The Year of Half Marathons

2015 was the year of the marathon, but 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the half marathon. I have 3 halfs on my calendar for this year. I checked the first one off in New Orleans with a time of 2:10:22.

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Next up is the Garry Bjorklund Half in June. Training officially starts tomorrow, though the first few weeks actually overlap with the end of training for Goldy’s 10 mile. My goal at this half is to get a sub 2:10 time. I know I’ve got it in me if conditions are decent on race day.

My 3rd half for the year randomly came about. I hadn’t planned for races beyond the first half of the year, so when a friend mentioned she was hoping to do the Vancouver Half Marathon in October and semi-jokingly asked if I wanted to do it with her, I started thinking. The timing will work out nicely because I’ll have more than a month after Garry Bjorklund before I have to start training again. It’s also a really great excuse to take a trip to visit my friend and see a couple of cities that I’ve never been to (I’ll get to see Seattle, too). So I told her I was in! We’re already registered for the race and are looking at the rest of our travel plans.

I’ve got some other shorter races planned as part of my training or ones that I just like to do every year, but 2016 is definitely being driven by the half marathon. The other funny thing about these races is all 3 are destination races, and Vancouver will be my first international race! Nothing better than getting to see a city by running 13.1 miles in it!

What distances are you running this year? Any destination races on your calendar?

New Orleans Weekend Review

Finally got around to writing up an overview of my weekend in New Orleans while there with Team Challenge for the New Orleans Half Marathon.

I got into NOLA around 1 p.m. and headed to the hotel. I was starving after I got my stuff in my room, so I ventured out to find some food. I stumbled upon a po boy place just a couple of blocks away and got a grilled shrimp po boy to kick off the weekend of southern eating.

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After that, I wandered around the area close to the hotel before heading back to get dressed for dinner. I had a reservation at Commander’s Palace. This was the one restaurant I definitely wanted to go to in NOLA – it has been on my list for a very long time. I left early so that I could explore the Garden District a little bit before dinner. I walked around and checked out Lafayette Cemetery. It was closed, so I just had to look from the outside.

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There were a lot of old, beautiful houses in the area as well. I’m a sucker for big columns on the front of a house.

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Then, it was time for dinner.

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I knew I wanted to try a soup and Seafood Gumbo sounded too good to pass up. To follow that up, I had the Crispy Crawfish and Cream Cheese Gnocchi. Both were soooo good!

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The service at the restaurant was great. It’s definitely a fine dining place. There was always someone there to make sure I had what I needed and I watch the servers simultaneously set down plates at other tables. Probably one of the fanciest places I’ve been to. So glad I treated myself to that meal.

In the evening I met up with some fellow MN and Wisconsin Team Challenge folks and hung out in the hotel bar for awhile.

On Saturday morning, I got up and headed out to breakfast at a place my cousin had recommended — The Ruby Slipper. I had a Florentine Omlette and the buttermilk biscuit was to die for! I could’ve eaten a dozen.

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That meal was my fuel to head out on a cemetery tour with a couple of my Team Challenge friends. We toured the St. Louis Cemetery. It was so interesting to hear about the history of the city and the different ways people are buried. The cemetery is maybe the size of a city block, but more than 100,000 people are buried there and it’s still used today!

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This is the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

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After the tour, I headed over to the expo to get my bib and check out the vendors. At this point I was getting excited to hit the course!

Saturday evening was the Team Challenge pasta party. It was held at Mardi Gras World, which is the warehouse where all of the parade floats are stored. We feasted on pasta and heard from some inspirational speakers to get ourselves pumped up for the race.

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Sunday morning was all about the race. You can read more about that in my race recap, but later in the evening was about eating more food. A group of us headed over to the House of Blues for drinks and eats. Everyone was pretty beat after that, and most people were leaving early on Monday, so Sunday night was spent relaxing and watching the Oscars.

I got up early on Monday morning to head over to Cafe Du Monde to get beignets and coffee for breakfast. So much powdered sugar, but soooo good!!

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I got them to-go and sat on some steps across from Jackson Square to take in the view.

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I walked around the park to check out the area. There were musicians and artists set up around the perimeter of the park. I wandered in some shops along the street on my way to the French Market. It’s basically like a farmer’s market and flea market. I picked up a few souvenirs and headed back towards the hotel because I had a lunch reservation to get to.

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I could not come to New Orleans and not eat at one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants. I went to Emeril’s for lunch. I sat at the chef’s counter so I had a view of the kitchen while I ate. I ordered the chicken and waffles with watermelon slaw to get a good last southern meal. It was absolutely delicious!

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After lunch I was able to meet up with a friend from high school who was in town for the race as well. I explored Bourbon Street with her and her friends for a couple of hours. We found a couple of fun places to grab a drink including an outdoor patio complete with some jazz music.

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Before long it was time to head to the airport for my flight. It was so hard to leave the warm weather and come back to MN, but it was a great trip and I’m so glad I got to explore this cool city!

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New Orleans Half Marathon Race Recap

I completed my 4th half marathon last week in New Orleans! It was my 2nd half with Team Challenge.

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The plan on race morning was to meet in the hotel lobby at 6 a.m. for some team photos and then heading to the start line which was a few blocks away. I woke up before my alarm went off and had a mini panic attack when the clock radio on the nightstand said 6:15. I scrambled to look at my phone and saw that it was closer to 5 a.m. I have no idea how the clock got messed up — I’m blaming it on some weird voodoo.

When it was actually 6 a.m., I joined my team in the lobby. They got one big group photo before we headed out. Team Challenge had 335 runners rocking orange singlets!

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It was a beautiful morning and the sun was shining. I brought a throw away shirt, but I really didn’t need it.

There were about 26,000 runners at the race. I found corral 12 and hung out with a few fellow Team Challengers while we waited to get up to the start line. The first 7ish miles take you along St. Charles St. and into the Garden District. You see lots of beautiful old homes and there were a fair amount of spectators. I tried to remind myself to look up and take in she scenery, but I couldn’t look up for too long because St. Charles had lots of pot holes and uneven spots.

I was feeling pretty good in the first half, but it took some time to get used to the warmer temps. Luckily there was some decent shade to help. I settled into a pretty good rhythm and was keeping a good pace. In the second half of the course, we made our way into the French Quarter and ran by Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde. As I made it to mile 11 I was feeling good and knew that I still had something left in the tank for the last 2 miles.

I tried to kick it up a notch as I approached the finish. When I crossed the line and stopped my watch, I was excited to see it said 2:10:19! I was going for a new PR and needed to get under 2:11. I didn’t want to get too excited until I saw my official chip time. Unfortunately, when I got my official time it said 2:35:20. Basically, I don’t think my chip registered when I crossed the start line because it said it took me an hour to get to the 5K point. I was happy that I had a good race and basically had a PR, but was bummed to not have an official time for it. I submitted a correction online and my time has been updated to 2:10:22. So, that’s the new time to beat! I’ve got another half coming up this summer, and I think I’m gonna try to get under 2:10.

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Team Challenge had an after part for us at the finish line. I rehydrated and grabbed some yummy food including a beignet!

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The race offered free Michelob Ultra as well, so of course I grabbed one of those (okay 2). 🙂

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Overall, it was a great race and so much fun doing it with Team Challenge! Stay tuned for a recap of the whole weekend.

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Have you ever had an incorrect chip time?