by Renee Ross cross-posted from My Life in Motion
I woke up bright and early on the morning of the race after having a wonderful night of sleep. Highly unusual for me but since this was my last race in my series of three half-marathons in two weeks I really wanted to give it my best. I met the DetermiNation team at the headquarters hotel where we had some light refreshments before walking as a group to the start line.
me, Tammy and Tammi of Team ArkanSassy
At 5:15 we were given a police escort over to the start line. It was like being in our own parade! Since it was a couple of hours before the start of the race, we spent our time waiting in the DetermiNation tent. There were snacks available, tattoos, and garbage bags to keep us warm (it was quite windy) and the best part? Our private porta-pottys! This is a big deal generally at races because the lines tend to get long but surprisingly at this event, the restrooms were abundant!
Hanging out in the DetermiNation tent before the race
Members of the DetermiNation team before the race
As we waited to move over to the race corrals, I had a chance to catch up with some members of DetermiNation. One member of team ArkanSassy wore Jeff’s cape. It was a visual reminder of why we were running and it was just a powerful powerful statement (his memorial was the evening before the race).
I also had a chance to see some of my running friends from Atlanta. My friends Chiquita and April were running their very first half marathons and it was great to be able to give them encouragement before the race.
Me and Chiquita
me and April
At around 6:45 it was time to head to the start line. I was in corral 14 – there were 25 corrals in total and started the race at about 25 minutes after 7 (it was a staggered start which was great to keep the flow of the crowd moving efficiently).
I started the race at a pretty good clip. I knew the course was flat and wanted to take advantage of that in the beginning of the race. Although I know of many cautionary tales of starting out too fast, I decided I wanted to just test myself and figure out the best method for me during races. This is all brand new for me, I call myself a “meanderer” and don’t “run” races I typically jog. But I wanted to do better this time out. My first few mile splits were about 9:30 not too fast but not slow and I figured I was making up time that I was bound to lose at the tail end of the race. And although I wanted to “Do Well” I still took time to “enjoy the mile I was in” and take pictures along the way. I was particularly inspired by the firefighters running in FULL gear – even oxygen tanks. Not only was I inspired but motivated – my competitive spirit kicked in, no way were firefighter carrying close to 100 pounds of gear goig to beat me! So I caught up with them, snapped a few pictures and continued my race – ahead of them!
Around mile 5 there was a champagne stop set up by members of the community (sorry the photo is so dark). And if you know me, you know I run for drinks so of course, I stopped for champagne! It was New Orleans after all and I could not resist both the story and a little fun and festivity along the way!
Just a sip and about a half-mile up I also stopped for water – had to stay hydrated!
As is par for the course at all Rock n Roll events, there were bands at every mile or so. I kept my pace fairly steady, averaging about a 10 minute mile or so for the duration of the race. I have to say the last mile or so was pretty hectic. A museum was ahead of me and I “thought” it signified the end of the race – I’m pretty sure I saw a sign that said Mile 13 but it CLEARLY was in the wrong place because that .1 felt like a full mile! Anyhow, after running through the historic French Quarter, passing more drink stations (I did not stop for alcohol) and enjoying the race, I finally hit the finish line ! I crossed it with a smile on my face, obtained my lovely finishers medal and proceeded to look for the DetermiNation tent.
I was welcomed to the tent with cheers and cowbells! It was such a moving experience!
And of course, the best ending to my birthday celebration was finishing the race with a personal best time of 2 hours 18 minutes and 30 seconds! I ran with DetermiNation, in honor of Susan and I was TRULY happy!
I told Coach Jeff how his mantra – “enjoy the mile you are in” carried me during the race and of course seeing his smiling face when I entered the finish line tent was priceless!
There was food laid out for all of Team DetermiNation and ice packs to ease sore muscles. I failed to mention how I had to stop along the way to put bio-freeze on my achy calves and was limping for my efforts but I rode the pain and ran my best so that is all that matters!
Overall, I have to say that this was one of my favorite half-marathons. I enjoyed the course, the entertainment and of course being an honorary member of the DetermiNation team. I highly recommend running withDetermiNation. The support from everyone was amazing and of course joining in the fight against cancer for More Birthdays is icing on the cake of a personal victory of running an endurance event.
You can find a complete listing of the DetermiNation events on the website and I can tell you if you aren’t ready to run this year, I think NOLA Rock n Roll is a perfect event for you next year! I KNOW I’ll be there!