Lately, I’ve been led to extend my running experience beyond me to make a difference for others. So for my 6thhalf marathon, I selected the Jazz Half Marathon to support the fantastic work done by the Cancer program at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. They treat more Louisiana kids with cancer than all other facilities combined and Children’s Hospital has a policy of never turning away a child who needs the care they offer, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.  So, as much as I dislike fundraising, (I’m really not comfortable asking people for money), I refused to allow my personal discomfort to block others from making a difference for a worthy cause.   Big thanks to those who contributed to the children and got me to goal before I reached the start line.
My participation in this race we shaky as I took ill 36 hours before the race – but thanks be to God,  I made it and I PRed knocking 16+ mis off my last half and ~7 mins off my prior PR.

The Jazz Half was moderately sized with about 2600 participants.  Large enough to feel like you’re in something substantial, but small enough to have space around you during the run and not feel rushed in the pre/post-race activity.
The weather was perfect, (low 50s), and the route was fast and pancake flat.  Starting at Lafayette Square we took a quick loop down in front of the Morial Convention center (nothing really special there).  The route then moved along Poydras and Loyola and turned onto an out and back along scenic St Charles Ave with a 2 mile turn around loop (miles 8 and 9) thru Audubon Park.  Running along the oak canopied path was beautiful. From the park we returned to St Charles for 3 ½ miles back to Lafayette Square to the finish. 

My ipod had no charge and my contacts were cutting up so I ran with no music and limited distance vision.  This forced allowed me to focus inward which added to the experience and I think my performance. 
The race would benefit from more volunteers.  A few of the early water stations were a bit overwhelmed.  At one there were just a few people bared handedly dipping cups of water from open coolers, (gloves please…), and runners were waiting for a drink. 
Crowd support was also light but spanned the New Orleans spectrum from free whiskey shots to a church on St Charles that setup their choir and SANG for us from their front steps.  Recruiting local school cheer teams, running clubs, church groups or cancer agencies to come out and pepper the route with cheering would be a good add.
The bling was nice and there appeared to be tasty eats at the post race festival.  I was too wet and cold to wait in the lines but I think I saw folks enjoying a Cajun pasta dish, hot dogs and ice cream.  

W 1st time halfer Cheryl Morris
It was a really good race for a very great cause.  I will do it again and highly recommend it (especially for first timers).   
Typing this recap 3 days post Hurricane Sandy, the day of another surgery for an amazing woman and friend who has been facing medical challenges for over a year, and the day before a program honoring a seriously ill teacher/preacher who impacted my spiritual development and work as a Christian educator – 4 take aways from all of this stick with me.

  1.  We never know the blessing God has for us on the other side of a challenge if we let it stop us.  Push thru.
  2. Life, health and strength is fragile and not to be taken for granted. Stay grateful.
  3. When it comes to people you love and causes you are concerned about, it’s not enough to say they’re important to you.  Show it.
  4. God cares and it always in control.

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