Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Dash and Run

I don't know what I was thinking when I signed up for the Jazz Half Marathon in New Orleans.  I registered for it early last summer, while my son's family were still living in Mandeville.  I knew they were soon to be transferred, yet it just didn't click at the time that I wouldn't be combining this race with a family visit.  It wasn't until several months later that it dawned on me.  Duh!

So now the trip across I-10 to New Orleans would be a "dash and run" kind of trip.  I left the house Friday morning after rush hour was over, arrived in New Orleans around 3:30 PM, and got checked in to the very nice Marriott Courtyard Hotel on Julia Street.  Excellent location for the race...just a block away from packet pickup at the Marriott Convention Center Hotel, an easy walk to any number of good restaurants, and just a few short blocks away from Lafayette Square where the race will start and finish.

My car valet-parked and my bag stowed in my hotel room, I walked over to the Marriott, picked up my race packet, stopped at a convenient little corner market and bought some bananas, then had an early dinner of seafood gumbo and crusty French bread at Mulate's before settling into my room for the evening.

A 5:00 AM wake-up and I was out of my room at 6:30 AM to walk over to Lafayette Square.  It had turned cold and windy overnight, as a Blue Norther swept down from Canada, poking its cold fingers deep into Louisiana.  I was thankful that I'd grabbed that old fleece pullover at the last minute as I was leaving the house.  The temperature was 46 degrees, with 25-35 mph winds, giving it a "feels like" temperature in the mid-thirties.  Capris, a long sleeve shirt with my Half Fanatic singlet over it, a kerchief around my neck, gloves, cap, and the old fleece barely kept me warm as we waited for the race to start.  Any thoughts of discarding the fleece at the start line were abandoned.  I kept it on as we got underway.
Somewhere along the route...bone chilling cold wind!

The route sent us south on Camp Street for a few blocks and then east toward Convention Center Blvd.  We ran south for a bit, then did a U-turn and headed north to Poydras, then ran north on Poydras all the way to I-10, u-turned, and then ran south to St. Charles St.  We stayed on St. Charles through the warehouse district, through the Garden district, all the way to Audubon park.  A nice but long loop around the park and then back onto St. Charles street all the way to the finish line.

Jazz Half Marathon route.  Data from my Garmin GPS watch

There were only 4 bands - I should say kinda-bands - along the way which, for a half marathon calling itself the Jazz Half Marathon, was a bit of a disappointment.

By around mile 8 the temperatures began to relent as the sun got higher in the sky and the wind was noticeably less ferocious.  I shed my fleece pullover and left it alongside the road as we ran back down St. Charles St.

Crossing the finish line

Finally, I made the last of the turns onto Camp Street and had only a few tenths of a mile left to go. All of the church bells in the vicinity of the finish line were pealing, which was pretty cool.  I crossed the finish line, collected my finisher medal, and then entered Lafayette Park in search of the abundant local food specialties that we were promised.  I circled the park and all I found were empty spots where tables used to be.  I could tell because of the overflowing trash cans sitting next to these empty spots.  All the promised local cuisine being offered up by local restaurateurs was long gone as were their food trucks.  There was not one single bit of food left, not even a banana.  I knew there were still quite a few runners out on the course, as there was still an hour left in the race window.  So running out of food really is inexcusable.

Fortunately for me, I'd tucked a $20 bill into my pocket and had done a little Google research, so I knew there was a fantastic little bakery on Magazine Street - The Bittersweet Confections - right on my way back to the hotel.  I stopped in and bought a cappuccino and two cupcakes to bring back to the hotel and enjoy as I recovered, and then showered and dressed before checking out and heading home.

I'd considered blowing this race off since I already have the state of Louisiana for my 50 States quest, but then realized the 72 hour cancellation policy on the hotel room had expired.  I was feeling somewhat burned out after doing 4 half marathons in 2 weeks.  I wasn't sure I was up to another one so soon, and I really felt like I needed to take a break before the RnR Las Vegas race in mid-November.   I'm glad I didn't cancel out though, as the medal is fantastic as was the race route and despite there being no food at the finish, it was an otherwise well-done race with great race support at the water stations and start/finish line.  It's just that it took some mental fortitude to withstand the weather conditions and to overcome my strong desire to drop out, to quit before finishing.

A nice finisher medal to add to my collection:

Next:  A two week break, then it's Las Vegas, baby!!


  1. A pretty cool medal. Bummer they had no food left. You'd think they'd be smart and have too much since they could always donate it to a shelter if necessary.

    Great job finishing another race, a chilly one at that.

  2. Thanks! It's much prettier in person. I messaged the race directors via Facebook and they quickly responded, saying they plan to order much more food next year, so they apparently were aware of this and were very apologetic. They'd opened the post-race party to not only runners but family, friends, general public which is not typical.

    1. Ahhhh, it takes way more food to feed the masses, that is for sure.

  3. My, my, you are still a ball of fire.....Wm from Davenport