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Exploring Wells State Park (Sturbridge, MA)

Exploring Wells State Park (Sturbridge, MA)

It looks like Wells State Park is my last post for summer hiking. This summer, I was lucky enough to have time to hike in several spots in the Northeast.  Heck, I even did a couple of mountain races too.  I genuinely enjoy hiking as much as running.

Anyway, on my way back from the Boothbay Half, my husband and I stopped around Sturbridge.  Instead of running, we opted for a 4-5 mile hike in Wells State Park.  Wells State Park is neat because there is plenty of camping.  We were out early, and we saw lots of other hikers and campers.  It was never overwhelming, and it wasn’t as if the trails went right through campsites.  If I lived in the area, this would be a place I would camp.

Wells State Park is about 1,400-acres. Apparently, there are the campground has 60  sites. We primarily hiked around Walker Pond which appears you can fish or swim depending on the location.

There are over 10 miles of trails which are for hiking.  There is also a road that goes through the park for campers to easier setup sites.

Here are a few photos:

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Around Walker Pond

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Dirt Path

 

 

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

More Hiking

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Do you see the frog?  I didn’t until my husband pointed him out.

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

In all, we had a great time, and if I’m ever back in the area, I will go back.  The trail itself is easy, and doable for kids or dogs.

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
Walk Out a Mile and It Down Pours
Hiking Shark River Park

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Do you like camping? I haven’t been in a while, but I don’t mind. 

What is something fun you did this summer? 

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Training: Workouts and Trails

Training: Workouts and Trails

Another week of training down?

I received constructive feedback about how boring my training logs had become.  When the majority of your blog is about running, I guess that is never good.   So I thought I would dive more in depth into my logs each week.  I don’t get paid to blog about my training but if it helps someone else then fabulous.  Or if you’re like me, and nosy, than also equally as fabulous.  I’m not a coach and not being coached.

One reason I have blogged less and less about training is that a lot of people don’t read posts. With the rise of instagram runners, a lot of blogs including my personal favorites have died off.  We all have lives and like I said on Wednesday, it doesn’t bother me but I don’t ever plan to become an instagrammer that writes a novel with each photo.   That being said, I have nothing to hide and as someone who works in run specialty, I do know half of my readers are people I “know in real life” so lying and hiding life would be weird.

On another running note, I will say I have decided on a fall race and once I have things set in stone I will share.

Monday: Easy 3 miles running
Tuesday: 10 Miles easy with Alexis
Wednesday: 3X1 mile 6:30 pace (warmup 2/cool down 2)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 60 minutes running
Saturday: Killington 25k (3:20)
Sunday: Rest

Easy Runs:

I run easy and usually either run without a watch on a route I already know (such as 3 miles).  I just put it on timer mode and run for X amount of minutes.  I have no idea pace or distance on the timed runs, but I typically average the miles to be about 9 minute miles.  They are usually boring, uneventful, and I just leave and go for run.

Wednesday: 3X1 mile (averaging 6:30 pace) with ½ mile jog (no stopping)

I would have liked this workout to be closer to 6:15 pace but my body didn’t have it.  I could tell I was tired but I had read something Sara Hall posted about: it wasn’t the easy workouts that made us stronger but the hard workouts that we didn’t feel great.  I’m not  taking stop breaks and just jogging through (very easy) because I do plan to build fitness for longer races (IE: not a 5 or 10k).

To be clear, I didn’t feel “injury bad” but more just tired, and my legs were heavy.  We all have those days and it’s nothing to cry or be ashamed about. The weather was more humid than it has been but I was happy to get the workout done.  Of course, it stinks for a workout not to go perfectly, but I’m not devastated.

While 400s are still just my favorite workout, I don’t want to find myself too stale by doing them all of the time.  I am the person that could do the same workout week after week and not get bored of it.  Swimming the mile in college gave me the “ability” to stay mindless…but I know it’s important to mix it up.

Killington 25k: (3:20):

Killington is known as the “Beast of the East” and I can see why.  I was over 20 minutes slower at Killington than running the 25k in Colorado at 9000 feet of elevation.  The terrain is much different and there is no way to compare.  It was the physical task I’ve ever done and the terrain was either 40% incline or decline.  There were sections of the race that became “only” 20% incline and I thought I was getting a nice break.

underarmour killington elevation chart

I am a terrible downhill runner.  It’s something I know I could get better with practice, but right now it’s very weak for me.  I was passed by dozens of people on downhills, only to pass them on the uphill.  Trail running has taught me, if I ran a “just uphill race”, I would probably do pretty good at it.  For me, the hardest part was going down a short decline around 13.5 that we ended up running through almost knee deep mud.  Luckily, I didn’t injure myself but I can tell you…my quads are very very sore.

I am proud of my accomplishment.  I run, walked, crawled, jogged, climbed, to the finish line and I couldn’t have asked anymore from myself.  Running the two trail races has taught me a lot about myself and I am so glad I decided to run both this year!

Posts from the Week:

Getting Lost at Shark River Park

Differences of Collagen Peptides and Gelatin

Running Isn’t Everything

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve run?

Do you have any fall goal races?

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?

Walking Around Belleplain State Forest

Recently I found myself back down near Maurice River and at the East Creek Trail in the Bellaplain State Forest. Belleplain State Forest is a 20,000+  acres located in both Cape May County and Cumberland.  There are plenty of different trees and animals lurking around, and it’s pretty well maintained.

The trail itself is a very flat, and runnable (if you want, I did not) 4.8-mile.  East  The creek is located in Belleplain State Forest. It’s marshy, swampy, and in the summer has a lot of mosquitos.  If you go in the Spring, Summer, and probably fall you will deal with mosquitos, but it’s like that anywhere in the Pineland area.  Also, check for ticks because I saw plenty of deer ticks of grass blades and picked about 10 off me.  Yes, 10.

Never the less, it was a lot of fun, and it was a nice and relaxing morning.  As most people know, one of my goals this summer is to get outside and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible!

Here are a few photos:

Belleplain State Forest east creek trail new jersey

 

Belleplain State Forest east creek trail new jersey

 

Belleplain State Forest east creek trail new jersey

many fallen trees

Belleplain State Forest east creek trail new jersey

Extremely long boardwalks that I almost fell a few times

Belleplain State Forest east creek trail new jersey

Where the bugs harbor

Belleplain State Forest east creek trail new jersey

In all, it was another fun spot to go.  I’ll go back but probably wait until the winter when there are fewer bugs.

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

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:
What is your favorite bug spray? 
Do you have any plans for the summer?

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?

 

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?

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