Tag FL

annual christmas hike

gator

When I’m down in Florida for Christmas, we’ve started a new family tradition of a hike somewhere cool. We were torn this year – exploring somewhere new, or visiting a faorite, the La Chua Trail out on Paynes Prairie. The hope that the sunny weather would lure the alligators out won over the latter.

We were not disappointed.

A few favorite pics are below. For more, visit my picasa gallery.

gator and mustang

bird and ethan

alachua sink

The pancake run

Wekiva River

the headwaters of the Wekiva River

No unfortunately it didn’t involve any fluffy whole wheat blueberry banana crunch goodness, but it did involve nearly flat as a pancake scenic trails winding through thick florida palmettos, pines, oaks & swamps. This was my first visit to Wekiwa Springs State Park, located in Apopka, FL and it did not disappoint, despite the lack of mountainous terrain :) I had the morning free while my sister was at work (I flew into Orlando Thurs and was heading up to Gainesville to celebrate Grandma’s 90th bday), so it was the perfect time to sneak in a run somewhere new.

Wekiva Springs I checked out the springs (the headwaters of the Wekiva River, which pumps out 42 million gallons of water daily) and got some advice from a local runner on a great 8mile route. The ranger station has a pretty good trail map, although not many distances are marked. The trails are easy to follow, with frequent colored paint on trees and numbered posts leading the way. The trail itself was mostly hardpacked, with bits of typical Florida sand on occasion to make you work. One section on a connector jeep road made me wish for more sunscreen, but thankfully it was short and most of the trail was otherwise shady. It was a peaceful run – I didn’t encounter any other people out there, but did happen upon a few deer, 2 snakes, a fat turkey doing some sort of mating song & dance, and endless birds & squirrels. Oh, and something in the palmettos making a very strange clicking sound that made add a little speed interval.

About half way through my knee started acting up again. Soo frustrating! After 10 days of rest (again), I had 2 short runs earlier in the week that made me think all was well; oops, scratch that. Much more of this and my Summer of Running plan may have to be modified…

One thing I forgot was a towel – definitely needed in the hot FL summers (oh wait, it’s just spring – that too!)… and it would have been nice to take a dip in the springs afterwards!

Here’s a mini map of the Wekiwa trails. It doesn’t show a trail that runs NW, connecting the springs to the main trail system, but should get you started.

72 & (partly) sunny

sunset at lafayette blue springs, florida
our journey begins

over thanksgiving weekend, i joined some friends (well, 1 friend and 3 strangers-aka-soon-to-be-new-friends) on a canoe camping trip way down upon the suwannee river. the next 3 days were spent driving (we started in TN afterall), telling stories, and of course a whole lotta paddling. in all, it was one of the best weekends i can remember having. too much to recap here, so i’ll list just a bunch of memories that may make sense only to me. :)

- stars reflecting on the water
- ninja training
- cherry moonshine
- omg there’s rapids ahead!
- the BEST (insert food here) i’ve EVER had!
- 101 uses for a tortilla
- getting juiced
- random acts of kindness
- brad (heart) 911
- bug + butterflies
- birthday suits vs wetsuits
- stealing trucks & toast
- duckweed
- ambrosia
- kumbuya
- laughing gas
- mitch:1; everyone else: 0

springs we visited:
- Lafayette Blue Springs, our launch
- unknown springs, dinner night #1
- Peacock Springs. great swimming!
- Royal Springs
- Running Springs
- Troy Springs, our take out point. great swimming!
- Ruth Springs, camping night #2

the crew at adams tract river camp: katie, courtney, brad, cathi, mitch

an old swinging railway bridge

my paddling partner

being mermaids at peacock springs

yes we swam in this. duckweed, not icky algae. peacock springs state park

katie at troy springs

mitch getting a ride
old friends & new at “troy springs manor”

more pictures here and here

mini orlando vacation

I came down to Orlando for a few days to visit my sister, brother-in-law & nephews… for some fun and suffering in the Florida humidity.

Sunday, Liz and I woke up early to run the Track Shack’s Celebration of Running 3.0 mile race. It was their 30th anniversary, so there was a 70s theme throughout the day (70s funk music, costume contest, and their . They always put on a great race and this really was no exception, with one of the best swag bags I’ve gotten (next to the Stumpjump!) It was a hot morning, but despite added humidity, wasn’t worse than what we’ve been having up in Chatt. I haven’t run any short races since starting speedwork with Joey and crew, so I was really interested to see just how fast I could go. I was hoping to average 7:30min/mile. I think I was around an 8:15 for the country music half marathon, so I thought this was a doable estimate.

The first mile was a great start – 7:11, even with the crowded start (over 1500 runners started!) The second mile was at 7:19… a little slower, but still ahead of pace. Just a bit after the 2nd mile marker, the funky thing with my heart beat happened. I got a bit lightheaded and slowed, but didn’t stop (I really didn’t want to!) I took about 30sec easy and seemed to shake it off, so I pumped it up for the last bit. My final chip time was 21:57, which translates to a 7:19min/mile pace. Yeah!! Since this was a bigger event, seems like all the speedy peeps came out. I got 13th in my age group (out of 116), 47th overall woman (out of 882).

After we had a chance to cool down, the kid’s fun run started. Both Evan & Ethan got shy right before the start and got Liz & Erick to help them across the finish line. They both got bright yellow ribbons, which they thought were pretty cool.

That afternoon we headed to New Smyrna Beach to relax – although the boys kept me very busy! Here’s a few shots of the fun…





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