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Saturday, October 6, 2018

When Oktoberfest is 100F...

I signed up for the Oktoberfest 2 mile race months ago, and I expected it to be its usual Saturday night lederhosened affair: you run the race, then you get free entry and a beer or two at the fest. 
Ha. At some point, the New Orleans Track Club changed the race time to TWELVE NOON. In October. In New Orleans. An unusually warm October, at that.

It seems that the Deutsches haus, who hosts the fest, decided that runners were crowding out regular fest-goers, so requested the time change. And for some reason, NOTC went with that...I would definitely have worked out an alternative way to have the event at a reasonable time, like drop the fest altogether, or have the event elsewhere at night but with free fest entry with a bib for another day. There's just no reason to have a noon race just about ever, especially since the fest didn't even open until 1 pm, so most runners were long finished and gone before they had a chance to spend any money with the vendors.

In a nutshell, it was terrible. The day was hot, humid, and sunny. As we were heading over, it was 90F with a 102 real-feel, and that was at 11 am. The race course was even worse. It's a totally exposed, shadeless course, and the asphalt had been baking all day. Someone had a thermometer at the start, and it was 100F on the course! I was basically overheated by the time I picked my packet up. As I jogged to the start (short warm up, no strides, just too hot for anything extra), another runner told me that the way back would be a headwind most of the way. Sure enough, a miserable summer storm was brewing, and annoyingly, it was manifesting as a very hot, very humid headwind accompanied by zero clouds, rain, or temperature drop (the clouds rolled in around 1:30, but we never actually got any rain, just oppressive humidity). I decided that I'd go out at race pace, but if the conditions were killing me, I'd do at least a mile at 2mile pace, and then the second at 5k pace. I didn't want to skip the race totally, nor did I want to start slow in case I actually ended up feeling ok, so I thought this would give me the option to semi-bail without completely giving up.

The race was pretty small, and I figured my fast friend Megan would win for the women. She took off into the lead right away, and I followed. It didn't take long for me to realize that this race was going to be more of a workout. What a slog! Mile one was fairly easy (5:54), but after the turn around, we headed back the way we came, into:

  1. A headwind
  2. Crowds of race walkers, all of whom made the smart choice not to run at noon on a day like this
  3. Burned.
  4. A million confused fest-goers, who, thanks to all the walkers, couldn't really tell there was a race going on, and milled about ALL UP IN OUR WAY. The crowds and confusion were because, unbelievably, the city allowed three concurrent fests all within and around City Park at the same time: Japan Fest, Oktoberfest, and Beignet Fest (the question of the day: will Japan Fest and Oktoberfest invade Beignet fest?). Traffic, of both the car and people variety, was heavy and largely confused and lost and in my way.
Mile two SUCKED and I would have run 5k pace even if it hadn't been a vague plan...I couldn't pick it up even a smidgen at the finish, and ran a 6:17 second mile for second place. I think I ran faster than that in a casual summer race this year. 

 I could barely "cool down" a mile, and when we got home I had heat exhaustion. I collapsed as soon as I got into the house. I asked David for water, but I actually passed out before he brought it! So now I have a massive headache and a sunburn. And that's why you don't run a race at noon.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, what an awful race. Noon in hot weather sounds like hellacious conditions and then add in the other annoyances and yikes - what a bad event!!