Wisconsin-Green Lake Area 13 Dot 1 Half Marathon

A couple of years into our quest, when we  needed to venture further from home in order to reach a new state, we figured Labor Day weekend would offer us an extra day for travel without dipping into limited vacation time.  We decided that Wisconsin would be a cool place to spend the weekend and settled on the Green Lake Area 13 Dot 1 Half Marathon.  I love the name!

As with many of the new states we have visited, we had only a vague sense of what Wisconsin was like.  We flew into Madison and drove past scores of farms and hundreds of acres of soy beans and corn.

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We were surprised to frequently see wind turbines in the midst of all of these fields.

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When we arrived in Green Lake we settled into our lovely room at the Heidel House Resort and Spa which had been recommended by the race website.

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There was an option to pick up race packets on Friday afternoon, so we drove the short distance into the picturesque town.  When we gave our names to the woman at the desk she exclaimed, “You’re the people from Maine!” and promptly nabbed her camera and snapped a shot of us.  We felt like celebrities!

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the town and Heidel House.  I tried the traditional Wisconsin treat of fried cheese curds.  Interesting and yummy but possibly not the best choice for pre-race fare.

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Early the next morning we drove the few blocks to the area where the race began.  It was a gorgeous, cool morning.  We enjoyed the quiet as we waited for the race to begin.

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Eventually we were off, running along the lake for a while before heading into the beautiful, quiet, wooded Green Lake Conference Center. There were numerous stone bridges and historic buildings along the route which kept the course interesting.  The first 10 miles were great!  We felt terrific and our time was good.  We spent quite a bit of time chatting with a fellow runner who was very congenial.

As we headed up the hills during the last three miles I suddenly felt completely drained and seemed to have an unquenchable thirst.  Sadly, I definitely slowed us down but Mike was my unfailingly faithful running partner and husband.  He encouraged me as we covered the last miles but never abandoned me.  I rallied some at the end and we crossed the finish line hand in hand.  Shortly after we finished we heard the announcer mention our names and that we were from Maine and were trying to run a race in every state. People cheered and they took our picture. It was a completely unexpected but greatly appreciated bonus to our race.

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The after-race event took place right by the water.  There was plenty of great local beer which was a definite bonus since sampling local beer has become an integral part of our quest!

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As we walked back to our car we passed a vending machine selling bait.  We had no idea such a thing existed.

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We basked in that post-race feeling during the afternoon, soaking up some sun at the pool, and generally enjoying the Heidel House grounds.

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We went to their more formal dining room for a wonderful dinner that night and returned to our room in time to catch a stunning sunset over the lake.

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We left the next day having experienced an unexpectedly warm welcome, a beautifully scenic race, and a treat of a mini vacation at the Heidel House Resort.

State: Wisconsin

Date Run: September 2, 2012

Quest Race #: 10

The Bottom Line: The 13 Dot 1 Half Marathon was scenic and very well organized by incredibly friendly people. Green Lake is a charming lake-side town and the Heidel House Resort  offered a luxurious addition to our experience.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!)

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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!

Texas!

After weeks of training on snowy roads

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in single digit temperatures,

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clad in our special winter running gear,

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with our bodies covered in snow and our faces numb from the wind

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we were rewarded with 13.1 miles of running in nearly perfect racing conditions.

The Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon provided this much needed respite from our extra intense Maine winter.  Mike and I chose this race for our Texas race because it gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit with great friends, Bill and Terry (who also happen to be Amelia’s in-laws), another dear friend, Rebecca, and my cousin, Janet, and her husband, John.  As an added bonus, Amelia signed up to run the race, too.  When Mike and I have traveled to new states to do races, we have often traveled by ourselves.  Having family and friends to visit on this trip truly made it much more enjoyable.

We flew into Houston

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 and immediately understood why they say “everything is bigger in Texas”.

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Stepping out of the airport into the sunny 70 degree weather started the thawing process. We traveled to Bill and Terry’s lovely home and eagerly ventured out for a walk, daringly leaving our boots and coats behind!

One of the aspects of traveling that we love is having the opportunity to see regional architecture, landscaping, and sights. Finding palm trees lining the spiffy retail area virtually around the corner from their quiet neighborhood was really unexpected.

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Bill and Terry took us to Central Market which is a short stroll from their home. We enviously surveyed the vast array of fresh produce, meat, fish, bread, cheese, wine, beer, and so much more that the market offers.

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 We bought a local beer and some Texas grapefruit to bring home to Hannah.

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 Dinner was at the renowned Goode Company where we enjoyed some authentic Texas BBQ.  This photo isn’t too great but the food certainly was!

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The next evening we were enjoying a glass of wine in the living room when four tuxedo-clad men walked into the house and announced that they were there to serenade Amelia with love songs!  Her husband, Matt, had arranged this special Valentine’s Day gift.  It was a charming experience to listen to this a capella quartet sing beautiful songs just feet from us. Afterward we were treated to some of Bill’s exquisite cooking as we savored a delectable Mexican dinner.

Our race was the next day.  Amelia, Mike, and I couldn’t stop commenting on how novel it was to be outside dressed in only shorts and a shirt.  The weather was perfect for our half marathon.  Cloudy skies and low 60 temps were just what we had dreamed of as we had pounded the pavement slogged along on snowy roads in Maine while training for this event.

The half marathon course was a double loop which was mostly flat.  The only hills occurred when the road dipped under overpasses.  There were several bands along the route which made for a festive run.  We loved being able to see Amelia three times when she ran past us on the other side of the course. She looked awesome each time we saw her which was especially terrific since it was her first race after coming back from a serious injury after running a marathon.

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Bill and Terry had biked to the course and cheered us on each time we ran past.  This was such an added treat since we are almost always running in areas where we don’t know anyone. They even took pictures!

It looks like I’m praying but I was actually just clapping.

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Here Mike has apparently abandoned me and has taken up with some other women!

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One of the perks of this race is that you can download all of the professional photos for free. This is one they took of Mike.

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Amelia finished first and took some photos of us as we neared the finish line.

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Amelia had a great race, missing a PR by just a few seconds.  Our race started out strong but I faded near the end of the race. Mike gallantly slowed his pace and stuck with me till the finish.  We nabbed our spiffy spinning guitar medals

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and headed to the food and beer tents with out little “good for one beer” ticket that had came with our race bib.  BUT they were out of beer!  How could that happen?? It seemed that everyone would be guaranteed their token (literally) beer with the ticket system.  Alas, this was not to be.

Although I was not thrilled with my run, we did get a snazzy shirt

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a bonus hat,

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and the especially terrific treat of having Amelia with us.

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Later that day we were greeted with more Texas hospitality when we arrived at Janet and John’s beautiful home on the outskirts of Houston.  They more than made up for the missing race beer by providing us with a vast array of new beers to sample.  Dinner was an “epicurean triumph” to use our grandfather’s famous phrase.  Once again, having a chance to visit with family added a wonderful new dimension to our racing quest.

A visit to the St. Arnold Brewery the next day continued to compensate us for our missed race beer. We signed up for the tour which includes tokens to sample four of their numerous beers.

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Although all of their beers were fantastic, Janet and I enjoyed their Weedwacker brew, Amelia loved the seasonal Spring Bock, and Mike and John seemed to be especially fond of Ale Wagger Brown.  St. Arnold Brewery donates a portion of their proceeds from Ale Wagger sales to local animal rescue organizations.

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We flew home on Fat Tuesday which was highlighted by our gate attendant’s attire.

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Our flight was delayed several hours due to weather-related issues but we were generously compensated with vouchers for use on a future flight.  This was a perfect way to end the trip to our nineteenth quest state as we look forward to our next adventure.

Where should we run next?

State: Texas

Quest Race#: 19

Race: Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon

Date Run: February 15, 2015

The Bottom Line: It was worth training in tough conditions for the reward of running in a warm climate.  But the truly best part of running in Texas was having a chance to visit with family and friends!

 

 

The Best Damn Race-Really!

As I write this, Maine and the rest of the northeast is in the midst of a blizzard.  The wind has been howling for hours and the drifting snow is creeping up the windows.   Although we are used to running in snowy and frigid conditions, we have embraced our running quest as an opportunity to head out of the cold for mini mid-winter breaks. It’s days like today that I really appreciate these little escapes.

Two years ago Mike advocated for a trip to Florida.  Once I read about the Best Damn Race in Safety Harbor, Florida, I knew that was the race for us. First of all, who could resist this race name? The race offers a 5K, 10K, and half marathon all on the same day. The 10K and half start early and the 5K begins slightly later.  The races travel over portions of the same course and end at the same finish line. We opted to take the easy way out and signed up for the 5K.

So in February 2013 we flew to Tampa and drove to Safety Harbor, which was just across the causeway over Tampa Bay, in our spiffy Fiat 500 rental car.

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We had made reservations at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa which is the hotel affiliated with the race.  The packet pick-up and expo were located right behind the resort at the Safety Harbor Marina Park.  But most amazingly of all, the starting line for the race is directly outside the front door of the resort!  Having run dozens of races that involved locating the race (which I’m sorry to say has occasionally involved some heated “discussions” about driving directions),  as well as parking, standing in port-a-potty lines, checking gear, etc, etc, this bonus cannot be over-emphasized! Besides the fact that the resort is lovely, we had the unbelievable luxury of staying in our room until we were ready to head out to warm up for the race and then leisurely join the other runners at the starting line.

We arrived the day prior to the race so we were able to soak up the incredibly therapeutic sun and warmth as we slowly removed layers of clothing.  As I lounged by the pool another woman sat next to me dressed in a turtleneck sweater. We looked at each other and I asked if she was from up north.  She admitted that she was and we commented on how amazing it was to feel warm. After spending months in bone-chilling temps at home it was difficult to believe we really could shed our layers.

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The resort is on the west shore of Tampa Bay.  There is a long wooden pier beside the resort that you can stroll down and get wonderful views of the bay.

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We spent some time exploring the quaint town.

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We found this sign that says, “Danger Do Not Feed or Molest the Alligators” humorous.

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The first night we came across a small but perfect southern restaurant called Southern Fresh.

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The food was fabulous.

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Mike had a great local beer called Florida Cracker, a Belgian-style wheat beer.

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We wished we’d had a chance to enjoy the outdoor fire pit.

The next morning we very leisurely prepared for our race.  We ventured out to watch the early start of the half and 10K and assess the temperature.  It was cool by Florida standards and not yet very sunny.  We spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide on attire for the race.  Long sleeves? Short sleeves? Long sleeves over short sleeves? I eventually settled on short-sleeves with a long-sleeve top.  We were almost giddy with the wonder of having our room steps from the starting line.  We felt like VIPs with access to our own private bathroom just minutes before the race! We did a little warm up run and then lined up and waited for the gun to go off. I suddenly realized it was warm and quickly pinned my number to my short sleeve shirt, tied my other shirt around my waist and we were off!

As we took off along the palm-tree lined coast past stately homes overlooking Tampa Bay I could hardly believe it was February.  I was in heaven.  But I was also seriously trying to finish with a good time.  The course was flat and I had been running well at home. Mike was ready to pace me so we really pushed hard (for me) along the route.  The course is virtually flat so that was a huge change from our very hilly routes at home.  We crossed the finish line together and I was thrilled to have beaten my goal time.

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We joined the huge after-race festivities where the beer was flowing freely and chatted with other runners.  I was amazed and thrilled to see that I had placed in my age-group. This truly had been the Best Damn Race!

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We savored our after-race high as we had lunch with Mike’s sister and her husband.  Later we soaked up some more sun and a few cocktails beside the pool, not wanting to waste a single drop of either before heading back up north the next day.

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That evening we came across Green Springs Bistro.

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Although we didn’t have a reservation they fit us in at a perfect little table in the bar.  Live guitar music was playing.  The food was extraordinary and the service was stellar.

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We had truly had a fabulous day.  The Best Damn Race had absolutely lived up to it’s name and given us an opportunity to thaw out for a few days.

If you have a chance to travel to Florida, I strongly urge you to try the Best Damn Race.  As of this post, there are still openings in all races which is February 7 this year.  I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

Have you traveled to warmer climates to race in the winter? Do you have any suggestions for winter races in warm states?

State: Florida

Quest Race #: 12

Date Run: February 2, 2013

Bottom Line: The Best Damn Race is a fabulous, well-organized race in Florida that offered us a perfect mid-winter break from the cold and snow. And if you want to feel like a VIP, check into the resort for amazing starting line amenities.

 

 

Visions of Sugar Plums…well actually just a few photos from this past week

It has been a wonderful week of preparation, festivities, relaxation, and runs.  Here are a few tidbits of what’s been happening.

This little guy came right up to the fence as we went by on our long run on Sunday.

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During the week, Bentley was uncharacteristically excited about me doing Pilates. Having an enormous, slobbery, furry friend excitedly hover above you as you try to do leg lifts is actually quite alarming. Eventually he just plunked down on my mat which was also less than helpful.

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Abby, on the other hand, is happiest when she’s sitting by a blazing fire. We call her our little “heat seeker” and figure she loves the warmth because she was a rescue from Tennessee.

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Mike and I went out to do a little shopping last weekend and stopped for a delicious lunch at When Pigs Fly. This special was listed as “soup” (their quotation marks).  It had clams, sausage, fennel, Meyer lemons,  broth, and fingerling potatoes.  It was divine!

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Their extensive beer list is one of the reasons we love to go there.

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I did an early Christmas Eve morning interval run. The weather was drizzly but the temperature was relatively mild.  Amelia’s Spotify Christmas playlist was the perfect soundtrack for this holiday run. I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of photos. It’s been unseasonably warm here in Maine so the snow is dwindling and the ice has melted.

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I thought this wreath on the wrought iron fence surrounding a historic town cemetery was picturesque and festive. I returned home feeling strong and pleased with the run.

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I have realized that I am a big fan of presents when they are still wrapped.

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Christmas Eve was very quiet-just Mike, Hannah, and I.  But we made the best of it and enjoyed trying out a new-to-us cocktail, a Moscow Mule.

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I liked the drink but I really loved the traditional copper mugs that they are served in.

Christmas day was quiet and relaxed.  We missed having Amelia and Matt here but we are working on adjusting to the new “normal”.  Having our long-time friends join us for dinner was perfect.  I was slightly alarmed to realize that my shoes matched the tablecloth! But, I do LOVE plaid!

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The day after Christmas Mike and I  headed out for our weekly long run.  We are in week two of our half marathon training for the Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon which is on February 15th.

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We did eight really hilly miles and felt terrific about our efforts.

This morning the sunrise was spectacular.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

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I walked up into our top field to get a new perspective.

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The clouds were beautiful.

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On my way back to the house, Hannah’s pony, Chelsea, called to me as she looked out of her window.  She may have been a little miffed that I had put photographing a fleeting sunrise ahead of her breakfast. Poor Chels!

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We hope your week was warm and festive.

What was the best part of your holiday week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.