Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014

Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Paul School 5K

I got up early to head down to Wakefield, NH for the Paul School 5K. Very low-key, small town 5k, the kind I don't do enough of. The people are always nice and the vibe, laid back. As soon as I arrived I spotted my snowshoe racing buddy, Jonathan Miller, and his wife, Deb. They live right down the street, so I figured they would be there. I also spotted Mark Arsenault with his wife, Tammy, and their daughter. Mark is running Boston on Monday, so he came out just to run with his daughter and to let Tammy race, since she's been on the DL since December.
I did an easy 2-mile warmup, then got ready for the start. Looking around, I had a feeling I would do well place-wise, but I wasn't sure about the time. I don't run many 5ks, and I definitely don't train for them. Short distance speed is not my thing. But I do still like to run them since I can use them for speed work. I don't do speed work, so this is my solution. Running has to be fun for me. The thought of running around a track, just doesn't appeal to me much. I still might hit it a little bit this year, but it definitely doesn't fall under my category of fun. I didn't run track, so I don't even "get" it.
Anyway. The race started abruptly with someone yelling "go" kind of out of the blue. Jonathan shot out ahead along with about 4 other guys. I immediately passed about 3 of them. By the first .2, it was just Jonathan and me in the front headed up the first climb. We quickly lost the others and proceeded up the hill. Jonathan and I ran a lot of snowshoe races closely this past season, so I know that he is good on hills. I passed him just before the first mile mark while it was still flat, but just as we passed the Poor People's Pub for the long climb of the day, he pushed on ahead. He got a good lead on me on the climb. It's not a difficult hill, really, but it's a little long and definitely slowed the pace for the second mile. Even the downhill right after it didn't really make up for it. Jonathan and I stayed close for the rest of the race. When I took a peek back, I could see the third runner pretty far back, so I knew we were going to be 1 and 2 at the finish. The course flattens out a bit before hitting another smaller hill, and then it flattens out again before the finish. Jonathan finished first in 18:54. I came in in 19:00. The race had been advertised as 3.21, but my watch had 3.07 miles at the finish. Jonathan had 3.06. So it ended up being a tad short.... which made me disappointed in my time even more. 2 more seconds, and I could at least have gotten an 18 in there, but oh well. It really didn't matter much. It was just good training in the end. After they had finished, Mark, Jonathan, Deb and I ran a 2-mile cool down on the course, easy. I don't know if there will be pictures from this race or not. John wasn't taking any, and, well, that's it for my photographer. Ha ha.
race Results
John and I headed home after that for a few hours before driving up the Kanc with the plan to hike to Champney Falls. I brought the three dogs with us this time since they needed the exercise. The hike started out sunny, but slowly got darker and darker. I heard thunder off in the distance, but I figured it was far enough away for us to continue to the Falls since we were really close. Just after we turned off onto the side trail, the rain started coming down hard, and about a tenth of mile before the Falls, the first close lightning strike came ripping through. I aborted the hike immediately, so John and I turned around and started running back down the trail. I unleashed the dogs since I thought the chance of us running into anyone coming up the trail would be nil (which it was). It was just easier for us to move without me dealing with leashes. And the dogs stayed right with us anyway. We hauled ass, and lightning just kept striking close by, one was right above us on the hill. John and I weren't scared, though. I've had my share of thunderstorm experiences out on the trail and in the ocean (that's another story), so this was just another nice adrenaline rush. And since John is my kid, well, he thought it was pretty awesome, too, in a crazy way. We got drenched with heavy rain, but as quickly as it came in, it was gone. By the time we approached the trailhead, there were blue skies and sun again. We'll have to hit the Falls again in a few weeks when the trail is a little more clear, since it was still covered in snow and ice.
John with 2 of the dogs running down the trail. You can't tell that it's pouring rain in this photo, but it was.

Life wouldn't be complete without an "I'm smiling in the rain in the middle of a thunderstorm" selfie.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Today, I hit the trails finally! And they were 99% clear. It felt so good to be back out there. I hit some of my favorite trails in the Green Hills in North Conway to make a 7-mile loop around and over Rattlesnake Mt. My legs were a little sore after yesterday's run, but it didn't matter since I was psyched to finally be back in the woods on dirt. Now, I'm looking forward to exploring more trails next week to see what else is clear. I need more trails and mountains in my life asap.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tamworth/Sandwich Roads

Yesterday, I woke up 2 minutes before my 4:40am alarm that I had set to get up for a run on the treadmill before work, but I decided to bag it. I thought about how much more useful an extra hour of sleep would be if I was up all night during my 24 at the ambulance. I had a long run planned for Thursday, so I decided on a zero and went back to sleep. It was a good bet, since we ended up getting called out 3 times overnight for the SAME PATIENT, about every 2-3 hours. The first call, she was fine; the second, she agreed to go to the hospital then changed her mind. Finally, on the third call, we pulled the stretcher right up to the door; when she opened the door, I said, "Are you ready to go?" and patted my hand right on the stretcher. She complied this time, thank goodness. We were not leaving without a patient this time. Ha ha. So, I got about maybe 4 hours of sleep total, all broken up between the 3 calls.
"Everything is Awesome!" as I take in some sun during the slow morning.

WTF look, after two transfers and the 3 overnight calls. LOL.
Fortunately I wasn't extremely tired for my long run. After driving down some of the roads in Tamworth on Monday after a fire call, I decided I had to venture over this way for a run. So after getting home from work, I sat down and made out a plan for a loop starting at Remick Farm. I wanted to run 18, so I made up a route that would probably come out to that. I wasn't exactly sure, since the Strava route creator made one of the roads "impassable", even though I had just driven the whole thing on Monday. Plus, I had a feeling at least one of the roads would turn out to be nonexistent.
I waited until it warmed up some around 10am and headed out running at a decent pace on the route I had planned out. As I figured, "River Rd" didn't exist. Well, I can't say it didn't exist, but it wasn't a road. I passed by it thinking it was an overgrown snowmobile trail. When I got to where I was supposed to be coming back from the left, I knew I had lost almost 2 miles of my "plan", but I wasn't bothered by it. I just knew I would have to add on at the end to make it 18. My loop continued on some dirt/paved mix back roads with fantastic views of the Ossipee's. I couldn't believe I had never explored over here, even by car. Very quiet and peaceful with decent hills. I even ran through a covered bridge. 
Durgin Covered Bridge
 And the weather was perfect. I felt great and just kept plugging away. When I got to the turn off for the Great Hill Fire Tower, I decided to take a quick detour up. It's only about .4 miles, so I ran on up. Most of the trail was snow-free, but it was really soft and squishy. I got up to the tower quickly, took in the quick view, snapped some photos and ran back down to the road. 
Great Hill Fire Tower
Great Hill Rd climbed a bit and then hit a huge downhill that took me back into Tamworth Village. As I guessed, I was about 1.5 miles short, so I turned left with a plan just to go out enough to come back for 18, but as I started up Page Hill Rd, I changed my mind and decided to run all the way to the top. The climb wasn't as steep as it seems in the car, but my legs were starting to the feel the miles. I took it easy on the run back down because I was done with the pavement pounding. Just as I got back into Tamworth Village, I hit 20.2 miles and was done. 7:30/mi pace which surprised me with the 1749 ft of elevation gain, so I was really happy with the run.
From there, I made a stop in Ossipee to do some White Mountain Milers business and then grabbed a huge post-run cupcake. I couldn't eat anything else for 6 hours after eating this thing.
Chocolate ganache cupcake

I spent the next 3 hours laying in the sun working on my tan. Yes, seriously. It felt so good to lay there in the warmth of the sun relaxing until I had to head to the other ambulance job in Bartlett.
Tomorrow's run plan: TRAILS! Finally!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

South Conway

I got out for a run this morning in South Conway on some of the hilly dirt roads near Conway Lake. Most of it was solid with only a few places on Greeley Rd that were super muddy. The weather was perfect, too. I parked on Potter and ran up to Brownfield Rd and over to Gulf Rd which is a decent climb. From the top of Gulf, I started my loop back on Leavitt, passing the house with the absolute BEST view in the entire Valley. Not bad for a summer home. Ha ha. This picture doesn't even do it justice.
Best view in the Valley
Right at this point I got a text from work and had to stop for 5 minutes or so dealing with a ridiculous situation. I never stopped my GPS, and I walked a bit of this while I was on the phone, so my pace was thrown off for the whole run. It was kind of funny to see a 17 min mile in my splits on a huge downhill portion of the run. I finally continued on back to Potter Rd, completing the loop. About half a mile from my car, I ran into Paul Bazanchuk, whom I hadn't seen since the Fall. That was a nice surprise since I always enjoy running with Paul. He turned around to run with me back to my car so we could catch up. He had been injured all winter and had taken up RandonĂ©e Racing while he healed up. It sounded like he really enjoyed it, and it helped him stay fit while healing up. We got back to my car, and I bid farewell to Paul as he turned back around to finish his run. My run came out to 11.1 miles which was about a mile longer than I thought it would be, but that was fine with me. 
From there, I finally dropped my car off at the body shop to get fixed from the accident on the way home from the New Bedford Half Marathon. I ended up getting a rental that is almost identical to my car, which made me laugh. 

The rest of the day was spent with John. We went for free cone day at Ben&Jerry's and then to the playground. It was so nice to be out in the sun. Spring is really here...I think.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chocorua Lake Roads

Today ended up being a fairly busy day at the ambulance. The morning was quiet so I soaked up some sun with my book, but as the day progressed, we ended up getting back-to-back calls that killed the rest of our day. I was able to finally get lunch in at 4pm, which kind of worried me since I was meeting Jim Johnson for a run at Chocorua Lake Rd at 5:15. But I was starving, so I had to eat, and fortunately, that steak and cheese burrito didn't affect me at all on the run.
I met up with Jim, and we started the run off at a really quick pace. We haven't run together in awhile, and he's gotten much faster. I was struggling to keep up the whole time. We ran an out and back on the dirt roads, that had been my go-to this winter, to make 10 miles. My Strava app said it was 10.2 miles at a 6:59/mi pace, and Jim's watch had 10 miles even at a 7:06/mi pace. Not sure what's accurate, but either pace is decent on those roads with over 700ft of climbing. It was nice to run on snow-free roads for a change, and the weather was beautiful. Looking forward to more days like this.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tuckerman Inferno 2015

The day started way too early since my run leg of the Tuckerman Inferno started at 7am. I got up there before 6am and waited for John's "babysitter" to arrive so I could head out on my warm up. Right after I pulled in, another car parked right in front of me and out came two Greater Boston Track Club runners, a man and a woman. I recognized her as the woman who finished a place behind me at Eastern States, and the guy was familiar, but I didn't know his name. He looked legit, though, so I started to get nervous. I figured out he was running the race, and she was just warming up with him, so I knew this was going to give his team a huge lead. I couldn't compete with that. I guess I would have to rely on my teammates to catch back up.
The girl hanging with John showed up, so I went out solo for a 2-mile warm up. I felt good except for really sore calves. I couldn't figure out why they were so sore since I hadn't run anything out of the ordinary, but then it dawned on me. I had gotten really antsy Friday afternoon and decided to speed walk 2 miles at an incline on the treadmill. I never do that, but I didn't think it would make me sore. I wasn't too worried about, though. I've been sore during races and just pushed through it.
I got back with ten minutes to spare, saw my teammates who were cheering me on, said goodbye to John and then lined up next to Kelsey Allen at the start. Kelsey had beaten me here before in 2012, and she always tends to beat me in races that involve huge uphills, so I wasn't really expecting to beat her here. I wanted to stay as close to her as possible and finish 2nd woman, but I also had to remember that gender didn't matter here. It was team vs team. And there were a lot of serious looking runners lined up there.
The race started, and as I figured, the Greater Boston guy (who turned out to be Ryan Place) shot out ahead and had a HUGE lead by mile one. Kelsey ended up flying up way ahead of me along with about 12 other guys. I didn't know who the solo racers were from behind so I just had to do my best to gain on as many of them as I could. As we started the steep climb up Glen Ledge, Kelsey just got farther and farther away, and I could hear breathing right behind me that belonged to the shadow with the ponytail I could see on the ground in front of me. I held her off for awhile, but she caught and passed me close to the top. I was also passed by a guy and then passed a guy. After we reached the top of Glen Ledge (8:54/mi pace. Ouch!), it was a huge downhill for almost 2 miles. I thought I would catch people, but I only caught one guy. Kelsey seemed to be getting farther away, as well as the woman who had passed me. I hauled ass hitting those two miles in 5:40 and 5:45. It finally leveled off, and everyone slowed. This is where I started passing people two years ago, and sure enough, I picked off 4 people, including the woman who had passed me on Glen Ledge. We turned right onto 302, and from this point on, it was pretty much all uphill. A gentle grade, but still all uphill. I had remembered this being tough, but I had forgotten why since it seems flat when you drive it. Ha ha. I still ran hard at a decent clip, but I could tell by my splits that it wasn't easy running. I caught up to a guy and ran with him for the last 3 miles, and I kept reeling in Kelsey. I never would catch her, but we ended up only 28 seconds apart at the finish, so my effort was a good one. With two miles to go a headwind all of a sudden hit us. It ended up not being too bad, but it would get a lot worse later in Pinkham Notch for the bikers. At 8.1 miles, the course cuts into Thorn Pond and right onto wet, slushy snow for the last .2. The guy I had been running with looked like he had never run on snow before, and got excruciatingly slow, so I had to pass him. I came through the transition and tagged off my teammate Mike Malkin who would kayak the Saco. I finished the 8.3 mile run in 55:37 and 9th overall. I immediately learned that Ryan Place had come in at 43:something. That was a HUGE lead for his team. I felt bad that now my teammates had to play catch up if we were going to win. I just had to cross my fingers.
Mike would do the kayak and pass 2 people. He tagged off to Erik Nelson for the road bike from Glen Ellis Campground to Pinkham Notch. Erik passed 5 people (and ended up finishing first overall for the bike leg). He tagged off to Tristan Williams who would run up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to HoJo's in 28 minutes, passing the last guy who had been in the lead (and finishing first overall for the hike), which meant we were first team when he tagged off Matty Burkett for the ski down the Sherbie. Matty snowboarded down, giving us the team win by about 1.5 minutes!!! I was so excited when I got the news. All Stoved Up had won! A bunch of crazy locals won it again. I was so stoked.
Erik, me, Mike and Matty (Tristan couldn't make the awards) at the awards party.
John and I took a walk with the dogs at the Albany Town Forest later on and then headed up to Wildcat Ski Area for the Inferno awards party. It was a good time. My old team, Wildthings, won top female team again, so I was psyched about that. I was really happy to hear that Andrew Drummond, another local, won the solo competition. That's all five legs by yourself. Super impressive. And he only finished 20 minutes behind my TEAM. Wow. Very cool. He also took home $1000 and new skis. It was a fun time. Dinner, drinks and catching up with people. I was beat by the time we got home.
I opted out of my original plan to do Red's Race on Sunday in Dover because I didn't want to drag John along to another race. I've been racing almost every weekend since January, and I just couldn't do it this time. It was a day to not be selfish, and I was happy for it when I woke up at 8am. I needed the rest, so it was good I didn't drag us out early again. He got to sleep in, and I enjoyed sitting on the deck in the sun with my coffee. I still got some easy running in. One run up Heavenly Hill with the dogs that turned out to still be covered in too much soft snow. I had planned just to do Heavenly Hill repeats, but bagged that and hit my neighborhood for 5 easy loops to make 5.8 miles for the day. That worked for me. I needed an easy day.
Later in the afternoon, John and I took a hike up White Ledge right down the road from our house. The trail was mostly snow covered still, but easily hikeable. It was so beautiful out. It was an easy hike with some great views, and John really enjoyed himself. We laughed A LOT today. I'm so glad I chose it to be a day about us and not about me and my racing. It was worth it. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Green Hills

I was fortunate to sleep through the night without a tone drop for a 911. I was not so fortunate to wake up to a rain/ice mixture coming down hard in Glen. Plans to run in Crawford Notch were aborted since I didn't want to run in that icy mixture. So I decided to try out a Middle Mt/Peaked Mt loop. The weather was still crappy, but it was just misty in North Conway. The trail looked bad at first, but it was surprisingly runnable. I had to break through about 2-3 inches of wet snow, but underneath that it was pretty solid.
My lone footprints on Middle Mountain
Based on the lack of any footprints, I assumed I was the first one up both mountains since Wednesday night's snowfall. The run was slower than normal, but I was happy to be able to run the whole way. Close to the top, the top layer of snow did turn to ice, but it still wasn't that bad. The only things I had to watch were the hidden postholes under the fresh layer of snow; that was a bit challenging coming down Peaked.
View of the Valley from Peaked Mountain
Although it wasn't ideal, I was still happy to get off the road and into the mountains today. Slow and easy 5 mile run with over 1600 ft of gain.
Tuckerman Inferno is bright and early with a 7am start at Storyland. 8.3 miles to the kayak transition. I have a good team so I'm hoping we kick ass.