This Week’s Training: Camping

Joe and I with our bikes at Assateague

Back in April, my parents and I visited Assateague Island National Seashore. It was one of those April days that felt more like early March so camping wasn’t really on my mind but I picked up some information from the visitor’s center about campsites. When I came home, Joe and I decided to go camping there for a weekend in the summer. The earliest we could find an open spot was late August. Finally that weekend arrived!

In fact, camping was good training for the Tough Mudder. You could say my first training exercise was dragging two 20-pound bags of ice from my car on the lowest level of the garage to my apartment. Holding those bags of ice in such a way that they don’t rip and you don’t freeze is tricky. Two older women in my building got a bit of a laugh at my expense but were kind enough to hold the lobby door for me and help me push the elevator buttons. Carrying those bags upstairs was good training for the part of the Tough Mudder where I have to carry a log. Although I actually think carrying bags of ice would make for a better obstacle. There’s only so many ways you can carry those bags without freezing.

We finally left for Assateague about 5 on Friday. Shockingly we ran into very little traffic at the Bay Bridge. We got to Assateague around 8:30, checked in at the ranger station just before it closed and found our site. Then Joe got to set up the tent in the dark (notice how I just said Joe).

For those not familiar with Assateague, it’s known for its wild ponies. When we went to sleep, I freaked out every time I heard something that sounded like a horse outside the tent. I wasn’t really familiar with their behavior so I wasn’t sure if they’d try to pop a head into our tent or trample it or what. Not being able to see what was making the noise didn’t help. Sleep was hard to come by that night.

Saturday was a busy day. We made scrambled eggs and turkey sausage for breakfast (so we ate fairly healthy) then decided to head out on our bikes to explore the island. We rode down to the end of the road near the beach and did a 3/4 mile hike on a sand dune trail (not long, but you work your legs a lot more walking in sand). We rode back toward the visitor center to explore some more and then back to the tent. All together we probably rode for 10 miles, so not super far. The island was also very flat, minus the big hill we had to climb to cross the bridge to the visitor center and back (I had to push myself to get up that one). But at least it was keeping us active. After dropping off our bikes and grabbing a quick snack, we decided to head down the road from our campsite to rent a kayak.

Now, as you may recall from my trip to Deep Creek Lake, I loved kayaking. But we were having all kinds of problems steering this kayak. It always went the opposite way we wanted to go and would float sideways. No matter what we did, the kayak wouldn’t cooperate. Joe and I were convinced there was an invisible rudder on the boat screwing with us. So after an hour of that, we gave up and took the kayak back. It was just too frustrating.

Wild ponies invading our campsite

We went back to the campsite and cooked up some hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and rested up a bit. Then we cleaned up and headed over to Ocean City for some time on the boardwalk and a game of miniature golf. By the time we got back, it was after 9 so we just ate some of the leftover food from lunch and made some s’mores (yum, but definitely not on the diet). After such a busy day, Joe and I slept really well.

We wanted to get back before too much traffic started to head west so we packed up a little before 9. Carrying heavy coolers and tons of other stuff back and forth from the car provided quite a bit of exercise over the weekend!

Although we didn’t eat great, camping is a great active vacation. There wasn’t a lot of sitting and relaxing, we were constantly moving. As an added bonus, the scenery and weather were great.

Things I’m not looking forward to this week: a full work week (no more half-day Fridays), upping my running time, being exactly two months away from the Tough Mudder, and getting back into some weight work, which I haven’t done in about a week.

On one other note, I’ve found one more source on motivation. I read an article today in the Washington Post Magazine about people who run a 135-mile race through Death Valley. At least I’m not training for that because that really does sound like hell.

Days to the Tough Mudder: 60

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