Barefoot Mama

"I started running barefoot in March 2008. I started one step at a time, one day at a time. I decided to start keeping a journal of sorts. Sharing my history, my journey and my adventures."

I have taken some new paths in relation to my running over the last year. This blog will still include my running adventures but I have to move on with more stories of my family and the journey we have taken together over the last year. This blog was started as a way to help me record my barefoot journey but now needs to become more than that. Please be patient as I explore ways to stay connected with family and friends.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2013 - And the rest of the story...

 June 2013: Mt. Katahdin and the Appalachian Trail:

What a fun adventure and here are some pictures of the highlights.
We made it to the top of Katahdin.

A view from of Katahdin from 10+ miles away. 
The sign we saw on day two. 10 miles into our hike. We made it to Hurd Brook Lean-to. But decided to keep pushing on to see if we could make it to Rainbow Ledges Camping area. We didn't make it.  A HUGE storm pushed us back to the Lean-to. Thank goodness there was room for us at the lodge because it was a cool, windy and rainy night. 
We had endured over 30 minutes under a tarp on the side of mountain before we decided to descend and make our way back instead of push on up the mountain. It was the biggest hail I have ever seen. Pouring rain, lightning, thunder and WIND. (We found out later that there were tornados in the area). It was the scariest thing I have ever been in. We were outside under a tarp, kneeling on top of our backpacks and shaking uncontrollably from cold. 

Earlier in the day when we could hear the thunder in the background, the sun was out and we thought it would pass to our north. Then the skies got darker and darker and we knew we needed to get up and over the mountain before the storm hit but we couldn't climb that fast. (We had already hiked nearly 14 miles and it was about 1300ft. elevation).  A group of guys 3 guys were climbing the rock staircase that makes up part of Rainbow Ledges right behind us as it started to pour and the lightning got REAL scary. We got off the trail, which was flooded with mountain runoff and up to our ankles, because we didn't want to stand in running water in a storm. But the guys kept hiking up! They walked off into the rain and were gone! I remember saying to my friend,"they left us, they left us!" I realized they could not help us any more than we could them...then we felt totally alone. The things we thought of to "try" to be safe in retrospect were just crazy! I will also admit that while standing off the trail, under the smallest tree we could find, huddled together for warmth, I peed my pants. I was so scared! I laugh about it now but up there it only made the situation seem worse. 

Most of the trail looked like this on day two.

Day three took us on a 22 mile adventure: Which included wading across the rushing Hurd Brook in crotch deep water, going off the trail to go around many trees that had fallen in the storm, walking most of the trail in ankle deep water and sloshing through lots of mud, crossing Rainbow Stream on a thin board and hiking up and down a total of about 1600 feet in elevation. We were tired and sore and I had fallen twice. Charles (my husband) was going to resupply us every 3-4 days at previous marked locations. These locations were access roads and places he could hike to in order to connect with us. The plan was that if we were not at any of the locations he would leave our supplies hanging in a tree with a note. Well, I guess we really looked in rough shape when we connected at Wadleigh Stream Lean-to because he told us he really thought we should seriously think about calling it quits. I hate to quit things but he was right. We were done. Physically and emotionally.

Here is something that I took from my facebook page: 
Home. Pulled from the trail by my concerned hubby, Charles Weidman. 40 miles of Appalachian Trail in 3 days and 7 miles of side trails. He'll take me back to finish when my shoulder and back recover. No major injuries just sore from a couple of falls with a heavy back pack. Proud of what I did. Miles of wilderness seen. BEAUTIFUL! A few good stories and and some adventure with a friend. AND Moose are stupid.

So I will go back and start where we left off near Jo-Mary Road sometime in 2014.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Appalachian Trail Adventure /Support the American Cancer Society

All winter I have been planning a hiking trip with my friend Paula. We will start at Mount Katahdin and hike the Appalachian Trail south as far as we can. We are hoping to cover 10-20 miles a day but we will have to take into account weather, steep mountain climbs and how well our gear works. Just like any event I have completed; sometimes there are things that we cannot control and we'll  have to learn to roll with the punches.

The planning process has involved reading many books about the Appalachian Trail, studying maps and trail guides, talking with other people who have hiked the trail, buying the right backpack, learning what to bring and testing out the equipment. I have learned that since I only weight 105 pounds that I am limited to the amount of stuff I can physically carry. I have gone through several trials and have come to the conclusion that the most I can comfortably carry is about 27 pounds. And that can only include my survival gear, a few necessary clothing items, a sleeping bag with a bivy sack, 1 change of shoes and 3 days of food. Needing to take calorie dense food and about 2200 calories day is what I have come up with as well as water. My friend is carrying the water filter.

I did a hike to test my gear and my ability to carry it.  I carried my 21 pound pack 8.5 miles in 3 1/2 hours. The mountains I climbed were only about 1200 feet. The ones I will encounter on my hike will be 3000-5000+ feet.  I feel like my gear survived the test. I stopped to  take some pictures, stopped at the top of the last mountain for a 10 minute break and stopped once to pee. I think I can manage a little more weight but some other things will have to be eliminated in order for me to be comfortable. I really would like my pack to weigh closer to 25 pounds not the 27 it currently weighs. 2 pounds makes a huge difference. I still need to test some food options and see if I should really carry a walking stick or not. I also can't decide if I want to carry my hammock or just the sleeping bag.

Why am I doing this? There are several reasons:  One is that I need to prove to myself that I can do this. Hiking in the woods seems to be what I need. I LOVE trail running and hiking. The more I think about it the more excited I become. Second, I was inspired by my friend and fellow Crow member who did his own trip from Maine to Washington DC last November and I believe that we are capable of doing anything we set our minds to.  I'll only know if I can -  if I do. This will be another thing to cross of my Bucket List as well. Why wait ? If I put it off I may never have the opportunity to do it. This just seems like the right time. And this will give me the opportunity to put in the training I need to run well in my next 50K which will be a National Championship.

I also thought that this would be a good way to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society celebrates its 100 year anniversary this month. I hope to cover more than 100 miles to help them celebrate. And I will return from my hike and  join my family in our local Relay for Life event. Our team "One Family Fighting Back" will relay around the track for 12 hours to honor and remember our family and friends who have had to deal with cancer.

In an earlier post I wrote: "Another great adventure (and the JFK 50)" I stated that I hoped my next adventure would include my family.  My children will see me off at the start and my husband will meet me every 3-4 days to resupply me with food. The children will be a part of this adventure through texts and information  they receive from their father and they will follow along with me on a map with their highlighters. I hope to be able to text in information so they know I am safe but other than that I will try not to contact anyone.

I still need to test more gear, hike one last hike with my pack, prepare the family for my absence and run in a 50K at Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival before my adventure.

My husband will take over my Blog while I am gone to keep everyone posted on how I am doing on the trail. He will also post on my Facebook page. AND to answer the question: Will I go barefoot? I'll just have to wait and see what the trail has to offer before I make that decision.

If you would like to make a donation to my American Cancer Society's Relay for Life Team here is a link. Please don't feel any pressure to do so. My favorite saying is, "It's all good" Hugs to all. :) Birthday

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

We survived the winter...

Spring has arrived and the loons are back in the pond. Ducks and geese are here. We hear the loons calling at night and it's a wonderful sound. Being in the woods on the edge of a pond really made the winter special. Just heard the coyotes a few nights ago, right outside the door. The dogs went crazy! We can hear them call at night. I think they are watching us. It's funny because one daughter leaves her shade open so she can look out and see the night and all it's glory and the other daughter closes her shade to block out all the "scary" things in the night. I'm hoping it's a stage and she'll eventually keep her shade open so she can look out into the night. We kept a small patch of the ice clear of snow for ice skating and I went snowshoeing and cross country skiing across the ice until MARCH! The dogs had a blast running across the ice and playing in the snow. We didn't get out the ice fishing gear and we never had a bon fire on the ice. We were toasty warm with our propane heat. We only experienced about 3 days of frozen water pipes. It was a bit chilly on the below freezing mornings to go out and use the outside facilities but we managed all winter with very few complaints from the children.

To give ourselves a break from the Maine winter and to visit with family and friends. We took a much needed vacation to the south for 2 weeks in February. It was fun to be barefoot all day and to run barefoot on the beach everyday. I also did a 10K trail race in southern Florida. The race director had just finished the miami half marathon barefoot and it was nice to meet him. He had great enthusiasm for running and fitness. We came back to face the task of digging our way back to the camper through 3 feet of snow.

The kids love it here. Call it home and it is. It wasn't all fun and glory. We had times when the tight/small space would get on our nerves and we'd need a break from each other. But for the most part things were ok. We taught the kids to play cribbage this winter and my 10 year old loves it. She's competitive like her mama and has beaten me on several occasions. We had two pigs that went off to the butcher before it got too cold. It was a sad day but we knew they would feed us all winter and every time we have bacon the kids ask me which pig it is. It sounds like a terrible thing but they wanted to say thanks for their food and honor the right pig.

The fiddleheads passed before I could pick any. :( The dandelions are ready to be picked but I don't have the space to process the jam this year.  I still have a few jars left from last spring though. I went out to my cold frame and opened it up and low and behold we have kale and swisschard growing. YUM! I haven't planted the garden yet. We just had another 32 degree night so the garden will have to wait a couple more weeks. But our compost pile is growing by the day and the hay bales that we put around the bottom of the camper this winter for insulation are going to be the new home for my potatoes. A friend gave me a Jerusalem Artichoke, which is a root vegetable, and I've planted that and am hoping for the best. My raspberries over wintered and are gonna be strong and tall this summer as well. Things are growing like crazy and turning green and we are excited about it all.

Looking forward to the summer....

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My quest for my first 50 miler. (written ages ago and never posted)

I attended the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival May 27-28. It was a BIG weekend. They have everything from 5K's to 50 miles. I entered the 5K Canicross with my dog Zeke and I ran the Barefoot 5K about 1 hour later on Saturday. And my youngest daughter  ran the 5K, her second trail run of the season. Then on Sunday morning we got an early start on the 50 miler. I finished in 9:43:28. This was a trail that ran through logging roads and fields. Unrelenting rolling hills. I  hit the wall around mile 33. I had to sit down, put on some Traumeel, and vaseline and eat some food. The aid stations were AWESOME. It was the most unbelievable experience to come out of the woods and see a buffet set up on tables in the middle of a field. I didn't carry anything on my because I knew there would be so much support on the course. I wore my Merrell trail gloves for the whole distance. Although later I would regret this choice at the time it seemed appropriate. I ended up hurting my foot from wearing the shoes for so long. It took a couple of months for it to work itself out. In those months after I went barefoot as much as I possibly could, which helped. I think I will follow some expert advise and switch up my footwear during my next 50 miler. I hope that will help. I also was able to run through the wall I hit and after about 30 minutes I came out on the other side and felt great! I started to run faster and I felt lighter. It may have all been in my head of course but that is what it felt like. I kept thinking to myself  and probably talking to myself too, that how could I feel this good after running over 40 miles? A great weekend! Was able to meet up with some fellow barefoot runners from the New England Barefoot Runners group too.
Myself, Heather and Jason R. getting ready for the start.
hot and tired

Our Humble Abode and a new winter adventure

Here is a picture of where we are spending our winter. And so far it is working out. We had to put up the tarp to prevent leaking. And the hay bales are helping to insulate. We are warm(heat with propane) and we have water. Not hot water but who needs that right? :) We have plumbing but are using the outdoor plumbing too. The kids have defined their own space by calling their bunk beds their "rooms" and they seem to be enjoying their minimalist experience. We are looking forward to skating on the pond and I am excited to break out the snowshoes and get on the trails in those 50 acres of woods. Bring on the snow and let the good times roll!
Outdoor plumbing
the kitchen
the backyard
the view from the window

Maine2DC Run:

This is an event one of my friends and Crow Teammates is doing. Just thought I would pass on. He needs all the support we can give

Another Great Adventure (and the JFK50 miler)

My adventure started out on Thursday, Novemver 15th at 7am with my friend Paula. I had to leave the family at home this time. We struck out on the road following Route 1 south. We weren't alone though. I was very excited to be traveling with our mascot, Emmett the cat! You may think that taking a cat on the road is ridiculous, ok it kinda is, but he loves the car. I think he thinks he is a dog! He actually growls! If he could have stuck his head out the window and let his ears flap in the wind he would have.
He spent a lot of time curled up in "his" seat or sitting on my lap.

So lately I've been trying to find a way to write about my 50 miler without sounding like a brat. I make most of these posts for my my friends and family who live far away who want to read about my running adventures and to check in once in awhile to see what my family is doing. So when I tried to write about this trip it turns out to it was about the fun I had and the 50 miler was secondary. Don't get me wrong I trained for this event and it was a tough one but the days leading up to the event were great and the adventure continued after the event. I was happy to finish the 50 miles but my trip was all about going somewhere with my friend and getting to see and do things we don't usually get to do. This is one of many adventures I've had with Paula.  This year alone we have been to events in Florida, Kentucky, Quebec  and of course Maine. First, it is the longest amount of time I have been away from my family, they usually go with me. And everything I did I kept thinking about all the fun they would have if they were with me. (Except for being part of a crew that had to wait around all day for me to finish the 50 mile run. My girls would have hated that. Not because they were bored because they would worry about me.) 

Our first destination was a 10 hour drive to friends house in Manheim, PA. We had a great day which included counting the deer on the highway. A wonderful game and completely entertaining. I believe we counted 12 dead on the road, 3 dead in the back of pickup trucks and 4 that walked out in front of us!  We had had a nice hot supper waiting for us at the end of the day. We camped out on a couple of air mattress in their office and it was wonderful. (Of course I am comparing it to our sleeping conditions on our last adventure where we spent 1 night sleeping in the back of the car on an old logging road in northern Maine and another night in a tent.) The next day we spent exploring their town, going to Hersey, PA and the Chocolate factory, paddling in a canoe for 6.5 miles, exploring the Amish countryside, visiting with friends and traveling another 2.5 hours to the packet pick-up for the JFK 50. My journey would have been complete with just that group of experiences. And I stated so at our Chocolate Factory tour. I said "This is the best! My trip is already complete and we have just begun!" 

Once we got settle into our hotel room and Emmett was all comfy on the bed I took a nice hot shower and called it a day. I had the beginnings of what could have been a terrible migraine earlier in the day but thanks to some Tylenol and caffeine I was able to escape most of the pain and was left with just a dull ache. I didn't let it ruin my day and I was hoping a good nights sleep would cure me and it did.

Well, here comes the brat part. I finished my 2nd 50 miler. The JFK 50 50th Anniversary. November 17, 2012. But, I don't have any great wisdom to share. My journey through that distance was MY journey and everyone has their own journey when you are running that far for that long. I can share the statistics: It took me 10 hours 43 minutes. And big deal. I had my goals for this event set and being the competitive person I am, "just finishing" was not one of them. I knew I would finish. That time was not one I expected to get, yes, I wanted to do better. And I can't explain it enough to people that keep saying to me, " I can't believe you ran 50 miles! Aren't you excited that you "just finished"? How can I say, "no I'm not excited that I "just finished" the distance". And why can't you believe I ran that far? I've been training for this for months!  But my chiropractor told me that I have to understand that what I think are normal runs and weekly training session most people don't. Most people don't go out and run 10 miles for fun. So in their mind I am doing something they would never even think of doing. He had to put it in perspective for me. I had a plan and I followed through with it. I wore my minimalist trail shoes through the single track Appalachian Trail section, I wore my VFF on the C&O tow path for over 26 miles and I ran barefoot for the last 8.5 miles on newly paved asphalt. I ate and drank when I needed to. My plan was to walk the hills and jog/run/walk the downs and the flats. Great plan. Glad I did it. What did I learn: Running on a straight tow path for a marathon distance with no hills was REALLY tough for me. It actually was a slow uphill grade the whole way but just seemed flat. The next ultra I train for will include more walking in the training program. Having a crew there just when you need them is awesome! I hope to be able to crew for someone someday and do as great a job as our friends did for us. And sharing the running experience with a friend was something I will never forget. I knew I would finish the run and I did. I always knew that if it came to a battle between my body and my mind my mind would win, I was right. I've taken the last 2 weeks off with ocassional trips to the gym for biking and swimming. Taking a much needed break from running. Planning more ultras in the future. Deciding which 100 miler to do before they all fill up. But need to put those 50K and 50 milers on the calendar as training runs before they all fill up as well. 

The adventure didn't stop with the 50 mile run. We stayed it the hotel one more night and got up, had breakfast and were on the road again. We traveled south to Florida with a stop to visit a friend in South Carolina and a short nap at a rest stop in Florida arriving at our destination about 6 am on Monday morning. My friend is a snow bird and we drove to her winter dwelling. While in Florida I helped her settle in. We went for walks and bike rides. I drank fresh OJ made from the oranges that grew in the backyard. We sat on her deck and celebrated our adventure with wine and cheese. We had our own little Thanksgiving dinner with some friends.  This adventure came to an end when my feet touched the ground in Maine at 7:30pm on Wednesday after I flew home. My friend continues her winter adventure in Florida and I got to be home in time to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Gone almost a week. It was good to be home. I can't wait for the next running adventure/trip but I hope it will include my family next time.
Biking past the orange groves
At the end of the JFK 50