Tuesday, November 27, 2012



Fall has been great for training this year and in Northern VT we were lucky enough to miss Super-Storm Sandy and the Nor'easter.  Trails have been mostly dry but temps are finally starting to dip and the day light hours are getting shorter each day.  It's still been a mix of shorts and tights but more often now it's the tights and a headlamp so winter is fast approaching.  And talk of screw shoes is becoming a reality again.  The joys of winter running!

I had an awesome time helping to coach the So. Burlington girls cross country team this fall.  Definitely one of the highlights of my year working with the girls and Coach Jess!!  But it also gave me time to back off on my own race schedule which was a much needed break and just time to run for fun.  Once that was over in early November, I suddenly realized it was time to get my butt in gear and start training especially with some races set for mid January 2013!

I've been slowing ramping up the miles again but trying to keep it fun.  I hit the mountains once a week for some good long hill runs.  Here are some of the adventures I've had recently:

Mansfield Loop, Fall edition:  Always a challenge on this 26 mile loop and fall is an exceptional time to run this.  Leaves are down, temps are cooler and the views can be spectacular.

The Chin on Mt. Mansfield

The Loop starts and finishes at the end of Stevensville Rd. in Underhill peaking out at the highest point in VT, the Chin on Mount Mansfield.  On the way to the Chin there are many sites to see.

Waterfall heading toward the Trout Club

Stowe Premier Property

Some of the loop includes a short section of dead end dirt roads with prime real estate in the Stowe Area.  For only $1.6 million, you can own this fine home.

The Sound of Music at Trapps

Or if you prefer more civilized living, Trapps offers wonderful accommodations with spectacular views.  Just beware of the trail police as you run through the trails at Trapps.

Part of the ascent up to the Chin is along the Toll Road and you may be thirsty and out of water but DON'T drink the water from this pipe!

Bad Water Source

As it's source is from this muck hole just above containing who knows what dead organisms.  Not convinced?  Ask Aliza :)

Sandy approaching as seen from the Summit

The Chin on this day was quite eerie looking with Sandy approaching from the south.

The descent along the Long Trail is always interesting with many Chutes and Ladders and rock faces.

All in all, it was a spectacular day.  I took the time to relax and have fun with the run.  I made it out just at sunset but was even prepared this time as I had a headlamp in my pack.  But I did run out of water like usual, but only a couple of miles before the end.

Camels Hump, another great training run:  The Hump offers many different options for routes and distances depending on time and weather.  The summer certainly is the most popular but winter runs may be the quickest on packed out snow with spikes as the snow fills in the gaps between the rocks.  For fall, you face the challenges of mud, ice and snow all rolled into one day.

The Summit on Camel's Hump

This particular day on the Burrows Trail started out with mud, then scattered snow followed by the intermittent ice flows in the thicker woods and then back to snow with ice near the summit.  Not quite enough ice and snow for the spikes ( I left them in the car any way), although they would have been nice at times.  But certainly enough ice to make it a more challenging day to say the least.

Ice Flow heading up to the Hump

More Ice

I always think if I take the Forest City Trail down it will be better.  Never is, just more ice on the descent.

Overall it was a great day on the Hump.  I was amazed I stayed upright the entire day.  I have a hard time doing that in even good conditions.

Appalachian Trail:  While visiting in CT over Thanksgiving I discovered some amazing trails that were all new to me and it included part of the Appalachian Trail.

I found this section while searching on my smart phone which I usually refer to as my dumb phone, or maybe it's because I haven't figured out all the features and I'm not the smart one :)  The trail started in Kent, CT and I did an out and back into Cornwall Bridge or somewhere near there.  Not really sure where I was.

The start of the trail

The trail starts out climbing over a fence before running through some open fields, then the fun starts with some great hills.

The Ledges steep descent

One of the more fun sections was an area called St. John's Ledges.  Here's the description:

Although it may look daunting, 90 stone steps installed by Appalachian Mountain Club volunteers and a professional trail crew make the descent manageable but hands may be needed for balance and leverage every so often.  After this knee-jarring descent you might reconsider the difficulty when witnessing rock climbers ascending the adjacent sheer rock face from the bottom up.

This was actually a really fun section except for the bottomless leaf hole I fell in causing me to descend a bit faster than expected and while picking up speed hitting rocks I had to do a self arrest much like in the snow.  I didn't see any visible blood flowing not that I really looked for it but just kept moving or it would have hurt a lot more.

Part of the journey included some really nice single track along the Housatonic River.

Caleb's Peak

Other peaks offered pleasant views of the valley below.

All in all a great day and another adventure.  Not so unusual, I had to ration food and water.  Not knowing where I was or where I was going and not having a pack to carry enough supplies was just typical for me and always a learning lesson.  I sort of forgot to pack any kind of hydration equipment or backpack on this journey to CT.  So I ran for 4 1/2 hours on 22 oz. of water and 3 GU gels.  I did carry $2 with me but never saw a store so it was useless.  The last hour I was running on fumes and the vision was deteriorating from lack of calories and fluids.  I did roughly calculate when I might finish up and wanted to make it out before sunset as I did have a headlamp... but left it in the car since I had no way to carry it.  Luckily I got out of the woods by 4 PM as it was getting dark in the thick of the woods towards the end.

The training continues.  Along with the running I keep going to bikram yoga once a week whenever I have a free moment.  Still a major challenge to successfully make it through without bonking.  And the core work has been increasing.  Not at a gym but cutting and hauling firewood.  The lottery Gods in the next couple of weeks will be deciding the rest of the season for 2013.  Will it be the Gram Slam, Hardrock or maybe Tour de Giants??  Time will tell!

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the 
whole idea is not 
to beat the other runners.

Eventually you learn that the competition is

against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

Friday, November 16, 2012



This is totally an event and not a race but also a test of endurance for many who try to run for up to 6 hours on a 1.25 mile course through the woods.  More importantly it's a fundraiser for the Winooski Food Shelf at a time of year when donations are desperately needed.  You can donate food for each lap you run or if you want to run for 6 hours, bring a whole turkey!  And anything in between including cash donations.  There's no entry fee and the entire event is run by volunteers with the help of donations from local and not so local businesses.  One aid station is fully stocked with various food and drink, again supplied by local businesses.  The only variable is the weather and this year it couldn't have been any nicer.  Temps in the low 40's, dry and some later day sun!

The event this year on it's 3rd anniversary was directed by Jen Sorrell who took over the reigns from Greg Veltkamp who happened to move to Alaska.  Jen had the enthusiastic help of Scott Barras to make this year's event the most successful ever.

The Start Line

At the start there were nearly 170 runners/walkers/trail strollers lined up on a chilly morning in the upper 30's with a brisk breeze.  At 9:00 am we were off and running.  Immediately you climb the biggest hill of the course but within 20 seconds you're at the peak and onto mostly flat single track.  The rest of the course is on mostly gently rolling trails with enough room on most to push a stroller equipped with fatter wheels.  Good enough for Todd and his coach Henry to negotiate.

I started off running with Joe and Mike and quickly warmed up, enough to get rid of a wind shell after lap  one.  The nice part of doing laps is being able to hit the aid stations frequently if needed.  And each time you ran through they counted your laps.

Soon Pablo joined up and we ran quite a few laps together.  With most of the leaves down much of the trail was covered so you couldn't see all the roots but Scott went out prior to the start to rake away any bad areas.  Still, I managed to find a few obstacles and crashed hard twice doing my tuck and roll to keep on pace.

Pablo and Jack

The sun was shining and it was just a great day to run with friends in the woods.

The Legend Joe Carrara

Paul up and running

At one point I came around a corner and found Paul down on the ground after just crashing on a root.  After a little chat we were able to get him back up and running again.  He's tough!


The famous ultra runner Clem also took some hard diggers but kept going as always.

Felicity and Dad on the big hill

Kyle's dog taking him for a run

After about 4 hours and 20 or so laps, I started to feel like a hamster on a treadmill in a cage.  Once an hour I would stop at the aid station and refuel.  Sometimes I would run backwards or sideways to make it interesting and ran on and off with different friends and dogs throughout the day.  But I was also starting to feel a bit dehydrated and was getting some cramping twinges in my calves.  I made the mistake of going to bikram yoga the afternoon before, not even thinking.  Typically it takes me a good 24 hours to get back on track with hydration after a sweat-fest in bikram and I never do it the day before a race.  I managed to swallow a few electrolyte pills without gagging too much but the last one almost set off the pukes.  So for the last hour I took it easy and just kept doing easy laps.  At the end I finished with 32 laps or about 40 miles (Garmin miles whatever they are).  There were a number of other runners that completed the full 6 hours which was impressive including Pablo who also got in 32 laps.

RD Jen with Felicity
In the end a lot of food was donated to help make Thanksgiving a little nicer for many families so thanks to all the runners who participated.  And thanks to Jen, Scott, Kristin and all the volunteers and sponsors who made this a great event.  Looking forward to next year!  For more information click here:  RYCO

Friday, November 9, 2012


Sometimes it's the simple things in life that make you happy.  After freezing my butt off for the last 3 winters I decided to invest in some HEAT!  94 degrees last night, had to open the windows and get rid of the down comforter.  12 hours later, the stove was still warm.  Have to work on the temps a bit but totally enjoying it :)  This could be great for heat training.  I could even host a bikram yoga session here!

New Stove!

Looking forward to winter :)

And don't forget "Run Your Can Off" on Saturday November 10th to benefit the Winooski Food Shelf:  http://runyourcanoff.blogspot.com/

At one point in your life you either have the things you want or the reasons why you don't