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?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Donut Detox

I dub last week as “the week of the donut”.  Every day, donuts made their way into our office for a myriad of reasons:  Microsoft Teams demo/info sessions in the lobby, beginning of a system go-live week, the actual day of the system go-live, because it was a workday, because donuts are awesome.  Because, because, because.  It’s funny how quickly one can acclimate to something new (might be a surprise to some that donuts are not usually an everyday thing for me).  Acclimating to Florida heat and humidity has been a bit more of a process, but today showed great progress!

As I’ve written previously, I’ve been slowly working myself into becoming an early morning runner to beat the height of the heat and humidity.  This morning, I chose to forego the 4:30 am wake up call and opted for more sleep and some Saturday morning lounging.  Heading out around 9am, I figured it would be somewhat of a sufferfest, but the additional sleep and lounging was worth the later morning heat.

What happened next was a pleasant surprise and proof that I truly am acclimating to my new climate.  If you’ve been following along, you know I’m not a routine “running split sharer”, but today felt so good I had to share!  After 5 weeks of concerted effort to run consistently during the work week, to obey the early wake up calls, to adjust to the sensation of breathing through a straw, to tolerating the waterfalls of sweat, to trust the lead legs unaccustomed to the consistency, and even to pick myself up immediately after falling hard off the donut wagon….THIS>>>

My long run tomorrow should complete my donut detox.  Come Monday, let’s see if I can acclimate to a week with no donuts, shall we?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

In the habit of changing a habit

They say just change one thing and that thing will help change a habit.  So, if one thing works, how about three?

Wakey wakey!
Since moving to the sunshine state, I've quickly realized that I must become a morning runner.  Unless I want to spend every running moment on the treadmill, this is becoming my norm.

And that’s just the weekdays before work.  When I go longer on the weekend, the wake up call is closer to 4:30 am to allow for some food, a drive to join other runners, and some wake up time.   It’s just too hot during the day to get a good, quality run in.  Then, add the humidity and afternoon thunderstorms.  The risk of not getting out increases by the minute.  I know that this is normal for many, but I’m not a morning person.  The struggle is real.

Extra bonus:  I get to see both sunsets AND sunrises!

Chicken Humid Soup for the Soul

And speaking of humidity, that shit is real here.  At 6 am this morning, my trusty weather app reported humidity at 95%.  Talk about soupy.

We’re well on our way to acclimating to it, though it takes awhile to cool down post run.  I gotta believe this will make me stronger when the temperature/humidity lowers.

Extra bonus:  my skin has never looked/felt better!

Running on empty 

Coke and peanut butter toast – the breakfast of champions!  This is my breakfast go-to and one that is fairly predictable when it comes to preparing for my run.  This hasn’t been as difficult to acclimate as I would’ve thought.  Maybe it’s because I’m only running 3-4 miles during the week or maybe it’s because I’m still half asleep while syncing up my Garmin.   I still crack open a Coke (that’s my coffee) so I do get a little jolt to jump start my still-asleep brain.

Extra bonus:  no digestive emergencies and a little more sleep!

Changing any habit can be difficult, but the rewards are mounting:  I feel better physically and mentally (maybe notsomuch at 4:30 am, but definitely after running), enjoy the morning running time with Scott, revel in the gorgeous sunrises, feel like I’ve got a leg up on the day by 6:45 am, and have the whole evening after work to chase the sunsets!  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Run Down Memory Lane

As I’ve been unpacking and organizing our new home, I recently came across my past running logs.  Honing in on years 2012-2014, I recalled fondly what a great three years’ worth of running I had.  2012 represented my leap into the ultra distance, tackling my first 50 miler at Stonecat.  2013 was my prep year for even farther distances, bringing me into 2014.  2014 was the year of Ghost Train 100.  All of those memories neatly documented in my running logs.  All of those memories now haunting me.

The last two years have found me less and less focused on running.  In fact, I just hadn’t been enjoying it much.  I swore last year was the year I’d return to Ghost Train to improve my time and run it with less pacer support.  But almost from the beginning, I didn’t have the hunger.  The usual badass Lisa wouldn’t have thought twice about heading out in wind/snow/blizzard/locust attack, but not this time.  Eventually, I admitted to myself that I was sorely lacking the mental fortitude needed to train for (let alone complete) a 100 mile run.  So I downgraded my race day distance to 50K, allowing a more manageable distance and the privilege to run with two different friends attempting new distances.

Now that I’m living in Florida, I no longer have any cold weather excuses.  I’m happy to say that, more and more, I WANT to run again, but now I feel like I’m starting over.  This is where the “memory haunting” comes in.  Knowing where I’ve been is something I celebrate often, but boy it’s hard when a 3 mile run feels like torture – both in the legs and the lungs.  Yet, memories remind me that I once gutted through a 100 mile race.  But that’s what happens when you stop running.  It’s part of the process.  So what am I doing about it?

I’m getting out.  And I’m running.  It’s slow, but it’s still running.

Not a morning person, I’m trying really hard to get out at least twice a week before work.  I gain a special viewing of the sunrise, beat the heat, avoid the afternoon thunderstorms, and don’t get caught up in the “shiny object syndrome” of finding other things that just have to be done after work.  Scott’s been a huge inspiration, getting me up and out.  The other inspiration comes in the form of how I feel on those days I get up and out for a run before work - happy.  I’m even feeling inspired to register for a race…

Time sure is flying.  The time is now to get moving again, to enjoy this beautiful SWFL outdoor living, to explore the trails, and to create a 2018 running log that makes the top #3 running years the next time I “run” down memory lane!

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Gifts of Relationships

Last week, I left my job for a new opportunity in a new state.  I’ve been here for almost two years; learned lots and met some great people.  I’ve done this several times during my lifetime and find that leaving the job is the easy part. 

This change also means I’m leaving my running club/family that I’ve grown so close to over the last two years.  This is something I have never done (since this is the first time I have joined a running club), but leaving it (physically) is difficult.  Talk about relationships…running relationships are special.

Leaving relationships behind is so hard.

The last two weeks have included lots of work transition, home purging/packing, going away lunches, going away runs, and lots and lots of gifts!  My "spirited" team surprised me with balloons, cupcakes, a pineapple plant, and a collage of pictures, reflecting all of their "seasons".  Topping that off was a hilarious, yet touching, poem.

My morning commute has sent me straight into Mt. Monadnock's path every morning.  I have stowed away many sunrises, sunsets, and snow peaks into my memories.  

My friends know me well, presenting me with a perfect reminder of this gentle giant, "Mt. Monadnock 3165 Ft".  I can't wait to hang this sign in my new home (no mountains where I'm going!).

Great memory of an evening Super Moon hike up Mt. Monadnock with running friends who became much more than running friends.

Our Scores Running Club family sent us on our adventure with a pair of beach towels that we can't wait to show off on the beach.  

And just before our club run Tuesday night, this beauty: 

Gifts may come in the form of luncheons, cards, plants, and goodies, but the greatest gift of all is the relationships we build and foster and take with us along our journeys.  I'm humbled by the gifts of these relationships.  I will carry them all with me.  Always.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Hug at Hellcat

“Go get Purple….” 

This past weekend, Scott and I jetted off to Jacksonville, FL for a long weekend.  We explored the city and the beaches and found ourselves a trail race to run.  The race, Hellcat 10K/30K/50K, was held on Saturday morning and was comprised of a 10K loop around historic Lee Field in Green Cove Springs.  This is the home of the US Navy’s F6F Hellcat fighter from WWII.  The website described the course as “no roots or rocks” and “runners will go thru scenic cypress swamps with an abundance of wild life to include gators, deer, bear”.

Gators?  Gulp.

There was no elevation to speak of, which also meant the swampy areas were almost level with the trail we ran on.  I kept a watchful eye on anything resembling the aforementioned gators.

6.2 miles of flat, root-less, rock-less trails….easy, right?  Well, normally I would’ve said yes.  What’s not been so normal is that I haven’t been doing all that much running lately.  I figure the desire to jump back in, really run, and register/train for races will return.  It always does.  So for this race, I was purely there to enjoy a destination run and hang out with running peeps in a different state.

Per standard race protocol, I started out on the faster side.  With Scott running alongside, it was natural to try to match his pace.  I kept the pace for a couple miles and started to feel my lack of running around the half way mark – both lungs and legs.  I stayed at a touch slower pace for the next couple miles, praying for it to be over.  Not necessarily the run itself, but the terrible feeling of knowing I can do so much better.  So, I felt all the feelings as I continued kicking my own ass for the final two miles. 

It was at about mile 5 that Scott uttered those words, “Go get Purple”.  Breathless, tired, and sprinkled with discouragement at how I felt, I gasped, “I don’t know if I have it today”.  But of course Scott never heard that since my words were probably drowned out by my lungs screaming in protest.  So I continued running, with a new found focus on “Purple”.  Slowly, I crept up on “Purple” until I was passing her.  Finally entering the finish chute, I stopped my watch, came to a halt, and willed myself to not throw up.

Now, I’m not usually this dramatic when describing a race.  But this was how it truly went down.  Feeling out of shape, wondering if I would finish, and discouraged at even having those thoughts was a huge weight on me.  As I collected my finisher medal, I came to my senses and remembered how grateful I am to be able to run.  

I suddenly spotted “Purple” who finished shortly after I did and approached her, “Hey there, just want to thank you for being my rabbit out there.  You really helped me”.  That’s when “Purple” turned to me and said, “Oh my God, thank you so much for saying that.  Can I hug you?  Seriously, you have no idea what that means to me!”.  So along with my hard fought medal, I was also awarded a sweaty hug from a grateful stranger at Hellcat.

Seems I wasn’t the only one struggling out there.