Rock N Roll NOLA Recap: Part 2

6 Feb

Well here it is what you have all been waiting for. My recap of race day and the day I completed my goal of running a marathon. For part 1 of my recap which covered the expo you can click here.

So this post will covered everything (well as much as I can remember or can put into words ) that happened just a few short days ago on Feb. 2.

Sunday Feb 2.

After signing up for the FMRMC challenge (You can see my post on my declaration of my marathon goal here) in May it was hard to believe that I was about to run a marathon.  The night before I told my mom and brother that we had to be in the car and on the way to drop me off (the start line was about 3 miles from the finish where their parking space was so that would have to drop me off in the designated runner drop-off area) that we had to be out of the hotel and in the car by 5:45 at the latest.

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So Close to race time!!

I woke up aroung 4:30/4:45 and started getting ready. I ate my handy dandy, always eat before a run Luna bar, put on some body glide (which ended up being a life saver let me tell you!) put on my race day outfit and took a couple of pics with my mom. Somehow my outfit was completly orange and purple (orange shirt, orange socks, orange hairtie, orange flipBelt, attempted orange nails with stupid nailpolish that wouldnt dry right, purple sports bra, purple pants, purple race bib, purple headband).

Finally we left the hotel (After my mom and brother were moving a little slow) and were on the way to the start line, albiet later than planned. Perhaps I should mention that I stress out if I’m running late and like to be extremely early to things, so naturally running late I started to stress out.

My mom dropped me off at the runner dropoff area and they went to the finish line ot find their parking spot.  I went and had to walk a few blocks with runners as far as I could see to the starting park whichc had gear check (with rows and rows of UPS trucks), port-a-potties (with lines as far as the eye could see) and a few light refreshments (like bananas).  Since I wasn’t able to meet up with my running group the night before (hotel far away and I was ready for dinner at 4:30)  I wanted to be able to meet up with them before the start, so I immediately jumped in the bathroom line. Slowly but surely it I finally was able to use the restroom and I heard that one unfortunate sole did not have a zipper on their pocket and their phone dropped into the port-a-potty!!! Bye Bye phone!

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After this I went straight to my corral as it was getting close to race time.

Unfortunately I did not even realize how far away my corral was. I was in corral 15 and instead of finding a road intersection to skip the first few corrals I started from the Elite and corral 1 and had to walk what seemed like forever and a day to make it to my corral. When I got there I found my running group! I found John who was running the half, Beth who was running the full and Tess (our leaders adult daughter) who had signed up for the full but was just going to run the half.

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From my corral looking forward

Did I mention there was a butload of people running this race? I just checked and it looks like it was just shy of 12,500 who finished the race (of those approximately 2,700 completed the marathon).  It took about 27 minutes from the official start of the race until I got to cross the start line.  They had the waves spread out about 2 minutes apart in order to help with crowd control and to get runners at least some sort of space.

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Finally made it to the starting line!

We got to the start line and then the let our corral lose on the city of New Orleans. Almost immediately I split off from my running group as I was doing a 2:30/1:00 interval for the race and they were doing other intervals. Before I go into the actual race here is a pic of the route:



How did I not see this crazy elevation map (the last 6 miles) until now?

The first 1/2 of the race (shown in purple) wasn’t too bad. It was pretty crowded because it consisted of both the marathoners and the halfers but with the waved start there was still plenty of room to maneuver around people. Unfortunately New Orleans doesn’t have the best roads and it was filled potholes so that didn’t help too much and with having an interval plan I was kinda forced to stick to the sides on the crappier parts of the road so that I wouldn’t get in everyone’s way during my walking portions.  I actually saw a good amount of people and heard a good amount of beepers that indicated that people were doing some sort of run/walk interval technique for this race and it made me feel more at home.

The long out and back portion during this first part has some really pretty scenary. We ran by old historic houses and were huge and I’d say classic NOLA. There were some sections that had beautiful oak trees (at least I think oak) that lined the path and some of the trees even had mardi gras beads in them.  I took a few pictures during walk breaks some ended up kinda blurry and continued on.  Because it was near homes and some businesses there were plenty of spectators around (many with dogs) watching runners go by. Many had signs, and a few were giving out beer and the cheer sections were very enthusiastic.  A few people were dressed up as the characters from Monster Inc and had a sign that said “Nobody got time for Christopher Walken”.  Apparently someone had a sign (that I unfortunately misssed) that said something like “Run like the Tardis is waiting for you”. I got several high-fives and did a “touch here for power” on a sign and tried to enjoy the music both around me and coming from my ipod.

The first few water stops were extremely congested (especially being in the 15th corral) with cups and people everywhere.  Personally I think they should have had the water stops on both sides (they did for some of the later ones) so that people were not all forced to one side causing a bottleneck and slowing down.

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It didn’t take too long before I passed the 5:30 pace group for the marathon and I was feeling pretty good and excited at my potential finish time.

Anyways, before too long I could hear some cheering ahead and looking across the street you could see the race leaders and the pace bikes as they had long ago made the turn around and were heading back in. One thing that is great about the running community is that everyone is so supportive of everyone else.  I crossed the 5k mark in about 34:00 minutes and then the 10k mark at 1 hr 10 which was right on pace for my targeted time and a good pace to stay at, not too fast and not too slow.  Right around the 10k is when things started to change a bit.  The forecast for the race was rain and thunderstorms and up until this point there hadnt been any actual rain.  Around the 10k mark it started to rain some and then proceeded to get pretty humid and foggy.  Even though I had on some dry-wick socks I stepped in a puddle and got my shoe wet and ended up running in wet socks for about 20 miles (no fun). At one point around the French Quarter it got so foggy you could harldy see in front of you. Some spectators at this point even had pieces of donuts they were passing out to runners, but I (wisely) passed and continued on with my run.

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See how foggy and wet! You can hardly see the rocker dude, it was worse at other parts

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Why couldn’t I stop at Cafe Du Monde right then and there?

We run through the lower portion of the French Quarter and continue along at are between miles 12 and 13 when one of the first really hard things happened: the split from the halfers.

I wish I had taken a picture but it was during my running portion so I couldn’t but picture this: your reaching the split, you can hear the finish line music and celebration but you know that you still have 13 miles to go. They tell the fulls to keep to the left and the halfers to the right. What it looks like at this point is a packed can of sardines (not really but in comparison) on the right and an empty can with only 1.5 sardines on the left. It was here that you could really tell that there were 8,000 more people running the half than the full and you begin to wonder “what in the world gave me the idea to run a full?”

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So I continued along with the straggle of marathoners it it was here that I basically had open road. There was plenty of space around me and water stops from here on out were never a croud issue.  Just pass the 1/2 marathon spot I spotted my mom and brother (who I later found out got a little lost trying to find the parking lot and were afraid that they would get lost again so stayed near the finish the entire time so that they wouldn’t miss me, instead of exploring NOLA for a bit). I had slow down a little bit at this point (but still at a fairly good and regular pace, some of the slow downs attributed to the crowded water stops) and had passed the 1/2 point at 2:34 which put me on pace for a 5:10ish marathon (which I was estatic about). Back to the family. I spotted my family and my mom had the camera and a sign that said “GO Holley, Go Holley, Go Holley and Charlie” (I think she ment to say love Charlie, my dog, because he most certainly wasn’t running this race).  They gave me a bottle of water and my brother jogged with me for a short bit, which I thought was pretty sweet considering he was wearing jeans. He asked how I was doing and if I was going to make it, (and if I was near a walk break which unfortunately I wasn’t) took the bottle back and then I was off again.  Around here you could see the super speedy runners who were close to mile 25 (seriously how do people run that fast?) and spectators were genuinely cheering for both those at 25 and myself near mile 14.

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Now this 1/2 of the race was honestly pretty boring. There was literally nothing out there. There was much fewer spectators as there wasn’t many houses and towards the end of the out and back it basically just cement and Lake Ponchatrain (did I spell that right?) as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately it was not too long after that things started to go downhill for me. I’ve done a 24 mile run for training and a couple of other 20+ milers but this one just seemed to be much more difficult. For one thing my socks were wet and running in wet socks is no fun at all. For another somehow at mile 13 I did something to my ipod shuffle (I normally use my phone) and had it repeating on the same 3-4 songs for who know how long and then at another point somehow had it off (I guess a song didn’t play right or something) and didn’t notice for awhile. For another my stomach had started to bother me, perhaps it was the nerves, or the humidity combination but it was just not feeling right. As a result I took far fewer energy chews than I normally do because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep them down (and it seemed rather hard to chew for some reason at this point).  And then finally we had the bridges. Bridges that I did not really even expect to be coming up.

Now driving over a bridge is no big deal but running over 3-4 (two times on the out and back) is just torture, I ended up walking up most of them to try and save energy.  In all this uck my legs were getting tired and I began to negotiate with myself adding in another walk break here and there (which I know was a bad idea and I should have pushed through because this messed up my entire rhythm).

Everything seemed to go on in slow motion. It was around mile 18 that the 5:30 pace group surpassed me and I knew that I was in trouble (time wise) and that my awesome time wasn’t going to be so hot.

Meanwhile this stretch seems to go on forever and you almost begin to give up hope that the turnaround will ever come. Finally you hear several runners (who are ahead of you running in the opposite direction as they have made the turnaround) encourage you and those nearby you that it is indeed coming up soon. Sure enough just past mile 19 half way up yet another bridge was the turnaround.  Now someone please tell me, why would you have a turnaround half way up a bridge? That is just torture.   I crossed the 20 mile mark at 4:17 still slowing down (if I had fresh legs I could have finished the last 6 in just over an hr but that was definitely not the case).


Mile 23ish? I was exausted but still able to cheeze for the camera

I reach about mile 22 when I see Beth coming from the opposite way. I say hello and cheer her on, she is almost to the turnaround. I’ve really slowed down now and ended up switching my intervals to the opposite. What I should have done was stop my watch and then change the intervals to a 2:00/1:00 or a 1:30/1:00 but of course I didn’t.  At some point along the course I yelled “War Eagle” to another runner and at another point a spectator with martini glasses and a bullhorn had on a Florida outfit. I “ran” by doing the Seminole Tomahawk Chop in which she replied with some witty banter, it helped to put a little bit more pep in my step.

This point in the race was were you have to be mentally prepared. Most of the faster runners have already completed the race and there is some distance between yourself and others at some points. I would keep talking to myself saying “only X more miles to go, you can do this, your almost there…” etc. And if I haven’t mentioned it before my cognitive and math skills go far out the window when it comes to long runs so some of this, if spoken out loud, would have been extremely amusing to hear I’m sure.  At one point my watch died which is another indicator that the second half of my race was going much slower than anticipated. Of course it would have died unless I was under a 5 hr marathon but thats besides the point. Mentally it is a devasting blow. Originally I had borrowed my mom’s interval time and I was going to use it becasue I knew that my watch would die before the end but unfortunately hadn’t had time to learn how to use it so I decided against it.  Thankfully though I had brought my phone in my flipbelt and had an interval app on it. That ment no more music and random beeps in my ears for however many miles I had left to go, but it was far better then nothing.

I finally make it to mile 25 and the last water stop where I am practically dragging my feet. My entire upper body and head are like “yeah lets do this” while my legs are screaming “please stop!”. I get to the water stop and who do I see but my wonder running group leader Tammy. She walks with me for short bit and asks how I am doing (honestly I’m kind of surprised that I’m coherant at this point).  I’ll be honest (and kind of mad at myself) I walked the majority of the last mile because it feels like there was no end in sight. On top of that at about 25.5 there was a steep (extremely steep if you had just be running for hours on end) footbridge, or maybe cars went over it too couldn’t tell you at this point with photographers at the bottom. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.  I finally wind around this loop and here people telling me “your almost there”, which I was hesitant to believe but sure why not.

I see Tammy again and some white barriers and she tells me to smile when I cross the finish line for a good picture (I tried honestly but looking back at the pic, which I will post in a bit, in my head I looked alot better than what I actually did, lol). And then another guy tells me that there is only .2 mile left to go. Then kick it into gear and pass by some people walking near me.  I can hear the music and finally I can see the finish line and the people lining up near the shute. I’m so close I am determined as ever to finish this race. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t finish the race, although for a brief second or two during the tougher parts you almost want to think about it before you tell yourself to snap out of it.


Eye on that Finish Line Prize!


Now where was I? I’m closing in on the finish line maybe 150 feet out and I reach the edge of the crowd that is lining the finish line and they cheer for me when the unthinkable happens. MY IPOD FALLS OFF OF MY SHIRT AND ONTO THE GROUND!!!! I then had to waste precious time to turn around, bend down (ugggh) and get the ipod. Seriously of all times for it to do it it is at the very end of the race?  I grab my ipod at start running to the finish line (once again), I seriously am almost crying at this point and was probably seconds from tears. I can’t believe that I have done this and come this far on my running journey in such a short period of time. I lift my hand up in the air Rocky style (and no I haven’t seen the movies) and I have officially finished a marathon!

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Sweet race bling on a strand of mardi gras beads!

My official time was 6 hours 0 minutes and 20 seconds. While I know it didn’t take 20 seconds to get my ipod, if it hadn’t of dropped and I had done one extra running instead of walking interval I would have been in the 5 hr range.  While extremely excited I quickly became a little dissapointed at myself. I went from the chance of running a 5:10ish marathon to running one in 6 hrs. What can I say it is the competitive spirit within me pushing myself to do better that I know that I could have done much better.  I keep reminding myself however, how far that I have gone in terms of running in the past 9 months. That certain things couldn’t be controlled with the race such as weather, my stomach, etc that probably effected how I did, and that I have never run a full fledged marathon before. I accomplished something that the majority of the world would never even dream to accomplish.  I ran 26.2 miles (over 138,000 feet). I went to bed early on a Friday night when most of my peers were staying up late partying,etc so that I could get up early on Sat morning and run. I woke up at 4:30 am on some occasions (ended up having to run most of the mid week runs on my own because even that was too early for me) to make it to a 5 am group run in the middle of the week.  And if I have to I will continue to tell myself this over and over and over again any time some seed of doubt or some thought of judgement or comparison starts to creep into my mind.  Everyone is on a different journey. Sure some people finished the marathon in under 3 hrs, and to some people this was this 18th millionth marathon.


I did it! I ran a marathon!!

But I have to remember that :

My name is Holley and I am on my own running journey and I ran a marathon in 6 hrs.

(P.s) I was going to include post race stuff, what I did in NOLA, etc but realized how long this post was getting, so instead of 3 parts there will now be 4. Part 3 will be post race and Part 4 will be what’s next in my running journey.

(P.p.s) I decided to buy my race photos this go around (even though they were kinda expensive, but I completed a marathon people!) and have included some on here with a mix of some of my own photos. Of course many of my photos look crazy bad (personally to me) and some of them just so happened to be on a walk interval so they look like I’m doing nothing….



6 Responses to “Rock N Roll NOLA Recap: Part 2”

  1. Mike Moreau (@mikemoreau85) February 6, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    Good job on finishing! Race recaps are always fun

    • holleyjollybaker February 7, 2014 at 11:28 am #

      Thanks! It was definitely like I was reliving the race writing this up!

  2. agilityfan February 7, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    i cried! well done you!!!


  1. Fitbug Orb Giveaway | The Fat Girls Guide To Running - February 27, 2014

    […] each month, and 25 amazing ladies came on a journey with me to train for their first ever Marathon, Holley being the first to complete her full marathon last month, and Diane at the weekend just past, ran […]

  2. Fitbug Orb Giveaway | The Fat Girls' Guide To Running - March 11, 2015

    […] each month, and 25 amazing ladies came on a journey with me to train for their first ever Marathon, Holley being the first to complete her full marathon last month, and Diane at the weekend just past, ran […]

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