Posts Tagged With: summer

Peru Travel Plans and a Change of Race Plans

 

 Peru Travel Plans!

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About 2 years ago, Mike and I started talking about doing a trip to Peru. I have always wanted to hike to Machu Picchu. Mike has never been on an “Ashley Trip”, which made it an even more exciting adventure to plan.  Side note: an “Ashley Trip” consists of backpacks, hikes, bus rides, and hostels, as opposed to beaches, resorts, and free margaritas.

We quickly realized that we wouldn’t be able to make it happen during the summer of 2012, as the cost for flights alone are astronomical. In an attempt to make our vacation a priority, we created a separate “vacation savings” account and set up automatic transfers to take $5 a day out of our checking account so it would continue to grow. This account is considered untouchable (with the exception of vacation expenses, of course). Any extra bonus cash has also been deposited into this account. At the end of April, we realized that our Peru dreams might actually become a reality – we had reached just over $3,000, almost enough to pay for our flights 🙂

Let the planning begin – once we got the okay to take 2 weeks off at work, we bought our flights and started planning. Er…Ashley started planning and Mike said, “just tell me what clothes I need to buy”.

Fast forward to ONE WEEK before we begin our trip…

We’re about ready to go!  We will be spending 15 days in Peru starting late next week. Our general plan is as follows:

Days 1 – 3: Cusco

Day 4: Begin Machu Picchu hike – all day mountain biking

Day 5: Hike day 2 – also whitewater rafting

Day 6: Hike day 3 – also jungle ziplining

Day 7: Hike day 4 – arrive at Machu Picchu for sunrise and explore the ruins

Day 8: Train to Puno (on lake Titicaca) – called “one of the world’s greatest train journeys”.

Day 9: Boat trip on Lake Titicaca, spend the night with a local family on the floating island of Amantani

Day 10: Day 2 – boat trip on Lake Titicaca, visit Taquile island

Day 11: Bus to Arequipa, the 2nd largest city in Peru

Day 12: Free day to relax and explore Arequipa

Day 13: Hike the Colca Canyon, relax in local hot springs

Day 14: Colca Canyon day 2 – watch La Cruz del Condor

Day 15: Arequipa – Market tour and Peruvian Cooking Experience

Day 16: Back to the USA

 

Our trip sounds like it will be both incredibly amazingly awesome as well as exhausting. I am sure we will need a vacation from our vacation when we get home. I am just so pumped to share my love for real world travel with my husband – I hope he enjoys it as much as I do! I plan to keep a journal while we are there, so hopefully I’ll have some fun stories and photos to share with y’all when we return.

 

A change of race plans

keep_calm_and_carry_on

On another note…I had hoped to complete an Olympic distance triathlon this summer. I even made myself accountable by writing about it here and here. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  How about the good news?  Okay. I did complete an Olympic distance training schedule and actually feel much better about my swimming abilities than I did before I started training. I even completed a “practice” race where I did all three disciplines on the same morning (.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run). I’m pretty confident that I would be able to complete the triathlon I was planning on doing without a problem. However (bad news), I’ve decided that doing my very first Olympic tri right after 2 weeks in Peru might not be the smartest idea. Granted, we will be very active while we are in South America. However, I won’t be following any semblance of a training plan and we will certainly not be following a diet that is conducive to staying in race shape. I would rather hold off on doing my first big triathlon until I know that I’ll be prepared. That said, I plan on looking into a race early next summer.

So…now you know. Hopefully you’re not too disappointed in me and we can still be friends.

I’m actually really happy to get back into lifting weights and other forms of exercise. I’ve been following a tri training plan since the beginning of April, so it’s nice to have the freedom to do what makes me happy on any given day. “Gorgeous day for a bike ride! Let’s do that!” Or, “It’s too damn hot to run outside. Screw that”.  I just need to be careful not to fall off the workout wagon after our trip or I’ll need to go back into schedule mode.

 

Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, I hope you’re happy and that life is treating you well. Catch you on the flip side. Hasta Luego!

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Categories: Fitness, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Patriotic Treats

 

 Wow. Summer is flying by even though it feels as though it has barely begun up here in the northern states. I’m doing my darndest to soak up every ounce of sunshine I can while it lasts. Lots of grilling, outdoor running/biking, and the occasional patio happy hour session.

Every year over the 4th of July holiday, we spend time with my fam up at their lake home in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. This year we were able to spend 4 full days relaxing and enjoying the perfect weather. The addition of the new “Relaxation Station” turned out to be one of the best ideas ever!

relaxation station 

Per the norm, there were LOTS of fireworks in our back yard, beergaritas, tons of grilling, and waaaaaay to much food. Our fun-filled weekend also included a 10k run, a Corvette joyride, mini donuts and Ferris wheel rides, rocking out to live music, and campfire guitar playing/singing. LOVE.

 
firework

corvette

 

This year I decided to contribute to the sweet treats and for some reason felt the need to be patriotic. I also love me a good fruit pizza. This is super charming and can be whipped up in no time.

 4th of july fruit pizza

 

4th of July Fruit ‘Za

Roll of pre-made sugar cookie dough (16 oz)

1 container strawberries

½ cup blueberries

1 Hershey’s chocolate bar

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup granulated Splenda

8 oz cream cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spread the sugar cookie dough over a cookie sheet. Ideally you’d have a small enough cookie sheet to cover the entire thing. As you can see, I did not.
  3. Bake cookie dough 10-13 minutes or until lightly golden.
  4. Soften cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, Splenda, and sugar until smooth.
  6. Remove cookie from the oven and allow to cool before applying the frosting.
  7. Spread cream cheese frosting over the entire cookie.
  8. Cut strawberries into halves. Top your cookie with blueberries and strawberries, along with your Hershey’s chocolate for the flag pole.

 

How fun is that? Almost too cute to eat. Well maybe not – I think I had 4 pieces in about 5 minutes.

 

 

What’s your favorite holiday-themed dessert?

Categories: Miscellaneous Musings, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Graniteman Triathlon

graniteman logo

It’s racing season!

Now that the lakes are finally thawed, triathlons are in full swing around Minnesota. I decided to forego the Buffalo Triathlon this year (which was my first tri ever last summer), since I’m a huge chicken and the water was FREEEZING. It’s worth mentioning the Buffalo Tri, however, as my rockstar buddy Jared WON the dang thing. First place, people!  So impressed by him.

buffalo tri - jared

The Graniteman is a series of 3 different triathlons in MN and is now in its 10th year. I managed to convince my sis-in-law to “try a tri” with me. She lives in St. Cloud, so the Graniteman was a logical choice. It’s fun to have someone to do these kinds of races with (and of course, to celebrate with and drink beer afterwards).

graniteman start

graniteman body marking

We have been getting some very serious storms this year and when my alarm went off at 5:15 AM the day of the race, it was raining cats and dogs with high winds and lightning. Not promising. But it looked like the severe weather was going to subside and the race was only delayed by ½ hour.

Swim – 1/3 mile : 13:18

The water temp in Lake George was a bit shocking, but with a wetsuit (albeit a sleeveless one), not too horrible. I managed to cut my foot on a rock right as I was running into the water, and ended up plucking rock chunks out of my cut foot later on that night. This was my very first open water swim of the season. I have been feeling much more confident in my swimming since I took a total immersion class at the YWCA this winter, however, the pool just can’t fully prepare you for the open water. Overall, I felt as though this swim went much more smoothly than the 2 other tris I did last summer. Baby steps, right?  It was also further than normal– 1/3 mile vs the standard 1/4 mile which is standard for a sprint distance triathlon.

T1 – 2:21

Out of the water and into the transition area. A bit sluggish in getting myself in order. Wetsuit off, goggles and cap off, feet wiped, socks & shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on, hair in a ponytail, go. Looking like a drowned rat on a bike.

Bike – 15.? Miles: 53:28

The ride was out of St. Cloud and onto County Rd. 8 and back. The whole ride out was a gradual incline, which was a bit of a rough way to start (but would’ve been a much worse way to finish).  The way out was also against a pretty fierce wind. I struggled to stay above 15mph, until the turnaround – then the wind was at our backs and we were on a gradual decline the way back. I was able to stay between 19 and 22 mph pretty much the whole way back into town. My overall average speed was 17.6 mph.

They claim it was a 15 mile ride, but my bike computer (and their official course map) told me more like 15.5.  hmmmm…

T2 – 1:42

Switched into my new running shoes, grabbed a Gu, and headed out for the run. The transition area was pretty huge – quite some distance between the timing mats considering the number of participants. On a positive note, there was plenty of space for bikes and you weren’t running into people during transition.

Run – 3.1 Miles: 25:25

The run was pretty uneventful, and per the norm, my legs felt like they just wouldn’t move as fast as my brain was telling them to. I kept a pace of 8:46 per mile, which I’m content with. With about ¼ mile left to go, I spotted a girl up ahead with a “4” on her right calf (my age group) and decided there was no way I was going to let her beat me…. so I sped up and passed her about 2 minutes before crossing the finish. On the final stretch I started to sprint and was neck and neck with some guy – I looked at him and smiled and asked, “So… wanna race?”. We both sped up and sprinted across the finish line… Yep, I kicked his butt 🙂

granteman finish


I finished the race in 1:36
– I’m happy with my results personally, but in the grand scheme of things, I got schooled. I think a lot of the “average joes” like me probably decided to bail on the race last-minute due to weather (there were over 100 no-shows)….leaving me to contend with the die-hards.  I missed placing in my age group by 2 minutes. There’s always next year!

graniteman results

This was a fun and well-supported race, and I actually liked that it was much smaller than the others I’ve done. I wouldn’t hesitate to do another Graniteman event in the future.

Categories: Fitness | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Value of a Training Schedule

 

finish line

The weather here in MN is FINALLY starting to warm up, although we have had about the rainiest spring in history (seriously, rain all but about 5 days out of the last 40…C’mon!!). With the warmer weather comes the all too short-lived patio season. After a long day of work, it’s so tempting to forego your planned workout in favor of a margarita and some sunshine with friends. “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, you say. Again, happy hour beckons.

As our motivation to exercise is inversely related to the presence of sunshine, now’s the time of year to keep yourself in check. If you’re one of those people that can wake up at 5AM and get your workout in, way to go (I’m giving you an air five right now). Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. Trust me, I’ve tried.

In discovering my interest for organized races like 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, duathlons, and triathlons in the past year or so, this time of year is characterized for me by a set training schedule for whatever event happens to be coming up next. I’m really not kidding – check out my recent tri training schedule that I’ve been carrying with me everywhere for the past 12 weeks:

 Tri Schedule

This is not to say that you have to follow the schedule to a “T” and never hang out with your friends on those rare, gorgeous, sunny days. I switch around my workouts regularly based on my plans for that week. but the mere fact that I HAVE the schedule to reference keeps me accountable. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of the week and have to make up those I missed on the weekends. And sometimes I miss one here or there entirely – but you know what? I certainly get more training in than if I were to just “wing it” and go workout when I felt motivated enough.

What do you want to achieve? There’s a training plan that can help you get there. These websites have easy-to-follow plans that can get you started and keep you driven to cross the finish line strong:

www.beginnertriathlete.com

www.trinewbies.com

www.c25k.com

www.runnersworld.com

www.shape.com

www.marathonrookie.com

www.triradar.com

Whatever your fitness level, there’s sure to be an event in your area that can both challenge you and keep you in check this summer. Visit a race site like www.runningintheusa.com to find a fun event/race near you. The first step is to register – once you’re committed, you’re more likely to follow-through on your training plans. Yeah, there’s a time and a place for burgers on the grill, margaritas, and pool lounging…but it will be all that much sweeter after you rock your scheduled workout 🙂

 

How do YOU stay motivated in the summer months?

 

Categories: Fitness | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Recipe for a Perfect Summer


Although I do enjoy the change of seasons and the winter sports that my state has to offer, I absolutely LOVE hot weather. Minnesota summers are so fleeting, it’s tough to squeeze in all of the FUN summer can offer into a few short months.

There a few activities that I absolutely MUST check off my list each summer to consider it a success. Which of these summer past times make YOUR list?

GRILL

As in, as often as humanly possible. Steaks, pork chops, fish, kebabs, asparagus, burgers, brats, whatever. The smell of charcoal is pure happiness. Plus, who doesn’t love eating outside off paper plates?

ATTEND A SPORTING EVENT

At least one baseball game per summer is a must. We’ve got an awesome new stadium just a few miles away (unfortunately, not such an awesome team). Heck, you don’t even need to like the sport to enjoy the fans, the beer, and the Wave (duh). Or, go to a soccer game or minor league event and save some cash. Regardless of the team, the camaraderie and atmosphere at an outdoor game is unbeatable. P.S. – I took this picture last night. Crazy great seats..right behind home plate!

FIND THE PERFECT PATIO/ROOFTOP

I can’t imagine too many things I’d rather be doing on a sunny Saturday afternoon than sitting on a patio or rooftop with a Corona, vodka lemonade, margarita, or {insert your favorite adult beverage here}. A few great spots around the Twin Cities area include Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge, Muddy Waters, Brit’s Pub, CRAVE, Stella’s Fish Café, Lord Fletcher’s, The Happy Gnome, Uptown Cafeteria, etc…

Enjoying a gigantic booze concoction on the Psycho Suzi’s patio…

APPRECIATE NATURE

Get away from your familiar surroundings for a weekend. The chores will still be there when you get home. Go hiking, biking, climbing, or camping somewhere secluded and leave work and everything else behind for a couple of days. Clear your head. Appreciate the summer and all of the beauty and life it creates.


Hiking the trails near Bozeman, Montana 

GO TO THE FAIR

It’s just sort of expected in Minnesota, perhaps because ours is the 2nd biggest State Fair in the country (everything is bigger in Texas). I get super pumped every year when the food list comes out…we scout out our route – “Ok, the pulled turkey sandwiches are here, the deep fried mashed potatoes on a stick are over here, the grilled corn on the cob here, and the other super-fattening-but-amazingly-tasty-weird-fair-food is over by the cattle barn”. In addition to the awesome food, the fair is the ultimate people-watching experience. It brings all kinds of weirdos out of the woodwork. Sit back and watch, or share a tilt-a-whirl cart with one of them.

EXERCISE OUTSIDE

If you’re like me, you spend enough painstaking hours inside the gym all winter long when it’s perpetually dark and frozen outside. I have a really tough time even setting foot in a gym when it’s over 55 degrees out. I was even lucky enough to run outside this January when we had record high temps in the 50s! Warmer weather is God’s way of telling us to enjoy the outdoors. Get on your bike and ride the trails, go for a run around a lake, or work out in the park (monkey-bar pullups!).

 

ATTEND AN OUTDOOR CONCERT

Do a Google search for “outdoor concert calendar {your area}”. Whether it’s a local rock band, orchestra, dance group, movie, or comedy show, you can probably find free (or nearly free) entertainment in your city virtually any night of the week. It’s a great opportunity to meet people in your community and get away from your normal weekday routine.

FIND SOME WATER

Swim, lounge on a floating raft, splash, play, waterski, tube, fish, whatever floats your boat (haha…get it?). We are blessed to live in the land of 10,000 (actually more like 12,000) lakes, so there’s water just about everywhere you look. Cool down and enjoy the pool, lake, or ocean whenever possible…the sub-zero temps will be back sooner than you know it.

 

What are YOUR favorite summertime activities? Let me know in the comments below!

 Photo Credits: Grill, State Fair, Outdoor Concert, Waterskiier

Categories: Miscellaneous Musings | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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