Monday, March 5, 2012

Rock N Roll Nola: Race Report

This was a wonderful weekend overall. I probably partied a little harder than I should a couple of days before my first half marathon. I came to New Orleans Friday afternoon and went straight to the expo to get my packet and wander. There were going to be 20,000 runners, I knew the expo would be packed. Friday, it was slow, so I went to the Claim Your Journey booth to get a Run Louisiana t-shirt and meet a few people I had followed on twitter, then to the massive Brooks expo to get my gait analyzed. It was very informative. There were also lots of great other booths. I played at Garmin for a while. I'm still not enthused about spending that much on a watch, especially since manufacturers themselves have admitted that the watches aren't as accurate as most owners think. But my phone barely makes it 13 miles before the battery dies. I'll need something that lasts longer and soon. This whole time I was texting a friend who came in from Los Angeles with a group to run the race. He is trying to run all Rock N Roll races. We agreed to meet later that evening.

After I left the expo, I met my cousin to run errands and have a late lunch and cocktails. It's always great to talk to her, even when she tells me how wrong I am about things. After resting and imbibing a little more, I then met the Los Angeles group. We went to Mulate's which never disappoints. It was full of families who were in town for a cheerleading contest. Not a fan. We still had a good time then I went back to my cousin's house and passed out. Late morning Saturday, I was back the expo for a bunch of meetups with Run Louisiana/CYJ and the National Black Marathoners Association, then met some Black Girls Run! Baton Rouge friends to wander around the expo a bit more. It was very packed and I quickly got hot and was hungry and ready to leave. I got to our hotel, which was four blocks from the race start, dumped my things and headed to Copeland's for the big BGR! meetup. A total of 10 chapters were represented and the whole meetup was quite overwhelming animated.

When I and my two roommates got to the hotel for the night, we were beat. I had a couple of beers while I laid out my clothes. I told y'all there were lots of pre-race no-nos. On top of that, my monthly friend decided to pay me a visit. I was not happy. It also didn't make for a comfortable sleep, which is always an issue the night before a race. Oh well, gotta roll with the punches.

Oh and the whole race thing. I guess I should talk about that a little. We woke up around 5 a.m., got ready and headed out to the start. It was cold! I only had a long sleeve cotton shirt. I was kicking myself because I was SO sure it wouldn't be cold. Fail. The sun was just coming up and lots of other runners were headed our same way. We encountered a few groups of drunks who hadn't gone in for night. The first group we passed was too engrossed in a conversation about almost being arrested. The second group was aware of the marathon and gave us all high fives, wished us luck and kept moving. I'm a fan of nice drunks who keep it moving. First good sign.

Once we got to the main area, we met up with other BGR! runners, went to gear check and found a spot to stretch. We did two trips to the bathroom, but somehow I had to go again as I waited in my corral! I was in 12 of 26. I decided not to try and go again. That messed me up at the 2011 Crescent City Classic, but those corrals weren't managed well. I said I'd stop at a port o potty on the route. That didn't happen.

The race started at 7 a.m. We got to the starting line at 7:14 a.m. As I approached, I saw a BGR! shirt on a stick, waving in the air. It was running buddy and super cheerleader Rachel. She was right by the announcer's stage and he took notice and shouted out her and the group. That made me smile. What a perfect way to start! I wasn't too impressed with the bands, but the route was wonderful. I never tire of sight seeing in New Orleans, no matter how many times, or how I'm doing it. The crowds were great. Many runners popped off to the sides to hug and high-five family members or kiss kids and spouses. I loved that. So cute. The water stations were well staffed and the volunteers had on gloves. The one issue I had was inconsiderate walkers. Many of them would just stop and walk in the middle of the road, not making any effort to move to the side. I wanted to push a couple of them.

About a mile in, I started talking to myself, which I usually do. Not like "hi V, how's your day going?" "Quite well, how about yourself?" More like, "don't start too fast, watch the road, it's pretty uneven." Once I hit the halfway point, I gave myself a "good job. now start thinking about when you're going to pick up the pace" and "these bands suck, you may need to put some music on soon." During the race, I passed about five fellow BGR! runners and made sure to encourage them. At the halfway point, I started to worry that I was going slower than I should, but was still too nervous to try and pick up the pace. I decided I would put my music on at mile 8. The playlist was by beats per minute courtesy of and it definitely helped. I quickly realized, while I was feeling great, many other runners were struggling. I had to weave through the sea of slow runners and that is no fun. The race finish was in city park going down Lelong Drive and around the back of NOMA. As we crossed Wisner Blvd for the last stretch, a woman had a sign that said "make this last strip your bitch." I had been saying that since mile 10 when I finally realized, "hey! I can finish this!!" I'm looking for another half marathon before my full in October. I don't plan on doing much this week. I struggled through a mile with Girls on the Run practice and have the Head Hunter 10K Saturday.