Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Did I just see what I think I saw?

You get used to seeing certain things and never question them.  A sunrise, a rainbow, or in our case, snow, snow, and more snow.  As I drove home in yet another storm this evening, I was laser focused on the snow ruts left by the last car to show me the way home.  Never did I expect to see a car on the other side of the highway DRIVING THE WRONG WAY!

I didn’t believe what I was seeing.  It was almost like I had to explain it in my head or rationalize it in some way.  So when that didn’t work, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911.  I’m happy to say I kept my calm and was able to clearly articulate what was happening, what exit we were near, etc.  But I was shaking inside.

Personally, I was never in danger, however I was terrified that I was going to witness a horrific head on collision.   I never saw it (thankfully) but a quick glance in my rear view mirror gave me confidence that some divine intervention in the form of a convoy of plows had taken place.  I believe that those plows may have saved lives more than my 911 call; by not only being big and bright and taking up much of the highway, but also because the convoy of plows had backed up all of the traffic that was heading towards the wrong way driver.

I’ll never understand, even in the worst of weather conditions, how you don’t realize you’re driving the wrong way on a highway.  Whether impaired, medically distressed, or just confused somehow, I think this wrong way driver dodged a bullet.  And all the cars in its path.  Phew.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

10 Steps to One Badass Adventure

Step 1 – Signing up
Back in August, I signed up for this little 20 mile race called Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler.  Yep, nothing fancy about the title and nothing to underestimate either, when you’re talking about a 20 mile race…in February…on an island…in New England.  Right, perfect recipe for one badass adventure! 

I put the teaser out on Facebook “who’s in with me?” and got 2 friends to join in on the fun. Of course it was easy to sign up in August when it was still 80-90 degrees out!  Having grown up in New England, I knew the shock of February would come soon enough.  Unfortunately, Sue couldn’t make it so it was just Carrie and me.

Step 2 – Trying Funky Foods Part I
After arriving at our hotel on Friday afternoon, we ventured out to explore Falmouth.  I spent a weekend there a few years ago when I ran Cape Cod Marathon, so I knew a couple of places that we might want to eat at.  We browsed shops, talked with some of the shop owners (got a lot of “There’s a race on the Vineyard?  Who knew?”), and found the perfect place for dinner.  I’m usually a plain pizza girl or plain with some simple chicken, but Carrie zeroed in on a funky pizza.  I was game.  After all, this was a badass adventure…. I couldn’t order plain.  We shared a yummy salad and then devoured this amazingly badass pizza.  I may need to go back just for that pizza.  Perhaps they’d do takeout from Falmouth to Georgetown??

Step 3 – Blizzard Warning in Effect
Saturday morning would come early, so there were no drinking shenanigans on tap for Friday.  We had an early wake-up call so we could manage breakfast and ferry transport over to the island.  First stop:  The Coffee Obsession (you know I don’t drink coffee, but someone needed caffeinating stat!).  I should also mention at this point, we’re now acutely aware of a blizzard watch for the exact part of the state we’re in.  Super.  Look stormy from this early morning view?  I think not, but time would tell…

Hype or real deal??
Step 4 – The Ferry
Ferry crossing = check!  However, there was a little bit of drama initially around this step.  I don’t really know the Cape very well.  With that said, I initially made hotel reservations in Hyannis.  I saw the ferry was only minutes away so figured it was a win.  What I hadn’t figured on was that they aren’t running a Hyannis-to-Martha’s Vineyard ferry.  That could’ve been a big faux pax!  Fortunately, I discovered this early enough to make other hotel arrangements closer to our ferry.  Crisis averted.

Step 5 – The Race
By the start of the race at 11:00, we already felt like we had put in a full day!  That’s the tough part about races that start later in the day.  But since this was a badass adventure weekend, we snacked on peanut butter, bagels, and bananas and focused on the 20 miles ahead of us. 

The race was very well done.  We always felt like we knew where to go, what to do, and where to get our stuff.  There were shuttles available, locker rooms with showers, food, and even live entertainment.  The crowd support was found in pockets, but honestly, I didn’t expect much of that on this little island in the winter.  We did benefit from a woman who was running behind us, since her husband and two kids drove every mile or two ahead and stopped to cheer.  So, they cheered us on too!  We gave them high fives and thanked them along the way for all their support – even if it was truly for their loved one!  Later in the “bag pickup” line, I saw this family and thanked the woman for her family’s support.  She responded with, “Yeah, you and a lot of other runners!”. 

We finished with a 3:00:46 on the clock – perfect!  This is right where we wanted to be.  Using this as a training run for a Spring ultra, we didn’t want to bring on any injuries and not be able to continue training.  So I think it was a pretty decent finish time.  And the medal and shirt were very cool!

Step 6 – Facing Down a Blizzard
Not wanting to take the later ferry, we quickly changed into warm clothes and headed for the bus.  By now, the snow was steady and the winds were howling.  And we were tired.  So when the bus dropped us all off at the ferry shuttle lot .5 miles from our hotel, we channeled our inner “badass” and walked back to our hotel.  We knew we’d be warm very soon and would be celebrating with one of these in no time…

I hadn’t eaten much that day except for a half bagel with peanut butter and this most delicious post-race snack that I got on the ferry ride home…

The man who served me this pretzel asked if I wanted salt.  I answered “extra please”
and the runner next to me chimed in with “all the salt you’ve got”
We did have to venture out one more time in the storm to get to the restaurant for dinner, but it just added to our badass adventure.  Why drive when you can “hike” through a blizzard?   And yes, we wore our medals.  We were feeling very badass and wanted everyone to know it!

Step 7 – Trying Funky Foods Part II
I had the most deliciously badass tostado ever…

We had big talk about drinks (in the plural sense), but honestly, it had been such a long day, we headed back after only one to the hotel and zoned out to the meteorologists warning us of the 14-18” we were expected to see when we awoke the next morning.  We were considered in the “jackpot” area.  No worries though because we were done venturing out and were now hunkered down in the warmth of the hotel. 

Step 8 – From Badass to Benign
The last of the food-a-palooza came in the form of a very hearty breakfast before venturing outside to assess the snow situation…

Luckily, we awoke to just a few inches of snow with brilliant sunshine!  The winds had been bad, but no loss of power and no 2 feet of snow to shovel the car out of.  We did have to remove some mini branches and twigs found sticking out of the snow encased car.  But overall, our badass weekend ended on a fairly benign note weather-wise. 

Step 9 – No Weenies!!
This was the motto of the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler.  Always fun to be around other badass runners, listening to and participating in the familiar race chatter (“Are you training for Boston?” or “I ran StoneCat the year that…”), and just hanging with a badass group.

Step 10 – Appreciating the Journey
We had a great girls weekend, ran a solid 20 miles, scored a new medal and shirt, and achieved a new level of badass attitude!  And now we’re one step closer to Salomon Trail Running Festival 50K in May!  Let the badass adventure continue…

Thursday, February 13, 2014

More snow…shocking!

Today was one of those days where the snow never stopped throughout the day.  There were times the snowflakes were light and airy; other times the snowflakes were whipped into the windows by the gusts of wind.  Brrrr.  I kept my nose down much of the day and worked.  At about 2:30, some of the troops started to leave early.  By 3ish, I was faced with the big decision:  leave with what could be the masses or stay put until the masses dissipated and the plows plowed.  I had zero interest in sitting in highway gridlock.

I chose the latter.

There is a certain peace that accompanies the aftermath of the early-escapers.  The office was super quiet with just the occasional whipping of the snow.  

Not my real office, but you get the idea!
I got quite a bit done in the next two hours and at about 5:20, decided to finally head out.  I’ll admit, I was dreading the whole ordeal of driving home in the snowy/sleeting/icy mess.  But I’m no Samantha (any Bewitched fans?), so wiggling my nose was not going to get me home.

Fortunately, I was rewarded with my decision and made it safely home and in under an hour.  Score!  Unfortunately, my normally badass SUV got stuck in the entry of our driveway.  Fail!  I was able to shovel myself a little traction and get my vehicle safely out of the street zone before a town plow moved it for me.  The rest of the evening was spent giving Bella some much needed attention – including numerous snowballs thrown at her – and shoveling wherever the snow blower doesn’t fit.  By the time Scott arrived home, he fired up the snow blower and completely cleared all areas (including the all important “trails” for Bella to do her business) by 9:30pm. 

And just before we finished up, Scott “helped” me make a snow angel (aka pushing me in the snow)...

Not bad for an old battleax like me!
It’s mid-February so it shouldn’t be shocking when it snows.  Though I’ll admit I’m a little snow weary myself at times, snowballs with Bella and snow angels with Scott do help reframe this snow blogger’s picture!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When You’re Handed Lemons…

….make lemonade, right?  When everything’s freezing around you….see the art in it!

We’re facing another decent storm, expected to come in Thursday morning and last throughout the day.  There’s an interesting snow/rain line, so that could give some of us a decent snowfall. 

The Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler should still go off on Saturday.  The plan is to head down on Friday, get situated, find dinner, get running outfits ready, get some sleep, and follow the yellow brick road...

Did I mention this is a girls event?  Yep, Scott’s staying behind to hang with Bella while we girls head off to raise some running hell on the island.  It’ll sure be interesting what kind of weather we get to run 20 miles in!  Right now, the forecast is as follows:  36 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation, 16 mph winds.  It's only Tuesday though.

Hey, what do you want for a road race in February….on an island…in New England!   I see lots of layers and wind breakers in our future.  I see lots of weather uncertainty.  And I see adventure J

When you get lemons… a 20 miler!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just “being”

Far too often, my weekends are jam packed with countless to-do’s….laundry, vacuuming, work-work, etc.  Other than my long runs, I have a hard time disconnecting from the to-do’s and just “being”.  Sunday I got to practice just “being”.

After Scott and I got our respective runs done, Scott had the great idea to head to Salisbury beach.  Beach pizza on a cold Sunday, especially a cold Sunday after an 18 mile long run?  Pick me, pick me!!  We threw Bella in the truck, grabbed hats and mittens, AND Scott’s new camera (I call it Scott’s because he has really been the one figuring out how to use it, etc). 

First stop:  Tripoli’s

I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in pizza and I DIDN’T CARE!!!  After all, I had 18 miles of caloric deficit from Saturday to catch up on.  The last piece I ate was for pure deliciousness – I was full one whole piece before!

After all that pizza, we all rolled out of the truck to play on the beach.  Bella is turning 6 years old this week and still performs a pretty impressive trampoline jump!  I guess if you think you're a puppy, you then act like a puppy...

As we exited the Salisbury Reservation area, the number of cars and camera laden people lining the road told us some cool bird was in town.  So when in Rome…..

Luckily, Scott brought along our “real” camera, so the fact that this snowy owl was perched a good 150 feet away in the salt marsh did not prevent us from getting a few good pictures.

I wonder how long ole snowy owl will sit there looking pretty?  Is he even aware of the attention he’s getting?  Questions I’ll never know the answers to.  It was cool to sit and watch him for awhile (or was it he watching us??), just as it was fun to watch Bella chase the stick over and over again.  Not thinking anything, not multi-tasking on my phone, not worrying about anything….just quietly observing nature at its best.

Owls, dogs….they sure got it right.  Just “being” in the moment, doing what they do.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Snowy Trails

Awoke to a beautiful sunny day.  Of course it’s cold, so I’m not even going to restate the obvious, but the sun certainly makes things better all around.  Bella and I decided to check out the trails and hoped the snowmobiles packed down the snow enough to be able to run (or at least walk) without too much difficulty.

Success!  Snow was packed down, though even with my trail shoes, it was tough going.  No thoughts of speed today; just wanted to move my legs a little after yesterday’s 18 miler.

Bella was in heaven!

I’ve always been a sucker for serene winter/water scenes…

3 miles of running, walking, snowball throwing, and picture taking makes one happy Lisa and one happy Lab!

Do you enjoy playing in the snow?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What I’ve been up to and where I’m headed

Lots of work.  Way too much work.  But there’s also been running.  Maybe not enough, but I’m working on it.  And a few races too.

Two weeks ago, Carrie and I ran the Derry 16 miler.  I had run it a couple of times prior, so was very familiar with the hills/mountains, the weather, and the badass feeling you get when you complete it.  It did not disappoint.  It was one of those single digit days, with a good dose of wind – you know, the kind of wind that completely freezes your face mask so it feels like sandpaper if it moves.  Yes, that kind of wind.  But it’s the race to run if you want to get stronger.

Last weekend, Scott asked to run with me – which I love, but I always worry that my slower pace kills him.  I had had a few “meh” weeks of running, so I was hoping our run would reignite a little fire in me.  It did!  We ran 15 miles, including many hills and at an 8:44 pace!  I got to run one of my favorite hilly courses that I haven’t run in a really long time, because it’s too isolated to run comfortably solo.  We talked and ran our way through 15 miles and I felt great.  Re-ignition complete!

During the week, I worked harder at getting a couple mid-week runs in on the treadmill.  I think that helped my psyche as I prepared to head into my 18 mile solo run this morning.  It was cold and a touch windy – just enough to make it feel colder than it already was.  But I layered up and refused to over think it.  Picked a figure eight course that would bring me back to my house at about mile 10, grabbed a fresh Gatorade, and headed in a different direction to finish up the remaining 8.  Awesome run J

I was extremely pleased with today’s run because of the pace consistency.  And I can easily identify/understand some of the slower miles on the elevation chart...

These longer runs are for what, you ask?  For this little gem next weekend!  I’ve always wanted to take this race for a spin!

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true either.  Because after that is this 20 miler...

And if I’m being completely transparent, there’s also this brand spanking new marathon on the agenda...

And just so things don’t get boring, I’m throwing in this half marathon in for the following week...

The pot of gold at the end of this “race lineup” rainbow?  Ta-daaaaa.....

Taking on this 50K trail race in Maine during Memorial Day weekend!   

So it behooves me to balance this work thing out sooner than later and get my butt on the treadmill, on the roads, on the trails…..wherever it needs to be so I can feel good about my training and about my ultimate experience as I work my way through this winter/spring "line up”!

How are you keeping your winter running exciting??