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2014 races

Posted by eemilla on February 20, 2015

After running the 2013 Runway 5k I spontaneously proposed running a 5k a month to my dear friend who agreed to join me.

Our first race was the The Hot Chocolate 10k, and I loved running the flat course until the last mile or so where it becomes a steep, convoluted uphill. Being slow and near the back I got to spend part of the climb huffing exhaust which really sucks.  The post race hot chocolate was delicious, and the pre-race flush toilets were handy.  I don’t like running in the cold and dark of winter as required by my work schedule, lack of gym equipment, and the Earth’s rotation, but I did plan to register for the 2015 race (although I found out at packet pick up that I had failed to do so).

February brought us the Frostbite 10k, and the shirt was premium quality. We opted for same day packet pick-up, and the line went quickly even though there were tons of people. The start seemed much delayed which is frustrating. The course was super hilly with the beginning of both the 10k and 5k races going up Howard Gap, and the 10k continued on Howard Gap to Jackson Rd. With the course being on such well traversed roads I understand that traffic control is difficult especially given the mid afternoon start, but it really stinks to run behind a vehicle (pun intended). This race is not one I would do again.

At the beginning of the 2014 Hot Chocolate Asheville High’s marching band played on an overpass, so when I saw the card for the Band Aid 8k I was down. Unfortunately both my running buddy and my childcare were busy so I changed my registration to the 5k as I had to push a jogging stroller and my daughter. The course is a good combination of hills, flats, and downhill around Asheville High, AB Tech, and Victoria Rd; I don’t know if it was the chilly March Saturday morning start, but I didn’t encounter more than one vehicle. Having the sections of the band entertains runners along the course was really awesome, and I look forward to running this again.  The shirt was a good quality light cotton, and this is a small race so race day packet pick up was a breeze.

I couldn’t pass up a race to support a green way that also earned me a Pisgah pint glass so in April I did the Black Mountain Greenway Challenge.  There was a long downhill that had me worried about the uphill return, but it was really quite manageable. In fact this was the first 10k that I ran/jogged the entire course.  Most of the course is on the road, but there was almost no traffic to speak of. The pint glass is offered in lieu of a shirt, but one can purchase the shirt separately. After so many easy same day packet pick ups I quit bothering with the extra trip, and this race didn’t prove me wrong. I will do this race again.

The Cradle to Grave 5k filled our May race, and the major climb happened at the beginning. While it is nice to get the hill over early, it was a doozy.  The course was almost completely paved for the 5k, and I enjoyed not having to run with any cars. Oskar Blues supplied post race beer, but it was a bit too early for me. The large t-shirt was much too small for me, my buddy, and my mom. Amazingly the 30k front runners were finishing as we were leaving. I’ve registered again for this year.

In June I registered for the Shindig on the Green at Carrier Park then I saw the Park to Park 8k for later the same month. Both races were were flat and began before the heat as well as being along waterways and busy roads for at least a portion of the course. Of the two I preferred the Park to Park even with its mostly in and back course; much of the course was shaded and had great volunteers directing runners. My mom joined me for both races pushing my girl in a jogging stroller, and she finished the Shindig race early when she missed a turn. Neither race offered a shirt I wanted to wear again.

July offered plenty of options for 4th races, but the Brevard Firecracker 10k seemed the best option. The 10k course is almost an out and back, and I had my butt kicked by multiple people pushing one or more kids in jogging strollers; the shirt went straight to the donation pile. Sadly this was my last race with my running buddy before she moved. I wanted to do the Highland Night Flight, but Beck came to town and put on an awesome show.

The race pickings were slim for August so we drove to Highlands to find a charity race as I committed to only running for a cause. The Twilight 5k was tough. I don’t know if it was the elevation or me missing my running buddy or my kid throwing a fit, but this race was tough and not much fun for me. The course runs only on streets, but the traffic control was good. It is a mixed grade course over pavement, and even with the elevation change it was hot, hot, hot. I would not run this race again as the course isn’t unique or interesting enough to justify the drive. I stumbled across the Foot Rx Cross Counrty Series after I’d registered for the Highlands race so I ended up running the Montreat 5k which was my favorite course of the series. The surfaces varied from gravel to grass to rooty trail to pavement, and if you register for the series you get a really nice pullover.

I chose to use the Foot Rx Cross Country Series as my September race so I ran at Asheville School which had the same terrain as Montreat albeit a much longer wooded section.  In October I began the  Foot Rx Cross Country Series Jackson Park race only to skin my knees pretty good on a tumble; I felt like such a whiny pants, but my knees were scabby for weeks.

I tried to come full circle with The Turkey Trot, but I had to have my wisdom teeth out so my honey, girl, and I did the Gobble Wobble.  My girl loves her racing water bottles, and my husband enjoyed doing the wobble. This will be a Thanksgiving tradition.

My daughter and I did the Jingle Bell 5k for my last race of 2014, and I somehow forgot to pack the jogging stroller so I carried her most of the 5k.  She loved the jingle bells we received at packet pick up, and I enjoyed the course through Montford where I encountered almost no vehicles.  I would run this race again.

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2013 Turkey Trot

Posted by eemilla on October 6, 2014

On a freezing cold morning, I joined tons of other runners to earn our gluttony later in the day at the 2013 Turkey Trot.  It was a nice route with some downtown and neighborhood streets, and none of the hills were killer.  It was my first road running experience so I didn’t appreciate the lack of cars on the route (granted it was Thanksgiving morning).  It was awesome to see the firefighters running in their gear, and it’s also pretty insane how fast some runners completed the race.  As I’m such a slow runner, I typically finish behind the pack so maybe I’m missing the lines, but the lines for post race snacks were incredibly long and slow moving.  I’ve registered for the upcoming race, and my honey and LB are going to do the Gobble Wobble.

2013 Turkey Trot

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Gatlinburg and Dollywood

Posted by eemilla on October 4, 2014

Visiting Gatlinburg is not on my list of things to do; I’ve been a few times (twice at someone else’s expense), and none of them have been very much fun.  I’d also visited Dollywood as a pre-teen or maybe teenager, and I would have rather gone to Carowinds any day.  Dollywood with a pre-schooler made me more receptive combined with their much improved rides since my earlier visit.  Our first visit as a family confirmed the food is still the horribly overpriced junk that one expects when attending an amusement park or other captive consumer situation so we do pack a cooler and return to the car for lunch.  We also pack a snack to consume at the end of the trip before we return home.

We regretted not upgrading at least one of the season passes to the Gold Pass to avoid paying the $10 parking fee, but otherwise we’ve gotten enough good use to justify renewing our passes .  Unlike other parks Dollywood is open most of the year (including plenty of weekdays) which makes it really easy to come out ahead while still avoiding peak times and maddeningly long lines.

I don’t like Gatlinburg even though I tried on the last trip.  Everything is so bright and loud and tacky.  Both of our dining experiences were ridiculously overpriced with amateur service.  After looking online at menus Mellow Mushroom and Smokey Mountain Brewery seemed like the best vegetarian options (I believe I had tried Best Italian on my prior visit with disappointing results) along with best beer selection.  The Mellow Mushroom delivered its standard greasy mess of a pizza, and I was able to order a relatively local beer (out of Knoxville).  I don’t want a hot glass straight from the dishwasher, but the glass shouldn’t be so cold that ice forms in the beer either.  Our service was the normal slow Mellow Mushroom service.  Our wait at Smokey Mountain was about 40 minutes, and our service was better than at Mellow Mushroom.  However two adults and one pre-schooler somehow managed to spend too close to $100 on food that tasted like it could have come directly off the Sysco truck.  On the bright side my flight of beer wasn’t served with ice.  We wrapped the night up with a trip to the Donut Friar because I loved the stupid pun, and I’d had some really delicious doughnuts at a few apple orchards.  The guy behind the counter was not happy to see another customer walking through the door, and I should have saved my cash rather than bother him for a few stale doughnuts.
Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon

Smoky Mountain Brewery on Urbanspoon

Donut Friar on Urbanspoon

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Lego Sculptures

Posted by eemilla on September 24, 2014

Last fall until about January 2014 the NC Arboretum had an awesome exhibit of Lego sculptures by Sean Kinney; it was great to see them up close with the thousands of blocks forming a hummingbird, a rose, a bee, and a gardener among other sculptures.  Check out Sean Kenney’s website to find out where you can see the sculptures.

 

 

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Return to running (and blogging)

Posted by eemilla on July 20, 2014

The only sport I participated in while in high school was cross-country, and I really enjoyed it once I got in shape and moved from the back of pack to the middle. However, I got distracted in the off-season, and I lost all the progress I had made so I didn’t return for a second season. Years later, a friend talked me into running the Runway 5k. I had ample time to complete a couch to 5k program (running my first 5k distance in Central Park), and I let the summer heat keep me from training. I still ran (or jogged or almost walked) the race. At the end I was so flushed with endorphins I suggested running a race a month, and my friend agreed. We skipped October, and I skipped December; we’ve done at least one race a month since January. Even though she’s moving across the country we’re still planning on running at least one race a month  for all of 2014. I did not particularly enjoy the Runway 5k due to the exhaust from idling vehicles on the course, but for my first 5k since high school I could not have asked for a flatter course in Asheville.  The race will not happen this year which gives me mixed feelings; fortunately there are plenty of other races to choose.

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Charleston Fun

Posted by eemilla on October 20, 2013

For every vacation (aside from oblications) we work out an itinerary which is often overly ambitious, and for Charleston I continued the tradition.  I scaled it back to allow for nap-times (which didn’t occur for the most part), but I still failed to get down to the Battery to spend more time than our trip a few years back.  We did, however, enjoy a quick stroll through Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art along with a stroll around King and Meeting Sts.

The Children’s Museum of the Low Country was the best value with all of the great things for LB to do; admission is $10 per person, and if your little one isn’t walking or is toddling I would wait as there is a huge castle exhibit and a boat that are difficult to navigate as an adult.  However, there is a huge water table and an area with blocks that a could be fun for a less mobile baby.

The South Carolina Aquarium was less enjoyable as it pretty small, but it charges the same admission as much larger and much better aquariums (Vancouver Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences).  The touch tanks were fun albeit crowded, and the boat play area was a crowd pleaser for the toddlers.

We also took the drive down to John’s Island for the Angel Oak Park.  It was a bit sad to see the beams supporting the tree (although it was more sad to see people ignoring the signs about not climbing on the tree), but I was quite happy to be able to get so close to such an awesome living thing.

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Of course we loved being so close to the beach.   I took a morning run, and we had multiple beach days with sand castles and boogie boarding.

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Family vacation

Posted by eemilla on September 21, 2013

For the past few years I’ve been lobbying my maternal family to forgo the end of the year gift card exchange in favor of a family vacation, and last year everyone finally seemed to agree it was time to do something different.  Then interest dissipated for about four months so my honey and I planned a trip to Manhattan thinking we would not be taking a vacation with the extended family.  An almost collective itch to travel brought the idea back to the fore after our vacation had been booked for months.

My idea was to travel somewhere new or exciting or exotic which was in direct conflict with economic concerns and comfort levels that limited us to the Charleston area or the Savannah area.  As we’d just visited Savannah and Tybee Island last year and only I wanted to visit the Outer Banks, my honey and I were all for Charleston.  After spending hours searching for houses in both locations that met all of the various needs of everyone (pool, close to the beach, large kitchen, bath for every bedroom, enough bedrooms) the group decided the Charleston area had better large house options for the money.

Once we narrowed it down to the Charleston area we had to find a large enough house available and in our price range.  While the task sounds easy enough it required hours of searching between three or four members of our group.  My frustration was that there were multiple folks who were non-commital about if they would be joining us or how many people would be in their party.  Without having one person footing the entire bill another concern was the best way to distribute rooms without having to haggle over different pricing, and fortunately everyone acquitted themselves admirably.

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great room panorama great room panorama from dining area
bar in need of an icemaker 2nd floor alcove laundry room
king sans daybed one of 2 jetted tubs walkin shower
king bed with day bed king with daybed bathrom king with shared bathroom shared bathroom twin room twin room bathroom
view of screened in pool from twin room balcony 2nd floor balcony with view of twin room balcony spiral staircase to rooftop rooftop

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Including the couches in the living room there was enough room to sleep 20 adults based on double occupancy in each of the king beds, and there were enough areas for everyone to mingle or retreat as needed.  The crows nest or rooftop was a favorite place to escape the noise, and the patio chairs were comfortable even though a few were worse for the wear.  The second floor balcony was sparse without any furniture, and the balcony off the twin room was so small it seemed superfluous.  My honey and I didn’t want to have to spend the extra money to rent a house with a pool, but we were certainly sold on the benefit of having the pool to float around in especially after the ocean.  I believe the house came with two separate gaming consoles, and there was a nice flat screen over the fireplace in the great room.

For a house with a 20 person capacity, the refrigerator/freezer/icemaker was the feature that everyone agreed to be insufficient; it was a double door deal so there were narrow shelves which made it difficult to accommodate groceries.  Even after the ice maker was replaced it took about eight hours to make a tray or so of ice which left of us purchasing bags of ice for the sodas, iced tea, and blended adult drinks.  There is a nice wet bar with a wine cooler, and a stand alone ice maker would be perfect there.  The maintenance man said the freezer’s ice maker had repeatedly been an issue.  The large gas range was more eye candy than functional; all five burners had two temperatures: on and off (which for a gas stove is really irritating and unexpected).  We also had to have a towel rod and a door knob replaced on the first day, and although we mentioned the additional three of the five (in addition to the one that was replaced) atrium doors had alarmingly loose handles they were not replaced.

With so many cars it was difficult to juggle them as the two driveways were a car’s width, and the street was much too narrow to park on.  The golf cart created most of the tension as people wanted to pocket the key rather than leave it in the lockbox, but it was an even better feature than the pool as we could cart our gear to the beach rather than lug it the few blocks on foot (especially as any parent knows the kid will want to walk then insist on being carried whilst you juggle the beach bag and/or chairs).  The key to main house also had a lockbox which really came in handy as we had about fourteen adults sharing three keys.

The house was a few blocks from a public beach access point, but we were so far down on the Isle of Palms that the beach was never crowded even though we were there during the high season.

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Grandfather Mountain

Posted by eemilla on September 19, 2013

On our list of things we’d like to do was to visit the Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain.  Our day ended up being a cloudy and overcast day with moments of sunshine, and I found that I am more disturbed by heights than I had previously thought.  LB also found the heights scary, and she was quietly insistent on returning to the parking lot and putting distance between herself and the mile high bridge.  The entrance fee is steep ( at $18 per adult), but overall we did enjoy the vistas and the small zoo.  I left my wrap at home so we had to lug LB around on our hips which dissuaded us from hiking from the parking lot or doing much hiking on the far side of the bridge.  It was quite laughable to encounter the below sign shortly after the admission gate.

It is my understanding that you can hike from the parkway and avoid the entrance fee, but even with the wrap my stamina is quite insufficient for any sort of steep grade traverse.  We packed a picnic lunch to enjoy at the ample tables at various locations.  The otters and eagles were the crowd pleasers of our zoo visit, even though the bears were pretty active too.

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The trees on top of the mountain reminded me of oversized bonsais.

I didn’t think that the bridge would scare me or make me feel so grateful to return to the mountain as I love roller coasters and the like.   I made it across, and if I had felt so anxious about it on my first few steps I wouldn’t have complete it; however it wasn’t until I was on the last portion that I began to feel uneasy.  I didn’t notice any severe wind or some clown jumping on the bridge so I cannot say why I had a sudden urge to get back across and be done.  Maybe it was LB’s fear.   Needless to say, I did not take any photos on the bridge.

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Brooklyn Bridge and More Sights

Posted by eemilla on July 17, 2013

Our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was the last thing we all did that I really enjoyed doing since we didn’t make it to MoMA, and The Empire State Building was a let down.  We had fine weather, and even though it was a Sunday and there were plenty of other people enjoying the views.  Originally I had wanted to rent bikes and ride across it from Manhattan to Brooklyn then back, but my husband wanted to ride the train into Brooklyn then walk back to Manhattan.  With the costs of the bikes approaching $100 for  a few hours (including a seat for LB), I conceded, and it was a lovely walk.  There were so many pedestrians that the bike lane was frequently overcome, and it was also the same day as the Five Borough tour which meant there were plenty of cyclists needing the use of the full lane.

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We followed up our walk across the bridge with a train ride to Washington Square Park; LB got out of the stroller and ran around and burned off some energy while we debated where to eat.

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After striking out on lunch we returned to the apartment for nap time, and I laced on my running shoes to complete my first 5k route since high school.  I completed a couch to 5k training program, and I saved my first complete run for Central Park.  I really didn’t plan on any particular course; I just ran and followed the signs to the Reservoir, and I ended my course running a loop around it.  I felt really good to run a full 5k especially within one park without having to loop and repeat sections or run on concrete or pavement unless I wanted to.  I love green spaces!

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We wrapped up our awesome day getting a photo of the Flatiron Building for my collection.  The area that we walked to from the Flatiron Building to the wretched John Dory Oyster Bar was the dodgiest I’d seen in New York.

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Skyscrapers

Posted by eemilla on July 16, 2013

We purchased the City Pass thinking that we’d be able to get our money’s worth out of it so it meant we had passes to Top of the Rock and The Empire State Building.  Of the two I prefer Top of the Rock, and maybe only because we saw The Empire State Building on our last day after a manhunt shut down the four closest subway lines forcing us to walk several blocks while trying to figure out if the whole system was down or just every train near us.  The subway shutdown and our late start ate so much of our time we had to decide between seeing the MoMA and The Empire State Building, and as I had never seen the latter it is were we went.

Both skyscrapers had unbelievable amounts of velvet ropes, and I cannot imagine waiting in all of those lines.  It took over two hours to visit each building as it was, and at the top of each it was really crowded making it difficult to enjoy the views.  Again I cannot imagine going during peak times.  We went on a sunny day to Top of the Rock so our views were better, but the pictures didn’t work that well being behind plexiglass.  The Empire State Building also had a lengthy exit line for both the elevators and the stairs to catch the larger elevator on a lower floor, and it just seemed to add insult to injury considering the observation decks were smaller than at Top of the Rock.  With the City Pass I don’t know how admission compares, but Top of the Rock seemed to be managed more professionally and to be more tourist friendly.

Top of the Rock Top of the Rock

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Pho 32 saved my crappy mood after we left The Empire State Building.  The food was tasty and plentiful with fast and friendly service, and as an added bonus it was a good deal (less than $35 before tip for at least two beers and two entrees).

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Pho32 & Shabu on Urbanspoon

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