Vacation Recap.

Well.  I’ll tell ya.

Vacation certainly felt like a whirlwind.

Speaking of which.

Is it just me, or has summer been feeling like a whirlwind lately too?  I was making a list the other day, of all the summery things I need (absolutely MUST!) accomplish before autumn rolls around.  And there is so much still left to do.  Things like blueberry picking and swimming in a lake and making s’mores by the campfire.  I’ll share my complete summery list with you all as soon as it’s complete, and I’d love to hear what’s on your summery agenda too!

One of my “must-do’s” was to head to the White Mountains.  There is no other place on earth that makes me feel quite as happy as NH.  On top of a mountain, I instantly forget about all the worries and stresses of life.  It’s that feeling of absolute peace.

Here is the official photo recap!

HIKING

My goal is to hike all 48 of the 4000 foot mountains in NH.  I got 3 down on this one vacation trip.

First up was Mt. Osceola, which was a relatively steady climb with lots of switchbacks.  It’s one of the “easier” hikes, as far as 4000 footers go. 😉

My Dad taught me a lot about the mountains.  What to bring.  How to prepare.  And most of all, how to respect nature.  He’s hiked with me through all the mountains that I’ve climbed so far, until that day.

I shot off and did East Osceola on my own, which was a pretty exhilarating experience.  This part of the trail was called the “chimney” for good reason.  It was so steep and was WAY easier to climb up versus down.

The one other hike that was done was Mt. Eisenhower, which is one of my absolute favorites!  The view was spectacular.

FOOD

Icecream.  Every day.  What can I say?  I hold nothing back on vacation.  I will say, however, that it feels amazing to be back on track now that vacation has come to a close!

(My sistah is a fellow ice cream lover like myself!  So her little baby is almost guaranteed to love ice cream too…I foresee future icecream dates with my future nephew…yippee!) 

I do, however, still balance things out with healthier things.  Lots of fresh salads and fruits and lean meats.  One of my favorite salad toppings?

Grilled Cajun Chicken + Peach + Walnuts + EVOO & Balsamic Vinegar.  Yum!

JUST FUN

North Conway is one of my family’s favorite places to visit.  There’s all kinds of sightseeing, shopping, and people watching opportunities.

It’s a fun (slightly quirky!) little NH town.

We also went to visit some of the waterfall spots.

This is Sabaday Falls, one of my favorites…

And my sis and I (right) at the basin…

There was also this really cool trail that led through an array of birch trees.

Gorgeous.

And pretty rivers to wade through….

My mom’s favorite activity?

Miniature golf.

My dad always wins.  I almost always lose.  But I laugh the whole way through, so it’s totally more than okay. 😉

Me (left) and my sis!

My beautiful sis (and bestie!)

I need one of these chairs for my backyard.

Just sayin’. 😉

Yep.

Vacation went by way too fast.

But I already have plans to head back to NH later this month for another hike (woohoo!)

Off to relax before the work week begins tomorrow!

QUESTION: Do you take a summer vacation?  If so, what do you like to do?  

Running Hiatus.

Every once in a while, it has to happen.

And.

I highly recommend it.

Whether you’re a gym warrior, a daily walker, a zoomba queen, etc., there’s something very refreshing about taking one, two, three or even four weeks off from your regular routine.  It can literally help ward off an injury, as your body is able to recover and repair all of the nicks and muscle tears that have taken repeated abuse.

The first time I took a week long break after hitting some high weekly running mileage, I felt really, really strange.  I felt as if all of my hard earned efforts were suddenly going to deflate like a giant air balloon.  One week of…nothing.  It just felt plain wrong.

But then, something wonderful happened.

By the end of the week, I wanted desperately to be running again.  I missed the chill of the winter air and I missed the crunch beneath my feet.  I missed making goals.  I felt, in one word, refreshed.  Both physically and mentally.

I try to take at least one or two running hiatuses per year.  Or whenever I feel that I’m getting tired of the routine of getting up early in the morning to hit the roads (yes, it happens!)  I don’t set a hard and fast rule of when to do it, but I will say that it seems to happen in January or February when the negative temperatures start to climb. 😉

This is my current running hiatus plan:

Week 1: No running.  Walk as desired (probably not very often considering the dark mornings/nights and -0 wind chill factors!).  Two sessions of yoga to keep me loose and happy.

Week 2: Cut normal weekly running mileage in half.  Run 3 times only and keep long run to 2/3 normal mileage.  Two sessions of yoga. 30 minutes of indoor biking, twice per week (which my sister is so graciously letting me use for the week!)

Week 3: Bump running back up to 5x per week but keep total weekly mileage to 3/4 normal mileage.  Two sessions of yoga.

Week 4: Resume normal running routine.  Two sessions of yoga.

QUESTION: Have you ever taken a running or workout hiatus?  What do you feel are the pros and cons?

Naragansett Half Marathon

I love racing.

Mind you, I don’t actually race.  People pass me left and right and I simply wave and tell them good job.  There isn’t a competitive bone in my body when it comes to running.

I do, however, love racing.  For the simple fact of getting together with hundreds and sometimes thousands of other people who enjoy doing the exact same thing as I do.

I love training and seeing my mileage slowly increase week by week.  I love it.

Dad and I, somewhat on a whim and prayer, decided to start training for the Naragansett Half Marathon in Easton, MA, which just so happened to be 12 weeks away from when we started running our long runs.

We followed Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Plan to a T.  Dad felt he would have liked to run longer and probably would have felt more prepared for today than what the plan had us do.  I, on the other hand, felt this plan was ideal for my injury prone body.  I wanted to finish.  That was my goal. 😉

When we first arrived at the race, we had about an hour to kill, so I read, stretched and tried to keep my mind as occupied as I could!

I also had fun looking through the goodie bags.  YAY for new t-shirts! 😀

Race day heated up to 86 degrees and I was certainly pushing my limits at certain points of the race.  Thankfully, whenever I felt that the heat had finally gotten to me, there was a sprinkler to run through!  The people of Easton were so supportive and helpful, and I seriously don’t think I could have made it without them!

(that’s dad waving and I’m in the gray t-shirt behind him!)

Up to Mile 5, I was feeling pretty good.  And then at Mile 7, my right knee began to hurt (a reminder of my ITBS!!!)  I really wanted to break 2 hours, but I decided against it and just focused on enjoying the run.  I walked through the 6 water stations, stretched out my legs at each one and took a couple moments to enjoy the view now and then.

So, all in all, I’m happy with that time!  But I’m even more happy that I enjoyed it. 😀

Dad, on the other hand, broke the 2 hr. mark.  He’s crazy like that. 😉

I found the race to be difficult, but mostly because of the heat.  There were several hills, but nothing crazy.  And the support was HUGE.  The town came together to help out, the volunteers were motivating and helpful, and everything felt so well organized.

After the race was done, we watched the award ceremony and then took off to Panera for some sandwiches and lemonade.  And icecream afterwards too (it was national ice cream day, after all!)

So hot.  So tired.  So HAPPY. 😀

What a fun day!!  And now it’s time to take some time off from running to let my body (and brain!) recover.  😀

What I’ve Learned…

Dad and I ran 10 miles today, which marks the last long run before next week’s half marathon!!  Although I’m honestly more comfortable with 10ks and 5ks, training for a half marathon has taught me a lot and it has truly changed my life.

I’ve learned that…

  • Staying up past my “bedtime” (i.e., 9:30am) isn’t worth it when I plan on running early (and long) the next day.  It’s not pretty.
  • Coffee serves as more than just a little pick me up.
  • My body is capable of pushing itself past that initial point of pain.
  • I have a lot to say to God when I’m running beyond 7 miles.
  • Foam rollers, GU gels and chafing are topics of conversation only worth mentioning with fellow runners.
  • Life is a lot like a long run.  There are ups and downs.  Highs and lows.  Feelings of euphoria and feelings of pain.  Times when I want to throw myself on the ground and kick and scream like a toddler.  But putting my best foot forward and trying (just at the very least trying!) always pays off.
  • The run is more important than the finish line.  It’s not always about speed.  It’s not always about the finish line.

(p.s. So far my knees have been completely healthy for this entire training program!  Aside from some scrapes and bruises from yesterday’s 5k, I think I’m in good shape for next week’s race! 😀 )

QUESTION: Have you ever trained for a race or another competitive event?  What did you learn along the way?

Foam Run 5k

Every once in a while, I get this strange urge to be wild and crazy.

Not like “drinking,” “partying,” “can’t-remember-what-my-name-is” kind of crazy.  I mean foamy, muddy, silly wild and crazy.

I mean this…

Before:

After:

I can’t even begin to tell you what kind of rush I got out of doing the latest Boston 5k Foam Fest.  It was like being a kid again, when the slide is just ginormous and the monkey bars are terribly scary (but you can’t wait to tell mom that you made it all the away across!)

This was literally a giant playground.  For grownups.

(I like to think that it was kind of like a spa day, really.  Girl friends.  Mud.  Exfoliation.  All that luxurious stuff.) 😉

There were mud pits.

Electric wires.

30 ft. slip and slides.

8 ft. walls.

Bounce houses.

And foam.

Lots and lots of foam.

Sometimes life is too clean.  Too structured.  Too orderly.

Sometimes it feels good to be a kid.

Sometimes it feels good to get filthy clean.

QUESTION: When is the last time you felt “like a kid”?  I’m such a kid at heart!  I love running through puddles, getting a little messy and being silly.  Especially when I’m in good company. 😉

Fitness Friday

One of life’s many lessons: not knowing what the future has in store for us is actually a very GOOD thing.

For example.

I’m glad I didn’t know that I’d be taking 3 years of chemistry in order to earn a degree in Nutrition (because fear may have stopped me.)

I’m glad I didn’t know that today’s 5k was going to be so hilly (because I would have ran home instead.) 😉

I realize how dramatic I must sound — as I seem to always gush how tough these runs are — but I honestly feel that each 5k that I’ve run has become just a little tougher each time.

More hills.  More heat.  More intensity.

This is me running through a “break,” just after conquering a steep hill.  Right before ascending into a really, really steep hill.  Oh gosh, I’m tired just thinking of it…ha!

There was beer for all the runners after the race but I longed only for water.  And orange slices. 😀

Honestly, I think the hardest part of this entire race for me was running at 5:45pm!  I had a hard time deciding how to eat, when to eat, what to eat, etc.  I’m used to eating a bowl of oatmeal or cold cereal and trotting out the door at 6:00am.  This time change felt tough on my legs and on my psyche.

This is what my “fueling schedule” looked like:

  • 5:00am Breakfast – cold, high fiber cereal with blueberries, milk and walnuts
  • 9:00am Snack – yogurt with granola
  • 11:30pm Lunch – salmon, roasted potatoes, mixed veggies, side salad
  • 2:30pm Snack – 1/2 peanut butter sandwich, two handfuls of cherries
  • 4:30pm Snack – orange
  • 5:45pm RUN!!!!!!!!
  • 8:00pm Dinner – chef salad with “the works” (aka, avocado, black beans, sunflower seeds, boiled egg, etc.)

This schedule seemed to work out just fine.  I didn’t feel hungry and I felt overall very energized (and hydrated!)  Good to know for next time around, although hopefully there will be more morning runs in my future. 😉

This was such a fun way to kick off the weekend!

And now?  Time for a bowl of watermelon and a night of relaxation.

Happy Friday, everyone! 😀

Question: Have you ever run/walked a 5k or participated in another similar event?  OR, if you’ve done many, what was your favorite?

Fitness Friday: “It All Counts”

The temperatures are finally warming up here in New England.  I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to not have to layer up with wool socks, running tights, fleece hats and thick gloves every.single.morning.  Spring is like a breath of fresh air after one too many chilly runs this winter!

Yes.  It makes me happy.

Lately, in addition to my morning workouts, I’ve been trying to squeeze in a 15 minute walk at work.  I sit down a lot, between all the paperwork and charting on patients.  I do make it a priority to get up at least every hour and when I make my rounds to visit patients, I’m shuffling up and down stairs and walking in and out of rooms.

Even still.  It’s pretty sedentary.  So these walks are a must, in my opinion.  And nothing clears my head quite like being outside.

Refreshed.

Re-energized.

Ready for the day.

I wasn’t always the type to just go out for a leisurely stroll now and then.  I went through a fitness phase where I felt that everything needed to be intense or it simply wasn’t worth doing.

Running needed to leave me out of breath.

Biking had to leave me sore.

Weights needed to push me to my limits.

Etc, etc, etc.

While I can still appreciate a hard core workout now and then, I (even more so) appreciate the very act of moving my body.  It’s enjoyable.  And I appreciate what my body is capable of vs. always having to see where my limits are.  AND, it’s healthy.  Studies show that the very act of getting up to stretch or move periodically throughout the day can be very protective against many health related risks (i.e., strokes, dementia, diabetes, etc.)

In other words?

Get up, get moving!

It all counts.

Fitness Friday

Saturday: 11-mile bike ride + 2- mile after dinner walk

Sunday: 7-mile bike ride

Monday: 3-mile run + 2-mile after dinner walk

Tuesday: 6-mile walk, broken up into two walks during the day

Wednesday: 3-mile run + Yoga

Thursday: 2-mile run

Friday (today:) Rest

QUESTION: What is your typical day like in terms of being active/sedentary?  What are some ways you can (or DO) sneak a little activity into your day?