Travel Tuesday: Pre-Roman Britain

Unlike previous trip recaps, my 2018 England trip is not going to be chronological but rather thematic. My trip was rather hap hazard and doing a day by day travelog just won’t work.  I’d like to think they’ll take up the next Tuesdays and Thursday as Travel Tuesday or Throwback Thursday, but I know my own blogging habits to know that probably isn’t realistic. Also, this stupid Flickr plugin is still misbehaving.

Other Write-Ups To Come:

  • London’s Churches: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey
  • London’s Castles and Palaces: Buckingham, Kensington and the Tower of London
  • Walking London
fun with filters

“Two legends are wound about Avalon, the legend of the Cup and the legend of the Sword – the cup from which Our Lord drank at the Last Supper, and in which the drops of His Blood were caught; and Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, engraved with ancient pagan runes. Two traditions meet in Avalon – the ancient faith of the Britons, and the creed of Christ.” ~ Dion Fortune

I knew when this trip came together that I really wanted to do Stonehenge. Like Rushmore last year, I accepted that it would probably be a let down, but it fascinated me. After some research I booked a tour with International Friends that took in both Stonehenge and Glastonbury. The original plan included Winchester but they had to adjust that due to access issues, and Avebury ended up being way more interesting than Winchester would have been.

Why did I go for one that included Glastonbury vs. say, Bath, Windsor, Oxford or the Cotswolds? In short: I have a soft spot for the legends and tales around King Arthur and while I know that Glastonbury’s ties are considered iffy with recent research-not to mention that it’s hard to visit the site of a legend-I still wanted to see it since it was reasonably accessible.

The night before this trip left, I realized I probably should do some reading on Stonehenge and a perusal of NYPL’s Kindle offerings introduced me to Francis Pryor’s Stonehenge: the Story of a Sacred Landscape. I was subsequently pleased to see that and one of his other titles for sale in the English Heritage gift shop at Stonehenge, therefore lending some legitimacy to a book I was enjoying. I didn’t finish it on time, but learned a lot: my review. Speaking of books at Stonehenge’s gift shop, I didn’t buy this Oxford Guide to Arthurian Legends because the font was way too small, and now I find it’s not available for Kindle. Or Nook. First world bookworm problems!

Monday morning started early and I met the bus at Marble Arch. We made two other stops to pick up others on the tour and I was thrilled we were not only a small vehicle, but that we were only seven people. It made everything a lot more efficient time wise, and more accessible. It also felt like a private tour in some ways because the guide got to know each of us, and what we were interested in learning more about. He’s lived & guided in a number of locations worldwide so it helped him contextualize some of the sights we were visiting.

The first stop just minutes away from Stonehenge was Woodhenge, with which I was completely unfamiliar. It was helpful though in teaching us about the Stonehenge Avenue, Cursus and other key features of the landscape that explain how Stonehenge isn’t “just” a circle of rocks. I think that’s what leaves people walking away unimpressed. Key to understanding Stonehenge is understanding why it was constructed and what role it was meant to play for those who lived and made pilgrimages to it. As a circle of stones, it may not mean enough for people considering the travel time from London, but as a place of cultural significance? Absolutely.  Beware of some serious woo out there when researching Stonehenge.

first sighting
Heel stone with winter solstice arrow

As a tourism professional, I love how they’ve set up the Stonehenge experience. They closed one of the major roads and run access to the Stones via shuttle buses (or a walking path) from the Visitor Center. I think it makes the first viewing even more awe-inspiring. It’s also much more pleasant to walk around the circle without high traffic, although there’s still a road that goes fairly close. I’m glad we were there early in the morning as there was no wait for the shuttles, which wasn’t the case when it was time to leave. Although I think the Stones might have been more striking against a blue sky, the overcast seemed to lend an aura of mystique to them and allowed the different textures, heights and scale to show more. While it’s true that Stonehenge imagery is saturated, it was still great to see them live. Other companies run tours where you can go in early or stay late, and I’m not sure that’s of interest to me – it would be a very long drive only to do Stonehenge. That said, sunrise or sunset at the right time of year could be pure magic.

National Trust sign near lot adjacent to the Tor
Glastonbury Tor, remains of St. Michael’s Church

From Stonehenge it was a long-ish drive to Glastonbury, reported to be a very hippie town. I actually didn’t find it overwhelmingly so. Our first stop was Glastonbury Tor, just outside town. It’s run by the National Trust who share some of the legends about the Tor. On some level, the ties between Arthur make historical sense, especially the Tor and the adjacent Somerset Levels’ flooding throughout history. Do I believe King Arthur was literally a man who walked the soil of early Britain? No. Do I understand where the legend/fairy tale could come from and survive? Yes. The setting is perfect for these stories. And who doesn’t love a good fairy tale?

Chalice Well Gardens

Arthur isn’t the only story with ties to the region. Chalice Well is claimed to be the place where Joseph of Arimathea brought the chalice from the Last Supper. I’m not a Christian, so it isn’t my place to judge a religion that isn’t mine’s history – but I’m more than a little confused how this man would have ended up in the English countryside. Northern Spain along the Camino de Santiago, or somewhere in the Mediterranean? Sure. I’m a little iffy on England.  And yes, I drank the kool aid err… iron water. A week later, I’m still breathing. It tasted better than Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth which was more sulphury. Still, it was an interesting piece of history to learn about and pilgrims continue to come to Glastonbury for both of these as well as for the stunning remains of the Abbey in town.

Great Hall, Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Abbey ruins

Like the rest of Glastonbury, the ruins of the Abbey are tied up in a mix of history and legend. Do I believe Edward I oversaw the reburial of Arthur and Lady Guinevere? No. But tourism was understood to bring money throughout history so I can see why that story was promoted. As someone familiar with and interested in the legends around Arthur, I’m confused how they were ever buried since it’s alleged that the Lady of the Lake took him… But I digress. What stunned me about the Abbey was its construction. It’s not like the contemporary churches where we understood how they were built. This, the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge… just how did they construct these? How did they reach such great heights? It must have been stunning prior to the fire. And the recent research around the glass found at the Abbey site is phenomenal. Whatever the myths and legends around Glastonbury, it was active and thriving until the Dissolution. Impossible not to think of what could have been.

While I’m not Christian (or Pagan), I’m fascinated by myths, legends and religious histories so I was happy to find Glastonbury: Avalon of the Heart available in Kindle edition through NYPL. Unfortunately it was a little too heavy on the woo for me, presenting some of these stories as literal fact. I’m not sure if that was the author’s bent or just a factor of it having been published in 1934, but it didn’t complement my experience the way Pryor’s Stonehenge book did. To be fair, a number of the reviews clearly said this wasn’t the book for skeptics. We didn’t have time to climb the Tor, but this is an interesting look at it and I found it more accessible as it was steeped somewhat in facts and history to go with the myths.

Although I’m a non believer, I found Glastonbury fascinating. In many ways, it’s how I felt about Israel when I went. Was there a King Herod?  Maybe. Masada is a stunning fortress regardless. The other tie between the two that fascinated me was linguistically: Tor was a hill and when we were in northern Israel we learned that “Armageddon” comes from Har/Tel Meggido an archaeological mound. I’m not at all familiar with Celtic or Hebrew, but that caught my attention immediately.

Avebury: for scale
Avebury perimeter

The tour originally called for Winchester, but when the guide explained the access challenges and the fact that the round table has been proven to be an reconstruction, we were all sold on Avebury as a replacement. It is no loss, it’s the largest Stone Circle in Britain and surreally empty, save for sheep. I’d heard of Silbury Hill, which we saw on the drive in, but the only stone circle I was familiar with prior was Stonehenge. It was amazing to see the scale of Avebury’s, and to be able to walk among them. While the perimeter was a clearly delineated line, the other stones appear haphazard but it may have originally been a square formation. While current research leads to the belief that Stonehenge was associated with death rituals, it is believed that Avebury was associated with fertility. Both of those make sense within Pryor’s point that religion played a larger role in the prehistoric people’s lives, and the artifacts that seem to show that no one lived permanently at either location but traveled to them.

If this were my tour to design, I’d flip Avebury and Stonehenge. I understand why that isn’t done — the crowds at Stonehenge would be insane on a nice summer afternoon — I think there’s a lot to absorb at Avebury that would be easier to take in on a fresher brain. Maybe that’s just me. We didn’t visit the museum or any of the other National Trust facilities, and I’m not sure I’d go back in order to do so-but I’d love to learn more about the site since it’s so complex.

Overall, a great intro to/refresher on pre-Roman Britain. Pre historic as a term drives me nuts. You can’t be pre history!

London Calling, weeks of 8.12, 8.19

So London was meant to be part of an organized runcation, but that didn’t get the minimum number of people to go forward. By the time it was cancelled I already had the time off work and the itch to go to London for the first time in 17 years-not counting a layover 11 years ago- and I decided why not.  I’m an obsessive trip planner and immediately hit up a Google map. Grown ups think of literature based London prompts. Me? All nursery rhymes. I had Pussycat, pussycat in my head throughout. I also picked up a London version of the Moleskine City books and while I didn’t use the features for which I bought it: the maps, I really loved it for making trips before and during the trip.

While I was unsure about pre-booking a run tour I hit up Strava for a couple of routes including a River Thames sightseeing loop, a 6-7 mile run of the Royal Parks, and Regent’s Park/Primrose Hill for the views.

More to come on the London front in another (series of) posts. In the mean time, weekly wrap catch up. I’ll do what I can to catch up on reading as well.

Weekly Wrap with Holly and Wendy:

Week of 8.12:

  • Monday:  for the first time in a while #NeverMissAMonday was running based. I had an epic case of do not wanna and had to literally bribe myself to get an additional quarter mile from miles 1-3. Some things never change. I did the same workout as this Monday and came in about thirteen seconds faster. I alternated quarter miles at 5.5 with 6.3 with .05 miles of walking at 3.3 after each 6.3 segment. The walk segments were consistently shorter and the running quarter mile segments didn’t fluctuate in speed.
  • Tuesday: was supposed to be a cross training day, but I was at the office late getting some deadline items done and really needed to pack for London, so it turned into a rest day. I also think four days in a row was not a smart plan with the distances I wanted to do to run/sightsee in London.
  • Wednesday: finally got the chance to meet Darlene who seems to run here as much as I do, despite not living in the city. It was a beautiful evening with relatively little humidity and we had a comfortable run/walk through Central Park. Other than office run group I don’t typically run with others, so this was good practice in running at a conversational pace. Not linking Strava because holy hell did my watch have a hissy fit or six.
  • Thursday: office run group and my watch worked! Alas it was 85+ and 60% humidity so we weren’t setting any land speed records. Still nice to catch up with some folks between vacations.
  • Friday: London bound!
  • Saturday: I wanted to shake off the plane stiffness and explore a little so I’d be tired enough to go to sleep on London time. The training plan called for 8 and I got in 9.10 photo taking, sightseeing miles. It was super crowded by the Eye and across Tower Bridge as I took the very long way from my hotel to Buckingham Palace via a version of the Thames Path above. Couldn’t get Strava to work properly offline, but it was easy enough to follow the riverside paths. London is a great running city.
  • Sunday: no running, but sightseeing took in 12.38 miles, so I’m not calling that a rest day!

Week of 8.19

Some of this fell under Saturday and Sunday, above, but it’s still insane to look at. When I left for London I’d walked about 238K steps on the month, run 30 miles and run walked 112. I ran/walked 89.31 miles, ran 20.56 miles in the UK. Most insanely? 204, 202 fitbit steps! There’s a chance for my third 500K step month. I was 13 miles off my 700 miles on the year pace when I left and less than five off when I got back. What did that look like? Note: some of these links are more London sightseeing than running photos. Assume I’m forgiven 😀

  • Monday: my only true rest day. I’d booked a day trip to Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Winchester (which turned into Avebury) and there was a lot of driving. It also left really early and wrapped with dinner with two wonderful friends. Fell asleep before I could hit my step goal, hysterical compared to the other days
  • Tuesday: back in London and a short-ish morning run on the Thames before ten more miles of walking exploring Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the British Museum.
  • Wednesday: traveled to Birmingham to meet Liz! We met through Bookcrossing shortly after I joined in 2005 and just missed one another in Iceland last February, but the stars aligned and we planned a visit while I was in the UK. I got a little of my typical first meeting jitters, but those were gone as soon as we met at the train station and as long as we were awake, we didn’t shut up for the entirety of my visit. So amazing when someone is just as fun live as online. No running today, but we explored architecturally fascinating Birmingham and I got to see Dippy! Dinosaurs turn me from 38 to 3. We also walked some of the canals Liz ran along during her race a couple weeks back. The day finished in both book swapping and running form when we had a lovely curry with running bookworms. So much fun.
as we took off down the block
Post-run selfie!
  • Thursday: we got to run together! Cool, drizzly, refreshing run. Liz took me on a tour of her area, which I’d seen through her blog and a photography project which she’s participated in for five years. Great to see it in 3D. I had a good laugh though, Liz was way better about pausing her watch to cross streets, etc. and I’ve mostly just written that off as slow downs. Yet Strava gave me a better pace than it did her. Strava, you’re drunk. Here’s Liz’s wrap, which also includes our run. When I first started blogging about running it was just a diary for myself, then I either linked Liz or she found it and started reading. She introduced me to the Runners’ Bookshelf where I met Wendy, who introduced me to this linkup.  Life is good! I also now have a buff from Liz’s running club, so cool. Over the years we’ve had various discussions on American v. British English terms for things. When she first mentioned a buff, I had no idea what it was. Turned out it was less American v. British and more running English. Oh the jargon, although that really isn’t one.

After running, we headed to explore Stratford-Upon-Avon (where else could two book lovers go?!) Rejuvenated after the train ride back to London, I decided to take advantage of St. Paul’s summer late hours and was treated to an amazing sunset. 6 AM run, gorgeous sunset. Why yes I am trying to pack in all the sightseeing!

  • Friday: last full day in London and the only part of it that I’m willing to call a rest day is the boat ride to Greenwich after doing the Tower of London. Or possibly the 15m squiz back to my hotel to charge my phone before heading to Tate Modern and dinner with a friend who I worked with in Japan 17 years ago. Another 11 miles walking day. See what I mean? Not a rest day.
  • Saturday: knew I had to leave for the airport around 10:30 so I headed out for a farewell run of London. It was a beautiful 60 and crisp. Had to abandon my usual shade running for warmth until I warmed up. It was in three parts (1,2,3) as I also did a few pre-flight errands. Wasn’t long run mileage, but better than nothing and helped me be tired enough to doze on the long flight home. Thanks to AA rebooking I was able to get a direct flight home and was tucked in bed before original connection was to take off. Life is good sometimes.
stocked smoothie fridge
oh hello beautiful East River. I missed you!
  • Sunday: I was actually not up too early time zone wise, but arranged for grocery delivery between 6 and 8AM. Why the urgency? I had no creamer for my coffee. Wasn’t supposed to be an issue as with planned connection I’d have overnighted at mom’s.  Since I was up and it was beautiful, I decided to go for a run to shake out the legs. It also looked to be the last good outdoor running day as it’s to be in the 90s all week. Yuck. The run was OK (I was tired) until my water bottle fell. I thought I hadn’t fastened the top loop. Nope, bottom came undone. I guess it’s to be expected with the weight of a 20 oz bottle bouncing up and down. When I looked up my orders, I realized I bought it on August 24, so it’s older than I thought. Time to find a new one and maybe make peace with icky, dirty reusable bottles. Any favorite hydration belts? Can’t use a backpack as they’re not allowed in NYRR races, which are most of what I do. Also, think the straw would gross me out too much. I ran a little more but had nothing left in me, so met mom for brunch got some girly girl things done and came home to crash.
farewell fair belt!

All in all an amazing trip, and great exercise week. I came home weighing less than when I left, and so many memories. More TK. Although I didn’t end up booking a running tour due to my schedule, I’d recommend London as an active vacation spot. England marked the 4th country outside the US that I’ve run in, 2nd outdoors.

Total 10M Training Mileage, July 31 to date: 55.77 miles.

TOTR: How Running Changed Me

How Running Changed Me: perhaps the biggest way it changed me is that I truly enjoy the gym.

Linking up with: Erika at MCM Mama, Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and Patty at No Guilt Life. And if anyone in the linkup knows where to find the prompts ahead of time, I’d love the link. I was lucky with this one, I spotted Darlene’s preview. ETA: Upcoming topics here.

When my gym closed to the public last summer, I knew I needed to find another perfect gym because I really wanted to keep up the running. When I look back at the pros and cons I identified almost exactly a year later, they still hold true. I want running to be a part of my daily life, and it is. That was never true of the gym before. I didn’t mind going, but didn’t exactly look forward to it, if that makes sense. There have been many times over the last year and a half that I was antsy for a run later in the day or wished I was running. I just printed out my gym visits for March – August and I’m at 64. Well above the 50 threshold which I used to have to stretch to get. When I look back at February’s claim, that was 63. A for consistency!

Running is my therapy is an oft-used cliché, but for me it’s personally true. I love that time & space after work or before morning meetings to decompress.  While I do listen to music, I also use the time to think. This was especially helpful last December during our busy time. While my training wasn’t what I wanted it to be, I got there and I think the running helped me get through the really long hours that our fundraiser entails.

Running is my happy hour also fits me perfectly. I mostly don’t drink** (zero tolerance, never really found a drink I thought was worth the calories), and even in our thirties so many events still revolve around happy hours and drinks. Running has enabled me to meet some fun people in different situations: a beginners’ run group that has mostly faded away but through which I met some fun folks; our office Thursday run group; the folks at Team MHRC; the Run the Year community; and of course all of you. Hoping to meet more of you “live” in the coming months and years. Running has also allowed me to connect with friends and colleagues in different ways. I had no idea they were runners, or knew but we didn’t have that to talk about because I wasn’t. ** That said, if you’re buying me a drink, I do love a frozen margarita. Extra salt.

Running has also made me truly understand food as fuel. I learned early on that what I ate truly impacted how I felt when I ran and have tried to fine tune that over the last year. I’ve also learned that eating better in general makes me feel better. Is it perfect? No. Monday’s run was a hot mess after a salad, but I wanted both a run and a salad. While running isn’t about weight loss, I’ve found that maintaining the loss is easier with running than other forms of exercise and I do think I’ll eventually get through this plateau.

smiling among the palm trees
I ran in a skirt?

Running has brought out the girly girl in me. I’m generally not a fan of pink. I don’t wear makeup and currently have 2-3 inch grey roots out of an agreement with my doctor to see if 22 years of dye is causing hair loss.  I prefer flat sandals to heels and dresses? Well I’ve worn one twice this year which might be a record. Running? All bets are off. I even ran in a skirt although that particular one is out of rotation as its shorts ride up like crazy.

Running has taught me that my body is in some ways a machine. Maybe not yet an efficient one, but it can do so much more than I ever anticipated, which I touched on after my second half marathon. And yes, that still sounds insane to say. I know I’ll never be skinny, and running has taught me to accept that. I may not be athletic-I’m not putting myself down, I’m just not good at sports-but I have an athlete’s body. I am an athlete. I am a runner.

I think I have a lot more to learn from running, but really appreciate what it has taught me in the last eighteen months.

Looking forward to reading your stories.

#ReadySweatGo to Vermont, Week of 8.6

I’m not original, #ReadySweatGo is a hashtag my gym has been using for their free personal trainer mini sessions. But like #NeverMissAMonday, it’s a good one. I was so looking forward to some cooler runs on vacation this week. This is equal parts weekly wrap and vacation blog, since there’s zero chance of both getting written up this week so pardon the Vermont interruption.

Also happy to hit 400 miles for Run the Year. Something nice about hitting it in an atypical run location. I’m ~17 miles off pace for the 700 mile goal, but I think it’s possible to pick that up as I ramp up my training for fall, so I’m not too concerned.

While I’m oh so glad to be off racing until September 30 for the Bronx 10 Mile, I’m loving seeing runs in my training calendar err Runkeeper app so I know what I’m “supposed” to be doing. Why am I doing Runkeeper and not modified Hal? His Novice program seems too easy, and the intermediate is harder than I’m ready for. I’m definitely going to incorporate his cross training elements into what Runkeeper prescribes, which is as follows (I have no idea where they get the times from):

RunKeeper’s training plan

Like everyone else, not looking forward to the weather. I think the various linkup hosts should issue us a challenge, blog without using the word humid. So how did I do?

Weekly Wrap:

linking up with Wendy and Holly:

  • Monday: I was sore from Sunday’s hills. I didn’t take an Advil as I probably should have, and didn’t sleep well due to the heat. I felt better as the day went on and knew some activity would help. A 5K row followed by a long stretch and foam roll session hit the spot. Guess that hits Hal’s 35m cross train? As it’s August and all the reasons from last year still apply, the price of laziness came into play. Normally I’d grab the bus home from the gym, but it was “only” 86 degrees by 8:30 so I decided to walk. Nice 15K step day to start the week off.
Home away from home for the week
View from fitness center
  • Tuesday: travel day. I flew into Burlington and after spending the late morning/early afternoon exploring Church Street and having lunch, we headed up to Stowe, our home away from home for the week. Family had driven up over the weekend and my nephew, 3, was happy to give me a tour. What a gorgeous area! I’d been to Vermont before, but only Middlebury and Burlington, never had chance to explore the mountains. While I had no intention of running indoors, it was great to see the fitness center had such a stunning view and was relatively well equipped. Alas, it closed at 9 and we didn’t make it back from dinner and hunting sunsets until 8:45 ish so no formal exercise to speak of. I was also tired from a 5A wake up to get to the airport.
400! #RunTheYear miles


Corn mazes are A THING. We thought we’d never get out
  • Wednesday: benefit of rooming with a three year old? You’re up early. I took advantage of that and headed out to explore some of Trapp Family Lodge’s trails. Although it was a blissful 68, it was nearly 100% humidity with the thick fog. Fox Track was single track, rocky and muddy so after that first mile I headed down to the wider and better graded Sugar Road for a safer run. It’s not that the fall made me afraid of trail running, I’m just not experienced in them at all. It’s not just that I’m new to trail running, hiking was never really a thing I did before so trails wholly unfamiliar. I still enjoyed the meander, even if I came in short of the distance I was supposed to run. I had a thought of going to the treadmill for some more mileage but a couple was running a half marathon on them, although they offered to stop if someone needed, and I decided I’d rather stretch and head to breakfast.

After breakfast, we decided to check out the corn maze, something we’d never done before. I think I can honestly say we’d never do it again either. No shame, we ended up calling the stand and asking for directions out. It was surprisingly warm and sunny after the cool morning, and corn paths are just hot!

  • Thursday: I wanted to run outside, but wasn’t sure the trails would be any less muddy after Wednesday evening’s rains. I was also eager to see more of the Rec trail after seeing a short piece of it when headed to the corn maze so I decided to run into town for breakfast. The road from the Trapp Family Lodge into downtown Stowe drops about 700 feet in altitude, although it’s curved so it doesn’t feel that steep. There’s no sidewalk and not much of a shoulder to speak of, so pace was definitely impacted by making sure cars saw me in the curves. I was pleased to see that Chase Park, about halfway into town, provided an entrance to the Rec Path so I could run without traffic. Although it was a beautiful if overcast morning, the rec trail wasn’t in heavy use. I slightly overshot breakfast so had to double back. Luckily the Vermont mountain dress code appears to be active wear, so no one batted an eye at my attire at the B&B where I enjoyed lox and scrambled eggs. Is there any better post-run meal? This run was really only doable for me since I had a lift back up to the lodge – there’s no way I could have done the round trip run.

After a shower we went to meet everyone else for an exploration of Smugglers’ Notch State Park/Smugglers Cave. This is one of the ways running really changed me-I was excited for an active vacation and scrambling up damp rocks didn’t really faze me, other than a concern of falling. I bought these amazing shoes a few weeks ago and they were perfect for Vermont-more support than flip flops but not as hot as sneakers. This is definitely not something I’d have done before, or if I did so grudgingly, I wouldn’t have been looking forward to it. While skiing still has no appeal to me and there’s not enough money in the world to get me on a zipline, I really appreciated Stowe as an outdoor sports mecca and might have enjoyed more time there. I also love finding ways to explore my vacation destination via running. I’m glad to see that Darlene was a week ahead with that prompt, as it’s something I want to explore and might have time to write this week.

rowing with a view!
never too old for swings!
  • Friday: one of those days where I wish I could run three days in a row because it was a crystal clear almost chilly mountain morning. Instead I headed for the fitness center for a few minutes on the treadmill and a 3K row on their ancient machine. Oh how I appreciate the padding on the newer Ergs. Before heading to the airport, got in some quality playground time with my nephew. Contrary to what the three year old believes, you’re never too old for the swings. Coupled with some airport steps and the commute home from JFK, I hit my step goal just barely.


  • Saturday: so glad I finally set up my tablet since we were under flash flood and severe weather alerts. Woke at 8a to one hell of a thunderstorm and promptly rolled back over.  Had nothing on the calendar beyond housekeeping and catching up on email, so no need to get out early. I wasn’t sure about 6.5 or 8 to catch up on this week’s missed mileage plus increase on last week’s race/long run. The answer? 6.04 ugly miles. I finally got moving around 4 and by the time I got to the gym, it was 5:15 and I forgot they close at 7 on Saturdays. Oops.

The run ended up split in two parts because I was more thirsty than normal and had to refill my water bottle, during which the paused treadmill re-set. Part 1 was much stronger, although I was struggling to maintain a typical pace. Part 2 went off the rails and I made myself do speed intervals to counter the walk breaks I was taking. It was all mental, it wasn’t a physical struggle. I know these days happen, I just pushed through as best I could. Episodes of HAPPY and SVU helped to distract me slightly.  For some reason, the audio from the tablet via my Aftershokz wasn’t as good as run watch to Aftershokz and I was forced to use my old bluetooth headphones and was quickly reminded of why I switched. Sweaty, gross and did not stay put. Clearly, need to find a better solution, although I hope not to have to do too many long runs indoors. The reason I didn’t get 6.5 is I wanted a good stretch/foam roll before the gym closed as I’d been feeling the effects of not stretching after Thursday’s run.

I won’t lie – I also bribed myself with food. For $ reasons, I’ve been trying to cut back on weekend sushi and limit it to race days. But I said if I got six, I’d let myself have sushi tonight. Helped that I really didn’t have any other options in the house and I knew I still wanted the protein. Food reward is not ideal, but I don’t think sushi is the worst of choices. It was truly what I craved, and I let myself have it. My love of sushi is one of many reasons I could never manage a pregnancy.

  • Sunday: rest day. Body needed it – a week’s worth of dampness is wreaking havoc on my knee, and I’m tired. Also needed to take care of some errands. Being that it’s New York, that still meant 8,500 steps. 😮


nom nom nom. Note: some were shared dishes

Overall, happy with the active choices I made on vacation. I didn’t let vacation get in the way of exercise and added a new state. Eating could have been way better, but I don’t regret a single bite. Actually, I lie. I regret Friday’s carb bomb and I think that’s probably part of why I struggled Saturday. By the time I got to the airport for my flight, I was craving protein. Alas BTV offerings were slim as were JetBlue’s in flight for a super short flight. I did not help matters by getting Subway for dinner. But overall, choices were good as seafood options abounded. Dinner entrees were cod, ahi tuna and salmon. Desserts were small and I was active. I was catching up on my Runner’s World newsletters this weekend after catching up on past issues on the flight and this came up. It’s true for me. Running is allowing me to maintain, but this ~six month plateau is less plateau and more poor eating choices. Going to fix this in the coming months.

While Stowe wasn’t previously on my radar, I loved it. Easy place for an active or do-nothing vacation, fun downtown shops and one bookstore! I’ve actually never seen Sound of Music, so some of the von Trapp family history was new to me. If the trails had been less muddy I might have gone up to the chapel. I’d definitely love to return in fall, which I imagine is closer to peak. What surprised me vs. other places we’ve vacationed in summer is it wasn’t crazy. At most we waited 5M for a table at dinner and it appeared all of the hotels had vacancy. It didn’t seem to be suffering a downturn, but rather summer is their slower season. You couldn’t pay me enough to drive up to The Notch in winter conditions, though I’d happily enjoy the snowy scenes from the hot tub. It’s not particularly accessible if you don’t drive, but you can probably get an uber from Burlington if no one can pick you up.

Plan for This Week:

  • Monday: Run
  • Tuesday: Cross Train
  • Wednesday: Run with Darlene!
  • Thursday: Office Run Group
  • Friday: Fly

10M Training Mileage, July 31 to date: 25.73

#GoTheDist July 2018

Where on earth did July go?

A theme for the month was quality over quantity. Although I fell off pace on run mileage due to plantar fascitis flare and my first running fall, I had some really good workouts. I made it to the gym thirteen times I listened to my body and easing up on running was not an excuse not to work out, except when I truly needed rest days. I swear, giving up on the daily step goal was truly a relief from over stressing about it. I’ve always operated better with monthly goals anyway. Speaking of monthly, I love how Strava displays monthly stats. Awesome graphic.

I am insanely happy how the speed training went, even if it didn’t go fully as planned. I picked up ten seconds a mile and year on year is just mind-blowing. I am most definitely going to incorporate speed work into fall training. More on that below.

I find berry too sweet, but it’s certainly more visually appealing than chocolate, peanut butter banana!

I also did mostly well with my eating. While I don’t deal well with the weight loss social media cliché pizza doesn’t taste as good as skinny feels (Yes. Yes it does, sometimes better), pizza plus the puffiness at that time of the month does not taste as good. So that’s my interim goal: no pizza that week. I was up 3 “pounds” Tuesday. I’m a daily weigher so I’m used to those swings, but it’s a good reminder that some choices aren’t good ones.

On the plus side from last week, I heard back re: the Sarah Marie Design Studio shirt and I’ll be able to exchange it for size. Yay, because I really loved it

Manhattan 7 Mile Run

Race day prep!

I was 100% not feeling this race. The distance, the weather forecast, all the hills. To be honest, until I actually started I wasn’t sure I was going to. I could not get out of my head this week. Optimistically, I got ready last night. Knowing it was going to be in the 80s with about the same humidity, I froze a Propel and got my semi-traditional long race meal of avocado toast. This was from Just Salad and not LPQ, hence the fried onion and buffalo sauce. This was less about traditional meal and more about what it wasn’t too hot to eat.

I was late getting to bed, and around 12:45 I had a realization that my half-hearted flat Cari didn’t have a sports bra and I wasn’t sure one was clean/dry. I’m not sure what time I finally fell asleep. The alarm went off at 6:30 and while I waited through the snooze window, I questioned whether I really wanted to do this. I finally got up and going  and headed out the door around 7:15.

The humidity hit me as soon as I walked out the door- 72 and 83% humidity did not make for a good run to the start. If I couldn’t do ~1.25 miles easily, how was I going to do 7? My only plan for the day was to listen to my body and I was OK with the fact that that might not mean finishing, smiling or otherwise. The only goal I was even sort of kicking around was to beat the first time I tackled all of Central Park’s hills: 1:32:45 which I’d rounded down to 1:30.

a finish line I didn’t think I’d see at the end
at least the Park looked pretty!

As I made my way from the 72nd Street Transverse to the start I really listened to the emcee who was cautioning that it was hot and humid and they’d raised the race alert to Moderate. That was reassuring, it wasn’t just going to be me struggling out there. They reinforced that we should listen to our bodies and walk when needed. That reinforced my race strategy: walk the water stations and the hills if needed. In addition to the frozen Propel, I had a bottle of water which I’d finished before even starting the race. That was … different.

This was a rolling start and we were off quickly, I think I crossed the start around 8:05. Mile one felt good, although I had a feeling I’d gone out too fast. Mile 2? Water station and Cat Hill, although I was able to run it. I was actually feeling pretty good until the 5K marker, when I decided to walk the Harlem Hill. I actually tried to start running sooner but legs wouldn’t go and I ended up walking almost .4 mile. I was far from the only one. I actually ended up with a run/walk for most of the second half, running when I could and walking when I couldn’t. For the first time in a long time-probably since the last awfully hot race-I was drinking from my now thawed Propel between water stations. At mile six I decided I wanted to try and run the whole of the last mile, but I just couldn’t. My legs were sore from the hills/heat and so I walked until the final .25 mile or so. I was so glad to see Barbara-one of the regular finish line volunteers, Peter Ciaccia’s forever smiling face, and a frozen towel! Maybe not in that order 😀

It was a PR because I haven’t done 7 miles, but it wasn’t pretty. I did squeak in under 1:30:00 (NYRR official, 1:28:36) and I’m actually proud of the race. I didn’t let the heat beat me, and I listened to my body.

finish festival shenanigans

If I was able to smile and horse around at the finish line festival, did I have a little more in me to push harder? Probably, but today wasn’t going to be a “race” even if it was in fact a race. I know I don’t do well in heat, and wanted to be smart. I look at the splits and see what happened as it was, I think if I’d pressed I’d likely have DNFed.

I was in awe of people choosing to be out there who didn’t have the “I paid for this so” element. Some do better in heat, but still. If a run today were part of my training cycle, I’d probably have done it indoors. When I was thinking about this race this week I wondered what possessed me to sign up for an August run, and then I realized it was probably before I realized that I hate the 10K distance and definitely when the plan for summer was to stay in Half Marathon shape. Oops. That said, my fitness wasn’t the issue, it was the heat and humidity. At race’s end it was 83 and “only” 64% humidity. Gross.

This was my last race for summer and I’m oh so glad. I am over the summer heat. It’s part of why I’m leaning yes on the marathon question because as I mentioned to Darlene in the comments, there’s no guarantee my schedule would let me get 9+1 again in next year for 2020.  I’m not sure I even want to race in July and August, and while I know summer marathon training won’t be easy, I think the NYRR group runs are a different feel to races, and I could time shift/move indoors/run in shade if the heat is really bad.

For now, I’m hydrating and hibernating in AC until I take myself for a pre-vacation pedi.

Weekly Wrap

Linking up with Wendy and Holly as per usual:

  • Sunday, 5K PR! Rewarded for fighting past my inner sloth
  • Monday: my knee was pretty sore from Sunday’s effort, most likely the hill so I dubbed it a cross train day. When I got to the gym the three rowers were in use so I did 16m/one mile on the LateralX which felt really good. Amazing how this doesn’t bother my knee the way the standard elliptical does. Followed that up with a 5K row. I was so happy to be able to grip the rower again because I really do love this.
  • Tuesday: Treadmill PR! As I mentioned Monday, I wanted to do a treadmill 5K to officially close out July’s speedwork since the base run was a treadmill one.  I went to the gym without an exact plan, but 5.8 felt right. The first .05 was harder than I expected since this particular sports bra isn’t ideal for period related tenderness, but I pushed through. At 2.88 I went up to 6.0 and when I realized that wasn’t going to get me the PR, I went to 6.2 for the last .13. I don’t think that’s cheating-it’s like a closing kick for a race. I think I could have done 6.2 for the whole close. Strava called it 32:09 and therefore not a PR due to the way it credited me for Sunday’s pauses. Runkeeper called it 32:10, making it officially one second faster than Sunday. That of course doesn’t tell the full story, Sunday’s was a more difficult run with the ramps. But this made me happy because it told me that Sunday wasn’t just a PR due to watch blips-I really can run that speed. To me being able to repeat it is even more of an achievement than hitting the PR. I’m not going to pretend this run was cupcakes and roses, I was staring at the treadmill display as it creeped forward. I really need to set up my Kindle Fire as a distraction. I smiled when Dancing Through Life from Wicked came on, I do love dancing my 5Ks.
  • Wednesday: off. My knee needed a break even though it felt good, braced, on Tuesday. Trying hard not to push it, although hard not to start the month off strong. Lots of errands and walking home meant at least it was a 15K step day
  • Thursday: office run group. Was only two of us this week due to summer travel schedules. I was frustrated that I was struggling to keep up until I heard my colleague’s Apple watch chime mile one at 10:14. At 85 and 65% humidity it was way too hot for that pace. We slowed up a little on mile two when my watch finally woke up. I don’t know what it is with that entrance to Central Park and it not finding a signal. Our unofficial “coach” is an experienced marathoner so I really appreciated his tips, especially for tackling Cat Hill as Sunday’s race has Cat Hill, the Harlem Hills and the West Side Rollers.
  • Friday: it was all up in the air due to weather. After stopping by the NYRR Club Fair to visit the Mile High Run Club folks and finally get my 13.1 sticker(!), I ultimately ended up at the gym for a mile on the LateralX. Wanted to go longer but knee was starting to winge and didn’t want to push it. Had a good stretch after and some straight arm planks since forearm still off the table due to lingering bruise at the elbow. It’s crazy to think that this was almost a year ago: definite game changer in terms of shoes/injury, and taught me what I didn’t want in a club. I wasn’t even going to Mile High Run Club classes yet then, and a year later I’m running with them in NYRR club races 😮
  • Saturday: utter and complete rest day. Needed some me time after two busy weekends and with a family vacation on the books for the week. Picked up laundry, packed, straightened apartment, and relaxed. If not for needing to pick up my laundry, I’m not sure I’d have left the apartment. Once I did, I went to the Met to finally see the amazing Costume Institute show, Heavenly Bodies. Absolutely stunning. Even if I pay for this in monthly step totals, I don’t care. Sanity > steps.
  • Sunday: Manhattan 7 Miler.

GoTheDist Challenge:

GoTheDist July

  • Steps: 479, 901
  • Miles Run: 45.6
  • Miles Run/Walked: 207.38

GoTheDist 2018 YTD

  • Steps: 3,305,083
  • Miles Run: 389.92
  • Miles Run/Walked: 1444.13

I’m really happy with this. Yes, slightly off pace but a good month given I was walking wounded. August 2017 was my first 500K step month and I highly doubt August 2018 will be the 3rd. Hoping to come in between 450-475K despite vacation. One of which should have a ton of sightseeing steps and the other will hopefully have some good runs.

August Goals:

  • More of what I mentioned in the intro, keep up the good habits that are evolving. Primarily listen to my body.
  • I didn’t train specifically for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but rather used it as a long run because it was in the middle of my Brooklyn Half training. Oh and I knew I’d be taking 900,000 photos.  I started Runkeeper’s 10m training plan and plan to truly train for the Bronx and then maintain that for December’s 15K. I don’t have a goal yet as I want to see how the training goes, but I want it to be a strong race. 1:57:12 is my PR from my one and only ten mile run. Besides incorporating speed work as I mentioned above, this burst of speed work has taught me that while I still don’t have a 10K pace, I have a 5K pace and a half marathon pace so maybe that will help with workout quality.
  • Figure out my hills strategy! It’s ten months later and the intro to this post still holds true. Part of what I was dreading about the 7 Mile run even before the forecast turned August was that it had all of the Central Park Hills. In hindsight, that was obvious: there’s no other way to get 7 miles in the Park, but it hit me like a load of bricks. I want to do either Lebow again or the SHAPE Women’s Half, and probably the Mini again, so I need to face these hills. Back to Mile High Run Club?
  • Even though the gym visits won’t “count” as the new reimbursement window doesn’t start until September 1, keep up the solid attendance. This will be a mix of here & hotel gyms as I’m traveling. The $200 reimbursement is already earmarked to repay my savings from an amazing day trip while in London.

No precise run plans for this week due to vacation but hoping to get in some good runs especially if it’s cooler.