St. Jude’s Music City Half Marathon

If running for hours (3 hours, 1 minute, and 18 seconds in my case) trying to finish 13.1 or 26.2 miles is your thing, you might as well do it at a fun place and for a good cause. That’s why I recommend running the St. Jude’s Marathon in Nashville Tennessee, part of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series.

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I don’t, however, recommend running it at 4 weeks pregnant. You will have no energy and nausea will likely be your running-mate. All that aside… It was still so much fun!

There are plenty of distraction to get you through, including a competition for cheer sections throughout the race course. Awards are given for creativity with signs, encouragement, and snacks.

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In addition to the standard water and Gatorade fuel stops, people were handing out doughnuts, pizza, mimosas, coffee, fruits, and GU energy packs. All of these things help contribute to you getting those necessary second, third and fourth winds…

Collage 1Nashville is a beautiful city, so even if you only (ONLY?!) do the half marathon, you’ll still get to see plenty of beautiful neighborhoods, parks, and historical buildings. The Nashville Downtown Hostel happens to be right across from the finishing point of the race, so in addition to being fun and unique place to stay, it’s also super convenient!

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Keep in mind that a “short walk home” across the bridge is one thing, but a short walk across the bridge after running 13 miles isn’t really all that short at all. Probably the longest, “short” walk you’ll ever take…

There’s also a free post race concert for the runners! Last year it had several stars from the TV show Nashville. If you can find the energy to roll out of bed, it’s a really fun time.

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Last, but not least… you get a fancy medal too.

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So if you’re thinking of doing a distance run, try this one. It’s not that bad (It’s that bad), but it’s worth it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Starting 2014 Off With A Win!

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Somehow, I placed 1st for my category in a race I did over the weekend. I don’t know how it happened, I’m just excited that I got a medal.

The Dolphin Dash is a cute little race out on Anna Maria Island, with the proceeds going to the local elementary school. Around the halfway point, I ended up running next to a little girl who was by herself and seemed on the verge of giving up. She slowed down to a walk so I said, “Come on. You’re over halfway through. You can’t stop now!” And just like that, I had a new best friend. The second half of the race was spent talking about movies and music, instead of thinking about running and how much distance was left. It was a nice change. As hard as it is to talk while you’re running, it actually makes the time go by pretty quickly.

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I learned two things from this race:

1) If you need a confidence boost, sign up for a small race. Even if your time isn’t any faster than normal, you might place, which is always fun.

2) If you’re considering saying something encouraging to someone, you should just go ahead and say it. You don’t know how much the person needs it, you might make a new best friend and, lastly, you might get an awesome finish line photo out of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

So did anyone make any New Years resolutions? The Dolphin Dash was the start of mine. I’m hoping to run one 5k per month with the two friends who ran this race with me. They also placed! Great start for a resolution!

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In other news:

23 Days to Austin

69 Days until Nashville

72 Days until the Music City Marathon

Happy New Year!!!

Non-Beach, Beach Sunsets

While I love watching the sunset ( or sunrise ) on the regular beach like every other person…

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…there are some great places around the Bradenton/Anna Maria area that have some pretty spectacular alternatives, and they’re pet friendly too! Skip the crowds and watch the clouds change colors with views that stretch all the way from Anna Maria to St. Pete and the Skyway Bridge.

First there is De Soto National Memorial Park. I go here all the time with Keen…

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There are often other dogs running around, so he gets a little social time (Not that he really cares for it. He’s kind of a snob.) It’s much safer than the causeway, because you are nowhere near any roads, just the bay! Plus there’s a lovely boardwalk…

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And plenty of places to catch a beautiful sunset..

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Best sunset watching spot in De Soto goes to the built up embankment near the visitors center. There are several benches so you can comfortably watch the show….

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The major perk that this park has over the others: History. There are several monuments, a visitors center and events/reenactments, from various time periods, held here all year.

Next up is Robinson Preserve. Robinson is surprisingly large. You wouldn’t think there was enough space in Northwest Bradenton for a park this big, but apparently there is since it totals 637 acres. You can rent kayaks or a canoe and there are extensive running and biking trails…

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Boardwalks…

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… and some of the best birdwatching in Bradenton. I’ve seen everything from Spoonbills to Bald Eagles…

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Best spot to watch the sunset in Robinson goes to the watch tower…

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Robinsons best perk is it’s size. You can spend hours walking and not cover the same trail twice.

Lastly, is a tiny park on Anna Maria called “Leffis Key.” I’ve lived in this area my entire life, but I didn’t know this place existed until I signed up for a beach cleaning group. This park is definitely the smallest of the three, but still has a boardwalk…

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and great bird watching…

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(I know it’s just a pigeon, but I still love that picture)

What really makes this place special is the hill in the center of the park. By Florida standards it could almost be a mountain..

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From this spot, and a second peak on the same hill, you can get a 360 degree panoramic view of the best sunsets and sunrises that Florida has to offer. Definitely the best spot in the park.

6X0A5331This park is easy to miss, so what little Leffis Key holds over the others, is privacy. You will almost always be the only one taking advantage of the views that the hill baby Florida mountain provides.

I couldn’t pick a favorite, because they all have their perks, so you should really just check them all out. Let me know what you think!

Bicycle Commuting For A Month

That’s right! 31 whole days of only using my bicycle for the daily commute to work. In other words, 22.2 miles round trip, or a little over 500 miles in total. Not only did I get in my exercise, but I saved money on gas and I got to be outside to watch the beautiful sunrise every morning. Here are a few tips that I’d suggest if you want to try to ditch your car, like I did.

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1. Go to bed! When the alarm goes off in the morning, that’s where the biggest struggle always is. You might have every intention of getting up in the morning, when it’s the night before, but you’ll think of every excuse possible to justify not getting out of bed when the time comes. Take away the excuse of, “I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” It’s one less argument you’ll have with yourself the next morning.

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2. Be mindful of the weather! I don’t just mean the rain either. Cycling in the rain is nothing compared to pedaling home with a headwind! Seriously, it’s amazingly irritating. The weather variations we have in Florida are just really hot, hot and raining. All of which call for shorts and a t-shirt. Too much wind, on the other hand, calls for leaving the bicycle at home and driving yourself to work. When the going gets tough, the Tough get going. Whether or not it is windy dictates whether or not the Tough take the car or a bicycle.

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3. Before you try cycling to work, drive your route and make sure it’s safe for the entirety of your journey. Bike paths haven’t always been on the forefront of all city-planners minds. You don’t want to get halfway to your destination and discover you can either ride your bike in the street dodging semis or on the grass dodging potholes.

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4. If you’re going to use headphones, which I do, don’t use ear-buds or anything noise cancelling. If you’re listening to music or an e-book to pass the time, you definitely still always want to know what’s going on around you. Pay attention. Pay attention. Pay attention.

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5. Give yourself plenty of time, especially in the morning. You don’t want to start your day full of stress about being on time, or arrive to work covered in sweat because you were pedaling like a crazy person. Get up early enough so you can take your time, enjoy the morning, stop to take some pictures and still have time to cool off and settle in once you get to work.

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If I can go a month without taking my car to work, I can run a marathon, right? Time to start training!

Now park your car, get out the bicycle and start building those leg muscles!

Things To Come…

I realize I have posted A LOT about the Keys lately, but my horizons will be expanding once again, shortly. Here is a list of a few things coming up over the next few months or so…

Travely things…

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First, in November, I’ll be headed to London for the World Travel Market! This will be my first time at WTM and first time in London. I’m definitely excited for both! I know lots of adventures with new friends await, and that’s just the beginning. After London, I’ll be headed over to the Netherlands via a short stay Brussels. At least that’s the plan for now. After a couple weeks in the Netherlands, it’s back to London for (hoisting my inner nerd flag) the Doctor Who 50th Celebration! It took waking up at 5 AM and struggling for about 45 minutes to get through for tickets the day they went on sale, but my diligence was rewarded and I have a ticket to the (now sold out) event!

Marathon

Since leaving Nashville in May, I have done almost nothing but think about how I can justify a trip back. *Enter the Music City Rock ‘n Roll Marathon* Granted, the race isn’t until April, but at least now the dates are set! I intended to only sign up for the half marathon, but my running buddy signed up for the full. I’m not sure if my competitive nature or peer pressure is to blame, but regardless of the reasoning behind it, I am officially signed up for my first marathon, 26.2 grueling miles. What have I gotten myself into?? Actually, as far as marathons (aka running over 26 miles, in one shot… on purpose) go, this seems to be a pretty cool one. There are supposed to be bands at every mile playing live music, and then a big free concert afterwards. The race benefits St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, so that’s pretty cool too. It also gets me back to Tennessee. What more could I want?

More fitnessy things..

Bad Prom

In March, there’s another pretty awesome race happening in my area, and I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s only a 5k and it’s called the “Bad Prom Run.” You find one of your old prom dresses or something terrible from a thrift store, a group of your funnest friends, run/walk a couple miles and then have a big party after. Sounds like a good time to me!

DIYs..

I’m almost done with the interior of my Dome Top Steamer Trunk, I’m pretty excited to have that beast finished. I’ve also got a few other things thing in the works, but I don’t want to say too much. Spoilers! Between what I’ve got lined up for myself and friends, and all the estate sales/thrift stores that are calling my name There are plenty of project posts on the way.

Personals..

– turning 25 (since when am I a quarter of a century old?)

-finishing my undergraduate schooling

-applying for graduate school aka lots of stress

If you’re looking for live updates in real time on any of those events, I’m talking to you Doctor Who fans, be sure to follow me on any of the various social media platforms… facebook, instagram, vine, twitter… @CorneliaJoy! If you have any suggestions for London/Brussels I would really appreciate hearing them!

A Coronation, a Road Trip and Your Suggestions!

For all of us Dutchies out there, don’t forget to wear your orange today! There’s a new King in the Netherlands for the first time in over a century!

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The shirt really is orange, I promise. Two Thumbs up for the House of Orange!

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In other news, tomorrow I leave for Tennessee…

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I’ll be staying within the triangle of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. I think we’ll be heading right to Nashville to catch the memorial service for George Jones on Thursday. For live updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Other than that, I want your suggestions! Where should I go? What should I see? Are there any good races happening? What things are purely Tennessee, that we definitely should not miss?? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

DeSoto Heritage Festival

I have a love/hate relationship with the DeSoto 5k. The thing that makes this race unique/fun/intimidating is that the whole course is lined with people..

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That’s me in the orange shirt. We can pretend I am in first place if you ignore the older lady that you see way ahead of me.. Anyway, unless you’re this guy…

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… then you are probably not really, really ridiculously good-looking when you run. I look gross, sweaty and like I might die at any moment..

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… so the crowds can be pretty intimidating. That’s the hate part. The love part is that the people are also a great motivator. They are clapping and cheering the whole time. Plus there are lots of little kids that want high-fives along the way, like you’re some kind of pro-athlete. It’s very cute. I was also blessed enough to have some of my own family there…

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Plus a new friend! Overall, it was a great race, and I would recommend it to anyone…. and now for one more ridiculously good-looking guy meme…

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The Birthday Runner

I started this series to show that doing things alone can be a lot of fun. It gives you more opportunity to me such great people! Like yesterday, when I ran the DeSoto 5k. I arrived probably 45min early and then the waiting began. I had two choices. I could either stand around awkwardly, pretending to do things on my phone, or I could hang out with this girl…

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She’s trying to run 30 races this year! Pretty impressive. Plus, she’s about to start grad school in Texas, even more impressive! A simple, “Hey, have you run this race before?” and you’re introduced! So stop wishing you could be doing something and go out and do it! You only live once, right?

Multilingual Mom Problems..

Your mom might speak more than one language if…

She gets home from the Netherlands you have a conversation like this:

*Gets back from running and finds mom lying down in her room.*

Mom: “says something in Dutch that I don’t understand.”

Me: “I just got back. Sorry, did I wake you?”

Mom: “A few more Dutch sentences that I don’t understand.”

Me: “Ok…. I don’t know what you just said…”

Mom: “…more Dutch.”

Me: “Ok well I’m going to go take a shower.”

Mom: “Goed.” (Good in Dutch)

This happens every time and it is still so funny to me. I can expect that she will call me by her younger sister’s name at least three times, before she fully becomes Florida Mom again. Love you, Mom! ๐Ÿ™‚

32 Minutes or So…

I hope everyone had a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day. The Shamrock Run and Pub Crawl was even better than I thought it would be! They haven’t posted the official results yet, but my time was around 32 minutes.

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My mom was about one tenth of a mile before the finish line taking pictures, but she didn’t see me until I passed her.. Then I ran past my dad at the finish line and he didn’t see me either! Ayiyi. Thanks, Family!

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There’s everyone, complete with the dogs, and boy were there a lot of dogs there!

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Of all shapes and sizes..

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This wasย one of the most fun races I have done. The costumes, the food, the music… All of it was wonderful

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There was dancing..

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I got some use out of two t-shirts I made 2 YEARS ago..

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One says, “I’m Irish.. but don’t kiss me.” The other says, “I’m not Irish… but you can kiss me.”

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The food was delicious. Fresh fruits, every kind of sandwich wrap imaginable, cookies, drinks, granola bars and sweet potato chips..

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I was also really impressed with the band! I have no idea what their name was and I can’t fin it online, but they were great!

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If anybody knows, please tell me!

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That’s about all for now!