Sometimes I wonder why I am setting the alarm for yet another early morning wake-up so that I can start my day off with a run. Especially at this time of year. It's cold and dark, and above all, I'm not training for anything. Why get out and run? Well, I guess I do it because I can hardly handle NOT doing it :-) That's as good a reason as any, right?! Please say right :-) That, and there's nothing like an early morning run out on the trails, meandering the singletrack along the river, listening to the water rushing over the rocks, stopping to look for ice pancakes (didn't see any! darn!), feet sinking into the deep hoar frost, the woods quiet, my mind wandering, emptying, just being. Got in a lovely 7 miles this morning before heading south to hang with Morgan and Sam while Kristen finished up her holiday shopping. After some time spent playing inside, we set off into the woods to find enough snow to sled on down at the hill in the dog park. Never did find enough, but we had a fun time exploring out in the woods!
Off on our adventure - and yes, the sled went with us the whole way!
Got out yesterday in the dark, in the rain, the air raw and damp and cold. Just ran an easy three around the block. Nothing special.
Had a nicer run this morning. I headed out around 7:15 along the powerlines. Haven't run this way in a while. I always find it a nice route. It was one of those mornings where the light is subdued, the colors rather drab, and yet there is beauty. Deer prints in the mud. Dark pine set against the browned grasses. Sparkling bits of frost atop the frozen marsh. Bursts of brilliant color in the red winterberries. Crows circling above. The quiet of the early hours on an overcast early December day. The opened milkweed pods sculptural against the grey sky. A good 5 miles.
Upon my return, Ryan headed out for his run and after a quick turn-around, we were all out the door to Wolfe's Neck for their "Night Tree" program. They did a really nice job with it. There were songs and the story "Night Tree" was read to the kids before they started their ornaments. Sam was a bit overwhelmed at first but as soon as she sat down to do her craft she was in her element :-) Spreading the shortening (no peanut butter? allergy concerns perhaps?) on the pine cone and rolling on the bird seed was a bit messy, but she had fun. Then she and Ryan made a popcorn, cranberry and dried apple garland before we all headed off for a walk in the woods to find the perfect "night tree" on which to hang the ornaments. Very cute. The program ended with some songs around a campfire out in the woods. We came back and visited the animals in the barn before heading off for lunch and to pick up our Christmas tree. It was a great visit to the farm, and a fun program.
The finished product
Garland for the forest animals
Finding the perfect spot
Feeding the goats
Saying to friendly draft horse, Harley
The perfect tree was easy to find and it was a snap to tie to the car, until we realized we tied all the door shut ! HA! The volunteer moms thought it was hysterical. Sam thought it was great that I loaded her into the carseat through the open window and that I climbed in the trunk and through the car up to the driver's side seat. Then Ryan vaulted in through the passenger side window, and ta da! Just gotta keep things a bit interesting, you know :-)
We spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music and generally having a nice family day. All in all, a great day!
Got in a quick 3 mile run this morning around the block as the sun was rising. No spectacular sunrise this morning, just a soft pinkish glow along the horizon. Still trying to keep the mileage low this month, but adding in another day this week. Woohoo ;) I want to be back in full running form, but it seems to come and go depending on the day - one day feeling great, the next meh. Oh well, it's only December. Just going with the flow and taking it easy.
Was happy to find myself with a lull this afternoon. There should never be so much work to be done that a run can't be worked into the schedule! Plus, it was just too nice out to sit at my computer for the rest of the afternoon. So I suited up and headed out across the street. It felt spring-like out - the air was warm and the trails were mushy beneath my feet. I was surprised at how much things had melted. The ground had all the variations that I think of in early spring - part frozen sand and dirt, part mud, part stream, a bit of ice here and there in the shaded parts. I ran the trails out to Highland Green and then took the cart paths the rest of the way. There were a number of people out walking and enjoying the beautiful afternoon. And why not? It certainly was lovely! I came home with a smile on my face, 6 miles under my belt, a pair of muddy Inov-8s and lots of mud splashes on the back of my tights. Perfect!
Woke to a dusting of snow, with the sky heavy overhead, that whitish grey color that just means "snow." The snow didn't last long, but long enough to coat everything with a thin layer, making it hard to tell what was what underneath. I wandered down to the river around 7:30am, making my way through the quiet woods, picking my way over the ice and across the bog bridges with care. Kept the pace very mellow, both out of caution and because the past few days have been run at a bit of a quicker pace than they probably should have been. The river was roaring, buoyed by all the rain from earlier this week. Scared up a deer on my way back up to the ecology center, its grey-brown fur blending in to the subtle colors of the forest on an early December morning. A fine way to start the day.
I just looked back through the blog to see when we had run at Bradley Palmer last. It was the end of March when I ran 22 miles there in prep for the TARC Spring Classic. Hard to believe we didn't get there at all this summer, but I suppose that since we didn't even get to Willowdale as we had hoped for any Stonecat recon runs, so I shouldn't be too surprised.
In any event, it is always nice to run at the "other" Brad. We got a bit of a later start than planned, as all of us slept in after a rough night of coughing from Sam. I got up at 8:00, Sam got up at 8:30 and Ryan didn't get up until 9:30 :-) I don't think that's happened for a long time! We finally got out on the trails around noon, and without even any discussion, set out on the GAC Fat Ass course. I know there are other nice trails to run, but it's just so easy to head out and know where we're going, what distance we're running, and not have to think about much else. Talk about creatures of habit :-) Still, I do like this loop, It's a nice mix of terrain and takes in a good portion of the park. I especially love the singletrack section in the middle as it wanders around through the woods and up the hill. I think I might have been a bit too enthusiastic on this stretch today - almost left Ryan in the dust - ha! ;) Just seems the perfect grade to run, and for some reason it's always fun to push it to the top. We kept the pace pretty snappy the whole way and got in a good 6 miles before heading back to Georgetown for round #2 of Thanksgiving. I'll be glad to be back to regular eating tomorrow, but as always, it sure was fun to eat pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner the day after Thanksgiving!
Went out this morning for a nice 5 mile run around the block. Cold and windy, but I felt good and managed a decent pace. I figure that was good for a 1/2 a piece of pie, right? ;)
The rest of the day was spent in and around the kitchen, eating and chatting, enjoying each other's company. Sam was so excited to meet her new cousin, Gavin! And what a cutie :-) We had a great day together. What a nice Thanksgiving!!
I am gripe and I may groan about the little things, but in the end, I have so much to be thankful for. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to look at the big picture and remember just how fortunate I am. I have family that loves me, friends to laugh with, a job, a car, a house, enough money to pay bills and buy groceries and to buy extras like running shoes and toys for Sam. I can turn the heat up on a cold winter night without worrying that my oil is going to run out. I can donate to some of my favorite causes. We can treat ourselves to gelato and dinner out. I can go for a run with friends in the middle of the day on a weekday. I can buy special grain-free food for my two spoiled cats, and we have enough money to go to the doctor when someone is sick.
At work, I hear stories every day from and about people who are struggling to stay in their homes, we don't have oil in their fuel tanks, who have had to give up their animals because they've become homeless, who are just trying to make ends meet and not succeeding, often through a series of unfortunate circumstances that have just become too much for them to handle. It certainly puts it all into perspective. And so, with Thanksgiving one day away, I write this to remind myself that, really, life overall is pretty damn good. And for that I am very thankful.
And just so this post isn't entirely serious...
Yesterday at daycare, Sam's class went through a list of food typically eaten at Thanksgiving dinner and together made up a chart of what they would eat. Sam's row had "no"s to everything, even the pies (!), except corn (which we don't typically have at Irene and Dana's for Thanksgiving), carrots (which she won't like because in this case they'll be cooked) and rolls (again, which we don't typically have at Thanksgiving but which I asked Irene belatedly to get so that Sam would be able to eat at least ONE thing off the Thanksgiving table like the rest of us). Ha! Good heavens, she's a picky soul! Guess who's going to be eating pasta for Thanksgiving dinner?! :-)
We're loaning Mindy our 2nd carseat so that she'll have it when she picks up her niece at the airport tomorrow. Because I had only worked a half day at Tedford, I had the afternoon free (even if there was some work I should have been doing ;)), and since I knew Mindy was free on Mondays too, I suggested we meet up for a run along with the carseat drop-off. We agreed to meet at Pineland, and I was happy to have the rendezvous scheduled, as I'm not sure I would have gotten out otherwise. It was cold and windy again - brrr! - winter is here! Was also happy to see Xar and Tim pop out of the car with Mindy - always fun to have a catch-up run with those I don't see very often!
Since I was only up for 5 or so miles, we hit Oak Hill. I really do like how that side of the trail system runs. Oh, it's hilly all right, but it's nice running. We set off all four of us together, chatting, catching up, hearing about the Ozarks and school and this and that, but somewhere around Gloucester Hill, Tim and I got ahead. I was surprised that I could run and keep up the pace on all the hills. We had a good time talking away the miles. Once we hit the field, we turned around to pick up Xar and Mindy, who weren't that far behind, and we all headed back to the cars together. They went on for a few more miles but I was happy to hear the Garmin chirp 5 miles and headed back home. It was great to have a chance to run with those guys, and to enjoy a nice Monday afternoon run through the woods on the snow-dusted trails. Saw lots of turkey prints, a few bunny prints, one hawk feather and what looked sort of like feline tracks - perhaps fox? It's always cool to run after a snow and see who else has been out on the trails :-)
We woke up to snow this morning. Sure wasn't expecting that! About an 1" on the ground around here, with the wind howling and the temps down in the low 20s. Brr. Guess winter wants to let us know it's on its way ;) Sam was so excited to see the snow that she wanted to go out right away. I convinced her to wait a few hours - I think we went out around 8:30 am - yup, we were up early! We got all suited up in our ski pants and snow boots and tromped around out back in the snow, enjoying the crunch of the dry snow beneath our feet, looking at our footprints, and of course, tasting the snow :-) After all that, we didn't last long - it was pretty chilly with the wind! We did head out a second time after lunch again, taking a walk along the thin trail that lines the fence. We saw lots of bird prints, plus some cat prints and one other set of prints - possibly a raccoon? It was still pretty darn cold out, but I was happy to get suited up and go out - I certainly never want to dissaude Sam of any outdoor adventures!
First snow of the season, and it tastes good :)
Once we came back in, I suited up for my own outdoor adventure and drove over to the Cathance ecology center parking area for a run. I wasn't planning to run today but I just couldn't resist getting out on the trails in the snow! There had been some traffic on the trails before me, and I saw one other person out enjoying the snow-covered trails. Always glad to see other people out and about! The going was slow - an inch of fluffy, dry snow atop a thick layer of downed leaves makes things pretty slick, that's for sure! - but the woods were beautiful and quiet, aside from the howling wind. Got in 3.75 miles and headed home. A nice first snow run for the season!
Had planned to head to Pineland this morning, but ended up deciding to stay in bed a little later, enjoy the quiet downstairs with a cup of coffee before Sam woke up, and just run around here. I was only planning on 5 miles anyway, so it seemed a bit silly to drive an hour total to run about 45-50 minutes! Sometimes it's just nice to mellow out on a weekend morning and not have to get in the car and go anywhere. I finally headed out around 8:30 and ran through the woods down to the river. The bog bridges were slick with frost and the frozen leaves crunched beneath my feet. Got in a nice mellow 5 miles.
I'm feeling pretty good but can tell I'm not quite back to my regular self again yet. Still kind of tired. I want to run, but I don't want to push too much right now. The overall plan is to take it easy through the end of the year and then start to ramp things back up again. Of course, the fact that I'm not in top form and am not running all that much hasn't stopped me from pondering "What's next?"That is part of the fun after all!
I believe the coin toss this afternoon pointed to a road marathon this spring over a spring 50k or 6-hour run. Yes, a literal coin toss. I am no good at decisions. See entering the lottery for the 50 miler, so I didn't have to be the one to make the final choice as to whether I ran it or not ;) I'm intrigued by the thought of running another marathon - haven't run one since MDI in 2008 - and lowering that PR, although I am admittedly a bit intimidated by the training plan I'd probably have to follow to run a "fast" time. It would be a good challenge though. Assuming I actually stick with the coin toss win, I'd go for either Sugarloaf or the Maine Coast Marathon in May, and then hope to run another long trail race in the fall to even out all that road running from the spring ;) Ah, it's such fun to plan and ponder!
Up and out before it was light this morning. The sky was a bit too dark for a sunrise spectacular, but there were a few nice lines of gold, pink and deep purple along the horizon as I turned for one last look from the top of the powerline hill before the last stretch home. A nice, easy three to start the day.
Of course, lest you think the morning was all tra la la happy go lucky, I came downstairs from my shower to find that there cat poop in the corner (what is up with that?!), and then later when Sam and I went upstairs to get her dressed and teeth brushed, she came running into the bathroom, without any clothes on since she was starting to get herself dressed, and said, "Mommy, mommy, I was bending down to get socks out of the drawer, and thought I had to fart, but instead of a fart, a little poop came out! It's on the floor. Not on purpose like the cats, it was an accident! I didn't touch it. Come see." *sigh* [She is not a kid who poops on the floor, ever, and the whole thing was all so genuine, that I tried to just not make a big deal of the whole thing, and honestly, I really do think that she really thought she just had to fart.] So, never believe that the day continues on in the same manner as that peaceful morning run :-) Life is never that simple or tranquil around here. Ha!
Clearly, Sam is a daycare kid, as tonight she asked if she could write her letter to Santa, and this is not something we have brought up with her before. Luckily, she doesn't have a very big wish list and simply wants a new "stuffy," a little brown bunny like "Puppy." :)
Under "Bunny": a picture of a butterfly :)
"Dear Santa, I would like a new bunny. Thanks. Love, Samantha."
Perhaps it was because yesterday's weather was so unseasonably warm, but today it just seemed downright chilly. Brrr. After first work, and then more work at home on the newsletter front, I headed out for a run at 3:00 pm. I ran the Heath loop, hoping that with most of the run being in the woods, I'd be protected from the wind. It sure was blustery out there! Literally took my breath away a few times. But the legs felt good, and it is always nice to take a break from the computer and get out into the woods! Saw Nate and a few members of his team on the way back. They were doing one-footed hopping drills up the sand hill as I ran down through. I think I like my workout better :-)
Met up with Amy at 7:00 am for an early morning run through the misty fields at Pineland. The woods were very peaceful at that hour underneath the overcast sky. We got in a mellow 6 miles, talking the whole way, including to the cows at the edge of the pasture ;), and then spent another hour chatting over coffee in the Market before heading back home to our respective days. A nice start to a Sunday morning!
I came home to find pancakes cooking on the stove - yum, what a treat! We noticed the sky beginning to clear a little bit later and hastened to get dressed and out the door for a short hike. For something different, we headed around the Heath, enjoying the bog bridges, listening to the leaves crinkle underfoot, and of course, stopping to pick up nature treasures along the way - moss, leaves, little piece of wood, mica, pinecones, acorns, and two feathers - one hawk and one unknown - black on the top and yellow underneath, but too big, I think, to be my first guess, which was goldfinch. We took a snack break at the bench overlooking the Heath - the water dark and still, topped farther out with a blanket of cotton sedge - another incredibly peaceful and beautiful spot. Always nice to get out in the woods with Sam and Ryan, and the trails in the Cathance never disappoint.