Friday, January 30, 2015

Rock n Roll NOLA Recap

Sunday morning I work up a few minutes before the alarm. Lauren had been awake for a little bit and had gone down to get a bottle of soda and water. I get ready in the same order for every race, first my race outfit, then KT Tape my foot then put on my socks. I save my shoes for right before I leave for the start line.

Jaimee had woken up while we were getting ready. She has no idea how much she helped calm my nerves. We left the room about 6:30am to get to the start line by 7am.

It was a little chilly in the morning, thankfully I packed my arm warmers. Lauren and I made our way to the start line to take some pictures. We had decided we would start in corral 7 since that was my corral. We were dancing and singing in our corral, we had a great time.

I tried to start my garmin and it couldn’t connect. When it finally did, it shut itself down. I ended up just setting it on timer mode. Ugh, guess this made my decision to run with a watch a little easier. It took Lauren and I about 15 minutes to make it to the start line. We were super excited that Lil John was paying us off.

The first part of the race was an out and back down St. Charles Street. An absolutely beautiful area with huge homes, power lines covered in beads and tons of dogs. I knew I would see Leah, a fellow Sparkly Soul ambassador, at the first water stop. I was so excited to see her!! A quick hello and we continued on.

We could see the leaders finishing the out and back portion of the race by mile three. I saw Jen and fan girled like crazy! She looked fantastic and you could see how happy she was to hear the cheers. It made me feel so good to be able to do that for her! She ended up placing third in the half with a 1:15! I’m not kidding, she is my hero!

Jen and I from the Great Race in October!

By mile four we had ditched the arm sleeves, and had a quick potty stop. We made the turn around and we were still trucking along at a decent pace, about 11:23 pace I believe. I had said to Lauren when we hit the 10K mark that I was very surprised at the lack of music. We had only seen two bands up until the end of the out and back, and I thought there was supposed to be a band at every mile. 

We came to the end of the out and back and I saw Leah again!! I stopped so we could take a picture, thanked her for the support and trucked along.

We turned right into the sun out of the out and back, and it was pretty much silent. Just me and Lauren chatting and feeding off of each other, it was something I had never experienced in a race. I am so grateful for this entire experience, and we are only 8ish miles in. We saw some bagpipers that were really cool, but that was the first band we had seen in maybe two miles.

As we made our way towards the French Quarter, we spotted our hotel. It was actually kind of nice to see something you remember. We ran towards Jackson Square and wanted to stop at Café Du Monde. We brought money with us so we could buy some. The line was wrapped around the building! We were really upset. We reached the 10 mile mark, and Lauren told me she had never ran 10 miles that fast in a race before. I was so happy to have that moment with her.

We turned towards the half/full split and ran near a beautiful cemetery and fun houses. There are still no bands and barely any spectators. Me and Lauren are thanking the police officers and volunteers the entire way. Some random people would have their own tables set up to give out water and pretzels and beads! It took 11 miles, but I had finally gotten beads!

When we reached the half/full split I texted Joe and Jaimee to let them know where we were. 

No turning back now!

My mom had been texting me that I wasn’t sending her enough pictures, my best friend congratulated me and my brother wanted to talk about wrestling. Lauren really wanted to use a real bathroom right before mile 14. She asked me if it was alright if she stopped at Subway, I was fine with it. It gave me time to text everyone back!

This is what everyone got texted.

When Lauren came out, she was carrying a Coke. I was dying!

Girl wanted a Coke!

Mile 14 is my favorite mile of a marathon. It is the first mile where you are gaining on the distance, and there is no turning back anymore! The best part about mile 14 in this race, there was beer!!

I run for beer sometimes!

Not only beer, there was martini’s and candy and just an incredible amount of energy. It was amazing. There are little to no spectators out at this point and no music. I was running with one headphone in because I needed something.

We made our way to City Park at about mile 16. I can tell Lauren is starting to not feel this anymore. I need to keep her positive. I tell her she is doing a fantastic job and I couldn’t have gotten this far without her, which was the truth. City Park is beautiful. There was so many missed opportunities for music or cheer sections SOMETHING ANYTHING! It was a whole lot of nothing but green landscape and blue skies.

Right around mile 17 is another stand with Beer. I take another beer and chug it. We are our own entertainment right now, I might as well enjoy the ride! Lauren is walking a lot more at this point. Luckily a Team in Training coach comes up to us and starts distracting Lauren by asking her who she runs for. He then tells us that he is a cancer survivor and he is so honored to have people like her run for people like him.

Cue Lauren’s tears.

We made it to the next water stop then started running again. As we turned to the last out and back part of the course, we were warned by another TnT coach that it is a four mile out and back but the head winds coming back are really awful. Lauren is trying not to throw up at this point. We had decided early on that we would run together for the first 18-20 miles then if I felt good I would run the final miles alone. At just about mile 19 Lauren turned to me and told me she wanted me to go. I made her promise she would not sit down and she would keep going. We hugged and I told her how proud I was of her and I started running.

Could not have done it without you!

The out and back was along the water. It also included the only hills of the course. I felt amazing running miles 19 and 20. 

It was perfect.

I knew I wouldn’t go sub-5 at this point, I just wanted to finish. I made the turn a little after mile 20 and was instantly hit by the headwind. I tried to run, but I wasn’t gaining any ground. I ended up walking the hills, and running the down. I saw Lauren when I hit mile 21 and warned her.

The only "hills"

Mile 21 felt like the longest mile I have ever ran in my life. Thank goodness I didn’t have my GPS on and that I had my IPod with me. There are still no bands. I haven’t seen a band since before we entered City Park over six miles ago! Rock and Roll Marathon, huh?

After what felt like an eternity, I saw mile 23. I never saw the 22 mile marker.  Only a 5K to go, I can do this.

I saw a woman next to me who I could tell was struggling. I told her she was almost there and offered her some of my water. We chatted for a little, there was a water stop ahead so I said I would walk with her to there. She thanked me and I said goodbye and started again.

Mile 24 turned back into City Park. I saw the TnT coach who made Lauren cry and he ran a little with me. He said he would go back and find Lauren and I needed to focus on me and finish. I wish I could have seen him again and thanked him. Running through City Park was the highlight of this race for me. I don’t know if I have the words to describe how much the park warmed my soul. Seeing green grass, leaves on trees and the sun was perfect.

When I saw mile 25 I had a moment.

The entire mile I ran through my head everything the past two months have put me through. Starting with the diagnosis, the pain I was in, the boot EVERYTHING! Look where I am now. I am 25 miles in to this race that I so badly wanted to do. I am going to finish, and I am going to finish strong.

There was a guy in front of me wearing a Pittsburgh Marathon shirt and I wanted to talk to him. He was super nice. He was from Chicago and really enjoyed running in Pittsburgh. We ran over a little bridge and I saw the mile 26 sign. Not only did I see the mile 26 sign, I saw my friend Jenn and her husband! I ran over to them and hugged them.

I saw the chute that was leading to the finish line, I knew Jaimee was close. I saw her and surprised her! I ran to her and gave her a huge hug. She is the reason I got back in to running in 2012, and I was so happy to share this moment with her. I sprinted to the finish line and shed a single tear.

I just finished my fourth marathon!!

This was my slowest marathon, 5:36. I don’t even care. 

I made it out of the finishers chute and found Jaimee. I got the extra beads for my medal and picked up my finishers coat. Jenn and her husband found us and they had crushed their goal by almost 10 minutes!

Lauren finished not too long after.

After the initial “YAY I FINISHED” settled in, I turned to Lauren and I told her I was very disappointed by this race. I expected so much more by a race branded by ROCK AND ROLL! We maybe saw five bands the entire 26.2 miles and there were very little spectators. I was very upset. Lauren just shrugged and said “That’s a Rock n Roll marathon.”

It is really sad because I had heard such amazing things about this race and the atmosphere. I got none of that. There was more entertainment in Pittsburgh and Columbus, and those were not Rock n Roll races. I’ll just say this, if I wasn’t already signed up for DC, I’m not sure I would have after doing this race.

See you in March.

I cannot thank Lauren enough for this amazing race experience. I am being very serious when I say I couldn’t have done this without her. Running has given me so much, but the friends I have made through my journey is the most important thing. I also need to thank Jaimee for spending her weekend with me in NOLA and for her and Josh housing me in Baton Rouge. These two are like family to me, so getting to spend time with them is always a plus.

Have you ever ran a Rock n Roll race? Did you have a similar experience to mine?


  1. I was thinking of signing up for the Rock n Roll New Orleans race for 2016 so thanks so much for your recap! Really sad to hear that they didn't have a lot of bands - that's very disappointing. I'm still debating on signing up for the Washington DC race!

  2. I cried reading this! I am so proud of both of my amazing, beautiful, strong friends! Love you! Congratulations again :-)

  3. Wow, that does seem disappointing for something with the Rock n Roll name on it. I loved the recap though! congrats on marathon #4! The beer pic is great.

  4. I cried reading this! I'm so proud of you and inspired by you!

    It's super disappointing that there weren't more bands/spectators - maybe DC will be better? :-/

    I've been researching and I think I'm going to be able to do a 10k when I'm in NOLA in March!

  5. Congratulations! I can totally see what you meant by the green grass, trees, blue sky, and sun warming your soul. It would be awesome to run in that in January. I have read recaps from others who ran this race and also commented on the lack of entertainment. Like you, I've heard a lot about how awesome R&R races are, so maybe it was an off year/course for them?

  6. Congratulations Steff! My first RnR experience was Philly and I had the same feelings as you. I've participated in several other races with more bands! I ran RnR DC last year b/c they gave out a discount code and its my home. I'll prob run the 5K this year.

  7. Congratulations!! I am so proud of you and you overcoming your boot! You worked so hard for these 26.2 miles, that it doesn't come down to what time you finished in, it's just about finishing! Congrats!!

    I am anxious to see how DC is. The more and more I hear and see about RNR series, the more and more I start to not like it.

  8. Congrats on just making it to this race and finishing it. Shows a lot of dedication to come out of a walking boot and miss so much training and still make it to the finish line

  9. Great job, the first half of rock 'n' Roll races is always my favorite. When you turn and it is just the full marathoners it gets kind of sad.

  10. Congrats on your race. Nice comeback! BTW I've done several rock n roll races and they're all pretty crappy. :( womb womp

  11. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    Thank you Shaun!

  12. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    Thanks buddy! I hope DC is a little better!

  13. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    Thanks!! I hope to see you in DC!!

  14. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    Thanks Jenn! When I came back to snow I wanted to cry. I missed the beautiful weather!

  15. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:26 PM

    You are welcome Kimberly! I read recaps before I sign up for races and wanted to make sure people saw a non sponsored RnR recap!

  16. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Thank you Nichole! I was all about enjoying the ride!

  17. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Thanks Lauren! You will really like NOLA, it's a fun town and super flat!!

  18. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Thank you Sarah!!!

  19. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Thank you! I would rather run a bunch of little races for the same amount of money!

  20. Steffany Smith RubelFebruary 2, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Thanks! I would think that the full marathon would be the draw of a race, but live and learn!

  21. I facilitated at a sorority's leadership conference this weekend and my co-facilitator is from Louisiana (a town 45 minutes from NOLA) and she is a runner! She started her local running club and is always planning races! I told her I might be asking for her thoughts about other awesome NOLA races to run! (I also told her to come run Pittsburgh haha!)