Race Recap: Rock ‘n Roll NOLA Half Marathon

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It’s all about perspective – I posted my third worst half marathon time at the 2014 Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, but because I had posted my worst ever time just two weeks earlier, I was thrilled with the result of this race.

The Louisiana Half Marathon was awful for me in almost every way, from the stomach issues I developed around mile 5, to the tight rubberband-like feelings in my legs to the fact that from mile 7.5 to 13.1, I walked, a lot. More than I’d ever walked in any other race save for my 2nd marathon where my heart rate was so high I had to walk just to breathe properly.

So for RnR NOLA, which I registered for the day after the Louisiana Half as some sort of dream of redemption, I mainly wanted to run the whole thing, to show myself that I could do it. Time was not really a thought, but obviously I wanted to do better than my walk/run time of 2:37 at the Louisiana Half.

So I didn’t do any more long runs in between Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, but I did do a 5 miler, a 4 miler, and a handful of 2 milers. I feel like the quantity of runs was necessary, more so than doing another long run.

I also took some Clif Shot Bloks before a couple of those runs and saw a noticeable boost, so that became part of my plan.

On Saturday, Feb. 1, my husband tagged along with me to the expo at the convention center in New Orleans, where I got my race packet and made a $3 purchase of Clif Shot Bloks. I bought nothing else, which was quite the feat considering I spent more than $150 at the Louisiana Half expo.

We had lunch at the delectable Cochon Butcher, then I spent the rest of the day taking it relatively easy and chugging water. For dinner I chose to have some homemade bread and peanut butter rather than the pizza the rest of my family was having, hoping not to mess up my stomach any further than it might already be.

The alarm went off Sunday morning at 4:45 a.m., and I got up dreading the race. My husband was gracious enough to drive me to the drop-off point, and it was very foggy and misting as we left my parents’ house to make the 20-minute drive. It was chilly only because of the wind, but the forecast called for temps in the 60s, so I wore a short-sleeved shirt and shorts.

When my husband dropped me off on the corner where other runners were walking toward the start, I immediately regretted not bringing a poncho or some throwaway clothes because the wind was whipping and I felt drops of water hitting me from the sky. Cops directing traffic were wearing rain slickers like smart people.

Once I got to the start village, the wind kind of died down a bit, and I wasn’t as cold. I waited in a short line for the porta-potty and then headed toward my corral, #11, about 15 minutes before the start. I entertained myself with my phone until the corral started filling up, saw a friend who was running her first marathon, and prayed it would stop acting like it was going to downpour.

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When my corral finally got to the start line, I started off slowly… very slowly. My main concerns were making sure I didn’t wear myself out and that I also didn’t have any stomach troubles. The race course was the same as it was the last time I did it, 2 years ago, and I have to say I do not like it. St. Charles Avenue is very pretty, but running down the street one way for 4 miles and then making a U-turn and going back the way you came for another 4 miles can be very boring. The first time I did this race in 2011, the course was not like that. I don’t know why they changed it.

During these first 8 miles, I just paced myself very slow and steady, and I rejoiced at each mile marker when I hadn’t had any stomach troubles yet. I started drinking water at the stops a couple miles in, and I found that these initial stops were very underprepared, with volunteers scrambling to fill cups as runners came up to them. I wonder if the bad weather kept some volunteers from coming out? I also had trouble finding any Gatorade at these stops.

The weather stayed as it was, pretty much misting the whole time. It only felt like actual rain at one point for about 30 seconds. The mist was kind of nice but it was a warm and humid day, so it was overall very icky feeling. We finally left St. Charles and proceeded to Magazine Street and then the French Quarter, where it was so foggy and misting, you couldn’t see very far ahead of you.

At mile 10, I finally found some Gatorade, and at mile 11, I stopped briefly to text my husband where I was so he could head to the finish line. I was feeling tired at this point, but thrilled that I felt good for the most part. I really didn’t care about my final time at all, I just was so glad I’d be able to run the whole thing.

As we headed for the finish line, I tried to find my husband in the crowd but didn’t spot him. I crossed the finish line and immediately got a text from my mom who had followed me online. I called my husband but he didn’t answer, which sent me into a little panic, but I called him again and he answered that time. He had had to park so far away that he didn’t get to the finish line in time to see me.

He took a photo of me, very happy with how I finished, and then we made the long trek back to the car.

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Since I had no stomach issues, I was able to eat, and we went to Cafe Du Monde in Metairie for some hot chocolate and begniets. We had to make the drive home right afterwards, so I was gross and wet for 4 hours in the car.

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I can’t be grateful enough for my husband getting up at 5:30 in the morning, dropping me off, waiting around for me, and then driving the 4 hours home. He is the best!

My chip time was 2:20:53, which is just fine with me! In my 8 half marathons, it is my 6th as far as length of time.

Funnily enough, a week after the race, there are no photos of me on Marathon Foto. I don’t know what the deal is, it’s annoying 😦

raceI also think the race medal is hideous. So while I liked my overall race experience, my complaints would be – understaffed water stations with stealth Gatorade; there were not very many bands on the course (could have been weather-caused); first 8 miles are tres boring; where are my freaking race pictures? and ugly medal.

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