Why this race? Because I have a goal of running at least a half marathon in all 50 states, which I decided on in 2018 after I had run in three states (Iowa, Illinois, California). Louisiana was State No. 22. Also, I’m a huge advocate of running races in the South during the traditional winter months. (I’ve already done races in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina in January and February).
The hardest part, though, about doing a race in the early part of the year is training for it in Iowa in the winter. These past few weeks were especially difficult. Frigid temperatures more than anything were a motivation killer for me, leading to either cutting short or skipping training runs. I also signed up for this race late, meaning I had fewer weeks to train.
The positive aspect of my training is pushed myself to go hard on my short runs, and easy on my long runs, and I could feel that paying off in certain segments of this race.
With that in mind, my goal for this race was to do my best and finish. A couple times before the race and during I got in my own head, because I wasn’t as fast as I was a year ago. But I set that aside and decided to enjoy the run.
The Baton Rouge course is one I would consider “easy”. It’s relatively flat, just a few small inclines, and snakes through the Louisiana State University campus, historic neighborhoods, and around a lake.
The temperature started in the high 30s. It felt chilly but not cold. By mid-race it was in the high 40s. A sunny day with no wind and being out in this beautiful was something to cherish, especially since it would be months before this would be a consistent norm in Iowa. In the end, there were a couple pluses I felt good about: a strong 10K pace in the beginning as well as a strong mile in the first half.
This race didn’t feel overwhelming in terms of the number of runners, but it offered a lot – food, music, and an expo of products. It felt very well managed for offering a full marathon and a half. There were lots of runners – coming from most of the 50 states and several countries – yet it didn’t feel crowded. There was good spectator support (for a Sunday), and adequate police presence in terms of directing traffic. I will always remember the cop dancing to the blasting music nearby in an intersection.
Reflection and Recovery
I look at this run as a reset of sorts, and was reminded by a fellow runner on IG the following: Your proudest running moment doesn’t need to be your fastest. (And she’s right. It isn’t for me; perhaps a post for another day). There are goals to chase other than PRs. It’s possible to be incredibly proud of an imperfect training cycle. Get out there and run because you love it.
Upon finishing, I was immediately planning to take a Restore yoga class at the local studio the next day. Goodness knows I needed it!
Not sure yet what state I’m going to tackle next. However, my next half is scheduled for Toronto in early May. Taking a week off running before doing some just-for-fun running. Then training starts up again next month.