Archive | Life in Louisiana RSS feed for this section

katieRIDESthis? Yeah, sometimes!

26 Apr

When I am not running, I like doing lots of other physical activities…like, say, cycling. I really do love cycling. Granted, I do not love it *quite* as much as I love running, but I do enjoy the speed and the different range of motion that cycling offers.

When I lived in South Carolina, my husband and I went cycling ALL THE TIME. There is a huge cycling community there thanks to George Hincapie and the City of Greenville has been very progressive about passing laws and ordinances that protect and support cyclists in the community. While it is a massive project that is still in the works, one of my favorite places to run/ride is on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. If you are ever in Upstate South Carolina, check it out. It’s beautiful! And if you are a lady cyclist, be sure and check out Pedal Chic! It is my favorite bike shop and its for ladies only! I love their motto…”roadways are the new runways”! YES!

So, why do I get off on this cycling tangent?

Because…I have registered for a bike race! I am not sure whether I should be excited or nervous…probably a combination of the two…but The Red Stick Crit is going down tomorrow night whether I like it or not. The Red Stick Crit will be my first bike race since moving to Louisiana and will be my first bike race based on time. I have done a couple of charity bike rides in South Carolina, but that was many moons ago.

I should probably mention that I don’t have a road bike. Yeeeeeah…

BUT, they DO have a fat tire division! WIN! I will be riding this beauty tomorrow night…

A crit (short for criterium) is “a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 1km), often run on closed-off city center streets.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Tomorrow night’s race course will held on a 0.91mi loop. The race length will be based on time. In this case, the goal for each division is to complete as many laps as possible in 10:00 minutes. Basically, I just have to pedal as hard and as fast as I can for ten minutes. I can do that, right? Yeah, probably. I am hoping that by registering for the fat tire division that I will not end up making too much of a fool of myself…then again, if I do, it will just be par for the course. But, hey, at least I will have tried!

My goal last year was to upgrade to a “real” road bike, spend more time in the saddle, and take my cycling more seriously. Then I got pregnant…and the “road bike fund” became the “baby stuff fund.” It is not looking like I will be able to upgrade this year either, so I am just going to continue enjoying my Trek hybrid until I am able to get a better bike. I am certainly NOT complaining about my Trek hybrid. She has been so good to me and, overall, I think this is an excellent bike for the money spent on it.

When I am not cruising around my ‘hood on my Trek, I can also be spotted on my Electra Navy Cruiser. I love her. Her name is Blue Betty. She is what I call my “3-speed Cadillac of bikes”…obviously built for comfort and not for speed. She gets a lot of attention when we are out in public together. Basically, Electra took a little girl’s bike (leather handlebar streamers, ching-ching bell, and all!) and super-sized it for women. Blue Betty was my first bike and I will never get rid of her. And, yes, I often talk about her as if she is a person.

All in all, I am looking forward to tomorrow night. If nothing else, it will be a new experience and I am always down for that! Plus, a bike race breaks the monotony of road races!

Are you into cycling too? Have you ever ridden in a bike race (of any size) or participated in a charity bike ride?

Lagniappe

5 Apr

In Louisiana, we use the word “lagniappe” (pronounced LAN-YAP) a lot. It means “a little something extra.” Today’s post is just that…here are bits and pieces of what has been going on this week…

I am working the expo for the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans today, but I wanted to leave you with a few blog goodies…

FAST FACTS
The Crescent City Classic is the 6th largest 10k in the United States. This year, they are expecting over 18,000 runners! Wow! This year is the 34th running of the Crescent City Classic. For runners in Louisiana, this is a “must-do” race!

BLOGS I’M LOVING THIS DAYS
I’ve been house-bound since Baby Key has been sick this week, so I have been catching up on the following blogs…
The Wannabe Athlete
Running With Sass
Black Girls RUN!
Garden Variety TRI
Pavement Runner
No Meat Athlete
Stories of a Slow Triathlete
Twelve in Twelve
Vanessa Runs

In light of all the news of pink slime (GROOOOOOOOOODIE!), I am really considering becoming a vegetarian/vegan. I know this will be a drastic lifestyle change and will be difficult for me, but I am so tired of being continuously grossed out by what is going on with the meat packing industry.

I have to get back to work, but here is a little motivation to boost your running mojo…

And lastly, don’t forget that it is not too late to get in on the sweet Couch to 10k running plan! We are only in Week 2! Come run with me!

What has been keeping YOU busy this week?

Baby Key’s First Race!

12 Mar

I had absolutely no intention of racing this weekend. I really didn’t, but…I did. And it was fun…really, REALLY fun.

Friday night I went out to dinner with my family (and some new friends!) and since I had no plans of racing, I enjoyed some empanadas and a margarita. It had been a tremendously long week and I was looking forward to sleeping in a little bit on Saturday morning. But then, the Race Monster bit me.

Ole!


After dinner, I got a text from a friend reminding me that the Ozone Run 10k was happening the next morning in Covington, LA. The Ozone Run 10k happens to be the Louisiana State 10k Championship race, so knowing that there would be some good runners to watch, I started considering it. All of a sudden, I was trying to figure out how I could get over there the next morning to run as well. I knew my BabyJogger running stroller was out of commission, as it is in desperate need of a tune-up and a new front tire, so if I was able to make it out to the race, I would have to push Baby Key in the monstrous (read = HEAVY) Chicco stroller.

I knew there was no way the “touring stroller” would make it the full 10k, but my friend, who was the race director, texted me and told me that there was a 2-mile option for the race. I had not run “just a 2-miler” in ages and it seemed like the perfect distance for me and Baby Key. I asked my husband sweetly if he minded us going (under the guise that this would give him the chance to sleep in and have some time to himself, of course), he agreed, and we were set! Little Nugget must have known we had a big Saturday morning, because for the first time since he was born, he slept. My child actually slept…for 8 hours straight!

I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a champ! I quickly got kiddo dressed and we headed over to the Northshore. We got to the race early and had the chance to visit with lots of my friends. This was their first chance meeting Baby Key, so he was definitely Mr. Popularity.

At 8:00AM, I headed over to the start of the race to line up. You should have SEEN the looks I got lining up with that big freaking stroller. The glances said, “Ooooh no! She must not run much. Anyone who really runs would know you can’t run with a stroller like that!”

Yes, people, I know I looked like a moron lining up to race with the same stroller that I would take if we were going for a day-long excursion to the zoo, but I did not have a choice. It was the only stroller I had, so it would have to do.

The race started at 8:15AM and 2 miles and 22 minutes and 58 seconds later, Baby Key and I were crossing the finish line! The last quarter mile of the race was on a track, which was GREAT for us! I pushed it a little bit harder and we ended up being able to pass three people right at the end! 22:58 for 2 miles is by no means “speedy” but for pushing what felt like a load of bricks, I was pretty pleased with it!

So here it is…Me and Baby Key’s first race together….

Our first race together!


Even better? We placed 1st in my age group. Granted, it was not a huge race, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I will take it!

[SIDE NOTE: I do not, under any circumstances, recommend running with a big, fat comfy stroller. It was so hard and so heavy and SO hard to steer. Lesson learned...need to get my BabyJogger fixed STAT!]

After the race, we hung around to visit it with more friends that I do not get to see often enough. I did spend a long time chatting with my friends, Jodi and Betsy (who happens to be the Louisiana State RRCA Representative) and we made plans for a way to redeem ourselves for all having pulled a DNS at the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon. I will tell you about that later, but it is going to be fun!

Right before I left, I went over to introduce myself to Rachel Booth. If you do not know who Rachel is, just take a second to Google her. Her running resume is impressive, to say the least, and she was the first female finisher at the Ozone Run 10k. Her finish time qualified her for an elite corral at the Crescent City Classic 10k in a few weeks! She is such a joy to watch. She is such a strong runner and she makes it look completely effortless. I am really impressed with the way she balances having an outstanding running career, being a wife, and being a mom to two little ones. On top of all of that, she’s just nice…like sincerely sweet. It is always fun to meet someone who you look up to and find out that they are as genuine as you hoped they would be.

After the race, we headed home and spent the afternoon playing around the house and watching Dinosaur Train. Yes, folks, it is an exciting life I lead!

Did YOU race this weekend? How did you do? Did you run solo or with your kiddo(s)?

Running Your First RnRNOLA (Half) Marathon

1 Mar

I am so excited that the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon is almost here! I have run this race as a half and full before and it is one of my favorite races! I am really looking forward to seeing all of my friends who will be going for their first half or full marathon on Sunday. As their friend, it thrills me to see them training hard and achieving their goals.

However, with so many of my friends attempting this race as their first “big” race, my e-mail inbox has been on overload with questions, comments, and general chatter from all of the excitement!

What will the weather REALLY be like?
Let’s face it, “winter” weather in Louisiana is just tricky. At the start of last year’s race I was FREEZING but I ended up being comfortable in capri pants, a tank top, and a pair of arm warmers. Sunday’s weather is looking pretty good and should make for some ideal race conditions. If you are traveling to the Big Easy, plan on packing option of layers. You will most likely end up in short sleeves and shorts though. And pack some rain gear. When traveling to Louisiana, ALWAYS pack rain gear. It is a necessary evil here.

Photo courtesy of weather.com


What is some advice you have regarding the route?
My biggest advice here is…mind your footing! The race course takes you down some streets that are in desperate need of repair. They are potholed, cracked, and terribly uneven. If you are not careful, you can easily land your foot wrong on a slant and get an injury. Obviously, you want to run your fastest race, but you don’t want to be looking so far ahead that you accidentally step into a crater-sized pothole.

Please don't step in this!


When I feel like stopping, what will keep me going?
This one is EASY…the music and spectators. There will be a local band/aid station positioned at a little over each mile. All you have to do is this…run one mile, as you are approaching the band/aid station, pull out the head phones, grab a quick sip to hydrate, toss the cup, and GO! Run another mile and repeat the process. Just keep doing that over and over again until you are done. Whatever you do, don’t become a slave to your Garmin or RunKeeper. That will only make the race seem unbearably long. And if you need a mental/physical break, take a second to high five a spectator! They are all along the route and they are there to cheer you on!

I have never done a race this big. I am nervous.
There is nothing to be nervous about. It is time to get ready for the party. You have put in the time training and now it is time to pass the test! On race day, let yourself get caught up in the excitement…let the music and energy from the other runners suck you in! Whatever you do, remember that you are running YOUR race. Run for yourself and no one else. And if this is your first half or full marathon, you are guaranteed to PR…how about that!

And if you get really nervous or feel like you just can’t go on, just picture the sweet race bling waiting for you at the end…

Hardware!

If you will be at the Rock and Roll New Orleans Expo tomorrow or Saturday, be sure to come and find me! I will be working the booth for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series all day, both days…except for the #RnRNOLA Social Media Mash-Up on Saturday from 1PM – 2PM! Can’t wait to see you there!

Inaugural 2012 Louisiana Marathon

20 Jan

*WHEW*

The inaugural Louisiana Marathon was last weekend and everything seemed to go off without a hitch. Race directors, committee members, and volunteers worked tirelessly for over a year to help bring this first-class event to Louisiana. I could not be prouder to have served on the committee for this race and I am super, crazy excited about next year! I will be posting a video soon about what the Louisiana Marathon meant to me on a personal level soon, but if you are wondering how it all went, check out this recap I wrote for nola.com/running!

If you are seeking a destination race or if you are a Marathon Maniac or Half Fanatic, I seriously urge you to consider adding this race to your bucket list. I am not just saying that because of my involvement with this race. I am suggesting it as a fellow runner. In fact, I ran it too.  Do it…you will not regret it!

2012 Louisiana Marathon

History was made in Baton Rouge last weekend with the running of the inaugural Louisiana Marathon. Drawing over 2,800 runners from 46 states and 12 countries, the Louisiana Marathon presented runners with Louisiana’s first multi-format race.

In creating the event, Race Director Craig Sweeney made sure to present a race that runners of all levels could participate in. The Louisiana Marathon featured a 5k, Half Marathon, Marathon, and Marathon Relay, allowing it to seem approachable for runners of every ability, from seasoned runners to newbies.

Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series

Everything about the Louisiana Marathon dripped with our rich culture and history. The scenic route of the course took runners through downtown, around the LSU lakes and LSU campus, and through Mid-City with the start and finish line near the State Capital. For 26.2 miles, runners were greeted with warms smiles and signs of encouragement from volunteers at water stations and supporters who camped out along the route. At the finish line, runners were awarded with a beautiful medal (which happens to double as a bottle opener!), delicious food, and incredible music from New Orleans locals, the Bucktown All-Stars!

Runners could not have asked for more perfect weather on race day. Cloudless skies and temperatures in the mid-40s made for an ideal start at 7:00AM. The mild elevation of the course allowed runners to race hard and fast around the Capital City. For the runner looking to set a PR, this seemed to be the perfect event.

Photo courtesy of The Lousiana Marathon Company

Top finishers in the race posted some incredible times. For the marathon, Baton Rouge native, Matt Manning, was the first-place finisher with an impressive time of 02:33:42. Karen Meraw, hailing from Detriot, MI was the first female finisher at 2:58:54, pulling in 7th place overall. For the half marathon, the top male award went to Jonathan Granger of New Iberia with a powerful time of 01:17:45 and the top female award went to Kelly Nicholas of New Orleans with a time of 01:29:52.

For an inaugural race, the Louisiana Marathon was extremely well executed and clearly surpassed everyone’s expectations. Don’t believe me? Just check out the comments left on the Louisiana Marathon facebook page. Compliments abound and many out-of-towners and Marathon Maniacs have said they eagerly anticipate returning next year! But don’t think for one second that all of this great response means that race directors plan to sit back and relax.

“Based on the feedback, we plan to fine tune what worked and overhaul things that we need to in order to make adjustments regarding the course. The goal is to make everything tighter, more defined, and even better for next year,” says Sweeney. The 2013 Louisiana Marathon is already in the works and over 330 runners have already registered for next year’s race! There is no doubt that an event of this caliber will grow and continue to attract runners from all over the world. The Louisiana Marathon has put our state on the map for the running community and for making strides to promote healthier lifestyles!

For more information on the race and to register for next year, be sure and check out www.thelouisianamarathon.com.

Complete race results can be found at www.thelouisianamarathon.com/race-results/.

To see photos from the Louisiana Marathon, check out www.sportphoto.com.

I #RunLA. Who Runs Your State?

14 Sep

In response to a recent klout article, I have been getting a flood of e-mails, Twitter DMs, and messages asking more specific questions about how I personally use social media to connect with other runners and triathletes. There really is no magic formula for it, but it really all began with #RunLA.

When I first moved back to Louisiana, I knew I needed to find my niche again. There was such an awesome running community in Upstate South Carolina (where we lived for many years) and I knew I needed to find that here. Always curious about trying new things, I decided to give Twitter a try. I added my bio and put up a photo…hard work done! I figured if I chatted up enough runners that I would eventually find someone in my town…or at least in my state (after all, its not like Baton Rouge is so no-name Podunk town) and we could go from there.

Through an odd twist of fate, I found a couple of other Baton Rouge runners, Brandon and Theresa. They were using the #RunLA hashtag to tag their run stats, discuss running groups, and talk about upcoming races. Woot woot! I had found just what I was looking for! The downside…there were only about 5 of us using the hashtag at first. Not being one who is easily discouraged, we kept on using it…religiously. Eventually, the word started spreading and as we found more road runners, trail runners, wannabe runners, triathletes, jogger moms, etc. we let them all know that the #RunLA hashtag was where the party was at! Before we knew it, dozens (I am pretty sure we are now in the hundreds) of people all over the state were on board and the #RunLA fam was born! Have I mentioned that we even made shirts so that we can find each other at events? Awesome, yes?

To see the kind of atmosphere we created (and are creating everyday), just search the hashtag. We exchange opinions on local races, share tips on local running stores, and get together for group runs or races. Most of the bigger cities in South Louisiana are all within one or two hours of each other, so traveling to races is not too big of a deal for us. To find a running buddy the next city over, all one of us has to do is search the hashtag, see who else is running that event and send a little Tweet. It is really that simple! Traveling for business or vacationing in a different city? No problem, find a local runner for tips on the best spots to run. Heck! You might even find a new training partner!

Over the last several months, I have gotten lots of messages from runners outside of Louisiana saying how they wish they had the supportive kind of network we have here in their area. My answer? You can!

STEP 1
YOU just have to start it! All it takes is one person to get it going!

You can #RunAL…
You can #RunAK
You can #RunAZ
You can #RunAR
You can #RunCA

Or, if you live in a bigger city, you could #RunDFW and #RunTX…or maybe you #RunATL and #RunGA! You see where I am going with this…

STEP 2
Pump your hashtag shamelessly! Well, okay, not totally shamelessly. Do not completely annoy your followers by tossing the hashtag on the end of every Tweet you send out. (Please don’t be THAT person.) But, if it is relevant, put it in there! As you find other runners in your area, or if some of your followers are runners you already know, direct message (DM) them to start using it too! Does your favorite local running store Tweet? Does your favorite local race Tweet? Do you have a weekly running group with a Twitter account? Get them all using your state’s running hashtag!

STEP 3
Help others. Some people who are new to Twitter or new to running might be hesitant or shy about just jumping into the conversation. If you are comfortable with the hashtag and know several people using it, politely introduce a newbie. For example, I will occasionally get a message from a runner in my area saying they just moved here or are new to the sport. If I ask them if they are familiar with the #RunLA hashtag and they say no, then I ask if they mind being introduced. If they are interested, I will send out a Tweet like…

“Hey #RunLA fam! Let’s welcome @_______. He/she is new to the area and is interested in training for a ________!”

Social media is about being supportive and building a community. Be nice to others and help them out when you can.

STEP 4
Give it time and do not be impatient. These things do not take off overnight. But, depending on your state, it might. You just never know! The internet is a funny thing and sometimes it can be hard to predict. So, if you start using your state’s running hashtag, and it does not seem to spread like wildfire, do not get discouraged. Keep trying. I promise you, eventually it WILL catch on. There are thousands of runners out there, and, obviously, they are looking to connect with others, or else they would not be on social media in the first place.

What state do YOU run? How do YOU connect with runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other fitness-minded people in your city or state?

Groups Doing Good: LA 49>1 and Claim Your Journey

3 Aug

Today, I’m going to keep it close to home and talk about what is going on in my own community. I am inspired daily by all of the positive energy in my city and I wanted to highlight a couple of the groups that are creating it and keeping it going.

There is certainly a “fitness revolution” of sorts happening in Louisiana and I could not be more thrilled! We need this revolution…desperately.

Did you know that Louisiana ranks 49th in health and fitness? This is embarrassing and we need to do something about it NOW. Thankfully, there are several groups stepping up to help combat these issues.

The first is the LA 49>1 Pledge. This pledge encourages people to stay on the “Highway to Healthy.” The program outlines the risks associated with continuing on our same path: obesity, increased health risks, inactive communities, increased childhood obesity, etc. It reminds us that, as a community, if we are strong enough to overcome and survive hurricanes, floods, and oil spills, we can also make paving the way to healthier families a priority. We just have to make the commitment and do it.

Today, I’m taking the pledge…

I also pledge that I will apply absurd amounts of peer pressure to my family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. to get them to jump on the bandwagon with me. :)

Another major force driving Louisianans to get moving is Claim Your Journey.

Claim Your Journey is a digital hub for runners all over our state to connect, find out about races, share stories, talk about gear, etc. Founder Brandon Williams says his passion for running and encouraging other in our state to do so is because he knows we need to make a change and “running is one of the easiest way to go about doing so.” He’s right, you know. All it takes to get on the road to making drastic changes in your life is to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. Claim Your Journey has been instrumental in uniting runners and helping us keep each other motivated to achieve our goals (whether that’s mileage, pounds lost, races competed in, etc.). Last night, there was a wonderful segment on the local news about Claim Your Journey. Check it out here! (I would have embedded the video but I couldn’t find a link that would allow me to do so. If I can find it later, I will actually post the video!)

These two groups are just helping Louisiana get out of the 49th place funk and I am extremely grateful. As someone who values fitness and health, knowing that I live in the 49th unhealthiest state saddens…and embarrasses me.

But things are changing…and I am hopeful! Let’s keep it going, Louisiana!

If you are a fellow Louisianan, how do you feel about our 49th place status? What are you doing to help us move up in the rankings?

If you are not a fellow Louisianan, what is being done in your community/city/state to encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,576 other followers