It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This. . .


Living the Beach Life

I can’t think of a better place to rest and recover than the beach!  The boys and I spent the past week in Myrtle Beach, SC visiting family and living the beach life.   We slept in, ate a lot of good food, played in the ocean, dozed in the sand while the sun warmed our skin, roamed the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Odditorium, and played mini golf (a 3 way tie, can you believe that?).   I literally did not exercise one time, unless you count the crunches I did while waiting for the boys to get a shower one day, or the short hike I did at the state park!

Here are a few pics from our trip!

 

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A day in Charleston.  Beautiful city if you ever get the chance to go!
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You can usually see dolphins at Waterfront Park but we didn’t see any that day.
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A view from the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach.

 

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Brotherly love?  Hunter burying Eli while I was in the bathroom.  haha
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A hiking trail in Myrtle Beach State Park.  Had to get some nature therapy from the forest while we were gone. 
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Almost looks like home. 
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But these skinks kept darting across the trail in front of me every quarter mile or so!

When we got back home to PA, my husband and I celebrated our 18th anniversary.  MORE food and it was so delicious.

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Ahi tuna with artichokes, sundried tomatoes and steamed spinach.  Then we went for ice cream for dessert of course!

Back on Track

Now that eating without abandon is out of my system, I am so ready to get back on track this week.  The fridge is stocked with spring mix, a ton of fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks.   I am in between official training sessions, so here is my rough plan for the next few weeks. . .

Workout Goals

  • I plan to get more workout sessions in at the gym.  I want to get back to lifting more and sticking with a good core routine.   The good news is that it’s summer and I’m a teacher, so I have more time to accomplish this goal!  I lost some definition in my muscles between tapering, racing, recovering, and living the beach life.  hahaha
  • For my runs, I’ll continue running trails but taking it easy for a little bit longer.  Less miles than when I’m training, but trying not to lose any gains I’ve made in training for Cayuga!  I kind of miss having a training plan to tell me what to do, but I’ll be winging it for the next couple of weeks I guess.
  • I need to get some double runs and night runs in next month so I’m ready for Ragnar West Virginia in August.  Hoping to meet up with my relay team for the night runs!

One thing my husband wanted for Father’s Day was to give the boys a hard workout at the gym.  Great opportunity for me to get started on my goals!

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Wrestlers never smile for pictures.  Can you tell this was taken AFTER their workout?
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I got a good workout of my own done while they did their thing.  Core and upper body.  Feelin the burn and I’m sore today and loving it.

Nutrition

  • More protein. (Especially after a hard workout).
  • Less carbs. (No white flour carbs and less sugar.)
  • Whole foods. (No junk!)
  • Drink more water.  (I’m loving my raspberry watermelon water today.)

 

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Example of a typical breakfast I’ll have. . . sprouted grain toast with cashew butter, honey, and coconut and fresh fruit.

 

My First Trail Run since Cayuga

Saturday morning, Eli, my youngest, woke up in a rotten, uncharacteristically grumpy mood.  Maybe it was all the traveling we’ve done the past week, or maybe it was teenage hormones, but he was tough to get along with!  Since he’s my runner (of the two), I made him get dressed in running clothes after breakfast and we drove down to Pine Grove.  It seemed like a little trail therapy was in order.

My plan was to take him on the 5 mile Sunset Rocks / Appalachian Trail loop.  He slept on the drive there and as soon as we got out of the car, we got drizzled on and he complained.  I told him it would be fine and we started off.  His calves were sore from a workout the previous day and he was having a rough time since he didn’t want to be there.   At one point I turned around and started to head back since he was struggling and he wouldn’t let me.  He said he was going to get it done no matter what.

Two miles in we ran past some thru-hikers at a shelter on the AT and we stopped at the halfway point on the AT so I could tell him about it.   When we started running again, all of a sudden he found his legs and his attitude changed and he was flying through the woods ahead of me!    I let him go at his own pace and my heart filled with joy as I ran behind him.

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He was running pretty fast so this was not an easy picture to take!  

It was a sticky hot and humid day, and Eli stopped about a mile and a half later for a water break.  I caught up to him and noticed tears in his eyes.  When I asked him what was wrong he explained that he was realizing as he ran that he hasn’t been pushing himself enough the past two years.  He wants to work harder in wrestling and in life.  It’s true that many things often come easy for him and he has not been pushing himself to reach his full potential.  Not to say he hasn’t had successes, because he has, but they have not always been the result of blood, sweat, and tears if you know what I mean.  For whatever reason, running on the trail that day, he had an epiphany.  He was starting to enjoy and appreciate the trails and our run together in that moment.

When we got closer to Sunset Rocks, I told him we’d have to climb over some of the boulders and we wouldn’t be able to run the trail at that point.  Just like life, sometimes you can run full steam, other times you plod along, and still other times there are huge barriers in your way, but you climb over them and don’t let them stop you.   Without missing a beat, Eli says, “No Mom.  You bust right through them and show them who’s boss.”  Good point, son!  Good point.

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Eli on Sunset Rocks Trail.
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Me on Sunset Rocks Trail.
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We sat for a good 10-15 minutes soaking up the view and talking about life.  It truly does not get any better than this.  

I can’t wait for Eli to join me on more trail adventures this summer.  He says he’ll run with me at least once a week.

Miles to go for you, son.  Miles to go. . .

 

 

Week #20 and New Hydration Gear!


I think I can honestly say I’ve run through any kind of weather you can imagine, short of  a hurricane, during this training!  Blizzards, pouring rain, sunny cold days, sunny hot days, freezing rain, knee-high snow drifts, mud, puddles up to my knees…you name it, I’ve run it.  There were training runs in single digits with 40 mph winds, and 95 degree temps with high humidity.  I feel ready to run 50 in whatever nature throws my way on June 3rd.  Until then, I’m logging my taper miles, eating healthy foods, and trying to catch up on sleep and core/strength workouts.

Here’s how this week went down:

Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  10 trail miles (I was going to do my 8 on this day because Wednesday was supposed to be even hotter, but I only got in 6 on my normal trails in the time I had.  I decided to run some more while my son was at Power Train since I didn’t need to do any grocery shopping, so I went to an Appalachian Trail parking lot and had a fun evening run!)

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I ran a new to me, NOBO AT section of 2 miles out and back.  Saw 8 deer and almost as many bunnies.  Also saw a thru-hiker who had pitched a tent to rest on the edge of the trail.  

Wednesday:  3 evening road miles  (I was busy making cupcakes for a luncheon at school, so I decided not to drive to the trails for a short run.  Took the pup and he was pretty tired by the end. )  It was over 95 degrees!

 

 

Thursday:  5 trail miles, 90 degrees

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My new crew socks that I got for Mother’s Day.  They keep trail debris from getting in between my socks and feet and have been great so far!  

Friday:  rest

Saturday:  10 trail miles (Started early Saturday morning so that I could by home by 9:30 to make breakfast for the boys.  It was a nice run and felt good to feel strong for a 10 miler.  Most of my 10 – 12 milers this training cycle have been the day after a 20 + mile run when my legs are tired!)

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No pic of the trails, but here is my breakfast after the run.  It was so good that I’m still thinking about it!  3 scrambled eggs with some mozzarella, avocado, sauteed onions, chipotle salsa, and sriracha…all on a whole wheat pita.  Definitely making this again!

Sunday:  8 trail miles (Seems SO weird to be running without tired legs all this week.  Although….I did not get into a good groove until mile 7.  Hahahaha…..good thing this is a long race!

New Gear:  UltrAspire Collapsible Soft Flask with Tube

I always fill my hydration bladder with plain water and keep a bottle in my vest pocket for Nuun.  The problem is, I was using a handheld 12 oz Nathan bottle and it was leaking down my leg and all over the vest pocket during my runs (for at least the first few miles). Also, Nuun tablets are for 16 oz of water and I was drinking some pretty strong Nuun since it didn’t hold that much!   I didn’t mind the flavor too much, but the leaking was getting annoying so I ordered this soft flask and it’s working well so far.

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I’ve used it 3 times already and will definitely be using it during the Cayuga Trail 50. The soft flask is easy to fill, does not make a sloshing sound when I’m running, fits perfectly in my vest pocket, and most importantly does not leak!  I love that I don’t have to take it out to drink and that it holds exactly 16 ounces.  Also, you can trim the bottom of the straw to whatever length to fit your needs.  I trimmed off about 3/4″ and it was the perfect height to be able to secure it into the yellow loop you can see in the picture near the top of the straw.  The straw is out in the picture because I was done running and had a drink, but it stayed secure in that loop while I was running. I’ll only have to take it out of the loop when I’m refilling it at aide stations.  I also like the soft flask better than my hard bottle I was using for the fact that the more I drink the smaller it gets, which means less weight/ bulk to carry around on the trails.

You can check it out here:

Ultraspire Collapsible Soft Flask with Tube

What new gear are you loving right now?

Any races coming up soon?

 

 

 

Week #19 of Training and My Absolute Favorite Day of the Year


Mother’s Day!

It was a day for waking up to breakfast in bed, extra hugs, and laughter with my boys.  They truly outdid themselves this year with blueberry pancakes made by Hunter, and “Toad in a Hole” made by Eli.  In case you don’t know what that is (because I didn’t!)….Eli used a glass to cut a circle out of bread slices, then he cooked an egg inside and wrapped bacon around it.  YUM!  They even got me some new trail running crew socks and an Under Armor bag to use to when I go to the gym or take my running clothes to school.

After breakfast we went to the gym where I did some cycling and lifting. Hunter spotted me in bench presses!  Then we had lunch and went to Kings Gap for a family hike up to Scenic Vista.  The boys treated me to ice cream afterwards, and Jeff did all the laundry and cooking today…..EXXX hot chicken barbecue and a chipotle butternut squash and black bean mix.   Now do you see why it’s my favorite day of the year?  I am feeling so lucky to have these boys and my hubby in my life.

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Love my boys!  Being a Mom is the best thing ever.

This Week’s Training

This was my last hard week of training.  I will slowly taper the miles down until race day in less than 3 weeks!

Monday:  REST

Tuesday: 3 miles with the pup

Wednesday:  10 miles

Thursday:  7 miles and final chiro visit!

Friday:  rest

Saturday:  17 HARD miles

Sunday:  3 mile hike with the fam + core + arms and upper body + stretching

Pics from my Runs this Week

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Sunset Rocks on Wednesday.   Ran with a running buddy from work.  We saw a porcupine, amazing views, a man in a hammock taking a nap at the edge of the mountain…and later I saw a deer and ground hog.  Quite an exciting run!
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View from Flat Rock at Colonel Denning on Saturday.  3 mountain repeats, then a longer 6 mile loop on Tuscarora, and Wildcat Run, and Cider Path back to my car made for over 5,000 ft elevation for the day.  Rocky, muddy, high creek crossings, and overall pretty technical.  
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When the rain finally let up 3 hours into my run it started getting humid and I stopped to put my jacket in my pack.  

 

 

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This was a pretty and fun downhill section of my route.  Not too steep (which cannot be said for the rest of my downhills on Saturday), just perfect!
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It only took 4 hours into my run for the sun to try and make an appearance!
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Last mile of Saturday’s run was sunny and flat around this lake.  Perfect ending!

 

It’s Taper Time!

This coming week I’ll start to cut down on my mileage.  Aiming for low 30’s per week.  Then the following week only 20 miles.  How will I stay sane during that 20 mile week, you ask?  I plan to continue cycling, lifting, and working on core….and I’ll probably also be taking the dog for some short walks for the trail time that I just NEED!   After that it will be race week and I will have a lot of preparations to keep me busy, but I’ll get more into that in a later post.

The hard work is done.  Months of training is winding down.  My job now is to get to the start line strong and healthy!

How do you stay sane during taper time?

What is your favorite day of the year?

Snacks I’m Loving Lately…and Goodbye, April.


Let’s Talk Snacks!

I’ve been routinely buying the same types of things each week so I thought I’d mix it up this past week.  Instead of my usual staples of almond butter, almond milk, and plain Greek yogurt, I decided to try some new things.

Have you heard of Quark?

It’s actually a type of cheese, not yogurt, but it is really good and a great source of protein.  I only ever found it at our discount store, BB’s, but I hear it can be found at Target.  I’m going to check next time I go.

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We’ve had the key lime before and it was okay, but I really enjoyed the vanilla bean.

Skyr

This was my favorite and another great source of protein!  It is really creamy and the vanilla bean flavor is really like no other.  It even had a slight crisp to the vanilla bean speckled inside.  I can’t explain it any other way, but I’m definitely buying these more often.  I also tried the strawberry and ligonberry flavor.  That was good too!  Their fruit flavored have berries that are native to Iceland, so it’s something unique and different for a snack.  Check out their website:  Icelandic Provisions.  I found them at Giant and can’t wait to try some more flavors.

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Cashew Butter

I absolutely love my almond butter but had to try this instead for a change.  Much creamier as you can probably imagine, and I’m still using it in the same way….on toast with honey, in oatmeal, on top of french toast with honey, etc.  I’ll go back to almond butter when this is gone, but I do like it and will probably switch up the two every now and then.

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Milk

I usually buy a carton of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and had to try this almond and coconut mix.  I drink it once in a while with breakfast plus I use it in some recipes.  When I make oatmeal, I do 1/2 cup oats and 1 cup of almond milk and cook it on the stove.   I also use it to make french toast and baked oatmeal.

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This is REALLY good and I will have a tough time deciding whether to buy almond or almond with coconut from now on!  You get the taste of both flavors but nothing is overpowering.  I even liked it in my Kashi cereal.

Also, the side of the carton advertises that there is now Silk yogurt made from almond milk.  I definitely need to find this!  If you have seen it somewhere, be sure to let me know!

Where did you go, April?

Well here we are almost a week into May now.  Below is the recap for my training during April.  I really don’t think I ran roads at all.  Maybe 6 miles?  All trail and a few xc course miles.  Less than a month to Cayuga now.  Hotel is booked and I’m already visualizing crossing that finish line!

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Favorite snack lately?

What kind of milk do you like?

Long Run Cravings & Week #15 in the Books!


When I finally arrived back at my car today, after over four hours of running in mostly 80 + degrees and sunny weather, I couldn’t wait to grab a nice cold water bottle from the small cooler I had packed earlier that morning.  Thoughts of tortilla chips, salsa, ice cold lemonade, and popsicles had plagued my thoughts for the past hour.  My tired legs ready to be done, but my mind stronger than them, pushing myself as I ran the last 5 miles down the rocky technical trail to the Pine Plantation Parking lot.   I took my water over to the bench under the shady pines.  They beckoned me to lay there for a moment and reflect on my run.

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My view from the bench!  Perfect blue skies today.  57 degrees when I started and 85 when I finished.

I had decided to start at Kings Gap and work my to Buck Ridge and then explore some of the trails that intersect it.  I had fun exploring!

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Morning sun coming through the trees.  I have no idea what the blue speck is?
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A new-to-me trail off of Sage Run.  

Just before the trail above, I crossed paths with a lost trail runner trying to scout out the Ironmaster’s 50K.   I directed him to the spot he was looking for and headed on.   I ended up seeing him again later when I stopped under the pavilions by the furnace stack to refill my Nuun bottle at mile 14.   There were a few hikers out today as well.

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A rare less technical trail!

 

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A view of the mountain through the logging on my way back up Buck Ridge to Kings Gap.  If there isn’t anything I can do about the logging tearing up the land near my trail I guess I can at least appreciate the view.

As I got in the car to drive home, I decided the lemonade craving had to be settled immediately.   I found this at Sheetz and it satisfied my craving perfectly!

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I always want lemonade on hot runs.  I need to buy a few of these for my family to hand me during Cayuga or at least at the finish line!

When I got home, my husband asked what happened to me.  I guess I did look like a mess.  I had salt everywhere, dirt caked on my legs from my calves to the top of my socks, small red bumps on my arms, scratches on my legs and arms, and a two inch chafe spot on my back from where my tank didn’t cover the skin under my hydration pack. (Lesson learned there!).  The bumps and scratches were from my arms rubbing against brush and pricker bushes I think.

Other than tired legs, I feel really good. Especially after downing some tortilla chips and chipole lime salsa!  ‘m not overly tired like I was after yesterday’s run.  I’m glad I took it easier in the heat.   It was hard but there was a nice breeze for some of the time that helped.

Today’s Run Fueled by. . .

I fueled my run today with two bottles of Nuun, water, salted peanut butter pretzels, mini golden Oreos, Honey Stinger fruit smoothie chews, and a banana.  I had just enough hydration to get me through but it looks like a stop at the car for more water is going to be necessary if I run anything longer than this in these temps.  I also need to add more salty snacks.  A bag of crushed up tortilla or potato chips sounds perfect!

Week #15 Recap

Monday:  REST!

Tuesday: 4 trail miles with Irish, core 7 arms at home

Wednesday: 12 trail miles

Thursday:  6.2 trail miles with a buddy

Friday:  REST!

Saturday:  11 trail miles with group

Sunday:  23 trail miles

Lacking in the cycling and strength/weights/core this week, but . . . 56 trail miles is a little time consuming!

What do you crave on hot runs?

 

 

 

New Shoes, New Insoles, New Races


I woke up early and drove to Pine Grove Furnace State Park to meet up with a group of local runners. We ran the last 11 miles or so of the Ironmaster’s 50K.  Some of those trails overlap with the ones I ran earlier this week so it was nice to have a new perspective on how they all interconnect.  It’s also so much fun sharing the outdoors on the trails with others.  I love to hear about races others have done, what they are training for, and all that fun stuff!

Wednesday’s run made it apparent that it was time to retire the old gray Lone Peak 3’s and get acquainted with a new pair.  See how much fun they’ve had already?  First run in them today and I could really feel the difference.

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You aren’t having fun if your trails shoes aren’t dirty!

When I went to Appalachian Running Company yesterday to get my new shoes, I decided to also try out a pair of over-the-counter insoles.  I picked up the CurrexSoles Run Pro in a medium support, as recommended by the salesperson helping me.

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They felt great when I first tried them on in the store with my shoe and even better on the run this morning.  I think they may be a good low cost alternative to the custom orthotics I’ve been using in the past, at least for trail running.

I’m hoping to get decent mileage out of the new insoles, so time will tell!

Below are the insoles I am replacing them with.  They are custom orthotics from a foot scan done by a chiropractor.  Yes, they are beat to hell.  I’ve been running with them on trails since I started trail running a few years ago, AND had used them for road runs for almost two years before that.  I don’t need as much support on the trails as I do on thee roads, so they did a good job but I think they also deserve to retire!

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Last year before my first ultra I went to a physical therapist instead of a chiropractor to get custom insoles to replace the ones above.  Instead of scanning my foot they actually created a mold and made the ones below for me.  These will definitely hold up for YEARS I’m sure.  Unfortunately I just can’t stand to have them in my shoes for trail runs.  I tried running with them last year for the Ironmaster’s 50K and by mile 13 I couldn’t wait to get to the next aide station to switch out my shoes (which had the old beat up ones above in them). I needed relief!  The material is just too hard for trail running.  The benefit is they will hold up longer, but one of the things I love about trail running is the soft terrain under my feet.  These were just not working for me.  So I keep them stuffed into my road shoe for road runs instead.  They are perfect for that.

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Why special insoles in the first place, you ask?

When I first started running (way back when a 5K was my goal), I had a lot of knee problems.  I tried everything and under the advice of a sports chiropractor, I had my foot scanned and tried the custom insoles.  My feet are just a tad flat so the arch support is what I needed.  My knee pain was resolved and it is a piece to my running happy puzzle that I’m not willing to chance!

New Race!

I was asked to join some local trail runners on their team for the Ragnar Trail Appalachians Relay in West Virginia!  I’m so excited about this.  I met some more of the team members today on our run.  It’s going to be a blast!  I’ve always wanted to do a Ragnar race but put it out of my mind when I started doing trails because I thought they were all road races.  I’m glad I was wrong!

Have you ever done a Ragnar Relay?

Do you use special insoles in your running shoes?

 

 

Tuesday Trails with Irish


Trying to get the good old boy out at least once a week and today was his day.  Irish will be 12 this summer, so we have to provide some modifications for his running.  For example, on hot days we always run along a creek so he can cool off and get multiple drinks on the run.  haha!  Nature’s water station.  Tonight I parked in the middle of the route I wanted to do.  This way he would have water access at all times 🙂  We did a mile one direction from the car and back (almost all along the creek), and then a mile the other direction and back.. . with a few stops for a short minute rest along the way.  He always goes out too fast for the first 1.5 miles and then ends up lagging behind the rest of the way!  It was a hot day for us (about 85 degrees) so we were both glad to run easy.

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Cooling off in his happy place after the first 1.2 miles.  hahaha
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First turn-around.  All of the logging on this side of the park stretches for miles to another nearby state park and it really makes me sad every time I see it.   

 

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I guess I will no longer be playing gymnast on a balance beam anymore on this part of the trail.  I run this part regularly and all winter long there has been a huge grayish tree laying straight over this bridge.  I always had to stop, hop onto it, and balance my way across.  It actually became kind of fun and I think I’ll miss it!

First double-digit midweek long run tomorrow!  I think Irish will need a recovery day;)