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Hiking Parker Loop at High Point State Park

Hiking Parker Loop at High Point State Park

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I woke up early and drove up to Northwest NJ for an all-day hike. We ultimately hiked 13.4 miles, and it took us about 6 hours.

We’ve wanted to get to High Point State Park for a while. It’s just over 2 hours away and the highest point of elevation in NJ. The Parker Loop Trail was about 15 miles long, but there were a lot of spots, you could quickly go off trail, or get lost. If we did it again, we would follow the blue path which ultimately takes you about 15 miles but is much easier to follow.

The trail itself is moderate. It was only difficult for a couple of climbs and also due to the length. It had everything from climbing, to scrambles, to stream crossings, and walking along dried up water beds.

It started off easy and flat. We wandered through the trail for a couple of miles before hitting a stream.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

I’ve never crossed a stream before, so it was terrifying. What if I fell in? My husband just went across like no big deal.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

After the major stream crossing, we followed the trail for several more miles. There are spots that it’s easy to get lost because the trail isn’t the best marked. We added a few sections and had to double back. Ultimately, we would have followed the blue path which does about the same thing but is easier to follow.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

We got to a beautiful campground and lake around mile 6. You can rent cabins and hang out there; it looks like a beautiful and peaceful spot to relax.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

As we kept going, we noticed how many large trees were down. New Jersey has had a lot of storms recently, so I have to wonder if it’s from that, but we noticed dozens, maybe even 100.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Around mile 9, comes the longest and steepest climb which takes you to the top. The view is one of my favorites, and if you look, you can see PA, NY, and NJ. (The Northern NJ tri-state).

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Finally, we headed back. Since we had gotten lost a few times and doubled back, we had no idea how long the trail would be for us. We ultimately did 13.4 miles.  It was a lot of fun, and we are looking forward to doing a few more all day hikes before it gets too hot.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

You Can See More Hikes Here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever gotten lost?

During one of our first hikes, we got completely lost at Bear Mountain and ended up taking an Uber back. Thank goodness there was one. We learned a lot from that, and how to be much safer hikers.

What is the longest hike you’ve done?

 

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Aftershokz Headphone Review

Aftershokz Headphone Review

Many people have asked to start including product reviews as well as shoe reviews on my blog. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t change shoes every single week so a new shoe review won’t happen.

I’ve reviewed a few other running brand gear including CEP Compression as well as the Coros GPS Watch.

Aftershokz Headphone review

Do you run with music?

This is a question I get frequently. During easy runs, I do. During workouts and races, I don’t. I don’t typically listen to podcasts when I run and usually keep podcasts on in the background when I’m working or cleaning my house (hey, we all need motivation right?).

I should preface this review with: for years, I used the standard iPhone headphones and didn’t have an issue. I could buy dollar store headphones, and they would work.

The primary issue, for me, was safety and hearing things around me. With standards headphones, I always kept the music low to hear around me.

What makes Aftershokz different?

By now, you’ve heard of Aftershokz on the internet. We sell them at the running store I work at as well, the brand has gotten big!

Aftershokz sits in front of your ear so you can still hear around you. Aftershokz sends sound waves through your cheekbones, leaving your ears open so you can hear what is going on around you. I’ve run countless miles with them, and I can hear everything while also listening to music.

Most headphone companies want to promote noise isolation and cancellation, AfterShokz has gone against the grain with the open ear design. Not having something covering your ears allows you to be more alert and have situational awareness during your workout.

The Pros:

  • The only headphone design that allows you to hear your surroundings.
  • Durable (they are sweatproof and I’ve run in the rain several times and been fine).
  • Light: They aren’t bulky and don’t bounce around.
  • Bluetooth and no cord

The Cons:

  • They aren’t going to be as loud as other headphone brands that sit directly on your ear.  They don’t cancel outside noise, but that is the point.

ETA: Originally, I stated that you can’t change music/volume directly on the headphone. You, in fact, can and it’s done with the button on the side!  How I missed that, I don’t know!

Bone Conduction? What does that mean?

As you play music or sound, the pads vibrate. Instead of sending noise through the air and into your eardrum, it diverts it through your bones.

With bone conduction, there is a difference in the sound between over the ear headphones. I’ve always found the volume to be fine with the Aftershokz and bone conduction. I don’t know if they are the right headphone for a more noisy situation like crowded gym but for running, they are great.

The Models:

The Trekz Titanium:

Aftershokz Headphone review

The Trekz Titanium was the original version and retails at $99.99. It’s the first, the original, and a great product.  It comes in brighter and more bold colors. If bright colored headphones are for you, this is your product.

  • The Aftershokz Titanium has Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear outside sounds.
  • Light, flexible and portable.
  • The OpenFit™ design allows you to hear outside noise while still enjoying music.
  • Wireless Bluetooth
  • It’s certified to keep out sweat, dust, and moisture, from workouts to wicked weather
  • Six hours of sound per full charge
  • Hassle-free 2-year warranty

The Aftershokz Trekz Air: 

Aftershokz Headphone review

The Trekz Air is the second generation and retails at $149.99. It all has all of the features of the Titanium but with a few more.  The colors are much more toned down as well. The Trekz Air has a little better sound quality and volume. The significant updates come with the headphone piece wrapping around your head is much lighter and slimmer.

The Aftershokz Trekz Air version is also about 20% lighter. The final difference is the microphone quality is better for phone calls. I don’t call people while working out (I’m not that coordinated) but several people do.  If that is something that interests you, the Trekz Air might be a better option.

Aftershokz is an excellent product and even better company, possibly why they’ve exploded on social media and in running specialty.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.

Questions for you:

What kind of headphones do you use?

Do you use music when you run?

Training: Swimming and 10 Milers

Training: Swimming and 10 Milers

I thought I would increase mileage this week, but that didn’t quite happen with running. It did with swimming! Anyway, after Atlantic City, I took a week off from running.  It was good for me, and I’ve started getting back into swimming.

Week 1: 2 miles

Week 2: Training: Swimming and Running

Week 3: <Here>

Monday: Run 60 minutes/Swim 2000 meters
Tuesday: Run 60 minutes/Swim 2000 meters
Wednesday: Swim 3000 meters
Thursday: Run 60 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Run 60 minutes
Sunday: Broad Street 10 Miler (1:07.35)

Thoughts:

This is the most out of shape I’ve been for Broad Street in a few years, and that’s okay. I’m happy to run.  Moving into the summer, I plan to race much more frequently. I’m still going to swim, and my weekly mileage might be lower, but the cross training has been a nice change of pace.  There isn’t much to say about running this week, just that I did it and it was easy.

Swimming:

My first two swims were 2000 meters of straight swimming. On Wednesday, I decided to swim 2X1500 (28:22, 28:21), just to increase mileage and I felt decent.

 

Broad Street 10 Miler: 1:07.35

This was my slowest Broad Street in the five years I’ve run, but I was happy to run. It was pouring rain, and I’ve been the least trained I’ve ever been going into the race. Usually Broad Street happens at the end of a training cycle. I’ve run between 1:01-1:05 in all weather conditions. This time it happened after a low mileage a few weeks and time off. It was pouring rain the entire race, but I had an enjoyable time. My splits were between 6:40-6:55 the entire time and I probably could have kept that pace and run a 1:28ish half marathon which is motivating because it’s slightly faster than what I’ve been running.

Posts from the Week:

April Training

Altra Escalante 1.5 Shoe Review

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.

Questions for you:

Are you training for anything?

What was your best workout last week?

April Training

April Training

April was April.

I didn’t plan to take an entire week off from running, but then it happened.

I’ve talked to many people about it but running this Spring didn’t come together for me. I never got anywhere close to my PRs, and my training was inconsistent.  I still ran and consistently ran 1:30 half marathons from Carlsbad, to Shamrock, to Atlantic City.

I can look back and see why: I was mentally tired, plus I wasn’t doing all of the little things to gain fitness. Truthfully I felt like I didn’t have a goal except “get faster.” Well, that never happened, and when I crossed the Atlantic City finish line, I knew I needed a change. So I took a week off from running and refound the pool.

There are maybe two people that have been reading my blog since it’s birth in 2010 when I still swam. In fact, the original name for this blog was LOLZthatswim then LOLZthatswim(andrun) and now just FueledbyLOLZ.

The first LOLZ header in 2010.

Anyway, The later half of April was precisely what I needed: a change. I started getting into the pool and swimming. It isn’t tough to compare myself to my previous self. I used to compete in the mile for swimming, and now when I swim a mile in 28 minutes, I feel like I’m “crushing it.” The best example of that is thinking that you once ran a 5k in 18 minutes, but now you run it in 28 minutes.  There is nothing wrong with either, but it’s just different from what you’re used too.

That’s the difference. Swimming is so new again because I’ve taken a decade off. When I swim competitively, we didn’t use GPS watches to track laps; it was all in your mind!

And no, I have no interest in doing a tri. I don’t enjoy cycling.

Miles Run: 150ish 

Range of Pace: 6:06-10:40-untimed

Rest Days: 10 (does not include days I “just” swam). 

Swimming Days: 6 (12,000 meters total)

Next Month:

As I type this up on May 1st, I feel a strange feeling of wanting to run and train again. I haven’t felt that since NYCM. I’m putting together a racing schedule, but I want to run a lot of races and race my way back into fitness. That is what ultimately led me to my 5k PR. I just kept racing and slowly layered speed workouts on top of each other. I may not reach that fitness again, but I do want to try.

I’m also traveling a lot next month for weddings and to see my family. It’s going to be a hectic month on all fronts.

Posts from the Month:

Shoes:

Hoka One One Speedgoat Midi Shoe Review

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro

Altra Escalante 1.5 Shoe Review

Running:

The Difference Between Runners and Non-Runners

Hiking:

Hiking Watchung Reservation

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.

Questions for you:

How was your April?

What is one goal you have for May?

 

Altra Escalante 1.5 Shoe Review

Altra Escalante 1.5 Shoe Review

One of the most popular shoes from Altra has become the Altra Escalante. If you are looking to try Altra and don’t know where to start, the Escalante is usually a good first step.

Altra is well known for their zero drop. I wrote about zero drop in the newsletter a few weeks ago.

Altra Escalante Shoe Review

Upper:

The Altra Escalante 1.5 has a very breathable upper. Altra is well known for a wide toe box, and there is plenty of space if you have bunions or a wider forefront. Altra mentions their shoes are “foot shaped,” but they aren’t wide.  I met the founder, Golden, at the Runners World Festival a few years ago, and Altra is adamant about their shoes being “foot shaped” and not wide.

One thing to make note is while any Altra shoe has a wider toe box, many brands come in wide, and other brands create a wider shoe. So yes, the regular width of Altra is relatively wide, it’s not the widest thing out there (and doesn’t come in wide). I wear anywhere from 10-11 wide and found the men’s size 9 to be the best fit for my feet.  Hopefully that makes sense: basically, Altra has a wider toe box than many brands, but it isn’t the widest shoe out there.

The upper is entirely knit and completely seamless, and as such, it feels more like a thick sock than a shoe.  There isn’t much structure to the shoe.

Altra Escalante Shoe Review

Ride:

If you like to feel the ground when you run, the Escalante is a great option. It’s light, but responsive. For me, it has a place as a workout or “faster” shoe. I wouldn’t personally do higher mileage or easy runs in it.

With a zero drop, you’ll have the same amount of cushion in the front and back. It will take some time to get used too. Like transitioning into racing flats, your calves might be sore.

Conclusion:

I like the Altra Escalante for shorter and speed workouts. It’s too lightweight for me to get away for training. I like how seamless the upper is and the amount of extra room my foot has. In all, I will keep using the shoe for workouts and speed work. If you are looking to try a zero drop shoe and don’t know where to start the Altra Escalante is a good option.

Altra Escalante Shoe Review

Current Shoe Rotation:

Easy Runs: Brooks Glycerin 17, New Balance 1080, Hoka Mach 2

Speed Work: Reebok Float ride Runfast Pro, Nike Fly

Long Runs: Hoka Cavu 2

Races: Nike Fly, Reebok Floatride

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Have you ever tried a zero drop shoe?

What is your current favorite shoe? 

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