Category Archives: How to Run

NOLA Eats, Sights and Sounds

So in the two days leading up to my marathon, John and I got to sightsee areas of New Orleans with his parents. We stayed in the Garden District which we loved and ate the best food that we’ve had in awhile, especially the oysters! I can’t wait to go back to NOLA (hopefully for Jazzfest) so I can eat more (as well as hear great music). My only regrets on this whole trip were not seeing Kermit Ruffins at the Blue Nile club or not getting to hear Rockin’ Dopsie at the post-race concert, missed his set!

Anyway… here are a bunch of pics of our exploits.

Magazine Street, New Orleans

A rad fountain at The Bulldog where we ate some grub.

New Orleans, Mardi Gras

The Louisiana cultural emblem: fleur-de-lis

Instagram, St. Charles Avenue, Garden District

The sight from our hotel's front porch.

flowers, Garden District

Just one example of the beautiful flowers in the Garden District.

beads, Garden District

I can only imagine the fun parades that caused this neat display.

Cavalcade of Curiosities, Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans

At the Expo, I got my gait analyzed by the Brooks Running crew! I'm a neutral.

Claim Your Journey, RunLA

One of my all-time favorite movie stars wearing his Claim Your Journey shirt!

Tweet-Up, Claim Your Journey

At Claim Your Journey's tweet-up, I met up with @esinglet, my t-shirt twin!

Garden District, corn

Back in the Garden District, this house had fascinating ironwork. The owner must have made some corn money back in the day.

Garden District, architecture, house

This house on Coliseum Street was used for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, one of my favorite Brad Pitt movies.

Acme Oyster House, French Quarter, New Orleans

The plumpest oysters I've ever seen were at Acme Oyster House, French Quarter.

Strawberry Harvest Abita

A tasty post-race treat: Abita Strawberry Lager!

Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, live music

Along Frenchmen Street, we ducked into the Spotted Cat Music Club and heard the Washboard Chaz trio. Always take care of the musicians and the bartender!

What a beautiful, magical city.

I do believe I’m starting my run mode again tomorrow with a leisurely 10K in Alexandria for the Red River Run and then my birthday is on Sunday so in honor of my birthday… make sure you spring your clocks one hour forward! I know, it’s a crummy birthday party favor.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? Would you ever?

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My First Marathon: 2012 Rock and Roll New Orleans

I did it. I finished 26.2 miles in 4:40:48. There is a list of people who I want to thank as well as my NOLA trip overall, but I will save that for subsequent posts. I do want to talk about the day and how the whole thang went down!!

Finish line, medals

I finished and so did hubby! Sorry my eyes are closed!

I woke up pretty early and made a peanut butter sandwich for John and me in keeping with my long run routines. We grabbed coffee at the hotel’s breakfast bar and walked a 2 mile warm up on St. Charles Avenue to Start Village. I didn’t really drink my coffee, I just used it to keep my hands warm. I could tell the weather would be absolutely perfect because there was barely any wind and the morning sky was free of clouds.

We talked about how crazy this was about to be and John says, “Embrace the fact that this is going to suck.” I laughed him off, but his words would come back to me later that morning. Once at Start Village, all of the pent-up energy of 22,000 people was in the air and if I weren’t running that morning, I would’ve just sat around and people watched. People stretching on one side, tutus grouped on another, boxes full of bagels for the last minute carbo load, and all the people in line for the portapotties. I kept looking at everyone’s hydration choice: handhelds, fuelbelts, camelbaks. I chose to rely on the water stations for this race because it seemed alright to do so (no RnR Vegas scenarios here), but one of my future purchases will be something fancier than my Dasani bottle.

Getting into the corrals was pretty easy. As far as I could tell, there was no one enforcing the corral which didn’t bother me, but I can see how it would bother someone else. We were in corral 14 and once the race was underway, we found ourselves darting through slower runners and walkers. I expected this from running in larger races, but I still feel that they should move right. Well, I probably should get faster and move up corrals, instead.

Rock 'n Roll New Orleans

Get ready!

Anyway, I forgot my Garmin back home, so I relied on my watch and wouldn’t you know, once we stepped off the finish line, I forget to start it. Luckily, John reminds me about a minute in and I decide that I will run according to how I feel and not so much on my watch. My strategy was to be super conservative for the first 20 miles and then run the last 6.2 according to how I felt.

Miles 1 – 7: I am just so happy to be here. With my armwarmers, the morning feels just right and I look forward to seeing my in-laws when the course passes in front of their hotel. I stop to use the portapotty once or twice, drank way too much water this morning. I stop at one water station to take off moleskin that is causing a big toe blister. The bands sound great (especially Tulane’s brass band) and those crazy spectators with their hilarious signs make me smile. My favorite: WORST PARADE EVER. TAKE A CAB. GET THERE FASTER.

Race, Running

That's me in the yellow saying hi to my in-laws!

Miles 8 – 10: Begin GU-ing. Running along Magazine Street, I get offered my first free beer – sorry, have to pass this time. Strains of bag pipe music are in the air as we approach the World War II museum and this initiates Emotional Moment #1. I’m so happy to be alive and running, I think to myself. We pass underneath a massive Rock and Roller inflatable on Decatur Street, towards Jackson Square and through the French Market. The support crews are lively, dressed up in costumes and I’m drinking water and Gatorade at each station. There’s a runner who is wearing a bunch of placards dedicating the miles to someone and he changes the placard to someone new as I pass by.

Brooks Running, inflatable

I smiled when I saw this sight.

Miles 10 – 13: We begin running up Esplanade, past Checkpoint Charlie (it’s a bar and a laundromatt!)  and into an area of New Orleans that I’ve never been before. I strive to take in the sight of the houses, but the narrow lane and other runners around me make it difficult. John reminds me that our race begins at mile 20 as a lot of the half-marathoners begin to turn it up. There was a lot of online discussion about Esplanade being riddled with potholes, but it wasn’t. The spectators and support crews on this stretch were really supportive, but then I heard one of them say, “You still have a long way to go, marathoners!” At the edge of City Park, us full runners took a hard left and continued on while the halfers were thatmuch closer to their finishing glory. I give John a high-five.

Miles 13 – 16: As the road empties of those running the half, I begin to feel a little antsy. I soo want the rest of this to go well. We run along the outskirts of City Park and at one water stop, I accidentally hit one of the teenagers with my emptied water cup. At this point in the race, I see that I’m running 10:30 miles so I focus on increasing my pace to 10:20, 10:15. I start to gain on people, but I try not to be too annoying about it, making sure I say hi and giving them a thumbs up as I shuffle by. The faster runners from the earlier corrals begin passing us by as they head to the finish line. First the guys, then the women, but I try not to watch them too much lest I get demoralized by their swiftness and muscular bodies. John stops to use the portapotty and he tells me that he’s not going to catch up with me anymore and we agree to see each other at the end. Again, the bands and support crews are wonderful on this stretch. One support crew offers me a mini martini, but I politely decline and grab a handful of pretzels instead. I begin to walk the water stations now, making sure I hydrate enough and replenish my salt for what’s to come.

Miles 16 – 20: I have been listening to the bands and the sounds of the course so far, but something about running along Lake Pontchartrain made me put in my earbuds and turn on my power playlist. Among the songs, one comes on that causes Emotional Moment #2: David Guetta and Sia, “Titanium” Sample lyric: “You shoot me down, but I won’t fall. I am titanium.” Titanium sustained me through a bunch of long runs and the instant memory of those training runs flashing to now, this moment, made my breathing a little heavier and labored. Can’t cry here, I’m not done yet! More walking of the water stations and eating pretzels and GU.

Mile 21: What.Is.That.Sensation.In.My.Quads? I’m pretty sure my body just said, “Why are we still moving?” I get cramps in both of my quads like I’ve never felt before. It’s as if they were about to seize and I would fall on my face. So I stop to walk and rub them out, trying not to panic, taking deep breaths and just taking it easy until I feel like I can run. Is this what John was talking about? The moment where it all begins to suck? What is this PAIN? Do I keep walking? Do I walk faster? When the cramps started to subside, I began a slow shuffle until I was back to pace.

Mile 22 – 24: Begin run-cramp-walk-rub-it-out cycle. This would’ve been a rough moment, but I knew that there was a difference between Pain-I-Can’t-Really-Move and Pain-This-Will-Suck-But-I’ll-Keep-Moving. It’s different for everyone and I think this is the adrenaline fueled moment that endurance athletes live for. I, looking back, am scared of it now! As we pass the same support stations from Miles 15-16, I absolutely accept a mini-martini and eat the olive. I also high-five a wonderful woman with the most fabulous nails.

Mile 25: We’re now back at the City Park perimeter and I can taste the finish line. I feel like the only way to get rid of these quad cramps is to run them out so I really pick up my pace to where my breathing is double time (in-in-out, in-in-out) and decide to just go for it. If I have to throw up at the end, I will, I just want to get there so I can stop. I pick up the pace and run past a ska band, The Local Skank, where I give them the last of the applause that I’ve been giving to all the bands and dig in. I can’t believe I’m almost at the end after those awful cramps. I run around the Museum of Art and approach the chute where spectators have lined up. Casting Crowns’ “Courageous” comes on my iPod and so begins Emotional Moment #3.

Mile 26 – 26.2: Inspired by the man wearing placards, I told myself that I would run Mile 24 for my Grandma who passed away, Mile 25 for my Auntie Beth who also passed, and then the last .2 for my two cousins, her daughters. This dedication coupled with the meaning of “Courageous” and the imminence of the finish line made for the peak of Emotional Moment #3. My ugly cry face comes on as I hurry to the finish line and once crossed, I scream/cry out of delight/amazement/thankfulness. Yes, please give me that medal, take my picture, I did it with the grace of God!

Marathon, finish line

Coming in for the finish!

I was told that there was nothing like finishing your first marathon and that your main goal should be to finish with the desire to run another and for me, those two are true. The feelings I had that day made me feel so high on life and so appreciative to people who inspired me and family and friends who motivated me. While I didn’t go to church that Sunday, I definitely prayed for God to guide me through the race and let whatever will happen to be His will. I had Philippians 4:13 temporarily tattooed on my left hand so that I would be reminded of His strength as I made use of what He gave me. The whole thing was amazing and exhilarating.

On another level, I was really satisfied with my time: 4:40:48. I wish it were closer to my 4:30 goal, but I know that I ran the best I could with what I had. Maybe next time, I’ll learn how to gauge my hydration so that I’m not in line for the portapotty or I’ll add speedwork to my training and shave some time off. My marathon was no Boston qualifier, but it sure was a Bucket List qualifier.

City Park, New Orleans, Rock 'n Roll marathon

A little bit of the post-race party. Flow Tribe (not pictured) was a great band with smooth dancing!

PS: I got sick right after the race, it was expected. I wish I would’ve wrote this sooner, but my body had other plans. I guess part of my recovery is clearing out the phlegm. 🙂

Public art, compression socks

After the race, on our slow walk home, I stopped to admire the public art.

Thanks for reading this far. More to come on the rest of my exciting race weekend.

I hope you all enjoy your run, no matter the distance! 🙂

Early Morning RnR NOLA Race Thoughts

The puppy was whimpering, signalling that I didn’t need to lie awake anymore and that I should take her out to potty. I quickly dressed in my race gear and walked her out of the hotel lobby where the club kids were stumbling home bleary eyed. Puppy did her business, both of them, and soon I’ll drop her off with the grandparents to watch her while we run. Am really happy that they visited us for this big event.

Big event! It’s huge. A very significant event that I’ve had in mind for months now. But at the same time, I gotta think no expectations, just let the race happen naturally. I trained for 4:30 in ideal circumstances. I will enjoy the race, the people, the sights and sounds.  I will power up the iPod around mile 12 when the half-marys take off and finish strong. I will be thankful that I can do this and I will smile as much as I can. I will pray, I will motivate myself, I will think nothing at all except for leftrightleftrightleftright123123123. I can see the finish line, I can see the happiness at the end, but I gotta stay in the moment. One mile at a time, one thing at a time, one breath at a time. Shuffle shuffle shuffle. I barely got any sleep last night. I knew that was gonna happen. Great, I have bags under my eyes. Wear sunglasses. It’s not that cold outside, barely any wind. Don’t get too confident, stay humble. Be grateful, be happy, be a runner. Be alive, be mobile, yes, yes, Yes!