New England Challenge Westfield MA

Westfield MA was the next stop in the New England Challenge.

The event was held in Stanley Park. The town was doing lots of things to celebrate their 350th anniversary. The festivities included hosting this glorious event with runners doing a  stop in six day  six state series as well as a 5k 2 days with invited top shelf runners.  Let’s revisit that 350th concept. That was 1671.  There was a town up and cooking  100 miles from Boston in 50 years after the pilgrims arrived. Wow.

The park was blooming and the carillon played a few numbers during our day.  The race support all day each day  was the rotating snacks  at the aid station. There was actual cooking going on. Grilled cheese, breakfast burritos, homemade egg rolls, an energy ball rolled from lots of healthy and decadent things, potato chips,  pretzels, sweets  etc. The previous day the culinary endurance world gained a new sensation with the invention of the Nancy.  It is an oreo with a coin shaped dill pickle on top. The perfect treat to get yourself down the road. I do not have a pic as assembly/ consumption required focus  and 2 hands.

I was very fortunate to spend most of this  day with Ila Brandli who is a legendary record setting senior runner from Mesa AZ.  Ila is very prolific in racing and drives to most races and eschews sleeping in her car to taking a hotel as there are  many races on her schedule.  I hope to do  in my lifetime to do what Ila accomplishes  in one year. The miles and time passed quickly with Ila.  At mile 25.5 a pair of  adorable welsh ponies appeared walking down a residential street.  Was it the fantasy version of a 9 year old birthday ? I thought it might be a hallucination.

After a quick  pic in front of a  cherry tree Hank Lopez my New England running husband   brought last night’s  dinner leftovers, ice cold chocolate milk along with a car full of  any supply a human could need and we enjoyed  a picnic.  The daily routine went something like this : Start race at 6am,- Hank finish 13.1 and hangs out at finish line,-  Hank goes to store for Nan’s post race chocolate milk  -returns to hotel and soaks in epsom salt bath,  -packs up and returns to race with a cooler of delights.  Nan is finishing 13 more miles. How could more food be needed after the aid described above ? Something about big miles and a calorie deficit.  I suppose the excuse is that there was a 2 hour drive most days to the next event and eating and driving is not safe. Since lights out was 8 pm the whole day was basically running, eating, driving, cleaning up. Repeat times 6 for most, just 4 times for me.

Here is a link to the really  neat multi use picnic mat, blanket, sleeping bag, back pack.  It is the absolute coziest fabric on the planet. You are welcome.

Cozi blanket

After the race there was a bucolic drive through the countryside over to Hartford CT. I believe these were  tobacco barns.  mass

Hartford took awhile to get settled in the hotel. One wing had loud music, cigarettes and smoking that stuff that rhymes with need. We respectfully requested to move to the runner’s wing of the hotel. Next door was a seafood place that had great food. You know it had been  at least 2 hours since the picnic so the posse  was in a starving state !!

PSA: No lobsters were harmed in the completion of this race series,

Here are two interesting facts about Massachusetts. The official state beverage  is cranberry juice and the official  state cookie is chocolate chip. Toll house cookies  were invented in Whitman MA in 1930.

Dr Seuss was born and basketball was invented  in nearby Springfield.  There are lots of great quotes from Dr Seuss  but we will wrap up with this one.

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Thank you for following, choose to steer yourself in the direction  your dreams,

Love to all,



Vermont Day 1 New England Challenge

To get 4 marathons in 4 states I accepted the New England Challenge for 4 days. Six days ME NH VT MA CT RI were offered however I will defer Maine and New Hampshire until October. Having now done 4 in 4 days here and in the southwest I would attempt 5 or 6. But that is not on the plan  to finish my 50 state quest. For sure everything in life is a great attitude and a little effort.

The drive from Boston to Springfield VT was charming. The town became prosperous because of the 5 waterfalls dropping  in the Black River. Power was provided to make things. I believe shoes was an early highlight. The plaques are included.

The town had a bike path along a rushing river, a covered bridge and more charm than this Florida girl could shake a stick at. There was little sign of spring and the day I arrived there had been snow the previous evening.

The folks who had run that day (In NH) had a cold drizzly day. It took 2 layers just to drive the car from Boston. Brrrr.  I gues that what the running was for to stay warm.

The race route was in a nature preserve with rushing streams, a lake, a steep grassy knoll and the best race crew dishing out support with an all day buffet. Look for an hysterical I mean historical marker on the trail. On this spot May 15 2019 the Nancy was invented.

(Insert a bronze statue of a dill pickle slice on top of an Oreo).

Do not judge until you get that sweet/sour/salt craving in the middle of a long mileage  day.

I was a fancy girl doing lots of fast shuffling and keeping track of pace and broke 7 hours. JC  the RD puts on a great series and makes each person’s finish feel special and spectacular.

After a diversion to a very cute town Bellows Falls to find a bus station for a wayward runner, it was on to Springfield in western  MA. I recall it to have been approx 2 hour ride. Mr. Hank was so spot on to return to the race to deliver chocolate milk and pizza. Bliss.

Epsom salts and Dr Teal bath soak stuff are wonderfully restorative along with lots of great Italian food.

My share with Hank whom I did the 4 Corners states with in December went perfectly. I have lots of hotel room quirks and thank goodness Hank shared all of them. Go figure. Miracles do happen.

Here is your USA 4 corner crew From L to R: Hank -Maine, Tina-Alaska, Nan-Florida, Tina’s Mom -AK, Ed-Hawaii. 

Hank is far left. The man can race walk brilliantly and I challenge any back of the packer to out run his pace. Hank was doing halfs to get  100 of them by fall. Tina was doing halfs and taking the rest of the day to see the sights with Mom.  Ditto for Ed. What a brilliant concept to see something other than 26 miles in a day. Brilliant.

Robert Frost spent lots of time in Vermont and is buried in Bennington about an hour from Springfield. His epitaph reads “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

Whomever writes my epitaph something about miles to go before sleep would be very appropriate.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

R. Frost

Thank you for taking the time to follow the blog.

Every road is a blessing,

Love to all,NW