Monday, June 11, 2018

Staying Busy

John and me in the Great Hill Fire Tower
Not much to write about this week really. I held myself to my no running rule which became a little tough over the weekend. Seeing everyone's race posts/photos kind of gave me the itch to run, but I didn't. Two full weeks off is what I promised myself before I do any test runs. I know the injury isn't gone and won't be for a LONG time from what I've read, but I'm still hoping to throw some running back in there. Not sure how much right off the bat, except that I'll still be racing Ribfest 5-Miler on 6/17. Still planning just to powerhike Mt Washington on 6/16, but even that will leave my legs pretty tired for Ribfest. Hoping to get through it with a respectable time and minimal pain, but we'll see. This next week will be a test for sure.

After an easy rest day on Monday, I really hit the spin bike hard for 4 days straight and then overdid it a bit on Friday when I did the bike for an hour, then hiked up Mt Whiteface and followed that with the Friday Night Lights vertical race at Black. I woke up Saturday pretty sore and tired so I took that day off biking and just did some short hikes. Sunday I got back on the spin bike and the mountain bike. So even with no running, I'm pushing myself pretty hard. I have to stay in shape somehow. And as we all know, I'm a hyperactive person anyway so I can't just sit around normally. I was tortured a bit with that at work since I picked up some extra shifts this week. One 10-hour shift on Thursday and then the on-call shift Saturday night. I still managed to walk while at work at least.

I still feel fit, but by the weekend I was missing that awesome feeling I get from running. I think the worst part is that I feel like I'm missing out, but that will change in the coming weeks. Even if I can't run much during the week, I'll still be at races. I need that part to escape from my sad, little life.

So an interesting thing. About a month and a half ago, a friend's wife suddenly came down with the exact same intestinal issues I've been having. Symptoms the same. Luckily for her, she was able to get a colonoscopy and a diagnosis. Although I have no idea if we have the same thing, she was diagnosed with a sub-type of microscopic colitis which is what I've suspected I have as well. Mine is just a hunch based on symptoms, but I was really curious to know the treatment. And as I suspected...steroids for 6 weeks. Yeah, no thanks. Maybe when hell freezes over. Haha. That's what I suspected since I've learned that's pretty much the treatment for most intestinal problems. So no matter what I have it really doesn't matter because the treatment is the same, and I'm not putting steroids in my body. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that living with what I have cannot be good for me in the long term either, but steroids are scary with nasty side effects. I can't do it. I AM down another pound to 117 which is a good race weight; so as long as I'm not drastically dropping weight or getting sick, I know that my body IS digesting enough even though it honestly doesn't feel like it. If I do see a sudden change with this issue I'm having then I will have to rethink the steroid thing and hell might just have to freeze over for 6 weeks. At that point I'll have to do a cost-benefit analysis and make a judgment call, but that wouldn't be until I actually have insurance again...so that's probably not happening anyway. Haha.

Other things this week...hmm. I'm digging here. I cut my hair. Haha. Not a real cut, though. Just trimmed the ends a bit at this awesome salon called my bathroom. Haha. I haven't gotten my haircut since November so the ends were looking pretty dried out so I knew I had to do something. And I like I said before, I've basically given up on trying to look good, so I didn't care how it came out. It looks pretty awful and is super uneven, but whatever. I don't care anymore. My looks have never gotten me anywhere before and they won't ever, now that I'm getting older. Haha. Plus I just saved about $60. Along those lines, it's kind of interesting that the week after I got rid of my nails, my nail salon closed its doors for good. There are others, but I really liked this particular place. Tells me the timing is right. And the nails never covered up the old hands anyway. I'm not really writing this to put myself down. Aging is a fact. Every year, I'm going to look older. I still think I look pretty good for my age so I'll take that. Haha.

Monday, June 4, 2018- Super quiet day at work. Walked 30 minutes on the treadmill since it was raining all day. I spent most of the day working on last week's blog post. It was actually the perfect day to be at work since the weather was gross.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018- Drove right to Integrity Fit to spin for an hour. After a day off, I pushed extra hard today. As always, my ass was kicked and I was soaked in sweat.

No idea what the shiny thing is in my mouth. Spit bubble? Haha.
I was a bit rushed to shower and head out the door since John overslept and had no time to make a lunch. So I had to bring him lunch by noon.

The day was gloomy, but I lucked out to miss the rain completely during my hike up to Big Rock Cave with the dogs. I didn't have a lot of time since I wanted to go to the grocery store before coming back to pick John up. This was the perfect hike for today. Only 3.6 miles round trip and not too difficult of a hike. As the place is called, it is a rock cave that's pretty fun to crawl around in. These are basically giant boulders that fell (rolled?) into each other at some point, and they are huge. I took a shot with Chill in it for some perspective on their size. I still couldn't fit the whole boulder in the shot.


Here are some other photos from the hike. Sorry, not sorry, for the selfies, but it's my blog, so I will put as many selfies as I want on here. Haha.


There's a giant rat in the cave!




I made it to the store and back to John's school just in time to not be late. Haha. I got in an upper body and abs workout when we got home then got to work making a pasta dish for the potluck at John's school Wednesday night. It's a yummy dish, but only when eaten fresh, I learned. By the time it was at the potluck, it had dried out and not many people ate it. This turned out to work in my favor, though, since I now had dinner for dayyyyyz. Haha. The usual ninja class that night. Kind of looking forward to this ending for the summer since it's so late. I packed tonight for my next 2 days since I wouldn't be back home until Thursday night. I had to pack clothes for two spin sessions and two work days, plus a change of clothes after the 2nd spin on Thursday and a stuff for two showers. This was like going away for the weekend...except it wasn't fun. Haha.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018- Woke up at 4:45am happy that I HAD packed everything the night before since I basically just had to change into my workout clothes, pack up my food and coffee and then head out. Since I didn't have a lot of time, I only did a 30 minute spin video at the gym, but I made sure to pick one that kicked my ass. I had planned to shower there, but someone was using the one shower that's at the gym. Well, so I thought there was only one shower. Haha. Turns out there was a second one; I just didn't see it and thought it was a regular bathroom. Oops. It wasn't until someone told me the next day that I realized it. Haha. So I just went right to work from the gym and showered there.

This would be the 3rd Wednesday in a row of nothing but one fire alarm for the whole 24 hours. I was fortunate, though, to be able to leave for 4 hours from 5p-9p. My coworker, Bill, offered to cover for me so that I could go to John's portfolio showcase at school that night. I was so happy I was able to go since I had been dying to see the sheep he and some classmates built to study its anatomy. John's focus was the heart and lungs. I'll be honest. I really had no idea what a portfolio showcase was. I thought John was doing a presentation. Instead, it turned out to be each student presenting his/her work throughout the year. They had to show what they had done in all the disciplines required by the school. None of it is like a regular school so I'm not going to explain it. Haha. Check out The Community School's Facebook page, though, if you want to see photos of the students' portfolios to get a better idea.

I started with John, of course, and looked through his work. He had his own table and everything organized how he wanted it. Once I "got" what this was about, it all made sense. This was basically each student's unique display of their work, set up only by them. John's favorite part of history he studied was the Korean War so he had a photo of one of the battles. One of his team collaboration jobs was moving the fencing together for some animal pens so he hung a small piece of fencing up. The funniest part was that he learned at some point that eating the flower of the dandelion made him throw up so he picked a bunch of dandelions for his table. Haha. There rest was just all of his writing on display. The parents were supposed to go around to all of the kids' tables and provide feedback/criticism. I couldn't hit many of them, but it really helped seeing the other kids' work for me to understand exactly what was expected of them. So I was able to go back and give John feedback for the things I think he needs to work on. This process was actually really helpful to me for that since I honestly didn't know. Now, I can see he needs to write more and work on his handwriting, for example. I loved seeing John super excited to share what he had done with us. This sounds cheesy, but it really warmed my heart so much to see him there as a part of this. Like it almost brought me to happy tears.

Another good thing was that Bryan was there. This was our first John function that we've ever attended together. It actually went well! We were genuinely friendly to each other. When he's being nice to me, it's easy for me to talk to him like an old friend. We spent over 16 years of our lives together so you'd think it would be easy, but I guess it's really just specific to this type of event/environment. Haha. But whatever, it was kind of nice.







They used real sheep's wool for the outside of the sheep. Haha.
I looked at 5 other students' portfolios then I had to leave. On the walk out the skies were gorgeous. I snapped some photos as I walked to my car.




As I drove, I headed into some crazy cloudy skies. I took this photo to send to someone, but never did and never will. Oh well. Haha.


Once back at work, I did some abs then went to bed.

Thursday, June 7, 2018- I was actually pretty bummed to be working today. I had originally NOT picked up a shift this particular Thursday on purpose since I had planned to finish up doing the trail exploration in southern Mass that has been ongoing since December. So it did kind of bother me today that I couldn't run. But now I didn't need the day off, and my partner, Jeff, wanted to take the shift off so that he could go to his daughter's scholarship night at school, so I picked it up from him. I needed the overtime anyway since I haven't had any the last two paychecks. Plus, I had Jared as a partner, and he's one of the good ones here. We had two calls, a fire alarm and one transport. The day didn't drag at least. By the time I finished my report, it was 5pm and time to leave. Yay!

I drove right to North Conway to get on the spin bike at the gym. A guy was in there using a bike which has happened a few times. They're always just using the bike, but not doing a video so I ask if they mind me putting on a video. They've been cool about it, and this guy actually joined in the "class" until he had to leave. Kind of made a little more fun with a real person in there. Since it was so late, I only did a 45 minute spin which still kicked my ass as much as the hour class does. Haha. When I was done, I tried the only core-specific video I could find on there. It was 10 minutes and just a little too easy for me. Haha.

It was so nice to go home after 2 days of being gone! Yay! The night was cool so I finally opened the Stoneface RIS that Tom Hooper had belatedly given me for my birthday. Good stuff!

I sipped on this for 2 hours. No lie! Haha.
And of course dog snuggle time
Friday, June 8, 2018- No sleeping in. I was up at 6:45am to make John's lunch and make sure he was up for school. He had overslept AGAIN on Thursday and missed the van. School is out for summer in just a few days, but before it starts back up in the fall, I'm getting an old school loud-as-fuck bell alarm clock that will wake his ass up. Haha.

It was back to the gym for an hour spin class this morning. For some reason, it felt harder than the last time I had done this particular one. My legs felt a little trashed. I still got through it.

I rushed home to shower and get back out to the Ferncroft trailhead so that I could fit in a hike up Mt Whiteface with Phoenix before picking John up at school. As always, I had remembered the mileage wrong and thought it was 3 miles to the summit, but it was 3.9. Haha. This meant a bit of rushing to get to the (true) summit of Whiteface and back down by 3pm. I hauled ass up that thing even though I was pretty beat from the spin class. Made it back down by 2:40pm.

The views from this mountain are amazing on a clear day like today. Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, Ossipee Lake, Mt Chocorua, Mt Passaconaway...and so on.

View of Whiteface from Ferncroft Trailhead. It's the mountain in the background.

Chocorua is the tallest one in the distance.




I love breathing in the air up here on the ridge. And the smell of Balsam Fir is awesome.

Very much not an exciting summit

She loves to cool off in the water. Haha.
I hustled it back down the mountain almost at a run, but not quite going there even though I had the itch to. Picked up John and headed home.

Even though my day wasn't over as far as doing stuff, I still had a post-hike beer when we got home. Steve Brightman gave me this one after Cranmore.


I had a couple of hours to veg at least. I should have eaten more, but I had absolutely no appetite today. I ate a bagel (still left over from my race haha) before the spin class and then an apple on the hike, but that was it. I force fed myself veggie chips in some effort to have energy for the vertical race later, but I didn't eat many. I wasn't feeling sick at all, so the loss of appetite didn't make much sense. Too busy to be hungry maybe?

I let John stay home again while I drove up to Black Mt for week 2 of the Friday Night Lights race. I'll be honest. I wasn't really feeling it. And I had no desire to be social tonight, but I was looking forward to the race part. I did my best to act like a normal person and talked to people, but I'm reminding myself to get there at the last minute next time so I can just go right into the race. As with last week, I planned not to run a step and ended up in last place right from the start. This course wasn't a good one for me since about 3/4 of it was less steep and easily runnable for most people. It was only the last part up some steep glades where my power hiking would have an advantage. I only passed 6 people this time and was part of the back of the pack tonight. It was totally fine, but it was REALLY hard holding myself back from running on the first 3/4 of that. Haha. The course was only slightly longer at 1.4 miles tonight and took me just over 26 minutes.


I only took a few photos tonight. This one is of Andrew videoing everyone. Rich Leonard is the one smiling. I wasn't the only one to comment that this is the first time we've ever seen him without his wife, Andrea, who was off on a girls weekend. Haha.
I once again attempted to be social but it was actually a struggle. I just wanted to be alone so I finally left for the walk down by myself. I took last week's course down so that I would most likely stay alone. The evening was gorgeous and even a little bit chilly! Perfect. I had planned to stay for the raffle. No beer since I didn't want to spend the money. I changed my shoes and then took my bag out to the car where I planned to leave it before walking back to the deck for the raffle. But when I opened my door, I realized I just wanted to get into my car and drive away so I did.

I was finally hungry when I got home and ate some of the pizza I had made for John before I left. My body was really tired which came as no surprise. An hour of spinning, a hike of a 4000 footer and another 1000+up Black Mt was a lot for one day.

Saturday, June 9, 2018- As soon as I sat up out of bed, I could feel a lot of soreness in my legs. I also had some slight pain in the tendons. I had overdone it the day before. I couldn't help it, though. I had so little free time that I wanted to fit it all in in one day. Haha. And I even ran out of time to kayak! :)

I knew spin was out for the day. John had to be at his school from 9:45am until noon for the senior graduation so I just planned to do an easy hike up Bayle Mt with the dogs while he was there. I didn't have a lot of time since just the drive over to the Ossipee side of the mountain took 20 minutes each way so I opted to take the shortcut trail from the snowmobile trail that connected to the Bayle Mt Trail. It probably cut off a half mile each way and gave us just enough time to get up there and hang out for a bit before heading back. This was only a 2.6 mile round trip hike so it was perfect for my tired legs. And it was ANOTHER beautiful day.




After I picked up John, I took him to the trailhead off of 113A for a hike up to the Great Hill Fire Tower. He wasn't getting away with no exercise! Haha. :) This is a pretty easy hike and only 2.3 miles round trip. It was pretty buggy, but nothing has yet to compare to last summer. That was the worst summer bug-wise I'd ever experienced up here. Once at the top, Chill kept trying to go up the fire tower but would only make it half way up the first set of stairs before getting scared and going back down. It was kind of funny. I carried Phoenix up to the top. She was definitely not a fan of this.




Phoenix with the look of terror


Poor Chill finally gave up trying. Haha.
The hike down was quick and then we went home. I got in an upper body, abs and glutes workout and that was it for me before I had to be ready for work at 5pm. The on-call (stipend) shift is ok for me to do since I'm not leaving John behind for too long. I can just rarely pick them up on the weekends since I race so much. Since I had nothing going on Sunday and they were desperate to fill the shift, I decided to pick it up for the extra cash.

I was happy I got dinner made before I got called in just after 6pm. When I got to work, one of the other crews was back in service so I headed home after chatting a bit. About two miles from home, a tone went out for Ossipee Corner, so I turned my car around and went back. The other crew was transporting to Memorial from West Ossipee at that time. I was back at the base maybe 10 minutes before we got a tone to Center Ossipee. Always Ossipee. I hate that town. Ours was for an assault so we ended up transporting. I was home around 10pm and luckily didn't get called back in again before my shift ended at 7am. Stipends are a great way to make some money if you get called in. I made $116 for 4 hours of work. I'll take it!

Sunday, June 10, 2018- Today was a struggle because I really wanted to be racing. The weather was too beautiful not to be out there. I had originally planned to race Nipmuck South as part of the Grand Tree Series, but it wasn't to happen obviously. That would make two planned Grand Tree races in a row I would have to miss (Cranmore was the other). Ugh. My schedule is so tight as it is since the Grand Prix races coincide with many of them. I have Upton and Busa Bushwhack on the calender but now I have to fit one more in as well to count for my 6 races. I had Wapack 18 mile race as tentative one, but I'm not feeling that one at all so I'm either going to do the People's Forest Trail Race or Monroe Dunbar Brook. Neither is ideal schedule-wise, but I'll just pick the least cumbersome of the two. And of course, any racing is all dependent on how I'm feeling with this injury thing that I probably won't be good about resting properly. Haha. I don't care much how I place in the Grand Tree, but I just wanted to count this year. And hopefully, next year I can do more of them and get off the roads a bit more than I have the last 4 years.

So anyway, I slept in pretty late this morning to finally catch up a bit then went back to the gym for an hour of spinning. I felt completely recovered so the easy Saturday was the right move. I'm really hoping this spinning will help me next week at Ribfest. I'm really nervous about how it's going to go.

I went home, showered, then dragged John out to mountain bike on the trails by Echo Lake. I like biking these because they're gently rolling so we can ride quickly. The trails are very rooty in spots, but other than that it's smooth sailing. We only biked 3.1 miles which was good enough for me. Haha. That's also just enough time to keep John interested, too.



I was surprised he actually accepted my suggestion to go to the lake beach after. Yay! We found the beach completely unoccupied when we got there which was so weird. Maybe it was the yellow, pollen-filled water that turned people away, but not John. He thought it was fun to swim in. Haha.


It wasn't long after we arrived that some others did, too, and unfortunately, it was the four awful kids we'd run into there last year. I wrote about them in some blog post from last summer. They gave me a bad vibe to my core last year and today was no different. I don't know what it is exactly, but there's just something so off with them as if they could be dangerous people some day. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. Right after they arrived, some people showed up via boat and proceeded to yell at their kids constantly. Argh. Haha. So much for  a quiet beach. The water was actually kind of cold even for John so he only swam for about a half hour then joined me in the sand for about 20 minutes before we left.

I could have done more like mow the yard (the mower had just overheated and works fine now!) or do upper body and abs, but for some reason, my ass would not get off the couch. Haha.


So considering this post took me no time at all to write meant a pretty uneventful week. My life is very much not exciting when running isn't involved. Maybe I should make some gym rat friends I can pump iron with so I can write about how much I can lift. Haha.



Ok. Nah. I'll stick with running. :)


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Everything But Running


I'm doing great. I'm putting that out there right off the bat because I'm finding a lot of humor in this. The grimace in the face just before someone asks how I'm doing thinking I MUST be distraught from not running. I'm sure they breathe a secret sigh of relief when my response is, "I'm doing great!" And I mean it 100%. I am happy not to be running right now because running for the last 15 months, and especially the last 2.5 months, meant pain and disappointment. I've only just now in the last week realized how much this injury was affecting EVERYTHING. I didn't realize how depressed it had made me. This week of not running was a huge eye opener to the last 2.5 months and my state of being. Obviously, there were a lot of other factors, but I didn't know just how much this injury was bringing me down. I have been SO happy the last week. To not be in pain is the biggest relief. The end of the expectations I had for myself that I knew I couldn't meet but kept on attempting because I had that glimmer of hope that it would all be ok when I really knew it wouldn't be (sorry about the run-on sentence; take a breath before continuing). My constant failure in my own eyes. The pressure I put on myself with a really broken body was a heavy load, but we competitive runners do that to ourselves all the time. The internal anguish over it had brought me down to such a low that I didn't realize it until I stopped running. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel so much more relaxed. I can sleep again. I'm not in pain!!

The pain. I feel like I was open about it, but then after to talking to the MANY people who have reached out to me since last Sunday, it turns out that I wasn't. I wrote about it here in a little more detail, but I guess maybe my denial kept me from writing just how bad it was at times. Haha. I was to the point of not even being able to get out of my car without lifting my legs with my hands and placing them outside the door and then using my arms to stand up. Once up I couldn't even walk. It always warmed up eventually, but that just meant "bearable" pain. There were times I couldn't even run for the first 1/4 mile of a warm up and was reduced to a straight-legged shuffle until I could move. What I'd do just to keep running. It's amazing to look back at the stubbornness. It wasn't stupidity. I knew that I shouldn't be running. I knew I needed to stop, but I just refused, and it didn't help when I'd actually have a good day or race. Just gave me the momentum to keep running. I had to get to the breaking point, and VCM gave that to me. I have no shame whatsoever that I dropped out of the marathon. I have no problem talking about all of this. I'm not in any way depressed over the fact I'm not running. As with my last injury, this isn't the hard part. I accepted it the second I stopped running and immediately focused on what I COULD do to stay active and in shape and just enjoy the break. It's the comeback that will bring the tears and frustration, but since I've been through this before, I know it will be tough, but I know that it can be done. Just 3 months after I started running again last time, I ran my 5K PR. I didn't run another PR after that, but I had a pretty awesome 2016! So it can be done even though I don't think it will be as easy this time around.

Found the one and only photo of me from VCM photographers. Not exactly flattering, but my form is good!



So what am I doing in the meantime? Well everything I can possibly get away with that doesn't cause me pain. Hiking, spinning, strength training and kayaking. And I'm not doing these things just to pass the time. There's a purpose to it all. Hiking is actually keeping me in shape for uphill and endurance. Spinning is doing more than that. It's not just to maintain my fitness. It's actually going to INCREASE my fitness. The worst part of the last 2.5 months has been the loss of fitness from only being able to run slowly and not being able to do any real workouts. I have lost SO much! Spinning is actually giving me a chance to push myself to my max again; something I couldn't do with this injury holding me back. I'm working harder on the spin bike than I have running in a LONG time. I won't be in better running shape, but I will be fitter, and that will help get me back to speed faster. I don't get the runner's high with spinning, but for now, it will have to be good enough.

I did spinning 4 times this week. Tuesday I hit Olympia Gym in Wolfeboro only to find out most of the spin class will no longer be happening. Plus, I only had like 3 classes left on my card anyway. I was reluctant to join another gym, but I NEED a spin bike right now, so I paid a visit to Integrity Fit in North Conway. I was hesitant to go in there because it's a big weightlifting gym, but I liked the idea that the spin "classes" were actually virtual so that I could use them anytime (24hrs). I know that to a lot of people that would be the most horrible thing in the world, but it's what I need. After the initial shock that a one-time only, one-month membership was $63 wore off, I realized it was my only option for spinning so I paid it. Turns out, there are 148 videos to choose from, and the 3 I've used so far have been 10x better than any real life spin/cycling class I've taken in recent years. Plus, I can do them whenever I want. The bikes are in excellent condition, and it's air conditioned! It may sound silly, but when you're desperate, you become less picky. I'm still outside most of my days off so an hour in the gym isn't a big deal especially when it's kicking my ass. Haha. The classes are basically intervals, something I haven't done running in who knows how long. I had some fun with the photos the first day since I've never taken a virtual gym class before.




That's instructor, Kim. Her class is actually the best yet.
Monday, May 28, 2018- I had originally taken Monday off for my 2-night stay in Burlington, but after I had to cancel my hotel I picked up a shift at Club Motorsports so I wouldn't use up my earned time. That ended up being cancelled and with no other shifts open I was left with an unneeded day off. No problem! I could fill it! Haha. It was actually chilly and overcast so perfect day for a hike up Mt Chocorua. The nice thing about hiking is that I can bring Phoenix along and she won't piss me off with her constant chipmunk chasing.

I opted for the Hammond Trail since it's a much less-used trail up. It runs into Liberty where I did come across a lot of other hikers, but nothing crazy. The cold, windy weather deterred the big crowds. I couldn't believe how out of shape I felt hiking, but you use different muscles than running up so it ended up being a really good workout. The summit was pretty windy so I only stood on the summit for a few seconds before hiding behind some rocks to be out of it.





On the way down, I finally decided to do the entire Skull Cairn Trail. Although I've known about this trail since 2013, I'd only once hiked a portion of it with John from the bottom up a few years ago. It was time to do the whole thing. In case you're wondering why you've never heard of this trail on Chocorua, it's because it hasn't been a recognized trail since the 1940s, but, fortunately, although it's not maintained, it still sees enough foot traffic to follow it. Plus when they scraped the red blazes off the trees, it caused the trees to weep, so now there are basically weeping tree blazes you can follow. There were a few sections that were not easy to follow at all. The pond was confusing, but I knew that the trail went around the pond some direction so if I just got across it I would run into it, and I did. The ledge was also very confusing, but Phoenix actually led me around part of it before I found it again. It was kind of cool since Phoenix guided me on the trail whenever it disappeared from blowdowns or leaves. I assume her sense of smell kept her on the right path since there's no doubt animals still use this trail. I still had to pay attention the whole way because it wasn't always super obvious.

1934 map
Very visible trail

Weeping tree

Less visible trail. Guided by Phoenix

View of Chocorua Lake from the ledge

Skull Cairn haha


Drama alert! Haha. I was about a mile down the trail thoroughly enjoying myself when I get a broken up call from John saying something about the road to Chocorua (he was out of school and with Bryan). Call ended. I call back. "I need you to pick me up." Click. Call ended. Oh what the fuck now?!! Yep. One day they spend together and it can't be drama-free. Haha. Long story short. John was calling me from the woods somewhere along the Kanc south of the Champney Falls trailhead and wanted me to pick him up. This was not a good time for this since I was literally on the other side of the mountain and two hours from the car! Fortunately, after many dropped calls and worry on my end, things ended up working out ok. Bryan drove past John (since he couldn't see him in the woods) and all the way back to Conway before John was able to get ahold of him. He came back and got John, so it all worked out ok, but, seriously?? I definitely shortened this story, but I was so fucking worried all the while trying to navigate this unmaintained trail. One day! Just one day and they can't handle it together. I have no idea how the summer is going to go when it's back to spending more time together. Bryan couldn't even handle the rest of the day. When I got home he was there leaving John. I tried to talk to him, but he said he was too upset and needed to leave and be alone. I have no idea how he's going to handle the upcoming teen years if he can't handle age 12. I'm actually kind of concerned about him and his difficulty in handling stress. He struggled with anxiety after coming home from Iraq, and it got worse when we moved up here and our marriage started to fall apart. He lives in his van almost out of necessity. The less he has to manage, the easier it is for him to reduce his anxiety. It works for him. It just doesn't work well when you have a kid in the mix. They still have many great days together, but when conflict arises, he just can't handle it and it really seems to affect his decision making, especially now with John. I'm trying to be more understanding about this, but it's tough when I'm left being the one holding it all together for John. It's not fair to me, but the answer just isn't black and white. This is a way more complicated situation than I think people realize. And Bryan isn't just some jerk; he can be like one, but that too is also complicated.

In between finishing my hike and going home, I actually went to Tuckerman Brewing for a flight. I really don't care for their beer much, but I hadn't been there in awhile and it's so close to the house. After dealing with a stressful situation, I opted for a flight of 8 instead of 4. Haha.It took me almost 2 hours to finish it all; it was way too much.


Later that night, I ended up in a group message from Tom Hooper asking if I wanted to join him and Alex Shaffer on a Chocorua hike the next day. Haha. Hike with people?! What's this? Of course I was in!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018- I drove down to Olympia Gym in Wolfeboro for an 8am spin class. This is when I learned that most spin classes were cancelled so I knew I would have to find another option. Today's class was ok. I have to modify the spinning somewhat in that I can't go out to hand position 3. That leaning position causes too much pain in the tendons so I just stayed standing up right for those parts. It felt so good to be back on the bike, but it was insanely hot in there. I had sweat literally pouring off my arms onto the floor. I was drenched! I looked around and I'm like wtf. No one else is even sweating!!! How is this possible?! The instructor was wearing pants and not even breaking a sweat. The only way this is possible is that they weren't putting much tension on their bikes. But you'd think they would still be sweating just from the heat of the room, but nope. I guess I'm the only who sweats. Haha. I hadn't planned to shower after, but I was so gross so I found some body wash under the sink and used my shirt as a towel. Haha. There was no way I wanted to meet those guys for the hike that gross. I even washed my hair with the body wash. Haha.

I went straight to the Piper Trailhead and got there about 10 minutes early. The group had increased the night before to include Liz Collins and JT Theile so we had a good group. I also brought Phoenix again to bark at people. Haha. Today was the total opposite weather than the day before, but it ended up being perfect on the summit. It was nice being invited along and having people to talk to. The only downside is that they're a tight-knit group, and I really don't fit in with them. Some of the conversation I was lost on since it included stories about people I don't know or talk about trips somewhere cool, but I was able to keep up with most of it... I think. I tried at least, but it confirmed my suspicion that I'm kind of awkward in a group, especially now that I've spent most of the last 3.5 years alone (other than John, of course). My isolation is starting to show. If even I'm noticing it, then I think it's a real thing. Haha.

Alex, Tom, JT and Phoenix

Phoenix begging for food from Liz

I was the only one who thought to bring a summit beer so we passed it around. Haha.
I was pretty beat by the time I was done. Another 8 mile hike plus a one hour spin class. Haha. Those guys went on to Hobbs for post-hike beer and food, and I drove down to South Tamworth to pick up John. I had errands to run after dropping John off at the house so I didn't have time to hang out anyway. I went to Integrity to ask about memberships, to get dog food and stopped at the grocery store. Once home, I took a shower then it was back out to ninja class. I walked the dogs and then finally sat down. I was all done. Haha.


Chill was yellow from pollen, but it's hard to see. haha.
Wednesday, May 30, 2018- The start of two VERY boring, sedentary days. Only 2 fire alarms on Thursday and then just sitting around at the track on Thursday. Ugh. TOO MUCH SITTING. I did break it up on Wednesday by taking my usual 2 mile walk on the trail out back and then I got in 20 minutes of upper body and abs upstairs in the air conditioning. It was a good down day, but I worked out pretty hard with the upper body stuff and had jelly arms. Then I just read my book for awhile. Super boring day.

After my workout
John's project at school. They're building a sheep.
Thursday, May 31, 2018- Looong day just sitting at the track. It was beautiful out until it all of a sudden got really warm. I was glad I brought my umbrella today. Haha.

See? Sedentary
I at least finally finished the book that Dave Dunham had recommended. I really enjoyed it. Like he said, it was stuff we already should know, but it was good to read it from so many other runners' perspectives. Run Strong, Stay Hungry should be on any 40+ runner's reading list. I'd almost say that even 35+ would find it useful, especially if you've been running your whole life. It was actually really appropriate to be reading it now amidst my running hiatus.

John during reading time at school today.
I couldn't wait to get out of work. 33 hours is way too long to be doing nothing. Ugh. So not busy right now! I wanted to get a hike in before dark so I drove to Effingham to hike up Green Mountain via the Dearborn Trail. If I were running, I would have run up Dearborn and then done an up-down on the other two trails and then back down Dearborn. Haha. But that wasn't to happen. Instead I hiked up the 1.2 miles to fire tower and had a summit beer. It was a beautiful evening. Hard to believe it was still so light after 7pm. On the way back down, a porcupine and I met each other on the trail. He was so cute. Put up his quills then slowly walked over to a tree to climb it.




First time I've been up the new fire tower. It's really nice.





I went home from there. John was home as always. And also as always..... it was couch snuggle time with Phoenix! Haha.



Friday, June 1, 2018- I did an upper body and abs workout first today, which was unusual then went back to Integrity Fit to actually sign up for the month membership and did my first spin class there. Like I said before, it was a really good workout.

I brought along my kayak in hopes of fitting in an hour on Conway Lake before I had to pick up John from school. It ended up working out perfectly. 3.6 mile paddle. Tailwind out. Headwind back. Always like that on Conway Lake.



National Donut Day

On the way home from school
Later that evening, I headed up to Black Mt for the Run the Whites's (Andrew Drummond) Vertical Race Series. I was so looking forward to doing as many of these as possible this summer, and not running wasn't going to stop me. I decided just to hike it. It was a small group tonight, but we all enjoyed a really beautiful evening. I knew quite a few of the people there. It was good to see a few people I hadn't seen in awhile like Maine Jeff Walker (as opposed to RI Jeff Walker haha) and Paul Bazanchuk. It was nice not warming up since I didn't have to. My plan was to not run a step. That part kind of sucked since the first part was flat and everyone took off running except for me. I was so far behind the next person by the time we hit the climb that I assumed I would be dead last the whole way. I regular hiked the first part until I felt warmed up to start powerhiking. Once I started powerhiking, I started to catch people. It felt really good like all of a sudden I had my powerhiking legs back. Next thing I know I'm passing person after person. It took awhile to catch the last 4 people since we'd hit a slight downhill where they would run again and I would only speed walk, but by the final climb, I passed them and climbed on to the finish as 2nd female. Haha. I had passed 10 people along the way. That was pretty cool since I honestly never ran a step. It has me really excited now about Mt Washington to see my time difference only powerhiking it vs my sad run/walk that I've done every other year there. It will still be slower, but I'm curious to see just how much slower.



We hung out at the summit of Black Mt for a bit, but the black flies were getting bad, and I remembered that I had to walk down, not run, so it was going to take me longer. Most people took the same route down as up, but since I spent 5 seasons skiing here, I know the slopes well and took the shortest distance back. It was wetter, steeper and very grassy, but definitely shorter. Not sure it was the wisest choice because it hurt my toes. Haha.

Andrew put on a really good event. I was amazed at the awards/raffle prizes, free pizza and Clif samples. Plus, I forgot to mention that the event is FREE. I get less stuff than that at races that empty my bank account. We sat on the deck after with beer while he did the awards/raffle. Just a really fun time. I won a baguette and a Run the Whites hat. My favorite hat style! Yay!

Moat Mt Black Sheep IPA

Jeff Walker


I left after the awards to get back home to John. I told him that once school is out, he's going to have to join me for these races. Haha. He only got a pass tonight because he had just kayaked for 3 hours at school.

Here's a video that Andrew made at the race...


Saturday, June 2, 2018- This ended up being a pretty busy day. I slept in a little but got going sooner than usual since I had to drive to the gym. Got in another hour of spinning on the bike, aka another hour of ass-kicking. Getting my HR up into the 90-100% range during internals hurts but feels good at the same time. I haven't had that since probably Doyle's. Definitely didn't happen at the Children's Museum 5K since I couldn't get my body to go fast enough for that. I like the way this feels, and I think it will actually be good for my short-distance racing which I will probably be doing once I started running again. Maybe I won't end up embarrassing myself too badly at Ribfest.

Amy and Rick Bernard were giving me the rest of the couch set that goes to my chaise lounges so I asked my old ambulance partner, Shawn, if I could borrow his truck. Of course he said yes, but he came along to help me out since he's good like that. I had to get him beer to return the favor so I decided to take a quick trip over to Saco River Brewing to get some Hornets Nest DIPA cans. I know he never drinks that type of beer so I wanted to get him something different. I only had time for a quick taster of Buck Brown Ale while I was there.

Yes, I'm wearing my DNF VCM shirt. I wear the DNF VT50 shirt, too. 

When I got home I had just enough time to get in 15 minutes of upper body and abs before Shawn texted me that he was ready to meet me at Amy and Rick's. I got there before him. Charlie Bemis was there, too, so he and Rick helped bring the couches down. I had totally forgotten how big the couch set was and realized I only wanted the smaller piece, but I ended up taking it all. I have the garage to keep it in until I can give it away. Once Shawn showed up, we hauled it away to my house. The smaller piece only took a few minutes to bring into the house, and I now had a full couch set!! Omg! I was SO excited! I've never had a fun couch like this. For years, I was "forced" to get rid of all couch-like items and sit on large foam "bean bag" type things. John was super excited, too! I was exciting thinking how nice it would be to have all of my friends over now to sit around the couch...until I remembered that I don't have any friends! Haha. :) We'll still use it enough between the two of us.

Phoenix is giving me the "help me" look.
I took John to the Conway Lake beach after that for the first time this year, and all of the regulars were there as always. I actually really like this small group of people and kids we see there all summer. Aaron introduced me to a newcomer who had a cooler next to him and half whispered, "Do you want a beer?" I smiled, laughed, then reached over and picked up my Eco Vessel mug, held it in the air and said, "I already have one." Haha. They busted out laughing. I was glad I could refuse the beer anyway since it was Bud Light Lime.




We spent 2 glorious hours at the lake with John either swimming, playing with the other kids or jumping off the bridge. Funny that those of us whose kids have been going to this beach since they were little encourage the bridge jumping since our kids know how to do it right.

As if I couldn't get enough exercise, when we got home, I walked the dogs up Heavenly Hill to finally take care of them. They got the shaft earlier in the day so it was finally their turn. It was super buggy with black flies and mosquitoes so we didn't spend to much time on the ledge.

I did finally sit down after the walk back down.




Sunday, June 3, 2018-

The Cranmore Mountain Race! While I'll admit I was pretty bummed not to be participating in my 8th Cranmore, I was happy to still take part and volunteer for it. I have actually volunteered for Cranmore in some way or another every since 2012. 2011, I only raced it, but that was because I didn't know anyone yet (how times have changed!). With it being my hometown mountain race and one of my favorite races, I felt a need to do more than just race it. But I have to go off on a tangent about this a little bit. What I'm about to write about isn't a personal attack on the RDs. They are both friends of mine, whom I've known for years. They put on top notch races of which I have raced many! Chris even gave me free entries into the vertical races at Cranmore and Bretton Woods last year. Cranmore is really just an example of a trend in the increase in race entry fees. The reason this one bothered me SO much is basically what I just wrote. It's my hometown race; I've done it 7 times and volunteered at 6. I've even worked the ambulance at the same time at two of them. What stings is the insane increase in the entry fee over the last 2 years. Prior to admitting I was injured, I wanted to race Cranmore, but I honestly couldn't afford the $40 up until race week, Thursday, actually...which meant $44+change or pay $50 on race day! It advertised the usual First Responder/Military discount in the description, but it didn't actually exist for Cranmore (it does for Loon!). The thing is, had the cost not been so high, I would have still gone out there and just hiked the whole race, but to me that registration fee is too much! I went back and looked at what I paid for Cranmore in 2016...


What's the difference between 2016 and 2018? It's mainly that it changed from a non-profit race to a for-profit one. And don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking that. If this is your passion and can make a living off it, then more power to you. That's awesome. It just sucks on my end now that I'm being priced out of my hometown race, the one I've given hours of my time to. I'm no longer in the demographic of MANY road races and now, sadly, the same with many mountain and trail races. And this one hurts the most because I feel "unwelcome" at Cranmore. And, obviously, it's not a personal affront on me. I'm not saying that they purposely don't welcome me, and I hope I'm explaining this correctly, but when race fees get to the point where someone like me can no longer participate, I do feel hurt and unwelcome. I'm hurt that because I'm so poor as fuck that I can no longer do my hometown race. People like me can't participate in a lot of races because it has become so money driven, and of course, we have a choice not to do them. And I know that there are high costs for many races that mean a high entry fee, but those correlate with each other. Cranmore really hasn't changed much since I first raced it in 2011, and the shirt is not even included in the entry fee anymore. The last 2 years, I've mainly been sticking to the races I can afford or the ones CMS will pay for or anywhere I've been offered a complimentary entry. The expensive races don't have to accommodate me. They don't need me. There are plenty of people out there with the expendable income who are willing to pay it. So I'm not saying they should change anything or that I'm special in anyway (well, unless you mean "special" haha). But this one. Cranmore. It's really bothered me. Will I race it next year? Well, I hope so. Hopefully, I won't have to spend $600 in car repairs a month beforehand and will have something to spend for Cranmore. I hate this position I'm in, and I'm sure someone reading this is thinking that I should just change it as if it's that simple. Believe me. I would have done that a long time ago if it were that easy. But anyway, just felt a need to write about this to get it off my chest. I sincerely hope it doesn't offend anyone because it's not my intention at all. Rant off.

Naturally since I wasn't racing, I was still volunteering. I still want to be out there participating and seeing everyone when I can. Some people hide from it when they're injured, but I don't. I have to be a part of it; it's a huge part of my life. I was going to be working the water stop at the top of the climb at the Meister Hut this year. I was originally going to leave John at home, but when I thought about how much I had done this weekend without him, I changed my mind. Haha. I would end up winning Worst Mother of the Year for that one.

I got up super early so that we could leave at 5:30am. I HAD to do a spin workout before watching everyone race Cranmore or I would have been restless and going nuts. I let John sleep in the car with the dogs and did a 45 minute workout then took a quick shower. I made a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts where I ran into Dave Dunham and his friend, Robert, whom I'd met at Wachusett last year. They had spent the night in the Kearsage fire tower. It sounded like it was an amazing experience with the clear skies. Why I haven't done that yet is beyond me. It's something I've thought of doing since 2003.

We got to the mountain a little after 7am, and I guess I didn't really think it through that I was about to wake up the Johnster (John+monster), who has never been a morning person in his life, and make him step out of the car and walk up a mountain. Oops. Haha. I had told him the night before, but according to him I didn't. I know who is right, and it isn't him. hahahaha. It was actually kind of funny at the time, even though I tried to hide it. He was SO mad. "You expect me to wake up at 7 on a weekend?!" I'm actually chuckling as I'm writing this. Needless to say, I had Very Bad Attitude following the dogs and me up the mountain. I tried to take a pic, but he was so mad that he turned away. I told him that we'd laugh about this later...and guess what? We did!


We took the Jen's Friends Hill Climb route which is longer and almost 2 miles, but is the easiest route up. I was supposed to be up there by 8:10am and realized with 15 minutes to go that I was going to have to book it up the mountain ahead of John a bit. I made sure he was behind me at the last turn, and he knew the route anyway. I walked up to the Meister Hut at 8:09am pouring in sweat. Haha. Greg Carson, Dave McDermott and Scott Mason had just arrived via Paul's truck. We set up the water stop in time for the 1 lappers. John fell back asleep on the hut's deck while the dogs just stared at me with confusion.





The one-lap people came through and then it wasn't long before the 2-lap racers made their way up. The first lap was crazy since everyone was still so bunched up. The three of us were scrambling for a bit there to keep up, but we pulled it off. It was so fun seeing everyone come through and cheering them on. By the second lap, it was more spread out so we didn't have to rush to keep cups full like before. It was great watching the race play out on each of the laps. It did sting a little not to be out there, but I was having a great time anyway. It seemed to go by quickly, and before I knew it, the last two people came through. Everything was quickly loaded into Paul's truck, and I sent John along with them making me the last one to leave the summit with the dogs. I walked back via most of the course and was amazed to see just how SHORT the Koessler climb actually is when you walk down it. Haha. It seems like forever on the way up.

Last to leave the summit

By the time I got back down to the party, the good beer had been kicked and 3/4 of the people had already left. I caught up with a few people and felt bad only talking to Tom Hooper and the other Six03 people for a few minutes before making my way back to the car. I met up with Steve Brightman for a beer exchange then we made our way to the Moat for lunch. Brian Trahan met us there, and then Rachel Flaksman and her boyfriend, Derek, joined us later. John was actually in a really good mood ever since he woke up from his Meister Hut nap, so that was good.


No idea what Steve was doing, but it was a funny capture. Haha.
We bid them all farewell since they had a long drive...and I didn't, for once!

I was super restless when I got home. Haha. So I decided to mow the lawn. Well, somehow a rope that wasn't in the yard last year that I didn't put in the yard (grrr) ended up invisible under the grass. It had wrapped itself around the blade and cut off the lawn mower before I knew what was happening. UGH. I got it off, but the lawn mower wouldn't start again. So annoyed. I'm hoping that it just overheated and needed to cool off. If not, I will now own TWO broken lawn mowers and I should consider the hay business when my field gets as high as my head. Haha.

The only growing thing in my yard that looks good. Haha
That didn't cure my restlessness so I did some abs and glute activation exercises. Speaking of, Jackie Shakar sent me some great articles to read about my injury. I guess it's technically called Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy. I already knew a lot of it, but there was the part about sitting that I found interesting. With this injury, sitting for long periods of time is the MOST painful, but I learned that it doesn't mean I am actually causing more injury. It suggested getting up and doing glute exercises to alleviate that pain. Since my ass was in pain as I read that, I got up and spent about 10 minutes on my glutes. Sure enough! The pain was gone! So that's something new I've learned.


So as I had originally intended, I will probably attempt some very light running 3x day pretty soon. Since I am going to actually RUN Ribfest on 6/17, I will probably run a few times that week to see how I feel. Nothing over 3 miles or hilly. I really did need these first 2 weeks off from running completely to get the pain under control and, although I didn't know it at the time, give myself the mental break. If after Ribfest, I'm feeling too much pain, then I will take the following week off, too. I've already allowed myself to let this summer be a wash. It's really ok. If it means coming back feeling better then it's worth it. In the meantime, I'll continue being as hyperactive as my schedule will allow.

I ended the weekend with my usual predictability...


For some reason, I love this song even though it kind of creeps me out at the same time...