After my previous post, in which I confessed to holding a grudge against some squirrels, you might be surprised to learn that I spent some time last weekend running a trail race called the Squirrelly Six. All I can say is this: I mentally made it a grey squirrel rather than the despised red squirrel which caused poor Miss Suzy so much anguish. Enough about my childhood issues – let me tell you about a great race!
The Squirrelly Six is one of two races run concurrently each fall up at Thacher Park. The race I ran, as you might guess, is 6 miles of beautiful, challenging trail running. The other race, perhaps one day in my future, is a ½ marathon known as the Hairy Gorilla. The races begin together and then split near the finish for the S6 and I hear that the hardest part of the race comes in the first half. Since I didn’t run the entire course I can’t confirm that, but I can say that there were a couple of intense hills that were kind of ass-kicking. Or, on a more positive note, ass-firming.
Before and after the race, I shot photos for the TU and it was one of the easiest gigs ever. The morning began sunny and the crowd was spirited and fun. The race is extremely well organized and there was a pervasive mood of fun and humor. It seemed to me that this particular group of runners truly knows how to have a good time and I didn’t feel the intense competition that I sometimes find intimidating.
Since my very first time running trails, I have been smitten with the experience. The soft earth underfoot, the smells of leaves and dirt, the lighting…it is very much an activity which captures almost all the senses. Speaking of senses, the aromas from the spread of food in the nearby pavilion were tantalizing! Next year, I think I’ll attempt the Gorilla and reward my efforts with something from the plentiful buffet.
See you again in 2014, S6/HG!
In what feels like a previous lifetime, my girlfriends and I would meet in the mountains outside of New Paltz for our annual hike. There were years before the babies came, and even a couple of years after the oldest of the babies were born, when we would simply amble along a path by the climbers and real hikers. We just wanted to be outside together and the trails of Minnewaska State Park were perfect for us.
Other than a cross-country ski adventure a winter or two ago, it’s been a while since I’ve been there. The holiday weekend, however, threw the perfect opportunity my way – a 20k trail run with one of my childhood friends. Yes, 20k, I said. Which makes it about 3 or 4 miles longer than I’ve ever run. And I mentioned it was a trail run, right? Exactly – awesome!
If you were lucky Columbus Day weekend, you got to spend some time outdoors. If you were incredibly lucky, you were running through the woods of Minnewaska State Park. It was spectacular! The leaves were not quite peak yet, but the colors were still pretty gorgeous. The sky was blue and the air was slightly more damp than crisp. It was absolutely ideal weather to run.
The path we took was an official 20k route and the terrain was very hilly, with mostly soft ground cover. We paused a number of times to take in a view or sip some water as we circled both Minnewaska and Awosting Lakes. It was all about the journey. As we ran, the sky turned to dusk. We were careful as we finished with the last couple of miles of trail all downhill and leaf-covered.
this pretty much sums up how i felt 11 miles in – great!
And I want to do it again.
From Louise Erdich:
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
- The Painted Drum
Go eat some apples – now.
a bonfire with friends
soccer season opener
an event – September Splendor
image: Joe Putrock
there were flowers
and a trip to the Hyde Collection
to see this…
I think I finally caught my breath…
Last week in our (delayed) haste to soak in the last of Summer 2013, two of my boys and I hopped aboard the scenic Saratoga-North Creek Railroad. Despite the late night I had thoroughly enjoyed the previous evening at a concert at SPAC, we left Albany a little after 9:00 a.m. to catch our train, which was scheduled for a 10:00 departure.
We pulled out of the station a little late but, hey, what’s the rush? We had all day to relax in the comfortable double-decker dining car perusing the breakfast menu which featured reasonably priced entrees ranging from $4 for pastry to $9 for the Adirondack omelet, French toast or waffles. My guys ordered and were served fairly quickly. Their plates were hot on arrival, nicely presented and portioned generously. The servers were, without exception, friendly and accommodating.
The train took us through some remote areas with beautiful views of the mountains and Hudson River. The tables invite conversation and the period music playing softly in the background added to the sense of being part of another, more gentle time. As we approached North Creek the sun broke through the clouds and help to remove the chill of the air-conditioned car – I forgot to bring a sweater.
North Creek is a friendly little town with a couple of cute shops and a handful of restaurants. Note: the helpful map distributed at the ticket office is NOT drawn to scale. If you need more clarification on that fact, please see my youngest son. He has probably still not forgotten the trek I led him on, which ultimately ended at our chosen destination for lunch. Which was closed. I’ve been wanting to try barVino forever but, unfortunately (and expectedly) they don’t serve lunch. We ended up at Izzie’s Deli and Market, where I enjoyed my chicken salad, served on a bed of greens as I requested. A few heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, finished the plate.
Dinner is served on the return trip and, again, is fairly priced with entrees ranging between $10 for their Adirondack casserole (described as turkey and assorted root vegetables in a homemade cream sauce finished with a bread crumb, Parmesan and butter topping) and $16 for a 7 oz filet. We didn’t indulge on the way south but the domed car captured and circulated some pretty enticing aromas.
The leisurely pace of the train, coupled with the 3 hour layover, made for a long day, but it was really enjoyable. During the ride south I allowed the train to rock me to sleep and woke up fairly refreshed for the return drive down the Northway. I would definitely take this trip again and am interested in the Ski Train which takes passengers to North Creek where a bus is available to complete the journey to Gore Mountain. A day well spent.
Going down the dune would be more fun if going up the dune wasn’t eventually necessary.
Last week, I had the brilliant idea to get a beach bonfire permit so we could take in the Perseids Meteor showers, beachside. Like last year, we were shut out of our first choice beach, Newcomb Hollow and “settled” for White Crest. If you’re unfamiliar with these Wellfleet ocean beaches, trust me, they’re all beautiful. The only true disadvantage to White Crest is the remarkably steep dune one must navigate from the parking lot down to the beach. And, of course, the return climb up the dune.
The weather was fairly cooperative, but there was a bit of fall in the air. Jeans and sweatshirts were necessary, as were marshmallows, lots of marshmallows. I have to say that watching my brother build and maintain fires in the wood-burning stove of our childhood home, really has paid off. I can build a fire, Jack London. Naturally, we were a bit half-assed about things – I had some paper, some cardboard, a little kindling and a $10 bundle of soft wood and a lighter, but no bucket to fill with water to extinguish the fire. Never mind. We figured it out.
While we didn’t go all out with s’mores fixings this year, I have to say the boys have really mastered the art of toasting marshmallows to a perfectly gorgeous shade of brown. They really were the best toasted marshmallows I ever recall eating, at least that’s my excuse for eating as many of them as I did.
The fires of other sky watchers.
Good friends, delicious marshmallows and a blazing fire ocean side made for a pretty special evening. But the best part of the entire night was when Quinn and I were sharing a chair, in a practically reclined position, staring quietly at the sky. He nestled into me, and I wrapped my arms around him. Our eyes searched the heavens for trails of light and we made a vow to never forget this night.
It’s impossible to predict where in the sky the meteors will ultimately appear, but the light shining in my son’s eyes as he promised to always remember that moment, provided all the illumination for which this mom could ever wish. Magical memories.
There’s almost nothing like the ocean to punctuate time, especially when you’re temporarily living on an island which is inaccessible during high tide. The necessity of planning is as explicit and unavoidable as the tide chart adhered to the fridge with a magnet.
When the tide is out there’s the shallowest of tidal pools under the bridge, barely enough water to carve the silty bottom of the marsh into rivulets. When that tide rolls in, though? That’s a different story. The salt water flows in and submerges the almost garishly green marsh grasses. The bridge becomes a launching pad for the neighborhood adrenalin seekers, some complete with choreographed group dances and cheeky chants. There’s a remarkable difference between the two extreme states of the tide, yet it is predictable and easily planned for – just refer to the chart. It’s there in black and white.
This year, for the first time in a long time, we’re vacationing with a baby, and for the first time ever – it’s a girl. She was present (in utero) last year, but nothing really prepared me for sharing a house with a baby again, especially a busy baby on the verge of walking. Like childbirth, you just forget what was demanded by those days, it was simply survival when you were in the thick of it. The minute details (each of which seemed ever so critical at the time) of taking care of a child have disappeared faster than a sandbar in a rising tide.
Despite promises made, be it to yourself, your child(ren), or the well-intentioned older person offering advice, just like you’ve heard your entire life those early days of parenting/babyhood go far faster than could ever be imagined. There was no punctuation to mark the end of that chapter of parenting. It’s gone, and unlike the tide it won’t be back.
This year my middle son chose to only stay in Massachusetts for one of the two weeks of our vacation. He wanted to be home, hanging with his friends and practicing lacrosse. I felt that I needed to respect his preference and, for me, it was an exercise in letting him go. I was okay with the decision, but I’m less able to accept the fact that 2012 may have been the last year that my boys and I would be together for a two-week vacation at the beach. How could that even be possible without some sort of acknowledgement? Where’s the chart to refer to for important things like that?