Drunk posting!

We just got back from a super cold, super fun craft beer festival! We never really had a “12 in ’16” adventure in January, so we’ll have to make up for that at some point, but I’d say today qualifies as our February/anniversary/Valentine’s Day adventure. 

I can only assume this temp and wind chill were accurate but (fortunately!) it was bright and sunny the whole time we were out.

 

This party, thrown by Beveridge Beer (and soap) Company took place on 19 Mile Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee in Tuftonboro, NH, where the ice is thick and the wind is… well… thick. Did I mention that it’s cold up here today?

So anyway… drunk posting. Yes, I am a total lightweight. I had toast for breakfast, ran four miles, had a tofu salad sandwich for lunch, and then had maybe a total of two pints of beer in an hour and a half. Maybe not even that much. But apparently that wasn’t enough food to support that amount of beer because I am about as buzzed as I’ve ever been. How do people get any more drunk than this? I’m pretty happy and pretty confused but I don’t ever want to be any more ‘in my cups’ than this. And no, I did NOT drive home. I like beer but I’m not stupid. 

parking area, not beer fest area. but this is the lake! those cars are parked on ice, not dirt or pavement! and dig the mountain in the background!

Anyway… a lot of our favorite northern New England breweries were there, including Baxter, Sebago, Moat Mountain, and Great North, as well as a couple new to us/new favorites: North Country Cider and Hobbs Brewing. North Country featured a cinnamon-habanero “Fire Starter” cider while my Hobbs pick of the day was the ginger Hefeweizen. Kevin is currently at the local grocery store to see if he can find anything from either of these breweries. 
   

damn shadows. there was really nothing I could do, though. and yes, the abominable snowelf shadow to the right is me. in many layers of clothing. many of which are purple.

 

So with the Belknap mountain range in the background and a cute display put together by a local distributor this was an event well worth the time, money, and brain-numbing wind chill. I wish I’d gotten more pictures but my phone shut down after this one… much like it did two miles into my run this morning. It really doesn’t like the cold.  

I scored a really sweet Baxter Brewing hat, too.  

 
Ok, so it cost $10, but I’m happy to support my homies. And their Pamola Pale Ale is our go-to camping beer. Not that we’d ever actually take beer to a campground in Maine or Massachusetts because that’s illegal. 

In case you’re wondering how Circulation Compromised Girl spent 90 minutes standing around in subzero (wind chill) temps, here’s what I wore (most of these garments were mentioned in previous posts so I won’t link them again. plus I’m writing this on my phone so links are kind of a pain in the butt): lightweight base layer top; mid weight base layer top; mid weight hooded fleece top; puffy coat: midweight base layer tights; (new! exciting!) snow pants; fleece socks; insulated hiking boots with TWO toe warmers each; Buff headband around my ears; thick, warm knit hat; Buff neck warmer/face mask; glove-mittens; hand warmers. I was surprisingly comfortable for most of the time. I never felt dangerously cold… and I was close enough to the car that I could have run for cover if need be. Any longer could have been a little trickier but I think I was appropriately dressed for the occasion. And I pretty much want to wear my snow pants all the time. So warm! So cozy!

Disclaimer:  as I mentioned earlier I’m writing this entry on my phone, so I have no idea/apologize for how it may look on any other device. I’ll edit if necessary and add links when I get home to my laptop. 

PS: no North Country Cider or Hobb’s beer at the local grocery store. =( We’ll keep looking, though… they’re both worth the effort!

If you can’t take the heat…

Some days you just know you shouldn’t be trying to experiment in the kitchen.

But you do it anyway. Because you have issues.

We’re having a snow day in greater Boston today so instead of working on my resume and applying for jobs I’m daydreaming and reading about hiking and backpacking and camping. I’ve been meaning for a while to work on some trailworthy hot chocolate and instant coffee mixes. Even though I knew I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind to be experimenting in the kitchen I headed in anyway. I figured I’d limit myself to hot cocoa mix… keep things low-key… minimize the risk of disaster.

Coffee fiends that we are, the boyfriend and I started off last year’s backpacking season carrying organic instant coffee (surprisingly drinkable! and I like the linked brand a lot better than Starbucks Via.), powdered soy milk, and turbinado sugar. This worked out OK, though the soy powder never really fully dissolves — it stays a touch gritty. After some trial and error we found that for whatever mysterious reasons this combination works better with cold water than with hot. If you have a water bottle that seals tightly you can shake the bejeezus out of it and it mixes as well as it’s ever going to. And it tastes better than when it’s made with hot water. Go figure.

When we ran out of powdered soy we switched to powdered coconut milk. BTW — if you’re dairy-free be very careful of powdered coconut milk — most brands contain casein to prevent clumping. Native Forest is the only vegan brand I have found. Powdered coconut milk is great because it has a pretty high fat — aka ENERGY — content, is just a little bit sweet, and, well, it tastes like coconut! I am a sucker for just about anything made of coconut. Being casein-free, the NF coconut powder is a bit lumpy and clumpy, so it really only works well in hot water. But it doesn’t stay gritty like the soy. So, pros and cons. I really prefer coconut to soy, though, for crazy conspiracy theory and flavor reasons.

So today I thought I’d make some hot cocoa mix with powdered coconut milk. What could possibly go wrong? I threw some in my Vitamix (aka Greased Lightning) along with cocoa powder, sugar, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon. I wanted a powder in which the ingredients were finely ground and fully incorporated so they’d dissolve well in water.

Fully aware of the fat (and moisture) content of the coconut powder, as well as the power of the Vitamix, I’m not sure why I expected to end up with a light, fluffy, powdery instant hot cocoa mix. Instead I got something that looked like it should be buried in a cathole. I mean a lovely, rich, thick hot chocolate paste/concentrate. Or a delightful toast topping (the boyfriend’s idea).IMG_2466 It turns out that when you put powdered coconut milk into a high-speed blender you get coconut butter. Valuable knowledge for the future but not what I was going for today. I’m not sharing a picture with you for what should be obvious reasons. But I am sharing a picture of the hot chocolate even though it looks like every cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever consumed. Don’t get me wrong — it’s really good hot chocolate. It’s just not going to be very convenient on the trail.

Next time I’ll try it with powdered soy. It shouldn’t turn to paste in the blender but should get ground finely enough to not be so gritty. Or maybe I’ll try the food processor instead of the blender. I’m also planning on trying a “cappuccino” mix — something we can just throw into some hot water instead of carrying coffee, sugar, and creamer as separate components. I’ll let you know how that all turns out.

 

Winter hiking is better than summer hiking.

I have officially declared this to be the case.

Today I went on my first real solo hike(!) on the edge of the Ossipee mountains in Moultonborough, NH. Well, OK, I do frequently hike solo here, near my parents’ place in Maine, but I know that trail system very well and it’s pretty low-key and very low-risk. I was supposed to run today — I am, after all, training for all those half marathons! But I really needed to get in the woods/up high.

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Antidepressant.

For today’s excursion I chose a 4-mile route that I have done before in an area I know moderately well, but it’s cold and there is a little snow on the ground, so there was potential for incidents and/or accidents. As you’ve probably figured out by now, though, I made it! And I decided that winter hiking is better than summer hiking. It’s not hot, it’s not humid, there are no bugs, the bears are all hibernating, there are no leaves on the trees blocking views you probably never knew were out there, and there are very few other people on the trails. The only downsides I identified, which are easy enough to handle, are A) rest stops and summit enjoyment time are limited because I get too cold if I stay still too long and B) (TMI alert) my nose runs almost constantly. Ew. But the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

As a follow-up to my “Running with Raynaud’s” post, here is my gear/clothing list for today. It was mostly cloudy and about 35 degrees with very little wind (until five minutes after I reached my destination, cutting my enjoyment time even shorter than I had planned). The trail was mostly covered with snow with conditions ranging from packed-down (slippery!) snow to ice to bare spots.

Clothing:  lightweight baselayer top and bottom; midweight tech shirt; dorky-yet-comfy-and-functional hiking pants; puffy coat; and, of course, socks and boots. Please don’t beat me up about the boots — there was less info available when I bought them and I thought they were leather-free. I’ve already beaten myself up enough. I usually hike in minimalist

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Shannon (Brook).

trail running shoes but I found (not surprisingly) that I really need more substance — and INSULATION — in the winter. These boots are lightweight and comfy (I generally HATE hiking boots) and WARM. Again with the whole health & safety over preferences/ethics thing. I also carried a midweight, hooded fleece but did not end up needing it.

 

Accessories:  buff; warm hat; flip-top mittens; hand warmers and toe warmers. I forgot to pack my shea butter for the weekend but I encountered very little wind.

So… this is only my third? fourth? real winter hike and this is pretty much the system I’ve stuck to. It’s not perfect. When I’m climbing steeper terrain I get sweaty pretty quickly. I can vent a bit by unzipping my puffy coat but taking it off leaves me too chilly. So, my baselayer top gets damp and when I’m not working as hard that can be a little uncomfortable.

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Winni and the Belknaps. My new band’s name?

I’m considering switching to my midweight baselayer top to see if that keeps me any warmer even when it’s damp. Head, hands, legs, and feet usually stay comfy and cozy. I usually lose the mittens at some point on the way up and may or may not need then on the way down. So sometimes I’m too warm, sometimes I’m a bit cool, but I’ve never been dangerously (Raynaud’s attack-inducing) cold. Except for when we climbed Kearsarge North a couple months ago and it was crazy cold and windy at the top but too stunningly beautiful to leave. I was OK once we started moving again.

 

Sometimes I feel like a dork when I day hike because I carry a Camelbak pack that probably has too much stuff in it — mostly extra layers because I figure I can’t be too safe. Plus I really, really, really prefer a hydration pack to water bottles. I can never comfortably reach around to a water bottle out of a pack’s side pocket, let alone get it back in without having to stop, remove my pack, get out the water bottle, drink, put back the water bottle, and reshoulder my pack. Ugh. I don’t care what all the UL geeks say. I’ll carry the extra few ounces of weight and take the risk of springing a leak over wrestling with side pockets/water bottles any day. My point, though, is that I really felt this today when I met a pair of probably 75-year-old men near the summit this afternoon. They were carrying gas station coffee cups. No packs. No gloves/mittens. Puffy coats! But no “gear.” In my defense I was a woman hiking solo and took a more technical trail than they did most of the way up. Plus, circulatory condition. I got over my dorkiness. And they were fun to talk to. They know the area well and have spent a lot of time on the trails.

So despite the runny nose and sweaty baselayer shirt, I pretty much had the time of my life today, even without the boyfriend (who is nursing a knee injury). I now have grand illusions (delusions?) of following winter wherever it goes every day for the rest of my life. And hiking in it.

 

Running with Raynaud’s

Remember when I was complaining about the rain and the record-breaking (high) temperatures a couple weeks ago? Well, winter has finally arrived and it’s making up for lost time. For the past few days we’ve had temps in the 20s and CRAZY wind, resulting in wind chills either side of 0. Here’s the thing:  I love cold weather. Here’s the other thing:  my body does not. I have asthmaRaynaud’s Disease, and very sensitive skin. I won’t whine or go into any gory details, but the fact is that all this makes being outside in this weather challenging. Cold, dry air is one of my (several) asthma triggers; my face is very susceptible to windburn; the circulation in my hands and feet can get compromised enough to be scary.

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Today is downright balmy compared to the past two!

Here’s how I handle the bitter cold so I can still play outside. For today’s 45-minute run I wore/used…

Clothing:  long-sleeve tech shirt; mid-weight tech pullover, mid-weight running pants, and, of course, shoes and socks.

Accessories:  Buff (to cover my neck and face/warm the air for breathing), a thick, warm hat, half Buff (under my hat, around my ears because I haven’t found a hat that truly protects them), flip-top convertible glove-mittens. Confession:  my Buff is made of merino wool. My glove-mittens are alpaca. Sometimes I wear wool socks. I realize this is not vegan but sometimes I have to compromise for the sake of health and safety.

Seemingly excessive but often necessary extras:  hand warmers and toe warmers.

Oh, and a healthy dose of pure shea butter on my face to protect it from the wind when I have to pull my buff off my face because I feel like I’m going to hyperventilate/suffocate. Note:  pure shea smells a little funky. Today I finally remembered to add a drop of essential oil to combat. Mmm… grapefruit

(notice I said I mixed some essential oil with my shea butter. this is key information.  please do not ever put undiluted essential oils on your skin! they are very potent and can burn skin… especially citrus oils.)

Oh, and I ALWAYS use my albuterol inhaler before running. This is the only pharmaceutical product I use on a regular basis. Again, health and safety sometimes trump ethical preferences.

I have learned over the past couple of years that keeping my core warm is very important in preventing Raynaud’s “attacks,” as is keeping my wrists warm — it’s all about keeping the blood that’s flowing to the extremities warm. Not only are attacks common in this single-digit weather, but in anything below about 60 degrees. When I worked in a grocery store I had to wear a cardigan and wrist warmers almost every day — even in the middle of summer. I wasn’t necessarily cold but my hands and feet often ended up being so.

Today’s experience? Fairly typical: within five minutes I’d pulled my Buff off my face; within ten minutes I’d put my hand warmers in my pocket and flipped back the tops of my mittens; within fifteen minutes I’d removed the mittens altogether. My head got pretty sweaty though my ears were still cold most of the time because this wind penetrates everything. The rest of my body was pretty comfortable. Fifteen or twenty minutes after the run my hands got very cold, but this happens in almost all weather conditions — even when it’s warm out. Breathing was a bit painful, but I knew that would be the case. And my face stayed soft and smooth and happy.

This is what works for me. Your methods/results may vary. The links included here lead to the products I like the best — I am not affiliated with any company, nor do I receive any kind of compensation from anyone.

Stay tuned for a similar entry involving hiking clothing. This is my first winter hiking  on a fairly regular basis so I’m still working on my system but I do already have a few items I know I love.

Back in Business…

… the half marathon business, that is.

I came to running a bit later than most — I was 41 when I started. 9 months (and a few days) after my first run I ran a half marathon. I ran that whole race at a ten-minute-mile pace and I didn’t stop to rest once. I could not have been more proud.

twin lights 2013

Thin, fit, owning the hot pink compression socks, and running fast (for me), May 2013. Photo credit:  the boyfriend’s dad.

Other than fair-weather hiking and kayaking I had never been “sporty” or “athletic” or even “fit.” But in the spring of 2013 I was all of those things. I was “in shape” for the first time in my life.

 

And then it all kind of went downhill from there. Summer came. It got hot and humid. I hate hot and humid. I didn’t train enough during those months even though I had another half in late September. I let myself transition from running entire races to doing running/walking intervals:  run for three to five minutes, walk for a minute to 90 seconds. Rinse. Repeat. I still intended to run that entire half marathon course, though, despite my lazy training.

And then I came down with a cold the day before the race. Come race morning I felt like HELL. But it was my birthday, I’d travelled all the way to Providence, and there was no way I was going to skip that race. So I did my little intervals, pounding Boiron ColdCalm every fifteen minutes, and I finished that race. I had every intention of getting back to training for real as soon as I was better.

And then Life happened. Some shitty things happened. I let those things get in my way and I let myself train lazily throughout 2014. I don’t exactly regret the way I handled my training and running that year, but I do wish I had tried a bit harder. I never really got back to fully running anything longer than a 5k. I gained 10 pounds. I lazily ran five(!) half marathons. I did run/walk intervals for all five of those half marathons.

Meanwhile my boyfriend and I had started experimenting with trail running. We found that we enjoyed it much more than road running and decide to shift our focus from road running and racing to trail running for 2015.

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Less thin, less fit, owning the hot pink compression sleeves, running a trail race, May 2015. Also, that guy I frequently run with. Photo credit: Gameface Media.

I’d grown tired of half marathons, and he (who was never really interested in them in the first place but had gotten into the game by then anyway) was in complete agreement. We spent 2015 running more trails, fewer road races, and, of course, doing a lot of hiking and camping. It was great.

And then it was late 2015 and we found ourselves talking with a friend about the coming year. Before we knew it we had all verbally committed to three half marathons in 2016. We’ve already registered for the first one (taking place in May). The second and third are in September and November. We’ve been running more seriously for the past two months and I can do four to five miles without walking, albeit not at my preferred ten-minute-mile pace… yet. But I feel confident that I will be able to do these races with very few (if any) walk breaks. I’m even toying with the idea of breaking the 13.1 mile barrier this year. No, I am not interested in running a marathon. But I might at some point this year be willing to run a little farther than ever before. And I mentioned earlier that I don’t make NY resolutions, but I do plan on getting back to some semblance of my 2013 self this year.

So. It seems as though we are back in the half marathon business.