Posts Tagged ‘marathon maniacs’

Loving Loiusiana

In July of last year, my friend Karen went and ran Missoula. Along the way, she decided to sign up for the 5K the day before the marathon just for a training run the day before. This flies in the face of all known marathon training which tells you rest the day before a marathon is always the way to go. However, she went out there, crushed it, got a cool extra medal and an age group award to boot. She also did well at the marathon the next day and got a personal record there too! I am no stranger to running the day before a marathon so when I found out that the Louisiana Marathon offered top finisher prizes to 5K winners just the day before the marathon? I had to get in on one of those!

So I talked to another friend running the day before, Glen, and the two of us made plans to get to town the night before, hang out and then run the 5K. Then… a snowstorm ruined my early start, flight issues ruined his way into town and we both arrived much later than we wanted to in Baton Rouge. We did meet up but not until five minutes before the race! After a couple minutes chatting, we took off and I had not a clue what to expect. It seemed to be a faster crowd than the year before (is that not always the case?) and I was able to settle into the top 20 by Mile 1. I passed a couple other people and soon enough found my way into the top 15 by the 2 mile point. I even made another move and made my way to 12th overall but fell apart a little and came in around 15th. I was pretty sure I had age group placed so I was very pleased with a sub 20 minute effort. Still not running my high school times but I was not in pain either so my marathon time was not in any trouble either.

Glen broke 23 minutes (which he said would have been way too fast), and it was a great meeting with him and Peter afterwards. I was also able to talk to new friend, Andy Bowden, a bit afterwards as well. I remember when my friend first suggested trying to meet a new friend each race I thought it may be impossible. Seriously would I not run out of people to meet sooner or later? Well the answer is a big NO! Andy and I both ran the double the week before and we both run in under four hours yet had no idea who the other was until this day at a 5K. Andy is from Houston and really has been active this year running as often if not more often than me. And how did I meet him? Peter needed a ride to the race and Andy stepped up to help him out. The funny part was we even had the same modus operandi – got into town a day early? Find a cheap hotel near the airport. We just chose different hotels is all.

After a short time chatting, I actually met three other runners from Iowa (seriously does not happen that often) and then made my way to get my finishing time. Yes! Second place age group and the guy ensured me there were age group prizes. One of my new Iowa friends scored as well. We chose not to stick around and get our prizes at the marathon the next day.

And that was the real reason I was here. Two years ago on this weekend I had flown to Louisiana to run my 11th state. I had a fantastic race with my buddy John and when we got done I got a couple local brews at the finishing area. I loved the course which was mostly around a lake. I liked the crowd support. I loved the finishing area and the many options to eat. They were all local and all so different! And even the awards (I was lucky enough to age group place) were awesome! I got a light jacket and a very nice poster. Last year I needed Arizona to complete my quest so I had to skip year two however the reviews were all raves so I had to come back. When people ask me my favorite marathon, this one is always at the top of that list.

And as I had made my way to this event they proved along the way what makes the Louisiana Marathon such a great event. They offered an expo only discount rather than a discount for everyone. They gave me a free visor when the discount did not work. They became the reunion spot for the Marathon Maniacs this year. They really concentrated on working their “weak” spots increasing their vegan options and inviting a couple top notch speakers to the Pastalaya. And I repaid them in kind. I convinced a girl from Vermont to attend the event with a week to go helping them get to their all 50 states represented goal. I convinced at least three other runners to go this year on top of her too. I guess you could say we have a symbiotic relationship!

So after the 5K, I checked out of my hotel, parked my car at the casino and made my way to the expo. I was getting mighty hungry at this point and was just hoping to run into someone to eat with at the expo. The first thing I saw there was Missy! It was great to see her again. She commented late last year that her love for running had been lost so any time I see her at an event I breathe a sigh of relief. After that I did run into Glen again along with Steven, Chris, and Tony – the main maniacs at their own booth! Angie was there too and I believe she was responsible for the extra this year – a Maniac stocking cap! I actually did an interview at that time and at that booth. Don’t get too excited – I think she interviewed everyone that was a maniac on this day just to see what makes us tick.


Just after that Glen and I went to get something to eat and along the way ran into JoeWee and Mary! Man, I love seeing these two when I get a chance. They were looking forward to getting another state done on their way to 50. I had a great conversation with them and was able to meet their significant others. And of course it goes without saying Abbi was there stalking me as always with Jim. By this point I was taking samples from Core Power to sate a small part of my hunger. So  I opted to go with Denis and go to a local place that another local Maniac recommended. I ended up leaving Glen behind and loaded up into a car with Denis, a couple new friends, and Ed. She was right about the place – it was a 45 minute wait at two in the afternoon so we just went to Five Guys. It was okay.

After that I made my way back to the hotel and finally checked in and had a drink with Abbi. I always love seeing Abbi and we always try to get a drink together. Probably one of my traditions I try to keep every time I can – ever since our first race together in Indianapolis. And after the drink I actually went to a meeting! I know! A meeting and me – that just happened. And they did a great job running the meeting and giving out information on the Maniacs so I did learn something. However I am not sure if I will make this meeting thing a rock in the future. There is just so little time on these weekends. It was nice to talk to Paul and Leah for a first time and to see Bob again. Bob is very instrumental in 50 Sub 4 and I was getting the scoop from him. Changes coming soon? I am not telling!

After that, I was talked into Pastalaya, which was funny considering what had just happened in Alabama the week before. However it was very good – with no tomatoes! And it was great to hear the speakers Matt Long and Bill Rodgers. I was a amazed by Matt’s adversity and Bill is just an icon. It was a nice treat that I did not expect when I signed up for the dinner – like I said I never do these things. And I cannot list all that Matt Long is – you can look that up for yourself. I sat with Glen again and it was nice to get to know him a little better over the weekend. Sometimes when you travel like we do, you end up hanging out with people you never really thought you would even a couple weeks ago.

After this it was time for bed as I was cold! I went to bed and an hour after that Karen finally made her way to the room. It was not her fault – she had a late flight and it really was going to be a short trip as she was going to be out by five the next day. When I told her about my success at the 5K she was a little irked that she had not done the double at this race. She had thought about it – she just had work to do as well. She liked the marathon shirt (it is a good one) and checked out the other goodies as well. It was not long after that we were out and headed to the State Capitol to start our marathon!

And who was in the lobby? It was Brent, Rob, Tony and Luke! I first met the four of them at Tupelo and just love their camaraderie and the way they run together as a group saving personal goals for specific races. I have seen them several times since and always go out of my way to say hello when I can and have had my share of beers with a couple of them as well. The group of us made our way to the start line and there was some confusion about finding the bag drop off but Karen found it after a bit of a search and we both were in the corrals with plenty of time to spare. I was even able to make a last minute stop at a port-a-potty. Pretty rare you can do that without a long line. I lined up in the corral ready to go.


And we were off. Oddly enough, I knew more than a few runners around me and was able to run with Steve for a little bit (he got in almost as late as Karen) and was able to joke around with Tony the pacer as well. My friend Paul fell back when we hit Mile 3. That is odd. Usually he stays up front much longer and has been pacing himself much better lately. After Mile 4 Tony’s pace of 3:05 seemed a bit quick on this day so I settled back about 30 seconds behind him and a female half marathoner and I ran for a bit jockeying for position with each other. We did not talk much but we did a great job working off of each other. In moments like this you can see where a pacer could really help. And then at Mile 10 Paul passed us again and moved in front of Tony as well. Guess he felt it again.

The course in Louisiana was very flat and may only have three hills but the slight incline at Mile 11 turned me into a pile of running goo. I went from 7:05 miles to 7:30 by Mile 12 and an 8 minute mile for 13. I hurt – bad! The only real joys after that point were seeing the other runners. Eliot went blasting by me talking briefly as he was chasing a PR. I ran into non pacer Tony not much later and he looked strong. A Colorado runner told me he had signed up for the race based on my recommendation. And then we turned around and saw the other runners coming our way. I ran into another Tony and Brent looking good. Mary and JoeWee yelled out my name. And I was able to see Karen running with the Maniac President Steven a little bit later. They both looked great and were in front of the 3:45 pacer! Karen was looking for a PR and she had chosen the right course! And another surprise came at Mile 22 when Todd, race director for Carmel, Indiana, passed me pacing another runner and looking strong!

I struggled those last four miles and was thrilled and a little shocked to walk away with a 3:24 on the day. JoeWee and Mary’s significant others gave me a huge cheer when I passed and that really helped. I had convinced Eliot to get a PR on this day because it was my wish as well. I ended up far from it with no lessons learned unfortunately. Whatever went wrong at Mile 11 has happened before and, I will be honest, most probably will happen again. He would later thank me for inspiring him to do so. That meant a lot. And Paul stayed up there and ran a sub 3:10 for his first time ever. I walked over the Maniac finishing area and was thrilled to see the second medal the group offered for attending the reunion. I grabbed a beer and enjoyed time with Steve and Glen who had finished just behind me. I waited for Karen to get done and knock another state off her own 50 Sub 4 quest. I was able to say hi to Paul and Leah as they came in looking happy and healthy and together as always. Such commitment to run together!

Karen did come in a little later but no sub 4. She told me she was hurting when I saw her and it got much worse so she chose not to cause possible damage and had to walk a lot of the last four miles. Bob came in and we were able to talk again and he even got an age group award! He had the plaque around his neck so I went back and got my plaque and poster as well. It felt great to wear that plaque though I was quick to point out that it was for a 5K and not the full distance.

Karen and I did not get an early checkout so we headed back to the hotel to clean up before the day was over. I was a bit down already. Snow was predicted for Iowa and I already knew I would be heading back before I wanted to. Karen had a flight out at six and I was pretty sure I would want to take off before that point. We were able to run into Gary and Chuck who had come in first and second. Really it is an honor for them to even know who I am. Gary is a fantastic runner who wins marathons regularly and Chuck holds the record for most marathons won EVER.

After cleaning up, we headed back for more beer and fun at the race. Denis was there and in excellent spirits as always. He really is very underrated in his enthusiasm and constant outgoing nature. I was able to run into the Vermont runner again and she took a picture with me thanking me for telling her about the great run. Things were really shutting down so we went to the bar and there was a group getting together already. We were able to put a few back with Kerri, Bill, Dave and several others who kept coming in. We had a great time and after only one beer I had to go. I had a 15 hour drive in front of me and my goal was to hit Arkansas by night. I left the others behind just as it was getting fun and did the one thing I did not want to do on this trip – leave early.

I was right in case you were wondering. The snow did hit an hour after I reached home (so I escaped it) and I had a good meal in a town named Monticello, Arkansas. The truth is running can be addictive, yes and I suppose that is why we are all here… but that really is not the truth. The truth for many is the lifestyle is addictive. All these friends and all these times and getting treated special that can be quite addictive too! When I scheduled this run the whole idea was to spend extra time and enjoy the town. When it became a reunion spot for the Marathon Maniacs, the goal was even more magnificent. I did not reach that goal so now I suppose I will be making my next extra time trip to spend more time with my friends and create that next perfect marathon weekend. I guess we are all trying to replicate that perfect marathon weekend – mine would still be Deadwood 2012. Maybe I should head on back…


A matter of perspective – First Light

I know everyone thinks Jennifer Hienton is a kind soul with a great dog and is a ton of fun. I know she thinks of herself as a fun time girl with a great sense of humor. Unfortunately I do not have such nice reports after the h-e-double hockey stick she put me through after the Mississippi Blues Marathon. I had my Sub 3:30. I was happy. But no! She had to convince me to run another marathon the next day! Just 4 months after I would say I would never do this again. To her face even! Just moments after Rhode Island! However, Jennifer cunningly put together a plan to get me to go back to a bout of total pain. She basically convinced me to run by telling everyone I was doing it already and telling me how much fun it would be to run with her on day two. I realized after the fact I did not want to run with her and her bullying me was not a good reason to run a marathon.


The evil one and her little dog too!

Now I know there are several people out there who don’t mind and even love to run two marathons in two days. Jennifer fits into this category and plays it smart conserving on day one so she can have a better day on day two. I am not one of those people. I usually lose 15 to 20 minutes on day two and it is not just 15 minutes but 15 minutes of pain, whining and never wanting to run again. So truthfully when I signed up to the double with Jennifer and Ethan (Cathlin ended up being the smartest of our group and did not go with us) it was more about economics than anything else.

The first economic is the economy of travel. Though I do not like to run doubles, I do like to have good running statistics. I felt healthy enough in November that I could pull out a double sub 4 and add two races and some serious minutes to my frequently fast statistics. Also it is an economical way to get to 100 marathons faster (not even sure when that will happen but in the 80’s now – I love the 80’s). And actually plane tickets out of Mobile were way cheaper than out of Jackson so it was cheaper to actually add on Mobile as well. All things considered, all I really wanted was a 3:30 out of Jackson and whatever happened in Mobile was just fine. Alabama was one of the 9 states I needed a 3:30 in but I doubted I could keep it up the second day of a double nor did I want to put that pressure on myself.

On top of that I was able to coordinate flights with Jennifer to make it so I never had to worry about extra cab rides or hotel stays so, all in all, it was the right decision. I did not and will not forgive Jennifer anytime soon. However with as many people doubling up the two states it ended up feeling like the usual thing to do as well. Funny what we Marathon Maniacs consider usual nowadays! Ethan, Jennifer and I left for our three hour ride to Mobile with a quick stop in Hattiesburg for the best meal of the trip – blackened alligator tail – at a place called Marlins grill. It was not cheap eats at Marlins however it is best meal I have had since November for sure. Highly recommended and a great atmosphere! We even got the bartender to talk running with us.

When we rolled into Mobile, Alabama I think it was a bit later than we all had wished for so we went straight to the expo with no delay and Jennifer and I raced for the first restroom we could find. Once we hit the restrooms, we came out and who was it but Mike Chewar! Mike was looking through some of the vendors and even told us to make sure we hit the Georgia Marathon (I was not able to due to someone pushing me out the door). After a short chat, we made our way over to get out packets. I had to pick up Lecia’s as well so it was going to take me a little longer. No big deal.

So I walked up to the table and said my name. They looked through the numbers. No, no Remsburg. They looked twice. I went over to the C’s to see if I had transversed my name and went with Cade as my last name. No dice. So I went over to the computer table where I would surely find my name and just an issue with registration getting a name with a bib. Nope – could not find me either. Finally the race director stepped forward and honestly, he believed I signed up but he told me I would just have to sign up that day. I knew I had signed up because I remember hitting all the buttons for running both marathons but it was beside the point. I also knew I remembered one marathon not sending an email to me. Could it have been this one? Probably so I thought at the time.

I went to the table to sign up for the expo price and it was $95. Now, I know this was an error on my part but I thought that was pretty steep for a smaller marathon. However with everything everyone had gone through with me now what choice did I have? I had gotten Lecia’s packet. Mike had tried to help me several times with my dilemma and Jennifer and Ethan were just wanting to go. If I did a whole should I or should I not pay game it would just add to their wait and they would talk me into it anyway (don’t even think that the possibility of getting out of a double was a big plus for me though).

I went up to the pay table and tried to not sound like a total jerk, “Now I know it says $95 but I swore I paid when it was $75…” and the race director came up behind me and cut me off, “He pays$55.” I actually argued with him and said I would happily pay the $75 I knew I meant to pay but he cut me off again telling me not to worry about it and he would only charge me $55. I was just floored and am still thankful for his graciousness. Shortly after that, I got a bib and the person who helped me moved me to the front of the t-shirt line and gave me my extra t-shirt for running the double and also the extra gift as well. No problems at all. Next, I stopped to try and take some pictures of some beautiful girls in some fantastic dresses but Jennifer was pushing me out of the door already. I did not even get a chance to visit the Georgia Marathon! I guess Jennifer and her vindictiveness versus expos had destroyed my fun as well!

We had tried to talk Mike into going out to eat with us but he and pretty much everyone else was all about the free dinner the marathon had to offer. I do not blame them. Save your dollars where you can! I chose not to go with the free spread for two reasons. 1. I have done more than a couple free pasta dinners and most of the time the choices are limited to just red sauce. I am allergic to tomatoes (not horribly so) but the slight constriction of my esophagus is enough to make me say no to anything tomato related the day before the marathon. 2. I do like to eat the local fare and see what a city has to offer. And Jennifer and I already had dinner plans at a place called the Royal Scam! It just sounded fantastic.

Lecia had made the plans for us and she was arriving at 6:30 at the earliest, so we made 7:30 reservations and of course Jennifer just could not stop complaining how that was too late. It was just ranting and raving about how she wanted to be asleep by then. I politely interjected that we did eat late and it was better that we not eat early. She was not hearing any part of it demanding I call Lecia and find out how far out she was. I had to acquiesce for Jennifer is very tall and intimidating. When Lecia said she could not make it until 8:30 the decision was made and we went without her. It was a sad defeat but we did arrive for our reservation on time.

The rest of the night went without issue (shocking I know with Jennifer there). Lecia did join us for dinner! She was only a little late and a couple of Jennifer’s friends came along as well to enjoy the menu. The burgers were fantastic and Jennifer had to have the peanut butter cheesecake so we shared a slice. I barely got a couple bites in as Jennifer made sure she had her king’s share but it was fantastic! When we went to bed that night Jennifer informed us that we would not be leaving until 7:15 and no, she was not interested in a picture beforehand as she needed her “beauty sleep.” So yes, Lecia and I did miss the picture.

We did arrive to the start line with not much time to spare that morning and everyone was discussing the same thing – the meal the night before. There were stomach issues galore and several people said they had been kept up at night with trips to the restroom. I would find out later a few people would not even run due to the issue. Others would have issues kick in during the race. I guess I have yet another reason to skip the pasta feed the night before a race.


The picture I missed

Lecia and I made our way to the front. Last year a 3:38 was tenth overall so I think most of us were not expecting a fast crowd. It was not a chip timed race so that was another factor to start up front. If you started mid-pack that could mean you were at a thirty second disadvantage! We got the countdown and Lecia took off and I, well I started to go backwards! Finally after thirty seconds I started to surge ahead and catch Lecia a minute into the run and eventually move past her. I also caught Steve (who was doing the double too) and the two of us ran together for the first two miles. I lost him sometime after that and was able to hold my own with a steady pace after that.

Apparently I was not the only one who had a slow start because at Mile 5 I was passed by a couple fast runners. Another runner by me mentioned something about the shirt she was wearing as she was proudly wearing the Back 2 Back shirt we received for running both marathons. She explained it to him and I got into a conversation with her and her friend. She was the winning female from the day before and she seemed real sure she may win this race as well. They looked great and we were able to run and talk for the next three miles. Unfortunately a hill stole some of my power and I dropped back and lost them at Mile 8. Then as I another couple of runners picked me up, the guy runner told me he had won this race in the past!

As he told me how he had won, all I could think was, “And there is no way we are even in the top ten now!” And at this point I was still on a sub 3:20 pace. I mentioned this to my new friend and he replied, ‘I did run a 2:50 that year and a lot of these people will drop off when they hit the hills.’ Uh-oh. The people in front of me will not be the only ones dropping off when they hit those hills. And as the next hill came, my new friend moved on. A big hill came up at Mile 12 and the pain was great I just walked it. Lots of people passed me. There was no doubt. This race was much, much faster than the year before! Some people would later say it was because of the double but usually the second day of a double does not bring faster runners!

Just about the halfway point the course went downhill and it was time to coast! But I did not coast nor did I feel good. I would struggle up to Mile 23 and no one really wants me to go into great detail of every ache and pain, so instead I will just say it really was a great course. The miles around 13 were woodsy and had a secluded feel and after that even though we were running through suburbia it was nice even pavement and we were able to run through a college with energetic crowd support. We went through a nice park and a conservatory area. The volunteers were chatty and friendly the entire way, and bikers that went along the course were incredibly nice. There seemed to be people controlling every intersection and cars did not even come close to anyone I saw. And the crowd support was fantastic!

And then in the last three miles I got a second wind and a downhill surge! I started passing runners and felt great again. I came in at 3:40 and though certainly not my best – it was 17 minutes slower than the day before, usual. I loved that ending downhill. Seriously I did not have a single complaint other than if they really upped their game this could be a destination marathon – perhaps even the preferred Alabama race.

Some suggestions would be to start chip timing, offering gels and a significant medal. Chip timing is key, and runners will always complain if there are no gels. I think the idea of all monies going to L’Arche is fantastic and I would never not support a marathon for the medal but there will always be marathoners who go to a marathon for the medal and the medallion we earned would just not cut it with them. I am not an expert on any of this so please take it with a grain of salt. I just wish more runners would come see this awesome race. On another point, I am sorry for those with stomach issues. I hope that really did not ruin the entire day for you and I hope you noticed the greatness of the course.

I finished and the first person I saw was Steve. He passed me around Mile 16 and came in a couple minutes ahead of me. We looked at results and sure enough everyone in the Top 50 came in under 3:38 this year. I have not a clue where all the fast people came from and where they were hiding last year. Just around 3:50 new friend Jen Bakula came in. We had met the day before. She was the female runner who almost passed me in Mississippi! We talked for a couple minutes that day but after she finished on this day I got to know her as my new friend.

Jen is from California and an aspiring 50 stater. I talked to her about 50 sub 4 and met her friend that she had met on a cruise ship and gave her a ride to Mobile. She told me that she had signed up for the double on a whim – she may not even be a Marathon Maniac! It just amazes me how so many of us just have such a similar goal and start off on different paths and end up meeting at one point or another. The 50 states goal is a much more popular goal than you may possibly think. I hope I do get to see Jen again. There are not too many fast females out there that are willing to run as often as she is. She could become a name in our circles. I am currently trying to talk her into her next race!

Lecia came in under four and she was pleased. She was hoping for an improvement on her Boston Qualifier and calls me her lucky charm (I was there for her other two BQ’s and even got her BQ with me leading her in Maine!) Today was another good race but not an improvement. Unfortunately the good overall feeling was ruined by a certain tall lumbering runner crossing the finish line. Yes it was Jennifer. She bragged how she left Ethan in the dust and pretended that she felt bad about leaving him behind. Ethan would come in eventually and he was thrilled to keep his 4:30 going on day two. Ethan was running for a longer race on these two days.

We chatted for a while, took a picture, and started to head back. Lecia stayed behind and Ethan wandered off to his hotel. Jennifer had to get a coffee so we went into a local coffee shop.  There was only two people in front of us and I did not mind waiting but Jennifer just would not stop complaining about how long it took and how she wished she had never ordered it. I just tried to enjoy the ambience of the local flavor.

The trip ended soon enough with a trip to the airport and if there was one thing I had to take from the second day of my double it would be sometimes these small marathons can be the biggest gems. That and if you get a chance to run a marathon with Jennifer Hienton please take it! She just has a stellar personality.


I finally got my picture on race day!