I had a love/hate thing going on with the Rock n Roll New Orleans races. I ran my first marathon there in 2011 and it was a perfect experience. I signed up again in 2012 and had a not-so-good experience: inadequate fueling on my part, unrealistic pace expectations on my part & a really really crowded course. Ultimately, I decided just past the half-way mark to turn around and cross the finish line with the half-marathoners. I spent the rest of day hating myself for wasting four months of training.
This year, I was recovering from IT band issues, and I knew I wouldn't have the base mileage to run the full OR the half. Fortunately, RnR gave me another option: the half-relay. My sister-in-law lives in Baton Rouge and she has been running, so I asked her to team up with me. I took the first leg, 7.5 miles pretty much up and back on St. Charles, and she took the second leg, 5.5 miles through the Quarter & up Esplanade to City Park. Here's a shot of us at the relay handoff.
While nothing will ever compare to running my first marathon, the relay was one of the most enjoyable races I have ever run. #1: NO PRESSURE -- It's not like we were going to win so I wasn't competing against the other runners. More importantly, this wasn't a distance I've ever raced and likely won't race again, so I wasn't competing against myself. #2: RnR stepped it up BIG TIME this year. Elite runners included Olympians Mo Farah, Shalane Flanigan and Kara Goucher. Mike McCready of Pearl Jam played the National Anthem pre-race. Dirty Dozen Brass Band played at the post-race party. #3: It was a fun bonding experience with my SIL. We spent the weeks leading up to the race texting and emailing each other about running gear, team names, and what to wear. It sounds like she's already signed up for her next race. I'll bet we run more races together in the future. #4: I travelled with two lovely friends and we made it a much-needed girls weekend. They both ran the full marathon with spectacular times. Did I mention that the getaway was Much Needed? Sometimes we need to be reminded of who we are apart from our families and our jobs. Life has been particularly hectic the past few months and it doesn't show signs of getting any easier. I am so grateful to have an outlet for that stress and even more grateful for the friendships that I have gained since I discovered my running habit.
After 2012, I said I wouldn't run this race again. In 2013, they won me back.