Some of you may already know how this story ends – some of you may not. Either way, it’s a great tale to tell. Sit tight and enjoy the ride! I’m only recapping the actual race right now, the rest of the weekend in another post!*******************************************************************
Sunday morning I rolled out of bed somewhere around 5:30 a.m. My first thought – why is it so early? I still managed to get up and get dressed – slowly but surely. Super Coachy delivered me a cup of coffee – he’s awesome and knows me well enough to know my caffeine addiction runs deep (so does his for that matter, probably why he was up gathering coffee so early in the morning…). While finishing up getting dressed and strategically applying Body Glide and Vaseline, I drank my coffee and ate my Luna Protein Bar and banana.
I met Coachy and our friend Tim and his girlfriend outside the hotel around 6:15. Again thinking, why so early? I didn’t realize it until race morning – the hotel was 2 blocks from the start!
It was a chilly 43 degrees at the start – since we were so close to the start, I went back to the hotel to use the bathroom one last time, no lines and much cleaner than any port-a-potty I’ve ever been in.
We all made our way to our respective corrals around 6:50 a.m. While standing in my corral, I started looking around to see if I knew anyone else. Well, what do you know? I saw Heather, fellow FitFluential Ambassador, Running Skirts sales-rep, and all around super sweet girl. I hung with her and her hubby while I munched on a package of Honey Stinger chews for extra fuel. It was great finding them and having someone to chat with, since I was getting a pretty bad-ass case of the pre-race jitters.
What seemed like an eternity later – our corral finally got to start, at 7:20 a.m. It was really crowded and slow going at first but I managed to break free for a 9:52 Mile 1.
I knew that was too fast – my goal for this race was to start around a 10 pace, for 5-6 miles, pick it up in the middle if I was feeling it, for as long as I was feeling it.
I slowed it down but kept around my intended goal pace for the next few miles. I was feeling great and really enjoying the scenery down St. Charles Avenue – HUGE trees lined the road, as well as old homes and scenic buildings.
After turning around on St. Charles we headed back toward the French Quarter and Canal Street. I was starting to feel a little crummy – I was frustrated that we were still with the half marathoners because it was exhausting fighting crowds – crowds for water, crowds on the street, a LOT of people slower than me were in front of me, and walkers were taking up half the road (no offense to walkers, but PLEASE move over to the side and don’t take up the entire road!). I couldn’t wait for the split. I still managed to keep pace through all of this, but it was exhausting.
We hit the Half/Full split at Mile 12 – and all I could think was “Why the hell am I running the full? I really wish I was running the half right now, then I’d be almost done!”
That was also my slowest mile in the first half of the race.
I forced myself to snap out of that nonsense frame of mind immediately. I still felt tired and I was getting sore, but with 14 more miles to go I chugged on. I also popped a couple of Advil to help from getting too sore.
I reached the half in 2:11:41 – perfect for a sub 4:30 marathon, right? At this point 4:30 still felt within my reach – but it is a marathon. I knew I had a good cushion, but wasn’t sure how the rest of the race was going to go.
I slowed way down on Mile 15 – the only part of the race that I really felt a substantial gap in the water stops. I was getting hot and thirsty, and I needed fuel. I always get to a point during a long run or race that I can’t fuel any more without water.
Once I got to the water stop, I fueled up on a few Honey Stinger chews and allowed myself a longer than usual walk break. I literally just bit my chews in half and swallowed them with water like they were pills. I started fueling at almost every stop at this point, smaller portions, of course, but the water made it easier. I still had plenty of cushion for 4:30 at the end of that mile. I also took the time to plug in my 2nd headphone – up until now I had been running with one headphone out, so I could pause my iPod and listen to the bands along the course as I went. But now I needed to focus.
Miles 17-19 were beautiful – we ran along Lakeshore Drive, overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. Since this was a really long out and back, I could see all the faster than me runners headed in the opposite direction. I occupied my brain by trying to spot Coachy along the course. While running down this out and back I was also bopping along to all of the awesome songs I had on my playlist (I’ll have to share with you – it was AWESOME). People look at you funny when you’re bopping your head and half dance-running while mouthing the words to the songs in your iPod during a marathon. I didn’t care, I was having fun.
FINALLY I spotted Coachy at Mile 19! Exciting because he was around Mile 22 – and he started in Corral 5 – so I knew I was kicking some Marathon booty!
That gave me a serious surge of energy and I ran a 10:07 Mile 20 – SAY WHAT?! How did THAT happen?! More bopping, word mouthing, and dancing.
I slowed down again after that, and began to really get sore. My lower back and feet were hurting – and my thighs were chafing. I literally stopped at every single person handing out Vaseline on the course. I decided very last minute to wear shorts, which was a good decision for the temperature, bad decision for my thighs.
Mile 21, however, was not so pretty – at 11:52. I started to really slow at this point. I pushed myself as hard as I could – never giving in to walking, except through the water stops. It was hard to keep running, but I would not allow myself to walk. If I gave into walking other than water stops, I would not have been happy with myself, or proud of my race, and I knew this would be my best marathon to date no matter what, so I wanted to finish proud and with a giant smile on my face.
As I started to get close to Mile 23 I realized I wasn’t going to break 4:30. I knew at that point I could either give up and just finish the race comfortably, or I could push myself and finish the best I could.
I chose to push. I gave myself a Plan B race goal at that split moment. And by the way, doing math in your head 23 miles into a marathon is tough. Really tough. I knew that I could still break 4:45 and still have a killer PR if I just ran my butt off the best my legs and feet would carry me for the next 3 miles.
That decision gave me an 11:17 Mile 23 – which, given how my legs and feet felt, was pretty freakin fast.
I got my final big surge of energy when we entered the park area and I saw Mile 25. I ended up running an 11:06 mile 26! I was psyched that I was “this close” to finishing my 3rd Marathon.
Once I entered the finish chute all of those feelings of pain, soreness, tiredness, you name it, faded as though they had never existed and my legs just started flying. I ran a 9:55 pace to finish Marathon #3.
9:55 after 26 miles?
9:55 on sore, tired legs?
YES PLEASE I WILL TAKE IT!
I was beyond thrilled when I crossed the finish line. And Coachy was waiting for me at the end! I was so glad to see him there when I crossed – I knew he’d be so proud of what I had just done!
Sure I didn’t make my original goal of a sub 4:30 race – but I was so close. I know I’ll get there in May.
But May doesn’t matter right now, this is what matters:
OFFICIAL TIME: 4:40:14
A 42 MINUTE PR!
More than 48 hours later I am still riding high. That’s going to take a long time to go away.
I leave you with this:
Rock N Roll New Orleans was a beautiful race. I would run that race again in a heartbeat. The entire course was beautiful, the spectators were fantastic, the weather was perfect. After the race we were entertained by a band called Flow Tribe – they were funky and soulful. Perfect post race music that was 100% what you would expect to hear when in New Orleans.
Sorry this post is so long! I’ll fill you in on the rest of the trip, along with pictures, another time!