Monday, November 18, 2019

Turkey Chase 5K

22 degrees is too cold for this
Post-run coffee and cool down-warm up
OMG it it took a lot of effort to head to Danvers at 7 a.m. for the Turkey Chase 5k in sub-freezing temps. It’s much too cold. While I should have been able to run the full 5K had I stuck to the original C25K training schedule I’m following,  I’m only now into week 5 (not 8) of my training plan. I’ve repeated a few weeks. It’s been a slow and steady rebuild since October.

The race went well — I followed my scheduled workout (8 min run, 5 min walk, repeat) for the first half+, and then ran with a friend of KHaff’s (Pam M.) for the second half. Pam was also doing run/walk intervals, 90/90, so that worked out well and I enjoyed her company.

Back at the finish, I met up with friends for some coffee and finish line festivities. Judy placed first in her age division and got a medal. Yay! Fun morning and I’m glad I got out of bed.

Irony is finding wild turkeys roaming near home after
 running the Turkey Chase 5K

Friday, November 15, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 6; The Blue Canoe Cafe

Almond milk cafe latte with a cinnamon explosion
The Blue Canoe, Marblehead
After a ridiculous week of cold winter weather, the temps finally crawled out of the twenties and thirties to end the week on a high note. I dug out my cold-weather gear and headed for a ride around Marblehead and met Betty at the Blue Canoe for coffee. We chatted forever, catching up on this month’s news ranging from the serious, (Will’s former football teammate committing suicide), to the mundane, (I need to fill in the holes in our foundation because we have mice). Somehow 90 minutes felt like 30 as the time slipped by.

George patiently waited while we had coffee
Spectacular day, Riverhead Beach
After our lengthy chat fest, I continued on my ride out to Devereux Beach and the lighthouse before heading home. (Roughly 16 miles total — I’m not riding far these days.) The weather was ahhhh-ma-zing and it’s surprising how warm 35 degrees feels once the twenties arrive.

Coffeeneuring Ride 6 is complete... just one to go,

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Coffee-To-Go, Coffeeneuring #5

Harbor view and Starbucks
Temps were in the 50s this afternoon for a loop around Marblehead Neck and Old Town. I originally planned to stop at The Blue Canoe on my Coffeeneuring ride today but, A). it was just too nice outside to stay inside a coffee shop and B). I left my cash at home when I swapped jackets. Fortunately there’s a great Starbucks in town, (with a local vibe), and I was able to run in for an iced coffee, using the Starbucks app on my phone!

With my Grande Iced snuggled nicely into the water bottle cage, I headed down to the Fort Beach area to enjoy coffee al fresco. It was low tide, the rocks were warm to sit on, and I could have stayed there for hours watching the seagulls dropping and eating mussels on the rocks ahead of me. I love the harbor in the fall. Such a perfect day!

Fort Beach, aka Flat Rock Beach, Marblehead Harbor
Crowninshield Island aka Brown’s Island, Little Harbor

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 4, Periwinkles Food Shoppe

Hot or iced, I’ll take both today.
Coffeeneuring has kept me on the bike this fall, filling the void that I’ve somehow created for myself. I just haven’t been motivated to ride, and in truth that’s been going on for a while. I know I’ll shake it eventually, but meanwhile there is coffee to be had.

Today’s destination was a quickie spin over to Periwinkles Food Shoppe on the Swampscott-Salem line where I met my sister for coffee. I ended up getting both a hot coffee and an iced coffee since I needed the caffeine boost. Afterwards, I rode to Salem and through the Forest River Conservation area before wending over to take the rail trail home through Marblehead. I love having gravel tires on my road bike. It might make it a little slower on the roads but the ability to hop off-road means every ride has the potential for adventure.

The leaves are falling quickly now. It won’t be long before all the trees are bare. I’m not ready for winter.

Gravel tire for the win
Off-road adventuring

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Lincoln’s Landing for Coffeeneuring #3

Lincoln’s Landing.
Best breakfast and coffee and people in town.
Lincoln’s Landing, Swampscott, Massachusetts.
I picked up my bike from Centraal Cycle yesterday and went for a spin around town today, planning to meet Mike for coffee/lunch at Lincoln’s Landing. It was nice to have gears again — Centraal Cycle did a great job. (I’ll replace the chain in the Spring, again. Sigh.)

I arrived at Lincoln’s Landing before Mike, and walked inside to add my name to the wait list. I walked maybe five feet into the cozy little place when both cleated feet slipped right out from under me. I landed hard on my tail on the slick wooden floor, taking out the table to my right in the process. I mean, take out. A complete wipe-out. Coffee (or was it cocoa?), plates, mugs, cutlery, all went crashing to the floor.

Oh my god. I was so mortified. The women next to me were stunned. Every diner stared at me, asking if I was ok. Kids were wide-eyed horrified. What a mess. I couldn’t even stand up, my shoes kept slipping, until I had the sense to remove them. I apologized profusely. I’m sure my face was beet red. Everyone was really gracious, especially the two women whose table I’d destroyed and the lovely cafe staff who cleaned up the mess. I laughed at myself and begged everyone not to tell my husband what happened when he arrived. 

(Obviously, I paid for the women’s breakfast.)

Mike arrived and I pretended nothing happened, but he knew something was up, so I confessed. We had a nice coffee-lunch date despite my atrocity, and the coffee was really good. (It’s a fabulous place.)

I took my time heading home, stopping by Muskrat Pond on the way. The fall colors are still quite spectacular. It was a beautiful day for a ride — although I’m sure I will be quite sore later today. Ouch.


Oh! I love bittersweet! So pretty!
Muskrat Pond.
Home to ducks, opossums, foxes, and coyotes.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 2, Atomic Cafe

Iced Chai and a cookie at Atomic Cafe, Beverly
Coffeeneuring ride #2 was a bit of an Errandoneur. I wanted to get my bike fixed before it became a nagging issue, but wasn’t sure where to take it in my quest to find a solid bike shop. I decided to head over the bridge to Centraal Cycle in Beverly to give them a shot.

Now, honestly, I’m not a difficult customer but I do get tired of being dismissed as a recreational cyclist. Granted, my rides these days are coffee rides and off-road adventure rides, but damn, I’ve paid my dues. In 30+ years of riding throughout the country and in Europe, from bikepacking, to endurance rides, to racing; from road to gravel to MTB, I’ve been at this for a while. It never fails, however, that when I bring my bike to a shop mechanic I’ll also get a dose of mansplaining along the way.

Yesterday, I learned that “a chain needs to be replaced because it stretches out over time”. I’m. Not. Kidding.

I was glad I took a quickie spin up to Beverly Farms and a detour over to Lynch Park to visit the gardens, before stopping at Atomic Cafe for an iced chai and a sugar cookie. The gorgeous weather and spicy, snuggly chai had me in a good mood when I brought the bike in to Centraal. I didn’t argue (much) when the mechanic insisted that my Wahoo trainer ”eats up my chain and cassette”. (I acknowledged the chain in this scenario, but not the cassette. The rear wheel (and attached cassette) sit idle in the corner when the bike is on the trainer. But whatev. I was feeling the chai.

Gardens at Lynch Park
Riley’s Rocks. A community remembrance for young
Riley Fessenden of Beverly
There’s still a lot of color left after last week’s nor’easter

Monday, October 21, 2019

King Challenge, 25 of 30

Roads like these
I had a late night on Friday, attending The Lion King on Broadway at the Boston Opera House with Mike and Chip, so getting up early Saturday morning to drive to New Hampshire was a challenge within a challenge. Still, I didn’t want to bail on the King Challenge Ride, (a charity ride for brain injury recovery), so I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 to hit the road.

I chose to ride the 30 mile route, (60 is well beyond my endurance level at this point), and planned to ride alone. The only other riders I knew, Vanderkitten Jen M. and Suzanne D., were positioned up front with the lead pack while I settled in comfortably near the rear. It was a lovely ride on country roads, passing farms and orchards, stables and barns, sparkling streams and brilliant foliage. It’s truly a gorgeous ride.

Around mile 12-14 I lost my ability to change gears. Either one of my inner cables broke or my derailleur was damaged. I’m leaning towards the former. I tried to manually move the chain to an easier gear to help with the hilly terrain, with no luck — I was permanently stuck in high gear. After two miles of riding single-speed, I checked the gps map of the route and decided to cut my ride short by taking a right on Exeter Road at mile 15.5 instead of a left, essentially trimming five miles off my ride. That’s ok. I was happy with 25.

Back at the start and the post-ride after-party, I ran into Jen and chatted with her briefly, (Suzanne was out on the 60 mile route), but I felt a little awkward hanging around and decided to just head out. I grabbed a veggie burger, changed out of my cycling clothes, and left to find coffee.

It was a lovely day and a great ride for a great cause. I’m tired, though.

Foliage along the Exeter River

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019 Begins! Ride #1, Java Sun

Coffeeneuring 2109! Ride #1 to Java Sun
I’m not sure I’ll have the mental stamina to complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge this year, but I’ve at least given it a start. I’m trying to recharge my run game, and this week started Week 4 of the C25K run program with Kristen (and Mike). I’m not always successful managing two challenges simultaneously, so we’ll see how it goes.

Ride #1 was a six mile round trip trail ride to Java Sun Coffee Roasters on the Kona. The sun was out when I left, but apparently I lingered too long over my tea and clouds rolled in while I was warm and comfy inside. It was a chilly ride home, with a nor’easter expected to hit tonight.

Sunny start, cloudy finish.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Quick trip to MML


The Blacksmith Shop Bridge, Cornish
I spent a warm-ish but overcast day in Vermont last weekend, with a quickie ride through the Cornish State Forest and some colorfully paved country roads on the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River. I didn’t have much of a plan and ended up near one of the covered bridges Chip and I have visited before. It has seen better days.

It was likely my last trip to the cottage for the year. I spent the morning at the Weathersfield Town Office in Ascutney doing a land records search on the family property, and then returned to the mountain to close up the cottage. It won’t be long before snow arrives.

View of the old barn. A reminder of its dairy farm past.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October Pumpkin Rides

The pumpkin patch has returned
October is here! Temps are reminiscent of late August but the signs of Fall are all around. While finishing up a ride on Sunday, (not encouraging for the upcoming King Challenge), I rode past the “pumpkin patch” down the street — an annual fundraiser at the Universalist church. I stopped to check out the great varieties of pumpkins on display, delivered from New Mexico the day before — white, green, yellow, orange, big, small, round and squatty. So fun. I had two rumpled single dollar bills on me, allowing me to purchase a small pumpkin. It’s so cute!

$2 got me this sweet little pumpkin that fit in my UD pack
Riding home with the pumpkin stuffed into my Ultimate Direction pack, I couldn't help but remember the time I rode out to Russell Orchards with Chippy during the Coffeeneurring Challenge in 2015. He wanted to bring home a pumpkin and brought his backpack along — ending up choosing two pumpkins for the trip home. Hahahahahaha.... that kid. I miss our rides together.

Coffeeneurring 2015, cider & donuts with Chip
Pumpkin #1
Pumpkin $2
The OG Pumpkin Ride, 2015

Friday, September 27, 2019

New additions to Salem’s Urban Art Museum



A coffee ride through Salem, (any of my rides through Salem, actually), brings me through The Point neighborhood, (El Punto), where an astounding collection of murals grace several dozen buildings. I’ve documented many of them here in the blog over the last three years, and now two of my favorites have been replaced by new art. Both the above photos and below are recent additions to the Deschamp Printing building on Dodge Street. I had an opportunity to meet one of the artists, Juan Travieso, while he was finishing up his painting of blue crabs on the south side of the building. (I think it’s south. My sense of direction my be off.)  I loved, loved the previous two murals on that building, and was sad to see them replaced — though the new murals replacing them are equally exciting. The crabs are just stunning. I look forward to seeing the finished mural soon.


Artist Juan Travieso takes a minute from his work for me to
take his photo. A very talented and gracious artist.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Slow September

Nahant Wharf on a summer-like day.
Despite good intentions, I’ve had a slow roll into Fall.  The King Challenge is still on my calendar, now five weeks away, yet I’m still unmotivated to get on the road bike. The same could be said for running, with Grace’s Run, (a fundraiser in honors of  Coach Shayne’s baby daughter), also weighing on me. I’m in a slump.

I’ve been multitasking a few non-athletic endeavors; overseeing carpentry work being done on the house, to be painted this fall; taking possession of my (great) great grandmother’s antique loom, (currently unassembled), and learning how to weave; writing a resume to kick off a job search, (I’d like to start working again!); and taking care of legal responsibilities related to the cottage in Vermont. All have been distracting me from running and/or riding, although none are really a good excuse.

I rode out to Nahant on Monday but it didn’t really shake my current malaise. I think I’m just tired.

First step in my project to restore my grandmother’s loom.
Learning how to weave at Circle of Stitch’s, Salem

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Summer, summer, summertime


How can the summer be over when it just started?! Chip started school yesterday, (his senior year!), and Will left for Ann Arbor this morning. The time just goes way too fast — the days are getting shorter and the temps are starting to cool... ah well, get cooler, anyway. It’s still hot. 

I’ve been getting in some short road rides and a few trail rides here and there but nothing too heavy. Since Alaska it’s been a lazy summer for me — a few weekends in Vermont, a trip to Montreal, and an occasional ride or run. (My running really took a hit in July).. Soon the weather will change and I’ll be back at it. I have a few 5Ks and a road ride (the King Challenge) on the calendar, so I need to get ready for that. I’m starting to see some of my former athletes returning to Zwift, and should take their lead and get back at it before they notice I’ve been slacking. Even my nutrition took a dive these last eight weeks. Time to rein it in. The dog days of summer are (almost) over.





Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The friends who make your world

Best of friends
Jennifer, Cate, Amy, Lila, Kristen, Alison, me, Lisa
July was a whirlwind of activity — the beginning of summer often is — so I took my time posting about Alaska. I’m still playing catch-up.

Immediately after returning to Boston, we had family staying with us from Norway, I spent a weekend in Vermont, and then got busy with summer activities. I fell out of a running routine, but more on that later.

First things first — I want to jump back to the day I landed in Boston after 16 hours of traveling from Alaska. (Anchorage to Seattle to Detroit, (on a red eye), and eventually to Boston.

The end of my Alaska trip was emotionally draining relative to Julia and the unsettled feeling she left me with. I was angry, disappointed, and sad, but had no regrets about ending our friendship. Still, I was exhausted from all of it.

I left Anchorage on a Monday morning, with several stops ahead in my itinerary, (aka the cheapest flights). I didn’t get much sleep, but there were no delays and the flights were easy.

When I landed in Boston early on a Tuesday, with plans to take the train and bus from Logan to Swampscott, I was shocked when I found Amy waiting for me in baggage claim, with Jennifer waiting in the car, curbside, with coffee! Oh my god, I cried. I couldn’t help it. I cried. I was just so shocked to see them.

(They had texted Will for my flight info and even asked him how I take my coffee. Ohmigosh, I’m still in disbelief.)

After all of the duplicity that transpired with Julia during race weekend, TRUE FRIENDS came through and picked me up, literally and figuratively. I’m so humbly grateful to both of them. They are the best, and I’m so damn lucky to have genuine friends in my life — Amy, Jennifer,  Lila, Alison, Cate, Kristen, and Lisa. (Ingrid, too.) Damn lucky.

“Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.” (William James)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Alaskaman DNF Meltdown


As I wrap up my posts from Alaska, I find I need to address what initially brought me there -- the Alaskaman XTri. It’s hard to write a race wrap-up to a race I didn’t compete in, but the 4 days I spent with Julia during Alaskaman are ones I’ll happily put behind me. In short, they were regrettable. I’d trained for this event to support a friend I’d known for several years who, as it turns out, I didn’t really know at all. Very unfortunate. I could go into details of how things unfolded during those four days of insanity but I don’t want to go there. Airing dirty laundry is not what I do, nor is it worthy of my energy. Instead, I’ll remember the AMAZING solo adventures I had exploring Alaska and leave it at that.

Take the high road. The view is better.

Alaska is forever in my heart.