This past weekend, I traveled to New Orleans, LA to meet up with one of my best friends from college, Dain. This trip was long overdue since we hadn’t seen each other in over 3.5 years! Since neither one of us had ever been to New Orleans and Dain’s sister Marta recently moved there for Graduate School, it seemed like the perfect meeting place (she’s in San Diego). I really had no idea what to expect from the city and am happy to report that it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, it might have just been the perfect weekend getaway. Let’s recap some of the highlights shall we?
The first day we were there, Dain and I decided to explore Magazine Street. This street is full of cute little boutiques, art stores, vintage stores, restaurants etc. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we had nothing on the agenda except exploring on foot. After visiting a few shops and actually finding some awesome Christmas presents for people as well as a few trinkets for myself , we asked for recommendations for lunch from one of the store owners. She recommended the restaurant next door which happened to be Baru, a Latin/Caribbean style tapas restaurant.
Since we were on vacation, we went for it and ordered drinks, appetizer and an entrée. The drinks, although non-alcoholic, sounded too tempting to pass up. We both ordered the special of the day which was a Caribbean style iced tea called Guarapo made with ginger, pineapple juice and I think lime? I can’t remember the exact details but it was heavenly. The picture actually does do it justice.
Dain and I are pretty in sync with most things and both had the same idea for a split appetizer. The Guacabello caught both our attention with it’s simple description: avocado, grilled portabello, lime and olive oil.
We were literally both speechless when we bit into these crispy corn chips topped with the most flavorful of combinations. Seriously, the waitress came over to check on us at that moment and we both were just in shock at how delicious this dish was. We asked for the recipe and it seemed to be as simple as the description above. Definitely going to have to try and recreate it.
As if we weren’t satisfied enough with our drinks and tapas plate, lunch came out and blew our socks off. Dain ordered the Fish Tacos which were served on a bed of coconut rice.
As I mentioned, she’s from San Diego and knows her Fish Tacos. She raved about these.
I could have easily ordered the same thing and been happy but since I was fueling for a half marathon the next day, I knew my body needed some simple carbs and a sandwich sounded perfect.
Of course this wasn’t just any sandwich, this was a Cubano Pulled Pork Sandwich served with sweet pickles, fried plantains, and black bean/corn salad. I ate the entire plate and felt so satisfied afterwards. The bread on this was absolute perfection; crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. I am salivating as I recap this.
Since I had good lighting at the restaurant and had just purchased a little sweet treat for later on, Dain humored me and let me set up a little photo shoot.
Great subject matter. Purchased from the store below.
The next morning I awoke around 5:30 in order to get myself fueled up and ready for the Jazz Half Marathon in Downtown New Orleans.
Dain had purchased some necessities the day before and was nice enough to share some bread and almond butter with me. This wasn’t just any old bread and almond butter though, it was Udi’s Gluten Free bread and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (which makes it extra special that she shared ).
I toasted the bread and smeared it with the almond butter and added a super ripe banana to create the perfect pre-race breakfast!
I absolutely adored this combination. The bread reminded me of Pepperidge Farm white bread (in a good way), so soft for a gluten free bread.
The Half Marathon started at 7:00 which was quite early for us on vacation. Marta and Dain were such awesome sports, they drove me to the start line and then found their way to the half way mark to cheer me on. I arrived at the start about 45 minutes prior to go time. This was perfect. I was able to use the bathrooms, stretch, and line up without being stressed at all. I was actually super excited as shown in this picture taken just before the start!
As I was waiting for the gun to go off I talked to a few people and discussed the course. They talked about how flat it was (which I knew but I don’t think I fully realized what this meant until after the race was done) and how it should be nothing for me if I am used to training with hills. This put the idea in my head that I might just be able to P.R. even though I ran a full marathon 2 weeks ago. So I set off with the idea that I would push myself if my body was feeling good. Miles began to pass by and there were no weird calf pains, hip twinges, knee aches or sore ankles to speak of. I was feeling great! Around mile 6.5 I took my Chocolate Gu that I scored from the Baystate Marathon. It went down really easy (tasted just like chocolate frosting) and left me feeling fast! Shortly after I saw Dain and Marta! My fellow runners were clearly not as excited as I was.
After passing them, I realized that they were in a point where I would see them again in about 2 miles which was awesome because I knew by that point I might really need a cheer or two. The course took us through a golf course and a park which were both beautiful. So far so good. Then before I knew it I was at mile 9 and still maintaining a really strong pace. Dain caught this picture of me taking off after saying “hi” to them again. I was putting my headphones back in. I love how the light is and the fact that I am almost air bound.
The last few miles flew by and I continued to feel awesome right up until the last stretch. For some reason my lungs started to feel tight on the last .2 of the race. If I am going to have a problem though it might as well be with the finish line in sight! I only wish I could have sprinted a bit harder at the end but I am absolutely overjoyed by my overall time and splits!
Here’s :the splits:
Mile 1: 8:43 < Starting out nice and slow…
Mile 2: 8:33
Mile 3: 8:13
Mile 4: 8:25
Mile 5: 8:27
Mile 6: 8:30 < Gu is going in…
Mile 7: 8:18 < Gu taking effect!
Mile 8: 8:22
Mile 9: 8:08 < Seeing Dain and Marta for the second time!
Mile 10: 8:13
Mile 11: 8:12 < Realizing that I am only 2 miles away and that I feel great!
Mile 12: 8:21
Mile 13: 7:52 < Where’s the finish line!?
Last .1: 8:46 pace < Lungs are tight but I am done!
This was by far the best I have felt finishing any race, ever. I knew that I didn’t hold anything back and I had a new P.R. under my belt. My net time ended up being 1:50:51!!! I realize that it might be hard to beat this because of the course I ran this time on but I am fully willing to travel back to NOLA next year .
After the race, I drank the remaining two bottles from my fuel belt and some additional water. I wasn’t hungry until we found ourselves sitting down at the famous Café Du Monde.
I had heard from everyone who knew anything about New Orleans that I HAD to try the Beignets which are French Doughnuts. I figured what better time than after my 1/2 marathon? The menu was literally just Beignets and a few drinks.
Little known fact about me: I have a huge weakness for fried food and in particular donuts.
I ordered a large iced Café Au Lait to wash down the sugary, fatty goodness and was in absolute heaven.
Every bite was sinfully delicious. My runners high complimented my sugar high quite nicely as well.
Post race fuel? Worked for me.
Dain enjoyed the beignets too but probably not as much as I did, I kept talking about going back the rest of the weekend!
After the beignets we walked around a bit and some random offered to take a picture of us. People were really nice in this city.
After our walk we went back to Marta’s house and I finished up some stretching, took a shower and made more food of course! In order to fuel me through the cooking process I ate this bar which is almost always appealing to me.
Dain and I had picked up some goodies at Whole Foods the day before and I couldn’t wait to begin preparing the meal we had planned on. First up, I prepared the asparagus with Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper and roasted them for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. I am not 100% sure on how long they actually were in there but just keep checking until they are still firm but good and cooked.
Then I chopped up a block of Extra FIrm Organic Tofu and cooked it on the stove top with a bit of cooking spray and salt and pepper.
Meanwhile Dain chopped tomatoes, avocado, hearts of palm, butter lettuce and goat cheese.
When all was said and done, we had the PERFECT salad loaded with nutrients and flavor. As a dressing I just mixed balsamic and olive oil with a little mustard and drizzled it over the top.
Not that Beignets are bad post race fuel, but my body was looking for something real and nutritious and this hit the spot!
After lunch, the transformation into our Halloween costumes began. Dain was Snooki from the Jersey Shore so lots and lots of sunless tanner and even body paint were applied to get her that “golden brown, fake tan glow”. I was a “Cougar” which didn’t take as much preparation but it was still involved with fake nails, blown out hair, and lots of make up! Here’s a little taste of our night.
Riding the street car into town for the Halloween Parade and Snooki looking lost…
Frozen Daiquiri’s everywhere you look!
NOLA is crazy, you can drink on the street?!
And tons of little “hole in the wall” stores to pop in and refill your glass. I actually only had 2 drinks that night (we split the Daiquiri and I drank half a beer after that). You don’t have to drink to enjoy NOLA!
My lame attempt at the Thriller Dance in one of the clubs. Note to self, Thriller is supposed to be scary, don’t smile!
A shot of Bourbon Street (no pun intended).
The next day was our last in the city so we had a few things on the list to still check off. First off we went on a swamp tour.
Where we saw some Gators!
We also hadn’t eaten any typical New Orleans food yet so we went out to The Gumbo Pot and ordered what else? Gumbo!
I loved it and could have eaten another bowl. Shrimp, rice, tomato base, okra. Yum.
I had to save room for the main course which was split with Dain. This was a combo platter which included Jambalaya, Shrimp Etouffee, and some kind of Cajun Shrimp dish.
YUM! I loved everything about this. Not too spicy and really thick with tomato taste.
After our meal we walked through the French Market and checked off another item on our last day list.
Eat a snowball! Most of the places were shut down due to the fact that this tasty treat is seasonal. We were happy to find one open and I loved every artificial moment of this little gem. It reminded me of a slush puppy but better because the ice is shaved finer.
Sadly the trip did come to an end but I am already thinking about when I can go back since I feel like there is so much more to do in this city! Thank you Dain and Marta for an awesome weekend!