Winter Day at the Beach

 

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Since it has been unseasonably warm here, we decided to head up to Maine and spend a few hours at the beach.  I love going to the beach anytime, but there is something special about going in the winter.  Maybe it is the small/nonexistent crowds?  Or maybe just that we can bring our dogs…?

Duke has always loved the beach – he chases toys into the water and runs around like a crazy dog!  He also loves meeting all the other (big) dogs.  People are always surprised that his little legs can keep up with all the larger dogs (seriously – he’s tiny.  Only about 13 pounds!).  Fiona loves the beach too, but she’s a little less social than Duke.

The only downside to the day is that we forgot the camera!  Our phones did the work this time, but it would have been nice to try out my new macro lens. 🙂  Although.. forgetting the camera gave me an excuse to collect shells and rocks to bring home and “practice.”

I’m definitely going to need one or two more quiet days at the beach before the crowds come back!  This was just what I needed for a mental break!

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Meet Fiona

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This is Fiona!  We adopted her from a local animal shelter.  Since she was about 7 months old and kind of quiet, no one at the shelter seemed to notice her (everyone was focused on the bouncing puppies!).  One look in those big, brown eyes, though, and I couldn’t leave without her!  Duke loves her (and is so much happier now – he had a hard time when we lost Wendy), and she is settling in nicely.  She’s roughly 60 pounds, but thinks she’s small – in fact, she’s curled up on my lap at this very moment.

She’s definitely the right dog for us, and at the right time.  Sometimes I feel guilty about how attached I’ve become, since I had to lose Wendy to find Fiona, but I’m learning to separate the two (especially since I was equally attached to Wendy).  Fiona is attached to me too – when I come home at night, she sticks to me like glue.  If I stand still, she sits on my feet!

I hope to teach Fiona to go running with me.  So far, she’s been pretty nervous to even go for walks, so I’ve been taking things pretty slow.  She had a rough puppyhood in Puerto Rico (she’s a Sato!), so she can be a little timid and jumpy.  Now that we’ve had her a few months, her confidence is improving so I hope to get her out on the roads with me once spring arrives!

 

MIA

Wow – it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Time sure flies!  Things have been busy, but good (mostly).  Updates:

  • I’m super busy.  I’m in an intense graduate program, and adjusting to its pace (and a long commute) took awhile.  I finally feel like I have a handle on it, though I’m still swamped all the time!
  • I thought I had kind of figured out work-life balance when I was at my last job, but it turns out that I will have to keep working on that one.  I suppose a certain amount of it is the nature of the beast, but I have had to rely on Jeb like never before!
  • My strength workouts have been going well.  I hit some big PRs over the summer when I was getting good nutrition and sleep, but I backed off a bit once school started back up.  I hit 225# on both my squat and deadlift!
  • My running has not been going as well.  It did at first – I was in a good routine and enjoying my workouts.  But then, in early October, we lost our sweet Wendy.  It was devastating to both of us and, since she was my running partner, I kind of lost all the enjoyment I normally found with our runs together.  It seemed like every spot on every run holds some sort of memory after 3 years of running together, and I couldn’t seem to get through a workout without breaking down in tears.  I significantly backed off the running after that, but I’m starting to get into it again.
  • We have a new dog!  Fiona is a Sato (and some kind of Shepherd mix), and so sweet!  I’m hoping to get her out running with me this spring, though she is very timid so it will be slow and steady progress until she gets comfortable.
  • I’m running the Nike Half in DC (in April!).  I thought it would help me get on track with running.  It did, and then I got a raging bronchitis for 6 weeks and lost all my training.  Gulp.

Do I need a goal race?

Since I started running regularly, I’ve always had a goal race – something to focus my training and keep me motivated when life got busy, the weather got crappy, or I just started feeling a little burnout.  For lifting, I can keep on track if I choose strength goals or simply latch onto a progressive program.  Right now, though, I’m wondering if I need more – at least for running.

And, don’t get my wrong – my workouts are going well.  I’m stronger than ever (including before my injury) and enjoying my runs.  But, I’m getting an itch.  I feel like I need a running program.  It keeps things fresh, and helps me push myself.  Without a program, I usually run 2-3 miles on specific routes in my neighborhood.  WITH a program, I am forced to progress (and also to find new and interesting places to run!).

But then the questions start – should I sign up for a race?  If so, what?  I would love to run the Nike Half in October, but I’m not sure if finances will allow for travel to San Francisco.  I could also run the Rock and Roll half in Providence with my sister.  Or, I could try a 5k or 10k – there are appealing options (read: fun) for each distance on October 4.  So, what to do?

This is something I will be turning around in my head for the next few weeks.  On one hand, I love having a race to keep me honest.  On the other, it is nice to not be stressing about a race!  In the meantime, I’ll keep training.

Oh, and good news – Jeb has decided to start running.  We run together, which is great for me.  Even though my endurance is much better than his, he is naturally faster than me so my runs with him end up being great workouts (almost like a speed session)!

 

So, what do you think?  Race, or no race?

Bash Bish Falls State Park

In the same area as Mt. Everett (the Mount Washington State Reservation), there are multiple state parks.  The day we hiked Mt. Everett, we didn’t have time to check out any of the surrounding parks, but we were pretty curious about Bash Bish Falls State Park.  According to the website, Bash Bish Falls is the largest single drop waterfall in Massachusetts (yes, I know – not saying much).  While the falls were nice, we also really loved some of the surrounding trails.

There are two parking areas – one in MA and one in NY.  These parking areas are only about a mile apart, and I highly recommend checking out both areas.  The hike down to the falls from the MA lot is very steep and strenuous, but there is also a short, steep hike UP from the parking lot to a scenic viewing area.  We liked the view so much that we went back again just after sunset to take another look.

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Same view, but sunset!

Same view, but sunset!

There was also a small trail off to the side of the parking lot that led down to the river (not sure what it is called, but it’s the one that feeds into the Falls).  No one else was down there, and we really enjoyed the quiet!  There’s nothing like the sound of rushing water for stress relief – plus, the dogs liked swimming in the calmer areas.

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After a couple hours hanging out by the river, we drove over to the NY parking area and hiked about a mile uphill to the falls.  It was a nice, relaxing hike with a wide and smooth trail.  We had to cross the state line (back into MA) to get back to the falls, and were excited to find that we were the only people there.  Apparently, the falls are very crowded in the summer, but it was quiet when we were there – likely because it was 7 p.m.!

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All-in-all, we had a great day!  The hiking wasn’t overly strenuous, which was relaxing (in a way), but we were rewarded for our efforts.  Plus, the dogs had a great time, and I had some fun playing with my camera!

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Snagged Some Sun

It has been raining here lately… a lot!  Normally, I like a bit of rain (hell, I used to live in Ireland – if you don’t like rain there, you’re screwed!).  I’ve also appreciated that there haven’t been too many oppressively hot days yet this summer. And, every day hasn’t been rainy (just most of them!) – we got in a hike on Sunday (during a quick reprieve from the rain), and have been less distracted by outdoor adventures enough that we’ve found time to go to the movies.  We saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness, and liked them both.   BUT, I’ve been lame and have not been running in the rain.  

Now, don’t get me wrong – I often really enjoy running in the rain, but I haven’t been feeling it (or any of the hassles that come along with wet clothes and gear!) and am really trying to keep things simple this summer.  So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been focusing on my lifting (cross-training) and yoga.  

Today, though, we had sun for about 4 hours (yippie!), so Wendy and I scooted out for an easy 3-mile run around the neighborhood.  It was nice.  Lifting is really helping with my running.  While my calves were screaming (as they always do when I take a break from running – even if only for a week), the rest felt great.  The same pace requires less effort – so, what would have been a really tough gut-busting workout has now become a relaxed run.  Why, oh why, did I put off getting back under the bar?!?!

When we got home, I had a nice glass of chocolate milk and read a magazine on the deck until the clouds came back!  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! 🙂