A few weekends ago, I got to spend the weekend with my favorite former and fellow Coe alum, Elaina Mertens. We were down in New Orleans for a winter "vacation", trying to escape the deep freeze of the north. All weekend, we stuffed ourselves with NOLA's famous cuisines, fueling for our Sunday races. I did the half marathon and Elaina ran the marathon.
My focus since transitioning to triathlons last year has been mostly on improving my swimming and figuring out how to get better on the bike, which is arguably the worst of the three for me. Without much running prior to the half marathon, I felt that I could at least relax and enjoy the city. Lucky for me, Elaina is in tremendous shape and allowed me to relax and run faster than I thought I would.
The first few miles were somewhere between 7:40 and 7:50. For her, this was just under the pace she was trying to hit. For me, I hadn't seen these splits since last winter at the same race. I wondered if I would be able to run half her distance at this same pace. We were feeling so good through about 8 miles that our splits started finding the 7:20s. At this point, I was confident that I would at least be close to my PR and she would smash hers in the marathon.
At mile 12, the pace caught up to me. I still got a little faster (about 7:10), but my achilles was starting to feel sore and I knew I should have been more prepared for the race. I crossed the finish line in 1:39, one minute away from my best, which was set in 2011. I have to admit I was disappointed but surprised I was able to get to the finish line that fast.
I was celebrating my race with a traditional Rock n Roll Marathon Michelob Ultra, waiting for Elaina to finish… and she got there quickly! In 3:15, she set a huge 9-minute PR and ran 5 minutes faster than my finishing time during her second half marathon.
In commemoration of our Coe College days, we hit Bourbon Street hard to celebrate a fun weekend. We are both about 9 months out of Ironman Wisconsin. It's safe to say we are moving along toward that day quite well so far this year!
Next up: Looking forward to spring and outdoor bike rides.