Last year several of my running friends ran the RnR NOLA Half Marathon and Marathon. When they asked me if I wanted to join them I was very interested because I'd heard about what a great course both races were. Believe it or not, I'd never run a Rock and Roll series yet and I thought this would be a good one to do since so many of my friends were running in it. I looked into running it through the Competitor RnR Elite Athlete program. (To earn a comped entry into the New Orleans Marathon or Half I needed to have a sub 2:59:00. My 2:58:56 from the Poconos Marathon barely made the cut but it was enough!) I originally registered for the full but by mid fall I realized I would not be ready. My recovery from plantar fasciitis was taking a lot longer than I'd anticipated so I emailed the elite coordinator at Competitor and asked if they could switch me to the half. No problem!
The week before the race:
The weekend before the NOLA Half I had my first 20 mile run in the Little Rock training cycle. No, this was not ideal but I really needed to get in this 20. My LRM training was cutting it close as it was so I couldn't postpone it any longer.
A few hours before the run my 8 year-old son woke me up and said he had thrown up. I cleaned him up and went back to bed but there wasn't a lot of restful sleep after that. Minutes before I left for my run I realized I needed to clean up the bathroom area where he had been sick. I debated on skipping the run all together and staying home but my son was back asleep and my husband encouraged me to go ahead and get my long run done. The run itself went well. I ran 20 miles with about 12 at goal marathon pace (sub 6:50).
The rest of the day I was feeling really drained and not very hungry. By Saturday night I was feeling awful. Then I started throwing up. For the next few days I had the worst virus I have ever had.
Wednesday was the first day I felt almost back to normal. I wasn't sure if I should still race. I decided to go to the doctor to make sure everything was all right- and I wasn't contagious. My doctor was optimistic and said that as long as I continued to improve I should be fine. On Friday morning I left for New Orleans. The race was Sunday so I was hopeful that I would be feeling stronger (and ready to race) by then.
It's about an eight hour drive from my house to New Orleans. I went with a group of runners from around where I live. There were 10 of us all together. Great girls trip!!
Friday night we are a late dinner at the Ernst Cafe. It's a great little diner with a lot of local flavor.
Saturday morning Natalie (one of the ladies in my group) and I went for a little shake-out jog. Our hotel was right on the River Walk so we started there and then headed downtown. This was my first time to New Orleans and I was so impressed! The city has so much personality and life. I love getting to explore new cities by running through them!
After our jog we cleaned up and headed to the RnR NOLA Fitness Expo. Our hotel was conveniently located within a half mile of the start and near the expo too so we walked EVERYWHERE Saturday.
After the expo we ate at another great local restaurant- Pierre Maspero's.
Then we walked towards the French Quarters. We headed towards Cafe Du Monde and saw many sites along the way.
After a delicious beignet at Cafe Du Monde we headed further down to the French market. I bought a few souvenirs for John and the kids.
Before we knew it we were exhausted and it was almost dinner time. By the time we made it back to the hotel my ap on my phone said that I had clocked in over 13 miles for the day! (Four miles from my morning run and then nine miles from walking all over the city all day.) Yikes! I didn't mean to overdo it on the walking but there was just so much to do and see!
Then, before dinner one of my college teammates stopped by our room to visit for a few minutes. I had not seen Janet in years but she has done very well for herself! In 2012 she placed 5th in the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifying Marathon with a time of 2:29:45. She ran in the 10,000 m in the Olympics that summer for the U.S. finishing 12th. She actually just ran in the 2015 USA Half Marathon Championship in Houston last weekend and finished 3rd (1:10:46). Janet was in town to run the NOLA Half as well.
Janet is so sweet and humble. She wanted to hear all about everyone else. I'm so glad we were able to visit with her. After our time with Janet we headed to the Foot Court in the mall under the River Walk for dinner. After dinner and a trip to the Gap we went back to our room to get ready for the race.
I did not sleep very well Saturday night. Between race nerves and knowing I overdid it on the waking I was not feeling very confident. The race started at 7:30 so we left our hotel by 6:45 and jogged to the start.
After warming up it was time to get this show on the road! Weather was in the low 40's but sunny- perfect!
My "A" goal was to go sub 1:26 but I had a feeling that would be tough since I'd been sick earlier and my training had been thrown off. Still, I tried to be optimistic. Maybe the rest and running break had been good for me...
My watch pace from the CASA Half in December was 6:35 so I thought I would shoot for the 6:30 range again.
Mi 1- 6:33. Right where I wanted to be but could I maintain it?
Mi 2- 6:39. I hoped this would be my slowest mile. It wasn't.
Mi 3- 6:36
Mi 4- 6:35. Around this mile I heard someone yell, "Go Tia!" Who knew me in New Orleans?! I looked up and it was Gracie from Complicated Day! Gracie is an awesome blogger and talented runner who has been sidelined with some injuries. She is lives in New Orleans and had come out to cheer and take pictures! It was great to see her!
Mi 5- 6:32. I tried to stick with another female "Leah" who was very friendly I met as we were running along-side each other. She said she was sticking to 6:30 and she sounded like she wanted to pace together which would have been great if I'd had the energy/ discipline to stick with it.
Mi 6- 6:33. Saw Gracie on the back stretch of the out and back! I was wishing this was the end of the race but I wasn't even halfway through yet! Just trying to stay on pace.
Thanks for the pictures Gracie!!
Mi 7- 6:40. I finished off my gu and fell back from Leah during this mile. She was trying to encourage me but I just couldn't keep up.
Mi 8- 6:42
Mi 9- 6:49. From this point on I switched to survival mode and lost it on my pace. I was running more marathon than half marathon pace and it had me seriously doubting my ability to run LRM in March.
Mi 10- 6:49.
Mi 11- 6:57
Mi 12- 7:01. Not good. Guys were passing me. I kept waiting for a female to catch up but surprisingly none did.
Mi 13- 6:45. I saw a female up ahead I tried to catch. It turned out to be a relay runner but it helped get me in gear!
Mi 13.14- 0:51 (6:21 avg.)
Once I finished I waited for s few minutes for my friend Natalie who I knew would be finishing soon. She set a 30+ second PR and finished with a 1:31!
Then we cooled down before meeting up with the rest of our group. Several in our group set PR's. I cannot emphasize enough how awesome the course is! It is very flat and there are a lot of spectators and bands along the way.
Post Race Thoughts:
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed in my performance. Yes, I fell apart at the end but considering it was days after the one of the worst viruses I ever had I'm not going to dwell on it. I still have a lot of work to do. On the plus side, my foot did great! It felt PERECT all weekend and never bothered me during or after the race. This is a huge victory in itself.
The weekend was very memorable and I had a lot of fun with my running friends! I loved exploring the city Saturday and getting to experience NOLA together.
I would strongly recommend this race... It's a fast race in a fun city! I will definitely be back!
Have you ever run RnR NOLA?