Thursday, April 18, 2013

Road Trip!

It was time to take a trip down to Fort Benning for work so I thought a road trip would be fun. After a quick search for races, I discovered the Knoxville Marathon was happening the weekend before so....
I decided to drive to Knoxville, hang out for a night, run a marathon because it was on the way :-), and then head to Georgia. After a week in Georgia I would travel to Alabama to spend a few days chillin' with Major Mary.
After checking in at the hotel, I headed over to the expo. I was shocked to discover how small the expo was. The marathon itself had only 700 or so people registered. I headed over to the Team 413 booth, talked to Chris and Kiki, and bought a few more shirts.
It was then time to find some dinner. The woman at the front desk suggested Market Street which was just a few blocks over. When I arrived, I found an art festival.

There were a lot of chalk art drawings on the sidewalk and even more people. In the middle of the excitement was a tent for a local brewery. Since I was planning on taking this training run very seriously (ha), I decided to try a local brew. I bought the souvenir cup, and the fella told me that he expected me to drink at least 5 beers to get the full discount on the refills. I planned to run 26 miles in the morning so I'd only be having one. He'd let it slide this time.
Plenty of people and chalk art...

My hotel was very close to the start so after a short walk, I was in the start corral. Knoxville does have a few hills, and I was expecting that. The first 13 miles went smoothly with plenty of foot traffic along the course as those miles were with the 7000 or so half marathoners. Since I had been having some IT band issues, I knew I could bail at the half if necessary.  Luckily the IT band was not an issue after previous trip to the ART doc and a lot of foam rolling.  Shortly after the half I started talking to Jason from Nashville. He told me we had already gone up the hill that was the course was known for during the first half. He was training for the Country Music Marathon by running the Knoxville marathon. After some good conversation, I was once again solo. It was around that time that I noticed how incredibly hot it was down in Tennessee.  I had brought along my S Caps, but that didn't help as much as I had hoped since I had been training in 40 degrees and the marathon temp was now 70+ and in direct sunlight. I was tired of water, and my body wasn't doing a very good job of processing it. It just kept telling me how thirsty I was. Just when I started thinking I really needed something.... ANYTHING... other than water, I entered the Island Home neighborhood. There was reggae music, the people of the neighbor hood were incredibly nice, and they gave me oranges. I seriously love oranges during a long run. I had four slices of oranges in those 2 miles. Those wonderful souls made my miles 21 - 23.

It was time to run my least favorite part of any big city race: the last few miles into the city. It is usually not shaded, is uphill, and is in a big city.  I normally avoid big city races unless I'm running with friends who want to run them.  This was a well done event, but I don't think these big city races are for me. This revelation happened around mile 24. Maybe I was just delirious. After the finish, a nice lady handed me a medal and a finisher's cap. It was a great start to an awesome road trip.

One of my favorite sections of the path

It was now time to travel to Columbus, Georgia, for a week of work. The next day my IT band gave me a little limp, and the foam roller made me want to cry, but two days later I was running along the Chattahoochee River Walk. Although, it had rained the entire week before I arrived, we were blessed with a gorgeous work week. That was a pretty big deal since we would spend the week working outside and in large tents.
Another day at the office. Or not.
I should have brought my trail shoes to work
I work with some great folks so it was a great week. I even got to pet a red tailed hawk courtesy of one of my coworkers. Cool, huh?

At the end of the week, I headed to Alabama to visit with my best friend from college. She is stationed at Fort Rucker and is a battalion XO. (Gee, Mary, how did we get so old?!)

We had dinner at a local place called The Rawls which is a historic bed and breakfast as well as a restaurant.  It also happens to almost have my last name. In our usual fashion, we decided to turn the next day into an adventure. We planned to drive south to Panama City, Florida, for breakfast, kayaking, and hanging out on the beach. It could not have been a more perfect day for it. It was 80 and beautiful. We took a boat over to Shell Island and then kayaked around the island to the beautiful Gulf side. The ocean was a little rough for kayaking, and I'm a wimp when it comes to water. I've kayaked in rivers, and in lakes, but never in the ocean. Thanks to Mary keeping me calm as a large wave picked us up and surfed us into Shell Island; I lived to tell about it. We paddled by a dolphin and the Blue Angels flew over while we were relaxing on the beach.
Breakfast in Florida
Mary on the boat to the island
Shell Island
Das Boot

After our island adventure, it was time for dinner: shrimp, crab cakes, and tuna dip. On the way into the restaurant we met the fellas on the left. I'm very happy to report that it was bird week for me rather than shark week. As the day drew to a close, we journeyed back to Alabama.  On Sunday, it was rainy and cold most of the day. That made it a prefect day to start the morning at a truly awesome coffee shop, Boldly Going. This coffee shop serves as both a place to put some pep in your step and a place to lift your spirit.

After spending most of Sunday relaxing, on Monday it was time for a long drive back to Ohio. It had been a great 9 days, and I am very thankful for those days. On the way home, there was a wreck that caused a standstill on I-65 for 45 minutes. There was a big fire and life flight was called. A long drive home was much smaller inconvenience than what those people were going though.  Unfortunately during the drive home, I heard about the bombing at the finish of the Boston Marathon.  Someone went out of their way to try and destroy people. Beyond tragic. That is in the realm of cruel and evil. After checking email upon my return, I learned that a former boss had a major heart attack, and the prognosis was bad. He has since passed away. All of these things cause me to feel even more thankful for my road trip and my life no matter what tomorrow brings. I have found that giving thanks to God extinguishes both anger and sadness when my life is difficult. When life is good, it amplifies that goodness a million fold. I just wish I could always keep my focus on being thankful.  Until that day comes, I'll just keep on working at it.

"If we have thankful hearts we are untouchable." - Ryan Hall


  1. Ultra Cassie, you need to do Comrades aka the Ultimate Human Race. It will change your life. Cheers, Werner ( Major Mary's South African buddy)

  2. LOL! Hey Werner... I know Mary put you up to saying that! Hope all is well on your side of the pond. - Cassie

  3. Hey Cassie - I did the up run this year-the Comrades up run its 87km long. I finished in 11h30. It was extremely hot : 32 celsius in the shade and 40 C on the road compounded by a strong bergwind of 50 kmph from the front. It was tough but next year I will be doing my third one. Cheers, Werner