Friday morning, after waking up at 3:30am, we flew out of LAX (third time I was up there in less than a week) to Houston, our first pitstop on the way to New Orleans. Why Houston for less than 24 hours? We hadn't seen some dear friends (who decided to haul butt out of SoCal in '06, back to their hometown) since 2009 in which time two babies have been born. So while it was short and 6 hour drive from NOLA, it was completely worth it.
The male half of the couple ran The Woodlands marathon on Saturday morning (and PR'd!). Friday afternoon, we got to walk around the small expo while his wife picked up his bib. I snagged a cowbell! Thinking it will be very useful for Ragnar cheering.
We crashed at their place Friday evening. I had full plans of waking up at 6am in order to be on the road by 7am and figured I would wake up no problem. Well, the whole jet-lag thing turned out to be a bigger factor than I expected and I woke up 7am. We managed to get out the door by 8am, but then getting my coffee at the Starbucks (inside a Kroger) took forever (seriously, like 30 minutes to get coffee, water, and bananas). While there, I decided I didn't like the prices at all and that we'd stop at Walmart in Jennings, LA.
In Beaumont, TX somewhere between 10 and 10:30am, we stopped to top off the gas tank, take a pee break, and make a mandatory visit to the Cracker Barrel Country Store (I love this place. Love. It.). Then back on the road.
For maybe an hour. See a pattern?
We hit Westlake, LA and the Husband has to make a second pit stop (apparently, the seal had been broken). Westlake was probably one of the ugliest towns I have ever seen (at least the parts we saw). So many oil pipelines everywhere, running up and over streets like a freeway overpass. And this enormous sign perched way to low over the street for its dimensions.
Less than an hour later, we arrive at my one planned stop in Jennings, LA to get race-morning foods. While the selection/prices for bread/bagel type items were significantly worse than our local Walmarts, they had my favorite Danksin workout top on clearance ($5) in a bunch of colors, with x-smalls abound (never see this in ours). This stop cost us another 20-30 minutes, tacked on to the 90 minutes we were late starting out, plus the two other pee-stops. And we hadn't even had lunch yet! But somehow my brain thinks there is plenty of time. It's 12:30 and we're almost to Lafayette, right? Ok, Einstein.
I transferred the driving duties to the Husband and started Yelping down seafood places to have lunch in Lafayette. After a wild good chase to a highly-rated restaurant that isn't open for lunch on Saturdays (WTF? Saturday? I get Sunday in the Bible Belt but Saturday?) costing us more precious time, we find a sit-down place, Don's Seafood Hut, that assures we can be in and out in 30 minutes. And they deliver. Not to mention the crawfish gumbo was excellent. At this point, inhaling tasty, spicy, cajun shelfish stew that I realized I was going to love Louisiana.
Except, I was freaking out that I wasn't going to make bib pick up.
Traffic getting to the Convention Center was ugly, according to Google Maps.
No more stops after Lafayette. I spent the better part of 3 hours (thanks to traffic) wondering if I should be driving - like that would make any difference. Control Freak much? Obviously it wouldn't but I guess in my mind if I were driving at least I would be in control. But The Husband is as good a driver as anybody, so, I put the crazy away. We finally parked way the heck at the opposite end of the expo in the Hilton garage ($8 for less than an hour of use. Oh well.) 30 minutes before the expo closes. Phew! Packet pickup was easy, except later in the evening I realized the shirt they gave me was freaking dirty (like black soot-like spots in 3 different places). Hopefully it comes out, but a lesson to check the shirt before leaving.
Because we had squandered our time on pit stops, by the time we got our car valeted and checked into the hotel, it was past 6pm. Leaving slim-pickins in the OpenTable reservations department - some slots I tried to book only to have them swiped from under me because I took 4 minutes to check Yelp's restaurant reviews before booking. We ended up at a rather mediocre (yet still expensive) restaurant called M Bistro (inside either the Ritz or the Marriot, I can’t remember which). Service was great, but the food, while decent, didn't hold a candle to anything else we ate in Louisiana. Yet another coordination/time management lesson learned. Instead of compulsively freaking out and checking the traffic on the ride into New Orleans, maybe one should spend said time getting good restaurant reservations.
With a stomach full of gumbo (there were basically zero carb options on the menu - not a single pasta dish to speak of), race outfit and fuel laid out, I was asleep by 10pm for a 4:30am wake up. Oddly, I wasn't all that nervous, no tossing and turning. The Husband woke up out of the blue without the alarm at 3:54am and asked me what time it was - my own personal human alarm clock! Laid there for another 30 minutes before it was time to get on with the race preparations...
Race recap to follow!