Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014

Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014

Thursday, March 5, 2015

12 Miles

I ended up spending the night at the ambulance last night since it was so late, but I was up around 6am to come home. I decided to do one of my usual runs from home into Conway and Madison and back. I was planning to take it easy, so I didn't push it. Never looked at my time. Just enjoyed running and the view. The roads were mostly dry except for two very short stretches. Finished up with 12.1 miles at 7:33/mi pace which was a lot faster than I thought I was going. Very surprised, but I think it was just the mostly dry roads and long downhill section. My calves are still pretty sore, and my body is screaming at me to take a rest day, so that's what tomorrow will be. The big snowshoe race is on Saturday, and, although I will be lucky to even be in the top 5, I still want to run the best race I can. (I don't think I will stand a chance against a former World Mountain Running champion. LOL.) My legs are needing the break; I can feel it. I'll just use that time to take the dogs for a walk and run a few errands before John comes home at 2:30.
I got some really good news today that I'll have to share at a later date (since I was told to keep my mouth shut, and I don't know who's reading this), but it motivated me to actually cook tonight. That is a really rare occurrence these days since I'm mainly just cooking for myself... and I'm lazy. I made John teriyaki chicken and then spent an hour making myself thai coconut chicken soup. I didn't eat until after 9pm, but it was worth it. It turned out really good and had a nice kick. Maybe I'll start cooking for myself more often now, like once a month instead of once every 3 months. Ha ha.
My dinner, eaten standing up using my elegant table, the pellet stove. LOL.
(The double lighthouse thing is a total coincidence.)

Short Day

I have a feeling this week is going to be a short mileage week. I ended up snowblowing my driveway this morning at 4am instead of getting on the treadmill. I didn't need to snowblow it to get out, but I also didn't want to leave that layer of wet snow for it to melt and then freeze into ice overnight. Got in 2.9 mile ski on the Mountain Division Trail at lunch since it was so nice out. I wanted to make it an even 3 miles, but I literally ran out of time. Made it back to work exactly on the dot AGAIN. It's worth cutting it close on days like today. The sun felt so good. The rest of the day ended being entertaining. I had to reboot our server to reinstall Carbonite and purposely didn't tell my boss I was going to do it. I may be evil, but I wanted to see if his predicted reaction would ensue. And sure enough, it did. As soon as I shut it down, I could hear stomping up above and a panicked voice yelling for me that Platinum had just crashed. I was chuckling to myself the whole time. It's a chiropractic clinic; you can live without a computer to treat patients for 5 minutes. Except, it lasted about 2 hours. Oops. Windows was all rebooted and asked me for the password. Um, what password? No idea. Now, my boss was in full-on panic mode. This was very entertaining. He found what he thought was the password. Didn't work. I spent another hour down in the basement trying every single known password we use until he realized he had written down the correct password originally but accidentally wrote two numbers backwards. I found this whole thing comical since most days are so boring; I needed the entertainment. So everything appeared fine... until my coworker realizes Platinum isn't working right on her computer since the reboot. So that gets shut down while she's on the phone with customer service for another hour only to find out the problem was all due to her "Number Lock" key. Pretty funny stuff. Gotta find the fun somehow in that place.
At 6pm on the dot, I bolted out of there hoping to get some sort of run in before my on-call shift started at 7pm. That usually means nothing more than 3 miles, so I decided to hit Haley Town Rd again for a short 5k run. I walked down the tracks from my car to the road, take one step and then realize that it's pitch black dark. I reach up to my forehead. No headlamp. Damn. Oh well. No time to go back. And not only that, I wasn't wearing my reflective jacket either. I only had two small pieces of reflective fabric on my shirt, and that was it. I thought, "F*ck it," and carried on. No time to warm up, so I just went off fast, 1.6 out, turned around and ran 1.5 back to make it a 5k in 19:58. I had to step off to the side about 4 times during the road to ensure I wasn't hit by car since I wasn't visible. I don't think it slowed me much, but I felt like that run should have been faster. Oh well.
Headed home with just enough time to shower before getting called into the ambulance at 8:20pm for a transfer to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. I always seem to end up in Rochester lately. Easy enough transfer since it was short and NOT snowing. I even took a happy selfie to show I was feeling the opposite of  2 weeks ago when I was in Rochester hating life. Couldn't get my selfie shadow out of the picture, though. Ha ha.
I am a happy camper this time. Yay!
Made it back to the base just after midnight, wrote my report and now at 1:23am, I'm writing this ridiculous blog post instead of going to bed. Tomorrow's run will probably suck now, but I can just blame it on lack of sleep. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chocorua Again

Monday, I decided to take it easy. Short 2-mile ski on the Mountain Division Trail at lunch and then a 5-mile treadmill run at home after work. I felt pretty good, not even sore from Sunday's race. However, I woke up this morning to sore calves, but I decided to do the run I had planned anyway. It was my typical run on the dirt roads in Chocorua. The roads are plowed, but still covered in snow so I wore microspikes, as usual. It's going to feel so nice hanging those things up when the snow melts. Footing was decent in most places, but still a little icy in spots. I ran 12.5 miles at a 7:36/mi. I actually felt good other than the sore calves. The weather was beautiful so I had to take the typical "tourist" Chocorua Lake/Mountain photo when I finished my run.
Later on, John and I skied at Black Mt for a few hours. The conditions have been so awesome this year that it's making me feel like a good skier, even though I'm not. Definitely makes it more fun, though.
It's snowing now, and I'm hoping we don't get too much of it. If we do, I'll have to snowblow at 4am in the morning instead of getting my run in. I'm on call at the ambulance tomorrow night, so I may only get in a quick 3 miles in the hour between jobs. All up in the air right now.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Shoe to the Clouds Snowshoe Race 2015

This is the 3rd year this snowshoe race has been held and my 3rd time running it. I try not to think about it too much beforehand because if I do, I'll remember how hard it is and start worrying about it. I  think I was more focused on missing Kingman Farm the night before that it gave my brain an outlet to put the Mt Washington Auto Rd torture out of mind. I actually woke up Sunday morning feeling really good. This was notable since I've had a few snowshoe races this season where I wasn't feeling 100%. And since I was feeling so good, I made the decision to wear tights! In case no one has noticed, I DO NOT wear tights. The last time I did was at Snowshoe Nationals last year, and I was so horrified by the photos that I vowed never to wear them in a race again. I complained so much about it that following week that my friends started calling me "Hippo" due my constant, "Look at how huge my hips are! Oh my god!" So yeah, no tights. But for some reason, I said to myself, "Dammit. I'm wearing tights today," so I did. They weren't too bad, but I still don't like them. Back to my baggy Pearl Izumi pants next week. :)
I dropped John at friend's house on the way up to Great Glen Trails; this would be too long of a day for him to tag-along. The sun was out, and the mountain looked beautiful, so I was psyched to be headed up it (well halfway, at least). Shortly after I arrived, Kevin Tilton, Jonathan Miller and I headed out for a short warm up on snowshoes. We had planned 2 miles but ended up doing a loop that brought us back at 1.85; I knew I would be running to the start line which was across the road and right at the base of the auto road, so I wasn't sweating it. But I sure as hell was sweating; the temps were rising, and it was warmer up at 3500' than it was at the base, so I decided to stick with my usual two light layers. It turned out to be the right choice. Once back at the lodge, I realized I was running short on time, so I quickly ditched my extra layer and ran .7 miles to the start. I arrived just after the skiers started, so it was right to the start line then we were off.
The last two years have been kind of a guessing game here. Go off fast or save something for the auto rd. Well, I had no choice, since Abbey Wood started off really fast and was right over my left shoulder. I was a little panicked at first because it was really fast, but we were right behind Jonathan Miller, whom I've been racing close to the last few races, so I thought maybe this was good. Plus, the footing is hard-packed, wide and groomed which meant for running fast. But then we started passing people we don't normally pass, and Andrew Drummond was way too close, so I was back in worry-mode immediately thinking I was making a huge mistake. But I kept pushing. Right off the bat, Josh Fields was playing leap frog with Jonathan and me; despite his supposed lack of training, he looked pretty freakin' strong. I didn't dare look over my shoulder yet to see where Abbey was at this point; I wasn't ready to face the light. She's typically a much stronger mountain runner than I am. The run on the Great Glen trails is mostly small ups and downs, nothing too difficult, and it came to an end pretty quickly. Down the last hill to the flat with the auto rd in view. I was scared. Jonathan Miller and I hit the uphill together, but I ended up falling in line behind him, and that's where I would end up staying the rest of the race. He had a good run up the road and ended up beating me by well over a minute. Once we were up the hill just a bit, I finally took my first, of about 20, looks back. I could see Abbey just approaching the bottom of the hill. Way too close for my comfort, so I decided to push a little harder, and as soon as I hit the first mile marker, I felt like I was going to puke. This never subsided the rest of the race. I could have easily stopped at any point, walked to the side, puked and then just kept going. I was on the verge the whole 2.5 miles to the finish. I ended up catching and passing Josh at one point, but he was doing the run-walk method and was able to push past me when he started running again. I would continue to gain on him every time he walked, but once he started running again, his lead would grow. It was like this the entire race. Jonathan just got farther and farther away. I kept looking back to see who was behind and no longer saw Abbey or Phil Erwin, who hadn't been too far back at the start of the climb. There were two guys gaining on me, one who would quickly pass me and continue strong up the road. The other guy I had passed towards the middle of the lower trails. He caught and passed me with just under a mile to go, but then slowed down, staying steps ahead of me until the last quarter of a mile when he just tanked and dropped way back behind me again. I had been eyeing my watch the last two miles since I had planned on a PR and was hoping for a course record, too. I knew I was right on the money even if I slowed a little (which I did). I was familiar enough with the road that I knew I was almost to the finish and normally, I would give it a good kick in, but I was running slower than a walking pace and couldn't bring myself to go any faster. I saw Josh cross the finish line and soon enough, I did, too, and almost had to step to the side to throw up. I was that close. 1st woman and 7th overall. I checked my watch to see 1:05:57 (official time would be 1:05:53). I couldn't believe it. I snagged a PR by 7min46sec AND the women's course record by 5min20sec. SWEET. And no wonder I wanted to throw up.
Photo by Gianina Lindsey

I kept walking up to the group hanging by the van with our drop bags and talked to Kevin, Eric Narcisi and Andrew Drummond for a minute before grabbing my bag and walking farther up the auto road to change clothes in "privacy" (I changed right in the middle of the auto rd). Once I came back down, I saw Abbey and Sam who had ended up walking a lot of the auto road together. They were in good spirits, as always, but were starting to get cold since they had no drop bag and immediately started their run back down. I spoke, briefly, to Hilary McCloy, who had finished 3rd woman, and then started my run back down. I was thankful for warm clothes at this point because I had cooled down enough that I was starting to get really cold. I stopped a few times to take some pictures of Robin, Diane and Lisa and then ran pretty fast trying to catch up with Abbey and Sam. I hauled ass and finally caught up with them at mile marker 1 and ran with them to bridge where we ran into Kevin and Eric. As soon as I stopped running, I realized I was bonking hard. I started to feel dizzy and all I could think about was nachos and beer at the Moat. The walk back to the lodge was excruciating. I didn't think I was going to make it. I needed food STAT. Eric Narcisi and I got in line for our free soup. Eric had forgotten his free soup ticket and was met full-on with Soup Nazi. No joke. The girl at the register was trying to be nice about it, but then the kitchen lady came flying around the corner, looks at Eric and yells (literally), "NO TICKET! NO SOUP!" I was dying laughing inside, but also shocked since he had obviously just run the race and this wasn't a Seinfeld episode. Fortunately, Kim, who was in charge of the whole event, quickly came to the rescue and fixed the whole soup/ticket issue. Eric was now allowed to have his 6oz of tomato soup free of charge. I'm still dying laughing as I type this. I needed more food than the soup, so I looked around for more free stuff and grabbed about 6 packs of saltine crackers to go with it. I ended up paying for a much-needed coffee and a rice crispy treat. It was right in front of me and was one of the cheapest things I could find. I sat with Kevin, Josh and Eric for what seemed like forever. I think it was over 1.5 hours before the awards started. I was glad I didn't wait for the Moat to eat or I would have passed out. Awards were announced and FINALLY, after all of these years that I waited to win a pair of Dion's, I finally did!! Of course, after I broke down and bought a pair 4 months ago. Oh well, doesn't hurt to have a second pair. And for the second year in a row, I got a comped entry into the Mt Washington Road Race. I've already registered and paid, but I will be super psyched when I get that $80 back in my pocket. Oh, and I snagged two more fleece blankets to add to my Mt Washington collection. I ended up winning a Mt Washington Road Race guaranteed entry in the raffle and promptly handed that right over to Josh Fields, whom I knew needed one.
Top 3 women. Abbey Wood, Hilary McCloy and me. Photo by Meg Skidmore.

Once the awards were finally over, it was time to head to the Moat. Eric Narcisi rode with me so that his wife wouldn't have to drive all the way back up to Great Glen Trails after shopping in North Conway. She just met us at the restaurant. I had promised Eric my most depressing playlist, consisting of 2 songs on repeat, for the ride down, but I failed to follow through. I know he's still disappointed. We met up with the acidoticRACING group, plus Lisa Ransom's friends and family and had the back of the bar all to ourselves. I ordered a 20oz beer that I drank 3/4 of  before I got any food, so I was feeling pretty good. The Moat is always a good time. Picked up John from his friend's house after that and finally made it home. Longer day than I thought, but it was definitely a good one. I needed the recharge before heading back to work on Monday. Total mileage for the day ended up at 12.1 miles to make 62.4 miles for the week. No all out long runs, but a lot of shorter ones to make up the distance.
Next weekend is the last race in the Series, The New Hampshire and Northeast Snowshoe Championship Race. And based on the pre-registrants, it is going to be competitive. I don't see a win with this one, but I'd like to pull off top 3 for the women. Even that might be a stretch, but that's ok. I could use the competition to bring me back to reality a little bit. Plus, I LOVE running at Castle in the Clouds. Love, love, love it there. And the after-party (More Moat Beer!!!) will be a good time. It looks like I have the Granite State Snowshoe Series locked up for the women's win, so that's exciting. Then it's time to do some road racing for a month or so before the Mountain Series starts.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Today was just a really easy 4.5 mile treadmill run at 6:58/mi pace. 1% incline the entire run. I didn't want to do any elevation since I have the Shoe to the Clouds Race tomorrow.
I'm still bummed I missed the Kingman Farm race tonight, but John had a great birthday party. It was at his gymnastics center. I love parties there because parents can play. I might have played too hard, though, since I was running around in there like I was 12, instead of 38. The round offs hurt, and I'll probably be sore from the rings and the trampoline flips. I just hope it doesn't affect tomorrow's race.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Haley Town Road

I originally had plans to run Mt Kearsarge North with some other people, but after one of them backed out, I decided to run close to work after I was out at noon. I'm really short on time for a run Fridays since I get out of work at noon, and my son comes home at 2:30. Kearsarge would have been cutting it close.
I ended up on Haley Town Rd just over the Maine border from New Hampshire. I've driven past it a million times but never once have I been down it. I was kind of excited to do a "blind" run. I headed out from the Maine Visitors Center, and after a short stretch on the snowmobile trail, I stepped out on dry, paved road. Aaah. I decided not to pay attention to how fast I was going and to just run hard. I felt like I was putting in a decent effort but heavy and slow at the same time. I just knew I was going to be disappointed when I looked at my pace after I finished. The hills were moderate, but I thought for sure I was going to be around 7:45/mi pace. I kept it on for the whole run and completely surprised myself when I saw I had run a 6:43/mi average pace. Not bad. Slower than I ran Boston Prep, but I wasn't racing, so I really shouldn't compare. Now, I just need to get some distance back in there.
Tomorrow will be a super easy, short run, probably on the treadmill. My legs have been junk for a few days now, and since I refuse to take a zero, I'm just going to do something light. Shoe to the Clouds Race is on Sunday. Not sure I'm ready for the elevation gain, but I'll still put in my best effort.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Corridor 15

I decided to go somewhere different this morning, so I drove down to Tamworth to hit up the Corridor 15 snowmobile trail for a snowshoe run. I was feeling pretty beat after yesterday's runs, but I enjoyed just being out there all alone for a very peaceful, quiet run; not a soul in sight. I ran to the intersection with the completely unbroken trail up Bayle Mt and then back. Very deceptive on how much elevation there is until you realize you are running almost entirely downhill (minus a few places) for the whole way back. 8 miles in 1:12:18 with 1347 ft of elevation gain.
Corridor 15 where I turned around