Friday Five: My Favorite National Parks

This week’s Friday Five is Five Favorites. Since I love being outdoors so much, I decided to list out my five favorite National Parks. So far, I have been to 19 of them and I’m gonna go ahead and list the 5 best! Thanks to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed up for What?! for hosting the linkup.

DC-Trifecta-Friday-Five-linkup

  1. Glacier National Park

This one obviously had to make first on the list. Frank and I got married at Glacier a little over 3 years ago, where we had our closest friends and family with us to celebrate the wonderful day. The park is more than magical. It teems with wildlife and beautiful flowers. Every direction you look is a more fantastic view than the last. There are tons of day and overnight hikes around the park, and there are even trails that are accessible to people with injuries or are handicapped.

1962157_10202303850815197_8247013576604915386_o
Our wedding was pretty small, but it really was such an amazing experience.
  1. Canyonlands National Park

Recently Frank and I took a trip out to Moab, Utah and we spent a good amount of time in Canyonlands. Although Arches National Park is more popular for that region, Canyonlands offers trails that are longer and with way less people. We hiked probably about 50 miles around the park, and even did an overnight trip. If you are ever in Utah… this place is pretty amazing!

img_2083
Frank and I went mountain biking at Canyonlands. It was pretty awesome!
  1. Gates of the Arctic National Park

During the summers of 2013 and 2014, I did some fieldwork at Toolik Field Station in the north slope of Alaska. The field station was right up against Gates of the Arctic, which is incredibly inaccessible to most people. The park is pristine and there are no trails. Basically, you just wander around through the tundra in a particular direction to head up mountain peaks. There are bears, porcupines, elk, moose… basically there’s almost any mega-fauna you could think of out there. This park made the list because you really get to feel like an explorer when you are out there. You get to see things that hardly anyone sees, and it really feels like you’re the first person to ever step foot there.

1003040_10103911818047091_1692802574_n
Nearly to the summit of the highest peak in the Brooks Range. We didn’t quite make it because visibility near the summit was non-existent. 
  1. Everglades National Park

I grew up in South Florida, pretty close to the Everglades. I remember large afternoon storms brewing over the everglades and dumping steamy rain on to Coral Springs. I’ve been to the Everglades many times, but the craziest was when Frank and I paddled 100 miles through the park along the Wilderness Waterway. It took us 7 days. The Everglades is a fantastic place to see a really unique ecosystem. If you live close, you should check it out!

305556_10102086921908581_215044027_n
There are some beautiful beaches in the Everglades.
  1. Smokey Mountains National Park

While in college, I was part of an outdoor club that frequented the Appalachians. Trips with the outdoor club were where Frank and I realized how we felt about each other and some of my favorite trips were at and around Smokey Mountains. There’s climbing, hiking, and some of the best backpacking in the country. The Appalachian Trail runs straight through the park and includes some of the most scenic areas.

391658_10102775723185301_615953934_n
Right outside of the national park is a large waterfall where a bunch of us repelled down (a few of my friends repelled naked… not advised). 

I could include so many more parks, but these are probably the most sentimental to me. If you are ever around any of these (especially Glacier), you should really check them out! I really think the National Park System was America’s best idea!

 

What is your favorite National Park? Are there any that you’ve always wanted to go to? I’ve never been to Yosemite, but I’ve always wanted to.

Two weeks of great training

I know that I did not post a recap of my training last week, so I’ll go ahead and add it to this one. These past two weeks have been wonderful! I’ve finally gotten back to consistent running and without ankle pain. I certainly wouldn’t call it 100%, since I doubt I could run on trail, but I’m getting there. I managed two long runs (one was 6.4 miles and the other was 8 miles), along with some shorter and quicker runs. I have also been practicing yoga and doing core work every day. I do have some pretty lofty goals for the A1A Half, so it’s important that I get my running base back.

Week of Oct 26-Nov 1

M: Rest
T: 3.1 miles at 8:55/mi with running group
W: 3.2 miles at 9:18/mi
T: 3.3 miles at 9:00/mi
F: Rest
S: Biked 15 miles along Native Stone Scenic Byway
S: 6.4 mile long run at 9:23/mi

I thought this was a great week back. I kept the mileage low at 16.2 miles. It was nice to be out again running and I felt surprisingly strong. I wanted to keep the mileage low to kinda test out the waters a bit. I promised myself that if I felt any pain, I would just back off and skip a day or so. Luckily, that didn’t happen and I managed to stay consistent!

The bike ride was beautiful!

Frank and I at the top of a hill on our ride. Perfect day for it!
Frank and I at the top of a hill on our ride. Perfect day for it!

I also got to dress up as Tim Tebow for Halloween to support my Gators!

Go Gators!
Go Gators!

Last week

M: Rest
T: 3.8 miles at 8:57/mi with run group
W: 3.5 at 9:43/mi with Frank
T: 4.5 at 8:42/mi
F: 3.5 at 9:38/mi with Frank
S: 8-mile long run at 9:20/mi
S: 27-mile bike ride

I ran about 24 miles last week and it was the first time in a while that I actually felt like a runner. The weather has been perfect and all of my runs felt great. I ran my long run as a progression run, with each mile about 10 seconds faster than the one before.

IMG_1976

On Sunday, four of us went for a ride along the Flint Hills Nature Trail that runs about 60 miles through Kansas. We had a few bike mishaps, and I had to herd a calf back about a half-mile that had gotten lost on the trail.

Back to the car after 27 miles. I was pretty happy to be back.
Back to the car after 27 miles. I was pretty happy to be back.

These two weeks have been great! I’m starting to feel more confident again. I have some big goals in the spring, and I think these next few weeks are important in making sure these goals happen. I’ll post about these goals once I’m ready…

This week I am doing a lot of traveling and running will be pretty hard to get done. I’m heading to Fort Lauderdale for the Yoga Journal Conference with my mom and I’m pretty excited!

How have you been these past two weeks? What are your goal races for the spring?

Biking my way back to running

Thanks everyone for the advice and support on my ankle injury last week. It’s never fun to be sidelined, but I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things and it was nice to hear your words of encouragement. My ankle has been feeling a lot better, and I seem to be back to doing normal tasks without pain (stairs and such). These next few weeks are dedicated towards getting back to running so I can start training for the A1A Half Marathon.

At the moment I can run about 2-3 miles at a time, and I run them pretty slow. I know my endurance has suffered a hit, but my running form goes before anything else. I’ll generally find myself favoring the other leg and sometimes experience some swelling post run. Although running seems possible now, it certainly has not made the foot feel any better, so I’m laying off until I feel no pain and have no swelling.

In good news… I am back on my bike! Since there is no impact, I experience no pain on a ride. I took advantage of this during the weekend and did a pretty long stretch on a rail-to-trail in central Kansas!

We found an interesting structure on an Indian Reservation along the trail.
We found an interesting structure on an Indian Reservation along the trail.
Frank and I along the trail and enjoying the warm weather.
Frank and I along the trail and enjoying the warm weather.
The trail was mostly along prairie, with big wide views of Kansas.
The trail was mostly along prairie, with big wide views of Kansas.

As my foot heals, I am really concentrating on bringing my workouts to my bike. Hopefully, when I am back to running, I wont be in too bad of shape. I have another long bike trip planned for the weekend!

How do you keep in shape when you can’t run? How long does it usually take you to get it back?