South Moat

South Moat

Saturday, July 4, 2015

6/29/15-7/4/15

Since VCM, most of my weeks have been focused on racing and then recovery. I've cut the miles way back, added in a lot of mountain/trail running and have been taking 2-3 zero days a week. I'm at a point where I'm ready for a weekend off. So after Cranmore Mountain Race next weekend, I will be breaking my streak (last race-free weekend was in March). Even though, I'm signed up for the Level 10K, I've decided not to do it. I need a break, not just physically, but mentally. And John does, too. Of course, I'm only taking one weekend off before I hit the York Days 5K the following weekend, but for the next month and a half, my races will be a lot shorter and less demanding on my legs. So I can shift my training back to longer runs, both road and trail. I have the VT50 at the end of September, so it will be a good time to get the distance runs back in and not have too worry too much about racing. I still have 5 races in August, but the longest race is a 9-mile trail race, which, unfortunately, is on the same day at the next NE Grand Prix race (I'll miss the next two GP races). The others are 5Ks and a 10K. Easy stuff.

Monday- Woke up SO SORE, even my back. I could barely bend over. And my legs could barely move. Uh oh. How was I supposed to lift a stretcher all day? No power stretcher on Mondays. I rarely ever take medications of any kind, but Ibuprofen was in order. And since I rarely take them, I only took two, and it took care of the back soreness, but hardly touched the legs. Work was pretty quiet, but on one call, we got to Memorial and had to lower the stretcher down. Wouldn't you know it? The stretcher failed to catch on the notch we wanted, and it kept lowering down. My legs couldn't handle going down any further. My partner was looking at me and saw the  panicked look on my face. I was so relieved when it caught on the next notch. Of all days for it to do that (even though it's been missing that notch more often lately), it had to be Monday. I ended up using my back for that one. Completely the wrong way to lower it, but my legs could only bend so far. Ha ha. I was lucky it clicked and caught when it did. My partner got a big kick out of that one and laughed at me later, said he could see the fear in my eyes. LOL.

Ended up being a zero day for me. Walked up Heavenly Hill after work, and even that was difficult. Ha ha.

Pretty sky

Brought up a 'Gansett Shandy
Tuesday- John's dad decided to take John to Marshfield, Ma (where he's from) for Tues-Fri to visit family and go to the ocean, so I ended up with a rare Tuesday free. I have to admit that I was kind of bummed not to have John with me since it was the first Tuesday in maybe 5 weeks when it wasn't pouring rain. In fact, it was a GORGEOUS day, so I was sad we couldn't go hiking or to the lake together, but I knew he was having fun with his cousins at the beach, so I just decided to enjoy myself a little.

The legs were still SUPER sore. Not much difference from Monday, but there was no way I wasn't getting out on some trail somewhere for a run. I needed something that had very little steep ups or downs (these hurt the worst), and I also wanted to do a trail I'd never done before. So I decided on the Flat Mountain Pond Trail. The trail does go uphill for the first 4.5 miles, but it was so gradual that it's hardly noticeable. It still took about the first 3 miles for my legs to warm up and not feel as heavy. The trail was a lot rockier than I thought it would be, so it was slow going. And there were many, many stream crossings. I started out trying to avoid getting my shoes wet, but that just became ridiculous, so I started running through them all. It's not like I wasn't used to wet feet after the last few weeks, especially Whiteface. I made my way up towards the pond which was beautiful, and then the trail goes up and around it for about a mile.
Flat Mountain Pond

Took a spur trail to a Beaver Pond to see a view of Flat Mountain

View from the shelter area
Very slow going with a lot of roots and wet rocks. I also wore my Salomon shoes again. Still not impressed. Same deal. Huge lugs on the soles, but absolutely zero traction on anything slightly damp. Bad choice for this run, but I didn't fall, and speed wasn't a goal, so I just took my time. Once around the other end of the pond, I ran over to the shelter area to see the view and decided a little skinny dipping was in order. :) I love to skinny dip during a run, and I'm fortunate to be out there a lot with no people around. I thought I would spice up my dull blog a little with this 1950s era risque shot I took. I was actually laughing as I did this. Ha ha. ;)
Stop the press! It's my naked back! LOL. 
I hate cold water, but the pond was really warm and felt great, especially on the legs. I got dressed and moved on. The trail was almost all downhill to Bennett Street with stream crossing after stream crossing. Once down at Bennett St, I had about a 2-mile run back to the car on the road. Such a pretty area. When I got back to the trailhead, I took an "ice bath" under the bridge in the stream. This water was colder than the pond, but it felt really good. 12.4 miles with almost 1400 ft of elevation gain. Perfect run for the day.

I went home for a few hours to relax, then it was off to Portsmouth for the Tuesday night Six03 Pub Run. Mike Quintal wanted to go to so we decided to meet up at this one. I never know anybody at these things so it was nice to have a friend to meet up with. The group meets up at Fat Belly's for a group pic, then we break off into groups, a 3-mile or a 5-mile.
Group pic at the Six03 Pub Run
We opted for the 5-mile run (of course) and expected an easy run with some other people. Boy, were we shocked when the group took off like bats out of hell. Wow. FAST pace. We were not expecting that at all, but we had to keep up to know the course. And damn, 6:40/mi pace for the first mile! My legs really weren't up for that. ha ha. Right at the first mile, though, all but one guy slowed way down and dropped back. Mike and I ended up following this guy, Chris, for the rest of the run. And Chris pushed the pace the whole time, and we never went over 7:00/mi the whole run. It wasn't hilly, but on a few inclines, I had to drop back. My quads were on fire, way too sore to push it. I think I was back a bit from Mike and Chris for the whole 3rd mile. I finally caught up, and we slowed a bit for the last 2 miles (even though it was still in the 6s). Finished up at Fat Belly's in 34:16, 6:46/mi pace for the run. Ha ha. So much for an easy pub run. I even snagged some Strava course records on that one. LOL. I changed clothes then met back up with the group upstairs at Fat Belly's. Mike and I had drinks and dinner together (we were the only ones eating). Everyone was really nice, but it was still weird not knowing anyone, so we hung out by ourselves. Since it was a bit of a drive back, we parted ways after dinner. I wish I could do more of the Portsmouth runs, but this might be it for me for a long time.

Wednesday- Boring day at work. Two 911s. Zero day to rest the legs some more. Up ALL night for a transfer (an actually critical one this time around, so I hauled ass to Maine Med). 1.5 hours of sleep. Pretty much sums up the 24.

Thursday- Right from the North Conway base to the Tamworth base for the usual 10 hour shift. Pretty slow down there, too, although we had a couple of calls early on. The lack of sleep hit me hard when we got back from the second 911. I attempted to nap, but I am just not a napper. I hate missing the day, so it's hard for me to sleep during it. I rested my eyes for hours, though. Once 5pm rolled around, I was out of there for a run. My Thursday night runs are usually tough, from the lack of sleep and heavy legs from all the sitting, but I always end up with a pretty fast run. I tend to hit the road on Thursdays because the speedier run really feels good after being so sedentary for almost 2 days.

I drove over to Chocorua Lake for a run on the road. This time I ventured down Old Paugus Mill Rd to the Bolles and Brook Trails. I only ran on the trails for a very short distance before turning around since I only wanted to run 10 miles. Just an out and back on a beautiful evening. 7:44/mi pace. Pretty decent pace. Slower than usual, but not by much. I think the trail portion is what made my average pace a little slower. I felt great, but really tired, when I was done.
View of Mt Chocorua from Fowlers Mill Rd
Friday- I slept in until 8am. I needed it after pretty much no sleep on Wednesday night. I had time to take it easy, so I had a cup of coffee on the deck before leaving for my run. I chose a loop run starting at the Thompson Rd trailhead in North Conway and took the Black Cap Connector Trail up to the top of Black Cap. This route is around 4 miles up, so it's a bit of a haul. My legs had just a bit of soreness and heaviness in them, but they felt ok. I definitely ran this loop a lot slower than the last time I did it in October, but that was to be expected with the legs not 100% recovered. It was another absolutely gorgeous day with a clear view from the top of Black Cap.
View of Mt Kearsarge North and Mt Washington from Black Cap Mt
I didn't stay at the top long since it was getting busy with hikers, so I headed down the Black Cap Trail until the Red Tail/Kettle Ridge Trail turnoff. I skipped turning on both of those trails and continued down the ridge until it came to the Cranmore service road. I ran up to the summit and then looped back to the service road, running it almost to the very bottom before turning on an unnamed mountain bike trail that I used to take John on when he was a toddler in 2007. This trail is actually a beast since it's a really steep climb that really hurts after all of the downhill. It connects back to the Black Cap Connector Trail for the run back to the trailhead. 10 miles with decent elevation gain of 2448 ft in just under 1:45:00. I felt good, but it had me a little worried about Loon, due to the legs still not recovered. But whatever. I knew I was taking a risk when I signed up for Whiteface that it might hurt me at Loon.

I picked John up from his dad (who was stuck at a trailhead with lost car keys) around 1:30pm. Grabbed the mail and had a nice surprise in there. My awards from the Vermont City Marathon. 4th woman overall and 2nd place in my age group. I had forgotten all about them. The key chain was promptly put on my keychain, and the pewter leaf was put with my stuffed mountain goat from Sleepy Hollow and my "Enchanted Bear" sign from 2014 Bretton Woods Race.

Awards from VCM

As soon as we came home, John went to play at a friend's house on the street, so I ended up stuck at home all day. I had really wanted to go to the lake, but I decided to put together my fire pit finally. My friend, Sol, had come by last Wednesday while I was at work to do my fire permit, so I decided it would be a good day to get that going. It's nothing fancy. Just a $40 fire pit from Home Depot with a bunch of logs for seats and a ghetto bench. :)
LOL

Phoenix made herself comfortable on the bench with me as I was setting it up.
I got the fire going after dark. It was so nice. John and his friend had moved back to our house, but they weren't interested in the fire, so I just enjoyed by myself. Gorgeous night. The stars came out. The fire was perfect. I have to post this pic I attempted because I look like deer in the headlights. ha ha.
I don't usually have the flash on. ha ha.
I think I was out there for almost 2 hours. It was so nice to finally have a fire in my yard. Anybody want to join me sometime? Let me know. I have lots of fancy log seating for you. And beers. And wine. And sparkling wine. And liquor, if you give me a heads up. I'm not much of a cook, so I'll order you a pizza from First Stop. :) Just don't dive into the pool. It has no water in it.

Saturday- I slept in again and had another lazy morning. Had my coffee, made John breakfast and then headed out for a very short run around the neighborhood. I just wanted to get something in and not take a zero, so I did 4 loops for 3.7 miles. Strava has my average pace at 8:41/mi even though every mile was under 8 min. Weird. Still on the slow side with about a 7:30/mi pace.

I showered quickly then we headed down the road to Conway Village for the 4th of July parade. We chatted with some people then made our way to Yazzi's Ice Cream. I had decided yesterday that I was having ice cream today. John and I both chose cotton candy ice cream. I love it. The parade was great. I especially love the end when all of the fire trucks and ambulances come through blasting sirens and horns all at the same time. It's so loud, but fun. John really enjoyed it.
John having ice cream during the parade

John sitting in my kayak after the parade. ha ha.
This afternoon, we went across the road to Coleman's and took an easy hike up B&M Ledge. I last did this hike with John back in mid-August of last year. He commented that it was so hard for him then but so easy for him now. He was right. What a difference. We brought all 3 dogs, but just as we were getting out of the car, someone starting shooting fireworks, and Spot, my old dog, jump right back in the car and refused to get out. She was terrified. I felt bad, but I had to leave her behind in the car. I'm glad it wasn't hot out or else I would have had to drive her home. The hike is only about 1.4 one-way, and it's an easy climb up to the ledge.
Sniper

Chill looking out

Caught him before he could cover his face

John's photography attempt. ha ha.
 We hiked back to the car and headed into an eerily quiet town to go to the grocery store. Perfect timing since it was empty. I guess everyone was off having dinner or cookouts, whatever those things are that I'm never invited to. John and I decided to skip the fireworks tonight and hit the ones in Jackson tomorrow night instead. Neither one of us felt like going out again tonight.

Tomorrow morning is Loon. I'm normally super nervous, but not this year. I don't know what it will be like for me, especially with the new section only the men ran last year. I hear it's more my style of running, so maybe it will help me do better. I'm not sure. Loon has never been an easy race for me. The uphills are tough. I'm good on the downhills and LOVE the original finish with that steep downhill just beforehand. ha ha. I had a good race last year. Nothing special, but I was really happy with it. This year could be hit or miss. Just depends on how the legs feel and whether or not I blow myself up on the new section. It's always a challenge, and I love it. I'm not expecting to place high, so it's nice to have that pressure off of me, for sure. I will care more at Cranmore since it's a hometown course with my style of running. Up, down, Up, down. I just want to be happy with my race tomorrow. I don't like walking away from a race like I did Market Square. Crossing my fingers.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Whiteface SkyMarathon

What a weekend. It was such a great experience over only 2.5 days, and I had been kind of regretting signing up for this one. I didn't realize how beat I was going to feel at this point from all of the racing since I registered awhile ago. After Mt Washington, I felt super nervous about hitting the Whiteface SkyMarathon so soon after, with Loon and Cranmore to follow. But I had paid the entry fee and for the campsite and had an old friend coming that I hadn't seen since 2010 (when I came up from North Carolina to do the Adirondack Marathon Relay with her). So the weekend was a definite. No turning back.

Friday morning, I got up and took an easy run from my house up Heavenly Hill and continued onto the trails at Tin Mountain. I took it pretty easy since Thursday night's run had been decent. I used to run this route all the time since I didn't have to drive anywhere, but it had gotten old. This was the first time I had done it in probably 10 months or so. 5.2 miles in 1:02:30. 982ft of elevation gain.

After I was done, I had some coffee and then proceeded to pack up the car before John came home around noon. We hadn't camped since our camping trip in Burlington, VT in May 2014, so I had no idea if we still had all of our stuff. The one thing I did remember to get ahead of time was a new stove, since I lost custody of the old one in the divorce. ha ha. :) Fortunately, everything was accounted for and pretty much right where I left it over a year ago. I thought I would be ready to leave noonish, but it took me longer to pack than I thought, and we didn't get on the road until around 1pm. Seemed like plenty of time with a few stops in town along the way and a quick stop planned in Burlington. The trip to Burlington seemed fast, and I made a stop at the the Healthy Living Market for a few things (the same breakfast I bought there for VCM); I LOVE this store. I wish our Local Grocer owners in North Conway would take a trip over to Healthy Living Market to see what a legitimate health food store should be like. I made it as quick as possible so we could get back on the road. Once back in the car, I started up my GPS again and noticed a little "!" in a circle by the route. I clicked on it and got a shock. "This route includes a ferry." Whoa, whoa, whoa. WHAT??? A ferry?! Huh. I had never noticed that. Oh my god. ha ha. I had just assumed we went over a bridge to NY. A ferry was so far off my radar that it never occurred to me that we would have to take one. I was shocked and started to worry we wouldn't make to the campground in time to check-in! And, since I left late, we hit Burlington rush hour traffic. I could not get over the fact we had to take a ferry. We finally made it there, got our ticket, and then I relaxed. It was so calming and pretty right there at the dock. John and I got out and looked out at the lake. I realized we would get to the campground in time, so I just started laughing. I could not stop. It was just so funny to me that I didn't know we had to take a ferry. I think I laughed for 2 hours. I even laugh thinking about it. We made it onto the 2nd ferry that was there and took some time to enjoy the ride.
Looking out at Lake Champlain 

Looking out at Lake Champlain 

Us on the ferry

My Kia on its first ferry ride. Ha ha.
Once off the ferry, it was a BEAUTIFUL drive to Wilmington, NY where Whiteface Ski Area (the race site) is. We went right to Wilmington Notch Campground to check-in, set up the tent then headed over to the Hungry Trout for dinner. We went to the pub downstairs and sat outside by the fire with a view of the Ausable River and Whiteface.
View and Lake Placid Brewery Ubu Ale

Photo by John

John wrapped in blankets by the fire
We had a great dinner and a really fun time. I was so excited to be there. John was even having a blast, and we kept each other laughing the whole time.

We went back to the campsite after dinner. I got a campfire going, and John made s'mores. He was all of a sudden tired and went to bed, but I hung out by the fire for awhile listening to the campers next door play guitar and sing. Funny to hear "Nothing Else Matters" for the second time in one week. I bought the single on tape when it first came out. That tells you how old the song is now. I was pretty amazed I still knew every word by heart. (Ok, I'll admit that I also bought "The Unforgiven" single, too. ha ha.)
John by the campfire
The next morning, we slept in until around 8am. It felt good to wake up and enjoy a peaceful morning. I made coffee for me and hot chocolate for John.
Wilmington Notch Campground. John loves to play on top of my car. 
We both had some breakfast then headed over to Whiteface Ski Resort to watch the Vertical K race, which was 3.5 miles with 3300 ft of elevation gain. I had opted out of doing this one and just wanted to spectate. As John and I were walking the slope, my friend, Kendra, and her daughter, Bella, showed up and walked up with us. We didn't make it far before the race started. I snapped some pictures of the people I knew and cheered them on as they headed out of view up the mountain. Speaking of the mountain. It was HUGE and looked very intimidating. I knew the next day's race was going to be a challenge, not to mention the weather forecast for heavy rain and extreme wind to go along with it. I tried not to think about it.

Whiteface. This picture doesn't even do it justice.
John and Bella hadn't seen each other since they were 4 years old but seemed to pick back up right where they left off. Best friends one second, enemies the next. It was so funny. They would be playing together having so much fun, and, then, next thing we knew they were punching each other or taunting each other and saying they would never be friends again. Kendra and I figured this is what having 2 kids is like. Best friends to enemies to best friends cycle, constantly. I am glad to only have one! ha ha.
John and Bella at the 2010 Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake, NY

John and Bella this weekend. Grown up!
Kendra and I were the second place women's duo relay team at the Adirondack Marathon in 2010. Funny enough, that jacket I'm wearing is the same jacket I brought to wear for the Whiteface Race.
We decided to take a walk up a trail right there at the ski resort that had waterfalls and cascades. We only walked about a mile round trip at the most, but there was a lot to see in that half mile.


My friend, Kendra. We met on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2002.



We would have walked longer, but the kids were getting bored, so we left to go to the campsite for Bella and Kendra to set up their tent. We made our way over to Lake Placid after that. I had never been there so it was cool to see. John and Bella swam in the lake and played on the playground for about 2 hours while Kendra and I caught up. From there, we ventured over to the Lake Placid Brewery, where I would once again break my no alcohol the day before a race rule. I'm starting to feel like a rebel... rebelling against myself. ;) ha ha. I only had one beer, though. Way lame compared to my 3 beers the night before Mount Washington.

After dinner, we went back to the campsite, and I finally decided to get into race prep mode. The weather forecast was nasty. 100% chance of rain. Heavy. Extreme wind up high. I had no idea that last Monday's run in a downpour or the other recent runs in the rain would be prepping me so well, but it was the extended period of time we would be out in it that made me nervous. I wasn't sure if I had the right clothes. I didn't want to wear too much because I knew I would be warm on the ascent, but the slower, steep downhills made me wonder what to bring along. I didn't even bring running pants on the trip so I had no choice but to stick with the skirt I brought. I decided to just go with a short sleeve shirt and my really lightweight Mountain Hardwear jacket over that. I'd put gloves and a hat in my running pack. Seemed minimal, but I put another bag with extra clothes at the lodge aid station, where we we would go through twice. I felt prepared, but unprepared. I just didn't know what to expect. Had I done too much lately? Would the legs hold up? Would I DNF? Would I get hypothermic? Would I get injured? 19 miles and over 9000ft of elevation gain was no joke, especially in bad weather. I had to get into the mindset that I was not out there to compete with anyone but myself. Ok, we all know I would never be able to keep that mindset going for the whole race, but it was how I intended to start the race. I had to play it smart. This was all going through my head as I got everything organized for the next day. I also had to get John organized since he was going to stay behind at the campsite with Kendra and Bella. In the meantime, I built another fire for them to make s'mores. It seemed like an hour before I was done packing and organizing, and I still felt uneasy. I grabbed a shower, then John and Bella decided to watch a movie on top of my car while Kendra and I hung out by the fire chatting. Finally, we all got tired and headed to our tents to get some sleep.

The rain started a few hours later and woke me up. I love the sound of the rain on the tent; it brings me back to my thru-hiking days. This time, it wasn't so peaceful because it meant the start of the dreary day to come with an already difficult mountain race. I started to feel nervous and had trouble sleeping the rest of the night. I'm not one of those people who has trouble sleeping, either, so it was frustrating. I kept wondering if I would be prepared enough and then if I would even finish. Had I beaten myself up so much that I might not be able to handle it and have to quit? By the time my alarm went off at 5am, I had maybe gotten a few hours of restless sleep. I was so tired, but I got right up, put on my poncho and headed out of the tent into the pouring rain. I got dressed and then stood in the rain making coffee. My feet were already wet, and I started to feel a chill. Not good. I decided to drive over to the mountain where I could sit in my dry, warm car to finish my coffee. It was so gloomy, and a cloud hung over the summit of  Whiteface.

After I finished my coffee, I gathered up my bags and then headed over to the lodge. I was having one of those not-so-social mornings, so I hung out by myself for awhile and then ventured out into the rain, not really for a warm up but to put myself out there in the pouring rain so it wouldn't be such a shock at the start. I ran about .4 miles then came back to the tunnel where I lined up in the front of the middle of the pack. I needed to force myself to go off conservatively. Plenty of time on this course to make gains; it did not need to be done in the first 200 yards. After a brief announcement, the race began. The crowd held me back a little more than I wanted since some people were already walking...WITH POLES. Can I just say how annoying hiking poles are at the start of a race? First off, the person carrying them is now taking up the space of two people, and I had to dodge them to keep from being hit by them. Super frustrating. And this may not be popular opinion, but I honestly don't understand why they are allowed. They really get in the way. I was almost jabbed in the neck twice by people carrying them, AND it's using an aid. I hiked all 3 of my thru-hikes with Leki poles. I know how they work, and I know they do offer an advantage. It's almost like having 4 legs instead of two. Maybe I'm just an asshole, but I really don't think they should be allowed. Sure, an argument could be made that I have the right to use them, too, but the thing is is that I don't want to. It wouldn't seem right to me to use a tool to help me go faster. I think I got my point across, so I'll shut up about it now.

The race started on a gentle incline and then right to the ski slope which is steep. Here is a picture of the first slope that I took the day before at the Vert K.
Where the climb begins after the start. Steeper than it looks.
There were a lot of racers ahead of me, but I kept true to myself and held back. I wasn't pushing at all for this first climb. I did a lot of walking and some running, as did most of the people around me. This climb was no joke. Over 3000ft of gain. About midway up, we came to a confusing spot where the course was flagged in two different directions. There was a sign with an arrow on it, but it was placed at an angle just enough to not be clear. I looked off to my right to see almost the entire field going that way. The two people in front of me continued straight, and even though my gut told me those two were probably right, I decided to just follow the majority. And sure enough, we were all wrong. We had ended up on the Vert K course from the day before which was also the course down from the summit for this race, so about halfway up, we started to encounter all of the front runners coming down. This trail was pretty tight in a lot of places, too, so I'm sure it was frustrating for everyone to have the 2-way traffic. Plus, the extra foot traffic was demolishing the trail. It was already rocks and mud; I couldn't wait to see what it was like on the second mountain loop. This direction ended up being shorter than the correct route, but it was a lot steeper. In the end, they figured out the difference in racers' times was negligible. When I got to the top, the woman in front of me who had gone the correct way was pretty close to the same distance in front of me as she was when we diverged, so I had a feeling the two courses were comparable. Have I mentioned that this climb was steep? :) Pretty similar to Upper Walking Boss at Loon but about 20x more technical. Plus, the rain was coming down hard, and the higher we got into the cloud, the stronger the wind was blowing. Cold and wet. I was soaked to the bone already, and my hands were starting to get really cold. I put my gloves on that I was carrying in my pack and never took them off for the duration of the race. I also never took my jacket off. Crazy to be wearing gloves and a jacket on June 28th. Just before the summit building, the slope flattened out just enough to be runnable. Due to the weather conditions, all volunteers were indoors so we all had to go inside to check-in and have our number marked off the list. It wasn't a big deal, and I would never have expected those volunteers to stand out in those conditions for that long, although there were maybe 4 guys who were out standing on the course in that brutal weather for hours. I thanked them as I passed, and they all just smiled.

At the summit, I realized I was going to need both hands free to go down that insane slope, so I put my water bottle in my pack and moved on. The way down was slow and just crazy muddy and rocky. People were sliding all over the place. One of my new goals became to just finish this race uninjured. I passed two women who had looked really strong on the climb up but were now really having difficulty on the way down. Towards the bottom of the hill, a woman flew by me. I thought I was a good downhill runner, but she put me to shame. After what seemed like forever, we came to a sharp right turn and began heading back up to a second summit. This climb was a little more runnable halfway up before turning steep, and I immediately passed the woman who had just passed me on the down. Rare for me to be stronger on the up than down than someone else. This climb seemed to be less painful and went by quickly because the top of the gondola appeared through the fog a lot sooner than I thought it would. I checked in quickly then moved on. Just as I was turning the corner, the woman keeping track of the racers yelled out that I was 8th woman. At the time, I honestly didn't care. It was still early on in the race, and some of those women looked really strong. My goal was just to finish.

The next stretch was slippery, wet grass mixed with more mud and rocks and went downhill all the way from the top of the gondola back to the lodge. It was a LONG way to go. I could feel the grit in my shoes from all of the mud. I slid onto my butt several times due to the wet grass, and the rocks and mud were just unreal. It was a true test of one's technical ability. As we got onto the lower slopes, that same woman came flying by me again. I was pretty amazed and could not keep up with her. Finally, we made it back to the "tunnel" at the lodge where the timers, photographers, drop bags and aid station were. I quickly grabbed some Tailwind and a cup of water. I took my water bottle out of my pack and laid it by my drop bag. I knew I wouldn't need it for the Flume trails section and didn't want the weight. Most people dropped their packs, too, but mine was so minimal in weight that I just decided to keep it on. I think I spent about 30 seconds in the "tunnel" then moved on. I passed the strong downhill woman on my way out and never saw her again on the course. I had caught up with a man with whom I would end up running the entire Flume trails section; he was a local and knew those trails by heart so he moved along them swiftly. Just up the hill past the lodge was a Scott shoe aid station where I passed another woman. I wouldn't see her again either.
Flume Trails
The Flume trails were awesome; this is were my strength lies. Somewhat technical trails. No steep climbs, just gentle ups and downs with  a lot of twists and turns. I decided this was not a part of the race to hold back on and saved nothing on this stretch. The guy I was running with and I immediately starting picking people off. I was surprised at how slowly some of them were moving. I'm not sure how many people we passed, but it had to be close to 10 (including one woman) by the time we ended up off the trails and back on a ski slope. The Flume trails were just super fun; I love that fast, runnable, yet still technical, stuff. I gave 100% on this section. Just before the course heads back downhill to the lodge, I passed another woman. I hadn't been keeping track carefully and thought that maybe I was in 4th or 5th at this point, but I really wasn't sure. I couldn't remember who else was ahead of me. Although my plan wasn't to be competitive, I started to realize that I might finish in the top 5. In race where I'm "competing" against Stevie Kremer and Kasie Enman, top 5 is awesome. And I wasn't expecting it either, so that was a plus. BUT this also meant I would have to start racing. That was the last thing I wanted to do for the last 6 miles going up Whiteface again, but the last woman I had passed was not far behind me. She came right out of the tunnel aid station only about 100 yards back. I knew she was hurting, though, because when I passed her, she said, "This is hard." I agreed with her for sure, but this statement gave me a clue that she probably didn't have a lot left in her to race. I didn't either, but at this point, I really wanted to try. It sucked walking initially because I am just not a good power hiker and my legs were so tired. She gained on me a little on the first climb, so her power hiking definitely was stronger than mine, As soon as I could run, though, I ran. And I ran every runnable section. Before I knew it, she was dropping off a little more, but always in sight. Where we went the wrong way on the first mountain loop, someone was there guiding us on the correct route. It was definitely longer, but not nearly as steep. I was able to run a lot of this section. It was a service road that wound its way up to the top. We entered the cloud pretty quickly and towards the top, the wind was really gusting, stronger than the first time up. And it was still raining. I could no longer see my competition behind me because of the cloud, but I could tell I had a decent lead by this point and that it would be pretty difficult for her to catch up with me. I caught up to two guys who were walking most of the climb up.

Once at the top, the wind was intense. And the rain was blowing in from the side. It was cold so I checked in at the summit building, drank some Tailwind again and then continued on back down the super steep slope. I thought it was trashed the first time around. This time, it was just so unreal that I kept falling into mud pits up to my thigh. At one point, I thought I was just stepping into mud, but found my leg wedged perfectly right in between two rocks. With a little more momentum, that could have easily been a femur fracture. Kind of scary. The condition of the trail was just so brutal that I was laughing at the this point. Expletives and laughter, what typically comes out of my mouth. Ha ha. Too be honest, I was actually having fun. I was a hurtin' puppy, but it was awesome. I made it to the bottom of the hill and turned to see the other woman not too far back. I was a little worried, but I knew this second climb would give me the lead I really needed to be comfortable. I ran most of the first half of it, passing two men, got to the top, checked in and then moved on. One long downhill to the finish!

This next section of trail was also trashed and I was falling all over the place, but I kept moving quickly. I did not want to get caught at this point. I was still unsure of my place, but whatever it was, I didn't want to lose it. I managed to nearly catch the two guys in front of me. My shoes were FULL of grit, but I didn't care at this point; I just wanted to finish. Finally, the lodge came into view. I knew I was almost there. And then I spotted a small person wearing a yellow poncho. It was John!!! I got so excited to see him and started waving. I had been thinking about him off and on all during the race and couldn't wait to see him. I'm actually getting a little choked up as I write this just thinking about it.
John waving to me just before the finish. 

Just before the finish. It was so dark out that it was hard for Kendra to get a good shot. You can see my mud-covered leg, though. Ha ha.
Just beyond John, Kendra and Bella was the finish line at the tunnel. I came through in 4th woman, 4:59:43. 22nd overall. My watch and phone had both died during the race, so I only recorded up to 16 miles, but according to other people's watches, it came out to just around 19 miles with over 9000 ft of elevation gain. I was ECSTATIC. I felt like I had run a great race. As soon as John caught up to me, I gave him a hug and kiss. It was so good to be back with him. I grabbed my things, and Kendra, John and Bella followed me to my car. Kendra brought over John's things and my soaking wet tent. Ha ha. She and Bella had woken up in the middle of a puddle under their tent. I guess our tent was a little wet inside where some water had pooled on the top and started leaking through. Kendra said John was still cozy, though. We had brought our 0 degree sleeping bags so we were warm even with the rain.

I changed clothes then we went upstairs where the food was. I ate, and we watched the awards. I was pretty psyched to see a local MWV runner, Tristan Williams, finish 3rd overall for the race, beating Joe Gray by almost 2 minutes. Very impressive. I talked to him a bit after to congratulate him. He's a superb runner, yet very modest. He was the hiker on my Tuckerman Inferno team who pulled our team into the lead up the mountain. Very nice guy. I'm always happy to see him do well.

John and I needed to hit the road after that. It was a long drive back. We said goodbye to Kendra and Bella. Unfortunately, John and Bella "weren't friends anymore" when it was time to leave, so they parted on a bad note. Ha ha ha. I think they had a fun weekend together overall. Kendra and I are going to make sure we don't let 5 years go by this time without meeting up again. I thanked her for taking care of John while I was running, and then we parted ways. Then John and I left Wilmington. I would love to go back there on a non-racing weekend to explore that area more. I loved it there. Maybe some day, I can take John skiing at Whiteface.

We made it back to the Valley without a hitch; I picked up Flatbread, and we came home to 3 dogs very happy to see us. What a great weekend.

Editing (a little late) to add a link to Ben Nephew's race report. I love reading other people's perspective on the same race I have run.
Ben Nephew's Whiteface Report

Friday, June 26, 2015

6/21/15-6/25/15

Sunday- As promised, it was mostly a John day. We both slept in. I went for a run around the neighborhood while John had his breakfast. I had woken up super sore after Mt Washington, but I hardly felt it on my run. The loops are boring, but it's an option I'm lucky to have. I ran 8 loops which made 7.5 miles at a 7:33/mi pace. I've run it much faster, but on fresh legs, so I was happy with it. Always decent hills, too, so it was a good run to loosen up the legs.

I showered, then John, the three dogs and I drove over to Freedom to walk up Mary's Mountain and around Trout Pond. It was raining a bit, so I knew we wouldn't see any people. That's one thing I love about hiking in the rain; you usually have places all to yourselves. I also appreciated the lack of bugs; that place is normally swarming with deer flies and mosquitos, but there were no deer flies and only a few mosquitos by the pond outlet. Somehow my memory failed me on the distance, and I told John we were only walking about a mile. Oops. It ended up being 3.4, but he still had fun.
John and Chill on Mary's Mtn


John and Chill

Ossipee Lake from Mary's Mtn

John trying to avoid the camera

Trout Pond
After our walk, we rushed home to drop the dogs off so we could get to the movies in time. John LOVES going to the movies, and I'll admit that I do, too. I always have. I took him to see Jurassic World, and the theater was completely full. I have never seen that little North Conway theater so full since I've been going there (1998, but then again, there were 3 movie theaters in the Valley in 1998). John absolutely loved the movie. I thought it was silly, but he's a 9 year old boy. That stuff is awesome to him. And it's so cute to watch how excited he gets. I have to quiet him the entire movie because he wants to talk to the whole time. LOL. I hate quieting him, though, so I just try to make sure he whispers and doesn't talk when the movie is on a quiet scene. So John had a good day, which is the usual most of the time anyway. :)

Monday- I worked a 10 hour shift in Tamworth. We had one call with a cool injury (can't write what it was; HIPPA violation) and a fire alarm. We got called to a car accident, too, but were cancelled en route. Not a super busy day, but busy enough for it to fly by.

After work, I finally ventured back to Green Mountain in Effingham, where John and I hiked on my birthday. There are 3 trails that go up Green Mountain, and I wanted to hit all of them, so I parked at the Dearborn Trail, ran up to the top, then ran down the Libby Trail, back up, then down the High Watch Trail, back up, then back down the Dearborn. It was a much more brutal run than I thought it would be. The Dearborn and High Watch Trails were super steep, while the Libby Trail was an old jeep road that the caretaker used to drive up; it was a nice break in the middle of the other two. I loved checking out all 3 trails, though. Each one was completely different. The Dearborn was your typical single track type trail. Libby was the graded jeep trail, and the High Watch was a wide path covered in pine needles and a lot of rock slabs. Very interesting run. Plus, it was a lot of elevation gain over 8.4 miles at just over 3600 ft. I definitely felt Mt Washington in legs, for sure.

Evening on Green Mtn

Almost 8pm, and this is how light it is. Love it.
Tuesday- Slept in a bit until 7:30am. Had a cup of coffee, then slowly motivated myself to get dressed for another run. It was raining, but not too hard. I figured it would be at least be cool, but I have to admit that I was sick of it raining on Tuesdays, since this was the 4th in a row. But whatever. For some reason, I started craving the road runs again, so I decided to do a Potter Road Loop over near Conway Lake in Center/South Conway. As soon as I stepped out of my car and started running, the rain got heavier and heavier. AND.IT.DID.NOT.STOP.THE.ENTIRE.RUN. No lie. And it wasn't just heavy. It was a torrential downpour. Just unbelievable. The rain was so heavy, it was getting in my eyes blinding me. I remember looking up, holding my arms and yelling, "This is insane!!" I was laughing as I said because I was just amazed. 11 miles, still at a good pace 7:34/mi. Around 900 ft of elevation gain. I got back to my car SOAKED to the bone. I took off my shirt and wrung it out; water came pouring out of it. Just unreal, but funny.

Needless to say, I was done being out in the rain for the day. John and I ran a few errands, then I took him to his ninja class. It was the end of the session class/pizza party, so I skipped Whitaker Woods in order to make sure he was there on time. It had started pouring rain just as they were finishing up the class before the pizza, so John went out to cool off and run around. Soon enough, all of the kids were out there in the pouring rain playing in the puddles. It was awesome.
John cooling off in the pouring rain after ninja class
I kept seeing posts on FB about a tornado watch. OMG! Ha ha. I'm from the South. Those are common occurrences there. No big deal, but people up here were freaking out. It was kind of funny.

Wednesday- Up at 4:30am for a 5 mile treadmill run. Felt great. 35:56. 7:11/mi pace. Off to work and then off to Boston for our all day cluster of a transfer to Mass General. I thought Memorial Hospital was bad (I joke about someone dragging me over the State Line before they call 911, so I can be taken to Bridgton Hospital instead. LOL), but Mass General dropped the ball somehow. We ended up there for an HOUR just trying to get our patient somewhere. It was insane. The place was like a freaking airport; we couldn't even get into the elevators with the stretcher because they were all packed with people. Just a crazy experience there. We had planned to drive around the city hitting landmarks to take pictures of the ambulance in front of, but we ended up have to bolt right back to North Conway. We did stop to grab lunch at Kelly's in Saugus, though, so I got at least one ambulance photo. ha ha.
I was so hungry I ate my entire roast beef sandwich in less than 5 minutes.
The evening was quiet, and then we only had one 911 call in the middle of the night. Simple enough, so I got a decent night's sleep.

Thursday- Up, showered at the base, drove to Tamworth for another 10 hour shift. We were actually pretty busy with calls, so the day went by quickly. After 34 hours, I am super antsy to get out for my run at 5pm, but as luck would have it, at 4:18pm, a tone dropped. The other crew was already on a call, so we were up. It was a pretty quick call, but we still ended up getting out after 6pm. The run I had planned was aborted, and I opted for a shorter one in Madison, close to work. I ran out East Shore Drive to Lead Mine Rd to East Madison Rd and then back. Faster than I felt like it would be. 9.1 miles. 7:12/mi pace. 729ft of elevation gain. Good run.

I ended up home after 8pm, so my plans to set up my fire pit were out the window. It was nice to have some quiet time tonight after being surrounded by people the last two days. And it was nice not to have the dogs. They've been going nuts lately when I let them out. This orange cat (looks like my first cat "Butterscotch") started hanging around the house, so they keep catching his/her scent and driving me crazy. I needed a break from that tonight.

Tomorrow, I'll do a short run, then I have to pack up the car for our trip to Wilmington, NY for the Whiteface SkyMarathon. We're going to camp at a campground right near the race site. I'm hoping to watch the Vertical K race on Saturday morning then do some nice hikes in the area. It will be a good weekend with John. My race is on Sunday morning. It's set at 19 miles over 9000ft of elevation gain. It's going to hurt, but I love this kind of stuff. And with this kind of race, I go out just to finish the damn thing. I don't care what my place or time is. I'll be too busy in my own head to worry about what other people are doing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mt Washington Road Race 2015

Last week was an odd week with the time off from running and the extra 24-hour shift thrown in there, but it all went well. I got up early Wednesday and hit 6 miles on the treadmill, just as planned. Decent pace at 7:13/mi. My legs were SO sore for the first 3 miles, so it was a struggle getting warmed up. I knew that the plan for the next 2 days to take zeros was the right one. And it definitely was.

That afternoon, I walked our road at work, and my calves were in agony. The day was mostly quiet at work. One 911 in the morning and then a middle of the night transfer to MMC. 4 hours of sleep. Thursday isn't a transfer day, so Michelle and I were the only crew on for the 24. The morning was quiet, so I walked a total of 3 miles up and down our street. No soreness in the legs. Awesome. After that, I did our supply inventory. Lack of sleep caught up with me, so for the next 3 hours I was on the couch napping on and off. I never nap, so it was a sign I was tired. We had a 911 up on Hurricane Mountain Rd that afternoon and had to wait around for 2 hours until the fire chief cleared us. It wasn't a bad spot to be stuck in for two hours.
Michelle and me on Hurricane Mountain Rd
That night was actually quiet until a 911 call came in at 5am, but it was short and sweet. I got my report done, and then the 48 hour shift was done. It wasn't bad at all; I wouldn't mind doing a 48 as my regular schedule if I could.

I would be lying if I said I didn't consider running on Friday morning. My legs felt ok, but I knew another day off wouldn't hurt them. I decided on a flat walk in the Albany Town Forest. It's such a nice walk along the Swift River. No bugs. Few people. 3.7 miles total. 

I ran some errands before John came home, and then we spent an hour at Conway Lake before it was time to head to the Moat for dinner with some other runners. I broke all of my prerace rules that night. First, just going out to eat. Then having a beer... which led to another beer. I thought it would stop there, but no. Ended up at a bar for a THIRD beer. No big deal. I only had the Mt Washington Road Race the next morning! But to be honest, I didn't really care, and I don't regret it. Would I make a habit of it? No, but sometimes, you just have to say, "Fuck it." I still made my fresh vegetable juice when I got home and drank the usual cup of Dandelion tea before bed. I had a feeling I was going to be fine when I woke up. 

The next morning, I woke up half an before my alarm ready to go... until I stood up. Sore hip flexors!!! No!!! Not good. That's the last thing I wanted to be sore for Mt Washington. But, oh well, I was just going to have to deal. 

I left pretty early to take John to his grandparents', stopped at Bagels Plus for one of their awesome power bagel bars then got up to the Auto Rd by 7am. I learned my lesson to get there early after getting stuck in the parking traffic ONCE. On the drive up, I couldn't help but get excited about the weather. We lucked out with the most perfect day weather-wise. Clear skies, little wind. It was just ideal, and I hoped that would mean a sub 1:30 for me.

I was feeling pretty nervous, as I always do, since I have never run well here. I've always done something wrong. This would be my 4th time doing the race. I had an ok race in 2013, but 2014 was awful. A lot of it was probably my state of mind at the time, combined with poor training. I actually ran the entire Auto Rd without walking once and finished over 3 minutes slower than 2013. So, this year, I decided that I would power walk when I felt like I needed to and not worry about the "stigma" of it. Uphill-only races are not my strength. It's just a fact. I had a lot of people throwing out times they thought I could run it this year, but I knew better and set my low goal at finally breaking 1:30. My high goal was 1:25, but I honestly didn't think I would hit it. I just cannot figure out how to run this mountain right. This year ended up being no exception either.

Since I was there so early, I was able to take my time so I socialized a bit then decided to do a warm up on the trails at Great Glen. Surprisingly, I was all alone back there. I didn't see one other person, so it was kind of nice. I made an easy 2-mile loop. I felt ok, but even on the easy uphills I was feeling the hip flexors. Not good at all, but other than that, I actually felt great. Once back in the parking area, I spent a lot of the time talking to people I knew. Just last year, I hardly knew more than a few people, but since I've expanded my circle over the last year, I felt like I knew almost everyone who walked by. I even had more people introducing themselves to me. It helped to calm my nerves.

Before I knew it, we only had 10 minutes to the start. I made sure I lined up in a better place than the previous 3 years, when I had started too far back and got caught behind walkers immediately. I lined up with Melissa Donais and Barbara McManus, my CMS teammates. The National Anthem was sung and then it was time. The gun went off. I've been notorious for going out too fast, so I sat back in a comfortable pace and ended up next to Apryl Sabadosa for about the first half mile. She would be gone after that, on to finish 3 minutes ahead of me. At the first mile, I was shocked to see my split at 9:22/mi. What?! Still too fast. Mile 2 is steeper, so I was forced to slow down and started to settle into a comfortable spot, until.... I heard him. Clear-his-throat guy!!!!! NO!!!! Every year! Seriously every year!! I end up near this guy for a mile or two. He makes this extremely loud noise with his throat, and it's the most distracting noise to deal with while running up the mountain. And I wasn't alone. The guy next to me also said he always ends up near the guy and has to speed up to get away from him. I have done the same thing the past 3 years. And there are other people who know whom I'm talking about. It's probably the same group of us around the same pace every year who end up near him. I quickly got around him this time early on, thankfully. I was not running near him for miles again! This was it! He always goes out too fast anyway, so it's easy to get away from him at some point. I was relieved to be done with him by mile 2. He's probably a super nice guy, but I just can't deal with that noise.

Mile 2 was a much better split at 11:15/mi, but I had a feeling I wasn't going to maintain anything close to 11. I kept plugging along. As usual, on mile 3, I always start to feel sick to my stomach. I don't know what it is, but it has happened every year. I also feel too hot around this time, too. The weather was cool, but I still had that same feeling in my gut and couldn't wait to get up above treeline where the air would be cooler. I was passed by two women from Cambridge Running during this mile, but they would be the only women to pass me the entire race, from bottom to top. I thought that was interesting since I'm usually passed by multiple women around mile 6. I hit mile 3 at a 12:06 pace. Not bad, but I knew I was losing it and that my high goal was out the window. My main hope now was to go under 1:30. I came through the half at 41:something. MUCH faster than last year, so I started to feel a bit hopeful until I remembered my second half is always much slower than the first. I was happy to see mile 4 since that meant I was about to have some air! Mile 4 was a similar pace to mile 3 with 12:01/mi. Surprisingly, the sore hip flexors weren't bothering me at this point, so I was happy about that.

We crossed 4000 ft and, shortly thereafter, came across Michael Quintal and Jim Johnson cheering everybody on. Jim got video of the entire race. I just watched it today, and it's sad because I was just shuffling. I look so weak. Ugh. Right after I passed them, I started walking parts of the road. My heart rate kept getting way up there, so I found it easier to power walk, and I was doing it at a really good pace. I only walked for 20 yards or so every time I did it, and I felt like that short distance really helped me recover to run again. But when I hit mile 5 at 13:01/mi pace, I thought this was going to be bad and that I might not even make my low goal. But, that ended up not being the case. After mile 5, I kind of got into a groove (of pain) and brought my pace back down hitting 12:39/mi for mile 6. I kept watching to woman in front of me and felt like she had slowed a bit. I knew I wouldn't catch her before the finish, but I still kept focusing in on her to help pull me along. My hip flexors had started to hurt around this point, but if my memory serves me correctly, they always hurt me here, so I don't think the prerace soreness really affected my race. There's a steep turn just past mile 6 that I took a quick look back on to see a woman (Tara, who was 2nd place at my Dirty Girl Trail Race) really close behind. I was surprised and then a little scared since I thought I might just have to "race" someone at the end. And sure enough, she was right there near mile 7 (12:25/mi pace).
After mile 7. You can see that I was almost caught. Photo by Scott Mason.
She actually caught up to me for a second with maybe .2 to go. There was NO WAY I was getting passed at this point. Just no way. And even though it killed me to speed up, I did. We hit The Wall, and I gave everything I had left. Suddenly, someone was over my right shoulder, and all I could see was long hair, so I looked over, relieved to find a man about to pass me. I didn't care. I just wasn't letting any woman pass me at this point.
In so much pain having to actually "race" up The Wall. Photo by Joe Viger.
Fortunately, I had given enough to pull through the finish 2 seconds ahead of Tara. Good enough for 16th woman and to hit my sub-1:30 goal with 1:29:14. Not my dream time, but I would take it. 11:21/mi pace for the last .6 miles. As soon as I crossed the finish, I stumbled a bit and a volunteer grabbed me to hold me up, but then he wouldn't let go. I appreciated the help, but I kept saying, "I've got it," over and over, just wanting him to let go of me so I could move. It probably only last a few seconds, but I felt like I was being suffocated forever. He finally let me go, and I walked ahead to be met by Regina Lociano. She had finished WAY ahead of me with a PR. She is such a strong runner, and it's good to see her back at it after some time recuperating. I hung out with her for a little while to watch people finish the race. I enjoyed our vantage point from the rocks above The Wall since it was easy to spot people. I watched a lot of people finish, but then started to get cold, so I went in search of Paul Kirsch's truck, where my bag was. I ran into Paul Basanchuk, and we went on a hunt for the truck. It took awhile, but we finally found it. I changed clothes then went in search of Denise Sandahl and Regina, whom I was supposed to run down the mountain with. Val Stori was supposed to join us, but I never found her. Mike Narcisi was coming along, but he needed to check on someone, so I told Regina and Denise to go ahead while I waited on Mike. Mike and I ended up running down, just the two of us.

This was the first time I had ever run down the mountain after the race. I've always gotten a ride, but I never enjoyed hanging out at the top waiting. And when you run down, you get to see the amazing view you missed on the way up. I also got to see people I knew who were still out there racing, so that was cool. I was worried the run down would hurt, but surprisingly it didn't. I felt good. We did remark that our run DOWN the mountain was still way slower than Joe Gray's run UP; that is just sad. Ha ha.
Me on the way down. Photo by Michael Narcisi.
Usually, I'm not hungry for the Hart's Turkey dinner, but after running down this time, I was starving. I changed clothes then headed right over to the tent, very happy to not wait in a long line and got my food. I ate with Mike Narcisi, Mike Quintal and Jim and talked to random passersby, but I was too cold under the tent, so as soon as I was done eating, I headed over to the Six03 tent where I could have a beer and be in the sun. It was a fun group: Tom Hooper, Alex Mistrushi and Scott Alan, and other non-Six03ers, like Denise and Eric Narcisi (who had gotten into the Heady Topper early). Jim, Mike Q and Scott Mason joined us, too.
And the party was on with Eric and Tom leading the way.
I found this giant beer in the cooler and had to take it. It was just too awesome.
I think Denise purposely photobombed my can shot.
This was the first time I had been able to hang out longer than an hour post-race, but thinking John was having fun with his grandparents, whom he hardly does anything with, I didn't feel bad about hanging out for a long time. Scott Mason broke out his home brew, so I was double-fisting the Crowler and Chipotle Porter. It didn't take long before I was too full to finish either beer. Ha ha. I'm weak, but it felt like my stomach was going to pop. I just couldn't do it.

I watched the awards and ended up 2nd in my age group. Woot! That's not really a big deal to me, but it's always cool in the moment. Before I knew it, it was almost 3pm and everyone was packing up. There was a final group of us hanging on, and I was happy I stayed because I ended up getting an elite invite to the Hartford Marathon. I had no intensions of running it, but now, I'm thinking it over. It's so close after the Vermont 50, though, so I think I might end up turning it down, but we'll see. Still a nice, unexpected gesture, though. 4pm started to roll around, and all that was left was Eric Narcisi and me. He had to find Mike, and I needed to go get John. I headed to my car to find it the last one left in the field. Ha ha.
One of the last to leave the Auto Rd.
I headed back into town, and as I pulled into John's grandparents' driveway, my jaw dropped. His booster seat that I had left for him to use with them was still sitting right where I left it. I came in to find John in the exact same spot I left him in over 10 hours earlier, using his computer. I was horrified. Other than feeding him and occasionally talking to him, he was just left there ALL DAY. Nothing can bring on the mom guilt more than to know that while I was at Mt Washington having a grand ole time, my son was just sitting on a couch mostly being ignored all day. And it's weird, since it wasn't like them to do that. They always have things planned to do with him, and it really isn't often. They live in Massachusetts and see him when he's with his dad when they come up to their house here, but they don't actually spend time with him alone. The last time was while I ran New Bedford. They took him out all day with his cousins, and he had a blast. I couldn't figure it out until Grammy told me that her sister had just died a few days prior, and then I realized why they weren't motivated to take John out. She was pretty beat up about it, understandably, but I still couldn't understand how life wouldn't trump death when it comes to your grandson, whom you don't see very often. So it was mixed feelings for me. I understood it, but I also couldn't help feeling awful for John. It wasn't time well spent for him, and I felt SO bad about it. So guilty. So selfish. But I just had to move on from there and make it better, so we took a walk up Heavenly Hill with the dogs when we got home and spent the rest of the evening together, with plans to have a John day on Sunday.

Sharing one more photo by Gianina Lindsey in her usual spot.
Thought I would also add the three previous years' photos by Gianina from the same spot, except 2012, which is from a different spot. All taken by Gianina, though. Two things in common with every photo. I'm wearing the same necklace and earrings all 4 races.
2014. Wow. I can see why I ran so much slower. I don't look fit at all.


2013. I had a decent race this year. I even look more fit than 2012 and 2014.

2012. First time doing the race. I remember this moment when I saw The Wall for the first time. I had no idea it existed. Huge surprise. LOL. I got those shorts at a thrift store. Nike vintage.