Best Damn Race New Orleans Half Marathon Race Recap 3/26/17

Smile for the photographers (free)!

Another half, another inaugural race. Just call me a trailblazer.

Packet Pickup
I give BDR kudos for being able to switch packet picket on such short notice– and communicate it to the racers — it was the right call. It was supposed to be at Louis Armstrong park, where the race began and ended. But severe thunderstorms were predicted to roll in. So they changed it to a hotel.

I still had to walk there, as we didn’t rent a car. I had to wait a while, because it seemed like every time I decided it was safe enough to venture out, got ready, and stood up, BOOM! A big crack of thunder. Eventually I got there, though, and packet pickup was relatively painless.

The expo only had several booths, none of them tempting. I checked out the sunglasses, which is my typical expo purchase, but they were $40 (unless you wanted ones that weren’t polarized); usually I only pay $20 tops for my sunglasses.

The hype leading up to the race proclaimed “best damn swag” — yeah, not so much. A couple of bars, a couple of ointment samples — seriously nothing to write home about. The race shirt is nice, but not a tech shirt.

I almost got caught in one of the thunderstorms on the way back, but thankfully just got rained on. It was the only day our entire vacation it rained, and it really lowered the temperature. I was hoping the weather app was wrong, and it would help with the race.

It didn’t.

My Race Plan
It was really nice to have Rachel @ Runningonhappy hand me my race plan and not have to worry about whether or not I was overreaching myself or not pushing hard enough.

I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan). I know probably no one but me will read it, but if you’re a real masochist, go for it.

I’m not lying when I say I’m really short!

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 11:35 AP/11:42 RP. Okay, not too bad.
  2. Mile 2: 11:51 AP/11:37 RP. That was a little worrisome. Maybe just from running that first mile too fast?
  3. Mile 3: 11:37 AP/11:37 RP. Yeah baby — nailed it!
  4. Mile 4: 11:25 AP/11:27 RP. Nailed it again.
  5. Mile 5: 11:43 AP/11:27 RP. Uh-oh. No idea.
  6. Mile 6: 11:10 AP/11:27 RP. Again no idea. I do tend to get mad when I slow down — overcompensating?
  7. Mile 7: 11:35 AP/11:27 RP. Ok, it’s hot & it’s humid.
  8. Mile 8: 11:40 AP/11:27 RP. How weird is it that this was the same pace in the same mile as Craft Classic Phoenix?
  9. Mile 9: 11:22 AP/11:27 RP. Beginning to hope I could pull off the plan.
  10. Mile 10: 11:47 AP/11:27 RP. Well, maybe not. We lost the shade and clouds.
  11. Mile 11: 11:43 AP/11:17 RP. Around now I’m thinking at least it will be a PB for a hot race.
  12. Mile 12: 11:32 AP/11:07 RP. Color me surprised.
  13. Mile 13: 11:23 AP/10:57 RP. It dawned on me it could still be a PR.
  14. Last .21: 10:03 AP/All Out Sprint RP. Sprinting to the finish line
So happy to cross the finish line!

2:32:40 — Official Time
11:37 Average Pace

So, not even half the race followed the race plan. No negative splits. And my paces were all over the place — for the most part I couldn’t even tell you why.

Flat Judy

The weather & dressing
The nice thing about going to New Orleans . . . it was always going to be a tank and skirt. Sure, they can get a cold snap at this time of year, but unless the forecast was seriously wrong that wasn’t going to happen and it didn’t.

A sparkleskirt and the Skirtsports WonderGirl Tank (use code SPRINGCPT20 for 20% off anything). Newton Gravity III.

Was the race well run?
Yes and no. Not bad for an inaugural race (it’s my fourth inaugural race, and you really never know what you’ll get).

Awesome bling!


  1. Switching the packet pickup on such short notice.
  2. Your choice between red & purple for the race shirt.
  3. I think there were enough portapotties (I got there early enough I barely had to wait).
  4. At least for me, all aid stations were well stocked.
  5. Personalized bibs.
  6. Most awesome medal.
  7. Pace groups going up to 2:50!
  8. They kept the finish line open longer than they said they would; the announcers were very enthusiastic all the way through, and they announce you by name as you finish.
  9. There was still food available when I finished.
  10. Free massages.
  11. Free photos.
  12. Free drinks (I don’t drink, though, so I didn’t check it out)
  13. And, of course, the chance to register for $10 — that’s what hooked me in the first place — that and the location.
  14. Seeing Jodi @ Mykindoffit during the race (even though I didn’t recognize her) and afterward, and seeing Tricia @ Misssippipiddlin and MB @ Tutusandtennies afterwards — even if it was just to hug each other and take the obligatory post race selfie

A lot of positives, although I still wasn’t super impressed by the  Best Damn Race company. I would say the race wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. Room for improvement, and I hope they do (although I don’t plan to be back — the whole one and done thing of trying to run a half in every state).

Finally! Close to done!

The downsides:

  1. They posted printed out results immediately after the race — and it stopped at 2:31:00 (and I finished in 2:32:40, so mine weren’t posted and I didn’t find out my official result until later).
  2. Not too many vendors at the expo — if you needed some emergency socks or fuel, there wasn’t much there for you.
  3. Although there were some signs in the park, we still found it very hard to find things. The portapotties weren’t immediately apparent — I asked a pacer and he had no idea. I also had to hunt down the massages.
  4. Jambalaya as post race food. Now, I love me some Jambalaya, but not on a hot, humid day after racing 13.1 miles. There were also brownies (and they were awesome), and bananas. So kind of slim pickins for food.
  5. The free massages were great, but there were only three therapists and I must have waited at least 45 minutes in line for mine. Not that I’m not very grateful for them, but it was a really long wait.
  6. Locals enjoyed running down St. Charles; frankly, I didn’t find much scenic about this race.
  7. The water at aid stations wasn’t cold, it was sometimes served in plastic rather than paper cups — both hard to drink out of on the run and not good for the environment, and most of the time there was maybe a third of a cup of water in there.
  8. While I was so pleased that there were pace groups going up to my pace range, they were all jumbled together. Frankly, once we started I never saw a pace group at all, and I should have been very close to the 2:30 group at some point.
  9. Very little spectator support, although there was one family out with a sprinkler, which was much appreciated.
All happy to be finished!

So more positives than negatives.

Pay no attention to my weird running form

What I learned
First and foremost, this is the first half I raced after beginning to work with Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappy and it was a resounding success for me and a new PR — after setting a rather large half marathon PR in my previous half.

I can actually have a good race in humidity — I think the cloudiness and shade and flat course were some of the key players in my success with this race; of course you can’t control much of that except for the flatness of the course! Also always carrying water in a hot race is key for me.

One of the other keys was Saltstick Fastchews (Amazon Affiliate link), I think. Unlike Panama City Beach, I had no cramping (at least, not until many hours after the race). I used to use Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, which worked, but they’re capsules and it was hard to take capsules while racing (at least for me). Since you just chew these, I find them easier to take during a race.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown/French Quarter, and that worked quite well for us, allowing us to enjoy the city and be within walking distance of the race (actually,  I did my warmup mile running to the race). Rooms have both a microwave and a refrigerator. The hotel was quiet (except for the odd noises the elevators made!).

Prerace dinner @ Big Pie Pizza

Garlic cheese sticks are apparently good race fuel for me.

Excuse the post race hair & hey the ribbon matches my top!

Final Thoughts
If you enjoy New Orleans, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy Best Damn Race New Orleans (as long as you’re good with racing in the humidity). Don’t race it for the spectators or good weather, but do race it for the bling, the flat course, and of course, the chance to visit New Orleans.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


43 thoughts on “Best Damn Race New Orleans Half Marathon Race Recap 3/26/17

    1. Well, you sort of got used to really bad thunderstorms when living in TX. You must’ve had them in AZ, too?

      I’m very respectful of thunderstorms, though, even though I’ve been caught running in them a couple of time.

      Not all the photos were smiling . . . I assure you!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A smile in every photograph! You look like you really enjoyed it😊 All that free stuff! I don’t think that I would have the patience to wait 45m for a massage though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really, really wanted my massage. 🙂 It was worth the wait.

      I see a photographer, I smile . . . no matter what I’m feeling. Unless I’m having painful cramps (I didn’t) and even then I try.

      Believe me, I was NOT smiling the whole race.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great job. You nailed it.

    How did you keep track of the race paces while you were running?

    Good thing your watch didn’t quit like mine.

    Free pics are great and love the medal. I deferred my entry to this race but I doubt I’ll run it.

    Glad the ss top is comfy. I will wear a bra with mine. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I train & have paces for my training runs — so I have a feel for how fast I need to be running (about 45 seconds faster than the prescribed pace, due to the walking breaks).

      I think I tend to slow down toward the end because the walking gets slower. There’s actually a calculator where you can put in how long your run/walk intervals are, what pace you want to run, how fast you walk, and it will tell you how fast you need to run during the run intervals. Only I didn’t actually use it for the race.

      If my watch died I doubt it would have been a PR. I can run pretty darn slowly when I’m unaware of my actual pace and there were no clocks on the course — or I missed them if there were.

      I’m more about being comfortable than how I look in my photos. Obviously. I think some people put those protectors in there, but since I wasn’t even planning to race in the top . . . I still don’t care. I love that top! They need it in more colors!


      1. Ugh. too much work for me. During a race, I like to soak in the atmosphere, look at the scenery and chat with other runners.

        Happy that it all worked out.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not much atmosphere really. And it’s hardly as though I have my eyes glued to the watch my entire race, either. Just takes a few glances each mile.

        There is actually a setting on the watch to alert you to too high/low pace . . . someday maybe I’ll figure it out.


      3. I actually set that on my first half. The cutoff was 2:45 and I was so afraid that I wouldn’t get a medal. I had NO idea what my time would be. I set it to beep if I ran under 10mm and beep if I ran over 12mm.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Marcia, you’re a beast. I’ve no doubt that you could have a good race there.

      As usual per most of my races, I was dealt a raw hand by the weather. That’s usually what happens to me.

      I did also choose this race because of the time of year — I knew it could be very humid, and I also knew that there was a chance it could be cool. It was unfortunate that it was the most humid day of the whole vacation.

      Mr. Judy would never, ever go during Mardi Gras (and frankly, I’m not sure I’d enjoy that either). There were some other LA races Tricia’s shared that sounded good, but in the end, the chance for an inexpensive race fee lured me in. Plus free photos. And pacers at my pace!

      Only the free photos really ended up being true. 🙂 Although I didn’t pay a lot, but it was $10 either.


    1. I really wish I didn’t mind heat, but it really gets to me.

      There were a lot of positives about this race. One thing I forgot to mention (gotta go add that) was that I didn’t think there were enough water stops for such a hot & humid race.

      If I’d relied solely on the water stops I’m pretty sure that finish time would’ve looked a lot different.


  3. Your posts about New Orleans make me itch to be there again. Running in high humidity though….
    Love these photos, love the medal. Great job all around.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great job! It is tough to know what will work at an inaugural, but that’s some pretty sweet bling! I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I know the humidity there can be bad. I know I had humidity in Dallas, but that’s nothing compared to Houston.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Houston is really bad. I’m sure that NOLA in the summer would be just as bad — which is part of why I chose spring for LA!

      Most of the time it was fairly pleasant. Just not that morning.


  5. I’ve run several Best Damn Race events in Florida and I always thought it was a pretty good race. The food thing is surprising to me because they typically have a lot of food choices in the Florida events, but maybe that was because they are new to the NOLA area? I’m excited to see them expanding a bit though because every race in Florida has been an enjoyable experience for me so I’d like to travel for them next year maybe. One thing I definitely agree on is their expos kind of suck- they typically don’t have that many vendors and it’s nothing I can’t live without (unlike the Disney races which always have a plethora of choices). Maybe that’s better for the wallet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe they ran out of something else before I came along, food wise? Always possible.

      I guess I read “best damn race swag bag” and thought it meant it was the best bag of swag, no just a bag with Best Damn Race on it.

      I really could forgo a tee in exchange for some better swag, but you gotta love the medal.


  6. Great race and great recap Judy! For the record, I read every single mile breakdown and enjoyed the commentary! 🙂

    I know I sound like a “fuddy duddy” regarding New Orleans and I’m sure it’s because I used to road trip there all the time as a college student …but it just doesn’t appeal to me that much..not enough to run 13 miles on those pot-hole riddled streets. 🙂 Although, I am considering going down for the Crescent City Classic 10k in a couple of weeks. I’m thinking I might can make it 6 miles without twisting an ankle or falling into a pot hole…but not sure I want to fight 12k people just for 10k. We’ll see.

    But I’m glad you enjoyed your trip and snagged that awesome PR!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to make my race recaps as thorough as I can, because I know I rely heavily on people’s recaps when decided on a race. But I don’t expect people to hang on every word. 🙂

      Like I said before, I’m not a party animal. Never have been. Don’t drink and go to bed early.

      But I do love to eat & I enjoyed both the food and the weather — I can’t tell you what a welcome break that was.

      I didn’t actually find the roads to be that bad. Definitely no ankle twisting, thank goodness!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed seeing your race plan and going mile by mile. I have those where you just can’t explain what happened either. I think you had an amazing race and from someone who is more use to it, you did exceptionally well!
    With any race there are things that some like and some don’t. I hope some of the things they can fix will be done. I really hope the city gets behind it too. It was very low crowd support which is odd, it’s nola for goodness sakes, they love a celebration. I think with it being the first year it’s always the hardest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Normally I have at least a few miles I remember what was going on . . . I really didn’t for this race. Maybe the heat & humidity turned me into a zombie. 🙂

      As to the spectators, we talked to a fair amount of NOLAers before the race — no one had a clue it was going on.

      I’ve done plenty of races without much spectator support, and while it’s always nice, I don’t rely on it. Luckily.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sounds like a great race, congrats! Humid races are really tough for me. The free massages sound like a nice perk but Im not sure i would want to wait that long for one after a race!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats on your PR! I think you were a little hard on yourself when it comes to the pacing – I don’t think I can ever perfectly nail a pace (in training or a race haha). Humidity is always a big challenge for me. I’m glad you had fun – the medal is really cool! It’s a shame that some of the other swag wasn’t so great.

    Liked by 1 person

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