RnR New Orleans Marathon
On Sunday, I ran the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon. After two DNFs due to illness and maybe a mental block, all I wanted was to finish this one. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I was. Once you have to DNF from a race, it either makes it easier to make that decision afterwards, or it plays with your mind for a while. Not sure which one I had, but I really felt unsure I would be able to complete the distance but needed to because otherwise, my mind would win for the rest of the year.
This was to be my 32nd marathon an ultra (say what?) and my 8th state, not counting Puerto Rico, so I was looking forward to adding another state in my 50 in 50 quest.
We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon, since it was our first trip to NOLA and we wanted to experience the city, the atmosphere, the culture. I was a bit worried about the food, since I am allergic to shellfish, and wondered if I could find something nice to eat and be able to experience the culture and food without eating shellfish, but I had almost no problems with that (had a bit of cross contamination, but nothing major). One thing I found is that NOLA had worse allergens than Miami, at least at this time of year. My allergies were acting up from the start and they are still giving me a bit of an issue today.
The city was very nice. A bit smaller than I expected, but also much cleaner, safer, quieter, than I expected. We walked to Bourbon Street and walked it from beginning to end, and that was a bit of a disappointment. I always assumed the locals would still be around the area, and the music scene would be there as well, but they were not. Serves me right for assuming, ha. We also met my friend, and fellow admin of the For the Love of INKnBURN FB group, Michele, and her husband. It was nice to meet her in person and getting to know her a little better. Picture!
Obviously, we were both decked in INB, as normal fans are. :)
After saying goodbye to Michele, Richard and I walked to Café Du Monde, to get some beignets from there before walking back to the Hard Rock Café on Bourbon Street for dinner. We love eating at every Hard Rock Café we can find around the world and New Orleans was no exception. We shared some nachos and a sangria pitcher. Our vacation started well, IMO.
On Friday, we headed to the expo, which was not far from the hotel (in fact, everything is within walking distance there, love it). We had breakfast at the Harrah's Buffet and, except for the bit of cross contamination I got with my omelet (oh, that shellfish), it was delicious. And they had beignets there too. Win.
We met a friend of mine from the MRT Turtles FB group (it's not about time, but about attitude!) and it was a pleasure to finally meet Allison. She is as lovely as the internet has shown. :) More pics.
Since we usually do the expos last minute on the last day, it was a rare experience for me to see an empty expo full of a couple of runners and nothing else. We then headed to lunch and later to explore a bit more of the city by using the Hop On, Hop Off buses. We had dinner and tried to sleep a bit better than the night before. It was unsuccessful.
By Saturday morning, I had noticed that my allergies were bad and I had my first nose bleed of the weekend. Fortunately, the dewpoint was so low, my breathing was good. We explored the WWII Museum, which I think it's a must if visiting NOLA, and we met my friend Melissa from the Smoking Hot Mammals FB group after the museum. I have known her for close to 7 years but never met her in person. It was a very nice day!
We finished Saturday with a trip to the Aquarium, including Melissa. Like I said, a great day!
Race Day is here! I woke up after another sleepless night with a migraine and stomach issues. Ugh. I thought the stomach issues would stop or delay until after the marathon, but as you can see later, they did not. I took an Immodium, together with my normal meds before the race, had some calories in the form of a non-Krispy Kreme donut (sniff, we didn't find any for this trip and I should have bought my own) and sip a bit of my Mountain Dew, but didn't feel like I wanted to eat/drink anything else. We headed to the corrals closer to 7am and stood near my corral, Corral # 10. Took some pictures and met a couple of ladies from the INB group, who I had been looking forward to meeting and they did not disappoint.
Of course I was decked in INB, doh. The arm warmers, I knew, were coming off at some point, since it was 45F then but predicted to go up to 70F, too hot for marathoning, IMO, but what can you do. This was a just finish race, not a goal race. But I wore my favorite Bandit camisole to get a bit of badassness rubbed off on me since my mind was telling me to quit already. My head hurt here.
The race started at 7:33am, almost on time. My corral started around 12 minutes later, said goodbye to my husband and started. I found the GPS did not do well near the CBD (Central Business District) because my first mile was a full 0.10 before the actual marker. I also found the roads full of holes, so the going was rough. I almost trip and fell twice, oy. I was trying an easyish pace at the start and felt fine, albeit a bit warm. The arm warmers went off by Mile 1 and even then, I felt it was too warm already. The temps went up to 68F before I finished the first half, 70+ by the time I finished the full. The race, especially the second half, has no shade. I am sunburned, ha.
At Mile 5.53, my Garmin froze. Gah! It didn't come back up until Mile 24, and by then it was too late. After that, I had no idea of what my pace was like, but I knew that I had done the 5.53 in 56 minutes and change, so not bad. After the halfway point, I pulled my phone out and (while running), quickly texted hubby that I had no Garmin and to please text me the splits when they happened. Apparently, I ran the HM in 2:15 something, which was good, but a bit faster than I wanted at that point, with half of the race still ongoing. I think by Mile 20, the pace was somewhere close to 10:40, so I slowed down a lot (details below).
Miles 14-16 went well. I was looking at the mile markers and making a quick math and most splits had been between 10:08-10:20, so around where I wanted at that point. I had taken gels at Miles 4.5, 9, 13.50(ish since no Garmin), but after Mile 16, my stomach cramps got worse so it was time to find a potta potty. I think I stopped at one somewhere before my Mile 18 gel, so 17ish. And again at Mile 19, and then later at Mile 23. It was frustrating!
The rest of the race went by roughly. The sun was relentless and it was already 70F or even more. I was dehydrated from the migraine and, even though I was taking two cups at every water station, one for drinking and one for going over my head, I felt thirsty. I kept my gels going when they were supposed to and my energy was fine; I just lost a bit of time stopping for the bathroom and walking. Cause at some point, the sun killed me and I walked. Still, I was having a good time. I high-fived kids, took some beer from one of the stations (by that time, the stomach had settled), and headed to the finish. After 13 miles of relentless sun, a cloud passed by and I finished in the shade. I wish that cloud had been with us all race long. I finished in 4:52:23, 18 minutes from my PR but far from being a PW. I was happy with that.
My husband had already finished his race, showered, checked out of the hotel and driven to the finish to pick me up. I found the line for the finisher's jacket (which is lovely but I forgot to take a picture of it), and met my husband. We headed straight to lunch, the airport, and home.
It was a nice race and I am glad I battled the DNF demon and prevailed. I also better get used to the slowing times until my goal race, as adding marathons every month will take their toll as the time goes by. Next one is in less than three weeks!