October 19, 2014

Marathon Training at the TARC Fall Classic

This fall I'm experimenting with re-entry into running; it must be a slow and careful process considering my hip health, which from now on will be an important factor. My seventh (?) Stone Cat Marathon is in early November and I've been building up my long runs cautiously.
A few weeks ago I tested my fitness at the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half Marathon, which was a rolling course on roads. I ran better than I expected, power-wogging, to average a 10:54 pace per mile. In the past, my 13.1 mile road finishes were under two-hours. Times are different; A major, side-lining, hip injury like FAI (look it up) will change one's pace and perspective. Today I am happy to gambol through the woods at any speed.
Taking training precautions —so my November trail marathon isn't a complete "slog fest"— I devised a long run of 18+ miles for this weekend. In doing so, I signed up for the TARC half-marathon (in Great Brook Farm, Carlisle, MA) and planned on completing the race before heading back out for an additional loop of 6.2 miles or more. During the half I was mindful of my objectives and did not run too hard in the final quarter. (2:46 finish.)
I felt good at seven miles (when I usually wish to call it a day) and still solid at 13 miles. What a relief. In contrast, last weekend's long run in Ward Reservation (Andover, MA) was difficult on my hips, lower back and confidence. I ran alone (which I usually love), got intentionally lost (as a way of adding more miles), and negotiated with an upset stomach (due to a waist pack).
Yesterday was refreshingly wonderful— I found myself in the zone a few times, not poo-pooing myself, and ready to go out for a third loop. With the company of Julie O and Michelle R, 13-19 miles was a treat.  We caught up on life;  I felt nostalgic, grateful, and ooby. We rolled into the Start/Finish area and Julie and Michelle were in the 50k so they scampered off for another lap. I ran out to find Peter, who was in the marathon, and as I left the abundant aid station, I spied him along the large field. What great timing. Running a section of his final lap with him was a gift. He was strong and positive; I wish I could have accompanied him on the whole loop but I was at my training goal distance and didn't want to test my luck. 
In the end I tallied 22 miles without feeling like ripe horse manure. If I play it smart these next three weeks, I can head into Stone Cat healthy and with my training homework complete.

A big thank you to the TARC community! The RD's (Josh and Jerimy),  an army of volunteers,  Norm S with his timing system, and all who make the day run smoothly. Thank you, too, for that guacamole.

August 14, 2014


I spent this morning in my plot at the Abbot Phillips Community Garden. With the end of summer near, I a decided to plant a few rows each of beets, turnips, and kale.  I felt sore about evicting a few bees from what was left of my zucchini crop.  Luckily, they have plenty of other plants in which to play and pollinate.
 Waiting for a taste
New crop: beets, turnips, and dwarf blue kale.

One of my goals this summer was to learn how to make jam— check. 
A bee visiting my berries!

I gathered enough blueberries for a batch and picked up a box of Pomona's Universal Pectin at Whole Foods; I was ready to rock and roll.

 Yum! cannot wait to try some!!
 A straight forward and clear video on making Low-Sugar Blueberry Jam by The Crafty Gemini can be found at ( and below. 

Note: I was short on jam mixture for a full four (half-pint) jars, as the recipe estimates; I had enough for 3.5, 8 oz/half-pint jars. Having a sterilized 4 oz jar ready is a good idea. Also, I sterilized my jars and lids for longer than the video recommended (30 minutes at a simmer).

August 05, 2014

New Kayak Seat Cover from Scratch

I recently bought a used 14' Corona Perception kayak from a friend (Thanks Bob!)  It's a nice rig but needed a seat-cover upgrade, especially as I plan on enjoying some longer paddling excursions this month!

Today I mined my bins of Malden Mills Polartec fabrics for some Neoprene. Unfortunately, all I found was small swatch of hot pink. Ordinarily I would be thrilled with this color but the reds, oranges and yellows in the kayak would clash with it too dramatically —even for me. 

Instead, I settled on some black technical, Neoprene-like, fleece and added an internal layer of  300-weight fleece for cushioning on the side against my back. Working off the original seat cover as a pattern —*before it disintigrates further— I fashioned a new cover, and used my cover-stitch machine and serger to reinforce seams.
(*photo is of the original seat cover, turned inside out)

The fit is nice and snug.  After creating tiny holes for the internal seat gadgets and hooks to pop through, I installed it back into the kayak and adjusted the cords.
The cover fits well in the front but pulls a back a bit (see photo) where the clips latch down. Still, it doesn't effect the performance. In fact the back attaches so securely to the seat, I had trouble unhooking it!

I vacuumed all the internal spaces of sand, cobwebs and possible spiders !
Now the cockpit cover is in place along with the hatches to make sure no creepy crawlies get in!

Online I found some 3mm leopard print Neoprene, which could work if I get frisky for an alternative cover choice....that isn't hot pink.