Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014

Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014

Saturday, January 31, 2015


This is a weird week for me. Today started 3 days straight of my EMT refresher course at SOLO, followed by a 4th day for my Wilderness EMT recertification. So everything has been thrown off. On the plus side, I actually have my first overnight house guests (other than my parents) since I've lived here. My friend, Jeremy, from my original Wilderness EMT class in 2011, texted me on Friday saying he and his friend, Ryan, were coming down from Bangor for the refresher. He said they had a place to stay in Plymouth, but he was wondering if I knew anywhere in town. I didn't hesitate to offer my place. They're super nice guys, and they have made me dinner for the last two nights. You can't beat that since it doesn't happen often. It's been nice to have other people in the house to talk to, eat dinner with and watch a movie with. They'll be here one more night, but I think they're planning to head somewhere to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow night. The refresher course was pretty fun for day one. Our group of locals (including both of my bosses from two different ambulance services) is slacking off, pretty much just talking and hanging out all day. We're still practicing our skills, but it's just super laid back and allowing us to have fun with it.
As far as running goes, it looks like treadmill runs for most of these days. Hardly any elevation gain for the week, and that's killing me, but it is what it is. Yesterday, I had planned to head to The Mill for a swim, but I didn't want to do any extra driving since it was still snowing, so I just came home after work, snowblowed the driveway and then did about 40 minutes of weight training. I am so weak compared to where I was in August. I keep track of the weights and reps, so I can see the difference. I'll get it back, though. This morning, I got up early and hit the treadmill for 8 miles, 7:18 pace, 1-3% incline (that's what I always do). Watched Mad Men again. I felt good. Definitely what I needed before the refresher. Class starts an hour earlier tomorrow, so I'm going to push my run until after class. It will probably just be the treadmill again, but at least I have that option, so I can't complain. I'm bummed to be missing races this weekend like the Cape Elizabeth 10-miler and Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race. It would have even been cool to go run in the Snowshoe World Championship Race in Quebec today, but, once again, it is what it is. Just have to accept it and look forward to a double next weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

1 Week Post-Smashed Face

I smashed my face on the ice a week ago, and it seems to be healing nicely. The cuts on my nose and chin are still visible, plus the slight bruising on the bridge of my nose onto my cheeks in certain light. My inner lower lip is a bit puffy from my teeth cutting into it, but it's not super noticeable, unless you watch me try to eat soup. I'm a mess.
One week after eating ice and sand.
I'm really lucky to have hit the road the way I did. It could have been a bad head injury or busted teeth, so I'll take being an ugly duckling for a week+ over that any day.
Today, I hit the roads around Chocorua Lake again. This has been my go-to lately for road runs since it's close to my house and quiet. I might see 2 or 3 cars the whole time. Today, I did a little extra out and back on Philbrook Neighborhood Rd because I wanted to do at least 10. I didn't measure it beforehand and ended up with 12.5, so I was stoked. The roads were plowed well, almost too well, as the ice was exposed in a lot of places, but I ran on the side where the snow and sand were a little bit thicker. I had on my new (now already getting dull) microspikes, so I didn't slip at all, but I couldn't stop imagining falling on my face again and then having to write about it. Ha ha. I'd rather put up a goofball picture (see above) of how well it's healing. My run was nice. Cold at the start at -7, but it had warmed up into the teens by the time I finished. I ran a little slower than I would have liked at a 7:43 min pace, but my legs are still screaming at me. I might skip running tomorrow to hit the pool and do some weight training at home after. My ass and hamstrings are just sore from Sunday still.  My left knee felt painful during the run so I started to get worried. I realized after that I had a huge bruise on it, so I must have knocked it on something at some point that I can't recollect. I'm always bruising myself, so who knows.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snowshoe Run

I could NOT wait to get out of work tonight. It was a somber day, following the murder-suicide in Fryeburg on Monday. It's a small town, so it's hitting people hard, and today was one of those days where I just wanted to walk out and never go back. So the anticipated run got me through the day.
I got out at 6pm and decided to stay in Fryeburg on the Mountain Division Trail, which follows the RR tracks, for an out-and-back 6 miles with my Dion Snowshoes. Nothing in the way of elevation gain, but the snow was soft. Snowmobiles had hit the first (and last) 1.5 miles which made it pretty runnable, but soft. The middle 3 miles were super soft since maybe 1 snowmobile had gone through there during the day. The pace was slow around 9:33/mile, but the effort was intense. I was super warm, and the fresh air felt great after sitting in the office all day. It was just what I needed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Monday, I was still really sore, especially my right calf and hamstring, so I just took it easy and swam for 30 minutes in the pool at The Mill after work. It felt really good, but I could feel the tired legs even while I was swimming.
Today, I actually slept in a bit and had coffee before my run. I usually get up early and head out the door really early for a run so I make it back in time for my son to be dropped off. But with snow starting to fall, I decided to just run on the treadmill in my basement. I took it pretty easy. 8 miles in 58:53, between 1-3% incline. I watched Mad Men on Netflix to pass the time. Not really the most upbeat thing to watch while running, but it worked out for me.
I decided not to drive anywhere today, so I took John snowshoeing up Heavenly Hill. We had a really good time. He LOVED running downhill in his snowshoes, so maybe, just maybe I'll make a runner out of him some day.
I got a little snowblowing workout in tonight and will have to do it again in the morning before work. I did have a bit of a freak out when the snowblower wasn't spinning after it had worked perfectly fine the last time I had used it, but after inspecting it, I found ice was jamming it. It was hard to see at first, but with a headlamp, I was able to spot it way in the back. 4 bottles of hot water melted it right out and the snowblower worked like a champ. Snowshoe run tomorrow!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Boston Prep 16-Miler

Sunday was my first time racing the Boston Prep 16-Miler. This race wasn't even on my radar until Jim Johnson suggested it last Monday when it was pretty certain that the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race was going to be cancelled. A year ago, I would have had ZERO interest in this race, but it looked challenging and right around the mileage I've been training up to, so I was in. By Wednesday, Sidehiller was a definite cancellation, so I actually got excited about Boston Prep and started mentally preparing for it. With Saturday night's storm, I was a little worried they could postpone the race, but by the time Sunday rolled around, the weather was perfect.
Sunday morning, I got up early since my son, John,  was coming with me. I had to get his stuff together and make breakfast. Sunday races are now presenting a new challenge for me since I have John every Sunday. I've had to start asking for help (which I hate doing, but I'm learning), and aR teammate, Kathleen Boulter, stepped up to the plate for me in a big way. She lives close by and came over to hang out with John while I raced. We got to the race really early, and while we waited in the gym for Kathleen to arrive, I scoped out the competition. I didn't know anyone there except Jim and Rich Lavers. I had no idea who any of the women were. They were all dressed "fast", so I didn't know if it was for show or the real deal. I, on the other hand, purposely dressed "slow" with a denim running skirt and a non-team singlet (opted for my Level Renner tank).
Once John was all set with Kathleen, I got a decent 1.5-mile warm-up. By the end, I was too warm so I stripped down a layer and got prepared to head to the start. As soon as I turned the corner to the start, I spotted the one woman I knew would be my competition, and sure enough, she was. And the ONLY one. As soon as the race started, I immediately passed every woman who started in front of me, but her. It was good to have her there because she really pulled me along and had me at my max right from the get-go. I never was able to catch her, but stayed consistently about 20 yards back until the halfway point. I could tell by the way she was running that she was taking it easy, so my goal was really just to stay with her for as long as I could, but, man, she had me going hard. By mile 6, my legs were already burning. Every muscle, quads, hamstrings, calves. I actually started to get nervous that I was going to bonk by mile 10. I did lose a bit of momentum when the hills started, and I struggled up them. I'm a good uphiller, but my legs were trashed. I just did what I could to stay under an 8 minute pace for those 3 miles and was surprised to stay in the low 7s for the first two and 7:31 for the third. At mile marker 11, I got a nice surprise when Kathleen and John showed up to cheer me on. It has had to be over 2 years, maybe 3, since I've been able to see John mid-race. I loved seeing him there, and it really brightened my mood for the rest of the way. I got passed by two men during those 3 miles, but as soon as the hills were done, I was able to somewhat catch back up with the guy who would eventually finish in front of me. My legs were completely done for the last 3 miles, but I just kept pushing hard all the way to the finish. I didn't know who was behind me, so I couldn't let up at all and finished strong as 2nd woman, 20th overall with a 1:45:45, an average pace of 6:37. I had no idea what I was going to run coming into this. My weak goal was a sub-2 hour; my top goal was a 6:45 pace, since I've been feeling slow and heavy for the past month. I surprised myself with a strong run on a tough course, so I'm really happy with the run. It's good to know I'm right where I want to be.
Finish line. Photo by Kathleen Boulter

Post-race was a decent spread of food in the cafeteria at the middle school. I won a Boston Prep hoody in the awards. The best awards were the bottles of syrup... like the one Jim won. Unfortunately, my son had a spaz moment and knocked Jim's bottle off the table and onto the floor, smashing it into pieces. It was awful. I felt so bad, and I don't think he will let me live this one down... ever. I should have anticipated an 8 year old boy anywhere near a glass bottle on a table as an accident waiting to happen, but I didn't. I usually move any glasses away from his arms without even thinking about it, but I guess I was distracted this time. Bummer.
So other than that, it was a good day. My next long race is Eastern States 20-miler, with a whole bunch of snowshoe races in between. If I can fit anything else in that looks interesting, then I'm game.
The syrup destroyer waiting for me at the finish line. Photo by Kathleen Boulter.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Rest" Day

I didn't really rest today, but I also didn't run much. As soon as I woke up, I ran my 3 dogs up to the top of Heavenly Hill and back. This is a hill right behind my house that we made a trail up to the top of. It's right around 960', so it's about a 490' gain. Nice little run for 1.4 miles.
I had some (a lot) coffee, made my son pancakes and then did a little weight training for about 35 minutes. For a year and a half, I had been really consistent with weight training, 2-3 days a week, but when life stress hit its max this past August, I completely quit. All I wanted to do was run. And that's all I've done, so I've lost all of the strength I had built up. I think it's time for me to get back into it consistently since I really need my whole body to be strong and not just my legs. We'll see how that goes, though. I seem to have less time for extra things most days.
Later on, I took my son, John, downhill skiing at Black Mt. He loves it. I, on the other hand, just kind of like it. It is fun, but every time I'm out there I feel like I'm risking my life. I didn't grow up skiing much, so I'm not a very good skier. I don't think I'm terrible, but according to John, I'm in the 56th percentile for my downhill ski skills. So I guess that's a failing grade. Ha ha. I'd much prefer to use that money for some skate skis and just do nordic skiing all winter, but I'll stick with the downhill for my kid. Black Mt gives EMS personnel in the Valley an awesome deal on season passes, so it really doesn't cost us much each year. Conditions were actually pretty good, considering it was almost all man-made snow. A few icy spots here and there, but that's to be expected. You ski the East; you ski the ice.
Early to bed tonight, since it's race day tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Black Cap

Headed out after work for an easy 6.2 miles out-and-back to the summit of Black Cap Mt via Hurricane Mountain Rd and the Black Cap Trail. Perfect running conditions with microspikes. Pretty solid. Not much ice (yay!), so no face plants for me today. Great day to be in the mountains, as it wasn't too cold and the sun was shining on Mt. Washington. I really just needed some elevation today. I scared an older  guy skinning on the way up as I passed him, but then stopped to talk to him on my way back down. He first asked where I was from and then my name. He didn't know me, nor I him (he said he was Phil Ostrowski, an ultrarunner back in the day), but then said, "You must know Kevin Tilton." I laughed and told him I did. I guess if you're mountain running around here, then you must know Kevin. Ha ha. Will do minimal running tomorrow just to keep up with "resting" this week. Not sure my idea of resting qualifies as resting, but it's what I'm doing. Race on Sunday, unless this snow storm messes that up. Funny, if both races I was going to do got cancelled, one due to lack of snow and the other due to too much snow.