Vermont-Maple Leaf Half Marathon and Kotler 5K

Considering that my sister, Kate, lives in Vermont and that it is an easy three hour drive from our home in Maine, it was surprising that we didn’t run a race in Vermont until three years into our quest.  However, we eventually chose the Kotler 5K which is part of the Maple Leaf Half Marathon event.  Running in Vermont gave us the chance to visit with Kate at her spacious country home in the quiet village of Windham.

Because her home is just a few doors down from the town church which has the distinction of being the church situated at the highest elevation in Vermont, running from her home offers a wicked hill workout.

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The view from her home across to the mountains is gorgeous.

On the day of the race, we made the scenic half hour drive to Manchester, where the race took place. It is a terrific Vermont town that offers a multitude of restaurants and shops in a stunning valley setting surrounded by the dramatic Green Mountains

We arrived at the Dana Thompson Recreational Park in Manchester where the race began and enjoyed the lovely amenity of ample on-site parking.  As we waited to begin the race, a young trumpeter played the national anthem which provided a truly moving send-off. Our 5K course went through the town and down pleasant residential side roads. At one point, a string trio serenaded us at the side of the road. Near the end of the course we ran on a gravel path through the woods.  As we approached a small wooden bridge we could hear the familiar notes of “Anchors Away” wafting towards us.  Crossing the bridge, we spotted the trumpeter from the start tucked down beside the stream  It was such a fun surprise at the end of our course.  We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand back at the recreational park and were surprised to be presented with this gorgeous pressed-glass medal that was crafted by a local artisan.

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We hadn’t anticipated a medal for completing a 5K and we certainly had not expected the bonus of this exquisite craftsmanship.  At the awards ceremony, winners received slate squares and age group winners were given wooden cutting boards.  (I was 4th in my group…so close!)

As we waited for the half marathon runners to come in we enjoyed an extensive spread of yummy food including cheddar cheese, fruit, made-to-order sandwiches, bagels and assorted spreads, and more. It was truly a scrumptious after-race “buffet”. Instead of a t-shirt we received a spiffy nylon backpack that we have since used multiple times.  We decided to treat ourselves to matching hats, as well.

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Because Kate was still busy selling her famous focaccia at the West River Farmers’ Market that morning we stopped at this adorable bistro in Manchester for coffee before meeting her.

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We were able to make it back to Londonderry to the farmers’ market before it was over. It’s a superb market situated along the West River offering a multitude of food and craft vendors.  Live music and a convivial vibe create a fun and festive atmosphere.

When we met Kate, we couldn’t stop exclaiming over how much we had enjoyed our race. The course, swag, and refreshments were awesome.  It is one of our favorite races and we would highly recommend it.  The chance to spend the weekend with Kate was a huge added bonus.  It is possible for others to enjoy that perk, as well, because Kate is now offering rooms through Airbnb at Windham Maples. Her guests have raved about their stays and although we may be a tad bit biased, we wholeheartedly agree.

katie's deck

We love sitting on the back deck which overlooks a small ravine.

If you are a runner, we would encourage you to consider adding the 38th Maple Leaf Half Marathon or Kotler 5K to your race calendar on Saturday, September 10, 2016. This year the race is partnering with Make-A Wish.  As of this writing, the half marathon registration is a very reasonable $55.00 and the 5K is $25.

Whether or not running a race is on your calendar, if you are looking for a wonderful Vermont get-away, we’d suggest you consider a trip to Windham Maples.

katie treesThe foliage in the fall is spectacular.  In the winter there are major ski areas close by as well as lovely quiet cross country ski trails just around the corner from Kate’s home. Venturing to Vermont in the late winter and spring offers an opportunity to experience maple sugaring. Kate’s trees are tapped by a local sugarer. And of course, summer in Vermont is fabulous and will allow you to add in a trip to the West River Farmer’s Market, as well.  No matter when or why you go, it’s sure to be a treat.
State: Vermont

Date Run: 9/7/13

Quest Race #: 14

The Bottom Line: If you are looking for a terrific fall half marathon or 5K or even just a lovely destination for a weekend trip, we highly recommend venturing to Vermont.  The race was well organized, offered wonderful perks, and was held in a beautiful location. If you want to be guaranteed top-notch hospitality, I can also personally recommend staying at Windham Maples.  A post-race trip into Manchester followed by a visit to the West River Farmers’Market will round out your weekend experience

Women's Running Community

 

 

South Carolina-Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon

Because we started our blog several years after we began our quest to run a race in every state, I have been adding posts about these earlier races periodically. Now that winter has truly arrived in Maine, I am happy to think back to our lovely visit to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  This was the first race that we chose specifically to begin to visit new states and we loved the experience.

The Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon was a fun, flat half marathon that finished along the beach. Information about the 2016 race indicates that the course now includes 5 miles of ocean-front running.  When we ran, the finish was along a winding boardwalk beside the ocean. Music and libations at the after-party made made it a festive finish.  Being able to stroll right down to the beach afterward was a bonus.

The race is known for its surfboard-themed medals.  Ours is also a hefty bottle opener.

myrtle beach medal

 

Since that early race we’ve been fortunate to travel to seventeen additional states.  Each trip has offered us unique running experiences, unexpected adventures, and an opportunity to meet many fabulous people.  As our quest continues we look forward to the next steps in our journey.

State: South Carolina

Quest Race #: 5

Date Run: October 23, 2011

The Bottom Line: This race offered a chance to do a fun half marathon in a vacation destination.  We welcomed having one more opportunity to soak up some warm sun in late October and to truly launch our quest to run a race in every state.

(Trying to) Try Something New for 30 Days

My year of trying something new for 30 days is coming to an end. Here is a recap of the final months.

I had designated August as the month when I would read for an hour a day. I love to read but I was seldom allowing myself the luxury of just sitting down with a good book.  When I chose August for this goal I figured it would be a breeze because we were going on vacation.  IMG_5240

We rented a house and spent a fabulous week with extended family on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  However, we filled the days with everything but reading. It was perfect…but I hadn’t read for an hour a day.

So September was designated as my reading month. But…this didn’t transpire either.

In October, Hannah had been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and suggested that I read it, too.  Having just failed at two months’ attempts to read an hour a day, I opted for the audio version and was soon completely enthralled. I listened to it while driving, folding laundry, painting the garage, etc.  Marie Kondo’s underlying philosophy is that if an item doesn’t “spark joy in your heart” you should not keep it.  Of course, she goes into much more detail and has a systematic way of decluttering and organizing but this basic mantra has truly been life-changing for me.

As Kondo suggests, I started with my clothes.  Using the gauge of touching each piece of clothing and asking if it “sparks joy in my heart”, I had quickly filled at least eleven bags of clothes to donate.  Mike became a fan of this strategy, too.  It made me laugh to hear him say, “This sweater isn’t sparking joy in my heart”   as he added another item to our donation bags.

It felt liberating to have purged our closets and drawers of perfectly good but unwanted items. Dropping off our bags of clothes at our favorite local thrift shop was satisfying knowing that at the very least our donation would benefit a worthy cause and perhaps some of our items would spark joy in someone else’s heart.

Beyond the bonus of having significantly fewer items in our drawers, Kondo provides specific suggestions for how to store belongings in a manner that will make it easy to maintain a tidy environment. The simple change of folding and storing items vertically instead of in stacks in a drawer has been a completely unexpected bonus in keeping things organized.  I can easily find what I’m looking for and it’s always easy to put things away.  Maybe everyone else is already using this method but I am so pleased to have been enlightened.

rotated drawer

The next task was organizing books.  Kondo discusses a strategy for parting with books.  We had been saving shelves of books that we decided we really didn’t need anymore. In one afternoon I had been able to part with a huge number of books.

books on floor

 

 

books in boxes

here was room on our bookshelves and the books that were left were ones that we had specifically chosen to keep.

library

 

We were able to donate a shopping cart of books to a local grocery store that sells them and then donates the proceeds to a different charity each month. Once again, this felt like a win-win arrangement.

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To be sure, this will be a long process as I continue to tackle all of the other areas she addresses. Because her method was developed for Japanese clients she doesn’t specifically talk about some of the more American areas that I will also be approaching such as our garage, cellar, attic and barn.  But I am confident that I now have the skills to apply her strategies to all of these areas as I organize the items which “spark joy in my heart”.

Since learning about this method I’ve been pleasantly intrigued to find how pervasive this philosophy has become in my daily life.  My November “Try Something New” was to complete my Christmas shopping by November 30th. In the past I have found myself easily whipped up into the madness of shopping.  I was an easy target for stores’ attempts to lure shoppers into buying impulse items.  But this year, I had a specific plan and time line.  I’m happy to report that I did very well with this new experience.

The added bonus was that I was armed with my new, life-changing mantra.  I easily resisted items that would have previously found their way into my shopping bag.  I didn’t want to bring items into my home that weren’t truly going to “spark joy in my heart” and I certainly didn’t want to burden others with this type of item.

December’s “Try Something New for 30 Days” was inspired by a piece I heard on NPR.  They reported on research that discovered that people with heart disease who wrote down what they were grateful for had tangible beneficial changes to their heart. Thankfully, I don’t have heart disease and I have a multitude of things for which I am grateful.  But I began writing two or three things that I am grateful for in my journal each night.

journal rotated

 

Often during the day I’d make a mental note of something I’d want to add. To be honest, there were a few nights when my list had a bit of a snarky slant (e.g. “I’m grateful that I have finished my work -even though it’s midnight!”).  But I found it comforting to frame it in a positive way and I now have a lovely record of what was making me feel grateful each day.

This year of “Trying Something New for 30 Days” has been exciting, fun, enlighteninginspirational, heartwarming, and satisfying. As 2016 begins, I look forward to another year of “Trying Something New for 30 Days”. Perhaps you’d like to give it a whirl, as well.  I can guarantee that it will be a fabulous way to embrace this new year.

Happy 2016!