Monday, 31 August 2015

Boston Pictures

I'm in love with Boston. If I end up living for longer in the US it would be one of my go to cities on the East coast to move to. Lots of universities and tons of biotech..what better place for two biologists. I tried to see as much of the city as possible and even crossed the Boston Marathon finish line in the only capacity it's going to happen in... Unoffically! Besides that and whale watching I got to do a ton of cool stuff like tour the Sam Adams Brewery, since I can't choose between pictures enjoy this photo dump.

Training week

I'm a little behind on my posting and its a bit overwhelming, so just to keep myself accountable, here is a short training recap from last week.

Monday- Flying back from Boston and super sore after the race on Sunday-rest

Tuesday-2 miles at 10.30 min/mile

Wednesday-Swimming 30 minutes at lunch, lost part of my goggles but miraculously found the clear piece of plastic when I stood on it. Lawn mowing for an hour in the evening.

Thursday- 4 miles at 10 min/mile

Friday- Bodypump 1 hour (at last) at 7am and hot yoga class 1 hour 15 at 6pm

Saturday- DOMs to the max- 4 miles at 9.04 min/mile

Sunday- 5.5 miles, washed out of it mid run and for the subsequent 3 miles. I felt like I was in the pool. It was lovely and cooling but it killed my phone :(

This week I've been sleeping a lot, something I didn't do while I was away. This is probably also because I'm back into the swing of Bodypump and feel like I'll be paying for my break for a few weeks. To combat this I've started trying to get in 30 minutes of gentle (<--outside of classes, class=killer hard) yoga a day to recover and get a little flexibility back.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A flying visit to Salem MA

After the race on Sunday I hopped in the car and drove around 40 minutes to Salem MA. This is very close to Boston and the site of the Salem witch trials in the 1690s. I was curious about the town as even growing up in Ireland I had heard about the witch trails even if it was through watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
We scored free parking straight away and went to find breakfast/lunch. For the few days I was with my friends were so nice and hunted down vegan/vegetarian restaurants and today was no exception. We went to Life Alive. They had lots of tasty food but nothing really breakfasty (which I hadn't had yet) but I wasn't too hungry after the race so I opted for coffee (in a nifty contraption) and an amazing smoothie.
Then we went off along the Main Street following a trail with creepy statues of the trials victims. We then spent around 20 minutes in the Salem Witch Museum and got a great tour which outlined the background and history of the Witch Trials. Just walking around the town was fun as they even had some very serious Wiccan shops. I would have liked to take more pictures in there but they don't want tourist clogging up their shops just to take photos. In all we only had around 2.5 hours in Salem (had to return the hire car). I'd love to go back and explore more. I think it's an amazing place to go to learn about a very interesting piece of history.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

North Shore Half Marathon, Salisbury MA 2015 recap

Another state completed, woohoo, state number 10. I really had no business running a half marathon but it was too good of an opportunity to run in New England without paying for flights. I was staying on anyway to see my friends after a conference in Boston, so why not run? This was an inaugural race held in Salisbury about an hour north of Boston along the coast. It was part of a weekend of races held during the Seacoast Running Festival. 
One of my sweet friends, who I was visiting, played navigator and came with me to Salisbury for the weekend. On Saturday we picked up my bib and tech t-shirt and proceeded to wander around the area. Like most beachy towns there wasn't a whole lot to do other than the beach, arcades and bars. After a week of eating and drinking, especially with the race the next morning, the bars were out and the weather wasn't nice enough to lie on the beach. 

Another friend who lives near by came and met us and we went further north to shop and play a few games. Later that evening we drove to Newburyport for dinner, had gorgeous Thai food and lamented the fact that we hadn't found this beautiful little town earlier in the day.

The hotel I was staying in wasn't the nicest for the price (clean but run down) but man was it convenient..Sunday morning it was less than a 5 minute drive straight to the parking. The race area was right by the beach and parking was really easy. The meters here were expensive compared to Columbia (x2 the price) but the local authorities let us park for free until 11am on race morning. 
Everything was right there with drinks and Kind bars laid out for runners. For the first year of this race they had some really great sponsors. Ford sponsored the 10k and one lucky duck won a Ford Fiesta. They even had Dave McGillivay, race director of the Boston Marathon, as a speaker so someone has done an excellent job with organization. 
 I'll voice my only complaint about the whole race....the port a potty situation. At the start I went early and didn't have to line up but they obviously never cleaned them out after the other days races and lets just say they were full...I retched a good few times when I went into one because of the smell. They never smell good but this was a bit much. As a result I didn't go back and by the time I started running I was dying for a pee.....but there were no potties anywhere on the course. I was fine but if my stomach had acted up I think this would have been a much harder race.

The weather for the most part was great. I ran in temperatures in the 70s for the first time in months and it was overcast. The only thing that followed me from the south was the humidity. I was still a sweat monster within a few miles. 
The course was really easy to follow but I could never figure out where we were except for the fact that we passed the same graveyard multiple times. I tried taking a bunch of pictures with my gopro but since the sky was so overcast it really doesn't do the area justice. We ran through lots of grassy swampy areas that were beautiful and into a state reservation that gave us views of the sea. Some of the time we were off the road on paved trails and some of it was on open roads under the watchful eye of the law. 
There were aid stations every 2-3 miles. The first one I walked through had a Ucan electrolyte drink and after that I only saw water.
For the first 5 miles I ran with the 2 hour pacer. The cooler temperatures made that feel easy but I'm pretty sure she was running slightly below pace. My gps kept saying 8.45 min/miles but it was very patchy so its hard to tell. Either way that was only sustainable for so long since I've not been running far at near that pace in a while. Around mile 7 I got my first bout of ITB induced pain in months, left hip and right knee. My shoes are almost new so I can only put this down to my lack of weight training (and my glutes are screaming that this is the case after my first Bodypump class in 2 months) and being really tight all over from all of my traveling and walking around in bad shoes. I slowed down, right down, and tried to enjoy the run.

Running while being in pain was a bit of a shock after running so many halves that felt down right easy, making me realize I'm not pushing myself enough when I do feel good. In positive news it wasn't as bad as some of my first half marathons so I'm definitely not back anywhere near square one, I'm just not able to waltz through them right now. As the miles went on I got sorer and sorer all over and my calves were cramping quite badly. All that eating out, no beuno. I walked on and off not wanting to inflame my hips and knees too badly. I still managed a decent pace and even broke the speed limit at one point.
Showing up on the speed monitor at 6-7 miles/hour
Later breaking the speed limit of 5 miles/hour
 I eventually hobbled through town to the finish line in 2:11:11. It sounds stupid to be grateful for a hard race but I felt more satisfaction at finishing this race than I have for many of the easier ones this year. I think its that sick part of me that likes things to be gritty and hard.
After I finished they had tables set up with fruit, nuts,drinks etc. One of the local pizza shops also arrived over with a ton of steaming pizzas. At 10am one of their sponsors Shocktop opened up a bar as well. They also had a giant box full of freezer packs (an unusual but useful goodie), I took one for later given how sore I was. I sat around for a while eating and then hightailed it for a shower before driving to check out Salem, MA for a few hours.
 For me no 13 mile run is easier than during a race...I absolutely love the atmosphere in case you can't tell. I think this race, if they keep it up, will become really popular in the next few years. They only had around 300 runners but I can see that growing fast. They were organized, had a nice t-shirt (and extra goodies), a nice medal, a gorgeous flat course, and an after party..what more could you want!!
Swallows swarming

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Birthday Whale Watching

Sorry that I've been MIA these last two weeks, I was away at another conference in Boston. My birthday happened to be when I was there. That day was between when I met some Irish friends that I hadn't seen in ages and my work buddies leaving. I had a day to myself and I wasn't really sure what to do with it. Firstly I dropped my very heavy bag at the train station I was going to use later, then wandered off. I kept seeing signs for the aquarium whale watching tours all week but was a bit iffy about going....I didn't want to be disappointed. Anyway, once I left the train station realized just how close I was to the New England Aquarium I thought why not just go. My only misgiving was that I left my larger zoom lens in my bag but as a child on the tour said to his Mom "the best pictures are in our head" so I let it go. It turned out to be one of the best birthdays I've ever had. After getting on a huge boat I was treated to excellent views of Boston Haaarbor and planes going right over the boat.  An hour and a half later of high speed sailing we reached the feeding grounds. Everyone listened and watched for whales. Eventually a group of 5-6 humpback whales including two babies treated us to a once in a lifetime show. I think I did ok with my tiny lens...hope you enjoy the pictures.


Please don't steal my pictures..all copyright belongs to me.