Rock N Roll NOLA, Taking Chances

I ran the Rock N Roll New Orleans half marathon a month ago, on 1/25/15. I was 3rd female, (15th overall) and ran a PR of 1:15:59. I am overjoyed with this race because I took a chance, had confidence in myself and executed the race plan.

Proud to share the podium with these 2 sweet & speedy gals!

Proud to share the podium with these 2 sweet & speedy gals!

As far as a race recap goes, this could get really boring. I ran a pretty evenly split race, every mile between 5:40-5:50. I was in 3rd place (females) most of the race (mile 5 on), I ran most of the race alone, and nothing spectacular happened as far as racing was concerned or what anyone could see. But something very exciting was happening inside me. I was on a mission to run down my old PR of 1:18:05. I had a fire burning inside. I had a lot to prove to myself, and this was my big chance. All the races I’ve finished feeling like I had something left in the tank, all the races where my stomach (uh, intestines?) revolted, all the doubts I’ve faced from others and even myself… all of those things needed to be left behind to become the runner I know I am.

I had the common A,B,&C goals. My C goal was just to get a PR. I ran 5:57 pace at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler in November and finished with way too much in the tank, feeling awesome, yet horrible for feeling so awesome. 2 months later looking at RnR NOLA I knew that even on a bad day I could run that pace for 13.1 and could kick it in for a PR. My B goal was sub 1:17. I had a good base, my workouts were going pretty well other than the 3 weeks in December when I was down mileage and workouts with the flu, but on a good day, there was no reason I couldn’t run 1:16:xx. My A goal was to run sub 1:16. I wasn’t going to taper for this race since it’s in the middle of marathon training, and this goal honestly scared me a bit. Run 5:48/mile pace for an hour and fifteen minutes?! WHAT? Then, “wait, why not?”

Taking the turn in the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler in November

So, I went to New Orleans with my husband (Jeff) who was also racing the half. We left the kids with the grandparents and I looked forward to a weekend of sleep (and fast running)! Well, I slept more than usual, but I also enjoyed the alone time with Jeff. I also had to drag my breast pump to NOLA as my little guy (who was 15 months old at the time) is still breastfeeding.

The Fam

The Fam, yes my son is a giant baby!

Jeff was a good sport, letting me play out race thoughts, scenarios, dreams over and over. Every time I said something about sub 1:16 being crazy, he simply said something like, “why is that crazy?” and then backed it up with some facts about how hard I’ve been working.

I settled on my race plan after a few discussions I had with Jeff. One was the night before the race when he said something to the effect of “I’d be much more impressed with you going out hard, dying, and having a really slow time, than running another 1:18 that you’re not proud of.” Touché.

So my plan was to go out hard, at my A goal pace and run a pretty evenly split race, with my fastest mile being mile 10, just to kick it back into gear for the end of the race. Would you believe I went out hard and ran a pretty evenly split race, and my fastest mile was indeed mile 10?  (I rarely look at my watch during the race but like to wear a GPS watch to check splits afterward and see where things went right or wrong!)

Pain face!

Pain face!

I didn’t check my watch at all until mile 11. At that point, I did the math (and I’m one of those people who gets MUCH WORSE at math when I’m running fast) but I could think clearly enough to know I was going to have a big PR. I was going to run 1:15:xx! And then I started to seriously consider, oh my goodness, the Olympic Trials Standard is 1:15:00! Can I do it? Oh wait, I think I have to close with like 2 x 5:20 something mile pace, probably not going to happen today. I fixed my eyes on the woman ahead of me and thought maybe I could catch her. I noticed I was gaining a bit. Then at mile 12 I looked at my watch again. I had a moment of weakness. I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone. I knew I was already going to have a big PR. I didn’t need to keep going so hard. I relaxed a bit. That relaxing almost cost me my A goal! Thankfully, I pulled myself out of it, picked the pace back up.  Within minutes, I saw the finishing clock 1:15:40, 41, 42… I had made it this far, I was going to get that A goal! I starting sprinting my little heart out and I squeaked to the finish in 1:15:59!

The top 3 ladies were escorted to the stage for awards immediately (very cool!) and then brought to the VIP area. My feet started cramping on the walk and I had to smile, knowing I haven’t finished a race feeling this worn out in awhile. I couldn’t stop thinking about the race, my PR… it felt 100% believable and also 100% unbelievable. Did *I* really just do that?

I guess I want to end this post by saying, don’t be afraid to take chances! You could come up short and fall on your face. But you could also soar! It is very exciting when you succeed. But it’s incredibly FULFILLING knowing you were willing to risk a complete failure of a race to make that success happen.

I have a big spring coming up with lots of races that I’m pumped to be running! My goal marathon is the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on 3/22. Then I’ll be doing Glass City Half Marathon and Pittsburgh Half Marathon later in the spring. More to come on those events!

Thanks for reading and following along!

20 thoughts on “Rock N Roll NOLA, Taking Chances

  1. This is so fantastic!! Congrats on an amazing race. It feels so good sometimes to take a chance (and finally believe in ourselves!!!) and see what’s there. I’m so glad this went so well for you. Here’s to an amazing spring racing season for you! :)

  2. When I heard about your incredible PR I was so happy for you Jen. You have been working so hard and truly deserve that. I cannot wait to see how Shamrock goes and of course to see you!

  3. This was so fun to read! Congrats on your PR, Jen and for taking that risk. I’m excited you got to meet Maria-Elena too (we used to race each other in college). Shamrock is going to be a lot of fun this year :)

  4. AHHH! A huge CONGRATS!! I have been hoping and waiting for this post!! You seriously are my inspiration because I see you training hard with TWO kids while I only have one. SO i keep thinking well if Jen can do it, then I can get out and run my miles! Obviously I have smaller scaled goals than you but I enjoy following along with all your training!
    I was wondering if you were/are still breastfeeding! I am at 10 months now, and I am hoping to continue for as long as my daughter wants – we will see, she is getting more and more active and doesnt seem to want to waste time nursing!
    Once again – congratulations and keep up the great work. Good luck in Pittsburgh! I have been looking for a half marathon to run (ive run Rochester half way too many time now so I think I am over it) but I just cant find one to fit in my schedule. We have family in Pittsburgh but that half marathon is the same weekend that I think we are having my daughters first birthday party. wahh wahh!

    • Hi Joanna! Thank you! Yes, I’m still nursing. My little guy will be 17 months at the end of the week! I’m down to 1-2 times a day, except he’s sick now and wanting to nurse quite a bit. I nursed my daughter until 17 months so I was hoping to give him that long as well (or longer if he wants). I love breastfeeding but I HATE pumping! I love having the option to pump and travel and be flexible but I can’t wait to never pump again (or at least not for many years if we decide to expand the family someday!)

      Have you looked into Cleveland half marathon?

  5. i made a similar comment when you posted the news on instagram: you are my hero, my mama-spirit-animal. so inspired by your courage to believe and to take a chance. you’ve SO got this OT qualifier in you! good luck with the upcoming races.

  6. wow!!! Huge congrats on a major PR and an incredible time. I loved when you said to not be afraid to take chances. I agree, it’s better to leave it all out there than to Come out of a race with regrets or wondering ‘what if’?!

  7. Everything about this post makes me smile. SUP CONGRATS on the OTQ, PR and podium finish! I love your husbands quote about being impressed by a hard effort that fails over just getting by. I’ll take note. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your sleeve this spring! Do work lady :)

  8. Congratulations on an amazing race and PR! I love the race photo. I always say if you’re smiling in a race pic you’re not running hard enough, haha. You clearly were in the zone. I think” believing” you can achieve an overwhelming goal is one of the hardest pieces of being a competitive runner. Your post is inspirational and motivating as I continue to try and believe I can accomplish my own ambitious goals! Thank you for sharing! xo

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