Sunday, July 29, 2018

Weekend Fun

Up and out Saturday morning into, you guessed it, more humidity! Ran out and back on the powerlines. Lots of puddles, a deer and two fawn, a few remaining wood lilies in bloom and lots of stops to enjoy the ripe blackberries, raspberries and blueberries along the way. Overall, definitely felt a bit tired but my legs loosened up fairly easily. (6.5 miles)

Later in the morning, we picked up Sam's friend Katherine and the four of us headed out to Harpswell to spend the day with Anne and family out at the Point. Always fun and such a gorgeous spot! Although it was bright and sunny when we arrived, the fog rolled in soon after, but there was nice cool breeze and the kids had a blast exploring the shoreline and looking for hermit crabs in the tidal pool before spending the cast majority of the afternoon playing in the pool. They were all thoroughly exhausted by the time we left around 4:30, the sure sign of a great day! :) Thanks, Kristen and Phil!

This morning, Ronnie got grouchy when I wasn't out of bed at the prescribed time which meant I was out of bed by 5:30 am, but I decided to ease into the day and had an early breakfast and a big cup of coffee and sat and relaxed for a while instead of heading right out for my run. I headed out around 7:30 am into the bright sunshine. No fog but still a lot of humidity. Par for the course this week, apparently. Decided to run the Highland Green loop and worked to run a "fast" pace in the middle three miles. My mind is prone to wandering when I'm out running so I really had to focus to keep up the effort and managed, even if just barely, to speed up each mile. Didn't even stop to pick any blackberries ;) It was a good, if soggy, way to wrap up my first 40+ mile week since before Laurel Highlands! (5.0 miles)

After lunch, we got Sam up off the couch and headed back to Harpswell, this time to the Cliff Trail for a short afternoon hike. This was one of the longest hikes Sam had done back in 2015, so it was fun to go back! And it really is a nice loop, with soft pine needle singletrack underfoot, big high bush blueberries to eat, gorgeous views along Strawberry Creek and high up on the cliffs along Long Reach, and several fairy zones for building fairy houses. The humidity had dropped and there was a nice breeze, which made it actually fairly pleasant to be out! A good walk in the woods. (2.9 miles walked)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Foggy and Muggy

Well the runners lucked out at VT because once Monday hit, we've had nothing but foggy, soggy, muggy, humid weather all week! Aie.

Wednesday morning, I got out early into the fog for a soggy, humid run on the cart paths. Just kept it nice and easy. Saw a deer with three fawn, so cute, but they scared up too quickly for me to get a photo! Other than that, the highlight was finding blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to snack on during the run. Always a good thing! (6.1 miles)

This morning, I headed over to Bradbury for a long run. Incredibly foggy and humid yet again, and the rocks, roots and bridges were slick and slippery from yesterday's rain. Ran out onto the west side, following the new BBU course but found the powerline grasses way too tall and potentially itchy and ticky to stick to the new loop, so I backtracked and then ran the new Royal River trail out and back as well. Lots of mushrooms, indian pipe and one pretty patch of yellow pinesap, and not much else, although the thrushes were trilling nicely in the fog.

Foggy views up to Coyote Corner

Yellow Pinesap along the Royal River trail

Foggy view from the summit

I was pretty much drenched as soon as I started running and just kept a mellow pace, drinking lots of water and a few salt tabs along with my gels. Got in 11.5 miles and then back at the lot changed shirts, refilled my pack, drank some ice water, had a snack, toweled myself off and waited for Anne to join me. She ended up running a bit behind so I could have run a bit more before stopping but the break was a nice in a way.

The fog was lifting as I waited and the sun was coming out. Whew, getting warm and still wicked humid! When Anne arrived, we headed out onto the east side where I hoped I could guide us along the reverse Mindy route that Val and I had run the last time I was at Brad. I think I succeeded ;) We had a great time chatting as we ran along and while I was definitely getting tired, I felt decent, although I was most certainly flinging sweat everywhere ;) Finished up with a lap around the parking lot, because I'm one of those crazies, for a nice round 19 miles. Definitely happy with the miles and glad to have gotten in a solid first long run of the next training cycle! (19.0 miles)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Crewing Ryan at the 2018 VT 100: Team Snowman v2

Almost immediately after last year's VT 100, Ryan had plans to return, to succeed where he felt he had not succeeded in 2017. Although the finish was a strong one, there had been some early mistakes, high expectations and of course the stomach issues that caused a whole lot of distress and drama along the way. And so the plan was hatched for no drama at this year's VT 100. But, of course, as it does, life always has a way of revising one's plans ;) The reality is that Ryan went into this year's race with a fractured rib from a fall on his long run up in Acadia 4 weeks ago. The pain had lessened but things were certainly not fully healed. Not ideal by any means, but sometimes you just have to take what you are given and roll with it the best you can, and that was fully what we intended to do.

We had a great crew for the weekend, with Sam and Emily joining me during the daylight hours and then Mindy taking over Sam's spot around dinner time. Irene and Dana were coming up once again to cheer and spectate and hang out with Sam during the night, which we very much appreciated! We had rented a house not far from the South Woodstock Country Store for Friday through Monday and were looking forward to a fun weekend up in Vermont. We knew a lot of runners this year and there was a good crew of Trail Monsters making the trip up to volunteer at the Lincoln Covered Bridge aid station too. Besides, VT is always a good time!

We hit the road on Friday morning, met up with Emily at the South Woodstock Country Store for lunch and then headed over to Silver Hill for check-in. We didn't stay too long, just long enough to catch up briefly with Amy the race RD, say hi to Tanya, Melissa and crew and get an ice cream cone, because, well, ice cream! :)

We met up with Irene and Dana and got settled into the house, high up on the hillside with a sweeping view out into the green countryside beyond. Later in the evening, Mindy, Chad, Chip and Darren joined us for dinner and we had a great evening full of laughter and chit chat before we all got to bed as early as we could. But of course, it was not early enough because a 2:00 am wake-up is just darn early ;) Ahh, crewing!

It was a beautiful morning, crisp and clear and cool. Perfect race day weather!! We watched the runners take off down the hill in the darkness and then stayed to watch the sun rise and to see the horses depart for their races. Such a neat experience!

Team Snowman!

Ryan and his fans :)

Trail Monsters ready to take on VT!

Sunrise, sunrise

So beautiful!

Gorgeous glow

After watching the horses take off down the hill, Emily, Sam and I decided to head back to the house for a bit while Irene and Dana headed to the first spectator spot at Taftsville Covered Bridge.

While they were watching runners coming through, we were watching the sun rise over the hillside from the deck. Beautiful.

Looking good through Taftsville at mile 17

Sun rising over the hills 

Sam resting up for the busy day to come :)


The early morning hours unfolded as an ultra does, with us setting up at Pretty House at mile 21, cheering on runners and riders and watching for our runner to appear as a spot far down the road. Ryan looked good and seemed cheery when he came through, so we set off in search of ice and breakfast sandwiches and then headed out to Stage Road for crew spot #2. There, they had changed the crew area and we all had to set up in the sun in the field instead of along the roadside in the shade as we had done in years past. As we sat there, watching runners go by and catching up with Laurie, Nick and Sarah, the day got warm with the bright sun overhead. We were able to move into the shade and set up in front of Tanya's crewmobile shortly before Ryan arrived, which was a welcome relief.

Ryan had had a bit of a low between miles 21 and 30 but we got him cooled down with ice and re-situated and off and running soon after. 

With the longest stretch of time in between aid stations ahead of us, we headed to Lincoln Covered Bridge to do a bit of volunteering at the TMR aid station. It is always a blast to go to that aid station and hang out for an hour or so in between crewing duties. Sam got right down to business helping people fill their bottles and bladders, while I took over my traditional spot behind the food table with Ann, passing out popsicles, making sandwiches and helping keep the snacks stocked. Saw a lot of our friends roll through and then was super excited to see Ryan come through looking cheery and smiling and making jokes. What a great change from last year's stop at the aid station! Honestly, what I wanted most for him out of this year's race was that he enjoy the journey, that he smile and just have fun out there, and I was really happy to see him doing just that!

Lincoln Covered Bridge aid station view. 

Soon after Ryan left, we took off ourselves, stopping briefly at the house to fill our waters, wash our hands and use the bathroom, before heading to the Country Store for lunch. Then it was off to Camp Ten Bear #1. We passed Ryan running on the road and Irene and Dana at the spectator spot, all looking cheery. We scored a spot along the aid station road, but it was out in the open in the blazing sun. Man, it was getting hot!! Ryan slowed down a bit here, but it was the heat of the day and I had expected as much. I had Emily hold the large golf umbrella Ryan had bought at the last minute in case of overnight rain while Sam and I got Ryan iced up, pack refilled, etc. Then we walked with him up the road to the aid station and sent him off on his way. 

From there, it was up to Margharitaville, where we set up in the shade along the roadside and enjoyed the slightly cooler temps and breeze. Tyler and John joined us there to cheer, and we didn't have to wait too long for Ryan to arrive. He surprised us by coming in about 20 minutes ahead of when we were expecting him. Yay! By this point, he was 57 miles in and feeling it. His back, which seemed to be compensating for the cracked rib in some manner, was bothering him and had been for a while. But he was still moving well and he didn't stay long. 

Timing was crucial for us, so we packed up and got out quickly after he left so that we could get back to the house, drop off Sam for the night and pick up Zak, Mindy and pizza for dinner. It was a long, quiet drive back - we were all tired. We had a fairly smooth transition back at the house, and the four of us took off back to Ten Bear. 

There, we had time enough to eat our pizza, chat with Chad who was waiting for Chip, catch up with John and Tyler who were following along and talk with Vicky and Mike, who had come over to help out a friend and who realized they could time it right to see Ryan too! It was great to see them! 

Ryan came in well before dark and sat and ate some pizza and pringles and had a red bull. He had taken ibuprofin out on the course and we all hoped that would help alleviate the discomfort he was feeling. We sent him off with Zak, with high hopes that having company (and being caffeinated) would mean a much better, faster and more fun trip to Spirit of 76 this year vs. last year!!

Mindy, Emily and I detoured back into town for coffee and then headed into the darkness over to Spirit of 76. As we walked through the field out to the aid station, the moon and stars shone brightly overhead. We chatted with Nick and Jeff and stared off into the darkness, hoping to discern when Ryan and Zak came in. In the end, they snuck up on us ;) Ha! Ryan sat and had some more caffeine, a few caffeinated chocolate squares and rejected the Pringles. We got him reloaded, gave him positive feedback and thoughts and sent him quickly back out into the darkness with Zak. 

Spirit of 76

I could tell he was feeling a bit beat up, but I had high hopes that he might be able to make up time on the way to Bill's like he and Zak had done last year. We drove out to Bill's, meandering the country roads in the pitch black, pulled into the field and then set our alarms for an hour later and tried to get some sleep. We got down to the barn around 12:15 am, watching the runners file in and out, sitting and chatting and wondering, hoping, waiting. 

24 hour pace slipped by, as did 25 hour pace. And then, "crew for #332? crew for runner #332?" Oh shit! That was us. I knew it, as soon as I heard those words, that he had dropped. Ryan had told me that unless he was injured he was going to finish and so, I expected the worst. He had dropped at Cowshed, at mile 33, 5 miles before Bill's. The official told us we couldn't get him at Cowshed, so we took off to meet him at Silver Hill. My mind was whirling. I was so afraid he was hurt. I didn't want him to be disappointed. I didn't want to have to deal with the questioning, the suffering, the self depreciation that a DNF can bring. I wanted to bang my head against a wall. Or scream. Or cry. I wasn't sure. But there was nothing to do except drive to the start/finish and pick him up and see what we had to deal with. 

In the end, he was not injured, or not any more injured than he was at the start. His legs had simply locked up and he couldn't stand or walk, his quads taking on too much strain in an effort to compensate for the injured rib and associated tightened/out of whack back. Zak did his best to get him to continue but it was not meant to be. And as amazing as it sounds, when we picked him up, he was smiling. Barely moving, but smiling, and he seemed immediately at peace with the DNF. He knew, we knew, going in, that there was a probability that he wouldn't finish. He would never have given up the chance to start, the chance that the stars would align and he would finish, but in the end, that fickle luck that landed him with a fractured rib won out. And that is OK. He ran 83 really well paced, happy, smiling miles, enjoying the run, not feeling the pressure he had put on himself in 2017, just running. And that, truly, that makes this year's VT 100 a success, even if his race did not end at the official 100 mile finish line. We are never guaranteed success, in 100s or in whatever we try in life. Failures and DNFs and false starts are a part of life and running, and they are just as important as a finish. We learn from our successes and failures, and sometimes we learn that a success might not even be getting to the finish line but to having a good attitude and enjoying the race and being grateful for all the miles we are able to run. I am incredibly proud of Ryan for his year's VT 100 attempt. It was one heck of a ride, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it 💗

Up at 4:30 am getting Ryan a sweatshirt to put on because he was cold, and caught the sunrise. #grateful

We got back to the house, took showers and got into bed for a few hours of fitful sleep. It was a mellow morning and by lunchtime, the house was quiet, with everyone except the three of us headed home. We spent the afternoon resting, eating and catching up with the world and then we roused ourselves from the couch to head to the Worthy Kitchen for dinner and a beer. Because, no matter the outcome of the race, we are a great team and that is something to celebrate!


I wrapped up our VT weekend with a Monday morning run from the house. There was a steep downhill on one side and a steep uphill on the other. Damn, VT is hilly ;) Headed out into 99% humidity and then got poured on for the middle few miles. Enjoyed the lush green hills surrounding me and rescued a red eft from the middle of one of the gravel roads. Realized I was still exhausted and walked several of the big hills ;) Ahh, crewing. (5.1 miles)

Big downhill

VT countryside

VT eft ;)

Sun cutting through the clouds

One final shot of the view from the deck

Running these crazy races is a constant reminder that we can find joy, and meaning, in all things, even when we fail in the traditional sense of the word. It was a great VT weekend and just happened to have finished at mile 83 and not 100 for Ryan this year ;) Grateful as always to be part of the adventure. It really was fun!

Many many thanks to Irene, Dana, Emily, Zak, Mindy and of course, Sam, for making this weekend so special :) Sam was truly an awesome crew member, even if she peppered us constantly with questions we couldn't answer ;) I couldn't have asked for a better team to support Ryan!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Midweek Running

Slept in on Monday. I had originally intended to get out Monday through Friday this week as I knew I wouldn't be running over the weekend due to crewing Ryan at the VT100 and I had hoped to hit 40 miles this week but Monday just didn't happen. That's OK. Sometimes extra sleep is what is needed and another week in the mid-30s is fine too.

Tuesday morning I got up and out early into the foggy morning for a run on the cart paths. Kept the effort steady and didn't stop for any photos ;) Did see one groundhog and one Belted Kingfisher though. (6.0 miles)

Wednesday, I headed out onto the powerlines. I was hoping for a sunrise but it was too overcast. Too humid too. The weather app said 99%. Seriously. Talk about sweaty! Regardless, a nice run with lots of brilliant wood lilies blooming in amongst the brush and a few blueberry stops too :) (7.0 miles)

Yesterday, I took the day off to make sure everything got done before we head to VT this morning, so after dropping Sam off at camp at the Y, I ran the Whiskeag Trail out to Thorne Head. It's a great 5 mile trail that runs through the woods along Whiskeag Creek to its confluence with the Kennebec River. There are a few road crossings but otherwise, the trail feels fairly remote, especially for being right outside of Bath. Of course, it is also really really rooty and fairly technical, so, for me at least, it is just not fast running. But no matter, it was a lovely day with bright sunshine, no humidity (YAY!) and a nice breeze. The woods were quiet and shaded and it was a fun meander. I stopped at a few of the viewpoints and then once I got to Thorne Head, ran up the main trail to the overlook and then looped in and around and everywhere on the different trails to get in some additional mileage. I felt pretty good, and it was a great way to start the day because once I got home I was going a mile a minute baking and cleaning and packing for VT!!! (14.0 miles)

Always love this stretch along the horse field near Sewall Woods

Kennebec views

Thorne Head vista

Trail along the water

Stone Steps!

The current was flowing really fast today!

Lily pads

Joe pye weed along the edge of the creek. Saw an osprey fly overhead here!

Lily pad 💗

This morning, I was up and out early in the cool morning air. Really lovely out with crisp air, clear skies and a beautiful glow as the sun rose over the Heath. Ran the cart paths and added on the lollypop down to the river and back. A good way to kick off the day! And now it is off to VT! Looking forward to crewing and cheering and supporting Ryan in his adventure this year and to seeing all our friends out on the course too! (8.1 miles)