Category Archives: holidays

Mother’s Day 2016 –3 sons, 7 Sisters and two many moms with lost children

13131375_10154112636582889_447523597177719350_oBeing a mom to 3 boys is sometimes an exercise in acceptance. There will never be breakfast in bed or handmade cards decorated with lace doily hearts and glitter or prom dress shopping, but, I’m ok with that. I wouldn’t trade my guys for the world. Knowing that Mother’s Day has the potential to be basically another Sunday morning of me whipping up pancakes for the gang, I immediately embraced the idea of running the 7 Sisters Trail Race in Amherst, MA as a potentially more satisfying way to spend the holiday. The idea had been presented by Lunar B*tch, Chrissy a few months ago as a “race to works towards,” but quickly became a “What the hell? Let’s just do it,” thing. We signed up.

After registering for the run, I did a little research in an attempt to learn what to expect from this 12 mile trail run across the Holyoke Range of mountains outside of Amherst, MA. This was probably an even worse idea than impulsively signing up for a 12 mile trail run across the Holyoke Range of mountains outside of Amherst. The various blogposts and reviews I read each added a little fear and nervous excitement to my pre-race mental prep, but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of the trail.

Although I intended to get a complete night’s rest, Saturday, like the rest of the week at Lark + Lily, was busy and I ultimately racked up a total of less than 5 hours of sleep. I woke before my alarm and had an opportunity to eat a solid breakfast, a fortunate set of circumstances because my body and mind would demand every available resource I had available as the race progressed. We arrived at the start with enough time to score parking in the upper lot and mentally settle in for our 8:43 Wave 4 start time.

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Pre-race

As I started up the first of the countless climbs my intentions were clear: to finish uninjured – and to smile. For the most part, I met my goals, but there were nearly 4.5 hours of propelling my body up and down mountains to endure before I could proclaim my mission accomplished… The out and back course was extremely challenging with a tremendous amount of potential to be truly dangerous in the wet, muddy and slippery conditions we faced. It really wasn’t a run as much as a clambering hike, at least for me. Although I never went down hard, I did gracefully glide down to earth a minimum of 3 times, earning a muddy ass and saturated socks along the way.  The shale was slick, but in the few areas where the trail was actually trail, the running was sublime.  The shades of green were dazzling and on the return trek the view of the rolling hills and Connecticut River in the distance was beautiful.

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Post race

The discomfort caused by the aggressive terrain was, at times, nearly unbearable, particularly in my hips.  As the race continued,  there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to the finish line as the pain spread to my calves and feet.  When I briefly considered not finishing, I turned my internal attention to a true circumstance that would potentially prevent me from going on – the loss of a child.  I focused on the moms I know who have for various reasons lost a child and I recommitted to the race thinking that if they can survive that truly hellish reality, I could gather the strength to complete this course.  I was no longer running just for myself and when I finally crossed that finish line after hours of exertion, I did it with gratitude and thoughts of appreciation for my children.  Their presence is truly enough of a gift to me.

Here are some photos from the race taken by Greg Saulmon for The Republican.  The shots are awesome and really provide an accurate picture of the day. In addition to some tangible memories offered by photographs, I’ve had soreness in pretty much every muscle of my body, abs and forearms, included. As I said Monday morning, the only muscle which didn’t ache post- 7 Sisters and Mother’s Day was my heart.

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Filed under Boys, Exercise, friends, holidays, moms, Observations, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized

Taking a hike with a runner

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My very first vacation with my former husband was a trip to Washington State where we spent a week or so camping and hiking.  It was a memorable trip for many reasons (the San Juan Islands – oh my goodness!) but by no means did the experience turn me into an outdoors women a la Anne LaBastille.  I enjoyed the time, however, in my world hiking means taking a walk in the woods with a flask camera, not aggressively conquering a mountain.   Alas, he and I were different.

You might be surprised to learn that despite living in Albany for close to 30 years, nestled between the Catskills and Adirondacks, I’ve never really gone hiking since that long ago trip.  Last month that finally changed as I hit the trail.  Let me tell you about it…

I’m training for a trail race on Mother’s Day and decided to incorporate some activities beyond merely running.  The course I’m taking on next month includes, from what I’ve read and heard, some serious elevation complete with rock scrambling.  Getting out into the woods, particularly with someone adept at both hiking and running, seemed to be the ideal cross training opportunity.  Next stop – the Catskills.

One of the things I most enjoy about running is the endorphin rush – I love the feeling of my spine tingling as my body releases a combination of energy and exertion.  Amazing.  When it came time to take a hike, I requested one which would challenge and push me a bit beyond a mere meandering.  The hike up Blackhead, a loop of approximately 4.5 miles, was just what the doctor ordered and I loved it.  Total elevation gain – approximately 2,000 with a significant part of that (~1,100 feet) coming in less than a mile.  I said I wanted a challenge, right?

The weather on Easter Sunday was perfect early spring – mild, with hazy sun.  The forest in springtime is a magical place with signs of life* to be discovered around every twist in the trail.  The fresh air, with a hint of cedar was invigorating and our path included mossy green spots promising softness to the touch, as well as boulders and ice that demanded cautious attention. There was a quietly babbling brook to be crossed, an easy feat in a year with barely any snow melt, along with the remains of a stone dam from decades gone past.  It really was an afternoon for the senses.

I think I’m hooked.

*Along with evidence of the demise of an unfortunate bird. Check out the photos…

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Filed under Exercise, Hiking, Hiking, holidays, Local, Recommendations, road trips, running, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Training for Mother’s Day

A number of weeks ago one of the lunar b*tches sent me information about a race she said she “wanted to work towards.” Because this is the year I turn 50 and I’m committed to challenging myself in as many new ways as possible, I replied that we should do it – this year. At the time, registration for the Mother’s Day race was being offered at a reduced price, which only increased the appeal of a twelve-mile trail run with ~3500 ft of elevation. We both signed up.

Since that time, I’ve been reading and talking about the Seven Sisters and have gotten a bit nervous about the event. I’ve read about the high incidence of injuries (broken ankles seem prevalent) and have seen the discrepancy between the number of runners who start the race and those who finish the course. As I learn more about the race, my only available response is to make a concerted effort to work harder to prep train. Here’s what I’m working on…

For the first time since 2014, I took my road bike out for a spin a couple of weekends ago and got in a decent ride. I ran out of time and couldn’t complete my usual 20+ mile loop, but I think I got 16 or 17 miles in and I enjoyed it. Winning.

I went for a hike recently – something I seriously haven’t done in years. It was about 7 miles with some clambering and I really enjoyed it. There were some gorgeous views and my childhood love of the woods remains true. I want to do more hiking this summer and hope to convince the Lilly boys to join me. I’ll let you know how that goes!

This past weekend I ran my longest distance ever – nearly 15 miles. The loop I ran was phenomenal with more downhill than uphill and I really loved the 2.5 hours I spent on my feet. No, really, I kept thinking about how the best gift I ever give to myself is time outdoors. How lucky am I to be able to indulge that passion by walking out my door to cycle, hike or run?

In the next 6 weeks I’ll be doing more long runs, hikes and rides, as well as spending some time on vacation probably doing a lot less. We’ll call that tapering. On May 8th I’ll be on that trail doing my best to complete a challenging course with a terrific friend and without injury. Maybe you can have a mimosa for me? Better make that two, one for each of us.

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Filed under aging, biking, Exercise, friends, holidays, road trips, running, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized

My loves

imageI know I’m a day late on this Valentine’s stuff, but when a holiday translates into working 7 consecutive days, sometimes things don’t get done.  Fortunately, all that I most appreciate has nothing whatsoever to do with candy filled hearts or a single day on the calendar circled with red ink.  These are my every day gifts.

  • My boys who have heated debates over who’s version of La Vie en Rose is superior – Edith Piaf’s or Louis Armstrong’s.
  • My guy who challenges me in more ways than I ever could have imagined.
  • My running girls the Lunar B*tches who are willing to run anytime, anywhere.
  • My Jeter who is everything a dog is supposed to be.

I love them all.

 

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Filed under Boys, family, friends, holidays, love, relationships, running, Uncategorized

Holidaze 2015

Despite having sent out 95 holiday cards, I still feel as if the holidays passed by without nearly enough time for me to make contact with all of the people I had hoped. Shit, I guess I can say the same thing about the entire year. Sometimes I think that TIME is the ultimate 4-letter word.

As I was running yesterday, I started inventorying the year, thinking of places I’ve been, thoughts which have stuck with me and little things which have brought great satisfaction. It was a very full year.

• Taking on the restaurant has been a life changing endeavor. I’m learning so much – about the responsibilities of running a business, how to ask for help when I need it, time management and what my own priorities are.
• Although I am spending less time just hanging out with my guys, it feels like we are actually seeing more of each other. What I mean is, I’m not merely Mom anymore and my sons are no longer just children. We’re each viewing facets of one another that may not have previously been revealed – they’ve become more independent and are developing an understanding about who I am as a business owner and hospitality professional. It’s pretty damn cool.
• I bought a new raincoat, kind of an anorak, prior to my France trip in April that was exactly what I wanted at far less than I expected to pay. That doesn’t happen often.
• The cold doesn’t really bother me, but I need sunshine.
• As far as that France trip goes, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. Seeing the beaches of Normandy and the sights of Paris with my oldest son was an unforgettable experience.
• Speaking of beaches, our two weeks on Lieutenant’s Island in Wellfeet were memorable in numerous ways. I was so lucky to spend 2 weeks with my favorite fellas, something I don’t expect to be able to do again for quite some time.
• I saw so much great music in 2015! Highlights were Jack White, Robert Plant (2x!), The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and Government Mule’s amazing Dark Side set. It’s going to be hard for 2016 to rise above that lineup.
• Getting to my hometown, not once but twice, in 2015 was a real treat. Celebrating a 35 year class reunion and an afternoon spent on a paddleboard on the lake were both fun times.
• I ran a half marathon!
• Miraculously enough, I scored the perfect skinny jeans, like the raincoat, they came from Gap. Online shopping has become the norm for me and when I receive an item that actually fits perfectly, it’s kind of like hitting the jackpot.
• I made my way to NYC a few times, mixing it up by traveling with a special friend, my girlfriends and family. It remains my favorite city in the world.
• Closing out 2015 by spending 4 days with my most fun friends in Nashville was the perfect punctuation to a year filled with new experiences, challenges and accomplishments.
• I can’t wait to see where 2016 takes me. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, concerts, Europe, Events, Exercise, family, France, friends, holidays, Music, Nashville, NYC, Observations, Random, running, travel, vacation

First impressions – Nashville

imageNashville’s Holy Trinity seems to be the man bun, the fuzzy beard and flannel shirt. Any one of those can be subbed out for an ironic pair of glasses. I am not stating this in any sort of critical fashion, it’s merely an observation. Kind of like how no one other than the three of us seemed to walk in surprisingly hilly Nashville. Hmmm. What else, you ask?

Nashville is fun. Seems like people are here to have a good time but not in an obnoxious way. I didn’t notice the same really trashed people as I had seen in New Orleans two years ago. They’re also polite, using their M’ams and Misses liberally.

Food and drinks, excepting breakfast,* were reasonably priced. We ate and drank with gusto – more about that later. The air in Nashville smells like delicious, porky bar-b-q and the downtown area is remarkably clean. There were lots of cargo trains and we heard their whistles constantly. I kind of like that sound.

The city is filled with musicians and people involved with the industry. There’s music everywhere – and, other than at that half-assed Irish pub our first night in town, the music is good. Playlists in every restaurant, store and joint we wandered into were terrific. Not too honky tonk at all – just good. There were lots of earnest people walking around with guitar cases and even the airport bars featured live music.

More details coming soon…

 

*I almost always find breakfast to be disproportionately expensive. It’s eggs!

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Filed under friends, holidays, Nashville, Observations, travel, Uncategorized

Christmas (being) present

imageI didn’t make the homemade cinnamon rolls like I did last Christmas. This year I banged open a can instead and, honestly, I think the boys enjoyed them almost as much. It was a fair compromise and followed our simple ham dinner from the eve before perfectly. We were all relaxed and able to enjoy our time together.

After the boys left to join their dad and extended family, I took care of some chores, finished packing and decided to take care of dropping my car off at the garage for a maintenance appointment I scheduled for next week. I drove towards Voorheesville along Whitehall Road, or, as I call it, the Wild West. For the second time in two days, I was passed by another car driven by a person who apparently needed to be somewhere else. I felt irritated by the frivolous law breaking, but decided to let the negative action of someone else inspire me to be positive. I began to feel excited by the thought of my long run home.

The route I was taking was challenging with some intense hills. I’ve never run it before, but I’ve cycled it and I feel pretty familiar with its path. The first mile, complete with short but steep hill, flew by and I got into my zone. I started thinking about the holiday, the pressures of being somewhere and performing and simply being present. Do people really believe that some sort of wrapped package can give them peace and joy?

Bolstered by my belief that I could do it, I ran up hills that had initially seemed intimidating. I considered how fortunate I was to be able to spend an hour and a half feeling the sun on my back and the air on my skin. Like this morning’s dining room dance with my youngest son to an Elvis soundtrack, I was there, in the moment, alive.

I felt sorry for the two drivers who were in such haste that they were willing to break the law to get ahead of me on a residential road. I feel sad when I think of people who spend their time projecting ahead or looking backwards, instead of being where they are right now. If that is your situation, maybe you should consider how to change it. This precious day that we’ve been presented only comes once. Make it your best present ever.

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Filed under Boys, breakfast, Christmas, Dinner, Exercise, family, holidays, musings, Observations, running, Uncategorized