April 29, 2009

"Hair of the Dog" Art Show

On May 1st the The Essex Art Center (Lawrence, MA) will host "Hair of the Dog" art exhibit and wine tasting event—with live music!

This fundraiser benefits the MSPCA at Nevins Farm. Tickets are $25 at the door. 100% of the ticket sales help the animals and programs of Nevins Farm, as do 10% of all art and liquor sales.

I'll be one of the participating artists and will exhibit pieces from my new mixed-media drawing series.

"Strange Cases: Jackals & Hydes," a pun on the novella of a similar title, explores themes around split personalities, character and identity—in animals. Inspired by the original novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by R.L. Stevenson, and its related psychological connections, I discovered both its humorous and horrific coupling with animals and ink blots.

The black and white compositions technically and symbolically mirror duplicitous divisions. I hope to release animals trapped in their blots.

In a quasi "exquisite corpse"—or perhaps a case of genetic roulette—I visually alter and combine the heads and bodies of different manimals to form new ones. These Franken-creatures take on new personalities and attributes, and draw attention to those lost; some are surely doomed toward extinction, others freed from their previous confines.

Oh I must not forget, "Walter, The Shy Brother of Curious George."

He wanted me to tell you that
he hopes to see you there.

April 26, 2009

XTERRA Muddy Moose Trail Race (Steamin' Moose Mud)

At 8 a.m. it was nearly 80 degrees in Wolfeboro, NH for the 10th annual Muddy Moose Trail Races.

This crazy trail run is a test of one's endurance and patience for muddy hills, muddy rocks and sticks, muddy feet and muddy mud. Even though the course was drier due to the HOT weather, it was still muddy generous. Only one draw back: no moose. Our squishing, slotching and splashing probably scared 'em away.

I'd sewn some pink Gator-Bait Gaiters specifically for this trail run because I like the idea of the color pink being soiled with mud. Heh heh heh. I also wanted to test out a new design and fabric so I purposefully passed through later "muddles," (mud + puddle = muddle). (See above inset.)

Photo of post-race, machine-washed gaiters:
licked clean of moose mud.

Two years ago I ran here but today the course seemed different, probably because it sort of was. I was blown away (no pun intended) by the July 2008 tornado's destructive path. The massive upheaval of vast forest lay testimony to the tornado's natural power and beauty. What a sight: Lakes Region Aerials.

Despite the heat and humidity, I managed to feel pretty good throughout the race and power hiked a lot of the early uphills. I didn't want to get too winded nor bonk and planned on having some mucking fun out there today! Success. By the second half of the race, I'd either "warmed up," acclimatized OR the temperature dropped because I was coasting into the final three miles.

It was an "uphell" finish for about the last mile so I was happy to share Dave R's company. By this point my camel back was sucked dry and my Scooby snacks devoured. I'd put two nuun pills into my water bladder, taken three Endurolytes during the run and drowned some Sharkies. My hydration and nutrition plan worked out well.

While a lot of other folks mud wrestled, my goof ball wipe out was on a flat—quite runnable and early—section. My feet got caught up with a feisty branch and I face planted into mushy muddy grass complete with the stick up my skirt. naughty naughty. This must have been a humorous site, especially because no one (nor stick) was hurt in the process. I hope there are no photos of this incident.

Well, even though I ate all of my treats, little did I know there was a feeding frenzy on my exposed back. At about mile 10, I felt something sucking on my lower back and swiped away the attached critter (wasp, bee, Amazon mosquito?). Apparently I'd interrupted a little picnic party! What a bad hostess. Unfortunately, these welts are bigger than they appear in the photo! The bites are red, not my beauty spots which are taupe. Trail Pixie is no worse for the wear.

All-in-all it was a good run for me in very hot and humid weather, which is not my strength. My time was 30 minutes slower than when I ran two years ago at the 2006 Moose when it was 40 degrees, wet and cold. I enjoyed meeting up with Trailgrrl, Randy W, Nipmuck Dave, Tom P, Jen S, Barry P and Paul, and a few Monsters from Maine! XTERRA 2009 Muddy Moose Results: here.

April 25, 2009

Doctor's Orders: Pump Iron & Run

"Keep up the long-distance running and start lifting weights," my doctor recommends, "because studies show than running [alone] doesn't guard against loss of bone density."
Of course, I'll heed the advice but investigated this directive and found some interesting results from a recent study (2/09) at the University of Missouri, on men ages 19-45:

"The results of the study confirm that both resistance training and high-impact endurance activities increase bone mineral density. However, high-impact sports, like running, appear to have a greater beneficial effect,” said Pam Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

Hinton's study on Low BMI and Bone Loss in Young Women (5/08) showed that "bone mass in women peaks at age 30 and is stable until age 50 when a rapid loss begins to occur. Men stay relatively steady over time and do not experience a significant bone loss until age 70."

She also found that "the skeleton responds to impact or weight-bearing activity such as running, soccer, volleyball, group exercise classes, and resistance training. Swimming, walking and cycling will not help build or maintain bone mass.

Hello, old friend
With the advice to start pumping iron, coupled with the above research, I'll attempt to augment my fitness plan. Adding another element to will prove a balancing act—especially of time. In the past I've mixed things up (various combos of running, cycling, spinning, lifting, yoga, etc.) but found that at eventually there were too many activities in the ring before one got knocked out. Still, it's worth another round.

Some benefits will be work-out variety, guarding against particular over-use injuries and, of course, keeping up my BMD.
I love to cycle—about as much as running—so the bike stays in the picture.

After months and months of running as my major bread and butter, when I road for the first time this season I was pleasantly surprised at how many miles can be traveled in so little time.
How many bike miles equal one mile of running?
My first longer, windy, farm land ride of the season.
(imagine the scent of cow manure.)

This is going to be fun!

April 22, 2009

A Ward Spring Welcome

Over a month passed since my last run through Ward Reservation. It's usually my staple stomping ground but I've been remiss in my training here. With a free afternoon, I was excited to check out my favorite trails and fool around along those I'd yet to explore.

Woah, the beavers are building! Deer ticks are also active so I spritzed myself with "Don't Bug Me: All Natural Insect Repellent" by Earth Sisters. What a great product; it works, it's natural and the blend of essential oils smells wonderful. I bumbled upon it at a farmer's market in Plymouth, MA. I couldn't locate the exact item on line but did see repellent with the same name by Three Sisters Farms.

See how I am becoming invisible? The potion is taking effect. Hidden to bugs, I fluttered into the woods. Mud, moss, leaves, buds, and cooties—par for the spring-trail course. Widow-makers lurked and fallen branches toyed along Shrub Hill like tossed pick-up-sticks. Soon the skunk cabbage will make its presence known but today its fragile leaves poked through the stream muck near Boston Hill.

Now "invisible,"
I attempt to float—
undetected—over these rocks.

Maybe I'll ascend the same up to Elephant Rock?Link
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Spring sent its calling card in March, which was highlighted by a leisurely group training run through Trustees of the Reservations properties and adjacent AVIS land. In February, I ran solo through the snow. What a difference two months makes:

A winter scurry: 2.7.09.
See you in the spring...

Out of "hibernation..."
A spring-fever pass from: 4.20.09.

at last . . . Spring!

April 18, 2009

You OTTER RUN This 5k

Race Director Michael and his 3C Race Productions family organized the 1st Annual Otter Run 5k in the Mine Falls Park, in Nashua, NH.

If you are new to trails &/or cross-country, you otter run this 5k! While the course offers pavement and double-track trail, it can challenge both the trail-curious and seasoned off-road runners. The hot top begins at the starting line until the dirt access road (near the park entrance) and reappears for a stretch between miles one and two. Otherwise it's unpaved and flast (flat + fast = flast).

For the more experienced trail runner, &/or those who seek technical footing over undulating hills, you will not find it on this race course. Still, if you wish to tempo run on a hard-packed surface you otter return in 2010!

While water is a theme along the entire 5k, it's available for drinking before the start and at the finish. If you get thirsty in 5ks, best to carry it with you. Those canals and ponds don't taste as potable to us non-otter folk.

I arrived early and jogged the marked 5k course to collect these photos:

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My priority was to procure the cute otter-faced race t-shirt for my woodland critters collection. I also hoped to explore unfamiliar woods and test my turnover after the 10 mile trail race last weekend—and three back-to-back days of training.

During the race, I increased my pace by over 10 seconds per mile and finished up with what felt like a hobble but was surprisingly a sub-seven swoosh. In hindsight, I went out a bit too fast for my taste though I was comfortable and
adequately challenged throughout, as tempo running promises. With a mile remaining and no one on my tail, I eased up and watched two women ahead trade positions. Too bad Tom P was under the weather or we'd have finished even closer together—most likely, with him leading and me impersonating the run and slide land-travel technique of the North American "Trail" Otter.

For Otter Run 5k overall results click here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Having recently run at Beaver Brook and now the Otter Run, I got to comparing these two animals...

River Otters are members of the weasel family. These mammals have 36 teeth, tails that are 1/3 of their length, and are carnivores. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 8 minutes, spend 2/3 of their time on land and live in burrows, with elaborate tunneling systems, near the water. Sometimes they take over abandoned beaver lodges. They have webbed back feet, grow up to 4 feet and about 25 pounds. Their babies are born toothless and blind. For more play with river otters roll here.

North American Beavers are among the largest rodents and are herbivores. Their front teeth never stop growing. With webbed back feet and wide flat tails they're excellent swimmers that can remain underwater for 15 minutes. Wild life architects they build dams and live in lodges, which house extended families. These mammals mate for life. They grow to 4+ feet and can weigh over 40 pounds. For more Beaver information gnaw here or here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Two additional 3C Race Productions races staged out of Mine Falls Park are the Moose on the Loose 10 mile Trail Race (8.23.09) and the Jack London 10k Trail Race (11.7.09).

In researching Mine Falls Park, I found this informative site: Hiking with Chuck.

Thanks for reading! See you on the trails!

April 15, 2009

Once A Runner: Back in Print

With great anticipation,
Once A Runner, by John L. Parker, Jr., is back in print.

On July 12, 2008, I excitedly pre-ordered a copy from the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and awaited its release. I'd waited long before—in vain—for a missing library copy to magically re-appear. Also, past years were dog-eared by hopeful searches through donated books at second-hand shops. Alas. April 7, 2009, rolled around and I received word. My copy was on its way!

Back in 2004, I saw the book's inviting title with its cover featuring a shirtless (buff) man in shorts gazing through a window. This, of course, was the earlier (1990) edition of Once A Runner. I almost purchased it on the spot for under $20. Little did I know that it would be impossible to find for sale (at an affordable price) or pilfered from library shelves prohibiting borrowing! By 2007, the novel "ranked as the number one most sought-after out-of-print book in the United States."

"Originally self-published [by Parker] in 1978 and sold at road races out of the trunk of the author's car....," who would have predicted its monetary value as a collector's item would soar so high—in addition to its inspiring influence in the running community as a piece of literature. Thanks to Simon & Schuster we can keep the dream alive. Quentin Cassidy, here I come.

For the 2009 edition, check your local bookstore, the publisher Simon & Schuster, or Amazon.

April 13, 2009

Merry Merrimack River Trail Run

Saturday was the 18th Merrimack River Trail Race. Despite living Andover for over 20 years, where the race is held, this was my first MRTR. In past years I enjoyed watching Paul Y and other muddy & bloody runners cross the finish. I've trained along the MRT—mostly via Deer Jump—but I decided that this year I would run the race proper. April 11, turn to: run + rivah x mud/hills = fun.

The week before, I explored what I thought might be the official course. My last outing along the Merrimack was during a rainy & cold March Monday where iced terrain turned to snowy mush underfoot. It was also well over a year since I last ran the entire length of the trail so I was fuzzy at various junctions and made some turns that the race did not.
No p
I love discovering new trails and this run provided the opportunity; it felt like Frost’s Road Not Taken in motion.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…”

Race Day. I was delighted to see some folks I’d been training with recently in addition to the friendly familiar trail & mountain race running regulars! Still, I missed not seeing some runners!
The race itself rumble-tumbled along and served its share of slippery wooded water crossings and roller-coaster hills. I was delighted the ravine had been thatched prior to the race!
At the start, I seeded myself near the back and warmed up with a sustainable tempo pace. In the first miles I plugged along with Vivian and about ½ mile with “Iron-Finn” Mika before he rocketed off towards woodsy oblivion. Recently off a Nordic ski marathon, he ran MRT to train for an upcoming orienteering event. Vivian also just logged two consecutive days of time trials on the bike. Moi? I prepared ahead with relaxing rest days.

Rob M and kZ were up ahead with Bill H. I met Bill in March during the MS Fells run when we sprinted into the finish! The MRTR was a tempo f/run for me, so Bill and I will need to play plan our squirrel-shirted re-match! Seriously, kZ tapped into his magical Pro Bar energy; he was speee-dy! His fancy foot-prancing moves along the Blue Hills toned him for this "Dancing with the Rocks" debut!

Well, as several of my trail training gumbas raced ahead, I ran happily with Brain G. We worked together by bantering, pushing and pulling each other along. We missed running with Diane L—who, like Brian, is awesome at the ascents! By mile nine Brian's tank was full throttle and he reared ahead, while I animated my best tick impression trying to stick with him to the finish! We passed a few folks in the remaining ½ mile. I got a rise out of Rob's great attitude—he was as cheerful as a bee bopping along.

Here are a few photos taken during the awards and raffle ceremony with the lively Steve Peterson, RD.

Results a la Grand Tree:
click on me.

Many links to more photos via cool running: here.

April 05, 2009

Busy at the Beaver Brook 5k

What a busy weekend! With spring fever in the air, I headed to Hollis, NH, for the Beaver Brook 5k. This race was appealing because it was held entirely on trails, was nearby and the race shirt had a beaver on it.

The secret is out; I am working on my "woodland friends" race t-shirt collection!

Held in Beaver Brook Association—with a wooden foot bridge and a small water crossing—the race was just shy of a 5k. The out & back course started with a fast down hill and ended with the same long "not-as-fast" uphill. Before the start the RD, Michael (of 3CRace Productions), motivated us to run quickly else THE GIANT "man-eating" beaver might catch us!

Dam wouldn't you know it, on my way back I thought I saw some swamp activity between a giant beaver and one of the runner's dogs; they were in a tug-of-war over a fallen tree branch. Then I spotted this non-threatening young kit in the parking lot. What's going on?

These photos capture some pre- & post race milling about and a doggy head count. I think all pooches made it out of the woods—except for one (but he got that branch).

Despite knowing that beavers are herbivores, I managed to run faster than I set out to and landed second woman overall. Where did that come from? Eerr, did you know that beavers can swim up to five miles per hour?

Beavers can also remain underwater for 15 minutes without surfacing.
This was a relief because I submerged this one under a "21+" beverage in my new pint glass. For more beaver information chew on this: National Geographic or Beaver Pictures & Facts.

The Beaver Brook 5k was an adventurous, low-key, trail race that proved an excellent work-out for both seasoned and first-time trail runners! Thanks for rescheduling it.

April 04, 2009

Blue Hills "DRB" Training Run

Saturday a group of us met up, including some folks from Trail Animals Running Club, for a run in the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Mass. The "plan" was to train the TARC *DRB 50k course at a comfortable 13-15 minute/mile pace. While I can't make year's DRB, exploring the vast Blue Hills Reservation with a seasoned running group was very rewarding. (*Don't Run Boston.)

From the outset I only intended to complete the first loopy section. This turned out to be 12 miles. 12 "rocky, hilly, vista-gorging" miles. Four of us felt sated with this effort. Still, the others, some having traveled from VT and NH, remained hungry and headed back into the woods to forage more steep inclines.
Perhaps you'll run/hike a TARC event in the Blue Hills? If you do, bring their marked course map, complemented by the dcr's $2 map.

Thanks to Dan for sharing his Scooby Snacks with me when my lunch box was empty and to Kevin for the post0-run breakfast treat. Nice to see you Bogie and also Chris, and to meet Steve & Deb Pero, Steve and Jeff and Damon. I hope to see you all again sometime in the woods, on the trails and amidst more "unleashed" Trail Animals.