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Monday, January 16, 2012

Louisiana Marathon: Race Recap

The Louisiana Marathon was my "goal" race this year, meaning that when I finally decided to dig out a training plan,* I picked this race to stick at the end (I ran two other marathons this Fall as long runs). It was also the only marathon I've truly tapered for. So I was going in with a definite goal - 3:10 - and a less definite plan.
Oatmeal and coffee, made in the hotel room

Getting ready...sorry about the nasty bedhead and no makeup; that's how I roll for races! 
Sunday morning David and I walked to the start area from our hotel. We had stayed a sleepless night in Hotel Indigo - thanks to the sobbing parents, security, and police which invaded our floor from 1 am to 3 am because the parents had gone out and their kids locked themselves in the room and refused to respond. Eventually the smirking brats opened up and informed the world that they did it "as a joke" (P.S. their parents suck for leaving them alone, too.) Total waste of money. I got NO sleep. 
I was a bit concerned about running an inaugural race, but the start area was well-organized, there were ample port-o-potties, and the race started on time. NICE. All signs of a good race!
I had a garbage bag and throw-away gloves because it was in the 30's for the start. 
Chilly start! Notice my super-convenient Gu armband and my drug dealer gloves.
So, since I didn't have a plan, I started out way too fast. I kept trying to reign it in, but the cold temps tricked me into faster speeds. I ran the first two miles under 7:00, but forced myself to pull back and kept around the 7:10 range for the first half. I was chatting for several miles with two guys planning on running a 3:10, and I'm blaming them for my early speed - they were out too fast, too! (They finished in 3:12).
The course was not as nice as Baton Rouge beach - more boring stretches of empty neighborhoods, less pretty lakes - and it was actually slightly hilly. Nothing bad, just lots of long stretches of mild grade and small hills. What sucked, though, is that the half and full course divided and reconverged  several times throughout the race. This meant the a group of 7:10 pace marathoners were funneled into a group of 10:30 pace half-marathoners, where we were stuck for several miles, then got dunked in again even later - near the 11 or 12 mile mark for the half, when many of the runners at this point were slowed or walking (oh, and I had to skip the water stops; too crowded with stopped runners!). This happened three times; the last was near the finish, so I was dodging weary halfers drudging on, just trying to complete the distance. I'm not blaming the half runners at all; it was just the design of the course.This hurt my time a tad: I am queen of running tangents and had been spot on the mile markers, but after the second time the two races met, I was off by a full 0.1 mile (I finished with 26.35 Garmin, way far for me, since I'm good with tangents).
Around mile 16 I lost the guys I had been chatting with and passed a girl - the first female marathoner I'd seen all day - and then I passed Alison, a 16 year old from Baton Rouge! She rocks - her first marathon last month was a 3:24 and Sunday she ran a 3:15. If she was better at pacing she'd beat me. I was staying strong but I had no idea what my place was. I noticed several speedy looking women up front at the start; I guessed I might be top ten! 
Then I hit the wall. Really. Here is where I think taper hurt me. I was not used to the distance and I hit the wall around mile 20. I had just taken a Cliff gel (from the course) and they are very thick, almost chewy. It tried to come back up. Like, seriously, I thought I was going to puke! I struggled, kept it down, but pitched the rest of the pack. I glanced down and my hard effort showed an 8:11 pace on the Garmin. It felt like 6:50's! By now I was so close, I just wanted to push to the end. I was getting very warm - it was in the 60's now - and the shadeless course left my head baking in the sun. I'd over-dressed in my tights. I was covered in sweat and my non-wicking Saints babydoll top was sticking to my body. Mile 22 crept up to 7:23. Mile 23 was even slower at 7:29. Mile 24 I was just holding on with 7:30. Mile 25 I ran into the halfers again and barely made a 7:41. Mile 26 I managed a 7:37, and finished the final fractions with 6:32 pace. I totally chicked this guy at the end, too. 
I'm sneaking up behing you!  
I passed you in the chute, SO rude! Sorry dude, I had a time goal :(

I didn't even realize that I was going to make 3:10 when I hit the wall because my foggy brain couldn't do math. I had myself running a 3:12 even if I kept 7:30 pace at the end - I cannot multiply on low blood glucose. Seeing a 3:09 as I came around the corner was a big boost; so was hearing that I was third female! I had no idea up to that point.
My shoes are doing an amazing job of hiding amongst the orange cones. Camo!
My official time was 3:09:36. I felt Ok at the finish, but I didn't recover as well as usual this time around. After my gel incident, I didn't take any more gels and was even afraid to eat. I was hungry, and no longer felt nausea, but I had come so close to throwing up that I didn't want to risk any food. By the time I realized that this was stupid, the food was gone and we were ready to drive home. So I think my muscle recovery is a little impaired by that. I also feel kind of crappy because I have a horrendous sunburn! 
It's time now to think about what's next. I still have three marathons this season, but none are PR-friendly (warm weather, hilly course, Boston - I'm sure I'll bomb at Boston). Maybe I should plan longer term? What do you think?
*Then when my hubby set up my new computer, he threw it out to make room on my desk. 


  1. Quite impressive, congrats on the great performance. Gotta love the incident at the hotel, that definitely would've made me cranky!

  2. 3:09:36 = Damn. You definitely move it!

    I don't know if I am allowed to hang out - even virtually - with people who can run sub 3:10:10...

  3. Amazing pace and recap! From what I understand about the Atlanta course - very hilly and definitely not a PR attempt!

  4. what a weekend! Congrats! You can have a good race at Boston if you prepare for uphills and downhills. I know that's hard to do in New Orleans.

    wind, heat, people traffic, no sleep - nothing holds you back! Always Amazing!

  5. great race! sorry about the hotel situation but it did not seem to impact your race performance. I think the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon course is good but the idea of a double loop just seems so boring to me. Come race in Baton Rouge again. Hopefully one time I will actually be able to meet you in person at a race!

  6. I would LOSE MY MIND if something like that happened at my hotel. AWFUL!! Great job on the race, considering the conditions, I think you made the best of it and you did awesome. YAY!!

  7. You did an awesome job even with all the obstacles (literally) you faced. And girl, you've got to think positive! Your times and running is seriously impressive even if you think you haven't planned. You are clearly trained for this stuff and prepared to rock these races. Hope you enjoy some recovery this week!

  8. You , my friend, are freaking amazing!!! You have such a butt load of potential Gracie!!! It sounds like you are training hard but not to the extent that I would have to train to run this time. A-MA-ZING!!

  9. Awesome job! I knew you could do it! And I don't think you are going to "bomb" Boston! You are going to kick tail!

  10. So fast!! Congratulations on such a great race. And the great face report.

  11. SERIOUSLY... you are my hero!! You rocked it and nailed your goal! I can't wait to continue seeing you rock your upcoming races. CONGRATS!

  12. Just found your blog thanks to Amanda and loved reading your recap! You are FAST!! Sub 3:10?!!! Great job! I can't believe the awful hotel exierience you had. Of all nights for something like that to happen... You still managed to put together a great race and stick to your plan. I agree that going math at the end of a marathon is nearly impossible! : )

  13. Great Job Grace!!! I really like the idea of the course not being a double loop like BRBM but those miles between say 16-21 are a mentally draining section. I ran it during training and was glad I was only doing the half. You did amazing with all factors figured in. Congrats speed demon Grace!!

  14. Hey Gracie!! Just found you through Amanda...what an AMAZING race !!! I HOPE to pull out something like this in 2012 or 2013! SO inspiring! way to kick some A$$!! and I LOVE how you passed that guy at the end, lol...poor soul:)

  15. I also just found your blog through Amanda's, and am so impressed! Your time dropped dramatically in the last few years, way to go! What an awesome race. I've only done one full so far, but look forward to working on speed and being inspired by speedy ladies like you! :)

  16. Wow, your race times continue to amaze me! Another huge PR! Bummer about the hotel the previous night, that sounds rough! Crazy about the 16 year old girl getting 3:15, that is nuts, haha Congrats again, you are out of your mind fast!