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Monday, February 13, 2012

Run like the wind! Or at least into the wind.

Saturday was The Wall 30k, traditionally held three weeks before the Mardi Gras Marathon (now the RnR New Orleans marathon).
This was also my virtual run for Sherry - although sadly, her bib barely made it, after being battered with wind for 18 miles. 
As I TMI shared, there was a complicating factor to this race...major GI distress. I don't know what's up with my stomach, but I am still feeling bleah! So rather than choose one of my three options, I decided to run by effort and tummy.
View of the river from the course
I jogged to the start - the race moved from ugly and awful Destrehan to the Audubon fly, slightly over 1.5 miles from my house - and ran into my friends Celeste and Jill, both fast girls. Celeste and I have run together before, but she's generally a lot faster for me.
Even on the jog over, I was noticing the heavy winds. Once the race started, I realized just how tough this run would be. The course is an out-and-back on the top of the levee. The levee is the windiest place in the city: it's elevated and it's on the water. In Saturday's gusts, it was unbelievable! We had a headwind at first, and I was glad - it meant a tail wind on the return.
There was a 10k and a 30k option for the race, and once the 10k turned around, the race thinned. I realized I wasn't close enough to any pack of runners to draft. I made a move around mile 5 or 6 to try to join two guys ahead of me and share drafting duty. Unfortunately, right about then they spread out and I never could catch either one (except I did on the back half, when it didn't matter anymore). So I ended up by myself in crazy wind. I can't describe the misery, but my splits tell the story: they vary from 6:56 to 7:36! A spectator told me I was lead female at mile 7ish. I pushed into the wind, because I didn't know who was behind me. I was trying to tire the competition out early and take it easy in the tail wind on the way back. My thinking was that if I built up enough of a lead early on, it would be too difficult for anyone to overcome that later.
Near the turn around I verified I was lead female, and I also saw a quite large group a minute or two behind me: Celeste was leading. I made a mental note not to let them creep up later on!
Miles 7.5-9.3 were a terribly windy section that really made it hard to even stay upright, so I knew I'd get a big break after I turned around and got a tail wind. Sure enough, parts of the return leg were a lot easier. However, there was a section at miles 13-14 that became very gusty and turned into a headwind again. That was the toughest section to me, although my splits weren't terrible.  I felt ok (thank God my tummy was relatively calm, so glad I had that Imodium in the medicine cabinet), but I will say that fighting the wind is exhausting. You pour in so much energy that you're just plain tired. It was hard to recover from that, but my strategy worked: no one gained on me after the turn around.
At mile 16, I did pass one runner, one of the guys I'd tried to join earlier on. By now I was back in a very familiar area: this section of the levee is a section I run as part of my regular ten-mile loop. I felt like I was "home" and sped up. My speed was also helped because for the last mile, the path dips off the levee to street level, and is shielded by office buildings (actually, where my husband works!). It was a blessed break from the wind off the river. I knew I'd run a negative split - there was no other option thanks to the wind - and my last two miles were 6:59 and 6:56. In no time, I was in sight of the finish, and finally that run was over! My time was 2:13:30 gun.
Yay! Finish line!

Thoughts from The Wall:
- I saw many people in the back of the pack struggling. I kept thinking, that was me two years ago! I wanted to stop and tell them, keep at it! Running gets easier, I promise!
- Wearing head phones when it's windy is pointless. You can't hear a thing.
- I did two gels for that distance and it worked well. This was also my first time trying Hammer gel; I liked that it was less sweet and I handled it well given my upset stomach. Plus, Hammers are really cheap!
- I thought about everything under the sun to distract myself from thinking about my stomach.
- I am a little disappointed in my pace - around 7:08 Garmin pace - because I think my 30k pace should be faster than that. But factoring in the wind I'm not that upset.
- I do not actually know what one is supposed to do with a finish line tape. Slow down? Ram into it full speed? Move ones arms out of the way? Luckily no one caught the awkwardness on camera.
- I like that I've been winning clothes! Winners got plaques and shorts. Unfortunately the shorts are quite large and a weird high-cut style, but it's still a nice idea.
- Nothing tastes better after a long run than beer and king cake.


  1. Holy ****. Seriously. You're awesome, girl - I can only dream of running your times. Great job on gritting your teeth and getting it done. Between the tummy issues and wind, you sure knew how to dig deep. :)

    PS - please don't ever stop blogging.

  2. I am so happy for you that you decided to race it! I have never run through tape but I must admit that would be AWESOME!! Maybe some day! :-)

    p.s. I agree with mickiruns- I love this running blog!!

  3. I feel your pain on the brutal winds. I had a race this past Saturday and the wind was about 20mph...yikes! I managed to get 3rd place but I was really hoping for a faster time. weather can change this very quickly. Great job on your are so speedy and I love it.

  4. Maybe they should have supplied you with scissors a few metres out from the tape. But again, running with scissors is generally frowned on.

  5. Good job! Wow, for someone with a tummy pain, you are still wicked fast. I am glad they moved the course; I ran The Wall back in 07 and it was from Destrahan. UgLy! The park is way better!

  6. Great run despite the wind and the stomach problems. Way to "Gut it out". Sometimes a run is all about the mental

  7. Dude, you rock. So, so impressed. And, doing that with GI issues? I'm so proud of you for winning! You pushed through, & it reminds me of all those times that it's uncomfortable & I want to quit.

  8. Congrats on the win with your stomach issue to boot! I always wondered about the tape thing too! Beer and king cake--hmmm!

    Glad to have found your blog through your comments in mine! I am enjoying your posts!