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.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Not long after our finish we made a bee-line for our finishers jacket. I wanted that damn jacket! I’d earned that baby!
Now I think I may never take it off again.