Sunday, October 20th marked my seventh Half Marathon – and the Anniversary of my first ever Half Marathon race back in 2011! (Remember my very first 13.1 HERE?!) Therefore, this was my second time running this race – the 4th Annual Gulf Coast Half Marathon on the Louisiana Northshore.
Another person who chose to run is a familiar face to y’all - my HUBBY! Yes – that’s right….the hubby decided to run his second half marathon on our (second) home turf! We did the packet pick-up and expo Saturday afternoon, and picked up these super cute Gator shirts! You wouldn’t believe all the nervous/excited energy I had built up thinking about running my Anniversary Race and seeing how much I have truly improved over the last two years!
My race goals were as follows:
***SUPER-SECRET GOAL: 1 hour, 57 minutes, 29 seconds. Why 1:57:29? So that I could say I have improved a full 10 minutes over my first half marathon 2 years ago!!! ***
GOAL A: 1 hours, 58 minutes. This was my stretch goal. I was thinking that if EVERYTHING lined up, and I felt stellar, then I might be able to reach this time. And it would be another 2 minutes off my PR (which seems to be the magic number when I PR).
GOAL B: Sub 2 hours. This was my most realistic goal knowing that I ran 2 hours in Ventura (which was also very flat) – and knowing that my hubby would be pushing me to run hard!
GOAL C: 2 hours, 7 minutes. Yes….the same time as my very first half marathon on this very same course!
The hubby got up at 4:00 am, while I set my alarm for 4:45 am. We ate our breakfast bars, triple-checked our gear, and left the house by 5:50 am. Having left the house at 6:20 the first time around, I barely had enough time to get to the park and warm-up before the race started. I wanted to make sure that we had a good, full hour to stretch-out and warm-up and calm the nerves this time around! Leaving this early allowed us to miss all the race traffic, and cross the 6.5 miles to the Park in about 20 minutes! After we pinned on our numbers and gathered up our gear, we were off to find the bathrooms. It was still dark out that early, and for the first time in MONTHS, we experienced super cool weather - complete with cold winds! My weather app told me that it was 52*…a good 20* cooler than the weather we have been training in….but also 80% less humid! We took a few Pre-Race pics, headed to the bathroom lines for a second time (holy nerves!), and with four minutes to go, we hopped into the start line.
The start line was in Fontainebleau Park. The gun sounded right at 7:00 a.m. Even though the temperature was in the low 50s, it was PERFECT running weather for Louisiana (in October.)
MILES 1-3: The entire first mile weaved through Fontainebleau State Park. You hit Mile 2 after you leave the Park and head out onto Highway 190. You continue along Hwy. 190 until you hit Dupree street, where you finally leave the main road and take a left hand turn into a neighborhood bordering the lake, continuing along Montgomery Street.
MILE 4: Mile 4 begins in the neighborhood right after you turn onto Jackson Avenue, and leads you to straight towards Lake Pontchartrain Yacht Club, and the entrance to the Lakefront!
MILES 5-6: You enter and complete Mile 5 along Lakeshore Drive – a beautiful area dotted with Oak trees draped in Spanish Moss and views of sailboats on the open water. At the end of the Lakefront, you stroll along Beach Parkway into another nice neighborhood bordering the lake. Here you take a grand loop around, exit on Monroe Street, and enter your turnaround at about Mile 7. There were patches of spectators along this route….but honestly, they were few and far between. This is also where I handed off some GU Chomps to the hubby, who had ever so slightly pulled ahead by about a minute.
MILES 7-9: Miles 7-9 followed a few twists and turns showing off the beautiful Lakefront neighborhoods, and ultimately passing by two local venues: Varsity Sports (a race sponsor) and the Broken Egg Café (awesome restaurant!). This segment of the run by far had the most spectator support! Just after reaching Mile 9, you hit the St. Tammany Trace, an old railroad path converted to an asphalt bike and jogging trail. The trace is covered with trees and greenery, providing tons of shade for the runners as the morning wore on. This section of the race is GREAT if you like solitude….but can mess with your head a bit if you need people, cheering, water stops, etc. I actually run the trace for almost all of my long runs…so I really enjoyed this section. And even though the runners were sparse at this point, I made it a point to pick out a runner ahead of me and pick them off, one by one (which is also an awesome method to keep your pace going during long, straight stretches!)
MILES 10-12: Miles 10 and 11 follow the trace all the way back to the entrance of Fontainebleau State Park, where the path hits Mile 12 just over a quarter-mile into the park.
MILE 13: The last 1.1 mile weaves through the park and leads you back to the finish line
So how did I do?
HOLY COW – I beat my SUPER SECRET GOAL and ended with a four-minute PR – 1:55:58!!! I had a stellar split time…and am even proud with my 2nd split – which was, even at 15 seconds per mile slower average, my targeted training time! AND….my last 3 miles were negative splits….so I couldn’t be happier!
So how did the hubby do?
Amazing!!! Freaking Amazing. He had an 11-minute PR – crossing the finish line at 1:51:33!!! Look how consistent he was throughout the whole race - I am so proud of him!
Very best part of this race for me….is the Lakefront. I took one of my very first “return to running” runs along the lakefront, and can never quite get over the beauty of the area, no matter how many times I run there!
Having a few friends cheer along the course! And yes, I literally laughed out loud when I saw that one friend wore his Richard Simmons Halloween costume – but it was AWESOME to see at miles 7 and 10!
Also, I love, love, love the set-up of the race finish photo! I have almost the exact same pic from 2-years ago - where I am perfectly lined-up beneath the clock! The hubby on the other hand, didn’t quite think about tan awesome photo finish, as he later told me, he was just so focused on just getting it done!!!
To be honest, the post race was a blur! I was on such a runner’s high with my time, that I barely remember doing anything beyond 1) hugging the hubby!, 2) grabbing a banana and a smoothie, 3) stretching at the picnic tables, and 4) heading back to the car after only 30 minutes so that we could go home and take a bath!
Also – we met up with our friends at The Broken Egg Café for an AMAZING brunch to refuel!!!
25 Challenge: Half to Run!
In my quest to run half marathons in half the states….I didn’t exactly add a new state…but I added one more to my State #1 Louisiana (Page HERE).
Until the next race…