Redemption (again?)

Well, you can always start again.  Surprised to see my last post was Thanksgiving.  Actually had a failed running reboot in March, but it only lasted into April.  I love the Runkeeper app because it archives all of the activities that you track.  Often, I like to look back on my past accomplishments (cue: Glory Days) and think what I can do and hope to improve upon.  This time, I was curious about my last run:

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So, that was a neighborhood run during our chilly spring.  I had a rebound March and completed 65 miles, which was a nice improvement from the ZERO miles that I did in January and February the start of the year.  That last run put me at 55 miles for April and I had dreams of 100+ months leading to a goal for 1,000 miles for 2019.  Let’s just say now, that’s not happenin’.

I’m trying to remember what was going on.  Still was teaching and must have just completed April break the week prior.  The biggest change at that point was that I was assistant coaching Addie’s softball team.  Not an excuse, mind you, but I was certainly was (am) lazy and did not even attempt to do early morning runs. At least it turned out to be a fun season and the team won the city championship!  Championship game was quite exciting.  We were down 6-0, but we came out on top in the end.  That’s Addie down below.  Quite the Beauty, but not (yet) into running.

But I digress…Thing is, there has a been a lot going on in both our lives that has interfered with our running. There has been injury (Katie has a serious case of Plantar Facitis), family changes (high school graduations, ups and downs of Joe and Maggie’s college years), professional highs and lows (mostly high for Katie, downs a disaster for me), and the realization that we’re a lot closer to 50 now.

I don’t know what to say.  I just read back to the start of this blog in 2015.  We were both running the 2015 Maine Marathon and feeling on top of the world; completing double digit runs at the drop of a hat, and having great meals, while all else was great.  Now it as if we we’re both like this:

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I’ll point the finger at myself.  I’m at a low point personally and professionally (I recently left teaching for the final second time and don’t know what to do) and I am fully ready to admit that MY alcoholism is ruining our lives.  I’m an alcoholic and I admit it to our scores handful of readers out there.  It is ruining our relationship, my friendships, my career, and my running.  Heck, I’ve probably been an alcoholic since my binge drinking at 18 years of age, but now it brings the whole house down. 30 years later I just see myself as a broken down drunk. This won’t cover it, but I apologize to all I’ve wronged with my drinking, but most of all to Katie. Anything I’ve accomplished is due to her and her inspiration.  You can put it in perspective of this blog: It was her idea to start it and keep me motivated to run and write.  I’ve been able to bask in great accomplishments and tell brag about great adventures, but none of them would have occurred without Katie.  All people should be as lucky to have such a great partner.  I hope to recover and be a good person and partner.  If I don’t, I know Katie will make a great path in both running and in life.  I don’t know where my path will go, but I hope it is by her side…

OK, that was a lot to dump load on everyone, so back to running.  I was convinced that new shoes would be the magic cure to my lack of running since April.  My sister was kind of enough to give me a Visa gift card that would have covered the cost of some new shoes, so I was all prepared to hit Fleet Feet and start logging some miles.  Instead, I ended up with these:

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Ignore the ghastly toenails (and Gosh, are those really my ankles? Look away, I’m a creature).  It took a while, but Addie convinced me they looked cool, and now I’m wearing Birkenstock’s.  I don’t recommend them for running, but they feel awesome post-run.

Katie actually convinced me to be smart patient and try one of my old pair of running shoes to start a new running program.  How right she was.  I uploaded the Couch to 5K (c25k) app to my phone and then dug out these Hoka Clifton 5’s (I know that I don’t need the apostrophe there).  IMG_0772 (3)

A little history on these shoes: I purchased them at the 2016 San Francisco Marathon Expo (which I did not run -a bit of a long story, a little bit due to the above narrative) and they carried me through training for the 2016 Maine Marathon, which I was able to complete using the Galloway run-walk plan.  Pretty sure they logged 500+ miles until I replaced them with a pair of Saucony’s, which in the end were not a great fit for me.  Turns out that these old Hoka’s still have some life in them.  So, a little over one week in, I have completed two weeks of C25K.

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Yes, those times are ugly, but remember there is a lot of walking going on.  I’m doing it right this time.  Walking when called for and running at a good pace (sub 10:00) when instructed.  Next week some longer runs that may be ugly difficult.

It’s a start.  Will this be redemption (running and otherwise)?  I can’t say.  So far it has not been for our relationship, but I hope and pray for the best.  Will it be for running?  The same answer.  Last time to success was a long haul, but I made it.  The lesson I know now is to take it day by day and not rush the process.  The only thing I can say is to keep moving.

See you on the road!

-Mike

 

A Rangeley Run and Some Thanksgiving Cooking

After the Birthday Celebration at The Farm, we made our way back to Portland on Sunday morning and decided we should make the treacherous drive to Rangeley the same evening.

A shared 5 hour terror drive across ice covered roads in pitch-blackness wilderness brought us to the warm confines of our Rangeley Lake Resort cabin on a cold Sunday night.

We celebrated our arrival with some Perogies and onions…

Rangeley is a western mountains town known for its snow and cold temps and it certainly lived up to both for this Thanksgiving trip, but I did set out for a Tuesday morning run.

We also had some wildlife visitors…

I do admit that Addie can be wild, but she is not local wildlife in the 2nd pic above.

Our tradition at Rangeley is to have Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday night with a full compliment of Arlington Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” and Ray Davies’ “Thanksgiving Day” while I cook. We fulfilled that promise as the pictures below share.

We ended up having a, “Thanksgiving Feast that couldn’t be beat” with many toasts and lots of good conversation.

Thanksgiving Day was low key watching plenty of football and enjoying leftovers. No running that day, but we did manage to work off some calories at Moose Alley. Katie and Maggie managed to bowl the top scores.

I hope you also enjoyed a great holiday, and see you on the road!

Running at the Farm

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we all ventured to New Boston, NH to celebrate the 70th Birthday of Katie’s dad, Tex (aka Peter). We celebrated at Tex’s own Swallow Ridge Farm where he raises cattle. The Farm, as we call it, has been a place of many memorable events including holiday celebrations, a large family reunion, and my favorite, Maple Syrup Making weekends. It is an amazing place to visit and even more amazing is that Tex (with some family help) has rehabbed a once long abandoned property into a working farm virtually on his own. Some images of this great place:

That truck is especially awesome. It’s a 1948 (not sure of make and model) that Tex bought and had customized for the Farm.

Running in New Boston is always beautiful, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. 1) The roads are quiet, but mostly lack a shoulder which can make things scary against oncoming traffic. 2) New Boston puts the HILL in hilly. A great workout, but some of those climbs are soul-crushing! The route I took is a peaceful run mostly along one of the many dirt roads in the area. It was a chilly morning, but I was thankful for my new Smartwool PhD running tights (more on them in a later post). Things were so pleasant that stretched the run to 5 miles, which I had not achieved on some time.

It doesn’t look it, but that the road in the top picture is up a seemingly endless hill. One bonus: I hit my fastest pace of the run on the way down.

See you on the road!

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:

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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!