Saturday, January 9, 2021

Week One, New Year, Much of the Same


Back on the bike

On Monday, January 4th, I felt good about getting a fresh start on the new year. My knee has vastly improved, and in fact, I'm feeling more discomfort in the non-surgical knee than I do in my newly repaired knee, which I guess is a good sign? (Ayiii worn cartilage.)

I started a low impact return to the bike, with 20 minute blocks on the trainer Monday through Wednesday, and then went for a 4 mile trail loop outside on Thursday. It felt good, although my fitness is just shot to hell. It's going to take several months to get my fitness back.

The week ended on an unsettling note – with record numbers of Covid deaths being recorded daily and political upheaval in Washington. It's frightening what's happening in this country. It's heartbreaking. 

Sometimes a week feels so long, and Monday was forever ago.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

New Year, New Perspectives

2020 is probably not one to reminisce over – it feels like a lost year – with missed family get-togethers, birthdays and holidays... 5k runs, cycling events and travel. Everything cancelled. Zoom happy hours, socially-distanced driveway gatherings and drive-by visits kept us connected when we couldn't get together – a temporary substitute for the real thing. 

This year, life slowed down. Mike began working at home and I enjoyed having him around. (His commute to and from the office can't be beat). The boys became close over the summer, and even closer in college, since their social circle was limited. And while I nursed my summer injuries, I busied myself with small projects I may not have found time for pre-pandemic. (I also read. A lot. Ninety-seven books, according to Kindle.) 

The past year was an emotional roller coaster for all of us, everywhere, as the somber reality of a deadly virus ravaged around us. And while I'm able to find some positive aspects out of this past year, I know that others have not been as fortunate. I count our blessings. We've been healthy. 

I am hopeful for the new year, 2021. When this pandemic is finally behind us, may we never take for granted time spent with family and friends, laughter and long hugs, again. 

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Day

Two weeks post-op and all is going well! I've had less pain and inflammation than expected and was up and mobile soon after surgery. (Mike and the boys took excellent care of me!) My orthopedist told me straight up before the surgery that my recovery would take longer because of my age. Mmmhhhmmm. Clearly he saw me as a 56 year old woman, and not as an older athlete who injured herself on a run. But, at any rate, I'm doing better than expected and got the go-ahead to slowly re-build my fitness, Today I walked a half mile and caught the sunrise over the beach. So serene.

It's Christmas Eve day, which is hard to believe. We've pared back our holiday celebrations this year and won't be hosting family get-togethers due to the pandemic. Because of this, Christmas feels very low-key, but I'm enjoying having the boys home for the holidays. A new year is around the corner.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Knee Surgery. Let's get it done

We've had a busy few weeks since the boys arrived home from college. Thanksgiving was here and gone in a flash, but not before doing damage to my better-eating goals. Good food, yummy desserts, and the overall  holiday vibe had me sending My Fitness Pal into hiatus. (A weekend of cookie baking didn't help much either, LOL) But that's ok. I'll get back on track after the holidays and surgery.

Our neighborhood, and today a piece of our yard, has been under construction to make way for the new Swampscott Rail Trail. It's been a contentious project in town, but we are trying to stay above the fray and maintain our optimism. It's hard to do sometimes -- and I admit to harboring some underlying bitterness over the process -- but that's a blog post for another time. Right now I'm just trying to block out the constant drone of big machinery outside our home, and impressed that the project is moving quickly. Today we saw our fence removed and the back end of our property scraped down -- but on the plus side, the town planted a new maple tree(!) in front of our house, (yay!), so I'm still floating on a happiness wave over that. There will be a new trail outside our door probably sooner than I can ride it.

My knee surgery is tomorrow -- a partial meniscectomy -- which I cannot even pronounce -- with some cartilage cleanup around the knee. (My time in the boot was extended just a little while longer, until a few weeks post-op). I made the mistake of looking at some photos online of the surgery and it's made me unsettled today. Ugh. Big mistake. Sometimes its better not knowing the details, right? Hopefully, the recovery will go quickly and I'll be back to running and more enjoyable rides in the new year. I might take this forced recovery time to plan out some bike adventures and a few race goals for 2021. A return to Alaska or Norway or someplace different could be cool.

 Surgery first. Let's get it done.

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.