Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cold Run in the Commons

OK, so not cold in comparison to some of the temps I ran in this winter, but cold for April 30. 35 degrees and a frosty windshield as I headed over to the Commons this morning. But it was good to see bright blue skies and sunshine after all the dreary rainy weather we've had over the past day and a half. One of the local news stations is reporting 6 inches of rain here in Brunswick! Now that is a lot of water. Needless to say, things were a bit muddy and wet in the Commons, with the few streams to be crossed overflowing. But it was good to get out. To get in the six miles on my schedule, I did a field loop and then the out-and-back in the Commons. A nice mellow run.

Flora and fauna report: Things are starting to look green, and most of the plants in my garden are emerging from under the mulch. Saw two goldfinch in the Commons, as well as a male cardinal. Also have a few Robins enjoying the "lake" out behind our condo, as well as a Hermit Thrush! Cool.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April Showers

After three weeks of no rain, we are currently having a deluge. Our condo is now lakeside! Needless to say, it is a good day to take off and stay inside.

Hopefully things will warm up after the rain stops, and all the plants in my garden will grow like crazy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pineland Farms Run

After a yummy breakfast at Broadway Deli with Doug and Lucy, Snowman and I headed over to Pineland Farms for a run. I had plans for 12 miles on the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge course, and Snowman was going to join me for part of it. I know he really wanted to run all 12 with me, but as he's just getting back into his running routine after 22 days of "off - calf", that didn't seem like a good idea.

Looking at the map, we figured if we started with the Oak Hill section of trail, that would give Snowman approximately 5 miles, and then I'd continue on. Although we've skied a fair amount at Pineland, I've never run there before. The trails are nice for running, wide and rolling. But really nothing is flat. Still, some good running. After we finished up the Oak Hill loop, Snowman continued onto the Campus Loop with me for a bit. We took one wrong turn, but managed to get back on track. Once we did, Snowman turned back and I continued on alone. The trails wound through the fields and then into the woods. The trail wandered along the river, and I crossed a pretty stream with moss-covered boulders and a small waterfall. I saw many trout lily leaves coming up through the leaf litter along the trail as well as a few trillium, not yet blooming but budding. Hurray for the spring wildflowers :-)

I got a bit off track around the yurt, which is at a trail junction of 6 different trails. But after a bit of backtracking, I wound my way back across to the Campus Loop. Then it started to sprinkle. Good timing, though, as I was almost back to the parking lot. Snowman was waiting for me in the start/finish clearing for the race, and we walked back to the car together. I had intended to run 12 miles, but finished up in 1:41, which I figured was 11 miles. I could have gone on to run another 10 minutes, but it was raining, I was feeling pretty tired, and Snowman had been waiting for an hour, so I figured 11 was good enough... All in all, a good run, and great to get out on the course to see how it ran. I think the race will be tough, but should be a great time!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Powerlines Run

I feel sort of like a broken record, but another beautiful day here in Maine! Bright and sunny and 40 degrees when I started my run. I decided to head out on the powerlines from home. Snowman has gone farther along them than I have, so I talked with him to make sure he felt comfortable with me running alone out there and he did, so I decided to go for it. The powerlines are great, as they are truly a mix of steep ups and downs combined with some nice flat stretches. Later on in the run, the trail went through some nice open field areas, which were actually quite pretty. I decided to try mapping out the run quickly on, which is a pretty cool website, and it indicated my out-and-back was 5.25 miles. Glad it was a bit longer than 5 miles as it took me 49 minutes. I was definitely trying to take it easy, but 10 minute miles might have been a bit too easy! Anyway, I felt good on the run, and it finished off a 25 mile week for me, which I'm pretty happy about.

Flora and fauna notes: Lots of birds chirping away! On my way toward Topsham Crossing, a mallard duck was in the middle of the trail. There are some swampy shallow pools off to the left of the trail, and when I got about 2 feet from him, he finally flapped away into the water. On the way back through, there were three mallards (all males with brilliant green heads shimmering in the sun) in the water. Who knew?

On another running related note, Snowman went for a 3-mile test run this morning and said he felt good! Yeah :-) I'm sure you can read more about it at some point soon on his blog.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mid-Week Runs

It has been an absolutely gorgeous week here along the coast of Maine! Wow! Warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Can't beat it.

After the long run on Monday, I went for a short 3-miler Tuesday morning over on the powelines across the street. Just a few small patches of snow, and a fair bit of mud, remain. Other than that, pretty dry. My quads were a bit sore and overall I felt a bit stiff, but nothing too much to complain about.

I took yesterday off, and headed over to the Commons this morning for a 5-mile out and back. Ran into Nate and Kevin, who were headed out as I was headed in. They got an early start! It was a nice mellow run on a beautiful morning. I can't wait to start seeing the ladyslippers come up in a few weeks, but for now, I contented myself with listening to the birds sing and taking in the bright greens of the skunk cabbage and the hints of red in the budding trees.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Snowman's Women's Olympic Marathon Trials

Check out Snowman's recap and video of the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Good video Snowman!

Shorts and 12 Miles

Another sunny and warm spring day, and the day to get in my first 12-miler of the season. Also my first run in shorts this year!

Snowman was nice enough to give up his second cup of coffee and his seat on the couch in front of the TV watching the Boston Marathon to drop me off at the Bowdoin field house, and then map out a course that would include 5 miles in the Commons (2.5 out and 2.5 back). I had contemplated running the Highland loop off Pleasant Hill, but thought 12 miles on the pavement might be a bit much. Doing 5 on dirt and 7 on the roads seemed like a better option. The run had me heading out through the Commons, then out through Pennelville and down to Simpson's Point. It was high tide and the sun was shimmering off the ocean. Beautiful. I then headed back up Simpson's Point Road onto Maquoit Bay and then turned right on Middle Bay back to the Commons. When I arrived back at the field house, I'd completed 10 miles, so this will be a good 10 mile option in the future. To round out the last two miles, I headed down Longfellow to Maine Street and continued on Maine out to the Middle Bay junction. These last two miles were the toughest, but overall I have to say I felt pretty good. As always, I probably ran a bit faster than I should have for a long training run--finishing in 1:46--but oh well.

Flora and fauna report for the run: Saw one turtle sunning himself on the second pond heading out into the Commons, and saw a few chickadees, robins and blue jays. While buds are appearing on the trees, none of the woodland flowers are emerging yet. Still a bit too early.

Strange items seen along the roadside: Three 25-pound dumbbells, rusting along the side of Simpson's Point Road, as well as a metal futon frame. Can't help but wonder, did these items fall off the back of a truck unintentionally and no one noticed? Or were they left there on purpose? And where was the fourth dumbbell?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Women's Olympic Marathon Trials

Yeah Blake! Congratulations on making it to the US Olympic Marathon team :-) We are so proud of you and were so excited to be in Boston to see you race. Amazing!

To sum it up, this was an awesome race to watch.

We got up at the crack of dawn and walked to the T from our friend Neal and Kendra's place. I knew it was going to be a cool day, when at 7:15 on a Sunday morning, the Green line was packed with people either in Boston Marathon jackets, running clothes or, like me, in jeans with running shoes. And the crowds only got bigger once we arrived at Hynes Convention Center. People were lining the street, cheering. It was pretty amazing to see all these people out supporting the 160+ women athletes who had qualified to run in the Trials.

The city of Boston, USA Track and Field, and the BAA put on a great race. The course was very spectator friendly. We saw the start and then managed to catch Blake and the rest of the pack another 7 times before the finish. The spectators, as I mentioned before, were amazing.

And the athletes... what can I say? To see these women racing together was spectacular. They were running some serious miles at a seriously fast pace. As a woman, it was incredibly inspiring to see all these women running at such a high level together, as well as to see the support the spectators were giving them. It was way way way cool. What more can I say?

You can watch the MSNBC video here. Snowman took some video and photos as we watched the race progress and I'll try to post them later.

Needless to say, it was a great day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Run in the Commons

As I write this, it is currently 60 degrees, already! Hurray for spring :-) When I headed out for my run this morning, the car thermometer was reading 45, but that's still pretty nice. Nice enough for no gloves, which is a first this spring for me. I did a loop around the Bowdoin playing fields and then headed down onto the connector to the Commons. Things were pretty dry, with only a few stubborn patches of snow remaining, mostly in the Commons themselves where the amount of traffic through the winter has packed down the snow. It was a beautiful morning, and as I'm sure I've mentioned in recent posts, great to get out on the trails and be running on dirt and not snow or pavement all the time! I'm excited the Commons is pretty much snow-free, as I have multiple 5-mile runs on my schedule over the next few weeks, and the Commons is perfect as an out-and-back 5 miler.

Flora and fauna report for today: The woods were pretty quiet this morning, with the exception of all the birds chirping in the trees. The skunk cabbage is emerging from the swampy areas and there seems to be a hint of color on some of the tree branches, but not much. Of the three visible osprey nests along Route 1 on my way to work, two currently have pairs guarding the nest. I always love to see these distinctive birds, sitting high in their nests, set against the blue sky, as I drive north.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Early Run

The birds and Ronnie woke me up at 4:30 this morning. There is at least one male cardinal in our "woods" who has been singing his heart out. Add in a few robins, and they're pretty noisy. I did go back to sleep for a bit, but headed out the door at 6:15 for a quick run. I had originally planned to run a longer run yesterday morning, but couldn't quite get myself out of bed. So a short 3-mile run today before heading into work, and a 6-miler tomorrow should round out the week nicely. Today I headed out onto the trails around Mt. Ararat. These, combined with a bit of running on the powerlines and up the road to the tower, make for a good loop. The snow has completely melted off the backside of the Mt. Ararat hill, but there are still some pretty big and deep pockets of it in the woods. These required a bit of maneuvering, but all told, it was nice to be back in the woods. A beautiful morning too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mud and Snow

I've now taken two short runs since the race on Saturday, and feel pretty good. Perhaps this means I did not push quite hard enough during the race, but oh well... I'm happy to feel good. Although part of me feels bad for feeling good when Snowman feels so bad. He's still having issues with his calf strain and has resigned himself to another week of not running. Always depressing, but even more so as it is spring and all you want at this time of year is to get outside! However, all is not lost, and he should be good to go soon. Keep your fingers crossed!

Anyway, this morning I set out on the powerlines in my Inov-8s. I ran the lines down past Topsham Crossing, a 3-mile out and back. It was 31 degrees when I left the house and the surface throughout the run ranged from pavement and packed dirt to deep dry sand, to wet sand, to packed icy snow, to frozen mud, to shoe-sucking mud, to frozen sand, to hoar frost, to mud on top of ice, and back. Certainly kept things exciting, and it was great to get back out on the powerlines for a full, if short, run.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Merrimack River Trail Race

When the alarm went off at 6:30am, all I could hear was the rain pounding on the rooftop. Ugh. Things did not look good. I was feeling pretty unmotivated for a 10-mile run in the rain, especially with Snowman not running. After about a half hour of mental back and forth about the pros and cons of running and not running, I finally decided to suck it up and tough it out, no matter the weather. Snowman said he was prepared to drag me into the car if necessary, but I knew that I would be more miserable if I didn't run than if I did. So off we went. And amazingly, despite the hard rain on the way to the race, the weather improved and the skies cleared as it got closer to the 9am start.

The venue was a strange one. The race started in the parking lot of a Wyndham Hotel right off I-93 in Andover. At the edge of the parking lot was the beginning of the Merrimack River Trail. Who would have known?

The course was an out-and-back. The first three miles, and therefore, the last three miles, were supposedly flat and right along the river. In talking with a few people in line for the Port-a-Potties before the race, it sounded like miles 4 and 5 were a series of pretty tough hills, which then, of course, you had to repeat on the way back to the start. I had already planned on trying to take it easy at the start, since I really had no idea what the course would be like, but after a few horror stories of the hills, it sounded like I should make sure to have a good amount of energy left for those middle four miles.

We lined up for the start, and promptly at 9am, off we went. There was a pretty good log jam at the beginning, as we all funneled into the woods, and immediately into the mud. For the first mile there was a fair amount of jockeying for a spot in the single file line along the narrow single track that was the trail. As promised, the trail was fairly flat, but there was a lot of mud as well as a few streams that had to be crossed. Oh well, might as well get wet right at the beginning and be done with it! The trail was right on the edge of the river, which was running pretty high. Around mile 2.5, one of the small streams flowing into the river had truly overflowed, and there was no option other than to just go right through the cold, knee-high water for about 12 steps. Brrr!!

At mile 4, as promised, the hills started. I'd compare them to some of the New York PUDs (pointless ups and downs) on the AT. Steep on both sides, and still a very narrow single track. Soon after the mile 4 marker, Kevin Tilton, the lead runner, who we know from North Conway, came screaming past in the opposite direction. This meant that in the same time I had run four miles, he had run six miles. D**m, he is fast. And yup, he ended up finishing 33 minutes ahead of me, and four minutes ahead of the rest of the pack. A few minutes after Kevin passed us by, the stream of runners in the opposite direction became pretty constant. All of us mid-pack runners did our best to get out of their way, but it was easier said than done at some points. I kept up a stream of "woohoo!" and "good job!" as they passed us by, so much so, that the guy in front of me pointed out that I sure had a lot of extra energy :-)

I hit the mile 5 turn-around and managed to pass a few of the guys ahead of me who stopped for water. From there on out, I was by myself. I tried to catch up with the two women who were a few hundred yards ahead of me, but couldn't quite close the gap. The hills were a bit more difficult on the return trip, and I was happy to hit the flats. At mile 7, my watch read 1:05. I was hoping to get under 1:30 for the finish, and knew I'd have to pick it up to reach that goal. I ended up finishing in 1:30:27. Oh those 28 seconds to get under 1:30. Oh well. I ended up 87th of 183 and 11th of 52 women.

Overall, I was pretty happy with how I ran the race. It was a good course and a fun group of people! Plus it was great to be running on dirt and not roads or snow! I actually ended up, after changing about 6 times, wearing an outfit appropriate for the temperatures, unlike many racers, as evidenced by the trail of discarded shirts and jackets that I passed on my way back to the finish! :-) Aside from taking off my gloves a few miles in, I was pretty comfortable as the temps rose and the sun came out later in the race.

When I came into the finish, Snowman said, "Good job! Can't talk now, working." After we all took off at the start, he kept himself busy helping the timing crew at the finish. I am sure it was pretty depressing to see us take off running and leave him behind, and he was a good sport to help out the crew.

They had a good spread of food and drink at the end, as well as a raffle, presided over by one of the race directors who just kept cracking me up. Certainly had lots of energy!

Overall, a great race, and I'm sure we'll be back next year, with both of us running! :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Today it feels as if spring has arrived at last. It is currently 58 degrees, the sun is shining, there are no clouds in the sky, the snow is melting... The daffodils and lilies that I planted by the front door are starting to emerge... Saw three osprey and one turkey vulture floating on the air currents on the way up to work... Yeah!

I got in a nice 4 mile run yesterday morning before work. Amazing how much snow had melted on the backside of Mt. Ararat between Monday and Wednesday. I'll head out for a mellow 3 mile run tomorrow to get the blood flowing in preparation for Saturday's race.

Of course, the forecast for Saturday is 39 degrees and rainy. It seems the weather gods don't want us to be able to enjoy a beautiful spring day for the Merrimack River Trail Race. Oh well... guess it's going to be wet, cold and muddy. That's what we get for signing up for a race in April!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Quick Run

Went for a quick 3-mile run this morning on the same route as Friday's run. There had been a pretty heavy frost overnight and the snow on the backside of the Mt. Ararat hill was nicely packed at 6:45am. I'm taking it easy this week before the Merrimack River race on Saturday, and will probably just do two other short mellow runs mid-week before the race. I'm hoping that Snowman will be joining me in running the race as planned, but we'll just have to play it by ear and see how he's feeling.

After my run, we headed to Portland to drop my parents off at the airport. We had a nice, if brief, visit with them this weekend, and ended up spending about 4 hours in Freeport on Sunday! Talk about power shopping :-) Snowman and I found a few things at LL Bean, a pair of trail shoes for Snowman and a new sun hat for me, and Mom and Dad did their part to stimulate the Maine economy!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Back Way into Highland Green

I only had a 3-mile run on the schedule for this morning, so I would have gone out even if it had been raining or snowing, but that wasn't necessary. I awoke to overcast skies, but didn't have to deal with any precipitation during my run. Of course, it's raining as I write this, but at least it's not snowing!

I decided to try something a bit different today. I headed across the street into the Mt. Ararat High School driveway and veered off onto the gravel road that leads up to the tower on the hill behind the school. The way had been cleared up to the top at some point recently, so there was no snow to deal with. I took a few steps off the road onto one of the trails I run the summer to check it out, but immediately postholed up to mid-calf and was pitched forward onto my hands and knees. OK, not today.

Back onto the road and up the short hill I went. I then continued on the old paved road on the backside of the hill, which had not been plowed, but which had seen a fair amount of snowmobile traffic and was packed down. It appeared I was not the only runner or walker who had headed up this way. There were quite a few footprints, making the surface pretty uneven, but still runnable in a careful sort of way. Having my Inov-8s on helped a lot too. The road leads down to a construction area for Highland Green, where I veered right and popped out on the main Highland Green drag by the clubhouse. I did a few minutes on the road to round the numbers out, and headed back the way I had come in. Not bad. I was only on the pavement for about half of the run, and it was nice to not be doing the same out-and-back down the Connector.

After my run, as I was eating breakfast and putzing around the kitchen cleaning up, a flock of approximately 20 juncos swooped into the backyard. A few sparrows and chickadees were in the mix too. Ronnie was going crazy. He hunches down by the patio door, his tail twitches and he makes these cute little 'meows' as if to say, "let me at 'em!" It was neat to see the birds flitting around out back, chasing each other through the trees and grazing on the ground which has just recently emerged from under the snowpack, and when I left for work, Ronnie was still by the door, entranced.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Morning Run

Yesterday I was not feeling motivated to run. The wind was howling, and I just didn't feel like dealing with it. If I could get into the woods, it wouldn't be as big of a deal, but on the bike path and on any of my "normal" road runs, a big wind is just not a fun thing to deal with. So, I put off my run until this morning. I was out by 6:40am, wandering the main road of Highland Green. The sky was blue, it was 30 degrees, very light wind, and the birds - robins, blue jays, chickadees - were singing like crazy.

On the way back, I was tempted by the sight of some dirt showing at the edge of the powerline trail between Highland Green and the high school. I knew there was still snow, but I figured it was worth a try. Better than the 1/2 mile on the Connector. And amazingly there was some real honest to goodness ground showing in spots. Woo hoo! Of course, there was just as much snow. As it was early and not too warm, the snow was firm. It had also been packed down by the snowmobilers too, so I was able to stay on the surface, and as I was wearing my Inov-8s, I had good purchase on the icy surface. Once it warms up a bit, the powerlines won't be much fun until the snow is all melted, but this morning, for just that small portion, it was a nice change.

Speaking of snow, there is 100% chance of snow tomorrow. Gotta love spring in Maine.