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The 6-Year Old Artist

I remember way back when, in the beginning stages of the adoption, Mr. P and I were in the mandatory interviews with the social worker. She asked us to imagine what would happen if the adoptive child had very different talents and interests than us, or didn’t “achieve” to our expectations. Of course this is something that every parent needs to consider of their offspring — and dare I say that it might be more disappointing if our biological child failed to “achieve” — but we answered that we’d be okay with it, we had lots of interests (camping, swimming) that every kid loves, and then I quipped something along the lines of “And if the child turns out to be an artist instead of a writer or engineer, I think we’d be okay with that.”

Of course, Little Boy turned out to be an artist — certainly not a writer, perhaps with engineer tendencies, but solidly a kid who can sit down in front of a piece of paper and draw and is very interested and critical of art and drawings we look at. When we were on vacation in Colorado, we spent many hours drawing Pokemon. One of my favorites is his Jigglypuff:

Jigglypuff Pokemon by Little Boy

So when he saw this old book of Mr. P’s about Diego Rivera (husband of Frida), he demanded it be his bedtime story for three nights running and also tried to emulate several of Rivera’s masterpieces.

I came across this one when I was decluttering the living room:

Rivera, interpreted by a 6-year old boy

Ah, this Little Boy. The joys just keep coming!

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Training Log: Week Ending 8/22/14

Total: 41 miles. Slight taper in preparation for next week’s race (9 miles) in Vermont!

Saturday August 16: 6 miles run to gym, circuit training, 4 miles run home. It’s been a few years since I’ve used a Smith machine. I understand, in the “functional fitness” circles, it’s out of vogue because free weights activate more muscle fibers, stress joints less, and just generally make you look like a badass. But it’s been awhile since I’ve squatted and deadlifted heavy weight/low reps, so I felt safer with the dowdy Smith machine.

Sunday August 17: 10 miles road run, 1000 feet elevation gain. Surprisingly the sorest part of my body after yesterday’s weight workout were my pecs/triceps. It was a cool but humid morning and the smell of bacon wafted out of more than a few houses. Hamstrings were fatigued on the last hill but overall I killed it on the hills.

Monday August 18: 60 minutes swimming. Pecs and triceps still sore and, 5 minutes into the swim, I worried I’d have to retreat to the sauna. But everything loosened up and I swam 30 minutes without stopping, then broke up the remaining time with some kicking drills and freestyle laps.

Tuesday August 19: 2.5 miles to gym, circuit training, 3.5 miles run home. This summer’s weather has been blissfully mild, crisp insanity. I will stay in New England forever if it stays like this!

Wednesday August 20: 3.5 miles to gym, foam rolling and light weights, 3.5 miles home. Ditto.

Thursday August 21: 6 miles slooowww running. I stopped at the gym again… more for the bathroom than for the weights and foam roller, although I availed myself of those, too.

Friday August 22: 6 miles, hills. Can the weather please stop being this good so I can take a freaking rest day? I finally found a jump rope at the gym!– about a half-foot too long, which precluded one-legged jumps, but I laid out some solid blocks of ‘rope.

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Training Log: Week ending 8/15/14

I’m restarting the Training Log, in an effort get this blog consistent. I hate to be that runner who is narcissistic, preening, exhibitionist-prone, and self-centered… you know, the way that I’m always outside, running instead of entrenched in my home, watching television and surfing the Internet like a proper human. But it’s something I can write about without having to search for a topic. Because I’m always training.

I have three races on my calendar for the fall, the big “A” race being a 50-miler in early December. Finishing that 50-miler — The North Face San Francisco, on many of the same trails of the Miwok 100K — will qualify me to enter the lottery of the most prestigious and difficult ultra in the world, the UTMB in France – which is in proximity to our Alpine condo — for next August 2015. Essentially, I am already in training for the UTMB. Because it’s a dooooozy.

But not this week. This summer’s weather being simply wonderful, I have been running more than expected. In much of July and August, I had 60 mile weeks, on trail and road, loving the early sunrise coupled with pink-tinged sunrises during 10-miler weekday runs. This week I took it easy.

Saturday August 9: 6 miles, flat and easy, early morn. I know we would be headed up North to bag a few 4K-footers.

Sunday August 10: Finished the Mt. Whiteface and Mt. Passaconway loop. About 11-12 miles total, with (wild guess) 4K elevation gain. I was a bit deprived on nutrition overall and babying my knee on the downhills.

Monday August 11: 6 miles easy. Quads a bit sore from the hike.

Tuesday August 12: 7 miles, some hill sprints and pushing the speed.

Wednesday August 13: 60 minutes swimming. Lots of triathlon men in the pool, huffing and puffing after a lap. I kick water in their faces on the flip-turns!

Thursday August 14: 6 miles running to and from gym, circuit workout. My shameful secret of the summer: I have not been keeping up with my core and lower-body work at the gym. I know this only invite injury and doom, so I’ve vowed to resume the kettlebells thrusts, the squats, the deadlifts, the wall sits, weighted planks, etc etc etc. Surprisingly, going through the circuit my legs felt great — increased blood flow, perhaps — and I jogged home from the gym on a beautiful cool morning, feeling great.

Friday August 15: 60 minutes swimming. After yesterday’s weights, my glutes were tight and my hamstrings were downright sore, so I headed to the pool. Unfortunately my shoulders were also sore — probably the kettlebell work — so I was definitely moving at a leisurely pace.

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Mts. Whiteface and Passaconway

Just past halfway up Mt. Whiteface, when Little Boy was sweaty and bonking badly and no reasonable amount of jelly beans could revive his flagging spirits, we caught a view of the stoney facade of Mt. Whiteface and I revealed to him the name of the mountain.

Whiteface?” he repeated, laughing for the first time in many hours.

It was hard. It was brutal. And then we reached the really technical, steep parts… and it was a breeze. Little Boy was all smiles!

Summiting Whiteface

Little Boy particularly enjoyed the truly dangerous parts… (meanwhile Mommy fell behind, immobilized by her fear of the void).

Big Rocks going up to Whiteface

I remember the first time Mr. P and I climbed Whiteface, over 5 years ago. I swore “never again!” But alas, I forgot that promise. After a little complaining (me) and great enthusiasm (Little Boy and Mr. P), we reached the difficult summit of Mt. Whiteface.

Summit of Whiteface

What a relief when it was over. We had about 2.5 miles of relatively easy trail along the ridge to go until we reached our objective: Camp Rich campground! (Did I mention we were backpacking and I had about 20 pounds of gear and food on my poor aching back?)

Backpacking paradise

Mr. P compensated for my lack of enthusiasm (ie, exhaustion). Little Boy called it “the best camping ever” and cited the presence of a radio (my idea… we tuned into a retro 80s station to groove on the likes of Billy Idol and Janet Jackson) as well as instant camping cuisine (pasta with meat sauce). We were all happy.


We slept… kinda. It’s amazing how hard ground really kills old bones. We woke around 7am, fixed a small breakfast and lots of coffee, and then ascended the .5 mile trail to Mt. Passaconway (Little Boy’s 4th 4000-footer).

The lovely trail to Mt. Passaconway

Wooded Summit of Passaconway

With Little Boy’s 4th 4000-footer in the bag, we descended back to the campground and grabbed our backpacks. It was 9:30 and we were all eager to get back to the car. It was all downhill, but it still took a fair amount of coaxing to beseech Little Boy to keep moving. One moment he’d be running downhill with the speed of a deer… the next moment, stationary as a sloth, staring at a stick. We reaching the car at 11:30, jubilant to go get cheeseburgers!

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Colorado, Part 4

I need to finish posting our photos from Colorado — it’s been nearly three weeks since we’ve been back and my memory is fading fast. Like, here’s a picture of a lake that we hiked to on our Big Hike #3:

Oh yeah! It was called Lily Pad lake! There were two of them… the relatively lily pad-less one above, and a smaller one nearby:

Next thing you know, we end up taking a gondola to the top of a mountain in Breckinridge in order to tour a big, expensive summer fun park!

It was the last bit of fun Mr. P would be having in awhile, as the following day was his first 50-mile race ever, the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Run. What a doozy of a debut. The race started at 10,200 feet altitude and climbed considerably through the fabled trails of Leadville. We were staying about 60 minutes from the starting line and the race started at 6am, so rather than wake up at 4am to go with Mr. P in his rental car and then essentially be stuck at the starting line (since I was not a “second driver” on his rental), I rented a second car so Little Boy and I could sleep late and drive to the aid stations to cheer Mr. P on to victory! (By victory, I mean completion… which is all he hoped for).

Aid station around mile 30

Little Boy and I arrived at the aid station around mile 38 way too early — almost 90 minutes ahead of Mr. P’s optimistic “best guess.” Honestly, it was easier to find than I imagined. We sat along the trail with other runners’ crew under this sign:

Welcome to Leadville

The bugs were feasting on me. It was hard to keep Little Boy amused, although he might have been just relieved that we weren’t hiking. Finally Mr. P appeared!

He complained about his knee hurting but said he otherwise felt okay. Little Boy was excited to see him and insisted on taking pictures.

12 miles to go

After wishing him well, Little Boy and I drove to the finish line, where we cheered on the runners and played Uno, fully aware it would take Mr. P several more hours to finish. Finally, he came into view. I had urged Little Boy to run in with him to the finish, but he got suddenly shy.

And that, essentially, was the end of the vacation. The next day (Monday), we drove back to Denver and returned to Boston (traveling home went much better than our trip to Denver). It was a low-key vacation, consistently pleasurable and overall relaxing. (The relaxation and acclimation to altitude lasted about a week. I was sprinting up hills at record speeds and feeling like Superwoman! Then, vacation euphoria as well as my red blood cell count returned to normal.)

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Colorado, Part 3 and a half

We developed the film in the disposable waterproof camera that we bought for our whitewater rafting trip in Colorado. (And then we slipped on our LA Gear sneakers, danced around to NSYNC and got Rachel haircuts… because developing photographic film is so DEMORALIZING that I must attempt to MAKE WIT).

Arkansas River

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Colorado, Part 3

July 8: Wheeler Lakes Hike

The 6-mile hike to Wheeler Lakes was a steady climb through the woods of pine and aspen. The sun was hot and Little Boy was decidedly not motivated to take this hike. I kept talking up how we were going to see a meadow! and lakes! And eat sandwiches! But these enticements don’t work on anyone under 25.

The Second Wheeler Lake

We scoured the shoreline of the lakes a bit, looking for a spot to sit down, but there was no clear shore — only buggy, muddy grass that dropped off into buggy, mushy water. So we walked up a bit to sit on a nice cropping of rock to eat lunch. Mr. P planned to go on short run further down the trail, so Little Boy and I sat there, snacking and playing with ants.

Little Boy poses with Uneva Pass

Overall a very pretty hike!

July 10: Rafting!

On Thursday we went whitewater rafting. We drove about an hour from Breckinridge to the town of Buena Vista, which is a rafting mecca. We had some time to kill beforehand, so we walked the town’s lovely river trails.

The Arkansas River

We saw other rafters going down the river. I was glad Little Boy had this preview because up until that day I don’t think he knew the concept of rafting.

Strangers on a Raft

We choose our rafting company randomly, though we were forced into the mildest introductory rafting experience because of age restrictions on the more thrilling rides. Although we did buy a waterproof disposable camera, we’re still waiting on the development of the film — maybe I’ll post those pictures later, because I’m sure they’re awesome! Little Boy in a wetsuit and lifejacket! Mommy getting repeatedly doused in hypothermic waves (I seemed to be sitting in the worse spot of the raft)! Daddy pulling something in his hamstring! Little Boy had a blast. At the end, the raft’s captain invited us to swim to the short so all three of us jumped out of the raft and floated down to the shore, freezing and smiling.

Later, we stopped so Mr. P could pose with Mt. Quandary, a 14-thousand footer that he conquered by himself the previous morning while Little Boy and I frolicked at the aquatic center.

Mr. P with Mt Quandary

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Colorado, Part 2

July 6: Mohawk Lakes, Breckenridge, Co

The hike to the Mohawk Lakes is the hike to do in Breckenridge, so we set out early Sunday morning to do our 6.8 mile, strenuous duty!

Close to Mohawk Lakes

Honestly, it was not that hard for Little Boy. The terrain was technical and varied enough to stoke his interest and stamina. The wild flowers were amazing! It helped that it was a very popular hike, so he probably did not have that foreboding feeling of being dragged into the woods by his crazy parents.


Mr. P can't resist a slide

When we reached the lower Mohawk Lake, we could sense Little Boy needed a rest and a snack, so I stayed with him on the lake’s shore while Mr. P continued to the upper lake.

Lower Mohawk Lake

Then, Mr. P returned, and I took my turn up the steep trail to the upper lake. It was worth the effort!

Near Upper Mohawk Lake

As I was venturing to the upper lake, Mr. P proceeded down the trail with Little Boy. I expected to catch up to them rather quickly; the trail was not rugged enough that I couldn’t jog, and I am, after all, an ultra runner… though no match for Little Boy on the descents, apparently! On the 3 1/2 mile descent, I didn’t catch up to them until about one mile from the car — and they had only a 20 minute head start. Little Boy is certainly a descender!

This was by far the best hike we did the whole trip. Amazing scenery plus a well-motivated Little Boy.

July 7: Mining Ruins

After the big hike the previous day, we played it cool with a small, 2 mile-ish tour of some gold mining ruins.

Everyone smile and say "dredge mining"

Sensing Little Boy’s tolerance for forest tramping was waning, in the afternoon Mr. P took him to the local aquatic center for some water slide action while I ran on the Colorado Trail. (The best part about where we were staying was how we were literally steps away from the Colorado Trail! I tried not to be too mad at Boston for not boasting such amenities).

Running the Colorado Trail

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Colorado, Part 1

Did you know that New England has mountains? Really, we do! The trails are often covered in so many rocks and roots that even skilled trail runners quiver at the thought of having both feet off the ground for a split second. The views (when the trees permit) are impressive if one’s typical views are from the fourth floor of a office building in a suburban corporate park. Mr. P and I have hiked scores of New England mountains, including all 48 New Hampshire 4000 Footers. And they’re quaint, but we had a hankering to see some real mountains this summer. The Rocky Mountains!

July 4th: Boston to Denver, Vail

Hurry up and wait! We left for the airport early on the Fourth of July, but due to an early-season hurricane an incoming flight from New York was delayed, which in turn delayed our flight to Denver two hours. Of course I’d rather have the hours of my life back, but Jet Blue somewhat atoned for it with free in-flight movies and free alcoholic drinks. Which frankly, I needed.

Eventually we arrived in Denver, and at the Hertz for our car rental. Hertz… hurts! Incredibly, there were no cars available. Dozens of people — angry, occasionally cursing — people stranded at Hertz, waiting for cars. We waited 90 minutes and I witnessed an utter breakdown of customer service, both on behalf of the customers and the service. A renegade customer galvanized us and organized this picture so he could spread it on social media:

See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.

I think that this rebellion spurred Hertz to start giving out the premium cars, as we ended up in a speedy Fiat when we booked an economy car. Again, I’d rather have the hours of my life back, but the Fiat was pretty nice!

We hurried to Vail, Colorado, where we would be spending one night. Bummer that we were arriving four hours late, tired and frustrated. We checked into our ritzy hotel and promptly hit the town in search of dinner. “How’s your Fourth of July going?” asked the waiter at the Italian restaurant. Silence. “It can only get better,” I said. And it did.

Vail was impressive, although as we ate and watched the white, rich, cookie-cutter denizens of Vail stroll the streets, I whispered to Mr. P, “Everyone in this town looks like an asshole.” Half-joking.

July 5th: Vail Hill Climb, Biking around Lake Dillon

Mr. P signed me up for the Vail Hill Climb months ago. I kinda forgot about it until a week before we left, then I grilled him for the details — 7 miles, starting at 8200 feet above sea level, a 2400 foot climb up a fire road that traverses a fire road. Brilliant idea, my dear husband! I lined up Saturday morning amid the fittest crowd I have ever raced against in a non-ultra race. These Coloradans are buff!

I'm the Naive Flatlander, Waving

Man oh man, it was a hard race. My muscles were choking from lack of oxygen. My heart felt implosive. Around mile 5, I began cursing my dear Mr. P.

Nearing the Finish Line

I finished smack in the mid-pack, which was fine by me. I consider myself a strong hill climber but I could simply not breath. Still, a very well-organized and simply amazing race in the Rockies!

At the summit

Little Boy was in bliss to be on vacation.

Vail Fun

Though it was already an eventful day, we had some hours to kill before we picked up the keys to condo, which we would be staying in for a week. So we stopped in Frisco for a prolonged lunch at an overwhelmed locally-sourced restaurant. Then, we rented bikes and took a ride on the trail around Lake Dillon. Mr. P rode with Little Boy on a trailer-cycle while I trudged on my own at my preferred snail pace. I run faster than I will ever ride — this is why I do not attempt triathlons!

Climbing... again

Only one night, two days in Colorado and we were feeling like natives! To be continued…

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Lincoln Splash and Dash

The day before Little Boy’s 6th birthday, he participated in a local Kid’s Triathlon event. (Funny how adults can’t wait to age into the next age group, but in his case it’s the reverse… we were glad he was able to get a big “5″ marker-ed on the back of his calf so he wouldn’t be competing against kids six or even nine months older then him. And I’m not even two sentences into this blog post and I’m already sounding like Crazy Mom Who Directs All of Her Competitive Energy Into Her Kid. Which is not all true… in fact, I was so busy training that I didn’t even go to the event. Even worse!)

Triathlons have always been Mr. P’s thing, anyway. Luckily kids under seven did not have to do the bike portion, which is fortunate since Little Boy has newfound ambivalence over biking. He wants so badly to take the training wheels off, but he has fallen a few times and it was scary and we really need to get him a better bike anyway. So it was just Splash and Dash for him, which was fine.

Getting his gear ready in the transitional area

Getting ready to hit the pool -- note professional ankle chip

We were unsure how he would do in the swimming portion, as we haven’t been keeping up with his swimming lessons (that what summer camp is for), so his freestyle stroke is still a bit sloppy. But according to Mr. P, he made it across the pool so fast that he was the first one out of the pool!

Splashing! (with own personal lifeguard)

We knew he’d be okay with the running. He sprinted the loop and finished first in his heat!


First in his heat, and fifth in his division (with a time of 2 minutes and 53 seconds). So proud to get a medal! And so happy to consume post-race gummy candy.

“Can we do it again tomorrow?”


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