Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I conquered Croghan Mountain!

This morning at 8am, cousin Peter Byrne picked me up and we made the 10-15 minute drive to the base of Croghan Mountain. Here is a little information for ya:

Croghan mountain is 1,988 feet tall and lies on the border of Wicklow and Wexford in the Wicklow Mountains. The full name is the Croghan Kinsella Mountain, named after a historically powerful family that lived in the area. Croghan was also the site of Ireland's only gold rush when a nugget was found in river gravel on the mountain in 1795. The gold is now gone, but many poor people benefited from it at the time as the gold was retrieved by mainly local people. Three thousand ounces are known to have been found.

It took Peter and I close to an hour to reach the top and my goodness it was a challenge. There were some parts of the trail that were incredibly steep and made my lungs work! My legs were feeling okay, but the huffing and puffing slowed me down. The fresh, country air was awesome and taking deep breaths felt very nice. It was also nice to not have to worry about listening for rattle snakes, coyotes, mountain lions and bobcats. I didn't think twice before jumping into the long grass.

Peter is one fast walker! When we were going up the hills I was struggling to keep up at some points. But it was one amazing workout and I can feel already that I will be sore and stiff later!

When we made it to the top it was well worth the hard work. I stood at the very top and could spin 360* and see for miles. It was such a clear day though very windy. I would definitely do it again  :)

Onwards and Upwards fellow runners ... waaaay upwards  ;)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ah Runner's Itch, we meet again.

Dad and I finally made it out the door in our running shoes today. It had been 7 days since we'd both had a decent workout and so we didn't want to push it too hard. So we went out and my GPS watch was having some trouble finding me because it had to find a different satelite. It didn't find me till we were done! hahaha, so I'll have to guess on how far we actually went. We left Fr. Redmond Park, went through St. Peter's Place, up the Coolgraney road, past the cemetery and then through Fern Hill back to Fr. Redmond pk. We were gone no more than 30 minutes, so I'd say was somewhere between 1-2 miles. Perfect for having had a week off.
Coming down through Fern Hill though, I could feel the runner's itch starting in my legs. This is where the nerves on my legs are no longer used to all that oxygen moving through them and so they expand and contract at a very fast rate creating what feels like itching. It was intense to the point of where I couldn't not scratch it. I knew it was possible for it to happen since it's been 7 days and it is my own fault, but I never learn haha.

On a none running note ... My cousin Peter is a firefighter and after having coffee at Murphy's he took me out to tour the fire station. It was awesome :)  I've always wanted to tour a fire station and get into a fire truck. I took a few photos which I will post soon. The coolest thing was probably the jaws of life, which is freaking heavy for a tool that has to be lifted up by hand. I also got to try on Peter's firefighting coat, which was pretty heavy its self, but then again it was way too big for me. I very much enjoyed my tour  :)  Thank you Peter!

Tomorrow Peter and I have planned to walk up Croghan Mountain which is about 10 minutes out the road. So that will be fun and I will take some photos of the views  :)

Onwards and Upwards!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tornado's, Gymnastics and a Wedding, Oh my!

It has been quite the trip so far. The adventure started at Chicago's International airport on Tuesday night. We were sitting in the plane on the runway waiting for our turn to take off and the captain comes on the intercom and says that we need to wait and see what the lightning storm is doing up ahead of us. After a few minutes he comes back on saying that we we are expecting 65mph winds and so we are stuck and need to wait it out.
The rain started beating the outside of the plane and the lightning was all around us ... I closed my little window thing because I am not a fan of lightning. Then the airplane started shaking back and forth. The wind was insane!!! It went on for almost an hour! I was wishing that we could just go back to the terminal and get off the plane. I just wrapped myself inside my blanket and waited for it to be over. I also text Josh for a little bit of a distraction and comfort.
Once it calmed down the captain came back over the intercom and said that we had actually experienced 85mph winds. He said that the guys in the tower had to abandon the tower and that the terminal we had just left had been damaged by airborne luggage carts!!! So we were in the safest place possible. Once it was over we had to go back to the terminal to check for damage before taking off. The 7 hour flight from Chicago to Dublin turned into a 12 hour ordeal! Needless to say we were very happy to reach Dublin!

The first few days were kind of surreal. It was hard to believe that we were in Arklow. But it wasn't long before it felt like we had never left.
The wedding was amazing! Sarah (my cousin the bride) was beautiful and the whole ceremony was just gorgeous. I did a reading in the church and was excited to do a good job for Sarah and Philip. It did rain at the church, but the torrential downpour waited until we were all safe in the hotel where the reception was held. The whole set up in the hotel was lovely and the food was amazing! I thought they were going to have to surgically remove me from my dress after all that delicious food but luckily the band was awesome!
We danced the whole night away. The band played songs we all knew for a few hours before the DJ came in to finish the night. At one point the sweat was running down my face and my legs and feet were exhausted. It was the most fun workout I've ever had. Everyone got up at some point. I love my family!!! It was 3:30am before I crashed into bed and after 5am before my parents and some other relatives made it to bed!

The next morning I met Annemarie and we went to Cobra Gymnastics for old time's sake. We tumbled, did some bars and the trampoline. I am quite sore now but it was totally worth it and it was awesome to see Trisha, Simone, Nikki and all the new little kids  :)  I wish there were more sessions that I could join in on before I go back to the USA.

After gymnastics Annemarie and I went to her house in Gorey and had a good old fashioned slumer party. We bought a tone of junk food and set up the living room floor with the couch cushions and sleeping bags and just talked and watched movies until we fell asleep. It was awesome. You are never too old for a slumber party  :)

Anyway, it is after 1am here in Ireland now, so I should go to sleep and get ready for some more adventures! Loving my trip so far, though missing Josh!
Onwards and Upwards whereever you are and whatever you are doing!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Let's talk about something else for a minute.

I have been working out pretty regularly ... in between work, packing and other trip preparations. I am still only running 2-3 miles at a time on my knee but I usually pair it with the stair master or elliptical machine or something like that. Hopefully that will help my knee heel, which it seems to be doing just fine.

But just for a moment I would like to talk about the trip in another manner. Parts of the trip are stressing me out to the point of no sleep. I had to start taking the herbs 'valerian' just to fall asleep at night. They work great by the way! I've tried working out a little bit extra to work through the stress, but I guess that doesn't work for everything.

The first thing that stresses me is that Josh isn't coming with us. While my every minute will be filled during the three weeks, I will miss him a lot. We have never spent this much time a part (I think 2 weeks was the most). Though we will hopefully have email to stay in touch. So while that stresses me out a little bit, there is one thing that has really been on my mind lately ... Granddad.

This will be the first trip where he isnt there to greet us. I know that last time (6 yrs ago) was less than an ideal situation since he was in a hospital bed, but this time we dont even get that. Any time we have gone to visit, he was the first person we would seek out. There were always big hugs, a cup of tea and cookies. Unfortunately he passed away on our last trip. And two weeks after that we came home, so it was easy to pretend that he was still there and just continue with my daily activities. But at the the time I didnt even consider that I would, at some point, come back.

My granddad and I were very close. I was lucky to have gotten to spend so much time with such a great man. He taught me a lot, especially about faith. When we would stay with him for extented periods of time, he and I were inseperable. But now what ... ?

One thing that scares me a little is that I will, at some point, need to visit the grave site. The question is, will I do it alone or with someone. Well, rather than being afraid of the action, it's actually the emotions it will bring up that I am afraid of. What if I start crying and all those emotions of when he passed away come back?

Anyway, that is just something that has been on my mind a little bit ... to the point that I am dreaming about it regularly. But other than that, I cannot wait for the trip! I can't wait to see everyone :)

Onwards and upwards fellow travellers!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The suitcase is out ... so I can stop pinching myself.

Up until today the Ireland trip seemed more like an idea rather than something that was already planned and paid for. Whenever anyone asked me if I was excited I would say yes because I knew that is what they wanted to hear, but I honestly hadn't even thought about it.

So today was my last full day off both jobs before my parents come down to fetch me for the trip so I decided to make the most of the day. I finally pulled out my suitcase and opened my closet wide. I didn't really know where to start, but 4 hours and close to 100 songs on Pandora radio later my suitcase was almost full.

I have all clothes I need and most of my devices charged and packed (camera, nook, Ipod etc). I may have gone a little overboard in the underwear department ... especially since we will be able to do laundry ... but then I decided that you can never have enough clean underwear :)   The toughest part was trying to figure out what running clothes to bring. I decided on two long running pants, 2 running shorts and a few t-shirts and of course I am bringing my water-proof running jacket! I will be wearing my running shoes while traveling since they are the most comfortable shoes I am going to need.

Here is a sneak preview of the outfit I will be wearing to my cousin's wedding. I was going to wear the boots, but then I found little shoes that I thought would look better (but I don't have a photo of that) and I now have a leather jacket to wear on top of the dress. I must say that it is the most sexy type dress I have ever worn in public, but I like it :)  Although I am slightly worried about the Irish weather ... !!! So needless to say, my wedding outfit was the first thing to make it into the suitcase!

Having a whole day off like I did today I would usually have spent a solid 90 minutes or so at the gym, but I got so into my packing that it just didn't happen  :(   I guess you cant win them all. But on a plus note, I was playing hip-hop the entire time I was packing and danced any time I moved from room to room. So that will count as my workout for today!

On a final note for tonight ... now that I am packed I am anxious to get on that plane. Though I will miss Josh very much for the three weeks, I cannot wait to see all my friends and relatives! I cannot wait to see my home town, eat the Irish food and run the Irish roads. Good thing I am busy busy busy this week or I am sure it would drag!

Upwards and Onwards fellow runners (and dancers!) ... I hope you have some fun running adventures planned this summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Father/Daughter Project :)

I love little projects. They are like a mini set of goals to be accomplished and they keep me motivated and moving! I love them even more when I am doing them with someone else! In this case, I will be completing my new little project with my daddy. It has been a while since we have done anything together like this, so I am very excited!

In 12 days we are leaving U.S. soil for three whole weeks to return to our motherland for my cousin's wedding and some quality time with those we miss. For my sister, my mom and I it has been six years since our last visit, for my dad it has been 11 years! So we decided that if we were going to visit, that we were going to make it worth our travel time, plane tickets and jet lag  :)  Although, the wedding itself is worth all of that, we might as well enjoy some vacation time.

While we are there we will, of course, spend plenty of time with our relatives and friends, but we thought it would be cool to do some traveling and sight seeing during the week while everyone is at work. It will be nice to become reacquainted with our home country and see some of the sights we never got to see while we were living there. I know two places on our list are Glendalough and The Giant's Causeway. I am very excited!

So I proposed a project to dad that might be fun for while we are traveling. There will of course be a lot of eating ... I cannot even begin to explain how much I have missed Irish food! So we should try to keep active in order to balance all the potentially unhealthy meals. The project is to get up early in the morning when we are staying in a new town or village and go for a run, whatever the weather. We will document every run with photographs and create an album called "Running through Ireland."

I cannot wait to get started! Dad really likes the idea also  :)  It doesn't have to be a long run, just a mile or two. In my perfect world, we would be able to run around places like The Giant's Causeway and have pictures of us in our running gear by the sights, but since most of these places are protected and are parks and all that, I think cute little village pictures (or cow pictures!) will be perfect.

Of course I will document it on here as well, including photos ... though I am not sure if I will be able to do that in Ireland or if it will be a project to complete once I get back. Either way, it will end up on here. So now, I am not only excited for the trip in general, I also cannot wait for this new project to get started!

Upwards and Onwards fellow runners ... where ever you are in the world!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sometimes wheels are just nicer.

I went rollerblading today. Josh and I finally had a day off together and decided to make the most of the gorgeous weather, so I put on my wheels and he hopped on his bike. We went on the same trail that Pam and I run at least once a week. It's near the house and mostly smooth so blades wouldn't be a problem.

We had to take a quick detour at the beginning so Josh could put some air in the tires ... the bike had been sitting on the patio for a while and with the change in moisture and temperature over the past few months, the tires were over it. It was pretty funny though, because when Josh hopped on the bike outside the apartment he described it as 'trying to ride through mud' ... in which case I thought he was doing well to keep up with me! There is no way I would have been able to move the bike through mud  ;-)

For those of you wondering ... yes, I did wear plenty of sunscreen and didn't get burned  :)   I even wore a longer t-shirt to make sure I was completely covered. I never want to burn like that again!

So I decided to wear my Garmin GPS watch to keep an eye on the work-out. At one point we were moving at a 6-minute mile pace. All I could think was, "Oh my gosh, there are people in this world who run whole marathons at this pace ... and we are moving fast!" I couldn't imagine ever being able to run that fast. My fastest time ever is a 7.5 minute mile for 3 miles ... and had the race been longer, I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to keep up that pace!

The trail also went a lot faster. It was kind of nice for a change. There are days when I struggle to run that trail and here we completed it in an hour. Sometimes wheels just make a world of difference. Oh, and because there was no real impact on my joints, my left knee didn't ache at all :)  Hurray!

So yeah, I very much enjoyed the afternoon with my love. Sometimes it's fun to just get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors! Though I wish we had time to do stuff like this more often. I want for us to be an active family rather than a couch potato family. You learn so much about another person when you are out experiencing new things together! Not to mention, of course, the health benefits. Exercise should be fun ... not a chore.

Anyway, a good day indeed! May there be many more to come!
Onwards and upwards my fellow runners ... even if you did choose wheels today!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Post Race Laziness?

Good thing the post-race laziness only applies to my blog! I have been working-out quite a bit, though I did take a few much needed days off of running after the race. Usually by the time I've completed my race, I am a little sick of running, so I've been changing it up. I have been biking, using the StairMaster, the rowing machine, gymnastics and strength training. I have also been stretching more than before. In fact, I almost have my splits again  :)

I have also changed my eating habits a little bit. I had been eating a lot of protein in order to recover from all the long runs, so I cut down on the protein a little bit and upped my vegetable intake. I also dropped my carb intake a little bit, because I am a carb-oholic and was eating too much of that!
I have been bringing food to work such as 'add hot water' oatmeal and fruit ... and every once in a while some beef jerky, but ssshhhh, you cant tell them that! But every once in a while I do crave tempeh, seitan or just get sick of oatmeal, so I substitute out the carbs and put the dressing on the side. For example, one of my favorite things on the menu is the Scorpion Burger. But I say 'no bun' and 'onsd dressing' and 'add steamed kale'. So I get this:

And it is absolutely delicious! It also has carrots, lettuce, avocado and raw onions ... but I take the onion off.
So I am becoming a little less muscular and a little more womanly  :) 

I do still go on long runs. Pam and I run together once a week and go just about 6 miles. We dont run it all like we used to, we actually walk more now. Its funny how a little change in your diet can change your endurance level. But having a lot of protein on a regular basis cannot be good for my body!

So for now I am just enjoying the change in my routine, the new work-outs, the different flavours in my diet and a somewhat slower lifestyle. Once I am back from Ireland I will decide what race is next on my agenda and change everything up accordingly. After all, variety is the spice of life  :)

Onwards and Upwards fellow runners, rowers, gymnasts, hikers and the like!