I had a very early start to my day on Saturday, with a 4 AM alarm for the flight to New Orleans (through Baltimore). My dad, coming from Baltimore, and I got into New Orleans around 11:30 AM local time and headed to the hotel to check in and then for some lunch. The hotel also happened to be the spot for the Expo, which was convenient.
After a bland lunch (purposefully so I didn't upset my stomach), we headed to the Expo. What a disappointment! It was in a very small room and it was obvious from the beginning that this was going to be a budget affair. Nice technical race shirt but absolutely no goodies in the bag--just pamphlets for other races. No goo, no energy bars, no great coupons--nothing. For a $75 entrance fee, I would have expected much more.
They were missing an information center where we could ask questions like where should spectators go to get a good view of the race, etc. They didn't even have a detailed course for the race (see below). When asked for a street view, they told us to spend 50 cents to get a newspaper--lovely.I attended a first-time marathoner session which was OK. The one thing that the guy said that really resonated with me is that the race is a celebration of your training. It's not a test and you're not getting paid for this. Celebrate all of your hard work by finishing the race and enjoying yourself. I hadn't even thought of it that way before and I think that really helped to calm me down.
I had pasta again for dinner that night with a bunch of bread. I asked the waitress to just use olive oil and garlic and to '86 the white wine. I knew that olive oil would work for me, but white wine sauce (and the extreme amount of butter that goes with it) would not. I'm very happy I kept things bland again the night before.
My dad and I watched a ton of college basketball games on Saturday, which helped to relax me. By Saturday night, I was feeling pretty calm and got to sleep very quickly. Believe it or not, I think I got 6 hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 5 AM.
Upon waking up Saturday morning, I immediately ate a Clif Bar to get me going and we left the hotel at 6:05 AM to walk the mile to the Superdome for the start of the race at 7. We got there by 6:30 which was perfect because I didn't have to wait around too long and get extra nervous. I stretched, grabbed a little water to wash down my Clif Shot (man, I love that company) and got ready for the gun.
Ah, the pre-race stuffing your mouth with Clif Shots -- only a runner!
One learning (among many) is that your Garmin watch has a tough time finding the satellite if you've flown a couple hundred miles from the last time you wore it. I powered it on about 4 minutes before the gun because I wanted to give it time. Well, by gun time, it was still looking for the satellites. It didn't finally grab a satellite until a minute into the race. I immediately started my watch, which was no more than 1-2 minutes after I crossed the starting mat and 6-7 minutes after gun time.
I was off... Race report to follow....