Go time! My corral ended up starting around 7:35. I was pretty close to the front, and my legs were pretty warmed up thanks to the walk from the car. The sun had come out, and it was a beautiful day. Most things from this point forward were something of a blur. I remember seeing the 5k marker and thinking how quickly it had come. I also hoped that the timer was sending time update texts to my mom, so she would know all was well! Miles 2 – 7ish were an out-and-back on St. Charles. This was fun, because we could see all of the runners that had started ahead of us as they were doing the final part of that leg. The crowd support and live music and water stations held up to their reputation. I only got water every two to three stations, but there was always plenty available. I didn’t plan out my walk breaks ahead of time, thinking that I would just go by feel. As long as I felt strong, I would just keep running. I passed the 5k point and still felt good, so I decided I would run to the 10k point before considering a walk break. Well, at the 10k point, I still felt strong! The arches of my feet didn’t hurt, and my knees weren’t tight at all. This might have been when I got water, but I don’t really remember. Just past the Mile 7 point, we headed towards the French Quarter. I know that’s the part that all the out-of-town folks wanted to see, but it was not very nice to make us run by Cafe Du Monde! There was a water stop as we passed by the French Market, and that was the last time I got water. I could feel my legs beginning to ache when I walked, and the water didn’t sit to well (I did keep it down though!). Water was the only thing I got at any of the stops – I thought the Gatorade would be too sweet, and the salt packets weren’t something I had ever tried before, so I avoided it. I had some Sport Beans in my running belt, but I kept forgetting them when I had water, so I didn’t eat those either!
Mile 10 was a “can’t believe this” moment for me. At this point, I had officially run farther than I ever had. I knew I had just a 5k left, but this stretch was the hardest part. Some of this area was really sunny, and the roads were rougher than they had been. I just kept thinking, “Three miles – I run three miles all the time!” I was reaching deep down for this stretch of the race, but just kept running.
The people running next to me and cheering for the runners from the sidelines was probably one of the things that helped me to push through the most. There were many cancer survivors running, and one little lady with a sign that said “6 years cancer free – Thank you!” There was also a group of firemen walking the full marathon in full fire gear, carrying an American flag. Every person that ran past them gave them a smile, or pat on the back and just said “Thank you!” Talk about making me choke up along the race course!
There were lots of great signs, some funny, some motivational:
“Where are you all going?”
“Worst parade ever!”
“Run like you stole something!”
“If it were easy, I would be doing it!”
“Finish for the bragging rights!”
“You’re almost there first timer!”
The Finish! The finish line was in City Park, behind the building. (I have no idea what this building is actually called, but it’s the first one you see!) That seemed like the longest stretch there was!! I crossed the finish line with my arms raised high and a huge smile on my face. I got my medal, some chocolate milk, and a banana, grabbed my gear from the gear check, and found the crew.
And here’s my official results:
Most of my long runs had an average pace of 12:30 – 12:40, so even though my main goal was to finish, I also had a secret goal to finish at a 12 min pace – and I did it in 12:05!!
The entire event was just awesome. Running a half marathon was never, ever, ever something I thought I would be able to do. Many months of training and many miles logged on lake paths, neighborhood roads, and the rec track. It was such a rewarding experience and I can’t wait to do another one someday!
And yes, Em still thinks I’m a little insane. 🙂