Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Connector Fun

Met up with Amy early this morning for a run out on the Connector. No sunrise this morning due to overcast skies, but a lovely subdued palette on view between the white snow, brown brush and pale sky nonetheless. Warm and windless, and quiet on the trails, aside from the crunch of the snow beneath our feet and our chatter :) A good 6 miles to kick off the day!


...a bit of extra sleep this morning, followed by a few cups of coffee and a bit of quiet before Sam woke up. Ryan went up to get her and when she came downstairs, she ran to me with a big smile for a hug. What's not to love?

....watching Sam swim like a fish in the water at her lesson, waving her little waves at me every once in a while to ensure I was watching.

...a bit of music at the indoor farmer's market, the kids munching bagels, the vibe happy and cheery in a winter Saturday. 

...knowing Ryan was out snowshoe racing, perhaps his favorite kind of racing ever :) Glad we can make it work for him to get a few races in each winter and that he is healthy enough to do it! 

...reading books with Sam while we eat lunch.

...a late afternoon run down along the river, the snow tacky beneath my feet, the river flowing, snow stuck to the trees, the woods quiet, my body happy and feeling good. 

...sitting by the heater with Ronnie at my side, eating a snack and catching up on the world while Sam plays contentedly upstairs. early dinner out with my two favorite people, doing silly drawing games at the table and having a relaxing evening together.

A good Saturday indeed. 

Friday, January 29, 2016


Despite the fact that I normally think of myself as a morning runner, I have been failing at that title a lot recently. Didn't sleep well on Tuesday night so never made it out of bed early enough for a run on Wednesday before work. I decided I would make up for it with a run during Sam's swim class, so I hit the treadmill at the Y. Not my most favorite way to get a run in, that's for sure, but it works and it serves me right for not getting up and out in the morning ;) Started around 8:50 pace and cranked it up every 1/2 mile, finishing up with 1 mile at 7:53 pace and then a 1/4 mile cooldown to get in 4 miles in 33:30. Managed to just barely stop sweating before I had to pick Sam up at the pool ;)

Today I headed out after dropping Sam off at school. A bit of a dreary morning, with a little bit of snow and rain spitting down on me throughout the run, but thankfully it didn't become anything worse than that. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to find out on the trails with the warm weather we've been having, but I decided to head out into the Cathance to check things out. Things were nice and compacted up and over Mt. A. and along the golf course, with the singletrack around the Heath a bit of a mess due to someone who had been out in the warm weather postholing the trail. When those footprints freeze again, it really makes things rough going! Across the street, I ran down the Barnes Leap trail, which was wonderfully compacted by skiers, snowshoers and fat bikes; the rest of the way along the river was a mixed bag in terms of conditions, for the most part the singletrack was compacted but not nice and smooth. Still, decent all things considered.

When I got up into the field, I turned left and ran the Ravine Loop, which had seen less traffic and was a little rougher going, then I headed back through the woods, around the Heath, back on the golf course and up Mt. A. again before heading out on the snowmobile trail. The snowmobile trail was nicely compacted too, but in the spots where people had been walking, it was rough on the ankles, and there were a number of icy stretches too. Still, faster than it has been.

All in all, a good run, and happy to have gotten it in. Aerobically, I wasn't taxing myself at all, but my legs were definitely a bit tired from the uneven ground and the fact that this is only the second time I've been out for more than 2 hours since TARC :) Got in 13.6 for the day, and now it's time to get ready to volunteer in Sam's classroom!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Beautiful Sky

We appear to be in a bit of a thaw this week, or at least the first few days. It was in the high 20s when I went out for my run yesterday morning - I was completely overdressed. I took the snowmobile trail up and over Mt. A. and then ran out along the groomed golf cart path on hole #3. Things were pretty soft until I hit the packed trails along the Heath, at which point there had been enough traffic to make the trails pretty nice running. I ran down along the river, enjoying the singletrack. By the time I was climbing the hill up to the field near mile 4 along the route, the sky was lightening and I was able to turn off my headlamp. Gorgeous sunrise this morning. I kept stopping along the way to take photos - it was just too beautiful not to!

Through the trees

Beautiful sunrise

Love the periwinkle clouds!

I ran back via the back road, which was down to frozen dirt, and then out on Canam. Got in 5.9 miles on a truly beautiful morning. Glad to have gotten out!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunny Sunday

Today was the first race in the 2016 Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series. Sam had a bit of a rough morning being woken up first by Ronnie yowling in the hallway and then by Ryan going in and out of the house a half a dozen times carrying things to the car, but turned it around in time to make it over to the park around 10:00 am. It was a bright, sunny and cold morning, but it is always good to catch up with people and see everyone excited for the race. With 91 racers, it was a great field!

Squall start. Photo by: Dirigo Endurance, LLC.

Sam and I were manning the finish line - it was a busy but fun assignment that kept us occupied. We had a new registration/awards area right near the finish line this time, and I think a lot more people hung around after, which was really nice! After awards were given and everything was cleaned up, Sam and I headed over to Edna & Lucy's for lunch; we were joined a little later by Ryan, John and Damon, and we all had a good time chatting. 

By the time we got home it was around 2:30, but it had warmed up considerably, so leaving Ryan and Sam to watch the game and work on the results, I headed out for my own run of the day. I chose to wear my screwshoes, which was a fine decision for the singletrack around the Heath and down along the river, which had been packed nicely, but which made for slow going on the loose snowmobile trail and the soft groomed ski trails along the backside of Mt. A. and the golf course. I've never been a huge fan of the late afternoon run - I am just so much happier running in the mornings - but, it was a gorgeous afternoon and I was glad to be able to get out. Finished up the week with 34.5 miles, 4th 30+ mile week in a row, so progress! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Daylight Running

Met up with Maureen yesterday at the Brad for a run. Originally it was supposed to be Val and Mindy too, but both had to cancel in the end, which is too bad as it would have been great to catch up. Oh well, another time! But it ended up working out really well in the end, as Maureen and I had a fun run on a lovely, chilly, windy morning. We decided to hit the snowmobile trails and found them in good shape and easy to run on - hurray! The miles ticked by easily and quickly as we chatted away and kept up a good pace. We seemed to be pretty evenly matched pacewise, which was nice - of course, Maureen is almost 20 years older than me - wow! I hope I am as strong as she is at almost 60 years old!

We ran until my watch beeped 5 miles, which got us about 1/4 mile out onto the powerlines, and made our way back to the park. The trails were very quiet - no snowmobiles, and only one other person out there, a man snowshoeing out in the corn field. I noticed a lot of deer prints as well as some turkey prints along the edge of the field, but no sign of the bone that Amy and Val had seen the day before - someone/something must have dragged it off into the woods. All in all, a really nice 10 mile run with a friend, and very happy to finish up feeling strong and energetic!

I hardly slept last night - sigh - so I didn't get up when the alarm went off and tried to get a bit more rest instead. I took Sam to her swim lessons and to the indoor farmer's market while Ryan was at the Brad course marking and getting in his run, and then after he got home, I headed out for my own run. Of course, I had just had a huge bowl of leftover chicken pot pie - hmmm, perhaps not the wisest decision, in retrospect - but I knew if I didn't get going, I might not actually get myself out the door! It was overcast, cold and windy. Brrr! I did the same snowmobile trail loop around Lover's Lane that I had done the other morning. A bit slower today due to wind, full stomach and more churned up trail, but regardless, glad to get in the miles.

While I was gone, Ryan and Sam worked on race numbers, and then once I got back, we got the race prizes baked up. Another busy Saturday!

Hard at work... 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Fun

Sam and I had Monday off, as school was closed for MLK Day. Amy invited us over to their house, and we made a day of it. Will and Sam played really well together, we brought donuts (of course ;)), Amy and I had the chance to catch up while the kids played inside, and then while the kids made colored snow out on the deck, the two of us took a short snowshoe trek out into the woods and around the house. Snow fell the whole time we were there - big white flakes - but luckily by the time we left 5 hours later (!!), the roads were much better than on the drive over. Much fun was had!

Sam had fun playing Batgirl for the afternoon!

Snowy trek around the yard on our snowshoes

I neglected to actually get up on Tuesday when the alarm went off. In my defense it was darn cold and windy but really, I was just being lazy. Sigh. So Wednesday, there was nothing to do but get up when the alarm sounded and get ready to head out. It takes me a while some days to actually get out of the house but I did manage to get out at 5:50, only 5 minutes after I had hoped. It was dark, cold and windy but temps were nearing 20 so I was plenty warm enough in all my layers. I ran with my snowshoes in hand across the street, and was happy to see that several snowmobiles had been out along the powerlines. This made the way up and over Mt A much easier! At the top, I hit the groomed ski trails down the backside and across hole #3. Soft but packed. Around the Heath and down to the river was in good shape and had seen a fair amount of traffic. By the time I was heading back on hole #3, it was just light and open enough to turn off my headlamp, and enjoy the early morning light. Sometimes it is hard to get out the door, but the vast majority of the time, I'm glad I did. What a nice way to start the day. A good 5.4 miles for the morning. 

Morning light

This morning, I got up and decided I wanted to check out the snowmobile trails. I found them in pretty good shape, with things a bit softer and more churned up between the high school and Rt. 24, but darn solid overall. From there I ran out to Lover's Lane and out along the back loop. The loop was in great shape - packed nicely by the snowmobiles and then packed down further by the fat bikes. Good running. Another cold but lovely morning. Got in 6.9 miles for the day. The sky this time of year truly is beautiful. Also saw four of the five planets before the skies lightened - very cool!

Snowmobile vista

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Snowy Sunday

Headed over to Bradbury this morning for a run, thinking I was more likely to find something slightly packed/tracked there than around here. I left the house around 7:15 and was treated to a beautiful sky on the drive over. There was only one car in the lot when I arrived - and it was Andy. He was just leaving, having finished up his hill repeats to the summit. Since I knew I'd have the trails all to myself, I figured I would head up to the summit - it was just such a pretty morning. There had definitely been some activity out to the Ski Trail which meant the trail was semi packed, but from there, it was only one set of ski tracks, so it was a bit slow going up that stretch. The light glimmering through the iced tree branches at the summit was gorgeous. The sky was a brilliant blue and there was no wind. Truly lovely.

Frosty summit

Blue skies

I retraced my steps the way I came and headed across the street. The Link had been tracked by a skier, so again, slow going, but once I hit the Snowmobile Trail, I found it tracked out by at least one machine. The snow was still soft, but I was able to pick up the pace a little bit anyway, maybe into 12:00 minute miles ;) I ran out beyond the park boundary to a little beyond the 2 mile mark on the snomo trails and turned around, as much of the low lying areas were still showing open water and/or were icy, so I had to do a fair amount of picking my way around so as to not end up wet and iced over. 

Snowmobile trail

I wanted to get in at least 8 miles, so when I got back to Lanzo along the Link, I turned and followed the ski tracks out onto the singletrack. Once again, slow going and my feet were soaked through at this point, but I was having fun and the woods were gorgeous, so I continued on to Tuttle Road and then turned back around. 

Snowy singletrack

Finished up with a few 1/10ths on the west side to get to a round 8.0 and called it a day. Nothing like snowshoeing to give you a workout! Especially the first snowshoe of the season in semi tracked, soft snow!

Frosted pigtails

When I got home, Ryan headed out himself to do some snowshoe course recon and after lunch, Sam and I got ourselves ready for our own snowshoe. Only fair that she got in some snow time today too! We headed over to the Cathance and enjoyed a wonderful hike down to the river. The day had warmed up nicely, there was no breeze, the trails were quiet, and we had a lot of fun. Of course, 0.8 miles took us 1:11 with only about 30 minutes of time spent moving, but you know :) That's hiking with a 6-year old! Walk a few steps, stop to talk about the animal tracks, walk one more step, talk to discuss the other snowshoe tracks, walk three steps, stop to eat snow, etc etc etc. Ha. We saw a lot of prints - snowshoe hare, deer, squirrel, mouse - and even saw a beaver floating (and eating, I think) in the river! We stopped and watched it for a while - very cool! Insanely beautiful out there today and happy to have the chance to enjoy it with her! As we were finishing up our hike, Sam said, "That was fun but tiring." Yup, that was the intent, kiddo :)

My leader for the afternoon

Snowshoe hare prints abounded

Sammy print :)

Through the snow

Snowy vernal pool

Happy snowshoer

Trail selfie

Ice. Photo by Sam.


Happy girl

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Busy Snowy Day

Today ended up being a pretty busy day despite the snowstorm. It had looked OK when I woke up, but as I headed out around 7:30 for my run, it started to hail and freezing rain, and a nice icy sheen had settled atop the pavement as I ran across the street. It was slow, slippery going, even with screwshoes. I decided to run over to Wicked Joe and access the groomed xc stuff from there. This was good in theory, but the groomed snow was extremely soft and not well packed, so I felt like all the energy I was expending was just sinking right into the snow and there was no real give-back. Once off the golf course, I headed out around the Heath and down to the river again, but honestly, was not enjoying myself as much as I had yesterday and things just felt slow. Ah well, they can't all be great. I ended up with 5.5 miles on a rather nasty morning.

Soon after I got home, the hail turned to snow, big white fluffy flakes. We had a TMR meeting scheduled at Frontier, with a few hardy souls braving the road conditions. Sam was really good for the 2 1/2 hours we were there, and even got a fancy drink ;) Yum!

A bit of sunshine on a snowy day

When we got home, the skies were clearing so we suited up and headed across the street for a short ski, as Sam really wanted to try out her new skis! It was a bit tricky in the ungroomed snow but we had fun!

Out skiing

Happy skiers

Making tracks


Fun skiing

As the sun sets

Post-storm vista

Of course, there was also this... you know, she had such a day, gotta relax ;)

Such a rough life ;)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Snowy Cathance

I was originally planning to get up and run at my normal hour so that in the time between dropping the car off for service after getting Sam to school and heading to Portland to see Dr. Jamie at lunchtime I could get stuff done around the house. But you know what? Running in the daylight is way more appealing than cleaning and printing things off for tax time.  So when the alarm went off at o-dark-thirty, I shut it off and went back to sleep. And then after I dropped Sam at school and the car at Lee's, I headed out for my run from there. Luckily, the car place is right across the street so it's easy to run from there and then head home, get ready and walk back across the street :)

I hit the powerlines first, following some ATV and fat bike tracks. These stopped across the street at the top of the hill, so I took the road up to the Quarry and hit the trails there. The trails went from semi-packed along the first part of the river to lightly tracked by one snowshoer along the Heath and one hiker once I took the Rapids Loop to no tracks in a few parts where the hiker had taken his own route and strayed from the trail. This made for slow going, but it was beautiful out there. The river was roaring and had flooded its banks in a few spots. There were some incredible icicles stuck to the trees along the river's banks, and a number of animal tracks - snowshoe hare, deer, mouse. I turned up onto the back dirt road and then ran back up over Mt. A., the backside of which had been groomed by the guy who grooms the fields and a few of the golf holes for xc skiing. Very soft and thin, but groomed. Ended up with a nice 6.5 miles for the morning.

Winter Heath


The roaring Cathance


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Highland Green x2

Motivation has not been super high these days which means that I didn't even manage to get out the door on Tuesday morning, a morning when the trails were clear of snow after the big rainstorm and before Tueday afternoon's snowfall. Aie. I was kind of mad at myself, but in a way it made my decision regarding VT 100 a bit easier. I've been toying with the idea of sitting down with the masses at 7:00 this coming Sunday night and signing myself up for a little while now, but I kept having the same arguments with myself (and Ryan) that I had last January when I decided against VT and went with TARC for my first 100. I just could not get my mind to commit to VT. I was not overly excited, and therefore, I just haven't garnered enough true enthusiasm to really start training.

When Ryan finally said that I should just give it up, I felt fine with it. Yup. VT just isn't for me. I want to want it, but I don't, so nope. This leaves me feeling a little bit sad, as I love the idea of a challenge and not having something big on the calendar just doesn't feel quite right, but honestly, I'm also a bit relieved. I certainly have other running goals for the year, and my plan is to continue to challenge myself in running and racing. Since I didn't quite reach 2000 miles in 2015, I'm thinking 2016 miles, while rather gimmicky perhaps, has a nice ring to it. Or maybe even more ;) Racing-wise, there is April's Grayson Highland 50k, which I'm really looking forward to, and I've signed up for TARC's new to Hale and Back 6 Hour race in March. More Hale? What's not to love ? :) But otherwise, for now, the rest of the year is open. I've been spending a little bit too much time on ultrasignup the past two days pondering what's next, but I have a feeling this will be a year without a 100 unless training really goes well this spring and something truly sparks my interest for the fall. Again, a bit sad about that, but I know I don't have to do a 100 this year. My thinking right now is to find a few "shorter" and different races in new places near home this fall, and then sign myself up for a 100 that I am really excited about next year, which will likely involve some travel and hopefully be a good adventure! 

So, with all of that out of the way, I did manage to get myself out the door yesterday morning. Things were a bit messy with 5" of new snow on the ground, a bit more snow than I anticipated. It was light and fluffy though, but still made for slow going on the powerlines. Highland Green Road had been plowed but was still a bit slick, and they hadn't plowed the back side, so I just went out and back on the pavement. It was cold and windy but I managed to at least keep the pace below 9:30 for the middle 3 miles though.

I had pondered going out on my snowshoes this morning, but honestly, I really like to run in my snowshoes when it is more packed down, so I bailed on that idea and headed out to Highland Green again. This time around, the back side was plowed so I was able to do the full loop. The powerlines might have been even slower than yesterday though, as with all the wind after the storm, the snow had drifted like crazy and it wasn't as easy to consistently run through the snow. But no problem, I wasn't going for any speed records anyway ;) Another cold morning - only 8 degrees this time - but no wind, so not bad. Decent two day "start" to the week, even if a bit late ;)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fun with Sam

After the morning's run, the rest of the day yesterday was spent inside as the rain fell and the wind howled. Several projects were completed including the ice cream science project! Not really a true kid project, but it was fun!

Shake it up!

Yummy vanilla! 

The rain melted pretty much all the snow away so this afternoon after Sam's dentist appointment, we took a short walk on the Garden Trail to check out the Labrynth in the Woods. A fun little exploration on a January afternoon!

In the Labrynth

Happy kid

Fun in the woods

Out hiking

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Rain and Fog

Amy and I had planned to meet up this morning for a run. I asked her if she would be up for 12 miles, you know, just because I wanted to see how things would feel with a few hours on the legs. Of course, the morning dawned 37 degrees, rainy, misty, foggy, just the kind of weather you do not want to run in. But with a scheduled meet-up, there was nothing to do but layer up and head out. Always good to have a friend to run with on a day you might otherwise just spend inside due to nasty weather!

 We ended up sitting in the car for a bit, waiting for the sky to lighten. Without any reflective gear on such a dreary day, we didn't want to chance it. Just after 7:00, we broke from the warmth of the car and headed off down Rt 9, turning a bit later onto Poland Range Road. The marsh lining the road was awash with the early winter hues of brown and maroons, the remaining white fluffs on the cotton sedge highlighted against the darkness of the grasses. Pretty in a quiet way.

 At the T, we turned left into Lawrence, where the road became more uneven and much icier until we hit the Big Brad course area. We took Lawrence to the end and crossed over for a short ways, but it was much too icy, even with screwshoes. Luckily, mileage was a bit more than six at this point, so we turned around and retraced our steps back to the park.

 Finished up with 12.5 miles, some good hills, some rain, mist and ice and a fun 2 hours running with a friend. Thanks, Amy! Of course we couldn't resist a chocolate chip cookie and coffee to cap off the morning before heading home :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Over These Green Hills...

"Over these green hills, blue electric sky
Always in my blood, forever in my eyes...

...Once again, we'll breathe in the view
It's part of me, part of you

 And it has to be clear
It has to be clear, inside my head"

-Part of Me, Part of You, the Finn Brothers

This song came on Pandora as I was driving over to Bradbury this morning. And if you know me, you know running is part this:

Courtesy: The Oatmeal

And part this:

Green hills, blue sky. Oh, and today, also icy rocks ;)

I run for my sanity, for my health, to escape, to explore, to breathe in the air and listen to the birds, to watch the sun rise, to feel suffering and joy, and because aside from my family and friends nothing makes me happier than being out in the woods running. 

So with the Finn Brother lyrics ringing in my head, I ran up to the summit this morning, and stopped and basked in the sun for a few minutes while taking in the view before heading back down and across the street to explore the east side. The fat tire bikers have packed down the singletrack amazingly well and there was some fine screwshoe running to be had. 

Winter light

Of course, there was also frozen mud, ice, and several open water streams and puddles to manuever around. I ran the Bruiser (minus the Island) up to the snowmobile trail and then came down that. The snowmobile trail was a bit bony, with a wide mix of packed snow, long stretches of ice plus some frozen mud and frozen waterways.. 

Variable to say the least

I came up the Knights Wood Trail and there was even a frozen waterfall for a trail in one section! All in all, I'd call it early season screwshoe conditions, even if it is January, but a fine way to spend an hour+ on a Friday morning! 

Because I was running by myself, I decided to be dorky and wear both the Garmin and the Suunto to compare while on the run. A few observations: The Garmin, while much bulkier, is much easier to read with a larger screen. The Suunto's face is much smaller, but the watch itself is more comfortable. The Garmin beeps are much louder. Not sure that is a good thing or not. The Suunto nicely uploaded my run to Strava in the car - hurray! The Suunto logged 0.08 less mileage over the 6.4 mile run. Perhaps it is more accurate? Need to figure out if I can use the interval timer as an "alarm" for my "eat something every 1/2 hour" reminder, which is something I find really useful to have on the Garmin on long runs and during long races. A work in progress, but warming up to it.

Yes, I have my hood up! It was chilly out there :)