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Rock n Roll NOLA Part 2: The Race

Warning:  This will be a long post.  Go take a potty break now so you don't miss any of the action.  Also, a lot of the pictures are stolen from MarathonFoto.  Sorry MarathonFoto, but I'm not spending $40 for one picture.  I'd rather have PROOF written across my face.

You might think I was in New Orleans for 11 days based on how long it's taking me to write all of my recaps, but I just have a lot to say.  It's my blog, I do what I want (like Miley).  Feel free to check out my Part One and WIAW posts to catch up!

Our alarms all went off on Sunday morning at 5 am and we were up and at 'em!  It was Marathon Day!  The day we waited SOOOO long for after our cancelled St. Jude Marathon was finally here!  About SIX MONTHS of training was finally going to culminate in 26.2 miles of glory!  I ate my usual bagel with peanut butter and coffee and got dressed.  I even put a little makeup on to prepare for all of my pictures that I was going to look so CUTE in.  

We met up with our RUN365 buddy, Jay, for a picture, and I could feel the nerves starting to set in.  It was no secret that 20 miles was not easy for me, despite how easy 18 miles seemed.  Was I going to make it to 26.2?  And why is it so freaking hot and humid???  I had a banana and some Cherry Limeade Nuun that I was sipping on until I would be picking up my CamelBak from Daniela at Mile 14.  For the first time in my life, I found it hard to eat.  I had some crazy nerves, yet I was so ready to run!!

We found Abby, Mindy, Sarah, and Holly, and obviously had to get some pictures with them too!  Since Holly and I are both Nuun Ambassadors, we were excited to show off our Nuun tattoos.  

It's a good thing we got that picture, because Holly got cut out of this picture, although we did get photobombed again:

And me and my fellow Mizuno obsessor lover, Abby:

We were in corral 12 and it was our time to hit the start line pretty quickly!  I'm not sure exactly how long it took for our corral to get to the start but I'm thinking it was about 20 minutes, which is not bad!   As soon as I crossed, I hit start on my Garmin and I got nothing.  I had a satellite signal, but there was nothing.  Turns out a lot of people ended up having problems as well.  I decided not to worry about it, because Debi's older Garmin is super reliable!  The first couple miles involved a lot of weaving as we worked to get to our comfortable pace.  I was trying so hard to soak in everything, the people, the scenery, and the sounds.  The crowd support was amazing, but I couldn't help but feel HOT.  It was such a change to go from training in 30 degree weather, to racing in 70 degree weather and 500% humidity.  

I was so excited when we hit the first water station and I made sure to grab some Gatorade too since it was so hot.  I wouldn't be getting my Nuun until mile 14 and I knew I was going to need some electrolytes.  The water stations were a bit of a cluster f*ck, in my opinion.  I came up to a water table and grabbed a cup, and it was empty.  They were still pouring water even though thousands of us were coming through!  But to be fair, they probably didn't expect for it to be as hot as it was!

Mindy takes the best race photos ever and she shared some of her tips with us!
I think it was around mile 4 when the trouble started.  I had noticed that I kept feeling a little light headed and that I had goosebumps despite the heat.  I told Abby and Debi that I felt like I needed to walk for a minute and as soon as I slowed down, I felt even worse.  How could this be happening?  I felt like I had done everything right.  Debi and I normally eat half a bag of Honey Stinger chews every 5 miles, but we decided to fuel up a little early.  Each chew felt like I was dying a slow death even though I love them and would eat them like candy on a regular day.  Something was definitely wrong.  

I remember stopping at a water station and feeling a little lost for a minute.  I looked around and it felt like I wasn't even in my body.  I trained for 6 months to become an effing marathoner and here I was, crashing before even hitting the half.  I found Abby and Debi again and we decided I definitely needed to stop at the next medical tent.  At that point I was super out of it, tingly, and having a weird tightness in my face which I still don't know what that was about.  The awesome ladies had me take some salt and drink some gatorade that they poured salt into.  This was not delicious.

I was clearly not feeling so great

I got filled up on salt and decided to keep moving on.  At this point I think I had some brilliant idea that I could walk the freaking marathon.  Looking back now, this had to have been the dehydration talking.  I was there to RUN a marathon.  My sweet angels, Debi and Abby, suggested we try some run/walk intervals but I was toast.  I think it was around mile 9 that we saw Daniela and she had my CamelBak with Nuun.  I was so hopeful that it would clear my brain.

via Daniela

Unfortunately, it was too late.  I knew I had a decision to make.  There was no sugar coating it, I was not going to be running a marathon that day.  Abby texted Sarah and it was decided that Sarah, Mindy, and Holly would take care of me and I would finish the half with them.  It was also around this time that Jay met up with us.

What do you see in this picture?  A beaten runner?  I see a lucky runner to have amazing friends on either side of her.

Side note:  Everyone should be lucky enough to have amazing friends like this.  Friends that stand by you at your absolute worst and never judge you for it.  Friends that have your back and help you make decisions when you aren't able to make them for yourself.

The other girls caught up to us and Debi and Abby were off to finish what they came to do.  I felt so horrible to have slowed them down.  I know both of them had goals of mostly just finishing, but it still sucked to be the weakest link.  Sarah, Holly, Mindy, Jay, and I did a run/walk until we came up to the split.  In all honesty, I totally thought about jumping left and turning for the marathon.  I still was in complete shock that I was headed down the half path.

We decided to just give it all we had to make it to the finish line.  If I was going to die, I could just die on the other side of the finish line.  I remember thinking this exact thought.

And then we were done.  There were tears.  A lot of tears.  I put my hand up and was rude to photographers wanting to take "victory" pictures.  I did not take a single picture with my medal.  I took no pictures with my friends who stuck by my side.  I was sad and wanted my kids to hug.  I was embarrassed and wondered how in the world I was going to tell my family and friends what had happened.

So what did happen?

Short answer:  I didn't bring my Nuun to the start line.  It's my fault.  I knew better.  Gatorade is disastrous for me and I should have avoided it at all cost.  But I didn't, and now I'll be waiting a while until I'm a marathoner.  Lesson Learned.

So how am I, emotionally?

I'm good.  I made the right decision.  Maybe I could have finished the marathon.  Maybe I would have passed out at mile 14.  Who knows?  I do know that there was no way that I wanted to be swept.  I'd rather finish my fifth half marathon than be swept.  There would be no way that I could have called myself a marathoner if I had been swept.  I'm at peace and even happy with my decision.

So what else did I learn?

I learned that I have some truly amazing friends.  Debi and Abby stuck with me while I was undoubtedly at my lowest.  They were my rocks when I needed them to be.  They basically made my decision for me.  And they both finished their marathons and I am so proud of them for that.  Sarah, Mindy, and Holly got me across that finish line and let me cry and be sad.  They took care of me as if I had known them forever.  And Sarah cussed and said the right things when I needed them.  And Jay.  Ugh.  Basically everyone needs a Jay in their life.  He is a rockstar and just a true friend.  I will take a little piece of each of these people with me when I finally run my marathon...

So I'm going to attempt another marathon?

Hell yes I am.  Maybe I need to pick one that is guaranteed to be cold, that's all.  But seriously, I failed at accomplishing a huge goal of mine.  All I can do is keep running and KNOW that I will cross that finish line eventually.

I know this turned into quite the novel, but I wanted my story to be told.  I want my daughters to know that you have to work hard to accomplish your goals.  And..."If at first you don't succeed, try try try again".  

Most importantly, please don't feel sorry for me.  This was partially my fault and partially something I could not control.  I love running with all my heart and I will be back on a marathon course this year!

The Best Surprise. Ever.