One Racer's Story About Making the Jazz Half Her First Half Marathon
With its flat course and beautiful scenery, the Jazz Half Marathon appeals to many runners. Amanda Evans Gros, 45, of Houma was one such racer who made the 2014 Jazz Half her first half marathon.
While her running time of 3 hours, 5 minutes and 53 seconds was not the fastest, she takes great pride in the achievement. Her medal, bib, completion certificate and the photo capturing her crossing the finish line hangs prominently in her office at Perque’s Flooring, where she works as a scheduler and social media manager.
“I’m not fast. It’s hard. It doesn’t come easy to me like it does with other people,” Gros said. “I struggle with it, but I love it.”
Running was something she could not do until a few years ago. In June 2011, Gros had gastric surgery to transform her life. She lost 202 pounds from her heaviest and has maintained a weight loss between 185 and 194 pounds. She credits running as a big help with that, both physically and mentally.
“Running is the best free therapy,” she said. “It’s calmed me down in a lot of ways when I am able to do it as much as I want to. It’s definitely therapy like no therapist could ever give you.”
Gros said she began running competitively about a year-and-a-half ago. She’s run in multiple 5Ks, 10Ks and even completed the Louisiana Bridge Run Series that took her over the Huey P. Long, Hale Boggs and the Crescent City Connection. However, her ultimate goal was to complete a half marathon.
The Jazz Half was the perfect fit for her.
“To me it was kind of quintessential New Orleans,” said Gros. “It may sound silly, but I want to get a tattoo of a running girl and I want her to have the saxophone with my time in the music notes.”
The race, she said, was well organized and had some of the most encouraging and friendliest people who kept her going whenever she felt like slowing down with their cheers of, “Go, Wonder Woman! Go!”
“The atmosphere that we experienced for the Jazz - especially that long stretch down St. Charles - was amazing,” said Gros. “From the bands on the side of the road to the people, the cops, everyone was just super supportive and friendly. I couldn’t have asked for a better first half marathon.”
Gros does have some advice for runners looking to take on the Jazz Half as their half marathon or to anyone looking to make running a big part of living a healthier lifestyle.
“Get yourself a running partner. I had the best in Alesha. We pushed each other when the other was ready to quit. While on long runs we would talk, soul search, cry and sometimes even fight. Then other times we would not talk for miles. There were times she left me because I made her mad, but we always ended up at the same place at the same time,” said Gros. “Honestly this is the best secret to running.”