Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 9.111: Saturday choreday

We had a day of getting jobs done - mainly lawn care. Only Exile #4 escaped the home for any significant time. She had a special karate class with her sensei's sensei. Apparently that (or possibly wearing her hairband for more than two hours) was a hair-raising experience!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 9.110: Mill Cove Preserve

Here's a little oddity from back on Day 9.090.

We arrived a little early at Portland Arcade for E5N1's birthday party and while we were waiting I discovered a sign behind the parking lot:

We didn't have long to explore, but I went far enough to get an unobstructed view of the cove (part of the river estuary):

Perhaps not the most glamorous of nature preserves (the small bit I saw anyway), but it's great to see little pockets of nature being preserved and made accessible.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 9.108: Three days, two lip, one story

On Monday, it was out enjoying the sun. Yesterday it was closed against the snow and today - when we went out for an early evening walk to enjoy another pleasant evening - it was no more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 9.107: Nah to the ah to the no no no

Sure enough, we had snow. More than a shower, but the temperature did not dip below freezing so it was relatively easy to deal with. Except psychologically that is.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 9.106: Sunshine and ... showers?

This was the face we saw when E5N1 came home from playing at the neighbours' house sometime yesterday afternoon:

I guess a dirty face means he'd been having fun, the smile is just confirmation. He needed to clean up, but the showers in question are of  snow expected tomorrow - hard to believe after this deck-sitting weekend.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 9.105: Exile #2's Sunday Column #104

Exile #2 writes...

Our marathon experience was a little different from Exile #1's. We were all awake to send him on his way at around 6 am, but were able to take our time getting breakfast. We'd been warned that security would be pretty strict, and that backpacks and large containers of liquid were discouraged, so we packed small water bottles and snacks into a clear plastic bag. I had thought we might wait to see Exile #1's virtual man start running before we set off, but in the end, we were too fidgety and left the hotel around 10:00. We were staying near the outermost stop on the northern Subway line. The 15 minute walk to the station was enough for us to realize that, yet again, Exile #1 was going to be running in the heat.

We had decided to stand on Hereford St, which is the last road before the runners turn onto Boylston St and see the finish line. We could hear the cheers as soon as we came out of the Subway. The wheelchair athletes were already coming through. We went through the bag check and managed to find a fairly good place to stand. The police presence was noticeable but not intrusive. Helicopters circled overhead.

We were fortunate to see the elite athletes come through. Then, we settled back to cheer wave after wave of runners. We attempted to follow Exile #1 using various apps but the network was either oversubscribed or, more likely, being blocked for security purposes. Fortunately, we had Exile #1's printed target times. I knew he had fallen slightly behind, so I encouraged the kids not to give up, when they worried we might have missed him.

There was a serious moment, when a runner collapsed in front of where we were standing, but the paramedics were by his side instantly and he was taken away to receive care.

We were delighted when we finally saw Exile #1's distinctive green hat bobbing up the street and, even better, his big smile. He stopped to give us a hug as, by then, he had relaxed about his time and was determined to enjoy every minute. Once he had gone by, we gave up our places to others who were still waiting to see their runners, and made the long loop round to meet up.

It goes without saying we are very proud of Exile #1, and thankful to the people of Boston, particularly the emergency services for looking after everyone, but I was also pretty proud of the young Exiles. Despite headaches, sore feet, and a lunchtime that was closer to dinner, they kept going valiantly.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Day 9.104: Pleasant Mountain

We had a hike at Pleasant Mountain today. We hiked the Southwest Ridge Trail but not to the top - we made it out of the buggy woods and up to a couple of great overlooks and then ate our lunch and came back down.

Our hike was about 3 miles, it would have been over 5 to do the whole thing, but we were not quite up to that today.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 9.103: False accusations

We've been trying to encourage some grass to grow in our rather poor excuse for a back lawn. As a result, we've been a bit more conscious of the state of it recently. In particular, we noticed a lot of small holes in various parts of it - almost forming a grid in places. Although, we know that the main problem is that there isn't much in the way of grass to hold things together, we did wonder what creatures were digging the holes.

The other morning I found out - when I spotted two flickers pecking away in exactly the areas we'd seen all the holes.

I wasn't too upset since they mostly eat ants - and certainly are not interested in the seeds we had spread.

Later we saw four flickers and Exile #2 also caught the actual yard-digging culprit in the act - it was a squirrel.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Day 9.102: Man and rabit

Here are a couple of paintings that E5N1 did this morning.

I rather like them both.

Meanwhile, the girls have been catching up with homework, tidying, karate and dance and I have been at work and - as of today - can walk up and down stairs normally again. It must be nearly time to go for a run!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Day 9.101: The Boston Marathon

Actually, this was Day 9.099!

After a quick breakfast, a slather of sunscreen and Bodyglide and a decanting of five or six gels into my handheld bottle, I set off for Boston Common. My trip took one bad turn as I got onto an arriving-but-not-departing green line train having got off my red line train, but having been prompted to get off again, I decided to walk to the bag drop.

Although there were no hold-ups, it took a bit longer than I anticipated and in the end I was running a few minutes late for the meet-up with my forum compatriots at the band-stand. Thankfully they had given me a little grace and were still there, so we set off to get on a bus to the start line.

The journey is long. Really long. And lots of it is on highways. How were we getting back again?

The Athletes Village where the buses dropped us is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else, a huge field full of runners, portajohns and food tents. We found a spot and settled down to wait, eat, panic, line up for twenty minutes to relieve ourselves and other necessary activities. Time passed, the first wave were called to leave for the start line, and then our turn came.

The walk down to the start line (0.7 miles) was very well organised. Just before the corrals is a last-chance portajohn field and a water station. As we arrived the guy in front of me was taking a photograph of two state troopers standing by while a dozen or so runners at a time (mainly guys but a few women) were peeing in a patch of undergrowth to the side. A few of us figured we could also leave the cubicles to those who really needed them and took our turn. As I was finishing off, one of the troopers must have got new orders as he suddenly approached the guy two to my left telling him to "Put it away now, or you'll be arrested and miss the start!" I figured he was joking at first, but he was not. We made a quick exit.

I hung towards the back of my corral when we got there. When the start happened, we started walking slowly towards the starting line. There was a brief moment of excitement as we started running as the TV cameras were pointing at us, but other than that it was a slow walk until just before the line.

My memory of the first few miles is of loads of runners, it was hard to change speed or direction even slightly without getting in someone's way - even if the change was to avoid someone doing the same thing. Water stops were well organised, but it was a reflection on the day that I felt I needed to be sure to take on a full cup of water at each one (along with a sip of my diluted gels in the handheld).

By mile 2 I was 30 seconds or so behind my pace band, but not too worried. By mile 7 the gap had grown to nearly a minute. Somewhere around there I realised that my inner thighs were chafing quite badly - had I forgotten to put Bodyglide there? - madness! I spent a few moments over the next couple of miles wondering if there would be any opportunity to do anything about it until I saw a lady offering sticks with a glob of vaseline on the end and thankfully took one and smeared some around as I ran the next few steps.

By half-way, the gap between my pace band and my actual progress had grown to nearly two minutes and I started to feel that my legs were less fresh-feeling than I would expect. My pace to this point was still respectable, but I started to suspect that this was not going to be a great day.

I threw away my hand-held (basically empty) at the post-mile 14 water-stop. I don't remember exactly when I finally gave up tracking my pace altogether. It was probably around mile 17 or 18 in the Newton hills, but not really as a result of the hills. During mile 20, one of my friends caught up with me - he started two corrals back and had a slightly-more-modest target, so he said he was sorry to see me as he caught up. I ran with him for quarter of a mile or so and then wished him well.

I kept running (albeit rather slower than planned) up Heartbreak Hill and for the next mile or so afterwards, then I took my first walk-break. I took regular walk breaks for the next four miles, enjoying thanking the people who cheered me on, high-fiving kids and college students and generally remembering that I was running the Boston Marathon. By now, any thought of a really good result, a PR, a safe qualifier to run again next year, a BQ, a decent time had disappeared (in that order) and had only one aim left - to enjoy the experience and get to the end in reasonable shape. At some point I tucked my remaining Geetah straw away in my Flipbelt - since I was sure I could walk the remaining water stops and drink like a normal person. I'd dropped the first of two straws while trying to tuck it back under my Garmin after the first water stop. I did better after that!

As I turned into Hereford Street, I was scanning the crowds to my right to be sure of seeing the family who had planned to be there. About half-way I spotted them and gave them a big smile, stopped for a hug, reassured them that I was having a good day despite my late arrival and then set off. I ran the rest of the way, tearing up a little as I turned onto Boylston Street. I realised that I had one target I could still achieve - bettering my very first marathon time - and I did - by about two minutes.

I profusely thanked each volunteer who I interacted with after the finish - water, thermal blanket, food, medal, bag-drop bag, randomly standing around, etc. It had been a lousy race, but an amazing experience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day 9.100: Back from Back Bay

I'm not quite ready to write about the race, so here are some other pictures from our trip to Boston (we weren't actually staying in Back Bay but we did spend some time there!):

Exile #4 spotted that this bollard was topped with a bike saddle:

The Charles:

It turned out that the play area we stopped at at E5N1's request (the girls both succumbed to its charms too) was made of recycled materials:

This bus shelter was right after the finish line on race day:

We were staying near the Alewife T station. The area had these fancy warning signs near the storm drains:

And some trees in blossom:

And here is the remains of another game of Dragoon (we played a few times in our hotel room):

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Day 9.098: Exile #2's Sunday Column #103

Exile #2 writes...

It's the eve of the big race. We spent a happy morning soaking in the marathon atmosphere, and eating brunch with some of Exile #1's running forum buddies, who have come from all over the US. Since then we've been taking it easy. Even those of us who will not be running, have appreciated the time to put our feet up and recuperate from the excitements of yesterday.

E5N1 wasn't sure he was keen on Boston after the shoulder-to-shoulder Expo, but he's coming round, thanks to multiple rides on the Subway. The trains are as busy as rush hour whatever time of day but standing up and jostling around with the other passengers seems to hold as much attraction as sitting down. We'll be attempting to find Exile #1 in the crowds, to give him a big cheer tomorrow. If you have a minute, do send some running energy his way too!!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Day 9.096: Training over

We're heading out tomorrow morning to attend this event. It's quite exciting.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Day 9.095: Here be dragons

About a year ago, I joined in the funding of a Kickstarter project hoping it might result in a Christmas gift for the family. It didn't make it here in time for Christmas, but it arrived today in time for the beginning of the kids' April break from school.

Here it is - a game called "Dragoon":

You play as a dragon which is awesome (and they're cool metal models which is even more awesome). Here we are at the end of our first game (Exile #3 managed to just beat Exile #4 at the last moment).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Day 9.094: Middle Goosefare Trails

As Exile #2 mentioned on Sunday, we investigated a small network of trails that start near this beaver pond on Goosefare Brook under the Eastern Trail near Route 1 in Saco.

The pond is quite impressive (I posted a picture of the dam on Sunday) and there is evidence of recent beaver activity:

I can only imagine, that the area would look like this (slightly upstream) if it wasn't for the beaver's efforts:

Here are some photos from our mile-or-so walk:

We took a short out-and-back detour to see this historical curiosity. An eighty year-old precursor to the beaver's engineering to allow 1930's visitors to boat, fish and skate in this valley (one can only assume it was less tree-filled then):

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Day 9.093: Building on the green belt

This happened last Friday, but got a bit overshadowed by the birthday activities:

I took her back to the dojo for more training today, so I guess that's what she's doing now?!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Day 9.092: Pikachu and peepachu

Exile #2 made some pretty amazing party-favours for E5N1's party.

These bags:

Pikachu party bags
and in the bags:
Peepachu (made out of Peeps)