Sunday, I ran the Rock n Roll New Orleans half marathon (formally Rock N Roll Mardi Gras) This is the third year I have run this race. (You can check out my recaps from 2010 and 2011 1 and 2)
Last years race was not the best experience. My IT band was VERY angry, and I ended up crying during the race and hobbling across the finish line. This year, I was determined to do well. Then I realized it was the weekend after the princess half, so I would be doing back to back races. crap. THEN, I ended up working the Running Skirts booth at the expo. hhmm…not shaping up to be a PR race I would say! With the odds stacked against me, I signed up due to a super discount and an awesome New Orleans saints win. ($37 or so dollar entry fee!)
My already tired legs became exhausted (specifically my knees and heels) after a day of expo set up, and two long days of working the expo. We didn’t finish until almost 8 pm on Friday and after 6 on Saturday. Walking around for an hour looking for a place to eat, I was really feeling it and it was not looking good.
Sunday morning I woke up fairly easily and was ready to race. The start line wasn’t far from the hotel, so we waited to go down until 6:45 for a 7:00 start.
We got into corral 12, and I heard a voice behind me say my name. It was Samantha!
She was running the full, and I tried to fill her in a bit on the course. It was time to move up, and so we said our goodbyes and good luck.
Before I knew it, I was running under the start sign, Garmin started, an running.
Poor Bobby was getting over a nasty cold, so he knew he wasn’t going to PR. He decided to run with me and make it his goal to help me PR.
My first goal for this race was to not start out too fast. Mission accomplished, it was sooo crowded I couldn’t go fast even if I wanted to. Since I was running with Bobby, I didn’t do as much weaving so we could stay together. I immediately got annoyed though because we started in between some tall buildings and my Garmin was off from the start, so I had to keep subtracting from my distance the whole race.
I felt really good starting out, an since the course was different this year, I was distracted having new things to look at, and trying not to plow into the back of someone. We made a turn and I was able to jump up in the median on the street car tracks/grass. My knees were killing me and this felt so much better (plus I was able to pass without weaving.) We were sure to jump down when we needed to in order to cross all the timing mats.
We passed these guys about mine four and told them to keep it up and that they were awesome.
Soon, I saw the first runner coming back the other way. NO WAY! but yes way, the lead car was right there with him. Unreal! Granted, I started twenty minutes after the gun, but still unreal. I kept trucking along, only stopping at water stops to drink. Bobby kept at my pace (I told him nothing over a 10:20 to PR) and we stayed pretty quiet.
About mile 5, we hit the sunshine and I instantly got very very hot. I was in a long sleeve shirt and felt like I was suffocating. I decided to pull it off and tie it around my waist. I didn’t care that my bib wouldn’t be on the front anymore, I needed to stay focused and didn’t want to stop and waste time re-pinning it.
About mile 7 I was still feeling really good, which almost made me nervous. I hadn’t even taken a single walk break except for water stops, and aside from tired legs, I felt great. We came back through towards the French Quarter and down Decatur street. We passed Café du Monde and the French market before turning onto esplanade. This is when it got hard.
I think I officially REALLY for the first time ever hit a wall at mile 10. It got MUCH harder to keep the same pace I was keeping before, and I started to panic. I wanted to stay focused, so I tried to block out the pain and keep one foot in front of the other. The streets at this point had a LOT of pot holes so I literally just looked straight down and ahead, like I was in a tunnel. I was really feeling the fact that I had been on my feet and lifting heavy objects for the past three full days, and that I had run a half marathon a mere 7 days earlier.
Normally in races I look around and soak it all in, look at spectators, signs, etc. This race, I did not. I kept repeating things to myself like “if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it” and “you are stronger than you think” and “fight through the pain”. Bobby was a GREAT encourager telling me I was doing great, and my pace was good, and I had this, that I WOULD PR. I took one short walk break to catch my breath and my bearings, and took off again.
We hit mile 12, and I knew I could do it. I kept thinking “You have busted your butt for over two hours, you CANNOT give up now!” we headed towards City Park and I kept ticking down the tenth’s in my head. At about mile 12.7, I saw a familiar face on the sidelines. Brandon from Claim Your Journey was there taking pictures. I got his attention and waved as he took my picture. I gave him a thumbs up, but really I felt like I would keel over at any second!
We were SO CLOSE I could taste it. I told Bobby I could NOT go any faster and he told me I didn’t have to, that I was going to make it at this pace. I really needed to hear that, but, still kept asking periodically if I was going to make it. We hit mile 13 and rounded the last corner.
I kicked with everything I had left (which wasn’t much!) and grabbed Bobby’s hand as we crossed the finish line.
I looked down at my Garmin, and I had done it. Not only did I PR by over 2 minutes, but I met another small stepping stone goal of mine, to run a half in 2:15.
We got our medals and funneled out of the way (more like shuffled, it was so crowded!) and headed into the after party area. We immediately put our mylar blankets on the ground and laid down. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day in the mid 60’s.
Number 11, in the books.
As I was sitting there taking in everything, I happened to notice someone familiar. It was my sister! She is super speedy so I figured she would be gone by now and never would I have imagined I would pick her out of thousands of people. She, too PR’ed by about 5 minutes and was very happy with her time.
We chatted for a few minutes and then she left, and we hung out on our blankets snacking and stretching before deciding to head to the busses and back to the hotel.
I would definitely say this years race was a BIG improvement over last year’s for me. Last year I was very injured, and hobbled across in about 2:26. Elven minutes faster even with back to back weekend halfs and being on expo legs? I’ll take it! Did you know I haven’t run a half NOT on expo legs since this race last year? Well except for Princess but we weren’t racing that one. I can’t wait to see what I can do on fresh legs!
A huge thanks to my sweet husband who paced me, and to everyone else who has helped me along my journey. I am starting to feel strong, and determined. (My word of the year). I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store!
QOTD: How are you doing on your goals for the year, now that we are three months into 2012?
***I have been nominated for a Fitterati award for Fitness magazine in the category of best running blog! I would LOVE it if yall would vote for me!***