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? 


Hiking Shark River Park

Hiking Shark River Park

Last week I decided to stop at Shark River Park in Neptune, NJ.  Shark River Park was established in 1960.  It’s actually the oldest Monmouth County Park. It’s just under 1000 acres and located between Neptune and Wall.  There is plenty to do at Shark River Park including, fishing, hiking, and it even hosts cross country races.

It has about 9 miles of trails.  I had planned to just check it out and walk about a mile or 20 minutes.  Even though I brought both a hard copy of a map and a trail app, I ended up getting lost and walking around 5 miles.  Since it was my day off and I had nowhere to be, it wasn’t a big deal, but I was glad I brought water out of my car as well.

Here are a few of the trails I covered.  I didn’t use a Garmin, so I can’t tell you how much of each trail I covered.  I do know I know I covered the entire Pine Hill trail since it was a loop.

Shark river park monmouth nj

Ceder Loop Starts at the center of the loop.

Shark river park monmouth nj

There is a “Fitness trail” which is flat and would be great for running.  It has 20 stations with strength workouts.  You know…workouts I always say I’ll do with running and don’t.

Shark river park monmouth nj

The Hidden Creek trail is about 2 miles long and connects to the Pine Hills Trail.  I only now I was on this one because I did cover Pine Hills!

Shark river park monmouth nj

Finally, the Pine Hills Trail is close to the Garden State Parkway and goes up a few small inclines.  It’s nothing unmanageable.

Shark river park monmouth nj

In all, despite getting lost, I enjoyed the hike. I will say it was “comforting” to hear a few sounds of the Garden State Parkway because I knew I wasn’t “lost forever.”

Shark river park monmouth nj

The take away is…don’t follow your gut…follow the trail map.   Maybe not eat mushrooms on the trail either…

Shark river park monmouth nj

I am definitely going to come back and run, and I bet it’s such a fun cross country course.

Here are other hikes I’ve done this Spring and Summer:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse
Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour
Hiking through Belleplain State Forest
Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

When was the last time you got lost? 

Are there any good hikes near you?

Walk Out a Mile and It Down Pours

Walk Out a Mile and It Down Pours

This is the tale of a hike that was supposed to be a hike but then wasn’t.

I was up in the Allentown area last week.  I needed to be up there sometime in the mid-afternoon.  If you’ve ever dealt with Philadelphia traffic, you know you don’t play games during that time (like any city really).  So I left early and ended up having 5 hours of free time.  I like to see various areas and had the day off, so I thought why not?  The drive could either be 90 minutes earlier or 2.5 later in the day.

There are a few hikes I’ve wanted to do in the general area, so I decided to kill some time and went up to Hickory Run State Park.  While driving up, the weather was beautiful.  There wasn’t any rain, and it wasn’t forecasted to rain.  It was sunny, but cooler for the summer (around 80).  I thought it would be an ideal day to hike.

Starting out at Hickory didn’t go as planned either.  I like Nuun when hiking and prefer the caffeinated Ginger.  I would prefer noncaffeinated ginger, but to my knowledge, they don’t make them.  (I’m not a Nuun ambassador and prefer something with more substance while running.).  With Nuun, I also eat food while hiking, so I don’t really eat gels.

Anyway, I accidentally dumped an entire canister of the Nuun into my pack.  So I didn’t see stars from that much caffeine, I diluted, but at that point, I knew the hike would be “one of those hikes”.

I started off on Blue Trail.  It’s a thin trail that winds through the forest. It connects both the Pine Hill and Sand Spring trails.

The path went along a stream crossing, and while trying to cross, I fell in.  I do have a pair of Goretex Brooks Cascadia which are fantastic but when you fall into a stream, there is only so much that will protect you.  As I continued along the trail, the skies opened up, and it started downpouring anyway.

Hiking Hickory run park

I wasn’t expected rain, so I didn’t have anything I would usually have like a jacket or hat.  I kept trecking along.  The trail was overgrown and the further I got, the deeper the water was.

Hiking Hickory run park

Around an hour, and probably only going 1.5 miles, I ended up turning around.  It was a trail I know I could have covered hiking 3 miles per hour, and I wouldn’t make it anywhere at the rate I was going.

Hiking Hickory run park

In all, I’m definitely happy I was up at Hickory Run Park near Allentown, and I do want to go back on a better day.  Nothing about the hike went as planned but I made the best of the situation and that is all I can ask of myself.

The park looks awesome, and there are so many fun trails.  I love NJ, but I’ve done 75% of the hikes here now!  I don’t regret the short but fun hike, I’m happy to be able to do it.

Here are other hikes I’ve done this Spring and Summer:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse
Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour
Hiking through Belleplain State Forest
Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

You can see all the hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you hiked in the rain?

Where is your favorite place to hike? 

Vital Proteins Recovery Smoothie

Vital Proteins Recovery Smoothie

It’s probably hot where you are, but that is because it’s now summer.  I like the heat, but the days where I want hot chocolate after a run are gone.  Yes, I still do have hot coffee though.  Anyway, lately with the weather, I’ve found myself craving more smoothies.

vital proteins ambassador

This year, one commitment I made to myself was getting protein after each run.  I used to be terrible about eating right after a run.  It wasn’t because of lack of hunger, but because I was usually ten minutes late and floundering around trying to get somewhere on time.  Something I could have fixed many moons ago. This year I’ve been a lot better about getting protein and giving myself a little bit more time.

I wrote a post about having Vital Proteins after reach run.  Lately, I’ve enjoyed two scoops of the beauty collagen strawberry lemon. The Strawberry Lemon Beauty Collagen contains 12 grams of collagen peptides which help aid recovery.

I know it’s nothing new, and many runners have enjoyed post-run or workout smoothies, but it’s more new to me.

After running, your body needs a blend of both carbohydrates and protein.  Getting this within 30 minutes is something I’ve been working on all year, and I’m proud I’ve been much better about it.  I’m not a fancy chef, but this is the “recipe” I use.

Recovery Smoothie:


1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk (I prefer almond milk)
1 cup Berries (Recently I’ve been in a blueberry or raspberry mood.  It just depends what is on sale)
2/3 cup ice
2/3 cup ice
2 scoops Vital Proteins Collagen (Lately I’ve used the beauty collagen, but I’ve used most of the flavors.  A runner-up second favorite is Whey)

Put in blender. Eat.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I do find that I recover faster when I make an effort to have protein after a run.  During the colder months, I preferred the bone broth or flavorless (that I would mix into hot cocoa).

I am a Vital Proteins Ambassador but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not being paid for this post.

Here are more Vital Protein Collagen posts:

Skin Benefits from Collagen

Recovering with Collagen Protein

Hair and Nail Benefits of Collagen

Questions for you:

Are you good about consuming calories after a run?

What is your smoothie recipe?


Exploring the Maurice River Bluffs

Recently, I was down in the Vineland area.  I’ve always wanted to check out the Maurice River Bluffs, and it seemed like a good day to do so.  There are a couple of trails down there! Unfortunately, with the weather we’ve had the last couple of months, part of the trails were closed due to flooding.

That is okay, and I still had a relaxing time just exploring.  I stayed on trails and followed the detour route that is currently in place, but it’s not the same route you’ll find online.

I believe I explored about 3 miles worth of the park.  I was able to make it to the actual Maurice River Bluffs, so I felt accomplished.  Tick season is among us, and along with just everyday safety, I like to stay on trails and not make my own.  Most of the path is pine needles and then along the bluffs is a beautiful sandy marsh.

The parking lot is small, and I don’t know how crowded the park can get.  There was plenty of parking when I went, but as mentioned I’m unsure how busy it can be.  When I arrived, I heard loud music playing.  To be honest, for about 5 minutes I thought there was a festival going on inside the park.  I’m not exaggerating at all!  When I walked up to the front, I realized it was coming from someone’s car.

maurice river bluffs nj

Most of the trail is pines.

maurice river bluffs nj

An abandoned building along the trail.  It was pretty cool as most of the building is gone and you can see nearly to the foundation.

maurice river bluffs nj

maurice river bluffs nj

Looking to the bluffs!

maurice river bluffs nj

Gorgeous view along the bluffs that I had no idea existed around there.maurice river bluffs nj

In all, it was a fun little walk in the Vineland. I enjoy exploring new parts of NJ, and this spring and summer have been great for that!

I have been enjoying the peace of hiking and walking through the Spring and now summer.  I’m hopefully looking forward to continuing through the rest of the season.

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:
Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking Cape May Lighthouse

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to bluffs?

Do you live in an area with a lot of ticks?

How do You Know When it’s Summer Running?

How do You Know When it’s Summer Running?

As warmer weather approaches, a change in attitude does too. Summer running has its own set of obstacles from sweating through 10,000 layers to tan lines you didn’t know were possible.

This year seems to have gone straight from winter to summer.  In the greater Philadelphia area, it’s either 90 degrees or pouring rain and 40.  Let’s be honest, we complain about running in any weather: hot, cold weather, rain, snow, ice…there is probably a week of weather we don’t complain about.

Thinking out loud, here are some thoughts I have when training through the summer.

So far in my running history, I’ve run in many climates,  I went to college in upstate New York and spent summers in Hampton Roads, VA.

In 2017, I spent the winter in Alabama which was hotter in January then New Jersey is in June.  (My husband had a school down there).  New Jersey is not the hottest state, nor the coldest but it can be tough to run somedays.  This week most days were 90%+ humidity which right now we are not used too.

To be honest, over the last 2 years I’ve learned you can’t control the weather.  It might be extremely hot, thunderstorms or hailing but everyone is dealing with the same elements.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve raced multiple half marathons in torrential downpour and wind.  This year at Boston was torrential downpours.

How do You Know When it's Summer Running?

So How Do You Know You’re it’s Summer Running?

You stalk the Weather App:

It’s the first thing you check in the morning and the last thing you check at night.  Forget about other social media, that is where it’s at my friends.  Good thing you can’t make a weather app profile and add friends and update your weather-related status…

You Run Early or Late:

In the summer, it’s light, cooler and you beat rush hour traffic. You never knew you were an early morning runner until the summer hit!  If you have been like me, you might have already made the mistake of running at 9 am on the weekend.

You Have Weird Tan Lines:

Runners have every tan line from a sports bra, watch, sunglasses, compression socks, and even shoes.  Right now I have a compression tan line, sock tan, sports bra, and watch.  I’ve been working on getting rid of my compression tan line, but I doubt it will ever happen.

Your Diet is Electrolytes:

With all of those electrolytes lost, hydration is essential.  You don’t even know how to eat food that isn’t Nuun or GU.

The Lighter Weight the Clothing, the More Expensive it is: 

Who knew you would pay so much for a moisture-wicking tank top? It keeps from sticking to you when it’s 90 degrees, so it’s worth it.  The question is why not run in just a sports bra or tank top…clearly you need the $70 tank.

Sunscreen and Bodyglide are your Lotions:

You and your running group smell like a glorified trip to the Carribean.  Seriously don’t forget to wear sunscreen while running this summer.

Your Route is Planned to End at the Pool, Lake or Ocean.

Luckily for us in New Jersey, you are never too far from a lake, park, or the ocean.  Jumping in is perfect for cooling off.

There is Always a Mystery if What Kind of Workout you’ve Done:

Why is your clothing wet?
Did you go swimming?
Did you just sweat that much or run through sprinklers?

The mystery is always there…

Don’t get me wrong, I like summer running!

Questions for you:
Do you do any of these things?
How do you train through the summer?

How to Prepare for Running in the Heat

How to Prepare for Running in the Heat

Incase you weren’t aware, it’s finally getting warmer.  Although, if you are anything like the Northeast, our weather went from 30 degrees to 80.  It feels as though there wasn’t much middle ground!  Hopefully, your body adjusts faster than mine.

Thinking out loud, running in the heat can be a challenge.  Even though it’s usually more enjoyable than running in the cold, there are a lot of difficulties and obstacles you face by running in the warm weather too.

So How can you Prepare for Spring and Summer Running this Year?

Stay Hydrated

This is probably the most important advice!

It doesn’t mean drink a liter of water directly before your run.  It means staying hydrating throughout the day.

Drink more water before, after and during your run.  Also don’t forget that you also lose electryltes while running in warmer conditions.  During the warmer months, it’s important to add salt tabs or Gatorade to the mix too.  Every runner has their own personal preferance of what works for the stomach and system.  I am fortanate that most any electrolyte drink works well for me, I just need to remember to drink it.

Adjust your Run for the Temperature and Humidity

Don’t be ashamed to back off pacing or dial it back because it’s hot.  Run by effort and feel, not based on what the workout pace should be at ideal conditions.

For example, on Sunday, I had a tempo run scheduled.  It was 85 degrees and while my pace was “supposed” to be 6:45, I ran 7:18 and was struggling.  Was I upset?  No!  Was I injured?  No.  I adjusted my pace accordingly and ran by effort.   It’s important to take note that running in the heat effects your body and you won’t hit the same paces as running in ideal conditions.

Wear Appropriate Clothing:

You could run naked but that would end up being sunburnt and uncomfortable.  Don’t forget to wear sunscreen as well as moisture wicking clothing.  I’ll have to do a current post of running clothing I’m loving this season but in the mean time here are some things not to forget:

  • Hat (to keep sun off your face)
  • Moisture wicking and noncotton clothing: including a top, sports bra, shorts, underwear and socks.  Cotton anything will absorb sweat and become heaving causing blisters, chafing and who knows what else.
  • Sunglasses: To keep your eyes protected
  • Body glide and sunscreen (because chafing stinks)
Be Flexible with Your Schedule:

Whether you need to run inside or run early, don’t be afraid to change your plan.  Run at the best time of the day.

You aren’t a hero if you run in 100-degree heat at high noon!   In the winter, typically running at lunch time is ideal but that isn’t usually the case over the summer.  That’s normally when it’s the hottest.  Don’t be afraid to change the time of day you run or where you run.

There is no shame in running on the treadmill, especially when it’s the safest option.  You can usually find me there at least once per week.
In case you missed any of the previous weeks Running Store and Training:
Thoughts While Working in the Running Store
Should Race in Racing Flats?
Are you Getting Enough Protein for Running?
Why 5ks are the Best
How Alternating Shoes Can Benefit Your Running:
How to Transition in Minimalist Running Shoes
Should You Wear Running Shoes Outside of Running?
Questions for you:
What are some tips you have for running in the heat?
Do you like summer or winter running better? 

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