My First Half Marathon!
New Orleans Travel Blog› entry 15 of 35 › view all entries
With a 7:00 start time, we were up before five. Tommy slept the latest. I had some nervous energy as I dressed and ate some nuts but it wasn't too bad. I got dressed in my original outfit with the exception of my socks. With such an early start and probably an hour of standing before beginning to run, Megan was worried that I would freeze in my running skort. She offered a pair of running knee socks. Now I know all the running advice in the world says to never run a big race in a piece of equipment that you haven't practiced with before but she promised me that I would not blister.
We met up with the rest of the group in the lobby and then made our way to the start area. The corrals wound around a block. We split from the walkers first and then after another set of good-byes, I headed over to the bag check.
As the start approached, I felt the excitement build. The PA system was piping in music and announcements so I heard when they counted down to start the first group of racers, the wheelchair group. I felt a thrill when they hit start, and it was the same for the Elite group. I wished Tommy and Megan silent luck when each of their groups started. Then it was my turn. I made sure to start both of my watches as I switched from walking to running. I looked around for the pace runner for the 2:00 half marathon or maybe a 4:00 marathon group. I wasn't sure which one I would find. However, no one was sticking out so right now I focused on settling into a groove.
Now on St. Charles Ave we were leaving behind the taller buildings and entering a more picturesque and even residential area. The street had a trolley line running between the two directions of traffic, so I followed the lead of other runners and shifted up into this space to run for a bit, the dirt more forgiving than the concrete. We breezed past the first water station, and I soon saw the two-mile marker. I looked at my watch to get my time since the mile markers were showing the official time of the lead runner. My pace was good, but I knew I would need to pick it up a little.
I saw the lead runners doubling back on the opposite side of the street which was cool. I kept an eye out for Tommy and Megan and did spot both of them. I cheered them on, but I don't think they heard me especially since Megan tends to run with headphones. I could tell that Tommy was not running as well as he had hoped. I would later hear the whole story.
Around mile eight we had to pay attention as the relay runners veered into the exchange zone. I remember hearing a bunch of numbers being announced but I still think this would be crazy to try to pull off an exchange in such a big race. My snack time arrived soon after this point. We were actually fairly close to Poydras St and the start when I walked for about a minute to down a cup of water and a few cubes. This was also supposedly the section of the race with a hill. I knew that my stomach would do a little complaining after my snack and I had wondered about the wisdom of eating on possibly the hardest part of the course, but as the slight pains started, I had yet to see where there was any sort of a hill. The stomach ouches abated without me finding any real incline and now I was in the French Quarter which was familiar territory.
We ran underneath the legs of a large balloon man and past the Hard Rock cafe, a golden statue of a person on horseback, Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde, the French market, all sites I had seen yesterday. We hit the turn onto Esplanade Ave, and I felt strong. All I had left now was a 5K, and after some quick math, I knew I was on pace.
The street was narrower now, trees providing some shade. A group of sorority girls was passing out candy. I took one last water break. At mile 12 I had fifteen minutes to reach the end, and even though my right leg had recently started hurting, I knew I was going to make my goal time, out of sheer stubbornness if nothing else.
As I closed in on city park, I also finally encountered an uphill to go over a short bridge.
Across the finish line, I was bombarded with food and drink as I made my way through the chute. My hands were full by the time I got out. I drank my chocolate milk slowly and made my way to the gear trucks. Now that I was done running, I was starting to feel chilled and wanted my jacket.
I texted Sparky to try to figure out where she and David were waiting. I knew that Neal had been back by mile Nine since I had seen him on the left as I ran by, and these two were supposed to be someone on the second half of the race. I was moving slowly, but I made it out past the 14th mile marker before finding out that all three of our marathoners--Megan, Tommy, and Janie--had changed plans and chosen just to run the half marathon.
I backtracked to the meet-up area and moved around the track to the sign for family with the last name of "U-V." We figured that there wouldn't be as many people trying to meet there, and we were right. It took over an hour for our group to all arrive; the wait didn't bother me. I just relaxed in the sun, drank my Gatorade, listened to our stories. Megan and Tommy had both decided fairly early in the race to switch to the half but that didn't stop Tommy from halting at the dividing point and actually stand still for a few moments to debate the issue until a worker reminded him that he had to go one way or the other. Janie had made it past mile nine and her husband still feeling strong. Shortly after that, her body rebelled and she chose the half marathon route. Chad was running sore and had been very grateful for a sock change at mile nine. Kim, Chrissie, and Charlotte had fun throughout their walk/light jog although afterwards Chrissie didn't feel so great for about an hour.
It was an awesome feeling to know that I had finished my first half marathon, and that I had done it definitely under my goal time!
We joined the long line for the shuttle bus. The wait wasn't bad. It felt like the driver was taking the long way home, but I did enjoy getting to see more of the city.
At this point my right foot had started hurting which worried me. Nothing had hurt really in the initial minutes after the race but I would be nursing a sore foot for the next week or so. I wouldn't be doing any sightseeing today. My half of the group did make a trip to Jamba Juice where I enjoyed a yummy mango smoothie.
I'm not sure if this was the night that we decided to order pizza up to the pool for dinner or if we had done that for lunch on our first day in New Orleans. (Now that it's been a few days since I wrote this I am almost sure the pizza at the pool was a late lunch on Friday. I still think that we did go swimming at some point today, but it might've been an evening swim.)