HousingFest is THIS WEEKEND!

HousingFest is happening on May 28th with the goal of bringing people together to end homelessness through the power of music. Each ticket costs $39 and is the same cost as keeping a person in permanent, supportive housing for one day.

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Charlotte has a goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2016 and HousingFest gives you a chance to help the city reach that goal – while listening to some pretty fantastic music – including local band, Matrimony.  The rest of the lineup includes: Josh Ritter, Lindi Ortega, Nikki Hill Band, Jim Lauderdale and Justin Fedor.

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HousingFest began in 2014 and has only continued to grow raising funds for our community’s most vulnerable homeless neighbors. This year’s show is expected to be a sell out with 2,000 people in attendance at the Fillmore. Urban Ministry Center is one of my favorite non-profits in Charlotte (see: 5 things I Learned While Volunteering at Urban Ministry Center), and they are the geniuses behind HousingFest – with the help of a group of sponsors.

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It’s not too late to get your ticket to listen to good music and do a good thing for the community at the same time.

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Run Thunder Road!

While on any given weekend, you can find a handful of 5ks, 10ks and half-marathon races, Thunder Road is Charlotte’s only full-marathon. This year’s race is scheduled for November 14. Last year’s race drew 960 runners for the marathon, 99 more than 2013’s race. Masashi Shirotake won for the males and overall with a time of 2:31:07. Meghan Hovis was the female winner with a time of 2:56:37.  In addition to the full-marathon, a half-marathon and 5k are also offered. The full and half marathon races both start promptly at 7:30 AM.

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The 26.2 mile race winds through uptown, Dilworth, Plaza Midwood and Noda, giving you the most scenic (and sweaty) tour of Charlotte. The course has live bands playing throughout to keep you moving, and not to mention, plenty of friends and family cheering runners along.

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Not a runner? There’s a course cheer contest which places cheer groups along the course at various mile markers to cheer along the runners. The winning groups will have money donated in their honor to a charity of their choice! The music and cheering continues once you cross the finish line with more music and expo booths to explore as you recover.

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If you’re considering running the full or the half marathon, you should be aware of the time limits. The full has a time limit of 6 hours and the half 3 hours. Not to worry, Run for Your Life offers training sessions to get you up to speed no matter what distance you’re aiming to run. Training sessions are offered through Run For Your Life locations in Piper Glen, Midtown and University. Now that Fall is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get started with a running group.

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If you want to get your kids involved in running and help fight childhood obesity, check out the Chick-Fil-A Thunder Kids Marathon Program. Kids will run 26.2 miles over a 5-9 week period and get a finisher’s medal at the Thunder Road Finish Line! Hurry, registration closed October 9 for the kids program.

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As of 9/1, the price for the full marathon is $115. You can register up until the expo and packet pick up, the day before the race (but the price is $135 that day!), but it’s best to get your entry in early to secure a spot and have time to mentally prepare. While the weather can be tricky to predict in November, it’s most likely to be mild in the morning, giving you cool air for the start of the race. The mean temperature for race day is 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The race will go on rain or shine.

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Stay up to date with Thunder Road on Facebook and Twitter for details on bands, weather, and inspirational stories leading up to the big day!

Queen City Helicopters: Birds Eye View

Everytime I log into Instagram, I see tons of pictures posted of Charlotte’s skyline. No shame there. It is a pretty skyline. The sunsets have been magnificent lately, only making it prettier.

The only thing better than staring at the skyline from your balcony, is taking a gander of it from above.

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Last week, I took a tour with Queen City Helicopters and got to see Charlotte from a totally different perspective. We took a 20-minute ride around the 277 loop and saw the top of the Duke Energy building, down into the Panthers and Knights stadiums, and even got a good look at the pool on top of the ‘Pink Building.’

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While the ground-view shots of the skyline are nice, you can see miles beyond that from inside the helicopter. You can see all the way to Crowders Mountain!

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I was in the helicopter that fits two passengers plus the pilot (they have bigger ones if you have more passengers!). While small, it was completely comfortable. At first, I was a little nervous because there were no doors (don’t worry, Mom, I wore a seatbelt), that quickly went away. Going up in a helicopter is about a million times more smooth than going up in an airpane.

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The company is run by a father/son duo. The son was our pilot and was incredibly informative as we flew over the city. Everything seemed so professional, yet casual, which is exactly how it should feel.

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In addition to aerial tours of the city, they offer charters to get you to and from where you need to be in the city, aerial filming and even flight training if you want to be the pilot!

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This was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had since living in Charlotte. If you want to get a new perspective on the city, live on the edge a little (no doors!), or surprise your other half with a special adventure, give Queen City Helicopters a call: (704) 629-4677. I guarantee you’ll be talking about it for months to come after you get back on the ground. If you mention that you saw the article in When In Charlotte, you’ll get 10% off of your aerial tour! There’s no other place you’ll have views this good of the Queen City!

I’m on a Boat!

The joys of boat ownership, without all the hassle and upkeep, are now accessible to just about anyone. Well, anyone willing to pay a monthly membership to a boat club.

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My brother is one of those people who was willing to join the boat club and I have twice benefited from this and enjoyed two glorious days on Lake Norman. Boat Club members pay somewhere between $250-275 per month in the first year and have a set number of rentals per month. My brother has eight 4-hour long rentals in a given month and has his selection of boats. We’ve taken out a pontoon and also a speedboat.

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What if you want to spend the whole day out on the boat? You can. You just double up on reservations for that day. We’ve only done 4-hour increments, once from 11-3, another time from 2-6. The best part is finding a cove or a beach and hanging out; although, my nephew thinks flying a kite off of a moving boat is pretty fun.

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Most of the boat club websites break down for you the difference in club membership versus owning your own boat, and it’s roughly a $2-3k difference per year. So if you’re not set on having your OWN boat, but want to spend some time on the lake and feel like you have a boat, a boat club might be just the thing for you. Plus, this way, you get to try out lots of different boats and don’t have to worry about any of the maintenance. Life jackets and coolers are provided. Just bring your sunglasses, sunscreen and towels. Gas is charged back to the renter, either after the session or can be on a monthly basis. It was interesting to see how much more gas we spent on the speed boat ($20) verus the pontoon ($5). You should definitely factor gas costs in when thinking about joining.

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If you’re looking for a way to have some fun this summer, check out these boat clubs and see if lake life is the life you want to have. It should be noted that Lake Norman is not in Charlotte, but in Cornelius, Mooresville, Huntersville and Denver, it’s actually quite a hike from Charlotte proper. However, there are over 500 miles of shoreline, plenty of island beaches, tons of coves to explore or hang out in, so it might just be worth it.

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Here are some LKN Boat clubs that you can join:

If you’re not sure you want to join, you can always just rent a boat for a day. Many of these clubs also have daily rentals! So, what do you say? Will you be joining a boat club this summer?

Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Charlotte’s greenway system is one of the greatest things about the city – at least for active / outdoorsy individuals. The greenways offer trails and asphalt for running/walking, allow pets, and give you the feel of nature while still being in the city.

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Yesterday, I took a easy three-mile run on Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which goes behind the Metropolitan shopping center near 7th street. This is urban hiking at it’s finest.

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The city was in view for most of my trek, and the greenway felt safe and open. I passed at least 25-30 other walkers/runners, including people with dogs and kids. There were a few underpasses which I feel the need to call out for single ladies who might run solo – you could see through them all the way and they weren’t long, but it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings.

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There are a few water fountains strategically placed on the greenway, and restrooms, too (although, the doors were locked to the restrooms yesterday!). The greenway runs along side a creek, which adds some nice scenery to the run. But Springtime in Charlotte is pretty scenic on it’s own.

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The trail is wide and well maintained. This particular greenway goes by CPCC and all the way through to NoDa. You can really add up the miles if you go from start to finish and back again.

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For anyone not looking for a strenuous “hike” but wanting to get outside and walk, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the greenways and exploring our city. The greenways offer some of the best views of the city (unless you’re pulling over on the side of the Hawthorne bridge!).

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I was pleasantly surprised with this greenway and definitely plan to explore it more in the future. All of the greenways that I’ve been on have been fantastic and offer an exciting option compared to running/walking sidewalks. Plus, when you’re done with the greenway, you can head over to the Metropolitan shopping area and have something to eat at Hickory Tavern, Zoe’s Kitchen, Pisces, La Paz, Smoothie King, or Cherry Jerry. It’s all so convenient!

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Would love to hear what your favorite greenway is (and why!). Feel free to share in the comments!

Fit Charlotte

For those of you who made resolutions to get more fit in 2015, I’m sharing ideas on where and how to make that goal happen, outside of your traditional gym setting.

If you’re into running (or want to be):

  • Sign up for the Whitewater Race Series* at the USNWC. It includes cool races like the We Believe Santa 5k, plus, you get to hang out and drink beer at the whitewater center aftewards! Not up for running a whole bunch of races? Go out on the second Thursday night of each month, May thru September for the River Jam Run* and run 3 or 6 miles before listening to some live music! (*Requires registration!)
  • Not wanting to pay to go for a leisurely run? Hop on over to NoDa Brewing on Wednesday nights for Run Club. You can do a 1, 3, or 5 mile run with other craft beer lovers and then grab a bite to eat from a food truck while you cool down. Don’t live in NoDa? Check out Triple C on Thursday nights for their run club or Heist (also in NoDa) on Mondays.
  • Can’t do evenings but still want to run with a group (for free)? Check out Run with Theoden‘s 6.3-mile lunchtime run, starting from Inside Out Sports (1514 S. Church St.) on Thurdays at noon.

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Prefer to exercise on two wheels? Try:

  • FlyWheel on Providence Road. These 45 or 60 minute intense classes will burn off those calories faster than you can say “never coast.” Sign up here for a free class!
  • Not into stationary riding? If you have your own bike, meet up for a spin with Charlotte Area Cycling.
  • Prefer mountain bikes to road bikes? Visit the USNWC and either take your own or rent a bike when you arrive. Miles and miles of trail await you!

Looking for less cardio?

  • Y1 Yoga has two locations that offer a variety of yoga classes for all levels. Also? Their Karma classes support a charity each month. Other studios I’d recommend are Y2 and Charlotte Yoga.
  • FlyBarre is at the same studio as FlyWheel and offers barre style classes. Personally, I feel like I get more out of these than I did when I tried Pure Barre last year. Get a free class by signing up here!
  • If barre classes aren’t challenging enough for you, try Aerial CLT. These ropes, yoga and hoops classes will get your core in shape in no time and don’t worry, no one will leave you hanging!

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If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain:

  • Edge Performance is an amazing training studio full of ropes, prowlers, suspension trainers, rowers, kettle bells and turf that will get you in shape by mostly using body weight, resistance and a lot of will power. This isn’t crossfit and it’s not an easy class for sure, but it works if you push through.
  • Boxing has long been known to be one of the best workouts to get you in shape. Title Boxing has several locations in Charlotte that will help you punch and kick your way to fit.
  • CrossFit. I debated putting this on here because a lot of people are inspired by the muscles they see, quick workouts and the hype of it. If done safely and correctly, it can be a great workout. Also, you have the be the right kind of person to do this. If you don’t like competition, working out in front of others or doing pull/push ups, this isn’t for you.

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Check out the greenways, Anne Springs, and Crowder’s Mountain on the weekends. All are great places for free exercising while being outside!

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Oh, and for the record, your “normal gyms” are a great place to start, although they may be crowded for the next month or two. It takes 21 days to change or create a habit. So stick with it. You are 42% more likely to keep your resolution if you write it down. WRITE IT DOWN. You can do it. There are all kinds of classes here and if you need an accountability buddy, let me know. I’m happy to help keep you on track as you make changes for the better!

Happy 2015 – here’s to making it healthy, too!

We Believe Santa 5k

A few weeks ago, I ran my last race of 2014 in the form of a trail race at the USNWC. The We Believe Santa 5k happened on a fabulously sunny December day and started near the new Pumphouse Biergarten which is going to be amazing in the spring/summer.

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Runners were able to participate in a costume contest (which many did), have their photos taken with the Coke polar bear and also received these awesome shirts for participating.

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The race started in heats, which was a change from past races. If you’ve ever done a trail race, you know the trails are thin and there tends to be a bottleneck of runners at certain points. That didn’t happen in this race for the most part and was much appreciated. Also, it was a chip race, so no matter what wave you started in, your time was counted by your chip and not just the running clock.

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The race went around the perimeter of the USNWC and then looped through the trails before coming back around the same trail to the finish. Only a mile or mile and half was spent on actual trails but it was still a nice run.

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The whole event was actually exceptional, with NoDa Brewing serving Santa Baby to runners, burgers and hot dogs being served at the pump house biergarten and the weather couldn’t be beat.

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Looking forward to experiencing the new biergarten in warmer weather and having more options for beer/food. If you haven’t participated in a race at the USNWC, you should add one to your calendar. They do a wonderful job of putting on races and events! And even if you don’t want to run, you can hang out, have a beer and cheer on the runners as they finish!