I have only run in 2 Rock ‘n’ Roll races previously. One of those was New Orleans in 2012, it was my second marathon ever. Once I saw that RnR was really stepping up this year and making the 2015 event something special I knew I had to be part of it and signed up last fall for what would be my eighteenth marathon.
I made it to New Orleans much later than I had planned on Saturday because of a show that I had to play that morning and missed the Rock n Blogger meet up at Cafe du Monde. Instead, I went straight to the expo once I made it to town. The expo was help at the convention center in downtown New Orleans by the Carnival cruise departure area and is usually pretty packed. I was lucky to find a metered parking spot just a few blocks away from the expo hall and made the quick walk over. After a super fast bib & shirt pickup we walked through and looked at all the great Brooks event merchandise and then into the general vendor floor. The expo was very crowded while I was there, right around lunch time, but we were able to participate in a few things going on and check out a few other races coming up in the area.
After leaving the expo we went to check into our hotel in Westwego, it was about a 15 minute drive from downtown. It was nice to rest for most of the afternoon, between the races at Disney and then working the expo last week in Baton Rouge I haven’t relaxed before a race day in months. After a few hours Brooklyn made it to town and went through the expo then met up with Us at the hotel. She was with our friend Mandi and they had picked up another friend Lisa who flew in from D.C. Once we were all at the hotel we drive downtown to search for a dinner spot around the French quarter. We went to a small corner bar called 801 Royal, alligator sausage poboy sandwiches!
Sunday morning we were up early at the hotel. 5 of us got ready to run and headed off towards downtown. I dropped off the 4 passengers around the starting area and drove to the finish line, about 7 miles away. I paid for the premium finish parking pass which included a shuttle ride back to the start. With the car safely tucked away about a half mile from the finish I was on the shuttle and ready to run.
I started in the second wave of runners in the first corral and was on the road just over a minute after the race clock started. The race course is really well laid out with significant changes in scenery from the first to second half of the race. The first half of the race is a down and back run around the business district of downtown New Orleans. It’s great running through the French Quarter and past Jefferson Square, Cafe du Monde, and the French market before heading north towards City Park.
I had a fantastic first half of this marathon. I was running strong through the 10k split and even stronger up to the 13.1 mark. I hit a half split of 1:37:23 (Just a few minutes off my half personal best) and looked to be on my way to huge PR!
The half sits just before mile 13 and the marathoners wrap around the park and head out towards Lakeshore Drive. The back half is a down and back run along the edge of Lake Ponchatrain. The lake had a strong wind coming off of it that made the run rough. However, this would be the least of my problems. After crossing the mile 16 mark with right at 2 hours on the clock the shin splints that I have been battling since the Disney 10k decided to show up and make their presence known in a big way! I had to pull back the reigns and resort to plan B, which was finish a sub 4 marathon in the state of Louisiana. I took the advice of Jeff Galloway given to me at the WDW Half Marathon and adjusted to a 2 minute run, 30 second walk interval shortening my stride and decreasing my cadence speed.
The last 10 miles of the race took almost 2 hours as I battled through the pain in my shin. I knew though with the Phoenix Marathon just over a month away that it was better to finish today and not further aggravate the problem. It’s always upsetting to see a potential goal drift by. I was at mile 18 when the 3:15 pace group passed me by. Then at 21 the 3:30 group, mile 23 the 3:45 group passed by. I crossed the finish with a time of 3:52:30, a successful sub 4 finish. and 9 minutes than the last time I ran RnR NOLA in 2012. Take victories where you can find them. Sub 4 state #5!
After a few post race pictures I met up with Mandi, she ran the 10k, in the reunion area and we watched the post race concert while we waited for the rest of our party to finish the marathon. After a few drinks, jumbalaya, and a great concert by the Kongos we went to the finish line to watch Brooklyn and Lisa come across!
After we were all finished and showered we went back downtown to celebrate with beignets at Cafe du Monde, celebratory crawfish Etouffee, and a stroll down Bourbon Street. I love being in New Orleans! I can’t wait to be back for the Crescent City Classic 10k in April!
Overall – 438/2353
Male – 294/1186
Division – 45/139