Thursday, October 30, 2008

Commons Loop

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Morning Jaunt

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Afternoon Walk in the Woods

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

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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stomping Through Puddles

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recovery Zone

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feels Like Winter

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's Next?

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

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

Thanks for reading :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 MDI Marathon Fun and Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We Did It!

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

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

And now it's off to bed...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost Time

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

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

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Serious Taper

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

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

Only a few days to go...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marathon Hopes

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Out to the Ocean

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Winter Menu

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2008

Beautiful Fall Morning

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

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


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

I am not.

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

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

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

Ah yes, I am soooo stylish :-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Carriage Road Run

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

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

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

Running and Marathon Recon on Mt. Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 3, 2008

End of the Week

Finally, a morning filled with sunshine! I headed out a little before 7am to run the powerlines. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the winterberries and rosehips are beginning to show bright red as the rest of the foliage along the lines turns the fall hues of yellow, brown and maroons. It was a good, but uneventful, run and with that, I finish out this week at 38 miles. Easy to do with a 21-miler thrown in :-)

We're meeting up with some of the Trail Monster Runner crew tomorrow night for beers at Novare Res in Portland, which should be fun, and then Sunday morning we're headed up for an overnight to Mt. Desert Island. Snowman really wanted to drive the course beforehand, and as it sounds like there are some decent hills in the last few miles, it will be good to get a feel for the terrain and mentally have an idea of what we'll be facing. Plus, we know that when we're up for the marathon, we won't have the chance to enjoy the park, which is truly beautiful and one of our favorite places. We're planning a 12-mile run on the carriage roads on Sunday, and then some sort of hike/walk on Monday, depending on how Snowman's plantar fasciitis is feeling.

My boss had really wanted to treat us to a night out on Monhegan Island this summer, which would have been great and was really nice of him. Unfortunately, it just never panned out with schedules, etc. Guess, we'll just have to add it to the list to do next year! So, instead, he's treating us to a night at the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, the town where the marathon finishes. Isn't that nice?! Perhaps a bit much for the two of us regular old 30-somethings, but it will be fun, and besides, it's free :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rain and New Shoes

Another soggy morning run this morning. I headed out at 7am from the field house into the Commons. Man, it was dark and spooky in the woods! I felt like I should have had my headlamp on for the first 15 minutes or so, even though in theory it should have been plenty light at that time of the morning. But on the bright side, I did have on a new pair of Inov-8 Roclite 315s, sent to me by Maine Running Company after a long back-order, and so my steps, while splashing through the puddles, were nice and springy!

I had originally intended to run 8 miles, but as it was pouring and I was soaked, I made the decision to cut 2 miles off today's run and tack them onto tomorrow's run instead. At this point in my training, I don't think splitting the miles up is going to make too big of a difference in how I run the marathon. So, 6 miles it was, and then home to take a warm shower and have a big cup of coffee!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What's Next?

As I was running my soggy three miles this morning, I was thinking about the question everyone seems to keep asking us: What's next?

It is a funny thing, this whole 'finished with the AT' state that we are now in. It has been in the forefront of our thoughts and activities for so long now. Four years, and more. And now, there are no more white blazes to walk by. The journey north is done. So, what is next? What will keep us busy now? What will keep us motivated?

Well, for the next few weeks, the MDI Marathon is certainly the focus. I am glad we had this race on the horizon after the 100 Mile Wilderness. It's kept us going. Even though we were tired, our feet hurt, our legs were cut and bruised, we couldn't just plop on the couch and rest. The marathon is coming up fast. There is no time for relaxation :-)

I do plan to rest a bit after the marathon, but not for too long! There's nothing worse than sitting around during the dreary dark days of November. Although I do like Thanksgiving, I'm not that fond of the rest of November. The days get shorter, the beautiful fall foliage is gone, and it's getting colder, but not cold enough that the ground is covered with snow. Snowman and I are planning to run the Feaster Five in Andover, MA on Thanksgiving Day, and are hoping his sister will join us and run the 5k option.

OK, so that takes care of short-term goals and plans.

And for 2009? For now, the following races and ideas are rolling around in my brain as things I'd like to do...

The Mid Winter 10 Mile Classic on February 1.
The Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 50k on May 24. This is no doubt bound to become a tradition. Team Sonic Death Monkey will hopefully be out there in rare form again this coming year! And yes, I plan to run the 50k. Snowman does too. Yes, we are crazy. But really, why not?
I'm also intrigued by The Stone Cat Marathon, which is in early November. It's supposed to be a cool race put on by a crazy bunch of runners.
Certainly, Ian's Trail Monster Running races at Bradbury will be in the list too. And likely, the Merrimack River 10 miler in April.

So to make a long story short, a fair amount of running and racing.

But although I do love running, I can't give up on hiking. I've always been proud of the fact that Snowman and I have made a point of getting out hiking and exploring new areas, and don't just hang around on the weekends. With that in mind, we plan to hike the newly opened Grafton Loop Trail at some point next summer and would like to go back to the Gulf Hagas area. I'd also like to check out the new Maine Huts and Trails system that is being built. And I am already pushing for us to work on our now remaining 170 or so miles on the Long Trail (the AT and LT coincide for the first 100 miles). We've done a good chunk of it, why not do the rest?!

Needless to say, I don't think there's too much fear of us becoming lethargic and sitting around too much on the couch eating bonbons. OK, well, maybe just a bit... but only after a good run or hike :-)