Tammy Leigh's New Orleans odyssey
Report by Tammy Leigh
New Orleans was great, once I got there. Due to the devastating
winter blizzard that Friday that dumped an unprecedented 3 whole
friggin inches on Philadelphia, immobilizing the airport and striking
fear in even the most stalwart of winter lovers' hearts, I did
not leave Philadelphia until 6 pm, a full 7 hours after my original
flight was supposed to depart. The connection in Atlanta was scheduled
to leave at 10.40 pm., we landed at 10.25, by the time I got off
the plane I had a full 8 minutes to get from A terminal to E. Good
thing I had my sneakers on, because with that many stops the tram
takes too long! I arrived at the gate just as they were completing
Upon arrival, I wearily got off the plane at midnight, dreading
the taxi ride to the hotel since the shuttles had long since stopped
running. ~sigh~ as I walked towards the exit I noticed a woman
who looked startlingly like my mother holding up a sign 'DeMent'
huh? My parents drove down from NJ and were waiting for me ~surprise~!
Race day was great. Only around 1,300 people ran so it was small
and the field was light. The first half brought us through the
French Quarter, through Bourbon Street where revelers from the
night before were hanging in doorways peering at us confusedly
through bleary eyes as they pulled on their beer. I suppose they
couldn't imagine what all of these people were doing running down
the street in the middle of the night even if it was after 7 in
the morning. A few of them got it together enough to clap.
headed down St. Charles past Tulane U and Loyola out to shady and
scenic Audubon Park with its majestic cypress trees covered in
hanging moss. Marching bands played as we looped through and back
out to St. Charles. Those of us who prefer the trails were savvy
enough to run the packed dirt and grass trolley car line, it was
nice to run on the earth and I couldn't imagine why only a handful
of us took that advantage. Spectators threw the occasional beads,
Elvis passed me and complained about the shortage of peanut butter
and banana sandwiches, and my mom completely missed the photo op
of me running by. Somewhere before the half I found Megan and we
ran together just past the half, the split was 2:07.
The second half brought us around Lee Circle down Bank Street,
where there is still much evidence of flooding, water lines, FEMA
markings, boarded up houses and ongoing reconstruction, out to
City Park. (I'll leave my environmentalist observations aside but
will say the experience of running down Bank Street put the devastation
of the hurricane into perspective.) A pit stop at 14 and tight
legs around 22 put me behind my goal 4:15 goal by 8 minutes and
I was never able to make it up. I finished at 4:23.03. Ok. It's
below the 4:30 buffer I had sanctioned, and a full 20 minutes off
Philly in November. I'll take it.
It was great to
see Wanderers at the end, even if Dan & Sally (whom I never did see) jet-setted off to their next destination
a few hours after the race. Oh, and just in case you were wondering,
my parents never saw the finish; apparently something really good
was playing at the IMAX theater.
The rest of Sunday
was spent in recovery which in New Orleans means eating copious
amounts of red beans and rice with ridiculous portions of the best
fried chicken ever (or sausage), drinking beer, and watching street
performers while basking in the lower-70's degree weather. Not
only did we get a totally cool fleur-du-lies medal, the people
super nice, AND our hotel had free cookies 24/7!
anyone looking to set a PR should consider NO. It's flat (below
sea level), staffed with h2o/Gatorade/Gu & Vaseline
every 2m, and small but well organized.
Tammy Leigh and Megan Boyle at the start.
The Superdome: Where it all began and ended at the New Orleans
The mansions along St. Charles Avenue were really swell.
Megan has matters well in control eight miles into the race!
The street trolleys along St. Charles looked really inviting
the weary Wanderer marathoners!
The marathon route proceeded through Audobon Park for a few miles.
This is how St. Charles Avenue looked from the back of the pack.
Megan and Tammy Leigh are alive and well after the marathon.
Carnage, who walked and trotted the half marathon, congratulates
our marathoning duo.
No marathon could take place in New Orleans without music.
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