Half marathon #3 is complete! First Rock N Roll race, check! This check-in is like a month post-race... I wasn't really feeling like blogging after the race. I felt more like race shopping like a crazy person :-P More on that next race later...
Heading into this race weekend I was really not looking forward to the actual RACE part of it at all. I knew I (once again) hadn't trained properly and thought it was going to be a painful 13.1 miles. BUT I signed up, I had done all of my fundraising for CCFA, I was flying to Louisiana and I was running it!
My game plan heading south was to enjoy exploring New Orleans with my teammates, go visit Villalobos Rescue Center to volunteer to walk the dogs and pace myself slower than my past half marathons so I wouldn't run out of juice by Mile 10.
We had two days in New Orleans before race day so explored a bit with teammates and got to check out the French Quarter a bunch of times since all of the Team Challenge runners were in a hotel right around the corner from the French Quarter.
This was my first time to New Orleans and I LOVED all the music everywhere! Just walking down the street you would hear a ton of hugely talented musicians. I am a huge travel virgin, so I don't really know if it's like this in many other cities, but I loved it in NOLA.
This was also my first real destination race and my first time traveling long distance with Team Challenge (last time we just went to RI, so we drove down and my friends and family) so it was cool to walk around exploring and hanging out with my teammates.
The Pasta Party the night before the race is my fav!!! It was at Mardi Gras World so we got to see a ton of amazing floats from the parades, which was wicked cool! I had no idea what to expect when I heard we were having dinner there. I've never seen a Mardi Gras parade so I didn't realize how HUGE and how MANY floats there would be!
During dinner we get to listen to a bunch of fellow patients and fundraisers speak (and try not to cry), congratulate our top fundraisers, hear about new research from the CCFA and really just enjoy each others company before the hard work of our race in the morning.
After the Pasta Party is when it really hits home that you are about to run a half marathon!!!! (Holy shit... what did we all sign up for?! ha!) After carb-loading we finished prepping for our 13.1 miles by staying up late ironing letters on our singlets and being hyper out of excited nerves.
Race morning is early....way too early for anyone in their right mind! All of the Team Challenge teams from across the country meet up in the lobby, take team pictures and one HUGE country-wide Team Challenge picture. It's actually really cool seeing all four-hundred-something of us one place!
Then it's off to the start line to stand in your corral and let your nerves build for another 30 minutes or an hour. I was assigned to a pretty low corral (meaning I was supposed to be fast), but I didn't think I should start there since I was going into the race with a "slow and steady" plan. I decided to find a TC friend and start in a higher corral with her. We didn't stick together for long, but I normally run alone so it wasn't a big deal. It really helps me stay at the right pace when I start slower and that would have been really hard for me being surrounded by faster runners at the start.
Once we were off I could tell pretty quickly that this was going to be a cool race. There were SO many spectators throughout the entire course with hilarious signs, tons of people cheering, offering drinks, Oreos (HAD to take one of those!) and even shots! Ha! They were clapping and yelling, formed a huge high-five line under a bridge where it was CRAZY loud, people were playing music (both through stereos and on instruments) and then of course the actual bands every 1.5 miles since it was a Rock N Roll race!
I ran into a few girls who spoke at the Pasta Party the night before and felt like I was talking to someone famous when I was chatting and running with them for a few. #TeamChallengeFamous They were super sweet and the coach they were running with was chanting military style to keep us going strong.
Running as part of TC with all of the national teams is amazing. The coaches and participants from all over the country take you in as their own, as if you were on their local team and they already know you, even when you just bump into them for a few mid-race. They chat with you, they pump you up, they encourage you, then cheer you on and reassure you that you are about to CRUSH a freaking HALF MARATHON.
As we ran we went through a ton of different neighborhoods that I hadn't had a chance to see yet. We went through residential areas with colorful houses, downtown, the French Quarter, parks and got to see trees that apparently always stay full of beads as we ran through town.
Running through so many different areas was awesome since almost the whole trip I stayed in the French Quarter and didn't get a chance to explore the rest of the city.
The miles ticked by nicely as I passed each band and each water stop. I passed my Team Manager cheering crazily for us at around 11.5 miles. I saw my coach at around mile 12 and he joined me for a few, assuring me that I was just about at the finish.
This was the biggest race I have ever run and I was REALLY nervous about the finish line being congested. I usually need to walk it off and feel like I'm about to pass out if I come to a quick stop after my pushing myself so hard.
I made it to the finish line and was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't as congested as I feared. I grabbed a medal, a water and every snack in sight and started walking to find our TC tent. The finish area was the first time I was kind of disappointed with this race. It wasn't clearly marked where to go and I wasn't given great instructions so I ended up walking the wrong way and a lot longer than I needed to find the Team Challenge tent. This wouldn't be annoying if I wasn't so tired from just running a half!
I finally found the TC tent and got to enjoy the last amazing benefit of being part of Team Challenge on race weekend: FREE FOOD.
All in all.... Amazing weekend. Amazing new friends. Loved the race. Loved my first NOLA and first Rock N Roll experience. Love Team Challenge fo' eva.
So much that got home from NOLA and signed up for my next TC event.
And this time.... a FULL MARATHON. I think I've lost it...
Thinking about joining me for a Team Challenge event?
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Check out my slideshow/video from this season of Team Challenge!
Hi, I'm Jessie!
I live in NH with my husband and our pups. My favorite things are coaching Girls on the Run, eating good food that I didn't have to cook, helping other people work on their health, volunteering for and running races, watching tv, doing yoga, and spending too much time on social media. #Balance