Back 2 Back Challenge: Jones 5K & Gulf Coast Half Marathon


You learn a lot about yourself during a half marathon. You may find your limits, you may find how far you can push yourself, you may sell your soul during mile 9 just to be done. More on the half marathon later, but first let’s rewind to the beginning of the weekend with the Jones 5K.

The annual Jones 5K was held Saturday at Varsity Sports in Mandeville. The race was part 1 of the Back 2 Back Challenge. Finishers of the Jones 5K and the Gulf Coast Half Marathon would receive a special Back 2 Back Challenge medal.

I had been fighting a cold all week so I was less than thrilled about a jam packed race weekend. My goal was the guzzle Zicam on race morning and hope for the best.

The race gods were not on my side the morning of the Jones 5K. I felt and looked like death when I got out of bed. On top of that mid October felt more like August with 95% humidity.

I made it to Varsity Sports for the start and after a quick warm up we were off. I did not push too hard on the first mile and focused on how I felt rather than my watch time. I finished mile 1 in 7:29.


The end of the first mile and most of the second mile took us on the Lakefront path. The lake breeze was a nice break from the humidity. I finished mile 2 in 7:41 but slipped from second to third place.

The final mile took us through the streets of Old Mandeville. I still felt pretty decent for being sick and made my goal to stay in third place.


I completed that goal and finished the 5K in 23:43, good for third overall female.


The post race party featured breakfast from LaLou’s and massages from Jones Physical Therapy. There was also a large raffle with the top winner taking home a BBQ pit.


It was fun seeing many of my running friends who I had not seen since the summer. An added bonus was winning first for my age group.


I picked up my Gulf Coast Half Marathon packet and headed home.


I tried to spend the rest of the day relaxing but my social calendar took precedence. After a fun couples wedding shower BBQ I headed to a fancy seafood dinner for my Dad’s birthday. We followed that with a trip to a local school fair so my nephew could play some games.


I finally got to bed around midnight after indulging in food and wine all evening……not the most conventional pre half marathon preparation.

Sunday morning came and I felt less like death but still exhausted. The drive to the race was miserable and full of self doubt. I did not know how I was going to run 13 miles. We had to drive past the mile 12 sign to get to the parking lot and I had a mini panic attack because I just could not picture myself making it that far.

I finally mustered the courage to get out of my car about 10 minutes before the race. I did not want to waste on ounce of energy on warming up because I knew it would take everything I had to finish this race.

At 7:00am we left the lakefront of Fountainebleau Park and began our long journey. I ran with the crowd for the first mile and let my body dictate the pace. I was disappointed when I finished mile 1 in 9:14 because I usually run a sub 9 minute pace.

Miles 2, 3,and 4 took us onto Highway 190 then towards the Lakefront. I felt pain in every inch of my body and discovered new body parts to feel pain in. I wanted to stop and hitchhike back to my car. The mental part of a half marathon really got to me. I was surprised because I usually feel great for the first half of the race and wait until miles 8 and 9 to start with the “help me I’m poor” mentality. I finished miles 2, 3, and 4 in 8:52, 8:57, and 8:55.


Miles 5 and 6 took us to the Lakefront and a nice change in scenery. It was nice to see people out there cheering for the runners and it helped to lift my spirits. I finished miles 5 and 6 in 8:49 and 8:58.

Mile 7 made me even happier because I passed the halfway mark and took a short water/Gatorade break. Mile 7 was 9:25 which included my mini break.

I was excited to see so many of my coworkers on the course, who were working the race detail. Most of them cheered and one told me he would not trade places with me for anything in the world. I understood completely.

Even though my pace was slower I felt much better during miles 8 and 9 and finished in 9:11 and 9:14.

Mile 10 took us to the Mandeville Trace and on our way back to Fontainebleau Park. This is where math equations became a big part of the race. I magically turn into a mathematical genius when it comes to calculating pace and finish times, but don’t ask me to solve simple math problems in everyday life.

I realized I could break the two hour mark if I stepped it up a bit. I was lucky to have a man next to me who was running about the same pace so we pushed each other. I finished miles 10, 11, and 12 in 9:09, 9:06, and 8:48.

Mile 13 took us on the final stretch in Fountainebleau Park to the finish line. I did something I have never done before in a half marathon finish….I passed people! Usually I am the slowpoke getting passed left and right but not this time.

I finished all 13.1 miles, an accomplishment in itself, in 1 hour 58 minutes and 8 seconds. Out of all of my 12 half marathons it was sixth best time, but no where close to my personal record of 1:49:30 back in 2013.


I was met at the finish line but my great running friend Nicole who was celebrating a birthday and an age group win in the 10 mile race. It was nice to see a friend after a long, tough two hours.


We met up with more runner buddies and headed straight to the mimosas.


The post race had yummy food, mimosas and Bloody Marys provided by the Louisiana Marathon krewe, Abita beer, and great music. We enjoyed the lovely lakefront breeze while we sipped our mimosas, took pictures, admired our finisher medals, and mingled with fellow runners.


I was equally ecstatic for a nice hot shower and nap when I got home.


In keeping in the spirit of my usual half marathon routine I went from swearing I would never do a half marathon again at the starting line to looking for my next half marathon online when I got home. Then of course I bragged about finishing a half marathon all day the next day to anyone who would listen.


Next up for me is race 4 out of 5 in the Quadburners Series, the Halloween Hustle. This 4 mile race is next Saturday in Bay St. Louis. I think I will be a lot less melodramatic for this one. Until next time!




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