Rock n Roll marathon series knows how to organize and run a race, and it shows. Good bands, plenty of beer tents, and well laid out pre and post race area. They are professionals.
With 20,000 runners in the city, you would think we would be the only game in town. However, at the expo the runners appeared to be outnumbered 4:1 by cheerleaders. Not the family/friends of runners, but real cheerleaders with pom poms, makeup, matching outfits, etc... Some friends of ours said their hotel was filled with hundreds of people from a fraternity group. Usually when there's a race that big in town, everyone you see is there for it, and getting a seat at a local restaurant is impossible because of all the runners. Not in NOLA.
Here's advice that only I would need. Don't stay on Bourbon Street. Saturday night before the race it finally got quiet enough to sleep about 4am. Duh.
Back when everyone signed up, the goal was to get my brother to come down from Ohio and run 3 hours with me. My coworker was also going to run that time, and a local coach, plus 3 or 4 of the guys I run with, then someone that wanted to improve their BQ time, and etc... Before I knew it, we were going to have almost 10 people between 2:55 and 3:05. One by one we dropped from that plan except my coworker.
First half is flat and shaded, but the roads are old. Lots of people ran on the grass median, but I didn't find it that bad. At the half way point you head out to Lake Pontchartrain and the roads are better. However, there are 4 or so small bridges that go over canals or roads. They are not big, but when running at your max effort with legs of jello, I can see why several people mentioned the bridges took a lot of effort.
Based off how I felt from my long runs, I thought a 3:40 was a realistic goal. My first and second marathon were both 3:32, so secretly I didn't want to be slower than that. A 8:00min/mi pace would give me a chance to break 3:30, which would be a great day. However, running "alone" the first 13 miles, I found myself settling in between 7:35 and 7:40 for every mile.
Just a few hundred meters after the 3,600 marathoners split from the 13,000 half-marathoners, I heard a familiar voice "you're not running a 3:40." Two of my friends caught me (and another guy they knew). Time was flying by, and the race was fun. When we crossed mile 15 for the 2nd straight 7:00 min/mi, which is when I let them know I had to get back to at least 7:30's. Troy dropped back with me and said a 3:40 was fine with him because he has another marathon next week. He lied. We ran and talked until mile 22, but then he sped up.
I wasn't really nervous about my race, but I was very nervous for my coworker. He's the reason I was doing this race, and we were supposed to be doing it together. Despite a few sub 1:20 half's, his best marathon has been 3:25. There were 2 out and backs where I saw him around mile 17 and 21. At mile 21 I knew he was within 30 seconds of sub 3.
In my last race the GPS was off a little, so this time I was manually pressing the lap button a mile markers. Mile 22 I looked my watch and couldn't figure out which button was lap, and which was start/stop. I knew I needed sugar to think clearly and feel better, but for the first time ever, I didn't carry an extra. At that point, I did some math for my own race for the first time, and realized I could almost walk it in for a 3:30. Luckily I didn't need to walk, and crossed the finish line in just under 3:18. My fourth fastest of 7 marathons.
The friend that left me at mile 15 finished just under 3:06, and said my coworker appeared to be 3-4 minutes ahead. When I did track him down, the official time was 3:03:00. He slowed to about 7:45 pace, but hung in very well and got 2 minutes below his BQ. Hopefully enough to get to Boston.
Finished the day limping around Bourbon St looking for hand grenades, hurricanes, etc.. until after 1am, then slept really really good.