Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Norwalk Summer Series 11 Miler

Saturday August 16th 2008. Lightfoot Runners Summer Series 11 miler.

The night before was the Maroon 5 concert (see prior post) which got me home and in bed by a little after 2am. This race is only about 10 minutes away from my house, but I always worry about parking so I wanted to get there about 45 minutes before start time. I also like a little time for my breakfast to settle before I start running. I was jolted awake when the alarm went off at 6:30am, which was good for me so that I didn't have a chance to think about being tired. I was a little apprehensive about the race since I have only done the distance once in training recently and that was in the cool climate of the Isle of Arran in Scotland. I also had the issue of the blistering on my feet to worry about. However, in the back of my mind I had the feeling that everything was going to work out just fine.

The weather was pretty good for a summer morning with it being a little cooler than usual and cloudy. I paced myself very well and felt strong throughout the entire race. My splits were as follows: 8:02, 9:17, 9:19, 8:42, 8:43, 8:52, 8:53, 9:35, 8:28, 9:17, 8:02 for an overall pace of 8:54. The course had some challenging hills in it, but also had a few nice downhill sections. I managed to pass about 6 people in the last half mile, which made me feel really good. When I turned into the lot at the school and headed for the finish line I had a huge smile on my face. I was thrilled to have run so well.

Maroon 5 with Sara Bareilles and Counting Crows

Maroon 5 Concert at Dodge Music Center in Hartford - Formerly The Meadows

I went to the Maroon 5 concert with my man, Tom, and his son James. I was familiar with a few of Sara Bareilles' songs, but was very impressed to see her in person. She is a good performer and I liked all of the songs she played. I believe her set consisted of only about 6 songs, which was ideal. I wish I could say the same for Counting Crows. I had heard a rumor that he was drunk at the Jones Beach show and sure enough he came on stage looking like he was hammered. Some of the songs were very good and he was quite entertaining, but I was very disappointed in the way he portrayed himself. He was stumbling around the stage and talked a lot of babble whenever he got a chance. One song was a very depressing song about being alone for Christmas and the song seemed to go on forever. Tom and a couple behind us were laughing about us all wishing Christmas would end. The Counting Crows set was too long for my liking and didn't end until about 10:30pm so it was almost 11pm by the time Maroon 5 came on stage.

However, it was well worth the wait. The lead singer, Adam Levine, is a great performer and has a wonderful, yet original sound to his voice. I am pretty familiar with most of the songs that they played and thourougly enjoyed the show. Since I was the one who suggested going I was very happy to hear that Tom and James loved it too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family trip to the Isle of Arran

On Saturday August 1st our family was headed to the Isle of Arran for a mini vacation. The Isle of Arran is a small island off the west coast of Scotland, which is about 167 square miles in size and has a population of about 5,000. We got up early, had breakfast at the hotel and set off in three separate cars to drive to the West coast of Scotland. We drove to a town called Ardrossan, which is where we would take the ferry over to the Island. The ferry ride was about 50 minutes long and took us to a town called Brodick.

Windmills in Scotland

Ferry pulling into Ardrossan

Rich and Pete

The approach to Brodick

We arrived at the Auchrannie House Hotel shortly before dinner time and unpacked our belonging and headed to dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants.

I got up early on Sunday morning to go for my long run. I headed out on the coastal road and ran to a small town called Corrie. I can't get over how nice it is to run in scenic places away from home. It was simply beautiful with spectacular views of the mountains of Arran and of the coastline. It's times like these when I wish it was convenient to bring my camera along when I run. I ended up running a total of 10.25 miles, which is my longest run in quite a while. I am happy to say that I didn't take any walk breaks, partly because I'm in better shape and partly because there wasn't the heat and humitidy that I'd have at home. My feet were still bothering me, but everything else felt really good.

I came in from my run and took at quick shower eat a little breakfast and then headed out for a hike with Rich, Pete and Sue. Our destination was the top of Goat Fell mountain, which is the highest peak in Arran at 2,867 ft. The hike up the mountain was awesome. It was a very basic walking trail with a little climbing needed at the top. Sue was not able to come all the way to the top due to knee pain so she waited part way up while we made it up to the summit. With Richard leading the way we made it up to the top pretty quickly. The views from the top were really beautiful. We took a few pictures and then headed back down to meet up with Sue and make our way back to the hotel. The entire hike took us about five hours. Once we made it back to the hotel we showered and changed and went out to dinner.

Sue, Pete and Kate at the bottom of Goatfell

Kate, Rich and Pete

Views from our climb up to Goatfell

On Monday morning I got up early and ran 4 miles. I picked a route with a big hill in it since I knew I wasn't going to run every far and wanted to add some challenge to it. I returned to the hotel for breakfast and then Pete, Sue, Emma, Richard, Matt, Phil and I headed out in cars to do a quick tour of the Island. We stopped by the distillery and picked up a few things, but did not have time to do the tour. We also went to a place called Kings Caves, which entailed a short hike out and back to look at the Caves. We also stopped off at a Pottery place, a gift shop, and skipped some stones at a little beach. When we got back to the hotel we hit the swimming pool and I swam 20 laps. Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty good about keeping active during this vacation. We all got together for dinner at a hotel restaurant to celebrate Phil's 18th birthday.

Phil drinking Pink Shandy in celebration of his 18th Birthday and him reaching 'legal' drinking age

On Tuesday morning we were due to leave to return to the mainland. I got up early and went for a quick 3.5 mile run and then met up with the family for breakfast. We hit the chocolate shop for some last minute gifts and then headed for the ferrry. We said our goodbyes to everyone on the ferry since we were all going separate directions. Pete, Sue and Emma were heading for Glasgow where they would fly out the next morning to go back to the states. Mum and dad were going back to Rothbury for a few days before their trip to Ireland. Richard, Matt, Phil and I were going to Richard's house. We got back to Richard's house at about 6pm and the Matt and Phil immediately went out to see their friends. Richard and I picked up some fish and chips for dinner and then watched a little TV before going to bed.

On Wedensday morning Richard drove me to Sheffield train station, where I took the train to Manchester airport to take my flight home. The flight was a little delayed, but the worst part was the mess up at JFK. We came into a local bay instead of international so instead of walking up a ramp to get out of the plane we had to wait for a bus to come and get us. After waiting half an hour for that we then got into the airport and were stuck in a hallway with no A/C for about 40 minutes. Upon finally getting to passport control I can see that the whole backup in the hallway was for non-U.S. citizens. It would have been nice if they could have called the U.S. citizens to come ahead of the rest since there was no line to wait in. By the time I got through to the baggage claim it looked like the bags had been waiting for a long time. The conveyor belt was turned off and all the bags had been unloaded and left all over the floor. Luckily, I found my bags really easily. However, now it was almost 5pm, which meant rush hour traffic for the limo ride home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vacation to England to Celebrate my Parents 50th Wedding Anniversary

Wednesday July 30th was my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary and to celebrate the occasion I was summons to England for a vacation with the family. My brother, Pete; his daughter, Emma; and his wife, Sue, all arrived in England a week or so before me. Richard and his kids, Matthew and Philip had also made the trip to Rothbury from Sheffield earlier.

It is a very busy time at work for me so I could barely pull off a week away. I took a 10pm flight from JFK that was scheduled to arrive at Manchester airport at 10:20am on Thursday morning. The flight left JFK late (what a surprise!) and got me into Manchester at about 11am. Having missed the 11:04 train, I jumped on a 12:04 train to take me to Newcastle. I arrived in Newcastle about 3 hours later where my mum and niece were waiting to pick me up to take me to my parents house in Rothbury. Upon arriving at my parents house we found the rest of the family huddled up in the garage all cold and wet and locked out of the house after being rained out of their golfing session.

It was great to see everyone and to catch up a little. Pete, with help from mum and Richard, made us a nice dinner and then we all chatted for a little while and then went to bed. I amazed myself by staying awake until about 10pm with no nap! This was due to actually getting a few hours of sleep on the plane, which is a rarity for me.

Killer Rabbit

The next morning I got up at about 8:30am and went out for a run. My parents house is situated in a beautiful area with lots of hills, valleys, and fields so I love to run whenever I can. I ended up running 8.25 miles of an out and back route and felt pretty good. My calf was feeling almost 100% better by now.

Later that day we had some fish and chips for dinner and then headed out to a restaurant and hotel called Embleton Hall. This is where the 50th anniversary party was to take place and we would all spend the night there before heading out to the Isle of Arran the next morning.

Pete, Emma, Sue, Richard and Philip

The party consisted of a social hour to begin with and was then followed by a delicious meal. There were about 20 of us in attendance, including the owner of the hotel/restaurant, who must have felt weird being a guest at dinner in his own restaurant. I got to chat with some of my parents' friends and neighbours that I already know and meet some of my mum's old school friends, who I have never met before. My brother, Pete, got up to do a toast to them and also made brief mention to my nephews, Matthew and Philip, turning 18 and 21 years old respectively that week also. Then my dad proceeded to thank each and every one of us for coming to the party to celebrate with them.

Philip and Matthew

Left to right:

Ian and Shirley; Frank, Dad, Richard, Philip, Judy, Matthew, Me, Emma, Sue, Gillian, Pete, Hazel, Jim, Hazel, Tom, Mum and Trevor

I will start a new post for our trip to the Isle of Arran.