Go take a walk, or hike or a ride!

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March 28 is Opening day for trails!! Go join in the Movement  with thousand of others today! Rails to Trails is a great organization changing the outlook for the future. Converting old rail beds and land corridors into usable trails takes a lot of work and dedication– thanks RTC for working to get us healthier!

 

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Maybe I am not a Runner

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Am I am a runner? Some days I wonder.

I do enjoy running, well not usually the first mile but I do enjoy running when things fall into place and I find my “groove” with breathing and tempo. The thing is…its not guaranteed to happen for every run. Some runs just totally stink. Some runs just are not going to happen if I am injured or Life interferes. I get that being a runner challenges who you are, but what if I am not that person for whom running is the be all and end all?

I see all the posts on Pinterest and Facebook–you know the ones; you know you’re a runner if… XYZ. Well unfortunately most do not apply to me so I must not be a runner. I am not interested in toughing it out when I am injured. I see other people who run when injured or who lament that their doctor has advised them against running but they choose to run anyway. I am not judging their decision,I’m just not that dedicated to running I guess.

I enjoy rest days from running. For me they are a chance to do other active things like hiking and cycling. Being active is more important to me than being a Runner. Its more about feeling alive and happy than just focusing on running.

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I started running again last October (2013) and have run pretty consistently for the last year except when injured. I do have to admit I have had more injuries since I started running than I ever had with walking, hiking or biking. Running is hard on your body but it also has good benefits as well. My knees felt much better after I started running contrary to the thought that it would damage them. My injuries were minor compared to other runners but to me they were enough to make me notice and give my body a chance to recover and heal before pushing past the pain.

So why do I run if I don’t consider myself a real runner?

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Its hard to describe exactly but I’ll do my best. While I enjoy the movements of hiking and fast paced walking there is something about how your feet and legs find a rhythm with your breathing and there is just this feeling of peace and coming into a different place in your mind. It doesn’t really eliminate the effort and intensity of running but you find that it is no longer the chore of exercising but the freedom of movement that encourages you to go just a little bit farther. There is also a camaraderie  among runners that I have felt no where else. There is encouragement for newbies. Seasoned runners and newbies alike can share their success and failures and others are there to be supportive.  As a community we mourn those fallen runners who made a difference both virtually and personally. I think this sense of community has kept running as a large component of my being active.

First there were 2...

First there were 2…

And then there were 3....

And then there were 3….

and now there are 4

and now there are 4

 

 

I started running last year with several other ladies and despite knowing one runner only from a Facebook running group we fell into a weekly run and it became the highlight of my week. Some days were great, others really were hard but knowing someone was meeting me got my butt out of the house and running our 3-5+ miles together. Sweating out your concerns with someone builds something that is hard to replicate anywhere else. Life has interfered and we’ve fallen out of our weekly runs but I am hoping it resumes after the winter because it was such an important part of my week.

I also have no desire to race. I don’t generally enjoy crowds so I could never imagine myself being in a huge group trying to run. I am not very competitive and I am okay with not being fast or winning a prize for my efforts. I do however participate in “virtual” races to help support other runners with fundraising efforts for charities. These do keep me make sure I am running more than less as I get to run when and where I choose and get a “finishers” medal for participating. These also provide a chance for me to compete with myself and see improvements in my efforts.

I am okay with not being a “100% runner”. By choosing to be active in many ways I have reduced my injuries and I find myself looking forward to being active. I love being outside and so long as I can get my heart rate up and work up a sweat I am happy. I also do not have an issue with using my treadmill which many runners call a “dreadmill”. For me it is a training tool and allows me to keep fit despite the weather. I would much rather be outside but…better something than nothing at all.

 

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So in hindsight maybe I am a runner….  I may not run fast. I may not run far but as the saying goes “if you run you are a runner”.

 

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All images except for the photos of my running friends were found on Google images, my thanks to their creators.

Stanley spends a day at the Log house

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Stan got to visit a Log house in the Woods!

Stan got to visit a Log house in the Woods!

Stanley, being the wonderful guest he is, offered to spend the day at my Log House and get to know everyone and help out. Boy was he in for an adventure! He got to meet the cats (Shadow and Indy) and the dog (Niki). He got to help carry wood from the woodpile. He tried to play with our dog Niki. He helped with dinner and shared a coffee break with me! Whew–he really got a workout!

First, he met our pets….

Some new friends are just a little nosy!

Some new friends are just a little nosy!

Indy and Stan hanging out on the deck.

Indy and Stan hanging out on the deck.

Not that close!

Hey, that’s too close!

Sometimes making new friends can be a little bit scary! But that can be part of your adventure and you can make new adventures with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to go work outside and do some yard work and stack some firewood. Stan really tried his best to help but some of the pieces were pretty big. We found some that he could handle….he was a big help gathering the kindling for us!

Those are some big pieces of wood!

Those are some big pieces of wood!

That is more like it!

That is more like it!

 

Yard work

 

 

 

After all the hard work we decided to play with Niki a little in the yard. Stan wanted to help but…I think we need to find a smaller toy for him to throw!

 

 

Guess he needs to find another toy for Niki!

Guess he needs to find another toy for Niki!

We decided to have a coffee break  while checking on our friends on the computer.

Coffee time!

 

Since my daughter was home from college we treated her to some homemade mac and cheese–Yummm!!

 

Stan decided he likes mac and cheese!

Stan decided he likes mac and cheese!

Since Stan worked really hard today we decided he should go on another hike really soon….but that is another adventure!

 

Please note all images are my own except the yard work image (found on Google images). This Stan was made by Brady. Please do not share without permission–thanks!

“Stanley” visits the New York countryside

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Flat StanI recently was given the opportunity to have Flat Stanley come and share some adventures with me. Neither of my children have ever read the Flat Stanley books but I was intrigued by the prospect of sharing my little part of the world with his classmates in Massachusetts.

The first adventure we went on was with a friend of mine named Diane and we took Stanley to Sterling Forest State Park for some hiking. Here is a copy of our trail map:  http://nysparks.com/parks/attachments/SterlingForestTrailMap.pdf

I love hiking– you can see some beautiful areas and views because you need to slow down and be mindful of where you are walking, especially in the Fall with all the leaves! We started at the Visitors Center which is by the bottom of the lake (if you are looking at the map ) and after talking to the  ladies inside decided to take the Bare Rock trail.  We took a little trail through the woods to the paved road that led our path just up the street (yellow trail to blue one).

Stan admiring the view of Lake Sterling

Stan admiring the view of Lake Sterling

The trail head for the Bare Rock Vista

If you look at the map we took the orange path and started the climb up to the ridge. Let me tell you that we warmed up quickly and had to remove our outer layer!! It is quite literally all uphill! My friend and I like a bit of a challenge to our hikes and this certainly offered one!

 

We finally made it to the trail head for the Bare Rock Vista and headed to the cliff to see the view–it was worth the climb!

 

Greenwood Lake

Overlooking Greenwood Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley and Greenwood Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was very windy so we had a quick sip of water and decided to keep going. We went back to the Trail head and continued on the orange trail which thankfully was mostly level for this part. But not for long– then we started heading down hill a bit.

Bare Rock trail and creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stan taking a break on the trail– he really liked the stream (but not the creaky trees!)

Around mile 4 we stopped for a quick lunch on top of a small knoll so that we had a good view of the area below us in case there was any wild life in the area. Fortunately there weren’t any and we got to enjoy some quiet time.  I am so glad we did– mile 5 began a complete uphill climb– almost literally a rock scramble!!

Sterling Forest climb

 

Although it is a rougher climb than just a smooth hill there is just something fun about challenging yourself to keep going when you encounter something like this!  Good hiking boots and a bit of planning out your route make a huge difference between getting stuck and overwhelmed and having a good time!

We finally got to the fire tower but since we were losing daylight we opted to take the shorter 2 mile path back to the visitor center. Still a bit rugged in spots but at least it was down hill from there.

Overall, a really great hike and I will definitely do it again in the spring!

Please note the original image of Flat Stanley is an image from Amazon’s website. The Stan pictured here was drawn by Brady and the photo images were taken by me during our hike.

Excuse me, your roots are showing….the Return of the Vegetable Garden

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Well it seems I have come full circle; I’ve got a garden going again this year. I am turning into my mom even more, its not that bad a thing, really.

I grew up in New York, not the city but a little upstate ” in the country”. When we moved from our house and small yard in NJ it was a little shocking to find we had 4 acres to spread out and make use of.  My parents did a lot of land clearing and made a large pond area with an island, a horse barn and fenced area, a tool shed….and a huge garden!!  I really do mean it was big!  They grew all kinds of vegetables I had never heard of and some I did: zucchini, summer (yellow) squash, broccoli, kohlrabi  tomatoes, peppers, beans, cukes and more.  They either froze, canned, pickled or made jelly with everything they grew.  They were organic before it really was a thing to try to achieve–they fertilized with “chicken manure tea”, the manure being obtained from a local egg farm.  We “composted” the weeds and the stuff we discarded…even though I had no idea what I was doing; we had a pile in the corner and added to it then added it back when they gardened then next year.

I can’t say I ever thought about the garden, it was like church–something we just did. And I can’t say I enjoyed both all the time either. I don’t know where my parents got their recipes for some of the meals but….sometimes I thought we were eating ‘garbage’ by the way it looked (shredded zucchini, peppers, onions and sausage-yuck!). They liked it though and it was either eat it or starve, most times I ate it.  I always wondered why they had the garden, as far as I could see it was just more work to do.

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My tower of beans!

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Roma tomatoes

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Basil….love the smell!

Fast forward a few years. Last year I got a couple of raised bed kits and had some soil delivered and put in a basic garden on what I thought we might eat; tomatoes, peppers, beans, basil, potatoes, pumpkins and strawberries. I can say I enjoyed it and we did eat most of the produce and I froze what I could for the winter.  My daughters even helped out with harvesting now and then.

I wanted to expand this year and have some raised and some traditional planted areas (ie in the ground). Well it did not quite work out that way–I waited too long to get started and had to stop due to the roots I found while roto-tiling and the rain. I still kept the two beds going but with different plants and planting methods (see the next blog for details) and I have plans in place to get the new raised beds built and the other area set up for tilling.

So the point to this rambling tale? I get why they had a garden; its comforting to be working with Nature to produce a harvest. I enjoy puttering around pulling weeds and ‘mothering’ my plants. Its actually rewarding to see things growing and knowing you made it happen. Plus I get to control how my veges are grown; organic seeds and fertilizer, natural pest deterrents.  Plus I get to share them with friends.

 

I’m sweaty, I’m tired….and I feel really good!

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So I did it tonight—I exercised indoors!

I realized that to really enjoy my time hiking I need to strengthen my core and my quads/hamstring/glute muscles for climbing the steeper hills as well as descending them without falling on my face. My knees and hips could also use some preventative maintenance. Since I really didn’t want to spend hours down there (in the basement) I decided to work on the recumbent bike. I set it for 30 minutes, hill setting and selected the Podrunner “Easygoing” .

The hill setting was a decent workout and the 132 BPM pace was just right for working on the higher resistance levels which varied from 2-8. I do have to say 8 was a little difficult but I pushed through with the help of the music.  Music really does play such a big factor in motivation!! The steady beat has helped keep me moving more times than I care to admit.

I almost wish I had set the timer for a longer time frame but I am sure I will feel it tomorrow.  But you want to know something? I feel relaxed, optimistic and healthy–must be the endorphins kicking in.

So the game plan? Continue to work at the gym for strength training and endurance. This plan from Prevention is a great place to start as well as the core workouts using the balance board, the ball and yoga poses I was doing.  I’m looking forward to a “strong” summer and lifestyle of health.

 

Hiking….its always an adventure

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I’ve fallen back in love with hiking. I mean I’ve loved being outside for as long as I can remember whether it was playing outside as a kid, bike riding, messing around with my horses or whatever. I am an outside kind of girl. But lately my love has to be hiking.

Hiking challenges you. You can stick to the easy paths or take adventure by the horns and opt for the trail in the woods. You open yourself up to the reality of what you are willing to do verses what your body is capable of. Sometimes you fight your brain for control of the situation, sometimes your heart takes over. But, in the long run you are glad of the choices you have made for it gives you strength both mentally and physically to do it all again.

20130520_115112Join me on my adventures–I truly hope you enjoy visiting these hiking spots with me and find serenity in the photos.

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