Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bike Path x 2

Yesterday afternoon after a lot of running around doing errands, getting groceries, doing laundry and in general getting things back into order after being away, Snowman and I headed over to the bike path for a mellow 3 mile run. It was sunny and pretty warm, and we moseyed along, chatting away. The path was filled with people running, walking and roller blading on a nice afternoon.

What a difference 16 hours makes! I woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground, and as I was heading out to run, the snow started up again. I had intended to run Raymond Road, but with the snow coming down and the roads looking a little iffy, I decided to play it safe and headed to the bike path instead. I ran along, snowflakes hitting my eyelashes and snow crunching under my feet, the only one out on the path. There were several sections of black ice hidden under the snow, but the screw shoes did their job and I stayed upright.

With three runs on the path within 8 days, it's official, winter - and bike path season - is here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It was a fun Christmas week of visiting with family - and nice to be able to celebrate both with Snowman's family in MA and mine in NC, but it is always good to be home...

Here are a few highlights from our travels.

Snowman's special Javatinis:






Too many Javatinis may lead to this... :-)


Down south:




On the golf course:

My mom, the flag girl for the day


Dad on the 18th green


Snowman taking his first shot of the day


Pondering the next shot


And me, sporting my snazzy Bradbury Breaker t-shirt.

And a small token shot from the great birding I did while out running and walking, a Great Blue Heron on the lawn:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Foggy Run

Another good night's sleep. Slept in until after 8am. I'm either tired or just taking advantage of the fact that I do not have a crazy purring cat licking my face bright and early in the morning!

As this week's running log has been looking pretty slim, I wanted to at least get in an hour-long run today. Last night, we looked at the map of my parent's development and picked out a route. The streets have a way of looking very similar, and as I do not have a great sense of direction, I'm convinced both Snowman and my dad figured I'd be calling them on the cellphone partway through the run asking them if they could help me figure out where I was and how the hell I could get back to their house! However, I am happy to report that I got through the proposed route with only one mis-turn toward the end, which dropped me out on a road I recognized. I was then able to simply re-route my final mile and get home fine.

The morning was a foggy one, and heavy too. I took off in short and t-shirt, with my fashionable pink sleeves on my arms. I was wearing Snowman's fuel belt (we had only brought one, assuming we'd be running one longer run together), and it was way too big. It was bouncing up and down on my waist and hips for the first 30 minutes, until I was warm enough to take off my sleeves and wrap them around the belt, adding just the right additional padding to keep the darn thing from moving around so much.

The run went well. I felt much more "myself" today - didn't feel quite as sluggish and tight as I did during yesterday's run. The streets were quiet, and the route took me on a 1-mile wooded path mid-way through the run, which was nice. Saw several robins, mockingbirds, a cardinal, four bluebirds and a few juncos along the way. Also caught sight of the Shrike and the Meadowlarks in the field next to my parent's house.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Running, Walking and Birding

This morning, after a good night's sleep, Snowman and I headed out for a quick run before their tee-time. Unfortunately, Snowman made it about two steps before he turned around. His calf wasn't feeling any better, so he wished me a good run and headed back inside. It was around 48 degrees, overcast and a bit windy. All in all, pretty nice weather considering the last time I ran it was 5 degrees out!

I headed down the quiet streets, and took a path my parents had shown us yesterday afternoon during a short walk. The path ran along the edge of the development's property, through the woods and along several of the many ponds. It was nice to be out running, but I felt a bit sluggish and tight. Too much sitting and eating and not moving! During the run, I flushed up six bluebirds, along with sighting two great blue heron and many canadian geese. When I got back to my parent's house, I flushed up four meadowlarks as I slowly walked to the back to take in a better view of the Loggerhead Shrike that was sitting on one of the small trees at the edge of their yard. Pretty good birding for 35 minutes out and about!

My mom and I then joined Snowman and my dad for their first 9 holes of golf. I was much happier walking along, enjoying the scenery and the birds, than attempting to play what has to be the most frustrating game on earth! Noted a dozen cormorants roosting in a dead tree by one of the ponds, as well as several other bluebirds, many mockingbirds and a few blue jays. A red-shouldered hawk was a good spot by my dad, and the highlight for me was seeing a pair of ruby-crowned kinglets. Beautiful little birds! Also saw several Fox Squirrels along the course. What funny looking creatures :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!



"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
-Dr. Seuss

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

After celebrating Christmas a day early with Snowman's family yesterday, this morning we're off to North Carolina. Assuming we get through the traveling bit OK (as you might remember, I am not all that fond of flying), we plan to enjoy a few quiet and warm days down south with my parents. Should be fun!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Cold Out There!

After yesterday's "lazy day" of shoveling, house cleaning, organizing, getting ready for our travels over Christmas and no running or skiing, I really wanted to get out there this morning. But man, it was cold out! 5 degrees when I headed out the door a little after 7am. I headed for the bike path, figuring with all the snow, that it would be a bit safer to be on the bike path instead of dodging snow piles and cars. There were no other cars in the parking lot when I arrived. What? You mean, this isn't a good morning for running?!

I ran along, the cold and dry snow crunching beneath my feet. The sun was slowly poking its head up over the trees on the horizon, and the river was jammed with ice. It took me until around 1.5 miles to finally warm up and feel my hands. Brrr... But it felt good to get out and run!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Winter has truly arrived. We are in the midst of yet another snowstorm, and I got in my first ski of the season this morning!

I joined Nate, Shannon and little Finley for a trip to Pinelands. As we drove the backroads to New Gloucester, the trees were covered with snow and it looked very pretty. However, as soon as we were all geared up and Finley had on a million and one layers, the wind picked up, snow was falling and boy, was it chilly! It was the inaugural test of the Nordic Chariot, and well, let's just say it didn't go so well. Finley wouldn't wear his mittens, he was unhappy to be out in the cold and he sure didn't want to be strapped into this contraption! Poor kiddo. Hopefully next time will go a bit more smoothly!

Shannon took Finley inside, and Nate decided to go for a short spin down towards the river before going inside to look in on them. I was freezing and wanted to be out of the wind, and so I headed out across the street to Oak Hill, into the woods. Once I hit the shelter of the trees, I finally warmed up. The trails were in good shape, although with no tracks. I only passed two other people while I was out there, and enjoyed gliding along on the quiet trails now covered in a dusting of snow. As I skied along, I realized the snow was falling pretty hard, and when I headed back to the outdoor center I could hardly tell where the trail was. I kept going off course, sinking into the soft snow in the fields. When I looked in the bathroom mirror after I got in the building, I realized I was encrusted in snow and ice. What a morning!

Friday, December 19, 2008

End of the Week

Another cold morning. 15 degrees. Brrr! I headed out to do the Raymond Road loop around 7:00am. A soft, early morning light was hitting the trees along the Pleasant Hill Road, and the grasses were covered in frost. Very pretty. The run itself was uneventful, and was a nice way to round out the week.

In other news, on the way home from my run, I was listening to NPR and they mentioned a new fragrance had come on the market. It is called "Flame" and if you just can't resist the smell of flame-broiled meat, this is the fragrance for you! Don't know that it would do it for me, but it appears there are enough people out there who just can't get enough of the fast-food burger smell... If you know anyone who fits this description, now you know what you can get them for their stocking stuffer present this year! Yummmm, meat...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunrise Run

What a difference a few days make! We are now squarely back into winter. Yesterday brought a few inches of snow, which is now covering the ground, making things look nice and festive. The storm also heralded in some colder temps.

I got up a bit early to do my core exercises (note to self: must do these more often!), and once the exercises were done, I decided to head on out. I ran across the street, and headed up the powerlines. As I crested the first hill, the sky was still dark, but hints of pink and orange were showing low along the horizon. It was 6:45 am and 12 degrees.

The 2" of snow on the powerlines was just enough to make things interesting. It was strange to sink through the snow into soft sand, and in the next step onto ice. But the Inov-8 screw shoes gripped well and I had no troubles. Once I turned off onto Highland Green Road, I was on pavement. The sidewalks had been plowed but there was still a coating of snow on them. I ran along, surprised to encounter a pair of runners out with their dog. I had expected to be the only crazy one out! :-) The snow made for some fun viewing of animal tracks - a big swath of turkey tracks, as well as deer and what was perhaps a fox? or raccoon?

At the back of the development, I was treated to a view of the sunrise. The sky had lightened and the colors were fiery. Here, the road turns to dirt, and as I headed up the hill, into the woods, the brilliant colors showing through the leaf-less trees, breathing in the cold and crisp air, I had to smile. What a way to start off the morning!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Record High Temps

We're sitting on the couch, watching the Weather Channel, which indicated that today's high temps of 52 degrees set a record high for Brunswick, breaking the previous record set back in 1975. Crazy.

We finally got in a 3-mile run in the Commons at 4pm, after a day of Christmas shopping and errands, and the sun was already setting. The woods were dark, and the trails were squishy. The inches of frozen slush on the ground had melted into lots of very cold puddles and had created a nice slippery layer on top of the leaves. But I was pleased to find my legs felt good as we ran along. I am also happy to say that we are now officially finished with the holiday shopping and I am also done writing Christmas cards. Hurray! Now I just have to do the wrapping...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Do We Do This?

That was the question we asked ourselves upon finishing our 15-mile run this afternoon. I mean, we are no longer training for a marathon. The Pineland Trail Challenge 50k is far away. Our next upcoming race is the Classic 10-Miler. So, why were we running 15? Well, why not? I mean, it's better than sitting on the couch, isn't it? If you remove the fact that my right leg was begging for mercy about halfway through (silly ITB! Hopefully Shannon will be able to do some more massage magic on the leg tomorrow!), and Snowman was commenting throughout the run that he might throw up the oatmeal he ate for breakfast (I don't know that a huge bowl of oatmeal was the wisest pre-run choice!), then 15 miles/2:16 of exercise is good for you! Oh yes, and we're planning on running 3 laps (18.6 miles) of the GAC Fat Ass race on January 10. So, there we are.

We didn't quite get the early start I was hoping for, and finally headed out from the field house around 12:30. Snowman was nice enough to join me on a road run this time, as I was feeling a bit wussy and didn't want to run 15 miles on the trails today. We headed out down Rt. 123 toward Pennelville. The Pennelville fields were covered with a frosty layer of snow and ice, and the trees were still encrusted in ice. Their branches shimmered in the sun, and every once in a while let loose a smattering of ice pellets down onto the ground below. We heard a number of generators humming out on the quiet roads, a sure sign that all power has not yet been restored to some of these outlying roads. We took the road down to Simpson's Point, and took a moment to enjoy the view of the water.

The route wound us out and around, down to Maquoit Bay. The wind was whipping off the ocean and it was quite cold, especially because by that point we were about 8 miles into the run and had worked up a sweat. We had the option to cut off a few miles soon after, and as neither of us were feeling perfectly perky, perhaps it would have been the best option. But, as neither of us wanted to be the one to give in, we kept on going :-) The final miles were a bit of a grind, but all told, despite our complaining, it was a good run and I was glad we got out. It also certainly meant that I deserved the yummy oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies that I just ate!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Crispy

The storm cleared out around 3pm yesterday, bringing with it a cold front. For those without power, I hope you've found a place to stay warm! I know our place wouldn't hold up to 19 degree weather for long without heat.

I awoke this morning and headed out to the Commons for a 5-mile run before work. I put on my Inov-8 screw shoes, and figured they would really get a good test today as there was an inch or two of crispy, frozen, granular packed ice and junk on the ground. As I headed out from the field house, the full moon was still shining brightly in the sky, while to the east the sun was rising above the treetops. The trees shimmered, their ice-covered limbs reflecting the light. Beautiful.

However, seeing all these trees covered in ice also meant there were a lot of downed limbs and bent trees in the woods. The pine boughs snap and break; the poor whispy and delicate birches get bent to the ground. So sad. It also made the route through the Commons a bit of an obstacle course! I was very happy to have the screw shoes, as I felt secure chugging along, my feet digging into the granular and gripping on the icy crust. Despite that, as with any running done in the snow (or on the sand), the going was a bit tough and I had to put in a bit more effort than I would have liked. This was reflected in the extra time it took me to run the out-and-back route today.

That being said, it was nice to be out in the cold, crisp air, enjoying the quiet of the morning woods, which was broken only by the falling of icicles from the trees above, and the crunch of the snow and ice beneath my feet.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New England Weather

I am currently sitting on the couch, writing holiday cards. Yo, ho, sending Christmas cards! :-) And outside, we are in the midst of a nasty storm. Everything from lots of ice to rain to slop and maybe a bit of snow. Ugh. Definitely a day to stay inside. No running today, that's for sure.

I did get out for a run in the Commons yesterday morning. As it had gotten cold after all the rain we received on Wednesday, I chose to wear my Inov-8 screw shoes. Things were a little crispy out in the woods, but nothing bad, so I didn't really need the screw shoes. Oh well. However, I am 100% positive that they will be of use on tomorrow morning's run, as the few inches of muck currently on the ground is bound to freeze up solid and make things interesting as the temps fall into the teens tonight!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Drowned Rat

...that is how I felt today during my run. And it is all my fault. Last night I made screw shoes out of both my road and trail shoes, and was looking forward to trying them out on this morning's run. And what did the weather gods throw at us today? 50 degree temps, rain and wind. Enough to melt all the snow and render the screw shoes a useless item. So, I had to dig out an old pair of road shoes to wear. Ah well...

I headed across the street to do the 5-mile Highland Green road loop under a dark and stormy sky at 7am. The wind was howling. When it was gusting at my back, pushing me along, it was great. I was flying! But then, on the return, I could barely move forward. The rain was pelting me in the face. I was soaked. Despite all that, I did feel pretty good. Shannon worked on my right leg on Sunday night, and although she was shocked at how tight my IT band was, the work did seem to loosen things up. Definitely felt better. Thanks Shannon!

Despite the warm temps, it is December, and with that, what do we have in store for tomorrow? wunderground.com is calling for ice pellets and snow. As they say here in Maine, if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes. It will change. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am so not handy!

The website said anyone could make screw shoes. And well, technically, I suppose that's true. I did make 2 pairs of screw shoes. However, the site did not tell you that things would be much more complicated if the batteries in your drill were not fully charged, and if you are just not good with tools. The past hour and a half involved a fair amount of swearing, but thank goodness, in the end, did yield me some screw shoes! Meanwhile, Ronnie the cat looked on lazily, wondering what the hell the humans were up to...

Here is the evidence:









In other news, Snowman and I got in a nice mellow 3-mile run yesterday afternoon in the Commons, and this morning I slept in. A test run for the road pair of screw shoes is on tap for tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for the review.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snowy 12

Snowman and I met up with Mindy and Tim at Pinelands for a nice run this morning. The ground was blanketed with a dusting of snow and flakes were falling throughout our tour of the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge course (minus the fields). As is to be expected this time of year, the ground was a mix of slippery grass, frozen mud, crusty sand, ice, and all of the above covered with snow. Amazingly none of us took a spill, but it did remind me that it really is time to make my Inov-8s into screw shoes! Perhaps that will be my project for tomorrow...

Mindy and Tim joined us for 8 miles, and then Snowman and I headed across the street to do an additional 4.5 or so to get in our planned 12 miles for the day. I was feeling pretty tired during those last miles, but overall it was a good run, with great company and some fun conversations. We then consumed at least as many calories as we expended during our run at Stone's Cafe. Yummmm... chocolate chip pancakes :-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Raymond Road Run

I was lazy yesterday and didn't get out of bed in time to get in a run before I had to be at work for an early meeting. I suppose these are the times when a treadmill would be useful, as I couldn't quite convince myself to get out for an after-work, in the dark, evening run either. Oh well.

To make up for yesterday's missed run, I decided to get in a longer run this morning. I headed out a little after 7am from the field house to do the Raymond Road loop. The sun was still low on the horizon and most of my run was spent down in the shadows. I was reminded, however, of how much I like the stretch in this run along Pleasant Hill Road, as when I crested the hill by Crystal Spring Farms, the early morning sun was bathing the fields in soft light. A flock of starlings flew up from the fields in a big cloud, cascading back down on the bare branches of one of the oak trees at the edge of the pasture. A small bush of red winterberries shone in the sunlight. A beautiful morning.

Temps were in the low 30s, so it was quite pleasant out, and it wasn't terribly windy. The only bad part of the run was that on several occasions I was passed by short convoys of dump-type trucks, which kicked up sand and dust and grit into my face. ugh. Ah, road running :-)

I felt like I was working throughout the run, but finished off the 8-mile loop in the pretty quick (for me!) time of 1:05. That may have been why it felt like work! My right calf/IT band is very tight, however. I think it might be time to see if our friend Shannon can do a bit of massaging magic on that leg!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yes!

I've been reading "Yes Man," lent to me by my boss. It's a pretty funny story actually, full of ridiculous adventures as the main character takes on the challenge to say "yes" to any and all direct questions posed to him. Saying "yes" to everything is of course taking things a bit too far, but the idea is a solid one. Always a good idea to be reminded that one should think positively about life and its possibilities.

On a running note, I got up early and went to the Commons for a nice 5-mile run. The woods were quiet and the sun was shining. The ice on the ponds is beginning to look a bit more permanent, and the mallards in the second pond were all flocked together in one of the inlets. My legs felt a bit stiff, but they loosened up after a mile or so and the run finished well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

1000 Miles

Forgot to mention that about 2 miles into our Bradbury run yesterday, I hit 1000 miles for 2008. Now, I know that for some of our ultrarunning friends, 1000 miles probably isn't much, but it's pretty exciting for me. I know I haven't hit 1000 miles in the past 10 years. Maybe even more than that. I'd have to dig out the old training logs, which are currently buried in the attic, to find out for sure. But regardless, the fact remains that this has been one of my most solid running years in a long time. Woohoo! And still a month to go :-)

Today was a quiet day. We awoke rather late to a dusting of snow on the ground, with a light mist falling. I was feeling a bit sore from yesterday's run, especially in the ankles. I'm sure that doesn't surprise Chuck, who ran behind me for several miles and saw how many times I put my feet down with a twist to the ankles! After a morning spent sitting around, doing a few chores and watching Snowman swear at the TV as he tried to install and get the new HD cable box working, we finally got out for a short run around 3pm. We headed to the Commons for a mellow 3 mile run. Rather uneventful, except for the snow and slush covered ground. Time for screw shoes!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Muddy Bradbury Run

Snowman and I met up with Ian and Chuck this morning for a nice run at Bradbury. It was a bit chilly as we headed out to do one loop of the Breaker course. The trails, after all the rain we'd had, were a bit mushy and wet, not to mention icy and muddy. What's not to love?! As usual, I was slow on the way down the South Ridge Trail and Ian commented that we must value our bodies too much, instead of going all out on the downhills. Yup, no crazy all-out downhills for me... definitely something I should work on, I guess!

The rest of the run was spent on the east side. I always like winding through the trees over on these trails. Wheeee! The woods were quiet, as the trails were closed to bikers due to all the mud and muck. The ground was an interesting consistency, slightly frozen on the top and then wet, icy mud beneath. Needless to say, I finished the run with very wet feet!

It was a nice 11 miles, and fun to chat with Ian and Chuck. Even better, when we got home, we cooked up a huge breakfast. Yum!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Frosty Morning

Headed across the street this morning for a 5-mile run. With all the rain we had yesterday, there was a thin layer of ice on the pavement, making things a bit slick, and the grasses were all frosted over, shimmering in the early morning sun. The Highland Green loop was quiet. It seemed as if no one else had made their way out of the warm comforts of bed yet. I was feeling a little creaky, with my right leg pretty tight. But the run went by quickly and it was good to get out.

I really need to get ready to go to work, but I've been sucked in by Facebook. I'm new to this whole thing, and have to admit to thinking it was a bit bizarre before I joined, but it is pretty interesting and neat to see how many friends, new and old, you can connect with out there through their network. Anyway, as our friend Janet said recently, "Welcome to Procrastinationland!" and that is exactly what it is... but in a fun way :-)

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm So Full

I am still feeling full from our big Thanksgiving feast. Of course, that feeling might be because I had apple pie for breakfast! :-) But why not, it is Thanksgiving after all? Of course, on our way to Boston, Snowman and I heard on NPR that the first Thanksgiving dinners likely involved not only some sort of beer, but lobster and deer meat. So much for turkey being the traditional Thanksgiving meat! Bring on the lobster :-)

No run for me today, as it is pouring down rain and around 40 degrees. Oh yes, and not to mention I am working this afternoon. Ah well. Hopefully the rain will clear out tonight, so I can get a run in tomorrow morning before work without getting soaked!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Eat Pie Now!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone :-)

We started off this morning by getting up at 6am in preparation for the 8:30 start of the Feaster Five race. Wait, isn't this supposed to be a holiday?!

Chris, Meghan's husband, was the one who lost out on the deal, as he was our driver. Meghan, Ryan and I got our packets, hit the port-a-potties, went for a quick warm-up run, hit the port-a-potties again, and then wound our way into the mass of humanity that was joining us in the 21st run of the Feaster Five. There were 8000 runners (there was a 5k option too)! Wow. Never run with that many people before. It was a bit nuts! But it was a good day for it. Low 30s, sunny and only a slight breeze. I wussed out and wore tights, instead of my shorts, but was pretty comfortable throughout. I also proudly wore my Trail Monster Running singlet over my long sleeve shirt. Woohoo! :-)

With so many people racing, it took me a while to get over the starting line and then I did the wonderful bob and weave through the mass of runners. The first mile was uphill and seemed hard for the pace I was running. Yikes. But as the route mellowed out a bit, I settled into a good pace and just prayed I could keep it up! The race wound through the residential neighborhoods of Andover, Massachusetts, so there were lots of turns along the way. Other than the first hill, the course wasn't all that memorable, but was a fair one. The last 200 meters were also an uphill which was a little mean, but then I was done!

Official results put me at #271 of #2606; 10 of 366 in my age group; and with a finishing time of 36:18, which was 7:19 pace. I was pretty happy about that, especially considering I didn't do any speed work. Ryan smoked it and came in 104th at 32:52, while Meghan in her first running race ever, came in at 49:25. She's already talking about doing a half marathon in 2009. She's hooked! :-)

The cool thing about this race is that participants get a 10" Table Talk Apple Pie. What could be a better Thanksgiving Day prize? So along with the two homemade apple pies and the pumpkin pie we made last night, we have three, count 'em three, Table Talk Pies to eat too. Time to get to it! :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Meh

"Meh." Funny addition to the dictionary, I think, but I'd say it sums up how I was feeling about going running this afternoon. I had the day off, but Snowman was working. I knew I should get out for a run, for a myriad of reasons: 1) It was in the 30s and actually feeling sort of warm outside! Plus the wind seemed to have died down a bit. 2) I had already spent the morning and early afternoon cleaning the house, organizing some things, doing errands and a bit of Christmas shopping. In my mind, there is a limit on how much time should be spent on household chores, and I'd done my share for the day. 3) It is supposed to rain all day tomorrow. 4) I wanted to take tomorrow off to rest up a bit for the Feaster Five. But despite all these reasons, I wasn't feeling enthused. Oh well, time to go anyway.

I headed across the street to do the lollypop loop in Highland Green that Snowman had run last week. It was a nice mix of powerlines, pavement and packed dirt roads. I plodded along, lost in thought, and although I didn't feel great, I ended up with a decent time for the 5 mile loop, and as is always the case, was glad I got out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Windy Morning at Bradbury

Although the thermometer was telling me it was warmer this morning than yesterday and the sun was shining, the wind made it feel oh, so cold! I finally dragged Snowman out of the house around 10:30 and we headed to Bradbury for an hour-long run. We headed onto the east side trails and turned left onto the Lanzo single-track. I probably set the pace at a bit faster than intended, but I was just trying to warm up as we zig zagged through the trees! Despite the fact that we were in the woods, the wind was whipping around, making my eyes tear up and my nose run. The ground was packed solid, without a lot of hoar frost, but with a healthy smattering of frozen mud puddles rutted out by mountain bikes. I felt good throughout the run, although my ankles were definitely feeling the affects of yesterday combined with the inconsistent frozen ground. Tomorrow I'll be doing a road run to give them a little rest!

The plan for this afternoon is to head to the theater to see the new James Bond movie. Sounds good to me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cathance River Preserve Run

Snowman and I headed across the street to meet up with the group for a run in the Cathance River Preserve today. Along with Scott, our leader for the morning's run, Ian, Jamie, Chuck, Blaine, Jeff, Mindy and Kevin showed up. Snowman and I were interested to see where Scott would take us, as we've run through the preserve before, although I haven't been back there in a while. The wind was blowing and it was downright chilly, so we quickly took off into the woods in an effort to warm up. Scott is obviously a very talented runner as he set a pretty fast pace from the start. He took us on a wandering route through the Mt. Ararat trail system and into Highland Green subdivision down by the construction area.

Once we got onto the preserve trails, things got a bit technical, and I settled into the back of the pack with Mindy, Snowman and Kevin. Mindy and I chatted away as we wandered along the Cathance River. It was beautiful along this stretch. The river was flowing nicely and there were some roaring falls. The trails dipped and rose, punctuated by ice flows, lots of downed leaves, roots and hoar frost, which made the footing interesting. At 4 miles, Mindy and Kevin took a shortcut back, as both have been injured and are taking their return to running slowly and trying not to overdo it.

We ran along, enjoying the woods and the wandering trails. Jamie and I were the back of the train. I was glad to have the company, although it was not as nice for Jamie as he's coming back off a bad stomach virus and was running low on energy! Poor guy. As we wound our way back onto the Mt. Ararat trail system, Snowman, Jamie and I took the short way back to the parking lot. The out and back logged in at 9.2 miles on Jamie's GPS, and Snowman and I figured with our run to and from the parking lot, we got in a solid 10 miles. It was a fun run and nice to catch up with everyone. Definitely a great way to start the day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shooting Star

Today was a long day at work, but I was rewarded on the way home by the view of a brilliant shooting star, arcing over the marshes outside of Bath. Beautiful.

In running news, I went for a short 3-mile run on the roads this morning. It was only 18 degrees out, and I felt a little breathless as my body adapted to taking in the cold air.

I'm looking forward to finishing off the week with a good TMR run at the Cathance River Preserve on Saturday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2 x 5

Snowman and I got out for a nice slow 5-miler in the Commons on Monday. It was just what we needed to loosen us up a bit from Sunday's race (or wander through the woods, in my case). We did see 5 Hooded Mergansers on the 1st pond, which was very exciting. I always love it when I spot these birds. The usual group of Mallards were on pond #2. Other than our run and a few errands, Monday was a quiet day.

This morning I got out for a 5+ miler on the powerlines. After all the balmy weather we've had, the temps this morning felt pretty darn cold. 23 degrees + gusting winds = one cold Sparkplug! As I was heading out the door, Snowman insisted that I put on a heavier shell, and I was glad I did. Brrr. Despite the cold, it was a nice run on a sunny and crisp November morning.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blackstrap Hell Trail Race

When we arrived at the little parking lot that led to the powerlines near the Falmouth Land Trust for the 1st Blackstrap Hell Trail Race, Floyd noted that our feet would get wet before we even got to the starting line. And he was right - there was an stream flowing across the access road. Wet feet and we hadn't even started racing! That pretty much sums up the conditions. Lots of stream crossings, some of them quite deep, lots of mud and slippery clay, one area of hoisting myself up big slabs of rock on the powerlines, wet leaves, obscured rocks and roots. Things were a bit treacherous out there, but it was really perfect crazy trail runner conditions :-)

Jeff had set up the race so that it was a staggered start with the slowest runner (based on previous Bradbury and Pineland Farm Trails race) starting first. The theory was that everyone would finish at approximately the same time, and really, it worked pretty well! Anyway, I wasn't the first to go off but I was near the front. And we were pretty spread out, so I was alone in the woods. Somewhere, I went off course. Jeff and Ian had marked the course quite well with arrows and orange flags, so I can only blame myself! I can only assume that in my attempt to not kill myself on one of the downhills, I missed a turn. Yup, I am silly. So, I did not finish the full course. However, that aside, Jeff (with Ian's help) put together a great trail race - thanks guys! - and I hope it continues in the future so that I can get back out on the course and actually complete the whole thing :-)

We all met up after at Jeff's house for a potluck lunch and post-race beers. Thanks to his wife Cacky for letting us invade their home. The whole Trail Monster crew is a fun bunch, and we had fun eating and chatting and laughing away. A good way to spend a Sunday!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Big City

OK, well Portland might not be "the" big city, but it's big to me. And we've made two trips down there in three days. It's the most social we've been in weeks!

Thursday night, we met in Portland, with Snowman driving from his cross country ski areas association meeting in Vermont and me from Wiscasset, to have dinner with our friends Hairball and Snowbunny. We hiked with them for over 500 miles on the trail in 2005, and haven't had the chance to see them in a while. It was Snowbunny's 30th birthday,and we celebrated with dinner at Tandoor. It was great to see our friends, and as an extra bonus, the food at Tandoor was yummy. Excellent Indian food. After a filling dinner, we headed to Old Port Tavern to play some pool for a bit before heading home.

Luckily Friday was a planned day off from running, as the combination of a very late night, beer and Indian food seemed to wreak a bit of havoc on my stomach, and I didn't feel good all day. However, this morning I did get up and out for a mellow 3-mile run in the mist and fog. Nothing exciting, but it did round out the week.

After work, we headed down to Portland again, this time to meet up with Snowman's parents for a meal at Walter's Cafe. Irene and Dana were kind enough to treat us to a great meal out in celebration of our completion of the AT. Thanks guys! The meal was wonderful. I even tried the calamari appetizer! It was actually quite tasty. I think it's all about the fried goodness on the outside... I had a nice plate of scallops with couscous and butternut squash as my entree. And as if all that wasn't enough, I finished off the meal with a truly rich pumpkin pie cheesecake. Yum.

Tomorrow is the 1st Blackstrap Hell Trail Challenge. Should be fun, although I'm not sure tonight's meal was the best choice. Not exactly light, but oh so tasty! :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Colors and Textures

I was up and out the door at 6:45 am this morning, and headed across the street for an out-and-back 5+ mile run. As I crested the first hill on the powerlines I had a view of the sunrise, the brilliant pinks and oranges low on the horizon beneath a thick bank of clouds. As I continued on, the pretty colors disappeared, and I was left with the flat light of an overcast November day for the rest of the run. The drab colors of late fall, with the leaves gone from the trees and bushes, were interrupted now and again however by shouts of flashy color from the bright red winterberry bushes. With the past few days of cold weather, the puddles and areas of water along the trail were glazed with ice.

The terrain beneath my feet ranged from pavement and gravel or rock to loose sand, churned soft by the ATVs. In spots I was tromping through sand with a hard surface, others on frozen mud and waterlogged ground marked by ATV and dirt bike treads. Hoar frost, 2" deep in places, crunched beneath my feet. Frosted grass made for a nice surface.

Despite the fact that I often feel out in the middle of nowhere as I run along the powerlines, they are in fact lined with houses, hidden behind trees. But this morning it was quiet, and I had all the colors and textures to myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brrrr!

It looks like our nice reprieve from normal November temperatures is over. It was 30 degrees this morning, and the car windows were all frosted over. I headed to the Commons around 7am. The air was crisp and cold. My fingers were a bit cold at first, even with my gloves on, but as I settled into a nice pace I warmed up nicely. Saw my first Hooded Merganser of the season, along with a mess of mallards in the second pond.

To finish up my run, and make good on my promise about actually doing something for my speed (Ha! I lost it long ago. Or maybe I never even had it...), I did 5 sets of strides on the artificial turf field used by the rugby team. I had planned to run the strides on the grass, but it appears they just aerated all the playing fields so they were strewn with big round chunks of now frozen soil. That didn't seem like such a good idea, and actually, the turf was nice and springy. In between the stride lengths I did some of the bounding drills from my long-ago Bowdoin track days. I realize that doing strides isn't really as good as doing an honest to goodness speed workout, like Snowman did yesterday, but it's a start!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yummmm....Pancakes!

There is something about pancakes. My grandmother used to make us these cool Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes when I was a kid, and we loved it. Maybe that is where my love of pancakes comes from. Anyway, for the past few weekends I've been pining for pancakes. Our favorite breakfast spot in Brunswick, Broadway Deli, makes wonderful strawberry and blueberry pancakes. Yum. So, this morning we headed downtown so I could get my pancake fix! :-) It made me very happy to eat my pancakes and then sit for a while with Snowman, drinking numerous cups of coffee and talking.

After our big breakfast, it was hard to motivate for a run, but I finally dragged Snowman off the couch. What he really wanted was to take a nap instead - he had a long weekend of work and didn't get home until late last night. But I knew we'd feel better if we got in our run. The temperature was right around 50 degrees, but the wind was swirling around and kept us both feeling chilled for the first mile or so. We headed out through the Commons and then into Pennelville for a 9-mile loop. I love running out into Pennelville, through the fields on the quiet roads. But today the wind was in our faces, making this section of the route not all that much fun. The view from Simpson's Point made up for it a bit, with the sun shimmering nicely off the water. As we continued on, the wind seemed to follow us, only once giving us a nice tailwind and more often then not blowing right at us. Ah well. Despite the wind, it was a nice run and I felt pretty good, although my quads are a bit tight, making my legs feel a bit more leaden than I would like. I guess I need to do a bit more stretching!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

5 and Shopping

With Snowman up at work this weekend for a 2-day event, I was on my own today. After a leisurely wake-up and breakfast, I went over to the Commons for a 5 mile run. Although the sky was overcast, the rain had stopped and it was warm and muggy. The run went well, and the woods were busy, with people walking their dogs and biking along. The Bowdoin fields were busy too, with several soccer games going on. I guess everyone was out enjoying the unseasonable weather.

What's a girl to do when her workout is done and it's only 11:30 am? Go shopping, of course! No, seriously, that's what I did. No, no, not for me, as I really am not a big shopping fan and besides, we pour all our extra money into gear, not real clothes :-) But I figured with a free afternoon I would get a jump-start on my Christmas shopping. I knew Snowman would be happy to miss out on one shopping day, so I headed to Freeport. It seems like the rest of the world must have had the same idea. There were tons of people around, and LLBean was packed! Despite the crowds, I was successful in finishing off the shopping for my niece Morgan, so that is at least one person checked off the list. Mission accomplished.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Misty Morning

Another shorts and t-shirt run today. A misty and overcast 58 degrees at 7am when I stepped out the door to head across the street for my run. As I turned into the high school driveway, I noticed four guys headed up the powerline road. They were just cresting the hill. I wondered who they were and where they were headed. The other thought that crossed my mind was, could I catch them?

I powered on up and along the road, but they had dropped out of sight. I turned left onto Highland Green Road, and a little ways ahead, I could see the four of them. One of them was lagging behind, so I caught him first. I asked him how he was, and he said "tired." When I caught up with the other three, I asked if they were training for something, and they said work. It crossed my mind that they must work at the Naval Air Station, and be out for a run from the cluster of base housing behind the high school. As I was just about to pass out of talking range, one of them said, "What are you running? 7:30s? 7:00s?" I replied back that I thought I was running 8:00s, but wasn't quite sure (I am not good at knowing my pace, just ask Snowman!). His response: "Well, that makes me feel bad." It was a funny exchange.

As I had notched the pace up a bit early in the run in an attempt to catch these guys, I figured I might as well keep it up. I worked to maintain the pace for the rest of the run, feeling good about the effort. When I returned home, Ronnie the cat had a field day licking all the sweat and mist off my arms and legs. Crazy cat!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is It November?

It didn't feel like it this morning. I went for a run in shorts, t-shirt and my fashionable pink sleeves, although I probably didn't even need the sleeves. It was 53 degrees and pretty humid out. Not quite a typical November morning, but a nice morning to be out for a run. I went to the Commons for the 5-mile out-and-back. The woods were quiet except for the scolding of the red squirrels and the loud calls of the blue greys. There were about 30 mallards gathered on the second pond, a place they often hang out in the late fall and winter months. I guess they think it's November :-) Not much to report on the run. I felt pretty good, although my groin is a bit tight? Who knows... I have a short run planned tomorrow to cap off the week. With this second recovery week almost done, I'm planning to ramp up the mileage a bit next week to 25 miles or so.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Late Night

I am typically loathe to talk too much about politics. However, I can't help but say "Woohoo!" I know there is a long road ahead of us and that Barack Obama is not going to be able to fix everything that has gone awry over these past years. But still, I felt a big smile come to my face last night as Snowman and I sat on the couch way past my bedtime watching him and his family come on stage in front of a huge cheering crowd, and as we listened to his speech. Hope is a wonderful thing.

So, politics is my excuse for not getting up this morning and running. I was tired! Ah well. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

MDI Marathon Photos

I thought I'd post a few of the photos my parents took of us at the MDI Marathon. Don't we look happy?!

Also, click here for a cool slideshow done by Snowman's parents!

Thanks guys!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Meow!

This morning started with us attempting to put Ronnie the cat into his carrier for his annual vet visit. He was not a happy kitty. We tried the side hatch. He refused. We tried putting him in through the top hatch. His legs were splayed out in a vain attempt to keep out of the carrier. Eventually Snowman was able to stuff him in. Poor guy. He meowed angrily and pitifully, no doubt cursing us out and screaming "Why am I in this bag?! What have I ever done to you?" The meowing continued all through the car ride. Luckily, we had the first appointment of the day, and were in and out within 10 minutes. Five minutes after we got him home, he had forgotten all about it and was stalking the birdies taunting him from outside the sliding door.

With that event over and done with, we set out for a nice run down at Reid State Park. The drive down to the park meanders through some pretty marshes and inlets and by the time you reach the park entrance, it sort of feels like you're at the end of the world. As it is off-season, the park was quiet. There were no other cars in the parking lot. The trail we were planning to run ran out from what I typically think of as the park, away from the beach and through the woods. Snowman had run this trail last summer at one point when I was injured and taking it easy for a few weeks, but it was new to me! It's always nice to go to a place you know and find something new. The trail took us by a pretty pond, the shore tinged with the deep reds of the blueberry bushes and tall cattails.



The trail then headed around the pond and along an old dirt road. As we neared the park entrance, I noticed a small path off to the right. Snowman hadn't taken this route before, but we figured it couldn't take us too far out of the way and so set off to explore it. The section of trail was more rugged singletrack and twisted and turned through the woods, eventually dropped us down at the far end of the park at Mile Beach. Cool. We headed down the rocks to the beach, running along the empty beach at the edge of the water. Luckily, we had the wind behind us, a nice tailwind.



A beautiful day at the beach.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pinelands Run

Another beautiful late fall day here in Maine. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze and it was around 43 degrees when we finally headed over to Pinelands for an afternoon run. The small parking lot by the pond was full when we pulled in, so we drove over and parked at the YMCA instead. We could see Mt. Washington and the Presidentials in the distance, with what looked like a big swath of snow on Washington. We headed out onto the campus loop, and for the first 10 minutes or so I was cold, but eventually warmed up as we ran along. It was nice running on the trails again and kicking up the leaves as we went along. Snowman seemed to be struggling a bit, and admitted to feeling slightly off. But he wanted to keep going, so we continued on across the street to do the Oak Hill loop.

Yesterday the NESCAC cross country meet was held on the Oak Hill section, and so the route the runners took was raked and free of leaves, which was nice. We meandered along, up and down the hills, enjoying the quiet of the late afternoon woods. On a run like this a GPS would have been handy, but in the end, we figured we ran 7 miles (1:07:16). I felt good during the run, and it was great to get out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who Wants Some Candy?

When we were at Sam's Club last weekend, we purchased a huge bag of Halloween candy. Of course, we did this knowing full well that we had an invitation to go over to Nate and Shannon's for dinner on Halloween night. Still, we reasoned, with all the young kids in our neighborhood, surely some of them would be out trick-or-treating before 6pm.

Were there any? No.

We took a 1/3 of the bag to Nate and Shannon's and left it there for them to enjoy, but that still leaves us a lot of candy! I'm envisioning coming home this evening after work and finding Snowman all hyped up on mini Milky Ways, Twix and Snickers, the wrappers strewn on the floor and he and Ronnie chasing each other around the house. Good times. But at least it would mean some of the candy is gone and not sitting there just waiting for me to eat it :-)

I went out for a short run this morning across the street on the Mt. Ararat trails. Snowman's loop has a fair number of hills in it, so it was a good workout. The woods were quiet and the sun was tinged with pink as the sun rose amongst the clouds. Although I felt like I was working a bit hard on the hills, overall I felt pretty good and think I'm pretty well recovered from the marathon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Commons Loop

Ronnie the cat nicely woke me up this morning by licking my face. He is very insistent, and will paw at the covers if I try to hide, trying to get me up. So, as it was only 10 minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off, up I got. It was pitch black out. I stretched, I got on the internet, I stretched some more. Even as it neared 6:50am, it was still dark. To ward off the darkness, and any errant hunters who might be in the area, I put on one of those lovely glow-in-the-dark orange safety vests that I had found last night, hidden away at the bottom of the drawer filled with all my hats and gloves. This vest dates from our Bowdoin College days. Yup it is old, and a bit wrinkled, but it does the job.

I headed to the Commons, and set out on our "usual" route. As I ran along, the sun finally crept up over the horizon and lit up the woods. I felt good running, and it was nice to be out in the cool, crisp air. Saw one deer, its white trail up in the air as it bounded off into the brush.

One more short run this week and then I'll up the mileage a bit next week. Two additional things I want to add into my routine: 1) Get back to doing my core exercises. I've really slacked off on these, and I know I should be doing them; and 2) Strides. Snowman and I have talked about this on and off over the past months, but have yet to do anything about it. One of Jamie's recent posts prompted me to think this really would be a good idea. Not that strides will make me fast, but maybe if I do strides a few days a week, my legs won't totally give me the finger when I try to pick up the pace during the Feaster Five!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Morning Jaunt

I went out for a morning jaunt down the powerlines and onto Highland Green Road for an easy 3 miles. The sky was overcast, but it was warm and not yet raining. Felt fine and the run was frankly none too exciting. I think I've done this out-and-back a few too many times recently. Still, the plan calls for two more 3-milers this week, so for something different I'll probably do a Commons loop one day and run Snowman's route on the Mt. Ararat trails the other. Last year I spent a lot of time running on the Mt. Ararat trails, but with our longer marathon training runs this year, I haven't been on those trails in a while.

Of course, it is hunting season here in Maine so any trail running has to involve some sort of caution to the hunters out there. But, do I have to dress like this?

Yes, this is my husband. Isn't he fashionable?

On another note, in a search through our bookshelves for a book to read tonight, I picked up Bill McKibben's "Wandering Home." Reading his journey about traveling on foot between his homes in Vermont and in the Adirondacks really makes me want to be back out in the woods. I do love running, but I've missed hiking the past 6 weeks. If it's nice out this coming Monday perhaps we'll have to head up to Camden for a hike in the hills....

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Afternoon Walk in the Woods

The plan for today was just to hang out and get some errands done in Portland while down there this morning, but it was too nice to spend the whole day inside! So, though Snowman would have been just as happy to sit on the couch, watching bad TV, I convinced him that we should at least get out for a walk. There aren't going to be too many blue sky 60 degree fall days left!

The nice thing about this area is that there are a number of small preserves with walking trails. We decided to head down into Harpswell and walk the trails at the Skofield Preserve. The trails wander through the woods and offer a chance to get down to the water along Middle Cove Bay. The trails were quiet on a Monday afternoon, and we enjoyed the sun shimmering off the water and the fading foliage along the shoreline. There were a fair number of black ducks, seagulls and some sort of plovers/sandpipers out along the edge of the mudflats. It was a good 1/2 hour walk in the woods.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stomping Through Puddles

We both slept in today - I didn't get out of bed until 8:40! Practically unheard of, but then I didn't get into bed until 11:30pm last night, which is way past my bedtime. We had a fun time at the Telluride Film Festival yesterday- they showed some interesting films and we had fun chatting in between with Ian, Mindy, Pete et al - but it was a late night (for me, anyway!)

After a yummy breakfast of eggs and homefries and a few chores, we headed over to Bradbury for an afternoon run. With all our marathon training, we hadn't been over to run on the trails in a long while, and it was nice to get back there. We had some serious rain last night, but the skies had cleared by mid-afternoon and it was warm. 62 or 63 degrees. The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived, with a number of people out taking advantage of a beautiful late October day. We headed out to run the 6-mile Scuffle course. The trails were a bit trickier than usual, as they were covered with leaves and also pretty muddy and wet from the rain. After trying to dodge the puddles for the first 1/2 mile or so, I just gave in and decided to stomp right through. What fun :-) But some of the puddles were pretty deep! Needless to say, my legs were covered with mud when we finished the run.

The run went well. I felt good, and although we kept a pretty mellow pace for most of the way, helped in part by the terrain, Snowman was still convinced I was pushing it towards the end. Oh well. I tried. We ended up cutting off the last stretch of the Scuffle course and came in on the Link Trail, giving us something like 5.75 miles in 1:00. Perfect.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recovery Zone

Still in the recovery zone. Meaning things are pretty quiet around here.I did go out for a 3 mile run this morning. As I crested the powerlines by Highland Green Road a little after 7:30am, there was a nice thin line of pink along the horizon. Pretty. The run went well, although it seemed I may have been working a bit hard for the time the run took. I guess the body is still a bit tired, which I suppose is to be expected.

Hoping to get in a very mellow 6/7 mile run either tomorrow or Monday, depending on the weather. In doing a bit of research on post-marathon recovery/training, I found Hal Higdon's "post marathon" plan, and am loosely following it. The "plan" calls for an hour-long run on Sunday, and that seems about right. I've really enjoyed being able to go out and run for an hour or an hour and a half and feel comfortable. Definitely don't want to lose that feeling!

In other news, we're headed to Portland for the Telluride Film Fest tonight, and plan to meet up with Mindy and Pete, and Ian and Emma. Should be fun!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feels Like Winter

The car thermometer was reading 28 degrees when I got in at 7am to drive to the Commons for a mellow 3-mile recovery run. During the run my nose was running like crazy. Most of the brightly covered leaves are now carpeting the forest floor and the narrow single-track path on our "normal" 3-mile loop is now a bit more maneuverable, as the bushes no longer hold their leaves. Back at home, we've turned on the heat. Next weekend we turn back the clocks, so that it begins to get dark at 4pm. Yup, winter is on its way.

The run went well. My right calf was a bit tight and I didn't have a ton of pep, but overall, my legs felt good. I can now walk up and down the stairs with no problem, and am really not feeling sore anymore. Encouraging, certainly, but I still plan to take it easy for the next few weeks, as I don't want to overdo it. Some say recovery from a marathon takes 26 days, one day per mile run. I don't know that I went all out for all 26 miles, but I think the cumulative effect of the miles certainly adds up! Again, the short-term plan is to ease back into running and not go nuts.

Last night we signed up for the Feaster Five, down in Andover, Massachusetts. We'll be spending Thanksgiving with Snowman's parents, who live nearby, and this should be a fun Thanksgiving morning race, certainly giving us leeway to eat a whole lot of pumpkin pie that afternoon! :-) Snowman's sister is also running the race. She surprised us by signing up for the 5-miler without much of a push from Snowman. It will be her first road race, which is very cool. Go Meghan!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's Next?

So, you may have noticed the change in header and title and color.... Something new! Scary...

Originally, when we set up this blog a year ago, we had intended it to be a place to keep our AT journals. But since Snowman had his own blog, I sort of took over this one. And as Snowman says, blabbed and blabbed and blabbed. :-) So, now that our AT adventure is done, although the Team Snowplug journals and photos will remain part of the site, we thought it was time to make this officially "my" blog. And since I'm always go, go, go, don't believe in relaxation and am constantly scheming up what adventure we should tackle next, a title was born!

Thanks for reading :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 MDI Marathon Fun and Pain

As I write this, Snowman and I are still hobbling around, barely able to get up and down the stairs, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself...

Pre-Race Prep:
Saturday morning, Snowman and I were out of the house before 8am to drive up to Mt. Desert. After a stop to pick up a delicious egg & cheese on a biscuit and a pumpkin spice donut at Tim Horton's, we motored up the highway, arriving at the hotel to pick up our runner packets around 10:30am. We wandered around the expo, picking up a few things, and ran into Jamie, and met his dad John and stepmother. As it was still early, we decided to do another drive of the course. Again, it seemed hilly but doable. Most of the hills seemed to give back, at least while driving. Lunch was pizza at a small cafe in Southwest Harbor. Yum. We headed back to Bar Harbor, checked into the motel and met up with Jamie for a quick run. The run went well, felt like nothing! We were ready. I mean, 2 miles is just like 26, right?! The evening was capped off with the tasty marathon-sponsored pasta dinner, and hanging out with my parents and Snowman's parents, who made the trip up to be our biggest fans out on the course. Thanks guys!

Marathon Day:
Sunday morning dawned crisp and clear. It was around 35 degrees with bright blue skies. Perfect. We watched the walkers start off at 7am, and got ourselves ready. We stayed in our room until the last possible minute, taking advantage of the fact that we were literally a 10-second walk from the start line in our motel room. After all, it was cold out there! We said hi to Jamie and his dad, and ended up lined up next to Jim, another Trail Monster Runner, with both he and Snowman wearing their Bradbury Bruiser shirts! Mindy and Pete, who had made the drive up to bike the course and cheer us on, along with our parents, were out watching the fun. After a few more words from the race director, we were off!

Early Miles:
Last night, I had asked Snowman if he was OK with me running with him for as long as I could. Our goals were pretty similar, and I figured it would be a lot more fun to run with him than alone in the crowd, only seconds apart. And it worked out great. Our plan was to keep the early miles at a mellow pace, and overall we succeeded. We went through the first mile in 8:38, which considering the "goal" pace was 8:45, seemed pretty good. The first 6 miles seemed to fly by, with us running steadily along, being passed by some and passing others, and soon we were running under the "Carpe Diem" arch in Otter Creek. Cool. We were feeling good.

Miles 6 to 12:
Soon after mile 6, we were routed off the main road onto a quiet side street that gave us our first view of the ocean as well as took us through a prestigious section of big houses with names like "Ravencleft." Then it was down to Seal Harbor, where a big crowd of spectators was waiting, among them our parents, in a great spot at the front of the crowd, as well as a kid holding up a sign that said, "Finish=Beer." That gave us something to smile about before we headed up the first of three hills we would climb in the next 1.5 miles. Still, we kept our steady pace and worked together. We hit the mile 12 water station in 1:44:50ish, right on target. We both stopped for a quick water break and I downed a few Clif Shot Bloks before we headed back on our way.

Miles 12 to 20:
The crowds started to thin out around this point, as we meandered down several residential streets in Northeast Harbor and hit the halfway point at 1:54:02. As we were nearing mile 14, I realized that things were awfully quiet. All the banter around us had trailed off and we were running around only 2 or 3 people. We were starting to feel the miles under our belt and it seemed weird to be so alone in a race of 900 people. This was also the stretch where we headed out right along the edge of Somes Sound and were running right into the wind. Yes, it was beautiful but it could have been a tail wind! At mile 16, we started up, up, up and again, conversation was sparse. But our spirits were lifted by the sight of Mindy and Pete, riding up next to us. They were super encouraging and stayed with us for a half a mile or so, coasting along beside us. Soon after, we hit the end of Sargent Drive where our fan club was waiting, cheering us on. We smiled and were boosted again by that, until we realized that the road was once again going uphill. I hadn't remembered this stretch. Oh well, on we chugged. We took a pee break in the woods around mile 19 (ah, much better!), and then finally we saw the final dip before the short climb to Rt. 198 at mile 20. The time was 2:53:20. We were getting there!

Miles 20 to 23:
We were into the tough part now, we knew, and we took a bit of time into mile 21 to regroup, and almost choke on a few Clif Shot Bloks in my case. As we headed up the hill after mile 21, we were moving along pretty nicely and passing a fair number of people. One man said "Release the hounds!" as we passed by, and it did seem we were chucking along. It felt good, but I was working a bit to keep up with Snowman. I don't think it was that I was moving slower; he was just moving faster. I had a bit of a mental battle with myself back and forth - well, you could back off - no, keep up! - but it hurts! - stay with him -- that sort of thing. And I did, as we went up and over several more hills. And then around mile 23, on a long uphill, he pulled away and that was that.

Mile 23 to 25:
I could see Snowman up in the distance. I wanted to catch him, but it wasn't in the cards. But still, I kept moving and passing people. And then, tada, the sign for the "Top of the Hill Restaurant" appeared on the horizon. I was almost there!

The last 1.2:
Although you would think a downhill at mile 25 would be welcome, it actually hurt. A lot. My legs were feeling the affects of the marathon, and as I wanted to be done, I was doing everything in my power to keep up my pace. I passed a few more people as I got to the bottom of the hill. I was almost done, but man, this last stretch seemed long! And the worst thing about it was that right around mile 26, there was a short uphill that seemed endless. But, only 0.2 to go! I could see the finish, and then finally, I was there, in the chute. Done.

The aftermath:
I was wrapped in the silver blanket, and Snowman was there to meet me. I got my medal and my chip taken off my shoe. Our parents were there to congratulate us. We had done it! My final time was 3:44:29, a 10-minute PR from the 2006 Maine Marathon. Woohoo! Snowman had finished in 3:43:03, which is pretty awesome for a first marathon on a hilly course! And we had run negative splits, finishing the second 13.1 miles approx. 5 minutes faster than the first half, which is pretty cool. I was psyched, but to be honest I was also feeling a bit nauseous. I put on some warm clothes and tried to walk around a bit. I couldn't move very well. My legs felt like blocks. I went to get some food, but had to throw both the bagel and the chocolate (horror of all horrors!) out. We chatted with Jamie, his dad, Mindy and her friend Tim for a bit, before we realized, man was it cold! Time to get to the car. Snowman had the bright idea of grabbing a few bags of Cape Cod potato chips. The crunch and salt hit the spot and I slowly chewed on them as we walked along the race course back to the car. After the 10 minute walk, I was glad to sit in the warm backseat of the car and rest. I was tired. There were still a lot of runners and walkers coming down the final hill, and I was glad I was done and not still out there! Of course, by the time we got back to the motel, I could barely move and walked up the stairs like a total invalid. Ahhh, running... isn't it so good for you?! :-)

Post-Race Ponderings:
Overall, it was a great race. Very well organized, with lots of enthusiastic and helpful volunteers. It was a beautiful day and we couldn't have asked for better running weather. Crisp and clear with fall foliage to boot. The course was very scenic, and in one of our favorite places. The course, with all the hills, was also very challenging. It was awesome to run the first 23 miles with Snowman, lots of fun and very helpful mentally through the tough spots. I wish I could have stayed with him for the last few miles, but I am very happy with how my race turned out. A huge thank you to Mom and Dad, Irene and Dana, and Mindy and Pete for cheering us on, as well as Grammie and Bampie for sending along good vibes!

P.S. Snowman is already talking about running a "flat" road marathon to see what his time might be. I'm still pushing for the 2009 Stonecat trail marathon. Who knows, maybe we'll do both?!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We Did It!

The marathon is over. We are tired and sore and happy, and will write more complete and entertaining posts tomorrow. But in the meantime, just in case you can't go to sleep without knowing the results... :-)

We had a beautiful cool blue sky day, perfect for running, and both are pretty psyched with how things turned out. We had great fan support along the route, with my parents and Snowman's parents cheering us on, along with Mindy and Pete riding along beside us around mile 17 and perking us up. Thanks everyone! We ran together for 23 miles before I couldn't quite keep up with Snowman's pace and let him take off up the final hills. Snowman finished in 1:43:03 (139/699), with me coming in at 1:44:29 (143/699). An awesome marathon debut by Snowman, and a pretty good PR for me! And Jamie had a great day too (1:27:56). Hoorah!

And now it's off to bed...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost Time

Packing is stressful. And when it's packing for a marathon, sheesh! But I think we got it all, and a gazillion extra clothes too :-)

We're headed up to Bar Harbor tomorrow morning. The plan is to stop and pick up our packets, do a short run, grab some lunch, maybe drive the course again (just to torture ourselves), meet up with my parents at some point, and then get ourselves to the pasta dinner to carbo-load and talk running with all the other crazy runners, Jamie included. Should be fun!

I'm getting a bit nervous for the race, but I suppose that's normal. I really am just looking for 8am on Sunday morning to arrive so I can take off running (in a focused but relaxed manner, of course) and get on with it! Now if I can only keep "Separate Ways" or "Heat of the Moment" out of my head during the race...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Serious Taper

Now I meant for this week to be a taper, but not this much of a taper!

Since I've been feeling pretty much like crap for the past few days from my cold, I hadn't been out running since our 8-mile run on Sunday. Ugh. I am finally feeling a bit more human, and wanted to get out and move! I headed across the street this morning for a 30-minute run along the powerlines and on the Highland Green road. It was relatively warm and humid, and I was completely overdressed in my tights and long-sleeved shirt, but all things considered I felt pretty good, and it was good to be out running!

Only a few days to go...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marathon Hopes

Having a cold is stinky... Yup, that about sums it up. Not much else except for a whole bunch of sitting on the couch and doing nothing today.

Cold aside, I feel ready for the marathon. I realize both Snowman and I have followed a bit of an eccentric training plan, what with all our hiking, but I feel good. Yes, the course is hilly and it is going to be hard. But, I know that, and that should help. I would like to run 3:55. That is what I ran in the 2006 Maine Marathon. I am sure I'm in better shape than in 2006. But I think this course will be more difficult. So, it seems like a wash. That being said, anything until 4 hours will make me happy. And of course, it might just be that I am happy to finish! I hope not, but you never know...

It appears Snowman and I have relatively similar goals, but I doubt we'll be running together, unless it just happens that way. Although we enjoy running together, and have done our past few long runs (mostly) together, we have different running styles, and I think we both want to be able to do our own thing for this one. But hopefully we'll both be in the same happy around 4 hours ballpark!

And with that, it's time to get back to doing nothing...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Out to the Ocean

The plan was for our last "long" run before next weekend's big event. Unfortunately it appears I've developed a bit of a cold, as I spent all day yesterday sniffling like mad. And even though I went to bed early, I just could not get to sleep. Ack! But at least we hadn't set the alarm, and I managed to sleep in until 9am, which was nice. After a big breakfast of french toast and home fries - yum! - I was feeling fine, still a bit stuffy but not bad. So, I decided I would stick with the plan and join Snowman for our 8 mile run.

I had made the suggestion yesterday that we should do a run where we could get down to enjoy the ocean, so Snowman mapped out an out-and-back down to the end of Mere Point Road. Neither of us have ever been down that way, and from the maps it appeared we'd have some nice ocean views near the turn-around point.

It is yet another beautiful blue sky day here in Maine, and the turning foliage is looking gorgeous along the roadside. The fields where we parked to head out were filled with sparrows flitting in and out of the grasses. The road had much more traffic than we expected, but otherwise it was a nice, pretty flat run. Towards the end of the point, we were running through a more exclusive area with beautiful homes right on the water. The sunlight was shimmering off the ocean, and boy, was it pretty.

We kept the pace pretty easy and finished in 1:10:45. I felt decent, but I think I'll be taking the rest of the week extra easy so that I can kick this cold and feel my best for the marathon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Winter Menu

Fall is my favorite season. I love the smell of the newly fallen leaves and the early season smoke that you can smell coming from people's chimneys when out running. I love the crisp, clear blue sky days. There are no bugs. The blueberry bushes turn a rich deep red, while the maple trees set the forest afire with their shimmering red, yellow and orange leaves. Wonderful. In our house, fall also means that I shift to our "winter menu." I enjoy cooking, and like trying new recipes when I have time, but I also have a well-loved menu of staple meals. These change to a certain extent with the seasons. Winter brings more soups and stews, curries and lasagna. There's something comforting about these foods. This week I made both lasagna and a butternut squash and leek soup, so it seems we've officially shifted to winter mode. Yum.

I got out for another mellow 3-mile run this morning. I went to the Commons to run our "regular" 3-mile route. The woods were quiet. The air was crisp. It was bright and sunny. Chickadees, juncos and sparrows were twittering about in the bushes. A nice morning to be out. Felt good, although I'm nursing a bit of a scratchy throat. Ugh. Lots of Zicam and Vitamin C, and a few good nights of sleep should do away with it though.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Beautiful Fall Morning

It is another gorgeous day here on the Maine coast. It was already 51 degrees when I headed out for a short 3-mile run at 7am. Not much to report from the less than 1/2 hour run. Seems like it had hardly started and then I was done. Ah, the taper :-)

Before heading into work I stopped at the Brunswick farmer's market. Along with the fall apples and potatoes, there are still tomatoes and lettuce available. Yum. Now that it's mid-October, it won't be long before our CSA share at the farm and the farmer's market are done for the season. So sad. I am not looking forward to going back to buying our veggies at the supermarket!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pink!

Morgan, my almost three-year old niece, is into pink.

I am not.

And yet, as of yesterday, I am now the proud owners of these:



How did this happen? Why did I not just order plain old black? Yes, black would have been boring but it would have been normal. I mean, when they said pink, they meant pink! There is no hiding it.

This morning, when I went upstairs to say goodbye to Snowman before I headed out for my very mellow 3 mile run, he laughed. I was wearing my blue hat, blue shirt, tights and my new sleeves.

Ah yes, I am soooo stylish :-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Carriage Road Run

After a big breakfast at the Claremont, we drove the long way around back to the other side of the island. Mt. Desert never disappoints - there are just so many beautiful vistas, no matter what road you are on. Gorgeous. Although we had brought our hiking gear with us, neither of us were that enthused about hiking last night as we were looking at the guidebook. So, in the end, we decided on a short run on the carriage roads around Witch Hole Pond.

This loop was in another area of the park and off a road we had yet to explore. The loop was rated "easy" in the guidebook, and it was. The loop took us along several small ponds, and the juxtaposition of the red blueberry bushes against the deep greens of the pine trees created stunning images. There was a bit of an incline as we went up and over Paradise Hill, where we had nice views down into the valley while watching a Bald Eagle soar overhead. What could be better than that?

We headed into Bar Harbor for a quick bite to eat, or so we thought! The town was overrun with 1,000 passengers from one of the ginormous cruise ships docked in the harbor. Crazy! And then, it was time to head home... A great weekend away. It was nice to be up there enjoying the area, as somehow I think when we're back in two weekends we're going to be in varying states of terror, excitement, nausea and/or exhaustion, and won't be feeling quite as relaxed as this weekend!

Running and Marathon Recon on Mt. Desert

After a fun night and a fair amount of beer with the Trail Monsters at Novare Res Saturday day, we didn't roll out quite as early as we had hoped for our drive up to Mt. Desert Island. After all, Snowman had finished off 2 litres of their Oktoberfest beer! :-) However, despite the island seeming so far removed from Topsham, it took us less than 3 hours to reach Jordan Pond House, the starting point for our day's run on the park's carriage roads. We had decided on a 12 mile run on the "Around the Mountain" loop from our "Discover Acadia" guidebook, which was deemed "strenuous" for bikers. Sounded perfect. It was a beautiful blue sky day, crisp and clear with the foliage beginning to turn.

As we've noted when hiking in the park, the closer you are to major trailheads and trail junctions, the more crowded things tend to be. So, as we began to get farther away from the pond, the carriage roads grew quiet and we savored the gradual grades and smooth treadway. It was easy running, and we chatted away, enjoying the quiet beauty of the woods, the brilliant reds of the maple tree leaves, and the nice views. About halfway through the run, we began to realize we were indeed going up, up, up, but it was never too much. With the constant, gentle grade of the roads, we just kept moving along, gaining altitude until we were on the upper slopes of Parkman Mountain, overlooking Somes Sound. It was gorgeous! It was lucky the roads were wide and mellow, as we did a fair amount of neck craning as we ran along, trying to take it all in!

As we crested the upper reach of the ridge, we broke out the Margerita Clif Shot Blocks we had brought along. They had a bit of a strange taste, slightly sour and salty. Just as we had gone up, the road now slowly dropped us down until we were running above and along Jordan Pond, with great views of the "Boobies" (ok, really the Bubbles) and the pond. As we ran back to the car, both of us felt great, and if we weren't tapering for the marathon, would have liked to have kept going. The roads were really a wonderful place to run. We commented that they would be a great place to get a few good long trails runs in in April or early May in preparation the 2009 Pineland Farms Challenge!

We capped off our run with lunch at Jordan Pond House. Everyone talks about their famous popovers, and although we often stop and hike out of the area, we have never eaten lunch there. We figured it was the perfect day for it. We had a table inside with a great view of the pond and the Bubbles, and felt very civilized eating our popovers :-)

Then it was off to Bar Harbor for our marathon course recon. Snowman drove and I read off the MDI mile-by-mile "course preview and insider's tips" sheets. With notes like "Only 25.2 miles to go!" and "The next stretch looks bad with a capital B but it runs much better than it looks," the print-out was full of words of wisdom! Needless to say, our overall impression of the course was that it looked hilly pretty much the whole way. Yes, no doubt the hills in miles 21 through 25 are brutal, but the hills at mile 9, 10, 19 and 20 look pretty rough too. Whose idea was this anyway?! (I do not take credit for this one... it was all Snowman!)

That being said, the course is gorgeous. Lots of neck craning, taking in the views of the ocean, the Rockerfeller estate, Somes Sound, Northeast Harbor, the various tidal rivers along the way. I hope I can enjoy it while I'm out there sucking wind on the hills! Aie....

We were so focused on the location of the finish line in downtown Southwest Harbor that we failed to note the sign for the Claremont, our home for the night. But after a brief wander down a quiet side street, we came upon the hotel entrance. The hotel had a similar feel as the Balsams or other old-time hotels. Beautiful old building, replete with shared sitting rooms full of old books and board games, and the requisite fireplaces; guest rooms with no TV, nice views and a quiet, refined atmosphere. Although I had feared we would be out-of-place, apparently a Bike Vermont group was also staying at the hotel, so the friendly man at the front desk didn't blink an eye at us, sweaty and disheveled, in our running clothes. There were indeed two croquet courts between the main lodge and the Philips House, where our room was located. There was also a beautiful view out onto Norwood Cove from the grounds. A pretty spot.

After a quick shower, we took a walk around the property and then headed back to Bar Harbor to our most favorite restaurant - Cafe This Way. The past few times we've been up to the island, the restaurant has already been closed for the season, and we figured an early celebration of our 9th anniversary (!) was a good excuse to go back! Yum. It did not disappoint, and was a great day to end a good day.