“live in the sunshine. swim in the sea. drink the wild air.” -Emerson
Last week was lovely in every single way. I trained outside, soaked up the sunshine and drank the salty air… oh and I actually relaxed! The Florida Keys in the dead of Winter is where it’s at!
I missed a training update, while I was away, so I figured I would share a general training update, plus some pretty Florida pics! I took a break from blogging (and social media, for the most part) last week, just to enjoy all the time I could outdoors and spend time with my family. It was a welcome break and I felt disconnected from the world, which was kind of nice for a change. I didn’t even check my work email, not once!
It’s amazing what warm, sunshine can do for the soul. Living in the Northeast, means most of my winter is spent hibernating. Sure, I make every effort to get outside, but when temps are in the negatives and it’s snowing buckets, I really don’t have a desire to get out there. You have to draw the line somewhere and I’m just not that ‘hardcore’ I guess:) If you have been watching the news lately, you have probably heard how Boston is having one of the most epic winters of all time. As of this past Sunday’s blizzard, it has been the 3rd snowiest winter of ALL TIME. The snowbanks are so high that you are literally taking your life in your hands when driving, ugh!
The airport when I left Boston looked like this:
I’m blessed to have parents with a Winter home in the Florida Keys, a place I call my sunny home away from home! The hubby couldn’t get time off from work, and as much as I felt bad leaving him behind (sorry hun), I knew I had to get the hell out of here… or else I would go insane. I booked my plane tickets and headed down to Marathon, Florida (about an hour north of Key West). Their place is in Key Colony Beach, a cute little town where there are no traffic lights and the highly enforced speed limit is 25 mph. Primary mode of transportation is cruiser bikes:)
So what did this trip mean for my training?
I still kept up with training, it was just altered a bit:)
I worked with my coach to figure out training while I was away, and it worked out perfectly. I am proud to say I accomplished most of my planned training while on vacation, and still had time to enjoy myself! Training is so much more fun when you can be outside without getting frostbite. The day I left for Florida, actually marked my longest run in months: 10 miles! I did this run outside in the snow, and then caught my plane ride down south.
Here is what I did for training while in the Keys:
Before leaving, I searched the internet high and low for a lap pool. There are not many lap pools in the Florida Keys! Sure, there are lots of pools, but they are the lounging pools that people sip tropical drinks in (not bad either!). The best I could find, was about 45 minutes north of my parents place in Islamorada, at a place called Founders Park. I made it a point to go to this pool twice (Monday and Wednesday) and the drive was totally worth it!!
The drive to the pool was beautiful in itself, since you are along the water the entire time, driving through the different Keys. I drove the jeep wrangler, which made it even more fun!
Swimming at Founders Park was the most beautiful pool I have ever swam in. Hands down. Picture a 50 Meter long course outdoor pool, with a lane all to yourself. They had these really cool jets that would come up from the bottom, it was a magical place. Nothing but blue sky and palm trees to look at when taking a breath.
I’m still dreaming of this pool…
The pool was at a beautiful complex with tennis courts, a beach, etc. I only had to pay $11 to use the pool, well worth it. Long course swimming feels so much different than a 25 yard pool. It feels really strange not to turn every 25 yards and it makes it more similar to open water swimming. Less counting involved! I actually found it a lot more challenging since you aren’t getting breaks as often. Both days I swam about 3,500-4,000 yards. I lost count… I was having way too much fun! After my swim on Wednesday, I even spent time on the beach to dry off before getting back in the jeep… it was perfection.
I thought about renting a road bike down there, but realized that the roads aren’t too conducive to driving. There is one major highway: A1A and there is very heavy traffic. While there is a bike path, it’s not completely separated from the highway, and you have to cross over areas where cars are turning in frequently. I opted to take spinning class at the local gym instead, and was happy with my decision! This way I could go to spin class early in the morning and then go to the beach and enjoy the day. I did spin class on Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Keys Fitness Center. I never take spin class, so it kicked my booty! You would think with all of the training I do, I would be able to hang in a spin class, but I was sucking wind! Not to mention, the room was about 100 degrees and was the size of a walk-in closet (I think only 8 spin bikes). I was a hot, sweaty mess! My heart rate was at 160-170 bpm for the entire class.. which isn’t something you want to do all the time! The instructor was awesome and it made for a fantastic workout.
My face was so red after spin class… yikes! Just keepin’ it real..
Besides biking in Florida, biking has been going really well! I have been riding a lot on the trainer, and have done two long rides over the past couple of weekends, each 2 hours long. Riding is getting easier and I’m starting to find my groove in the saddle.
This week I will test my VO2 Max, which should be a lung burner:) However, I seem to have gotten some kind of virus and I haven’t been feeling well. This might get pushed to next week.
This was my favorite part of training on vacation! I ran four days in a row while in Florida. Mostly easy runs, with some speed work thrown in there. I ran 4-5 miles a day and I’m happy to report I felt awesome! My knee pain has gone away (knock on wood) and I am really starting to feel like myself again. Running in Florida gave me a lot of time to reflect and enjoy the moment. Most days I ran in the evening, just before sunset. The temperatures were in the high 60’s low 70’s with a slight breeze, perfect running weather. At moments I would close my eyes and just feel the sun hitting my face… I wanted to soak it in. The roads in the Keys are extremely FLAT with no grade, whatsoever. This gave me time to focus on my stride and work on cues that my coach has told me to work on (i.e. using my core, driving with my pelvis pulling forward.. etc).
The best run I had was on the Old Seven Mile Bridge on Wednesday night. This old section of the bridge has been maintained as a place for people to walk and run on, a historic landmark of sorts. The section is two miles long (makes for a 4-miler round trip) and the ocean is all around on. On a good day, you can see Manta Rays and fish underneath you. It’s truly magical and one of my favorite places to run in the World. I had some fun with the gopro during my run and just enjoyed myself!
Besides running on vacation, I did my longest run yet this past weekend! I ran 12 miles on Sunday, on the treadmill.. never thought I would ever be able to run that long on a treadmill. We got ANOTHER Blizzard over the weekend and I took my run downstairs to my basement treadmill. I ran at an 8:20 pace (per my coach) and it felt really good! The exciting thing is, I felt like I could have gone faster. Also, happy to report no knee pain during the run, just some normal fatigue by the end.
And last but not least… here are some happy, sunshiney florida pictures that recap my vacay…
I had my fair share of key lime pie, enjoyed time at a small private peach, ate breakfast on the screened in porch, drank tea by the dock… it was just what I needed:)
I kayaked in the Gulf of Mexico…
Watched the sunset at Sunset Park
Had fun riding a beachcomber bike all week… nice change of pace:)
Enjoyed a private beach to myself (most of the time) and even got to see Dolphins splashing in the distance!
The Private beach is called ‘Inch Beach.’ There aren’t big beaches in the Keys, and we have a family friend who lets us use her part of this beach:)
Ate lunch at my favorite restaurant in the keys..
chicken, feta & spinach burger… mmm!
Can I go back now??