new orleans 2014

Feb 26th 2014 01:19:06 pm

Jackson Square, New Orleans

I was really looking forward to our trip to New Orleans earlier this month. I had so much fun visiting the “Big Easy” with my brother Seth in 2012, I was eager to go back. The history, culture, and food in New Orleans is so unique and exciting… but the trip didn’t quite live up to my high expectations.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

The bummer stuff:

We really had a perfectly fine trip, but there were some things that brought the experience down a bit…

  • We had a few good sunny days, but mostly we had a lot of foggy, overcast weather.
  • I’ll give more details below, but my Half Marathon was really tough! I had wanted to run hard for this race since it was my official winter Team in Training event, but I couldn’t get my pace up and I felt sluggish the whole time. I was also inexplicably REALLY sore after the race.
  • I rolled my ankle pretty badly while walking around the day after the race. It is still a little swollen.
  • Our trip was longer than planned, March 30th to February 5th — a full week!! Our flight home was cancelled on Tuesday and so we ended up staying an extra day. But then the flight was delayed multiple times on Wednesday, which basically wasted the whole day. I tried to enjoy the extra time, but I was very ready to be home!
  • We didn’t take any tours or go to any museums. I love the history of New Orleans and didn’t feel as immersed in it this trip.

nolatravis

So, nothing too terrible happened… I got to spend a lot of quality time with Travis and hang out with many of our good friends. Plus, we WERE there to run a race with Team in Training, so that was the main focus. Here is my overview of the race…

neworleanshalf

New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon:

Rock N Roll races are large, well-organized events and New Orleans was no different. (I’ve run the Rock N Roll marathon in San Diego twice.) The race started near Lafayette Square near our hotel in the Central Business district.

The temperature in the 50s was perfect, but it was extremely foggy!! It might have been the foggiest race I’ve run, even more so than the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco when we couldn’t see the Golden Gate Bridge! The air felt a little thick and humid, and it was hard to see the lovely scenery as we ran through the mansions of the Garden District and the streets of the French Quarter. You couldn’t even see the cathedral across Jackson Square! It was intense.

neworleanshalf3

I woke up cranky, but I tried to feel confident for the first three miles. I thought maybe my sluggish legs would shake themselves out, but it didn’t happen. The course was completely flat, but I still struggled through the whole race. I ran alone the entire time and sprinted the end only because I wanted to be done. It was overcast and cold by the time the race ended, but we received two medals — a beaded one for the race and an extra one for doing it with a charity organization — and my 20th official Half Marathon was completed!

neworleanshalf2

The finish area was in City Park. It was a little muddy and crowded, but they gave out lots of great food (including chocolate milk) and the Team in Training tent was stocked with goodies. I met Travis (he PRd!) and lots of my friends (Hi, Brian! Hi, Jess!) on the sidelines and we waited to cheer in our full marathoners. Travis and I waited until our friend Nate finished (with a PR!) and then headed back to our hotel.

I was exhausted after the race and must not have been good about replacing my electrolytes. I was too wiped out to enjoy our team victory party or to watch the Super Bowl with the team, but Travis and I did manage to go out to dinner at Sylvain’s which revived me a bit.

Second only to our fun friends and awesome Brooklyn team, the food was the best part of the trip!!

Acme Oyster House, New Orleans

Restaurants:

New Orleans food is heavy and rich — lots of fried food, seafood, and meat — but it is delicious. I would recommend all of these restaurants we tried…

nolamuffeleta

Cafe Du Monde – The classic breakfast place for beignets and coffee. Open 24 hours!! I really like their coffee. A lot. Get the frozen cafe au lait.

Cochon – My favorite! Lots of meat. We ate a fabulous dinner with friends at the “sit down” restaurant and ordered just about everything. (I loved the fried alligator!) Then, Travis and I also got amazing sandwiches for lunch one day at the Cochon Butcher next door. I ordered the muffuletta, which was nearly as good as the original from Central Grocery…

Central Grocery – Grab a giant muffuletta sandwich and Zapp’s chips to go at this French Quarter store front and eat them in Jackson Square or on the water front. It is the best sandwich I have ever eaten. Seriously. I dream about it.

Sylvain’s – Sort of fancy “new southern.” I had a tiny quail. It was delicious.

Elizabeth’s – A New Orleans MUST with a relaxed, slightly hipster atmosphere. Go for brunch. Get the best bloody mary ever and the praline bacon.

nolaelizabeths

Court of the Two Sisters – We went for the all you-can-eat Jazz Brunch. It was plenty good with tons of options, but a little pricey and very touristy.

Acme Oyster House – Fresh oysters, charbroiled oysters, fried oysters – I tried them all! And Travis said this was his favorite po’boy of the trip. You almost always have to wait in line for a table at the French Quarter location, but it is fun and worth it.

Mother’s – Classic southern comfort food. You might have to wait in line, but the tables turn over really fast in this large, totally casual, 80-year-old restaurant. Get a po’boy with “debris” or the jambalaya or the baked ham.

Magasin Cafe – There is a very large Vietnamese population in New Orleans, so there are many restaurant options for delicious pho, and banh mi, and spring rolls. Travis and I chose Magasin on the suggestion of a friend and we loved it. It’s a great spot to eat after walking around the mansions of the Garden District and the shops on Magazine Street.

Sucre – My favorite New Orleans bakery with my favorite King Cake. (FYI: You can get the cakes delivered anywhere in the US!) Travis loved it and we visited Sucre three times during the trip! Wow.

nolakindcake

Other fun New Orleans stuff:

Food really was the highlight of the trip, but we managed to fit in some other fun stuff. Riding the street car from the French Quarter over to the Garden District was fun and easy. Once there, we walked around checking out the pretty mansions and the fascinating cemeteries. Of course, strolling through the French Quarter is a MUST. We walked down Bourbon Street and I stopped in Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. (Travis thought it was a little too spooky.) I think a photo op in Jackson Square is a requirement of every Nola trip, and a stroll through the french market near the river front is great for souvenir hunting. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is a fun evening stop. I had a milk punch — pretty tasty! We had the opportunity to visit with our friend Amanda’s cousin at his beautiful home near Lake Pontchartrain one evening, which was delightful. I would definitely recommend getting out of the city center if possible and talking with some locals. It is amazing to hear how the city has come back after Hurricane Katrina.

nolamasks

Overall, it was a good trip and I’d totally recommend visiting New Orleans to anyone. But just like anywhere else, things could not go as planned, so it is helpful to stay flexible… and maybe not have TOO high of expectations. I think that was my major downfall this trip. Maybe some day I’ll go back and JUST visit every museum in the city!

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Check out all 100+ photos from New Orleans on Flickr.

2 Comments » Categories: Food, Friends, running, Team In Training, Travel, Travis

bermuda 2014

Jan 26th 2014 02:09:05 pm

bermuda_wave

It is snowing and nineteen degrees in Brooklyn today and I am really missing Bermuda! Turquoise water + pink sand + sun = a welcome combination in the middle of a NY winter.

bermuda_couple

Travis and I took our second trip to Bermuda last weekend. We took our first trip to the Atlantic Ocean island last year to run the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, and we returned for the same reason… and because it is such an easy trip!

Bermuda is just a two-hour flight from NYC. Since it is the off-season, plane tickets are cheap and we split a hotel room with two other friends. So, overall, a relatively inexpensive and quick island adventure!

bermuda_rachel

We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton hotel again. The hotel is across the bay from the main city of Hamilton, but it is right near the most spectacular beach on the island, Horseshoe Bay. (Rated the #8 beach in the world!) It also happened to be the team hotel for our New York City Team in Training Chapter.

bermuda_privatecove

Travis and I are a mentor and social captain for our Brooklyn TNT group and even though the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon next weekend is our official winter season event, we couldn’t pass up going to Bermuda with the Team, too. It was a much smaller TNT group than last year, but we still had a wonderful time.

bermuda_team

We got in late on Thursday night, ordered room service, and hung out with our BK roommates and friends. (Hi Joel, Amanda, Roshan, and Jon!) Friday was overcast, but we still made it to the beach. We checked out the private cove, saw the parrot fish, climbed some rocks, and checked out the beach cave. It was too cold for swimming, but we waded in the water a bit.

Then, we headed into town for the first event of the Triangle Challenge, the Front Street Mile! I ran the mile slightly faster than last year, with a finish time of 8:35. Not too speedy, but I haven’t been doing any speed training this season, so it serves me right. After, we hung around and watched all of the mile races, from the kids to the elites. It was a fun and exciting parade atmosphere in Hamilton, with everyone out on Front Street to spectate.

bermuda_10kjump

Saturday we got up early for the 10k. It was raining. Boo. I was cranky. I was worried about the success of the weekend when we arrived at the race start and our tiny Team was all huddled under a tent trying to stay dry. But everyone brought their PMAs (positive mental attitudes) and headed out in the rain to tackle 6 miles of hills. Despite the rain, everyone was thrilled to finish their race and I was feeling much more positive after – as evidenced by this epic jump shot!

It rained and rained and rained all day on Saturday. We basically napped the day away before heading to the Team inspiration dinner. Our friend and teammate, Shelly, told her story of how she has been living with leukemia for nearly 10 years. She is so sweet, and funny, and inspiring. It was a wonderful evening.

bermuda_swing

The weather was MUCH better for the half marathon – a little overcast and cool. I ran the race nice and easy with my friend Jon. We goofed off with our teammates, stopped for some swinging and some beer, and I managed to take a few photos. I felt really strong and steady for the whole race and I look forward to pushing it a bit harder next week in NOLA.

bermuda_finishline

After the race, we ate at Travis’ favorite restaurant, Bouchee, and rode the water ferry back to our hotel. A successful morning followed by a successful evening of celebrating with our friends and teammates! We even made it to the hotel pool and hot tub!

bermuda_beachlegs

Monday was our perfect, sunny beach day. We only had a few hours to enjoy it before heading to the airport, but we took full advantage. We headed to Horseshoe Bay, sunbathed, swam in the ocean, took lots of photos, and basically tried to soak up all of the Bermuda we could before heading home to Brooklyn. We couldn’t have asked for a better end to the trip.

bermuda_pinksand

Bermuda was such a quick, little trip, but it is so wonderful to get to spend time with Travis away from work and our normal, day-to-day life. We really love our life in the city, but taking breaks now and then for travel is really fun. And worth the expense, I think. We are currently saving up for our next big adventure… Stay tuned!

bermuda_travis

See all of my photos from Bermuda here.

No Comments » Categories: Friends, running, Team In Training, Travel, Travis

running the city

Aug 28th 2013 11:41:12 am

The only event I have on my upcoming race schedule is Reach the Beach in two weeks, so long run training isn’t a necessity, but Saturday I set out on a New York City running adventure anyway. I covered three boroughs (Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens), crossed five bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Queensboro, Pulaski), checked out 5Pointz (a graffiti art site in Queens), and covered 16 miles. I really enjoyed running solo all over the city and documenting it on Instagram (see all the photos here). And the donut ice cream sandwich at the end was more than sufficient motivation to keep me going. The weather was absolutely beautiful. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m back!” I felt strong, like I could run forever. I had fun.

But then I woke up on Sunday and felt icky. Sick and sore and sluggish. It is for more reasons than the long run, but it is still a bummer. I am nearly done with my daily summer run streak — almost 100 days straight!! — but discouragement is still my constant training companion. I’m not sure how to shake it…

In other running news, South Central Brooklyn Runners (our totally casual local running club) has finally placed an order for team singlets! I based the design on a Nike style, but tried to keep it simple so that it would appeal to as many people as possible. Of course, we had to include VOLT! (Volt = neon yellow.) More than 60 people ordered them — we are going to make a scene at our fall races!

And in even more running news… want to run a half marathon in Bermuda or New Orleans in January?? Come join Brooklyn Team in Training! I am the team social captain for our Winter (or Endless Summer if you want to feel fancy) season and I know we are going to have a lot of fun. Team in Training is a supportive way for anyone (beginners to marathoners) to prepare for an endurance event while fundraising for a very good cause. You already know that I highly recommend it. Join us!

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I’ll post more about the Summer Run Streak soon… but tell me, what has been your exercise plan or motivation this summer? I need more inspiration!

3 Comments » Categories: Brooklyn, Exercise, New York, running, Team In Training

hiking the berkshires

May 30th 2013 03:54:09 pm

As our final event for our Summer Team in Training season, Travis and I traveled with friends to the Berkshires to complete a two-day Trail/Road Challenge last weekend. The Challenge started with a 15k trail race on Saturday and a road race (of varying distances) on Sunday.

The Berkshires are a mountainous area stretching across some of upstate New York and western Massachusetts. It is a a beautiful, scenic place and very popular with artists and B&B enthusiasts. As our coach described it, we stayed “where your parents would go to enjoy the fall foliage.”

My training has not been going very well in 2013. I did too much high mileage in January and February and I have been struggling to regain my enthusiasm and return to high effort training. Most of this season has consisted of run/walking and I decided early on to take it easy in the Berkshires. I hiked the 15k on Saturday with my friend Karelle, and then strolled through the 5k on Sunday. (Travis ran the half marathon.) It was very relaxed, and I would say very fun, except for the relentless rain on both days.

The Berkshires are very hilly, so I was a little sore (mostly in my glutes) once the weekend was over. I also felt something I’ve been missing over the last few months: a desire to start training a little harder. I think the really relaxed event weekend cured me in a way. It made me realize that, “hey, I want to try racing an event again.”

Going forward, I want to try running a little faster. I don’t want to do high mileage, or even really do any long runs. Instead, I want to focus on daily fitness and try to increase my pace on shorter distances. I hope to get my pace back to where it was last Fall when I ran the Staten Island Half… but that is a lofty goal. I’ll keep you posted!

1 Comment » Categories: Friends, running, Team In Training

currently :: may 2013

May 22nd 2013 05:15:49 pm

eating… broiled grapefruit. A delicious, but very healthy breakfast or dessert. I followed this recipe, but you can easily modify it and use whatever fruit or nuts you have on hand.

playing with… the A Beautiful Mess photography app. If you like Instagram, but want to add a bit more to your photos, you will love this app. It allows you to add text and doodles and novel borders and then share your creations via Instagram or other social networks. It is a lot of fun and totally worth the .99 cents!

prepping for… the Trail/Road Challenge next weekend. I’ll be running a 15k trail run on Saturday and a 5k road race on Sunday. In between, I’ll be partying with my Brooklyn Team in Training in the Berkshires!

trying something new… swimming! I am taking a weekly lesson with my friend Suzy. It is a beginner lesson geared toward triathlons. I have always known how to swim, but swimming competitively or for long distances is totally new. I think I am making progress…

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What are you currently up to?

1 Comment » Categories: Currently, Exercise, Food, Friends, running, Team In Training

running, now & forever

May 16th 2013 12:00:51 pm

So. Running.

I am still at it, running races and training for my upcoming Trail/Road Challenge next weekend… but I have also been trying to take it easy.

So far in 2013, I’ve run three full marathons and five half marathons (if you count the Brooklyn Half I’m running on Saturday), plus assorted smaller races and trail miles. I am not bragging. When listed out, that race count looks obnoxious and dumb. I am still paying for over-doing it. I am sluggish and slow.

My favorite recent race was the Nike Women’s Half in DC on April 28th. I ran it with Chelsea and I felt good the entire race. Our time was not overly impressive, but it was much better than what I struggled to do at both the NYC Half the month before and the NJ Half the week after. Plus, the Tiffany necklace at the finish and lots of treats in Georgetown made it a fun weekend.

So, I’ve had a few fun races, a few terrible races, and some low key, relaxed training runs in between. Where do I go from here?

I still love Team in Training. My Brooklyn team is just a few weeks away from finishing up our summer season. I say it all the time, but it is the truth, TNT people are the best people. So fun! I mean, look at this gorgeous group! And these lovely ladies. We run for Boston. We run for equality. We train in storms and in the dark. Oh ya, and we all raise money for cancer research. It is a win, win, win. (hint: Join TNT!)

Some of my most fun and rewarding experiences ever have been with TNT… but I am tired. I need to pull back a bit and re-group. My running enthusiasm is injured and I’ve discovered something about myself: I’ll never be hard core about running. Sometimes I think I want to be, but the truth is, I don’t want to put in the work. I’ll never qualify for Boston or win my age group in anything. I’m into running for the fun, fitness, and friends… which are all great reasons, but they are difficult to shape into concrete goals and motivations. Do I want to run more fulls? Try a triathlon? Train for an ultra? I’m not sure.

My short term goal: focus on general fitness, listen to my body, and enjoy it! It might mean walking, hiking, doing more swimming, more cross training… or even running. I don’t have a plan… and that is the best part! I can do whatever I want!

1 Comment » Categories: Exercise, running, Team In Training

i want to send you a valentine!

Jan 31st 2013 12:01:19 pm

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday! I love making Valentines.

You know what else I love?? Helping to find a cure for cancer. Yes.

I have started my seventh season with Team in Training. This season I am mentoring and training for the New Jersey Long Branch Half Marathon and the Memorial Day Road Trail Challenge. I am also raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Want to help?? And, want to receive an awesome hand-crafted Valentine sent from me to you via Snail Mail??

Make a donation (of any size! big or small!) before my birthday on February 10th and I will mail you one of my Valentine matchboxes. The tiny box of fun will be a one-of-a-kind creation made just for YOU and it will contain some sweet Valentine goodies. (I once taught a craft night class at Etsy on how to make these little boxes… so I guess you could say I’m a pro!)

••• Donate Now! •••

More info: The LLS is an awesome organization that funds cancer research and supports patients both emotionally and financially. The research they have funded has led to medical advances and extreme increases in blood cancer survival rates. Your donation will go 100% to the LLS. I pay for all of my own race and travel expenses for every event I do with TNT so that all of the money donated via my campaign goes directly to the LLS mission.

4 Comments » Categories: Crafts, holidays, Team In Training

end of the season…

Dec 4th 2012 11:05:53 pm

Go team, indeed. The fall season of Brooklyn Team in Training has finally come to a close. This was a huge, long, complicated, wonderful marathon training season. I am both happy and sad that it has ended.

Some highlights from our 6+ months of training:

TNT Night at the Brooklyn Cyclones, a big fundraiser event planned by Lynn and me /// my fast showing at the Bronx 10k /// my huge PR at the Staten Island Half Marathon /// fun times at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Diego /// the cancellation of the NYC Marathon /// and our triumphant plan B race, The Philadelphia Marathon!

I was social captain this season, which turned out to be a very big job. I planned weekly socials and a few other events for the team, including our fun end of season party on Saturday. I REALLY enjoyed my role, but it was an intense time commitment. Plus, Superstorm Sandy and the cancellation of the NYC marathon put a bit of a damper on the final weeks of training. I think it is for the best that Travis and I are taking a short TNT break for the winter… of course, we will still be doing plenty of running!

Check out all the photos from fall season on my Flickr set.

I’ve said this 100 times before, but if you want to complete an endurance event, do it with TNT. You won’t regret it. (I can’t ever stay away for long. Travis and I plan to be back with our fabulous TNT peeps for Summer season.)

2 Comments » Categories: Brooklyn, Friends, running, Team In Training

The Philadelphia Marathon

Nov 19th 2012 03:24:30 pm

Philly was my fifth and fastest – yay – but most painful – boo – marathon yet.

I was in a daze leading up to this race. Between the terrible hurricane, the NYC marathon cancellation, and catching a cold/flu, my head just wasn’t focused on running my best marathon yesterday. But I did it. Thanks mostly to my wonderful friend Sarah Yuen who ran with me the whole way and made sure I got my PR (4:48) at the end when I was majorly struggling.

In June, I ran the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. That was MY race! I made a detailed pace and fueling plan, stuck to it, pushed it at the end, and finished with my sub-5 hour goal time. That felt like a triumph. Despite my excitingly fast time in Philadelphia, the race overall felt more like my painful 2010 NYC Marathon than triumphant San Diego.

I trained hard this season. Really hard. I ran almost 50% more miles than last fall season. I achieved a crazy fast time at the SI Half. I had high hopes for my full marathon… even if it couldn’t be NYC.

I started maybe a bit too fast. We were running 10:30-10:45 minute miles for the whole first 20 miles and I really thought it was an ok pace. I was probably being too ambitious. Especially since I was sick. I thought I was going to be able to pick it up for the last 10k and get my super goal time. I was wrong.

Somehow I lost my mind and gave in to my flu/cold-induced lack of appetite and decided that I didn’t need to eat any more fuel after mile 16. So dumb. I ate about half of the calories I should have during the race. And so, unsurprisingly, I totally hit the wall at about mile 21. Coach Syed tried to keep us moving. I struggled. I was in pain. I stopped to walk. I wanted to quit. I’ve never wanted to quit a marathon as much as I did at mile 23 yesterday. Sarah kept me going. Then, Coach Kara jumped in and gave me Swedish Fish which basically saved my life. I was able to run. My friend Matt ran with us at mile 25 and lifted my spirits. Coach Amy jumped in near the end and got the crowd cheering. That was fun. I did my best to sprint to the finish line. I was just so relieved to be done. Whew.

Sarah and I got our medals. Took some photos. Drank chicken broth and ate pretzels. Then we found Travis near the bag pick up. He was sitting on the curb looking exhausted. He PR’d with a time of 4:15, but hadn’t quite reached his original goal. We saw a few friends, but then hobbled the mile back to our hotel. I wasn’t up for getting back out on the course to cheer. I just got in bed and napped. (Not a smart recovery plan, btw.) We missed our team victory party, but managed to go out for some dinner later in the evening. I wanted ice cream, but settled for froyo.

Travis and I feel very lucky. Lucky that we got into this fun, organized, giant Philadelphia road race at the last minute. Lucky that we are able to afford such fun trips and such a wild marathon running hobby — both financially and health-wise. Lucky that we get to enjoy it together. And VERY lucky to be part of our amazing Brooklyn Team in Training.

I say this every time I run a race, but I am serious: the only way to marathon is to do it with TNT. Philly was a mostly impromptu race for most of our team. Still, our coaches and team mates were there to support us. This training season didn’t end up exactly as we had all planned, but the team pulled together, reorganized, and made it fun. I am impressed.

I am in pain as I recover today. So sore, chaffed, sick. I’ll survive, but I wouldn’t mind taking a marathon break… that won’t happen, of course. We have the Goofy Challenge coming up in about 7 weeks! Gah!

UPDATE: I almost forgot!! Travis and I were on tv! We were interviewed about signing up for Philly after NYC was cancelled.

10 Comments » Categories: Friends, running, Team In Training, Travel, Travis

the only NYC Marathon to ever be cancelled

Nov 6th 2012 02:13:13 pm

This was the top I was going to wear while running the NYC Marathon on Sunday. The race was cancelled due to controversy after Hurricane Sandy.

I have a lot of conflicting and sad feelings about the entire situation. I wanted to run the NYC marathon for the second time because I love this city. I am ok with the cancellation, but there were a lot of hurtful things said about runners in the past week that really discouraged me.

Of course, my running team has been helping out after the storm. We are a charity organization, after all. We’ve given money, food, gear, and more than 100 Team in Training runners (who had raised 2.2 MILLION dollars for cancer research while training for the NYC marathon) went to Staten Island on Sunday to help the recovery and clean up process. We will continue to help.

A few related links: Some thoughts on why the NYC Marathon could have been good for the city. | My friend Carmen sums up the roller coaster week. | If you want to volunteer to help Hurricane Sandy recovery in NYC, check out NYCservice.org. | I’m hosting a “Swap-bot for Sandy” hurricane relief donation drive. Our site members have already donated more than $700 for the Red Cross. Join us!

7 Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, New York, running, Team In Training

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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