“This is not normal,” I overheard a woman say, “People die doing this!” I laughed out loud on the race course as I passed her. We – the Varsity Running Club of Baton Rouge – arrived at the Superdome about 45 minutes before the race start. I had forgotten to eat this morning. I was in such a rush to get out of the house for the 5:15 bus, and I didn’t realize I had not eaten until I got halfway there. It was a novice mistake. Some people don’t eat much before a race, but I have to eat. A fellow runner had some cinnamon rolls, and my friend Tracy gave me some yogurt. It was hardly the high protein meal I needed, but it would have to do. There was nothing open where I could get a bite, and I had to wait in line at the porta potties. I’ve decided that the next photo essay I’m going to do is going to be snapping candid shots of people as they exit porta-potties. The expressions are priceless.
NOTE: Click on the pics for captions and zooming. 🙂
Before the Start
The 10 K (6.2 mile) race course for the Crescent City Classic runs from the French Quarter down Esplanade and into City Park. It was absolutely fabulous. I had decided to snap pictures the whole way and enjoy the race route since this was my virgin voyage. I had waited 30 something years to participate, and I wasn’t going to spend it worried about my time and looking at my GPS. I wanted to stop and smell the roses – literally – along the way. When we arrived, one of the guys on our bus gave the newbies some pointers. “If you take anything from any of the locals, it’s probably going to have something in it. Don’t take it unless you are looking for that.” Another person added that the fireman hand out straight vodka instead of water. “Oh, and please pace yourself … I’m talking about the party afterwards,” he added with a laugh. It was going to be a beautiful morning, and I was really looking forward to the race… except for the fact that I was starving – before I started running.
The Quarter & Esplanade
New Orleans streets aren’t that wide at some points, so the race course was crowded. These big races remind me of a microcosm of life itself. People show up on the race course like they do in life. Some are flamboyant in their tutus and costumes, drawing attention to themselves. Others just want to be comfortable. Some are prepared for the challenge, training and educating themselves on what to expect. Others show up with no training and just gut it out. Some want to speed by to compete and win while others just want to enjoy the journey. If you think you know what a runner looks like, you’ve never been to one of these races. Runners are as diverse as the population as a whole. Some are big. Some are small. Some are blind. Some are young and fit. Some limp all the way through in ways that make me wonder how they can get through a race with a gait like that. Some just run for the beer while others run for their health or for their time. There are even superheroes who stride past with their capes and masks like they are flying on the wind. Others run for God, their deceased friends and relatives or their Moms. A crowded race course is filled with charity runners for every major disease and some very rare ones. I find myself laughing, sometimes crying and often motivated by the people I see moving before me in a river of bodies.
Entering City Park
Today’s race snaked through the beautiful City Park in New Orleans among the ancient Live Oak trees. You could see runners everywhere, moving like ants marching through a picnic. And, speaking of a picnic, I made it to the finish but was famished by the time I got there. I was never so glad to see an orange in my life. The race culminated in a massive party with red beans and rice and jambalaya accompanying the main attraction … beer … and lots more beer. I’ll leave you with some pics of the day. I’m tired. I feel very blessed to be healthy enough to run among old friends and new. I’m full of good food and replenished with a massive dose of vitamin D …. I know I’ll sleep well tonight.
Happy Easter, y’all! I saw several Easter Bunnies at the race today. I hope they are not too tired to get with it tonight.