Monday, March 5, 2012

Jamie and Ryan competed in, finished, and altogether rocked the Mardi Gras Half Marathon on Sunday.

Posted by: Jamie

Sunday, March 4th, Ryan and I raced in the 3rd annual Rock and Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon in New Orleans. 

The Mardi Gras Half Marathon was actually my first half marathon.  I’m not an avid runner, but I enjoy running and find it is a great way to clear my head and get in some exercise.  Two years ago I finished the full marathon, so I have run the full distance before but had never raced a half.  The half marathon was also the first race Ryan has ever run aside from a few 5ks in his youth.  

Although Ryan is much faster than I am, I was excited that he decided not to leave me behind in his dust and ran the whole race with me.  He is a great motivator and it was fun to have a buddy through both training and the race.

Race day weather was perfect with lows in the 40s and highs in the 50s.  At 7:00 am when we got to our corral, the temperature was 41.  That’s a little chilly for this Louisiana native, but with all the people around it felt warmer.  The good news was the winds were calm and the sun was shining.  It was a beautiful day for a race!

The start of the race went off without a hitch.  We were at the start line around approximately 7:15 am.  The first few miles were a breeze.  We decided to stay conservative in the beginning with a 9:30 min/mile pace.   Between mile 4 and 5, I looked at Ryan and I said, “I’m doing this.”  He knew what that meant, so he started pacing me faster and faster.  We did the next two miles at about an 8:30 min/mile pace.  He looked at me again, and I repeated, “I’m doing this.” I wanted to go sub 2 hours.  Now, that might not be a big deal to most people, but I’m the type of casual runner who is content to pace every run at about a 10:00 min/mile.  Ryan is way more competitive than that and has tried to expand my horizons.  It worked!

By mile 6, I hit my groove and just kept running.  I’m pretty sure a few of those miles were in the 8:00 min/mile pace which on most days is a sprint for me.  I could tell that Ryan was ecstatic that we were actually going to push and not just have a leisurely stroll around the city.  By mile 9, we were headed to the French Quarter and the crowd support was amazing.  We hit mile 10 in 1:28:47.  We knew for sure that unless something catastrophic happened, we were definitely going to make our two hour goal.  At this point, my quads were getting a little tight, (I’m sure they were wondering what the heck I was trying to do to them), but I had good energy and knew I could tough it out.

Then, my favorite part of the race.  At mile 11, I got to see my family.  My niece and nephews made us personalized signs.  So awesome!
For those wondering, I am "Nanny J" and Ryan is "Bobby."  (We really like nick names is our family).

It was such a boost to see them cheering us on.  Here we come!  And yes, Ryan was dressed for a blizzard!  Hahaha, he loves running in the heat.  To each their own!
We gave them high 5s but just kept trucking. 
I knew we couldn’t stop.  We were so close to finishing.  

The last few miles were tough because I hadn’t really trained enough at that pace and my legs were starting to pay the price, but I knew we were almost done so I was excited.  After we passed mile 12, I was ready to stretch my legs out and finish strong.  Crossing the finish line is always such an awesome high and to do it together with Ryan was simply amazing. 

Our official time was 1:55:14 with an average pace of 8:48 min/mile.  Yay!  We broke 2 hours.  We ranked 2148 out of a total 13066 half marathon finishers.

To anyone interested, I would definitely recommend this race especially if you are interested in a PR.  The course is “flat as a pancake” and the weather in Nola in March is usually perfect for running.  The crowd support is always fun and when running through New Orleans, there are always interesting things to see. 

I loved the tech shirt and the race medal we received for finishing.  

If you're looking to run the race yourself, there are a few cons you need to be aware of.  First, there were bad road surfaces.  This is just a fact of our beautiful historic city; we have roads that are not conducive for running 13.1 or 26.2 miles.  As with most races on the Rock and Roll series, there were over 22,000 entrants on Sunday.  With that many people, it is difficult to dodge all pot holes.  In addition, the camber/slant of some of the roads on the course is severe and the last 4 miles or so of the half was on a road with a somewhat sandy surface.  Unfortunately, I saw quite a few people wipe out and came very close to being taken down myself by a woman who tripped on a grate right behind me.  

The other con only concerns the full marathon course.  The last 13 miles of the course are not nearly as entertaining as the first 13 plus there is a section towards the end where the full marathoners have to run on the lakefront which can get fairly windy.  This was difficult for me when I ran the full, and I heard concerns about it from runners yesterday. 

That being said, this race is a great way to experience the city of New Orleans.  You get to see the sights and experience the spirit of the wonderful people that make up our city.  We also have some of the best restaurants in the world that will easily help you eat back all of the calories you will inevitably burn!  The race is always close to DGA’s annual crawfish boil, so it might just be the excuse you need to run the race, experience the city, and then enjoy some quality time with the DGA team!
I want to give photography credit to Lindy Bourgeois, Loyd Bourgeois, Mary Ledet, and David Stein.  Thanks!