South Moat

South Moat

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Falmouth Five & Dime Trail Race and A Lot of Stuff in Between

I am soooooSLACKING on my blog. Oops. Like I said before, I just don't want to sit down at these stupid desktop computers and write stuff. I really need to get another MacBook, even if it's a really old refurbished one. In the meantime, I'll just keep playing catch up. And now that I've gotten a month behind again. Not even sure what I did the day after Mt Washington, so I'll look through my photos and try to figure it out. Haha. I do know that after Mt Washington, I realized that I was beat. Like really beat. I had told Jeff Walker a few days after Ascutney that I would run his race, the Falmouth Five and Dime Trail Race in Maine, but the day after Mt Washington, I realized there was no way I could race the following weekend. I really needed a race break, so I messaged Jeff and told him I was backing out. Instead of letting me be a quitter, he told me to just come run it for fun. I thought about it for a little bit and decided that I would do that. I'm not one of those people who's afraid to have a slow time in their results. I already have plenty of those, so what's one more, right? Haha. With no pressure to race hard, I actually ended up pulling a fairly decent week of running in after Mt Washington.

Sunday, June 19, 2016- I decided to get an easy 5 miles in in the neighborhood. I managed to make it a progression run, albeit a slow one. Up and back 5 times to make 5.1 miles at a 7:53/mi pace. 406ft of elevation gain. Should have felt ok, but my leg injury from the fall at Mt Washington was really painful. The large muscles on the front of my leg were swollen and bruised, so the bouncing hurt. I had to wear a bandage over the two cuts on my feet since they fell right where my shoes hit. I still managed to push through it, but it did bother me. John and I went to the lake for him to swim for awhile that afternoon. And that was pretty much it. Very lazy day.

Monday, June 20, 2016- This was supposed to be my last Monday 10 hour shift and on call shift, but with a crew member out due to an injury, I got asked if I wanted to work the 24. I didn't really, but the overtime was too good to pass up, so I accepted it. I didn't get up early to get a run in, so it ended up being a zero day for me. (I have yet to get myself up on a Monday since, so this has been a recurring zero day. Haha.) I honestly don't remember anything about the day except getting to see the Strawberry Moon. The picture doesn't do it justice since it was definitely amazing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016- The day had finally come. I was ready to switch gears from all slow mountain/trail runs to bringing back the speed. The one training tool I had been shunning for so many years reared its ugly head and beckoned me to it. THE TRACK!!! The oval from hell designed by the devil himself. (Even though I don't believe in that stuff, it just sounds right! Haha.) I decided to finally break down and start making my way to the track once a week. If it wasn't for the All-Terrain Series, I probably wouldn't be doing it, but it dragged me into the world of track, both indoor and outdoor. It's grown on me a bit. That doesn't mean I like it, and I hope to never do another 10,000m race in my life, but it's not that scary foreign land anymore. I'm now start to see the benefit. So today was the day to start doing it consistently.

Amy Bernard and family were up at their house here for a little bit. Their house is only 3.5 miles from mine, so it's cool to have them close! I mentioned to Amy that I was doing a track workout on Tuesday, and before I knew it, she had invited herself along. Haha. She's one of the few people I enjoy hanging out with, so I was psyched to have her join me, especially since I didn't know what the hell I was doing. She asked me what I had planned. I didn't really know, so I just looked up what other people do and told her 6x800. That sounded official. Amy was all for it, so we met up at the Conway Rec Path to run that for a warm up to the track. It's 2 miles and almost completely flat. We ran easy over to the track and then realized it was hot as balls (as Amy would say). The Kennett track is a black top, so it makes a hot day feel even hotter. I didn't really know how to time splits, so Amy did it for us. I told you I was clueless about this stuff. Who times splits other than miles?! Track runners. Oh yeah. That's me now, so it was time to figure out the watch split thingy. Anyway, we got through that workout, actually running pretty consistently. 6 didn't sound so hard at first, but by the time 4 were done, I was dying. It was so freaking hot, and I just wasn't used to this. Plus my leg injury really started to hurt. We finally clicked off the last two. 6x800 with 400 of rest in between. Splits went 3:00, 3:01, 3:00, 3:03, 2:59, 2:57. I was happy with that. I didn't know if that was actually good or not, but it seemed ok. We finished off the track with some goofball selfies.

We finished off the run with 2 miles back to the cars on the Conway Rec Path. It's the perfect warm up and cool down since it's on the trail in the shade. This would become my track routine.

Amy ended up inviting John and me over to hang out by the lake with her and her kids, so after John got home, we did that. I was joking around and told Amy I'd wear my mom suit, and if it had been anybody but Amy, I would have put my foot in my mouth. Amy admitted she was wearing a mom suit, so I was like what the hell, I own one (I never wear it), so I decided to wear mine, too. I brought beers along, too, so there we were in our mom suits drinking beer while the kids swam. It was a good time.
If you like blueberry beer, this is definitely one of the best I've had.
Looking HAWT in the mom suits
John swam for hours there, and by the time he was done, he was really exhausted. By the time ninja class rolled around, he said he couldn't do it. He was just too tired. We ended up going to the Whitaker Woods Summer Series race. I had missed the first two and really wanted to go, so we did. I had no plans to race it. For me, these races have turned into fun runs. So I literally went out at a very slow place and still ended up first woman. haha. Two minutes slower than my fastest time on the 5K course, just to give you an idea of how much slower I really did run. It was nice. I caught up with Darin Brown a bit during it and really just enjoyed myself. I hung out after and talked to Kim Proulx for awhile before we left. I found John had fallen sound asleep there by the finish. The poor kid.
Pic from the start of Whitaker Woods by Donna Cormier
Roger Marcoux gave me a copy of the video he took of me on Foss Mt last year since I had never seen it all the way through. It was great. I videoed a snippet of it with my phone.


(I was just informed by Kevin Tilton as I'm writing this, that I missed a Kevin sighting photo! He said he rode by here (I'm at work) on his orange bike about an hour ago looking like a goofball. I'm so disappointed to have missed that opportunity, but now I know. Goofball on an orange bike. Got it.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016- My last 34 hour shift! Yay!! I couldn't believe it was almost over...just had to get through 34 hours first. Ugghhhh. I made sure I got up for my treadmill run early because not running and then working 34 hours really makes me antsy. I surprisingly felt really good and busted out my usual 5 mile progression run with elevation. 35:29. 7:06/mi pace. As far as elevation goes. I run 2.7 miles of it at 1% and 2.3 miles of it at 3%. Never 0%. Using an online calculation for elevation gain, every time I do this particular run, I'm getting about 507ft of elevation gain. I think it's a pretty effective training tool since it's the only time I ever really do a progression run, but I don't really do it often enough this time of year.

Work wasn't too busy so I was able to swing by the track to watch John's practice. I loved watching him put so much effort into running since I've never really seen him do that much before. He came in last, but he was really trying hard. He's in the white shirt.
Conway Rec Youth Track Program. 
Oh, and speaking of Kevin Tilton. I had been holding his Ascutney award hostage for over a week. Cheese and pepperoni! He's lucky I didn't eat it all myself, but Kevin promised me beer in exchange. That was enough to keep me being good. I had been really tempted to pull an "Eric Narcisi's Sunglasses" daily photo blog, but since they were perishable, I decided against it. But oh the fun I could have had with that pepperoni!! Hahaha. :) Kevin let me know he was going to stop by my work to pick up the goods while leaving me with ALL of his beer. He was pretty disappointed with his Mt Washington race and decided to give up beer. Ask him how long that lasted! hahaha. Let's just say that by July 1st, he was back to being a chronic poster on the secret beer FB page. I gladly took the beer, though.
Me awaiting the hand off.

Here comes the blue car! I'm hiding behind the cheese so he doesn't see me taking the photo.

Kevin's car sighting!!
My loot!
Thursday, June 23, 2016- Made my last trek over to Starbucks for my usual coffee run as I travel from my 24 hour shift in North Conway to my 10 hour shift in Tamworth. One technically ends at 7am while the other starts at 7am, but since we have enough crews, the 35 minutes in between isn't too bad. Plus, I always grab one of my coworkers her SBs order while I'm there. While I was waiting, I decided to drop ridiculous $ on one of those Sweet Greens drinks. Left SBs and drove about 2.5 miles when I heard that thud. That same thud the bottle of syrup made before it flew off my car roof after Ascutney. Noooo! My gross green juice! Right after the thud, I watched through my rearview mirror as it flew through the air and landed on the side of the road. I was soooo bummed but just kept going... until I remembered how much that stupid thing cost. Oh fuck no. Banged a quick uey and drove back for it. I was pretty sure I saw it bounce and not explode, and sure enough, other than a dent, it was just fine. Hahaha. When told the story to everybody at the Tamworth base, Jeff told me i needed to install a cup holder on the roof. Haha.

I worked my last 10-hour shift. I was going to miss the Thursday crew for sure, but definitely not that 34 hour shift. I was so ready to have some play time with a full day/night to myself. It was long overdue. I was so excited about it. I was also excited to be finishing up a 58 hour work week!!

I left the base and headed right up to Great Glen Trails for week #7. I was feeling good and decided to really go hard. I realized later that that was pretty dumb since my legs really weren't recovered enough for that, but I ended up running my fastest time of the Series in 23:37. Eli let me actually look at Margaret's time for the day, and wouldn't you know it...23:36. Oh wtf. hahaha. 1 second!!! I had to laugh. I really wasn't that upset about it. I ran as hard as I could, and my legs weren't fresh, so I couldn't expect greatness. It had been a fun blind competition and that's all I could ask for.

Since the Mt Washington Road Race was all done for 2016, I decided to run the short Aqueduct Loop that started up behind the lodge. This is part of the course for There's a Black Fly in my Eye Trail Race they put on every year. I ran slow and easy and even saw a cute little bear that I stopped to watch until it spotted me and ran off. The evening was beautiful so I really enjoyed this run the most. It was only 2.5 miles which made it a short 5.7 miles total for the day. I was so done and starving, though, so I didn't mind the short miles.

I was so excited to get home to see what Amy had brought me from their house before they headed out. Two chaise lounges!! I absolutely hated the couch I had. So uncomfortable. And it was too the point where I was about to just go buy a brand new couch that I couldn't really afford. When Amy messaged me on Wednesday asking if I wanted  two chaise lounges, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I couldn't wait to put them inside the next day.

Amy and Rick were nice enough to deliver them to me and put them in my garage while I was at work. Oh the awesome lamp, too!!
After 34 hours of work and GGTs, I was ready for a good beer. This one definitely hit the spot.
Friday, June 24, 2016- I'm not really sure why I chose the run I did on Friday. I guess it was because I hadn't done the full Center/South Conway Loop since before my injury, and I kind of missed it. It's a somewhat tough run with over 1000ft of elevation gain, and it was pretty warm out. I still felt good from the start though as I ran up Potter Rd and got into a decent groove. I was hitting decent splits for this in the 7:20s and 7:30s. About 4 miles in, I crested a hill to find a cow moose standing in the road eating some plants. I kept running toward her thinking she would run away any second...any second...any second. Ok. So she just stood there staring at me. I realized I needed to stop and try something else. So I clapped my hands and yelled for her to move on. That did the trick, and she immediately started to move across the road when all of a sudden out of the bushes popped a small calf that followed her across the road and into the woods. It was so cute. I continued on my run, still feeling pretty good and moving quickly until I hit the climb up Davis Hill Rd. On the way up, I started noticing signs that said the bridge was closed ahead and to follow the detour. I decided to keep going since I knew I could probably get across it just fine. The climb up Davis Hill was tougher than I remember, but an 8:12 pace really isn't horrible for it. When I finally got to the bridge, I realized that I could definitely get across it, but that it was going to mean bushwhacking through the woods to do it. It was a bad spot for this to happen, since from here the route crosses Brownfield Rd and becomes Gulf Rd which has a decently steep grade for most of it. The bushwhack killed my momentum by the time I got across and started up Gulf Rd. My pace wasn't too far off my fastest when I looked at it later, but it definitely felt far off. I was pretty beat by the time I reached the top and enjoyed the long downhill cruise for the next 1.5 miles before it flattened back out on Potter Rd again. This is where I would be joined by a swarm of deer flies that drove to the brink of insanity for the last nearly 2 miles. As soon as I got to my car, I quickly unlocked the door, got inside and cranked up the air conditioning. I was hot and thirsty and chugged my entire bottle of water. My distance came out to 13.7 miles with my new watch. It had always been 14 miles before, but that's just how it is with GPS devices. They'll never be totally accurate. I ran it in 1:45:25 with an average pace of 7:41/mi. Seems slow, but it's a tough and slower course. I was happy to see that I ran it only 14 seconds slower than the last time I ran it pre-injury on August 3, 2015. I ran my fastest time April 30, 2015 about 1.5 minutes faster. That doesn't surprise me because I was in PRIME shape at that point gearing up for VCM. So all in all, I was very happy with the run. It left me super drained the rest of the day, but it was a good kind of drained.

I went to Frontside Grind from there for a latte and pretzel, then went home. Bryan and John had found the chaise lounges in the garage and taken them in the house for me. That was really nice of them. I had moved the old couch out and cleaned the floor that morning before I left, so it was all ready for them. John and I were SO excited like two kids in a candy store. They were so perfect!! I couldn't thank Amy enough.
Lounging on my lounge

John on his. You can see the old couch was banished to the outside where it belongs.
Even Phoenix loves them. She's the only 1 of the 3 dogs allowed on them, too.
We didn't really want to leave our new chairs, but I promised John Finding Dory at the drive-in in Bridgton, ME. We hadn't been there in a couple of years, and I had forgotten how much fun the drive-in is. We even brought Phoenix with us and had a great night.

Saturday, June 25, 2016- Saturday should have been an awesome day, and it's not like it was bad, but man, I learned my lesson on dragging John along on a long mountain hike when he's in a bad mood. I told him earlier in the year that we had to do Mt Eisenhower at some point this summer. That it was awesome and he'd love it. Boy, was I wrong. Haha. I still gave him plenty of morning time to play his video games. I ran the dogs up and down Heavenly Hill twice. Of course, Spot only did one. I swear she gave the paw as she ignored me and ran home after the first run up and down. Haha. It was only 2.4 miles, but it was also 966ft of elevation gain and took 34 minutes. So it's still decent for a really short workout. I didn't want to do too much so we could get up to the trailhead in Crawford Notch by noon.

It was a beautiful day, but just a little too hot, and that's really what started John off on the wrong foot. It was nearly pure misery for the entire time. Not only that, I forgot about the black flies, so all breaks had to be kept short. That made John even worse. I should have known better and just turned around then, but I really, really thought that once we got above treeline, he would see how awesome it was and snap out of the mood. That did kind of happen, but only to a small degree. He was actually pretty pleasant on the climb up to the summit and then while we hung out on the summit. The walk down wasn't as bad, but he was still glum and too hot. And believe me, I know he was too hot because I think he mentioned it at least 30 times. The hike is 6.7 miles, but what I consider the easiest hikes in the Presidentials, so I didn't think it would be that bad. Oh but it was. He was asking me how much farther literally every .1. Hahaha. Despite his mood lightening a little bit once we were near the top, he still told that it wasn't awesome and described the Presidentials as just a "bunch of bumps". hahaha. Omg. Is he really my kid?! I can laugh about it now, but I was kind of sad to hear him say that. Knowing that he has no appreciation for the mountains here kind of stings a bit. But he's not me and he's allowed to feel the complete opposite as me. He will have his own likes and dislikes. Some of them we'll share. Others we won't. Hiking, running and mountains aren't his thing. I've mostly accepted it, but every now and then, he does have a really great time on a hike, so maybe some day he'll like it. I was really happy to come in second place with this one since he said this was the second worst day of his life. Phew. The worst, he said, was when his dad made him hike up Mt Chocorua. hahaha. So he earned the worst day and not me. :)

So enthused

On top of Mt Eisenhower with a "bunch of bumps" behind him. Haha

Yep. That's my kid. Haha.

So much joy.

He did actually run down this part. He's actually an amazing downhill technical runner.
Although it ended up not being horrible at the end, it was still a trying day. He was in a better mood. I got him some food and went right home, so it all ended up ok. I was really happy the next day's race was a no pressure, fun run for me. I was tired from the hike and a bit drained mentally while trying to deal with John. I didn't stay up too late since we still had to leave early, but I definitely had a good beer to top off the night.

Falmouth Five and Dime Trail Race- The drive over to Falmouth wasn't bad, and we arrived really early before Jeff and his wife even had the registration table set up. He still checked me in, then I took my time getting ready for a warm up. The crowd was small, but there were familiar faces there whom I usually see at the Bradbury trail races, which I'm going to miss all of this year. I went out for an easy warm up on the course, and just as I got started, my watch beeped that the battery was low. It was so low that it shut off within a minute. I happened to have my phone with me so I started it up to record my warm up. I did 1.1 miles, made some Strava art and then went back to the car. I was really bummed about my watch and had no idea how the battery got drained. I still wanted to record the race, so my only option was to carry my phone, and since I didn't bring an arm band for it, I had to literally carry it in my hand. This couldn't have happened at a better race since I wasn't planning to go race pace. So I just said fuck it. I'll carry it in my hand and take race selfies. Haha.

I got John and his stuff up to the starting area where he was going to hang out under a pavilion. He really made himself at home. Brought some Bionicles to play with and his phone. He was in a very pleasant mood....thank god. Haha.

John with his set-up
It was time for the race start so we lined up. I tried to line up in the back, but I was spotted right away and knew I couldn't get away with it without a comment. Haha. But true to my word to myself. I started off easy and never pushed myself for the entire trail race. The trail itself made that easy since it was mostly flat, windy mountain bike trails that were really fun. The beginning and end went through fields that were reminiscent of Pineland Farms; I started having flashbacks! haha. The trails were really nice. Not too technical. Just made running easy. I started out first woman right away and stayed that way. I ran alone for awhile and shot a few race selfies. I even messaged John and another friend as I was racing. John sent me back his own selfie.

Trail through the field

Race selfie!
John sent me a selfie back.
About halfway through, I caught up with Ian Parlin. I thought it would be funny to pass him and snag a photo. Haha. Most came out blurry, and I was bummed to find out that Ian was shooting a bird at my phone, and I didn't get a single shot of it!! What the hell! Haha.

Me and Ian mid-race
I got ahead of them and pretty much ran the rest of the way solo. It was fun since I was running an easy pace and not stressing over winning, since I knew I was already going to win. I finished the 10.1 miles in 1:27:18, a pretty slow time. I hope I don't run anything close to that pace this Saturday at Run with the Beavers Trail Race or I'll be disappointed. Today, it was ok, though, and I still won the RRCA Maine State Championship for the 10 mile. That was cool. I got a $50 gift certificate to Forside Tavern that I've been wanting to go to. It was great. John was in a really happy mood and ended up playing with another kid there for awhile. I caught up with some people I hadn't talked to in awhile like Sue Thompson and her husband and John Rodrigue. Really laid back and good race. Thank you to Jeff Walker for talking me into doing it. Well worth the trip over.

I had promised John a trip to Old Orchard Beach after the race, so we drove right down. The place was really crowded, but we had no trouble finding parking in the municipal lot. I found a spot to sit down and then John headed for the waves. He was only a speck out in the water for pretty much the next 2 hours, since he played in the waves the entire time. He had so much fun. I just lied there and watched him the whole time. He's a great swimmer, but I still didn't want to take my eyes off of him for more than a few seconds just in case.

When he was done, he came over and said he was ready to leave. I was game because I was STARVING by this point. I had hardly eaten a thing since before the race, so we drove down the road to have lunch at Jimmy the Greek's. We sat outside. I ordered a small flight of beers and a calzone, and John got a pizza. The Bionicles joined us. :) It was such an opposite day from Saturday since I had such a happy kid with me. Take him to the ocean or any place to swim, and he so happy. Take him hiking up a bunch of bumps and forget it. Haha. 

John at Jimmy the Greek's

I love beer.
The drive home was tough because it always puts me to sleep. I don't know how I had the energy, but I walked the dogs up Heavenly Hill when we got home. Well, 2 dogs. Spot gave me the paw again and went back to the house on her own. I sat out at the view for awhile.

Me with Phoenix
I think I was finally all done after that and could barely keep my eyes open. My real Monday 24 hour shift started the next day, followed by a 24 on Wednesday, and then it was my first play day on Thursday. I already had a plan and couldn't wait. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mt Washington Road Race

I'm really falling behind on my blog posts. Ugh. It's not because I'm being lazy. A lot of it has to do with my computer access. My laptop died about a year ago, so I only have this old iMac desktop, and it just gets so uncomfortable to sit at for long periods of time. I typically use the computers at work because the chairs are more comfortable, but other people have been using the computer in Tamworth all day, and the office in North Conway has no air whatsoever, and I couldn't even spend 2 minutes in there on Wednesday. So anyway, I'm sucking it up and sitting my computer at home because I'm getting so far behind. It's hard to even remember what I've done! I might just have to do another catch up post, but I hope not. Maybe I can attempt not to be so long-winded...hahahaha. Yeah, I'm laughing, too. So here's my Mt Washington report, as much as I can remember anyway. Black-out mode is in full swing, and I'm already forgetting the pain. Haha.

Mt Washington is one of those races for which I have to find help with John, and for the second year in a row, his paternal grandparents were happy to help. The only problem....I couldn't get ahold of them the day before to be sure it was all set. John said they told him they would see him Saturday, but that was all I had to go on. I tried calling and texting, but nothing. So when we left the house and drove over to Center Conway, I wasn't 100% sure they would be there. I was already trying to come up with a backup plan if I had to bring John with me to Mt Washington. Who's car could he stowaway in up to the top. Much to my relief, they were awake and expecting him. Phew. That little bit of stress was gone. Now, the major stress of the Road Race could take over. Yay. Sooooonotexcited. Fifth year in a row, and I still haven't figured this race out. And I guess, in reality, I hadn't properly trained for it. Legs were still not 100%, and let's face it, this has not been a good year. Don't get me wrong. It hasn't been a bad one either. I've accepted it, but it's starting to really sink in that 2015 was probably it for me. And maybe my "it" just equals injury. I'd never been injured in my life other than a few sprained ankles before I started running faster, longer and more miles per week. I don't know if that's why I was injured, but maybe my body just isn't built for that. I don't know. I'll never know. All I can do now is just continue to keep my expectations low and just give what I have in this moment. And that meant going into Mt Washington with a slower goal. I figured anywhere between 1:30-1:33. I would be happy with that. The worst part of it all is the expectations that OTHERS have of me. I never really had to deal with this until last year. I was a nobody. No one expected much from me, but then I had a year of pretty good race times/finishes and got put under a spotlight. Being constantly asked if I'm going to win something or asked what I expect to finish in or asking how I did is actually starting to wear on me a bit. I've had an answer for my expectations every time, and they have been fairly spot on, but people think I'm just being modest. I'm not. I'm being realistic. I know people mean well and ask because they care, so I just answer the best I can. I am being long-winded. Haha. Back to Mt Washington....

I actually got up to the Auto Road the same time as last year. Last year, there was no line. I drove right in and parked. This time I waited in line for 30 minutes. Wow! It wasn't a big deal since I got there early enough, and I got a great parking space right next to bathroom... the woods. haha. You won't catch me in one of those porta potty lines there. So much woods!! The only issue is finding a place to go out of view of all the other people using the woods. Haha.

I put on my shoes and decided to go for a warm up right away. It was a little early, but I needed to get moving. The nerves were setting in. I made my way over to the Great Glen Trails trails and stopped to chat with Len Hall and Gene Fahey for awhile. Just as I was leaving them to continue on, my CMS teammates, Jenn Brooks and Regina Loiacano, just happened to be right there heading the same direction for a warm up. Perfect. I joined them. We ran a 2.3 mile loop on the GGT trails at an easy pace then parted ways to get ready for the race. I was getting really nervous. This race is always hard for me. It just isn't my strength. And it hurts, like really hurts. But for some reason, I feel compelled to keep doing it. It's like I have to. It's a local race. How could I not do it? In 2011, I remember being at Great Glen Trails with a hiking group I was guiding for the week on the same day as the Road Race, and it killed me not to be across the way racing up the mountain. I vowed to be there in 2012, and I was. I can only imagine I'd feel the same way as I did in 2011, if I didn't do Mt Washington. So...maybe in 2017, I'll figure it out! (I say this every year.)

I felt like I was all set to start, but I was starting to notice that the predicted 50-something degrees at the start was not a reality. I was HOT and already sweating my ass off. It felt like 2016 Boston again. Standing at the starting line and then realizing that damn, it's pretty fucking hot out here. Dammit to hell. My 2016 curse. TOO FUCKING HOT. I thought that oh well, at least by 4000ft, we'll get that nice cool breeze. Happens every year, I'm used to that. I can do this. Ok, so I kind of was complaining about not being a nobody anymore above, but I have to take that back a bit. Lining up at the starting line at Mt Washington and knowing almost every single person within sight is a pretty awesome feeling. I knew so many people that I felt bad that I couldn't talk to everyone! It helped calm my nerves to talk to the people I could. I found Jenn, Layce and Regina and moved up to start with them. I knew I'd run nothing close to them, but I just wanted to be with them at the start. I was also lined up with John Gillis of Team Gloucester. We all chatted up until it was go time. I couldn't believe I was about to run this stupid race again and got really scared just before the starting cannon. It was too late. Go time. I wasn't far off the start line. I hit the timing mats and just past them, the next thing I knew, John Gillis suddenly stepped into my path and I went down! Jenn had stopped suddenly in front of him and in an effort to avoid knocking her down, he made a quick step to the right and right into my left leg. I don't know how I didn't go down on my knee, but fortunately it was just on my lower leg. It hurt, but my biggest concern was all of the people behind me. I panicked for a second thinking I could be trampled, and I don't know how I wasn't, but I got up fast. John stopped and reached out for me, but I was up so fast. I was kind of in shock. And John ran next to me for a little bit to make sure I was ok. He felt SO bad. It happens in a tight start like that, but you just don't expect it to happen to you. And especially at the beginning of this race. That adrenaline rush certainly didn't help. And my leg hurt pretty bad. I had also cut up my left hand. I have to admit that it was tough getting my head back in race mode, but I did my best, and pretty soon, the pain of running up the Auto Road overtook the pain of the fall. I started to focus a bit and get back in the game. Whatever my game would be for 2016. I watched people I beat last year passing me by in the first mile and knew that this wasn't going to be a good finish, but I would finish, and it would be alright. I was not going to be disappointed, dammit.

I plugged away, hitting the mile splits a lot slower than I expected, but I was dying. The sun was baking and there was zero wind. The one good thing is that I passed Throat Clearing Guy very quickly. Caught up to him and passed him. I think I had to hear his noise for less than a minute. Thank you! I couldn't deal with that today! I was struggling, and just past mile 2, Amy Rusiecki caught up to me. She gave me some encouraging words, and I remember looking at her and just shaking my head no. Hahaha. Said something like, "Not today." But it was Amy who would get me back in the game for the next 2.5 miles. Without her, I think I would have fallen back, but she gave me someone to keep up with, and I ran just steps behind her. I'm so glad she was there. Thank you, Amy!

As we approached 4000 ft, I started to feel optimistic about getting out of the stagnant air and heat, but to my dismay, there was absolutely NO WIND. How is this possible on Mt Washington. This just doesn't happen...unless you're me and the heat cloud keeps following you. Haha. The relief I anticipate every year wasn't happening. By the time we hit the dirt, I started power walking. It's much faster than my run at that grade. It really is. Some people can run the whole way and be fast. I tried that and ran a horrible time. I've figured out that there is a point for me where walking is faster and saves my energy. I do it in spurts, though. I'm still exerting a lot of effort, but it's enough of a break to bring my heart rate down to recoup before I run again. I actually found myself surrounded by the same run/walk people at this point. I would stay with them up until the 6 mile point. I did the best I could here and lost Amy in the process. She fell back, but I'm sure that was all in the plan since she had Western States 100 the following weekend. I hit mile 5 and kept plugging away. Finally came on Roger Marcoux and his coworker, Heather, who were out flying their Dragonfly. I don't remember what Roger said to me, but I do remember responding with a thumbs-down. Haha. Just past, Roger, though, was a hairpin turn, and to my relief... A COOL BREEZE. This was just before the mile 6 point. Wow. I felt so much better all of a sudden. I sucked down a gel and then proceeded to have a great 1.6 miles to the finish.
A frame grab by Roger Marcoux show me just passing the mile 6 marker.
With the breeze, I all of a sudden got a second wind. I even passed two women between here and the finish. It was so strange. I was tired, but I felt really good. Of course the grade eases up here a bit, which I'm sure helped. The easier grade plus AIR gave me the boost I needed to get to the finish, and the last 1.6 miles seemed to fly by. The only downside to feeling so good the last 1.6 miles was that I started to feel all of the other pains. I began feeling excruciating pain in the muscle on the front of my lower left leg and grew concerned I had a pulled a muscle. Then I remembered. That was where I fell at the start of the race. The pain of just running up the Auto Rd had covered up this pain, but now that I was feeling good, this pain came back with a vengeance. In addition to this, I noticed pain right where my leg meets my foot, also from my fall. It was almost throbbing. But, as a runner does, I just ran through it, and before I knew it, I was at the base of the WALL.
Photo by Courtney Murphy

Photo by Andy Drummond. I couldn't stop smiling.
Almost at the top of the wall! Photo by Joe Viger.
Just as I crested the wall, I saw the clock still under 1:32, 24th woman. Perfect. I pushed it in and finished in 1:31:52, exactly what I expected. As soon as I crossed the finish line a woman tried to put a blanket over me. This was the first time in 5 years that it was unwanted. I ripped it off, probably looking like a jerk, but I was just so HOT that I couldn't stand to have that around me for a second. I needed water like there was no tomorrow, and somehow, one quickly appeared in my hand. I stayed near the water table and started to see so many people I knew. It was a little overwhelming trying to talk to everyone since everyone started asking how I did. All I could answer then and for the rest of the day was, "I did ok. It was what I expected." Most people weren't satisfied with this answer throughout the day and wanted to know my time. I hated saying it. Every time I said it, I started to feel a little mad about it. 2.5 minutes slower than last year. UGH. I did not want to be disappointed, so I just kept telling myself that I ran exactly what I thought I would. If I know where I am, and I'm running that, then I have to be okay with it.

After socializing at the top, I followed Kevin Tilton down to the parking lot. He was helping me find Paul Kirsch's truck since I always stowaway a bag in there. I found Paul and a few other people down there. Paul had a huge cooler full of beer. You know you've finally reached full beer snob status, when you're not really satisfied with the choices (they were all decent craft beers!) and refuse a beer all together. haha. In reality, I was about to run the 7.6 miles back down the mountain, and I didn't really want to get hammered off a beer that I didn't really find exciting beforehand. (My body was so depleted, that, yes, one beer would have knocked me on my ass.) I changed clothes quickly in Paul's truck, left my bag and blanket behind, then started to head down, but I spotted Kevin and the WMDP people and stopped to talk to them for a bit. My foot was KILLING me. I guess John's shoe had actually cut my leg/foot in two places and the pressure from my HOKA's that I changed into was really hurting it. It actually hurt so bad that I wasn't even sure I could run down. I was supposed to run down with quite a few people, but I couldn't find any of them, and that almost gave me an excuse to hitch a ride. But I said fuck it and started down the mountain solo. The pain dissipated quickly so that I was able to move faster. The amazing thing about running down is finally seeing the view that's behind you for the whole race. It's just so amazing. I've seen it many times, but today, it was super clear and gorgeous and totally makes the run down worth it. Plus, it really loosens me up instead of stiffening up while sitting in a vehicle of potential death as it rides on burning brakes down the Auto Rd. Haha. I started passing quite a few people and would continue to do this until I caught up with John Gillis and Regina Loiacano about halfway. The neatest part was that I knew almost every single person I passed as I ran down. Once I was with John and Regina, I slowed down to stay with them the rest of the way. John still felt so bad about tripping me. I knew it was an accident, so I didn't let him know how much pain I was in at the moment. And, like I said, it had dissipated once I started running again. It was great to catch up with the wonderful Regina. She is one of the kindest people I've ever met, so it was time well spent. I can't wait to stay down in Gloucester for the weekend of Lone Gull so that we can hang out a bit more.

When we finally got to the bottom of the mountain, we parted ways. I made my way back to the car to change clothes and update a friend on the race. Then I dragged my beer cooler over to the Six03 tent and parked my ass there. I was early to the Hart's Turkey Farm food, but as always, I had trouble eating it. I can never eat all of that heavy food. I also broke out some beer. It was SO HOT out, probably upper 80s, so the cold beer hit the spot. I enjoyed hanging out with the Six03 people since I haven't done a lot of that this year.
Six03 group. My newest tradition is double-fisting beers. 2 years running.

I had been drinking, so yes, I was flexing, but it was only to see if the vein would pop out. Some woman walked by with jacked arms and veins, so I was trying to look like that. Of course, I didn't remember any of this until Tom Hooper reminded me. Haha. I'm with Sharon Morrison and Tom here. 
After awhile, I ventured out to find out the team results. I ended up in the wrong place... or so I thought. Bob and Michelle Fitzgerald were over at the computer results, so I started talking to Fitz about Hartford, when Michelle, whom I had met once briefly, got all excited when she realized who I was. She said, "You're Leslie? I brought you a present!!" Haha. What?! Me?! Michelle went to their cooler, then turned around with a Heady Topper to give to me. She said she had gotten that for me basically because I was a fast runner AND drank a lot of beer! hahaha. I loved it! Hell, yes! But, wow! What a surprise! I couldn't believe she brought that specifically for me. And it's damn good beer.

From here I made my way into the big tent to watch the awards and to find out our team results. CMS ended up 2nd overall for the open women! Awesome.

From here, I made my way back to the Six03 tent. Way too much socializing for me outside of the tent. I'd hang out there until we were all shut down and told to vacate. Boo. But I guess it was time. I dragged my non-empty beer cooler back to the car then drove back to Center Conway to pick up John. This year, he had had a great time with his grandparents, so I was relieved. We stopped for ice cream on the way home because it was SO hot, and I needed some sort of substance.

Once home, I took the dogs on a walk up Heavenly Hill, then I was all done for the night. I got invited back out to the Moat for dinner, but I declined. I needed quiet, and John wasn't really up for it either. I was tired and my legs trashed.
My injury. Doesn't look so bad. It would end up causing me quite a bit of pain for two weeks! It was mainly just a bad bruise that covered half of the front of my leg. I couldn't wear my work boots for a week because of the cuts on my foot.

Heady Topper from Michelle

Beer that I stole from the Six03 cooler before I left. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recovery...Kind of!

I was already toeing the line, but I basically screwed myself by racing Pack Monadnock, followed by a stupid week of running and then Ascutney. The last two times I ran Ascutney, I was fine and needed little recovery, but since I was still recovering from Boston, the Ammonoosuc Amble, Big River Trail Half, Seven Sisters, Sleepy Hollow, the Twilight 10,000m, VCM, Pack Monadnock AND the Great Glen Trails weekly race, I think it's safe to say that the recovery from Ascutney wasn't going to be so quick. Hahaha!! (I swear I have like 5 or 6 weekends off from racing on the tentative schedule for 2016! I'm not even the worst offender... Ellen Tidd, Diane Levesque, Gary Reuter and Erica Khan, you know who you are!! Haha. :) ). I think I did better with easier runs this time around because, even though I wasn't feeling 100% at Mt Washington, I also wasn't feeling tired, worn out or sore. Just still on the slow side.

Monday, June 13, 2016- I started Monday off with a zero day. We were fairly busy at work, so I was still moving around more than usual. I was on call again so I just stayed in my uniform after work and took a walk on the trails I had yet to explore by White Lake. I think I freaked some people out when I walked up toward the lake; the uniform kind of looks like a cop's from a distance. They got quiet and stared suspiciously until I got closer realized that I wasn't. It was kind of funny. The new-to-me trail was short and just went out to another pond before ending at the snowmobile trail, which I followed for a bit before turning around. I was getting too close to the 20 minute mark for when I had to be into work after getting called in. Fortunately, I ended up not getting called in until later but still got a full night's sleep.
White Lake walk. Mt Chocorua peaking out.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016- I got up earlier than usual, so 7:30, it was. Haha. I wanted to get a decent trail run in over at the Mineral Site before John came home. Instead of the normal 12 miles, I decided to cut it short and drive all the way in to the main trailhead, thus skipping the High School Loop which is 2 miles extra each way. 8 miles seemed like a wiser idea. I brought Spot along since I knew it would be a slow pace and we made our way over to Whitehorse Ledge via the Stony Brook Trails and then looped back via the Tent Boulder Trail. My legs felt pretty heavy, but I somehow managed to break one of my own course records on Strava on the full climb on Stony Brook. And it wasn't by mere seconds. It was by exactly a minute. Crazy. I had some other segments in there that I didn't touch, but to hit that one and by so much was pretty surprising. The 8 mile run was 1,342 ft of elevation gain and took just over an hour and a half. This would be my longest run this week before Mt Washington. Not bad. Not bad.

I had some errands to run in Portland, so as soon as John got home, we left. I brought along the bikes so that we could bike on the Back Cove Trail. It's a mostly flat 3.7 mile ride, and even though the wind was whipping like crazy, it didn't seem to be blowing much on the bike path. John actually enjoyed the bike ride which I wasn't sure was going to happen.

We didn't have too much time there. I hit the Bier Cellar to pick my orders, Trader Joe's and then back to North Conway for John's ninja class. Typical Tuesday night. Picked up Allagash's latest release of Nancy. Pretty good. Very tart. Cool tree on the label. I should make that a tattoo. Oh wait...

 Wednesday, June 15, 2016- You know when your truck ends up like this:
 And is followed by this all before 8am...'re in for a busy day. I had actually gotten myself out of bed at 4:30am to run 5 miles on the treadmill, keeping it at 1% to save the legs. 7:15/mi pace. I didn't have my first bite of food until 6 hours later. As soon as I got the truck cleaned from the bad call, it was right into another 911. I literally almost passed out twice while restocking the truck after that second call. I needed food that badly. That's kind of how the whole day went. Busy as hell, then a little down time, then busy as hell. That was the busiest day I've ever worked here, and I was SO tired by the time we had our last call that night.

I wasn't able to make it to John's track meet at Fryeburg, but Donna Cormier snapped this shot of John in the long jump. I wouldn't find out until the next week when John brought home the ribbons, but he won his heat in the 50m! That was cool to hear. He also ran the 100m and got a "participation" ribbon. Haha. Still cool. He ended up enjoying the track program... but still hates running. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2016- Third to last 34 hour shift. I have been counting down the weeks and cannot wait to have Thursdays free. Another pretty busy day. I was happy to be skipping the Great Glen Trails race this week. I didn't want to drive up there just to run it for fun, so I ran an easy run in the Bolles Preserve in Chocurua. It was literally on my way home from work and not too strenuous with climbing. 5.5 miles. 10:19/mi pace with 921ft of elevation gain. But once again, I think I'm taking it easy, and I break another one of my own course records on TWO minutes. No idea how that happened. I'm thinking this one could be a watch error, but maybe not. The last time I ran this segment back in April, I ran it even easier than today, and then before that was 2014 when I was much slower than I am now. So maybe it is real.

When I got home, I was psyched to find a package in the mail from RunVermont with my age group award. It's similar to last year's except last year was a maple leaf key chain... and I wasn't so old. Haha.

After that 34 hours, I needed a BIG beer, and this was a good choice.

Friday, June 17, 2016- Slept in as late as I could, then was super lazy. Finally got out for one of the easiest runs I do. The Albany Town Forest. I brought Phoenix and Spot along. I had planned no more than 5 miles, but it ended up being 6.1 with the addition of some Strava art I made for somebody. Crazy to think that it added in a mile. It was a good run and perfect for the day before Mt Washington.

I was feeling less tired by today, but I did start to question whether I should have followed my original plan to take 3 full days off in a row this week like I did last year. It did wonders for me last year. I was so recovered, ran a decent time and then jumped right into Whiteface Skymarathon the following weekend feeling great. But hindsight is 20/20, and I felt pretty good to go for Saturday. Like I said, not 100%, but not too bad.

When John came home, I took him to the lake. It started raining pretty much as soon as we got there, though, so we didn't stay long. We were meeting the Six03 group at McGrath's for dinner anyway, so leaving the beach made it less rushed. There wasn't a huge crowd at McGrath's, and dinner was quick. No one wanted to be out too late the night before. I know I didn't. I did have a beer and a burger, then juiced some vegetables in my juicer when I got home. Something didn't sit right, though, and I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I was going to puke. I ran to the bathroom, but nothing. Not good. I couldn't go back to sleep until it subsided, and by then I was awake worrying I was going to be sick for Mt Washington. Fortunately, I never puked and finally went back to sleep.
Blurry, but I liked how he had his headphones on. He chose the Six03 shirt himself.
Swimming in the rain

Paul Kirsch dropped off my bib that afternoon. 40 for my age. I love it!
Here's a fun song: