13.Wine? Definitely!

While perusing possible races for a trip to Michigan, I came across the 13.Wine Half Marathon. As someone who enjoys wine, the thought of earning this magnet made this race a strong contender for our Michigan race.

Having this magnet was a driving force behind choosing this race.

As I read about the route that traveled through vineyards and past wineries and the post-race event that included wine tasting, I was completely sold on the race. Further investigation revealed that the race benefited the Therapeutic Equestrian Center.  Being a therapist, the mother of two equestrian daughters, and the “mom” to our girls’ two ponies that live on our farm, I easily convinced Mike that this had to be the race we ran in Michigan.

After completing the Tour de La Porte 5K in Indiana we headed to Michigan…which was a mere 20 minutes away. Our first stop was in New Buffalo which is a lakeside resort town.  There are huge marinas with huge boats and a huge beach. The town was hopping!

Since we were starving and ready to celebrate our morning accomplishment finding a spot for lunch and a beer was our top priority.  The Stray Dog Bar and Grill looked inviting so we ventured in.

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Our waitress was attentive and solved my indecisiveness about which beer to order by bringing a few beers to taste before we made our selections.  Our choices ended up being perfect and we/I loved the glassware so much that we wandered over to the gift shop after lunch to purchase a few items to add to our collection.  Lunch was great, too.

The Stray Dog Bar and Grill

The Stray Dog Bar and Grill

The restaurant is adorned with scads of vintage and current photos of dogs and their owners.  They were everywhere!  We loved it!

After lunch we strolled towards the beach, past the vast marina that was teaming with a myriad of vessels heading to and returning from Lake Michigan.  After a brief photo op we decided to head toward our next destination of the day, The Lakeside Inn

Beach at New Buffalo

Beach at New Buffalo

 

The Lakeside Inn

The Lakeside Inn

The Lakeside Inn is a National and State of Michigan registered historic site. It is nestled among residential homes on a quiet, wooded road.  The inn was charmingly quaint without some modern conveniences- such as elevators.

Lakeside Inn lobby

Lakeside Inn lobby

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Lakeside Inn

Our room was quaint and sparse, but clean and spacious.

After settling in briefly, we drove to the “Party on the Pavers” in Baroda (where the race begins)  to pick up our packets and shirts.  The heat was still staggering but we ventured on.

Party of the Pavers

“Party on the Pavers”

The Party featured live music, food, and a multitude of wineries (and at least one brewery) offering samples of their beverages.  Sadly, we were in our self-imposed day-before-a-race-one-drink-limit mode so we regretfully left thirsty. We did, however, pick up our spiffy shirts, purchase my coveted magnet, and nab a bouquet of sunflowers that I couldn’t resist.  Despite the searing heat, this looked like an event that we could have happily immersed ourselves in.  But after slipping into a blissfully air conditioned corner market for a bottle of iced tea, we headed back to the inn.

We loved the burgandy (of course) shirts.

We loved the burgandy (of course) shirts.

 

The Lakeside Inn has a private beach on Lake Michigan just across the street (and down a long stairway) from the inn.

Mike heading to the beach.

Mike heading to the beach.

A long way down

A long way down

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Lakeside Inn’s  private beach on Lake Michigan

Being use to the Atlantic Ocean beaches in Maine, I sometimes forgot that we were beside a lake….a Great Lake, but still a lake.

 

The next morning we rose early and headed to Baroda for the 13.Wine Half Marathon.  It was cool and misty which, once again, was a welcome change from the heat of the previous day.   As we waited in the open field for the race to start we were greeted by several fellow runners who readily struck up a conversation with us.  The race began while it was still cool and misty-something that resulted in virtual unanimous gratitude from the racers.

The course started out down hill along a quiet country road.  In about a mile we turned and traveled up a moderate incline.  Once we turned at the top of that hill we were running beside fields and fields of grapes, corn, and soybeans dotted with peach and apple orchards.

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Note-these photos of the route were taken the day after the race when we retraced our steps with a camera and car.

Running through this scenery was enthralling and provided a welcome distraction as we contentedly ticked off the miles at a respectable pace.   We welcomed the diversion of a conversation with a fellow runner as we neared mile 9.  However, it was at about that point where I began to falter.  My ever gallant husband did not desert me but continued to encourage me as we traveled the last few miles.  We were able to finish within our goal time (which during the heat of the previous day we had temporarily adjusted to “just doing it”) and once again basked in the satisfaction of completing another race.

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The post race party included liberal wine and beer sampling in our classy glasses.

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Mike and I happily partook in the post-race wine tasting.

Mike and I happily partook in the post-race wine tasting.

The offerings were consistently delicious.  A woman who had run near us for most of the race introduced us out to her companion as “the couple that crossed the finish line holding hands”.  We explained why we were in Michigan and they, Ron and Lori, offered a myriad of top-notch suggestions for our upcoming, as yet unplanned, travels for the next two days.  We became so immersed in our conversation with them that we didn’t notice that most runners were departing.   On our way out I couldn’t resist hearing more about the Therapeutic Equestrian Center from a volunteer with the program. We left the 13.Wine Half Marathon bouyed by the fact we had just completed the race in our 18th state and knowing that our entry fees had supported a program that we were confident would make a significant impact on numerous people’s lives.

Now that the race was over, we were anxious to visit some of the wineries that we had run past.  After a quick shower and change back at the inn, we returned to Baroda for lunch at the Round Barn Public House. We savored our lunch and wine and beer with that incredibly satisfying post-race “high”.

The Round Barn Winery was our first winery stop.  There was some sort of festival in full swing when we arrived which only added to our celebratory state of mind.

Round Barn Winery (obviously)

Round Barn Winery (obviously)

 

We paid for a one person tasting which consisted of 5 samples.

We paid for a one person tasting which consisted of 6 samples.

This adorable wine glass is used for the tastings and is yours to keep.

This adorable wine glass was used for the tastings and was ours to keep.

Six 1 ounce samples following wine at lunch and a 13.1 mile run convinced me that there was no need for additional winery tours right away.  The thought of lounging on the beach sounded idyllic so we returned to the Lakeside Inn for reading, relaxing, and swimming.

Savoring the beach after our 13.Wine half marathon

 

We capped off our day with a delicious dinner at the Red Arrow Road House which was virtually around the corner from the Lakeside Inn.  The atmosphere was casual and lively-the perfect place to celebrate the completion of our 18th state race.

We take our duty to sample local beers seriously!

 

Look for more about our travels in Michigan in an upcoming post.

State: Michigan

Quest Race Number- 18

The Bottom Line: The 13.Wine Half Marathon was a fabulous race!  The course was idyllic -a tad hilly in a few spots but quiet, beautiful, and inspiring (keep running and there is wine at the finish line). The t-shirts, medals, and wine glasses were a welcome bonus. The race was impeccably organized and run.  The people we met were unfailingly outgoing and welcoming.  And…you can’t beat this really cool magnet.

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A week of runs

Experiencing the sights, sounds, and feelings of running outside is often equal to the enjoyment of the physical run.  Here are some images from our runs this week.

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Tuckaway Tree Farm

Tuckaway Tree Farm

I couldn’t seem to stop taking pictures of the early morning sun on the foliage.

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Autumn view

 

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The fleeting rays of a morning sky like this will always speed me out the door to catch these colors before they vanish.

Definitely worth getting up early for this.

 

I soaked up the sights and sensations on this misty morning run.

 

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 Mike was pretty tolerant of my frequent photo stops on our long run on Saturday. I used it as an opportunity to add in some interval work as I sprinted to catch up to him.

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No matter how many times I run past them, I always look forward to this part of our route.

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 The sight and sound of geese overhead thrills me every time.

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 These skies are such a gift.

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Although we love our local loop, traveling to Portsmouth to run to New Castle is a favorite alternate route.

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 Mike took a quick detour as I continued to stop to take photos.

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After our run in Portsmouth and Newcastle, Mike bought new shoes at Runner’s Alley.  This store in Portsmouth provides an outstanding selection of running shoes, apparel, and gear with an unfailingly enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. I wouldn’t shop anywhere else for my running needs.

Runner's Alley, Portsmouth, New Hampshire- Our favorite running store!

Runner’s Alley, Portsmouth, New Hampshire-
Our favorite running store!

As I write this post, the rain and wind outside are undoubtedly creating a different landscape for tomorrow’s run.  However, I find these changes to be one of the beauties of running in Maine.

Two for One

Tour de La Porte, La Porte, Indiana

Living in New England has allowed access to a number of states that were a reasonable drive from home.  However, now that those states have been checked off, a flight is generally necessary to reach our destination.

This summer it was decided that we would travel to Michigan for some R & R (running and relaxation).  Our new goal is to attempt to incorporate more than one state into our trips, if possible.  Incredibly, we located a race in Indiana that would be directly on our route as we drove from Chicago to our race in Michigan and it was the day before our half marathon in Michigan.

The Running in the USA website has become our absolute go-to resource when we are looking for races. You just click on the state you are interested in and then choose the month you want to run.  They list multiple races, generally with race website links.  We love that when you click on the city that the race is in a map is provided and there is a “get directions” section right there so you can easily plot out distances.

The Tour de La Porte  is a 3 day event that included a trail run, half marathon, 10K, and a 5K, as well as various cycling events. The race supports those with cancer in the community through the La Porte Hospital Foundation. We signed up for the 5K race since we were running a half marathon the next day in Michigan. There is a special award to people who compete in events on all three days.

We flew into Chicago and then headed to La Porte.  Neither of us had been to Indiana so we chose the more scenic route that traveled near Lake Michigan.  We were intrigued by the signs for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and pulled into a parking area.  Although we enjoyed our stroll along the wooded paths we were puzzled that we didn’t encounter what we would call a dune.   But based on literature for the park  if we had ventured closer to the lake we would undoubtedly have seen more traditional dunes.

Mike walking in the dune state park.

Mike walking on a path at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

 

 

I was enthralled by the wildflowers which were unlike the ones I was familiar with in Maine.

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 The room we had booked at the Best Western in La Porte was clean and comfortable and the staff was friendly and accommodating.  The best part, however, was that it was less than a half mile walk to Soldier Memorial Park where the race events were based.  Picking up our race packets and t-shirts late Friday afternoon was a breeze.  We drove the course to get an idea of what we would encounter the next day and then did a little exploring of LaPorte.

Great t-shirt  (Photo by Hannah Knight)

Great t-shirt
(Photo by Hannah Knight)

We scoped out T-Bones Pier as a possibility for dinner. It’s waterfront location on Pine Lake was appealing and the menu looked appetizing.  It was empty when we walked through during the afternoon but we were assured they would be open for dinner.  When we returned a few hours later, dinner was in full swing and the only available seats were on the deck beside the lake.  It was VERY warm outside and while I notoriously petition to sit outside whenever possible, Mike often votes for the admittedly more reasonable choice of air conditioned comfort.  He (reluctantly) agreed to sit outside at a table that we were assured had an umbrella.  Unfortunately, the angle of the sun was below the umbrella resulting in a scorchingly hot meal.  Our server was prompt and attentive and made sure we were well supplied with water and ice. The dinners were tasty and the view was pleasant, but I had to admit the heat did diminish the enjoyment of the evening.

View from the deck

View from the deck

 

The next morning was cool and misty which was a welcome change from the intense heat of the day before. We strolled to the start of the race at Soldiers Memorial Park and had sufficient time to warm up, find bathrooms with no waiting lines in a nearby bath house (!), and enjoy the view of the mist rising off the lake with a lone fisherman in his boat emerging from the fog.

Cool morning mist rising from Stone Lake near the start of the 5K.

Cool morning mist rising from Stone Lake near the start of the 5K.

Our 5K race started promptly following earlier starts of the other races.  The mist had burned off by the time we were running and the hot, humid conditions returned.  The course was scenic and often shady with only a few small hills so we felt wonderful during the race.  Feeling wonderful was particularly terrific for me because the week leading up to the race I had experienced a sudden, acute hip and lower back pain that was significantly impeding my running.  Thankfully, following a treatment by Tom of Family Acupuncture Center of Kennebunk, Maine and a fabulous massage from my amazing friend and massage therapist, Janice, I ran virtually pain free.

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Portions of the 5K course ran beside Stone Lake.

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We crossed the finish line hand in hand feeling strong and pleased with our run.  The post-race refreshments were plentiful and we enjoyed stretching and relaxing by the lake as we awaited the awards ceremony.  As we took a few photos we chatted with a number of fellow runners.  Everyone we encountered was exceptionally welcoming and friendly, really going out of their way to chat and interact.

Celebrating the completion of the Tour de La Porte 5K

Celebrating the completion of the Tour de La Porte 5K

I was thrilled to place 3rd in my age group.  Mike so kindly likes to suggest that I can do this in races where the “good runners” compete in the accompanying half marathon. Regardless, I was happy with my time and my medal!

My age-group medal. (Photo by Hannah Knight)

My age-group medal.
(Photo by Hannah Knight)

Date Run: August 22, 2014

Quest Race Number 17

The Bottom Line:  We loved the welcoming people, the scenic course,the spiffy t-shirt, (my cool medal!) and the overall organization and feel of this event! What started off as a plan to conveniently check Indiana off our list turned into an exceptionally enjoyable race. We highly recommend this race and if we were in Indiana again we would certainly sign-up again.

It All Started in Philly

The scenic, flat route that took us down Ben Franklin Parkway, past the Philadelphia Museum of ArtBoat House Row, and along Kelly Drive soon became a welcome part of our visits to Philly.  Since both of our daughters were attending college in Philadelphia we were making relatively frequent trips to the city from our home in Maine. So when we learned that the Philadelphia Marathon course traveled along routes we were already familiar with, we decided to sign up.

Mike chose the half marathon and I decided to train for my first marathon.  On race day we joined the crush of thousands of other runners lining up in the corrals in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  While waiting to hit the course, Mike overheard another runner talking about attempting to run a race in every state. Although we had been running and racing for years, this race in Philadelphia was the first race we had done outside of New England.  After the race, Mike broached the idea with me and  we agreed we loved the thought of making this a goal.  And besides, we had just checked Pennsylvania off the list!  Thus began our (literal) journey to run a road race in every state.

We began this adventure in November 2010 and as of today we have run in 18 states.   This quest has brought us to places that we would most likely never have visited.  But it has offered us an opportunity to participate in a myriad of new experiences.  The people we have met have been enthusiastic and welcoming.   Trying the local food and drink has become a significant part of our travels.  Our races have allowed us to run beside Great Lakes, along palm tree-lined bays, through vineyards, past historic sites, to the Atlantic Ocean and so much more.  Beside the enjoyment that we derive from this quest, we have been pleased to feel that our entry fees are supporting many wonderful causes.

This blog will chronicle races that we have run already and will include our thoughts about the course, race swag, highlights, tips about local activities, restaurants, lodging, and more. There will be periodic posts about our day-to-day runs and thoughts and reminiscences about past runs that haven’t been designated “check-off-a-state” runs.  And of course as we add another state to our list we will chronicle that adventure.

 We are enjoying this quest so much that we thought we’d share our experiences and perhaps inspire others to give it a try on whatever scale seems right.  Our philosophy about running is that it’s all about the journey.  Thanks for reading this far.  We hope you will continue to follow us.