The Olympic Peninsula

The first four days of touring have been a success! We landed in Seattle on Tuesday, drove to Manchester State Park, then biked to Sequim Bay State Park, Lake Pleasant RV Park in Beaver, Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, and now we’re in Hoquiam, Washington. We’re making our way around the Olympic Peninsula on highway 101.

We’ve seen plenty of other touring cyclists in the past few days. I guess this is a pretty popular route and I can see why. The views have just been spectacular! I’ve never been out west and I thought the Green and White Mountains were pretty cool, but they just don’t compare to the views out here.

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We also saw a bald eagle today on Lake Crescent, which is the first one I’ve ever seen! My mom spotted it as it quickly swooped by us. I didn’t have time to take a picture, but I’ll definitely remember it. After all, the bald eagle is a symbol for our country.
The people we’ve met along the way have been very nice. People have gone out of their way to help us with directions, answer questions, or just be friendly. We had some very nice neighbors at our campground last night.

Jim, Jo, and their dog Bella

Jim, Jo, and their dog Bella

They trained sled dogs in Alaska and Jim even did the Iditarod! It was pretty amazing hearing about their stories, including one about encountering an angry moose during the race. Jo is also a blogger who writes stories of what happens just off the road. You can check it out at justofftheroad.us. Jim also does some beautiful photography, which you can visit at jimwoodphotos.com.

Also, did I mention the drivers here? I can understand why drivers in Massachusetts are called massholes. The drivers here will wait until it’s clear to go around us when we’re biking. At one point today when my dad and I took a break, two drivers stopped to ask if we were okay because they thought we were hurt or something. We assured them we were fine and just taking a break.

The weather has been pretty good as well. Although it’s been in the 80’s, it’s much drier heat than Vermont or Massachusetts. Although I know I’m sweating, it just evaporates and doesn’t stay on my skin. My clothes aren’t soaked at the end of the day with sweat. If I were biking in the 80’s in Vermont or Massachusetts it would be MUCH MUCH harder because of the humidity.

That’s all for now. Happy trails!

Let the Biking Adventure Begin!

at the airport at 6am

at the airport at 6am

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We officially made it to Seattle with all our luggage and bikes intact! It’s hard to believe we won’t see the East Coast for another six weeks. Here is our plan for the trip.

The Plan

Our trip begins in Seattle then loops over onto the Olympic Peninsula. We will then head south along the coast to Florence, Oregon and hopefully see Thor’s Well. Check out a picture of it if you have a chance. Then we will stop by Crater Lake and Eugene, Oregon. I’m determined to run a lap around the track if possible! Then we’ll cross over Idaho into Missoula, Montana where the Adventure Cycling group is located, which helped us to plan out our trip. Then we’ll head north to Glacier National Park, Banff, and Jasper. That’s probably the part I’m most excited for. It has some huge climbs, but sounds gorgeous from what I hear. After that we’ll head southwest to Vancouver. If we have time we might take a ferry to Vancouver Island, but we’ll see. Then it’s back to Seattle to fly back home.

My dad and I will be biking the whole thing and my mom will be driving the support vehicle. We’ll be camping the whole thing unless we splurge for a motel or hotel on a really rainy night.

So, that is our current plan. We might change things along the way – cut some things out, add some things in. Nothing is set in stone beside when we’re flying in and out.

A few highlights along the way;

  • Crater Lake
  • Florence, OR (Thor’s Well)
  • Eugene, OR (aka track town!)
  • Glacier National Park
  • Banff
  • Jasper
  • Vancouver Island (possibly)

Bucket List Items for the Trip

  • See a grizzly bear
  • See a mountain goat
  • Run around part of Crater Lake or bike around it
  • Bike all the way up the Road to the Sun (Glacier National Park)
  • Run around the University of Oregon’s track

I’ll blog as often as possible and will try and make some videos with my new GoPro. If you want to see more current updates then you can check out my instagram where I’ll be posting photos; joyrunner6 or the link is in the right column. Talk to you soon!

GoPro Adventures

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GoPro Hero

I’ve loved playing with my new camera! As previously mentioned, I got a GoPro for my birthday; a GoPro Hero to be specific and I’m having so much fun goofing around with it.

The camera itself is very light. I took it along for one of my runs and didn’t use the head strap, instead deciding to just hold it in my hand. I didn’t want to make myself look like a total weirdo! It didn’t feel much heavier than my current GPS watch. Granted, I wouldn’t want to carry it on a longer run, but for an hour or so it didn’t bother me.

The camera is easy to use. It has a “QuikCapture” setting, which means I can just click one button and it turns on and starts filming. If I press it again, then it stops filming and turns off. I chose the entry-level GoPro mainly because it costs less. Plus, I didn’t find the other features of the newer models essential. WiFi, an LCD screen, and more bursts for pictures weren’t a priority for me, especially since this is my first real camera. The GoPro Hero is enough for me at the moment.

It came with a head strap to either attach to a helmet or just wear on my head. I’m not sure I would trust this for the bike trip and plan to get a mount for my handlebars instead. That way it’s right in front of me on the bike and I will be able to see the light to tell if it’s on/off and where the camera is facing.

bike mount

bike mount

For someone that has barely any experience filming and ZERO experience editing film I was pleasantly surprised with how my first video turned out. It definitely isn’t perfect and I know what to change in the future. I have a lot of learning left, but I’m on my way!  Check out the video! Oh, and make sure to watch in 720HD – gotta get the full GoPro experience!

 

Do you have a GoPro? What’s your experience been like with it?

Winter Woes

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Winter can be a tough time for runners. The freezing cold, shorter daylight hours, and icy sidewalks don’t make things easy on us. I’m not a fan of the dreadmill to put it lightly as I’ve explained in previous posts and the indoor track makes my calves flare up. I was hoping the New Years spirit would give me some motivation, but things feel like a lot of effort at the moment.

Add on top of that my dear Aunt Snug passing away earlier this week and things have been kind of rough. She fought a brave 5-year battle with cancer, but it still doesn’t seem real. I feel like I should still be able to go over to the house for 4th of July and see her at the end of the table cracking jokes. My family knows how to laugh, and Aunt Snug definitely ranks near the top. It was oftentimes hard for her to be serious about much of anything because she was always laughing.

This is how I'll always remember her. What a bunch of goofballs.

This is how I’ll always remember her. She’s in the second row third from the left with a big grin on her face. What a bunch of goofballs we are. I’m in the pink jelly sandals in the front.

She was patient with me, though. She’d tell me how good my piano playing sounded after plucking away in the living room for hours probably playing the same songs over and over. Or she’d ask me about my running and wish me luck in my next race. I doubt the sport made much sense to her. Heck, most people don’t understand why I run, but she still whole-heartedly supported me.

She probably has the biggest will to live of anyone I know. Even battling stage 4 cancer she didn’t ever want to give up. It just reminds me how precious life is and how privileged I am to have it. All of us come with an expiration date and we don’t always know when that’ll happen, so we have to make the most of it while we’re here.

Aunt Snug, I hope you’re having fun up there playing with your cats and cracking some jokes. I hope it’s warmer up there because right now it’s close to 0 degrees. Rest in peace. I love you.

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Rest in Peace, Aunt Snug (left). I love you.

NYRR Midnight Run Race Recap

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Soooo, this is a very long overdue update. On New Years Eve I ran in the NYRR Midnight Run. Yep, you heard me right. That’s a race…. in NYC… that starts at midnight. Epicness!

My friends from Running Club (Rachel, Isabella, and her friend Kirsten) met up in the afternoon in NYC. We had planned to do a little bit of sightseeing, but the weather kept us from doing much. Instead we just ended up migrating from Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts to the next Starbucks to have a warm place to stay and sit down. I’m pretty sure I walked about 4 miles before the race even started.

When we got to Central Park things started looking up. There was a dance party near the start put on by the race and within about a minute of joining in we were warm again. I’ve definitely not done anything like that before a race!

This race definitely made me appreciate having a support person. I just did it with my friends, so I didn’t have anyone to hold my belongings and had to use the bag check. Everything went smoothly with that, but because it was so cold it meant that for the 20 minutes before the race I had to constantly move around to just keep myself from shivering. It’s definitely a luxury having someone there to help out.

Granted, it was a relief when the gun went off at the start of the race. We were welcomed to the New Year with a beautiful fireworks display!

The course was really fun as it went all through Central Park. I didn’t expect it to be quite as hilly as it was. The course wasn’t super hilly, but definitely had some good rollers. I spent most of the race trying to find the shortest route, as the roads were a bit windy. I entertained myself with the traffic lights. All throughout the race the traffic lights on the course were changing. Each time they turned green I tried to pick up my pace! There was also this guy running near me whose watch kept talking to him. I don’t mind the occasional beep alert for a mile marker (I have that for longer races), but his watch went off about every half mile and told him his average pace and cadence. Please don’t do that in a race. Not everyone around you wants to hear your details. I probably should’ve studied the course more, but I greatly appreciated the last mile. It was basically all downhill and felt really nice to finish fast.

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Reflections

My finishing time was 27:25. I’ve never run a 4-miler before so I’m not really sure how to feel about it. Guess it’s a PR, though! My general feelings from the race are that I ran all right – not bad not good, but somewhere in between. I wasn’t taking the race all that seriously, but still wanted to give it a good effort. The circumstances definitely weren’t perfect. After all, we were racing at midnight and my internal clock was all messed up as I had been awake since 7:00 that day to drive to New York. The nature of the event makes it difficult to have a great race. Our bodies aren’t meant to race at 12:00am.

That’s not to say you can’t have a good race there! There are definitely some things I would do differently if I run this race again. First of all, I would arrive a lot closer to midnight to avoid chilling at coffee places to try and stay warm. Secondly, I would bring LOTS of warm clothing. After the race, I changed my base layers and had on about three tops (including my winter coat), spandex tights, and hat/gloves, but I was still freezing. After a hard effort like that you get sweaty, which makes you chilly minutes after finishing. I would bring even more warm clothes to keep warm for afterwards.

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Thoughts on the Race

I think NYRR put on a really great race. The course was well marked/directed and the volunteers were very friendly. I got some cool goodies from the race including a comfy shirt. They were giving out glasses and armbands as well, but I didn’t want to wait in line and get cold at the start. The cost was on the pricey side: I can’t remember exactly, but around $50-60. I definitely wouldn’t pay that much for most races (especially just a 4-miler), but the race had some special features that most races don’t have like fireworks and a dance party. One thing I wish the race did have was proper results. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they only had results for the top 10 men and women. Maybe the results are hiding, but I haven’t found the results for everyone. I do wish I could get a proper time from them. Luckily, I did use my watch so I know my time, but it would be nice to know how I stacked up against my competitors.

The biggest thing I would compliment the race on? PORTA POTTIES! This probably sounds ridiculous to any non-runners, but having a place to go to the bathroom before racing is absolutely essential. Huge lines and not having enough porta potties are a common problem at races and can be a big stressor for runners. NYRR did a fantastic job and there were plenty of porta potties. Even a half hour before hand when things are normally crazy, I was able to get in within five minutes. Bravo!

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Overall, I had a fantastic time! It is definitely my most memorable New Years. Thanks Rachel for hosting me! Sorry I slept in for so long the next day, haha. I would definitely like to do this race again (with a few changes). I think I might even be able to convince some of my family into running it with me next year. Watch out guys! 😉

Did you run in any New Years races? Anyone else do the NYRR midnight runs? How’s your 2015 going so far?

New Year

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Now, I don’t mean to get all sentimental and mushy. I’m not sure why, but New Years resolutions make me want to gag. Maybe it’s because the normal quiet gym gets packed with people who all of a sudden decide to get in shape. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is super awesome that people want to make a change and get more active. That’s great! But for people who go all the time, the crowd can be a bit overwhelming. HOWEVER, I think it is important for improvement purposes to look back at my training every so often and plan out the next year.

2014 was a pretty big year for me. However, the first half definitely did not go well. My first marathon training cycle was a bit of a disaster. I ended up getting sick with a bad chest cold for the Half Marathon Unplugged and stupidly ran through it. Then I got a stomach bug for my first marathon (Maine Coast). I ended up finishing my first marathon at VCM, but that did not go so well either.

family after VCM 2014

family after VCM 2014

The second half of 2015 went really well, though! I cut nearly 1.5 minutes off my 10k PR in the summer. The fall races I ran at the Downtown 10k and Labor Day 15k were plagued with some pretty horrible weather, but I got some good efforts in. I qualified for Boston at the Baystate Marathon, which is my proudest accomplishment of 2014. I also got a half marathon PR at the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon.

running to my new 10k PR

running to my new 10k PR

Crossing the line at Baystate!

Crossing the line at Baystate!

I ran 2237 miles. That’s about 13.2 straight days I’ve spent running. Sheesh, it sounds weird when I put it that way. I got a marathon PR (well, obviously, since I never ran one before), a half marathon PR, a 10k PR, and a 15k PR (once again, never ran one before). Not too shabby.

The BIGGEST thing for 2014? My immune system finally picked up its game. Hallelujah! I literally have not been sick since May (knock on wood). This probably doesn’t mean much to most people, but this is HUGE for me. All throughout college and high school (maybe earlier but I can’t remember) my sports’ performances have been seriously affected by my weak immune system. It’s not like I would get any really bad sickness, but just constant colds with the occasional stomach bug. Every sports season in high school I would get a cold at least twice, but normally three times during the few months of competition. It was ridiculous. Oftentimes it would fall right around states or another important meet and I would have to suffer through. It’s not like a cold will always stop someone from competing, but the lethargy and difficulty breathing through one’s nose or chest definitely impacts performance in endurance sports. Just look at the first half of 2014 to see how it affected me. A chest cold made for a pretty miserable half marathon and a badly timed stomach bug ruined my first marathon.

I honestly am not sure why my immunity has improved because nothing has seriously changed in my lifestyle. I almost always get enough sleep (~8 hours). My nutrition (although not the best) has not changed much. My allergies have improved slightly so maybe that’s why. Or maybe it’s just luck? Whatever the reason, I’ll take it. Crossing my fingers that my immune system keeps this going in 2015!

I also didn’t have any major injuries. A touch of tendinities in March, and a tweaky groin/hamstring that came and went, but really nothing serious. I’m soooooooooo grateful for that.

All in all, it was a pretty solid year of improvement. I had some really big lows, but I also had some really big highs. I guess that’s running for you. Any sport, really. You are guaranteed to have ups and downs, but it’s just important to learn and get past the bad parts and celebrate and also learn from the good parts.

What’s coming in 2015?

I already told most of you that I’m not planning on running a marathon in 2015. I think I’ll run a couple halves (Unplugged Half Marathon and a relay at VCM) with probably some 10k’s or 5k’s thrown in. After my 10k PR this past summer and decent 5k I ran a few weeks ago I’m interested in seeing what type of damage I can do at those distances. I haven’t nailed down all the races as I’m still waiting for the dates of some of them.

What I’m most excited for, though, is the bike trip my dad and I are planning. I’ll provide some more details soon, but we are planning a big trip from the end of June until the end of August. We are so so excited! My dad has always wanted to do something like this, but has just not gotten around to it. I’m so happy to be coming along for the journey.

my Dad and I on our bike trip last summer

my Dad and I on our bike trip last summer

The aftermath of biking through a rain storm. Our legs were covered in dirt and grease when we got back.

The aftermath of biking through a rain storm. Our legs were covered in dirt and grease when we got back.

However, the bike trip will definitely impact my fall plans. I know that it won’t be possible for me to get quality running training in during this time. When biking 100 miles/day it’s just not feasible for me to also get in a good base. I’m still planning on running some as I don’t want to lose too much running fitness, but it’ll probably just look like ~25 miles/week. I don’t regret this at all, though, because the bike trip is a chance of a lifetime. Who knows the next time my dad and I can coordinate our schedules to do something like this?

I’ll figure out the fall when I get there, but I plan on using it to start getting ready for Boston in 2016. Hopefully I’ll get a spot in the race. If so, I would love to run in the Boston Marathon.

Goals for 2015?

  • PR’s in the half marathon, 10k, and 5k. Those first two I’m confident I can do, but that last distance makes me nervous just because I’ve been away from it for so long. It’d be really nice to get a new 5k PR, though, and would help me gain the confidence that I can still do shorter races.
  • Consistently get in 3-4 20-minute strength workouts each week. Sometimes I get lazy, but I normally get in 2 core/hip workouts each week of about 20 minutes. I know I should do more, but this is probably my least favorite part of running. I know it’s really important for injury prevention and performance, though, and really want to make a change next year.
  • Blog at least once/week. I don’t force myself to write a post when I’m not in the mood. Otherwise it comes out forced and weird. However, if I go too long between posts then it’s hard to make things flow when I get back to it. I think once/week is a good goal.
  • …. Yeah, guess that’s about it for now.

What did your 2014 look like? What’s on your plate for 2015?

Motivational Monday!

Happy Monday, People! The last Monday of 2014! Here are a few things I thought I’d share with you guys because everyone needs some motivation at times.

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Most of you know that I LOVE the November Project. Although I go to school at UVM I love when I can join a workout in Boston on my breaks. It blows my mind how even in the winter there are HUNDREDS of people that show up to workout in the dark at 6:30 in the morning. Recently the cofounders of the November Project gave a Ted Talk on “How to Start a Movement.” They talk about the secret recipe to starting a movement and their own experiences. The November Project started with only one person showing up to their first workout, but now there are hundreds of us at each workout and November Projects in 16 different cities in North America! That’s powerful! If you’d like to get an idea of their enthusiasm and what they bring then check out their Ted Talk.

This is how dark it is at 6:30. We still show up, though!

This is how dark it is at 6:30. We still show up, though!

Group photo from last Friday

Group photo from last Friday. Oh Christmas tree…

Lastly, here’s an adorable video that I saw last week. It went viral a few years ago and I think I remember it vaguely, but I couldn’t help but smile/laugh when I saw it again. It’s a little boy giving a motivational speech after just learning to ride a bike. You can’t get much cuter than this!

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Happy Monday everyone!