Thursday, September 4, 2014

August Part 2: Maine

Our annual Maine vacation was going to start a bit differently this year.  Our close friends that live near Portland were doing a road race the same night we were heading up.  Perfect!  I preregistered for the Saint Peters 4 Miler a few days before.  I wasn't sure what to expect after watching a video of the course - seemed pretty hilly.  I would try my best and have a fun night with family and friends, so there was no real pressure.  My plan was to taper a bit before the race, but that didn't really happen with 44 miles going into the Friday race (even with a day off!).  After the long drive up to Portland with a big lunch stop in Newburyport Mass, the pre-race nerves were coming on strong.  I couldn't wait to get to the race and headed out early with my friend Brett and brother-in-law Chris.  Once I picked up my bib I began sizing up the competition.  I saw fast looking young guys and some other very fit looking dudes.  I hoped to jump into a warm up with someone, but ended up heading out solo.  I asked a race official if the course was marked, but it wasn't - there would be marshalls out on the roads (open).  Okay, so I just ran the first mile plus of the course and backtracked so I didn't get lost.  Wow it was hilly.  The race began with a downhill but then climbed (steeply at times - 10% grade in spots according to Strava) along the Promenade.  Awesome views of the harbor and its many islands.  I was glad to take them in on the warm up since I never notice anything during a race.  I returned to the starting area with a few more minutes to kill.  I saw a guy doing strides on a side street and decided to do the same.  I may have been the last guy to hop onto the starting line.  I was surrounded by people in team jerseys with the usual bold jibber jabber.  At the gun I tried to stay under control, which is hard to do when it's downhill, and I was instantly behind about 25 people.  I tried to tell myself just wait until the first hill (the Promenade I had just scouted).  Just as I suspected, I began passing many people as the grade rose.  As it got steeper and longer, things strung out, and I was solidly in 5th place.  I was focused on the guys in front of me and not worried about anyone catching me for some reason.  I could see the guy I saw doing strides out in front with three young international runners chasing.  Based on previous years' results, this seemed right.  I was only a few seconds behind 4th, but I didn't have any delusions of passing at this point.  The road flattened out and I found a good groove.  Finally, we reached a sharp left turn on North Street.  This was a long gradual climb.  4th place began looking back repeatedly.  This was my chance.  I continued a steady pace up the hill and then got right on his heals.  He asked me how far into the race we were (about 2 miles) and we engaged in some light chitchatting until we crested the hill and he dropped me on the descent.  I made the mistake of looking at my watch and got annoyed at how slow it said my pace was here (probably poor GPS reception).  I began descending well.  Not fast enough to gain on the guy ahead of me, but I could tell it was fast for me.  We turned back onto the Promenade heading in the opposite direction, passing the 3 mile mark.  Almost done!  I really let my legs fly on the steep downhill and after a half mile my mile 4 pace was 5:17.  After a confusing left then right turn (with a good crowd), my heart sank as there was a straight big climb facing me.  4th place was too far ahead to think that I could again catch on the hill.  My legs were tired.  I glanced back and saw no one.  This was not my best hill effort.  I then turned right.  I knew there was another right turn for the finish, but I wasn't sure how far left.  My watch was showing that I was almost at four miles, but who knows how accurate that is.  I then recognized the road I would be finishing on.  I picked up my pace.  The finish line was down the road a ways, and I absolutely flew to it (Strava had my last .1 miles at 3:32 pace!).  I crossed the line in 22:39.  I was super pleased with that on a course like this.  The other top finishers were very friendly.  Sooner than I expected though Brett, Chris, and then Megan finished their races.  Everyone exceeded expectations.  After chatting it up, I again looked for someone to cool down with, but ended up going solo again.  I ran the Promenade one more time as darkness was falling.  I won my age division (35-39) and so Brett, Chris, and I hung around for quite some time for me to pick up my prize.  Fun night! 

Results.  Not bad for an old guy. 

Post race chromium replacing.  Black IPA with Oysters (8.0%). 


The next morning I headed out from our friends' house for an hour run.  I ran two miles of roads to a local trail I had run last winter - the Stroudwater Trail.  This is super fun single track that follows along a river - through woods and powerline fields.  I turned around after 30 minutes and headed back.  This ended up being a rather peppy run - maybe because I felt rushed for time?  The road miles were all in the 6's.  Later that morning we all headed "downeast" to our lake house vacation rental on Toddy Pond.  We detoured to Five Islands for lunch.  It did not disappoint! 
Lunch at Five Islands Lobster Co.
The house was incredible and exceeded expectations.  The swimming from the long dock was fabulous and we had access to kayaks and a canoe.  It had a huge kitchen and dining area to accommodate the 13 of us (8 adults, 5 kids).  There was a ping pong table in a separate garage, and mtn bikes we could use on the local dirt roads.  I ran three times from the house.  There was an awesome dirt road section in a blueberry barren that had great views.  I made it a point to run there each time.  I enjoyed cruising around the dirt roads, but since I was spending so much time outside being active, I didn't have the need to run like I normally do. 
My favorite running spot
Despite not really needing to ever leave the lake, I still managed 5 hikes - 3 with everybody, 1 with my wife and son on his birthday, and 1 with just my son.  It was awesome.  The first full day we hiked the nearby Blue Hill, and were surprised by a newer network of trails available (not in my guide books).  We made a fun loop. 
Climbing Blue Hill
The next day we drove to Acadia National Park and hiked Beech Mountain.  Since the other boys were out golfing for the day, I got to hike with my 30lb nephew in a backpack.  This was incredibly hard!  The way up was steep and the way down was long.  Great loop hike though, and a fantastic dinner in Bar Harbor followed. 

On Tuesday, it was my son's 9th birthday.  He found a hike in a book that he wanted to do on this day.  It was a "peakbagger's delight" - 4 summits in Acadia National Park, relatively close together.  I think we (me, my son, and my wife) were all nervous at the start.  The first climb (up Bald Peak) was longer and steeper than we thought, but awesome.  From the summit we could see the three other summits we were hiking to: Parkman Mtn, Gilmore Peak, and then Sargent Mountain.  My son wasn't sure about his ability to finish while we were on Gilmore and Sargent, but persevered.  The way down Maple Spring Trail was really nice, especially cooling off in the stream as we went along.  All in all, we were out on the trails for almost 5 hours!  What a great day. 

The next day was my daughter's 7th birthday and she made it clear she did not want to hike, just spend the day at the lake.  That's what we did and it was fun and exhausting.  I did a ton of kayaking.  I also got in one adventure run on my way to the grocery store.  A few miles away off of Rte 3, there is a new trail system called the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands.  I did an hour run and it was fantastic.  I had trouble relaxing during it, since the place felt so wild and beary.  I only ran a small portion of the trails, a mix of single track, old logging roads, and wide gravel/dirt roads.  This was the hottest day of the week and I was a sweaty mess most of the time, especially on a very long and steep hill climb.  I didn't see any bears - just lots of evidence.  I wish I wasn't alone and had more time. 

Thursday we were able to do one last hike as a big group in Acadia.  We parked at the Jordan Pond House and hiked to the Triad and back.  It wasn't a super exciting hike, but it was good for the kids, and another obscure peak to bag.  The reward was a delicious late lunch (lobster stew and popovers) at the Pond House.  Lobsters at the house later at night too. 

Friday was our last full day on Toddy Pond.  My son wanted to hike in Acadia again, but no one else really cared to except me.  So the two of us headed out early for a hike he picked out on Dorr Mountain.  It was a very impressively engineered switchback trail up the steep east face.  My son did awesome, and we made quick work of the ascent.  After a windy early lunch at the summit, we descended via the north face which was an easy, quiet, and scenic trail.  Another great pick! 

Dorr Mtn east face - looking out to Champlain Mtn

The summit - our 7th in Acadia this trip! 
The last day began with running, swimming, and packing.  We stopped again in Portland for a break, before returning to RI.  What a great trip!  I already can't wait until next year. 
August Part 3: a week of workouts and stats coming soon.  


  1. Sounds like an awesome vacation. Great pics and well done in the race!

  2. Great vacation! For sure some great memories for the kids!!

  3. Great looking place, Jonny! Looks like you guys had a blast!!!

  4. Sounds like a great week you had in Acadia. Reminds me that I'd love to get back there (went a few years ago and camped in Southwest Harbor, and hiked Dorr Mt and Precipice Trail).