Archive Page 2

2018 Bishop’s Orchards CX

We were at another cyclocross race today, and the conditions couldn’t have been more different from yesterday. The inaugural Bishop’s Orchards CX didn’t disappoint. The hilly orchard in Guilford, Connecticut was an excellent venue for the CT Series of Cross finals.

IMG_8877

For Shepard and me, this was the wettest and muddiest race of the year. We skipped last weekend’s Supercross Cup which would have been the muddiest. The irony is that it was mild and sunny. The issue was that it rained heavily overnight. In Bolton, about an hour north of Guilford, I could hear the rain pouring down in the middle of the night. The latest deluge added another inch to an incredibly waterlogged State of Connecticut.

IMG_8846

Bishop’s Orchard literally had a river running through it…and we had to cross that river. Debbie and Dahlia joined us for the trip to this shoreline community, and they joined a sizable throng of spectators who donned their “muck boots” to watch some cross on a Sunday. I hope this race repeats in 2019 because I would love to do it in better conditions. I don’t mind the mud, but there is always a limit and I think we crossed it today. We left some ruts behind. I hope they will have us back.

IMG_8854

The orchard and farm stand venue was picturesque and the team behind the race pulled out all of the stops. The volunteers were helpful from the moment we arrived to park at the venue. They were out in force, and they were outfitted in custom-made sweatshirts to honor the event. The power wash station was a big plus on a day when our gear was in rough shape.

IMG_8855

The Junior races started at 8:45 A.M. with the 9-12 year-old category and then continued at 9:15 A.M. with the combined 13-14 year-old category and 15-18 year-old category.  Ethan Lezon was the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad’s only representative in the 9-12 race, and he rode well. Shepard was a little tired after spending all day yesterday at Secret Squirrel CX in Raynham, MA, but he persevered. The Bishop’s Orchards course was an absolute slog. It had a fair amount of climbing and the mud required you to run in several sections. The grass and mud clogged your gears and brakes while weighing your bike down.

IMG_8910

The river crossing was rideable, but it was an adventure. Shepard was joined in the race by CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad mates Boden Chenail and Lars Roti. These three have been troopers all season long. Boden had a fantastic ride today.

IMG_8853

The Masters 40+ race was at 11:00 A.M. Whereas yesterday I opted to race the singlespeed category, I decided to race my age group today (with gears) and get home at a  decent hour. The SS race is almost always the last race of the day. Yesterday’s trip was a 12 hour ordeal and my legs were feeling it today. I had a strong ride in Raynham, but today I was off. The Team Horst Sports Masters in my race included Andris Skulte, Art Roti, and Brett Chenail. We shared the course with the Masters 50+ race and were represented by Dave Geissert and John Meyerle.

IMG_8861

My first lap was a disaster. I was in too big a gear for most of it, before realizing I should just drop down to my little ring and spend the rest of my race only worrying about shifting my rear derailleur. I ended up farther back than I would have hoped, but salvaged my race by improving in the last two laps and riding some of the features that I ran the first few times through. About halfway into the race, Dan Coady caught and passed me. He built a pretty good lead on me, but in the last two laps, I clawed my way back and was able to burst past him on the last lap, which was good for the ego. Dan and I go way back, so it was just a friendly intra-race battle that makes cross so much fun.

IMG_8890

I was knackered afterwards and it took a while to “rough” clean the bikes and get them packed away. We had our second post-race vegan celebration in 24 hours when we stopped at the Shoreline Diner and Vegetarian Enclave, which was only a few miles from the venue. Whenever we are in the area, we make it a point to dine there and enjoy the “all-day breakfast” option. I felt much better after filling up on vegan tofu scramble and a full stack of gluten free blueberry pancakes.

IMG_8872

We got home at a decent hour, but had more cleaning to do, including a substantial load of laundry and more bike cleaning. When I was standing in the bike wash line after the race, I remarked to another rider that running would be such a simpler sport.

IMG_8911

Race Results (will be posted when available)

2018 Secret Squirrel CX

Our first time racing at the Secret Squirrel CX in Raynham, MA was an absolute blast! Shepard and I made the day trip along with three teammates from Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad.

IMG_8842

We were joined by Tom and Cole Ricardi, and Brett Chenail. Cole did the Junior race with Shepard. Tom did the Masters/Sport race with Brett. Brett also did the Fat Bike race, which was held at the same time as the Zanconato Singlespeed race that I did. Then, he did the Donut Madison.

IMG_8797

This was a return trip to Borden Colony for me. It was also the site of Crosstobeerfest, which I raced last month. Rock Hard Racing, the masterminds behind these two races, and the others they promote, have an absolute love of cycling and they know how to promote an event. This was my first ever Secret Squirrel CX, but back in the spring, Shepard and I did the Secret Squirrel MTB, put on by the same folks.

IMG_8799

All of Rock Hard Racing’s events appear to have a vibe that is absent from so many other races. Cyclocross race is already irreverent and fun, but they make their low-key version of cross even better. Today’s race was not USA Cycling sanctioned, so that may have had something to do with it. There were no overt rules, other than to “not crash in the first corner” and have fun.

I think Crosstobeerfest and Secret Squirrel were the only two cross races I did this year that had chip timing, which is a nice touch. Instant results are common in the running and trail running world, and you don’t need chips to get instant results, but it does help.

IMG_8837

It was a long day for Shepard and me. We were out of the house by 6:15 A.M. and made the 100 minute drive to Raynham so that he could squeeze in a pre-ride of the course before his 8:45 A.M. start. It was cold in the morning, but nothing like the last two days. Thankfully, it warmed continuously throughout the day and by the time of my race at 2:30 P.M., it was in the low-40’s Fahrenheit.

Juniors were first and Singlespeed was second to last, so we spent all day at the bike race.  Like I said, it was mercifully warm compared to Thursday and Friday. Despite pushing hard at the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving Day, Shepard rode strong. He was disappointed to miss the podium by one spot (finishing 4th), but he took it in stride. He was able to hop the three log barriers and handle the steep drop-off.

IMG_8826

The course was modified from prior editions. Whereas Crosstobeerfest was at the opposite end of the park, Secret Squirrel was held exclusively in the pine tree grove. I think they have used some fields in prior years, but with the extraordinarily wet fall, the fields were soaked and off-limits.

The Rock Hard crew were able to make a fantastic course with very little real estate. The race was a mixture of singletrack, double track, a short chopped up section of asphalt, and a field sprint that lasted all of five seconds. Most of the race was in the woods, so there were lots of roots and a handful of rocks. It was dry, which was great. The sandy ground had drained nicely.

IMG_8823

I opted to skip the Masters 40+ race and did the singlespeed race instead. It was so much fun. I got a good start and then moved up. There were some great battles. It was hard to pass, so you had to time your efforts and maneuver your bike well if you were going to get by anyone. By the last lap, I was battling for 5th place, though I didn’t realize that. I was just pushing hard.

Thomas Echelberger and I kept trading places. I led him up the first of the two steep and sandy run-ups. That set me up to lead through the uphill log and into the “bowl” which was an awesome section of the course that inspired a lot of “hecklers.” There were three main lines in the bowl. You could go left, center, or right. Center was the best choice, but required the most momentum, power, and finesse to get up and over the “lip.” Even the center line had a few variations. There was  a tree in the middle of the approach. Most people opted to go to the right of the tree, but I was comfortable going left. Thomas was going right, so it was a race to the bottom of the hill.

IMG_8815

On the last lap, we came into some lapped traffic and there were at least three other riders approaching the bowl as we bore down on them. I recall that one of them was on a fat bike. I didn’t hesitate and raced to the left of the tree hoping to gain maximum speed. I came upon the lapped riders very quickly and made a snap judgment to alter my line and go slightly left of center which required me to launch over a series of roots. It was pure instinct, but when I successfully did it and shot past all of them, I was stoked. I let out a whoop and pumped my fist as the crowd cheered. If you could review all my highlights from the 2018 cyclocross season, this was at the top of the list.

The joy didn’t last long. Thomas passed me going into the second steep run-up and we knocked bikes as we fought for position. He took the lead through the upper section of the course. He was faster at jumping over the two logs. I worked hard to close the gap and by the downhill into the sand, I was back on his wheel. I made a move in the final left hand hairpin through the sandy section before the all out sprint into the final section of woods. I knew that the leader in the woods had the big advantage because the sprint to the finish was on chopped up pavement and only like 30 meters to the line.

IMG_8828

I watched several of the earlier races and no one was coming around. I made an effort to get past him, but he forced his way to the front going into the final section of twists. I thought I could still take him on one of the tight turns, but he slowed in the second corner and I ran into the back of his wheel. I rubbed tires and was forced to dab (putting my left foot on the ground) to steady myself. In that moment, the race for 5th was over. He got two seconds on my and I had no chance at closing it down, so I just soft-pedaled to the line, content with my effort.

We were happy to do Secret Squirrel CX, and it turned out to be my best performance of the cross season. I have four more races planned and hope to finish the year strong. We missed a few traditional events today. The first was the Shenipsit Striders Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run. Debbie did the first half, so she was out of the house a full hour before we departed. That’s early! Dahlia spent the weekend at her grandparents’ house, so Debbie was able to have her own full day of adventure. I haven’t done the E2E since 2011, but the kids and I are usually part of the crew that helps out and cheers. The second event we missed (though Debbie made it), was the annual Bolton Land Trust Walk of Thanksgiving.

IMG_8844

We got home around 5:50 P.M. and after we washed up, the three of us dined at 21 Oak, which was a treat. In 2019, we will likely have some tough choices to make because Secret Squirrel was fantastic and just might be a new tradition.

Race Results

2018 Manchester Road Race

Today’s 82nd edition of the Manchester Road Race had to be one of the coldest ever. The temperature at the start was just about 15 degrees Fahrenheit and it stayed in the teens throughout the race.

IMG_8770

That didn’t deter 8,242 hearty runners and walkers from finishing this Thanksgiving Day tradition. With more than 12,000 registered, there were a lot of now-shows. The Livingston Family showed up and we were very happy with our finishes.

IMG_8714

This was my 29th MRR overall and my 24th in a row. I ran with Shepard who pushed his streak to six races. Debbie doesn’t keep count (it’s her style!), but I’m guessing she has done nearly 20 in a row. I’ll have to do the research! She ran with Dahlia, who has now done three in a row.

IMG_0279

Shepard’s race was a real highlight. He improved his personal best time and scored third in the Boy’s 13 and under division. He was very happy with his run despite suffering in the last two miles. That suffering was because he ran a negative split, dropping his per mile pace by more than 30 seconds as he just kept pushing after a somewhat slow start that included the second mile hill. He finished only a second behind the second place finisher (based on gun time) but couldn’t close the gap on Main Street as the road pitched upward to the finish line.

I ran with him, so the HR shown is mine, but we share the splits.

Laps

Lap Distance Time Pace GAP HR
  1 1.00 mi 7:00 7:00 /mi 6:53 /mi 154 bpm
  2 1.00 mi 7:21 7:21 /mi 6:39 /mi 163 bpm
  3 1.00 mi 6:27 6:27 /mi 6:32 /mi 161 bpm
  4 1.00 mi 6:30 6:30 /mi 6:35 /mi 166 bpm
  5 0.77 mi 5:00 6:26 /mi 6:33 /mi 166 bpm

IMG_8745

I shadowed him and offered encouragement. I have pushed hard in a few years, but look forward to the day when I hammer this race again. I haven’t run much in 2018, so it felt good just to keep pace with my kid.

IMG_8740

Dahlia and Debbie did great too. It was a cold day for our little one. The joke in the family is that she would go faster if she trained more (at all). We saw lots of friends.  The Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders were out in force. Another highlight was Willi Friedrich, a longtime Shenipsit Strider, who participated in his 49th Manchester Road Race. This year, he wasn’t able to run or walk, so he got some help. Team Willi helped him along in his borrowed hand cycle. That’s awesome. Willi is a “runner” who inspires us.

IMG_0284

For the first time, Horst Engineering sponsored the event, specifically the inaugural Veteran’s Row. We were pumped to finally support the event as we have been associated with the race (primarily through our running) for a very long time.

IMG_8730

Despite the cold, there was some great running. The men’s record was broken by Edward Cheserek (21:16), who blew away a strong field that included last year’s winner Paul Chelimo, who finished second. They were followed by Andy Butchart.

IMG_8760

The top female was 19-year-old Celliphine Chespol (24:33). She battled with the 2017 winner, Buze Diriba, who was only one second behind. It must have been a great race. Emily Sisson was only two seconds behind them. It was a tight battle up front for the women.

IMG_8755

The cold may have kept some runners and some spectators away,  but it was still another glorious day in Manchester. Oh, and I would have taken more photos, but my iPhone kept shutting down because of the deep freeze.

IMG_8724

Race Results

2018 Northampton International Cyclocross

Our family made a joyous return to Look Memorial Park for the 28th Northampton International Cyclocross. I’ve done half of them (14) dating back to 1995 when the race used to be on the UMass Amherst campus. Years ago, the race relocated to beautiful Look Memorial Park in the village of Florence, and also became a UCI two-day event. I’ve done a total of 21 NoHo CX races when you count the Saturday and Sunday races.

IMG_8604

This weekend, I was able to do both races even though earlier in the week, it didn’t look like Saturday was going to work out. I had a hectic week and even went to the work for a few hours on Saturday morning before the race. I had packed my gear figuring that if things were smooth at work and more importantly, I felt up to it, then I would shoot (solo) to NoHo, do the race, and then get home in time to pick Shepard up following his Boy Scouts Troop 25 hike on the Shenipsit Trail. He only raced on Sunday this weekend. Debbie and Dahlia had a full day of activities planned together.

IMG_8599

I was glad I raced yesterday because it got me ready for today. I hadn’t raced in three weeks, skipping the last two weekends with conflicts, so I felt a bit stale. I’m better at cross when racing regularly, especially if I’m not training much during the week. The racing keeps my speed high and my skills sharp. Typically after a layoff, it takes a race or two to get back my groove.

IMG_8547

Yesterday went as expected. I had no pop and was disappointed in my result, finishing about 10 spots behind where I wanted to. However, I did have fun on the wet and challenging course, and was glad to be racing again after my short break. When I’m off, it’s very typical for my average heart rate to be low. I only held 168 beats per minute and maxed at 174 beats per minute. The average was about 6 below a good race and the max was 10 below a typical race when I’m going good.

IMG_8559

For comparison, today went better with a 173 average and a 182 max. The numbers don’t lie. They still don’t represent peak form, but I’m looking forward to the Supercross Cup next weekend and will build on this weekend’s races.

IMG_8556

I love the Look Park courses. Both days were in their typical layout with Saturday and Sunday differing a bit. There were some changes in direction. Today’s race was much faster. Yesterday was windy, damp, and the course was muddy in several spots. Today, it was colder, also breezy, and most of the mud had gotten tacky. Today’s track was a bit shorter, so the lap times were quicker.

IMG_8536

Today, Debbie and the kids were with me, which was fun. We had to leave the house at 6:15 A.M. to get there in time for Shepard’s 8:46 A.M. start. Thankfully, we packed everything last night. The Junior 9-14 year olds had a good race and the Team Horst Junior Squad was well represented with Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, and Shepard. All three boys had good races. There were a lot of kids in Look Park today. Our friends, the Grimm’s came from Rochester, New York, and brought their kids too. Look Park is full of playgrounds and other cool areas to check out. A kid can run wild and be safe.

IMG_8586

In today’s races, I was riding strong, but was surprised that my result was still worse than yesterday in a smaller field. Today’s field must have been stronger because I was riding well and still not as far up as I expected. I had a decent start and latched on to a large group including rivals Brian Girard, Keith Gauvin, and Dan Coady. All three of those guys are stronger than me, so I was happy to be the caboose on their group. The problem with being last is that you have to work harder when sprinting out of every corner. You are also at a disadvantage in the technical sections as you are forced to follow other riders’ lines and deal with their mistakes.

IMG_8535

By lap three, I was “yo-yoing” off their group and half way through, I got popped, ending up in no-man’s land. That didn’t last long. I had to recover, looked back and saw several chasers gaining on me. They happened to be a couple of Junior riders that I know well. In the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series events, the Masters 40+ racers compete with the Junior 15-18 year old boys. This makes for interesting racing with the high horsepower juniors rubbing elbows with the savvy and technically skilled Masters.

IMG_8544

I don’t mind it. I’ve gotten used to racing with these “kids” and like the challenge of battling with boys who are 30 years younger. Sometimes there are complaints about their aggressive tactics and the lines they take in the corners, but I race alertly and have been able to avoid tangling with them. It’s a matter of pride to take these kids on and beat (some) of them.

IMG_8598

Anyway, soon after 15-year-old Nicolas Villamizar and 14-year-old Kevin Mullaly caught me, we were joined by two more riders, who turned out to be a father/son duo. I should say son/father duo because it was 13-year-old Frank O’Reilly, Jr. who ended up being the class of our group. Another racing dad, Pierre Gervez, was chasing hard and dangling off the back of our quintet. Nic promptly went to the front and drilled it. He and Kevin traded pulls on and off for the final two laps. Our group changed order several times as we all took turns pushing the pace.

IMG_8572

On the last lap, I was pretty gassed and was in fifth spot heading to the upper section of the course. That’s where Frank, Jr. pushed up the hill and then rode the technical muddy woods section. I ran it the first two laps, rode it the third, and opted to run it again for the final two. That was costly as I lost some ground. Nic was running it too, so we worked together to stay in touch. Frank got a few seconds on our group and after time trialing away, it grew to six by the finish. It’s worth noting that this was his second race of the day–he won the Junior 9-14 year old race. “Wow,” that’s all I can say. On the final section of road, his dad also attacked us and bridged up to his son. It sucked to give up those two spots, but I didn’t have much left.

IMG_8577

That left Kevin, Nic, and I to duke it out for pride. Kevin was strongest in the open ball fields that lead to the final hairpin turn and then the long straightaway to the finish. Cross is all about these intra-race battles. I was banking on the fact that he had been pulling into the windy sections and that I could come around him. Kevin led and Nic was on my wheel. He appeared to be suffering.

IMG_8613

Coming into that greasy final hairpin, Kevin and I took the wide line that we had been hitting every lap. I don’t think either of us expected Nic to make a bid by diving to the inside. He ended up chopping both of us pretty good and there was even some contact as he forced us even wider than we expected. He got to the front and hammered the final section. I slid a bit in the corner but eventually got traction. It took me 50 meters to get up to speed and by then, Kevin was surging past Nic on the right. I followed his wheel and then jumped left just be for the line. It took a bike throw to pip him, with Nic finishing third in our group.

IMG_8609

I have to say I was pleased. That’s despite the fact that it took everything I had to beat a couple of teenagers. It’s only a matter of time before they crush me in races like this, but for today, I got the upper hand. I was toast after the finish, but as I said earlier, efforts like this (when followed by rest) pay dividends. The results show Kevin and me with the same time, and Nic one second behind us. That’s racing!

IMG_8606

I cooled down with my teammates on the lovely Norwottuck Rail Trail. It was a good weekend for Team Horst Sports. In addition to our junior riders (the three mentioned already plus Owen and Ethan Lezon), over the course of two days, our Masters athletes performed well. They included Rich Frisbie, Arthur Roti, Brett Chenail, Andris Skulte, Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Dave Geissert, Paul Nyberg, and Keith Enderle. Even our mate, Matt Domnarski, showed up to cheer today.

IMG_8594

We were packed up and out of the park by 1:30 P.M.. We visited downtown Northampton for a late lunch at Paul & Elizabeth’s. We did a circuit of the town, stopping at Hungry Ghost Bread to pick up some items, before returning to the van for the trip home. Success.

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2

2018 Connecticut Middle School State XC Championship

After a week filled with rain, we had a beautiful autumn day for the 2018 Connecticut Middle School State XC Championship at Wickham Park in Manchester. It started out cold, but a bright sun warmed the air and it was set against a deep blue sky. Cross Country at Wickham Park is a magical experience.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-9

IMG_8427

This is Debbie’s first year coaching the Bolton Center School (BCS) Boy’s and Girl’s XC teams and it has been a fantastic one. XC is just another reason why I love fall. If I were to rank my favorite months of the year, they would be October, September, and November–in that order. Being a spectator at these races, and watching the girls and boys progress, brought back so many rich memories from my youth.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-2

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-10

On Friday night, the Doyle Family hosted a pot-luck pasta feed at their home, which was great fun. All of the kids were invited. Debbie and her awesome assistant, Donald Rowe, were honored for their roles. It was great to hear how the kids have bonded as their friendships have grown stronger in only eight weeks of practices and meets.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-13

I started running as a 7th grader at Vernon Center Middle School (VCMS) and continued at East Catholic, where the pinnacle of my XC career was reached as a senior when we won the Class MM State Championships and finished third in the State Open. Nine years ago, I wrote about the 20th anniversary of that 1989 season. That was so long ago, but being at Wickham brought back so many good memories.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-11

Some of those good vibes may have helped the BCS boy’s team as they claimed third place in the small school division (less than 400 students per school–6th through 8th grade). They were the 19th team overall out of 49 overall in the A race. The six boys who ran today gave it their all and that is what Coach Debbie asks for. The girl’s team has also progressed nicely and improved all season long. In addition to the kids that ran in the A races, Bolton fielded boys and girls teams in the B races, which were run earlier in the day.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-12

There were a LOT of people at Wickham Park. More than 2,600 boys and girls finished! That’s amazing. There were 400 starters and 391 finishers in the boys A race alone. Each of the schools was permitted to start seven runners and there were many individuals (without teams) mixed in. Each school was allowed to start 15 runners in the B races, so to ease congestion, the B races were split into two so there were CT East races in the morning, and CT West races in the afternoon with the championship races in between. Factor in all of the coaches, parents, and spectators and it was a full crowd. It was wonderful to see so many people running.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-4

The course itself was in decent shape given how bad the weather has been and how many races have been run between in the park between October and November. There were several muddy spots, including the start/finish stretches, and the “sledding hill.” Many kids had their shoes “sucked off” despite warnings to tie them tighter.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-5

The park has withstood months of above normal rain, and it has rained a lot in the last few weeks. There has also been a lot of foot traffic on the course, with the high school class meets 10 days ago, the high school State Open last Thursday, and the middle school championship today.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-6

In the middle of today’s six races, they squeezed in a first ever Mom & Pop Charity XC Race in support of a group that collects shoes for those in need. That put another 50+ people on the soggy course. That race went off at 11:30 A.M., and both Debbie and I competed. It was only 1.8 miles, and it was the first time I’ve run hard in nearly a year. It was great fun and gave us a chance to scout the course and offer tips to our girls and boys who followed us at 12:15 P.M. and 12:45 P.M.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-8

Back in August when Debbie told me she took the assistant coach role, I was supportive, but curious about how this would go. I asked who the head coach was, and she said they were still searching for one. Then, a week later, she told me that she was the new head coach and that they were searching for her assistant. I became even more curious about how this was going to go!

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-7

In the end, it was awesome. I couldn’t think of a better coach for these kids, including ours. She didn’t just teach them running skills. They learned about focus, mental strength, yoga, and goal setting.  If asked, I’m sure she will return in 2019. She is interested in building a stronger program with the goal of recruiting more kids and sending more of them on to Bolton High School (BHS) with running as their sport of choice.

IMG_8423

IMG_8406

BHS has a long tradition of XC running and this year, the boy’s team won the Class S State Championship and qualified for the State Open. Several strong 8th graders will graduate from Debbie’s squad and head to BHS next fall. Hopefully those kids will replenish a strong team that is losing several seniors to graduation.

IMG_8416

 

The future remains bright for Bolton XC. Go Bulldogs!

IMG_8419

Boys A Team Small School Results

Girls A Team Small School Results

Boys Overall Race Results

Girls Overall Race Results

Mom & Pop Race Results

Trail Running Women Podcast Episode 4

Debbie was featured on the 22 October 2018 episode (E4) of the Trail Running Women podcast with host Hilary Spires, and this blog got a nice shout out. The least I could do was write about it and give this new podcast series a shout out back.

She met Hilary through a social media group for women trail runners and recorded this back in early August. Like Debbie, Hilary is a coach, though she is based in British Columbia. The focus of this episode was pregnancy and trail running, but their conversation covers a wide range of trail running, ultrarunning, and health related topics.

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 8.24.09 PM.png

Hilary’s intro from episode 1:

Yo! I’m Hilary, your host. Listen in for a tiny intro on who I am and what I’m doing here. I’m a retired NCAA hockey player turned trail runner. Each episode I interview an inspiring woman about her story as a runner. These badass ladies from around the globe get honest about everything from competing, motherhood, and trying to have it all. Get ready for training ideas, gear tips, and a healthy dose of inspiration. Bonus! Once a month myself and my guest host Tory Scholz are going to answer listener Q&A on training, mindset, racing, and more.

I listened to the podcast while spinning on one of my bikes. I enjoyed their discussion and the flashbacks that it triggered. She reference a few of my more interesting posts from my years crewing at her ultras. I figured I would publish my own “show notes” with some links:

Despite the title, the interviews with Debbie and other trail running women are sure to be education for anyone with an interest in endurance sports.

AMC Medawisla Lodge and Cabins Revisit

The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Lodges offer amazing hospitality in gorgeous woodland settings that can’t be topped for their New England remoteness. After our family first visited Medawisla Lodge and Cabins on the opening weekend in July 2017, I wrote about our adventure.

IMG_8205

I returned this fall for the AMC Board of Directors annual retreat. I won’t hide my bias. I’m a huge supporter of not-for-profit AMC, and I am a big fan of our organization’s legendary mountain hospitality. Our historical strength has been in the mountains of New Hampshire, but we operate through the Appalachian region in New England and the mid-Atlantic. I’m an unabashed champion of the effort to grow our presence in Maine and New York. The resources generated by our lodging operations fund critical mission oriented efforts including conservation advocacy, climate science, outdoor education, land management, and youth opportunities.

IMG_8211

Medawisla is the crown jewel in AMC’s network of Maine lodges, but it isn’t necessarily better than the other two locations. All three, Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins, Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins, and Medawisla offer authentic Maine sporting camp experiences, though each one is unique.

IMG_8221

 

Medawisla is the newest and represents a more modern approach. One example is that each cabin has a propane stove rather than a wood stove. Though off-the-grid, the Medawisla cabins have electric power, including lights and outlets, whereas the cabins at Little Lyford and Gorman have propane lanterns and there is no electricity.

IMG_8230

It had been nearly 14 years since I visited Little Lyford. Back in February 2014 when Debbie and I skied into the camp with AMC friends, it was known as Little Lyford Pond Camps. That wasn’t long after AMC acquired the property, and prior to substantial renovations including the construction of a new lodge.

IMG_8235

Little Lyford was AMC’s  initial recreation hub in the middle of the Maine Woods Initiative, which at the time was a burgeoning broader land conservation effort.

IMG_8239

The AMC website offers a succinct description of our Maine efforts:

The Maine Woods Initiative is the Appalachian Mountain Club’s strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The Initiative is an innovative approach to conservation that combines outdoor recreation, resource protection, responsible forestry, and community partnerships. To date, AMC has purchased and permanently conserved 70,000 acres of forest land, created over 120 miles of recreational trails, opened three sporting camps to the public, established an FSC®-certified responsible forestry operation, and developed a partnership with local Piscataquis County schools. 

IMG_8240

Debbie and I have been AMC volunteers dating back to the early 2000’s, and this is my third year serving as a director. I was thrilled to return to Medawisla and see its improved operations during my favorite season of the year. The foliage in west-central Maine peaked weeks ago, but there was still some color in the trees. Not all the leaves had fallen.

IMG_8241

There was snow on the ground when we arrived, and the Nor’easter that walloped New England on Saturday brought several more inches of the wet white precipitation on Saturday afternoon and evening.

IMG_8257

Last Thursday, I spent the day at work and then in the late afternoon, picked up Dalia at school, and then we went to Windham High School to cheer the Bolton Center School Cross Country Team (Boys and Girls) at their middle school league championships. Shepard is a 6th grader on the team and Debbie is the coach. I was home by 6:30 P.M., packed the car, and hit the road again. I was in Portland by 10:00 P.M. and stopped for the night at my Aunt Terry’s house.

IMG_8262

Terry is always a great host. She didn’t visit Medawisla with us in 2017, but she was with us on the first part of that trip to Baxter State Park. After arriving in Portland, I didn’t stay up long. In the morning, we chatted a bit before I did my regular morning Huddles by phone. I had to answer some emails and do a little project work before we parted company.

IMG_8268

I drove to Greenville and got there in about three hours. I stopped a few times on the way, including once for gas. Each time, I checked my messages and did a little work knowing that once I got to Medawisla, my connection with civilization was going to be a bit weaker.

IMG_8271

Just past Greenville, I stopped at Lily Bay State Park. The gate was closed, but I parked at a turnout a little farther up the main road. I pulled out my bicycle and changed into riding gear. I rode 25 minutes back towards Greenville until I reached the high point where there were great views of Moosehead Lake.

IMG_8272

On the return trip to the car, I made a detour into the park and rode down to the lake’s edge. My ride took 65 minutes and then I hopped back in the car for the final 45 minute drive to Medawisla. I got there about 2:30 P.M. in time for the official start of the meeting.

IMG_8275

The lodge operations have come a long way since that first weekend in 2017. There is an established “croo” and they were awesome. The croo’s cooking was excellent–I’ve never had better food at an AMC facility. At the  Maine lodges, the food itself has become a draw. The staff was very accommodating of my vegan diet. They not only served me sides, but they made unique vegan offerings that mimicked each course served to the omnivores.

IMG_8276

The board meeting itself was very productive and educational. With the Maine theme, we talked a lot about the forest economy and the tourist economy. Both are key to the state’s fortunes. AMC has done a lot to spur economic development in Piscataquis County through sustainable forestry and through recreation. Both efforts are core to our mission.

IMG_8278

We got to hear from expert leaders involved with economic development, forestry investment, higher education, and the outdoor apparel/gear business. We also learned more about the evolution of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. AMC’s focus has been on the 100 Mile Wilderness, which is the last (or first) 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail extending to/from Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park.

IMG_8280

These lands have been heavily used as an industrial forest over the last two centuries. The timber, paper, and pulp industries are much smaller and the communities in this region have fallen on hard times. Many mills have closed. However, the remaining ones are seeing new investment. Folks in Maine realized long ago that the economy can’t just be dependent on logging, but needs a boost from other sectors, including tourism.

IMG_8281

Though I grew up in Connecticut, half of my family’s roots are in Maine, so I’ve always been an interested observer. My mother grew up in Upper Frenchville in Aroostook County, the northernmost part of Maine. I have many cousins, aunts, and uncles who still live in Maine. My grandparents are gone, but I always enjoyed visiting them. It was a long drive–500 miles–from my home to theirs, but it was through a beautiful landscape. I miss those days of piling in to the back of our family car and heading north.

IMG_8285

On Friday night, we got to look through the lodge’s telescope. It was a “homemade” model, but not a hack job by any means. It was made by a noted scientist and it was awesome. It was only a few days after the full moon and it was clear, so we got a great look at the surface and all its craters. AMC is working on International Dark Sky designation for our Maine project and facilities. This would be a great accomplishment as Dark Sky destinations are sought out by astronomy buffs.

IMG_8289

At Medawisla, I saw some of the local landscape. I got out early both on Saturday and Sunday morning for short runs on the nearby trails. They were cut with cross-country skiing in mind, so they were wide and easy to follow. There are many old logging roads in the area that are also used as trails, especially in winter. In the north country, there has always been conflict between motorized and non-motorized recreation. Both are important to Maine. I won’t wade into this debate, but it’s worth noting that there is a shift towards more non-motorized activities including hiking, cycling, skiing, paddling, and fly fishing. ATV’s and snowmobiles are still seen all over the state, but their popularity is reported to be waning as demographics change.

IMG_8199

On Saturday afternoon, some of us ventured out and toured the other two lodges. We first drove to Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins and walked around. Then we drove over to Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins. They are about eight miles apart, but separated by rough and unplowed logging roads. The entire trip took about three hours. By the time we got to Little Lyford, it was snowing heavily. These facilities close during the shoulder season as they prepare for winter and as the roads become impassable. Both Gorman and Little Lyford will reopen right after Christmas, whereas Medawisla (the access road is plowed) will remain open. Gorman and Little Lyford are a bit more rustic than Medawisla, have their own character, and are in beautiful spots. In the winter, you park about eight miles away and the only way to get to the camps is on your skis or snowshoes. Staff hauls in your extra gear using the snowmobiles.

IMG_8292

AMC is fortunate to have an amazing team of full-time employees. The entire Maine Woods Initiative “croo” that hosted us were informative, helpful, inspiring, and gracious. They are passionate about their work and great representatives for AMC’s conservation, education, and recreation mission. A trip to Maine would be well worth your time and effort.

IMG_8209

I was disappointed to not get out on Second Roach Pond like we did in the summer of 2017. I wanted to paddle some, but the lake was already iced over and conditions weren’t good for water-sports. My only other regret from the weekend is that I didn’t have time to try the Medawisla sauna. Now I have another good reason to go back!


Horst Engineering Family of Companies

Cross Spikes™

Instagram

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but...I disagree. Build More Bike Paths! $$$$$$$$$ #carfreecommute #bikepath #railtrail #eastcoastgreenway #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #trails 🚴🏽🏃🏽‍♀️
@troop25ct held another successful annual Joining Night open house highlighting the learning, leadership, and adventure that define Scouts. #skiing 🎿#snowboarding 🏂#mountainbiking 🚵‍♂️ #hiking 🏃🏾 #camping ⛺️ #rockclimbing 🧗‍♂️ #firstaid #cooking #canoeing 🛶 #leathercraft #swimming 🏊🏽‍♀️ #cycling 🚴🏽 @boyscoutsofamerica @thecubscouts #boyscouts #cubscouts
Just happened to be walking by the restaurant where @trailrunningmom and I had our first date in 1999! We dropped off two-dozen old pairs of #trailrunning shoes next door. I eat a lot less pizza these days, and when I do, it’s #vegan so we are headed to @floraweha for dinner instead. 🏃‍♀️ 👠 ☔️
#happynewyear @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #trailrunning #teamlivingston 🏃‍♀️
So content after our first family #skiing and #snowboarding #adventure in nearly two years. I missed last season with a bum leg. It was great to see that the kids progressed nicely during my absence from the slopes. We are looking forward to more mountain fun. @jiminypeak #jiminypeak #jiminypeeks #familybusiness #berkshires 🎿🏂 🏔
You can always gets a great meal @kripalucenter #kripalu #yoga
Fun to swing by @stoneagerockgym and see the kids climbing. 🧗‍♂️
2018 #scroogescramble 5K 🏃🏽🎄#christmas #running
My first ever The Ice Weasels Cometh was my 19th and final #cyclocross race of the season. I had a strong ride and was very happy considering that my second race of calendar 2018 (last race of last season) ended up with me breaking a leg. #iceweasels was a much better result and it’s great to finish with peak fitness. Doing most of the @zanksscx gave me a fresh reason to push through this cross season. Today’s race was a solo adventure but I saw lots of teammates and friends. #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #sevencycles @seven_cycles #zanksscx #horstengineering #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross

Follow me on Twitter

Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 348 other followers