Rock’n’Roll New Orleans

On February 28, 2016 I ran the New Orleans Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon. I flew in on Friday and left on Sunday night. There is so much to tell you about this race, location and great general information. Let’s just get this party started!

Flights

I lucked out and found that Frontier Airlines had a killer deal on flights last minute. I was able to fly my boyfriend and I both out to New Orleans for  $240/RT.  Obviously with Frontier they will charge you for everything! $35 for carry on or $30 to check BUT if you are a light packer you can just take on a personal item. Drinks and snacks will cost money as well.

Transportation

No depending on where you are staying and what you plan on doing will determine best mode of transportation. We were staying 10 min from downtown and rented a car. The cost of the car was $60 for 3 days which wasn’t bad and let up explore. If you choose to take a cab, I HIGHLY suggest you have multiple people in your party because it is a flat rate of $36 each way to/from airport to downtown.

If you choose to rent a car there is various parking all around. The meters allow you to park for up to 2 hours either using a credit card or mobile app and must be paid between 6am-7pm. Outside those hours the parking is free. Just make sure to leave your receipt if using the machine in the window where it is visible. On Sundays, the street parking is free which was convenient for the race. The other thing that I highly recommend is if you choose to get a rental car to get the insurance as well since there are a lot of things that could happen and better to be safe than sorry.

Hotel

We chose to stay at a cheap hotel while in New Orleans and chose the Econo Lodge. This hotel was great and there was a ton around too. You have a Walmart, Walgreens, Fast Food and only 10 min from French Quarter. The rooms were basic similar to a motel6 but you did have a microwave, free internet and fridge to use in the room. They also provided a continental breakfast in the lobby.

Expo

One key thing to do if you can before you leave is to print your race confirmation sheet so that you don’t have to worry about filling one out at the expo which I feel takes the most time. This particular expo felt more cramped and small compared to the Phoenix one. As always you have the same vendors as well as few new ones but nothing to really brag about.

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THE RACE

Surprisingly enough, even though the first 6-7 miles was an out and back route it was fairly easy. The start of the race is a cluster F*** there were 26 corrals I believe maybe more but weren’t separated too well and people would just cram in as they feel. Once the race started you are running an out and back route BUT have gorgeous houses to look at as well as Jazz Bands, neighbors cheering you on and tons of people. The biggest thing you have to watch for are the roads which have potholes. Multiple people got injured from this and taken to the hospital for stitches or worse. The weather was perfect! Started off cool but when the sun came out it was GORGEOUS! After doing the out and back portion the remaining felt like a breeze and was a lot of fun! You end in the city park which was huge but awesome! Overall this was a great course to run but I personally would fly in day before and leave after the race.

After the race is over, there are busses provided that will take you back close to the start line but you will have to walk to the start line or your car so make sure you “pin” your location to make it easier.

ALL ABOUT THE BLING

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Attractions

With having a rental car, you are able to see a lot more that New Orleans has to offer besides French Quarter or Bourbon Street. We went to the Lower 9 Ward to see where Katrina hit. You are able to see the houses that Habitat for Humanity built along with how isolated it is now. The other cool part about seeing this the levee that broke and how its rebuilt now. Still an unreal site to see what happened here. Now to better understand the impact most of the homes in L9W were valued at $50k, so when Katrina happened that is all insurance gave them which made it unreal for people to rebuild their homes there. To get a better picture of how bad it was we drove to Lakeview which was another area hit but homes there are valued at least double what L9W was. Either way it was still a great history lesson up close.

WW2 Museum: This place is a history buff heaven. There is a ton of information and artifacts that people have donated to this museum. The cost for just museum is $24.50 but for Military or Students the price is $14.50. They have a few other attractions as well you can do but cost more money. (you run by this on the race).

Food

Since we had a car we were able to try some awesome food outside of the city. The BEST place we ate at was a place called THE JOINT.  This is some of the best BBQ that is so tender and melts in your mouth! Be prepared to wait in line as this place never has a break.

After the race there is no better place to celebrate or even celebrate along the race than stopping by Cafe Du Monde. This place one takes cash so be prepared. These powder sugar covered beignet are AMAZING!

For some real food we went to American Sports SaloonThis place has indoor and outdoor seating along with a balcony to eat out on with fire pits. Full bar with great drinks and the food is outstanding. Very simple but comfort food. Their Mac’n’Cheese is to DIE for! Absolutely loved it.

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Phoenix Rock’N’Roll

On January 16th & 17th, 2016, I participated in the Phoenix Rock’n’Roll 5k and Half Marathon. This would be my first race back since having a spinal fusion on August 28, 2015. I didn’t care about time or pace, all I wanted to do was to finish. Below is my review on the 5k and half marathon as well as overall suggestions for transportation, accommodations and general info. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Expo

The expo was held at their convention center downtown which was close to public transportation. I arrived to the expo on Friday since I was running the 5k and needed to get my bibs. When I arrived that morning around 10am, there was already a line forming that was curving everywhere which made it difficult to find where it started and ended on top of people trying to sign their waivers or find their bib number. When the doors actually opened as you can imagine, the line went out the window. Once inside, the bib pick up lines were fairly quick and the expo itself was evenly spaced throughout the space.

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5k Race

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 5k presented by Brooks has a beautiful and flat looped course that starts on the iconic Mill Ave. Bridge, runs along Tempe Town Lake and finishes at Tempe Beach park with a Finish Line festival. With a start time in the morning, the weather was brisk and cool, however warmed up by the end of the race. This was a fast pace, nice warm up race to be a part of that had a pretty amazing turn out of participants.

Half Marathon

The half marathon is described as a flat and fast course with epic views of the valley of the sun, including Papago Park and Tempe town lake. As all Rock’n’Roll races participants will enjoy live bands, cheer teams, spirited water stations and other entertainment along the course. The weather started out cold but toward the end felt like the perfect temperature even with the sun out.  Best part was starting the race in the heart of ASU. Their campus is gorgeous and spacious. There are a few inclines you have to run and the view was either cities, towns or dessert. Overall, great race and area but don’t expect too much in sights.

Click HERE for map of the courses.

Transportation

Let me just say first and foremost I LOVED the light rail system in Phoenix. This is the BEST and MOST accommodating form of transportation to/from airport and races. A day pass cost a mere $4 but takes you everywhere (with some walking). Don’t waste you time on renting a car or paying for Uber/Taxi. If you are in town for the races, just take the light rail system. Details and schedule can be found HERE.

Accommodations

There are many places to stay when in Phoenix and honestly I found a hidden gem just outside of downtown. Last minute I had to find a new hotel since my original hotel I book cancelled my reservation for unknown reason upon my arrival. Luckily for me I scoured the internet and took a chance on Hotwire to see what I would get.  I ended up staying at the Phoenix Hotel and Suites. This place was 2 blocks from the light rail and Walgreens, walking distance to Starbucks, Jamba Juice and various other restaurants. The staff was outstanding and offered late check out of 2pm which was perfect for race day! There is a pool onsite as well as an all you can eat buffet. They were still renovating parts of the hotel but the rooms were spacious, clean, comfortable and each room had a microwave and fridge.

Food Suggestions

Oh Food! When in Phoenix there are a TON of great places to eat! I am going list just  few places that were walking distance to/from light rail that have amazing options.

Squid Ink!This is such a great sushi place downtown Phoenix. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating.

Ike’s Sandwich ShopThis is hands down one of the BEST sandwich shops I have ever been too. Originally started in San Francisco, Ike’s has a variety of sandwiches that will just melt in your stomach and feed that hunger. BONUS: They offer gluten bread as well!

Fractured Prune: Donuts! This place offers a variety of donuts with a twist.

Pretty much anywhere downtown has amazing options. It all comes down to what you are in the mood for. Next to Squid Ink! are various bars that offer great Happy Hours. The Palomar Hotel has a great outdoor pool and bar to enjoy as well!

2017 Rock’n’Roll Registration

HERE is the link to sign up for the 2017 Phoenix Rock’n’Roll. The pre-sale has closed however you can sign up to be notified once registration is opened.

WHAT ABOUT THE BLING??

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2016 Rock’n’Roll Series

Have you ever ran or thought about running a Rock’n’Roll Series race at one of their many destinations? Lucky for you I will be reviewing many of these races along with transportation, hotel, flights, food and race weekend. That you can decide to join in on the fun next year but also be prepared.

Thanks to my family who purchased me the 2016 Global Tour Pass which allows me to run any race at any of their multiple tour stops both nationally and internationally.

-Enjoy & ROCK ON-