Shrimp Acadienne, Rain and Running: Shamrock 10K in Hammond

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Me with my age group medal and my friend Gretchen!

My friend Gretchen called me a few weeks ago and offered me a race bib for the Rotary Shamrock 10K in Hammond. I’m just starting to run again, so I didn’t think pushing my mileage up that fast would be prudent. But they also had a 5K, so I said that would be perfect.  Hammond is about an hour away, so I got up this morning at my usual 5 AM and drove over to be on time. Gretchen made us some race t-shirts since this free bib was a gift for her Holiday Inn Northshore’s sponsorship of the race. I would be advertising Holiday Inn. I got there early and stopped at the PJ’s Coffee House downtown for a hot chai. While I was there, one of the Rotarians stopped in to pick up some coffee for the post-race party. He said there were over 400 people signed up. “It’s huge,” he said. I kind of giggled to myself because I’ve run races with 47,000 people in them. 400 doesn’t seem that huge to me at all. But, nonetheless, he was very excited, and I didn’t want to damper his enthusiasm.

When I woke up this morning, it was pouring down rain. I checked the weather, and it said “cloudy.” Well, that’s stupid, I thought. It also said it would clear up shortly and the sun would shine. It rained on and off all the way over but had stopped raining when I arrived at Friendship Circle on Southeastern’s Campus. The last time I’d run in Hammond was the final run where my injury got too severe, and I decided to give up on running for awhile. I was sidelined from November until about a month ago with a piriformis-glute issue and then hip bursitis.

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My trainer and I struggled with it attempting to use strength-training and stretching to alleviate the pain to no avail. The breakthrough finally came after my friend Lisa advised me to take ibuprofen for the inflammation and ice it. I didn’t want to ice it because I hate the whole icing process, but I’m fine with Biofreeze. That does virtually the same thing without the mess. The other key was the continued strength training and a workout called MYRTL that Jessica recommended. We have determined that the real issue was the sitting I do everyday at work. To make a long story short, they are discovering that when we sit all day, our glutes actually go to sleep. And, they don’t just sleep while we are sitting. It’s difficult to get them re-activated again. So, when I try to run without my glutes – they are napping – I compensate in other places. Thus, I get strains and inflammation. Jessica said she’s starting to think that most of the very common running injuries are caused by this. For more on the sleeping glutes, read this excellent article from Runner’s World.

So, needless to say, I was very excited about running this morning. I decided to run negative splits as this seems to work well for me. While I was lined up at the start, I met a woman named Debi who is going to train for her first half marathon this year. We talked a bit about her running, my injury and the race. We kind of hit it off, and we exchanged phone numbers after the race was over. I’d love to do some weekend long runs with her at some point. The race itself was pretty uneventful. I did my negative splits with ease, and my final mile was 9:46. That’s really fast for me. I felt great. It started raining during the last half mile, and I was disappointed because I figured the post-race party would be a bust with the rainy weather. I crossed the finish line first in my age group at 32:04:5. I was thrilled!

The Holiday Inn had a tent and was serving food, so I wandered over. I’ve enjoyed Chef Rich Poupart’s food at the tailgate parties at the football games, so I wanted to see what he was serving. He had Shrimp Acadienne which was blackened shrimp served over mashed sweet potatoes with an andoille cream sauce. OMG … this stuff was awesome. I spent most of the post-race party standing at their booth saying, “give me some more.” It was delicious. It was fun to watch the racers come up and ask what they were serving. When they described it to them, their eyes would light up. It was such a great post-race food and so yummy. Other sponsors brought pasta, hamburgers, jambalaya, donuts, coffee, sweet tea, fruit and little ham pinwheels. One runner joked that he’d never gone to a race where he’d gained weight. I was thinking the same thing. The food was outstanding.

I was dead wrong about the post-race party. I think everybody hung around after the race. I stayed two hours after the race, and it rained the whole time. I didn’t care. It was a blast. Everybody was friendly. They had a great band playing popular music. The Marines were there with a chin-up challenge. It was fun to watch all of those men – and women – flexing to win the prize. Apparently the Rotary Club donates the money raised to several local causes, so several of them were there. I talked with a woman at length who was with an organization that helps people quit smoking. We were all soaking wet, but it was a ball. It is definitely going to be an annual race for me. I loved it! Hopefully next year I can do the 10K.

I talked with Chef Poupart and asked him if he serves this kind of fare regularly at the Holiday Inn, and he said he does. I told Gretchen to let me know the specials. It would definitely be worth the drive over to get some more of his creative dishes. Nobody could quit talking about it. Oh, yeah, and there was so much shrimp left that I got to take a care package home and have more of it for dinner. It wasn’t quite the same without that andouille cream sauce, but they were delicious. Before I left, I brought some of that Shrimp Acadienne to a cute police officer who had chatted me up when I kept walking back and forth to my car changing clothes before and after the race. I can’t wait until next year! I had a blast.

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