Got out mid-morning for 5 miles on the cart paths. The conditions on the gold course were variable, a mix of gravel, ice, packed snow, and some wet sections in the woods. The powerlines were a lovely mix of snow and hoar frost, good ankle twisting stuff! ;) Felt decent, and nice to do a more "runnable" run than yesterday to let the legs stretch out a bit!
Last week, I felt no urge to run. None whatsoever. Between the weather - cold, nasty, rainy, dreary all week long, trying to stay healthy while I had two sick people in the house, and juggling work, caring for the child with the oozing ear (ew!) and the husband who literally laid on the couch all week he was so knocked out by whatever he had, doctors appointments, and the general things that need to be done around the house to keep things moving in at least a semi-normal fashion, I didn't think about running at all.
Saturday, it was lovely to be out in the fresh air and the woods and move a bit while walking with Amy and Ann at Thorncrag, but I was still happy to be taking a break.
Earlier this week, I had fleeting thoughts of at least getting out for a few walks, but walking in the dark morning hours isn't half as exciting as running, and I was still trying to stay ahead of the sniffles I have, so I opted to stay in instead. But today, well, I told Ryan I would take two weeks off, and heck, what's one day less than two weeks?! Yes, my to-do list is several million miles long and I only have between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 pm today to get things done, but running is like my therapy and my mind was just begging for a break from my slightly frantic thoughts about Christmas, and cleaning, and getting the house ready, and people staying, and AH! Much like traveling, these sort of things put me into hyper-drive, so while travel is good, holidays and company are good, I have a tendency to go a little nutty at times like this. The solution? I put on my gear and headed over to the Cathance. I ran along the river, taking my time, enjoying the woods, the roar of the water, the crunch of the snow. It was slow going with a fair amount of ice, water, mud and down trees. There were stops for photos and to free birch trees from the snow, but it was a lovely 45 minutes on on the trails. I really needed that!
And now, it's back to that list. That shower isn't going to clean itself (even if I sure wish it would!)!
Today was spent making the house Christmas-y, or as Christmas-y as we get :) We had a lot of fun decorating the tree, and then Sam and I spent a long while wrapping stocking stuffers and presents. I'm guessing it will be pretty easy to tell which gifts were lovingly wrapped by Sam ;) Ha!
Sam and her "S"
And that's it. It's a wrap!
Sam's little tree in her room. Complete with a homemade star attached to the tree by Hello Kitty tape and two flower barrettes ;)
This morning was Val's annual Till We Meet In Hell run at Thorncrag. I hadn't planned on going to the run portion at all, thinking I'd either be taking care of Sam (before Ryan got sick) or just going to the after-party (once Ryan got sick) but Amy talked me into walking with her, and Ryan was OK with hanging out with Sam for a few hours before driving up for lunch.
It was a really nice morning for it. A few inches of wet snow had fallen, making the woods look like a winter wonderland and making for good traction underfoot. Plus, temps were mild and there was no wind. The loop was a little over a mile, and since we were walking, we had a chance to see everyone multiple times, and even get lapped by Kate and Chandra. Getting to lap us made Kate practically jump for joy :) Amy and I had a fun time chatting as we walked along, and Ann joined us for a while too. A fun walk in the woods, and a fun last big TMR event for 2014!
When we came back to Irene and Dana's on Saturday after the race, we found Sam lying on the couch, feverish and coughing. A bit of ibuprofin worked miracles, but she obviously had something going on. Sunday was more of the same, although we did have a good long stretch where she was her energetic self. We decided to keep her home on Monday so she could rest. Then Ryan got sick too. And Sam woke up with fluid oozing out of her left ear. Ew! Yesterday, both of them stayed home. Sam is definitely on the mend, with the ear drops and antibiotics helping her kick whatever has been in her system, but Ryan is still having a rough go of it.
Sam said the other night, "I hope Mama doesn't get sick. Who would take care of us?" Of course, if I do end up getting sick, I'll still be taking care of everyone, that's just what moms do, but I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. And so far, I'm still standing (and keeping my fingers crossed that I stay that way!).
When I first signed up for this race, part of what drew me in was that there was only one female name on the 40-mile finisher list. Yes, yes, I know, silly competitive spirit! :) But there, I said it. I really wanted to be on that list.
As I said, training going into the race went fairly well, but it wasn't quite enough for a 40-mile race, and now that I've run the course, I realize I really should have spent more time on the hills at Bradbury! I hoped I could muscle through, but started to get a bit nervous as the race rolled closer. Intel from Michael Wade pointed to a gnarly, rough course, and coming from him, that had me worried. I wondered if I should drop down to the 32 miler. But that seemed a bit like cheating, so I decided to stick with the 40 and see how it all played out. Then the forecast for race day started looking ominous 10 days out and only got worse as Saturday drew closer. I tried to pretend I was nonplussed, but the idea of a full day out in a cold, cold rain didn't really put me at ease. Still, I reasoned that I have hiked and camped in worse. I would just pack as much as I could so I'd have options. I could do this, right?!
In the end, while the day was wet and cold, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. All the snow from Thanksgiving had melted, leaving the trails, and the many rocky ledges, clear. It rained and misted for most of the day, but it wasn't a hard rain. And temps hovered in the low 40s, so at least it wasn't that 33 degrees and rain, which is just about the worst weather combo there is.
We left Georgetown in the dark, making our way to the start in a parking lot off the Stoneham exit. We arrived a bit before 6am, which left time to mill around, hit the port-a-potty, chat with a few friends and get to the pre-race meeting on time :)
This race is a bit of a different animal, in that they had not marked it to the extreme. There were a few TARC signs in prominent spots, but otherwise it was up to the runners to follow the white blazes on the 8-mile Skyline Trail.
There is also a strict cut off. The race started at 7:00, and due to the early sunset, the cut-off to start the 5th and final loop was 2:30 pm. I figured if I ran 1:45ish per loop, I should be good. That seemed reasonable and doable. Of course, as is often the case, I ran the first loop a bit too quickly, even though I walked most of the uphills and tried to keep things easy. I ended up running with George and Joe for a while, which was nice. The trail was no joke. It really was more of a hiking trail, winding up the steepest inclines, snaking over rocky ledges, with a few hand scramble spots. The ups and downs were short but sufficiently pitched that there was a fair amount of hiking necessary (at least in my case). I got off the trail a few times, but only by a few steps and easily got back on course, so no real harm done. With all the rain, the rocks were slick and there was a fair amount of water on the trail. It sure wasn't a loop I was going to run quickly, that's for sure! I came back to the start in around 1:37, and headed right to the port-a-potty for a quick break. I wasn't feeling terrible but I wasn't feeling great, but I was only one loop in, so off I went again. I tried to hide my blah feeling from Ryan, but I'm not sure it worked ;)
Traffic on the trail thinned out a lot on the second loop and I ran mostly alone. I think this trail would be fun to run in early fall, as the rocky ledges reminded me of Acadia, and I am sure there were some nice views. Of course, yesterday, there were no views and it was really necessary to concentrate hard so as not to slip on the slick rocks. Kristina, the only female finisher in years past, was running the loop counterclockwise [You could run the loop either way. The majority of runners ran clockwise, like I did, but some ran the other way. I stuck to clockwise for all loops so not sure which was better, but I am a creature of habit and didn't want to mix things up along the way!], and every time she passed me she was always smiling and looked like she was flying, just out for a jog. Oh man! I did not look like that, I am sure :) I started to get rather dreary on this loop. The trail didn't allow for much of a rhythm, my left leg was starting to feel tight, it was cold and rainy, and I couldn't quite focus the way I needed to to block all of that out. I just didn't feel like I was having fun out there. By the time I got back to the start/finish, I really wanted to stop. I had a small breakdown, complete with crying, but decided in the end that I didn't want to quit. So I changed my gloves and hat, had a bit of food, and then Ryan sent me off with Tim. I think I came in around 3:31 or so, so not a bad average for the two laps.
I stayed with Tim through the first big climb, but sent him on his way soon after. He was running strong and I didn't have the energy to keep up. I probably should have tried, but I didn't feel like I had it in me. In fact, I think lap #3 was the slowest loop. I was so sure I was done at the end of it, gesturing to Ryan that it was over. He said something like, is there room for negotiation? I must have sighed in such a way that he knew I could be persuaded, even if I didn't want to be, so he told me Carolyn was waiting to run a lap with me. I was pretty cold and wet at this point, so I changed my shirt and put on my yellow Craft jacket and new gloves. That helped a lot. I also had some broth and a sip of coffee before we headed out. Of course, a few steps down the trail, I had to backtrack as I forgot I needed my bladder refilled - I was out of water! Oops! Can you tell my head was not quite in the game?!
I am SO grateful to Carolyn for running this lap with me. It was really nice to have company and being with her got me out of my head, which really wasn't a good place to be. We had a great time chatting away the miles, and I really enjoyed talking with her. She brought Kristina's dog, Jack, with her, and he trotted quietly and patiently along beside her as they followed me along the trail. I had a burst of energy in the early part of the loop and felt strong on the hills, although certainly slowed down on the back half of the loop. Things had gotten pretty sloppy out there, and I was tired, so was even slower on the downhills. However, the mist had cleared enough that we did get a view of the Boston skyline from near the stone tower, which was cool. This loop was faster than the third, but it wasn't fast enough. When we finally reached the "mid-way" (probably more like 5 miles in) aid station, I looked at my watch and realized I was very likely to miss the cut-off. I wasn't upset, I simply matter-o-factly told Carolyn I was going to get cut off. She couldn't believe it, but yup, it was true. She said, well, leave me, go go! But I had too much real estate to cover in not enough time. It was over. I had run for as long as they'd let me and I had to be good with that. So, I finished the 32 with a big smile on my face, and I am really proud that I managed to keep going when honestly what I really wanted was to stop at 16 miles, and maybe even after just one loop.
Shortly after I came in for 32 miles in 7:37ish, Kristina finished her 40 miles! She ran super strong all day, and certainly deserves to be the only female name on the finisher list :) Wish I could have been there, but it just wasn't my day. Huge congrats too to John, Joe and Tim for finishing the 40, and George, Michael and Ally for finishing the 32. Impressive! And of course, many thanks to Ryan for standing out in the cold rain all day cheering us on, and to Irene and Dana for watching Sam while we were gone all day.
I'll be taking a few weeks off in an attempt to reset a bit, and will hope to start off 2015 with a bit of a better mindset than I had during this race. I certainly didn't have my best day out on the trails this weekend, but it was, as always, a great TARC event, with awesome volunteers and a good, if seriously rough, course.
I want to say I've learned my lesson and won't put a race on the calendar so late in the year again, but I don't feel like I am finished with this one yet. I'm already thinking about how I can get that 40 mile finish... ;)
Quick three miles around the block this morning. Cold - 17 degrees - but it is supposed to be in the low 40s tomorrow and raining. Crazy weather. Oh well, at least my hydration bladder hose won't freeze :)
Due to unknown conditions, both trail and weather, I have just decided to pack as much as I can. Yup. All the things. ;)
Ryan asked me the other week about the Fells race. You know, that 40 mile race I signed up for in a burst of ultrasignup enthusiasm pre-Pisgah when I somehow had the thought in my head that I really must run another long race this year? It is right around the corner! As in this weekend! Don't quite know what I was thinking! HA :)
Looking back, I think it took me longer than I would have liked to recover mentally from TARC and I never really got in the right amount of training for Pisgah. I never quite had the enthusiasm. Combine that with the heat and the sting, and well, 6:19 was what we got. I am not complaining too much though, just a bit :) Anyway, after that, I felt a bit of a fire and the past 2 1/2 months of training since then have actually gone pretty well, except that instead of actually sticking to the plan I had written in my planner and getting in a 24 and a 26 mile run along with a few 20s, I have gotten in four exactly 20.0 mile runs, plus a 15 and a 16 and a few shorter weekend runs post-Pisgah. I am happy with how the last three week training block went with three 20s in a row as things felt good and strong, but I also know I probably should have gotten in a bit more time on my feet along the way. Ah well, sometimes you just go with what you got and hope your stubbornness, accumulated miles and your crew will get you through! It is going to be interesting for sure. Not only is this race 40 miles, on what sounds like some fairly gnarly terrain where there will likely be still snow and ice from last week's storm, there's the potential for finishing in the dark, and the weather forecast is calling for a cold rain. Gotta love it!
For the sake of the running blog, got in a mellow 3 miles on the roads yesterday morning and headed out in my screwshoes today to run 4 miles around the Heath. Variable conditions out in the woods, ranging from snow to ice to cold puddles to solid ground, but a pretty morning to be out.
Met up with Amy this morning for a winter wonderland walk at Bradbury. Despite the snow, it was fairly warm out with overcast skies. We headed out on the Snowmobile Trail, ducking under bent branches heavy with snow and skirting little ponds of slush, but mostly just walking and talking. We did stop to enjoy a Pileated Woodpecker calling and flying overhead - always a good sighting! Lots of prints in the snow too. Also had an Andy sighting, cruising fast as only he can, without screwshoes even! We got in 3.8 miles in a little over an hour and half, and then went to warm up our wet feet at Edna & Lucy's over coffee and cookies :) Always good to catch up, Amy! Thanks for the walk!
Later in the afternoon, Sam, Ryan and I got out for a short walk through the snow around the woods out back, ending with a few good rolls down the sledding hill. Nothing like a roll in the wet snow ;) Literally! We got soaked but it was fun!
Sam's gym teacher told them they should get outside and be active every day over the Thanksgiving break. So far we've managed to stick to the "homework" - a bike ride on Tuesday before we headed south, a short walk in the snow on Wednesday with me, snow tromping, snowman making and snowbale jumping on Thursday, a walk in the woods with both of us yesterday, and then a two-fer for today :)
This morning, I took her to swimming and after lunch we actually got out on our xc skis! This has to be the earliest we've been able to do so in years, probably since we lived in North Conway. The fields around Mt. Ararat had been groomed, so we headed over there around 1:00. The snow was perfect, the sky was blue, there was no wind, and it is apparent that Sam has gotten so much stronger since the last time we had her out on skis! She did a great job skiing around the 0.75 mile loop, with a few hill repeats in the midst as we were working on going up and down hills. She is great on the uphills but kept falling on the downhills. Oh well, she had fun and it was nice to be out on our skis with her!
Everyone, well except me, slept in this morning. And since I had told Sam I'd be there to get her out of bed the morning, I didn't head out for my run until around 10:00 - she slept until 8:45!!! I wandered out under moody, overcast skies, my route taking my through and along the edge of some of the Newburyport marshes. The expanse of golden cattails and marsh grasses against the greyish sky and the snow-covered trees was very pretty in a subtle way.
Moody morning marsh
I got in a nice, fairly snappy 10 road miles and got home in time to eat leftovers for lunch :) Yum!
Later in the afternoon while Gavin was napping, Sam, Ryan and I headed out into the woods to tromp around. We crunched along through the pine trees and bushes, following deer trails and the edge of the swamp out in the conservation property beyond, for a nice snowy nature walk.
53 degrees this morning when I headed out for my run at 5:55 am. After the spate of cold weather we've had the past few weeks, it felt like spring! Very odd. And we're supposed to get snow tomorrow. Guess the weather is a bit confused these days :)
Used my headlamp for the first two miles, and then turned it off in favor of running along the cart paths in the murky, misty pre-dawn light. With the warm weather, the cart paths were a bit squishy, but still fairly firm. Glad I wasn't running in the woods, as I am sure the melted hoar frost pockets out there would have made for some serious ankle turning! The sky lightened gradually until finally around mile 5, I noticed a bit of color above the treeline. Soft purples and golds lit up the sky. Nice 6-mile morning.
I was up and out of the house this morning around 7:00 am while everyone else was still sleeping. For the sake of diversity, I drove over to Bowdoin and headed out through the Commons to the ocean via Coleman Farm. At 30+ degrees, it felt downright balmy after the past few days! With the mild air, no wind, and the sun breaking through the clouds, it was a lovely morning to be out in the woods. The juncoes flitted in and out of the brush at the edge of the pastures and a thin veil of ice sat atop the ponds along the trail. The sun glistened off the thin ribbon of water snaking through the salt marshes, and the leaves crunched beneath my feet. Finished up with 8 mellow miles, and returned home early enough to enjoy the pancakes and bacon Ryan was cooking up. Yum!
I never tire of this view
After a leisurely rest of the morning reading and playing, and doing a bit of cleaning and end of the fall organizing, we set off for Augusta to the Children's Discovery Museum. It's really more of a playplace, with different experiential/discovery rooms, but Sam had a blast. We were there for 2 1/2 hours! Of course, much of the time was spent playing grocery store because, well, that is the most fun ever :) On the way home, we stopped into Slates for a cookie and found Xar doing a bit of studying there. What a happy coincidence! It was fun to catch up while we enjoyed a bit too much sugar :) All in all, a great Sunday!
Very much looking forward to the end of regular rifle/deer hunting season next weekend. All my runs have felt constrained by the thought of hunters out in the woods, and I am looking forward to a bit more freedom to head further out on the trails. Today, since I didn't get out until around 11:00 am, I stuck to the cart paths to play it safe, but still wore my orange. I felt surprisingly spry after yesterday's run, so much so that when I realized mile #2 had clicked by in under 9:00, I figured I'd try to keep it up for the rest of the run. I wasn't exactly running fast, but I was pushing a bit. Felt good. Got in a nice 6 miles on a breezy, cold and overcast day.