Below are summaries and memories of races I’d done prior to this blog, starting with the very first!
Crescent City Fall Classic 5K
New Orleans – City Park
This was my very first race (not counting the fun runs I did in 2nd and 3rd grade)! I had been running for about 6 months and had no goal for this race except to finish, which was not a lofty goal because I had been running 3 miles and more for awhile. I really didn’t know what to expect, since the last time I’d raced it was 1994 and I was 8 years old. My good friend Angela went with me and I have to say from the very start, I felt the camaraderie of all the runners strongly. New Orleans has a pretty good-sized running community and the New Orleans Track Club organizes numerous races throughout the year, so I could tell these runners were familiar with each other and there was a sense of community there. I wanted to be a part of it!
I learned quickly that winter, my first winter of running, that it might be freaking freezing before you start running, but it gets warm quick! So I was glad I’d still worn shorts even though it was 40 degrees at start time. I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but here in Louisiana, there is free beer and something like jambalaya after EVERY race. I will never forget my astonishment at seeing people drinking beer at 9 in the morning after this race. Now it is just expected – it is weird if a race doesn’t offer beer, actually. I have to say I pass and stick with water or a sports drink!
Baton Rouge – LSU campus/lakes
Leading up to this race, I didn’t really know if I had ever run 5 miles before. See, thanks to G-Map Pedometer, I knew that the park I ran around each day was about 1.3-1.4 miles, and I would run around it up to three times… so that doesn’t quite equal 5 miles. I can’t believe now, with my Garmin telling me my pace and exact distance and elevation and heart rate – that I went so long without any kind of tool telling me how fast I was going or how long. But with my cousin coming down from Washington DC and running this race with me, I knew I needed to run 5 miles straight at least once! So a week before the race, I ran around the park 4 times, which equaled about 5.4 miles. That was my preparation for this race! Haha.
My husband came along with me to be a spectator, and he got to hang out with my cousin Caryn’s husband during the race while Caryn and I ran it. Again I didn’t have a goal time in mind, since I had no idea really how long it took me to run a mile. More than 6 months into running and I still hadn’t figured out the whole running pace thing! The race was held around the lakes on LSU campus, and there was an accompanying 10-miler. I ended up just managing to keep up with Caryn for the race, and we finished in a little over 48 minutes. This was the first race where we got some really nice swag – a thick sweatshirt and etched glass – and I realized, “I like getting stuff!!” Again, beer, jambalaya, and other foods that I’m not interested in eating at 9 in the morning were served. The four of us headed to La Madeleine to eat breakfast, and it was nice visiting with my cousin who I don’t get to see too often!
Ole Man River 5K
New Orleans – City Park
My husband got the racing bug after watching my 5-miler, so he signed up to do this 5K with me in mid-December. There was a Saints game coming on later that day and I wanted to show my support, so I wore a cotton Saints T-shirt on top of a more running-friendly tank (the Saints lost that day to the Ravens, boo). You can get away with that in the winter, but in the summer there’s no cotton touching anywhere on my body while running, for sure! Again it was freezing, and I ran carrying my camera in my hand, so my hands were red and icy and numb the entire time.
I told Hunter to run ahead of me, since he is faster than me, so I ran the majority of this race alone, which I didn’t mind! For the first time, I had a goal! Beat my first 5K time! I ended up doing so by almost 5 minutes. For the last mile, I really ramped it up and crossed the finish line incredibly out of breath. But proud!
This race was held in City Park, and there was an accompanying half-marathon. Seeing the half-marathoners here contributed to inspiring me to run a half-marathon.
Mardi Gras Mambo 10K
Baton Rouge – LSU campus/lakes
Shortly after running the Ole Man River 5K, I decided to run a half-marathon, which was only two months away. What inspired me to do so was watching the movie “Spirit of the Marathon” (free on Hulu) and seeing the half-marathoners when I did the Ole Man River. So, from December 19 to February 5, I did no races and focused on amping up my mileage, getting up to 14! For Christmas I got a Blackberry and I downloaded an app that tracked my distance. I still wasn’t worried about pace, but I finally knew exactly how far I was running. The half-marathon was scheduled for February 13, so I signed up for this 10K on February 5. I bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 right before this race, so it was my first time using it for a race!
I got my husband to do it with me too, and I was so grateful he braved the cold with me! He stayed with me the whole time for this race even though he could have gone ahead. This was my first 10K, and I think my goal was just to finish under an hour, which I did! It’s so cool doing new race distances for the first time – instant PR!
Rock ‘n Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon
New Orleans – Uptown to City Park
I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience in my first half marathon! I ran with my friend Angela, who’d run my first race ever with me, and from start to finish it was just an exciting experience.
We went to the expo the day before, which was my first time going to a race expo and I was simply amazed by all the running stuff in one place! The morning of the race, we woke up at 4:30 and my husband drove us to the runner drop-off site, which thankfully was not too hard to get to (I was worried about traffic big time!)
We hung out at the Start Village, listening to a brass band (so New Orleans) before heading to the start line. This was my first time dealing with start corrals, etc., and I was happy to see how organized it was. RnR/Competitor really does a good job.
My goal was to finish under 2:30, and the miles really flew by. We ran through New Orleans’ uptown, St. Charles Avenue, Magazine Street, the French Quarter, and the race ended in City Park. It was a really comfortable pace for me, and I was excited to break 2:20! I think it’s safe to say I was sufficiently addicted to races by this time 🙂
Race for the Cure 5K
Baton Rouge – LSU Old Front Nine
This is where I learn the lesson about not leaving my house too close to the race time. The race site was only about 10 minutes away from our apartment, so we left about 40 minutes before the race, figuring that was plenty of time to get there, find parking, etc. My husband was just bringing me and not racing. Unfortunately, we underestimated the popularity of this race and the traffic congestion that construction on a major street would cause trying to get there. Luckily, the race bib and timing chip had been mailed prior to the race, so there was no race day pickup. I had everything attached and on already, and we got to the race site right at race time! My husband dropped me off at the curb and I ran towards the start line. The race was HUGE, being a Susan G. Komen race, so I passed tons and tons of people trying to get to the front of the line. It seemed like I’d never get there. But I did, a few seconds after the gun went off! Thankfully, with chip timing and timing mats at the start AND finish, I didn’t really lose any time.
I basically just ran as fast as I could for this race. There was no smart pacing or whatever, I just ran hard! This was the first warmer-weather race I’d done, and it was not as fun! Near the end of the race, another girl and I were neck and neck, but I’d expended so much energy throughout the race that I just didn’t have it in me to go for the kill, so she passed me. I finished with a PR of about one less minute than my last time. I ended up being 4th in my age group, which bugged me, because I had never been top 3, and it was the second time I’d made 4th. I just wanted top 3!! Aaah.
Hammond Rotary “Finish on the Fifty” 10K
Hammond – Southeastern campus/surrounding area
Probably one of my most fun race experiences – got a PR, the race was really well done, and we met Saints kicker Garrett Hartley! Hammond is about 40 minutes from Baton Rouge, so we had to get up real early to get to this one. The experience with almost being late to the Race for the Cure 5K made us paranoid, and we ended up getting to Hammond about an hour before the race started! But it was much less stressful that way! This was the Rotary’s first time putting on a race, and they did a really fantastic job. The race was held on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University, and they made sure to make the course interesting, having it go through a residential area, a park and the parking garage of the football stadium!
It was real small, about 200 people, but I imagine the race will grow quickly if they keep up the high quality of the first year. Hunter ran this with me, and we once again didn’t stay together since he’s faster than me and I don’t want to hold him back! The race had so many nice things afterward, including massages, BBQ sandwiches, sweet tea and lemonade, and a chance to take pictures with the Saints’ kicker, Garrett Hartley, which we did! And because the race was small, we didn’t have to wait in any long lines for anything. It was really nice.
LSU Race Judicata
Special note: Finished 1st Female Overall
Time: 35:34 (4.2 miles)
Baton Rouge – LSU campus/lakes
This was a funny little race. The Law School at LSU put it on, and it was billed as 5K, but when we got there, they told us that it was more of a “4-Mile Challenge.” There were only about 50 people, and about 7 of those were girls 🙂 I had planned to take this race easy since it was only a few days before my next half marathon, but my competitiveness got the best of me and I went all out.
There were no mile markers, no water stations, only a couple of motorcycle cops to block intersections for us for a short time. I knew I was the first girl early on, and eventually I couldn’t see anyone behind me, so I slacked off a bit because I was tired! I finished as the first girl, though probably 20 guys finished ahead of me, including my husband. I won a gift card to the local running store here for being the first girl! And even though I only beat about 6 other girls (And I think I only won because I was the only one who didn’t stop to walk), I was super excited to win!
Rock ‘n Roll Dallas Half Marathon
Dallas – Downtown to Fairgrounds
Soon after my first half marathon, I wanted to do it again! This time, I got my husband on board, and we planned a weekend around running the Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 in Dallas, which is about a 8-hour drive from us. Hunter’s parents live half-way, so we stayed with them Friday night, then drove into Dallas on Saturday and stayed at a hotel that night. This was my first out-of-state race! We got to the expo and got our stuff, then wandered around until we could check into our hotel. We have about 6 friends who live in the Dallas area, so we met up with them for dinner that night – it was so good to hang out! I felt like everything went smoothly with this trip. I was nervous because the race site said they recommended everyone to drive to the finish line and park there, then take shuttles to the start line, and I hate having to worry about traffic and all that when going to a race. BUT we left our hotel around 5:30 a.m. and the directions to the Finish Line, which was about 4 miles away, were super simple and easy.
It helped that we didn’t have to get on the Interstate. There was ample parking at the fairgrounds, where the finish line was, and the school bus shuttles were extremely organized and efficient. It went so smoothly that we were at the start line a good hour before the race start, and this was unfortunate because it was FREEZING cold and we just had to sit outside in it! We did have plenty of time for the Porta-Potties and such, and it was good to not have to worry about being late. The temperature had dropped sharply overnight, and the weather was very overcast. There had been a chance of rain, but it held off and so the entire race was just in these cold, gray conditions. This was not a fun race for me because even though I hadn’t drunk anything that morning, I had to go to the bathroom rather quickly. Around mile 6 we stopped to wait in a Porta-Potty line, which took forever (well, we waited for about 2 minutes which felt like an eternity), so finally I gave up and started running again. At mile 8, I saw an empty Porta-Potty and booked it to that. I was just uncomfortable this whole race. I remember at 10 miles, thinking that even though there was a 5K left, that felt like an eternity. It didn’t help that some parts of the course were just boring – we ran through a lot of residential areas, it made the miles go by so slow. I had little motivation to pick up my speed for the last mile, but my husband kept trying to get me to pick it up and keep up with him. We finished in 2:07, and I was bitter because without the Porta-Potty line it would have been more like 2:05. Oh well.
We got our medal, took a picture, grabbed some snacks, and left. It was starting to drizzle and we had to get on the road. We met up with another Dallas friend for brunch and then were on our way home!
Greek Fest 5K
New Orleans – Hellenic Cultural Center
I signed up for this race knowing that I was going to be doing it “just for fun.” There is not much to note about the actual race, since I ran it at a very easy pace with my friend Angela. I know that even if I had tried, I wouldn’t have PRed. It was just too humid, and I wasn’t fresh, since it was at 7 p.m.
The race fee included entry into the Greek Fest and three free drink tabs. The only problem was the amount of racers made the fest very congested, and the lines for the free drinks very long. There was also a MASSIVE swarm of termites around the lights of the stage, which was right by the drink lines, and of course all of the other Louisiana night bugs. We went and sat on the grass with our drinks for a few minutes, but it wasn’t really the best feeling ever and we decided to leave and go somewhere else for food.
Hell’s Hills 10K
Ruston – Lincoln Parish Park
I don’t know why, but even though the name of this race was “Hell’s Hills,” I didn’t really consider the fact that there would be a lot of hills. I was somewhat familiar with LPP, but I’d never been on the trail that was the course for the race. There were only about 50 people at this race, 11 of them girls. As the race started, I was the third girl in line and for probably the first half-mile it was very narrow to where you couldn’t pass anyone. I was feeling good at first, but pretty soon it all came crashing down! I looked at my Garmin and was surprised to see how slow our pace was at times, but I felt gassed after mile 1 and mile 2 was the slowest mile ever. The uphill climbs were pretty constant, and there were a lot of steep downhills that also took a lot of concentration and balance to ensure you didn’t slide down. I passed one girl to be in 2nd for a little while, but after falling down twice, I was a bit defeated and let a different girl pass me before mile 3 was over.
After the first couple of miles everyone was pretty much separated – I tried to keep up with some of the people ahead of me for awhile, but eventually I just stopped caring if I ended up on my own and took a walking break. Around mile 3 a guy passed me as I stopped to walk and encouraged me, saying, “Almost halfway there.” I ended up passing him near the end and he again said encouraging words. I ended up taking several walking breaks, including almost every uphill climb after mile 2. I was alone for a lot of the time on the trail, but the course was easy to follow and I found that it wasn’t as bad to be alone as I had imagined. One of the organizers was on the course at two different points to encourage and take photos. I talked to one guy along the course when we both stopped to walk, and I told him it was the hardest race I’d ever done because I’m not used to hills or the off-road type of run.
Entering into the last mile and a half, I came to a new wooded area and found the girl that had passed me and her boyfriend coming back in the opposite direction I was running. Is there a loop? I asked, since I was confused about why they were coming toward me. They said they thought I was OK and I just kept going, following the trail and making sure not to cross the red flags the race organizers had set out. As I was running around the trail in the wooded area, I saw the girl and her boyfriend re-enter and they seemed confused. I tried not to worry about what they were doing and just kept following the trail. I came out and a volunteer greeted me and told me I was almost done! I felt much better for the last mile of the race, but the last mile was also a lot flatter then the first miles. I ran toward the finish and my time was 1:02:07. I looked around and saw that the girl who had been first the whole time had already finished, but the girl who had passed me and been in 2nd for most of the race had not made it yet. I looked and saw her and her boyfriend running for the finish, and they finished about 45 seconds after me.
The race results were soon posted and confirmed that I was the 2nd overall female to finish! I should have and would have been third if not for the 2nd girl getting lost in the last leg of the race. After the race, they had drinks, sandwiches from Subway, and a lot of the guys jumped in the lake. It felt so great to sit under the pavilion and just bask in my finish and the presence of the runners.
This race was so hard and immediately after completing it, I said to myself, “I don’t want to do that ever again.” Of course, the next day and now, I think, “I want to do it next year, I’ll just be more prepared.” It’s hard to train for hills somewhere as flat as Baton Rouge, but the race organizers were so cool and the swag so good, the experience so rewarding, it makes me want to do every race they put on.