This Friday (like last Friday) I'm participating in a blog link up called the "Friday Five." Each week Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run pick a topic for our weekly linkup, or we can choose our own. This week's theme is "favorite fitness bloggers," but since I'll be heading to Charlotte, NC next weekend I thought it would be fun to post some of the things I love about this seriously underrated city.
We lived in Charlotte for a little over a year before we moved to Charleston. And I love Charleston, but there are still things I'm miss about Charlotte. In addition to the most perfect fall weather ever, there are a ton of other things about Charlotte that are unique and that don't exist here in Charleston.
1. The Charlotte running experience
Running in Charlotte was different than running in Charleston. The running community was larger and more established than here in Charleston - my marathon/half marathon training group alone had over 100 people and that was just one of the many training groups and clubs around town. Because of this, there were lots and lots of races, usually kicking off with the BB&T Corporate Cup Half Marathon in February and going all the way through the holiday races at the end of the year.
And the hills. Lots of runners complain about hills, but I loved training on them. Every run was an incredibly hilly run. When I wanted a "flat" run, I hit the greenway, but even that was hilly by Charleston standards. My regular run route had a 1.5 mile incline at the end of it, so not only did I have rolling hills throughout my runs, when my legs were tired at the end, I was hitting a steady hill. All of that made me a better runner. I miss it.
2. All of the breweries
Charlotte has an insane amount of breweries and most of them are clustered in a few areas of the city, so brewery crawls (and runs) are a way of life. And running and beer are a great partnership in Charlotte. Several of the breweries, including Triple C and NoDa have their own run clubs where hundreds (yes, hundreds) of runners come out every week for a good run and good beer.
3. The U.S. National Whitewater Center
This place is awesome! Seriously. I know we have the beach and everything here in Charleston, but we don't have anything like this place. We had annual passes and went most weekends. In addition to whitewater rafting, there's ziplining, ropes courses, bike and running trails, kayaking, paddleboarding, and other activities. The WWC also hosts several events throughout the year, including beerfests, festivals, races, and concerts. Best place to spend the weekend!
4. Family Addition Dog Rescue of Charlotte
Oh how I miss this organization and volunteering there! This was my favorite volunteer experience ever - largely because of Tanya, the owner, and the other volunteers. I took pictures of the homeless pets at Family Addition and my husband was the photographer assistant. When we first moved to Charleston, we volunteered at Pet Helpers for the first year before Little B was born.
Pet Helpers is an awesome organization and they do great things, but they are so far from where we live and the overall structure of how we had to go to the shelter to take pictures makes it hard with a toddler. With Family Addition, we could have just taken him along since we usually met in downtown Belmont and took pictures there. There was also no set schedule, so we could volunteer as much or as little as we had time for. We also foster failed and added Autumn Beagle to our family when volunteering with Family Addition.
5. The possibility of snow and how quickly it melts away
I hate winter and I hate the cold, but sometimes a good snow storm is fun. Charlotte has the perfect combination of seasons and generally warmer winters, but it can still get snow. But as quickly as the snow comes, it's gone because it's usually too warm there for it to stick around. So you get the fun of a snow day (the city shuts down at the sight of a flake) without all of the hassles of shoveling and driving in it.
And lastly, I'll give an honorable mention to Lake Norman as a 6th thing I miss. It's not the beach, but it is water and there are lots of recreational opportunities there.
So, that's my list for this Friday - all about Charlotte. If you ever get the chance to visit Charlotte, definitely do so. It's a fun city with a lot to offer, but so many people overlook it. I know if it had a beach, I probably never would have moved away!