Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekend Ramblings

Ever so thankful for my three day weekends. Started things off with a double run on the Whiskeag Trail Friday morning after I dropped Sam off at camp. The plan was for me to get in one out-and-back and then meet up with Keri for the 2nd. I got a slightly later start that I had hoped, but figured I could still get in 9 miles before getting back at 10:00ish for our meet-up. It was sunny and warm, and somehow I always find it hard to keep a decent pace on this rooty trail, but as always it was quiet and lovely out there. I turned around a little past the Narrows Trail junction and was almost back to the YMCA when I got a message from Keri that she was running late. Well, no matter, I did another mile wandering around the side trails near the Y and then went back to the car to change my shirt - soaked through as it was very humid! - and refill my bladder. Then I went and sat in the shade and ate some oreos while I waited for Keri to arrive ;)

It was great to have a chance to catch up with Keri and we had fun chatting away as we ran along. The day was warming up quite a bit though, and I was really beginning to feel the heat. However, somehow, despite the fact that I was drenched, Keri seemed to not be sweating at all!?!? How do I get that? :) I felt like I was melting and decided I wasn't quite up for the extra 1-mile loop along the Narrows out at Thorne Head, which is really too bad, as it is really is lovely. We'll just have to get out there again, I guess!

I hadn't stopped to take in the views on my first out-and-back, knowing I'd be doing so with Keri, so on this round, we stopped at a few of the nice overlooks, taking in the river views at the confluence of the Whiskeag and Kennebec, watching an eagle circle out in the distance, and then back along the Whiskeag where the quiet waters were filled with water lilies and a great blue heron flew by. We were both so hot, we went down to the edge of the rocks and dipped our hats in to the water. It felt heavenly! Soon after, I ran out of water but Keri graciously gave me some from her bladder - it would have been a really warm few final miles back to the Y without that, for sure! We came in a little shy of 20 miles, but I was OK with that. 19.5 would do ;)

Stopping to check out the water lilies along the creek

Back at the car, the temp was reading 88 degrees, and then later, in the shade, 93. Aie! No wonder I was melting! It took a while, but I finally stopped sweating, and after a babywipe wipe-down and changing my clothes, I headed off to the Starlight Cafe for a post long-run refuel with a plate of bacon, eggs, veggie hash and homemade toast. Yum!

YUM!

Saturday morning, Ryan was going to the Brad for his long run, so I had set my alarm to get up and out early. There were severe thunderstorms, lightening and rain overnight which kept me up from 1:30 to 3:00 am, so the 4:00 am alarm just wasn't happening. But I didn't want to miss out on the chance for some miles this morning, and finally got out the door a little after 6:00 am for seven rather creaky and very saturated miles in the Cathance. Temps were around 70 degrees and once again, very humid. Unfortunately this meant I was followed by an annoying, biting pack of deerflies throughout the run, but on the plus side, I did see three little red efts, a groundhog and a snowshoe hare, plus some lovely bright red bunchberry berries. No photos though, as I didn't want to give up anything extra to those pesky flies!

Last night, we met up with some Bowdoin friends who were up for the track/XC reunion. We declined to partake in any of the on-track alumni races, but it was fun to catch up after for dinner and drinks!

This morning, I got in a lovely run on the powerlines. It was much cooler than yesterday morning so despite the persistent humidity, there were only a few deerflies - hurray! I kept the pace mellow and just wandered along, enjoying the towhees singing and the wood lilies blooming, and stopped for some blueberry, raspberry and even blackberry (1st of the season!) picking along the way. A good 5.7 miles to finish up the running week.

Emerging

Wood lily

Blueberry goodness

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Morning Running

Monday morning the running just did not happen. I was still tired out from the VT weekend, and sleeping in for a little bit longer just seemed like a much better idea than getting up at 4:00 am. But Tuesday, I knew I needed to get out. After an unexpected four day lay-off due to not pacing at VT :(, I was ready to get back on the trails and running.

It was another gorgeous Maine summer morning. I lucked out and managed to get in all my miles without seeing or swatting or hearing even one deerfly! I guess 5:15 am is the time to run :0

Felt a bit creaky at the get-go, but loosened up and managed to keep up a decent pace on a nice 7 mile loop up over Mt. A., out through the Cathance and back along the powerlines. Saw a snowshoe hare, enjoyed the mist rising over the Heath, saw a wood lily gleaming in the early morning light, and picked some blueberries to eat along the way. Life is good indeed!



Wednesday was another failure of a morning to get up with the alarm, but no harm done, I was up this morning and out the door at 5:45 am to make up for it. I wore my new road shoes - the Inov-8 Roadclaw 275 - and they seemed fairly comfortable during my Suicide & Chicken Hill workout. I did the same up strong/down fast routine, but this week I added a fourth time up/down both hills for a total of 8 repeats. I will admit to being fairly tired by the end, and also soaked ;)  A solid 5.2 mile effort for the morning. Even saw a big old lumbering porcupine along the top of the road at the 1 mile mark. Fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Crewing Amy at the VT 100 2016

On Friday morning, after loading up the car and picking up the requisite donuts at Frosty's :), we headed south to drop Sam off at Irene and Dana's for the weekend so that Ryan and I could head to VT for the 2016 edition of the VT 100. This was Ryan's 5th year crewing and my 2nd. I had so much fun crewing John when he ran it back in 2014 - it's a great event with so much energy and always seems to be a grand adventure for runners, crews, aid stations and pacers alike. Not to mention, there are horses! And this year, we were crewing for Amy, which was even more exciting! I was also set to pace her for the final 23+ miles from Spirit of 76 to the finish, and I was really looking forward to supporting her along the way and taking part in her journey!


Amy was the only TMR runner this year at the race, but TMR was once again manning the Lincoln Covered Bridge aid station, a pivotal aid station set in the long stretch between crewed aid stations, so Kate had rented a house nearby for a bunch of us to stay at. Ryan and I were the first to arrive, but we didn't stay long and soon sped off to Silver Hill Meadow to meet up with Amy and Rob, her friend from VA who was joining us as a crew member and who was on tap for the first 8 miles of pacing duties. It was warm and sunny, the air muggy. We caught up a bit and then Amy, Rob and I stayed for the pre-race meeting, although I could barely stand to be in the tent it was so warm. I jumped at the chance to head outside and get us the ice cream Amy and Rob had been contemplating getting before we arrived and distracted them :) Yum!

Amy and Rob dropped me off at the house after the meeting, and then headed back to their hotel to rest up for race morning. Meanwhile, our TMR crew began to arrive, and soon enough Kate, Ann and I were cooking up dinner and enjoying catching up with everyone. It was a fun evening and a great start to the weekend!




Saturday morning dawned early with a 2:30 am wake-up. We wound our way through the quiet VT countryside to the start line and took part in the nervous energy that is the start of a 100. Amy seemed very composed, and soon enough, they were off down the hill, a line of runners illuminated by each other's headlamps as the horizon began to glow.



After the start, we decided to head back to the house to catch a bit more sleep. I had hardly slept at all, so I was more than happy to climb back into bed, and I fell right back to sleep for about an hour and half. Then we made our way to the first crew stop, Pretty House, at mile 21. It was a gorgeous morning, bright and sunny but still cool in the shade. We did notice, however, as we sat by the roadside chatting and watching the runners come through, that most runners were already soaked. A sign the humidity was high.

Amy came through looking good, very solid and steady, and only stayed for a quick pack swap and to tell us that the Redd Bar was sitting a bit heavily in her stomach. After watching her take off down the road, we packed up and headed out to the next crew stop, Stage Road.



We were psyched to catch a glimpse of Jeff going by at Stage Road, and found a good spot in the shade to hang out and watch the runners go by. Amy came through once again looking really good, and keeping a nice steady pace. It was another short stop, this time with a change into her white TMR singlet, as it was getting warm and there would be a lot of exposed spots through the next stretch. Once, again, we sent her off down the road...



The next stretch was the longest between crew stops, so we took the opportunity to go back to the house and eat lunch inside and relax for a bit before heading over to help out for an hour or so at the TMR aid station, Lincoln Covered Bridge. It is incredibly awesome to help out at an ultra aid station, and I must say that ours is pretty awesome! Kate does such a great job organizing, and it is was great group there helping runners, filling bottles, giving out popsicles and encouragement, and sending runners out on their way. Once Amy came through, we picked up Jamie, reorganized the car and then headed off for a stop at South Woodstock General Store for Jamie to get some lunch before we drove out to Camp Ten Bear to settle in for our next chance to see Amy at mile 47.


We had started to recognize a lot of runners who were running around the same pace as Amy, which is always fun. And at Camp Ten Bear, we had the chance to chat for a while with Carolyn who was heading up the aid station for TARC. They had reorganized the crew parking, which made the experience there much nicer, and we were able to grab a spot in the shade while we waited. Here, we realized that Amy was slowing down quite a bit, but no worries, she was still on a good pace. As it always is with crewing, it was hurry up and wait ;) and fret, and wonder, and cheer and woohoo! There she is!! Here she took a bit of a longer break, changing her socks and telling us that she had struggled a bit through that last stretch. VT is no joke - there are a lot of hills with no real respite, it was hot and humid, and let's face it, 100 miles is a long way to go. She wasn't eating much, so we asked her if she wanted us to get her some real food for the next aid station. I suggested pizza and she seemed to like that idea, so after we sent her off up the hill, we headed into Woodstock to get some pizza ourselves and to load up with food to bring back to her at Margharitaville. Despite the fact that she had slowed coming into Ten Bear, really Amy was still moving along and wasn't falling apart at all mentally. She was steady and determined, and we were hopeful and optimistic as we set up at Margharitaville in the shade to await her arrival there.



Sadly though, we sat for a long time, as the shadows grew longer and more and more runners came through. I walked down the hill a ways, and ran into a runner who had spent a few miles running with Amy. He said she was hurting. We were worried, but all we could do was wait. When she did come up the hill though, Amy immediately told us she was going to drop. There was no drama, just the straight up acknowledgement that her foot, which had been hurting for a few weeks prior to the race, was not holding up and that there was no going on. We sat her down and got her into some warm clothes. It was not the ending we had all wished for, hoped for, or wanted for Amy, but sometimes these things just don't work out as we would like. 100 miles is a long way, and it is always an adventure, sometimes with an ending that is not the finish line.


It was a long, quiet ride back to the start/finish line. We got Amy into the car and after a quick cry between the two of us and a few hugs, we sent she and Rob off. We could hear the cheers from the finish line for those finishing in the 16-17 hour range. It was a rough juxtaposition.

Back at the house, the group was still up. I was feeling rather somber and wasn't really in the mood to socialize, so I didn't stay up long. Despite the fact that what I really wanted was to still be out there crewing for Amy and pacing her through those final miles, I will say I was more than happy to climb into bed and get some sleep. I slept like a rock and woke up around 7:00 am. We all quickly organized, packed up and took off. It was not the ending we had envisioned for the weekend, but it was still a fun adventure.

A DNF is never what we want, but not finishing does not define us and a non-finish it is not a failure, especially when one is injured. When you run enough, you realize that statistically, there will be DNFs and sometimes they will be yours. But these experiences are often the ones that teach us the most and the ones we grow from. Regardless of the outcome out on the course, I am really proud of the way Amy powered through her 58 miles on the rolling hills of VT, running with a steady, calm resolve and a determination that was most impressive. She was easy and fun to crew, and I know she will get out there again, when she is healed and the time is right. Heal up quickly, my friend! I look forward to getting back on the roads and trails with you soon!

---

Meanwhile, Sam had an awesome weekend with Irene and Dana, playing mini golf, taking a swan boat ride in Boston and going to the Aquarium. Thanks, Grammie and Grampie!








Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mid-Week

While I often bemoan the fact when my alarm goes off at 4:00 am, the reality is that these early morning midweek runs are quite nice, once I'm out there ;) Another gorgeous morning on Wednesday. A bit warmer and muggier than on Tuesday but a lovely sky as the sun rose, with fluffy clouds above and a lavendar hue along the horizon as I ran down the powerlines.


Ran the Highland Green loop and tried the interval timer again, this time with a bit more success ;) I had changed it to 1:00 high/1:30 low, and started it off after the Suunto beeped 1 mile. Got in 10 repeats before hitting the 4 mile mark. I kept the 1:00 highs a fast pace, pushing, but not all out, with an attempt to lengthen my stride and open things up a bit. I don't know if it's the most useful of workouts, but I feel like my legs need to remember that they have another gear and this is a nice way to do that. Stopped to pick a few blueberries on the return trip along the powerlines and saw a deer along the back dirt road. A good 5 miles for the morning.

This morning, I didn't have to get out of bed quite as early as Sam and I are headed down to Biddeford Pool to meet up with a few old college friends and their families for a beach day. 6:00 am felt almost late ;)

As I ran along I felt tired, it was heavy and muggy, I felt slow, but oh! The milkweed, ferns and roses smelled heavenly. There were big, ripe blueberries at every turn, and a few patches of wonderfully sweet raspberries to pick too. Out along the end of the powerlines, there were dozens of wood lilies, their reddish orange blossoms rising up from amidst the green brush and blueberry bushes. So incredibly gorgeous. Ended up with a very sweaty 8 miles and now it's time to get ready for the beach!




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Will These Work?

In a panic move upon the realization that I would no longer be able to get the Ultra 290 in my size, I purchased a pair of Roclite 295s on sale. I've worn them a half dozen times, but I'm really not digging them. Which is funny, as I have worn previous derivations of this shoe with much success in the past. But recently, I've almost exclusively worn the Ultra 290, which is a much different shoe, and I've really gotten used to that more stable, more cushioned feel. And so I am just not digging the 295. Therefore, I'm relegating them to hiking shoes, and since I purchased them for only like $44, I'm not feeling too badly about it. But it means I am still in need of a shoe replacement for the 290.

Ryan, being the wonderful husband and shoe geek that he is (and probably not wanting to hear me moan and groan about it any longer), found about 10 pairs of shoes which he thought would be comparable to the 290. I looked at them all online, read reviews, hemmed and hawed, and finally purchased a pair of the North Face Ultra Endurance (on sale) to try out.  I also found a pair of Inov-8 Roadclaw 275 (again on sale), as I have no road shoes and the NF shoes have a more aggressive tread than the 290s, which will probably make them less usable on roads. The Roadclaw apparently runs small, so I figured I'd gamble with the 6.5 and see what happened. I can always return them if necessary.

I wore the Ultra Endurance around the house the other night, even wearing one NF and one Inov-8 to see how they felt in comparison. It *seemed* comparable enough that I  decided to try them out this morning on my run. (Sam chose this color combo over the grey/purple that was also available.)

North Face Ultra Endurance

Big lugs

I got out a little after 5:00 am. Another gorgeous morning out in the Cathance. Beautiful glowing light above the trees, mist rising on the Heath, quiet woods and dew-covered fields. Got in a lovely 7 miles and felt good. Even better, the new shoes really felt good! At first, I noticed the heels seemed to be a bit looser than the Inov-8s but overall, I thought they felt a little less clunky than the 290s and very nice and cushiony and comfortable. Definitely a successful first run in them!

Glowing light above the Heath

Mist rising

Early morning light

Mist and reflections along the Cathance

Speaking of gorgeous, I stopped at the farmer's market on my way into work and picked up this glorious looking selection of mid-summer deliciousness. Yum!








Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saturday Seven

An overcast, muggy, rather dreary and rainy morning. In fact, in the woods, it was almost dark, despite the fact that at 6:25 it should be more than light out at this time of year. Also very quiet. Still had a few good wildlife sightings: scared up a Heron in the Heath, saw a deer in the field at the top of the Rapids Loop, and then saw a Belted Kingfisher flying and calling out as it flew low along the river.

Got in a nice 7 miles for the morning, and then took Sam to get donuts with her little friend Anne while Ryan was out for his long run. It's been three weeks since they've seen each other, and as Sam says, "It's been like 80 years since I saw her!" :) Ah, to be 6 again...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Short Week

A short week with the holiday and a down week for me in terms of running.

Slept in on Tuesday and then got up and out early on Wednesday for a run through the Cathance. Even at 5:40 am, it was muggy but at least there were no deer flies. Did see a snowshoe hare, but otherwise, all was quiet, even the river, which is running quite low right now. The woods are in that mid-summer green tunnel phase, with no colorful wildflowers, but out along the powerlines, the milkweed is blooming and smells so sweet.

Got in a nice 6.6 miles for the day, and then all hell broke loose with Sam whining and crying and being a general pain in the a** as I tried to get out of the house early for my Dr. Jamie appointment before work. Sigh. I figured this was going to be a rough week with her starting camp after two schedule-free week with Neenie and Pip, but really, that was not the way I wanted to start the day.

Felt tired yesterday morning and *almost* bagged on the hill repeats I had planned, but decided they'd be worth doing regardless. I've done this workout 4x now, and according to Strava, yesterday's was the fastest average pace, but it's still only 8:55 overall. Ha! Did note on the pace/elevation chart that I managed to eke out sub-6:00 pace 2x during the run, which sure sounds cool, even if it was probably only for like 1 second each time right near the end of the Suicide Hill downhill ;) In any event, I know the hills are good for me, and doing the workout this way seems to be more palatable/work better for me than doing your typical hill repeats, so I'll take what I can get and hope it is a useful addition to my training "plan." 4.3 miles for the day.

This morning, I let Sam sleep in a bit and then after dropping her off at Y camp, I headed out onto the Whiskeag Trail for some miles. It was a mellow meander, with lots of stops to take photos and take in the views. The air was muggy but cool, with a nice breeze and I saw no one else on the trails. I took a few of the offshoots to take in the views, and then once at Thorne Head, took the Narrows Trail around along the river before heading back. Saw and heard osprey calling above, a few crows chasing an immature Eagle, goldfinch flitting amongst the field grasses, a Downy Woodpecker out in Sewall Woods, and enjoyed a few blueberries along the way. The river in spots was filled with water lilies, the fields were lined with thistle and beach roses. This is a gem of a trail. While it's fairly flat with only a few minor ups and downs, it is rugged and rooty but a really nice way to get in some miles. Ended up with 11 happy miles.

Blueberries along the powerlines on the "high" bike route

Thistle lined trail

Low tide view

Whiskeag selfie ;)

River vista

Hmm, this is safe, right?!

Water lily lined river

Milk weed

Partridge Berry flowering

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4th of July Fun

We kept our holiday pretty mellow but had a lot of fun, starting with pancakes and bacon for breakfast, a nice mid-day hike on new trails, lunch out, and dinner with John.

We are working on the Summer Trail Challenge, which is a mix of trails we have hiked and new trails, so for yesterday morning's hike, we chose a hike out in Harpswell that we have not done before, the Devil's Back Trail. It was a short loop but through some interesting woods and along Long Cove. Very pretty and a nice 1.4 mile walk for the day!









After a relaxing lunch on the deck at SeaDog, we headed home for the afternoon. John came over for dinner, and later, the evening devolved from quiet reading and peacefully roasting marshmallows for smores (over the grill, yes, but still...) to shooting marshmallows at each other and Ryan maniacally attempting to light sparklers in the wind, using up about 4 dozen matches in the process. There was much laughter and much shrieking :) A good evening!