Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Day on the Beach

Today was a beach day.

We awoke pretty early, after a big dinner, several glasses of wine and one blue mohito martini that made me sleepy last night, and hit the beach for a run. It was another sunny, hot day in Aruba, but didn't seem too bad at 7:45am. The beach is a beautiful white sand, and the water is turquoise blue, so not a bad setting for our 1/2 hour run.

After a good breakfast, we made our way to the beach. The hotels have these palm-leaf umbrella huts, and we asked for the shadiest one. #41 lived up to its reputation and shielded us from the sun for the afternoon. We relaxed, reading, chatting, people watching and enjoying the birds flitting about. The tropical mockingbirds, ground doves, and grackle were everywhere, but I enjoyed the tiny bananquit the most. They flitted in and out of our umbrella and squeaked in the palm trees above.

We managed to make it into the water twice. Very salty but a very comfortable temperature. Nice.

Despite enjoying our relaxing day on the beach, we both admit to not being totally comfortable that such a lush, manufactured and opulent, yet admittedly well-done, oasis has been created here on the coast of this arid, desert-like island for such sheer escapism. As with many tropical vacation spots I'm sure, the high-rise hotel area is totally separated from the rest of the island. This is not the "real" island. From our tour yesterday, I'd say few visitors go out of their way to the park or see the rest of the island, preferring to remain in their isolated cocoon. We really did enjoy having a chance to see what we consider more of the "real" side of the island yesterday, and although we know this sort of high-end tourism is many Arubans livelihood, it is odd to us that so many people come here for vacation only to revel in a manufactured paradise. Why is it odd that we want to spend our vacations communing with nature in the woods when this is not? Seems backwards to me... But then again, who thinks I'm normal?!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cacti, Dust and Birds

This morning we headed off in the jeep to explore the island. The concierge was pushing the jeep tour, but we are really more into doing our own thing. So, we had our own tour of the island. Much more comical, and most likely, much more interesting to us. We headed off to find Arikok National Park. Now, you would think an island which has set aside a lot of land as a park would want people to find it, right? Well, Arubans don't seem to be into signs. But we finally stumbled across some hand-made signs along the road leading us to the park. There, we talked to a ranger in a trailer, who gave us a map and tried to give us advice, but wasn't much help to us, as we were interested in hiking, not seeing the caves or the museum. We did end up going to one cave, but couldn't even find the museum... We wandered up the rutted dirt road to a parking area. Snowman was a crazy driving fool, bouncing me around, but really did a great job. We wandered down a well-constructed path through the cacti and dry, dry desert land. It was hot. Really hot. We did a bit of running, and a bit of hiking, as we meandered on, scaring up all the lizards around us, enjoying the cacti, the breeze and the views. Also saw a few groups of wild goats, and some really cool birds!

After our run, we headed on towards the caves on the other side of the island. The road was pretty gnarly in parts, but absolutely passable. Still, we were glad we had the jeep. We passed one couple in something that looked like a Corolla. They did not seem to be enjoying the ride as much! Also passed a group of ATV/Dunebuggy riders on a tour. Cool. Still, as noted, we were happy to be on our own. After a quick tour of the small cave, we decided to stop at the middle-of-nowhere bar/restaurant/souvenir stand for some lunch. The breeze off the ocean, just a 1/4 mile away, kept us cool as we ate a really good lunch for a random stop on the quiet side of the island!

We then headed on, getting lost here and there, but still essentially on course, until Baby Beach, where we shed our shirts and jumped into the turquoise waters. Gorgeous! And a nice bathwater temperature. Perfect.

We got a bit off course again as we crossed back over to the other side of the island to see the Natural Bridge. Well, the bridge has collapsed, so not much to see there, but at least the drive was cool. On our way back into town, I got a bit overheated and demanded that Snowman stop and get me icecream. Luckily, we passed a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins and I was saved :-)

All in all, a hot, dusty day, but a great adventure!

For those flora and fauna buffs out there, we've seen: Tropical Mockingbirds everywhere, many sparrows, carib grackle, one Babnanaquit, two Crested Caracara in the park, many Troupial, lots of great black-headed gulls and one great egret down by Baby Beach. Not to mention lots of lizards and iguanas, and many, many cacti.

Greetings from Aruba!

Hello from sunny and warm Aruba. We made it here yesterday feeling a bit tired, but without having felt the wrath of the airline gods. No missed connections, no misplaced baggage. Thank goodness.

Upon arrival at the Hyatt, we sat down for lunch, watching the tropical mockingbirds flitting about and the green and blue lizards and iguanas all around, these not to be outdone by the many people on the stretch of white sand beach and under the palmtree umbrellas.

We had dinner with the family, and spent the night eating, drinking and laughing. A great time.

Today, we have rented a Jeep, and are heading off shortly for some island exploration! Wish us luck :-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mornings with Snowman

I am a morning person. Snowman is not. That pretty much sums up our attitude's about this morning's run.

Snowman decided to join me this morning for a short 3-mile jaunt down the powerlines across the street. Since we're gearing up to leave for Meghan and Chris's wedding in Aruba tomorrow morning at o-dark-thirty, today is bound to be a day of getting as caught up as possible on work mixed with a bit of rushing around making sure we're all set and ready to go. So, he figured an early run made sense. Only he was very grumpy about it.

I can get up and be wide awake within a few minutes. I enjoy my early morning runs, with the birds chirping and the flowers blooming. It's a great way to start the day. Plus it means I've gotten my run done and don't have to worry about doing it later.

Snowman on the other hand, takes hours to feel awake, and is definitely a night owl, so he was Mr. Crankypants this morning. It's cold! (It was 47 degrees and nice and sunny). You're going too fast! You're running on the wrong side of the driveway! Geez, man, calm down. It's a beautiful morning.

But, in his defense, if we were to go for a run in the evening, which is when he's feeling at his best, I would probably be Ms. Crankypants!

Now, it's off to work. When we sign in next, it will be from sunny, hot Aruba! Bring on the SPF 70!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Me cheering on Nate as he comes through the Grove on his first lap.

Finally! They posted the results for the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge tonight. Team Sonic Death Monkey came in 5th overall in the team competition, against some stiff competition. Not too bad for an adhoc group of runners!

Official results leave us as follows, out of 262 fellow 25k runners:

Peyron - still 4th at 1:48. Impressive!
Vicky - 72nd at 2:14:27
Snowman - 91st at 2:19:14
Me - 110th at 2:26:09
Shannon - 157th at 2:42:33
Willow - 174th at 2:50:48
Tank - 214th at 3:05:08

And, Nate, coming in at 5:15:01 in the 50k, 34 out of 111.

Awesome job everyone :-)

I'm pretty happy with my time, as my goal had been to run under 2:30. Always nice to achieve those goals!

Also, an extra thank you to the race organizers and all the volunteers! They really put on a great race, and all of us Sonic Death Monkeys truly enjoyed ourselves. Can't wait to come back next year :-)

Ladyslippers Galore!

I went for a very slow 3-mile run in the Commons this morning. After the race and doing nothing yesterday, the legs weren't really feeling too frisky, but things did loosen up a bit into the run. Overall, I can't complain too much with how I feel after the race. Sore quads, some chafing (ugh!) and definitely tired overall, but nothing major. So, it was good to get out and get the blood flowing. It is another beautiful morning, and the highlight of the run was the profusion of pink ladyslippers in the Commons. They seem to love the area, and today they did not disappoint. I was 90+ ladyslippers! Wow! When I told Snowman, he was incredulous, and said when he goes out to do the same loop, he's bound to see 4 or 5... but I swear, they are there!

No results from the race, but we are all anxious to see how Sonic Death Monkey placed in the overall team standings! Stay tuned...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pineland Farm Trails Challenge and the Sonic Death Monkey Crew

This was a great, very well run, fun, cool race, and definitely well-named! It certainly was a challenge.

There's something to be said about a race that starts at 10am. There was no rushing around in the dark yesterday morning in an attempt to eat and get ourselves out the door for some god-awful early 6am start time (well, there was if you were running the 50 miler, but who's dumb enough to do that? Oh yeah, except the 80+ people who signed up for it!)... We got in a good breakfast, and headed over to pick up Shannon, Finley and the babysitter as Nate had left earlier in the morning for the 8am start of the 50k. It was a beautiful morning, blue skies, no clouds and already in the 50s. The event directors couldn't have asked for a better day for a race and BBQ!! Us runners probably would have liked a little cloud cover and lower temps, but really, we couldn't complain.

We picked up our packets at the Y, and signed ourselves up for a team. I mean, we had 7 people running the 25k, how could we not do the team competition? Of course, the name is all Snowman's fault, and we were dubbed "Sonic Death Monkey." They have yet to come out with the results, so we don't know how we placed, but it will be pretty funny if we manage to place and the team name on the official results is "Sonic Death Monkey"! :-) After pick-up, we wandered over to "The Grove," this big wide open field area, where the start and finish, and the BBQ, were set up. Some of the 50 miler and 50k runners were coming through, and people were cheering and milling around, relaxing on the grass. It was a cool scene. We set up our blanket and chairs, and Tank and Willow joined us. We cheered on Nate as he came through, having run 10 miles of his first lap, and looked good! None of us were doing a warm-up, as the race itself would be more than enough, so we chatted and stretched and before we knew it, it was time.

The Race:
The race course wanders all through the Pineland property, weaving through open farmland fields and onto the wooded trails. There were some neat views of the waves of runners weaving through the fields, and many spots where you could see people either ahead of or behind you across the way. I managed to see Snowman 4 times during the race, and Peyron once in the fields by the yurt. The first three miles of this course are basically downhill. We knew this and were all hoping to take it easy. I tried, but it didn't quite work out. I think I went through the 3 mile at about 25:00, a bit faster than I could keep up for the whole race. Oh well. Nothing to do but just try to keep up as good a pace as I could. The fields around mile 4 and 5 were the worst. Out in the hot sun, on uneven, sloping ground. Ugh. Then a decent hill at mile 5 and back to the yurt for halfway. Hurry! But there was a lot more work to be done, and on I went.

I was wearing my fuel belt, and had one bottle filled with our typical raspberry Hammer gel, and the other with a chocolate Gu pack. The chocolate was a mistake... I took one sip and could barely keep it down. I was starting to feel the sun a bit more, and was feeling overheated and a bit lightheaded. I stopped at the next aid station and drank a glass of ice-cold water. ahhh... That's better. The course continued on through the campus loop, mimicking the start, but in the opposite direction, uphill instead of down... I slowed down a fair amount, willing myself forward and focusing on the feet of the people ahead of me. My run was more like a shuffle. Finally, we headed back into the Grove. Only 5+ miles to go!

We knew from our training runs on the course that the Oak Hill section, while having a few good hills, but more even terrain and that definitely helped. But I was tired, and the rolling terrain was wearing me down. I had to walk one short section around mile 12, but managed to keep running (or shuffling) up the other hills. I was in a spread out group of runners, and would pass some, and be passed by others. We were nearing the end... The final stretch was another field loop. Go, go, go. I crossed the street and could hear Snowman cheering. I pressed to the finish. Done.

This was a tough race. There were no huge hills, but the constant rolling terrain and the time spent in the fields in the sun took their toll. Still, it was a great course, and the whole thing was well-organized, the volunteers were great, and it was just a really fun atmosphere.

It took a while for all of us to feel human again after the finish, but taking a good hot shower in the Y definitely helped, and then it was on to the BBQ! Veggie burgers, lots of pasta salad, desert, Maine-made gelato. Yum! I passed on the free beer from Ipswich Brewery (and they eventually ran out, to replace it with Bud Light, which Snowman said tasted surprisingly refreshing) but had more than my share of water and gatorade. There was a fun bluegrass/folksy band playing too. We all lounged in the shade, eating, drinking, talking about the race, and cheering on other runners as they came in. It was a great way to relax after a good race!

Results have yet to be posted, but I do know this:
Peyron came in 4th place, with a time of 1:48.
Vicky came in next, around 2:15.
Snowman, around 2:19
Me, around 2:26
Shannon, around 2:43
Willow soon after
Tank, around 3 hours
Nate, on his 50k run, came in at 5:15, and was pretty spent but having put forth an awesome effort!

A job well done by all of us, I think and a great group of Sonic Death Monkeys!

Although there was lots of moaning about how tough it was out there, I wouldn't be surprised to see us all out there again next year... although Nate may be doing just the 25k!

I'll post results when they come up.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dinner with Tank and Willow plus 3

Last night we met Tank and Willow at Gritty's in Freeport for dinner. We hadn't seen them since we were on the AT in 2005, so it was fun to catch up! Amazing that 3 years has gone by... wow! They are thinking about Portland as a possible new home, and are up visiting this weekend from VA. We would love to have them as neighbors. Go Portland! They are also amongst the crew that is joining us at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge tomorrow, so after we've all suffered during the run, we should have a great group to hang out with at the BBQ!

This morning I headed out for a quick 3 mile run in the Commons. Did the "regular" loop, and felt much livelier than my other short runs this week, which made me happy!

The Commons were nice and quiet, just me, the singing birds and the emerging wildflowers. I am constantly amazed at the variety of native wildflowers in the Commons. Amongst the rhodora, blueberry bushes, star flowers and wild oats, the bunchberries and the first pink ladyslippers of the season are starting to show their faces. I always love the magestic looking ladyslippers, and am always happy to look for them in the woods. I thought I might miss them this year with us being away in Aruba next week, so it was great to see them!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mid-week 4

I got up and out onto the powerlines for a 4 mile run this morning. Although the forecast was saying it was going to rain today, the sun was shining, the birds were singing like crazy, and the flowering plants and shrubs are really coming to life along the powerlines. The purple rhodora is a beautiful accent against all the greenery, and with all the blueberry flowers out, I'm definitely going to have to hit the bushes later this summer for some yummy low-bush blueberries! Saw two mallards in one of the "ponds" near Topsham Crossing, as well as two eastern towhees singing away, robins, sparrows, a goldfinch, and other heard but not identified.

I felt a bit creaky this morning, to steal a word from Snowman, and am also really feeling my allergies. Although I love seeing all the greenery come to life, it also means my allergies come alive, leaving me with itchy red eyes and runny nose. Ugh. I'm hoping this won't affect me too much on Sunday during the race. Speaking of the race, I'm getting a bit nervous... I mean, I know I can run the course. But can I run it at a good pace? I have a goal time in mind, but who knows if it's realistic. Yes, in theory, it is realistic, but sometimes that thing called reality just gets in the way :-) Regardless, it's bound to be a challenging morning, but a fun one! I'm planning on a nice mellow 3-miler Saturday morning to loosen the legs up, and from there, I guess I'll just see how it all shakes out...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I had a nice morning run in the Commons today with Shannon. She even beat me to the parking lot for our 7am rendezvous! It was fun to chat as we ran along. I took her on our "normal" three-mile loop, which twists and turns through the lesser-used trails of the Commons. Hopefully she'll be able to figure out the route again if she decides to come back and run it again alone soon. It was good to have some company this morning, and nice to stretch the legs out a bit before work! Thanks Shannon :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bradbury Run

Both Snowman and I awoke a bit creaky from our hike yesterday. It never ceases to amaze me that even if I feel in good shape, being in shape in one sport does not equal in good shape for another. Even if it's similar activities like running and hiking. Oh well. After a few more hikes, the body will get used to the muscle use and feel fine. Despite the creaks, we headed over to Bradbury for a run after breakfast. We had agreed upon a 1:30 to 1:40 run, and thought we would use the Bradbury Bruiser course for the run, skipping the last two miles on the "O" trail, which were the cause of many moans, groans and swears at the end of the race last year. We hadn't yet started our blogs last October when we ran this 12-mile course, but it's a great twisty turny course along lots of the single track through the park.

We started off at a pretty mellow pace, willing our bodies to loosen up. Snowman was not in a good mood, but we continued on. As we neared the 1:30 mark, I was getting a bit grumpy myself, as I really wasn't looking to push too hard on this run, given that I'm hoping to turn out a good run at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge on Sunday! But Snowman was determined to get in his full 10 miles, so after a bit of grousing, I followed along, and we finished up the 10 miles in 1:44. With yesterday's hike and today's run, it was a solid weekend., which I plan to follow up with a pretty mellow rest of the week in preparation for the race.

Flora and fauna report: There wasn't much opportunity to look around along the run, as if I looked up for more than a few seconds, I was liable to either hit a root, rock or stump, or miss one of the sharp turns along the route, but I did notice plenty of starflowers, bluets, wild strawberries, and one lone ladyslipper beginning to show itself from within its leaves, along the trailside.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baldface Hike

A beautiful May day and a great way to start our 2008 hiking season! We got in a really nice hike in Evans Notch, doing the Baldface Circle Trail loop up over both South and North Baldface summits. The hike was 9.8 miles, and it took us 5:20 with approximately 50 minutes of breaks. Not too bad for our first hike of the season and the rugged terrain. Snowman and I had done this hike with friends back when we were working at Sunday River, likely in the first summer after we were married, meaning it was *gulp* 8 years ago, and remembered it being a nice one. We had also heard it was a snow-free loop, so it seemed like a good option.

The first 2.5 miles to the shelter were pretty quick, but then we hit the ledges.
As some of our hiker friends may know, I am not that good on rocks, especially sloped rocks! So our pace ground to a halt, as Snowman had to help me maneuver many of the boulders and ledges. How did we do this long ago? Must have taken us all day... Anyway, the ledges up to South Baldface, and the summit itself, had some great views out into Evans Notch and over towards the Presidentials and the Wildcat/Carter ridgeline. Hiking is always better if there are beautiful views! We meandered along the ridge to the North summit, taking it all in.

On the descent, we ran into some great patches of snow, but nothing that was too difficult to get around.
We also ran into lots of hobblebush, which was attempting to take over the trail! Back down in the lower terrain, the bugs came out, but it is spring in New England, so we couldn't complain too much. After all, it was a great day to be out, and we both felt good!

Baldface Hike Photos

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another 3

Another short 3-miler to end the week at 25 miles. I did our "regular" 3 mile loop in the Commons, same as Snowman and I had done on Monday. A bit faster today, and felt less tired than yesterday. Nothing like a good sleep to make you feel better!

The plan for the weekend is to get in one longish run (8 miles or so) and one hike. It will be great to be back out hiking! In looking at our schedule through June--which is a bit nuts to say the least!-- it doesn't look like we'll be getting out on the trails much next month, but hope to fit in at least one overnight backpack and one day hike, both on the AT, in an attempt to start knocking off the miles. Can't wait!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Commute Another Way

This week is Commute Another Way week here in Maine. Cordelia and I had already talked about carpooling when we could, and decided this would be a good week to try. So today she is picking me up. With our schedules, we could only work out the one day this week, but it's a start. Since I won't be driving to work this morning, I thought I'd go "carless" all day. It's not often that I don't use a car at all. I'm either driving to work, to run or hike, to get groceries and do errands, etc. Amazing, when you think about it. Unfortunately, I work about 17 miles from where we live, and the drive is along Rt. 1, which I wouldn't want to bike even if I was a biker, as part of it is a 4-lane highway. So, driving it is.

Anyway, to further my "carless" day, I ran from home, heading down the powerlines for a 5+ mile out-and-back. Felt a bit tired, but didn't run any slower than the past few times I've run this route. Anyway, it was a beautiful morning to be out, and aside from the guy on a dirt bike who scared the pants off me down by Topsham Crossing as he roared past, the run was uneventful.

Flora and fauna reports: Saw an eastern towhee in the bushes by Highland Green, as well as a beautiful male goldfinch singing away, along with the requisite robins, sparrows, blue jays and others which I can't yet identify just by song alone. Oh yes, and one turkey! Lots of wood anemone and blueberry bushes in full bloom, as well as some rhodora coming into bloom too.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A "Non-Event"

As we finished up our 3 mile run in the Commons this afternoon, Snowman said, isn't it nice when 3 miles is a "non-event"? And yup, it is. The run started off a bit creakily, but my legs loosened up as the loop went on. It was a nice, easy "recovery" run, and good to know that I hadn't felt any real ill-effects from yesterday's run/hike. The wildflowers are really coming out in the Commons - we saw bluets, violets, wood anemones and a few goldthreads, along with the flowers beginning to bloom on the blueberry bushes. Nice!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

11 Miles at Camden Hills State Park

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all our family and friends who are moms :-)

On this fine Mother's Day, Snowman and I decided to head up Rt. 1 to Camden Hills State Park for a run/hike. Mostly we were hoping and planning to run, but knew we'd probably spend some time hiking, given the terrain.

We parked at the back entrance to the park and headed up the Snowmobile Trail. This is basically a wide gravel road that snowmobiles use in the winter, and hikers, walkers, runners and mountain bikers use in the summer. It is a great road to run on, but it starts off a rather good grade, all uphill, for the first mile or so. A tough start to the run! Still, it was a beautiful day, and we were planning to take it pretty easy, so we just chugged along. At 3 miles, we hit the Slope Trail, which we took up to Megunticook Summit. The Slope Trail was where we did most of our hiking. It was steep!

This took us up to the ridge, where we headed to Ocean Outlook, a rock outcropping with long views over Camden and the ocean beyond.

From there we headed down to the Jack Williams Trail, one we have never used before, which traversed along the bottom of the ridge. This trail wound through the open woods, and we saw many wildflowers! As we hit the Ridge Trail again, and headed up to the junction with Zeke's Trail, I was starting to feel a bit tired. We'd been out for 1:30, with a ways to go. But after a Gu packet (ummm... chocolate...), we headed on, enjoying the grassy treadway. The last trail we hit before getting back to the Snowmobile Trail was the Sky Blue Trail, a neat single track trail that winds through the woods. Once back on the Snowmobile Trail, it was almost all downhill. We finished up in 2:13. A solid, if tough, 11 miles, and a great area to run in! Definitely a nice morning :-)

See photos of our run here.

After a bit of stretching and clothes changing, we headed into Camden for lunch. Although we had just run for over 2 hours, neither of us could quite finish off our yummy and very filling egg scrambles. Somehow the exertion of a long run leaves my stomach unable to take in much food, at least initially! I'm sure I'll eat a fair amount at dinner tonight :-)

Flora and fauna report: Snowman spotted a Black & White Warbler along the Jack Williams Trail, which is also where we saw most of the wildflowers. Wild oats, red wake robin trillium, purple and white violets, a few bluets and goldthreads, and one or two wood anemones.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Over to the Dark Side

We try to be good little hippies by driving our hybrid when we can, joining a nearby CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), going to the farmer's market, have replaced our light bulbs with CFL bulbs, put water-saving devices on our showerhead and sinks, recycling, refilling our dishwashing soap containers with bulk eco-friendly detergents at the local green store, buying non-bleached, recycled paper goods at the local health food store, not eating at McDonald's, etc. But really, we haven't gone all out and we could certainly do more. We don't compost (we should), we still drive a lot - often to remote trailheads so we can hike in the woods and get dirty and smelly all the while walking north under the white blazes of the AT, etc. But we do try our best.

Anyway, the point of all this, is that I've always prided myself with supporting local businesses when we can, and not frequenting the big box stores like Walmart. Well, now we've gone and done it...

We've joined Sam's Club. We've joined the Dark Side.

Crap. What went wrong? We've resisted all this time... But there is something alluring about all the bulk items you can buy for cheap at Sam's Club. We finally had to be practical and realize that we were better off buying some of our non-perishables there. I mean where else can you get a 36-pack of Reese's Fast Breaks for $16.18? Or a huge 67 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer for $6.73? Yes, these are things we use, especially during hiking season, and it's hard to pass these deals up! Of course, we managed to spend a rather ridiculous sum of money in our hour there tonight, but hopefully, it means in the long run we have more left over to buy more good, local, organic produce at the farmer's markets... or at least more $$ to drive to the trailheads this summer!

Friday, May 9, 2008

30-Mile Week

Got in a 6-mile run in the Commons this morning to round out the week. And a 30-mile week, at that! Now, I know to many runners, a 30-mile week isn't anything special. But for me, for early May, it's pretty good! And of the past eight weeks of running, all but one have been 20 or above. All told, I think it's been a solid spring. Hopefully that will translate into a good race at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge and a strong summer of hiking and running. Speaking of the Pineland Farms Trails Challenge, we have a fun contingent joining us! Nate and Shannon, with Nate running the 50k; Peyron, with Vicky joining us as our cheering squad since she's running the Covered Bridge 1/2 Marathon the next week; and Tank and Willow, up visiting from VA. Should be a blast! I'm definitely looking forward to it :-)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hiking Season?

As you may have noticed, the "Plug" half of Team Snowplug has done all the posting here at the Team Snowplug blog. I thought it was about time for the "Snow" half to chime in. To, most likely, drag this blog down. The initial plan was to use this blog to post the reports from our hikes on the AT—hopefully, our hikes of us finishing the AT this summer. But, D became addicting to posting, so she's been blah blah blahing like crazy. Time for me to blah blah, and talk about hiking.

We haven't gotten out hiking yet this season, but we've definitely been thinking about it. We have 287 miles to go and limited vacation time. It's going to be a busy summer. I think we'll be able to get it all done this summer, but we'll have to be focused. I'm pretty excited to get out and finish up these remaining miles.

One of the tricks will be actually getting to these hikes. Section hiking is logistically difficult. It's really hard. We have to get rides here and there; take car a to point b along with car c and drive back to point d hike to point b to pick up car a and then drive to point d to pick up car c...or something like that. It's also going to be even more difficult this summer because most of the trail we've yet to hike is in Maine, and the trail in Maine is fairly remote. We also have to deal with potential road closures due to logging and ferry schedules over the Kennebec. It really is a logistical nightmare. The moral of the story: Don't get injured trying to thruhike. It's a pain in the butt...or back in my case.

That being said, I'm really looking forward to it. Our section hike to complete the AT has been completely different experience from our attempted thruhike. And now, a couple years removed from the disappointment of 2005, I actually am glad it worked out this way. We've been able to experience both ways to hike the AT. It's been fun, and I'm sure it will be the same this summer...especially because we don't have to hike in Pennsylvania. PA sucks.

Quick 3-Miler

I had every intention of running 5 miles this morning. But when the alarm went off, I could hear the rain falling on the skylights, and didn't feel like moving. Eventually Snowman arose as he was headed to NH for a morning meeting. I got up and got the coffee going, got his lunch packed, and it was still raining. I decided I would put off today's run. I could always run after work... Or make up some of the mileage tomorrow... OK, so if I wasn't going to run, I decided to start cleaning. I got the downstairs dusted and vacuumed, and realized it had stopped raining. It was 7:55. I could squeeze in a 3 mile run if I hurried. So I did some quick stretching, put on my shoes and headed out the door and across the street to the Mt. Ararat trails for a run. I'm glad I decided to go for it, as I know that I am not really an after-work sort of runner. I much prefer to run in the morning, and have it done. It feels like a good start to the day to get a run in before work. I have to admit that my work makes it easy to run in the mornings. I don't even have to get up all that early. Definitely a perk of the job to not have to be to work until 9:30 or 10:00, depending on the time of year!

In other news, yesterday on my way home from work, just after passing the New Meadow River in Bath, a beautiful bald eagle flew overhead, swooping down low over Rt. 1. Neat!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Into the Commons

I headed over to the Commons this morning for my run. Sometimes it seems silly to drive over to the field house when I can run right from home on the powerlines, but the Commons are nice and mellow, and that was what I wanted today. I started with a field loop and then headed into the Commons. My legs felt a bit leaden, perhaps because I didn't run yesterday and probably didn't do quite enough stretching after the 12 mile Pinelands run on Monday. Oh well. Ran the 6 miles a bit slower than I've done it in the past few weeks, but that isn't really a problem. I know I often run too fast, anyway.

Regardless of the leaden legs, it was good to be out on a beautiful morning.

Flora and fauna report: Bluets are making their appearance in amongst the grasses and along the field edges. Also saw some starflowers and one patch of what I believe is Trailing Arbutus. No ladyslippers yet, but hopefully within the next few weeks.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fun at Pinelands

After a few good looks at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge map last night, we decided to start at the "start" and head out onto the course together. Snowman was planning to run about 6 miles with me, and then I would continue on alone. I had told him last week that I thought the beginning of the race course was much rougher than the Oak Hill section we ran together last week. Nothing is flat. It's lots of ups and downs, over and over. The fields and the trails through the woods were more rutted and uneven, and today after all the rain we were wet and muddy almost immediately. Oh well. It's all part of the trail running game :-) Still, I wasn't sure he believed me that it would be that much rougher, until we were both struggling after a few miles... I have to admit I'm glad I'm only signed up for the 25k. I think doing two laps of this course is going to be really tough! More power to you, Nate!

Anyway, we powered on, and when we got to the yurt, I expected Snowman to turn around, but he decided to continue on with me. I was happy to have him join me, as it meant I didn't have to interpret the map :-) and I had someone to run with for longer too!

When we got back to the car, Snowman stopped, having gone much farther than expected (about 9.5 miles). Yeah Snowman! We were both pretty spent, and I have to admit that those 9.5 miles were much harder than I expected. I was really tempted to stop, and almost did, but pulled things back together after about 30 seconds, and continued on across the street. I did the inner Oak Hill loop, adding 2.5 miles onto the run, finishing in 1:57. OK, so I didn't get in 14 miles, but the 12 I did get in were more than enough!

To all you other crazies who have signed up for this race, definitely be prepared for a challenge!

Flora and fauna notes: Despite the huffing and puffing that I was doing along the trail, I was really happy to see lots of blooming trout lilies and a few red wake robin trillium too. I am not sure Snowman really appreciated the trillium, as he gave me a very rude gesture when I pointed them out to him as we were running up one particularly stiff hill!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rain Rain Rain

The rain started yesterday, and combined with the 40 degree weather, has made for a very raw weekend. I had a 14 mile run on the schedule for today, but looking at the weather, decided I'd wait and do the long run on Monday, after things had dried out a bit and warmed up, and just try to sneak in a 3-miler today. Snowman and I started off our day today with a visit to the Broadway Deli for a yummy breakfast. Shannon and little Finley joined us, while Nate and Kevin went for a previously planned long run. I thought our morning plan was a much better option than theirs! :-) We had a nice leisurely breakfast, did a few errands and sat around on the couch, watching the rain fall. Eventually, around 3pm, the rain had become a slight drizzle, and Snowman decided it was now or never. We did a nice 3-mile loop in the Commons, getting a bit wet from the rain and a bit wet from the puddles, but happy to get out and start off the week with a run despite the weather.

Tomorrow's plan is to head to the Pinelands and run most of the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge course. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Run

After taking the day off yesterday, I got out this morning for a run along the powerlines. I actually had intended to run yesterday, but Snowman is sick (and very angry about it!), I don't want to get sick and was feeling pretty tired, so decided taking the day off was better than getting in another 3 miles this week. Another chilly start to the morning, but bright beautiful blue skies so I can't complain. I did the same route as last Friday. It's really quite a nice run, with some long flat stretches but also a few good hills.

Flora and fauna report for today: Saw two mallards down by Topsham Crossing, as well as a cardinal and many sparrows along the way. The forsythia are brilliant yellow, and other trees and shrubs are beginning to bud. Also noticed one small patch of purple violets down by my turn-around point near the church.

Another sure sign of spring is that the Brunswick Farmer's Market is open on the town green! Hurray :-) I stopped by on my way into work and picked up some fresh picked spinach and lettuce to make a salad tonight. Yum. There are also a lot of farmers there with plants and herbs, so I'll have to stop back in a few weeks to pick up some new plants for my garden.