Before we left for New Orleans I was checking the internet to see if there were any local races around but couldn't find any on the days I was there. On Saturday morning I had just finished a 6 miler and I figured that would probably be it for the weekend. Having already enjoyed a little of Bourban street on Friday, 2 buffets, boudain, cracklins, roast beef po boy, beignets, and cafe au lait we were sitting at another big dinner and my bro was seeing if there were any runs available with his iphone. I told him I had checked but he said he had found the Hotter than Hell marathon which started at midnight until 9am. Midnight?!?!? MARATHON!?!?!? I was thinking a 5k or 10k and it was already about 9pm and I hadn't run any kind of long distance in forever in fact that 6 miler in the morning was a struggle and the longest I had run in forever before that it was mostly 3.5 milers for my GTS group runs. But the longer the thought of the marathon sat in our heads the more we all wanted to do it. So with all the gluttony of the past days, lack of sleep, lack of training, no GU, we got our food to go went back to the hotel and got ready to run the HOTTER THAN HELL MARATHON!!!
We arrived at the event at Audobon Park which was next to Loyola University and saw a structure with coolers and 2 people who informed us that this race was a lightly supported, relaxed, honor system marathon. It was a 2 mile loop around and that 13 loops and another loop around the middle portion would make up 26.2 miles.
Some people had already started before midnight and that others would start at there own time with a small group starting at midnight. I decided to go ahead and wait and start with the group at midnight. The temps at midnight were still in the upper 80s and the humidity was pure nastiness. So I decided to wear my GUTR, run sans shirt, and carry a water bottle and hopefully this would get me through the miles. Oh I also took a few pepcid complete pills (antacid pills) before hand :)
Maybe a group of 6 started off together and I didn't have my Garmin so I just used my phone's stopwatch to take my time. The park was sparsely lit and at points almost pitch black so I just followed a little behind the group to figure out the loop which had a turn into a parking lot where we had to turn around at a certain lamp post. I think I probably went at a 12 minute pace with the sweat pouring .
The next 10 miles went pretty well I saw the RD at about mile 5 on
the loop and he had asked me if I could help him put up a tent for a hydration station so I stopped for about 10 minutes to help him out with the tent and table. After each 2 mile loop there was a white board for us to keep count of our loops so we had to walk up to the little covered picnic area a little bit off the course and put a notch next to our names. Also probably around mile 6 my bro Willie saw me and told me I should go the opposite direction at the end of the loop so I wouldn't be turning right the whole time. I was still going at a 12 minute pace but slowing.
Miles 12 - 14
Oh man at this point I think I hit "the wall" I'm not sure if it was the non existent training, the two buffets, the heat and humidity but at that point my body was done and the 2 mile loop seemed like it was getting longer and longer. It's a scary feeling to start walking this early on in a race especially when I know I have another 14 miles to go. It was lonely out there as well with only a few runners around and darkness it was almost like running on a treadmill but I had to keep moving. At the end of this loop I got to the board and would see some names with marks and the the word "out". I didn't want "out" after my name so I rested and set out to take it one loop at a time.
Miles 15 - 16
I saw my brother John, the '"IronMan" of the family he was coming in the opposite direction, he was walking I was walking with both of us in pain and as we met he said "you know we don't have to do this we can quit". I told him we only had 5 more loops to go so we parted ways and went on our journeys. After that meeting I actually found myself with some energy and started running again it may not have been the smoothest run probably more like a zombie-style run but I did what I could.
Miles 17 - 19
Each loop was tougher and tougher I was tired but so was everyone out there doing the marathon. Since we could take the loop at either direction we crossed paths multiple times and I would cheer on everyone and some would do the same for me. Somewhere around these miles the sun was rising and I could actually see the park that I had been circling for all these hours. Really gorgeous park with all the old mansions, mossy trees, bridges, statues, fountains, and Loyola University surrounding it.
Miles 20 - 24
Only 3 more loops to go! I'm pretty delirious at this point with my zombie walk/run to just get through the miles. My phone had mysteriously reset itself so my correct time was gone but I had started at midnight and would go by that. Caught up to John who had lapped me in the earlier miles and we walked some of this loop together. As we got to the white board to put a mark next to our names we rested ate some crackers and I was off while John stayed back.
Longest 2 miles of my life it was around 6am at this point which meant I had been doing this for the last 6 hours+. I took it easy walking/zombie running and stopping to take pictures.
Finally reached the end and marked my last mark on the white board and I was done. Way more walking then running but I'm proud of completing this marathon my 5th. Finished at 6:48 the toughest marathon of my life so far.
Many runners did not complete the race and John the Ironman said it was tougher than a Full Ironman. He initially went up to the white board in the early miles and even wrote "out" after his name until another runner (an ironman) convinced him not to. They said there were shirts and finisher medals but we had to wait until the after party as the RD was still racing and he would get it then. But we had to hurry and leave to go meet up with some people as we didn't think it would take us 6+ hours to finish this marathon. We left without our bling and left a note so hopefully they can send it to us.
So we went from eating dinner and planning to hit up Bourbon St and the casinos to running a marathon in the middle of the night. That's pretty crazy why did I do it? I think really it was for the challenge of it, to see if I could, and because I honestly do love running.