Here it is, the race recap!
You might remember that I’ve been struggling with race anxiety, and that I’ve been actively working to alleviate it. Well, this race I felt pretty calm compared to usual. I slept really well both nights leading up to it (only one minor dream about missing the start and begging the race people to let me run the course anyway), and I felt “normal” levels of stomach butterflies. I ate my usual breakfast of banana, Clif Bar, sweet potato/beet purée, coffee and some UCAN. The eating was done almost 3 hours before the 7:30am race start.
It was a little chilly and windy out at 6am. I had on a Skirt Sport skirt, tank top and homemade arm warmers made out of cheap socks from Wal-Mart. I also had on a throwaway half zip and the Brooks visor I’d bought at the expo the day before. I did some dynamic warm ups and felt good to go. The temps were in the mid-40s — perfect race weather.
The race started at the corner of Poydras and Camp street, right near Lafayette Square. I was assigned to Corral 2, and a mere minutes after Corrals 1 and 1A were released, we were off. There was a woman stationed in front of me who had been originally corralled to 5, but had done an official change. Well, she had no business in Corral 2 and was in a bunch of people’s way. Corral assignments are self-reported to RnR, so it’s not the race’s fault. I get irritated by people who do stuff like this, though, since it can be a hazard. I also noticed some people running off course in a slight shortcut. Really, people, stay on the official course. Where are your race manners?
Not long after I left the woman in the dust, I settled into my pace, which was on target at 8:19 & 8:18 for the first two miles. I saw my husband at mile 2. The roads were a tiny bit tricky as they had a significant crowning to allow for water runoff and there were a lot of cracks/uneven spots. I spent a little more time looking at the ground than I’d have liked because I wanted to enjoy the scenery. Between miles 3 and 4, we were able to see the front runners go by in the other direction on St Charles Street, which is always inspiring for me. They all looked so steady and purposeful… and serious! The lead female was way ahead of the next female; she ended up winning by over 3 minutes faster than the next competitor. There were some fun bands along the course, and I was glad I chose to not use my iPhone for entertainment.
Midway through mile 4, we hit the turnaround. I thought, “My legs are starting to feel good now. Maybe that negative split I’m hoping for is going to happen.” Ha, I wish. My splits here were a little slower, 8:26, 8:30, 8:33. I was ok with this because I wanted to be able to speed up starting around mile 8. I’d done that last year at the DC Nike Half and it was the best feeling.
Sadly, my stomach had other ideas and around mile 6, it felt like I’d swallowed a rock. This time it felt like lactic acid build up, although at the pace I was going shouldn’t have been happening.
Around here, we passed a band we’d run past earlier, and they’d struck up “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which made the crowd go bonkers. Especially the people on the other side of St Charles who were only 2-3 miles into their run. There is something to be said for racing just for kicks because they were a happy bunch. I pitched my arm warmers as the sun had warmed me up, and I focused on not losing too much speed and maintaining what pace I could without tossing my cookies. I knew I could make it through because I’d done way more miles feeling sick at the Baystate Marathon, but I also wanted to maintain a faster pace. So I sucked it up and kept my feet moving. My legs felt great, which just made it more frustrating.
At around mile 8.4, I think, I saw my husband again. I was trundling along at around an 8:35 pace. He got some pics of me trying to show off my Simple Hydration bottle (which looks kind of awkward, but whatever. BTW, if you’re interested in getting 20% off a Simple Hydration bottle, just leave me a comment or email me). I look happier than I felt. I was a little afraid my husband would run a few miles with me if he knew I was struggling, and I felt like that would make me cranky. My husband ran off to catch a shuttle bus to the finish line.
I wish that I had pushed a little harder through this portion of the race. I always tell myself to be strong and that it’s ok to throw up, but when I get into the moment, I haven’t mastered sticking with that thought process. I get worried about not finishing, which is silly at this point since I run 13 miles twice a week now. But my brain got the better of me and instead of picking up speed, I actually slowed down some. This was a scenic part of the course where we ran by the French Market and Jackson Square, but I missed most of it in my belly-aching. Surprisingly, the miles went by fast despite my malaise. Mile 11 was my slowest at an 8:53 (I honestly don’t know why that one was so bad in particular).
We ran up Esplanade’s tree lined neighborhoods and I focused on not dropping pace. I really wanted to hit the gas, but any attempts at speed were met with a rising nausea. I’d planned on testing out “picking off” runners around this point. I’ve always been a little weird about passing people, but it’s lessened with experience. I’ve noticed a lot of runners use this method of reeling in runners as a motivator late in races. The best I managed was trying to hang with people going at a steady pace.
At mile 12.5, the marathoners split off to the left and we stayed straight. I was seriously relieved to not be running another 13+ miles, even on such a lovely course. My legs and hips felt great, but my stomach was not in on the fun.
As we headed into city park, I saw a RnR banner in the distance and decided to sprint. I figured it didn’t matter if I puked at this point. I cranked up the speed and passed a slew of people… only to realize that it was a false finish line. I still had .1 mile to go. Dummy. I’m pretty happy with some of my race pictures from then, though, because I look like I’m really moving. I guess I gave some guy a high five since there is photographic evidence, but I don’t remember doing it at all.
I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:53:00, a new PR by 2:22. Seeing as my B-goal was 1:52:xx… ugh, if I’d just hustled a second sooner! I finished in the top 5% for my age group, top 6% of females and top 12% overall. Not bad for my last race in the 40-44 age group.
Once I stopped moving, it was pretty chilly. Luckily, my husband had the credit cards on him, so we went to the Brooks booth and bought me a long sleeve shirt and a short sleeve shirt. My race shirts from Brooks are my most frequently used. They make nice quality stuff. Because my Skirt Sports skirt had streaks of color in it, I looked stylin’!
I had committed one race no-no of wearing new gear — the Brooks visor — but it turned out to be an awesome choice. I usually use either sunglasses or a Nike hat when I run sunny races, but I’ve not been thrilled with either. The hat is a nice little cap, but it bugs me that the top of my head would get so warm and sweaty. And I look stupid in all my sunglasses (I need a new face). I’d tried a few visors, but disliked them all until I tried the Brooks one at the expo. It was the perfect weight and shielded my eyes from the sun, which was particularly needed running the return segment on St Charles with the low rising sun.
I’d paid for the RnR VIP package, but I didn’t really use it this time. I wish I had, however, as the brunch spread was tasty. But I hadn’t bought my husband a pass, and it didn’t seem right to leave him outside the velvet ropes. So my purchase ended up being an expensive couple bottles of water.
If I’d planned better in advance (because I get dumb during and post-race), I would’ve realized that we should’ve gone to the NOMA sculpture garden not far from the finish before returning to listen to the Trombone Shorty/KONGOS concert. Instead, we lolled around on the grass waiting while my sunblock-free spouse got a bit sunburnt. I really wanted to see the George Segal statues as he’s a favorite artist, but I guess we’ll have to take another trip to NOLA.
The bands were awesome, if loud (showing my age again, I asked my husband if the decibels were greater than when we were young and concert-going, and he said no, that our tolerance is just less). I absolutely love the KONGOS song, Come With Me Now, which was on my running music playlist long before they were announced as the headliner. It was so cool to hear them in person. What’s not to love about anthem rock with an accordian?
Coming up next post: what I ate now that I was free to gorge…