought for students in a way that no one else has – he’s going to take the university in a wonderful direction! The main speaker was the former dean of the College of Science, and the dad of one of the grads. He was funny, and had us all stand and sing with him. As far as commencement ceremonies go, it was a good one.

 

The 2014 graduating class was recorded as the most diverse in LSU history.  I’m a fan of interesting stats, so here’s a few about my class:

The largest, with 6,251 graduates.

The most females in history, making up 55% of the total.  For the College of Science, females made up 32%.

Our class represented 57 parishes, 47 U.S. states, and 57 foreign countries.

I’m proud to be an alum of the esteemed LSU, a part of the “incredible legacy of academia” that comes with my degree.  My time at LSU was beyond good, and full of unexpected and wonderful experiences and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to put it all into words. Leaving LSU is a mix of so many feelings – elation and sadness and excitement and nostalgia and lots of tears to go with it. It was all the cliches about college – laughter and love and late nights and procrastination and tears and frustration and pride and accomplishments and standing at the end and being able to say “I have done well and left a mark. No regrets.”

Always and ForeverLSU.

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I ran a marathon!

I can’t believe it’s already been more than a week since I ran my first marathon! When I decided that I wanted to run a marathon before I graduated from college, The Louisiana Marathon pretty much won in a landslide.  No travel, no hotel, no lottery entry, and the course ran through my beloved training routes.  AND my mom would come down to walk the half.  1552786_10201931077617739_977477975_n

The height of training wrapped up with a 20 miler right before New Years.  Thankfully I had the last bit of winter break and the start of spring semester to distract me from the “taper crazies” (going a stir crazy when I cut my mileage from 40 mi/week to 5 mi/week).  1488370_10201931076977723_1994268274_n

Race weekend started with a quiet Saturday morning in bed with Netflix. I was able to eat breakfast, unlike the day before my first half, so this was a good sign!  Mom got into town about 1 and we went downtown to meet Paige and Kayla for the expo.  We picked up our shirts and race numbers and the signed art print Mom got me for Christmas.  After walking around the expo a few times, I decided on a 26.2 car sticker and a “GEAUX26.2″ shirt.  1085305_10201931076377708_1126886968_n

Wary of spending too much time on my feet, we didn’t stay too long at the expo.  Mom and I went to Magpie Cafe for a snack and then I introduced her to Trader Joe’s.  We went home to lay out our clothes for the next day and had a late dinner with Paige at Boutin’s.  They had a live zydeco band, so that plus a big bowl of crawfish etouffee helped settle my nerves a little! 1579985_10201931074937672_1917003421_n

Saturday night, I watched a little Netflix and then surprised myself by actually getting some sleep.  Sunday came dark and early.  I ate breakfast (banana, Luna bar, pb sandwich) while I got dressed and then it was time to go! Eeep! 1608416_10201925504318410_956137269_n

I found Kayla and Bethany at the race start and danced around a little to distract myself.  I was so nervous!! 1579763_10201945733824135_1320878650_n

The race started in front of the state capital and headed through downtown to LSU.  My plan was to take it slow and soak it all in. The first 11 miles or so were easy.  Thoughts were good, legs were light.  I couldn’t believe it was really happening, and the miles through LSU were AH-MAZING.  I ran by where I work, and Tiger Stadium, and around the lakes and the parade ground.  All I could think was “I love this place!” 1082653_10201945733304122_1291236469_n

Miles 11-15 were kind of a blur – this is where the full split from the half and there were a lot fewer runners at this point.  My race photo from that segment was ROUGH.

15-22 were a mental battle. This stretch was an out-and-back  through a residential area.  The hardest part was being at mile 16 or so and seeing the runners already at mile 22.  At mile 16, the Clif Shots I had been taking every 3-4 miles started tasting like cement, so I resorted to sipping powerade and eating orange slices at the aid stations.  I was run/walking at this point too, and very grateful for the track sprints I had done each week.

At 22, I felt AMAZING, so I stepped up the sprints but still held back.  I was scared of “hitting the wall” but managed to avoid that.  When I still felt great at mile 24, I let loose.  I gave those last 2.2 miles everything I had left (and passed lots of runners along the way.  Can you say confidence boost?!).  I crossed the finish line, sobbing the entire way.  It was a total girl moment, but I was in shock that it was over and that I had actually done it.  I had actually run 26.2 miles.  I got my medal, hugged Mom and Kayla, and searched out some food.  1598318_10201941843006867_1721100449_n

I want to talk about course support for a minute.  Louisiana certainly knows how to do things right when it comes to a party. The volunteers were INCREDIBLE.  They had advil and candy and posters and dancing babies and cheered for me by name (which was printed on my race bib, but I kept forgetting).  To add to that, Mom was cheering at mile 25, when she knew I would need it most.  All that, plus my friend Allie ran over to the race course from her house to cheer for me at 730 on a Sunday morning.  I knew she would be out at mile 3, and she was, with a poster that said RUN.  Best poster on the course if you ask me! But I got a bonus treat to see her and Jacee again when the course passed by again at 10.5! Allie, among many other friends, let me ramble on about “my marathon” for the past few months, and for that I am grateful! 974266_10201941843286874_383286676_n

So would I run another marathon? Yes. One day – for a charity or with a friend.  (If you had asked me this at mile 17, the answer would have been a big fat no, so the week since the race has given a little perspective.)

1488491_10201930557844745_1395308142_nMom and I showered and got burgers and milkshakes before she had to head back home.  I’m so glad she got to be down here for this experience, and I don’t think I could have imagined a better weekend.  1616607_10201931069657540_577307940_nSpring semester of my senior year of high school, I struggled to run the one required mile.  Senior year of college, I ran 26.2 miles. The marathon was difficult and rewarding and a little crazy and one more incredible memory to add all that Baton Rouge already held.

La. Marathon Training: Week 9

Yes, weeks 5 – 8 happened, they just probably won’t get blogged about.  But week 9! Week 9 was a good one.  And a cold one.

Week 9: 11/25 – 11/30

Monday, 11/25: 2×1600 (Goal: 11:00), 2x800m (Goal: 5:22) repeats.  Result: 11:02, 10:55, 5:27, 5:26.  The only note I have in my training log is: NAILED IT.  I’ve come to really love track workouts.  Maybe it’s the clear-cut approach or the numbers to analyze or the short, bearable segments.  Whatever it is, these are becoming my favorites!

Tuesday: Rest. Should have cross-trained, but I worked 7 hours on my feet instead.

Wednesday: Rest and travel! I had an exam in my 8:30 class and then headed home right after.

Thursday: Thanksgiving!! I had to start the day with the local Turkey Trot of course. My sister was supposed to join me, but ended up being sick.  The temperature was about 27F that morning.  If I hadn’t had the race to go to, I would have had a much harder time getting out of bed! The way this race is set up, you run about 2.5 miles on the parkway and then drop to the trail and loop back to the finish for a 3 mile race.  There was a standstill about 40 people deep where the race merged to the trail, so I bypassed that section and made up my own race.  I never actually crossed the finish line and ended up running about 4 miles total for a nice tempo run for the week.

1422710_10201589264672629_806009056_nAlso, word to the wise: double-check the race start time, especially on a freezing morning! I thought the race started at 8, so I got down to the boat launch at 7:35. Turns out, the kids race started at 8 and the 3-miler at 8:30.  I did a lot of jumping around to stay warm!

4 miles in 46:00, for an 11:30 pace.

Friday: One final game day as a student in Tiger Stadium!

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Oh, it was a good one.

Saturday: 16 miles at marathon goal pace + 30.  (13:30).  I finished in 3:37 (13:34 pace) which I was pretty proud of for the day after a game day. I got lost in the Garden District, but saw some beautiful houses and some of the race course.  I tripped somewhere along mile 10, but had just a little scrape below my right knee.  Gloves and sleeves saved my palms and elbows. I must admit, I felt a little hardcore finishing my run with blood down my leg!

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Last week, I was asked an interesting question.  A friend, who happens to be an athlete herself, asked me what it felt like to run 15 miles.  I couldn’t really come up with an answer for her at the time, but thought about this often during my 16-miler. (advantage to not running with music!).  I’ve decided my answer is this: Strong. Proud. Almost Invincible. And very, very hungry.  I feel like the hard work I’ve done the last few years, and especially the last 9 weeks, has been worth it.  That every drop of sweat and every hard workout has added up to being able to finish this long run, and to hopefully finish 26.2 miles in a few short weeks. Bill Rodgers said “The marathon can humble you,” but I think it can also strengthen you.  If I can discipline myself to train for and complete a marathon, which is a long and scary distance, I can face the fears I have about completing medical school, and everything else life after college holds.  Running is also consistent. I’m not going to be winning races anytime soon, but no matter what else is happening in the world, running will always be one foot in front of the other.  Always.

Week 9: 23 miles.

7 weeks to go!

La. Marathon Training: Weeks 3 and 4

These summary posts aren’t that exciting, so I think combining two weeks together is gonna be the way to go!

Week 3 – October 13-19

Sunday – Rest

Monday – Track workout! I’ve come to really like these.  This was a stair step workout, so I actually had to write the splits on my forearm with a sharpie to remember them.

1200 – 8:04 (Goal: 8:09), 1000 – 6:39 (6:44), 800 – 5:21 (5:22), 600 – 4:03 (4:00), 400 – 2:33 (2:39)

Tuesday – Cycle interval class at the rec center. Kick butt, early morning, super sweaty 45 minutes on the spin bike.

Wednesday – 4 miles in the AM and 2 in the PM for a total of 6 miles.  The goal here was a steady state run, but those afternoon miles sure felt a little easier.  I think the cycling class may have played into a little leg fatigue here, but I felt pretty accomplished getting in two runs that day.

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 2.5 easy miles

Saturday – Rest. Pouring rain during the early morning hours and some hemming and hawing about when to run long ended up in this being a rest day.  It worked out, cause I got in lots of study hours.

Sunday – 10 miles for a beautiful long run.  Lots of people in the area are training, so the lakes were nicely populated that morning.

Summary of my run.

The goal on long runs is always to start slow and finish strong, and I pretty much nailed it.  I also played around with eating a little as I go to keep my energy up, cause 26.2 miles is a long way to go with no fuel.

Ain't that purty?

Ain’t that purty?

Thoughts on Week 3: NAILED IT.

Week 4: The sluggish and weird one. October 20 – 27.

Monday – Weights and abs, with a crazy amount of kettlebell swings that didn’t seem so crazy at the time.

Tuesday – 4×1000 on the track (was supposed to be 5×1000). Goal time was 6:44 and we hit these repeats in 7:22, 6:58, 6:47, and 6:46.  I think the kettlebell swings and a late night of studying (and beignets) may have to take the fall for that one.

Wednesday – 2.5 miles in the morning.  I had time for more, but decided to review before my 8:30 test. (HA! Should have just run.  That test was stinkin’ difficult.)

Thursday – REST.  I was really grateful for this rest day.  If rest days make you antsy, you’re not working hard enough, right?

Friday – 3 miles at a slow and steady pace.

Saturday – lots of hullabaloo and a late bedtime forced this into a rest day. I studied, because what else am I supposed to do?

Sunday – 11 miles.  The splits here weren’t near as purty as the 10-miler last week, but I still felt strong and seem to have recovered pretty quickly. Got all mixed up in Boo on the Row so dodging adorable-but-in-the-way toddlers added a little spice to this run.

Thoughts on Week 4: THUMB TACKED IT. A step or two below nailing it, but for the lack of sleep and tired legs, I’m totes ok with this week.

I’m 25% of the way through training and feeling great.  Lots of cheese and animal crackers and Dunkin’ coffees have been consumed.  On a sadder note, I’m now on this training wagon alone.  Kayla realized today what I’ve known for a few weeks – with all the health concerns she’s had the past few months, the wisest thing to do would be to drop down to the half.  She made it halfway through the 11 miler this week before having to stop. I know it’s the wisest decision, but I was looking forward to doing this with a friend.  I guess that means it’s time to start recruiting cheerleaders for the race!

84 days until race day!

La. Marathon Training: Week 2

Other than some aches the day of the 15k, I recovered pretty quickly from my first long run.  I was grateful that Sunday was a rest day since I was driving back to BR that afternoon.  Once I drove in, I went straight to the softball fields to cheer on my friends in their fall tournament.  Monday morning came nice and early and I had another great week of training.  The only downside for this week was that KK was sick, leaving me to this by myself.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 4×800 w/ 2min RI. Goal: 8:22.  5:17, 5:12, 5:13, 5:17.

Tuesday: 25 min cycle and weights.  I discovered that the UREC added individual tv’s to the cardio equipment, so I took the opportunity to get a dose of GMA while I biked.

Wednesday: 1 mile warmup, 5 mile tempo @ 12:59, 1 mile cool down.  I didn’t allow myself enough time, so this turned into a 1/4 mile warm up, 5 miles tempo, cool down as I made my way to the shower.  My overall average pace was 12:36, with my tempo miles ranging from 11:19 – 12:03.

Girls on the Run in the pm

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 25 min cycle and weights.  The plan was to substitute an easy 3 here, but GMA just drew me in!

Saturday: 9 beautiful miles in 1:55 (13:01 overall pace). My goal pace was actually 13:44, but that would require more walk breaks than I want to take!

Total miles: 17.8

Saturday wrapped up with an afternoon football game against Florida (LSU won 17-6!!), a 5th quarter, and an early bedtime.

Because normal is weird.

Because normal is weird.

The good: very little leg fatigue, completed all my workouts

The bad: That range on the tempo run! I’ve got to work on the “steady pace” running thing.