When you think about Race Day you envision perfect weather temperatures, blue skies and legs that feel like air. Especially when it’s a significant race to you. On this day I woke up at 3:45am after hours of broken sleep with legs that felt tired and achy. I decided to get up and take a cold bath to wake them up. I had laid out my gear the night before so my main dilemma was just where I was going to be putting my 4-5 GU’s (I wanted to carry my own since you never know what the race will be supplying and if there will be any left. Trust in your own supplies!) Then the weather was once again on my mind. I glanced at the radar and only saw popcorn showers in the area for the next few hours so I tell Francine “It’s a Go!” On goes the music (I like to prep on race mornings to my running music to get me going) She took my “before pic” since I knew the humidity was going to wreak havoc on my hair later and I ate my bread/honey.
Down we go to leave our luggage in the bell hop area. As we step outside I see the weather has already started to go south. Light drizzling rain, heavy fog and a dampness that covered you immediately when you walk out. The streets were not going to be forgiving today. It’s bad enough that New Orleans streets are the not best but we were going to have a slickness to worry about as well which means you would have to step carefully as you ran. It was so dark and foggy at this time (6:05am/race start would be 7am) that I started to go in panic mode. Should I had ran my Full at the Louisiana Marathon two weeks earlier? (I had ran the Half that day), Will the rain hold out or will we be forced to turn at the halfway mark and I’d be doing this all over again in Mississippi the following weekend?
I called Karen and let her know we were headed to the Hilton to pick her up. We make our way to the Varsity Sports meet up area and take a group “before” picture at the RNRNOLA Start area and they let me say the traditional Runner’s Prayer which I was honored to do and hoped it would give me luck for the race.
After a couple more stops we go to our Coral and find the 4:30 group pacer which were actually in Coral 11.
The Half/Full Runners start together so Francine was able to start with us. Off goes my text alert on my iPhone it stated that I started the race at 6:33am!! Do what?! Did I accidentally step on one of the timers? This was not good. I had setup Runner Tracking to post notifications on Facebook, Twitter and text people so they knew where I would be at certain mile markers on the course. Even my coach Stephen would be out there as support. Our Coral crossed the start line at 7:17am and yes, unfortunately I was multitasking by running and sending updates with my phone manually since my Runner Tracking was off. (It even had me at the 13 mile point at 1hr:20min. I joked with Karen at this rate I will get an age group in the mail in 6 weeks because I’ll be finished in about 3hours!!) All joking aside it seemed to have fixed itself around the 20 mile marker but I was unaware of this. I was concerned with notifying people and how I was going to get the time on my Finisher Certificate fixed later. (yes I know, Very Type A !lol)
But let’s back up….As soon as we started I felt the race anxiety disappear. The first couple miles Karen and I did our best to stay with the 4:30 pacers. Unfortunately this meant zigzagging around lots of people which was zapping my energy quick which is NOT what you want to happen early on. We were not even to Mile 3 and called it quits. The sight of the pacer group balloons were quickly fading in the distance. We decided to go at our own pace. I was relieved to because I wanted to save my energy for the back half of the race. Right at 9am we were coming up to the St. Louis Cathedral. The hourly bells were going off but you couldn’t see the Cathedral because of the thick fog. I felt bad for the tourist runners that were missing out on the sights throughout the course. We go into the French Quarter and it’s a drizzly misty rain on and off.
The miles steadily ticked away and I appreciated all the spectators that were out on this wet, foggy, dreary morning. At the halfway point the course split for the Halfers to turn to the right and the Full runners would veer off to the left. This was it. I was excited because today I would be turning to the left and seeing a part of the course I had never seen. Karen and I stopped to take a couple of funny pictures and she Vlogged that we had made the turn to the left and we were going for it!
13.1 more miles to go!!! (Gulp! A mixture of excitement and anxiety once again set in)
I decided at this point with the levees and steep inclines still in the distance to conquer to have a little fun on the back half of the course. Jenni’s little reminder “Enjoy the Experience” came to my mind. I was wearing a 4:40 split bracelet and we were still on track at that point. Karen and I stopped at Mile 16 to take a couple pics with the Superhero’s at the water station.
We started to make our way to the very long out and back part of the course. Parts of it seemed endless. Fortunately I saw my coach Stephen out there not only at the split as I expected but also around mile 17 and 21. I particularly looked forward to seeing him at mile 21 because I was feeling my energy being zapped away. Karen and I took short walk breaks when we needed to and fortunately she had some Biofreeze and Tylenol with her which helped with the inclines on the back half of the course.
Those last few miles seemed to drag on forever. I texted a couple of people to let them know where I was and was soon to be a Marathoner.
Francine texted me back to let me know she got my 26.2 Finisher shirt and was cheering at the Finish line waiting. Gotta keep pushing forward I told myself. Karen said were almost there as we entered City Park towards the Finish.
One last stretch to go and finally the Finisher chute ahead. I am almost in a daze at this point. Karen said she can see the chute and were going to finish this together. I took off my earphones and remembered to fix my bib and smile as we cross over that last timing belt. RELIEF!!! We did it!!
I see Francine and she was there as promised snapping pics, I hugged Karen and felt deliriously happy. I got my Finisher medal and took some pictures but the questioned remained what was my time? Did I at least break Sub 5?
Yes indeed 4:48 I’ll take that gladly especially with today’s weather conditions.
I didn’t stay at the Finisher Fest long. I was ready to get some coffee and head home. My journey had come to a close. Today felt like the closing ceremony to something great. I achieved something that I never thought possible. I had ran a Marathon. As Francine and I headed home I began reading through my messages and was overwhelmed at all the support I had received during and after the race.
I didn’t get much sleep that night due to my Runners High and even the next day I was in such a fog mentally and physically I could barely think straight. I was ready to start the recovery phase. Thoughts and emotions started to flow as it all started to sink in. Accomplishment, relief and gratitude. Grateful for those that supported me even when I doubted myself. That saying is true “The body achieves what the mind believes”. People have their own reasons for running a Marathon. Mine was to prove to myself that I could do it. People have already asked me “When is the next one?”. I hate to disappoint but it truly was a bucket list item for me. Honestly unless it’s a fun one at Disney its highly doubtful due to the time that training requires. I went from running 2x a week , average 9-12 miles to 3-4x a week ,average 25-30 miles. This experience will make me a stronger Half Marathoner. I still want a sub 2hr (Best time 2:06) and I will be getting back into Trail running. In fact I will be doing my first Trail Half Marathon in less than 5 weeks. Why? Because I can.
Race recap notes: Room for improvement for RNRNOLA
• Send tips on Runner Etiquette along with Final Instructions Race Guide email. Especially for all of the newbies. (If I start to discuss this it will turn into a rant- Best left unsaid)
• Stock the water stations earlier! There were big bottlenecks throughout the course in multiple areas. I read online there was a delay with the water trucks that morning.
• I heard there was lack of food at the fest. How about Food Trucks from local restaurants?
• I would like more bands at the back half of the course. Seemed like most were on break. Ummmm Hello, we were not on break lol!!
• How about some race support signs along the back half of the course? Something for me to take my mind off those levees and inclines along the way.
• Don’t get me started on my Runner Tracking fiasco. (Which you have to pay for!)
Other than that I liked my shirt, race medal and the expo. Being that RNRNOLA was my first Half it was only right it would be my First Full. Despite the weather it was great and I will always remember my first Full fondly. Am I going to beat myself up about my time could have been better due to the weather? NO! I gave it everything I had and had some fun along the way. I had the best Race Support on and off the course. I accomplished everything I set out to do.
I AM A MARATHONER! #roadto26.2 CLAIMED!
Words of advice to those thinking of running a Marathon:
It took me months to convince myself it was possible but once I set my mind on it I was committed which was the biggest part. I had a friend help me with a flexible training schedule that I stuck with and I got buddies for my long runs. I told my family upfront that I needed them to be onboard and supportive of this goal and the time it would require. The rest will fall in place I promise. It’s a decision I will never regret and achieving this goal has made me even stronger. I also reflect on it with a great level of emotion because so many knew I could do this before I did and never doubted me. For that I am very appreciative. To complete something you never thought possible is empowering.