I got so much Zatisfaction out of the Crescent City Classic this year. Let me give you a brief race report and some pictures.
The cannon went off at 8:30. The race starts at Jackson Square in the French Quarter and runs through the downtown area, then up Esplanade past the New Orleans Art Museum to Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. The first mile was kind of freaky - I had trouble finding my groove with all the excitement/people/adrenaline. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath, and that I was running too fast. The clock at mile 1 confirmed that - 6:20. I am much more of a ~7:00 kind of guy.
Coach Dan at Vision Quest had warned me about going out too fast, and here I was doing exactly what he told me not to do. Mile 2 and 3 I slowed up a little and tried to relax, just trying to keep up pace and let my legs and breathing do what they normally do. I was tending to look around at the other runners, but I had to make myself ignore what they were doing and run my own race at my own pace. I really settled in.
Right past the halfway point was a beer truck. Any other time I would have had to indulge, but I kept going. At about mile 4, some group was serving hot dogs that were "99 percent rectum free" as their sign stated. This was about the only time I laughed out loud on the run. There were also bands and people playing music from their balconies - really cool distractions.
Miles 4 and 5 were tough. I started getting tired and more out of breath. It got harder and harder to maintain my pace. I felt like I still had so far to go, but I just plugged away. I tried really hard to relax as best I could and think positive thoughts.
At mile marker 5, I realized that I was going to reach the goal that I had set for myself - less than 45:00 - a really good feeling. I tried to pick up my pace a little as Dan had instructed me to do in the last mile or so. At about mile 5.5 I saw a runner from my hometown high school track team walking on the side of the race. I couldn't understand why he was walking - he's a beast on the track. I yelled his name and asked him to run with me if he could. He started running with me and told me he was walking because his foot started feeling numb. After about 20 paces he said he was feeling better. He then dusted me - gone.
I ran around the art museum and straight back toward the finish line. I wiped the sweat off my brow, threw my shoulders back, and raised my arms up in the air to look all strong for the race photo cameras near the end of the race. I crossed the finish line in 42:33. I finished in the top 500 runners and won a commemorative race poster, a feat I've not been able to do since my rheumatic arthritis struck in 2004.
The post race party was awesome - always is at the Crescent City Classic. Abita beer, Zatarain's jambalaya, Zapp's craw-tators (my favorite potato chips in the world), plenty of sunshine, great music from Cowboy Mouth, friends and family - a great ending for a great race.