Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Look Back

When I think back over this year, I see a year filled with friends and family and a growing girl who makes us laugh and smile (and exasperates us too). There were many good runs, camping trips and outdoor adventures with Sam, and fun with grandparents and cousins. Life may not be all rainbows and candy but it sure is good.

I also see a year with big change, and chances taken. In May, after 7 years at the gallery, I took a deep breath and jumped. And I couldn't be happier. My work change opened up a whole new world filled with weekends off and the opportunity for flexible scheduling. It truly has been wonderful, and was the right thing to do. Then later in the summer, Ryan changed jobs too. Yes, never a dull moment around here ;)

I also took a deep breath and entered the world of the ultrarunning lottery. I threw my name into the pot for the Stonecat 50. I figured the lottery would take the pressure off of actually having to make the decision myself. Ha! And lo and behold, my name was picked. I was running a 50!

I was a bit intimidated by the training that went into running the 50 and I certainly didn't follow the training plan to a T, but when it came time for the race itself, I felt nervous but ready. I felt steady the whole way and I am still darn proud of how the race went. I definitely had some mediocre races earlier in the year, so the 50 put a big smile on my face and made the year a running success.

I'm hoping to continue the trend of taking chances as we head into 2014. I haven't signed up yet, but I have my sights on the Maine Coast Marathon for the spring. Thinking about another marathon scares me (this pretty much sums it up), but sometimes it's good to step outside your comfort zone. No one ever accomplished much just sitting at home on the couch ;-)

2013 Miles Run - 1557.75

It's unlike me to let the year end on an odd note, but somehow the minutia of mileage slipped away from me this time around. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, or if it's just a symptom of the cut-back I've had these past few months in mileage and in thinking seriously about my running. But regardless, this is the most miles I've run in many years, and hopefully it's a sign of good things to come.

Here's to a 2014 filled with many miles and smiles and much goofiness :-)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Around the Block

Ran out of both time and energy today, so all that I managed was a sloppy (and slow) three miles around the block on the roads. I ran past the powerlines on the high school loop and was surprised to see that the snow remained unbroken, even at 3:15 pm in the afternoon after a snowstorm. I really hope the snowmobilers get out there soon! I think with the ice beneath and the mix of rain and snow, there should be a good base for some solid running if the sleds get out to pack things down.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cathance and Sledding

Our final "stay at home" day ended up being a pretty busy one, but it sure was nice to be at home. Sam slept in until around 7:45am, which was great, and once Ryan was up, I suited up and headed out for my run. I have been in a bit of a rut, although much of it self-imposed, with my running lately, and I really wanted to get in a solid double digit run. Of course, I was shooting for 10, so nothing crazy :-) I decided I would run out in the Cathance, hopeful that others had been out the past few days to tromp down the snow we received on Thursday, and thinking that with the extra coating of snow the surface wouldn't be so slick. The powerlines still weren't great - one or two sleds had been out so the surface was a bit churned up and definitely tackier than it has been, but the sleds hadn't been enough to break through all the ankle-busters beneath so I still had to tread fairly cautiously. But the singletrack trails were in good shape. The running out there was the best it has been in weeks, and some of the ice had come off the trees too, meaning there weren't quite as many trees to duck under and around. The snow had stuck to the trees, making it look like a winter wonderland, temps were mild and the woods were quiet. I had a lovely time out tramping around on the trails, and got in a good 10 miles. A great way to start the morning and to reinvigorate my running!

Cool ice along the river

Neat ice flows

Later in the afternoon, Sam's friend Anne came over for some playtime and we went outside to sled on the hill out back. A few of the neighborhood kids were out enjoying the snow too. The top coating of snow was nice and tacky, but underneath it was still all that lovely abrasive ice. Still, the girls did great and had a lot of fun.


Getting a ride to the hill

Love the expression :-)

Sam takes a ride with Phil - I think he's much more apprehensive than she is :-)

Of course, as is inevitable, Sam took a spill from the sled on the second-to-last run. She cut her face up (very superficial) and has a good bit of road rash, but after a bit of crying, she got up and took one last fun run. In fact, she said, "Give me a big push, Daddy, so I can go fast!" That's my girl!

Sledding 'road' rash

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Other Brad Plus a Bit of Fun

I didn't sleep last night, we didn't get out of the house this morning as early as I would have liked, and Ryan was feeling all sinus-stuffy. Neither of us were in the best mood, and unfortunately our run at the other Brad didn't help much. Conditions were not good. There had been a lot of traffic on the loop but things weren't well packed or consistent. The surface was frozen solid with ankle-busting unevenness throughout. There was just no good path. On the singletrack in the woods - my favorite section - it was solid ice with a thin dusting of snow on top - not ideal. Plus the lighting was flat, which made all the unevenness hard to discern. Blah. We decided to stop at one loop. So much for a long run. 

But, the good thing is that Sam had fun with Grammie and Grampie while we were gone, grooving to country music (Dana's favorite), coloring and playing games. 

Coloring with Grampie

And after lunch, she and I went out into the backyard to play in the snow for a bit before we headed north. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it had warmed up into the 40s. It was actually the perfect weather to be playing out in the snow as it wasn't too cold, and the snow was nice and tacky. We ran around out back, looking at the deer, bunny and squirrel prints, tromped into the woods a bit, ran up and down the slope, and then at the end, she rolled down the hill a few times. It was quite hysterical. I wish I had had my camera with me. We had a great time and she got some good fresh air and exercise - perfect. 

Then we headed back to Maine, stopping at Kristen's for cake and ice cream in celebration of Morgan's 8th birthday. Happy Birthday Morgan! So, despite a so-so run, it ended up being a really nice day!

Morgan, Susie, Lillie and Sam

The birthday girl

Kristen and Morgan

Sam and Lillie

Rob, Kristen and Morgan

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas #2 and #3

[Or, if you're talking about present exchanges, it's really #3 and #4, as Sam and Morgan exchanged gifts on Christmas afternoon...]

Mom and Dad came over yesterday morning to exchange presents and hang out for lunch before we headed south. Sam was probably more excited just to help everyone get their presents open than to actually get her gifts! Ha.

It snowed on and off for most of the day but we thought it wouldn't be too bad. Unfortunately, it was really messy out on the roads with a lot of traffic. What usually takes us 1:35 took us 2:15 and poor Ryan was white-knuckle driving for a lot of it. Ugh. Luckily, Sam was mostly amused by the IPad in the back seat, with only a few "When are we going to get there?"s thrown in! She was exhausted by the time we got to Irene and Dana's from all the excitement of the past few days, and actually managed to sleep in until 7:45 this morning!

Of course, she was going to be our alarm clock so we could get out for a run together before Ryan and Dana went to pick Phyllis and Ted up, but well, that didn't happen. I did manage to get out for a rather sloppy 5 miles on the Weldon Farm Loop while Irene and Sam got the table set and all the presents arranged under the tree, so it worked out OK for me in the end at least :-)

The rest of the day we spent hanging out, opening presents and eating. Sam once again helped everyone open up their presents, and of course, helped Dana get all the trash put away.

Sam and the tree

Sam decided that what Great Grammie really needed was one of her paper plates :-) 
Best gift of the day!

Relaxing in the midst of present opening

Grammie and Sam's ornament

Sam playing with her new marble run

Christmas dinner

Only one more Christmas to go - Christmas #4 next weekend with Meghan, Chris and Gavin!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Along the River and Through the Woods...

6:13 am - "Mama! Mama! Mama!"
6:15 am - "Sam, it's really early. Let's get into our bed and cuddle for a bit."
6:17 am - "Mama, is it time to get up yet?"
6:18 am, 6:19 am, 6:22 am - "Daddy, it's time to get up! Are you getting up?"
6:30 am - "Wow! There are so many presents!"
7:00 am - "Is that it? Are those all the presents?"

Yes, Merry Christmas indeed! ;)

We had a lovely morning playing with new toys and hanging out, punctuated only every so often with "When are we going to Morgan's?"

Sam playing with her new "castle", as she calls it

Luckily, John came over to run with Ryan and then to eat pancakes with us, so we had a very good distraction! Sam loves John, and John very nicely oohed and aahed at every little piece of Sam's dollhouse. What a good soul!

After pancakes, the temperature had risen to a balmy 14 degrees so I suited up and headed out for my run. I ran down to the river like yesterday, but took the powerlines to the road and then ran the road up to the Heath. From there, I ran along the river for a longer stretch than yesterday, enjoying the crisp air, the sparkling ice-covered trees, the roaring river and the blue skies above. It really was lovely. Got in 6.5 miles in less time than yesterday, probably from a combination of less postholing, a bit more road and the fact that Ryan actually superglued all my new screws into my shoes this morning. Those babies were not coming out! Much better traction, for sure!

Ice-covered birch buds

The Cathance

Shimmering light

Icy Heath

When I got back, I found Sam decked out in Hello Kitty gear, including the shimmering sequined Hello Kitty shoes she received for Christmas. My little goofball!

Goofy girl

We rounded out the day with a nice Christmas afternoon and dinner at Kristen's with my parents, my aunt Susie and cousin Lillie. Sam fell asleep on the way home and was out like a light the second we put her into bed. I'd call this a good Christmas indeed :-)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Festivities

Something about the holidays (and traveling) always makes me a bit nutty. I get frantic. I love being with everyone but all the shopping and logistics and everything else just make me feel a bit crazy. We were planning to have everyone (my parents, my sister, Rob and Morgan) to dinner tonight, and even though it wasn't a big deal, it was a big deal in my head. But of course, in the end, we got everything done on time, in good order, and we both even got in our runs! And really, it all turned out perfectly - dinner was great, the kids were great and we had a really good time. If I could only calm down the racing thoughts in my head ;) Ah, the holidays!

After some gingerbread baking this morning, I headed out for my run. I wasn't sure what the run would bring. We were fairly lucky here in Topsham - yes, things are icy, but we never lost power and I know the ice wasn't as thick as elsewhere. Still, it was looking a little iffy out there. But I was determined to have a good run. Plus, I really needed it ;) I decided to head to the river, thinking the trails would be safer than the roads, if only because there would be no cars! Where there had been no tracks, it was rough going. A layer of abrasive ice on top of now snowcone-like snow. Ouch - my ankles! Once I hit the xc ski trails in the woods, it was better but the packed snow was darn slick. By the quarry, ugh! Forgot running, I was walking. I almost gave up at the Heath and headed to the road until I saw a gloriously packed snowshoe path. Hurray!

The best running of the day around the Heath and out into the Cathance trails. I felt good, the woods were strangely beautiful with the ice-covered trees, and the running was decent, if still icy. Of course, I was averaging 13 minute miles :-) Lots of ducking under and skirting around trees too. Poor trees - hope it warms up soon so they can shed their icy layer! Back along the Heath, I decided to head out to the road instead of backtrack along the Quarry. The road was good running - the ice was tacky and mostly covered with sand. I took the powerlines in the last part of the run, which was a mistake. Talk about ankle busters!

Got in 6 miles of icy, crunchy fun. AND, lost a dozen screws! Wow. That is some seriously abrasive ice! Guess it didn't help that I am using the same shoes for a second season so we had to put in a second round of screws this season. Might have to use some superglue to hold them in for tomorrow's run!

Later in the day when everyone arrived, Sam and Morgan got to work decorating gingerbread cookies. Kept them occupied for quite a while - and oh so cute :-) Of course, not sure any of us would want to actually eat the decorated cookies - there was a lot of sprinkles and sugar being used! - but hey, it's the thought that counts!

Cute decorators :-)


Finished product

The decorator at work

Sam and Pippi

Then after everyone left, Sam collapsed in bed and we headed back downstairs to bring Christmas to life, or drive Ryan crazy putting together the dollhouse. You know, either or :-)

Payback for all those nights his parents spent putting toys together for him ;)

But it all looks great! Hope that Sam loves it! And yes, we did get her the perfect soft little bunny stuffy too! 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sam Got Hold of My Camera

Sam took control of my IPhone tonight and spent about a half hour running around the house taking photos. 124 photos later... :-) I got rid of some of the duds, but couldn't resist keeping a few dozen. Ha. Love looking at the world from her angle! (All photos by Sam unless otherwise noted.)

(Photo by me)

(Photo by me)

In running news, it was pretty nasty out there today. I went out around 8:30 am. There was stinging rain hitting my face and glare ice and cold slush at my feet. The trails weren't good and neither were the roads. I ran the short Highland Green loop, which had a bit of both, and was happy to get back inside after 3 slushy, sloppy, icy, cold miles. Hopefully the rest of the week will be a bit better weather and running-wise!