New Orleans Half Marathon Race Recap

by - Monday, February 14, 2011

As I sit here writing this race recap, I am feeling fat and happy.

Good New Orleans food will do that to you.

So will a kick ass half marathon.

I was nervous going in to this race. I kept freaking out that I would experience stabbing pain in my knee and that I would have to hobble to the nearest medical tent and ride the sag wagon to the finish line.

No fun medal on Mardi Gras beads.

And a horribly heartbreaking DNF.

Having all that negativity swimming around in my head was probably not the best for my mental game going in to the race.

But come race morning, I got up, got dressed, ate a Clif bar and started the 1.5 mile walk from the hotel to the start line. I had just enough time to use the porta-potty before heading in to my corral.

Start area of New Orleans half

Corral 6

Before I knew it the race was starting.

Waiting for the start

Unfortunately for me, Garmin died right as I was starting. It must have turned on in my luggage and drained on the flight. Rookie mistake to not check the battery the night before.

But the dead battery might have been the best thing that happened. I was forced to run just by feel.

I started at a comfortable pace and managed to maintain an even effort throughout the race. I took walk breaks when I needed them, usually around the water stops. I'd drink my water, walk to the end of the shoot and pick up a steady pace again.

Somewhere just after mile 5, I could feel my left hip starting to tighten, so I pulled over to the side and stretched for a few seconds. Then it was back to steady running.

The miles were passing steadily from 7 to 8 and 9.

As I approached mile 10 still feeling strong, I knew I was in the home stretch.

The last 5K was a straight shot from the French Quarter to the finish line in City Park. No turns, just a straight stretch of road with mile markers and a few water stops.

I was truly shocked by how strong I still felt as I approached mile 11. And then my favorite "dig deep and gut it out song" came on my iPod: Eminem's Lose Yourself.

It has the perfect steady beat for running and nothing gets me pumped more late in a race than that song. I drew some last bits of motivation and pushed on.

Around mile 11.5 my right quad seized up. I pulled over to the side and stretched again, which really seemed to help.

With just about a mile and a half of the race left, I knew it was time to gut it out. My legs were starting to feel the lack of training. My quads were tightening, my hamstrings weren't happy. I was tired and the blisters that formed on my toes somewhere around mile 8 were making each step a bit painful.

But I was so close.

I kept a really strong pace for the last bit of the race and crossed the finish line smiling ear to ear.

I had absolutely no idea what my time was and it was driving me nuts. I finished feeling so strong and I was dying to know how I did.

Eventually after Matt and I met up in the reunion area, we got the live tracking results on Matt's phone.

Official race time: 2:10:25.

I couldn't be happier. I didn't have a time goal. I didn't have Garmin to run with. I wasn't well trained. Heck, I wasn't even sure if my knee would cooperate enough to let me finish.

With my medal

But I ran a great race yesterday. I ran by feel and I listened to my legs and did what they wanted. They rewarded me with a time that's only about two and a half minutes off my PR.

Pretty much, it was a perfect race.

(Since this race recap is already pretty long, I'm going to save my review of the course, logistics, etc. for tomorrow. I'll also announce the winner of the Stonyfield giveaway tomorrow.)

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