DATE: February 06; 7:30 AM
DISTANCE: 13.1 MI
PLACE: Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, LA
WEATHER: 41F (I could be off by a couple of degrees)
OFFICiAL TIME / PACE: 2:18:15 / 10:34MIN/MI
SWAG: Tech T-shirt
Since I have ranted a few times about the near last-minute course change, I’ll leave it alone (for the most part) in this race report. To quickly recap, the race organizers changed the course that would have taken us along the Mississippi River and through the French Quarter to a course that pretty much had us run around Lake Pontchartrain.
Grrr! Originally, I had a direct flight from NYC to New Orleans, but Delta canceled that flight. The idea was to go to the expo directly from the airport to pick up my crap head over to my inn. Since I was rebooked on a later flight out of NYC with a layover in Atlanta, I did not arrive in New Orleans until the end of the day.
Overall, I thought the folks at Rock n Roll did a decent job with the expo because I really did not have any issues getting my race crap and taking a few pre-race pics.
A LOL moment at the expo: Who goes to a race expo and is like: While I’m here, let me pick up a set of knives? Since we were in the Deep South, I’m surprised that there was not a vendor selling guns and ammo. 😉
Pre-start to Start:
I was very appreciative that Run Rock n Roll had shuttles taking runners (and their guests) from New Orleans Central Business District (CBD) to the race’s start on the University of New Orleans (UNO) campus. Because of the original course, I booked a place that was about a 0.5-mile walk from the start. However, for the new start at UNO, I had to walk about 2 miles to the Convention Center to catch the shuttle to UNO. I did not mind that walk too much because I figured that could serve an easy warm-up.
The calmness of Bourbon St. at 6:30 am.
I am glad that I got my life together and woke up early enough to walk to the shuttle area in the CBD. After meeting someone from one of my FB running groups, she told me that she spent $65 bucks on an Uber from the French Quarter to UNO’s campus. Put it like this, a regular cab from the airport to the French Quarter is about $36.
Quick comments about the course:
While I am somewhat of a fan of courses with a couple of turns or a U-turn here and there, this course had way too many tight turns (at least 15) in my opinion. In the original course for the full marathon, which was canceled, this section was supposed to be about 6 miles of the marathon. Also, the original half marathon course was not supposed to pass through this section of the city. Basically, the organizers crammed a 13.1-mile course into a 6-mile stretch of a marathon’s course.
Because of the multiple turns, there were a lot of in and out components of the course, which is not a bad thing IF there is enough space for runners going in and coming out.
I saw a couple of nasty falls because some folks would run in oncoming “traffic” to pass other runners but ended up colliding with people running in the opposite direction.
There were several points where you either had to make a hard turn or a U-turn depending on the race (5K, 10K or half marathon). While I knew that I was following the correct arrows for the half-marathon, there was that lingering thought of not making the correct turn and was running the wrong course. You know, kind of like thinking that you left the stove on after leaving your house. I guess this is not a problem within the first few miles of a race, but it drives me crazy having to “think” about a course when I’m 10 miles into a race. Like most folks, I just want to worry about finishing.
One good thing . . . I think. There were not too many potholes in this course. Because of the high water table in the area, New Orleans is notoriously known for its potholes and crappy roads in general.
Mile 0 – Mile 5:
Average pace: 10:45
I felt pretty good going into the race; however, I was pissed with myself during the first mile. The forecast called for high 30F temps so I wore a short-sleeve tech shirt under a long-sleeved tech shirt. About a half of a mile into the first mile, I was getting very hot. While the temps were in the high 30s, we were in direct sun so it felt warmer than it actually was. This meant having to stop and take off my long-sleeve shirt. Since my bib was on the long-sleeve shirt, I had to take off the bib and reattach it to my short-sleeve shirt, which cost about three minutes. Normally, I attach my bib to my running shorts just in case I have to take off or add a layer. I think that my vanity has gotten to me because my official race photos are not as good when I have the bib on my shorts compared to when my bib is located on my shirt/upper torso. Also to make matters worse, I dropped two of the safety pins and had to spend some time on the ground looking for them. Forget finding a needle in a haystack; how about finding a safety pin in the grass?
Once I got my bib situation under control, it was more or less smooth sailing. Actually, I take that back. The first two miles were very tough because there were a lot of walkers, so I spent some time and energy weaving around people. I probably have mentioned this a few times, but I think race organizers should have a walkers’ lane for the first three miles of 5K+ races. While folks will not put themselves into higher corrals if they are going to walk, maybe they’ll stick to a lane dedicated to walkers. Or . . . am I giving people too much credit?
Mile 5 – 9:
Average pace: 10:45 – I thought that I ran this segment way faster.
At this point, I believe that I was getting into my groove with one exception – BATHROOM break. Before the pandemic, I do not remember taking pee (or poop breaks) during a half marathon. This probably was due to the limited numbers of public bathrooms in NYC so I just learned how to really hold my pee and poop during my 10+ mile long runs. Fortunately, the wait times for the portapotties were very short. Although the lines were less than a minute, we all know that the breaks add up. Also, for me at least, it takes me a few moments to get back into my groove after taking a potty break.
While running this segment, I did enjoy the views of the lake and some of the Mardi Gras-/New Orleans-themed flair.
Mile 9 – 13.1
Average pace: 10:00
Surprisingly, I felt pretty strong during this segment. Looking at my post-race time and comparing the Mile 5-9 and Mile 9-13.1 segments, I guess that I was not THAT strong. At this point, the race was becoming tricky because of the 5+ turns in this segment alone. I was thrown off because my watch said that I was at/near Mile 12, but I did not see a Mile 12 marker so I assumed that the watch’s GPS was off. I’m so hard on myself because I did not consider that I could have already passed the Mile 12 marker. After all of the mental back and forth, the Mile 13 marker was the next thing I saw. I guess we did not have a couple of U-turns remaining, but I didn’t really get an opportunity to push the last 1.1 miles of the race.
While I did not perform as well as I wanted to (or as well as I thought I did), I did run a bit better than my last few half marathons.
- New Orleans (Feb. ’22): 2:18:15 Could I give myself a time of 2:15 since I had to deal with my shirt and bib issue during the first mile? 😉
- Fred Lebow (Jan. ’22): 2:22:23
- Madrid (Oct. ’21): 2:30:15 For this one, I was very hungover and drunk.
- Va Beach (Sep. ’21): 2:31:39
I even took the medal out to get involved in some New Orleans shenanigans – a post-race brunch and a riverboat cruise.
RnR has lost its mind. 😉
LOL! Y’all want me to sign up for next year’s races when you: 1. canceled the original race for which I registered; 2. completely changed the half marathon course a couple of weeks before the event?
Love Philly Run Half Marathon is the next bad boy on my list. For my 2022 resolve to run intention, I am planning to run either a half or full marathon each month.
While I think that I have the endurance for a half marathon, I will need to work on speed over the next few months.