Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spartan Sprint Fenway 2012 in Review

I believe I've written before that the original triumvirate of obstacle course companies that spawned the craze in the U.S. are Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash.  I am a Mudder alumna, so I thought I should give the other races a go as well!

I still haven't made it to a Warrior Dash, but I rallied a very random group of friends to represent at the Spartan Sprint in Fenway Park in November 2012.  The fact that it was a Spartan Sprint already means it wasn't the same type of experience as Mudder, because the Sprint races are approximately a 5k in length.  Regular Spartan Races are more like Mudder in length, but that's tough to do when you're trying to work with a baseball stadium!

Which leads to the second piece of why this was an atypical Spartan experience .... we were in Fenway Park!  So the typical muddy, watery obstacles were flat-out not going to happen because I'm not sure anybody ever will have permission to mess up that baseball field in the name of something like an obstacle course race ... or for any other reason.  My Spartan Sprint experience was remarkably clean and dry because of that limitation.  But I still thoroughly enjoyed it because honestly, it was like an extended CrossFit workout that sent me scampering allllll over Fenway Park into sections I would never otherwise get to see!  So much fun!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

T - 83 and Counting

83 days until the Antarctic Ice Marathon!  Medical forms complete, emergency insurance acquired, plane tickets obtained, and first 10-mile run (longest since Cape Cod Marathon 2012, longest since Christmas knee problems, and longest in barefoot shoes!) under my belt!  I'd say we're making excellent progress.

I had an entertaining (and momentous) exchange with a co-worker today on this subject.  He approached while I was battling with the copy machine trying to replicate the packet of information I was preparing to send off to the race director.

Chuck: What are you doing?
me: Copying my medical forms for my marathon.
Chuck: You're running another marathon?
me: Yep.
Chuck: Where's this one?
me (having paused and eyeballed him for a second, since this is usually where people overreact and call me insane): Antarctica.
Chuck: Like, in Antarctica?
me: Yes.
Chuck: Not like a snow race pretending to be in Antarctica?
me: Nope.
Chuck: That is BAD ASS!


Fun fact about Antarctica .... it's the highest continent on the planet.  The average elevation is over two miles!!  Maybe I should have planned a trip to the Rocky Mountains to get in some elevation training before this race ... yikes!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ottawa in 24 Hours

A single day is not really enough to fully experience a city, but I will definitely take that over not getting to visit at all!  So aside from sleeping, I crammed in what sight-seeing I could during my one full day in Ottawa.  Periodic rain deluges kept life interesting too.  Thank goodness for last minute decisions to pack a rain poncho!

My number one recommendation in Ottawa: GO SEE PARLIAMENT.  Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and thus host to many national government buildings, but Parliament is far and away the coolest. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Eat, drink, and be merry in PEI!

I'm curious how many people outside of Canada, and who have not read Anne of Green Gables, have heard of Prince Edward Island.  My sense is that it's a bit of a hidden gem to the wider world, and only really known in Canada for its fantastic beaches and delicious seafood.  The world would be a better place if that sense is wrong!

My experience there was not average, since I didn't do the tourist thing but instead spent my time hanging out with friends.  I can attest that the beaches are beautiful, the people are friendly, but I can't comment much on tourist stuff like Green Gables or anything else!  Probably the only somewhat touristy thing we did was go deep sea fishing off the north coast of the island with a company located on Wharf Road.  And it was AWESOME.

However.  When it comes to places to eat, drink, and hang out in Charlottetown, we definitely covered some ground.  So here's a run-down on a variety of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars that may help you decide where you want to vector yourself when you're wandering around this beautiful, small city.

Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic 2012 in Review

Team FarFromPuken decided to reunite a year after our first Tough Mudder to have another go at a course far less mountainous than the first one.  So we trekked to Maryland for the Mid-Atlantic in August 2012.  And wowsa the two Mudder experiences were so very dramatically different!

The first big difference for this race was that we convinced our fathers to join us on the course.  :)  Several parents from the team were climbing around Wintergreen taking photos and providing moral support at the first Mudder, and apparently they though it looked like a lot of fun!  So the 2012 team was a motley mixture of 20-somethings and 50 or 60-somethings.

Unfortunately for Tough Mudder, the day did not start out well.  I do not know what caused the problems, but they were flat out not prepared with the parking situation, and traffic was backed up for MILES down the highway in both directions as people tried to arrive for the race.  We eventually left the moms in the van on the highway and hightailed it across the course on foot to find the starting line because we were going to miss our start time!  Which we ended up missing anyway because half the team was still stuck in the traffic jam!  At least Mudder is flexible with starting .... once we rallied our team (and luckily most of our spectators as well!) we just joined the next start wave and off we went.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Favorite Runs: The Charles

The home of one of the most famous marathons in the world is naturally also home to some great running trails, including my personal in-the-city favorite .... running along the Charles River!  Sure, you can do a jaunt around the Boston Commons or along the Emerald Necklace and through the variegated, interesting neighborhoods that comprise the official city and the surrounding towns that are essentially part of the city as well.  But if you're looking for distance, scenery, and minimal vehicle traffic, then the Charles River trails are the place for you!

Running paths follow the Charles on both banks, although the south bank is a bit more formalized with a paved trail with a painted line to direct traffic.  It's more built up as well ... there's even a place near the Boston University bridge with pull-up bars and other paraphernalia if you want to stop and throw in a quick circuit workout during your run.  There are a couple drinking fountains along the south side too, between the Science Museum and the Boston University bridge.  The north side of the river is a regular sidewalk or dirt path pounded into the grass next to the sidewalk.

I once did a run where we were dropped off near Watertown, and then ran back into the city.  Our stopping point was 10 miles one-way from the start.  So by taking advantage of the various bridges that cross the river, you can rack up some serious mileage!  A loop from North End/Financial District to Longfellow Bridge is a fairly easy day (approximately 3 miles).  Go one further to the Harvard Bridge and you add about two miles.  The Boston University bridge is about another two miles added.  There are several bridges in the vicinity of Harvard University, such as River Street and Western Ave and the Anderson Footbridge or the bridge between Harvard's main campus and Harvard Square over to the Harvard Stadium.  Most of these are about a quarter mile apart.  I love using the bridges because if I'm feeling good, I just go down a bridge past what I was originally planning, or if I'm feeling crummy I cut a bridge short.  And there's always something slightly mentally easier about doing a loop than a direct out-and-back, even if the loop is derived only by crossing over to the other side of the river.

Two other nice things about running the Charles are the traffic (by which I mean other runners, bikers, and walkers) and the scenery.  There are always people using the paths; heaps more in the summer than in the winter, but you will never be alone.  When you start getting further from the city center, I find this reassuring.  And the scenery is great!  You pass by city landmarks such as MIT's main building or the Hatch Shell, and you can distract yourself by watching rowers on the river or people learning how to sail.  You're in the middle of a city, but you can remove yourself from that hustle and bustle a little bit and lose yourself in the water and reeds and trees instead.

And at pretty much any point along the way, you can veer away from the river back into the city and find a metro station to get where you want to go!  I harbor aspirations of running out to Harvard and meeting up with a friend for breakfast sometime, and then taking the T home.  So many options!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Adventures in Montgomery

Alabama kind of gets a bad rap as a place to visit, which is unfortunate because there's a lot of history there, and fun stuff to do outside, and also lots of great food!  The capital city, Montgomery, has done a lot of sprucing up over the past decade.  If you find yourself passing through, stop for a bit and enjoy what the city has to offer because believe it or not, there are offerings worth your time.