A Recap of 2016 LOLZ Blogging

I’ve been blogging since 2011, and it’s changed a lot.  When I first started blogging, I used to pretty much be able to tell you every running blogger out there.  That’s because there weren’t that many.
Thinking out loud, now with the internet explosion, anyone, and everyone blogs.  That’s not a bad thing, but many blogs get lost in the sea.  Plus with so many different social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, it’s easy to just microblog from those too.

So in 2016 what went on with LOLZ blogging?

Believe it or not, I blogged less in 2016. For the most part, I stopped blogging about my personal life. Maybe I grew up, or maybe I finally realized no one cared what my favorite color was.

I kept my blog focused on running, more gear related posts and of course diners.  Occasionally, I blogged about life too, but it was mostly running related.  It’s not that I don’t have a personal life, but due to my husband’s job, there are a lot of things I can’t share on the internet.  My life does not revolve around running but my running blog pretty much does…

Plus many of my friends don’t run and don’t use a lot of social media, it’s not appropriate for me to post about them via the blog and to be honest, half the time my life isn’t terribly thrilling.  I run, work and come home.

So what happened in the world of LOLZ blogging this year?

Since it’s my primary focus, I recapped running here.

In Actual Blogging:

Number of posts: 276

Most Viewed Posts: 
Asics FuzeX
Losing Toenails: A Runners Rite of Passage? (From 2015)
Dropping 9 minutes from my Half Marathon Time

Top Referrers (Where did people come from?)

Random places on the internet
Twitter
Facebook

blogging referers

Looking Back:

Honestly, I love blogging, and I enjoy it.  I put a lot of time and effort into blogging, and I plan to still keep doing it.  It’s not my full-time job, and I doubt it will ever be.  Due to the nature of social media and how much self-promotion you must do now, it’s very hard for anyone to make a full-time income from blogging.

I promote products that I like and have used.  Personally,  I cannot imagine promoting brands and companies I cannot foster relationships with. Would I like to make more money blogging?  Sure but who wouldn’t…There is a lot of balance with that.

I would be lying if I didn’t say several brands lost my respect as a customer based on bloggers they chose to represent them.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your mindset, there are hundreds if not thousands of bloggers now.  The internet is saturated with bloggers vying to work with brands.

But that is the nature of blogging!  At the end of the day, I’m fortunate enough to shut my computer down and not worry about followers, blogging or the internet because it’s not my full-time job.  I respect people who want to do that, but that is not the lifestyle or career for me.

In 2016, my blog posts, stats, and views went down, and I’m fine with that. In 2017, I predict as a platform blogging will continue to decrease.



blogging stats

Many bloggers will go the route of microblogging on social media platforms versus lengthy blog posts.  I won’t be excluded and I’ll be both amazed and proud of myself if I reach 276 blog posts next year too.

I always find it fascinating to see where people are from so here are some of the top countries!

blogging info

Questions for you:
How has your blog evolved and changed this year?  
What is your favorite social media platform? 

Vacationing to Dallas

Last week I went to Dallas, Texas.  The race was less than 90 minutes, but we did plenty of other things that weren’t racing too. Together with my husband as well as my inlaws, we discovered several fun and exciting things to do.

So first, Why Dallas?

The December time frame (weather wise) is a typically good in Texas.  As long-term readers know, I lived in Texas for a while. Although last week was much colder than anticipated New Jersey received it’s first snowfall, so it’s hard to complain.

Second, both my husband and I like BMWs.  He drives a 1980s BMW, while I drive a 3 series.  Since this is BMWs first title-US race, it seemed like an awesome idea to run.  The weather, timing, and title sponsor all suited us!

So with that, we arrived the Friday before the race.  Here are some of the things we did and ate.  All of which I would recommend.

We stayed in the Magnolia hotel which was beautiful and close to the race start.  We didn’t mean to find a hotel within walking distance but lady luck was on our side (this has never happened and probably never will again).

magnolia hotel view

Some of my Favorite Food:

Whiskey Cake at the Whiskey Cake

I heard this was one of the best cakes in all of Texas! It’s a rich cake made with Whiskey.  The cake itself did not disappoint and the homemade whipped cream on top was perfect. If you’re looking for a nice place to hang out, grab a drink or meal Whiskey Cake is delicious.

whiskey cake plano

 

Campisi:

If you are ever in Dallas for a race or just like Italian, Campisi is great.  They were initially opened in 1946.  For a business to still be here, means they are doing something right.  It was exactly what I wanted before a race.

What we Did:

Expo:

The BMW Dallas Marathon expo was a lot of fun.  There were plenty of activities to do including test driving an I3.  Of course, I wish they let you test drive an I8 but apparently they don’t put 100k+ cars out for testing.  I don’t get into real “fancy” cars but this would be my dream car if I had one..

BMW i8 half marathon dallas

My father in law, myself and Tim all signed the runner wall and got a nice photo next to it.

signing bmw dallas wall

img_2312

And we wouldn’t be there without my mother in law, Greta, so we needed a photo with her too. bmw dallas half marathon

Museums

I hadn’t thought about it, but I didn’t realize JFK had been assassinated in Dallas.  We walked though the Sixth Floor Museum which was a great (but lengthy) museum.  They give you a headset, and you feel like you are there.

Hiking:

hiking dallas texas

As most people know, my husband and I do enjoy our fair share of hikes.  We found a short Mountain Bike area to hike around.  All of a sudden, we found ourselves surrounded by various bike pieces and road signs in trees.  It was the most random and bizarre part of the trip.

hiking dallas texas

And of course, plenty of relaxation!  The problem with going to a destination race is you want to explore and “do everything, ” but before the race, you need to rest your legs and after a race you just want to nap.  We had a great time doing a little bit of everything.

Dallas is a fun city, nd I would love to go back sometime.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to Dallas?

What is something fun to do in your hometown?

Mark Twain Diner

A couple of weeks ago, I met my friend Devon at the Mark Twain Diner.  I had heard it was a good diner and I was looking forward to trying it out.  After taking the Garden State Parkway with minimal traffic, we arrived at 5:30.  The diner was crowded, but there was still plenty of spots available.

Atmosphere: A
The Mark Twain Diner is open, and there are several different rooms including an entire bar and lounge area.  It’s much bigger than it looks from the outside.  The outside is a typical building.  It’s not a “retro metallic style” diner, but it was clean.

Mark Twain Diner

Service: A
The waiter was funny and refilled everything we needed.  Occasionally the manager jumped in and helped too.  It was evident the staff worked well together, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Coffee: A
The coffee was good.  They brewed a hot pot, and I don’t have any complaints.  It was fresh.  It always cracks me up when they serve the whipped cream on the side, but I’ve seen that a couple of times at various diners.  I always appreciate logo coffee mugs too.

Mark Twain Diner

Food: B
There are plenty of options at the Mark Twain Diner.  It’s typical of what you see at a big menu diner.  There were about eight pages of menu items.  I hadn’t had a salad in over a week, so both Devon and I got matching salads.  Hashtag twinning?

Since the salad came with soup, I ordered for the Manhatten Clam Chowder.  I haven’t had red clam chowder in a while.  There was a lot of clam meat which is rare (often it feels like there is more potato than clam).  There was a little kick to it too.  It was some of the better clam chowders I’ve had.

Mark Twain Diner

The Greek salad came with lots of greens, tomatoes, anchovies, olives and feta.  It didn’t come with any pita bread which is unusual for a Greek salad.  Entrée salads should always come with bread.  Oh well, I ordered a side of pita as well as salmon which was good.  In all, the food was good.  I’m a strong believer entree salads should have both a meat and bread so it is always disappointing when they don’t.

Spinning Wheel Diner
Cost; $$

For my coffee and salad, the cost was $22.  It’s one of the pricer meals, and the salad wasn’t as big as similar salads that have cost that much.  It was decent quality food, so it wasn’t a huge turnoff.

Would I come back/Summary:
I enjoyed the Mark Twain Diner, and it was one of the better diners I’ve been too.  While it was pricy, the food and service were high quality.  It isn’t a diner I would make a special trip too, but it’s not bad either.  I had such a great time with Devon which is all that matters anyways!

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Cost; $10-25
Overall: B

 
Questions for you:
Have you had Manhatten Clam Chowder?
Do you like anchovies?

 

Readington Diner

Readington Diner

Recently I stopped at the Readington Diner in Readington, New Jersey.  I’m not sure how I stumbled across the diner but I was in the area, and it sounded pretty good.

Atmosphere: B
The atmosphere of the Readington Diner is unique.  The outside has a little mascot dude.  I’m not entirely sure what he is, but he plastered around everywhere including on the coffee mugs.

Readington Diner

The inside is definitely outdated and not in a good way.  They have wooden paneling that is clearly old, well worn and needs to be repainted.  There is a lot of random things strung all over the walls including coffee paintings, the mascot man and garden butterflies all over.  It was clean, but it could definitely use a makeover.  I liked that they included the mascot around, but the other things were random at best.

Coffee: A
The coffee was the Lacas brew from Pennsauken.  I’ve talked a little bit before about it, but it’s a local brew in New Jersey as well as one of my favorites.  The waitress put the whipped cream on perfectly.  The coffee was great.

Readington Diner

Service: A
The waitress was hilarious.  Anyone with a sense of humor is a winner in my book (See FueledbyLOLZ name).  She brought out plenty of refills and everything we needed.  She was great.

Food: B
I was in a Greek mood, so I ordered the bruschetta/hummus appetizer.  It came with a lot of pita bread circled around the bruschetta and hummus.  The presentation, as well as the actual appetizer, was delicious.  It was more pita bread than I was expecting but pita bread is my favorite.  I’m in the minority, but I like a big portion size.

Readington Diner

I ordered the Gyro salad from the specials menu.  Honestly, it was like gyro and a little bit of salad.  There was more gyro meat than a typical meal, let alone a salad.  It was great, just oddly proportioned  The actual lettuce was lackluster, and I wish there had been more actual “green.”  The rest of the toppings including olives, onions and feta were a great compliment.

Readington Diner gyro salad

Cost: $
For the coffee, appetizer and gyro special the cost was $21.  It wasn’t a bad price considering how much gyro meat I received.

Overall thoughts/would I come back?
I didn’t hate the Readington Diner, but there are others I would prefer more.  It’s a good stop, but I don’t have anything interesting or unique to report.  It’s some of the better coffee I’ve had, though.

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

Questions for you:
What’s the most unique restaurant mascot you’ve seen?
Have you tried gyro meat before? Do you like it?

Training: Marathons and Dragons

Last week was an interesting week for me.  As many people know, I’m entertaining the idea of a winter marathon.  I haven’t run a marathon since the Phoenix Full in February of 2015, and I’ve only run full marathons.  Neither marathon has been great or made me love the distance. I’m also not entirely sure I’m ready, but I’m putting in a few longer runs in the next two weeks to see how I feel.img_1686

Putting in long runs means extra rest days, and for the next couple of weeks, I’ll probably run five days versus 6.

Monday: Easy Run  
Tuesday: OFF PT/ART
Wednesday: Long Run (17.75 miles)  
Thursday: OFF PT/ART
Friday: Easy Run with a friend  
Saturday: Dragon Run 5k (18:58)  
Sunday: Jakes Place 5k (2.8 miles) 17:11  
 

I never have much to say about my easy runs.  I think that’s natural.  I had a great time running with a friend on Friday though!Thoughts:

Long Run:

The only goal of this run was to finish injury free.  I had no time or pace goal, and in fact, it was my longest run in almost 18 months.  Nothing hurt or ached during the run, and I finished feeling satisfied.  I’m not confident in running any further right now, but I’m sure I’ll build confidence by running longer again.

Dragon Run 5k (18:58)

A few kids came into work discussing the race and told me last week to do it. Since it was a 5-minute drive to work afterwords, I had too.  Long story short, my legs were sore after my 17+ miler, but they didn’t feel terrible.  I was outkicked by five boys in the final .05 (who probably didn’t want to get chicked), and they pulled me right under 19.

Jakes Play 5k (2.8 miles) 17:11

This was supposed to be an actual 5k, but it wasn’t.  I would love to tell you I randomly PRed by a minute but the course was about .25-.3 short.  I wasn’t in the mood to run, but two of my very good friends were running so I decided to go anyways.  Plus, the race fundraised for “Jakes Place,” a local playground/park for special needs children.  I have used that bathroom several times on runs, and I wanted to support the cause.

I ran the first mile in 6:16 and the second in 5:58.  My average pace for the entire race was 6:06 so my guess is I would have run between 19-19:10 for a full 5k.  While I’m disappointed in the race, it happens.  I race so many 5ks, some being long (like last week), some being short so it all balances out.

Thoughts:  

Training wise, my week was great.  As I mentioned, I’m at a cross roads of deciding what I want to do.  Train for a marathon?  Continue working on speed?   The next two weeks will definitely play a decision in that.

This was definitely a defining week for me.  While I’m still not 100% sure about marathoning again, I am entertaining the idea more than I have in a very long time.  My goal for my third marathon would be too make it to the start and finish line healthy.  I’m still not entirely comfortable with the distance, and I don’t think adding a time goal would be appropriate.  My goal for the marathon would be to both start and finish injury free.

Questions for you:

Do you consider yourself to have a good finish line kick?

Do you love or hate the marathon?  Or are you indifferent?

Hiking Bear Mountain Part 2

As I mentioned last week, my husband and I have been enjoying hiking.  After getting lost last week and spending several hours on the trails, we wanted to go back, retrace our steps and conquer the trails.  There are hundreds of miles of trails at Bear Mountain, so it’s hard to run out of options.

The Appalachian Trail goes from Maine to Georgia...so plenty of Hiking
The Appalachian Trail goes from Maine to Georgia…so plenty of Hiking

Right now, I enjoy hiking because I’m able to be active without the worry of being injured.  Hiking doesn’t use the same muscles as running, and I’m able to hike completely injury free and “not worry about it”.   Even though my running is currently injury free, I still worry. During my injury, I’ve discovered a new and exciting hobby to be active.  Plus, it allows me to see various local areas from a whole new view (and of course new diners too).

We started off near the lake and hiked upwards.  The first 2 miles were nearly straight uphill to get to the top of Bear Mountain.  Fitbit told I climbed 100+ flights of stairs and two days later, I’m extremely sore.

At the bottom of the mountain
At the bottom of the mountain

We made it to the top and were able to see several different views including the lake we started.  It’s hard to believe how high we climbed.

bear mountain hiking 2

After that, we worked our way in a large loop around the mountain and to the opposite side.  We were able to see a faint view of NYC about 50ish miles away.  If you look close towards the center, you can see the New York City skyline about 50 miles away.

bear mountain hiking 1

Of course, we had to take a selfie as well.

hiking bear mountain

Finally about four hours later, we got back to the bottom of the mountain.  To be honest, I was more sore and tired than any run I’ve ever done. Hiking is a lot of fun and a serious workout. bear mountain hik

Other Hiking Posts:
Getting Lost at Bear Mountain
Hiking Hemlock Falls
Hiking the Hollywood Sign

Question for you:
What is the most tiring workout you’ve ever done?
For me, I believe it’s cycling or hiking.

Hiking at Bear Mountain Park

Last week, my husband and I went hiking. I’m new to hiking, but as I mentioned in a previous post, we want to see plenty of local places while we still live in New Jersey.  We are both enjoying it, and it’s been a fun weekend hobby instead of traveling to road races.  To be honest, hiking is an incredibly intense workout and it tires me out more than running.

For our next adventure, we drove 2 hours north into New York State to Bear Mountain State Park.  Yes, Rockland County…no not “Upstate, NY”.  As someone who went to school in Potsdam, NY, 30 miles north of New York City is not upstate.

Bear Mountain is about 40 miles north of New York City.  The park itself has  a lot to do including a lake for swimming, trails, places to picnic and even a zoo.  There are plenty of moderate trails to hike too.  When we went, it was a beautiful day which meant there was no parking at all.  Most people were at the lake beach, in fact, even though hundreds of parking spots were filled, we only saw two other parties during our entire hike.

There are plenty of trails including moderate trails as well as more leisurely and historic trails.  We started with the leisurely trails which included a lot of history stops.

Bear Mountain Hiking

Bear Mountain Hiking

Bear Mountain Hiking
The actual barn

After about a mile we went along the yellow trail and left the historic area.  The trails became much more intense and there were some points we were almost rock climbing.  Considering I’m clumsy, perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. Everything was fine, though and even my ankle felt okay.

Bear Mountain Hiking

It was almost shocking how quiet the trails were because of how busy the lake was.  While I was taking in the atmosphere, Tarzan appeared…just kidding.

Bear Mountain Hiking

After about 3 miles and an hour and a half, we made it to the top.  We could see New York State as well as New Jersey.  Talk about a view; it was one of the most incredible views on the East Coast I’ve seen.

Bear Mountain Hiking

After hanging out at the top for a bit, we decided to head back.  Despite having a map, we got lost. There is another red trail we ended up connecting too and it caused us to hike across the entire park.  bear mountain state park

Our hike was only planned to be 4 miles, but it was 6 for us.  It wasn’t a big deal except I was starving.  Luckily I packed a giant red velvet diner cookie from lunch.

The diner cookie was the real MVP of the hike.

Bear Mountain Hiking

We stopped along the way taking photos of random spots too.  Like when I nailed yoga on a tree…(just kidding)

nature yoga meme

It was a great hike and after finally getting back to the car, I was beyond exhausting.  I felt like I had run a marathon, but views were worth it. Addig the extra 2 miles was definitely exhausting.

bear mountain state park tim and i

At the end of the day, we ended up hiking a 1000+ elevation gain (which is a lot for me). It was a great hike and we are looking forward to going back.

elevation bear mountain

Other hiking related posts:
Hiking Hemlock Falls
Hiking the Hollywood Sign

Questions for you:
Have you ever been hiking?  Have you gotten lost?
Would you rather go hiking or into the mountains?