Saturday, August 9, 2014

Thoughts and Rambles: A Thank You

There is an old Sufi story, maybe its told by al-Aqta or Attar, not sure which one (or someone completely different).  This Sufi Sheykh meets God.  God agrees to grant him a wish.  The Sheykh asks that he touch the lives of people he meets in a positive way without the Sheykh knowing.  God grants him this wish.  Then afterwards God likes it so much he grants that power to the whole planet.


This August is a series of anniversaries for me:

It is my 4th Anniversary of quitting smoking; and,
The blog celebrates it's 6th anniversary.

Perhaps greater to me is the 5th Anniversary of my personal rebirth.  August 2009, I returned from my trip solo across the Balkans.  I returned from that 4 month adventure a changed person.  And through that commitment to change, I did so further.  Each step has made me better person and made my life more full and complete.

But I didn't do this alone.  Many people helped along the way.  Maybe like the Sheykh, they don't know what they've done.

With the below, I want to share my journey and thank all of those who have touched me.


I traveled Greece, including getting my certificate to teach English.


Mycenae: Lea, Marilyn, Simone, Kelly and I at the Treasury of Atreus


Olympia: sprinting the track

TEFL Corinth: Kelly, Marilyn, Lea, Simone, me, Kelly, Jim
Afterwards, I went to Kefalonia to work with sea turtles and another great group who touched me in ways they might not have known.

Cannonball into the Ionian Sea.

Climbing Mt. Ainos: Ariel, me and Damo

Team Turtle: me, Cecilia, Ian, Florian, Lilly, Ariel, Mia, Damo, Ellly

Atop Baske Ostarije, 1000m climb over 12km - took em three hours

Bungee Jumping, Sibenick Bridge

Jesse Bear @ Krka National Park

Convenient Sign

Plitvicka Jezeera National Park

Saying goodbye to Schwarzfahrer, at some random bike shop in Zagreb
(got 600 kuna for the bike)
Dimitrovgrad, Serbia - where I got kicked off the train without a passport (and Jesse Bear was stolen)
Hiking Liechtenstein! a lifelong dream
Hiking the less exotic Catskills, 2009:
Andrew, Carl, Nellie, Jeremy, Tiffany, Seth and Jess


2010, was a bit of a tough year for me. I was going through some rebirth pains.  There are very few pictures from this year. Eventually, I came out on the other side.  While, I don't have any photos of them, Dave and Glenn were fantastic people I leaned on during this time and year.

Urvi and I handing off in the 26x1 relay

White House after my second marathon and a fantastic weekend with my Cousin

Climbing Champlain Mtn - Scott, Evan, Sarah, Sara

Kelsea and I after the 2011 MDI Relay

Mill Cities Relay - Kings of Beer: Aaron, Dan, me, Marc and Seth

New Years 2012, Polar plunge after the Hangover 10K:
I'm mid dive, Robert and Anthony are about to dive; Sara and Bradley 

Trampoline Dodgeball: Amy, Kate, Paul, Kimi, Ann, Seth, Sarah, Laurie, Dan, Paul, Ali, Sara, Marc, Korynn

After Providence Marathon: Ann, Jim, Sarah, Korynn, Seth, Dan and me

Iceland 2012: Seth, Andy, Brian, me, Sara, Korynn, Victor, Aharon and Liz

Aaron, me and Brian at Skaftafell, Southeast Iceland

At Skogarfoss: Merissa, Brian, me, Sara, Korynn, Victor, Seth, Sarah, Amie and Aharon

At the Start of the Reykjavik Marathon, 2012

At Thakgil, Iceland: Mariah, Brian, Harrison, Korynn, Sara, Weth, Aharon, me, Amie, Liz, Laurie and Victor

Urvi and I on Pete's Hill, Arbs during Hub on Wheels
Blizzard Run with Bradley

Ruthanne, Kate, Urvi and I, 2013 Boston Marathon right before we found out

Corey right before our doomed century ride

Pineland Farms Trail Series, 2013:
Brian, Jake, Karen, Sara, Aaron, Scot, Tim, anthony, Merisa, Brian, me, Diona
Carrie-Anne, Andy, HB, Mariah, Urvi and Erin

me, Urvi and Paul after the Pittsburgh (half) Marathon
Urvi and I at the Colosseum 

Urvi and I at Trevi Fountain

Hiking the Whites: Jess, Andrew, Andy, Emma and I

Lake Winni Relay: Dan, John, Marc, Tim, Steve, Aaron, Seth and I
Reach the Beach:
Scott, Jim, me, Steve, John, Matt, Megan, Jason, Korynn, Deb, Freddi and Emma

Deb getting her sock darned, Man City Marathon

Finishing the Man City Marathon

Meeting a member of the CIM board:
Urvi, me, Tim, Aaron, Kate, Brian, Laurie and Erin

Urvi and I in Sacramento after the California International Marathon

Long Jump - Pentathlon

On the 300K

Novare Res after the Beach to Beacon:
me, Urvi, Eva, Matt, Julie and Scott

One from the Vault:
That time our Christmas Card was graffiti, Boston, 1992
Of course, I can't forget my parents.

I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing and helping my journey, especially those who may not know they have the gift to be a positive influence...



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Portlandia: Beaches, Beacons, Beers and Bikes (8/1 - 8/3/14)

Somewhere between the music of Sibelius

and satirical sketch comedy

lies - Portland, Maine - PORTLANDIA

Numbers, Beer Camp and a Flying Tomato - 8/1/14
Ride:  North Station, Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Mujoy Hill, Thompsons Point
Distance: 22.2 miles

Urvi and I rode out of Cambridge and over the North Bank Bridge to catch the Downeaster up to Portland. We grabbed lunch on the train.  For me it was a steak sandwich and a Shipyard Export.

Casco Bay Bridge

Once in Portland we had to ride out to Cape Elizabeth to pick up our numbers and Tee-Shirts for the Beach to Beacon 10K.  The goal was to go over the Casco Bay Bridge into South Portland.  Approaching the bridge on the onramp was unnerving to say the least.  However once we actually were on the bridge, there was a wide shoulder and you felt perfectly safe.

Riding through South Portland and Cape Elizabeth was nothing special (except the tomato).  Just felt like the suburbs.  At Cape Elizabeth High School, we picked up numbers for us, Matt & Eva, and Scott & Julie.

Urvi and a Tomato
We had a lovely ride back to Portland, along the harbor road and the Eastern Promenade Trail to our airbnb in Munjoy Hill.  I had another snack of whatever I could eat and a tallboy Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA to prep for Sierra Nevada Beer Camp.

After getting settled and a shower, we headed back out on the bikes and back to the Amtrak station where the Thompson's Point venue was for Beer Camp.  As we rode in, there were signs for: Valet Bike Parking.  I started following these.  The Maine Bike Coalition had set up the valet parking and greeted us with cowbells blaring.

Beer Camp was a classic beer fest.  80 or so breweries (I probably only got to about 20).  Food trucks and brass band completed the hipster vibe to the event.  While I had tastings of quite a few good beers (and some bad ones including an IPA that tasted like feet), four stood out: Oxbow Grizacca - a well balanced saison, Black Hog Ginga Ninja - a ginger beer IPA,mmmm, 603 White Peaks White IPA - a great mashable of witte and IPA, and Peak Organic King Crimson - an imperial red ale.   Urvi and I topped off the night with Italian sausage and pizza before heading back to Munjoy Hill.

Brewing up Urvi

Beach to Beacon - 8/2/14

Race: Beach to Beacon 10K
Goal Time: 40:18
Actual Time: 40:36

After the tough 6th mile, there was one last steep uphill before the finish line as we entered Fort William Park and approached the beacon.  I took the hill and charged the inside steepest part (a little lesson from Contador, if you want to crush it take the steep part).  Then around the turn I was coming into the finish, but there was no finish line.  I looked at my watch: 5.87 miles...oops I still have a 600 yards to go...

The Year of the 10K continues.  I've done both the James Joyce Ramble and the BAA 10K; and, Lone Gull lurks on the near horizon. As one of the Big 20, Beach to Beacon was a race I had always wanted to do.  It's a world renown 10k with some of the top runners racing through suburban Portland.  Urvi and I rode our bikes to the finish line to catch the shuttle to the start line.  (The same guys with the same cowbells were there to valet park them for us!) It was convenient and well organized.  (apparently, if you drove and parked that was not the case). The shuttle drove us across town to the start line at Crescent Beach.  I caught up with Eva and Matt in the start corral.

On the start, Matt and I ran an easy first mile.  As we ran through the first water stop, I decided it was time to try to hammer it.  For the next two miles I hovered near 6:20 and my goal of near 40 minutes.

As a 8,000 person race, it was a blast to run with that many people and so many fans.  While the race continued it got a little harder. But the fans got deeper and the cowbells more numerous.  I had two more reasonably good miles with numbers 4 and 5.  Then came the sixth mile.

The sixth mile is by far the hardest in the race.  There are two longish hills.  I kept trying to tell myself to just turn myself inside out for only 8 more minutes... now 7.  But the second hill just left me running slowly.   Once I crested that I felt okay.  After a little down hill, you make the right into Fort William Park.  I was able to recover from my blast up the park entrance hill (maybe I could have done the same with the long hill?).  I was able to coast in and even put in a good finish into the park.

It was a good race for me personally and I thought a great event.  Unlike Falmouth - which I may never do a again - I'd love to make this a tradition.

On the ride back to Portland took us to the Bug Light in South Portland and back over the Casco Bay Bridge.  Between the race and dinner, I had a Green Flash Hop Head Red and Matt, Scott and I split a Schlitz High Gravity Very Smooth Lager (don't say beer; say Bull!)

Julie and Scott

The whole B2B crew

For dinner, the six of us headed to Novare Res, where I had Lobster Roll and Bahn Mi Sandwich.  Also had Slaapmutske Triple Nightcap, DeDolle Boskeun and my favorite beer from Maine - Oxbow FPA.


La Fleche de Casco - 8/3/14

Trip: Bike Ride
Distance: 28.92 miles
Sights: Casco Bay, Back Cove, Freeport, Brunswick

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRun

Sunday morning, Urvi and I planned to ride up to Brunswick to take the train back to Boston.  After a quick run for me and a attempted swim for Urvi (where she saw Meb running with a group), we headed out on the road to Brunswick.  Some of it was along the coast and through pretty

Casco Bay and Rail bridge

Casco Bay from Congress Street

Urvi on the bike path in Falmouth

Eartha: World's Largest Globe

We stopped at Eartha: the world's largest globe in Yarmouth; the Big Indian in South Freeport and tried to get lunch on the Freeport Town Pier but it was going to be an hour wait... an hour!

You know what this road needs?  A really large oversized Indian statue

Freeport Town Wharf

Urvi at the Wharf

We stopped for lunch at the Gritty's in Freeport Center where I had another lobster roll and Gritty's incorrectly named Maine's Best IPA.  We rolled into Brunswick with enough time to stop at Ebenezer's new brew pub. Ebenezer's own brewery - Lively Brewery were on tap. First I had the delicious tripel - Holy Candy; and then the flagship Saison LaCharite.  

Ebenezers's Brew Pub

Taps in blown glass
We then caught the train back to Boston.  Aboard I hand a lunch of an Italian sub and finished the Maine beer tour with Baxter Stowaway IPA.

En Route from North Station to home:
Zachim and North Bank Bridge from the Charles River Dam locks