I am so exhausted and happy right now. The race was awesome! I ran the most challenging 4 miles I've ever run in 36:02. I thought I would be lucky to run it in 40 minutes because I knew it was going to be tough.
I rode to the race with my running buddy Margee and a couple of her friends. We met up with more of her friends (she runs with a big group of people she went to high school with) at their apartment in the warehouse district, then walked to the bus that took us over the bridge to the West Bank. We were at the start of the race pretty early because Margee and her friends needed to register for the race, so we waited for about an hour for the race to start.
Once the race started, the first mile flew by like it was nothing. Most of the races I've done in New Orleans have started with a really slow first mile because they were so crowded, but this one wasn't too packed. I think the turnout may have been a little low because it looked like it was going to rain. The sky was really dark and we kept waiting for a downpour, but in the end, we only got a little drizzle.
The second mile was where we started up the bridge. Running in New Orleans is comparatively easy (aside from the heat, that is) because we literally have no hills. This is bad because there is no way to train to get used to hill. Unsurprisingly, the mile and a half to the top of the bridge was excruciating. It was really hard, but Margee was really awesome about encouraging me. Having a running buddy really helped me make it up that hill!
Once we got to the top of the bridge, the course evened out and we got a little bit of rain. The awesome view, the rain, and knowing that the hard part was over and that I only had a mile and a half to go was a great feeling! Soon I started downhill and I was flying! Never really having run down hill either, I was surprised to find that it was harder than I though it would be. Going fast wasn't a problem, but I had so much momentum and I was hitting the ground so hard, I was worried that I would trip and fall. I realized though that I was wasting energy by trying to slow myself down, so I just had to go with it and try not to trip.
The final half mile or so was off the bridge and on level ground. After going so fast down hill, my feet felt like bricks! I kept going though, and counted the last 4 minutes in seconds in my mind because I was so tired all I could think about was how long until I finished.
As I rounded the corner towards the finish line, I could hear the announcer saying the time. I thought I was hearing things because he was saying "35:20...35:30...." It took a minute for it to get through my head that I was well under 40. I crossed the finish at 36:02, feeling a little disappointed that I didn't make it under 36 minutes, but mainly thrilled that I'd gone so much faster than I anticipated. They handed out slips of paper with your ranking on it and I was 35th in the women's race! Margee was 30th! I was so excited to find out how well we did because I don't think I've ever run a race fast enough to be notified of my ranking before. And there were easily several hundred women running. I am so proud of myself because this race was really really hard. I'm totally doing it again next year.