Monday, February 14, 2011

Nice and easy in the Big Easy

Well, that is what I intended to do after running hard in Arizona, but looks like I ended up running my second fastest race yet. Maybe it was keeping pace with this random guy for at least 5 or 6 miles, maybe more. We ran together for this entire time, without either of us saying a word to each other. If one if us got behind at an aide station we just caught up with the other. We seemed to have an unspoken mutual understanding to run together. We didn't speak until he decided to slow down and said "Excuse me, thanks for the pace." I said the same and continued on my way. I saw him later, as we were running in the opposite direction of the other runners, and he was walking. Poor guy....I guess I wore him out. I did lose steam at the end as the last 4 miles were directly into the wind. Nothing like a little wind resistance when your legs feel like jello. But somehow I finished with a time of 4:10:30.

The course was pretty scenic and also flat, although many of the streets were fairly uneven which made the run a little painful on the ankles. We ran through the Garden District, which has amazing, huge homes. The course also went through the Warehouse District and a tiny bit of the French Quarter. It took me through Audubon Park, where I felt like I was running through a tunnel of Spanish moss at times. I tried to take a photo, but I apparently didn't slow down enough because it ended up being a blur. The course ended by running along Lake Pontchartrain and finishing in the enormous City Park. I will say the crowd support was lacking a bit compared to some other races I've done, but over all, a fun race. If you're ever in NOLA during February, sign up for this one. Plus the medal is glittery and hangs on Mardi Gras beads.

Now for the travel part. I didn't do too much site seeing as I had been to NOLA 2 years prior. I arrived the day before the race and basically just wandered around the Central Business District and the French Quarter. I had lunch at Pierre Maspero's at the recommendation of my friend Mary. I ordered the Cochon de Lait Po'boy, which was pork tenderloin stuffed with garlic and jalapeno. It was freaking delicious. I did some more wandering around after lunch and walked past this place with a pretty cool garden which was surrounded by a brick wall. But I noticed there was an entrance open on the side via some driveway, and wandered in. I think it may have been someone's private garden, but I went in anyway. No one chased me out, so that was good. By the way, if anyone knows what all the broken shards of glass on the top of brick fences is all about, please clue me in.

I had dinner pre-race night at a place called Bouche. It had a nice vibe and a wine cellar area which looked cool, but I just sat at the bar. The food was decent, but the gnocchi I ordered was a little mushy. I was later joined at the bar by a sugar-daddy-type guy named Earl, and his friend who I'll call Lou because I can't remember his name and he looks like a Lou. Lou was a former bail bondsman (and he looked like it; he was huge!) but now owns an Italian clothing store. Earl did most of the talking until a friend of his who appeared even younger than me arrived and then Lou moved down next to me. I think he felt compelled to make conversation for some reason, so we had some strained conversation while both pretending to be interested in the Bulls vs. Hornets game on t.v. He eventually left to go back to the clothing store and shortly after that the young girl left, upon which Earl tried to convince me to stay and have a drink with him. Sorry, Earl, but I play second choice to no man, not even to a potential sugar daddy! I told him I had an early morning and needed to get going but he gave me his card so I could call him after the race since he planned on going to the park to hear the bands. Sure thing Earl.

The weather on Sunday was perfect so post race I stopped for lunch at Pink Berry (yes I consider frozen yogurt lunch) and walked to the river front to sit and eat it in the sun. I did spend most of my afternoon in my hotel room relaxing since my legs and back were pretty sore. Sadly, my hotel's jacuzzi was closed for cleaning so I had to settle for a hot shower. I had an early dinner at a great place in the French Quarter called Sylvain, and had this awesome shaved Brussels sprout salad with pecorino cheese, hazelnuts, apples and white balsamic dressing, followed by some braised beef cheeks on a bed of pureed potatoes. I selected the beef cheeks on the recommendation of the waitress, and they nearly melted in my mouth. I decided to have a drink at the bar after dinner and was lucky enough to observe the unique drink-shaking skilz of P.J. the bartender/mixologist. Apparently he is obsessed with sports medicine and has shunned the traditional shaking method as it puts too much strain on the shoulder and elbows . I wish I could put into words a description of this, but I'll just say it nearly involved the shaking of all of P.J.'s body. After that, I headed back to my hotel to watch the Grammy's, which made me just want to kill Justin Beiber (obviously) . I decided I was still hungry, since I hadn't eaten much (just Pink Berry and 1 meal) so I ordered basically a $20 miniature pizza from room service. The woman who brought it told me that if I didn't want to pay so much, I could just walk down to the restaurant next time and order it. I told her, that would be great, but it would involve me having to walk downstairs, and isn't the point of room service to not leave your room? If I hadn't burned so many calories that day, I might have felt like a fat ass ordering a pizza after I already had dinner, but I didn't care. Judge me if you must, but I will not be ashamed!

But I'll admit I'm feeling the effects today of having run 2 marathons in a month, running them both pretty hard, for me at least. Time to rest for a few weeks before I start up again to take on the Flying Pig Marathon May 1st in Cincinnati, OH.

So far I've got 7 states checked off the list. I only hope that one of the main reasons I started doing this, to raise awareness and money from some great charities, is being accomplished. My legs hurt too much for it not to. So please don't forget to visit the Don't Bully My Breed website to make a donation,, or Hospitals for Humanity to make a contribution or just find out about the great things they are accomplishing.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support everyone! I plan on covering a lot of miles in 2011!