Training Motto: No Training, No Motto
My work called me to travel to Lake Charles Louisiana for a project that was scheduled to be only five days, but due to some unforeseen forces of nature, it turned into 28 days. By Wednesday of the first week, it was clear that we our project was going to spill into the next week and that meant “what to do for the weekend?” Luckily the brand new hotel (Holiday Inn Express) had DSL connections in every room, so I immediately got online to check out local races. The only “local” races I found were the Mardi Gras marathon and half marathon in New Orleans, some 3 hours away. I had just ran a half marathon on February 9th and it was New Orleans, right after Mardi Gras. Since the race was on Sunday, it gave me the opportunity to make the journey after work on Saturday. So logistically, the race was feasible. Now my dilemma was “Do I run the Half marathon or do I run the Full marathon?” The only running items I had packed was a coolmax tshirt, a pair of coolmax socks and a pair of shoes with about 20 miles on them. I had planned on the new shoes to break them in, not to run a marathon. So, equipment wise, I was not prepared AND there was the complication of having only logged in 41 miles (total) for the entire year, 13 of which was at Straw Plains the weekend earlier. I was “prepared” for the half marathon, but I didn’t know when I would get another opportunity to run the marathon in Louisiana, so I went for it.
I figured I would run not for a PR, but more for the experience.
The weather proved to be very ideal, it was neither too warm nor sunny during the entire race. The course itself is the perfect course for the first time marathoner, it is very very very flat. It makes Neyland Drive look like the Wears Valley course. There was only one hill, or rather an overpass, which was the course’s only change in elevation and that last for less than a tenth of a mile. The course was picturesque; it wound though the outskirts of the French Quarter and some of the older parts of town.
Unfortunately, there were a few problems, most of which were in the first half of the course, where the marathoners and half-marathoners were sharing the course. I had no problems with the other runners, but the water stations were undermanned during the first half of the race. Two kids, who were feverishly scooping water out of large trashcans for the runners, manned the first water stop at about Mile 4. I knew it was not the kid’s fault; after all they were working as fast as they could. The next couple water stops were much the same way. It seemed the first wave of people had depleted the water tables and now that us “middle of the packers” were showing up, the water stations could not keep up. At the mile 8 water stop, it turned into self-serve. If you wanted water, you had to stop, get a cup and scoop the water yourself. There was only one water stop in the first half that was decent, so if I was just doing the half marathon I would have been very upset.
After the halfway mark, it seemed like a different race. It was obviously less crowded. The water stations were adequately manned and well stocked with food and liquids. One water station was sponsor by a group of men and women who wore red dresses. Yes, even the guys had the dresses on. It was actually a relief to experience a funny site as a bunch of guys in red dresses handing out water and gels. Also, there was a water station that was made up like M.A.S.H. In fact, most of volunteers were dressed up as MASH characters. I even saw a runner get a kiss from Hot Lips Houlihan!
For me during the race, I had one significant negative split mile which was at mile 13 but that was the only mile that was outstanding all the others were normal. At about mile 14, I was being to get very hungry, enough that I was starting to feel a little nausea. So at the next food table, I grabbed a few pieces of Clif bars (they cut the bars into manageable chuncks) and some Keebler shortbread cookies with the chocolate stripes. After eating the shortbread cookies, I felt like I was on top of the world. In 5 seconds after eating the cookies, I as feeling great, and was able to focus back onto running. The second half of the course is a out and back loop where the turn around is a 2 mile loop in a park, this is where the 4077 unit was located, I believe you entered in at mile 19 and exited just past mile 22 or something like that. It was in this park that my legs were starting to feel the fatigue of marathoning. I was forced to stop and stretch my legs for a about 10-15 seconds each mile from here on out. I was pleased that once I was feeling tired, I could stretch and then proceed to start running again without any sort of walking. The finish line was right in front of the super dome and the last ¾ mile or so was running along outside of the dome. In the last half mile is where all the crowd support was for the marathoners, and like normal, I was able to mentally unlock my legs and give one last kick to the finish line.
As for me, I finished in a decent time 4:38. I did a lot better than I thought I would do with new equipment and little to no training. I was disappointed that the sports massages were closed by the time I got there; don’t us slower people count too? The food was plentiful after the race, so that was nice.