Monday, September 28, 2009

Shoelaces, a rock and the dogs Part 2

I was unfortunately unable to get back to this until now. So last Tuesday I went for a run in Vermont up Mt Kearsarge and over the top, running a total of around 9 miles in three hours. Carol dropped me off at the trail head on Hurricane Mountain Road at 9:30. The day was humid but relatively cool. Waking up that morning the temp was in the low 40's. The sun was in and out among the clouds with a slight breeze blowing through the trees. I threw on the back pack with the water bladder in it, kissed Carol good-bye and headed up the trail. If you have ever hiked or run in the White Mountains, you know that the trails are loaded with rocks and roots, which can make for a interesting run. The trail started going up right away, with it being runnable for a bit. As the grade got higher I settled into a good paced hike, keeping my eyes on the trail for the best line to go up. Fifteen minutes into it, I started hearing voices. I caught up with a group of ten hikers of various ages headed up the mountain. I greeted them and continued on my way. About five minutes later I felt my left shoe lace loosen. Now I wear Salomon trail shoes that have a slide on the laces and the laces with the slide gets tucked in the pouch on the tongue. I have never had any problem with them before. I looked down to see what the problem was and the lace had broken! I have never had a lace break during a run. Mostly they break when you are tightening them. So the lace had worked its way out of most of the eyelets, making for a problem putting it back in. I finally, with the use of a twig from the ground, was able to put it back into one of the eyelets. I decided that that was the only one I was going to thread it through and just tied it off at the bottom of the laces and pulled it tight. It felt comfortable and did not feel loose on my foot. I could hear the group that I passed drawing nearer, but could not see them yet. It had taken me about ten minutes to fix that and I was anxious to continue on my journey. The trail continued to be steep with plenty of loose rocks and the roots of trees popping up off the ground trying to draw my toes under them so as to send me flying. I was sweating pretty good due to the high humidity, but felt pretty good. I was making sure that I took a good swig of water every 15 minutes or so. An hour into the run, I crested the mountain. There is a climbable forest fire lookout tower at the top. It is bolted into the rock crag at the top and provides an awesome 180 degree panarama. I was regretting not taking the camera with me. I spent less than five minutes looking around and headed down the other side. The trail markings up to this point had been pretty good, with the trail not having too much deviation. But going down the other side, the trail became harder to see (in certain places) and the yellow markers were far fewer (or at least seemed to be). I was running more, with breaks to climb down the really steep patches. Ten minutes into this downhill, the shoe lace on my RIGHT foot loosened. What do you know!! The shoelace had broken! I immediately stopped and was able to grab it so that it only went through one eyelet. Who has ever had two shoelaces break during a run? At least I was able to minimize the damage and get back to running within five minutes. As the slope leveled out a bit, the ground got a bit mushier, with a small lake/pond that looked to be prime moose sighting territory. As luck would have it, I had no luck. Since I had no camera, it would not have mattered. At this point I really had a problem with finding the trail. It seemed to disappear into the mush and I could not see where it came out. There was no markings on the trees. I turned around and headed back to see if I might have missed something. I found the tree with the last yellow blaze and I had not missed anything. Back to the mush I went and started looking around for any indication of where to go. Along the edge of the mush, I noticed what looked like a footprint in the goo. I followed the edge of the goo, stepping on exposed roots around to some large ferns that I found out, when I pushed my way through, covered the trail and hid it from view. For the next thirty minutes, the trail would go for a bit and then disappear from view, hiding under the brush and growth that overhung it. The trail was on a pretty continuous downward slant with mud and water interspersed among some pretty runnable conditions. I came upon a rock garden with plenty of good sized boulders among the ankle turners. As I ran through, I stepped to the right to go between two boulders and brought my left foot up and ran it right into the left boulder! My knee solidly connected with the rock, causing the trees to blush from what came out of my mouth. It felt like, along with the pain from the impact, to numb a portion of my left quad. I knew that if I stopped it would tighten up and would be very difficult to keep going. So with blood running down my shin, I hopped and hobbled my way down the trail. I had started taking my Succeed tabs one hour into the run and was due for the second set. So I grabbed an ibuprofren tablet also and took one of those with the Succeed. I still do not know if it did any good, but the leg did loosen up. In fact I was running pretty good when all of a sudden two dogs came barking and snarling up the trail toward me. Scared the shit out of me. Of course the dogs belonged to someone who was back a couple hundred feet from them. He called them and they backed away. He spouted the standard line, "Don't worry, they don't bite." Maybe not, but sure looked like they wanted to. This was about twenty minutes after the rock and I decided that I needed to finish this run quickly. Unfortunately, I would have problems with finding where the trail went again. It delayed me and made me go back and forth a few times trying to decide if I had missed something. I finished in three hours and Carol was not at the pickup spot. She got lost trying to find the lot. So I started running down the road thinking that I was running toward where she was coming from. Ten minutes later I found out she was coming from the other direction. Once she found me and I got my knee cleaned up, I was glad to be done but also looking forward to when I could go out again. Of course, first off I have to find out about replacing the shoelaces.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Shoelaces, a rock and the dogs

Carol and I took off for the White Mountains to recharge our personal batteries for 5 days. It was part recovering from a long, busy summer of no real time off, with me having some long stretches without any days off. Besides the fact that my work schedule changes every week from first to second and then back again, not having days off with Carol meant that we rarely saw each other for a long period of time. So we were also reconnecting to each other. We arrived up at a friend's house on Lake Conway in Conway Centre, NH on Saturday afternoon, taking our time getting there. Frank and Lori own this beautiful home with its own private beach. The house has 5 bedrooms, with the two bedrooms upstairs having two beds in each room. There are 3 full baths and one half bath. The basement is set up with a TV and DVD/VCR player in one part and a game area in another part. There is a gas stove in the basement, a gas stove on the front (facing the water) porch and a wood fireplace in the main room. The main room consists of a well equipped kitchen with an island, a formal dining area on the back side of the room, a informal eating area and a living room/den area by the fireplace. There is plenty of windows and a small deck area off from the main room. It is a well appointed house. Outside there is the beach with a fire pit, picnic table and chairs, and a cabin. The cabin is left over from when the property that they own was part of a summer camp. They keep up the cabin to use when there is an overflow of guests. Another six people can sleep in there. The place is phenomenal! Frank and Lori are very generous in letting us stay there. Frank was there when we arrived working on winterizing parts of the cabin and pulling out the swimming raft and the pier where they moor their small boat during the summer. When we told him that we would be going to the grocery store, he told us to see what was in the house first and use what ever we could so that he would not have to trash it. So when we went to the store, there was a few things that we did not have to get. It was nice to reacquaint ourselves with the Conway/North Conway area. We were going for a hike on Sunday, so after sitting out at the fire pit with Frank for a bit, we decided to retire for the night (besides it was starting to cool off quite a bit). Sunday morning dawned with the temp at about 38 degrees. Not freezing, but pretty cool. Sunny and clear. Carol is not as avid a hiker that I am, so we headed to Crawford Notch to take a hike up Mount Willard. It is a relatively easy hike up to the peak at 2804 feet. We took it easy going up, stopping twice just to rest a bit and arriving at the top after about 90 minutes. We sat on the rocks with the other hikers, fed a chipmunk some nuts (he actually stuffed the nuts into his mouth and waited for another nut until his mouth was full) and enjoyed the sunny day. Going down took us only an hour (who says downhill is hard?) and then it was back to North Conway so that Carol could enjoy something she likes-shopping. By the time we were leaving North Conway, my left groin muscle was starting to really bother me. I had not felt anything while hiking, so it was confusing as to why it was being bothersome. I was worried that I would not be able to bike on Monday or worse, not be able to do a long trail run on Tuesday. After a very late dinner Sunday night and a couple of ibuprofen, I went to bed hoping it would be better in the AM. Monday morning it felt better but not that much better. I changed the rear tire on the bike (I got a flat while it was on the car rack. Something must have been kick up and it went right into the tire). After changing the tire, I did a test ride. The groin was sore but not so bad that I couldn't ride. So I told myself. I went out and rode for approximately 60 minutes out into Maine. At that time I decided that I needed to turn around because the groin was getting tight. No pain, just uncomfortable. On the way back, I passed a gentleman who had come out of a side road. He decided to attach himself to me and enjoy an eight mile ride in my slipstream. I guess he had been out for a while and enjoyed his rest to finish his ride. He was going to the same area that we were at, I did not mind at all, so it worked out for him. The groin was okay after the ride, so maybe I had strained it while hiking and the ride helped work out the kink. So now I am getting to what I started to write this about: a run up Mount Kearsarge and down the other side. A little over 9 miles, which considering my endurance right now seemed to be long enough. But I have gone on for a bit, so I will save the good stuff for the next entry, hopefully tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Being the bad guy

I was the bad guy the other night. This is not my normal state of being, especially when it involves children that are not my own. After the group run at East Lyme High School Tuesday evening, I went into the locker room to shower. While I was getting ready to get under the shower, a group of kids came into the locker room from the swimming pool. They all had the look of swimmers, probably young high schoolers or maybe older middle school age. There was probably ten to twelve, joking around which I did not mind. But as I walked to the showers, there was a group of four who were joking around with the removeable shower head. There was another gentleman in the shower and his towel was hanging on the rack, which just happened to be right outside the area with the removable shower head. All of a sudden a spray of water of water hit the man's towel and right away, out of my mouth, comes, "Knock it off". Of course, me with my wild head of hair and what my wife calls my scary voice caused the four kids to immediately shut up and look down at the floor. My first thought was 'where the hell did that come from?' I taught my kids all sorts of things when they were growing up, including squirting water at inappropriate times. So when and how did I become the bad guy? I know that it was the right thing to do, just that it was something that I normally do not do. Has it taken me almost fifty years to outgrow, what do I call it, my childish tendencies? Or maybe it is just an abberation, a blip in the growth (or non-growth) of me. I guess as long as I can still show a child how much fun can be had breaking the soft rules, I can live with a blip.