Paige and I woke up pretty early because we had to drive about an hour from her Mom's house to New Orleans. It was a great drive because we got to see the sunrise! So pretty!
We followed the directions off the race website that told us where to park. Unfortunately when we got off the exit...the road was already blocked! There was no way to get to the parking garage we were supposed to park in. Luckily we found a parking lot close to the start line...instead of $5 it cost us $10 to park but at least we found an easy place to park.
We were super close to the Superdome where the start line was. We saw tons of runners running and warming up on the already closed streets. After stopping at the porta potties (we got lucky with short lines) we headed to find our corral. This was my first time running this race but Paige has run it before when there were no corrals. I was super thankful for a corral since there were about 17,000 other runners there!
Once in our corral we could feel the excitement in the air! There were so many runners! Paige and I were checking out everybody's shoes lol! I just love running shoes!!! Then it was time for the National Anthem. We could hear the singing over a loud speaker and we could see a band playing on top of one of the buildings. Then our corral started moving! It was almost time to start! The start was about 10 minutes late...but I heard later it was due to runners trying to get off the buses to the start line from City Park. You had the option to park downtown at the start or to park at the finish at City Park and ride a bus to the start line.
One thing that was different....everyone started running before we even got to the start line! I guess the corrals were pretty evenly spaced out and there was tons of room so everyone started running. Usually in a race you can barely move until you cross the start line.
Of course there were those that never even ran. They were walking right from the start...in the middle of the street! Ugh! Please move over to the side if you're going to walk so us runners can get through! It was like that the whole race. We were constantly weaving in and out of people. (Ok...rant is over!)
The one thing I was looking forward to during this race was watching the other runners. I've heard this is THE party race of New Orleans! It's hard to see but in this picture the girls in the tutus were pulling a wagon that had a cooler and possibly a keg in it! WHAT??? Lol!
Within no time at all we were at mile 1. And so many memories were coming back of when I ran this route for Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half in February and my first full marathon in March 2012. Mile 1 is where mile 8.5 is in that race AND where the Brooks Inflatable running guy is always set up! No Brooks guy this race though.
The race had a water stop at every mile...which was a great thing because it got hot! Paige and I worked out a system at water stops...she would grab water for both of us while I took pictures! She knows how much I like my pictures! I couldn't resist this one of this guy with Oscar the Grouch on his back!
After grabbing water we started running again. We heard someone yell out "Good morning New Orleans!" and we looked up at a balcony on a nearby building. There was a man dressed in only a bed sheet watching us run by! Oh my!!! Only in New Orleans! I tried to get a picture but it's hard to see him.
We were running through the French Quarter and past Cafe Du Monde and the French Market! We thought hard about stopping for a beignet but we kept going!
We saw several things on this course. There was a firetruck on the side of the road blaring its sirens...the people there were also handing out tequila and jello shots! There was another set up where they had signs that read "Free Beer, Water $4.95!" What was interesting to me...runners were actually drinking the alcohol! Crazy! Like I said...only in New Orleans!
Then came mile 3! The miles really were flying by! Paige and I couldn't believe we were halfway done!
Around the 3 mile water stop we ran into a man wearing flippers!!! I of course needed a picture with him!!!
He told us the flippers weren't working out too well for him...he had blisters on his feet. He had run this race years ago as Big Bird and the flippers were what was left of his costume. It had been 16 years since he had run this race and he wanted to do it again. What an inspiration! Paige was very concerned with his blisters and as soon as we saw the medics she stopped to tell them to watch for him. She is such an awesome person!
While she talked I took pictures of these signs that I thought were so funny!!!
We saw some other fun sights running down Esplanade. This guy was in a jailbird suit and the guy from the band that was playing on the side of the street ran beside him for what seemed like a while! It was super funny! We hollered at the guitar guy and he started running with Paige for a bit too! But I couldn't get my camera ready in time to get a picture of him running with her.
We also saw the Easter Bunny on the route!!! I stopped to take a picture with him and the idea caught on. Several runners lined up behind me for a photo op. What can I say? I'm used to stopping for character photos in Disney races lol!
Mile 4 came before we knew it! We were having so much fun that the race was flying by!
We entered City Park and the memories started flooding back to when I ran the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon.
At this point in the marathon I was sooo ready to be done. But this time I actually enjoyed my surroundings and where I was running! We made it to mile 5...which was mile 25 in the marathon. It was also where I saw my hubby at the marathon and the memories and emotion from seeing him at that mile marker on that day came flooding back!
Paige and I started running a lot faster then. We were feeling great and had the energy to pick up our speed till the finish. We rounded the corner at the New Orleans Museum of Art and we knew the finish line was near. We reached it before we knew it! My official time was 1:11:57...about 6 minutes slower than the Azalea Trail Run last weekend...but this race was a lot more crowded and there was a lot more to see.
After we went through the finish line we immediately came to an abrupt stop...with thousands of other runners! We started feeling claustrophobic but knew our finisher medals were near. We found out that they were handing out water bottles to everyone and then the medals. It was so crowded. My opinion is the water and medals were too close to the finish line. They need to move them down some so that the runners coming through the finish line have a place to walk a ways before getting stuck in the crowd of people.
After about 10 minutes we finally got our medals and were able to escape the sea of people. We headed towards the Race Fest.
The post race party had free beer, water, Gatorade, red beans and rice, and jambalaya. There was a huge stage with bands playing! New Orleans really knows how to put on a party!
Amazingly I was able to find all the people I was wanting to see at the after party! I ran into Heather from Heather's Looking Glass! I also got to meet Liz from Southern Charm! All three of us are Claim Your Journey Ambassadors!
I also got to meet Brandon, the founder of Claim Your Journey! He had been training to run this race under 40 minutes...and he did it!!! He ran it in 39:50!!! Such an inspiration!!! We got an ambassador picture (unfortunately Heather had already left) and I also got to meet ambassador Theresa!
On our way out we ran into Melanie, her husband Ali (who ran the 10K in 36 minutes!!!), Larisa, her husband Donald, and Shannon!
After chatting a bit, Paige and I decided to head home. We had to wait in a really long line for the bus to take us back downtown. Once we made it back to the Superdome it was like a ghost town! It was so quiet! Hard to imagine earlier that morning there were 17,000 runners hanging out!
Paige and I headed back to her Mom's house where we showered and then went to a crawfish boil! Perfect food to refuel after a race!
And of course I have to show you my race shirt, bib, and medal! They were awesome!!! And yes...the runner guy on the medal spins!!!
Overall....this race was a blast! We had so much fun running it! Will I run it again next year? Absolutely! Paige and I already talked about making this an annual race!
QOTD: What is your favorite city to run in?