Hiking the Delaware Water Gap

As I mentioned in a post earlier, hiking has been something my husband, and I have both gotten into recently.  New Jersey isn’t the state you think of when thinking of great hikes but there are a lot of different fun and exciting trails we’ve taken.

I first got into hiking when I was completely injured from running.  Hiking made me feel healthy and strong.  Even though I’m healthy again, my husband and I are still enjoying the adventure of hiking.

Earlier in the week we drove up to the Delaware Water Gap in north west, New Jersey.  It’s one of the furthest points from our house and took about 2 hours to drive.  We wanted to hike to Sunfish Pond.

Sunfish Pond is a glacial lake formed from the last ice age.  It took us about 4 hours for the entire hike.

This is always a welcoming sign:

bear county

After hiking about 3 miles, almost completely up, we made it to the top of the mountain.  It was a gorgeous view over the Delaware Water Gap and we could see into Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

hiking sunfish pond view

We continued along the trail to get to Sunfish pond.  The pond was well worth the hike.

hiking sunfish pond 1

sunfish pond

t and i

We spent a little while out there and headed back home.  Since it has rained recently, there were a lot of small waterfalls and creeks.  Last time we hiked, most of the falls were dry!

hiking sunfish pond

Other Hiking Related Posts:
Hiking the Hollywood Sign
Hiking to Hemlock Falls
Hiking at Bear Mountain Park (Getting Lost)
Hiking Bear Mountain Part 2

Questions for you:
Do you enjoy hiking?
Is it flat or are there mountains where you live?

The Great Hat Debate of the Men’s Marathon

If you watched the Men’s Olympic Marathon, then you noticed the amount of talking about hats.  Most athletes that ran had at least one statement commentating on their hat.  The commentators of the Olympics is a post for another day, though…

mens marathon

image via IAAF

On the US side, Rupp, as well as Meb, changed hats and most competitors ultimately took off their caps.  Ward stayed hatless the entire race.

Why were the commentators so obsessed with the racers hats? 

I decided to take an in-depth look at the hat situation and see how it affected the athletes and their placing.  Because why not? If the world’s “best” marathon commentators allowed to comment on hats…why can’t I.

If you followed me on twitter, you know after five minutes of listening to #hatchat by the commentators, I jumped on board with #hatchat too.

Actual comment from the commentator:

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To clarify, Salzar later said the hats were filled with ice to keep the racers cooled.  Is that an unfair advantage?  I don’t know.

Any runner was welcome to have multiple hats but how many runners thought of that?  Are water stations going to eventually become aid stops?  Will you be able to stop, check your cell phone and play Pokemon Go at a water station?  Who knows how the marathon rules will progress…That being said, none of the athletes were breaking any rules by exchanging hats.

Let’s look at the three medalists: Kipchogue (gold), Lilesa (silver), and Rupp (bronze).   We can see both one and three started with hats but by the end of the race, neither had their original hat.  Several athletes exchanged hats during the course, however, Rupp was the only to medal.

At the beginning of the race and through about mile 10, it looks like several racers have white hats.  Only one lone athlete dared to wear blue, and he made it in the lead pack until around mile 20.

Let’s look at the various types of hats athletes used:

The overall winner began his race with more of a ball cap.  It had a flatter rim.

Both Rupp and Meb (possibly other athletes too), used various hats.  Each of their hats was filled with ice to keep them cool.

Early Stages of Race:

Lead pack of 35ish men:

  • About half wearing standard hats
  • One blue hat
  • One bandana/headband combo
  • A few visors but it seems more like a female racing strategy (I am a visor woman myself)
Mid-Race: 10-15 men
  • Half of the racers are wearing standard hats
  • One blue hat
  • One bandana/headband combo
  • No visors remain
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsLead pack of 7
  • Leader maintains hat
  • Rupp is on hat 4 (?)
  • Blue hat begins to fade
  • Three hats left
Lead Pack of 4:
  • Leader has dropped his hat
  • Rupp remains the only hatted athlete
  • Pace starts to drop
Final Few Miles:
    • No athletes have hats and pace quickens
    • The hat debate is over

So my questioning begins…Do hats make you race quicker?  Does throwing your hat off mean you are about to drop the pace?The most important question, however, is: How can Hats Help the Nonelite Runner?

I’m no professional but can a hat (or 10 hats throughout a race) help a common runner like me?

Here I am running in a visor (which I kept and have run many races and training runs in).
Here I am running in a visor (which I kept and have run many races and training runs in).

Hats can keep the sun or rain out of your eyes and can keep you cooler.  If you can find a hat that you like running in, there aren’t any real disadvantages.

Conclusion:

Will I wear a hat in my next marathon?  I will probably wear a visor if it’s sunny or rainy.  I like the sun out of my face as well as the rain.  I won’t have the luxury to exchange hats midrace but I’ll still use the one I’ve come to know and love.

Questions for you?
Hats or no hats?
Do you think the hat exchanges were fair? 

Workouts: Rest and Group Runs at Breweries

As I mentioned in my training log last week, the goal was to take a step back from training this week.  I’ve been consistently running for about a month now and needed a “back off” week.

Back off, rest, cut back….you get the idea.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest 15 minutes core
Wednesday: Easy 40 minutes 15 minutes core
Thursday: 3 Mile Group Run
Friday: Easy 40 minutes
Saturday: Easy 60 minutes
Sunday: 6 mile tempo  15 minutes core
 Total:  35 miles

Thoughts:
All of my easy runs were easy.  They were boring, untimed and I just ran for 30-40 minutes.  The Group run was definitely my favorite.  There is a local 5k in a few weeks called The Flying Fish 5k that runs from the Flying Fish Brewery.

I signed up for it, and our running store hosted a group run with them on Thursday.  We ran an easy 3 miles and hung out at Flying Fish afterwords.  It was fun to get a few miles with a lot of friends and just hang out.

Flying Fish 5k

Tempo Run:
This run gets it’s own blurb since it’s the first workout I’ve done since May.  Instead of racing this weekend, I opted for a tempo run. It put less pressure on my legs but still got turnover and speed work done.  While it was hot, my legs questioned how to run fast, and I felt awful, I’m glad I did it. I’ll have to rip the band-aid off for speed work eventually.  Right now I’m limited to one-speed workout a week: either a race or a workout but not both.

In summary, I’m happy with how the run went, but I do know I have a lot to do to get back where I was.

Next week I plan to get back into training.  I’m hoping to begin consistently adding longer runs and getting back into higher mileage.  I feel as if I’m in the limbo stage of running where I’m not 100% healthy, but I’m not injured either.  If you get too arrogant during this stage, you end up injured again.

Posts from the week:
Hoka Clifton 3 Review
Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury
Life as a Military Spouse

Questions for you:
Do you like group runs or running by yourself?
What was your best workout of the week?

Time to Eat Diner

A few weeks ago, Caitlin and I met at the Time to Eat Diner.  The Time to Eat Diner has been on my to-do list for a while.  I’ve heard it’s good plus who can argue with that name?  Out of all of the names, “Time to Eat” is in the top.

When in doubt, I will close my eyes. But don't worry, Chelsea looks great
When in doubt, I will close my eyes. But don’t worry, Caitlin looks great

Atmosphere: A
The Time to Eat Diner is located in Bridgewater, NJ after a semi-confusing roundabout.  It’s modern, clean and has been plenty of parking.

The inside is spacious with plenty of seating. You walk in next to a large bakery case. It’s clean as well which surprisingly has been an issue lately.  We were lucky to sit in a booth towards the front.

Coffee: A 
The coffee was great and had plenty of whipped cream.  The only thing missing was more coffee.

Time to Eat Diner

Service: B
The waitress was friendly, and the food was brought out quickly.  It might have been the fastest I’ve ever received food.

Food: B
It was exceptionally hot that day, and I was craving something cold.  I had only run half an hour but I sweat so much, and I didn’t want any hot food.  I ordered a Mediterranean salad.

Originally I wanted salmon, but they informed me they couldn’t do that, and so I stuck with the chicken.  When the salad came out, I was confused about whether it was chicken or salmon.  Both Caitlin and I stared at the chicken trying to figure it out: was it chicken?  Was it fish?

It was the fishiest looking chicken I’ve ever seen.  That being said the salad was filling, and there was plenty of chicken. When I ate it, it tasted normal, and I have no complaints.  I wish there were more mixed greens, but the salad was good.

Time to Eat Diner

Cost: $$
For my salad and coffee, the cost was $15. It was more expensive for the amount of food, but it was a good meal.

Summary/Would I come back?

I liked the Time to Eat Diner.  The meal was good, and there were plenty options.  It wasn’t the best diner, but it wasn’t the worst either.  It as odd they couldn’t add salmon, but that’s how it goes.

Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Cost: $10-20

Overall: A

Question for you: What’s the restaurant with the coolest name you’ve been too?

Life as a Military Spouse

While this is (mostly) a running blog, it’s also a personal blog too.  After a long conversation with a friend, I realized where

I find myself constantly going back and forth of being: 

A “proud military spouse.”

To finding my own identity…

To being frustrated with the military because everything changes so rapidly…. 

I’ll always be proud of what my husband does, whether he is in the military or not.

Finding my own identity is a post by itself.  In conversation, I don’t care to talk about myself a lot (ironic since I’ve been blogging for five years), but I find myself questioning my identity.

Am I Hollie, military spouse?  Hollie the runner? Hollie the volunteer? Hollie the blogger?  To be honest, I don’t have an answer to that, and I find myself lost in my own identity.

And of course, the last frustration component makes up most of this blog. 

You know what?

Life has been hard.

Not in a whiny sense but in a talk real sense.  My husband and I are preparing for another deployment soon.  By “preparing”, I mean the Air Force needed him for another last minute trip, and he is currently away doing something else.  The trip was only supposed to last four days but four days turned to 5…6…7…and we are still counting upwards.

In the next 16 days, there is a lot to do before the deployment.  None of these things, he (or I) can do while he is away doing something else.  Sure there are goodbyes, but there is a lot of paperwork and misc tasks that have to be done beforehand.

These tasks are done on top of working a normal job.  What most people don’t realize is that also with the military, you don’t just “fly some” and come home.  When you’re not flying you’re back doing things on base too.  So it isn’t like a vacation when he is back. Not that he has been back to do that.

Essentially neither of us work regular hours.  Today (Friday) was our only day off together for the next 16 days, but that didn’t pan out. With my job, I must request days off a month in advance.  Working in retail that is what happens.  You can’t call in sick because if you do, the store can’t function. It ultimately strains the store.

I love my job but to give you an idea of how August played out, I asked for four days off to spend with my husband.  All four of those days he had emergency missions.  All four of those days off were wasted for me.  If I hadn’t requested off, I’m sure he would have had off.

With the military, your plans are always changing.  Your needs can often come behind the needs of the AF and the county.  I love my husband, and we are in a happy marriage but this month has tested both my stress and anxiety.  I would by lying if I said I hadn’t cried when several plans were canceled. Is it the end of the world?  No, but it’s frustrating.

I’m not a perfect wife, military spouse or person.  I do know that if he could, my husband wouldn’t cancel plans.  

So where does this leave me now? 
The same place I started.  Unfortunately, my plans are often dependent on what the needs of the military.  I’ll keep trucking on and we will make the best of the situation as we normally do.

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

It feels like I picked the hottest and most miserable weather to get back into shape.  Even though I only took two months off due to injury, I lost a lot of fitness.  Honestly, that’s fine.  Thinking out loud, We can’t be in peak fitness forever and a break doesn’t hurt anyone.

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Getting back into shape isn’t always the most pleasant experience.  Getting back into shape when it’s extremely hot, can be even more miserable. A lot of fellow runners have asked how I am getting back out there.  I’m not a coach, expert or anything close.  I’m just a female who likes to run and blog through the journey.

Here are a Few Tips:  
  1. Track Everything: When coming back from injury, this is especially important. I began tracking when I felt any residual soreness and how I felt during the run.  Slowly, the residual pain started at 1 mile.  Then later it was 2.  Then even later it was 3 and finally after I finished a 5-mile run, I realized I was completely pain-free.  Tracking things allows you to see physical progress.
  2. Set Achievable Goals: You aren’t going to be 100% pain-free or set a PR within the first week of running. Setting realistic and achievable goals is important.  Maybe it’s to work up to racing again, or maybe it’s run consistently every day.  Making a goal keeps you focused.
  3. It’s All Mental: Fitness is based on a collection of runs and races. It isn’t based on one single event.  Even if you get discouraged during one single run, chances are you’ll have a better one soon.
  4. Stay Positive: This is easier said than done.  I try and focus on the positives on each run.  Even if the positive if just “I ran injury free”.
  5. Constantly Reassess: Injuries are tricky that way. Some injuries, you come back and feel on top of the world.  Other injuries, you feel as though it will take months or even years to go back to where you left.  To be honest, this is an injury that is taking longer than anticipated. I reassess my foot daily to see where I’m at and how I feel.
Finally, just remember your fitness is a collection of workouts. A day, week, month or event a year isn’t going to make or break your journey.

Questions for you:
How do you come back stronger from an injury?
What is your favorite type of weather to run in?

Hoka Clifton 3

For the last month, I’ve been using the Hoka Clifton 3 to run in.  After my ankle fracture, I wanted to find shoes with more cushion.  Even though I was training in the high cushion Saucony Triumph, I opted for something softer and with more cushion.  Lucky for me (eh), the Hoka Clifton 3 was released around the same time I began running more than a quarter of a mile.  Interestingly enough, the Hoka Clifton was one of the first shoes I reviewed on LOLZ blog nearly 2 years ago.

Hoka Clifton 3 Shoe Review

Keep in mind, there is no “best” running shoe.  What works for me, might not work for you.  (See: Why Running Shoe Reviews are Mostly Worthless). Hoka isn’t paying me to promote their shoe.

Fit: 

The biggest change for the Hoka Clifton 3 came to the fit. As many people realized, the Hoka Clifton 2 sized both narrow and short.  For a shoe that was supposedly a wide toe box, it wasn’t. That was a big reason I chose never to run in the Hoka Clifton 2. My toenails are important to me and I need a wider shoe.

The Clifton 3 has a similar to fit as the original Clifton and is much wider. I normally wear a size 9.5 wide or size 10. The size 10 fits well.

Ride: 

The Hoka Clifton is an extremely soft, marshmallow cushioned shoe. That’s a huge reason I chose to run in the shoe after my ankle fracture. I already prefer a high cushioned shoe, but I also wanted a shoe that was soft and felt as if I was running on pillows. The Hoka Clifton feels that way.

The Hoka Clifton is not a heavy shoe, but the third model feels as if it’s heavier in the forefront.  I like that feeling because it means more metatarsal cushioning.

Pros:

  • Wider than the Hoka Clifton 2 (a common complaint).
  • Inexpensive for the amount of cushion ($130)
  • Lightweight

Negative:

  • Could use extra width or a wide model.
  • The cushion does not last the traditional 400 miles. If you are training in them, you will be replacing them sooner than 400 miles.

Hoka Clifton 3 Shoe Review

Overall thoughts:

I like the Hoka Clifton 3.  I’ll continue to run in the shoe until the cushion is gone.  I can appreciate the shoe is much wider. However, it is still not as wide as the original model.  I do hope they either continue to widen it or release a wide version as well.

Similar models: Saucony Triumph, Asics Nimbus, Altra Paradigm and Brooks Glycerin

Questions for you:

Have you ever run in Hokas? 

What is your current favorite running shoe?