Tomorrow is the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans. I’ve been wanting to run this 10K race in New Orleans for several years, and now that I’m back living in the area, it’s do-able. The race course starts in the French Quarter and ends at City Park, two of my favorite locations in New Orleans. The year I graduated from high school was the inaugaural year for this race, and the website says it was the original “party” race in the country. Tomorrow’s race has 20,000 runners registered. I registered for it last October, and I was really sweating my ability to run it when my injuries started cropping up and continued to hang around from November to early March. But, I’m healthy, and I’m ready to run it tomorrow. I ran the 6.2 mile distance last weekend, so I know I can do it. It probably won’t be my fastest 10K ever, but I plan to enjoy it and post photos to Instagram the whole way. It should be fun.
My friend Jo Ann and I have both been so busy that we haven’t been able to hang out much since our Mardi Gras plans got frozen out. So, I asked if her if she wanted to drive over for the Expo. She offered to drive her convertible when I got to her place this morning, and I said of course! It was too chilly to go topless this morning, but we certainly could do it on the way home. We arrived 5 minutes before the Expo opened, and, within 5 minutes of walking in the door, we made our first purchase. We tasted a vitamin drink that tasted just like a Dreamsicle, and they had a hell of a deal for the Expo. Little packets that you pour into bottles of water contain a multi-vitamin, caffeine and electrolytes. The company called 4D Supplements is out of Harahan. In fact, most of the vendors there today were local companies. That was a nice surprise. We shopped running stores, local jewelry-makers, the New Orleans Advocate, local race planners and everybody’s favorite Louisiana coffee, Community. Since I’ve given up coffee, I had decaf – I’m so good – and it was really, really good. I even signed up for the Louisiana Marathon in January – the half marathon, actually. I said I wouldn’t do another this year, but they offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse, and I really liked the people that were running the race. So, why not? 13.1 miles… here I come, again…. gotta stay healthy.
We picked up my race bib and shirt, and, on the way out, I made an impulse purchase and bought a tank from the CCC official merchandise table. We headed out of the hotel… getting lost and adding another 20 minutes to our exit … and turned toward the French Quarter. We ran into Carl and Jennifer, tourists from Chicago. Jennifer was stoked about the race tomorrow and said she’d probably sign up and run it since she has to run anyway. They were friendly folks, and we walked with them all the way to the French Quarter, swapping stories about visiting New Orleans, Chicago and riding the City of New Orleans between the two cities. We parted ways on Bourbon Street, and we set out to find muffaletta sandwiches, pralines, flip flops and a summer purse for me.
It was cool most of the morning. About 12:30, we both immediately got too hot and started whining about needing to find cooler shoes and cooler clothes. That always happens to me in New Orleans. I’ll feel cool in the morning, and in one sharp second, I feel like someone lit a fire under me. Finding something cooler to wear becomes an emergency. Or, it can be vice versa. The last time I was down, it was hot all day, and then it turned sharply cold, and I had to buy a sweatshirt. But, I digress … I was starting to get really hungry, so we went to Central Grocery to get a muffaletta. There was a very short line which was a treat since I was starving. I got a half for us to eat at lunch and a half packed for home. The meat and cheeses on a muffaletta are really good, but the bread is to die for. It is just the right crustiness with sesame seeds that push it right over the edge from good to delicious. I laughed and said that it was probably good because it soaks up the olive oil from the olive salad like a sponge. I not only ate my quarter, but I ate the top bun from Jo Ann’s quarter, too. I don’t know which was better – the sandwich or just the bread. On the way out, I asked one of the counter folks how many of those sandwiches they serve a day as the line was now spilling outside, and every person in the store had a muffaletta. It’s as if there is nothing else on the menu. “Hundreds,” he said, “hundreds…” and he turned around to take the next order.
The Coffee Oasis
We shopped in the French Market and found some bargains on my flip flops, a little dress and a summer purse. Jo Ann indulged on flip flops and a red summer dress. We both went into the ladies’ room and stripped out of our warmer clothes and put on our pretty dresses and sandals. We decided to ditch the long walk back and ride the trolley to the hotel parking lot. Oh, yeah… we had to have our praline fix, and we got some original pralines from Sally’s. It was the perfect end to a French Quarter indulgence. We visited on the trolley with a couple of ladies from Killeen TX who were heading out on a cruise tomorrow. Jo Ann and I had discussed going on a cruise later this year, so I thought we’d probably look like them except about 20 years younger. We joked earlier in the day about being Thelma and Louise, but, honestly, I think those two crazy gals were a little younger than us, and I don’t think that trip ended so well anyway.
We went topless all the way home. We hit traffic on the way out of New Orleans, but after we got some open highway in front of us, we both got really quiet. The wind was blowing through my thick, curly hair like the wind on a desert tumbleweed, and the sun was warm on my skin. The breeze made things chilly, and, at one point, Jo Ann reached over and turned on the heat so that my toes and legs started to get toasty warm. I was lost in a kaleidoscope of thought as we crossed the Bonne Carre Spillway. What should I wear to a race that will be in the 50s early but we’ll be hanging out into the afternoon with temps in the upper 70s? Should I pack long pants for after the race or shorts? Or both? ….. I hope I’m not uncomfortable traveling with a group of people that I don’t know….. I thought back on the walk through the French Market and my purchase of sandals from the Jamaican man who said his brother made them… I wondered how much water Middendorf’s got when Katrina hit and how long it had been closed for repairs … intimate scenes from an afternoon with an old flame danced through my mind’s eye… memories of sitting in the sun at Southeastern’s Spring Game last weekend flitted past in a slideshow … oh, yeah … I got sunburned…. I hoped that wouldn’t happen again, and I checked my arms to make sure… I wonder if my iPhone will stay charged all day tomorrow …
After being lulled into a trance of thought for about half an hour, Jo Ann and I talked about our day and some other personal things. It had been a great day. The weather was perfect. We had no plan when we left, and it all worked out just right. We indulged enough …. but not too much. We met some cool people, and we enjoyed the outdoors. I picked up my dog and headed home, needing to eat a healthy meal before my run. On the way home, I had to hide my half muffaletta from Ashok lest she take advantage of my focus on the road. I think my favorite part of the day was riding home in the car. It felt so good to just sit in silence and let my mind wander wherever it wanted to go. It’s fun to have friends that will just hang out and go with the flow even if that means being quiet and listening to the wind. I feel connected this evening … grateful to live across the swamp from the great City of New Orleans …. filled up with happiness from a fun day … and ready for a great, fun run tomorrow. And, I’d better be. I have to rise at 4 AM to catch that bus that will drive me back to the Quarter. I can’t wait to share it with you. Night, y’all!