The extra activities really deserved a post of their own, so I am picking up on race day.
When you run an event with Team in Training, you get up even earlier than you normally would for a race to take team pictures and head to the start together. I shared a room with Katie (who I didn’t know previously, part of the fun of TNT) and we got up at 5:00 to be downstairs at 5:30. I had my usual Nuun and bagel with peanut butter and we headed downstairs.
We all got together for a group picture and then went our separate ways to our corrals. I stuck around in the hotel lobby since we were close to the start (I stayed at the Hilton Riverside, but part of the team was at the Intercontiental right across from the start) to use a real bathroom. I rarely use bag drop, but I wanted warm clothes at the finish in case the weather got worse (40% chance of rain).
I hung out with my TNT mentor, Ashley, at the start (don’t even get me started on how unflattering the tops from TNT are on me). We warmed up and chatted and then we were off.
In my head, I knew I needed to run an 8:17 pace to hit my goal. I had planned to just run that the entire time since the course is flat and I wouldn’t have any issues maintaining it.
Somehow, I managed to get off on my mileage by .2-.3 in the very first mile. I was totally thrown off mentally. I usually run the tangents really well, but must’ve done a bit more weaving than I usually do. I also apparently ran like a maniac the first mile (7:11). I was all over the place.
The first few miles were full of cheers, and I was reminded how fun it is to run in the TNT purple singlet/shirt. But, for some reason, I just couldn’t get it together. The race felt like a struggle. It was humid. I was dripping with sweat by mile 4, my breathing was heavier than I wanted it to be, and I was all in my head. I talked myself out of my success, saying it was impossible to run the race I wanted feeling this way and that I still had a lot of miles to go.
As I hit the turn around on St. Charles (the start of the course is out and back which is really fun to see the runners on the other side of the road), I started thinking about my honored heroes and why I was REALLY running the race. I continued to dig deep and started to settle down. I had my GU about 45 minutes into the race and that seemed to help.
Around mile 6, I saw my roommate, Katie, on the other side of the course and she and Kimberly (another TNT participant) cheered me on (*slight spoiler-they later told me that I wasn’t too far behind the 1:45 pacer and knew I was killing my goal-too bad I didn’t know it!). It was starting to click. I was staying on the left side of the road (roads are really uneven and the left side doesn’t have the grade), concentrating on my steps and breathing and starting to get my groove. I was passing people. I felt better.
Time to head into the French Quarter (even though I don’t look so happy below. Apparently the girl next to me is thrilled).
I really do love this course…the cheering seems to be just where you need it to be. I turned on to the short part of the course where you turn onto St.Peters and passed the Shoppes of Canal. I knew all I had left was the French Quarter, one turn, and a straight shot to the park (the benefits of running the same race year after year).
It was insanely foggy in the French Quarter near Cafe Du Monde. You could barely see in front of you. I ate my second GU around this point and could finally do the math in my head and had an OH SHIT moment. I was going to blow my goal out. I couldn’t help but smile (no really, I promise I smiled at some point on the course even though pictures would say otherwise) and keep pressing on.
The last few miles went by fast. I felt strong. I knew I could hold on. I enjoyed the cheers, my music and stayed focused. I saw a TNT coach and he told me I was the first GA Peach that he had seen, which was kind of a shock.
I turned in the park and put my game face on. Sprinted to the finish. I still had gas in the tank. Another shock (see a theme here?). I was almost in tears when I hit the finish.
BOOM. Post surgery PR. WITH gas left in my tank.
My splits were a little all over the place, but it seemed to work itself out.
I grabbed the post race goodies, medal, checked in at the TNT tent and waited on the rest of the girls to finish. I had hoped to make it back to the finish line to cheer Abby on but she made it in a better corral and finished earlier than I had expected.
Yay first time 1/2 marathoner!!
We waited for Lauren and Kristin to finish, hung out for a bit, and then took the buses back to the hotel for a long afternoon of fun.
I LOVE this race. Most of yall know that. I will continue to go back year after year as long as I can. A great race to PR (flat and fast), a super fun city, and very well organized.
YayCourse bling (and extra for being charity runner) Running with TNT Post and pre-race well organized NEW ORLEANS (enough said) TONS of race photogs and pics
Not So Muchthe price of pictures. SERIOUSLY. Race shirt (not that I really care)
This is one medal they seem to get right year after year. Love the Mardi Gras bead and crown part and the play on jazz with the instruments. Love that Competitor has started recognizing charity runners, too. You get an additional medal for running for a charity group. The shirt is just bleh. Gray and plain.
Running for my favorite charity, in one of my favorite cities, at one of my favorite races. It doesn’t get much better than that. Even with the humidity and my initial mental struggles, I had a blast.
Abby and Kristin both had a blast and are ready to tackle speed work. Looks like I will be “coaching” them to their next race, or at least hitting the track with them. And before we even left the finish area, Abby was asking me to pace her to a sub 2 in Alaska (she missed it by a minute). Looks like they are hooked!
I’m really, really happy with how the race went for me. I’m happy with my mental strength and being able to get out of my own head and push hard, and even more happy at how quickly my body is returning to it’s old running self. I didn’t expect to run 6 minutes faster than I did in Rehoboth and 3 minutes faster than my goal, but I will definitely take it!
Rock n Roll races are big and sometimes cookie cutter (you know what to expect at each one) but well organized. I enjoy small local races, but this is one of the best destination races you can get. Do it.