The 2014 Gulf Coast Half Marathon

October 22, 2014 | Comment

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The 2014 Gulf Coast Half Marathon promised to be bigger and better for its 5th year anniversary and it sure was.

I started my week off with doing an interview with WGNO ABC 26 to talk about running the race in uniform and raising money for the Special Olympics. I was super nervous to be on TV especially since I was fighting a cold and felt terrible. Even with my raspy phlegm voice I managed to pull it off and get the word out. To see the interview go here: http://wgno.com/2014/10/16/mandeville-officer-to-run-half-marathon-in-uniform/

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The race weekend festivities started off with the .1K….yes as in 300 feet….Friday night at the Barley Oak on the Mandeville Lakefront.  The newly introduced race was a spoof of longer races and the car stickers that come with them. For example 26.2  and 50K. Registrants received a .1K shirt, a .1K car sticker, and plenty of Abita Beer.

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The race started at sunset at 6:00pm and the course was about one block. The greatest thing about this race: a lady in business attire came in 1st place.  It was truly a race for everyone!

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The after party was right where the pre-party began at The Barley Oak. Abita Beer provided the refreshments and there were plenty of giveaways from The Gulf Coast crew.

I was excited to finally meet Maria from Special Olympics. We have talked on the phone and emailed plenty but we finally got to meet in person. For those who don’t know I ran the half-marathon to raise money for the Special Olympics and the Gulf Coast Half Marathon officially partnered with them this year.

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A few beers and a few hours later it was time for the Jones 5K. This race is traditionally held in November but it was moved to the day before the Gulf Coast Half Marathon this year for a great reason. The Jones 5K and the Gulf Coast Half Marathon are now part of the Back 2 Back Challenge. Those who complete both races got a special medal.

The race was held at Varsity Sports Mandeville on Saturday morning. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. The temperature was in the lower 60s and there was plenty of sunshine.

The course took runners from Varsity Sports to the  Lakefront then back to Varsity Sports via the neighborhoods of Old Mandeville.

I was not sure how I would do in this race let alone the next day’s half marathon. The dog bite on my leg that I had gotten about six weeks before put quite the damper on my training. After two weeks of not running at all I slowly built up my miles and endurance but the damage, literally and figuratively, was done. I did not have my usual speed and the longest run I accomplished was five miles. Needless to say it did not leave me very confident heading into these races. The icing on the cake was the sore throat and runny nose I got a few days prior to the race…..and then there was the kidney stone. Through the miracle of Zicam, Mucinex, and BC powder I was feeling like a new person Thursday night.

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I started off the race trying to run as fast as I could. I managed to finish the first mile around 7:30. The weather felt great and I felt ok but I did not have my usual speed. I finished the second mile around the 7:40 mark. I finished the 5K in 24:02. I was disappointed because I usually run in the 22-23 minute range but I had to keep reminding myself I was coming off of an injury. I came in 3rd overall and 1st age group.

The post race party had breakfast from the Broken Egg Cafe and plenty of refreshments including Smoothie King. To say there were a lot of door prizes would be an understatement. The Jones 5K has the most prizes out of any race I have ever seen. One lucky winner won the grand prize of a BBQ Pitt!

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The prizes for the age group winners were Jones 5K coffee mugs complete with packets of hot chocolate and the overall winners won running shoes from Brooks!

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It was a fun morning and the proceeds from the race benefited Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in Mandeville.

Now for the big event: The Gulf Coast Classic!

I woke myself and my husband up Sunday morning at 5:00am. I put on my police uniform, duty belt, and running shoes and headed to the race.

It was still dark when we arrived at Fontainebleau State Park and there were eager, excited runners everywhere.

We met up with my parents  and friends and I started warming up for the race. I wasn’t nervous but I was hoping I wouldn’t have any issues with my duty belt throughout the race.

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It was finally time for the race start at 7:00am. Mike Wattigny, the race director, called me to the front of the starting line and introduced me and announced I was running for the Special Olympics.

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After the national anthem we were off! The first mile was by far the toughest for me. It is usually my easiest but I think my body was trying to get over the shock of the extra 20-25 pounds of weight. My knees were definitely not happy. I managed to find my rhythm and was keeping steady around the 9:18 pace.

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My husband always laughs and teases me about the “Twitter friends” I have and know everything about but have never met. Luckily for me I met Nicole in person for the first time around the mile 2 mark and she kept me company for a while. Between having strangers and friends run with me, the high fives, fist bumps, selfies (yes one girl ran on the side of me and took a selfie with me), and the cheers I was more than motivated. I wish I could thank each and every person because they got me through this race.

Mile 5 took us to the Mandeville Lakefront. I started the get the proverbial monkey on my back and was really feeling sluggish. The one good thing was it was very breezy and the cool wind off of the lake helped with the heat from running in head to toe polyester. I got some motivation from a co-worker working the route in the form of a high-five and some company from a fellow 15th Street Flyer. I was back in the game.

I was on pace to complete the half in under two hours at mile 7. I got a nice surprise of my best friend Erica cheering for me at mile 8 in addition to some really excited co-workers who were jumping up and down cheering and blowing air horns.

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Miles 9 through 12 took us out of Old Mandeville and onto the St. Tammany Trace. I slowed down significantly and the idea of a sub 2 hour half slipped away. The extra weight was just too much and my back and knees were hurting. Little did I know there would be a surprise for me at mile 12.

We turned off of the Trace onto the park drive for the final stretch. My good friend, Paul, who is a Louisiana State Trooper, his co-worker, and my friend and co-worker, Otto, were all waiting to escort me to the finish line. I had the privilege of a two police units and a motorcycle bringing me in. Did I mention they were playing “Bad Boys” (The COPS theme) on the loudspeaker? Gotta love cop humor.

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I finally made it to the finish line and completed the half marathon in 2 hours 11 minutes. I felt amazing and was greeted by my family, friends, and co-workers.

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The post race party included live music, food from Mugshots Burgers, stretching and massages from Jones Physical Therapy, and plenty of delicious Abita Beer. The Woman’s Half Marathon, The Louisiana Marathon, and the new Zydeco Marathon were also present with upcoming race information.

I stayed in my uniform for all of 20 minutes. I could hear my back and knees rejoice when I finally took off my duty belt. After a quick change it was time to enjoy the festivities with friends and family!

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The awards ceremony concluded the day and those of us who completed the Back 2 Back Challenge received our medals.

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The race and all of the events leading up to it were an amazing experience. I don’t have the numbers yet but hopefully we raised a lot of money for the Louisiana Special Olympics. You can still donate at www.laso.org Click the blue donate button at the top of the page and donate any amount you want. Put “Mandeville Police” in the “In Tribute” line.

I want to thank my husband, family, friends, fellow runners, 15th Street Flyers, Mike Wattigny and the Gulf Coast Team, Maria and the Special Olympics, The Mandeville Police Department, The Louisiana State Troopers, and anyone else who supported this crazy idea I had. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

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