Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wander to the River

Thanks to Mindy and Val for their words of wisdom after yesterday's post! It's good to have friends who understand where you are coming from, but nonetheless won't let you get too down about things :-)

I woke up this morning feeling like a long run wasn't going to happen. It might be a cop out but I am definitely run down from this cold, and lack of sleep, and I decided that I was going to make up a Plan B for the week to take that into account. Yes, this is week #2 of the 50 miler training plan, and I'm already deviating, but hey, I have never really been one to actually follow a plan :-) I could have felt badly about this, but amazingly, I didn't. I figure that if I'm going to run the 10 miler on Sunday, I might as well go into it as rested as I can and what's the point of running myself down the next few days? I might be rationalizing, of course, but it makes sense to me!

So, after a productive morning working in the loft, I finally got myself out the door around 2pm for a run. I decided I would head down to the river for a change of pace. The trails weren't quite as packed as I might have thought, so it was a little slow going, but I sort of had fun tromping through the snow. Snow was falling lightly, the river was running and there were lots of animal tracks along the way. I got in a slow 5.3 miles and was happy to have gotten out, even if it wasn't the run the plan called for.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mind Games

I got out this morning for a quick three miler before taking Sam to the Pineland Farms story hour for our morning activity. It started to snow shortly before I went out, and big, fluffy flakes were falling as I ran along the powerlines. The light was very flat, and there was just enough snow on the ground to make it hard to see what was snow and what was ice. The bare ground was easy to spot, though - and boy, did the soft sand feel odd to run on while the snow fell! I was happy to realize that I didn't feel sore from yesterday's faster pace, but I did feel tired. We all seem to have some sort of low-grade cold again, and it's zapping my energy a bit. Ah, gotta love going through a winter with a 2-year old in the house!

As I was running along, I was thinking about my training, and how I'm feeling a bit intimidated by what everyone else is doing at the moment. There are a lot of Trail Monsters running the Peaks Ultra 50 miler this spring, which is two weeks before Pineland. Mindy and Val, and everyone else, have been out on lots of long, hard runs already in their preparation for the race, and while I have lots of grand plans swirling around in my head, somehow life seems to get in the way a little too much for me, and I have only managed to get in one run over 12-13 miles this month - last week's 16 miler - and haven't managed to build up to quite the weekly mileage I had hoped for so far. Now, there is a lot of time until the end of May, yes. And yes, everyone trains differently and has different things going on. I know this. I cannot expect us all to train the same way. And honestly, this is probably the most consistently I've trained in January in a long time, even with the Gator Trial 50k in March last year. But, it's hard not to compare. Sigh. Man, I really need to get my crazy little head under control! (To this, Ryan says, yes, yes, yes.) Hopefully a good long run tomorrow will do the trick! :-)

~The theme of the books at story hour this week was snow. Maybe the little silly snow dance we did there will actually mean it snows enough to ski at Pineland again soon! Wouldn't that be nice?! ~

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Road Eight

Last year, I signed myself up for the Cape Elizabeth Mid-Winter 10 Miler. It was cancelled, but the race directors gave runners the option to sign up for this year's event. So, when that chance came up this year, I said, sure, why not? The problem is that now the race is a week away. And while I have been running, I wouldn't say that I have been training to run fast for 10 miles. So, I thought that today maybe I should attempt some sort of tempo/pace/"I don't really know what I'm doing, but I should see if I can hold 7:30s for any amount of time" type of run.

I spent the morning with Sam and Ryan. We asked Sam what she wanted to do and she said, "go the grocery store," so after a bit of playtime at home, we went to the pet store (always a hit!) and the grocery store (always a productive outing). Once we had had lunch and put Sam down for her nap, I headed out for my run. I wasn't really feeling it. An 8 mile road run on a loop that I have never found as nice as Ryan has. On a windy afternoon. Attempting to go "fast." Hmph. But, a bunch of the TMRs had done a totally badass trail run yesterday, 20 miles in the snow, falling into streams, with 4 long hill repeats at the end. How could I not do a measly 8 miles on the road? Peer pressure can be a good thing in situations like this. OK, out I went. My plan was for 2 miles easy and then the last six at 7:30s. I ended up with 8:12; 7:56; 7:30; 7:57; 7:59; 7:34; 7:31; 7:34. Not perfect, OK in the end, except for those middle miles into the wind on Meadow Cross. Maybe I can get close to my 2009 time after all? We shall see.

After the run, we took Sam out back to tromp around in the snow for a bit, and despite this silly "non-winter," there was more than enough snow in the shadows for us to have fun in!







Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tracks

The roads might have been more treacherous than the trails this morning. Even my screw shoes didn't help much with the thin layer of black ice that was coating our walkway, driveway and the sides of the roads. So, given that the powerline trail from the high school to Highland Green Road actually wasn't all that bad - hard packed, water-logged and semi-frozen snow with some slushy and icy areas, but all grippy - I chose to run the lines. It was a nice morning, bright and sunny, and there were some great tracks to be seen along the way: human, dog, kitty cat, snowmobile, truck (WTF? Someone had taken a truck on the wide stretch of trail from Bay Park. Weird!), turkey, deer, squirrel, rabbit, a big and distinct set of snowshoe hare tracks followed closely by what I think must have been a red fox based on the size and the overlapping front/hind tracks, the tunnel of a little vole crossing the trail, and one little "highway" of small bird prints. Wish I had had my camera along to document the tracks! [Edited to add: Found a neat site with photos of tracks that will be fun to look at for future "tracking."]

Ended up with a pretty slow 5 miles to close out the week at 34.5 miles (darn that 0.5 miles! Should have run a bit more this morning, I guess! Oh well.).

Speaking of tracks, Sam started asking about finger painting this morning before it was even light out, so by 7:00 am, she was in her chair, making her own "tracks" in the paint :-)


This was followed by a late morning creative marking session with crayons and a box :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stuff

Got in a slow and creaky 5 miles this morning. The powerlines to Highland Green Road were sketchy without screwshoes, and the edges of the roads were icy from all the melt yesterday and the cooler temps in the morning. Meh. After the run, I hopped in the car for some errands and an appointment down in Portland. On the way back home, I saw a Bald Eagle fly over near the bay along the Gilsland Farm Audubon Sanctuary. Always a nice sighting!

The afternoon was consumed with stuff (literally!). Aside from getting some good running in this winter, one of my main goals is to clear out the loft so that we can make a proper office space for Ryan and get our guest bed up there too, moving it from Sam's bedroom so that she can have more room to play, and people could actually stay with us if they wanted! It is a serious undertaking, as the attic space in the eves is full of stuff (ie. crap we haven't needed or looked at in the past 6 years since we've moved here) and the loft itself is literally overflowing with stuff (hiking and backpacking stuff, ski stuff, snowshoes, and everything else that doesn't have a good spot anywhere else in the house). In other words, there is a lot of sh*t up there! I had gotten a start on things in the past two weeks, but in order to move forward, I needed Ryan's help to clear out the eve space and make some decisions on odds and ends. So we spent a good two hours up there this afternoon, organizing boxes and throwing out a lot of junk, with a little bit of swearing thrown in for good measure. I also took another load to Goodwill. There is still a lot to do, but we can see the floor now :-)

In amongst the boxes were piles of photos and memorabilia. Some of it just has to be kept - the guest book from our wedding, letters Ryan sent me while I was in France junior year, old photo albums, etc. It was fun to look through some of these things I hadn't thought of in years! We found some good old photos too. Ha!

Paris, 1996. Wow, we were young!

I also found my old running logs from 1995 to 2005. I decided I didn't really need the logs themselves, but I did make notes on my miles. So, for the sake of posterity and record-keeping, here goes:

1995: 439.5
1996: 1133.5 (Wow! I'm impressed with myself. No idea I had run that much in the 90s.)
1997: 844.5
1998: 777.5
1999: incomplete (only 370.5 as of 10/1/99)
2000: 219.75
2001: 431.7
2002: 542.6
2003: 423.5
2004: 504.25 run/283.4 hike
2005: 301.5 run/1528.3 hike (AT)

Who knew I ran so much junior and senior year of college? And wow, how quickly the miles dropped off once we had graduated! :-) I know we hiked a lot after 1999, when we moved to Bethel and then to North Conway, but apparently I didn't start to keep a record of hiking miles until 2004. Ah, the memories :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January Thaw

Wow. What a difference 24 hours makes. Yesterday morning, we were snowshoeing with Sam on some beautiful snow, and she was picking up nice, dry fluffy stuff at the edge of the trail. By this morning, the rain, warm temps (up to 46 degrees when I left the house for my run) and the fog had pretty much obliterated what snow we had, leaving puddles everywhere. Weird. And sort of depressing. Isn't this supposed to be winter?!

Despite the warm weather, I was feeling a bit glum. And I was tired. OK, when am I not tired? But still. I did not feel like a long run. Sigh. Ryan told me to just get my butt out the door. That did the trick. OK, OK, I was off. I had 16 miles on the schedule. I knew it would be a road run, based on conditions. I ran through Patriot Commons to tack on a few extra miles before heading out to do the Foreside loop. I figured with a bit extra at the beginning, I should be close to 16 by the time I got back home.

The roads were actually in decent shape. Good shoulders, and not a ton of deep puddles. But it was really foggy. I tried to stick as close as I could to the edge of the road, and luckily, everyone who passed me gave me wide berth, which is always nice. Once I got going, I felt pretty good, and the route was basically flat with two big hills around mile 9 and 11. I was running a pretty quick pace. But I thought I could hold it. And I did, at least until the last three miles. Then things just started to fall apart. My pace went from low 8s to high 8s to just over 9 in those final miles. Ouch. Guess I should have gone a bit more slowly at the start! Or maybe it is just a sign that I need to do some more long runs! Either way, it was painful, but it was my own doing. I just kept on slogging, determined to get those darn 16 miles. And I did. In a bit under 2:15, I was back home, sweaty and sore, but done.

Looking forward to a shorter day tomorrow, and then a day off on Thursday. I think I'll be ready!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out in the Snow

I did a short 4 mile run this morning before taking Sam to the doctor for her ear check - All clear! Hurray! - and felt rather stiff and tired. I headed out on the powerlines, but my right calf and ankle were protesting the soft snow a bit so I turned onto Highland Green road until the Garmin beeped 2 miles, and then decided I would come back via the high school road so I could check the status of the fields. Our neighbor had told us that they had been grooming them, which I remembered from last year, and I wondered if they had done so since the last snowfall. And indeed, they had. The tracks actually looked pretty nice. Excellent! I really have been wanting to get Sam out on her snowshoes and this seemed the perfect spot.

So, after the doctor's appointment, we suited Sam up in her snowsuit, got ourselves organized and headed over to the fields. It was a good morning for it. Temperate, and no wind. Sam was very excited to get on her snowshoes, but they are still a bit big for her, and she didn't last long in them. Ah well. We tried!

Testing out the snowshoes

Snowshoeing with Daddo

After she took her snowshoes off, we walked with her up into the woods. She had fun picking up the snow, and stepping off the edge of the groomed path to sink into the deeper snow.

Let's try the deep snow!

This is fun!

Walking with Daddo

YEAH! I love the snow!

If we had remembered to put the Ergo back into the car, we would have put her on my back and trekked around a bit longer, but I guess Ryan needed to get some work done anyway, so home we went.

I'd call it a successful first snowshoe foray for the kiddo, and hopefully we'll get her out on them (and her skis too) again soon!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Bradbury Squall Race Report

First off, a huge shout-out to the awesome Trail Monster crew, including race directors Ryan and Ian, plus Val, Rick, Linda, Christine, Dave and a lot of others for volunteering and helping to put on such a great race this morning! It was fun to see so many people out on a cold, blue-sky winter morning ready to torture themselves by snowshoeing through the woods! :-) And if today's race is any indication, the 2012 Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe series is going to be a big success - there were 40 finishers, more than any of the races last year! Awesome.

I honestly had no idea how the race was going to go. I have never snowshoe raced before. And my last run in my snowshoes, on Friday, had made me a bit nervous. I had a really tough time actually moving forward with any speed through the snow that day. But, I was going to give it my best shot. I knew Emma was signed up for the race, and while I wasn't sure about Julia, who won the series last winter, I knew that both of them would be giving me a good run for my money out there! This morning dawned crisp and clear. When Ryan left the house to mark the course at 6:30am, the temp was reading -7. Brrr! Luckily, the snowshoe crowd is smart enough to start the races later in the day, so by the time 11:00 rolled around, it was likely in the high teens/low twenties and fairly comfortable, perfect snowshoe weather. That's not to say my toes weren't cold, but still, better than -7!

Irene and Dana were wonderful enough to come up for the weekend so that they could watch Sam during the race. Thank you, Grammie and Grampie! Sam had a blast with them, and knowing they were with her meant I didn't even have to worry about her while I was gone. I arrived at the park around 10:00, got my number, chatted a bit, sat in the car to get warm, did a short road warm-up, and soon enough it was time to run. The start was on a thin snowmobile path that cut through the field. Ryan had warned me to start near the front, and go for it from the start, as once you were behind someone on Krista's singletrack, about 3/4 mile into the race, you'd be behind them for a while. I lined up next to Emma and another woman, with Jeremy of Atayne right behind us. I figured that was about right.

As we ran through the field, I was surprised to find that the group around me wasn't going out all that fast, so I snuck around a person or two and just settled into a pace that felt comfortably quick. I was happy to realize that the trail had been decently packed, and it was much easier running that I had had on Friday. That was a big boost, and I determined that I was going to go hard, without going all out, for as long as I could and see what happened.

As we climbed the Ski Trail, I was on my own, just one guy in black ahead of me, with no one in hearing range behind. I knew Emma and Julia likely weren't too far back though, so I was running a bit scared, but I felt pretty good overall, even though I was definitely sucking wind up the Ski Trail hill! Then the turn onto the singletrack, which was pretty nice, actually, and fun to run. I realized the guy in front of me was Dave Roberts, and I reeled him in a bit on the climb, but once we hit the downhill back to the Tote Road, he slowly slipped away from me. I could see a few runners here and there winding through the woods behind me, but I didn't actually hear anyone right behind me until we were off the Tote and on the Boundary Trail. I lost a bit of time going gingerly down the icy hillside there, and knew whoever was behind me was getting pretty close.

The final climb on the Boundary was a tough one. I think I ran it well, but once I got to the top, I realized I was pretty tired, and my pace dropped a bit. Then, on the final little bump on the Boundary trail, my snowshoes caught and I heaved forward, catching myself on the uphill with my hands, and coming to a complete halt before lurching back into motion. Pretty funny looking on my Garmin pace vs. time data :-) I knew there was only a little over a half mile to go, so I did my best to pick up the pace, but it wasn't enough. Nathan passed me about halfway down the final stretch of trail, and although I tried to push right back, that was that and he was gone. Ah well. I still ended up finishing 1st woman in a time of 38:31. Wow. I've never won a race before, so that was pretty cool! I had realized partway through the race that I was first woman, but I just kept thinking Emma or Julia would catch me. Needless to say, I am thrilled with how my first snowshoe race evolved, as I really never would have thought I'd win.

Final push to the finish. (courtesy of Maine Running Photo)

It was a great to have a chance to catch up with so many Trail Monsters as we milled around after the race. A lot of people had really good races today! Frontier donated a huge pot of delicious Potato Leek soup for the finish, and we all hung out getting warmed by the fire before awards and the raffle. Some nice prizes, and a great race t-shirt designed by my sister-in-law, Meghan, to boot!



All in all, a great morning of snowshoe racing.
RESULTS

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fluff

Last night, before I went to bed, I looked out the window. A few flakes were falling from the sky but seemed to disappear before they even hit the ground. "Fake snow," I called it. Well, this morning, when Sam and I came downstairs a little after 6am, the air was clear but there was a lot of snow out there! I guess the snow decided overnight that it had better turn into the real stuff after all! We ended up with about 8" of nice, fluffy, light snow. So, after I dropped Sam off at daycare, I set off across the street, snowshoes in hand, to go have a little fun! After the .3 to the edge of the snowmobile trail, I put on my shoes and headed out. The snow looked so innocent. Fresh and new, clinging to the evergreens and sparkling in the sun. But man, breaking trail through all that fresh stuff was hard work, let me tell you!

I huffed and puffed, slowly, slowly making my way up the Mt. Ararat road. I figured I would start "grooming" the snowshoe loop that Ryan had made last year. I ran the downhill stretch through the woods first. I was kicking up snow like crazy. The evergreens were bent over the trail. It was like a winter wonderland! Beautiful but tough. Then I had to make my way up the back hill. Oy! I walked. Then I turned around and ran down what I had just walked up. That was better! By the third time around, the going was a bit easier. And by the fourth time, I could run the whole way. But it was humbling. There was no "fast." Snowshoe running is hard work!

I had heard a snowmobile off in the distance as I was looping around earlier, and when I got back to the Mt. Ararat road, I was happy to find that he had been zooming around the Mt. Ararat area, and I was able to use his tracks to get back to the high school road. Much easier going, for sure! I ended up with 3.25 miles run in 43:41, about 2.6 of which was on snowshoes. But no matter the distance, I got in my workout for the day!

The Squall is going to be a humbling experience, I have a feeling... But it should be fun!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hem and Haw, Squish and Slop

I hemmed and hawed. I was feeling uninspired. I was tired. The wind whipped around outside, and our driveway and the edges of the side roads around town were covered in a thin layer of ice from last night's rain. What to do? What to do? Run the roads like I had originally intended? Or gamble on the trails? In the end, I couldn't stomach the thought of 14 windy and icy road miles, so I got my Nathan pack together, put on my screwshoes and headed across the street for the powerlines. I figured I would run for 12 miles or 2 hours, whichever came first. The effort of either would no doubt be as much as, or more than, the 14 road miles.

The trail was solid in spots. Squishy and water-logged in others. But at least one sled had been through since yesterday morning's snow, and so it wasn't all that bad for running. And headed out, as is almost always the case, I had the wind at my back. I was moving along at a decent pace for a while, at least until I hit the field at Lover's Lane. At that point, it appeared that no one had been out since yesterday, but I figured, what the heck, I might as well just go for it, and so I slipped and slogged and mushed and sank as I ran the lollypop loop down by the dump, and then hit the trail to connect back to Homeplace. I ran into an older woman out on her xc skis. We stopped to chat for a few minutes. I told her she had definitely made the better choice of transportation for the day!

Once I crested the top of the hill right before Rt. 24, I was almost bowled over by the wind. I'll admit, I was tempted to just head home. I would get in 8 miles. No, no, no. That wasn't the plan. So when I got to Highland Green, I hit the road, my screwshoes tap tap tapping as I ran along the pavement. I took the dirt road to the ecology center and headed down to the river. There had been a fair amount of foot traffic, some of which was definitely snowshoes, so the running along the singletrack wasn't any worse than the running along the powerlines near the dump. I ran along, enjoying the river, and once I reached Barne's Leap, decided to take the long way back up through the woods, instead of heading back up the dirt road to the ecology center. There were lots of animal tracks crisscrossing the trail. Deer, rabbit, fox and what I realized after the fact was a porcupine! Neat!

Once back at the pavement, I crossed the road to see how the trail around the Heath was. There was less traffic along this stretch, but I was rewarded with a nice view across the Heath.

The Heath in winter

From there, I took the shortcut to the road and headed back along Highland Green to the powerlines for the final stretch. I ended up with 12.5 miles in 2:18:xx. Definitely a bit of a slog, with about 10 trail miles and 2.5 road miles, but good time on my feet training, and much more exciting than 14 windy road miles :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snowshoe Course Recon with a Side of ABCs

We awoke to snow. Soft, fluffy snow falling softly outside, piling up quickly, but easy to brush off the car. After a few hours, it stopped, bringing with it blue skies and a lovely morning, just in time for me to  meet up with Mindy for some snowshoe course recon at the Brad. While waiting for her to arrive, I talked with Linda Raymond, who was getting ready to head out in her snowshoes. We sort of looked at each other a few times in the parking lot before both of us, almost at the same time, said "Don't I know you?" Ha. We've seen each other at the Bradbury races but have never been formally introduced. We had fun chatting for a few minutes before she took off for her run/walk and I got myself ready to run.

Although we could have worn snowshoes, both of us chose to wear screwshoes, and it worked out fine.  The course seemed in decent shape given the dearth of snow this winter, but I have a feeling, once you put a number of people on it in snowshoes, it is going to get sketchy pretty quickly. Still, we enjoyed tromping through the freshly fallen snow, and winding our way through the woods in an attempt to find Krista's Trail, which was unbroken. I think we actually did a decent job of following its twisty course, but if not, oh well! We were having fun (and working a bit too! Whew!). The woods were beautiful - the evergreens covered with a dusting of snow, hints of blue sky above, and a nice snowy treadway in front of us. We saw a number of animal tracks, some deer beds, and some cute little chipmunk or squirrel holes with little snack leavings at the "doorways." We ended up with 4 miles (we got a bit off track at one point, heading further up the Tote than we should have gone) in an hour, so pretty slow, but that included all our stops and consults regarding directions, and some slow going on the hills too. That course is a workout, for sure! When we got back to the parking lot, we stopped for a drink and decided to get in a few more miles on the east side, heading out the Link and up onto the Snowmobile trail until the meadow. There had been enough snowmobile traffic, along with the walkers, skiers and snowshoers, to pack the trails down pretty nicely, and they were good running. We got in another 2.25 or so miles before calling it a day. It was great to have another chance to run with Mindy on such a beautiful morning!

While we were running, I was telling Mindy about all the ridiculous kid songs I have coursing through my head these days. Elmo and Sesame Street songs. Wheels on the Bus. Bingo. Silly hippy songs from a CD my cousin Sean gave us for Sam. Everytime she gets in the car, she wants to listen to "Bobcat Walk." (click on the little teaser to hear what gets stuck in my head every morning after driving Sam to daycare!) Of course, Sam likes to sing her own songs too and tonight we tried to capture her singing her ABCs during dinner. We didn't quite get it either time, but the videos are sort of funny. Or at least, they are videos her grandparents and great-grandparents will love! :-)

video
Sam sings the ABCs (we didn't get the video started until "H"though)

video
From the top! With a few bites of bread in between, and a loss of steam and a bit of confusion with the order at the end :-)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Funk

More snowmobilers have been out on the powerlines near us since naptime yesterday. Thank you riders! Definitely makes the running easier. A path had been driven down the regular Mt. Ararat hill, so I was able to go out the typical way without looping through the woods. I ran the lines to Lover's Lane and turned around. Despite the fact that it was 22 out (ie. 12 degrees warmer than yesterday's run!), it felt colder. Maybe because yesterday I was assuming the worst, while today, I wore less and was expecting it to be warmer? Or maybe it was the wind. Anyway, it was sunny out, the air was crisp, the trails were quiet, and the run was a few minutes faster so it all worked out ok.

Despite feeling better, and getting in a good run, I felt in a funk. We ended up having a three-day weekend together, but Saturday I was only home because I was coughing and sounded terrible, Sunday it was freezing out and Ryan was feeling terrible, and today, Ryan still felt bad (but at least went to the doctor to get some meds), so except for a last-minute, fun excursion that Sam and I took to visit Morgan and Kristen late Saturday afternoon for a bit of playtime and pizza at Ricetta's, and a grocery trip that the two of us took this morning, we'd done nothing outside of the house. Sam did really well playing at home all weekend long, but I just felt badly about it. So, after Sam woke up from her nap, I was determined that we get out to do something! Anything! We dragged Ryan with us too. Of course, we're all in varying states of sickness/recovery from being sick, so we didn't do much. We headed to LLBean to "see the fishies," which lasted all of 30 seconds, and then spent almost an hour upstairs in the kid section, Sam drawing on the giant chalkboard and running laps over and over through the tree house. We followed that up with dinner at Bucks and gelato at Gelato Fiasco.

Sprinkles!

I felt much better when we got home. Mission accomplished. No more funk! Of course, it could have been the Alan's Coffee Brandy gelato I had (yes, you read that right! Alan's Coffee Brandy gelato!) :-) YUM!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Double Digits!

I wimped out on meeting Val and Rick this morning at the Brad. Sorry guys! :( Given that I'm still trying to get rid of the remains of this cold, it didn't seem like the smartest idea to go run for an 1 1/2 in sub-zero temps. The thermometer was reading -4.6 degrees when Sam and I came downstairs at 6:30 this morning. Brrrrr!

We spent the morning ransacking the living room, reading books and singing songs, painting and in general making as big a mess as a 2-year old can make, all while trying to give Ryan some space. As the last one in the house to pick up Sam's cold, he's feeling bad, and well, let's face it, he's not a good sick person, so it's best to try to leave him alone :-) Hard to do with Sam around, but we tried!

I waited until naptime and the temps reached a blamy 10.4 degrees and headed out for my run once Sam was asleep. Bundled up, with the wind at my back, it didn't seem all that bad out, but once that wind started whipping, it certainly felt colder than 10 degrees. Or maybe, it's just that it's been such a mild winter... Or I'm a wimp :-) But whatever. I ran the powerlines down to Bay Park. Some stretches were good and solid, and I could keep up a good pace, but elsewhere, as new sleds went along the trail, they churned up the frozen surface, leaving snow the consistency of powdered sugar, leaving me with no traction and turning the run into a bit of a slog. Got in a slow 5 miles, and am happy to be feeling better and be out running again!

Big flocks of robins, their breasts a rich burnt orange, were everywhere. I assume they are migrating south from their homes up north, as this is the first I've seen of them this winter. Pretty.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crust

After being waylaid for the past few days by this nasty cold/pestilence brought upon us by Sam and all the lovely germs she brings home from daycare, I decided I felt OK enough (although I sound terrible!) to get out for a short test run. I was undecided on where I would go, figuring I would try the trails if it looked like anyone had been out on them in their snowmobiles. If not, I'd stick to the roads, but honestly after navigating the heavy ice on our 1/4-mile-long "driveway" I was happy to see that at least one or two snowmobiles had been out along the powerlines, and I hit the trails to explore a bit.

The snowmobiles had packed the snow down just enough to make things runnable. There was one section - down the hill after Mt. Ararat, where the sleds had taken a cross-country route through the junipers -where I had to tromp through the untouched snow, and as the snow glistened with an icy sheen and the crust bit at my ankles, I was more than happy to jump back on the tracks. I ran down to Topsham Crossing and back, adding on the short loop at the edge of the Mt. Ararat trails, to get in 3.5 miles, enough to bring the week's mileage up to a rather feeble 25 miles. Not what I had been hoping for out of the week, but sometimes life just happens!

Saw a red-tail getting chased by two crows along the way. I've seen the crows chasing a red-tail a number of times in the same area, I wonder if it is the same hawk.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Fun Run and Lunch

I met up with Mindy this morning to show her the trails in the Commons. Since she'll be at Bowdoin next semester for her clinical work, I thought it would be a fun place for her to be run after work. Yes, it is flat as a pancake , but is very accessible from campus and really is a nice place for a 5 to 7 mile trail run. We ended up with 6.5 miles, wandering through some of the single track among the pine trees and along the wider, more traveled paths. Conditions were good, with just a bit of snow or ice here and there. I haven't had a chance to run with Mindy in a while, so it was fun to catch up as we ran along!

After our run, we changed quickly and headed to Frontier for lunch. It was fun to see the new arrangement, and how they've laid out the space. Looks great! And the new menu looked delicious! Both Mindy and I had the blue mango veggie burger with hand-cut sweet potato fries - YUM! We talked away, enjoying our burgers and the view out onto the river. It was a great afternoon! Thanks Mindy :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cathance Meander

I had pondered heading to the Brad this morning for a long run, but honestly, I didn't quite feel up for it. I've definitely picked up a bit of a cold from Sam, nothing terrible, but enough to make me feel a little low on energy and send me running for the tissues every few minutes. Silly runny nose! However, I didn't want to give up on getting in a double-digit run today, so I decided to just stick close to home and hit the trails along the Cathance for 10 miles. Not quite the miles I had originally hoped for, but better than nothing! If things got went downhill while I was out there, I could always cut things short. Luckily, it never got to that point, but I did end up taking a long time to wander through those 10 miles! It was a combination of my lack of energy and the trail conditions. While the trails don't get slick like those at Bradbury, when you combine the twists and turns of some of the tight singletrack with major uneven footing due to serious hoar frost, it can make for slow going! But, if there is ever a place to be going slowly, it is on these trails. The river was beautiful, the rapids in particular, and the woods were quiet.

After I got home and had a little lunch, I headed out to do some errands but was cut short by a call from daycare. Sam just wasn't acting like herself, and was saying her ear hurt. Now, I am not doubting her, but I also wonder if she was just saying that because we had mentioned it this morning, especially as there are a few other kids with ear infections in the room at the moment. Ah well. I had the time and opportunity, so I picked up and we headed home. She was very happy to be home with us, and in a good mood for the rest of the afternoon. Maybe she just wanted a little more Mama and Daddo time?! :-) Since I hadn't gotten to it, she "helped" me make pumpkin muffins, making a mighty mess in the process but certainly having a lot of fun!

Baking is all about precise measurements :-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Finger Paint Fun

Turns out Sam has an ear infection, but the doctor said it's in the early stages so the medicine should work pretty quickly and she should be feeling better soon. In fact, honestly, she was much better today than I would have expected and in a pretty good mood for most of the day, a feat considering the ear infection, the coughing and the really stuffy nose, but I am not complaining! That certainly made my day much easier!

We had our doctor's appointment at 10:30 this morning, so to keep her occupied before then, I suggested painting. She was very excited, and we painted with regular paints for quite a while on the big pad that Auntie Meg got her for Christmas (thanks Meghan!). Once she started wanting to simply pour out the water onto the paper instead of actually paint, I figured it was time to move on, so we headed for the table and I pulled out the smock and finger paints. Sam had a great time painting, both the paper and herself :-) Oh, and a bit on the table too! Even clean-up was fun - I think I got about a 1/2 hour of fun out of pulling up the stool to the sink and letting her "clean her hands" (ie. play in the water and make a mess). A fun Monday morning art class :-)

Squiggles and swirls

Getting messy

In motion

And this is really why I wanted to finger paint :-) 

While Sam is feeling better, it appears that three nights of little sleep has caught up to me, and I am a bit sniffly today. I decided to just take the day off and will be headed to bed shortly in the hopes that I will be full of energy for tomorrow's long run!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Heavy

My eyes feel heavy. My legs feel heavy. While Sam has never been a good sleeper, the past two nights she has really not been a good sleeper. She's got some sort of cold and cough (and hopefully not an ear infection)  which seem to really be bothering her at night, when she is lying flat, and last night, she was up basically on the hour every hour from 10:00ish to 5:00ish, with some terrific screaming and crying in between. We're down at Ryan's parents for the weekend, so we were all up a lot last night, and everyone is tired. Luckily, Sam is sleeping right now, and hopefully she'll have a better night tonight once we're home. I'm not betting on it, but I'm hoping for it!

Despite being tired, I decided I should take advantage of naptime, and get in a run. I had hoped Ryan would be joining me, but his IT band is still bothering him, so I was on my own. I ran the Weldon Farm loop, getting in 5 miles in 38:50. Nothing like a essentially flat route to enable a quick pace. And besides, I figured that if I didn't push it a bit and just meandered along, I might just find myself curled up on the side of the road for my own nap :-)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Snow!

Ronnie woke me up this morning before anyone else was awake, and I padded downstairs in the darkness. Sam was still sleeping. A light snow was falling. I started the coffee, and sat down at my computer. All was quiet. Ahhhh. Sam ended up sleeping until 7:20, so we were running a bit behind in the end, but it was a very peaceful start to the day! Typically, Sam has been waking up right around 6:05, so I will take any extra time I can get!

After I got her off to daycare, I came home to get in a short run before work. I didn't have enough time for my planned 5, so three would have to do. I ran the short Highland Green loop, backwards. The snow squeaked and crunched under my feet, and the flakes stuck to my eyelashes. I was being very careful, not knowing exactly what was under the coating of new snow. And then, when I least expected it, I planted my foot on the edge of a big patch of glare ice on the powerlines and down I went. Hard. I had no chance at saving myself. The ice was too slick, and the expanse too big. I whacked my elbow and head, and lay there for a few seconds, a bit stunned. I got up gingerly and yelled a few choice words to the sky. My elbow hurt. A lot. I picked my way across the ice flow at the base of the powerline hill and slowly made my way up, walking carefully. Finally, with about a 1/2 mile to go, my elbow felt like it could swing again and I shuffled my way home. That was not very nice... but at least I got my first fall of the winter out of the way!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Funny of the Day

Apparently, today at daycare, Sam asked to sit on the toilet. Likely because her friend Annie is beginning potty training and asked to go potty. I had told Sam's teachers that we weren't actively potty training yet, but that Sam liked to sit on the potty when I was in the bathroom, etc, and we were encouraging her to use the potty if she wanted. Not that she's ever done more than just sit on it, but hey, it's a start!

Anyway, after a few minutes, Sam raised both her hands to make the "all done" sign, and promptly plopped right down into the toilet. Yup, she's that tiny. Luckily, she only got slightly wet and thought it was all quite hysterical, but her teacher told me she was going to make sure they put one of those special toddler toilet seat inserts on for tomorrow! HA!

Twelve and a Lesson

Ryan joined me for my run today. The plan was for 12 miles, and he was going to show me some of the trails along his "Awesome Topsham" loop which I haven't yet been on. However, things did not quite go as planned. About 1.25 miles into the run, Ryan stopped to stretch his leg. His IT Band was tight, as it has been the past few days. Then we stopped a little later to stretch again. I could tell it was bothering him so I told him he should turn around and go home, no use aggravating it further. He did not like my suggestion. I could tell his stride was off. I said something again. Things got testy. He eventually stopped right around 2 miles, angrily muttering at me, and telling me to go on. And yes, yes, after 11 years of being married to the man, I should have known he was not really angry at me, but frustrated and angered by not being able to do what he wanted to do. But, instead I took his last words to heart, and let my emotions get the best of me. And in doing so, rather than stopping for a few extra minutes to talk things through like I should have, I took off to continue my run, angry that he was angry with me. I didn't realize it at the time, but he ended up walking home. Sigh. I like to think of myself as a pretty good person, who makes mostly rational decisions, but today, I let my emotions take control when I should have known better, and in doing so, left my poor hubby to walk back home on his own. I really hate it when I don't do the right thing. And I feel really badly that Ryan ended up walking home alone. It was not what I intended. I guess the lesson is that I always have something to learn, and I should always work to be a better person. Hopefully I'll make a better decision next time around. Sorry Ryan.

After we parted ways, I revised my route and headed out to the dump, came back on the powerlines and took the back road into Highland Green. From there, I ran down along the river on the Cathance Trails and back home. The river was beautiful today. Along some of the flat, mellow sections, the river had frozen over, and all was peaceful. Then, just a few turns away, the water was raging over the rocks, flowing over the frozen rocks. Ice was built up along the banks and there were a few sections of frozen foam too, which was sort of neat. I had two neat bird sightings - in the woods near the dump, a Pileated Woodpecker flew across the trail to a nearby tree; and as I ran along the Highland Green road, a Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead. Other than that, the woods were quiet. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Six in the Commons

No job is perfect. And while I really wish I didn't have to work Saturdays at the gallery, I do realize that I am lucky to essentially have a part-time schedule for the first three months of the year. Today marked the start of my reduced gallery schedule for 2012 - hurray!

I did a bunch of errands this morning after dropping Sam off at daycare and then headed over to the Commons for a mellow 6 mile run. It was cold. And windy. While my core got warm as I ran along, my ears and face and hands stayed cold pretty much the whole time. Brrr! Not even the woods could help me hide from the wind today! But the skies were blue, the trails were quiet, and there wasn't much ice to contend with, so I'll say it was a successful run!

Once my run was done, I made myself pancakes for lunch (yum!) and spent the last few hours working on paperwork, paying bills, etc. While I'd love to say the two extra days off a week I do get over the next few months will be spent lounging around eating bon bons and doing a whole lot of relaxing, there is always always something to do, and I somehow think I'll always end the day saying, 'What? You mean my 8 hours are up?!' :-) But I'm not complaining, I promise.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quick

Got in a quick 3 miles this morning around 8am. It felt like spring - in the low 40s, and bright and sunny. What is up with this weather?! I, however, did not wear shorts! Sorry, Jim :-) Not much of import to be said about the 26 minutes I was out there. I did feel a bit tired, as if my body was saying 'Hey, you've now run 6 days in a row. What's up with that?' Running so many days in a row, even though they haven't been huge days, isn't something I do regularly, and it just felt like it was catching up with me this morning. Only two days in the year and I'm pondering a zero day! Aie :-)

While the run was neither good nor bad, the best part of the day so far has been this afternoon, while sitting and watching the birds at the feeder with Sam. She had finished her lunch and was having a little snack when she passed the baggie of cereal to me, and said, "I ready for nigh-nigh now." And just like that, she was up in her crib for naptime and fast asleep. LOVE IT!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

An Icy Start to 2012 & Race Ponderings

I met up with Val and Rick at Bradbury this morning for a New Year's Day run. The parking lot was empty, and completely covered with ice, when I arrived a few minutes before 9am. In fact, everything was ice-covered! We decided to hit the east side on 'Mindy's loop' and hope for the best. Val took the lead, and we tiptoed along the ice-encrusted trail, trying to avoid the extra slippery rocks and roots. I think it took us 30 minutes to run the first 2 miles!

Luckily, after a bit, with the sun rising and the temps warming, and just the changing trail as we ran along, we were able to pick things up a bit, but not much! It was slow-going for sure, but a great morning to be out. The sky was blue, there was no breeze, the woods sparkled as the sun hit the ice, and I was in good company. It was fun to catch  up, and we chatted away as we ran along, leaving footprints in the leaves as our screw shoes kicked up bits of ice. In the last few miles, things were melting steadily and the trail was nice and tacky. We ended up with 8 miles in 1:48, and came back to find the parking lot filled with cars! I guess others had decided that going to the Brad was a good way to start off the New Year too :-)

Val and Rick had to run a few errands before a friend arrived, so we went our separate ways, and I met Ryan and Sam at the Fresh Batch for lunch. A good way to start 2012 for sure!

~

2012 Race Ponderings

Now that we are into the New Year, and into my quiet season at work, I have a few extra days a week to play with - hurray!! I've decided that I'm going to use those days to get in some good miles, along with do some organizing up in the loft getting Ryan's office set up. I'm hopeful that I can get in some quality long runs over the next few months, with the idea of doing the 50 miler at Pineland in May. I don't think I'll sign up yet, just in case, but that is what I am going to be shooting for with my training. I've been pondering a 50 for a while now, but the timing needed to be right. While training long through the winter will have its drawbacks, it should allow me to get in most of my long runs during the week when Sam is at daycare and I am not at work. That way I won't have to sacrifice too many of our Sundays - the one day we are all together - or run too much on Mondays, when I have Sam at home with me and Ryan is working. I am hopeful it will work out OK. I guess we'll see how it goes :-)

So, the 50 miler is my big goal. Other than that, I am signed up for Ryan's Bradbury Snowshoe series, and my new Dion snowshoes have been ordered! That should be an adventure :-) Hopefully we'll get some snow soon! I'll also be running the Mid-Winter Classic 10 miler in early February. I think with those four races, that will be more than enough racing for the winter.

Summer racing will likely be limited to the Bradbury Trail Running series, and then I'm pondering whether I want to try running the Maine Marathon in October, or if I'd want to go back and run Pisgah again. Or maybe Stonecat. Or a combination of the above :-) Again, I guess we'll just have to see how the year progresses, but it's always fun to look at race calendars and scheme!

Mostly, I'm looking forward to a good year of running and spending time on the trails!