Sunday, April 20, 2014

Moose on the Loose Half Marathon 2014

I didn't really plan to run the Moose on the Loose Half Marathon in Nashua, NH last Sunday. Well, if I did, I didn't tell anybody about it. That post The Trouble with New England was just a hypothetical list of half marathons in every New England state that someone might run if they were crazy enough.

But somehow I found myself in Nashua at 7:30 am on Sunday morning. The race start was scheduled for 9:00 am. I was early. I am always early for running races and sailing regattas. Probably some personality disorder, I guess.

There were plenty of Porta Potties. It's very important to have to have enough porta potties. So I used the facilities and collected my cool Moose on the Loose shirt and my cool Moose on the Loose pint glass. The pint glasses were really for awards but as I never win awards at running races (well hardly ever) I had paid a bit extra at registration to get a cool Moose on the Loose pint glass. I went back to my car and called my wife and waited for the start.

And then it started to rain. The weather forecast all week had said that Sunday would be a beautiful sunny cool day, perfect for running. But the night before the race the evil weather forecasters changed the plan and said it would be a miserable rainy cold day, awful for running. I dug out my hat and my rain jacket from my bag.

I chatted to some other runners before the start as we sheltered under a tree from the rain. One couple told me some story about how they had been running half marathons all winter including one when it was 6 degrees F. Complete lies of course. Didn't believe a word of it.

The course was absolutely gorgeous. Well, most of it was. Well, it would have been if it hadn't been for the bloody rain.  It was a two lap course, and about three quarters of each lap was in Mine Falls Park. As it says on the Nashua city website…

The name "Mine Falls" derives from the 1700s, when low quality lead was supposedly mined from the island below the falls. In the early 1800s the potential of the Nashua River to drive the wheels of industry was recognized. Workers used shovels and mules to dig the three-mile long canal, which provides a vertical drop of 36 feet at the mills.

So now there is a linear park in the center of the city with a river and a canal and a millpond and all these paths winding along the water with bridges to cross the canal at various points. Spectacular.

Let's talk about my run. My plan, such as it was, was to run the first 8 miles at an easy relaxed pace, speed up a bit for miles 9-12, and go even faster for the final mile. It didn't quite work out like that. I did run the first 8 miles at what felt like an easy relaxed pace. But then when I stepped up the effort I found I was working harder but actually going slightly slower in miles 9-12, and then I was totally knackered (that's a technical running term) so I went even slower in the final mile. Perhaps there is something wrong with my training program? Oh yeah, I didn't really finish the half marathon training program. That might be it.

But it was fun.  The scenery made it fun. The other runners made it fun. I enjoyed some light banter with another runner (about half my age) as we kept passing and re-passing all other around the course. I made encouraging sounds at other runners whom I passed in the final few miles. Even though I was knackered they looked even more knackered than I felt.

And all too soon we were at the finish line. That's a lie of course. When you are as slow as me, the finish is never "all too soon." And I was lapped by the winner on the first lap. Yes, the winner (some kid about a third my age) was actually running twice as fast as I was and finished the race before I was even half way round. He'll probably blow his knees out by the time he's my age.

I went over to check the results. I was sixth in my age group!!! Woo hoo!!! And I was the second oldest person in the race and I wasn't last!!! Woo hoo!!! It looked as if they had already done the awards ceremony. That's a measure of how slow I really was. But as I was looking at the results the race director came over to talk to me and he asked me how old I was and when he heard he gave me another cool Moose on the Loose pint mug. Woo hoo!!! And I got a finisher's medal of course.

So I may have been slow but I did have some swag. And, after all, that's what why we run, isn't it? It's all about the swag.

Only bad thing was that I never did see the moose.  Why would that be?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What Keeps Me Young

My grandkids make me laugh.

Isabel (2) was given a new sled towards the end of the winter.
Where is she going today?
Is she looking for snow?
Or does she think it's a boat?

Owen (3) broke his arm this week.
He was very brave at the hospital.
Here he is, having a bath, keeping his cast dry with a bread bag.
A bread bag?

My grandkids make me laugh.

Laughing keeps me young.


Eostre is the Easter beer.

It's a beer of promise and rebirth, spring-like in its zesty flavor.

It's light and hoppy, made from Pale malt and Goldings hops.

I'm sure you know that Eostre was an ancient Goddess of Spring, also known as Ostara.

Her followers celebrated her festival at this time of year, many centuries before the Christians came along and stole her name and changed it into the name for their festival.

When I lived in England, Eostre was traditionally the time that sailing clubs opened their seasons. Both of the clubs that I was a member of there had major regattas for club members on Eostre weekend (which is a 4 day holiday.)

So let's raise a glass of Eostre to Eostre.

Happy Eostre.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Smoke Rise

Lake Kinnelon, Smoke Rise - Kinnelon NJ - 1960

I wasn't there in 1960 but I did sail Sunfish regattas there in the 1990s.

Kinnelon is just up the road from Mountain Lakes in NJ where we lived from 1989-2007 and there was a healthy rivalry between the sailing clubs in the two towns. We used to have an inter-club Sunfish regatta for the two fleets in September every year. It was (and still is I believe) quaintly known as the Triangular Regatta because it originally included a third club who had dropped out of the event by the time I was involved.

Smoke Rise was also often the location for the Sailing Association of New Jersey Lakes Annual Junior Regatta which both my sons won in turn.

Smoke Rise was also the home of the 1969 U.S. National Sailfish Championship. Those boats in the photo are Sailfish I believe. Note the unusual light wind helming technique!

The picture was shamelessly ripped from The Smoke Rise and Kinnelon Blog.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Trouble with New England

The trouble with New England is that it has six states.

And six is just the right (or wrong) number to motivate obsessive compulsive types who like to create artificial challenges for themselves or others. Things like climbing to the highest point in all six states on the same weekend, or skiing in all six states in the same month, or spending a year researching your favorite beer in each of the the six states.

I think I like the sound of that last one the best.

Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes, artificial challenges.

The Rhode Island Runners Club likes those. One of their annual awards, the New England Cup, is for any member who completes a race in all six New England states during the year.

And if you happened to be a member of that club you might get attracted to that challenge.

But if you were one of those aforementioned obsessive compulsive types who likes to create artificial challenges for yourself, you might like to make it a little harder and try and do something nutty like run a half marathon (not just any old race like a 5k or 10k) in each New England state during the year.

God knows there are enough half marathons around these days. Here (as just a hypothetical example you understand) is one way you could run a half marathon in each New England state in 2014.

  • April 13 - Moose on the Loose Half Marathon - Nashua, NH
  • May 11 - Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge Half Marathon - Foster, RI
  • June 8 - Lime Rock Park Half Marathon - Lakeville, CT
  • July 6 - Mad Half Marathon, Mad River Valley, VT
  • Sep 7 - Freeport Half Marathon - Freeport, ME
  • Oct 19 - Fall River Half Marathon - Fall River, MA

Doesn't that look easy? Nicely spaced about a month apart. Missing out August because it's hot and that's a good time to go to the beach or go sailing.

Wait. Did he say "sailing"?

What if our hypothetical obsessive-compulsive runner were also a sailor? A Laser sailor, say. Would he also get the strange idea that it would be fun to sail his Laser in a regatta in every New England state in the same year?

God knows there are enough Laser regattas around these days. Here (as just a hypothetical example you understand) is one way you could sail a Laser in a regatta in each New England state in 2014.

  • May 17 - Connecticut River Dinghy Distance Race, CT
  • May 31 - New Hampshire Seacoast Regatta - Dover, NH
  • June 21/22 - John Bentley Regatta, New Bedford YC - South Dartmouth, MA
  • June 29 - Maine State Championship Series #2 -  Portland, ME
  • July 12/13 - Newport Regatta, RI
  • August 16/17 - Chiott Vermont Laser Open - Colchester, VT

Doesn't that look easy? Nicely spaced through the summer. And, purely by coincidence, none of the regattas are on the same weekend as any of the half marathons on the first list.

And the beauty of (or the trouble with) New England is that there are so many half marathons and Laser regattas in a year that even if our hypothetical running sailor didn't complete one of these events because his grandchildren came to visit him one weekend or it was rainy or cold or too windy or not windy enough one weekend (the wimp)…. then he could always substitute another race or regatta later in the year. Or even do a few more running races or regattas not on the above list just for the hell of it (the wild thing.)

Of course, if he had any sense, our hypothetical obsessive compulsive running sailor wouldn't tell anyone that he was thinking of doing any of the above. Still less would he admit that he had set himself anything weird like a "goal" to do any of the above.

That would be totally bizarre.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Where am I?

Where am I?

What used to be here?

What are some people hoping it will be in future?

Clue #1: Harbor.

Clue #2: The thing that used to be here didn't move very far.

Clue #3: Ten foot.

Clue #4: When is a harbor not a harbor even when it's new?

Clue #5: Why is there a fox in the woods even though there are no woods?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Internet Dating

Apparently 20% of relationships these days begin online.

I'm not surprised. The Internet is embedded in almost every aspect of our lives these days.

But I'm an old-fashioned guy. I met my current love the old-fashioned way. In the real world. It may not have quite been love at first sight. But it was close. At least for me.

We've been together now for over 30 years. We have been through so much together. Moved to a new country. Traveled the world. Grown old together.

She is even better than when I first met her, but for some reason I feel the need for change. Maybe it's a (late) middle-aged crisis but I'm ready for new experiences.

So I went looking for love online.

And a few weeks ago I think I found it.

Wow. I couldn't believe it when I first saw her details on this website I found. Similar in some ways to my current love but not so heavy and way better looking. Very sexy. There were these fantastic pictures. And video. I was blown away.

The way these dating sites work these days is amazing. You can even read reviews from other people who have already dated your prospective partner. Here is what one of those guys said about her…

She is uncomplicated yet sophisticated, she doesn't take forever to get ready, she goes like a train, she has no vices or annoyances, she is an LMB (Low maintenance Bird) as opposed to an HMB, she won't bite you in the arse or take advantage of you when you make a mistake, she will be easy to live with yet rewarding in the long term. She will make you smile.... every time!

Wow. What a recommendation!

She's from England. Like me. I just know we are going to hit it off.

She is planning to come to America this summer.

So last week I took the plunge and made the commitment. She will come to see me this summer and she has already agreed that if I like her, she will come and move into my place around this time next year.

Yes. I really did it. I bought a boat on the Internet. I put down a deposit on an RS Aero.

What did you think I was talking about?