After the cancellation of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, Mom and I registered for the Rock n' Roll New Orleans half marathon. We chose this run because it wasn't too far from home, and St. Jude was one of their charities.
This was my first trip to New Orleans. I'm sad to say I didn't get to see many of the sites, because it was such a quick trip. We arrived around lunch time on Saturday in time to get our packets and tour the expo. We walked on Bourbon Street, so I could see what it was all about. I reckon I've led a pretty sheltered life, I was shell shocked at what I saw. I would have loved to see Jackson Square, but we didn't want to venture too far and have tired legs on race morning. We were staying near the St. Louis cemetery and had hoped to take the guided tour. Unfortunately it was closed when we got there, and it wouldn't reopen until Monday morning when we would be heading home.
There was a light drizzle and thick fog on race morning. Mom and I said goodbye to my Dad, and we walked a few short blocks to the starting area. We heard several people holler, "Go Heroes" to us while we were walking. If we got this much attention in New Orleans, I wondered what Memphis must be like on race day.
Since this was my first half marathon, my main goal was to just finish the race. Deep down I really wanted to run a sub 2:30 half marathon. Based on my training runs, I thought I was more than capable of reaching that goal.
Like with any large race, it was congested at the start. I did a lot of weaving in and out of the crowd during the first few miles. The first 6-7 miles were on St. Charles Street lined with trees and beautiful homes. There was no shortage of spectators. People were out on their balconies and front porches cheering. Family members set up alongside the road with signs. I saw a young girl with Down Syndrome holding a sign for her mother who was running the race. She brought tears to my eyes. It made me think of Raymond and how proud he would be of my mom and me. I took this as a sign that he was watching and smiling from above.
Just over an hour into the race, it began to rain lightly. Surprisingly, everyone around me started cheering. It was awfully humid that day and the rain felt refreshing at that point in the race. We ran past Jackson Square and through the French Quarter, but I couldn't see any of the sights because the fog was so thick.
I kept checking my Garmin. I had been running pretty even splits, each one under 11:00 minute miles. I knew I would reach my goal of under 2:30 if I didn't slow down in the last few miles. At mile 11, I wanted to slow down. My legs were tired and I couldn't wait to be finished. Just when I was debating whether to stop and walk, two other St. Jude Heroes ran up behind me and patted me on the back. "Looking good, Hero," they said. I thanked them and said that they were looking good too. They were the inspiration I needed to stay strong those last two miles. With this kind of support from fellow St. Jude Heroes, I again wondered what race day in Memphis would have been like.
Just after mile 12, volunteers motioned for the half marathoners to veer to the right while the full marathoners went straight. I was so relieved to be heading towards the finish. When the finish line was in sight, I checked my Garmin one last time. I was well under my goal of a 2:30 finish. I threw my hands in the air when I crossed the finish. It was a long, eight month journey, but I had finally finished my first half marathon.
There was a reunion area where families can meet after the race. There were areas labeled A-Z, so we decided ahead of time to meet at letter G for Go. I went to Letter G expecting to see my Dad waiting, but he wasn't there yet. Luckily, I had my cell phone in my SpiBelt so I called him to tell him I was finished. When he answered he was out of breath. He said, "I see the runners at Mile 12, so I must be at least another mile away." He decided to walk from the condo to the finish area. I tried to convince him to take the shuttle, but he said he didn't think it would be too far to walk. Turns out he walked almost 6 miles to meet us at the finish. He arrived at Letter G just before my mom.
Marc Broussard performed at the finish line. He's a very talented performer.
We stuck around to take pictures and listen to a few songs, but we wanted to get in line for the shuttle before it got too crowded. The shuttle buses loaded quickly and it wasn't long before we were headed back towards downtown. We rode over a bridge and I could see the marathoners still on course down below. I could only imagine what that must be like. At that moment, I was just glad it wasn't me still out there.
Official Finish Time- 2:21:21
Mile 1- 10:07
Mile 2- 10:38
Mile 3- 10:35
Mile 4- 10:57
Mile 5- 10:37
Mile 6- 10:48
Mile 7- 10:51
Mile 8- 10:32
Mile 9- 10:43
Have you ever ran a half marathon? If so, do you remember your first one?