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On a fine November day last year, Joel and I decided to sign up for the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon Relay. We ran it as a four person relay two years ago, which was fun, so we thought that it was a good idea to run it as a two person relay. Hmm…

The official training started in February. Luckily for me, Joel figured it all out. Run two short runs during the week and then a long run on the weekends. Seems easy enough. I quickly realized that running two days a week was not very feasible. Working full time and taking care of our daughter, the house, etc. kind of put a damper on my training plan. My weekday runs were 5 or 6 milers, so they worked well enough to run longer during the weekends. But once I hit the 9.5 mile mark, I also realized that I did have to run two days a week, otherwise I would not be able to start increasing my mileage without risking an injury. Luckily for us, my parents live in town so they have been very helpful with watching Julia for us so we can do this thing. I am super grateful for it! Even our neighbors helped us one weekend… so grateful!!

The 9.5 mile run was not too bad. On that run I surpassed my longest distance that I have ever ran since I started running about 5 years ago. Then two weekends ago, we ran 10.5 miles. “That was crazy!”, I thought. I felt super good and it gave me more confidence that I will be able to do this race.

Then, as I was running mile 10ish of my 11.5 mile training run on Sunday and Parachute Youth was blasting in my ear “Can’t Get Better Than This…“, I thought to myself… “Oh yes it can, actually!!”. At least I was in the woods and the song distracted me a bit and made me think of the mountain biking video where I discovered the song.

I remember after riding for a few years, a bunch of my friends were asking me why I was not racing. “You would do well!”, they said. My answer was always that cycling would become work. You have to ride a lot of hours to be able to have the stamina and fitness to be a racer. I ride because I love riding and because I love to explore the area on my bike. It is not my job… it is my hobby. The same goes for running. I love being in the woods and exploring our parks.

I recently read this article, which made me laugh but also resonated with me. It was called “I Hate Running” and the writer’s statement after finishing a 50 miler was on point. When someone congratulated him for finishing the race, his answer was something like “I just ran 750 miles… you just saw the last 50 miles!“. (Another great article to check out is “People Who Say That Running Is Fun Are Lying To You“.) Although my feat is not as great as his, this idea of running three times a week in order to complete a half marathon is kind of a chore. It has become work.

I am not sure why it feels this way. Perhaps all those years that I spent on the bike riding thousands of miles burned me out and this is starting to feel that way. Or perhaps the fact that I love to ride, run, hike, and other things makes me feel like I am stuck with this one thing. I guess that is the downside of having multiple hobbies. Ha!

Nevertheless, I am glad that I signed up for this race. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be able to run 10 miles, 11 miles, or even a half marathon. It is a good challenge and I do not want to stop. The race is on May 20th, so I am almost there. I guess that this race also made me realize that long distance running is not for me and that I am happier if I am able to do everything that I love instead of only one single activity.

As I write this, the weather forecast is calling for rain for tonight, on Thursday, and on Sunday. Another reason not to sign up for a race in Spring. Hooray for training!

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It is that time of the year again… the salt has washed away and the weather is warmer (although, not today), which means that the biking season is finally here! My first ride of the season was last Wednesday. I rode my usual Wednesday night ride with the Rochester Bicycling Club. My friends Brian and Cindy joined me for the ride, which was great! It was nice to see them and catch up. It is kind of funny how we do not see each other pretty much at all during the winter and then we spend so much time together all summer. It feels as though we just saw each other yesterday. I love it!

The ride felt great! I was unsure what to expect since I have not ridden since last September or October. The first rides are usually pretty painful. The endurance is out the window. But I was super happy with my ride! I rode 20.6 miles at a 14.6 average. Ever since I started running, my first rides of the season have felt so good. It amazes me!

When I first started riding, that is all I did. I rode 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes logging as much as 200 miles or more a week. It was my thing. And I loved it. I loved wandering through Mendon, Victor, the Finger Lakes. I live in such a beautiful area! My favorite was the big ride of the season… the Highlander. I always finished the bulk of the season with a century and the Highlander was it since it was an easy century due to the rest areas. I did the ride 6 years in a row (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). The ride itself was not easy at all, since it took us through the hilly Finger Lakes. But it was SO beautiful and all that pain was super worth it. Ha!

Then I had Julia so I had to find another thing, since riding took too long, especially the riding that keeps you in shape. So I took up running. I did not love it at all. It was fine. But I have grown to like it over the years. After much reservation, I now consider myself a runner. Haha! I can be both a rider and a runner, no?!? I am pretty ok with it.

I am happy that I can bike and run. I find them to complement each other really well… perfect cross training. In fact, I went for a run on Sunday and I felt great! I ran 5 miles at a 9:48 pace in the hilly Powder Mills park. That is pretty fast for me especially for a trail run.

I do miss those long rides though! I really love wandering on my bike. This week is not looking so good weather wise and I signed up for a run race, which is on Sunday, so I need to do some running. But I look forward to logging some miles in the saddle. The season just started after all!

 

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Every February and March I think about visiting a maple tree farm. Then somehow I forget about it. Perhaps it is because usually February and March are super cold and I do not feel like being outside to check out the maple trees. Ha!

Vermont is always associated with maple syrup, but we have a lot of maple tree farms in New York too. There are a slew of them in the Finger Lakes. Just do a search on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website and you will be amazed. You do not have to drive too far to find a maple tree farm.

One of the most popular spots is probably Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn. Every year the Inn serves a pancake breakfast with their new batch of maple syrup. I know folks who go there every year. The pancake part probably made them popular… who does not like pancakes with maple syrup? About 6 years ago, we decided to give them a try. The Inn is a drive, so when we visited it we bundled the trek with a hike through Letchworth State Park. Hiking through Letchworth in the winter is super pretty. I loved seeing the frozen water near the falls. Then after a 45 minute wait outside in the frigid cold but luckily sunny day, we made it in. The pancakes and the maple syrup were pretty good, but I was not sure if the long drive was worth it every year.

Last weekend was Maple Weekend in New York state. I decided to check out what farms are in the area so we can take Julia to learn how maple syrup is made. After searching on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website, I was surprised to find out how many farms are just in my area, let alone in the surrounding counties. I was super excited to find that there was a farm 5 minutes away from my house on Log Cabin Road.

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I actually had an idea that there was some kind of a maple tree farm around there. Whenever I ride my bike from home, I like to ride on Benson Road, which leads into Log Cabin. Benson Road is super pretty! It reminds me of the Adirondacks… super wooded and the trees’ canopies form an umbrella over the road. Towards the end of Benson right before Log Cabin there is always a little stand on the left side of the street with a maple syrup and honey sign. Since I was always on my bike, I never stopped, but I always told myself to go there with the car. But of course it always escaped my mind. There is another little stand on Willis Hill Road too, which I have never stopped there either since I am always on my bike when I pass by it.

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So last weekend we drove to the maple tree farm. We found out that the farm is called Kettle Ridge Farm and they make maple syrup, collect honey, sell eggs from their farm chickens, and are trying to grow shiitake mushrooms. How cool is that?!? The farm is family run by a father/son duo.

Julia loved learning how maple syrup is made. Eating a pancake with the maple syrup was even more exciting! And checking out the chickens was the highlight of her trip, especially since she was able to feed them. :)

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The tour of course included tasting the maple syrup. It was definitely delicious! One of the surprising things that we found out during the tour was the fact that the color is based on the weather during the tapping season. It has nothing to do with the boiling process. Apparently, the color of their maple syrup this year was light, then it got darker, and then it got light again. Interesting!!

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Maple syrup color ranges…

This morning I decided to make pancakes in order to taste test my usual maple syrup, Wegmans Organic Maple Syrup, with our new found maple syrup. Kettle Ridge Farm’s maple syrup was a clear winner. The maple syrup is more complex and flavorful.

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I am very excited that I found the farm. Who would have thought that I can find delicious maple syrup that is made 5 minutes from the house! Love it!

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I had an amazing run last week! I started to run with a group called The Borough Runners. The run starts and ends at The Lost Borough Brewery, which is fantastic! You run with a bunch of super nice people and then you have a pint of the most tasty beer… brilliant! Last week it worked out that only Joel and I decided to run the 4 miler route. And running I did… I averaged 8:33 per mile. That is super fast for me! I was very proud of myself.

It is all Joel’s fault. :) I have been chasing him for years.

It all started about 8 years or so ago when I bought my first road bike. It was terrible! I never rode before and even riding at all was a huge feat. Forget about keeping up with anyone. I found myself lost and defeated around the beautiful country roads of Mendon. I was so annoyed. We always rode with the Rochester Bicycling Club so even before we left for the ride, we would decide if he would ride with me or with the other faster boys. I was always happy when he rode with me. So many times he would yell “jump on” and I would pedal my hardest to catch him and draft behind him so I could ride faster. I cannot even tell you how many times we did that. It was such a rush, and still is, to be able to ride fast and with someone else. Over the years I got stronger and stronger, but it took me 6 years to be strong enough to ride with all those fast boys. I still remember the day… I was so proud of myself on that day too.

Then about 4 years ago I decided to start running. Running even 1 mile felt terrible at first. I was so annoyed. I thought that I was in good shape. But slowly I got stronger and stronger. I run by myself a lot, since it is so easy to run from the house. But same as with cycling, I do enjoy running with Joel and other folks. It definitely pushes you to go faster.

So last week I ran faster… because Joel was ahead of me and I was trying to catch him for pretty much the entire run. I am not a very competitive person, but for some reason I am competitive with Joel. I have so many episodes where he would come back from a ride or a run and he would share his amazing rides and runs. I always lovingly responded “whatever dude… you suck!“. And then I would go for a ride or a run and I would push myself to go faster.

I feel super lucky to have Joel in the front so I can chase him. It is definitely nice to have an inspiration and someone who pushes you to have amazing rides and runs.

Smooches Joel!

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According to WordPress I have not written in 10 months. 10 months!?!? How can that be. But alas, WordPress is correct. This working parent thing is a bit laborious. You know, the usual work, cook, take care of toddler, husband, and everything else. No need for details. Ha! The time seems to go by so fast these days. Even more the reason why I cannot seem to find the time to write.

Last time I wrote, I revealed that I was going to run a relay marathon… the Sehgahunda Trail Relay Marathon to be exact. And a relay marathon I ran. I was able to run the 6 miles in an hour, which was super for me! It was my first trail race and I was super happy with my result. The rest of my team did fantastic as well. In fact, the team placed 9 out of 17. So proud!

I spent the entire rest of the summer cycling and running. We also camped 3 times around the Adirondacks and visited Boulder again, so we did a lot of hiking during those trips. It was definitely a fun packed summer. I even did a little mountain biking while in Boulder.

Then fall and winter came. It has been a pretty warm fall/winter so far, so running and yoga have been my primary routine.

I decided to race in another trail race in early December, in the #TrailsRoc 0 Degrees WTF Festival. It was super fun! The race was 5.4 miles through Powder Mills Park and it was not 0 degrees… I was wearing shorts. Ha! I managed to finish that one in under an hour as well, which was great!

During the holidays, we visited my sister in DC and we ran twice during the trip. The weather was super warm so it was nice.

The highlight of the trip was running on the monument mall… a 6.3 mile loop among the monuments. It was super fun! We started the run around 7:30 am, so we were pretty much the only people there. Even nicer!

I was really hoping to do a bunch of cross country skiing this winter, but the temperatures keep fluctuating and there is not much snow at all… it is actually kind of nonexistent. The humongo east coast storm completely missed us, so that was that. I guess that it is only the end of January, so you never know. :)

In the coming year, I am hoping to do a few more trail run races. I have not settled on any ones in particular quite yet. Unfortunately, the Sehgahunda race sold out already so I will not be able to run that race again this year. I was pretty bummed when I found out. That was such a fun run!

I am also planning on riding a bunch. Last year I rode pretty much every Wednesday night, so I am hoping to do the same this year.

I have also been cooking a bunch, of course! I am hoping to share a few of my delicious finds soon.

Cheers!

 

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We just came back from the most fantastic trip. We spent 4 nights camping at the Adirondack Loj in Lake Placid with our friends Amy and Richard and their 2 daughters Chloe and Aubrey. Lake Placid is a heavenly place. The air is clean and the views are just amazing. I just love being there.

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At the summit of Mt Jo.

We have not made it to Lake Placid in about 5 years or something like that. Cycling, pregnancy, and Julia’s arrival were the culprits. :) Since Julia is a bit older now and after camping in Watkins Glen, we decided to give it a try. I must admit that I was a bit nervous. I cannot remember the last time we camped for 4 nights, if ever. I guess there is always a first… ha!

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Our house. :)

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The drive was fine, but as soon as we arrived in Lake Placid, it started to pour… a torrential downpour with hale. Yikes!! I knew that rain was in the forecast, but no one mentioned hale. Luckily we planned to have lunch first, so we did not have to setup camp quite yet. The rain did stop, so we ended up setting camp in semi dry conditions. The rest of our stay was beautiful! Sunny and warm. So lucky!

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We had lots of activities planned, thanks to Richard. He is so good at planning! :) He found a bunch of things for us to do, including hikes that were toddler friendly. Owl’s Head was the first mountain that we climbed. It was a typical Adirondack mountain… normal trail leads to scrambling up rocks and boulders as you reach the summit. As soon as we started our hike, Julia insisted on hiking on her own. Once we let her loose, she was having a blast! She loved climbing up the rocks and boulders. So fun!

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Julia’s first hike in the Adirondacks… Owl’s Head.

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We made it! Hoorrayyyy!!

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Our second hike was Mt Jo. This too was a typical Adirondack mountain. We decided to hike it as part of a guided tour. Our leader Laurel told us about the vegetation and history of the mountain. It was fun to lean more about the area. Once again Julia insisted on hiking on her own, but since we were hiking with a guide, we kept telling her that she had to wait. She ended up hiking on her own during the descent. It was definitely more challenging descending, but she did so great! She loved using the roots as holds.

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Julia descending Mt Jo.

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I am so proud of her! I never in a million years would have thought that my 2 year old could hike, especially not a mountain in the Adirondacks. So great!!

Our planned activities also included a bike ride for the boys and another for the girls. Joel and Richard went for a mountain bike ride on the Lussi and Loggers trail. Apparently it was a good ride.

Amy and I rode on the Adirondack Loj Road. It included a few awesome descents. Amy turned around once we reached Route 73 and I continued on to Bear Cub Road. The road was super nice… very quiet and scenic. I passed the Cornell maple and potato seed farms, a few farming fields, as well as 2 guys on a horse and buggy that was pulling a huge tire. They stopped to let me pass and I learned that they were using the huge tire to move rocks. Ha! Riding on the road also gave me a different perspective of Algonquin Mountain… I have only seen the mountain from 2 directions, so this was kind of fun.

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Amy riding on one of the ascents on Adirondack Loj Road going toward Route 73.

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The road had some amazing view of the surrounding mountains.

My return on Adirondack Loj Road was a different story… those amazing descents turned into painful ascents. The worst of it was at the last stretch before reaching the campground. Oy! I was really hoping to do another ride, but time did not allow. I really wanted to ride on River Road. Joel and I took a drive on it instead and it was so beautiful… lots of twists and turns and amazing views of Whiteface Mountain. Next time.

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Riding on Route 73… I could not help myself not snapping a photo of the sky jumps. :)

Julia and Chloe rode their bikes a bunch too. As soon as Julia woke up everyday, her first words were “I want to go outside and ride my bike!”. They rode around the campground’s road and also around our campsite. It was so fun to see the two of them ride. Amy and I kept saying that we were so glad that we had their bikes, since they had something to do. I love watching them ride. So cute!

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Riding around the campground’s road.

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I love the sun rays in the background!

Aside from hiking and biking, we mostly hung out around camp, swam in Heart Lake, went to a show, and spent a little time in town, where we walked around and also ate some crêpes. That’s right… I said crêpes. It was the best discovery! We had some as a snack one day and some for lunch the next day (savory and sweet). Delicious! Another reason to visit Lake Placid! :)

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Julia’s first time wearing a head lamp.

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It was such a fun trip! Julia did so well at camp. She slept super well every night, despite the cold nights, and loved being outdoors. I look forward to our next trip.

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View of Heart Lake.

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I just realized that I have not written a post since March. March… how can that be?!?! I remember writing the last post a month or so ago… or so it seems. I guess between taking care of Julia, doing house chores, cooking (yes, I have been cooking), reading my book, trying to finish off the entire Breaking Bad series (just finished it last week), and trying to stay active… yeah, yeah, yeah… excuses, excuses.

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Hiking on the Crescent Trail.

Trying to stay active has been a bit challenging, but it is getting much easier. Instead of running, hiking, biking on our own, we have been bringing Julia along a bunch. We have a running stroller, a backpack for hiking, and a bike trailer. Luckily she loves all 3!!

As I mentioned, we have a bike trailer… our friend let us borrow it. I have always heard mixed things about what kids think about the bike trailer. Some apparently love it and some apparently hate it. As soon as Julia climbed in it, she was sold. Joel rode around the neighborhood for the first ride.

Julia's first trailer ride!

Julia’s first trailer ride!

Then we did our first family ride to the Village of Fairport. That was fun since it was during the Fairport Canal Days festival, so we had lunch and listened to some music.

Our first family ride.

Our first family ride.

Then a few weeks ago, Joel took her on an RBC ride. He rode for an hour and a half and I guess she really liked it. I rode separately and when I saw her that evening, she told me about her adventure… how she saw a rooster, a bunny, a horse, and deer. She was super enthusiastic about it. :)

Julia's first RBC ride.

Julia’s first RBC ride.

The downside of it is that the thing is a tank! Because of that, we cannot really transport it, unless that is the only thing that we put in our trunk. Our neighborhood is so hilly that riding with it is a workout, for Joel at least since I do not ride that bike. I think that my legs would fall off. Ha!

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Julia did not care for the backpack for a long time, but lately she is more interested in it. At the beginning of June we went camping at Watkins Glen State Park with a couple of friends who have a little girl, Chloe, who is Julia’s age. They played so well together!

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Hiking with Chloe.

Chloe has a backpack too, so we went hiking together. The trip was so memorable for Julia. A week or more after the trip, she was still talking about hiking by the waterfalls.

Hiking at Watkins Glen State Park.

Hiking at Watkins Glen State Park.

I think that that hike definitely helped with being more fond of it. We have taken her on several hikes since then and she stills seems to like it.

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Hiking with Chloe at Abraham Lincoln Park.

The running stroller has been a hit too. She loves to “run” with us. She loves looking at the trees, spotting birdies, and waving to doggies. A few weeks ago we decided to do a run loop from the house to the playground and back. She was so excited once we arrived at the playground.

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Ready for a run!

Riding, hiking, and running is SO fun! We look forward to many more adventures!

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