I started in the party corral. (At least, I like to think of it as the party corral since we were all having so much fun – me and my brand new friends (aka strangers only minutes ago) Annette, and first timers Sean, Shemane, & Melissa.)
I ended up starting at the very front of my corral. So when I took off to an empty road ahead, for 5 hot seconds I pretended like I was actually racing (to win) a half marathon.
There were awesome spectators at this race! Some of the proceeds went to benefit the American Cancer Society, and woman held a sign saying, “Thanks! – survivor ovarian cancer 6 1/2 years – stage 3.” She high-fived a bunch of us as we went by.
Speaking of high-fives, these kids made signs, and they were all about cheering for people as we passed. Multiple people thought the kids were cool and stopped for pictures with/of them, so hopefully the kids felt good about their good deed.
Yes, I realize how hilarious it is that just last week I was talking about all the traffic from picture taking. We had wide roads here. People stepped off to the side for pictures. I tried to use good picture taking etiquette, as did everyone else I saw. I didn’t experience any traffic jams.
There were tons of families that came out to watch the race together. It was adorable. There was a family with a young kid in a stroller. The mom would point to runners and clap. She was teaching the little kid early on how awesome running is. I thought that was so cool.
There were cheerleading squads from various schools. Shout out to the girls from Gretna Middle school for having tons of enthusiasm both times I saw them, and for giving tons of high-fives and screaming for everyone who went by!
Some people came out with sweet signs such as “Dear Stranger, you’re my hero.” Some people had funny signs including “You’ve got stamina. Call me tonight.” There was even a group of people who brought a makeshift beer area for people around mile 9-ish.
Not only did this race have energetic spectators and sweet volunteers, it had incredible runners. I saw a man who was kind of limping (in mile 1). I’m assuming he’s fighting back after an injury. I saw a woman whose shirt said, “I have triplets. What’s your excuse?”
I have a feeling there were thousands of inspirational stories surrounding me. (Heck, anybody who was out there, no matter what his or her story was, finished a half marathon, so I think every one of them is inspirational!)
Speaking of inspiring runners, there were Army soldiers who did the whole thing with their big packs on their backs, one carrying the American flag. Incredible.
Fabulous spectators, volunteers, runners, but don’t forget about the bands! This is my 3rd Rock ‘n’ Roll event of the year, and they always have fun bands playing their hearts out for us. But, there was something special about the New Orleans bands – there were a bunch of jazz bands here! I passed tents with tubas thumping, saxophones singing, trombones blaring. It was wonderful.
Now that the whole 13.1 mile scene has been set, let’s bring it back to the beginning. In the first mile, I saw a few people run into the McDonald’s. I’m sure they went just to use the bathroom, but I got a kick out of the idea of runners going up to the counter with their bibs on – “yeah, may I please have a Sausage McMuffin?”
The first few water stations were on the left side of the street in this race. I thought it was a little odd, and I’m sure it probably drove some of the fast runners crazy to have slower people merging into their lane. I’m not fast, so it didn’t affect me. I just thought it was odd.
Around the end of mile 6, I was thinking it’d be nice to have a little pick me up. Lo and behold, as we came into mile 7, there was a water/Gatorade station. Sweet business. But they were out of Gatorade!
Will I make it through to the end without that great rush of electrolytes? Find out tomorrow.