Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Few people know that for the last six months, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been moonlighting.
Most mornings he would leave the house before sunrise at 4:30 a.m., to pound the pavement to accomplish something he's never done before, running a marathon.
All morning long, walkers and joggers, and even the gardeners in City Park, stop the mayor for a hug, a high five, a fist bump, wishing him well.
This is why Landrieu has to put in his 20-mile training run before the sun comes up.
On his last pre-race jog around Big Lake in City Park, people want to socialize. But for the mayor, it's serious business. He's running the New York City Marathon on Sunday, his first ever. And preparing to run 26.2 miles takes focus and discipline.
"I've run over 620 miles in the last six months. Isn't that crazy? I mean, that's insane right?"
With job demands, being a husband and father of five, he combined work with his goal.
"The city is an amazingly beautiful place at 5 o'clock in the morning when you get to run all over the place, and plus, I get to check out where every pothole is," he said. "This morning I was running on St. Charles Avenue. A streetlight was down, so as soon as I got back, I called in, I said, 'There's a streetlight down on Nashville and St. Charles Avenue.'"
Long solo hours of training gave him new respect for his body. He's down 12 pounds.
"I've started really eating more fruits and vegetables. I quit drinking as much. I always like have a gin and tonic every now and then," he said, laughing.
It also gave him time to think.
"It gives me time to be just by myself, which we rarely get a chance to do, and a lot of times we need to take a step back, you know, from all the daily grind of our lives. It gives you a chance to pray. It gives you a chance to think about what you're going to do during the day. It gives you a lot of times to think about all the mistakes that you made the day before, which is sometimes the hardest part and to rethink it."
With five half-marathons under his belt, why now at 51 years of age?
"I'm really going to just send a message, you know, to number one, hit a personal goal and number two, just send a message to the people of New Orleans you can do anything that you set your mind to," he said. "All of us can do that."
His game-day shirt, part advertisement and part personal pride, will read 'New Orleans Forever.'
"We're going to go to New York and with 45,000 of my 'best friends' in the world, I'm going to try to make it across the finish line."
He has calculated his possible finish time.
"I'm probably going to run it in about five and a half hours."
And he will cross that finish line with Bruce Springsteen on the iPod.
"I'm hooked up on my iPod. I've got James Brown, Luther Vandross, all right, and I'm finishing, I already know what I'm finishing with. I'm finishing with Bruce Springsteen which is 'Born To Run.' As soon as I hit, as soon as I hit Central Park, I'm putting 'Born Too Run' on and I'm just kind of letting the rest of it take care of itself."
And the mayor said that putting in long runs before sunrise did not make him tired, it actually gave him more energy all day, which is what exercise and being fit does.
And even on business trips, he ran in Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
For his entire conversation with Meg and her tips to the mayor from her London Marathon run in 1995 to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on its Team In Training, click here.