When the run just finally feels right…

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My unassuming running trail…

Of course it would finally happen while I was out of town. I run with my peeps because I need the accountability. When I lost my long-time running partner a year ago, I was left like a boat adrift on the high seas. My running suffered because I just couldn’t bring myself to get out there. But new running partners came into my life and kept me out there for those group runs, thank goodness. I can’t say I have ever actually felt good on a solo run. My demons would always come along for the ride, reminding me that my shoelaces were a little too snug or that sports bra was chafing my shoulder. They would imagegive me an out, telling me it’s ok to turn back early and only get a few miles in, despite my training schedule requesting a 90 minute run.

But last night I was out of town and couldn’t find a group that I felt comfortable joining. What I did find was a popular running trail about six miles from my hotel. I’m not ashamed to say I totally ubered to the trail. The sun beat down and the humidity was a real treat. I saw a couple coming off the trail and asked them about the trail – very few water fountains, but it goes 14 miles, they said. Sounded perfect – so I set off with the intention of just getting maybe three miles in.

imageHalf a mile into the run, the sounds of the city were completely gone and all I heard were the squirrels rustling in the woods and a babbling brook. Who knew that little streams of water actually made the babbling sound?? By a mile, I saw two beautiful deer off to my left enjoying some foraging. I kid you not, they were no more than five feet from me. I just kept going, hoping to see something new and wonderful. No demons came to join me. I didn’t ever look at my watch to check my pace. I would occasionally come across a cyclist or another runner, but it was truly a peaceful run. I finally decided to turn around after just under three miles, mostly because I still wanted to get a swim in and knew that the sun would be setting soon enough, but I felt like I could have gone far longer.

I found myself sweaty and spent and so full of energy after my run. Exactly as it was meant to be. I may even try another solo run back home soon. Maybe – I like my running tribe…

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My year of doing epic shit: Giving it a TRI

I swear I had no desire to do a triathlon. NONE! As a dear friend once said, she has a bucket list and a “nother” list that rhymes with bucket and starts with an F. This was firmly on that other list for me.

I was not one of those crazy girls. I didn’t want to “do all the things.”

Or did I?

I’ve been watching Scarlett, Rocky, Jen, Shea, Michelle and Angelia all do crazy epic triathlons and open water swims and bike rides that are so freaking long it makes “the queen” hurt just watching them. I envied them because it looked like nothing scared them. They just did it.

imageAnd my friend, Coach Keisha, is so inspirational with all her tri posts. She and some of the women tri coaches in town put on a big weekend-long event called Time2Tri. It was designed to be a group of women new to the sport giving a triathlon a try. Get it? Giving it a tri? Bwahahahaha Anyway, the Friday night reception was going to include lots of inspiring stories, food, mocktails and a fashion show. Lots of friends were going and it was a good excuse to have a girls night. But Keisha, that sneaky queen bee, asked me a few days earlier to PLEASE model one of the outfits that night. I agreed because it sounded like she needed the help, and I know what it’s like to need help from friends to pull off epic stuff. So I couldn’t back out of going at the last minute and frankly, this was the only way I would be pulled out of my adorable running skirts.

Wait a minute. Was that on purpose?

Did she know that I wasn’t convinced I could do this?

Well, I have been eyeing some of that cute Betty Designs gear.

And cycling has been really good cross-training this spring…

And I probably should finally give this swimming this a go.

Did John just say I could have cupcakes if I do all three sports?

Could I really do it? Could I really finish a triathlon???

I want to be a part of the crazy, fierce girls.

Oh no. Did I just decide to do a tri????

imageYep, I signed up. I actually signed up for a race a month after the race that the group will be doing because I knew I wasn’t where the rest of the girls were with their swimming and, well,

#EpicShitDoesn’tIncludeDeath

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Celebrating learning how to ride a two-wheeler by riding 5 miles!

I figure I’ve been scared of the water for 43 years, a few extra weeks weren’t going to kill me. So with no real goal in mind, I set out to look for someone that could “for real” teach me to swim. What I learned is that my almost-8 year old, who is absolutely petrified of the water, now wants to “for real” learn to swim because mommy is learning to swim. Even crazier? She hasn’t taken off her training wheels ever, and in one weekend she decided she was done with them and started riding her “big girl bike.” My focus shifted from racing for me to showing a little set of eyes that she can accomplish anything if she sets aside the fear.This might be the most #epic thing of all…

Like a cat thrown in the deep end of a pool…

  I.Can’t.Swim.

cat-in-the-pool-5I’m mortified to even admit it. How did I get this way? I’m not sure. I think I have always had a fear of the water. As a kid, I wanted to be at the pool parties with my friends, but I was too terrified of being in the water so I would either not go or I would wear regular clothes and make an excuse. I think I had swim lessons, but I don’t ever remember getting past the “blowing bubbles in the shallow end” stage.

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What a day at the beach looks like – sand only, thank you…

If I got caught up in a body of water that was deeper than me, I can assure you, I could not save myself – that’s how bad I can’t swim. I have full-on panic attacks in the water when I can’t touch the bottom.

But 2016 is my year of #doing epic shit; and epic shit must include facing 43 year old fears. Epic shit includes being a great mom that is a role model for a seven year old little girl that can’t swim, has complete panic attacks in a body of water deeper than waist high and can’t get water in her face when she gets her hair washed. I want so much to teach her that it is ok to be afraid, but that strong girls learn to face fears instead of running away.

So here I am, holding on for dear life in a pool that is deeper than I am tall. So many fierce women in my life have told me they couldn’t swim before they decided that they would learn and go tackle IronMan competitions. I suspect that their “can’t swim” definition isn’t quite like mine, but nonetheless, I have been talked in to trying a triathlon.

Observation #1: Holy smokes, swimming lessons are tough to find for adults! Most of what I find when I search in the great googly for swim lessons is for little kids. I can neither make a 2pm swim lesson on Thursdays nor do I want to be shown up by a bunch of four year olds. Those kids are mean! The little bullies would totally make fun of the “big kid that is holding on for dear life and crying in the corner” (aka, me, LOL). So, off I go to googly “swim lessons for triathletes.” Hmmm, they seem a bit more advanced for what I’m looking for. I’m still holding on to the edge, remember? By luck, I saw that DFW Tri Club puts on a three-class beginner program that is designed for real beginners. A quick email to the coach assured me that it was ok that I really couldn’t swim. So I signed up.

all the stuff

when the heck did I get all this stuff???

Observation #2: How did I amass so much stuff just to swim???  In a short time, I have been told I needed a snorkel (so I bought one), a pair of goggles (yep, got ‘em), a kickboard (can I use this thing in the race???), a pair of flipper things (ok, these are really cool), a weird figure-eight buoy thing for keeping my butt up (really? I’d prefer my head up, but ok), and a nose clip (which I found was perfect with that blasted snorkel).

Observation #3: Despite all this STUFF, I’m apparently going to have to get up and down that pool in the race without any of it. This is not good. I tried the little flipper things, and they are awesome! And the kickboard is better than little arm wings so I’d really like to keep it. The snorkel? Keep it. I hate this thing. It’s like breathing through a straw, which has been the cause of many of my panic attacks because it’s like having a bad asthma attack.

wetcatSo, twenty-five yards at a time, I hang on to the wall and stare at the end, willing myself to make it all the way. With my trusty little flipper-things, I can just about make it all the way down in my own weird little “cat in the deep-end” way. It’s not pretty. I haven’t been able to master the “sing to the fishies, listen to the fishies” method of breathing while moving. For goodness sakes, there are four things going on at once and I’m clearly not able to remember to do them all at the same time! When I move my arms, I forget to kick. When I kick, I forget to breathe, and when I breathe, I forget to pull my head out of the water. I’m a complete mess.

So, I’m looking for any tips and tricks you may have on how to tackle that which might kill me. If you overcame a complete fear of the water to learn to swim, I’m all ears, because “listening to the fishies” is what I’m all about these days.

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Linda and me, tackling fears of water… I didn’t drown that day…

The best Medal Monday ever… or why you should #runlocal

I’m kind of a fan of bling. Really though, what running princess isn’t? But this weekend’s race tops them all.

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Running clubs across the country are in place to benefit so many local groups and they do great work. My local club‘s main beneficiary is the Tal Morrison Scholarship Fund. They award six scholarships (three boys and three girls) to area high school seniors that participated in their school running program.

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How I race when I’m not racing…

You don’t have the be the fastest on the team and you don’t have to commit to running in college, but you do have to be a great student. Tal, the founder of the club back in 1969, passed away last year and he has said that his greatest legacy was this scholarship fund.

 

Every April at our club race, I have gotten a little choked up by how awesome it is to give checks to these students. We can accomplish some pretty great things with our club and I’m proud to be a part of it all. But this year was special. My son was awarded one of these scholarships.

imageThree thousand dollars is half of his housing paid for. Three thousand is a huge chunk of the out of state tuition bill. I have seen that award become the reason a child went to school in the first place. These kids are fantastic. One of the girls will be attending MIT in the fall. One of the boys will go to Texas A&M and study math. Another girl plans to attend Duke. My son will be at LSU studying political science.

I know it’s fun to participate in the big national races, but for a moment, think about how much good you can do by running in one of your local club’s races. These small clubs all over the country do great things. They are changing lives one mile at a time. Real lives with real hopes and real dreams. I would say that the award received at this club race is better than any age group trophy or finishers medallion that could be won. It is an investment in the future. Alex and Daniel, well deserved boys. I’m proud of you both.

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Medal Monday: Crescent City Classic 10K

Heading to Louisiana seems to now be a habit, as this was trip three in three months. A year ago, I bid on an auction at the RRCA National Convention that included two entries to the Crescent City Classic and a hotel room. My sister has never been to New Orleans before and was starting to do 5k races doing run-walk intervals, so she was excited to join in on the fun. I didn’t really know anything about the race other than it was huge and billed as one really long party. It sounded like you could walk it completely and still not be “last.” Spoiler alert: this race is phenomenal!!!

Expo

imageSo, this race actually has an expo! In a time when even a lot of half marathons don’t have expos, this little 10k put on a two day expo. And unlike some of the other race expos I have been to, no one tried to sell me replacement windows or a body massager that looked eerily like an orbital car waxer. It’s held at the Hyatt on Canal St and took up the entire Elite Hall. The only weird thing was that it didn’t flow really well. I had to walk halfway through the expo to go pick up my bib, then walk through the other half to do get my shirt and bag. It’s hard to stay focused on those two items before you start shopping and sampling.

imageI liked that there were booths for all of the charity partners for the race and you could register to run with one of them and get into the charity corral. There were a bunch of booths with fun apparel and a ton of regional race groups. To me, that really makes an expo special because as a visitor, you get the opportunity to see what the local running community looks like. And ummm, yeah, there was free food. In true Louisiana fashion, I could get a bowl of red beans and rice and a beer (or in my case, an iced tea) and just chill while the local physical therapist gave a talk on injury prevention.

Race Day

imageLet me first say, this race really is huge; more than 20,000 crazies committing to 6.2 miles early on the Saturday before Easter. It’s a money race (significant money), so it attracts a lot of elites from Kenya and Ethiopia. To keep the focus local, they have two sets of prizes – money for the overalls and separate prize money for the the local overall winners. That makes this race VERY fast. I think the winners covered the distances in 28 or so minutes. But not to fear if you aren’t a speedy. The race is also VERY slow. They have a separate corral just for walkers and a costume contest that I think gives away just as much prize money as the overall runners win.

The walk to the start line itself was festive. I felt like this is what Mardi Gras is like a little. So much excitement and so many smiles. Also, for there being nine corrals, the start went very fast. Sean started in a few corrals ahead of us, but we really only had to wait a few minutes. What was hysterical was that there was a water station inside of the start line, and people were actually taking the water! But I guess that gets you ready to go because less than a quarter mile into the race, there was a Jell-O shot stop. Oh dear! Note: I didn’t take one. Only bad things could happen if I pulled a stunt like that.

imageThere was a timing mat at every mile marker as well as water stops (really, they had water!). But every quarter mile there was something going on, like spectators hanging off their balconies throwing beads, a mimosa stop, firemen handing out beers, guys dressed up in marching band uniforms handing out hot dogs, men in tuxedos handing out red and white flowers to the ladies, and more Jell-O shots. The course was a great route that went down Canal to the river, onto Decatur, along Esplanade and finally into City Park. You spend at least a mile in the park over by a kids’ amusement park.

The participants also take their costumes very seriously. For real, there was a group of guys dressed up as Vikings pulling a huge “boat” filled with kegs with full intention of partying the whole six miles. And yes, they did move that boat the whole six miles, as did all the groups pulling wagons filled with beer. Other costumes I ran into included a crawfish, a sparkly unicorn princess, a herd of cows and what appeared to be the entire cast of the new Star Wars movie. But my favorite had to be the families pushing strollers of kids. They got all kinds of creative and turned the strollers into giant Pac Mans. The runners dressed as the ghosts from the game. But what made the costumes completely work was the sound effects. Yep, you could hear the chomping as they ran!

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I probably should have been the one to take the photo with Humpty

So, in true New Orleans fashion, the streets are not great. About mile 5.7, I caught a piece of the uneven pavement with my shoe and did only what my sister described as a “graceful swan dive.” I have fallen once before (see the Drake Half Marathon), but that was after the race and I was texting. I’m not a klutz. But that was embarrassing!! Within seconds I had a ton of people around me trying to help and really I just wanted to go crawl in a hole. But I jumped up and laughed it off, declaring that the iPhone was ok! Maybe a touch of road rash along my leg. And my arm. Yep, my shoulder too. But you’re not a runner until you’ve left a little of you on the course, right?

Post-Race Festival

We were given our medals and Erica and I met the boys to walk to the post-race festival as the rain began to pour down. It felt so awesome! I felt like a kid again. And there was so much food: fruit, cookies, jambalaya, beer, Gatorade, food trucks. The music was great too!

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Mary and I met up at the festival unexpectedly

I lost my sister and Geoff, but ran into Mary, a Skirt Sports Ambassador from Baton Rouge that I only knew from social media, so we had to get a photo together. (Shameless plug: if you are interested in trying out a running skirt, use this discount code to get 20% off – 20MWT20).

The race provides shuttle buses back to the start line, but if you don’t time it right, you could be in the line a while. I didn’t want to wait, so we Ubered it back to the hotel.

I had such a great time at this race and wish more races were as fun as this one. We are already planning on coming back next year. Come join us!!

Surprise! My Avenue A Box Arrived!

I don’t usually do the subscription boxes. Most don’t really look like something I’d be interested in and I am such a creature of habit. I did a subscription to RunnerBox a few years ago and I think I only last month threw away the last of the weird gels they threw in those boxes. There were a few fun things that I still use in those boxes, but I can’t say they were ever really worth my money overall. So, I don’t know why I initially decided to plunk down the money for Avenue A, but I figured I could give it a try just once.

Avenue A is a women’s subscription box from adidas sent quarterly that runs $150 and promises at least three premium items. Shipping is included. They don’t tell you what will be in the box, but they threw around a hint that their brand new shoe would be included and I wanted to try them out. Worst case scenario, I paid full-price for a shoe and a couple other items got thrown in.

So, I pulled the trigger and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It was a month before my credit card was charged because this was their first box to ship.

Then I waited for it to ship.

And waited.

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It’s here!

Good lord, I stalked that poor profile page forever, hoping it would hurry and ship. I gave up after they updated it to show that they would be shipping in April. But, I got an email on March 22nd that it was on its way! Good thing because I was about to lose my mind.

Poor FedEx, I started stalking their tracking page. This seems to be a recurring theme with me, no?

The package came from South Carolina and most ground or priority shipping reaches me in two days because I am in Texas, in the middle of it all. I’m almost embarrassed to say that when it got delivered at the house, I didn’t want to wait any longer and asked hubby (who was at home) to drive it to my office. I’m definitely not good with waiting. LOL

So, here is the breakdown:

imageThe box is big. Five and a half pounds and looks like a boot box. Sliding the cover off, I immediately see THE SHOES. They are so pretty! I did a little research on them and learned that they are the only running shoe designed solely for a woman’s foot. The toe box is wider to accommodate our poor toes that get shoved into high heels and ultimately deformed. The heel is narrower because that is how a woman’s foot works. It has a floating arch (ok, I have no idea what the floating arch is supposed to accomplish but it looks cool) and fits like a sock with lots of stretchy material to allow for all the swelling my feet will do when I run long. I immediately put them on and the size was true, fitting just like all my other running shoes. They sent the “raw purple and shock red” shoes. I kind of even like the names of the colors and I’m itching to take these puppies out for a spin already.

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I am so in love with this bag!!

The next thing that caught my eye was a bag. Because every girl needs another bag, I’m never going to turn it down, but this bag is sweet!! It’s a Stella McCartney black gym bag. It zips at the top and has two zip pockets on the outside that would be perfect for the small stuff that usually gets lost, like extra hair ties or my phone. The inside has a huge zip pocket, three open pockets and two open mesh pockets, perfect for stashing sweaty stuff. There is also a longer, detachable shoulder strap. This is a beautiful bag and it is HUGE. I could throw all my stuff in there and still have room for more. With a retail price of $190, I would have never plunked down that much for a bag on my own, so this was a real treat.

The box also comes with some apparel. When I ordered the box, I had to complete my profile with my size for all sorts of stuff. This is where things could get dicey. I haven’t bought Adidas apparel before and stuff just sometimes doesn’t fit the same from brand to brand. Right?? Luckily, Avenue A allows you to try it on and, if you need a different size, you can send parts back and exchange for the right size. So, I grabbed all the apparel, stuffed it in the most beautiful and likely most expensive gym bag I’ve ever owned, and ran to the gym in my office building to try it all on.

imageThe box came with a pair of capris, a bra and a jacket. The Capri pants are the Adistar Three-Quarter Tight in black. Thank goodness for black. I am so self-conscious about how I look in Capri pants that if my tush doesn’t look good, it finds a new home in the bottom of a bin in my closet. So, I tried them on and I really like them. They fit like a glove and have a drawstring cord for the waistband. I’m thankful for that, because otherwise I would think they were a touch large on me. The leg hits just where I like them to hit, kind of mid-calf. I’m 5’1″, so that is generally where I find most capris ending on me.

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All packed up

The jacket is a Kanoi Rucpack Dye Jacket in a brilliant emerald green. It’s kind of tie-dyed for a natural, uneven look. It is so phenomenally thin and light. I could wad it up into a ball and shove it into the back zip pocket of the jacket and go out. The fit was larger than I expected, but I am ok with it because I tend to layer if I have a jacket on and I would rather it be bigger than smaller. It is made of UPF 25+ sun-protection fabric. I’m not sure about water resistance, so I’ll let you know if I find myself in a rainstorm how it holds up!

The final item in the box was a sports bra. I’m on the fence about this bra. It’s the Supernova Bra in a beautiful melon color. It’s got plenty of padding and provides a lot of support for high-impact running. I’m embarrassed to say I danced around a bit in the changing room tying to get this thing off of me. The material isn’t so stretchy that it just comes right off. Good for when you don’t want things moving around, but fighting with a sweaty bra might make me crazy. I have to remember that this one only gets worn when I know I have help to get it off! Hahaha

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Ready for an impromptu run!

All in all, this was a really great deal! I got the following items, including their retail price:

  • Adidas Pure Boost X shoes, $120
  • Kanoi Rucpack Dye Jacket, green, $90
  • Supernova Bra,  $40
  • Adistar Three-Quarter Tight, $90
  • Adidas by Stella McCartney Big Sport Bag, black, $190

The total retail value of the box was $530 and I paid $150. More importantly, I will totally use every single thing in the box. Will I continue the subscription? Yes! This was a fun little surprise box. Hopefully the next one is just as awesome.

Rock n Roll New Orleans Race Recap

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Oh, Rock n Roll, how you tempt us. A year ago, friends convinced hubby and I to take advantage of the deep-discounted registration fee for Rock’n’Roll New Orleans and join all the cool kids. Never mind that I knew full well last January that 2016 would be completely crazy with Alex’s final semester of high school. Never mind that planning a year out for me is completely dumb. The only smart thing I did was register for the half marathon instead of the full.

Fast forward a year, NOLA was looming. A hotel was booked, although I didn’t know anything about the hotel. All I had to go on was that “it was on the list” of host hotels. I looked at the hotel’s site and the sparse photos. I just went for it. I had no idea how far away the hotel would be from the start line or the finish line or how any of this would work. We booked airfare and made sure my parents could watch our little girl. I figured my boy would be ok on his own.

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French Quarter shenanigans before our weekend went from adult to family

 

Two weeks before race weekend, my life (as expected) took a turn for the crazy. Alex was scheduled for an audition with the LSU marching band director for that following Monday. Oh, did I tell you, my sweet boy decided on LSU for college??? Hubby got a bad strain of the flu that knocked him completely out of running. I battled turf toe from mountain climbers. That is a whole-nother story!

So, I registered Alex on the very last day of on-line registration for the RnR NOLA half marathon. It was oh-my-god expensive, but worth it. But then came the next chapter of crazy: boy had a track meet for his high school the day before the race. No big deal, I’d just shuffle around flights so that he could fly to NOLA after he ran. It would be tight, but we’ve done stupid stuff like this before. Flights had to be changed and a rental car had to be booked because we would now fly home from Baton Rouge on Monday. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I should have just cancelled the trip and eaten the $50 race fees paid a year ago.

Race Recap

Expo: Well, it was just hubby and I at the expo. Boy wasn’t able to make it because of

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RRCA RoadRunner at the Expo

his track meet. The volunteers and race director were dead-set that I would not be able to pick up my son’s bib without him with me. While I understand policy, there is always room for a race director to show a small amount of compassion and reasonableness on a one-off situation. Not even a quick facetime with the boy would have swayed them. Instead I was given the “show up at 5:30 am on race day and add a little more stupid to the day.” The expo was smaller than I had expected, considering there were so many registrants. Even worse, they shoved all the vendors they did have in an extremely tight part of the convention center. It was worse than Manhattan at rush hour. You couldn’t move and the effect was beyond claustrophobic. I was able to register for a couple of races I already planned to run in the coming months while I was there and save a little money, but after the debacle with the bib for my son, I was pissed off and not really in the mood to be there so we didn’t stay long. (For the record, no volunteers were harmed in the making of this blog post. For real, it wasn’t their call on whether or not to be completely unreasonable, so I let it be.)

 

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How is it that this kid still needs help pinning his bib?

Pre-Race: 5:30am came pretty damn early. There were something like 25 or 30 corrals and they were completely open with no one to ensure that we were going into the right ones.  I can only call the process “stupid.” For a race director that purports to take the rules pretty seriously, one would think they would enforce people going into the correct corrals. But being the rule follower I am, I went dutifully into my assigned area. It was chilly enough to need a ditch shirt or jacket at the start line. I elected to just go with my tank, a pair of arm warmers, ditch gloves and my favorite running skirt and shiver until the race started. My 2:30ish estimated finish time landed me in corral 19 which resulted in not even beginning my race until 47 minutes after the start of the race. It’s always a little disappointing to think that the first place winner would likely cross the half finish line before the last runner crosses the start line. Insert eye roll and pursed lips here – whatever…

 

Mile 1: The race began along Poydras and made a couple of turns to make it over to St. Charles Ave. I was a little faster than my target pace for the race, but I always give myself the first mile to settle in to the race and it wasn’t so fast that I would tire.

Mile 2-almost 8: This is an out-and-back along St. Charles through some really pretty old homes. I feel like I missed a lot of the course because the road was so crummy that a lot of people chose to jump into the median and run on the trolley tracks. I remember seeing a band early on and they were not bad. I think the balance of the music was mostly piped in, which is kind of a bummer. My pace was just about what I was looking to target, considering I didn’t really have much of a goal time. The temperature was really climbing fast, so I ditched my gloves and arm warmers early on and made a conscious effort to stop at the water stops and ensure I was staying hydrated.

Mile 8-10:This stretch was through the streets where all the hotels were at. I had to giggle a little as we passed right by our hotel and I “offered” myself an out to just go back to bed. It was at this point I was getting a little hungry and craving a taco. My pace was picking up and I felt really strong. I remember distinctly hitting the 10 mile mat and looking at my watch. I had never run ten miles that fast (ok, we’re talking about only shaving off a couple of minutes here, but it was faster!) and I actually pulled out my phone to text hubby about it! Yep, this is what it’s like to run with me – be ready for texting and selfies! But then I got to thinking, that’s only a 5K left and I know how fast I have been able to run that distance lately. A PR was possible! Are you kidding me??? That poor little half marathon PR has stood for years! The phone immediately went back into my skirt and I began to focus.

Mile 10-12.5: This portion of the race was all down Esplanade Ave. and the French Quarter area. It is probably my favorite part of the race because there is so much activity. This is where I remember hearing the bagpipes. For real, I’m a sucker for a drum line or bagpipes. I realized that I had watered down my Tailwind over the last six miles through refills to the point where I absolutely had to stop and refill my water bottle at the final water stop. I was sweating pretty badly and fading fast, and I don’t use any other nutrition than my trusty Tailwind. It took a little more time than I would like to deal with my little Ziploc baggies of white powder (LOL), but it was a must. Note to self, I must figure out a better way to deal with this stuff on my road races… Up til now, the marathon and half marathon course was shared, but I was never so happy about my decision to run the half as when the branch off occurred. My pace was good, but not good enough for that PR. No biggie since I hadn’t aimed for a PR in the first place.

Final 3/4 mile: Yep, so this is where we enter City Park. It’s really big and pretty. It might officially qualify as the longest “finisher chute” ever. After such a strong race, I almost cried when, with more than a quarter mile to go, I took a step and my leg wouldn’t move. Yep, calf cramps! Are you kidding me??? I must have looked like a complete lunatic shaking my leg like a wet dog out there mid stride. This was just going to be one of those races that I couldn’t speed up at the end or give that little extra kick. The one thing Rock n Roll generally does well is the finish line. Plenty of water and Gatorade, bananas and salty snacks. I got one of the coveted finishers medals with the Mardi Gras beads. Some of the later finishers got a printed ribbon instead.

Finish: The tough part about a point-to-point race is the travel back to the start line. As in most cases, the race used school buses to transport everyone back. I feel bad for the kids on Monday, because we sure were a stinky bunch! The bus ride was a very long thirty minutes that we shared with an extremely loud guy that had far more energy than the rest of us. My son and husband said they enjoyed the concert put on by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, but I was tired

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You know you’re in NOLA when a girl is willing to run 26 miles with a veil and a bouquet.

and really just wanted a shower, so we didn’t stay for the party after the race. I felt like I had run a trail race, I was so beat up. Overall, I didn’t remember a whole lot of bands on the course (mostly it was just music being played like a DJ) and the water stops felt sporadic at best.

 

Hotel

We stayed at the Old No. 77 Hotel on Tchoupitoulas St. It was listed as a race hotel on the site and looked pretty modern and edgy. I was able to get two queen beds at the last minute when my adult weekend went family. It was fairly spendy for my taste. If I spend $250 a night, I better be treated well. We weren’t. Check-in was delayed because rooms weren’t ready. We were exhausted from an early morning flight and being on our feet all day and the best they could do was say they were sorry. Ironically, I saw plenty of people checking in quite early, so I’m not sure why they couldn’t just find us an available room if the original one was still dirty. The hard wood floors were sticky and we didn’t have enough towels. Thank goodness we were able to run down a poor housekeeper on another floor and beg for a few more. The walls were a bit thin, but at least the beds were comfortable. Or I was too exhausted that I could have slept on cement. Who knows.

Travel from the airport

OK, so this is what you need to know about traveling to New Orleans for races. Parking at the hotels is stupid expensive and it is a solid eight hour drive, so it just didn’t make a ton of sense to drive for a short weekend trip. But, airfare is fairly pricey from Dallas if you don’t get it on a deep-discount sale that Southwest does periodically. And even with the sale, the best you can do is about $73 each way. However, I was able to secure airfare on American Airlines from Baton Rouge to Dallas for less than $100 per person a week out! I’m not a great planner when it comes to travel and really just fly by the seat of my pants. I figured we would use Uber from the airport. However, know that it is a minimum trip of $75 from the airport to the French Quarter and surrounding areas. A cab is about $45 each way. There is a shuttle that you can book online with 24 hours minimum advance notice that is $24 per person.

Would I do this race again? Well, that’s a big question. I felt like everyone I knew from Dallas was in New Orleans for this race. So it’s no surprise that the group is already planning their trip for next year and taking advantage of the $50 race entry. Sure, it’s a flat course. But it wasn’t anything to write home about. The cost of the race wasn’t bad but all the rest of the costs really add up. Ultimately, I won’t run this race again. It wasn’t as great as it should have been. But every race teaches us something about ourselves. This race taught me that running a smaller, local, more personal race is what I crave. I prefer to be a runner and not just another damn bib number.

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Yep, could have slept anywhere after this weekend