Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cape May NJ Trip

A Saturday in New Jersey does not beat a Saturday in Georgia however, if you do find yourself on the Jersey coast as I did recently, a trip to Cape May seems to be a required destination.  Scott, Fausto and I fulfilled that requirement on Saturday with a short drive from Egg Harbor to this most southern city in New Jersey.  The plan was to eat some lunch and then look for some "beach glass" for Scott's wife - "one man's trash is another man's treasure" was the running joke.

Scott's preferred restaurant for lunch in Cape May was the Good Earth Organic Eatery.  He ate there with another coworker on a previous trip to NJ last month.  He returned this time with Fausto and I.  They were closed.

Vegan Restaurant - closed for the birth of a baby
There were 4 flies still inside the closed restaurant
Our second choice for lunch was Bella Vida Café
I include pictures of Scott's vegan dishes only to be kind to him and make him feel included.  I'm sure no one else on earth cares about a sandwich of lettuce, beans, avocado, and some sort of fake meat.

Scott's Veggie Wrap
My Ham and Turkey Panini
The birds
Scott just arrived as this group finished taking wedding pictures
Fausto, equipped with trifocal glasses, was the beach glass finding champion of the day
Fausto and Scott somewhere near the 4 mile point of the beach glass hunt
The Cape May Lighthouse - almost there!
Sand, rocks and shells - no beach glass
One of three access ramps to the Cape May Lighthouse
Cape May Lighthouse visitors center
The remains of a WWII Lookout Tower in the distance
The remains of a WWII Lookout Tower close up - Keep Off!
Rocks on  the beach (courtesy of Scott)
Fausto commented after Scott took this picture about three guys on the beach at sunset.  Very funny Fausto!

Dudes on the beach (courtesy of Scott)
Scott's meager haul of "beach glass"
That's one way to kill a Saturday in New Jersey.  Check that off the to-do list.  I tend to look at destinations with one question in mind "would I run or ride my bike here?  I don't think I would run or ride in Cape May.  Especially during peak tourist season.  I can image lots of distracted drivers unfamiliar with their surroundings continuously looking at their GPS for the next turn.  Fortunately, I had two navigators to help me get lost.

However, on the bright side, the area is as clean as one could expect  For example, in what must have been over 7 miles of walking on the beach, I only saw one (1) cigarette butt and one (1) plastic blunt butt.  The beach is so clean that it almost feels sterile or sanitized.  That's not a bad thing!

Thanks for reading.

2014 Bone Run 5K

The temperature when Scott and I arrived at Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove, New Jersey was 41-degrees.  I must say that it was a bit colder than I'm used to. The race was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. We arrived at around 8:15 a.m.  We checked in at registration, got our race numbers, 332 for Scott and 357 for me, our long-sleeve technical t-shirts, and then scurried back to the car to warm up.  Several runners wore costumes, so did a few dogs.

The race was a fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey.  Before the race, on-line registration closed with 157 participants registered.  The beautiful weather and prize money ultimately brought out 236 runners and walkers to the event.  I haven't run a race in recent memory where prize money was offered and maybe never for a 5K.  The incentive seemed to work.  The small field was loaded with speedsters.

The course may have been the prettiest 5K course that I've ever run, I'm sure the weather had a lot to do with that.  The course, similar to the Lake Spivey Road Race 15K course, runs clockwise around the lake to finish where it started.  Runners started on the road before quickly darting off-road and onto a tight gravel trail, through some woods, and then onto a 14' to 16' wide asphalt path marked with white chalk arrows, orange tape, and tree roots painted for better visibility where needed.  It was also a great introduction to some brief trail running.  I'm ready for Ragnar now!

I posted the route because I couldn't find it posted before the run. I always like to get some sense of the course before a run. In this case Scott and I ran the first 150 yards of the course to just beyond the transition from road, to grass, to gravel trail.  That was a good idea, no surprises as the front runner filtered to the lead.

41-degrees at 8:23 a.m.
The entrance to the parking lot
Parvin State Park Office
The Chick-fil-a cow in New Jersey (for my Jonesboro,GA friends)
The park office overlooks Parvin Lake
I wore a lot of clothes to stay warm before the race. My sweat pants and jacket came off before the race. I ran in tri-shorts, a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, and a beanie. It was too much! I could have done without the gloves and beanie.

Me dressed warm before the race
Scott dressed less warm before the race
Scott at the finish
Spectators wait for runners to finish
Two dads with lots of kids running around
A runner in costume
Food, water, and Scott
Looking west at one-half of the lake
The view of the park office from the lake
Scott talks to another runner as he waits for the results
Waiting for the awards to be presented
Runners in costume
Prisoner outfits seemed to be the costume of choice for this group of runners.

Race bib number
Bone Run long-sleeve technical t-shirt (back)
Bone Run t-shirt (front)
Scott finished in 40th place with a time of 22:00 for the 3.0 mile course.  I finished 27th overall with a time of 20:11 indicated in the on-line results.  I saw that the clock showed 20:25 as I passed and I'm pretty sure that a young lady named Gabby was right behind me at the finish.  Somehow she ended up 4 places and 33-seconds behind me.  I'm thinking that the paper tabs somehow got mixed up inside of the finishing chute. I got bumped up and she got bumped back.  Had there been some chance that I would get an award I might have said something but I wasn't positive anyway. The young lady came in 3rd in her age-group.

As I said previously, the prize money bought our a super fast group of runners.  Before the first turn, not 300 yards into the race, many of them were already 100 feet ahead of me.   The overall winner finished in 14:59.  The fastest guy over 50 years old, my age-group, finished in 15:49.  That's ridiculously fast for an old fart.

Scott and I left without any bling!

The results were posted on-line at

Event pictures can be found on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Update:  Racing to the finish line.  I love it when an event organizer takes pictures and posts them online for free.  I think it helps promote the race, especially when the images are later posted on social media.  

Atlantic City Boardwalk Night Run

My New Jersey training buddy Scott and I took off for a 9.5 mile run on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  We started at the Ventnor/Margate city boundary line, where the boardwalk starts, and ran north to Atlantic City.  In Atlantic City we turned around at the end of the boardwalk at S. Victoria Avenue, the 4.75 mile point.  Our run ended back at the city line near S. Martindale Avenue.  We both missed our run the previous day due to rain so we decided to add a few miles this night to make up for it.  Our typical distance has been about 6.2 miles.

Our route on the boardwalk was empty.  There were few runners, walkers or other visitors.  The season and recent casino closings must be taking their toll on the area.  The weather earlier in the day was wet and windy which could also account for the lack of people.  By sunset the rain had stopped but the wind was still strong.  We were surprised to find that the entire length of the boardwalk was well lit.

Scott in the distance running north on the boardwalk toward Atlantic City

After our run Scott and I posed for pictures. You'll notice the difference in our running attire.

Scott wearing only shorts and a t-shirt
Me wearing tri-shorts, running tights, a cotton t-short, a long-sleeve running shirt, beanie, and running gloves
Long runs like this should help me prepare for training in the winter months in Atlanta for the Publix Georgia Marathon in March.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My 300th Post

Finisher medals hanging on my closet door
This is my 300th blog post, article or whatever these little blurbs are called.  It would be too kind to called them pearls of wisdom but hopefully at least some of them have imparted some knowledge worth using.  My first blog post was published almost 4 years ago on December 20th, 2010.  Since then I've written about travel, restaurants, hotels, and of course training for foot races, a swim-a-thon, and triathlons.  I've published race reports and simple equipment reviews, nothing as in-depth as DC Rainmaker would do.  Overall, it's probably been more fun for me than my readers but that's what you should expect from a guy who considers himself a non-reader and was only a marginal student.

During the past four years I've competed in 14 triathlons including two full Ironman 140.6 races, six half-Ironman distance races, four of which were Ironman branded 70.3 races.  The other triathlons were sprint and Olympic distances.

I've also completed twelve 5Ks, nine 10Ks, seven 15Ks, and only one solo marathon since 2010.  In total I've competed in 45 races covering over 1000 miles.  I've ridden twelve full 100 mile century rides and since I purchased my Garmin 910XT watch in June of 2012 I've run 1,015 miles, ridden my bikes 5,473 miles, and swam 155 miles.  My cycling numbers are interesting because I've only ridden 230 miles in the past 12 months.

I've also written about my pathetic internet service and my case of the hives.  I still have both, but neither is as much of an issue now. I have not written about by hernia which I also still have.  That information will probably go unbroadcast as some things don't pass the Susan filter. Like the time I had a colonoscopy and, while still under sedation, I yelled out "Hey Susan, take a picture of my butt".

So where do I go from here?  Well, I just fixed two flats on my bikes and I'm looking forward to some riding soon.  It will have to wait until after I get done with a little 15K foot race that I hope to dominate in a few weeks.  That's the Lake Spivey Road Race 15K I've written about before.  I don't plan to win, just beat all the other old farts.

Beyond that, Susan and I are in the early stages of negotiations for the 2016 Ironman race season where I move up in my age-group.  Until then I'll try to maintain my fitness, improve my running, and try not to get injured.

Oh, and there's the Atlanta Ragnar Trail Relay at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia on Friday and Saturday, April 10th - 11th, 2015.  I'll be part of the Running with Caesars team.  I'm assuming that the team name is a play on words "Caesars and scissors".  I'm looking forward to doing some smaller trail runs before the big race.  The Hill Country Trail Race 15K at Serenbe on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 is already in my sights.  That's code for I'm registered!  I've also put my name in for the 2015 Publix Georgia Marathon on Sunday, March 22nd in Atlanta.

As for my blog, it looks like I've got a few more years of this writing gig to go.

Thanks for reading, thanks for following me, and thanks for allowing me to indulge my often odd sense of humor.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lake Chatuge Trip

Susan and I took a quick trip to Hiawassee, Georgia over the weekend.  When we arrived we rented a pontoon boat for a few hours to take a short tour of Lake Chatuge.  We were both surprised to find that there are very few homes on the 7,000 to 7,500 acre lake.  The size of the lake depends upon the source.

We were told that the lake level was lowered early this year than in previous years.  I had to be cautious and change my route several times when the lake bottom was exposed or visible under the surface.

It was a cloudy day with storm clouds threatening everywhere so I used the Google images enhance feature to brighten the images Susan took of the lake.  This was a scouting mission for us.  Who knows, maybe we'll be living lake-side in the north Georgia mountains someday.

Susan read the online review before booking our room at The Ridges Resort and Marina through gave The Ridges 4-stars.  That was probably a stretch.  The parking lot was not full of cars but there was a tour bus in the lot which may account for the front desk reporting that they were full.    The "resort" is located on the banks of Lake Chatuge.  I place resort in quotes because, in my opinion it is a resort in name only.  

The lobby was mountain lodge themed with a stuffed bear and many stuffed deer heads mounted on the walls.

The lobby was nice however our room was a different matter.  "Resort side" apparently is code for parking lot and our single king bed mutated into two full beds.  Susan and I sleep in a queen-sized bed so we're not used to huge amounts of real estate when we sleep however, this was ridiculous.  I got so little sleep that night that I actually thought I wouldn't be able to drive home.  In New Jersey the police will give you a ticket for driving while impaired due to lack of sleep.  I don't know if Georgia has the same laws.  After a McDonald's coffee I felt better.

The "resort side" view from our room.  The photo showed views of the lake.

The handicapped accessible bathroom.

The boat ride was the best part of our trip.  We were able to see a good part of the lake which would have been invisible from the road.

As for places to eat.  Michaelee's Chocolate Caffe at 142 N. Main Street in Hiawassee is by far the best choice.  We ate lunch there earlier this year so during this trip we returned.  Both visits were great.  The food was good, and they had plenty of staff.  It's definitely worth a try.  Monte Alban Restaurante Mexicano at 581 N Main Street in Hiawassee was less appealing.  I had the carnitas.  The pork tasted old.  Susan had something else with chicken.  She said it was good but she agreed that my pork was old.

Thanks for reading.