Two years ago I ran my first half marathon in New Orleans. Finishing the The Rock-N-Roll half marathon was an accomplishment I once thought impossible. I cried as I crossed the finish line with my friend Megan, and I was super excited to see Ali at the end. He ran the full marathon, yet he was waiting for me at the finish of my half!! Haha! This was the race that earned Ali his spot at the starting line at the Boston Marathon. It was a wonderful day for both of us.
Last year I was registered for the half, but had to sit it out due to my knee injury. I was relegated to being a spectator, and I was excited to cheer on my husband and friends as they competed. I didn't plan on running this year because I just didn't feel quite ready to run 13.1 miles. My training has been hit and miss since the Disney Wine and Dine in November.
My plans quickly changed when my best friend, Larisa, called me one night asking if I'd be interested in running the half marathon relay with her. Of course!!!! She would run the first leg of the half (7.5 miles) and I would run the second leg (5.5 miles). I could do that! She got us registered and I must admit, I was super excited to be running in this race again.
On Saturday we met up at the expo to pick up our race bibs and our drum sticks. Relay runners are given drumsticks to act as the relay baton.
The expo was smaller than it has been over the last couple years. Sadly I missed some of my favorite vendors like KT Tape. That meant I'd be taping up my own knees!! LOL
We did get to stop by the Swiftwick sock booth though!! You may remember that these are the socks that Ali wore while competing in the Louisville Ironman. We are both die-hard Swiftwick fans. They have socks of every length, but my favorites are the 12" compression socks. I wear them ALL the time to work. I spend so much of the day on my feet, and the compression saves my calves and ankles! I'm not going to lie, these socks are a little pricy...but they are the BEST sock ever and they are worth every penny.
After the expo Ali and I met up with Larisa, her husband, our friend Mindy, and some fellow bloggers for a pre-race carb loading dinner at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. If you've never eaten here you are really missing out!! It is located right at the end of the French Quarter.
Now, don't get this pizza confused with the typical greasy pizza you get from a common chain pizza place. This pizza was fresh and light. We ordered the roasted chicken pizza which was topped with black beans instead of the traditional red sauce. It was very different, but very delicious. We also ordered some stuffed shells, but Ali and I agreed that the pizza was the winner of the night.
After dinner we decided to take in some of the sights of New Orleans. We wandered down Bourbon Street and enjoyed people watching. There were some characters out that night! It was nice to be out with friends the night before a race and not be stressed out about having to get back to the hotel early.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a trip to Cafe du Monde. Their beignets are worth every powder sugar coated calorie. Sooooo good!! Just be careful eating these. That sugar gets everywhere!! I knew I'd run these little babies off on Sunday.
After our bedtime snack, it was time to call it a night. We knew 5:30 a.m. would be here before we knew it.
Sunday morning we awoke and got ready to head to the starting line. At the expo on Saturday Ali won this Team Geico shirt. They said if I wore it during the race, I'd get a free massage at the finish. Yeah!!! Who would turn down a free post-race rub down? Not me!
Here we are before the race....
Ali dropped us off at the start and Larisa was first up to run. I had to make my way to the transition area about a mile away. There wasn't a shuttle to transition, so I walked/jogged to my designated hand-off point. There I was able to watch the race while waiting for Larisa to tag me. It was great to see my friends who were running both the half and full marathons as they made their way to the finish.
I was so excited to see Larisa coming down the transition chute. The weather was starting to get worse (drizzly and colder) and I was ready to get moving so I could warm up. I took off on my leg of the relay. I had to run through the French Quarter and down to the park to the finish line. It was getting pretty foggy and it made for a spooky run in some places. As I ran past Cafe du Monde I had to resist the urge to snatch a beignet off someone's plate!! They smelled so good and I was getting hungry. Just a few more miles to the finish!
I felt really good and I ran for the first 3 miles. After a bathroom break I was slow to get running again and I walked a bit of mile 4. I was so afraid that the rain was going to start at any moment, and that gave me the encouragement I needed to run in the last 1.5 miles. I hate running in the rain! There is nothing nice about soggy sneakers.
I was very excited to round the corner to see Larisa, Ali, and Donald at the finish line. I may not have run all 13.1 miles, but I was DONE. I got my relay medal and grabbed an icy chocolate milk. Yum!!
Of course I had to find the Geico tent so I could get my massage! My lower back was hurting, and the lady who gave me my massage was wonderful!!! I will definately wear this shirt in future Rock-N-Roll events so I can claim another pampering session.
I was so thankful that the weather held off and we didn't get soaked. Running the relay was a much different experience than running the half marathon. I loved the shorter distance, but I kind of felt out of place among the half marathoners. I actually felt bad passing up people as I took off on my fresh, rested legs. Some of them were hitting the wall and I was just getting going. Regardless, I had a great time.
Relay runners were given a special medal. It will look beautiful on my medal hanger :)
Overall I really enjoyed this Rock-N-Roll experience. I would even consider running as a part of a relay team again in the future. BUT, next year I want to run the New Orleans Half again and see if I can't set a new PR :)