Monday, November 30, 2015
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Photos by OHventures
Quail Hollow State Park
13480 Congress Lake Avenue
Hartville, OH 44632
Quail Hollow State Park is a multi-functional park that has a variety of trails (14 miles total) accessible to handicapped individuals and experienced hikers alike. There is also a designated horse trail (5 miles) and mountain bike trail (4 miles).
I have taken readers to Quail Hollow to go sled riding and for a photo shoot. Now, I encourage you to go to this Stark County state park to go hiking! My good pals Greg and Matt joined me one crisp November morning to head out on an expedition to Quail Hollow. We knew the trails offered here are relatively short and are moderate in length, so it would be a light and non-demanding trip. We had a goal of making a 4-5 mile hike, which we predicted would take us 2-3 hours, with stops.
Driving into the park entrance, we parked at the trail head for the Sedge Marsh. This short 1/4 mile section of trail is made out of boardwalks. We completed that quick loop and then hiked the Meadowlands (1 mile), followed by the Beaver Lodge Trail (1.5 miles). We accidentally happened upon a portion of the bridle trails, which I do not recommend (there were a lot of "land mines" along the way that didn't make for a great hike). When all was said and done, we met our goal by hiking 4.4 miles in 2.5 hours.
During our hike, we actually stumbled upon a geocache! This was really neat, since I had never seen one before, and especially neat since we weren't even trying to locate it using GPS, like those who participate in geocaching.
One of my favorite aspects of the park is the herb gardens and the Carriage House Nature Preserve, which has educational exhibits and interactive elements. It's a beautiful old house that the Tall-Grass Prairie Trail wraps around. In addition to hiking, biking, geocaching, sledding, and horseback riding, other activities at Quail Hollow include: fishing, camping, picnicking, cross country skiing, volleyball, basketball, and special events.
Recently, as part of my 30 Before 30 Bucket List (which turned into 30 While 30 Bucket List), I scheduled a mini photo shoot with my friend Eric Battershell.
Eric is a local Ohio-based photographer who owns Eric Battershell Photography, and has become known across the country and the WORLD for his work. Most of his work is under what he calls "FITography," because most of his photographs celebrate fitness and physiques. He is constantly traveling, flying from state to state and even across the pond to meet his clients for stellar photo shoots!
It just so happens that Eric lives just around the corner from me in Stark County, Ohio. And he was more than thrilled to go on a shoot with me right in his own hometown (no long flights or layovers required). The purpose of the photo shoot was to celebrate turning 30, and to get some great professional shots for the blog.
We wanted to showcase a great Ohio spot, so we chose the nearby Quail Hollow State Park, where we went for a mini-hike while taking our photos.
Photos by OHventures
For all of those who read my blog to hear about my running escapades, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share with you one of my favorite races of all time, that happened to take place outside of the Buckeye State: the Across the Bay 10K located in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. While I may take vacations outside Ohio, it is rare that I do so specifically to run a race. However, this one was special!
My family and I rented a house on the Chesapeake Bay in Centreville, Maryland for an extended weekend get-away so that me, my brother, and his wife could all participate in the race. The Across the Bay 10K is the 6th largest 10K race in the country, with approximately 25,000 people taking part in the big event. What makes it so popular? The race course spans across the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is known for being the world's longest continual over-water steel structure.
It's also known as one of the "scariest bridges in the world," due to its low guardrails, frequency of high winds, lack of shoulders, and its extreme height (it is nearly 200 feet off of the water at its highest point). It spans 4.3 miles across the Bay, so the remaining ~2 miles of the race took place on the roads before and after the bridge (naturally). The money raised for the race goes to several charities, including Bay research and restoration, and breast cancer research.
For being such an enormous event, it was extremely well organized. Packet pickup was held the day before at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.The eastbound span was closed for traffic, which is where the run occurred. The westbound span was transformed into a two-way bridge temporarily for the day of the race. There were several designated parking spots where shuttles would transport runners to the starting line, and there were many different start time waves to eliminate congestion on the course.
For being November 5, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, with blue skies and a perfect temperature in the upper 50s/lower 60s (ideal for running).
I was dreading the incline during the first part of the race, but it was surprisingly not so bad at all! I think that the beautiful scenery, with water on either side of us, is what helped take my mind off of the giant hill we were running up. At the summit of the bridge, we of course had to stop and take some photos (I think most everyone did)! There were many photographers along the way as well, and a great deal of energy pumping through the streets. And our reward for jogging uphill to the top of the bridge was that, eventually, we got to run downhill as well!
Even with all of the stops we took for photos and just to soak in the view, I completed the 10K in a time of 58:21 (with my brother and his wife not far behind). I was thrilled with my time, and also with how awesome I felt after it was all done! We got some pretty awesome finisher's medals, which of course included the Maryland flag as part of the design (so did the t-shirts...pretty much everywhere you looked in Maryland, you'd see the state flag).
Afterwards, we returned to our cozy cottage and experienced a bit of Maryland by canoeing in the Bay, and eating some of the best seafood nachos and crab cakes I have ever had (at Doc's Riverside Grille). We also relaxed with the kiddos as we colored in adult coloring books and played board games. Every so often, it's nice to travel outside of Ohio and turn a running event into a four-day vacation. Ohio is situated in easy driving distance from so many other great states. It's one of the things that makes living in Ohio so fun!