Monday, August 4, 2014

Maine Magic - Part 1

     Tears stream down my face for the first 15 minutes of the flight. Everyone wants to go home. I feel like I’m leaving mine. Sure I’d like to be in my own bed tonight, but there isn’t too much puling me back there. I could plop that same bed anywhere. Yes, I have friends, family, a passion I care about in Jacksonville - but I have those things in Boston too. The thought hit me as we flew over Hingham (tears still flowing) that this past weekend’s trip was just a two hour drive from “home” in Boston - no different than the two hour drive to Orlando/Disney from Jax that I have made so often in the past 20+ years. Would I miss that drive? I really don’t think so. But all the newness and beauty I could discover in two hour drives from Boston? Now THAT I could get used to. 

     My trip to Maine this past weekend was full of magic - the unicorn & rainbows (double rainbows even! ;-) ) kind of magic - that I am always so very thankful to be a part of. I had never been to Maine prior to July 31st, 2014, and I was so looking forward to this trip! Not only would I be traveling to Maine but I would be doing so in my position as Social Media Butterfly for 26.2 with DONNA. Then to add on top of that I would actually be traveling WITH Donna, her husband Tim, AND my friend & the executive director of 26.2 with DONNA, Amanda - well, could it get any better? Yea - it could! Throw in a historic 10k on the coast, Meb, Shalane, Ben True, Dave McGillivray and spending time with Joan Benoit Samuelson just days before the 30th anniversary of her historic gold medal performance in the first ever Olympic women’s marathon… I might burst from anticipation! 

Magic. All of it was just MAGIC!

     Thursday morning we arrived in Boston, hopped in our rental car and drove the two hours north to Portland, Maine. It was a beautiful drive thru rolling landscapes of lush green trees and really cool rock cliffs. When we arrived at our hotel and stepped out of the car, I was immediately hit with the very strong smell of the salt-filled air. The seaport was just across the street and you knew without a doubt that you were in a fisherman’s town! The gulls were squawking loudly all around. It was just a classic New England coastal scene - and I LOVED it! We dumped our bags and headed up the hill to lunch. We ate at a lovely little restaurant in the “business” district part of town called David’s. It had outdoor seating and since the day was flawless, we sat outside. I, of course, had to order a lobster roll for two very obvious reasons - 1. I’m in Maine - ya know, MAINE lobster! and 2. I had to compare Maine lobster rolls to Massachusetts lobster rolls! (I still say Boston’s Barking Crab wins. That’s just my opinion though!) 
The Lobster Roll at David's Restaurant
     The mood of this trip was different than any other expo trip I had done for 26.2 with DONNA. For the first time I was traveling with BOTH of my bosses. Some might be nervous about that but I took it as an opportunity to learn and grow as well as become closer to the cause I feel so passionately about! The other completely new thing for me was the fact that this expo was only open during the second half of the day! We had all morning and into the early afternoon to “do other things” before working the expo! It was so much more of a relaxing way to do things! So we leisurely enjoyed our lunch, walked casually back to the hotel, got ourselves together in our rooms and then headed to the expo to set up and work. 
Beach to Beacon expo 2014 at Cape Elizabeth High School
     The expo was in the gym of Cape Elizabeth High School. Small but effective and flawlessly organized! Bib and t-shirt pickup was a breeze, a variety of vendors with all of your running needs and LOTS of free food! I like free food! We were stationed next to a coffee company, Coffee By Design, who create a special blend each year for the Beach to Beacon 10k. Being next to them was somewhat tortuous as they would often grind the beans for their customers but were not able to brew any of it - the smell was amazing! Needless to say we all went home with a pound of coffee by the end of the expo! The local grocery store had quite the giveaway line with healthy veggie chips, Cabot Cheese and Cliff products. And get this, one of the vendors was cooking and serving up bowls of fabulous pasta creations to everyone for FREE! Simply amazing! And they do this EVERY YEAR! 
Coffee By Design
     At the end of our first night, we headed to a restaurant back in Portland called Boone’s. Located on the waterfront of busy and bustling Commercial Street, we window shopped along the way, pointing out all the fun stuff we wanted to come back and look closer at later. When we walked into Boone’s, we were met with the smell of cedar planks and wood fired stoves. The menu was tantalizing - and we were starving! Donna and I shared bacon scallops with a sweet potato puree and stole a few of Tim’s grilled mussels. Superb! We couldn’t get enough of the bacon scallops! They were divine! I ordered fresh caught Maine haddock in a beure blanc with bacon risotto (see a theme here?). The fish was wonderful. The risotto a little undercooked but still good. When you're a cook, you get a little picky with stuff like that! They also delivered to our table fresh Maine blueberry bread! My first, and thankfully not my last, taste of Maine blueberries! Yum! I added a local Shipyard Summer Ale and my meal was complete!

Boone's Fish House & Oyster Room
     Friday morning, Amanda and I went for a run along the waterfront. Just about a half mile from our hotel was the perfect waterfront trail for running. We went out for two miles and came back. The morning was warm and sunny but nothing like Florida heat - and it was already 9am! We would have died at that hour back in Jax on a run! Along the path was the local marina busy with sailing lessons and camp kids, an actual train called the Polar Express, and beautiful, un-ruined by human hands wildflowers growing all along the railroad tracks! There were trails that lead up into wooded areas that I so wanted to climb and explore but we didn’t have the time for. We also came across a few critters that we later discovered were woodchucks! (Insert the classic how much wood rhyme here!) It was simply beautiful and I soaked in every moment of that run! 

Our Friday morning run!
     Conveniently at the end of our four mile run sat the rather famous bakery The Standard Baking Co. So we immediately headed there for iced coffees and scones, then sat outside again in the perfect weather to enjoy them. 

The magic at Standard Baking Co.
     We returned to the hotel to clean up and get some work done before heading to lunch at Joe’s Boathouse. See? I told you, this was a very laid back expo trip! If only they were all like this! What a great way to see a town! At Joe’s I once again ordered a lobster roll, still in need of trying and comparing. (David’s was better!) 
Lobster Roll and homemade chips at Joe's Boathouse
     We headed to the expo for the final day. On this day we got visits from Joanie & Dave. Both days were filled with seeing old friends, meeting new ones and hearing many stories of loss, survival and hope. It can be hard to be surrounded by that but I was especially sensitive this time as I was about to go in for my first ever mammogram. Hello 40! The comforting part is that I truly believe that through our efforts to help fund the research at Mayo and with Dr. Perez’s incredible work, we WILL find a cure in MY lifetime. I really do believe that!
Donna & Joanie
     Friday night, Portland and Commercial Street came alive! So many people were out, music blaring from various locations, and a sense of “the weekend is HERE” everywhere! It was so fun walking through that to dinner! For the first time ever my pre race meal was a burger! That is usually my go to for post race or long run! But why not do it up different! We went to Elevation Burger, a grass-fed beef burger joint. I ordered an Elevation burger with cheddar, bacon and caramelized onions. It was awesome! The cheddar tasted extra cheesy and truly made the burger! 
On the rooftop deck at Elevation Burger - YUM!
     Race morning was filled with excitement. This was my first Beach to Beacon 10k! I heard it was hilly but I felt ready to tackle it! Part of me wanted a PR and the other part of me was scared and thought well maybe I’ll just take pictures… But you'll have to wait until later to find out about Saturday and Sunday's MAGIC!