Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trail Monster Fat Ass

We awoke this morning to the sound of freezing rain pelting down on the skylights. Snowman was none too happy. This morning was the Trail Monsters Fat Ass race/run, starting at Chuck's house. Despite the weather, we had already said we would be there, and we didn't want to be the wimps of the group, so off we went.

There was a good crew assembled - Ian, Emma, Jamie, Stephen, Jim, Mindy, Dora, Floyd, George, Blaine, Dave, Matt, Alan and Chuck. Katy, her mom, Brooke the dog and all their cats were manning the aid station (their house) for the race, which was very nice! The route took us out onto some snowmobile trails and into the trail system at Hedgehog Mountain in a 5 mile loop. Everyone ran varying distances, with Ian, Floyd and Alan completing the full 50k, and Stephen running 13 miles to the race and finishing off a few laps to get 50k as well. Way to go guys!

Despite the early morning weather conditions, the day turned into a nice one with bright blue skies.

We headed out in one big group for the first loop, as we wound through the field and woods. The fields had some nice big puddles along the snowmobile trail, so on the way back, we took a "short cut" on the opposite side of the field. Not so much! There was much postholing, cursing and laughter.

Despite that one stretch, conditions were better than I had originally expected, and the trails around Hedgehog Mountain were really nice. Not to mention adding a good hill climb in the middle of the loop. Needless, to say the overall pace wasn't quick, but it was fine for the conditions.

After the first loop, the group split up a bit and I headed out with Matt, Dora and Mindy at the back of the pack for the second time around. We had fun chatting along the way. I really wanted to do a third loop, but figured it would be wiser to take it easy and not push it with my back. Although I have to say, it felt so much better after the 10 miles than before, and seems to now be feeling pretty normal.

Snowman, Mindy and Dora did a third loop, and upon their return, we enjoyed sitting in the sun in Chuck and Katy's house, eating donuts, cookies, Pringles, soup and chatting as people came in and out on additional loops. It was a fun time, and a good run!

More photos of the day here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh My Aching Back!

My back was killing me yesterday. Ugh. Very tight. I figured I would get up and get in a short, slow run this morning in the hopes that getting some blood flowing through the muscles would do me some good. I headed to the bike path for 3 miles. Not much of excitement. My back was still twinging a bit, but felt a bit better. It was warm out at 7am - 35 degrees! Wow. Felt like spring.

I'm hoping some good stretching, massaging and a few heat packs will do away with the aches today. And could someone call in the gods to freeze up the snowmobile trails around Chuck's house for tomorrow's Fat Ass?! Otherwise, we're going to be running in mush, like Snowman did yesterday...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to the Bike Path

I took yesterday as a rest day, and spent time doing errands, etc, as well as going to the Bowdoin Art Museum. However, although the museum has a nice collection, I was disappointed to see that the main exhibit downstairs was what I felt to be a rather uninspiring photography exhibit. I really wish they would showcase their Rockwell Kents, Winslow Homers and Maurice Prendergast works. Those are what I want to see. They did have up a nice Marsden Hartley and a few John Sloan works, but still. Ah well. Maybe next time.

This morning I headed to the bike path. I was unsure what I wanted to do mileage-wise, so the bike path offered some options. In the end, I was feeling good and the sun was shining, so I went the full 5.3 miles. There were a number of mallards swimming in the open waters along the river's edge, as well as what I assume was the same cardinal singing near the bridge that I saw last week, and the typical large group of robins. A good run and nice to be out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Freeing the Trees (or What a Difference a Day Makes!)

We awoke to about 8" of fresh, heavy snow. It looked gorgeous all stuck to the trees, but was so dense it wasn't even falling off the branches in the wind. After a lazy morning, we decided to head to Bradbury for an afternoon adventure. We got geared up, packed our backcountry skis and boots in the car and headed out. Hadn't used the boots in a while - they were a bit dusty :-)

We weren't the only ones wanting to get out and play in the snow - there were several cars in the parking lot, and one happy dude had just returned from skinning up and teleing down from the summit. As we were looking for a more mellow afternoon, we decided to head across the street to ski on some of the east side single track.

With the dense snow and lots of drooping trees, the pace wasn't fast, but it was a fun jaunt in the woods. We headed out on Lanzo, ducking under branches and doing a bit of gliding with a lot of snowshoeing on big skis :-) Somewhere along Ragan, we lost the trail, so we turned around. Instead of backtracking the whole way back, we headed up on the old road up to the Snowmobile Trail.

Snowman had to work pretty hard on the old road to break trail, but we finally crested the hill at the junction with the Snowmobile Trail. What a difference a day makes!

There had been no traffic and the trail was mostly obscured by drooping trees. We spent a fair amount of time trying to free the poor, delicate saplings from the snow so we could continue on our way, or ducking through the ones we couldn't free up. While we didn't get in too many miles (a grand total of 3.18 in our 1:38 out and about), it was a fun adventure and a nice way to explore the park!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Running at Bradbury

We met up with Ian and Jim to run at Bradbury this morning. Neither Snowman or I was feeling super energized, but the plan called for 10 miles, so there we were. With none of us having any concrete ideas of a specific route to be run, we ended up taking off onto the east side snowmobile trails. Jim and Ian set off at a blazing pace (or at least that's what it felt like to me!), and Snowman and I settled in at a slightly slower pace several feet behind.

It was a nice morning with no wind and overcast skies. The trails had been packed by snowmobiles, but the snow was still pretty loose and soft, and I felt myself working pretty hard on the first stretch of uphill trail. We reached the edge of the park a little before 2 miles, and then meandered downhill. The furthest I've gone on these trails is around 3 miles, so I got to see a few new miles of trail as we continued on through some fields and out to the large powerlines.

There we took a short break and waited for a few snowmobiles to pass us by. What do they think of us out there running along in our tights on the trails? As we made our way back, Jim dropped back to join me and Ian and Snowman drew away. Jim kept me amused the rest of the way with stories about cycling, motorcycle riding, Tang, beer and maple syrup, and his energy pulled me along back to the parking lot. We ended the run with 9.7 miles in 1:41:36. Close enough to 10 for me!

Ian nicely shared some yummy peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies after the run, and we hung out in the parking lot chatting and enjoying the warmer weather. Temps had risen over 20 degrees since the start of the run!

A few more photos here.

Almost forgot to note, both Snowman and I tried out our new Nathan packs today. Overkill on a run like this, but good to try them out. Mine was super comfortable and didn't move or rub at all. Nice! Definitely looking forward to trying it out on other longer runs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bike Path Run with the Garmin

I headed out this morning to run the bikepath. I figured the combination of 12 degree weather and all the mush we've received in the past few days would mean the road shoulders would be a mess. The bikepath is a bit boring, but it's safe. So, I strapped on the heart rate monitor, put the ginormous Garmin on my wrist, and off I went. It was actually a really nice morning out. Not much wind. Sunshine. Mist rising from the open river edge. Snow and ice covered trees. Very pretty. I meandered along, enjoying the morning and the run.

Overall, I was happy with the Garmin. It is big, but the numbers are large enough to read and it was nice to have instant stats while running! And the heart rate monitor felt pretty good. I was concerned that it might rub, but it didn't. Hurray. I know the Garmin will be more useful when we're out running on trails. It wasn't really necessary this morning as the bikepath is marked every 1/4 mile, but hey... had to try out the new toy! I finished the 5.3 mile run in 47:31 (8:56 pace) - how's that for exact?!

Flora and fauna notes: Saw a group of robins, all puffed up against the cold weather, as well as several chickadees, blue jays, mourning doves and one bright red cardinal singing his heart out. On my way to work, I was lucky enough to see a beautiful red fox bounding across Rt. 1 in Woolwich. I slowed up to let him pass by and watched him clear the snowbank on the other side in one single bound. Very graceful creature.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A New Toy!

The latest addition to our "gear store" has arrived. Snowman just went out to the mailbox and picked up the Garmin 305 that we ordered. Hurray! Now, we've held out for a long time in getting one of these ridiculous contraptions, but I must admit they do seem useful. Still, I just couldn't stomach spending so much money on one of them. However, last week I was surfing around and found that was selling them, new, for 43% off! After a brief conference with Snowman, and a pooling of our birthday money, we decided to go for it. How could we resist?

So, tonight's project is figuring out how to use the thing, seeing if it will actually fit on my wrist (it looks huge!) and hopefully taking it on my run tomorrow morning. Hurray for new toys :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Middle Bay

As I write, snow is falling, but this morning it was nice and sunny. I headed out for a road run to give my ankles a break after two uneven trail runs this weekend and skiing yesterday. I took it nice and easy, and enjoyed the mellow route around Middle Bay. I was hoping for 6 miles, but in fact the run fell a bit short at 5.8 miles. Ah well, still a nice run. Tomorrow is a rest day, and then I'll get one more run in on Friday to finish off the week.

In other news, I've taken to watching the eagle cams (yes, two of them) that has set up. Although it is still winter, the eagles are visiting the nests and these cameras offer a unique up-close view of these majestic birds at their nests which most of us don't get to see. Definitely check it out!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunny Afternoon at Pineland Farms

Shannon and I have really lucked out with our Tuesday afternoon visits to Pineland Farms. Today was another sunny and beautiful afternoon, and a great day to be out on the trails. Despite the warm weather, the snow is holding up well and things were groomed nicely. Today Shannon was sporting a new Kelty baby backpack, and Finley seemed to really love it. He was bopping around, smiling and enjoying the downhills. We headed out onto the Oak Hill trails and had a great time gliding along. A good, mellow hour out on the trails.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What to do on a February vacation day? Go to the beach!

Another relatively warm February day. And although it was a vacation day for most, it was just another typical day off for us. But I really wanted to get out and do something fun. Snowman wasn't up for skiing, and wanted to take it easy. So I suggested a run at Morse Mountain. In summer, the walk to up and over Morse Mountain out to Seawall Beach is busy. It's basically a walk on an old paved road, so it gets lots of traffic. We figured we'd have the place to ourselves today. So, imagine our surprise when we pulled up to a lot with 6 other cars! Guess everyone else had the same idea.

The way was a bit icy and we took our time, stopping to take photos along the way and enjoying the afternoon.

The route to the beach was a nice wander through the woods with some nice views out onto the marshy lowlands before we reached the beach. The late afternoon light was gorgeous and it was low tide - perfect for a little beach running!

More photos from the run here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Power of Facebook

For a long time, I just didn't get Facebook. But once I decided to see what all the fuss is about, I realize it's fun. It's a great way to catch up and keep up with friends, and today, it meant that Ian knew from my status that Snowman and I were planning to head to Bradbury for a run this morning. He commented that he and Emma were meeting Jim at 10am for 8 miles. So, we put it into high gear and decided to meet up with them. Not that running with just Snowman isn't fun, but we figured it would be nice to get a Trail Monster run in. Especially since I miss most of the Saturday runs due to work!

Ian had devised an out-and-back on some snowmobile trails headed out of the west side of the park which I've never been on. The intent was to show Emma this stretch of trail for the end of a 16 mile loop she was planning to do later this week. He warned us it was hilly. And it was. The terrain was rolling to say the least, and meandered through the woods and across some fields before we hooked up with the snowmobile trails along the powerlines. At one point, we had a nice view of the weather station poking above the trees at Pineland Farms.

The trails were well packed and a bit icy. Emma took one nice digger off the side of the trail, thinking that she'd avoid an icy downhill by going slightly off-trail. The snow is still deep where it isn't packed, and she made a nice noise as she went down, but popped right back up and kept on at it. We had fun chatting, and Jim kept us entertained with stories the whole way. I felt good during the run, but lost a bit of steam in the final stretch as we climbed a big hill and then took a side snowshoe trail close to the end of the route, which took us up to Bradbury summit. Still, it was a gorgeous day and quite warm. In fact, I was way overdressed, as usual, for the run. From the summit we had a view of the ocean, which made the climb worth it. Then it was a quick, and slick, way down the Switchback Trail to the bottom.

Thanks for letting us join you, guys! It was fun and a great day to be out :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rock Solid

No, no, not my abs, although that would be nice :-)

I went for a run in the Commons this morning. Although the temps were in the low 20s, with the roaring wind, it was feeling a bit raw out there! And the trails, which were already pretty packed down, are now rock solid - all the rain the snow absorbed has now frozen and things are pretty firm. This is a good thing, as it made running easier. However, the fact that people walked on the trails when they were soft on Thursday, means the trails are also a bit of a mess, which made running a bit harder. That and the fact that the trails were littered with frozen dog poop. It was a bit like running through a minefield. Seriously people! Just because there is snow on the ground does not mean you don't have to pick up after your dog. YUCK!

Regardless, it was a good run. I end the week with 20 miles. Things seem to be staying in this range mileage-wise, which isn't too bad for the middle of winter, but which does not give me great hope that I will be running the full 4 laps or 50k in the upcoming Trail Monster Fat Ass as I originally contemplated. Of course, running 50k in February was a bit of a stretch anyway, but I had thought about it. Anyway... I think I will plan to do at least 2 laps, which would be 15.75 miles or 25k and which sounds reasonable, given that I haven't run any long runs over 10 miles since the GAC Fat Ass!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Simpson's Point

I woke up feeling a bit out of it and tired, and just wasn't up to taking on the 12 hilly miles of the Highland Road loop as I had intended. But the sun was shining, the sky was blue and temps were rising steadily into the upper 30s, so I still wanted to get out and run. I decided to head out to Simpson's Point. If I was still not feeling good, I could cut off a chunk and just run 5. If I felt good, I'd get in 9 miles. Not quite the 12 I had originally planned, but still not bad.

I headed out on Rt. 123 around 10:30am. I took off my gloves a mile into the run, and wished I had left the light Golite windtop at home. It was warm out there! Felt like spring. The fields and roads of Pennelville were quiet. The snow on the bay at Simpson's Point sparkled in the sun. I was feeling pretty good, and just kept the pace steady, not pushing too much. I ended the 9 mile run in 1:19:00, faster than I would have expected from how mellow the run felt, but I guess that is a good thing. A good run and a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Shorts

Yesterday Snowman and I got out on the bike path for a short 3 mile run in the afternoon. It was nice and mellow, which seems to be what he needs to get back on track. My original intent for the day was to run 12 miles, but as my schedule is flexible at this time of the year, I opted to take advantage of the chance to run with Snowman instead and will plan to run 12 tomorrow.

Today the plan was to ski at Pinelands with Shannon and little Finley. Shannon decided against it in the end, which was no big deal. However, lack of company combined with dreary, overcast skies and the fact that today was definitely a klister day meant my motivation went out the window. Ugh. In the end, I found myself in the Commons on our "regular" 3 mile loop. The main thoroughfares were well packed and a bit slick, although no trouble with my Inov-8 screw shoes, but some of the single track was very uneven and little traveled making for slow going.

After I finished the run, I felt much better. A good reminder of how even a short workout can do wonders!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wacky Weather

Yesterday was the Great Glen Nordic 300. I wasn't planning to race, but Snowman had to be up to work, so I thought I would go up, ski and help out a bit with the race. In the end, Jeff ended up driving up with us yesterday morning, which worked out great. Despite the early hour, everyone was bright and cheery, and conversation spanned from the Paleolithic diet to skiing, running, work, etc. As we went through North Conway, rain began to fall. The temperature was 47. It was windy. Hmmm.... Temps dropped as we got closer to Great Glen but it was still raining and still windy. Not ideal. Then, just as the race was about to start, the rain turned to snow. Still not ideal, but much better!

After the cannon fired, Snowman and I headed out to ski backward on the course, so that Snowman could capture the smiling faces of all the racers as they skied by. I stayed on the course for a ways until Snowman decided to stop and wait for the racers. As I wanted to get in a good hour-long ski, I decided to tour the rest of the system. I haven't been skiing at Great Glen all season, and was happy to be skiing along, enjoying the snow and the woods. There was a light layer of fresh snow atop the groomed trails, and although this meant it was slow going, on my waxless classic skis it was awesome! Nice kick, and no thought of slipping. Perfect. I went up and out on Dugway, one of the black diamond trails which winds along the back of the system. No one was out there. It was just me. Very peaceful.

I made my way back to the race course, and cheered on Jeff as he skated by, as well as the other racers. Everyone was working hard in the soft snow but seemed to be having fun. Or at least as much fun as you can have when you're in your first lap or two of a 5 hour race :-)

I spent the afternoon helping in the timing shack, and was impressed by how everyone did out there! The male winner completed 15 laps, while the woman's winner completed 13. Jeff completed an awesome 10 laps, or 50k. Way to go Jeff :-) We had to hang out and wait for Snowman to finish up a bit of work before we stopped for a yummy dinner and beer at Moat Mountain Smokehouse on the way home. The perfect end to a good day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Although it's supposed to warm up this weekend, you wouldn't have known it this morning. I headed out across the street at 7am in -1 degree weather. The snowmobiles had been out on the powerlines, and followed their tracks, winding my way a bit more than I usually would when the ground is clear. Luckily with the cold weather, the trail was nicely packed down, and I was able to move along at a decent, if not super fast, pace. I was glad I had on my Inov-8 screw shoes, as the sidewalks in the Highland Green development, while plowed, were basically packed ice and snow.

Despite the very crisp air, I felt better during today's run than during yesterday's, so I guess things have sorted themselves out after the 10 miler and my legs are back to their normal selves. I ended the run in 44:00 and with a very frosty face :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bald Eagles Galore!

I headed out this morning to do a mellow 3-mile run on the bike path. A light snow was falling and the path had not yet been plowed, so there was a little over an inch of fluffy snow on the ground. My road screw shoes gave me plenty of traction, but I was glad to have to step aside for the plow at the 1 mile marker. The 3 miles went by in exactly 27:00, not fast but not too slow. As I was getting back in the car, an immature Bald Eagle flew overhead.

Work today was a trip up to Rockland, to visit the Farnsworth Museum and hit the galleries in town. We had lunch at the Thorndike Creamery - tomato, basil and goat cheese pizza topped off with (well, not literally) a scoop of ice cream for dessert. I chose Pumpkin and it was quite tasty.

On the way home, as we were driving through Thomaston, I noticed a number of large birds soaring off to the right, beyond the trees. One of the birds had the distinctive dark body and white head and tail of a Bald Eagle. I continued to look as we drove on, and there were at the very least five other mature Bald Eagles roosting in the trees at the edge of the fields. Wow! I wish I had been driving by myself or with Snowman, as I would have stopped by the roadside to soak in the view of these majestic birds. In looking at the map of Thomaston, I realized that what the birds were circling over must have been the St. George River. In the past, Snowman and I have stopped several times at a small park along Rt. 90 which has a bridge over the river and a great view of a set of falls. Depending on the time of year and time of day, we have seen large groups of birds circling and swooping into the river for fish in this area, which is really cool. I can only assume the birds were circling along a similar stretch of river. Neat!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Day

It's always a happy day when you get to talk with your friends and family, and get lots of well wishes that make you smile. Thanks everyone :-)

I got a few things done around town this morning, and then joined Shannon and little Finley for a later-than-expected afternoon ski at Pineland Farms. The sky was darkening, the wind had picked up and was whipping the snow around, and it was cold. I was still feeling a bit sore from Sunday, and no doubt being lazy yesterday didn't help, so the pace was easy and we only got in a short ski. Still, it was great to be out, and any day of skiing is better than a day of work, especially on your birthday!

Snowman was away for work, so Nate and Shannon were nice enough to have me over for dinner, complete with a few rounds of Boggle, which my friend Corie and I used to play endlessly during middle school. Very dorky, yes, but fun :-)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2009 Mid Winter 10 Mile Classic

Ian, Snowman and I sporting our Trail Monster Gear.
Photo by sidzmum

The weather gods smiled on us once again for the 10 Miler. It was cloudy and around 20 degrees with no wind. Perfect running conditions (at least for early February!). As always I am a nervous racer, and was wondering how things were going to turn out. It wasn't that I thought I couldn't finish the course, it was just a question of how fast I was going to go.

We met up at the start with Ian, George and Ann, Lily and Dominick and Dora. When the gun went off, Ian and Snowman were gone in a flash. Lily gracefully ran by me in the first 1/4 mile, and a few steps later I saw George, chatting with another runner. Going up the hills between miles 2 and 3, Dora passed me, never to be seen again. I felt pretty good in those first few miles, and was just trying to run steadily. However, I was getting passed by a lot of people. I am always amazed when running a road race just how many people can run faster than me! Ah well...

I did manage to run for a short ways with a nice guy in an orange shirt, who commented on how smooth my form was. A nice compliment, although I'm not sure it helped me out too much, as he eventually pulled just far enough ahead that I could see him for the next 4.5 miles but could never quite catch up! We went through the halfway point in 38:21 - perfect- I just hoped I could keep it up.

The miles ticked by, and I was in a long train of people, concentrating on keeping going and not slowing down. Coming to the 9 mile marker, I was happy to know there was only one mile remaining, but daunted by the line of people in front of me making their way up the final hill. I tried to kick it in as much as I could, but I seem to no longer have any fast twitch muscles, and couldn't quite fight off the two men who blew past me in the final steps before the finish line. Still, I ended up finishing in 1:16:27, not quite the 1:15 I was secretly hoping for, but a time I was pretty happy with, nonetheless. Snowman finished, ahead of me (as usual), in 1:10:59. He was a bit disappointed with his race, but I think he did great - although I am his wife, so he says it doesn't count :-)

Complete results here.

Eric and the Maine Track Club put on a great race, full of wonderful volunteers (Emma included!) and with a nice spread of pizza at the end. Despite being slightly painful, it was a good race, and I'm sure that we'll be out there again next year, just to torture ourselves :-)

We met up with Mindy and her friend Claire for brunch at Becky's Diner after the race, which was a lot of fun and just what we needed. Of course, I am hungry again and looking forward to pizza while watching the SuperBowl with Nate and Shannon tonight!