Saturday, December 31, 2011

Final Run of 2011

I had planned to head out this morning for my final run of the year, but just as I was about to change into my running clothes, the skies opened up. So instead, we all went to the Brunswick Winter Market, and wandered around, picking up some vegetables, bread, apples, eggs and a delicious homemade bagel to munch on. It's great to see the winter market thriving in town! Gotta love having local foods available year-round! The weather seemed a bit better by the time Sam went down for a nap, so I suited up and headed out before I could change my mind. Rain and mist and 34 degrees isn't exactly prime running weather, but hey. I got in a nice, slow run down to the river and back this morning to round out my 2011 mileage to 1375.

Conditions were interesting, to say the least. I wore my screw shoes and am glad I did. The trails and roads were a mix of frozen and just plain wet, slippery and crunchy, solid and post-holey. I tiptoed across the icy bog bridges and along the edge of the puddles. It wasn't ideal running weather, but it's always nice along the river and the ice build up along the banks was pretty, as were the iced-over bushes along the now grey and brown Heath.

While 1375 miles isn't huge compared to some, it's a good step forward in my training. I have definitely struggled at times trying to balance running and working with spending time with Sam and Ryan, but I am very lucky to have a crazy runner :) as a husband and to have a job which allows me a bit of extra time in the mornings to get in my workouts, and feel like I did a decent job of making the best use of the time I had to run and balancing most things most days. I'd never say I perfected the balance thing because I think that's impossible, but we do the best we can, right?!

I'm pretty proud of how I raced this year. After my failed attempt at 50k in 2010, I came back with two 50k finishes this year, as well as some solid running at the Bradbury races this summer. I still can't believe I managed to win the series - I've never done anything like that before, so that was fun! :-) The only race I wasn't all that happy with was the Old Port Half Marathon, but hey. They can't be all good days, right?! In any event, I'm considering 2011 a solid year running-wise and hoping I can continue the trend into 2012!

Aside from the running highlights, we are happy and healthy and blessed with wonderful family and friends; we constantly say to each other that we feel so lucky to have fallen in with such a great, diverse and nice group of people who first started as a group of people to run with, and who we now count as friends; we were able to make two fun visits this year to NC for vacation and to spend time with my parents; Ryan started his own business; and we end the year the proud parents of a 26 month old who is seeming more and more like a big girl every day, who talks to us in full sentences, who listens and absorbs everything around her, who runs and "stretches" just like Mama and Daddo, who smiles big, has lots of energy and is a total character. She makes us laugh (and sometimes shake our heads in frustration) and is, in general, a joy to be around. We are lucky, indeed!

Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy and laughter-filled 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011


Cool and overcast this morning. I hit the Highland Green cart path and the trails around Mt. Ararat for a slight variation on the loop, ending up with 6.25 miles. Only 5.5 on tap for tomorrow to reach the nice, neat number of 1,375.00 miles for the year. Like Ryan said, nothing obsessive about wanting it to be exactly 1375, not 1374 or 1376!! Ha. I wish I had realized sooner how close I was to 1400. I might have pushed for that, but oh well. There is always next year ;-)

Speaking of next year, I have a lot of ideas floating around in my brain for 2012, but I'll get to that in another post :-)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter's Back!

The temperature spread between this morning's run and yesterday's was 33 degrees. Talk about a world of difference! The wind was whipping, my eyes were watering, I was wearing my warmest running coat, the ground was frozen solid and instead of puddles, there were rivers of ice. I guess winter has decided to return! I ran out of time to get in my planned 5 miles, so just hit the Highland Green loop for a quick 3 instead.


Sam is really a true conversationalist these days. I actually feel like I'm talking to a real person when I talk with her :-) Yesterday, we debated for about 10 minutes back and forth over why she could not wear a short sleeve shirt to school. Of course, she is two, and I should not be having a debate with her about what she wears! Aren't I the parent here?!

She made us all laugh last night at Morgan's birthday party, when she told Kristen, "I need cake!" Apparently, in her two-year old mind there is no distinguishing between necessity and desires :-)

She is facing forward in her car seat now, and loves watching the world out the front windshield. Every time we get to a light, she tells us either, "Green says go" or "Red says stop." Thanks, kiddo. How did we ever get by without you?! :-)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This and That

After an uneventful flight back north, we headed to Ryan's parent's house, and had round #2 of Christmas on Monday with Ryan's family. Sam had lots of fun opening her presents, and playing with everyone. Thanks guys! It was a short, but sweet, visit!

Lego fun with Great Grammie

Cars with Bampie

Ready for winter!

With all the excitement, there was no time to run, and once we got home, I spent the evening and then all of my free time yesterday catching up after being away for 11 days. But this morning, it was bright and beautiful and warm (51!), and my to-do list was reasonable, so I headed out for a run. I ran the powerlines for five ushy-gushy, squishy-sloppy, slippery-sketchy, postholey, muddy miles. I came back with my shoes and legs covered in mud. Good to be back in the trail shoes again :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas, Golf Courses, Sand Traps and PJs

Merry Christmas! Wishing everyone a day that is merry and bright!

I got out on the quiet cart paths this morning for a 6 mile run. It was chilly, but the sun was warm. Only the birds were out to keep me company as I ran along. The highlight was a pair of Red-Headed Woodpeckers on hole #5. Very cool. Also saw a number of herons, 2 egrets, cormorants, 3 grebes, bluebirds, blue jays, robins, juncos, sparrows, a Hairy Woodpecker, chickadees, and some turkey vultures soaring in the air currents overhead.

We took advantage of the quiet golf course a little later too, and let Sam run around and play in the sand traps. Poor etiquette, probably, but we made sure to rake up after her. And who wants to deny a little kid the chance to run around in her PJs and play in her own private sandbox on a sunny and bright Christmas morn?! :-)

Hill repeats in the bunker

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Festivities

We treated today as Christmas, as we're traveling tomorrow. Sam doesn't know the difference, so it seemed to make sense. We woke up, opened presents, ate breakfast, let Sam play with her toys for a while, and then, what else? Went swimming! Then we came home and ate some more :-)

Ryan and I finally got out for a run around 3pm. I thought I would take Ryan along the path by the river to the River Lodge and then back via the Nature Trail and the roads. It was evident almost immediately that Ryan was not really feeling it, but then it went from bad to worse, and the last few miles were a slow shuffle, and rather painful for him, I know. Not exactly a cheery run together like I had planned. Ah well. Hopefully after a little more rest, Ryan will be back to feeling like his old self! :-)

We finished up the evening by watching a beautiful sunset out the back door, and enjoying a delicious dinner followed by yummy gingerbread and cookies. It has been a great visit here at my parent's house, and we have all had a lot of fun! Thanks, Mom and Dad, for having us! And Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

The tree

Sam getting her stocking

The art project wreath ornament

Mr. Potato Head!

A neat color match/coordination game from my parents

Making a butterfly

Bike helmet! Now we just need her to reach the pedals on the tricycle :)

Feeding her new babydoll


Swimming with Mama

Daddo's gonna getcha!

Playdough fun

Friday, December 23, 2011


A full day. A full belly. Both are appropriate for today.

We started out at the Children's Museum down in Wilmington this morning. Sam had a lot of fun, and really enjoyed it. Last time we were here, in March, we went there too, but this time around, with Sam just a bit older and more sure of herself, it was an even better way to spend a morning. In fact, I think she would have stayed all day if we had let her!

Slide fun

Gotta love a train track

Grocery shopping

Ringing it all up

Big shoes!

Then of course, we had to hit Flaming Amy's for lunch before heading home,  and Mom and Dad had been talking up Boombalatti's, a homemade ice cream place nearby -delicious! - so we had to stop there too. Just twist my arm! I held Sam up to the ice cream case, and when she saw the Funfetti flavor inside (vanilla with sprinkles), she pointed and said "I need that!" I guess that one is Morgan's favorite too, which got Sam even more excited to eat it up :-)

Yum! Rice!

Enjoying our ice cream!

I love Boombalatti's!

Eating "Morgum's ice cream" :-)

Ryan and I did squeeze in a 4 mile run around 4pm - our first run together since we've been down here, and his first since the 50 miler. He did great, although I know his legs are feeling pretty tight, and my "speedy" pace of 8:15s on the flat pancake route was making him work more than he would have liked. Although nice to get out, I am not sure the miles did much to combat all the rich food we put into our belly today. For dinner, Ryan and I headed to the clubhouse for a dinner out courtesy of Mom and Dad (thanks guys!). We finished off our meal with creme brulee. Delish! But oh my gosh, am I full! Ah well, I guess that's what vacation is for right? Right?!

Anyway, while we were gone, it appears Sam had a great time playing with Neenie and Pippi, and went to bed easily for them too. Hurray!

Playing ball

Laughing with Pippi

Ready, set, throw!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Can it really be winter? It must be 70 degrees out down here in NC today! It feels more like summer! I got out for a nice jaunt this morning around 8:45. It was warm, and I got sweaty. I ran 5.8 miles down along the river, on the nature path and back through on the streets. I got a good chuckle out of a heron who had settled on the very tippy top of an old, very thin, bare tree. He looked so large compared to the treetop!

Here's a photo of Sam out enjoying the nice weather! She also had fun tromping around in the puddles this morning with Neenie while I ran, and we spent a little time in the pool before lunchtime. Somehow all this did not quite tire her out enough, as she has been talking away up in her crib for about an hour now! I guess it's time to go up and tell her it is sleepy time (again)...

Watering the plants (and the grass, and the dirt) :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cookie and Craft Fun

Sam has been loving "helping" in the kitchen during this visit with my parents! Yesterday afternoon, she helped us out as we finished up a batch of Christmas cookies. She might have gotten carried away sugaring a few of the cookies, but she sure had a good time :-)

The baker :-)

Making sure all the cookies are covered...

Shake, shake!

And now some green...

Big smile!

Very proud of her creations :-)

We also got out the paints yesterday, and made a big sign to congratulate Ryan on his race. Sam had fun painting all over it! Here is the finished product. Ryan was very surprised! And I know he was just happy to be able to give little Sammy a hug again :-) It was a long time for him to be away. 

The banner


Getting big hugs from Sam

This morning I got in a nice 4.5 mile run while Neenie and Pippi took Sam swimming. She had a great time, and I had a good tour of the neighborhood. It was a gorgeous morning to be out, and my legs had a bit more pep in them than they did yesterday, despite Sam being up many, many times in the night last night. There were a number of herons along the big pond out along the berm, as well as a few cormorants and a lot of canada geese. I also passed a tree (a sycamore, I think) with a ton of tufted titmice and yellow rumped warblers flitting about. I stopped to watch and listen for a while, just because their songs and calls were so pretty and there were so many of them. The kingfisher was sitting on a tree branch near the pond along the main street as I ran past too. Planning to take tomorrow off and then get in a few more runs later this week. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Heron Shadows

It is just my mom and I entertaining Sam today, as my dad, bless his heart, offered to drive to Charlotte to pick up Ryan (Ryan had rented a car from Charlotte to Chattanooga and back) so that Ryan didn't have to rent another car from there and drive another 4 hours alone to their house. Isn't he sweet? Thanks Dad!!! Sam, Neenie and I did some painting this morning, went on an "adventure" to the grocery store and hit the playground on the way home before lunchtime. All the excitement of the past few days seems to have caught up with Sam, as she didn't protest to naptime at all, and fell right asleep.

The golf courses are closed on Mondays through the winter, so I decided to take the opportunity to get in a run on the cart paths today. My parent's house is on hole #7 of the Landing Course, so I got on the path right out back, and followed it as it meandered along ponds, past houses and crisscrossed the roads throughout the neighborhood. It was breezy and a bit cool (by NC standards, anyway!), but the sun was warm. I was surprised at how quiet the course was. I figured others would be out taking advantage of the cart paths on a nice day like today. It seemed to just be me, and the herons. I kept seeing them everywhere. With the sun high in the sky, when one of them flew over, the shadow seemed huge, their big flapping wing span accentuated. For some reason, I envision the prehistoric flying pterodactyls to look like herons, flapping through the skies in search of their next meal. I don't know why. Anyway, I love that there are so many of the herons around. They are comical looking, while at the same time elegant. Their plumage and coloring are beautiful. They roost in trees, for goodness sake. What's not to like?

So, if you follow the Landing Course cart paths the whole way around, it comes to 6.25 miles. You know, just in case you're in the area, and want to take a look at all the herons :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 in River Landing

After Sam woke up this morning, she went in and read a few books on my parent's bed with them, as I sat out in the kitchen, quietly drinking my coffee and watching the sun rise above the frosted grass and the thin layer of low-lying fog. Beautiful. I waited a while longer before heading out on my run, but it was still crisp and cool when I got out around 8:00. I was glad I had packed a pair of tights. It actually felt like winter. I had an idea of a route in mind. I think you could probably wander this community for 20 miles or so if you ran all the streets, so I figured I wouldn't have trouble coming up with 12 miles. I ran out to the River Lodge on the same trail I had run the other day. Mist was rising from the river, and it was very peaceful out in the woods. Once again, I took the nature trail back to the pavement, and then at the club house, turned left and out to "the bluffs," the edge of the community. It is fairly far out there, and seems sort of desolate, but there are a few houses here and there. When I got to the end, I looped back around, taking one or two side roads so that I would be around 8 miles when I got back to the club house. From there, I ran down to the entrance and along the gravel path by the berm, arriving back at my parent's house at exactly 12.5 miles. Perfect.

While I wasn't all that keen on running all those miles on the roads, the one nice thing about a very flat, mostly road, route is I was able to crank out the miles a bit more quickly than I might have otherwise, finishing is 1:43. I also was out on a beautiful crisp morning, and saw a lot of wildlife. During the time I was out exploring the complex, I saw: 4 great blue herons, 1 egret, 1 bald eagle, 4 deer, 7 cardinals, 1 belted kingfisher, 1 red-headed nuthatch, a handful of bluebirds, lots of blue jays, chickadees, juncos, sparrows and other unidentifiable LBJs (little brown jobbies :-)), 1 flicker, 1 red-headed woodpecker, and what I think were 2 grebes in one of the many ponds I passed. With the mix of ponds, pine forest, deciduous trees, open fields and a fair amount of undeveloped land along the river and the golf courses, this certainly seems to be a great area for bird watching, which makes what would otherwise be fairly ho-hum running a lot more fun for me!

After I got back from my run, we went up to the pool. Sam was much braver this time around, and walked right down the ramp. We took some small soft balls for her to throw around, and wow! She has a great overhead throw! Definitely a lefty too. It was pretty interesting watching her try to throw right-handed; you could tell it took a lot more concentration and the results were not as good. We did a bit of kicking and floating too, and she handled the few mouthfuls of water she got much better than the other day. We lasted about a 1/2 hour before her little lips started to turn blue and we headed home for lunch and naptime.

Here are a few photos from our pool time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

50 Miles and a Day Off

First off, a HUGE congrats to Ryan for not only completing his first 50 miler, but completing it in style, in 9:23, coming in 27th place in the Lookout Mountain race! Way to go Ryan!!!!!! We were on pins and needles all day long waiting to hear from him, and I was so happy to hear his voice soon after the finish, and hear that he sounded strong and happy, if not pretty darn tired. We are all so proud of you, Ryan! Awesome, awesome, awesome.

While Ryan ran over hill and dale today, I took a day off from running and we kept ourselves busy waiting for news from the Chattanooga hills.

We colored...

...and went up to the playground to play. Sam only wanted to swing on the swings, nothing else... and she wasn't afraid to swing high!

After which, we came inside and made and played with homemade playdough, while Sam wore one of Neenie's adorable aprons. So cute!

During clean-up, Sam played in the sink with pots and pans, and soap and water, and made a mess :-)

Later in the evening, we had a delicious pasta dinner... Can you see the pasta sauce spread across Sam's face?! :-)

...and we played hide and seek with Pippi, and raced around the house until it was time for bed! Just enough to tire a little munchkin out and put her right to sleep after bathtime :-)

These vacation days are very exciting, aren't they?! :-) But they sure are fun!