Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon Recap

If you missed my Rock N Roll New Orleans Expo Recap, click below:


On race morning, I began my usual morning routine – breakfast, tea, getting dressed, checking the weather…

As the weather app updated on my screen, I breathed a sigh of agitation. Already I knew it didn’t look good – they were calling for a high between 60-70 degrees, 96% humidity, and a 50% chance of rain. Also, it was incredibly foggy outside.

What do you do on days like that but put your best food forward and continue on?

Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon

So, that’s what I did. After a quick outfit change (from capri tights to a running skirt), I met Nicole and Francine in the lobby of my hotel to begin our short walk to the start line.

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While they met up with their running group, Jason and I took a few pictures. I have to brag on my husband for a moment here – he is such a good sport. The night before the race, he walked to Walgreens to get Tylenol and safety pins for me…then the morning of the race, he walked back to our hotel to get a set of headphones for me. Not to mention the fact that he was up with us at the start line before the race even began.

Yes, he’s amazing. Ok…back to the race! :0)

We decided to take a port-a-potty stop before the race and had to RUN back to our corrals to make it in time for the start…we might have been at the potties when the wheelchair start began…whoops.

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We made it anyway!

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Unlike last year, Louisiana Running Company was hosting pace groups for the race. (Last year, there were NO pace groups to be seen!)

Nicole and I decided ahead of time to follow the 4:30 pace group and stick with them as long as possible.

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We quickly discovered that following a pace group wasn’t in the cards for us that day. It was too hard to follow them with so many people around and the effort was zapping our energy too fast. We decided to say goodbye to the pace team around mile 2.5 and we watched as the the balloons slowly disappear out of sight.

Never fear, though – we were still having a great time! Nicole was fun to run with and it was her first marathon, I enjoyed experiencing it with her!

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As we bobbed and weaved through the crowds, we continued our journey through the streets of downtown New Orleans.

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This stretch seemed to go on forever, although it was only 4 and a half miles in length. When we finally reached the turn around point, we were both relieved!

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As we neared the French Quarter, the fog grew thicker and the air a little cooler. It was the strangest thing, it literally felt as if we walked through a wall and into a room filled with cool misty air! I know the temperature dropped several degrees. A friend of mine said someone shouted “It’s the Voodoo Apocalypse”!  Hah!

All joking aside, Nicole and I commented how sad we were for people ran this race from out of town – especially those who were there to see the sights. The fog was preventing all of that!

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We passed Jackson Square around mile 9 and a half, but where’s St. Louis Cathedral?!

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Mid-race beignets, anyone?

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I find it amusing that the course passes a cemetery around Mile 12…

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We reached mile 12 and I stopped for my usual 12 mile sign picture. Nicole asked why the tradition and I honestly didn’t know how to answer her – it’s just something I’ve done at every Half/Full I’ve run!

Also, I was shocked that we had reached Mile 12 already! Even though we had been running for 2+ hours, the miles seemed as if they had flown by!

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The full marathon course split from the half marathon not long after mile 12 and we couldn’t resist a silly picture! Which way should we go?

In my opinion, this split is the best and worst thing about this course. It’s the best thing because if you are having a bad race and decide to split off at the half mark, you can; and it’s the worst thing because the full marathon course takes you right near the finish line at City Park, then leads you out an additional several miles away from the park before bringing you back.

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After splitting from the half marathoners, this course thins out considerably (YAY)!

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Favorite sign of the day, hands down! It was Superbowl Sunday, after all!

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Along the 2nd half of the course, the bands and crowd support were considerably less noticeable. These guys were my favorite water stop of the day, though! They gave us bananas and SUPER water…definitely a boost when we needed it!

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The back part of this course is also the hilliest part of the race. Thankfully, this band was a the top of one of the worst hills! Loved their pick-me-up!

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The foggy, nasty weather also ruined this beautiful view of the river. Oh well.

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I’m not sure why I was still smiling here – I think it was because I thought I still had a chance to PR. This was also around the time my feet began to hurt, bad. I felt at this point the way I usually feel at the very end of a marathon. I knew I still had several miles to go – I began a mental check of what went wrong. That’s when I realized the streets – they were slick the ENTIRE way through this race. My body was working overtime because I was pushing myself AND running on wet streets.

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I also stopped around this point for a GU and to apply a little biofreeze on my knees.

Somewhere along this route, we spotted our friend (and Nicole’s coach), Stephen. He had ridden his bike out to Lakeshore Drive to cheer runners on. I can’t tell you how much of a pick-me-up he was!! I was very grateful to see a familiar face!

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The turnaround point for the Full is halfway up a bridge. What is that all about? Notice the timing mat at the turn around – meant to ensure that runners make their way up the entire length up the bridge. Not cool.

I can’t tell you how glad I was to be on the last stretch of this race. My knees were really bothering me by this point. (My left knee was hurting more than my right – which is the original knee that gave me all of the IT Band pain in the first place – you know, the rehab knee. Lovely.)

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I continued trudging on while applying biofreeze sample packs to both knees every 4 miles or so.

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The photographer caught us walking up an incline!

I don’t have many pictures from the last few miles of this race. I lost Nicole for a while but could see her in front of me if I looked hard enough.

At that point, I put my headphones in and began listening to my running playlist on my iPhone. The first set of songs to play were from the Frozen soundtrack. I had to laugh at the irony – just three days before this race, the streets of New Orleans and most of the southern part of Louisiana were frozen over – and here I was, running in 96% humidity with temps in the 70’s. This race was honestly one of the most miserable races I’ve ever run (weather wise). Don’t get me wrong, I love this race…the weather was kicking my butt!

We reached City Park and I caught back up to Nicole and tried to push it to the end. As I neared the finish line I realized that I wasn’t going to PR, so I paused and waited on Nicole to catch back up to me. I wanted to be with her as she crossed the finish line and became a marathoner for the first time!

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My friend Katie came out to spectate and even made a SIGN for me! I was so excited to see her (hence the grin on my face)!

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All smiles – I see the finish line!

Nicole and I crossed the finish line at 4 hours and 48 minutes.

I was exhausted, thrilled, and disappointed (in myself and the conditions) all at the same time. What a rush of emotion!

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We snapped this picture and as I turned around, I saw something I’ve never seen before at a race….

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…a finish line marriage proposal! How exciting!!

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After saying goodbye to Nicole, I set out to find Jason and Katie. She made the “arms” sign for Jason and I about died from laughter when I saw it! He’s a big jokester and that was the perfect sign for him. Good call, Katie!!

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Marathon #5 and my 5th Rock N Roll New Orleans race in the books!

I truly do love this race and hope to continue running it for years to come!

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We didn’t hang around the finish line festival long, but we did make our way to the Merchandise tent to check out their finishers shirts. I never knew about these special (for purchase) shirts until last year. This year’s shirt was adorable, so I bought it! :0) (It’s a few pictures down…)

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On our way out, I spotted my Goofy/Dumbo buddy Scott! He ran a PR in the marathon that day and was also a 5th year veteran!

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We chatted with Scott for a few, then boarded a bus to take us back to the downtown area.

After a shower and a little relaxation at Katie’s house, we grabbed lunch at ACME followed by dessert at CafĂ© Du Monde.

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Check out my awesome finisher’s shirt (that’s a pink fleur de lis on the front)!

Even though this race didn’t go as planned, there’s nothing I could have done about the weather. I have never hurt as bad as I did after this race and I attribute it to the slick streets and horrible weather – just an overall “off” day.

Do I plan on running this race again in the future? Absolutely. This is a beautiful course and Rock N Roll puts on a great event.

Stay tuned for a follow up post with final thoughts of this race. :0)

Have you ever participated in a Rock N Roll event? If so, what’s your favorite?


  1. Great recap! You did a great job of capturing all the key stops along the way with your pictures. Such a talented,multitasking runner! :) Thanks again for running with me. For me this will be a day I will always remember and I am so happy you were a part of it.

    1. Thanks, Nicole! I had so much fun running with you! Thanks for sharing your journey with me!! :D

  2. Congratulations on Marathon #5!!! I was so happy to see you after the finish. And I'm glad you got that pic of Jackson Square, it's hard to explain to people what it really looked like out there!!

  3. Awesome job, Karen - loved the recap! I totally would have been up for some mid-race beignets lol :0)

    The weather seems pretty crazy over there with it being freezing and then hot/humid a few days later. Glad you were able to have a fun time even in that yucky weather!!

    I haven't ever participated in a Rock 'n Roll race, but I've heard great things, so I'll definitely put it on the list of races to do in the future!

  4. Yay! Congrats to you and Nicole both! It's always better to run with a friend! I agree that the weather was so horrible! It made the run super tough. And that fog and cold in the French Market was crazy!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Mindy! This was definitely a tough run!

  5. I love that race, so bummed for all the first timers, the weather is usually beautiful! I hate racing in nasty weather. At Princess last year, it was so humid the humidity/wetness was weighing down my fake eyelashes I was wearing and I couldn't open my eyes easily, ridiculous I know, but it was so gross. Hopefully this year it isn't like that! Good job on finishing!

    1. Yes I agree, the weather is usually so pretty for this race! Bummer it was so yucky this year. I definitely hope Princess isn't like that next year!!

  6. This sounds like a great race!! I'm not sure if I'm going to do this one or the Louisiana Half for my Louisiana state, but the food in NOLA is swaying my decision!

    1. Both are awesome races - the Louisiana Half is a much smaller scale of a race, but the course is beautiful, too. That's a tough choice, best of luck deciding!

  7. Congrats Karen! I hope your knees are feeling better! I think I'm going to have to put this half marathon on my bucket list. I've heard nothing but good things!

  8. Sounds like a great race! Wish the weather would have been better, but glad you had a good time anyways! Tell me more about using bio freeze on your knee... Leave me some info on my blog... Never heard of this.. I'm curious about this..

    1. Thanks, Sarah...I just apply biofreeze on my knee throughout the race. It's kind of like Icy Hot. Disney has biofreeze in big pump tubs at their medic tents throughout their race course but RNR does not, so that's why I have to carry extra packs along with me.

  9. So sorry the weather was crappy but hey, you did the best you could at the time and you finished 26.2! That's all that matters! I've done RNR VA Beach and loved it (although it is very hot). I'll be doing it again this year along with RNR Vegas!

    1. Thanks, girl!! Oooh have fun in Vegas!! That looks like a fun race, too!

  10. That would have been a PR for me, so maybe you just ran my PR for me. So wonderful for you to stick with Nicole. You were a great friend to her.

  11. Also, I wanted to ask you about that knee brace. What is it suppose to do for your knee and is it helping? I asked my Dr if I would benefit by getting one and he said no. If my pain doesn't go away during running i'm thinking I might need to try one anyway.

    1. It's a neoprene knee sleeve I purchased at a local drug store (by recommendation of my PT). It definitely helps my knee feel more stable. I also apply biofreeze prior to putting on the knee sleeve.

    2. Does the sleeve relieve the tightness in your knee as you run?

  12. Great job Karen! Sounds like you had fun and how awesome that you ran with Nicole for her first marathon! Congrats!

  13. Great job, Karen! Our weather has been so crazy lately. I ran a 15K the day before your marathon and had to run over sand that was put down just a few days prior because of all the ice! The RnR series is on my 'races to run' list and I just might have to make it to NOLA to do that!

    1. That's so crazy! This weather is nuts...sure wish it would make up its mind! Yay! The New Orleans race is a good one!! :D

  14. Way to go Karen! It looks like you had a great time despite the less than ideal weather. I've participated in one Rock 'n' Roll Race and will be running my second RnR race next month in DC.

    1. Thanks so much! Ooooh DC is on my list! Would love to run it one day!

  15. Looks like we all had the same thoughts: Bummed about the weather/ fog and we should've stopped for beignets :)

    Congrats on your 5th marathon! That's awesome!

    1. Yes, definitely next time! Haha! Thanks so much, Abby!


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