Friday, November 30, 2012

Oh Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Brrrr! Felt like winter for sure this morning! The car thermometer was reading only 19 degrees when I dropped Sam off at daycare at 8:00 am. I got home, pulled out some warmer running gloves and headed out. I had already made my mind up to run the cart paths for 6 miles, but man, out in the open with the wind, it sure was cold! In an attempt to warm up, I picked up the pace but I don't think my legs actually warmed up until around mile 4.5 :-) Ran home on the powerlines, hoar frost crunching underfoot and the wind whipping in my face, and pulled off the 6 miles in 51:00. Was glad to get home and warm up by the heater, alongside the cats :-) Smart animals, they are!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Frosty Heath

Had a last-minute change in the schedule this morning when Ryan didn't get up for his run and Sam woke up in a bit of a mood. We finally settled her down in front of an episode of "Dora" (I know, I know, but sometimes, TV is a useful device.), Ryan took a quick shower and I headed out to get my run in before he left for work. I hadn't anticipated just getting up and going, so downed a quick handful of raisins, chugged some water and was off. Since I had to get back before Ryan left, I didn't have much time, so I settled on the Heath loop for 4 miles. I'll get out on the cart paths tomorrow and get in 6 to round out the 10 for these two days.

The air was cold, and my legs didn't seem warmed up, making the 9:00 pace feel like a bit more effort than it should have, but it was still a beautiful morning to be out. The sun was just sneaking above the treeline and the horizon glowed orange as the orb rose. There was a very slight trace of snow on the green moss along the Heath loop and atop the iced over puddles. The leaf matter was thick beneath my feet, and the hoar frost crunched as I ran along. I caught movement to my left up in the trees, and paused in time to see a Pileated Woodpecker fly past, stopping for a moment to circle around a tree trunk just off the trail before moving on. Always a neat sight!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Out at 6:30 this morning. Although the sky was already brightening, I still caught most of the morning's spectacular sunrise. Bands of pink and purple lit up the low clouds and a golden orangey glow rose along the horizon. There was even a neat tower/spotlight of pink rising up vertically through the clouds. Very cool. I didn't want to turn away from the show so ran my three miles out and back on the power lines for maximum viewage :) Definitely worth getting up and out the door for on a cold November morning!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Too Much Pie

The past two days have been spent doing way too much sitting - in the car, on the couch, at the table, and yesterday at the desk at work. There's also been a bit too much pie eating - although I suppose that is part of what Thankagiving is all about :-) In any event, I was more than happy to get out for a run this morning!!

I headed out into the cart paths, adding in the Heath loop to get the route to 7 miles. It was crisp and bright out. No frost on the greens this morning but no golfers at 8:00 am either - too cold!! My legs felt a big heavy but since the run is in essence a road run - packed gravel paths make for good running! - it was a relatively snappy one. Felt good to move a bit, for sure.

It was great to see everyone the past few days! In case you think Sam and Morgan just don't get along :), here are a few cute photos from Thanksgiving day!

Silly cousins :-)


Goofing around during dessert :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


A thick low mist down to the ground, the sun up high trying valiantly to break through. A thin sheen of ice on the Heath and the Vernal Pool. The soft babbling of the Cathance. A flash of red as a Cardinal flew past. 5 quiet early morning miles in the woods. With the rest of the day to be spent with  family, eating turkey and pie and watching the cousins play. Thankful indeed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Sam had a rough night of sleeping last night after being very good for a long stretch. I wish I knew what it was that set off a bad night's sleep. She can't quite verbalize yet what it is that makes her so uncomfortable, etc in the night, so it's just a guessing game. Is she overtired? Having nightmares? Who knows? In any event, I woke up feeling a bit less than rested. Luckily, daycare drop-off went smoothly, I got home to get the sweet potato and apple casserole in the oven and then still had time to get out the door for a short 3 miler around the block. I managed to click off 8:30s, which is my typical "I'm in good shape, this is no trouble" kind of time for the loop. I'm taking it as a good sign, but I'm still feeling tired.

Looking forward to a few extra days off this week, some good family time and lots of yummy food, plus at least a little running :-) Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Down by the River

Sam went into daycare today because it's a shortened week due to Thanksgiving. She'll have enough "home days" later this week, so off she went this morning to play with her friends while I ran around like a maniac trying to cross off a million and one things on my "to do list" on this "free" day :-) I did, however, have my priorities straight, and got in a run down along the Cathance before I did anything else! I ran the 7 mile "loop," enjoying the rushing waters and the quiet woods. The singletrack is covered with leaves and there was a lot of hoar frost, so the going wasn't quick, but that wasn't the intent today anyway. It was a gorgeous crisp morning to be out, the sun shining down through the bare branches of the trees above  - right into my eyes! Should have worn the shades! First hour+ run since Stonecat. Although the run was nice and things felt pretty good, I did feel like my legs were still a wee bit tired, so I think I'll keep on the slow track for the next few weeks and just get in 4 days/20 miles both this week and next. No need to rush into anything right now. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Start of the Season

Last night, we went to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at the house of Ryan's new boss. All his new co-workers seem very cool, and one of them has a daughter a little older than Sam, so the two girls had fun running around together. This morning, we went to Frosty's for donuts and then tonight had pizza at our house with Nate, Shannon, Lenka and Zak, followed up by a delicious chocolate Guiness cake that Zak made. I made a salad but really, who were we kidding! Next week, we'll be having two full Thanksgiving dinners. Oh boy, better start upping the miles!! :)

Got out this afternoon for a nice, slippy slidey, muddy run in the power lines. The five miles felt good and the legs and back felt solid. I'll take it. I also ran through a group of Junior ROTC ambushing rack other along a stretch of power lines. There was silly string everywhere :) Pretty funny and certainly kept the run from being boring!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I got out into the sunshine this morning for a run around the Heath. The back is feeling pretty good and I was happy to be out. It was cold, bright and beautiful. I ran by an oak leaf on the ground, its edges completely frosted - delicate shimmering white atop autumnal golden brown. I took the short turn-off to the Heath overlook, taking a moment to take in the view of the frosted reeds and grasses and the iced over water, set against the blue sky above and the deep greens of the pine forest.

I came home to a big breakfast feast - pancakes, eggs and sausages - yum! Thanks Ry! - and a wacky little girl who was running around the kitchen, stopping every once in a while to shake her bum and wave her arms to the music - yup, she's got my coordination and rhythm, the poor thing, but it's still quite cute :-) A pretty good start to the day, I must say :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012


At Sam's daycare, they make a big deal out of all the holidays. Can't say I blame them, it give their lessons and crafts a focus, but on the other hand, I was really wishing I could go without Sam knowing about Santa watching over her for another year or so :-) In any event, in preparation for Thanksgiving, they made a big paper turkey on the wall, and had all the kids tell the teachers what they were thankful for. Those items were then written on a big feather and each child's feather was put up to make a "thankful turkey." Cool idea, but I'm not quite sure Sam (or her little friends) truly grasp what thankful means... So, what does Sam's thankful feather say? "I'm thankful for Mama, Daddo and roosters." Roosters? What the heck is up with that?! 3 year olds are so weird :-)


As for me, well, I'm thankful that despite a wonky back, I can still get out on a beautifully crisp November morning and go for a short tromp along the powerlines. Got in a nice 3 miles this morning before heading up to work. Hoar frost and ice everywhere, and bright bright sunshine. Can't beat it. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crunch Crunch

My back had been feeling pretty good after a lot of stretching and heating and rolling. Then yesterday I picked up Sam just the wrong way, and d*!m it, it hurt again! Yow. I was not, and am not, happy about it. I guess I really need to strengthen my back up, but at the moment, it is just so tight that I need to get it loosened up first.

I've found it actually feels better with some motion and blood flow, so I decided to go out for a short run this morning. Things were a bit cranky when I woke up, but after some stretching and moving around, I didn't feel any worse for wear while running. I ran the short 3mile Highland Green loop. It was a beautiful crisp morning. There was a layer of ice on the puddles, and on the powerlines the hoar frost crunch crunched underfoot. My legs felt good and I easily ran at 9:00 pace without trying, not that that is fast, but it's not slow. After the run, I headed off for a massage. She's mostly been working on my legs, but I asked her to do a bit of back work too. As she was working on things, I could feel just how tight things were. Sigh. Oh well. It will get better, I know it will, just a matter of how long it takes.

I have another appointment with Dr. Jamie next week. I'm hoping he can do a bit of crunching and releasing and loosen things up, and then I'll get another massage the week after Thanksgiving. Hopefully with those things, plus lots of stretching, and strengthening if I feel OK, plus some light running, and being very very careful how I lift Sam, things will return to "normal." Hope so, anyway! Having a sore back really sucks!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cathance Wander

We got out yesterday afternoon for a walk in the woods down to the Cathance River. The route was only a 1/2 mile or so, but we took our time, looking into the Vernal Pool for fish, stopping to pick up pebbles, having leaf races on the river, throwing sticks in and watching them brave the rapids, picking up acorns, and running from this tree to that rock. Sam made it most of the way before demanding "uppy", and even had her first pee in the woods :-) Hey, gotta be proud of that! It was a gorgeous late fall day to be out exploring!

Vernal Pool boardwalk

Boardwalk navigation :-)

Flowing waters

Our trail guide for the afternoon

Pondering the river

"I can get to that tree first!"

Sammy in motion

"Are there any fishies in there?"

I didn't get out to run today, which was pretty silly given that it was 60 degrees out. But I wrenched my back putting Sam in the car so all I wanted to do before work was stretch and heat it. Feels much better this evening, but I think I need to put some definite work into building a strong core and back!! Can't be doing this every few weeks!

Monday, November 12, 2012


I didn't get a chance to run either Saturday (early bird sale at work) or yesterday (Ryan was gone from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm, having a great time tailgating and watching the Pats game down in Boston with Zak). But Sam and I did have a fun morning yesterday with Morgan and Kristen. We met up at LLBean to pick up a few things, and the kids had fun running around the children's area and up and down the rock staircase in the shoe area. Then we hit Fresh Batch for lunch. It was great to catch up with Kristen, and Sam of course had a grand old time with her cousin :-)

LLBean fun

Cousins :-)

This morning I snuck out to run down to the river and back, and enjoy the beautiful morning. It almost felt spring-like! The air was damp and warm, the river was rushing, and I was more than comfortable in light tights and a long sleeve shirt. No gloves or hat needed! I felt pretty good, and the legs had a little more spring to them too, so that was more than welcome!

Hopefully we're off for an outside adventure shortly to take advantage of what is likely the last mid-50 degree day for a while!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nice and Easy

Since I'm in recovery mode, I felt no qualms about skipping a run yesterday, on a day when the temps are in the low 30s, it was raining, and there was snow on the ground. Ryan went out just as the skies were lightening before he headed to work, though, and said it was pretty terrible out. But today, after rain all day yesterday, we awoke to blue skies and warmer temps. I had done a lot of back stretching yesterday and even got a full night's sleep (!) - Sam was nice enough to sleep through the night, or at least until 5:15 am :-), which meant I probably got 8+ hours of sleep. Haven't had that in a while! - so I woke up feeling good. Ryan dropped Sam off at daycare, and I headed out around 7:30am. I ran nice and easy around the Heath loop, shoes crunching on the bits of snow left atop the fallen leaves, enjoying the sunshine and the quiet woods. My legs still were feeling the effort of Stone Cat, but overall, I felt pretty good, and was happy to get in a nice 4 miles on the trails.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Despite the blog silence the past few days, things have been moving along here in Team Snowplug land. Sam had a great time with Irene and Dana while Ryan and I were running and crewing and cheering at Stone Cat. Thank you so much, Grammie and Grampie! We really appreciate it!

She doesn't look like she was having fun, does she? :-)
I felt pretty good after the marathon, although slowly but surely my back started tightening up again later on Saturday afternoon, and I definitely felt stiff and tired all over. Still, I wasn't hobbling too much, and could make it up and down the stairs with no issue, so I'm calling that a definite success :-) We hung out at Irene and Dana's on Sunday, and then headed home in the late afternoon. Ryan headed to work on Monday, and his office is right across the street from Dr. Jamie's, so I dropped Sam off there with him and walked across the street for my appointment in the morning. Jamie commented that my back was very tight, and did some serious crunching and cracking. Youch!

I actually think I felt worse yesterday, tight back and just stiff all over, but didn't want to push it and try to run. Instead, I got a bunch of things done around the house, and most importantly, voted, before heading up to work for the day.

I went to bed before all the election results were in, but things were certainly trending in the right direction. I woke up to the news, and definitely felt proud to be living in Maine this morning. Just awesome all around.

After dropping Sam off at daycare, I went out for a short run. Man, it sure felt like winter out there! Brrr. With the wind in my face for the first mile, I felt like I could have been wearing a lot more layers! I ran the 3-mile Highland Green loop, which is mostly roads with a bit of trail and a bit of powerline mixed in. I kept the pace easy, and was happy to not have my back or legs complain too much. My legs did feel a bit heavy though but I think that's to be expected. Overall, a good shake-out run, even if a few days late :-)

The Stone Cat site hasn't listed full, official results yet, but they do have preliminary results up, which list my finishing time as 4:00:58. Well, at least I got in still in the 4:00s :-) Also appears I came in 4th woman, and 30th overall, out of 210 finishers. Given that the top three women all broke the course record, and finished way, way ahead of me, I'm pretty happy! Also looks like I had three women right on my heels, but thankfully I held them off! Or at least they couldn't quite catch up :-) Ha!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012 Stone Cat Marathon Race Report

So, what should you do when you have a sore back for most of the week? Well, go run a trail marathon! Hey, it worked for me! After icing, heating, stretching, rolling and stressing about racing with a sore back, in the end, the back was not an issue at all. And in fact, after the race was over, my back felt completely normal. I guess I just ran the kinks out :-) Very weird. But I will take it, and be very happy about it!

We drove down to Ryan's parents last night, which is very nicely only about 15 minutes away from the race start. Sam was horrible all night - fighting with me at bedtime, taking forever to fall asleep and then waking up often all night long. So, none of us got much sleep, and the alarm still went off at 4:15 am. Sigh. So much for feeling well rested! In any event, we headed out the door at 5:00 into the darkness. It was cool, but would be good running temps. We got there with more than enough time to register, stretch, go to the bathroom multiple times and have a chance to catch up with our fellow Trail Monsters. Julia, Ian, Nathan, Rick, George, Ann and I were running the marathon. Kevin, Jeremy and Joe were taking on the 50.

There was a bit of confusion at the start. Things got started late. And then there was a last minute announcement that they would be starting the marathoners 15 minutes after the 50 milers. Now, the reality of this was actually good news for us. But a number of us were already outside in the cold, dark morning, waiting for the start. Then we waited. And then we found out we had to wait some more. Not exactly ideal. I think the GAC puts on a really good race, and overall, think Stone Cat is an awesome event, but I was honestly a bit annoyed before the start about the delay. Still, like I said, in the end, it really worked out for the best, and I hope they do the same in the future, just with a bit more warning to the runners :-)

So, as the sky was getting light, the marathoners took off. Julia and Ian shot off like a rocket, with Nathan not far behind. I didn't want to get pulled into starting off too-too quick, so I settled into my own pace. The first mile was still too fast, but not that bad :-) Without the 50 milers in front of us, the sailing was much more smooth for the first miles, and with the later start, there was less time with the headlamp on. I think I started to catch up with the 50 milers after the first aid station, maybe 5 or so miles in, and as always, most were very gracious in moving aside as I ran on by. I also passed by David, who was out running along the course around the aid station too, and he nicely took my sleeves and headlamp, which was great!

The course was in good shape. The stretch through the swamp, which was a big cold puddle in 2010, was mostly dry, with just a few puddles to jump. There were a lot of wet leaves, but the GAC had done a great job of leaf-blowing/raking a lot of the singletrack, which was really nice! There were some good, thick muddy stretches too, but overall, I think it was probably fairly fast out there today. There were a few course changes, but Ian felt nothing that would add/subtract much, if any, mileage. Since I've gotten lost every time I've been out in the area since the race in 2010, I know that some of what felt like new to me, was totally unchanged, I'm sure!

I felt good overall. I knew I was probably running a bit aggressively, but it felt smooth. The only glitch in the whole thing was that from the second I went to start fueling at mile 3, my typical every ~30 minute/3 mile plan, I was in trouble. I couldn't finish my bar. I was eating food I normally eat while training, in the same order I have practiced on all my long runs. But it wouldn't go down. I think I got about 1/3 of the bar in before giving up and just stowing it away. I would try again later. But at mile 6, I wasn't feeling it. I finally forced myself to open a pack of Honey Stinger Chews at mile 7, and got 1/2 a packet down. Slowly. Hmmm. This was not ideal. Ah well, nothing to do but just keep on going, so I just kept on chugging. Got in a bit more fuel at mile 9 and right before returning to the start/finish area, but not much, just a few chews each time.

I went through in 1:57, which is a significant improvement over my 2010 first lap time of 2:10. Again, perhaps a bit too quick, but hey. Why not? I said I was going for it, and I was going for it. The Trail Monsters cheered me on, and Ryan took a break from his duties as grill master to run along beside me and ask what I needed. I told him I was on the edge, that my stomach wasn't feel good. He urged me to take the chips, but I just didn't want them. I picked up one more Honey Stinger Chew packet, and kept on going. I had seen Julia, Ian and Nathan headed out as I was headed in, and saw Rick as I was headed out. Everyone seemed to be running well.

The second lap hurt a bit more, and I definitely had a few slower miles, but I sort of expected that! I also had to stop for a desperately needed pit stop a few miles in, just as I was headed into the stretch of single track that I remembered mostly as the mess of 50 milers I was trying to pass in the dark in 2010. I lost about 4 minutes here, which, well, was rather unfortunate, but there was no way around it. I had no choice. Luckily, I didn't have to stop again because I used all my toilet paper up :-)

The miles kept ticking by. I couldn't eat or drink much, but I just kept going. I knew I was going slower, but I was still passing people, it just happened to be mostly 50 milers. Ha. Somewhere around mile 19 or 20, in the midst of the singletrack that crisscrosses the main trail, I finally caught up to Nathan. As I neared, I only had the energy to say "Nathan!" I think he may have grunted in response :-) I hoped he would come along with me, but sadly, he didn't put in a surge, so I just kept moving forward. I was counting down the miles now, hoping that my legs would hold up. I had looked at my watch on the way into the cornfield during the first lap, and knew I had about 2 miles to go from there. I was hurting, and my legs were cramping up. I was determined to run the last stretch on the carriage roads as fast as I could but sadly, at that point, fast wasn't all that fast :-) I also realized in those last few miles that it would be a miracle if I could pull off under 4:00. I felt it would be close but I didn't think I would quite have it. And in the end, I didn't. I pulled through the line at 4:00:44. However, I can't say that I am too disappointed, as it was a 13 minute PR for the course, and 4:00 was my A goal, something I really didn't know if I could reach, even if I hoped I could :-)

The Trail Monsters had an amazing day out on the Stone Cat course, with Julia finishing in 3:39, a course record, although there were surprisingly 2 other women out there running even faster! Ian had a great run, and Nathan finished about 6 minutes behind me, beating his goal by a large margin. George looked strong, and Rick, despite leg issues, finished his first marathon in a long time and it only took about 30 minutes for him to start talking about next time :-) Ann finished with her big signature smile on her face, and Kevin ran a PR for the marathon despite knee issues. I hung out for a long time after my finish, eating, chatting and cheering with my friends. It was chilly but fun to be with the crew! I finally ended up leaving around 1:30 after we got word that it was a nap-fail day, so sadly I missed what sounded like awesome finishes from both Jeremy and Joe in the 50 miler. Way to go, Trail Monsters!

Official results aren't up yet, so I have no idea of placing, etc, but I think it was a pretty talented field out there this year! I'm psyched to have finished up my 2012 racing season on a high note, and am looking forward to a few days of rest and a few months of just running what makes me happy, without a training plan written in my planner.

Thanks for a great race, GAC! As always, it's a fun atmosphere with good aid stations, food and music, on a good course. Somehow, I think I'll be back :-)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ready As I'll Ever Be...

...or maybe it's as ready as I'm gonna be :-) In any event, Stonecat is tomorrow! I got out this morning for a short 3 miler to loosen up the legs and assess how things are feeling. The foot is fine. The back, well, it is still not 100%. Luckily, it hasn't hurt all week while I've been running, but despite a massage, heating, icing, lots of stretching, etc, I am still feeling it while sitting, bending, etc. The massage therapist who I've been going to in Brunswick felt that my right aquadratus lumborum muscle, which connects from the hip up to the bottom rib, appears to be the culprit. Whatever it is, boo on it! Unfortunately, I just didn't have the time to get down to see Dr. Jamie this week, so, oh well, what can you do? I did call to set up an appointment with him for Monday though, as I assume I'm going to need a bit of adjusting after the marathon :-) Ha.

So, the gist of all this is that I'm not going into tomorrow feeling 100%. I wish I was. But perhaps in distance running there will always be something niggling or tight or sore. I don't know. I feel like I put in some decent training this fall, and up until this week, I'd been feeling good. So, I'm still planning to go for it tomorrow. I might crash and burn, but then again, I might hold it together. My basic goal is to beat my 2010 time on the course, which was 4:13:37, and I'd love to shave a number of minutes off that time. I'm confident I have the ability, but hope that my body will allow me to do so. Only time will tell, I guess.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to running and hanging out with a good Trail Monster crowd out on the trails tomorrow! Here's hoping we all crush the course :-)