Paying the Graciousness Forward: Please Help by Voting!

Time for another shameless plug! While in Lake Havasu, AZ last week you may recall that I met an absolutely wonderful family! They drive just as cool of a car as the company car and are in the running to Grand Marshall the Tour of LeMons in Monterey, CA in August. Please vote for them! It takes less than a minute!

They were so gracious to Abe and I – I can only hope to repay their kindness!


Touristy Tuesday: Lake Havasu, AZ Edition

We knew Lake Havasu, Arizona was going to be awesome before we even got to our hotel. I’m not kidding – before we checked in we had already made friends!

Abe and I had just crossed the London Bridge and were attempting to find The Nautical Beachfront Resort, to no avail. We pulled into a beach trying to turn around, but as it tends to happen with the company car, we were stopped by an enthusiastic crowd of paparazzi. I hopped out, partly to help with crowd control, partly to help us back out, and that’s when I met Ashish. After snapping a few pictures, he asked where we were headed and it turns out we were all staying at the same place – The Nautical.

Come to find out we actually have a lot more in common than what hotel we’re staying at. We followed him to the hotel and then shared introductions. It turns out that Ashish and his family are from the Chicagoland area! He lives in Naperville, IL (outside Chicago) and his family is from Freeport, IL. As a Rockfordian in my high school years, I am very familiar with the Freeport Pretzels!

Either out of excitement from seeing the company car (the likely reason) or from meeting another Northern Illinois Native, Ashish had extended an invitation to join his family on their pontoon boat before we even got our room keys!

In a rush to check in and get on the boat, Abe and I didn’t even have a chance to peek around the resort. Just some foreshadowing – we were not to be disappointed!

So off Abe and I went, on our first adventure of Lake Havasu. We joined Ashish, his wife, and her entire family on their pontoon boat. We crossed the lake (straddling the California and Arizona state lines) and headed up the channel. It was an absolutely gorgeous ride as we passed beautiful red rock cliffs.

After an hour and a half going up the river, we found a nice cove perfect for enjoying the water. The weather in Lake Havasu had been mild that first day, which still means triple digits. Up river it was warm, with a slight breeze, and ideal water temperatures. Neither Abe or I had our swim suits, but that didn’t stop us from wading out and taking it all in. The river was packed with the holiday crowds and people watching was just as much fun as the scenery!

When we went to head back to the resort we heard a sound no boat owner wants to hear – nothing. No revving of the engine, sound of the wake, or wind in the hair. The engine was dead. Were we worried? Hell no! More time on the channel! And the moms of the group were well prepared with snacks and beverages for us.

After the men of the group diagnosed the problem (it was in boat language, which I don’t speak, so I can’t translate for you) it was determined we would need a tow. One of the gentlemen caught a ride back to the resort in a speed boat to go pick up his own. While we waited for him to return I caught some Zzzz’s.

The way back we slowly but surely headed down the river. The Sea Tow (it’s like AAA for the lake!) stopped by and they decided to have it take the pontoon the rest of the way.

In the sake of efficiency, it was deemed a few souls would be voted off the pontoon and onto the speed boat – Abe and I, with all the eating out we’ve been doing, got the ax! Haha! It was great – we had the nice leisurely pontoon ride up and then flew back to the resort at 80 mph in the speedboat! I didn’t have sunglasses so I felt like Woody in Toy Story being propelled by a rocket! (90’s reference – I can’t help it, I’m a product of my generation.)

Wind-blown hair and slightly sunburned, we were back at The Nautical. Eager to get on the boat, we hadn’t had a chance to take it all in.

The biggest infinity pool in Arizona, our own beachview balconies, and a sandy white beach steps from our door – Abe and I were in heaven.

Of course with a start to a city like that you have to keep it going and we gave ourselves one hour to go from disheveled to dapper and dazzling. Challenge accepted and mission accomplished. (How many cliches can I use in one blog post? Should we start counting? Haha!)

Always trusting the locals (and a few tourists as well) we went to a dive bar downtown. Looking back, maybe not the nicest establishment, but we still had a blast. Half of the bar was made up by three types of people: enlisted Marines on liberty, UFC fighters taking a vacation before the Vegas fights that weekend, and people going to the Vegas fights. What I can say for the rest of the crowd is that you just never know who you might meet, especially this close to Hollywood…

The next day was the 4th of July. After a failed attempt at my weekly long run, and a TV interview on the local news, Abe and I were able to enjoy the holiday. I spent it grilling out, watching an absolutely gorgeous sunset over the Lake Havasu bluffs.

Nothing says the 4th of July like hot dogs and burgers, potato salad, and apple pie!

If I had planned ahead I would have loved to contributed one of my finer culinary works, the 4th of July fruit cake that I made in San Diego two years ago.

Having been on both a pontoon boat and a speed boat, we felt we needed to get one more outing on the lake the next day to call it complete. Naturally, we wanted to Jet Ski. Unfortunately, the banks of Abe and Kelly preferred to kayak.

We made it about 50′ out of the dock before we decided it was a little more physical than we were expecting, especially after that 4th of July feast! Our hour (which turned out to be closer to 35 minutes) on the water, was characterized by both of us just laying out, riding the waves back to the dock.

Even when your job seems like a vacation, eventually you have to get to work. This was the forecast for us. Yep, triple digits every day.

Between work and the lake, I also made sure to stick to my marathon training. I made it outside for two runs around the island during our time in Lake Havasu, for the four mile runs. For all my longer runs though I headed to Havasu Fitness downtown.

Excuse me while I sell out, but this place was AWESOME! Talk about the most friendly staff you could have at a gym. They were fantastic! I swear, I got in some of those workouts just because I liked seeing them. (I ended up getting in a total of 31 miles this week!) Friday night Abe took the company car to a BBQ we were invited to (I politely declined in order to finish 11 miles for the day) and the gym owner drove me back to The Nautical! What a doll she was!

On our last day in Havasu we ran into some friends we met earlier in the week. Like Abe and I, they drive a pretty attention-grabbing car.

Bonding over all the head-turning we create, Dale and Mindy invited us over for steak and lobster! I can honestly say I’ve never had the pleasure of Surf & Turf, and what a delight it was. Dale was an extraordinary chef and everything was delicious!

The meal was rivaled only by the company. Dale and Mindy easily one-up us for the coolest cars in the area.

From a 1929 Rio with wooden wheels to their Taxi, the two of them are known for taking awards like ‘Best in Show’ at car shows across the country.

Right now they’re in the running for the Sweetest Lemon to Grand Marshall a parade in Monterey, CA. Vote for them here!

It was our first night on the road where we got a slice of home. Hanging out with their son, dogs, and neighbors – it was the low key evening we were needing.

With that, we were back on the highway headed toward Monterey in the morning. The drive was long, but only because Abe and I stopped for just about every roadside gimmick and attraction available.

Vintage diners and berry picking? Yes and Yes!

Berry picking was fun, but we really only scored a bag full of blackberries. Easily my favorite (luxury, buy-only-when-on-sale) fruit, I was happy with our loot!

The trip ended on a high note. Last stop: In-and-Out Burger! Can’t go wrong there.

Up next: Monterey, Carmel Beach, and … a road trip to San Francisco?

Do you have any touristy tips for this coming week? I want to hear it all – where to eat, what to do, who to meet up with!

Where I Ran Wednesday: Havasu Island

I’ve been having so much fun traveling that I haven’t really written about my next goal: the Marine Corps Marathon this October!

I was one of the lucky few (and by few, I mean 30,000+) who were able to register for the race this year. I made sure to set three alarms, and thank goodness – the race sold out in a record time of just a few hours.

I knew I wanted to do this marathon for two reasons. First, my dad is a Vietnam War Marine Veteran. This is one way that I want to pay tribute to both his service and the countless others who have served our nation.

18 year old self with Dad in Hawaii!

Second, I absolutely love D.C. and hear this is an incredible race. Having an awkwardly overwhelming sense of patriotism, I know I’m going to be bawling my eyes out the entire race!

Scheduling this race is also perfect for living on the road. It is giving me a distinct goal that I have to work toward and not give up on. I can’t skip runs because I’m hot, tired, or whatever other excuse I want to make up. I thought, and it has, that training for a marathon would help me stick to my running program. It also might work toward (gulp) a 50k later in the year. That’s right, I said it. You know runners, always have to be striving toward the next goal!

I’m going with a more advanced training regimen than I used for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon this May. 18 weeks long and a max of 42 mpw, that plan certainly got me well prepared for the race. Now I’d like to bump that up into the 50s MPW and hopefully take my speed to the next level. Timing isn’t a big goal for me, but it isn’t irrelevant either! This plan actually has three 20 milers scheduled in it! Hope I’m living somewhere good for those bad boys!

With that, I’ve been sticking to my training. Long runs are probably going to have to make it during the week and shorter runs will likely be a mix of treadmill and street runs, depending on where we are.

Here’s a shot of my June running log (you might have to click on it to enlarge for nitty gritty details). I LOVE my Garmin 210 and all the data that comes with it. It just feeds that data junkie attitude I have. I swear, seeing those runs accumulate gives me the motivation to keep it going. Now I just need four more months just like this one!

Today I wanted to get out there and do my 11 mile run because it was cloudy and overcast in Lake Havasu. With a forecast of triple digits the rest of our time here, I knew this might be my only chance to get some serious mileage in. However, I hadn’t eaten in the morning and had been out the night before. That, combined with monsoon rains, pulled me in early at 4 miles. But hey – I got out there and still got one of my runs in.

Talk about a great place to run. The island path that I ran on was almost a perfect 4 miles. When you look out over the lake you can see California on the other side!

Later in the week I plan on running over the London Bridge. Yes, the London Bridge. As in “The London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.” It was bought in the 60’s and then transported over here brick by brick! More on that on the next Touristy Tuesday post!

With views like these, I imagine it will be easy to want to get out the door this week. Let’s just hope the heat doesn’t ruin things too much!