October 30, 2012

Mount Desert Island Marathon Race Recap

It's hard to believe that the Mount Desert Island Marathon weekend extravaganza has already come and gone....  Marathon #2 on October 14, 2012 is in the books.  And oh how sweet it was! Rain and all.

My friend Sarah signed up for her first full 26.2 miles on Valentine's Day and I too fell in love with the idea of  another marathon and all that goes with it and what better place than beautiful Maine, near Sarah's home and built in cheering section.

So S-man and I got up early Saturday morning, said farewell to Izzy B all ready for her princess weekend and hit the road for northern Maine.

Where we encountered moose....

And black bears!

As you can see the Saturday before the race was a gorgeous day!  Beautiful, but we could feel the chill starting to come through and while there weren't any clouds, we knew the rain was coming.  The further north we went, the more Simon wished he had his jacket on for the pictures. "Mom, it's colder in Maine than Massachusetts"

We arrived at Sarah's that afternoon and there was this toasty sight for us in her beautiful home. 

The boys hit it off and were out of sight playing within 5 minutes of our arrival even dressing up Puggy leaving him to protect their sneakers.

Then discovering their mutual admiration of these guys....

And then watching them as a bed time treat while Sarah & I finished up the pre-race meal of pastaINATOR and fresh baked bread and molasses cookiesINATORS. Yum!


We spent the evening in front of the fireplace strategizing for the next day.  We talked, weather, times, places to see the family, how much gu, nuun to carry, but mostly we just tried to relax and enjoy this thing.

I laid out my clothes and was ready to get up and go, hoping to "sleep in" as long as possible (a complete luxury) to the very last second.  In fact, this was the first night in MONTHS I hadn't been woken up got a full night's sleep.

I got up 5:30, and because Simon is also an early riser (a quiet one, thank goodness) I got to see him before we left.  I had a banana and coffee and we headed out to Bar Harbor and made a stop at COA to use the facilities (anything to avoid the portajohns!).  It was nice to see Sarah's office too!

From there we chatted easily, tried to stay warm and then headed for the starting line.  My one mistake was not hitting the portajohn 10 minutes before the start.

Sarah had the home-town crowd behind her and knew quite a few people and had many, many well wishers greeting her at the starting line, both runners and spectators. She had several co-workers and student staffers running too and one of them joined us for the first couple miles before taking off.  (We later caught up with him again around mile 24.)

Chatter died down and we were all silent during the National Anthem and then cheers erupted and the energy was intense while they blaired AC/DC's Thunderstruck.

Here is a video I found posted by The Maine Runner of the starting line.  You can see me and Sarah at 1:41ish in our colorful matching racing duds and even syncing our watches at the same time.  Ha!

Mile 1 - 4
We took an easy pace going out.  We chatted with Sarah's student staffer, Kyle not believing that the day was finally here.  I could feel that we were both a little nervous at the start.  The first two miles are always odd.  But we chatted and Sarah and I were both starting to get in the groove.  We decided in the first few miles not to go out too fast so we wouldn't burn ourselves later.  So we kept the music off and decided to chat for the first 6 miles then put in the earbuds.

The only problem was by mile 2, I had to pee and bad.  Kyle thought there were portajohns at mile 3ish, but I didn't see them. We looked at other runners ducking out into the woods and I considered it. I was going to try to wait for a little blue plastic oasis, but I finally couldn't take it anymore and when I saw a set of promising looking bushes, I sent Sarah on her way with music promising I would catch up soon.

This was the only time I also regretted not getting the skirtsport with the spankies over the ultragirl shorts.

Oh, that I and I forgot to turn off the auto-pause on the Garmin.


As I left the cover of the woods I heard from behind, "Feel better?!"

"Much" I yelled and laughed back.

I could see my pink twin just ahead of me and my legs were happy to go go go and catch up with Sarah only having left her on her own for few minutes.

Mile 5 - 10
I took my first gu around mile 5. By this time it was pretty soggy.  My shoes were soppy from the jaunt into the bushes, but it was still a good time.  Sarah put in the music, I kept one earbud out to check in with her, listen to her footfalls and try to capture the energy of my surroundings.  But the music was nice too.  A little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll, with plenty of top 40 sprinkled in too.

We saw some beautiful houses and Sarah showed me where she used to take her beloved dog Ceilidh to run around and where they laid him to rest.  Definitely a poignant moment for Sarah. His energy was certainly felt with us on the course powering up those hills.

Mile 11 - 15
I had my second gu about this time.  I was feeling pretty strong, trying to keep the energy up.  When we hit the 2 hour mark, I could feel Sarah needing just a quick boost. We talked about this for a little bit and noticed it was about the same time frame as our 20 miler we ran together in Boston.  (Post race we think we might brainstorm fueling strategies just before this marker.) This was by far some of the prettiest sights on the course.  Every time we came around a bend and saw the trees and the water, I had to catch my breath.

Mile 16 - 20
I swear the race directors must have paid a fisherman to don his yellow slicker and pull up lobster traps on an rainy Sunday morning as we ran by so we could have such an iconic Maine image in our minds as we remembered this race.

They handed out gu at 16 and I ate one and stashed the other. Sarah managed to get me one too at later water station so by the end of the race, the 3 I ate were all replaced.  Score!

I saw lots of discarded gloves (it was so wet) and even a few soppy wet race jackets a long the way.

We chatted with one of Sarah's neighbors, a long time runner who had run this race several years in a row.  He said to be sure to save some for the hills at the end.  It was humbling to see him later on the course walking and deciding to drop out.

We were looking for our boys around mile 14 on, and we finally saw them about mile 18.  They were waiting for us with signs and pretzels (yes! salt!) in hand.  It was such a welcome sight.  I grabbed a wonderful hug from my son and chuckled as we ran on.  Simon, my dear sweet boy, has a 50/50 chance 85/50 chance of putting his shirt on backwards. Smiles abound.

Since the roads were open to drivers, the boys leap frogged us and met us at the next mile for a photo op.  And the best part, Simon must have seen me smile at his shirt and he turned it around.

With the rain, the boys stayed in the van playing bey-blades until we would come running up and they would yell for us.  Sarah's husband grabbed this shot from the other side of the road as we ran by. (Note the woman behind us wearing a Hefty bag. She shows up later in this race report.)

Hi guys!
The boys in the mini-van weren't the only leap froggers, we saw plenty of spectators doing the same and because we stood out as "twins" we got a lot of "It's the PINK GIRLS!!!" shouts from cars and the crowds.

But the best cheers were from the boys "Go MOM!"

Mile 21 - 25
So cute story.  Two actually.

But first, I have to tell you something very cool some of our 'virtual running' buddies, all couch-2-5k graduates did while me and Sarah were rocking out on the course.  About 7 of our friends (some we've me in person, and some we have yet to meet face to face....but will soon I hope!) ran a virtual marathon relay with us, texting & fb'ing to hand off the virtual baton. Starting at 8am in FL, then on to AK, VA, MN, AZ, and CA finishing it up.  The thought of that and the strength of their legs definitely pushed us forward.  Sweet, right?

Back to the race..... So MDI was a very adorable small town race, but super supported especially given that it was raining so much. And as I mentioned Sarah being a home town favorite, knew SO MANY PEOPLE and people all over were wishing her and us well and running along side and cheering us along the sidelines and leapfrogging us to see us again on the sidelines. So I got introduced to lots of very sweet, cool people.

Between mile 20 and 21 there was one of the more steeper hills on the course. (Frankly the whole course was either up or down, but this one was particularly long and steep marked by a traffic light at the top.) Anyway, Sarah knew it was coming and goes, "Katharine is at the top of the hill waving her pompoms cheering us on" I start looking for looking for the pompom waving fan, thinking, Sarah probably introduced us to her friend, I should know who this is. I go, "Now, who is Katherine again?" Sarah, rather than explain or call me out on how I should *know* who Katherine is (the virtual marathon relay runner from Arkansas who shakes her virtual pom-poms for ALL of us. every.single.race.), says in her marathon brain brilliance and economic use of words gives me her super secret spy name. (so secret, I can't even tell you her name without her permision): "P---- M------."

"OOOOoooooooH!!!" I say and laugh. And then I take off, charge up the hill get to the top, turn around and jump up and down, wooting it up, waving my arms, shaking my virtual pom-poms yelling, "Go Sarah! Go Sarah! I'm channeling Katherine!"

That got a smile out of Sarah and I loved the feeling of challenging my legs up that hill.  When we got to the top we cruised for a bit and then we got a comment from the runner directly behind us.  Remember the "Hefty Bag" woman from the picture..... Well we had been behind here since about mile 6 and Sarah mentioned how she looked like she had wings.  I was just surprised that someone could run with a bag on for a whole race.  When we got up the hill and she saw me jumping for Sarah, she commented on how cute we looked and how much energy we both had.  It was nice to hear. So I struck up a conversation.  Partly it was because I remember running Boston and starting to feel the need to get distracted feeling and wondered if me just talking would help Sarah.  That and I love talking about running and what better place to find runners than on mile 22 at a marathon.....

After "Glad Angel" (Sarah oringinally called her "Hefty Angel" but then thought better of it.  She was quite slight.) started up the conversation I had to ask about the bag.  She said she didn't want her phone to get wet.  Ah-ha!  Made perfect sense.  Her sweet Georgia southern draw was nice to listen too as she told us about her and her husband traveling around doing marathons.  About how originally she was the runner in the family, but then he picked it up and became a Marathon Maniac attempting to do one in all 50 states.  This was his 11th.   But as school teachers, it's tough. I filled her in on Sarah and her first and told her all about our virtual running friends and as it came out of my mouth it really sunk in on just how totally awesome that was and she agreed.  We chatted a bit longer and talked about the course and she commented on how our race packet said to treat this like a "mini-ultra" because the course was so challenging.  I think I totally missed that part of the race packet. But I could see how that was true.  (I later went home and actually read it and yep, it did say that!)

Anyway it seemed like Sarah was in a groove so we said our good lucks and went on our way.  I didn't check too often, but I did look at my watch and at that point and asked Sarah if she wanted to try for a time goal or if she was feeling good at the pace we were going. We decided to keep going and that gentle reminder of "mini-ultra" as a FIRST MARATHON!! was just fine.

We also hit Sarah's 1000th mile and Whooped it up for a jolt of excitement there too.

Mile 26 - 26.2
The last mile was kind of a blur really.  Traffic was open and there were a lot more cars.  We knew were were close to the finish when we started seeing runners donned in there mylar capes were walking along the side.  I never know exactly how I feel about that.  I get this mix of emotions like, "Yay!  We're close!"  to "Argh, they are already done!"

With the traffic there and the last turn and all the puddles to avoid, I got confused and actually asked one of the firefighters that was attempting to direct traffic (cars and runners alike.) "Which way do we go?"

Then we saw the finish!

We grabbed hands raised em up and crossed the line! I grabbed Sarah for hug.  We got our beautiful medals, mylar and headed for some food!

I scarffed down a chocolate milk, a banana, bagel and totally went for the chocolate ice cream.  I grabbed 3 reeses for the boys and we left the muddy, soppy tent and found them just outside.

It was a very nice reunion with our boys who snapped a picture for us.    

We did it!
This was really a fantastic race. I am so incredibly happy for Sarah finishing her FIRST ever 26.2 on such a tough course and with the conditions we faced.  I was happy to run, to run with Sarah, to see all the places that mean so much to her and her family and I was so honored that she shared it with me.

Still smiling!

I am excited for me that I finished my second 26.2 feeling strong and ready to go again. Or farther. Or both. 

October 16, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Best.Butternut.Squash.Soup.Evah. I have to re-post because I can never find where I left this one. 

I just have to write this down now so I don't forget.  Seriously, I wanted to drink this soup with a straw it was so dern good. Ok, I actually did take a small sip with a straw. 

Whaa....I couldn't find my spoon and it was there.  It was clean.  Don't judge.

Note: I like to microwave the squash for about 8 minutes to soften them up.  It makes it easier to peel and cube. 

2 butternut squashes peeled & cubed (about 8ish cups)
2 onions chopped
1 big carrot chopped
1 apple peeled and cubed
3 T. butter
5 c chicken broth 
3/4 c. half and half
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Melt the butter on med high heat and sauté the squash, onions, carrots and apple for about 12 minutes.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth  and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Blend with a emulsion blender 
  5. Stir in the half and half.
  6. Salt & pepper to taste.
Makes 12 cups.