April 17, 2010

4 For Our Troops Run/Walk

How satisfying to be able to jog to the start of a race.

This morning I woke early enough to clear the sleep from my eyes, slip into my trainers and bop over to our town green to check in for the 4 For Our Troops run/walk, which benefited Homes for Our Troops

"Homes for Our Troops helps adapt existing homes or build specially adapted homes for Servicemen and Women who gave to their country and  have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries. —paraphrased from pamphlet

The event was free of charge but donations were encouraged. I dropped some greenbacks into the can, received a complimentary race t-shirt & goody bag with enough time to run back home drop it off, grab a pair of gloves & a hand-held, before  returning to the start with about 10 minutes to retie my sneakers a few times. 

The drizzle and 40-degree temperatures did not deter local townspeople, walkers and runners. I was happy to see so many familiar faces in the park to volunteer and participate. 

Today's Course
GPS Note: Technically the loop—to be repeated 4+ times—was  actually 1.25-miles.  I was happy about this, hoping to log more anyway. 
Start at the bandstand, head in the direction of the Townsman before turning left, sharply, onto Bartlett Street. Head up Bartlett's gradual incline. From Bartlett turn left onto Morton. There's a sizable hill on Morton, too, runnable and challenging. At the bottom of Morton at the intersection, take another left onto Chestnut Street before heading back into the park for another 3+ laps. 

April 15, 2010

Bikes, Brain Buckets, & Riding Clipless

I switched over to clipless pedals on my Bianchi Eros Donna and took it out for its first spin since the tune up. 

Not to be morbid, but for my first experience without clip/toe cages, I headed to a  cemetery to spin around and enjoy the learning process. The new system is a lot easier than I expected and it grants a full cycle of leg push & pull.  This will hopefully provide much needed muscular balance.  

This word captures clipless.  
Being alert, not zoning out, and 
expecting the unexpected in various circumstances. 
Cemetery-riding risk rating: low. 
Commuter-hour riding risk rating: high. 

On my inaugural ride I heard a new sound that was not present before the tune up. So, back to the bike shop. so they culd finish what they started. They'd accidentally left some of their screws loose (pun intended for comic effect) and found that the derailleur chimed against the spokes like a mechanical harpsichord—but only with weight and forward motion.
Buchika's fixed it on the spot and with great customer service. The mechanics are a lot of laughs and didn't flinch when I asked if they had any handlebar tape in HOT PINK leopard. The catalogs came out, we flipped through pages of tape from various suppliers but no such luck. Not giving in too easily to defeat, they uncovered a  bin—a time capsule—of 1980's fluorescent plastic handlebar tape (green, pink, etc.) stored along with dusty VHS copies of Breaking Away and American Flyers

Plastic tape in those colors? I thought about it, considered it seriously, but couldn't do it. It would have felt like installing neon windshield wiper blades on a Jaguar. Versus the stylish, possibly Italian inspired, cork leopard print. That would fit. 

Dear Universe,
Please send some leopard print handlebar tape. 
I would purr almost as loudly with some zebra tape.
With Affection, 
The Trail Pixie

To protect my noggin, I'm considering investing in a new, more comfortable, helmet. Being both playful and practical, my little quandry is that I am drawn to the Nutcase Helmets but think the comfort of an aerodynamic brain bucket might trump a Nutcase. 
The Contenders

 Can I wear a 
watermelon print hemet 
with my Bianchi? 
Why the fruit salad not!

April 10, 2010

Perfect Conditions Along The Rivah!

The Merrimack River Trail Race begins about 6 miles from home so after a leisurely morning, I arrived at 8:15 am to a parking lot buzzing with runner energy. After picking up my number and most excellent 2010 race t-shirt, I paid homage to the clothesline display of Rivah race shirts commemorating the past 18 years! This year marked its 19th running!
With time to spare, I caught up with friends and fellow running gumbas (you know who you are) in the parking lot and was happy to see my colleague Mika and his family make it to the race after an early morning of swimming lessons with their kids. Several GAC runners were already out on the course and got back in time to run another 10 miles for the race. Impressive!

The course conditions cannot be judged by what one experiences at the trail head.  Despite chilled hands for the first 2 miles, I warmed up for the rest and had layered wisely. This year there was a head wind heading out AND heading back. There was enough mud to get good and dirty, enough water to get the feet wet and enough breeze to cool off and sun to warm up. This was the best I've seen the course; it was also very well marked. Many thanks to those who posted the flags and set mile markers. Also, no ticks! Yet, I still feel the creepy crawlies when I think about them.

The power lines are stomping, chewing and biting grounds for deer ticks so before the start  I slathered some herbal and non-herbal Deet concoctions over my most tasty-to-ticks spots and hoped for the best. 
I thought that by the time all the other runners had gone through the power line area, the ticks would have been well-fed by the other runners,  I would then pass by just in time for their dessert.  YUM.

This was the longest I'd run in over three weeks so I was committed to treat at least the first 2/3 of the 10+ mile race as a training run.  The last 1/3 would be tempo. I took walk breaks about every five minutes for one minute, even on the flats, and power-hiked the inclines. This is not the 10-mile race strategy for many, I know.  I am nursing a pinched nerve, and am approaching my 2010 running with a more balanced outlook than past years, namely with the addition of a lot more cross training.  No apologies. No excuses. My approach at a happy-go-trail-pixie pace
Photo Credit: Steve Wolfe
Today's goal was to begin to ramp up the miles, run (not race) comfortably at conversational pace while maintaining an average of 10:30 minute miles. Despite finishing 6 minutes slower than last year, I felt so much better throughout the run this year. Only in the last mile did I begin to feel the effects of picking up to tempo pace. Goals Met.

Photo Credit:  Krissy Kozlosky
The runners & volunteers, Dave Dunham and his crew, & the Chamberas family, all make this race flow smoothly. AND, of course, Steve Peterson, the RD. He is full of positive energy and adds a positive spark to the pre- and post-race festivities. Petey puts the FUN in Fundraising.  

 Not for Yahoos
In the raffle, I scored a brick of Yoohoo chocolate drink and an IllumiNite reflective crossing-guard smock and can sew this mini bolt of fluorescent yellow fabric into something more runner/rider useful. But then again, I am an art teacher so the smock angle still has studio/street cred.

April 04, 2010

Butter Bunnies

My father's family has a tradition of carving a small butter lamb (baranek) for the Easter Sunday dinner table. Short on time, I crafted these butter bunnies instead. Their eyes are pepper corns and their whiskers are rosemary springs.

April 01, 2010

Skug Discoveries

How do I know it is spring? 
While on a trail run, I ate a small flying insect.

Today the Skug River Trail was swarming with growth and green.  I stopped a lot on my run, kneeled in the wet mush, soiled my knees, tuned my camera to macro and started clicking.

Trail Pixie's 
Spring Foolin' Photo Journal:
The Moss Woozle, as discovered in its native habitat.

 Eggs from an unidentifiable animal. 

 The tiniest of Bark Breasts.

Frog sublimation. 

 Class 5 Frog Rapids.

Wild Wet Willies.
Less known as beaver, badger and bear Q-Tips.

Here's my prince enjoying the care-free current:

While some folks try to skirt a flooded trail, 
I decided the best approach was 
to pass directly through the drink:

 Trail Pixie Water-Crossing Wisdom: