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A Summer of Fun

A Summer of Fun

I can’t believe the “technical” summer is almost over.  I had one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time.

Not running wise, but life wise.  For many years post-college, I’ve looked back and said: eh what did I “really” do over the summer?

It’s usually the same: See a few friends? Go to the beach a few times? I always say I’ll do more things, but for whatever reason, I don’t.  Of course, like most adults, I have a job and other responsibilities, but I made time for things when I could.

This summer I made it a priority to get out of my house and do things.  On days I was off from work, I traveled somewhere new.  I didn’t spend oodles of money going across the country every day I was off work, but I did take time to explore various parts of the state, and see family and friends, and explore.

I was lucky to go to all of these states including new to me: New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine.

States I Went to this summer

I didn’t plan the summer to be like that, and if you had asked me in May my plans, I wouldn’t have had much.

The highlight was definitely for my 28th birthday, I decided to run the Copper Mountain 25k Trail Race.  Trails aren’t something I train a lot on, but I wanted to test myself and just do things I’ve never done before. I definitely don’t regret it, and it was one of the best parts of my summer!  I highly recommend the Under Armour Copper Mountain race!

I liked running on the trails so much, I went to Killington to run the 25k there too.  It was a whole different beast to conquer, but I’m glad I did.  I found Vermont to be far more challenging and technical than Copper Mountain, but it taught me: I can do hard things.

Those were my only two races in July and August.  It’s crazy to think, it was the healthiest summer I’ve had but the least amount I’ve raced.  I don’t regret that, and I enjoyed both races.

I feel like my summer can be broken into two sections:

June versus July and August.

I started June off with a bang.  Together with my parents, we visited one of my brothers in Newport, Rhode Island while he was in school for the Navy.  Since he is stationed overseas in Spain, I haven’t seen him as much the last few years, so it was awesome.

I also ran the Newport 10 miler in about 64 minutes which I was pleased with.

The rest of June was relatively quiet, but I ran the Inaugural Bungalow Beach 5 miler in Atlantic City. I was able to hold it together and win, even with the final few strides on the sand.

Then July Came:

My husband wanted to pick up car parts in Connecticut.  I had nothing to do, so I decided to go with him. We made it a weekend adventure and ran (can you believe?) my only 5k road race of both June and July.  We also hiked in Connecticut too. On the way home, I hit my 200th diner.  Despite it not being great, 200 in 4 years is neat.  Will I make it to 300?  Who knows. Here is a recap of the best/worst in 200 so far.

The month of July itself, was actually quiet except for celebrating my 28th birthday at Copper Mountain 25k in Colorado.  I ran and tested myself with one of the hardest races I’ve done (I do think Killington is harder).

Finally August:

I thought August would be a quieter month but it wasn’t at all.  The first couple of weeks of August were.  Then I went to Killington, Vermont and ran the hardest race I’ve done.  Killington was special to me for many reasons.  The biggest was, I got to see two of my closest friends from college, my freshman year roommate, Kierstin, as well as someone who helped convince me to start running, Justin.

Running in Vermont taught me I could do long races where I’m on my feet over 3 hours. It was the longest time I’ve been on my feet as well as the hardest race I’ve done.

On Labor Day weekend, my husband and I decided to drive back to the Northeast.  I haven’t spent much time in New England until this summer!  We had planned to go to Boston, New Hampshire, and Maine. That was definitely overzealous for us looking back.  We are the type of couple not to have an itinerary and plan as we go (like we did when we went out west last year).  We decided midway through to skip Boston and save it for a trip in itself.

I ran the Boothbay Half Marathon in 1:29.50 which I’m proud of.  It was a hilly, hard, and hot day. I’m proud of how I ran with how difficult of conditions it was.

And now here we are!

Mid Septemeber and heading into the fall.  I believe fall will be just as great but in different ways.  I have no idea how long we will stay in New Jersey, and I want to make the best of everything while I’m here.  I’ve started increasing mileage and training again.  I do have a few races I’m sorting out, and once I figure that out, I’ll, share. For now, I’m heading to Dayton, Ohio this weekend for the Air Force half marathon again.

Questions for you:

How was your summer?

What is one spot you’ve wanted to go but never have? 

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Today is My Birthday

Today is My Birthday

As my unoriginal title indicates, today, July 12th, is my 28th birthday.  Some years I write X number of things I learned before age X.  Other years, I don’t even write a post about my birthday.  Some years I spend with family, some with my husband, friends, and others I’ve spent alone.  I haven’t learned a heck of a lot new since last July 12th, and there is no way I could write 28 things I’ve learned since 28.

Last year, I decided I wasn’t interested in material items or junk.  I stopped buying new clothing, and in 2018 my New Year’s Resolution is not to buy any new nonathletic apparel (I don’t go crazy on buying athletic apparel either).  After bills, I’ve chosen to spend my money on experiences rather than things.  Experiences like races, diners, and traveling to random places.  Things that I can look back on and think: dang that was fun.  I don’t need or want any useless junk.

As I reflect upon that, I’m also sitting on an airplane to Denver, Colorado.  I’m doing something out of my comfort zone, and maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’m going to run the Copper Mountain 25k.  My only goal is to finish.

I haven’t been secretly training for trail races, but after running the Xterra 10k a few months ago and having fun, trail no longer terrifies like they once did.  I’ve spent a lot of time this spring and summer hiking and it’s become just as fun to me as running. It will be my longest run in a long time, the highest altitude I’ve ever run, and maybe not my wisest idea.  As I mentioned on my blog, when the opportunity first presented itself a few weeks ago, I said no but thought: why not? I have nothing to prove, and it’s getting me out of my comfort zone.

I’m really looking forward to running this weekend.

A few highlights of adventures from age 27:

Visiting the Grand Canyon

grand canyon north rim

Our vacation last year that we booked two plane tickets to Denver and a rental car with no plans.  We ended up driving 2600 miles and seeing amazing places.

road trip through colorado

PRing at the Phoenix Half in February Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

10 Mile Hike through GrayBeard Trail (North Carolina)

Air Force Marathon (half for me) with my husband and in laws

Apparently, I decided to nap and close my eyes right there…

Private Flying over NYC

flying over nyc

Those are just a few of the many memories I have from age 27.  I can only hope 28 will be just as fun!

Questions for you:

When is your birthday? How did you celebrate last year?

Any last minute trail tips?

Why You Don’t See Many Negative Sponsored Posts

Why You Don’t See Many Negative Sponsored Posts

I’ll address the white elephant in the blogging room:

Sponsored posts.

As a blogger, there are many different ways to make money depending on your situation and wants.  This doesn’t include services like coaching or selling a product.  A few of those include sponsored posts, ads, campaigns, Instagram campaigns, affiliate links, and commissioned sales.  There are also Patreon pages which you can directly support or donate to podcasts or bloggers.

Why You Don't See Many Negative Sponsored Posts

The two I personally use are ads (you can usually see on the sidebar) and sponsored posts from brands.  The rest of the options aren’t for me, but they do work well for others. To add, if you start blogging to make money, you probably should choose a different career path.  I know plenty of people that make a full-time income from blogging (not selling a product, just themselves as a brand), but unless you are internet famous, you probably won’t make a ton.  Or you’ll work with a lot of brands all of the time.

Being internet famous is like having a lot of monopoly money and when everyone logs off or stops playing…what do you have?  A bunch of likes that don’t exist when you shut off social media…

Through blogging, I make enough money to cover the fees associated with having your own domain and to cover most of my race entries for the year.

Moving forward though, someone asked the other day why there aren’t many “negative sponsored posts.”

It would involve the following scenario:

Blogger and Company Talk and Agree on some sort of terms of an agreement (product, payment, whatever)

The company sends blogger thing to review (and maybe even pays the blogger for review)

Blogger bashes the company and says it’s garbage.

Therefore the company just sent and possibly paid someone for bad publicity.

The company might lose many potential customers because everything on the internet is true.  Even if that product might work for someone else.

I’ll tell you first, why you don’t see it here.

I only accept brands I’ve used for long periods of time and already like.  Some brands I’ve worked with before include Vital Proteins, Vitamin Shoppe, Runners World, even brands like Scott, and places for the military to get their hair cut like Great Clips.

I don’t try and set myself up for failure with a brand, or something I know won’t work. 

So now you must think, wow Hollie just has favorable luck with everything?

That is not the case!  There have been plenty of higher paying (for me anyway) campaigns I have turned down. While my blog does not garner the attention of $1000+ influencer “deals,” I do know, of course, they exist!

I look at every single offer that is given to me.  I’m not going to ever choose something I already know I won’t like…that’s dumb.  (just like I’m not going to go to a diner with 0 stars but 1000 yelp reviews…LOL).

Here are a Few Recent Examples of Things I Turned Down that Would Have Been Negative:

On several occasions, I’ve gotten requests to post already written blog posts.  Prewritten content isn’t a big deal, and I’ve been happy to post prewritten content if it makes sense.  I turned this particular post down because of the material.

The content was about losing weight.  While many people do need to lose weight and exercise, that isn’t that focus on my blog.  My blog isn’t about losing weight, and that isn’t the tone I want to set.  The company was going to pay me $200 to just copy and paste into my blog.  It was a lot but for me, wasn’t worth it.

A few months ago, I turned down a campaign for the promotion of an app having to do with babies.  I have no children, but because many of the readers do, the brand thought it was a good fit.  It didn’t make sense, and it makes more sense for someone who has children to blog about that!

The last and best example is recently I was sent free activewear as well as a monthly subscription to a brand (about $50 per month).  On the website, the workout and lounge gear looked nice and something I could use.

When I received the activewear, it wasn’t the style wasn’t for me. I emailed the brand my honest feedback and exactly what I planned to blog.

I actually didn’t workout in or wear the apparel at all.  In the email, I also said I wouldn’t be posting photos of me wearing the attire because I wasn’t my style nor the style I wanted to portray.  I was more than happy to send the clothing (with tags) back, and they could use it for someone who is a better fit for the style.  Instead of taking a few photos and making a few extra dollars, I sent the clothing back.  I don’t have any regrets about that.

My point is, that is why you won’t see too many negative sponsored posts.  For me personally, I don’t accept every single campaign.  I won’t promote anything I don’t like or use.  Do I have to absolutely LOVE something like a free haircut to the military on certain days?  No, but do I think it’s an awesome gesture, of course, I do.

I am fortunate that I don’t rely on blogging as my full-time income or job.  From this post, it sounds like I’m given dozens of opportunities every day, but I can assure you I don’t! Unless you are one of the top bloggers, blogging is not a luxurious job that generates an easy and high paying income.  I blog because I like to share my story and things I’ve learned along the way.   It’s nice to make money and cover the costs of blogging, so it remains a freeish hobby, but I cannot see myself pursuing trying to “grow” and making it fulltime.  (I appreciate those who have worked hard to do so though!)

I don’t have a question today, but more of opinions on topics like influencers sponsored posts and making money as a blogger. 

 

Four State Vacation

It’s taken over a month to finally recap my entire vacation.  I still have a few lingering diner reviews left, but with one phase of life over and the next moving forward, I figured it would be best to wrap finally wrap the trip up.

As I mentioned a month ago, my husband and I had no plans when we went out there.  We booked two plane tickets and a rental car.  We had no hotels booked, no plans of which towns and cities we would see, but figured we would wing it.  We didn’t imagine we would drive to four different states and put over 2600 miles on our car…but we did.

road trip through colorado

So where to begin?

We flew into Denver.

We stayed for a few days in Denver.  We explored the city a bit, and went for a few gorgeous runs.  We also got to see my good friend Kevin and his wife which I haen’t seen in a while.  

While in Denver, we drove up and went hiking at Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  We went to a few diners including Sams 3 which was on the Food Network as well as the brand new Snooze Cafe.

Next, we headed out West towards Utah.  My good friend Janae had said there were a fun 5k/13.1 and we thought…why not.  It’s only about 400 miles, right?  Plus, we would see what we would see.

Earlier in the year one of my closest friends, Angela, moved to Colorado (from South Jersey). The route to Utah went right through her town which we had been planning to do anyway.  We stayed the night at Angela and her husband’s house, went for a gorgeous run, and of course at her local diner: The New Castle Diner.

Then we continued towards Utah.  It was a scenic and beautiful drive.  Most of the time we didn’t have cell service which was actually nice.  No internet, blogging, or Facebooking.  Just the road and rocks on either side.

We got into Provo late that night, found a nice hotel near the race.  Since there was a half marathon, packet pickup was the night before at the mall.  We overheard some locals talking about the “lazy people” doing the 5k…YAY for being lazy.

haunted half 5k provo ut me running

The race itself was tough.  NJ is at sea level, Utah is 4000-5000 above (I can’t remember).  There was also a massive hill at the end of the race, and I finished in 19:40 dry heaving the whole way.  You can read more about the Haunted Half 5k here.

haunted half 5k provo ut me running

No, seriously it was painful

Janae, who just had her baby, finished and placed in her age group.  It was great to hang out, and the morning was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.   Another state I’ve raced in, not that I’m even sure how many that is.

After the race in Utah, we drove South.  We stayed the night, woke up the next morning and explored both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Hiking in Zion National Park

Both were beautiful, and we could have spent days, weeks, and probably months in either.  I hope one day to get back and spend more time and each.  Both have half and full marathons too, which would be fun to run if we trained appropriately (IE: at elevation).  Judging from the 5k, it might be awhile. We went to Meme’s cafe for lunch in Zion, which was an “interesting” experience.

After that, we stayed overnight and headed down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We were only a few hours away, and I’ve always wanted to see it.  A few hours away is a lot closer than NJ, so we decided to just drive down there.  It was absolutely breathtaking!

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We've always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon…so we did.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

After the Grand Canyon, we progressed east towards Colorado.  We wanted to make a stop at the Four Corners: where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.  It’s a bucket list item, just to say you did.  It wasn’t too crowded when we got there.  You can stand in all Four Corners or lay there…

For the next couple of days, we just enjoyed the drive, view, and hanging out.  We saw a lot of cute towns.  We drove through Uncompahgre National Forest and over a terrifying mountain pass in which it was snowing.  We decided to stop and take a photo at the top.  It was one of the most incredible views of the trip.

Afterwards, we headed to Tim’s relative’s house in Montrose, Colorado.  It was nice to see family, and they took us for a 10+ mile four wheeling expedition up a mountain.  I’ve never been four wheeling before, so it was a brand new but so much fun experience.  The mountain in the background is actually the mountain we drove over and took the photo (above).

After an enjoyable visit in Montrose, we headed back towards Denver.  We stopped in Colorado Springs for a couple of days.  Initially, we wanted to go walk around the Air Force Academy, but there were essential meetings, and we weren’t allowed on.  We should have started our trip that way!  We decided to hike the Seven Bridges Trail (yes, you cross 7 bridges) as well as the Grey Back Peak Trail.

We also stopped (of course) at the King Chef Diner which was featured on the Food Network.  If you’ve never been, you have to go.  It is definitely one of my favorite diners that I’ve been too, including in NJ!   There are two locations but we chose the 13 seat, small purple castle.

They are most known for their Burritos.  Even with running and hiking, I left full.

King Chef Diner Colorado Springs

Finally, we wrapped our way back to Denver, and it was time to go.  At the airport, I ended up getting food poisoning which I’m still dealing with but that is a blog post for another day.

In summary:

12 Days
4 states
Over 100 miles run
Highest elevation 11000
Lowest elevation 3200
Temperatures between 28-80 degrees
And 2600 miles driven (on the dot)

I had one of the best trips of my life, and it was nice to spend time with my husband before he deployed.  One day we want to do something similar again, but going North to Montana and that way.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been on a road trip?

What is your favorite vacation?

A Day in the Life on Global Running Day

I don’t typically blog “day in the life” posts, and actually, I haven’t been blogging much on Fridays either.  I run out of things to say by Friday, or I don’t feel like blogging.

I’m not sure how it happened, but Wednesday was one of the busiest, but most fun days I’ve had in awhile so I thought I would share.  It doesn’t hurt that it was Global Running Day either.

If you followed LOLZ blog last year, you might remember seeing one of my friends Montana.  Montana is a good friend, and I ran and raced with her several times.  Unfortunately, (but fortunately), a job took her to Rhode Island.

She was back in town for a couple of days, so we were able to start Global Running Day together with my longest run in a while (6 miles).  The run flew by, and it was one of the best I’ve had in a while.  As I continue running, I can’t say it feels amazing, but I feel mentally good about where I’m at right now.

After that I got ready to head up to North Jersey.  I like New Jersey for many reasons but since it’s a small state, driving “across the state”, isn’t a big deal.  When I lived in Texas, it was also 90 minutes to drive to a big city.

I met up with my friend Devon at the Urban Griddle in Newark for a date and what better place than a diner?  Devon is one of my good friends; I just wish we lived closer! She recently ran the Boston Marathon and PRed with a 3:06.

After a fun couple of hours, I made the trek back home.  As most people know, the New Jersey Turnpike is great…until it’s not.  The Delaware Memorial Bridge had a construction fire and they closed it completely down.  It’s the main arterty of East Coast travel.  They also completely shut down the turnpike at exit 4 (my exit).

This created a massive backup on both the turnpike and 295.  The Garden State is typically known for traffic, but it’s unusual for it to be on the turnpike on a weekday.

That was no big deal, except with every vehicle getting off and going through the toll at exit 4, it created a huge backup.  It took me over 90 minutes to go 3 miles.  Needless to say, I spent most of the time contemplating my escape route incase I had to use the bathroom.

After that, I stopped at home for enough time to eat and headed off to work.  As most people know, I work at a running store and you have to celebrate Global Running Day there right?

We had a big group run complete with raffles from various shoe companies and Lululemon.  We had a tremendous turnout with over 200+ people.  As much as I would love to have run with the group, it’s important for me to take things at my pace right now.  (Plus I ran with Montana and I didn’t need a bonus run).

Finally, I got back home at 9 and by that time, I was ready to go to bed.  (Not that that is any different than any other day).  In all, it was a great and wonderful day.  I caught up with so many friends and it made me appreciate the sport even more than I do now.

Questions for you:

How did you spend Global Running Day? 

Do you like to stay busy or prefer relaxing time? 

Visiting New York City

After my husband came home, we decided to go visit New York City.  Even though we live approximately 90 miles away, we rarely go.  Between, traffic, tolls, and parking it’s not the easiest place to get too.

So last week, we decided to take the train from Trenton.  It was an easy process, and we made it to Penn Station and into Manhatten.  We ended up staying on 57th street close to Central Park, Broad Way and Times Square. We had booked the hotel before I decided to stop running, so we had planned to run in Central Park.  One day we will (that isn’t the New York City Marathon!)

While in NYC, we didn’t do a heck of a lot.  Both my husband and I are relaxed and we like to take trips with not a lot of plans.  We figure it out as we go along.  For the most part, we walked around New York just looking at sights.  We did go see some of the big things like the Empire State Building and Times Square.  I’ve been before, but it’s always fun to see again! empire state building

We got close to the Empire State Building but opted not to go in.  empire state building

Times Square

One thing we both wanted to do is get a New York Bagel.  As someone who went to college in New York (way upstate at SUNY Potsdam), we got used to good NY bagels.  NJ just doesn’t compare.

My favorite is a Nova Lox.   It was a good bagel (not that I’m an expert) and I have no complaints. 

The one thing we did do was go see a Broadway.  We booked tickets to “Waitress” starring Sara Bareilles.  I like Sara Bareilles as a songwriter, and the Broadway was about a diner waitress…how could we go wrong?  It was excellent, and I highly recommend it if you’re ever up that way.

Before leaving, we also checked out Ellen’s Stardust Diner near Broadway.  The Diner is unique in that the servers are always performing.  You get a meal and a show.  You’ll see your server perform for the entire restaurant.

ellens stardust diner me

We had a great weekend away.  It’s funny, as I mentioned, New York is not a far commute for us, but we never go!  We will definitely go back sooner rather than later.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to New York City?

Where was the last weekend trip you took? 

Life in Alabama

As most people know, I lived in Montgomery for just over 5 weeks.  It wasn’t long, and it went by quickly.  While I missed friends back in New Jersey, I had an enjoyable time in Alabama.

alabama sunset

Alabama Sunset

I kept busy, so I wasn’t doing “tourist” stuff every single day.  Both my husband and I were able to get out, and we visited a few different cities, including Birmingham, Atlanta, and Pensacola.

John's City Diner Birmingham Fancy

Even though we were busy, we managed to travel on the weekends and went to quite a few places.  We wanted to make the best of the month and who knows when (or if) we will be back.

Here are a few highlights of what we did do.

We visited the Wright Brothers replica.  There is a full-scale replica of the first plane the Wright Brothers flew right off the highway.

It was great to see that as well as all of the planes on display at the Maxwell Air Force Base.  planes montgomery

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago, we relaxed and hung out with personal friend Laura.  Laura has been a friend of mine for years, and it was so great to see her again.

laura-s-and-i

In Pensacola, we chose to visit the Naval Aviation Museum.  Can you tell we can never get away from planes?  My husband was more fascinated with the engines of planes.

naval aviation museum pensacola

One of my favorite parts we saw were visiting the Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama. It’s a large cave with a lot of different rock formations.  Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

The opening of the cave measures of 25 feet high and 126 feet wide!

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

There are some of the most beautiful formations ever created including one of the biggest stalagmites in the world.

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

Finally, we also made a quick stop to the wildlife preserve: Tigers for Tomorrow in Dekalb, Alabama.  It’s a nonprofit wildlife preserve which cares for over 160 rare and exotic animals.  Many people don’t know, but back through high school, I had an interest in wildlife conservation and looked at colleges focusing on zoology.  My interests changed, but it’s still important to me. Tigers for Tomorrow Dekalb Alabama

The trip was no vacation but it was a breath of fresh air from New Jersey.  We saw new places and tried new things. Of course, we ran races too:

Races Run While South:
MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40) (Birmingham)
Polar Bear 5k (18:42) (Atlanta)
Pensacola Double Bridge Run (58:41) (Florida)
Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01) and my husband’s marathon recap (Birmingham)

In summary, it was a great few weeks, and it was fun to see a different part of the country.

Questions for you:
Have you ever lived somewhere temporarily? 
Have you been to Alabama before?

 

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