New Orleans Half Marathon Report: Part 2

Race morning! The alarm on my Droid went off at 5:00am, but I was waking up all night (thinking I overslept), per my usual big race routine. Ah well. I tried to boil some water in the in-room coffee pot for my instant oatmeal, but the coffee pot didn’t work at all. Luckily the water from the tap got really hot. That must be an old timey pick up line: “You’re hot enough to boil my oats, baby!”

We all hopped in a mini van cab outside that we shared with another fellow runner to the start. We found out there that James had missed the shuttle to the half-marathon relay point (he is doing the second leg; Brett is doing the first), and he will have to walk. But it isn’t too far away. We stayed in line for the porta-potties forever – Bobby didn’t think he’d make it time (being in corral 1 and all). Side note I forgot to mention: I must have been out of it when I registered back in January because I put my expected half-marathon finishing time as 1:15:00. Didn’t realize this until I got my confirmation letter a week before the race, where they placed me in corral 1. Yeah – that’s not happening.

Keshia and I went back to corral 13 while the fasties went to corral 1. It was cold! I wore my favorite black shorts and blue St. Jude tank top. I was glad I did because it did get warm later, but waiting in the starting line was colder than expected. Should have brought a throw away sweatshirt.

The first few miles were chilly, but I warmed up. Great crowd support the whole way. The blisters on my pinkie toes were wrapped up in band-aides, but still hurt some and that made me run a little funny (#1 stupid preventable mistake = Toe blisters). First few miles were zero pain. But already at mile 3 I started to get some left knee pain again that stayed with me off and on throughout the race (#2 stupid preventable mistake = Tapering too much; Not running at all the week of the race). I loved the KISS singers around mile 3.

The race was going by fast! I was feeling good (blisters and knee pain aside) and Keshia was feeling great! Roads started to get pretty bumpy and rough at mile 6 – I felt like I was trail running I was looking down so much. By mile 10 my knee was giving some sharp pains that were slowing me down more, and I lost sight of Keshia. Even though, thought I would be okay until (and this pissed me off most of all) I kid you not, right at mile 13 – right when I was coming into the park for the finish – I got an insane stabbing stomach cramp exactly like I got at St. Jude around mile 13/14 (#3 stupid preventable mistake = Use the bathroom the morning of the race, or at least the night before; yes, you know what I’m talking about, that has to be what it was). I wanted to sprint it in so bad, but all I could do to hold my stomach and do a slow jog while everyone around me was cheering and sprinting to the finish. So frustrating. It kinda went away a few yards before the finish line, but in my finish line video I am sort of hobbling (probably the blisters helped with that too; it was heaven to get those shoes off).

But still, new half marathon PR! 2:11:37. Old time was 2:13. My overall pace was 10:03. Keshia PRed too with 2:09. Pam also PRed with an amazing 1:44 with Patrick right with her. And James and Brett got 3rd overall in the relay – Wow!

We waited for Bobby and Nathan to finish the marathon. After accidentally waiting at the half marathon finish for awhile, not realizing there were 2 finish lines, we raced over to the marathon finish. There I finally bumped into Michelle! She had PRed with 2:27. Bobby finished the full marathon with 3:27:44 with a 7:56 pace and he felt great! Nathan was not far behind him at 3:34.

We regrouped, relaxed in the sun and drank our 2 free Miller 64 beers (AKA water). The weather was great. I inspected my blisters and found that my left one had turned into a blood blister. Bobby saw it and said, “Is that a red jelly bean on your foot?” When I told him what it was he was horrified and promptly named me “Skittle Foot”.

For lunch we ate po-boys at a small place that featured several Ziploc bags with pennies in them, hung up to keep the flies away (seemed to work). Bobby and I had the Alligator po-boy and I had my first ever Bloody Mary (verdit: too salty for me).

For dinner that night we ate at the Acme Oyster House at 724 Iberville Street and had the most amazing oysters. Bobby and I had eaten there on a previous trip, and it is well worth the wait in line. I saw a 15-dozen oyster challenge featured on the wall and believe me, I think I could have done it (though I don’t think I want to know the stomach ailments that result from too many oysters – yerg). Again we wandered down Bourbon, this time venturing into the many souvenir shops. We even bought a bag of beads and threw a few out from the balcony of a bar (not a lot of takers on a Sunday night though). We got revenge on Patrick by being “so kind” and buying him a shot of absinthe. Then we ended the night at the piano at LaFitte’s.

Monday morning we were on our way back home to Memphis. What a great trip, and if we do the race next year I know I’ll do better from my lessons learned!

New Orleans Half Marathon Report: Part 1

We arrived in New Orleans on Friday afternoon after a 6-hour car ride with Keshia and James. It actually went by pretty quick. Originally we were going to rent a minivan and have more with us, but Brett had to leave later and Allison decided not to go.

Our hotel was the Holiday Inn Westbank. Awesome that it was newly renovated and cheap, but not so awesome that the nearby interstate was quite loud. Probably won’t stay there next time (but the authentic 1950’s coffee shop 2 buildings down was a kick).

The first restaurant our tour guide Nathan took us to was Lola’s – A small Spanish restaurant at 3312 Esplanade Avenue. You can bring your own wine (or even beer as Pam and Patrick did). Their sangria was great. This was the first restaurant of many in NOLA were we discovered “The Curse of No Splitting Up of Checks”. Guess what’s hard? Doing math after sangria – Yarg!

Afterwards we traveled to DBA on 618 Frenchman Street to hear the “Pirate Band” as Cassie called them. I think they were Russian? Whatever they were, there was a stand up bass (which the singer actually stood up on at one point) and an accordion involved. Next was LaFitte’s at 941 Bourbon Street – one of the oldest bars in the United States. Patrick was “so kind” to treat us all to Jagerbombs – one of the oldest drinks in the United States (Wait, I may have to get my fact checker on that). The rest of the night was spent wandering down Bourbon where Patrick was “so kind” again and treated us all to Hand Grenades (which I’ve always had every time I’ve been to NOLA). Hmmm…Bombs and Grendades? I see a theme here…

Saturday we recouped by going to Mother’s at 401 Poydras Street for a late breakfast. Long wait for this place. We’d tried to go on previous trips but had been scared off by the long line. It actually moved quite fast. Getting food was a little strange: You wait in line inside like a deli to order and then seat yourself where ever you can get a spot (usually hovering over someone busing a table). But we kept wondering, “How are they going to know where to bring our food?!”. Well, someone comes up to you after you snag a seat and you give them your receipt. Food was pretty good, coffee was my fav (zero bitterness). Honestly not sure if it was worth the wait and crazy seating arrangement though.

The Expo at the Convention Center was next. By this point I realized the shoes I’d picked out to walk around it weren’t as comfortable as I’d thought. Blisters on both pinky toes had formed – Argh! But the expo was the coolest I’d been too: tons of vendors, games, giveaways. Finally got a Hippee Runner belt with the correct 4 loops and in a cool shade of pinkish-coral. I should have ragged the guy about my defunct 2 loop belt I got from them off of Amazon (which I have yet to return – yikes – need to do that).

Pre-race dinner was some amazing sushi at Ninja at 8433 Oak Street. I could’ve eaten 4 bowls of their seaweed salad. The Swamp Roll even featured some marinated seaweed draped on top of it. Bobby ordered the spicy Volcano Roll and was treated to a giant plate of sushi, piled high in a volcano shape. It was covered with so many delicious crispies and chili sauce, we wondered if there actually was any sushi underneath. But the award for spiciest roll goes to the Devil’s Roll, ordered by Brett. Tears of joy (pain? anger? love?) rolled down his cheeks. Bobby confirmed it was the spiciest ever and filled with wasabi.

After a dinner that was probably too long, we convoyed and parked Nathan’s car near the finish of the race so we would have a ride back the next day. This was a fantastic idea, and I highly advise it (just make sure not to park in one of the many tow-away zones on race day).

We drove back to the hotel and snuggled into bed, exhausted, a little later than we wanted (11:00pm I think?) but excited for the race tomorrow!

New Orleans Half Marathon Report: Part 2 – Coming Tomorrow