SparkPeople Members Take on New Orleans

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Late last summer a few members on the Road Runners SparkTeam started chatting on the threads about doing the Mardi Gras Rock 'N Roll Half-Marathon and Marathon in New Orleans on February 28th. My co-leader of the team, Gail (AKA Rhynic) was one of the those members talking about making the trek from Nova Scotia to New Orleans. She and her dear friend Tammy (AKA TamTam64) made plans to run this race together with their husbands.

Once I heard they would be doing this race-- and since this was probably the closest-distance wise-Gail and I would be (I live in Texas, she in Canada), I too, jumped at the opportunity to join my pals. Before Tammy and Gail knew it, they had members traveling from Alaska, California, New York, Toronto, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado and Virginia. They even had a local Louisianan and a SparkPeople Member from Illinois make arrangements to come to New Orleans to cheer us all on.

I have had the honor to meet a few of the SparkPeople Members at our conventions in San Diego and Cincinnati, but this will be the first time we will all be running/walking 13.1 miles or 26.2 together as a SparkTeam. Because this is about our team, I asked our members if they would be willing to share their thoughts about their trip. I hope you enjoy the journey.

TamTam64 (AKA Tammy)-- I never dreamed that when I made my commitment to run my first full marathon in New Orleans that I would also be meeting some close SparkFriends. Coming back from an ankle injury, I was ready to train for a full. It was "now or never". I mentioned to Gail that I would be running the Rock & Roll Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans. She mentioned that she thought that would be a fun race to run. Before I know it, she and I made arrangements for her to come stay with me and run the marathon! Then one by one more running Sparkers decided to come. I remember seeing the thread on Road Runners "Would you like to join us" and literally got overwhelmed with emotion. It's hard to put it into words. The thought of them being there as I run my first marathon makes me feel part of a very special group - we are all different , but running and SparkPeople is our bond--and what a bond it is!

FELIXC (AKA Rhonda) --I think it will be like meeting up with people at the SparkConvention in Cincinnati--so much fun putting faces with names/SparkNames! I can't wait to learn from the more experienced runners on the team on how they trained, what their plan for race day is, etc. And what a city to be in! Super Bowl champions, Mardi Gras last week and now the Sparkers descend upon the city!

GLADGAD (AKA Carolyn)-- Itís amazing to me that people who have never met can connect based solely on a mutual interest. I think it speaks volumes for the power of the human spirit to be able to meet the people who have inspired and motivated me for the past two years is fantastic--something I didnít think was possible. The people I am meeting this weekend have played a big part in my being a half marathoner and a triathlete, and I am grateful to all of those who worked so hard into organizing this weekend.

APPLEPIEDREAMS (AKA Vanessa)-- I know from going to the SparkCovnention in Cincinnati, that it will be amazing to meet SparkPeople. I am so excited about it that I keep imagining myself as the Tasmanian Devil, spinning around and around and around and eating through trees (great source of fiber!) with all the excess enthusiasm I have for this trip!

MBSHAZZER (AKA Sharon)-- I am really excited to meet this wonderful group of women (and one lone man!) and finally put a voice to the incredible support, advice and encouragement they have all given me over the years! There is nothing more special than running with friends, and I know that sharing a race experience with such a unique group of people will be the highlight of my year!

COOPSM (AKA Beth)--I am finally going to meet some of my biggest motivators and teachers who showed me the way, have been with me for the ups and downs, the good runs and the not so good. I am going to meet my friends for the first time and have a chance to run with them in my first HM--what an experience this will be I can't wait to share this time with them--what a great trip this will be!

MOM2ALEX2004 (AKA Jill)-- Take 1 part first half marathon nerves, 1 part travel to a new city, 1 part meeting 15-20 SparkFriends for the first time. Wow! The nerves & excitement have been jangling for weeks! The race would be an incredible experience to start with; sharing it with Sparkers makes it so much better!

MISSJCISRUNNING (AKA Jackie)-- Being a long time SparkPeople member, I have met several other SparkPeople at various events and races in the past but New Orleans has taken on a new meaning for me. This is the first time I will be running with so many new people and sharing in so many firsts, like Tammy running her first marathon and Beth running her first half marathon! I remember when Dani and Vanessa first started running! Sharon has always been an inspiration to me-one day I would love to break a 2 hour 1/2 and she does it so effortlessly!!! I remember the day I ran my first 1/2 marathon, it was the same day Gail ran her first marathon! The best of all was sharing so many emotions with Nancy as we both became MARATHONERS on the same day over 2000 miles apart! These ladies have become more than names and icons on a page but real friends who have taken every step of this journey with me! I can't wait to meet these ladies face to face as we continue to reach milestones that just a few years ago were unthinkable!

TIGGER622 (AKA Dani)--I never knew that I could be so close and depend so much on people that I have never even met. After the Ohio SparkPeople Convention, I couldn't wait to meet up with Spark buddies again. These people that are so important to me in virtual life are even MORE inspirational in person! It is so refreshing and so fulfilling to meet and share time with people who value a healthy lifestyle and set their sights high, and push me to do the same. They have inspired me to reach new goals and new limits and to share this race and this weekend with them has been the light I have been looking towards for months!

FREEDOMSTAR (AKA John) Im excited to try my first destination race. New Orleans somewhere I've always wanted to visit, and right after they won first super bowl ever what timing. What's truly special about this trip is meeting SparkPeople face to face , after being a support for each other over the past 1 1/2 year. I've gone from no running to running running 1/2 marathon and coach Nancy and everyone on our SparkTeams were there every step of the way from having bad runs, or training set backs, injuries or personal or family struggles to celebrating our triumphs, personal records, or simply cheering each other on for getting back on track. Most of all we are thankful for Chris Downie for making it all possible. Im running with the big kids now New Orleans Rock and Roll Mardi Gras Marathon here we go Woo Hoo ! So if you happen to live in the New Orleans area come on down on Sunday, February 28th and join us--as the old saying goes, "the more the merrier!"

Have you met up with other members you met on SparkPeople? How was the experience? Has this inspired you to meet your fellow SparkPeople members?

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Anyone going to do New Orleans in 2011? Report
Another fun run story, love it! Report
Run, FORREST, Run! Report
Yes we have met up. The SparkMadison Team gets together and walk twice a month from Spring through Autumn....we have even had one picnic together...Great fun and really great people. In two weeks many of us are walking/running the Shamrock Shuffle a local charity race and we also have a team set up for the March of Dimes March for Babies walk in May! Report
Having all my Spark Buddies there as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon was incredible!

I had the best weekend with all these Sparkers. Lots of Laughs & Lots of Memories... I am ready to do it again in Miami 2011! Report
It was a great race and great fun. I was thrilled to meet my SparkFriend and Warrior Sister SUEZETTE-414 after all the chatting we have done through our many battles. And of course, who wouldn't love to meet Coach Nancy - motivation abounds! Hope we get to meet up again in the near or distant future - anyone for Denver Rock-n-Roll in October???? I know I'll be there! Report
I'm a bit sad that Nancy didn't receive my email with my thoughts on being there, but I was there!! And meeting everyone was absolutely awesome! Report
We are back! We did it! And it was more than I ever imagined it would be - what a great experience! Blog to come later!!! Report
What fun!! I so wish I could have joined the group for this race. Next time there is a big SP running event like this, count me in!!! Report
What a wonderful weekend it was! It is my hope that every Sparker gets the opportunity to meet at least one other Sparker in their lifetimes! :D Report
I hope and trust that no Sparkers attempted to have a drink in every bar on Bourbon Street while in NOLA. I tried that once and my head still hurts thinking about it.

Waiting for race reports and wondering how many Sparkers are entered in the Pittsburgh Marathon. Report
I've met up with fellow Sparklers, we tooka hike together last April. Really enjoyed the adventure and the new friends. Report
Meeting fellow Sparkers is the greatest! A group of us met last summer for a run/walk and for many of us it was our first meet. We had a great time. A couple of our Portland local people, Kate (keekman) and Mike (kayakid) decided it would be fun to put together a Hood to Coast team (the largest relay race in the world). And after they're hard work, we got in the lottery (only 1,000 teams).

We will have runners from around the country and Canada. I can't wait to meet mor SP friends, and you Nancy! Report
Yes--we'll all want to hear about your fabulous trip and the race.

I met Brian36 at the Cook Forest Half Marathon last year; this year we're meeting up again to run the Pittsburgh Marathon. And UROPA40 and friends are going to meet Brian36 and me to run the Cook Forest Half Marathon at the end of March. I am so excited to meet another Sparker. Report
You'll let us know how it was, right?????? Report
I wish I had read this a day earlier. I would have been in attendance. Oh well...I hope everyone enjoyed the experience. Report
Hmmm... I just met some of my SparkPals on a recent trip to Texas, too (wink-wink). It was awesome!! ♥ Report
wow!!! What an opportunity! Hope everyone had safe trips to and from 'Nawlens and enjoyed connecting with Team mates! Report
Our local SparkTeam have rallies often. It is great meeting other SparkTeam members. Report
That sounds great, and like everyone had a good experience. It would be nice to meet other members. Report
I SOOO wish that I could have been there today with you all; maybe next year.

I've met some of my best friends through Spark. We regularly get together to do things. I think one of the best reasons to meet up with your fellow local Sparks is that you already have a common interest; getting healthy. I regularly forgo meeting with co-workers to spend time with my Spark friends. Report
WOW - I am so glad that yall came to New Orleans. It is a fun race - what did do you think of Audubon park? On a personal note - I want to thank all of you - all of you - (written twice on purpose) THIS is the first time I have read about a event in New Orleans that didn't mention 5 years ago - we are moving on - and while we are thankful for the help we recieved - it is nice NOT to always have that as a reference point. It is kinda like saying to someone your life before you divorced someone vs after. etc..... New Orleans is soooo much more than that event - and I am so glad that people could come here and have a good (and safe) time. Hope this makes sense - Report
CURSES! I live in the Big Easy and I would have loved to cheer you guys on. Unfortunately I didn't learn about it soon enough to plan to be back home from a trip to Houston in time. Maybe next year? Report
Having had a wonderful experience meeting long distance Spark friends this summer, I know that you all have had a wonderful time together. My best friend here on spark, from Vancouver, Canada, flew in to stay with me for 3 weeks in June and we went to Lancaster and met up with a Spark friend from New Jersey and one from upper Pennsylvannia. We had a fantastic time together(check out my blogs on the visits). Plus when I went to the airport, another Spark friend came to meet me there and keep me company. And then I discovered some local Sparklers and we have been meeting semi regular and I now have a walking partner or 2 on Saturdays. I highly recommend meeting up with some of the people who motivate you. Report
Said a prayer for safe arrivals, races and return home for all - I'm sure it was great can't wait to hear all about it! Report
That is so cool!!! I'm part of a SP hiking team in Colorado & I love meeting the people I'm getting to know on SP in person!
I'm thinking SP needs to organize SP conventions!!!! Report
Best of luck to all of you-enjoy yourselves! Report
I met my very first spark friend in November 2007, in Jamaica of all places! We met on another mb and she was the one who suggested spark to me. We've been back again to Jamaica with them and hope to do it again!

I still have to meet one friend from Illinois somewhere, sometime! Report
WOO HOO !! Congratulations to all the Sparkers who participated in New Orleans. I LOVE New Orleans. it's an awesome city ! Report
WOOHOO!!!! All the Best to my sparkfriends!!!

I'll cheer you all from here. Report
Thant's wonderful. Good Luck!!!! Report
Good luck everyone, can't wait to hear about the race! Report
I'm so proud of my fellow road runners!!! May the wind be at your back today! May you run with your hearts and enjoy every minute of what you are achieving. May the memories last and last and last! So looking forward to your race reports!! Atta girls and high fives all around!
Hugs and run strong!!
May you all run with wings on your feet, and smiles on your faces--well, as much as anyone running a marathon CAN smile...Joy to you. Report
So far the only ones that I know are people that I've referred. Great job in all of you getting together for the marathon. I'll be rooting for you all day! Report
I'll be pulling for all of you! Best of luck, and thanks for sharing your excitement and enthusiasm! Report
I wish I could be there to cheer you on, but I'm with you in spirit cheering you on from snowy Upstate New York! Report
I'm a member of the Columbia, SC team. We are 3400 members strong, and we hold a SparkRally every month. Though only a handful of us show up each month (about 11....we dub ourselves the "regulars") we have a great time. We meet up, then walk about 3 miles, and lately we have created a TEAM vision collage. We were the winners of the Spread the Spark contest in which the prize was advertised to be be a call from Chris "Sparkguy" Downie, the founder, CEO of Sparks. The call never came. We were stood up twice, January, and February. Did that disappoint the team? YES! Did that derail the team from charging on? NO! We reminded ourselves the true reason(s) each of us are here, and collectively, we are moving on. Sparks has become a wonderful lifestyle, and though personally MY opinion of Chris has diminished, my motivation to be on Sparks has in fact increased. Falling isn't the end of the world..the trick is to stand up again. I love how our team is like a swimming pool. We who swim reach out to those who cannot, and together we thread water. NO ONE drowns!
Cheers! Report
How awesome! Have a great great time and best of luck! Talk about spreading the Spark! Report
Good luck today on the race. I am looking forward to meeting with others from sparkpeople who will be running the Flying Pig in Cincinnati in May. I will be doing that one. Report
Good luck today on the race. I am looking forward to meeting with others from sparkpeople who will be running the Flying Pig in Cincinnati in May. I will be doing that one. Report
We are rooting for you all today! Good luck and have fun! :-) Report
Good luck to all of you. I have met 2 fellow sparkers and would love to meet more. Report
I have met members of my New Hampshire team. We have had meet & greets and I am gym buddies with the team leader. Report
Good luck to all of you. Just being there with everyone would be great, have fun, Go S[arks Go. Report
Good luck to all of you. It sounds like a lot of fun. Report
You go John, you are one of ours. Report
Good luck to you all ! Sounds like so much fun. Report
Good Luck to all of you, Sparkers!!!! Lots of s---t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g you are doing for yourselves ----with running, meeting new people and fellow Sparkers, taking on new challenges!!!Be proud of yourselves, we are!!!!!! Report
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