09 July 2011

The Merry Month of Mostly Maine

I think I’ve forgotten how to blog. No, seriously, three weeks have passed, I’ve lost the list of topics and ideas that’s always haunting my desk, reminding me of the articles I’ve yet to write, and each day ends without my having found time to write. Well, whatever. Get on with it. It’s ketchup time, so let’s catch up.

It’s early June and I find myself in Portland, Maine for a conference speaking engagement, so that means a jaunt around Back Cove, rapidly elected Best Spot to Run while in Portland. Ever the social running animal, I am tickled when someone pulls a u-turn to catch up and join me as a potential compatible training partner. Cullen and I burn a fast lap around the cove before he peels off and I head for the conference. The day starts with one great social running connection, and hours later finishes with another as kindred running spirits find each other at the post-conference reception and make the normal types around us roll their eyes. One of these days I’ll get a chance to read Paul’s wife’s running blog and will then provide a link here.

It’s a mere few days later in June and again I find myself in Maine, Augusta this time, and it’s a cool sixty eight degrees at three in the afternoon. Post customer meeting I find a remote parking lot, change from Network Man costume to Racing Man costume, and head south to join my club-mates for the Mr. Bean race back home in Worcester, a small event among the best crowd in town. Sadly, between Augusta and Worcester, sixty eight becomes eighty eight, and the prospect of a cool evening race becomes a steamer. A fortunate delay to the start due to some crossed signals gets us down to the mid-eighties and we race, popping in a third place finish and top master in a race with no master’s division. Or awards, for that matter, because it’s that kind of race. Run, have a beer, have a great evening. It’s all good.

Poetically, I should start this next paragraph by saying that once again, I find myself in Maine, because I did, however not just yet.

First, I find myself across town for our club’s Third Annual Running With the Wolves 10K. Perhaps we can tie this to the theme by calling it a Main(e) Event? Gloriously, I am not the race director this year. My sole worry is scoring. Back office stuff. Spreadsheet weenie stuff. My kind of stuff, made even better working in partnership with Oh-So-Capable Wife. What a team! Heading out the door to the race, I spy a string of Christmas lights oddly sitting out in the basement in June. They make for a festive night,
which becomes more festive when our Bruins take game seven during our after-race party. Nothing like a big win while amongst friends. A night that can’t be beat.

And now I return to that theme, so incongruously interrupted.

Not two weeks since my last foray, I again find myself in Maine. Each incursion is deeper than the past, first Portland, then Augusta, and now my clan’s home-away-from-home, Mt. Desert Island. For Father’s Day, I give the kids an extra two hours to find a rock on the beach for me (forecast celebration mode based on past experience, actual results did vary) and head to the other side of the island to meet the local club, Crow Athletics (Why the name? Because crows are tough, found everywhere, and refuse to get out of the road, so sayeth their web site. Well done.) …for their Sunday morning run on Acadia’s carriage roads. One guy shows up. But that’s all I needed, he’s my age, runs my pace, and has a twenty-miler in mind, more than enough to accompany me on the eleven-mile circuit of the Around the Mountain carriage road I’ve got targeted. Steve and I fight a stiff north wind climbing along the west side of Parkman and Bald Mountains to reach the open vistas afforded from the north side of Sargent Mountain. Spectacular is a lame word to describe the scene. A few hours later, Father’s Day givings received, I return to the same mountain with the clan and accomplish a first: around the mountain and then over the (same) mountain on the same day. The wind is even stiffer, the views are even spectacular-er, and the day is capped by Darling Daughter the Youngest getting me out for a second run of the day, a practice we continue throughout the week and beyond. She’s been bitten by the bug. What a Dad’s day!

A few days later in Maine, having run around a mountain, I get the bug to run up a mountain. Beech Mountain is a mere eight hundred and forty feet, pretty much starting at sea level at Long Pond, so it's no Everest but it's a pretty good climb. Better, it is only a few miles from the cottage, though getting there involves a pretty significant climb and drop all its own. Running the trail turns out to be more or less impossible, and I quickly drop to a power walk until the trail levels out near the top, but in sixteen minutes I’m on top of this family favorite. Daughters ask me later what I did next, and are amused when I tell them I spent twenty six seconds on top, then ran back down via the south ridge, tripping only once on the way down in a spot where God conveniently provided a very large tree exactly where my arm flew out to catch myself.

Four days of glorious weather in Acadia in June is really cause to buy a lottery ticket, and indeed our luck runs out. For the latter half of our week’s vacation the wind blows hard onshore and turns the air to the temperature of the North Atlantic. Wicked cold, but really quite nice for running, other than the wicked wind. Maine turns into a sixty mile week. And the skies open on the last day, so we bag our hoped-for hike and high-tail it south. Needing to stretch our legs, we find ourselves in Portland, and being in Portland, we come full circle from whence this article started and take a family walking lap around Back Cove.

Thus endeth the Month of Maine, which would have been even more poetic had it happened in May, but it didn’t. Life’s puns are not perfect.

And now, caught up more or less, I make the final note that I had the pleasure of joining my partner in insanity Chris today as she completed her version of the Run Marlborough quest. For me, I’ve somehow accidentally been running for fifty-two days straight, an unintentional streak that started a few days before I finished that quest back in May. The circle closes again, and so will I.

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