#9 Race report available! Reykjavik half marathon August 24, 2013

Yes, that would be Reykjavik in ICELAND. Woo!

Check it out here:




#8 Race report now available! The Scream! half marathon July 20, 2013

Read all about this downhill marathon here:




#7 Trip Report: Downhill@Dawn, Ridgecrest, NC

Downhill@Dawn Half Marathon
June 1, 2013 6:01am start

NOTE: for only the race details, head over to: http://thirteenhalfmarathonsin2013.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/7-race-report-downhill-at-dawn-half-marathon

This is a smaller local race, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The Ridgecrest facility seemed very nice, with plenty of parking. Packet pickup was quick and unremarkable, with friendly volunteers providing the gear.

I’ve read that some people find the Admiral to be overpriced, and I admit, it wasn’t inexpensive, but the food quality was really good in my opinion. For cocktails I tried their “dark and stormy”, I believe they make the ginger beer (or maybe source it locally, can’t recall) and it was a really great ginger flavor. Also I enjoyed their Pom & Prosecco drink, with pomegranate juice and a tasty mint garnish. Appetizers were an grilled octopus with sweet onion and pineapple relish over mixed greens and a ravioli dish- slightly al dente with a little crisp on edges, mushrooms, peas, creamy sauce. Both were delicious.

IMG_1406My entree was seared sea scallops with coconut curry sauce and couscous. The flavors were very delicate and tender, highly enjoyable. I also tried the pork tenderloin, served with mushrooms, a smoky sauce, and micro greens and it too was very tasty. Finally, I couldn’t resist tasting the lavender and lemongrass brûlée with sea salt. Unfortunately, this was a little bit of a let-down for me as I couldn’t taste lemongrass and the carmelized sugar on top overwhelmed the lavender flavor entirely.

Although I highly enjoyed my dinner, I woke at 11:45pm to stomach pains. My abdomen had an acid burning feeling that persisted and for the rest of the night I couldn’t sleep more than 20 minutes at a time. By wake-up time of 4am, it was almost a relief to stop trying to rest. The stomach upset prevented me from eating all of my breakfast, and once I was up, my sinuses began to drain, causing sneezing fits.

IMG_1412The race began on time and was indeed mostly downhill. It took about 4 miles before my stomach settled down. I enjoyed some of the mountain views, and the mostly quiet course. I was very happy that they had bananas available at mile 8, because my stomach didn’t think that a gel was a very good idea. For anyone thinking this course is all downhill, be warned that it is definitely not. There were a few hills near the end, and right before the finish line, we turned into a parking lot and had to run a short distance up a hill before the final short stretch over the timing mat. The announcer at the finish was very enthusiastic and did a great job of encouraging spectators to help cheer the runners in. I watched one lady coming up to the finish and suddenly burst into a faster happy run, and thought to myself “wow, she’s pretty excited to be done” – but then I saw a man waiting with a sign that read “Marry Me” and all was clear.

Despite all the less-than-stellar physical stuff, I did have a decent race – this wasn’t one of my best, but it really wasn’t too bad. I would consider returning another year because running through the trees as the sky lightens really was very pretty and pleasant.

IMG_1421Happily, we were able to get a late checkout from the hotel, so we had plenty of time to shower and rest a bit before heading to the Tupelo Honey Cafe for some lunch. It was pretty crowded and we had to wait a while, but finally I was able to order a grilled cheese sandwich. IMG_1422This was not just any grilled cheese mind you, this one had havarti, pimento cheese, ham, maple peppered bacon, and fried green tomato inside. Also, I sampled a jalapeno glazed pork ribeye dish that was very tasty. As I was celebrating that I’m over halfway done with my thirteen half marathons for the year, I had a glass of Prosecco and that was a very generous pour! I’ve been happy with the food each time I’ve been to the restaurant and recommend it.

Next in the series:
The Scream! Half Marathon

#6 Trip Report: Flying Pig, Cincinnati OH

Flying Pig half marathon
May 5, 2013 6:30 am start

NOTE: For just the race details, go on over to http://thirteenhalfmarathonsin2013.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/6-race-report-flying-pig-half-marathon.

IMG_2254When we arrived at the expo, the bib lines appeared fairly long, but since we planned to run the 3-way (10K, 5K, and half marathon events), we had a separate (fortunately very short) line to go to. The expo was quite large, LOTS of freebies – and since you had to walk all the way through shopping area & vendors to the shirt & poster pickup, there was plenty of time to collect the loot. Really a ton of swag! For the official race merchandise, there were (non-gender fitted) tee-shirts for the 5K and 10K, and a tech shirt for the half marathon, a nifty Flying Pig soft-side cooler bag, and a commemorative Flying Pig poster. Side note – the poster was a nice thought, but actually a pain for anyone flying, since it wouldn’t easily pack. I ended up mailing mine to myself to save the aggravation, and it arrived somewhat creased. Still – a fairly unique race gift, and if you are from the area, I could imagine amassing a little collection over the years.

IMG_1313For an early dinner, I dropped into Local 127, for some casual but fine food. The starter was roasted beets with goat cheese, prosciutto, crispy shallots and I was very pleased. The flavors were nicely balanced and heartily satisfying. For entrees, I tried the meatloaf (with crispy potatoes and red wine reduction) and the lamb meatballs (hint of mint over shell pasta, fava beans, greens with pork reduction sauce). The meatloaf was good but nothing too extraordinary. However, the lamb meatballs were delicate and hearty all at once, very delicious.meatballs

5koutfitSaturday morning, the weather seemed to be cooperating – a little overcast but not too chilly. The race announcers had some microphone issues, but the 10K started right on time. This was not a flat course, and we went over several bridges. I committed one of the major no-nos of race habits and chose to run in brand new merrells (Bare Access 2)  that I’d purchased at the expo. Fortunately, these worked out well for me (none of my recent blister problems, hurrah!) and I finished under an hour for my first official sub-hour 10K time. I can’t overstate how awesome the recovery area was – there was loads of food available: bananas, water, Gatorade, bagels, Cheetos, m&ms, skittles, twizzlers, crackers, string cheese, pears in syrup, Swiss rolls, Doritos, sun chips…. I didn’t see any chocolate milk. Since I had the 5K coming up shortly, I restrained myself to just a banana. Fortunately we were given Mylar blankets, so the hour wait before the 5K start was not unpleasant, though there was a good breeze off the river.

For the 5K there was a huge mass of people, and the announcers didn’t instruct people to position themselves according to pace, so I had to dodge quite a lot (seriously, person with a cane, why were you lined up at the front of the pack???), but we did start right on time once again. The course covered much of the same area as the 10K, though no bridges. I had a side stitch most of the way and held back a bit. Ended up still feeling quite strong, and having scoped out all the goodies the first time through, collected a ton of snacks for later. The organizers realized that people might not want to run the 5K with the 10K finisher medals, so we were able to collect both finishers medals after the 5K, which I thought was a nice touch.

Even outside the recovery area there were lots of organizations and vendors near the area where the kids events would happen later. Scored a free pancake from First Watch and a hot dog from John Morrell (skyline chili was charging $3/coney).

tom+cheeMid-afternoon, I was hungry enough to venture over to Tom and Chee for some gourmet grilled cheese fare. I picked the grilled mac n cheese, cheddar, with bacon on sourdough and a cup of blue cheese chili – heavy, greasy, very hearty. Good stuff, but half a sandwich was plenty. Chili was very meaty, a little smoky & quite tasty. In honor of the weekend, I also had to try the Flying Pig – turkey, ham, pickles, gouda on sourdough- more balanced for my taste, managing to satisfy but still feel lighter. Didn’t really taste the cheese much. The cup of & tomato basil creamy soup was okay, tasted fresh but nothing I would rave about.
After a movie break, I had digested enough to come back for dessert & had the blueberry bleu – a grilled donut with blueberry compote, lemon marscapone, and mozzarella cheese (they claim that keeps all the good stuff from falling out the hole). I managed to snap a picture quickly, and in about ten seconds this was completely devoured. I was a bit skeptical but am now a convert!

Sunday morning, I headed out to the half marathon start, but didn’t quite give myself enough time. It was completely my own fault, but I was scrambling to drop my bag at gear check – there were what seemed like 30 buses along a side street, divided by bib number – and mine was high. A kindly volunteer took pity on me jogging along and took the bag for me, so that I managed to join my corral just a few minutes after start & cross the start line with the group. Although there were corrals, it wasn’t a wave start, which I thought worked well. It seemed like corrals were pretty intelligently divided, as I wasn’t passing too many people, and wasn’t being blown past much either. The beginning of the course was shared with part of the 10K course of the prior day, so I actually felt as though I would have enjoyed the bridges more if I hadn’t just run them. Overall, the first 10K felt pretty good, and then we got into some long hills for a few miles. I didn’t love those, and my left second toe was really starting to bother me (more on that later). Around mile 8.5, I was feeling a little discouraged, as if I didn’t fuel well enough, and realizing that my finish time was likely to be close to the 2:20 I predicted before the race (when I was secretly hoping to be closer to 2:10). At mile 9, I was feeling a bit better, but now my toe was really getting painful. I knew it was a gamble to wear new shoes – they didn’t cause the blister issues I’d been fighting against, but did rub against my toe/nail. I walked and ran the last bit in, feeling pretty tired (though not muscularly so) from mile 11.5 on. I finished with time to move through the lavish recovery area, collecting snacks along the way, as well as two cups of delicious soup before hunkering under an overpass to rest just before it began to rain. My weather karma was in full force today, and that worked out perfectly. flying pigAfter a quick change to dry clothes, with the help of my running partner and a Mylar-blanket-changing-shield, I collected my 3-way medal plaque and shirt. Then I stopped to try a sausage and a goetta slider from Queen City. I thought the sausage was good, but just not quite what I wanted at that moment. The goetta slider was really tasty though!

Ready to have a seat, I slowly progressed back toward the start area and decided to stop for a breakfast buffet at Crave. It could be that I was just still a bit shaky, but I wasn’t blown away by this meal. The included champagne was not very good, I couldn’t pinpoint the exact character of the unpleasant taste, but it was not any better after several sips. The spread itself was pretty varied: nice big bowl of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, cinnamon rolls, toast, and my personal favorite: cinnamon roll french toast with berry compote. I’m not normally a big fan of sweets for breakfast as I tend toward the savory side instead. For whatever reason, this cinnamon roll french toast really hit the spot today. In retrospect, I think I would have done better to order an individual dish, as the spread was far too much food, but at the time it seemed easier to just go with it. After a slow paced grazing of these offerings, the 1.5 mike walk back to the hotel seemed feasible, so I slowly hobbled along to hit the showers and take a nap.

lobster mac n cheese Sunday evening, the rain was continuing to trickle on, so I opted for a cab ride to Nicholson’s to try “Cincinnati’s first and finest gastropub.” I started with the lobster mac & cheese, which was rich but not overwhelming. This was one of my favorites of the trip. The main dishes I had were both very good: thick pork chop with green beans, and shepherd’s pie with lamb and beef. For dessert, I managed to stuff in a few bites of the chocolate pot de creme – I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

Monday morning, I was ready to stretch my legs a bit, and I’d read that the goetta at Tucker’s was very good, so strolled out to see. Turns out that the walk was maybe not in the best area of town, and when I got to the diner it was unfortunately closed on Monday, so I failed at that mission. Instead, I turned back to the Taste of Belgium that I saw along the way, and tried their ‘nati crepe -egg, goetta, cheese. The crepe was a nice texture, not too crispy or dry.

IMG_1387Determined to pack as many tastes as possible into the trip, I headed over to Jean-Robert’s Table to try their French lunch tray. By happy coincidence, they were celebrating the second anniversary of the lunch tray, so the dishes were served as duos. Starter: cauliflower and carrot (each prepared two ways) over arugula; Soup: asparagus & mushroom duo; Main: duo of pork (pulled & belly), with mashed potatoes, mushroom & fennel duo (and a mustard demi sauce), and Anniversary cupcake to finish. IMG_1389It was all really excellent. Overall, this might have been the most satisfying meal of the trip – and we really had some good ones!

The final stop was the Sam Adams brew house at the airport to kill a little time before the flight. After so much food, I kept it simple and opted for the grilled vegetables (zucchini, carrot, roasted red peppers) over mixed greens which was ample food and nicely done. Also, I sampled the fish and chips and found the fish surprisingly great (I admit, my expectation for airport food is low). The server let me know that they used pollock (commonly it is haddock) – so I don’t know if that made the difference. I may have tried the Sam Adams cherry wheat beer before, but it was just what I wanted on this occasion and a great finish to the trip!


Next in the series: Downhill @ Dawn half marathon

#5 Race report now available! Charlotte Racefest half marathon, April 13, 2013

Another short & sweet race report, to read up about #5 in my series of 13 half marathons for 2013, go over to http://thirteenhalfmarathonsin2013.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/5-race-report-charlotte-racefest-half-marathon and find out all about it!



Restaurant Report: Old School Diner

Old School Diner
Harris Neck Rd.
Townsend, GA 31331
NOTE: use GPS coordinates to reach destination accurately 31.62525, -81.29587
Also, CLOSED on Monday and Tuesday, check for current hours.

My research sugggested that this restaurant was a real local treasure – and not something you would just stumble on right off the interstate. Indeed on approaching the parking lot, some of the unique aspects were immediately visible. The location is about 7 miles detour after exiting I-95, and it’s easy to miss the purple sign directing you to turn onto a gravel road. I’m not sure why, but the parking area is covered in carpet scraps and there is definitely an alert little dog that barks at all visitors. IMG_1162

I was traveling with a small dog, so asked if sitting outside would be okay. Initially, I brought the little dog into “the gazebo” area – a screened porch, but then was told that the dog needed to stay outside. However, there was no problem backing my vehicle close to the gazebo and leaving the door open so I could keep an eye on the dog through the windows. I asked our friendly server for recommendations, and was immediately answered enthusiastically with “The wheelchair!”. This is a huge platter, with whatever the chef feels like putting on it for the day, plus sides for each individual. What the heck, it’s the house specialty, so I agreed.

I knew it would be a lot of food, and a lot of fried food and my expectations were fully met. There were ribs, fried oysters, hushpuppies, fried catfish (I think, it was a white fish), fried shrimp (both butterflied and not), crab cakes that might have been flash fried, and for sides we chose french fries and a sweet potato. This platter was accompanied with some tartar sauce and barbecue sauce, which I believe were both made in-house. I really liked the barbecue sauce, just the right combination of sweet and hot for my taste. Of the fried fare, I enjoyed the oysters and shrimp the most and both were great dipped in either sauce.IMG_1165

As the food was served, Chef Jerome came out to greet us with a big welcome and hugs, making sure we had everything we needed. Their strategy of “welcome home” really did make you feel special.

IMG_1164The wheelchair platter for two was $45 – was it worth it? Well, it definitely was a lot of food and nothing was bad. I wasn’t blown away exactly, but I’m not sure there is much fried food that could do that. I know that if I lived in the area, this could only be a once-in-a-while stop but that’s my own penchant for healthier fare. The friendly service and welcoming atmosphere did make me feel like the experience was something special – definitely worth doing.

Restaurant Report: Skipper’s Fish Camp

Skippers Fish Camp
85 Screven Street
Darien, GA

IMG_1150I was traveling with a small dog, so my restaurant options were more limited than usual, but I’ve read good things about Skippers Fish Camp online, so I gave it a try. The restaurant is in a beautiful lakeside location, however small biting bugs were out in force, so patio dining would have been quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, the restaurant was willing to allow use of a partially screened porch area on the “oyster bar” side so that I could keep the little dog with me.

IMG_1144For starters, I found the cream-based crab stew to be very very bland, definitely in need of more seasoning, but on the plus side, chock full of crab. The pancetta-wrapped scallops were also a bit disappointing, but in this case the pancetta was so salty it completely overwhelmed the taste of the scallops. When I pulled the pancetta off, and ate just the scallop, it was cooked well – nice and tender, and sweetly delicious. The accompanying hushpuppy was nothing special, just average. I doctored the soup with some black pepper and pieces of pancetta, but it was still pretty bland.

The area is known for the sweet Georgia shrimp, so for the main, I tried the peel-and-eat shrimp in a spicy garlic sauce. These were indeed tasty (messy for sure), but oddly much harder to peel than I expected. I don’t claim to be an expert shrimp-peeler, but I haven’t had such difficulty in the past- these shells were really stuck!IMG_1145

For road food, it was enjoyable enough and the people were very pleasant so overall, I approve – though I am unlikely to make a point of returning.