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Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour

Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour

I like going to Bear Mountain in New York State, however, some of the hardest and scariest hikes I’ve done have been in that park.  Bear Mountain was one of the first hikes my husband and I did. Somehow, we got lost and hiked over the mountain and to other side and main road.  In order to get back to our car, we either had to take a taxi or spend another 4+ hours hiking in the dark.  By some miracle, there was a driver up there.  When we discussed options that seemed like a silly one to even pursue.

This particular time, we started in a mist and by the time we were about halfway in, it was downpouring.  Honestly, it wasn’t too bad.  I invested in a nice Goretex jacket which kept me dry the entire time.

Here are a few photos:

hiking bear mountain new york state

The beach. On a decent day this is swarming with people

hiking bear mountain new york state

With the storm there were so many trees down

hiking bear mountain new york state

Plenty of water so plenty of streams to cross

hiking bear mountain new york state

The nice thing about the Appalachian Trail is it is well kept and there are many rocks stairs

hiking bear mountain new york state

Views along the way

hiking bear mountain new york state

View from the top

hiking bear mountain new york state

Tower at the top

hiking bear mountain new york state

close up

hiking bear mountain new york state

Well kept facts about the entire area

At the end, once we got back down to the trailhead

In all, we had a great time.  It was pouring rain, but it was definitely one to write home (or blog I guess) about.  We hiked about 4 steep miles that day but with the scrambling, especially when it got wet, it was difficult.  Typically the trail to get to the peak isn’t that rigorous.

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever hiked in the rain?

What is your favorite hike?

 

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Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse

Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse

One of my goals for the Spring and Summer is to go on more walks and hikes through NJ.  Like going to different diners, it’s fun to see different parts of the state.  Recently, after running the Cape May 10k, I went to the Cape May State Park.  I wanted to spend the day outdoors, but I wasn’t in the mood to ‘just lay” on the beach.  Plus, it was slightly too windy and too cold to do so.

The Cape May Lighthouse is a major attraction in the area.  Since it’s along the shore, the state park has a constantly changing shoreline, several freshwater coastal marsh, and ponds.  What I didn’t know was it was also a well-known location for viewing birds.  Many people travel to view birds, which was neat and not something I’ve ever done.  For those who don’t know, I’m terrified of both turkeys and geese, but other birds interest me.  Of any animal, I find them to have the “most personality.”

cape may state park

There are a few trails.  All are easy, along the coast, and we saw people of all ages walking.  We stopped a lot to look at birds but there is no elevation change and many are even on boardwalk.  If you are looking for a rigorous hike, there isn’t for you but if you’re looking something relaxing and scenic, you’ll enjoy it!

cape may state park

Red Trail:

  • about half a mile long and wheelchair access accessible
  • offers hikers access to both the lighthouse ponds
  • Each of the two ponds has a platform to view the birds, swans, and even osprey

Yellow Trail:

  • 1.5 miles long.
  • My favorite of three due to the different habitats including the shore, wetland marsh, and beach

cape may state park

Blue Trail:

  • About 2 miles long
  • Most floral and fauna
  • Like the yellow trail offers there are many different habitats along the shore.

If you are looking to view birds and nature, both the yellow and blue trails are your best bet. The red trail gives a quick glimpse of the park and access to the lighthouse.

cape may state park

cape may state park

cape may state park

I guess after all of that, I should tell you we did make it to the lighthouse.

cape may lighthouse

I’m glad we took some time to visit another of NJ’s parks.  As I mentioned, this Spring and Summer my goal is to visit more parks.

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

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:
Have you ever been bird watching?
What are some of your plans this Spring and Summer?

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?

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?

Exploring Turkey Swamp Park

Exploring Turkey Swamp Park

Earlier in the week, I decided to take a trip to Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold, NJ.  I’ve heard it’s a cute park surrounded by a small lake.

Turkey Swamp is just over 2,200 acres.  The major attraction is the 17-acre lake.  In the summer it’s used for fishing and boating. The park also features miles of trails and even an archery range.  While walking through, I wondered what kind of range it was but after googling found out archery (obviously, no one was practicing).

While I didn’t run through the park, you can.  Turkey Swamp actually hosts a trail series and even a looped marathon.  The trails are accessible and even if you don’t consider yourself a “trail runner”, you can run through.

In all, it was a fun few hours in the park, and I enjoyed the warmer weather.  This spring and summer, I want to get out to more parks in NJ and enjoy them.  I haven’t been to many down the shore so that’s where you’ll find me.

Two main trails join together and create about 5 miles of hiking.  The surface is mostly flat and dirt.

The shorter, Alder, is 1.6 miles and an easy loop around the lake.

turkey swamp park freehold nj

turkey swamp park freehold nj

What am I staring at…the world will never know.

The Longer, Manasquan Loop is about 3.8 miles from the Nomoco parking lot.  Both are easy to follow.

turkey swamp park freehold nj

walking along the stream

turkey swamp park freehold nj

In all, it was a great morning of relaxing before a busy day.  There weren’t any turkeys out, but I can’t complain about that.  There were, however, plenty of geese and their babies (which I had no interest to go near territorial geese…or any geese).

turkey swamp park freehold nj

You can see other hikes I’ve done here.

Questions for you:

What are some things you want to do this summer?

Do you have a favorite park near you?

Brooks Cascadia 12 Shoe Review

When going out west on Vacation, I knew I needed a trail shoe.  My husband and I have hiked several times on the east coast, but many people indicated how rocky and rigorous trails could be out west.  Thinking out loud, there have probably been times I could have used a trail shoe while hiking out east too.

brooks cascadia 12 shoe review

The Cascadia seemed like a good option.  I’ve had success with many Brooks Running shoes including both the Ghost 10 and Glycerin 15.  Instead of getting a hiking boot, I opted for the gortex (weatherproof) Brooks Cascadia.

Brooks Cascadia Fit:

The Gortex version makes the shoe stiffer and less breathable but that is precisely what I was looking for.  I wanted a shoe that would protect me from harsher elements.  That being said, it still fits appropriately.  In my running shoes, I’ve worn between 10-11 wide.  I purchased a pair of 10.5 shoes and have been fine.  The upper is constructed from a double mesh material that I found highly flexible, breathable, and provided a durable layer of protection.

brooks cascadia 12 shoe review

Brooks Cascadia Ride:

Personally, I’ve used these more for climbing and hiking versus running on trails.  I’ve used them a couple of times to run, but for the most part, they have been great hiking shoes.

There is a lot of cushion for a trail shoe.  My biggest fear was getting a trail shoe that was firm or rigid.  Since we have done 10+ miles of hiking before, my feet would not be happy with that.  The cushion of the Cascadia is soft like the Ghost but hard enough to grip the ground appropriately.

It doesn’t have the grooves of a rigorous hiking boot, but did have enough for the hikes I was doing.

The Gortex version allowed me to cross several streams without too much of an issue with my feet getting wet.  Something that was ideal.

Final Thoughts:

I like the Brooks Cascadia 12, and I’m so glad I decided to purchase it.  Since purchasing, I’ve done a variety of trails including Zion National Park, Colorado Springs, and even hiking in New Jersey.  It definitely makes a difference when hiking.  I’m glad I finally took the plunge and purchased a pair.

Questions for you:

Do you have a separate pair of trail shoes?

Have you ever used a Gortex or weatherproof product?

Run for the Hill of It 5 miler (34:09)

On Saturday I ran my first race post injury. It was no PR, and it was incredibly hot and humid, but it was my first race back in 10 weeks. As I type this out two days later, I feel the same amount of residual pain as if I’m running normally.  I’m still dealing with minor aches but I’ve been carefully monitoring my foot and so far so good.

To the race recap:
I didn’t have plans to run the race until a few day before.  I knew the race existed, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to race.  If I woke up and didn’t feel good, I wouldn’t run.  I made the executive decision on Friday that I would probably run.  When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was a bundle of nerves.  I hadn’t raced in over ten weeks and had no idea how the race would go. I figured if anything hurt, I would just stop. It was only a big deal if I made it a big deal. With that, I headed to Wissahickon park with just my husband and good friend J, knowing my Saturday morning plans.  Race day was extremely hot and humid. I warmed up three miles and sweat through my clothing.

The race went off right at 8:30.  The first mile was exhausting and honestly it was the hardest mile I’ve run in a while.  My legs were tired; it was hot, and I was mentally frustrated.  Why do I feel so bad?  Why is it so hot? Why are all of these people so darn fast? WTF am I even doing here? I questioned everything in the first minute of the race. I ran with a pack, and we hit the first mile in 6:30.  I was pleasantly surprised, but I knew I couldn’t hold that pace. I didn’t feel that fast but I was heating up quickly.

During the second mile, our pack began to spread out.  I was running alone and as third women overall. I had no goals for placing and my dream goal was to run under 35:00 (7 min pace). My primary goal was to finish injury free and stay smart.  Honestly, that will be my main goal for a while.  I ran a 6:45 mile.

The course was out and back.  I hit the turnaround, grabbed water and went back the opposite direction. My clothing was drenched, it was scorching, and it was hilly.  I was in a dark spot and miserable.  I finished mile 3  at exactly a 7 min pace.  I reevaluated my ankle which felt okay, and I continued.  My mental game was weak, and I felt like I had given up.

I ran the fourth and fifth miles by myself.  To be honest, I struggled through those too.  Mentally I was exhausted, physically exhausted and over it.  I haven’t raced a race that hot in a long time.  Possibly since the RNR Half Marathon.  A woman blew by me around mile 4.  She was running fast, and I knew there was no way I could stay with her.  Another ego blow but I brushed it off.  I ran both miles in 6:52.  When I crossed the finish line, I felt exhausted and tired.  I didn’t feel incredible, and I didn’t have a “Runners High,” I just felt tired.

Run for the Hill of It

Image from Flickr

I did a short cool down and went to my car. I had no idea until I looked at my blog post last year but I ran this year 30 seconds faster this year. I do believe it was hotter than last year.  Past that, I don’t have any complaints, and I’m looking forward to getting out there again.

The most important part was my ankle didn’t hurt during the race.  The race itself was both physically and mentally challenging and I was exhausted.  Not every race can be wonderful or a PR, in fact I don’t expect them too be.

Questions for you:
What’s the hottest race you’ve ever done?
Do you like trail races or road races?

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