Last Saturday, Ashley and I went to New Orleans to run the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon on Sunday morning. It seemed like a really good idea. I mean, training for it was a great way to get through the winter doldrums. However, once we rolled into town, I just felt stupid. Hydrating, eating healthy, and planning a good night's sleep...in New Orleans? ON A SATURDAY NIGHT? How dumb is that?
I guess it isn't THAT dumb. There were 25,999 other runners there.
Anyways, we went to the Convention Center first for our race packets, which was a clusterfuck, then to my cousin's apartment in the Central Business District where we were staying. We had a brief rest, then went to meet most of our running group for dinner. I couldn't stand it. I had to have a beer.
Dinner was fun, and we were in bed by 9:30pm. 9:30pm! WTF?
The race started at 7am, so we got up 5am to start getting ready. When we left the apartment at 6am to go meet our group there were still plenty of people on the streets smoking and drinking!
Here we are--Star Runners! I think there were about 38 of us?
After our photo and pep talk, Ashley and I headed over to the bag check-in and then to our corral. The race organizers had some aversion to providing the proper number of port-a-potties for 26,000 people so we ended up missing our assigned start due to the crazy port-a-potty lines. No matter, we started and that's what counts.
I expected there to be tons of people out cheering for us, but uh, 7am in New Orleans on a Sunday? Yeah, not a lot of people are up. Regardless, we soldiered on. It was lovely to be running somewhere new, and pretty. The mood among the runners was festive and all was well.
Well, not all. There were water stations every 1.8 miles instead of every mile at St. Jude (my only comparison) and going in I didn't think it would matter, but OMG. I got SO thirsty. I was really mad at myself for not just wearing my fuel belt.
In addition to being thirsty, I also got rather hot. The temps were in the upper 60s, which is great for walking around the Quarter, but a tad hot for running. (My favorite running temp is 32.) Oh, and remember my port-a-potty complaint? Along the route the PPs were even more sparse. There was maybe one or two every two-three miles. Insanity! You could seriously lose 5-10 minutes waiting in line. Luckily we managed to hold out until mile 9 where they had about ten that no one else seemed to notice.
We were in, and out, and on our way. The last few miles of a long run are always the hardest, but the last few in New Orleans were especially hard. As I mentioned, I was hot & thirsty and I was fast becoming mentally weak. Ashley, however, was doing great. By mile 11 I made her leave me. Her pace was increasing and I needed to slow down. I took a little walk and tried to get my head back in the game, then I dashed to the end.
There is a really hilarious picture of me crossing the finish line that I will never show anyone. I am bright red and look like I am ready to die!
As I moseyed through the post race area collecting bananas, bagels, water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk, I just hoped I wouldn't pass out. I checked my Runkeeper to see what my time was, but it hadn't worked. (Because of the corrals, not everyone starts when the clock does so you have to do some math to figure out your time at the end. I was not capable of math.) I thought I was pretty close to my St. Jude time, maybe a tad slower. I was ok with that.
I wandered over to the area where the Star Runners were meeting and I must have looked pretty bad because Star was like, "Are you ok?" I nodded and then collapsed on the ground. (Collapsed may be a tad dramatic. I was conscious.) Star tried to cheer me up. "Some races just suck," she said. I loved that.
Ashley wasn't at the meet up, but we did eventually find each other. Even though she felt great and insisted she could have done the entire marathon, her math skills were sorely lacking. "I think I finished 27 minutes slower than St. Jude," she said despondently.
I assured her that she was completely wrong, and then convinced her it would be faster to walk 4 miles back to the apartment rather than wait in the huge ass line for the shuttles. (Seriously, shuttling 26,000 people after a race! Not a fan of the finish line being so far from the start.)
As we made our way out of City Park I took note of the hundreds of unused port-a-potties lined up throughout the park. Did the organizers really think everyone would wait until the very end and then seek out PPs on the edges of the park? WTF? It was super annoying. Just sayin.
Anyways, on to the fun part! After a lovely scenic walk, we showered, and then went to the Bulldog on Magazine for some food and drinks on their awesome patio.
When we did finally get our official times, it was incredibly surprising in the best possible way to learn that we both beat our St. Jude time by several minutes! That means a personal record for us both. And, even though I made Ashley leave me, she only beat me by two minutes.
But the moral of this story is--Rock-n-Roll Marathon organizers are dumb. Almost as dumb as people who decide to run very long distances in New Orleans rather than just going to party and eat!