Couldn't resist posting these photos. Anyone else have a cat that likes lollypops?!
As for today's fitness report... Well, Snowman and I headed out for a mellow 3-mile run on the bike path after a big breakfast at the Broadway Deli. They make the best fruit pancakes. Yum! It was overcast, a bit damp and windy. We only made it about 0.75 miles when Snowman pulled up short with a massive calf cramp. Poor guy. He tried to stretch it out to no avail, so turned around to walk back. He told me to keep going, which I did unless the 1 mile mark, at which point I felt pretty badly for leaving him. I caught up to him and he asked me to run ahead and bring his heavy jacket back. It was pretty cold walking out there. So with all the back and forth, I got in 2.5 miles. Hopefully Snowman can work out the knot in his calf and be back at it tomorrow! I, however, have a rest day in store for tomorrow, and adding a 1/2 mile onto one of this week's later runs shouldn't be an issue.
Best bumper sticker ever. I think that about sums it up, doesn't it? I mean, what else is there to say?! Really, not much. (Seen this morning on a car in the Bowdoin Field House parking lot.)
In other news, with Snowman's reduced training schedule for this week, and the fact that he is working today, I was on my own for my long run this morning. Before Snowman suggested running 12 miles today (which as noted above, didn't happen), I had penciled in a 10 mile run for the day. So, I figured I would stick with my original intent, and head out for a leisurely 10 miles before lunch. The skies were clear and the thermometer read 37 degrees when I left the field house parking lot. It was also windy. I figured I was in for a good headwind at some point along the loop, but hoped for the best. I headed down Maine Street and onto Maquoit Bay Road. At about 3 miles, I had to stop for a pee break, and managed to find a small section of bare ground beneath a few pine trees off the side of the road. Hopefully no one in the house in the field across the way looked out the window at the wrong time! Oh well. Right after my break, I saw a fox out in the middle of the road, checking out some sort of small roadkill. I was hoping he might not see me so I could get a closer look at him, but he turned and ran off into the woods. Neat sighting though!
The Maquoit Bay loop is one of the few runs from downtown Brunswick that allow you to see the ocean. As you head down the hill, one of Maine's many beautiful coastal inlets opens up before you. A few small islands are visible out in the distance before things open up to true ocean. This morning at low tide, the mud flats shimmered in the sunlight near the shore as the seagulls flew by. Beautiful. Can't beat that kind of scenery on a run!
I turned off onto Bunganuc and then, about halfway into the run, onto Casco Road. This is where the wind picked up, which isn't really surprising, as a lot of the area is open fields. Still, it was a pretty strong headwind, and I had to work a bit harder than I would have liked to keep up a good pace. Plus, no sense in going slowly into the wind. Then you're just out there suffering longer. As I turned onto Pleasant Hill Road, the wind ebbed a few times, but with all the farmland along this stretch there are a lot of open sections, and the wind was in my face pretty much until the end of the run.
The run ended in 1:28:25, which I'm pretty happy with. Despite the wind, I felt good, except for some rubbing along the arch of my foot in the last few miles. This has happened a few times before on long runs in the Asics I'm currently wearing. Nothing major, but sort of a pain. I might have to think about another brand when I get my next pair, which is going to be pretty soon. Anyway, regardless, it was a good run. Even better is that my work is done for the day and I can relax!
In looking at my exercise log for this winter, I realize I have become one of those people Snowman and I used to comment on... You know, those people who ran through the winter instead of getting out on their skis... We always used to drive by people running on the roads in mid-winter and say, "What are they thinking? Why are they running? Why aren't they out enjoying winter on cross country skis? Or snowshoes? That's what winter is for!"
Well, the numbers this winter prove it. I am now one of "them." I do wish I had gotten in a few more days on my xc skis (and with all the snow up north, I still might!). But I don't have the advantage Snowman does, in that he works and lives a few days a week right at Great Glen, where the beautifully groomed trails are right out the door... Yes, Pineland Farms is close, as is a more backcountry ski experience in the Commons, so I don't have too much of an excuse, but it's not quite the same. The reality is just that this winter seemed more running focused. I can deal with that.
So, what do I consider winter? Well, in this case it is the first three spreads of my 2008 planner, which I use as my exercise journal. This year those spreads run from Sunday, December 30 through Saturday, March 29.
And the numbers are...
Total days exercised: 52 Total hours of exercise: 40.5 Days xc skiing: 15 Days backcountry skiing: 1 Days running: 36 Total miles run: 175.75
When I add it all up, it looks all at once impressive, yet not. I haven't skiied half as many days as Snowman, nor put in as many hours. But I could go on and on about how I could have done more, etc. Of course I could have. Still overall, I'll take what I've got. And build on it.
Another snowstorm yesterday. This has been quite a snowy winter! Portland hit 100 inches; Caribou, farther north, has its snowiest winter since they started keeping records. I think we're all thinking it could end. Even Snowman. I really didn't want to run in the snow. So, I didn't, which meant I went this morning to finish up my miles for the week, which totaled 22. Now I know that 22 miles a week isn't that much in the running scheme of things. But...in looking back over my running logs, a 22 mile week was my biggest running week last year (amidst a lot of hiking miles and xc skiing days). It's funny. I did run a fair amount last year, but I did a lot of short runs. I ramped up my mileage a bit before the Black Fly race in June, and then again in October for the Bradbury Bruiser, but other than that, it was a lot of 3 and 4 mile runs sandwiched in between skiing or hiking. It wasn't a bad year, but 22 miles as my longest week seems sort of weak. Oh well. In 2006, the year I was training for the Maine Marathon, I didn't hit 22 miles until May. Of course, after that, I did a fair amount of higher mileage weeks, but we only hiked something like 60 miles that year, so I had a lot of time for running. True, each year is different, for a variety of reasons, but it is always fun to go back and see how things compare.
Anyway, after all is said and done, hitting a 22 mile week in late March seems pretty good to me. I am feeling good, and I like having a few solid races scheduled for the season, as that gives me good focus and a goal to reach for. I also am really enjoying having Snowman around for a running partner! And I hope that this good running winter means we're on our way to a good running and hiking spring and summer :-)
Saw my first pair of red-winged blackbirds in the Woolwich marshes today. They are brave birds, I think, as there is still a fair amount of snow and ice amongst the cat tails. But it is great to see them back! Although fall is truly my favorite season, there is something about spring... I love hearing the birds sing, and it seems that more and more arrive each day. There is the promise of renewal, of baby birds, of greening grass and crocuses and daffodils blooming. We haven't quite reached that last part yet here on the coast of Maine, but when I start to hear the starlings chirping, the cardinal singing, and see the blackbirds back in the marsh, I know those things are just around the corner. And I just can't help but smile.
OK, enough existential babble... Got in a nice 5 mile run on the bike path before work. There was frost on the car windows, but it was a beautiful blue sky day. Great morning to be out. And I felt good too, which was even better.
Snowman and I got in a Middle Bay run today. It's a mellow route, but there was a head wind around every corner. How is that possible? Anyway, it was a good run except that we had to abort the first attempt at the run after 56 seconds, since poor Snowman was having shoe issues. He recently purchased a pair of Asics trail shoes after his failed attempt with the Inov-8s. They did not work. After some choice words, home we went so he could change into his other shoes. Then back to the Bowdoin field house lot and back on with the run.
After the run, we headed down to Portland, again, to the Maine Running Company, where Snowman tried on almost every possible shoe before coming home with one of the Brooks models. I hope they work. Otherwise, I'm afraid he's really going to have a fit and might have to start running barefoot!
Saw a beautiful blue heron in the Yarmouth marshes on the drive into Portland. First one of the season. Do herons migrate too? If so, looks like they're thinking spring has arrived in Maine. It doesn't quite look it yet, but hopefully warmer weather and snowless trails are in our near future!
Snowman had to head up to work today, so I was left to my own devices. I had a productive morning doing things around the house and around town, and around 2pm found myself wondering what I should do with the rest of the afternoon. I was highly tempted to curl up in the sun with Ronnie the cat and take a nap, or to sit on the couch with a book and relax. Both of those options sounded pretty good, actually. But yesterday, after our run at Bradley Palmer, in a fit of exercise-induced happiness, I had mentioned to Snowman that I thought I might ski at Pineland Farms today. It was a good idea, really, but as it was getting late, I pondered whether that was really what I should do. I could go for a short run. Or be lazy, as mentioned above. Or get off my a** and go ski. I mean, how often will I have the chance to ski at Pineland in late March? OK, OK, I convinced myself, ran upstairs to throw my ski clothes on, grabbed my waxless skis, and hit the road. I was skiing by 3:06pm. Nice.
They had groomed last night, which was great, and set tracks, which was even better. But as it was late March, and late in the day with the temps in the high 30s, the snow was pretty variable. In a few spots, it was ice. In others the sun had done some interesting things to the tracks, melting the snow down so that a ridge of crispy ice-like snow remained above the mushy snow. In the shade on the Oak Hill loop things were pretty solid. But regardless, it was remarkably good skiing, especially for this time of year. In the fields, there were a few thin spots, and of course the requisite dirty snow, but in the woods, there is still a lot of snow. I don't know that it's going anywhere for a while. I was out for 55 minutes, enjoying the rolling terrain in the Oak Hill area as well as doing a few loops in the fields. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and I enjoyed a great late spring skiing day of skiing :-) As always, the hardest part is getting off the couch, and I'm glad I did!
Snowman and I headed down to Massachusetts Saturday night so we could join his family for a homemade Easter brunch Sunday morning. I took the role of sous-chef, chopping vegetables for omelettes and Snowman acted as chef, cooking omelettes to order, while Dana made blueberry pancakes. Yum! Needless to say there was a lot of eating along with lots of chatting. Of course, we couldn't stop at brunch, and around 2pm enjoyed a wonderful chocolate banana creme pie made by Phyllis for Irene's upcoming birthday. While the pie was great, I am not so sure it was a great idea to eat a huge piece of it an hour before a long run!
After our mid-afternoon pie break, I was starting to get antsy. While I love sitting around and chatting, I really wanted to get out and move. It was a bright sunny afternoon and I didn't want to waste it. Plus, there was no snow on the ground, which made we want to run even more. I really didn't want to repeat last week's long run experience. So after a bit of convincing, I got Snowman up from the table, and we started to get ready to head to Bradley Palmer State Park for a run. We had realized a while ago that Bradley Palmer wasn't really all that far from where his parents lived, and I had printed out the trail map, thinking it would be a great place for us to go run when we were down in the area.
There were a number of coincidences about this park that came together as we drove towards the park. We passed the Ipswich River Audubon Center, where Snowman used to do nature camps as a kid, and then almost immediately passed Willowdale Drive, where my family had lived before we moved to Connecticut in the summer before fifth grade. Bradley Palmer was just down the street, and we used to take walks there as a family. Bradley was also the home course for Snowman's high school cross country team. So, all told, it was neat to go back there just based on all that alone!
There were a fair amount of cars in the lot as we pulled in. After all, it was a nice, if slightly breezy, Easter Sunday afternoon. Snowman and I headed across the lot onto the trails, hitting a sizeable stream overflow about 15 feet from the car. Guess it was going to be a wet run! I was wearing my new Inov-8s, so they were getting a good introduction to trail running! And after this run, they don't look new anymore :-)
As we wandered the trails through the park, we hit a fair amount of mud and slop along with a few good ups and downs, but managed to keep a pretty good pace through the run. The park was really nice, and the trails we hit ranged from narrow single track, to wide gravel paths, a beautiful section of trail through the pines along the Ipswich River, a few stretches on a wide old carriage road as well as a nice meander along the edge of a wide open field. We also worked Snowman's old 5k xc course into the run, which was fun. Tough course!
We finished up in 1:16:35, figuring we had gotten in our scheduled 8 miles for the day. I was a bit tired during the run, in part from all that pie and not sleeping well the night before, but overall felt pretty good and was really happy to be out on the trails. Yes, we were mud covered and our feet were soaked, but boy was it nice!
Originally, the Pineland Farms 25k Challenge was set to be the next race on the calendar. But the more we thought about it, the more we wanted to find one more race to do before that one. So, both Snowman and I scoured the internet, trying to find the perfect race. We found a few great looking ones, but they kept conflicting with other things on the schedule. Crap!
Finally, we settled on the Merrimack River 10 Mile Trail Race on April 12. It sounds like it has the potential to be fast, but muddy. After all, we do live in New England, and it is a 10 mile trail run along a river in April. Why would we expect anything but mud? Should be fun!
I could hear the wind before I got out of bed. Not good. Hmmm... Could I postpone my 5 mile run until tomorrow morning? Nope. Too much to get done before an early meeting at work. So, in order to get in my, yup count 'em, 20 miles this week, I had to get up and go run. Not a super exciting prospect on a windy, 25 degree March morning. I figured my best bet would be the Brunswick Town Commons. The bike path was out, as were most of the loops I know around town. Too much wind. So off to the Commons I went with my YakTrax, my fingers crossed that there had been enough traffic to pack down the trails. I stuck to the main thoroughfare, doing a few loops and a few out-and-back sections of trail to get in my 5 miles. The woods blocked most of the wind, thankfully, and as long as I didn't stray far off the narrow beaten path, the snow was solid. There were a few sections where the snow had melted enough to create big patches of ice, and even two spots where the sun had melted the snow completely, allowing me to get in a few strides on dirt. Hurray! All in all, a good run. I'm glad I got out.
Well, compared to yesterday it seemed easy... My legs were still feeling pretty tired, and I was a bit stiff, so it was nice to have a mellow morning and then take an easy 5 mile run on the bike path with Snowman in the late afternoon. It was a gorgeous day. Bright blue skies, no wind, warm. 45 degrees. Wow! Felt like spring. We had contemplated going skiing today, but decided we didn't really have it in us. Spring fever? I know my mind has turned the corner to spring. Perhaps Snowman's has too, although I'm sure he'll sneak a few more days of skiing in up at Great Glen over the next few weeks. And with the amount of people out on the bike path (I have never seen so many people out walking or running there!), I think everyone else is thinking warmer days are ahead! Of course, tomorrow's weather is calling for 1 to 3 inches of snow, so maybe Mother Nature isn't paying attention to the calendar :-)
I had thought it would be nice to run our 10 mile run today on the roads, at a nice easy 9 minute pace. But Snowman wasn't really interested in that, so I agreed to a run at Bradbury. The temps weren't supposed to be too warm, so I hoped the snow would still be firm and it wouldn't be too mushy. Last week we didn't run on the West side of the park at all, so when Snowman suggested we started out our run on that side, I mentioned it might be fun to try out the 4.5 mile loop that Ian of Trail Monster Running had mapped out for a future race. It featured a decent amount of elevation gain and loss, and a stiff 0.2m climb up to the Bradbury summmit. I struggled a bit on that short climb, in part because it featured a fair amount of ice which I felt sure I would slip on, despite wearing my YakTrax. Due to the terrain and the conditions on a few of the lesser used trails, this 4.5 miles took us a while--over 50 minutes.
By the time we got back to the parking lot, I was feeling a bit discouraged. I knew we still had another 5.5 miles to run and this was going to be a long time out on the trails. I really wanted to finish the run on the roads, and said so, but despite it, I kept going. As we were headed up the hill on the Snowmobile Trail, Snowman said, and I concurred, that he was beginning to develop a pleasant contempt for the trail. It's not a steep uphill, but a good grind, and even harder with the snow. There had been a fair amount of snowmobile traffic over the weekend, it seemed, and the surface was a weird mix of packed surface in the shadows and mashed potatoes in the sun. At times I felt like I was running on the soft sand. Snowman had thought the loop we did on the West side was 6 miles, so was a bit upset when I told him that it was only 4.5. We agreed to turn around at approximately 1:20 anyway, and hope for the best. I fell behind as we headed beyond the park boundary and pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the run. Snowman circled back to check on me a few times, which was nice, but which just really made me feel worse for not being able to keep up. I was feeling pretty negative, and just didn't have the right attitude for the second half of the run. Ugh. I'll have to work on that a bit. We ended in 1:48, and after all was said and done, Snowman was nice enough to forgive me my foul mood. I'm sure he's right that this will only make us stronger, but I'm still planning to do my next long run on the roads! Or at least the dirt... Know where I can find any?
Last night was the Nordic Meisters award party and pot-luck dinner. I left the gallery around 3pm, and with better driving conditions that last weekend, managed to make it to Great Glen right at 5:30pm. We had a fun time chatting and enjoying all the yummy creations everyone brings to the pot-luck. Lasagna, carrot ginger soup, cheesecake, pumpkin woopie pies, oh my! Yum. Then it was on to the important part of the evening! As long as you participate in 6 of the 8 weeks, you are entered into the raffle. And the raffle is always good. Skis, boots, clothing, hats, gloves, gift certificates to local businesses. No socks this year, which was upsetting to Snowman, as that is what he always wins... I ended up winning a really nice pair of Sporthill pants, which would have been great for spring running or skiing, but they were a medium, and looked huge. So, the other fun part of the night is the trading. Now, I am not very aggressive by nature, so I am not so good at trading... But I needed to find someone to take my pants! I tried a few options, none of which seemed right, and had almost given up, when I managed to trade the pants for a nice fleece pull-over from Patagonia. A bit long in the sleeves, but should be good to wear around. Sweet! Snowman, by the way, won a Rossignol jacket. Very ski dork :-) Anyway, it was a fun evening, and as always, we enjoyed being a part of Nordic Meisters this year. It is a cool group of people and a great way to get out and enjoy some skiing, oh yeah and a bit of racing if you're into that!
This morning I helped Amy set up the St. Paddy's Day Duathlon (again, volunteered by Snowman) before heading out to ski the course before the race started. It was an overcast morning, slightly balmy with no wind. The course was a good one, and I enjoyed my half hour out on the trails. The snow has definitely transformed, but was still nice skiing. Although there is a lot of snow left, I don't know how many more times I'll get out on my skis, so it was good to do so while I had the chance!
Another Middle Bay run this morning. However, unlike last week, I decided to go in the opposite direction, down Maine Street first and back in on Rt. 123. Doing a familiar loop backwards is always an interesting experience. It's familiar, but different. I noticed a house on Rt. 123 that I had never seen before, simply by virtue of the angle from which I was looking. I didn't know the mile markers, but felt like I was going at a pretty good clip. Ended in 46:00, mostly because I just wanted to get Rt. 123 over with. Both the wind and the traffic were whipping down the road straight at me and I was ready to be done. But it was a beautiful crisp, clear and sunny morning, and it is always good to be out.
On another note, in a moment of weakness at the grocery store this past weekend, I purchased a box of Golden Grahams. Certain boxes of cereal were 50% off, so how could I resist? Of course, these days I typically don't buy from the regular cereal aisle. I always buy Kashi GoLean cereal from the "healthy" section. It has a good crunch and a bit of sweetness too. Snowman says it tastes like twigs and berries, but I like it. Still, Golden Grahams is one of my true favorites. So for the past few mornings, I've been enjoying Golden Grahams for breakfast. Well, with some Kashi mixed in too to make it a bit healthier :-) Yum!
When I woke up this morning, I wasn't sure I would be up for a run. I was tired. Perhaps it was all those donuts?! But the day was nice and sunny, and mid-afternoon Snowman and I headed out to the bike path for a short mellow run. I was thinking 3, he was thinking 4, so I figured I could take another mile, and we went for 4. Nice and easy. Felt good.
Also tried my new Inov-8 Roclite 315 shoes. Although they were purchased last month, I hadn't worn them yet. I wanted to try them out on a shorter run to see how they felt and make sure they really worked. They felt quite comfortable, although definitely with a bit of a different feel. I am not quite sure how to explain it... the sole is stiff, but the upper is pretty soft... the toe box is pretty large, which I like...and the shoe has a much lower profile around the ankle. I think that last part is what will take the most getting used to. But I liked them, and think they should make a good trail runner.
Flora and fauna highlight was a bald eagle sighting. The bird was sitting out on the ice on the river, and appeared to be eating something, although it was too far away for us to know for sure. A few crows hovered nearby. Other than that, the river was quiet.
In a fit of anger and hunger following an attempt to find a trail race to fit into our April schedule, Snowman yelled out "I want donuts!" So, off to Dunkin Donuts we went, in a fit of blatant junk food binging. Of course, it was 5pm, so the donut choices were slim, but we managed to pick a half dozen and promptly finish them all off. Yup, 3 donuts each. Before dinner. How "fat American." But at least we ran for 8.5 miles earlier. That makes the donuts not count, right?
Snowman and I headed over to Bradbury Mountain State Park late this morning for a long run. With the weather over the past few days, we decided the Snowmobile Trail would be our best bet for a good solid surface. We headed out the Link Trail, which was a frozen mess of footprints, until we passed the Lanzo Trail. There Snowman noted that a few snowshoers had been out onto Lanzo, packing things down. And it was now frozen solid. So, we thought we'd try it. It was a great surface until intersection 83, where the surface was no longer solid. We were postholing regularly, and both of us have the cuts (Snowman) and bruises (me) to prove it. Ow! So, a few minute later, around we turned. Back to the Link. And onto the Snowmobile Trail. Ahhh... the Snowmobile Trail had been used recently by, yup you guessed it, snowmobilers and the churned up frozen surface was great for running. It was a nice morning, around 29 degrees, sunny and a bit windy, and we enjoyed our journey through the woods. We made it out to the edge of a (gravel?) pit past Brown Road, where we stopped and tried a few Clif Shot Bloks before we turned around. I felt really good for most of the run, but was a bit tired on the last big hill near the park's boundary. There Snowman took the lead and we made our way back down the trail and onto the Link back to the parking lot. We figured we ran 8.5 miles in our 1:18 out on the trails. May have been more, but as we don't have a GPS it's hard to tell. Still, it seems plausible that we were running 9:15's and probably faster at some points. Regardless, it was a good solid run, and a good excuse to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch watching an Anthony Bourdain marathon!
Today was Ski to the Clouds, hosted up at Great Glen Trails. The course for this 10k race was 4k on the Great Glen trail system and then up the Mt. Washington Auto Road for the rest of the race. Now, for those of you who don't know, the Auto Road is literally all uphill. Yikes. This is a serious race. Needless to say, I was happy to offer my services as a volunteer (well, Snowman really volunteered me, but I had planned to come up anyway) and watch from the sidelines! I just haven't been skiing strongly enough this season to think I could do the race with any sort of ease.
Now that you know what the race was like, let's just add to the difficulty... It poured like crazy all afternoon and evening on Saturday and then at some point in the night got cold enough that things froze solid. Then in the early hours of Sunday morning, it started to snow. And with the snow came the wind. The flags on the lodge deck were flapping like crazy and the newly fallen snow was swirling in the air. Tough conditions. But the groomers did awesome, going over the course multiple times and tilling and grooming the course up as best they could. And the racers were in good spirits, looking forward to this adventure.
I was manning an intersection along the Great Glen trail section, where the skiers came down a hill and took a sharp turn. The lead pack went through quickly, and the rest of the field followed, with many people waving and smiling as they made the corner. It was fun to cheer everyone on!
Once the final skier had gone by, I took a quick spin around the trail system. Actually, with the new snow in the tracks, the skiing was pretty good, albeit with a very hard surface underneath.
Back in the race, 2006 Olympian Justin Freeman took the lead going up the Auto Road and won by over 2 minutes. Wow! Awesome job to all the racers, and to the staff at Great Glen Trails. Everyone I talked to after the race had good things to say about their experience. I mean, how many people can say they've skied up (oh yes, and down--after they'd finished their race) the Auto Road?!
On an unrelated note, I had three bald eagle sightings today. Two eagles were floating high on the air waves over Rt. 196 in Lisbon Falls; the third was sitting in a tree along the Androscoggin along the bike path as I drove by on my way to the grocery store this evening. Cool!
Despite what I said in yesterday's post about trying to avoid running on the roads due to high snowbanks, low shoulder and lots of slop along the side of the roads, I ended up doing this morning's run, yup you guessed it, on the roads... Since I was on the bike path yesterday, and didn't want an exhausting run like Snowman's run yesterday in the Commons, I decided to do the Middle Bay loop. And actually, it wasn't so bad. The town of Brunswick seems to have been extra diligent with the spreading of sand this winter--the shoulders and edge of the roads had a solid covering of sand--so no slipping. In fact, the worst part of the run was on Maine Street, which is where I thought it would be best. The sidewalks had been half-heartedly plowed, so they were an unfriendly surface to run on, and the shoulder, which is wide, was a mixture of ice floes and snow removed from the sidewalks. Oh well, I didn't get run over, so it all turned out OK. My training "plan" called for 5 miles today, and this loop was 5.5 miles. Perfect. Ended with 47:30.
I needed to be to work extra early today, by 9am. I know, horror of all horrors, having to be at work by 9am. I really am not complaining, I swear! But to do so, I have to be out the door by 8:15 and therefore if I wanted to run, needed to be back at the house ready to shower and eat by 7:45. And since the streets have become dangerous--huge snowbanks combined with no shoulder, plus the ice and frozen slush from yesterday's storm--I figured heading to the bike path would be the best course of action for this early morning run. So up at 6:15 and starting my run at 7:00 on the nose. There were no other cars in the lot, even though it was a beautiful bright sunny morning. Temps had dipped below freezing last night and although the windless 27 degrees felt great, it also had transformed yesterday's rain and slush into some nice ice floes and interesting frosted patterns on the paved path. This made the run a bit interesting, as although I had decent traction in some parts, in others there was black ice and the aforementioned ice floes. But all in all, a great way to start the morning. 4 miles, 34:15.
Flora and fauna highlight of the morning was a beautiful large red tailed hawk sitting quietly on a branch in the sun by the river's edge.
We awoke to pouring rain and gusting winds. Perfect day for a ski! However, by 9am, it had stopped raining and the mountains were peeking out from the clouds. Bright blue sky appeared. Excellent.
Still, all the rain and the warm temps left the snow really slow and soft and just plain old wet. I was tempted to use my waxless skis but thought I'd give Universal klister a try. This seemed like a day when the klister would work well. I wish I could say it did work well for me, but it did not. I flailed about. On the uphills, on the flats, and even on the downhills. I could not get any kick. Plus, the snow was so slow, I had to double pole or even kick and glide to get down the hills. Not good times. I finished off the 2008 Nordic Meister season with my slowest time yet, 34:55. Yikes.
I was kicking myself for not being able to get the klister to work, as it really can be awesome and just seemed like it should have been great today, until I saw Snowman come back in and trade in his klistered skis for his waxless skis... Well, at least it wasn't just me who couldn't get the klister to work! I must admit, that makes me feel a bit better... my time is still slow, but oh well. You just never know what you'll get when you come out on Nordic Meister Tuesdays!
Most of the times I'm out running, hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing, I easily get into a rhythm, which allows me to enjoy what I'm doing and quiet my mind, reaching a "happy place," so to speak. Although I love skiing, I definitely struggle more with it as a discipline. Running and hiking are so natural to me. Skiing takes a bit more work and some days I just don't have it. And today, well, it was just one of those days. We headed over to Great Glen around 11am, hitting a lot of mid-morning traffic as well as a few rain and sleet showers on the way. However, by the time we had reached Gorham and stopped for lunch, the skies had cleared and the mountains peeked out from the clouds. Perhaps it was going to be a nice afternoon after all!
We put on our waxless skis and got onto the trails around 2pm. But the snow was bizarre. They had received a foot of snow on Friday/Saturday, so things were soft, but there was a glazed layer on top, presumably from the earlier rain/sleet. My skis just would not kick. And with my struggles, I just couldn't find a rhythm. Getting frustrated, I shouted "I am not in a happy place!" Poor Snowman, now he had to deal with me for the rest of the ski... but we continued to ski through the trail system, as I didn't want to just give up and go in, and we finally managed to hit a good long section where the snow had softened up and I could actually kick and glide. Yes! A happy place at last.... sometimes I guess, you just have to work through it to get there.
Snowman sent me the link to a website called Runnerville. I haven't read much on it, but he did point an article out to me to read, which for all you runners out there reading this blog, is pretty funny, well, because it's true... So, here they are, his "Ten Fundamental Truths about You (A Runner)." (You may have to scroll down below the fold to get to the top 10 list.) Enjoy!
We actually had originally intended to join in on the 50k Fat Ass race that Trail Monster Running was putting together at Bradbury State Park this morning. For those of you who are metrically challenged, 50k is 31 miles. No, we did not intend to do all 31 miles, but were planning to do one 10.5 mile loop. And yes, there is actually a type of race specifically called "Fat Ass" races. They are basically grass-roots style, laid back "races" without an entry fee, no prizes and the entrants bring the goodies for the aid stations. From what I understand, most of these races are in the winter, when there aren't as many long distance races available. Anyway, with the snow we received yesterday, we went back and forth last night trying to decide if we should go or not. We finally decided to go. But then, in our sleep, we decided not to, as when Snowman came downstairs at 5:30 am (the race started at 7:00 am), he said, "What are we thinking? This is going to suck." So, we had a brief discussion in which we decided we didn't need this 10.5 mile run at this point in our training and that a real slog through the snow for 10 miles might not be the best thing for us... Upon that realization, we promptly went back to bed and I didn't get up until 9:00 am. Ahhh....
So, we decided to do a run in the Commons instead. We headed out about 1:30 with our YakTrax and were glad we had decided upon a run in the woods instead of on the roads. Boy was it windy! At least the woods protected us a bit from the gusts. We ran for 55 minutes, mostly on the packed down main trails, but adding in the one section we'd done last time we were in the Commons that hadn't seen any traffic. It made for some nice post-holing and tough going! That made us very happy with our decision to skip out on the Fat Ass this time around. We'll get that in another time.