Wings in the Park

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Thanks to my boyfriend, who’s a doctoral student studying entomology, I have learned quite a bit about insects, specifically pollinators, over the course of the last 2.5 years. He works specifically with honeybees, but has learned quite a bit about other pollinators, insects, and even spiders during both undergrad and graduate work.

This past weekend Gabe helped out at a local event called Wings in the Park. It takes place at Tudek Park, which boasts space for community gardens, a walking path, sport fields, a playground, and a large butterfly garden. The event, which takes place each summer, is family friendly and serves to teach all about the importance and impact pollinators have on our lives and environment. While it takes places around the butterfly garden, the families learn about all kinds of pollinators from butterflies to bees to wasps, foods that require pollinators to exist, and how to grow a pollinator friendly garden in their own backyard.

While Gabe was working with his lab mates at the table for The Center for Pollinator Research, I wandered around checking out what all was offered to those in attendance. Gabe’s table proved quite popular as they had a live bumble bee colony, as well as a frame from a honeybee colony to show the kids what the inside of a colony looks like. Check out photos of their table here.

The kids all received passports that were stamped at each table they visited. And while I’m sure it could be tempting to just ask for the stamp and move on, almost all the kids and their parents seemed genuinely interested in learning and participated actively in all activities.

Here are some pictures from my walk.

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This shows a what we could eat if we have and do not have pollinators. The stuff on the left are all foods that need pollinators to exist. The foods on the right are examples of items that don't need pollinators. What would you rather eat?

This shows what we could eat if we have and do not have pollinators. The things on the left are all foods that need pollinators to exist. The foods on the right are examples of items that don’t need pollinators. What would you rather eat?

I took this picture through an infrared filter. It shows you how bees see the world. They don't really see the colors of green and yellow,

I took this picture through an infrared filter. It shows you how bees see the world. They don’t really see the colors of green and yellow.

Various species of bumble bees were very prevalent in the park.

Various species of bumble bees were very prevalent in the park.

I love ladybugs and couldn't resist snapping a photo of the only one I could find.

I love ladybugs and couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the only one I could find.

Not sure what this lil guy is, but there were many of them on one particular plant.

Not sure what this lil guy is, but there were many of them on one particular plant.

Black-eyed Susans are one of my favorite flowers.

Black-eyed Susans are one of my favorite flowers.

Love the vibrant color!

Love the vibrant color!

This flower was so bright it seemed to be glowing.

This flower was so bright it seemed to be glowing.

Overall, it seemed like a great event and was very well attended. I’m really glad my community offers events like this to the public. It’s educational, but a lot of fun for all. If you have events like this in your hometown, regardless of the topic, I highly recommend checking them out.

Question: Do you have outreach events like this in your area? Have you ever been to one?

Pinspire Me Friday – Volume 10

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I found this gem yesterday and it made me smile.

I found this gem yesterday and it made me smile.

 

 

It’s beautiful outside here in Central PA today with a high temperature expected to only be in the mid to high 70s. After struggling with my fitness this week, I’m looking forward to a nice 4-mile run during lunch and a fire in our backyard tonight. It’s also only 100 days until the Marine Corps Marathon and training continues with a long run of 9 miles this weekend.

I hope it’s a beautiful day wherever you are. If it’s raining, who knows? Maybe you’ll see a unicorn farting rainbows later ;)

Question: It’s Friday! What are your plans for the weekend?

 

 

#RaceRecap – ArtsFest 10k

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It was another great race weekend! I participated in the 39th Annual Sue Crowe Memorial Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts races. There was a 5k, 10k, and 10-miler option. I opted for the 10k.

I’ve done the 10k a few times and it’s always a good, slightly challenging course. There were some changes to the route this year due to campus construction, but that was early on in the race and didn’t add or take away any of the hills for any of the three courses. While I know I could do the 10-miler, the course is pretty unforgiving with virtually no shade along one hilly section. I know I’m in PA, but PA in July tends to be hot and this year was no exception with heat and humidity. So with that said, I stuck with the 10k, which fit perfectly with my marathon training schedule anyway.

For the past few years, my gym has helped many of its members (new and old) train and run their first 5k. In the weeks leading up to the race, they meet for runs twice a week. They are a mixture of walking and running with the time spent walking slowly decreasing as the weeks pass. The gym also orders shirts for all who want them, organizes a group photo the morning of the race, and brings mats and foam rollers for people to use.

The Ki'netik Fitness group at this year's ArtsFest races!

The Ki’netik Fitness group at this year’s ArtsFest races! I’m the one in the second row on the left in blue and yellow.

The races start separately with the 10-miler beginning at 8:15, the 10k at 8:30 and the 5k at 8:45. They also had three separate clocks at the finish line so you didn’t have to do some mental math to figure out what your time was before they posted results.

All three races begin outside of Beaver Stadium and head downhill before turning right and beginning the first short uphill. After a flat section, you face another short hill, a short downhill and one more short uphill before another flat section. After another longer uphill through one of the residence hall areas on campus, I passed my first 10-miler participants at what was their 3 mile mark.

From there you head straight across campus, through some of the ArtsFest vendor booths and across the bridge to west campus. After crossing the bridge you head toward the golf course. The 10k course and the 10-mile course split at an intersection in the path. The 10-mile course follows the bike path out to Blue Course Drive, while the 10k runs on a gravel path through the course before picking up with the bike path to begin the trek back toward the finish line.

The bike path parallels the golf course heading up a long hill that seems never ending. It then returns you to the bridge to cross back onto the main portion of campus. At this point you’re retracing your steps across campus. About 1 mile from the finish you turn left and head up the pedestrian mall, the last hill, before making a right and heading straight on a flat road to the finish line outside Beaver Stadium.

I finished in 53:59, a minute shy of my PR. I was 7th out of 31 in the 20-29 age group and 58th overall out of 173 participants. I didn’t wear my watch so I’m not sure what my average pace was the first three miles vs. the second, but my goal was to take it easy the first half and then speed up for the second half.

This was about 2 miles from the finish line.

This was about 2 miles from the finish line.

Despite the sun being behind the clouds for most of the race and after, the heat and humidity were definitely a factor. At water stops I took sips and poured water on my neck to help keep me cool. The sweat just wasn’t evaporating from my skin. I was thankful to be in quality running clothes.

If you’re ever visiting the area for ArtsFest, consider doing the races. They’re well-organized, offer great overall and age group prizes, aren’t overly crowded and are chip timed. The staggered start for the three races is a plus and the race fees are in the low $20s regardless of which race you pick.

Now it’s back to the grind. I got in a trip to the gym yesterday and the workout was almost exclusively arms, which turned out to be perfect since I had signed up for a cycle class in the evening. This morning I got up early and got in a 5k before heading to work. It was humid, but at least the sun was behind the clouds.

Have a great week!

Question: Did you run a race over the weekend? How’d it go?

A Walk in a #Garden

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Right near my office is the Arboretum at Penn State. It’s a beautiful, lush, ever-changing garden and research facility. Summer is my favorite time there because of all the blooming flowers, the unique plants, and many insects who visit and make their home there. It boasts many water features, as well as a brand new children’s garden. It’s a wonderful place for a walk, a picnic, or special event.

I stopped by after work one day last week and thought I’d share some photos for something different! I apologize if any are blurry as I took them with my phone.

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A personal favorite.

A personal favorite.

In the new children's garden

In the new children’s garden

Love how they made this look like a real stump, but it's actually just cement.

Love how they made this look like a real stump, but it’s actually just cement.

A huge wasps nest with equally huge wasps. Thankfully it's rather high up.

A huge wasps nest with equally huge wasps. Thankfully it’s rather high up.

Question: Do you have a garden or a favorite place where you can enjoy nature?

Pinspire Me Friday – Volume 9

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FlyWhat if?

What if?

What if?

How many times have you asked yourself that? How many times have you succumbed to your self-doubt? How did you get past it?

I know I’ve had my struggles in the past with self-doubt. It’s hard to get past the “What if?” We tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive, rather than our potential.

What if you do fall? What are you going to do? You’re going to get back up and try again or move on to something else. However, there’s always a chance you’ll fly. Why not take that chance? Give yourself the opportunity!

Question: Do you have a favorite quote? Share it with me in the comments below.

Pinspire Me Friday – Volume 8

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Happy 4th of July! Happy Independence Day! How are you celebrating?

I started my July 4th holiday with a 3-mile run and a visit to Ki’netik. It felt like a master’s class today, and was completely self-paced except for three exercises. We did 50 reps of each unless otherwise specified. Here’s a list of what we did:

  • burpees
  • skaters (50/side)
  • renegade rows
  • dumbbell chest press
  • wall ball
  • plank rows with bands (50/side)
  • wheel roll-outs (30)
  • rope slams
  • med-ball slams on the wall
  • Swimmers (exercise with the band)
  • 3 cardio exercises (stationary bike, jumping jacks, Ali Shuffle in the ladders (2 min/each)

After getting home I took to cleaning our place before jumping in the shower. I then started my baking :) I struggled to find sprinkles for my initial plan, so I ended up buying the holiday Funfetti Cake Mix and icing. They had a recipe on the side for cookies.

Love how patriotic they are!

Love how patriotic they are!

Despite battling a headache, I decided to try a new cookie recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. This recipe is this week’s Pinterest find! A big thank you to Shena at Radiant Dust for sharing her recipe on her blog!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmm!

Mmmm!

Ingredients
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and add o the mixture and blend.
4. Stir in the quick oats, and chocolate chips.
5. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.
6. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes.

Notes: I baked the cookies for 13 minutes and still let them cool for 5 minutes. Feel out your oven with the first tray to see what you need. I also used 1 cup of dark chocolate chips and a 1/2 cup of semi sweet chips.

Enjoy!

Question: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

Race Recap – Crack O’ Dawn 5k

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I’ve been really inconsistent with running since my marathon. I think I’ve completed four races and run a total of six times. Yep, I’ve only run twice outside of participating in a race. However, that changed this past Sunday when my marathon training began. But before we dive into that, it’s time to recap the 5k race I ran in on Saturday.

I participated in the Crack O’ Dawn 5k for the third straight year. It’s not really at the crack of dawn, in my opinion, since it’s at 8 a.m. However, the early start time does help beat the late June heat. Regardless, all three years I’ve crossed the finish line soaked thanks to the heat and humidity. It’s a small race with usually 100 participants or less. This year there were 71 finishers. A bonus is that it’s followed by a free pancake breakfast, great door prizes, and overall and age group winners.

The course takes you on some of the lesser traveled streets of the small town of Boalsburg. With a brief downhill at the start, the course quickly takes a turn and begins a long uphill climb. It’s not steep, and at one point levels briefly, but it really is quite long. At the top you turn around and retrace your steps downhill to Main Street where you turn right and head out of the historic section of town into a development. You head up another long hill that’s quite a bit steeper and completely unshaded before returning the way you came. At the bottom of the hill you take a gravel alley before making a left and heading uphill to the finish.

I basically liken the course in shape to a hammock. You start in the middle, head up one side and back down, and then head up the other and back down to the start. The uphills are challenging, but the downhills help you make up some time. It’s also great to see some of the other areas of Boalsburg.

I have to say I was very surprised to round the corner to the finish line and see a time below 25 minutes. My PR on a completely flat course is 24:26. I missed that by seven seconds and finished with a 24:33. I was definitely very happy with that. I topped my age group and was 27th overall.

I took the photo using Instagram and it reversed it.

I took the photo using Instagram and it reversed it. I’m actually in the driver’s seat of my car and the ribbon text was not printed backwards :)

After slacking on my first week of training for my next marathon, I got back on the running bandwagon with the race and a 6-miler on Sunday morning. I met my friend Michel and even with a short break, we finished in 57 minutes. It was a nice rolling out-and-back route. This week I have three short 3-milers and a 7-miler for the weekend long run. Looking forward to it!

I’m contemplating running in the annual Firecracker 4k at the Central PA 4thFest later this week. I’ve only done it once. It gets a lot of participants for a short race so it tends to be crowded. The one time I did it there was so much construction on campus that we ended up running the parking lots around Beaver Stadium. It was VERY hot on black asphalt! Hopefully that won’t be the case this year.

On another note, I’ve decided to start the 21-Day Fix program again. I did it leading up to Memorial Day and reviewed the program for my friend (and coach) on her blog, Charmed Wellness. I was happy with how easy the program was and how good I felt eating healthy, real, whole foods. I know as I increase my activity in the coming weeks that I’m going to be hungry, but this program helps me make good decisions even when I’m eating a bit more than I would normally need without training. I’m hoping that putting this plan out here that I will be more likely to stick to it!

If I don’t check in before the 4th, have a great week!

Question: Are you training for anything?