Friday, April 27, 2012

Introducing a Guest Blogger: My Friend Kevin!

Over the next few weeks, Live Free and Hike will be featuring a guest blogger’s story about training and accomplishing the Boston Marathon. This guest blogger is a great, old friend of mine from high school, Kevin Bernier. Kevin and I certainly haven’t kept in touch throughout the years like friends should, due to attending different schools, living in different States and just being caught up in our busy lives. However, a while back on Facebook, he announced he was training for the Boston Marathon and I followed his progress on FB as he got closer to the race date. He ran the race on one of the hottest days in marathon history with a great time and raised almost $11,000 for Dana-Farber cancer research!

Kevin and I at our senior dinner dance...a very long time ago!

As I mentioned above, Kevin and I met at Amesbury High School. He was with me the first time I ever hiked in 1998, which was up Mount Washington. Many of you may have already read about this un-pleasurable ascent on a previous blog post entitled, Once Upon a Time…I Hated Hiking! My Hike Up Mount Washington, Aug. 25, 1998. After high school, Kevin attended Boston University where he studied math. After he received his undergraduate degree, he continued on to law school at BU. He’s currently practicing law at WilmerHale in Boston as a member of the Commercial Real Estate Group. He resides in Natick, MA, with his wife, Jen, and his two sons, Tyler (age 3 and self-proclaimed fastest boy in the world) and Alex (8 months old).

Kevin and I at one of our proms...again...a very long time ago!

As of lately, I’ve started to dabble in running a bit so I thought it would be great if Kevin wrote a post regarding the Boston Marathon, since it is such an extraordinary accomplishment. He’s done better than that, though. He’s broken up his journey of becoming a long distance runner into four separate chapters, which will be posted at different times over the next few weeks. I myself have not read them yet, so I’m just as excited as you are to get them posted. I want to extend a huge thanks to Kevin for taking the time to document his marathon experience and sharing it here, with us, on Live Free and Hike!


Monday, April 23, 2012

5.11 Tactical Flashlight Giveaway!!!

Do I have a great giveaway opportunity for one lucky reader of Live Free and Hike NH! 5.11 Tactical contacted me and explained that they are working toward providing products for the hiking and camping community. Currently, their primary customers are people working in public safety and paramilitary type positions, such as law enforcement, emergency response, etc. However, I was really surprised to learn that the company started with a focus on rock climbing gear. So, this newly targeted demographic of hikers and campers is not too far off from their originally mission!

The 5.11 Tactical ATAC A2 Flashlight fits nicely in your hand with a convenient thumb on/off button

So what am I giving away you ask? Well, I have one 5.11 Tactical ATAC A2 flashlight. This is the Cadillac of flashlights if I do say so myself. It’s a perfect size to store easily in your pack, survival kit or in your pocket, but also large enough to grip and use easily. It has a great pocket clip too, which is perfect for outdoor cargo pants. The on/off switch is a thumb button on the end of the flashlight and it has multiple light power ranges. It is also waterproof too, so that it can be used in any weather…or if you decide to take a spill in a mountain brook! Its construction is heavy duty aluminum and the package includes the two AA batteries to power it. It retails for $64.99…so this is a great one to win!

The 5.11 Tactical ATAC A2 Flashlight is made of aluminum construction with weatherproof sealing!

It fits perfectly in my survival kit pouch!

How can you win, you ask? Well, I’ll give each person three opportunities to enter. First, you must leave a comment on this blog as to why you want the flashlight and how you’d use it in a hiking or camping environment. Second, if you have a Facebook page, you can share this blog post on your page. You must then come back here and post a second comment saying you posted it on Facebook. Third, if you have a Twitter account, you can share this blog post on Twitter. Be sure to include @LiveFreeAndHike and @511Tactical in your post to get credit. And yes, you guessed it, come back here and post a third and final comment stating you posted on Twitter. So, in order to get all three entries to count, you must post three comments. Please follow the instructions as it makes my life easier when picking a winner! All entries must be in by May 6th. I will choose a winner via random.org soon after. Good luck! 

Check out 5.11 Tactical's other great flashlights here!

Check out 5.11 Tactical's Facebook page here!

The clip allows the flashlight to fit nicely in my hiking pants, cargo pocket...

...as well as a convenient pouch in my pack!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"UP"...A Book Review!

Earlier this month, the book UP: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure hit bookstore shelves. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy which was very helpful to me since I’m a slow reader, so it gave me a head start to read it and write a review while all the exciting “launch” stuff is going on.

The Book Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure

I’m sure many of you out there are very familiar with the author of this book as well as the main character. Patricia Ellis Herr and her daughter, Alex, (as well as her youngest daughter, Sage), are very active members of the New England hiking forums and there are very few members of Views From The Top or the MWObs Forum that don’t know their names or their remarkable achievements. Alex, at a very young age, summitted all 48, 4,000 footers in New Hampshire with her mother, Trish, and the hiking community followed along on their journey through their blog and forum posts. Trish ultimately wrote a memoir about it, which became “UP”!

Trish and Alex on Mount Lafayette in March of 2010. Picture Courtesy of Trish Herr

Trish does a great job capturing the reader right from gate as she walks through a highly intense situation on Mount Tom involving a violent thunderstorm that she and her two daughters had to endure on one of their trips. From there, she starts at the beginning of their story, explaining how the two of them took on New Hampshire’s highest peaks, not really having climbed a large mountain before. Most chapters are filled with the interesting details of memorable hikes that they accomplished to finish the 48, all having significance during their incredible journey. As a hiker, I found these chapters a lot of fun to read as I’ve set foot on many of the same paths that she was describing, and the ones I hadn’t, I’m determined to set foot on one day.

Other chapters, one in particular, were not about the actual hiking portion, but were about teaching Alex the real dangers that can come with hiking these, sometimes, unforgiving mountains. The chapter entitled, “Mistakes Can Have Serious Consequences” is a moving chapter where her husband, Hugh, has a sit down family meeting with the girls and tells them of the tragic events on a hike up to Mount Washington many years prior. A trip that turned bad due to weather and ultimately, Hugh lost his legs and one rescuer lost his life. Trish illustrates this moment very well and the reader ends up being drawn into the situation, hoping that the girls take the very important lesson, “respect the mountains and know when to turn back” to heart, as Trish and Hugh were doing at the time. Alex is put to the test on a later hike up Mount Moosilauke and demonstrates good judgment to turn back…

     "We’re now perhaps two hundred yards from the summit, an easy five- or ten-minute walk if the wind weren’t behaving in such a contrary manner. I know full well, we’re going to abort, but I want to give Alex the courtesy of making the decision herself.

     "We’re very close to the summit now. Are you okay to continue, or do you want to turn back?” I ask, prepared to exercise my veto power should she make the wrong choice.

      Alex hesitates for a literal second, then answers, “Turn back!”

      Excellent. My daughter has good sense..."

It’s clear, from this point on, that Alex has listened to her parents and learned what some adult hikers, have hard time learning…knowing when to turn back!

Alex, on the summit of Mount Washington in March of this year! Picture Courtesy of Trish Herr

I believe Trish’s writing style is very unique and I enjoyed how she told the story very much. She uses emotion that is easily identifiable and translates to the reader well. I have a daughter myself now, so maybe it was easy for me to relate with her. I kept asking myself what I would do in the situations that she was faced with throughout the book. You see, Trish wasn’t just faced with “physical” obstacles regarding hiking the Whites with a little girl. She was also faced with explaining to her daughter why wild animals get sick and why people don’t go out to rescue them. She was faced with being out on secluded trails alone with her daughter and dealing with the potential threat of dangerous strangers approaching (not that she came across any “dangerous strangers”, but with a young one on the trail, she understandably had her guard up). She was faced with the task of ensuring her daughter was well educated in her gear (including winter gear) and knew how to use it alone, heaven forbid something happened to Trish while they were out. These huge feats were only a few things that Trish dealt with throughout the story.

Alex is quite the character as well. The fact that she’s such a young girl and made the decision to hike these mountains on her own (Trish never pushed her, Alex always made the decision to go hiking) really shows the motivating drive within her. Aside from being a hiker, however, she’s absolutely a wildlife lover. A few times throughout the book, she was faced with dilemmas regarding wildlife being sick or dying. Even a small bumble bee, dying on the summit of Mount Bond stole her attention and caused her to downplay the beauty of the views and the uniqueness of their remote location. Something so small may not affect most, but to this little girl with a huge heart, it was the most important part of the day and the bee received her full sympathy.

Alex and Sage on a Blue Bird day on Mount Isolation in February of this Year! Picture Courtesy of Trish Herr

My favorite part of the book, without a doubt, was Trish and Alex’s run in with the Rocky Branch Grouse! Now, if you’ve ever been on the NH hiking forums, you’ve heard of this legendary and mean-spirited bird, which is notorious for terrorizing (in a funny way) hikers on the Rocky Branch Trail. Trish and Alex had the pleasure (or displeasure) of meeting this winged menace! She does such an awesome job of describing the encounter; she had me laughing out loud…

      “The grouse has edged closer to us during our few seconds of commiseration while continuing to walk back and forth across the path. It keeps one red eye fixed on me while it bobs along, and its loud chatter informs me that it Is Not Afraid. It is telling me that it can beat the crap out of me if it really wants to. I believe it.”

UP: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure is not simply a hiking a book or an account of trip reports for different peaks. Sure, hiking plays a huge supporting role in the book, but really, I feel the book is more about a parent, teaching her strong, young daughter, how to be an individual; how to use good judgment and make wise decisions. Trish absolutely accomplished this. In turn, Alex did something that many adults only dream of doing. She set foot on 48 of New Hampshire’s highest mountain summits! Really an extraordinary accomplishment! This book was truly a joy to read and makes me want to take on the same challenge with my daughter, when she’s Alex’s age!

Trish, Alex and Sage. Picture Courtesy of Clay Dingman

Peakbagging List Accomplishments

NH48, 4000 Footers: To date, both Alex and Sage have completed the NH48. Alex was 5 when she started and finished at the age of 6 in 2009. Sage was 4 when she started and finished at the ripe old age of 5 in 2011!

Winter NH48, 4000 Footers: Alex has recently completed her Winter NH48 this year at the age of 9!

High Pointing Club: Both Alex and Sage have high pointed 39 states (if I counted correctly) and have only 11 to go!

52 With a View: Sage is working on 52WAV and has 11 under her belt!

Trailwrights: Alex is working on Trailwrights and has 58 under her belt!

Both girls recently came up with a new list called the “Terrifying Twenty-Five”! It’s very cool. Check it out when you have a moment! http://www.trishalexsage.com/p/terrifying-twenty-five.html

You can keep up to date with Trish, Alex and Sage  and on their blog at: http://www.trishalexsage.com/

Also, Trish is very active on Facebook. Stop by her Facebook page and “Like” it at: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaEllisHerr

Trish tweets @PatriciaHerr : https://twitter.com/#!/PatriciaHerr

Great interview with the girls on EKP Adventures: Here

Great book signing report on Ramblings: Here

Upcoming Book Signings:

April 25th - Water Street Books in Exeter, NH at 7pm
April 28th - Father Roger Bilodeau Community Center in Lincoln, NH at 7pm
May 19th - Bethlehem Public Library in Bethlehem, NH at 1pm
May 31st - Somerville Public Library, Central Branch in Somerville, MA at 7pm


Monday, April 16, 2012

My First 5k...........DONE!!!

The morning of my first 5K seemed to come very quickly since I felt like I just started training not too long ago. As many of you know, I registered to run the Out of Hibernation 5k Road Race which is put on by my Masonic Lodge, St. John’s #1 in Portsmouth, NH. All the proceeds went to a great cause, the Seacoast Family Food Pantry of NH!

It was a great morning to run a race. It was cool but sunny, perfect weather to run in. Also, my longtime buddy, Pat, volunteered to run the race with me. He’s run a lot of races, including half marathons, so this 5K would be a breeze for him.

My bib number 115

The night before, they had registration open at the Lodge, so I swung by and picked up my bib and shirt. My bib number was 114 and seemed pretty lucky if I do say so myself! The shirts were really nice this year, being a white, higher-quality, poly tee that displayed the race logo on the front and all the generous sponsors on the back.

Me stretching out on race morning!

The start of the race!

All the runners convened at the starting line at 9am sharp. I worked my way to the back of the pack since I knew I was a slow runner compared to a majority of the people there. Waiting for the starting horn seemed to take forever, but when it sounded, I turned my music on and was off. Jill, Lylah and Kristen (Pat’s wife) were on the sidewalk cheering us on.

My buddy, Pat, leading the pack! Photo from http://outofhibernation5k.com/

It was tough to find my pace at the start of the race. I found myself wanting to run faster along with everyone else. However, I recall a lot of people telling me that I should run my own run, just like when you hike your own hike. I should try to zone out everyone else and focus on my own pace. I did so, and was on my way!

Me, on South Street!

I recall making the turn onto Court Street which is pretty flat and you can see all the way down to the river. Way ahead was a huge pack of runners, which my friend Pat was in stride with. This part was a little demotivating, knowing I was so far behind the bulk of the people. However, I tried not to let it get to me and kept moving.

 My baby cheering me on!

As I kept my pace slow for the first mile, I started passing people who had stopped to walk along the way. My goal when running is to not stop to walk. I’d rather run slow for the entire race than run fast and have to stop for short walks. There’s nothing wrong with stopping to walk, it just doesn’t work for me. I can never seem to pick my momentum back up. Now that I was passing some people, I felt as though I was gaining ground. Even though it wasn’t about competition, it just made me feel good...So for mile #2, I picked up my pace!

Approaching the finish line!

Halfway up South Street, at the intersection with Miller Street, Jill, Lylah and Kristen were on the sidewalk cheering as I approached. Lylah was holding a big sign that said, “Run Daddy Run” in her BOB Stroller that made me smile and once again, motivated me to keep moving.

Me, near the finish!

Just after this intersection was the South Street hill which is long and grueling. This is where I saw a lot of people slow down and start to walk. Lucky for me, my house is on a hill, so running and training in my neighborhood requires me to run hills every time I head out. This hill was not any worse than the hills in my training routes, so I was able to push right up it!

At the end of mile #2, there was a water station. I was definitely excited for this and gladly grabbed a cup. However, I found out quickly how hard it is to drink and run at the same time! While in stride, I took a gulp and most of it went right up my nose! I did swallow a little bit of water but figured there wasn’t much longer to go so there was no need to inhale more water than needed!

Pat and I after the race!
Once I circled around to Middle Street, I knew I was close to finishing off the 5K loop. Once again, I picked up my pace and was able to pass a few more people while doing it. The Lodge came in sight and I knew I was going to finish my first 5K. When I ran across the finish line, I felt a huge feeling of accomplishment. My buddy Pat was waiting there. He shook my hand and congratulated me on my first 5K! Jill, Lylah and Kristen made their way over as well and we all hung out and waited for the results to be posted.

My family on race day!

Pat ran an incredible race and came in #37 out of 239 runners. I, on the other hand, didn’t place as well at #181, but I don’t care. I finished and had fun doing it. That’s all that matters to me! I hope to run some more 5K’s soon. In fact, I’m already thinking about possibly upping my distance to a 10K race…maybe for Portsmouth’s Market Square Days!

Me, listed at #181 (and proud of it!)

Pat, listed at #37

I wanted to throw out a big THANKS to my buddy Pat and his wife, Kristen for coming to keep us company at the Road Race. Also, I wanted to THANK Jill and Lylah for the support and seeing me through to my goal of finishing my first 5K.

Me, with a post 5K, IPA!

Also, I have to mention, Pat made it onto the front of the Out of Hibernation 5K Road Race website with an awesome action photo. You can see it posted here: http://outofhibernation5k.com/


Friday, April 13, 2012

Wish Me Luck!

I'll be running my first 5K tomorrow morning in Portsmouth! Wish me luck!



Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Book UP: An Awesome Interview and a Great Book Signing!

This past week, author, Patricia Ellis Herr's newly published book, UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure was released to store shelves. I was lucky and received an early copy from her to read and review. It's a wonderful book and I should have a review out soon.

In the meantime, however, I want to point out a few things that are going on! Trish and her daughters did an extremely comprehensive and detailed interview for The Hippo, a great local New Hampshire publication in the Manchester area. This full interview (text and pics) are available on my friend's (Dan and Meena) blog, EKP Adventures! Here's a link to the specific interview on this blog. Have fun reading it, because it's awesome!

Alex on Mount Adams, Picture Taken From Dan Szczesny Blog, EKP Adventures

Also, my buddy, Mark, recently went to a book signing that Trish and her daughters did down at the Harvard Coop Bookstore. He did a really great trip report on the signing and posted it on his blog, Ramblings! Here's a link to the specific book signing report!

Trish's book UP, displayed at the Harvard Coop Bookstore, picture taken from Mark Truman's blog, Ramblings

Trish, Alex and Sage at the book signing, picture taken from Mark Truman's blog, Ramblings

Trish and her daughters have a blog here (www.trishalexsage.com), where you can get all the latest information regarding their book tour and signing events. Also, she is very active on Facebook Page (and sometimes has giveaway opportunities to win copies of the book). Don't forget to like her FB page!

Trish, Alex and Sage will appear in the following locations and dates as part of their tour:
Water Street Books in Exeter, NH on April 25 at 7 p.m.
Father Roger Bilodeau Community Center in Lincoln, NH on April 28 at 7 p.m.