Category Archives: beauty

Happy trails

DSC_0009At one point Sunday afternoon, as Chrissy and I ran over snow and sand and through mud and ice, I had to laugh at how lucky it is that we both find the challenge of trail running to be fun.  Yes, fun.  It’s like being a kid again, running through the woods to either get somewhere, or maybe away from someone, not really knowing exactly where we’re going, but having the luxury of enough time to simply run.

On Saturday we did the Parker 5k, a seriously challenging lope through the woods which Chrissy blazed through.  We were down a lunar b*tch, unexpectedly, but we both rallied for respectable finishes on a morning which was far more benign than expected.  There was no rain and the mud provided an obstacle or added an element of excitement, all in the eye of the beholder.

Aren't they lively looking?

Aren’t they lively looking?

A couple of remarks I heard post-race were validating, the race was “humbling,” and the trail “grueling.”  No one was complaining. This event is pleasingly small with only about 100 finishers and everyone who participated appeared remarkably healthy and fit.  As Chrissy said, it felt much more like a friendly group run through the woods than a race.  Next year, hopefully we’ll be our usual running threesome. Missed you, Karen!

Sunday was a gorgeous day – the first day of the year for me to run wearing only a single layer and sleeveless, at that.  We met at the Pine Bush’s trailhead #7, where we consulted a posted map and quickly determined we had no idea how to read it properly.  It was mid afternoon and we had time and an app on our side so we headed in, bearing right at most forks in the trail as we sought a longish run.  The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the day was an ambiguous one, early spring which easily could have been mistaken for mid fall.

"Mudders"We skirted a deep ravine and ran on the narrowest of paths up steeper than expected hills.  There was mud, but no real standing water and we both were glad we had worn our mudders from the previous day again.  We encountered fewer than a handful of other intrepid fun seekers and I have a new desire to familiarize myself with this large nature area.  Saratoga State Park’s trails have nothing on this place in terms of challenge and beauty and I can’t wait to go back for another, even longer, loop.

We wrapped up our running adventures with a first of the season soak in Chrissy’s hot tub.  It was a good weekend.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Events, friends, Local, running, Schools, Spring, sunday, upstate New York

What makes a tradition?

unnamedI remember Aloysius asking me that very question a couple of years ago as the Laker guys and I started talking about revisiting Mountain Jam. Since we had all gone together the previous year, was returning to the festival for a second time, in fact, a tradition? Operating on the premise that traditions bring us closer as friends and family, we decided it was. This June, we’ll hopefully be honoring that tradition for consecutive year. Rock on.

In March 2011 I skied for the first time at Belleayre Mountain. When I say “first time” I mean, I’d never really skied before and I’d never been to Belleayre. I was participating in a winter triathlon and I only took one run down the mountain, but I remember grinning like a fool as I cautiously wove my way down the mountain. The view was gorgeous and the novelty of actually having edges on my skis gave me, a veteran cross-country skier, a new sensation. I loved it.

During the winter of 2012-13, I got back down there twice, once for Ski School with my youngest son and once just to enjoy the slopes with Aloysius. That second visit was on a beautiful late winter day in March. The skiing was great as was the novelty of enjoying a cold beer midway down the mountain in the warmth of the bright sunshine. Sublime.

Yesterday, I made my way down that way again. My map app offered a number of different routes and I chose the one which took me along local roads through Greene and Ulster counties, in no rush despite having been robbed of an hour due to daylight savings time. The drive was beautiful with a sky alternating between flurry-filled and sunny.

I pulled into the parking lot just before noon, with perfect timing to take advantage of the half-day rate of $90 for rentals and life ticket, and to meet friends who had gotten an earlier start. As has been my experience on previous visits, the staff was incredibly pleasant and helpful. I obviously don’t have a lot of experience with skiing or the skiing lifestyle, but the folks here are excellent ambassadors to a novice like me. I particularly appreciated when the young guy who fitted me for skis remarked that I “looked like an athlete.” Yes, and thank you very much for noticing, my new friend.

I got in a couple of runs on the easy trails, gradually becoming confident as the moves became more familiar, prior to meeting up with my friends. We had lunch together in the base lodge and then took one run together on a moderate trail that I remembered from prior years. Chrissy remarked that I skied with a lot of control, a fair enough observation. I have no interest in getting hurt, I just want to enjoy being outdoors – the fresh air, the mountains, the sounds of my skis cutting through the snow.  My friends left and I returned to the chairlift again and again until I was cold and ready to warm up and head north again.

While I wish I had the time and the money to get to Belleayre more frequently, I’m okay with only getting there a time or two a season.  After all, the traditions I most treasure, like Mountain Jam, are those which only occur once a year.  That being said, if anyone wants to head down there before the snow disappears for another year – hit me up.  I’m in.

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Filed under Aloysius, beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter

My love affair with Winter

Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter.  In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing.  Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought.  Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight.  Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation.  Yuck.

Our relationship was purely platonic at the start.  It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.”  If I had a little extra timphoto 2(4)e, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis.  Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.

During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets.  I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.

Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion.  Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love.  The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating.  Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor.  I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
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Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places.  Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Yaktrax and making tracks

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for those of us who like to exercise outdoors.  I mean, 5 degrees on the plus side just doesn’t beckon to me, especially when the skies are grey and the wind is kicking up.  After nearly a week without a run, I finally got out last Saturday during a break in the deep freeze.  Of course, it was kind of snowing and rather messy, but damn it the thermometer was finally in the double digits and I needed to run.

Yaktrax in the snow

I’ve enjoyed winter runs and consider a layer of ice on the sidewalk to be an added challenge, along with a bit of a core workout.  I like it.  Layering up may be time consuming, but I have the right clothes and I love the time outdoors, traveling at my own pace.  Saturday’s run required 4 layers and the addition of a new foul weather friend – Yaktrax.

I originally bought these “slip-on” grip enhancers last winter, but they languished in my running drawer until the other day.  My hesitation to use them was based on fear – I was afraid that my feet would hurt or that I would feel awkward running on these springy-things.  Fortunately, I was wrong.  Once I figured out how to put them on they felt pretty light and were actually fairly unobtrusive for the first 3-4 miles.  I had a great deal of traction and didn’t slip or slide at all while wearing them.  I began to become more aware of them during mile five, feeling some new sensations in my lower legs, which may or may not have been from the Yaktrax.  Either way,  I’ll use them again and try to remember to pair them with an outer layer with pockets leaving myself the option of taking them off, if necessary.

Sunday morning, I got an email from Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, an awesome old school ski area on the other side of the Hudson.  This place has some of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever skied on and I was thrilled to receive notice that they had 25 km of trail open.  After consulting with my runner girls, we made a plan to get ourselves to Poestenkill for a couple of hours of outdoor fun.

Beautiful!

Neither Karen or Chrissy had ever skied here before and I was so happy to share this beautiful place with them. Chrissy offered me the job of “Life Tour Guide,” a career I think I could really get down with if only it was a real option.  Although it was only about 13 degrees, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was reasonably bright.  There may have also been a sip or two of homemade limoncello that provided a nice warm glow to our afternoon.  We had a fantastic time and I hope to get out there again next weekend.  At less than $20 for a trail pass and only a slightly more than 30 minute drive from the DelSo, it’s a bargain indulgence.  Get there!

So fun!

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, running, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Metaphors for life and random confessions

image: timesunion.com

aka – thoughts from a run

  • The sidewalks were slick tonight with ice and nuisance snow.  Not quite enough to shovel, but too much to ignore.
  • Life can be a slippery path at times, but like the ice, it was just a caution – not a discouragement. Forge ahead.  It’s the right direction.
  • I love my body! It is fit and strong and healthy.  It indulges me when I sandwich a 60 minute hot barre yoga class between two days and a combined 11+ miles of running.
  • I don’t always want to run, but I am always glad that I did.
  • I can’t be the only one who pushes those I love away at times, right? I think it’s only to feel the sensation of having them reach for you again.
  • You love who you love.
  • If I didn’t run, I would never have time to think.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, love, musings, Observations, Random, running, snow, winter

Thanks were given

I’ve given away a lot of things on the eve of Thanksgiving, (including my virginity) but what I got yesterday was an amazing present.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving Eve 2013, I was given something remarkable – a thank you, a sincere and appreciative thank you.  Let me tell you the story.

A package was delivered to my house by one of the postal carriers who work “my” route.  I heard the delivery truck pull up in front of my house and correctly predicted that my new boots were being delivered.  I was at the bottom of the stairs before the bell had even rung.

As I accepted the package, the carrier looked at me and asked “Are you the person who gave me a cold drink on that hot day a few months ago?  I’ve been looking for you.”

She was referring to an afternoon in early September.  I had pulled on to my block, in the middle of the afternoon on an unseasonably hot day.  I noticed the mail carrier. She looked uncomfortable from the heat.  I went into my house, grabbed a cold Gatorade from the fridge and caught up with her on my neighbor’s porch.  I held the bottle, already slippery from condensation, out to her.

She looked at me with confusion.  I spoke, telling her that I thought she might like something to drink on such a hot day.  I won’t forget what she said: “Are you serious?  That’s for me?” I assured it was and walked away as she placed the frosty bottle on the back of her neck.

When she appeared at my door yesterday, I recognized her and smiled, thanking her for bringing my boots.  She remembered that other day and the small gesture of kindness which I had shown to her.  She thanked me and explained that she had been truly suffering that day.  On the verge of heat stroke, she had phoned her supervisor informing him that she wasn’t certain she could continue her deliveries. She considered phoning 911 because she felt so very close to fainting.

When I gave her that drink, she said, it revived her.  It changed her day completely.  She told me I had saved her life and that she thought of me as her angel.  Me?  Can you imagine?  The same girl who had given up her innocence on a long ago Thanksgiving eve, was being sanctified on the very same day all these years later.

So?  What’s the point of this story?   I guess this – sometimes we give a priceless part of ourselves away and realize minimal gain.  On other occasions, we give away something which is infinitely less precious, yet reap rewards which will be everlasting.  There’s giving and there are thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, holidays, Observations

October recap – Moms@Work

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

I can’t believe another month has flown by!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to over at the timesunion.com.

First, there was the politics of pasta.

Then, I fell in love!

Alas, my ship sailed.

I put some pieces together.

And recognized that I couldn’t always do it myself.

But, I can drive a standard shift.  Lefthanded, too.

Which is a good thing because sometimes, I want to get away from my picky-eating children.

It wasn’t my knickers that got bunched up – it was my breasts which got squeezed!

Soccer season wrapped up leaving  lessons on the field that should last a lifetime.

We got more treats than tricks.

 

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, cancer, Cooking, Events, family, holidays, house, Moms@Work, politics