Saturday, March 5, 2011
Where'd You Get Those Beads??
I can't believe it's been two weeks since the Mardi Gras Half. Time flies.
A year ago I was worried about trying to run 3.1 miles without walking. Mercifully that race was shortened down to 1.6 miles or I never would have made it...and even then it took me 19 minutes and 41 seconds to get it done (an average pace of 11:51). In New Orleans I ran 13.1 miles in 2:19:14 (average pace of 10:38). I'm not writing that to brag, I'm writing that to remember!! Wow. I really did that.
I went into the race believing I would either not be able to finish, or end up walking. I had made peace with anything that might happen, knowing I had not run enough miles to feel properly prepared. At the same time, I wanted to run the whole thing. Even though there were a lot of my friends at the same race, I intentionally didn't meet up with anyone at the start. I wanted to simply run my own race and see what would happen.
We walked to the start from the apartment we rented. Although it was only a couple of miles away, it took us a LONG time to get over there. It was such a beautiful morning we stopped several times to take pictures. I knew it was chip timed, so I decided before hand to just NOT stress about anything-even if I was the last person to cross the start line, that's when my time would begin. I was glad for that when I saw the lines for the port-o-potties!! Holy blue water, Batman--the day before at the expo I made a remark about there being plenty of them...boy was I wrong!! Long story short, I didn't cross the start line until about 30 minutes after the horn blew! But, I sure didn't have to stop along the way! (Very good decision to continue to wait in that line!)
When I registered I guessed at my finish time (2:20---how close was that, huh?) so I was assigned the 14th coral, however, I really started with 19/20. I can't say how much I appreciate a staggered start. Even though I started pretty far back in the pack, with walkers and a lot of "intervalers" I really didn't have a hard time dodging people at all. I did pass A LOT of people along the way, and played leap-run/walker with a lot of people, but there was only one time in the whole 13.1 miles that I had an issue with being stopped by someone in front of me--and that was at a water table. I think, overall, it was a very well-run event.
I had signed up for runner tracking-something RnR does where they text people (who you put on a list beforehand) with your splits at 5k, 10k, 10 mile and then the finish. I also wore my phone and had set up my "Map My Fitness" app to tweet my mile splits. As I was running I had the sense that all "my people" would be "watching" me so the few times I wanted to slow down I kept on going so I wouldn't let anyone down. The truth is, no one who was "watching" cared even a fraction of what I cared. I don't mean that in a bad way, I just mean I would have been the only one "let down" if I had slowed. However, the feeling of having a personal audience was very motivating!!
One of these days I want to wear a video camera on my head so I can capture the entirety of a race. I just don't have the mental capacity to remember all that I would like to after I'm done running. There were costumes, and signs, and people I saw along the route that added so much to the already amazing experience of running 13.1 miles in New Orleans....but I just can't independently recall them all. There were several people with signs who somehow made it to several points along the route. The course was NOT spectator friendly...my guess is that was somewhat intentional so they could manage traffic a bit. But, because of that I didn't expect to see my family at all until the finish. So, seeing the same couple of groups of people several times on the course brightened my run immensely (probably more than seeing a bunch of strangers should). The reason I think it helped was because of my inclination to cheer the spectators as much as (sometimes more than) they cheer the random runners!
One group had a sign that said something like "Run Kay-Kay! ALMOST THERE!!". The funniest thing about that sign? The first time I saw it was about mile THREE!! I yelled out, "I sure wish I was Kay-Kay!!" I said pretty much the same things when I saw them at miles 7 and 10!! But when I saw them at mile 13, I just about cried and yelled out as loud as I could "YES!!! I AM ALMOST THERE!!". Another group had a sign cheering on three different people (Go Julie, Go Sally, Go Barbie....) and they had added "Go FRIEND"! I cheered my heart out saying "HEY THERE FRIEND!! IT'S ME--I'M 'FRIEND'!!!" They loved it and cheered their hearts out for me. Seeing them three more times really was like seeing my good buddies out there cheering for me!!
But, those weren't the best two signs I saw. One of my favorites was held by someone having what looked like a big party in her front yard. Let me back up just a minute....the roads we were running on were completely closed. They had posted signs stating they were going to be closed, and there would be NO street parking the day of the race. If you've ever been to NOLA you know that parking is a premium....and EVERYONE parks on the street. The partyer's sign...."I got my car towed for YOU!!" There were about 5-7 people out there drinking (at 8ish a.m.) and cheering for all of us as we ran by. I couldn't help it, I had to tell her thank you!!!! She wasn't mad, she was happy and yelled back "you're welcome!!!". It was awesome.
But I think my favorite was a sign held by a little boy that same something like "GO complete stranger GO!!" I cheered for him and said "Thank you for being out here cheering for ME!!!"
There were spectators the ENTIRE route. I loved every minute. But...the best moment came when I unexpectedly saw MY family!!! Because they had been getting my tweets, they knew exactly where I was and were able to catch me at about mile eight (maybe?). I almost broke down crying I was so happy to see them out there!! I didn't see them again until the finish line...but by that point I was running on fumes and couldn't even muster enough enthusiasm to smile. (In fact I was praying I would throw up because I saw my husband holding the camera up taking video and I didn't want THAT captured on film!)
I took some Gu with me, and more or less forced myself to take one about every 40 minutes. I like them, but at the same time I always get worried about ...intestinal distress... Let me just tell you...if there was any doubt in my mind if Gu makes a difference, this race wiped it out completely. I could feel myself wearing down but a few minutes after taking the Gu (5 or so), I had a noticeably renewed pep in my step! I also made sure to take in fluid. I stopped only one time at a water table...the other times I ran by someone holding out a cup and filled my Amphipod. The one time I stopped was because there wasn't a person holding a cup, so I had to go to the table, and I ended up getting a little boxed in. I added 1/2 a Nuun tablet to very other bottle of water.
Mile eight was hard. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I kept mentally counting...8-9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 13.1. Over and over and over until I heard music. At first I thought it was coming from the French Market, but I kept hearing it long after we had passed that area. Even though it was getting louder I knew it wasn't one of the bands who dotted the race course, because it was radio type music, not live type music. Then I saw where it was coming from....Team Hoyt. (At least I'm pretty sure that's who it was-not like I interviewed them as I was running, but people around me were talking, saying that's who it was. But, that race is not on their calendar, and neither of their names appear on the results page...so I can't be completely sure. But if it wasn't them, they have twins.) For anyone who hasn't seen any of the videos, grab the tissue and watch their story below (don't forget to pause the music player before you press play on the video). I'll finish my race recap in the next post because there's no way I can follow this!! (The first five minutes is their story from the Today Show...the second five is a video. It's worth 10 minutes of your time-you're life will be touched.)