I finished my second full marathon this weekend in New Orleans at the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans. These are just a few highlights from the trip and the race. Thanks to everyone who supported me in training, life and virtually on Facebook and other social networks!
After a yummy (and pricey) dinner at Borgne Restaurant, inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, we settled into our room to relax. The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful. We watched some television and remembered how much we do NOT miss the commercials and I got all of my things together for the morning. We had a room with two queen beds and had planned to make a palet on the floor for Gavin and let the girls sleep in the bed. Unfortunately the extra blanket that was in the cabinet of our room turned out to just be an extra pillow. The hotel was extremely busy so a call to housekeeping revealed that we would not be getting extra blankets anytime soon. So, three kids in a bed with Avery in the middle. They complained a bit but fell to sleep pretty fast, considering their discomfort.
Aubrey and I talked for a bit and finished up plans for the morning, but since we were in the same room as the kids who were trying to sleep we decided to retire as well. I can never really sleep that well the night before a race. I usually wake up several times in a panic thinking that I’ve overslept. This night was no exception, plus I had to go to the bathroom several times. Sometime around 1:00 AM in the morning some kid in a room nearby proceeded to scream as if someone was peeling his (or her) toenails off, one at a time. This continued on for what seemed like an hour, but it was probably less. At any rate, sleep was not plentiful or good.
5:15 AM comes way to fast when you wake up multiple times through the night and are restless. I got up and got dressed and then gathered all of my running gear. Of course I should have slept a bit longer because I had way too much time before I needed to leave. So I rolled out my legs with the new Stick that I’d just bought at the expo the day before, took the supplements that I needed before the race and tried to do some light stretching. Aubrey got up and sat with me for a while and then after a potty break I said my goodbyes and headed down to the starting line.
Too Many Corrals
The hotel we stayed at was fairly close to the start of the race, so it was quite easy to just walk down. There was a flood of runners going in the direction of the starting line, so I didn’t even have to figure out where I was going… just follow the crowd. It was fairly chilly that morning, but not freezing. I got to the start and made use of the porta-potties (one more time for good measure), which involved waiting in really long lines. Then I was off to find my starting corral. I was in corral 18 and I saw signs indicating there were about 25 corrals. I walked and walked and turned a corner and walked some more and turned another corner and walked some more… sheesh, I’m going to be walking a 5k before I even begin! I guess that’s one of the costs of a marathon with with over 22,000 runners.
The actual start of the race was at 7:00 AM and then they moved the corrals up closer and closer to the start at one minutes intervals until it was our time to go. For future reference I really need to remember this because later in the race I had to perform calculations in my head to try and figure out from the race clocks what my actual time was (approximately). That was a tad irritating.
The First Half
The first half of the marathon went really well for me. I felt great and fell into a nice pace along with the crowd, which was quite large. This was the largest race I’ve ever participated in and it continually impressed me that the crowd didn’t thin out at all along the first 13.1 miles. The course took us through some really nice neighborhoods with large, elegant houses. The support along the way was tremendous with lots of people cheering us on, plenty of water stations and live bands playing music along the way. Among the runners were quite a few “colorful” characters, some dressed in crazy outfits, some dressed as the opposite gender, many with funny hats or tutus and people of all shapes and sizes. It was enough to keep you distracted from the run and the first half went along pretty fast.
I was expecting to see Aubrey and the kids somewhere aroung the 9 mile mark and the halfway mark, but neither of us had anticipated the staggered starting times so she ended up leaving before I got to her, thinking that I’d already run past. That was a little disappointing, but I could hardly blame her for missing me. I just went along and accepted the fact that I probably wouldn’t see her until the end.
Approaching the halfway marks there was plenty of excitement as the signs pointed out the fact that we were nearing the end… of the half marathon. I took the merge for the full marathon and found that the crowd went from quite large, to only a few. There were about 10 people that I could count in my vicinity following the path. It was also funny that the sound died down almost instantly, from a lot of runners chattering and people cheering from the sides of the street to… nothing. I could actually hear my breathing.
The path from here was really nice as we ran parallel to the park which was the end of the course. As we wound down further the cheering groups reemerged, though there were definitely less of them.
I finally ran into Aubrey and the kids as I hit the portion of the race along Lake Pontchartrain. I took a break as they walked along with me and choked down some Perpetuem and Endurolytes. At this point my legs really started hurting and cramping. I took it easy until we got back to where they parked the van and then I continued on, or at least attempted to do so. My legs were screaming at this point and my hamstrings were cramping. After several yards I had to stop and sit on the side of the road for a bit and I was quite concerned that I would not be able to finish. After a few minutes of stretching and resting I got up and made myself continue. It hurt quite a lot, but after a few minutes the pain became less until finally they stopped cramping. Thank you, God! From this point on there was a lot more prayer and toil involved.
The run along the lake was nice, except for the completely open exposure to the sun and wind, of which there was much.
Crawling to the End
At around 4 miles out from the finish I really struggled to keep going. I felt like I was crawling, walking for a bit and then running a short while. At one point I started feeling dizziness and more cramping, signs that I recognized from my first marathon as dehydration and possible heat stroke. So I took some time to walk and take in a lot more fluids and Endurolytes. That actually helped and got rid of the dizziness. I can’t tell if the cramping went away or not, because at this point my entire body just hurt. My feet were crying for mercy, my legs were screaming to stop, my shoulders were knotted up… I was plain ole tired.
I finally got to the final stretch, which made it’s way up to the front of a museum and then around to the back. As I turned around to the back side of the museum I saw the finish and made the final push to the end. I was hurting bad, but I knew it wasn’t serious so I was quite pleased and had a smile on my face as I made it over the finish line. The cheering was still plentiful, even though I was coming in at the back of the bus, and Aubrey and the kids were screaming and standing out from the crowd. Ah… I can stop running.
Where’s My Towel?
Aubrey and I talked about this afterwards, and I thought it was funny that one of the first things that I say to her after a big race is, “where’s my towel?” In my first marathon this was followed by a collapse, attention from medical personnel, an IV to the arm and a trip to the E.R. This time, however, I just needed to wipe the sweat out of my eyes. My goal for this marathon was to finish and not be incapacitated to the point of needing medical attention. Goal accomplished! My official time turned out to be 5 hours 54 minutes and 59 seconds. That is 4 minutes quicker than my first marathon, so I suppose it’s a new personnel best. I’m still a bit dissappointed and would really like to have a better time, but I’m glad that I did finish. I suppose I’ll just have to keep training. 🙂