Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series
If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what my spring training and race plan looked like, I would have told you that it looked like training heavily, in preparation to return to Nashville for the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon, this time to run the half marathon. I would have told you that this was exactly what I needed to do for me, for my running, for my season, for my support of the race series, and most of all, for the nostalgic, sentimental part of me that longed to return and celebrate the one year anniversary of my first ever full marathon, alongside friends I love and miss. I would have told you I was sure about all of this.
The problem with this response is that my answer was all about “me,” and not at all about “we.”
At various points of my life, I’ve felt like I was the most independent person I knew (and this very well might have been true). I’ve proved to myself I can do anything alone.
For years, I’ve strategically worn my independent spirit as a strength. Deep down, in a lot of ways, my tenacious efforts to be as independent as possible, have underneath the surface, always been a defense mechanism of sorts. They have always been tied to a resistance within my heart. A resistance toward being completely vulnerable with anyone—until Andrew.
Andrew has shown me that although I am totally capable of existing as a “me,” there’s something incredible about choosing to sacrifice a part of your own self-interest to exist as a “we,” when it is loud and clear that someone else was made for you. In the case of Andrew, it’s been loud and clear from day one, even when I wasn’t ready to hear it.
Last year while I ran the full marathon, Andrew tracked me every single step of my run—all five hours. He shipped me popsicles and an art piece in the form of a card as a congratulatory treat for after the race. He wasn’t even my boyfriend at that point, yet he was already believing in my every step.
Situated less than three hours from my hometown of Pensacola, New Orleans is a city I’ve had a close relationship with for more than a decade—since I could legally drive a car. And in the years following high school, I’ve spent some monumental moments in this city.
New Orleans is the first (and only) place my car has been towed. It’s where I’ve seen some of my favorite musical acts, between intimate venues and festival settings. It’s where I became an adult, that is, I spent my 18th birthday here watching the Faint and Bright Eyes perform. It’s where I saw Sufjan (the man) Stevens up so closely that I presented him with a personal note (creepy? maybe). It’s the location of impromptu day trips taken with my mom, and friends. And it’s even where I [unintentionally] was with my roommates the moment the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl five years ago.
This photo was taken just after we stepped outside onto Bourbon Street, minutes after we watched the Saints win the Super Bowl, on a big screen inside the confines of One Eyed Jacks. I’ve never seen an entire city erupt like this and I wouldn’t trade being there in this moment of chaos for anything.
With so many memories attached to this city, it’s no wonder I was eager to experience it from a street-level perspective (running). And so, at the beginning of 2012, I jumped on the opportunity to run the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the first time. I was back for round two the following year, in 2013. Unfortunately, timing didn’t pan out last year, since I had literally just quit my job, wasn’t quite trained, and the race fell on the same weekend as a 15K at home in Pensacola, so I opted for that instead. However, for the past year, I’ve been eager to make a NOLA race comeback. Granted the drive was much longer this time coming all the way from St. Augustine, I wasn’t going to miss it. Thankfully Andrew wanted to join, so we made an extended venture out of it.
In my last post, “Run Happy, Run NOLA,” I elaborated on the race itself and the moments leading up to the start line. I also noted there to be much more to our trip. With that, here are some of the sights and tastes we experienced, beyond the race.
A week ago Sunday I was running down the streets of New Orleans with thousands of fellow runners. It was my third time participating in the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
These 13.1 miles took me through downtown, along St. Charles and back, through the French Quarter and toward City Park. I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:04:09, soaked in a mixture of ice cold water, salt, and sweat.
Before offering a play by play of the race, I feel I must first acknowledge the moments leading up to the start line, and the love that supported me along the way.
This photo was taken Friday night at the expo. Stopping by the expo just before it closed on night one, rather than waiting until Saturday, meant we were able to walk through and see everything without the crowd, and take our time being silly.
Last week I found myself up against a creative wall, riding waves of self-doubt, and needing much more positive affirmation than usual. I caught myself asking Andrew for feedback countless times, and spent an equal amount of time picking up the phone to call my mom for her words of wisdom. Rather than an “I can” attitude, “Can I?” was a question that played on repeat in my head. I felt far more inadequate than I did renewed.
The thing about opportunity finding its way onto your lap, is that no matter how wonderful it is, it often takes much more energy than we can possibly predict. For the entirety of last week, I spent the bulk of my waking hours glued to the computer screen, pouring my energy into new projects, on top of those already existing.
Despite my enthusiasm about the projects that have come my way lately, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that this particular week was supposed to be a big running week for me. While struggling to focus on the work in front of me, I found myself daydreaming about the PR (personal record) I had hoped to achieve at the rapidly approaching New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, while feeling as though I was watching it drift out of reach.
In the evening hours, I had high hopes of switching gears to do “me” writing, some yoga, reading ,or maybe even finally unpacking from my holiday trip. Instead, I sat glued to the TV, watching episodes of “Cutthroat Kitchen.” My brain was all but mush.
Aside from an afternoon out and about on assignment, I rocked the same black on black attire the majority of the week, and barely left the house.
Something Andrew and I have discussed at length lately, is the fact that we human beings tend to only showcase the high points in our lives, not the ups, downs and everything in between. Intentionally or not, we show the parts of ourselves we are proud of and comfortable with, and much of the rest goes unseen.
Earlier this week, I declared 13.1 a Magical Distance and shared my 13.1 Training Plan.
While the St. Augustine Half Marathon is at the front of my mind (since it is quickly approaching), there is another half marathon I have my eyes fixed on.
Come January 25, 2015, I will be rocking the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon for the third time. Leading up to this event, I’m excited to be spreading the enthusiasm as part of the Rock ‘n’ Blog New Orleans team.
Happy National Running Day! Today’s annual celebration honors one of the things I love most—running!
In the spirit of Running Day, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is offering race registration discounts that are worth jumping on. If you’ve considered signing up for one of their events, today is a great day to take advantage of the savings and do so.