Monday, June 17, 2013

What I love about summer

This week's Runner Photo Challenge: Why we love summer.

I can sum up my answer to this question in three fundamental points:

1. Being outdoors
2. Celebrations
3. Food

One or more of these factors are apparent into pretty much everything that I love about summer.  Simple enough, eh?

To illustrate, here are three personal case studies in the joys of summertime.

Running evening races
I love love LOVE evening races for their festivity, the cooler temperatures, and for not having to set my alarm clock at some ungodly morning hour.  Evening races also cover all three of my summer fundamentals:

1.  You run the race outdoors. 
2.  There is a post-race party afterwards. 
3.  The post-race party always includes food!

One of the most prime examples of awesome evening races is the Strike Out ALS 5K

I ran this race last year and had a blast, so I'm back for Part Deux this year on July 16.  The festivities take place at US Cellular Field (plentiful free parking!) and the course finishes on the warning track inside the ballpark, which is very cool.  This race also takes the cake for one-of-a-kind post-race parties - you get the entire ballpark to yourself and your runner friends/spectators to watch the MLB All-Star game on the Jumbotron! 

From the post-race festivities last year

It is an amazing experience, especially with a nice helping of ballpark food and a cold beverage in hand.  There is seriously no better way to spend a gorgeous summer evening.  And as the name would imply, the race proceeds also go towards people with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), so it's a great cause.

Runners, baseball afficionados, and nonbaseball afficionados, all unite!  Who else is doing this race?  I would love to arrange a meet-up there.  We can even pose for a picture with home plate in the background.  =)

Independence Day
My favorite holiday.  What could be better?

1.  You are outdoors all day long to picnic and watch fireworks.
2.  The entire day is one giant celebration.
3.  Picnicking involves lots of grilling and other great food!!!

Yummy yummy!

For many years, my family and I would spend July 4 picnicking at Waukegan Harbor and watching the fireworks there at night.  Unfortunately, I think they've stopped the shows now due to budget constraints.  But back in those days, Waukegan had a truly spectacular fireworks show.  It was breathtaking.  In fact, the only fireworks display that I've ever seen that topped Waukegan's shows would be those at Disney.  (Ah, Disney!!!!!)

From Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Disney's Epcot

Farmer's Markets and Food Festivals
These are a no-brainer.

1. They take place outside!!!
2. They are a celebration of great eats!
3. There is plenty of great food!!!

Summertime produce is the best.  I find it is so much easier to eat healthy when you've got gorgeous fruits and veggies surrounding you everywhere you shop for food.  Fruit salads and any dishes that involves fresh fruit are huge favorites of mine for any summertime menu. 

Look at those beautiful colors.  It is really true what they say about how you eat with your eyes first.

There is also no better feeling after getting back from a good run than to refuel with a luscious cold smoothie.

How good does that look!?!?!?
(Now if I could only get someone to come to my kitchen and do all of the post-smoothie-making cleanup work for me...)

A few years ago, my family and I went to the National Blueberry Festival in South Haven, Michigan, which was a blast.  The events even include a 5K and 10K run!  Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the festival this year since I'll be in Toronto the weekend it takes place.  But Michigan hosts a lot of great fruit festivals - they've also got the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City and the National Strawberry Festival in Belleville, both of which I would love to check out someday.  I think Michigan has a peach festival and a grape festival, too.  You have to love the bountifulness and celebration of all that local fruit.

Viva le summer!!!


  1. <3 Independence day! Mostly because it is my birthday!
    Thanks for sharing the Michigan events! didn't know about them!

    1. Oooh, happy early birthday to you!!! What a great way to celebrate by having the entire nation shoot off fireworks on your bday, eh? My bday is July 12 so yay for July birthdays!!!

      Btw - I just tried commenting on your blog but it doesn't look like it went through...? I am having some computer issues (apparently Disqus is not compatible with some setting on my computer) but just wanted to let you know that I haven't fallen off the planet with commenting on your blog!!! =)

    2. thanks! we'll meet for a mid week birthday week between our birthdays!

      Discus has been weird today! It isn't just you. I had to go in an force Discus to import Xaarlin's comment!
      But glad you are still reading it!

  2. Oh my! You've made this summer much more interesting! :-)

    1. Zenaida, speaking of interesting, I was so impressed by your homemade medal holder! Now THAT is a project that I need to go onto this summer!!! =D

  3. Oooh, yes, Farmers Markets are another great reason to enjoy summer!

    1. Aren't the locally grown fruits and veggies the BEST? I always love when they give out free samples of jellies or jams, too. =D

  4. I just got an invite to the ALS race, alas I'll still be in CO for Leadville. Love me some farmer's market action!

    1. Bummer that you will be out of town for ALS, but yay for Leadville!!! Can't wait to hear the details - take lots of pictures!!!

  5. Summer time food is where it is at! It's too hot here right now to really enjoy being outdoors as much as I would like, but the food, oh the food.

    The ALS race and post-race party sound great. I only know a little about Lou Gehrig, but I found the strength he displayed toward the end of his life truly inspiring. Great cause to run for!

    1. Amy, you and I are such twinsies when it comes to all of our perspectives. Your exact words could have come straight out of my mouth, too. =)

      Despite the heat you're working through in El Paso, I am loving hearing about all of your traveling adventures in the area! It sure sounds like you've been enjoying the great outdoors to the fullest!!!!!!!

  6. Oooh, I wonder if I can convince anyone to join me for the South Haven festival...I'm bummed I didn't get to run that race up there this past weekend, but I was thrilled to discover some fun trail running right where we were staying. Exploring new places is such a benefit of summer.