- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Relay
- Road Race
- Event Website
When race weekend arrived, we all met in New Orleans on Friday night, checked into our Airbnb, and made some plans for Saturday. Trying to fit in as much sightseeing as we could before the race. We had breakfast at Slim Goodies (an absolute must if you’re in the area), stopped for a drink at Cooter Brown’s (another crowd favorite), made a quick stop at the race expo, then headed to NOLA Brewing Company to enjoy the afternoon. Abita used to be our brewery of choice, but after discovering NOLA last year, it’s hard to justify the trip across Lake Ponchartrain for Abita. There’s still a place in my heart for Abita, but after their expansion, the tasting room just doesn’t have the same laid back relaxed atmosphere that I enjoy about most craft breweries. NOLA Brewing on the other hand has plenty of brews on tap, 2 floor tasting room, outdoor space, plenty of games, and AMAZING BBQ with 10 or so different choices of sauce!
After starting RnRBrooklyn off with a comedy album this fall, it’s become my new favorite go-to audio to start a race. It keeps things light, and reminds me to ease into the race rather than starting too strong. For this race I had TJ Miller’s (ALBUM NAME) which turned out to be a great choice! As I mentioned, this is my favorite race, so the first few miles were full of excitement as I took in the familiar sites of downtown New Orleans. I started to feel a slight burning in my shins early on but it subsided pretty quickly once I’d found my stride. It felt good to run, and I was feeling great as I made the turn down St. Charles for the race’s main “out and back.” It was around mile three that I had the sobering acknowledgement that I really hadn’t prepared for this race, but at least for now, I wasn’t worried about that.
Although I knew my legs would probably be throbbing before the end of the race, miles 4-7 were phenomenal. There are always plenty of spectators along St. Charles offering hilarious signs, words of encouragement, and the occasional tray of beignets or Jell-O shots. Another thing I love about this section of the race is that you can run along the streetcar tracks. Having started my running career on cross country trails in high school, I always love races that get me off the asphalt and onto the dirt. I was feeling great as I turned off of St. Charles and passed a sign that said “You’re running this race better than Trump is running America.” I was about halfway to mile eight when I started to feel the tightness creep through my legs, especially through my hamstrings and calves.
When the pain started setting in there was a noticeable change mentally for me. I’d known this moment would come so I’d made my mind up that once I’d gotten off St. Charles, I’d walk 10-20 seconds after crossing each mile marker to give my legs a bit of a rest. This combined with the remaining aid stations, I figured I’d make it through alright. Crossing mile eight, I was still confident, only 5 miles to go, I’d done that plenty of times. Closing in on mile ten however, I wasn’t so sure. I kept recalculating my pace in my head and trying to play out different outcomes in my head. Having to make a quick bathroom break, I was back on the road, and starting to worry about coming in under two hours. I was keeping an eye on my overall pace but wasn’t sure how much my walk-breaks were impacting that. Running passed Cafe Du Monde didn’t help as the aroma of fried dough consumed me. Nevertheless, I kept going, but had accepted that I might come in just over two hours.
The last 2.1 miles were the toughest. I was taking a walk break at the start of every mile, through each aid station, and maybe one or two more times when my legs were really screaming. I wasn’t only walking, but also trying a few dynamic stretches on my calves and hamstrings to try to relieve some of the building tension. It was at this moment however, I made the commitment to come in under 2 hours. Even with the walking breaks, I was confident that if I focussed on pushing through the pain as long as I could, I would make it. Running the last stretch of road that leads into City Park, I heard a familiar tune come through my headphones. No Cigar by Millencolin could not have come on at a better time. You can checkout the lyrics, but the song I first remember hearing while playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater is all about setting your own standards and breaking the mold. I could see the finish line and saw the clock at 1:59 as I crossed. I’d made it in at 1:59:05, the race was over. I’d cut it pretty close, but not quite as close as my 1:59:24 time from RnRPhilly.
Looking forward, the race was a humbling experience. I’ve always been a natural runner, and in high school I was able to run a decent 5k with much training. It’s been hard to shake that mindset but especially after my last few races, I know my body can’t keep taking that abuse, especially if I want to keep improving. I bought the Rock ‘n’ Roll tour pass for 2017 so I have at least 2 more races to run this year. Looking forward at the near future, I want to take some time off of distance running and focus more time and energy on strength and flexibility. This is an area I’ve always struggled with during training so I figured I’d use my “off-season” to develop a routine. Hopefully by the time it starts warming up I’ll be able to settle into a more dynamic training program, and who knows, maybe next March I’ll be ready to crush my PR.