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Monday, August 27, 2018

Army cruise

Last week, David and I had the opportunity to take an overnight cruise on the Army Corps tug, Mississippi. David works for the Corps, and this perk is opened to a few employees every few years. We jumped at the chance, and on Friday I got off work early and walked over to meet David at his office (we live just five blocks from his workplace, and yes, I'm jealous of his commute). About thirty people were on this cruise, and David knew about half. We took a charter bus to Morgan City, where we boarded the tug.
 The Motor Vehicle Mississippi is the largest tug in the world, and it sleeps 120!

We were shown to our cabin...

... then joined the rest of the passengers downstairs for a safety briefing. We spent a few minutes exploring the decks before the welcome social began. We boarded the vessel on the Achafalaya River, and I was enjoying the wildlife on the banks. Not only were the pelicans and herons plentiful, there were several alligators swimming out of the way of the boat! We finally went back in to get some food and wine. I was starving after a ten mile workout that morning, so I filled up on appetizers even though I knew dinner was coming in just a few minutes. I was pretty sure I could eat again. While we socialized, we left the Achafalaya River and entered the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Maneuvering the Bayou Boeuf locks
The GIWW is shipping channel designed for commercial barges to travel inland (from Texas to Florida). Some of it is manmade, while the rest is existing canals and bayous, dredged to a depth of 12 feet. Locks mark the entrances and exits to various waterways (we passed two on the trip, including the narrow Algiers lock as we entered the Mississippi River).

As you can see, the Algiers lock is a much tighter fit than the Bayou Boeuf lock!

Here are the lock gates opening

I had a chance to meet and converse with several of David's coworkers, including at dinner, which was delicious (my appetizers didn't diminish my enjoyment of dinner!). After dinner, we all went up to the pilot house, where we alternately sat under the stars and made the pilot's life miserable. I can't imagine he loves putting up with a boatload of tipsy brass and drunk underlings while trying to drive a boat. But it was beautiful up there at night, with a bright moon and stars.
In the pilot house
We were probably the first to bed, and the slow movement of the boat had me sleeping like a log! We woke up early enough to watch the approach to New Orleans. It's crazy that there are cows and alligators hanging out under the shadow of the skyline.

After breakfast the next day, we went back on deck to watch the locks open as we left the GIWW and headed downstream on the Mississippi.
The mighty Mississippi!

We did a short tour of the river, heading past the city before turning around and going back up to dock. It always amazes me how vast the Mississippi is: even the part where we could make a U-turn mid-river, amongst dozens of other craft, and not even be crowded, is incredible.

Under the GNO bridge

After we passed downtown New Orleans, we ate lunch as we neared the dock at the Corps facility by our house. This part of the trip was really neat, because I got to see The Fly, which is the part of Audubon park that runs along the river. It was so cool to see it from the other side!
Look closely and you can see my running path :)

Me on the other side of the Fly!
We docked about one pm, grabbed our luggage, and walked home - and that's how you do a 24-hour cruise. I was really impressed with the whole trip - first off all, that the Army Corps would offer it to employees; second, with the excellent food; third, that all the employees showed such pride in their work as we passed various Corps projects (like the Western Closure). Seeing the city from the river perspective was a rare treat, and I'm so glad we had the opportunity to enjoy that view. All in all, such a memorable weekend, and I feel lucky to be included!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Marathon Training: week 4

Well, I'm a little late here, but I think it's time for some weekly training recaps for my upcoming marathon. My team, the Power Milers, are running the Rocket City Marathon in early December, and training is underway. The first month was mostly base building, but we have increased our long run to 16 miles, so by now I think we can safely consider this actual training. I'm pretty excited, because our group coach assigns marathon goal paces for us to base our workouts off, and he gave me 6:52! That's so incredibly fast to me! But maybe I can pull of a 3:01 or under - I'd be thrilled. Step one is get to the starting line in one piece. Step two is excel at the workouts. If either of those seems in jeopardy, of course, I will modify that goal pace.

So this week was a little weird, because I was taking it easy for three reasons: one, I bonked hard at MILE FIVE, I repeat FIVE, of the long run last week, and therefore took the following week easy. And two, because I developed terrible plantar fasciitis. And lastly because we were traveling!

Monday: off to recover from failed run the day before.
Tuesday: I didn't do our group workout, opting for five easy instead. Still in bonk-recovery.
Wednesday: 6.5 easy.
Thursday: We had a cold-front with morning temperatures of just 79 F! I ran a totally enjoyable 9.5 on the levee.
Friday: I was supposed to skip this workout, too, but I forgot that I was on a recovery week and ran a little over ten miles. The workout was 4-5 miles at tempo effort with one minute jogs. I ran five at 6:39, 6:29, 6:35, 6:30, 6:36. Felt great, so I guess whatever had me down last week had faded away!
Saturday: I was on an overnight boat cruise, so no running for me. I could have run when we got home in the afternoon, but - I didn't.
Sunday: Long run. 16.2 miles at 7:36 pace, which went well despite very humid temperatures. I made sure I drank a ton of water and took some salt tabs this time, and although my plantar fasciitis bothered me later, I didn't feel it too much during the run.

Total miles: 48, not bad for a "down" week!

Monday, August 13, 2018

We've moved! Not far!

David and I were pretty settled in our uptown rental, half of a double that David called home for 16 years. I myself lived there for eleven, after David and I married. I loved my house, loved my neighborhood, and fully planned on buying the entire property from our landlady after her impending move.
But things change. The move was delayed several times, and meanwhile our needs changed. We realized that we needed a little more room, but not a lot: not the entire double we were living in (our roomy one bedroom was on one side, but the other side was a gigantic five bedroom!). We sort of wished we had more than one bathroom (neither side of the house did). And then when David was biking to work one day, he passed a house getting ready for a broker's open. It was on our very same street, and it was adorable. We went to the broker's open that night, put in an offer the next day, and accepted the counter offer and were under contract the next.

It's funny: our move took us just four blocks from our old home, but we're now on the other side of St. Charles Avenue, which now puts us in the Black Pearl. New Orleans neighborhoods are so small, so exclusionary! I can still walk to the same stores, but now I have to claim Black Pearl, had to buy a parking permit for my car, and - since I'm just the third house from St. Charles - can claim a little of that St. Charles cachet (this is a thing I didn't know about until now!).
Stop being so cute.

The house we bought is a little gem in a row of gems - four identical houses, in fact, known as The Four Sisters. It's a newer home for the area (c.1915), but has so much New Orleans charm. I love the wood floors, the quaint gardens, the vibrant colors, the eleven-foot ceilings, the ornate fireplaces, and the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The move itself was as easy as the buying process. I recruited some awesome friends and their trucks, and we moved our entire household in exactly two hours. Since then, we've enjoyed settling in, although we came to the realization that almost none of our furniture suits (most of it is dwarfed: our old ceilings were 9.5 feet; these are a foot and a half taller, and it's enough to make all of our art too small and our furniture too squat). We've met our neighbors. We've remembered to change our addresses, a surprisingly confusing process (WHY won't people accept that I moved to a new number on the same street?!). I'm comfortable here, and while I do miss my old home, too (it is a grand old charmer with a beauty all its own), I love this one, too. And I'm happy to own just a little piece of this city.