Monday, July 27, 2015

On the Run: MOTTEP LIFE Walk 10K 2015

Look at this amazing group of people!  I had the pleasure of spending Saturday morning with them on Belle Isle for the MOTTEP LIFE Walk 5K/10K.  It was a hot, humid morning but that didn't stop RUNdetroit Flight Club from coming out and giving it their all on the race course.  Flight Club members took OA male and female in the 5K, along with a few age group awards.  I took OA female in the 10K.  There were also several PR's earned.  And when one member was feeling the effects of the heat during the 10K, two others stayed with her.  Making sure she was safe and finishing together was more important than times and paces.  That's teamwork at its finest.  

I ran MOTTEP last year for the first time.  I loved that it was small and everyone (volunteers, supporters, runners) was so friendly and supportive.  That's what brought me back again this year.  It's also a charity race, with proceeds going towards Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program, and I like to participate in races that benefit local organizations.  

Last year the race was staged at Belle Isle Casino.  Due to a Red Bull racing event this weekend, it was moved to Flynn Pavilion and the course was modified slightly.  I got there early for parking and packet pickup.  The shirts are unisex cotton so they run large.  This year I ordered a youth medium and it seems to fit just right!  

I did my mile warm-up, followed by some activation drills (toe touches, air squats, walking lunges).  I got in a few strides.  Richard Bernstein, who has completed 17 marathons and is legally blind, gave a short speech.  We waited for traffic on the course to clear.  Finally the race started.  I was able to run the first mile and a half with my friend Roger, who was running the 5K.  My goal was to run a 6:45 pace.  I hit 6:45 exactly for my first split.  (Thank you, Roger!)  In that second mile, however, he started to speed up.  I kept up the pace until he turned off but then I slowed down a little once I was on my own.  Overall mile 2 was still ok (6:47).

After that I started to gradually slow down.  It was SO hot and I was nearing the stretch of island that is more isolated.  Plus, although it was a race, it didn't feel like one.  The leader was so far ahead that I hadn't seen him since the first turn.  I knew nobody was chasing me.  Motivation was dwindling.  I hit a windy pocket.  Mile 3 was a little slower (6:50).  I was surprised to see my friend Leah who was out running with Be Bold Crew. She cheered me on, which was a nice boost!

Around the 4-mile marker there was a little loop with a few course marshals.  Humans! They waved and clapped and gave me directions.  I would have even just taken the directions at that point.  I was so happy to see people!  Mile 5 (6:57) was definitely my hardest.  I was trying to tell my legs to run faster but they just wouldn't turn over.  The heat was getting to me.  I kept thinking about how I had more miles to run after the race so maybe I shouldn't push so hard.  But it was a race so I had to push!  It's such a mental game.

When I hit the 5-mile marker, I forced myself to pick up the pace.  I could tell the course was going to be short so I figured I only had one more mile.  I felt a sense of urgency to finish.  My legs were turning over and I was driving my arms.  I was going to finish strong!  I turned the corner for the final stretch and could see the finish line.  This was it!  I was pushing and then realized, "Damn, that's a long way!"  I'd like to say I kept running hard but it was a LONG stretch.  I ran past a couple of guys and they just looked at me.  5K finishers were walking past without a word.  I think a car rolled past me.  I thought I'd never get to the finish line.  Thankfully Coach Stefanie was there with her cowbell.  Once I heard her and saw the rest of the team I picked it up and finally crossed the finish line.  

The 5K runners excitedly shared their race stories with me and we cheered on the rest of the 10K runners.  Then we received our awards (a different medal).  The woman giving out awards was hilarious!  There was also a DJ who was playing theme music for each award recipient.  It was the best awards ceremony ever.  I think they need to hire themselves out for more events.  I'd love them at my next birthday party.


6:35/mile (official results)
6:50/mile (Garmin results based on actual distance of 5.97 miles)
CLIF Mojo Bar, banana 

Nobody Really Cares if You Don't Go to the Party / Courtney Barnett
Dead Brains / Jessica Hernandez
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
Random Name Generator / Wilco
Strangers / Langhorne Slim & the Law
Swell Content / Speedy Ortiz
Shake it Off / Taylor Swift
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
The Feast & the Famine / Foo Fighters
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train
Man / Neko Case

After the awards ceremony I changed my shirt and shoes, had a CLIF Shot and some water.  My friend Dave and I headed out across the MacArthur Bridge, down Jefferson, and picked up the River Walk.  I had another 9 miles to finish my long run.  We ran the first 3.5 or so together before Dave took a break.  I continued along the River Walk until I'd hit 4.5 miles and I turned around.  I was feeling really good.  Until I wasn't.  It was incredibly hot and there's no shade anywhere.  It was nice to catch a breeze along the water but it was hardly helping at that point. The last 2 miles were brutal, with the last .25 being so hard I actually stopped, unsure I could finish.  

When I finally got back to my car I saw Dave there.  It's always so nice to see those familiar Flight Club wings!  I was glad to know he made it back safely, too!   

All in all it was a great morning of racing and running.  I was happy to be with my RUNdetroit family.  

Happy legs, happy heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Road Trip 2015

Brian and I recently embarked on a 9-day road trip through Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts.  We dubbed it our #BaseballBrewsBeats trip.  Our main destination was Solid Sound - Wilco's music and arts festival in North Adams, MA.  Last time we went we drove straight there, which took a good 12-13 hours.  This year we decided to break it up, stopping in Cleveland and Ithaca on the way; Cooperstown and Rochester on the way back.   We hit several breweries, saw the Tigers play in Cleveland, and went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  We were able to run in some very cool places and found some good food along the way.  

Here are some highlights from each of the cities we visited on our road trip.

Cleveland, OH

We left on a Tuesday around noon.  Our first stop was Cleveland.  I sometimes forget that it's only a few hours away from Detroit.  We stayed in a great location, only half a mile from Progressive Field.  The House of Blues was down the street from our hotel (Holiday Inn Express).  For dinner we went to Great Lakes Brewing (brewery #1).  The place has great ambience but the food was not very good.  Brian wasn't impressed with his burger.  They had a vegan patty but the bun wasn't vegan so I opted for an asparagus salad.  It was tasty but not very filling.  

Our server was NOT friendly.  She seemed annoyed that I was asking questions about menu items.  Or maybe she didn't like us because we were Tigers' fans in Cleveland.

Wednesday morning we got up early to get our run in before hitting the road.  I had a speed workout that day - 5 x 1 mile tempo pace with easy warm-up and cool-down miles.  The day before we'd found the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge near the field.  It's just under a mile long.  We ran to the stadium and looped around to warm up, I did my intervals back and forth on the bridge, then we ran back a different route to the hotel for a cool-down.  The distance on the bridge was perfect I didn't have to worry about traffic.  There was some wind and elevation but all in all, not bad.  

Breakfast in Cleveland was Starbucks oatmeal.  The last Starbucks we'd see for a while!  Onward to Ithanca!

Ithaca, NY

Let me just say we LOVED Ithaca!  Next time we go to Solid Sound we'll probably stop here again.  We stayed in a beautiful B&B - The William Henry Miller Inn.  The house was lovely, the innkeeper was sweet as could be, and the location was great for running and getting to the Finger Lakes.  

Although Ithaca is home to Moosewood, we wanted to hit brewery #2 so we went to Ithaca Beer Company.  The food was much better here than at Great Lakes!  I was able to have a Vegan Brew Burger (house-made mushroom, tempeh, and grain) with a side salad.  They also had a fry flight with vegan sauces.  Yes please!

The next morning we went for our run.  Just a block and a half from our inn we picked up the Cascadilla Gorge Trail (700+ feet of elevation!).  It was beautiful!  

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

When we emerged we were on Cornell's campus.  We ran through there a bit and then picked up a wood-chipped trail that took us around Lake Beebe.  From there we ran through campus again to Buffalo Street, which took us straight downhill back to our inn.  

Then it was breakfast time.  This was THE best breakfast we've had at a B&B.  And we've stayed at a lot of B&Bs in the past 13 years!  We had homemade pumpkin cranberry bread [vegan] and poached pears to start.  Brian opted for the French Toast while I had oatmeal with a homemade English muffin, topped with strawberry jam.  I thanked the innkeeper profusely for being so accommodating and her response was, "Honey, you're in Ithaca!"  I only wish every stop on our trip was like Ithaca!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the evening desserts!  Nestled among the cookies and brownies was a beautiful, rich, chocolate wacky cake.  Mmmm. 

If only we could have eaten more food here!  But we were stuffed and it was time to move on.

North Adams, MA

Brian and I arrived in Massachusetts on Thursday night.  For dinner we went to the restaurant that looked most promising for vegan options - PUBLIC Eat+Drink. There was a vegan chili on the menu so I ordered that and a salad.  Both ended up being really small. By small I mean child-size.  Good thing I'd eaten well in Ithaca!

After dinner we stopped outside of MASS MoCA to take a photo of the Wilco letters.  As we were standing there we heard a familiar song and realized that Wilco was doing their sound check in the field below (the festival didn't open until the next day).  We couldn't see them but we could hear them perfectly!  Brian and I stood in the parking lot of an auto-repair shop for about 30 minutes and listened.  It was awesome.  

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

On Friday morning we got up early to run.  We were actually staying in Williamstown, near Williams College, which was about a mile from our hotel.  We ran the hilly route to campus and did a nice easy exploratory run, checking out the buildings.  The college was established in 1793 so the buildings were pretty amazing to see!

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

For breakfast we went to Brewhaha in North Adams.  I was able to get a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats with raisins, cinnamon, and brown sugar plus a darn fine cup of coffee.  (It's worth noting that they have "Vegans Against the World" Spinach Wraps!)  

Brian and I took it easy during the day, as the festival didn't start until the early evening. The first night we mostly wanted to see Speedy Ortiz and Wilco play.  That gave us plenty of time to walk around a bit inside the museum and on the grounds.  We checked out the merch tent and bought ponchos (the weather for the weekend was not looking good).  For dinner both Friday and Saturday we got wraps from Vegetarian Oasis (a food truck from Manhattan).  I had an avocado veggie wrap the first night; falafel the next.  They were both really delicious, healthy, and filling.  

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Both of the bands were amazing!  Speedy Ortiz was new to us before they joined the Solid Sound lineup and quickly became a new favorite.  They were really fun live, too.  We met the band after and talked to everyone about some of their shows in Detroit.  Hopefully they'll be back soon so we can see them again.

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Wilco played an all-acoustic set Friday night.  We were back pretty far since we didn't feel like fighting all the people who had been there for hours with their camp chairs and family-sized blankets.  (Don't EVEN get me started!)  But it was all good.  I couldn't see but I could hear and that's what matters.  They still had another show the next night anyway.  We stuck around after Wilco's set for a really cool video installation by Clifford Ross in one of the courtyards.  The band Real Estate accompanied the artwork. 

Saturday was a gorgeous morning, perfect for a long run.  Brian and I drove to Adams, MA to run on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.  The trail is paved, tree-lined, and quite peaceful. I recommend it if you're ever in the area.

Then it was another day at the festival.  Although the morning was beautiful, things took a turn for the worse later on.  Thankfully we had bought our ponchos the day before!

Because it was chilly (and rainy later on), we spent more time inside the museum on Saturday than the other days.  We saw some really cool art exhibits, pop-up music performances, and a comedy show.  Before the rain we saw Cibo Matto play and learned that they are crazy awesome!  Due to an impending storm, the festival organizers moved some of the shows ahead one hour, which turned out to be a good thing.  The light, steady rain that fell throughout Wilco's performance turned into a downpour as soon as they finished playing.  Perfect timing!

Sunday is always a light day at Solid Sound.  We were supposed to go on a Patagonia-sponsored hike but it was cancelled because of the storm.  That actually worked out well because it gave us time to get to the festival early and get in line for the Wilco book signing that was just announced that morning.  We'd met most of the band last time at Solid Sound but not Jeff Tweedy (the singer) so this was pretty exciting!  It was another rainy day so we went to more inside performances until it was time for the last show - Tweedy & Friends.  We got a great spot for this one, right up by the stage.  It rained a bit but not bad.  The show was amazing!  It was a great way to end the weekend.  

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

For our last night there we stayed at The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA, which is hands-down my favorite inn anywhere. We lucked out getting to stay there for one night because the Solid Sound bands book up the entire place for the festival.  There happened to be a few rooms available for the last night so we moved from our other inn to this one because WHY WOULDN'T WE?!?  (Seriously, just look at the website.)  

I went for my run Monday morning and came back to find Brian sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee.  As I stood there playing with my Garmin, a couple of people were coming down the porch steps.  Finally I looked up and realized that one of them was Jeff Tweedy!  He was looking at me.  I just stood there and stared at him for a few seconds, unsure what to do.  I had to do something!  So I waved.  I was 5 feet away from him and I waved.  He waved back.  I kept looking at him and I moved my mouth like I was going to say something.  He waited, looking slightly perplexed.  Finally I said, "Thanks Jeff."  Jeff said, "Thank YOU."  Then he turned and walked to away.  (Wow, I'm a dork!)  Brian was watching this whole thing unfold.  Ask him to tell the story sometime.  

Then we had breakfast and waved good-bye to The Porches.

Cooperstown, NY

When Brian booked our stay at the Landmark Inn, the woman he spoke with on the phone told Brian they would be sure to have something vegan at breakfast.  Clearly some wires were crossed, however, because upon our arrival, the innkeeper seemed shocked to hear I was vegan!  I assured her I would be fine - I always have a backup oatmeal in my bag - but she thought perhaps the chef could do something for my "vegan situation."  It was so hard to keep a straight face!  Situation!  

The chef was wonderful and seemed thrilled to make pancakes for me.  They were delicious!  Then the innkeeper came over and saw them.  She couldn't believe mine looked just like "regular pancakes" and said she just doesn't get many "vegan...vegan...vegan eaters?" at the inn.  Oh wow.  Toto, we aren't in Ithaca anymore!

If you find yourself in Cooperstown for dinner, I'd recommend going to Mel's at 22 for the house-made Veggie Burger.  (There's also vegan ravioli on the menu.)  I called ahead to make sure the burger was vegan.  When we arrived our server checked in the kitchen to see which of their breads/buns were vegan and it turned out one of the cooks was vegan.  She prepared my burger and bun off the grill so it didn't touch anything else. It was one of the best burgers I've had; similar in taste and texture to the Stever McFever from Woodbridge Pub.  This, my friends, was a damn fine burger.

Our main reason for going to Cooperstown was to visit Brewery Ommegang (brewery #3) - beer tasting and tour of the campus.  It's an amazing place!  Built on an old hops farm, it reminds me of a winery without the grapes.  I'm not much of a beer drinker but I found a few that I would have again.  

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

The other reason for an overnight in Cooperstown was to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It was a cool place to check out.  I'm glad we went - we learned a lot of cool things about baseball - but I think I'm good now for this lifetime!

While there I had a speed workout on the schedule.  Cooperstown is hilly, there aren't sidewalks everywhere, and the roads that are there are busy.  I was having a hard time finding a good place to do a 10-mile interval run (warm up-3 mile-2 mile-1 mile- cool down).  I finally settled on a busy 1.5-mile stretch of rolling hills and just ran back and forth.  It was hardly ideal but it was about the best I could do.  I lost count of the number of times I ran past the same guy on his tractor at the Farmers' Museum!  *Note to future self: Do not do intervals in Cooperstown.*

Rochester, NY

Our last stop before heading home was Rochester.  It was different from Ithaca but I think I loved it just as much!  We stayed in the Strathallan, which was very modern and updated.  It was less than a mile to a vegan restaurant, about 1.5 miles to a great running trail.  Close to museums and restaurants.  We walked or ran everywhere.

For dinner went to the Red Fern, which Brian found online before we arrived.  Everything there is vegan so I'd been looking forward to it all week!  Brian and I each ordered a sandwich and shared so we could each try them both.  We also got some snacks - Kale Chips and Pickled Things.  Both of them were tasty.  The sandwiches were delicious - not greasy or overly saucy.  Just right.  I think think I have to say the Buffalo Bleu had a slight edge over the ABLT.  It was probably the cabbage.  So good!

Buffalo Bleu, Balsamic Field Greens

ABLT (Avocado, Bacon [tempeh], Lettuce, Tomato), Mac Salad

Confetti Cookie, Garden Cake
I couldn't resist the deserts so I bought two with the intention of saving one for the next day.  I decided they'd be best fresh and ate them both that night.  They were delicious!  Boy, was I glad I had a run the next morning.  8 miles to burn off the sugar was just what I needed!  For that run, Brian and I ran through downtown Rochester about 1.5 miles and picked up the Genesee River Trail. This is a lovely paved train that runs along the Genesee River.  Along the trail are bridges, train tracks, and trees.  It was really pretty.  I did an out and back, which seemed to put me somewhere on the University of Rochester campus.  Then we ran the 1.5 miles back through downtown to our hotel.  I liked getting to see some of the city but also having the serenity of the river trail.

While in Rochester we visited George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company.  We learned some things about cameras but my favorite part was touring his house.  The man was a real life Jay Gatsby!  It was a gorgeous home.  I'd highly recommend taking the time to visit if you're in Rochester.

After that it was time to head back to reality.  We had an 7-hour drive ahead of us to return to Michigan.  Thankfully we were able to find Starbucks on the way home to keep me awake!

One of the best parts of this road trip was being able to run in new places.  I loved exploring different cities and towns, taking in scenery, and making my routes as I ran them.  

Are you running in any new cities this summer?  Tell me about it!

Friday, July 10, 2015

MOTTEP LIFE Walk Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the MOTTEP LIFE Walk giveaway!   I used to choose the lucky winner.  Congratulations goes to . . .

Good luck at the race, Roger!  I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, July 6, 2015

MOTTEP LIFE Walk Giveaway

For those of you who might be feeling the post-holiday/back-to-work blues, how about a little giveaway on this Monday afternoon?  Today I have another race entry, again courtesy of my amazing friends at RUNdetroit.  

The MOTTEP LIFE Walk 5K/10K takes place on Belle Isle on Saturday July 25th.  The event is a benefit for organ and tissue donation education.  I ran the 10K last year for the first time and loved the experience.  It was a small race, the volunteers were great, and the post-race atmosphere was a lot of fun.  I expect it to be just as awesome this year!  The location was changed from the Casino to Flynn Pavillon.  Course maps can be found here.  

You can find more information about the race on their website.

For a chance to win, leave a comment below telling me why you want to run this race.

Winner will be chosen Friday morning.  Please check the blog on Friday to see if you won.  Good luck!