Friday, February 29, 2008

5 in 1

1 degree, that is. Yup. That's cold!

I didn't run yesterday, and it's supposed to snow another 6" on us tomorrow starting after midnight tonight, so tomorrow is out. Therefore, the run had to be today if it was going to happen this week (my version of week being from Sunday through Saturday, mostly because that's how my running log calendar is laid out but also because Sunday starts my "weekend").

So, looking at the thermometer at 6:45, it read 0.6. Hmmm... Better put more clothes on! I layered up and headed to the bike path, arriving at 7:30 after Snowman had finally gotten out the door to work. (When he is headed up to Great Glen, he is always loaded down for what seems like a week-long trip... work bag; overnight bag; wax box; ski bag; cooler; breakfast... it takes three trips to get everything into the car!) Anyway, there were no other cars in the lot, surprise, surprise, as the car thermometer read 1 degree.

Luckily, there was no wind, so after a fast first mile to warm myself up, it wasn't so bad. Cold and crisp, yes, but sunny too, which was nice. If it had been windy, it would have been another story, but... The 5 miles went by pretty easily, and I ended the run in 42:30 and with a frost covered face and a fair amount of frozen snot! Sorry, not a very attractive picture, but it's true!

All in all, I was pretty happy with my run and glad I didn't let the temperature deter me. Perhaps it's the warrior in me... (take the runner's quiz to find out what kind of runner you are) :-)

Flora and fauna notes for the morning include a big flock (30+) robins in the trees overhead. These robins, which according to my readings, have come south from Canada and are more richly colored, with a beautifully deep red belly, than the robins we tend to see here in the summer. Neat. Also saw a bald eagle flying over Route 1 on my way to work, and half a dozen hooded mergansers in their "usual" spot by the wetlands water drainage in Woolwich.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why don't I have a camera phone?

One of my favorite things about this time of year is that we gain a bit of light each and every day. Which means that today on the way home from work, I caught the whole of tonight's sunset. Beautiful. As I drove south, the sky lit up with an array of wonderous colors. Brilliant pinks and oranges mixed with the more subtle bands of pastel pinks, purples and blues, set above the dark trees and bright white of the snow on the river and in the fields. I wish I had had a camera or camera phone with me to capture the beauty, but you'll just have to take my word for it... What a relaxing way to end the work day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nordic Meisters #5

If you've been following my blog, or perhaps Snowman's, you realize that today is actually week #7 of Nordic Meisters but as I've missed two weeks, it is my week #5. In order to be in the raffle at the end of the season, you have participate in 6 of the 8 weeks, so I had to race today and have to race next week. Can't miss out on the raffle!

It started snowing, very lightly, around 8am, so I decided to stick with my lazy-man plan to use my waxless skis. People were doing all sorts of things to their skis. Snowman used binder with hard wax; Rosemary used klister with hard wax over it; etc etc. Skiing is such a simple yet not simple sport. But the advantage of the waxless skis is that you can just put them on and go. Yes, they can be a bit slower, but sometimes they are just worth it. So, that is what I did. My unofficial time was 25:10. Not bad. I am a bit sore from our run yesterday, but it felt good to get in some skiing.

All in all, it was a nice day with good skiing, better than we had expected, with snow lightly falling and a soft light all around. The clouds had closed in around the Presidentials, but started lifting as Snowman and I finished up our cool-down ski. Very nice.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bradbury Run and New Shoes

Another beautiful day today. Blue skies and warm temps. Gorgeous! Snowman and I had decided that we would head to Bradbury today to get in a long trail run. The park was quiet as we donned our YakTrax and headed out on the Perimeter Trail. Although relatively small, the park has a great system of trails and being close to both Portland and Brunswick, gets a lot of use. The Perimeter Trail was nicely packed down by what looked like walkers, snowshoers and a few adventurous skiers. We had to jump a few water bars and open streams, so the skiing would have been interesting, but it was great running. With the warm temps, the snow was a bit soft but still pretty solid and we enjoyed our jaunt along the edge of the park. We split off from that trail to head up to the "summit", an open ledge area overlooking the surrounding fields and woods, very picturesque, and then back down toward the parking lot. The flora and fauna highlight of the run was that Snowman, in the lead, spotted a pileated woodpecker up in a tree. We watched it for a while as it hopped up the tree trunk and headed out onto a branch, where it called out its song. Neat!

That loop got us about 42 minutes of running, so we headed across the street, which leads out to a wide snowmobile trail that heads through hill and dale into Durham and then eventually to the Androscoggin River. Ian and Jamie, two ultra trail runners in the area, both blogged about running along this snowmobile trail toward the river earlier this month. We did not get that far, needless to say, but ran for a ways along the trail before turning back. There had been a fair amount of recent snowmobile activity along the trail, but despite that, or maybe because of that, the snow was a strange texture, sort of loose and granular, all churned up. I think because I was getting tired at this point, it seemed harder than it should have been, and at the hour mark, I declared I was ready to turn around. We finished with a run of 1:16, which we figured was about 7.5 miles. Not too shabby! My legs are definitely feeling it, but it's a good tired!

After showering, eating lunch and packing up to head up to Great Glen to meet our friend Ghost, who we hiked with on the AT in 2005, for dinner and stay over to race Nordic Meisters tomorrow, we headed down to Portland to the Maine Running Company store to try on some Inov-8 shoes that we had heard about. We had gone down to the store last weekend, but they did not have our size so the nice woman on the floor indicated that she was planning an order anyway and would order our sizes and set them aside so we could have a chance to try them on. This company is really interesting, and several of the people in the trail running community around here, use various Inov-8 shoes. Snowman had done a fair amount of research and was really excited to try them out. The shoes are light but sturdy and a bit different in the amount of structure around the ankle, etc, but are made for trail/mountain running. Needless to say, we both walked out with a new pair of Inov-8 Roclite 315 shoes, and are very excited to start using them this spring on the trails!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A visit with family

After an easy 3-mile run with Snowman on the bike path on this beautiful blue sky morning, we had lunch at home with Mim, Susie, Jon and Lillie. Minestrone soup, salad, bread and a bit of wine. Yum. It was good to see them and nice to spend the afternoon chatting and catching up! Now we're back to relaxing on the couch. Tomorrow we're planning to do a long trail run at Bradbury State Park. Should be fun!

Speaking of family, I've taken to checking in on the pair of eagles that the Biodiversity Research Institute monitors via a live camera feed. This pair has nested on this particular spot along the Maine coast for 13 years and raised many offspring. They are getting ready to start nesting and so, are starting to spend time on the nest. It is really neat to tune in and see them on the nest! If you have the time, definitely take a look!

Whirlwind of Snow and Art in New York City

I got back late last night from a quick but busy trip to NYC with my boss and his wife. They nicely invited me along on a 2-day art-filled trip down to the "big city." The trip began at 3am on Friday morning, when I awoke to get myself ready to meet them at 4am for our drive down to the Amtrak station on Rt. 128 in MA. Luckily, I was a passenger on the car ride and slept most of the way! When we arrived at the station, it had just begun to snow and as we headed south on the train, we were even happier with the decision to not fly or drive down, as there was quite a bit of snow on the ground and even more swirling through the air as we sped through RI and CT. Traveling any other way would have no doubt meant some delay and frustration.

Arriving around 11am, we checked in the Surrey Hotel, a nice old-world feeling hotel on 76th near Central Park. The city, and particularly the park, looked beautiful covered with snow. After a quick lunch, we headed to the 67th Street Armory for the Art Dealers Association of America show. 70 dealers were set up in the Armory, showcasing their 'best of the best.' It was almost like going to a museum - we saw an Edward Hopper watercolor and several pencil studies for his larger oils; numerous Charles Burchfield watercolors; a William Zorach scultpure; mobiles by Alexander Calder; two oils by Fairfield Porter; two beautiful ink drawings by Henri Matisse; plus works by Andy Warhol, Walt Kuhn, Cy Twombley, Arthur Dove, Reginald Marsh, Guy Wiggins and many others. A neat mix of works.

After several hours at the show, we headed over to the MOMA, where admission was free on Friday nights starting at 4pm. We stopped in the museum cafe for an early dinner and a bit of a pick-me-up to fuel before our tour of the museum. I think the highlight of the visit was Matisse's "The Dance" but of course there were many other masterpieces to feast our eyes on. There was a neat exhibit of Lucien Freud's slightly distorted and disturbing thickly painted portraits along with etchings. However, as the crowds grew, the air grew thick and we had to escape... so we wandered up to the Whitney to see more art. The museum was pretty quiet and we took a quick tour of the open exhibits (many of the floors were closed in preparation for their Biennial opening in early March), before going back to the hotel to collapse into our beds (mine being the sofa sleeper).

Saturday started off with a 3 mile, 27 minute run on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center. I caught up on the news, including a clip of President Bush attempting to jive along with an African tribal dance, as I plodded along, all the while thinking how glad I was that I did not have to use the treadmill much for my training!

We were at the Met entrance by 9:30am, and spent two hours enjoying the art. You could literally spend days if not weeks in the Met, but we focused on the 19th and 20th century paintings. I could have stared at Van Gogh's "Irises" all day... A few other favorites of course included the museum's large collection of Monets and Degas, "Madame X" by John Singer Sargent, the long, gangly sculptures by Giacommeti,
a small Marsden Hartley of the Maine mountains...and on and on. What a wonderful collection.

Not wanting to waste a minute in the city, we headed to Chelsea, a rather seedy part of town, which has recently become populated with many contemporary galleries. This industrial section of town is being transformed; the brick buildings now hold gallery upon gallery. With only about an hour to explore, we only hit a fraction of the spaces, but saw enough to realize that we were pretty happy with the art we are currently exhibiting in our gallery. There was some interesting art out there, but nothing truly memorable. Regardless, it was fun to see the area and get a feel for the pulse of the New York art scene.

All in all, a full weekend of art! It was a great trip, but I am very happy to be back in Maine relaxing today! :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nice and Easy

Yesterday's run was 5 miles along the bike path with Snowman. I wanted to get the run in before lunch while it was still relatively warm and sunny, so we headed out around 11:15. The bike path was totally clear, and we enjoyed a nice, mellow run, despite the strong headwind on the way back. Saw a pair of hooded mergansers swimming in the opening waters along the river's edge, as well as a richly colored robin and a really bright cardinal, gleaming in the sun. I was excited and thought it might be a tanager, but upon reviewing its song at home, we came to the conclusion that it was a cardinal.

I had intended to get up and run 3 miles this morning before work, but Snowman turned off the alarm and I didn't get up until 8am! Guess I was tired! Oh well, I'll get another run in on Saturday to round out the week.

On an unrelated note, they have closed a section of Route 1 in Woolwich, which is smack dab in the middle of my commute. This morning I got caught behind a single-wide mobile home making its way north. Ugh. The detour is along these windy residential streets, and this oversized load sure did cause a lot of issues! People were swerving to the side to get away from it; a few tractor trailers coming in the other direction were looking pretty angry and all of us behind him were moving along at a snail's pace. This is what I have to look forward to for the next three months before they fix the bridge and reopen the road! Fun fun :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Adventure in the Commons

Snowman and I just got back from a run in the Brunswick Town Commons. We must have both been craving a break from the bike path, as when I suggested a run with our YakTrax in the Commons, Snowman said he'd been thinking of the same thing. Probably should have waited for a day when the snow was a bit more solid, as with yesterday's rain and the warm temps the snow was pretty soft, but it was nonetheless nice to be doing something different than running on pavement! A good change of pace.

Along the main drag things were packed down pretty well. Many people use the Commons to walk, run, xc ski, bike, walk their dogs, etc, so there had been a fair amount of traffic on the trail. Being relatively light, I stayed a bit more on top of the snow than Snowman, who while by no means heavy, still has 35-40 pounds on me. Eventually we broke off from the main path onto a narrow more single-track-esque trail which meanders through the woods, breaking off here and there into different routes through the area. As foot traffic got lighter, the snow was less compact and both of us were slipping, sinking and sliding around. Probably only a 3 mile run, but definitely a good workout! Eventually we looped around to the main path, enjoying the harder packed snow on the way back to the parking lot.

And now we're off to meet Nate, Shannon and little Finley at Frontier for dinner! Yum!


As this week is vacation week, there is no Nordic Meisters, so we are home for the day, Snowman working and me with a bit of free time on my hands. I spent the early morning running around town doing errands and then drove up to Lewiston to go to the Bates Art Museum.

David Little, an artist I know through the gallery, had been involved in creating an exhibition that was showing at the museum. The exhibit, "Exploring a Contemporary Vision of Conservation at Katahdin Lake", featured works by artists who had participated in the conservation of the area around Katahdin Lake, which was subsequently transferred to Baxter State Park for preservation forever. There were two charcoals by Marston Hartley as well as a work by James Fitzgerald of Katahdin, both well-known early 20th century Maine artists, and then a series of works by the contemporary artists. Very neat. In conjunction with this exhibit was a display of photography depicting different scenes and areas around Katahdin Lake and along the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail. Some interesting photos of people skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing, etc.

I was glad I made the trip up to check the exhibitions out. And boy did seeing those images of Katahdin make me yearn to get up there. What a magical place. Can't wait for September!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A weekend of eating...and a bit of skiing

Snowman's parents came up for their "Christmas present" this weekend. The present being a weekend at our house, complete with a homemade dinner, free xc skiing and a nice dinner out. They drove up to Great Glen on Saturday and enjoyed a ski there. The plan called for them to take a Snowcoach ride, but it didn't work out... turns out the coach they had planned to go up in got stuck in a ditch so maybe it worked out for the best! They followed Snowman home through the backroads of Maine and New Hampshire, over the huge frost heaves on Rt. 119, just in time (before I started without them!) for chicken cacciatore and pumpkin pie made by yours truly (I know, a random combination but yummy).

Sunday morning after a breakfast of banana bread, we headed over to Pineland. It was a beautiful day, although a bit windy. We headed, as is our custom, out into the Oak Hill loop, where the snow was really pretty nice! We made our way slowly along the trails, enjoying the woods and chatting. Snowman and I got in a bit of "up-tempo" skiing by adding on some of the additional loops of the main Oak Hill trail along the way. As we made our way back to the visitor center, we noticed it had gotten really crowded. There were a lot of people out enjoying the skiing today! Always great to see :-) Hungry from all the skiing, we had sandwiches at Foley's Bakery, and then went home to relax a bit and clean up before, yup, you guessed it, eating again!

Our dinner reservations were at Azure Cafe in Freeport. Lots of Italian this weekend! We enjoyed a long dinner complete with an shared appetizer of seafood cake, salad, chicken marsala and tiramisu and coffee for me. Yum! We attempted to walk off a bit of our dinner by wandering through LL Bean. Not sure it did much, but we did enjoy looking at the fish in the new aquarium!

Then, as if we could possibly be hungry again, we capped off the weekend with breakfast at the Broadway Deli in downtown Brunswick. It was pouring, warm (45 degrees) and foggy. Not much else to do but eat on a day like today, right?! :-)

A great weekend! Thanks for visiting guys!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Slip Slidin' Away

After Wednesday's storm of 6-8" of snow, followed by sleet, followed by rain, followed by cold temps, all of which made for some wonderfully thick ice out and around town, I did not get a run in yesterday morning. However, it warmed up into a beautiful sunny day which, combined with Brunswick's clearing of the bike path, made it possible for Snowman to get his run in during the afternoon. So, I figured it would be smooth sailing this morning. Perhaps with a few patches of ice to content with, but nothing that I couldn't handle. I awoke to a thick dusting of snow. Hmmm... perhaps it would be a bit more interesting on the bike path than anticipated. Oh well. I was up, so off I went.

My car was on the only one in the lot at 7:01 am, but Brunswick DOT had already made one pass along the path, clearing most of the snow off one side. Not perfectly, but enough to be able to distinguish between the pavement and the ice. I decided not to don my Yak Trax, as although they do a great job, they definitely feel heavy on the feet. They would have helped in some spots, but in others, they would have just been dead weight. I made my way along, waving multiple times to the plow guy as he went by three times during my 5-mile out and back run. You have to give these guys credit! Things pretty much went run run run, slip, run, shuffle, slip, run run run, slip... Not my most graceful effort, but all in all a good morning run and not super slow either (43:00), which given the conditions I was happy about. And now it's off to work!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Perfect Blue Sky Day for Nordic Meisters #4

After a fun dinner with friends Nick and Sue, and a sweltering night in Snowman’s apartment here at Great Glen (Snowman finally closed the heating vent around 2am, which made things a bit more bearable), we awoke to crystal clear blue skies and a gorgeous view of the Presidentials covered with snow. What a nice change from yesterday! However, the temps were still hovering in the low single digits, so I waited until around 10am to head out for my week #4 Nordic Meister (everyone else's week #6) ski run. The sun was shining and there was no wind so it seemed warmer than the thermometer reading of 10 degrees, which was nice. I felt much better on my skis today, thank goodness! The snow was a bit slow and I could hear it crunch underfoot as I glided along, but I attempted to keep relaxed and enjoy the ski. My unofficial time was 25:17, which seemed pretty good to me, but who knows? As I was finishing up my ski, Snowman was headed out for his warm-up so I joined him on a short loop through the system before coming in for lunch. Definitely a great day to be out on the trails!

Photo of me skiing along the field is courtesy of Snowman (aka the Marketing guy at Great Glen)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Whipping Wind and Blowing Snow

Sounds like a great day to get out and xc ski at the base of Mt. Washington, right?

7 degrees and very windy with high gusts blowing the snow around the Great Glen lodge.

However, we had come up to ski, so ski we did. I was all excited to get two days of skiing in a row, so we bundled up and headed out. I hadn't been out on my skis in two weeks, and I think that combined with my rushing across the fields to escape the winds caused the ski got off to a bit of a rocky start for me. I couldn't get my hood up; I put my poles on wrong and got them tangled up, causing me to do a face plant as I attempted to fuss with them and continue forward simultaneously; then Snowman had to help me fix my poles a few minutes later. Ugh! I was all flustered. But eventually I got into a better groove, and despite the cold and wind, the skiing was great. Once we got across the fields and into the woods, the winds died down and we were able to enjoy the quiet trails (surprise, surprise, there weren't many other people out today!) and nice snow. And boy is there a lot of snow! It has been a great winter so far up here.

It turned into a nice hour-long ski, and I'm glad we braved the wind and cold to get out there. Plus, as we were stopped to fix my poles, I saw a downy woodpecker working away at the bark on one of the birch trees. Always nice to see a bit of wildlife out in the woods :-)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hello Sunshine

I awoke this morning a bit later than planned but happy to see the sun peeking out! It has been a bit of a gray sky week, so this was a nice turn of events. It was cold (10 degrees) and crisp out as I headed out the door to get a short run in before work. With all the snow on the ground, combined with the slush and ice from earlier this week, I was back to wearing my Yak Trax. I headed down to Highland Green, enjoying the sun and the nice clean new snow on the ground and covering the pine tree boughs. Not a super fast run, but good to get out one more time this week.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Snow, snow and more snow

This has been a weather week... from dry to rainy to slushy to snowy, we've had it all. Currently, it is snowing... still... We received about 5" yesterday and more of the light fluffy stuff has been falling from the sky since this morning, piling up outside. It looks like winter again out there, and it sure does look pretty! As I was brushing off the car this morning, one of our neighbors grumbled and said, "I thought we were done with this!" But really, it's only the 8th of February (and Snowman's birthday! Happy Birthday old guy :-)), so winter shouldn't be over quite yet! I'm looking forward to enjoying the snow next week up at Great Glen, and maybe getting out to play in it this weekend too :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Next Event

So, now that the 10-miler is completed, it's time to focus on the next event. Yup, there's another running race in our future: The Pineland Farms Trail Challenge on May 25th. Although we ski at Pineland in the winter, we have not yet used the trails in the "off-season." But we do know that the system is well designed, with many rolling hills through the fields and woods of the Pineland campus. The race offers three options to us crazy trail runners: a 50 miler; 50k (31 miles); or 25k (15.5 miles). Being as we are crazy but not that crazy, we plan to do the 25k. And then enjoy the BBQ and free beer at the Memorial Day picnic and awards party :-)

So, with this event in mind, there's a lot more training to be done! After a few more days of stretching and recovery, I plan to take a look at the calendar and see what needs to be done to run a good 25k in a few months. Should be fun!

Recovery Run (I hope!)

After a day of nothing but sore muscles and sitting around yesterday, I really wanted to get out and do a short run today in the hopes that things would loosen up. We awoke to wet, sloppy snow, so I spent the morning doing errands and doing things around the house. Finally, the snow stopped and I managed to cajole Ryan into moving away from his computer where he was immersed in work and get both he and I out the door. As we headed for the bike path, a cold mist fell. Not many people out on the path today, but it was nicely cleared, which made for an easier run. We settled into a mellow 9-minute per mile pace for our 3-mile run, which didn't feel all that mellow, but which will hopefully help us feel more like ourselves by tomorrow!

Monday, February 4, 2008

10 on the 3(3)rd

We couldn't have asked for better weather for the Mid-Winter 10 mile Classic. 35 degrees, no wind, overcast. Perfect. Arriving an hour before the start, we went through the typical pre-race routine: got our packets and nice long-sleeve wicking t-shirts, hit the bathrooms, did a bit of stretching amidst the throngs of racers (691 finishers), went for a brief warm-up, met a fellow Bowdoin alum (it's a small world in southern Maine!), put on our timing chips, another trip to the bathroom, more stretching, final bathroom trip and then a quick jog to the start, just in time. Phew. The gun went off, and away we went! The first mile was a bit uphill with a few rolls, but despite that, with all the crowds of people around me taking off quickly, I went through a bit faster than I would have liked, 7:40. Oh boy. Time to take it down a notch. The next mile was pretty hilly, and that slowed me down a bit naturally, so I hit 2 miles at 16:00. OK. That's better.

Hmmm... Well, I felt pretty good. Maybe I could keep up 8-minute miles for the rest of the run. It was worth a shot. The course mellowed out a bit, and the next few miles went by relatively smoothly with me hitting 8-minute miles pretty consistently. Cool. I got passed, I passed a few people, I caught up to a few more, and the miles kept flowing. I also, as usual, managed to to get into these strange voids between packs of people throughout the race. I am not sure why, but this seems to happen to me often during races. My theory is that once I get at a comfortable pace, I can quite literally keep at that pace without much effort, and even if I feel I'm going faster or slower, I'm usually not and am steadily plodding along, as other surge and drop around me. Who knows...

I was feeling pretty tired by mile 7, but was still keeping a pretty even pace. At mile 8, I noticed my right arch feeling a bit tender. Turns out I had a nice nickel-size blister there. Ugh. Anyway, knowing I was nearing the end, I tried to keep up the pace and when we hit mile 9, I really wanted to pick it up... Well, most of mile 9 was uphill, and although I could see the big line of runners in front of me, I could not quite manage to pick many of them off. Oh well. I kicked it in as much as I could during the final stretch, even managing to smile when Snowman's "Happy Birthday" reached my ears right before the finish line. What a birthday morning :-)

My time was 1:20:39 (8:04 pace); 293 of 691 and 16 of 44 women in my age group. I'm pretty happy with that! Meanwhile, Snowman did awesome, putting out a great effort and finishing in 1:12:15 (136th). Wow! You can check out the final results here. If you're ever looking for a good mid-winter run, this is it. The Maine Track Club put on a great race!

After the race, both of us were feeling pretty dead. A bit more exertion than expected perhaps, with my pace taking more effort than I would have liked. After stretching and showering, we had some pizza and ice cream and headed south to Neal and Kendra's in Boston to watch the game. Snowman drove while I slept in the passenger seat. Boy was I tired! Anyway, hanging out with those guys was a good way to end the day, even if the game's conclusion left something to be desired. All in all, a wonderful birthday, complete with a good run, phone calls from my friends and family (thanks guys!) and a good dinner too! No complaints here :-)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Day Before the Race

Snowman and I went for a 20 minute run this afternoon to get out the kinks and get a little blood flowing in our legs before the race tomorrow. It was also a nice way to unwind and reflect on the past few days. We had been down in Massachusetts Friday and today for Snowman's grandmother Edith's wake and funeral. Although Edith had been sick for a while, it was still a sad occasion. We heard some nice remembrances of her over the weekend, and hope that she is now at peace. She will be missed.