Sunday, January 25, 2015

Quick

No snowshoe racing for me this season. Decided to continue the TMR race break, and also hopefully use the break as an excuse to continue to get Sam out to the races to cheer and do some volunteering. This morning, we didn't get to do much of either, because Sam had a birthday party to attend at noon. But she did want to go over to Bradbury to "help," so we arrived a little before 10:00 am, only to find, of course, that there wasn't much for us to do :) This led to about 2 minutes of snowshoeing and the rest of the time before the race start spent at the playground. I do have to say, though, the extra slippery slides due to the snow did look fun :) And Sam had fun and got some outside play time, which is always a good thing.


Snowy playground fun

After cheering the racers on as they took off onto the course, we headed to Edna & Lucy's for a quick lunch and then it was off to the birthday party. 

We got home shortly before Ryan arrived so while he was shuttling race gear into the house, I quickly got suited up and headed out for a short run before I talked myself out of it :) Got in a quick three miles around the block. It was nice and sunny, but the wind was whipping and temps were dropping. Still, not a bad way to end the training week and the weekend. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Creaky

Definitely feeling yesterday's miles - the legs were a bit tight and creaky as I headed out this morning at 5:50 am. Decided to run the cart paths again, but this time went up and over Mt. A. I skipped going down the ice luge that was Mountain Road and instead did a little lollypop on holes 1 and 2 before continuing on. Conditions seemed to have deteriorated since Thursday morning. Felt much lumpier and icier, although perhaps it was just that I was more tired? Still, a lovely deep red glow along the horizon as I descended off hole 6 (yes, it was pretty darn dark out there).  



Friday, January 23, 2015

Full Day

Today was a full day. Now, I realize that many other people no doubt had even fuller days than I. I also realize that today's schedule was pretty cushy compared to many people's days and that I am darn lucky to have been able to spend my day the way I did, but hey, this is my story and I'm stickin' to it. :)

The alarm went off at 5:00 am and I got myself suited up to run, padding downstairs in the darkness. I went through my normal pre-run routine and managed to get out the door at 6:00 am on the dot. I felt a bit conspicuous with my headlamp, flashing red light and neon vest, but I didn't want to take any chances. In the woods, it's no big deal but out on the road in the dark, it's another story. I ran down Maine Street to Rt. 24, dodging the ice on the sidewalks. Once I hit Foreside, things were a bit quieter and the shoulder was clear, so the running was naturally smoother. Not to mention, it was entirely flat :)

Foreside runs along a ridge above the Androscoggin, and there is one section of fields that spans down to the river's edge, allowing a nice view. Here, the horizon was aglow with golds and oranges. What a pretty sight.


For the next few miles, the sunrise was mostly hidden beyond the trees, but I caught several other glimpses as it became streaked with pink, and just before the halfway point of the run, as the road crosses the Muddy River, I stopped to take in the view of the pastel sky above the icy river. In the silence of the early morning, I could hear the ice creak and groan as the water swirled beneath. 


After the bridge, Foreside climbs to meet up with Rt. 24, and the return trip is a rolly, hilly one, albiet with a nice wide shoulder, which makes all the difference. I didn't mind the hills, but once I reached the "urban limit" of Topsham, the road was busier, the shoulder was smaller, there was that car/truck fume smell in the air and with three miles to go, it was necessary to get up onto the ice-covered sidewalk and cross main roads again, and well, by that point, I was kind of ready to be done :) I do so love my quiet woods! Ha.

I was glad to finish up the 14 miles in just a hair over 2:00 - 2:00:08 to be exact - but man, I can tell I haven't been doing any road running! Or, "fast" running either, for that matter. Ouch :)

I got home in time to take a quick shower and help with the final before school prep, giving kisses as Ryan and Sam headed out the door. Luckily, Ryan had scheduled himself to do a late shift today (10-7) so that he could get Sam into school for me and do a few snowshoe race errands too. If he hadn't, the morning would have been much busier! Instead, after they left, I made some breakfast, paid some bills, signed up for the short version of Wapack :), cleaned the bathrooms, made lunch and then headed out the door to get to work for 10:00. I stopped at Frosty's on the way in, hoping for a cup of coffee and donut, but they were closed. Jeez :) The nerve! Oh well.

I worked from 10:00 until 2:00 then headed over to Woodside for my afternoon volunteering. I had the chance to be in the classroom for a bit while the kids worked at different stations around the room, and then did a bunch of copying/stapling, you know, the glamorous stuff :)

Once school was out, Sam and I headed to the grocery store, and then over to Wicked Joe Coffee, where we were lucky enough to get a tour of the new facility before picking up the coffee for snowshoe race prizes. Very cool place, and really nice people! Then home to put the groceries away, make dinner, read to the kiddo, vacuum the house, and then upstairs for bathtime/bedtime, with Ryan arriving home just as Sam was getting into the tub.

And now that Sam is asleep, time for a (tiny) bit of relaxation on the couch with the computer before heading to bed so I can get up at 5:00 am again to run before Ryan heads off to the Brad for snowshoe course marking!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter Cart Path Run

It's not often that the entire cart path "loop" is runnable in winter. This morning, I was out before 6:00 am and decided to give it a try. The powerlines were a mix of flat-out ice, gravel, and churned up snow/sand from the ATVers who were out after the thaw on Sunday, but I figured the cart paths might be doable. And they were. The three groomed holes were good, fast, firm running. The rest of the route was a mix of gravel, hard-pack snow, ice and a bit of deeper snow. Still, very runnable. I took the dirt/ice road back. The sky was just beginning to lighten in the last mile. Good 6 mile/hour-long run for the day.

Speaking of light, tonight when I picked up Sam, the sun was just setting, and the sky was streaked with pinks and purples. In other words, it was still light out! Hurray. I love it when it becomes noticeable that we are gaining light!! I realize it is still mid-winter, but man, nothing like a bit more daylight to make me happy :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Shuffle

Didn't sleep well last night due to kid and cats. Told Ryan to turn off the alarm when it beeped at 5:00 am and planned to sleep for another hour. Well, Gigi kept crawling on top of me and Ronnie was circling my head and licking my face. Then there was a thud from the other room. Sam had fallen halfway out of bed. Sigh. Fine! I would get up and run anyway. Without much energy and knowing that the rain and warm temps had likely done a number on the snowpack, I chose to put on my road shoes and take a short 3 mile shuffle around the block on the roads. Truly amazing how much snow had melted since I was out yesterday morning for my run. January is a fickle month. Not sure we'll be getting any snow before this coming weekend's snowshoe race, but I am sure Ryan will manage to string something together anyway!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Early Morning Head of Tides Wander

Wanted to get my run in early so I could hang out with the sick crew today, but also didn't want to start in the dark, so was out the door at 7:05 am, under overcast skies. On another day heading out at this hour would have yielded a good sunrise but today, nada. Still, it was relatively warm (low 20s) and no wind, so not much to complain about. I ran up and over Mt. A. then did a loop on groomed trails along holes 1 and 2 before continuing across to hole 3. Then it was across the street and along the Heath. Additional people had been out on the trails after yesterday afternoon's run, so the Cathance trails were in pretty good shape, although it was still fairly slow out there as the snow still isn't super compacted.

I decided I would follow the old snowshoe tracks out along the old road to the Ravine Trail and continue on toward the Head of Tides if there had been traffic on the trails. The old road wasn't good for running at all, but people had evidently been out on the Ravine Trail coming from the Cathance Road communities as there was a good snowshoe trail winding along the singletrack. Good tracks across the new bridge and through the woods until the Blueberry Trail intersection. From that point on it was just a narrow path from a few others walking that way so not exactly fast running, but you know what, although I recognized that I wasn't too frustrated. I do love that stretch of trail and was glad to be able to get out there. I turned around a little before Cathance Road when the tracks sort of petered out and I didn't feel like deep snow tromping.

Took the dirt road down to Tedford Road and then returned on the powerlines. This still had me coming up a bit short so I did a neighborhood loop to even out the mileage to 12.0 on the dot :) Then it was in to eat pancakes and bacon. A good first "long" run for the Run the Rock training cycle!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blinding

This morning when I padded downstairs at 6:30 am, the weather app told me it was 2 degrees out, but felt like -9. Hmmm. I had originally intended to do my long run (beginning of the training cycle, so long = 12 miles) early this morning so that I could get most of it done while Sam was sleeping and then be able to hang out for the rest of the day with Sam and Ryan, both of whom are sick. But seriously, I just didn't really want to be out for 2+ hours in the cold. Wimpy? Perhaps. But I'm also trying to not get sick myself, so it seemed like a logical decision to stay inside instead and have a leisurely early morning drinking coffee and enjoying the quiet house. Then once everyone was awake, I went out and brought back donuts. "Feels like -9" versus donuts? Donuts win this time!

It did warm up eventually, although I think it was only 12 degrees when I went out around 1:00 pm. Still, the skies above were a brilliant blue, the snow at my feet was fluffy and white, and the sunshine was practically blinding. Several snowshoers had been out in the past 24 hours, and so the trails were a bit more packed than they had been yesterday, which was nice. The river gurgled and roared, little mouse tracks crossed the trail, and I stopped to watch as cattail tufts floated away in the light breeze.


Hard not to enjoy the trails on an afternoon like this. Got in a lovely 6+ miles. Now I just have to get up tomorrow and get those original 12 miles done! ;)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Daylight Run

I worked this morning, but because there was no school today, Sam was at Miss Amber's playing for the day, which meant I had a few hours free this afternoon. I ran around doing errands and getting the grocery shopping done, then shot home to quickly get changed and get in a few miles before picking her up. I wanted to check out how the Cathance trails were looking, so I opted to drive over to the ecology center lot and run from there. This would allow me more time on the trails themselves versus spending most of the run running there and back :)

There was blue sky above, but the wind was whipping. Down in the woods along the river I was protected though, and thoroughly enjoyed the quiet woods. The trails, trees, and the ice along the river were covered with the 3+ inches of fluffy snow that had fallen over the past few days and it all looked quite lovely. Unfortunately, not as many people had been out on the trails as I had hoped, which meant things really weren't all that packed down, and some of the trails just had a few footprints to follow. Even where there had been traffic, the snow was soft, so it was a bit slow out there, even if I was working hard to keep in forward motion! I got in 3+ miles on the Cathance side then crossed the street to run the Heath loop. This was the best running of the day, as there had clearly been multiple people out on snowshoes all along the loop, making for fairly decent footing. Got in a little over 4 miles and hustled home to pick up the kiddo.

When I picked her up, she was a little out of it and I could tell she was getting sick, although it sounded like she had had a fun day. The funny thing is, last night, the ezcema spots on her legs had flared up, after being gone for a while. I said, "What is up with that?" to which Ryan responded, "well, she's probably on her way to getting sick."And sure enough... Interesting how that seems to be the way with her. When we got home, she lay konked out on the couch until the ibuprofin kicked in and her fever went down, then she seemed more like herself. Still, it was early to bed for her! Ryan is sadly sick again as well. The sinus infection he had last month has recurred and he is really hurting. Hopefully this second round of antibiotics will get rid of whatever nastiness is still hanging around!

And luckily, Sam and I will be home on Monday as she has a holiday at school, so we have three solid days to rest and recuperate.  In the meantime, I'm still standing and plan to stay that way! :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snowy

I was recently reading an article about Strava and the death of solitude. The author discusses how going out for a run is no longer just about going for a run. Social media is everywhere and with Strava, your run is recorded for the world (or your Strava world) to see. How will your run be perceived by the world? Did you achieve a course record? Where did you place on a specific segment? There is no longer a disconnect from competition.

Luckily, I don't run many routes where there are course records to achieve or even any segments, but I am in agreement that having everyone know exactly what, where, how long and how fast you are running makes running these days a bit different and possibly more stressful. Of course, on the other hand, one of the best things about Strava is that same social interaction, the chance to be encouraged by friends, and encourage them in return. Plus, Strava is a great way to track mileage, keep up with your stats and see your training log. As with everything, it's all about weighing the pros and cons and deciding what works for you.

So, yesterday, Ian joined Strava and set up a Trail Monster group there. I came down from putting Sam to bed, and saw the following:

"C'mon Trail Monsters, who's running this week? This week's leaderboard is pretty weak: Danielle leading with 3.0 miles and Ian in second with 2.9."

Ha! Just like the article implied. But hey, nothing like some friendly competition to get us out there, right? ;)

It's true, this week's running has been pretty lackluster so far. Monday I was just plain tired, so I stayed in bed. Yesterday it was -11 when I woke up. While I am certainly crazy, I see no need to prove myself on these too-cold days. So I stayed inside. But I know I need to start building, so this morning I got up when the alarm went off and headed out at 5:50 am. I hadn't realized it before heading out, but it was snowing slightly, which meant it was pretty hard to see with the snow and headlamp combo going on. Add in a bit of wind and it was more like running blind! Still, it was 21 degrees - practically balmy ;)

 The powerlines had been rolled by the snowmobile club, and a few fat tire bikers had been through as well, so I stayed on their tracks and was able to keep from sinking in too much. It was still soft, but decent. The paved and dirt loop around Highland Green were in good shape for some faster running, so while I would prefer to not run this route all the time, it's a good alternative at this time of year. No sunrise and no animal sightings today, but a good snowy five miles to start the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snowshoein'

With the 3" or so of fluffy snow we received throughout the day yesterday, today seemed like the ideal day to take the snowshoes out for their inaugural 2015 spin :) Ryan had recently been over on the golf course and said it was excellent for snowshoeing. I had run on the groomed stuff last week and thought it was great running, so figured it would be a good spot for this morning. I was up and out the door extra early so I could get the car warmed up and drive over to the parking lot. I donned my shoes, turned on my headlamp and set off across the field, kicking up powder as I went. Man, I always forget this the first time I got out! Snowshoeing is a kick in the ass!! Whew! I was working, but actually it was enjoyable. A fairly firm base beneath a few inches of fresh snow was ideal, and I got in a nice three mile spin on the trails. Gorgeous morning with the moon reflecting off the snow.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Outdoor Adventures

This morning, I met up with Amy for a walk at Bradbury. It was darn cold at 7:30 am, and walking just does not generate the same sort of heat that running does. Brrr! We walked four miles out-and-back on the Snowmobile Trail. A lot of tracks seen in the light layer of fresh snow out in the woods. After a cold walk, chatting away, we drove over to Pineland for a delicious bagel and coffee. Yum! Always good to catch up, even if we did so yesterday too :), and sounds like Molly is settling in nicely!

After lunch, Ryan, Sam and I set off for our own outdoor adventure, donning our snowshoes and getting out for a hike on the Cathance trails. It had warmed up nicely, and with no wind, was quite pleasant out. Sam did a great job snowshoeing, and was markedly stronger than last year's ventures, not to mention she had a lot of fun on our hour+ journey. The woods were filled with tracks and the river, with its icy banks, was very pretty. A lovely day spent out exploring in the woods and on the trails!

Our guide for the afternoon

Walking in the woods

By the Cathance

Along the river

Raccoon?

Some of the many snowshoe hare prints we saw

By the river

Pileated Woodpecker damage

Walkin'

Being goofy

Muskrat? This trail led right up from the ice along the river's edge. Very neat. Originally wondered if it was a possum, but now am thinking perhaps muskrat 

Squirrel hole?

Sam being silly

Happy goofs out in the woods :)



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Early Morning Wander

After several mellow weeks of running, today was the first day with "long" run back on the schedule. With Run the Rock on the horizon (oh yeah, and that 100 too :) ), it's time to start training again! Of course, at this point long is a relative term - the plan only called for 10 so it was certainly doable :) but I was trying to cram it in before swimming so it meant an early start. I was up and out of the house a few minutes after 6:00 am. I had originally intended to do a long road loop, but had a change of heart this morning about being out in the middle of nowhere on the roads in the dark, and decided to do a wander across the street instead.

I ran the 3-mile Patriot Commons loop before returning to the Mt. A. fields, where I followed the groomed ski trail up into the woods. These middle miles were the best of the day! Light was beginning to glow along the horizon and the ski trails made for some sweet running. I was really happy to be on packed snow, looking at the animal tracks in the layer of fresh snow along the golf course, and just was truly enjoying the run. I ran through the woods, up the back hill and down again, then along hole 1, 2 and 3 and back; then a loop on Highland Green Road before returning home. I had on a lot of layers, but it was so chilly and by the final two miles I was definitely getting cold. I also apparently accumulated some serious frost along my hood line/in the wisps of hair that had escaped my hood and hat - there was much laughter at my appearance when I returned home :)

I finished up with 10.6 miles, home in time to take a shower, grab a quick breakfast and take Sam to swimming. Then back home to drop off Sam before hitting the road with Amy to head south and pick up Molly, who Amy had happily agreed to adopt. When Ted passed away last week, this left Molly, the cat, with no place to go. I really wanted to take her in, as I knew Phyllis would never have wanted her to go back to the shelter, but the reality is that our house is a bit too small for three cats, and it wouldn't really have been fair to anyone to take her in, due to space, allergies, the fact that Molly had claws, etc. Knowing that Amy is the consummate animal lover, I asked her if she might possibly want to take Molly in. The answer was almost immediate, and it was yes, of course. Many thanks to Amy for being so sweet and generous, and for opening her home to another animal! This makes us all so happy :)

As I was leaving her house, having dropped she and Molly off, I got a text from Ryan that Sam wanted to go skiing when I got home. So another quick change and off I went again! We didn't last long out there, but despite being fairly exhausted, Sam did a great job today. Always good to get out on the snow!

Afternoon ski!

Enjoying the snow

Happy skier

Breaking trail

Afternoon shadow

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dark and Windy

I could hear the wind whipping outside. Sigh. Well, nothing to do but get up and go out anyway. I bundled up in almost as many layers as earlier this week despite the warmer temps. I knew the wind would make it feel colder. I tromped ungracefully through the woods, following a few foot prints and a ski track, my feet slipping this way and that in the sugary snow, every other step crashing through the icy top layer. Once I got down to the other side of the Mt. A. trails, I was happy to see that the crazy groomer had been out grooming the trails. Yes! A bit of nice running on packed snow out onto Mountain Road and along hole #3. Then a bit more crashing before reaching the Heath trail, which was moderately packed out by walkers and a few skiers. Still slow going, but a bit easier. I was too early to get a view of the sky lightening across the Heath, but enjoyed seeing the animal tracks along the way. Then back to the golf course, where the wind whipped against me, and home. A slow 4 miles to start the day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Highland Green x2

Got out on Monday morning for 5 miles on the long Highland Green loop. It was fairly balmy out, the sun was rising with a golden glow along the horizon and a big, glowing moon hung low in the sky. Gorgeous. The back dirt portion of the road wasn't plowed, so I just did an out and back. The roads were perfect for screwshoe running, but the powerline portion? Ugh. It was like snowshoeing without the buoyancy of snowshoes, sinking through the icy crust into sugar beneath.

This morning, I headed out under cover of darkness once again, wearing multiple layers. Warm hoodie. Two shirts. Warm running jacket. Two pairs of tights. Hat. Thick winter gloves. Buff. Wool socks. I felt a bit like the stay-puff marshmallow man :) Although it was cold, without any wind and with all my layers, I was pretty comfortable throughout the run. I ran out on the powerlines to Highland Green Road again. The back dirt portion was plowed, and was great running, so I was able to make a loop out of it this time around. Another 5 miles, with more miles than degrees for the day. Not so hard when it's only 4 degrees out, though ;)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dream Big. Take Chances. Do What Scares You.

Ten years ago, the year we turned thirty, we quit our jobs, sold our house and set out on a grand adventure to hike the AT. Sure, we came back broke even after having sold the house, but man, did we have a lot of fun and I wouldn't trade that time in the woods with Ryan for anything. These days, there's a lot more keeping us rooted here in Maine (see one 5-year old kid, two cats, a house that wouldn't make us any money if we sold it and way too many bills) but that's OK too. Still, there's nothing like a big birthday to get one thinking about what's next!! ;)

Actually, I've been thinking about doing a 100 for a number of years but the timing has never seemed right. Last summer, I started to think I might actually be able to pull it off, but it's taken a lot of hemming and hawing and discussing to get me to make up my mind. Setting off on an adventure isn't always easy, but it is always worth it, so finally tonight, I did it. I registered! TARC 100, here I come! YAHOO! (And Ryan says, thank goodness. You finally made up your mind!!)

To be honest, I thought long and hard about doing another 100 this year - the VT 100. It seemed like the perfect 100. It is one of the storied 100s with a long history and a great atmosphere. I really loved being there last July when Ryan, Jamie and I crewed John during his race, and therefore I had also seen a bit of the course, which was scenic and hilly. It just felt like the 100 I should run. But all along, even though I was talking and thinking about running it, I just had this little niggle in the back of my head that was telling me it wasn't quite right.

I know a 100 is going to be a lot of work and it is going to be tough no matter which race one chooses, so yes, part of it is that it is just plain scary to think about committing to a 100. It is serious business. I will need to put in a lot of time and effort, and Ryan and Sam will be affected too. So, I want to be excited about it, you know? I need to be able to stay motivated for many months to do this, to really want it, to be propelled through the training by the thought of that 100 miler that is making it all worth it, and to be able to enjoy the training too.

So, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what was holding me back from being excited about VT was that I would need to train almost exclusively on the roads, as majority of the course is run on really hard packed dirt roads and pavement, with only about 30% trail. While there are roads I really do enjoy running, I am most happy running on the trails out in the woods and I don't know that I would train the right way for VT because of that. And so, it became apparent that VT was simply not the race for me. At least not right now. Yes, it has the potential to be a fast 100, but it's logistically challenging on many levels for us due to Sam and just the nature of crewing the course, it is in July so chances are really good it's going to be hot, it's fairly expensive, and I just plain do not want to have to run for months on end on the roads, pounding the pavement literally and figuratively.

What I need is a race that suits me and my running style. Of course, I need to keep it local too, so this narrowed the options considerably. I would love to do a destination 100 some day, and certainly have a few in mind, but for now, keeping it within New England right now was key. And so, TARC started to seem like a better and better and more exciting and viable option. Oh, TARC has its cons too (it is a 100 after all!), but in the end the pros won out. I am not afraid of loop courses. I have run the course before (and hell yes, it is going to be a tough one but isn't that the nature of the beast?). It is close by. It is inexpensive. There will be great support from the TARC crew, and it should be easy for Ryan to crew. It also gives him more time to train to pace me for the last lap :) Plus I will be able to train on the trails I would normally run and get in pretty good specificity of training for the course. Best of all, I am excited about it, with a bit of trepidation mixed in, and think that this choice will allow me to truly enjoy the journey along the way (as much as one can with the inevitable ups and downs that come along with training for an ultra). And in the end, isn't that what it's all about?

Dream big. Take chances. Do what scares you (and makes you happy).