I have never seen so much mud.
The deluge that fell on New England in the days leading up to the Pineland Trail Running Festival 50k, held May 26 in New Glouster, ME, made for a soggy course. Combine that with seven different foot races, all held on the same course over a two-day period, and you have a serious mud bath.
The original plan for the weekend involved a group of us going up to Maine Saturday night, camping and running on Sunday. The rain killed our adventurous spirit and only two of us hit the road from Southern NH, in the rain, early Sunday morning.
Fortunately, the rain broke in time for the 25k, 50k and 50 mile races and there was only the mud to contend with. The 50k started at 8 a.m. The course is a very lovely, rolling double-loop over farm land and through the woods (25k is a single loop, 50 mile is a hybrid triple loop). The trail is very smooth and non-technical and is comprised of dirt and pine needle-covered carriage track and grassy fields.
That said, the six inches of mud on race day more than made up for anything lacking in technical difficulty. I was concerned going in to the race that I had spent too much time training on single track, but the mud made me glad for all the twists and turns I’ve put in at Bear Brook State Park.
The mud, mainly in the first 15k (of each loop), was bad enough on the first loop, but by the second time around, all of the 25k racers had chewed up the course even more. The mud turned from a somewhat sticky, thick substance, into a gooey, traction-less, oozing mess. Thanks to all the mud, my hips blew up around mile 18 as I went through the second bout of slime and I laid down about six miles of pretty pathetic splits.
I was thankful to reach my Brooks PureCadence and clean socks at mile 26, where I had a drop bag. I was able to pick up the pace again and finish feeling pretty good.
This was a great race and all of the volunteers, aid stations and organizers were fantastic. There were numerous aid stations, the post-race party was excellent and featured live tunes, the always amazing Portland Pie Co. pizza and free Shipyard brews! Next year I hope the weather is a little more cooperative and we can make a weekend out of it.
The Pineland Trail Running Festival is a two-day running festival held each year at Pineland Farms in New Glouster, ME. It features a variety of races, including a 5k, 10k and a 5k canicross. There are also seminars, trail tours, family friendly activities and live music. To learn more, visit www.pinelandtrails.com.
This year was my first time watching the Boston Marathon in person and it started so beautifully. At mile 23 in Brighton, the sun was shining, runners were smiling (well more like grimacing, but close enough) and no one could be the wiser for what would transpire just five kilometers down the road.
It was exhilarating to snap some photos of the elite men and women, including the first USA finishers, Shalane Flanagan and Jason Hartmann (both 4th in their respective races). It was also fun to watch with friends and family and cheer on one of my close running companions and the members of my track club.
I can’t claim to have been anywhere near the course when the explosions happened. My wife and I left around 2 p.m. and were oblivious to the turn of events until concerned text messages and phone calls began pouring in from friends and family who knew we were in Boston watching the race. The outpouring of thought and concern was touching. We quickly tuned into the local radio station and learned about the two explosions.
We drove in disbelief as the reports of deaths and injuries came across the airwaves. We ourselves are looking forward to finally running for the first time next year and couldn’t fathom this happening at an event so close to home (physically and metaphorically). After the radio reports, we began our own onslaught of concerned text message sending and were happy to hear no one we knew was hurt.
It is tragic that someone would take what is, to many, the pinnacle of the racing calendar and transform it into an event of horrendous suffering. That someone would make the streets of Boston look like war-torn Baghdad is (was) unfathomable. Whether it was a terrorist trying to prove something or just another crazy person on the loose, it was a cowardly act and I hope that justice comes swiftly. My heart breaks for those families who lost loved ones; and to those who are injured, I pray a speedy recovery.
As for myself, I look forward to running next year, perhaps more than ever, as a way to show that we are made of sturdier stuff than any adversary might believe.
2012 was about pushing myself into new territory, physically and mentally. I ran faster, trained harder and pushed further than ever before.
What do I have to show for it? A water bottle, a couple finishers medals and a black toenail. Not much and I’m OK with that.
This year I learned that I run for me. For that feeling of euphoria that only comes after miles and miles alone on the trail. For the pleasure that comes from the pain following a long training week. And for the renewed connection I’ve found with God during my time on the trails. I’ve had friendships grow, pondered the mysteries of creation and learned more about myself.
So, looking forward to 2013, I want to continue on this path. I want to continue to push my limits, learn more about myself and grow my relationships with others.
In the new year, my hope for you, reader, is that you find a path in your life that will bring you the same joy I’ve found in my running.
Happy New Years!
It finally snowed! After a snowless 2011-2012 winter (not counting “Snowtober“), the powdery white stuff has covered the ground enough to start cross country skiing.
I am new to this sport, but am excited to learn and improve my form. Tonight, using loaner skis and boots, I went out and tracked around Derryfield Park here in Manchester, NH. Thankfully it was dark and no one could see my graceless trek around the field. I got in three miles and feel invigorated. It seems like a great winter cross training activity to compliment my miles.
Now, I just need to get my own gear and learn some proper technique.
Over the summer I ran a race through a local park I knew little about called Bear Brook State Park. I’ve since come to believe that park may be the best outdoors destination in Southern New Hampshire.
The park is a paradise for anyone who runs, hikes or bikes. According to the NH State Parks website, this is the largest developed park in the state, with 40+ miles of trails in an area greater than 10,000 acres. There is plenty of flowing single track and snow mobile trails, hill climbing (Catamount Hill, Hall Mountain and lots of other ups, downs and ridge trails) and many stretches that just meander through the woods.
Bear Brook also offers swimming, camping and boating in the summer and snowmobiling and cross country skiing in the winter.
Warning: there is a lot of water in this park. In the warmer months, the deer flies come in flesh devouring swarms. If you want to brave the park in late spring or summer, try these Deer Fly Patches, they really work!