Several months ago, fellow frunner (runner and friend) Fred posted an article on his blog (http://www.nolarunner.com/) showing the medal previews for several upcoming local races. This photo popped up on his page and I knew right then and there that I HAD TO HAVE THAT Z!! Anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter knows that I am about all things Z! My son is Baby Z. My husband is Mr. Z. I am Jennifer Z. So when I saw the medal for the Zydeco Marathon in Lafayette I knew, KNEW I had to have it. I had planned to train for this half a little better than I did. But after the fiasco that was the New Orleans Rock n Roll race in February (I may do a race recap on that one if I can get up out of the fetal position in the corner whenever I think about it), plus persistent hip issues, my race training fell to pretty much sitting on my butt on the couch catching up on the last season of “Homeland”. As race weekend approached I knew this was just going to be a “go out there and have fun with it” race. I wasn’t going to worry at all about time since this was, for the most part, running 13.1 miles off the couch. The week before the race, I really had no intention of wearing a tutu. I’m a fan of the running tutu, but it just hadn’t even crossed my mind to wear one for this race. That is until THIS, now infamous, article came out about Self magazine and Glam Runner Monika Allen. If you haven’t heard about or read the article, it essentially called women who run in tutus “lame”. Huge PR nightmare later, Self apologizes (kinda) and donates to Monika’s charity…yadda, yadda, yadda. If anything positive could come out of that debacle at least Monika’s charity got a nice donation and awareness from all the publicity. Plus, I think it really united runners in showing their tutu love. So, to show my solidarity I decided to whip together a tutu the night before the race…to include bunny ears and a tail.
We got into Lafayette on Saturday and we hit the Expo, picked up our race bibs, and then headed out for some delicious po’ boys at Old Tyme Grocery. They seriously have the best shrimp po’ boy around in my humble opinion. The Expo was actually pretty decent for an inaugural, local race. Packet pickup was very smooth and quick. There were several local vendors there as well that I hadn’t seen at other race expos. I even picked up a box of Zydeco Energy Bars – sweetened naturally with sweet potato! I will be doing a product review on those later.
Race morning the alarm clock went off at 5:30. Sitting up in bed I thought, “Why in the crap do I do this to myself, on the weekend,…for fun!!???”. We rolled out of bed, got dressed and jumped into the car to head to the Cajundome. Parking was abundant and easy to find. The weather was perfect (upper 40s race start – 60s race finish). We made our way to the race start and waited the 15-20 minutes until 7:00 for the start gun. I started to run to the porta-potty in that time, just in case, but the lines were so massively long that I said forget it. Almost race time. We made our way to the back of the pack (stroller pushing) and counted down the minutes to run. I must say, the lady who sang the national anthem before the race did an AMAZING job. She was simply phenomenal.
7:00 and we are off!!
The course took you through some really great parts of Lafayette, both residential and retail. It was pretty narrow in spots and in one area we had to run single file. It was a bit hard to maneuver with a stroller but the narrow parts were very short and few and far between. One of the coolest things was the entire course was marked with Z’s!! Z course markers were spray painted on the roads and even all of the mile markers had big Z’s on them. Every mile made me smile. The course support was amazing. Between the volunteers, the police and the family and friends just out cheering, everything was top notch. And let me tell you, I was so glad I wore that bunny tutu for the race. I cannot tell you how many little kids (and adults) lit up, waved, and shouted, “Go Easter Bunny!!!” at me. To see the smile on their faces made my day and made the miles go by that much faster. So NOT lame if you ask me. Mile 10 hit and my legs were getting tired. My body and joints didn’t hurt, which is odd because they usually do at that point. But, my legs were just dead. Jelly. We ran/walked it in from that point and finished strong with a (small) sprint to the finish.
The post race festival was full of food, beer and fun. They had vendors cooking and serving everything from andouille gumbo, to pasta jambalaya, to fried catfish, to shrimp tacos, to funnel cakes, to cotton candy, to cookies, to snowcones!! The food was non-stop and so, so good. I think I managed to eat every calorie I had just burned in a matter of 15 minutes. I met up with Fred to give him a bit sweaty hug and say howdy. We stuck around a bit longer, ate a bit more food, and then had to get back to the hotel to get our sweaty bods showered and packed before check-out time.
All in all it was a fantastic race. I will definitely be back to run this one again. It was very well done. Here’s a quick break down of the pros and cons:
- Packet pickup and expo parking were easy to find and maneuver
- Very good race communication via email
- Decent expo with some local vendors I hadn’t seen at previous races
- Race day parking was abundant and again EASY to maneuver
- Good, scenic course highlighting some nice sights of Lafayette
- GREAT course marking (loved those Z’s!!)
- GREAT course support. Thanks to all the volunteers and police.
- Excellent water station placements and very good staffing of water stations
- Really good food at the finish festival. Plus they give you plenty of food voucher tickets on your bib to eat and drink yourself silly.
- Not enough porta-potties at the beginning. The lines were really long and they stayed long at all the potties until about mile 6.
- Narrow course in places made it difficult to run with a partner and stroller. We had to run single file in a couple of places.
- The finish line was a bit of a cluster. They need some people there to direct finishers to keep moving to the finish festival. People were loitering after the finish and it turned into a big mess of a bottle neck. After 13 miles of pushing a stroller I do not want to maneuver around even MORE mobs of people standing still right after the cross.