Guest post from Rachel.
When Meridith contacted me last week and asked me to write a guest post for Scoot a Doot about the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I was super excited! I had this natural high after finishing my first half marathon this year (and fourth half marathon since last June) and getting a PR! I love reading all the posts on this blog written by real women all over and the idea that someone would be interested in what I have to say is beyond me!
Then suddenly I found myself getting nervous and wanting to back out. You see, I have this terrible habit that I know no one else has: comparing myself to other people. Although I totally PR’ed in this race, I started thinking, “But for most people, it’s not a PR… for most people, my time is practically walking a half marathon!” Then I remembered that I’m not most people… I’m me, you are you and my fitness journey may not be exactly like anyone else’s and that’s okay! But let’s get back to the topic at hand, lest I ramble on.
There are several reasons why I signed up for the New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon.
- It’s an amazing city filled with so much history and culture
- It’s got all kinds of delicious food
- this race is completely flat (none of those sly ‘rolling hills’ tossed in there)
- One word: beignets
- It’s the birthplace of jazz – where else are you gonna hear fantastic live jazz?
- Have I mentioned the food yet?
On Saturday, February 27, I picked up my friend Chonda in Mississippi and we drove to New Orleans for the Rock N Roll Half. I flew from chilly Philadelphia, so stepping outside in the warm, southern sunshine was a welcomed change!
We headed to the Convention Center to pick up our race packets. Driving around downtown really wasn’t the nightmare I thought it would be (nothing compared to driving around Philly!) and there was plenty of parking around the Convention Center. The expo was not as big as other expos I’d gone to before. I wish there had been more vendors, but packet pick up was well organized and we enjoyed walking around the expo. The rest of the afternoon we strolled around the French Quarter.
We got back to our hotel and realized we’d walked nearly 8 miles and our feet were tired. Probably shouldn’t have done quite so much walking before running a half marathon the next day! Whoops! We stayed in the Holiday Inn – Downtown Superdome. It was a bit pricey, but we picked this hotel because it was only a few blocks walk from the starting line. We knew there would be a ton of road closures early in the morning and didn’t want to worry about transportation.
On Sunday, February 28, I woke up excited and ready to run. The 10k started at 7am and the half and full marathon started at 7:30am. We left the hotel around 7am in search of our corral, among the estimated 22,000 other runners. My biggest concern going into this was the weather. I’m not a summer runner – any kind of heat turns me into a complete baby. Thankfully the weather was perfect: a little cool before the run, but that chill quickly left a few miles into the race. I didn’t need any extra throwaway layers before the race; I was comfortable in just my tank and capris.
Being the back of the packer that I am, I made my way to corral #20 where my friends were waiting. The corrals were divided by the 1000s and there were 22 corrals. They let a corral of people go every 2 minutes, so it took us a good 40 minutes just to get up to the starting line. I was excited to be at the front of my corral. In previous races, it was hard to get maneuver around walkers because I’d gone too far back. The race volunteers were fantastic and got us all pumped up and ready to run. The buzzer went off and I took off, but had to remind myself to take it easy. Since I typically go out too fast and end up walking several miles, my only goal was to keep a consistent pace and most of all, I just wanted to enjoy the race!
The first few miles ran through downtown New Orleans and were pretty quiet with not much to see. The next few miles ran through the Garden District. Studying all of the colorful, decorative buildings and houses as I ran, combined with the tree-shaded streets really made the miles continue to go by quickly.
There was live music every few miles and I stopped to dance, twirl and strut at every single one! I mean, it’s New Orleans, how can you not be moved by the music?!
I loved seeing the Disco Amigos along the way cheering us on!
Another favorite was the bagpipers. I slowed down to a walk and listened for a few seconds and then remembered I was running in a race…get moving!
From the Garden District, the race continued into the French Quarter. I snapped plenty of pictures of the trees dripping with colorful Mardi Gras beads during miles 6-7 and around mile 8, there were more spectators which means plenty of amusing signs to keep you laughing and running.
It was in the French Quarter around mile 9 that I looked down at my watch and realized if I kept up my pace, I was going to PR, even after all of my dancing and twirling and selfie snapping! I immediately started the pep talks to keep myself going.
I got myself through miles 10 and 11 by composing my “I just landed a new PR” speech…you think I’m kidding, but I had composed an Oscar-worthy speech in my head! The last 2 miles were the toughest for me as we continued into New Orleans City Park. The sun was blazing and there was not the slightest bit of shade to be found! But the all of the supporters and cheerleaders in the last 2 miles of the race were awesome!
I crossed the finish line and happily accepted my beaded medal… then looked down to see my PR. I finished in 2:58:01. That’s over a half hour faster than my first half marathon last June. Am I happy I PR’ed? Absolutely. But more importantly, I had FUN! This race was an absolute blast and I’ve already signed up to do it again next year. Wanna join me?
P.S. We rewarded ourselves with some post-race beignets
Mer here again! Thanks so much to Rachel for sharing her experience with us and CONGRATS on such an awesome PR! Have you run a Rock ‘n Roll race? How do you reward yourself after a great race?