So my ITB was acting up in early January. This caused me to shut down my marathon volume build prematurely. With that, the sub-3 marathon goal went out the window. I was having pain and discomfort in sessions as short as 4 miles. With the reduced volume, my speed took off. I was running fantastically fast but short. As my injury improved, I was able to push the distance to the 10-mile mark. I was still able to run fast.
I was also dropping some stubborn weight during this time. I was not as hungry as normal and I had voided the house of bad foods. I was leaning out and getting fast!
But, 6 weeks is much too long for a taper. About 2 weeks ago, some of the weight started to creep back on. Some of the speed started to slip. I still thought I could put together a good half marathon but I was losing my mojo. The half was not my goal.
We went down to NOLA the day before the race. The expo was a lot of fun and I did win a new pair of Brooks’s shoes from their huge carnival type booth. I ordered the Brooks Glycerin 9 neutral high mileage trainer. I have never had a pair of Brooks so I am excited to try them!
We also went and walked around the quarter. I have never had a daiquiri in NOLA. We stopped and I ordered a LARGE white Russian (with an extra shot). This was a strong frozen coffee daiquiri. We stumbled around the quarter for a while. Charles and Terry stopped and grabbed cigars. I skipped the smoke.
We made it to the hotel. I was bunking with Terry. He had rented what we would call the Emperor’s Suite! The suite had a couch, dining room table, recliner, king size bed and bathroom. I stayed upstairs and had my choice of two queen-sized beds and my own bathroom. We also got late checkout so that we could shower prior to lunch.
We made our way down St. Charles for dinner. The restraint that we selected was very crowded and much to our surprise did not have ANY beer on tap. They did, however, have several vodkas on draft! (wft). There was also a frozen wall with bottles of vodka being chilled. I did not partake of any alcoholic beverages during dinner. But I did have my second meal of the day that came with a bowl of brown gravy for dipping! I could not have planned that.
After dinner, we made the short walk back to the hotel but first stopped at the convenience store for early morning provisions. I got a bottle of sports drink and a couple of Cadbury eggs. Great pre-race foods. The eggs did not make it back to the hotel.
It was still early and Charles, Audrey and I decided to venture out for a nightcap. The Avenue Pub was just around the corner. This is Charles favorite place and he is not along. Draft magazine voted it as one of the top 100 best beer bars in the country (http://theavenuepub.com/ )! It was pretty crowded; after all, it was Saturday night. We stayed for one round and called it a night.
I had my alarm set for 5AM but I knew that I would not need it. You see, I have bunked with Terry before. By 5AM, he would have been awake for hours hydrating and taking nutrition. We left the hotel just after 6AM and made the just under a mile walk to the race start. Audrey slotted into her corral and Terry and I made it to the front the of the race – corral number 1! I was still not very excited about the race and I was not sure of my race plan. Two weeks ago, I was confident of shattering my half PR. Now, not so much. I knew I did not have a whole lot of extra speed and I was just not sure if I was prepared to suffer.
Still, I threw caution to the wind and set my paces at an aggressive 6:30 minute per mile. The first mile clicked off easily and fast – 6:22. I settled down and concentrated on running the tangents. I had studied the course the night before and knew that there was a huge sweeping turn all the way out to Audubon Park and back. If you were not careful, you could easily run a couple of hundred extra yards!
The pace got hard quick. Mile 3 ended up being one of my slowest. I really thought about slowing dramatically and waiting for Terry (who was running a hair slower but also the full marathon). After the turn around, I got a few shouts of encouragement from friends running the opposite way. I could not slow down now although it was tempting to jumping to the Avenue Pub again for a quick beer. It could have made for a great story. If Charles had been standing in front of the pub I would have stopped. Instead, I saw Charles about a mile later. The pace had slipped to 6:40 but I was holding steady. I knew that if I could make it to mile 10 then it would be a straight shot to the finish. I can do anything for 5k!
I was never in any deep pain. Sure, I was uncomfortable but never really hurting. I just wanted to stop. I did pick the pace up the last couple of miles and brought the pain. I finished strong and much to my surprise, I was able to chip a few seconds off my PR. How many seconds I was not sure but maybe a couple. I finished in 1:27:13, which is a PR by 7 seconds (a half second per mile faster).
I was one of the first to arrive at the reunion area. I had procured my clothing, cleaned up and sat down for a snack. I also got my 2 8 ounces ultra-light beers. As people trickled in, I got a couple more ultra-light beers. Then Charles showed up with a New Orleans Track Club shirt. Now, I am a member of the NOTC but did not think to venture to their tent. They had free food and kegs of beer. We grabbed a few more shirts (they were begging us to take them) and invited a few people to join us. We finally left the race site at about 11 AM. I had been there since 8:30 AM. We jumped on a bus back to the super dome. We had to high tail it back to the hotel room. Charles and Terry had to stop for a bathroom break so Audrey and I made our way back alone. We got to the hotel at 11:55 AM.
When I got to my room the key would not work! I asked the maid next door to let me and thankfully, she obliged. I threw a towel in the sink and ran hot water over it. I took a quick bath and washed all of the important stuff. Terry had arrived and while he cleaned up I went had checked out of the hotel.
Next stop was an Irish Pub and once again, for the trifecta, I had another meal that included another bowl of brown gravy! I don’t know how this happened.
It was a great time in the Big Easy!
I filled up with post-race snacks since at the RnR events once you leave the finishers area you are on your own. I also grabbed a solar blanket to use in the field.