winging it: a how-to (not) story

I take full responsibility for my lack of preparedness for the Louisiana Half Marathon. This story is not cringe-worthy or hard to read, though. It is better described as miraculous, considering that I didn’t give-up or pass out.

Warning: I do not condone or recommend this as a method of half-marathon preparation. I want to tell my story in hopes that it will motivate you to train your butt off.

I signed up for the Louisiana Half Marathon in the Fall. Kevin and I had just completed the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, and I was still riding the high from completing that race. I thought, “Why not? Maybe I’ll even sign up for the marathon!”

I did not, obviously. My only thoughts on my marathon close-call is: dodged that bullet.

When it’s August, January seems light years away. I was training and running, but I figured I’d wait until close to October or November to really push it into gear for the half.

My running buddies were great. They were running every day and inviting me to join; sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. I was probably averaging around five or six miles a week.

I suffered a minor set-back when I twisted my ankle, for what seemed like the one-millionth time. Sometimes I question whether or not I was taught to walk properly; mom, dad…what’s the deal here?

Around November, I got my second wind and a fresh pair of shoes. My new attitude and Mizuno Wave Rider 15s were going to carry me across that finish line.

Bam. Decemeber, with it’s cookies, Christmas dinners and parties hit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you want to make time for something, you will. I just didn’t want to make time to run bad enough.

It wasn’t until January that I realized I better get my training in gear. I’m nothing if not always fashionably late to the party, even if it is a running one.

A few weeks before, Jenny Norris (also a writer for this running section) mentioned using the Jeff Galloway method to increase speed. The method uses a walk/run ratio to help keep your body from getting exhausted. I decided to try it out.

I went for a seven mile run using his 3:1 ratio, and other than a bit of discomfort in my hip, I felt great. So, it was decided, I would use this method for my impending 13.1 mile run.

The weekend of the race had arrived and both sets of parents were visiting, mine and Kevin’s, as it was my birthday and we were both running. Happy birthday to me, eh?

I had decided on a strenuous 2:1 ratio. Basically, I would run for two minutes and walk for one throughout the entire race. It seemed tedious, but I was willing to give anything a shot.

The first six miles flew by and I could hardly believe that I was almost half way through the race. I didn’t even mind the dreaded North Blvd overpass. My body felt great and my legs weren’t feeling tired at all.

To be honest, all I could think about was what I was going to be eating after the race. Thoughts of hamburgers, jambalaya and french fries danced through my head.

During the race I was really impressed with the huge Louisiana Marathon mile markers and the abundance of water stations. I was so focused on doing the right run to walk ratio, that things sort of passed in a blur.

At mile nine, my body began feeling a bit tired. My legs were feeling weary and my right arm was going numb, oddly. Considering my long run before the race was seven, this was not a shock to me. I didn’t feel miserable, though, so I pushed it out of my head and counted on my fingers that I only had four more miles to go (math is not my strong suit).

By the time we had reached the point where we were heading back downtown towards the finish line, I had given up on my ratio. I would pick a point in the distance and try to reach it by running as fast as I could, then walk a minute.

Then, I spotted that North Blvd overpass that had seemed like such a minor inconvenience on the way out. It looked like a mountain now. At its highest point, I looked over to my left just in time to spot Matt Manning, who won the marathon, passing me. I was tempted to throw him over.

Suddenly, there was a crowd, music and the smell of delicious food. I pulled myself out of my walk/run haze and put my running in to a faster gear. I was about to cross the finish line and stuff my face with food.

And wouldn’t you know it, I did exactly that. The funniest part, is that the walk/run ratio allowed me to shave a minute off my half marathon time. I set a PR.

The one thing I was irritated about, was the fact that I had knowingly stayed to the outer edges of the race course, as not to get in the way of other runners while I was walking. This kept me from running tangents.

I ended up running 13.87 miles at an 11:56 pace, which sadly put my time at 2:44.

So, other than making me sound like the world’s biggest slacker, I’m hoping this story will motivate you to not put off your training. Just do it.

You won’t ever regret going for a run, but when you cross the half marathon finish line at 2:44 without training, you’ll always wonder how much faster you could have gone.

Best part? I’ve already signed up for the 2013 Louisiana Marathon.

bite and booze

12-17-11 Rivers Hughey Claim Your Journey. (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MY EPISODE)

Recently, I was lucky enough to be a guest on the Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro’s Market and hosted by food blogger, Jay Ducote.

I’ve been keeping up with Jay since we moved to Baton Rouge, especially since he was one of the 100 amateur chefs chosen to be on the second season of MasterChef. Kevin and I can not watch enough reality cooking television…honestly, it’s become a problem.

Jay blogs about his culinary and cultural food experiences in and around Louisiana. Along with his Bite and Booze Radio Show, he also co-hosts a radio program called “Raise a Glass” which features history, culture, production, and enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. He has been featured in the media so many times, I am not even going to try to list them. Basically, people love this guy.

Jay decided a month ago to begin filming a documentary about weight loss and making healthy lifestyle changes, so we discussed things such as (but not limited to) running, healthy eating, Claim Your Journey and…roasting a pig.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit nervous. Some of you may know I was a DJ in college, but that only required me to talk about music and pre-record commercials. I was never expected to talk for extended periods of time (even though, I’m sure you all know that talking isn’t something I have trouble with).

Jay was an excellent host and made me forget we were even recording. I had a blast and can’t wait to continue keeping up with his radio show and documentary, as I’m sure it will be a hit.

Be sure to “like” Bite and Booze on Facebook and “follow” it on Twitter!

the final countdown

Well, my 30 days are up. Here is a final update on my bucket list. I completed as many items as I could, plus I added a few other fun things that happened for good measure.

This experience made me so much more willing to try new things, even if they weren’t on my list. I realize, now, that’s how life should be lived. We should all be trying new and interesting things each day; we should try things that scare us; we should try things that empower us; we should especially take advantage of each day that we have and try our hardest to look back without regretting something we didn’t do.

Even though I didn’t cross off every item on my list, that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to cross them off. Before you know it I’ll be speaking French so well that your head will be spinning. Ok..ok…maybe not, but you get the idea.

Happy 2012.

bucket list

  • Walk my dog for an hour each day
  • Take a photography lesson
  • Try at least 3 new (to me) and interesting restaurants
  • Go see a play
  • Run a 5K in under 30 minutes
  • Decorate my office
  • Try boxing at LA Boxing
  • Redesign my closet
  • Cook a recipe out of each of my cookbooks
  • Try meditating
  • Write a short story
  • Learn conversational French
  • Ride my bike once a week
  • Throw a Christmas party
  • Go to Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
  • Go listen to three live bands I’m not familiar with
  • Go to a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School
  • Make something and frame it
  • Write a letter to each of my friends
  • Go on a picnic
  • Go on a date once a week with my husband
  • Go to Corks ‘N Canvas

Ok, so there are plenty of other things I would like to do, but I only have 30 days to complete this list. I hope that we can enjoy this journey together and I hope that you can cross off some your items, as well.

[This idea originally came from Talent Revolution's 30 Day Personal Revolution - Lifestyle Challenge and then was developed in Baton Rouge by Last in Concept]

trail running

Last Saturday, Oct. 22, I ran my first trail race. The 2nd Annual Cane Field Classic on Margaret Plantation in Port Allen, La. may not have been your typical “trail run,” but I absolutely fell in love.

Initially, I had decided not to run the race. My husband, Kevin, signed up and I was going to be there solely for moral support. On the morning of the race, with a little encouragement from Kevin, I decided it would be a fun opportunity and a great way to try out my new breathing exercises.

Since I don’t own any actual trail shoes, I laced up a pair of my old running shoes and was ready to go.

Luckily, we arrived 30 minutes early and were able to enjoy the pre-race atmosphere. The plantation was absolutely gorgeous as the sun rose above it.

The 4-mile run started shortly after 8 a.m. As a runner, I could not have asked for better race day weather, with temperatures staying cool and the sun shining all morning.

The majority of the race lead me through lanes of sugarcane, which were in decent condition, with a few ruts and tire tracks. At one point the course turned into a wooded area for about a mile.

The best part of the course was seeing the state’s Capital in the horizon.

As I ran I focused on breathing deeply into my stomach, which made me feel ridiculous. It feels bizarre that I have to retrain my body to breathe correctly.

I had never seen mature sugarcane crops before and I was surprised at how tropical it felt to run amongst them. At one point my shuffle played “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield and with the crops around me and the sun beating down on my face, I felt like I was in the Vietnam scene from Forrest Gump.

I realized at the 2-mile mark that I felt absolutely fine. I was having no ankle or breathing problems (FINALLY). At the turn for the last mile, I could taste the finish…literally. There was so much dust from the running lanes that I could feel it in my mouth.

As I crossed the finish line, I was reminded of why I run. Clearly it is not to be fast, as my time could use some work, but the feeling of accomplishment you get from completing any race is a rush.

My first trail running experience was complete and I had a blast. It was interesting having to watch your footing with every step you took, but the scenery was completely worth it. It was a nice change from my typical training runs around the LSU Lakes.

This race was the first time I’ve felt good running in a while and it was definitely the push I needed to get back on track in training for the Louisiana Half Marathon.

After the race, we were treated to freshly cut sugarcane – a first for me. There was also jambalaya and an authentic French Cajun band.