Monday, February 17, 2020

2020 Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon

New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities to run through. The sights and sounds of the city combined with the beautiful architecture and gorgeous homes all make for an amazing race experience. 

This year, my friend Melissa and I wanted to bring a little Disney flare to New Orleans and that's where our outfits were born!

I searched high and low for shirts I liked and couldn't find any available in our sizes. Instead, I decided to make them. Another fun Disney touch? The font I used for the shirt's slogan is also a Disney one! 

Another thing I love about Rock n Roll races is the start time. I actually feel like I get to sleep in when compared to runDisney events!

Thankfully, we were only a short walk to the start line from our hotel (Hilton Riverside).

The race start was delayed by 20 minutes and we were seriously freezing. I was so glad I remembered to snag a few packs of hot hands before the race!

The crowd behind us seemed endless!

Before long, it was time to run!!

Something I love about Rock n Roll races is they truly attempt to bring out the culture of the area to their events. From Mardi Gras floats to Second Line Bands and great courses, they really are a great way to "see" New Orleans city by foot!

There were so many inspirational runners on the course, too. Take this guy for example...

The weather was perfect for this race and as we gained mileage, I was so happy we decided to wear shorts instead of capri tights.

Along one of the backdrops, we saw a line form and wondered what was going on. Well, when we saw people taking pictures, we decided to join in!

Since we were both injured for this race, we planned to take it slow and just enjoy the scenery. We literally ran/walked the entire thing and had a blast!

I loved how bananas were available at one of the water stops! Such a nice touch!

Before long, we were looping back towards the French Quarter and Jackson Square.

This cathedral along with Cafe du Monde located just across the street are quintessential New Orleans "must do's"!

Hello Mile 12! I of course had to stop for my traditional mile 12 photo!

Forest Gump was even out and about for all the fun!

Our husband's text us their location along the finish line route so we knew where to look and they got some hilarious video footage of us finishing the race. Think: slo-mo...

We did it! It might have taken us almost three hours, but we did it! I have no regrets on the timing of this race for us as we literally spent so much time playing around, taking pictures, and just enjoying ourselves!

The food after the race was in plenty, but we somehow missed the chocolate milk. Instead, we picked some up at Starbucks on the walk back to our hotel.

Another nice offering by Rock n Roll are the free transportation shuttles. Since this race does not start and end in the same location, shuttles are available to take spectators to the start line and runners/spectators back to the downtown area once the race is over.

We loved spending the weekend with our friends!!

Our post-race lunch took place at the Ruby Slipper Cafe. It was delicious!!

I had the roast beef eggs benedict and it was seriously delicious!

Before saying a final farewell to our friends, we stopped by Cafe du Monde for a few souvenirs for our friends back home!

If you're ever thinking of running this race, you should! We really enjoyed our weekend and had a blast through it all!

Friday, February 14, 2020

2020 Rock n Roll New Orleans Expo

This past weekend, Rock n Roll held its annual New Orleans Marathon weekend . Despite being on the upside of an injury (and with a half a second of a thought to dropping to the 10K), my friend Melissa and I agreed to run/walk the half that we were initially registered for. 

We stayed at Hilton Riverside which was located right next door to the Ernest N Morial Convention Center (where the expo was being held). Don't let the "right next door" part fool you - this is a HUGE convention center and the walk was a rather long one!

A change that Rock n Roll has made within the past few years is the elimination of race waivers. You basically sign your online waiver when you register, so you don't need an extra paper in hand once you arrive. There's a mobile app where you can look up your bib number and then line up accordingly by bib number to pick up your packet. It's super easy and wastes less paper!

Rock n Roll also always has you walk the red carpet on your way to check in! What a fun touch!

Another fun touch this year was the addition of gold, green, and purple mardi gras beads! I love it when each race experience really hits on the cultural aspect of the area. So fun!

It wouldn't be a Rock n Roll Expo without the traditional Chocolate Milk finish line photo!

After picking up our bags and shirts, we made our way to the Brooks showroom floor to check out the merchandise this year.

My favorite were the light up number signs! (Not for sale, sadly.)

We spent a good 45 minutes or so here, looking through the merchandise and trying things on. I came away with a long sleeved finishers shirt (which I love) and a Rock n Roll New Orleans coffee mug. I've never purchased a coffee mug at their Expo because they weren't race authentic enough. Well, this one had purple, green, and gold insignias all over it so yes, it's now mine!

We made our purchases, then walked over to the Main Expo floor to check everything else out.

A super fun experience was put on at the Humana booth where my friend and I received matching "tattoos"!

Another fun "New Orleans" touch to this race experience were the multitude of Mardi Gras costumes, parade floats, and photo opportunities.

We definitely took advantage of them all!

Oh yes, and a giant crawfish...almost forgot about him!

I also registered for next year's Rock n Roll New Orleans half. If you register for the following year's events at the Expo, you can usually take advantage of special pricing and receive a free tshirt!

After leaving the Expo, we walked back over to our room to drop off our purchases, then made our way to the Riverwalk Mall for some beignets!

Although the "authentic" Cafe du Monde is located in the French Quarter, they do offer various locations throughout the city and this one happened to be inside of the Riverwalk Mall. It was super easy and convenient for us, so we went with it!

Watching them make the beignets was super fun, too! She literally scooped these up and tossed them in the fryer. (See instagram stories for footage!)

The remainder of our day was spent touring a plantation home located just outside of New Orleans and eating pizza at our favorite, Outlaw pizza. It was a fun day in all and ended with an early bed time for the runners.

Up next: Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon race reap!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Disney Dream Day 2: Castaway Cay & The 5K

Our first port day on our most recent Disney Dream cruise was at Castaway Cay. We had plans to run the 5K, then hang on the beach the remainder of the day. Since it was Brayden's first time at Castaway Cay (and the beach in general), we wanted it to be extra special and memorable for him!

Fun tip I never knew: If you have a small child and are interested in running the 5K, there's a drop off point for Scuttle's Cove on your way to the start line. The 5K cut off age is 10 years old, so it was nice being able to drop Brayden off right there on our route. Scuttle's Cove is entirely enclosed with no access to the beach (it's more of a splash pad type area). Super convenient and easy!

As we docked at Castaway Cay, we spent a little time taking in the beauty of the island. It was such a pretty day, too!

Breakfast in Cabanas consisted of (of course), Mickey waffles!

Prior to previous Castaway Cay 5K's I'd run, this one was a little different. Instead of meeting as a group in the Walt Disney Theater and walking to the start line together, we were directed to meet instead on the island itself. As I previously mentioned, we were able to drop Brayden off on our (LONG) walk to the start line. Castaway Cay 5K's seriously bring back memories from half marathons at Walt Disney World and the crazy long walk to the start line!

It's a great way to see the island early in the morning without the crowds, though!

Another change since I last ran this race was the start line! Instead of staring the race at the start/finish line area, runners were directed to continue walking to the air strip to start the race.

I wasn't sure how my IT Band or hamstring would hold up during this race since I had so many issues running the half marathon just two days prior, so I decided to stick towards the back and take it kind of slow.

With the recent hurricane Dorian that hit the area, I could see much more of Castaway Cay than I remembered. It seemed as if a lot of the areas that were usually full of greenery no longer were. It was very nice and clean, but I was amazed at how much of the island I could now see!

The Castaway Cay 5K takes runners and walkers down the airstrip and around the bike path. All along the way, there are various coolers of water with cups and it's so refreshing during a hot run!

They also had a set up of water in cups about midway through and it was manned by a couple of cast members.

I spotted my friends on one of our out and back loops! Hi husband and friends!

With that, it was almost time to finish the race! I love how the course is well marked, too!

Believe it or not, I was worried for nothing. Castaway Cay is SUPER flat, so my IT Band and hamstring gave me zero issues during this run! I was so excited!!

We were all so excited to have another medal to add to the collection!

After finishing our run, we all changed into our beach attire and told our friends to go to Serenity Bay. I wanted them to fully experience the amazingness of that little slice of heaven and since they weren't traveling with kids, it was the perfect opportunity!

In the mean time, we picked Brayden up from Scuttles Cove (where he had a ball) and headed over to the family beach! Life jackets were in abundant supply and we had no problems finding one for him.

He LOVED swimming and playing in the sand. It truly was a magical experience for all of us!

Midway through the day, we snagged lunch at Cookie's BBQ. This is one of my favorite parts of a Disney Cruise as the food is so delicious!

This child still talks about these banana ice cream cones, too!

Back on the beach, Jason and I took turns relaxing and playing with Brayden. While Jason played with him in the ocean. When we swapped, I took Brayden over to the splash pad area to play.

This kid seriously loved everything about Castaway Cay!

It truly was a magical day for our family!

We spent as much time as humanly possible on Castaway Cay before heading back to the ship.

Our friends loved Serenity Bay, too!

That evening, we had dinner in Enchanted Gardens. I know it's silly, but we bought these matching outfits on Castaway Cay several years ago and this was our first time for all three of us to wear them! 

It's a little, right?! :)

Back in our room that evening, we literally crashed after such a long and fun day on the island. None of us wanted to leave and can't wait to return!

If you've visited Castaway Cay, what's your favorite part of the island?

Disney Travel Day: Wine and Dine Expo & Animal Kingdom
Disney Day 2: Wine and Dine 10K & Kids Races & Hollywood Studios/Epcot
Disney Day 3: Wine and Dine Half Marathon & Magic Kingdom
Disney Day 4: Boarding the Disney Dream
Disney Day 5: Castaway Cay
Disney Day 6: Nassau
Disney Day 7: At Sea Day
Disney Day 8: Disney Springs and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

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