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Hitting Mileage Again

I finally hit over 40 miles of running for the week for the first time since my injury in the fall.  This is actually the low end of my mileage for the VT100 training plan, but it’s been tough to get mileage up there with the weather we’ve been having. We’ve had a significant snow storm every 3 days for about two weeks, but it’s finally done and the temperatures have been rising!

This week I relied a lot on the treadmill. It’s not something I normally do, but I wanted to pad my mileage and it’s an easy way to add some miles on days when I double and I ended up doubling three days this week.

I got out for a great ValRUNtine’s Day run with Tulah and Zorro on Tuesday.  It was the first day I had them both attached to my waist and had them harnessed together. They did an amazing job working together and kept the pace pretty steady for 4 miles.  I’m looking forward to more clear roads so I can take them out more. Lately they haven’t had much of a chance to run since the snow is too deep on the trails and the shoulders are too narrow on the roads.

 

Thursday was the day after yet another snowstorm and I didn’t have to work so I helped my friend Tom create a course for the SIX03 Back 9 Snowshoe Race series. Unfortunately, the first two races in the season were cancelled due to a lack of snow, but we had PLENTY of snow to work with this week. Tom and I were the only ones to have set foot out on the Rochester Country Club course, so we were breaking trail in big snowshoes for 3 miles in snow up to our knees. It was a slog, but a really fun day and hard workout!

 

As always, Friday is the SIX03 Rollinsford Trail Pub Run from North Country Hard Cider. It was another fun night of snowshoeing, sipping on cider, and planning for the weekend’s long run. I decided to run my 16 miles on the road this week and met up with some friends who are training for their 2nd marathon. They typically run 9-10:30min/mi pace, which is actually great for me for training for the 100. It keeps me relaxed and reined in as the miles get long. I think I’ll be doing a lot of longer road miles at this pace as I move toward bigger mileage weeks. It’s 1-2:30min/mi slower than I usually would run a long run, but I’m starting to embrace the time-on-feet mentality of ultras.  Plus, it’s great to run with a group that I don’t usually get to train with!

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As I walked in the door on Saturday after finishing my 16miler, Tom texted me and asked me to come meet him in an hour and a half to go stomp down the course again before the snowshoe race on Sunday. So, I showered and headed out the door again pack things down with Tom and my friends Phil and Scott.  We’re all running the VT100 so a lot of our chatter during the hike was about who would be on our crew and how we’re training. I couldn’t help but think we might all be plodding along together in the heat of summer somewhere in the VT mountains! It’s something I’ll try to remember as I’m out there suffering in July.

Today was the snowshoe race. I got to the venue early to run the course once before the racers gave it a shot. It was mushy and narrow and really hard! I was happy to be volunteering instead of racing. I ended up cheering and taking pictures around a mile in and then made it back to the finish line for more cheering. The SIX03 women dominated by taking the top 3 spots (1st: Sarah Canney, 2nd: Jessica Goldman, 3rd: Deborah Towle) and my friends Phil and Scott came in 1st and 3rd, respectively!

It was a fun week to get back into the groove of running on roads and hitting bigger mileage on the weekend! LOTS of time on feet this week!

Weekly mileage: 42.5 mi running, 10.3 mi walking/hiking/snowshoeing

Time on feet: 11hr 36min

 

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Blessed AF

My friend and trail buddy Liz named one of her activities on Strava “Blessed AF” and it really resonated with me. So, this week I’m reflecting on how I’m “Blessed AF”.

I think I’ve always been a bit untameable. I’m a little rough around the edges. I never seemed to know what was “cool” or what the other girls were into or were wearing. I got made fun of a bit as a kid, but since it didn’t get a rise out of me it didn’t really last that long.  My brother has said to me in so many words on many occasions, “You are always so YOU in every situation. Would it kill you to adapt?” He’s the chameleon who can fit in anywhere and with anyone; I’m the aloof, cerebral, and independent one who gets lost in her own thoughts and (usually) bails or (sometimes) goes off on a tear if something rubs me the wrong way. I don’t always know how to interact or connect with people. Someone close to me once told me that I was the most compassionate person he knew, but that I often lacked empathy. It stung a little to hear that, but he really hit the nail on the head.  I’ve always wanted to make sure everyone and everything around me was taken care of and were having their needs met and I can be generous to a fault, but I’ve always had a hard time understanding how other people think or what they are feeling even when I try. Mostly I’ve just done my own thing in my own little world, surrounded by animals and nature. All this is to say, I’ve really only let a few people in to get really close to me.

This has changed over the past year or so. I’m still probably just as untameable – maybe even more so – but I’ve let a lot more people get a bit closer in. I think a lot of that has come from finding a community of likeminded people who can’t seem to be tamed either. I’m drawn to the wild – things, people, and places that are full of possibilities and adventure. I’ve met wild people and we’ve done wild things in wild places and there’s so much more to explore. This week I’ve taken a lot of time to appreciate this amazing aspect of my life.

The weather has been wild as well. On Tuesday we had about 6 inches of snow fall, Wednesday was almost 50 degrees, and Thursday was another 16+ inches of snow. Friday never went above 20 degrees, and then Sunday into today was another 12 inches of snow.  I ended up padding mileage quite a bit on the treadmill this week, but I got a chance to do a lot of snowshoe running and hiking.

Friday night was the Rollinsford trail pub run with SIX03 and there was a gorgeous full moon. We ran a 3.5 mile loop along a snowmobile trail and a single track section by a river. A lot of the single track was breaking trail so it was slow going and hard work.  The views were absolutely worth it. Unfortunately none of us had our cameras on it, so I’ll just have to remember how big and orange the moon was as it rose above the river. We came back to North Country hard cider and joined some friends for snacks and a flight. The crew that shows up to the pub run is amazing. There are some “regulars” and those who come every once in awhile, but it always feels like just the right group for the night. Fridays leave me smiling.

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On Saturday a group of us got together to do a 3hr run/hike on snowshoes through some trails in Northwood and up on to Saddleback Mountain. We did a big 8 mile loop, breaking trail for about half of it. It’s hard work to slog through a foot or more of snow in snow shoes!  I kept reminding myself that it was a toughness building run – I’m sure the last 30 miles of the VT100 are going to feel like breaking trail in snowshoes, even if the conditions are dry and perfect!

Saturday turned out to be an epic day. By the time we got home and showered from the run it was time to turn around to head up to Alton Bay to visit our friend Scott (who is also running VT100) and go hiking up Mount Major to check out the full moon. Scott’s house has dozens of miles of trails outside his front door. A group of 9 of us and one dog hiked up the mountain in snowshoes. A few people carried up beers and flasks and we were taking sips along the way.  We couldn’t stop too long at the top since it was windy and freezing, but we all opened up a beer and started hurling ourselves down the mountain. I did a mix of running, falling, and sliding down on my butt. Sometimes I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. We ended up back at Scott’s for more drinks, snacks, and a little jam session. Everyone was sprawled out on the floor stretching, rolling, and chatting about upcoming races and life in general. I got in 5 hours of snowshoeing and over 2400ft of elevation in a single day with great company. It was absolute perfection.

Sunday was the SIX03 2017 kickoff party and I spent most of the event telling new members about SIX03 races, pub runs, and volunteer opportunities. It was awesome to meet new people and get to see who had joined SIX03 this year. I was really happy to see at least six people from the Rollinsford pub run join for this year!  It’s so nice to know that a pub run that basically started because I kept on begging people to come run and drink cider with me brought awesome people into the community.

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A snowstorm started during the afternoon on Sunday and continued on until this morning. Because basically the whole area  had a snow day, my friend Tom invited some people over to go snowshoeing out on the lake by his house and hang out for the afternoon. I missed snowshoeing with the group, but I was able to go for a quick run to break trail in the cemetery by my house with Tulah and Zorro. They were little musher dogs for the day. They were having so much fun pulling me along through the snow. I really need to try skijoring with them soon!

And this is why I’m “Blessed AF”. In a single weekend I did all of these amazing and exciting things with a huge community that has welcomed me and embraced my crazy. The funny thing is that I’ve come to expect that weekends are going to be spent this way. I wouldn’t say joining SIX03 changed me all that much, but it made me much more willing to embrace and share the part of me that has always sought the wild. But, what has amazed me about joining SIX03 is that there is a group of people who are out there seeking the wild too and I am lucky enough to know them.

Weekly mileage: 34.4 running; 9.2 hiking/walking (almost all in snowshoes!)

Time on feet: 10hrs, 39min

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Mixed up weather

I’m a little late in updating this week. It was a crazy one!

My right foot was giving me a bit of trouble throughout most of last week. I think it came from old shoes and a lot of time on microspikes.  I’ve been on the roads for the last week and a half and bought some new shoes and it’s definitely feeling a lot better.

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to travel down to Melbourne Beach, FL to visit my father and run the Publix Florida Half Marathon.  It was a great time to get a break from cold New England weather.  I haven’t been training for fast road racing, so I planned to run the race as a workout/tempo run. My friend Chris from SIX03 came down with me as a thank you present because he helped me remodel my kitchen this past fall/winter. He has been running really well lately and had a big goal of running under 3:11 in the marathon.

We did a nice four mile shakeout run the day before the race in 77 degree weather. It was amazing to run in a singlet and shorts! It had been months since that was possible up here in New Hampshire. We stopped and joked around for most of the run. The rest of the day we spent eating, resting, and getting ready for the next day’s race.

 

Race day was an early one! Chris had to be at the start line at 5:45am for this 6am start. It was dark and 50 degrees with no wind. It was a perfect day for fast times.  Chris got going and I got ready for the half marathon start at 6:45am.  The sun was just about to rise and the temps had only risen to about 52 degrees. I lined up with the 1:45 pacer because I was planning on using the first half as a warmup and then dropping into my half marathon pace for the last 6.5 miles.  At the start I met a guy who saw my SIX03 singlet and knew I was from the Portsmouth area. He apparently works at a company that has offices in Portsmouth and near Melbourne, FL, so he comes up to visit NH all the time. I let him know about the pub runs and he said he’d join us next time he was up in the area!  Running is a small world.

I stuck to the plan and ran with the 1:45 pace group for half the race. The pacer was amazing and clicked in on 8 minute miles like clockwork. It was fun learning about the running groups in the area and chatting along with other competitors in the pace group.At the halfway point – the first of the two causeway bridges in the race – I said goodbye to the group and dropped into 7:05-7:10min/mile pace for the rest of the way. To run the last half almost a minute per mile faster than the first half means you pass a LOT of people. It was really fun to run fast and feel fresh later on the race. I ended up passing the 1:40 pace group and my new friend from the start line.

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I ended up finishing in 1:38:36 and 11th overall female with 3rd in my AG. Not bad for a workout! It makes me feel pretty confident in my fitness right now. I have been running, but not as fast or as much as usual since I’ve been coming back from an injury and switching almost entirely to trail running. Maybe someday I’ll go back to the roads and try to break 1:30 in the half.  Chris ended up PRing at the marathon with a 3:05:18! It was amazing to see him come in so strong and happy! I have a feeling he’ll be back down that way to train and visit – he fell in love with Florida. Really, though, who could blame him?

 

We flew back just a couple hours after the race ended. Sitting still all cramped up in a plane after a half or full marathon isn’t something I plan on doing again.

The start of this week has been a mixed bag.  We came back to real winter here in New England. We’ve had two snowstorms – one that is raging outside right now – with a day that hit 50 degrees between them! I’ve had a chance to run or hike outside each day since I’ve been back. Looking forward to the rest of this 2nd official week of 100 miler training!

 

Last week stats

Mileage: 33.1 running; 5 miles walking

Cross training: 1hr yoga

Time on feet: 6hr 57min (It’s a lot shorter when I’m running roads!)

VT100 bound!

It’s official! On July 15-16, I’ll be running the 100 mile race at the Vermont 100! I knew even during the Vermont 50 back in September that I was signing up for the 100. The 50 was hard, mostly due to some troubling stomach issues, but I knew that the challenge I really wanted was the 100. So, here we go! It’s my only “A” race this whole year, so all of my training will have finishing the 100 in mind.

This week was a mixed bag of weather, which meant for a mixed bag of training.  Unfortunately, this weekend’s SIX03 snowshoe race and the 3rd race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series was cancelled. It’s been a really warm winter so once we get snow it melts into an icy crust.  This week hit into the high 40s, so the snow was completely gone for the races.  Currently, I’m in 3rd place in the GSS series, but one of my teammates is very likely to pass me once we’re out there again. Either way, the SIX03 are convincingly holding the top 4 spots. Couldn’t be prouder of our speedy women’s team!

This week was my first week back to teaching. It’s good to get back into a regular schedule again, but I did love having the time off to train, play with the dogs, and renovate my kitchen.  This past week was also the last week of my “build” phase following my Fall injury. My official 24-week training plan for the 100 starts tomorrow!  I’m very excited.

This week I got to spend a lot of time out on the trails with friends.  On Thursday night, a group of SIX03ers ran the Sweet Trail, a beautiful single-track trail that connects Durham to Newmarket and ends on Great Bay.  We started the run just at dusk and ran into the darkness. It was a beautiful warm night, but there was still a bit of snow cover on the trail. I love running trails at night with a headlamp. It makes even the most simple run feel like an adventure.

Thanks for the photos, Tony!

On Saturday, my friends Jess, Heather, Tony, and I did an amazing 3 hour run along some fun trails along Blue Job Mountain.  Jess is the local expert on trail systems in our area and she always manages to bring friends on the best adventures – “Jessventures” is what I usually call them.  Jess is a two-time 100miler finisher and has run and biked across the entire country! She’s a force to be reckoned with and a blast to be around and learn from. Heather, like me, is signed up for her first VT100. It’ll be fun to train with these two ladies throughout the spring and summer since we all have the same goal. Our friend Tony is pacing Heather this year, but finished his first VT100 in 23 hours last year and has big plans for going even longer (yes… there are races longer than 100 miles).

Thanks for the photos, Heather. Maybe someday I’ll get a phone that doesn’t shut off in the cold.

Our run was about 11.5 miles, but it took us almost 3 hours because of the terrain, snow, and elevation.

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Tony forgot his microspikes for this run, and there were some very technical and steep downhills.  The ladies and I were easily running down the mountains and feeling pretty confident in our spikes; Tony slid down them on his butt. I was laughing so hard I could barely run sometimes. This run was the highlight of my week and makes me look forward to all the crazy adventures and wonderfully weird people that training for a 100 mile race is sure to bring into my life.

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Mileage: 33.3 running; 6.8 walking/hiking

Time on Feet: 9hr 38min

If you can’t fly, then run…

Disclaimer: This post isn’t all running.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Keep moving forward. It’s becoming my mantra for 2017. I know this year is going to pose some huge challenges – some I’ve signed up for and others are going to come with the territory of being a person who is going to try her hardest to choose kindness, respect, and understanding over hate and divisiveness in a tough time. This week made that clear. Between MLK day, the inauguration, and the Women’s March, this week was one that was full of emotion.

On Monday, I watched Selma for the first time. I’m not sure what took me so long to finally watch it, but it was excellent.  I cried into my dinner and did research on the events leading up to and following the march at Selma. In some ways I wasn’t shocked about how little I knew about the actual Civil Rights movement – history books often present the polite version of events. Later in the week, I followed up by watching documentary series called The Sixties and The Seventies. Again, it was eyeopening to see the actual news coverage of the times.  It upset me. It made me proud. It scared me. It gave me hope for our future.

On Thursday my friends Kate and Rachel and I got together to run 4 miles in support of the Run For All Women.  It was a nice way to get together and chat with women and discuss our concerns and hopes while getting in a few miles.  Later that night, I met up with a friend to take a sunset/night walk around a park in Maine as a way to clear our heads for the next day’s events. I felt a great sense of community and belonging.

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On Friday, I decided to treat myself to things that made me happy and tune out everything else for a day. I walked the dogs, made a yummy new vegan dish, and went to my running group’s Friday night pub run to be around friends. It felt good to choose happiness.

On Saturday, I went to the Moose Mountain Snowshoe Runaround.  It was a 4.5 mile (2 loops) course on some very soft snow.The first go around the course was sloppy and slow. The snow hadn’t been packed down, so it was hard to keep footing and it felt like quicksand and mashed potatoes to run in. It was a great, low-key event with a fun crew. I came in 4th woman (again) and SIX03 (again) dominated the women’s field: 1st Leslie O’Dell, 2nd Sarah Canney, 3rd Holly Blais.

*Race photos courtesy of SNAPacidotic

My friend Liz and I carpooled together and decided to support the Women’s March in our race.  I wasn’t exactly sure about whether I should be making a political statement at a race, but given the situation and these times, I needed to do something to acknowledge my support.  Luckily, I still had time after the race to make it to the Portsmouth, NH Women’s March and marched with 3,500 others (and my pup Zorro!). It was an inspiring and hopeful day.

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I finished out the week with a great trail run in Pawtuckaway State Park with my friends Tony, Scott, and Holly. We had all raced the day before, so it was a relaxed 9miles on some of New England’s most technical trails.  We stopped to admire a fire tower construction project; we stopped to fix our waterlogged shoes; we stopped to take selfies. It was a great way to end an intense week.

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I think I cried every day this week.  This doesn’t mean it was a bad week, just one that made me think and feel. In my book, that’s all good.

Mileage: 32 miles running; 9.3 miles hiking/walking

Time on Feet: 9hrs 29min

 

Snowshoe races are FUN

This week was the first snowshoe race of the season up at Whitaker Woods in North Conway. This is only my second season snowshoeing, but I’ve found it to be a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the winter as someone who doesn’t downhill ski.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the season – we just need more snow if we’re going to be able to race!

Here’s the thing: Snowshoe racing/running is silly. It’s incredibly hard, it’s slow, you’re likely to fall (or at least come close), and it’s almost always freezing cold so you need a million layers.  I think this might be why I like it. I’m always drawn to and have the most fun at the most silly events where I have no expectations.

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I really never race snowshoe races. I just run them comfortably hard. I don’t get nervous, I don’t think about pace or place. I just go and see what happens. These are my favorite sort of events and I’m pretty sure it’s why I love trail running and ultradistance running – it’s more about the experience and the training than the race itself. I want to be able to stop and laugh at the absurdity of what I’m doing and admire the beauty of the place I’m in. If I can’t do that, it’s not fun or fulfilling for me. I don’t ever want to make running something that causes me stress. For a long time it did (a story for another day/post), and I’m happy to be free of that aspect of the sport.

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That being said, the race Saturday was great. The conditions were cold (10 degrees), but the snow was hard-packed and there was a good ice crust over the single track, so it was relatively easy to get moving on snowshoes.  If it’s warm or the snow is deep, it can feel like running in mashed potatoes. I settled into 4th place woman within the first quarter mile and stayed there the entire race. The first mile of the race is pretty much all uphill on good groomed trails, then you turn on to some twisting single-track that plummets you downhill for quite sometime.  I don’t like running downhill, so I lost a lot of ground there – I tend to run almost a minute slower per mile on steep downhills than I do on uphills! It’s something I’ll need to work on as I train more for VT100 since it has a lot of downhill miles.  I got moving again for miles three and four of the race and actually ran my fastest splits there. I was smiling at the end, partially because my face froze that way, and finished a minute faster than last year.  It was good to feel fresh at the end of the race.  It’s something I never felt last year when I was racing on snowshoes.  I think the whole “not really racing” thing is the way to go.

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What I love about snowshoe racing is the low-key, low-budget atmosphere that seems to be present in trail racing as well. Timing is taken care of by hand – you hand a popsicle stick over at the finish chute to have your time recorded.

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After the race everyone gathered together in a warming hut, passed around maple whiskey and Fireball, played with dogs that came with their owners, and ate some hot soup and bread.  The overall winners received large jugs of homemade cookies as their prize. It feels like a backyard family party, and in some ways, it kind of is.

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After the race, members of SIX03 Endurance and Acidotic Racing went to Tuckerman’s Brewery to eat pizza and enjoy some microbrews.  It makes me incredibly happy to see how two teams can come together after a race and talk about their race and upcoming adventures and events.

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Overall it was a really successful day for SIX03. We were fastest overall team and had the most entrants. On the women’s side, we took  4 of the top 5 spots and had the overall winner in Leslie O’Dell. Our men’s team had great showings as well. Full results are here.

I’m looking forward to more fun this season with this crazy crew.

Weekly mileage:  34.5 miles running; 10.3 miles hiking/walking

Time on feet: 9hrs

 

 

Back in the Game

For most of November and December I was dealing with knee pain coming from an IT Band issue. Essentially, my glutes and hips are really weak (as is common in a lot of distance runners), and I was starting to feel the effects. I did 6 weeks of 2X/week PT work at Marshbrook Rehab in Somersworth, NH and I’m back in the game!

This week has been a mix of awesome trails, cold road runs, and some time spent running with the pups. After being on the injured list for so long, I’m having a hard time keeping myself under control and building up miles slowly. I feel good so I want to GO GO GO. Luckily, my training plan is written to create a slow build, so that’s what I’m sticking to.

Some highlights from the past week or so:

What should have been a 6 mile trail run in York, ME on New Year’s Day with some friends turned into a 12.7 mile death march because of a little mishap I had with reading a trail map. We were learning new trails, so some wrong turns are bound to happen, I guess. Starting 2017 with an adventure isn’t the worst thing! Luckily my friends are an adventurous, forgiving group of wackos.

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I got a chance to run with Tulah and Zorro in Kingman Farm for some nice slow recovery miles on a beautiful 35 degree afternoon. I love mild temperatures in the winter. If it never went below 30, I’d be a winter girl all the way.  As usual, Tulah could have run forever and Zorro stopped to pee and lay down on the trail about 10 times per mile.

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To round out the week, I got to do a great early morning trail run in Strafford, NH with some of my ultrarunning friends and VT100 pacers. We even had a Wirehaired Vizsla named Zomen join in on our 8 miler through snowmobile trails on a very, very cold day. I love that even on a day with a “real feel” of -7 degrees, there are still four other runners out there ready to tackle some miles.  I followed this run up with a huge brunch and then a 5 mile hike. Sometimes you have to spend an entire day outside and eating.

Weekly mileage: 33mi running, 10.6mi walking/hiking

Time on feet: 9hr 53 minutes

Happy 2017!

My name is Maureen and I’m a runner, animal lover, and psychologist living on the New Hampshire Seacoast.

I have been a runner since I was 12 years old. I’ve taken a few breaks here and there, but even during those times, I’ve always needed to move. After adopting my first dog, Tulah, who is a fabulous running partner, I came back to running with a love I hadn’t had in years.  I joined SIX03 Endurance, the largest running club in New Hampshire. I race anything as short as a 5k all the way up to ultramarathons! I’ll be writing about my training, races, and what it’s like to train with two furry friends!

As an animal lover, I have made a commitment to animal rescue and treating animals will kindness and respect. I volunteer with PAWS New England and have four rescue pets: Tulah, Zorro, Galileo, and Arugula. You can learn more about them here.   I am a vegetarian and trying to explore the joy of cooking. I’ll be sharing information about recipes, animal rescue, and living with a small zoo in 1100 square feet!

As a psychologist and college professor, I am always excited to learn more about the brain, learning, memory, and language. I have found that psychology informs both animal training and exercise science, and I will be sharing psychology research that is relevant to our connections with animals and exercise.

I hope this space becomes a place where readers can find out more about running, dog-friendly events and venues, animal welfare, and products that make living with furry companions easier!

Happy New Year!