Monday, November 23, 2020

Coffeeneuring Ride 7, Rainy Day

Pond selfie, final ride, Coffeeneuring 2020

We had torrential rain for the majority of the day, eventually clearing out for me to get in my final Coffeeneuring ride for 2020 before darkness settled in. For a while I didn't think I'd manage that last ride as thunder rolled through and the rain came down in sheets, but luck was on my side. As soon as I saw a break in the rain, I headed out.

I rode an out and back ride on the rail trail, with a side detour through the Ware Pond Conservation Area. The combined sounds of the rain hitting the leaves, and honking from nearby geese who haven't yet flown south for the winter, were amplified by the humidity near the pond. It was surprisingly loud, but also peaceful.

After leaving the conservation area, I headed out towards the main road to stop at Evan's Deli for a late coffee. Sadly, their coffee is just trash -- I didn't even finish it -- but I had a mini brownie that made up for it. Coffeeneuring 2020 complete, making it #5 for me (of 7 attempts).

Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number: 7
Date: 11/23/20
Mileage (total): 5ish
Location Name: Evans's Deli
Address: 252 Humphrey Street, Swampscott, Massachusetts 
Drink: Lukewarm stale coffee and a Wicked Awesome Brownie, (actual name).
Ride note: My FIFTH completion of the fall Coffeeneuring challenge. I always enjoy these casual coffee rides in the fall. I didn't think I'd finish this year, (and there were two years where I didn't), but the low mileage minimum made it possible. 2020 has been such an awful year -- it's good to still find joy in the little things.

Tomorrow I will find better coffee
to make up for this

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Coffeeneuring Ride 6, Maria's Java Sun


Sunny but cold for Coffeeneuring ride 6! The harbor is alway quiet and empty at this time of year, but especially more so during a pandemic. The docks were free of the usual afternoon fishing boats off-loading their catch and gear. (I did pass two masked fishermen hauling bait out of a pickup truck, but otherwise it was pretty desolate.)

I stopped for tea and a pastry at the newly reopened Java Sun, which closed last fall and was purchased by another well-established local business, Becky's Gourmet. Now Becky's Java Sun, the shop has a familiar but refreshed vibe from the previous café, but with very limited indoor seating due to the current Covid crisis. (Outdoor seating is available.) It was nice to see the return of an old favorite coffee destination -- I hope it does well.

Welcome back, Java Sun

Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number: 6
Date: 11/17/20
Mileage (total): 4
Location Name: Becky's Java Sun
Address: 35 Atlantic Avenue, Marblehead, Massachusetts 
Drink: Black tea with milk (and an apple turnover).
Ride note: I'm sad I've had to keep my rides short this year, but I've definitely enjoyed the brief coffee excursions I've been able to manage. Just one more ride to wrap up this year's Coffeeneuring challenge!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Coffeeneuring Ride 5, To the beach

We have a little more than a week to go before Coffeeneuring 2020 ends on November 23rd. Today being Sunday, I didn't have many coffee shop options, as Covid-19 has forced many places to curtail their hours. So, I packed up a thermos of hot water, my Aeropress, some ground coffee beans and cocoa, and headed to the beach. 

There was a cold nip in the air, and the beach was deserted, but I was able to make the perfect cup of coffee to warm me up. The granite-slab table in the little park adjacent to the beach served as a divine coffee-shop-without-walls. Yay! Coffeeneuring ride 5 success!

Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number: 5
Date: 11/15/20
Mileage (total): 2.2
Location Name: Preston Beach, Coffee Shop Without Walls
Address: Atlantic Avenue, Swampscott, Massachusetts 
Drink: AeroPress Brazilian coffee with Penzey's cocoa 
Ride note: My shortest ride at just over two miles, but fun!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Coffeeneuring Ride 4, Around Town

Black Joe's Pond, Marblehead
Being in an Aircast boot has been a bit of a challenge this week, but I'm still managing to get things done. I considered abandoning my coffee rides due to the setback, but in all honesty my foot doesn't hurt when I ride, only when I walk, and at this point I can't really do more damage to the knee. (I have arthroscopic  knee surgery scheduled December 11th.) Therefore, Coffeeneuring 2020 continues -- because with a spiraling Covid crisis, a political shit show in Washington, and injuries nagging me, I need one good thing to focus on, and that's my bike and coffee.

The weather this week has been crazy warm. Seriously whacked. We had snow and temps in the teens last week, followed by several days of 70 degree weather. The leaves are starting to rain down in clusters and trees will soon be bare. I took an easy ride around town and stopped by Black Joe's Pond, near where I grew up. I learned to ice skate on this pond when I was a kid.

My coffee stop was at The Blue Canoe, where I had an iced cold brew coffee with a shot of white chocolate -- or a white iced mocha, if you will. It was surprisingly not sweet, yet tasty.

Easy miles today. I'm not even going to bother trying to get a road shoe on and will continue with the mountain bike for now. As soon as I got home from my ride, my foot went right back into the boot. No damage done.

Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number: 4
Date: 11/10/20
Mileage (total): 5.5
Location Name: The Blue Canoe
Address:  School Street,  Marblehead, Massachusetts 
Drink: Iced White Mocha Cold Brew 
Ride note: First ride since learning I have a chipped bone in my foot causing pain and swelling. Since it doesn't hurt when I ride, I removed the boot I've been in this past week for a casual townie ride. Keeping it simple.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A Walk in the Woods

Our October snowstorm and temps in the teens weren't enough to postpone a planned run/walk in Concord with the girls on Halloween. Alison proposed a get-together weeks ago, and as I've pretty much been a hermit through these pandemic days, I looked forward to seeing everyone! Walking is still troublesome for me, but how hard could a 3 mile hike be? Lol. Famous last words.


Most of our merry band of friends made it -- Alison, Lila, Amy, Jennifer, Lisa and Cate, (plus Cate's friend Tracy.) While Jennifer and Amy ran 7 miles, the rest of us hiked the snowy Reformatory Branch Trail -- a historical trail of the Revoluntionary war era that skirts the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. It was absolutely gorgeous with the freshly fallen snow and ice crystals -- so stunning. It was good to catch up with friends and chat and feel normal again, (even wearing masks), and I'm so glad I went despite the 19 degree start temps and limping the last mile. We ending up hiking closer to five miles, (not 3)... which is maybe why I'm now in an Aircast boot for the next month. 

My appointment with the podiatrist, Justin Kaminski, was Monday, and it appears that I have a chip fracture in the first metetarsal head. I'll be in a boot until Dec 7th, and have been instructed to stay off my foot as much as I can. I don't see how that's possible.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Coffeeneuring Ride 3, Snow day!

I guess since our last snowfall was just six months ago in mid-April, (late for New England), receiving four inches of snow today, in October, shouldn't be a surprise. The craziness of 2020 just keeps rolling along.

After two days of solid rain, I was actually excited to see the snow today, and took a break from some house projects to go for a ride. Bundled up, (not very well, I might add), I headed over to the Forest River Conservation Area for a few loops through the woods. The snow was coming down pretty steadily, and I enjoyed a peaceful and fun ride. (Unfortunately, I didn't wear the right gloves for the cold. Rookie mistake.)

A week ago I learned that the MRI on my knee is showing more damage than I anticipated -- a complex tear of the medial meniscus and cartilage wear. I'm contemplating surgery to clean up the damage, but in the meantime, a shot of cortisone has helped tremendously. 

My coffeeneuring stop today was at The Baker's Daughter Diner -- a vegetarian diner new to town. I picked up a coffee-to-go, as dine-in service during Covid isn't an option. (I also picked up an apple strudel to go as well, and shared at home.) It has to be extraordinarily difficult to open a new business during the on-going pandemic. It looks like a great little place and I hope it does well.

Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number: 3
Date: 10/30/20
Mileage (total): 5
Location Name: The Baker's Daughter Diner (Coffee to go) 
Address:  646 Humphrey Street, Swampscott, Massachusetts 
Drink: Large coffee with cream, and an apple strudel 
Ride note: Snow! Very early for New England, and a lot of it too! The early morning flurries didn't stick, but it was cold enough to start accumulating after an hour. Note to self: Dig out winter riding gear.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coffeeneuring Ride 2, Beach Day

 A clam's perspective

Sunshiney day in Nahant, and a 5 mile ride down the Nahant Beach walkway -- flat and easy. I finally saw an orthopedic doctor to address the knee and foot injuries last week, (I know... it's about time), and had an MRI on my knee last Wednesday to see what's going on. I won't learn the results until tomorrow. Unfortunately, my foot injury is still unresolved as it wasn't the orthopedist's specialty -- I need to see a podiatrist -- but an X-Ray ruled out a fracture. Unfortunately, I can't see the podiatrist for another few weeks.

So it's easy riding for a little while until I know what's going on. Today was an amazing summer-like day and a beach ride was a nice change of pace. I grabbed an iced coffee from the Dunkin' at the end of the causeway and went back to the beach to watch the surf and seagulls. Just what I needed today.

Coffee on the beach
Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number:
Date: 10/19/20 
Mileage (total): 5
Location Name: Dunkin' (Coffee in the wild) 
Address: Nahant Beach, Nahant, Massachusetts 
Drink: Pumpkin (1 pump) Iced Coffee with Almond Milk 
Ride note: Signs around Nahant show neighbors in solidarity in their fight againt Northeastern University's expansion efforts at the Marine Science Center. Neighbors are concerned for the wildlife and migratory birds on the island, among many other issues.

Nahant's characterization of Northeastern U.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Coffeeneuring Returns! One Good Thing

It's that time of year -- COFFEENEURING 2020! -- and I'm excited to get out on some coffee rides. ☕ My knee and foot injuries are still plaguing me, but I'm trying to ride through the pain. I've been unable to get a road cycling shoe on, (my foot still being jacked up), so I'm sticking with the mountain bike for a while with a wider hiking shoe. Today I packed up a Hydroflask with Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Tea and a Yeti Rambler and headed over to Lynn Woods. It was a perfect day! The temps were warm and the woods were surprisingly crowded for October, but nothing crazy. I noticed most people were wearing masks or had one readily available to pull up when needed. Very respectful.

I'm sticking to the wide fire roads for now as I'm not feeling quite ready for single track. But it's all good. The leaves are just starting to turn, with a few sugar maples already bursting with color. Yay, Fall!

Control Card Notes: 
Ride Number: 1 
Date: 10/11/20 
Mileage (total): 5.5 
Location Name: Coffee Shop Without Walls 
Address: Lynn Woods, Lynn, Massachusetts 
Drink: Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Tea 
Ride notes: Warm day, folliage is just starting to turn, surprised to find a crowded parking lot.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Summer Ends, Welcome Fall

I took a break from the bike in August and September to try and recover from my back-to-back injuries -- although the recovery has been slow. I grabbed the Kona and headed to Beverly Commons for some mountain biking, which admitedly did not go well. I still have knee pain and felt unstable on the bike while trying to ride the single track, over roots and rocks... It was intimidating and I felt skittish. I ended up walking my bike in areas I used to ride, which was somewhat demoralizing.

Still, it was a gorgeous day and I was happy to be in the woods. Hopefully I can get some momentum going.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

We keep moving along...

We had a low key summer due to safety measures surrounding the pandemic, but managed to muddle through the summer. Massachusetts kept a steady hold on Covid infection rates, but life definitely felt at a standstill. I've yet to get together with friends on a regular basis, and my nagging knee injury has curtailed any running and riding. It was a lazy summer. I can't remember a time when I've ever been less active or not had an event to train for -- my fitness has definitely taken a nosedive. I miss my friends, I miss my bike, and as hard as it is to believe, I miss running, too. 

We loved you, sweet dog

We lost Rigby at the end of August, which was incredibly sad. He was a massive shedder, and caused a lot of trouble when he was young -- barreling through the door and running full speed down the street, or chewing on things he shouldn't, (he once chomped down on the dining room table while standing next to me); and I often complained about having a 120 lb shadow constantly behind me, (if he wasn't standing next to me or underneath my feet, I was always within his line of vision) -- but the house feels empty now that he's gone. He was a sweet boy.

Ready or not, UMich

The boys left for Michigan a few weeks later, so the house is really quiet. It's amazing how much noise they must make because it's really quiet now. I miss them tons. I'm hoping to get back to the bike, and running, soon-ish? Honest to god, I've been such a disaster the last four months that I've managed to injure myself again -- so on top of my meniscus injury, I've got a strained ligament in my foot. (How I injured it is embarrassing, so no details). I was told it will likely take about six weeks to heal -- and I'm crossing my fingers that it's the last of my 2020 mishaps. I need to get back to something normal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Pandemic Spring

No runs, rides or walks, but baby bunnies for the win.
May 2020 was a brutal one and I really haven't had much desire to journal. High anxiety and knee pain from my run injury, (likely tendinitis, hopefully not torn meniscus), meant very little sleep -- which in turn lead to long and cranky days. Self-isolation was mentally taxing as my April sanity breaks of riding, (or running, or walking), were painful. It has taken six weeks to get to the point where I can walk down the stairs without pain, but a dull ache, reminiscent of a bruise being constantly poked, remains.

Normally, dealing with an injury is enough of a strain to the psyche -- but add in a pandemic, 120,000 deaths, rampant racial injustice, protests, riots, and the dumpster fire of a presidency -- well, it's been a craptastic Spring. I'm still holding out hope that we'll emerge from all of this stronger.

I've jumped* back into B&S bootcamp workouts on Zoom this month, adding a few minimal workouts to my week. (*Not literally. No jumping allowed). It irritates Will when he looks at my workout later in the day and points out the several things I shouldn't be doing. Honestly, I'm modifying a lot. It's hard to believe I was in Alaska just last June in peak physical shape, (though with a nasty calf strain dogging me.) Sigh. Injuries suck.

Meanwhile, my garden projects and baby bunnies have kept me smiling this Spring while I'm off the bike. It's been a struggle.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Cinco de NoNo

5K Cinco de Mayo QuaranTeam Virtual Run
Ohhhh dearie me, I made a big mistake. With gyms closed for the State's coronavirus shutdown, I joined B&S Fitness for online Zoom bootcamp the last week in April. Lila is doing it as well, and it's been great getting back into a regular workout routine with one of my favorite trainers, Betsy Caliri. (I've taken bootcamp with Betsy before and she's awesome.) I saw that other B&S athletes were participating in Ashley's QuarranTeam Challenge, (raising money for several local charities), and I signed up as well.

The virtual 5 mile/5K/5min plank Challenge (choice of, not all three combined) seemed doable to me. I suffered a sore knee a few weeks ago after my first run since taking a sheltering-break -- because I jumped the gun and took on too much at once -- so my plan was to run/walk the 5K in intervals. I figured that would be the best way to do it.

I was soooo freaking wrong.

I started feeling some pain around a mile in, so walked a little more than ran. At two miles, the pain was a little stronger, but I only had a mile to go, right?! So I continued on alternating run/walk intervals. I was sore a few hours later, but didn't think much of it.

Until my knee swelled up like a balloon. The pain was intense. Ice, Tylenol, rest, elevation... I've been doing it all for a week now and it's still bad. For several days after my run I could barely walk and the pain would wake me up at night. The swelling subsided a few days ago, and I'm moving a little better, but damn.

I really messed up.

Friday, May 1, 2020

30 Days of Biking, Complete

Day 30, That's a wrap
It rained on the last day of Thirty Days of Biking, of course. Looking back over the previous six challenges, it has now rained during five of my seven finales. If I were a wedding planner, I would advise against a ceremony on April 30th.

I headed out in a light drizzle towards Marblehead, intending to ride out to Fort Sewall and the perimeter of town, but remembered Amy mentioning some artwork installed outside of Tower School, so detoured at Smith Street and headed towards the school. (I wasn't impressed with the fish installation. Kind of bland.) From the school, I hopped on the bike path and continued towards Salem, feeling a bit chilled from the raw weather. That was it for me -- thirty days, done.

I didn't think I'd have the mental fortitude to ride every day this year, but the daily ritual of getting out on my bike, rain or shine, was exactly what I needed. The added stress of social distancing and masking up wasn't great, but not insurmountable. I took the stay-at-home advisory, which allows for outside recreation for fitness, seriously and kept my rides within a bubble. (Vermont suggests the bubble to be no more than ten miles from home -- I shrunk it to six.) Overall, it was a positive experience in a stressful time.

When I woke up this morning to pouring rain, my first thought was, "It's May. I don't have to go out there".

30 Days of Biking, done and dusted.

Defining Spring 2020

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

30 Days of Biking, Penultimate Day

Day 29, Crystal clear surf today. Like diamonds. (Pic 1)
Day 29, Biggie clam  (Pic 2)
We had a (rare) sunny day after several gray days for my second-to-last ride in April. I rode around Marblehead Neck, stopping by Goldthwait Beach to kill some time, and then over to Stowaway Sweets to pick up an order of chocolates I'd placed earlier in the morning. The waves were beautiful after the stormy days we've had, and I found another big clam shell on the beach. There have been some big ones lately!

As for the chocolate -- it was part of a deal.

Chip had been dragging his feet on his English assignments based on the book, Like Water for Chocolate. English has taken a lower priority with him as he prepares for his AP exams in Physics, Calculus, Statistics and French, but the English work still needs to get done. I saw there were 12 chapters in the book and told him I'd buy a box of Sweet Sloops at Harbor Sweets and for every chapter he read, he'd earn two chocolates. Will laughed at me and said, "That's not going to work. He's not five!". Well.. I thought it was a good idea?

Then this morning, Chip told me he finished the book. He started last night and read it to the end. (It's not a long book.) Hahahaha. I owed him chocolate. I went online and saw Harbor Sweets was closed and limited to online orders only, with shipping. Whereas Stowaway Sweets was taking call-in orders and offered at-door-pickup!! That was perfect (!) and their chocolates are soooo good.

I called in an order for an assorted selection of chocolates and picked them up from a special order pick-up box. Chip was quite happy. :) It's good to have a win these days.

Outside Stowaway Sweets, picking up my order.
The pickup box!
The best chocolates. Chip earned them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

30 Days of Biking, Rainy Days

Day 27, Sun circle reflections (Pic 1)
Day 27, Another Nor'Easter  hits the coast (Pic 2)
Day 27, Sweet little discovery at Beach Bluff Park (Pic 3)
Day 28, light rain on my post-bootcamp ride
A view of Swampscott from Lynn (Pic 1)
Day 28, Parking is prohibited on the beach side of
Lynn Shore Drive, giving me my own protected
bike lane. (Pic 2)