Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Random Wander

Ryan asked me if I wanted to join him on his jaunt around the neighborhood this morning after I dropped Sam off at daycare. We headed out around 9:30 on his 0.75 mile loop. My legs were tired, and I struggled to keep up with him for the first lap. Eventually my legs seemed to wake up, but I still felt a bit like I was running through quicksand. Ryan only lasted another lap before calling it a day. I know he is really frustrated that the pain in his knee isn't really getting any better. Being injured sure is no fun, and I do not envy him as he tries to get back to running pain-free. I really hope things turn around soon for him. Poor guy.

After he stopped, I continued on, not really having a route in mind, but planning to get in 6 miles. I ran out towards the Mt. Ararat fields and up the trail to Mountain Road, off Highland Green. The snow was thin enough, packed enough and tacky enough that I was doing OK in my 295s, although I was taking it easy and being cautious without any screws in my shoes. I decided I didn't really want to be on the roads, so I ran holes 4, 5 and 6 along the cart path, which were mostly packed snow and a bit of bare ground, and then hopped onto the Heath Trail. The Heath Trail was a bit icy, as I would have expected but not too bad. Once I hit the road again, I turned left and got back on the cart path at the end of hole 4, returning home by running over Mt. Ararat. Amazingly, despite the random wander, I hit 6.0 miles right near the mailboxes. It was a slow run, and I am definitely feeling the past few days, but it was sort of fun to head out without a plan and just piece things together as I went along. That said, I am definitely looking forward to a day off tomorrow! (And likely a snow day too, it sounds like!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Simpson's Point and Back

I guess I started out the week on the right foot with my run with Valerie and Mindy, as today I didn't have any hesitation about setting out on my planned 16 miler. I wish I could run with those two for all my long runs - Sunday's run was so nice - but I will certainly appreciate any chance I do get to run with them! :-) Anyway, I decided I would do a road run today, which I know isn't the same as getting in 16 miles on trails, but hey, I'll take what I can get. I took a look at some already mapped out routes from home last night, and figured I would head out to Simpson's Point. I wasn't sure of the exact mileage of the route I was planning to follow, but in the end, it worked out perfectly. My route was like a slightly wacky figure 8, so I only ended up repeating one small stretch on Maine Street, and I didn't have to tack on any mileage at the end of the run. Success!

The sun was shining and the day was warming up as I headed out around 9am, but a pretty stiff breeze was blowing. I lucked out most of the way out to the point, only hitting the headwind a few times here and there, but I knew I was in for it on the return trip! The views of the bay along Rossmore and down at the point were beautiful. No photos (sorry Xar!), but honestly, I've found the camera to never do justice (at least in my hands) to this area - the sweeping vistas out to the mud flats and the bay along the winding back roads, the sun shimmering off the water, the deep greens and greys of the shoreline at low tide, the flocks of ducks floating in the distance, and the small islands standing sentinel out in the deep waters. The stretch through Pennelville was beautiful as always too, the big barn on the hillside set against the blue sky, the bare branches of the old tree and the golden grasses in the now barren fields waving in the wind.

I reached the tip of Simpson's Point at 8.5 miles, and for the rest of the way, I was running into the wind. It was wicked, literally stopping me in my tracks a few times as I ran through the Pennelville fields, and pushing against me as I ran through town and over the bridge into Topsham. The final 8 miles were quite a bit slower than the first 8 as a result, but I still managed to finish off the 16 in 2:18:15, which ironically meant I was out for less time today than I was for our 10 on Sunday. Ha. In any event, I was glad to finish feeling mentally strong, if a bit creaky and tired physically from battling the wind and pounding the pavement for so many miles. I was also glad to come home and remember that there was a left-over brownie from the other night just waiting to be eaten :-) Perfect!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Four

Sam and I were up today well before 6am this morning, as she woke up with wet PJs and a wet bed. Perhaps she's grown enough that we need to go up a size in the overnight diapers? Or maybe it is all the "practicing" she is doing with a big-girl cup in the bathtub at bath time? :-) In any event, it was much too early to be up, and I felt like I was ready for it to be bedtime by the time the clock was reading 8:30 am. Not a good thing! During those first three hours, I spilled my coffee all over the table, Sam dumped her cheerios everywhere and knocked over the milk carton, and Gigi somehoww knocked the noise machine off the dresser. Oh boy.

Sam and I headed off to Pineland Farms for the 10am story time, as we really just needed a change of scenery in an attempt to turn the day around, and it seemed to work, thank goodness! Sam enjoyed the stories about the snow, the snack, and racing around like a crazy maniac without her socks on for a bit too. We came home for lunch, and she went down fairly easily for her nap. Ryan was nice enough to take over the monitor for a bit so that I could get out for a short run. I ran the short Highland Green loop, adding an extra mile on the road, for four miles. The new snow was a nice tacky surface on the powerlines and along the trail between Highland Green and the Mt. Ararat field, and although I felt a bit creaky after yesterday, it felt good to get out and get a few endorphins going. Here's hoping for a good afternoon!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fun Sunday Run

I met up with Valerie and Mindy today for a Bradbury run. It was cold and windy, but the sky was a brilliant blue. The plan was for 10 miles, and as we shivered in the parking lot, we decided to run the modified Beautiful/Connector loop that Val, Mindy and the boys had all run yesterday, but run it backwards. I haven't been out on either the Beautiful Loop or the Connector this winter, so I was happy to have a different route to be running, and even happier to be running with friends! Amazing what a difference that makes. I felt great the whole time we were running and didn't have any doubts as to whether or not I should be out there.

We wound our way up to the summit and then down Lunchbreak Hill to the snowmobile trail. The snow beneath our feet was incredibly crunchy and was a decent running surface in some spots, but wherever there had been foot traffic yesterday, the slush had turned into ice, meaning it was a bit tough on the ankles.  We chatted away as we ran, and enjoyed a nice mellow pace as we ran up and down the hills. We made a stop at the farm along the Animal Loop, where I was introduced to the enormous pig, the Highland cows and the chickens and guinea hens, before continuing on our way to the powerlines. What fun!

I was surprised to see ski tracks along the powerlines, but I suppose it was probably decent skiing yesterday morning before the snowmobiles went through, and the warm sun melted a lot of the snow away. We turned off onto the Connector, which really is a great stretch of trail, and I was happy to get to see the new bridge and the views out onto the river. Once we got back to the park proper, Valerie took us on a return route that brought our mileage to exactly 10 miles as we reached the parking lot. Talk about a good Scout! :-)

Ryan and Sam had come over a little earlier to get in a little hiking, and they were out in the field, enjoying the snow and the sun, when we came through. We all headed over to Edna & Lucy's for some lunch and to chat a bit more. What a fun morning! Thanks guys!

Daddo and Sammy enjoying a hike while I ran

Happy runners (and Sammy too)

Getting a hug from Sam after finishing up my run. What a nice end to a run!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Runnin' and Sleepin'

Sam slept from 7:15 pm until 5:40 am this morning without waking up once. Since I can count on one hand the number of times she has slept for over 10 hours in a row without a wake-up, this is like a little miracle, so hurray! But did I manage to sleep through my night (I think I was likely asleep by 9:30 so I could have gotten in 8 hours)? Nope! Guess I need to work on that! My body is just so conditioned to getting up in the night that I was up at 1:30 to pee, and then was woken up around 4:00 by Ronnie, who wanted to get under the covers and sleep next to me. This must have woken up Gigi, as she came up soon after and proceeded to try and curl up on top of the blanket right on top of Ronnie. After a bit of jostling, everyone settled in and I fell back to sleep. Oh well. Despite not sleeping through the night myself, I am very happy that Sam managed to do so! As for whether or not she will repeat the performance again tonight remains to be seen, but at least I know it's possible! She is obviously getting pretty tired out by all the activity in her new room at daycare, so who knows, maybe now this whole sleeping thing will begin to become the norm instead of a surprise! I can dream, can't I? :-)

I wasn't sure how the weather was going to be this morning, but the storm they were predicting simply never showed up, so I headed out after dropping Sam off at daycare for a run. Temps were hovering right around freezing, the skies were overcast and the breeze was non-existent. I hit the powerlines for the extended Homeplace loop, getting in 6 miles in 58:xx. The trails were a mixed bag. I wore my screwshoes and certainly didn't need them for all of the route, but they were useful on the numerous stretches of ice along the way. I had to run up in the blueberry bushes down near the end of the powerlines, as the trail was one big long deep puddle, covered with a very thin layer of ice. There were lots of chickadees out singing, and I got a nice surprise at the junction of the powerlines and the trail that crosses Homeplace - the fenced area that was enclosed this summer now houses 3 alpacas! They were cute things, and I stopped to watch them for a bit before continuing on. Neat!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Plan, A Plan! (and a short Sam update too)

After a bit pondering last night, and some talking with Ryan about my running, I have come up with a new plan. I decided to leave the little penciled-in mileage notes in my planner, but I am not going to be beholden to them. I will use them as guidelines, but try not to stress over what I "have" to run for any particular day, or any particular week. As Ryan pointed out, I could follow the plan to a T and still not have a good race. Or I could run whatever the heck I want all winter/spring long and have a good race anyway. He also noted that 50 miles is a long way and it is not normal to run that far. We just happen to be friends with a lot of kick-ass people who do these ultra distances for fun :-) Ha.

So anyway, I am not sure why I got so worked up over my run yesterday, but it did get me thinking about things. I took a look at the calendar and realized there is still a lot of time until Pineland. There is still time for many 20+ mile runs. And that, oh yes, I have one other ultra on my calendar before that, and perhaps I should focus on that for the moment instead. Somewhere, back in early January, in a fit of "Why not? What a great idea! It will be grand!," Ryan and I signed up for the TARC Spring Classic 50k on April 28. Given how the past 2 months have gone for Ryan, I don't know if he will run. But I am definitely running. I had originally thought maybe I should do it as a training run for Pineland and go for time on my feet. But I think I will try to race it, you know, just to see how it goes. If it goes well and I think I can run Pineland a month later, awesome! If not, I will have gotten in a good spring ultra (a shorter one, yes, but still). Phew. I feel better now.


As for Sam, this morning, she walked down the stairs without me holding her hand. She held onto the railing with one hand and her baby and pretty (ie. little lovey and little blanket that she sleeps with) in the other hand. I stayed by her side, but let her walk down all on her own. She is getting so grown up! She's a little late in doing this, probably, but she is so small that some of the bigger, more physical things like this, and climbing into a kitchen chair all on her own, have taken a bit of a backseat to her verbal development until now. She has also moved up a room in daycare and has progressed down the hall to the "big kid" zone. She is so excited, because it means she has finally caught up with some of her friends who moved down there first. It is just so cute. Now if we could just get her potty trained and sleeping consistently for long stretches in the night, we would be set :-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Expectations and a Snowy Twelve

I expect a lot from myself. I want to do it all. I want to be a mommy-runner extraordinaire. I want to run a 50. I want to spend time with Sam. I want a clean house, home-cooked dinners and candlelit dinners with Ryan too. I am obviously setting myself up to fail. I should know better. But I can't help but want it all to fall into place and have it all be perfect. It is a personality trait that I have yet to manage to shake.

Which brings me to this: I have had all this extra time the past 6 weeks. Time to run awesome long runs! Time to tackle lots of household projects! Time for all the regular errands that need to get done! Time to relax! Time to read! Time for so much! OK, I might be being a bit dramatic, but honestly, the expectations I have set for myself for these winters months is stressing me out.

When it comes to the running part of the equation, it's not a question of will I run. I love to run. I have never needed race motivation to get out the door. I will do it anyway. I might not run long, or hard, but I will run. Yes, having a few races thrown in the calendar is a good thing. It is always good to have a bit of extra motivation, a bit of competitive fire to do well amongst your peers. But when I think about it, I have never done well with a training plan. I can't seem to follow one, no matter what I do. And so, once again, I am struggling with the running expectations I have put on myself, or really, written down in my training log.

I feel the 50 looming over my head. It is not just any race. It is 50 frickin' miles! That is a long way, and a long time to be out there. Today I had had thoughts of running 20 miles. Because, well, everyone else is running long, and it all seems to be so effortless. I feel I should be running 20 miles this week. Why? Well, because it's 50 frickin' miles! Because I want to be a badass runner too. Because more miles is better! Can you see where this is going? Today's long run was weighing on me. I felt I had to do it. I felt it had to be perfect. Pineland is 3 months away! Another 3 months of this might break me. I have got to get a handle on things. Or perhaps, I need to admit that Pineland isn't the 50 for me. Or maybe, I need to just let go a bit and keep rolling with things and know that if it pans out and I feel like I have gotten in the training for the 50, great, and if not, that's ok too. There are lots of other races out there, and hopefully I have a lot of years of running ahead of me. Will anyone think less of me if I don't do Pineland? Will I think less of myself? Oh, the Sparkplug mind. Sometimes I'd like to hide from it :-)

Sam and I came downstairs this morning to find the grass and trees covered in a layer of wet snow. I dropped her off at daycare, came home, quickly gathered my stuff up, and headed off to Bradbury. I figured the snow might actually make conditions better. It seemed pretty tacky. Of course, it could make things worse. Well, it was worth a try. And it was a beautiful morning too! I pulled into the lot to see NJ Dave and friend (I feel I should know him, but can't quite pull up a name) taking photos of Dave's bloody knee. Dave urged me to be careful out there, noting that they had done a lot of sliding around, and obviously some falling too! I was hoping that wearing screwshoes would make a difference [they weren't wearing theirs], but I told them I would be cautious and headed across the street to the east side. I had a vague idea of doing the Bruiser course first and then maybe doing the Scuffle or snowshoe race route after that, so I headed down Lanzo. Dave had said the Island was nice running, so I took a left onto the wiggly turny singletrack through the woods. The woods were very pretty, and my screwshoes seemed to be doing a fine job so traction wasn't much of an issue - but it was slow going with the ice and twists and turns and variable snowpack.

Somewhere around the Bat Cave, I got the course jumbled in my head and ended up just meandering around, off-route. Things looked different to me in the snow, and I have never had a very good head for directions. I was on pieces of the course here and there as I wound my way back to the campground area, but definitely wasn't running the Bruiser proper, that's for sure! I was moving pretty slowly - around 12 minute pace - and feeling a bit glum at this point. I just could not wrap my head around the long run. I felt OK, but not exactly energetic, and the variable conditions were making my legs feel a bit beaten up. And I had only gone 7 miles! Well, can't stop now, that would really be lame! I headed out onto the snowshoe course, and managed to follow it pretty well. No way it would have been a snowshoe race today, though! Amazing how much more snow has melted. I tacked on the Island Trail as I came back through on Lanzo, and it seemed endless. I was done. I got in 12 miles in 2:24 and called it a day. I felt spent and a bit disappointed, but honestly, felt relieved to be finished. It had been a nice meander through the woods, but it was more than enough for me. Did I give up? I am sure many would say yes. But I want to enjoy my running too. And grinding myself into the ground just because really isn't my cup of tea. So, I'll take tomorrow off, get in a decent run on Friday before work, and get back at it next week.  Hopefully somewhere along the way I'll turn my wishy-washy brain into a focused one, and be back on track with some good running!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meadow Cross 8 (And a few Sam photos too)

Oh Meadow Cross. You seem so ideal. A nice 8 mile road loop from home. Through bucolic farmlands. On roads with wide shoulders. With nice rolling terrain. And yet, I cannot come to love you. I have tried. And today, I tried again. I set out around 1:00 on a nice spring-like day, with no set pace in mind. The first three miles were lovely. I ran up past the Bisson farm and enjoyed the views down to the river. The sun was bright and I was warm. But then, just before mile 3, I turned the corner and the wind hit me in the face. And it didn't relent until I was done. It tried to push me back down the hills. And it exacerbated the road grit that the trucks churned up along Rt. 196. I could taste the grit on my teeth. Traffic streamed past. Despite the wide shoulders, a big tractor trailer honked right as he was going by me, practically scaring the living daylights out of me. I had to come to a dead stop down near the mall, while a driver hemmed and hawed over whether to pull out in front of me or not. Yes, I saw a beautiful red-tailed hawk circling above the fields along the way, and you are a lovely loop in which to get in a good paced run (I managed just over 8:00 pace for the 8 miles), but I don't know that I'll be running you for a while. It's not you, it's me. Or maybe it's the other way around. But either way, I think we're taking a break.


My parent's visit is coming to an end this week. We have so enjoyed having them here, and are sad to see them go. Sam has had lots of Neenie and Pippi time, Ryan and I have loved having help with Sam, and we've seen a lot of Kristen and Morgan too. Sam and Morgan are quite the pair. Needless to say, it has been a lot of fun!

The never-ending quest for the perfect Neenie and grandkid photo :-)

Watching the pizza be made at Siano's

Tops! (at the Brunswick Winter Market)



Kristen and the girls


Taking a walk in the woods

Neenie and Sam watching the water flow


Sam is perfecting her "smile!" face

Who can eat a bigger bite of cereal?

Monday, February 20, 2012


Sam and I headed over to Mom and Dad's this morning (OK, really Keith & Cordelia's, which is where they've been house/cat watching the past week) and I dropped Sam off there and headed out for a run. Keith's house is right off the path to the Commons, and I was excited to check it out, as I hadn't been there in a while. Well, despite the fact that I normally love running in the Commons, today's run just wasn't all that much fun. The trails were literally 80% ice. And the ice covered the whole trail, meaning it wasn't even practical to tiptoe around the edges, as that just meant jumping through the brush and bushwacking. The rest of the trail was 18% really hard-packed, firm snow with about 2% being bare ground. I was wearing my screwshoes, yes, but I needed crampons on this stuff, especially the side-hill singletrack. Nothing was helping me there. I got in a slow 4 miles and called it a day. That was more than enough for me on the ice!

After a quick change, and a quick tromp out in the backyard for Sam and Pippi, we headed to Freeport, where we met up with Kristen and Morgan at Fresh Batch for a delicious lunch and some fun indoor playtime for the girls in the little playarea they have set up in the back of the restaurant. It was the perfect way to get out some energy before naptime!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Sorry to have missed what sounded like an awesome time at Val & Linda's for yesterdays Fat Ass. But glad Ryan was able to go and hang out and see all our friends, and glad to hear everyone had what sounded like some tough but really good running!

Although it certainly can't compare to a fun run with friends, I hit the powerlines for a nice 5 miles this morning on the Homeplace loop. But before I headed out the door, because I had gotten rid of my 282s, I had to make screw shoes out of my 315s. I wasn't sure I trusted the powerlines to be clear enough of ice to just wear my new 295s, and I am glad I took the time to make the screw shoes, as they were a good choice for the morning. The trail was a mix of packed snow, solid ice, frozen mud and soft mud with a little bit plain old bare ground thrown in for good measure. It was a beautiful blue sky morning, with not a cloud in the sky, and temps were perfect. I was happy to get out and feel good.

Here is Sam very nicely modeling my snazzy new 295s right out of the box:

Do you think these fit?


And this morning, she was a wonderful helper as I made my screw shoes. What? Your kids don't do this with you?! :-) But seriously, she very carefully passed me a screw at a time, and held the shoe while I got everything in place. What a good little girl! And yes, she is destined to either really love or hate running, given all the running we do around here!

My little helper

Making sure Mama is doing it right!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is It April Already?

Almost as soon as I took my first steps out the door, it started. Was it just a heavy mist? Or rain? Or snow? I think snain is the best word for it. Whatever it was, it simply added to the rather dreary atmosphere on a morning that felt more like mid-April than mid-February. I jumped a few puddles and sighed. Luckily, the temp was hovering right around 40 degrees so the precipitation wasn't that bad, but still. What is up with this winter?!

I was wearing my new Inov-8 295s (loving the roomier toe box right now!), and felt light on my feet. But the shoes weren't screwed, so the powerline trails, now a mix of bare ground, mud, snow and ice, seemed a bit too treacherous. And the back Highland Green road was a sheet of glimmering, wet ice. So out and back on the road I went. Got in an uneventful, rather soggy five miles, and am happy to say that with it, I hit 40 miles for the week. Hopefully I'll be able to keep the mileage up for the next few weeks and put in a good chunk of work towards the 50 miler!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Foreside 16

I kicked myself out the door this morning and got on the roads for my 16 miler. It was warm and overcast, with no wind. Not to mention the roads were dry and there wasn't a lot of traffic. I couldn't have asked for more from a mid-February road run, honestly. I hit the roads around the high school and then headed out onto Foreside Road, doing a very similar loop to my last 16 miler. I kept the pacing a bit more even this time. The majority of the miles fell in the 8:30 to 8:45 range, with the fastest being 8:22, and only two miles at over 9:00 pace (mile 1 @9:01 and the slowest being 9:34 (the 15th mile, where my feet begged me to get off the pavement and I hit the powerlines for a stretch. In my road shoes without much tread. Slow going, but a nice change.)). I felt pretty good most of the way, although the neuroma on my left foot was acting up a bit. I have pads in my shoes that typically do a good job of keeping any neuroma pain at bay so I am not sure if it was the roads, or the slant of the roads, or what, but that left ball of my foot was aching by mile 11. I actually stopped and loosened the laces as much as I dared, which helped. Who knows? In any event, I'm happy to have gotten in a decent run, and extra happy that I had the chance to meet up with Ryan after the run for a delicious post-run lunch at Frontier. Warm peanut noodles and vegan blueberry crisp - YUM!

While I was out running, I had a lot of time to think about a question Jeff recently posed about running and racing, and were we really having "fun" while we raced? I've always thought "fun" is not a truly appropriate word to describe running or racing. There are many things in life that I need to do, either societally or to survive as a human being. I work because I need money to live. I clean the house, grocery shop, cook, clean, etc. I take care of Sam. I derive some pleasure from these things in a job well done, etc etc, but none of them, with the exception of taking care of/watching/playing with Sam, are really what I consider fun. They are just things that need to be done. But running. Well, no one is telling me I need to run. No one is pushing me out the door, unless you count a little TMR peer pressure, but that's another story. No one if telling me I must race. It is something I do for me. And therefore, it is called "fun."

This sort of questioning reminds me of  the question Ryan and I got often when people heard we had attempted a thru-hike. Was it fun? Hell, no! And hell, yes! How could hiking (almost) every day for 4 months/1500 miles be fun? There were tears of frustration and pain, there were bugs and poison ivy and rain and snow and sweaty, unwashed clothes. There was heat and cold and hard ground. There was pain and suffering. And yet, how could it not be fun? To be out hiking for 4 months, to be hiking through the change of seasons, to watch the wildflowers bloom as we hiked along, the watch the sun rise from the mountain tops, to find friends and kindred spirits along the way?

The same goes for running. It is hard. It is challenging. It hurts. Sometimes I get bored out there and wonder why the hell I do this to myself. But there is a beauty to it. To being out running as the sun rises. To watching a hawk float on the air currents above. To running along a babbling brook. To running through the snow. To running with friends and sharing in a common activity. There is quiet and solitude and peace. I can run and run and run and my mind will slowly empty. I can work through problems. I can reflect. There is pain and suffering. There is exhileration at what my body can do, at where my two feet can take me. There is a sanity that comes from an active body. There are moments where it all comes together, and I feel light and free and beautiful and strong. Racing too is part of the running experience. To toe the line with others. To compete and see how one stacks up. To push, to try, to fail, to succeed. To be a part of a shared suffering :-) Why do I run? Why do I race? Well, why the hell not? It sure beats sitting on the couch doing nothing!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cathance 8

I am struggling a little finding my mid-week running mojo. Which is an issue, as it is when I need to do my long runs. The problem isn't time. I actually do have the time at this point. I just am not super excited about doing all my long runs alone. I had envisioned having the chance to run long with Ryan through these winter months, but obviously, that hasn't panned out. Ah well. I'll snap out of it. But it didn't happen today. So, I ran my shorter mid-week run this morning instead, heading into the Cathance for a bit of a wander and the hope for some rejuvination courtesy of Mother Nature. I'll get in my 16 on the roads tomorrow. And that will be fine too. I never said I would actually stick to the exact schedule I pencilled into my training log anyway :-)

A lot of people have been out using the trails that wind their way through the woods and along the river. And in some spots, it was really good running. In others, it was downright treacherous, with icy single-track traversing sidehills right along the river's edge. I spent a lot of time tromping through the woods bushwacking in an attempt to stay upright! And the rough footing was making my right ankle a bit unhappy. Just enough to be a bother. Needless to say, it was a slow 8 miles. But I will say, it was beautiful out. The ice formations along the banks were gorgeous, like thin layers of sparkling lace. The sun was out, and it was warm. There were lots of tracks to ponder, bunnies and squirrels hopping across the trail, deer making their own twisty trails through the evergreens. And with views like this, how can I really complain?

The perfect spot to stop, have a snack and take in the view.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Short, And Sweet

Got in a mellow three miles this morning before Ryan headed to "work" (ie. up to his office in the loft). I ran the short Highland Green loop. Nothing special in the 26+ minutes I was out, but I was pleasantly surprised to find my legs didn't feel too badly from yesterday's race.

Sam and I had lunch with my parents, went home for a nap and then got in a bit of fingerpainting before they came back over for some late afternoon playtime and dinner.

I was attempting to get Sam to make valentine cards for the grandparents, but all she wanted to do was stick her hands smack in the paint and make a mess. Ha! Well, after all, isn't that what fingerpainting is for? I somehow managed to get a full hand-print on my sleeve. Guess I was getting in the way of her masterpiece :-)

The print

Coloring with Neenie

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Bradbury White Out Snowshoe Race Report

Ryan and Ian managed to pull together a really great course for the White Out today, especially given the less than ideal snow conditions here, and many places in the east. Nice work! And thanks too, to all the volunteers for standing out in the cold for all of us racers today!

My parents are in town, so they nicely agreed to watch Sam this morning so I could race. Thanks Mom and Dad! As I was heading out the door, Sam was waving to me, saying "have a good race, Mama!" So cute :-) I got to the park right around 10:00, said a few quick hellos to everyone and hopped back in the car to get warm. I decided to don my screwshoes and run backwards on the course for a bit, just to get an idea of what the final 1/2 mile would be like. Lanzo was in pretty good shape, with a few ice spots here and there, and it was good to visualize what the finish would be.

There was a good crowd at the start, but somehow as we jostled into position down the Knights Woods trail, I managed to get myself right behind Jamie as we made the first turn. Hmmm. That might be a bit aggressive! But slowly, he sprinted away, and I found myself at the front of a little caravan of people crunching and crashing down the trail (man, was the snow and ice noisy today!). The alternate course put us on a lot of single track, and we twisted and turned and wound through the park on some trails we don't normally traverse. The snow was really pretty good out there in the woods, with even a bit of powder hidden in spots too (well, once it was churned up by the top guys, anyway.). I got passed by two guys on the Snowmobile Trail pretty early on, and although the first guy quickly pulled out of sight, I did manage to overtake the other guy somewhere on Ginn. At that point, I knew Emma was in close pursuit, so I kept on pushing. Luckily, the last mile was basically all downhill, so I picked up the pace as much as I could and crossed the finish line just ahead of Emma. I don't quite know how I managed to win the woman's race today (I finished in 38:01 against Emma's 38:11). Had the race been any longer I would have had a hard time holding her off, so she surely provided some good motivation to keep moving as quickly as possible. Nice racing with you, Emma! (And nice job on your super fast 5k yesterday too! Impressive.)

Final push to the finish line (courtesy of Maine Running Photos)

As is always the case, there were a lot of great TMR results today, and lots of smiles at the end of the race. Emma, Julia and I headed almost immediately back out to pick up the flags and arrows on the middle section of the course. I hadn't anticipated a 3 mile cool-down, but was happy to help out, and it was a nice chance to chat a bit with Emma and Julia in between the crunching of their snowhoes (I just wore my 315s and they were perfect on the now-packed course). We got back just in time for the awards and a bit of yummy soup from Frontier, after which I sprinted off to Kristen's house for Morgan's 6th birthday party. Thanks to Neenie and Pippi for transporting Sammy to the party! Sam had a blast racing around after Morgan and her friends, made a bit of a mess with the craft of the day and ate all the icing and sprinkles off her cupcake. I'd call it a successful birthday party, and a fun, if tiring, afternoon! :-)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Light Snow

I headed out for a short 3 mile run this morning as a light snow began to fall. My legs felt a bit heavy, but loosened up a bit as I ran along, and I was happy to feel that I could at least get in a little fast-turnover as I ran along Canam Drive in the final stretch. It makes me shake my head a bit that I can feel so tired after a week of only 35 miles, but such is life. I suppose the hard effort of Sunday's 10 miler combined with a few nights of up-every-hour with a child who is coughing and crying from her ear infection will do that. In any event, I am happy that I at least managed to eke out the 35 miles, which means that for the first time in a few weeks I actually managed to get in the weekly miles I was shooting for. We'll see if I can keep it up as the weeks continue and the long runs get longer. But first, tomorrow's White Out! An alternate course, due to snow levels, which looks like it will be a twisty turny interesting snowshoe for sure!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tired 5

I swear, I am always tired. Someone, anyone with kids. Tell me it will get better. Last night there was lots of coughing and screaming. And although Sam awoke in great spirits, by 3:00 I was on my way to daycare to pick her up. She had a high fever and was coughing again. I took her to the doctor's, not really because of the fever or cough, but because her breathing seemed labored. Turns out her lungs are fine, she was just "panting" a bit from the fever. But she did have yet another ear infection. *sigh* Poor kiddo. I see another rough night ahead. Sam's been in bed for an hour but it hasn't been restful, that's for sure.

Anyway, back to this morning. After dropping Sam off at daycare, I headed out to the Highland Green road for a spin. Actually, it was more of a shuffle, but I got in my 5 miles. I think I need to retire my screw shoes. The balls of my feet have been hurting, and I'm wondering if the shoes are just worn down and my feet are not happy for it. I ran in my 315s today, without screws, and they had more than enough traction on the snow that is left, and work well on the roads too. I came back in via Mountain Road and the trails that connect to the Mt. Ararat fields. People had been out both walking and skiing on the groomed (but not recently) trails. The surface made for some fine running. I wish the whole run had been on that hard-packed, grippy surface!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bradbury 10

I thought I'd hit the Brad today for a run. I haven't had too many chances to run there, and today seemed like a good day for it. Bright blue skies, no wind, and climbing temps. My plan was to run the White Out course, and then head to the east side to finish up my miles. Ryan suggested that running the snowshoe course probably wasn't needed - Ian had already told him there were some pretty squirrely sections on the Boundary Trail and the South Ridge, so Ryan was already pondering some alternative routes for the race. But, I figured it would be a good way to get in some hills, so that is where I headed.

The beginning might have been the worst of it. All the traffic on the Northern Loop, plus the melt around the waterbars left that first 1/2 mile pretty sketchy. The Terrace Trail was much better. Only a few small stretches of sketch as I made my way up. Out to the Bluff (nice view!) and back up to the Tote. I could tell that we weren't going to be snowshoeing on this course. Running, maybe. But snowshoeing, no. Too many bare spots, and open rocks and roots to catch a snowshoe on. As I got to Krista's Trail, I had already changed my mind about going out on the remainder of the course. I really wasn't into tiptoeing the Boundary and slip sliding down the South Ridge. Krista's looked like it had only seen minimal traffic. And the snow cover looked pretty good. Into the twisty-turny single track I went. Oh, it was fun! One person had made it part of the way around, and then it was just me, following the packed down trough from the first snowshoe race, for the rest of the way. Well, except for all the deer who had been using the trail too :-) There were lots of other tracks out there - rabbit, squirrel, a little mice burrow, and what I think was probably fox, but it was hard to know for sure, as the tracks were no longer distinct.

After that fun little add-on, I made my way across the street, where I found the trails in much better shape. Ryan had asked me to do a little recon on this side, so I ran down the Knight's Woods trail and connected up with the Snowmobile Trail. Decent. Some ice, and one or two bare patches, but good running. In fact, mile 4, 5 and 6 were my fastest of the day. All along the nice packed snowmobile trails. I ran out until my Garmin read almost 7 miles, and then I turned back. I always forget until I'm out there, that the Snowmobile Trail is pretty much all downhill on the way out, which means some good climbs on the way back. I was slow on the uphills, but steady. I turned off to run Fox West. A few ski tracks for a ways, and then I was just tromping through the snow. Good coverage for the most part. I finished up by running in the Link, with a very short foray onto Lanzo, just to see how it looked. Looked good. And a few people had been out on their mountain bikes! Brave souls!

I ended up with 10 miles on the nose in 1:46:10. It was a fun morning on the trails, made even better by a stop at Edna & Lucy's to use my gift certificate for a free lunch from the summer series. Can't believe I hadn't used it yet! Delish!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


When I was thinking back on Sunday's race, I wondered if I had put in the right effort. I didn't collapse at the finish. Or puke. In fact, I talked with Erin for a few minutes right at the finish line and then went immediately out for a very slow 1 mile cool-down. And I felt fine. So, did I push enough? Well, today when I finally got out for a nice, spring-like 5 miler on the powerline trails this afternoon, I could finally say yes. I put in the right effort, and pushed myself on Sunday. My legs were tired. My feet hurt (maybe from the pavement pounding?). It was all I could do to get in 5 miles at 9:45 pace. But there was satisfaction in knowing that the tiredness came from a good race.

Trail conditions were variable. Where the sun was hitting the trail, dirt and mud are showing through. But in the shade, and in the woods under the trees, things were packed down pretty nicely, and there was some decent running. However, if this wacky weather keeps up, the snow is going to be melted everywhere pretty quickly. I imagine there will be some interesting environmental consequences of having a practically non-existent snowpack as of mid-February. Hopefully winter will decide it really should come visit sometime soon, if only so we don't end up spending the rest of the year in drought. Plus, it would be nice to get in some good skiing, and a bit more snowshoeing and some more solid winter trail runs too. Speaking of, the 2nd Bradbury snowshoe race is this coming Sunday. Will it be a snowshoe race? Or a trail race? I'm planning to hit the Brad tomorrow morning to run a loop of the course to see how things look, and will tack on some extra to get in a nice midweek run of 10 miles. Plus, it's Wednesday and Edna & Lucy's will be open for a post-run treat! Hurray.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sam at 28 months

It is truly amazing to me that Sam is almost 2 1/2 years old! She is still my little baby, but more and more, she is looking and acting like a little girl. It is fun to watch. I don't even think I can begin to document all the silly little things she says and does, but she keeps us laughing, that's for sure!

Here are a few of the most recent adorable things she is saying/learning/etc:

~ "Oh, that's a good idea." In perfect context, ie. if I say we should get another book to read, or if I ask her if she'd like more of something or other to eat.

~ She has a number of ever-so-slightly off phrases that are ever-so-cute. Like "last morning." As in, yesterday morning. Or "lay up," instead of sit up. Or "what's your birthday for?" when she wants to know when someone's birthday is.

~ I recently redid her room, and she calls it "my special room." I am so happy she likes it!

~ She knows that her birthday is in October. "And Annie's is October too!" (Annie is her best friend at school, and her birthday is indeed in October.) She gets so excited to tell us they both have October birthdays. Precious!

~ She has learned our names. She now calls me "my momma Danielle (pronounced Dyell)," and knows that Ryan is "her daddo Ryan," Irene is "Grammie Irene," and Dana is "Grampie Dana." I'm sure when my parents are here these next few weeks, she will learn their names too. She also knows that Grammie and Grampie live in Georgetown, but she says "nooooo!" when we tell her we live in Topsham :-) Um, yes, honey, indeed we do.

~ She is learning some opposites, and tells us that Mama is little and Sammy is little, and Daddo is big :-)

~ She can sing all the words to "Old McDonald," "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Happy Birthday," "ABC Song," and "The Bear Went Over the Mountain." She knows a few words to "Twinkle Twinkle" and I am sure there are other songs she is learning at daycare, because we hear her singing to herself at bedtime and can't quite figure out what the tune is!

~ She always wants to know what we are doing, etc. She says, with a funny little accent, "Whatcha doing Mama?" "Whatcha eatin' Daddo?" "Whatcha wearin'?" Very funny.

~ She is very polite, using thank you and please correctly and mostly without prompting. She also says "bless you" when someone sneezes, is learning to cough into her sleeve and says "Excuse me" when she burps or farts. How nice!

I am sure there is more, but those are the things that come to mind, and make me smile! Oh Sammy, we love you so! [even if you do drive us nuts every once in a while!]

Building a "big tower" with Grampie this weekend
(note the inattentive parents in the background. Ha! :-) )

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 Mid-Winter Classic 10 Miler Race Report

Ryan says I'm a sandbagger. Of course, on our way north (we stayed at Ryan's parents last night) he also said, "I'll be proud of you whether you run 1:10 or 1:25. Well, a bit more so if you run 1:10. But really, this isn't your thing, so don't stress." So which is it, man?! :-) But honestly, today was a crap shoot. I had been sick all week. I haven't done any speedwork, or much road running recently in general. My last road race - the half marathon last July - was not my best day by a long shot. All that being said, I figured I should be able to finish between 1:15 and 1:20. If I couldn't hit 1:20, it was going to be a bad day. I hoped I could hit 1:15. I ended up running 1:14:06, so I am more than thrilled. I also feel I ran a smart race, and that makes me happy too.

The day couldn't have been better for a mid-winter race. Especially compared to last year! The day dawned bright and sunny, with little to no wind to speak of. Temps were probably in the low 20s. The roads were dry and clear. In other words, pretty darn perfect.

Ryan's parents watched Sam for us this morning, which was great. Thank you Grammie and Grampie! Made logistics a bit easier. We got on the road a little after 7:30, and arrived with more than enough time for me to get my bib, hit the bathroom a few times, do a warm-up and get to the line on time, and also let Ryan get to the 3 mile aid station to volunteer with a bit of extra time. I knew there were a number of Trail Monsters running, but I didn't see most of them until after the race. I was just sort of doing my own thing. I planned to go out a little easier than I have in the past, being mindful of the urge to run fast fast fast with everyone, especially given the downhill in the first mile. My Garmin read 7:26 for mile 1; which meant the clock read about 7:40 or so. Mission accomplished.

Somewhere around mile 2 (Photo: Maine Running Photos)

Things were busy for the first few miles, but after the 3 mile aid station, the long winding train of runners had thinned out a bit. Soon after, I saw Ian running in the opposite direction, out for his own run. It was fun to see him out there cheering on everyone as he ran along! At some point, I settled into a good groove, with a good group of people, and just kept on chugging. I went through mile 5 with the clock reading 37:00. OK, keep with it, Danielle.

Mile 5ish

The miles kept ticking by, with the clock reading decently each time. At the mile 7.5 water stop, Ryan gave me a big yell, telling me to start picking people off. I was feeling pretty strong, and knew the end was near, so I did my best. I ran through mile 8 just as the clock was ticking to 1 hour, and oh, there was Ian again! Still running and cheering. Thanks gIANt! :-) OK, 2 miles to go. 15 minutes. Do it do it do it. Pick it up pick it up. I actually ended up running the final two miles in 7:18 and 7:10, which is pretty exciting (for me), and the last hill didn't even seem that bad. I don't know if that means I didn't run fast enough, or if it just means I ran smart. I'll assume the latter :-) Ha. Of course, once I hit the high school entrance road, my legs would not turn over any faster, but thankfully I didn't get passed by anyone in that last stretch! Yahoo!

A lot of Trail Monsters had great races today, with a lot of the guys running seriously fast. Nice job everyone! And of course, I can't finish the post without a big thank you to Blaine, Four, Chandra, Don and all the volunteers for putting on such a great, well-organized race. There was lots of yummy food at the end, and Atayne provided some sweet shirts too!

After an afternoon spent chasing Sam around the house (she had Ryan and I running countless laps around the kitchen with her), I am currently eating pie and sort of watching the Super Bowl on the couch. Oh, and my legs are a bit sore. A good end to the day.

Final stats:
120/611 overall
5/43 age group
22nd woman


Saturday, February 4, 2012


We're down at Ryan's parent's place today. Once Sam was down for a nap, I headed out for a short run. The wind swirled and pushed and pulled at me. I got in 3 miles at a little under 8 minute pace. Don't know what I'll be able to hold tomorrow, but I will try my best!

And since this is a boring post, here is a photo of Sam from this morning. She will now smile on command, pursing up her face, smiling and saying "cheezzzz" to the camera. So cute :-) And looking so grown up!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tacky (And Hopefully Not)

Two days in a row with an afternoon run. Totally unlike me, but today, it worked in my favor, as I even enjoyed a bit of blue sky and sun while running! And despite not sleeping much at all last night, I actually felt pretty good out there, which was a nice surprise. Still a bit sniffly/stuffy, but hopefully on the mend.

The snow as good and tacky, perfect for screwshoe running! And some brave soul had even gotten out on their skate skis around Mt. Ararat - I had to laugh at that one, as there was some pretty sketchy stretches, with water, dirt and rocks showing through - but the snow was likely pretty good for skiing too, if you could get around the obstacles. A snowmobile or two had been out between Mt. Ararat and the hill right after Rt. 24, both packing the snow down and churning it up, if that makes sense. Once I was down on the flats headed towards Bay Park and Lover's Lane, it appeared that someone had been out with a groomer, as the top layer of snow had actually been scraped off. Very odd, but nice running! I got in a good 5.7 miles, and even managed to run less than a 10-minute mile pace, the quickest run I've had on the powerlines recently. Ha.


The reason I was out running late was that we were working on the loft and Sam's room this morning. Part of the reasoning behind organizing the loft, aside from creating an office space for Ryan, was to create enough room to move the double bed out of Sam's room and upstairs. The bed has always been crammed into her room, leaving no room for her to play. Which was never a big deal when she was smaller, but now that she's getting older, we thought she would really enjoy some additional play space. And finally, today, we managed to get the loft organized enough to move the bed upstairs, which let me rearrange her room. Hurray!

For those of you who remember what Sam's room used to look like (Grandparents and great-grandparents, I mean you! :-)), here are a few shots of how it looks as of this afternoon! I'm very excited with how it came out, and she loved it too!

New toy shelf [which used to be in my old room as a kid]


Comfy chair for the adults to sit in

The first thing Sam did when she saw the new set-up 
was remove everything from the shelves :-)