Sunday, June 16, 2019

Last Training Weekend

5 miles with Ingrid! Great pace and my fastest 5 mile run.
My final weekend of training before Alaska! My dearest friend Ingrid arrive from Hawaii on Thursday, planning to spend a few days with us before attending a conference in Boston. We’d been out of touch for a while, and missed a good chunk of life events during that time, but it was easy to pick up where we left off. Good friendships are like that — they last forever.

Fortunately for me, Ingrid is a pro in ultra-triathlon and racing events and helped me wrap up some final details of pre-race prep. She reviewed my gear and added some suggestions — I’m good to go. We ran five miles together on Friday followed by a 4 mile Lynn Woods hike in the afternoon — and then spent Saturday morning kayaking and attending an arts fest before I drove her into Boston. It was sad saying goodbye, but hopefully we’ll do better at keeping in touch.

I had a long run, 7-8 miles, on my training calendar for Sunday, and planned to meet the girls for a 4 mile run after getting in 3-4 miles beforehand. Unfortunately, a quarter mile into my run, I felt my calf tighten and pull. Ouch! It wasn’t the worst strain I’ve had but it was enough to cause some pain. I limped back to the parking lot, not willing to push it any further. We had a farewell party for Jaclyn at Notch Brewery after the run, and then I returned home to pack (and nurse my tight calf).

I’m all set, ready to go! Tomorrow is a long travel day — Boston to Chicago to San Francisco to Anchorage. Departing home at 6:30 am with Mike, (taking the T to the airport) and hopefully arriving in Anchorage before 9 pm Alaska-time. I don’t know what the math comes out to, but I’m thinking 14 or 15 hours? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ready to go.

Windy day on the water

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Alaska on the horizon

Long run done

“Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.” — Kara Goucher

Monday, June 3, 2019

Arrrgggghhh Ticks

Our rainy Spring didn’t let up last week as we had another five straight days of wet weather. Fortunately we got a break on Friday as I headed up to Vermont for a training weekend with a few of the girls. Jennifer and Amy drove up to join me on Friday, arriving at the cottage mid afternoon. Unfortunately, the lower pasture was still wet and muddy and Jennifer’s car got stuck, but we were able to get it out late in the day.

The mud turned out to be the least of our concerns. Not more than an hour after their arrival, Amy pulled a tick off her clothes. And then another. And another. Soon I was doing the same. I changed my clothes and a tick fell out of my bra while a fifth was attaching itself to my bare thigh. (I felt a “tug” on my skin when I brushed him off). Argggghhhh. I put on a long sleeved shirt, tucked my jeans into my mud boots, tucked my shirt in and sprayed my exposed skin with Deet. Walking to the brook to turn on the water, I brushed tick #6 off my boots. By the end of the night, Amy was up to seven tick encounters, I had six, and Jennifer none. (She claims her Mediterranean blood wards them off. I’m not sure if she was joking.) Doing one final tick check before bed, I found one buried in my back below my shoulder blade that needed removal. Damn it. How did it get on my back? I was covered! It was unsettling.

On Saturday, we headed to the mountain and hiked the Swoops and Loops mountain bike trail. It was a great trail and I’m excited to go back and ride it! I wore permethrin treated hiking clothes and new Hoka Speedgoats, also treated with permethrin. No ticks! After our hike, we returned to the cottage to do some chores, (mowing, trimming, and repairing some of the ruts in the road), before Jaclyn’s arrival. The three of them were registered for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon on Sunday, although Amy had to pull out with a foot injury. We had zero tick encounters on Saturday with the combination of Deet and permethrin.

Jennifer cut the grass in our war on ticks
Jaclyn arrived at 3:30 and we headed out to dinner in Claremont soon after. When we returned to the cottage, Jennifer sat down on the porch to read her book and a tick fell from the porch roof onto her lap. They were on the porch! It was raining ticks! The worst. We retreated indoors and spent the night inside, heading to bed on the early side.

The next morning, Jennifer and Jaclyn ran the half marathon while Amy and I rode our bikes up the course for a few miles, (as far as we were allowed to), to cheer them on. It was a damp, overcast day, which was typical of this Spring. My training weekend turned out to be less than what I really needed to get out of it — I needed to get some elevation training done — but the ticks really rattled me. We closed up the cottage after returning from the race and headed home.

Will borrowed my car the next day and caught a tick crawling on my steering wheel. There’s no escaping them.

Is this one from Massachusetts?
Or did he hitch a ride from Vermont?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

10K Done!

Gold Star Run for Honor 10K
Honoring CPL Scott J. Procopio of Saugus, MA
I had a relatively decent week with my training runs, joining Amy, Jennifer and Alison on Tuesday for a run in Wakefield, not far from our old house in Melrose. I managed to exceed my target on Tuesday with a 4.6 mile run, and meet Thursday’s target with another 4.5. I moved my Sunday long run to Saturday and ran the Scott J. Procopio Gold Star Run for Honor for the second time — this year running the 10K (6 miles) instead of the 5K. It wasn’t speedy by any means, but I did break my 5K PR in the process and finished the 10K at a 12/min mile, which I wasn’t disappointed in. I know my pace is slow but I’m chipping away at it little by little. Running isn’t my strength.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Run, Ride, Run Some More

Training is going ok for the Alaskaman XTri coming up in six weeks. (OMG! Only six weeks left?!) I’m trying not to stress out but I AM actually worried. I feel woefully undertrained but not sure how to change it at this point. I feel so damned exhausted.

My weekly runs are now 4.5 miles Tuesday and Thursday, (Tuesday night swimming has ended for now but I hope to return after Alaska), with my long runs on the weekend at 6 miles. I have a 10K this Saturday and then progress to 7 miles the following weekend. It ramps up fast. I was given a major shot in the arm this week from the BOWZ gang when I joined them for my long run on Saturday, the Boston Brain Tumor Ride on Sunday, and my 4.6 mile run on Tuesday. Alison, Jennifer, and Amy kept me going — plus Jaclyn on Saturday’s run and Cate on Sundays ride. I really do get by with a little help from my friends.


Sunday’s Boston Brain Tumor Ride was a good one in terms of riding. I actually felt really good on the bike and rode the first ten miles with Jennifer and Amy, averaging a bit under 16 mph, to the first water stop. Since I was focused on my half marathon training this Spring, and spent less time on the bike than I would have liked, I planned to ride the 40 mile route with Cate rather than the metric century with Jennifer, Amy, and Alison — although I knew after the first ten miles I would have been fine for the metric. Maybe. Who knows. At any rate, I planned to ride with Cate and I stuck with that plan and met her at the first rest stop. I’m glad I did! Riding with Cate was a little slower, but I really enjoyed it. I loved chatting with her and riding a casual pace. It was only her third or fourth time on the bike this Spring, and soon after we split from the other ladies, she mentioned she’d be happy just riding 25. That was fine with me! It was a gorgeous route and we had a great ride through Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, arriving back at the start under heavy clouds. I then headed back out on the road to return to a barn I’d seen 4 miles into the morning start with a giant peace sign on the doors. I wanted a photo! The extra miles brought me up to 32 for the morning. I’m not unhappy with that.

It began to lightly rain as I headed back, turning into a steady rain soon after I finished. The unexpected weather put a bit of a damper on event activities as riders finished up soaking wet, cold, and shivering. Cate and I waited for the girls to get back and then we all drove to Starbucks for coffee and warmth. It was a nice ride for a great cause in memory of Alison’s mom, Charlene. Congrats to Team Noggin for raising $4,001 for the National Brain Tumor Society, and a sincere THANK YOU to Fred, Kathy, Mike and the boys their support and sponsorship. xoxoxo

Cate, Jennifer, Amy and Alison (Team Noggin)
Boston Brain Tumor Ride

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ascutney 2019

Purple Trillium on the mountain
We finally landed a sunny Saturday -- the first since March 16th, (I'm not kidding on the stat! It was reported by a newscaster) -- so Mike and I drove up to Ascutney to open up the cottage for the season. We had a great and productive day cleaning and sorting and sprucing up. My cousin Rich and his wife Becky also came up for the afternoon and Rich installed the water. Mike managed to attract 2 ticks within an hour of each other -- or perhaps he got them at the same time. Hard to know. He's now being called a "tick magnet", which amuses my pun-happy husband in crazy way. Lol.

The wet, rainy Spring brought more than ticks -- it brought mud. The road through the lower pasture that leads to the cottage was pretty dicey to drive through, and we risked getting the car stuck each time we passed through it, so when Mike and I woke up to a gray and damp day on Sunday, we closed up the cottage for the weekend rather than return after breakfast. We then headed out to the Windsor Diner and went straight to the main mountain entrance for a hike afterwards.

Arriving at the main gate at Ascutney State Park, we discovered the main access road was closed to cars, (until Memorial Day weekend), so we parked off the road and climbed under the gate to head to the Futures Trail.

For some reason, looking at the sign, neither one of us noted that the Futures Trail was TO THE LEFT. We both went straight. Lol. We hiked for an hour up the mountain, not really on a trail but seeing imaginary trails through the woods, following haphazard lines for a mile before calling it a day and turning back. In all, it was only two miles roundtrip and not exactly what I needed for training, but it was fun. A great day for a hike.

Next time, we'll take the actual trail.

The Futures Trail. GO LEFT.
The sounds of the stream lead us back

Saturday, May 4, 2019

April went too fast. April dragged on.

First mile in new Hokas at Ferry Field, Univ. of Michigan
Hard to believe it’s already May and we’re just eight weeks away from Alaska 2019. The time is passing too quickly and I’m getting a little anxious about my training. The weather this spring has been miserably wet and cold and not at all friendly for hiking. My ambitious plan to open up the cottage early and spend some time up north was overly ambitious. Vermont was still getting snow in mid-April.

As much as it flew, April also dragged at times, with those cold, rainy, gray days making my commitment to 30 Days of Biking almost tortuous. I was happy to do it for Will, who enjoys seeing my daily photos from the road, but I’m so glad to have that challenge behind me.

Another year, done! Will is home for the summer.
I took a break from training to head out to Michigan to get Will for the summer, (a three day road trip), and now it’s back to training! I’m starting to semi-enjoy running and have hit the five mile mark on each of my long runs the last two weeks, which I never thought possible. Following my training plan, I’ll be increasing that mileage by +1 mile weekly between now and June 16. I’m still ridiculously slow but my main focus is on endurance. I may not get a chance to improve my speed over the next 8 weeks, but I’ll work on that after Alaska.

I’m afraid May might pass quicker than April.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

30 Days of Biking, Final Days (Year 6)

April 29, Blue skies ahead, clouds behind me.
April 30, 40 degrees and rain. An unceremonious end.
Year Six, 30 Days of Biking, done and dusted. April is a long, cold, wet, cruel month — it has the promise of Spring with the remnants of Winter. Biking every day, often in inclement weather, often felt tedious.

I want to say I’m officially done with this yearly challenge, but I suspect I’ll get drawn in again 11 months from now.

Monday, April 29, 2019

30 Days of Biking, Week 4 (Year 6)

April 22, stopping by the pier while errandonneering
April 23, Delivering flowers to my sister
April 24, plans to run went awry when I forgot a bike lock
April 25,  Who lives here? Hobbit, Elf or Troll
April 26, Early rise and shine before the rain
April 27, Back alley in The Point neighborhood
April 28, Ride-Run, Take 2. I remembered a lock.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Errandonee Final Days

Errandonnee #7. “You carried what?” Pastries.
The final days of The Errandonnee were cold and rainy, but with determination to finish the challenge, I continued on. I banged out four errands by bike on rainy Earth Day, which was rather symbolic as I’d have normally driven by car given the weather.
Errandonnee 7: April 21. To the bakery to get pastries for Easter. (4 miles) Category: Baked goods. "You carried what?" 
Errandonnee 8 & 9: April 22. To the Post Office and Town Hall. (2 miles) Category: Personal Business (Mailed a package at the post office and completed an absentee ballot application for Will at town hall.)
Errandonnee 10: April 22: To the vet to pick up allergy meds for Rigby Category: Non-Store (5 miles) (During my ride: Stopped by Swampscott Pier to take a photo for 30 Days of Biking.)
Errandonnee 11: April 22: Trip to the market to pick up limes and scallions for dinner. Pad thai is on the menu. Category: Store (1 mile) (Observed on my ride: Ran into my dad.)
Errandonnee 12: April 23: Delivered flowers to my sister for her birthday. Only one got a little crushed. Category: Wild Card (5 miles)
Errands 8-11, Post office, town hall, vet and market
Delivering flowers to my sister. Alas, she wasn't home.
12 for 12 on this Spring’s Errandonne. I believe I met the category requirements. I certainly overshot the mileage. (All rides, of course, recorded on Strava).

Mission Accomplished.

Monday, April 22, 2019

30 Days of Biking, Week 3 (Year 6)

April 15, Patriots Day. Started rainy, ended mixed.
April 16, Strong winds today! Salem was as far as I got.
April 17, The Forsythia has sprung!
April 18, A swing though Old Town while running errands
April 19, Lynn Woods on a somewhat dry day.
April 20, Another rainy day on the coast. The view of
Swampscott from Red Rock
April 21, Marblehead through the fog

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Vacation Week Errandonee

Errandonnee #3 to the pet shop to get Rigby some treats
It’s been a challenge riding daily for 30 Days of Biking while also training for Alaska. My legs often feel like lead the day after a run and it takes a lot of energy to gear up for a ride. I added The Errandonee into the mix to spice things up, giving me a purpose for some of my low-key rides. It may be a challenge I can’t finish.

It's Vacation Week! To date, I’ve completed the following tasks for The Errandonee. (Categories noted.) I don’t know if I’ll get all 12 by Tuesday, April 23, but we’ll see.
Errandonnee 1: April 12. Ride to the school to drop something off at the front office. (7 miles)  Category: School. (Observed on my ride: Boston Tow Boat dragging one of the SHS sailing team boats capsized during the week.)
Errandonnee 2: April 13. Plum Island Ride to the ice cream shop for an iced coffee. (1 mile) Category: Non-store. (Seen on my ride: Herons on the salt water marshes.)
Errandonnee 3: April 14: Pet shop to pick up treats for the dog and pharmacy for various items. Category: Store (10 miles) (Note: Took a detour to the pier to check the harbor.)
Errandonnee 4: April 15: Taco Ride with Chip. Category: Social (5 miles) (Noted on my ride: That my son has ordered the same burrito for the last three years.)
Errandonnee 5: April 18: Ride to CVS to pick up Cadbury mini eggs to replace the bag I ate. Category: You carried what? (5 miles)  (Noted: Took a ride through the neighborhood I grew up in. Looks the same.)
Errandonnee 6: April 20: Ride along the coast to map the route for my five mile run on Sunday. Category: Personal Care (10 miles) (Observed on my ride: A pretty rough surf caused by a coastal storm offshore.)
Errandonnee #4, Taco Ride with Chip
Errandonnee #5, replacing the mini eggs I ate.

Monday, April 15, 2019

30 Days of Biking, Week 2 (Year 6)

April 8, Rainy days and Mondays. Taking a break from the rain.
April 9, Killed 2 birds with one stone by riding the Nahant
Beach Walkway to figure out the turnaround point for
my 3 mile run. #didntreallykillanybirds
April 10, 42 degrees, 18mph winds. This seal is not named Andre

April 11, Support Your Sistas
Day 12, 30 Days of Biking included
Errand #1 of The Errandonnee
April 13, Plum Island
April 14, Quick stop at the pier while running errands

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Four mile run, CHECK! Plus Errandonnee 2 and 3

Tortoise and the Hare 10K. I completed 4 miles of my training plan

It was a busy weekend with the Tortoise and the Hare 10K on Saturday morning with the girls. My training plan had my long run at 4 miles this week, so I didnt complete the full 10K, but had a great time meeting up with Alison (bib #1), Jaclyn (2), Amy (3), Jennifer (4), and Lila (15! Cover the 1!) -- I was bib #6.

After the race, I headed over to Plum Island with my mountain bike to ride some flat roads and sand. It was a gorgeous day! As I was heading back to the car, I passed a cute ice cream shop, and as I continued on, realized they might have iced coffee. Rather than stop at a Dunks on the way home, I turned around and headed back to the shop. I wonder if it would count as an Errandonnee ride? Maybe? I'm saying YES! Errandonnee #2.

Sunday, was definitely an Errandonneuring day. I was feeling tired from Saturday, but still rode ten miles around town with stops at the pharmacy for some items, (including a Kit Kat for Chip), and the pet shop to pick up some treats for Rigby, (who we adopted TEN YEARS AGO this month!) I had a full backpack headed home for Errandonnee #3.

Errandonnee #2, Mission: Iced Coffee

Friday, April 12, 2019

The challenge within a challenge

Day 12, 30 Days of Biking included
Errand #1 of The Errandonnee
With quite a lot on my plate already — training for a half marathon and several charity rides, swimming on Tuesday nights, and doing anything and everything I can to prep for Alaska — I’ve been squeezing in small rides to fulfill Year 6 of 30 Days of Biking. I hadn’t planned to participate this year, but it just didn’t seem like April without forcing myself to get out on a bike every day.

Adding to that quest, I’ve opted in for The Errandonnee as well — 12 errands in 12 Days (minimum total, 30 miles), from April 12-23. It’s a challenge within a challenge!

Like the Coffeeneurring challenge I love so well, The Errandonnee has a few rules. For example, your 12 rides must cover seven of nine categories; Arts & Entertainment, Store, Non-Store, Personal Care, Personal Business, You Carried What?, Work/Volunteer/School, Wild Card etc.; You can’t repeat a category more than twice; and you must document it in some way.

Today I kicked off the challenge by including an errand to the school! Chip left a check at home for his Track team fundraiser, so I opted to ride to the school and drop it off! On the way home, I stopped by the beach to watch a few folks hauling out the turtled sailboats the SHS sail team capsized this week. (Lol. I know Chip misses sailing, but I’m so glad he’s running track.)

Tough luck in the harbor this week for SHS Sail