Letter from a Board Member

Letter from a Board Member: Helene Sisti

By: Helene Sisti

Never-ever have I said, “I wish I skipped my run today.” Never have I thought, “I regret going for a run today.” There have been many times when I thought, “I need to go for a run,” or “I want to increase my mileage.” I think it is mostly about getting fresh air, moving my legs to get my heart pumping, and clearing my head -- not necessarily in that order. I’ve noticed a pattern with respect to when a run is imminent. If I go 3 days without exercise, my mood plummets. Negative events overshadow positive ones. It’s time to go for a run.

I have always been a bit of a thinker -- introverted and prone to reflection. Just like many runners are. Running gives you the chance to let your thoughts go. No need to think too hard about putting one foot in front of the other. This makes it different from many of the other sports I’ve done. Gymnastics was the first sport I really fell in love with. There were times I experienced the dreaded “mental block.” Where my mind prevented me from performing a trick I had done hundreds of times before. It sparked in me a deep and enduring interest in sport psychology. This includes the question, “Why do people run?”  My master’s thesis was on this very question. It was on the runner’s high, an idea that was first popularized in the 1990’s.

I like to run because it keeps me healthy. More time spent running means less time spent on the couch. It keeps me social. I like the easy conversation that happens when you run with people. Quiet pauses no longer seem awkward. You can take in the scenery. Focus on your breath. Listen to the sounds around you. 

Running motivates me to set goals. Having a goal on the horizon keeps me engaged. I especially like the energy I find at road races. It is supportive and encouraging as we all try to beat our own best. I always leave race day feeling uplifted and inspired. People of all ages, abilities and personal challenges are putting themselves out there to be better. I remember one race in particular when I was in high school. It was the first time I saw a blind person compete in the 100 meter dash. It was so awe inspiring. I run because without fail, it sets me on course for a positive reinforcement cycle. Set goals. Reach them. Repeat. 

I would sometimes see t-shirts at Track and Field meets that read something like, “Our sport is your sports punishment.” Every runner has encountered the person who replies to your running experience with some version of, “I only run if I’m late for the bus.” I’ve always been athletic, so I’ve done a few different sports. I played some club soccer. Most recently, there’s skiing and mountain biking. All of these sports are a lot of fun, but very different from the simple joy of going for a run. They each have several requirements – some combination of special equipment, the right weather, years of training, or a whole bunch of people. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to figure out the ideal dimensions of my next set of skis. How long? How wide? Downhill or all-mountain? Does all-mountain even exist, or is that just a marketing term? The same could be said of a new bike. 29-inch wheels or 27.5? Hard-tail or full suspension? New or used? Dropper seat? Women’s frame? Does that even matter? The buying options are endless as engineering continues to advance, and the prices keep pace. This is in sharp contrast to running. The equipment couldn’t be simpler. I need to remember only two words. Motion stability. That has guided my running shoe purchases for about two decades now. No need to check in on forums. No need to ‘pray for snow.’ No need to wait for the mud to dry out. No need to coordinate, plan, or even think too much at all. If you can tie your shoelaces, then you can go for a run.

Now that I’ve done my first half-marathon (thanks to the Upper Valley Running Club!), the question comes up, will I run a full marathon? I am guessing I probably will at some point. Right now, I have my eyes set on the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Woodstock. I am hoping to beat my last time. I am also looking forward to entering a few more trail races this summer and fall. I love being surrounded by nature and the attentional demands that come with trail running. The mountain, no matter how big or small, commands your attention. I also like the explosiveness that a steep vertical elicits. There are times it is so steep and so long, your humble body is forced to walk. But this too, I like. It gives me a chance to catch my breath and re-group for the next more manageable stretch. Then, there is the downhill. You can open up your stride and let the mountain carry you a bit. Again, you must keep focus on the constantly changing terrain beneath your feet. But, still, the mountain carries you. Your legs open up and your only job is to keep momentum, stay upright. As you breathe deeper, extends your arms for balance, and let your body go, it’s a pretty freeing feeling. My first (and only) trail race was the Farnum Hill last fall. I had heard that the course had a nice long downhill stretch at the end – about a mile. I was able to close the gap between myself and the runner in front of me, resulting in a win and free sweets from the apple orchard. 

I started running (and jumping and hurdling) when I was a freshman in high school. I found success in the sport and was recruited by colleges. It was an exciting time to receive recruiting letters in the mail and even more of a thrill to compete as part of a Division 1 program for four years. One of my teammates would go on to become a gold medal Olympian. Several others were contenders. Regardless of the medals, those 8 years on Track and Field teams were filled with the easy friendships that come when you are all doing something you enjoy side by side. It does not matter what else is going on in your life. I run because a good run with good people always makes the bad things less bad and the good things much better.  


Race Announcements

News & Announcements: May 2023

By: Robert "RJ" Jones

Racing News

We have both a NHGP race and a UVRS Race in May! 

Coming up first is the Cinco de Miles 5k in Bedford, NH May 7th!. You can still sign up here: https://www.millenniumrunning.com/cinco and don’t forget to indicate that you are part of UVRC to score us some points!

And we will be having a vanpool down and you can sign up or that here: https://secure.rec1.com/NH/city-of-lebanon/catalog?filter=c2VhcmNoPTI1NDAyNDQ=

And to quote Jim The NH Grand Prix is a team based competition with other running clubs across NH.  UVRC members that run should indicate they are a UVRC member when they sign up (one of the sign-up options at the bottom) for automatic scoring.  There is a prize for individuals who run in 5 of the 6 races so if you want that prize (possibly your face carved into Mt. Washington) and you did not run in Nashua you need to start now.  All runners, regardless of prizes, are encouraged.

And then a local favorite due to the beautiful views and ability to take a nice dip in Silver Lake is the BarnArts Race Around the Lake May 21st! If you aren’t part of the UVRS you can sign up for the race here: https://runsignup.com/Race/VT/Barnard/BarnArtsRaceAroundtheLake 

And there will likely be a vanpool for that as well so stay tuned for that!

Club News

Have you ever been out on the roads, surrounded by cars and other pedestrians and though “man I sure am tired of civilization, I want to run in nature!” Well, good news! We are in the process of merging with our good friends the Upper Valley Trail Runners and will be scheduling trail runs! Let us know (contact@uppervalleyrunningclub.org) if you’re interested in trail running, have suggestions for local trails, or would be interested in leading a run!

Club Announcements

Runner’s Night Out this month will be on May 8th 6:30 @ Hanover Ramuntos!

It’s never too early to get excited about something!! Your social committee is planning a Club Field Day June 10th so mark your calendar! It’ll be a day of yard games, outdoor sports, maybe even some yoga! 

Race Announcements

Upper Valley Running Series May Update

By: Geoff Dunbar

There was no race in the Upper Valley Running Series (UVRS) in April, but things are about to ramp up for the next couple of months. The next race is May 21st, the BarnArts Race Around the Lake 5K and 10K.

 That is followed by 2 races in June, and 1 in July. So get to training!

 The "Full Series Registration" option closed in April, so you can't register for the whole series at once anymore. However, no problem! As a UVRC member, you are automatically part of the UVRS for any of the races you run. So feel free to sign up for the races a la carte. For full series information, see our website.

Member Submission

Olympia, the Original Site of the Olympic Games

By: Lori Bliss Hill

Recently I traveled to Greece and toured the site of the official Olympic Games in Olympia. It was an amazing experience. A runner's dream. 

Below are a few pictures of the quarter-mile track, the archway where they would announce the athletes into the quarter-mile track, and of the starting line they found in the archeological dig. I got to run the track which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My proudest Strava upload to date. 

Off to the side of the track is the judges' area. I also stood at Hera`s Altar where the first Olympia flames were lit signifying the beginning of the games. 

When I was done I took a few small branches from the ancient olive tree next to the Temple of Zeus and wove myself a crown. We all know what those are used for.

Member Submission

Our Members Rock! Art Exhibition at AVA Art Gallery

By: Robert "RJ" Jones

Our club is full of incredible humans from all walks of life with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and stories! I want to celebrate the aspects of our lives that go beyond running (although running is of course important too) and highlight the cool things our members are doing in a new segment I call “Our Members Rock!” which is also a factually accurate statement. 

This time we are taking a look into the art world with member Harrison Halaska! Harrison is an oil painter whose works focuses on “meaningful pursuits: thinking about life and death, the act of painting, color and form, an appreciation for every day, nature, and philosophical wondering about what one should do vs. what one does” See a sample of his work below.

Paintings by Harrison Halaska, 2020-2023, will be on view, May 5 to June 3, at AVA Gallery and Art Center in the E.N. Wennberg Gallery as a FREE exhibition. Three other artists, Kathy Black and Michael Heffernan, and Susan Calza, will also have work on exhibition. There will be an opening reception on Friday, May 5, 5- 7 pm. For more details, visit AVA’s website at: https://avagallery.org/event/may-5-june-3-kathy-black-michael-heffernan-susan-calza-harrison-halaska/

A great opportunity to support the local arts and engage with the community in a unique and fun way! We look forward to the exhibition!

Member Submission

It's OK to Take a Break

By: Cara Baskin

At the end of February, I stood at the summit of Carter Dome, alone at sunset, 4.5 miles from my car in single digit weather, with frozen water, my phone battery on 1%, and a 1000 ft drop of ahead on slippery snow. That would have been fine, but I was in significant pain. It was one of few times I felt scared in the White Mountains. This moment was the culmination of several months of a frenzied attempt at personal redemption.

It’s OK to take a break. This is a sentiment I share with you, but mostly need to convince myself of. For most people, winter is the time to take it down a notch, or at least hang up the running shoes and slap on big scary skis. Many of us emerge alongside the peepers with renewed energy for spring training and summer races. I usually feel the jittery excitement of springtime too, and jump on a yearlong circadian roller coaster which tops out in absolute mania through the summer, flattening out sometime in October when I have to find my spandex. Last spring I never got a ticket to the ride. Stoke was nowhere to be found. I came up with excuses on the weekends. The weather isn’t great. I should be a good friend and socialize instead of training. I’m tired from walking all day at work. I’ll wait till my body tells me to go.

Spring came and went. My looming 100 miler got bigger and bigger. I tried to convince myself I wanted to do it, and that I should believe in myself more. Maybe I do have it in me! Maybe all my walking will count. Maybe ultra is a mindset. Maybe that one long run will be enough. It wasn’t. I DNFed the race and cried about it for a month. Not finishing my biggest goal of the year was like spilling beet juice on a new white shirt. It would never go away and I’d always have to explain what happened.

After my pity party, I finally got in line for the roller coaster. August wasn’t the ideal time to strap in for the churn and burn of the year’s first build, but not finishing my ultra lit a hot, hot fire to prove to myself I could still go far. I quickly turned my attention to the Grid, checking off 4000’ ft peaks in the White Mountains I intended to hike each month (i.e. experiencing all 48 of them in each month, but over time, not in a calendar year). In the next 7 months I hiked 169 peaks, in addition to racing a 50 miler, then running 50 miles across the Grand Canyon and back, supplementing with non-mountain runs, and climbing a total of 377,000 ft of vert.


In those months, my toes, arches, achilles, calves, every millimeter of both knees, my IT bands, quads, hamstrings, lower back, and bruises from tripping had their duets with my growing irritability. But, as long as the pains moved around, that was a green light. The fatigue was already so many layers deep and I kept getting slower, but I just wanted to make it to March, a month I had already “finished my peaks.” At the summit of Carter Dome, the top of my left foot raised a white flag and said, “no for real, stop.” That night my sister told me, “You can decide to rest or your body will decide for you. And if it decides for you, it will be longer.” I met pain in the middle and we shook on it. Well, I bargained. I’ll give you two weeks off and you let me ease back in for the rest of the month. No vert. I promise to be smarter in the future! Please? March hit me hard. I called it Operation Chill The F**** Out, a month of intentional rest time coinciding perfectly with forced injury recovery, zero peaks on the spreadsheet, planned travel, and COVID, to top it all off. I’m lucky the foot pain turned out to be bursitis, which was healed with a steady diet of Aleve. The rest of the month was spent physically removed from the mountains, forcing me to forget what a hill was and focus on sleeping, eating and watching entire seasons of short-term love on reality TV. Taking a break allowed me to completely unwind from my obsession of the past seven months. No more neurotically checking the weather, measuring routes, assessing trail conditions or timing daylight hours down to the minute with driving and hiking estimates. An incredible amount of stress I personally placed on my shoulders was removed. My muscles healed and my mood improved. My skin cleared and my irritability waned. My appetite changed and my emotional bandwidth broadened. I had time and energy to focus on my life and relationships. It was a month of shaking the puzzle pieces that had been jammed together, and letting them fall back into place.

My unplanned break last spring had forced me into a frenzy to prove what I was capable of the rest of the year. I don’t regret it. My planned break this spring will reimburse the energy necessary to work towards this year’s goals. Most of my aches are gone, some linger. I can sit and stand without holding my knees. Did I permanently skew the yearlong circadian rhythm? Did I overtrust in the magic of an underwhelming amount of rest? Maybe it wasn’t enough. Time will tell. I’m still proud of myself for recognizing the futility of going hard in March when I want to go hard in July.

It’s OK to take a break. It’s OK if you overdid it. A good friend told me, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” I agree. Then acknowledge you overdid it and give yourself rest and praise for doing it. You can also take a break if you didn’t overdo it. Or if you didn’t do it at all! If you’re tired, if life is stressful, if you’re focusing time on family or friends or work or art or just not running, take the break. Your body and future goals will thank you.

Runner Profile

Runner Profile: Amy Drapeau Olson

By: Matt Sherman

Name: Amy Drapeau Olson

Town: Lebanon

Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?

I was born in South Korea and am adopted. I grew up in northern Connecticut. I moved here from Boston for a new job and quality of life with my husband and oldest son. The easy access to the outdoors here was definitely a factor.

What do you do professionally?
I work in media relations as a Senior Media Relations Officer for the Office of Communications at Dartmouth. I field press inquiries and conduct proactive outreach about faculty research and expertise, and institutional news.

How long have you been running?

I ran one season of track in high school and then picked up running (recreationally) when I went to college in ‘92. I have been running pretty regularly ever since.

Why do you run?

It’s great exercise and a fun way to destress! And I love being outside.

Recent memorable moment while running?

A few months ago, I was running with my dog (an Australian shepherd mix) here in Lebanon and a snowy owl flew right in front of us on Meriden Road. It was about 6-7’ feet away from me and looked right into my eyes! It was unbelievable.

If you like to race, notable race moment? OR most memorable race?

One of my most memorable races was running the City2Surf in ‘97 while I was in grad school in Sydney, Australia. It’s a scenic, 14-km race that starts in the city and ends at Bondi Beach. The weather was absolutely spectacular that day and my best friend met me at the end of the race and we went out for donuts!

Training partners?

I don’t have any training partners but I participate in the weekly Saturday runs with UVRC members!

Cross training activities? 

I play tennis year-round on a few teams and also enjoy skiing and mountain biking with my husband and two boys. Some of my favorite places are Magic Mt. for skiing and Cady Hill in Stowe for riding.

Favorite local running route?

In the summer, I like running on the rail trail from CCBA to Mascoma Lake and back. In the winter, I like to run up Mount Support Road and down to Route 120 and back to Leb; it’s not the most scenic route but it’s always plowed and is usually not too icy.

Who is your running “idol”? 

I don’t really have a running “idol” but I think that Des Linden is pretty awesome. I just read her book, Choosing to Run: A Memoir (Dutton, April 2023). I also like the podcast, “Nobody Asked Us with Des and Kara.”

Why did you join UVRC? 

I thought it would be a great way to meet people who also love running.

The only running shoe for me is made by New Balance. Right now, I’m using Fresh Foam 1080s. I have tried other brands but New Balance works for me best.

Hot or cold weather runner? 

Either is fine.

What is your diet like?

I’m a vegetarian or technically a pescatarian, who eats dairy and eggs. And I have a soft spot for sweets!

Aside from running, what are your hobbies?

My hobbies include tennis, mountain biking, baking, gardening (perennials), and sewing.

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