That Great Feeling When You Weren’t Going To, But You Did The Run – Night Run On The Boulevard

It was 6:15pm and I was on my way home from the day. I had already resigned myself to skipping today’s scheduled run due to wet weather, it was dark, it was wet, and whatever weak excuse I could create to convince myself not to run.

It turned out that Katie was going to be out for the evening at her Knitting and Wine Club. I thought to myself that I did not want to just settle in and veg for the evening. Got home, put my gear on first thing (that was key), told the kids I would pick up some dinner, and I was on my way.

A short drive from our house is Portland’s most popular running destination, Baxter Boulevard aka Back Cove Trail. It is a mostly flat 3.5 mile loop around Portland’s Back Cove. It’s a great destination for runners and walkers alike with a great view of Portland’s skyline and worry-free running from traffic. The trail features 1/4 mile markers and is wide enough for walkers, runners, and bikers heading in both directions. We’ve run many miles during training and races and this trail never disappoints! One drawback is that after steady rain, trail has its fair share of shoe-soaking puddles, which means Darn Toughs are a welcome running partner on chilly nights.

A highlight of the Back Cove Trail is the B&M Baked Bean Factory.

This is Portland’s very own Wonka Factory. The lights are always on, but no one ever goes in or ever comes out.

Not much to see tonight, but I took a few pics.

Well, I’m feeling good to have completed another C25K session (+ some extra!) on a night I was gonna skip. Now I’m wrapped in some of my KTP wool and enjoying a satisfying night.

See you on the road!

Staying On Course With C25K, Some Baking, and Why I Need to Keep Running.

It has a been a pretty dreary (long!) Veteran’s Day weekend.  Definitely had a November feel with gray, rain-soaked days; although, today was a beautiful day with blue skies and that crisp feeling in the air.  I’ve been happy that I have maintained C25K training every other day and I have just entered Week 4 of the program.  On Friday, I maintained a jogging pace for the walking sections, so it was great to finish with a sub-11:00 pace.  I know that doesn’t sound all that great, but I’m excited to be making progress.

For some motivation, I decided to check on my Runkeeper activities dating back to 2014, when I started the C25K program for the first time.  It was nice to see that I am ahead of my pace back then, but I should be given that I am not starting totally from scratch this time around.  As of today’s run, these are my totals of activities that I have recorded on Runkeeper:

Stats

It’s fun to have this record on hand in the app.  Granted the miles have been slow to accumulate this year, but I am looking forward to building them up again.  Not sure yet what my goal for 2019 will be, but I definitely want exceed 1,000 miles as I did in 2015 and 2016.  I’m not ambitious enough to go for 2,019 miles in 2019.  Right now, I’m thinking a 1,000 miles for 2019 is what I will shoot for.  I’m still a ways from averaging 20 miles per week (just hitting 10 per week on C25K), but if I stay on target, I will be starting 10K training in December, which will up my weekly mileage.

After Friday’s great run, it was a bit of a struggle to get out there yesterday, but luckily Katie motivated me to get it done.  I struggled, but in the end it was so worth it.  Afterwards, I started thinking about why I need to keep running:

  1. PHYSICAL FITNESS – Obviously, I know, but running has been the only fitness program I have been able to be consistent with in the past three decades since leaving college and the Army.  I’ve dabbled in strength training and other programs, but the ease of running (just go out the door) and the quick results make it be best for me.
  2. PHYSICAL HEALTH – Obvious too.  As a I approach 50 (yikes!), I’m starting to think what my later years will be like.  I hope to stay active and not be physically incapacitated or stuck with a regimen of daily medications.  I’ve seen too many examples of people who lose their quality of life and I don’t want to be in those shoes.  Just gotta keep moving.
  3. MENTAL HEALTH – This is most important.  In the last two weeks, I have noticed that after my runs, my head is clear of daily and ongoing stress.  In the past two years I have definitely noticed that things seem off when I’m not running.  Maybe it is not having an outlet for the stress or maybe it is not having the feeling of accomplishment a good run gives you.  In the past year I have been dealing with career dissatisfaction along with personal demons that have been dogging me.  It certainly did not help that I was on the road much less frequently; in fact, it just seemed to compound things.  At times, I feel like I am susceptible to depression and/or anxiety, but then again, who isn’t?  The great thing is that when I plug in my headphones and start pounding the pavement, my head is clear.  I’m hoping that these moments of clarity will grow as I add miles and that they extend to my resting hours (I have not been sleeping well – currently trying sleep meditation sessions).  Bottom line is that life is better when you are running!

What better way to make it through a chilly November day than to have some homemade soup and bread.  One of my favorites is Hungarian Green Bean Soup.  My recipe also includes honey and cider vinegar that gives the soup a sweet and sour taste.  I also tried my hand at some baking of honey oatmeal rolls.  Nice comfort food and carb loading for this morning’s run.

See you on the road!

Weekend Adventures and a Run in West Kennebunk Village

Katie has planned a getaway night in Kennebunk a few weeks ago.  We had intended to ride our bikes along the Eastern Trail, but the weather and not really feeling a 30 mile ride turned this into a Mini Adventure.

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Early in the afternoon we made our way to Kennebunk which is about a 30 minute drive from home.  We did not have a plan for the day and just winged it.  I was hoping to shop at Ramblers Way, a local wool clothing store, but found the store vacant much to my dismay.  Turns out they are now located in Portland, so we’ll have to visit next time we’re downtown.

We still were feeling our inner Wool-ite and decided to make our way to Kittery Trading Post.  Fortunately, KTP had a great selection of wool products and we ended up with a nice haul of wool base layer tops and bottoms as well as replenishing our supply of Darn Tough socks.  The base layer shirt I picked up is from Smartwool, while the bottoms are from a New Hampshire company, 33 Below.  I hope to add some reviews after I get some wear out of them.  No doubt that I will be using them right away with temperatures in the 30s and 40s lately.

After shopping, we picked up some great pizza at When Pigs Fly Bakery which never disappoints.  We took the pizzas back to our hotel, bathed ourselves in our new wool and settled down for a quiet evening.

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In the morning, I completed a C25K run through parts of West Kennebunk.  Not too much to see, but it was a beautiful fall morning that made for great running.

 

Our trip ended with a fun stop at Boulangerie Bakery in Kennebunk Village.  It was a bit of an adventure finding it, but it was well worth it.  For a brief review, it was great!  (Feeling a bit lazy today).

 

See you on the road!

Afternoon Run For Dinner at Local 188.

Wrapped up the work week with a rain-soaked C25K run through the neighborhood.  Included in the route was a few minutes in Baxter Woods.  A small nature preserve in our neighborhood that provides a nice respite from running in traffic.  I ran into a friend during his nightly walk with his Dire Wolf German Shepherd, Izzie.  While dog walkers seen to dominate Baxter Woods, quite a few runners pass me by take their route through there.

It felt great to get the weekend started on the right foot and then we were off to Local 188 for a fantastic meal with friends.  Local 188 has been a mainstay on the Portland foodie scene for a long time.  It’s usually a go-to spot for breakfast, but it also delivers for dinner.

Their tapas deliver a taste explosion of savory treats including seafood, fry-bread, and meat.  The drink menu is extensive and for those DDs out there they have fresh-brewed (?) kombucha in hand.  I led off the night with some Pineapple kombucha and it “set the base” before moving on to a couple Estrella lagers.

We moved on to main courses of seared squid, Seafood Paella (one word -amaze balls- most expensive item on the menu, but no regrets for sure), and a charcuterie board.  The charcuterie was great, but some pate can be an acquired taste.  All in all, a highly recommended meal, and I hope you end a running adventure at Local 188!  Not many pics, but there’s the Paella:

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See you on the road!

-Mike

Don’t Beat Yourself Up on Off Days

Yesterday was a scheduled day off from the C25K program, but I had morning aspirations of getting a run in.  As it turned out, we needed to complete our Halloween decorating.  Fun times (although I could not believe stores having Christmas displays up the day BEFORE Halloween -whatever happened to Thanksgiving?), but by night’s end I had it stuck in my head that I should have done that run.  I need to avoid that thinking because it’s a trap that will ruin my willpower eventually.  If I did run, it would have been a bonus, if I didn’t, I was not supposed to anyway.  Here’s a good article with reminders why rest days are important:

4 Reasons Why Rest Days Are Important

Will be looking to push a little harder today to work some of tonight’s candy calories off in advance.

See you on the road!

-Mike

A C25K run through Evergreen Cemetery

I was happy to complete another day of C25K in one of my favorite Portland running destinations, Evergreen Cemetery.  Located in our neighborhood, the cemetery is a fantastic spot to run among dead people some beautiful scenery and be able to be worry-free from traffic.  There are several possible loops on the grounds, but my favorite is a 2+ mile loop that covers the perimeter of Evergreen.  It is beautiful during fall color season, but we’re a bit past peak season this year:

The chapel is an especially beautiful building where during the summer and early fall weddings will be held (although I could not imagine getting married on the grounds of a cemetery).  If you are ever in Portland and looking for a quiet running spot, I definitely recommend Evergreen Cemetery!

The C25K run went well, but I was not expecting the jump from 30 sec sun – 90 sec walk to 90 sec run – 2 min walk.  I adjusted though and was happy with the pace that I was able to maintain during run intervals.  It’s only been two runs, but no doubt running puts me in a better place both physically and mentally.

BTW, adding to a productive afternoon, Addie and I carved a pumpkin for Halloween (well, I did the carving, but Addie did pick the design from “The Nightmare Before Christmas):

Tonight, I’ll be roasting the seeds, which should make for nice running energy snacks.

Happy Halloween and see you on the road!

-Mike

No Better Time To Start Than Today

I look at the dates of our last posts and am surprised.  Over a year!  That’s not a good thing when it comes running.  There’s been too much Breakfast and not enough running.  I wish I had excuses as to why the running has faded, but I don’t.  I put the blame on a career change in August with new hours (it lasted a year, but now I’m back in my old teaching position), an extra cold winter (but no worse than years before), and other lame reasons, but it came down to lack of motivation and laziness.  I tried several re-boots of programs, but then would be frustrated at how far my pace had dropped off and then would quit again.  I’m embarrassed to say that Runkeeper recorded several single-digits of monthly miles this year.

Well whatever.  This past weekend I decided to go back to where I started and begin the Couch to 5K program (C25K).  C25K is a fantastic app for beginners with prompts from a friendly voice telling you when to run or walk in a 8 week training program that culminates with a 5k run.  Here’s the link if you want to give it a try:

Couch to 5k Trainer App

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It seems the first step can be the hardest, but I love starting programs.  For me it’s getting Day 2 done.  I’m wrapping this up, heading home, and lacing up my running shoes to get back to it.

My motivation this time around comes from this quote:

“Every day I say to myself: ‘Today I will begin.'”    -St. Anthony of the Desert

Let’s hope it sticks.  See you on the road!

-Mike

Double Wow! Eastern Trail + Palace Diner = Amazing!

Both of us had recently been suffering from a Running Slump.  My problem has been laziness boredom with the routes in our neighborhood, so we have decided to branch out for some destination runs.  Not far from us is the Eastern Trail down in York County.  It’s an old railroad line that has been converted to a running/biking/walking trail.  A couple of  major pluses are that it has loads of shady stretches which is a plus during July morning runs and it’s really flat terrain.

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We are two weeks into some marathon training that schedules long runs on Sunday, but fortunately the long July 4th holiday allowed us to flip our excruciating long run (7 miler) to Monday morning.  That allowed us some annual Strawberry pickin’ and jammin’ on Sunday.

The newness of the trail for us has been invigorating and has rekindled some passion to log some miles.  It’s also nice to be off well traveled streets and enjoy some quietness other than good conversation which Katie proclaimed that I had to improve upon during our runs (sometimes I get in the zone and put on a thousand mile stare). Our long Monday run crossed three town lines and then this morning’s run gave us some adventures in Saco only.

I got a nice runner’s high from these runs, but the real reward was our post-workout trips to the Palace Diner in Biddeford.  All I can say is Wow!  We had been talking about going here for a couple years and all I can say is that I wish we went sooner! There was a wait to get in since it is counter service for about a dozen people, but they are nice to provide coffee service during your wait. On Monday, despite our 8:30am arrival, I ordered a hamburger and to quote the movie, Cocktail, “Beer is for Breakfast” a Coors Banquet Beer. The burger and fries were amazing and Katie ordered a breakfast sandwich that is beyond compare.  Jalapeños will definitely be a staple for our homemade breakfast sandwiches now.

Then this morning we dragged brought our younger son, Frank, for another Eastern Trail run (Frank did a walk) and Palace Diner adventure. I don’t usually like Tuna, but the Tuna Sandwich I had was pure ecstasy!  Frank ordered the Fried Chicken sandwich and it was Heaven.  Katie was unadventurous and went with the breakfast sandwich again and it still impressed.

Once again, Palace Diner impressed and I know it will be great motivation to run more sections of the Eastern Trail!

FYI: They are cash only for payment, but there is a Bangor Savings ATM nearby on Main Street.

See you on the road!