What a hectic week it’s been! Who am I kidding? It’s hectic around here nearly all the time, lol! Although, with Easter and the Crescent City Classic jam-packed into one weekend, things did seem a little more stressful than usual around here. It’s taken me nearly all week to write this blog but here it is…finally!!
Since we were going sans kids on this trip, we had planned to start making our drop-offs around 11am that morning to two different grandparent’s houses. (With a brood as large as ours, it helps sometimes to have 2 stay at one grandparent’s house and the other 3 at the other house. So thankful for our parents!!!) Of course, we were nowhere near the exterior of our home at 11am much less dropping anyone off! After several false starts, we were finally on our way sometime after 12 to drop off our first two kids at Jason’s parents’ house. My parents live about 40 miles away but in the direction of New Orleans so after another pit stop back at our house, we headed their way! Jason kept asking me how I was feeling about the race the next day. Was I getting excited, was I feeling nervous, dreading it, hoping for a PR? My answer: “Honestly, I haven’t even really thought about it today.”… And I really had not. Yes, I was aware that a 10k race was imminent but getting 5 kids and ourselves packed and out of the door to go anywhere is a major undertaking (even though the older ones can pack for themselves, it’s getting them to actually do it before it’s time to leave…and that isn’t easy). When we’d finally said our last goodbyes to our little (and big) ones, it took me about an hour or so before I could shake that stressed, rush, rush, rush mode that I get into when we have to go somewhere.
We just knew that traffic was going to be awful as we drove into New Orleans, but, there’s a first time for everything and we cruised right on in with no problems. As we made our way to the Hilton Riverside, we discovered that all the traffic we thought we’d dodged had actually congregated down between the Sheraton and the Hilton! It wasn’t just vehicles but people…everywhere. Most of the ones we saw were scurrying around carrying their yellow Crescent City Classic bags and it made me anxious to go check in to our hotel and head over to the Sheraton and get my own little yellow bag. Our room was great! The best part about it was the awesome view of the Mississippi River. I loved watching the boats go by and hearing the boat horns. Very, very cool.
Jason has been nursing a sore foot in the last few weeks so we decided to look like lazy runners and take a cab over to the Expo. Our driver was very….impatient, to put it lightly. I don’t think I’ve ever traveled that fast or prayed that hard in a cab. He was blowing the horn and tailgating and I was really surprised we made it. Period. Needless to say, when it was time to go back to our hotel, Jason said he’d risk a little foot pain and we walked back. 🙂
The Expo was great! Last year’s was overshadowed by the super-long lines we had to wait in to get our timing chips to go on our shoes. This year, everyone was chipped and it was attached to our numbers that we got in the mail, so the only line we waited in was for our yellow bag that held that t-shirt we all know we want (no matter how ugly it is) when we sign up for a race! It’s always fun getting the free stuff that the different vendors are giving out and looking at all the various running products they have to offer. Our favorite stop was at the Bondi Band booth and the One More Mile booth! We would have stayed a lot longer but next on our agenda was a late dinner at Drago’s and we were starving!!
After a fabulous (but not too heavy) meal, we made our way back up to our room to get ready for the big race the next morning. Of course, by the time we’d taken our showers and gotten our pajamas on, I realized that I’d forgotten my self-tanner downstairs in our van. If you’ve seen any of my race day photos, I don’t have to tell you that I am a tan-in a can-aholic, lol. It’s obviously not necessary to do this and race but since I look like a vampire right out of Forks,WA if I don’t, I’d rather save everyone from being blinded, lol. In a way, maybe it does help me a little. It’s one less negative thing for me to think about while I’m racing. If I start feeling bad, all kinds of crazy, negative thoughts try to jump in and if I can keep the “you are blinding everyone with your pasty white skin” thoughts out of my head, then great! So…I freaked out when I realized my tanner was way down in the parking garage. Pajama clad, Jason was sweet enough to trek with me across the hotel & parking garage to go and get it so I could put a good coating on before bedtime (and have one less thing to worry about the next day:)).
The next morning, we woke up pretty early so we could go eat breakfast in the beautiful executive lounge the Hilton offers. They had a good breakfast (didn’t have the oatmeal I was hoping for :() and an even better view of the Mississippi River and, on the other side, the city of New Orleans. It’s always nice to be able to get up early enough on race days and not feel rushed. Although, since we seem to be chronically late to nearly every race, maybe we should get up even earlier! 🙂 I’ll spare you the pictures that Jason took of me eating breakfast that morning. Definitely not blog worthy! 😉 Here’s what we saw while we ate breakfast:
After breakfast, we hurried back to our room to get our running clothes on. I have to admit that my nerves had finally kicked in just a little bit as I got ready. Even though I hadn’t had time in the last couple of days to think a lot about the race, I had been aware of one major thing. It was going to be really, really hot. Even the night before as we waited to be seated at the restaurant, I could hear runners talking to each other about the next day and the main topic was the heat. I wondered to myself if I’d had enough water to drink and reminded myself that my time to drink any more was starting to run out. No need to try to gulp down a ton of water and have to go stand in a mile long porta potty line! We took a couple of pictures and then headed out. As I gathered up my belongings to take with me, I realized I had forgotten my Nike+ sensor in the van!! No!!! I was freaking out (just a little). That’s like showing up to a race with no shoes, which is a bad thing, unless you’re a barefoot runner, lol. Needless to say, my pre-race warm up was a sprint to the parking garage to get my sensor and a sprint back into the hotel because I had to have one more potty break before we went to the starting line. Disaster averted. Whew.
Our walk to the starting line was another good warm up but I could tell it was really starting to get steamy hot already. We saw the variety of runners and walkers on our trip over. These are those folks I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog that brave the heat and must have quite the tolerance for wearing things that would literally drive me batty if I had to run in them.
When we nearly to the starting line, we were really excited to see that we had gotten there in enough time to watch the small parade start that goes before the elite runners start their run. We even had this crazy idea that we’d get to see the elites take off and still have enough time to get in line. Wrong. As we got closer to the starting line, there was a race official telling us we had to take a left and go a couple of blocks down. Jason was suddenly in panic mode. It was a fast walk (and jog at times) but we finally made it and started trying to work our way into our correct corral, which isn’t easy. We ducked into the crowd in one spot but realized that tons of people with a different color number were there too and it would be a much slower start, so off we went again trying to get closer to the starting line. When we found a suitable spot and waited for the starting gun, Jason took a couple of pictures of the crowd and then, as I always do, I kissed him goodbye and stared straight ahead. (I try not to focus on Jason when a race begins because he runs so much faster than I do. If I watch him running away, I have this weird urge to chase him and since I’d never catch him, it’s better to just focus on my run and not his.)
When the gun sounded, there wasn’t this mass of people taking off in a sprint, it was more like a fast shuffle. This was because everyone, except the elites, were way behind the starting line and there’s no need to run to it, at least there was no reason for me to, lol. I would say that basically everyone around us was thinking the same thing.The excitement of the crowd was definitely contagious and I was anxious to start running. As I hit that starting line, I took off with a burst of speed. I ran through the first leg of the race thinking how much stronger I felt this year as compared to last year’s race when I hit the wall extremely early on. I was also very glad that we’d moved closer to the starting line because, although there were some, there weren’t nearly as many folks that had lined up in the wrong spot and so I didn’t have to do as much dodging. It was really hot, especially when we were on the streets that had little to no shade. I was ever so grateful to finally make a turn onto the street that went through a neighborhood and I could move over and run in the shade. By the time I reached the halfway mark, the time clock that they had set up said 33 mins (no idea what the seconds were) but it wasn’t a bad time considering the crowd and heat. Somewhere a little beyond the half way point things started going downhill and I don’t mean the streets!!! I felt like I was going to die. It was SO HOT!! I was feeling weak. My sunglasses even felt too heavy on my face. I kept trying to call up my inner coach…the one that always shows up just in the nick of time. Where was she? Had she sat this one out? Things weren’t going well at all. I had even convinced myself that somehow they had added something to the course. My left brain kept chiming in, “Why don’t you just walk?” “Maybe you should quit and you’d feel better.” “You probably can’t even run that 5k next weekend.” “How did you ever finish the 1/2 marathon?” “You know you’re never going to make it, it’s way too hot.” “Jason has already finished and is enjoying ice cold water right now.” “Look at all these other people around you…they’re passing you.” “You are so SLOW!” Yeah, my left brain isn’t very nice to me when I’ve hit the wall. It gets ugly in there. On the final loop before we headed toward the finish line, I looked over and could have sworn I saw people making an extra loop in the distance. I nearly started crying. If there was an extra loop, that was it. I couldn’t do it. I kept pounding the pavement and every step seemed to take every bit of energy I had. Lowest point of the day: A guy in a banana suit passed me as if I was standing still. What had he been doing the whole time? Pacing behind me, waiting to break my spirit even more? I started praying. I pleaded for it to be over soon…to just be able to make it across the finish line without passing out.
We came around that loop and there it was – the Marathonfoto spot where they are up on a platform, waiting for us to run through so they can take our pictures. Significant turn of events. 🙂 If they are there on that overhang thingy, that means one thing to me – finish line in sight!! YES!!! Apparently, I’d been hallucinating or maybe had just caught sight of the race after-party. Oh, and guess who decided to show up for picture time? “She” did. (Better late than never?) I was suddenly kicking it back into overdrive again. I pushed my once seemingly 80lb sunglasses on top of my head and approached the photographers with a big thumbs up, smiling like I’d been cruising effortless the whole way. After that point, it was as if I were as fresh as a daisy. I came across the finish line with both hands up in the air, thanking God that I had made it. Prayers answered. 🙂 I may have finished strong but I was very near the point of quitting not long before that.
Immediately I began trying to look around for Jason. Last year, he wasn’t able to see me because there had been an emergency at the finish line and they had made him move. It took an hour to finally find each other. This year was going to be different. He had even brought his camera in his SPIbelt so he could get a picture of me crossing the finish. They kept us moving along and I kept searching the huge crowd for him but I couldn’t find him anywhere. We were supposed to meet at the first water stop after the finish line. I got there along with a zillion other runners. Because people were constantly coming from the finish line, it was almost impossible to search the crowd. I waited and I waited. Finally, my phone rang and a strange number showed up. It was Jason. He had been to the water stop but had encountered the same problem I had and finally decided to call. When we were finally reunited beside the water truck, he had bad news for me. He never saw me cross the finish line. He said he waited until the 1:15 point, trying to give me more than enough time and finally realized that somehow he’d missed me, again. Good news was that he got a picture of a guy dressed in a banana suit. The same one that blew passed me. 😦 I think next year I’ll put the words “HEY JASON – HERE I AM!” on my shirt. 🙂
The race after party is always exciting. There’s tons of free food and drinks live bands playing. It was also getting hotter by the second. From the time I hit the first water stop when I was waiting on Jason until the time we left to get on the bus back, I drank 2 bottles of water, a bottle of Powerade and 2 chocolate milks. I was really, really thirsty. (I didn’t stop at the water stops along the race route.) I also found out that Jason started out way too fast and was feeling about the same way I had been feeling during the race. He said that he was feeling the effects of the heat around the 2nd mile and beyond. Running in the heat stinks! It was getting hotter by the second at the race party so after we took a few pictures, we decided it was time to get back to the hotel and find some real food.
Our next big hurdle was to stand in a very long line in the heat, waiting to get on a bus.
The ride back to the hotel was very enjoyable but a familiar feeling on the bottom of my feet wasn’t feeling great at all. As soon as we got inside of our hotel room, I pulled my sweaty shoes and socks off to check things out. Blisters? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve never gotten blisters from running a 10k. Not even when I was just beginning. The only blisters I’ve ever had from running was when I was training for the half and had gotten a few because of the high mileage. I still don’t understand it. In fact, if any of you can think of a reason why I would have gotten them, I’d love to hear! I was wearing my favorite running socks and shoes….nothing new on my feet. I’m baffled.
After getting cleaned up, we went and enjoyed a great post race lunch at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. It was so nice to sit down and eat! The restaurant was beautiful and had a courtyard-type area beside it that we were able to sit by the windows and see. By the time we finished eating and went outside, the wind had starting blowing so hard, you’d think a hurricane was on the way. It was like a wind tunnel! It felt so good and I couldn’t help but wish it had shown up a little earlier when I was suffering from heat exposure, lol!
There was just one more stop on my to do list before we packed up and headed home. I wanted to go visit the new Fleurty Girl shop close to Jackson Square. I think the wind blew us most of the way there! That particular part of New Orleans is so beautiful and filled with history. I could easily wander around down there and just look for hours. We found the shop and I even got a few early Mother’s Day gifts. Yay! 🙂
Overall, it was a great trip. The race could have been better but it’s in the books now and we will take what we’ve learned and apply it to the next race we run. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that when it’s really hot and you hit the wall, a 10k race can seem longer and more difficult than a half marathon. I also learned that I have something inside of me that won’t let me quit, no matter how hard I beg at times. Call it stubbornness, call it willpower or even call it stupid but whatever it is, I’m so grateful it’s in there because this is one race that wouldn’t have been finished without it.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a great race if you have one planned!
P.S. I completely spaced out and forgot to tell you my finishing time!! My chip time was 1:09:28. I finished 4926 out of nearly 22,000! Jason’s time was 52:24 (PR) and he finished 1364. Great day for him!