“An American has not seen the United States until they have seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans”.
Returned to New Orleans for the 2020 Rock N Roll Half Marathon in early February. This was my third year running the race and I enjoyed the adventures of being a running tourist again this year. The weather was warmer than normal for February but not too bad where runners couldn’t finish.
Decided to take full advantage of the running tourism available in a city with so much culture and things to see. Of course, food is a major attraction in New Orleans, and I made sure I got to sample from different locations while visiting.
Rock N Roll EXPO
The EXPO was a little bigger this year with new vendors and products to try or take with you for use later. Always exciting to see the other runners at the EXPO. People from all over the world converging with the same mindset to run and enjoy their time in New Orleans. The live DJ was a new twist at the EXPO but fit with the New Orleans experience.
Got to take a few pictures prior to picking up my race bib, t-shirt and goodies. This is a highlight while visiting the EXPO—you’ve got to get your picture taken with the multiple props the Rock N Roll folks provide. The giant Brooks running sneaker was a new feature to the EXPO this year—created a long line to get next to that sneaker.
Made my way through registration and the Rock N Roll merchandise shopping area—didn’t purchase any new gear this year. Sampled some B12 drinks provided by vendors and stocked up on Energy Jellybeans for use before the race. I’ve tried these before so no fear of a bad stomach reaction; I never try new things before a race so I don’t experience stomach issues–lesson learned. 😊
My favorite vendor at the EXPO provided massage chairs for use. Of course, they wanted to sell some of the chairs, but I was able to get a FREE 15-minute chair massage and enjoyed every minute of it. This was an added benefit of attending the EXPO.
“It’s rude to count people as you pass them. Out loud”.
Rock N Roll Half
My hotel was only two blocks away from the start line this year so got a little extra sleep on race day. Race time temperatures normally start in the mid-40s this time of year, but racers were greeted with high-50s and humidity prior to the start. This meant we were in for a race finish much warmer than most of us wanted.
I was pleasantly surprised my race corral was #2 this year. I remember my first Rock N Roll race had me in corral #24 so looks like I’m moving up in the world. 😊 The New Orleans course is flat and mostly shady which helps when the sun comes out.
Decided to enjoy the course and scenery during the first half of the race—didn’t push my pace to let the other runners thin out a bit around me. The first mile is always the toughest for me because you’re surrounded by so many people. Had to display a new level of patience knowing I could make up time later in the race due to training progress and enhanced fitness levels.
A good portion of the half marathon takes place on St. Charles Avenue which is lined with homes, shops and restaurants. It’s a rich environment for spectators to cheer runners and provide additional encouragement. This area feels like New Orleans to me and I enjoyed the scenery while making my way through the city.
It’s always great when we get to see the ELITE runners on the opposite side of St. Charles Ave. after they make the turn to head back towards the Warehouse District–this is the only time we get to see the ELITES until the finish line. They are impressive to watch run!
We made our way through the Warehouse District then into the French Market before ending at Roosevelt Mall in City Park. The French Market is always full of people eating breakfast who come out to cheer for the runners. This provides a little more inspiration to finish—please note, there’s no shade here and it started to get hot quickly so people cheering was appreciated!
Was able to lock in mentally at this point and trust my training to get me to the finish line. Took my last energy gel at Mile 11 and decided to enjoy my experience, the scenery and the other runners and pushed forward. Even high fived a few spectators who lined the streets to cheer for us—this was a fun day!
Completed the half in 2:07:34 which was 3 minutes faster than I ran in 2019. Not bad for the first race of the year and the temperature. Full disclosure, this was my second fastest half marathon so I’m extremely happy to start running season with a bang. Got two full months to prepare for Nashville in April. Another highlight of the Rock N Roll weekend is a new event added to the 2020 calendar—Clearwater, Florida in October. Excited to have a home state race on the calendar! Got my early bird registration in for Clearwater to take advantage of the low price. Should be fun!
Chicken and Waffles again!
Raved about the chicken and waffles at the Creole House last year and had to try the dish again this year. They did not disappoint! This is still one of my favorite stops in New Orleans. The food, service and atmosphere are first rate and highly recommend the Creole House if you plan to visit New Orleans.
Found a worthy competitor for the Creole House at Daisy Mae’s. Daisy Mae’s is on a side street most tourist may not venture down. Got lucky because it was one street over from my hotel and I noticed the locals going in and out. Decided it was worth a visit and I was not disappointed with my choice. I’m not a food critic but would recommend EVERYONE stop by Daisy Mae’s for the chicken and waffles. I’m not a huge spicy food eater but the spice on the fried chicken was amazing—spicy but not over the top. I love the Creole House, but Daisey Mae’s has made it on my must visit list too. Please be patient, they cook chicken as it’s ordered so the wait can be 15 – 20 minutes but well worth it!
Won’t bore you with French Quarter recaps—I drank, listened to great music and took in the Bourbon Street scene multiple times. Always an eye-opening experience!
Looking to expand my running tourism reach in 2020—got some new cities lined up to visit and enjoy while running. Who’s with me?
Where are you running in 2020? Where have you always wanted to go but have not been yet? What’s holding you back? Get out there and Walk into the Future!
“I run so my goals in life get bigger instead of my belly”.