Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans marathon recap

Well I did it. I crazily signed up for, trained, and ran my 5th marathon on Sunday. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans full marathon and finished all 26.2 miles of that beast. This was kind of a bucket list race for me. I had signed up for the full two times before and had to defer to the half both times. The first time I had the flu the week before. The second time I was pregnant with Baby Z-peat. So, third time was the charm. I was GOING to cross that finish line if it killed me (and it almost did!! or felt like it).

I had trained with two wonderful frunners Sarah and Denise for this marathon. It was going to be their first and since coming back to running after having Baby Z-peat it felt like I was totally starting over and re-training for my first. They helped me so much with motivating me to keep going on those long runs. My amazing ultra-running friend Kerrie kicked my butt and kept me going when I was whining daily to her that I just wanted to quit. My husband was a huge support, helping juggle the kids while I trained. I could not have done any of this without these people.

The Saturday before the race we left around mid-day to head down the expo and pick up our race packets. I usually hit up the expo on Fridays so it’s not very crowded when I get there. Ummm..Saturday at 2:00 is a CRAZY time to go. Let me just tell you. It was pretty crowded. Booths felt a little smooshed together and it was hard to walk around and just look. We picked up our race packets, ran into several people we knew, and looked at some of the race merchandise.

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I didn’t really find anything I had to have at the expo (shocker, I know!) but it’s always fun to browse and window shop for new products.

I loved that I was able to visit with my dear friend Heather. She’d just come back from Disney Princess weekend and was going to run the half on Sunday on a cranky IT band. I don’t know how she does it!

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We ate dinner at a little pizza place down the street early and then decided to call it a night at the hotel…after raiding the lounge at the Marriot for cookies and deserts. 🙂

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Race morning we woke up around 5:30 to get dressed and eat a little breakfast before our walk over to the race start a few blocks away. I checked the weather again for the 1,000th time and it hadn’t changed. It was going to be a warm one. Ugh. I don’t run well at all in the warm weather. In fact, I’m terrible in it. I was worried.

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But I put on my big girl panties, my shoe bling, my great Move Ya Brass shirt, and my 2XU compression socks and tights. We were suited up and ready to run!

It took us about 22 minutes to get to the start line in our corral but we finally snailed our way there and it was time to go. My race strategy was to initially run a slow and steady 10:00/mile pace for the first half and then slow down as needed to 11:00/mile on the second half.

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The race route sent us down St. Charles for the initial few miles. I’m very familiar with this route as we run it for many New Orleans races. The roads are bad. I knew this. But, now the roads were bad plus add 10,000 additional people plus add heat and humidity plus add construction. Yes. Construction. It was a crazy, crowded, hot, humid, and then they had to shut the roads down to single lane in one section. Every time I found I good pace I would get bottle-necked and have to slow down. It was a mess.

My 10:00/mile pace actually felt really good and easy. I wasn’t struggling with it and I was doing really well dodging pot holes and trolley car lines and walkers. Before I knew it we were turning back into the CBD. We ran through the Quarter and up Esplanade to head towards City Park. I was still feeling good and was finding a better groove now that we were on the wider parts of Esplanade. I saw that mile 12 split – full marathoners to the left and half marathoners to the right. Whaaa. I wanted to go to the right but I put my head down and veered left.

Then the sun came out in full force. At mile 14 I started to get tired and decided to slow down. At mile 15 I started to get hot. At mile 16 I started to get nauseated. At mile 17 I started to get miserable. Luckily I saw Sarah and Denise’s entire family waiting at mile 15. They were cheering us on and giving high fives, shouting, “You can do it!” as I passed. It was so great to see them!

I texted my husband at mile 15 letting him know I was struggling and that I was really slowing down. I knew he was waiting for me with the boys at mile 18. That’s honestly one of the few things that kept me going. I stopped and walked a bit and ate some Honey Stinger chews and pretzels. I tried to consciously drink water from my hydration vest to make sure I was hydrating with the heat.

The race volunteers were handing out salt with the water and Gatorade and I took one, feeling the salt crusted up on my face from all the sweat. That and the solid food on my stomach helped a little bit with the nausea.

I turned the corner up to Lakeshore drive and started looking for my husband and boys. I see them a little down the road and I cannot wait to see their smiling faces. Then I see another person with them. Wait a second! That looks like my mom. That IS my mom!! She had snuck in the night before to surprise me on the course. It was so wonderful to have her out there cheering me on too!

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The bottom right picture is me realizing that she was there with everyone!! My husband had special t-shirts printed up that said “My mommy rocks 26.2” and “My wife rocks 26.2”. HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!???!

I gave them all big, sweaty, runner hugs and kisses and told them I’d see them at the finish line. Whimpering, I slowly trudged my way back out onto the course to finish up those last 7 miles.

The back half of this course is pretty desolate and there are a few bridges to go over. Not much shade and not much race support out there so having my family at mile 18 was a huge uplift.

By mile 20 I had resigned myself to run/walking it in the rest of the way. Time be damned, I just wanted to be DONE. I was hurting, I was tired, I was hot, and I wanted to throw up. Ugh. But I pushed and kept going one step at a time. Right around then is when Sarah caught up with me. THANK GOD she did! She and I ran in those last 5 miles together pushing each other up those bridges and  around the corners. I’m not sure I would have made it without her.

It’s all pretty much a blur until mile 26 when I knew we were ALMOST DONE! We entered the chute for the final stretch and we were powering it in to finish. Sarah got my attention and pointed to my family cheering off to the left. My husband dropped my son over the fence and he grabbed my hand and ran in the last part of the race with me. He was beaming from ear to ear and we ran down the finish and everyone was cheering. He loved it, and honestly, I did too. It was a special  moment.

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We crossed the finish line and got my medal. One of the best things they were doing immediately after you crossed was they were handing out icy cold, wet, towels. It felt amazing to wash the salt and sweat off of my neck and face and arms. I chugged a cold chocolate milk and more water and found the rest of my family. We cheered Denise in not long after our finish and all hugged her neck after she crossed the finish line. We did it! We did it! We finished 26.2 mile in some pretty rough conditions! These girls powered through a tough, tough course for their first and they made it look easy. I was so, very proud of them!

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Not long after our finish we made a bee-line for our finishers jacket. I wanted that damn jacket! I’d earned that baby!

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Now I think I may never take it off again.

You can also see my race write up on Bibrave.com here: Rock N Roll New Orleans Race Recap

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Crescent City Classic 2015 Expo

You can often judge the success of a race based on their expo and vendors. Usually for a 10k you don’t expect much of an expo, or even one at all. It’s usually pick up your race packet  and t-shirt and then “See ya at the start!” Let me tell you, NOT with the Crescent City Classic 10k expo. They have an expo that rivals most half and full marathon expos I’ve been to! The expo is held on the Thursday and Friday before the race at the Hyatt Regency in downtown New Orleans. It’s a gorgeous and HUMONGOUS hotel. Thankfully they have signs pointing everyone in the right direction of I would have been lost and attending some banker convention.

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I was already working downtown on Thursday, so I decided to just pop over that afternoon and walk through the expo and grab my bib. One of the things I love so much about this expo is that they really promote the local businesses and running community. As we were riding down the escalator to the expo there was a HUGE Community Coffee blow-up coffee cup. Ahhhh…coffee. That might just hold me over for the day. Ha!

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There were good signs directing you right where to go to pick up your race bib. It was so quick and easy. I even picked up two other bibs for friends by proxy. All they needed was my ID and the email print out from my friends so they could look up our names. They found our corrals (sorted by color) and issued me our bibs. (Yes, I was a dork and forgot to take off my work lanyard).

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Once I received by bib I turned the corner to the fun! Varsity Sports and Brooks Run Happy were there with all the fun Brooks games and SWAG. Community Coffee had a huge set-up with free coffee, a mega Keurig machine and coupons and free k-cups. I grabbed…well, let’s just say, a few. Blue Runner was there handing out samples of their red beans and rice and Michelob Ultra was there handing out BEER!! Yes. I said BEER!!!! Only in New Orleans….beer AT the expo.

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They strategically placed the t-shirts so you had to walk through all of the merchandise to get your shirt. Nice job guys. Ya got me for a pair of sunglasses and a couple of t-shirts! I got this super cute onesie and matching tee for me from Nola Girl.

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And I also got to meet Robin and snag one of her uber cute tanks from Fit By You. Isn’t she just adorable!!! So sweet too.

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Towards the end of the expo Winn-Dixie had a whole wall set up of freebies to try and you could even take a fun picture with the Easter Bunny! (Not exactly sure which camera I’m looking into but my friends look lovely).

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Some of the other local vendors there included Dirty South Running and CHRONOS Body, Health, & Wellness Spa (I want a Mother’s Day package there please!). Many of the local half and full marathon race organizers were present as well, often offering a discount for race sign-up at the expo.

I didn’t have time to stay and listen to any of the speakers they had scheduled but there were some great topics for runners. Sad to say, I missed the second line on Friday at the expo. It looked so fun!

All in all it was an excellent expo and just one more reason why I love the Crescent City Classic.

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