Doggone fun

Usually after running a race,  we are in a hurry to get back home.  It was so nice in Anchorage to have all day after the race to hang out and enjoy the Summer Solstice celebration.   Having no definite plans for the rest of the day was awesome!

We wondered through the flea markets and had a late lunch at the Snow Goose.  Later that night,  there was a free concert just down the street from our hotel.  The headlining band was the Spin Doctors.

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This is the part where I would love to tell you that it was an awesome concert and the Spin Doctors killed it but I just can’t do that…..because after sitting on the ground and listening to an opening act that we didn’t care for and hearing that there was another opener before Spin Doctors,  we decided to call it a night and go have a drink at the hotel.   Don’t be jealous of our hard partying ways,  LOL!

The next morning,  we were up early to catch a train to Seward.  If in Alaska,  a train ride is a definite must!  Some of the most amazing views you will ever see!  I finally just stopped taking pictures.  It was almost overwhelming.

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The train ride took 4 hours.  We saw some sheep and a couple moose (and a million gorgeous views!).

Once we arrived in Seward,  we were picked up by Seavey’s Ididaride excursions.  We chose to do the Real Alaska tour package which was a 6 hour tour.

Our first stop was at the Seavey ranch to see the sled dogs,  play with some puppies and go for a ride with the dogs.

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Our guide at Seavey’s had actually run the Iditarod so he had a lot of cool stories to tell.

Lunch was included in our tour and after all that doggone fun,  I was hungry!!  :)

We needed to fuel up because our next stop was Kenai Fjords National Park where we were going to hike up to Exit Glacier.

Our guide took us on a pretty strenuous hike (that the rangers of the park would not have approved of) to make sure that we all got to get up close and personal with the glacier.  That hike was so much fun.  Highlight of the trip!!  It was so cool to touch the glacier!

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Our last stop was to see some salmon.  I couldn’t get enough of watching those crazy fish jump upstream!

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Trying to catch them in the act proved to be somewhat difficult!  I know they told us a lot of facts about the fish but I was too focused on getting the perfect shot to really pay attention.  #sadtruth

After a short driving tour of the town of Seward,  our driver dropped us at the bus station where we caught a bus back to Anchorage.  It was such a fun day!

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I ended it with a flight of beer at the Glacier Brewhouse.  What a great way to try different beers and not have to commit to one!

We had a full day of traveling home on Monday.  As luck would have it,  I was upgraded to first class again from Anchorage to Minneapolis.  As much as I would have loved to take advantage of everything first class had to offer,  I pretty much slept most of the flight.  Guess I was exhausted!

I always assumed Alaska was just another state to mark off my bucket list but I could definitely see myself going back there some time (after I have seen the rest of the world).

Mayor’s Midnight Sun Half Marathon June 2014

Once we were settled in our hotel in Anchorage,  we headed over to the Sheraton to the packet pick up for the half marathon.  For whatever reason,  the longest line was the line that we needed.  Everyone was in the same line!  The only thing that we received were our bibs.  The t-shirts were to be given out once we finished the race.  They had a few vendors set up selling stuff and someone dressed up as a moose for photo ops (which we passed on).

The night before the race,  we found some pasta at Fletcher’s restaurant in the Captain Cook hotel.  Oh yeah,  and we found some beer too!  Carbs,  gotta have it!

We woke up to pouring down rain but luckily  we had both brought our Disney ponchos with us so we were prepared.  Of all the races we have ran,  this is the first time we have had to run in the rain.  Can’t complain about that.  My Nike hat was also my saving grace.  I never run in a hat but it definitely kept the rain from hitting me full on!

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Not real pretty but very practical.  We ran the whole race in our ponchos!!

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We walked about 10 blocks to the starting line.  There was also a full marathon but it started at a different location at a different time.

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Most of the race was ran on a bike trail and had quite a few hills too.  We ran along a runway at one point and the rain and wind was the worst there.  Little did we know what was waiting for us after that!

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Seriously?  Did I sign up for a mud run and not realize it?  This muddy mess went on for about a mile!  Talk about dangerous.  Someone obviously didn’t think this course through.  We are on the left side in our white ponchos about half way up the picture.  I have a pink hat on.

After dealing with that mess,  we were rewarded with a moose sighting!  So we absolutely had to stop and take a selfie!

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Totally tourist thing to do!

Once back on the bike trail,  we made our way back to Anchorage and the finish line.  By then,  the rain had stopped but taking the ponchos off at that point would have taken up too much energy (which I had none left) so they stayed put!  I felt good overall throughout the whole race until close the end.  The downhills started bothering my left knee but it quickly came out of it once we were done with the race.

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After getting our medals and our t-shirts,  we visited the beer garden at the finish to enjoyed our free beer and some awesome cookies and cinnamon bread that they were handing out.  We didn’t hang around long though.   After being out in the rain and cold all morning,  I just wanted to get back to the hotel and take a hot shower!

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My overall finish time was 2:50:32.  Not a time to brag about,  by any means, but considering the hills,  the rain, the mud mile and the moose,  I can’t be too upset about it!  Plus it was in ALASKA!! How cool is that?

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It is hard to believe that after all the planning and anticipating that my Alaska trip is over already.  We had such a great trip and I was surprised by how beautiful it is there.  Not so sure I would want to visit in the winter but it was absolutely gorgeous in the summer.

The trip started off a little rocky with bad weather in Minneapolis.  Once we landed,  we were running through the airport to catch our connection.  Good thing we caught it since it was the only flight out that day to Anchorage.  I was pleasantly surprised at the gate when I was upgraded to first class.  Being a Starwood Platinum member definitely came in handy!  Michel wasn’t upgraded since we were flying on separate tickets but she insisted I take it and enjoy!  So I did!!

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My veggie omelet and croissant.  I really wanted to order a drink but it just seemed too early for a beer.  Never thought I would say that!  :)

After settling into our hotel and hitting the expo,  we shopped around town a little bit and had a late lunch.

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But we didn’t have any of that!  All the peppers and onions cooking smelled good but I just wasn’t so sure how good the actual sausage would be.

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There was even a little Russian shop.  And no,  you can’t really see Russia from there!

We actually ran in to my seatmate from the plane when we were walking around town.  How random is that?  A strange guy waving at us on the street corner…..awkward!  Until I realized who he was.

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The view from our hotel room

Being the Summer Solstice,  it didn’t  get completely dark out at night.  We had to pull the heavy curtains at night.   It was so weird.  I kept getting up at random times to look outside.  Almost like I didn’t believe it would actually stay light out.  :)

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The next day,  we took a bus trip to Portage Glacier.

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It was about a 2 hour bus ride and an hour boat ride.  We also stopped at a wildlife conservation on the way back.

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Luckily,  this was the only bear that we saw on the whole trip and it was behind a fence so it couldn’t eat us!  You may think I am being rather dramatic about the whole bear eating us thing but I have proof that I am not.  Michel spotted this sign at Kenai Fjords National Park one day.  I must admit that I laughed out loud quite a bit at this!!  Probably not the intended reaction though!

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We had awesome weather throughout the whole trip (except for the morning of the race but more on that in the race recap post).  We could even see the tip of Mount McKinley from the hotel one afternoon.

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If you look really close along the ridge of the green,  you can see what looks like a cloud coming out it (more to the left than the right of the picture).  Yep,  that’s Mt. McKinley.  I saw it.  That is all that matters,  right.  Definitely hard to see!!

I still have pictures of a day trip to Seward that we took and a race recap to be posted shortly.  Just didn’t want to over do it all in one post!!

Blame the wine

Last Saturday,   I attended the Vintage Indiana Wine Festival in downtown Indy at Military Park.   Michel and I bought a package deal through the JW Marriott that included 2 tickets and a night stay after the event.  We met up with one of my coworkers and my sister was there too with a group of her friends.

I started out trying to be a good blogger and take plenty of pictures of everything to share but that didn’t last long.  I blame the wine!!!

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Once we settled in to a spot in the shade,  we bought a cheese tray so we wouldn’t be tasting all that wine on an empty stomach  (that wasn’t enough food to fend off all the wine I ingested!!!).

There were over 25 Indiana wineries on site and several food trucks set up.  They had a stage with live entertainment all day long too.   You could taste any or all of the wine that the wineries had to offer.

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(still sober in this picture)

After a few of the tasting is where all my good blogging plans faded in to the distance!

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Not long after we began tasting,  we ran in to my sister and her friends.

It was a beautiful day to be outside,  traipsing around,  drinking wine!

All the pictures at this point turned in to selfies that I didn’t even remember half of until I checked my phone the next morning (yeah,  that is how much fun I had!!)!!

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See what I mean?  But it was so much fun!!

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Unfortunately,  Michel and I didn’t make it past dinner time.  I passed out as soon as we got back to our room.  By the time morning rolled around,  I felt pretty good.  I guess a ton of sleep was all that I needed to feel human again.

We had such a good time that we will definitely go back next year.  I will just have to pace myself next time!!

 

Huge hit

Yesterday was National Running Day so,  naturally,  I had to celebrate by running.  Shocker,  I know!  I ran 6 miles and I am still trying to push my mileage since the Alaska half marathon is about 3 weeks away.

The month of May flew by.  Every weekend was full of some type of activity.  Grad parties,  graduation,  dance recitals.

My sister did an awesome job on my niece’s grad party.  She even had a photo booth which was a huge hit!

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We even benefited from all the leftover food and candy from the candy bar!

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The party was almost a month ago and we are still eating leftover candy!

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All that partying wore the old dog out!  Here he is sleeping in his favorite spot.  In the truck!

The month of June is going to be just as busy for me.   This weekend we are attending the Wine Festival in Indy and I can’t wait.  #drunkenweekend!!  Then 2 weeks later I leave for Anchorage.  No wonder the summer goes by so quickly!

Being a sloth

Yes,  I am still alive and kicking.  Just not blogging lately.  I really haven’t done anything exciting to blog about so you should really thank me for not boring you with my everyday boring activities!  I have been hitting the treadmill harder recently.  I ran 79 miles for the month of April which is great considering I only ran 45 miles in March.  I have less than 2 months to get ready for the Anchorage half marathon and I hear that it is hilly!  It will definitely be a challenge for me but I am so excited to check out Alaska!!

The weather here has started to change for the better.  After the horrible winter that we had,  I am trying to take advantage of all this nice,  sunny weather so far.

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Grilling out is one of my favorite things about this weather but I have learned that this picture is the reason why I am not allowed to be in charge of the grill.   OOPS!!  I like my dogs burnt but not that burnt!!!  I still ate it though.  Didn’t want it to go to waste!

We bought some expensive filets for the grill tonight and by no means was I allowed to touch them.  Fine by me!

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They were absolutely amazing!  The little furball we call Riley made sure I remembered him too.  And yes,  I ate dinner in cupcake PJ’s and I make no apologies for it.  My usual uniform on the weekends!

The months of May and June are shaping up to be pretty busy for me.  I am used to being a sloth on the weekends so I better suck it up and deal!  Grad parties, graduation, dance recitals, wine festival, and Alaska.  No wonder summer goes so much faster than winter!!  It’s more fun,  for sure!

Get Lucky Half Marathon March 2014

I let my friend talk me into running a half marathon in Chicago in March……..What was I thinking?  Every time I think of March,  I think of spring and that couldn’t be further from the truth!  I can honestly say that I have never had my eyes begin to freeze like they did the morning of this race.  BBRRRR!!!

However,  I was excited to spend some quality time with my BFF.  It is always great to catch up!

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We even did a little sightseeing.  I have been to Chicago tons of times but I have never been to the “Bean”.

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My attempt at being artistic.

It didn’t take me any time to collect my packet and sweatshirt.  It was a very small expo.

We carb loaded at the Italian Village and I must admit that it was an early night for us.  A day of work and travel just wore us out!

We paid for shuttle tickets at the expo so in the morning,  we hopped on a school bus to take us to the start.  The temperature at this time was below freezing.  And to think I almost didn’t pack my gloves!!

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Once at the start,  we had about 30 minutes to wait.  I was surprised that the race didn’t play the national anthem before we took off.  That is the first race I have attended that didn’t do that.  Weird!

The course took us along Lake Michigan.  It was so cold that we had to dance around patches of black ice on the path.  My running has been slacking this year so I knew I would struggle but Michel wouldn’t leave me.  I felt bad holding her back since she has been running so well.

I was ready to throw in the towel and walk at mile 7.  I was convinced I couldn’t do it anymore but that little annoying voice in my head reminded me that if I walked,  it would take me longer to finish and I would be in the cold longer!  Running from the cold will always win with me.  It might not be a fast run but it is faster than a walk.

Every step from mile 7 until the finish was a mental game.  About mile 11,  my eyes and my sweat started to freeze.  Such a strange feeling!!!  The last mile,  I just tucked in behind Michel and put my head down and ran.  Even that close to the finish I questioned if I could do it.  Once we crossed the finish line,  we grabbed some snacks and headed for the beer.

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I am a huge fan of beer but not so much of standing outside in the freezing cold drinking it.  I chugged my beer and half of hers so we could find our way back to the shuttle bus and get out of the cold.

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My official finish time was 2:41:12.  That was with a short bathroom break at mile 6.  My Nike app had my time at 2:38:02.  Considering that my training has been non-existent,  I didn’t think that was too terribly bad.  I have definitely learned that cold weather races aren’t for me,  no matter how good they sound at the time!

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