Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year in Review {Running Edition}

In 2010, I ran 834.5 miles, equivalent to running from my house to the North Carolina border.  Some year, I'd like to run more than 1000.

I also ran:
2 1-mile races (one with the kids, one in the mud)
1 3-mile race
2 5Ks
1 4-mile race
1 10K
1 10-mile race
4 Half Marathons
1 Marathon Relay
and 1 Marathon

I added 6 medals to my medal collection:

Yes I do have a display rack for my race medals next to my bed.

No I do not allow my kids to touch them.

After all of this running, my favorite distance has revealed itself: The Half Marathon. 13.1 is such a great distance because it's a significant physical accomplishment, requires solid training, pushes you out of your comfort zone, requires a sound race strategy and proper fueling, but does not cause severe emotional trauma or leave you limping for days after. And you get a shirt and a medal!

Here are some highlights from this year's races:

Most Stunningly Beautiful Course/ Most Fun:  MDI Marathon
I'm not the only one who feels this way;  Runner's World Magazine voted MDI Marathon the "Most Scenic" last year.  My friends and I ran this as a relay in two teams of three, running legs between 8 and 10 miles each.  The course is a point to point, covering a huge chunk of Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park.  The fall color is in full force, and there are so many take-your-breath-away views on this course it's just ridiculous.  This marathon is also known for its brutal hills and limited crowd support, but the scenery, I'm telling you, makes up for it.  The six of us had a total blast running this as a relay.

Most Inspiring:  Beach to Beacon 10K.
This race is world famous; registration opens and closes within 15 minutes.  Over 5000 people, including international elite runners, line up in Cape Elizabeth and run a beautiful course that is lined with people ringing cowbells the whole way.  It has that big-event feel of a marathon but it's only 6.2 miles.  Again, we lucked out with an unseasonably cool day in the midst of a very hot summer. I missed my sub-1-hour goal by 45 seconds this year and hope to run it again, and meet my goal, next August.  The four of us were totally riding the high of this race for days. 

Hardest/ Proudest Accomplishment:   Vermont City Marathon.  Even though I had a very hard day last May when I ran the Vermont City Marathon, I can still report that it is a great marathon (which you can also run as a relay).  Burlington is a wonderful place, and the city really comes out in full force to show support to the runners.  It's a great marathon for spectators since the runners keep threading back through the center of town, and the finish line area on Lake Champlain was very cool too.  But all I really remember is how I felt in that photo, so much pain, so much pride.

Best Small-Race Vibe:  MDI Half Marathon
This race that takes place the third week of September is capped at about 400 people, so it's small and cute.  9 miles of the course are on the Carriage Trails of Acadia National Park, wide, groomed dirt roads that run around a lake.  It's really quiet and pretty, and hilly.  I don't run particularly fast on this course, but always have a great time.  This was my third year, and I now see it as a race I just can't miss.

 Weirdest Race Ever:  The Mud Mile
Christine and I had a great time running through the mud flats on Great Cranberry Island, but the whole thing was just weird.  We had to take a ferry and then ride our bikes to the start, the race director was wearing a clown wig and a duct-tape loin cloth, and there was a drunk guy wearing a beer-can sash who tried to knock us down.  After the race, they served beer from a keg around a fire.  It was just nutty.
Best Race-Day Outfits:   At the Maine Coast Half Marathon in York in November, I was not-yet-recovered from a bad chest cold and felt lousy.  But this race deserves mention because of the pretty course along the ocean, and because we all wore our "sangria" Asics shirts and got a lot of compliments. 

Worst Race-Day Outfit/ Coldest:  Maine Mid-Winter Classic 10 Miler in February.

Now that is a good look, huh?

I was under-prepared for this cold, hilly course because I had been running on a treadmill only in the months prior.  I barely survived this one on a bleak, windy, cold day.  Will I run it again?  Probs.
Overall Favorite Race Peak Performance Maine Marathon and Half Marathon in Portland, first weekend of October.

This race, in my opinion, has it all:  beautiful scenery that includes running along the bay and running through cool neighborhoods, good crowd support, but not overwhelming wall-to-wall people, not too hilly, and an out-and-back course.  I was very surprised how much I liked the out-and-back aspect of this race, but going around that cone at mile 6 1/2 was such a great feeling.  I said to myself the whole way back:  "I'm on my way back!"
Granted, my great review of this course could be because we had perfect weather, I felt fantastic the whole way, and I had my all time PR on this course, a 2:11.27.  But still, I loved the whole feeling of this race and plan to run it again next year.

Best Pre or Post race eatery:  American Flat Bread Company

Here we are waiting for a table at the really good pizza place on the Portland waterfront after Beach to Beacon.  The all-local, organic ingredients, amazing salads, and unique combos on the pizzas made this one of our favorite ways to round out a race weekend.  I'm quite sure this restaurant will be a part of our 2011 running ritual too.

 Other things worth mentioning:

Best shirt:  Maine Marathon (nice long-sleeve tech shirt)
Worst shirt: Maine Coast Half Marathon in York.
Best post-race food:  Beach to Beacon
Most impressively organized race:  Beach to Beacon
Most runners wearing lobster costumes:  MDI Marathon
Prettiest medal:  MDI Marathon
Nicest medal:  Vermont City Marathon (it weighs like 10 pounds)
Best season for running in Maine:  (hands down) Fall
Best running group:  my friends.

So excited for 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

a year in photos {some favorites}

four cousins reunite.  August.  Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, ME
Uncle Chris demonstrates. April. Park City, UT.
my mom visits Reed's class.  September.  Bangor, ME.
Reed's new shoes.  September.  Our backyard.
fresh water babies.  August.  Lake Michigan.

happy place.  May.  Long Pond, Acadia National Park, ME.
exploring.  June.  Wonderland, Acadia National Park, ME
Aunt Lisa.  August.  Lake Michigan.

reuniting with Marjorie.  September.  Sorrento, ME.
cloud shadows with Suzanne.  July.  Mount Katahdin, ME.
I love this man who loves this child.  May.  Our Backyard.
Father's Day Love.  June.  Our Backyard.
Aunt Liesel is here!  August.  Fields Pond,  ME.
nudey.  July.  Scruton Pond, NH. 
greatest friends.  Night before the marathon.  May.  Burlington, VT.
adventuring.  July.  Great Cranberry Island, ME.
beautiful sister.  April.  Park City, UT.
suntan.  August.  Schoodic Lake, ME
storm rising.  August.  Lake Michigan.

pumpkins.  September.  Treworgy Farm, Levant, ME.

waiting for Ice Cream.  July.  Bar Harbor, ME.
there she goes.   Kindergarten orientation.  September.  hometown, ME.
Jackson's first snow.  December.  Our Backyard.
blue eyes.  November.  UMaine Rec Center, Orono, ME.

naptime.  December.  home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Race Report: a cold, cold, painful, kind of fun 5K.

This morning,  I ran a 5K called "Epic Finale 5K" as the honest-to-goodness last race of the year.

I just found out about it a few days ago and along with Jen, decided to go for it.  This morning it was bitter cold, 14 degrees, but I stuffed some hand warmers in my mittens, layered up (long underwear UNDER the running tights plus 3 layers on top) and headed to downtown Bangor.

Hmmm... doesn't look like a race is about to happen here.  That's because there were only about 75 crazies running, and because the registration was on the other side of these buildings where I thought it was. 

I found Jen and we shivered and wondered why we thought this was a good idea.

Then I found Steph, home from Colorado!

Jen and I stuck together and suffered silently next to each other.  The air was cold, cold, cold and hurt to inhale.  We both kind of felt like we were hyperventilating, especially because the race went up a 2-block hill within the first quarter mile so before we were warmed up at all, we had a hill to climb and we were sucking cold wind.  Also,  I should have put those hand warmers in my shoes because I never felt the front half of my feet.  I was running on icy stumps.  Okay, I'm being dramatic now because it was only a 5K, but still.  It hurt!

We managed to get in under 30 minutes... 29:32 (9:28 pace) which is a miracle considering how hard it felt.  For a few minutes after the race, we sat on the curb and chatted and I took off my hat and gloves and felt all warm and tingly, so immediately declared that the race was "fun" and we were "so glad we did it!"

Here is a little story on the news about today's race.

It took 30 minutes for my face to thaw out. (See red cheeks below.) By the time I got home, I was shivering again, but I took a hot shower that goes down as one of the top 10 showers of my life.  It felt so so good. 

So, that's a wrap, 2010!  Coming soon:  the running year in review, and race plans for 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

christmas, documented.

 On Christmas Eve, we cooked most of the day and then got ready for a 4:00 church service.  Not at all sure why I took this photo after they were showered and dressed but before I dried Skyler's hair.  We were a little hurried.
 We were joined by Suzanne, Ella, Maya and Suzanne's mom Jan, and of course, my mom, for Christmas Eve dinner.  We missed Sandi, a nurse in the ICU, who had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas day.   Here are the kids about to open their Christmas Eve present.
 So happy and so silly in their matching pjs.

 We had a civilized, quiet sit-down dinner while the kids watched Christmas movies in the other room.

Christmas morning.  The kids slept until 7:15.  How very reasonable!

When I was a kid, waiting at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning were the longest minutes of my life.  (My parents insisted on walking the dog, making coffee, showering and shaving before we were allowed downstairs).  We only made Skyler and Reed wait for a few minutes.  I was just as excited as they were.  (But can we just pause for a moment to appreciate how much work goes into this holiday when you are the parents?).  Okay, thanks.
 Everything was ready.  And then they came in!  Magic.  Reed was actually speechless for a full minute.

The kids were thrilled with their gifts, and as a result, this was the most relaxing day.  We were able to just hang out while the kids sorted, organized and played with all of their new toys.  There were new books to read, new art supplies, a new desk, a new bike, new dolls, a Spiderman backpack, Spiderman helmet, Spiderman stickers, Spiderman coloring book, Spiderman action figures, Spiderman puzzle, Spiderman band-aids, and just to bring it all home, a 3ft tall Spiderman wall decal.  Thanks, Aunt Liesel!

We ate our traditional brunch, a Sausage-Egg and Cheese Strata, German Christmas Stollen, and Fruit Salad.  This is such an important part of our Christmas, and it was the same brunch my sister and brother were eating in Utah right about the same time. 

We watched the kids play, took naps on the couch, I went for a short run, and then we moved over to my mom's for Beef Wellington, roasted potatoes and onions and green beans, also the same meal we've had on Christmas since I was a kid. 

I'm full.  Of family, food, and the comforts of home.  And tomorrow?  A 5K in the morning and then a (reportedly) HUGE BLIZZARD.

Merry Christmas, indeed.