Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mardi Gras Rock 'N' Roll Marathon

Remember that scene from Misery when Kathy Bates put that wooden block between James Caan's ankles and then takes a swing at it with a sledge hammer?  Ouch.  I remember spilling my Diet Coke all over my lap in the theater when I saw that film 20 years ago.  I still shiver thinking about that scene.  Well, something happened to my foot in Louisiana, and it had a very Misery-esque feel to it.  I don't think Kathy Bates was involved though, because I would have seen her sneaking around in my one star motel room in Harvey, LA, right outside of New Orleans.  Instead, I think it may have been the Travelocity Gnome.


All joking aside, something did happen to my right foot in the middle of the night.  I woke up with a very sharp pain, and it actually hurt when I moved.  I couldn't wiggle any of my toes.  Imagine the panic that ran through my head.  How could this have happened two days before the marathon?  To make matters worse, I had to check out of my motel room, return the rental car at the airport, and shuttle my way back into New Orleans.  My Mardi Gras room mate was not scheduled to arrive until later in the afternoon, so I had to hang out all day with a bum foot.  I would have rather just laid in bed with a pack of ice and a pillow under my foot, but instead I had to gimp around New Orleans. I did manage to make it out to the expo, which was great because I got to meet some of my favorite expo exhibitors.

If anyone needs a medal rack for their bling, I highly recommend Sports Hooks by Heavy Medalz.  Here's a shot of me with Marcy Frutis, the proprietor of this awesome company.  I have three custom hooks hanging on my wall and they are incredible.
Yes, I'm a Rock 'N' Roll groupie, what can I say.

After I picked up my bib and tech shirt, I limped my way back to my rental car.  It's very discouraging to see everyone so excited for race day and you're just inching along.  I seriously contemplated withdrawing from this event.  I came all the way to New Orleans and I really wanted to run this marathon, but I had to listen to my body.  As I made my way to the car, all I could think of was this being a game day decision.  If I am put on the injured reserve list, then so be it.

My day got better with the arrival of Dianasaur and Half Fanatic and future Marathon Maniac, Mohan.  After returning my rental car and shuttling back into New Orleans, I met up with these two buds of mine at The Marriott on 555 Canal Street.  It was so nice to be able to move into a real hotel!  I'm not a lodging snob by any means, but that hole in the wall in Harvey left a bitter taste in my mouth and a jabbing pain in my foot!  Needless to say, I did the gimpy dance of joy when I saw my two 'Saurs at the new hotel.  That night, while everyone else partied it up in NOLA, I nursed my bum foot in my room.  I'd like to give special thanks to Dr. Mohan, podiatrist to the running super heroes, for aiding this injured marathon caped crusader.

Come out and show your pointy little hat, Gnome! 

After a good night sleep with my foot elevated and iced up, I woke up feeling about 37% better.  Please don't ask me how I derived that number, I just pulled it out of my CamelBak.  I was able to walk in less pain than the day before, but I was nowhere near 100%.  I couldn't stand the cabin fever though, so I ventured out to the expo and then the French Quarter with Mohan, Dianasaur, and her parents.  We ate at The Napoleon House for lunch and after taking the last bite of my muffuletta, I excused myself and headed back to the hotel to rest my lame foot--and by "lame," I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense!  On another note, in case anyone is wondering, a muffuletta is a round-loaf sandwich traditionally filled with ham, salami, mozzarella, and a layer of chopped, marinated green olives, and is one culinary specialty of NOLA.  Muffuletta is not The Lion King's dad, as I had initially thought.  Ok, cooking class is over, back to this race report.  After lunch, I went back to the hotel room for some RICE.  (And yes, I was serious about the cooking lesson being done; by RICE, I mean rest, ice, compression, and elevation!)  By 7pm, I got cabin fever again and headed out to dinner with the 'Saurs.

It's always a fight to the finish, but this time around, Dianasaur helped the cripple to cross.  Mohan knocked out Dianasaur's mom to get his PR.  Bastard!
Carbing up!
That's me and Ethel!  Paging Dave Mari...



Guess where we went to dinner?  Bubba Gump's.  I wasn't really expecting to end up at this chain restaurant while in New Orleans, but this is Dianasaur's dad's all time favorite restaurant.  I was ok with it.  I had my scampi and was happy as a shrimp.  Yes, I know the idiom is happy as a clam, but since we did eat at Bubba Gump's, I felt it is appropriate that I substitute that mollusk with a crustacean.  After dinner, we all turned in early.  I got back to the hotel room, put my race gear together, checked the closet and under the bed for any evil gnomes, hopped into bed, elevated that bum foot, and closed my eyes.  Before snoozing away, I sent a telepathic message to Mr. Sandman to not only bring me a dream, but to fix my foot for the marathon.


Unfortunately, I woke up the next morning and that lame foot of mine had not reached 100%.  At this point I had three options:
  • Complete a marathon in 7.5 hours by walking as fast as I could.
  • Downgrade to a half marathon and comfortably finish the race.
  • Stand from the sidelines and cheer my running buddies.
Well, I didn't come all the way to New Orleans to quit, so option C was out of the question.   At this point, I realized that the only way I could finish this marathon was to move up to the earliest corral that I could.  With some help of my Maniac friends, I was able to sneak into corral 6.  You know how hard it is sneaking Endorphin Dude around?  This marathon caped crusader stands out, and the Mardi Gras Endorphin suit can be spotted from a mile away!

If anyone is looking for a cape, I highly recommend the folks at Power Capes.  These peeps make super hero capes for children's parties, but as you can see, they make them for adults too!  They are very good at what they do!  


Here's the custom designed Mardi Gras Endorphin suit.  Oh, did you notice the Power Capes website there?  Yup, these peeps are my first official sponsor!  So get out there and get some capes made for your kid's next party!  Better yet, get your order in before the Halloween rush!

By getting into corral 6, I was guaranteed an additional half an hour.  I felt much better knowing this, even though I knew my foot was not liking me much that morning.  I just had to get my mind off of the pain and go for it.  It helped that I was surrounded by my marathon buddies.

Of course, we had to have the obligatory group picture!  Special thanks to Dave Mari for coordinating this.  This guy makes sure we have a group shot for every race!
Big applause to Stephanie Arango for earning her 10 stars!
I love running these marathons because I get to finally meet up with FB friends!  Here's Endorphin Dude with Barbara Sturm Mayer.  Lookin' good!
So glad to finally meet this Half Fanatic! Will Amy be committed to the insane asylum anytime in the near future? To be continued...
Meet Lyle.  Lyle is in training to become the next E-Dude.  He's got the pose down.
The Monkey Man, The Italian Stallion, and Endorphin Dude.  Is Mardi Gras ready for this trio??
And there's the start line!

On your mark, get set, GOOOOO!!!!  I made sure that I pulled to the side so that the fast runners would push and shove to get around me.  I took it very slow to the point where speed walkers were passing me up.  I did feel pain in the foot, but not enough to make me pull out.  What kept me going was the crowd support from both the runners and the volunteers and spectators.  As much as I tried to hide the injury, people knew from my gait that something was wrong.  I received a lot of "keep going!" from the folks on and off the course, which helped me plug along.  When I reached the five mile mark, I had the option of dropping down to the half marathon.  I was tempted, but out of nowhere, my YOU-SO-ASIAN bud, Lu-E, ran up to me and said he'd kick my ass if I did so!  I got scared, so I had to do what he said.  Lu-E is Asian Gangsta, so I didn't wanted to mess with him!  Thankfully, he paced me for the next half mile before I told him to pick it up and keep running.  After he zoomed off, I met a bunch of Maniacs.

This was at the half marathon/marathon split. Wouldn't you be scared if this Gangsta Thug told you he'd kick your ass if you didn't finish the marathon?  I was frightened for my life, so I continued!
I love to run with Love To Run Donna. Love you Diva!
I always love seeing Sherry Ricker on the course.  Only problem was that I didn't recognize her with the Mardi Gras mask on!  It's a good thing she saw the cape!  Like me, Sherry had an injury that day.  She ran through the pain and got to the finish line.  Big congrats to you, Sherry!
It's Carol Gosling, "The Flower Lady."  I wear a cape, she wears flowers!
Elaine will have to add a few more stars to this singlet.
I believe it was at the 10 mile mark that I saw these running peeps!  They zoomed past me!

I reached the half marathon point in 3:24:25, which still put me on track to finishing this marathon in the allotted time.  The only problem was that I was slowing down dramatically by the 15 mile mark.  The constant pounding continued to aggravate the injury, but I kept going.  When I reached mile 18, I once again had the option to veer off and take that half marathon finish.  There was no Asian Thug around this time to threaten me, and I seriously considered dropping out.  As much pain and fatigue as my body was feeling, I kept thinking about the Pacifica Trail 50k when the race directors pulled me off the course at the 18 mile mark when I didn't make the halfway cut off time.  I had no choice then.  This time I did, and I kept telling myself that if I pulled myself off the course, then I would never forgive myself.  I kept repeating this in my head as I ignored that detour sign and jogged past it.  The next two miles were rough, but it got better from miles 20-23 when I hit the back part of the out and back.  Yes, I was way back in the pack, but receiving all the high fives and words of encouragement from all the runners ahead of me made all the difference.  I got that strength to keep moving!

I couldn't believe it when Larry Macon shouted out "Endorphin Dude!" when he passed me. That's like the president of United States calling you by your first name! I had never met Larry in person before, let alone get a photo with him! This was an awesome moment.
It was odd seeing Donna Loud outside of her trademark Hefty Bag couture!
When I saw Marathon Maniac Joe at the expo, I didn't recognize him.  That's because he didn't have on his trademark hat!
There's Marathon Maniac Diva Annette Blanton.  Believe it or not, underneath that hat is lots of golden locks!
Hmm.  Who is Charles Sayles calling?  A cab?
More Maniacs!!!
Shortly after taking this photo, the sag wagon approached. Dianasaur told to to hustle or I'd be swept! Dude, I still had a 10k!
I absolutely love this picture of me and Dave Mari. It looks like the Monkey Man is dissing Endorphin Dude in this shot, but what really happened was Dave was really concerned that I would be swept! He was at his mile 24 and I was still at 21, and I was in real danger of the sag wagon picking me up. He was like, no pics! You gotta hustle!

I'm not going to lie.  The final 5k was rough.  Seeing all the runners zoom by gave me that burst of energy, but after that, I was alone.  There were a few peeps behind and ahead of me, but for those final three miles, I trekked the streets of Louisiana by myself.  I kept plugging along trying to stay focused on the finish line and not on my foot.  And then it happened...

OH NO YOU DIDDINT!

At the mile 23 mark, the sag wagon pulled up next to me. The sliding door open and I ran faster. The wagon sped up. I turned back and shouted, "Go away Sag Dude! You ain't pickin' me up! I'm gonna frickin' finish this race!!" The guy started laughing as he explained, "I'm giving you water! Keep going Endorphin Dude! You'll make it!" Ah, sweet relief.  The last thing I wanted was to get picked up.  Imagine how awful that would be, reaching the 23 mile mark and getting swept.  Not me!

I got slower and slower by mile 24, and though the sag peeps said they weren't going to pick me up, I kept looking over my shoulder and seeing them.  I kept plugging along.  Never ever before have I been followed by not just the sag wagon, but an ambulance and a fire truck for the final three miles!  I guess it helped knowing that they were on my tail because I knew I couldn't slack off.

When I reached the 26 mile mark, all I could do was cheer in my head.  I picked up the pace and jogged my way to the finish line.  The Marathon master of ceremonies gleefully annouced, "It's Endorphin Dude!  YOU FINALLY MADE IT!  We've been waiting for you!"  I smiled from ear to ear.  For those final .2 miles, all the pain went away, and all I could feel was sheer euphoria.  I looked to my left and saw Dianasaur, her mom and Mohan cheering me on.  I saw my new friends, Cora and Stephanie with Endorphin signs!  I also saw all the Competitor employees tear down the finish line.  Believe it or not, folks, Endorphin Dude was the last to cross the finish line.  Yup, this marathon caped crusader finished 3140 out of 3140 marathoners.  When you configure in the 10,262 half marathoners, Endorphin Dude holds the distinction of finishing dead frickin' last out of 13,402 runners.  That number is so big that I had to put a comma in to separate it!

Titanium scoreboard: 6 down, 46 to go.  Woo Hoo!

I am proud to announce that Endorphin Dude did not DNF!  In the running community, these dreaded three letters stand for "Did Not Finish."  In the Endorphin Empire, they stand for "Dude!  No Flunking!"  I continued to repeat this mantra in my head over and over again and that got me to the finish line.  At the end of the day, what got me to there was my heart.  I pulled from experience and pretty much told my body that I've been through worse, so just suck it up and get the job done.  Indeed I did.  This was lucky #13 for me, and I take great pride in knowing that I was able to keep composure and finish this tough race.

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