Six years ago, I ran my very first marathon in Baton Rouge, at what was the very first Louisiana Marathon. Today, I returned to this race for my 10th marathon. Crazy. I never thought when I started training for a marathon in the fall of 2011 that I would eventually run ten – I just wanted to finish one!
Coming back to this race, I felt like I shouldn’t have too much pressure on myself – I got a PR in Dallas five weeks ago, so for this race, I just wanted to try and enjoy it.
On Friday we drove down to Baton Rouge, which always makes me a little emotional. We lived there for almost four years while Hunter went to law school at LSU, and it was just a really good period of our lives. Chances are we will never live there again, but I will always love the city and cherish that time.
We stayed downtown at the Hampton, just a few blocks from the start and finish area. We had dinner at Plucker’s, our favorite wings place where we used to go play trivia with friends, and I let myself eat unhealthy. Whereas I paid a lot of attention to what I ate the week of Dallas, I was way more lax about this last week.
On Saturday we slept in, then eventually headed to the expo less than a mile away at the River Center, where I picked up my bib and race shirt.
I was kind of disappointed with the expo – I wasn’t really interested in any of the vendors. On our way out, we saw a clearance table of previous years’ merchandise by Tasc, an athletic apparel store in New Orleans that I’ve always really liked. I ended up getting a long-sleeve half zip and shorts for 50 percent off. The half-zip has the marathon logo on it, but no year, so it could have easily been sold at full price!
Afterward, we had lunch at Dearman’s, a hamburger restaurant we ate at countless times when we lived in BR. We watched some football in the hotel, then went to a pho place for dinner.
We also had to run to Dick’s so I could buy some better gloves for the cold weather, and to Best Buy to look for an armband for my phone.
On race morning, the temperature was every bit as cold as promised.
I headed out to the race start at about 6:35, with my heat sheet from the Dallas Marathon to keep me warm until the race started. I ate a bagel with PB before I left, and my stomach started feeling upset, even though I’ve never had trouble with that before. I was hoping it was just nerves that would go away when the race started.
Unfortunately, the upset stomach stayed with me through the beginning of the run. It was also SO cold that my fingers inside my gloves were in pain.
After a couple of miles, my hands finally started warming up, but my stomach was still not settled. Around mile 3, we passed the 10-mile marker that we would come back to later, and I actually thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to run 7 more miles like this.” In addition, I drank water at every aid station, but because it was so cold, I was not sweating. This resulted in me needing to go to the bathroom FOUR times in the first half. And every time I stopped at a Porta-Potty, it took forever because my hands were barely operational due to the cold. It was just all bad, and I thought a couple times I was going to throw up. I had some grim thoughts about having to possibly drop out of the race if that happened.
Thankfully, things started turning around for me around the halfway mark. I had two Pepto Bismol chewable tablets in my Spi Belt, so I took those and they eventually helped settle my stomach. I also started only drinking water every other aid station, and it warmed up so I started sweating, and my need for bathroom breaks ceased.
Since I was sick for two straight weeks recently, I hadn’t run double digits in 3 weeks, and that started to catch up with me in the last 10 miles. My legs really hurt, my IT band was tight, and I had to start stretching it out every 2 miles or so. But I just kept pushing forward. The first half of the race was mostly the LSU campus and lakes, and then for the second half we went into several residential neighborhoods.
Within the last 4 miles, I passed the 4:40 pacer. My first marathon time was 4:40:16. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let him pass me back, and that my goal was to beat that first time.
Legs were KILLING me the last few miles, and right at mile 25 they forced us to climb a freaking overpass! But before I knew it, my Garmin buzzed 26 miles and I was approaching the 26-mile marker soon after. I spotted my husband shortly before crossing the finish line, EXACTLY 20 minutes slower than my Dallas time – 4:34:29. My second fastest marathon time ever.
All in all, I’m so glad I did this race and pushed through to the finish. In the last five weeks, I had my pretty perfect Dallas Marathon, and my milestone 10th marathon in Baton Rouge, and got my two best marathon times ever.
Here are my two Louisiana Marathon medals side by side – 2012 vs. 2018.