Bolton Notch State Park Hike

We are fortunate to have traveled to some amazing destinations, but sometimes a close to home adventure is the most enjoyable trip of all. Yesterday, made the five minute drive to Bolton Notch State Park for some snowshoe fun. We can walk, bike, or run to the park from the house, but with three feet of accumulated snow on the Hop River State Park Trail that connects our neighborhood to the notch, we opted for the short drive.

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2014_YPO Shoot the Rock-Harlem Globetrotters Event 4

We hiked the 3 mile Mohegan Trail, which is marked by yellow blazes on the trees. The first half of the loop climbs sharply up to a ridge. The second half includes the descent down to the junction of Railroad Brook on the rail trail. To complete the loop, you walk on the old rail bed through some amazingly steep cliffs that were cut through when they built the railroad.

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2014_YPO Shoot the Rock-Harlem Globetrotters Event 2

With all of the snow, it was an awesome walk. Our kids did great. This loop is known for abundant mountain laurel, which retains its leaves during winter.

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We had a fabulous walk.

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2015 Colchester Half Marathon

Today, Debbie and I returned to the Colchester Half Marathon for the first time since 201o. We ran it once before that in 2007. We like this course. It’s 13.1 miles of undulating roads in a really nice rural town in eastern Connecticut. It was a cold but sunny day. The temperature at the start was in the teens (Fahrenheit), though it warmed up to 20F by the finish.

This race is very important for local runners with cabin fever and 473 finished! This wicked winter had its impact on the course. The asphalt roads were clear, but the two sections of dirt road (a couple of miles worth) were ice and snow-covered. They were quite slippery. I wore my trail running shoes and opted to run on the far right side of the dirt roads to get some traction where there was more snow and less ice.

2015_Colchester Half Marathon_Deb & Jane

The race has really grown. It’s very popular and it is very runner friendly. It seemed like all of our friends from the Silk City Striders were there. Several other friends from the Shenipsit Striders also ran. Even some of my friends from the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes awoke from their winter slumber to run today. “Rivals,” the Hartford Track Club and the energetic Race Director, Rick Konon, tout the event as “no frills” and are proud of its reputation. It’s a true value at $14 for pre-registration. There are no race goodie bags, no t-shirts, and no awards. What you get is a fantastic post-race spread of food prepared by the culinary students at Bacon Academy, where the race starts/finishes.

The school’s cafeteria was packed after today’s race with hundreds of happy runners. They even had a dedicated vegetarian line. The food was good and the conversation was even better. It was a great day for a run. I hadn’t done a race since the first week of June last year. 2014 was quite an “off-year” for me on the athletic front.

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I was thrilled to run hard today though I faded badly in the second half of the race. That was expected. My pace slackened and heart rate rose as the hills and slow roads took their toll. Even the asphalt was rough. I saw two runners take spills right in front of me. One rolled his ankle on a frost heave and hit the deck. Another got tangled up with other runners at the first aid station and took a hard fall. I had to leap out-of-the-way to avoid him.

I took it as easy as I could on my injured left foot (plantar fasciitis) and was happy that the pain in my arch and heel was the same after the race as it was before. In the past 60 days, after months of therapy and stretching, the tightness in my foot and calf have noticeably improved. With a four mile warmup, this was the longest I’ve run in nine months since last year’s Wapack and Back 50 Mile Trail Race that pretty much did my 2014 season in.

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The time away from running was good for my body, though my Labor Day bicycle crash was quite a setback and resulted in me doing nothing for several months at the end of last year. I started spinning and swimming again in December and then started running last month. I’ve run a dozen or so times so I knew that I wouldn’t match my 2010 time. I’m five years older and I ran six minutes slower. I took advantage of the free post-race massage to loosen up my legs, but I know that tomorrow they are going to really hurt.

This year’s plan is to get back to the level I was in prior years, but it is going to take some work and a bit more training. I’ve got modest goals for 2015 that include comebacks at some of my favorite (short) local races, but with less running and no ultras. Debbie has some fun stuff planned this year with travel involved, so she was also pleased with her Colchester. It is a necessary part of her buildup as she adds mileage and intensity.

We missed the Colchester Half Marathon four years in a row due to various trips, so it was fun to stick around and experience this fun race again.

Race Results

The Harlem Globetrotters

Last week, Debbie and I got to host an event at the Harlem Globetrotters game in Springfield, Massachusetts. We are members of YPO Connecticut River Valley, a leadership organization, and we lead the chapter’s Youth & Family initiatives.

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2014_YPO Shoot the Rock-Harlem Globetrotters Event 2

The Globies are fantastic family entertainment. We could have also attended the show with the Cub Scouts, but through connections we gained access to a pre-game meet and greet with the team. The players were the ultimate professionals. They are talented showmen and show-women.

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Our kids and the other 75 kids enjoyed every moment of the evening. The great thing about the Harlem Globetrotters is that the comedy is just as fun for the adults as for the children.

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Personally, I love the choreographed athleticism more than anything, but I have to say that the humor was surprisingly enjoyable. I recall seeing the Globetrotters when I was in elementary school nearly 35 years ago.

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I won’t wait another 35 years to see them again.

Some of the photos are mine and some are courtesy of Alan Grant (Digital Creations).

2015 Shenipsit Striders Moonlight Run

It had been several years since I made the Shenipsit Striders Moonlight Run. The tradition has lasted 29 years. The fun run is always held on the Saturday night closest to the February full moon.

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Tonight, 14 runners and two dogs showed up on a starry night to run on the snowy trails of Shenipsit State Forest. The temperature was hovering around 12F. The run started at 11:30 A.M., so I’m blogging at 1:40 A.M. on the 1st of February. Rabbit, rabbit.

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2015_Moonlight Run1

It was a great way to start end January and start February. The huge snowstorm earlier in the week dumped 20 inches of snow on the forest. The single track had been tramped on by snowshoers. The dirt roads had been driven on by snowmobiles. We did a four mile loop that included a trip to the fire tower at the top of Soapstone Mountain.

 

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It was glorious.

5 Day Black & White Challenge

Earlier this month, ultra running friend and fellow photographer, Geoff Baker, nominated me to participate in the 5 Day Black and White Challenge. There are variations the theme, but the general premise is that you post one black and white photograph a day for five days. You can shoot fresh images or go to your archives and get old ones or make new versions of old color photos.

I don’t shoot B&W much, so I opted to grab some favorite color images that would look good covered. It was a fun process and I thank Geoff for challenging me to give it a shot. I have yet to pay it forward by nominating someone else, but I will in due time. I posted these five images on social media including my Facebook page.

Day 1

First up is a photo from our March 2006 hiking excursion to the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Debbie was 4.5 months pregnant with our first child, but that didn’t stop her from running. This photo shot with my Leica M6 TTL/Tri-Elmar lens on Fuji Velvia and then scanned. That’s Cathedral Peak in the background. Along with the Dawson-Middelman clan, we tried for the top, but were short on gear and guts, but we came close!

Deb, South Africa, Drakensberg, 2006, Mar-06 - Version 2

Day 2

This image taken at the market in Ubud on 22 February 2012. We had a fantastic family trip to Maya Ubud Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia; and walked to town from the hotel. Taken with my Leica M9 and Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH Lens.

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Day 3

This is a black and white image of a black and white outfit. Our son’s first tuxedo was rented in Bismarck, North Dakota for Brian and Heather Nelson’s wedding. Shot with my Leica M9 and my “go to” lens, the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH.

2011_North Dakota Trip 16

Day 4

This photo was taken at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona; the “winter home” of Frank Lloyd Wright. I had a chance to visit and take a tour back in November 2010. This is another image made with my Leica M9 and Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens. There isn’t much to this image of a sculpture at the home, but I have always loved it.

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Day 5

This image of the Knife Edge on Mt. Kathadin in Baxter State Park.I shot it using my Leica V-LUX 30 pocket camera on the last day of my 30’s in October 2012. Sometimes you need to go light and fast and it isn’t practical to carry a bigger/better camera.

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I’m already working on five more.

Debbie’s 40th Birthday Run

Today is Debbie’s 40th birthday and she is celebrating it in style. For months, she has been thinking about what to do to honor the milestone. It’s really a year-long celebration and we have looked at a variety of ultra marathon trail running races in an effort to accomplish something “big.” She lost out in the 2015 Western States Endurance Run lottery, so her quest to run the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning is postponed for another year. She previously lost out twice in the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run lottery and didn’t have a qualifying race for the 2015 lottery since the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance 100 was dropped from the list.

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2015_Debbie's 40th Birthday Run233

We didn’t get our act together in time to register for HURT 100-Mile Endurance Run, and it is hard to be ultra fit in January anyway. The Miwok 100K Trail Run is on her schedule, but it still isn’t the “big one” that she is seeking to do in 2015. So, while she searches, she pulled together something even more special for the actual birthday (today). It’s a special day for many reasons. The 10th of January has always been a bit overshadowed by the post holiday lull. However, it is also her grandmother’s 90th birthday. Debbie was born on Ruth Plumb’s 50th, which gives them a special bond. She is our last remaining living grandparent.

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So, what to do? On the last day of my 30’s, and in honor of my 40th, I went to my “Mecca,” Mt. Katahdin for a solo adventure. It’s indicative that she and I are very different. I wanted to spend my 40th in quiet solitude in the wilderness. She wanted a community event with lots of friends and family sharing the love. She came up with the idea of running 40 laps of the Bolton Heritage Farm (aka Rose Farm), which is our “home course.”

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2015_Debbie's 40th Birthday Run135

Many of our friends came from the Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders, our two main running clubs. Word spread and friends invited friends. Some of the runners ran races in the morning and joined her in the afternoon. In the end, nearly 40 people came. Some folks came and just walked a lap or two. Others ran multiple laps. A special shout out to Nikolas Rogers who did 40 of the 41 laps with Debbie. He only missed the first one.

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The farm is adjacent to our neighborhood and we are on the trails year round. The farm is the home of the Bolton Summer XC Series and is an important local landmark. She decided to raise some funds by asking for donations to the Friends of Rose Farm and the Bolton Land Trust, of which she is a director.

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The informal invitations went out and her friends came in droves. Nearly 30 people showed up between 8:00 A.M. and 2:30 P.M. when she finished. She did 40 .8 mile laps, plus another for good measure, to total 41 and more than 32 miles. The temperature never topped 19F, but the sunshine was brilliant. There was a deep blue sky that last all day and the three inches of snow that fell yesterday morning added to the beauty. She kept track of her laps by moving 40 Shenpsit Strider course marker flags from one side of a table to the other.

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Mid-morning, I ran over with our 8-year-old son and we did three laps with her. I ran home with him and went back solo for another 10 with the group. Then I ran home with Coach Al Lyman, who did more than half of the laps. Special thanks to Terry Williams for helping watch the kids. Al and Terry took off and I returned to the farm for a final time with both our son and 5-year-old daughter. The three of us joined her and the remaining group for another lap before we left her to finish the final five in a strong way.

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She is very happy about entering a new age group and a new phase for her running and sport. We will keep looking for a fun 100 (or more) to focus on. Both the Grand Slam and Hardrock are targets for 2016 and beyond, so maybe qualifiers will be the focus. The days of outrunning the speedster women are probably over, but there are so many more miles of trail for her to run.

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Thank you to everyone who came out to make this a special day for Debbie and our family.

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2015 Cub Scout Pack 157 Pinewood Derby

Last night was our son’s second Pinewood Derby since joining Cub Scout Pack 157 last year. Once again, I had a great time helping him build the car. The joy on the faces of the boys (and their sisters) was awesome. Multiple generations were represented with many grandparents in attendance.

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I’m not sure if you can improve upon this model and I don’t suggest that the Cub Scouts change a thing.

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In an effort to minimize the involvement of the parents so that their sons did the work on their own cars, there was a separate parents category. I chose to race my original car from 1979. I pulled it out of storage, added some dry graphite to the axles and raced it “as is.” It was pretty cool when my mother, who hasn’t seen the car in 35 years, picked it out of the line up. I remember the day that I raced it. My father, who was also there last night, had to drill out the cockpit weight to get it to the 5.0 ounce maximum.

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We had so much fun then, and we had so much fun last night. What a tradition.

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