Give New Orleans a Try

Recently I had the chance to visit New Orleans for a business trip.  It just so happened to be the week before Mardi Gras but duty calls and I had work to do.  I flew in on a holiday (President’s day) and got to explore the city.

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I’ve never had a desire to visit New Orleans.  The opposite in fact.  It has such a bad reputation here in Texas I avoided the city and never wanted to visit. I was asked to go to our New Orleans office to work with the team there and for a work standpoint I needed to go but I was reluctant.  I’ve heard quite a few horror stories that made me a little worried for my safety.  I even asked Joe to come with me but he refused, mean husband!  This was also the week before Mardi Gras so things were going to get crazier as the week went on.  I brought my self protection key ring (this one) and kept as little on me as possible to not look like a “target”.  Seeing as I was visiting the city during the day I thought I would be reasonably safe but I never take that for granted.

Once I got to the city I headed for the French Quarter to spend the day and walk around.  I had a few places I wanted to check out but overall just wanted to wander and explore.  First stop was the “Gumbo Shop.”  I was starving and was looking for a good lunch.  I of course got the gumbo for lunch and it was delicious.  Very flavorful and not spicy at all like I was worried it would be.

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After lunch I headed to St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.  The church was so southern and adorable with some jazz musicians playing outside.  There were artists set up all along the square selling really unique pieces.  I didn’t buy any art this time around, none of it was my personal style, but it was very unique and pretty to look at.

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After walking through the square I headed over to Cafe du Mode which is famous for its beignets and coffee.  I waited in line for about 15 minutes then realized it was CASH ONLY!!!  Yikes!  I didn’t bring any cash with me this trip so left the line.  I headed over to Pat O’Brien’s for a Mint Julep and it was the NASTIEST drink I’ve had in memory.  The picture below is all I drank of it and threw it away.  If Joe had been with me it wouldn’t have gone to waste but that’s what happens when your husband doesn’t go places with you!

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After I left Pat O’Brien’s I walked down Royal Street which was adorable and clean and full of antique shops.  I actually enjoyed walking down Royal window shopping, seeing Mardi Gras decorations on all the buildings, listening to street musicians.  It was the exact opposite of what I thought New Orleans would be, but in a good way.

Then I walked down Bourbon Street.  Completely different than Royal Street and made me totally uncomfortable even during the day.  Seedy bars everywhere, people outside trying to get you to come in and get a drink, sketchy people hiding in alleyways.  Yup I hated Bourbon Street.  I went into the Hard Rock cafe then walked down to Cafe Beignet for an afternoon snack.  The beignets were good, but I must just not be a beignet person because I don’t see what the hype is all about.  I think if I found some hipster flavors I would like them better.

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After beignets I walked back down towards the river and ended up in the French Market.  I walked through the vendors here checking out the wares then walked to the river and sat enjoying the view for a while.  I was really shocked to see how easy it was to walk to everything within the city.  Being from Houston I forget that other cities you can get around without a car.  Almost everything was no more than a 15 minute walk away.  Extra bonus it was a beautiful day for a stroll.

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After some time on the river I headed over for dinner at Acme Oyster Co.  Everyone I talked to raved about this place so I knew I had to try it out.  I got to the restaurant around 5:30pm and there was already a line to get in.  I only waited about 15 minutes though so that wasn’t bad at all.  I ordered the char-grilled oysters and the oyster/shrimp po-boy.  I wasn’t impressed with either dish and found that oysters just aren’t my thing.  Its ok though, I can say I tried them in a place that’s famous for them!

After dinner it was getting dark so I headed back to the hotel to be off the street at night.  The next few days were filled with work but I did have a chance to eat a few more meals.  We went to Mother’s for lunch and I had the jambalaya, I went to dinner at GW Fin’s and had the amazing Scalibut (scallop on top of halibut over lobster risotto).  Next day we had lunch at Cochon and I had dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico.  Both of which were good but not worth the price at all.  I also tried out the layer cake from Bakery Bar.  I wasnt really a fan, the flavors were good but something was just off about the filling.  I even tried a different flavor and same thing.  Must be what they make it with, no idea, they sure are pretty though!

I didn’t go to any parades (although there was one really close to the hotel) and I didn’t go out at night.  Like I said, personal safety as I was there alone.  I am a little sad I didn’t get to see any parades but its not worth putting myself in harms way.  Yes I’m probably being super paranoid but I’m ok with that.

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All in all I have to say the food in New Orleans is great, I was really impressed.  Most of the city is pretty nice but I did feel a general sense of discomfort.  If you are going to go, make sure you research the area you are going to stay and be in a safe area.  Travel in groups so you are less likely to stick out as an easy target.  One of my co-workers gave me a great tip.  He carries an extra wallet with some old credit cards in it and an apple iPod (the ones that look like the phone) in case he gets mugged he can hand those things over and its no big deal.  I mean, its a big deal to get mugged but at least you didn’t lose your ID and active credit cards.

I will be going back to New Orleans again for work soon but I don’t think this is a place I will visit regularly or again for a personal visit.  I think New Orleans is good to visit once and then done.  I’m glad I gave the city a chance the food alone was worth it.

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Don’t forget, I can help you plan your vacation to Disney, Universal, Cruises or ANYWHERE!!!  Here is the link to my facebook page or email me at Rachael@DreamComeTrueVacations.com

CHIME IN!!!  Have you been to New Orleans?  Do you like to travel alone?  Are you super paranoid when you travel?

Houston Rodeo 10k Recap

About a week and a half ago I ran the Houston Rodeo 10k to try and get a sub hour 10k time.  As most of you know who have been following along my running journey, these past few weeks have been filled with injury and pain and frustration.  Still, I paid my registration fee and wanted to try the best I could to get a good proof of time for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend in 2018.

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A couple big perks of this race:

  • Local, so no traveling, no extra expenses, I get to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food.
  • Low cost.  Compared to Disney pretty much any race is cheap but this one wasn’t bad at $35.
  • Late start time.  This is good and bad but good in the fact that I got to sleep until 6:45am!!!  Earlier start races you need to be at the event by that time so this was a nice perk.

Negatives of this race:

  • NO MEDAL!!!  I wasn’t sure when I registered because there wasn’t really anything on the site that said one way or another but in the end nope no medal
  • Limited packet pick-up and in a difficult location (for me).  There were only 4 days to pick up your packet and not available at all on race day.  Boo!  45 minutes out of my way (each way) to get my race bib.
  • Hills.  Ok that’s probably a little dramatic but road inclines and A LOT of them.

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Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.  So before race day was even here I talked my good friend and running wizard Amy into running this race with me (check out her blog here).  She runs a faster pace than me but a pace that I want to get to.  I knew she would easily be able to run this with me and help me keep on pace to PR.  Thank goodness she agreed because I would have been lost on this course without her!

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Fast forward to race day and I get to downtown Houston around 7:45am.  Finding parking wasn’t as bad as I thought and I walked over the the starting line area to meet Amy.  We make our way through the maze of people and to the start line staging area.  I had my honey stinger waffle and some Nuun to have something in my stomach and just like that the race started pretty much on the dot at 9:20am.  Yeah weird start time I know.  Luckily it was a gorgeous overcast, low humidity, in the 50’s day.  For Houston that’s pretty much perfect weather conditions!

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The first mile was downtown and we were pacing a little fast at a 9min mile but its pretty hard to tell how fast you are going downtown with all the buildings messing up the GPS signal.  Our watches beeped almost exactly at the 1 mile marker which was nice and we headed out of downtown and out to Allen Parkway where the inclines started.

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Now, you may remember I have calf issues right now and for the most part they were doing ok.  The inclines though killed my quads because I have done NO hill training other than what happened during the races for Disney.  There were 8 in total so yeah that was no fun :P.  We got to mile 3 and I was starting to get pretty hot.  At the second water station I poured water on my head to cool off and we walked for about a minute.  Back at it and our pace did slow down to about a 9:40 which was the goal pace.  Amy, true to her word, kept me entertained with her stories from Princess Weekend which she just got back from.  Like I said earlier, thank God she was here because while I was in pain and struggling but listening to her and focusing on what she was saying helped me so much.  In all honesty the run didn’t feel like an hour simply because running with a friend who has plenty to tell you about makes the time fly by.

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Between mile 3 and 5 there were plenty of inclines and I did stop 2 more times for maybe 1 minute each to catch my breath.  I was struggling today with breath and I really didn’t want to pass out.  The hills kept coming and we continued to power through.  Our pace did slow a lot but my leg a few times was going numb so we adjusted the goal to get a great finish time and for me to be able to walk at the end!  The sun had also started to peak out which was raising the temps as well.  Not terrible but the sun is not my friend so it definitely didn’t help what was going on with me.

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A little after mile 6 JP, Amy’s husband, meet up with us and ran the last .2 miles in with us.  Since he needed to meet us at the finish line anyway it made sense.  Finish line in sight we powered through to get a 1:03:21 official time.  Its 3 minutes slower than what I wanted but in light of all that was going on with my body I’m really excited about this time.  Yes I wish I could have sucked it up and done better but lets be honest, my training has been crap.  I ran 6 miles 2 times leading up to this race and outside of that I was lucky to run more than 20 minutes.  Yes I’m disappointed but at the same time I’m not.  I know I pushed as hard as I could and I had the sore muscles the next day to prove it.  I also know I kept my body in check because the days after the race I could barely walk because of the pain in my calf.  If I had pushed harder I think I could have done even worse damage and I definitely didn’t want that.

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I know I could have a sub hour 10k time on a flat course and a 100% healthy body.  Neither one of these things happened this race day so I’m proud of my time and I’m really happy I got to spend some quality time with Amy.  We don’t get to see each other as much anymore because of crazy schedules so quality running time is always good!

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Overall I think this race was well organized and a fun event to participate in.  I’m sad there was no medal but post race refreshments were plentiful (albeit far away from the finish line).  I have my sights set on the Houston 10k in October to, once more, chase that sub hour 10k!

CHIME IN!!!  Have you ran the Houston Rodeo 10k before?  Do you like local or travel races?  Hill, are they your friend or enemy?

 

Workout Recap 2/28-3/6

This week is the last week of running before I take my MUCH NEEDED extended break!  That’s right, Im taking a month off from running and Im not sad about it at all.  Instead Im going to work on my core strength and built those muscles and get nice and lean for my October and November vacations.

Tuesday:  Rest day!  Its leading up to race day so there are a few extra rest days thrown in here.  I also saw the chiropractor today and found out I have a pinched nerve in my leg which was causing a lot of the issues.  I got laserd, poked and jerked back into place so hopefully things will be on the up and up soon!

Wednesday:  4 mile easy run today and I took photographic proof that I was able to complete the run at almost the requested pace (11min).  I felt pretty solid, still having some lingering pain but nothing to make me stop….but the day progressed.  Friends…on a scale of 1 to 10 my leg became a 12 and I contemplated (although not seriously) cutting my leg off.  By the time I got home at 6pm my entire left leg from ankle to back was vibrating with pain even when at rest.  W…T…F.  I put my pain cream (prescription) on my calf, took 2 alieve, put bio freeze on my leg, iced 10min on 10 minutes off for an hour and elevated my leg.  I AM SO OVER THIS CRAP!!!

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Thursday:  Rest day from running and back to the chiropractor.  He thinks my issues might be back related and I might agree with that.  We did a little work but his main goal was to just get me to a place where I can run Saturday and then we can adjust the treatment next week.  The leg feels WAY better today so thats a plus.  Just gotta keep these good vibes going until Saturday.

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Friday:  Rest day again but did 15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses so loosen things up and give the muscles some TLC.  The leg is still feeling good but I put some KT tape on the calf just to be on the safe side.

Saturday:  Houston Rodeo Run 10k day (recap coming soon)!  Today’s goal was to run a sub hour 10k but with all the leg issues I want to get as close to that mark as possible.  Luckily my friend Amy agreed to be my bunny pacer and helped me so much during this race.  There were about 8 inclines which my body was not prepared for.  I think that coupled with the injury led to my 1:03:21 time.  Its not a bad time by any means, just not what I really wanted.  Oh well back to the drawing board to find a fall race to finally tackle that sub hour 10k!  THANKS AMY for being a great friend and encouragement during the race.  Your Disney adventures definitely kept my mind mostly off the pain I was going through.  You are AWESOME!!

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Sunday:  And the hobbling begins.  Last night my leg got progressively more painful and by the end of the night it was tough to walk.  Boo hiss.  Its a different pain than previous so my leg is just all sorts of over it.  Good thing I go see Dr. Stephan again Thursday.  I WILL CONQUER THIS PAIN.  Enjoy a picture of Cowboys in Downtown Houston…Let’s RODEO!

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Monday:  3 ab blogilaties videos today plus a 20 minute yoga video.  Almost no work on the calf so these videos were perfect for me today.  I really need to get back my core strength so that’s what Im going to be focusing on the next month or longer (depending on how long it takes my leg to heal).

CHIME IN!!!  Have you been to the Houston Rodeo?  What’s your favorite thing to crosstrain?  How was your week?