First of all, the race was amazing. The group I went with was SO FUN. My mom came with me to be my support, my co-worker Meredith, who always seems to go with me on these trips and her friend, Justina. We had a blast, starting from the early morning car ride to the atlanta airport. When we arrived, we checked into our hotel and ventured out to explore the city. We visited the Casino where I lost $2 playing the slots and then the expo where I lost $80 buying stuff. The Expo is like, my favorite part of any race because you get to see a bunch of cool running stuff that you rarely find in your local running store.
I bought a couple of headbands that I really like and a Brooks running jacket. It was kind of expensive, but 1) it was Brooks so you know it's nice and 2) it has Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras 2011 so I thought, it's a souvenir, I'll get it. It looks like this:
We spent most of saturday sight seeing, and while weren't supposed to walk around a lot, we did anyway. It's hard to not want to see everything. Saturday morning, we got up and jogged to the Louisiana state museum and took a yoga class int he museum. That was pretty cool, but since my butt was sore on sunday, I was thinking that might not have been a good idea. It was also kind of hard to stay hydrated because I didn't want to buy bottled water because it was expensive and the plastic is bad for the environment, but the tap water also wasn't super delicious. I did the best I could.
Race day... we woke up around 4 am. We had to meet at the Astor Crowne Plaza at 5:15 and I wanted time to use the restroom if needed. (I think most runners know what I'm talking about). Our race day breakfast was a piece of whole wheat bread, peanut butter and a banana. We rolled out our legs, drank some water, ate our breakfast and headed to the hotel. I don't know how many people actually raised money for the event, but it seemed like there were about 100? I put a question mark because I am bad at guessing quantity. I forgot to mention that we had a Team DetermiNation dinner which was neat because we got to see how much money everyone raised (one lady raised 11k on her own and a team raised like, 40k). Anyway, the day with the ACS started off great. They had all kinds of breakfast food for us, fruit, milk, etc. I didn't eat anything because I was too nervous, but was impressed with the spread. The best part was the Jazz band. These guys led us down the streets of New Orleans playing jazz music as we walked to the start line. It's like, 6 am, and the music is loud. People are hanging out of the windows waving and cheering us on. Some of them looked like they had just woken up and some looked like they had never gone to bed. I looked at Meredith and said, "I love New Orleans". We had private porta poddies at the Team DetermiNation tent which was nice because the lines were outrageous in the race area. We waited around for what seemed like forever since it was cold, walked over the our corral number and waited again for the gun to go off. I was standing next to Abby Rike from the biggest loser,
so that was a fun celebrity moment. The race started and I felt good. We did the run 4 minute, walk 1 minute thing and right away, I felt like I was behind. That was when I said, ok, i'm just not going to focus on time, I'm going to focus on running through this beautiful city, listen to the bands and enjoy myself for the next 2 and a half hours. I did not use an iPod since I wanted to hear the bands. I felt good the whole time. I noticed that my butt was sore from yoga, but for the most part, they didn't feel too heavy. I think around mile 6, they started hurting and were tired, but it was never anything that bothered me too much. Around mile 9, I noticed that my achilles tendon was hurting very badly and at one point, I had some sharp pains so I stopped and stretched my lower calves on the curb. I ate my GU every 45 minutes and I drank water at every water stop. As we approached mile 10, I thought, OK this is where I always hit my wall. I thought about Jeanne saying, we're so proud of you Wendi, You're doing great, and I prepared myself for the mental torture that was about to happen.... it never showed up. I just continued my walk/run, tried to apprecate my surroundings. When we hit mile 13, a member of Team DetermiNation ran with us and pumped us up for the finish. She told us we were doing great, they were proud of us and we were almost done. Meredith and I crossed the finish line together and walked to the Team DetermiNation tent where we met my mom. I was happy to finish close to my goal, I was happy that I could walk and I was happy to be a part of a team.
All in all, it was an awesome experience and reminds me why I love running. I definitely want to do this again and next year and I definitely want to raise money again. Being a part of Team DetermiNation was awesome and made the experience so much better.