I travel a lot for my job (currently in Bethesda Maryland!) which means I get to run in a lot of different places. It definitely makes it easier to check states off of my 50 states running list. 🙂 I went to New Orleans in October for a meeting and took advantage of the timing to run the Jazz Half Marathon. In addition to getting a new medal, which is always a perk, it gave me a nice way to get in that week’s long training run. Win win!
The expo for this race was very small and set up in a hotel meeting lobby. It made things very quick and easy to navigate, but it also meant that you wouldn’t have the chance to pick up any last minute things you might need. Always a concern if you travel for a race! I was out of Nuun and hoping I could pick up an extra tube at the expo, but had no such luck. Lesson learned: When you travel for a race, be sure you have all of your essentials with you. Regardless, it was great to be able to pick everything up and be out again within 5 minutes.
My biggest challenge on race day was that I nearly went to the wrong location! This was totally on me, not the race itself, but Jackson Square (which was what was stuck in my mind) and Lafayette Square are two entirely different places. Oops! I ended making it over to Lafayette Square with time to stop in the lobby of an office building for a real bathroom break (always appreciated) just before the race started. There weren’t any set starting corrals, but as the race wasn’t huge, that wasn’t a big problem. The 5K and half marathon runners were all mixed in together at the start, but the directions for the split were clear later on.
The first three miles ran through the business district, circling down by the convention center and up near the SuperDome. It was really flat, which is great, but the road was also a little tricky in places in terms of surfaces.
As we approached 3 miles, they had a clearly labeled split point for the 5K runners to peel off and the rest of us headed out to St. Charles Avenue for my favorite stretch of the race. I loved seeing the architecture and the Halloween decorations through the Garden District.
After a few miles along St. Charles, we had a nice loop through Audubon Park. While I’ve been to the zoo in New Orleans, I’d never actually been in the park. It’s lovely! It was also nice to see so many families out in the park. The Louisiana girl in me is also a sucker for Spanish moss.
The trip back up St. Charles Avenue was a lot less shady than it had been earlier and I was definitely tired after too many late nights (and too much alcohol), but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. One disappointing factor for the back of the pack was that the bands that were out for the first half of the race had packed up by the time we came through. I could have really used the distraction!
I will say that I had a personally nice little moment at the finish line. Some one I’d passed came up near me again and a couple of blocks out from the finish, I decided that I wasn’t going to be passed. I picked it up and left her in the dust (relatively speaking of course). As slow as I’ve been running lately while I’ve focused on longer distances, it was sort of fun to pick it up for a while and see that I could still do that, even at the end of 13 miles.
We finished the race back at Lafayette Square and it was a big party! I was pleasantly surprised by that. There was a band and tons of food options, which was nice. Somehow I missed the water in the finishing chute, which was disappointing but I think I found a new favorite: cold Diet Coke after a hot race! There were also food stations where you could get jambalaya and red beans and rice, as well as a beer stop. It was sort of fun to walk away from Lafayette Square with a medal and a beer at ten am. 🙂
There weren’t nearly as many costumes as I was expecting for a Halloween weekend race, but given the heat and humidity that was totally understandable! I definitely recommend this race as a great way to see a different, non-Bourbon street, view of New Orleans.
What’s your favorite thing to grab when you cross the finish line? (Other than your medal of course!)