I was having so much fun wining and dining in New Orleans last Friday and Saturday that it might have been easy to forget I was there to watch my human daddy run the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon on Sunday. It might have been easy to forget that, except for the small fact that my daddy could not stop talking about it. So we had to devote at least a little attention to his marathon.
On Saturday morning, I helped my daddy go through his marathon paperwork before heading off to pick up his bib number, the little shoe chip that would time him, and a bunch of other stuff. My human mommy took me to the side and explained to me that we were about to go to a “geek fest.” She said that runners call it an “expo.” They get super, super excited about going to a convention center to pick up their “geek packet” and then walk through a huge hall that is filled with running stuff (she may not have used the word “stuff”). She said that sometimes they can spend hours in that hall just looking at running stuff, fantasying at booths that have information about other marathons they might run, and listening to people (she actually called them “other geeks”) talk about running. I have to admit that I was a bit horrified about accompanying my daddy to his expo, or geek fest, or whatever I was supposed to call it; but, being a faithful Golden Retriever, I put on my happy face and headed out the door.
Fortunately for me and for my mommy, dogs are not allowed in the convention center so we got to sit outside and wait while my daddy went in. (To be honest, my mommy never even asked if I could go in; she was just so excited about having an excuse to stay out of the geek fest for once.)
We were pleasantly surprised when my daddy reappeared in a relatively short period of time carrying his Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon swag bag. Now, if you are thinking Oscar swag bag (the one that was valued at $62,000 and included things like an African safari, jewelry, and personal training sessions), think again. The marathon swag bag included things like a commemorative running shirt (which you’ve already more than paid for in the registration fee), some stuff to put in the laundry so that your running clothes might possibly smell a little better (doubtful), some stickers that allow runners to brag about the fact that they are runners (like they don’t already do that enough), and something called goo that runners just love to eat (I’m a dog, and I wouldn’t eat something called goo). But, my daddy was happy . . . so we were all happy and ready for the big day.
I just have one question about marathons: Why in the world do runners insist on starting these crazy things so early in the morning? The alarm went off at 5 o’clock Sunday morning. My daddy jumped out of bed like someone lit a firecracker under him, all excited and ready to go. I, on the other hand, chose to lounge for a bit. A couple of hours later, my mommy insisted that I get out of bed because we had to go see the half marathon leaders at the 8.5-mile mark, which was essentially outside of our hotel door.
They were practically a blur as they raced past us. The man on the left is Mo Farah, who won two gold medals for Great Britain in the London Olympics last year. He finished the New Orleans half marathon in 1 hour and 59 seconds. That, as my humans explained to me, is a very big deal–a new British and course record. The man on the right is Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, who won the 2010 New York City Marathon. His time in the New Orleans half marathon was 1 hour and 1 minute. Can you imagine running that fast (about a 4 minute and 40 second mile) for that long (13.1 miles) and then losing it by just one second when the winner sprints past you for the last 200 meters? Heartbreaking, but still quite an accomplishment.
After the excitement of seeing the half marathon leaders pass by (and after going back to the hotel for a bit and then taking a little walk), I started watching for my daddy. Please take note of the beautiful blue sky. We only saw that on the morning the marathon. Do you think Mother Nature is a marathoner?
I started to get a little tired watching for my daddy, so I decided just to settle down and wait. When I finally got to see my daddy at 8.5 miles, I was so excited I simply couldn’t contain myself. I jumped up so high that I hugged his shoulders. I think the other runners were a bit jealous of my daddy because they didn’t have a faithful Golden Retriever to give them love and encouragement. Sorry . . . I was saving all my love for my daddy. My mommy and I hurried back to my chariot and drove to City Park, where the race would end. That’s where we saw my daddy again at 13.5 miles. He looked so good and was running so well that I just had to bark, and bark, and bark.
Then the really long wait started. It would be more than two hours before we would see my daddy at the finish line, so we headed over to the post-race party where the half marathoners were starting to gather to enjoy bananas and beer–two of my all-time favorite things, but probably not together! By the time we left to head to the finish line, I think I had been petted by more than a hundred people. It was heaven, but I needed to go so that I could congratulate my daddy on his 26.2-mile victory.
OK . . . technically my daddy did not actually win the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon, but he did run his third best marathon time; he felt good at the end of the race; he had fun; and he got a really nice medal at the finish line. That’s as good as winning it all in my book. I was very, very proud of him.
Later that afternoon, we enjoyed the best part of marathon day: the post race burger and beer at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant. Apparently I caught the eye of the very nice Manager Rick. He appeared with a lovely grilled chicken breast, which he fed to me by hand. Bonus! I think I may be in love!
On the way back to the hotel, we made one final stop at W.I.N.O (the Wine Institute of New Orleans) to select a wine for my humans to enjoy as they watched the Academy Awards. While I was allowed inside, my mommy and I exercised extreme caution due to her fear that I might knock over some of the wine bottles. She should have known better.
I don’t mind admitting that I was extremely exhausted on my ride home Monday morning. My marathon weekend had taken me to so many exciting places. I had experienced so many new things. I had met so many nice people and pups. It was one of my favorite weekends ever. After a bit of a break, I think I’ll start training for next year.