An awesome summer of playing, training and racing

In mid April I quit sugar and grains for as long as I could – which made for a fantastic lead into my summer triathlon training. I started with nine workouts a week in late May – that’s three swims, three runs and three bike rides with one day off. Plus at least a few solid yoga practices each week and plenty of foam-rolling and tennis ball foot massages.

The result was my best season yet. The super-low glycemic diet kept my whole system nicely alkaline which meant a lot less inflammation and injury overall. I also tried taking some systemic enzymes that a fellow yoga teacherwas raving about. I have to admit, they seemed to make a big difference and I swear they helped me heal some really old injuries even with the bigger training load.

Jerome's first triathlon ever. He came in 3rd in his age class (out of three) and I came in 2nd (out of two). Small local triathlons are a great way to collect medals!

May: Downeast Family YMCA Dare to Tri

My first Tri of the season was the Downeast Family YMCA sprint race. I’ve never raced in a pool and I was curious how fast I swim when I don’t have to navigate. It turns out sharing a swim lane with my spouse is just as hazardous as a mass open water start. We almost bonked heads and flailed into each other several times. The bike ride is an out-and-back on a smooth, pretty and quiet Ellsworth road. I missed a turn and was almost taken out by a pothole but eventually I found my way back to the Y where I ditched my bike for an easy three-mile barefoot run. It was still early in the season and my footpads weren’t super heat-resistant so I was a little bummed to miss yet another turn that added on a few extra minutes of tender-footed hot pavement loping.  All in all it was fun local race but next year I’m gonna help them mark the course.

June: Pirate Tri

Next up was the Pirate Tri at Lake Sebago. Jerome joined me in this one too and we camped out with the girls the night before. Which sounds like a fun family adventure, until everyone (except Jerome) was wide awake at 4:00am listening to the lovely and loud summer solstice bird cacophony. My father and stepmother met us at the campsite a few minutes before the transition area closed so we had a last-minute panic throwing our gear over the transition area fence (nowhere near our numbered spots). I had a very smooth though not very fast race and I was the only bare foot runner on the course.

July: Norway Tri

Adding a silver cow-bell to the collection.

The third triathlon of the season is always a fun one for me because I’ve got enough training behind me to start feeling competitive. Jerome joined me on this one too but we left the girls with my cousin in Wilton so we all got a little more sleep. The Norway Tri is put on by the Western Foothills Land Trust and as a former land trust employee I especially like giving them my money. The swim is two-thirds of a mile and somehow my swim cap came off my head but stayed hooked to my goggle strap so it ended up acting like a sea anchor. This is the best explanation I have for my torturously slow swim (other than the fact that I don’t actually know how to swim). I made up for it with a killer ride and a smooth trail run.  I wisely grabbed my sockwas at the last minute as I headed out of transition on the run because they had re-routed the course onto cross-country trails and I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out there was some very pokey stuff that would have made barefooting super slow. I came in second in my age class, which was satisfying.

The kid's pre-race meeting

The rest of July was filled with dancing, yoga, a really fun barefoot running clinic, and some good early morning rides. I love the long summer days in Maine when I can fit in a 2-3hr bike ride before breakfast and still have the whole day to teach yoga or play with the girls. At the end of the month Jerome and I joined the ad-hoc local “race” that our friend Kim Parrot organizes that includes a kids race at the end. We had a great time in the rain and Lucy biked training-wheel free for her first time.

Seven swimmers braved Blue Hill Bay's seal-infested waters

August: Long Island Swim

The first weekend in August was time for our annual swim from Long Island to the Becton’s dock. This is a 2 ½ mile ocean swim and the weather just barely cooperated. It was foggy and really choppy but our faithful boat drivers and paddlers were awesome. Jerome and I swam close to each other the whole time and it took us over and hour and a half – not so speedy but we didn’t feel like we could go any faster against the waves. Jerome then headed off on a 38-mile bike ride to Cadillac Mountain and did a circuitous hike up the mountain with some other guys. I stayed home with the girls so I could take off the following weekend on my favorite event of the summer:

The Coast to Katahdin Challenge

This is my own burlier version of the Granite Mon race that a bunch of local guys have been doing for the last 18 years. This year I had minimal support and no fellow racers, so I took the opportunity to embellish the original race and make it my own.


I swam 3-miles from Long Island to Sculpin Point where I then almost capsized my brother’s boat by climbing on and paddling us back to the Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club. I have no doubt that I could have swum faster than we paddled but I forgot to put on Glide and the neck chafe was getting intense. Plus, there’s nothing like sharing (and sinking) a kid’s kayak with your twin brother and laughing hard enough to snort seawater at 8am through snooty-yacht infested waters.

After a quick shower at my mom’s I turned my bike north 120 miles to the hiker hostel in Millinocket. It took me seven hours but I barely noticed because I was completely absorbed listening to the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Teen lit is like crack for long-distance biking.

Jerome and my brother met me in Millinocket that night. (Thanks mom for taking the girls – their first ever sleep over was a huge success).  We woke up at 4:30 the next morning so we would have time to drop off my brother and all his Appalachian thru-hiking friends at their proper trailheads. Jerome made me an awesome green smoothie and we finally started our own hike up Katahdin at 8:30 that morning. We took the Helon Taylor trail over Pamola Peak and the Knife’s Edge to Baxter Peak and met my brother at the top (he’s was starting his AT Thru-Hike flip-flop back to Harper’s Ferry). I hiked the whole thing barefoot, which was pure delight. Katahdin has some fantastic geology that is appreciated even more when you have to really pay attention to the nuances of texture and composition beneath your feet.

This year’s Katahdin Challenge was a huge success and I learned some valuable things. I fueled myself with Tailwind for the first time, but apparently I was still under hydrated because the day after hiking I swelled up like a beached whale. I was also super-sore. More sore than I normally get. I had very little protein during the weekend and that might have hurt my recovery. Tailwind was the first refined carbohydrate I had had all summer and it was enough sugar to disrupt my system.

September: Lobsterman Tri

My final race was the Lobsterman Triathlon in Freeport. Jerome was signed up too so once again we brought the kids and camped out. Winslow Park is a fantastic family camping spot, every site is private and close to the water, the sunrises are gorgeous and it’s fun to campout so close to Portland which is home to the best food in Maine.

I have to make a side note here that camping with the girls hit a new high this summer. Georgia is a super-giggly goof ball four-year old and she kept us all entertained with her tent and sleeping bag silliness. Both the girls are very comfortable sleeping outside now and they love the simplicity and order of camping as much as I do. Yay. Now, back to race day . . .

My cousin’s daughter arrived to babysit (my cousin was racing with us) with plenty of time to prepare so we were relaxed and prepared heading into the race. Even after swimming for an hour, three days a week all summer, I’m still a slow swimmer. But I hit the bike full-on, racing 19.7 mph for the 25-mile course. I passed a bunch of those scary looking dorked-out bikers with the speedy helmets and loud tires. That felt really good. Even my run rocked at an 8:50 pace, which is about as I go barefoot. And I felt great at the end, too good really, but I was pleased with my age group finish – 6th place!

A few weekends later, in preparation for the Cadillac Challenge Century, I biked 56-miles to the Common Ground Fair where I met Jerome and the girls. We camped out and the next morning I ran “Maine’s only Organic 5k Foot Race” and after stuffing myself with all kinds of local organic yumminess, I biked the 56 miles home. Without sunglasses. Big mistake. I arrived home with a raging headache and sore eyes. That week my eyes got worse, watery and achy enough to keep me awake at night. I got some antibiotic cream, which mostly made it worse, and by the following weekend I was in a lot of pain. The Cadillac Challenge came and went without me, which was sad, but a little less so because it was pouring rain and cold on race day.

October: Barefoot Backpacking

My last excursion of the season was joining my twin brother on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. We planned to hike from Pinkham to Crawford Notch up and over the Presidential’s but upon reaching Mt. Madison the first night, we were promptly thrown off by 70mph winds. We descended a couple thousand feet to camp and returned to Pinkham the next day to wait out the storm. I’m happy to say that I had no problem hiking that section barefoot, even with a 20lb pack on. No folks, you do not need ankle braces in the form of stiff leather boots to venture forth into the world, even when backpacking. The next day I decided to head up Mt. Washington on my own. I ascended the Boott Spur trail and was happy to put my sneakers on for the last few miles of snow-covered alpine tundra up to the summit. I descended Tuckerman’s Ravine, which was stunning that day. I finished with a two mile run down the Sherman Ski trail and realized that if I’m planning on the Vermont 50 next fall I’ve got some trail running training to do.

Now it’s time for a long winter’s nap. And some x-c skiing. With boots.

Sign in the summit building on Mt.Washington

Breaking out my shoes for the first time this "summer".


20 degrees and blowing hard on top of Mt. Washington

2 Comments on “An awesome summer of playing, training and racing

  1. Thanks for such a fun filled read. Great to hear about adventures of body, mind, and spirit that include the whole family!

  2. Pingback: Great Cranberry Island Ultra 50k 2013 | Charlotte Clews

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