Everyone has a pre-race day routine, and I am no exception.
The night before, I laid out all of my clothes, charged my Garmin and my phone, deviated slightly from my standard pre-race meal fare for the simple fact that I’m in New Orleans…home of all things decadent and delicious. Instead of my standard meal of grilled or baked salmon, brown rice and a vegetable, I had a salad, half of a fully dressed shrimp po’boy and sweet potato fries. It did make me quite happy. After the day of navigating the city, going to the race expo to pick up my bib, which included seeing a few good people from ATL and meeting members of NBMA (it was great to put names with faces) picking up my shirt and goodies, as well as doing some lightweight expo shopping (Bondibands, arm warmers and my favorite race day snacks), I took it back to the house, because I needed to be off of my feet as much as possible.
Back at the house, I laid down, did some reading…chatting with my race partner in crime and then went to bed because I had an early day. I pretty much slept like a rock and safely say I had no strange or weird dreams.
Woke up at 4:30am…much to my chagrin and somewhat expectation…Mother Nature played a cruel prank on me, but there was no use in dwelling…you pack extra supplies and keep going. The zippered pocket in the back of my running capris is a good spot to stash those supplies. Thankfully, I had on dark grey capris, so no worries.
We stayed in Bywater…and took a quick cab ride to the race village, because we had to be there by 6:30am. We arrived by 6:00am, grabbed a bagel, drank a little water and found our other running partner in crime. With all Rock & Roll events, there are tons…and did I mention TONS of pictures to be taken. The official race photographers captured our fresh and shining faces prior to our descent into 13.1 miles of sheer madness.
Around 6:35-6:40, we began making our way to our corral. We were in Corral 25, the LAST corral. Still, no worries because I’m just not all that invested in what corral I start in, because I am not an elite runner…nor am I a fast half-marathoner. I’d rather start out away from all the madness and commotion of all of the mad dashers. So, we kept it all the way live in Corral 25.
The corral progression seemed to take forever, but once the marathoners took off, we were cooking with gas…the corrals ahead of me were taking off like rockets and the numbers were dwindling down. Once they got to Corral 23, the executive decision was made to just group Corrals 24 and 25 together.
…and awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we go!
As usual, the first 3 miles are always a labor of love, we heard music all around us. As much as I like Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer…I don’t have to hear it too often or too soon. If I was a gambling woman, I would have been right about hearing Gary Glitter‘s- Rock & Roll Part 2 (for those that never knew the title…its “The Hey Song” you hear at sporting events). I glanced down at my Garmin as I hit the mat for timing my 5K…my pace was right on target for what I wanted to do.
5K down…16.2K to go….
For the first part of the course, it was a down and back…it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t seeing all of the people on the back part as I was going down and it seemed like the turning point around Mile 4.5 was nowhere in sight. I saw several familiar faces. I saw a couple of Black Girls Running…I saw a couple of my favorite Runningnerds of RunningNerd Nation, I even laid sight on a bedazzled K.I.M.M.I.E doing her first half marathon.
Aaaah…sweet freedom, we made it to the turn-around point. I’m feeling pretty good, enjoying the scenery, the weather, the neighborhoods and my water. I’m approaching Mile 6. Mile 6…I’m feeling great, no complaints, this right here is my “happy place” and my “happy pace” that I always talk about. I have 3 Shot Bloks, wash it down with some water, and keep chugging along.
10K down…11.2K to go…still feeling daisy fresh, despite Mother Nature’s cruel joke, still doing about what I normally do for a 10K.
Halfway there…and I’m going to walk through this water station because the last thing I need is to slip on those plastic cups and end up in traction fooling around out here. I never thought I’d say this…I’m SICK of flat terrain…coming from Atlanta, which essentially is hills, heat and humidity. New Orleans is pancake flat. The pros to running on a flat surface is that its flat and you can coast. However, the cons to that…if you are coasting along at a more conservative speed like myself, you are using the same muscles over and over with no reprieve.
Mile 7.5…reality is starting to sink in that Mother Nature is a prankster and does what she can to thwart my progress…I’m getting a little crampy, but thank goodness your favorite crazy running lady is armed with supplies. I pop 2 500 mg Tylenol tablets, drink some water and wait for the magic to happen.
Mile 8…I chatted with a lady doing intervals from Colorado and asked her how the vast change in terrain was treating her as well as the humidity, because it has to be like sucking in molasses to her, running in New Orleans. We chatted about various races…I told her that I’m considering Rock & Roll Denver either in 2013 or 2014 because my race schedule is tentatively full for 2012 and I have some things I want to accomplish physically (i.e. lose more weight, continue to build core strength and work on the muscles around my knees). The Tylenol kick in…I eat some Cheetos because Shot Bloks, water and Tylenol are not a friendly combination.
Miles 8,1-11 were a blur…I was probably high off Tylenol and singing Juvenile songs in my head. I didn’t realize that I still remembered the words to Ha, for knowing all the words to that song…I deserve my medal.
*screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech* at Mile 11.5 is when the wheels fell off this train.
The drugs wore off, the cramps came back with a vengeance…we’re dealing with some REAL ish right now. However, I’m about 11.5 miles in…ain’t no giving up, no turning back, no stopping at the medical tent…I don’t care if I have to drag my carcass across the remaining 1.6 miles, which were the LONGEST 1.6 miles in the history of man. I was probably moving so slow, I was shuffling backwards. To add insult to injury…the socks that served me well in my previous half marathon was chafing my pinky toe and chafing the ball of my right foot. So, I was unhappy and not interested in anything anyone had to say. I was probably mean enough to slap lightning and cuss out thunder.
Well…because I am a believer of Murphy’s Law…anything that can happen, will happen. I wiggled my fingers every once in while during my body scan to gauge my level of discomfort and see what was bothering me. Lo and behold, my fingers felt tight. When I looked down at my hands and wrist…they were swollen. Great…just great!
What causes swelling in your extremities during a race, crazy running lady?
There are several causes of swelling in your extremities…especially hands during a race and depending on your hydration patterns before and during your race, it could be hyponatremia , it can also be physical where the blood is pooling in your extremities if you have kept your hands at your sides for periods of time. So, I drank more Gatorade and walk/ran with my hands above my head for about 20-30 minutes…which alleviated the discomfort and reduced swelling in my hands. I may have looked strange…but many others were doing it also.
Mile 12…there is a God!!! 1.1 miles left…i’m ready for this foolery to end, we are approaching the Museum.
W-T-F!!! Where’s the f***in finish…where is the fanfare…the crowds have thinned out, not that I was looking for streamers, balloons and trumpets when I finish, because let’s face it. I do this because I can..no accolades, no glory. Where’s my medal, my t-shirt and my drink? Really…I’m NOT KIDDING…where’s the effin’ finish. I’m tired of rounding corners in this Little Billy, corn maze type arrangement.
Someone bring this damn finish line over here to me, right now…right now I say!!
Mile 13…FINALLY…I see the finish line, serenity now! I did 13 miles…the last mile was an eternity.
Coming into the finishers zone…take a pic…blah, blah, blah…cross the finish line…blah, blah, blah…get my medal…get my water and a banana…take more pics.
On a scale of 1-10…this experience was a 7…not great, not horrible…just average. The city was beautiful and I traversed some really cool neighborhoods. The bad was the last mile of the race.
1. I am a firm believer of staying off my feet as much as possible, the day before…but that will be strictly enforced for future races. Staying off my feet as much as I can the day of the race also…chances are, I will be in the last corral…which means I will start about 35-45 minutes after the start time. That is a LOOOONG time to be on your feet, those miles add up on your body.
2. I am going to test out the running toe socks, because my thinnest socks were bothering me…which goes to show, all half marathons aren’t created equal. This is my 3rd half marathon and your body will behave differently for each one.
3. TMI alert…I will be scheduling my races around my menstrual cycle. If there is even the happenstance Aunt Flo is arriving around the day of the race. I will avoid it…I know things happen, life happens and I’m not going to quit a race if it happens…I just don’t think I’ll register for a race if there is the likelihood.
4. This is already a lesson I advocate, especially for my plus-sized runners…and something I believe in, for first time half-marathoners I believe you should train up to and maybe a little past 13.1 miles…no more than 15 miles though. For the simple fact…I was on my feet another 2 miles after I finished my half, to get to the car. I was on my feet for a good hour before the race started…so for all intents and purposes. I probably logged 17-18 miles worth of time on my feet that day.
5. Enjoy yourself…none of you are getting shoe endorsements and Nike, Asics, Mizuno and whomever is not interested in signing your behind to a contract. Do this because you can…do this because you enjoy it…do this for the love. You have nothing to prove to anyone, but yourself. Your worst day is miles better than someone who didn’t even get out there.
My Rock & Roll New Orleans experience will be done in 3 parts…this part is my self-reflection, Part II is Tales from the Backside…which is soon coming. Part III is Roll wit’ me…Knock wit’ me and that will be my New Orleans experience.