January 23rd arrived, and Dani, Diane, Angela, and I were meeting at my house at 3:30 PM to head to New Orleans (NOLA) for the Rock N Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. We all piled into Dani’s Prius with our luggage, snapped a picture of our awesome packing job(4 girls and their luggage for a weekend in a Prius was an achievement in and of itself), and we were off.
With a quick overnight stop in Mobile, AL, we arrived in NOLA around 11AM on Jan. 24th. We headed straight to the expo to pick up our bibs. The Rock N Roll branded races always have a big expo with tons of Brooks gear, and packet pickup has always gone smooth at every one I’ve been to. This one was no different. We grabbed our packets and headed into the expo. I passed on the logo stuff, but I did want to look at the vendor booths for a new belt since the belt I had wouldn’t stay up with my phone in it, and I wanted to carry my phone since I was totally unsure as to what was going to happen in this race. I found a belt by Fitletic ( http://www.fitletic.com/?gclid=CI3qi7yDuMMCFUpp7AodTFkA7A ) that looked promising, so I decided to buy it to try. After walking away, I started thinking about what my plan was for fuel and hydration if I did decide to run the marathon. I quickly realized that I didn’t really have one, and I started trying to think through what I needed. I wasn’t really sure about how I was going to fuel and hydrate for the marathon if that was what I decided to do. For the half, I could simply take Ucan prior to the race and carry my handheld with Osmo, but this whole possible marathon thing meant I might be out there for 5-6 hours, so how the heck do I fuel for that?!?! I had my handheld that I could concentrate Osmo in, and I had a gel flask that I could put Ucan in, but I’ve never taken Ucan in the middle of a run….that could be bad. Never try anything new on race day, right? Well, considering none of my runs have been long enough to need any fuel mid-run, I had no choice but to try something new. I didn’t really want to have a flask in one hand and a handheld in the other though. I’d be sure to throw them both down by mile 15. What to do, what to do? I headed back to the Fitletic booth to buy two small 6 oz bottles that you could add to your belt, so I didn’t have to carry anything in my hands. All the doubters who know me and are reading this should be starting to believe me by now that I REALLY didn’t have my mind made up about whether I was doing the marathon or half at this point. I ALWAYS have this stuff planned out ahead of time!
Off we went to check in at our hotel. We stayed in an older hotel called Hotel St. Marie that was close to Bourbon St. (maybe a little too close). The hotel was nice and had been renovated, and it was significantly cheaper than the ones closer to the race start. Our room wasn’t ready, but the valet took the car, and we stored our luggage with the front desk while we headed out for lunch. The rest of the day was spent walking and eating which is not typically the way I like to spend the day before a big race, but Angela and I realized that we didn’t bring any throw away clothes, and all I had were tank tops. The wind and temperature was colder than I had really expected or even thought about, so we both needed a sweatshirt to wear at the start. Luckily, there was an H&M store that carries inexpensive clothing. We both found sweatshirts that were fitting for this race.
After a day of eating and shopping, we finally settled into our room for the night. I gathered my stuff for the next morning, and I remembered I needed to set my watch for run:walk, so I decided to set it for 2 1/2 minutes run and 30 seconds walk.
I woke up at 5AM, and I had my cup of coffee and a protein bar. While getting everything together, I had a bottle of water, then about an hour before race start, I drank 3 scoops of Ucan vanilla cream with protein. I decided I’d put 2 scoops of Osmo ( http://osmonutrition.com/ ) in one of my 6 ounce bottles which is a little more than 2X the normal ratio, so it’s the equivalent amount for 16 ounces of Osmo. Since I was mixing it concentrated, I figured I’d just squirt about an ounce in each water cup I grabbed along the course since there’s only an ounce or two of water in the cups that are never filled. I knew that 3 scoops of Ucan would last me about 4 hours, so I would need to take something around 3 1/2 hours if I ran the full, so it could get in my system before I hit the wall, so I filled my other 6 ounce bottle with 1 1/2 scoops of Ucan mixed with water. I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to try that though, so I also stuffed two Gu’s and two Justin’s Maple Almond Nut Butter packets into my belt. Better to have choices than not was my thought at this point. I figured I’d be walking a lot, so I might want real food and I had used the almond butter on bike rides, but I used Gu last year before switching to Ucan, and I knew it can get me past the wall if I was hitting it, so I just carried them all, so I could decide in the moment.
With everything gathered and bibs on, we headed out the door for the start. We stopped by the front desk to ask the best route, and thankfully, the desk clerk instructed us to walk down to the street AFTER Bourbon St. (we were planning to walk down it) hang a right and head to the start. Off we went and unbeknownst to me, we were apparently getting in a mile speed walk for a warm up. 😉 On the way to the start, I started thinking about the 2 1/2 to 30 that I had set up on my watch, and I realized that for 26.2 miles that might really get annoying. Diane and I discussed it, and I decided to switch my watch to a 5:1. So, 5:1 was the plan at a 10 minute mile pace during the run part. This was decided on the walk to the START line, not the best planning strategy.
Arriving at the start, we stopped by the porta potties, then headed to our corrals. Angela and I went to the corral where the 4:15 pacer was. Angela’s goal was 4:15, and I went along just to have company until start time. I think Angela asked me again if I had made up my mind while we were standing there waiting for the start, to which I still replied….”we’ll see how the knee feels at mile 12.” The Star Spangled Banner played, and the corrals started moving forward.
To be continued…..