Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 Mount Washington Road Race

View from the run back down the Mt Washington Auto Road
I'll be honest that I'm so not motivated to write this post. Not only did my race suck, but I'm going on day 5 of so little sleep right now that I can barely think. But I'll give it a go. This might be a 2-3 day work in progress, though. Haha.

My race goal for the week was Mount Washington Road Race which always leads to disappointment and leaves me mentally defeated for a few weeks. This year is no exception, but I'm actually ok with it now and doing pretty well at letting it go. For days, I thought I had run my second worst time at the race, but after looking at my results, I realized I was totally wrong. I've run Mt Washington six times now. This race ended up being my third fastest! So right in the middle. Still a terrible time, and the most difficult finish for me of all six! My worst time up the wall even! But the weather was tricky, and even my conservative, well-run first half did not make up for my disastrous last 2.4 miles. I've never felt that awful at the end than I did this year. But, anyway, more of a detailed report will be further on in this post. I feel scatterbrained so this could be kind of all over the place.

My training goal for the week was to keep elevation gain fairly low and the miles somewhat low since I had a mountain to run up AND a 5-mile race the day after that. Total mileage overall was still right where I like it to be with 54.3 miles. 8h 16m of run time and 8,025ft of elevation gain. I even took TWO zero days!! So that's pretty good on only 5 days of running.

Monday, June 12, 2017- Usual zero day from running. I've actually been enjoying these rest days. I feel like I need them. I guess if I didn't have to work a 24 hour shift like I used to, I would still run on Mondays, but the early morning just isn't happening for me. Call me lazy or whatever, but I just mentally can't do it. Plus, I was still pretty sore from Ascutney. Work was busy-ish since we had to take extra calls as the paramedic truck, but we still lucked out and slept all night. With it being so hot out and in the garage, I didn't walk at all. I would have been soaked in sweat and didn't want to be that gross.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017- Once again opted out of a track workout since I was doing Whitaker Woods Summer Series in the evening. Instead, I drove from work down to the Freedom Town Forest with a plan to run on to Lead Mine Rd in Madison and on some of the trails off of that, run back to Freedom and do a loop over Mary's Mountain. I thought it would be about 10 miles total, which was all I wanted to do today. I ended up skipping the Mary's Mountain loop when I realized that just an out-and-back was going to be just over 10.

I parked at the Trout Pond gate by Danforth Bay and ran up the road which is some decent climbing. The temperature was already starting to climb, and I felt pretty stiff and sore in my injury area and lower hamstrings. Hmmm. I followed the connector trail over to Lead Mine having completely forgotten how long and downhill it was...meaning I had to run back up it. On Lead Mine, I took two horseshoe type trails in the Goodwin Town Forest. One around a pond and the next one up a decent climb before coming back down to Lead Mine on which I stayed for the run back the way I came. Back up that connector trail to the turnoff for the Mary's Mt loop, but realized 8 miles on my watch here would mean just over 10 miles total if I skipped the loop and just ran straight back to my car. I was so hot and dehydrated by this point, that I'm not even sure I would have done Mary's Mt anyway. The run back is mostly downhill, but it was a struggle in the increasing heat. 10.8 miles total in 1:38:03. 1,339ft of elevation gain. This is my idea of less elevation gain. Haha.

Map of my run, in case my description was confusing. Haha.
It was hot out quickly, so John and I headed to Conway Lake midday. The water had warmed up significantly in just two days, so I was able to get in and cool off a couple of times. I brought another stealth beer along. You need a cold beer on a hot day at the lake. You just do. John once again swam for HOURS. He loves it so much, and I love watching him in the water.

John in the background
 I was kind of a dummy. I had put on sunscreen, but waited way too long to reapply and got completely charred. Notice my stomach fold in the picture below...

This is what happens when you get burned and have a stomach fold haha....

Yeah, major ouch. I was burned all over! This would turn out to be a good thing by the end of the week, though, since I only tan after one burn, and didn't get burned at Mt Washington like everyone else except slightly on my face.

John was exhausted and starving when we left the lake, and we had time to stop at Jalisco before Whitaker Woods for Taco Tuesday. I got us 5 tacos and chips and salsa. I was starving, too, and stuffed my face with chips and salsa. I knew this wasn't the best idea 45 minutes before Whitaker, but at least I had enough will power not to eat a taco or two or three. Haha.

Once we got to Whitaker Woods, I did the usual socializing then went out for a short warm up. Ow. I could barely run. SO STIFF. I ran just enough to get to the starting line with some ability to run a quick pace. It was really hot and humid out, so I planned to run about a minute less than the week before. Last week was too fast. This week, I really wanted it to be quick but not pushing too hard. Some woman I'd never seen before lined up next to me at the start. Hmm. She either didn't know who I was or she was fast. She looked fast! Sure enough, she shot out with the lead guys and was far in front of me quickly. Dammit. Just when I don't want to race someone has to shoot out ahead of me at the start. Ugh. So I ran fast all the way around the ball field before I finally passed her just as we entered the woods. Fortunately, she fell WAY off immediately. Phew! I was able to slow down into the pace I wanted for the rest of the run and held it there the whole way. I was running just behind a guy who had never run the course before. I knew this because he started to go the wrong way at one point,so I called him back and then told him about the course markers which are these wooden white arrows placed on trees. Since I know the course by heart, I haven't paid much attention to the arrows in years, and after telling him about them, I decided to pay attention to them all. Funny! Barely any of them are visible now! Haha. Some have moved so high up on growing trees that they're easy to miss, and others were completely blocked by branches and leaves. I felt pretty stupid for telling him about the markers since he couldn't even see them now. Haha. Fortunately,  I ran right behind him for the rest of the race so I was able to guide him in a few tricky spots. I ended up finishing first woman again in 21:44, about 50 seconds slower than the week before. Pretty much right at my goal. A lot of people were complaining about the heat after, but I actually thought it was pleasant. A strong breeze after mile 2 felt great. After talking to Paul Bazanchuk awhile, I went back to the car to find John sound asleep. He was too beat to do ninja class so we skipped it. Went by the store then home.

I got in my upper body and abs workout, showered, then snuggled with Phoenix on the couch for awhile before going to bed. I was exhausted. 14.4 miles for the day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017- Woke up to my 4:15am alarm. The first movement of my legs was met with extreme soreness so I reset the alarm for 5:30am. There would be no run today. Work was super slow. I got a 2.1 mile walk in early since I didn't run. Didn't get our first and only 911 until after 9pm. Seems like Conway Ambulance was getting all of the crazy shit today. Nothing else to write about for Wednesday.

Thursday, June 15, 2017- I love Thursdays! My day was pretty full so I was kind of in a hurry to get my run in, but I stopped at home first to unload a kayak a friend is letting John borrow and see if my new Hoka One One Speedgoat 2s had arrived. I got word that the Team was getting them and that some people had gotten them on Wednesday. Sure enough, they were there! So I quickly unloaded the boat, threw the shoes in the car and then headed down the Kanc to run the Sawyer Pond Trail to the pond and back. I figured that would be a good trail to test the shoes out on since it's not highly technical. The shoes' thick sole had me skeptical right off the bat, so I didn't want to test them out on rough terrain. The tread looked pretty tight and the little bit I was able to test that out confirmed it was solid.

I changed clothes then set out on the run. Not even .1 miles in, you are met with a ford of the Swift River. These shoes were getting broken in immediately. Haha.

Fording the Swift River
This trail isn't flat, but it's more of a long gradual climb up and then down to the pond. Nothing crazy. A good trail run for a day you want to take it somewhat easy. This end of the trail is very poorly maintained, however, so there were a lot of new blow downs and a large section of trail is basically all mud. By the time I got to the pond around mile 4.4, the shoes were soaked and muddy. I can't say I was in love with them. I didn't like not being able to feel the ground very well, but they were alright on the way out. Felt bulky.

At the pond. 

Tread is good

Me at the pond

The filthy shelter
Unfortunately, it was mosquito hell by the pond, so I only took a few pictures then ran back. After running through the first section of mud, I started to feel like the shoes were very unstable. My feet were wobbling all over the place, and the soles felt squishy like foam. I was worried I was going to sprain an ankle in these things. I wasn't impressed at all. They're super comfortable, but for me, I'm unsure of their stability. However, Jack Pilla swears by them, and, well, Karl Meltzer wore them for his Appalachian Trail speed record, and the AT is no joke when it comes to technical terrain. So I've decided to keep trying them out. I gave up on the first Hoka trail shoes I bought in 2012 after one trail run, and I probably should have given them more of a chance, so I will this time. Still a good run as always. Slow, but good. 8.8 miles in 1:29:47. 1200ft of gain. I'm not into the speed running on trails right now since I'm killing myself enough with the racing, but I really need to do something to increase my uphill power. I had it in the Fall of 2014, but I was pushing every single mountain and trail run. I was also in zero pain and weighed nearly 10 pounds less than I do now. I think I'm going to get enough training through the summer, then after the Fall road stuff, I'm going to cut back on running and maybe add in 2-3 days a week of some sort of leg training for power. But we'll see.

I rushed home so that I could get in some kayaking on Silver Lake before I had to head down to Dover for my free massage. The weather was unbelievable. Perfect! It felt great to get an actual paddle in, unlike the week before. I still had time for a kayak beer and made it 2 miles out before I had to turn around.

Water was FILLED with pollen.
I came home, showered, then drove to Dover for my massage at Integrated Massage with Meagan. I was pretty excited to have a more therapeutic massage and had her focus mainly on my neck and back since I didn't want to mess up my legs for the double race weekend. It was fantastic, and while I'm planning to stick with Tina Carr for my regular massage, I can still recommend Integrated Massage, as well, for regular massage. I'd go back if I could afford both!

After my massage, I decided to check some places in Portsmouh that have been on my list for awhile. First stop was Liars Bench Brewery. The atmosphere was cool, and I liked the open set up of the place. Too bad the beer was AWFUL. I don't know how the place was packed because the beer seriously sucked. I had planned to eat there, as well, but the food menu did not look appealing at all, and it was highly overpriced. Looking at the beer list, there were only 3 I had any interest in trying. A grisette, a German ale and an IPA. Blech. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

So it was off to WHYM Beer Cafe which was decent enough. The draft list was ok, and I decided to try the 14th Star Maple Stout on draft. I'd had it from a can before and wasn't impressed, but I have to admit it was much better on tap. The atmosphere here was ok. They had a record player playing Bruce Springsteen, and the food was good. I probably won't come back, but that's only because I'm not down there that often, and there are better places to go.

I went home from there for my usual Thursday night on the couch. Pretty good day, but it was almost too much. I'm always going and going. Sometimes I just need to slow down.

Friday, June 16, 2017- Woke up to rain, so I knew kayaking was out. Boo. I decided to do a run on the Mountain Division Trail since it's nearly flat and Mt Washington was the next day. I only planned 6 miles, and I'm glad I stuck to that because I ran this way too fast. It was so dumb, and other than the two 5Ks and Doyle's, it's been 3 months since I've run hard on the road. So when I say I haven't done any road training, I'm serious. I've had to get on the road once or twice a week, but I've kept it super slow on purpose. But here I am on the MDT busting it out. And it actually felt easy. Close to negative splits for the 6 miles. The last mile has the most uphill, so I was just a tad slower than the 5th mile.

I really hoped this idiotic run didn't mess up my races, but at the same time, I was glad I did it because it gave me some hope that RibFest wouldn't be a total disaster on Sunday. I had to hope this didn't mess me up for Mt Washington, but I didn't think it would.

I ran a bunch errands before heading home, I ended up running into Simon Gutierrez and Brandy Erholz at the grocery store and chatted with them briefly. As soon as I got home, I showered, then John, the dogs and I drove up to Mt Washington to pick up my race bib. I needed to meet up with Scott Mason to give him my runner tag and bag of clothes. I was expecting it to be cool and cloudy at the top so I packed extra warm gear. Hahaha. Little did I know. I talked to a few people I knew and took the dogs out while I waited for Scott. I ended up busting in the wet grass when I saw Spot about to take a poo in the field. I sprinted over to her to stop her and slid right on my ass. Hahaha. It was funny, and I was soaked.

The race tent. I was psyched about the cloudy forecast!

Walking the dogs
Tom Hooper showed up and followed us back into town and over to Fryeburg with the Six03 crowd for dinner and beer at the 302 Smokehouse. This was my suggestion since it was so close to where the were staying in Center Conway, and it's not a boring tourist trap like every place in the North Conway. Plus, they have a better beer selection than anywhere else besides the Moat. I spent most of the time talking to Sarah Canney and Roxanne Serrecchia, had two beers and ate way too much food. John nearly his entire meal which he never does. That's a sign that the food is good here. I always recommend it to people if you don't want the generic North Conway restaurants.

John hates selfies so he made a bored face.

I was pretty tired by the time we got home so I took the dogs out, packed up my bag for the race (including jeans and a sweater. Oh the laughter!) then went to bed.

Saturday, June 17, 2017- Mount Washington Road Race-

Well, you already know how this is going to go since I already said it was a bad race. Haha. But I'll start at the beginning anyway. As with the last 2 years, I dropped John off with his grandparents for the day around 6am. I thought I'd hit traffic on the way into the parking area like last year, but there was none! That meant I had 2 hours until race time. I grabbed a bag of Six03 gear that Tom Hooper had brought me, including a white Six03 singlet I was planning to wear for the race, then went back to the car to lie down. Michael Narcisi would end up joining me for the next hour. I rested my eyes as we talked about stuff, then next thing I knew it was 8am. Time to get moving. As usual, I ran a 2 mile warm up on the Great Glen trails. As I was heading back, I ran into Brandy again and we talked for awhile. She's been working hard to get back after having her last child, and I'd say she did pretty well since she would come in 2nd woman! I ran back to my car and changed into my much thinner and cooler CMS singlet. I was surprised at how hot I was in the Six03 singlet. The clouds were gone, and it felt hot and muggy! Oh no!! Just what I dreaded! Ugh. So goal #1, don't go out too fast. I had 2015 splits on my arm which I knew was a long shot, but I had hope. Those hopes diminished when I got into the start and lined up next Tina Marie Poulin. It was so warm! I felt like I lined up well based on who I was around, and I was happy with that. I have to admit I was having a bit of anxiety about the start after last year's mishap when I was tripped and knocked down. I was so worried it would happen again. I just wanted to get this started and over with. I really do hate this race. Haha.

Finally, we were off, and I made it in the clear without falling. Phew. Down the hill we went and then the grueling climb began. I went off at a comfortable pace trying not follow anyone. I felt good and hit the first mile in 9:48. I was really happy with this. Far slower than 2015, but it was what I was shooting for. I actually felt great for the next two miles. The temperature wasn't too warm, but the humidity below treeline was very noticeable. I hit the next two splits in 11:29 and 12:39, which were also much slower than 2015, so I knew at this point a sub-1:30 wasn't happening. Just before the halfway point, Mary Baldwin passed me. I had been with her the first 1.5 miles, so I decided to try to hang on to her for as long as possible. I hit halfway in 43:31 and was happy with that. I was hoping I could run something close to last year (1;31) since we were getting close to treeline and the cool breeze would be a nice boost. I noticed just before the half that I was bone dry. Hmm. This wasn't good. I needed cool air like now!

I don't know which year it was, but just like that year, we hit treeline, and there was NOTHING. No breeze, only fucking hot air. Oh boy. This was going downhill (I wished!) fast! I still felt pretty good, though as we approached the dirt section. Normally, I start power hiking here, but I was still feeling good and kept running right behind Mary. As usual, though, Dawn Roberts passed me here. She is so strong on these uphill climbs! I had a feeling a whole group of women was behind me getting ready to pass, but none were. This was weird. Just after mile 5, we hit a steep section, and I was all of a sudden completely drained. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. I went from feeling good to completely depleted...and still 2.5 miles to go!! My biggest mistake was right at this moment. The gel in my pocket would have probably given me the boost I needed. I take one at this point every year, but my energy level was so low and my mouth so dry that I couldn't do it. I'm kicking myself now. Had I known these were the weather conditions we were going to have, I would have brought Salt Stick Chews instead! I was expecting clouds and cool temps. It wasn't supposed to be like this!! I was so hot! Crazy that I could have helped my race by doing this one thing, but my fried brain and parched mouth stopped me. I was still able to hang on to Mary, and we passed a woman who was walking. I ended up right behind Ernie Brake and Bruce Christiansen for the rest of the way. Just like them, I was walking A LOT the last two miles. I had never felt so drained here!!! At the mile 6 water stop, I grabbed two cups of water. One for my head and the other I stopped to chug. This is where I lost Mary. But why wasn't I getting passed?! Well, it turned out that everyone in close proximity was feeling just as shitty as I was. Around 6.5 I caught back up with Ernie. He tried to talk to me, but I could hardly answer back. My legs were in such pain. Tina Marie Poulin finally passed me here. I had expected her a lot sooner.

By the last half mile, I had nothing left. I've always had extra to give here and smiled the whole way. This would not be like that. I ran my slowest finish ever. I couldn't even smile for Scott Mason's camera. My legs could barely lift off the ground. All of the photos capture my pain. This wasn't like me. Something wasn't right. I just didn't know what.

No smile for Scott!

No smile for Gianina Lindsey
I ran my slowest time up the wall ever. My legs just wouldn't move. I hurt so much! I didn't even want to see the clock, but there it was. I said out loud something like, "Oh that sucks." I couldn't believe I had run it that slowly. Came through in 1:33:33 (even though the pics show it was clearly 1:33:31). For some reason, I was one of the few people who got a white blanket which I was psyched about LATER. In the moment I was so hot, and the guy tried to put it around me as I was saying, "No, no, no, no, no...." I pushed it off me, and then he put it around me again! Oh my god. I was about to die. I was SO HOT. So I ripped it off and just carried it. I could barely walk. I could barely lift my arm to grab my metal. I hurt every year at the finish, but never like this. I almost started hyperventilating, so I stopped to lean over and got my breath under control. People I know started coming at me to talk. I just needed water and to catch my breath! I felt like shit and was SO disappointed in my time AGAIN! That whole day, I thought this was my 2nd worst finish time. I talked with a lot of people and started to learn I wasn't alone. Nearly everyone I talked to had had a bad day or at least one of their worst times, so I started to feel better that I wasn't alone. I also noticed this was the first time ever that I was really warm at the top. I didn't need the blanket. My singlet was soaked in sweat, but I still felt warm. There was no wind whatsoever. It was fucking hot. Full Results

Wall of pain. Photo by Joe Viger
Michael Narcisi and I went in search of our separate cars for our bag of clothes. I needed dry clothes since mine were soaked so I found Scott Mason's car and just changed into shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I didn't a jacket for the first time. Mikey and I me back up and then found Apryl Sabadosa who wanted to run down with us. This felt like the longest run down ever. We were visibly sweating the whole and totally drained by the time we got to the bottom. That's when I knew that the weather had been a huge factor in my race.

Me, Apryl and Mkey

Funny pic Mikey took

Apryl and Mikey

Mikey and Apryl

Of course the Valley stayed cloudy

I went to my car, changed clothes and then hit the Six03 tent. Grabbed my turkey dinner and Foolproof  Grotto then sat my ass in my chair for awhile. Over 17 miles for the day, and I was beat. I talked to Hilary McCloy and Andy Drummond for awhile then Tina joined us. She's super nice, and it was cool to hang out with her for awhile. I was shocked to learned I was 3rd in my age group and squeezed in a top 20 finish, just barely, since I was 19th. As disappointed as I was in my race, this boosted my mood a little bit. By the end of the day, I was feeling ok about it all. Mt Washington won again, but there's always next year! It hurts just thinking about it.

I hadn't even gotten through a second beer when everyone started to leave and the Six03 tent was taken down. WTF. I was kind of bummed that everyone was leaving so early, but it was probably better since I had to give Tina a ride to Jackson and then pick up John and take him to a sleepover.

I felt like I hardly saw John all weekend, and he was about to leave for Costa Rica for a week, so it made me sad to see him leave for the night, but I knew he was going to have so much fun with his friend. We had time to swing by the house and then I drove him to his friend's.

Since they were close to Eaton Center, I decided to walk the dogs on the Rock Edge Trail. I've driven by it so many times, but never stopped, so it was finally time. It ended up being a pretty nice hike up to a view of the mountains and Crystal Lake. If it hadn't been bug hell, I would have stayed up there longer.

I went home, ate a whole pizza and drank more beer. Nevermind, the Grand Prix 5-mile race was in the morning. Ugh. I had no idea how I was going to pull this one off, but I really didn't care. I had no goal whatsoever. I said I was just showing up for my "participation medal". Haha. So Shit Show Weekend would continue.....

New song to me since yesterday, but I've listened to it at least 50 times since then. No lie! Something about this song is striking a chord. I sang it during my entire run. It's made rethink things today, and I gave less of my attention to other people. I don't really know what it was, but I'm questioning some of the things in my life and wondering if I'm falling into the trap of habit and making myself feel stuck. Why don't I seek out new people who actually might appreciate me? Why am I not making more of an effort to change my financial situation? Why do I feel so stuck in so many ways?! Ugh. I don't know. But, well, here's the song that I know none of you will listen to, but whatever. It sounds like it's going to be cheesy at first, but then it just captures your attention.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017 Ascutney Hill Climb

Summer bridge jumping is finally back!
Not a super exciting week, but I did a lot of trail/mountain runs and took on the Ascutney Hill Climb on Saturday. I hit my most elevation gain in a week for the year this week at 10,000ft exactly. 50 miles for the week which is where I want to be. And 9 hours and 1 minute (had I just run a 1 minute faster at Ascutney, I would have had 3 even numbers!) of run time. The weather was crazy this week from mid-40s and pouring rain to 95ish degrees by the end. Sad to say, I didn't take a lot of photos during my runs...except maybe one? Haha. Still plenty of photos for the week, though. I certainly wouldn't want to disappoint!

My hamstrings and plantar fasciitis were, both, a little "wishy washy" during the week. Sometimes fine and sometimes really sore. And I'm talking about the "injured" part of my high hamstrings. I'm a bit of a mess still. I should probably go see Tina again sooner rather than later for a deep tissue massage, but I wanted to use up the free massage I won at that 5K in Dover on Mother's Day first. It will just be therapeutic, but I actually need that, too. Starting to feel a little tense and stressed again, and the lack of human contact probably doesn't help. A good therapeutic massage is great for the psyche and somewhat makes up for that lack of human touch, even though there's nothing personal behind it. What the Lack of Affection Can Do to You is a short article about this. I wouldn't say it's nearly as bad for me as this suggests, but I do fall along those lines a bit. So, basically, what I mean by all of this is that I think the therapeutic massage will actually be more beneficial to me right now than the deep tissue, even though I could definitely use both. Haha.

Monday, June 5, 2017- Blah, blah, blah. Same as always. Pretty slow day for the 24 hours of work. Walked 2 miles on the treadmill. Attempts to avoid getting my ear talked off for an extended period of time failed. That's my Monday. Haha.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017- Woke up to pouring rain and temps in the 40s. Commented to a friend that my track workout was going to suck. He suggested I do something easy instead since I was already planning to run the first Whitaker Woods Summer Series race that evening at a tempo pace. Hmm. Why didn't I think of that? Haha. Well, there is an answer: because I really have no idea what I'm doing. I just do stuff.

I was reminded the day before as we drove down 25 in Effingham of how I've been wanting to go back and run Green Mountain. I knew I wouldn't have time to do all the three trails down and up, but I couldn't definitely fit in two of them. So I headed to the start of the Dearborn Trail after getting off of work at 7am. It was pouring rain from start to finish. I ran up the Dearborn Trail to the summit. The new fire tower is pretty nice! I didn't go up it, though. It was windy, rainy and probably around 40 degrees up there. I made the decision to do the Highwatch Trail down to its base next. I remembered this being steep, but my memory was slightly inaccurate. Only about .3 of it near the top was steep. The rest was at an easier grade. When I got to the bottom, I turned around and ran back up to the summit. Had I had the time, I would have gone all the way down to the bottom of the Fire Warden's Trail, but I didn't. Instead, I opted to check out the Hanson Top Trail just off the Fire Warden's Trail below the summit. I'd never done this one before. It was all single track and short to what would be an overlook...if I wasn't in a cloud. Haha. By the time I got back to the summit, the tops of my hands and arms were numb from the cold. I had a jacket with me, but it would have just gotten soaked and not really helped my hands much so I didn't put it on. I ran back down the Dearborn Trail to my car. 6.1 miles total in 1:33:56 with 2,708ft of elevation gain. This is a fun run to do, so I'll try to get back and do all the 3 trails in one run again.

I was happy I brought dry clothes, but since the air conditioner/heat blower in my car just broke, the dry clothes did nothing for my numb hands. I was so cold to the core after cooling down that most of my drive home was freezing. I have no idea what I'm going to do next winter without heat in my car. Not having a/c sucks, but it's somewhat bearable. Heat won't be. Maybe I should start a GoFundMe account. Hahaha. I was so happy to be in warmth when I got home. I had to make coffee old school with my French Press since my Bunn coffee maker broke the week before, but I didn't mind. I like the French Press. Unlike my car, though, the Bunn was still under warranty so they shipped me out a new one for free.

My large French Press
John and I didn't really do much during the day in the rain. I got in my upper body and abs workout, and then went to Whitaker Woods for the first race of the Summer Series (a 5K trail race). I only did one of these last year, so I'm hoping to hit more this time around. I know I'll miss the 3rd and 4th ones, but maybe I can make the rest. It was still pouring rain when I got there. Most people were lined up under a tent staying dry. I warmed up just under a mile and then joined them over there. It was nice to see all of the familiar local faces. Terry Ballou was there. I really like talking to Terry since she's super competitive like me, but also just a cool person. Looking around, she would be my closest competitor tonight...which unfortunately meant my plan not to run hard would go out the window. Haha. I stopped racing these a few years ago (except that one Tuesday in 2015 when the high school-aged xc girls showed up and the redhead tried to beat me haha). I still run fast-ish, but never race pace. Terry pushed me hard off the line on this one so I ended up running the first mile super fast. It wasn't quite all-out race pace, but it was close. My legs were junk from Cranmore so the 2nd mile was pretty slow on the climbs. The 3rd mile was pretty fast again. I finished around 20:55 maybe? 1st woman. A tad over a minute than my fastest there. And really, just a tad too fast. These mid-week races are just too much for me now that I race every weekend, so I really don't like going all out in them anymore. I prefer to do a tempo pace instead (even though I don't know what my "tempo pace" is; I'm just trying to sound runner knowledgeable).

For the second time today, I was drenched so I changed clothes again. Between me being soaked and having John and all three dogs in the car, the windows were completely steamed up. No defrost made it difficult to drive so I had to keep wiping the windows. Haha. No idea how this is going to work without air in my car. John and I made a quick stop at the store and then on to his ninja class. I took the dogs on a very short walk in the rain, then came back to watch John's class. It was Coach Carl's last day. I'm still so bummed about that.

Some dog pics from the day...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017- I woke up at 4:15am to run and felt really banged up. I did the same loop around Conway as the week before, just backwards. I was insanely sore in the hamstrings, and the plantar fasciitis was really bothering me. 4.6 miles was a struggle in 38:48. It was probably from going so hard at Whitaker the night before. I should have just zeroed since I probably needed full on rest more than a shitty, slow run. I need to learn that when the high hamstring tendon thing is flaring up, I really need to just take the day off. These are tendons, not muscles, at play. Big difference (I would heed my own advice today, the following Wednesday).

Work was slow again. Only one call the entire 24 hour shift. I did make it over to John's track practice and got to watch him do the 200m. He's not fast, but he still likes it. He moved across the field to do the shot put where I couldn't see him well, so I left. I didn't want my ambulance partner to have to sit there for the whole hour in the ambulance. John told me he did the 400m later, though, so I'm sad I missed it.

John running the 200
I got in a walk not too long after we got back. Only a mile, but my foot was really hurting.

Thursday, June 8, 2017- Woke up to beautiful weather. I had to get my run in by 9:30am so I opted to run the Green Hills again right from work. I did almost the same run as last time (maybe month or so ago). I only modified the trails I chose for the way back. The last time, I felt really out of mountain running shape and was feeling super nervous about Cranmore. I felt like I was in significantly better shape than that last run, so that's a good sign for all of my upcoming mountain runs (well, Ascutney aside haha). The run ended up being about .6 miles longer and not really that much faster than the previous time, but the fact that I felt so much better made me feel good about where I am right now. The loop I did started from Redstone and up through the Outer Limits around the backside of Rattlesnake Mt. Up to the ridge to hit Middle and Peaked Mts, then down the Peaked Mt Trail. I veered off from my previous route about half way down to hit the Black Cap Connector Trail where I ran down close to the Thompson Rd trailhead to hit Pillar-to-Pond for my run back. 10.6 miles total in 2:02:10. 2,144ft of elevation gain. I actually felt really good on this run.

I have to climb on the tree to reach the sign.
The reason I had to rush home was because I was taking John for a tour of The Community School in Tamworth. Ever since I first heard of this place, I thought it would be a good place for John. The idea of sending him to school makes me want to cry, but I think this place would be wonderful for him. He, on the other hand, was very apprehensive about it, so I wasn't holding out much hope. I just had to make sure I didn't push him into any decisions. I wanted it to be all his. We arrived about a half hour before the weekly community lunch to meet with the director, then take a tour with some of the kids. The place had a great vibe. Nothing seemed off to me. The kids were all extremely happy since it was the last day of school, which helped give off a good vibe. The kids we really talked to said they loved the school. As we toured it, I felt like I was at a combination of my old summer camp and the private school I went to in Athens, GA. So much openness and freedom, and the kids all had daily chores. The classes we walked through were all at one table facing each other. Even though my school was extremely strict academically, it was run very similarly. I loved it. John on the other hand was very standoffish at first. I think he had ideas of what school is in his head, but I could slowly see that going away. We walked outside to check out the farm animals and the grounds, then it was time for lunch. We sat with a student and one of the teachers who all spoke to John. That was one of the things I liked about this place. They didn't only speak to me as the parent. All questions were focused on John. Parent-centric is not how a school should be, and that's why I backed out of my parent-only visit with the Waldorf School. That was a big no-no in my book.

John really began to open up as we listened to one of the students tell us what she loved about the school. And the lunch was phenomenal. John said it was the best salad he's ever had and ate every bite. This kid does not like vegetables. His whole demeanor changed, and I watched him open up and become comfortable there. A boy from his homeschool group at Tin Mountain showed up with his family for the lunch which made John really excited. He went over to say hi to him, and when he came back, he said his friend was going to the Community School next year and that he wanted to go there, too! I'll be honest that I was completely taken aback. I didn't expect him to want to go, but he said, "I definitely want to go here." As we finished our lunch, we read through the application which has questions for the parents and the kids. I read all of the questions to him, even the parent ones, so he could start thinking about answers. We weren't filling it out at that moment, but I wanted him to be familiar with it.

The school is an old farm house

John at lunch

View from the farm area

Edible flower in our salad
We left after lunch to head home. John seemed pretty excited about the school, and I'm excited for him, even though, like I said, him going to school makes me want to cry. Haha. 6th grade will be his first day of school ever! Verklempt!! I was a little disappointed that Bryan wouldn't join us for the visit, but we didn't know this was the last day of classes. He was willing to visit at another time if John wanted to go there. He can still visit, but it won't be the same without the kids being there. I don't think he's thrilled that John wants to go, but he's following through on letting John choose. I'm a little nervous his attitude might affect John's decision, but hopefully not.

Since John is normally with Bryan on Thursdays, he came back to pick him up and I headed down to Chocorua Lake to meet an old friend from my WEMT class who was in town. He was going to join me for a paddle. I was laughing when we got out there since his kayak was a tiny river kayak. He was struggling to paddle that thing through the water. I barely paddled the whole way. While it was nice having company and catching up, I was a little bummed not to get in a good paddle. But it was ok. I don't hang out with people often other than post-races, so it was good.

Chris struggling to keep up with my sea kayak. Haha

I had a Focal Banger while Chris drank 2 Miller High Life's. Haha.
We stopped at my house so I could change clothes, then Chris drove us to May Kelly's for drinks and dinner. I was surprised how quickly time went by. All of sudden, we were the only two left and closed the place down. Haha. I enjoyed hanging out with Chris. His life is always somewhere completely different every time I see him. He's just moved in with his girlfriend, then the next time, he's engaged to someone else and moving to Connecticut. Two really bad experiences for him. Haha. This time around, though, he seems to have finally found the right person, and they just bought a house together in Asheville, NC, one of my all time favorite cities. After the AT in '98, I was going to move there. That was my plan. I had it all in place, but then I got the job as flight attendant and New England became home. But anyway, I'm super happy for him and hope this one works out. He seems like he's in a good place, and I'm hoping the next time I see him his life is still in the same place.

May Kelly's, with my friend, Jill, behind the bar
Friday, June 9, 2017- I was so tired from the late night that I slept in and then took a long time to get myself out for another run. Had I really cared about how I would do at Ascutney, I would have run a very short run at no elevation, but, nope, I went out to the Moat Mineral Site Trails for an out-and-back up Whitehorse Ledge. I did cut back on the mileage this time by skipping the High School Loop, and I ran at a very easy pace, but the elevation alone on already tired legs probably wasn't the best idea. 8 miles in 1:32:18 and 1,493ft of elevation gain. It was a pretty enjoyable run overall, and, as I ran, I thought about this specific trail network and how awesomely diverse it is. A mountain, a waterfall, brook crossings, forest service road, a giant boulder shaped like a tent, a huge beaver dam, different vegetation and trails. This network really does have it all, and White Mountain NEMBA does an amazing job of maintaining the trails there. In just the last month, all of the signs and bridges were back. I love it out there, and I'm lucky if I ever run into one person. Gem of a place.

I had planned to sneak in a real paddle after, but just as I finished my run under blue sky, the temperature dropped, clouds moved in and the rain started. Haha. I ran some errands instead then went home. I was psyched that my new coffee maker arrived so fast! Yay!

I procrastinated as long as possible by setting up the coffee maker (this one is a little different than your typical home coffee maker) and then got in my upper body and abs workout. Then I set out a plate of cheese and crackers for myself, all fancy like. Haha. I was originally going to take John bowling in Fryeburg, but I really had to mow the lawn. It's hardly been warm, but my yard was a field of tall grass. I knew this job was going to take me a LONG time. Why I decided to do this the day before Ascutney, I don't know, but it was really the only day I felt like I had nothing else to do, and the weather was decent, i.e. not hot as balls. The bugs (black flies and/or mosquitoes) are really bad this year so I put on long sleeves and pants and a hat, cracked open a beer then crossed my fingers the mower would start. It did!

As suspected, this was not an easy job. My yard is all sloped in different ways and directions, and the grass that grows on the top part is so thick that I have to go over every bit of this section TWICE. I went through 1.5 full tanks of gas and had to take 3 5-minute breaks. I made John take the dogs out because I was beat. My hands were red and numb from the mowers vibration. Finally, after 3.5 hours, I was done!! And I'm pretty sure where I started had already grown back by the time I was done. Haha. I'll NEVER understand why anyone plants grass in their yard. Why, people?! Why?! Haha. And why would anyone waste time on yard work unnecessarily? It's awful! Hahaha.

I was SO beat by the time I finished. I'd been on my feet nearly all day. I showered, made us dinner, then sat down for a long time. It was a really early morning the next day for Ascutney.

Saturday, June 10, 2017- Ascutney Hill Climb-

Last year, it was announced that the Ascutney Mountain Run had ended its run forever. Due to this, it was obviously no longer part of the USATF-NE Mountain Running Series. As much as I suck at uphill only road races, I was sad to see this one go. I've never done well here and hardly improved (just like Mt Washington), even though all of my other types of running have significantly improved over the last 3 years, but for some reason, I really liked this race. So,in April, when I caught wind that Brandon Baker of Team Amp was bringing it back to life, I put it on my maybe calendar. My friend, Robin Allen-Burke, was taking over as RD, so it was hard to say no when it came down to deciding between the MANY races over the weekend. I had planned to do Market Square Day originally, but being in the shitty road shape I'm in AND the 10K being my worst distance, I decided against the embarrassment. I really wanted to support There's a Black Fly in my Eye 10-Mile Trail Race at Great Glen so it was hard to choose between the two. One was local, and the other 2.5 hours away. Should have been an easy decision, but Robin offered me a free entry and that sealed the deal. I was also able to offer her a volunteer for the water stop: John! (Little did I know just how badly she would need John's help. She only had 5 volunteers, including John!)

I came into Ascutney (now called the Ascutney Hill Climb) treating it as just a training run for Mt Washington. That didn't mean I wasn't going to go as hard as possible. It just meant that I really didn't care about the outcome. I didn't expect to win since I knew Suzy West would be there, and I assumed Jamie Woolsey would show up, too, and she did. I don't know why no one believes me when I say these types of races are not my strength. Granted had I run it in 2015, I probably would have run it much better than before that and now, but that was my one and done fastest time of my life. That's not happening again. I knew I wouldn't do well there, and I know I won't do well at Mt Washington this weekend. They just aren't my bag. I struggle at that grade and type of run. It's just a fact. I'm ok with it, even though I'm sometimes disappointed at Mt Washington still. For the most part, though, I've accepted it. So, anyway, that was my mindset going into Ascutney. Go hard, but don't worry about it at all.

I was up at 4am which is always a struggle, but with it being light out already, it definitely makes it easier. I wanted to bring all of the dogs along, but it was going to get way too hot in the car for Spot and Chill, so I only brought Phoenix. John crashed the whole way there. It wasn't a bad drive. I got there right around 7:30am. It was so weird to pull into a nearly empty lot. I've never been here when it wasn't in the Mountain Series, so it's always busy. Robin was a little worried since she only had 47 pre-registered, but she would end up with 70 total. Not bad. Still mostly the same people from the Mountain Series showed up, so it might as well have been in the Series. Haha. I'd just seen them all the weekend before, and when we all left, it was, "See you next weekend at Mt Washington!" My running "family".

I checked in then went back to the car to get John up. I made sure he had long pants and his hoody because this is a bad year for black flies. I haven't seen it this bad since 2011. It was a little tough getting John up and out, but when he was ready, I walked him to Robin's car so he could ride up to the water stop. I got in a mile warm up then made my way to the start. It was kind of nice having the smaller crowd for a change. I had written last year's splits on my arm to attempt to run close to that time. I wanted to go out somewhat easy for the first mile, which I never do here. It turned out to be too slow. Jamie and Suzy would put quite a bit of distance on me very quickly. I didn't feel like I was going easy, but I could tell it was probably not the pace I should be running, and sure enough, the first mile was 31 seconds slower than last year. Eeek. Mile 2 is much steeper, so to regain there was not happening. I no longer saw Jamie, and I would only catch glimpses of Suzy. It was great seeing John around mile 1.6. I took the water he handed to me and told him I'd see him later.

John at the water stop in full bug battle gear. Photo by Fred Ross
I felt like I was pushing as hard as I could for mile 2, but around 1.75, I was running along feeling like this was it, this was all I had, when I realized that it wasn't. I just all of a sudden had an a-ha moment! I had just kind of given up mentally and thought that I was going as hard as I could, but all of a sudden, I realized that I could run faster. It was so weird. I even said it to myself. "Wait a second, you can actually run faster than this." So I did. I still hit mile 2 27 seconds slower than last year, but I had only realized towards the end of it that I was mentally holding myself back. I fell into my new pace here and passed the guy who had been right in front of me up to this point. I started catching up to the next guy and finally passed him. And then all of sudden I was gaining on Suzy. I knew that there wasn't enough race left to catch her, but I gained quite a bit on her the last 1.6 miles. (Jamie was long gone!). I was super happy to come through mile 3 13 seconds FASTER than last year. The last .6 ( or .7) is always tough, though, and I lost a little bit of what I had gained only to run it 15 seconds slower than last year. I came through the finish exactly 1 minute slower than last year at 41:59 (last year was 40:59). Full Results

Coming into the finish. All photos by Fred Ross

Look of pain on my face. Heading for water!

Not a great race overall, but I have to admit that I was happy with how I was able to get out of my rut the last 1.6 miles and almost run the same as last year. I NEVER do that with uphill climbs. Once I get stuck in a pace, I struggle and never get out of it. It really took the mental aspect to get out of that rut and realize I did have more in me than I thought. I think the nature of this type of race for me tends to send me into this place mentally where I don't think I have anything left in me and I don't believe I have anything more to give. I think this is where I struggle at Mt Washington, although, it's double the distance of Ascutney so it's much harder to have any push left by the end. Your whole body is tired and in pain so to mentally snap out of a rut will be difficult. I'll do my best to not let the mental defeat win over, though. What I think will help was a wonderful thing that Tim Van Orden posted on Monday on his YouTube page. We went through nearly identical races at Ascutney. I would say he had much more awareness of what was going on his brain than I did, so it was great to listen to what he had to say about it all. It's really long video, but I couldn't help but listen to the whole thing. It was really just an amazing thing to listen to. The way he put it all into words and explained the real meaning of a positive attitude. It seems so mushy positive at first, but as he explains it more and more, you realize how it isn't like that at all. His explanation just wowed me. If you decide to listen to this, listen to the whole thing because it's really not what I expected to hear at first. It's worth listening to all the way through. It's opened my mind a little bit more, and I'm hoping I can use this on Saturday at Mt Washington. Thank you, Tim!

So anyway, back to the race! Haha! Post-race was really enjoyable, except the black flies. They were SO bad. I was glad I packed a jacket in my drop bag, but I should have packed pants, too, I was getting chowed on!! The best relief ended up being the porta potty that was fortunately super clean and a nice break from them. A huge improvement to the previous Ascutney was definitely the Harpoon beer! I had one right away and then later split two with Todd Callahan. Todd's funny and told me I was crazy for putting pictures of myself up on my blog. Haha. Oops! Too late now! :)

Photo by Fred Ross

Me, Freddi Triback, and Donna Smyth

Me with Robin. I realize now that I officially have old lady legs. Boo.

During the awards someone went down to pick up John. I was originally going to run down to him and then walk with him the rest of the way, but Robin said she would get him to the top. I grabbed him some cookies before they were all gone. He was able to sit in Robin's car to get out of the bugs, and then she thankfully drove him down. Walking down with him last year wasn't so much fun. It was LONG. I ran down with Tim, Jamie, Todd and Michael Narcisi. We caught up to Erik Vandendries and his daughter so they joined our group. Jamie and I chatted the whole way down pretty much. It was a nice run. John and Robin had passed us not far from the bottom so he didn't have to wait long for me. We walked to the car. Mikey was nice and brought me over a beer, a tick remover and a natural soda for John. I let Phoenix out then changed clothes. On my way out, I stopped at Matt Howard's car to leave him the USA Mountain Running shirt I had snagged for him the weekend before. I was thanked with a great picture on the beer page that's worth sharing. My pic from my last blog post on the left and his on the right. Too funny not to share. Haha. This isn't the first time I've been copied on the beer page, so that made it even funnier.

Of course, the real reason I go to Ascutney is for the Harpoon Brewery after! Ok, not really, but I do love this place. It holds a special place in my heart from the night before the VT50 in 2015. Even though I ended up DNFing, the time I spent at the brewery the night before is a special, happy memory for me. You can read about my whole experience in my blog post about it. It's a good mix of happy and sad, especially now because I've never gotten back to where I was fitness and speed-wise after that day. VT50 DNF. I just reread that, and it made me cry.

John and I had a great time at the brewery. We played John's version of  "chess". I kept telling him that I didn't think his rules were right, but he insisted they were and of course beat me. Hahaha. It was still fun.

I love bratwurst.

Getting ready to play John's version of giant chess. 
I took the northerly route home to avoid Bike Week traffic in Meredith. I do this every year I run Ascutney. It's almost the same distance time-wise since it's mostly interstate. When we got home, I made John walk up Heavenly Hill with the dogs and me. It was bug hell, and he was walking so slowly. It was also really hot out by this point, so it wasn't the most enjoyable walk. Haha.

Since I missed Thursday night's upper body and abs workout, I did one tonight. I was pretty beat, so it was extra hard for hard for me tonight.

Sunday, June 11, 2017- I tried to get up at 7, then 7:30, then 8. It was close to 8:30 by the time I got out of bed. I guess I needed the sleep! I took my time. Took the dogs out, made John breakfast and drank half a pot of coffee. Why I chose to drink that much coffee right before running is beyond me. It's pretty uncomfortable the entire time. Haha. I was able to enjoy my coffee on the deck with the help of my Thermacell. It was mosquito hell out there, but these things really work. I was glad I remembered to buy replacement parts for it a few weeks ago.

It was getting really hot outside fast, so I ran the dogs (minus Spot, who opted out) up Heavenly Hill. I wanted to get them some exercise before it got crazy hot. 1.3 miles in just over 20 minutes. 489ft of elevation gain. I put the dogs in, changed into road shoes and headed out for a road run. My ass was SO sore from Ascutney. Not my "injury", but genuine real soreness. It actually felt good to be sore since it's such a different type of pain. It's like a good pain. The temps were in the 80s but most of the run wasn't that bad. Just the last 1.5 miles along Rt 16. I only needed to run 6.7 miles to hit 50 for the week so I chose a short Bald Hill/Kancamagus Hwy Loop. The only parts I don't like about this run are the beginning and end on Rt 16, but I love going up Bald Hill and looping back to the Kanc. While the Kanc was crazy busy, there's enough shoulder to get safely away. This did mean that most of my run was on the dirt, though. One guy scared the crap out of me as he drove towards me and all of a sudden veered off the road. He got "What the fuck?!" arms! I couldn't really see through his windshield because of the glare, but I could tell he waved a huge apology wave, so I was good with that. The run wasn't super fast. I wasn't trying to make it super fast. I couldn't have been super fast if I wanted to be. I have a feeling my road fast days are over for awhile. Just hope I can get them back by September when the last half of the Grand Prix starts back up (I'm expecting nothing from myself at Ribfest on Sunday). Would you believe that my run came out to exactly 6.7 miles? That always happens! 51:35. 7:42/mi avg pace which is decent for that run with the long climb at miles 2 and 3. Nearly all of the 498ft of elevation gain is in these two miles. I was happy with it.

With temps getting up in the mid-90s, I decided against the planned bike ride and took John to Storyland instead. I had almost forgot about it, and we have season passes. I knew John would have a blast on the water rides, and he did. I actually haven't seen him have that much fun there in a few years. The place wasn't crowded at all, so there were no lines and we rode a few things back to back. His favorite is Pharoah's Rain. This also happens to be my second least favorite. It gets you soaked! I attempted to soak him with outside guns, but he kept nailing me with water so I would scream and run away. Haha. It was so weird as I watched him run around Pharoah's Rain shooting water at all of the other people. I was looking at a grown kid! In just the last 9 months, he's grown so much! He looks like a big kid. Since there was no line for once at the old cars, I had him drive me around. That was also weird to have him driving me for once; it was great, but then I realized how soon that's going to come for real! I'm all verklempt again!! Haha.

Another water ride where I just spectate. Him getting hit with water.

At one of the Pharoah's Rain water guns

Goofy head on the train

He's driving me!!!!!

That face again!
After we left Storyland, we stopped for ice cream at Trail's End by the scenic vista. On a day like that, you just need ice cream. We sat with a kid from John's aerial class and his mom and grandmother. I'd never met them, but they were nice. Then it was off to our first day at Conway Lake of 2017!

I couldn't believe how long we stayed there! 3 hours! I ended up having to drag John away after 7pm! He was in the water the entire time. He jumped off the bridge a few times, but other than that, he was swimming and swimming and swimming. It was awesome. This is what I've been waiting for for him! Yay! I relaxed on the beach since the water was still too cold for me to get in. I brought the beer Mikey gave me and put it in my stealth beer mug. Haha. It was funny because the beach filled up with a lot of the regulars we see every year. Crazy to see how much the kids have grown every year.

I had to hit the grocery store on the way home so we didn't back until after 8pm! I took the dogs out first thing. My house was super comfortable. It rarely gets too hot in there. I just use fans since I don't care much for air conditioning, except at work where I'm stuck there. I heated up dinner for John then made time for a short upper body and abs workout before showering and sitting down on the couch for an hour. We had a pretty awesome day. I was happy to leave the week like that. Good week overall!

I just heard First Aid Kit's version of "America" by Simon & Garfunkel yesterday. I've been a big fan of First Aid Kit for 3 years now, so I'm surprised I never heard this one. I listened to it while I was walking today, and I was immediately taken back to my mid 20s during my post 9/11 life upheaval when Bryan and I chose to be homeless for 2 years living out west, then thru-hiking the PCT, then moving to Key West, then thru-hiking the AT a second time. It brought a huge smile across my face thinking of that time when I lived in the present and how I had little worries or stress. We had our fights and shitty moments, but most of it was good times. So that's this post's song choice.