It is tricky mixing marathon training with racing. I’ve read that it’s best not to attempt PRs while training, in order to avoid injury. With that in mind, I decided to treat this race like a long run and not worry about beating my 1/2 PR of 2:07.
Packet pickup took place the entire week before the half marathon at Southern Runner in New Orleans, but since we live an hour away, we didn’t get out there to get mine until the night before the race, a Friday. I took off work early to ensure we got there before it was too late!
I was thrilled when I got the shirt – they had a specific cut for females, and it was perfect. Most race shirts, even in the small size, are for men and are too baggy and just don’t look comfortable for actually running in. This shirt, I will actually run in!
My parents live about 25 minutes from New Orleans, so we headed there after getting my packet. I signed up with my friend Angela, so she came to my parents’ house too to spend the night. We ate spaghetti made by my lovely mother and headed to sleep around 11, after watching the end of the World Series.
I didn’t have too much trouble falling asleep once I laid my head down, and I didn’t wake up once until 4:15, which was a first for my half marathons. For the first two, I tossed and turned and kept waking up to check the clock and make sure I hadn’t overslept.
At 5:10 a.m. we departed my parents’ house, made a quick stop by Wal-Mart (thank goodness for being open 24 hours!), and headed to New Orleans. This race was only about 2,000 people, quite a difference from the RnR Mardi Gras in February which had about 17,000. So instead of lots of traffic, it was super easy to get off the Interstate and find parking near the start line. The parking garage/lot where we parked was kinda shady, and I was hesitant for us to stay there, but other racers soon poured into the parking lot and we were surrounded by fellow runners, so it turned out OK. The race was an out-and-back course with the finish and start lines in the same place, which I definitely prefer. So much easier.
It was cold, mostly because of the wind! We stayed in the car until about 20 minutes before race time, then walked over to the start at Lafayette Square.
I normally feed off the adrenaline of the race atmosphere and other runners, but for this race I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was the fact that it was a Saturday, so it was immediately following a workday and I’d only gotten 5 hours of sleep…maybe it was the fact that mentally I knew I wasn’t going all out for the run…whatever it was, mentally I wasn’t there fully.
We all gathered at the start, sang the anthem, then started on our way. It probably only took us about a minute or so to get to the start line, and immediately it felt great to be running and warming up in the cold! My legs were feeling dead rather early on, and that never really let up or got better.
Miles 1-2 were down Poydras Street, past the Convention Center and then back toward the Superdome. Then we ended up on St. Charles Avenue and basically ran for 4 straight miles one way down that street. It’s a lovely street with pretty houses and the streetcars, so it was still nice even if a bit monotonous.
I couldn’t find a Porta-Potty for the longest time, finally saw one at 5 miles and asked Angela if we could stop, but there were two other people in line and whoever was in there was taking a mighty long time. After a minute or two, I gave up and we continued. Another lesson learned, since it has happened to me twice now – if there are people waiting in line at a Porta-Potty, don’t bother to stop. I just don’t have to patience to wait, especially if someone is running with me and I feel like I’m holding up the show.
At mile 7 we approached Audubon Park, where 4 Porta-Potties with no lines sat! We stopped again for me, then headed into the park where we did a 2-mile loop. Very pretty park where my brother got married!
Coming out of Audubon Park, we headed back in the opposite direction on St. Charles Avenue, back to Poydras and the finish line. We had gotten to see the first male and female finishers coming that way, they were about an hour and 15 minutes ahead of us!
There were various spectators on the course, several that called out to us and I gave them a thumbs up even though my legs were hurting and my stomach was in discomfort and I just wanted to be done. There were some guys in front of a bar with “Free Whiskey Shots” and “Water for $1” which made us laugh.
As we approached the finish line, we sped up and “finished strong.”
Even though it was my slowest half marathon, it was very tough, and reminded me that there is nothing easy about completing that distance. It is an accomplishment every time, no matter how long it takes. That makes the medal well earned and a valuable reminder to me.