Thursday, September 30, 2010

so pleasant an effect on the feelings

 "There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October."
-  Nathaniel Hawthorne

September is a beautiful month here in Maine, but it still feels like summer on some days, and it's a little hectic with the start of school, and September reminds of me a little bit of the sadness of death even though I know it doesn't mean to.  October, though, is the magical month, and it starts tomorrow!  In October, we are in a routine and there is no anxiety about new beginnings.  And the sweaters and fleece and cute scarves get to come out of the closets.  And in October I gave birth to my first baby, so the smells in the air and the color in the trees makes me feel like I felt then.  October means pumpkins and squash, planning a birthday party,  baking with apples, running marathons, making soup.

The "color trees," as Reed calls them, are getting bright and beautiful, and will probably peak within two weeks.  When I drive around and have this feeling that the world could not be more lovely, I also think "hold onto this!" as I know what is coming in the months after October.  So just like, if you've been with me for a while, you know I get really whiny about March, please forgive me for waxing poetic about October in Maine for the next month.  I'll head out with my camera this weekend to show you the splendor. 

Yesterday I spent the whole day with my mom while she had cataract surgery.  After she came out of recovery, we were driving home on route 202, this lovely stretch of road that I have meant to photograph for three years, where the colors are really brilliant right now and there is a meadow full of Holsteins and rolling hills behind and the sun was extra golden.  I said:  "Mom!  Just look how gorgeous that is!" 

She said:  "I can't see anything."  Right.  Nice one, Emilie.  She's doing well, by the way, and her vision should be much improved just in time for leaf peeping.

Meanwhile, after trying at three different stores, I got myself a new pair of Kayanos yesterday in my size and only had to abandon one planned run.  It turns out that (thanks to the data kept in Log Your Run) I had run 484 miles on my old pair, so I was ready for new ones anyway.

I guess I forgive you.

Skyler definitely isn't holding a grudge.

While I was at the shoe store, I couldn't help getting a pair of these for Reed.
They are a pain in the ass to lace up, but so so worth it.  And I thought Reed was pretty cute before he had blue converse high tops. 

It's Thursday!  Let's wrap this week right up and get out there into October! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

bad dog, jackson.

Doesn't he look sorry?

It's my fault.  I should know better than to leave my shoes lying around.

Off to go shoe shopping!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Overheard this week.

After I told Skyler that I miss her and Reed whenever I'm not with them, she says:
"Then why are you always saying:  'Sam, could you please take the kids?'"

After I told Reed that if he didn't brush every night, his teeth would fall out:
"Then I'll just eat ice cream."

Reed, flipping through the hymnal at church:
"Now, which one is the Spiderman song?"

Skyler's good question:  "Mom... if the earth is round, how do you explain cliffs?"

Skyler to Me:  "I wish we believed in Barbie."  (we don't)

Skyler to Jackson (our dog):  "I'll let you out of your kennel as soon as you say sorry. Say it!"

Me to Reed:  "We do not pee in our boots!"

Sam to Reed:  "Manharts do not put their hands down their pants in the middle of the road."

Me to Reed:  "Do you feel bad about breaking my bowl?"
Reed:  "No. Actually I feel good."

Is it really only Tuesday?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday at the Orchard

Sunday, September 26, 2010

just a glimpse

I had such a wonderful day on the island, reuniting with my old friend Sandy and helping her photograph a gorgeous wedding.

Sandy and I are really even in touch at all thanks to facebook, which, as annoying as it can be, is responsible for re-connecting me with some friends I would have probably lost in the post-high school shuffle.  Sandy and I were friends through middle and high school.  We had no idea what the world had in store for us. We were just a couple of kids in the Michigan suburbs, looking for something to do on the weekends.   It was wild to sit face to face after 19 years.

Sandy is now an accomplished photographer and world traveler who lives on an island in the south of France with her boyfriend whose name is (get this) Olivier (say O-liv-ee-ay).  In other words, damn, girl.

We had to speed-talk to get caught up with the last 19 years; I already knew some of her details and she knew some of mine thanks, as I said, to facebook, blogs, websites, email.  We both lost our fathers to cancer which I'd say is our most poignant intersection and which accounted for much of our conversation yesterday.  I was with her from noon until 11 pm, when I forced myself out the door so that I would stay awake on my drive home, but we were talking talking talking until her hotel door shut behind me.  I guess I just need to go to France to keep talking and meet this Olivier and so I can say his name some more.

Here is a glimpse of our day.  Photographing a wedding (in Sandy's very cool journalistic style) looks like a lot of fun and is a lot of work.  My feet were tired by the end of the night, but I learned a lot.

Here we are on site.

I can show you a few shots I got on my camera throughout the night.  I was using one of Sandy's cameras, but had mine around my neck as a back up.  Between the two of us with 4 cameras, we shot more than 5,000 photos.

Packing up the equipment and getting a crash course in wedding photography.
The property:  Ocean front, tall grass meadows, brilliant light, and a mowed path that leads down to the water.  The bridal procession walked from the house (where I was standing) down that path as the ceremony was beginning.  Stunning.

In the reception tent, setting up.  This wedding is also going to be featured in a magazine for its green-ness.  It was environmentally friendly and showcased local food and flowers.

This fine Maine day, after a foggy and rainy start, gave us the gift of dramatic skies:
And dramatic light:

I shot this before the tent became a sea of dancing, happy, toasting people.  Think 2010 version of The Great Gatsby, lots of fun dresses and hats and cocktails.

I was only an hour away from home, but yesterday was one of those days that felt like I got to take a short trip away from my life.  It was fun to be inserted into a whole new scene of people I didn't know, and get a taste of what a different career would feel like.

I was so impressed with my professional, confident friend.  I'd go to work with her again tomorrow.

I got home after midnight to find a clean, quiet house full of my sleeping family.  And now everyone is up and there is coffee downstairs waiting and kids that need my snuggling.  Back to (my very sweet) reality.

Friday, September 24, 2010

five things on friday

I'm zapped right now after a long week.  Here are five random pieces of news.

1.  I just finished cooking up a storm and then cleaning it all up, and once I finally sat down after not sitting down since I walked in the door from school, I just got really, really tired.  I've had like 3 sips of wine and I'm about to put my face down on my keyboard. Tonight I made a double batch of Carrot-Cashew Curry and a double batch of home made Naan bread and a double batch of Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars.  I'm delivering one each of everything to my friend Jody in the morning who just had her 3rd baby.

2.  I've been cooking a lot but haven't been blogging it because by the time I finish, it's dark, and I hate dark or flash photos of food.  I'll try to cook during the day on the weekends so I can post recipes, because don't you hate cookbooks that don't have photos?

3.  I had a great, beautiful, crisp, fall 6 mile run yesterday on one of my favorite routes, but I almost got hit by cars that got too close to me about four times.  I came home and vented about it on facebook and got a whole bunch of comments from people who have the same experience.  Why does it make people so angry when you are running on the road?  Why do people feel the need to flip me off or lean on the horn when they, God forbid, have to move 1 foot over to avoid me?  Be careful out there, runners.  Wear bright colors and stay on the shoulder if you aren't sure a car sees you.  I also suggest smiling and waving at mean, angry people.

4.  I'm feeling super nostalgic for last fall when I was gearing up for my first marathon in San Francisco.  Therefore, I've been thinking a lot about what I might do next year in terms of races.  I'm very unpredictable about the marathon thing.  One week I say I've decided that 2 is enough I'm done with marathons, and the next week I'm ready to register for one next spring.   If I had decided right this second, I'd say yes, let's do it again.  So we'll see.  I'm also thinking of training for a Half-Ironman at some point.  I was talking this all through with Sam the other night and I said:  "I'm either going to train for a Half Ironman and get another tattoo, or we're going to have another baby. Totally up to you."

5.  Tomorrow I'm doing something so cool.  My friend Sandy, whom I went to high school with, is a photographer who lives in Paris, and she was hired by a couple in Maine to photograph their wedding and I am going be her assistant.  So, I get to spend the whole day with an old friend on a really fancy estate near Southwest Harbor on the Island, and I get to learn a lot from Sandy who is an amazing photographer.  Should be a very interesting and exciting day.

I'm really sleepy now.  I'll be back with a weekend report!  Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

maybe you can relate with one of these.

You know you are a mother to little ones when you regularly have snot on your pant leg, and in your purse you have one squooshed granola bar, a "special" rock, and two broken crayons. 

You know you are a runner when you zero out your odometer and then drive to school, home, to the grocery store, to the gym, back home again, and then you notice that you still haven't even driven 26.2 miles and you think:  "Damn, I'm amazing."

You know you are a teacher when someone stops you on the street for directions, you tell them, and then you stop and say:  "Okay, so once again..." and then you repeat the directions.  You are tempted to ask:  "Any questions?"

You know you are an English teacher when you have to constantly restrain yourself from correcting apostrophes in other people's facebook statuses.  And when someone writes:  "GO SPARTAN'S" it is so so so hard not to comment that clearly Michigan State isn't teaching basic grammar. 

You know you are a blogger when your kids make a play-doh creation and then arrange it on the table and ask you to get the camera.

{add your own!}

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grandparents Day!

Last Friday was Grandparents Day at Reed's preschool.  And seriously, what is more exciting to a 3-year old than to have your Omom show up at your classroom door?  My mom reports she got a huge running leap into the arms.  Beat that.

Here are some of the photos from the day.

Last week was "apple week" and this day they made apple pie.  Here Reed gets to stir the pie filling.  He looks so calm!
And then he sat and listened to a story!  Miraculous!  I like to joke about how Reed is a different child for us at home, about how he bounces off walls and screeches and pulls the tail of the dog.  At school he's calm and kind and patient and (this one gets me every time) soft spoken! His teacher swears it.

My mom confirms that Reed is a super-well-behaved boy at school.  And as exhausting as he can be at home, I'm happy/pleasantly surprised/bemused by his ability to be good and calm for his teachers.  Good boy, Reedo!

It's Wednesday!  And over the hump we go...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

going greener!

We've come a long way from our first smoothie video when we were using mostly fruit and juice and a few greens. Look what my kids will drink now! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

all you have to do is do it.

Okay all of you "I think I want to be a runner too..." people: Grab your tissues and lace up your running shoes.

So inspiring, right?!

Post-race picnic.

After the MDI Half, we packed up and drove out to Echo Lake.  Sitting on these very rocks 10 years ago, Sam and I wrote our wedding vows together a few months before our wedding.  We love this spot.

Saturday, we stretched out on the rocks and warmed ourselves in the sun, ate lunch that we got from the delicious cafe Tamarind in Bar Harbor, while the kids climbed around, explored, and even swam a little.

We met up with our good friend Josie and got to meet her partner Jennifer. They showed up with a huge green smoothie for lunch (our people!). 

Josie and Sam were in the English grad program here at UMaine so she was among our very first friends when we moved here.  Josie and Jennifer both live in California now, but are in Maine for a few months.   Josie is a published poet. Here is her book.   How cool is that?  
living must bury

Sam did a swim.  See him out there?

And the kids were really happy feeding ducks.  Check out Reed's enormous belly. 

When I told Josie and Jennifer we wanted to have them over for dinner, they reminded us that they are vegans who are also allergic to wheat and tomatoes; I was immediately up for the menu-planning-challenge while Sam said "You are a couple of pains in the ass."  And Sam can get away with such talk with his great friend Josie. 

Josie and Jennifer with Skyler.

We loved seeing you guys...  and now we really want you to COME FOR DINNER! I can totally cook a vegan, wheat free, tomato free dinner for you!

New topic:
In reflecting about Saturday's race, I realized that I didn't cry at the finish line!  That is the first race I can remember that I didn't at least heave one sob.  Not sure what this says about me as a runner...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Race Report: MDI Half Marathon

I think you can tell by this photo that I had a good finish today... but let's back up a little.

Conditions were perfect for the MDI Half.  This is my third year running the race, and every year we have had a real September stunner of a day, crisp, sunny, and perfect temps, between 55-60 degrees. 

Jen, Susan and I drove to Bar Harbor at 6:15 this morning and got to the MDI YMCA in plenty of time to get our bibs and shirts, to stretch and chat with the other runners we knew.

I can't say today was an easy race.  I had to work hard through almost all of the course and never just coasted through any of the miles.  But I did learn a lot, as I do in every race.

I learned that while most people perform better in races because of the push of adrenaline,  I've decided that I can actually run better/ faster/ easier in training runs without the excitement of a race.  I get myself worked up with adrenaline at the starting line and my breathing never totally settles down. 

I also learned that my running is solid enough that I can have a day that doesn't feel great, and still hold onto a reasonable pace.  Reed is sick with some nasty congestion and cough, and I felt some twinges of it myself today, some tightness in the chest.  I also had some sharp knee pain that came and went.  But still,  I wanted to stay in the 10:15/ mile range and I did okay with that goal.  I'd like to tell you that I'm confident enough in my half-marathoning abilities that I never had any doubts or bad thoughts or wanted to quit.  Someday, I'll be able to tell you that.

There are three hills on the course.  The first one is at mile 2 and lasts about 1/2 mile.  After mile 3, the course hops onto the Carriage Trails, a wide groomed dirt path that wraps around Eagle Lake.  It is really so gorgeous and I wish I could show you some photos.  The next hill is a full-mile gradual climb at mile 7.  I stayed with Jen and Susan until mile 7 and then we ended up spreading out. I took a one minute walk break up the hill at mile 7 as my knee was really bothering me.  Mile 8 is a long, lovely gradual down hill and it felt soooooo good.  The Carriage Trails end at about mile 10.5 and it isn't long until the worst hill, a fairly steep grade at mile 11.  At 11.5 you crest the hill and then it's down, down, down all the way until the end.  At the 13 mile marker, you turn onto the YMCA's soccer fields and into the finish line chute.

Sam and the kids arrived in time for the finish.  Sam got a great shot of Susan cruising in, wearing her classic black and white attire.

I have to say, it makes me really happy to see smiling photos of myself running, a reminder of how much I am getting out of all of this effort, and a nice change from the looks of misery I've seen in running photos before.
This photo cracks me up.  It looks like I'm about to flash the spectators.  Actually, the officials were yelling:  "WHERE IS YOUR BIB NUMBER?!"  And so I was pulling up my long-sleeve shirt to show them, and sent my ipod a-flying. So graceful.

My time?  A new PR!
That's a 2 minute PR from the Salt Lake City Half Marathon last April, and a 9 minute PR from this same course one year ago.  Considering it's a hilly course, I'll take that! 

I missed Jen's finish while I was wrangling kids, and I felt doubly bad because she has plantar fasciitis, a very painful running injury in the heel.  She was hurting pretty badly, but was putting on a brave face.
Love these girls. 

Here are the Garmin stats!


Mile 2:  Uphill.

Mile 7:  ALL uphill and a one-minute walking break.
Mile 8:  ALL downhill. 

Mile 12:  Big hills, losing steam, and 2 short walking breaks.
Last mile:  Lovely coast down.

Final Pace:  10:22

Calories Burned:  1573.

And now, here's the best part of today's story.

My friends Nancy and Alan, who surprised me in Vermont to cheer for me in the marathon, were running their VERY first half today.  Nancy started running from scratch 10 months ago.  She started with Hal Higdon's 30/30 plan and worked for a few months to get up to running for 30 minutes without stopping.  Last summer, together, Nancy and Alan plotted out a 10-month training plan, built up to a 5K, then a 10K, and all the way through half marathon training.  They were incredible in their perseverance and determination.  They even had a really cute count-down-to-MDI calendar in their kitchen.

And then one and a half weeks before the big day, Nancy was diagnosed with Shingles and Alan got a bad chest cold.  Nancy was on pain killers and anti-viral meds and missed work and was really miserable up until Thursday, as in 2 days ago.  But you know what?  They ran the race.  Neither of them felt great, but they did it.  And it was a sight to behold:  Parents and kids and friends with posters and cowbells and cameras.  And when we got word that Nancy was getting close to the end, I ran back onto the course to find her, said to her:  "Let's finish this up!"  and I proudly and very emotionally ran with her to the finish line.

I can't look at this without crying.  Just thinking about how hard Nancy worked and how she had every reason to NOT run it today, and she finished with a smile.

Walking off with her awesome family:
HUGE congratulations to Nancy and Alan, and thanks to the whole Marks/ Soule Family for all the cheering and love along the course.

I know these two are wicked proud, and they absolutely should be.  It was a joy to witness their feat today.

We spent the rest of the day on Echo Lake with some old friends.  That post will have to wait.  I'm about to sit down with Sam, watch Red Sox, and eat a big plate of Phad Thai and drink a beer.  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where does she get this stuff?

I love it when little kids use expressions they pick up from adults.  Skyler (5 years old) has had some good ones lately, and they sound especially funny and sassy coming from her short little self:

When I couldn't find the ketchup in the grocery store, she said to all the people around us:
"What does a girl have to do to get some ketchup around this joint?"

And yesterday, while driving through town, she said to herself:
"A 3-person motorcycle!?  Now I've seen everything."

She told me that we had to invite a certain little girl from her kindergarten class to her birthday party, because they decided to be best friends.  When I pressed her for details, Skyler said, about her new friend:  "She just cracks me right up!"

And yes, I neglected to write a whole post about it, but she DID lose her tooth last week. 

That thing was so loose it was all I could do to keep from yanking it out for her.  But she did it on her own.  "It just popped right out!"

And yes the tooth fairy visited.  And Skyler has stopped every single person we have seen in the last week to show them the little gap in her smile.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

training partners: 4-legged and virtual.

Besides my amazing running friends, I also have some new training partners.  The most fun is Jackson!  I haven't taken him for more than about 2 miles yet, but he's a great running friend.  He trots along with that happy hanging tongue.  Besides the sudden leash jerks when a cat or another dog comes into view, we're in perfect sync.

The other new training partner is virtual. {BORING ALERT.. if you aren't a runner, you probably don't care about the rest of this}.  On my new Garmin (love it!) there is a setting for a virtual training partner.  You give your "partner" a pace, and then your watch tells you if you are ahead of or behind said partner. 

When mine came out of the box, the virtual training partner was set at 9:15 min/mile and I tried to change it to 9:45 but I guess I didn't save it properly.  So, it reverted to 9:15.  I just told two people at work yesterday about this, and how it's annoying because I can't run 9:15 pace, so I'm always behind. 

The screen with the virtual training partner looks like this:
Except that mine was always saying:  "you are behind by..."

Until Monday, when by some miracle of miracles, I set out for a run, and after a mile I looked down and it said:  "you are ahead by..."  So I kept cruising along, and I stayed "ahead" and ended up BEATING my virtual training partner by finishing almost 4 miles at 9:13 pace.  Mile 2 was 9:04. which is to say, the Garmin also has magical powers and makes me run faster than I might have dared to dream.  And it wasn't a race, and I wasn't dying at the end, and I could have kept going.  (by the way, it occurred to me that the Garmin could be wrong, but I checked the averages against the overall time, and it all matches up.)

Please remember I was a 12 minute miler for about a year, and then an 11 minute miler for another year, and then last year I started to sometimes just barely crack the 10-minute mile barrier, and now this.  It makes me very happy.

I think it's the power of information.  I can't let myself just plod along at any old pace when right on my wrist I can see how fast I'm running.  This might get me into trouble in the race this weekend.  I'll need to tell my virtual training partner (is it a she or a he?  should it have a name?  discuss) to chill out and just let me run my own race.  I'm pretty sure I can turn him/her off altogether.

See, all that running data geek talk makes me love Jackson all the more.  He doesn't beep if I'm not working hard enough.  He just smiles the whole way.