Monday, September 29, 2014

Indian Summer

Warm weekend for sure! Got out early enough yesterday that it was quite nice for a mellow run on the 6-mile Snowplug loop through the woods and along the Cathance, but it certainly got toasty later in the afternoon. Beautiful foliage out there right now. Passed by a woman perched on the edge of the rocky ledges along the Cathance, taking pictures of the floating leaves in the still water, but otherwise, no one else was out at 7:00 am on a Sunday ;)

Later in the morning, we headed to Rocky Ridge Orchard for apple picking. The whole world had decided it was apple picking day and with the high temps, we roasted a bit out in the fields. Didn't quite feel like apple picking weather, but it certainly was gorgeous out there!








Saturday, September 27, 2014

Running and Exploring

Got out this morning about 5:50 am. The sky was just beginning to lighten as I ran along the powerlines to Highland Green Road - it was a gorgeous deep reddish-orange along the horizon, but the camera didn't quite do the colors justice.

Sunrise, sunrise

From there, I hit the cart paths, enjoying the bright yellows, oranges and reds of the sugar maples, mixed in with the still-green oaks and conifers along the edge of the golf course. There was a thin layer of mist rising above the cotton sedge in the Heath.

Early morning light over the Heath

Back at the powerlines, I stopped to watch a Towhee jump around in the brush and take a photo of my favorite berries, turning from blush pink to deep purple.

Fall colors

It really was a lovely morning to be out as the sun was rising, alone on the gravel paths, sandy powerlines and pine needle-covered trails. I felt decent, although I had to stop twice to go to the bathroom - sheesh! - and my legs were definitely still feeling tired on the few hills out on the route. Still, a good 10.4 miles before breakfast!

After swimming, donuts and some playtime and party planning with Anne, we headed north so we could hit Oxbow for Ryan to fill up with their favorite fall brew. On the way, we stopped for a short walk up in Damariscotta at the Whaleback Shell Midden Historic Site. Very cool spot, where you could still see portions of the large oyster shell dumps created over many years by the Native Americans along the Damariscotta River. It was a pretty piece of property to wander around, and a lovely day to be out there.

"Come on, Mama! Let's run!"

Groovin' on the trails :)

Along the Damariscotta River

Nice place for a swing

Side trail past some of the oyster shell dumps. And yes, she is running :)

Purple asters


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mist and Fog

Driving past Mt. Ararat this morning, the low clouds looked pink, as the sun rose in the background behind the hillside. Then the glow lit up the entire sky. Later as Shannon and I ran on the trails through the woods, we could see the dense fog sitting atop the still green fields of Crystal Spring Farm. Sometimes it is hard to get out of bed in the morning, but on mornings like these, running on trails with friends, watching the sun and fog rise, it is worth it. There truly is a special beauty in the early morning run.

We ended up with 4.5 miles and the legs felt decent, although admittedly there were no hills to test the tiredness of the quads :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pisgah Results, Photos, and a Little Run

Got out this morning for a short run around the block. My quads were still a bit sore before I headed out, but otherwise my legs felt OK, so I figured I would test things out. Things loosened up as I shuffled along but most certainly my legs were tired. I actually wore, and used, my headlamp. Dark at 6:00 am. Guess it is really fall. Nice pink glow on the horizon as I crested the powerline hill by Mt. A. on the return. A pretty morning.

Pisgah results are up.

And here are a few photos:

Team TMR (minus Bob, who was probably off talking to someone. He knows everyone!)

Steep climb after the 8-mile aid station. Can you tell how drenched we are already?

Mustering a smile

Semi-smile at the finish at least :)

And a grimace of pain for this guy... I'd say that about sums it up!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pisgah 50k Race Report: In Which I Get Stung On The Tongue By A Flying Insect

So, yes, I really truly did have some sort of insect fly into my mouth and sting me on the edge of my tongue mid-race. It hurt. This was around mile 13. Luckily, Ryan was just a few steps ahead of me, and so he and another kind soul behind me stopped, calmed me down and made sure I was ok before we continued along the course. I am not sure if it was a bee or one of those flying ant things or what, but whatever it was, my tongue was rather tingly and numb and I was fairly freaked out, but luckily, my tongue did not swell up and I was able to continue. How's that for a race story?! :)

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 The plan going into the race was for Ryan, John and I to run together until around mile 20 then it was to be every runner for themselves. I was hoping to run around 5 hours or at least faster than 5:34, so it seemed like a fine idea to push a bit with the boys at the beginning and go for it. I believe I was already regretting this decision by mile 1, when I was feeling like I was drowning in the heavy air. It had rained on and off on our way across NH, and although the rain had stopped by start time and temperatures were moderate, it was incredibly humid.

 Still, I hoped I would get in a groove and so continued on, following John and Ryan as we ran through the woods. Bob Dunfey caught up with us a few miles in and we ran along, a merry band tromping through the forest. Somewhere around mile 5, Bob dropped back, saying the pace was just a bit too fast, and soon after, as the trail began its PUDtastic course through the pine forest, I dropped back a bit too. I simply wasn't feeling quite as strong as the boys and was beginning to question how the race would go. I went through mile 6 just as my watch beeped one hour, and leap-frogged with several folks on the way up and then down through the forest to the mile 8 aid station. I found Ryan waiting for me there. As we walked up the incredibly steep (who in their right mind thought this road was a good idea?!) paved road, he said he was already feeling badly, on top of feeling slightly disinterested and just not in the right frame of mind.

 The turn onto the Chestnut Trail did nothing to ease either of our woes. The trail is a mess of slippery roots making it fairly unrunnable. The heavy air hung in the woods. We grumbled and and walked, and ran when we could. It was nice to share the trail with Ryan, I just wish we had both been in better spirits and weren't questioning why we were out there. We do do this for fun, after all, but sometimes it really isn't "fun" in any sense of the word. And if I am struggling through 30 miles, why am I possibly thinking about running future longer races?! These are not thoughts to be thinking 10 miles into a 50k. We ran through the mile 12 aid station, and Ryan seemed to have a bit of a jump in energy; he pulled away slightly, only to be called back by my yelp of surprise and pain along a swampy section of trail by Lily Pond around mile 13 when that pesky flying insect mentioned earlier flew into my mouth and nipped my tongue. We walked for a bit before I determined that I was indeed OK and we continued on our journey, shaking our heads at how off this day was shaping up.

I felt a bit dreary after the water stop at mile 13.5. Last time around, I had no trouble grinding up the carriage road hill beyond, and here we were this time, walking, struggling. I was taking in nutrition just fine, but I was just plain feeling off. Still, I was determined to not totally wuss out on running some of the runnable terrain, so started to run and soon realized I didn't feel too badly. Ryan on the other hand was slowly deteriorating, his stomach causing him huge troubles. We had decided to run together, so I would run a ways then stop to make sure he was OK. I think this was draining for him, and finally around mile 15, after my stop allowed me enough time to move one of the little red newts I had seen off the trail and let about half a dozen runners by, he told me to just go on. I was conflicted in this, but I decided to follow his lead and took off for the mile 17 aid station. In the end, he caught up with me there while I was emptying my pockets of gel wrappers and drinking a few cups of coke, but stayed for a while longer, and told me to head up the mountain alone.

 The climb up the mountain is a lovely one, but it didn't quite feel that way during the race. It felt like a grind. I made it to the top and stopped to pee and take a gel. There was no view through the fog. I waited a few minutes, collecting myself and hoping that Ryan would make an appearance, but finally realized I had better stop feeling badly about the whole thing and just keep moving.

 As I neared the 20 mile aid station at the start of the Kilburn Loop, I noticed TMR drawn in the dirt, which brought a smile to my face. Ian, Emma and baby Iona were there cheering. When Ian asked me how I was doing, I told him it was a bit rough out there with the humidity making it extra tough today. He said something like, well, if you told me it was easy, I would think you weren't trying hard enough. And it's true, this is all self-inflicted, voluntary misery. I was choosing to do this to myself. I was lucky to spend a day in the woods, no matter how the day went. I thought of Amy, who so wanted to run this race and was instead laid up in bed on day 47 or so of bedrest after surgery. I might be thinking I was miserable but at least I was running.

 Ian asked how my fueling was going, and if I needed more water. I had been doing decently with my fueling until then, but I did wish I had packed more salt tabs. I could have used more. I was glad he had asked about water or I probably would have taken off without checking and I was almost out. He nicely helped me refill the bladder and after a few cups of coke, I took off with renewed energy down the Kilburn Loop. It is always nice to see friendly, caring faces out there. Thanks guys!

 I got a bit of a second wind on the Kilburn Loop, enjoying the downhill and not feeling like I was in too much of a timewarp out there :) Still, I was very glad to come to the junction where I knew I had only 0.6 miles back to the aid station. It was a bit depressing looking at my watch, seeing how long it had taken me to come this far, when I had hoped to already be done! But, nothing to do but move forward. I was able to run the road stretch to the parking lot but once back in the woods, had to walk a lot of the uphills. I tried to at least walk briskly and run the flats and downs. My legs were beginning to cramp a bit and I just wanted to get to that gate, knowing that from there, I was almost done. This stretch seemed to go on forever. I passed a few people regardless, which made me realize that of course, there were others out here suffering too. I hadn't gotten passed in a long while, but did get passed just before we popped out of the woods by a woman and her husband, flying along as if they were just out for a short jog. Grrr. I picked up the pace as much as I could on the gravel and then paved road in an attempt to catch back up, passing two people along the way, but they got too far ahead.

 I have never been so glad to see a stop sign in my whole life! Just one quick turn from there into the finish chute,and I was done. 6:19 and change. MUCH slower than I would have liked, but it was what I had to give. Managed to come in 6th female despite not having a great day, so I will gladly take that.

 John had a great race, coming in in 5:47 and feeling really good. Emma did awesome in the 23k, coming in 10th woman, just months after having a baby - impressive! And Ryan, despite his setbacks, managed to tough it out on what was definitely not his day and finish just under 7:00. I am proud of him for that. It is easy to give up when it isn't going your way so to gut it out when you have to sit at an aid station for 25 minutes to revive yourself shows how strong you are. Sometimes it is the races like this that show us what we are made of, or at least show us that we can achieve more than we think we can. It can't be all beer and Skittles out there :) I do so wish I had run faster (1st woman ran like 5:55! Sheesh! I so wish I had had it in me to run faster than that!!!!) but I didn't. Still, there are lessons to be learned from this one as there are from any race, and I will chalk it up in the end to good time on my feet and mental training, and hope that the next race I run won't be on a 98% humidity day and I won't get stung on my tongue mid-race :)

 In the end, Pisgah is really a great race put on by great people. It has a fun laid back atmosphere, takes runners on a challenging and hilly course, and offers up some good food and fun times with friends at the finish line. Many thanks to the race directors, who are stepping down after this year, and to all the volunteers who make this race what it is!

 Many thanks too to Ryan's parents for hanging out with Sam all day. She had a great time and we so appreciate that!
 
Out on the farm picking pumpkins with Grammie and Grampie

Take Aways/Notes to Self:

1. I really should run my own race. While it was all well and good to say I'd run with Ryan and John, I felt slightly stressed at the beginning wanting to keep up and then sort of deflated when I realized I couldn't keep their pace. And while it was great to share miles 8 through 15 with Ryan, obviously, it was making him feel badly that I was waiting so he sent me on. Company can be a really good thing but sometimes you just have to focus on yourself.

2. Nutrition was good through mile 20. I took in 8 gels in that time period, so basically "on schedule" (every 30 minutes or so). Not so good the rest of the way as I only took in one gel and a handful of dried strawberries, plus 2 cups of coke at miles 17, 20 and 25. Need to work on pushing that nutrition in a bit more! On the upside, I did not have any stomach issues so what I did worked but still need to focus on continuing the intake in the later miles.

3. Should have had more salt tabs! I really could have used them as it was so humid and I was soaked soaked soaked! This would likely have helped in the final miles. I think I was being too hopeful with my time and hoping it would be a wonderful crisp fall day :) Gotta plan for the unexpected!

4. I really need to do more hill training, but perhaps more so for the downhill pounding. My quads are fairly sore today.

5. Despite the humidity and being soaked through for most of the race, I had no chafing issues. Perhaps I have finally mastered applying enough BodyGlide! :)

6. I wore my calf compression sleeves by CEP and really liked wearing them. Even in the humidity, they didn't bother me and I definitely think they helped stave off some cramping in the final miles. I will wear them again for races, for sure.

7. I never drink coke in real life, but it really works for me in races. I will continue a coke regiment in future races. On the other hand, oreos do not work for me.

8. Keep moving. It might be painful but you signed up for the torture by choice, and you'll be glad you stuck it out and finished.

9. Try to keep your mouth closed while running. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Frost

Only 37 degrees on the thermometer this morning. Brrr. I suited up on tights and long sleeves for one last run around the neighborhood before Pisgah tomorrow. Hard to believe the weather is saying it will be warm and humid in Chesterfield tomorrow! I'm hoping it's more like it was this morning but it will be what it will be, and we'll do what we can with it.

Last night Ryan was asking my plans for the race. I don't quite know, to be honest. I want to put forth a good effort and ideally would love to run around 5 hours but this is a hilly course, I've had a cold this week and it's supposed to be warm. Who knows how it will play out. The big goal is to beat my last time on the course -  5:34. I feel this is doable as I have many more miles and ultras under my belt now, but then again I haven't been training to be fast the past few years :) Ah well, Whatever happens, it will be a fun day in the woods!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cold

Got a bit of a sniffy, snuffly, dry throat cold here. Inevitable probably, what with Sam's continual dripping faucet the past few weeks, new germs coming home from school, and tapering. Oh well. I'll just go with what I've got at Pisgah on Sunday and hopefully will feel a bit better by then. I did decide that I would get up and go out for a short run anyway this morning, just to loosen things up and stretch things out.

I headed out around 6:15 on the powerlines, watching the horizon as the sky changed and brightened. A thin fog hung low just above the brush, the crescent moon still hung in the air and the spiderwebs were highlighted with dew against the deep gold, burnt reds and dark greens. The ferns smelled sweet, and my shadow stretched out ahead of me on the return trip as the golden light rose above the trees. Ah, fall. Such the perfect time of year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Drizzle

I was up early to run with Shannon, but she decided (rightly so) that it would be better to stay in bed than be out running in the semi-darkness and the rain. Still, I was dressed and had both eaten and stretched, so I figured I might as well get in a few miles. With Pisgah on the calendar on Sunday, there was no need for 6 miles except if it was with a friend, so I settled on a short 3-miler around the block. It was drizzling slightly, and I was very glad for a well-placed port-a-potty at mile 1. The sky lightened as I ran along but not a lot of color out there this morning.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Head of Tides

I really should run with people who make me push the pace a bit more often. Then maybe I'd be more prone to do that on my own more often too :) Ran out to Head of Tides this afternoon with John. Totally unexpected, but he was driving Ryan home from course marking at the Brad and planning to get in his own run when Ryan had told him I might like company on my run. Well, sure. A quick change and a few exercises and we were off. I haven't run with John in quite a while, and it was fun to catch up as we ran along. Probably the fastest I've run the "new" trail section out to Head of Tides and back (well, at least out to Cathance Road, where we turned around since we were already over the mileage I was looking for). Nice, relatively cool but damp day out in the woods. Got in 9 miles in 1:30, so pretty decent pace for me out there.

While we were running, Ryan and Sam drove over to Head of Tides thinking they might see us while out on their own trail adventure. We probably missed them by a few minutes, but drove back over there after the run to sit on the steps and eat a snack and watch the tide rise.

Out exploring

Nature tracking

Watching the water swirl and rise

Along with running and walking, we also went to swim lessons this morning and Sam helped me bake seven (yes, 7 - well, 6 for the race and 1 for us :) ) banana breads before lunchtime. It's been a busy day!

Official TMR bakers :-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Early Morning Ten

With Ryan doing Bruiser course marking tomorrow and all of us at the race on Sunday, I knew it would probably be tough to get in my miles this weekend. Luckily, with Pisgah next weekend, the miles were few enough that I figured if I really worked at it, I could get 10 in before work this morning and 8 before Ryan heads out tomorrow morning for the Brad. I was up at 5:00 and out the door just as the sky was getting light. It was cool enough that I was happy to be wearing long sleeves, especially when the breeze kicked up.

I ran the cart paths with a few modifications, skipping holes 1 and 2, and cutting across the bottom of the Heath between holes 4 and 5 so that I could take in the view across the marsh in the early morning light. Then it was onto the powerlines to run the Lover's Lane snowmobile loop. A deer bounded gracefully across the trail a few feet in front of me, her white tail high in the air. I turned to watch her as she stopped off in the woods and silently looked back at me.

Past Pelletier's Pond, filled with water lilies and lined with goldenrod and purple asters, the moon, still high in the sky, reflecting in the water.

Ended up with 10.3 miles and done just as Sam was getting up for the day. Perfect.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Click...

I do so love this time of year but the loss of light takes some getting used to, and I'm still wrapping my brain around heading out for a morning run in the dark with a headlamp atop my head. So this morning, I dilly dallied until around 6:00 am before heading out, which meant a shorter run in the end, but still a lovely one.

I wish I had a good enough camera to capture the beauty of running as the sun rises on an early autumn morning.

Click...
By the quarry, a hint of the glowing orange sun was rising above the trees, the clouds an array of pink, gold and periwinkle blue.

Click...
Along the bog bridges at the bottom of the Heath, the sun was casting a golden glow across the tops of the cotton sedge and the deepening autumn hues of the marsh grasses.

Click...
Running down the cart path, I spotted a big doe sauntered across the green, then turned and ran, white tail high, as she heard the crunch of my feet against the gravel.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Long Sleeves!

47 degrees this morning! Cold enough for long sleeves in my book :-) Ah, nothing like the cool mornings of early fall. Met up with Shannon for a run along the BTLT trails. The trails were dappled with early morning sunlight and the fields were wet with dew. Nice to catch up on running and kids as we ran along. Got in 5.5 miles as a good start to the day.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Run at the Brad

Met up with Xar, Mindy, Val and Rick this morning at Bradbury to join them on the first 10 miles of Xar and Val's UXBA run. It was a bright and sunny morning with blue sky above and relatively cool temps. We set off with Val and Piper in the lead to run the Scuffle course. It was fun to catch up with everyone as we ran along. We played leapfrog with a group of bikers, and heard Jamie calling out to us from the BBU course as we ran down the Snowmobile trail, but otherwise the trails were relatively quiet. After a brief stop back at the parking lot, we headed out onto the Breaker course. I felt pretty strong on the hills but my legs were definitely feeling a bit tired by the time we made the final push to the summit before descending on the Switchback trail. I was happy to call it a day with 10.2 miles, and to meet up with Sam and Ryan for a donut as a post-run snack :-)

Xar went on to run not only the UXBA but a few extra miles to get in over 34 miles for the day - impressive!!! Fun to run with everyone on a beautiful Sunday morning! Thanks for letting me tag along, guys!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bradbury Hike

After a mellow morning, Sam and I headed over to Bradbury in the hopes that we might be able to meet up with Ryan for lunch after his run. After a bit of a debate, Sam had agreed that hiking sounded like fun, and although it was hot and humid, we were hiking at her pace so it wasn't all that bad out there for me :)

We headed up through the quarry, connected to the Switchback trail and then took a nice snack break on the summit, where we had a good view and there was a bit of a breeze. We took the Terrace Trail on the way down, where Sam practiced her trail running. She is getting pretty good!

We didn't get to eat lunch with Ryan - the run took much longer than expected - but we did get in a good hike!




... mini Trail Monster in the making... running the Terrace Trail...
video



Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday 20

Ryan is planning on an UXBA run tomorrow so I knew that I would need to get in my long run another day, and luckily with three full days of work plus the holiday I had all the hours I needed for this week. Which meant I could take today off. Hurray! I also knew it was supposed to get hot today, so I got up early (again) and was out the door by 6:20. As I ran up to the top of the powerline hill beyond the high school, the sky was awash in a rosy pink glow, and beyond, the morning mist was rising above the brush. The blush pink berries on the bushes are beginning to turn a deep purply blue, and set against the sky, they really were just gorgeous. I do love running at this time of day.

I ran the cart paths first so I could get off them before the golfers arrived, and then ran up and over Mt. A., stopping in the middle of the hill to pick a few deliciously ripe blackberries off the brambles at the edge of the road. Yum. Temps were fairly cool but it was humid. I had to turn my hat around after only a few miles as sweat was already dripping off the rim. I was glad I had started early.

I took the trail around the Heath and down to the river, wandering the water's edge and then up to the overgrown raspberry bramble/goldenrod-filled field. From there I headed out to Head of Tides, enjoying the quiet woods and the mellow path that winds through the birches. Saw a lot of tall white mushrooms today out there.

Out at Head of Tides, I stopped briefly to text Ryan and let him know my progress and to spend a minute looking out at the water. A belted kingfisher flew low across the water just before I turned around to head back. Instead of heading up the dirt hill to the back dirt road, I took the small new trail off to the right that I had noticed on Monday's run. Nothing fancy and dropped me back out on one of the trails I knew, but it's always fun to have a new trail to run on :)

I took a brief stop at the stairs by the ecology center to have a snack before setting off for the last leg of the run, which took me out on the powerlines, running the Lover's Lane snowmobile trail loop. My legs were beginning to tire and I was starting to feel the heat creep in, but my mind was clear. I ended up with 20.5 miles in around 3:40 including stops.

I was completely soaked by the time I was done, so after a few minutes I hopped into the shower and got into dry clothes. By then I was hungry, so I had something to eat and did a few chores around the house before stopping to get a sundae (What? Ice cream is a good recovery food, right? It has fat and calcium and protein... Right?),  and then coffees for Amy and I. I hadn't seen Amy in a few weeks, so it was nice to spent a few hours with her, catching up, before heading home to pick Sam up at school.

After dismissal, we walked down the hall to look at everyone's portraits and Sam showed me around her classroom. It was nice to have another chance to look around the room, so I could envision her spending her days there. She is completely exhausted, but does seem to really be liking school, so we will call it a successful first week of Kindergarten!

Sam's portrait