Race Recap: Rock n’ Roll NOLA Half Marathon

Louisiana √  (12 STATES COMPLETE)

First off, what an amazing city – there is so much to do in and around New Orleans. Add that to leaving behind the chilly New England weather, plus being with some of my best friends made it 100 times better. I highly reccomend making a trip there!

Shannon and I definitely did some research (Shannon more so than me) before we went and made a list of “must do” and “must eat” items and the boys added a few here and there which gave our trip great direction. (More on the trip overall in another post)

PRE-RACE

Pre-Race communications – With a race series this large the pre-race communications should be on point, and they were. Sometimes more communication than necessary, but I love the week before runner tracking e-mails so I can forward it on to family members who want to follow.

The new online platform they used for the race information packet was very user friendly with a ton of information. I love the abundance of spectator information so I don’t feel bad leaving Chris for a couple hours.

The hotel we stayed at had water, bananas, light snacks and a positive send-off for all of the runners staying there – I thought that was a nice touch and I was grateful for it since breakfast/the shop wasn’t open yet.

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THE EXPO

This was a pretty accessible location, we took the NOLA street car system and walked tot the event center.

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We got there before the expo opened on Saturday morning so we did have to wait in line for a few, but as soon as the doors opened it moved fairly quickly … until I got to my race number pick up section. The woman working our line was more concerned with the guy next to her and confused about what was going on – it took far too long to go through the five person line – I digress.

As we moved through we stopped into Brooks’ Run Happy Island – I loved the idea of this! The line for the gait analysis was huge so we moved around to other activities within the ‘Island’ – They were giving out free items, which I mean, come on now FREE!? who doesn’t love a free tee

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Y’all know I loved this Run Happy Tee!

I’m not sure what was up with me, but I didn’t take my usual picture of my freebie/purchase haul, nor did I take many other pictures.  I did buy another Sweaty Band headband (seriously .. you need to try one, I swear by them) obviously it had to match and be a New Orleans styled one.  After realizing earlier that I had forgotten my Gu, I also picked up some Gu chews.

I must say there seemed to be less activities at this expo than the Virginia Beach one, there were a couple sponsor booths offering activities, but not as many samples or activities.

Expo Shan

THE SWAG

Rock n Roll gave out these sweet Brooks tech-tees that I personally love. From my last Rock n’ Roll race I knew to get a size up.  These are definitely high quality and I think the logo is pretty awesome.

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Brooks also gave out more SWAG at their Run Happy Island section. Naturally I was all about this initiative because, I mean, come on Run HAPPY .. thats my jam.

STARTING LINE

Completely out of character for me, but Shannon was amazing enough to take the reins on a lot of planning for this trip and she did an amazing job with the hotel selection – it was the perfect warm-up walking distance to the start (little less than half a mile)

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You expect a certain atmosphere when it comes to Rock n’ Roll races and for the most part this event delivered, especially with the fun and excitement at the starting line surrounded by gorgeous buildings and perfect weather.

Oyyyye the corrals thooo! This was my absolute least favorite part of the event.  The corrals were a sh*t show, a serious sh*t show – Shannon was in a single digit corral which seemed to have some sort of order.  The corrals lined the main street and down a side street.  When you turned the corner to the double digit corrals it was a mess.  I was back in corral 22 (marathon runners and half marathoners started together). There were more people in the wrong corral than there were people in the correct corrals.

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I didn’t start until an hour after the actual race start time, I wasn’t prepared for this and was getting hungry and real bored to be honest.  I texted Chris to have a VO2 prime bar along with my O2 Gold ready for me at mile 2 where he and Steve were waiting and Shannon had already run by 2o minuets prior.

That V02 bar definitely was a key to my race and I am glad I packed extras!

THE RACE/COURSE

The crowd/spectators were pretty limited for the amount of runners they had and for the size of the city in general.

When I (eventually) started off at Lafayette park/square it was surrounded by spectators and booming music. The first mile was a little boring course wise, but there were plenty of surrounding runners and people to watch.

1.5 miles in I had to stop and re-tie my shoe, my foot was already going numb … talk about annoying after having to stand around for an hour waiting to start.

ANYWHOOOOO I continued on running on through and taking in the amazing views and houses. At this point I was mostly focused on trying to find Chris outside of the blue indigo hotel to get my  V02 bar and O2Gold.  After eating/taking those I felt much better.

As we ran St. Charles Ave you can tell Mardi Gras had just come through the city there were beads hanging on the fences and trees outside of peoples houses.

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After the 5k mark I followed suit of a few runners and began running on the public transportation/street car track that was in the grass and on packed down dirt – this may have helped me in the long run with the minimal sourness and quick recovery.

After passing part of the Loyola University campus the course just looped back around running back the same route (on the other side of the road).  The course strolled through some main neighborhoods of the city taking a scenic out and back loop. On this side of the road I was paying more attention to my feet, so I didn’t mind the duplicate scenery – the roads are in pretty questionable condition at some points.

I was expecting there to be more bands, but the ones that were there were lively and playing some excellent covers and of course Jazz.

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Forgetting to pack my hand held water bottle I was painfully aware of the minimal water stops along the course – I made sure to get a drink at every single one.  I have read a few reviews of Rock n’ Roll races where the water stops were a mess, unorganized, or ran out of water.  At least at two stops there were minimal volunteers/employees at the stations leaving TONS of empty or minimally filled cups.

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Pandora – Thomes Reht radio for the win starting around mile 5 or 6 – as you know by now, I don’t always run with music.  With this race there were some excellent bands and entertainment, but I needed something consistent to keep my mind on.  I kept one earbud out to be aware of what was going on around me.

As I was running I couldn’t fathom the wrath of Hurricane Katrina – it is hard to believe that the city had once been under water. I can’t even imagine having gone through that and the rebuilding it must have taken to get things back to where they are, and many areas still aren’t back.  I remember when it happened and seeing it all on TV it felt like New Orleans was a whole different country.

Finally, I think before or at mile 8, the course had an excellent change of scenery and turned on Magazine Street passing by the World War 2 Museum that we had visited the day before.

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Followed by the French Quarter, in which we visited a few times throughout our stay in NOLA. There were lots of tourists and others along this part of the course and tons of adorable shops and stores to look at.

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Some tourists randomly started walking in the middle of all of the runners ..

Sooooo I may have broken a ‘golden rule of running’ – I tried something new on race day – people around me were raving about the Glukos they were giving out at the fuel station this year, so I grabbed a Fruit Punch flavored one.  It was actually wicked good, I only drank half, but it is definitely something I will try out in the future (in training of course).

Passing by Cafe DuMonde I was dreaming of the beignets we were getting the next morning… a treat I have been looking forward to and promising myself through the race.

Right before the mile 10 marker things were very lively with music playing, cheering squads, a fully stocked water stop, and some very encouraging volunteers – this was a much needed pick me up as this is around the point where I persuade myself it is okay to walk.

I kept it at a pretty solid ‘jog’ throughout the entire race – I wish I had actually used my watch and pushed myself a little more, I had plenty of energy in then end and I KNOW and FEEL that I am in better shape then the time I finished in.

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“Still alive at mile 11” Selfie!

The final turn was on to Esplanade Ave where the flattest course ever continued.  There was construction on parts of the street here and there were stretches of road where you definitely had to watch your feet to make sure you didn’t lose an ankle in a pothole.  I am not sure of their injuries or what happened, but there were two different runners with different sets of EMTs along this part.

Music, spectators, locals outside of their houses with beers, food, etc this part of the course was lively!

Mile 12!? WHAT!? What the heck!? It can’t already be mile 12 I feel great. :Looks down at watch: JEEEZEEE I COULD BE MOVING SO MUCH FASTER. I got so annoyed with myself at this point, I was playing it safe the entire course falling into pace with others around me. I picked up the pace :45 per mile to the finish.

At Mile 12.5 we entered into the park area where a Chinese Lantern Festival was being held so there were people everywhere, runners with their medals, cheering spectators and gorgeous lanterns.

FINNISH LINE

If you remember in the Virginia Beach half I talked about how deceiving the Humana blow up arch was … it was back! But in this race it was further from the start so it wasn’t as deceiving, but also I knew their tricks and wouldn’t let it deceive me this time.

I knew I could have pushed myself harder throughout the race when I was able to book it for the last half mile.  I was passing a lot of runners and JAMMING out … like embarrassing status, spectators must have thought I was a little coo-coo mouthing words and bobbing my head.

I saw Shannon near the finish line with the boys behind her casually with her hair down .. the girl didn’t even look like she had even run a 5k never mind a half marathon as I am pouring sweat.

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SHANNON PRed – YAY Speedy best friend! some day I will run in under 2 hours with you!

The finisher’s chute was quick and easy – I got my medal and proceeded on through – I grabbed 2 bananas, 2 waters, a Gatorade (for Chris), a chocolate milk – and headed to meet with the squad.

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Obsessed with these Mizuno Wave Paradoxs – one of the best pair of sneakers I have run in!

POST RACE CELEBRATIONS

What a perfect location for the finishers celebration – there was ample room and again, the weather was perfect.

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I learned later that they were giving out unlimited beer – Michelob Ultra – for participants, which is a huge perk for most, but THIS GIRL is allergic to beer (gasp).  When will more races catch on and offer a cider or alternative option!???! GERRRR (cheers to the Surftown Half for being one of the only ones that I have been to so far!)

I was pretty bummed that I didn’t get to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as I hear they are quite legendary in NOLA we wandered around and stretched out a little before heading to the shuttle line.

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The Shuttle back to the start area was CLUTCH it was an excellent amenity and with the five busses they had going there was a wait, but it didn’t last too long.

 

THE MEDAL

The medal was a perfect representation of NOLA – I love when they put the time and effort into them.  Initially I thought this thing is definitely going to break, theres no way this is going to be able to hold up on my 50 States hanger. So far it seems to be going okay tho and it seems pretty study after all.

Another feature I love is that they actually put the date on it, some races haven’t been doing that lately, just the year – minor detail, but I loved it.

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Obligatory Medal selfie to send to the fam “I am alive!”

Overall, I loved New Orleans – what an amazing city with so much to do.  I did enjoy the half, but personally am frustrated with myself.  I was barely sore the next day only had some knee pain when initially standing up for the remainder of the night so I know I could have pushed myself harder.  Weight training/total body workouts have made a significant difference in my running. My legs felt much stronger than they have in a while.

Rock n’ Roll Official Finish Time was 2:59:30 (my watch had 2:53:40)

But hey! I finished ANOTHER half marathon happy and healthy. 13 half marathons at 200+ pounds .. SUCK IT stereotypes.

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Seriously tho, who’s hair looks that good after 13.1 miles!?

Run Happy beautiful people,

XOXO – J

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