Saturday, May 31, 2008


5-yr-old granddaughter Abbie, eating supper with us, saw a clothespin on the counter next to the table and clamped it onto her nose. I guess she didn't like supper (note bowl pushed away, by her elbow...)
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A bike ride was on my schedule. But a look at the weather page changed that: 70% possibility of thunderstorms, possibly severe, tornado watch throughout the day. When the wind whipped up, I brought Journey inside off her tie-out. When the rain started, I brought out my sewing machine.

I made a nylon sleeping-bag liner to replace the heavier, bulkier fleece one I made during my backyard campout in April. I made a couple of stuff sacks. I started to make a backpack but decided that was my delusions of grandeur kicking in. I've been buying nylon fabric of various weights and textures on the Wal-Mart $1-a-yard table. I've actually gotten some good stuff.

Plus, I cleaned the campground restrooms as usual, and hung out at the entrance gate from 3-7p.m.

Not bad for a bike ride gone bad. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice. Tomorrow I'll do that ride. After I clean the restrooms. After I go to church.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

Thumbsucking lesson from Grandpa.

By George, I think she's got it!

Ahhh, objective achieved... thumbs and Grandpas rock.

So do big sisters.

And Great-Grandmas. The oldest and youngest members of the Benedict side of the family: Ellinor Learned Benedict (87)holding Sarah Brecken Hamilton (7 days.)

Four generations in the direct family line:
Ellinor Benedict, Ellinor Hamilton (er, that would be me, aka Ellie) holding Sarah Hamilton, Jonathan Hamilton holding Abigail Hamilton.

Hand-in-hand on the Life Trail: Great-Grandma Benedict and Sarah Hamilton.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PICTURES OF SARAH, one day old

My husband Steve was hooting like an owl. Sarah was trying to figure out what this new grown-up trick was.

Sarah with her mommy -- our daughter-in-law Jamie.

And with Daddy, our son Jon.

Jon's hand with Sarah's.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Our son Jon and his wife Jamie welcomed their second daughter into the world Monday, May 19, 2008, at 2:52a.m.
Happy parents and new daughter, a mere 2-1/2 hours after Jamie started labor!! Sarah weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

When I first held her, the next day, I started crying and kept saying to her, "Is it really you???"

Grandma and her newest granddaughter.

Every girl loves our son Jon, especially when he's her daddy.

In the late afternoon, Abbie came in, brought after school by her Grandma Judy, and I got to hold my two youngest granddaughters together.
Abbie is an "old hand" at being a big sister in this picture, having been the first family member to hold her after Mommy and Daddy the day before.

Abbie chose Sarah's first name, insisting from the moment she knew there was a baby that it was Sarah. She would not entertain the possibility that it might be a boy or that there could be any other name for her. Jon found her middle name. It's Scottish (like the Hamilton ancestry) and means "freckled."

So we now have 4 grandchildren: Collin, 12; Gracie (Grayson), 9; Abbie, 5; and Sarah, now not quite 48 hours old. Then there's Hevan(pronounced ay-vahn): he's the 5-month-old son of Cecile, who came to us as an exchange student from France in 1997 and instantly became our daughter. That makes her husband Joachim our son-in-law, and their son Hevan our grandson.

Sarah. I'm never going to let you go -- I want to hold you in my arms forever. I get to see you every week or two until Christmas. Whatever made me think I might rather have been hiking?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


SavageMan, that is.

Last summer, in New Hampshire, I put almost all running and biking on hold to hike in the White Mountains, reinvented myself as a backpacker, and my life changed.

I need to keep reminding myself that I have been drooling to do SavageMan since it was first conceived (not even born yet) in 2006. Had it not been for granddaughter Sarah (who is still waiting in the wings, yet to make her appearance), I'd be on the Trail now, but missing out on SavageMan yet again, and also without my friend Sally, who had decided she wouldn't be able to go but has now changed her mind and is preparing to go with me next year. So it's working out that I'm getting the best of everything.

Now, living again near the Appalachian Trail (northern Virginia,) I've got all this biking and running to do when I'd rather be backpacking. Sally is out on a shakedown trip for the weekend with her son, complete with brand-new down sleeping bag.

I couldn't go, not because of training, but because of work. Weekends are, of course, the busiest part of working at a campground. And so far, I haven't been scheduled to have 2 consecutive days off, so I couldn't do an overnight anyway, and biking/running is something I can fit in around my work hours, even the split shifts I have 3 days a week.

So, I have an agenda:
  • Discuss my schedule to get a midweek "weekend."
  • Take an occasional break from training to go backpacking.
  • Remember this is the Year of SavageMan, not the Year of the AT.
  • Go to Harper's Ferry, WV, about 30 miles from here, to the AT Headquarters, to get info and get psyched (as if I'm not already.)
  • After SavageMan, start hitting the Trail -- we'll be here till Christmas!

Saturday, May 03, 2008



This is the escort vehicle.... cool, huh?

I had neither expected nor trained for a 10K, but when we arrived 3 days ago at Candy Hill Campground, my employer/young friend presented me with a registration form, all excited and happy: "I got you this, it's a great big 10K and it's Saturday!" So I said, "Great, I'd love to run it, if I can start cleaning the bathrooms a little late that day...."

It was huge. 1000+ runners. The winners were from Kenya and Ethiopia. I've never seen such a big 10K. Here's the starting field, from the back of the pack, but you can't appreciate how many runners there are since it's flat.

It was a 4-lane street, and when the race director asked people who expected 50+ minutes to move to the left lanes, there was this mass migration:

I ran my first mile in 11:05, which was good, since I wasn't trained and planned on taking it easy the first couple miles. Second mile split showed 18:XX on my watch, GACKKKK, I didn't think I'd speeded up THAT much, that's gonna kill me right there. Slow down, kiddo. You're not trained. And you're kicking sleeping pills and didn't sleep last night. And you have a cold. You've run marathons and done Ironman's but you haven't run a 10K in 5 years. Slow down.

5K time: 30:xx by the clock. Jee-minetty, I did a 7:xx second mile and a 12:xx third? This is nuts.

Later I realized, the clocks did not, of course, match my watch/chip times. Watch times:

Mile 1: 9:23

Mile 2: 9:07

5K: 29:08

But I was looking at the clocks, not at my watch, so I was confused and didn't realize what a nice pace I was running, being tired and untrained and all.

Either there was no 4-mile marker or I missed it. At mile 5, I was at 50:26 (watch time.)

Somewhere between miles 3 and 4, I stopped to take this picture, since I wasn't trying for a time or an AG place.

It cost me a few seconds, but so what?

"So what?" turned out to be, it cost me a sub-1-hour 10K. My watch time at the finish was 1:00:12. And it's not even that exciting a picture. I should have left my camera in my pocket. Or in the car.

AG 4/6 (awards only 3 deep though), average pace 9:58. Not bad at all. But I'm not taking a camera during a race anymore. That sub-1-hour would have been very gratifying.

OTOH, it would have raised the dreaded question: What could I do if I trained????