Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Friday, December 21, 2018

Everyone needs a "Papa"

Whenever I meet someone new, I wonder why that person has crossed my path and becomes a part of my journey.  Twenty or so years ago, our paths crossed with Sue and Wynn.  Liked them from the start!  We share a love of running, enjoyment of Patriots football games, and just being in each other’s company.  Through the years, we’ve been a part of countless parties, football gatherings, running events, important family moments, and endless days at the beach.  What we hadn’t counted on when we gained such wonderful friends was that we also gained a “Papa”.

Papa is Wynn’s dad.  This man welcomed us into his family with hugs, with stories, with generosity, with kindness, and with a hearty laugh.  Whenever we arrived at a family event, he smiled broadly and welcomed us as he’d welcome the rest of his family.  When they lived in Jacksonville, he insisted we use their car and their house while we were there.  We even had our very own “height measurement line” drawn on the garage wall, next to the other family members’ height measurements.

Papa passed last night.  It’s never enough time.  There are never enough smiles or hugs or stories to be told.  Everyone should have a Papa, whether by blood or by friendship, to show them the value of family, laughter, and love.  I know this is exactly why he was part of my journey.

Thank you Papa, I’ve got a special place in my heart and memories just for you. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

How do YOU respond when things don’t go according to plan?

It’s easy to respond positively when things go according to plan.  The race you want to PR at; and you do.  Perfect weather for your vacation; and it happens.  It’s when things don’t go according to plan that the response speaks volumes about the person or the organization.

I’ve been running somewhere around 20 years.  That’s 20 years of running clothes, running shoes, and miscellaneous running accessories.  I’ve been a loyal Asics customer for that same period.  I did try a random New Balance and a Saucony shoe, but the Asics just fit.  So, I stayed with what worked for me.  Back in August, I ordered my next pair of shoes, but due to some pretty low mileage (and throw a state relocation from NH to FL in the mix), I really wasn’t covering the mileage I usually would. 

Over the last couple weeks, I noticed part of my shoe seemed to be separating.  What?  First, I hadn’t been running a ton of trails or rocky areas and generally, I hadn’t been hammering my shoes like I have in the past.  What gives?  In no time, the separation grew into a 1-inch sized hole!

With only about 200 miles on my shoes, I knew this wasn’t normal.  So, I jumped onto Asics’ website, easily found their ‘warranty claim’ link, and filed a claim.  I needed to include some photos and a receipt, but the process was very easy.  Within a very short time, I received an email:

The process to order my new shoes with the promotion code was also quick and easy.  Now, I’m excitedly awaiting my new shoes, being shipped in 2 days with free shipping.  The easy warranty process, the fast response, and the fantastic customer service makes me not only want to continue using their products, but also makes me want to share how great they are.  

Well done Asics!  And just in time for my registration for another race....:)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Expect the unexpected - Caloosahatchee Ultra

Last spring when we moved to southwest Florida, I found the Caloosahatchee Ultra and decided it would be a great goal race to keep me moving.  Within a drivable distance, its three 10.5-mile loop course sounded like a perfect opportunity to play on the trails on a Saturday in December.

I put together a standard training calendar and set out to train for the 50K distance I hadn’t run since Ghost Train (30) back in October 2017.  I quickly realized the heat and humidity of southwest Florida was no joke.  Scott and I slogged through many training runs, but I struggled with sticking with it. 

Team Smedz!
In July, our friends Brad and Jenelle were lured decided to register for this race.  Brad was ready to tackle the ultra-distance and Jenelle was ready to tackle a new long distance.  A fun long weekend began to take shape that would include carbo loading, running, and celebrating.  This is also when Caloosahatchee Ultra was fondly nicknamed the Hootchie Cootchie Ultra.

Race day morning felt oddly comfortable, with a light shower early on, lots of cloud cover, and a refreshing breeze.  The forecast warned that would be short lived, so we came armed with all the fluids, all the salt tabs, and all the attitude to cover a hot 50K.

Although Scott and I scoped out the trails about a month prior, we only covered about half of the trails.   The portion of the trails we didn’t cover were the hardest portion.  There turned out to be lots of ups and downs, with a healthy number of switchbacks.  At one point, I had to use my hands to steady myself on the steepest climb.  Yes, I said climb.  In Florida. 

Team Action Jackson
I expected it to be warm, but with everyone telling me “It’ll cool off and be beautiful”, I wasn’t quite expecting humid mid-80’s on December 1st.  I also expected this run to be hard.  Remember the difficult training cycle previously mentioned?  Yeah, nothing like feeling undertrained for a 50K.  There’s no avoiding that level of ouch.

I hoped I wouldn’t see any scary wildlife and although there was a rattlesnake sighting (quickly relocated by a park ranger), I only saw one other snake sunning himself on the trail.  I tip toed right by him.  After the first four miles, I essentially ran this race solo.  I enjoyed the peaceful trails, but I don’t know what I would’ve done had I come across the rattlesnake on my own.  EEEK!

One of these is real.....

Award time!
The four of us set out with our goals and left it all out there at Caloosahatchee.  Brad nailed his first 50K distance and Jenelle rocked her distance PR with 21 miles for the day.  And Scott?  He killed it, placing 3rd overall and top master finisher!  One of the beautifully handmade awards I had been drooling over at the start of the race was now coming home with Scott.  Me?  I finished with tears in my eyes.  Physically, I was ill prepared for the distance and the course.  Mentally, I felt like I broke through a mental wall that had slowly been building over the last two years.  I’m thrilled with my day.

Expect the unexpected at Caloosahatchee Ultra!  The race director and team put on a great race!  I highly recommend it – whether the 50K or the 25K option.  There’s no way to get lost and there’s a very generous time cut-off.  And as hot as it felt when we were running in the fields, we had significant tree cover during much of the course.   They offered maximum food, beverage, fun, and personalized attention.  Brad’s day was made when a volunteer had a coffee waiting for him the next time he came into the aid station!  And how many race directors sign your friends in and immediately recognize them as “Hey, it’s New Hampshire!”

Caloosahatchee Cheers!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A dose of mental training

I remember the first time I ran a double loop marathon.  I thought it would be hellish.  I remember when I ran my first ultra, Stonecat 50, comprised of four 12.5 mile loops in the woods.  And who could forget Ghost Train, where I ran/walked/slept-walked 100 miles via 6.6667 out-and-backs on an old rail bed.  Physical training is key, but mental strength is what I rely most on.

This morning, I decided to run my ten miles within the confines of my little community.  That meant loops.  Three loops to be exact.  I had that same hellish thought about running loops, but figured it could only help me continue to strengthen my mental toughness as I head to the Caloosahatchee Ultra (a three loop course) next week.

The transformation in my thoughts from the first loop through the third is pretty typical –

Loop 1:

- OMG, I suck
- And I call myself a runner
- I give up
- Why is this so hard
- And I have a race in one week

Loop "split": 

Stopped at my house, took a few moments, received encouraging words from Scott and a tail wag from Bella.  Time to get my body AND my mind in gear!

Loop 2:

- OK, nothing hurts so lock it up
- Whoa, this feels better
- GU & salt tabs are indeed magical
- Starting to feel strong again
- I may actually make ten miles afterall
- No I WILL make ten miles
- I’ve got this

Loop "split": 

When I returned home for the second time, Scott commented about my smile.  #thingsarelookingup

Loop 3:

- I can’t believe I feel so much better
- I’m so proud of turning this run around
- I'm so glad I pushed past the 3 mile mark
- Hm, pace feels comfy
- I could definitely go farther
- Can’t wait to rock tomorrow’s run
- Go me

Now if someone can just remind me next Saturday to skip right to Loop 3 thoughts, that'd be greatttttt!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The power in "missing"

Sleeping in.  It’s finally cooled a bit in southwest Florida, but for a solid seven month stretch, if we weren’t out running by 6:00 am, game ovah.  And an extra long weekend provides that feeling of leisure.

Running.  This morning, we opted for a nice walk with Bella and will get out there again later.  We’ll give it hell tomorrow on the trails!

Chill.  When we headed out for our walk earlier, it was breezy and almost felt a bit chilly (my New England friends are likely rolling their collective eyes).  It’s nothing like the cold frigid temperatures they’re experiencing, but I enjoyed donning a long-sleeved shirt! 

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  We realized today that we haven’t cooked Thanksgiving dinner since we’ve known each other.  Gulp, that’s over thirty years!  We’ve always joined Scott’s brother and family for Thanksgiving.  I’ve always supplied the apple pie (mostly baked; sometimes bought).  We'll always be there for Thanksgiving, whether physically or in spirit.   

Family & Friends.  I’d give anything to be able to spend every day, not just holidays, close enough to see everyone anytime I wanted – from all my different lives.  I’m enjoying new friends but missing old friends.  When I do connect with family or old friends, it’s that much sweeter.

Listening to old songs.  While preparing our turkey and fixings today, we tuned into old Casey Kasem “countdown” of songs.  From 1972!  Here are some notables heard today:
  • “Sunshine go away today, I don’t feel much like smiling”
  • “Precious and few are the moments we two can share”
  • “Song sung blue, weeping like a willow”
  • “Been through the desert on a horse with no name”
  • “I’ve got a brand-new pair of roller skates, you got a brand-new key”
  • “Who can make the sun rise, sprinkle it with dew…the Candy man can”
  • “Bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry"

Dare I even say…cold/snowy weather.  I don’t miss that as much as the other things I’ve noted, but there is a certain vibe that only a cold and snowy winter day can provide.  Cranking up the pellet stove was one of my favorite moments during the winter months.  Applying and then peeling off multiple layers of running clothes go in the notsofavorite things during winter.   But the vibe?  It’s a combination of cozy/badass/harsh/peaceful.

My blog.  I’ve missed writing in my little corner of the blog-o-sphere!  I love to write in a way that entertains, makes people laugh, or even provides some piece of wisdom I’ve learned.  But simply, I love the act of writing (thanks Mom!).  I also love being able to look back occasionally to reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve done, what I’ve learned…and how far I’ve come.

Missing all these things could and sometimes makes me sad, but the simple act of missing makes me appreciate them even more.  Even the cold.  OK, that might be a stretch.

Happy Thanksgiving to family, friends (old & new) and everyone in between!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Not bad, just different

Halloween decorations amidst the community we live in now was the first clue that holiday seasons would be very different in southwest Florida.  The pumpkin/witch/ghost decorations were typical but mixed with 80-90 degree temperatures wasn’t so typical.  Not bad, just different.

Next up:  Thanksgiving.  Fewer decorations, as most skipped right to Christmas decorations.  Not bad or different; as most people seem to start decorating for Christmas soon after Halloween.

We noticed our neighbors have already put up their Christmas tree.  Several homes have decorated with angels or lighting or Santa hats.  All the while, the fresh scent of recently spread bark mulch permeates the air.  And the grass continues to be mowed.  And we continue to apply sunscreen.  Not bad, just different.  REALLY different.

Over the last three years, we’ve embraced different.  Sometimes different feels hard, but it’s really just adjusting to where we came from.  We’re getting a lot better at recognizing that change is hard (even if it’s exciting change) and that our attitudes define whether the difference is good or bad.  We're choosing good.

There’s a lot of good we’ve experienced in this latest chapter of southwest Florida living.  There’s also a lot of missing of old friends and old running routes.  Grateful as hell that we’ve had lots of family and friends who have or will visit us in the coming months.  We give them a sunshine fix; they give us a ‘back home’ fix.  And those we haven’t seen yet, we’re lucky to live in this age of technology to stay connected until we do get to see each other again live.

Not bad, just different.  Not bad at all...

Sunday, July 1, 2018


Today was to mark my first truly long run for 2018.  I realize it’s already July, but the last time I ran 10 or more miles at one time?  Late October 2017 at Ghost Train. 

Scott and I planned out a great day:  drive to Lover’s Key, run 10+ miles on the trails, change into bathing suits, and hit the beach.  It’s all right there, so a great way to spend the day getting it all done in a beautiful state park.  Unfortunately, my first double digit run of 2018 will have to wait another week.

I had all the excuses:  it was warm at 8am when I started, I tried to keep up with Scott, and I ate all of the wrong things (including not enough) yesterday.  Womp, womp.  I felt spent almost immediately and decided to call it a day at 5 miles and headed off to the beach to wait for Scott to finish his run.

So I'll share a couple of firsts that DID happen today…..

Scott met me on the beach with stories of seeing his first armadillo, who ended up running alongside him for a stretch.  He’s seen one before in worse shape (road kill ) but never alive and well on the trails.  I guess I’ll have to wait for my first armadillo sighting for another day.

Later on the beach, suddenly everyone was pointing out to the ocean (here’s where I’m glad I happened to have been in my beach chair).  A manatee was swimming by, parallel to the coastline and everyone jumped up to watch it.   I’m not sure if those in the water nearby the gentle giant knew what was approaching them, but hopefully they figured it was something safe, since we on the shoreline were not panicking.  Still, I might have panicked a bit (ok, a lot) if a manatee swam towards me.  The manatee was a little too far out for me to get a good picture, so I just enjoyed my first sighting sans technology.

Firsts are magical.  First dates, first sighting of xyz animal, first birthday, first child, and yes, even first double digit runs.  I remember vividly my first double digit run so many years ago, while training for my first half marathon.  Even though I’ll never have another true first, you can be sure I’ll be celebrating my first double digit run of 2018 as if it were my very first!  

Who else has seen an armadillo and/or a manatee?