In case you missed it, I began this travel down memory lane with my 40th birthday in 2012 (What Can Happen In a Decade? Part 1). I’ll pick back up here beginning with February of 2018. As before, I’ll focus on the races I ran and places I traveled to during the latter part of the decade I’m going over.
As had been the case for several of my previous birthdays, my birthday in 2018 was also spent while on vacation, this time in the Canary Islands. That vacation began with Carnival in Gran Canaria, where we spent a few days before taking a ferry to Tenerife for a week. Shortly after getting home from the Canary Islands, we took a quick trip to Williamsburg, Virginia for some time at Busch Gardens, ax throwing, and touring the historical grounds of Colonial Williamsburg. Then we were off to my first half marathon of the year in beautiful Boise, Idaho in May. I was blown away by the beauty in Idaho and would love to explore more of the state, especially Coeur ‘d Alene.
June of 2018 included a long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, one of few places I’ve returned to many times over the years. In August, I ran my second half marathon of the year in Anchorage, Alaska. We also spent time in Denali National Park, saw glaciers, dog sleds, bears, puffins, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. That November we went to a tiny town in Arkansas where I ran my fastest half marathon at the time and from there went to Hot Springs National Park. We finished off November with a week in Grand Cayman Island where we saw iguanas, caves, swam with sting rays, and relaxed at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Finally, we went to Asheville, North Carolina to tour the Biltmore House, all decorated to the hilt for Christmas.
In February of 2019, I got to spend my birthday week in Hawaii where I went to Oahu for the first time and back to Kauai. I did plenty of hiking on both islands, went ziplining, ran, spent time on the beaches, and discovered standup paddle boarding. That May, I ran a half marathon in Delaware where I finished second in my age group and my daughter finished first in hers. I also went to my first float tank and found it worked wonders for my post-race recovery. Two months later I was off to Peru where I acclimated to the high elevation in Cusco for a few days before doing a multi-day hiking and camping trek to Machu Picchu, followed by a day hike to famed Rainbow Mountain, and several days in Arequipa. This trip was truly a trip of a lifetime and one I’m glad I did when I was young and healthy enough to easily handle the difficult hikes and elevation.
With the year only half over, in July of 2019 I was able to spend time in yet another wondrous area of our country, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. But first, I ran my fastest half marathon to date in tiny little Thayne, Wyoming. I’m not sure which I liked better, Grand Teton or Yellowstone but they were both undeniably beautiful. The summer of 2019 was filled with as much standup paddle boarding as possible at home (and I also did some in Grand Teton NP) plus a bonus long weekend in Hilton Head, South Carolina. That October I spent some time in Omaha, Nebraska for a half marathon and exploring the city.
Little did I know what hell would soon be unleashed when I took a vacation in St. Petersburg, Florida in February of 2020. It’s a good thing that was such a fun trip, full of standup paddle boarding, museums, running, and of course beaches. In March shutdowns related to the pandemic started happening and we still had no clue when this whole Coronavirus pandemic would be over nor did we have any clue how to protect ourselves, at least not in an educated way; everyone was merely guessing what the “right” thing to do was then.
I was supposed to run my final three half marathons from my 50 states quest, beginning with New Mexico in April then Minnesota in June and Iowa in September. All three races were postponed or cancelled and my planned vacation to southern Spain and Portugal in June was pushed back to August before being completely cancelled. After being stuck at home for so many months I felt safe enough to plan a trip to Greenville, South Carolina in June for a long weekend, knowing the vast majority of that time would be spent outdoors. This was a place I could drive to and like I mentioned, we spent our time in parks hiking, running, and walking along the waterfalls there.
My daughter and I went hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in July of 2020. We saw several bears, one up-close, and put in some major hiking miles on the many trails there. Later that month we took another road trip and went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, specifically Kill Devil Hills. It was right before my daughter started her junior year of high school and was a nice break for her and me as well. We ended the year going to Christmas Town USA in quaint little McAdenville, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte. The entire town is decorated for Christmas and you can stroll around looking at the lights while you sip hot chocolate. I tacked on a trip to see the Tanglewood Festival of Lights in nearby Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It’s in a large park with more than a million lights and almost 100 displays that you drive though slowly.
Hopeful that 2021 would be better than the previous year and being vaccinated against COVID-19, that March my daughter and I flew to Tampa, Florida for her spring break. Tampa is right beside St. Petersburg, which was ironically the last place I had flown to before the pandemic began. We swam with manatees, saw dolphins spontaneously splashing around in the water by a park one morning, came across peacocks in someone’s front yard, went running many days, and spent as much time as possible outside.
In June 2021, I ran my first half marathon since the race in Omaha in October 2019. That was my half marathon for Minnesota and I also had my first blogger meet-up for lunch with The Travel Architect and her husband. My daughter and I spent a day in St. Paul and Minneapolis, a few days in tiny Lake City where the race was, then after the race drove to Duluth for several days where we went to state parks and did plenty of hiking. The weekend of July 4th was spent in Atlanta, Georgia to run in the Peach Tree Road Race, the largest 10k in the world. My daughter and I both got in through the lottery system for the race and it was one of my favorite races ever. We also went to the botanical gardens and went hiking at Stone Mountain.
My daughter’s Girl Scout troop had been saving up money for a backpacking trip to Yosemite National Park for a couple of years and thanks to the pandemic we had to push it back from 2020 to 2021 but we were finally able to go in August. We carried everything we needed for the next five days on our backs and with the help of the outstanding guides at Lasting Adventures we all had the adventure of a lifetime hiking and sleeping under the stars.
I had my first solo vacation in October 2021 when I flew to Des Moines, Iowa for a half marathon in my 49th state. This was also my fastest half marathon to date and one of my favorite races ever. Just a few weeks later I flew by myself to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a half marathon in state number 50. Compared to the race in Iowa, this was a bit of a letdown, which is a shame considering it was my grand finale. Still, I was happy to have the experience as a whole, not just the race in New Mexico but the experience of running a half marathon in all 50 states. I topped off that race with some time in Santa Fe (mostly hiking), a place which I absolutely loved. When I got home, I was greeted with helium balloons galore throughout the house, homemade cupcakes, and a nice card from my daughter congratulating me on completing my 50 states quest.
January of 2022 began with some good news, that I had been selected for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, D.C. through the lottery. That was followed by some bad news that the Krispy Kreme Challenge I was supposed to run in February had been changed to a virtual run. I opted to defer to 2023 instead. My 50th birthday in February was a special one that I spent with friends and my daughter, with celebrations and gifts spread out over the week. Turning 50 bumped me into the next age group for races and I’m curious to see how that fares for me.
Well, that’s it! A decade full mostly of running, travel, and hiking! I’ve had so many once in a lifetime experiences during the last decade of my life it’s been incredible and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next decade of life brings me!
Happy running and travels!