Visiting—Andrew Jackson’s Home–The Hermitage

We noticed the signs for the Andrew Jackson home on our way to and from our niece’s wedding. We did not have the time on that trip to explore, so I planned this trip as a result. One of the many joys of retirement is being able to pick up and visit fun places.

Entry to the Andrew Jackson Hermitage

I enjoy reading history. A long time ago I read the Andrew Jackson biography. Earlier this year, on our way through Nashville, I noticed the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. Being retired, I planned a trip to visit the home for the seventh president of the United States. As a bonus, I listened to the audio book recording of Andrew Jackson and The Miracle of New Orleans, read by the author. This is a really good book and one to get you into the mood when visiting the house. Several of the museum artifacts are about topics covered in this book. One of the fun facts that I learned on the tour was that the Hermitage is the second oldest presidential museum outside of Mt. Vernon, in part because the Jackson’s adopted son went bankrupt about 11 years after Andrew Jackson’s death.

I took the Mansion tour; it was really well done. No pictures in the house were allowed, but you can see a glimpse of the inside on the YouTube video on the Hermitage website. The place was interesting. I think a tour on a day other than a Saturday would be at a more leisurely pace. It was good to see the guides in costume. They were all knowledgeable and well spoken.

Nearby the Hermitage is Stones River, the Civil War battlefield site at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I did a quick visit here, although spending more time is on the agenda for a future visit. The battle at Stones River follows the battle in Kentucky at Perryville, a site that I visited in 2019 with my friends. As anticipated, the battlefield was too much to see or take in on one afternoon.

Lessons learned:

I purchased my ticket on-line prior to my visit. This was good as several of the tours were sold out when I arrived. Also, in purchasing the ticket I realized the Hermitage is on Central Time and I am on Eastern Time.

I had the routes for my travel all mapped out and did not anticipate any possibility of rain. I should have thought about the possibility of rain. It did start to rain in Murfreesboro, but not too much. I think a better plan in the future is to check the weather forecast prior to booking or planning an outdoor event that is only about 4 hours away. No harm, as I can be flexible in my plans and I do not melt in the rain.

Other Fun:

I did not take the direct route back home. I was able to plan the round trip back home through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

On my drive, I found a fun place to visit in the future, on my way to locate a disc golf course in Jackson, Tennessee. A surprisingly large number of people (to me, who had not heard about this spot) were gathered at the Casey Jones Museum.  I think I will need to stop in the future and tour the museum, house and the rail cars.

I got out of the car to stretch my legs and play at least 9 holes of disc golf in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana.

I have seen a lot of corn from the highway over years. Until this trip, I had not seen cotton on the side of the road ready for the harvest or just harvested. The fields were pretty, all white and wavy. The big machinery ready to pick the cotton was in several fields along the highway; in some, I saw the tractors in action. I took a picture of a cotton field near Memphis, and it looks like it was doing just fine and ready for the harvesting machines.

One of the tidbits I picked up from the Hermitage tour was that Andrew Jackson tried to grow cotton.  Apparently, Nashville is at the far northern edge of the country that can support growing cotton. He did not do well growing cotton, although some small area of cotton growing is on display at the Hermitage.

All along my route I saw pretty colors. October is a fun time of year to drive.  The fall colors were nice to see, although some trees had already lost their leaves and others had yet to turn colors.

On my travels, I like to visit family and friends. On this road trip, I was able to visit with my mom and check out her new apartment. I also saw my younger sister, my in-laws and some friends along the way.

No bike rides on this trip as it was short. The National Park Service does encourage bike riders visiting the National Military Parks and Battlefields. I will have to think about that for my next visit.

Bike Riding on the Bourbon Trail

We completed the 2022 the Bourbon Burn bicycle ride this fall. It was a long time in coming as a couple of my friends and I signed up for the ride in January 2020.

We initially had the idea to find a 2020 ride for the three of us at the end of the 2019 outdoor biking season (around late October here in Kentucky).  We were looking for a ride that three of us could go on and have fun riding bikes, without any “race” pressure or fund-raising responsibility. We found the Bourbon Burn met the criteria with the added bonus of being about an hour away from where we lived.

Spots for the ride are limited, so for the Fall of 2020 ride we needed to sign up for the ride in early January 2020. Little did we know that we would not ride the event until 2022!

No event was held in 2020; we were allowed to defer until 2021. The event organizers did open back up for a limited ride in 2021, but we deferred again until this year, thanks to the generosity of the organizers.

The ride is a four-day event. One of my friends reserved a campsite at Kentucky Horse Park. We enjoyed the camping experience, even with two of us staying in a hotel. The base camp and camping area of the horse park allowed the other two of us to sample the camp experience.

We all drove down together on Thursday to register, set up the camp and get the lay of the land. The organizers had bourbon tasting on site. There was an optional short ride to both a distillery and a brewery that we did not ride. I think we only have so many days of riding in us as a group.

For the Friday ride we took the medium 45-mile route to Paris, Kentucky, with a visit to the Hartfield & Co. Distillery. It was cold (well under 50) at the start of Friday’s ride, and well under my preference for not riding below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The day did warm up to over 65 at the end of the ride. We all dressed appropriately and were comfortable after we got going. The route was very nice, the people we met along the way were friendly and the traffic on the road was light. Several people looked like they purchased bottles of the Hartfield products, so it was a good stop for everyone. Samples were available for us as well as the typical bike ride snacks and refreshments.

The base camp experience after the ride included tasting several bourbon samples and enjoying the meal on the grounds. A long day and one well worth coming down for the ride and spending the night in a hotel.

The second day of riding had us going to Bourbon 30, a distillery in Georgetown, Kentucky. We took the short route of 26 miles so we could enjoy the beautiful day. It was cold again at the start, just about 50 when we began, and it again warmed up nicely during the ride.

Saturday evening featured live music and distilleries sharing their product as well as the camp dinner. This is a great ride. If you enjoy bourbon and bike riding, like we do, it is a special treat.

The final day of riding placed us on the medium route of 37 miles in beautiful horse (and bourbon) country. We stopped at the site of the Bluegrass Distillery’s coming soon location at Elkwood Farm in Midway, which is currently under construction and opening in 2023. It was again cool to start the ride, but the warmest of the three mornings as we began the ride. The countryside was very pretty and the roads were a joy to cycle on.

After the ride we spent some time at the basecamp, ate some lunch and closed up and had our celebration of completing the three days of riding (108 total biking miles).

Other fun:

Ride preparations were a challenge for us retired guys. In 2019 we were training, i.e., bike riding 2-3 times a week and I was teaching Spinning® at a local gym. In 2022, we were all pulled in different directions, I was no longer teaching and we got together once or twice a week, often just once a week.

Most of our rides in Northern Kentucky go through the “town” of Rabbit Hash. This is a low point along the Ohio River and always a good place to stop and view the scenery. Being at a low point means you have to climb hills to leave the area.

We laughed about training. How do you train for the Bourbon Burn bike ride? Do we bring a bottle of bourbon for the ride and have a few samples and peddle back to the start? A fun joke and we never did do that. We trained by riding bikes.

Our one advantages on this ride is that we live in Kentucky and have to ride hills on all of our routes. One of our favorites, if you can call hill climbing a favorite, is Waterloo Hill. Back in 2021 I was the local legend on that route. No longer. I am not sure I went up 5 times this summer. Still, we did go up that hill and others along the training routes. The hill climbing practice was good as all the routes on the Bourbon Burn had rolling hills as a primary feature of the countryside; we were well prepared to take them on.

Many of our training rides take us from Big Bone Lick State Park and down 338 toward East Bend Road, with a good hill to climb or come back down. We often pass an old steam shovel and other historical markers as well as a ferry from Kentucky to Indiana. I did not make all of our “training rides” and neither did both of my friends. We did more training rides together in 2020 and 2021 than we did in 2022. These pictures from 2022 are places where we either stopped on the route or ended and turned back to the beginning of our ride.

We even managed as a group to see the newest Top Gun movie and gain some inspiration from an impossible mission.

The Saturday afternoon of the Bourbon Burn we were able to go into Lexington and play a round of disc golf, prior to going back at basecamp for the dinner and evening festivities.

See you on the road for our next adventure.

Re-discovering General Butler

We visited General Butler State Resort Park at the end of 2016. The lodge was beautifully decorated for the season and we took a few days to catch our breath from the year about to end and set our sights on what 2017 might bring. At the time we did not know that I would be retiring in 2017. Our two youngest kids had already moved out of the house and we needed to decide what we were doing with our house that was now bigger than we needed for just the two of us. At the end of hiking all of the park trails and enjoying the grounds we decided to sell our house and “right size” into a new place to live.

All of the decisions we made at the end of 2016 set us up for success in 2017, the year I retired, and we moved into our new home. The kids have come to visit and we have found places for them to stay in the new house. It was the correct call for us; we have been blessed with the decision to right size our living arrangements.

We recently decided to go back to General Butler State Resort Park and see what it is like in the summer. It was nice to see the lodge all decked out for the Fourth of July celebrations. We stayed in the lodge and set about hiking the trails.

One of the park amenities is a small lake. We spent an afternoon having a picnic lunch near the lake, playing some miniature golf, hiking around the lake and then taking a boat ride on the lake—which was for us like riding a bike as it was a paddle boat.

We noticed that a lot of geese and ducks also enjoy being around the lake. The boat attendant told us no swimming is allowed in the lake because the lake is “fowl.” Which is not as good of a joke in print. We likely saw over 40 ducks and geese near the shore during our short hike from the picnic area to the boat dock.

My only disappointment with the park is that the disc golf course was not yet completed. It looks like it must be close, and it looks like a good course is planned. I will have to come back after the course opens and give a report.

The General is William O. Butler, who was a major General in the US-Mexico war. He was also a vice presidential candidate (his ticket lost in 1848). He made war and politics a study after serving as an aide to General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.

The lodge was not open for dining during the week days (when we enjoy traveling). They did provide a bag breakfast which was nice, and we discovered that the local town had plenty of tasty options. We also swam in the municipal pool as the resort’s pool was being repaired. That was a fun adventure with a few diving boards and it was a short 3-minute drive from the lodge. The swim felt good after a hot day of hiking.

We enjoyed touring the General’s house which was closed the last time we visited. It is opened on the weekends and as we were leaving Friday, we were able to tour the house prior to our departure.

The hour plus tour was informative and entertaining and worthwhile to take. No pictures allowed during the tour. It does look really good inside. If you go, you should plan to take the house tour. We also stopped by the graveyard near the house while waiting for the tour. We found that looking at the family tree, as it were, was a good introduction to the family members mentioned on the tour.

The hiking is not too strenuous; we enjoyed re-discovering some of the hikes we had been on in 2016. We did a twilight hike after dinner and enjoyed the cooler temperature as well as seeing many lightning bugs. All of the trails were well marked and easy to follow.

No biking on this trip. Although a paddle boat is a lot like riding a bike, it is not the same.

Adventure at Fort Knox

When our oldest suggested we tour Ft. Knox, we said yes and we would like some samples… We did visit Ft. Knox and we did see the area where the gold is kept. We could not visit the spot where the gold bullion is housed, as no visits are allowed by the public. The signs near the entrance to the separately gated entrance also spell out plainly no pictures, although you can see it from the nearby road and if you perform a google search the term “Ft. Knox” a picture of the gold storage complex comes up. Staying safe, I have not included a picture.

We enjoyed a tour of Ft. Knox with our oldest who was staying there for training for several weeks. His wife and son did fly in and stayed with us for a week so they would be close. We enjoyed being with our grandson and daughter-in-law. We also found that E-town (Elizabethtown) is a great spot to hang out;  we were at Freeman Lake Park on more than one occasion.

The whole family got a personal tour of the base. It is separated from the gold reserves, and even our son (and all of the others on post) do not appear to have access to visit the gold. Like a lot of bases, it covers a large area. It was the training area for the tanks. That has since moved, although several tanks remain as historic fixtures.

We were excited to see the graduation ceremony. Fortunately, we live close enough to Ft. Knox to attend the ceremony. Not too many friends and family could attend as the program drew from all over the country.

Lessons Learned

I enjoyed the group of soldiers reciting the creed. It made me proud to be the father of an American Soldier. I do not think I had heard the creed recited as a group; it made an impact on all of us present watching the ceremony.

Other Fun

After the graduation ceremony, I was excited to run a 5k on base—it was a course just for me, designed by me to avoid sitting and waiting. Who else, other than soldiers stationed at the fort, can say they have run at Ft. Knox? Our soldier needed time to have his room on post cleared and checked prior to all of the graduation class leaving. I am sure there were several goodbye’s as well between all of the soldiers attending.

Attached to Ft. Knox, but entered by a public gate, is the Patton Museum. Outside of the museum are several tanks, which are no longer part of the training at Ft. Knox. It was nice to see them inactive and up close.  

I enjoyed my tour of the Patton Museum and will plan to come back with my friends and make a longer stay at the museum. I learned some good information about Patton as well as the museum’s focus on leadership in the military.

The museum gift shop is the only place to mention gold and the fort’s place in history holding the gold reserves. It had well done displays of movies made on the post as well as a representation from the James Bond movie that “took place” at the fort.

A sample WWII barracks is also outside of the museum, free and open to the public. It is a quick look into how my dad was probably setup for basic training in early 1940s when he was training in Texas for WWII.

The only place I saw a “gold bar” was at the visitor’s center, and they were designed as a kid’s coin repository.

No biking on this trip to Ft. Knox. Now I can say that I have biked on a military base (Ft. Jackson) and run on a military base (Ft. Knox).

Seeing Smoky Mountain Smoke

When I think about Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the “smoke” or fog that rolls in is always a pretty sight. We have been to the mountains before, and every time is special.

We were able to stay in a condo on top of a mountain on the top floor. This view afforded us a scenic look at the surrounding mountains as well as being up high when the bears came out to forage for food; we were well away from the ground. We were able to enjoy the evening and morning view from our porch.

We did hike trails and met up with our daughter and son-in-law with their dog. Dogs are not allowed, for the most part, in Smoky Mountain National Park, and so we went hiking with them in the Cherokee National Forest. Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the busiest parks and by contrast, the National Forest appeared deserted. We had not previously spent time in the National Forest; we enjoyed the differences in locations.

In fairness, the Forest Service does not provide many services, cell phone reception is spotty and the trails are not as well marked as in the National Park. The area of the Cherokee National Forest is about 650,000 acres (the National Park is 522,000 acres). It is huge! We only explored a small portion of the forest. We have a child who lives in Rhode Island, it is 776,900 acres.

If you are looking to get away, go primitive camping or hiking and get away from civilization, the National Forest has a lot to offer. I think most retirees are in for the National Park and the “younger” adventurers are in for a real treat in the Forest.

We enjoyed our brief exploration of the Paint Creek area, with the pretty scenery and the creek that runs through it.

Hiking in the National Park:

We think the popular trek up to see Rainbow Falls is well worth the effort. In contrast to the National Forest, we saw evidence of a lot of travelers along the pathway.  

Yes–We did the whole hike to Rainbow Falls and then a little more. We did not hike to Mt. LeConte

This was the best hike we took. A well-marked trail, easy parking (we were early in the day) and beautiful scenery along the way. While we were hiking, our kids in Colorado were telling us they were on top of one of the 14,000-foot mountains. We made it to an elevation of 3,970. This is a pretty good elevation in the land east of the Mississippi.

Laurel Falls Trail

We noticed the mountain laurel in bloom near Memorial Day as we climbed this trail. This is a very accessible trail, and we saw several strollers being pushed up and down the mostly paved path. The asphalt could use some repair; however, it made it easy for everyone who could to climb up to see the falls. The falls were pretty and the hike was a good workout.

Other Fun: We were staying above Gatlinburg and did stroll into town to see the sights and purchase milkshakes at The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar. A fun treat after a warm day hiking. We find that stopping for an ice cream cone or a milkshake is part of the fun and reward for hiking all day.

In addition to the bears near our condo, we had 3 other bear sightings. Bears are not as scarce as I had thought. I guess all of the people in the area lead to easy pickings for the bears.

Momma Bear and Cubs

No biking in the mountains. I am not a mountain biker and these would be hard places to start. We did see mountain bikers in the National Forest.

A Wedding at Ole Miss

We drove to Mississippi for our niece’s wedding with a stop along the way for my birthday dinner in Nashville.  Unlike our daughter’s wedding, all we needed to do was show up and enjoy the event.  

Our niece was married near the University of Mississippi, (where she met her husband) known as “Ole Miss.” I think the name is funny as our niece is no longer a “miss” and is certainly not “old” but I guess she is still an Ole Miss Alumni.

I was happy to learn that a rehearsal dinner could double as the reception for family and friends. The dinner was fun and all of the traditional speeches that normally accompany the wedding reception were made at that time. This made the speeches more intimate as most of us in attendance knew details about the speakers or the ones they were speaking about. I would like it if more weddings I attend in the future took up this tradition.

We appreciated that a bus was available for the wedding guests to take us to and from the hotel and the wedding venue. This was a great idea for all involved. I am not familiar with the area, and the guests were mainly from out of town. It also allowed us to focus on the wedding and reception and not to worry about how to get back to the hotel.

The wedding was in a pretty setting just outside of Oxford. The chapel was all white and well suited to the occasion. The couple was well organized.

We enjoyed the reception. It flowed with the introduction of the newlyweds right into dinner and dancing as all of the speaking was done the evening before. We could just chat with the other guests, dance, eat and celebrate with family and friends the newlywed couple.

Lessons learned

Combine things, like wedding speeches and rehearsal dinners when it makes sense.

The area has a lot of history, and we saw signs for some attractions on the road trip down, such as Shiloh National Military Park and Andrew Jackson’s house the Hermitage. We will need to plan for a bigger or separate travel to see some of these places.   

Other fun

We enjoyed our warm day stroll and did stop for ice cream after walking the Square in Oxford.

Our niece and now nephew provided us with a listing of their favorite places in Oxford. We really enjoyed walking around the square in Oxford and sampling their favorite spots. We appreciated their planning and enjoyed several of their selections.  

I went for a run on the Ole Miss campus. Apparently, it is a thing to run through campus, especially near the football stadium. It was a good morning for a run, prior to the wedding, and I ran past or with several other dedicated runners out for a morning run.

We were able to hang out with family and friends between events.

On the way to celebrate our niece’s wedding, we stopped in Nashville to celebrate my birthday. I had not really thought about going somewhere for the night to celebrate and now I think it was a fun treat. I may have to do that again.

We started our day at home as normal and took a drive that was halfway to Mississippi and ended in Nashville. I did manage to play 18 holes of disc golf and explore some of Nashville prior to enjoying a delicious dinner at Ruth Chris steak house in Nashville.

We were surprised to learn that the Parthenon is in Nashville; I always thought it was in Greece.

We had a nice time walking along the campus at Vanderbilt University while we were walking around Nashville.

Nashville is a fun town, but unfortunately, we were not able to spend the time to explore this town as much as we would have liked.

On our way home from the wedding, we were able to meet up with our oldest on his way to Ft. Knox for some training and eat dinner. Meeting in Elizabethtown (E-Town) was a nice treat for us at the end of our journey home from Mississippi.

No bike rides this trip—just here for the wedding.

Disc Golf in Nashville

A Mountain Wedding

Springmaid Mountain the morning of the Wedding

A father thinks a lot about walking a daughter down the aisle, knowing all eyes are on her. The main thought I had while walking her down the aisle was what her new life will be like. I was proud to walk my daughter down the aisle. Yes, the acceptance of the engagement last year led to my daughter getting married this year at Springmaid Mountain resort. It was the best of times for all of us present.

Family and friends came to celebrate and we enjoyed the time spent with them all. I was happy to whisper a word of advice to my soon to be son-in-law.

The ceremony was planned as an outdoor wedding and as sometimes happens in life, it rained on the wedding day and was moved inside. It rained on our wedding day as well, and we have been married for 37 years. I imagine the weather on one day has no determination on the future longevity of a relationship. We enjoyed the inside event and were able to take some pictures outside as the rain came and went all day.

We enjoyed the Springmaid Mountain weekend, plus as we were able to hike and walk around the beautiful setting that the couple picked out for their wedding.

I have not previously been part of the chaos that occurs when the bridal party is getting ready. All of the hair and makeup occurred in our cabin. My role was to keep everyone happy, get anything required (sometimes after it was explained to me what it was) and to provide drinks to the bridal party and the moms.

We had a fun cookout on the porch; thank you to our son who cooked lunch for the bridal party. During any event with a one-year-old present, it is normal that he will steal the show, outside of the main wedding event.  

Any time for me is a beautiful time to be in the mountains. No matter what happened on that wonderful day, rain or shine, they are married and all who celebrated with them were happy to be at the event.

Other fun:

Running with our oldest in Charlotte. We did leave at the same time, he went farther and finished before we did. It was still a good family run.

Hiking with family (not the bride and groom) prior to leaving the mountain after the wedding. We hiked to the falls. Not too far away from the parking area.

No bike rides here; we were here to celebrate a wedding!

Colorado Road Trip

We decided to skip the airlines and take a Christmas Road trip at the end of the year so we could enjoy being grandparents in Colorado for Christmas and New Year’s.  This trip was the longest driving vacation we have taken in a while, almost 3,000 miles by the time the trip was over.

With a grandson in Colorado, Christmas and New Year’s together sounded fun. One of my goals in retirement is to spend time with family and friends. With an event like a baby’s first Christmas and New Year’s, we could not resist taking a road trip. We monitored the driving weather and thought we could make it without issue, so we set out to drive.

We were also able to make a few stops along the way; it is important to have small stops to break up a long road trip. Our stops included seeing my in-laws, my mom, and friends.

Proud Grandparents!

Christmas is best enjoyed with little kids. Our grandson made it special for us and we were so happy to be there with him.

Initially, we were worried about Colorado snow. We did not have any driving issues with snow on our way to or from Colorado. It did snow when we were in Colorado, and it made it fun to play outside.

The Colorado Springs snow did not last long, and we managed several walks and hikes in the sunshine and cooler temperatures.

Playing inside when the weather was cold outside was enjoyable, since as grandparents we are obligated to spoil our grandson.

Other Fun

On the return journey we spent the night in Wichita, Kansas. As you drive through it, most of Kansas is empty fields and straight highways. We found our night in Wichita to be fun and the walk around downtown was neat to see. We saw most of the sights in the Veterans Memorial Park and appreciated the rich history on display there.

We did not know about the Keeper of the Plains prior to our stumbling onto it on our hike in Wichita. You can see the Keeper of the Plains where the big and little Arkansas river join near downtown. We enjoyed our hike around the town, and this was one of the main attractions.

Driving in a January, we expected some weather-related issues. We were chased by a snow storm making its way to the east while driving at the end of our trip near Nashville. Our final stop was a visit with a college buddy who called us as we were a few hours away and warned us about pending snow fall. We enjoyed a few hours at his house, went for a walk and visited and decided to drive home rather than stick around for the almost half foot of snow that fell later that evening.

Playing disc golf in Colorado with the family was a good time and we all had fun on the 9-hole course. Our grandson got to swing which made him happy!

I was able to take my mom out to dinner for her birthday, okay, a few days early. It was great to see family and friends along the way to and from our house. I need to remember to get out and see the world, connect with others and be present.

No bike rides in Colorado on this trip.

Charlotte Greenway–on a warm fall day

Virtual Runs Made Real

I began training in 2022 for all of the runs (“races”) that I did virtually in 2020. I wrote about my training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half-marathon in 2020 and then, due to COVID, running virtually (but still running) in my neighborhood. I am thankful that it was an option. However, running loops in my neighborhood does not compare to running an in-person race, so I was determined to run the formerly virtual events in person.

I ran a test in-person Flying Pig 5k in October of 2021. After participating in that event, I thought it was a safe bet that all runs in 2022 would be in-person. I knew that with training, I could run all of the events that were virtual in 2020 as in-person runs. So, I signed up for the training program I began in 2020.

2022 Training:

The winter of 2022 was cold as I prepared for my in-person half marathon, and I was again thankful for the support of a training group.

Doing any activity with others is motivating and rewarding. As Shawn Achor wrote in the book Big Potential: “If you look at a hill alone, your brain perceives it at 20% steeper than if you are standing three feet from a friend. Our perception of challenge literally transforms when we include others in our pursuit of happiness and success.”

A big thank you to my training buddies, my coach Karen and the Tri-State Running Company Shoe stores for getting me ready to run the half marathon. We spent quality time running in the dark and on cold mornings preparing for all of my upcoming events.

The virtual runs that I wanted to complete were the Heart Mini (a 15k run), the half marathon (a 13.1-mile run) and the Big Ten Network 10k run. My training group was dedicated to training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon on May 1.   

The training surprise for me was that the only event from the 2020 training plan I did in-person was postponed 3 weeks in 2022 as the weather was too cold and “frozen” on the planned race day in early February. The Frozen 5k put on by the Cincinnati Cyclones  originally fit in nicely to our training program. The revised event pushed onto the training program created “the need” for a 9-mile run that weekend. My coach, and most of the others in our training group, weaved in a 9-mile run with the 5k event. We finished the last mile running back to our starting point in Kentucky. I had never done a “race” with a 5-mile warm-up run prior to the start.

I was happy to arrive at the starting line for the 2022 Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon on a cold day at dawn in March. About 1,500 runners were present at the start of the 15k run. I ran mostly with my coach and the running group, only getting separated on the one big hill during the run. This event gave me the confidence that after this run that I could keep my tempo (11-minute miles) on longer runs in the Cincinnati area. The training was paying off.  

Spring eventually came and warmer temperatures replaced the cold temperatures during the training. I was impressed with the training group practicing the “big hill” from the half-marathon course as well as running a lot of the course as part of our training prior to the event. Since it was training, we could spend all of the time we wanted looking at the river, enjoying the sights downtown, so we could concentrate when we were running the event.

The in-person Cincinnati Flying Pig was more exciting than I had anticipated. The buildup began with the Expo that was a few days prior to the run. Yes, you can pick up your bib and shirt. It was so much more than that with running accessories for sale, goodies from vendors available and a lot of people having a good time together because we are all runners and walkers.

The expo had a fan friendly Photo booth that allowed us all to see ourselves crossing the finish line. The expo was well worth the time to visit and see the sights. I was psyched up for a great run after leaving the expo.

The day I had been waiting to experience for about 2 years was here on May 1. I did enjoy the training runs, getting to know my fellow runners and more about myself. The event with all of the people everywhere and all of the excitement just radiated energy. It was so good to experience.

The half marathon is on the first Sunday of May. Running the event was an experience that I was totally prepared for physically, although I did not anticipate the crowd and all of the people running the event with me.

In preparing for the run, I realized that one of my running problems is starting too quickly. I really enjoyed the large crowd at the start of the Heart Mini because the crowd of runners and some walkers forced me to slow down at the beginning. The same thing happened on the marathon day as we started 11 minutes after the official start due to the large number of people running faster than I can. Others behind us took even longer to get to the starting line. We were so far away from the start that we did not hear the announcements. I think there were about 10,000 runners between the half and full marathon participants.

We are all looking good and ready to run. The sign helped keep us together for the first 2 miles.

For the first 8 miles the full and half marathon runners were together. The crowds were all along the route, even after the half group split off. The encouragement was contagious. I was so happy with my pacing and run management that I actually ended up exactly at my goal time of 11-minute per mile pace. I was tired, happy and sore at the end of the run and somehow sad it was over. Because of all of the other runners and the presence of the training group, I had the confidence in my training and was able to finish the half marathon.

I called my friend Bill from college (Michigan State University) who marched with me in the MSU Marching Band and asked him to join me in running the Big Ten Network 10k. I was thrilled when he agreed to join me to train.

Wearing the school colors, just no E flat Cornet and music to play and no plume on our hats!

In 2021, I ran this run virtually on the campus of Michigan State University in celebration of my graduation 40 years prior. That was the second year I had run this 10k virtually. 2022 was the year to return to in-person running, so we needed to go to Chicago and run the event. Bill was in, and we joined together for the Big Ten Network 10k run in downtown Chicago.

Hard to believe this is the first time we have been together in over a year. And only a few years from graduation!

The 10k excitement began with the packet pick-up. Chicago had positive messages for us even during the packet pick-up.  I was happy that my oldest could join me for the run, and I got to spend some quality time with him on the ride up and back. He ran much faster than us older guys, so we saw him prior to and after the run, and once we glimpsed him on mile 4 as we were completing mile 2.

The day began walking from the hotel; we stayed on Michigan Avenue so we were close to the start of the run. We liked the look of Grant Park and followed several other runners to the start of the run.

Not quite sure how many runners were involved. Some reports say 6,000 runners participated in this year’s event. No matter what the number, it looked to us like there was a lot of Big Ten supporters running on Sunday morning in Chicago. We were at the back of the run, and two waves of runners began prior to our start. MSU was the second most represented school behind Illinois. We were happy to be well ahead of Michigan and all other big ten schools. Bill joked during the run that next year we can run a 10 miler and have a 16.1k run due to the Big ten expansion to 16 teams.

The course wound along the shores of Lake Michigan, and it was a clear, sunny day. A perfect day in July for a run along the Lake.  All told, we did well during the run ending about half-way timewise for our age group. Bill and I finished together, and we were happy to have run the event and shared some more in life together. I was inspired by him as he pushed me to run this event during the event. He was in great shape for the run and I am sure that I held him back from running a faster race.

My son cheering us on at the end

Other Fun

My two oldest also ran half marathons on the same day as I did. I finished first, having started first. Their times were faster than mine. What great support they provided to me by running a half marathon on the same day as I did. Next year I am hoping we can all run the same event.

I participated in a virtual 5k with my daughter. I was at home and she was out in North Carolina. So, she did the run live, and I did another virtual run.

I was able to walk around downtown Chicago and explore the area with my son and Bill. We had fun in the windy city. I reminded my oldest that I took him and his brother here by train when they were 6 and 3. He did not remember. We had a blast visiting the city from a new perspective.

While in Chicago at Grant’s Park, named after US Grant, I was surprised to see the statue dedicated to General John A Logan. He was impressive, but I did not see a statue for Grant in the park.

General John A Logan

One of my kids joined me for a practice run (just about 1,000 runners) over the July 4th weekend getting ready for the 10k run. I set a PR for a 5k. Although I started too quickly, I did feel good running with the crowd and some of my running buddies from the half marathon training.

No bike rides but one more actual (bike) event coming soon.

No bike riding for the running blog

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