Recently I’ve implemented a rule about not repeating states, and especially races but for a few reasons this past weekend I repeated Louisiana – 1. The firs time I ran was before I was writing about it, so I guess you could say it never really happened (same with Georgia…..) 2. I stumbled into a free bib…read on my friends, read on.
I traveled to New Orleans over the weekend with the idea in mind that I would visit with friends, coach a few people in the Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon and cheer on my roommate in the race as well. Everything was going according to plan until the expo. Several friends dropped out of the race due to injuries and had offered up their bib to me, so that I could keep Erin company on her run. As we wandered around the expo, sponsored by Brooks, I was seriously contemplating being her rabbit. I was simultaneously wondering if I would run into Mike, the Brooks rep I knew when I worked at Texas Running Company.
Not two minutes later, Mike appeared right behind me. I introduced him to my friends Erin and Sharon and we talked about the race. As soon as he found out I wasn’t registered, he offered up a promo code for a free entry…..and just like that I was running the race on Sunday (and Sharon’s hopes of a PR-despite-hip-injury were dashed).
We spent the rest of Saturday walking around the streets of the French Quarter – stopping at VooDoo shops, tutu shopping, tasting the famous muffeletta sandwich at Central Grocery and having our oracles read at a gypsy stop in Jackson Square. All the typical things you’d expect to find in New Orleans, with the background noise of big band music in the background.
We broke all the rules of day-before-the-race procedures but that’s the trouble with destination races. I’m not about to drive 8+ hours to NOLA and not be on my feet exploring the town and eating the local fare. Sharon was so wonderful to us, touring us around and serving as the transport from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. I met some old friends and clients from Memphis for dinner at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. My meal was perfect – a delicious salad, half a personal pizza and a glass of wine. It took a while and the temperatures dropped significantly when the sun went down but I was glad to spend as much time with my peeps.
Race day came early. Erin and I were up before 5 to make sure we could be on the road by then. I was nervous because I hadn’t run more than 5 miles since my Tulsa race in November. Erin was nervous because she wanted a PR. On the walk to the car from Sharon’s house we were greeted with fog, humidity and warm temperatures. Sharon dropped us off and we set out to find bathrooms, Ryan (remember from Tulsa?) and corral 5. Found the bathrooms in a hotel on the way (the poor hostesses were overwhelmed by the line, and I think had given up trying to tell runners they couldn’t come in). Found Ryan right where we said we would meet, between corrals five and six. And then the corral.
Erin and I had discussed but not agreed on a race strategy. I like to start slowly and progressively get faster. She likes to start fast knowing that she’ll slow down later. We decided to run our own races, and Ryan and I decided to stay together until the split. I kept Erin in my sight the best I could for the first few miles but lost track of her at a water stop somewhere. The first eight miles of the race were down and back the historic and beautiful St. Charles street. Not even to the second mile marker we were all drenched in sweat from the 98% humidity but I tried to keep everyone positive since I didn’t have much riding on the race. In my typical Instarunner fashion (follow future races @spressica), I stopped for pictures every once and a while (good interval practice catching back up). Once we turned to run along the river the humidity was 100%. Yes. I know what that infers. Have a look at the picture of the cathedral below. Oh, you can’t see it? Yes, 100% humidity. By this time I’m dumping a cup of water on my head at every stop, in addition to drinking one. The smell of king cake and doughnuts was never less appealing.
I felt strong most of the race and was happy to have handsome company most of the way. I’m almost positive I could have convinced Ryan to stay to the right with me at the marathon turn off but that’s not very coach-like so I sent him off with positive vibes, a high five and “See ya in Little Rock”. I guess we’ll stick with this pattern of me quitting on him half way through his race……
After we split, I turned around to find Erin and make sure she pushed it to the finish. We crossed the line together with plenty of time to spare for a PR! The course was a point to point so we loaded school buses with a dozen other smelly and stiff runners to head back to town. And straight to beignets. The perfect grand finale to an amazing weekend with fabulous company.