Fun In Charlotte

Hi from Charlotte — again!

It’s been such a great trip so far and I’m heartbroken that in just 12 hours I’ll be on my way to the airport to fly back to NYC.

You know I love you, New York, but Charlotte has been pretty good to me.

A quick recap of the trip:

After our run yesterday, Becky and I showered and were off to run some wedding-related errands.

We bought stamps to mail the Save the Dates, and then went to Office Max to buy pens with which to address the Save the Dates.

It’s Saturday night at this point. We still have not addressed a single Save the Date. Oops.

We have plenty of time. I’ll do them on the plane…right?

We went to an adorable jewelry store then met up with Becky’s fiance, John, for lunch at Big Daddy’s Burger Bar.

The massive menu

Oh. My. Yum.

I built my own burger with grilled onions and tomato on a whole wheat bun.

Juicy and delicious

Sweet potato fries and a side of fruit, too. It was a huge, gluttonous lunch.

What do you do after you eat a massive midday meal?

You go bridesmaid dress shopping, of course.

So yes, with a burger in my belly, I tried on many, many bridesmaid dresses and modeled them for the bride-to-be.

The great thing about Becky is that she has a pretty good idea of what she wants in her bridesmaid dresses. I tried on mostly strapless dresses with a few different cuts. None of the dresses were in the color she wants, but we still got a good idea of what we both like.

And what we don’t like.

Here are a few options we ruled out:

Not our favorite. Discard pile.
No thank you. Discard.
Better in person than on camera, but still a no

After narrowing the selection to two dresses, we rewarded ourselves for all our hard work (joking) by getting pedicures.

Inside at "Polished" — great nail salon!

And then more rewarding: Yoforia!

Hello, frozen yogurt. Pleased to see you here in Charlotte.

Yoforia was no 16 Handles, of course, but it was pretty darn good. We loaded up our cups like champions.

Mine's on the left, with all the chocolate goodies. Obviously.

After a grocery shopping trip, it was time to gorge on dinner.

We went to Mama Ricotta’s, which is a cute Italian spot in Charlotte. I got whole wheat spaghetti primavera, which was good, but the highlight of the meal was the Nutella and peanut butter pie we got for dessert.

This is the before picture.

It didn’t last long.

Stick a fork in us. We're done.

We went to bed with very full bellies.

The game plan for this morning was to wake up early and get my long run in. John is about to start training for the Chicago Marathon (he ran it last year, too!) and has a group he runs with regularly on Saturday mornings.

He agreed to let me tag along to cover the 11 miles Coach Cane wanted me running.

I was up all night last night.

Stomach troubles.

I fell asleep fine, but at 2:30 am I woke up with intense stomach pains and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I spent most of the night in the bathroom until it was time to actually get up at 5:30.

Honestly, I was super nervous about today’s run.

I’d be running with a group of strangers.

I’d be running in a “foreign” city — not knowing where there might be bathrooms available.

I’d also be running for the first real time since starting the Steroids and wasn’t sure how much they had helped.

So yeah. I was nervous.

I felt OK when we left the house to drive to the local YMCA where we’d meet the group. John, his friend Derek and I ran 1.5 miles together before the rest of the group arrived.

In that first mile and a half, I had to ask to stop. I ran into a Westin hotel (lovely!) to use the bathroom and felt OK afterward. It was awkward having to ask my best friend’s fiance to take a rest stop immediately after starting running, but the guys were really cool about it.

We circled back to the Y and met up with a handful of other runners — all badasses.

We maintained a solid pace at first, and made frequent water stops, which was nice.

Look! I'm learning how to hydrate!

I was further excited and comforted when one of the other lady runners suggested stopping at Mile 5 to use the Dunkin Donuts bathroom. You read my mind, Cathy!

After that bathroom stop, I felt great.

Our pace was solid. Totally comfortable but not too fast.

Running through Charlotte was beautiful. I loved being in a new city with new roads to explore, and I was so impressed with how many runners were out and about.

Pretty trees!

We even joined up with a 5K at one point!

Runners! Go go go!

I was pumped about how many water fountains there were along the route, too.

In the end we covered 12 miles.

12 miles!

Decent splits
For all you Charlotte people, here's our route!

I did it!

Happy runner Ali!

I psyched myself out so much this morning. I was on practically no sleep and my stomach showed few signs of cooperation.

But the run happened. It was a huge confidence boost and I can’t wait to keep training and hopefully recovering.

Thanks for running with me, John!

John and me, back at the Y with 12 miles behind us

Guess what, Crohn’s Disease? You’re not going to win this battle.

I am.

I was in an awesome mood after the run, and the day only got better from there.

Because the plan was to spend the entire day on a pontoon boat cruising around Lake Norman!

Lake Norman
John, ready to take us out into the open waters

The day on the water was mostly perfect. I was blown away by the craziness that’s known as the “Sand Bar” in the middle of the lake.

It starts like this, when the first boats arrive:

The calm before the literal storm

One by one, boats start showing up and tying themselves up to other boats. Strangers become friends.

Everyone is drinking.

It started to get crazy

So we basically hung around, people watched, I took several naps (per usual) and enjoyed the amazing weather.

Then, around 4:30, the “amazing weather” started to look a little scary. In the distance — toward the marina, where we had to end up by 6 pm to return the boat — the sky was black.

Not dark.

Not cloudy.


It was terrifying.

So we packed up our crap and sailed out. We made it about 5 minutes from the sandbar fiesta before things got bad.

Real bad.

The rain started pouring, the waves in the lake got huge and it was basically impossible to drive the boat. We were all soaked from the water coming down from above and over the side of the boat, and more than once the pontoon was up on its side. We were all scrambling for life vests, thinking this was how we were going to go.

We hit one particularly massive wave that completely soaked the boat. We had to kick water out the front so we didn’t start sinking.

Seriously. Crazy stuff.

Eventually — with several scared passengers on board — we made it back to the marina.

Horrifying at the time, but oh so fun to look back on.

Becky and me after the craziest boat ride ever. We survived!

We came home, took blisteringly hot showers then hit up a Greek restaurant for dinner. Now it’s just shy of 10 pm and we are discussing going to bed.

Party animals? You bet.

I’ve got a few hours left in Charlotte which will be spent sleeping through the night (fingers crossed), an early morning breakfast date and figuring out how to pack 125 Save the Dates in my already stuffed suitcase.

Thanks for a great trip, Charlotte! You’ve been kind to me.

Until next time…



0 Responses

  1. You hit a lot of the Charlotte highlights on your visit! Big Daddy’s and Mama Ricotta’s are definitely two great CLT restaurants. I’m guessing the Greek place you went to was Greek Isles, one of my lunch favorites. So funny that you experienced the Lake Norman craziness. I’ve been to a bunch of lake bashes and they always fascinate me with the amount of debauchery and drunken behavior. The “White Trash Bash” is particularly crazy! Glad you had a good time and next time you’ll have to squeeze in a meet-up with all of us CLT bloggers 🙂

  2. Sounds like such a fun day!!! And I’m seriously in awe at your pace with your stummy issues!!! I hope things get easier for you Ali!!

    I love all those dresses and that cake looks amazing. That thunderstorm looks scary tho!!

  3. Wow, nicely done on those miles!!! That’s awesome, even despite a crappy night (er, no pun intended). I love the dress shopping pics and that you went and got fro yo and a pedi after, awesomeness for sure. Sounds like a great weekend!

  4. I was looking at all that food thinking, “she’s in for a rough night!”. Amazing job on the run, though. I don’t know how you did it. After a night like that I’d usually spend all day on the couch curled up in pain!!!! Love your attitude.

  5. Looks like you are having a GREAT time. I am so jealous of that Nutella Peanut Butter Pie. I can only imagine how YUMMY it is! 🙂

    Great job on the run.. glad your confidence was lifted!!

  6. SO glad that run gave you some much-needed confidence. you rocked it!! Also so glad that you were ok after that scary sounding boat trip. yikes!! Happy weekend friend!

  7. Wow, it sounds like you’ve had quite the eventful weekend!! I have never been on Lake Norman, but I heard it was beautiful! What a scary end of the day though, I probably would have been a mess if I were you.

  8. You’re hitting up all my favorite spots in Charlotte! I am moving from here this month and have yet to go to Mama Ricotta’s (but am going this wk) That rain yesterday was sick. I went to lunch with a friend and when we came out, the sky was black–eeks!

  9. Charlotte looks like a great city! Perhaps I’ll add that to my list of places to visit during the summer of “single and unemployed.” I’m so glad you had fun with friends (since her name is Becky, it’s no wonder she’s awesome!) and had a confidence-boosting run. Sounds like just the weekend you needed.

  10. Sounds like a fun time in Charlotte! I love exploring new places by running too. Its great that you were able to have company on your run!! Glad your stomach behaved!

  11. You should feel so proud to have run 12 miles(!!!!) at such a speedy pace considering how sick you felt the night before. Amazing. I’m a huge believer in ‘mind over matter’ and you, my friend, personify this.

  12. Ahhhh you ran part of my normal route –queens rd west area! Isn’t it gorgeous?! Also, the Y you met at, is that Dowd by any chance?! The pic you took makes me think it is… that’s actually my work place! Sooo crazy that you met there! Glad you enjoyed your stay in Charlotte 🙂

  13. It’s hard losing a night of sleep before something big the next day, and even more difficult when it’s something like that. I’m glad your stomach behaved for you today, and that you all were safe on the water! Have a safe trip home;)

  14. That Westin you stopped in was the hotel I stayed at when I was in Charlotte to run the RaceFest Half in April, yay!

    Glad you escaped the lake, the storm traveled down here to Columbia shortly thereafter. Kept me cool (and damp) for the 10 miles I put in after work this evening.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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