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Life in Alabama

As most people know, I lived in Montgomery for just over 5 weeks.  It wasn’t long, and it went by quickly.  While I missed friends back in New Jersey, I had an enjoyable time in Alabama.

alabama sunset

Alabama Sunset

I kept busy, so I wasn’t doing “tourist” stuff every single day.  Both my husband and I were able to get out, and we visited a few different cities, including Birmingham, Atlanta, and Pensacola.

John's City Diner Birmingham Fancy

Even though we were busy, we managed to travel on the weekends and went to quite a few places.  We wanted to make the best of the month and who knows when (or if) we will be back.

Here are a few highlights of what we did do.

We visited the Wright Brothers replica.  There is a full-scale replica of the first plane the Wright Brothers flew right off the highway.

It was great to see that as well as all of the planes on display at the Maxwell Air Force Base.  planes montgomery

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago, we relaxed and hung out with personal friend Laura.  Laura has been a friend of mine for years, and it was so great to see her again.

laura-s-and-i

In Pensacola, we chose to visit the Naval Aviation Museum.  Can you tell we can never get away from planes?  My husband was more fascinated with the engines of planes.

naval aviation museum pensacola

One of my favorite parts we saw were visiting the Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama. It’s a large cave with a lot of different rock formations.  Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

The opening of the cave measures of 25 feet high and 126 feet wide!

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

There are some of the most beautiful formations ever created including one of the biggest stalagmites in the world.

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

Finally, we also made a quick stop to the wildlife preserve: Tigers for Tomorrow in Dekalb, Alabama.  It’s a nonprofit wildlife preserve which cares for over 160 rare and exotic animals.  Many people don’t know, but back through high school, I had an interest in wildlife conservation and looked at colleges focusing on zoology.  My interests changed, but it’s still important to me. Tigers for Tomorrow Dekalb Alabama

The trip was no vacation but it was a breath of fresh air from New Jersey.  We saw new places and tried new things. Of course, we ran races too:

Races Run While South:
MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40) (Birmingham)
Polar Bear 5k (18:42) (Atlanta)
Pensacola Double Bridge Run (58:41) (Florida)
Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01) and my husband’s marathon recap (Birmingham)

In summary, it was a great few weeks, and it was fun to see a different part of the country.

Questions for you:
Have you ever lived somewhere temporarily? 
Have you been to Alabama before?

 

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Marietta Diner

Marietta Diner (Marietta, Georgia)

While visiting Atlanta, I wanted to check out a new diner.  It’s for the blog, right?

When asking for recommendations, the Marietta Diner kept popping up, so I decided to check it out.  After running the Polar Bear 5k, I arrived around 11 am.  Every parking space was filled, and I thought it might be a long wait because several parties were waiting outside. Luckily, they had a small booth for two, and we were immediately sat.

Marietta Diner Atmosphere: A
The Marietta Diner has the stereotypical shiny and metallic exterior.  It’s all chrome.  The inside is massive, and it’s one of the most prominent diners I’ve ever been too.  It is clean, and despite being busy, no one was sitting on top of each other.

Marietta Diner Service: A
The waitress at the Marietta Diner was kind.  She refilled our drinks, and our food was brought out quickly.  Even though it was so busy, we were in and out of the Marietta Diner within an hour.  The speed was impressive!

Marietta Diner Coffee: B
Marietta Diner Atlanta GeorgiaThe coffee was good, but there was nothing unique about it.  I could have used a larger cup.  Luckily there was plenty of whipped cream.

Marietta Diner Food: B
The Marietta Diner menu has every option you can imagine in a diner.  It would fit right in New Jersey.  Someone mentioned their Greek food was good, so I decided to order a Greek omelet.  I was surprised the Greek Omelet didn’t come with Gyro, so I added that too.

Marietta Diner Atlanta Georgia

The omelet at the Marietta Diner came with hash browns and a biscuit.  The biscuit was delicious.  There was nothing unique about the hashbrowns.  The Omelet itself was good except I found they didn’t add a lot of Gyro meat.  I thought they had forgotten it at first! The food was good, but I do wish there was more gyro meat in the omelet.

Marietta Diner Dessert: A
The dessert case looked like one of the best dessert cases of any diner. I’m not usually a person who orders dessert at lunch, but I could not pass up the Marietta Diner’s red velvet roll.  There was a lot of frosting, and the cake was moist.  The red velvet roll was great, and despite leaving stuffed, I was glad I ordered it.

Marietta Diner Atlanta Georgia

Marietta Diner Atlanta Georgia

Marietta Diner Cost: $$
For my coffee, omelet (with Gyro) and red velvet roll it was $29. They charged $5 for the limited amount of Gyro meat I received which was not worth it.

Overall/Would I come back to the Marietta Diner?
I liked the Marietta Diner, but their menu is overpriced.  When I go back to Atlanta, I might go somewhere else. To pay nearly $20 for an omelet is worth it to me personally.  I would stop in for cake.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: B
Food: B
Dessert: A
Cost:$15-20
Overall: B

You can see all of the diner reviews here.

Questions for you:
What is your favorite type of Omelet?
What’s your favorite post-race treat?

Polar Bear 5k (18:42)

Polar Bear 5k (18:42)

My husband and I wanted to get out of town for the weekend. We have been to Atlanta before, and since it was only a 2.5-hour drive from Montgomery, we opted to drive out there. Along the way, we discovered a few 5ks and decided to run the Polar Bear 5k. When we arrived at the race on Saturday morning, we quickly realized how big the race was. Over 1000+ people were running. To be honest, I thought it was going to be a 200-300 person race but the more, the better.

After warming up on the course, I noticed it was a flatter Atlanta course. I’ve run a few races in Atlanta (One before blogging and the Haunted Hustle 5k), and this was definitely the flattest. Was it flat? No, but it was flat for Atlanta. I wasn’t concerned as I had a workout anyways.

I had a workout for the day, and the goal was to run 2X5k at 6:45 pace. That did not happen. I ran the race as the first 5k, and it was faster than my coach wanted.

The race started at 8:30 am, and it was congested. I nearly fell over a young child. It was impossible to start any closer to the front, but I wasn’t really concerned. During the first half mile, I ran in a huge pack. In fact, the entire race was a giant pack of people, and you ran almost elbow to elbow with others. Somewhere around .66, a woman shouted, “you’re almost halfway there, ” and I responded with, we aren’t even a third there. I crossed the first mile in 6:00 exactly.

During the second mile, I was able to get my bearings of how many men and women were ahead. I noticed there were a few women in front of me, but I was towards the front. I saw my husband in the chase pack, and I was happy he seemed to be doing ok. I passed a couple of women and by the time I knew it, I crossed mile 2 in 5:55.

The third mile was just focused on finishing. By the mile 3, I found myself as first woman overall and we were running near the walkers who were all cheering. We climbed a small hill followed by a downhill. I crossed the third mile in 5:58.

The last portion of the race made a huge U and finished in the parking lot. I lost a lot of momentum with the U finish, but I crossed in 18:42. My garmin said the course was a bit long but who knows.

Thoughts:

I’ve run several 18:30-18:45 5ks (including the 5k in Birmingham 2 weeks ago) in the last few months. In November, I raced the Medford Lakes turkey trot in 18:30. It was a flat, fast course on a beautiful day and I felt awesome. On Sunday, I raced the Polar Bear 5k in 18:42 on a more challenging course and I didn’t feel great. I know I’m making improvements but haven’t had a race where I’m tapered and it all clicked. That will have to wait as I’ll be tapering for a few half marathons in the Spring.

Questions for you:

What is the biggest race you’ve run?

How do you stay motivated during a plateau?

Driving Mile Musings (1850 miles)

After a week of being on the road, it is certainly nice to just sit and relax for a few days and not worry about driving.  As I said on the way to Texas, a driving recap is like a race recap.  You go for a certain amount of time, stop to eat, drink and use the restroom and keep on going.  So I’ll recap it like a training log except I have plenty of photos. The drive actually wasn’t bad because we stopped a lot along the way, made new friends, saw old friends and saw plenty of different sites.  In total we covered about 1850 miles and saw 9 different states (totaling 17 states this year).

A lot of these photos appeared on my instagram but I thought I would share anyways because I like to caption photos longer than my instagram hashtags.

In unproper blogging technique I had dinner at California Pizza kitchen last week with Stephanie and didn’t take any photos.  It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I could see her before we left.

Leaving San Antonio there were huge floods and so much rain.

Leaving San Antonio there were huge floods and so much rain.

In you follow me on instagram, you know I chronicle my adventures with my 23 year old bear Bloomie.  (nicknamed Bloomz).  So much rain.

In you follow me on instagram, you know I chronicle my adventures with my 23 year old bear Bloomie. (nicknamed Bloomz). So much rain.

Stopping for a run in Houston.  This was one of the most mentally challenging runs I've had in a while.  It was pouring rain, windy and cold.  My legs were stiff and sore but I made it through and felt a lot better...afterwords.

Stopping for a run in Houston. This was one of the most mentally challenging runs I’ve had in a while. It was pouring rain, windy and cold. My legs were stiff and sore but I made it through and felt a lot better…afterwords.

Raw oysters in Pensacola.  Perfect.

Raw oysters in Pensacola. Perfect.

I like to pose with statues...because well who doesn't?

I like to pose with statues…because well who doesn’t?  “It’s for the blog…don’t worry about it”.  

Pit stop in Florida!

Pit stop in Florida!

Had to take a photo of Bloomz in Florida too.

Had to take a photo of Bloomz in Florida too.

Running in Florida was gorgeous.

Running in Florida was gorgeous.

I had to stop and use the rest room and they made me buy something to use the restroom.  It was fine since I like dr. pepper anyways.  The thing was this gas station didn't sell any coffee but did sell hookah.  WTF.  It was at the point we knew we should get out of there.

I had to stop and use the rest room and they made me buy something to use the restroom. It was fine since I like dr. pepper anyways. The thing was this gas station didn’t sell any coffee but did sell hookah. WTF. It was at the point we knew we should get out of there.

Of course seeing Laura in Atlanta was a lot of fun!

Of course seeing Laura in Atlanta was a lot of fun!

The best egg and smoked salmon sandwhich ever.  It was just so big I didn't even know how to eat it.  I just stuffed it in my mouth like a proper and polite date would.

The best egg and smoked salmon sandwich ever. It was just so big I didn’t even know how to eat it. I just stuffed it in my mouth like a proper and polite date would.

Touring the coke museum

Touring the coke museum

Yes I need to take photos with all the coke people...it's for the blog.  I need to look like I exist outside of running.

Yes I need to take photos with all the coke people…it’s for the blog. I need to look like I exist outside of running.

If you know me then you know Which Which is my favorite sandwhich shop ever.  I will miss it on the East coast!

If you know me then you know Which Which is my favorite sandwhich shop ever. I will miss it on the East coast!

Stopping at a Japanese restaurant was especially tasty (and pretty).

Stopping at a Japanese restaurant was especially tasty (and pretty).

My first real cold weather run.  I haven't run in 40 degrees in over 8 months.

My first real cold weather run. I haven’t run in 40 degrees in over 8 months.

I also ran with deer for about a mile.  The family of four was running parallel to me.   They eventually stopped and peeled off.

I also ran with deer for about a mile. The family of four was running parallel to me. They eventually stopped and peeled off.

 

And that is all I really have for real life adventures from traveling.  Though this is a lot of photos.  I had a great time full of good runs, eating and adventures.  (much like what vacation should be like).  I would say I’m happy to settle down into a routine but in reality I don’t have a routine until I officially move to New Jersey (sometime in Mid November).

Questions for you:

1. Do you like road trips?

2. What is your favorite cuisine?

I really like Greek food and sushi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted Hustle XC 5k (19:15)

This race was exactly what I thought it would be.  After two months of not doing low 6 minute paced runs or races (my last was the 8k that I broke my arm) and also driving 1200 miles, I was not expecting a PR.  What I was expecting was a nice shock to my body and that is exactly what I got.  I had toyed with the idea of doing a half marathon instead on Sunday, but decided that was a terrible idea since my body might not recover before the marathon.  Plus, I wanted to start getting some faster miles in as my body goes into taper mode.  It was actually difficult to know there was a half marathon in the area and I wasn’t doing it.

So the race itself:

I was happy to stay with a good friend of mine Laura and we got to the race in enough time to warm up together, grab our race numbers and get ready to go.  It was a “low key” Atlanta race which meant there were only 200 or so people.  Not my definition of low key but I was happy for lots of people.  It was roughly 100 old people and 100 high schoolers.  Look us oldies out of high school go.

Laura and I prerace

Laura and I prerace

The first mile started in an open field and we funneled down onto the course.  I felt like I was really moving and didn’t feel as stiff as I thought I would.  I realized rather quickly that I was pretty far in the back of the pack.  I was discouraged but just mentally told myself, this is how you run and it will be like this in New York City.  (5:57)

The second mile I started to pass people and felt a little but more motivated.  My arm warmers had fallen over my watch so had no idea what my pace was.  I just went with how I was feeling (which really isn’t anything different, I just couldn’t stare at my watch). I passed roughly 5 females during mile 2, the only time I passed females (6:09).

The third mile, I felt exactly the same.  I just kept plugging away at the miles.  I passed a few males and I didn’t feel like I was dying.  I don’t remember anything significant about this mile just that I was running…when I plugged it into my computer I realized I ran another 6:09 mile.  So it was consistent.

I saw the finish line and just powered through.  I had seen three other females the entire race but had no speed or power to catch them.  When I saw the clock hit over 19 minutes I was honestly a little bit upset.  It was a reality check that I hadn’t been doing speed work.  I finished the race in 19:15.

Thoughts of the race:

I am happy with the time after driving and no speed work but at the same time it’s hard to look at times above 19 minutes after 2 races this summer being in the 18s.  I’m also disappointed with a fourth place finish but you cannot control who comes to races and these girls were faster.  I fully enjoyed the race and cross country races are my absolute favorite (I just wish there were more!).  I honestly felt like I could have kept a pretty similar pace for a couple more miles but I couldn’t run faster for 3.  To sum it up, it’s nice to get some faster miles on my legs.  I’m happy but not ecstatic with the time and I had a great time in Atlanta.

Questions for you:

  1. 1.       What is your favorite type of race? Road, cross country, trail, trail?
  2. 2.       Is it cold near you?  I just went from 80 degrees for the last 6 months to 40 degrees.  It was a shock to my body to say the least.
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