Running the Seneca 7 Relay Race

Last weekend I had the opportunity to run the Seneca 7, a 77.7 mile relay race out in the Finger Lakes, around Seneca Lake.

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One of my co-workers runs it every year on a team of 7 women. One couldn’t run this year due to an injury and she asked me to be a replacement. Of course I said yes.

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The race started in the Geneva, a city on Seneca Lake (it was about three hour drive from Albany). I drove up Saturday afternoon and had dinner with my team at a nice Italian restaurant in Geneva. The next morning we were up bright and early to start the relay!

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My teammates and I, the Vineyard Vixens! I really loved our costumes. Such foxes!

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Our wave started at 7am and I was the first runner! Like Ragnar, each runner of Seneca 7 has three legs. But it’s different because Seneca 7 is only 12 hours, versus Ragnar, which is 36 hours. No sleeping in the van! Our legs are shorter, too.

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My first leg was 3.6 miles of rolling hills through Geneva along Seneca Lake. It was a gorge0us morning.

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Leg 1 – 3.7 mi, 9:17 /mile

I finished my leg and handed off to our second runner, then had to get on a shuttle to the next exchange. The area was too small for all the vans to park, so the runners had to be shuttled back and forth.

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Exchange 2!

A few hours later, my next leg came up. It was supposedly the hardest leg of the relay, with good reason.

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There was a very steep 1 mile long downhill, followed by a 1 mile long uphill. It reminded me of when I ran the Tongue Mountain Leg during Ragnar ADK!

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The downhill…

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Followed by up.

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Still going up…mostly walking.

Leg 2 – 3.2 mi, 10:07/mile <–not bad for the monster hill

My legs were sore for days after running that downhill. Needless to say, it was a tough leg. Thankfully I had a few hours to recover until my third leg.

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Running along the vineyards for my third leg!

My last leg was 3.7 miles, but our second runner wasn’t feeling great and had an injury so I offered to run her last leg of 4.0 miles, for her. Her leg was partly on some trails and ran by an old abandoned psych. center. It was extremely creepy!

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Part of the trail run. A part of this leg also was on a nice bike path. I ended the race with a total of almost 15 miles under my belt. Now I could relax and enjoy and cheer on the rest of my team!

Leg 3 and 4 – 7.7 mi, 9:40/mile

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Here are teammates Randi and Monica at one of the exchanges. At around 7pm, our last runner was finishing. We crossed the finish line after 12 hours, 3 minutes and 7 seconds, with a team average of 9:17!

Time to celebrate!

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The post-race party served delicious chili, both veg and real, with cornbread, cookies and local juice. It was an amazing spread. This race was so well-organized and just so much FUN!

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During the race we even got to stop at one winery on the way where I got a bottle of Riesling to take home. There were wineries everywhere, all along the lake. I definitely want to go back and check more of them out!

Overall I had a great time during the Seneca 7. It was a last minute decision for me to run this race (as a fill in for someone else on my co-worker’s team), but it was the best decision. It was a blast.

Fresh Blenders – Apples – Product Review

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Fresh Blenders, a company that sells bagged fruit for smoothies. Some of the fruit they sell include apples and pears. They sent me two huge bags of apples, both sweet and tart, to try out in my smoothies. Apples are one of my favorite snacks. In fact, I eat one every single day. They really pack a nutritional punch!

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  • Vitamin C – apples contain this powerful natural antioxidant that prevents damage caused by free radicals, as well as boosting the body’s resistance against infectious agents.
  • B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6) – these vitamins are key in maintaining red blood cells and the nervous system in good health.
  • Dietary fiber – apple skin contains fiber. The British National Health Service says that a diet high in fiber can help prevent the development of certain diseases and may help prevent the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood from rising. It can also promote weight loss because it keeps you full!
  • Phytonutrients – apples are rich in polyphenolic compounds. These phytonutrients help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals.
  • Minerals such as calcium & phosphorus, which are important for bone health; and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267290.php)

A little bit about the apples from their website:

Stemilt grows the best Washington apples in the best orchard locations. Here, we grow classic apple varieties like Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious, and new, up-and-coming varieties.

They sent me a bag of the Fujis and a bag of the Granny Smith. I immediately opened the bag and tried a Fuji, it was crisp and sweet! According to Stemilt,

Fresh Fuji Apples

Fuji apples were developed in the late 1930s by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Morioka, Japan. Fuji apples are a cross between two classic American apple varieties – Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Janet. This variety is often misspelled as Fugi apples.

The Fuji apple variety was introduced to the United States in the 1960s. Fans of sweet apples adore Fuji because with 15-18% Brix, or sugar levels, it is the sweetest apple around! Fuji apples are also great storing apples, and because of that, are available year-round!

I really liked that the bag stood up in the fridge, making more room for other food on the shelf. These apples were good (but maybe not as good as our NYS apples in the Fall–but I’m biased 😉 ) But since it actually isn’t fall here now, our apples leave little to be desired, so these Washington apples were a great substitute!

They were so good, I ate one every day and unfortunately never had a chance to make a smoothie with them. But in case you want to try a fresh blender apple in a smoothie, here is a recipe from their website:

N0 Dairy Very Berry Smoothie

A refreshing, subtly sweet, dairy-free fruit smoothie that delivers nutritionally where traditional “milkshakes” lack… packed with good-for-you antioxidant properties. Stemilt Fresh Blenders Sweet Apples are the perfect partner to a bevy of berries and luscious almond-milk-based, dairy-free “yogurt.” A touch of honey and a snippet of fresh basil add all the natural sweetness necessary for a pleasingly crisp “milkshake-like” morning beverage.

Ingredients

  • 1 Stemilt Fresh Blenders Sweet Apple, cored and quartered
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 6 large fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 3 to 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup (or less, as preferred for consistency) unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1, 6-ounce container dairy-free, plain cultured almond milk “yogurt” (like So Delicious)

Directions

Add apple, ice, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, basil, honey, almond milk, and dairy-free “yogurt” to pitcher of high-speed electric blender (one suitable for crushing ice and handling firm textures). Blend on high (or use “smoothie” option, if applicable) for approximately 1 minute. (If necessary, stop machine intermittently to scrape down sides or press ingredients down to remove any air pockets that might impede blending.) Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving: Calories 229.2 (11.8% from fat); Fat 3.0g (sat 0.0g, poly 0.2g, mono 0g); Protein 4.8g; Carbohydrates 48.9g; Fiber 12.2g; Sugar 30.0g; Cholesterol 0.0mg; Potassium 213.8mg; Sodium 128.4mg.

Recipe from Stimelt Fresh Blenders. For the locals, fresh blenders are now available at Price Chopper!

Disclaimer: The company sent me apples free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Weekend Update

Friday night a few friends and I went to Troy Night Out! We went to Troy Cloth & Paper’s Print Off. They were selling prints designed by the Artist of the Month and I knew I wanted one, it was awesome.

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We wandered around downtown a little bit before stopping at Bacchus for some pizza. I’ve only been here a few times, but every time the pizza is great.

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The crust is extremely thin and crispy, the pizza has lots of flavor and it’s not overloaded with cheese.

After dinner we walked over to Peck’s Arcade, the new spot next to the Confectionery.

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This place is extremely hip. I loved it! They also had interesting drinks on the menu.

The next morning I had a run planned with my marathon training friend, Jenna. We are both signed up for the Buffalo Marathon (I may have convinced her to run it) so we had a long run on the agenda for Saturday–16 miles.

We met at UAlbany because it was snowing and we weren’t sure if the Niskayuna Bike Path would be completely clear. Thankfully at SUNY, the running loop is always salted and mostly free of snow and ice. It was snowing when we got there and continued to snow for our entire run.

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16 miles is a lot of loops at the UAlbany campus. 5 and half to be exact. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it. Saturday I liked it. It was pretty mindless but sometimes I just need that. I can count down the number of loops as I go and I can stop at my car for fuel and water when I need to. 15 miles was the longest that Jenna had run, ever! I was super proud of her (she ran 15, I ran 16). I felt really good, even by the end.

Sunday was another busy day. Sunday is the only day of the week that Jordan and I both have off from work, so we try to do something outdoorsy and fun. We decided to go back to Petersburgh Pass for a quick hike since it was getting late. We picked up his parents’ dog, Jack, and brought him along because he loves hiking.

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There was still a few feet of snow up here. We were unprepared and didn’t bring snowshoes, but it wasn’t really an issue since it was really packed down. I happened to have my microspikes in my bag, so I put them on to make it a little easier. I like this hike because it’s close to home and only takes about 45 minutes. Perfect when you want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and you don’t have much time!

Syracuse Half Marathon

Saturday evening Jordan and I drove out to Syracuse for the Syracuse Half Marathon! I signed up for this race ages ago and got a hotel .5 miles from the start of the race in downtown, Syracuse. We checked into our hotel and then immediately went searching for some good eats. Around the corner we found a little place called Modern Malt.

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They had a small late-night menu and I went with the egg and cheese sandwich because it seemed harmless for a pre-race dinner. Thankfully it was a great decision and it was delicious.

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Both of our meals (Jordan got a burger) came with tater tots! I got sweet potato and he got regular. I liked the regular better, actually! They were delicious.

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After our late dinner we headed next door to a place called Al’s Whiskey & Wine Bar. Normally I don’t stay out too late the night before a race, but we just had to check out these cools spots so close to our hotel. I just made sure to hydrate well with plenty of water!

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There were many spirits to choose from. Overall it seemed like a really cool place to hang and grab a drink.

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The race was starting at 8AM the next morning and the starting line/finish area was a short walk from our hotel. We left at around 7:30 and walked in the freezing cold. The high was supposed to be 18 degrees so it was pretty cold at 7:30am–I actually didn’t even look at the temp because I didn’t want to get discouraged. I think it was the coldest I’ve run in all season, which is funny because now it is actually Spring. At the start I met up with my friends Val and Jona who were also running! Jona and I decided to try to run some of the race together.

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Yes, it was cold.

 

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This was Jordan’s first time spectating a race. He was awesome for standing out there despite the freezing temps! :-)

I had no goals for this race. I was just planning on using it as training run. But Jordan asked me what my best possible finish time would be and I told him 2:10, and that was if the run was going fantastic. I told him I doubt I would run that fast. So during the race I decided not to look at my pace at all and just run by feel. Turns out that was an really good decision!

Race Stats

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Are you on Strava? Friend me!

I lost Jona during the first big hill at around mile 2. She told me there were hills on the course but I really didn’t pay any mind–I didn’t even look at the course elevation in fear that the hills were going suck, sometimes I think its better when I don’t know what’s coming. Surprisingly they didn’t kill me and I felt really great during the race. The only time I walked was to eat Gu and drink water. I ate two–one at mile 2 because my stomach was growling, and one later around mile 8.

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My pace stayed under a 10 minute mile until Mile 10. Darn! But there was even an 8:52 mile thrown in there which I still can’t even believe I did.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this race! I finished in 2:09:47, for an average of 9:54 per mile. I am very happy with that for a tough course!

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The race medal was awesome too.

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The post-race party was located inside at the Oncenter. This was really nice because it was extremely cold out! If it were outside, everyone would have frozen! They had a lot of tables for people to sit at and eat their post-race snacks. I grabbed a chocolate milk and a yogurt to refuel with. They get an A for post-race party. And the race itself was extremely organized, overall I was extremely impressed!

Our hotel had a late checkout, so I got to go back and shower before heading to brunch. Jordan and I drove over to Lemoyne College to pick up my cousin and the three of us met Val at Funk n’ Waffles on the Syracuse University campus! This place was on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, so we knew it had to be decent!

I went with the waffle with eggs and bacon, and it was delicious. It hit the spot after the half marathon! Very tasty when paired with a Magic Hat #9. 😉

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And that concluded my first half marathon of 2015!

New Adventure: Winterbike 2015

At the end of February, Jordan invited me to go to Vermont with him and a few of his friends for Winterbike.

I didn’t know mountain biking on snowy trails in the winter was a thing until I met Jordan. He has his own fat bike and it’s pretty awesome. Fat bikes have huge tires that are bigger than your average mountain bike’s and they are meant for riding over any terrain.

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Since I don’t have a fat bike, Jordan rented me one from the local bike shop up in East Burke.

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The festival was held at Kingdom Trails, a nordic adventure center that has groomed winter biking trails. It was gorgeous!

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We rode on the trails for a couple hours and I crashed a lot! But when I crashed I just fell into the deep snow banks, so I didn’t get hurt. It was fun!

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Jordan is pretty much a pro at fat biking. 😉

When we were done riding, we went to get out free beer that was included with the Winterbike ticket.

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Fat bikers sure do love their beer (as do runners!) It was so weird to be surrounded by so many of them. It was kind of like the same feeling of community I get after a race, surrounded by runners. Our tickets also included a lunch at a local restaurant,  after we ate I had to bring back the bike rental to the bike shop. Sad!

We all stayed at the WilloBurke Inn & Lodge, a few minutes away from Kingdom Trails. It was such a cute place to stay. The rooms were nice and clean, and the lobby was cozy (fireplace!). The view from our room was pretty sweet, too. They also included breakfast the next morning.

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We hung out around the inn until dinnertime. We went to a restaurant called Tamarack Grill located right at the Burke Mountain ski resort. The food was tasty but unfortunately I don’t have any pictures.

It was an awesome winter getaway to Vermont! And I got to try something new, which is always good. The weekend was perfect and I can’t wait to go on more adventures like it!