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After dragging my big sis Margaret along on my Upstate New York adventures all over Keuka Lake, Corning, and a glass-blowing workshop, we were both happy but exhausted. And my road trip wasn’t over yet! So we headed up to Margaret’s hometown of Rochester, New York, to really relax for a weekend. You know, lay around the house, play with her pup, BBQ in the back yard… and run a quick 10K. You know. All that low key stuff.

Wait what?

Rochester Lilac Run

Rochester Lilac Run

My sister Margaret is a passionate runner. I watched her run the Philadelphia marathon back in November, and that’s just one of dozens of races she enters each year. She’s also a running coach at her local running club, and helps slow-pokes like me motivate to get moving. When she asked if I wanted to join her in the at Rochester’s annual , I saw there was a 5K and said sure, sign me up! However we quickly realized that the 5 and 10Ks had different start times and it would be logistically difficult for us to do different races.

So in a haze of hubris, I ambitiously signed up for the 10K as well. Many, many K’s. I knew Margaret would be running to place, however, and didn’t want to suffer alone. Thankfully, Bearded Bartender was returning to North America around this time from Thailand, and I was able to rope him into meeting us in Rochester to be my running buddy.

Rochester Lilac Run

We did it. Margaret placed sixth in her age group at forty-five minutes. Go Margaret! My goal was a modest but, for me, a challenging one — seventy-five minutes. Considering I’d done next to no training (something I was definitely beating myself up for as we walked to the starting line) and was on antibiotics for strep throat, I was pretty anxious about setting any goal over than stepping over the finish line.

I definitely find it encouraging to run with others who are faster than me without making me feel guilty for holding them up. When I ran that 6K in Bangkok, Chris and Heather could have sprinted far ahead but instead kept me laughing and kept egging me on while we all chugged forward together. So I was grateful that BB agreed to run with me.

We ran steadily through the first 5K without stopping and then from there switched between bouts of power walking and stretches of running. The last 1K we ran — sprinted, almost — as I realized we were on the cusp of hitting my goal time. When we ran through with twenty seconds to spare I didn’t really register anything other than I wanted to collapse and throw up and possibly be hooked up to a spare IV of Diet Coke in one vein and water in another. After that sensation passed, I was pretty darn proud! Now that I’ve gotten through the mental block of whether or not I could cross the finish line of a 10K, I’m looking forward to signing up for another run and really seeing what I can do.

Rochester Lilac FestivalBlurry, but cute regardless!

Margaret lives right in the heart of Rochester and we were able to literally walk to and from her house and the racing route. After some serious showering and painkiller-administering, we rewarded ourselves for our efforts with a stroll over to the grounds of the Lilac Festival.

Lilacs in Rochester

Lilac Festival Rochester

Rochester Food Truck

Flowers, food trucks, and fair grounds. What more could a girl ask for? That morning’s little jog (my sister will hate that I called it a jog, even ironically) was the longest I’d ever run before, and I was so sore it was somewhat painful to hobble around, but I think it was good that we were out and about to avoid stiffening up.

Lilac Festival Rochester

Rochester Food Truck

I love local fairs and festivals (I was super bummed to miss my hometown of Albany’s Tulip Fest by just a few days on my return to the US) and this one was no different. Free entertainment, plenty of sunshine, fun food, and people getting outside and enjoying the cities they live in. I’ve now been to Park Fest and the Lilac Festival — maybe I need to make it a goal to come see Margaret every summer and tick off a different event each visit.

Lilac Festival Rochester

Lilac Festival Rochester

Margaret’s been living in Rochester for over twenty years now, and over time I’ve seen a lot of the city’s interesting sights and eaten at its trendy restaurants. But my favorite spot? Easy. My sister’s house, where I could hang all day with her adorable furry friends, lounge around laughing at old photos, and dine on healthy and delicious meals that no one allowed me to go anywhere near the preparation of (my reputation for domestic failures precedes me.) Her place is one of those houses that really feels like a home.

10Ks aside, it really is the perfect place to relax.

Summer in Rochester

Summer in Rochester

Summer in Rochester

After a weekend of running and relaxing in Rochester, BB and I were off to Ithaca! Laid back as the weekend was, it was a huge one for me in terms of checking off a huge fitness goal and pushing my mental boundaries of what I thought my body could achieve. And I have my big sis to thank for that. Cheers, Rochester!

Have you run any cool races lately? I’d love to get in the habit of looking out for more of them when I travel. It was the perfect event to plan a weekend around!

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40 Comments...
  • Sarah
    September 13 2015

    Congrats on getting within your goal Meihoukai! Keep at it. Have you any interests in longer distances at all?

    Also, don’t put yourself down. Don’t compare yourself to others – there will always be someone faster than you (I think neither of us are Mo Farah!).

    Keep at it and I hope to see lots more running related posts.
    Sarah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      Thanks Sarah! I think 10K is the cap of what I’d enjoy running. I would however branch out to doing mini triathalons where some biking and swimming are incorporated too!

  • Nicole
    September 13 2015

    HUGE congratulations for completing your first 10k! (and in the time goal?! *high five*)
    I began running again last week after a period of years, after tearing ligaments in my ankle, and it’s crazy how much of a block your mind puts up and how thrilling it is to smash through them.

    After my recently trip along the US’s West Coast and into Vancouver, I am utterly obsessed with food trucks (we have a growing trend in Australia but it’s still small). Are the ones you visited based solely in Rochester or do they travel around Upstate NY? Not sure how they work in the States. 🙂

    Good luck running your next 10k!
    Nicole recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      These ones are based in various Upstate towns but might travel for a festival like these. I love food trucks too! And thanks for the luck and congratulations 🙂

  • Camels & Chocolate
    September 13 2015

    Funny, was just thinking this weekend that I might get into running halves again (no more wholes for me, I fear…now that I’m ancient in my 30s). I went out and ran three miles on Friday for the first time in, literally, two years. It was painful, and I kept it slow (8:45-9:30/miles…no 7:30 pace like your speedy sis) but you gotta start somewhere, right?

    That’s awesome that you ran the race and without even training, too. Maybe next time you come visit, we’ll run the Country Music Half! =)
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      I think 10K is the cap of what I’m interested in running… any of those around Tennessee, other than the Roo Run? 😀

  • Katie
    September 13 2015

    Running really is a mental challenge more than anything else! I’ve run a couple of half-marathons, and after failing to train per my intentions both times, I was surprised by how well they both went. I wasn’t running to place, anyway – I just like running for me! Congrats on your first 10K 🙂 Looks like a fun event with awesome company for your first!
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      Thanks Katie! I was SO mad at myself for not training but I think it was almost this weird attitude of “well I’m going to suck anyway why bother training.” Now that I’ve had the confidence boost of finishing, I think I’d be more focused for my next.

  • Jennifer Stevens
    September 13 2015

    Congrats! You almost made me want to start running. Almost. 😉

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      I’ve never been a natural runner and for me it is definitely the most difficult form of exercise. But I think the health and mental benefits are unbeatable so I do force myself 🙂

  • Leah
    September 14 2015

    Congrats, you little runner, you! I used to do competitive races quite often but since starting to travel it’s not something I’ve ever considered. I can barely get myself to run just for plain old exercise. BUT being on Koh Tao has been awesome, I’ve run every single day I’ve been here so far! 😀
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      Okay WOW I’m impressed with that. Between the heat and the hills I never run on Koh Tao unless it’s on a treadmill! Looking forward to having a new hiking buddy, I hope!

  • Justine
    September 14 2015

    Congrats Meihoukai! You’re making me realize that it’s time for me to get out there and exercise. Ugh, I haven’t run once since moving to Phnom Penh. It’s either too hot or pouring down rain. But no more excuses! Thanks for the motivation 😉 Also, Cheesed and Confused? I need to eat there like right now…
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      I know, right? Grilled cheese is my kryptonite!

  • Dominique
    September 14 2015

    Wow! Congrats on the 10K! I’m always impressed when I see people’s medal collections, especially if the medals are from all over the world.

    I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but up to now I’ve failed miserably. I signed up to a 10K run in Edinburgh in 2011 (which I didn’t join), and I walked 5K during the Colour Run in Abu Dhabi in 2015 (they don’t give medals!). One day it’ll be my turn… 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      Ah, I loved the Color Run! I would love to go one again someday…

  • Mary B
    September 14 2015

    Congrats on a great finish! I am not a natural runner, but I keep trying every few years – it would be such a great sport to be good at! I ran a 5k in May at a vineyard and it ended with free wine tasting – now that’s good motivation to get to the finish line!
    Mary B recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      Whoa! That sounds like so much fun! See, this is the kind of thing I need to find and plan trips around 🙂

  • becky hutner
    September 14 2015

    I tip my hat to you & all the runners out there. I hike, I swim, I bike but when it comes to running, my body and mind will not cooperate!
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      It’s definitely not something that comes naturally to me either. I truly struggle, though I try to tell myself that the payoff is all the better for it. But I’d pick a bike ride or a swim over a run any day!

  • Marni
    September 14 2015

    A huge congrats on not only the run but also being able to walk around afterwards. I think I’d be completely floored (only one way to tell, I guess). Even though I have never successfully convinced myself to properly take up running and do a marathon, I’m hooked on the idea of the Disney World marathon! I feel like if there’s one marathon I would be able to force myself to do, it’s that one.

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      I’ve never heard of it… that does sound like fun though!

  • Susan
    September 14 2015

    How awesome! Congratulations on the run and on making your goal time! That must be a great feeling. And I’m impressed and a little exhausted just reading that you walked around a festival afterward!
    Susan recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      I think I would have been in awful shape had we not. I was so stiff even with a little walk… I think I would have been immobile without it!

  • Julie
    September 14 2015

    I also love the idea of running my way around the world. Except it involves running. And lugging around workout clothes. And dealing with sweaty said workout clothes. But I love the idea of it! Can’t wait to hear about the next one!
    Julie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      Yeah, traveling with my trainers is kind of a pain but it does force me to use them lest I lug them for nothing 🙂

  • Britt
    September 15 2015

    10k is amazing. I don’t think I could ever run half a k at the moment! It has just never been something I’m very good at. Brisk walking is about as much as my body can handle 😛
    Britt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 17 2015

      When I first started I couldn’t run a mile without stopping (not that I’ve gone very far beyond that, ha.) You really do build up over time!

  • Julia Nix
    September 16 2015

    you and BB take cute and funny pictures together. won’t be long until you go back to KOH TAO yeah…….

  • Pauline
    September 16 2015

    Congratulations on finishing the 10K! It’s an awesome feeling to cross that finish line – don’t you want to run more regularly now? :p
    Pauline recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 17 2015

      Um…. not really 😛 I don’t love running but I know it’s good for me so I do force myself from time to time!

  • Tina
    September 18 2015

    Nothing quite like a grilled cheese food truck after running a 10k … great job on the achievement!
    Tina recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Thanks Tina! I was pretty darn proud!

  • Izy Berry
    September 21 2015

    Great post Meihoukai!! congratulations for your firs 10K!! I signed to a career next month so i hope i have the same luck as you

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Congrats to you too then! Best of luck in your new endeavor!

  • Krishna Amin
    September 22 2015

    Congrats on the 10k! You are one of the reasons I started blogging about my travels and it’s crazy to learn you were in Rochester! I live just an hour south. Best of luck with your next 10k!

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Aw, thank you! Hope you are enjoying your blogging journey. Here’s to hailing from New York!

  • Leah
    November 19 2015

    Hi Meihoukai! I’m a brand new reader to your blog and a Rochester native- how exciting that you came to my hometown and enjoyed the Finger Lakes area! I’m moving to Thailand to teach in 2016 and just wanted to say that I love your blog, gorgeous photography and have been obsessing over your travels tips/guides. Excited to see what my personal NY to Thailand journey will look like.

    Cheers!

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2015

      Thank you so much, Leah! I do love visiting my sister in Rochester — and am thrilled to have finally made it to the Finger Lakes. Enjoy your time in Thailand — it would be hard not to!