Race: Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans (formerly Mardis Gras Marathon)
Date: February 28, 2016
Charity: St. Jude Children's Hospital
Amount Raised: $579
"I run to eat." That's Blaine's philosophy, he revealed, as our waitress at Katie's Restaurant dropped a plate of chargrilled oysters, a stuffed seafood beignet and some cheesy garlic bread on us like a caloric nuclear bomb. My friend from U of I whom I hadn't seen in over 20 years and his lovely wife Liz took me and Mae here after grabbing our race packets, exchanging my St. Jude singlet (they sent everyone Mediums, which would have been ok 2 years ago) and picking up some sunglasses and Margarita Clif Bloks at the Expo downtown.
I imagine running to eat is more of a necessity than a philosophy around here, as a plate of cajun spiced chicken alfredo methodically disappeared before me. But man, this beignet stuffed with shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat, jalapenos, onions and cheese was one of the best things I have ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of things. We talked running most of the meal, like upcoming races (Disney 2017!) and how to pronounce athlinks.com. Blaine and Liz both share a passion for running, and Liz - like Mae and I - are all about that race bling. But if they're not sharing on Facebook their latest race conquest, it's a mouth-watering post about the food they've got there. It's the latter that drew me down here more than anything, and this early dinner has already made the trip worth it.
|A random wedding parade|
A faint drum and bass and a regularly occurring siren in the distance got me up some time after midnight and after drifting in and out for the next few hours we were up and about by about 5 in the morning. We headed down at around 6 when they were already serving breakfast downstairs and felt a nervous energy in the air. Mae and I split a customary bagel and I forgot to get my coffee.
|St. Jude Heroes raised $168,000|
|Ragnar in the House|
I had a predicted finish of 9:59:59 and was assigned coral 26, the very last corral in the back of the pack. I guess I forgot to fill out that part of the registration. Since I didn't think I was that slow I decided to track down Blaine and Liz and hang out with them before the start and found them in Coral 15.
The Half/Full start was at 7:30, and with 2 minutes in between each coral release we didn't get rolling until 8:09. I felt bad for Mae since she was almost done with her race, and I hadn't even started yet! On top of that, all this waiting around gave me the urge to go to the bathroom but there weren't any in sight. So I was torn between finishing as fast as I can and holding back to delay the wall I knew I would hit by mile 15 or so. This is the earliest race I've ever done in the calendar year. I thought I would get my act together after the holidays and train for this, but it never happened. So I held back and took it easy under crystal clear skies, running 11 minute miles for the first 10 miles or so.
|St. Charles Cable Car Line|
I saw my hotel around Mile 8 after passing the WWII Museum and pulled out my phone to text Mae to see if she found her way back there. Because the finish line at City Park for all the races was several miles from the start line, they had shuttle buses bringing back people to the start line. I wasn't sure what her plans were but she texted me back that she was just going to hang out at the park near the finish line. Man, I hope she doesn't get too bored because I was going s-l-o-w.
|Approaching the French Quarter|
By mile 15 as I predicted, I felt the bonk hit even though I took it easy - I texted Mae to let her know I was running 13 minute miles at this point. My right ankle was beginning to bother me like it did during training and my right pinky toe was screaming at me. So for the next 10 miles I decided to break down the rest of the race in quarter mile portions. Every quarter mile I hit I would try to run until 0.2 miles have passed, then walk for 0.05 mile and then repeat. I saw a number of people cutting the course which made me sad. Every two miles I would text Mae my mile marker hoping to get words of encouragement back from her. I also tried to find my latest Trap mix I had put together on the iPod shuffle but being set on random it just wouldn't come up.
|Some nice houses near Lake Pontchartrain at mile 19|
|Louisiana in the books!|
|Post race protein fix|
The only bad part of the trip was that our 6pm flight home on Spirit got cancelled just two hours before departure. Since it was the only Spirit flight each day from MSY to ORD we could either be put on the same flight tomorrow or get a refund and purchase a one-way flight back on a different airline. We decided to bite the bullet and flew home on Southwest to MDW, but the leg from MSY to ORD was $20 / person so I was refunded only $70. But it was worth it to get home to the kids that night.
|What kind of car does a Hero rent? A Nissan Versa of course.|