Keeping Up with Kelsey Podcast Episode 12: My Top 10 Favorite Races

Keeping Up with Kelsey podcast can be found on:

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Episode 12: My Top 10 Favorite Races

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If I had to pick one thing I love most about running, it would probably be running races. I’ve been going to races since I was in 3rd grade and love every aspect that goes into it-the people, the buzz, the swag, the crowds.  All of it.  Over the years, I have run in so many different races of various distances, but there a few that stand out more than the others. Today on the podcast I’m talking about my list of top 10 favorite races.  It was so hard to narrow it down, but I really took total race experience into consideration when narrowing it down.  Hopefully this list helps you choose some races in the future. If you have done any of the races on my list, let me know so we can compare race stories!

Here is my Top 10 list.  Check out today’s podcast episode for details about each event.

Flying Pig Marathon 

Myrtle Beach Mini

Indy Monumental

Ragnar Vegas

Hood to Coast Relay

TriDeltaThon

Knoxville Marathon

Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon

Little Rock Marathon

Downhill at Dawn Half

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Keeping Up with Kelsey Podcast Episode 11 with Jess Hofheimer: Pace of Me

Keeping Up with Kelsey podcast can be found on:

iTunes/Apple Podcasts | OvercastStitcherGoogle Play 

Episode 11: Jess Hofheimer

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Jess Hofheimer is a mom of 3 from North Carolina. She owns her own run coaching business and is a Pilates instructor at a local studio. Jess is an experienced marathoner and has run the Boston Marathon. On episode 11, she opens up about overtraining, her eating disorder, GI issues, and overcoming a major foot injury.  Jess is real and authentic as they come and her vulnerability on this episode to share her story is inspiring.  We talk about what marathon she is training for, how she fuels during a marathon, and about her friend Drea who has ALS. Enjoy listening to Jess’s story.

Mentioned in the show:

Philadelphia Marathon

How to Train For and Run Your Best Marathon

Wrightsville Beach Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

UCAN

Endurance Planet Podcast

Deep 30 Protein Powder

Muir Energy

Boston Marathon

Evolve Pilates

Jessica’s Online Store

ALS

Team Drea

Blackfish Movie

 

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Keeping Up with Kelsey Podcast Episode 10: Katie Taylor

Keeping Up with Kelsey podcast can be found on:

iTunes/Apple Podcasts | OvercastStitcherGoogle Play 

Episode 10: Katie Taylor

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Katie Taylor is a talented runner from Memphis, TN. She is a wife and toddler mama, road racer, trail runner, and run coach. Katie and I met through Instagram a few years ago and then eventually met in real life. She stays home with her daughter while her husband is in pharmacy school and she juggles many things. On this podcast episode, Katie shares her story of how she became a runner, her decision to start trail running, being a mama runner to an almost two year old, and what it’s like being a run coach. Her talent for running is amazing and she even shares how she recently won a 50k trail race. She is as real as it gets and our conversation was so refreshing. Enjoy listening to my conversation with Katie.

 

From the show:

Keeping Up with Kelsey Facebook Group

Christmas Bedding

BOB Running Stroller

Thule Running Stroller

Clif Bar Mocha Gel

Tailwind

90g Sports Drink

LaraBars

 

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Keeping Up with Kelsey Podcast Episode 9: Leah Jones, Dopey Challenge Finisher

Keeping Up with Kelsey podcast can be found on:

iTunes/Apple Podcasts | OvercastStitcherGoogle Play 

Episode 9: Leah Jones

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Leah Jones is a marketer from Lynchburg, Virginia who is on a mission to complete 50 half marathons before her 30th birthday. Most recently, she completed the Dopey Challenge in Disney World that consisted of a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon all in consecutive days.  She shares with us her running history, goals for the future, and how she made it through Dopey. Download today’s episode to learn more about Elizabeth.

From the show:

Keeping Up with Kelsey Podcast Facebook Group

Liberty University  

RunDisney  

Dopey Challenge

Hanson Marathon Method

Richmond Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Blue Ridge Marathon  

Outer Banks Half

Race 13.1 Series

Lynchburg Half

 

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Keeping Up with Kelsey Podcast Episode 8: Elizabeth Heidal: Running for Bling

Keeping Up with Kelsey podcast can be found on:

iTunes/Apple Podcasts | OvercastStitcherGoogle Play 

Episode 8: Elizabeth Heidal

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Elizabeth Heidal is an accomplished runner from Mobile, Alabama who is on a quest to race the states. She has already completed 48 and has the remaining two states slated for 2018. She travels for her job, but still finds ways to eat nutritiously on the road and always (yes, always) gets her workouts in despite where the road may lead her. She met her husband Rich at a Ragnar race and has been a sherpa for him in Ironman events,  In 2012, Elizabeth was assaulted while running in her town and she shares this experience with us. Elizabeth has qualified for Boston on more than one occasion and has even won a half marathon before!   Find out more about my conversation with Elizabeth by downloading her episode today.

From the show:

Elizabeth’s Blog 

Ragnar Atlanta  

Deadwood Half Marathon, South Dakota 

Shiprock Half Marathon, New Mexico  

Vacation Races 

Lincoln/Springfield Half Marathon  

Hatfield McCoy Marathon  

Big Sur Marathon 

Sedona Half Marathon, Arizona

Fargo Half Marathon, North Dakota  

Missoula Half Marathon, Montana

Run the Bluegrass Half, Kentucky

Oak Barrel Half, Tennessee

Oiselle Bride Dress  

Elizabeth’s post about her assault

Run Angel

Go Guarded Runner Safety Device

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Signing up for an ultra!

If you remember reading my blog two years ago when I did my first marathon, you may recall that it was a horrible experience. I had put in months of solid training, done almost everything “right” and still somehow managed what I refer to as the worst race ever. Nothing went right on race day (especially the weather) and I told myself I would NEVER go through that again. Never. Ever. Ever. But somehow those words have come back to bite me.

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In case you forgot what I looked like after my marathon

For the last few years, I have volunteered at a local ultra event, The Pistol Ultra. Unlike most ultras, this race takes place on a greenway instead of mountain trails. In my time volunteering, I have worked registration, handed out medals, worked aid stations, and greeted finishers. I’ll be honest when I say that volunteering at an ultra gave me no inspiration to do one whatsoever. The runners were SO inspiring, but seeing the pain, dedication, and pure willpower that it took to be out there did not interest me at all. Especially for the ones who were doing ONE. HUNDRED. MILES. Holy cow, those people were awesome! Add in the fact that the race took place on a super cold December day, I definitely had no interest.

A few months ago, it was announced that the race would be moved to March and it just so happened that the date fell the Saturday after my school’s Spring Break. Perfect timing. I have been in a bit of a fitness rut lately. Of course I am loving my Orange Theory classes, have loved walking every week with my Momma, but I honestly just needed a goal to work toward. When I saw the date change, it jumped at me. Here I was, screaming from the rooftops that I would never do more than a half again and all of a sudden I was contemplating doing a 50k. What is wrong with me?

I talked to my Momma, husband, running bestie, and some other close friends about it, and they were super supportive and encouraging. So, I did what any normal person would do and signed up. My stomach knotted up the second I hit “submit registration” and I felt sick. BUT, this race is now on my calendar and is holding me accountable. It is terrifying and I’m trying to to think *too* hard about it because I don’t want to psych myself out, but I’m willing to work for it. People have asked why I’m doing an ultra and my answer is simple: to prove to myself that I can.   pistol

You may be wondering why I chose this specific race instead of just picking another big marathon. The biggest reason is the location of the race. It takes place less than 30 minutes from my house so I won’t have the added stress of traveling for a race. The race is also ran on a 3 loop lollipop course, meaning I pass by the “home base” area 6 different times during the race. This is crucial because I can have my family there to cheer me on, I can get refills on my drinks, I can use an INDOOR bathroom, take a rest if I need to, and do pretty much anything I need to do that I couldn’t do if I was on any other course. It is perfect. It is also on the local greenway so you are seeing people out there the entire time to keep you motivated and encouraged. Another key factor is time limit. Since the race is hosting a 100 mile option, all race participants have 30 hours to complete their respective race. This means that I literally have 30 hours to complete 31 miles. Surely I can do that!  I really could not have chosen a better race for my first (and probably last) ultra.

Right now the plan is to walk the majority of the race. During training, I may implement a run/walk interval that I could sustain for the race, but I know that for the time being I am okay with walking most of the race. In the coming months I will be updating the blog with how training is going, what is working for me, and what it is like training for an ultra as a walker or a run/walker. Stay tuned!

Friday Faves…on a Saturday

Good morning, friends! Fall is finally here in East Tennessee and I couldn’t be more happy! It seems as though we have waited forever for the temps to drop and luckily they finally have. I love living in the mountains year-round, but living here in the fall makes it so much more special. Today I wanted to share with you some things I am LOVING lately. These are my Friday Faves, posted on a Saturday because that’s how I roll.

    1. HYDROFLASK.  I’ve always been a water bottle junkie, but my Hydroflask is by far my favorite vessel that I’ve ever used. It is super durable (just ask the concrete that I’m constantly dropping it on) and keeps ice cold for over 24 hours. I chose the 40oz option because I go through water like crazy! Having the bigger bottle is also good for my teaching job since I am not constantly leaving my classroom to fill it up once it is empty. These come with a screw top lid, but they also make other lids like this sippy cup one, which is the one I use. Right now I have a mint blue one, but am eyeing a purple color for my Christmas list. IMG_1439
    2. INSTANT POT.  If you don’t have one of these amazing inventions in your house yet, do yourself and your family a favor and go order one. This pot is seriously one of my favorite products that I have in my house. It can take chicken from completely frozen to your plate in less than 30 minutes. Lately I’ve loved making pinto beans in the pot and making cilantro rice for my burrito bowls.  SO DELICIOUS! These also make good Christmas gifts for anyone on your shopping list.
    3. A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna ValerioI have followed Mirna on social media for quite some time and she is such an inspiration to so many. She dubs herself “fat girl running” and has made a movement from it. She is living proof that you can be “fat” and healthy at the same time. I love following her training and her daily posts. She just published her first book and I am loving it so far!   mirna
    4. CANDLES. Since getting married, we have been obsessed with candles. As soon as we walk in the front door, we light a candle. We are currently living in a cozy cabin in the mountains and having a yummy candle burning really makes our house a home. For fall, I am LOVING these scents…Leaves, Pumpkin Apple, and Mahogany Teakwood.     IMG_1437
    5. BIRKENSTOCK SANDALSIt is no secret to anyone that knows me in real life that I am a tried and true Chaco girl. I even wore them at my wedding for heaven’s sake! But right before going back to school this year, I tried a pair of the Birkenstock Mayari sandals on a whim and fell in love. I didn’t think I would like the feel of a leather shoe on my foot, but they have been a lifesaver. As a teacher who is on my feet all day, I have to be wearing something that supports my feet and is comfortable. These Birks fit the bill and I am SO pleased with my purchase! Order you some; your feet will thank you!

What are you loving lately? Don’t forget to keep checking back for updates on my podcast that will be rolling out soon! 

Podcasting!

Helllooooo out there!  I’m dusting off this blog that I have neglected for far too long to bring you exciting news! I’m starting a podcast! Yes, you heard that right, a podcast. Any podcast lovers out there?

You may be wondering how in the world I came up with this idea and why I am doing it.  Well, let’s take a step back for a quick sec. The teacher that teaches next door to me has been a podcast junkie for a while. I used to make fun of him for always listening to conversations instead of jamming out to music. He approached me with the idea of creating a podcast for our school. At first I was skeptical, but the more I thought about it, it seemed like a really good idea. I began researching and looking into the podcasting world. Before I knew it, I found myself addicted and subscribing to several different channels. Podcasting is so personal and I love listening to conversations each day!

After doing a lot of research and determining that this is something we wanted to pursue, I decided that I wanted to make my own podcast as well that focused on training, racing, running, fitness, and life in general. I haven’t published a blog post on this blog in over a year because blogging really ran its course for me (pun intended). I no longer felt fulfilled sitting down and typing out words. Combine that with the changing of the Internet. I rely more on fast and instant information now such as seeing a photo on Instagram. I don’t want to have to scroll through a long blog post to learn more about someone’s day, life, or training. It just doesn’t satisfy me. I would much prefer to listen to their voice on my morning drive or while exercising. The more people I talked to about this, the more I realized that many people shared the same sentiment that I do.

While I still love writing and will probably begin writing a few blog posts here and there again, I have to face the fact that technology changes and people prefer a new way of getting their information.

Podcasting opens up a whole new world for me and the community that I surround myself with. Instead of my personality being words on a screen, you’ll be able to hear my actual (fast paced) voice. I will also be able to bring other voices to you in forms of guests on my show. The possibilities are really limitless and I’m so excited for this new journey. My podcast is still in the beginning phases and I have a lot of work left to do, but I’m working diligently to get it off the ground and to get some episodes published.  IMG_1415.JPG

This blog has been so special to me for so long and I have met some wonderful people along the way and been given amazing opportunities that I never would have had access to without this blog. I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent with it and y’all, but it is time to branch out. My plan is to publish two blog posts a month starting in November and to also work on getting a biweekly podcast out. We will see if this happens.

So, tell me…do you like podcasts?  Are you interested in listening to mine? What topics would you want to listen to or what special guests would you like to see on the show?  I’m open to all suggestions. If you want to be notified of when my first episode goes live, be sure to comment so that I can add you to my email list. Thanks for listening and hope to be in your ears soon. 🙂

I Got Engaged!

Hello blog world!  Does anyone even still read blogs?  Since the rise of Instagram, I rarely even read my regular blogs anymore, and I obviously have completely slacked off from writing anything here in this space.  I believe my last post was around 6 months ago, but that’s okay because I just renewed my blog ownership so you are stuck with me for at least another year.

Exciting news on the personal front…I’m engaged!!!  Can you believe it?  I don’t post a whole lot on social media about my boyfriend, now fiance (!!!!), because he doesn’t have social media and doesn’t really care for his face and name to be everywhere.  I respect that, but I do get to share tidbits every now and then.  Plus, I talked him into getting an Instagram so I think we are on the right track.

If you like reading about engagements, then scroll on down and read our engagement story.  I promise this blog will not turn into a wedding planning blog, but I will share some things from time to time so I can read back on it later on in our marriage and reflect on this happy season in our lives.  So, without further adieu, here is our proposal story:

TJ and I have known for a long time that one day we would eventually be married. We visited a few jewelry stores and TJ allowed me to pick out some rings that I wouldn’t mind wearing for the next 100 years. Trying on rings made it more real but months passed and no proposal. Some of my 8th grade students would ask daily about when I would be getting engaged but I kept telling them that I had to be patient and that it would all happen when the time was right.

On April 27 we had our annual church picnic for our children’s and youth ministry to celebrate the end of the school year. We co-teach a group of about 15 middle schoolers on Wednesday night and it has long been “our” thing. I had just came from track practice and was dressed pretty frumpy.  Track shorts and a super wrinkly Columbia shirt that I had thrown on from my trunk since it was a bit chilly that evening. It was such a fun evening filled with grilling out, s’mores, chatting with friends and kids on haybales, playing football in the church field, and just making memories.  TJ arrived but acted completely normal as I sat in a lawn chair chomping on a hot dog. My friend Holly told me she wanted to get a group photo of us with our class so that we would have something to remember the year. I was almost done with my hot dog so I told her to wait a minute as I took one more bite, spilling mustard all over my mouth and a bit on my shirt. She very sternly looked at me and firmly instructed me to put the hot dog down. I didn’t think anything of it since I was so hungry but then she took a napkin and her and another lady helped wipe my face off. At this point, I still had no clue.

We lined our kids up for the photo and then Holly told the kids to step back for just a photo of TJ and I. This seemed strange since it was supposed to be all about the kids, but Holly gave me a very serious look as she said “we are GOING to get a picture of you two.” By now, a big crowd had gathered and everyone had their phones and cameras out. I didn’t know we were so pretty. When TJ grabbed my hands, it suddenly hit me what was happening. I started freaking out and looking up and to the side because I was so caught off guard. I have no idea what TJ said to me because I was in utter disbelief of what was actually happening, but all I know is that he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring box. I started crying immediately and before I even said yes and took the ring I turned to the crowd and yelled “DID Y’ALL KNOW ABOUT THIS?!?!” I took the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen and slipped it on my finger as TJ and I hugged. We then turned around and everyone started clapping for us as we showed my new diamond off.

Oh my gosh this is happening!!!

Oh my gosh this is happening!!!

PURE JOY!

PURE JOY!

is this for real?

is this for real?

one of my favorite pictures from the night as it shows TJ breathing a sigh of relief.

one of my favorite pictures from the night as it shows TJ breathing a sigh of relief.

Madeline couldn't contain the tears all night.

Madeline couldn’t contain the tears all night.

It was the most perfect proposal for us. Having our entire church family and so many of our good friends there to celebrate with us made it so much more special. We spent the next two hours receiving lots of hugs and well wishes and plenty of knowledge and advice about wedding planning and marriage. It was seriously perfect and a wonderful start to our new life together. To beat it all, I never even got to finish my hot dog.

Right after TJ proposed, I tried to FaceTime my closest friends and NONE of them would answer!!! My phone ended up dying moments later and when I finally put it on charge a few hours later, I was greeted with an immense amount of love since my mother shared it on Facebook almost the moment it happened. TJ and I are so happy to be uniting in marriage and becoming one. Our proposal was a true reflection of us and having so many people there to support and encourage us was the icing on the cake! We look forward to sharing our life together.  IMG_4932

In the days after our engagement, I learned more about TJ’s plan.  He had been at my best friend Holly’s house before coming to church and he was a bundle of nerves and freaking out.  He even was worried about *which* knee to get down on.  Bless him.  This whole being a bride thing has been SO much fun so far and we are so appreciative for all the love and support we have been shown!

This is probably just your average engagement story, but it was so incredibly perfect for us and our relationship.  I will never forget April 27 for as long as I live.  We have really been aggressive in the planning process and have already set a date, booked a venue, caterer, photographer, DJ, and have chosen our bridal party.  We still have a long way to go, but as Type A as I am about all things wedding, I have a feeling it will go off without a hitch.

Do you have a fun engagement story to tell?  What are your favorite and least favorite wedding trends of the moment?

Race Recap: Rock n Roll New Orleans

NOLA, baby! This wonderful city has been on my travel list for quite some time, so I just HAD to sign up for the Rock n Roll race that was held at the perfect time.  Fortunately for us, I have some super sweet friends that live outside of the city in Slidell so we were able to stay with them and make a long weekend trip out of it.  We left right after work on Friday and made the 9 hour drive South. Whew, that was a lot of car time.

Saturday morning we slept late and headed to the expo.  Our friend’s husband actually works at the convention center so we were able to use his parking pass and walk right into the expo.  Packet pick up was super organized as usual.  I was able to quickly pick up my bib and t-shirt and visit all of the booths that seemed interesting to me.  As much as I love expos, there comes a point where if you have seen one then you have seen them all.  I did make my way over to the VIP booth to pick up my wristband for race day.  The sweet girl working it told me that I had to be parked and on the bus by 5:45am the next morning which kind of alarmed me, but it ended up being perfect timing on race day.  IMG_3852 IMG_3855

We rode a street car over to the French Quarter and made our way through all that is New Orleans.  I loved being able to see all of the different vendors in the French Market, going inside during Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, eating some red beans and rice at a local eatery, seeing Bourbon Street, watching the Dragon Master Showcase street performers, and eating at Cafe du Monde.   Basically everything that was touristy-we did.  It was soooo warm outside which was delightful given how cold it had recently been back home.   I truly felt like we got to experience all that is New Orleans.  IMG_3873 IMG_3861 IMG_3904

I got in bed super early that night.  Unfortunately I woke up several times during the night but I think that is common with me and my race nerves when I am away from home.  I woke up easily to my alarm on race morning and got ready in the dark since TJ was still sleeping.  Before too long we were on the road to make the drive into downtown.  We found our parking lot super easily and after a quick goodbye I boarded the comfy charter bus that would drive us to the host hotel for the VIP experience.  IMG_3931

This was my first time doing VIP for a race, but I was super happy I signed up for it since parking can be somewhat of a nightmare and I really really really did not want to be shuttled back to my car after the race.  The VIP room was on the third floor of the downtown Hilton.  They had a wonderful breakfast spread which I was so thankful for since I left my normal pre-race PB sandwich sitting on the counter at home.  I grabbed a bagel and some peanut butter and grabbed a seat at a table.  The people sitting there didn’t really talk much but once they left the nicest woman ever sat down with me along with her husband and we had a great pre-race chat!  They, too, were race the states and we had sooo much to talk about.  Hi, Dianna!   IMG_3922 IMG_3921

The best part about VIP was plenty of clean indoor bathrooms.  I’m not above using a porta-potty but if given the choice I will gladly take no lines and indoor plumbing all day long.  Since my corral wasn’t near the front, I didn’t even leave the hotel until a little after 7:30 (race start).  I slowly made my way to the start line and took in the crisp morning air and prepared myself for what was about to happen.  IMG_3934

Finally I saw my corral and hopped right in.  The crowd support near the beginning was amazing.  High fives were everywhere and music was blaring. I had planned to walk the entire race and that is exactly what I did.  We did a really long out and back on one street and I was amazed at all the sights and sounds.  Tons of people out supporting their runners, bands playing, beads hanging from trees and electric wires. It was amazing and was also a welcome distraction.  I carried my GoPro in my hand and made tons of video clips during the race that I would later turn into a movie to remember my trip.  I saw lots of “touch here for power” signs that I promptly smacked.  Before too long, the people on the opposite side of the street were coming “back” so I was occupied watching them.  So many people out there enjoying life and reaching for their goals.  I felt completely fine the entire race…no stomach pain at all which is rare for me.  For some reason, lots of people passed me and offered encouragement, high fives, thumbs ups, and pats on the back.  I totally appreciated it because I love those kind of things but I did wonder if maybe I looked bad or looked like I was failing or something.  Regardless, shout out to my fellow racers for being so gosh darn nice!

Around mile 11 my feet began to hurt.  I knew I was getting a blister on the ball of one of my feet and they just hurt in general.  This is nothing new to me so I just kept listening to my music and pressed on.  I enjoyed being surrounded by supportive people and there was still so much to look at…NOLA truly is a gorgeous place!  Before I knew it, I was inside the gates with the finish line in sight.  I looked everywhere for TJ and took time to high five people who had lined up outside of the chute.  The finish line was in a city park with beautiful trees everywhere that offered plenty of shade.  Once I crossed the finish, I got my totally awesome medal.  I loved that instead of a ribbon they actually used Mardi Gras beads…completely terrific for that race.  I was able to grab some Cheez-Its and an ice cold bottle of water and make my way out of the finishing area.  Thank goodness the chute wasn’t super long like it was in Vegas.  IMG_3956

I still couldn’t find TJ so I made my way over the to the VIP area.  As soon as I walked in I was greeted by my friend Dianna that I met earlier in the morning.  She said that her and her husband saved me a seat in the shade which was so super nice of them.  The VIP tent had a nice selection of food options.  I settled on some rice and chicken with a big old brownie.  We sat and chatted about the race and our experiences.  Surprisingly I still felt well and had absolutely no stomach pain or light headedness.  Again, super rare after a finish.  After about half an hour of good food and conversation, I left my new pals and went to find TJ.  He was patiently waiting for me and  ended up realizing that he was lined up at the marathon finish line and not the half marathon one.  Oopsies.  IMG_3935 IMG_3950

my sweet new friend, Dianna

my sweet new friend, Dianna

We made our way back to Slidell and I let my feet have a nice long soak in the pool.  It was blazing hot by this time and I was glad to have some cool relief.  We completely vegged out on the couch the entire day.  Our host family made a huge pot of gumbo that kept us full all day while we binge watched Law & Order: SVU.  I took the Monday after the race off so we made one more trip into the city to eat at Cafe du Monde and to get some pralines to take back home.  Monday was incredibly humid and I made mention to TJ that I sure was glad that  the humidity spared us on race day.  We had a long drive back home, but of course we stopped in Chattanooga to visit our sweet friends Brittney and Cameron and to grab some dinner with them.  IMG_3973 IMG_3996

Overall it was a great race and I’m so glad that I was able to knock off another state while exploring such a diverse and culturally rich city.  Both TJ and I agreed that we would love to visit NOLA again and I know for sure that I will recommend Rock n Roll New Orleans to ANYONE because it was seriously such a great race.