Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, full of tradition, family and happy memories. This year was no let down.
From Turkey Trot to Turkey dinner, Christmas decorating and more, this year’s holiday weekend was a much needed break from the daily grind and a chance to recharge and have some fun.
Thanksgiving morning the family woke with the sun, we donned our running gear and headed out the door for the first of our Turkey Day rituals: the Greater Derry Track Club Turkey Trot 5K. This year was the 40th anniversary of the race and the crowd was as big as ever, with 1,248 runners! The GDTC does a great job organizing this race and the course is very beautiful as it rolls along the shores of Beaver Lake in Derry, NH.
The whole family took part for the first time this year, with both of my sons running. Julia and I both had good showings, she took 3rd overall woman (and won a turkey) and I set a new PR of 17:50. My oldest cut minutes off his previous time on the course and Julia’s sister walked the course with the little guy. My in-laws always come out to cheer and it’s great to see them at the finish. A great time was had by all.
After the race, it’s always a whirlwind of prep work in the kitchen. This year we whipped up a crock pot full of butternut squash risotto and a sticky toffee pecan pudding cake to take to the brother-in-law’s place. Dinner was a flash of settling the kids in and fellowshipping over a huge spread of traditional turkey and stuffing.
After the meal, we headed outdoors with the kiddos to throw around the football and avoid the post-dinner energy slump, just like I remember doing as a kid. I’m thankful that my kids get to do many of the same things (and more) that I enjoyed growing up. Following the football foray, we headed in for some pie and some early gift swapping.
Of course, the long weekend is a nice treat and this year the weather has been good (if not a tad cold) and I’ve scored a few nice trail runs. I am thankful to have witnessed this particular vista from the north end of Tower Hill Pond in Auburn, NH, as the sun came over the horizon.
Another great tradition for us is the Christmas Parade. We attend the one in Derry with Julia’s parents and always end up running into old friends. I particularly enjoy the marching bands and the show they put on and the kids anxiously await Mr. and Mrs. Clause, who ride in the fire truck at the tail end of the parade
All these traditions and activities are great, but I think my favorite Thanksgiving weekend occurrence is the Christmas decorating. Each year, we start this by heading to Noel’s Tree Farm in Litchfield, NH, for our Christmas tree. The farm is a fantastic little place, complete with cut-your-own, fires for warming and marshmallow roasting, tractor rides, a tree maze and, for the first time this year, fireworks! The staff is always very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. This year they guided us to a new variety of tree, a concolor, which has long, soft needles and a lemony scent. After getting it home, setting it up and stringing the lights, we enjoyed a quiet family morning of adorning the house in celebration of the birth of the Christ-child.
And that, when it really gets down to it, is the whole point of this season of thankfulness, decoration, family, lights and gift giving. It’s a celebration and reflection of the wonderful gifts bestowed on us by the Father.
So, during this season of thanksgiving, I am thankful for the blessing of my family, our traditions and the wonderful memories we continue to make each and every day, and the love of God and His influence in our lives.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, too! What are some of your favorite traditions and memories?
Whether you’re running a Turkey Trot or just hanging out with family, I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving!
One of my favorite foods has always been peanut butter. So, being the health nut I am, I was very excited when I learned I could make my own.
This recipe is very simple and only takes about 5 minutes from start to finish. I love it because I know exactly what’s going into my peanut butter and it tastes great! I hope you enjoy it, too.
What you need:
- Food processor
- Jar of peanuts (or Almonds if you prefer Almond Butter)
Note: if you are using raw nuts, you will need to add some oil
Empty your jar of peanuts into the food processor and turn it on. As the food processor works it’s magic, the oils in the peanuts will begin releasing and in about 1-2 minutes you will have a fresh batch of peanut butter. Scoop out the peanut butter into your container. It’s that simple!
Here’s a short video of how to make it:
As the mercury begins to plummet and the days grow shorter, you may be thinking it’s time to pack away those running shoes for the winter or retreat into the gym. I’d encourage you to stop and reconsider running through the winter.
I picked up running 10 years ago this fall, but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I finally made the decision to run through the winter. That decision has had a huge impact on my running. As we head into the cold season, here are a few reasons why you should do this too and some tips for getting out there in those frigid, dark hours.
- Running through the winter will keep you from loosing all that hard work you put in during the warmer months. There’s more to it than that though. By not resting on your laurels through the winter, you’re poised to kick your running up a notch when the weather warms up again. It’s like having a jump start on the next season.
Winter holds its own unique beauty. On a frigid morning or when a fresh blanket of snow is falling to the ground, there’s a calm in the air you won’t experience during any other part of the year. It’s like a hush settles over the entire landscape and you can relish in the peace and solitude. I love those moments on a snowy winter morning, before the plow trucks come through, when I can make my own path through the fresh snow on a vacant street.
- And possibly the best reason for running in the winter: it’s hardcore. I mean, seriously, how many other people do you see out there when it’s this cold?
Once you’ve made the decision to run through the winter (which I’m sure you will because you want to be hardcore), here are some things I’ve found helpful in getting myself out the door:
- Buy the right gear and wear layers. My decision to run through the winter coincided with finally having the proper equipment for it. Tights and compression shirts are my indispensable base layers. Add additional layers on top of those, and don’t forget a wind breaker. I finally got a baklava last season and it makes all the difference on those days when it’s below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, a headlamp is indispensable, especially if you want to hit the trails or don’t want to get hit while running on twisty-turny, unlit roads.
- Make the commitment to going out and don’t be wishy-washy about it. Deciding ahead of time and making a plan will make it much easier when push comes to shoving you out the door.
- If running in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before. This will speed you out the door in the morning (let’s face it, it takes longer to get ready to run in the winter) and adds a level of commitment to your decision to get out of bed at 5 a.m. when it’s 0 degrees out.
- Run in the middle of the day, when it’s warmest. This is also good because it gives you sun exposure during a season when there isn’t much of it.
- Set goals. Whether its a weekly mileage goal or a spring race, this will help keep your motivation up and your training on track.
- And finally, if you must, run indoors. Try getting creative with this one. If you have a treadmill, don’t just settle for your same old treadmill pace. Mix it up with hills and tempo running. The mill is boring, but if you challenge yourself, it will make the time pass more quickly. My personal favorite is setting the machine to its steepest incline and going as fast as possible, as long as possible. Another indoor option if you have a tall tower near you: ask if you can use the stairwell to do stair repeats. This will keep you indoors, off the treadmill and give you an insane workout.
Alright, now get out there, get running and stay warm!
Have your own tips for winter running? Have questions about running in the cold? I’d love to hear them and answer what I can. Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter – @outdoorsnh
Over the summer, I received an e-mail form my track club (AARC) saying that the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, Mass., was looking for volunteers to lead pace groups. Since my wife , Julia, and I are always looking for an excuse to run long, we knew immediately that we wanted to volunteer for this.
The Baystate Marathon is a flat, fast course known regionally for qualifying 25% of its runners for Boston (I attempted to hit my own BQ there several years ago, but missed by about 12 minutes), so pace groups are especially important for getting as many runners to their BQ as possible.
The morning of the marathon was chilly but beautiful. A nearly full moon lit the early morning sky and the sun quickly warmed the air. After a short drive from Manchester, a quick check-in and a few bathroom stops, we donned our blaze-orange shirts and lined up at the start line with our 3:45 pace sign.
Without the normal anxiety that accompanies racing, we were free to mingle with the many runners around us who were nervous. Another member of our track club, Ernesto, was leading the group in front of us to a 3:30 finish. We chatted with him briefly before honing in on our spot in the start coral and answering questions about running in the pace group. Most people asked whether we would run a steady pace or follow some other tactic for finishing in the set time frame. Julia and I had already decided it would be in the best interest of everyone wanting to use our pace group if ran consistent 8:30 splits throughout the duration, so we let everyone know that.
When the starting gun went off, we were careful not to let the group get carried away with the initial rush that comes at the start of every race. We eased into our assigned 8:30 pace. It took a little getting used to, but we quickly found our groove at the slower-than-usual speed and settled in with the runners around us. Julia and I used each other as sounding boards to make sure we were sticking to the best pace for the group.
The weather only got better as the morning progressed and my wife chatted with some of the other ladies at the front of the group. We rolled easily along the Merrimack River and finished the first loop of the course. As we came into the last 10 or so miles of the course, I began checking on the status of different portions of the group, seeing if anyone needed energy gels, encouraging runners to drink water and to stick with the pace.
With about eight miles to go, we picked up the 3rd member of our pace group, Curt, who was out there for a good run and to make sure Ernesto, Julia and I were all set. Because Julia, Ernesto and I all wanted to run the full marathon, he graciously agreed to spot us for the last half of the race. He had picked up Ernesto around mile 15 and then ran with us to the end.
The final miles of the race went smoothly and we encouraged as many runners to stick with the pace as possible. Julia took several of the ladies we had been running with ahead, for a faster finish, while Curt and I hung back at the 8:30 pace. I ran into a fellow Airman from Westover ARB around mile 23 who had been experiencing some serious cramping in his legs since mile 10. He hooked up with us and ran with the pace group to the end (and knocked over an hour off his previous PR!).
After 26.2 miles, Julia, Curt and I brought our group in right on schedule. My Garmin showed a total elapsed time of 3:44;53.
One funny thing that happened throughout the course of the race involved our pace group sign. It was a 3-ft, 1″x2″ stick with a laminated pace sign on the top. When we started, Julia and I planned to toss it at the designated water stop. However, by the time we realized we could get rid of it, it had become a matter of pride to continue holding it. We ended up taking turns with the sign throughout the entire race and brought it home at the end of the day!
Following the race, we had many runners come to us and thank us for helping them reach their goals. It was extremely rewarding and humbling to know we played a small part in helping other runners achieve the goals they had worked for months and years to accomplish.
The opportunity to pace was rewarding in other ways as well. Contributing to the running community as a whole, and not just worrying about my own goals, was a great, reinvigorating feeling. It helped reinforce to me that running is about more than PRs. It’s about the community of runners, the shared experience and the indelible memories you form with loved ones when you do something crazy like running a marathon.
I hope you enjoy this video. If you’d rather read, below is the transcript from the video and some photographs.
On January 14, 1942, a B-18 Bolo left Westover Air Field, Mass., to scour the Atlantic for Nazi U-boats. The bomber and two of it’s crew members would never return.
After becoming lost in the New England winter weather, the crew crash landed the WWII aircraft on the side of Mt. Waternomee.
The wreckage remains there to this day and is accessible via a 5-mile, round trip hike. Park at Walker Brook Rd., off Rt. 118, which is just a short, five minute drive from North Woodstock, NH.
The hike begins on a gently sloping fire road. Travel along this track for about a mile until it empties into a small field. Take a right here and head into the woods. The trail meanders along a tributary of Walker Brook for about a quarter mile before crossing it and climbing steeply up the slopes of Mt. Waternomee.
After climbing for about a mile, over steep, but not overly-technical trail, you will reach the first of the remains of the B-18 — it’s engines. The rest of the wreckage is scattered across a football field-sized area and a series of small paths take you to different pieces of the plane, including the fuselage, landing gear assemblies and a large portion of the wing with the U.S. Star and Stripes insignia still visible.
Be sure to respect this piece of U.S. Heritage and do not disturb any of the wreckage.
After spending time exploring, make the return trip to the parking lot. Be sure to stop in North Woodstock after your hike. The Woodstock Inn and Brewery has excellent food and brews!
This video is dedicated to the two enlisted Army Air Corps men who lost their lives in this crash:
PVT Ray Lawrence, Worchester, Ma. – Gunner
PVT Noah Phillips, Fayetteville, AR – Bombardier
After a rainy start to summer, August has brought some of the best weather I can remember to the Granite State! The skies are crystal clear, the humidity is low and there’s almost a bite of Fall in the air.
I had the opportunity to run the NH Audobon Society trails along Lake Massabesic last night. Here’s a view of the lake that I feel encompasses the last few weeks of weather.