Thursday, December 31, 2009

Robert Burns says it all

Below is a link to a FABULOUS rendition of Auld Lang Syne by the male acapella group, Straight No Chaser:

My favorite verse of this traditional song celebrating love and friendships from the past is the last one:

So here's a hand my trusted friend

And give a hand of thine.

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

Bring on the kindnesss in 2010!! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Training

The combination of the snow and the holiday festivities has definitely cut into my marathon training. While I actually prefer running in cold weather and don't mind the snow as long as I'm wearing yak tracks on my shoes, the snow has been a deterence because I'm choosing to cross country ski over logging miles. You never really know how long the good snow is going to stay around and skiing along the trails in Rocky Woods is heavenly!!

Unfortunately Santa did NOT drop off any running snow shoes. I might have to take advantage of the after xmas sales at REI and pick up a pair. I can only image how TOUGH jogging even a mile or two in snow must be...looking for new and interesting challenges and twists to my fitness training.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2 Days of Hills

I've started to run the Thursday Night 9 mile run from Newton to Boston on a regular basis, but just today I ran those hills a second time this week when I snuck in a run while Hannah was at a volley ball clinic. The clinic was at Newton North High school, just .4 miles from the course at the base of the second hill. Once I dropped off the girls, I headed out on the course running down to the fire station, turned around and then ran back up past B.C., turned around a second time returning to Newton North. Today was my first official "long run" as I logged what Jack posted on our training schedule for the Dec. 12 long run. Here is this week's total mileage:

Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday; 9 miles (hills)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: To be determined - I have a couple holiday parties tonight!! Ho, ho, ho.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Perfect Day

Hannah ( my youngest daughter who is 11) took this picture of our backyard when she woke up early this morning. This is one of the many reasons that I adore living in a New England small town. The Nixons had a busy schedule today which included a local community 5k race (Angel Run) and an Advent Sunday Family/Friends Dinner - that I was preparing! The decorating committee of the Angel Run race was blessed! I was scrambling a bit

I headed off early for my first 2009/2010 winter walk in Rocky Woods before heading off to the grocery store. No pictures from the walk, but it was simply awesome. A very spiritual Sunday morning indeed.
In the afternoon 4 out of the 5 Nixons participated in the Angel Run 5k. My older two children were a "bit tired" from their high school Holiday Dance on Saturday night, but Kallie agreed to lace up her running shoes and run with her sister for this community event. (Beau was in the basement asleep in his clothes from last night!) I worked very hard to try and keep up with the top cross-country girls (and succeeded!) who were racing at the event, only to discover in the race results that I was wearing my husband's bib number! He is now one of the top 20 fastest males in Medfield!

The race was followed up by a wonderful tree-trimming and dinner with family and friends. Dishes are done. lights are dimmed, and I'm watching the final scenes from the Bishop's Wife (Carey him!)

Life IS good!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my friends, near and far...

"Friendship is the guise of love,
And love is friendship
Dressed up for a night out.
That we are here together, here at this moment,
Alive, one with another,
Is the most delicious treat;
I, for one, ask for no more,
I, for one, am replete."

(Corduroy Mansions, Alexander McCall Smith)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Barefoot Runner

No, I don't run barefoot. But I am a runner who has become obsessed with the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

I used to love cooking when the children were small. Because I was a stay-at-home mom with my two oldest children only 17 months apart, I was kind of sick of them by the end of day and they typically were nestled in their beds (after stories, of course!) by 6:30. Cooking became a type of creative and relaxing outlet for me, and I usually had a couple hours before my husband came home as he often had evening appointments at this point in his career. In those days we ate some mighty fine meals!

However, as the children got older, stayed up later, and became picky eaters, the elegant and interesting dinners came to a halt. Cooking was no longer regarded as fun, but more of a chore and a task. "Do I have to feed these other 4 people AGAIN! I just did this last night!"
Fortunately, the summers are different. There is a lot more down time and slicing, dicing and sauteing as you look out at the ocean becomes FUN again! Some of my neighbors turned me on to the Barefoot Contessa books this past summer and my interest in cooking has been reignited. Today I just picked up Barefoot in Paris which now completes my set of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

So once a week for the next year I plan on preparing a Barefoot Meal for the family as well as toss in some Barefoot Dinner parties. Maybe I should start a blog and then write a BOOK about my year of cooking barefoot! Oh wait, that's been done before. But I DO KNOW where I'll be purchasing all my organic spices. Check out Jenny's (DFMC veteran) new organic spice business adventure at Smith and Truslow.

But will Cooking Barefoot make me run any faster?! Or how could I tie in Barefoot Cooking into a fundraiser for DFMC???? for thought.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Running through mud puddles

When Kallie and the rest of the Medfield xcountry team finished running their Divisional Meet at Franklin Park last Saturday, I didn't want her getting into our car to go home. The girls were a total, muddy MESS!! Some of the puddles they were forced to run through went up to their knees. Gotta love the wonderful world of xcountry running!!

I never ran in high school or college. In fact, I didn't start until I was 30 years old after having two children. It has been so much fun watching and supporting the girls in Medfield, and I know that after Kallie graduates I'll still be coming back for more xcountry spectactor fun.

I also see the same positive team bonding that I've experienced with DFMC. We all have our individual goals, but we are also excited when a team mate races a new PR. I know these girls will continue running, perhaps not at a competitive collegiate level, but they've got the heart, soul and guts to be future DFMCers!!!

Good Luck at States, Medfield!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The confusion of the college application process

Kallie, self-portrait

Remember when the biggest decision of your life was WHERE I am going to college??? (Or perhaps, where will I be ACCEPTED to college???). Thank goodness my oldest daughter has the relief of her cross-country workouts to make it all bearable!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fit Girl Race Buddies

I'm thrilled to see how successful the Fit Girls volunteer "race buddy" aspect of the program has been working!! Basically how the race buddy program works is we recruit local runners and high school athletes to run/walk with a team of girls at their final 5k event. There typically is a wide range of paces. Some girls (a relatively small number!) actually try to jog the entire distance. The majority of them alternate between running and walking. And a handful of them creep along the course at a snail's pace...however they ALL make it to the finish line!! It is super helpful to have lots of volunteers along the course to motivate, inspire and cheer for the girls in order to keep their engines running. These volunteers are wonderful role models and mentors.

The little girls ADORE their older race buddies! And the volunteers seem to really enjoy the experience too. Perhaps the volunteers recongize a younger version of themselves.

So in this post I'm taking the opportunity to thank Abby and Brenda, DFMC marathon athletes, who helped at the Chelsea Trick or Trot race, and the 9 Medfield xcountry girls who spurred on my team of girls in Medfield. You're the best!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NYC Marathon 2009 Results

Hannah: "Mom, did you come in 40th in the NYC marathon???"

Me: "Not exactly. Try adding a couple more digits." (Actual overall place: 4128)

The New York City Marathon is an AMAZING event! However, the one thing I DO NOT enjoy about this race is the hours spent on Staten Island before the race starts. I was assigned to take a 5:30 bus from the New York Public Library only to arrive on Staten Island and sit around for 3 hours (in relatively cold, damp conditions) before lining up in my coral. While waiting in my coral I had the pleasure of meeting two young women, both strong half marathon runners, who were running their first marathon. They were shooting for a time between 3:30-3:45. I quickly identified these gals as great race buddies as I also was nervous about running too fast too early in the game only to crash and burn at the tail end. Starting out at an 8 minute pace was perfect!

As it turned out, even if we wanted to run much faster we wouldn't have had the opportunity as this race is REALLY crowded. Unfortunately I lost my new friends (one at mile 10 and the other one at mile 20) but these gals from New Mexico and Texas were fabulous running mates.
26 miles is 26 miles, regardless of how fast or how slow you run. The slightly sub 8 minute pace was comfortable, but at mile 20 I was ready to be DONE with all of it. In most of my marathon experiences, this is the point when things start to tighten up and it begins to hurt. I pushed through the next 3 miles, and at the 23 mile point I had a burst of energy to just finish. To my surprise I ran mile 24 at a 7:20 pace and my final mile at a 7:10 pace. My first negative splits EVER in a marathon, or any race for that matter.

Final time: 3:25:25.

What's next? Boston 2010.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Race Buddy: NYC Marathon 2009

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."

"All right, then, I'll go to hell."

Gotta love Mark Twain! This week I was laminating a project for one of the 8th grade teachers at the Middle School, and I came upon some great quotes from MT. Then I started to think back on how much I ADORED his Diaries of Adam and Eve, a unique volume that demonstrates a very loving, sensitive side of Twain (along with the wit and humor that we expect).

So I've picked up a couple of other unusual books as MT reflects upon life, love and religion for my trip down to NYC including The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writing on Eden, Heaven, and the Flood by America's Master Satirist. I look forward to mulling over irreverent thoughts through the 5 boroughs in New York on Sunday. Looking forward to the company, Mark! Anyone else want to share a favorite Twain quote?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Next weekend I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my first NYC marathon. This marathon is special to me as it sparked a real shift in my life. What really stood out when I first arrived out in Staten Island on a FREEZING cold day in November of 1999, was that it truly was the city where "the world comes to run". There were thousands of runners from all over the world proud to be in the Big Apple representing their particular country. And I was thrilled to be a part of this global community of runners in an exciting, fast-paced city filled with adventure. I was Dorothy excited to be out of Kansas.

I was so pumped up at the start of the race that I went out really fast. But the pace felt good so I decided to stick with it. I reached the 13.1 mile mark in 1:23. At that point I told myself that either I was going to have the race of my life and qualify for the Olympic Trials or completely crash and burn. So I went for it.

As it turned out I crashed BIG TIME having to walk most of the last 2-3 miles. Those last few miles were long, slow and painful, but I actually felt fabulous finishing that race. What I found most exciting and exhilarating was the fact that I took the risk and put forth my best effort and NOT those numbers on the clock at the finish line (3:02). So I didn't qualify for the Trials, but at least I gave it my best shot. I also recall so many thoughtful and supportive gestures from the other runners at this race, despite the language barriers. When you're running along with the same person for 5 or 6 miles you actually begin to bond, even if there aren't any words. I wish I could meet and thank the Norwegian woman who handed me a grape licorice stick at mile 21 when she could tell I was starting to fade. My memories of this day will be always be precious to me.

I love coming back to New York. This year is going to be a slow one, but I'm still thrilled, honored and grateful that I will once again "be a part" of this amazing race and incredible city.
This year I've got a great itinerary which includes great reads on the train to and from the city, a ticket to Wicked on Broadway, Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, dinner with DFMCers in the Village, and oh yes, a 26 mile "jog" on Sunday morning.
A toast to all NYC runners past, present and future who embrace the positive spirit of what it means to come together peacefully and run!

Monday, October 12, 2009

After a FABULOUS get-away wedding weekend with wonderful friends down in Kiawah island (below is the view from our balcondy), it was back to training as the NYC marathon is less than 3 weeks away - yikes! Today I ran the Tufts Health Plan 10k with the Babes Bookin' It team of women and high school athletes. About four years ago I created Babes Bookin' It as a fundraising event to support the literacy nonprofit, First Book. This was before I started working with the DMSE Foundation in order to bring Fit Girls to girls living in underserved communities in Boston. So for the past two years I've recruited 'babes' to run both the Falmouth Road Race and the Tufts event and agree to raise funds for the Boston Fit Girls Project. Today was particularly special for me as it was the first opportunity for me to run a 10k with my oldester daughter, Kallie, who also happens to be one of the captains of the Medfield cross-country team. We(Kallie, me and a dozen or so of her cross-country teammates) got stuck way in the back so we were basically running the first couple miles at a snail's pace. However, at about mile 3 Kallie started to kick and it was so great to run hard with her those last 3 miles. And I adore the rest of her team that also joined us at today's event. Catching up on the teenage gossip during our T ride to and from the race was entertaining, but I'm SO glad that those days are over! Thanks to those other adult "babes", Kristina, Teresa, Suzanne, Miranda and Mary who also ran with these pretty young things.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Summer Running...Had me a Blast

My Summer Training Log:

Easy runs of 5-8 miles and long early morning strolls along the rocky shores of the cape cod bay.
No long runs, no hard runs, and one race (Falmouth). This is NOT great preparation for the NYC marathon that I will be running (and probably walking too!) on Nov. 1. I guess I was having too much fun at my beloved summer home and community. Besides, the older I get the more I really, really hate the heat.

Despite my slow time at Falmouth, I had a fabulous time as not only did my oldest daughter (a cross-country/track girl) join me, but my husband Brian also ran his very first road race!! The guy has become an exercise machine over the last 6 months, losing 25 pounds and actually enjoying his running workouts. Go figure!

While I was somewhat pleased that I could still run Falmouth under a 7 minute/mile pace, I suffered from the "throw up" stomach after pushing up the last hill...probably 1/4 mile from the finish. I took a short walking break at that point, clenching my stomach while gagging and desperately hoping that I wouldn't puke on the feet of runners or spectators. Not a pretty sight or pretty finish to the race, but I was able to pick up the pace for the last few hundreds BEFORE I saw Barry the Liver Guy at the finish who would have completely yelled at me to see me walking. Whew!
Very happy to finish that race!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beach Buddies: Authors Pick Literary Partners for Fun, Sun

This morning I came upon a fun article in the Washington Post where famous authors were asked which literary characters they would like to accompany them to the beach. Here is Jodi Piccoult's answer:

I'd spend the day with Mr. Darcy, from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," naturally. Is there any other man who broods so masterfully in literature and who could benefit more from a spirited, lighthearted game of beach Frisbee? And of course, since we'd be on a beach together, I'd greatly enjoy seeing what's beneath that proper waistcoat of his.

I'd like to collect sea glass and observe the sealife with Mr. Rodchester from Jane Eyre and talk more about his issues with women. I was considering Atticus Finch. He certainly would be a gentleman, but it would probably be more fun to frolic in the waves with passionate Mr. R!

My second choice would be sipping pina coladas while watching the sunset over the ocean with Frederick Wentworth from Austen's Persuasion and discussing the art of the hand written letter. Gotta LOVE his letter to Anne Elliot -

"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago. Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant."

So who would YOU choose as a beach buddy?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Reads and Roots

Okay. I admit it. I'm an Anglo/Scotophile kind of gal. Love their literature. Love their land. Love their history. These are my people and my roots, and although there is no sign of Scottish blood in the documentation of our family tree, I know in my heart and bones it is there somewhere! When browsing at bookstores, I'm most definitely drawn to novels based in the U.K. My most recent adult and children's favorites are:

The Sweetness of the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Mystery is not one of my favorite literary genres. Perhaps it was the word "pie" that caught my eye in the Wellesley Booksmith as the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (now in paperback) is high on my list of recent favorites. I typically don't eat pie, but I seem to enjoy reading about pie! The protagonist is 11 year-old Flavia De Luce - Harriet the Spy/Sammy Keyes meets Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple. The characters in the novel are quirky and delightful. When Flavia discovers a dead body in the family's cucumber patch she wishes she could say she was afraid. "But I wasn't . Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life."

Death in the cucumber patch...gotta love it! So very British.

And then there is Julie Hahnke's fantasy novel for intermediate readers, The Grey Ghost.

When Black Duncan Campbell starts murdering his neighbors in 1526 Scotland, eleven-year-old Angus suddenly finds himself the sole survivor of Clan Macnab. Aided by a goshawk and a pine marten, and urged forward by a mysterious luna moth, Angus must uncover his clan’s heritage, reveal ancient secrets, and try to end the Campbell’s bloody rampage.

Julie also hosts AMAZING author/bookstore visits and presentations as she brings along her bagpipes (she is a superb piper) plus lots of historical /scientific information and slides about the animals and countries she writes about in her novels.

Great Stuff...So what would be the Scottish verion of "Erin Go Bragh"? Mel Gibson might know.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Walking on Sunshine despite the rain

It all began when I purchased a pair of Mizuno trail running shoes. And these shoes were made for travelling!
After arriving in London at 5:15 A.M. on Thursday morning and a 3 1/2 hour train ride up to the Lake District, followed by an absolutely terrifying taxi ride from the train station, I finally arrived at Laurel Cottage in the town of Bowness where I would begin and end my 3 day walking holiday.

On Friday morning, after a typical English breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast, I headed up the quaint street of Bowness into the village of Windermere.

And thus began Day 1 of my adventure: A 10.5 mile walk from Windermere to Grasmere

After about 30 minutes I arrived at Orrest Head for some fabulous views down on to the lake and village of Windermere. It was a rainy day, but even the lowsy weather couldn't cloud over the beauty of this piece of the world.

I was incredibly fortunate at this point in the trip to meet up with an older English couple walking to Ambleside, the half-way point of Day 1. After leaving Orrest Head there was no clear path whatsoever - just rolling hills, stone walls and lots and lots of sheep. They helped me navigate my way over stiles through these farms , and after 4 miles with these nice, helpful people I was becoming a bit more confident in my ability to understand the maps and directions.

Below is a view of Rylant Waters which leads to Grasmere, the home of Williams Wordsworth and where I was spending the night.

Before checking in to the guest house in Grasmere, I had the opportunity to tour Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home.

It was great fun to meet some locals for an evening of Questions (their version of trivia night) at the pub in the Wordsworth Inn.
My view from the guest house in Grasmere was amazing!

Day 2: Grasmere to Coniston, 12.5 miles. After breakfast (same thing - eggs, toast, tomatoes and mushrooms), it was time to head up into the hills again.

And along sides of mountains:

At some point looking across the way I knew I was going to have to go up and over the mountain range to get to Coniston. Hmmmm...

And when I finally headed up and over, the views were again, AMAZING!

On the way back down, however, it started to get a little dicey. I took a picture of this charming stream (or "beck" as it is called in Cumbria). Shortly after snapping this photo, the beck lost it's charm and turned into what felt like a gorge to me as the path became very steep and rocky.

There also was NO sign of life at this point in the route. My directions told me I was supposed to come upon a minor road, but this is all I could see: Do you see any sign of a road????

As it turned out there WAS a road along side the wall in the distance and I was SO relieved when I saw a car drive by along that wall. Yes, civilization!! It literally was all down hill after that scarey moment.

Whenever I was walking through a wooded area, there were lovely patches of bluebells.

I was really pooped after Day 2 and was thrilled to reach my guest house in Coniston.

Day 3: Coniston to Sawrey - 9.5 miles
The morning walk out of Coniston was quite spiritual as church bells were ringing as I hiked up the hills. I couldn't help but start to sing (to myself as not to scare the sheep! ) a favorite hymn that brings me back to my high school days at Laurel School...."And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England's mountains green." And believe me...there were lots of holy lambs too

The home of Beatrix Potter who left over 4.000 acres of land she purchased to the National Trust in order to preserve the beauty of the Lake District country sid

After visiting Beatrix's house and a quick lunch in Near Sawrey, I only had a few more miles of my walking adventure as I headed over to Lake Windermere where I would be taking a ferry back to Bowness, the beginning and end of my walking holiday.

Wild garlic was in full bloom this time of year and the smell was quite powerful when you walked through a batch.

And finally, waiting for the ferry to take me back to Laurel Cottage. I MADE IT! A magical and brilliant adventure indeed!