South Moat

South Moat

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

Saturday, I took it easy but got in a few loops around the neighborhood. I had to do something, so I ran 5 loops, 4.6 miles, 7:22/mi pace. 388 ft of gain (which is quite a bit for my petite neighborhood). After the run, John and I went to the Home & Garden Show in Fryeburg in hopes of finding some decent stuff for our gardens, but I thought the stuff was overpriced and the rest just a bunch of sales booths with stuff I couldn't afford. I tried the samples and moved on. I did walk away with two pairs of alpaca socks for John and a bar of soap. Not really worth the price of admission, but it was something different to do.
Photo by Roger Marcoux, who was at the Home & Garden show with his Dragonfly Aerial stuff.

The afternoon was just a walk up Heavenly Hill with John and the dogs. More bug hell; more whining from me. :)
The next morning, we didn't have to get up too early to head to Vermont since the Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race had a noon start. That was really nice since it's a 3 hour drive for us. We would have camped there overnight if it had still been the early start from the first two years. John was lucky to sleep for half of the drive, so it didn't seem too long for him. I brought extra coffee for me. The drive over there is always so beautiful, and I don't mind it. We got there a little after 10am, and all of that sitting left my legs stiff. I went to pick up my bib and started seeing so many familiar faces, which is so nice. It's one of my favorite things about the mountain series; the people who run it. It's like a family reunion. There were still quite a few new faces and some missing faces, but the same core of people was still present. And I LOVE this race. It's my type of race with the 3 up-downs. I'm better at these than the up-only races, which I still struggle with. I can only do 6 out of the 8 races of the Series, so I was a bit nervous. No room for error with any of them. No bad races allowed. And since I knew I would PR on the course this year, I had a feeling I would be in the top for the women. The usual women weren't there, though, and I didn't know who might show up. This was all going through my head with still an hour and a half until race time, so I decided to go ahead and do a warm-up to get rid of the nervousness and leg stiffness. As I was putting on my shoes, I noticed that the pretty much had no tread left. Oops. I guess it's time for a new pair. Luckily, this race wasn't too technical.

John was content in the car while I warmed up, so I walked up past the start and up to where the first climb begins and then started running. I passed some people I knew walking the course and chatted with them for a bit before continuing on to the top of the climb where the King/Queen of the Mountain is crowned. I wanted this to be me this year. It was my first goal for the race. I turned around and followed the 4th mile of the course back down to the finish area for just over 2.1 miles. I knew I would have to warm up again closer to start time, but I was feeling really good after this first warm up, strong and not the least bit fatigued. I knew I was going to have a good race.

I went back to the car and brought John up to the start area to show him the new porch swings. He remembered being here last year, so he was comfortable. About 30 minutes to go, I went out for another warm up and only went a half mile. I was good; I didn't need anymore. John decided he wanted to stay in the round house during the race so I walked him over there to watch the start from the porch and take a few pictures.
Photo by John before the start 
As we lined up, I started seeing some "fast" shirts. Craft Concepts, yeah, not a single slow woman on that team, and she had the leg muscles to prove it. Hmm. I recognized the Millennium runner who passed me in the last mile at New Bedford. uh-oh. Of course, I've beaten fast roadies before who show up at mountain races, since fast road doesn't always equal fast mountain runner. But it still meant I had to go off fast to test them out and not lose it. I lined up towards the front and where I could see both women. I opted for no team uniform, even though I was racing for CMS. I like going incognito lately.
Right after the start. Photo by Gianina Lindsey

The race started and I went out with only the Craft woman in front of me. I hung behind her until we got to the first climb, but I could tell she didn't have it on the climb so I decided to pass her. I could hear another woman right behind me so I continued to push it. The crowd was already thinning, so it made it easy to maneuver. There's a short downhill section on the first climb that I went all-out on because I could still hear the woman who was right behind me. By the time we started climbing again, she was a step over my right shoulder. I wanted Queen of the Mountain, so I picked up the pace to hammer it up the rest of the climb. As we moved onto the single track about 30 seconds later, I looked back to see she had dropped way back and that I would also have QOTM in the bag. I knew then that she wasn't a good climber, but that she could hang on the down. The next downhill section was more technical, but since that's a strength of mine, I decided to go all out again. I wanted a good lead before the next LONG climb, so that I could cut it back a bit. At the bottom of the downhill near the water stop, I looked back and only saw a few men. Then we hit the uphill. I have had to walk at least some portion of this the last two years, but not this time. There was no way I was walking, and I never felt the need to. I looked back occasionally on the climb up and kept thinking I was seeing a woman not too far behind so I picked it up even more. I was running scared. I was relieved when it finally leveled off after mile 3 and started the downhill back down to the field where we'd pass the finish area and continue on. I ran pretty hard on the down. 
Photo by Scott Mason at the beginning of the second downhill.

Thinking someone was close and knowing this was easy footing for a fast run, I didn't want to take any chances. Before we knew it, we were passing mile 4 and passing through the field. I had always thought the next climb was really hard and, just like the second hill, had always walked portions of it. And like the last climb, I wasn't having any of that walking bit, since I looked back at the beginning of the climb and thought I saw the second woman not far behind me (Turns out, I never saw the second woman after that first look back before QOTM; it was a guy wearing similar color clothing the entire time.). The climb seemed much shorter than before, but I know it wasn't. I'm just in much better shape than the last two years. 
Top of the last climb. Photo by Gianina Lindsey

Still thinking I had second woman on my heels, I went all out on the last downhill. Towards the bottom, I took one last look back and only saw one guy who had been there the whole time. At this point, I knew I had the win. I didn't hold back since my third goal of a sub-50 was looming. I pushed it in finishing in 49:08, 1st woman, 21st overall (STRONG men's field). Over a 3 minute PR on the course for me. I was psyched. I needed those 100 points for the Series, since the rest (except Cranmore and Bretton Woods) won't come as easily to me. Pack Monadnock and Loon are my arch nemeses. Plus, I just wanted the win at Sleepy Hollow. Granted, the usuals weren't there, but I think I would have hung right in there, even if they had shown up. RESULTS

After talking with a few people, I walked down to the round house and found John inside. I talked to him for a few minutes, gave him some food and then went out for an easy cool down on some of the mountain bike trails. It was the only thing that would stop me from pouring in sweat. Once back, John and I got his bathing suit out of the car so that he could swim in the pond. He loved that and stayed in and out and of the water up until awards time.
Jumping in the pond

Front flip into the pond. He said this one hurt. LOL
The awards were short and sweet, and I won some great loot. The elusive GALLON of maple syrup was finally mine. After years of only winning the small bottles (except the Pinnacle Ultra where I won a big bottle), I finally got the gallon! I also won $75. For being Queen of the Mountain, I won a pair of Salomon shoes and a stuffed Mountain Goat. I admit it. I love the goat. In fact, it's right next to me on my bar as I type this. :)
John with my winnings. He loves to climb on my car.
We were some of the last to leave after the awards. We made our way down the interstate and finally made the stop at the Ben&Jerry's Factory for ice cream. And, wow, what a line!! It took over a half hour to get through, but, fortunately, a woman who had been volunteering at the race just happened to be in front of us in line, so we passed the time chatting it up. I forgot to get her name, but she was super cool and is due with her first child in 3 months. I hope all goes well for her with that. We finally got our ice cream, and it was so worth the wait in the 80 degree temps. We both got waffle cones.
Ben&Jerry's Factory in Vermont

It was a big splurge for me since I stopped eating sugar a month ago. I ate none the first week, but have had some occasionally since then. Just cutting out the sugar had me drop 8 pounds in 3 weeks. I had gained that 8 pounds over March and April and could really feel it. There was no way I was walking into VCM at that weight expecting to run a sub-3, so a month ago, I just went cold turkey. It hasn't been easy, but I'm so happy to have cut out that craving. And since I have, that ice cream ended up being too much for me. I could feel it the next day. Puffy eyes and face. Now, I'm really getting the reason behind cutting it down to a minimum. My body feels so much healthier.

We finally made it home after 6pm. I was spent. I had raced hard, but now it was time to go into recovery mode for the week. VCM is less than a week away....

Friday, May 15, 2015

Play Day

Wednesday ended up being a zero day. I couldn't get myself out of bed to get on the treadmill at 0430 before  work. I just could not do it. And when I realized I didn't regret it or feel antsy all day, I knew it was the right move. I needed it. Other than one 911 late morning, most of the day was like this:

Then this:

Followed by this:

And then life got a little more exciting when I FINALLY received the art work for my shirts for the Dirty Girl Trail Race coming up on May 31(shameless plug: Single ladies, wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, mistresses, sign up here: Dirty Girl Trail Race registration). I had asked multiple times over the last two weeks for a proof of the design. They kept putting me off. I was getting worried, and then the email came. I was excited....until I saw it. OH.MY.GOD. My jaw dropped. I looked around for a camera. This must be a cruel joke. 
Come run the Dirty Stripper Trail Race!!
What the hell is THAT?! I thought this had to be a joke, but it wasn't. It was not what I asked for. I quickly shot back an email that was, well, a little harsh. Ok, probably too harsh since I said it was awful and probably took 10 minutes to draw. Oops. But I was horrified, in panic mode, AND they tried to blame me for it! They said I only gave them a "few weeks" to design it. I don't know what their definition of "few" is, but I wouldn't call March 21st a few weeks ago. They also said they drew everything I asked for. Call me crazy, but that looks like a bathing suit, not running clothes. I digress. It was down to the wire and no time to fix it, so it looks like last year's design with a different color shirt will be it. I'm bummed, but whatever. It's just a race shirt. This company has had my business the last 3 years, and they just lost it. What can I do? But I have to say, it provided immense entertainment around the ambulance base. Just seeing everyone's reaction when I showed it to them made me realize I was not alone in my horror. Ha ha.

After that excitement wore off, it was quiet again. All until 0100, when we got a patient transfer. Without fail, a quiet day ensures a middle of the night transfer. On our way back, Conway got a call, and, by the sound of it, I had a feeling we'd be headed with that patient to Maine Med as soon as we got back. But good weather was on our side, and Life Flight was able to fly the patient instead. It would have been an all-nighter for us otherwise. Dodged a bullet with that one, but I still only managed 3.5 hours of sleep.

As usual, I ignore my lack of sleep and get on with my plans for the day. Since this would be my last real Thursday free for awhile (picked up a lot of shifts for the next month and a half), I decided to have as much fun as possible. I had coffee before leaving work, so I just came home and changed clothes before heading out for a "short" Moat Mt run loop. I have a whole Moat traverse loop (14.5 miles) that I came up with on New Year's Day, but I didn't want to go that far this time.

I parked on High St at the gate and hit the High School Loop, but instead of following it when it veered right, I kept going to the former Moat Mt Trail. The Moat Mt Trail was rerouted in 2003, but the old trail still exists and is completely clear. It looks like someone uses it regularly for 4-wheeling, so it's easy to run on. I accidentally "discovered" it 2 years ago when I missed the turn on the High School Loop. As I was running up it, I thought it seemed familiar and wondered if I was on the former Moat Mt Trail (which I had done numerous times). Once I hit the reroute, I realized I was right, and this is the only way I ever go up South Moat now, since it makes it easy to do a loop up the Moats and back to the car. I felt really good on the way up South Moat. It's a climb that always seems difficult for me, but I was pleased to find that I ran it in my second fastest time. This was a comforting feeling since I usually run my best later in the year after running mountains all late Spring and Summer. This is definitely a good sign that I will be in mountain shape much sooner this year than the last 4 years when I feel like I start at the bottom every Spring. I'd say I'm 3/4s of the way this year. The weather was spectacular, and I stopped on South Moat for about 5 minutes.
Me on South Moat Mountain 
The next part of the run is my favorite with the run along the open ridge. It's kind of like being above tree line, but you're not. Running and looking out at the view. You can't beat it. It never gets old.
Ridge between South and Middle Moats
I'm always a little sad to drop back down into the trees, but for my short loop, I have Red Ridge to look forward to, since it's also open with a fantastic view. The trail climbs from the woods back to the summit of Middle Moat and then veers right for the Red Ridge Trail.
On the way down Red Ridge
This run brings me back down to the FS Road, and I have a plethora of choices through the Mineral Site at this point. I did the usual Lower Stoney Ridge back to the FR Rd which eventually brought me back to my car. 10.7 miles in 2hrs21min. Just over 2900ft of elevation gain. Beautiful weather, perfect trail conditions. Funny, though. When I finished, I ran into a woman who said it looked like I hadn't even run yet. She was almost right; I felt like I hadn't even run. It was almost too easy. ;)

The play day continued with my plan to kayak on Silver Lake. Fortunately, I have a fiberglass boat, since it's just me, and there's no such thing as help. There's no way I'd be able to lift any other kayak onto my car. I still have to use a step stool. Ha ha.
How cute is that? 
It was a beautiful paddle on Silver Lake, but it was odd having a swarm of black flies following me the whole way all the way out in the middle of the lake. I couldn't really stop for long before they would catch up. Whenever I kayak, I'm immediately transported back to age 24 when it was almost a requirement to have a beer while kayaking, so I couldn't help myself and brought along a 'Ganset Shandy.
Check out that view! The mountains are nice, too. 

I decided to paddle from one end to the other from a parking area off of 113 (that doesn't require a town sticker) to the Town Beach and back. It was pretty close to being the full length of the lake which is about 2.5 miles long. I'm a bit out of upper body shape, and I could feel it in my arms, but my kayak is so easy to paddle, that I didn't have any trouble. It was so nice being out in the middle of the lake, and I literally had the entire lake to myself. I saw two loons, one of which was calling. That never ceases to be cool. I miss kayaking. I haven't done much of it in the last few years, and it's been sad looking at my kayak just sitting there unused for so many years. I finally got a roof rack, so I plan to get out a lot more this summer.
Yes, I'm still wearing the same hat from my run, so I, obviously, hadn't showered. Haha.
As soon as I got home, I changed back into running clothes and drove down to Rochester for the Six03 pub run again. This time, I didn't know anybody there, so it was a little awkward. Only two of us were running the 5 miles, so I just decided to stay with the other person and help him out a bit. It was a super easy run for me but definitely a push for him. He was really thankful for it afterward and pretty excited he was able to run so fast. I was happy I could help him out since I didn't need to run fast on this second run. Afterwards, we had drinks and food upstairs at the Revolution Taproom, which is a pretty nice place. 40 beers on tap and really good food. I had to just throw myself into the group as best I could, and I ended up talking to some nice people. By the time, I was done eating, I could barely keep my eyes open, but this time I didn't spill anything... there. I grabbed a coffee for the way home, and ended up spilling a quarter of it into the cup holder. That reminds me. I still need to clean that. I was able to stay awake for the drive just fine, but as soon as I got home, I couldn't get my head on that pillow fast enough. I didn't wake up again until 8am.

Friday was another day on the trails for me, so after a late start, I hit another of my favorite trails, Sawyer Pond Trail off the Kanc. The trail starts with a ford of Swift River, which can be a pain, but it does keep the riff-raff away somewhat. The river was frigid, and my feet were numb for about 5 minutes, but they warmed up just fine after that. It's a pretty easy run with a gentle grade up and then down for about 4.3 miles to the pond. I've always had the place to myself, and today was no exception. It is so quiet and peaceful there, so I had to hang out for about 10 minutes.
Sawyer Pond

I reluctantly headed back down the trail for the 4.3 miles back. It was an easy run back for a total of 8.7 miles (I actually missed some mileage on my GPS after stopping it to clean out my shoe and forgetting to restart it for .4 miles). Over a 1000ft of elevation gain. Less than an hour and a half of running. I have to admit that it's been nice not focusing on pace/mile this week. I don't even care when I'm on the trail. It's all about the effort out there. I really needed to get off the road this week, although, I might do a short road run around the neighborhood in the morning, but I'm not sure yet.

This afternoon, John and I explored the trails up at the new conservation area off West Side Rd. We walked randomly for almost 3 miles, finding all sorts of mountain bike trails. I'll have to come back on Tuesday to go farther on them. I know some of them end up over at the Mineral Site Trails, but I want to find out exactly where they all go. I love finding new trails. It was super buggy, though. Mosquitos!! I hate them. I think I was whining the whole time about them. John just confirmed that, yes, I was whining about the mosquitos the whole time. Ha ha. The one thing that makes me whine. Bugs! I was swarmed. No mosquitos at my house and not a single bug at Sawyer Pond, not even black flies, so most of the day was bug-free.
John running up a trail
Tomorrow will be a near-o or a zero. I haven't decided yet, and then it's Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race on Sunday. I can't believe Vermont is just over a week away! I'm so ready! I've been ready. But I have a mountain race to get through first.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Back to Trails

Sunday was the typical Sunday. Even though it was Mother's Day, I wasn't planning on doing anything different, especially if it involved spending money, since I had to pay for it. So I slept in which is always nice, had some coffee, made John breakfast and then hit the usual Heavenly Hill repeats. It was really hot and humid, but it actually felt good, since I really need to get acclimated to that type of weather for the summer races. I was actually pretty sore after Merrimack. I'm not surprised, though. I ran my hardest on the hills which really kicked my ass. The trail up Heavenly Hill was much easier to run on without the leaves, but I still ran slower than usual, due to the fatigue from the race. I did 4 repeats of the hill for 4.8 miles and over 1800ft of gain. I actually ended up getting in over 5000ft of gain for the week, so I hit my goal after all. I'm feeling stronger on the climbs already and am pretty confident about Sleepy Hollow this weekend. I feel like I can PR on the course, no problem (barring a mudfest like last year). I still hit over 60 miles for the week, just as planned.

Since it was so hot, I decided to make our hike short. I needed to fill up my water jugs at the Sandwich Spring, so I took John down to West Rattlesnake Mt in Holderness which was down that way. When we got there, the parking lots were blocked off with tape, and big signs saying "TRAILS CLOSED" were all over the place. I read why the trails were closed. Mud season. Well, after that extremely dry spell we had, I knew the trail wouldn't be muddy, so we parked down the road and proceeded up the mountain. I've been known to break a rule or two. ;) We weren't the only ones. There were a lot of other people up there, and the trail was bone dry. If it had been muddy, I would have complied, but that trail should not have been closed. It was an easy walk for a spectacular view. Only .9 miles up. We were sweating like crazy, and black flies were swarming every time we stopped, but at the top, there was a nice breeze, so we hung out awhile.
John on West Rattlesnake

Me on West Rattlensnake
Since it was so hot, I really wanted a cold beer and went back on my plan of not spending money on myself for Mother's Day. On the way back through Sandwich, we stopped at the Corner House Inn. I had never been there, so I thought why the hell not. John wanted root beer, and they just happened to have it on tap. I hate buying him soda, but I've made exceptions for restaurants and other special occasions. I had a Moat Brown, and we both got flatbread pizza. The pub didn't have any a/c, so we sweat our asses off, but I didn't care. It was great.
Mother's Day at the Corner House Inn in Sandwich, NH
We stopped at the Sandwich Spring on the way back and actually had to wait in a line for once. We don't drink our tap water, so I fill up 20 gallons each time. I felt bad for the guy in line behind me, but the spring is flowing well, so it took me less than 10 minutes.

Monday rolled around so I was up for a 5 mile run on the treadmill. I had trouble getting myself out of bed to do it and almost didn't, but a little bit of a pep talk to myself got me up and moving. Took me awhile to get warmed up, but once the right song came over the headphones, I was moving fine. Same as usual, 1-3% incline, 7:18/mi pace. Not bad for 4-something in the morning. 

I went to work in Tamworth. Not too busy. One decent call. In less than a week, I've taken 3 patients to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro. Prior to that, I hadn't taken anyone there since 2011. So it's been odd getting used to a different hospital's procedures and staff I don't know. I'm so used to Memorial Hospital, but I'm starting to get the hang of it. I look less like an idiot each time we're there. ha ha. At 5pm, I left and drove right up to Bartlett for the 6p-6a on-call shift and to do the billing. But first, I grabbed a radio and then hit Thorne Pond for a walk. I did 4 loops around the pond for about 2.5 miles. It was so needed. Once back at the station, I got the billing done, shattered my phone screen and ate a box of $.80 rice. LOL. My manager came by to pick up his truck and hung out for awhile. Literally, less than 5 minutes (no exaggeration) after discussing a place in Jackson that I said I had never been to, we got toned out to that VERY SPOT. No joke. That EXACT spot. And that is how EMS works. The second you say the word "never", you can bet that's what you are doing next. If you say you haven't been on a call to a certain place for awhile, that will be the majority of your calls for the next month. Haven't seen a certain medical issue in awhile and you voice that? Well, that's going to be one of your next few calls. It's so funny how it works that way. That was the only call, so I was lucky to get sleep.

I was up right at 6am because the running week I had been waiting for was finally here! Lots of trail running! I made coffee at the station and drove down to High St for a long run at the Mineral Site. As always, it was complete solitude the whole way. I started at the gate and ran down FR 739 to the trails, hitting the Electric Loop and then onto Lower and Upper Stoney Ridge Trails to the top of Whitehorse. Since this doesn't happen very often, I have to gloat when it does. Look who stole the CR on Lower Stoney Ridge. :)
Lower Stoney Ridge Climb Strava CR

The top of Whitehorse was covered in fog, so it was just me with the fog for the view. My mom HATES my Buffs. I can kind of see why, but I still love them.
Summit of Whitehorse Ledge Selfie

I went back down and veered off the Stoney Ridge Trails back to the FR road to Tent Boulder, to Mineral Site to High School Loop for a 13.4 mile loop back to my car in 2hr10min with 1660ft of elevation gain. Nothing crazy. The run was super easy for me. I felt like I was gliding along the whole way. Amazing how easy 13 miles is. This time a year ago, I was running 20-30 mile weeks and struggling to get back into mountain shape. I was not in a place in my life I wanted to be, and, oh, how that has changed. I never thought I would be the subject of a Level Renner interview for being an Invited Athlete to VCM. I didn't think I had that in me... ever. I still don't know if I'll hit my goal. It could all go to shit, but I'm enjoying the ride. Here's a link to the interview:
Sub-3:00 or Bust for O’Dell (No pressure! Eek!)
I tried to keep it humorous to keep it interesting. Oh, and I do have another nickname I forgot about. "#CW". You'll have to ask me in person what that stands for. ;)

This afternoon, John and I went for another mountain bike ride and brought along 2 of the dogs. I took him over to some trails close to where I ran this morning, but we went in off of West Side Road instead. We hit the Railroad Grade Trail and Ultimate Single Track for 3.9 miles. I had never been on either trail so it was nice to check it out. Mostly flat, but very rooty. We stopped by a pond for the dogs to get water and had a beaver pop up from under water right in front of us. John loved it. It was really cool to see one that up-close.
Railroad Grade Trail

Helmet dork

Caught one of the two of us together
Tomorrow, I will struggle to get up and hit the treadmill again before my 24-hour shift. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Merrimack River Trail Race 2015

On Saturday, John and I headed down to Andover, Ma for the Merrimack River Trail Race. I had never been able to do this one due to scheduling conflicts and/or childcare for John, so I was excited and nervous about it. I was nervous because this year it was the USATF-New England Trail Championship Race AND part of the All-Terrain Series, so I had no idea who was going to show up. I had a good idea Kasie Enman would be there, since she does the ATS, but other than that, I really wasn't sure. I was told that this was a really fast ("roadie") course, as opposed to your typical trail race, so the times would be fast. This also meant people who don't do a lot of trails would be showing up. Why I bother worrying about this, I don't know, since it just doesn't matter, but I do. Besides, I'm back to being a "roadie" so I was definitely ready for the speed of the course.

I was nearly falling asleep on the way down, so I was thinking this was a bad sign, until I remembered that I can usually run through any fatigue without a problem. Shortly after we arrived, I found Jenn Brooks and Regina Loiacano, my CMS teammates, and then joined them for a warm up. I couldn't believe the course. Flat as hell. I knew this was only for the first 3 miles or so, but still. Wow. This was going to be a fast start and meant going out hard to get in a position I wanted to be in. Jenn and Regina are two of the nicest people I've ever met, so it was a joy to run with them for 2.7 miles. On the way back, just when I was thinking how easy this trail was, I tripped over a root, fell, rolled and got back on my feet. Ha ha. Was this a sign to come? Well, yes.

Once back at the car, I got John all set and then headed to the start line. I lined up with Jenn and Regina and chatted with Kevin Tilton for few minutes about the course. And then we were off. I had planned to start up front to avoid too much of a bottleneck, but it still happened. It dispersed quickly, and I made sure to see how many women were in front of me. I started passing people right off the bat, and made my way into 3rd position for women by the first mile. Kasie was up in front, with a woman in between, but we were all pretty close together. I continued to run hard because I could see I was already gaining on the second woman.  I caught up with her just before a small up and down, and after I saw she was a little apprehensive on the down hill, I moved past her. I continued to push on, passing a few more people. Kasie was still in view, and, while I didn't expect to catch her, I wanted to see how close I could stay to her. By the time we hit the power lines, she was about 45 seconds ahead, and I couldn't even see another woman behind me. I was still feeling really good, too. Michael Quintal was up at the top of the steep climb and snapped some pictures. I actually walked a part of this hill, but when I saw him, I started running again for the photos. Ha ha.
Just before mile 4. Photo by Michael Quintal
And this is where it all went to shit. Just past the power lines, 2 guys in front of me and the guy behind me took a right instead of a left. I know exactly where we went wrong. It was marked fine, but I saw the people go one way and followed. I should have known because the trail was all of sudden covered in leaves, but I didn't. This involved a steep downhill to the river. We were running along, and then the guy behind me said that he didn't see any flags. Fuck! He was right! But, wait! There were flags. A lot of them, but were they the right ones? We realized they weren't. The two guys in front of us stopped, and we were all standing there looking around. No people coming up behind us. DAMN. We knew were off course and immediately started backtracking. Then I looked WAY UP the steep hill and saw the other runners up there on the right trail. My heart sank. I had been running so well, and it had just been lost. We started moving up the hill. Fortunately, our wrong way had just paralleled the regular course, so no mileage lost or gained. Only time lost. I ran up that hill and jumped back in the race, but not before I saw Regina go by. I yelled to her to ask her how many women were ahead. She yelled out a number, but I couldn't hear her.  (It was actually 3 since Regina was in 4th.) I actually got back on the course behind the woman behind her which put me in 6th place for women. I was so bummed!! But I just started hammering it out. I HAD to catch up. And I just gave it my all. The 5th woman immediately stepped aside to let me pass. Just before the turn around, I saw that 2nd and 3rd now had a good lead on me, but I thought I might be able to catch 3rd at least, since I knew I had the skills on the hills (I can rhyme!). I passed Regina at the turn around when she stopped for water. By the time we were back to the power lines, I could see I had made a huge gain on 3rd. Mike asked what happened. He thought I had just lost it, but I told him I had gone off course. He snapped another picture, and I have no idea why I was smiling because I was pissed at myself at this point. And the runners the other way had been cheering me on for being 4th woman. Ugh. If they had only known. Just bummed me out more as I ran.
Angry but still smiling. Photo by Michael Quintal

I put it in high gear and quickly caught the 3rd woman. She was confused at first and asked if I had gone off course. I told her I did. She was cool. We both agreed that it's trail race, and it happens, which is so true. Once past her, I pushed myself so hard over the hills that I, literally, wanted to puke. By the time we had 2 miles left I was toast. I kept pushing as hard as I could and got to where I could see the second woman not too far ahead, but I knew that there wasn't enough course left to catch her. Michael Narcisi and I had been running the last 3 miles together and just before the finish he blew past me. I commented, "This is just like New Bedford all over again," and we both laughed. We had played leap frog there, too, with Michael passing me towards the end. I came through the finish all done. 1:09:33, 3rd woman, 21st overall and only 34 seconds behind 2nd woman. I had been hoping to run a 1:07:something, so that goal had obviously not been obtained. I'm not sure I would have anyway. I was still bummed after I finished and walked right to my car to see John. We took out the lawn chair for him to sit on, and he was content. I started reflecting back on my race and realized that I had actually run really well. I made a big mistake, but I had to be happy with the result considering. I had given my all to get back to where I was and immediately had an attitude change about it. Shit happens, but it's what you do to deal with it that matters, and I hadn't given up. I pushed myself to the brink, and I am happy with it. I came in 3rd!! And since the 2nd woman wasn't USATF, I ended up getting 2nd for the New England Trail Championship. I even won $50. I'll take it. 

Post-race involved awards and a unique raffle that involved prizes starting with letters of the alphabet going from A-Z. The race director is such a character and absolutely hilarious. What a treat that was to be involved in this race. I know I'll be back for future years. And I loved the course, as it was very pretty and involved a little bit of everything. Fast and flat, good climbs, a little bit of technical running (not really that technical with what I'm used to, but enough to slow you down). And the other racers were a joy to be around. I knew a lot more people there than I thought I would, so it was good to see some familiar faces and catch up with them. It's that time of year to start seeing them all again every other week or so.

After the race was over, John and I took a walk on the River Trail. He liked the graffiti on the I-93 underpass walls. I would have taken a picture, but some 9 year old had killed my phone battery. :)
We left the race and decided to pay Mike Quintal a visit to his furniture store in Lowell. We were so close by, and since I don't find myself down there often, I had to stop by for a quick visit. I drove by it twice before realizing it was the store. It was a short visit since we had to get back home to the dogs, and John was out cold in his seat, but I ended up leaving with this:
Yes. That is a high heel chair.
I had joked around with Mike last year after he posted a picture of one of these chairs on FB that I wanted one. It's just so funny. Who wouldn't want a high heel chair, right? Well, I'm now the proud owner of one. Ha ha. Thanks, Mike. 

We finally made it home and took the dogs on a walk up Heavenly Hill. John's friend, Dylan, joined us. It was his first time up, and he seemed to like it. It was a great way to round out the day.
John and his friend enjoying the view. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Last Long Run

For the second week in a row on Wednesday, I got myself up super early to get in a 5-mile treadmill run. I was about to work 34 hours straight, so there was no way I was going skip a run and take a zero, especially since I had a zero planned for Friday. 5 miles isn't much, but it makes a huge difference in how I feel during my entire shift.

The day was a little slow, but not too bad, and we ended up going out for a local transfer that didn't get us back until after 2am, so I only got about 3.5 hours of sleep. I got up a little early to shower before heading down to Tamworth for the next 10-hour shift. Just as I had soaped up, the pager goes off (without fail) but then started malfunctioning and making an awful noise so that I couldn't hear what we were being toned for. I came flying out of the shower, grabbed my towel (but hardly covered myself in it) and ran out of the bathroom so that I could hear the radio on the living room. Totally shocked my partner (thank goodness she's a woman!) as I almost ran into her in the buff. It was really funny. It turned out just to be the tones for calling crews back to the Bayle Mt fire. Phew. I thought I was going to have to go on a 911 covered in soap and with wet, messy hair.

Ended up not getting anymore calls before we both headed down for our Tamworth shift, but we weren't there even 30 minutes before we got toned out for a 911, And our truck was in the middle of getting washed and covered in soap. I'm sensing a trend. Ha ha. I wish I could share stories here of my calls, but, obviously, I can't since it would be a HIPPA violation. Yesterday was just one of those days that reminded me of why I love this job, and why I was dying a slow death working in an office. All of the people I interacted with and the moments, happy, sad, hilarious, fun. Just different every day. It makes life so much better. I was way too isolated in that office. So, needless to say, it was a good day.

By the time 5pm rolled around, I had worked 44 hours in only 3 days of work, and I was ready for a run. It was 80 degrees, and even though I had worked hard to stay hydrated all day, I was still nervous about the run I had planned. I HAD to do one last long run, and it had to be Thursday. So this was it. It had to be done. Hot, tired, whatever. I decided to start my loop with the easiest part first since I knew the temperature would drop as the sun set, and that would be when I hit the climbs. I had just gotten a brand new pair of my favorite road shoes, Brooks PureFlow (3s this time), so I decided to wear those. And, finally, not pink!!
New shoes that aren't pink!

I ran right from the ambulance base down into Freedom on Ossipee Lake Rd to Bennett Rd. Super flat, a lot of downhill. I ran with barely any effort for the first six miles and was hitting a pace just over 7 min miles. Bennett had a few good hills, and then I started a good climb once I was on Watson Hill and Burnham Rd. The temps had started to drop a bit by this point, so I was feeling pretty good. I wasn't pushing myself hard, though. I just enjoyed the view out to the Ossipee Mountains and Chocurua. The sky was hazy from the fire, but it made the lighting beautiful. I looped back to 153 right at Purity Spring and stopped in The Mill to refill my water bottle. This was my first run with water in a long time, and it was a good choice. My last bit of  water(with Nuun) was basically hot by the time I stopped for a refill. It was a really quick stop before I was back on the road up 153 and then onto East Madison Rd. This was a long climb, so I just took it easy. From E. Madison Rd, I turned onto Lead Mine Rd,, which also has some decent climbs, and ran to East Shore Dr, out to Rt 41 for the last mile back to the base which turned out to be EXACTLY 19 miles. I was really surprised at how easy this run was and how good I felt after I was done. I probably could have pushed it at a faster pace, but I really didn't have the energy. It was still decent 7:31/mi pace 1499 ft of elevation gain. Not really a difficult course, though.

Today was my planned zero day, but I didn't rest at all. I slept in until almost 8am and then headed right to the chiropractor.... my old boss. I couldn't believe I was going back there after I said I would never step foot in there again, but if I went anywhere else, I would be charged for an exam, and I didn't want to pay for that. So I bit the bullet and went back to Fryeburg. He is actually a very good chiropractor, and I felt so much better after walking out of there. I think I can handle going there as a patient. As an employee, not so much. I did some Fryeburg shopping while I was there. Picked up a new rake at the hardware store and hit Spice n Grain for more Dandelion Tea, which I drink every night. The owners always look at me suspiciously when I'm in there, and I used to go in there all the time. It's kind of weird. I hope I'm not the only one they look at that way.

Once home, I had more coffee and then went to work with my new rake on my trail up Heavenly Hill. What I thought would take maybe an hour took 3.5 hours, and I only made it 3/4 of the way. And the trail is only 0.6 miles. It was that covered in leaves. I was beat by the time John came home, and I had to stop raking. I even managed blisters on my hands with gloves on.
The worst section before

The worst section after. Not perfect, but it will do.
John and all 3 dogs greeted me out on the trail just as I got back near the house. I had to take about 30 minutes to sit down and eat before showering and making a quick trip to Walmart for a birthday present. The rest of the evening was spent at John's friend's birthday party, and I am now beat. I wasn't even going to write this blog post, but I wanted to get it done. Up early to head to the Merrimack River Trail Race. Looks like the weather will be perfect. Hopefully, I'll have the energy for it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I forgot to post this in the last blog entry, but I hit 1000 miles for the year on Saturday! Not that I have ever cared or really care, but when I saw it on Strava, I thought it was pretty neat.

Monday was pretty quiet at the ambulance for the first half of the day. There were a couple of calls, including a car in the lake at Purity Spring that the other crew went to. The fence that my ambulance partner had just put up there last week (he works there, too) had been destroyed in the process, so it was probably a good thing we weren't the crew to respond. Haha. I tried to sit outside for awhile, but as temps got up to 80, I was way too hot in the sun. 
Soaking in the sun just before the temps rose drastically

I don't remember why, but I ended up on the United States Snowshoe Association's 2015 qualifying page on their website. I had never looked to see who qualified for Nationals this winter since I wasn't participating, but thank goodness I did, because there she was right on the list, my alter ego, LESLIE BECKWITH!
2015 qualifiers 
How she snuck in and qualified behind my back, I'll never know, but she has a funny way of doing that. So there we were, BOTH on the list! Now, I wish I had raced it because I'm pretty sure I would have kicked her ass. I also found out a few months ago that she was pulling shifts at the ambulance. I came to pick up my paycheck, and in addition to mine, I saw she had one, too! And it was the same amount!! The nerve!!

We finally got a decent 911 around 2pm, which from Tamworth, usually takes about 2 hours to get done, so we got back to the base right around 4pm. I was pretty dehydrated after sweating my ass off on that call, so I tried to catch up a bit before I had to meet Jim Johnson and Darin Brown for a run. I made an effort, but I was parched for most of the run. I met those guys at Madison Town Beach, and they took me on a nice running tour of the snowmobile trails and dirt roads of Freedom and Madison. It had cooled off a bit and with us running in the shade, the temp was perfect. It was a bit muddy in parts through the Pine Barrens section, but the rest was pretty dry. We did a 10.3 mile loop that took us past the air strip and up to Lead Mine Rd where we added on a really nice section of trail around a pond. Darin wasn't too thrilled to be on the single track, so once we hit a wider path, Jim took us onto that for the way back to Lead Mine, with just a short distance back to the cars. We had quite a few ticks on us after the run, which I hate, but I'm used to it with the dogs. Still gross, though. 

Tuesday morning runs are usually kind of difficult if I've done a long run the night before, and today was no exception. It was a decent run, but my legs felt really heavy just over halfway through. As much as I really wanted to be on the trail, I decided that I really needed to get a decent road run in today. So this week's elevation won't be up to par with what I've been trying to do, but that's ok. I plan to hit the trails and mountains more next week, and as soon as Vermont is done, I will stop focusing so much on the road. I still have a lot of road races planned for the year, but nothing over a half marathon and mostly just 5ks and 10ks. So I drove to one of my usual places at Chocorua Lake for one of my winter go-to runs. I ran 12 miles, mostly just an out-and-back with a slight deviation on the way back. 7:19/mi pace. I would have liked to have run that just a little bit faster, but it just wasn't happening today. The weather was beautiful, though, and the road quiet, so I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

John came home shortly after I got back, and, when given the choice of a mountain bike ride or a walk, he chose to mountain bike. So we hit up Sticks and Stones off Thompson Rd. This was the first time we've been able to actually ride this together without him having to stop constantly to walk. His old bike just made it too difficult. With his new bike, he was schooling me! It was fun. We only did 2.5 miles, but for him, it was a lot of effort; he had ninja class later so I didn't want to wear him out too much.
John riding Sticks 'n Stones
Once we got home, I worked on a few projects. I put up the screen doors (well, one I still have to actually drill holes into, so it's just resting in the door jam) since the black flies are starting to make their appearance. I kind of procrastinated on our gardens in April and got to work on those. We just have two very small raised bed gardens (definitely not fancy or sophisticated), so it wasn't much work clearing them out. I had soil and compost leftover from last year to make it even more convenient. I planted some stuff in one garden, except the tomatoes which stay in the house for another month. We'll plant Johns flower garden in June. As I was cleaning it, I realized that the strawberry plants from last year were growing underneath the winter mess. Pretty cool. We never got strawberries from them last year, but I'm hoping this year will be the exception.
Garden 1s mess. I don't know why my former "roommate" put that wood raised bed around it, but I was too lazy to remove it.
Garden 2s mess.
Garden 1 is definitely not pretty, but it fits my personality. LOL.
Strawberry plants in garden 2!
Sitting in my yard
Tomorrow, I'm back to work in North Conway for my 24, but it won't just be a 24. I'll be going right from the NoCo base at 7am on Thursday to the Tamworth base for another 10 hour shift to make it a 34. I convinced my Wednesday partner to pick up the other half of the crew on Thursday, so we'll both be making the trek from one base to the other for the 34. If we are out all night on Wednesday, we are going to be wrecked on Thursday. I might actually have to nap!! I'm not a napper either, but I might just have to force the issue with myself. I have one more long run to do after work Thursday, so I hope I'm not too tired. Friday will be a zero day for sure, and then it's the Merrimack River Trail Race on Saturday.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Children's Museum of NH 5K

The Children's Museum of NH 5K wasn't in my plan until about 3 weeks ago when the Merrimack River Trail Race got postponed to May 9th. I was planning to run Seven Sisters this weekend, but after the postponement, I decided I probably shouldn't do these two killer races back-to-back with Vermont City Marathon coming up. I'm already racing every weekend leading up to Vermont, but I didn't want to kill myself. Six03 Endurance invited me to Children's Museum via FB, so I thought it would be a perfect way to continue my "speed work", and I signed up. After doing so well at the Rescue Run, I thought I might have a chance to win this race, but I was still a little nervous about it. My 5K days are WAY BACK in the past, and I really have no idea what I'm doing. I have just been going out fast from the get-go and trying to hang on. Seems to be working, I guess.

John and I headed down there early. He pretty much goes from being asleep to going back to sleep in the car, so for him, it's not too bad. I was actually nervous, and I hadn't taken it easy at all during the week. That usually seems to work for me, but I do sometimes wonder if I'm burning the candle at both ends. If I am, well then, so be it. It keeps me going. Once I arrived, I parked right in the lot by the start and finish. I kind of felt stupid since I had no idea where the bib pickup was and started asking around. I finally found someone who knew who walked me up around the pool building where it was. I found Jim Johnson, Melissa Donais and Nate Jenkins there and chatted with them a bit after picking up my bib. This was Melissa's first race back after being injured all winter, and she also seemed a little nervous. I headed back to the car to drop my stuff and get ready for a warm up. I was planning 2 miles, but just as I started up the hill, Jim caught up with me, and before I knew it, I was committed to the full course for the warmup. Ha ha. The pace was pretty fast, probably faster than I would have run by myself. By the time we finished, I felt like I had already raced. :) It was good to do the course beforehand, and I was thankful for it during the race since I knew all of the ups and downs. After the warmup, I got ready for the race and made my way to the start line. I ran into Darin Brown, another MWV runner, whom I've known (and somewhat worked with at the hospital ER) for the last 4 years. He was another runner on the injured list who is trying to get his speed back right now. Darin wanted to go sub-19. I did, too, so we lined up together. I chatted with Melissa at the start for a little bit, as well. I thought for sure she would kill me here, since this is her distance, so I started behind her when she moved up almost to the line. After the National Anthem, the race started.
You can see Darin and me in the Six03 red shirts and Melissa in between us in the CMS gear.
I went out hard right from the start. The race starts on an uphill that doesn't really let up until past the first mile, so I decided to just push the first mile. I passed Melissa and Darin right past the start line and never saw them again during the race. I kept getting nervous that every time I turned around, Melissa would be right over my shoulder, but by the time I made my first look back, I didn't see any woman at all. That brought me a huge relief, but I still didn't let up since I wanted to go sub-19. I hit the first mile in 6:04, which I was happy with, but the second mile was slower in 6:05. That was a bit surprising since it less of an uphill, but it was still ok. The third mile is much faster with a really decent downhill, so I was happy to see a 5:47 for that. I was also surprised because around 2.8, I was tanking, and the guy who had been on my heels for the whole race passed me easily. I took one last look back as we turned off the bridge and saw no competition, so I knew that if I continued to tank, I would still have 1st woman in the bag.
Just before the bridge around mile 2.7 or so
I wasn't looking at my watch at all for the last mile, so when I saw the clock at the finish, I was psyched. I knew I had a sub-19 easily. I made it through the finish in 18:47 on the clock (18:46 chip time), 1st woman, 10th overall. Darin finished less than 20 seconds behind me for 11th place and top master. Race Results. I was very happy with my run. I didn't expect to run that fast on that course. It is definitely not a fast course. I also didn't expect to beat Melissa, who came in almost a minute behind me. I think I'm going to try to do the Seacoast Series now (well, 6 out of the 8). I can't do Redhook, but I've been signed up for Market Square for a few weeks. I think I'll plan on the ones following it, except for the last one (day before the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon).
Absolutely horrid picture, but you can actually tell I was hurting. 
As soon as I finished, I was sucking wind and just had to keep walking, so I walked up the hill and then back to where I ran into a Foster's reporter wanting to interview me. Darin was there with me chiming in, but of course, my stupid comments are the only ones that made it in the article. I need to chose my words more carefully next time. Haha. Here's a link to the article: Children's Museum of NH 2015 Article. I really do sound like an idiot. Oh well. (It wasn't the only article I got a mention in in Foster's today, though. A few of us were featured as New Hampshire running bloggers. I like this article since I don't sound like a total idiot. Ha ha. Follow these four NH runners' blogs. Thank you to Nancy Eckerson for this one.)

After my interview (the water and mills are so pretty! Ugh), Jim, Darin, Eric Couture and Derrick Hamel were all headed on a cool down and invited me along. I had to check on John first but said I would try to catch up. John was happy where he was, so I bolted up the road trying to catch those guys. It took me over half a mile to catch them. I only ran about another half mile with them before turning back to the finish area for a 2.1 mile cool down. It was almost time for John's kid race. He was so mad that I signed him up for it. It was only a 1/4 mile race, and I knew that was up his alley. As much as he protests about getting out of the house or car, once he's out, he's good and hardly ever complains. I got his shirt and bib# and then we watched the younger kids' races. They were so cute. John was actually excited at this point so when it was his turn, he walked happily to the start line. He went off at a good sprint and raced hard for his one lap around the track. He ran hard the whole way. He didn't win, but it didn't matter. Just getting him out there and for him to tell me that it was a lot of fun afterward was all that I cared about.
John near the finish of the 1/4 mile kids race

I forgot to take a picture of him at the race so I snagged this one at the Albany Town Forest. LOL.
After his race, we grabbed more pizza and snacks. Nate Huppe was there and joined us. He lives nearby and came out to spectate. Nate brought his Super Soaker water gun that I was shot with multiple times by Nate and then John. Nate also tried to get me to try ghost peppers that he brought along, but I wasn't having it. Nice try, Nate.
The awards followed. I won 10 lobster dinners to the Weathervane. So I need 8 more people to join me when I do use them! Ha ha. John played on the playground for a bit; we said goodbye to Nate and hit the road. We went south for a bit to hit Trader Joe's in Newington and then back north for home. Once we were home, I grabbed the three dogs, and we all went for a 2-mile walk in the Albany Town Forest. That was pretty much it for the day. 

I decided to bag the local Spring into Spring 5k this morning. I just wasn't feeling up to racing hard again and didn't want to spend the money, so it ended up being my typical Sunday of Heavenly Hill repeats. I ran 4 of them today. It was actually pretty hot out when I ran them, so I was hurting a bit. I also realized that I cannot do them again without clearing the trail. The leaves are atrocious. It's like the end of Fall up there. So my plan is to clear the trail during my Friday zero day next week. It's time to get the trail work done. For the week, I ended up with 64 miles and over 6000 ft of elevation gain. I've been trying to get over 5000 ft of gain in a week to help prepare me for the Mountain Series. I've been doing pretty well so far. And just over 60 miles a week is where I want to be, also, so I'm hitting it right.

John and I spent the afternoon hiking up Mt Willard in Crawford Notch. The trail is still completely snow-covered, but we didn't need microspikes or any other traction. The snow is kind of sticky. John is funny. As soon as he saw the snow on the trail, he yelled out, "Snow?! It's Spring, goddammit!" Ha ha. Oops. I was glad no one was around to hear my 9 year old say that, but come on, we all know he's right, goddammit! :) It was an easy hike for us up to the top, where we stayed for about 10 minutes checking out the awesome view of Crawford Notch. 
John put his leg in a posthole

Obliging for the camera

After our hike, we stopped at Glen Fire Station so I could do some billing for the ambulance. It took a little longer than I planned, but we made it home a little before 7pm. John actually wanted to join me to take the dogs out (that never happens). He got a big kick out of me sliding into the brook from a rotten tree I was standing on. Good times. We had a great weekend together.
The brook behind our house