Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Run and Hike (and Swim and Bike)

Today was an active day for the Snowplug clan. I was up and out the door at 5:50 am for a run on the Snowplug loop. It was a beautifully quiet morning to be out in the woods. Scared up a deer by Barnes Leap, listened to the rushing water, and enjoyed the bunchberries, ladyslippers, starflowers, blue bead lilies out along the trail. Got in a nice, fairly quick 6 miles and got home before everyone woke up. Then it was Ryan's turn to run  and he headed over to Bradbury while Sam and I hit the road to the Y for Sam's swim lessons. After swimming, Sam and Anne had some fun on the gymnastic equipment, bouncing and jumping around on the mats and walking on the balance beam.

My parents headed this way after lunch and we decided to take advantage of the blue skies to head over to the Cathance for a nice hike. Sam did great hiking, and we all had a really good time. Along with flowers, we saw a snake, a Phoebe, a porcupine (!) and two frogs.

Sam leading the way

Painted trillium


Yeehaw! We love nature tracking!

Sam and Daddy along the river (Sam with her collecting bag)

Hands in the air!

Sam with Neenie and Pippi

Blue bead lilies


Gotta touch the water


Then after we came home and had a snack, we went back out so Sam could ride her bike for a while before dinner. Phew! An active, and fun, Saturday :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Midweek Running

Life's been busy in our house, and I'm in taper mode, so the running hasn't been all that exciting :-) Got in a soggy 3 miles yesterday on a cold, raw, misty and rainy morning. Brrr. And brrr again this morning too! I headed out at 5:50 am and it was only 41 degrees out! Crazy. I even sheepishly donned my tights. That is just too cold for shorts if it isn't race day! I ran down to the river and back for a nice 5 miler, enjoying the lush green woods and the accent of the white starflowers and bunchberries, the magenta fringed polygala and the light pink of the ladyslippers against all the greenery. I could hear the river long before I reached its banks; I stopped for a moment before turning back uphill to watch the water churn and tumble as a light mist rose into the air. Beautiful morning to be out.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Funday

Ryan convinced me to not set the alarm this morning for my run, but Ronnie woke me up anyway :-) Since we weren't in a rush this morning, I quietly padded downstairs at 6:30 and spent an hour or so at the computer, drinking coffee and catching up on a few things. Sam didn't wake up until after 8:00 am, at which point I decided if I was going to run, I should probably get going :-) Got in a mellow 4 miles around the Heath.

Upon our return, cupcakes were made, and then we headed off to meet John for brunch at Broadway Deli. Yum! Then it was off again, this time to Wolfes Neck Farm to meet up with Mom, Dad, Morgan and Kristen. It was sprinkling a bit when we arrived, but eventually the rain abated and we wandered around saying hi to the animals. I particularly enjoyed listening to the joyful chattering of the Bobolinks, and watching them flit to and fro in the fields. Such wacky, interesting birds.

Picking clovers


Fun at the farm


Happy Sam

Feeding the horses

After a bit of farm wandering, we headed down to Haraseeket Lunch for a late lunch/early dinner to celebrate Mom's birthday a few weeks early. Oh, the fried scallops were delicious! Sam, on the other hand, decided she LOVED steamers (dipped in a lot of butter of course :) ) and found that she liked lobster too. Who is this kid?! Very proud of her for trying out some new foods, and finding something new that she likes. Hurray!


Steamer down


A great way to celebrate Neenie's birthday a few weeks early! Happy Birthday Mom! We love you :-)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bradbury and Pineland

Dropped Sam off at Kristen's this morning so I could get in a run and get up to Pineland to hang out and cheer for a bit. I stopped at Bradbury to run, but wasn't feeling super motivated. I headed out on the east side, just keeping the pace mellow. Was surprised to see a fair number of jack in the pulpits along Lanzo, but also sad to see more poison ivy along that stretch than I've ever noticed before. Got in a good 6 miles and then headed over to check in on the action at Pineland. Fun to see so many friends out running, and running well, and great to sit with the Trail Monsters and catch up for a bit. Always nice to have a chance to cheer racers on from the sidelines - Pineland is such a great race for that! Lots of fun!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Head of Tides

The plan for today called for us watching Sam's friend Anne this morning so that Phil could run the canicross at Pineland with Quint, and Kristen could run the 10k. That meant getting to Pineland around 9:30 am. So in order to get in my run beforehand, I was up early, so early in fact that as I sat down with my coffee and breakfast I caught a glimpse of a fox out back, likely the one who has been calling/barking up along the fenceline the past few weeks. Our eyes locked for a few seconds before he took off. I took off myself around 5:45 am, setting out for Head of Tides. It was a nice morning, but overcast and very humid. The river was very pretty, the water spilling over the rocks, the riverbanks lined with bright green moss and ferns. I spotted many more wildflowers blooming this time out in the woods than two weeks ago. Purple violets, white swamp violets, gold thread, several blooming ladyslippers, blue bead lilies, wood anemone, starflowers, bunchberry and some beautiful magenta fringed polygala.

Fringed polygala from today's run
The final slope down to the parking lot at Head of Tides was covered with lily of the valley. It's going to smell beautiful there in a week or so when all the flowers are out! The edge of the grassy area was awash in blue forget-me-nots. I stopped for a moment there, and watched a Great Blue Heron soar gracefully over the water before getting back on the trail for the return trip. As I rounded the Heath on the way back, I noticed that the rhodora were in bloom - the swamp was awash in magenta blossoms. Saw a few cala lilies blooming in the swampy area too.

Ended up with a nice 12 miles, and got back home just after Sam and Ryan rolled out of bed. Perfect! Then it was off for Pineland for a fun morning of watching the racers and dogs, and chatting with friends.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Our Little Graduate

Sam, all her friends, and her teachers have been working really hard this month on today's graduation ceremony. There has been a lot of practicing during daycare, a lot of singing her graduation quietly at home so we can't quite hear the lyrics, and a lot of talk about how exciting this day is. OK, so it is totally over the top to celebrate a preschool graduation with caps and gowns and Pomp and Circumstance playing as they walk down the aisle, but it is also just darn cute, and really, we are very proud of what she's accomplished this year and the little person she is becoming. Congrats, Samantha! We love you :-)

On the running front, got in a nice, uneventful four miles this morning before work and the rest of the day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

You Just Never Know

Didn't get up yesterday morning to run, so I headed out around 6:15 pm once Ryan got home for a short 3-miler. Ran the short Highland Green loop backwards, and as I was cresting the hill near the turn to the powerlines, a guy on an ATV crossed the street. At the edge of the sidewalk, he stopped and sat and looked down the road at me. As I got closer, he slowly drove off up the trail, but still looking at me. It was just creepy, and there was no way I was going to turn onto that trail behind him. So, I ran the Connector back instead, staying as far off the edge of the road as I could. Ugh. This reminded me that I really need to run in the mornings. The troublemakers just aren't up and out at 6:00 am!

Of course, what did I do this morning but ignore the alarm and go back to sleep. Sigh. So, after taking Sam to the doctor for a hurting ear (ear infection #2 of the year), working for a few hours, and then getting a few errands done, I headed out for a run around 2:30 pm. I planned to run the Snowplug loop, but as I neared the Quarry, I could see a few guys at the edge of the quarry with two cars at the "trailhead," one of them with a bunch of beer cans on the back of the truck bed. I dislike that I sometimes feel the need to alter my runs because of other people, but I also don't like heading into a situation that might cause trouble when it can be avoided. So I sighed, turned around and took the road to the cart path to the Heath. As I was heading away from the Quarry, a guy was running towards me. We said hi and I had a fleeting idea to ask him if he was running by the quarry and if so, could I join him. Then I realized I was totally being biased, and asking a random runner to run with him wasn't much better than running by those three guys at the quarry. So off I continued on my alternate route.

As I was headed down to Barnes Leap, I saw the runner guy again. We said hello, and he asked me if there was a bridge across the river. I stopped and explained that well, there used to be, but no longer, and I had heard you could cross the river when it was low and get up to the old road and get in some good running on it, but had never done so myself. He looked at me and said, "Are you Danielle?" Ha. It was Matt Lunt. He said, "Actually, I was trying to find the bridge Ryan had been talking about in one of his posts." Ah, he was looking for the new bridge that crossed the stream on the way out to Head of Tides. I explained that the bridge was at the opposite end of the trail system, but if he wanted to follow me, I could get him most of the way there. It was fun to have company as we ran along the river, and soon enough we were at the field, where I sent him on my way, and continued on back up to the dirt road and home. Got in a nice 6 miles in 57:42. Meant to run slower, but somehow being in the lead along the river when I knew a fast guy was following me made me pick up the pace :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Happenings

Ryan's plan was to run long today, so I got up at 5:45 and was out the door an hour later for my run. Hardly slept last night, and was hungry, so needed some time to eat breakfast, stretch and roll, etc etc. During the first mile my legs felt incredibly creaky, but then things loosened up quickly, the pace picked up and I felt pretty decent the rest of the way. I ran the cart paths and then went out onto the powerlines for the second part of the run, following same route as last Thursday's run. Saw one ladyslipper, lots of wood anemone, goldthread, a few rhodora blooming, starflowers, and blue bead lilies along the way, plus one hawk (unidentified), two Common Yellowthroats and one Yellow-rumped Warbler in the brush along the powerlines. Got in a solid 10 miles, and am happy to have had a successful back-to-back weekend. Now for a few weeks of lower mileage, and then bring on the 50!

Spent the rest of the day "relaxing" - planting flowers with Sam, having her friend Anne over for some bike riding and playtime, and going out to dinner. A good way to end the weekend!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Androscoggin Riverlands Run

Since Ryan had the chance to run his long run last weekend with friends, the plan was for me to get my chance this weekend. I figured there would likely be a group at Pineland, but I am not so in love with Pineland that I really wanted to run 26 miles there. Instead, I emailed Mindy and Val to see what there plans were and to ask if I could tag along. They very nicely said yes, and told me they were planning to run long at Androscoggin Riverlands State Park. I remembered seeing some photos of the trails there from some time ago, and thought it would be fun to have a new place to explore. I eagerly said yes. Now all I had to do was get myself there ;-)

Luckily, although the drive took me wandering out through the countryside to Turner, I didn't have any trouble finding the parking lot. What I did find was a lot of rain :-) Yup, my idea of fun - go and run in the rain for 26 miles. Sometimes I do question my choices ;) But what can be better than a run in a new place with friends, even if things are a bit soggy? With Mindy and Val came Tim, Xar and Disa, and her pup Axel. We all suited up and headed out. The run was a 10-mile out-and-back on a wide gravel snowmobile trail along the Androscoggin River. The first four miles were very runnable, and quite hilly. The trail meandered through the winds, with a big stretch along the river. As it was raining, there wasn't much to see; we were dodging puddles and stomping through mud, and chatting the whole way. At the 5 mile mark, Disa, Axel and Xar headed back, and the four of us continued on. It was here that the trail got a bit less firm, more muddy and more rocky. There were a few hills, both up and down, that needed to be walked due to mud slide conditions. There were a few deep stream and puddle crossing, and a lot of stream in the trail too :-) Around mile 7, we reached the park boundary, but continued on the same main snowmobile corridor as it traversed working woodlands, hugged gleaming green pastures, passed a lion statue, and old car and a rusting fire truck randomly out in the woods, and took us through a maze of blue tubing for maple sugaring. Right before the turn-around at a big road, on the final downhill, I managed to do a rather snazzy long slide in the mud, and somehow managed to perhaps even gracefully catch myself with my hand and pop right back up. There was a lot of twisting and sliding going on, but I managed to stay upright for the rest of the miles.

On the way back, Tim and I got ahead of Mindy and Val, and just kept on going. The pace crept up ever so slowly, especially in the final four miles back to the car as we reached the much more packed and runnable stretch. We reached the parking lot at 19.5 miles, stopped quickly to grab something to eat, and realized we weren't going to be able to stand around in the wind and mist for much longer. Brrr! So off we went, back up the hill. It was really nice to have Tim to keep pace with! At 22.8 miles, we turned around, and right before 24 miles, we ran into Mindy and Val. Tim hooked back up with them and I said my goodbyes and continued back to the parking lot. Those last two miles seemed long. I was hungry and getting a bit tired, but I was glad to look at the data and see that I didn't slow much. I got back to the car at 26.2 miles and 5:19. Strava had my moving time at 4:56, which seems like a lot of time spent not moving, but certainly is possible. We did make a fair amount of stops to reconnect as a group, take potty breaks, etc. Either way, it was a great soggy, hilly, muddy, sloppy marathon out in the rain with friends on some new trails. I'll call that a win, for sure!

Flora and fauna notes: On a gray day like today, the greens just seemed all the more brilliant. There was one stretch of deep, wet woods, where the greening leaves of the beech trees seemed almost neon. They were practically shimmering. Very cool. Lots of ground cover, including a lot of false lily of the valley, several large red trillium and a few painted trillium, what I think was likely dwarf ginseng, bluets, violets, wood anemone, Indian wild cucumber, some bluebead lily starting to flower, and a large number of jack in the pulpits, which was pretty cool, as I don't normally see those. On the fauna front, heard some good frog croaking and a few geese honking along the river, saw two red-spotted newts, and four turkeys running through one of the fields we passed. Also saw a few warblers, one of which looked like a Black & White, but I didn't get quite a good enough view. Pretty good day in the woods :-)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Morning and Afternoon

6:00 am run yesterday around the block, with the additional cart path/Heath/Quarry loop added in. I had originally intended to run hills, because I realize that is probably what my training has been lacking in regard to the TARC 50, but you know, what I'm really hoping for is to make it through another 50 mile week this week without getting hurt or overtired, and as I haven't been doing any real workouts like speed or hills the past few months, why start now? So, I ran a "speedy" (I'm talking the last two miles in low 8:00s here, people ;) ) 4 miles instead.

Today, I worked until noon, ran a few errands, then came home and cleaned the house, plus washed the downstairs windows inside and out, which definitely needed it! Then at 3:00 pm, I rushed out of the house for my run. I ran a slightly modified Snowplug loop. It was warm out - whew! Up to 70! - so I brought my handheld. Did I really need it? Probably not, but I figure staying hydrated can't hurt. I tried to keep the pace fairly steady but enjoyable, but those singletrack miles just don't come quickly. I also did take some time to enjoy the woods, which are slowly but surely greening up. Saw a lot of trailing arbutus, wild oats, wood anemone, purple and white violets, ferns, false lily of the valley, plus one ladyslipper not quite in bloom, the first painted trillium of the season (yah!) and a Black & White Warbler  - very cool! Made me very happy. Got in a nice 6 miles for the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Commons and Coleman Farm

Headed out to run the Commons and Coleman Farm again this afternoon. A bit cooler and more blustery today than on Sunday, but just as sunny and lovely out on the trails. Saw goldthread, wild oats, trout lilies, purple and white violets, a few patches of trailing arbutus, starflowers (no flowers yet), wood anemone and lily of the valley along the way. Saddened to not see any trillium, and surprised to only see a few ladyslipper leaves poking through. Hopefully the ladyslippers will come out soon. Scared up a pair of Great Blue Herons in the salt marsh along the Coleman Farm trails, saw one little chipmunk along the trail, and noted a number of turtles sunning themselves in the ponds out by Meadowbrook. Got in a nice 8 miles.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekend Fun

Ryan was up in Acadia this weekend with some of the Trail Monster crew, so it was just Sam and I. We went to swimming yesterday morning, followed by Frosty's of course, and then headed down to Kristen and Morgan's after lunch. The weather hadn't looked very promising when we left, but the skies had cleared by the time the girls had done a bike lap around the neighborhood, so we loaded up the car and headed over to Macworth Island. Everyone else must have had the same idea as the lot was full, but we got lucky and someone pulled out just a few minutes after we arrived.

We spent some time on the beach, with the girls gathering shells and Sam getting stuck in the mud, and then we walked the perimeter trail around the island, stopping fairly often for snacks, to look at flowers, pick up walking sticks, build fairyhouses, etc. Sam did a great job walking around all by herself and we had a lot of fun. We followed up the walk with an early dinner at Bueno Loco, complete with big margaritas for Kristen and I. Yum!

Collecting shells on the beach

About to get stuck in the mud

Groovin' on the shoreline

Walking around the island

Just one of the many trout lilies in bloom

This morning, we got up and headed once again to Frosty's for donuts. Hey, it's Mother's Day! I can have a donut for the second day in a row, right?! ;) (Actually, make that three out of the past four days. Ha!) Then, with the sun shining and the temps in the 60s, we drove out to Wolfe's Neck State Park for our first visit this year. We arrived around 9:30 am, early enough to find Tami finishing up her duties cleaning up the restrooms :-) It was fun to see her and catch up a bit before we headed out on the trails down to the water. It was the height of high tide, so our regular beach spot was covered with water, so we went on a bit of an adventure, scrambling along the rock ledges a ways back along the shore to a small spit of beach tucked out of sight. We hung out there for a bit, exploring, sticking our toes in the ocean, watching one of the osprey come in  to roost in the tall pine tree at the edge of the island with a fish in his talons, collecting some shells and enjoying a beautiful morning at one of our favorite places. Then we headed over to the farm to see the animals, including a new Belted Galloway calf and a cute little brown goat kid, before returning home for lunch.

Me and the kiddo

Wolfes Neck view

Getting ready to collect shells

This water is really cold!

After Ryan got home this afternoon, I headed out for my own Mother's Day adventure, running the Commons and Coleman Farm on a hot (70 degrees!) afternoon. I wasn't feeling the peppiest given the time of day and the heat, but it is always lovely to be out in those woods, especially on a sunny day. A few lady slipper and blue bead lily leaves unfurling in the Commons, but otherwise, still just a lot of greenery. The Pennelville fields are greening too, and the woods out along the ocean in Coleman Farm are simply awash in a carpet of trout lilies, along with some purple violets, wood anemone and ferns. On the return, as I came out of the woods onto the edge of the farm property, the daffodils were almost sparkling in the sunlight at the edge of the pond. Such a pretty sight. Got in a nice 7.5 miles before heading home for dinner.  

Trout lily-lined trail

Sun-drenched woods

Spring splendor at Coleman Farm