Manchester City Marathon

Manchester City Marathon

Monday, January 16, 2017

Resolution 5K Beach & Trail Race

So another week of keeping the miles up in the 60 range where I like them. 60.2 to be exact. Haha. This was a fun week. I ran a little of everything from road, treadmill, mountain, trail and BEACH! My first race of 2017 took us back to Rhode Island for the Resolution Beach 5K, the first of the 4th Season Races and my first time doing it. The entire week ended up pretty adventurous with my running. Black ice, freezing rain, post-holing through frozen snow and then a snowstorm on the beach. I honestly don't know if I could have done more diverse running conditions if I tried. So all-in-all, a good week. I took home the women's win at Resolution and then landed on the cover of the Level Renner Jan/Feb 2017 edition thanks to Scott Mason, the LVL crew and the weather! So now, I'll be annoying people with my face for the next two months. Yay!

About 30 minutes into the start of Winter Storm Helena
Monday, January 2, 2017- Couldn't get up early to run on the treadmill before work. Yeah, another week of no observed holidays. People shouldn't be allowed to call 911 on an observed holiday so that I can take the day off. Haha. But, noooooooo, we were SO BUSY. And it was the week of repeat patients both shifts. And I mean, the same patients twice in one shift AND other patients I have taken multiple times. The frequent fliers. I brought running clothes and was able to squeeze in a 5 mile run on the work treadmill, once again turning it up to its max speed for an easy paced run. Haha. 36:37 for the 5. Still a decent pace, but I can't change the elevation on it like I do at home, so that makes it easier. I'm not complaining. At least I have the option there to run at the Tamworth base. The shit pretty much hit the fan right after I finished my run. Two 911s overnight left me without about 3.5 hour of sleep total (it was broken up).

Treadmill literally at its max
Tuesday, January 3, 2017- With weather predicted to turn to frozen rain early, I planned ahead and brought all of my running stuff so that I could run right from work. I had a long run planned so I needed an "easier" route in order to get it done faster and opted for an out-and-back on Ossipee Lake Rd from the ambulance base. It's almost exactly 7.5 miles one way. I got out just before 7:30am. I felt good from the get-go hovering close to a 7-min pace for the first 10 miles. Unfortunately for me, I didn't beat the weather. The sleet/frozen rain started during mile 10, and by mile 11, I was running on black ice. A plow truck came by and dumped sand down the center line which wasn't much help to me except when the road was void of cars and I could run down the middle, but I spent a lot of the last 5 miles on the black ice and on the shoulder which was a little better with the snow covered in some sand. I was surprised I was able to maintain the pace I did. I ran really consistent right around 7:15/mi pace for the last 5. The running wasn't fun, though. I was soaked immediately and then all of my clothes froze into ice. Literally. My jacket was frozen solid on the front when I finished. It was pretty funny. I was glad I chose this route, though. I didn't want to be out in that weather any longer than I was. 15.1 miles in 1:48:05. 7:08/mi avg pace. So a really good run even with the weather.

I changed into dry clothes when I got back to the base and drove over to the Tamworth Lyceum for a latte and whatever that delicious sweet thing was that I got. It tasted like a pumpkin cake covered in a sweet cream frosting. I don't know if that's what it was, but it was so good. I did NOT need that, though. I may have run 15 miles, but the sugar consumption over the last month really didn't need to continue. Haha.

Latte at the Lyceum
When John came home later, we ended up going to King Pine to do some downhill skiing. It had been snowing, and the roads were terrible, but it's really the only day we can ski since I only got mid-week passes, so we were going dammit. The snow turned into freezing rain again, and we were drenched the whole time. The skiing conditions were great, and John didn't have a care in the world. I only lasted about an hour before I was freezing and called it quits. I felt bad, but the cold, frozen rain just chilled me to my core while riding on the lift.

King Pine skiing in the frozen rain
The freezing rain eventually turned into snow just in time to go to ninja class. The roads were horrible, but I took John to class anyway. John wanted Taco Tuesday from Jalisco again, so we did that after ninja. He would end up eating two bites of one taco and never finished the rest or the other tacos. Soooo, Taco Tuesday ended after only 2 weeks. Haha. Another thing this body didn't need anyway was Taco Tuesday, so it was for the best that we don't continue that. Got in 20 minutes of strength training pretty late. I was SO tired from the lack of sleep but still got to bed late.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017- No idea how I got up at 4:30am for my treadmill run. I had had only about 8 hours of sleep in two days. I was definitely tired and ran it on the slow side for me. 5 miles in 36:47. We ended up being SO busy at work starting before 8am. We were either on a call or I was writing a report until the evening. How we managed to not get called out overnight is beyond me, but we did get an early wake-up call at 6am that put us about 30 minutes past the end of our shift. The sad part about that is that our company won't pay us for the full 24 hours unless we go out at night between 10p-4a, which we didn't. Busy as hell but giving the company 4 hours for free. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Worst company I've ever worked for in my life. But I choose to stay, so it's my own fault.

Thursday, January 5, 2017- A beautiful sunny day, so I had to get up in the mountains. The temperature had dropped close to zero overnight so I expected the trails to be pretty solid. My original plan was Chocorua, but after seeing another friend's post earlier in the week at Castle in the Clouds, I knew I had to go over there. I spent about 30 minutes that morning plotting out 5 different routes. I didn't want to do a long run since I had an appointment with Tina at 3pm in Dover. I ended up not running any of them. With Spot and Phoenix in tow, I started at the lower trailhead on 171 and ran up the Shannon Pond Trail which is also a snowmobile trail in the winter. Footing was solid, especially with microspikes. I had finally decided on a Bald Knob loop, but I only made it about 10 yards before I started postholing and turned around and continued on the snowmobile trail. At this point I really had no idea what the rest of the trail would be like, but I knew I could always just stick to the snowmobile trails if need be.

At the fork where the snowmobile trail and the Shannon Brook Trail split. Two trails diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one up Mt Roberts, and that has made all the difference in having bruised shins or not! Ha.

The trail had been packed down at some point. The rain from the day before melted it, and then it froze solid making it the perfect running surface with spikes, so I decided to continue with it up Mt Roberts. As long as I stayed in the narrow, packed portion of the trail, it was solid and made for awesome running. It was beautiful, and I was really enjoying myself. Then all of a sudden conditions changed as soon as I hit the ledges about 1.3 miles from the summit. The solid footing began to feel less solid. The previous day's warm sun must have melted the snow and only a very thin layer had frozen over top. I learned quickly that one misstep off the packed trail (which was soft itself) meant postholing through the ice into the soft snow below. And that meant my shins jamming right into the ice. There was a lot of cursing going on when that happened. I had to slow it down at that point to carefully follow the trail. It was SO beautiful up there. So worth it. The freezing rain had covered all of the trees in thick ice, and then about .3 from the summit, there was a fresh layer of snow that must have fallen overnight. The mountain tops were all white from that and the ice. Even though it was chilly from the cold temp and wind, the sun was warm, so I was able to stop at the summit for longer than usual.


Spot and all white

The trees were covered in ice.

Phoenix on a fresh layer of snow just below the summit

Ice covered

The sun went behind the clouds and made this a great shot of Phoenix and Lake Winnipesaukee. 

My little dog is tough.
I took a lot of photos on the way back down since it was slow-going for the first mile anyway. As much as I tried to follow my footprints to stay on the trail, I still managed to post-hole even more than on the way up which resulted in more expletives yelled at the top of my lungs. That shit hurt! I was thankful when we finally reached the solid trail again, and I was able to fly down the mountain. I did have to stop to wait on Spot since her downhill running has greatly slowed in her old age, but when I was running, I was moving quickly. Finished up with 8.2 miles.

I changed into dry clothes that made me look like a local. I'm assuming this because I stopped at Cup & Crumb on the way home for a latte and pastry (and I wonder why I'm gaining weight!). When it came time to pay, the barista didn't even ask if I was a member; she just turned the computer to me to input my member number. Never asked if I was a member like they usually do. So I had to assume I looked like a true local who had just stepped away from my farm work to grab a snack. Haha. I definitely looked it.
I could not get a good picture of the bruises, but you can kind of make out that half of my shin is swollen and bruised.
By the time I got home, I only had about 45 minutes before I had to leave for Dover. Spot wanted back out, so I let her out. I showered, then was ready to go, Spot. This was going to be my third try in a month to get to an appointment with Tina. The first time was thwarted by Spot's paw in the trap, the second by Fortis (the snowstorm the week before) and now, it looked like it could be Spot again. Ugh!! I called and called, but no Spot. I really needed to leave to get there on time. I have no idea how this popped in my head, but I immediately thought of the one thing that always has Spot right at the door in an instant... gunshots. Well, I looked like a local, so I guess it was time to act like one, too. I took the gun outside, stood on my porch and shot it in the air. I contributed to my early hearing loss, but within 2 minutes, Spot was at the door ready to come in. SOOOOONEWHAMPSHIRE. Well, it worked, didn't it? Hahahaha.

After driving in two circles around downtown Dover listening to Google tell me, "You have arrived. Your destination is on your left," over and over and over, I finally had to park and call Tina to get directions to her new space in the Bending Bodhi Yoga Studio. Turned out, Google was right. I had arrived at my destination, and it was on my left. There was just no sign. I love her new space at the Yoga studio! My massage was wonderful as always. It was LONG overdue. I was a mess! But Tina worked her magic. I still can't recommend her enough! Tina Carr, Licensed Massage Therapist.

My next destination was just down the stairs on the other side of the building. Garrison City Beerworks, where I was meeting Tom Hooper briefly. Maureen Gillespie just happened to be walking her dogs and saw Tom, so she was there, too. Although I was there for the beer, it was also somewhat of a business meeting with the owner to talk about sponsoring my race and another trail race Six03 is putting on in April. I'm excited that we'll have Garrison City beer as one of our awards at the Dirty Girl.

Maureen, Tom and my flight at Garrison City
Tom had to bail shortly thereafter for another meeting, but I hung out with Maureen for awhile longer. When I finished my beer, I realized I was starving and decided to walk over the Brickhouse. The bar was full, so I had to sit at a table for 2. After posting a picture of my imaginary date in the empty seat across from on the FB beer page, it was only about 15 minutes before my seat was filled. Mark Arsenault saw my post and then joined me for the rest of the evening. I hadn't talked to Mark in over a year, so we caught up over beers and dinner then I drove home. Ran into Korrie Von Wedel there, too, when she came in with friends. I just have to say that this would never have happened in North Conway. How is it I go to Dover and randomly meet up with people I know, but here in the Valley, nada? Just shows you that I'm living in the wrong place.

Mark at the Brickhouse
Friday, January 6, 2017-

Woke up extremely bloated. Major water retention. Not TMI this time since it always happens after the massage. This was why I had originally booked the appointment for the week before. This made me nervous for Saturday's race, but there was nothing I could do at this point.

After little sleep all week, I slept in then drove up the icy Kanc to Bear Notch Rd. I had planned to run a quick 6ish miles in microspikes. The road had been packed down by snowmobiles, but the warm temps had really softened it up. Snowshoes would have been a much better option, but I didn't have them. Since I knew this wouldn't be the quick run I had planned, I decided to just add on miles and ended up doing 10. It was slow, but still a good workout, nonetheless. 1:27:59. 8:41/mi avg pace. It was probably a good thing I was forced to keep it slow since I had a race the next morning anyway.

View from the run

Bear Notch Rd
As soon as John came home, we packed up the car and drove to Rhode Island. I don't know how it happened, but we drove I-95 right at Friday night rush-hour and didn't hit a single bit of traffic!! I doubt that will ever happen again! We made great time. Checked into the La Quinta then met Rachel Flaksman at Doherty's for drinks and dinner. We had a good time, and it was nice to have the company.

Photo Rachel took of us

Me with Spot and Phoenix in the hotel room

Selfie I took of us at Doherty's

Saturday, January 7, 2017- Resolution 5k Beach & Trail Race

Woke up to dark skies. The inevitable snowstorm loomed off to the south. The snow was set to fly right around the race start time. I was happy for the easy drive down to Narragansett, but I had a strong feeling we wouldn't be going home that day. Knowing this, I should have gone ahead and extended our stay another night at the hotel. Not sure if our second night would have been the same rate, but it would have been worth a shot to save $30! I had booked way in advance with a cyber Monday deal. But I still wasn't ready to make the call, so we checked out.

Once at Scarborough, it was cold and the wind was picking up. I was psyched that Mike Galoob hadn't postponed the race because what lay ahead was a pretty cool race experience. I checked in, then took Chill on a 2-mile warm up backwards on the ocean side of course. I warmed up quickly once I got moving. Although the trail along the water was snow-covered, it wasn't too slippery since it had been packed down. I had been dying to do this race, and as I ran the course, I was so happy to be there. So beautiful! On the way back, I ended up getting taken out by dog and fell into the seaweed. It was actually pretty funny. The dog was trying to play with Chill and ran over, cutting me off. I actually had Chill on leash at that point, believe it or not...although I let him off-leash for most of the run when there were no other people around. The puffiness/water retention was still there, unfortunately. It definitely affects my running, but I hoped I could get through it today. I'll have to plan my next massage much better because it ended up taking 5 days for my body to return to normal.

I beat Michael Crutchley in the registration competition and ended up with bib #1. Haha.
I decided to take Spot and Phoenix out post-race since I was running out of time. As I made my way out to the beach with 10 minutes to the start, conditions had changed. The snow had started and a strong wind along with it. I was told this was the opposite wind direction than usual for this race which meant a tailwind for the last mile of the race. I was happy about that, especially after running in the headwind as I tried to stay warm at the start.

By the time we lined up at the start 10 minutes later, the snow was really coming down. It was COLD. Huge difference from an hour earlier. As I stood on the start line, a guy walked up and introduced himself saying he was on the FB beer page and had brought me some local beer in case I didn't get a chance to have any due to the storm. I was like, "Wow!" This person didn't even know me and brought me beer. I was floored. Pete Rumsey left me four Proclamation beers, one of which I enjoyed that night. I don't deserve such kindness, but I certainly appreciated it.

Mike Galoob got the race going shortly thereafter. I was ready to get going and warm back up. The race started heading south down the beach which meant the tailwind. It was a quick pace, and this young girl shot out way ahead of me. I had no idea who she was, and I couldn't catch her the entire stretch down the beach. I was trying, too. I was just hoping she had started out too fast and would slow, but I wasn't sure at this point since she was hauling ass. I felt really heavy, as I worried I might, but I still ran as fast as I could. As we approached the turnaround about .4 miles into the race, I was in a group with Seth Acton, Andy Neil and a guy in FiveFingers (Hell, no. My feet would have been frozen! I was a part of that FiveFinger craze back in 2009 and gave it up when winter hit and my feet froze! Never tried it again. Haha.) As we turned back the other direction, the wind and snow blasted into our faces. The snow was stinging my eyes, so I had to hunch over and keep my head down. I could barely see. The wind was fierce. Such a difference from one direction to the other. I immediately got passed by Andy and Fivefingers, but instead of dropping back, I followed. I had a chick to run down. And as I hoped, she slowed way down, and I quickly passed her. I had no idea if she would still chase me down, so I basically ran scared the entire rest of the race. As we got near the other end of the beach, I peeked up to see Scott Mason there with the camera, so I opened my eyes and looked up just long enough for the photo op. Hahaha.

My face was so frozen it felt like it was going to fall off, so I was happy when the course veered off the beach. We were still in a headwind and now soft sand mixed with slippery snow, but the trees were just enough to make it more bearable. I hung on just behind Andy and Fivefingers through this stretch. It was slow-going for sure with the footing, so I was thankful for the brief stretch on the pavement where I could speed up. It was back in the trees and then the turn back to the South which was such a relief. A tailwind! Since I ran this section on my warm up, I knew where I was and picked up the pace. The snow wasn't too slippery, just as on the warm up. I passed Andy and Fivefingers at this point and felt completely alone for the rest of the trail and into the house (whatever it is). There was a photographer in there who surprised me. He ended up being from the local newspaper, and I made the front page. Haha. Two covers in one week! Could I be more annoying?! :)

Move over Conway Daily Sun. I'm now invading Rhode Island newspapers! 
As I came out of the house, I saw Scott, and then I got confused as to which side of Scott the trail was on. I started to go right, then realized that was wrong and I was going to run over him, so I made a quick move to the left. Scott got the LVL cover photo as I was still going right. He got this one of me laughing at myself when I correctly went left.

I'm a goofball.
The finish line seemed close to here...but it wasn't. Not at all. Haha. The beach seemed to go on forever. Fivefingers passed me back. Grr. Then just before the finish line Andy passed me; I didn't mind him passing me since he wasn't wearing FiveFingers. Haha. I finished in 20:55 and 1st woman. When I crossed the finish, I was told my face was covered in ice. It was so numb, I couldn't even feel it. My time was obviously slow as hell. I'm not sure I can actually blame the conditions for all of that. I felt slow in general, like a fat bouncy ball rolling down the beach. My lack of speedwork was apparent, but I also felt like the water retention played a role as well. I felt 10 pounds lighter 3 days later, so I think it could have been a factor. It really didn't matter, though. I got the win and the cover(s). Haha. As for my competition, the girl from the start ended up finishing way back, but another woman finished only a minute back. So I have a little more competition this year. Not a bad thing. It will make me work harder for sure.

I only stayed warm for a few minutes, then had to get to my car for more clothes. I originally wanted John to get out and take a walk down the beach, but the weather was brutal by this point. The change in just 1.5 hours was crazy. I didn't even encourage John to get out. Most people were finishing and bailing. I tried to take Spot out for a cool down, but she was so slow and literally turned around to go back to the car. I switched her out for Phoenix, who was a little better, but it was still slow enough that by the time I got her back, I was just too cold. I had planned to get in 4 miles for a cool down, but I couldn't warm up and decided to bag it. I did a quick beer exchange with Steve Brightman, Rachel Flaksman and Scott. I had beer for a few other people, but one had already left and the other didn't race. By the time I drove out of there, my cooler was spilling over with beer. Full Results

This is what I brought home minus 2 beers that I drank that night!
By the time the awards started, there were only a few of us left. The building blocked a lot of the wind, but it was still blowing snow sideways and COLD. The awards were quick. I HAD to pick this one....

I took a few pics of those of us left. I even got to take another beer home since there were more raffle prizes than people left.

Jonny, Muddy, Steve, Seth and Mikey

Seth and Steve

I couldn't wait to get in the car and change out of my wet shoes. By the time we left, the roads were already horrible, but it's not like it was anything new to me. John and I met Scott Mason and Mike Daniels at Mews Tavern for lunch. I really like that place. Good beer and good food.

John at Mews
I knew we weren't leaving Rhode Island at this point. When we left Mews, the roads were unbelievably awful. I didn't have any trouble, and I probably could have driven home, but it would have taken 6+ hours, and the other drivers worried me! I really needed to do something for John, though, so I made the drive to West Warwick where the Launch Trampoline Park was. It wasn't crazy crowded, but there were a decent amount of people there. I took the dogs out at one point while he jumped, but Phoenix refused to get out of the car. The snow and wind were crazy.

Unfortunately, I stupidly only packed for one night, so I had to make another stop at Target to get some things, including more dog food! At this point, the roads were so bad that I was starting to get on edge and couldn't wait to get back to the La Quinta for the night.

Actually worse than it looks
It was a huge sigh of relief when we pulled into the hotel. I wasn't happy to be spending the extra money, but it was really our safest option. It was kind of a bummer, though. I'm in RI for another night, but we couldn't really enjoy it. Definitely a boring night. Even John got antsy and didn't sit still for hours. At one point, he was throwing a pillow in the air and punching it. Lunch filled us up so we didn't need dinner, just a snack, and I had two of the beers I had been given at the race. I ventured out reluctantly at one point with dogs to about a foot of fluffy, perfect snow. The dogs were loving it.

Phoenix buried in the snow. Haha

One of his few calm moments

Pillow punching

Beer from Scott. And Spot trying to tell me she wanted up on the bed.
Sunday, January 8, 2017-

The next morning was beautiful, and I was even more bummed that we couldn't stay and enjoy it. It was chilly, but the sun was warming things up quickly. The snow was so pretty when I took out the dogs. I had planned to jump on the hotel treadmill for 5 miles before we left, but in my search for the fitness center, I discovered there wasn't one. A sign on the bottom floor actually said "fitness center" with an arrow pointing into the wall. Haha. No fitness center existed. So much for the treadmill run. I packed us up, dug out the car and we hit the road. I realized that we were passing Providence when PVD Donuts would be open. Sweet!! Until I drove over there to see it closed. BOOO. Of course, they were closed for the week. I really do have a lot of shit luck occasionally sprinkled with teasing glimpses of good luck. I swear. Haha.

The drive wasn't bad at all. Moved right along making good time. John and I snowshoed up Heavenly Hill with dogs. He slid almost all the way back down having a blast.

John on Heavenly Hill
It was still so slow that I ended up getting cold and could not get warm again; just chilled to the bone. My plans to head back out for a run after the walk were nixed. I got on the treadmill instead. It even took me a mile to warm up on that! I actually ran a really good 10 mile progression run. So good that it was probably one of the best treadmill runs I've ever had. I felt great. I jumped up the speed by a lot early on and then bumped it up slowly every mile after that. 1-3% elevation, alternating every half mile. 1:09:51, just under a 7 min pace. I followed the run with 20 minutes of upper body and abs. I missed a few days of it this week, so it felt good to be back at it. I'm already noticing a big difference, especially from the pull-ups.

I had a good week mileage-wise. 60.2 miles. So I'm hitting my goal of 60 miles a week more consistently. I'm finding it to be a bit of a struggle to make 60 miles with my schedule. I have to make an effort to hit that, especially with two 24 hour shifts a week, but I've been successful so far. I won't be upset if I don't hit 60 every week, but I'm keeping it as a goal anyway. Up next...the first snowshoe race of the season at Whitaker Woods!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Recap

Crazy how 2016 finished for me with my racing, but I'll begin with how it all started on January 2, 2016 when I struggled around the BU track in the 3000m. I had only been back running for about a month since recovering from my injury (still most likely a gluteal tendon tear). I was wicked heavy and out of shape, and you can even see it my face. This race was really hard for me.

1/2/16 BU Mini Meet
I was at a low after this, just knowing how much speed I had lost and how much weight I had gained. It was depressing. I was fortunate to have a good friend who encouraged me through all of this. I had been so used to no support and doing it all alone, so this was a big help. I kept working hard all winter. I did, however, still struggle because I was doing double training. Trying to get speed back while getting back in marathon shape for Boston. With no snow, I ended up running a lot of short road races for speedwork instead of the usual snowshoe racing, and by March, I was back in decent shape and ran a 5K PR at An Ras Mor in 18:30. I'd dropped the extra pounds, as well. I was happy things were on the up and up.

An Ras Mor
But then I had disappointment after disappointment. New Bedford Half, Merrimack River Trail Race, Pack Monadnock, Mt Washington and then Loon. I don't remember in which blog post I wrote it, but I remember writing how 2016 just wasn't going to be my year. That I would have to hope for a better one in 2017. And then I had a major turnaround!

I had a great race at Cranmore, and a few days later, I had my first appointment with Tina Carr for her running-specific deep tissue massage. Once my injury had healed in December 2015 and I started running again, I immediately had chronic pain in the opposite glute and hip. So including the injury and post-injury, up to this point, I had been in pain for 10 months! No exaggeration. After enough recommendations, I went to see Tina. 90 minutes later, I walked out of there literally pain-free for the first time in 10 months. THIS is when my year changed, and 2016 became my year! I took a weekend off from racing then was back at it the following weekend with Run with the Beavers, my last trail race for awhile. It was hot, but I felt great and in shape. Then I got back on the roads after that and never looked back. I obviously had some mediocre races in there, but for the most part, I was extremely happy with my performances.

Run with the Beavers

Bobby Doyle. Hottest, most humid weather I've ever raced in.
The USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Racing Series started back up, and, now a master, I found myself performing fairly well in the masters category. Turning 40 changed so much for me. I've loved finally moving out of that ridiculous Open category. Those "kids" can have it. I'm much more at home in the 40+. And just because I'm 40+ doesn't mean I didn't continue to place well overall. I'm still up there! I love seeing my age surrounded by 20-somethings in the results. Haha. Masters women are hot shit and very competitive. You can't underestimate them; I've had my ass handed to me by them, so I know! Haha.

So everything just started going really well. The road racing got me back into good shape again. I felt fast and fit.

What a difference in my fitness compared to the at first photo from BU.
So the 2nd half of 2016 made my year. I trained hard, and I raced hard. As Dave Dunham passed me by at the Manchester City Marathon, he said, "You're one of the toughest runners I know." I felt awful in that moment at mile 21, but I thought about it later, and I guess I agree with him. I am pretty tough. Most people don't do what I do. I know people who race far more races than I do a year, but not quite at the same level. Being tough like that can have its downside, though, since I almost did myself in by the end of the year. But it paid off. I finished 53 races and was 1st female in 23 of them. New Hampshire Female Runner of the Year again by the Fosters Daily Democrat. New Hampshire Master Female Runner of the Year by New England Runner. 1st Female Iron Runner for the USATF-NE GP and 1st Female in the USATF-NE Mountain Running Series. Not too mention over $3000 in prize money for the year!

I still can't believe how things turned out after 6 months of feeling disappointed and assuming I was washed up already. Besides seeing Tina for regular massage, it was also a change in mindset that helped. After two years now of increased racing at a higher level, I've finally learned that you're not always going to have a good race. You're not even going to PR most of the time either. Some days are just bad days. Some weeks you're going to fuck up your training. You just have to let it go and move on to the next one. My NH 10-Miler and Lone Gull SUCKED. Just really bad days. A lot of it was my training. So I just tried to learn from it and not get too upset. No one is awesome all of the time. I learned a lot in 2016. Not saying I'm going to be smart and cut back on my racing, though. Hahaha. But I learned a lot about attitude and how to keep a better one most of the time. Just not holding onto disappointing races. Moving on.

It really was a whirlwind of a year. To start it pretty much at rock bottom and then finish where I did is pretty amazing. I worked really hard for it, and I will again in 2017. Does that mean I'll have the same results? Probably not. There are some 39 year olds turning 40 this year who are faster than me. Such is life. There is always somebody out there who is faster. I'll just keep doing my best. I do it because I love it. It's one of the only things in my life where I feel successful. (Up to this point, I feel like I've also been successful as a mother, but it's definitely getting harder as John is approaching 11.)

I guess I'll end this with my favorite races of the year. The ones I was really happy with.

Seven Sisters Trail Race- I felt so good! And I loved the course! It was also my first Master win!

Cranmore Hill Climb- On my 6th try, I finally came in 1st female! And the course was my kind of course with technical downhill that I'm good at. I had SO much fun at this race.

Seasons 20K- I had no desire to be there, but had one of my best races of the year, finishing 7th female and 1st female master. I felt really strong. Awful picture, but I'm including it anyway.

Finally, and of course! Haha. The Hartford Marathon- After 2 marathons in such warm conditions leading to slow finish times, I wasn't sure if I would ever see a sub-3 again, but it happened! 2:57:35! Not only that. I was first female master!

There were SO many great races in between. Quite a few I ran for the first time in 2016 that I plan to return to in 2017. I ran my first races ever in Rhode Island and Connecticut and plan to continue with that. There were some I'll never do again, i.e. Manchester City Marathon. Well put together event, just not my cup of tea as far as courses go. So many different experiences, and I've gotten to know SO many more people in New England. I don't know the last time I went to a race and didn't know anybody. Those days are long gone, and I love it.

As far as 2017... well, much of the same. The NE GP, the Mountain Series, the ATR series, but a few new things in there. I had planned to do more ultras, but as of now, I think only the Pineland 50 will fit in the schedule. I'm signed up for my first stage race, the Ragged 75, which should be brutal. I'm all registered for the World Snowshoe Championships in Saranac Lake, NY just for the experience. I'll also be part of something new that I'll have to announce later. :) And right along with me will be this kid...

Prairie Bomb! It was much harder to choose a favorite beer of  2016 because there were so many good ones, but Bomb! it is!

Monday, January 9, 2017

NYE'16 BU Mini Meet #2

VCM changed up the FB promotion, and this came up in my feed. I love it. I feel like total jerk now since I'm not doing VCM in 2017. But if I can get just one person to sign up for it with this picture, then all would be right in the world. So register for VCM, dammit!
What a difference a week makes. Just getting the holiday out of the way lifted my mood tremendously. After my trip to Georgia, I felt like a sloth, but this week I finally felt healthier and more like myself. I had some really good runs and hit just over 55 miles for the week, which is where I'm happy. I was also crazy excited for the race season to start up with the BU Mini Meet #2 on Saturday. I was almost giddy about getting up early to drive to Boston. Weird, I know. Haha. This was also the 3rd week that I have had ZERO knee pain, as in completely gone. I actually keep forgetting that it even happened until I remind myself of how lucky I am that it just disappeared... while not resting... and still running. Another great thing to happen this week, the latest issue of New England Runner was published and featured the Runners of the Year. Yours truly made the cut! New Hampshire's Female Master of the Year! How cool is that?! Two years ago, I NEVER would have considered this a possibility, so I am truly honored to now be selected as a NH runner of the year for two different publications. I was only a master for 8 months of 2016, and for half of the year, I SUCKED. This news, some solid runs and my first race of the new season made for a good last week of 2016.

Monday, December 26, 2016- No such thing as an observed holiday in EMS, so it was my regular 24 hour shift at work. I'd just had 4 days off, though, so I didn't need another day anyway. I've decided to make more of an effort to get some sort of run in on Mondays now, if I don't race on Sunday, so I got up early like I do on Wednesdays and did the typical 5 mile treadmill progression run. Very slow for me, but Mondays are really going to be about getting something in, even if it's just a "jog". I ran at 2% elevation most of the run. 5 miles in 37:08. 7:26/mi pace. Work wasn't crazy busy, but it is definitely picking up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016- Felt like getting in some road miles, but the roads were shit from the previous night's light snow, so I had to fall back on my usual go-to, the roads near Chocorua Lake. The dirt roads were a complete sheet of ice covered with a good amount of sand. That with microspikes made for a decent surface. I don't care for road running in microspikes, but if I want to get a road run in, sometimes it's my only option. My pace is typically slower, but my effort is still high. I just chalk it up to a good workout. 10 miles in 1:17:05. 7:40/mi pace.

Later in the afternoon, John and I took a walk on the Around the Lake Trail around White Lake in Tamworth. I had kind of forgotten about this trail and was about to pass it by before making a quick right turn onto the dirt road down to the lake from Depot Rd. John seemed to have fun on this walk, probably since it was flat. 2 miles total. With Spot and Phoenix.

John is behind the tree. See him?

From there, it was on to Sandwich to fill up my water jugs at the spring. Two cars of people had parked in the pull off right in front of the spring to chat but weren't using the spring. It was kind of annoying since I had to carry my jugs. They seemed to realize they were blocking the spring, though, and left. As two of the people were getting in their truck, the guy said, "The water is just as grungy as always so be careful." He obviously doesn't know anything about it. There is a slimy, gross cement trough that the water flows into, but you don't get your water from that. He must have thought I was nuts. Haha. There's a pipe coming right up from the ground where you fill up.

We had to drive all the way back up to North Conway to go to the grocery store and then decided to hit Taco Tuesday at Fiesta Jalisco for takeout. John loved it so much that he asked to make it a Tuesday regular thing. No ninja class that night which was really nice so we were home early. I did a 15 minute Upper Body and Abs workout before beer time!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016- Up at 4:30am again for the same old progression run on my treadmill. I keep thinking I should change this run up, but it's just so early that I can't really think too hard. Haha. It's the perfect run for my limited amount of time before my 24-hour shift. I don't see anything wrong with it, but I do wonder if I would benefit from tweaking it a bit. 5 miles in 35:48. 7:10/mi pace.

We were definitely on the busy side today with 911 calls but got to sleep overnight. The busy season has arrived. No more sitting around all day. Haha.

Thursday, December 29, 2016- My original plan for today was a deep tissue massage with Tina, but with the impending Nor'easter, I had to postpone it. Ugh! That made twice now my appointment has been thwarted. It also left me with little time to get in a solid long run. I had to get out as soon as my shift was over to beat the slippery roads so I planned to just run from work and do the North Conway/Conway loop that basically hits North-South Rd over to West Side Rd then back to work in Redstone via 113. It's a quick run due to its flatness so I figured it would be a good choice. Right at 6:56am, a 911 tone dropped! NOOOOO!! Our replacement crew is ALWAYS late, too, but luck was on my side, as they both pulled into the lot just then. Phew. They hopped in the truck and took the call. Yay! I got dressed and hurried out for my run.

I felt pretty good from the get-go and ran fairly consistently the whole way with a few miles slightly slower, but the 15.1 miles averaged out to 7:09/mi pace in 1:47:52. I was super pleased with this run. And I almost beat the storm, but the snow started in my last 4 miles. Fortunately, it wasn't slippery at all yet, so it didn't affect my run. I was so happy I got this in early so that it gave me time to get a few more things done before getting off of the road the rest of the day.

As soon as I changed clothes, I went to Starbucks for a coffee. The place was so packed with the drive-thru literally spilling out of the lot. As soon as I parked, I got on my app, ordered my coffee then walked inside. The line to order was back to the door, but I walked right up to the counter just as one of my former co-workers handed me my coffee. Haha. The drive-thru had literally not even moved as I walked past it to my car. Hahaha. Suckers!

I had to go out to King Pine to pick up our downhill skis that John and I had dropped off the week before for a tune-up. John called me the night before saying he was skiing with his cousins on Thursday and needed his skis. Ugh. I didn't think I'd be able to get out there, but I did. Dropped the skis off then went right back out to get my nails done. The snow had really started at this point, but I wanted to stay out for as long as I could since I knew I would be stuck at home all by myself the entire rest of the day and night. So I drove to the Moat. The roads were snow-covered by this point, but it was still the sticky snow. Annoying tourists were driving way too slow despite that so it seemed to take forever to get over there. I knew I would hit it just right when the place was empty; my prediction was accurate so I got a seat at the bar. Beer never tasted so good. Call it a Day IPA is a really good beer. Long Horn Nachos were my lunch (and dinner). I thought about joining their mug club so I asked the bartender about it. Turns out it's by referral and invite-only due to lack of mug space; they want to make sure the people in the club will actually be drinking there often. Considering I know no one in the mug club, I'll probably never get to join. Haha. Oh well. I had my growler filled with the Imperial Stout and then went home to wait out the storm.

Call it a Day IPA
When I got home, I took Spot and Phoenix out and brought in a bunch of wood from the wood pile for the woodstove just in case we lost power. As the snow began to fall heavier and heavier, I spent hours like this...

I was pretty beat and didn't think anything could peel me off the couch, but... a contest to win a Foolproof Brewing t-shirt actually got me up and outside. I really like their shirts! Haha. The contest is to show how you keep warm with Foolproof. I had this elaborate photo idea in my head. It didn't come out quite as planned since it was snowing so hard that the photos were slightly blurry. Also, holding a cold beer in my hand while it was snowing literally caused frost nip in a few fingers by the time I was done. I had to set up my phone with self timer, but the only thing I could find that worked as a stand was a giant plastic Minecraft Creeper of John's. Hahaha. So anyway, it was still a fun and whacky thing to do in the middle of a snowstorm. I wouldn't call my photos a total fail, but where's Scott Mason when you need him?! Haha. None of these are the photo I eventually sent, but I like them anyway. In one, you can see I was really close to getting singed unbeknownst to me. I highly doubt these are win worthy, but it was still fun.

Smoke in my eyes just as it took

Lies! My fingers were about to freeze to death

My last smile before I nearly burned to death.

The snow made this one too blurry. The camera doesn't really pick up the falling snow.

My fire was pretty cool at least.
I eventually ended up getting in my upper body and abs workout that night. I tried Zuzka Light's other upper body and abs workout the Inferno #1. It was an ok workout, but I'm not sure it's what I'm looking for since it focuses on exercises to improve handstands. I honestly have no desire to do handstands so I may just go back to the Black Diamond upper body and abs workouts.

By the time I went to bed, we had about 10 inches of fresh snow. Sounds so wonderful. And it is...unless you're me and you have to snowblow that shit in the morning. Haha.

Friday, December 30, 2016- The snow really was very beautiful the next morning. The perfect fresh powder. I took Spot and Phoenix out; they loved it. I packed down the trail with my giant snowshoes which I have to wear every time I take the dogs out in the winter. Kind of a pain, but it's the only way to walk back in the woods without sinking in the snow. I don't really mind it since it's fun.

Snow pack from the whole season so far.

I can touch my roof from my deck snow pile already. This didn't happen until February in 2014. EEK!
I'll admit it. I procrastinated. Drank my coffee s-l-o-w-l-y and then meandered out to the garage where the snowblower awaited. I had to shovel a path from the garage to where the extension cord from the house would reach. Why the extension cord, you ask? Well, way back a long, long time ago in February, I used my snowblower for the last time. I reached down to pull-start it. Next thing I knew, I was holding the handle with about 3 inches of pull-cord on the end of longer attached to the rest of the pull-cord that had receded back into the depths of the snowblower. I hung the handle on the snowblower and just figured I'd use the electric start option if needed and fix the handle in the Spring. Fast-forward to November 2016. As I was prepping my garage for winter, I noticed the handle was still hanging where I had left it. I TOTALLY forgot it was broken. Ugh. I know how to repair it, but I can't mess with metal in the cold; my fingers are just way too sensitive now and get cold really easily. So long story short, I'm going to be using the electric start (which is awesome, btw) this winter. But I keep forgetting to buy a second extension cord; hence, why I had to shovel a path from the garage to the middle of my driveway where the end of the extension cord was. I couldn't drag my snowblower through the snow; that snow was SO dense! For fun, I decided to record it on Strava. I won't say that was fun at all since the snow was so thick and heavy that I had to move very slowly on the first pass over the driveway. I then had to go over it again for a second pass. 1 hour 55 minutes later, I was done. Strava picked up 1.3 miles. I had predicted 2 hours and was almost right on the money. That was a bitch for sure. The end result...

Looking out towards the neighborhood road

Looking the other direction toward my garage

The end of the driveway which is the hardest to clear. That's Heavenly Hill in the background.
You can bet I was ripshit when it started snowing again 4 hours later! Haha.

I still had just enough time to get in a snowshoe run as planned so I drove to Silver Lake Hardware in Madison and jumped on the snowmobile trails for an out-and-back run for 8 miles total. To say the conditions were good would be an understatement. They were so close to perfect for snowshoe running that I don't know if I've ever run on anything better. Such a fun run even though it was still hard, and my legs were trashed when I was done. 1:16:06 for the 8 miles. 9:29/mi average. Not bad at all! Snowmobile traffic was steady, but it didn't bother me. I may not like their noise or stink, but I absolutely appreciate their trails and will gladly step aside when they come by.

Later in the day, John and I ventured into town to run some quick errands. I steered clear of tourists as best I could. I went to Paris Farmer's Union to get some more wood pellets instead of the big box stores where I usually go. John wanted a Pupu platter from Peking which I think is ridiculously expensive so I made him pay for it. Haha. A trip through the car wash and then home to my cave away from the obnoxious crowds. This is why I like to leave town on the weekends. Haha.

I did another Upper Body and Abs Inferno workout. This one was pretty challenging. 15 minutes, and I could barely complete it. Still on the fence about the Inferno workouts, though. The rest of the night meant good beer and packing for the BU Mini Meet the next morning. I couldn't believe I was so excited to wake up at 5am to drive to Boston, but this race junkie was getting her fix!

Baltic Porter
Saturday, December 31, 2016- BU Mini Meet #2-

Ok I'll admit that I was no longer giddy about getting up early when my alarm went off at 5am. Haha. Snooze it was until 5:15am. Woke up no problem. Weird how only 5-15 minutes more of sleep makes a huge difference in how I wake up.

Driving to Boston
The drive down was quick with no traffic at all. Parked in the garage at the BU track. Hard to believe it had been a year already since I was last here. Last year, I was running my first indoor track race in my life. I was SO nervous. I had no idea how the whole thing worked. I felt silly and out of place. I had also only been back running for a month after my injury, so I was in horrible shape. I had no idea how to run a 3000m. Fast forward a year, I knew the deal. I wasn't nervous at all. A dad who had brought his daughter to run the 200 was in the bleachers next to us and asked how it all worked. I was able to give him the run-down. I felt comfortable in my skin here. I may SUCK at indoor track, but I wasn't there to "win". I just enjoy the experience now and needed the speed work...badly! This would also give me an idea on where I was with my fitness since I really had no idea. My long runs are spot on, but my shorter stuff has been slow. No racing or speed work will do that to me. Just not my strength.

I got John all set in the bleachers in the same place we sat last year. I tried to talk him into the 200 or 400 all day, but he wouldn't do it. Realized later I should have bribed him with money. Hahaha. I'm not a parent who ever did the bribe thing, but when it comes to getting him to exercise, I think I'm going to work the bribes. Haha. But I didn't think to do that until it was too late, but he never complained and was content up there all day.

I took Chill for a mile warm up then came back in to get ready for the 3000. I went down to the track and found a lot of people I knew waiting for our heat assignments. I had seeded myself in the middle of my best and worst 3000 times at 10:50. I ended up in a pretty fast heat still! Ah! That was good, though, since it meant they would pull me along. The 3000 heats were really packed so it didn't take long to get to mine. I lucked out and got to line up in a second row right on the inside. I was only a little nervous at this point because I started to remember the pain of the 3000. Haha.

Off we went! I immediately fell in line behind Tammie Robie which was perfect. She hadn't run track in a long time, but I felt she would still be good to use for pacing. I really wish I had recorded my splits because I feel like I ran this really smart. I stayed comfortable for the first half and just kept the people in front of me in sight. I eventually passed Tammie, but only because the girl behind her that she had just passed blocked me out from falling in behind Tammie. I was in the second lane and we were just about to hit the turn. So I just went around Tammie, too. I felt like I started to push a little harder for the second half and by the last three, I put out all I had to finish in 10:43:05, less than a second slower than my fastest last year at New England's. I was super happy with this!! I actually felt good out there, and now I want to do another 3000, but the next meet, I'm doing the 5000, so there's no way I'm doing the 3000, too.

3000m. Photo by Scott Mason
It was a LONG wait until the mile, but I hung around and talked to people, Ran a lot of loops to keep warm since I could start to feel my legs stiffening up. I made sure I was down on the floor to watch the fastest mile heats which were fun to watch. I was in heat 14, so it took awhile. I ran more loops around on the outer track. I didn't want my legs to be junk for the mile.

Finally, it was our heat. And it was basically Amanda Wright, an older guy, me and a bunch of little kids. It was pretty funny. I had seeded myself with a 5:40 since I ran a 5:44 on the indoor track last year and a 5:26 at the Millen Mile. I wanted to be conservative. It ended up being good in the long run since I had Amanda to pull me the whole way. I was lined up next to a kid half my size, and I didn't even pass her/him (not sure which) until the 5th lap! Haha. The race went by quickly. Amanda went out pretty hard, and I just tried to hang on to her the entire race. She got some good distance on me for most of the race, but I hung on. In the last lap, I guess I had some kick in me and went from a good distance back from Amanda to almost catching her. I finished in 5:33:88 just on Amanda's heels who finished in 5:33:61. I was also really happy with this race. To run that time after already doing the 3000 was a good sign that my speed is in a decent place. I still wish I could get more speed work in on a track. I could do it on the road, but I like the specific track workouts. Oh well. All-in-all, though, I was extremely happy with my races today.

Paul Hammond got a video of the last few laps of the mile. If you have Facebook, you can watch it since it's a public post. BU Mini Meet Mile Video

In the zone during the mile. Photo by Scott Mason
After the mile, I took Phoenix and Spot out for a half mile run each, changed clothes and then Scott Mason, John and I walked to the Sunset Grill for beer and food, just like last year.

John ordered steak tips. He only ate about a 3rd of that. I ate his cornbread. :)

Photo Scott took of me

I had planned for us to stay in Boston for some of the kids' New Year's Eve stuff, but we were done so early that it meant waiting around for hours. John wasn't interested anyway, so we just went home and watched the NYE stuff on TV. I was in bed before midnight. Haha.

Pic John took of me

The BU track

Got a good shot of the bridge on the way home
Sunday, January 1, 2017-

Hard to believe it's 2017 already! Didn't Y2K just happen?! Our 1st day of the year was pretty laid back. I played with the dogs in the snow in the yard first thing. They were loving the fresh powder.

Chill just chillin' in the snow in our yard

Sunrise behind my garage
I got in my usual weekend run from home. Super icy during the first and last miles, but I managed some speedy miles in the middle. I ended up breaking one of my own Strava CRs from 2 years ago through Cranmore Shores. As I was running up the hill, I was thinking that this has to be the fastest I've ever run up it. I could feel it. And sure enough, it was, by 9 seconds. 5.2 miles in 38:48. 7:24/mi avg pace. Not speedy overall, but where I could run fast, I did.

John, the dogs and I drove over to Bald Pate Mt in Bridgton, Maine later to snowshoe. I can't believe I'd never been there, but I was glad we ventured over. John wasn't too thrilled at first, but when we got onto some soft fun snow, he had a blast. I gave him a pair of my Dion Snowshoes to use which were perfect. I wore them, too. I was so excited to see John enjoying being out there. We walked out to Foster Pond Lookout. Only 1.3 miles round trip, but we were out there for awhile. I definitely plan to come back here. Beautiful spot.

Snowshoe running!

After our walk, we drove over to a cool restaurant in a gas station called the Standard Gastropub for their New Year's brunch. The place was great. The coolers in the back are all filled with beer!

Gas station is still open for gas.

Hash, eggs and brisket
I got in my upper body and abs workout when we got home. Good start to 2017 so far!