Puerto Rico: El Yunque National Forest

Our second day in Puerto Rico started off just the same as any other in the lives of fitpros….with a run!  I love that I have running to help me see new places.  Running and walking make the experience with a new town so much more intimate.  You can smell the beach, feel the breeze on your face and take in your surroundings better.  We did a four mile run along the coast and into Old Town.  I was really pleased with the walk/runability of San Juan.  And there were plenty of other adventurers out with us despite the weather being similar to Texas and Oklahoma currently…humid and warm!

Erin and I decided that one of our main objectives to make our trip feel the most worthwhile would be to see the rainforest.  We were staying in San Juan, on the Northeast coast of the island of Puerto Rico and the Yunque National Forest was about a 40 minute drive a little farther east and a little more inland but completely worth it.

I could tell when we were getting close as the land started to rise up a little bit around us and turned into a more lush and green landscape.  Puerto Rico definitely has that tropical beach feel throughout the island but it was turning into simply tropical.  We paid $4 each to get into the Rain Forest Center but there was only a small trail, some maps to pick up and the museum.  If you’re just interested in the main rainforest sightseeing, you can skip the visitors center and save your money.  (Although I like to think it goes to a good cause 🙂 )

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The Park is set up so that you can drive all the way to the top, choosing to stop at whatever sights and tangent hikes you wanted to along the way.  We were all in for this excursion so tried to stop at all of them!  I’ll take you through one by one.

La Coca Falls

Our first stop was La Coca Falls, a crystal clear waterfall coming down the base of the “mountain”.  We stopped and took some pictures and then wandered over to ask the guide where La Coca Trail started.  He tipped us off in broken but clear English to some of the better sights, and encouraged us to skip La Coca Trail.  So we did, and everything else he suggested.

Yokahu Tower

We hopped back in the rental and drove to the next sight, Yokahu Tower.  Europe taught me to love climbing to the tops of towers for better views of the city and I knew we were in for a great view at the top of this one.  We climbed just over 100 stairs to reach the top and be greeted with an incredible view of the top of the forest as well as the coastline.

La Mina Falls

Our next stop was the one I was looking forward to the most.  The guide at La Coca Falls told us to take the Palo Colorado trail down to La Mina Falls.  He then challenged that if we were brave girls we would get in and go swimming in the falls.  I’m not sure where I had seen that there would be swimming available but I was ready with my suit on under my outfit.

We hiked down for about 30 minutes commenting on the dense forest around us, wondering what makes a jungle different from a rainforest (jungles less dense and usually close to a water source) and groaning about the inclined hike that would follow the swim.  We walked next to the water that would eventually fall over into the pool and it was crystal clear and cool.

Once we reached the falls I stuck to my brave girl challenge and slid in carefully.  The water was clear enough to see the uneven surface at the bottom but I couldn’t tell how deep it was so I was cautious.  I’m a big cold water wuss so it was a big accomplishment for me and I’m so glad I can say I swam in the rainforest!

Mt. Britton Tower

After the falls we had only one stop left.  There’s a different hike, upwards of two hours one way, to get to El Yunque Peak and we briefly entertained the idea of conquering it the following day (quit the entertaining after the hike to Mt. Britton).  So we settled instead for a 30-45 minute hike up to the tower. It was steeper than the hike coming back up from the Falls but we were of course jazzed at the thought of  a challenging hike.  Again, worth it.

On our way down we ran into a girl whose family is from the area and asked her where we should grab some food unique to the area.  She told us about a town just a little more east called Luqillo and that we could lay on the beach too.  There was a strip of 50+ little storefronts in this town and we found number 31 at her suggestion.  Erin and I split a seafood paella and mofongo (some sort of local plantain dish).  I didn’t really care for either BUT feel more cultured for trying.  Then we found paradise on a small beach.

We only left because a rainstorm moved in on us.  An appropriate ending to our rainforest adventure 🙂

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Puerto Rico: All-inclusive (Breakfast-included) resort (Quality Inn) style

Hi everyone!  The past few weeks have been filled with so much excitement.  Settling into a new routine.  Unpacking in a new (but old) house.  Celebrating my arrival into the late-20s.  And most recently, taking a little trip to Puerto Rico.

Some of you may remember the Niagara Falls trip I took earlier in the summer.  Well, this Puerto Rico trip was through the same company.  Erin (great friend from graduate school) and I took one of our many snow days to sit through a timeshare sales pitch (should surprise no one that I almost took the bait) and in return we got our 2-night, 3-day flight and hotel trip to Buffalo, as well as a 4-nights, 5-days all-inclusive resort stay in Puerto Rico.  This most recent trip didn’t include our flights but we figured since we wouldn’t be paying for much on the trip, it’d be worth it.  (Spoiler alert: It was).  

We received our booking details (you don’t really get to pick when you go.  We just submitted some arbitrary windows of time we thought we’d both be available.) and were notified it would be late August.  Not our first choice, but still the beach is the beach.  We also found out that it actually wasn’t an all-inclusive (breakfast-included) resort (Quality Inn).  Welp, adventure surely awaits.

I packed as I usually do: the morning of by throwing the latest load of clean clothes into my suitcase.  This morning of happened to be at 3:30 am….. Erin is also an athlete and personal trainer so I knew we’d be doing plenty of activity.  My standard athletic wardrobe was perfectly acceptable.  She asked me to bring a yoga mat to introduce her to the practice, so I threw that in and a pair of dumbbells (normal right?)

I flew first to Atlanta, sleeping most of that flight.  When I boarded the plane to Puerto Rico I noticed that each seat had their very own screen stuffed into the seat in front of them.  It didn’t phase me too much because a recent flight I’d taken also provided free screens but movies and shows at an additional cost.  I slept for a while and then realized that our free screens also included free TV shows, movies, music, games and a flight tracker.  I was disappointed when the TV shows didn’t include Vampire Diaries so instead settled on a movie.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

Divergent.  This was a risky choice because I devoured all 3 books of this series in almost one sitting (one vacation trip).  I didn’t feel so invested in the story though that I cared much if or how the book differed.  So I watched.  And I do not regret it at all.  I’m a big fan of Katniss from Hunger Games and now Tris from Divergent.  They both serve as motivation for running and being a badass female.   Much like I sometimes pretend I’m Katniss running from tracker jackers during interval training, I can now add a visual to pretending to chase down a train Four as Tris in Divergent.

Seriously.

Seriously.

The movie didn’t exactly stick to the books but that didn’t upset me.  I’d never seen Shailane in a movie and might have a new girl crush….

Anyway back to our trip.  Erin and I lucked out and found each other on the Dollar shuttle to the rental car spot.  We’d decided to rent a car for two days in order to make it to the rainforest.  I was a little nervous about this leading up to the trip but the rates are so much less expensive in Puerto Rico than the mainland.  For two days we each paid around $40.  Definitely worth it.

We stopped at a Wal-Mart (I know, kill me.  But, it was nice to have familiar options for groceries).  We figured we could have breakfast at the hotel everyday, one meal out a few times and then use groceries for the rest of our eating.  I spent less than $30 on some sliced deli meat, guacamole, 2 grapefruits, bananas, lettuce and mixed nuts.  Nothing glamourous but all in the budget!

On our drive to the QI (which wasn’t resort style but wasn’t crappy either) we tried to make a priority list for the trip.  For beach vacations, I’m more of a sit-on-the-beach-with-a-book-all-day girl.  Erin is a see-all-the-sights kind of girl.  So we blended.

  1. See the Rainforest
  2. Tour Old Town
  3. Run/Practice Yoga/Workout (I know, we’re cray)
  4. Sit on the beach
  5. See a sunrise/sunset

We made a tentative plan, ate and went to check out the beach.  Finally settled into vacation mode.  Be sure to check back tomorrow to read all about our rainforest trip!!

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100 Days until November 23, 2014

Mark your calendars y’all!

The Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa is just 100 days away.  Organizers are predicting both the half and the marathon will sell out so be sure to register TODAY 🙂  and certainly before prices increase on August 31.

 

To celebrate this milestone in the countdown, I am dropping the registration prices for the Runnin’ Fools training group. We “practice” 3 days per week together, under the guidance of me, Coach Sprenk (avid international runner, University of Texas Masters grad in Sports Science and Nutrition, experienced running coach with a fierce love for coffee and community) and sponsored by Foolish Things Coffee Company in downtown Tulsa.

We’ll do track workouts, we’ll do tempo runs, we’ll practice hills.  I’ll be there for high fives and fist bumps when your short runs turn into long runs, and for smacks on the wrist when you oversleep your alarm.  We’re a fun, encouraging group and would love to have you!

New special price for the 100 day mark is $125 prorated from the end of August until race day!

 

If you’re interested in joining us to run your first or fifth + half marathon – leave your info below OR shoot an email to coachsprenkel AT gmail DOT com  and Sprenk (me, myself and I) will be in touch!  Don’t hesitate if you want to train remotely and make a weekend out of it – I specialize in that 🙂

Quality Run 1: Circuits

There are a few approaches to take to running training.  Running for a specific number of increasing miles, a growing amount of time, alternating walking and running, high mileage early in the week to fatigue for the long run……and on and on (and the approach that makes me cringe – a long run here and there, “I ran 10 miles once, I can do 3.1 more”  Yea, good luck with that).  My approach, one I learned in school and backed by my runner’s intuition, is to include a variety of kinds of runs throughout the week.  Fartleks.  Circuits.  Tempos.  Progressive.  Hills.  Track.  Speed. Intervals.  

Every so often as we progress through this training season, I’ll change up the weekly quality run as it suits our training needs and will do a brief intro on it here.  This week we’ve got the multi-tasking circuit workout.

Running Circuits

What:  After a warm-up, laps on the track alternate with running-specific strength moves for a specific number of sets and reps.  A cool-down follows.

When:  Frequently early in the training process to build strength in the most used running muscles, and less frequently but consistent later in the season.

Why:  Any type of strength move can be included in the intervals between running bouts but it makes the most sense to include moves that strengthen the leg, core and arm muscles used the most in running.  Doing laps after the strength exercises teaches your muscles to work after being fatigued.  = STRENGTH AND INJURY PREVENTION.

How:  After a one mile easy warmup and drills, complete the following circuit four times

Running Circuit

Running Circuit

 

The first week this may seem impossible but you’ll be a pro at it in no time!  Good luck friends and I’ll see ya out there 🙂

Saturday Long Run: Foolish Things Coffee at 7 am  

2014 Route 66 Half Marathon Training: Week 1

August has always been an exciting time of year for me.  My birthday.  Going to college.  Football season.  Cooler temperatures (hopefully).  Moving to Memphis, moving to Austin, moving to Tulsa.  It’s also usually the time I start training for fall races and I much prefer fall races to winter or springtime events.

And it’s just now that time to train for the fall half marathon here in Tulsa.  Route 66 race is on November 23 this year and puts us a perfect 15 weeks out to get started!  Here is the mileage plan for the first week of training.

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Runnin’ Fools operates on the model of running three times per week together from Foolish Things Coffee company, and one time on your own schedule.  You may also swap out that fourth run for a cross training day in the pool or on a bike.

Week 1 Mileage 

Run 1: 2.5 miles

Run 2: 2 mile circuit (we’ll meet at the track for this)

Run 3: 2.5 easy (this one is on your own)

Long run: Timed 5k

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare – Juma Ikangaa, Boston Marathoner

Stay tuned for updates from the group, more info on the specific types of runs and training groups.  It’s not too late to join us for fun, group support, t-shirts and discounted goodies from Foolish Things 🙂  I’ve done all the leg work putting a mileage calendar together for the entire season, mapping out the routes and will provide knuckle bumps and ass kicks along the way – me and the Fools would love to have you!  Email or comment for pricing options and different packages.

Schedule from the Shop

We run Tuesday and Thursday mornings from Foolish Things (unless Coach has a different plan that week) and Saturdays for our long runs.  Stay tuned for info on a FREE SOCIAL RUN.

The Next Chapter: Tulsa

After months of solitary weekend trips from Austin to Tulsa, and last weekend’s big truck ride with all of my shit (I seriously need someone to help me purge half of my belongings…let’s work out a trade if you can do that!) I’m finally here to stay.  It’s a stress relief to not have to face the construction and traffic south on I-35 again, and to start to make a routine here.  Here’s a snippet of the first weekend in my new hometown.

After almost 8 hours on the road Friday, I pulled into the driveway and unloaded Miley and all of her things.  The majority of my things – furniture, clothes, books etc. made the trip last weekend in the truck and greeted me piled into the front bedroom (not surprisingly right where I left them last Sunday).  My friend Katie told me to meet her at the cafe at 8:15 to go out for celebratory drinks and that she was wearing a “casual sundress”.

Great.  I was in my usual attire of spandex and cotton, hair in a pony.  And still operating without a clue as to where a majority of specific items are in the mountains of stuff.  Like sundresses….

I managed to find one though, and after a quick walk for the creature I headed to the shop.  They often host events like weddings, rehearsal dinners and showers after hours so I wasn’t surprised to see Katie arranging things on the patio.

She greeted me with a big hug and pointed to the spread and said “Welcome to Tulsa!”  There were two other people on the patio (I was early…) and they also gave me big hugs and said welcome to town.  Exhausted and emotional from leaving a good crew of people in Austin, I cried.  Katie and I go way back to 9 years old and I am so happy to have reconnected with this soul sister.

More people started showing up and Katie took her time introducing me to her clan of people over wine and baked goods from Foolish Things.  It was a perfect welcome to town and so thoughtful.

Surprise Party

Surprise Party

Most of the weekend was spent working on the house.  You know you’re an adult when the highlight of the weekend is using your new washer and dryer for the first time….. I deep cleaned the bedrooms and moved enough stuff around to not be sleeping on the couch or floor anymore.  Although now there’s nowhere to sit with guests…except on beds.  Miley was quick to claim her spot on both beds.  It’s a neverending struggle with that one.

This one shall be mine Mama.

This one shall be mine Mama.

I took a break from the house to whip some people through a boot camp workout on Sunday.  I’m excited about getting a regular Sunday routine together for some people through the coffee shop – a lot of exciting possibilities stirring in this world!

It’s amazing how quickly this place is feeling like home.  I love taking the time in my house to think about exactly where I want everything to go, finding homes for plates and clothes and furniture.  I also love the possibilities for my daily routines.  This Monday is already off to a baller start with a middle distance run with Miley on the Midland Valley Trail, a homecooked breakfast (eggs eaten out of a bowl with a spoon….told you some specific items’ locations are still a mystery) and now some productive time at the office working on some projects.

Morning on the Trail

Morning on the Trail

Hope your Monday is off to an equally baller start 😉

View from the Office

View from the Office

August Fit Lit Club: In Defense of Food

Hey everyone!  Taking a pause from the moving madness to update you on the Healthy and Fit Lit Club.

There will be discussion all month on the Facebook Page for July’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I think in the future we’ll try to discuss and comment as we go but for now this will work.

The book for August (drumroll please!) is……

August: In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food.

Anyone else hoping this book makes you feel ok about eating anything again?!

 

This Lit Club is intended to be an open discussion on health and wellness.  Please post comments, quotes from the book, questions and scholastic articles here, on the Facebook page or on Twitter (#healthyandfitlitclub).  Looking forward to this!