Thursday, August 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Preschool

Yeah, I cried.

I have been preparing myself for a week or so knowing that the last day of Aida's preschool would be emotional for me. I value the relationships in my life so much that saying goodbye to those I value and love hurts. Saying goodbye to the 4 teachers Aida had for the past 3 years would not be easy or tear free. The moment I dropped Aida off at All Together Now 3 years ago, I know she would be in good hands. I never had one complaint about them. I am thinking that is rare when you are trusting others with your kids. Here are the things that they gave to Aida throughout her time there:

1. Stability. The teachers never left. She had the same team the whole time.
2. Free play. Those kids had tons of time to play and learn social skills.
3. Outdoor time. They had gardens, went on nature walks, and had a HUGE yard to play in. This was the selling point for me. I needed her to have an outdoor space so she could run and play with her buddies, get dirty in the mud, fall down and learn how to get back up, etc.
4. Potty Training!
5. Teaching her not to bite others (she was a big time biter)! Use your words!
6. Cooking!
7. Art. Be creative. I cannot believe the little artist that I have. Unbelievable. And, they let her explore and nurture that.
8. Music. They had Music Together classes every other week. Aida has a great sense of music and appreciation of music because of this program.
9. Love your friends. Apologize. Be kind. Get angry. Express yourself.

What else could you want out of a place that is teaching your kids during such crucial years of their lives?

We got more than we could have ever wanted.

Here are some pictures from today:

Cleaned up for the day, but this is a main area for Art and eating, etc.

Music room, nap room, library, you name it.

Robin saying goodbye to Aida, telling her "You are such a wonderful artist.
I can see you doing illustrations for books some day." Robin is a talented artist
and definitely took an interest in Aida's skills.

The backyard! Pure fun.

Ellen, the director, saying her goodbyes to Aida
"You have grown to be such a wonderful young lady."
The beautiful, lush entrance to the preschool.
Kindergarten, here I come!

So, time to get some tissues. Writing this makes me weepy but happy to have given my child this experience. What is next in her life? Hoping to give everything to her that she needs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Solo Mountain Time

Seth is in NY this week building trails for the Finger Lakes Region Forest Service so I am single parenting. I am a big fan of self care so I decided to take a break from work and go for a solo hike today....get a break from parenting and working and head out in to the woods. We moved to Middlesex 3 weeks go and lucky us, Mt. Hunger is 10 minutes away! I have never had a mountain range in my backyard! I have decided this will be my training ground for the 50 mile race next June. As as I was hiking, I made a mental list of what I need for running gear, running snowshoes, etc, to get me through the winter training. It is going to be tough but I am glad I have access to a mountain loop.

I was alone the whole way up and on the summit as well. I only saw couple people coming up from the Waterbury side as I was heading down to hike the ridge line between Mt. Hunger and White Rocks. By the way, this .6 ridge walk is one of my favorite ridge lines EVER. And I have hiked a lot of ridge lines. Check it out sometime. It is lush and dark and no one is ever out there.

Here are some pictures from today:

I had to take a picture of my boots....look at the salt on these suckers!
I had not noticed until I put them on but this is from that friggin' humid day
up Mt. Moriah in the Whites. Lost some salt that day!

Ah, no worries, 1.1 to the summit. I always forget how damn steep
this 1.1 is!

I love ferns along trails....

a rope to help get up this section

nearing the summit....STEEP!

lunch time! alone on the summit, which is rare on this mountain

about to head to White Rocks....such a beautiful ridge

Looking back at Mt. Hunger from the trail below White Rocks.

Fall is approaching. I could feel it this morning as it was nice and cool. Fall is my favorite hiking time of the year! Can't wait!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Moosalamoo 15 Mile Trail Run Recap

What a day!

First of all the race was 15 miles, not 14 miles! And, it was the first day in weeks that had not been 80-90% humidity and hot. BONUS. I woke up at 4:15am, ate some breakfast and was in my car by 5am to head to Goshen, Vermont for the inaugural Moosalamoo Ultra. I signed up for the 14 miler and was ready to go! I have not run many trail races and those that I have had been with friends so I was doing this solo and was a little nervous. But, once I got in the car and headed out, I was fine. I got to the Blueberry Hill Inn, race headquarters at 6:30am...thought it was going to take me longer to get there but that was fine. I went in the ski center and checked in, got my race number (19), tshirt, GU, and hand carved moose (!). All of a sudden I turn around and I felt like I was in the midst of rock stars. Joe Desena of Spartan Race walks in with Chris Davis and Don Devaney, people I have been wanting to meet. Joe is one of the two founding members of Spartan Race. The other founder is Andy Weinberg who I have mentioned often in  my posts, who has helped me in past races and who also ran the race. Chris Davis moved up here from the south, at one point weighed 700 pounds and is currently down to 300. He carried a 25 pound sand bag through the entire race. Don Devaney is a Death Racer and Vermonter and carried a 100 pound sand bag throughout the race, switching mile for mile with a 60 pound rock with Joe. Insanity. I saw other familiar faces from the Peak Races, met Nick Yardley, a Vermonter who completed Western States this year, my friend Margaret Schlachter of Dirt in Your Skirt, Michelle Roy, a Death Racer and who completed 380 miles of the 500 mile Peak Ultra Race this year, and the lists keeps going. Any nerves I had going into the race were gone. I was so excited to meet these people and embraced it! I went up to them and introduced myself and chatted with them before the race. I was not intimidated by the fact that I was a back of the pack runner compared to these people. I let their experience and strength fuel me for the day.

At 7:50am we all gathered for the pre-race meeting lead by race director, John Izzo. He gave us the scoop about the flagging along the race, aid stations, stinging nettle warnings, etc. And, then we were off!

cloudy, cool 55 degree morning. Perfect weather!

Race headquarters. Have not been in a few years!
Great cross country skiing.

Pre-race talk

John Izzo, race director giving the pre-race scoop.

Quickly, the pack separated into fast and slow runners. I tried not to let my ego get to me "shit, I am near the end of the pack!" I quickly reminded myself that I had not trained extremely hard for it and that I my running "career" is only two years old. So, I kicked myself in the ass and said "move on". So, I chatted it up with some people in the back of the pack for a bit while we ran the first 2ish miles on the dirt road and separated once we hit the trails. At that point I was on my own and loving the trails. Immediate blast of energy once I got into the woods. On the way up, I passed Chris Davis who was carrying the sandbag, stopped and took a pic of him and said hellos and kept on trucking up Mt. Moosalamoo. The temperature was so cool and it was shady in the woods with a light breeze. It was so refreshing to be in that environment after being in the heat and humidity for the past couple months.

Chris Davis and the 25 pound sandbag! He carried it the whole way
and finished his first half marathon. Nice work!

Finally, I got to the summit and then it was time to go down the mountain. I am a downhiller and love cruising down the slope! I passed a few people and eventually saw Don and Joe with their million pound sandbag which at that point I had no idea was 100 pounds. It looked effortless so I thought it was 25-30 pounds or maybe 50. Yeah, they don't mess around so it makes sense that it was 100 pounds. They asked if I had seen Chris and said yes but it was a while back and was not sure if he had made it to the ridge yet.

Summit view. Vermont is awesome.

Don Devaney and  Joe Desena with the rock and sandbag. Wow.
They had gone 11 miles at this point.

I got going again and made it to the first full aid station. All the volunteers of the race were so helpful and pleasant. I had a few chips and continued a couple more miles to the campground. This was a beautiful section along Sucker Brook. My legs were tiring a was about 8 or 9 miles at this point. So, I ate some of my snacks and walked a bit. This is where I wished I had done more training because this section was fairly flat and I wished my legs were more fresh to run it. I eventually got to the road and came to another aid station. Here we were to run a one mile out and back on the Catamount Trail through the only mud and stinging nettles on the course. The only bonus of being towards the end of the pack was that the nettles were trampled down and I did not get stung, BUT the mud was thick because of 90 other people running through it before me and I sunk up to my shins a couple times. What's a trail run without nettles and mud, right?

My green and orange sneaks after the mud pits.
Boring picture of a road? Yeah, heading back to the finish.
Vermont roads are pretty but I was ready for the road slog to be done.
Got back to the aid station and now I had 2.5 miles left on the dirt road to the finish. This was kind of  a slog but I did it. I ran some, walked some. I passed another aid station and saw the point where the 36 milers were veering off to head out for their additional 18 or so miles. I got some water and kept slogging. Then, I came up the hill and was glad to see Blueberry Hill Inn and the other 14 milers who had finished. I finished at 12:40. Andy and Margaret saw me and gave me hugs and congrats. Nice to see them! I got some food and hung out for a couple more hours before heading back home.

 Margaret, Andy and I after I finished. These guys
are big inspirations in my trail running life.

This was a day to remember Faye and to try a solo race. I had a couple moments on the trail remembering the experience of Faye's birth and death. I came away from the day happy for what I had accomplished and a list of things I want to work on. And, I was happy I got home in time to have dinner with my sweet family and tell them about my day. Gratitude.

Goals for running:

1. Get a better hydration pack! The one I have is too long for my torso. And too bulky.
2. Don't carry so much! Rely on the aid stations more. I know this slowed me down. I am so used to hiking and carrying stuff that I forget this is a different gig.
3. Train harder. I know I can finish these races, at least so far I have, but I would like to get a little faster now.
4. I want a running coach to help me!
5. Keep signing up for these races to keep me healthy and to meet awesome, inspiring people!

Gratitude, and that's right....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Moosalamoo 14 miler in Memory of my daughter, Faye

One week from today, I will participate in the Moosalamoo Ultra, a  new race in Goshen, VT. I am very excited to run trails in a different part of Vermont and to be a part of another trail event! I have hiked in that area but have never run the trails. Also, I am excited to get back to these trails because this is a trail system Seth maintains as an employee of the US Forest Service. So, even though Seth won't be there he will be there in spirit!

I learned about this race back in June when I was volunteering at the Death Race and my friend, Margaret (aka Dirt in Your Skirt), told me she was running it. I had not heard of it and thought, hey, a half marathon race would be fun! I didn't need to do the intense training of an ultra and could still participate, meet new people, and feel connected to the trail race scene.

As usual, as summer unfolds, like every year for the past 7 years, my heart starts hurting and grief starts gnawing at me knowing that Faye's birth/death anniversary, September 12, is approaching. Every year, I plan on doing something in her memory. The first anniversary after her death, Seth and I solicited words from our friends and family to tell us how her short life and death affected them. Seth and I took these letters and hiked to the top of a mountain and read them. It was very emotional and beautiful. Another year, we raised money for the Green Mountain Club's Long Trail Protection Campaign to have Faye's name put on a large plaque in their garden. Last year, I ran my first ever trail race in her memory put on by Peaks Ultra. This year, I want to run this 14 miler  (see map...I will be doing the blue and orange dotted trail) in her memory and reflect on the day she died and all I have learned from that experience.

I have run consistently the past three months since the 32.5 mile Ultra I completed, but I did not get as many long runs in as I wanted. So, I am just going to go into this event with a full heart and hike if I need to and enjoy the day. Hoping the humidity won't be oppressive but, whatever, it is summer and it is what it is.

Join me if you would like! I don't need to be out there running by myself to reflect on Faye and that experience and how it has affected me. The more the merrier.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Aida's Art: Part Two

Time for an update on some of Aida's recent art.
I posted most of these on Facebook but I thought I would continue putting them together as an "art gallery." 
She continues to inspire me with her imagination and creativity!

Visiting a friend and Aida got out her makers and paper
and produced this in, like, 5 minutes. One of my favorites!

When she wakes up, Aida likes to go right to her art table...

Designing jewelry!

She is constantly setting up little homes and villages
all over the house...

En route to the ocean in Maine and my mom was talking and singing to her
and she said "Don't interrupt the artist, Memeire!"

"People from India in a canoe they built and they have
 baskets of strawberries."

Printing making on a sunny day....

"Vampire princess with a hammer that will pound
nails into the carrot"

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mt. Moriah 4,000 Footer Hike

We just moved into our new home so when the alarm went off, I was THIS close from saying "nope, not driving to Gorham, NH this morning." But, I knew I would be kicking myself later. Seth was in the same boat, too, which is so rare for him. Obviously, we were tired from the move but it was in our soul to get out there. The weather was another factor. Rain has been scarce this summer so instead of doing Wildcat A and D, we decided to do Mt. Moriah via the Stony Brook Trail because it followed the brook and other water crossings for a good part of the first 3.6 miles. The water on route to the Wildcats would have been scarce, especially along the ridge so we opted for Moriah. Good choice because the humidity was oppressive and we needed to refill our water. We lucked out with it being a cloudy day because if it had been sunny, we would have turned around. Seth was sweating so much that I am surprised he did not turn into a puddle of Jello.

Here we go up to the ridge!
The first 2 miles were so flat and comfortable. The trail meandered along Stony Brook and there were no huge boulders to contend with which is characteristic of many White Mountain hikes. So, we eased into the hike,  thanking the sky that the clouds were out and took a long break just before the trail started UP to fill up our water one last time before the final push to the ridge. All in all, the Stony Brook trail was really pleasant all the way to the ridge.

Intersection with the ridge (AT). Phew!

intersection with the Ridge (AT)
beautiful puncheon on the ridge
I love approaching the ridgelines of mountains. The transition of the forests from hardwoods to softwoods is so sweet and comforting. The temperatures start to get cooler and the smell of the soft wood trees are pungent, and I always appreciate the trail signs! We arrived at the ridge line and it started to lightly rain. It was so warm out that we never had to put a coat on which is rare because rain and wind above treeline usually make for chilly conditions! We hiked in and out of ledges for the next 1.4 mile ridge walk to the summit. We could only imagine what the views would have been like if the sky was clear! We did get a quick peek of the Mahousic Range between rain storms but that was it. The rain was light and it felt so good since our bodies felt like furnaces.

Again, we were blessed with TONS of alpine vegetation. The mountain cranberry was everywhere. So beautiful and red and healthy. Here is a list of the other alpine vegetation we saw:
  1. Crowberry
  2. Labrador Tea
  3. Mountain Ash
  4. High bush blueberry
  5. Blueberries
  6. Mountain Cranberry
  7. Alpine Goldenrod
  8. Creeping Snowberry
  9. Three-toothed cinqufoil
  10. Bigelow Sedge
  11. Bog Bilberry
Classic alpine nerd comment of the day "we must be approaching 4,000 feet because we are starting to see Labrador Tea". Even though we were in the clouds, we could tell where we were and how far we might be from the summit because of the presence of different types of alpine vegetation.

The rain finally stopped a bit as we got to the intersection of the side trail to the summit. Then, a sweet little rock scramble up to the VERY SMALL bald summit! Yay! Thirty-eight down, ten to go! No views which is fine. I was so happy to be up there. We ate a quick snack and  then started down. The skies opened up again, this time with much heavier rain all the way back along the ridge. We had to be careful going down the ledges but it was not too bad. We saw some AT hikers which is always fun! They are right on target to be coming through this section of the AT right now. Many dudes with beards. They kept asking Seth if he was through hiking because he had a large red beard. The bond of those with beards. :)

intersection of AT and the side trail to Mt. Moriah 
Summit at last!
Summit Marker

Heading back across the ridge, starting to rain  harder
The rain continued as we hiked back down from the ridge line but we were did not mind. We appreciated not sweating profusely any longer and the cool rain kept us comfortable. 

We started hiking at 11am and got back to our car at 5pm. Perfect timing to get some dinner in Gorham. We found a fantastic pub called Saalt Pub and Bistro. Highly recommend if you are in the area hiking and want post-hike eats. We had a relaxing dinner and 2.5 hour drive back to our sweet home in Middlesex. On the way back, we saw a momma bear and her baby cub cross the road Marshfield, VT. Bonus! Feel lucky to have such a wonderful life and it was so great to spend time in the woods with Seth. It does not happen as much as we would like now that we have our sweet Aida but when we do get out, it feels like the old days of climbing peaks together in the Whites.

Ten left.
Here they are:

  1. Whiteface
  2. Passaconaway
  3. Isolation
  4. Wildcat A
  5. Wildcat D
  6. Adams
  7. Jefferson
  8. Monroe
  9. Carrigan
  10. Owl's Head
My 4,000 Footers Log

Hope to get at least one or two more this fall!