The Places Running Takes Us

Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write my latest attempt at literary mediocrity, only to find this is my 500th Post!

Say WHAT???!!!

Yes ma’am. 500 posts about running, Disney, dogs, travel, opinions, memories, reviews, recaps, and a general overview of all things shenanigans.  One name change, a couple of breaks, a few years later and here we are.  What have we learned along the way?  Not much.  That’s okay though because it’s been a fun trip and I don’t plan on that trip coming to an end any time soon.

In honor of this not so momentous occasion, let’s dive back into the archives and take a look at where this crazy sport of running has taken me.  As a true Sagittarian, I have an ingrained love of travel.  So combining my two loves has always been a no-brainer.  So grab a margarita, step into the Black Dog People Mover, and enjoy the ride.

One Happy Wonder Mutt.

Vero Beach, Florida

Not exactly a destination running beach, but definitely a happy place for the Black Dog family.  Thanks to a family connection, we spent many a great weekend at a beautiful beach house walking some serious mileage along Vero Beach in Florida, conveniently located about 4 miles away from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.  The sand was too soft for running – unless you’re a glutton for punishment – but a decent hour’s walking in that stuff was enough to make you feel like you’d run a good half marathon.  Not to mention that if you went at the right time of year, the turtles are laying eggs all over the beach.

#adorbs

Washington D.C.

Once upon a time, a certain Grouper had the opportunity to attend a session at the FBI Academy in Quantico.  Just before he graduated, we had the chance – ironically on September 11th, 2010 – to run a memorial 5k that started/ended in Arlington VA, and ran through a small section of DC, including past the side of the Pentagon that was struck on that tragic day.  It was a bit surreal to say the least, and plenty of tears were shed as we slowed down passing the Pentagon.  To this day we are still so proud and honored to have been able to participate in such an amazing event.

All’s good in the Big Easy.

New Orleans

Where do I even begin with this wonderful city?  The people are SO fun, the food is out of this world, and the music?  All I can say is you’ve never heard such a mix of every genre out there.  Running along Canal Street can take you to Louis Armstrong Park, along the Mississippi, back to the French Market, (Bloody Mary to burn your lips off anyone?), up Bourbon Street, past Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Shop, (which sadly has become very commercialized), and through the French Quarter.  The roads and sidewalks are horrible running surfaces, but the color and flavor of the city cannot be beat.

Hang on little grapey friends.                              We’re on our way!

Napa, California

Being the wine freaks that we are, it was only a matter of time before we decided to fly the friendly skies to the west coast and indulge ourselves on all things grape.  The best part of staying in Napa is a miles long paved fitness trail that runs right through the main stretch of the town and continues into the start of the vineyards located in the center of the valley.  We visited in August, so while quite toasty for those of you more “thick-blooded”, we were right at home in the warmer temperatures.  And what’s better than being able to run off all of those wine induced calories?

Best. Bling. Ever.

Disney World

It always makes me smile to think of all the amazing people I’ve met simply by the need I’ve had to reign in the game show dollar machine I have for a brain and let what’s racing around in there spill out onto this blog.  Lisa is one of those people.  We may live 2,214 miles apart (give or take a few), but our common love for running has bonded us probably for life.  She is the hare to my turtle when it comes to pace, but having someone as obsessed about pace, finish times, and injuries as I am, makes all the conversations we have daily – thanks to Google chat – that much more fun.  We were finally able to run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half back in 2016 together, and to this day, even though it was my slowest half ever – because who can resist stopping for ever silly photo op possible? – it was one of my favorite races ever.

When it all comes down to it though, as much as I suffer from a never-ending case of wanderlust, I love coming home just as much.  Who wouldn’t with sunrises like this and little furry friends who are only too happy to keep you company on a cool tropical winter morning?

Home. Sweet. Home.

The best advice I can offer you is this:  explore the world.  There is so much out there to be seen, heard, tasted, and experienced and life is way too short not to do all of it.  Even if sometimes that experience means simply turning left instead of right.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Where is your favorite place to run?  Do you explore new places by running through them?  

Advertisements

These Wings Were Made to Fly

As I sit here crashed on my couch at Island Time Tiki Bar, Calypso taking up most of all the available cushion space,  it’s challenging to figure out where to start my recap of the Wings for Life World Run.  It wasn’t a typical “race” in any normal race terms.  Oh contraire, not in the least.  There was the usual mix of participants – serious runners (not me), weekend warriors (also not me), people just out to see what they could do (getting warmer), and just plain shenanigators (BINGO!).

shenanigator

Then there were the athletes being pushed in their wheelchairs, athletes pushing themselves in wheelchairs, and even an athlete making his way along with his cane.  The energy and anticipation at the start was palpable, due in no small part to the big screen broadcasting video of hundreds of thousands runners at their own start lines, 34 in all.  It was….well……pretty damn amazing awesomeness.

Participants - Action

This was the first race in a really, really long time that I had planned on going balls to the wall as much as I could.  The hubs was also running with me for the first time in a couple of years, and as he was nursing a hammy injury and a lingering case of the plague, we had to take that into account for our race strategy.

Excuse me, but did you say race strategy?  Who are you and what have you done with our Black Dog?

Well.  If we DID have a race strategy, it probably would have looked something like this:

  • run like a bat out of hell for the first 30 minutes when we knew the chase car would be starting
  • incorporate as many shenanigan making opportunities as possible
  • make up for the time spent causing shenanigating by running like hell again, at least until the next water stop along the route

I am happy to report this plan worked out pretty damn well for us!

After what seemed like an interminable length of time just trying to get out of the BB&T Center parking lot, (seriously, how big IS this damn lot?!), we finally made it out onto the scenic streets of Sunrise, FLA.  With NO sunglasses.

Lesson #1:  just because it looks like you won’t be running directly east, don’t ever trust your sense of direction that early in the morning.  Ever.

my eyes

Returning to the scene of the crime, we continued on our merry jaunt – happily knee pain free – for what seemed like an interminable length of time until we finally arrived at the first water stop.  Now, let me tell ya, these people know what they’re doing.  Mile 2, complete with Clif bars, Red Bull, H2O, Gatorade and portapotties.  With a line.  The dreaded portapotty line. Duhn, duhn, duuuuuhhhhnnnnnn…..

Portapotty_line

After making a valiant effort at patience – 30 seconds give or take – it was time to create a little suburban drama.  After quickly surveying the scene and knowing the chase car would be hot on our collective tails any moment, the command decision was made to…..well….blaze a new trail.  Right to the nearest bunch of bushes.  Completely runDisney style.  Hey, ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

peeing in the bushes

No elephants were violated in the taking of this picture.

As I not so discreetly did what I had to do and high-tailed it back to the road,  what do I see but the guy who had been standing in line in front of me headed for the same bushes.  With a big thank you and a thumbs up we passed like ships in the night and the hubs and I were back on our way.

No idea how the bush is currently doing….

I’d give you more specifics about the course, but since this area of Broward County is like another country to me, I can’t tell you where we were at just about any given moment.  What I can tell you is this:  the volunteers at the water  stops were amazing.  The cheering groups with their witty race signs were amazing.  The cops and PSA’s of the Sunrise Police Department were the best.  Not so awesomesauce?  That damn helicopter.

WFLWR chopper1

When that bad boy was flying overhead, you knew the chase car was stalking in the near vicinity.  Soon after stopping at the third water stop – complete with music blasting and a cheer squad – the hubby turns around and starts yelling at everyone to run for their lives.  At this point it seemed everyone around us had entered spaced-out zombie zone and had forgotten the little fact that we were being CHASED.  That is, until they saw the chase car slowly gaining ground.  What quickly ensued would have made Usain Bolt jealous.

cheetah-run_494_990x742.jpg

Aw crap.

And  just like that, our race was done.

WFLWR1

Actually, after walking another almost two miles to the next water stop it was done.  By then, the partymobiles shuttle buses had shown up to take everyone back to Party Central at the start.  But not before we took full advantage of the fact that our bus was one normally used for the students on the campus at the University of Miami.  And if you follow college sports at all, then you know there is no love lost between Miami Hurricane fans and that other school up in Gainesville.  Needless to say, we took full advantage of the situation this poor guy found himself in the middle of.  Poor guy.  Knew he was outnumbered from the start.  Didn’t even bother putting up a fight.

gatorboy

Oh Robert.  Poor, poor Robert.

Once we got back to the BB&T Center and got off our rather odoriferous mode of transportation, we were given some rather impressive bling, and were free to avail ourselves of all the bananas, oranges, water, and of course Red Bull, we could carry.  Meandering over to the runner’s village, we were free to stand in more crazy lines for tacos, beer, and even champagne.  The big screen was showing where the leading male and female Sunrise runners were out on the course, at that point currently battling baseball sized skeeters and some not so friendly Florida natives.  (Not really but it does add a little element of danger doesn’t it?)

gator

We didn’t stick around too long as it was getting quite toasty and the call of a nice long shower was singing its siren song.  Off to the homestead we went, but we were able to follow the rest of the race on the live-stream via the Wings for Life website.  Five and a half hours after the worldwide start, Giorgio Calcaterra was finally caught by the chase car outside Milan, Italy.  He ran an AMAZING 88.44 km (or 54.95 miles for those of metrically challenged).  The last female runner to be caught was Kaori Yoshida from Japan who was caught at the 65.71 km/40.83 mile mark, outside Takashima, Japan.

Sunrise was lucky enough to have the 10th female overall with Nathalie Vasseur from France.  She managed to hold off melting in the heat long enough to hold off the chase car until she hit 54.53km/33.88 miles.  Damn alligators never stood a chance against Miss Speedy Pants.

WFLWR winners

Sunrise winners Nathalie Vasseur and Simon Munyutu. (Photo courtesy of Wings for Life World Run Sunrise Facebook page.)

Looking back at the event now, it’s easy to see why so many people have returned each year.  In the three years since it’s inception, the Wings for Life World Run has seen an increase in participation each year.  The best part of all?  This year set a new record in the amount of money raised for spinal cord injury research – a whopping $7.4 million (yes MILLION!)  And when you see someone who has never taken a step, walk for the very first time due in part to the funds raised from this event, well, let’s just say it makes all the sweat, aches, pains, #brokeknees, and miles all worth it.

walking again

(Photo courtesy of Wings for Life World Run Facebook page.)

You can bet the hubby and I will be returning to this race next year, and we hope you’ll join us.  We’ll be causing as many shenanigans as possible on Sunday, May 7, 2017 once again on the edge of the Everglades.  The natives have promised to be on their best behavior.  Just don’t make the mistake of showing up in Florida Gator crap.  This time, we just may not let you on the bus. 🙂

WFLWR medal

Enjoy the ride.

Have you ever done a race with no actual finish line?  Raised money for charity?  Did it make the race feel more special?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South Florida Edition of Run Where I Live!

Because where I live is AWESOME….

#heavysigh

#heavysigh

Okay, well not EXACTLY here, but you get the general idea.

When Danielle asked me to be a part of the cool kid’s club, I played it, well, cool.  “Yeah, well, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.”  N-O-T.  It was actually more like this.

Whooooo hooooo!

Whooooo hooooo!

Along with a bunch of other equally cool kids, Danielle came up with the great idea of taking you on a virtual running tour where each of us live.  Cool, right?  Right? RIGHT???  Soooooo, I bet you’ll never guess where I’ll be taking you.  Go ahead.  Guess.  Guess again.  Nah really, guess.  No idea?  Heeeheeeheee, silly wabbits. Twicks are for the twopics.

Try saying THAT five times fast.

Uhhhh....

Uhhhh….

Once you untwist your tongue from your left ear, follow along with me as I take you on a short little journey NOT to the beach.  Sorry kids, I’m just keeping it real.  Real close.  Like across the street from my crib close.  Because the powers that be in my little corner of the universe were kind enough to provide us lowly residents with a dog-friendly, duck-friendly, dingo-friendly, well-marked running path.  (Actually I’m just guessing on the dingos.)

The dingos ARE the babies!

The dingos ARE the babies! HA!

So come along with me to a little cozy place called Coconut Creek, Florida.  More specifically, a lovely little spot known to the natives – well, everybody actually – as….cue drum roll here…..Sabal Pines Park.

See?  Sabal Pines Park.  The dingos are chillin' in the bushes.

See? Sabal Pines Park. The dingos are chillin’ in the bushes.

Coconut Creek – aka the Butterfly Capital the World – is doing it’s best to be a green city.  We get to reap the benefits by having numerous parks and walkways throughout our pretty little ‘burb, and Sabal Pines is no exception.  Located about five minutes from the north end of Fort Lauderdale, Sabal Pines has three baseball fields, one softball field, a couple of smaller ball fields for the smaller human units, and a couple of combination football/soccer fields.  ‘Cause, you know, us Americans are a little confused when it comes to what sport actually requires the use of feet.

Surrounding all this confusion, is a paved and concrete 1.15 mile path, marked approximately every 20-30 feet with…..wait for it…..PAW PRINTS.  Because we are JUST THAT AWESOME.

parkpath

Thought I was kidding about the paw prints, didn’tcha?

If you start at the conveniently marked start/finish line, and go toward the north end of the park and follow the path to the southwest, you’ll come out by the soccer fields.  Head south towards the water and guess what?  The locals will be only to happy to greet you with a flurry of feathers and quacking.  They often even get so excited, they just poop right on the spot!  So watch your step.  I like to consider it a stretch of a Spartan race.

Watch out for land mines.  They're not deadly, but tend to be bit slippery.  This is a public service announcement courtesy of Black Dog Productions.

Watch out for land mines. They’re not deadly, but tend to be a bit slippery. This is a public service announcement courtesy of Black Dog Productions.

As you run the path, you can always zoom your way into the main park building for pit stops and water.  There’s also bathrooms and a water fountain on the east side of the park near the tennis courts.  Two paws up for this one as the water is always nice and COLD.  That’s a BIG score when you’re running in 95+ degree heat.  The park rangers are also usually buzzing around in golf carts in case you need any help.  There’s also ample parking next to the tennis courts and by the main building near the big playground.  Remember not to leave anything of value in your car.  There have been a few burglaries over the years, even with all the traffic in and out of the park, so just be smart about it and leave your bling back at the home base.  You look fabulous in just sweat dahling.

I’ve found this little slice of park paradise to be perfect for timing Mr. Galloway’s Magic Mile, as you don’t necessarily have to have a GPS with you to confirm the exact distance.  It’s also great if you want to do so some quarter-mile repeats, as the pavement is marked at each – you guessed it – quarter mile!  Nice stuff, ain’t it?!

Overall, even though there’s not a lot of shady spots on this path, it’s clearly marked, flat, and not usually too crowded if there’s not a sporting event taking place.  The bathrooms are clean, the water is cold, and the natives are friendly.  What else could one possibly want?  You can even motor across the road and meet me in the pool for a nice post-workout cool down!  Just have your people call my people and they’ll see if I’m available.

Come on in, the water's fine!

Come on in, the water’s fine!

So that’s about it for a quick little running journey through the tropics.  If you ever happen to hyperspace to the northern end of Broward County and you’re looking for an easily accessible, well-hydratable, slightly poopy decorated running path, check out the ‘burbs and Sabal Pines Park.  I’ll be waiting for you at the end with a margarita and bowl of Moose Tracks in hand.  Because that is HOW WE ROLL here in the Creek.

Make sure you follow along on Danielle’s virtual tour of running HERE!  Her blog will have links to all kinds of cool places to run written by those peeps who know them best.  We even get to blast over to Aussie Land for a bit o’mate time!

Ready for some more running in the Sunshine State?  Your next stop on the Run Where I Live party train will be near our favoritest place ever.  Yes, we are headed to Orlando!  Yes, THAT Orlando!  The one with MICKEY!! So jump on board ’cause the train is departing.  Next stop, See Jess Run!  ALL ABOARD!!

 

Enjoy the ride.

If you’d like to make your hometown another stop on the Run Where You Live Road Trip, submit your link to Danielle at Live, Run, Grow, and she’ll gladly add you to the list!

Friday Funny

As the thermometer in my car hit 86 degrees at 5:30 yesterday afternoon, I realized what a smart decision it was – almost 20 years ago now, (yikes!) – to move to a more tropical kind of setting.  So in honor of my frozen friends to the north, my sympathies, and warmest hugs, go out to you.

FF Winter dogs

Enjoy the ride.

Hope your weekend doesn’t turn you into a popsicle!  And for Wonder Mutt’s sake, keep those transmissions from dragging too low!  Happy Friday faithful friends!