Today's entry is from Rabenki (friend her on DailyMile), a NOLA resident and new runner. Last weekend, she participated in her first half marathon (second ever race), the New Orleans Rock & Roll Half Marathon, and this is what she has to say about it. I can't wait to hear what race she is going to tackle next!
The night before the race, I was pretty nervous. I started running 5 months ago with the Couch to 5K program, and back then even running a full minute was a challenge! But I found a training plan (thank you, HalHigdon) and stuck with it, so I hoped it would be enough to get me through the race, even if I didn’t finish particularly fast.
I spent the night before deciding what to wear and perfecting my running playlist. Of course I managed to obsess over it, and that meant that I didn’t go to bed until 1 am. Oops. But yes, Ke$ha’s Tik Tok did make the miles fly by. However, it really hurt when my alarm went off at 4:30 am. Breakfast was a cinnamon raisin bagel and a banana.
The start line was at Lafayette Square--runners were EVERYWHERE--but everything was well organized. I was by myself so it was kind of boring, but a lot of people had fun costumes. I still don’t understand the chick who had a belt of empty beer cans jangling around her waist. I was waaay back in Corral 22, which meant I started 36 minutes after gun time. I was really worried that with 22,000 runners, I would have to fight for space to run, but I was totally comfortable.
I enjoyed the first part of the course, which goes up and down St. Charles, where the streetcar runs. There are huge, gorgeous homes to gawk at and beautiful trees. At mile 5 I saw one of my friends who came to cheer me on, sitting in a foldup chair, in her pajamas, under a blanket. So that brightened my morning! By mile 6 I thought…okay, well it would be nice to stop running now. Onward! I kept running, but I started taking walk breaks, and they were getting a bit longer. At mile 8 I hit a wall, because my legs were starting to ache. At some point I choked down a mandarin orange flavored GU—gross! I was mad at myself for not shoving the free sports beans from the expo in my pocket.
I focused on two friends who told me that they would be between miles 10 and 11, so I just kept telling myself that I needed to make it to see them, and after that it would be less than 3 miles left! It totally pumped me up when I saw them with a bright pink sign for me, and I knew that the end was near. However, I was taking a lot of walk breaks. I’m kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to run more of those last two miles, because at that point it really is just a mental game that you have to push through. Also, the Lilith Fair-type band at mile 12 was NOT what I needed to energize myself. Oh well…most of the bands were great, especially the brass bands.
I was SO excited when I saw City Park, because I knew that the finish line was close. GPS watches do have downsides, because mine was slightly off and told me I was already at 13.1 miles, when I still had 0.16 miles to go. It was a winding path through the park entrance, and every time we came around a bend I was sure that I would see the finish line, but it wasn’t it! Definitely the longest 0.16 miles of my LIFE. Somehow I made it. At least I was able to pick up my pace, so I was proud of myself for that.
A finisher’s medal and some chocolate milk later, and I was done. I crossed the finish line in 2:54.
A friend picked me up from the park and we went out for the fried goodness that is poboys. And when I got up to leave I almost fell over. Still, I’m looking forward to my next race! It was a great experience and I loved having a goal to motivate myself.
Follow Elizabeth on Twitter, @BeTheZoom