Hamsters and Haunted Houses

Well, since its early in my Dopey training still, the miles are definitely the least interesting part of my week. LOL

I did get in 8 miles Saturday morning – in great fall like temps. And, saw a little bit of foliage. Which may be all we get this year. This weather is just not foliage-friendly. 😦

I mean yesterday, when I went out for a 4.5 miler, it was 70, 100% humidity and a dew point of 71. It was like running in the amazon jungle – or, you know, Disney in January. LOL

But I am SO ready for it to get cooler and stay there. Because November will bring two of my favorite races – Edaville Rail Run and Attleboro Gobble Wobble. And i’d rather not run them in tank tops.

So what have I been up to since i’m not running much? Hamsters and Haunted Houses.

Eddie Van Hamster is proving himself to be QUITE the little character.

We’ve been letting him explore nightly in his hamster ball. And he runs around his cage like such a crazy man I kind of want to see if there’s a Hamster Ninja Warrior competition – because he could totally win. 😀

Sure, he’s no Gus. But he’s small and cute and fuzzy and makes me smile.

The reason I did a rare Saturday run this weekend was so we could go do something on Sunday that we have always wanted to do. Tour a haunted castle.

We went to Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA.

Its the home of inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr. and its absolutely amazing. It has so much detail that you could go through fifty times and still find something you’ve never noticed.

It also totally haunted. And no, I didn’t see a ghost while I was there – but you could just feel it. I mean, does this not LOOK haunted?

And this fireplace? The lighting? Totally creepy.

There was actually one spot where I looked around a corner, saw this door that scared the crud out of me and jumped.

Its not ALL dark and spooky – there’s a gorgeous room with an open ceiling and a pond that feels like something out of Epcot. 

But, still….overall? Definitely creepy cool.

And actually, come to think about it? A Haunted Mansion totally fits for Dopey training. 😀

86 Days to the first race…wonder what other Disney themed fun I can find this week.

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Sole Sister Stroll – Ocean Road 10k

So week one of Dopey Challenge training ended with me channeling my inner Ariel.

At the Ocean Road 10k in lovely Narragansett, RI.

Since I was supposed to be coming off a marathon (the one I ended up two-parting) and my sole sister had been having training issues, we decided to just fun run it. No time goal, just fun and sparkles and 6.2 miles of scenery – oceans and mansions and seaside charm.

When we pulled up to the parking lot facing the beach at SIX AM (eek!) there was the most spectacular sunrise. And we knew it would be a good day.

We got our bibs, took the bus to the start at Point Judith lighthouse and tried to stay warm. Because it was suddenly fall (well played, October) and I was a little underdressed (shorts were not my best idea), so I ended up wearing my fleece zipup for most of the race.

We dressed in full-on sparkle…me in mermaid on mermaid skirt & visor and her in blue & blue. And we were a total hit with the runners and spectators. LOL #itsallaboutthesparkle Both wearing our buddy pouches to carry our gear and buddy clips to keep our bibs secure against the ocean breeze we were ready.

I met lots of people from the Facebook group (for disney runners of course) i’m in at both the start and finish, and I always make new friends at races so we had lots of fun chatting while we waited. And then, off we went.

Slow and steady, with a run/walk plan we made our way along the course. Stopping for photos and water stops and just having fun. Swapping stories and catching up on each other’s lives.

We saw a cow driving a van….

And some cool rock cairns on the beach…

And this fairy-tale castle gate that just begged for a photo. 

The miles flew by and before we knew it we could see the finish. We entered the chute and I noticed that the person before us had crossed and we had it wide open. My sole sister looked over at me and said “wanna race?” Heck yeah! With a wide grin we sprinted to the finish. I can only imagine the sheer joy coming through in those pictures. 🙂

After the race we sat on the beach for a bit, just taking it all in, taking pictures and chatting with other runners.  

Took the “finisher photo” 🙂 

And then… I saw this mangy blonde terrier walking up the beach. And thought of how my Gus hated the beach (mama this smells funny, can we go yet). I walked over to say hi to the puppy, who, delighted with me, started running around in figure 8’s coming back to ‘play pose’ in front of me. I laughed and asked his name. It was Goose. My heart clenched for a moment but instead I said “you are one silly Goose” and with one more pat walked away.

Its been two weeks today and I still so very much miss my baby boy, but I know encounters like this are his way of saying he’s with me. Watching over me and making sure i’m okay. Thanks bubba. Love you.

We took the obligatory ‘sole sister shoe’ photo

and found someone had spelled 10k in rocks, which was perfect for a medal pic.

This ‘its not a race, its an adventure’ was exactly what I needed. Good friends and the sea? They both heal.

Two-part marathon / Adirondack by the numbers

Yes, I know, two halves don’t make a whole when it comes to racing. But, when you’re trained for 26.2 and your marathon gets downsized for heat issues, you have two choices.

1) Find a new marathon
2) Double down

Since the last time I attempted #1, I broke my hip and was on the DL for six months, I took what’s behind door #2.

I ran the Adirondack 1/2 on Sunday and then I ran another 13.1 miles Monday morning, getting it done just about within 24 hours of when Sunday’s half started. So, it kinda counts. I mean, i’ve got the blisters and aches that feel like I ran a marathon… LOL

Besides, it’s 100 days to the first race of the Dopey Challenge and i’m not messing with that training plan just because mother nature is a real jerk. 🙂

I know there were a LOT of people on social media who were furious with Adirondack for canceling the marathon. But folks, life happens. This was not my first canceled race of the year, weather has been crazy weird all year long and, having the marathon canceled was not the worst thing that happened to me last week.

So with the weather forecasted to feel like 98 by noon I was kind of glad I wasn’t trying to tackle a full marathon. Because the whole reason I was running Adirondack again was to do better than in 2015. And clearly, in that kind of weather, it was NOT going to happen.

Instead I decided to just run for fun, enjoy the lake scenery and soak it all in. 

I took the traditional picture in front of the big sign. 

And then took the bus to the start. It was gorgeous but foggy before the race. 

 And, I found the PERFECT pace bear….

Whenever? Yep, that’s my goal too! I did lose him at mile 7, but eh, his whenever just was a little faster than mine.

It did get hot. But the race was prepared. Volunteers with ice and cold towels and water about every mile for the second half of the course. EMT’s stationed along the course. And enthusiastic spectators everywhere.  

In lieu of a true race recap…I’m going to give you the Adirondack half by the numbers. Here goes:

13.21 – miles completed

17 – number of people I consecutively high-fived (love those word of life kids)

1 – inflatable flamingo

8 – misting tents I ran through

20 – pieces of ice I tucked in random places

12 – people who cheered me on by name 🙂

5 – taiko drummers

6 – wooden bears spectating together 

3 – wooly bear caterpillars (sorry to the one I almost kicked. Lol) 

1 – gluten free brownie eaten post race

10 – where I finished in my age group 

Countless – number of times I smiled out on the course, thanked volunteers and just felt grateful to be running 

5 – number of medals I now own from Adirondack. 4 halfs and a full.  🙂 


My finish time? Not my fastest, but I don’t care. I actually finished exactly when I told the hubs I would…and he was standing exactly where I expected. So I was able to high-five him before hitting the finish chute.  And to me…that’s a successful race. 😀

Gus

This week my world shattered. The most amazing little dog in the world, the fur in wings and fur, my baby Gus, crossed the rainbow bridge.

He was diagnosed a year ago with congestive heart failure, and we fought it with everything we could. We we so very lucky for every moment we had with him. 

It is near impossible to talk about. And it is even harder to think about and deal with. For 15 1/2 years he was our best friend and faithful companion. The love of our lives and the light in our hearts. He was so very special.

I wasn’t sure I could write this blog, but since i’ve talked about him so much I figured I owed it to him to tell you all. And to share his story.

March 6, 2002 – September 19, 2017

Gus was born on March 6, 2002 at an apple orchard on top of a hill in Meredith, NH, to Scoobie and Buster of Sherene Cairns.

At the age of 8 weeks old, he was adopted by his human parents and spent the rest of his life in Norton, MA.

Gus was a furry little character with a grand sense of humor and adventure. He loved to hike, play with the tennis ball, chase squirrels and bark at delivery men. He enjoyed a good road trip (all over New England and even as far south as Georgia). He loved going to cheer on his mom at her races and getting petted by the other runners.

Gus loved holidays, whether it was dressing up for halloween or opening his christmas stocking.

Gus also loved carrots, cucumbers and most of all blueberries. He could hear the sound of a berry carton being opened from two floors up.

Gus was very vocal and enjoyed howling along with his mother and with toys in his mouth. He especially loved howling with the tennis ball in his mouth. It made a muffled sound that he knew always made his parents laugh. He loved carrying on conversations and was quite opinionated.

Gus will be dearly missed. As he crossed the rainbow bridge he left behind his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors and adoring fans from all over.

We love you Gus. And until we meet again, you will be forever in our hearts.

Weather Jinx

As I sit here five days out from the Adirondack marathon with too much time on my hands and therefore lots of time to think, I realized something.

My marathon weather has well and truly sucked this year. 3 marathons – all different kinds of bad weather.

Does mother nature hate me?

Lets review…

January – Disney marathon
30 degrees at the start. In Florida. Ummm what??? Granted it did eventually (like like 3 hours in) warm up to 50. But still…was NOT prepared for that. See how cold I look?

May – Maine Coast marathon
Nor’easter. 43 at the start. Torrential downpours. And crazy winds. Gheesh…. nothing like looking like a drowned rat in all your photos. LOL

September – Adirondack marathon.
Fall. In the mountains. And look… actually don’t look because every time I DO look it goes up. And I just can’t deal.


But I have no choice. Other than to suck it up and get through it. At least it’s not going to be windy. 

My friend said I might need to adjust my goals. I said yeah, if it gets that bad i’m just gonna walk and sing Disney tunes.

Thank goodness there’s a lake to dive into at the end. Which is nice. 

So wish me luck folks….i’m gonna need it! 🙂

Right song…right time

Well folks…we’ve hit taper. And for once, i’m SO glad.

For some reason, this marathon training cycle has been a beast. August humidity and warmer temps combined with stress and whatnot just made my long runs way more difficult that usual.

Saturday’s 20 miler was basically my last attempt at redeeming my subpar training (and the disaster the prior 20 was) and giving me any shot at confidence going into Adirondack.

But let me back up… the week headed to that 20 miler was spectacular. We were up in Bar Harbor/Acadia for a few days and while i’d brought running clothes, I also was kind of planning to not use them. Leave it to the hubs to be the one to drag me to the gym one morning. Where I begrudgingly got on a treadmill and then knocked out some sprintervals. It was the next morning, when he returned from walking Gus and told me that he’d seen someone running on the sandbar out to Bar Island and “you should go join them” that i got that gleam in my eye, chugged the rest of my coffee and went. And OMG amazing! Sure, its like a 1/2 mile long so I ran it six times…but I could have run it all day. So pretty being along the sea.

I had stopped post run to text the hubs that I was going to beach comb for a few minutes when I saw another runner grinning coming back from his, so I chatted for a minute and found out, had I been brave enough to run the trail on the island (wrong shoes plus i’m SUCH a trail novice) i’d have been rewarded with deer crossing the trail. COOL. 🙂

But instead…I stepped over to the beach where i’d found oodles of sea glass. And the first thing I find? A unicorn!

That run was exactly what I needed. A chance to clear my head and find my happy on a run. I was still kind of unsure about the 20 miler ahead. But feeling less freaked out about it. (the sea…it heals)

So when Saturday morning hit and I planned my route and headed out into the cool pre-fall air for my run, my head was in the right place. I just hoped my legs were.

Mile 1, right on pace. Mile 2, oops…maybe wanna slow down a little. Mile 3, same as mile 2. Huh…well…okay why not. Because i’m not banking time for later, but hey, if my body wants to go sub-10 right now I supposed I shouldn’t complain. LOL I just am not going to look at my watch.

Around mile 6, I encountered a car wash fundraiser for a girls soccer team. They offered to wash my sneakers. Ha!

Around mile 7 I sailed up and over the steepest hill on my route and stopped for a photo along the river (if there isn’t a runfie, did it actually happen?).

By mile 9, the legs started to go wonky (ummm what is this weird thing in my thigh? Better stretch it) and the brain was getting bored. I had my headphones with me, but i didn’t want to use them yet. I plan to carry them at adirondack and use them maybe around mile 15 when that long flat stretch comes after the hills and I might need them. But this was too early. So I started singing in my head…. Quiet your mind by Zac Brown. This…. right song, right time.

Because the next few miles went okay. I hit a groove and kept chugging along. Any time my brain went wonky, back to the song.

At mile 14 when I came up to another hill I really didn’t want to do I stopped. I told my self “they only way back is through”, took a deep breath and went. Not only did I beat that hill, but I nailed the harder one after it no problem. YAY

Mile 15 I was dying for more water and just trying to get to the convenience store when a car stopped in traffic called out the window “You’re doing awesome!” and gave me a thumbs up. I laughed and thanked him. And was glad for the boost.

At mile 17 I realized I hadn’t walked yet. MAJOR improvement from the last one. But I knew when I took my next gel I would. Just to give the legs a break. And suddenly, coming from the radio of a house I ran by was “Aint No Mountain High Enough” OMG YES! Right song…right time. Because there isn’t a mountain high enough that I can’t get over. And we all know Adirondack is chock full of them. This might just have to go on my race day playlist. 🙂

I finished my run. I walked that 1/4 mile when I had my gel. And I walked another 1/4 mile at mile 19 when I tripped over a bump on the sidewalk and realized I might kinda not wanna fall.

And when I was done I collapsed in the lawn next to my puppy, who had come out to play ball and spectate my last two miles. Thanks Gus…

I am feeling WAY better now. I have set my race day goal to 4:44. A course PR and one that, if I ran like I just did, i’ll have no problem reaching.

So bring on the taper…I want some extra rest days, some extra carbs and some extra time with the world’s cutest dog. While I plan just the right songs for 11 days from now.

I kissed a unicorn and I liked it

How to train for a hilly marathon…
1. Run Hills
2. Kiss Unicorns
3. Embrace the suck

With 26 days to go until the Adirondack marathon, i’ve reached my peak mileage and am trying to face the fact that I don’t think i’m going to do well at the race.

Maybe its the weather, maybe its the strength training affecting my runs, maybe its stress, maybe its just a major slump. But even Big Papi had one and came back better than ever, so if it is a slump, I just gotta hang in there and muscle through until it breaks wide open.

Saturday was the first of my two 20-milers. And I spent a couple of days debating which I needed more – hills or an easy route I could build some self confidence on by doing well. I consulted my sole-sister coach. And she reminded me that running is 90% mental and the rest is all in your head… and to do what my instincts told me.

They told me – chase the unicorn.

Buried in the middle of the hilly park that I had to avoid a couple of weeks ago because of a 5k, is a unicorn statue. And I hadn’t visited in a while, so I mapped out an out and back (with a couple of loops in the middle).

My Adirondack simulation route – elevation chart…

Saturday morning was delightfully chilly…so I put on my lucky shorts, my disney marathon tee, my favorite turquoise sparkle visor, packed my buddy pouch full of gels and took off.

I wanted to run easy…to not push and save energy for the later miles. I cruised along enjoying the cool air and crushing the hills. And after a fun short steep one on my first loop of the park discovered this view…

As often as i’ve driven through there, i’ve never noticed. We just see SO much more on foot. And I continued on. And when I hit the ‘zoo’ after a long downhill, I said hi to the goats.

Second loop I found the unicorn. And with a kiss for luck (and a couple selfies) headed down the hill. 
 And down to a lower section i’d never been too. Where I found some crazy wooden flowers (and a nice clean portapotty). Of course, I regretted that detour when I had to go back UP the hill i’d been down. But its all good.

And when my watched beeped mile 10 I decided to stop on the stone wall and relax a minute to have my gel and water before heading out of the park and back along the route. Which was now some long downhill with a few ups. And by mile 13 my calves were mooing. Uh-oh. I stopped to stretch and knew I needed to refill my water because it was getting sunnier and warmer.

Yet, when I stopped at the only store between myself and home to buy water, it kinda didn’t work. It’s a small cafe in a garden center. And there was a group of girls getting fancy coffee drinks and after 5 minutes I gave up and left.

And at mile 14 when I had my next gel I kind of had a meltdown. I was hot, I was thirsty, and had my iPod had wifi service where I was, I might have called for a ride home.

And I had an epiphany…my body was reacting almost exactly like it did when I ran Adirondack in 2015. The hills had my legs like burnt toast and knowing how far I had left my mind started to play tricks on me and the doubt crept in.

So I stopped for a moment. Took a breath and sucked it up. I started walking. And made a deal with myself – 1/4 mile run, 1/4 mile walk, repeat. And sure, each mile got a little slower but I was still moving.

At mile 18 I was home and ran in to get some water before finishing the last 2 miles. I was hot and nauseous and SO dehydrated. But I was not giving up. I dry heaved a bit and the hubs said to me “well, if you’re going to throw up, maybe you shouldn’t go back out. Then again, if you throw up outside, its all just nature” hahahaha thanks babe!

I went out. With the plan to just walk the two miles. Also knowing, no way was I just walking. So I threw in some short run sections, just because. And…I finished all 20. The overall pace was slower than i’d hoped. But, I survived. I managed my mind and my legs and I never truly gave up.

And what have I learned from all this? That my next 20 miler i need to:
– Wear compression sleeves or socks
– Plan better water stops
– Run more hills
– Let it go 

The Adirondack marathon will never be a PR course for me. I think I will always struggle. Its the nature of the route. And while sure, i’d like to think i’ve gotten wiser and stronger as a runner and that I should be able to run it better than in 2015, I also have run enough to know that you can’t predict what will happen in a race.

So, I need to view this less as a race and more as a 26.2 mile adventure. A loop around the lake with something shiny at the end. And I love shiny things. 😁