Snow day

In the new year I’ve resolved to post updates more regularly, starting with a few interesting things from the past month or so. This adventure took place on November 30th, 2019.

I have been back in California almost three years now and I’m still not used to the level of geographic and climate variation on display. I can stand in my yard in a t-shirt and look up at the snow-covered peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains. The end of November saw heavy storms and snowfall, so Katy and I drove up the Angeles Crest Highway to see what we could find.

It did not take long to gain a few thousand feet of elevation and enter a whole different world.

Snow in the Angeles National Forest

We didn’t have a specific destination in mind, so we stopped at a couple pull-offs to marvel at the white stuff. There were plenty of other people doing the same, many quite ill equipped for the weather.

The obligatory selfie

We stumbled upon a neat hiking trail and followed it a short way, but sans map and wearing only jeans, we quickly decided to backtrack.

We had to dig deep in our closets to grab puffy jackets and warm caps, but we weren’t committed enough to get fully decked out for adventure. But perhaps next time!

We turned around and just spent some time driving and marveling at the lovely scenery. Some views were breathtaking. With all the scrub brush and smaller trees it is a very different experience than, say, Vermont or New Hampshire.

We stopped one last time to romp through one particularly nice patch of fresh deep snow. Were snowballs thrown? Of course they were.

An hour later, we were back in the relative warmth of Pasadena.


Traversing long distances, slowly

A few months after college graduation in 2005 I started contemplating running my first half marathon, but by 2007, I was content to simply complete a 5K. I finished the Couch to 5K program (sort of) but did not actually run a race.

In the intervening time I’ve occasionally fallen into and out of running, completing a few 5Ks and a few runnings of the Manchester Road Race, but never anything more ambitious.

Winter 2014-2015 was intense, with massive snowfalls, frequently impassable roads, and a lot of dreary days stuck indoors. By the time things warmed up in early March, I was stir crazy and ready to hit the road again. I pulled out my running shoes and took a few short runs, which felt really good. A few factors in particular were helping me to push harder and further than I had before:

  • The timing was right, with the days beginning to get longer and lighter
  • My new job had a shorter commute, meaning I could run in the mornings and still get into work on time
  • The weather was cool and mild
  • Our new pup was grown up and bursting with energy

Salty and I hit our stride in April, with 12 runs totaling 38 miles.  By the end of that month I was resolved: this would be the year — ten years after I first contemplated it — that I would run a half marathon. I signed up for an October race, and kept on running.

In May I took fewer runs but upped my distance, with the dog accompanying me on many of my outings.  I kept it up as the weather got warmer in June, starting a 12 week training program in July and peaking at 76 miles in August.  I bought some new running clothes and picked up a goofy “hydration belt”.  I got some expensive “minimalist” running shoes. I started trying out the gelatinous food pellets that runners gobble on long runs (yuck!).  I explored every nook and cranny of Hull, finding ways to fit 8, 9, and 10 mile runs into a narrow 2.8 square mile peninsula.

Along the way a few people offered invaluable support, tips, and encouragement, which helped me keep going.

I made a playlist.  I ran the race.  I beat my 11 minute/mile goal.  I got a medal.  I did it!

But I didn’t write a blog post.  Because I was worried that the story would end there.  Winter came around again, and as expected I barely ran at all in January and February.  In March I picked it back up, but it did not feel as good.  I couldn’t go very far, or very fast, and things hurt — my feet, my legs, my back.  It was hard to make the effort.

Luckily, I had anticipated this, and had wisely (or foolishly) signed up in December for another half marathon in June. Not only that, I had convinced friends and family to sign up as well.  So I was committed. And I kept running, even if I wasn’t feeling it.

The race is tomorrow, and I don’t think I will achieve a new personal record. But I expect I’ll finish.  And looking back through my run stats, I feel a lot better about my progress.  Compared to this time last year, I have run substantially more miles.  It’s June, not October, so I don’t have as many months of build-up, but I’ve done 11 and 12 mile distances successfully.  And the weather this year was much less enjoyable to run in, freezing cold and raining through much of March.  Even still, I made it through my 12 week training, and I’m feeling less achy, and I’m confident I can keep it up.

The story isn’t over after all.  I guess I had better sign up for my next half marathon– and start striving for a new personal record!


Moosilauke revisited

On Saturday Mat and I hiked Mount Moosilauke, one of New Hampshires “4000-footers.”  The weather was warm (40s), although the day was overcast and the summit was fogged in.  We got a late start after a wrong turn (kids, bring maps!), so we were a bit concerned about daylight.

A trail report from a few days earlier indicated that it would be smooth going, but apparently we mis-read it, because everyone else on the mountain that day had either skis, snowshoes, or both.  We had neither, and for the first 3+ miles almost ever step resulted in snow up to our knees.

We held out hope that as we gained elevation (and colder weather) the base would be harder-packed.  That was the case eventually, but the slow going coupled with our late start made us decide to turn back prior to the summit.  It was an adventure regardless, and on the way down we got in a lot of “sledding” on our behinds, which was a blast.

View photo slideshow


Remember that time I got engaged?

It was on a ski slope. I wanted to make it as ridiculous as possible, but also secluded, so there would be no onlookers to torment me. It was her birthday, December 21st, and we had taken the day off of work to go up to Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. The weather was iffy, and I wasn’t really sure when I should do it. It was early afternoon and things were looking dicey when the sky cleared and the moment presented itself. We were on the “Old Tecumseh” cutover trail, but Meghan has decided to misremember it as “Old Temucsuh”. When we later were in a souvenir shop that sold replica trail signs, she loudly asked for, “One Old Temucsuh, please!”

We went down a hard trail, and I was ahead. I stopped and she pulled up behind me. “Why are you taking off your skis?” She was about to get angry. I got down on one knee, which is always fun in ski boots, but I managed not to fall over. I had the ring in my jacket pocket in its little box, it had been there all day. I didn’t have much to say, really. Some people say I’m a man of few words. Others strongly disagree. Anyway, I asked her to marry me.

She said no and slapped me in the face, then skied off.

Nah, just kidding.

Some group was skiing by as I was getting up. A guy shouted something unintelligible in our general direction, and an excited Meghan said “we just got engaged!” and held up her ring hand. “Fine,” he replied, “but is she OK?” A girl in their party had fallen further up the slope. He wasn’t impressed by our engagement. The girl was fine. We took a picture and skied on down.

The ride back to Massachusetts was mostly filled with Meghan calling every family member she knew to fill them in. I called a few people in between her calls, but I’m not really a phone person. I figured word would get around. Meanwhile, Meghan’s cousin whom we were bringing down from college, while perhaps honored that he was the first to know about our engagement, was slightly less thrilled to have to sit through two hours of the same conversation repeated over and over.

We decided to stop for dinner in Davis Square before going home. We walked in the door of the restaurant and the second person we saw (after the hostess) was Meghan’s ex-boyfriend. He said hello. She said nothing, stared at him for a second, and then slowly held up her hand.

The bar fight was one for the ages.

Nah, kidding again. All three of us are still good friends. Heck, he’s even in the wedding party!

And that, children, is the story of how Meghan Reilly and Daniel Silverman got engaged.