Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vacation day 6

Our last day of vacation started a little earlier then the previous day.  When we woke up we hoped in the steam shower and lounged around for a while until breakfast.  For breakfast we had some fruit again followed by some orange pecan scones. We also had an egg bake with sun dried tomatoes and some sausage and breakfast was finished by homemade vanilla ice cream with blueberries. When breakfast was done we sat around on the porch talking with the owners and another couple watching a storm roll through.  Eventually we headed back up to our room to pack and headed for home.

On our way out of the cities we stopped at Trader Joes and picked up some cookies and baklava. After that we shopped a little while longer in the area until lunch time.  For lunch we stopped at bucca de beppo.  We had some fried mozzarella, white pizza, and manicotti. Some how we were able to finish it all.  After lunch we continued on our way home.  Erin drove as we listened to more of Dracula.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Perham Harrier Half Marathon

This morning Erin and I got up early and drove out to Perham so I could run the second annual Perham Harrier Half Marathon.  When I signed up for the event I was hoping to break 2 hours, but training hasn't been going very well lately and I didn't keep up with my running over our vacation so this turned from an A level event to one where I was just going out to have fun.

Terry and I before the race, the DBRC twins
The alarm went off a little after 4:00 and we were both fairly tired.  Erin was at a bachelorette party the previous night, and even when she got home she was texting all night because her twin sister had gone into labor.  We stopped for gas on the way out of town and headed east.  We arrived in Perham a little ahead of schedule which was nice.  We drove to the park and I was able to pick up my packet.  We ran into some other runners from Fargo we knew: Terry, Mike and Paul and chatted with them for a bit as we got ready.  They went off to warm up but I just waited with Erin in the car.  I'd have plenty of time to warm up over the 13.1 mile run.  Just before the start of the race I went to the bathroom one last time and Erin and I walked over to the starting area.  Since it was the same as Turtlefest this year it was all familiar.

Look closely for the hydration pack, you'll see

I'm not exaggerating about being dead last
When the race started, I jumped out to an early lead with the pack trailing me by quite a bit...  Ok, maybe not. I was dead last for the first 4.3 miles.  I settled into my running rhythm within a mile and started to pick the pace up slowly.  Even though I was last there was still some crowd support along the way.  There was a residential area we ran through and there were a few driveways with people standing near the road cheering. It was nice of them to stay out until we all had gone by.  I was starting to embrace the roll of being last place.  I had a biker and police car following me and had the road to myself.  Where else am I going to be pampered like this on a run?  After 4 miles, I started to close in on the person ahead of me.  When I approached I saw he was a teenager that looked like he was in a little over his head.  I asked him how he was doing and received a grunt in reply.  I couldn't think of anything inspirational to say and my legs were feeling good and I quickly left him behind.  After I passed him I started to hear something in the distance that I couldn't quite make out.  After going along for a bit I was able to determine it was music.  Eventually I passed a volunteer in a suburban with the doors and back hatch open blasting music.  He was standing outside his truck with a cowbell playing along with the music.  It was greatly appreciated and I thanked him as I went by.

As the music faded, anther sound became noticeable: thunder. I could see some nasty looking clouds to the west and watched the lightning as the storm rolled in.  Eventually I turned east and it was rather eerie listening to the thunder grow closer behind me without being able to watch the clouds.  I started to catch up to another runner right about the time it started to rain and we ran along together for a while talking until the wind picked up and the heavy stuff started to fall.  When the storm intensified I pushed the pace a little.  The heavy rain and strong wind stung my skin but I wasn't too worried.  Last year I had gone running with Connie and we were caught in a similar storm. I had made it through that when we didn't have anywhere to take shelter, but here if I got concerned I could get a ride with the race volunteers. My clothes were completely soaked by the down pour and the leading edge of the storm had some impressive lightning.

As the rain started to let up I was expecting some more fireworks on the trailing edge of the storm and I was not let down.  I was passing what looked to be a radio tower as it was struck by lightning.  I'm guessing I was less then a quarter of a mile away when it happened.  Just a couple minutes after that a van pulled up beside me and stopped.  I gave the thumbs up sign and continued on only for it to pull up along side me again with the window rolled down.  The volunteer said they were pulling everyone from the course because of the lightning. I wanted to continue, but would have been on my own for the rest of the race.  I decided to take the ride back.  Even though I was disappointed, I could see that this was the right decision to make after seeing the lightning strike so close to me.  I rode back to the starting area and found Erin who was waiting in the car.

After changing out of my soaked clothes we went to the lakes cafe for breakfast.  I had some pancakes and bacon while she had cheesy hash browns with toast and bacon.  The food was very good. After breakfast we headed home.

Later in the day Erin's twin sister, Elisa, delivered her baby, our first niece. Emily Rae Eastburn, 6 pounds 13 ounces.  I think I'll concede to Elisa I had the easier day today.
Emily Rae

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vacation Day 5

We slept in on day 5 getting up just in time for breakfast at 9:00.  We ate out on the porch of the bed and breakfast.  We started with some fruit and then had some wonderful scones, followed by an egg bake with feta cheese, potatoes and artichokes, and we finished with a chocolate sorbet.

After breakfast we walked down to main street and did some shopping.  There were a number of large antique stores that we visited as well as a spice store and a candy store. We had a late lunch at a small place on main street.  We each had a burger and split some cheese curds.  We picked up some candy as well as some gifts from one of the antique stores. When we walked back to the B&B we arrived in time for some lemonaid and wine with some fresh bread and various spreads.  After a light snack we took a short nap.  When we got up we walked to Nelson's Ice Cream .  I had a waffle cone with  carmel turtle cheesecake ice cream and Erin had a waffle cone with wildbery yogurt.  We each had the child's size which was enormous and then walked back to the B&B.  When we got back we lounged in the hot tub and listened to Dracula before heading off to bed.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vacation Day 4

Day 4 we woke up and headed back to the original pancake house for breakfast.  I had the tall stack of buttermilk pancakes and Erin tried the apple pancake.  The apple pancake was thinly sliced apples sauteed in butter and brown sugar before adding the pancake batter and baking.  Erin enjoyed it, but even with me taking a few tastes of it she barely had half of it.  My pancakes were just as good as the last time.  After breakfast we drove back to the campground and packed up the sleeping bags and the air mattress.  Since we still had some time to kill we went swimming one last time.  I played the ring game with Erin where one of us would throw it in the pool somewhere and the other would have to get to it before it hit the bottom then that person would throw it and the cycle would repeat.  At first Erin was a little nervous diving down in the deep end, but when we finished she was just as comfortable as I was with it.  We showered after getting out of the pool and packed up the rest of the camping stuff.  One of the few times we've been able to pack up a dry tent on a camping trip.

After leaving the campground we headed to REI near the mall of america.  We had seen it a few days earlier and  wanted to check it out.  I was impressed, they had a wide selection of some really nice gear. Erin got a new pair of goggles, a nose clip, bandanas, and some injinji socks.  After REI we headed to Stillwater and the William Sauntry Mansion. We arrived right at 4:00 and checked in.  After getting settled in we went downstairs for some hors d'oeurves and wine and had a chance to look through menus of local restaurants. We picked out a few that sounded good and then headed out for a short run around Stillwater.  This hills were challenging, but we had a good time.  When we got back we cleaned up. There was a steam shower in our room that had a ridiculous number of settings and options. Then we headed to the Lake Elmo Inn for supper.

When we arrived at the restaurant we noticed that we were by far the youngest people there.  The decor was also a little odd in that the walls were covered in old salt and pepper shakers.  The service wasn't the greatest either, but our food was good.  I had some lobster ravioli and Erin had some fried sunnys which they advertised as one of their specialties. When we finished eating the waitress eventually showed up with some heated towels and a couple of chocolate covered strawberries. It seemed like an odd way to end the meal.

Erin and I before the gondola ride
We had some time to kill after eating so we went back to the hotel and bummed around a while.  I hooked my phone up to the radio in the room and we listened to a chapter of Dracula. Eventually we headed out and drove down towards the river for a gondola ride that Erin had booked. She had booked the 11:00 to midnight time slot expecting a nearly full moon. We were a little early and thought we had found the right place but we're weren't sure.  I called the phone number on the reservation and someone assured me that someone would be along shortly for the ride. After a bit a guy showed up and we headed out on the dock to climb aboard. The sky was overcast obscuring the full moon, but other then that the weather was perfect. It was warm with just a slight breeze. Our 1 hour ride took us across the St. Croix and under the lift bridge.  We could watch the lights from Stillwater reflected in the river.  I really enjoyed the ride and would recommend it to anyone. After the ride we went back to the B&B to get some sleep.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vacation Day 3

I wanted to start the third day of our trip with a morning swim but unfortunately we were up before the pool opened.  After finding the pool closed Erin and I showered and looked for a place to get breakfast.  We found a small diner a few miles away in Belle Plaine called Cindy's Kitchen.  It was your typical small town diner and we were one of the few people in it for breakfast.  I had some pancakes and bacon and Erin had some toast and eggs.

On the way back to the campground we decided to stop at a candy store we passed on our way to breakfast called Jims. The selection was amazing. They had almost any candy you could think of and many we were seeing for the first time.  In addition to candy they had a bakery, a wide selection of pop and some specialty foods. We picked up an abba zabba, some zours, a mallow cup, some apple strudel, cheese cake mix, cheese cake gummies, banana taffy, ginger chews, a white chocolate toblerone some apple bon bons and a pecan roll.  We also each picked up one of the specialty sodas they had, I had some honey lemonaid and Erin had the cream soda.

We didn't need to pee, but at least we had the option

After the candy shop we returned to the campground and went for a swim.  We had the entire pool to ourselves which was nice.  We swam laps until we were tired and then headed back to the tent.  Erin read some of the Zombie book she had picked up the previous day.  After that we took a nap and it sprinkled outside for a while.  When we woke up we decided a late lunch/early supper sounded good and we'd head back to a place we discovered on our morning trip, the OK Corral.

When we got there they hadn't opened yet.  They were only open for lunch on Fridays and weekends.  The hostess noticed that we were there and opened up for us 20 minutes early which was super nice of her. I had a blue cheese burger, Erin had a pulled pork sandwich and we split some onion rings. The onion rings came with a apricot horseradish mustard sauce that we both enjoyed, even though there were things in the sauce that we each didn't like.

See, it says right on the sign they serve lunch
After we ate we went back to the campground and I setup for a campfire later on.  I collected a lot of small branches that had been dumped near where our campsite was so the fire would start easy. After setting up for the fire we went swimming again.  This time there was a lot of people there.  Erin decided to bring a book along and not get wet.  I swam laps as best I could until the pool started to clear out.  I found a diving ring that had been left behind by someone and played a game with Erin where she would throw it into the pool anywhere she wanted to and I would swim over and get it before it would sink all the way to the bottom.  It was a great workout and fun to play.  Eventually I decided that I'd had enough of the pool for one day and we headed back to the tent for our fire.  We say by the fire eating candy until long after it had gotten dark then we went to bed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vacation Day 2

Day two of or vacation started early. Even though we hadn't slept much we woke up around 6:30.  We putzed around the tent for a little while before heading over to the showers.  After getting cleaned up we discussed what we wanted for breakfast.  Erin remembered seeing a sign for the Original Pancake House the previous day and I looked it up on my phone so we could get directions. When we got there we were surprised by how busy it was. There were a lot of people who looked like they were meeting for a business breakfast there.  I ordered some pancakes and eggs while Erin got some pancakes, an egg and some hash browns.  As we were waiting for our food a waiter walked by with something that looked delicious.  When we inquired as to what it was we were told it was an apple pancake, one of their specialties. When our food arrived we were very impressed. It sounds odd to rave about pancakes. Pancakes are such a simple thing that we've had so many times, but these were clearly the best we've ever had.  After breakfast we headed to Ikea to start our day of shopping.

We arrived a Ikea a little before the store opened.  Shortly after we got there they opened the cafeteria and we went in a sat there for a little while before the store opened. Once the store was open we wandered around the showroom.  We saw some blinds that we thought were neat, some cool lighting stuff and a small bookcase that we could put a TV on in one of our basement bedrooms.  Once we made it through the showroom and down to where they actually have the merchandise we did a little more planning on how we were going to use some of the things and decided that they might not work how we'd originally envisioned.  We did buy the book case, a wall mounted glass marker board and some color changing lights that were just too cool to pass up.  Then we headed across the street to the Mall of America.

When we got to the mall is was about lunch time and we decided to hit our favorite restaurant in the mall Tucci Benucch.  I suggesting just ordering from their small pate menu and sharing everything and Erin agreed.  We had some fried mozzarella, ravioli and polenta fries and finished with tiramisu for desert.  All of it was amazing.  Then we started to wander around the mall and shop.  We didn't find too much that was worth buying. We hit up a candy shop and Erin found a graphic novel about zombies that looked interesting.  After we were done shopping it was supper time so we hit up the Twin Cities Grill.  I had a burger and Erin had a chicken sandwich.  After our amazing meals earlier in the day this one was a bit of a disappointment.  After supper we found where we had parked and headed back to the campground.

Since the weather looked nicer then our first night we decided to have a campfire. We roasted a few marshmallows and Erin made a smore with a chocolate coconut spread that we had purchased the previous day.  I thought the coconut was a little odd and was content with only having a bite. After the fire started to die down we put it completely out and went to bed where we got much more sleep then the previous storm filled night.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vacation Day 1

The day after the anniversary run we headed out on vacation.  We didn't set an alarm, but woke up on our own around 7:00.  As I packed up the truck Erin cleaned up some of the dishes from our anniversary run. Around 8:30 everything was packed and cleaned up and we were ready to hit the road.  The drive down to the cities was fairly uneventful.  Traffic was a bit heavier then usual possibly due to people coming back to the cities from spending the weekend at the lakes. We stopped at the outlet mall in Albertville and found some interesting sauces in one of the kitchen stores there. After shopping for a while we decided it was getting to be time for lunch and I did a quick search on my phone for what was nearby.  We located a Red Robin that was along the way toward the KOA campground we were staying at and decided to head there.  I had a blue cheese burger with bacon and onion strings and Erin had a guacamole burger.  Both were excellent.  After eating we continued on to the campground.

We checked in when we got to the KOA and were assigned a spot in the far corner of the campground.  The location was fairly well sheltered by trees, but there were a lot of mosquitoes.  The temprature was in the 90s as we setup the tent and we were both covered in sweat when we were done. When I did a search for local restaurants we ran across a malt shop in Chaska that sounded good. We picked up some firewood on our way out of the campground to the malt shop. Since we had a big lunch we decided that instead of each ordering something we would just split an order of cheese curds and each have a malt. My malt had Oreos, peanut butter and marshmallow while Erin's malt was a orange creamsicle malt.  After the malt shop we hit up a local Target for some odds and ends we needed.  My phone wasn't charging properly with the charger we had so I picked up a new one and we got the things for making smores.  When we got back to the campground I checked the weather radar on my phone and saw that some rain was coming so we decided against a campfire that night.

Shortly after we went to bed the thunder started and it began to sprinkle.  The light rain lasted an hour or so before the very heavy stuff started to fall. The tent held up rather well and for the most part we were dry except for the occasional drop or two that soaked through the seems because it couldn't run off the top fast enough.  Eventually the storm subsided and we were able to get some sleep.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

1st Anniversary Run

When Erin and I got married last year, we held a 10k/half marathon that morning for our runner friends.  After the run we all came back to the house and ate caramel rolls.  A tradition was born that we wanted to keep going this year.  Last year we decided at the last minute to make some medals so we wrote with sharpie on some washers and attached some ribbon.  It was a nice token but we wanted to do a little better this year. Here's how we made this years medals.

Our driveway packed with cars
Friday night before our event Erin and I borrowed some paint and orange sticks from Rick that he used to mark the courses for the training group.  It took longer then we thought it would to mark the course, but in the end we were happy with the result.  All turns had an orange stick and most of them had arrows painted on the ground. After marking the course, we visited our neighbors to ask if we could park some vehicles over in their driveway since our street was being worked on and had no parking signs displayed on either side of the street.

Everyone hanging out before the run
The morning of the run we got up early and I took 5 pans of caramel rolls out of the refrigerator to start raising. Erik was the first to show up and he brought an egg bake with him. I threw some clothes on and directed him to park as close as he could to the garage so we could fit as many cars as possible in our driveway.  Steph, my sister, was the next to arrive to help with odds and ends.  She hadn't been running much this year and decided not to run the event.  She also needed to work later in the day which made the decision a little easier.  After that was a flurry of activity as I was getting my running stuff ready, directing Steph with some last minute things for the event and the rest of the guests showed up. Cory and Maggie brought praline bacon, Cassy brought orange juice, Kelly brought 3 different kinds of fruit juice, Connie and Ray brought some fresh fruit, Heather brought champagne for mimosas, Rachel brought paper plates and napkins and Rick and Kristy brought coffee cake. We had quite the spread when it was all assembled.

1st Anniversary group picture
After everyone had arrived we headed outside for a group picture.  Rachel was kind enough to bring over her camera for the picture. Last year she wasn't able to run and decided to bike with us and take some pictures. The pre-run group picture she took was one of our favorites from the whole day. Erin had it framed and signed by everyone and surprised me with it for a christmas present. Once the picture was taken we headed out on our run.  It was rather warm and a bit on the humid side but having so many of our friends with made it fun. The group did get a little spread out and a few turns were missed. I guess I didn't mark the course as well as I would have liked.
The group as it heads out
The aid station

The way the course was set up was everyone runs the 10k route which finishes at the house before the half marathoners head out again to finish up their event.  While we were out running, Steph set up our aid station with cold water, Jolly Ranchers, Watermelon, Salted Nut Rolls, Gummy bears, Endurolytes, and Poweraid.

Connie, Heather, Cassy and Ray are the first to make it back from the 10k 
Erin finished shortly after the first 4

Erik and Rick were next to finish
Rachel and I finished just before Cory, Maggie and Kelly

After the 10k was finished, I decided I wasn't ready to go out and finish the half marathon, but I would bike with those who did want to finish it up.  Rachel and Heather were the only ones interested in going further so after a short break we got going again.  As we finished the run, Erin was baking the caramel rolls and the rest of our guests hung out in the front yard and talked.  When Heather, Rachel, and I got back the caramel rolls were done and we were ready to eat. Breakfast was fantastic with all of the various things we had.  After eating, we had lots of leftovers.  Erin and I hung onto some of the caramel rolls for breakfast the next day as well as the leftover bacon that Maggie and Cory didn't want to bring back with them and some of the open juice and champagne.  The rest of the stuff got packed up and sent with people as they left.  Overall the event went rather well and we're looking forward to doing it again next year for our second anniversary.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homemade Race Medals

Here's what we did for our second anniversary: Homemade Race Medals Part 2
Here's what we did for our third anniversary: Homemade Race Medals Part 3

Erin and I wanted to make some nice homemade race medals for our first anniversary run.  Here's what we came up with. The body of the medal would be made out of a polymer clay we found at Micheal's. We would stamp it, bake it, coat it with sparkle mod podge to complete the finished medal.  We used magazines when rolling out the clay to ensure a uniform thickness of about a quarter of an inch. As we worked we used wax paper to keep the clay from sticking. We colored in the stamped sections with a silver paint pen.  It does take some time for it to dry before the back can be colored in.

Here's a complete list of materials we used for making 23 medals.
2 - 1lb blocks of polymer clay, we had some extra
1 cookie cutter
1 rolling pin
2 objects of uniform thickness to put on either side of the clay when rolling out
Wax Paper
Small jar of sparkle mod podge
Paint brush
Cookie Sheet for baking
Silicone stamps
Large straw for making ribbon holes
Elmers Painters metallic paint marker
American Crafts Precision Pen fine tipped black
Ribbon - 30 yards, but we had extra
Silver Glitter Puffy Paint for writing on ribbon

Most of the things we used to make the medals
Cutting the medals with a cookie cutter after rolling it to a uniform thickness.
After cutting the meals out and making holes for the ribbon with a straw.
This was after stamping and before baking.
The toaster oven worked well for us.
Once the medals were baked we colored in where it was stamped
The stamped part had been colored in and the black text added,
then we covered in a couple of coats of sparkle mod podge.
We used a sparkle fabric paint to write on the ribbons.
The finished back of the medals.
The finished front of the medals.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July Weekend

Over the fourth Erin and I had a busy weekend. Saturday morning we got up and did a 10 mile run.  It was warmer and more humid that I would have liked but the miles went by quickly.  It was the longest run either of us had done since the marathon in May.  I tried out a hydration pack that Erin's dad had given us and let Erin use my regular Nathan pack.  There was a little rubbing with the new pack, but I was able to tuck a small towel under the strap and it worked out quite well.

Saturday night we babysat 4 children.  Two of them we normally watch and the other 2 were their cousins from California. It was a bit hectic with everyone wanting to do their own thing, but overall things went well.

Sunday we started organizing our anniversary run. I put together a map and sent it out, we started cleaning the house and then we looked into how we were going to make the medals for this years run.  Last year we went with sharpie on metal washers, but we wanted to do something a bit nicer this year.  We headed over to Micheals and spent a few hours wandering around kicking around various ideas before settling down on something we liked.

Sunday night we were invited back by the family we just babysat for a backyard cookout. We enjoyed some good food and good company with weather that was about as nice as one could ask for.

Monday morning we got up and headed over to the MSUM Firecracker run.  Erin and I had both signed up for the 10k which was two loops of the 5k course. The run itself was fairly miserable.  The course was out in the open without much to look at or much shade.  Along the way I was misdirected by a volunteer at a turn and put in a little bit of extra distance.  Also I'm not a fan of running all the way back to the start before heading back along the same route I've just run.  Overall I'd say the race could have been organized better, but I had fun because of all the friends I had there.

After the race Erin and I got started making the medals for our run until it was time to head over to Cassy's place for her annual fourth of July party.  The food was great and afterwards we sat around watching the kids light off small stuff.  As this was going on we watched some clouds in the distance get closer and closer.  Eventually the tornado sirens went off and we had to head home early.