On Sunday, Feb. 24th, I ran the RnR New Orleans marathon.
I had my alarm set for 5:30. It was a 7 am start time and I was staying just a few blocks from the start. I woke up at 4:30 instead. I guess I was excited for the race.
The race hadn’t been on my mind much the week following up to it. I’ve had a really good training season and I felt pretty confident going in.
I laid around in bed for a while and looked at the course. I started getting a little nervous. 26.2 miles is a LONG way. I finally got out of bed around 5 and started getting dressed. My blood sugar was 74.
After I got dressed, I thought it would be a good idea to eat something of substance before the race. I fixed myself a bowl of oatmeal. I usually don’t eat much before I run, but I knew it would probably help with my blood sugars. Before I ate my blood sugar was 133. I only bolused for half the carbs since I would need my sugar up for the race.
After I ate my oatmeal, I started wondering if it was a good idea to change my routine. Like I said before, I don’t usually eat much before I run. Luckily, I didn’t have any side effects from eating.
I walked down to the corrals around 6:15. My cousin was running the half and I wanted to see her before the race and wish her luck. She was in corral 8 and I was in 14, so I didn’t think we would be running into each other after the start. We did meet up and said our well wishes. I walked back to my corral and patiently waited for the start. I checked my sugar again at 6:30 and it was 216. At 6:45 I was getting anxious and checked my sugar again. I didn’t want it too high or too low starting out. It was 180 and I decided to eat some GU gel to keep it up for the start of the race.
Slowly but surely 7 am came around and the race started. The elites were off and 20 minutes or so later my corral was starting. I worked my way to the head of my corral and took off. I was feeling strong and confident. I was going to check my sugars every 5 miles like I had been doing during my training.
My goal for the year was to finish a marathon in under 5 hours. My previous time 5:36. With the excellent training I’d been having, in my mind I wanted to finish in under 4:30.
I started out faster than expected. It was a very crowded first half of the race with over 10,000 runners. Karebear was waiting for me at mile 2 where we turned on to St. Charles Ave heading into the Garden District. I saw her as I was coming up and worked my way to the side to give her a high five. I noticed she looked a little teary eyed and me tear up a little. I asked her about it after the race and she said she was just really proud of me. It helps a lot to have good support.
St. Charles Ave was basically a 4 mile out and back stretch. I was running just over an 8 minute mile for the first 3-4 miles and I kept telling myself to slow down. I was trying to get around everyone and it just made me go faster. At mile 5 I checked my sugar. It was 114 and I thought that was strange since I had eaten a GU gel before the start on top of a high sugar. Then I realized I had forgotten to decrease my basal for the run. I stopped on the sidewalk, made the decrease and ate another GU.
I only brought 5 GU gels with me. I usually don’t need them until I get into the double digit miles. With that scenario I would have a couple extra if I needed them. Well, I had already eaten 2 and I was only 5 miles in. I knew they would have some during the race, but I was nervous about running out.
Around mile 6 I was running through a water station. Someone stopped right in front of me and forced me to quickly move to the inside of the pack. When I did that, I literally almost ran into my cousin. She was walking through the water station and we ran the next 3 or 4 miles together. It was nice to have a running buddy even if was just for a little while.
Karebear got a pic of us around mile 8 1/2.
Around mile 9 we wished each other good luck again and went our separate ways. I checked my sugar again at mile 10 and it had dropped to 46. I had just picked up 2 gels at the previous water station and quickly ate one of them.
I was still feeling good mentally and physically. I knew the halfway point was straight ahead along Esplanade Ave. This road runs behind the French Quarter and goes straight into City Park where the finish lines were. The streets were still pretty crowded and I was still weaving through the crowd of runners. Once I got to the entrance of City Park and the marathoners veered left to continue, I checked my sugar again. It had come up some to 76 and I ate another GU gel.
As the marathoners continued, the crowded streets got slim. I think about 1 out 4 racers ran the full. The route continued along Marconi Dr. and Took a right onto Lakeshore Dr. for a out and back loop to finish at City Park.
Around mile 16 I began to feel the pain and my pace started slowing. I checked my sugar again and it had dropped again to 68. I ate another gel and continued on. I passed trough a water station where spectators and cheer groups were handing out snacks. I grabbed some pretzel sticks and ate those. It was like I put cement in my mouth. I carry water with me and I had been getting Gatorade at the water stops, but my mouth was dry. It was awful!
Around mile 16 1/2 we turned onto Lakeshore Dr. It was a beautiful stretch with Lake Pontchartrain to our left, but there was a fierce head wind and no more trees to shade us. The dreaded mile 18 was approaching and I wanted to get past it so bad. My 18 mile training runs were the worst runs for me. My feet were getting sore, my calves were getting tight and my knee started to bother me. I told myself to keep going and I could make it.
I got to mile 18 and hit a wall. I stopped to the side and stretched my calves. As I started back running I realized how far 26.2 miles is. It’s a long FREAKING way! I’ve gotten pretty used to half marathons, but I quickly started to remember why I said I wasn’t going to do another full after the last one.
Lakeshore Dr. was only a 3 mile out and back stretch, but it was the longest 6 miles. I thought I ‘d never get to the turnaround point. My Nike+ was about .15 miles faster than the race mile marker were, so I decide I’d run until my Nike+ told me I had reached a mile and walk until I reached the race marker.
This was a good idea for the first couple of times, but it got harder and harder to start back up again. I finally reached the turnaround and the back half was a lot shorter. Once I got back Marconi Dr., it was just 4
short long miles to go. I continued my run/walk method and was still making good time. I was definitely going to finish in under 5 hours, but 4 /12 was going to be close. As I got closer to the entrance of City Park, I pushed myself harder as I ran. I checked my sugar on last time and it was 84. I was almost finished.
The City Park portion was the final 1.2 miles. We ran back towards the entrance from Esplanade Ave and turned towards the Museum of Modern Art. The finish line was just passed the museum. I could hear the music and the crowd cheering.
I got my 3rd or 4th wind and picked up my pace once I passed the museum. I started passing a few people and didn’t want anyone to pass me. I knew Karebear would be around the finish line and I definitely didn’t want her to see me walking. I also didn’t know if my cousin was still around or a friend of mine who I knew was there as a spectator. I wanted everyone to see me running!
Just before the finish line I saw Karebear! It gave me a big boost and I double stepped it to the finish. I didn’t know I could move that fast with all the pain I was feeling.
Karebear took a couple pics of me making my way to the finish line.
A little “it’s almost over” fist pump
I think I can, I think I can…
I crossed the finish line! Clock time read 4:55 and change. I was thinking I was about 20-25 minutes faster from my later start. That would put me close to my goal of 4:30.
I got my medal, grabbed 2 chocolate milks and went to find Karebear. I was exhausted! I quickly found her and sat down on a some tree roots. My knee was throbbing and my feet hurt. but I had finished.
Karebear told me the runner tracker app said I finished at 4:34:17. I was thrilled! I finished just over an hour faster than my Madrid marathon last year.
I was so exhausted a hungry, I didn’t want to hang around for the festivities. I forgot to take a picture around the finish line, so Karebear took one of me by the car outside of the park.
I’m beat, but happy!
I started getting texts from friends and family congratulating me. I as thought more about my time, I started thinking about things I could have done better or differently. My cousin who I ran the Piney Hills Half with me, text me “Congrats, you did what most people can’t and what most of the rest won’t.”. That made me think about not getting so caught up in the time and what I could have or should have done, but to realize what an accomplishment I had.
The rest of the day went well. I did not take a nap. I did get to eat a Peacemaker poboy and oysters from Acme. I was craving it after the race! My sugars stayed great throughout the rest of the day and went to bed earlier than normal.
Thanks to all my friends and family who supported me during my training and during the race!
I definitely want to run this half course. Hopefully next year.
This is my last full…for a least a little while.