Thursday, March 31, 2011

Short

Although yesterday was beautiful, and my last "extra" day off for the winter, I didn't get out to run. The combination of getting home late on Tuesday combined with Sam feeling a bit off and subsequently getting up a lot in the night, not to mention Ronnie's yowlings at 5am, meant that I did not get a lot of sleep, and I just didn't feel great when I woke up on Wednesday. But there was work to be done, so I ran around and got the house back in order, did laundry, cleaned, cooked, grocery shopped, all of which was necessary after a week away! After all the chores were done, I think I might have changed my mind later in the afternoon and actually gone out for a run anyway, except that I was called in to pick Sam up early from daycare. She had a high fever. Poor baby girl!

She perked up a bit after some dinner and a dose of ibuprofin, but woke up in the middle of the night with yet another high temperature reading on the thermometer. We all managed to go back to sleep, but I was still tired when I woke up around 6am. However, I knew I was going to be home with Sam, so I forced myself up and out the door at 6:30am for a quick run before Ryan headed over to New Hampshire for work. It was a really pretty morning - crisp and clear, with the sun just rising above the trees as I hit the high ground on the powerlines by the high school, turning the horizon a brilliant orange. Very pretty. All things considered, I felt pretty good for the 3 miles, and I was happy what was left of the snow between the school and Highland Green Road was still nice and packed, which made the going easier.

When I got home, I made the call to Cordelia telling her that after a week away, I was going to be away for yet another day. Luckily it is still quiet at the gallery, but it was still bad timing. Of course, maybe there is never good timing for being sick! I took Sam in to the doctor after she woke up, and turns out she has an ear infection in her right ear and conjunctivitis. Poor kid. Hopefully the antibiotics will kick in quickly and she'll feel better soon.

She's sleeping at the moment, and I'm relaxing, enjoying the flurry of activity out at the birdfeeder. A pair of white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinch, juncoes, chickadees, sparrows and what I think was a house finch have been feasting away on the seeds. Must be lunchtime!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Much Better

We awoke to a light frost coating the golf course out back. The thermometer read 33 degrees as the sun began to light up the sky a few minutes before 7am. Ryan and Dad decided it was just a bit too cold to play golf this morning, so we had a leisurely morning instead, and around 9:30, Ryan and I headed out for a run while Mom, Dad and Sam suited up in their sneakers to head out for a short walk. It was still cool out, but the sun was bright and warm. I was still feeling fatigued, but my legs had a bit more spring. All in all, a much better day to be out and a much better run than yesterday, with the 3 miles coming much more easily.

We ran down to the mail boxes to drop off a letter for Dad, and then meandered back to their house on the dirt/gravel path along the edge of the River Landing property. The path winds through some trees and then along some of the man-made ponds at the edge of the golf course, and today, the route made for some excellent birding.

We saw a group of around two dozen cormorants and two Great Blue Herons in one pond, and scared up a beautiful Great Heron from the edge of another pond, where he stood silently stalking fish. Groups of swallows swarmed and dove above us, and a few red-winged blackbirds chattered amongst the shrubs, along with the resident robins, mockingbirds and brown thrashers. A pair of turkey vultures rode the air currents high above, and we flushed a pair of Bald Eagles up into the trees and then back out over the fields as we ran along. The Eagles soared and swooped, making their way over towards my parent's house, where Mom, Dad, Sam and a few neighbors stood in the backyard watching the mighty birds flying over as the bluebirds flitted in and out of the bird house. I guess everyone had decided it was a better day indeed and was out to enjoy it :-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ouch

Well, that was painful. I think the three miles we just ran might have been more painful than Saturday's race. Ouch! Not to mention, it was 39 degrees, misty and windy. That didn't make it any more pleasant. But we powered through, contemplating our twinges, heads down against the wind. Hopefully the next run out will feel a bit better!

Luckily, the morning was a lot more fun than our afternoon run! Since it wasn't exactly a good day to play outside, we headed down to Wilmington to the Children's Museum. Sam had a blast, although she may have been a bit overwhelmed by all the exhibits and the older kids running around. She particularly enjoyed the grocery store. The carts were just her size!

 
Grocery shopping
After running around the museum for a while, we headed to Ryan's favorite Wilmington lunch spot - Flaming Amy's. Sam loved the funky decor, and bopped to the music in her highchair. She also thoroughly enjoyed her quesadilla!

Chomp chomp!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Big Thank You

I realized that I was remiss in my race report, and didn't include a HUGE thank you to my parents for watching Sam all day yesterday while we raced. They took over monitor duty at 6am when we left the house, and watched Sam from the time she woke up at 6:40am, all through the race, and into the evening, walking around with her in the restaurant when she didn't want to sit in her highchair for dinner. It was a big job and we couldn't have gotten through our races without their help. Thank you thank you Nanie and Pip!!!!

They didn't pull into Lake Waccamaw until right as Ryan was finishing - they weren't expecting him to run quite so fast! - so there are no finishing photos of the winner from their camera unfortunately, but here are a few shots from their time at the park:

"Daddo, why are you so sweaty?!"
Walking on the Visitor's Center ramp
Ryan sporting his TMR gear and a post-race waddle

The final stretch

Happy finisher
"Mom, let's go! Why won't you get up to walk with me?! What, you ran 31 miles? Who cares?? There are places to go!!!"
We've decided to take the day off from running today - not only is it 46 degrees and rainy, but we're both still waddling around, so it seems like the thing to do. Hopefully we'll feel a bit more human by tomorrow!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2011 Gator Trail 50k Race Report

I may not have talked much about today's Gator Trail 50k, but I sure have been thinking a lot about it over the past few months. After last May's DNF at Pineland, I really really wanted to get the 50k monkey off my back, so to speak, and when Ryan suggested the Gator Trail many months ago, it seemed like a great plan. A chance for redemption. A bit of a vacation. A chance to visit my parents and get a race in. What's not to love? Of course, then reality hit, and I didn't quite get in as many long runs as I had hoped for this winter, and certainly didn't do as much training as Ryan did over the past few months. But I felt strong, and I began to harbor hope for not only a finish, but a decent finish. In my mind, and said out loud to only a few, my "reach" goal was 4:30, with 9:30 pace being my "tough, but possible and if so, it would be awesome" goal, and just plain finishing without collapsing being my main goal. I'm happy to say I managed to finish in 4:47:11, and although the Garmin measured only 30.2, I'm calling it 50k which that means I ran 9:15ish pace. Woohoo! I also managed to come in 2nd for the women, which was an added bonus. Then again, the total finisher pool was likely only in the 30s and there might have been only 7 or 8 women out there, but I'll take it! :-) Redemption is sweet. Now if I could only walk normally, all would be good :-)

Speaking of sweet, Ryan WON.THE.WHOLE.THING! 1st overall in a blistering time of 3:56:29. Awesome work, Snowman! You rock!! I'm so happy for you. You earned it.

The day started out with us leaving the house at 6am, in the pitch black, and heading out on some winding, middle of nowhere roads to reach Lake Waccamaw State Park. We saw one deer and one coyote on the drive, and luckily, both bounded away from the car off the road instead of into the car. Phew. I was my typical race morning nervous mess disaster with my stomach in knots the whole drive. I felt better after we made a pit stop at a random convenience store along the way.

We arrived in plenty of time before the 8am start, getting our numbers, checking out the competition and setting up our own personal aid station by the car. Runners milled around the parking lot, coming and going, and finally it was time to line up. The thing was that there was really no starting line. The race director gave us some directions, said "Oh, and don't litter" and then said "OK, ready, set, go." We were all sort of spread out in the parking lot, so everyone just started their watches where they stood and took off. It was pretty funny. Ryan sped to the front, and I called out "Hope you know where you're going, Ryan!" That got a good laugh from the crowd as we ran down the drive and took the first turn into the pine forest.

The run consisted of five 10k loops. The loop started and ended on pavement in the Visitor's Center/parking area, and took us on most of the trails through the park. It was very flat. The first stretch was through the pine forest which had had a very recent controlled burn. A few ashes still smoldered along the edge of the trail. The trail through most of this stretch was loose sand, and the air smelled of smoke. Then another short pavement stretch and further into the park, on yet another wide sandy trail. Here we passed the primitive camp area, where a big group of Boy Scouts had set up camp. A few runners around me joked about just wanting to go curl up by the fire instead of continuing the run. Sounded pretty good to me! But alas, on we ran. From there, we ran up to the lake, turned left and headed out onto a 0.6 mile spur, at the end of which was a board with our names and where we were to stick a sticker on each lap. Gotta keep us honest! This was the only chance to get a look at who was around you as you went out and back. And it was here, on the first lap, that I had my one and only glimpse of Ryan for the rest of the run.

After completing the out-and-back spur, the trail meandered along the edge of the lake, twisting and turning through the trees, the trail pine and leaf covered, with a bit of sand and lots of roots to grab at your feet. It was actually really pretty through here, and was probably my favorite stretch of trail, although I'd say it was also the hardest, or at least the most technical. The loop finished with a long stretch on a wide boardwalk that led from the Visitor's Center out to the lake and a return to the parking area.

The first loop went quickly, and I was surrounded by people the whole way, but as we went back through the start/finish area, things thinned out a bit. However, I did end up running part of lap #2 with a Marine who had been stationed for a number of years in Brunswick. What are the chances of that?! We had fun chatting, but he left me in the dust at the turn-around point, and I was on my own. I did leap-frog back and forth with a few guys as the rest of the loops went by, and I kept noticing on the out-and-back stretch that the lead woman was getting further and further ahead, but still, through the end of lap #3, I still felt strong and comfortable.

Admittedly, as I started out on lap #4, with 18 miles on my legs, the sand started to be a bigger deal and the little ups and downs started to feel bigger. But by now, I knew what was ahead of me, and I broke the loop up into segments, chugging along gamely as best I could. My average pace definitely slowed from the start of loop 1 to the start of loop 4, but I think I did an OK job of  keeping things pretty even throughout, with most of the slow down occurring because of my pee breaks, and the stops at the start/finish to get my sticker and at the out-and-back turn around on each lap. I also walked through the start/finish drinking water and eating a few chips at the start of lap #4 and #5. Anyway, I won't pick at hairs here, because, really, it was a great run and I'm very happy with it. I am extra happy that in the last few miles of lap #5, when I was tired and so wanting to be done, I managed to talk myself into (I really did talk to myself out there, which is kinda scary, but it did work) picking up the pace from the turn-around point back to the finish, and also managed to pass 3 people in that stretch. I gave it all I had, and was super happy to make the final turn off the boardwalk onto the park drive. There Ryan, and my parents and Sam, were cheering me on as I made my way around the lot to the finish line. Sam might have been a bit scared of crazy Mama, racing by her, gritting her teeth between smiles and working hard for a finishing kick, though :-)

Anyway, like I said, I am super happy with how the race went, and it really was a fun run. It was well marked, thoughtfully directed, and really highlighted this neat little park on the shores of one big honkin' lake. The race director was great, the volunteers friendly, and it had a nice, low-key but serious feel with some friendly competition. Bad music blared from the speakers in the start/finish area, kids played in the grass, almost everyone had drawling southern accents, and both Ryan and I received a fun gator picture frame award for our efforts. We even passed a neat (snapping?) turtle nest in the sand around 2 miles into each loop, the ping-pong-esque eggs sitting neatly stacked in the sand. No gators though :-)

Stats according to my Garmin ~

Total time: 4:47:10
Total distance: 30.2 (but I'm calling it 50k!!!)
Total elevation gain/loss: 77 feet.
Results - 9/26; 2/6 women. A small field, yes, but needless to say, both Ryan and I were very proud to don our Trail Monster singlets at the race today!

And now, I'm off to eat more ice cream. Wish me luck standing up from the computer!! :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Last Run

We headed out this morning for one last run before the Gator Trail 50k. It was only 51 degrees, overcast and breezy. Ahhh... now that's better!! As for tomorrow's race, I'm pretty nervous ,for sure, but looking forward to a fun race on the trails around Lake Waccamaw. After all, we are lucky to have the chance to test ourselves out on the trails, and see what our bodies can do. At this point, I've done all that I can do training-wise, I am accepting of the suffering to come and have faith in my ability to push through it, and we're loving the forecast for tomorrow too - low 40s overnight and only into the 60s for daytime temps. Perfect.

Since it's a taper week, we took yesterday off and just relaxed. Or, relaxed as much as you can when you're racing around after a 17-month old! :-) But really, we even sat down to watch the taped episode of Top Chef that we had missed Wednesday night. Sat down to watch TV in the middle of the day! Wow. That happens, like... never... Ahhhh, vacation...

After a big wind and rain storm on Wednesday night, the temps dipped slightly and a lot of the pine pollen was washed away, meaning it was a pleasant day to spend time outside. We walked around my parent's yard, went to the playground, and in general, relished in the fact that it is spring down here. There may have been a bit of grumbling here and there about how warm it still felt, but hey :-) The trees are budding, the grass is growing and the birds are building their nests. The flora and fauna notes so far include: numerous green anole (aka gecko) spottings on my parent's back porch, osprey, turkey vultures, robins, cormorants, a male cardinal, a Great Blue Heron, tufted titmice, the pair of bluebirds and chipping sparrows building nests out back, lots of mockingbirds and a few Brown Thrashers, the pretty yellow Carolina Jasmine, dogwood trees and purple Wisteria. Not to mention all the flowers blooming in the gardens and the flowering trees.

And since a visit with my parents inevitably includes lots of photos, here are a few from the past few days:

Green Anole (aka gecko)

Sam in the backyard
At the windowsill

Peeking through the chef's hat given to Sam by Chef Charles at dinner last night

Walking with Daddo at the edge of the golf course

Sam all dressed up for dinner out

Sam on the swings (note her cute little Nikes!)

Dinner Portrait

Walking out the of clubhouse with Nanie after dinner

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

50 Degrees

We made it to North Carolina! Sam was an awesome traveler today, despite being woken up at 5:45 am, driving into Boston, sitting in the stroller through the long check-in line, taking a plane ride to Raleigh and then getting in the car for another 1 1/2 hours before arriving at Mom and Dad's house. She had a blast on the plane, and really was good all day. We couldn't have asked for more.

After being up at 5:45 am, Sam was more than ready for a nap when we got to Mom and Dad's and didn't protest at all when we put her in her crib. While she was sleeping, Ryan and I went out for a short shake-out run. It was just downright HOT out! In fact, it was 50 degrees warmer on our run this afternoon than it was on our run through the snow yesterday. Talk about an abrupt transition! We're really hoping it cools down a bit before Saturday, and that the pine pollen abates a bit too.

Once Sam woke up, we spent the afternoon playing outside. Sam loved running through the grass, and walking/running up and down the little hills at the edge of Mom and Dad's yard. She is just so stinkin' cute, and seriously couldn't get enough of being outside! :-)

Hill running and loving it!

Sam in her summer gear

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Snow

I guess winter wasn't quite done with us yet! We woke up to about 3" of wet snow, the type that sticks to the trees and makes things look pretty, but which should melt pretty quickly as soon as the sun hits. It is still March after all, so we really can't expect for the trails to be completely clear, but the past week has been a bit of a tease. You start to see lots of bare ground and think, 'ohhh, I'll be able to get out on that singletrack soon!' Then with a small storm like we got last night, you realize, oh yeah, I guess there are a few more weeks to go. Ah well, we'll be running on dry (or muddy) trails soon enough!

Ryan and I headed out around 10:00am to run 5 miles. Nothing like a run in the snow to prepare for race day temps forecasted in the 70s :-) (Although we will get in a few runs at my parent's house over the next few days, and somehow I'm sure those runs will be warm!) We chose to run the rather boring out-and-back on the Highland Green Road via the Connector to avoid the new snow covering potential ankle-breakers on the powerlines, running along at the rather quick (for me) pace of just under 8 minute miles. 

Then it was home for a few hours of packing, organizing and running a few errands before we pick Sam up and head out! Gator Trail 50k, here we come!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weighed Down by Pancakes

Ryan's parents and grandparents were visiting this weekend, and kept Ryan and Sam company yesterday while I worked. It was one of those extra-painful days at work, where not only was it super quiet, but it was nice out and I knew everyone was having a good time hanging out at home. *sigh* But we all had fun together today. We met up for breakfast at Mae's Cafe in Bath, and although the pancakes were delicious, they were perhaps not quite the right pre-run meal. Ryan and I snuck out once we got home for a run together - Sam didn't even miss us, she was so happy to be with everyone else :-) Not to mention, she was playing with the new toy Grammie bought her:

The "Elmo" remote

Oh yes, my child apparently knows how to say "Elmo" and say it well! Where did that come from?!

She is also now saying her own version of "Grammie" (Irene) and, clear as day, "Bampie" (Ted, Ryan's grandfather). Adorable!

For the run, Ryan and I headed across the street for the 5-mile Highland Green loop, using the construction road on the way back to cut off a bit of road running. It's a decent loop, and it was nice to be out running with Ryan, but my stomach felt heavy and the wind seemed to be in our face the whole way. The powerlines were actually decent running, but it is truly amazing how much snow has melted in the past few days! Wow. We kept up a good clip, but it didn't quite feel easy. I'm blaming the pancakes :-)

After Sam took her nap, and the grands and great-grands left, Ryan and I took Sam over to LLBean for a bit of afternoon distraction. There were tons of people there, and tons of kids. In the children's section, they have a neat area with little stools, a small table and a "treehouse" with two ramps and a bridge. Sam loved the ramps! She kept running up and down them. Whenever an older kid would run through, she would stop and just stand still, looking at them as they ran by. Then she would resume her own run, saying "yeah" as she reached the bottom of the ramp. So cute!

LL Bean "catwalk" :-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring

There was a bit more spring in my steps on this morning's 3 miler than on Wednesday's, thank goodness. The sun was breaking through the clouds as I stepped out the door, and it was already in the low 40s at 8:30am. I ran a modified version of Ryan's Patriot's Common loop, running past the high school and the middle school, and through the Patriot's Common, one of the housing complexes owned by the Naval Air Station. Nothing super exciting about the loop, but it makes for a decent 3 mile road run from home. Finished up in 24:29 and was happy to have things feeling pretty good.


Speaking of spring, I finally saw my first Red-Winged Blackbird of the season yesterday, sitting on one of the swaying cattails in the marshy area at Pleasant Cove. Hurray! Also noticed a few crocuses blooming in front of one of the stores on the sunny side of the street on my walk up to the post office yesterday afternoon. And today, flocks of Robin were foraging in the newly uncovered fields along Foreside when I drove out to drop off the recycling at the dump on my way into work. Sunday is the first official day of Spring, and it is sure feeling like it these past few days!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flat

This morning, instead of sitting on the couch before the rest of the house was awake, drinking my coffee, surfing the internet and watching the sun, I really should have gone for a run. It was definitely a nicer morning than afternoon today! After a 1/2 day of work, I drove home in the pouring rain, not at all enthused about going out for my planned run. This is such an ugly time of year in New England. The snow is melting, leaving behind dirty piles of snow and exposing flattened, dirty grass and trash. There is hope in the air, yes, and a yearning for spring and crocuses and buds on the trees, but we are not there yet. We have to get through this phase first. And when it is rainy and the temps are in the mid-30s, it is just seems extra gross out there. Ah yes, I was enthusiastic, all right! I thought about bagging the run, but since I only had 3 miles on the schedule, I figured I could gut it out. Like Ryan said, it's only 25ish minutes of nastiness. Get it over with. So get it over with, I did. But I felt flat. Blah. The snowmobile trail had deteriorated significantly since yesterday morning's wonderful run with Valerie. My legs felt heavy. I turned around as soon as the Garmin read 1.5 miles, not wanting to run even an extra 0.1 miles. I think my body is telling me it's looking forward to a day off tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sharing

It's always nice to share the trails you run on with friends, and this morning was no exception. Valerie came over around 8:45 to join me on a run on our snowmobile trails. After my run out there yesterday, we figured we would give it a go, and even better, go early to take advantage of the cold overnight temps. I woke up to the cars heavily frosted over and the thermometer reading 21 degrees, so I thought we might just luck out and find the trails nice and solid. And they were! In fact, I think conditions were even better than yesterday. We both wore our screw shoes, and were able to easily run the whole loop. I did posthole off the edge of the trail once, but no harm was done. We had a grand old time chatting away as we ran along in the sunshine, discussing everything from Shakespeare to cats, running long to  DNFs, and mylar balloons in birds nests to race expectations. Just your regular run-of-the-mill trail running chatter :-) We ran a slight variation on the loop I ran yesterday, finishing up with 6.5 miles in 1:03:14. It was a great way to start the morning! Thanks Valerie!

And with that, I have only two short 3-milers on the schedule for the rest of the week. Let the taper madness begin :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Nice Day Off

My parents headed towards home this morning. It was a great visit, and really nice of them to come up to help us out with Sam these past two weekends. Thanks guys - we really appreciate it! (And Mom, Sam couldn't stop saying "Nini" last night at bathtime, or this morning for that matter. So cute :-) )

Ryan took today off after working on Saturday, and he, Sam and I had a nice Monday together. The day started out right, with all of us sleeping in, me until 7:00, Sam until 7:30 and Ryan until what? 9:00?! :-) Soon after he got downstairs, I headed out for my run. I wanted to stay off the roads if I could, so I took the chance and went out on the powerlines. I chose not to wear my screwshoes, just  in case I had to veer off onto the roads, but it never came to that. I was able to complete the full 7-mile snowmobile dump loop, and honestly, the trails were in much better shape than I had envisioned. This is such a transitional time, but with the temps dipping at least a little below freezing last night, and me getting out before the sun softened things up too much, the trails were, amazingly, fairly solid. In fact, some stretches in the woods and in the shade along the powerlines had a nice icy sheen to them, which made for some great running. In other spots, there was ice or soft snow, with a few bare patches here and there, but it was a delightful discovery on a Monday morning to get in a good trail run!

The rest of the day was spent attempting to get Sam to nap (it didn't work, unfortunately), going to the library, where Sam had fun playing with all the toys, and enjoying an early dinner and some playtime with Nate, Shannon, Finley and Charlotte. Except for (and despite) not taking a nap, Sam was a really good girl all day long, and we had a fun day hanging out together :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taper Time

This week's running schedule is pretty light, as we're less than 2 weeks away from the Gator Trail 50k. Amazing that it is now the middle of March, and time for the 50k. Where did the winter go? When we signed up for this race, it seemed ages away, and now it is almost time... I'm hoping for a good race, but I'm also expecting it to hurt. A recent article by Matt Fitzgerald on competitor.com talked about why sometimes it is best to expect the worst when racing. It's an interesting read, and definitely something to think about. I am anticipating the pain, and looking forward to how I handle it. I'm hoping I can put into action the following:

Expect every race to hurt like hell and you will race better. - Matt Fitzgerald

Hopefully the weather will not add to the hurt. Think moderate temps and clear skies for us, please!! :-)

Although we are soon headed south where I know it will be a fair amount warmer, spring is certainly in the air here. The days has been warm, with lots of melting, there's more daylight (hurray!) and Ronnie the cat is desperately sniffing at the door, trying to escape into the outdoors. He seems to do this every spring. I haven't seen any red-winged blackbirds yet, but the grackles are back chattering away out front, and our reduced hours at the gallery are coming to an end. And the trails are certainly in the transition phase too, moving from winter to summer conditions slowly and variably, but without a doubt.

I went out this morning for a 5 mile run while my parents watched Sam. I wasn't feeling super enthused, as I'm still trying to rid myself of the remnants of a cold and I didn't have much sleep last night between the time change and Sam teething. But, as I headed out the sun began to peek through the clouds, and I ended up enjoying my random route on the trails and roads around Highland Green, even if I didn't feel very energetic. I came back on the section of snowmobile trail between the high school and Highland Green Road, just to check things out. The trail conditions were much different than just a few days ago, with the snow bridge at the bottom of the first hill showing two big holes and the stream bed much cleared than it had been. The junipers atop the hill had freed themselves from the snow, and the dirt roads around the back of Highland Green were now all mud and no ice. Spring is on its way.

And speaking of change, here are a few photos of our constantly changing and growing little munchkin. She is getting bigger every day, and amazes us with all her words and her cute actions. She certainly is a character :-)

Cute
Headed out for lunch
Enjoying a spring afternoon walk with Nanie and Pip

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cute

Sam enthralled by the musicians
My parents are watching Sam today while Ryan and I are both at work. They took her to the Brunswick Winter Market in Fort Andross this morning after I left. The Market is in a great open space in the mill, and features not only seasonal veggies, but treats and handmade goodies, crafts, etc. They also have musicians playing, which makes the atmosphere very festive.

I just talked to my dad, who told me Sam had a great time at the market, and loved the musicians especially. Today a few fiddlers were playing, and Sam stood in front of them, just watching them, fascinated. I guess at some point while they were watching, the fiddlers stopped for a break, and Sam looked at them and started making the "more please" sign, wanting more music. How adorable is that?!

My dad finally told the musicians what it was Sam was doing/asking, and they started playing again for her :-) So cute!! I love it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Soggy

The forecast was calling for rain today, and, well, they were right. The thermometer read 41 degrees, and a steady rain was falling this morning when I stepped out the door for my run. I actually wore my Golite raincoat, it looked so yucky out there. Ryan had told me he thought the snowmobile trails would be unrunnable, given that he was doing a fair amount of postholing yesterday, and temps had only been getting warmer since then. So, with a sigh, I headed off down the Connector. Nothing like running busy roads in the rain. The wind whipped the rain into my face, and I wasn't exactly enthused during the first mile, to say the least. Things got a bit better once I turned off onto Highland Green Road, as I wasn't running into the wind, and the street was quiet. I ran the road until the turn-off for the back dirt road, and looped around on the construction road back to the pavement. The dirt road was mostly mud, with a few patches of slippery ice, but it was nice to be off the pavement. When I got back up to where the snowmobile trail crosses the road, I decided, what the heck, and headed back home that way. Much better than the Connector, and honestly, it was pretty decent running. I sunk in a bit here and there, but things were still pretty packed. Of course, I was only on the snow for about a 1/2 mile, so who knows how it would have been further out on the trail, and what it will be like tomorrow. The random, figure-eight loop ended up being 4.25 miles and left me very soggy, a bit muddy and definitely appreciative of my warm shower once I got home!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

7 Miles & Some Photos

The original plan for today was to meet up with Valerie at Thorncrag for a run, but after checking the conditions out yesterday she thought it might be a bit too sketchy, especially given that I wasn't looking to kill myself postholing or slipping on ice only a few weeks out from the 50k. I was bummed to miss out on a run with her, but hopefully the stars will align for us to meet up next week! Instead of having Valerie's company on a run, I was able to join up with Ryan for a nice 7-mile run on the new snowmobile trail dump loop, which was nice too! It was actually a really pretty morning, and the trail conditions were much better than I had anticipated - definitely varied, but very runnable and packed for 95% of the trail. After yesterday's effort, the legs complained a bit for the first few miles, but loosened up as we ran along. I actually felt pretty good, and the run was a great way to start off the day!

As I said in my last post, since my parents are in town, it means there are lots of pictures :-)
Here are a few from the past few days:

Feeding the kitties their treats
Looking cute - breakfast out at Broadway Deli
More breakfast fun
Tunnel fun while visiting Mim
Happy Morgan
Mim and her two great-granddaughters

Sam pushing the stroller around at Peek A Boo Play Center
Snacktime!
Pip being silly :-)
Morgan relaxing in the "Princess" room 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Foreside Fourteen

Sam had one glorious night of sleeping through the night last week, but now we are back to our regularly scheduled program, and up at least once a night. We took her to the doctor's yesterday for an ear check, and the ear infection and the bronchial infection have both cleared up. Ears looked great, and lungs sounded good. Hurray. So why the interrupted sleep again? I'm betting on teeth. Seriously, her upper gums are so swollen. The teeth have got to be close to coming in. But whatever it is, she did not sleep well last night, although thankfully she went back to sleep after she woke up at 5:30 and slept another two hours. I may not have woken up feeling rested, but at least I had the chance to sit quietly with my coffee and the computer for an hour and a half this morning. Will I ever feel rested again? Hmmm. Somehow I think not, but I can dream, can't I?! :-)

Despite feeling a bit tired, I had a good run today. I left Ryan playing with a very energetic Samantha a little after 9am and headed down the Connector, across the fairgrounds and out onto Foreside Road. It was a gorgeous morning. Bright and clear, with only a few wispy clouds in the bluebird sky above, rising temperatures, and a little wind to keep things interested. The chickadees flitted about and called from the bushes, while a few turkey vultures circled overhead. There was evidence of snow melt and flooding everywhere. When I stepped off the road and over the snowbank for a pee break around mile 6.5, my foot went straight through what looked like solid snow and into a cold slurry of water and ice below. Brrrr! Spring was in the air, for sure.

I felt solid during the run, but during the last few miles I could feel my left leg tightening up a bit. Too many road miles in the past week, I think, but hopefully some good stretching and rolling and maybe even one last massage next week before the race, and I'll be good to go! Happy to finish up the 14 miles in 1:58:57, and hoping to try the trails tomorrow!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rest Day Wonderings

I opted to invoke the "I'm starting my taper and am still trying to kick this cold so I don't want to overdo it" clause in my training plan today and not run. This morning it was 35 degrees and pouring rain. The treed area out back was a slushy slurry of rain and snow. It was windy. And let's face it, it was just not the type of day you go out the door saying "I am excited for my run!" I decided I'd rather take an extra rest day today than run the 3 miles I had on tap. I can make up a few of the miles this week and should still be able to hit my weekly mileage. I took a shower and had an extra cup of coffee instead. And I was OK with it.

But here's the thing. It's t-minus three weeks until the Gator Trail 50k. I've been feeling pretty good about things, but there is a squiggle of nerves beginning to surface. I've gotten in some good runs, yes, but certainly haven't been doing the training, oh, say, Ryan, has. Nor have I been racing like him. So am I ready to race? Today's post on the Running and Rambling blog got me to thinking. I certainly am not comparing myself to a true ultrarunner who has run many 50 and 100 milers. I'm just planning to make Gator Trail my first 50k, earning me the bottom ranks of ultrarunner status :-) But regardless, I cannot help thinking about his post, particularly this paragraph:

I had an inner strength that was virtually indomitable. It was built through hard miles in training and smaller races leading up to the main event. It was a confidence of knowing who I was, and what I was capable of enduring. Even when my physical abilities were depleted and my emotional condition was completely thrashed, there was an overwhelming determination that none of that pain was going to keep me from reaching my goal.


I hope I can delve down into myself to find that inner strength while I'm out running along the shores of Lake Waccamaw on March 26th. I may not have the most training miles on these legs or too many recent small races leading up to this 50k, but I hope I can delve back a little further, to reach back to Stonecat and how I just kept on chugging through the miles, despite a less-than-stellar summer of training due to a nagging hip/IT/calf issue. And to the now long-ago months of walking, day after day, over mountains and through forests, in rain and snow and the summer heat, on the AT, during what was an incredible experience but one that tested us almost daily. To lots of miles run alone, with only my thoughts to carry me forward. And even to Sam's birth - while I may not have a natural birthing experience, let me assure you that a c-section and its recovery was no cake walk, so I'll take my place next to any woman who says that after childbirth most other pains don't hurt as much! I guess we all have things to draw upon if we must, if we want to. And if nothing else, I'll just be stubborn out there. That I can do well :-)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mushy

With two days of warm weather and rain, the snow cover is shrinking rapidly and this morning, things were a bit mushy out there. Ryan was over in New Hampshire last night, but my parents stayed over to keep Sam and I company, so I took advantage of the "live in" babysitters to sneak out this morning around 8:00. Thanks Mom and Dad! I ran the snowmobile trail to Highland Green Road - postholing and slipping and sliding all over the place in the soft snow. At the road, I hopped out and ran an out-and-back on the pavement rather than continue to slip and slide away. The 10 minute pace on the snow was offset by the 8:00s I was managing to pull off on the road. A rather uneventful 5 mile run, perhaps most notable for the fact that it was followed by a yummy breakfast of pancakes at Broadway Deli. Delish!

After that, it was home for Sam's nap and then we met Kristen and Morgan at the Peek a Boo Children's Center down in Westbrook. This was the perfect place for the kids on a rainy Sunday afternoon. A big open space in the old mill building, with theme rooms, a play kitchen, ball pit, etc. The kids ran around and had fun. Parents milled about, keeping tabs but enjoying the fact that there were a lot of things to distract the kiddos and keep them amused. Sam had a grand old time!

And since my parents are in town, it means pictures galore :-) Here are a few photos from yesterday, and a cute video from our dinner out at Frontier last night.

Big grin (with a nice tooth view too)

Hmmm, what should I read next?

Oh hi!

All smiles

video


Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's Frickin' Freezing Out There, Mr. Bigglesworth!

Brrrr. 12 degrees with a steady wind. I was frozen when I started and perhaps even more frozen when I returned from this morning's 5 mile run. The running was good. Packed down by sleds and solid. But man! That wind. Whew! I think I should have gone out geared up like the older gentleman I passed out down on the trail by Topsham Crossing. He was out running with his black lab and was geared up with ski goggles and a face mask! It looked silly, but I bet it was warm :-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Excuses

This morning, I hemmed and hawed. Should I go for the long run or not? It was windy. But warm(ish). I didn't feel super energetic. But I didn't feel any worse. Would today be a better day for it? Or should I wait until Monday? In the end, I told myself to stop with the excuses and just go. It was windy, yes. I didn't feel 100%, sure, but what was the guarantee that I would feel that way on Monday. And if I wasn't going to run 20/22 miles today, I was going to run 12/14, so either way, I was going to be out there for a while. Why not just go the distance? We can't pick the weather or how we feel on race day, so I knew I should just suck it up and get out the door. I mapped out a 20 mile route, suited up, and headed out around 10:00.

My run took me through some Topsham neighborhoods and down to the swinging bridge. The bridge was a bit sketchy, but surprisingly, the roads were actually in pretty good shape.  I meandered through Brunswick to Pleasant Hill, and then up against the wind to Woodside. The gusts of wind were fierce through this stretch, but luckily, once I got down to Maquoit Bay and headed back uphill, the wind was at my back and I welcomed the respite. I took Rossmore once again, smiling at the male Hooded Merganser bobbing in the tidal stream. There is just something adorable (or is it comical?) about this bird. I love watching them. Left onto Merepoint and then a quick right onto Simpson's Point Road. My Garmin beeped 12.0 just as I hit the boat ramp at the end of the point, and after a quick look out onto the ocean and islands beyond, I turned back to run the Pennelville fields. The winds had luckily begun to abate at this point, and the run through the wide open fields wasn't bad at all.

From there, it was back onto Merepoint towards Maine Street. The rest of the run was spent retracing my steps through Brunswick, across the swinging bridge, up Bridge Street and back home. In the last few miles, the clouds parted and the sun came out. I took off my gloves, and reveled in the fact that I was in the final push of a 20 mile run and was actually still feeling pretty decent. I finished up the run in 2:59:14, with 20 miles exactly. I'm glad I didn't let the excuses get in my way today!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Training Plan?

I have a "training plan" penciled into my 2011 planner. The thing is, I don't think there is one week where I have actually followed the penciled notes as written. And the pencilled notes were simply my revisions of a "true" training plan, based on what I thought I could manage given my circumstances/the winter weather/etc. I call it the "flexible approach." Ha :-) But seriously, perhaps for the next race I should actually try to follow a real plan? And maybe do some speed work? At this rate, that is besides the point. I have run what I have run, and I have four weeks (yikes!) until the Gator Trail 50k. Given that, my plan for today was to run 22 miles. I have only gotten in one 20 miler in this training cycle. This is not ideal, I realize, but I really do feel like my training has been going pretty well so far. However, I also know I would feel much better getting in one more long run before the race. This week would be the week to do it. Unfortunately, I did not get out for a 22 mile run today.

I managed to pick up a cold somewhere (Hmmmm, where might that be? From some cute little germ factory living in this house?), and I knew when I woke up this morning that I just did not have the energy, either physical or mental for a long solo road run today.

I figured I had three options -
Option #1: Do the run anyway, and pray that I make it through. This seemed like a bad idea from the get-go. No need to dig myself into a hole when I have a cold, and didn't feel energetic from the start. Not to mention, the roads were a treacherous combination of slush, frozen slush, ice, snow and melting water from Sunday/Monday's weather. And it was windy. Meaning my route down to the ocean? Not the best of ideas... OK, so #1 really wasn't an option.

On to Option #2. Run short today, and long tomorrow. I did 1/2 of #2 this morning after dropping Sam off at daycare and doing some errands around town. I headed out across the street around 10:30. The sky was a brilliant blue, the sun was shining, the snow was white and crispy looking, and the wind was whipping through the treetops. I wore my screwshoes, thinking I just might find the snowmobile trail packed by a few sleds. Regardless, I needed them just for the 1/4 mile on our road. It was not well plowed, and very slippery. Luck was on my side, and one or two sleds has indeed been out on the trails around the high school. They must have gone out last night, as they had churned up and packed down the mush and it had frozen nicely. It was a good surface to run on, despite only have a pass or two over it. I did posthole a few times, and step through into an icy puddle or two, but otherwise it was good running. Unfortunately, right before Rt. 24, the sleds took a sharp left into someone's yard, and the trail ahead was untracked. I figured I could brave it for a 1/2 mile or so, so I kept on running, sinking in through the 1" to 2" of frozen slushy snow with each step. It was slow going, and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to run through more of it than I did, but it was doable for a bit. Still, I was giving extra thanks to those two intrepid snowmobilers who had been out last night on the rest of the trail! What a difference! They really made the run. When I hit Bay Park, I ran up the road to Rt. 24, and then headed back to the snowmobile trail junction, so as to avoid the untracked section on the way back. I had to add a little bit on the roads to get to an even 5 miles, but overall, despite feeling a bit weary, it was a good run and I'm glad to have gotten some fresh air into my lungs.

I will debate the second half of Option #2 tomorrow morning. If I don't feel it's a good idea to go 20 or 22, I will move on to Option #3. Run 12 to 14 tomorrow, and then run 20 to 22 on Monday. Most training plans seem to call for the last long run 3 weeks out from a marathon. In an ideal world, that would mean running my long run this Saturday, but I will be working. I figure running it on Monday, only two days later, isn't a big deal, especially as I'll be tapering after that.

Like I said, "flexible." :-)