A Great Little Race for A Really Big Cause-Hope 4 Hunter “Capes 4 A Cure” 5K, West Virginia

We began our search for a West Virginia race when we realized we could visit Amelia and Matt in Pittsburgh and easily make a side trip to West Virginia.  After perusing the  Running in the USA, website, our go-to website for finding races, we settled on the “Capes 4 a Cure” 5K presented by Hope 4 Hunter.  The website encouraged participants to dress as our favorite super hero or villain and wear a cape. They even mentioned that there was a prize for the most creative cape.  Challenge accepted!  We began plotting our super hero identities and costumes.  After a few ideas were canned, we settled on “Flower Power Girl” for me (Hannah’s brilliant idea) and “Fix-It Man” for Mike.  I excitedly started sketching.

IMG_5013

I worked hard to really depict the look I was going for.

I showed my sketch to Hannah and in less than 3 minutes she had created this rendering.

IMG_5012

It captured my idea with a million times more flair and accuracy! I guess that’s what happens when a professional fashion designer does the sketch. After a trip to our local fabric shop, complete with Hannah taking a test run down an aisle with a bolt of fabric unfurled behind her to check for an adequate flying effect, we had our supplies.  We spent a few evenings working on our costumes. Although he didn’t appear to be really into this task, the next thing I knew Mike had cut tools out of duct tape (of course) and taped them to his cape.

IMG_4878

IMG_4877

Hannah stepped in and sewed, painted, and created my costume.

IMG_4876

We flew to Pittsburgh, checked into our hotel, and strolled around the area near our hotel before preparing our outfits for the next morning’s run.  Mike sketched some hardware and his super hero identity on his t-shirt and I laid out my ensemble. Mike’s cape hung importantly in the closet. This was definitely the most unique night before a race prep we had ever done.  What a blast!

IMG_4917

The next morning we drove through the misty hills to West Virginia.

IMG_4924

IMG_4926

We easily located the start of the race at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater in Morgantown, West Virginia and encountered a runner’s dream come true! There was ample free parking at the event and real bathrooms directly across from our parking spot….with no lines! The amphitheater is right on the river. We could see volunteers setting up and quite a few purple Hope 4 Hunter capes.  However, we didn’t notice any other runners wearing super hero outfits or capes.  Undaunted, we picked up our numbers and packets and returned to the car to transform ourselves into our super hero characters.  We even had enough time to pose for a few pictures prior to the race.

IMG_4928

IMG_4929

IMG_4931

The starting line of this race was truly the most charming we have ever seen.

IMG_4932

There was a heart-felt thank you to the runners from the person who started the race and then we were off.  Mike and I are NEVER at the front of the race but since this was a small race, there we were!  The course traveled on a wonderful paved path beside the river and it was (thankfully) totally flat!  The light mist turned to a true rain by the time we crossed the finish line but it felt wonderful.

We chatted with fellow participants and volunteers while we waited for the awards ceremony. Mike ended up winning a generous gift certificate to Mountain State Brewery, as a door prize. We won first and second place in our age group.  Full disclosure-we were the ONLY ones in our age group!  And we were honored that Mike’s cape won first prize and mine won second prize in the costume competition. However, the true highlight of the event was having our picture taken with Hunter.

IMG_4941

While we originally chose this race because it was convenient and sounded like a blast, our focus quickly centered on the very meaningful cause it supported.  The majority of the races that we run benefit some worthy organization.  However, we have never had the privilege of personally meeting an individual so directly involved in the cause.

Mike and I are so pleased that our modest entry fees for our 20th quest race will go towards helping this adorable purple-clad super hero and others affected by MPSII. I know we will make decisions about future races with this perspective in mind.

Quest Race #: 20

State: West Virginia

Date Run: June 20, 2015

The Bottom Line: This was an exceptionally well organized race on a beautiful, river-side path. The facilities were terrific and the swag included a t-shirt, water bottle, and a Hope 4 Hunter bracelet. The prizes were generous, the volunteers were friendly, and the after-race food was plentiful. We would strongly encourage participation in this race next year.  But if you can’t run this race, please consider a similar small race that benefits a truly important cause. The Hope 4 Hunter Face Book page posted a video of this event that captures the wonderful feel of this terrific event.

Market Square Day 10K

Although the majority of the races we sign up for these days are in a new state, when Mike suggested we run the Market Square Day 10K again in nearby Portsmouth, NH, we decided it would be a good training run at a festive event.

IMG_4837

The morning of the race was sunny with comfortable temperatures. After a light breakfast on the porch we headed to Portsmouth.

Market Square makes a picturesque starting line.

IMG_4843

IMG_4844

Just under 2,000 runners finished this year’s race which travels through downtown Portsmouth and quiet neighborhoods. Enthusiastic spectators offered encouragement and welcome mistings from garden hoses along the course.

IMG_4846

The race finishes at historic Strawbery Banke Museum.  Mike and I were happy with our pace and loved the festive feel to the race. Todd and Hannah were at the finish and obligingly took our post-race photo.

IMG_4848

We celebrated at our favorite after-run breakfast place, The Friendly Toast and then ventured into the throes of Market Square Day.

IMG_4849

River Run Book Store offered people passing by an opportunity to win a prize if they could type a sentence correctly on this typewriter. There was no time limit and since I have had lots of practice with this type of machine (i.e. these were the norm in my childhood), I did it!

IMG_4852

I took my ticket to the book store to claim my prize.

IMG_4851

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my prize was this wonderful book, Wine and Dine in New Hampshire by Carla Snow.

IMG_4883

We continued meandering down the row of vendors until my attention was caught by the Portsmouth Harbor Cruises booth. As I stood there holding my book, one of the women at the booth exclaimed, “That’s my book!”. She was the author of the book I had just won!  We chatted about the cruises offered by her company and she signed my book.  How serendipitous was that?

IMG_4885

We spent some more time leisurely soaking up the music, atmosphere, and fun of Market Square Day.

IMG_4854

We love our traveling adventures but we remembered how nice it is to run in our local races and embrace the familiar events of home.

Do you have a favorite race or local event?  Would you rather try something new or stick with the familiar?

May-Try Something New

My “Try Something New for 30 Days” choice for the month of May was not as tasty as January,  as exciting as February, as creative as March, or as emotional as April.  Although this was not my original intent, it ended up being a month of living by catch phrases.

When I began this plan in January I resisted the idea of using this goal for self-improvement (although there were a myriad of very possible options if I had taken that route).  I wanted to expand my horizons, not just fix what was lacking. But by May, my desire to try to “raise the bar” in the way I was living my life became strong enough that it was time to tackle this new challenge.  Initially, I mentally imagined it as a month of being perfect.  Not perfect perfect, but just better.  Here is where the catch phrases entered the picture.

Just do it” became my mantra.  Just pick up the clutter.  Just vacuum the floor.  Just fold the laundry. Just do preparations for tomorrow morning -right now.  I am an experienced procrastinator, so trying this new strategy was a significant change.  And I liked it!

Being There” is one of our favorite Peter Sellers movies.  It is a bit of an obscure movie but we love it. This phrase helped me remain focused in the present.  I tried to “be there” more with less being everywhere.  No more checking my phone as I waited in line.  Eliminate multi-tasking and just be there, experience the moment, observe my surroundings.  It was liberating.

“Let it go also entered my month-long endeavor but not in the way the popular song (sung by every 4 year old girl I know) urges. My version was more like “Don’t let it go”.  Tumbleweeds of St. Bernard fur wafting across the  floor – don’t let it go. A glass on the counter-Don’t let it go. A phone call to return?  A letter to mail? –Don’t let it go.

Someone suggested  this plan sounded exhausting when I mentioned my proposed idea for May. It did take more effort and energy but I truly found that  I liked how it made me feel.  I was more content when I glanced around my surroundings when I didn’t find small points of irritation.  It took more work but the reward was worth it. I’m sure that for many people this idea is not revolutionary because they are already living life in this manner. But for me, expanding my expectations to create a life that felt more organized, less cluttered, and more present felt…perfect.

 

 

I Stop Hogging the Blog (Connecticut- Fairfield Road Races)

This post will have a slightly different format because I am letting Mike join in with the blog post-or as he may say “forcing him” to be apart of it.  Since this quest was originally his idea, it seems only fair that his point of view be included periodically, as well.

Karen: Early on in our quest to run a road race in every state, we arranged to spend a weekend in Connecticut to run the Fairfield Road Race.  I believe we chose it because it was a convenient weekend and it sounded like a good race.

Mike: We decided to do the 5K. We were pleased to find that Fairfield was an attractive beach area that was not overdeveloped.

008

Karen: There was a half marathon associated with this event which was run the day after the 5K.

Mike: The race was well organized and the flat course helped everyone’s running times.

Karen: Bag pipers played at the start and finish of the race which added a festive air.

Mike: The post race social with free beer at the beach was enjoyable.  We chose to take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic after the race.

011

Karen: We loved being right on the beach at the end of the race. Later in the day we ventured to Silver Sands State Park which had another scenic beach that we arrived at after a stroll down a long boardwalk.

That evening we traveled through picturesque New England towns to Branford where we found Lenny’s -the apparent hot spot of the town.

017

We opted for a table on the deck and savored the views of the marsh while we ate our seafood dinner.

014

018

Mike says he doesn’t remember exactly which beer he was drinking.  He’s pretty sure it was a local beer and he’s positive it wasn’t a Bud.  Sampling local beers when we travel to new states has become a little side-bar to our running quest.  (The pun was unintentional but acknowledged!)

015

Karen: On our way back to our hotel we stopped for an impromptu game of mini golf at the impressive Sports Center in Shelton.  Our trip to check Connecticut off of our quest list ended up being a fun mini-vacation with a terrific race.

Quest Race #: 9

State: Connecticut

Date Run: 6/23/12

The  Bottom Line:  Registration for the 5K (June 27, 2015) and the half marathon (June 28, 2015) is still open as of today.  The race website states that it is “annually chosen by running magazines as one of the best races in America”. We would definitely recommend it, as well!