Mardi Gras Marathon Recap

Mardi Gras Half Recap.
For my first half marathon training I essentially started training seven months out.  Of course that was because I had not been running at all.  When I completed the half in October, I strongly considered running the full marathon, but I soon realized what a time commitment the training would be.  I started running again after Thanksgiving with hopes of running the half and finishing faster, but there was one big problem.  This was right in the middle of school finishing up, the holidays, friends leaving, us moving and much traveling.  So I was behind when January came around.  The Mrs. and I decided on a plan of slowly increasing our mileage as we got closer to the race.  We ran between two and five miles a couple of times a week, and we did long runs on the weekends.  This ended up be a good and bad strategy, but more on that later. We knew this plan would not allow us to PR, but we wanted to run for fun.
This was our biggest race to date and the first with an expo.  We had a great time with friends on Friday night, and then we went back on Saturday by ourselves.  Since Brooks was the main sponsor, they had a great setup in the store and I absolutely loved their Cavalcade of Curiosities.  We got to hear Kara Goucher speak on Saturday afternoon, and that was a lot of fun.
Finally race morning came.  We woke up around 4:45, and ate some breakfast.  About an hour later, our ride arrived, and we were off.  Because the start and finish line are in different parts of the city, our driver dropped us off, and we walked to the starting line.  We found our corral and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  From the time the race officially began and our corral left, we waited another 45 minutes, but eventually we got started.  The Mrs. and I really like to start races together, and since we were in such a big group of people, we stayed together for about the first two miles.
After that, I sped up a little bit, and ran the next six miles at a pretty good pace.  When I got to mile eight, I could tell that my training lacking.  I was starting to feel tired, so I walked a couple of blocks.  By that time we were back downtown, and I could hear bagpipes.  There is something about running between tall buildings to the sound of bagpipes that motivates me, and so I picked up my pace again.  When we made it to the French Quarter, Brooks had a huge blow-up arch over the road.  It was a guitar player and his legs were the arch.  It was hilarious.  That was the last time I enjoyed any part of the race other than the finish line.  As we neared Cafe Du Monde, the smells of the restaurants and the French Market were too much to take.  I started feeling sick.  At mile ten, we turned on the historic Esplanade Ave.  It is a beautiful street, but a terrible road.  It was so uneven and broken up, that I was worried I might fall in to a hole and never be heard from again.  The last three miles for me were pretty miserable, but it was during these miles that learned how emotional running can be.  I think I went through the gamut of emotions as I ran along this road.   At one point I swore never to run again.  I wanted to cry. I was mad at the road. Then I saw the finish.  I saw a family wearing all crimson, so with all I had I gave them a hearty Roll Tide, and sprinted to the finish line. I was ecstatic to see the finish line.
In the chute, I was greeted by some of the nicest people I have ever met.  They just kept handing me things.  Chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, protein bars, pretzels, bananas, blankets, and of course a shiny medal on a necklace of beads were there waiting on me.  Some people wanted to take my picture.  I felt so sick the whole time.  I just wanted to sit down, but there was no where to go.  Finally I found a spot at the end of the chute to sit and wait on the Mrs.
She called me when she finished and I went to her so we could have our picture made, and then we tried to find a way to leave.  We had made previous arrangements with a friend to pick us up so we could go eat.  We called him and started making our way to him slowly.  We both felt too sick to go eat, so we asked our friend to take us home.  I was so worried we would be sick all day, but after a shower and a nap we both were starving and everything was right in the world.
Interestingly, as I look back on our training plan for this race, the lack of miles definitely contributed our lack of preparedness, but I think it kept our legs fresher.  My legs felt just fine the next day at work.  It just felt like a tough workout the day before.  The worst part was my foot began hurting.  I have only ran twice since the race, but it is finally feeling better.
Overall, I loved the race and hope to do my first full marathon next year.  Any tips?


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