As we’ve traveled across the United States on our quest we have been delighted with the opportunity to see a multitude of varied landscapes. But we have also enjoyed being unofficial ambassadors for our state of Maine.
Yesterday I checked out of my daily routine and soaked up a beautiful Maine summer day.
An early morning run in our neck of the woods started the day off perfectly.
Arriving at my favorite local beach early ensured plenty of quiet seaside space.
The clouds and waves seemed particularly mesmerizing.
Although typically “going to the beach” is virtually code for “sitting in the sun reading”, this visit I spent more time watching the waves swell and crest and the clouds drifting in ever-changing patterns.
The Maine ocean water is almost always numbingly cold even in the middle of summer but a brief dip into the surf provided instant refreshment from the day’s heat.
When this little guy ventured close I took some time to assess him more closely and found his knobby knees somewhat hysterical. His feet made me think he had snapped on tight little flippers at the ends of his tiny stick legs.
Taking time to soak up nature was the perfect way to spend a morning.
If you haven’t been to Maine I wholeheartedly recommend a trip. And if you live here, I urge you to be sure to savor our spectacular home.
After we decided we wouldn’t try to sign up for the Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race this year, we realized we could still be a part of this incredible event by volunteering. We have been involved in developing and organizing several small, local road races but we had never volunteered for a race of this magnitude.
We signed up to help at the mile 5 water stop. Having run this race, we remembered how crucial this water stop is. As the weeks went by, we became more excited about our volunteering adventure. We received emails asking us for our shirt sizes, providing us with general information, and keeping us updated about our duties.
When our invitations to the Volunteer Appreciation Party arrived we were completely surprised.Who knew volunteers got a party?
It was a beautiful, balmy night when we arrived at the stunning ocean-front location for the party. As we walked up to the tent we marveled at how impressively the Beach to Beacon organizers were treating its volunteers.
We were served drinks and then strolled to the beach to enjoy the view while great live music wafted from the tent.
We returned to the tent to mingle before dinner. The first person we spoke to told us that the mile 5 water stop is the best one. How exciting! Everyone that we chatted with was incredibly welcoming and cordial. We later commented that we shouldn’t have been surprised about that because we were dealing with runners and volunteers-two groups of people that I believe are particularly pleasant.
As we waited in line for the buffet dinner, we were thrilled to have Joan Benoit Samuelson, the founder of the race and the gold medal winner of the first women’s Olympic marathon, stop by to thank us for volunteering. She was gracious and unpretentious. Having a chance to meet this incredible woman who is a true icon in the sports world and beyond was an immense honor and the highlight of an already terrific night for us.
During the evening we heard from Dave McGillivray, the director of the Beach to Beacon, as well as the Boston Marathon. The beneficiary of this year’s Beach to Beacon is the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Their director spoke to us about the incredibly important work that they are doing, including providing food to children during weekends and holidays when they don’t have access to school meals. This made us more excited about being a part of this phenomenal event.
There was an extensive raffle that included coveted Beach to Beacon beach towels, Fitbits, signed Boston Celtics items, Boston Marathon shirts, and much more. Although we didn’t win a raffle item, everyone was given a nifty B2B 10K car magnet which made us happy.
We left the evening dazzled by the level of indulgence that the Beach to Beacon organizers bestow on their volunteers. We had no idea that any of these perks came with the volunteer job.
On race day we arrived at the designated spot to begin volunteering at the famous mile 5 water stop.
We were met by Connie who has hosted the mile 5 water stop with her husband, Dick, at their home for the 18 years that this race has been run. She gave us our cool technical style volunteer t-shirts, credentials to wear around our neck, and a bonus Dunkin Donut gift card that we received because we had signed up early.
Connie and Dick were warm and welcoming. Everything was calmly organized and there was a lively sense of pride and enthusiasm among the volunteers. We all enjoyed the pot luck breakfast which is a Mile 5 tradition. It was a great opportunity to speak with the other volunteers before the excitement of the race began.
It was calm and quiet on the course early in the morning.
We began to set up the cups and filled them with water.
Here’s Mike hard at work (in the white hat).
One more layer to go!
We had 4 large tables stacked with 3 layers of filled cups!
Everyone seamlessly found a job and worked together to accomplish this in no time at all.
Then the waiting began. The wheelchair participants came by first followed by 90 year old, Dottie Gray, the oldest finisher of the race.
We could tell the front-runners were coming as the cheers and cowbells down the road became intense.
Stephen Kosgei Kibet of Kenya was the leader at the 5 mile mark and ended up winning the entire race. It was fabulous to be able to witness the elite runners in action just feet from us. In the past, our only glimpse of these world-class runners had been on stage at the awards ceremony.
Within a few minutes there was a steady stream of runners zooming by. We were a bit stunned by the intensity and speed with which they snatched a cup without the hint of slowing down.
Soon the course was packed with runners who were running at impressive paces. These runners mostly dashed by with their eyes straight ahead. A few nabbed a cup and sped off. But shortly, the number of runners increased notably while their pace became slower.
These were the runners that were more familiar to me. They are the ones that surround me when I run. Their pace is slow enough that they can easily grab the cup. They attempt to put their empty cups in the trash. They may even take a brief walking break while they drink their water. They said, “thank you” and seemed especially appreciative (although sometimes confused) when we called out their names and some encouragement. Every bib number has the runner’s name printed in big letters so that it’s easy to yell out specific encouragement. I know I was at mile 5 the last time I ran the race when I heard someone call my name. I looked up, stunned, to see who knew me. It was just a kind stranger who had read my name and yelled out to give me a boost.
Soon, the flow of runners had dwindled to more of a trickle but the shouts of encouragement stayed strong. Some of these runners were struggling but they were doing it. Step by step they were getting closer and closer to crossing the finish line of the Beach to Beacon.
There was now time to begin the clean up of the hundreds of cups that made the road look like it had snowed, as one volunteer observed. Again, everyone just pitched in and the course was cup-free in an astonishingly short time.
Before we knew it, we were having a group photo taken and everyone was heading their separate ways. Mike and I absolutely agree that the mile 5 water stop is unquestionably the best! The warm welcome we were given as newcomers and the excitement of seeing the runners of all levels “up close and personal” was terrific. We were stunned by the extraordinary gratitude that the organizers and participants showed the volunteers. We loved having the chance to give back a little after being on the receiving end of countless volunteers’ efforts. The entire experience, set to an incredible soundtrack that played throughout the day, made this a fabulous event that we can’t wait to repeat next year!
Continuing with my goal of trying something new for 30 days, I embraced learning more about photography for March. Although I have been taking pictures for years, it has frequently been done with very limited knowledge or technical skill. So I explored more features on my DSLR camera, did some editing, and tried a new app.
These are photos I took on runs. For me, experiencing the sights and sounds I encounter on my runs is equal to the enjoyment of the actual run.
A slight deviation in my running route allowed for a change from my usual sky and landscape shots.
This month offered plenty of opportunities to take pictures of ice.
I thought tagging along with Mike as he cut wood would be a chance to take a different type of photo.
I convinced Mike to go to Portsmouth with me solely so I could take pictures.
It was intriguing to take the same photo with different settings.
I began to feel a tad sketchy as I hung out on the edge of the salt pile waiting to capture this action shot. But it was fun to be aiming (pun intended) for a different type of composition.
Our trip ended up with a stop for a drink and appetizers (as I had hoped it would).
As we left Portsmouth, I was able to capture this parting shot of the landmark steeple.
A community group that I am involved with has been making pottery bowls for our annual “Empty Bowls” event under the guidance of one of our members who is a talented potter. This was another opportunity to try a different sort of photography.
I traveled to Vermont to see my amazing niece perform in a circus showcase.
There were a number of other performers, as well. Their skill far outperformed my photography ability but it was exciting to try to capture them in the midst of their actions.
This photo that intended to capture the rapt attention of these small spectators didn’t quite do so. I obviously need to work on my timing!
March has been filled with maple sugaring here on our small Maine farm.
I had to wear snow shoes to get through the thigh-high snow to tap these trees in early March.
Amazingly, there is now bare ground in this spot.
I was enthralled with attempting to capture the steam rising from the evaporator. Thank goodness for digital photography which allowed me to take picture after picture without rolls of unsuccessful shots on film.
After 39 gallons of evaporated sap we are rewarded with a single gallon of maple syrup.
A new waffle recipe proved to be a delectable way to sample the new syrup.
Of course, a gallery of my photos would not be complete without a few shots of our furry friends.
Once again, trying something new for 30 days proved to be exciting and enriching. I learned some new skills and embraced having this as an activity that I was (happily) committed to engage in for the month. However, these 30 days only gave me a snapshot of the skills I hope to acquire as I continue in my quest to expand my photography abilities.
Experiencing the sights, sounds, and feelings of running outside is often equal to the enjoyment of the physical run. Here are some images from our runs this week.
Tuckaway Tree Farm
I couldn’t seem to stop taking pictures of the early morning sun on the foliage.
The fleeting rays of a morning sky like this will always speed me out the door to catch these colors before they vanish.
I soaked up the sights and sensations on this misty morning run.
Mike was pretty tolerant of my frequent photo stops on our long run on Saturday. I used it as an opportunity to add in some interval work as I sprinted to catch up to him.
No matter how many times I run past them, I always look forward to this part of our route.
The sight and sound of geese overhead thrills me every time.
These skies are such a gift.
Although we love our local loop, traveling to Portsmouth to run to New Castle is a favorite alternate route.
Mike took a quick detour as I continued to stop to take photos.
After our run in Portsmouth and Newcastle, Mike bought new shoes at Runner’s Alley. This store in Portsmouth provides an outstanding selection of running shoes, apparel, and gear with an unfailingly enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. I wouldn’t shop anywhere else for my running needs.
Runner’s Alley, Portsmouth, New Hampshire- Our favorite running store!
As I write this post, the rain and wind outside are undoubtedly creating a different landscape for tomorrow’s run. However, I find these changes to be one of the beauties of running in Maine.