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Xterra trail 10k (50:54)

Xterra trail 10k (50:54)

I had no plans to do this race until about 15 minutes before my husband left the house.  He had mentioned during the race Saturday night but I had just hoped he would forget. I woke up around 6:15 and my husband’s words at 6:30 in the morning were: “I am seriously doing this race”.  That day, I had planned to do a workout by myself but after thinking about it, I thought it might be fun to get out of my comfort zone.  I didn’t do anything I usually do to prepare for a race and just threw everything in a random bag and got in the car.

The 10k was down in super south NJ, just outside of Salem County.  It’s the part of NJ most people don’t even think exists and most of it is covered in farms or parks, which is great for trail racing.

Like most of the East Coast recently, we have gotten a lot of rain.  It’s rained on and off since last Friday and is supposed to continue most of the week.  Needless to say, the race was very muddy.  Even the “elites” said it would be a tough day on the course.  Always good to hear your first anything will be tough.

We got to the race a bit later than I particularly like and had time for about a mile warmup. I hadn’t charged my watch so ran about 10 minutes and decided that was a mile.

We were given course directions at 7:50 and the race went off at 8.  It was two loops (5kers did one loop and 10k did two).  It was a combination of grass, single track, and about 200 meters of road.

I self-seeded myself directly in the middle of the crowd.  I had no idea what to expect and didn’t want to be too far in the front but also not in the back either.  The race went off and it reminded me of a mass country style start.  We were all in a field, and it quickly funneled into the trail.  I found myself boxed in for the first mile or so.  My goal for the race was just run my own race AND NOT HURT MYSELF. If you know me, I am most likely to hurt myself in a cushioned room.

xterra mudlands 10k alloway nj me running

I thought the first mile must be taking forever.  I wasn’t sprinting and just running.  The course wasn’t “bad” as I thought it would be.  There was mud, but nothing too drastic.  I was running with a large pack of men.

During the second mile, I passed a couple of females and we headed into a much more challenging part of the course.  I had no idea what shoe to wear (TBH, I probably should have worn the same shoe I hike in: The Brooks Cascadia.)  I had opted to run in an old pair of college flats, which was a bad idea.  I shoud have run in spikes over those flats.

Around mile 2, a young kid asked me if we were at the 5k yet and I told him I thought we were about 2 miles in.  Turns out later, he won the 5k overall!  Since it was a two loop course, we went under the finishers shoot at 5k.  I hit the 5k around 25:30 minutes.

xterra mudlands 10k alloway nj me running

As we headed back through the field we started at, I was able to pass a few more people.  I could tell, I had more leg speed (from roads) but they had more technical skill through the mud and single track.

Mile 4 and 5 went uneventfully.  Around mile 4, a male in front of me fell.  I asked if he was okay and he said yes and got back up quickly. The course was much more torn up because of all the people that had come through.  I stepped in ankle deep mud and just plowed through.  My only goal was not to hurt myself.  I had no remorse if I had to stop, walk, or take things easy.

The last mile felt as though it never-ending.  I saw it was about 8:45 am and thought I probably had about 10 minutes or so left of racing.  I just kind of plugged along.

All of a sudden I popped out of the woods and saw the giant finish line ahead.  As I crossed, the announcer said I had won for females.  Then proceeded to ask if I was wearing road racing shoes.  I wasn’t expecting to win, and it was pretty cool to do so.  I had no idea I was even in first place because it’s hard to tell who is in front of you.

xterra mudlands 10k alloway nj me running

In all, I had a great time getting out of my comfort zone.  My only regret was not wearing a trail shoe but I didn’t hurt myself so it ended up ok.  A lot of locals said it was “the hardest trail race they’ve done’ but I don’t have anything to compare it too.

It reminds me a lot of open water swims because you can’t race for time, just on the conditions for the day!  I wouldn’t say I’m “hooked on trails”, and prefer the speed of and consistency of roads.

xterra mudlands 10k alloway nj me running

We were asked to do a jumping shot and I didn’t fall holding glass which is a rather big accomplishment for me

Questions for you:

Have you ever done a trail race?

What is the hardest race you’ve ever done?

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Training: Unpredicted Changes and First Trail Race

Training: Unpredicted Changes and First Trail Race

Last week started off well but then so much unexpected happened.  In the middle of the week, my husband and I were supposed to go to NYC, but that didn’t work out.  Then I ended up feeling like garbage on Saturday, and I missed a road 5k.  Somehow on Sunday my husband convinced me to do my first single track trail 10k on Sunday.  It wasn’t a “bad” week, just not what I originally thought would happen.

Anyway, as I said in my April recap, my only plan for the rest of May is just go along with the punches and have fun.  So far, so good.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes
Tuesday: 12x400s averaging 88 seconds with 400 jog between
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: Hike Bear Mountain (around 4-5 miles of hard hiking)
Friday: Easy 45 minutes
Saturday: Easy 45 minutes
Sunday: Xterra Wetlands Trail 10k

My husband and I were supposed to go to NYC for a Broadway last week but plans changed, and we ended up in the Nyack/West Point Area.  We made the best of it and still had a great time.  We even got an afternoon to go hiking at Bear Mountain.  It ended up downpouring about halfway through our hike!

Between that and hilly runs though the Westpoint Campus, my runs were “easy” but harder than the pancake area I typically run through.

Tuesday: 12X400 88 seconds with 400 jog in between

This workout went better than anticipated.  The weather was good and the sun was out.  Like most of my workouts over the past 6 months, it was on the road through my neighborhood.  Once school lets out for the summer, I’m hoping to be able to take advantage of a local track.

I had planned to do a local 5k on Saturday but I woke up exhausted.  I can’t put my finger on it, but something told me not to do the race. It was torrential downpour and my gut told me it wasn’t worth it.  So I didn’t.  I didn’t really have a direct reason “not  too”, other than my body was tired and my gut told me not too.  I slept in and ran easy in the rain.

Trail 10k:

Which leads me to how I even got to my first single track 10k on Sunday.  My husband has gotten more into trail races lately and wanted to drive down and do it.  I woke up late that Sunday and did nothing I “typically” do before races but was able to quickly pack clothing and jump in the car with him.

We got to the race around 7:30, had time for about a mile warmup, and all of a sudden it was time to go.  I ran cross country in college, so racing in the woods isn’t 100% new to me, however, a legit single trek trail race is.  I self seeded myself in the middle.  I didn’t want to be overzealous in the front, nor did I want to be in the complete back.  I probably was a bit too far back because I found myself passing people the entire race.  It has rained the last 3 days in NJ (with it only continuing), so the trails were deep. I ran in a 5-6 year old pair of Nike LT flats which was not my best idea.  My only goal was not too hurt myself.  I finished in about 50 minutes and was even first women, which I was surprised!  I had a lot of fun and I’m glad I got out of my comfort zone.

Even though the week wasn’t what I had planned at all, I had a lot of fun getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things.

Posts from the Week:

Skin benefits from Collagen

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands 

Questions for you:
Have you ever done a trail race?
What was your best workout of the week?

Sand Castle Diner (Beachwood)

A few weeks ago, before walking around Cattus State Park, I went to the Sand Castle Diner in Beachwood.  I remember reading the Sand Castle Diner making one of the “top 40 NJ diners” so I was excited to have the opportunity to stop by.

Atmosphere: A
The exterior of the Sand Castle Diner is cobblestone.  It’s not a big shiny diner, like many, but it’s a nice modern diner.  The inside is big with plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar.  It’s a very modern building, and it appears to have had been updated.

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh each time. There wasn’t anything unusual about it, but it was good coffee.

Sandcastle Diner toms river

Food: B
The Sandcastle Diner has every type of food you can imagine in a diner.  There are plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.  I was indecisive of what I wanted.  Ultimately I decided to order a breakfast special which came with eggs, pancakes, and ham.

Sandcastle Diner toms river

The special was good.  It’s hard to mess up breakfast but everything was cooked well.

Sandcastle Diner toms river

Service: B

The waitress was friendly and brought us refills when we needed them.  In all, the food came out and quickly, and I have no complaints.

Price: $
For my salad and coffee, it was $16.

Summary/Would I Come Back:
I liked the Sandcastle Diner, and it’s definitely one of my more favorite diners along the shore. I would go back!

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Food: B
Service: B
Price: $10-20
Overall: B

You can see all 186 diners I’ve been too here.

Questions for you:
Where is the biggest salad you’ve gotten?
Do you have many beach trips planned for the spring and summer?

Dynasty Diner (Tuckerton)

Dynasty Diner (Tuckerton)

Recently, I got dinner with Ariana at the Dynasty Diner.  One of my many goals is to go to more shore diners this summer, and when Ariana was in town for the New Jersey Marathon, it worked out.  I’ve followed Ariana on the internet for a long time, so it was great to finally connect.

We arrived around 4:30 for dinner and it wasn’t crowded.  The Dynasty Diner was a lot bigger than I anticipated.  I hadn’t been to Tuckerton before, but it’s a cute small shore town.

Dynasty Diner tuckerton nj

Atmosphere: A
The Dynasty Diner looks like a typical, chrome, shiny diner.  The outside was big, shiny, and metallic.  If you are looking for a stereotypical NJ diner, the Dynasty Diner meets that.

The inside had a full-length bar, with retro booths, and tables.  The Dynasty Diner meets all stereotypes of a NJ Diner.

Coffee: B
The coffee at the Dynasty Diner was good.  It was brewed hot and fresh, and I didn’t have any complaints about the coffee.  I could have used more refills but other than it was good.  The Dynasty Diner serves Lacas coffee, and you are even able to buy it up front if you choose.

Dynasty Diner tuckerton nj

Food: B
The Dynasty Diner serves everything a stereotypical diner would serve.  It follows the unwritten “diner guidelines.”  There are plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.  It also has a page dedicated to Greek specialties.  Originally I had planned to get a gyro, but when that wasn’t an option, I ordered the Greek salad on the fly.

Dynasty Diner tuckerton nj

When the Greek salad came out, it was massive.  The waitress said it was enough to feed four people and she wasn’t joking.  Enough to feed four people ended up being me.  I liked the Greek salad, however, there were a few things it was missing including anchovies and onions.  It had plenty of lettuce but could have used more toppings.  The dressing was good, and in all, I enjoyed it.

Service: A
The waitress was friendly, and our food came out extremely fast.

Cost: $
For my salad and coffee, the cost was $13.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
I had a great time at the Dynasty Diner, and it is definitely one of my favorite shore diners.  I would love to go back sometime!

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Food: B
Service: A
Price: $10-20
Overall: B

You Can See all 185 Diners Here.

Questions for you:
What are your plans this summer?
What is your favorite salad topping?

Skin Benefits from Collagen

Skin Benefits from Collagen

Last week, I talked about how Vital Proteins has helped with my personal recovery and running.  This week I thought I would talk about other benefits such as skin!

me vital proteins

I’ve mentioned in many random posts, but my skin has never been flawless.  I wasn’t blessed with those genes.  I see a dermatologist frequently.  Through high school and college, my skin went through cycles of being worse than a preteen going through puberty.

After using Vital Proteins for nearly 6 months, I’ve found it to help with my skin, hair, and nails.

Keep in mind I’m not a doctor, and this is my personalized experience.  This isn’t something to help solve skin issues, but hopefully, you’ll notice benefits for your skin as well.

How do Vital Proteins Help Skin?

Vital Proteins are a beauty-specific product to support the skin’s moisture, improve elasticity, tone, and vibrancy.

What Even makes Skin Healthy?

Not breaking out?

Skin is a lot harder to describe as “healthy.”  There isn’t a magic food that makes skin healthier.  You can’t just eat more, and you have healthy skin. There isn’t a magical pill or potion.  Plus everyone has different skin.  There are also plenty of uncontrollable factors such as genetics and age.

As I mentioned last week, collagen is a protein in the body’s connective tissues.  As we age, our natural collagen production decrease.  This is how wrinkles appear, among many fine lines.

What are some Key Vitamins for Healthier Skin?

Collagen: Since this post is primarily about collagen, we should start there right?  Collagen is one of the most significant factors in keeping your skin healthy.  Before taking collagen, I had no idea how important and beneficial it was.

Your body naturally produces collagen but Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides are a healthy natural source of collagen.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants seems like a “power” nutrition word. Merely saying antioxidant makes you sound healthier but what is it? An antioxidant means it can bind to electrons and neutralize free radicals in the body.

Antioxidants are found in many foods but most commonly in both fruits and vegetables.  A few sources of antioxidants include berries, grapes, dark chocolate, and mushrooms.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C supports the production of collagen.  You can find Vitamin C in most citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, and my favorite: mango.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E has an antioxidant effect too. A few foods high in Vitamin E are avocado, spinach, and seeds such as sunflowers seeds or almonds.

Right now, the Vital Proteins product I like the most for my skin, hair, and nails is the Beauty Greens.

Personally, I like the “greenness” of the drink itself.  I like to add 2 scoops into a glass of milk with ice.  Boring but it tastes good to me.  It’s hard to make a green smoothie look good but I can assure you it is.

Some of the benefits I’ve noticed with my skin are:

  • Promoting collagen formation, affecting hair, skin, and nails
  • Supporting a healthy glow
  • Enhancing skin clarity and smoothness
  • Increasing the body’s natural moisture level, improving hair, skin, and nails
  • Helping to maintain firm skin

Since beginning to take Vital Proteins about 6 months ago, I’ve seen small changes in my skin.  My skin is a lot smoother.  It does not take the place of going to the dermatologist every few months, but I have had success with it.  While I am an ambassador, I have noticed an improvement beforehand.  My skin is the most randient it’s been since high school!

Windy day down the shore.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

 

Other Vital Protein and Collagen Posts:

Recovering with Vital Proteins and Collagen

Questions for you:

How do you take care of your skin?

Do you take Collagen or Vital Proteins?  Have you noticed a difference?

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

As part of my “spring and summer” NJ bucket list, I want to go to more local parks.  Last year we went to a lot of northeast parks, but we’ve been feeling the shore this year!  I’ve already been to Turkey Swamp in Freehold as well as Cattus Island in Toms River.

Anyway, one park I’ve wanted to go to was Hartshorne Park in the Atlantic Highlands.  It’s a little bit of a treck (about 80 minutes), but one random weekday last week, we decided to drive up there.

Hartshorne Park is a lot hillier than anticipated.  I thought, oh it’s along the shore it will probably be flat.  That was not the case and my Garmin said I climbed about 80 flights of stairs.  Not that it matters, but don’t go in expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne is 794-acre site and overlooks the Navesink River.  After some research, I came to find out it’s one of the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast.   If you are looking for a great park for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking (we saw many bikers), this park is for you!  No, the park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing drew my husband, and I here was the history of the park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Park to modernize coastal defense.  You can view several of the bunkers in the park.

With the rise of Airpower (go Air Force).  Military bunkers were not needed as much. During the Cold, War Hartshorne served as a missile defense site and command center.  It was equipped with radar, computers and electronic plotting devices.  All of these structures have been removed, but the bunkers are still in place.

The Hartshorne Park site is now listed officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyway-

As I mentioned, I hadn’t done a lot of research about the hiking in the park.  If I had, I would have known all of the historic sites are in the parking lot, and the park is much hillier than anticipated.  We got there around noon, and it took us just about 4 hours to hike 8 miles.  We stopped, we took photos, we looked at the history.  It was a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up hiking about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site.

I didn’t expect so much green, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected it almost to be on the water since that is what people took photos of!

Hartshorne park

A very large treeHartshorne park

Another large treeHartshorne park

Most of my photos are from the military site which is within 200 yards of the parking lot.

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

A Map of the site

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

The Bunker

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Now onto the hiking portion.  With the hiking, it goes deep into the pines as well as near the water.  There are so many different views!

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

In all, it was a beautiful hike in the forest as well as along the water.  I’m glad we finally made it up there!

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

What was the last historical place you went?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?

Cape May 10k (41:07)

Cape May 10k (41:07)

A 41:07 is a great 10k time, but it’s not a great 10k time for me.  In fact, I ran a 38:13 10k during the April Fools Half Marathon and ran almost 20 seconds per faster in the Broad Street 10 miler last weekend.  Not great races come with the territory and not every race is going to be “the best ever”.  I wouldn’t use the term bad because I started and finished injury free. A race I left inured, I would call bad.

Anyway, my husband and I left the house around 5:30 am on Saturday.  When we left, it was a torrential downpour.  The roads were flooded, and it looked like it would be one of the most challenging races ever.

Last year, a storm had passed through during the race, and it was so unseasonable the weather channel was down filming Cape May.  I knew there was very little that would cancel the race.

As we were driving down, the weather cleared up.  It was extremely windy along the shore but at least not raining.

We got to the race around 7, signed up and went on a short warmup.  I saw a few people I knew got to the start, and by the time I knew it, we were off.  The 5k and 10k went off together.  During the first mile, I knew I didn’t feel good.

It wasn’t the feeling where things would get better.  I didn’t feel good, and I knew I wouldn’t during the entire race. I was more tired and sore then I had been all week.  I knew the next few miles were not going to be fun and spoiler: they weren’t!

I hit the first mile in 6:18 but I knew we had a tailwind.  I didn’t know much about the course, but since it went along the shore, I assumed it would be windy. I ran the second mile alone and it was into the headwind.  I heard my watch beep and I looked down to a 6:46.  At that point, I knew there was no point in stressing about time, and I just needed to get through the race.

We ran into a straight headwind for the third mile.  I was running alone and into 35 mph headwind.  It felt magnified since we were right along the water.  I hit mile 3 in 6:58.  It was slower than most, if not all, of my half marathon miles in 2018.

After reaching the halfway point, I told myself “just a 5k left”.  We turned around mile 4 and headed back towards the start.  This time we had a tailwind for a mile, and I ran a 6:36.  I should tell you I felt magically better, but I felt no different than when I ran the first half of the race.

Around mile 5, the bottom of my feet started to burn.  It is a sensation I haven’t had in a very long time and typically happens with trainers, not flats.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I told myself, if it gets worse you will stop and NGAF that you “had a mile to go”.

The final mile went along the boardwalk.  My feet hurt, but they weren’t getting worse.   Around mile 5.5, you could see the finish, and I just wanted to be done.  My friend and local, Grace, passed me around 5.5 like I was standing still.  It was the only person I ran “with” for the last 5 miles.

I crossed the finish in 41:07.  On a “bad day,” I had wanted to run around 40 minutes, but I didn’t meet that goal.  The minute I stopped, my feet hurt.

A lot.

It wasn’t a bone or tendon hurt, but the bottom of my feet just burned.  I had to sit down for a second.  I quickly took off my shoes only to realize I never put on my racing flats.  I had worn a pair of trainers that had 500 miles on them.  I remember putting them in the donation pile at home, but I had taken them out to “wear casually”.  No wonder my feet hurt.  I had essentially run with no cushion on the pavement for 6.2 miles.

Ultimately from wearing the wrong shoes, I lost both of my middle toenails.  I’m embarrassed it happened, but oh well.  With or without my racing shoes, it wasn’t my day.  I wasn’t feeling great and it was also windy. I’m not happy with my time, but I’m happy I’m healthy.  Not every race will be your best. I’m not devastated because it’s unhealthy to think you’ll feel perfect every day.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite racing shoe?

For 10ks I like the Saucony Type A.

Do you like the 10k?  What are some 10k tips you have?

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