Spruce Mountain Firetower

When attending the last metabolism class of the semester (or ever) became optional yesterday, my good friend from school Krista and I decided to hike Spruce Mountain. Located just outside Saratoga in Corinth, it was a quick one hour drive from Troy.

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The trail itself was great-not too rocky and not too steep. It would be great for beginners!

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In about 36 minutes we were at the summit. Unfortunately there are no views unless you climb the tower.

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I think the tower itself is fairly new. There are windows inside that provide protection from the wind.

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It was a great little hike!

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Spruce Mountain Fire Tower
Distance 2.8 mi RT
Time 1 hr, 11 minutes
Elevation 2,009ft
Ascent 1,012ft

Gear used Gregory Pace 5 hydration pack, Salomon Pro Sense trail running shoes

The trailhead is located on the dead end of Spruce Mountain Road.

Find It

Kane Mountain Firetower

I recently hiked Kane Mountain in Fulton County, about an hour and 15 minutes outside of Albany. It’s a nice little hike if you are looking to get outside and hit the trails. It has a decent view for minimal effort!

Jenna, Steve and I opted for the shortest route up and then took the longer trail back to make a nice loop.

There is a nice view from the top of the fire tower. I’d love to come up here for a sunset hike sometime. There is no real view from the summit unless you climb the tower.

There is a little cabin at the top that has been boarded up, but it seems people still go inside (and leave their trash behind!–which is sad).

Near the trail head there is a little pond and a creek.

Kane Mountain Fire Tower
Total Distance: 1.8 mi loop
Elevation: 2180′
Ascent: 600′

FIND IT

The trailhead is on the left.

2016 Syracuse Half Marathon

The Syracuse Half was the only race I had signed up for the duration of marathon training. Last year it was really well organized–but cold–and I enjoyed it. This year it was moved two weeks later to April, in hopes of having better weather! But, the joke was on us.

Saturday afternoon I picked up Jona and her friend Phil and we headed to Syracuse. The first stop was Fleet Feet to get our race shirts and bibs.

We checked into our hotel and had dinner at a vegan cafe next door to our hotel. The next morning, we woke up to this.

It’s not an April Fool’s joke, it’s spring in Upstate, NY. I have to say this was the first time I ever seriously considered DNS at a race. I did not want to run in the snow and 40 mph winds. Nope. But we sucked it up and got ready and started to head to the start line, which was a half a mile away from the hotel.

My feet were wet before the race even began.

Around miles 4-5 things got interesting. It started hailing! I was sopping wet and the front of my clothes got crusted with ice. My eyelashes froze and I had to keep wiping snow out of my eyes. In all the years I have been running, this was a first. These were the worst conditions I had ever run in, hands down.

Halfway through the race, I lost Jona. Then my iPhone froze and shut itself off. I had no music for the last half of the race–and I wanted to die! I overheard a woman say at the 15K point that if this were the Boilermaker, we’d be done. I laughed out loud and said, “I’d rather be running this–I hate the Boilermaker!” Still true.

I shuffled along for the rest of the race. I was running so slow; my legs wouldn’t move. My feet were hurting from trying to constantly get traction in the snow and slush. It was painful. I crossed the finish line at 2:22. And I had never felt so hardcore and so proud of finishing a half marathon. It may have been my 25th half, but it was definitely one of the hardest.
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I am so glad I stuck it out and finished that race. I earned that medal! I also earned the post-race beverages we had at Empire Brewing. 😀

Nutrition Spotlight: Beets

Beets don’t get enough credit, in my opinion! They are the vegetable that I usually forget about, until I find something like beet hummus and become obsessed. Beets are great if you like that rich, earthy flavor.

Not only do they add great color to any dish, one cup of beets contains about 60 calories and 4 grams of fiber. They are a good source of the minerals copper and magnesium and have 148 µg of folate, or 37% of your daily target. Folate is an extremely important vitamin because it plays a crucial role in DNA synthesis. Beets  are also fat free. The greens can even be cooked and are extremely high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood health as it plays an important role in blood clotting. The greens are also high in vitamins A, C, B-2, and E, as well as copper, potassium, manganese and magnesium.

 One thing you might have heard about beets is that they are gaining popularity as an ergogenic aid, or something that is said to improve sports performance. Beet juice is rich in nitrates. In the body, nitrate is converted to nitric oxide, which plays an important role in blood and oxygen flow. (Not to be confused with nitrites in processed meats–when these compounds are exposed to high heat in the presence of protein, they can turn into compounds called nitrosamines–a possible cancer causing agent. This is a good post about the differences between the two.) But the nitric oxide from beets is different.

The theory is that consuming beetroot juice before hard workouts improves performance and delays muscle fatigue. The research I looked at was inconclusive–some articles say nitric oxide improves performance, while other articles found that it didn’t. Whether it helps or not, beets are still super healthy and are a great addition to your diet.

Beets can be boiled to make removing the skin easier. They can be peeled, chopped and roasted. They can be added to salads. Beets can also add an amazing red color to anything if you are looking for a natural food dye. Red velvet cake anyone?

Here are some recipes using beets that I have been meaning to try. Right now, my favorite is beet hummus. I cannot get enough and I’m going to try to make my own soon using the below recipe for beet and tahini dip.

Beet and Tahini Dip

Roasted Beets with Moroccan Spices

Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

Beet It Juice

What is your favorite way to eat beets?

What I’m Loving Right Now

Happy Easter! I hope everyone is having a nice holiday.  I haven’t done a “what I’m loving” post in a while-so here you go! And since it is now officially Spring, my favorite flowers are in season, Ranunculus. Trader Joe’s had them on Friday and I couldn’t help but buy two bouquets.

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With marathon training in full swing again, I’m a big fan of listening to music when running. I’ve been doing my long runs solo, so I depend on Spotify to get me through! There is a specific station for running. You begin your run and your phone keeps track of your steps per minute. Spotify then adjusts the tempo of the song to match your cadence. Pretty sweet! I love these stations. They keep me moving when I want to slow down.

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Speaking of marathon training, I have seven weeks until the Maine Coast Challenge! I finished my two longest back to back runs, ever. Friday night I ran 8 miles after work (followed by dinner with Christine at Druthers!) and the next morning I ran 17 miles at the Niskayuna Bike Path. Yikes! I was a little tired yesterday starting the run, but not too bad–I made it through. Thankfully,  my new running shoes have been amazing. They are the New Balance Vazee Prism! I’m a New Balance runner through-and-through and these are one of my favorites. It also helps that they come in pink!

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Sticking with the running theme, my next favorite thing are my new tasc Performance Bayou Bootie crops. They are so bright and cheery–I love the spring colors! Not to mention, they are super comfortable. As you know, I am a tasc ambassador! For 15% off your order on any tasc clothing, use my discount code: FF0103-hjA6. It can be used up until March 31, 2016.

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Last but not least, I have been obsessed with baking lately. I guess running all those extra miles has me craving sweets. I recently discovered Kodiak Cakes Bear Country Cookie mix. They are oatmeal dark chocolate chip and are the best boxed cookies I’ve ever had! The best part is they are whole grain and made with simple ingredients. I know I could easily make cookies from scratch, but when you are pressed for time (like I usually am) these cookies are easy and are delicious.

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That’s all for this edition–what are some things you are loving right now?

Disclaimer: As part of my tasc ambassadorship, I get tasc products to promote on my blog. All opinions are my own. All other products discussed were purchased by me.