Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mentors, Strawberries and Goals

On Friday, my uncle Gerry celebrated his 70th birthday.  His wife, two sons and their families threw him a surprise birthday party.  The party was a lot of fun, except for the thunderstorm that caused the power to go out.

Nothing like a few strategically placed candles to light the way
Gerry has been running since the 1970s, since before the running boom.  Hearing tales about local races and his experiences running marathons all over the country peaked my interest about running.  He encouraged me to start running, and for that I am forever grateful and indebted to him.  I get a big smile on my face whenever he tells someone that "Richelle is one of the runners in the family."

Gerry ran Boston back in 1992
I love having the opportunity to run with him.  For several years, we've run the Turkey Day 5K on Thanksgiving together.  Last year, we were on the same Ragnar Relay team.

Gerry leads our van to the finish line
At 70, he is still in fantastic shape and does several local races a year (no marathons, but usually one half-marathon, and a few 10Ks and 5Ks).  I hope I'm still running when I'm his age.  Happy birthday, Gerry!

I also had the opportunity to spend some time with my cute little goddaughter, Rachel, at the birthday party. :)

Yesterday, my friend Kim organized a group of people to pick strawberries at Pine Tree Apple Orchard up in White Bear Lake.  I hadn't picked strawberries since I was a kid, so having the opportunity to do so was a lot of fun for me.

Taking a tractor ride out to the strawberry patch

LOTS of people were picking strawberries yesterday

Mmmmm... so plump, juicy and sweet!

A flat full of berries
A couple of us stayed at Kim's house to help her make strawberry jam.  I had never done any canning before, so this was a new experience.  It was messy and fun and I hope to do a little bit more canning this summer, if I can find the time.

Pouring sugar into the strawberry and Sure-Jell mixture

Ladling the jam into the jars

Water bath

Yum - the finished product! :)
I've been cooking up a storm myself, trying to use as many of my flat of berries as possible.  So far, I've made strawberry salsa and a loaf of strawberry bread that contains no eggs, dairy or nuts.  I'm not allergic to any of those foods... I was making food out of what I currently have available in my house. :)  I also went back to my bartending roots (I worked part-time as a bartender for two-and-a-half years) and have some strawberry-infused sake and a strawberry liqueur in the works.  My house smells fabulous.

Tomorrow, future hubs and I are running the Red, White and Boom! TC Half-Marathon.  I've been keeping an eye on the weather forecast and it's going to be a warm one (highs in the upper 80s), but hopefully not as humid as it was on Thursday and Friday.  I'm glad the race starts at 6:30 a.m.!  I only have one goal for this race...


Mark and I are wearing costumes, and this will be our longest race wearing festive getup.  However, if the weather isn't too warm, I think I might be able to pull off a sub-2 hour half.  We will have to wait and see. :)

Who influenced you to start running?
Have you ever gone to a strawberry patch to pick strawberries before?


  1. Have fun in your half marathon. I hope the weather cooperates. I've picked strawberries and truthfully I don't like it. Many people do though. I love eating them. This year we had the biggest juiciest berries ever. We used to grow them but now we buy them.
    BTW I love your haircut.

  2. First, good luck tomorrow!!! I cannot wait to see the festive attire and hear all about it. I hope you get your sub 2 - you deserve it! Have fun, though, no matter what - that's MOST important.

    Second, I love your list of strawberry things - wow, never heard of some of them, but they have my mouth watering now and I vote YES!

    Third, I LOVE seeing pix of you and your goddaughter - she's a cutie and you two are A-DOR-ABLE together!!!!

    Fourth, LOVE that your uncle run 5K's together. Love the surprise bday, bummer the power went out - looks like a fun party despit sans electricitiy.

    And lastly, I would say that my initial bout of running back in the army was to impress a guy who I then ended up dating for 2 years. These last couple of years were started by a co-worker who I refer to as my running mentor "M" - he is a race director and also one of the physical therapists who has scrapped my heel. He encouraged me and taught me so much. He continues to support me and encourages me (though as my therapist he says "maybe the universe is telling you not to run since you get so much pain from it")

    Happy 4th - be safe and have a great race!!!!

  3. That is so cool that your uncle has been running for so long. And I too hope that I will be running and in that good of shape when I am his age! What an inspiration!

    Good luck on your race tomorrow! I can't wait to see what your outfits looks like. You always get so decked it!! :)

  4. So great that you have an "old timer" to tap into for knowledge and experience. We all need a Gerry in our lives!

  5. How cool to be a part of a running family like this! He sounds awesome! Oh, and looks like a great holiday weekend! I hope the RW & Boom went well, i'll be back to read the recap!

  6. I really like this story. Gerry reminds me of my dad. He is my inspiration and he is the reason I run today. My dad is now 81 but still run/walks 10km sometimes. He was a great runner and all his PR's are better than mine. He ran many ultras as well. I once went strawberry picking in Somerset West near Cape Town in South Africa. That is about 1400km (870 miles) from Johannesburg where I live.

  7. I hope to be running at 70. Happy Birthday to Uncle Gerry!

    Sounds like fun making/canning strawberry jam. MMMM!

    Hope the race went well!