Heading north

After my beach run in Cape Cod we decided to head north. Our final destination was Portsmouth, New Hampshire – as suggested by DarlinRae and PirateBobcat. When I was planning our trip out east there were two things that I was interested in: beaches and history. Cape Cod took care of the beaches and our next stop was Minuteman National Historic Park between Concord and Lexington back in MA. Learning about the American Revolution back in Ireland – we got the basics tea party, British were bad, George Washington and that’s about it. Now we were getting the real deal.

Ye olde tavern in Lexington.

Ye olde tavern in Lexington.

I’ve visited my fair share of National Park Visitors’ Centers and I have to say that the one at Minuteman was pretty cool. They showed two amazing films – one aimed at kids with muppets singing a Steve Martin song about Paul Revere and another multimedia presentation describing the events leading up to Paul Revere’s famous ride to warn about the Redcoats. Then we followed the historical trail past some historical homes out to north bridge where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired.

Yet another olde tavern. Check out the painted sign!

Yet another olde tavern. Check out the painted sign!

THE bridge.

THE bridge.

We did a little detour out to Essex, MA to get our seafood fix – crabmeat roll for me and lobster roll for J. Then we hit the most hipster hotel in Portsmouth, NH. It was a beautiful hotel and really close to downtown.

Blue Mason glassware. Yellow rotary phone.

Blue Mason glassware. Yellow rotary phone.

First stop: Eagle Earth Brewings. About a 5 minute walk from the hotel. A hip little microbrewery with some awesome beers. We ate at a restaurant called surf that overlooked the harbor: great scallops to start and amazing portabello-stuffed flounder.

Beer flight.

Beer flight.

Next morning: morning run in state number two. It was windy and in the 30s! J and I ran to the harbor – his first run since Boston.

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IMG_1381The naval shipyard was across the water and you could see a submarine moored. I wanted to take a photo but I was afraid of being arrested. We also saw the last remnants of Portsmouth’s snow pile. Pretty glad I wasn’t here in January. Portsmouth was a cute little town – a smaller¬† version of Portland, ME – our next stop.

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Cape Cod

After the adventure of Boston #survivedTHATrain, we decided to pick up our car and head to the coast. As someone who lives in the desert, I always get crazy excited when I get to see the ocean. First stop (after Dunkin donuts – Boston creme for me) was Plymouth, MA. I am obviously not American (check out the username) so have a limited knowledge of US history but I have heard of Plymouth Rock. Plus, someone decided that we needed to see the coast in glorious sunshine. Let the photo dump commence.

THE rock. Or not - nobody's quite sure.

THE rock. Or not – nobody’s quite sure.

The rock's house - and check out the weather.

The rock’s house – and check out the weather.

We then proceeded to Cape Cod where I had my first ever lobster roll before checking in at our bed and breakfast. Because it is low season we got an awesome deal with the friendliest hosts. Breakfast was amazing – plus we got to witness their scone war dramatics. Definitely recommended if you ever need to stay near Hyannis.

 

Beautiful place to stay.

Beautiful place to stay.

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And then we had to take a sunset walk on the beach before dinner – it was about a mile away and beautiful.

Beautiful sunset.

Beautiful sunset.

No lifeguard on duty.

No lifeguard on duty.

Next day we meandered along the coast up to Provincetown and back via Cape Cod National Seashore.

Boardwalk. There were ospreys nesting in the marshes.

Boardwalk. There were ospreys nesting in the marshes.

The beach at Dennis. We accidentally went on the residents' side. Oops.

The beach at Dennis. We accidentally went on the residents’ side. Oops.

Lunch in Provincetown.

Lunch in Provincetown.

Racepoint beach.

Racepoint beach.

I am a little obsessed with visiting lighthouses.

I am a little obsessed with visiting lighthouses.

Atlantic coast. It was windy.

Atlantic coast. It was windy.

I decided that during my visit I would run in every place that we were staying. So Thursday morning I headed to the beach. It was tough (heavy legs) but the views got me by.

The nearest beach.

The nearest beach.

Lots of water around the Cape.

Lots of water around the Cape.

The Cape was exactly what I expected – and it a really good way. It was incredibly beautiful – those beaches are amazing. Full of really cute clapboard homes. Quaint little towns. Great seafood. We even managed to see whales from the beach near Provincetown. And we got blessed with the most beautiful weather to see it all. Next stop: New Hampshire.

Boston bound

Just a quick post before I head to the airport and head to Boston for vacation. I hope I’ll see some of you guys out on the course! I am beyond excited to (1) spectate at arguably the world’s most favorite marathon and (2) spending one week traveling around New England. This Irish chick sure misses seeing the Atlantic. Follow me on Instagram to see what beer I’m drinking everyday.

And bonus: today I got a chance to run my first (and probably only) 20 miler of this marathon training schedule. And it went swimmingly (or should that be runningly?). I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off the full 20 and was ready to bail went it hurt -> my tight calves are giving me random achy-breaky heart feet. But if all felt pretty good (well as good as running 20 miles can feel). Average pace 9.13 min/miles with the last 5 miles at goal pace (9.03/8.48/9.05/8.52/8.44). You know your long run went well when your first mile (9.39) is your slowest and the last mile is your fastest. Beginning to think that this marathon may not be a complete disaster!

Mon: 4.2 trail miles at 10.06 pace + 559 ft elevation gain. My legs felt so sore from Saturday’s 18 miler. But it was in the 70s and I couldn’t resist.

Tues: Strength workout

Wed: 7 miles in the snow. Yes – we got our biggest snow storm of the whole season. I manage three “tempo” miles (8.29/8.15/8.16). A little disappointed with my times but my legs felt tired, it was freaking snowing and I just wasn’t feeling it. Giving myself a pass on this one.

Thurs: Yoga and bike commute.

Fri: 2.85 miles with my husband -> his last run before Boston. Bike commute.

Sat: 20 miles at 9.13 min/mile pace. Fast finish.

Sun: Boston!

See you in a week!

Calling all New Englanders!

First of all let me ask for your help. This arrived at our house last week:

This is not mine!!!!

This is not mine!!!!

It is not mine! I have not secretly qualified for Boston and not shared it with the world – you guys would definitely be the first to know. But my husband qualified last May (with a 3.03 – husband-brag!) and we decided to splurge and make the trek over to MA. As you can guess flights from SLC -> Boston are not cheap so we are making a vacation of it. One whole week out east. Are plans for Sunday and Monday are pretty much wrapped up in picking up his bib and getting to the finish line. But after that? And because of the crazy winter weather that I’ve been hearing about for the last couple of months it seems as if we haven’t picked the ideal time to visit……

Anyway we are thinking of driving down to Cape Cod and checking out some of the towns there (maybe all the way to Provincetown and some whale watching?) and then heading up north to Maine (for important craft beer research in Portland). So if you live near Boston could you share any travel tips? Portland is a definite but other than that we are pretty flexible. Most important: seafood, microbreweries and ocean views. And just how bad is the snow right now? Is it starting to melt at all? Do I need to find my down coat (it is 80F today in SLC so my winter clothes are out of rotation)?

I also wanted to talk a little about my injury. Today marks 5 weeks since my last physiotherapist appointment at which I was told I should start to be running symptom free any day now (4-6 weeks recovery). My recovery has probably been slowed a little by my decision to run the Canyonlands half marathon a couple of weeks ago (not PT-recommended) but I am pretty happy with that judgement call. The truth is that my running is symptom free right now. I can still feel tightness in my calf on most runs (which is better than (1) sharp pain or (2) dull ache) so I am still waiting for that hallelujah pain-free run. But what has improved drastically is my recovery.

At the start of my rehab I was doing 3-4 miles of run-walking. My calf was sore during the run, after the run and the next day. Running two days in a row was totally out of the question. Now, it is tight during the run, and this tightness usually lasts for 2-3 hours afterward, but I am feeling fine by the afternoon and completely recovered by the following day. So while I can’t claim to be 100% recovered right now I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also am free of random calf pains during the day (going up stairs or pushing off on my bike) and I am feeling NORMAL again. Woohoo! It only took about 2 months.

My positives right now are:

1. I can run without needing walk breaks.

2. My endurance is still pretty good (I managed 15 miles this past weekend – more on that later in the week)

3. My mood is 100% improved. Runners’ high all of the time.

4. I am now ready to introduce another day of running (4 days per week).

Nuun and egg/avocado sandwiches - long runs are back!

Nuun and egg/avocado sandwiches – long runs are back!

The only negatives:

1. No speed work at all. All runs are at an easy pace. I’m not too worried – I believe that speed will return with mileage.

2. No trail running. Calves + Hills = pain! Hopefully in the next month I’ll be able to remedy this.

 

But right now I’ll take what I can get!

Moab!

I’m so glad Monday was a holiday! I needed a full day to recover after our weekend in Moab. We left on Friday lunchtime so that J could check-in for his 55K race and we could both have an early night (5.30 AM wake-up calls are the downside of racing!). But you know you’ve signed up for an awesome race when you pick up your bib at the local bar.

We made it to the start of the race at 7 AM (the 55K started at 8 AM and the 33K at 8.30 AM). I found the volunteer coordinator and go my hi-vis vest – once you wear this people ask you all kinds of questions. It was in the mid 30s which meant frozen toes but still a lot of fun watching people who paid actual money to run 32ish miles over red rock in February. An additional bonus is that you literally cannot see a bad view in Moab.

racestart

While J was running for 5.5-6 hours I decided to hit up one of the best hikes in Moab, and which was conveniently located right beside the parking lot for the race finish. Corona arch is about a 3 mile round trip with minimal elevation gain and the most amazing views. (And no calf pain at all!)

Back in the desert.

Back in the desert.

Red cliffs.

Red cliffs.

Bowtie arch.

Bowtie arch.

Corona Arch.

Corona Arch.

The arch up close.

The arch up close.

Added adventure.

Added adventure.

I managed to get to the finish in time to watch J finish – under 6 hours in his first ultra. The race was around 32 miles with 4000 ft of elevation gain and by all accounts it was pretty tough -> especially if your longest run was 15 miles!

What a terrible view at the finish!

What a terrible view at the finish!

We spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the sun drinking a beer or two before meeting some friends for dinner and having an early night. The next day J was feeling annoyingly surprisingly good so we headed to Canyonlands National Park after breakfast at the Love Muffin (the only place to get your breakfast burrito in town).

We did a hike down to the False Kiva. It’s a protected historical site so it’s not on the official park map but if you ask (or use the internet) you can find the start of the trail (which is really obvious and well-marked). It started off pretty easy and then we made our way down about 500ft in a pretty steep descent before making out way up to the kiva. It’s called a false kiva because normal kivas have an underground section but who cares when you see this view. What a great way to recharge those batteries!

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Looking out over Canyonlands - towards the Green River and White Rim.

Looking out over Canyonlands – towards the Green River and White Rim.

 

Who wants to come to Utah?

Relaxation!

I’ve finally embraced ‘the rest’. We had a wonderful weekend camping in Zion National Park. We arrived pretty late on Friday night and woke up to this view from camp. A bunch of wedding guests had arranged to camp at one of the group sites in the park. So fun! And probably the first time I’ve ever brought make-up and a fancy dress on a camping trip. We had breakfast and then caught the shuttle to the Lodge for the ceremony.

Camp!

Camp!

Camp!

Camp!

The wedding itself took place outside the lodge. It was a beautiful day – sunny and in the 80s. And what an amazing backdrop.

Wedding venue!

Wedding venue!

Ceremony under the cottonwood.

Ceremony under the cottonwood.

We got to hang out at the lodge for the afternoon before heading back to camp for the after party. What a way to celebrate the wedding of two amazing people.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed brunch before meandering back to SLC. And then it was early to bed – partying is hard work!

But I managed to rest for the entire weekend – absolutely no workouts. No running or hiking (which was so difficult – southern Utah is so perfect for exploring). Total rest. And I’m feeling great. I did a quick swim workout (30 mins) on Monday after work. And then Tuesday – more rest.

I think sometimes I freak out if I take a day off. As if not working out will land me back at square one fitness-wise. All those months of hard work will be negated by skipping the gym for one day. By the way – I know that this is crazy. You can’t get fit in one day and you certainly can’t lose fitness by taking a little time off. I guess it takes me a while to give myself ‘permission’ to take some time off. I love the feeling after any kind of exercise – endorphins please! – and it’s hard for me to dial it back.

But I think this year has helped my to gain some perspective.¬† Previously I would have pushed through – ignoring any pains, hoping they’ll go away on their own, coming back from injury too quickly. All of those mistakes that keep you injured for longer. What I’ve learned in the past year is that it is a million times better to catch running injuries early and give yourself time to heal properly. Rushing back too soon will end badly. Last year I had sciatica and once I was healed “enough” I got straight back into it…………….and promptly got bursitis in both hips. Total time off = 12 weeks!

So I plan on doing another short swim workout out tomorrow and maybe Thursday. And even though my foot feels 100% normal I’m going to continue with my rest from running. It’s taken a while but I feel like I’m finally doing it right.

 

It’s the weekend!

Friday! Woohoo! I get to leave work a little early today so J and I can head down south. One of our very good friends is getting married this weekend. And being a super-awesome bride – she has chosen to get married at Zion National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Here’s some pictures of our visit there in fall 2010.

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Again – I’m reminded how lucky I am to live in Utah where I can drive 4 hours and be in this place! Plus what’s better than a weekend of camping and partying with your best friends!

This week has been run-free and totally great. My foot (which wasn’t that sore to begin with) hasn’t been bothering me but I’m still determined to take another week off before my slowly returning to running. I also have been sleeping in til 7 AM every morning. I think I’ll wait until Daylight Savings ends before going back to my 6 AM workouts.

But I have been staying active. I’ve biked into work three days this week. I was meant to do it again today but had major chain issues -> bike fail. It’s only a little over 3.5 miles but it is literally uphill the whole way and takes about 35 mins. But coming home is totally free-wheeling and a ton of fun. I’ve also hit the pool twice. The U has a pool that’s open for lane swimming every weeknight from 6-10 PM and it’s pretty quiet. My short term goal (I’m following a 6 week program) is to be able to swim 1 whole mile without stopping. I also did a quick strength workout (no yoga until my foot is back to normal) including my longest plank ever – 3 1/2 minutes – this was made a little easier because Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off kept me company. Damn – that is one catchy song!

Finally, I’m happy to announce that I’ve managed to complete one of my goals for the year! At some point during my marathon I managed to tick off 1000 miles for the year. I’m hoping in a week I can get back out there and add a couple more!

Happy weekend!