There will be so much more to recapping the adventure that was the Running Mamas annual getaway than just the race, but first things first. The Race. This year’s destination race selection was the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. It would be hard to beat the epic-ness of the first getaway to the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, but what better place to try than in the Big Easy?
Tiffany and Hannah arrived in New Orleans on Thursday and Christina and I joined the party Friday morning. Pretty much as soon as we got down there and got food in our stomachs, we all headed to the expo. Packet pick-up went very smoothly, probably because it was day 1 of the two-day expo and not as many people were there as would be on Saturday. We got our bibs, timing tags, safety pins, drawstring bags, and tech tees in no time. The only part that caused a little bit of confusion was my corral change.
We registered for this race in April, I think. That was a long time ago in training years. My last half marathon time at that point was 2:42, so accounting for increased temperature and humidity and crowdedness of a really large event like a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, I approximated a 2:45 finish time. That put me in corral 16. By the time this race rolled around, my previous two halves had been 2:30 and 2:36 (approximate. I don’t feel like looking that up.) Those times should put me in corral 13. With an alleged 5 minutes between corrals start times, I would have ended up way way way behind the rest of the Mamas that were in 13 and earlier. So I asked to change my corral and the packet lady told me to go to registration services. I waited on line there only to be told that I needed to go the Corral Change table. Duh. But once I was at the correct table, it was a matter of the nice woman slapping a ’13’ sticker on my bib. Done.
The expo had a little bit of everything. Bondi Bands, Gu, Brooks, Altra, even the New York Times. (I don’t know why the NYT was there, either.) I picked up a new race belt from Fitletic to carry my stupid inhaler. I also got 2 new Sweaty Bands: American flag patterned and purple ribbons for pancreatic cancer awareness.
Saturday night, we all went to the neighborhood Walgreens to buy some throwaway sweatshirts to wear at the freezing cold starting line. Along with every other racer in the French Quarter. Oh, did I not mention that it was friggin’ freezing in Lousiana? Rain, wind, and 40 degree weather. Yeah. So much for a nice escape from winter.
Sunday morning, we were all very grateful for the $5.88 cotton hoodies that we dug up. It was quite windy and Christina and I had to wait 20-30 minutes before our corral would start. But then it did and the hoodies got ditched on the side of course and the cold all of sudden was nowhere near being an issue.
Christina got ahead of me pretty early on since she runs straight and I was doing a 90:30 run-walk. (You can find her take on the race here) I was really proud of myself for not going out too fast. My first mile split was 10:26. Maybe this time I wouldn’t burn out halfway through.
The course was super flat and so well-supported. There were water/Gatorade stations and Gu stations and so many spectators with some hilarious signs. One that cracked me up said, “Hey, you seem to have stamina. Call me.” Extra bonus: I did not hear one single misplaced “You’re almost there.”
We ran up from the CBD to Tulane University, then back down into the French Quarter (right passed Cafe Du Monde, which was a horrible tease) and then up into New Orleans City Park. I may be partial since I LOVE New Orleans, but was it all so beautiful with bands and music all along the route. Ok, except one little area when we got near the highway overpass. That was a not-so-pretty area and the fumes from the traffic almost made my lungs want to give out. Stupid inhaler helped me out with that one.
I was feeling awesome. I wasn’t hitting that “Can this be over” moment. Until the last 0.1 miles It totally looked like were going to finish at the art museum and then the course kept going. It was like Epcot all over again where you knew the end had to be somewhere but you just couldn’t see where that end might be. At that point I was just frustrated. But then I heard Tiffany and Hannah yelling to me from the sidelines and I was so happy that they hung around even though they finished a million years earlier.
The finish line had bananas and water, of course, but PowerBar was there giving out bars and I think Gatorade or PowerAde or someone was handing out sport drinks. My personal favorite was the chocolate milk! Fat-free, no less, so I was able to drink it without worries that my stomach would rebel against the milk fat.And then, of course, there was the medal.It is sparkly and heavy and spiffy. 🙂 Full marathoners got a jacket, too. I’m a little jealous of that. One day, maybe.
All 4 Running Mamas were reunited and heading back to the hotel in no time. There were shuttle buses to take everyone back to the French Quarter, too. The shuttles were nicely organized and we didn’t have to wait very long at all. I heard people complain that the bus smelled, but being an OCR junkie, I’m quite used to shuttle buses that smell much, much worse.
All in all, I thought it was a fabulous race. And then there was the timing issue.
My chip never registered that I crossed the starting line. My time was now at the mercy of the the first gun time. My official time is around 2:58. They say they are fixing it, but it hasn’t been updated on the results page yet so I’m a bit pissypants on that count. And it wasn’t just my chip that didn’t read. Of the 4 of us, 1 chip missed a couple of the split reads, mine missed the 5K and 10-mile split in addition to the start, and another just failed to read anything! Awesome. Grrr.