Last Sunday, January 16, I completed my 38th full marathon and 27th state on my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.
For a full list of marathons that I have run, check out this page.
If you’ve been following along with this blog, you’re probably aware that Dustin (my husband) and I were actually supposed to run the Charleston marathon this same weekend, but it was cancelled 9 days beforehand due to the Covid situation there. We originally didn’t think we’d bother trying to find a backup, even though I was bummed to have my training go to waste entirely (though I understand that these things happen.)
Then, an instagram friend reached out to share that she was in the same situation and was looking at the Louisiana Marathon as a backup. Dustin and I did a bit of research on this race (via www.marathonguide.com and www.findmymarathon.com, as well as a few blogs that I found) and determined that it would be a good option for our Louisiana marathon! So we changed our flights and booked a hotel in Baton Rouge. (And of course, registered for the actual marathon.)
We flew into Baton Rouge on Friday evening.
Saturday, we did a shake-out run along the Mississippi River (just like running along the Mississippi in Minneapolis, ha!)
After the shakeout run & shower, we made our way to expo, which was at the Raising Cane Center, about a 10 minute walk from our hotel.
The expo was a nice one for such a small marathon, with lots of cool Louisiana gear. I bought a stocking cap and a running tank with the Louisiana Marathon logo.
Saturday night, we ordered margarita pizzas from Hive Pizza via Door Dash and had a low-key pre-marathon night in our hotel room.
Race Morning: Sunday, January 16th: The marathon started at 7 am, so I set the alarm for 5 am.
Pre-race fuel: I ate half a plain bagel with peanut butter, a banana, a small cup of coffee, some water and Gatorade, and bundled up to walk to the start line near the state capitol (about a 10 minute walk from the Courtyard Marriott where we stayed.) There were plenty of porta-potties at the start area with short lines; everything seemed pretty well organized!
The Right Fit for the Marathon:
I wore an older Lululemon tank (I think it’s the sculpt tank), my favorite Tracksmith Lane Five shorts (lots of space for gels in all the pockets!), a Sweaty Betty Stamina sports bra, swiftly socks, and my Saucony Endorphin Pros. I had a pair of Goodr sunglasses on my head, but I never needed them, it was overcast the whole time.
I put my name on my shirt with electric tape, but only one person cheered for me by name the entire race. It’s not that there weren’t any spectators- there were some, but I guess no one likes the name thing in Baton Rouge!
I wore Louva brand arm sleeves (sadly, the brand is no longer in business!) that I kept on the entire race. It was chilly at the start: 32 degrees; it warmed up to 40 degrees by the end. Most people racing were much more bundled up than these two Minnesotans!
This was one of the colder marathons that I’ve run; I think Indianapolis in 2019 was a similar temperature; for that marathon, I also wore arm sleeves plus an ear band, but still a tank/shorts. I believe that cold is better than hot for a marathon, but the wind at the Louisiana Marathon definitely made it feel extra cold and added a challenge! The constant wind was 15 mph with gusts up to 40 mph! Tough stuff.
The Start Line: There was a half marathon and full marathon, and they started together; the course had the full with the half for about the first 11 miles before they would split off to the finish.
We dropped our warm clothes at gear check around 6:40 and made our way into the corrals. There was the national anthem and a cannon blast, and then we were off!
Mile 1: 8:31 – It was a bit crowded for the first mile, but nothing too bad. Man, I was so cold though! So glad I had those arm sleeves.
Mile 2: 8:21
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 8:32
Mile 5: 8:16- The miles just fly by in the beginning, don’t they? I took my first Maurten gel around mile 5. I took 4 over the course of the marathon; I think I could have benefitted from more. I took 6 total at Tulsa and my stomach handled it. I think I’ll do more next time. The cold meant I didn’t feel dehydrated, but probably could have benefitted from a bit more powerade/water too. It’s hard to remember to drink when you aren’t as thirsty!
Mile 6: 8:18- We ran through the LSU campus and then into a lovely residential area by a lake. All of the houses had gaslights with actual flames – very charming. And lots of dogs! I kept my “DPM” tally in my head which ended up with 67 dogs over 26.2 miles, or 2.55 dogs per mile! There was also a random miniature horse and a sheep in the front yard of a house- not on a farm either…So random! I love that kind of stuff as it keeps the mind distracted off of any physical pain of running.
Mile 7: 8:14
Mile 8: 8:24
Mile 9: 8:30- There were aid stations at least every other mile with plenty of water and gatorade; they were organized and the volunteers were quick to hand out a cup. No complaints on this aspect of the race, it was well done.
Mile 10: 8:26
Mile 11: 8:26
Mile 12: 9:05 – I had to stop to use the bathroom here, I lost one minute of time (i.e. the difference between my moving time and elapsed time on my Garmin.)
Mile 13: 8:12
Mile 14: 8:20
Mile 15: 8:23 – the course was quite flat, though I did notice that the roads in Baton Rouge are concrete vs. pavement. After the race, I had really sore feet- like my shoes felt really thin while running? I think it was the difference of concrete being harder.
Mile 16: 8:20
Mile 17: 8:11
Mile 18: 8:16
Mile 19: 8:29
Mile 20: 8:46 Well…things started to derail here.
The final 10k is always hard in a marathon. It’s a tale as old as time (or as old as marathoning for me!) that the final 10k will make or break the marathon. I don’t doubt that my fitness wasn’t quite what it needed to be to keep up the pace to break 3:40, but I believe the wind didn’t help me out at all! That final 10k was particularly hard when the wind gusts were so strong! It was just so discouraging to feel like I was working so hard and moving in slow motion. But you can’t control the weather, only your training, and if I were in better shape, it probably wouldn’t have affected me the way it did. Yet, I wasn’t, so the wind really wore me down and I started to give up. It felt physical, but was probably mental.
Mile 21: 8:59
Mile 22: 8:46 – I asked Dustin to stop looking at his Garmin. I didn’t want to know anymore what my time was or how far off I was getting from 3:40. At this point, I just had to tell myself to keep running, don’t walk. It felt similar to the Sun Valley marathon in Idaho in June, where my goal was just to keep moving forward and NOT walk. This part of the marathon is all in my head!
Mile 23: 8:57
Mile 24: 9:35- Uffda.
Mile 25: 9:39- My kind and patient pacer tried his best to motivate me to keep going. He really did a great job, but I didn’t have it in me to pick it up any faster. This pace was as fast as my legs would move!
Mile 26: 9:46- I was soooo ready to hit that finish line…
Final 0.2: 7:37- I gave it one last little push!
And there she was, the glorious finish line…thank goodness. It may have been my 38th time, but it feels just as good as ever. Nothing beats the finish line of a marathon. I love it.
Official time: 3:45:48
Finish Line Party: There was quite a finish line party for this race, with beers, food trucks, bounce houses for the kids, and more food. They were handing out gumbo; Dustin had both a beer and the gumbo, but honestly I was so so cold, all I could think about was a hot shower.
Immediately after crossing the finish line, both of my hip flexors got so tight/cramped. This has never happened to me before- it was intense! I was really glad we only had a short walk back to our hotel as I was moving very slowly.
I’m not sure what was different this time that caused this cramping; I worry I hadn’t hydrated enough, but it could have also been the wind and cold. I’ve run cold marathons before, but maybe not quite this cold. Either way, the hot shower in the hotel really helped and I was walking pretty normally after that.
Dustin was a great companion for this marathon and I’m really grateful to have a partner who will run a marathon with me. It was special to experience it with him; lots of great memories were made and I know that it helped me, even if it wasn’t a PR day. We hadn’t run a marathon together since 2016; I hope it’s not quite as long before we do one together again!
He said his legs were actually pretty sore, I think the change in pace from his natural stride (i.e. a 2:54 marathoner) probably wasn’t the best for him. I guess I just need to get faster! Ha! But I’m glad I didn’t fall apart completely and walk or go over 4 hours as that might have been even harder on him.
After thawing out, we eventually celebrated with oysters and a drink at a nearby oyster bar, Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar. We tried ‘boudin balls’ too, which are a Louisiana specialty.
Next up: a lovely post-marathon nap, before eventually making it out to dinner at a highly recommended restaurant for local Baton Rouge food, Parrains. Apparently crayfish (crawdaddy’s?) were just coming into season, so we had to try some of those. We ate more fried food than I’ve probably had in the past 10 years, but sometimes its okay to live a little!
I would recommend the Louisiana Marathon for those looking to run a marathon in every state AND for those looking for a fast, flat course. It was well-organized; no complaints here!
And to close things out, here is marathon medal #38! Hopefully Boston 2022 will be #39, and TBD on what will be the big 4-0!