The Color Run, Version 2.0!

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This past Saturday, Drew and I forwent our usual “sleep-in day” in order to participate in the Atlanta Color Run.  I use ‘Atlanta’ loosely as the race was actually out at the Motor Speedway in Tara, Georgia.  In order to make the 45 minute drive and arrive early enough to queue up with the first waive of runners, we had to leave the apartment shortly after 7 A.M. Now if that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is.  Lucky for us, since we ran the race last year, we knew how much fun it would be, well worth giving up a few extra hours of zzz’s.  The race definitely didn’t disappoint.

Jhana and I at the starting line. Hence the squeaky clean shirts.

Jhana and I at the starting line. Hence the squeaky clean shirts.

Jhana and Jacob all color-riffic after the race.

Jhana and Jacob all color-riffic after the race.











After seeing the massive crowds of people, I’m not surprised they moved the race location.  I’m also glad we got there early.  There had to have been at least 50,000 people which is probably double the number that ran through Piedmont Park last year.  We’d heard that residents had complained about their cars getting covered with the powder at the various color stations along the course.  Apparently not everyone wants their cars stained hot pink and teal.  I can’t complain too much; minus a short stretch of gravel, the race course at the Speedway was pretty much flat as a pancake.

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Our friends Jhana and Jacob also ran and as usual, I think the best part was the post-race color-throwing-sweaty-moshpit-dance party. With a thousand of our closest friends.  I was a bit sad to see my relatively new Brooks shoes get dirty, but I’m sure it was only a matter of time.  Plus, every time I lace up my shoes I’ll be reminded of an awesome day.  Another reminder? The streaks of purple that have remained in my hair the past couple days.  Surprisingly, I actually don’t mind them.  I may even be a bit sad when the last of it rinses out.


Flix, Films, and Brews

I’m starting to think that Drew and I could get very used to weekends where we don’t have to travel or be anywhere in particular.  We didn’t have a list of “must-do’s” but still managed to have a fun, entertaining weekend.  After hearing from multiple sources how great–and addictive–the new Netflix series House of Cards was, we decided to start watching it.  We spent the majority of Saturday afternoon doing just that.  Six episodes back-to-back if I recall correctly.  It was just that good.  Besides, after going for a run that morning, I didn’t feel too bad about relaxing the rest of the afternoon.

I’ve never been one to closely follow politics, but it becomes a completely different story when you throw Kevin Spacey into the mix.  Even though it’s been over a decade, I will always remember him most as the social studies teacher in Pay It Forward.  Within a few minutes of the first episode, I told Drew that I thought there was an uncanny resemblance between Spacey and the late John Ritter.  I don’t think he saw it.  Anyway, after watching a few more episodes last night, we are now 3 away from the finale.  If you have Netflix, I highly recommend this show.

Does anyone else see the resemblance?

Does anyone else see the resemblance?

By the evening we were ready to move about and do something fun.  We’d been wanting to visit the newest brewery to hit Atlanta, Monday Night Brewing, ever since we’d initially heard about it from our close friend Katie months ago.  The brewery actually has a very cool story; it grew out of a men’s bible study.  That night they were having free tastings and a tour (the tour never happened, unfortunately).  MNB is unlike any other brewery: a full wall of men’s neckties, a shuffleboard, and a giant framed mustache are just some of its charm.  The beer I tried, called Fu Manbrew, wasn’t half bad either.  I’m looking forward to many more trips–Monday nights or not–to the brewery.  And one of these days hopefully I’ll get that tour!


Great artwork is all over Monday Night Brewing.

The framed mustache. Next to a chandelier. Sounds silly but it works.

The framed mustache. Next to a chandelier. Sounds silly but it works.

Sunday was another relaxing day in the Hawkins household. I’d entered an Oscars pool at work earlier in the week, so I was interested in seeing who the winners were. Of course, anything that happens to fall on a Sunday night at 9 is no match for our Walking Dead obsession healthy habit, so we flipped back and forth. As it turned out, I guessed 20 of the 24 winners correctly. Considering I’d only seen one of the movies actually up for awards (Django), I was quite proud of myself. The next day at work they announced the winner during our team meeting and I’d won! The prize was, fittingly, two free movie tickets so Drew and I are looking forward to using those soon, although I think most of the Oscar-nominated films are out on DVD or Redbox by now…

The Oscars are by far my favorite awards-type show.  All the events leading up to them (Golden Globes, SAG Awards, etc.) just always seem so dull in comparison.  I think one of the highlights one of the night, which wasn’t even aired, was Jennifer Lawrence’s behind-the-scenes interview with the press after winning the Oscar for Best Actress. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since seeing The Hunger Games, and this video just solidifies that.  She’s also from Kentucky, so that doesn’t hurt either.

Atlanta Beltline 5K, Date Night and a Baking Marathon

Is it really Monday already? I feel like this weekend flew by! That being said, Drew and I got to do quite a few fun things and really enjoyed our weekend together.  Saturday morning we awoke bright an early for the Atlanta Beltline Southwest 5K. We’d registered for the race a few weeks back and I was looking forward to my next race since The Color Run back at the end of March.  More importantly, I was excited about being able to get an actual time since The Color Run was more of a “for fun” race than a serious competition.  All this aside, I was seriously second guessing my choice—waking up at 5:30 on a weekend? Let’s not make a habit of this…

Team Engauge before the race. I didn’t get the color memo apparently.

The race started at 7:30 and we spent the half hour beforehand picking up our bib numbers, stretching and mingling with other members of Team Engauge. Once we started queuing up at the start line, I realized this was not going to be your typical 5K.  How’s the best way to put this? The course was a little…off-road.  We spent the first ¾ mile running through mud, gravel, grass and rocks.  Definitely not my idea of fun but it made me even more grateful that the remainder of the race was on flat, smooth road.

Drew and I after the race. The black and white hides our sweat better 😉

Drew and I ended up finishing together, at a much faster time than I thought. I assumed that because of the first leg of the course, I’d have a pretty poor finishing time.  Drew, the veteran runner, knew we were going a much faster pace than I thought and tried to tell me as much.  I on the other hand was acting quite stubborn and didn’t believe him.  As we approached the finish line and our time of 24:54 flashed above us in red lights, I could hardly believe it.  Turns out my time was good enough to score 2nd place overall in my age group, and I now have a cool coaster/medal to show for it.  Considering my goal time of 27 minutes, I was very happy with the outcome. We’re already talking about signing up for the Atlanta Beltline Eastside 10K come December.  I know it was especially important for Drew to be able to spend some quality time with his Engauge friends, as he’s starting a new chapter in his career this week.

My 2nd place age group finisher medal/coaster!

After spending the majority of the afternoon recovering and relaxing—and multiple hour nap may have ensued—we walked over to Publik, the bar right next to the Fox Theatre.  Hard to believe we’ve lived so close, less than a 5 minute walk away, and had never been before.  We ordered beers and a few appetizers before heading next door to the theatre to see The Avengers.  It was a full house and the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic-whooping and cheering for the good guys.  It was a nice change from the typical movie theatre.  After the movie we walked a few blocks to Empire State South for cocktails and dessert.  We didn’t get home until a bit before midnight and despite our afternoon nap, we were more than ready to call it a night.  I guess that’s what happens when you wake up with the birds on a Saturday morning…

Good eats at Publik. Fries and curried sweet potato wontons…and beers, of course.

We spent Sunday morning in church, followed by lunch at a new-to-us Mexican restaurant with some friends.  I pass Perla Taqueria every day on my commute to work, but had never been.  Glad to know there’s yet another place Drew and I can go when a taco craving strikes.  I then spent the majority of the afternoon baking, making several dozen apple cinnamon and bran muffins.  Drew made oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies, a delicious cookie invention he made up back at Christmastime when we had a cookie exchange with our house church group. Needless to say, our apartment smelled gooood.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins, makes about 1 1/2 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used half white flour, half whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs. melted butter or oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 large apple, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl combine the flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon. Add in chopped apples.  In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and butter or oil.  Pour in the large bowl and stir until just combined; don’t over-mix.  Spoon batter into muffin tray lined with baking cups.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are slightly brown.

Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins, adapted from this recipe, makes 12

  • 1 1/2 cups white or whole wheat flour (I used a combination of the two)
  • 3/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 2 peeled and shredded apples (I left out so I’d have enough to make the apple cinnamon muffins)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3/4 milk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl combined flour, flaxseed, wheat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add in carrots, apples (if using), raisins and pecans.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla.  Pour into flour mixture and stir enough just to combine; do not over-mix.  Spoon batter onto muffin tray lined with baking cups.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Braves Game and a Very Happy 4th!

At first I wasn’t so sure how I felt about the 4th of July falling on a Wednesday.  If it had fallen on a Tuesday or Thursday, we likely would have had a four-day weekend.  It also meant we wouldn’t be able to go to Centennial Park to watch the fireworks show…unless we wanted to stay up until midnight or later and then get up at 6 A.M. for work (uhh, no).  It just seemed strange to have the day off work right smack in the middle of the week.  However, it was actually surprisingly nice to have a mid-week reprieve.  Plus, it’s only another two days until the weekend!

Our Braves tickets, compliments of my work buddy, Dave.

We kicked off the holiday right by going to our first Braves game of the season Tuesday night.  Drew’s friend PJ, and his girlfriend Lauren, were in town for a few days so we figured a baseball game would be the perfect outing for the four of us.  My awesome cubicle neighbor Dave was able to set us up with some free tickets that actually turned out to be great seats.  (Thanks Dave!!) It had been storming on our way to the game but our seats were under an awning so even if it started pouring again, we’d stay dry.  Thankfully the rain stayed at bay and we were able to enjoy a great game-and a Braves victory.

The four of us braving the rain at the Braves game. Heh heh, get it?

The view from our seats. The sky looked ominous, but thankfully the rain stopped just before the game started.

Even though we had the day off, we woke up on Wednesday morning not much later than we typically do on a weekday.  The ACJ Peachtree Road Race—the largest 10K in the world with over 60,000 entrants—was taking place just a few blocks from our apartment.  We jogged over the corner of Peachtree and 10th, watched the runners for a while, and continued on our own run around the course.  We passed through the park to see all the runners come through the finish line and we were absolutely amazed by how many people there were. We thought the Color Run was huge, but this race had a good 20,000 more people!  As much as I don’t like big crowds, I’m darn determined to run this race with Drew next year.  It sure looked like a lot of fun!

The crowd of finishers at the AJC Peachtree Road Race. I want to run it next year!

After a quick jog back home, I served us up some patriotic blueberry pancakes.  Drew actually had chocolate chip ones (surprise, surprise).  After breakfast we took advantage of the day off, pulled out the couch into a fold-out bed and took turns between watching Netflix and napping.  Theo loved having us home and nestled himself right in the middle of us, tucking into the covers and asking demanding to have his head scratched.

Drew chopping up the watermelon…

Several of the couples from our house church group came over to meet up and walk down to Piedmont Park together.  Our apartment is maybe a half mile walk from the park entrance, but when you’re carrying heavy coolers and watermelon, it sure feels longer than that! We set up our picnic sight right under a tree, put down our towels and immediately set up our food and drink spread.  I made a pasta salad which is my go-to for picnics and BBQ’s, and have provided the recipe below 🙂 Some of the guys played Frisbee while the girls sat around and chatted.  After Drew chopped up the watermelon like a champ, we had a watermelon eating contest.  Elle was definitely the winner!

…for the eating contest that Elle most definitely won 🙂

Once it started getting darker, we set back for the apartment.  Some people were going on to watch the fireworks but we tidied up the kitchen a bit then headed straight to bed.  I thought we might hear some of the fireworks, and was actually curious as to how Theo would react to them, but I was asleep before I knew it.  I commented to Drew that the day seemed to last a long time, which is definitely a good thing.  We had a great time watching the race, taking it easy, and spending time catching up and enjoying good food with our friends.  After today, only one more workday separates us from the weekend.  Yep, having the 4th of July on a Wednesday turned out to be pretty nice after all!

Cinco de Derby!

Winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another. Fitting name for Cinco de Derby? I think so.

I love any excuse to celebrate. So as you can imagine, I was extremely excited that this year Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fell on the same day.  Since we’re from Kentucky, it was a given that we were going to watch the race (sans mint julep drinking, ick!) Drew’s never been, but I fondly remember going to Keeneland several years while growing up, eating burgoo and picking horses based on their funny names.  In preparation for a fun day, Drew and I made a list of events going on around town for our house church group to take part in.  While there were quite a few options, we ultimately decided to have a “Cinco de Derby” get-together at Shawn and Shannon’s house that evening.  The plan was to DVR the Derby coverage so we could watch it in full from the beginning and have a Cinco de Mayo-themed potluck.  Mexican food and horse racing, unite.

Saturday afternoon we went grocery shopping for ingredients to make our contribution to that night’s potluck: cheese enchilada soup.  We’d come across the recipe in one our cookbooks several weeks ago when searching for a good crockpot meal.  It’s not the prettiest-looking dish, but then again, what soup is?  It turned out absolutely delicious the first time we made it (we went back for seconds, and definitely were tempted for thirds) so we knew it’d be a hit with our friends.  After putting the soup in the crockpot to cook, we headed over to Park Tavern for $1 margaritas.  Yes, you read that right.  Apparently everyone else in Midtown had the same idea; the place was completely packed.  The cheap prices more than made up for the crowd though and we enjoyed several drinks before heading back home.

Our $1 margaritas at Park Tavern. Ole!

Walking into the apartment to the smell of the soup, we wanted to dig in with spoons right there on the spot.  Being the thoughtful friends that we are, we shared it with the rest of the group J As it turns out, Mexican food makes for great derby-watching fare, who knew? We had homemade salsa, guacamole, the enchilada soup, made-from-scratch margaritas, Corona and an amazing sopapilla cheesecake.  Very festive, indeed.

We had a great time watching the Derby, I’m always amazed at how they’re able to stretch out coverage hours before the actual two-minute race.  Truth be told, we actually watching the race beforehand but pretended we hadn’t seen it.   Drew “amazingly” picked the right horse to win, what a good guesser he is 😉 We had everyone fooled for about 2 minutes until the truth finally came out. Turns out, several others had heard the results too but wanted to play coy so as not to ruin it for everyone.   Seeing everyone dressed in their Derby best, and hearing My Old Kentucky home really brought me back to life in Kentucky.   Speaking of, I’ll be visiting Mom and Dad over the long Memorial Day weekend.  It’ll be my first time back in Fort Mitchell since Christmas.  Needless to say, the trip is much overdue!

Crockpot Cheese Enchilada Soup

1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and diced (optional, if you want it spicy!)
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can enchilada sauce
2 cups milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, stir together cream of chicken soup, enchilada sauce and milk.  Dice onion, pepper and jalapeno (if using) and add into crockpot.  Add in beans and tomatoes, then pour in the soup mixture.  Add in about half the cheese.  Stir to combine and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.  Halfway through, add in the remainder of the cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips as a dip, or eat it like soup!

Whirly Ball and #4sqdayATL!

This past weekend was the perfect combination of relaxation and excitement.  After doing a bit—and I mean a very small bit—of spring cleaning early Saturday morning, we vegged out in front of the tv watching movies the rest of the afternoon.  That evening we headed out to Roswell, an area neither one of us is very familiar with, to hang out with the house church group, as well as my co-worker Joel and his fiancée Becky.  I had yet to meet Becky, but had heard so much about her from Joel (and vise-versa me telling Joel about Drew all the time) so it was great once the four of us were finally able to meet!

First up was dinner at a pizza place, one that I think it’s safe to say Drew and I will never be returning to.  The pizza was only so-so and the service wasn’t that great.  Now that I think about it, that’s really the only negative restaurant experience we’ve had since living in Atlanta, if you don’t count the time Noodle ran out of silverware.  And I don’t really, because every other time we’ve been there has been nothing but wonderful.  I still consider it to be one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta.

After dinner, we all headed to Whirly Ball for the night’s main event.  It’s hard to describe what exactly Whirly Ball is, so I’ll let this video speak for itself.  Essentially, it’s a combination of bumper cars and Jai-Alai.  The first few rounds were guys vs. guys and girls vs. girls and while we watching the guys go first, I have to admit I was a little nervous.  It looked pretty brutal out there, running full speed into walls while 10 people fight for one ball.  Turns out I was a lot better than I thought I would be, and I even scored a goal!  In a final round of the girls vs. guys, the girls emerged victorious (girl power!!) It was easily the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and the Groupon deal that we scored lasts throughout May, so I think a group of us are already planning a return trip.  Did I mention the place had a bar?

We enjoyed a leisurely Sunday, attending church that morning and heading home for brunch. Then we headed to Starbucks for coffee, which has become a reoccurring theme for us.  There is something so calming and relaxing about spending a Sunday afternoon holed up inside a coffee cup.  I’ve also recently discovered the iced skinny mocha, which will be my drink of choice now that the weather is getting a little too warm for a hot cup of coffee.  I’m sure Drew would disagree and say that anytime is the right time for coffee (including 4 p.m. at work).  The night wrapped up with a walk to get soft serve ice cream for Theo, and a delicious dinner including Drew’s famous macaroni and cheese.  Yum!

SweetWater Brewing Company, location for the Atlanta Foursquare Day meetup.

Yesterday, 4/16, was National Foursquare Day. If you own a smartphone, you’ve probably hear of this app and maybe even use it.  If you don’t (ahem, Mom and Dad), the majority of this paragraph will probably confuse you.  One of Drew’s co-workers, Chad, is a hardcore Foursquare enthusiast and put a meet-up event together at Sweet Water Brewing Company.  Drew and I bought tickets, and headed to the brewery for a few glasses of Blue, one of my new favorite beers, and some fun socializing.  We also scored commemorative pint glasses, tee shirts and koozies.  Scoutmob was there was again with their trademark mustaches.  They were at Engauge’s Fuel Innovation event that Drew spoke at last week as well. That’s the great thing about a city as big as Atlanta: there is always some cool, techy thing going on that Drew and I can both enjoy.

Drew and I sporting our Scoutmob mustaches.

The Color Run…my first official 5K!

I don’t like to get dirty.  I’m not an obsessively tidy person that has to clean all the time (just ask Drew, or my parents who had to remind me to clean my room for 18 years).  But, I really don’t like dirt. Having a dog living in a one bedroom apartment with us has quickly turned me into a loyal fan of Febreeze and an avid vacuum user.  That being said, this past Saturday I put all dirt and grime qualms aside in the name of one epic morning of head-to-toe rainbow madness that can only be known as…The Color Run.

Several months back, Drew forwarded me a link to The Color Run’s website, explaining that a few of his co-workers were planning on running in the 5K.  After watching the videos, instantly I told Drew to sign me up as well.  Never mind the fact that I run indoors, or that I’ve never technically ran a 5K before.  Sure, I log that kind of mileage on the treadmill on almost a daily basis, but running against the outdoor elements (hills, air pollution, weather and pollen, oh my!) is a totally different story.  The few outdoor runs that I did accompany Drew on usually didn’t turn out for the best.  Still, I vowed to make The Color Run my first official outdoor race—since high school track anyway.

Drew and I after the race.

Fast forward to Saturday morning at 8 AM: Drew and I met up with three of our house church couples also running the race, and we headed over to Piedmont Park.  We donned white shirts, colorful tattoos, neon shorts and race bibs.  I was expecting the turnout to be much like the Firefly Run that Drew ran back in the fall, which topped out at maybe 1,000 people.  Upon entering the park, we saw a line of runners that stretched at least half of a mile.  No wonder the race created an encore for Atlanta the following weekend-there had to have been at least 20,000 people! Drew and I somehow managed to find his co-workers in the crowd and we queued up with them, awaiting the start.

The Engauge gang...purple was definitely in abundance. Thanks to @ktmel for the awesome photo documenting!

 It turned out that running the race course the Saturday before with Drew–his birthday morning run, actually–was a really good idea.  I had a better idea of what to expect.  Even though a few of the hills made me want to stop, I kept trucking along until the finish line was in sight.  The first mile was more of a run-walk due to the sheer amount of people but it started to thin out and we logged 8 minutes each for the last two miles…pretty good considering we were getting showered with color!  We ended up only running 2.9 miles; since there was such a big turnout we think they had to move the finish line closer in to give everyone enough room at the starting line.

Our house church group...we had so much fun!

The race was easily one of the most fun things I’ve done in Atlanta so far.  At every checkpoint, we were doused with a new color: yellow, green, pink and finally purple.  By the end of it, we had color dust in our hair, ears, eyes and mouths.  Three showers later, I’m still scrubbing a pink tint off my hands and arms. The sheer amount of people made it difficult to race for a real time, but I guess that just means I’ll have to enter another 5K soon…especially if we grab another post-race celebratory lunch at YEAH! Burger 🙂