Saturday, February 28, 2015

Beautiful, if Soft and Slow

OK, so I did actually get out of bed at 4:30 am this morning thinking I was going to run. But it was -7 and you know, I'm kind of over running in those temps, so I just fed the cats and climbed back into bed instead :) Dedicated, right?! Ryan headed off for the Brad to mark the course while Sam and I headed to the Y for swimming, and to Frosty's afterward of course :) Then it was home to bake cookies and cupcakes for tomorrow's race.

By the time Ryan got home around 1:00 pm, the sun was high in the bright blue sky and temps were in the mid 20s. Perfect. Since I was going to have a chance to run in daylight again, I thought I'd head over to the Cathance for a snowshoe run. The snowmobile trails could wait until tomorrow morning, when they would likely be a better choice, with much firmer surface and less crowded than on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon anyway.

I ended up having to park at the hiker parking lot along the back dirt (mud) road instead of at the Ecology center lot, and so started up the hill and connected to the Heath trail. I ran into a group of older women snowshoeing, who said, "My, you're athletic!" and then a small group of skiers, one of who looked at me incredulously and said, "You are actually running on those snowshoes?" Ha. I honestly haven't been doing a lot of running where I have had the chance to run into anyone on the trails so I got a big kick out of these comments. I think of myself as normal, but maybe not so much? :)

Then it was across the street and down along the river. The trails have all seen a lot of use, but things were still amazingly soft and I slipped off the thin ribbon of packed stuff more than a few times into the fluff and did some good sliding around. Overall, it was fairly slow going but I wasn't actively pushing the pace either, more just trying to enjoy the woods and get in some miles. Many deer tracks out there and some pileated woodpecker signs too. I stopped at the little rock outcropping before turning up from the river in the hopes of seeing the mink prints again, but no luck.

Heading up from the river to the field, I ran into a pair snowshoeing. Again, it was another, "You're running? In showshoes?!" ;)

I wanted to get in an hour/5 miles of running, so I turned left to run the Ravine Loop and then crossed the bridge to the trail out of Head of Tides. Not quite as much traffic this way and definitely some good slipping going on on the sidehill, but it really was just so pretty out there. I turned around at the Blueberry Trail junction and headed back to the car, ending up with 5 miles on the nose. What a beautiful afternoon to be out!



Friday, February 27, 2015

Pretty Darn Great

I know I am pretty darn lucky to have (most) Fridays off to run, get stuff done, volunteer in Sam's classroom and do the things that don't get done the rest of the week, etc. And today, I was even luckier to be able to spend 3+ hours out on the trails at Bradbury, running 18 miles. And even better, in screwshoes! Hurray.

Ryan was nice enough to hang with Sam this morning so I could get an early start, so I hit the trails a few minutes after 7:00 am. It was in the single digits but no wind and the sun was out, so it really was pretty comfortable once my hands warmed up (which took about a mile). I had on one of Ryan's vests over my hydration pack so the hose wouldn't freeze and it worked pretty well, except that with my big gloves it was tough to access the hose and my gels. I headed out onto the snowmobile trail, enjoying the dry snow crunching underneath my feet. It was decent running, although a little more churned up than I would have liked, which meant I had to work a bit harder than I would have liked too. The trails and the woods were quiet, although I did see a lot of deer activity and some great turkey prints out in the corn fields. It was there that I was also scared half to death by a pair of black labs (presumably the ones Val knows) who were friendly but who I really didn't want running with me. After a few minutes of standing still, they turned back around and I continued on to the powerlines. I ran for a few minutes along the lines themselves, but I most certainly do not know the Beautiful Loop well enough to even think about wanting to run it solo, so I turned around when the Garmin beeped 5 miles and headed back to the park.

Back at the parking lot, I stopped at the aid station (car) to change my shirt, hat and gloves (sweaty and getting cold because of it) and have a snack before continuing on. Although the snowmobile trail was nice, I wasn't digging it enough to do another out-and-back, so I decided to try out the mountain side. And I am very happy I did - it was great running over there! I ran up the Ski Trail and the Northern Loop trail to the summit, stopping at the top to take in the sparkling light on the ocean in the distance, then took the Boundary Trail. Now, I do not have much love for the Boundary Trail, but I have to say that today, it was awesome. It was perfectly packed and I was running it in the opposite direction we normally would, which meant it was mostly downhill and I was just having so much fun.

I saw that the Connector was well tracked, so decided, what the heck. Lovely out there as usual. I was surprised to find that, near the junction with the Tryon trails, the trail was groomed and the grooming continued both up the mountain toward the Feldspar Quarry and down toward Lawrence Road. Since I've never gone right at the junction before, once again, I said, what the heck. Well, this was not a stretch friendly to wildlife recently. It appeared that the groomer had run over a skunk :( and then right past the Quarry, there was a full, fairly new, deer carcass in the middle of the trail. I'm assuming it had been dragged out into the open, but I did not wish to get close enough to find out for sure. And of course, right then, my Garmin beeped, as it does every half hour, which means "time to eat!" HA! Yes, such good timing ;) If the carcass hadn't been there, I probably would have continued on the groomed trail just to check it out, but instead, I turned around and headed down the hill to the road.

The sun was shining, the trail was groomed and I had more miles to run, so I headed up the trail to the field, where I did a small loop following the groomer tracks and then back to Lawrence, retracing my steps back to the park. There, I turned left on the Boundary trail and then up the Northern Loop Trail to go back up to the summit. At the top, I saw two snowshoers, the first people I had seen on the west side of the park. Since the Boundary Trail was so much fun the first time around, and it would bring me back to the parking lot with 18 miles run, I decided to do another loop. I was certainly feeling the time and miles a bit more the second time around, but I stand by my thought that it was indeed an awesome trail to run today.


Saw the snowshoers finishing up their hike, and the older gentleman said to the woman, "1:02, not bad!" I made some small talk with them, and he said, "So what? You were out for 25 minutes or so? How'd you get back so fast?" I laughed, and said, "Well, actually, I hate to say this, but I've been out for over three hours," to which, he signed and said, "Well, that doesn't make me feel so good about our hour!" HA! :) Ended up with 18 miles in 3:20 moving time (3:34 total time), and very happy indeed. Hard to beat a beautiful morning spent running in the woods!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snowy Roads

More snow yesterday. Once again I just didn't feel like putting on my snowshoes. I know, I know, I should be embracing it. This is the winter for snowshoeing without a doubt. But I am pining for dirt, so the thought of many more snowshoe runs to come sometimes just gets to me. I headed out a few minutes before 6:00 am as a light snow was falling. There were about 3" of fluffy stuff on the ground. The powerlines were soft, but Highland Green Road was in decent shape. They are working on the end of the dirt road section, so I couldn't do the loop and just stuck with the out and back. Nothing fancy, nothing fast, just another 5 miles added into the mileage bucket :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This....

...might just be my favorite picture of the winter so far...


I do wonder sometimes what Sam thinks of us. All this running and racing. And then I realize, well, it's all she knows. It's normal in her book. And then I think, oh boy, well she's in for it :) She just doesn't realize how crazy we probably are. Ha! But I love it. I love that she wants to do these things. That she is excited to run a race, to volunteer at an aid station, to make cookies and treats for the winners, that she understands (at least a little) why it is important that Mommy and Daddy get out for their runs and skis and snowshoes, that she wants to go outside when it is cold and the wind is whipping and can last for an hour (or longer!) on the sledding hill on a frigid day, that I can see the joy in her face as she runs down the trail and tromps in the snow on her snowshoes in the Cathance. I know we might not be exposing her to the more typical team sports out there, but I do hope that we are exposing her to what will become a lifetime love of nature and the outdoors; that she is learning that running and skiing and snowshoeing out in the woods can be a powerful and wonderful way to connect with yourself and your friends and the world around you; that she can learn that being out there, maybe not as the fastest, but just doing it, is the most important.

[As for running today, no way. Temps were -20 this morning. I'll be back at it tomorrow.]

Monday, February 23, 2015

Uninspired

I so so so so did not want to run this morning. But the weather was calling for intense cold and windchill overnight tonight into tomorrow morning, so chances of actually getting out tomorrow looked slim to none. Reluctantly, I decide to swap my rest day today for tomorrow, which meant that I was out the door this morning, snowshoes in hand, at 6:00 am. I ran out and back on the snowmobile trails to Lovers Lane, and about the only good things I can say about the run are that I got out there, it wasn't cold and I only needed my headlamp for the first few minutes. Otherwise, it was a very low energy slog on soft, newly rolled snow, which only heightened my lack of umph out there. But hey, it can't all be feel good, fast days and I know I will certainly appreciate being able to sleep in tomorrow!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sam's First Snowshoe Race!

I was up early this morning to get my run in before we headed up to Waterville for Ryan and Sam's snowshoe races. We got about 4" of fluffy snow overnight, but I really didn't have it in me to take out the snowshoes again after yesterday's long run. However, I really should have, because, honestly, the run wasn't great. The powerlines were soft and slow; and the roads were essentially unpowed. In fact, the best part of the run was the back dirt road portion of Highland Green as it was packed solid underneath just a few inches of snow - someone had been out in a big truck sometime overnight and there were good tracks for running. But I suppose if what I was after was a run on tired legs, I got it :) 7 miles in 1:20.

We headed up to Waterville around 7:30. The drive wasn't bad, and with the fluffy, but wet, snow sticking to the trees along the way, it was very pretty. The Quarry Snowshoe Shuffle was being held at the Quarry Road Recreation Area, near Colby. It was a beautiful morning for it. Warm and no wind. The Fun Run was first, so Sam and I suited up and got set next to the four other kids and one mom who were taking part. The route was a little lollypop, with the beginning and end on groomed trail and the middle on narrow, partially packed singletrack. Sam did a great job running the groomed stuff, and we kept up a good clip walking along the singletrack. The 0.5 mile lollypop took us 15 minutes. Not bad for a 5-year old! She was very proud to get her medal at the end :) and then had a great time playing out in the snow with the other kids while the adults were out running the 5k.

It was truly lovely to be able to spend so much time outside playing in the snow and not be freezing! I could take these winter days!

Ryan and Sean both had good races, with Ryan coming in 2nd and Sean 4th. Gines did a great job with the course and the prizes, and we all had a lot of fun. We met up with him and his family for lunch in downtown Waterville after the race to round out the morning.

Ready to run!

Sam and Daddy

Movin' on the groomers

Singletrack

Coming into the finish!

Quarry Snowshoe Shuffle ready to roll

And they're off!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mockingbird FatAss Snowshoe Run

This morning was the 6th annual Mockingbird Lane Fat Ass at Val and Rick and Linda's. I missed a few of them due to work, but did make it over there last year and it was a great time. Of course, Last year involved a whole lot of sunshine, warmth and a big, slushy stream crossing. This year was bright and sunny too, but conditions couldn't have been more different. It was -7 at the start and the stream crossing? You didn't even realize it was there, it was covered with so much snow! But on the other hand, it was another great day for a long run with friends!

I drove over with John, Laurie and Tom, enjoying catching up with them in the car, and then chatting with others as we all put off to the very last minute going outside and suiting up in our snowshoes. Yes, snowshoes were pretty much mandatory. There were a few who went without, but based on the slipping, sliding, postholing tracks I saw, I'm not sure they were the wisest ;)

The "loop" was more like an out-and-back Y. There was a bit of lovely singletrack through the woods at the beginning, then out on a soft section through the field to connect up to the snowmobile track, then back across the street for another out and back on more snowmobile trail. Conditions were pretty decent, and the first loop went by a little too quickly. It took a few miles for my hands and feet to warm up but after that I remained fairly comfortable for the rest of the run. The first loop was spent leapfrogging and talking with Joe, Laurie, Bob, Tom and John. We got back to the house in a little under an hour. I ran in to remove my buff and change into lighter gloves, and when I got back out, Emma was suited up to run, so we headed out together. It was great to run with her, and we had a good time chatting away and continued a good pace, spending a bit of time running with Blaine and others along the way. 

Although I had a few gels in the first two laps, by the end of lap #2, I was feeling hungry so I had a few cookies and some coke and ran in to go to the bathroom before heading out again. The group had gotten pretty strung out along the course at this point, and many people had moved from running to relaxing inside and eating and chatting away the afternoon. That was pretty tempting, I must say, but I knew I really needed to get in another lap so off we went. I was starting to feel the effects of 10 solid miles on snowshoes, and definitely slowed down on this lap. Thankfully Emma was there to push me along! I am sure I would have been walking otherwise!!

I finished up with 16.2 miles in a moving time of 3:30, definitely a snowshoe distance PR! And let me tell you, I was whooped  :) I went right inside to get something to eat, and sat for a while and caught up with Amy, which was great - it has been too long! Ryan and Sam arrived a while later, and then it was so long relaxation, as Sam and I got suited up to go across the street for some sledding while Ryan got in a loop of his own. Sam and I did a number of repeats up the big snowmobile trail hill on the other side of King Road, and Sam had a blast sledding down. The final run was a race between Sam on the sled and Ryan on his snowshoes. Ha! Then it was back inside to sit by the fire and talk and eat with the small group who remained. Many thanks to Linda, Val and Rick for opening their homes to us and giving us an excuse to all get together to run and hang out. We had a great time - what a fun day!

Here are a few photos, blatantly taken from Facebook ;)

Beautiful blue sky and lovely snowmobile trail

Running off into the distance

Emma and I enjoying the wooded singletrack

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fun Friday

Never managed to make it out of bed this morning for a run before Ryan went to work, so no long run today, but no matter. I'll be getting in more than enough running tomorrow to make up for it, and will plan on a shorter run on Sunday too to round out the week. Plus, I probably needed the sleep anyway. Three days in a row of early wake-ups for mid-week running is pretty good for me ;)

After Ryan left for work, Sam and I headed over to Pineland Farm. We hit the market for a snack - yum! - and then went over to their educational center for the Friday on the Farm program. It was a bit cold walking in the barn and out and around to all the buildings, but otherwise it was a great morning. Next time, we'll know to wear our snowpants :) A fun morning at the farm for sure!

Pineland in the snow

Beautiful Pineland vista


Collecting eggs

The hens seemed to think the flowers on my boots were delicious :) They kept pecking at them!

Sam and the chickens

Eggs!

Why hello there

Licks from the calves!

BLIZZARD!

Hi mama

Sam's coat just tasted SO good!



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fresh Snow

More snow last night. Probably 4" or so, all nice and fluffy. I knew I was going to be out on snowshoes for my back-to-back runs tomorrow and Saturday, so I figured I would go without this morning, although honestly, I probably should have just gone out on the snowmobile trails with them. Instead, I slogged my way across the powerlines to Highland Green Road, and although the roads weren't completely plowed, it was nice to be able to at least open up my stride for a few miles and even *gasp* run one mile at just under 9:00 pace. Ha. Just went out and back on the pavement as the back dirt road hadn't been plowed at all. Nice, moderate temps and no wind, with a bit of snow still falling throughout the run. Ended up with 4.9 for the morning.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Screwshoe Runnin'

There hasn't been much good screwshoe running this winter. Not enough snow early on, and then too much. This morning I decided I would go out without my snowshoes on the powerlines and see if it was finally good screwshoe running! There has been a fair amount of traffic out there, but the snow is still amazingly soft. It just has not completed compacted; I suppose it has simply been too cold. That being said, it was decent running and I managed 6 miles out and back on the trails in a little over an hour. It was a nice morning, cold but no wind, and once again, I hardly needed my headlamp!

Looks like more snow coming tonight/tomorrow, so the trails will need more traffic if that's the case, but perhaps I'll be able to sneak one more screwshoe run in tomorrow morning before the trails need another round of packing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Early Morning Cathance Snowshoe

OK, so yesterday morning at 5:00 am it was -3 with a "feels like -20" reading. Um, yup, I was staying inside. So this morning, when the weather app was telling me it was -5 but with no wind, I thought 'Hurray! Only -5!', put on a few extra layers and decided to stick with my planned run. Man, can you tell it's been a rough winter?! Crazy.

Conditions were so lovely out in the Cathance during our hike with Sam on Sunday, I drove over there and started my run from the ecology center lot. Snowshoes on, I ran along the nicely packed trail down to the river, and wandered along the river bank. The trail was pretty well packed in most spots, with a few softer spots and drifts. The funny thing about running along the singletrack with all that snow was that I actually had to duck for a ton of branches, which typically doesn't happen! Ha.

I got back up the parking lot with the Strava app (Left my Garmin at home. Oops! Thankful I have the Strava app installed on my phone!) telling me I had run 2.4 miles, so across the street I went. The Heath has been a popular loop, apparently! There was a nice trough to run in, except that along the right side of the Heath, the wind had scoured the landscape, making cornices and drifts in the woods, obliterating the trail in many spots. Overall, things were fairly slow going (or perhaps I was taking it slow? Ryan and John certainly managed to run faster out there tonight.) and I only ended up with 3.3 miles, but it was a solid effort on my snowshoes and a nice way to start out the week of running.

Hoping the snowmobile trails will be packed enough for a decent screwshoe run tomorrow morning!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Where's the Blizzard?

Well, that blizzard that was so hyped? Yup, never happened. We got maybe an inch of snow up here. All that was left was a whole lot of wind and cold air. I must admit, I am not unhappy to have escaped with only a dusting of new snow. We have enough, honest!

In the end, despite the fact that I could have gone for a run, I stuck with the plan to hang out with Sam and Ryan all day. We had pancakes and bacon for breakfast (Sam ate four pieces of bacon!), had a morning drawing session, talked to Neenie and Pip and Morgan via Facetime, worked on some of Sam's stretches and exercises for her right leg, and then later this afternoon, suited ourselves up in all the layers and headed over to the Cathance for a snowshoe.

Yes, it was cold and it was windy, but it was also wonderfully sunny and we were walking out in the woods, mostly protected from the wind. It was lovely out there. Nicely packed snowshoe trails surrounded by deep snow, animal tracks to look at, big piles of snow atop trees and branches, the river gurgling on our left, and even some trail to break! Sam is getting increasingly stronger and more comfortable on her snowshoes and we had a lot of fun. No one else was out there and we had the trails to ourselves. We stayed out for about 1 1/4 hours and snowshoed 1.25 miles. It was a great way to end a nice day together.

Morning drawing session: Flora. Sam decided we should start with the Canada Yew.

Afternoon sunlight

Cookie break!

Relaxing on the bench which is covered in snow!

Pretty woods

Sam and Ryan snowshoeing

Long shadows

 Our return route took us back on a short stretch of trail that had not been broken out. Sam decided she would break trail for us, and when I asked her how it was, she said, "This is easy!" She is one tough cookie :)

video




Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Happenings

Busy day today. I was up early so I could get in a run before Ryan headed out to the Brad for the day. The sky was already turning a deep pink along the horizon as I headed out on the powerlines to Highland Green Road at 5:55 am. The snowmobile trail is not quite solid enough for just screwshoes and a lot of snow has drifted into the track. It's not a fast first mile. It is cold out. The snow crunches beneath my feet and the buff around my nose and mouth begins to freeze. I run the Highland Green loop backwards, as the last time I was out, they had blocked off the loop at the start of the dirt road. I want to check it out. The back road is perfect screwshoe running. They have moved the pile of dirt and tires, so I am able to continue the loop without any bushwacking. Back at the powerlines, the sunrise is looking mighty fine. Streaks of pink, gold and purple fill the sky. I realize I talk about the sky almost every time I am out running in the morning, but honestly, these sunrises, they keep me motivated. Sometimes getting up and out so early is rough, but I do love these quiet morning runs highlighted by the sun rising. There is a peacefulness and beauty to be found at sunrise that is hard to beat.

I walk in the door and Ryan laughs. My eyelashes are frozen! :) I head right up to the shower to warm up. Brrr!

Ryan takes off soon after to spend the day at the Brad, marking the course, running the course, getting everything set up for the race and racing himself. Oh and somewhere in there, maybe eating lunch?!

In the meantime, Sam and I go to swimming, hit Frosty's for donuts with Anne and Kristen, go to the farmer's market and pick up the soup for the race. We come home for some lunch and a bit of downtime before heading over to Bradbury just as a light snow begins to fall.

We hang out at registration for a bit, and then of course, Sam wants to play on the playground. The snow is deep and, well, the slides are not quite as fast when buried in deep snow :)


We head over to watch the start of the race. Ryan has somehow left his gloves in the car. Good thing he's the race director! ;) I run back to get them for him.

Racers take off, and Sam and I head to the car for a snack and to get warm. A half hour later we're back at the finish, making snow angels in the snow with Erik, waiting for the racers to come in. We help Erik with the numbers, and cheer everyone on as they cross the finish line. Sam is doing well but starts to get cold, and we have to head to the car after a mini cold kid meltdown. We regroup to join the crew at the pavilion for awards and head home soon after, all tuckered out.

Ryan arrives home a bit later, exhausted from a really long day. He does a great job with these snowshoe races and everyone always has a great time, but today was extra rough on him, and it is always a bit hard when he is gone all day. I am glad we will all be able to chill out together tomorrow as the blizzard rages. With no races to put on and no runs to be done, things should be much more relaxing!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Long Snowshoe

With another blizzard rolling in on Sunday, Ryan made the call to change Sunday's snowshoe race to Saturday. So, my weekend running plans kind of got shot to hell. Still, what I really wanted was to be able to get in a long run today and then get in a short early morning run tomorrow morning, especially since I didn't get out on Monday or Thursday. This would allow me to just do nothing on Sunday except hang out with Ryan and Sam while the snow falls, and still have gotten in four days of running. Not ideal, but hey, sometimes you just go with what you got.

But since I had to drop Sam off at school this morning and get a few things crossed off the list before heading up to the gallery for noon, the best time to actually do said run was this morning at 5:00 am. And, given the conditions, I chose to make the morning run a snowshoe run. Which means that since I wanted to go long, I was planning to run for 2 hours, or the amount of time 14 miles on the roads in good conditions might take me. Yes, I have officially crossed the line into stupid, err dedicated, err crazy.

Now, I am a morning person, but 5:00 am as a start time is damn early when it isn't a race. I managed to get out the door by 5:10, and man, it was pitch black out there. For a long while, it was just me, a small patch of snow-covered trail at my feet, wafts of light snow and my breath in the headlamp. Talk about a narrow view! I ran out to Lover's Lane and back to the foot of the hill. From there, I headed further out on the powerlines, and took a left to run the back of the dump loop. That stretch is normally one of my favorites, but sadly, not many snowmobilers had been out that way, and man, it was slow going for a few miles until I hit the long straight-away at the far end of Lover's Lane. I took the path out to the pond at the edge of the dump and was greeted with a view of the sunrise above the pond and fields. I ran the lollypop out in the woods beyond the dump and was able to turn off my headlamp and enjoy the soft morning light on the trails coated with a few inches of fresh powder. The crescent moon hung in the sky, and the sun was rising through the snow-covered evergreens. It really was gorgeous.


I ran back along Lover's Lane and then retraced my steps back home, stopping atop the hill before Rt. 24 to take in the view of the orange orb of the sun rising above the treeline, the sky streaked with pink and purple and gold.


I had worked up quite a sweat throughout all the miles, and after my photo-op, I really did start to get cold. Still, it was a lovely morning without much wind and I stayed comfortable for the majority of my run. I ended up with 10 miles in a moving time of 2:00:09, about which I am pretty darn happy. And hey, you know, running all that time in snowshoes really wasn't all that bad! Now, that's what I call crazy ;)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sunrise Snowshoe

Say what you will about social media, but it does offer up good trail condition beta every so often :) And for that I am thankful! Saw that John and Michael K. had been out snowshoeing on the powerlines last night, breaking trail, but that several snowmobilers had come through as they were finishing up. That was enough for me - it would be a snowshoeing morning today!

I realize I have said that snowshoeing is not my favorite, but the reality is that with all the snow we've received the past few weeks, the road running is kind of stinky right now and not many trails are packed enough to travel without snowshoes. So if I want to be able to get out off the two "safe" road routes I can run from home, I need my snowshoes for the time being! I was actually excited to have the chance to get out on the snowmobile trail out toward Lover's Lane. I haven't traveled out that way for a while, and although these trails are essentially flat (with only a few steep hills), they are good running and I have always enjoyed being out on them.

John and Michael's intel held up - the trails were nicely packed and good snowshoe running. A bit slower than the Snowmobile Trail at the Brad, but still pretty nice. I ran along, watching the sky lighten. My favorite part of the run out to Lover's Lane has always been the small stretch between Bay Park and Lover's Lane - the trail is a bit more narrow and winds through some woods. This morning, there was a soft light spreading through the woods and the evergreens along the edge of the trail were covered with snow. Very pretty.

As I crested the top of the hill before Highland Green Road on the return, I stopped to take in the sunrise behind me. Gorgeous. The sunrises definitely make all these early morning runs worth it!

A good 5 miles in a little less than an hour to start the day.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Messy

Snow continued to fall throughout the day yesterday, making for a messy commute home and even messier roads. I wasn't sure what I'd find when I headed out this morning, and honestly it wasn't great. I chose to stick to running around the high school and Patriot Commons as I knew it would likely be the quietest, safest road route. There had been no snowmobile tracks along the powerlines so that was out. Got in a sloppy 4 miles on a cold morning to start the day. Lovely moon hanging in the light blue sky as the sky lightened toward the end of the run.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Raw Eight

As long as the weather wasn't too bad, the plan was to head to Portland to help celebrate little Emma's 2nd birthday mid-morning, so in order to get in my run, I was up and out around 6:15. It was snowing and the wind was blowing as I headed across the street. My plan wasn't really a plan, but it did include not running down the Connector in the dark and in the snow, so I was really happy to see that the roller had been out overnight and rolled the snowmobile trail. This made the powerline running fairly solid. The snow was still a little soft, but I stayed mostly on the surface.

Highland Green Road wasn't plowed, and the back dirt portion was blocked off with a big pile of tires/dirt, so I ran out and back on the road through the 2+ inches of powder. I took a small detour to see if the Heath was runnable, but sadly it was not, despite the fact that it looked so nicely packed by the snowshoers. Darn. When I got back to the powerlines, I ran down to Topsham Crossing and back. The roller had gone straight down over the steepest part of the hill - it was a lot of fun to slide down but not as much fun to climb back up :)

By the time I was heading back, the sky was finally lightening. There was no sunrise per say, but there was a glowing soft light on the bank of trees and the wonderful quiet that always seems to come with an early morning run through the softly falling snow. All this crazy snow and cold weather put a bit of a damper on this week's mileage, but there is always beauty to be found out there as long as I am willing to pick my head up, stop my complaining and take a look ;)

I ran back along the very wind-swept high school road. The wind was picking up and my face was pretty cold. I added on another mile around the neighborhood to round things out to 8 miles for the morning. I probably should have run farther as I didn't get in the long run this weekend as I had hoped, but honestly, I was more than happy to come inside, take a warm shower and have a good hot cup of coffee instead.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Tale of Two Runs... and a Hike

I set out this morning to Bradbury in the hopes of doing the Beautiful Loop. I really was hoping for a long run on the trails. I was a bit nervous about conditions, as although the suspicion was that the snowmobile trails out that way would have received way more traffic than those around here, it was still hard to know how packed they would be. It has been so cold and there has been so much snow that the snow isn't really packing. It is still very light and loose, pretty much everywhere. I almost didn't bring my snowshoes, but in a last minute change of heart decided to throw them into the car too.

And of course, the first words out of Jamie's mouth are, "Beautiful Loop? On snowshoes?" Apparently, word on the street had it that snowshoes are needed, especially way out beyond the snowmobile trails that lead to the powerlines. While I am fairly confident I could have kept up (at least mostly :) ) with everyone on a normal day in good screwshoe conditions, I realized there is likely no way I am going to be able to run 15 miles on my snowshoes nor keep up with the fast crew that is assembling. But what the heck, I put on my snowshoes and we cross the street. I'll at least give it a try. And about three steps down the Link, they are gone. Damn. Well, that lasted long! HA! Sometimes it is just not so easy to try to keep up with the boys :)

For a while I tried to keep them in my sights, but then I realized I was going to have a much better run if I just settled into my own pace and enjoyed what really was a beautiful morning out in the woods. The sky was blue, there was no wind, the evergreens were topped with snow, the snowmobile trail was in pretty good shape and I was making fairly decent time. At mile 2 I had to stop and stuff my hydration hose into my jacket - the hose had frozen up in the cold weather despite my blowing air into it and filling it with hot water. Then I continued on until the 2nd road crossing at 3 miles and turned around. Sure, I could have kept going, but I haven't been out much on my snowshoes this season and I figured I'd be happier to finish up a strong 6 miles than to struggle through more. So back the way I came. Ended up with 6.2 miles in 1:06.

I knew Ryan and Sam wouldn't be coming over for a while, so I stopped quickly at the car to remove my snowshoes and my pack, grab a swig of water and have a gel, and then I went back out for a few more miles. But this time onto the road ;) Rt. 9 was pretty clear, and it was nice to just be in regular shoes with no screws and to not have a lot of crap to deal with at the side of the road. I ran out and back for a total of 4 miles.

Although I had intended to get in more miles this morning, in the end, I think it all worked out pretty well as I was able to join Ryan and Sam for a snowshoe hike in the park. By the time we headed out, it has warmed up significantly and it truly was lovely in the woods. We headed up the past the Quarry, wandering on a packed trail up through woods we don't normally wander through until we hit the Switchback and then the summit. Our return trip is via the Summit Trail. What a gorgeous morning to be out on the trails and in the snow! Sam did a great job, and it was a great hour outside together!









Thursday, February 5, 2015

Too Much!

OK, I will say it. I like the idea of snowshoeing and really love a good snowshoe hike. But, honestly, snowshoe running is not my favorite activity. I'm sure it is good strength work and I probably need it, but this morning it felt like torture. I went out in the falling snow this morning and ran across the street (very carefully and with my vest and headlamp on) and strapped on my snowshoes at the edge of the Mt. A. bus lot.

There were a few snowmobile tracks so I was hopeful. But then I started running... and it was so soft... with several inches of new snow on top. Slow goin' for sure! Then it was even slower when I attempted to run up Mt. A. There was a thin ribbon of broken trail - one snowmobile track with Ryan's ski tracks on top. It wasn't well packed and I kept sliding off of semi-packed portion and into the deep powder. Even with some hiking mixed it, it was not super duper. I ran along the top of the hill, down through the woods and out to the field, where did a loop before returning the way I had come.

I ended up with 3.1 miles (only 2.5 of snowshoeing) in 46 minutes. I think I'm going to have to go with the effort/time on feet over distance theory today :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Too Much Snow?

Ryan would say no way, but I'm really tempted to say that right now there is just too much fluffy snow out there. The fact that 40+ inches have fallen in the past week means that there is just no where to put the stuff, the streets are still a mess, and the piles are huge. Plus, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to plowing through that much fresh snow! I want to get out on the trails but I'd prefer them to be at least partially packed :) I know, I am asking too much!

Really, I'm not complaining - it is winter and we do live in Maine - but this morning as I was slogging through that lovely dark greyish brown mush that develops on the road in the days after a storm, I was thinking I was going to go a bit insane if I didn't get off the pavement soon. Of course, it has been my choice to run the roads, but it honestly has really been the only choice if I wanted to run from home recently. But, tomorrow... snowshoe run, not roads! And this weekend, a long trail run as long as the weather holds!

All this being said, I feel pretty good about the running I have managed recently. It hasn't been easy getting in the miles but I've done it. The miles might be mostly flat and mostly on pavement, but they are miles, and at this point, consistency and just getting in a good base is key.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Age Group

Perfect conversation to describe how important birthdays are around here...

We're looking at several of the birthday cards I received from family members, one of which is from my mom, upon which she has taken the time to draw 40 candles around the birthday cake (too many to put on the cake, for sure!).

Ryan: "Mommy is going to be 40 tomorrow! Isn't that old?"

Sam: "Mom, do you feel old?"

Me: "Nope, I feel young at heart!"

Sam: "Daddy, do you feel old?"

Ryan: "Yup, I feel old."

Sam: "Hmmm, so Mommy, you are small and you feel young. And Daddy, you are tall and you feel old."

Makes perfect sense to me :) HA!

Seriously, I didn't feel any different this morning when I woke up, except to remember that 40 always used to seem old! Funny how your perspective shifts when you are in a different time/place in your life :)

I didn't have the time to run 40 miles today, so instead, I suited up and ran a nice four miles around the neighborhood. With all the snow we received, the pavement had the perfect layer of snow on top for screwshoes, and it was cold enough and the snow dry enough, that the white stuff crunched beneath my feet the entire run as the sky lightened and the sun rose. A good way to start any day!

These days, there's really no need for birthday fuss but it is always nice to hear from family and friends. I do love that portion of the birthday day! Oh, and the excuse to go out to dinner and eat a big cone full of gelato :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bike Path x2

I love that Brunswick has the bike path. It is an awesome resource for the community, and it gets a ton of use between walkers, bikers, dog walkers, runners, etc. However, just because it is a great thing does not meant that I love running on it ;) In fact, it is a complete last resort. When I am running on the bike path, you know things are bad and it is my only option.

With all the snow we received this week, it was decided that the bike path was the safest place for me to get in my run yesterday. So, I shoveled the car out and was out the door around 7:00 am, with the intent of getting in my 16 miles. Oh, and it was cold and extremely windy. Oh yes, it was going to be wonderful (insert heavy sarcasm here)! I realize that going in with a bad frame of mind is a good way to sabotage a run, but let's face the facts here, that's just how I was feeling.

So, can you guess where this is going? I was miserable. I was freezing. It was d*nm windy! I got in 6 miles by extending the run a ways out onto Old Bath Road, but I bailed when I got back to the car. I was not in a good head space and there was just no way I was going to finish this run. Why torture myself? So, I came home, got cleaned up and went to Frosty's with Sam and Ryan for donuts instead :) Ah, much better!

However, this still left 16 miles of unfinished business, so can you guess where I was this morning? Right. At the bike path. It was cold, only 1 degree, but the wind was negligible so overall, it felt warmer than yesterday. As I drove to the bike path, the sun was rising, a bright orange orb rising above the trees, turning the smoke from the chimneys a light pink and tinging the snow along the river with a golden glow. I felt much better headed out today, and was determined to get in the miles. I really want to stay on top of the long runs this training cycle, and that meant this one needed to get done.

I extended the "out" a fair amount by running 1.5 miles along Old Bath Road. It was early on Sunday morning so there was no traffic and the road had been cleared enough that it was decent running, even in the still slightly sloppy shoulder. Then, hedging my bets (I know myself), when I got back to the 1.5 mile marker along the bike path, I turned around and ran back up to the 2.5 mile marker. This would mean I had run 10 miles by the time I got back to the beginning of the path, giving me just one more out and back along the path to get my 16. I'm glad I did it this way, because by the time I reached the turn-around point on Old Bath Road at mile 13, the wind was beginning to whip and it was a bit of a miserable slog back to the car. I wanted to push the pace to get it over with, but there was simply no turn-over to do so.

I don't feel like I started out too fast - probably 8:45 pace overall for the first 10 miles - but with the slightly sloppy road miles, the flat, unchanging composition of the route, the pavement and the wind in the final miles, I definitely slowed down at the end, and didn't exactly get in a "fast" run on a route that might normally allow for such. Given the above components, I'm not sure today's run truly had much value other than the fact I got out and there and got it done. I'm hoping that counts for something anyway :)

16.0 miles - 2:21:50.