I arrived in Nola mid-morning on Saturday. A not-so-friendly cab driver took me to my hotel in the French Quarter. Despite his rudeness, the drive from the airport into the city was enjoyable. It was my first time down there, so it was fun to see all of the new sights. My destination, the Westin Canal Place, was a giant building situated along the Mississippi River and within the mix of downtown and historical French Quarter. It was a great location and a short walk from the start line (always good).
Westin Hotels has a partnership with the Rock n Roll Marathon Series, so there was a large sign welcoming runners (love when hotels do this) and a RunWESTIN Concierge near the lobby. I didn’t check out the Concierge (too busy thinking about where to eat), but I ended up meeting Westin’s Running Concierge, Chris Heuisler, the next day. We shared a cab back to the airport. He and his brother are running in all 50 states, too. But they’re doing full marathons. It was fun getting his thoughts on running and races. Very cool guy. Glad I got to meet him. More on RunWESTIN here.
After checking in, I made my way to the New Orleans Convention Center to pick up my race packet. It’s not a far walk from the hotel, but of course, I ended up taking the most roundabout way ever. It’s ok though – getting lost is a great way to see a new city.
The rest of the day was spent eating and wandering around. I had beignets and coffee at Café du Monde (because what tourist doesn’t make a stop here?), beers at Crescent City Brewhouse, and then an oysters and jambalaya dinner at Acme Oyster House, where I waited in line outside for 45 minutes (to sit at the bar!). It was worth it though. Good dinner, great service.
After dinner, I explored Bourbon Street, which was full of excitement. It’s what you would imagine Bourbon Street to be on Saturday night – lots of music, flashing lights, and drunk people. Fun atmosphere to be in if you don’t have to be up at 5 a.m. the next morning, which I did. So I didn’t stay out too late. I headed back to the hotel, made a stop at the bar for a final beer (and to see if any other runners were hanging out there), and then went to bed.
I was up pretty early—to eat, stretch and give myself enough time to walk over to the start line.
Start time was at 7:30. I arrived around 6:40ish. I usually don’t mind waiting around, but it was a cold and windy morning. I was freezing! People were huddled together in packs, trying to stay warm.
Eventually, I made my way over to one of the packs to get in on the group body heat. The race started on time (thank goodness). By the time 7:30 came around, I was so ready to start because I was cold.
I liked the course a lot—fairly flat and fast. The route crossed through the business and historic districts and went by notable points, including the Garden District, French Quarter, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, French Market, and Tulane and Loyola Universities. The race ended at Roosevelt Mall in City Park.
The finish festival didn’t have shrimp and grits like in Charleston, but it did have a bead your own medal station, which was cool. I hung out for a bit after the race, and then walked over to the shuttles for a ride back to the start line. The shuttle dropped us off somewhere near the start, and it took me about 15 minutes to walk back to the hotel. Overall, it was a good race—well organized, awesome atmosphere and energy, and great course.
I had a few hours before my flight home, so I cleaned myself up, and had lunch at a place called Huck Finn’s. I inhaled a barbeque shrimp muffuletta. I was so hungry. The muffuletta was good, but I think almost anything would have tasted good to me at that moment.
It was a bummer to leave New Orleans. I wish I could have stayed a day or two longer. There were so many more places I wanted to eat and things I wanted see. It was a nice little taste though. I’ll definitely be back.
Name: New Orleans Rock n Roll Half Marathon
Date: January 25, 2015
Race day weather: Low 40s, cold and windy to start, warmed up to 50s toward the end.
Race start time: 7:30 a.m.
Course description: Fairly flat and fast, going into downtown, the business district and historic parts of the city.
Race organization: The race was well-organized.
Finish time: 2:25:30
Airfare = $366, but I used points, so it was free
Hotel = $250
Cabs = $35
Food and drinks = About $75
Total = $470