2013 Holiday Running Streak – Long Run & Exploring Fort Pickering

Day 32:  December 28th 

On Saturday, Jeff and I did a long run out to Winter Island in Salem. This is a fairly normal route for us, but we usually turn around at the entrance to the park. This time we ran in and looked around a little. I tried to do some exploring myself on one of my long runs over the summer, but a lot of people camp on the island in the summer, and it was too busy that day to make it fun. Exploring this weekend was way better.  We saw an ammunition bunker, a creepy gated off stairwell, and the Fort Pickering Light. I would probably know more about some of these things but the signs were all covered in snow & ice.

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Fort Pickering Light

Luckily, I did some “research” (aka: google search), so I can give you a little info on Winter Island and Fort Pickering. Winter Island was first settled in 1637 and construction on the fort started 1643.  Originally, the fort was called Fort William and later Fort Anne (after a King and Queen of England), but was renamed to Fort Pickering in 1799. It was named after a Salem native who later became Secretary of State, which was way more American and Patriotic than being named after an English Monarch.

The Fort was occupied during the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and the Civil War.  As far as I can tell, there were no battles, skirmishes, or the like. However, it was rebuilt a few times.  I suppose it could just be normal fort wear and tear, but really who knows…feel free to use your imagination (it’s history, no need to be factual, right?)

Okay, enough about the Fort, let’s get to the interesting part: The Lighthouse.  It was first lit in 1871.  I’m not sure who lit it because there is no mention of lighthouse keepers until 1882.  That’s when this guy, John Harris, took the job. And he was keeper there for 37 years.  37 years!  And in that whole time he took only 5 nights off!  That’s it, just 5 nights…talk about a workaholic. Also, there were no shipwrecks that whole time…way to light that light John Harris!

After Harris retired, the coastguard tended the light until they left the Island in 1965. At that point the light went dark for nearly 20 years until 1983 when it came back on as a private aid to navigation.  It got it’s latest update in 1995 when the light was upgraded to be solar powered.

For more information (there may have been an alien invasion), and where I got mine: http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=481 and http://www.salemweb.com/tales/shoreline.shtml

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Day 33 – 35:  December 29th – December 31st

These 3 runs were a lot less interesting than Saturday’s, but they added to my streak, and with today’s run I just surpassed my yearly mileage goal of 900 miles!  Tomorrow’s the last day of the streak…WAHOO!!!!!

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Holiday Running Streak: Christmas Week!

Days 26 – 31: December 22nd – 27th

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Merry Christmas!

Part 1: The Running

Jeff and I spent the week of Christmas in North Tonawanda with my family.  In between all the eating, gifts, and games, I was able to squeeze in my minimum 1 mile per day for the streak.  Aside from 12/22, the day before we left, I kept my runs for the week all under 2 miles.

12/22 was my first “long” run in a while.  We did 6 miles, heading over the bridge into Salem for the first time in a few weeks.  I had a bit of a tough time on the long gradual uphill about halfway through the run, but I was able to pull it together and finish strong. I’ve been going faster lately, but I still can’t believe that my long runs a couple months ago were 20+ miles long…how on earth did I do that?  I was tuckered out after my 6 mile run, and I think it was a good thing to have a bit of a rest for the next 5 days.

There are two adjectives to describe running in North Tonawanda:  flat and snowy!  Yes, I’ve had a couple snowy runs in Beverly, but it snowed EVERY SINGLE DAY we were there.  🙂  While I generally enjoy running in the snow and I wouldn’t want to run on Christmas without it, it can be kind of a drag after a while. It requires a lot of focus to not slip and fall, and it’s rather slow going.  Lucky for me, my mom has a treadmill, and  I did my 1st two indoor runs of the streak.

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Snowy Shoes

I was driven inside by the fact that I didn’t get around to running until after dark on Thursday, and I didn’t bring any of my running in the dark gear.  I had to improvise a bit with clothing (I only brought outdoor gear), but it was only a mile so no need to be picky.  I really don’t mind running on the treadmill, and it was WAY faster.  In addition to eliminating slipping and sliding in the snow, it really cut down on my prep time.  With the multiple layers, hat, mittens, and waiting for a signal on my GPS watch; it actually takes me longer to prepare to run a mile outdoors than to physically do it.

Part 2: The Running Gifts!

What kind of Christmas post would this be if  I didn’t tell you all about the  awesome running related gifts I got for Christmas?

  •  Knuckle Lights – We cheated a little and Jeff gave these to me before Christmas. They are awesome!  The battery on my head lamp is dying, but even before that, these are so so so much brighter.  And having the light in my hand (I’ve only used one at a time so far) gives me more control and is much more comfortable than wearing the head lamp.

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    Christmas Morning Run!

  • Running Journal – On the Saturday before Christmas, Jeff gave me another running gift: a running journal. I have been thinking about using one for a while, and now I have one!  I haven’t had much of a chance to check this out too much yet, but I’m hoping to sit down and go through it before the New Year.  You know, get a plan together for my new year’s resolutions.
  • Race Bib Holder Thingy –  My sister found this one, it’s called a BibFOLIO.  I haven’t set it up yet, but I think it looks like a pretty neat idea. It holds your race bibs, and I have a lot of those! I think I’ll use it for special ones – maybe PR races? Pictures to come when I get it all set up.
  • Swirlgear Running Jacket – I got this gift from my cousin in law, Kaseedee, who is an ambassador for Swirlgear.  I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but she swears by their stuff, so I have high expectations. (Side note: check out her facebook page for fitness tips and product recommendations)
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My New Kicks!

  • Newton Boca AT Sneakers – These were on my wish list to Santa.  Actually, Jeff and I both asked for sneakers for Christmas, but when we got to my mom’s house there was only one shoe shaped box under the tree…and, it didn’t have my name on it!  So, imagine my surprise when I opened a Victoria’s Secret box to find these inside!  I’ve taken them out a few times, and so far so good.  They are my 3rd pair of Newtons, and my first pair of trail shoes.  To be honest, I don’t really ever plan on running on trails, but they’re waterproof (aka: snow, rain, puddle, sleet proof), so I had to have them.  🙂

P.S. I made this cool collage of pictures from Christmas. I’m not sure why it’s so tiny (???), but it was fun…so, enjoy!

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Two Runs, One Stone

Days 24 & 25:  December 20th & 21st

I understand the thinking behind this, but the fact that everyone is interested in getting their (work) loose ends tied up before the end of the year, really put a cramp in my style last week.  I mean, is anyone even really going to look at this stuff before new year’s?

I ended up stuck at work on the 20th until 9:45 PM in order to get something out before I took off for 12 days.  This was rather unexpected, so I didn’t even think to get my run in before the work day. By the time I finally finished, I was exhausted, frustrated, and REALLY dreading having to run when I got home. Fortunately for me, I have a terrific husband who not only volunteered to come pick me up (so I didn’t have to wait for the 10:40 train) but also came up with a brilliant plan!

When I got home around 10 PM, I ate dinner and we popped in The Muppet Christmas Carol while we wrapped the last of our Christmas gifts.  By 11:45, I was back in the holiday spirit and ready to go for a run, or two 🙂 At this point, Jeff was falling asleep on the couch and regretting his suggestion, but I was super psyched and ready to head out.  So we hit the road and ran a little over a mile before the stroke of midnight.  Then, we turned around and ran a little over a mile after midnight!  This technically isn’t cheating on the streak, and it was super fun!  Plus, then I got to sleep in on Saturday morning.

Before

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After

2013 Holiday Running Streak: Running in the Snow and Ice

Days 17 – 23: December 14th – 19th

randy-snow-suit-a-christmas-story-2 Well, I’ve finally gotten used to running in the cold.  It’s not so bad, really.  You just need to know how to dress. Running clothes are stretchy, so you can always just throw on another shirt.  Unfortunately, when I’ve got 4 shirts on and two pairs of pants, I kind of start to feel like Randy from A Christmas Story.

Bending my elbows and knees is a little restricting, but hey, who needs full range of motion when they’re running? haha It’s actually not really a big deal when you’re going at half speed in order to not slip on ice, so everything pretty much works out.

This week, we got our first real snowfall of the season, and although I kept being told I was crazy; I still think running in the snow is a great time!  And truly, much safer than a) running on black ice b) driving through the snow to the treadmill at the gym.  Plus, it’s warmer when it’s snowing, so I got to go back to wearing only 2 shirts and I single pair of pants.  🙂

Don’t believe me that running in the snow is magical?, maybe some pictures will change your mind:

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2013 Holiday Running Streak Days 11 – 16

Days 11 – 16: December 11th – 13th

Christmas Tree!

Work was a lot calmer this week, and getting my daily run in was much easier. I didn’t have to get up at 4:30 AM a single time!  And I got in multiple runs that were more than a single mile. Woo!

The only hiccup was Tuesday.  It snowed a bit, then warmed up and melted, and then cooled off and froze.  There was a fair amount of black ice, which is never good for running in the dark. I ended up doing a lot of walking to avoid falling and/or getting hit by cars.

In addition to all the running, I’ve really been getting in to the Christmas spirt.  We’ve decorated the tree, and I’ve been listening to christmas music as much as possible.  Yes, even while running!  🙂  My favorites to run to have been “Last Christmas” by Wham, “Carol of the Bells” by Straight No Chaser, and “Snoopy’s Christmas”.  But, this is probably because these are some of my favorites in general.

Reindeer Run 5k (Holiday Streak Day 10)

Day 10: Reindeer Run 5k: December 7th, 2013 – 5k PR!!

Last week was the Reindeer Run 5k.  This year was the 4th time Jeff and I have done this race, and it’s one of my favorites!  The race is here in Beverly, and within walking distance of our house, eliminating any parking issues and standing around before the race.  One of the best parts of the race is that the entire course is made up of sections of routes I do every day or week.  It’s kind of cool to run these areas with a few hundred others. And, in a reindeer hat 🙂

This year, I decided to try for a 5k PR. It was kind of a last minute decision.  All spring, summer, and fall I was doing marathon training and doing very little speedwork.  I started out with some faster runs, but the heat was just too much and I stopped doing those in mid-July.  But even without speedwork, I started to notice in September and October that I was getting faster in my shorter mid-week runs as well as the long weekend ones.  While I was still focusing on the marathon, this did make me wonder a bit. After the big race, I had three holiday 5ks lined up…and after doing well in the thanksgiving and hanukkah ones, I thought it would be worth it to try and break my PR from summer 2010.

Jeff agreed to pace me in the race, even though he wasn’t very confident that we’d be able to do it.  The course is VERY hilly. It started out flat, but after the first tenth of a mile or so, we start a gradual incline followed by two short but steep hills.  I felt fairly confident at this point because I run these hills all the time (I own those hills!), and between the two, there is a man who sits on his front porch playing carols on his trumpet…it’s fun!  And, maybe a little to easy to get carried away because we finished the first mile faster than planned, in 8:14.  I’m glad I had Jeff there to try and slow me down a bit in the beginning because I was eager to get the PR and would have went even faster without him reminding me not to go out too fast.

Mile 2 was flatter, but included another gradual incline.  At this point in the race, I started to notice that running with the faster crowd is a lot quieter and less festive than running in the mid to back of the pack. In spite of this, I was still having a good time, with Jeff occasionally still having to nudge me to slow down.  We finished this mile in 8:18, again a bit faster than intended.

Coming out of mile 2, we hit two long gradual inclines, and my speed started to seriously decline.  The plan all along was to just see how it went, and to back off if it was too difficult. With less than a mile left, things were getting really difficult, but I knew if I could just hang on a bit longer, we’d make our time.  At one point, Jeff said we could slow down because it didn’t look like we were going to make it, but his math didn’t seem to make sense with what my watch was telling me, so I told him that I had to keep pushing.  When we rounded the final corner, I was exhausted, but Jeff was back on board and encouraging me as we “sprinted” towards the finish.  In the end, we finished mile three in 8:43, and beat my old PR by 7 seconds!  My new 5k PR is 25:57. 🙂  Next up, sub 25 min? 

2013 Holiday Running Streak – Days 5 – 9

Days 5 – 9: December 2nd – 6th, 2013

Just like I thought, this week was a monster.  Work was SO busy.  It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, whenever I have a deadline, there is just NEVER enough time.  On top of that we had our work Holiday party on Thursday afternoon, and I wasn’t about to miss that, so there was a small chunk of the work week I had to push off on to other days. Normally, if I had a week like this, I would have run zero miles, but because I’m signed up for the streak, I ran ALL FIVE DAYS!!!!!!  I went a single mile (or slightly more) every time, so I didn’t get a huge mileage number for the week, but I followed the rules, and I ended up running 5 more miles than I would have otherwise.  🙂

You must be asking yourself, “How’d she do it?”  Well, it wasn’t the most organized thing.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday I got up  at 4:45 AM and ran before work.  On Tuesday and Friday I went after.  I have to say that getting up that early was not as bad as I thought it would be.  And, the hardest day actually turned out to be Friday.  I wasn’t about to go Friday morning, (Certainly not after the 5 fabulous drinks I had at our Holiday party on Thursday!), so I was stuck with Friday night.  We had a bunch of (awesome) errands to run – we got a little present for our new baby niece, Sydney – who we get to meet this weekend for the very first time ever!!!, we picked up our race packets for the Reindeer Run that’s today!, and we got our Christmas tree!

After all the errands, I was beat…and was not in the mood for a run no matter how short.  But after such a long week, if I was going to quit the streak, it wasn’t going to be on Friday night.  So, I headed out, and even with the added bonus of freezing rain, I actually had a nice time.  🙂  And I saw one other crazy person running in the rain…both of us grinning ear to ear waving at each other, makes me think we were both overjoyed to find we weren’t the only nutcases out there.

Early!

Early!