Louisiana Marathon

January 23, 2012

At the risk of jinxing it, we've had nothing but lovely weather this month. A little rain, but nothing like usual in the winter, and the usual post-rain cold weather has so far failed to materialize. We've had some cool mornings, but in truth, it's been warm enough for shorts every day.

It was a great win for the inaugural Louisiana Marathon, which managed to parlay the weather with a long holiday weekend in January to come up with a destination event for runners. On Saturday, there was a 10K, followed by a 1.2-mile kids run. I had taken Vanya for a couple of practice runs, and he was set to have a good go of it. On our last practice, he ran a mile in 13 minutes, despite skipping for the first quarter mile and tripping, skidding along the road, and stopping to cry for a few minutes. I really expected to run it in 10 or 11 minutes, which would be about as fast as I'm capable of pacing him.

Getting excited for the race.

The morning of the race, he was excited, and we ended up lining up right at the front of the pack (mistake #1). He sometimes gets a little overwhelmed with sudden loud noises, so I warned him about the starting gun (mistake #2). He got nervous about the boom to the point where when it did go off, he bolted upright in terror and started to cry. To make it worse, the hundred other kids zoomed past us, adding a million chaotic sounds and images to his already overloaded senses. I couldn't get him back to his normal self, but he braved through the race at the back of the pack, in a hurried walk. We finished nearly last, in 17 minutes.

After that, we had a talk about how it was brave for him to keep going, even though he was really scared, and by the time we got home, he had something to be proud of.

The next day, we got a beautiful morning, so I brought the kids out into the driveway, turned up the music from the Jeep stereo, and we sat there watching the honest-to-goodness marathoners pass. They passed our house both coming and going, at about 14.5 and 22.5 miles. I kept telling them that from here, it's downhill, both ways.

The marathon started at 7:00, and when I went out at 9:00, there was already a guy passing on his way back toward the finish. This pretty much blows my mind. For the past couple of years, I've been running pretty regularly, so now I have some context for this. I just can't see how a body can go that far, that fast. I could certainly stand to drop 25 pounds, and I'm sure that would improve my stamina and speed both, but when Halloween is followed by "the Holidays" which is followed by king cake season, which is followed by Easter, which leads to St. Patrick's Day.... Well, let's just say there ends up being two weeks in August where I can dial back the junk food and booze.

I had a lot of fun interacting with the athletes. I think a lot of them appreciated someone clapping or saying a word or two for them. Some of the ladies liked seeing little kids on the route. One person thanked me for having music blaring. I always liked blaring music when I would do long bike tours too.

If you're interested in keeping virtual tabs on each other, hit me up on RunKeeper. I'm pretty proud of what I've done in January. For some reason, I came back from Russia with the stamina to go forever, although at only a glacially slow pace. All that walking with a backpack of tourist gear on my back and a 400-pound baby anchored to my chest did me some good, I guess.