Year in Review- 2016 Races

I’m not racing this weekend.  But I did pull out my box of race medals and spent a little time  organizing and reminiscing about the past year.  Here are a few stats for 2016:

22 races and 6 age group awards, including:

3 5Ks (and a PR!)

1 15K (my first, so instant PR!)

15 half marathons (only 4 new states though)

3 marathons.

This is my collection of medals, including my first and only medal for a 5K from the Gasparilla Challenge in Tampa, FL.

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Not sure exactly where my AG awards are; probably in a box in the garage.  I’m sure they’ll show up eventually.

And here’s my Marathon Bling:

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Boston. Chicago. New York City. 3 of the 6 Abbott World Majors. Cherished memories of a phenomenal year.

 

I’ve got one more half marathon on the calendar this year, Mount Dora here in Florida.  2017 will be the year to knock out more states!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the finished product!

It’s been quite a process, but the Florida House is DONE!  This place is considerably smaller than our house in Hartsville and storage is limited, so  I was only able to bring 2 boxes of Christmas decorations with me, but I think we did pretty good.  It’s kind of difficult to get in the Spirit of Christmas when it’s 80 degrees out, but Alyssa came down and was a huge help.  So, without further ado, check out our new place:

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I think you should see this photo first, of our gorgeous new kitchen, since the last image I posted was the “before” of this same space. What a difference!

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I must give credit to Marty for selecting the perfect back splash.

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Here’s the dining room

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We took a few of the Christmas tree ornaments to make the centerpiece, affectionately called the “Bird Ball Bowl”.

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It’s not far from the dining room to the living room (or any room, for that matter!).

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We swiped a few more shiny balls for this bowl.

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My niece, Alexandra, sent us some “Joy”!

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I’m happy that some of my angels were in the boxes we brought.

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…and an impish Clemson elf!

Renovation Update

It’s been a little over a month since we started our renovation project so I thought it was time for a little update.

Most of the selections have been made and things are starting to take shape.  Here’s a peak at our kitchen progress:

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My initial thought was to remove those upper cabinets over the island and open the kitchen up into the living/ dining room, as well as add all new flooring.

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So the cabinets came down and the carpet and tile got ripped up. Then we had another idea…

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Since we decided to get new cabinets, we realized that we could reconfigure the island and really make the most of the space. The new island is going to be 10 feet long!

New tile flooring goes in next week and the cabinets come in early June.  The lights are on order and the entire house is getting a fresh coat of paint.  I cannot wait to see how it all comes together!

Our Next Project

On Day 4 of Retirement, Marty and I drove down to Florida so he could finally see the house I bought.  Our cute little beachside bungalow only needed cosmetic updates, or so I thought.

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Cute, right?

But the more we got into it, the more we decided to do.  Stay tuned to “The Next 50” to watch our progress as we tackle our first fixer upper.  It should be fun!

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Demolition begins

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Marty has quickly transitioned from executive to laborer!

 

Run the Bluegrass 2016

Marty has been retired exactly 12 days.  Not being ones to sit around and twiddle our thumbs, we kicked off retirement on April 1 first by driving to Lexington, KY and running a fun race called Run the Bluegrass.  I ran the 13.1 race (for the 3rd year in a row!) and Marty ran the 7 Miler.  We met up with some old friends, made some new ones and feel accomplished for conquering the hills of Lexington!

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Pre race dinner at Bella Notte

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Fifty States Half Marathon Club Dinner

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Fifty States Half Marathon Club members before the race

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RTB provided a tent for our our club, with water, bananas, and chocolate bourbon donuts!

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Running with race horses along the course

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Race friends

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Prettiest half marathon, truly

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Perfect day for a hilly run!

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RTB medal

 

Halfway there…

I am really not very good at this blogging thing.  I see it’s been 5 months since I last posted anything.  Bad me.  I have been steadily running races (7 half marathons so far in 2016!) and clicking off states and realized that I reached a milestone of sorts this past weekend.  With the running of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon I have now officially run in 25 states.  I am halfway there!!

Here’s a look at my current map, with blue being the states I’ve run half marathons in, red is where I’ve run full marathons (disclosure: I’ve run half marathons in VA, NC, and SC too) and the green states are the new ones I’m signed up to run in (so far) this year.

50 States 2016

 

This past weekend was a “milestone” race, being in my 25th state, and it was pretty special, so I thought it deserved a mention.

 

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Entry into the United NYC half marathon is by lottery, so I was pleased but surprised that I even got into this race.  I joined over 20,000 runners in Central Park for the 13.1 mile run through Manhattan.  What an experience!  The first half of the race wound through the park, then we exited onto Broadway and ran through Times Square before turning onto 42nd St.  We then headed south along the Hudson River toward Battery Park and the Finish Line.

Here’s my stats:

Bib #8070.  Wave 1, Corral 8

Time- 1:55:05

Overall place- 6961/ 20124

Gender place- 2259/ 10545

Age Group place- 97/ 641

 

Next up- BOSTON MARATHON!!

 

Checking Off States- #20 (AZ) and #21 (UT)

Mid October is a popular time for half marathons.  I counted over 30 on the calendar for this past weekend, so how is a runner to choose?  I picked one of my favorite locations and was not disappointed.

Sat., Oct. 17- Lake Powell half marathon in Page, AZ.

This race is put on by Vacation Races, a series of half marathons in, or at least near, national parks.  I was very impressed with the organization and the course was stunning!  I wish I had stopped to take pictures, but I’m not sure photos could do it justice.  This is an under-appreciated area and I encourage everyone to visit, if you can.  I am impressed with their policy of cupless racing; they give you a hydra pouch to fill up along the way instead- brilliant!  I hope more races go this way.

The only problem we encountered was that the lead runners took a wrong turn early on in the race and we all ended up running an additional 1/2 mile.  It reminded me of the Charleston Marathon in January!

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My time was good enough for a 2nd place age group win, and I got to stand on a podium for the first time!

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Pretty impressive medals, too:

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So, after a quick shower, I was on my way to Moab, UT for half marathon #2 this weekend.  The 4 hour drive wasn’t bad, but unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I had time to stop at Monument Valley.  Here’s a quick pic of the drive:

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The Other Half is also an unbelievably gorgeous point to point course along the Colorado River.  I did take this one a little easy and really enjoyed the race.  We were all bused to the start for the 8:30 AM start.

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The race started with The Moab Drummers, and they were also playing for us as we climbed the last hill of the race, around Mile 11.5:

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The finish line at Sorrel River Ranch was beautiful and I would LOVE to stay at this resort sometime:

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Medal haul for the weekend:

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The finish line party was outstanding, with a great band, 3 beers and a pint glass for each participant, copious amounts of food and of course that gorgeous setting and perfect weather.

I loved both of these races.  If you need a lot of crowd support, they wouldn’t be for you, but there were plenty of aid stations at both races with volunteers cheering every couple of miles.  The scenery more than makes up for lack of crowds.  Each race had about 1000 runners, so there was plenty of companionship and camaraderie along the courses.

Both of these races are in locations that are really vacation destinations and you really should spend some time to enjoy the areas.  I’m already planning my return.

Bird in Hand Half Marathon

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On Friday, my very sweet and supportive husband drove us up to the quaint little town of Bird in Hand, PA where I checked in for the Saturday morning half marathon.

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Even though I got a whoopie pie in my goodie bag, I had to stop by the bakery table and pick up some more.  If you’ve never had a whoopie pie, you are really missing out!

Bird in Hand is very small, so we stayed in nearby Lancaster, which was only 5 miles away and very convenient.  Friday evening, we passed on the pasta dinner offered by the race and instead stayed in Lancaster  for a wonderful meal at The Iron Hill Brewery.  I had something called Jaegerschnitzel which was fabulous.  Marty says I ordered it just so I could say “jaegerschnitzel” 🙂

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As I drove into the parking area for the race Saturday morning, I was greeted by a really cool sight, as the hot air balloons were getting set for a pre-race launch.  So beautiful!

I met up with some fabulous Fifty Staters for a pre-race photo and then we lined up for the 7:30 AM start.

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The course itself is challenging but so picturesque.  Rolling hills through beautiful farmland, and a small dirt road section around mile 10 (uphill, of course!) made this a tough race, but still oh so rewarding.  The volunteer support was outstanding and the kids manning the aid stations were just precious!

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This is one well-earned medal and so unique- it’s a real horseshoe!

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I LOVED everything about this race and highly recommend it.  It is very unique, run by locals and benefits the local fire department, extremely well-supported and everyone I met and talked to was just so NICE!  It was a pleasure to run this race and we had a great weekend!

Alien Invasion

On Saturday, I drove to Atlanta to run the Alien 13.1 Half Marathon.  Actually, I went to celebrate with my friend Ali, who was running her 100th half marathon.  Can you even imagine what an accomplishment that is?!?  I really wanted to be there to celebrate with her and other members of the 50 States Half Marathon Club.

The 50 States Half Marathon Club is an on-line group of runners who are challenging themselves to accomplish some pretty impressive goals.  I’m working on the 50 States Challenge myself, which is a half or full marathon in every state (I’ll be halfway there at the end of the year!), but plenty of people are working on running 100 half marathons or other goals.  In traveling around the country and running races, it has been great meeting and getting to know members of this really wonderful group.  You can learn more about us here: http://www.50stateshalfmarathonclub.com/  and I encourage anyone with similar goals to join.  Tell them I referred you 😉

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Here are some of us, just before the start.

The Alien 13.1 was a night race, starting at 7 pm, and participants were encouraged to wear headlamps.  I am very glad I heeded their advice because it did get really dark on the course.  As you can imagine, being August in Georgia, it was also VERY hot and humid.  I didn’t come with any personal race goals, other than to share the experience, which is a good thing. Despite the website’s claim to be a flat and fast PR course, I would definitely beg to differ.

But… going into a race with no time expectations was a wonderful experience!  Racing at night is also a different beast and, even though it was a tough one, I’m really glad I did it.

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They also provided free race photography, which is a thoughtful feature.

Celebrating afterwards with Ali, a lot of her local friends and a large group of 50 Staters was also tons of fun.  AND…  we got glow in the dark medals too 🙂

And for the record, this was half marathon #30 for me.  Georgia was not a new state, so my state count remains at 18 done so far.  I’ll be hammering out PA, NY, AZ, UT, AR, and OK in the next couple of months though.

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No Feudin’… Just Runnin’

This past weekend, I drove to tiny Williamson, KY for the Hatfield-McCoy Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon.  Because it ended in (even tinier) Matewan, WV, I was able to check off a new state, my 18th, and first new state since November.

This race has received accolades from Runner’s World as one of the Top 15 toughest marathons and attracts lots of Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics:

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pre- race group picture.

I chose to run the Blackberry Mountain first half.  Runners had the option to run either the first or second half, or both, which they called “the double half”, or they could run the full marathon.  The first half and the marathon started together at 7 AM, while those choosing the run just the 2nd half were bused to Matewan, WV for an 8 AM start.  There was a 10 AM start of the 2nd half for those doing “the double half”.  A little confusing, I thought, but apparently an attractive option for those wanting “credit” for 2 half marathons in 2 different states.  Since I didn’t really want to run a marathon this weekend (especially with a break of over an hour) or pay almost twice as much as the marathon cost, I stuck with a half marathon.

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Here we are at the start, in the local Food City parking lot.

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Temps at the start were not too bad, in the low 70s, but it heated up during the day.  Throw in some pretty significant hills (it IS called Blackberry mountain for a reason!) and some humidity, and this truly was a tough race.  There is no time limit, however, and I think that attracted lots of people too.  Still, it turned out to be smaller than I expected, with just 216 finishers in the first half, 283 in the 2nd half, and 345 in the full marathon.

Running with a bunch of marathoners- and up a mountain!- I took it kind of easy, so I was shocked when a volunteer grabbed me as I crossed the finish line and told me that I was the 3rd Overall Female.  I truly thought she had made a mistake, but she handed me my award (and then another volunteer brought me watermelon and a drink, since I hadn’t gotten anything yet), then the 2nd place female and I, along with a few other finishers hanging around, had a little celebration, since there was not an actual awards ceremony.

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This race was extremely well-supported, with volunteers almost outnumbering runners!  The people were genuinely happy and somewhat surprised that we all came to their neck of the woods and were extremely welcoming.  I particularly liked the included pre- race pasta dinner, which was followed by a Hatfield- McCoy skit:

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… a little history lesson too!

Here’s one more photo from Williamson, WV, near the full marathon finish line.  This is the historic Coal House.  This is coal country, folks!

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