I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans
last week a few weeks ago to attend the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education – their alphabet soup doesn’t match) Annual Conference. It was my first trip to New Orleans and I can’t wait to go back and visit again! New Orleans a beautiful city, full of life and culture and fun things to do and SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD.
I knew I would have Saturday morning free before the conference kicked off in full swing, so naturally, I looked to see if there were any races happening in New Orleans. This is how I found The Great St. Charles Avenue Road Race sponsored by the New Orleans Track Club. There are 10k, 5k, and 1mile races. I quickly registered for the 10k to try and work it into my “training plan” – the reason I use that in quotes will come in another post soon.
As the conference neared, I realized my friend Matthew (partner to the awesome Sarah over at Sparkly Runner) would also be attending the conference and quickly invited him to join me at the race!
I arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon and after lunch and a nap (I had to be up at 3:30am for my flight!), I set out to explore the area a little bit and get a few miles in before the race the next morning. I knew the climate would be different than the winter conditions I’d left behind in Pittsburgh, so I was hoping to adjust at least a little bit. Holy heat and humidity! What I had planned to be a 3 mile run ended up being a 1 mile run with a 1 mile walk back.
Matthew had 18 miles on his training plan for that Saturday, so he opted to run the ~4 miles to the race start and back. I took the streetcar up to the start and met up with Matthew. The high school where the start was at had amazing race support. All the volunteers were helpful and excited and so welcoming. We cheered as the 1-mile race kicked off and hung out until it was time for the 5k and 10k start. The cheerleading squad led the racers in dynamic stretching, the national anthem was performed, and then we were off!
|Matthew and I at the start!|
The course started down St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. There are beautiful homes and gardens through this section of New Orleans. We passed the picturesque campus of Loyola New Orleans and then headed into Audobon Park. The park itself was beautiful as well – full of palm trees and lush greenery. The course looped almost all the way around the park before turning around to head back out and back down St. Charles Avenue.
|Matthew snapped this as we passed in Audobon Park!|
Before I arrived in New Orleans, I was planning to try and PR this race. The course was flat and I knew I could do it. However, I knew as soon as I stepped outside at the New Orleans airport that a PR would not be happening. The humidity was just too much – especially without any gradual transition to it. I decided to just have fun and do my best.
|Coming up to the finish line! No PR but definitely FUN!|
I used more water in this race than I have ever used in any race before. I say “used” because while I drank a LOT, I also poured a lot over my head to cool off. The high school students volunteering at the water stations were super helpful with refilling my water bottle. They could tell I was struggling in the humidity haha.
The cheerleading squad were lining the sides of the finish chute cheering everyone on – it was great! Matthew had already finished and was there to cheer me on and snap a few photos as well – thanks, Matthew!
I met up with Matt and we downed some more water and got some more Smoothie King smoothies – yum! We also experienced a post-race first, jambalaya! The jambalaya was provided by a company called Cook Me Somethin’ Mister! We met the owner, Kristen, and she told us how she started the company using her family’s recipe and made all the jambalaya that morning herself! It was DELICIOUS! She also told us that she sells packages of the rice online at wholesale on Amazon. If you’re looking for a fundraising idea, this is a great one! Check them out on Facebook!
|Thanks for the great post-race grub, Kristen! It was so great to meet you!|
After the race, Matt and I parted ways so he could finish his miles by running back! I grabbed my free post-race beer (Bud Light) and decided to start walking back to see more of the Garden District. I figured if I got tired at some point I could hop on the streetcar, but I ended up walking the 4 miles back to the hotel! Later this week, this would probably come to be a mistake due to all the walking we did in New Orleans.