Custom Search

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Race Report: RnR New Orleans 2017

I ran this race three weeks after the Louisiana Marathon and one week after the Run the Bayou 10k. I've run this race many times, and although the course has changed a little over time, I knew what to expect: a beautiful first half with a lot of tree cover, and a tough and lonely second half with full sun and wind. I also knew that I was not well-prepared. I didn't really do any kind of marathon build up for Louisiana, and so for this race, my long runs were basically two 16 milers I ran in previous training, plus the Louisiana marathon. Kind of a hot mess of training. Plus, my knee was bothering me.
Another issue: My garmin has proven itself insanely inaccurate: not only is the distance totally off, but the readouts are not even close to what the watch registers. When I view average pace or lap average (and I rely on lap average a lot in races), it will show a stable number - say, 7:14, maybe jump around to 7:15 or something. But then when I hit lap or it auto-laps, it reads 7:03. Like, I can still see the "7:14" average pace AS IT POPS UP WITH A 7:03 MILE. Nuts. It makes the garmin useless in races, basically just a stopwatch. 

Prerace, back when I was smiling
Getting to the start was a breeze - David and I are pros at this now, since I've run this race seven times - and I used a port-a-potty and did some Myrtles. I ran a block or two in warm up and decided to go to the bathroom again, ducking into a hotel instead of waiting in line outside. I saw two elite women using, of all things, the men's room, which annoyed the men in line immensely! I got in my corral, saw a couple of people I knew, and then we were off.

Miles 1- 8: All these miles get lumped together. They're basically an out and back on St. Charles Ave, and it was crowded. Most of the runners were half-marathoners, and there are a lot of them. Mile after mile I'd adjust my pace, hit the lap key at the mile marker, and be astonished at what it said. I am not such a great pacer in a crowd, especially a crowd that's speeding up to finish a half-marathon, and my "slow start" was too fast. I kept my Garmin average pace right where it should be, but it was totally off the actual laps. So confusing, especially since I was already feeling a little off and couldn't appropriately gauge my effort.

By mile three, I felt terrible and knew this would be a hard race. I just felt tired, unprepared, not ready. I didn't have any pep in my step! I was hot already, and I could tell by my breathing that I was working way too hard.
I saw David by the St. Charles Avenue turnaround, and he got some good pictures (then he walked straight to church!). I *almost* dropped and went home with him.
Passing David

Miles 9-16: The race runs down Elysian Fields, and then the half splits off. Here's where I could bail. I didn't go with the half, but at mile 14 or 15 we were back near the park and I could hear the finish line. I was tempted to drop out there, really tempted, but I talked myself out of it. I just felt bad. Now that we were on the full marathon course, it was empty. There were few spectators, few runners, and precious little shade. The majority of the second half is full sun, with a brisk wind off the lakefront. Mile 16 seems to be where I fall apart lately, and sure enough - I started to slow and felt even worse.

Still early, on St. Charles Ave. 
Miles 17 - 20: Oh, the Lakefront. We headed up Marconi, cut across Robert E. Lee boulevard, and got up on the lakefront. And like always, it was hot hot hot, sunny, and windy. I prepared for the struggle, but this time I was a little more prepared than just mentally: I had grabbed a Glukos at mile 18 and hung onto it, taking it during the hot portion on the lake. This was an additional gel, beyond the four I'd brought with me (because Glukos is crap. It has too few calories and negligible sodium. But any calories are good during a marathon!). It helped, but so did seeing other runners I knew at the turnaround. At mile 20, I did the math and realized that if I continued running with the same gradual slowing pace I was running now, I'd run a 3:15. I didn't want that. I had to try to get under 3:12! I was so sick of running 3:12!

Miles 21 - 26.2: As I turned around on the lakefront, I decided to cheer for every single runner coming the other way. It was an excellent distraction! I started passing people, all guys. Finally we got off the lake and onto Wisner. While still warm, at least you get a tailwind off the lake for a mile before the course turns. I was totally alone, but I saw a woman ahead of me, and I slowly crept up behind her. I passed her at mile 22, and I was shocked to see that she was one of the elite woman I'd run into in the bathroom line! Passing another woman was a boost, and I was still chugging away. Almost there! I could finish! At every mile I calculated the pace I'd need to squeeze under 3:12, but as I got closer to the finish, I realized that it was possible to even get a 3:10:xx, close to my goal of 3:10. It wasn't until mile 25 - a solid 7:17! - that I knew I could definitely hit it, though. But I just didn't have a sprint in me. Wayne, a local runner for the PowerMiler track club, passed me at mile 25. I really tried to hang onto him, but he eased ahead. Still, he drew me along and finally I could see the finish line. I crossed in 3:10:14 as sixth female!

Goal met? Not quite. Am I still thrilled? Yes! I just didn't want another 3:12, and I just didn't want to give up at the end of this race.


  1. It's so impressive that you ran a 3:10 on a day when you felt like crap! Well done!! You need a new garmin, though! I hope you can return this one as I think it's a new one you bought or got as a gift recently? It's unheard of for the watch to be THAT off. I have never had that issue!

    1. I emailed Garmin today, and they sent me steps to perform a fix - they think it's related to a corrupted activity file. But I guess I'll have to wait and see if it works next race! The 620 definitely has a bad reputation online - apparently it used a different GPS chip from other models and is inherently inaccurate. That's a big disappointment to me, because otherwise I love the 620!

  2. I found that once I knew I could achieve a goal time even if that was a few seconds over that the goal time can be smashed. Great job on a great race.

  3. Soooo proud of you for the 3:10 and not giving up! Plus I heard this race was hot, hot hot! Congratulations on your time and 6th female overall, plus your newspaper listing :).

  4. So impressed with the way you pushed through so many poor conditions to put in such a strong race. Congratulations!

  5. Huzzah!! It's incredible to me that you were able to run this race just three weeks after running another marathon, AND without training much. Whatever works, I guess!

  6. Awesome work! Good on you for not giving up, especially in such tough conditions. It must really help to know the course and conditions well and be mentally prepared for them.