Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Running

We've been down in MA this weekend hanging out with Ryan's family. There has been a lot going on, but despite the sadness of Phyllis's passing, we have still had a lot of fun together.

 Sam has been in seventh heaven being a big cousin to little Gavin. He is such a cutie!






The Easter Bunny visited, leaving some eggs for Sam to find, and a basket full of goodies, including a bubble maker!

We got out to the playground this afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and get a little exercise.




Between all the activity yesterday, Ryan and I both managed to get over to Bradley Palmer, just not together. I took the late shift, starting my run around 3:30 pm. It was warm and sunny, and there were a lot of people out enjoying the park. I ran a loop of the GAC Fat Ass course until the road, then retraced my steps to get in 10 miles The woods are still mostly brown, but there are hints of green at the edge of the swampy areas; the skunk cabbage are poking up through the mud, brightening up the forest floor. Didn't feel the most energetic, but it's always nice to run at the other Brad.

This morning, I headed out onto the roads for 8 miles. I kept the pace mellow and just enjoyed being out. This coming week will be pretty light, running-wise, and then we'll be back here next weekend for the Spring Classic!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DIRT!

There is nothing like a trail run down to the ocean on a sunny afternoon to soothe the soul and put a smile on my face. I got out around 1:30 this afternoon and headed out through the Commons. I was happily surprised to find that most of the snow I had encountered last week was melted and that the vast majority of the trail system there was dry. Hallalujah for running on dirt! It felt so good. It was also nice to feel like I was running strong, so that helped too, I am sure :-)

It was...wait, can you guess?...windy out along the Pennelville fields and on the trails out to Coleman Farm, and while those trails were a bit sloppier, they had drained significantly too, making for much easier running. The singletrack through the woods along the salt water marsh was my slowest mile for the day at 9:39 pace, a combination of the winding trail and the squishy, mucky mud found in some spots. But still, it was lovely.

Managed a nicely paced 8 miles for the afternoon, and was happy to have gotten out. The woods were fairly quiet, although there were a number of mallards in the ponds and streams, and I saw a pair of Common Mergansers in the first pond. Also saw a patch of little blue bell flowers (not sure of the exact name) along the path at the edge of Coleman Farm. First wildflowers of the season! Can't wait for another month when the trout lilies and ladyslippers are out, but for now I was just happy to see some color out there!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Snow and A Passing

Snowy.
Sloppy.
Squishy.
Slow.
Silvery sky.
Six am run.

---

At 7:15 am, a text came through on Ryan's phone. "Are you up?"
And I knew.
Phyllis was gone.
She has been very sick, and had been in the hospital since last week. The decision had been made over the weekend to put her on hospice care, to make her comfortable until it was her time to go. I am glad she did not suffer in the end, but I wish she could have gone peacefully in the night, without incident, without the hospitalization, and without the pain it caused Ryan, his parents and his grandfather to see her there. Although I know she had a very full, rich and happy life, it is always hard to have a loved one go. Phyllis was such a vibrant woman, so full of life. It is hard to reconcile that image with what I know were her last days. And so, I will just remember her as I knew her, happy, laughing, playing with Sam, quilting, following along as we hiked the AT, sitting at the computer emailing and reading my blog for updates on Sam and all our crazy antics. You will be missed, Phyllis. We love you.

On our wedding day, October 10, 1999

At Meghan's wedding, June 2008

October 2009

December 2009

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

March 2012

November 2013



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Six at Six

Up and out at 6:00 am this morning for my run. It was dreary and blustery. I repeated Sunday's run, except that on the trip home I went on the trails through the Mt. A. woods instead of up and over Mt. A itself. Should have stuck to the hills. The low lying trails were very soggy and soft, and I was postholing through the mud and sand. Needs a bit more time to dry out, for sure!

The run went well, and I felt good throughout. Saw a cute little porcupine off the edge of the top of the Mt. A. road, and then the first red-spotted newt of the season along hole #5. He was just poised there, motionless, at the edge of the cart path. I stopped to say hello, and pondered moving him. Decided not to, but then a few minutes later when I saw two women and their dogs running the cart path in the other direction, I wished I had. Hope they didn't smush him! Also saw a Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker and the first pair of Phoebes for the season. Nice early morning run!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cart Path Six

Got out this morning for a run on the cart paths. It was overcast and dreary, lows 40s, back to early spring as compared to yesterday's brilliant sunshine and warm summer-like weather. The cart paths were probably 97% clear, with only a few patches of snow and ice that were fairly easy to maneuver around. It started to drizzle partway through the sun, but luckily I missed the downpours that happened an hour or so later, when Sam, Phil, Anne and I were at the playground! ;)

Ryan headed down to MA after breakfast to visit his grandmother in the hospital, so Sam and I spent the day together, although with two playdates to break up the time. The playground didn't last long this morning, so instead we headed to Glazed, a pottery place in Brunswick. The kids had fun painting a few ornaments and little figurines before we returned here for them to play bit longer before lunch. Then, after a quiet afternoon, we headed over to Nate and Shannon's for dinner. It is always fun to play with friends!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baby Gnarlin Shower

Today was the TMR baby shower for Ian and Emma and their soon-to-be little one, dubbed baby "Gnarlin," held at Jim and Shauna's house. Of course, it wasn't just a shower, it was a run too :)

John picked Ryan up early so that they could get in a few extra miles before the group start at 9:00 am, and Sam and I headed over to Kristen's around 8:00 am. Sam was very excited to hang out with Morgan so it was no trouble for me to quickly head back out the door to get to the shower.

There was a good group assembled at the start of the running loop, which went out into the woods behind Jim's house and hooked up with some trails in the Falmouth Forest Preserve. The trails were much more technical than I would have anticipated, and man, they were icy! I was really glad I wore my screwshoes, but even so, it was slow going. The group I was with on the first lap got lost, but we had fun chatting away as we ran along. I talked for a short bit with Amy, heard about Mary's trip to Zurich and London, and then later caught up with Joe and Julia, and heard about Joe's teaching up north and his running plans. On the second loop, Mary and I set out together with Valerie and Four, who got ahead of us. We then managed to get turned around, but retraced our steps and met up with Jim and Julia, who got us back on course. The third loop, I ran with Jim and Andy, and by the time we were done, it had been an hour and a half - sheesh! - and it was time for the shower festivities. I probably could have gone out for another loop and still gotten back in time for the present openings, in retrospect, but it seemed that everyone had forgone long distances today, and no one wanted to head back out on the trails. Oh well. Short on miles, as I only got in 6.4 instead of the intended 10, but the time on my feet was about right. The pace today was very slow, which might have helped, but regardless I was happy to have my legs feel good and not feel much stiffness or soreness from yesterday. Plus, it always helps to run with friends!

So, I changed, enjoyed some yummy fruit and sweets, and sat out in the sun relaxing and chatting with Amy as we watched the gift opening. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Afternoon 21

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and I was lucky enough to only work a few hours today and then head out for a long run, out through the Commons and the fields of Pennelville, down to the ocean on the trails of Coleman Farm. 

It was warm and sunny. 

I wore shorts and a t-shirt - hurray! 

I saw my first Great Blue Heron of the season, gliding above the salt marshes along the Coleman Farm peninsula. 

I found some dirt! 

I ran 21 miles. 

And, after I got home , got showered, had a small snack, and realized I still had 45 minutes until I had to pick up Sam from daycare, I quickly ran upstairs and vacuumed, then came downstairs, gathered up all the recycling and made a quick trip to the dump. Part of me laughed, knowing that years ago, a 21 mile run would have wiped me out for the rest of the day. I would have sat on the couch and had Ryan go out and get a big ice cream for me and done nothing else all day long ;) Ha! Now, I had 45 minutes, and what did I do? I didn't relax! I got stuff done! Guess that's how things change when you have a kid, and when you think that running 21 miles on a Friday afternoon is a not that big of a deal :-) It is amazing how much my body has adapted and changed to handle volume since I ran my first ultra back in 2011, and the MDI marathon in 2008 (edit: not my my first marathon, as originally noted. First marathon was Maine Marathon in 2006).

From John's reports, it sounded like the Commons and Coleman Farm would be good options for today's long run. I wasn't expecting it to be perfect, but at least there was a lot of dirt to be found! There was also a lot of soft ice, ribbons of snow in the middle of the singletrack, puddles, mud, soft squishy boggy sections, ice with puddles over them, and all the other fun stuff to be found on the trails in spring ;) 

It was a bit softer overall than I thought it would be, and there was a fair amount of slipping and sliding, sloshing and mucking. I ran two laps out through the Commons and to the ocean, and things melted a lot in the 3:40 I was out there. Pretty amazing. So, variable conditions for sure. Also, unfortunately, the legs didn't have much pep in them from the very start. I had been hoping to run today's miles (mostly) at the pace I would like to be able to keep at the Spring Classic, but that didn't quite happen. I managed to keep the first 8 miles (minus mile #6, when I stopped out at the end of Coleman Farm to take in the ocean view) at sub-10 pace but then things slowed (well, except for the dirt road stretches). I'm a bit disappointed about that, as I was hoping for more of a confidence booster but oh well.

I'm thankful to have been able to get out and get in this run, and I never tire of being able to run on trails down to the edge of the ocean. I could have done without the tick I found crawling on my leg after I got in the car, and wish I'd been a bit more energetic out there, but I know it's all part of training. 

After I picked up Sam at daycare, we went to Little Tokyo for a dinner date, as Ryan was working late. We sat at the sushi bar and talked about her day, and watched the chefs behind the counter. And miracle of all miracles, she agreed to try her cucumber roll as is, and not just open it up and take out the cucumber and eat that portion :) And, she LIKED it! With soy sauce even! OMG, she is eating sushi! ;) There is hope yet...

Enjoying her sushi :)

Then we went and got gelato :) So, you know, really, it was a pretty good day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Against the Wind

If I'm going to run roads, my favorite place is the Pennelville area. As I was trying to get in 8 miles in between work and picking Sam up for swim lessons, I figured roads would be the best thing time-wise, so I headed over to Pennelville. The wind was whipping. Hmmm, perhaps not the best choice. Oh well, nothing to do but run!

I headed down Merepoint first, the first mile squarely into the wind, and then turned onto Maquoit, where in a true sign of spring the street sweepers were out, which was great, except for the wind, and well, all the dust and sand the machines were kicking up. Yuck! By the third mile, I was out into the quiet along Rossmore, the wind was at my back and it felt wonderful! Hit sub-8 here and wondered if I could keep it up. The legs felt good and it was nice to run at a faster pace. The turn-over was a novelty after all the slow miles I've been doing this winter, even if a lot of that had to do with conditions.

The ocean views along Rossmore were, as usual, lovely. Saw several mallards in the tidal marsh river, and one bluebird near the junction with Simpson's Point Road. There, I headed back into the wind down to the ocean. Although the sky was overcast, there was a lovely bluish glow along the horizon beyond the islands.

I looked at my watch at the turn-around and noticed the average pace was reading 8:01. Well, that just couldn't stand ;) Although the final miles through the fields were open and therefore windy, I thought I'd just see if I couldn't get that reading to be something in the 7s. I won, if barely, with the watch reading 1:03:58 and 8.00 back at the car, for an average pace of 7:59. Racing against a watch is not something I want to do every day, but it made for an fun game out there on the roads today.

Saw five kestrel in the fields as I ran back toward the car. I almost thought the first was a mourning dove sitting on the telephone wires, until I saw it fly. Neat birds to watch, swooping and playing in the wind.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Short and Late

Heard the rain pelting the skylights this morning at 6:00 am and decided to roll over and go back to sleep. So, 12 hours later, once Ryan got home, I headed out the door after dinner and before Sam's bedtime for a short run. I know I'll be running roads tomorrow, so I wanted to see how the trails were looking, despite knowing that they are likely very questionable at this time. I ran the short Highland Green loop, adding in a short 1-mile loop along the quarry, the edge of the Heath and the cart path on hole #3. There is definitely a lot less snow out there than on Sunday, but things are still a mish-mash and pretty sloppy. Wasn't feeling super energetic, but happy to get in a few miles before the end of the day.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shoulder Season Running

After along day of travel yesterday, we arrived home around 10:30 pm. We put Sam straight to bed, started to think about unpacking our bags, thought better of it, and got into bed ourselves. I didn't get out of bed until 8:30 this morning, with Sam and Ryan getting up soon after. I guess we were all tired! The next few hours were spent unpacking and doing laundry, but I finally hauled myself out the door for a run. I knew conditions were bound to be interesting, but I thought I'd try the Snowplug 50k loop, just to get a feel for as many sections of trail as possible. Well, let's see, there was a bit of bare ground, lots of ice, lots of soft snow, a fair amount of undermined, postholing snow and some mud. Down along the river, the trail was very icy. I really was wishing for retractable screw shoes at that point - they would have been fabulous on a run like this! I was slipping and sliding about, and just knew the rest of the Cathance trail section would be really slow going, so I bagged it and headed back up to the ecology center. From there, I ran the paved road back to the powerlines and home. The splits for the 5.25 mile run ranged from 8:41 to 11:55. Guess which mile was run completely on pavement? Ha!

Guess we're in for shoulder season running for a while... There is still a lot of snow out there... Should make things interesting for the next few weeks, that's for sure!

Friday, April 4, 2014

River Landing 10

Up a bit slowly and creakily this morning, but didn't want to dawdle too long as it was supposed to be another hot one today. We finally made it out the door around 9:30 am for 10 miles through the neighborhood. Made a big loop, with one small additional out-and-back to tack on a few miles. We were going slow enough that we saw a fair amount of wildlife along the way - a Pileated woodpecker, a Grey Tree Frog, one very brilliant Bluebird, a lot of turtles sunning themselves along the ponds, one very large plain-bellied water snake with a red belly and brown top, three Cardinals, and a Great Blue Heron.

My energy wasn't bad today, but my left groin/adductor was very tight - youch! Surprisingly, or perhaps not, I felt better after the run and some stretching. And while not the fastest running this weekend, it was a pretty solid back-to-back "weekend" for me, which I'm very happy with, especially given the past few weeks.

After lunch, we headed up to the pool for a final afternoon swim, and then up to the club for a yummy dinner. Sam got herself all glammed up for the occasion :-) Sparkly sunglasses, sparkly purse, and sparkly shoes. Ha!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Neusiok Trail Exploration

We set out at 6:40 am, driving across the NC countryside as the sun rose, its soft light hitting the seemingly endless fields, interspersed irregularly with groups of houses and a few small towns. After two hours of driving through the flat landscape, we reached our destination, a small parking lot on a road in the Croatan National Forest outside of Havelock. Somewhere in his internet wanderings, Ryan had stumbled across the Neusiok Trail, a 20-mile trail through the Croatan National Forest, and we thought it sounded like a fine adventure and a good place to get in a long trail run while we were down visiting my parents. If we had had more time and another car, it would have been cool to run the whole thing south to north, but as that wasn't going to happen, we chose to park a car at the northernmost road crossing, run the final stretch of trail, touted as the best section, return to the car and then run the final miles going in the other direction on the trail. 

We got started around 8:45 am, headed out on the flat, soft trail into the longleaf pine forest. 

Neusiok Trail

Trailhead

The start

We were happily surprised to find some undulation to the terrain, and some singletrack with some roots too, as it meandered through the pine trees and bogs. In fact, Ryan was obviously not expecting the roots, as he managed to catch his foot on one of them and go down - hard - within the first mile. Ouch. We stopped to clean off the sand, and make sure his shoulder was ok - still a bit stiff at the moment. not good - before continuing on. The trail crossed some boggy, wet sections, and we encountered our first of many bogbridges. 

Right before the tumble

Wide pine forest

Bog bridge #1

I led the way, as although I was optimistic and determined to finish today's 20 miles, I was slightly unsure how I would hold up and I wanted to make sure I was running a pace that I thought I could hold for 3+ hours. I felt great at the TARC Spring Thaw two weeks ago and got in a good 21+ miles that day, but things took a sharp downhill right after that with Sam being sick and then me getting bronchitis. I wasn't sure how the lungs would be, and oh yes, not to mention I only ran 20 and then 11 miles the past two weeks. I'm happy to report it didn't seem to be an issue, although I felt slightly rusty the first 5 miles or so, but pretty strong after that. 

Right before 3 miles, we stopped at the shelter along the trail, with a view of a grassy marsh section. Very pretty. All along the trail, we heard rustling in the leaves around us - little snakes skittering this way and that. There was also a lot of bird song, including some osprey calling overhead, plus the cackle of a Pileated Woodpecker as he flew over the trail. We were also serenaded by the roar of at least two dozen fighter jets as they soared out of the marine air base near Havelock. The noise was a bit incongruous with the quiet natural surroundings, and quite loud. 

Cooperhead Lodge shelter (Luckily, we didn't run into any copperheads! ;-0)

Around the 5 mile mark, we reached the edge of the Neuse River, with white sandy shoreline and cypress trees. The trail meandered on and off the beach. It was very cool. We even ran right next to an osprey nest at the edge of the water - the mama was in the nest and not very happy to have us there. Lots of bird prints and some raccoon tracks in the sand. 

Cypress swamp by the river

Running along the beach

Neuse River

Trail by the river edge

Snowman on a beach (see the osprey nest in the background?)

At 6.6 miles, we reached the terminus and turned around to repeat the trail back to the car. I felt strong and good and happy, but as we turned away from the river, things heated up. Ryan was feeling the heat by the time we got back to the car at 13.25 miles, but we still had a ways to go, so we stopped, refilled our water and he got ice for his hat and buff and we kept on chugging. Unfortunately, the stretch headed in the other direction was not as scenic, and much more exposed. It did, however, have about a dozen bogbridge sections to keep things interesting. Some of them even had names carved into them, like "Toad Wallow" or "Cottonmouth Spa." Someone out there had a sense of humor :-) 


Nice terrain, but kinda hot out there!

Ha!

Saw a few green geckos along the way, and one little dwarf iris in a swampy area, but otherwise, it was kind of grim. We just tried to keep moving. I was in much better shape than Ryan but getting tired and feeling the heat too in the last few miles. Looking at the Strava data, those final miles were certainly slow in comparison, but oh well, what can you do? We got in the distance, and it was a fun way to explore a different part of NC and get in a long run on the trails with Ryan!

Many thanks to Neenie and Pippi for hanging out with Sam all day while we were out exploring, and for letting us drive their car all over kingdom come! Looks like Sam had some fun too :-)

At the Arboreutum (see the dragon in the background?!)

Digging!

Making designs in the sand

Sam (by Neenie) and Annie (by Sam) :-)

Picking shells by the seashore

Fun at the beach!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1st at the Beach

Another busy day. Sam has been exhausting herself with all the activity, but try as we might, we couldn't convince her to skip the pool this morning. So, after a 4 mile run out and back along the berm with Ryan, we headed up to the pool for a short swim session before lunch. Then we loaded up the car and headed out to Wrightsville Beach. It's April 1st. It's NC. The thermometer was reading 74. Why not go to the beach?! Of course, down at the water the wind was whipping, and the water temperature was something ridiculous like 48 degrees. I had on as many layers as I could find in the car, and Sam kept saying she was freezing, but that didn't stop her (and us) from splashing along the water's edge, finding shells, doing a bit of digging and spending an hour+ on the beach. We took to running laps to warm up, but finally gave in and went to have an early dinner instead :-)

Building sand castles with Neenie

Digging with Daddy

Happy girl on the beach

Running along the water's edge

Brrr! The water is freezing!

Running to keep warm :-)

More running

Ahhh! It's cold out here!

Happy girl with her Neenie and Pippi