Month: August 2015

Cross Country adventures


So proud!!

Today I’ll spotlight another up and coming runner in my family – my daughter!  My kids have both participated in running for many years now.  One of their first races was when she was 6 years old.

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Even then we knew how to celebrate a great run!

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She has also participated in Girls On The Run for several years.  She enjoys racing, but was never one to request to go out for a run with me.  So I was excited when she signed up for Cross Country.  It involves practice 5 days a week, and a meets usually once a week.  Luckily the coach makes practices fun and she has been enjoying it!  They had their first meet (an invitational, with many schools) this past week.  Mind you, Cross Country is a new area for both Alan and I.  Neither one of us knew much about it, but now we do!  Facts learned: cross country happens in the Fall.  The kids run in the grass.  They run almost 2 miles.  All of the kids start at the same time.  Everyone gets to run.

At the first meet we were blown away with the number of kids.  This meet wasn’t even one of the bigger meets in terms of the number of schools involved!  And when they started, all of the kids took off running in a big group.  Crazy! (for runners who are used to organized starting chutes!)

She finished 26th out of 137 girls in her division, which was also good enough to get her a ribbon for her performance.  I could tell she was quite proud of her efforts, and so were we.  14:44 for 3200m.  A faster pace than mine!!

As for my running, I took both of the kids out with me for my 5 mile run on Sunday.  It was super humid, but the kids did a great job and they finished it with only minor complaints 🙂  Unfortunately during the run my right shin started hurting and it was annoying by the time we were done.  I iced it right away, in hopes it will be better by tomorrow.


Blue toenails!  That can only mean one thing – psych up time for Boston Qualifying!!  I need all of the positive energy I can get.

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Q:  Do you ever coordinate your nail polish to your race outfit?

I don’t really because nail polish on my hands never stays on long enough.  But my toes will also be blue to support Boston!

Q: Did you ever run cross country in school?

I can’t even remember our school having a cross country team!  That’s how far removed I was from sports in school.

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Oh the pain!

Taper

As my taper starts for the Erie marathon I start to think of all of the things I could have done during this training cycle.  Should I have pushed a lot harder during that speedwork a few weeks ago?  [probably]  Should I have ran slower on my long runs and focused on endurance? [maybe]  Should I have gone to the gym twice a week to lift weights like I always say I want to?  [absolutely]

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So of course my first reaction is to hit the gym.  It started out well because there was a new guy at the front desk checking people in and he complimented me on my sweater!  And then he said, “oh, or that a blazer or a vest?”  I don’t hear that every day from a guy at the gym!! 🙂

< Random side note… I got carded the other day when I was buying beer at the grocery store (yes, I’m 47…) and the guy checked my birthdate from my drivers license and said “4/20, best birthday ever!”.  Ok, who says stuff like that when they are working??  >

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I know dude, it’s mind blowing.

Anyhow, back to the gym story.  I went to the gym on Tuesday and lifted very little weights.  For some reason I was starving and was a bit shaky so I just did the minimum.

Come Weds, and I’m sore!!  I know, you just can’t lift weights once a month and expect some sort of miracle.  So for my running rest day I decided to go home on my lunch hour and do some yoga to stretch out my legs.  I typically don’t have the patience for yoga, and it makes me feel like an old person because I can’t touch my toes, but I did find this which was good and helped quite a bit…

After that, I decided to find a good foam rolling instructional video, just to see if there was something I was missing.  This was the really good one that I found…

Let me tell you, that foam rolling was the bomb!!  My legs were still a bit sore from this week’s runs and this really hit the spot.  Literally.  Pain, but oh so helpful pain.  Anyone who has foam rolled knows what I’m talking about!

So there you have it, two short videos that can help you out with some sore legs, glutes and more.

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Q: Do you practice yoga on a regular basis?  If so, for stretching or for centering yourself… or both?

Q: Do you foam roll on a regular basis?

I sure will do it a lot more now that I have done all of these moves!

My running this week…

Well first, I need to back up to last week.  I had that sore shin issue for several days, but with a rest day on Thursday, all was good on Friday.  Alan went with me for mile long run, which I changed to be 22 miles instead of 20 because I have not had a “super long” run this training cycle and I like to go to 22 miles.  It just seems like more of an accomplishment than going 20 miles.  And “4 more miles” seems a heck of a lot easier than “only 6 more miles” when I think about completing the actual race.

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So we went for our run after the kids got on the school bus.  The weather was nice, and it was sunny, but not really too hot.  I let Alan help plan the route and thanks to his smarts, we did not have to run back in forth in front of our house for a half mile, or “just another time around the block” to get to 22 miles.  Kudos to him!!  In my opinion, that is a major buzz kill for a long run.

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Alan is a great running partner.  He ran 20 miles on Thursday, but sure, he’ll go for 22 more miles on Friday with me!  And, he doesn’t mind that I like to listen to podcasts and music during our runs.  AND, he’ll take the fall by getting hit by a car for me!  WHAT?  Ok, not exactly but we did have quite the scare on this run.  We were waiting at a stop light for several minutes, and when the “walk” signal came on at the crosswalk, we proceeded to run across.  What we failed to see what a driver who was also waiting to turn left towards us who was in a hurry and started coming straight at us!  She headed towards Alan, which caused me to jump back and then she swerved towards me!  I just stood there like a deer in the headlights.  Luckily she slammed on the breaks, but we were only a foot from her car.  OMG.

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Other than that, the run actually went well, with an overall pace of 9:12.  Considering my goal pace for the marathon is 8:49, and I was just “taking it easy” on this long run, I’d call that a win!

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However, my concern was that by mile 22 I was starving and I literally ripped off my iPod and shoes and flopped in my pool.  I didn’t even have the strength to take off my socks at that point.  Not completely a big morale boost, but it was an accomplishment and I think anyone (even Alan!) would be tired after running 22 miles.  I think the grape Popsicle helped a lot too.

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In celebration of our run we went to our favorite restaurant and enjoyed some refueling.  Kind of a guilty pleasure having a beer on a Friday for lunch!!

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Saturday morning was a fun one too.  I had signed up for a 5K because I got a free race entry from my job.  I didn’t have the foresight to look past the free entry and check my schedule to see that it was after my very long run.  So, the race must go on.  I talked my friend into running with me and I just stayed with her for most of the race.  She is trying to get back into running and is having some respiratory issues so it was a bit of a struggle for her, but she still did good.  After the 3 mile mark she motioned for me to run ahead.  I thought she was going with me, so I started sprinting.  After I saw her reassuring me to go ahead without her, I cranked out my fastest sprint to the finish.  I got 2nd place our age group and she got 3rd!  It was a small race, but still, yeah us!  That first half mile was killer, but after that it ended up being a great recovery run and I think it really helped me the rest of the day.

Sunday was a rest day, and I was sore.  Monday was “hills”.  I did a random hill program on the treadmill and it was nothing exciting or even challenging!

Monday night we went to the running shop’s group run at the park.  I ran 3 miles with the kids.  My daughter cranked out a 7:21 mile, to get a new PR on her new Garmin watch (bought for her new sport, Cross Country!).  My son kept up some strong paces too, challenging both Alan and I who looked like a couple of old runners.  Alan just had a “most mileage ever” week of 105 miles!  Yes, for one week!  He was also exhausted.

This was our 2nd week of winning prizes at the group run.  My son got a nice running bag this time.

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This morning was a VO2Max run on my training schedule.  Oh man, I really sucked at it.  My glutes are still feeling sore from that long run (I think) and I just wasn’t hitting my fast paces.  It was 1/2 mile intervals and I only completed 1 of the 5.  Oh well, those days just happen.

I’m starting my taper for the Erie marathon, so I’ll be trying to get lots of rest, stretching, and keeping it low key.  Hoping to gain some super powers between now and Sept 13th.  haha!

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Q:  What foods do you like to eat after a long run or race?

Burgers and beer are my favorites.

Q: Do you like to listen to podcasts while you run?  If so, which ones?

Q:  Ever had any close calls with cars??

Punta Cana – part 3 – snorkeling!

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Wow, can you believe it’s taken me 3 weeks to recap a 8 day vacation??  Well, life gets busy ‘ya know.  Moving right along, here is part 3 of my Punta Cana vacation adventure.  And then I’ll get back to writing about some marathon training, since I’m getting down to a 3 week deadline (eeek!).

Another excursion we booked was an afternoon of snorkeling.  It was advertised as going out on a catamaran, snorkeling in the ocean, stingrays and sharks, and ending with a short visit at the lovely sandbar where you can enjoy a drink.  Well, it was all of those things – and more!  The “more” part was a lot more action than what we had imagined.  When the boat was pulling up to let off the previous passengers, it looked a lot like a “party boat” with a lot of drinking and loud music.  My daughter took one look at it and said “Mom, I don’t want to go on that boat!”.

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Well, too bad because that’s the trip we booked!  It was very interesting being 4 of only 6 English speaking people on the boat.  Lots and lots of Spanish music, and jokes (we think) and laughs and we just smiled and nodded, as polite foreigners do 🙂

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The snorkeling area was a tad crowded, but it still offered us a great view of the fish underneath and we got to stay out snorkeling twice as long as everyone else… because you know, we don’t speak Spanish so we don’t know if they were calling us back in or not!

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After the snorkeling, we docked at a floating pen where they kept the stingrays and sharks.  I loved seeing the stingrays. They are such peaceful creatures.  The sharks were a pretty good size.  We held each of them.  I got to put my arms around the shark and hold him in the middle!  The stingrays shimmyed across our hands as we tried to “hold them like a pizza”.  Sneaky stingrays!

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Stingrays float across the bottom of the ocean when they swim. So beautiful!

Unfortunately we did not buy the pictures of us holding the stingrays and sharks, because he wanted $60.  But here is a picture from back in 2009 when we paid some guy $10 to get a picture of us holding a shark in Cozumel, Mexico!  Good times.  The shark each one of us held in Punta Cana was that big, and it’s tail was flipping all over the place!

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OMG, my son is only 4 years old! Are we really letting him hold a shark? As you can tell, he was pretty excited about it all…

Next up was the sandbar.  We all got to hang out in the water and enjoy some tropical drinks.  Oh, and for some reason they blew up a big floaty ball and a girl tried to stand up in it!  Epic fail, but quite entertaining.

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In the end, it was an enjoyable excursion, even though it was a rowdy crowd.

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I’ll probably have one more post with more pictures soon.  So many good memories from this trip!!

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Q:  If given the chance, would you hold or swim with sharks?

My husband and I went on a shark dive in the Bahamas.  The shark’s fins brushed against us while they were feeding them!  They were beautiful to watch, but we dare not touch them 🙂

Q: Do you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving?

I’ll be honest, scuba diving kind of freaks me out (I get claustrophobic!), but I try my hardest not to let that get to me.

Q: Do you speak any languages other than English?

I probably should have taken Spanish in high school instead of French!

 

 

Adventures in Traverse City & Mackinaw

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I’m interrupting my recap of Punta Cana because I got sidetracked with the pictures from the camping trip we just took!  We took a trip up North to Traverse City, Michigan, this past weekend.  The highlight included a day at Mackinac Island.  Complete with lots of fudge!  It’s a specialty of the island.  We had a sample from every fudge shop on the island – and there are at least 8 of them!  This island prohibits motorized vehicles, so transportation is horses, bikes and your feet.

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On our ferry ride to the island we got to go under the Mackinac bridge (Mighty Mac!).  Very beautiful!  That thing is almost 5 miles long!!

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The island is small, but oh so beautiful.  The water is crystal clear.

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All around the beach people had built rock piles or towers.  They are called “cairns” and there was something very Zen about them.

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We built a rock pile too! PS, I did not ask my kids to dress in matching clothes. They did that on their own. 🙂

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We also rode tandem bikes.  Note to self, single speed tandem bikes are a HECK of a workout when trying to go up hills.  Thought I was going to have a heart attack.  Whew!!

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And, I’ve found out that my daughter is deathly afraid of running into other cyclists, so having her as my co-biker on the tandem was a challenge because she kept slamming on the breaks as soon as she felt we were too close, or going too fast (which was often!!).  Wish you could have heard her freaking out when I took this selfie (despite her smile, which I’m convinced was only for show).

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After that day of biking and walking around all day on Friday, there was no way I was moving out of the bed on Sunday morning for my scheduled 17 mile long run.  I felt like I had been run over by a train.  So, long run postponed until Sunday!  We hit the beach in Traverse City instead.

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Traverse City also had a fun splash area.  It was quite refreshing!  And the water jets were so powerful it shot us off of the ground!  haha, just kidding 😉

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Back at the campground that night, the kids made us these awesome “arrangements” from treasures they found on a nature hike.

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Alan and I got up early on Sunday for our long run and went to the bike trail, which was right next to the campground.  Only problem was, the gate between the two was closed AND locked.  Ha, do you think a locked gate is going to stop these runners from getting the required miles done?  Hell no!  So we climbed over the fence!  The funny part was that I almost ripped my shorts (OH NO!, not my favorite Athleta shorts!!!!), and while I was trying to avoid that situation, I jumped down from a bit higher than I expected.  I landed pretty hard, but it was OK.

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Oh sure, it’s open now!

The miles were hot and sweaty and by mile 14 I was downright hating the whole thing and wanted to be done.  Luckily Alan is very forgiving and he just let me complain on and got me to the end.  Thanks honey!!

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One of the happier moments on this run. haha!

Along the way a snake slithered across the path.  Yes, Alan actually took him out of the grass and put him back on the trail so we could look at him!  We like snakes 🙂

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OMG, he’s sooooo cute!

We had a lot of other good times on our camping trip, like usual.  I love camping!  On the way home, we stopped at another amazing place – the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  We climbed the dunes.  I know it looks flat in our picture, but trust me, it’s a whole lot of uphill!

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Did anyone bring water?

See what I mean?  The dunes actually go on for another mile, until they reach the lake shore.  I have never done that hike, but someday I will… when it’s not 85 degrees.

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The best part of the dune climb is running downhill at breakneck speed.  It’s a great time!!  Surprisingly I didn’t even do a face plant on the way down (always a fear in the back of my mind).

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Fast forward to Monday morning.  I got out of bed for my morning run, and I felt it.  A pain near the shin of my right leg.  Yep, the same leg that I landed hard on when jumping that fence.  Ugh.  I panicked!  I sunk back in bed and wondered if I had a stress fracture!  My mind was racing.  Finally I decided I wasn’t going back to sleep at this point and if I had fractured something, I probably would have felt it yesterday.   I ended up running a slow, cautious 3 miles on the treadmill in slight pain and I iced it at work.

Tuesday morning was a slight repeat of Monday, with a similar, but less, pain in the shin again.  I decided it was only a strain of some sort, but was still a little freaked because I could not pass the “hop test” on that leg.  Still, not thinking it’s anything, ran 10 miles on the treadmill.

Come Weds it’s feeling about 90% better so I’m pretty well convinced it’s something that some rest will help it, and luckily Thurs is a rest day.  I’m getting ready for my last 20 mile run on Friday.  Heck, then it’s all downhill from there until Erie marathon!!  Hopefully my next post will be the rest of my Punta Cana pictures.

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Q:  Do you enjoy riding on tandem bikes?

My son was awesome at being my partner on the tandem bike.  I guess you just need to find a rider who is in sync with you!!

Q:  Have you ever had to break the law to run??

What, me?  Never.

Q:  Have you ever had a stress fracture?

Punta Cana – part 2 – Monkeys & Zip Lining

For one of the excursions outside of the resort, we decided to go zip lining.  It just so happens that this excursion started with a trip to Monkey Land!  Cute little monkeys??  Yes please!!

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Before I get any farther into this post, I must warn you that I have super frizzy, curly hair when it’s humid out.  It’s downright scary!  Thus, I resorted to wearing a large hat while poolside.

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Yep, a braid AND a hat takes care of that mess!

At night I just let it go curly and tried to tame it a little.

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But without any help, it was just not pretty!

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Hey, really nice looking hair lady!

So please try to see past my hair and see the beauty of the countryside for this post…

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The journey to the zip lines and monkeys took us into the mountains on the island and past some small villages.  It’s at times like these I like to point out to my kids how happy these people are to have clean water and electricity, and to reflect on that next time they whine about not being able to play their video games for *another* hour!

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I thought it was really cool because we got to see several fruits and vegetables growing there: pineapples, avocados, mangoes, cocoa beans, and coconuts.  Look close in the middle of the picture, there is a cocoa bean pod in that tree!  I had no idea they were so big.

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The monkeys live in a very large contained area (several acres), but they know when the tourists arrive and that the tourists are bringing them food!  When we went into their space, within a few minutes about a dozen monkeys appeared from out of the trees and bushes.

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They walked over to our bowls and selected their favorite treats out of our well stocked bowls.  They scampered all over our arms, shoulders and on top of our heads gathering their food.

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A couple of mommy monkeys also appeared with their babies clinging to their back.  The babies hold on to their mom all day long, even when they are sleeping!  It was pretty amazing to see them.  And they were sooooooo cute!!

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After the monkeys (“what, we can’t take them home??”), we headed over to the zip lining building and got geared up for our adventure.  There is something kind of badass about getting all of that gear on!

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The zip lines were controlled by us – using a large leather glove we could slow ourselves down (pulling down on the cable), or speed up (by letting go).  We were taught how to make the perfect landing, and off we went!  We went on 10 different platforms that had varying heights and features.

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Some were really fast, and others went across the water and through the lush landscape.

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It was really beautiful in the mountains!  It was a really great day that we’ll never forget.  The zip lines were fast, and a lot of fun!  Here is a quick clip of me zip lining…

Thanks for taking to the time to endure the bad hair pictures today.  More fun vacation pics to follow!

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Q: Is your hair affected by humidity? 

I swear there were people by the pool with perfect looking hair.  How does that happen??  I really did brush my hair on vacation.  I promise.

Q: Monkeys – want one for a pet, or are they just a little too sneaky for you?

Q: Have you ever been zip lining?  If so, where?

Punta Cana, part 1!

With so many awesome things on our trip to Punta Cana, I’ve decided to write a couple posts about it.  And here’s part 1!

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Punta Cana is on the island of the Dominican Republic.  This is information I learned just prior to our trip 🙂  Spanish speaking, and quite tropical.  We had a super duper early flight and finally got to our hotel, the Iberostar Bavaro around 3pm.  I was pretty much a zombie for that day, so it consisted of room check in, food, sleep.

The rest of the days were filled with fun, sun, and even some run(ning)! (oh, and “rum” which also rhymes!)

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Running at 6am was the start to almost every day.  We could see the sun rise, and greet the 3 or 4 other crazy people who were also out running on their vacation.  We ran between 4 miles and 8 miles each day, which only made a little dent in the calories that I inhaled each day.  Dessert after breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.  I have no willpower!

We got to stop at the “adults only” hotel next to us since our kids weren’t with us on the morning runs.  And of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do our own Titanic scene (so cheesy!!).

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“King of the world!!!” (hey you people from the other hotel, get off our boat!!”

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Our pool was really awesome.  It was right next to a kids play area, so it was pretty mellow with other families, and not a lot of loud party people.   Don’t get me wrong, we still got our drink on, and busted out some loud tunes when the water aerobics came on, but it was pretty much PG-13 at our pool.  Just the way I like it!

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I’m feeling the burn!

We did get to see a fair share of butts on this trip.  Europeans, and other countries, are far more relaxed and free in their choice of bikini bottoms and the hineys were hanging out of a lot of Brazilian cut suits.  No problem.  We were all pretty used to it after the first day!  We even had a couple of topless women strolling on our beach.  Now that’s something you sure don’t see in Ohio!

Oh my.  That's all I can.

Oh my. That’s all I can.

Breakfast consisted of a wonderful assortment of every food that you could think of under the sun.  Our breakfast restaurant was right next to fish, flamingos, and other birds that loved to be fed.  I’m pretty sure the only reason they put the saltine crackers at the buffet was for the kids to feed the animals.

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One afternoon the kids wanted to do the free scuba dive in the pool.  We had done that last year in Mexico too, but this year the equipment fit my son much better and they both did very well.  We almost did a resort dive course for them so we could dive in the ocean together, but decided to hold off and get them certified in Ohio so we didn’t take up our vacation time.

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Each day a photographer brought around an exotic animal for pictures.  We chose the parrots but on other days there were huge iguanas, and a monkey.  I’m surprised I didn’t totally freak out because my nose got bit last year by a toucan in Mexico!  I did keep a watchful eye on them though….

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The kids had a blast building sand castles on the beach and named each one they created “Fort Safe” or “Fort Safer”  or “Fort Super Safe”.  Sadly, they were no match for the high tide each night and were wiped out.

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Our resort was covered with palm trees and coconuts.  The workers would cut the coconuts down and cut off the tops and share with the guests.  We were disappointed to find out that we did not like coconut water one bit!  Bleech!!  But it did make a nice prop for pictures, and we enjoyed flaking the yummy white coconut meat out from the inside of it. (btw, that lady in the background of my picture was pregnant and even she was sporting a Brazilian cut bikini!!)

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I’m having a lot of fun browsing through our million pictures finding some to share with you!  But for now, I’ll leave you with this and there are more to come!

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The view from our chair at the pool

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Adios! Hasta pronto 😉

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Q:  I must know, are there a lot of Brazilian cut suits where you are from?? (is that the correct term even?)

Q: Give the choice, do you hang out at the pool or the beach?

The choice was too hard, so we did both!!

 

A tiny vacation preview…

I haven’t had a chance to copy the pictures off my cameras yet, but I’ll give you a teaser from a pic or two from my iPhone.  Needless to say, it was a pleasure to be surrounded by the beauty of the tropics!

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I did get out and run almost every day of my trip.  Not because I was training, but just because I wanted to!  I enjoyed the time with my husband and it started the day off right.  And heck, what else am I going to do because I just woke up naturally at 5:50 am every day!  Mostly because we were so tired from our busy days that most nights we were in bed, lights out, by 10:30.  Ah vacation, so much sleep!!

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I ran at home this morning and it was a nice break from the heat and humidity of Punta Cana.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find my watch charging cord so my Garmin was dead.  Quick thinking, I put a skirt on (which has a big pocket in the back for my iPhone!) and turned on RunKeeper.  It notified me of each mile.  The odd thing was, it told me some wacky paces!  Also, the miles were happening later than with my Garmin.  A tad annoying because I had to run farther than normal, and it said my current pace was in the 11:00’s when clearly none of my miles were slower than 10!  (well, except the last smidge of a mile, because I had to get the phone out of my pocket to stop my run!)

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But the point was just to run today, so it really didn’t matter what the pace was.  So technically it didn’t matter, but even so… when it’s telling me I’m 2 minutes slower, that’s a bit unsettling!

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A headlamp? Why no, it’s just the morning sun shining on me!

On a great note, it was a beautiful morning and I got to wear my new Newtons!!  Love the happy colors staring at me 🙂

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This morning I also ran into an older guy whom I have seen running near our neighborhood many times (in the dead of winter, and all year round!).  I saw him at a race earlier this year and decided to introduce myself so I could give him a wave next time I see him, and he won’t think I’m crazy.  I’m glad I did because I got to chat briefly with him this morning and he remembered me.  And I didn’t even seem crazy!

More vacation pictures to follow!!

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So tell me….

Q: Do you ever use your phone for running?

I wonder if it would have tracked differently in Strava.  Hmmm…

Q: Have you ever met a new runner friend by stopping them on a run, since you always see them running your same path?

I’m not quite that brave yet!

Q: When is the last time you’ve bought new shoes?