Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Irish Festival Fun

Another summer bucket list item checked off our list! And best of all, it was a fun day for Bridget and her cousins as well as our extended family.  So many wonderful activities in Cleveland.

#14 check!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kayaking on Lake Erie

Alternate title could be I Never Knew My Arms Could Be So Tired.  Kayaking is exhausting.  Yet I had so much fun and can't wait to do it again.  All four of us rented kayaks from 41 degrees North.  Greg and Bridget were in a double kayak, while Meg and I each had our own.  I was slow and disorganized as a paddler, but soon got the hang of it and now I can't wait to do it again!

#15 check!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend in Put-in-Bay

As part of our Summertime Bucket List, we wanted to spend the day in Put-in-Bay.  Meg's friend from college joined us and we couldn't believe how much fun we had.  I didn't know what to expect, but soon found out that we can have fun anywhere, doing just about anything!

As all northern Ohioans know, the Jet Express is the quickest way to get to the islands.  What a fun way to arrive.  We landed in the town square, grabbed our obligatory golf cart, and headed out for our island adventure. We drove around the island as if we had a purpose, stopped in some strange places (one bartender generously gave Bridget a bag of cheetos), had lunch at an open air BBQ joint, visited a winery (where we had the funniest cheese tray), and managed to find a bar or two for some interesting people watching and to have snacks.  When Greg bought our round trip tickets, he had to state the time we'd be coming back.  When I heard him say 9:30pm, I thought "No way can we entertain ourselves THAT long on such a tiny island."  Well, I was wrong.  We just managed to sprint back to the boat in time to board!

We can now check off #10! Done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Surprise From My Coworkers

After completing the 50-state challenge, my coworkers surprised me with this beautiful cake and a plaque to hang in my office commemorating the wonderful adventure I had with my family.

Monday, July 7, 2014

50 States Completed

All 50 are done.  What started out as a conversation on a bar napkin in 2008 soon turned out to be a wonderful, yet daunting, challenge.  And we did it.  As a family.  Since completing Hawaii in June, we've had several conversations regarding which race we liked the most - which was more challenging or family-friendly or had the best medal or the best finish line food.  It's hard to answer these questions because we had so much fun tackling the distances and races and providing the girls with educational opportunities that you can only achieve through travel.

So here's a few of my favorite categories:

  • Best race with husband.  Hands down it would the Arkansas adventure race.  Scared the holy hell out of me.  I had never been mountain biking.  I hadn't been canoeing since I was 16 (don't even think about doing the math!).  And I most certainly was impaired when it came to reading a compass and actually finding my way in and out of a forest.  But Little Rock was awesome.  We visited the world's biggest nacho cheese festival, watched the Arkansas Razorbacks football game at a local bar listening to everyone say "Woo pig sooey" over and over.  And we had fun as a couple.
  • Best race with Megan.  This is a tough one.  I loved running side by side with her in the University of Notre Dame Sunburst 5k race where she complained the whole time until hearing the band playing on the field, sprinted, and beat me by 4-5 seconds! It was also awesome to see her finish 3rd in her age group at the Savannah Halloween 5k race.  A beautiful course, but the best part was she wore he medal the entire weekend, except when she showered! Finally, it could have been the Rhode Island 6-hour Ultra race, where she sat in the car between my 2.5 mile laps, came over to cheer me as I came around the corner, and then be greeted by me at the finish line where I said, "Ive had enough of this running. Let's go shopping at Nordstrom's."  And that's exactly what we did.  She was always my biggest cheerleader, regardless of the race distance or how boring the day would eventually become.
  • Best race with Bridget.  Along the way, Bridget and I started the tradition of running a Halloween race.  We would dress up and, in the beginning, I would push her in the jogging stroller.  Our race in New Mexico, the stroller didn't show up in time for the race (no thanks to United!).  Greg got on the web, found a jogging stroller rental place, and had a replacement stroller delivered to my hotel.  He did all this from Cleveland!  In Seattle, she ran her first kids race, which was a 1-mile fun run.  We were dressed up as two Draculas and she kicked ass! We've run 3 more races since then and she even completed her first 5k locally and, of course, it was a Halloween race. For race experience, it melted my heart that after I won 3rd place in my age group, I received a trophy for the Alice in Wonderland Little Ruell 10k race in Oklahoma.  Bridget carried my trophy around the entire weekend - she even held on to it while sleeping in her car seat!
  • Best family vacation.  This is a tough one.  Hawaii for obvious reasons.  Alaska was pretty cool, too, especially being greeted by Bridget at the finish line holding a bouquet of the longest-stemmed dandelions I've ever laid my eyes on. But the funnest of the all was at the most magical place on earth - Disneyworld.  I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2009. I wasn't trained properly and that was reflected in my horrible 2:40 finish.  But the race opened up the MGM Studio Park for the runners and their families only.  We got to meet ALL the princesses, take tons of Disney character pictures, enjoy the rides and eat some of the most unhealthy food on the planet.  It was a wonderful family vacation had by all of us.
  • Best finish line food.  Another tough question.  The Ann Arbor 10k had fresh fruit by Whole Foods, which was such a delight, and fresh-baked breads from Zingerman's.  Yum!  The Des Moines, Iowa half marathon had an amazing smorgasbord of deliciousness as well, but the Prairie Fire half marathon in Kansas had piping hot Krispie Kreme donuts and fresh, locally roasted coffee at the finish line.  Now that's why I run.
  • Best schwag.  Hands down, I loved the Portland, Oregon Freshwater Trust Triathlon for the schwag.  Each finisher received a hat (that I still wear everywhere), a stainless steel water bottle, and a pint of Descheutes.  Second place would go to the Ironman 70.3 Honu triathlon in Hawaii, where we received hat, shirt, and the best tasting Maui potato chips made on this earth!
  • Best scenery. The Crazy Horse half marathon and the Park City Half Marathon tie for this category.  Both races took my breath away.  We loved Mount Rushmore and Rapid City, South Dakota.  Would even go there again! In Park City, I got to watch the Tour of Utah and meet Bob Roll (swoon - if you're a cycling/Bobke fan).  They were both had outstanding organization, race volunteers, and amenities.  I would run both of these races again and highly recommend others enter as well.  
  • My favorite race experiences.  It wasn't the distance that made the race special.  And I've run big races and really small races.  I definitely like the small, hometown races the best, without a doubt.  I loved the Bill Luti 5-Miler. I ran cross country in high school so this race was even more neat.  Bill Luti was the high school cross country coach for 4 decades.  He stood at the 2-mile mark and yelled out the time.  I heard so many people yell out "Thanks, Coach Luti" that it truly made the race experience wonderful.  I also loved the Jerry Zucker Metric Century Plus Ride, where I met George Hincapie.  I rode for 69 miles with two wonderful women, who were 20 years older than me and could kick my ass in cycling.  Truly humbling and rewarding experience.  But I will never forget my first marathon - the PF Chang's Marathon in Phoenix, Arizona.  I had no idea what to expect and yet I was nervous and excited at the start line and overjoyed at the finish line.  Greg and Megan greeted me and he gave me a beautiful Tiffany necklace to congratulate me.
It's been a wonderful challenge and I count my blessings that I was able to do this with my family and in good health (good health is an arbitrary phrase, you know).  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bridging to Brownies

My little girl is growing way too fast.  As parent, how many times do we say that? The same day we returned from our Hawaii trip, Bridget had her Daisy ceremony where she "bridged" over to Brownies.  Such a sweet ceremony and so neat to see this mean something to her.

Monday, June 30, 2014

An Ocean Wedding

While in Maui, we would celebrate our 10th anniversary.  A pretty big milestone, you know.  We got married on 6-5-04, a very easy date to remember.  What I couldn't anticipate was the surprise that would await me.

After enjoying a nice morning at the pool, Greg told me he had booked a massage for me around 1:00pm.  As soon as my massage concluded, the masseuse greeted me with a card that explained we were having a vow renewal on the beach and there would be a dress waiting for me.

Girls getting ready.

Greg had arranged for an oceanside wedding, a photographer to take family photos (which we've been wanting to do for awhile), and a back-up minister.  The best surprise is that he and Megan had been conspiring for months to do this...and she got her minister license so that she could perform the ceremony! In 2004, she walked down the aisle with me and in 2014 she would be the minister.  Hysterical!

These are just a few of my favorite pictures.  What a wonderful surprise!

Afterwars, we were famished.  The sunset vow renewal meant that it was after 8pm and it was time to eat! Greg had made reservations at the italian restaurant at the Four Seasons.  On our walk over to the hotel, we popped in at the Maui film festival and Meg got to be up close with Emma Roberts.  May have been the highlight of her trip! Since it was getting close to our reservation time, we headed over to the Four Seasons for what may be one amazing meal.  We even tried a new drink - an Italian Shandy, which was a Perioni with Lemoncello...Mmmm!