Monday, December 31, 2012

Good-bye 2012, Hello 2013!

Looking back, I think all I have done this past year is work...long days, exhausting shifts, hours in the car, poor diet on the road, insomnia, chronically sore back and neck. But then I think a little harder and realize that it's been a heck of a year despite all that! 

For 2012 I made a commitment to get out on the trails and run for the sheer joy of it and remove the word "training" from my vocabulary forever. So I ran the Ossipee River Trails so often that I think I could now run them blind folded without tripping over a single rock or root. I ran the Big A 50K and MMD just for the sake of seeing friends.  I learned the top-secret single track system out in the Leavitt Plantation. I ran the Moats Single Track and the single track of the Green Hills Preserve. I explored logging roads and snow mobile trails in north east Vermont with my trusty side-kick, Scout. Kevin and I put in a thousand or so extra trail miles walking.

Mountain biking was wonderful. We really had some awesome trail conditions in New England this past year. I worked on developing my technical skills on the cross country trails, mastered those small uphill step-ups that have been the challenge of my mountain biking existence, and tried lift-assisted downhill riding a few times...What a blast!!! We biked Bear Brook, FOMBA, Ossipee River, Leavitt Plantation, Green Hills Preserve, Moat Area Single Track, and Kingdom Trails...a lot. I got up the courage to try Sidewinder and it was a piece of cake! I didn't break any bones or require any surgery from biking this year, so it was a good season.

We did a lot of snowshoeing late season last winter. For a winter with very little snow in New England, it's amazing how often Kevin and I got out on the snowshoes. We started learning our way around the miles and miles of woods behind our camp in Vermont. We've resumed that exploration this past month. I am determined to find my way to the mountain we call "Frost Mountain" that we can see in the distance from our camp window. We're getting close!

The cross country skiing sucked last winter so I tried Alpine skiing again for the first time in over 25 years. It was so much fun that I purchased my own equipment. I look forward to gaining skills and confidence this winter and eventually, joining Kevin on the more difficult slopes.

We got out in the kayaks a few times. The most memorable and fun outing was out of Bar Harbour, exploring the little island chain and watching the wild life. We also had a nice paddle up the river into Ossipee Lake.

We did trail work. We cleared the lot a little at camp. We had a big productive vegetable garden. I finished two quilts. I celebrated two years of being married to the most wonderful man on the planet.

Next year will be even better. I am working on making a big career change. Frankly, I am tired of working weekends, holidays, and evenings. I am tired of being on call. I am tired of never being able to let my work go, even on my days off. I am fifty years old and I need to start putting my mental and physical health first. I'm excited about moving forward and retaking control of my life!

I'm feeling very positive about 2013. Bring it on! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shakin' It Up

I have stuck with the "insanity" workout program for over two weeks now. It's tough. It involves a little strength building and a lot of cardio work.  These workouts get my heart rate way up near my max, and keep it there for various intervals of time, depending on the particular workout scheduled for that day. The two week fit test showed improvements in 7 out of 8 exercises. The one I didn't improve on was a push up move, and I blame that on the fact that I had just finished shovelling snow. Also, I have to say, I felt pretty darned strong and fit on our first ski outing of the year last week. So, although my work is still causing me to spend way too much time working and not leaving me enough time for my health and fitness, I am still working out and staying fit.  And I'm loving it!

I am enjoying downhill skiing because I'm new at it and have a lot of room for improvement. It's a challenge! It's the same way with mountain biking for me. I can see and feel myself progressing. I've been running steady for 35 years and have been doing ultras for about 15. I'm at a point where there's not much left to learn about running (its a very simple thing really) and not much personal progression . Years ago, I realized that I had already read all the articles in Runner's World, just the authors and the names in the stories had changed over time. I had even lived through the whole barefoot thing before. My running is like that, at one point or another I've already done it all with my running. It is time to shake things up a little. So while I still love running on a trail in the woods as much as I always have, mountain biking and skiing have added a nice twist to the theme. 

Speaking of shaking things up a little, I have a long term goal of returning to my roots of short fast running. 5K races are great; Cheap to enter, no lottery, very little time commitment on the day of the race, fast recovery, not a lot of ego or attention involved, nothing popular or trendy about it, and very healthy and  non-harmful to a person's body as long as the correct training has been done. Well, these insanity workouts are a start toward that goal. My heart is starting to remember what its like to hit 180!

Monday, December 10, 2012


We spent a nice weekend in Northeast Vermont. We were lazy on Saturday and then drank too much beer at the Tamarack. So Sunday I was determined to get out there and do something! I did Insanity's  "Pure Cardio" first thing in the morning. This is the worse Insanity workout so far and includes a solid 30 minutes that keeps my heart rate over 170, about equal to a thirty minute tempo run. Following this, Kevin and I headed out into the woods behind camp with Scout. I showed Kevin the area I have been exploring on my own. I love rambling through the woods trying to figure out where trails and old roads go.

Exploring old tote roads alone in southern Maine is one thing, but Northeast Vermont is a totally different thing. In most of Southern Maine, if you know how to walk in a straight line in the woods, you will almost always come to a road within 5 to 10 miles. Then again, all bets are off after dark without a light  Lost . But in Northeast Vermont, a person could walk in a straight line for days and not find a road. So I have been a little cautious exploring out there on my own. It was nice to have Kevin along Sunday. His sense of direction in the woods is pretty remarkable.

We enjoyed some nice tote roads and snowmobile trails and finally came to a point where I had once, on snow covered ground following a single set of snow mobile tracks through the woods, found a short cut back to Camp Road. We could see the mountain our camp sits upon from that point, but not much of a trail. We decided to go for it, rather than coming out on Victory Road and having to walk 3 miles uphill on packed gravel road. This "not much of a trail" soon ended and we were on our own.

We started up. It was a steep and rough bush whack, but we knew we were going the right way because we could see the mountain top from where we walked. Plus Scout was running out in front with a sense of purpose, he definitely knew which way was back to camp. Ugh, what a climb! It was about a mile of steep climbing. My legs were aching from the Pure Cardio workout and I was suddenly starving. But eventually we came out exactly where we wanted to be.

The minute we got inside I had a glass of orange juice, two chicken legs, a bowl of cereal and a pickle. Then I laid down and slept for an hour. Ahhhh, just the way Sundays are meant to be.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A New Leaf

I'm not waiting for the new year to turn over a new leaf, I'm already doing it. Late summer and early Fall brought changes to my job. These work stressors caused me to lose track of my priorities. It took me a while to realize this. You'd think the fact that I was laying awake in bed all night, working on my laptop at 2AM at times, popping antacids all day long, and missing most of the runs I planned would have clued me in that something had gone awry. Maybe those 5 pounds I put on from eating deli sandwiches while driving between appointments should have told me something. Maybe the fact that I had no time for this Blog anymore should have given me a hint. Missing all those clues, I should have noticed that late in the evenings when I was relaxing with my husband in the hot tub with a glass of wine, I was usually talking about work. This stuff is fine if you are a Workaholic, Type A, Company Guy or Gal...but I'm not and I don't want to be. Holy Hell, I'm a smiling, happy, fun-loving, forest frolicker. How could I have forgotten this?!

So early in October I decided to take control of my life back and make some changes. It is still a work in progress.  But I'm getting there.  

I've been running in the woods with my dog every chance I get. I don't have time for anything long or adventurous, mosty local trails late in the day, but what a simple pleasure this is. Running on dirt grounds me. It only makes sense, really. I've also been walking in the woods with Kevin, listening to the river, moving blow downs off the trail, looking at animal tracks, and throwing sticks for Scout. This gives me peace. I love the trees. There is a reason my first stint at college was studying Foresrty.

I started P90X again, then switched over to Insanity. I am truly having fun with this! Insanity is fast paced circuit training. Jumping, lunging, running, push ups... Kevin is afraid I might come through the ceiling one of these evenings since the gym is on the second floor and the house is almost 200 years old. But I think it will hold me. I have been hitting heart rates in the mid 170's. It has been a long time since I have worked hard enough to get my heart rate up that high. I worked out to the point of nausea last evening and enjoyed the fact that I did!

I worked all weekend and enjoyed a challenging night of "on-call" Saturday night, so I have the day off today. I'm heading out for a run with Scout.