For about 20 years, I grew up in Southern California and never fully appreciated the vast hiking trails, sunny weather and never owning a rain jacket. I went to undergrad only two hours away too. I applied on a whim to a few graduate schools and got an acceptance into one in New Orleans. Given I never traveled farther east than Nevada, I drove about 2000 miles to a place I’ve never been with my Honda Accord packed up with 25 years of my life.
It took about four days and 28 hours to drive across the country to the Big Eazy. The biggest difference between Southern California and New Orleans is…. everything. New Orleans is a flooded swamp nonetheless and the first month being here, the city experienced one of the worst floods causing the shutdown of the city. It’s a city where things do move at a slower pace. Where drinking on the street is legal and theres a festival for every holiday and Saints game; there is also car eating potholes and boil advisories for unsafe tap water. It took awhile to find my niche but instead of hiking and relaxing at the beach on weekends, New Orleans promotes Jazz fest, food festivals, and every moment to drink outside festivals.
I’ve discovered the reason why people move at such a slower pace is due to this heat and humidity. It doesn’t agree with any runner or athlete being outside. I give anyone that has lived in humidity the utmost respect. While nice days are a rare occurrence from April through September, there are many fellow runners that will never miss a day. Even when there is heat advisories of 100+ degrees and 60% humidity, I see the same runners out on the paved city park trails. These are the runners that motivate me to keep on going even if my sweat isn’t evaporating like it should.
Running has always been a passion of mine but never got into it until undergrad. This is probably because I tend to internalize my stress and issues in life. I ran my first marathon and was lucky enough to train in San Luis Obispo where passing vineyards and horses were normal. The biggest greenery in New Orleans (besides the swamp) is an area that connects Bayou St. John and City Park. City Park is about three miles long and a mile wide. As a runner in this city, this is by far best and only spot to run without feeling like a hamster or being on a track.
I’ve changed some habits on running in attempt to acclimatize to the community. One I might say is only run before 8am, stay on a safe runners trail, and plan routes around water fountains. I will go into more experiences on safe running practices later living in a high crime city later. But for now, I must say that running when it is over 90 degrees is a pain, moving to New Orleans has opened my eyes into a different and relaxing new pace.
-Running, much cheaper than therapy