I wrangled my husband into running this 5-mile race with me – I don’t like driving into New Orleans by myself and I thought it would be something fun we could do together on a holiday.
When the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m., though, he was not feeling so warm and fuzzy about this joint venture. He is a big-time night owl and sleep-in type of person, so it took a little extra prodding to get him up. But finally he did, and we left for the 25-minute trip into NOLA about 15 minutes later than I’d planned.
Even so, we got to the race 30 minutes before start time, which I thought was plenty of time. We had to park about three blocks away from the race site in City Park, so I originally planned for us to go get our packets, then come back to the car to put up the race T-shirts we were going to get and get back to the start on time.
Unfortunately, this very popular race prompted thousands of people to come run, and they were all trying to pick up their packets at the same time as us. There were three lines for packet pickup based on the first letter of your last name. and ours was of course the longest line (A-G).
They ended up postponing the start of the race by 10 minutes because the pick-up was taking so long. We ended up getting our bibs and T-shirts and putting our T-shirts on the bleachers near the start because there was not enough time to go back to the car. I was not too happy with this development 😦
The race starting line was PACKED, so we just kind of got somewhere near the front but still off to the side, as the pack was spilling over onto the grass on either side of the road. When the gun sounded, it didn’t take too long to get on the road and start weaving around people.
Overall I felt pretty good the entire race – the weather was beautiful and our goal was just to come in at a sub-9:00 pace and stay together (Hunter hasn’t been running too often lately so he didn’t want to push it). At each mile marker I told him what our pace had been for that mile.
There was one support table about halfway through, just water.
I felt pretty winded at times, but was pacing myself pretty well for the most part – this is what I appreciate having the Garmin for during a race and why not having it for the 10-miler last weekend was so frustrating – I can make sure I’m not going too fast or too slow and have a better shot at meeting my goal.
For the last half-mile, my husband sped up but I didn’t feel I could, so I finished about 10-15 seconds behind him. Final time, 44:26 for a pace of 8:45 per mile for 5.08 miles.
This race reminded me of the Greek Fest 5K last May, which was put on by the same organization. There were SO MANY people signed up and packet pick-up before the race was so chaotic. They did offer packet pick-up the week before this race, but I’m sure many people were like me and don’t live in the immediate area.
So overall thoughts on this race:
1) Despite the fact that I really don’t prefer races that are huge and congested like this with just too many people, it was a good fun race and I like the idea of getting a run in and burning some calories before Thanksgiving activities. Will likely do again next year.
2) Many races put on by this organization do not offer chip timing, and I really wish they would. Instead of a chip, they hand you a slip of paper at the finish where you write down your final time. I understand for a family race like this, a lot of people don’t care about chip timing, but I think they could maybe offer it as a voluntary option, even if you have to pay a few extra dollars. This was the case with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and I was happy to have the opportunity to get a chip, and I gladly paid $5 extra for it.
3) One water stop during the race, and only water and bananas (and beer – not interested) available after the race (that I could see). Granted, there were so many people, that we didn’t hang around for long; maybe I just missed anything else.
4) The course was great, weather was lovely, and the running community in New Orleans is strong and friendly.