She won!

I heard the text ping as Mike and I headed into the second mile of the Shamrock Run in Richmond, VA.  Although I didn’t look at the message then, I was pretty sure I knew what it would say. When Amelia ran back to us from the direction of the finish line she confirmed what I had quietly been anticipating.  She was the first female finisher!

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We had known that Richmond would be the site of our Virginia race ever since our niece, Annie, moved there a few years ago. When we chose this race in late January, Amelia signed up for the race, as well, and Hannah and Todd signed on for the trip. Having run the majority of our quest races on our own, it was such a treat to have Amelia’s husband, Matt, Hannah and Todd, and Annie and Sam braving the chilly temperatures and cheering us on.

Having personal photographers was an added bonus. Annie snapped this shot of Amelia at the start.

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And Hannah captured this photo as Amelia zoomed to a win and PR finish. I love the outline of her shadow.

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Amelia had been putting in the miles and hard workouts to attempt a PR.  We were thrilled that she had accomplished her goal and that we were all able to celebrate with her.

My winter training was decidedly less stellar but we had a good run and were pleased with our finishing time.  I even ended up with third place in my new age-group.

Hannah took this photo of Mike and me finishing. We’ve decided she should always come along.  We love her company and she took one of my best finish line photos.  Plus having her take pictures alleviates the need for our signature awkward post-race selfie.

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I think that the person behind us looks a bit like a leprechaun, albeit a big one.

We were a bit dismayed to hear the announcement at the starting line that they wouldn’t be holding an awards ceremony after the race as they had advertised on their website. They had also promoted post-race live music at the brewery.  That didn’t happen either. But since we had our own enthusiastic crew to celebrate with we toasted Amelia’s win and enjoyed having the opportunity to share our race experience with family and friends.

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We had plenty of time for other fun throughout the weekend. Annie and Sam provided outstanding hospitality and expertly steered us to one perfect restaurant or activity after another.

Lunch at Union Market,

fabulous ice cream at Charm School,

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Charm School is filled with nifty old school (literally) touches.

cocktails at  the Quirk Hotel

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and dinner at Vagabond on Saturday topped off with a leisurely visit to Carytown on Sunday provided us with a well-rounded sampling of some of Richmond’s delights.

Sure, venturing to unfamiliar locations, exploring the local venues, and chatting with strangers on our own has resulted in many memorable adventures on our quest. But having the opportunity to spend the weekend with people we know and love and celebrate Amelia’s win truly made completing our 28th state race awesome.

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State: Virginia

Quest Race Number: 28

Date Run: March 12, 2017

The Bottom Line: Running a race accompanied by family and friends is something we hope will happen again.  With 22 states left on our quest list there should be plenty of opportunity for more festivities, great photos, and fast finishes.

Running in Two States (Actually, Three) in One Weekend

With a hand shake, the deal was sealed.  Mike and I were enjoying drinks at our hotel in Boston the night before we were due to fly to Pensacola to begin our trip to run races in Mississippi and Alabama.  But the forecast was predicting a winter storm to begin the next morning pretty much at the moment our plane was due to depart. Mike was so sure that our flight would be delayed at least 2 hours that he wagered footing the bill for lunch the next day.  I was betting we would be able to escape just in the nick of time.

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When we arrived at the airport early the next morning (or what seemed like the middle of the night), our flight was still on time. The plane was boarded on schedule just as the snow began.  The pilot informed us that we just needed to go through de-icing and we’d be on our way.  After an interesting but slow de-icing process we finally took off…about an hour late.  We had about an hour layover for our connecting flight in Charlotte so this delay did not bode well for making this connection.  Throughout the flight I was able to monitor the status of our next flight (on time, of course) and determine which gates we would arrive at and depart from (different terminals, of course). We landed with 20 minutes before our next flight was due to depart.  Figuring we had nothing to lose, we opted to try to make it to the plane before it left.  We bolted from the plane and began running through the terminals to our next gate.  You might think that as runners, we’d be all set for this type of challenge.  Our problem is that we had not had the foresight to include running with a backpack and pulling a suitcase into our training.  We did learn that you can make really good time when you run on the people-mover conveyor belts.  Once we were in the right terminal we only had to run past 28 gates before reaching ours.  As our gate came into view the area was alarmingly empty with the exception of the gate attendants at the desk.  I waved to them as we careened up to the desk “Home Alone” style. They greeted us by name and called down the boarding tunnel to alert the crew that we were on our way.

As we boarded the plane, the flight attendants pointed out the two remaining seats. I settled into my seat beside a gracious stranger, gratefully caught my breath and said a silent thank you that I had remembered to apply deodorant after I showered at 3:00 a.m.

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I took a few photos on the plane to send to one of my small clients who loves planes.  (I do, too!)

We had signed up for the Bob Coleman Winter Run 10K in  Mississippi on Saturday so planned to drive to Jackson on Friday.  Our route went right through Mobile, Alabama where we were running on Sunday so we decided to stop for lunch there on our way.  The Dumbwaiter Restaurant came up as a good option on Yelp so we decided to give it a try.

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We loved the cool atmosphere and the excellent service.

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This gumbo was divine.

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The chocolate bread pudding had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Heath Bar pieces in it. Oolala!

Mike, being the gracious gentleman that he is, made good on our earlier wager and paid for lunch since we had miraculously arrived on time.

It was chilly, even by Maine standards, the next morning when we arrived at the start of the Bob Coleman Winter Run 10k in Clinton, Mississippi.  The drive from Jackson along the Natchez Trace Parkway was beautiful and serene and gave us a preview of our course since the race is run along that road.  As we picked up our numbers and shirts and made the inevitable trip to the (amazingly short) port-a-potty line I was struck with the thought that no matter where we are running, runners are always the same.  It was somehow reassuring to be surrounded by a group of like-minded, enthusiastic, pleasant individuals even though we were in a completely unfamiliar location.

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Somehow Mike ended up being #1, confirming what we’ve known all along.

The relatively small group of 10K runners gathered at the start and after a few announcements we were on our way along the scenic route.

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We ran along the side of the road since the route was not closed to traffic. Several police cars traveled up and down the course to ensure that drivers were cautious as they drove past us.  The biggest obstacle for us (me) was watching out for raised reflective markers along the painted line.  We don’t have these very helpful traffic markers in Maine due to repeated plowing of the roads so it was a bit of a new experience.

We felt great as we ran along the route.  Although it was chilly and there were no leaves on the trees, the sound of songbirds definitely made it feel more spring-like than the weather we had just left.

The race benefited CARA-Community Animal Rescue and Adoption which is a local no-kill animal shelter. Having adopted many animals over the years from shelters in our area, we were pleased to be able to support this cause. Mike continued his lucky streak and won a nifty neon orange knit cap in the after-race raffle.

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Here is our requisite awkward post-race selfie.

After quickly showering and packing up we left our hotel and headed to the nearest Waffle House for our post-race breakfast. Being Northerners,  we had never been to what I’ve heard is a veritable institution in the south.  Bon Appetit had a great article about Waffle Houses and I had heard on NPR that FEMA actually rates a disaster based on the level of operation at the local Waffle House. Getting to the closest one meant driving about two miles. They are everywhere, not unlike Dunkin Donuts in the north.

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I’m blaming it on the post-race high but I was almost giddy to be eating at a Waffle House. I could hardly keep from blurting out that I was a newbie to our waitress.  (Well, I think I may have actually told her but, like everyone else we encountered on our trip to the south, she was very friendly and hospitable despite having an endorphin-crazed Northerner on her hands).  Pathetic, I know, but true.

Because Mobile was in the midst of its Mardi Gras, we had decided to head back there after the Mississippi race in order to experience more of the festivities. Once in the city we noticed that the majority of people were carrying empty bags. We knew that beads were often thrown off of floats but we were intrigued that spectators were clearly anticipating some significant loot.

We hadn’t eaten since our Waffle House experience so happily returned to the Dumbwaiter Restaurant.  Since we just wanted a drink and appetizers we sat at the bar where we chatted with the bartender who filled us in on the Mobile Mardi Gras,  which is actually the country’s original Mardi Gras.

Mike sampled a couple of beers including a Lazy Magnolia that he loved.

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We liked this glass so much I bought one to add to our collection.

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The Dumbwaiter’s green tomato stack and baked oysters bienville were a perfect pre-parade indulgence.

The Dumbwaiter Restaurant is just around the corner from the parade route so finding a spot to view the parade was easy.  As we waited for the parade to begin we were surprised to be entertained by the Mobile motorcycle police officers as they drove in circles, zoomed up and down the road, and generally “cowboyed around” (Mike’s phrase) as they patrolled the area prior to the start of the parade.  I later wondered if the Mobile police department is able to recruit new officers readily when young parade spectators are inspired to join the force after watching the fun the department exhibits during the parades.

Once the parade began, Mike and I were stunned by the incredible floats that the Mystics of Time presented.

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knightMasked riders on horseback preceded most floats.  As horse owners,we were truly impressed with the calm, steadfast horses that didn’t seem phased in the least as their riders flung strings of beads into the screaming crowds, while marching band drums beat so loudly they reverberated in our chests, and spectators hung from open second floor windows and called for things to be thrown to them.

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You can see the masked throwers on this float.

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People were at every second story window.  Some even held nets out in order to collect the flying goods.

The high school marching bands were plentiful and impressive.

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As the parade continued we went from casual spectators to completely enthralled participants as we waved and yelled to encourage them to “Throw me something, Mister!”. We were rewarded with beads, Moon Pies, a glow stick, giant sunglasses, a huge plastic toothbrush, a plastic oinking pig, a ball, and a plastic cup which conveniently listed the next five Mardi Gras dates. Luckily, a small boy was standing next to us so we were able to share/unload the items we didn’t want to pack into our suitcases.  But we left the parade festooned with beads and more.

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This building was lit up in changing Mardi Gras colors.

We had chosen to run in Mobile after reading about the Joe Cain Classic 5K race.  The Mardi Gras theme appealed to us (even before we knew there was a full-fledged Mardi Gras in the city, as well). So it was not surprising to find the race volunteers dressed in extravagent Mardi Gras attire.  Mike and I adorned ourselves with the beads we had nabbed the night before and felt ready to join the festivities.

The out and back course is billed as flat, fast, and ugly…and I don’t think they were just referring to me in this photo, although that certainly is awful! We ran past the jail and as the race website describes it, “a scenic scrap yard”.  The proceeds from this race benefit challenged athletes.

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Photo credit: Tim Ard

We had a good run and were pleased with our efforts.

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But the best part of the race was the block party after we ran. We have run a LOT of races and we’ve decided this was definitely the best after-race event we’ve ever been to. The block party was held on a little side street a few blocks from the end of the race.  Houses were decorated for Mardi Gras.

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The non-stop music was fabulous and absolutely added to the very festive vibe.  There was a huge array of food including Southern treats like grits and pimento cheese sandwiches. We had enjoyed two beers by 9:30 a.m. and it seemed perfectly normal given the party atmosphere.

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“Joe Cain” was at the party, as well!

partyWe would have loved to stay longer and hang around for the official Joe Cain Day parade but, alas we had to head back to Pensacola to catch our flight. It was tough to leave such a great party but we consoled ourselves with lunch at Felix’s Fish Camp on our way out of town.

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IMG_6130This provided us one more chance to drink sweet tea and sample more Southern cuisine. The atmosphere was fun and the service was excellent.  We left Mobile reluctantly but grateful that we had, once again, had an opportunity to explore a new region with all of the varied food, drink, and experiences that it had to offer.

States: Mississippi and Alabama

Dates Run: Bob Coleman Winter 10K-February 6, 2016

Joe Cain Classic 5K  – February 7, 2016

Race #: 23 and 24

The Bottom Line: Arranging to run two races on consecutive days took a bit of planning but the effort was totally worthwhile.  The Bob Coleman Winter Run was a lovely 10K along a scenic, quiet historic route.  We were pleased to be able to support CARA, the local animal shelter, with our registration fees.

Serendipitously ending up in Mobile during the height of Mardi Gras was a true highlight of our adventure.  Although being on this quest to try to run a race in every state tends to interfere with our desires to return to places we have visited, we have already earmarked the Joe Cain Classic as a race we truly hope to run again.

 

 

Tibbetts Point Run 10K- Cape Vincent, NY

When Mike and I started making plans to run our New York race, we decided we wanted to do a race that was not in the city. After scanning our trusty Running in the USA website, Mike found the Tibbetts Point Run. We were drawn to the location which is on the St. Lawrence River where it meets Lake Ontario. My mother and her parents and grandparents used to summer on the St. Lawrence Seaway, so being in that area had an additional appeal. We signed up for the 10K but there is also a 5K that is run at the same time.

We had the luxury of stopping to stay with my sister, Kate, in Vermont on our way from Maine to New York.  That visit and the picturesque views made the long drive much more pleasant.

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We stopped in Sackets Harbor, NY where they happened to be having a Canadian-American Festival. We had no idea we would be lucky enough to witness the fire truck pull!

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It is a charming town with beautiful views of the lake.

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Cape Vincent, where the race is held, is about 25 miles north. After reviewing the somewhat limited lodging options in town I had chosen the Buccaneer Motel for our accommodations. The fact that I had chosen it is significant, because it meant I couldn’t complain. There is a rumor among my family that I have been known to emphatically voice my, shall I say, “not always enthusiastic” opinion when our room didn’t meet my discerning (they say fussy) standards.  You would have to confirm that with them.

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Although the motel itself was not fancy and offered limited frills (such as soap or shampoo), it was just a few blocks from the race and it was right on the water.

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We loved watching the boats on the river heading to or from Lake Ontario and I was completely enthralled with the wind turbines across the river on Wolfe Island.

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As we finished dinner the night before the race, I realized that there would potentially be wonderful sunset views at the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse that we had stopped at earlier that day. We raced over just in time and joined lots of others who were there for the same reason.

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It truly was stunning.

The race the next morning traveled on a flat course through town and out to a gorgeous route right along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The 10K was an out and back course that looped around the lighthouse. After the race we returned to the lighthouse for a few photos

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and then decided to take the ferry across the river to Wolfe Island in Ontario.

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Fifteen dollars and 10 minutes was all it took to get us and our car across the river and voila’! We were in Canada!

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Wolfe Island is the largest of the Thousand Islands. We loved the quiet, rural feel of the island and the transfixing wind turbines that have such a majestic presence on the island

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We wished we had brought bikes to explore the miles of bike-friendly roads.

On the ferry ride back to Cape Vincent we met a cyclist who was heading to Acadia National Park in Maine (our favorite place) and we excitedly shared our suggestions for his visit.

The next morning we followed this small furry creature for a bit

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on our way to this coffee shop.

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After a tranquil start to our morning, we ended our visit to Cape Vincent and headed home.

State: New York

Date Run: July 21, 2013

Quest Race #: 13

The Bottom Line: This relatively small race features a flat course with a stunning view of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Its proximity to Wolfe Island, Ontario provides an opportunity for a fun, easy trip to Canada.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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

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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?

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

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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?

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!

 

 

Half at the Hamptons and a Whole Lot More

When we began our quest to run a race in every state, we had already run multiple races in New Hampshire.  So as we thought about our quest, we chose the Half at the Hamptons as our official New Hampshire race. Although we have both run the race, we have never actually run it together or on the same day.  I first ran it in February 2009 with Amelia when we signed up for the Will Run for Beer race series.  Mike ran it the following year on his own after I was unable to run due to coming down with bronchitis/pneumonia thanks to one of my lovely (but germ-ridden) little clients.

The course is scenic and quite flat.  There are stunning views on portions of the route that travel along the ocean. Runners are treated to hot soup and beer after the race. This event takes place in February, so training for it is a great way to keep running during the winter months.

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Mike is finishing his Half at the Hamptons run in 2010.

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Amelia and her dad after the race.

A few years ago we completed two race series in the New Hampshire Seacoast area. They were the Will Run for Beer series which always, of course, offers beer at the end of the races and the Seacoast Road Race Series. Participating in these series offered us an opportunity to run lots of new races.

These are some of the New Hampshire races that we have enjoyed over the years.

Market Square Day 10K in Portsmouth is run in conjunction with the Market Square Day Festival which is a large event in downtown Portsmouth on the second Saturday in June.  The race starts in the midst of the festival in Market Square and travels through various neighborhoods.  It ends at Strawbery Banke, which is an historic village museum.  This is a very popular race that sells out before the race date.

Great Bay 5K is held in October in Stratham.  This is a point to point race that seemed to be pretty much all down hill. We got a great long-sleeve technical t-shirt the year we ran it.

Children’s Museum 5K will be held in Dover in May.  The course is somewhat hilly but includes a run across a small wooden bridge which is a fun twist.  I remember a great selection of food at the end of the race, including local chowder and ice cream.

Red’s Shoe Barn 5 Mile is in April in Dover.  The website describes this as a “challenging” course and I concur! There are lots of hills along the route but it does end on a long, well-deserved downhill stretch.

Runner’s Alley/Redhook 5K is a really festive, flat race that ends at the brewery with great food, live music, and Redhook beer.

Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K is held on a Thursday evening in August in the coastal town of Rye.

Great Island 5K in New Castle is a nice race that winds around narrow seacoast streets, beginning and ending at The Great Island Common.

Margaritas 5K takes place in Exeter.  One of the fun things about this race is that the year we ran it with Amelia she won a sombrero for placing in her age division. Running this race also makes it completely reasonable to drink a margarita at 10:00 on a Sunday morning at the post race Mexican event!

Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Road Race, as the name suggests, is run in the evening in Newington.  There is a big barbeque following the race.  The t-shirts for this race usually have really pretty sunset-themed artwork and I’ve enjoyed the evening racing.

All of the races I’ve mentioned so far are part of one of the race series that we’ve done.  However, there is another race that is not part of a series but is in a class of it’s own.  The St. Charles 5K is organized by the Running Nuns of Rochester.  Their website states, “We especially focus on running for children and beginners and ways running can help heal from grief, trauma and abuse as well as enhance well being and self esteem”.

We have run this race several times and find it especially poignant to see nuns running in full habits with their young running friends. We lived in Rochester where the St. Charles home is located and would often seen the nuns and children out for their daily runs.

The race is held in Newington on a very flat course.  I have found the prayer that is said before the race begins particularly moving.  Once you complete the race there is a big cookout and tons of food available for runners.  This is definitely a race that makes you feel wonderful about the cause for which you are running.

Since we live on the border of New Hampshire, we haven’t traveled far in order to check New Hampshire off our quest list. However, we would highly recommend joining the vibrant running community here and checking out one or more of these races. But if you prefer to visit without racing, the Seacoast area of New Hampshire is lovely and offers a multitude of diversions. There are quaint towns, beaches, great dining, lots of recreational activities, theater, music, and more to enjoy.

As we travel to new states for our 50 state quest we are always amazed at how much we love exploring a new area.  A trip to New Hampshire will offer you an opportunity to experience a fabulous area and perhaps it will inspire you to begin your own quest.

 

State: New Hampshire

Quest State #: 2

Dates Run: 2/15/09 (Karen)  2/22/10 (Mike)

The Bottom Line: The Half at the Hamptons half marathon is a great mid-winter race in a coastal setting.  The Seacoast region of New Hampshire offers a multitude of other exciting, fun races throughout the year. It is a wonderful destination for recreation and running.