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I’ve mentioned before that running is my go-to, I know I’m paying my dues because it kind of hurts” workout. And while I’ve been lucky to only have had two bouts of plantar fasciitis in 27 years of running (holy scheisse!!), the bottom line is that my body really benefits from varying my workouts from time to time.

Like this week. I came home from my beach vacay with the weirdest little nagging, not-really-an-injury injury. I seem to have some sort of bruise on the ball of my left foot. It’s not really that painful, but feels weird and vulnerable just to walk on it. I want to be able to do our first annual Run the Loop Mud City 10k next Saturday, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be running between now and then.

And that’s okay. Bob Harper is there for me, with his crazy DVDs.

But the best thing about this break from running is returning to my love for my road bike. Yesterday I tackled Smuggler’s Notch, which is at least locally infamous as one of the more sustained mountain climbs in Vermont. The top 1/3 mile or so is reduced to one lane, weaving in and out of boulders that have been shed from the cliffs above.

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It was a beautiful, bluebird day, and so I left the kids with Nana and headed out on my bike.

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I averaged 18 miles per hour for the first hour, which brought me into Jeffersonville and the base of the climb. Of course, my pace plummeted on the big uphill, but I managed to pass a handful of riders with ease. Which is amazing, because the last time I rode this, I wasn’t passing ANYONE, and was only barely riding fast enough to keep my bike from tipping over into a ravine.

From the top of the notch, it is smooth sailing all the way into Stowe, where I met Nana and the kiddos at the playground, and we went out for ice cream. All in all I covered 35 miles in under 2.5 hours, and torched nearly 1,500 calories. All while having a great time.

It was a fun day, and I am grateful that my little foot injury has caused me to tackle a ride I haven’t done in nearly a decade. It’s a pretty nice feeling to be fitter now, in my early 40s, than I was in my early 30s before having kids. Who knew?!?

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