June- “Try Something New for 30 Days”

You may have noticed that I am (finally) writing about my June “Try Something New for 30 Days” as August is (sadly) winding down.

When I designated June as my month to try new physical activities, the timing seemed perfect. Summer was emerging and I planned on having lots of time to engage in these exciting activities.  Hannah and I brainstormed an optimistic list of possible experiences from routine running to more adventurous paddle boarding.

IMG_5217

June 1st I was ready!  I found a terrific yoga for runners video on the Runner’s World website and jumped right in. I was surprised that the poses felt relatively easy (i.e. I could do them) and I immediately knew the stretches I got from the session would be incredbly beneficial to my running.

Next day, I did an online Pilates routine.

IMG_4709

Although this really wasn’t new it was different from running. I have been using Pilates for strength training for over a year, particularly during the winter on days when it was difficult to get outside.  I had been amazed with how toned and strong I felt during the time when I was doing Pilates almost daily.  However, recently I had done very little so it felt good to be doing this type of activity again.

I did a little weight work out-literally.

IMG_4970

Then I began to venture into truly new activities. I googled hula hoop videos and gave that a whirl (pun intended).

IMG_4758

Ditto for a barre workout. I loved it!

IMG_4978

Some of the activities I did with others, including basketball,

basketball

darts,

dart board

croquet,

IMG_4799

and mini golf.

 mini gof course

Mike is very serious about his mini golf.

mini golf mike

We even upgraded to real golf-well, the driving range.

golf balls

I was happy that some of the tips my dad had given me when I was a teenager had stayed with me and I even hit a few good shots.

As June ended I continued to be hopeful that I would check a few more activities off of my list.  I did get to add boogie boarding when we tried it on our vacation in the Outer Banks.

obx beach

However, summer has whizzed by, as it always does and I still have many activities on my list that do not have a check by them.  While I am sad that the summer is evaporating, the list will remain on my fridge and I look forward to continuing to check off more and more new activities as time goes by. And I know that I will also be incorporating a number of the activities I tried in June into more of my everyday life.

Outer Banks, North Carolina.

After we reserved a house on the Outer Banks for our extended family’s week-long vacation, we began our search for a race that would allow us to check North Carolina off of our quest list. The Nag’s Head Village 5K, which occurs weekly during the summer, is run on a Thursday which fit in perfectly to our Saturday to Saturday vacation schedule.

This race is one of several that Outer Banks Runcations runs weekly during the summer. Their open walk-up registration works great for vacationers who decide to run spur of the moment or aren’t ready to commit to a race ahead of time. Amelia and Matt joined us and signed up for the race, too. Everyone that runs gets a t-shirt, medal, and a “gift”.  Our gift was a “Run OBX” Runcations sticker.

The course, which is virtually flat, traveled through a lovely, quiet neighborhood that borders a golf course.  It was an out and back route which gave us a chance to cheer for Matt and Amelia as they looped back to the finish line more than 5 minutes ahead of us.

nag's head on course number 2

We were happy with our pace and our final time.  I was also pleased to find a decent race photo of me from the professional photographer who was on the course and at the finish.  While Mike almost always looks terrific, phrases such as “crippled spider” come to mind when I look at most of my images.

nag's head on course

As we crossed the finish line we received a hefty medal, a bottle of water, and (at that moment) the best post-race perk I could imagine…a cold, wet towel that we got to keep (our second “gift”).

The awards ceremony was brief since they only announced the first place male and female finishers.  However, we had each received an email before we got back to the house with not only our time and pace, but the weather, including temperature (75 degrees), wind (5 mph) and humidity (78%) and our overall and age group place and percentile. Amelia was first in her age group which was terrific but sadly not acknowledged beyond our family.

IMG_5296

nag's head finish line

Being able to run a race in North Carolina to check off our 21st state in our quest was great.  But we also really enjoyed our other runs that week. Ending a run with views like these was wonderful.

IMG_5239

IMG_5243Besides running, the week was filled with lots of time at the beach where we marveled at being in the water and not having our extremities immediately go numb as they do when we dare to venture into our frigid Maine waters.

obx beach

Here are a few images of the rest of the week.IMG_5304

IMG_5278

IMG_5325

.IMG_5259

IMG_5341

crab

IMG_5320

IMG_3009

While the actual race was fun and satisfying, having our family with us on this most recent venture truly made our time in North Carolina much more cherished than our t-shirt, medal, or knowing that we had completed a race in our twenty-first state. As we’ve traveled to the 21 states that we have run in so far, we have realized that it’s actually the entire journey, not just the race, that we savor the most.

State: North Carolina

Date Run: August 13, 2015

Quest Race #: 21

The Bottom Line: The Nag’s Head 5K was a convenient, well-organized race with nice swag that was a fun addition to our fabulous week on the Outer Banks.

Do you run or race on vacation?

What was your best post-race perk?

Volunteering at the Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race

After we decided we wouldn’t try to sign up for the Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race this year, we realized we could still be a part of this incredible event by volunteering.  We have been involved in developing and organizing several small, local road races but we had never volunteered for a race of this magnitude.

We signed up to help at the mile 5 water stop. Having run this race, we remembered how crucial this water stop is.  As the weeks went by, we became more excited about our volunteering adventure. We received emails asking us for our shirt sizes, providing us with general information, and keeping us updated about our duties.

When our invitations to the Volunteer Appreciation Party arrived we were completely surprised.b2b inviteWho knew volunteers got a party?

It was a beautiful, balmy night when we arrived at the stunning ocean-front location for the party. As we walked up to the tent we marveled at how impressively the Beach to Beacon organizers were treating its volunteers.
IMG_5145

We were served drinks and then strolled to the beach to enjoy the view while great live music wafted from the tent.

IMG_5149

IMG_5148

We returned to the tent to mingle before dinner.  The first person we spoke to told us that the mile 5 water stop is the best one. How exciting! Everyone that we chatted with was incredibly welcoming and cordial.  We later commented that we shouldn’t have been surprised about that because we were dealing with runners and volunteers-two groups of people that I believe are particularly pleasant.

As we waited in line for the buffet dinner, we were thrilled to have Joan Benoit Samuelson, the founder of the race and the gold medal winner of the first women’s Olympic marathon, stop by to thank us for volunteering.  She was gracious and unpretentious. Having a chance to meet this incredible woman who is a true icon in the sports world and beyond was an immense honor and the highlight of an already terrific night for us.

IMG_5147

During the evening we heard from Dave McGillivray, the director of the Beach to Beacon, as well as the Boston Marathon.  The beneficiary of this year’s Beach to Beacon is the Good Shepherd Food Bank.  Their director spoke to us about the incredibly important work that they are doing, including providing food to children during weekends and holidays when they don’t have access to school meals. This made us more excited about being a part of this phenomenal event.

There was an extensive raffle that included coveted Beach to Beacon beach towels, Fitbits, signed Boston Celtics items, Boston Marathon shirts, and much more.  Although we didn’t win a raffle item, everyone was given a nifty B2B 10K car magnet which made us happy.

IMG_5151We left the evening dazzled by the level of indulgence that the Beach to Beacon organizers bestow on their volunteers.  We had no idea that any of these perks came with the volunteer job.

On race day we arrived at the designated spot to begin volunteering at the famous mile 5 water stop.

IMG_5189

We were met by Connie who has hosted the mile 5 water stop with her husband, Dick, at their home for the 18 years that this race has been run.  She gave us our cool technical style volunteer t-shirts, credentials to wear around our neck, and a bonus Dunkin Donut gift card that we received because we had signed up early.

IMG_5181

Connie and Dick were warm and welcoming.  Everything was calmly organized and there was a lively sense of pride and enthusiasm among the volunteers. We all enjoyed the pot luck breakfast which is a Mile 5 tradition. It was a great opportunity to speak with the other volunteers before the excitement of the race began.

It was calm and quiet on the course early in the morning.

IMG_5182We began to set up the cups and filled them with water.

IMG_5184

IMG_5186

Here’s Mike hard at work (in the white hat).

IMG_5185

One more layer to go!

IMG_5188

We had 4 large tables stacked with 3 layers of filled cups!

b2b 3 layr cups

Everyone seamlessly found a job and worked together to accomplish this in no time at all.

Then the waiting began.  The wheelchair participants came by first followed by 90 year old, Dottie Gray, the oldest finisher of the race.

b2b dottie gray

We could tell the front-runners were coming as the cheers and cowbells down the road became intense.

Stephen Kosgei Kibet of Kenya was the leader at the 5 mile mark and ended up winning the entire race. It was fabulous to be able to witness the elite runners in action just feet from us. In the past, our only glimpse of these world-class runners had been on stage at the awards ceremony.

b2b winner

Within a few minutes there was a steady stream of runners zooming by.  We were a bit stunned by the intensity and speed with which they snatched a cup without the hint of slowing down.

Soon the course was packed with runners who were running at impressive paces.  These runners mostly dashed by with their eyes straight ahead.  A few nabbed a cup and sped off.  But shortly, the number of runners increased notably while their pace became slower.

IMG_5197

IMG_5198These were the runners that were more familiar to me.  They are the ones that surround me when I run.  Their pace is slow enough that they can easily grab the cup.  They attempt to put their empty cups in the trash. They may even take a brief walking break while they drink their water.  They said, “thank you” and seemed especially appreciative (although sometimes confused) when we called out their names and some encouragement.  Every bib number has the runner’s name printed in big letters so that it’s easy to yell out specific encouragement.  I know I was at mile 5 the last time I ran the race when I heard someone call my name.  I looked up, stunned, to see who knew me.  It was just a kind stranger who had read my name and yelled out to give me a boost.

Soon, the flow of runners had dwindled to more of a trickle but the shouts of encouragement stayed strong.  Some of these runners were struggling but they were doing it.  Step by step they were getting closer and closer to crossing the finish line of the Beach to Beacon.

There was now time to begin the clean up of the hundreds of cups that made the road look like it had snowed, as one volunteer observed. Again, everyone just pitched in and the course was cup-free in an astonishingly short time.

Before we knew it, we were having a group photo taken and everyone was heading their separate ways.  Mike and I absolutely agree that the mile 5 water stop is unquestionably the best!  The warm welcome we were given as newcomers and the excitement of seeing the runners of all levels “up close and personal” was terrific. We were stunned by the extraordinary gratitude that the organizers and participants showed the volunteers. We loved having the chance to give back a little after being on the receiving end of countless volunteers’ efforts. The entire experience, set to an incredible soundtrack that played throughout the day, made this a fabulous event that we can’t wait to repeat next year!

b2b tees

Have you volunteered at a race?

What was your favorite part?