A Weekend in New Orleans – Garden District and Mid-City

Although, we somehow found ourselves in the French Quarter on a daily basis, there is so much more to see in New Orleans!

For one, New Orleans has beautiful cemeteries! I regret not taking any photos because when I get cold, I become a failure of a blogger, but wandering through a cemetery is something that shouldn’t be missed. Many of the more touristy ones have been cleaned up since Katrina, but I’d say stick to visiting one in the day time since you never know who or what can lurk. Since the water table is high, most graves are not the traditional 6 feet deep you see elsewhere, instead there are some really beautiful mausoleums and crypts. Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District is one that’s been featured in countless movies, but we also walked by another gorgeous one in Mid-City that I forgot the name of. Either way, there’s something peaceful and beautiful there.

As mentioned before Tony and I stayed in Mid-City, a neighborhood next to City Park. I don’t know much about the history of it, but the house looked cute and the streets with the crazy trees were quite enchanting.

New Orleans

City Park, a park named for exactly what it is, is a beautiful urban escape. Had I not been completely sore, I would have gone for a run after the race.

City park 3

I like to title this one Tony and Liana and when Liana tells Tony to clean up after himself. JK =).

Dinos crossing

One day, we walked over to Parkway Bakery & Tavern for some Po’ boys. We got a shrimp po boy and a cat fish po boy. Both were delicious and now Tony wants to eat like a po boy all the time.

Po Boy

We drove by this artful switch-box

NOLA Art

A bayou by the po boy shop.

Bayou

Another neighborhood that we visited was the Garden district and Irish channel.

I stopped by Big Fisherman Seafood and got a crawfish pie for breakfast!

Crayfish cake

Afterwards we met up for another Free by Foot tour of the Garden District. Since it was technically winter, the gardens weren’t much to look at; however, the houses were still amazing. Also, since this neighborhood is on a slight incline, it of course wasn’t hit as hard by Katrina as the less affluent communities were. Sandra Bullock House

Above is Sandra Bullock’s home and it was my favorite. Garden District

Governor’s palace, we didn’t eat there, but I thought I would snap a photo of the blueness

Rum house tacos

Where we did eat was the Rum house. Those were my favorite tacos that I ever had. I got a lamb taco, a fried oyster, balsamic veggies and coleslaw. Tony got steak, fish, and pork taco with some polenta.

Rum House Tacos 2

We took a bus from midcity to the Garden district, but you could also take the Charles street Charlie, one of the oldest trolleys in the country.

Green Trolley

Another quiet street in the garden district at 11AM on a Monday

Irish Channel

Another morning we got some breakfast at Surrey’s in Uptown.

Surrey 2

I went simple with two eggs, balsamic veggies, and a biscuit

Surrey 1

Tony got a scramble with a biscuit and some cheesy grits.

Longest Bridge Causeway

And if you have an extra hour to kill and a car at your disposal? Check out the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, world’s longest continuous bridge! The longest of the two bridges is 23.86 miles, almost a marathon!

 

What’s your favorite bridge? I might be bias, but I love the Zakim bridge in Boston!

Weekend in New Orleans – French Quarter and Frenchmen Street

Hi! I’m actually back in Boston! It only took 12 hours of headaches and frantic flight changes and many new airports visited, but flight cancellations and snow storm couldn’t hold me back!

New Orleans was a blast! I’m going to break up the post in 2-3 posts because I just have way too many photos to share!

On Saturday night after visiting the expo we walked around the French quarters. Speaking of French quarter, anyone watch the Originals? If you do, you’ll notice some things looking familiar!

Bourbon street

It was around 4PM as we made our way around Bourbon street Margarita chugging, and brass bands blasting were in full swing. Since I had a marathon at 7AM, I stuck to my liter of coconut water! The flight, travel and expo dehydrated me, so hydration was key.

French Quarter Church

Jackson square and St. Louis church

French Quarter

Got some alligator jerky from the market as well.

French Market

On Monday night we went out on Frenchmen street, famous for its live music/jazz bars. As mentioned before, it was Monday night so things were timid compared to the weekend, but all the bands were amazing.

My favorite bar that we went to were the Three Muses.

Frenchmen Street

Along with some amazing cocktails, we grabbed dinner.

THree Muses cocktails

Lamb sliders, potato skins, and a beef rice bowl! The lamb sliders were amazing!

Lamb Sliders

We visited a few other bars, all of which had reasonable priced drinks and talented bands playing. We would just pop in which ever place sounded good for the moment and then go into a new place when our glass got dry.

Grapefruit IPA

Anyone every have this beer? I want a case of it! It’s an IPA with mild grapefruit flavor.

Since our Airbnb place was a few miles away, we traveled mostly by these cute trolleys. They worked pretty well for a few days but they would drive me nuts to commute on. There’s a trolley stop literally on every block, so a 4 mile journal can take you an hour! Since we rented a car on Monday, we did drive and had no issues with parking, but the weekend is a different story.

trolley

On Sunday night, we had a 7:30 PM free ghost tour with Free tours by Foot. After your tour, you tip your guide on what you thought the tour was worth.

Since we were once again in the French district we decided to stop by Pat O’Brien’s and get their infamous hurricanes before the tour. Besides I heard a rumor that being sober in the French quarter is illegal.

Hurricans

I’m not quite sure what’s in it, but it was quite tasty! They give you some pop corn as well, and if you return the glass to the bar, you get $3 bucks back. I guess they might have had a problem with people stealing the glass? Either way, I didn’t really wanna figure out how I wasn’t going to shatter the thing in the airport, so we didn’t keep ours.

At night

At night, the beautiful balconies turn into shadows and neon lights.

shadow

The ghost tour was about 90 minutes long and covered plenty of stories in less than a mile of a walk. One that many might know is the LaLaurie mansion that Nicklaus Cage used to own. Don’t worry, not all the stories were so gruesome and scary, some were sweet!real mansion

Do you believe in ghosts?? I get scared easily so I try not to think about it. I don’t even watch horror movies anymore. 

2014 RnR NOLA Marathon Race Report

The Rock n Roll New Orleans marathon was held on Sunday February 2nd. Both the full and half marathon started at 7AM. The race had about 10,000 half marathons and 3,000 full marathoners that ran and finished, I don’t remember the cost of it because we signed up probably a year ago to get the best deal, but I can tell you it wasn’t cheap.

Expo

There’s no same day number pick up, so we got to New Orleans on Saturday. The expo was your typical Rock n Roll expo. Huge Brooks area, some local running store, and your usual socks/headbands/running stuff etc. etc. etc. Sometimes, I like to walk around the expo and stop by my favorites and restock on Nuun, but I had all our lugguage with me so we kept it short. Number picked up, empty swag bag check, t-shirt scored and out the door we went.

I did manage to somehow register myself using my last name as both my first and last name. Luckily, the RnR people cleared my issue up in 2 minutes.

The Start

There’s a lot of things I didn’t really like about the start and finish of the race. The race starts and ends miles apart and that involved some tricky logistics if you’re not from around the area. From what I understood (I could be wrong) there were limited free parking options since the race started downtown. Instead you could pay $10 to the competitor group in addition to your race fee. Now that you paid for parking, you could get a shuttle from the race finish back to your car, but this shuttle pass was only good for the driver and anyone else in your carpool had to pay $5 or something for the shuttle. We ended up not using any of these options because it all seemed too complicated. Plus, we decided on not renting a car for the race weekend.

Instead we ended up getting an AirBnB place that was within a mile of the finish line. We got a cab for 6:30 AM to drop us off at the race start. We probably should have left for the start of the race a little earlier, but I like to cut it close.

Cab driver – “So they paying you to run”

Me – “No we pay them to run”

Cab driver – “How long a marathon?”

Me – “26.2 Miles”

Cab driver – “Louisiana ain’t that wide”

When I got to the start, I couldn’t find the bag check area, so finally I hopped into the elite area until someone pointed me to the trucks. Found them, checked our stuff, and sped walked to try to get into corral 1, just as the gun went off.

I started 20 seconds after gun time, so talk about cutting it close!

The Course

RnR Nola Map

Not sure if the map shows it well, but the course kind of goes in and out for both the first half and the second half of the marathon. We ran through a lot of construction and unexciting areas. Since I was pretty focused on running, I didn’t take in the sights to the same extent I would otherwise.

I can break up the race into 3 stages

Mile 1-13 This is the first out and back loop that ends around city park. It was super flat with no wind. There were a lot of misty sections with limited visibility. I ran it in 1:34 or so. I would say, this was my favorite part of the course and that I had a ton of fun on it.

photo 1 (6)

Miles 14-20 This felt like absolutely hell. It wasn’t that the course got crazy hilly, but compared to the flatness and no wind of the first half, any gain in incline, felt magnified. I don’t know the speed of the wind, but it felt like a hurricane as it went against me. It was also around mile 14 that it started raining!

photo 2 (6)

The scenery after mile 14 or so got more boring than even before. It was all concrete, concrete with nothing to look at. These felt like slow painful miles, where I started to settle down my goals. Before, I was running well ahead of the 3:15 pace group, but by mile 16, they passed me. I also ran for the first two hours without headphones, but as I started to lose the 3:15 pace group, I decided that I needed some music.

Speaking of music, I don’t know if it was the rain or what, but I saw almost no live bands on the course? They just had speakers that felt like they played the same 3 songs over and over again. I’ve done a handful of RnR races, and they always have bands, so I don’t know what went wrong here. Maybe the 7AM start?

Mile 20-26.2 At mile 20, I made my video on instagram to entertain myself from the pain of the past few miles. Luckily, as we turned around to head back to City Park Finish line, it got easier. It still felt like rolling hills, but this time the wind was with me, instead of against me and that made all the difference in the world. By mile 22, I realized, I could PR, or least come darn close to it. I was in pain, but I sucked it in, and tried to ignore it. I told myself that if I ran faster, the pain would end sooner. I would tell myself, walk break at the next mile, and then I would keep running and say to myself walk break at the next half mile, and so on. I would end up not taking that walk break, because I didn’t need to! However, this little compromise with myself gave me something to look forward to.

photo 3 (5)

Before I knew it, when my legs wanted to collapse on the side of the road, I started to see the white barricades indicating the finish is soon. I looked behind me to see if I was racing anyone near by, and there was no one there. Then I looked at the clock and decided to give a kick to shave off as many seconds as I could.

Nola Results pretty

My Fueling and Pacing

I tend to not eat or drink a lot before or during the race. It works for me. In the morning I ate one slice of some crappy Walgreens bread with Jiff peanut butter. Tony made coffee so I drank some of that and ate some chocolate. I also took an Imodium because I got lucky enough to get my period day before and it always makes my stomach weird (TMI, but o well deal with it boys). I did try to drink some water as well before the race start.

I packed with me a Hammer gel and 4 salts tabs in case I dropped one. There was a water stop every mile or so and I probably stopped a total of 2-3 times max to grab half a cup. I don’t carry water with me on my long runs, so race day isn’t too different for me.

Liana Flat Outfit

Can you tell I have some favorites when I race? I have a whole dresser devoted to running clothes, but I rotate only my specials when it comes to racing.

I ended up not using any gels, or salt tabs either because I was worried if I took the time to stop, I wouldn’t want to keep running, so I just tried to stay in the moment and run like a Kenyan. Thinking back, I probably should have taken a salt tab or two, it might have made my legs feel less cramped.

As for pacing strategy, I went back to my master of positive splits. I tried starting slow and saving energy for second half, but I find that boring, and mentally draining that it kills my second half of the race for me. Instead, I run as strong as I can for as long as I can. It’s not quite sprinting, but probably around 75% effort. I’m glad that I went with how I felt vs. a more traditional pacing myself strategy. I got to bank in some time at the start, and take it a little easier on the middle windy section.

Nola Results

Would I do this race again? 

It’s hard to say. While I didn’t think we ran by anything that exciting on the course, it’s a great excuse to visit New Orleans. Also, it’s a flat and fast course and if it wasn’t for the travel, I would love to see how hard I can push each year on it. So most likely, I wouldn’t run this race again, but only because I want to try so many new courses!

Overall, Tony and I had a blast. I walked away with a 2 min 30 second PR, and he walked away with a 10 minute PR on almost no training. In fact, if I told you his training, you would want to smack him and tell him life is unfair.

stylin