Monday, January 31, 2011

Snowshoe Run in the Cathance

As we were snowshoeing on the Cathance trails with Sam yesterday, both Ryan and I remarked that the trails looked to be perfect for snowshoe running. Very well-packed, and packed widely too. I was originally thinking I would get out there later this week, but due to the forecast for more snow on Wednesday, I decided maybe I should get out there today. I didn't want to miss out on running on these trails in these conditions. They just looked too awesome! And once we get more snow, who knows how long it will take for the trails to get packed down so nicely again.

I had switched Sam's daycare days around already, knowing she and I would be home in the snow on Wednesday, so with most of the errands done (They're never completely done. How is that?!) and the sun shining, I headed over to the Cathance trailhead after lunch. And we were right, the trails were perfect! I had such fun running on them this afternoon. I was able to keep up a decent pace (for snowshoeing, at least!), it was a beautiful afternoon, and while it was still hard work, the packed trails really made things nice. I wandered through the trail system, getting in 4 miles before heading back home.

Along the river

Cool ice flow

Beautiful woods

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Morning Run, Afternoon Snowshoe

I headed out this morning to run 5 miles on the Higland Green loop. A light snow was falling, but it was almost 30 degrees. Felt balmy! The run went fine, although in taking inventory of how I was feeling while I was running, I realized my legs were feeling a little tired - probably from my "speed work" on Friday. We had talked about going xc skiing over at Pineland in the afternoon, but in the end, I told Ryan I had had a change of heart, and would be just as happy donning our snowshoes for a walk over on the Cathance trails. It would be a bit more mellow and involve less driving, both of which sounded good for a Sunday afternoon.

So, after Sam's nap, we got ourselves ready, suited Sam up in her "new" snowsuit (Thanks Shannon!) and headed over to Highland Green. As we were tromping through the woods, Ryan muttered, "An idyllic outdoor family adventure," meaning "I am a burdened dad, carrying a heavy and snot-encrusted child, accompanied by my way-too-sunshiney wife, who is not carrying an extra 25 pounds on her back and is taking way too many photos and being way too happy!" Ha :-) But really, we had a great walk in the woods. It was beautiful, and even better, the trails were really well packed, which made for some nice walking! (And will make for some good running at some point soon too!)

Sam in her snowsuit!

Happy girl

Snow-covered Adirondack chairs by the river

Happy lady

The Cathance

Through the woods

All in all, a great Sunday!

And since I'm in a photo mood, here are a few others, just because:

Our little goof ball

Cuddling kitties

Our AT wall is now complete, courtesy of a beautiful, new painting (center) by Meghan!
It looks great, Meg! We love it!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Attempt At Speed Work

Although I love lists, being organized and having a plan, for some reason this doesn't translate into following a training plan. I don't know why. You would think it would be a given that I would be excited to decide on a race and a training plan for said race, write down the components and then follow through on the workouts. But, I just can't do it. Yes, I want to do well in the races I sign up for. But when it comes time to train, I just want to run. I don't want to be burdened by speed work, or specific splits, or tempo runs, or becoming a slave to a training plan that does not in any way take into account the rest of my life. Let's face it - as it is for everyone, I'm sure - some days it is just a struggle to get out the door, and so the prospect of conforming to and stressing about following a training plan just doesn't work for me. Yes, I do look at various training plans and make notes in my training log of what I think I *should* be doing on any given day and during any given week leading up to a race. But it's rare that I actually manage to run the set miles that I've written down. I can't decide if this is a good thing, meaning I'm willing to be flexible and cut myself some slack, or if it means that I have never been able to fully commit to training, and therefore have not yet reached my true potential. Somehow I think it's a bit of both.

Anyway... all of this leads me to this morning's run, and the fact that on February 6th, I will be running the 2011 Mid Winter Classic. In late December, registration for the race was filling up fast. Ryan had decided he wasn't going to race it, since he already has a number of snowshoe races on the calendar, so it was my race to run if I wanted. I must have been having a good day, or been a bit delirious, because I looked at my time from 2009 and decided, almost spur of the moment, that I should sign up for the race and attempt to beat my 2009 time of 1:16:27. What was I thinking? I have done no speed work to speak of in years, nor done any road racing since that race. I am training for a 50k in March, and have been logging most of my recent miles on snow, meaning they've been slow miles. Of course, I don't *need* to beat my time from 2009, but I'd like to. And to do that, if my math is correct, I need to average faster than 7:38s.

So, today, after I dropped Sam off at daycare, I headed over to the bike path, with the idea of doing a pace workout. Ryan had suggested that I go out and run 7 miles at 7:30 pace to see if I could do it. I didn't have quite enough time for that, but I figured I would go and attempt to run 5 miles at a "fast" pace. The bike path has the benefit of being an even, measured surface away from traffic. It is typically pretty well cleared, although this morning it was obvious that we've been having a cold and snowy January, as there were a number of stretches of frozen mush/snow/ice between the stretches of dry pavement. It was chilly out, but bright and sunny, with no wind. My 282s were gripping well, and in fact, I only slipped twice, right near the bridge over the on-ramp to Rt. 1 later in the run. I did have to slow down ever so slightly around 1.5 miles and 3.0 miles, where a large puddle had formed and frozen over, but overall, I didn't feel too hampered by the conditions, as the surface was pretty tacky. I started out at what felt like a reasonable, but relatively quick pace, and both miles 1 and 2 were below 8 minute pace, but not quite as fast as I might have wanted. Mile 3 was 7:37, mile 4 was 7:17 and the last mile was 7:20. I was definitely working by the last mile. Final time for 5.0 miles was 37:53. Now, the question remains: could I run 37:53 for another 5 miles? I guess we'll find out next Sunday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short and Snowy

More snow this morning. But nothing like what our friends further south have received. We only got another inch of so of fluffy white stuff overnight. Just enough to freshen up the snow cover and make the roads a bit messier. After cutting my long run short yesterday, I am determined to make up a few of those lost miles and at least get to 30 miles for the week. So, after dropping Sam off at daycare, I came home, grabbed snowshoes and headed out the door to get in a short snowshoe run across the street.

With the snow just ending, and the skies still overcast, the light was very flat. I knew there was a lot of drifted snow on the trail, but I couldn't really tell what was going to be soft and what would be packed as I ran along. A bit weird. I started on the powerlines and then went up to check out "Ryan's" loop. He had packed it well last week, and it was still an easy-to-follow deep trough cut through the snow. I ran down that, and then decided to take a set of tracks leading to the Highland Green golf course. Unfortunately, as I got to the golf course I realized the wind had been whipping around, obliterating the tracks and making for some really slow going. I ended up walking a bit up a few hills, slogging through the deep, soft snow, before turning around, as I just wasn't up for major trail breaking this morning. I got back on Ryan's track, and ran a loop on the powerlines before heading back up into the woods to run a bit more. And then, it was back to the high school road, off with the snowshoes and back home. 3 miles. Short and sweet. And slow. But it was nice to play in the snow for a bit!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random Run

This morning, I had a little bit of that relaxation I was looking for yesterday - a 1/2 hour leg massage. Ahhh...  My calves and feet have been feeling tight, and I don't want them to get worse. I am not quite sure why my feet feel tight - perhaps it is a combination of needing new 'wear around' shoes since the Salomon snow clogs I wear in snowy/slushy weather are many years old and aren't all that comfortable anymore, running on more roads, and running on soft snow where my foot is flexing more... Who knows? Anyway, I figured a massage would be a good thing, and it sure felt great.

Unfortunately, the other thing I had on my schedule for today was a long run, and I just wasn't feeling it. It was cold and grey out, and I wasn't feeling motivated *at all*. So, I came home, had a big snack, did some laundry and house cleaning, and gave myself time to bounce around the idea of going out for at least a 2 hour run and get my head in the right place for that. My "plan," if you can call it that, was calling for 18 miles today, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. I figured if I could get in 12 miles or 2 hours, I could call it a decent day, and I'd run 18 next week instead. Yes, as you can tell, I am following my training plan to the letter around here :-) Ha.

Finally, around 11:30, I felt like I couldn't delay things any longer, so I bundled up and headed out. When I called to tell Ryan how I was feeling, he suggested simply heading out on the powerlines and seeing where the run took me. It was a good idea, but given my lack of motivation, I felt I needed a bit more of a planned route. I figured I would run the Highland Green Road loop and then continue out on the powerlines. The road portion would ensure some easier mileage, and doing an out-and-back on the powerlines would mean I could turn around at whatever point felt right. The snowmobiles trail on the powerlines appeared to have been groomed, which was great, but it had been churned up just enough to make it a bit tough to run on. Of course, on the roads, the slush on the sides was messy and tough to run in too, so it was a toss up. In fact, the best part of the whole run condition-wise was the backside of the HG road - packed dirt topped with packed snow. I took the connector down to Tedford Road, and then got back on the powerlines near Topsham Crossing. I continued on the snowmobile trail out to Lover's Lane and had intended to keep going, but at that point, the trail wandered through this sort of weird wasteland section and I got a creepy vibe out there. I wasn't quite sure of the surrounding area, and decided I would be happier turning around. So, turn around I did. I retraced my steps through Highland Green, and added on a bit in a few spots to ensure I would hit 12 miles by the time I got back home. It worked. The Garmin read 12.0 and 1:58:29 at the end of the side drive.

I was happy to have gotten this run in, although it was tough work and my legs felt pretty heavy and tired. I wish it was because I was running a lot of high mileage weeks, but that's not the case. It may just have not been my day, but I think it's a combination of several decent mileage weeks (for me) plus some harder trail conditions on a number of recent runs. Of course, add in the fact that I have not gotten an uninterrupted night of sleep in over 15 months, and although the body adjusts to what it is given, I know I am just not recovering as I should be since I am not sleeping as much as I should be. Oh well. Sam is only small once. And really, she actually is sleeping better. She is just not sleeping long stretches when I want to be asleep :-) Guess, I should start going to bed at 6:45 with her!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Today was one of my "extra" days off this week. I dropped Sam off at daycare at 8am. After spending three out of the past four days with Mama (and the fourth with "Daddo"), she was so happy to get to her room and start playing with her little cohorts - it was like she was saying "Well, Mom, I love you and all, but it is just so cool to be back here with all my friends!" I do love that she is so happy at daycare. It makes things so much easier on all of us!

It was snowing lightly, and Ryan had already called me to tell me that things were slow on I-295. He had passed an accident around exit 22. I had a dermatologist appointment down in Portland at 9:00am. I was turning onto the highway at 8:13. Plenty of time, right? Um, no. Not today. I passed five cars off the road, two of them with police cars and tow trucks in the mix, making for some seriously slow going. I actually didn't think the roads were all that bad, so what is up with that?! It took me an hour and 10 minutes to get down to exit 5. Yikes! Needless to say I was late for my appointment. Which meant more waiting. But, my annual skin check concluded without incident. Hurray! It's been 7 years since I had an 'in situ' melanoma (meaning not even stage 1, but still way scary!) removed on my back and although I am no longer super nervous for each of these appointments, it is still a relief to hear her say I look OK and that she'll see me in a year!

The rest of the morning was spent making returns and exchanges and gift card purchases at Macy's, Baby Gap and Children's Place. Don't even get me started about shopping at the mall. I was in and out as quickly as possible, but that wasn't all. Then it was onto Babies R Us for more returns and exchanges and gift card purchases. And then to Sam's Club. By now it was noon, and I was hungry. I stopped at the Sam's lunch counter and got a big piece of veggie pizza for $2.01 including tax. Now that's a good deal! Yes, I know, I know. It's Sam's. And it's their lunch counter. But hey. It was actually pretty tasty. Finally, by 12:45, I was back on the road. I had brought all my running gear, and decided I would stop at Bradbury on my way home. OK, so the park is about 5 miles (each way) out of the way, but you know what I mean :-)

There was only one other car in the parking lot as I laced up my screw shoes and headed across the street for the snowmobile trail. I did say hi to one of the rangers as I headed out, I had my phone in my pocket, and Ryan knew where I was headed, so Mom, no need to worry :-) Snow was still falling lightly as I ran along. It looked like they had been out grooming the trail. It was wonderfully smooth and graded. There was about an inch of fresh fluffy snow on top of the nicely groomed and packed trail, so it made for some really nice running. The woods were quiet, the evergreens covered with snow, the tracks of deer and other small animals veering off the trail in zig zag fashion into the deep snow. Although I was feeling good, I stuck with my initial plan and when the Garmin read 2.51 miles at a random point on the trail, I turned around. The snow had stopped, and the sun shone down through the trees onto the trail, glimmering off the new snow. Although it was only in the low teens temp-wise, there was no wind, and now that I had warmed up, it was truly comfortable, and beautiful, out there.

As I was running the hilly section back up near the park boundary, I heard a sled coming up behind me. I stepped off the trail, and he slowed slightly as he passed. I waved and although he gave me a funny look, he waved back and zoomed off. I wonder what he thought of the lone woman running up the snowmobile trail? :-) I stepped back onto the trail and continued up. I managed to keep a steady 9:45 pace even through this stretch, and even picked it up slightly in the final, so nicely downhill, mile, finishing the 5 miles in 48:07. It was a great run, and a great afternoon to be out in the woods!

On the way home, I stopped to feed Cordelia's cats, and then after putting away the groceries, taking a shower, and cleaning up in the kitchen a bit, it was 4:30 and time to pick up Sam. Phew! Maybe I'll have time to relax tomorrow?! :-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Zip

Today was the debut race of the Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series that Ryan has been working on. It was cold and bright this morning when Ryan left the house, and there is certainly lots of snow on the ground. Perfect conditions for a snowshoe race! However, it was a bit too cold for Sam and I to go hang out at Bradbury all morning-long, so we stayed home and had a Mommy/Sam day instead. We did have a good day but I am bummed to have missed out on the fun of the race - sounds like everyone had a blast! Great job Ryan, Ian and all the volunteers and sponsors who made it all come together. And great job to all the Trail Monsters who braved the weather for some great racing too! I hope I'll have a chance to get out and race at least one of the races.

After Ryan got home and got himself something to eat, I headed out for a run around 3:30. The temps had started to drop, and the wind had picked up. I headed across the street and ran on the powerlines to the Highland Green road. There had been a good bit of sled traffic on the trail so although it was a bit soft, it was runnable, at least for this short section, without screw shoes or snowshoes. Luckily the 282s have great traction! Once I hit the road, I turned into the wind. Brrr. It was at this point that I realized I didn't really have any umph in my legs. I felt tired. And my legs felt heavy. Oh well. I put my head down, and just ran. Once I got to the dirt section of road on the backside of the loop, I felt a bit better. Here the road was down to packed snow, which crunched beneath my feet and I was sheltered a bit from the wind. Unfortunately, the wind returned with a vengence as I ran back over the powerlines and on the last stretch of road. I definitely don't think I had as fun of a run as all the snowshoe runners this morning, that's for sure, but at least I got out there and got a few miles in. 5.0 in 47:23.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Gift

These days, the gift of time is the best kind of gift. And today, after a snow day spent inside with little miss Samantha and the two furry mischief-makers, Ryan got home in time for me to throw on my running clothes, adjust the snowshoes and head out the door for a snowshoe run right as the snow was ending around 3:30pm. How nice! I really appreciated it. Not that I don't like hanging out with Sam, but we were cooped up inside all day long and I had really been looking forward to a run today. When we woke up to snow, I figured it just wasn't going to happen, so having the chance to get out and hit the trails this afternoon was a real treat! Thanks Ryan!

As I ran through the complex with my snowshoes in hand, the plow guy called out the window, "I wish I had your energy!" I smiled, and called back, "I try!" But really, it's all what you make it. I mean, I had been racing around after Sam all day long, and afternoon is never the height of my energy anyway. But even if I'm tired, there is something energizing about getting out the door for a run or ski or snowshoe, and how could I say no to the chance on such a nice afternoon?

This latest storm produced some wonderfully light and fluffy snow, making it easy to shovel and fun to tromp through. Perfect! I put on my snowshoes at the snowmobile trail entrance across the street, happy to see that a few sleds had gone through, packing down the powder at least slightly. There were still a few spots where I ran through the deep stuff, but mostly I stuck to the traveled path. I still felt like I was working though. I ran down toward Topsham Crossing, and once the Garmin hit 1.5 miles, I turned around. As I was running back, the late afternoon sun was peeking through the clouds and the rays glimmered on the fresh snow stuck to the evergreen trees. Gorgeous. I managed to get in 3 miles in 34:25, and it was lots of fun!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

To The Bike Path

This morning, I was determined to cross a few things off my home to-do list. I cleaned out and organized a few of the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom, put together a little shelf for the front hall closet (although the box said 'no tools required,' it was only $24.99 and wasn't all that well made, so I did end up needing the Leatherman to get the shelving to line up correctly with the holes in the frame), emptied out the closet and reorganized it. Looks much better! Then I went upstairs and tackled my clothes drawers, getting rid of some old shirts, etc and separating out a pile of items in good enough condition for donation. It was nice to check these things off the list, and even better, it was only 11:15am. I was feeling very accomplished :-)

After a bit of relaxation, some lunch, and cooking up dinner for tonight, I finally was ready to head out for a run. Except that it was now snaining (yes, snaining, a yucky mix of snow and rain). Lovely. So as to avoid a) getting run over and b) running in the nasty slush on the side of the roads, I headed over to the bike path. While the path isn't my favorite route, it has its place, especially in the winter. And best of all, it's car free, so it's a safe place to run on a messy day. There was only one other car in the lot when I pulled in around 2:30pm. The snain seemed to flying sideways. It wasn't particularly pleasant but hey, what can you do. I ran along, managing to keep up a decent pace despite my legs feeling rather heavy from yesterday's efforts. On the way back, the winds and snow picked up, and I picked up the pace a bit just so that I could get the run over with :-) Probably not the best strategy for a recovery run! Oops. I ran into Ryan heading out on the warm-up before his MP-pace run, and he turned around and ran the final 3/4 mile with me, which was nice! My body is definitely feeling tired from a stretch of running (with a day of xc skiing thrown into the middle) that started last Thursday. This is a lot for me, and I will definitely be glad to take tomorrow as a rest day!

A lot of you have probably already seen this photo on Facebook, but it was too cute not to post again :-) Yesterday, I picked Sam up early and she was in a very "mama" mood. Ryan was working, and after playing for a while, it was time for me to make dinner. All she wanted to do was have me pick her up. Then I had an 'ah ha!' moment. I got out a bowl and a spoon, and told her she could "cook" on the floor next to me. I threw a few zucchini halves in the bowl, and after she got bored with those, she added in some Goldfish just to make things interesting. Raisins were a late addition. Zucchini, Goldfish and Raisin stew. Delish!

Cooking :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Running Ian's "Beautiful Loop"

We're only open three days a week at the gallery, starting this week, which is really really nice, although honestly I'd probably prefer a normal Monday through Friday routine, with regular holidays, and the potential for vacation time in the summer if I had the choice. But, I won't look a gift horse in the mouth, and I certainly plan to enjoy my extra days off this winter. And by enjoy, I mean, get in my long runs and check things off my long laundry list of things to be done around the house on these days :-) We're keeping Sam in daycare four days a week, so I'm with her all day on Monday, and I'm sure I'll keep her out fully some Tuesdays or Wednesday, and others I'll pick her up early (like today) so that we can spend a bit more time together when we have the chance.

So, especially with the weather forecast for this afternoon/tomorrow, I planned to get in my long run this morning. Although I'm likely going to be doing some of my upcoming long runs on the roads, I really wanted to get out on the trails today, and since I keep reading Ian's posts about the Beautiful Loop, I thought it might be a good, challenging choice. Ryan decided to join me, and Valerie said she was game for a few miles too. Cool. Company! Not to mention that there was no way I was going to do the loop on my own. I have yet to run it, and I just wouldn't be comfortable wandering the snowmobile trails out in the middle of nowhere without a partner. 

We met Valerie at 8:45, just as the snow started to fall. It was damp and chilly, but I was dressed comfortably for the weather and only my hands were really cold at the start. The Link and Snowmobile Trails had definitely seen a good amount of traffic, and we cruised along, keeping a pretty even 10-minute pace as we ran through the woods, chatting away. The Snowmobile Trail passes through some really beautiful stretches of woods here, and a wide open corn field too, where we saw a few groups of turkeys milling amongst the corn stubble. There had also obviously been a tussle between a turkey and a larger animal. The turkey lost. Valerie turned around at 4.5 miles, just a bit before the powerlines, as the snow as picking up and she needed to be in Portland around noon. Thanks for joining us Val - it was fun!

Once we hit the powerlines, the snow as a bit softer than in the woods, but still pretty packed. The route took us under and along some pretty major high-tension power lines for the next seven miles. The lines hummed and cracked above us as the snow hit them. We saw a few hunter's blinds in spots, and lots of deer tracks but no deer or hunters :-) It was just us and the snow. Ryan kept saying, "No one running the Gator Trail 50k is doing this today!" Somehow I am sure he was right!

Somewhere around mile 9 or so, we started hitting more hills. But we were still chugging along at right around 10-minute pace and I was feeling good. Unfortunately, by the time we hit the large hill around mile 11, I was starting to feel it. It was here that the pace began to slow. The snow was piling up on the trails, the trail was a roller coaster of hills and I just felt like I was lacking power to get up and over them all. It was around this point that Ryan mentioned that I hadn't been doing the training or the miles for a run like this, which I didn't particularly like, but he was right, of course. I don't have a huge base of mileage right now and most of my runs have been pretty flat. Ah well. I knew I would get through it - it was just bound to be slow going in the last few miles :-) But Ryan was very nice, not pushing the pace and encouraging me along. Once we got back into the woods closer to the park, almost every hill seemed to bottom out at a sketchy snowmobile bridge, and I was very cautious on those, so there would be a fast downhill, a stop at the bottom, then up up up and repeat. We took one "wrong turn" somewhere in this stretch, cutting off a few more hills, but I wasn't complaining at that point :-)  I really didn't want to continue across Rt. 9 and onto the Knights Wood Trail, but I was bound and determined to get in at least 15 miles, so that's what we did. We finished up with 15.12 miles in 2:39:00, covered in snow and ice, and the last ones to leave the park before they closed up early for the day!

All in all, it was a nice, challenging loop, just as I had hoped, and it was fun to run with Valerie and Ryan. Thanks guys! I am a bit disappointed to have dropped off so much in pace in the last 4 miles, but what's done is done, and it certainly was a good workout! I am tired :-) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Unexpected Trail Run

With the temperatures finally creeping into the double digits and Sam asleep for her nap, I snuck out of the house around 11:30 am for a run. I told Ryan I was planning to do the 5-mile Highland Green loop, and was going to try running over on the powerlines instead of down the Connector. If the trails were really soft, it would only be about a 1/2 mile of running on the snow before I hit the roads again. Despite the cold, it was a really nice afternoon. Bright and sunny, with the wind at my back. To my surprise, there seemed to have been a good bit of snowmobile traffic on the powerline trails, and things were packed rather nicely. Even without my screw shoes, the grip from my 282s was pretty good. When I got to Highland Green Road, I couldn't bear to turn onto the sidewalk. Enough road running, already! I crossed the street instead, and continued down the hill on the snowmobile trail. Traction was good, I wasn't sinking in a lot, and there was no ice. The snow was crunching underfoot and I was having a grand old time. I vaguely recalled that 2.5 miles was at the crossing of Lover's Lane, and it seemed about right from the time on my watch (I'd left the Garmin at home thinking I was doing a tried-and-true road run). The way back was a bit slower, as I was running into the wind, and the sun was warming things up ever so slightly, but it was still a really nice run. I finished up in 47:00 and was very happy to have gotten in an unexpected trail run!

Of course, when I told Ryan what I had done, he decided he would run the snowmobile trails too. He didn't find the trail quite as firm as I did, unfortunately, being slightly heavier than me, but hey, I had only said *I* thought it was nice and runnable! :-) Oops.


Nate and Shannon came over for dinner tonight, and the kids had fun playing together while the adults were chatting. Sam was having lots of fun hugging Charlotte, although her hugs might have been more like head locks! :-) Charlotte was a trooper though! Here is Sam trying to envelop Charlotte in another embrace.

And here is Sam, from earlier this morning, rocking one of my ski hats. So cute!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Ski of the Season!

Yes, it's January 16, and today was the first day I've been out on my skis this winter. All you skiers out there can shake your heads, but oh well. But for a first day out on the snow, it certainly was a good day for it :-) Sam and I hung out in the morning while Ryan headed over to Bradbury to meet up with some of the TMRs to run on the snowshoe courses. Then, after a quick lunch, we headed over to Pinelands for an afternoon ski. It was a really nice day - bright and sunny, with a little breeze, and temps in the upper 20s. There was plenty of snow, and the trails were all nicely groomed. Perfect. We suited Sam up in her LLBean jacket (it's the 6-12 month size and it's still big on her!), hand-me-down snowpants and too-big hand-me-down boots from Morgan. She looked adorable!

Ryan was the designated "Sam carrier" today. The Kelty backpack is great, but although it's supposedly one size fits all, it's just too big for me. Or I'm too small for it. Either way, I can't wear it comfortably. And honestly, even if I could, I don't think I'd be comfortable skiing with Sam on my back. I'm just not that good of a skier! Ryan said even he was having trouble with the shift in balance with an extra 25 pounds hanging off his back. The backpack was also weighing him down and making it a bit of a slow go. I, on the other hand, was having the opposite problem, and was having trouble getting the pockets of my cute little Orbiters to stick. I guess weighing less will have that effect. But regardless, after 1km or so, we got into a groove and had a great time out on the trails!

Sam loved it too :-) She was smiling and chattering the whole way.

We ended up being out for just under an hour. It was a mellow ski for me, as I wasn't the one carrying the pack, and lots of fun to be out on the trails with Ryan and Sam! We hit the Market afterwards for a quick snack and then headed home to watch the Pats game.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No Waxwings Today

This morning was a "juggle" morning. Get a run in. Let Ryan get his medium-long run in. Get ready for work, eat breakfast and hang with Sam. Get to work on time :-) I had plans to get up at 5:30, but when the alarm went off, Ryan hit snooze and both of us went back to sleep until 6:00 when Sam woke up. I fed her and got her back to sleep, then quickly dressed and was out the door by 6:30. The thermometer read 3.3 degrees. Luckily it wasn't windy, or it would have been pretty brutal out there. As it was, it was pretty darn cold! I had on all my reflective gear - Nathan vest, snap bands on my ankles and a red LED blinking light on my back, along with my headlamp - although in the end, I probably didn't need any of it - and my Sugio hoodie pulled up over my hat, along with my warm Craft jacket and warmest running gloves and pants. I never really did warm up, and when I finished the run, my legs were bright red! Guess I could have used another layer...

As I ran down the high school road, a brilliant orange filled the horizon line, seeping into the deep blue above. With the sky lightening, there was more than enough light to run without a headlamp. For the sake of safety, simplicity and time, I decided to just do 3 loops on the high school road as I had done on Thursday. What a difference a few days make! The roads were totally clear of snow and ice. No waxwings sung in the trees, and I didn't see any roosting either. I guess they've migrated away to the next feeding ground. The funny thing is that my time for the 4.5 miles was almost exactly the same as on Thursday. Interesting. I guess changing from running in screw shoes through the packed snow and slush to running extra early on a super cold  morning evened things out.

I got home in time to get a quick shower in before Ryan headed out for his 11 mile run. Sam and I ate breakfast and played while he was gone, and he got back with enough time to get himself showered up before I headed out the door for work. I'd say we juggled well this morning :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snowshoe Run!

Last night, Ryan suggested that we fit me into one of the Dion snowshoe pairs he has on loan from Bob for the upcoming Bradbury Snowshoe Series so that I could take them out this morning for a run. Bob had told him I was more than welcome to try the shoes out while Ryan had them, which was really nice of him. Thanks Bob! So, this morning, after I dropped Sam off, I came home, got suited up for a run and took off running through the complex with snowshoes in hand.

Although I've done a fair amount of snowshoeing in the past, it's all been snowshoe hiking, not snowshoe running. And it's been in my Tubbs. So the Dion snowshoes, and the whole snowshoe running thing, are new to me. When I got to the high school road, I veered off onto the sidewalk where the snowmobiles start their path onto the powerlines. There, I stopped and put on the snowshoes. I had to crank the straps literally all the way to get a tight fit, but it worked. Guess I have small feet! Ha :-) Then off I went.

Although a number of snowmobiles had been out, the snow is still pretty soft and uneven. I felt a bit clunky starting out, but the slim contour of the Dion shoe makes them relatively easy to run in, and they are pretty light. I ran the snowmobile trail until I got to Ryan's tracks from yesterday. He had packed out a loop through the woods, so I didn't have to do all the hard work of trail breaking, which was nice. It was still hard work though! Once on Ryan's trail, the snow was light and fluffy underfoot, and in keeping within the trough he'd created, I kept kicking myself. Ouch. I ran a few loops and then wandered on the snowmobile trail until I was out of time. I ended up running 3 miles in 35:31, although I was only in the snowshoes for 2.3 miles. It wasn't a speedy run, but it was a fun change of pace, and a good workout!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow and Waxwings Galore

Next year, when Sam is a bit older and steadier on her feet, we'll get out and play in the snow during a big snowstorm like yesterday's, which dumped approx. 12" of beautiful, white fluffy snow on us. But, this year, as she toddles and waddles and lurches unsteadily through the house, concentrating hard on walking, a snow day is better spent inside. So, yesterday, as the snow piled up and the winds whipped outside, the two of us played and walked and read, and not to mention, distracted poor Ryan while he worked :-)

Ryan was nice enough to do all the shoveling and car moving, so this morning when I dropped Sam off at daycare was the first time I'd been outside to revel in all the snow. Wow! It sure looks like winter now! Although I was tempted to load up my skis and head to the Commons to tromp through the woods, or put on my snowshoes and go wallow in the snow across the street, I really didn't have the time before work. I figured I could get in 30 minutes of running. So, I settled for running 3 loops of the high school road to get in 4.5 miles. It ended up taking me 37:25, but that's OK, I don't need much time to primp in front of the bathroom mirror anyway :-)

The run wasn't as much fun as skiing or snowshoeing, but I really needed to get the mileage in anyway, so you do what you have to do. I know that this winter, I'll be running more than skiing, simply because the logistics of running are so much simpler and because I definitely need to get in the miles going into the Gator Trail 50k if the race is going to be a pleasant experience :-) So as I ran the loop, I envisioned it a shorter, colder version of the Gator Trail course. The footing went from small sections of straight pavement to slippery packed snow to slush to churned up snow and slush and back again. Substitute packed dirt for the pavement, sand for the churned up snow and slush, and roots for the slippery packed snow, and it's probably a pretty good simulation.

The highlight of the run, which frankly wasn't all that exciting, was noting a flock of 30+ Cedar Waxwings by the front of the high school. The first time I ran by, I heard their chirps, but couldn't pinpoint where the calls were coming from. The second time around, I made a point to really look around, instead of trying to keep my head down in the wind, and I realized there was a good grouping of the birds high up in the branches of a big birch tree on the pond side of the front parking lot. I stopped to watch them for a minute. They are beautiful birds and looking up, the tree seemed alive with color as they flitted about - the gorgeous buttery yellow of their bellies and the warm reddish brown tones of their wings/head a wonderful contrast to the blue skies. and their melodious chirps and calls. On the third loop, I realized they were flying to and from the birch tree to two fruit trees planted in the school's courtyard. Neat!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meadow Cross Loop

We only worked a half day up at the gallery today, so I was done at 2pm. After a few errands, I was dressed and out the door by 2:50. I had 8 miles penciled in for tomorrow, but with the snowstorm we're supposed to get, I figured if I wanted to get the miles in, I had better go today. I typically don't run long on the roads from home, but Ryan had an 8-mile loop mapped out, one that I have actually driven many times in the past year when trying to put Sam for a nap. The route goes up Rt. 201 for a bit and then turns onto Meadow Cross Road, wandering through the countryside and eventually connecting up to Rt. 196. Then it is back on Rt. 196 to Rt. 201. The section along Meadow Cross is actually quite scenic, with nice and rolling terrain, through open fields and past a few farms. Nothing too tough, but there are enough little dips and hills to keep you working. However, the last 2 miles along 196 were pretty brutal. Yes, the shoulder is really wide, but it was almost 4:00 in the afternoon by the time I reached that section, and there was a constant stream of traffic, not to mention this stretch was in my face the whole way. I had to run past both the on and off ramps to 295, and run the busy stretch from the Topsham Mall back up to Rt. 201. I was not pleased on this stretch, but it did make me pick up the pace a bit in those final miles, that's for sure :-) I finished the 8.0 miles in 1:05:48. I was trying to run a decent but measured effort, and I succeeded for the most part, I think, with my slowest mile being my first (8:35) and the fastest being miles 3, 7 and 8 (8:05s). Pretty happy with that.

And with that run done, bring on the snow! It would be nice to get some skiing in this weekend for sure!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sam at 15 Months

Sam had her 15 month appointment this morning. She is weighing in at 19 lbs 7 oz and is now 28 3/4" long. This puts her in the 5th percentile for weight and the 10th for height. Her head circumference remained the same at 17 1/2", which is the 10th percentile. We have definitely noticed since she started walking that her little legs and arms have thinned out, so we weren't super surprised to learn that she hadn't gained much weight since her last appointment, but yes indeed, she is tiny! :-) We're currently taking bets as to whether or not she'll ever reach 5 feet tall. I'm still holding out hope, but Ryan thinks she might be in the booster seat forever!

This is a really fun age. Sam is changing and growing and learning daily. She has a number of words that she uses frequently, "Hi," "Bye bye", "Hi G(igi)", "Bye Dado," "Daddy," "Mama," "Nite Nite," "Dank u (thank you)," "Hi there," "Ball," "nano (banana)," "Baby," "uh oh!," as well a lot of animal sounds, such as "Moo," "Wad Wad (waddle waddle)" for penguin, "Oh Oh" (for monkey), "Woof woof," "meow," "roar" (for tiger and/or lion). She knows and uses the signs for "more," "please," "hat," "eat/hungry" and "all done," and she will point at herself and then at something she wants to let us know she is interested in a particular item. She also knows how to say "no" and will shake her head, "no no no." It's actually quite cute :-) She waves hi and bye, and blows kisses, which is totally adorable, making the "Mmmwwwaaa" sound when she does so. She gives hugs while patting our backs, and loves to share, although she often takes what she was sharing right back :-) She loves to read her books, "talk" on the phone, can turn the cable box and the lights on and off, and is interested in anything with buttons. She is definitely getting more coordinated and can put the easier shapes, like the circle, square and triangle, back into the shape sorter, and build towers with her Mega Blocks. She understands simple directions and knows what we are asking of her and can follow through most of the time.

She can walk on her own, but still prefers to run around holding onto one of our fingers. It's much faster :-) She can stand herself up and start walking, stop and bend to pick something, anything, up off the floor, and then stand back up and keep going. She likes to groove to music and "dance." She's still a social butterfly, waving and smiling at people in stores and restaurants, and is a little chatterbox, talking and babbling and cooing and oohing when she's happy and contented. She is such a happy baby - smiling and grinning and goofing and smirking and making funny faces at us. She'll eat a lot when she's hungry, and is a definite carboholic! Pity the piece of protein or stray vegetable that should dare get on her tray :-)  She loves Gigi and Ronnie, and pats the bed to "call" them up next to her, like I do to Ronnie. She follows Gigi around, patting and grabbing and trying to hug her. She will "throw" balls and napkins to Gigi and follow her around trying to give her a ball or a piece of food. They're going to be a pair of trouble-makers when Sam gets a little older :-) Ha!

And to prove what a goof she is, here you go!

Silly girl (Don't you love the hair and the goofy sunglasses?)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Windy and Creaky 5

This morning we went out to Jimmy K's in Georgetown for breakfast. Not quite Broadway Deli, but pretty tasty :-) And Sam about ate her weight in pancakes! She was not messing around. Not to mention that she was charming the patrons left and right. She is one social girl, she is.

When we got back to Irene and Dana's, I put Sam down for a nap. And then we sat on the couch, chatting and drinking coffee, and watching the wind picking up the sugary 2" of snow that fell overnight and swirling it up into the sky. My stomach was full of pancakes and eggs. My legs were feeling creaky. Wouldn't it be so much nicer to just sit here on the couch? But, Irene and Dana offered to keep watch over Sam while we went out for a run together, and well, these days we just can't turn down an offer like that. So, out the door we went. It wasn't super cold out, but it sure was windy. And I sure was feeling creaky and not super energetic. We plodded along the roads, griping and chatting, and I can't say it was the most enjoyable run ever. But, it was good to get out and get the blood flowing through my legs after yesterday's run. And it was nice to have another chance to run with Ryan. And, wouldn't you know, once we stopped and stretched and gotten back into the warm house, I sure did feel happy we had gotten out for a run :-)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

18 at the GAC Fat Ass

With my work schedule and now with Sam, all major weekend events need to be thought out and prepared for months in advance. So we decided months ago that we would head south this weekend to run in the GAC Fat Ass. We ran it in 2009 with a big group of Trail Monsters, and it was lots of fun. This year, there wasn't quite as strong a showing of Trail Monsters, maybe in part due to the weather reports of a major storm which never materialized, but it was still a good time.

Ryan's parents live about 15 minutes away from Bradley Palmer, where the Fat Ass is held, so we drove down last night after work. They happily agreed to hang out with the kiddo while we ran, and we were able to sleep in a bit (although unintentionally, as Sam went back to sleep after waking up at 6am to eat, and didn't wake up for the day until 7:25!), and still make it to the start on time. Jamie and Kate pulled into the parking lot soon after us, and although Erik and Kevin were there, unfortunately we never saw them. However, there were more than enough other runners out to join in on the fun. The lot was overflowing, and it was a good crowd at the start! We took off right at 9am, and I got a bit lost in the crowd, trailing behind Ryan and Jamie for a bit until things opened up on the flats and I could catch back up. They seemed to be running at a pace I could hold, so I thought I'd hang onto them for as long as I could. We ended up staying together through lap #2 (12 miles), which was great. We were in the midst of a small group of runners here and there, but mostly it was just the three of us chugging along together.

The conditions were pretty decent, mostly packed snow and ice with a few short sections of powdery snow and a few stretches of bare ground mixed in. The screw shoes did their job, grabbing well the whole way, and although things were a bit uneven, it wasn't tough running. And with the mix of fields and wood roads, plus a fun stretch of twisty, hilly single track, the loop was a nice one. In fact, the miles just clicked on by as we chatted and laughed, and enjoyed the course. It is amazing how easily and happily runs can go when you're sharing the miles with friends!

Still, by the last mile of the second lap, I was starting to feel a bit tired, and decided I would let Ryan and Jamie go on ahead. I probably could have hung on, but I figured I might be a bit happier if I could just do the last lap at my own pace, especially since this would be my longest run in this training cycle yet, and with my cold earlier this week it hadn't exactly been an ideal week of training. In the end, I was only a few minutes behind them, but it was just enough that they were out of sight. It had gotten pretty quiet out there, but I did catch up with two guys who we had passed earlier on, and ran with them for most of the rest of the loop. The last loop was slower by a few minutes, but overall, I felt pretty good.

The snow was falling as I finished up my last loop - 3:05 for 18.0 miles (including all bathroom and aid station stops) - and stopped at the aid station to chat with Kate and grab a few goodies from the abundant table of treats to eat. Jamie and Ryan had gone on to finish up their planned mileage for the day - 20 for Jamie and 26.2 for Ryan - nice job guys! - and although I probably could have gone on, I really was more than happy to stop and was thrilled to get in 18 solid miles for the day. It was a great morning out on the trails! Thanks to the GAC crew for hosting such a fun event!

Flora and fauna notes: The park had a suet feeder which was host to a big group of chickadees, juncoes, sparrows, a pair of cardinals, white breasted nuthatches, titmice, a Downy Woodpecker and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker (cool! haven't seen one of those before!). We also saw a Barred Owl fly over us as we ran along through one of the fields. Neat!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Midweek Five

I hit the roads this morning for 5 miles on the Highland Green loop. It was chilly, but nice and sunny, with no breeze. I opted to go out on the Connector, but on the return, I decided to chance the powerlines. It's only a short 1/2 mile stretch between the high school road and the Highland Green road, so it couldn't be that bad. And lo and behold, the trail was a perfect running surface. Solid and packed by a few snowmobiles with great grip. I wasn't wearing my screw shoes but I really didn't need them. If the rest of the lines were in the same shape, it would have been a great run. Who knows if that was a case, but as it was, what I did run was a nice little stretch and a good chance of pace from both the runs and the icy unevenness of the trails in the Commons.

Taking three days off at the beginning of the week to get rid of this cold was worth it, as I am feeling 99% over it, but it means this week hasn't quite gone as planned running-wise. Oh well. I suppose I have to factor in the unexpected, especially these days. Still, I'm hoping to end the week with a bang, getting in some good miles at the GAC Fat Ass on Saturday. The weather and trail conditions might make things interesting, but my plan is to get in 3 6-mile loops. We'll see how it goes, but it should be fun!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Busy Busy

We're getting to that time of year when the gallery gets quiet, so I had an extra day off today. I felt ever so slightly guilty about putting Sam into daycare today when I could have her home with me, but that guilt was assuaged by my wonderful friends who pointed out a myriad of reasons that I shouldn't feel that way. I will undoubtedly keep her out a few days here and there in the next few months, but honestly, I have a laundry list of things I want/need to do around the house that are pretty much impossible to do with Sam around. When I'm home with her, pretty much all I can get done is play :-) Which isn't bad, but you know what I mean...

So, this morning, after dropping Sam off at daycare, I came home, threw the sheets into the wash, cleaned up the kitchen, and then donned my screw shoes and headed over to the Commons for a run. I haven't run since Saturday in an attempt to get rid of the cold I picked up from either Sam or Ryan over the weekend, and although I didn't feel 100%, I was ready to move! With the warm weather over the weekend, and the heavy traffic the Commons gets, the surface had been packed very unevenly to either straight ice, or a very slick hard snow. Not exactly a fast running surface (at least for me) and it was the slowest 5 miles I've run in a long while. But, it was a beautiful morning, I had the day off and I was out for a run in the woods. I can't complain too much now, can I?! :-)

The rest of the day was spent scrubbing the shower to within an inch of its life, doing more laundry, going through Sam's closet and organizing/packing up old clothes/putting together a pile for donation, cleaning the house, doing the recycling, going grocery shopping and getting dinner ready before picking Sam up a bit early for some extra playtime at home. All in all a productive day, and I'm happy to be sitting on the couch relaxing a bit right now!

Here are a few Sam photos from the past few days:

Hugs for Gigi
Sam is really into Gigi at the moment. And Gigi just can't seem to stay away. Which means there is a lot of chasing Gigi around, squealing for Gigi, grabbing Gigi's hair and trying to hug her. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't :-)

And just here is Sam, dressed in a cute outfit from her Auntie Meg, happily playing with some of her new Christmas toys:

All smiles

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dinner Entertainment

Ryan took this short video at dinner tonight.  Yup, Sam is one funny character, and life is certainly not boring these days with her walking, talking and smiling her impish little smile, especially when she is headed exactly where we didn't want her to go :-)

*Edited to add that you need to be logged into Facebook to view the video. Unfortunately, Ryan can't download the original off his IPhone and when we share it from Facebook it requires a log-in to view the video. Sorry to all who don't have Facebook!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

As expected, I was in bed way before midnight. And no alcohol consumed last night either. Yup, we're just a bunch of party animals here :-) Ah well. I've never thought too much of New Year's Eve as a holiday, although I do like waking up to a whole new year, bright and untarnished, full of promise. Plus there's nothing like a blank training log to look at and dream about filling with all sorts of great runs and adventures :-)

So far, I've managed to avoid getting sick, so mid-morning, while Ryan rested and Sam took her nap, I headed out for a short 3 mile run. In shorts. In 51 degree weather. On January 1st! Crazy!

I was definitely feeling the effects of yesterday's pace and distance. My legs did not want to move, and everything felt stiff. I ran the flattest route around, two laps around the high school road, and it was a bit of a struggle. But I am glad I did, as it did work to loosened things up a bit.

It was such a beautiful day that we didn't want to waste the rest of it hanging out inside, so after Sam woke up from her nap, we loaded her, the baby backpack and our snowshoes in the car and headed over to Bradbury. Ryan was happy for a chance to move a bit, since he hasn't really run this week, and he was also interested in checking out some of the singletrack to be featured in his upcoming snowshoe race series.

The park lot was packed with cars. I guess others had the same idea! In fact, the car we parked next to belonged to an old high school friend of mine! Wow. How random is that?! Turns out, she, her partner and their 4 1/2 month old baby girl live in South Portland. It really is a small world. After chatting for a bit, we headed out onto the trails. The singletrack on Krista's Trail was really nice snowshoeing, as it wasn't as well -packed or traveled as the rest of the main trails, and we saw lots of deer tracks and deer beds as we shoed along the winding trail through the trees. Sam seemed to really enjoy herself and chattered away in the backpack the whole time. From the Tote Road, we headed up towards the summit on the Bluff Trail and then down along the Switchback. It was fun tromping through the woods on such a nice (if tropical) afternoon!

Deer beds 
Through the woods
Happy snowshoers