Saturday, December 15th marked my fourth Half Marathon! (Last year’s post HERE details the nervous/excited energy I felt just days before my first 13.1!) This was my first time running this race – the 31st Annual Ole Man River Half Marathon – which was hosted by the New Orleans Track Club. Also, my bestie Jenna chose to run the 5K course!
I set the alarm for 5:45 am – left the house by 6:15 am – and arrived at Jenna’s by 7:00 am. We then drove over to the City Park and picked up our Race Bibs and T-shirts. The original race day plans were for the walkers to start at 7:30 am…the half marathoner runners to start at 8:00 am…and then the 5K runners to start at 8:15. As Jenna and I were standing in the LONG line for the bathrooms…there was an announcement that everyone was starting together at 8:00. WHOA – threw us all for a loop!!! As it was 7:55, Jenna and I left the bathrooms to line-up…and just as we reached the starting line, another announcement was made that the race would be a bit delayed and start at 8:15 to accommodate everyone. WHOA – again!!! I ran back to the bathroom lines (because I’m a runner and 2 hours is a LONG time to wait!)…and FINALLY made it back with 5 minutes to spare. Jenna and I took a few Pre-Race pics…discussed how I should NOT start out too fast (really bad habit I’m trying to break!)…started up our playlists…was reminded again to NOT start out too fast, and then we were off!
My race goals were as follows:
GOAL A: Sub 2 hours. This could be possible…! The reason I threw this bone of a goal out there is that I ran a 9:16/mile average pace on my last 11 mile run. Due to the cooler weather…and possible extra energy from having other runners around me…this is a goal…albiet a lofty one!
GOAL B: Sub 2 hours, 4 minutes. This is my most realistic goal. My current PR stands at 2:02:39, so if I do this right, I can at least attain that goal.
Both races started and finished in City Park in New Orleans. The Half course ran started at the southern end of the Park (Roosevelt Mall), ran along the east side of the Park (Wisner Blvd), then ran 6 miles along Lake Pontchartrain (Lakeshore Drive), back down Wisner Blvd, ending on Roosevelt Mall. There was a radio station blaring music at the “T” – miles 3.5, 7, and 10. I was surprised to find myself running along so many “rolling hills” – aka – overpasses. But I felt strong overall and didn’t let the small bumps get to me. I think the worst part of the race for me, both mentally and physically, was once I hit Lakeshore Drive. Usually running along the lakefront motivates me…but I felt like there was a never-ending path ahead of me. The road hit a “T” at mile 3.5 – you head right for an out-and-back 3 miles…then continue another out-and-back 3 miles in the other direction before reaching the “T” again. The positive side of such an out-and-back course is the constant stream of other runners you pass (in both directions!) The crowd was light throughout most of the course, but was pretty packed along Roosevelt Drive cheering for the finishers. There were also water stops every 2 miles…and they were pretty spot-on for locations.
So how did I do?
My first 8 miles were STELLAR with a sub-9 min/mile pace (I snapped a pic of my half-way mark!)…then I hit mile 9 and slowed by 30 seconds…and I couldn’t seem to pick it back up after that. However…
I did achieve a new PR! 2:02:03 – a full 30 seconds faster than my last half!
I saw some friends between mile 10 and 11…and that gave me a short burst of energy…but then I continued to plod along at an average of 9:36/mile for the last 5 miles. However, I did finish strong…and was SO EXCITED to see a 2:02 finish – and Jenna cheering me on!!!
So how did Jenna do? She finished 1st in her age group for the 5K! She said she felt strong the whole way. AWESOME day for both of us!
I’ll keep chasing down that sub-2-hour Half time!!! Until the next race…