When I started working with my coaches a couple of weeks ago, I decided to train for a marathon and re-qualify for Boston with a finish time that would allow me to register for the race. This was a change from my initial goal of just “running for fun” in my next race, without a time goal. But seeing that motivations and aspirations can change depending on one’s mood, I decided to attempt a time goal one more time.
I had already signed up for Paris marathon, my “running for fun” race, but my coaches and I decided that this race would not be ideal for a fast finish time, given the large field size (57,000 runners!), the cobblestones, and the sight-seeing. We decided to select another marathon in the February-March 2016 timeframe that would be amenable to faster finish times.
To find this goal race, I sought feedback from my coaches, searched my go-to marathon source, www.marathonguide.com, and lastly I asked several running groups about their experience. Some options included Napa Valley, Phoenix and New Orleans marathons. These races all had their pros and cons, and I ultimately selected Phoenix marathon because of the flat course and historically mild and dry weather. It’s also in a new state for me (hello state #10!). I had already covered California in the 2014 Los Angeles marathon and Louisiana in the 2012 New Orleans Marathon.
The New Orleans marathon was a one of my favorite races that I have run. My sister also ran the race with me, and our cousin joined us in NOLA to spectate- she was the best!
Positive features of this marathon include:
- This marathon course is incredibly flat and fast. It is ideal for a PR if the weather is favorable.
- The first half and parts of the second half of the course are very scenic- you run through the French Quarter, up and down historic St. Charles Ave, pass by Canal Street, Jackson Square, and up to City Park. The full also continues all the way to Lake Pontchartrain, which is also incredibly scenic. I think this was my favorite marathon in terms of sites.
- This is a Rock and Roll marathon, so it includes live music at most miles along the course. Although I carried my own music, it was motivating to hear other live bands along the way.
- There aren’t many more fun cities in the USA to be in post-race than New Orleans. The food, the drinks, the music are all fantastic. We ended up dancing the night away after the race, and forgot we had run a marathon!
A few negative features of this race include:
- After the half marathon splits from the full, the number of runners goes down considerably. Watching the half marathoners finish their race while the full course continues down a lonely road is mentally challenging.
- The 2012 race was held the first weekend in March. So the weather was on the warm and humid side, especially in those last few miles as the sun continued to rise (similar to Miami!). The race committee has since moved the race to the end of February, which I think is a more ideal time to run in New Orleans, so this issue may no longer be a factor. I do remember that the number of water and fuel stations (martinis included!) was adequate in the 2012 race.
- The buses that shuttle runners and spectators from the finish back to the start of the race (downtown area) were limited, causing significant lines to form at the finish line. Hungry, sweaty runners in a corral are not a pleasant sight. Hopefully the race committee has improved the shuttle system since 2012, but this is another item to consider.
I highly suggest that you add New Orleans Rock and Roll marathon to your list if you haven’t already. This is one race you will never forget!
Anyone else run this marathon? Thoughts?
What is your favorite marathon you’ve run?
**Enjoy your Tuesday!**