Monday, October 15, 2018

2018 Hartford Marathon

New photo on my poster this year.
I have so many mixed emotions over this race this year, and 2 days post-race I'm still all over the place with it. So many reasons to feel happy about my race, yet I still can't help also feeling sad, disappointed and embarrassed at the same time. I know that I "shouldn't" feel any of those last three, but I can't help it. I'm feeling what I'm feeling no matter what. It was emotional just going into it. I was disappointed before I ever even toed the line. I was disappointed when I saw my poster. I felt like a fraud. I was disappointed when I stood on the start line with an elite bib. I didn't belong there today, and I probably never will again. I went into this knowing the outcome. I told anyone who kept saying, "You'll do great!" that, no, I won't. Why can't people just accept that you know and stop telling you you're going to do well? I know they mean well, but it just sucks that no one believed me when my token response was, "I'll be lucky to break 3:10." Well, guess who just barely broke 3:10? This girl! I guess it confuses people when I can go out and do well in trail/mountain races, but it's the speed on the roads that I can't do. And if you compare my trail/mountain stuff prior to this injury, I'm significantly slower.

I know myself. I knew what I was(n't) capable of. I didn't do one bit of road marathon training for this. Not one long road run (I don't consider one 14 mile road run a long run). And why didn't I do them? Because I'm injured. Could I have pulled off the long road runs, even if at a slower pace? Sure. But, that mostly likely would have meant a repeat of Vermont City with a DNF. There was absolutely no chance that I was going to DNF at Hartford (even though the thought did cross mind halfway haha). I had to make a choice. Either DNS/DNF or go in less than half-assed and finish the fucking race. I chose the latter, even though I knew eyes were on me and the talk behind my back would ensue. The worst part is what's going on in my own head.

It's a struggle to know I should be ecstatic to run a 3:09:23 on no training and with an injury. A 3:09 is a good time! But for me, it isn't. It's shit. But I suppose it IS good if you think of my circumstances. It wasn't like the 2014 Boston Marathon when I ran a PR without any training either. That was more just a choice to be lazy. This time, I was injured. It was the reason I couldn't train. I could have saved face and gone with a DNS, but instead I decided to put myself out there and risk the embarrassment and disappointment. I wanted to be there. I wanted to experience what will probably be my last New England's Finest invite. I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish the marathon this time. Writing this is actually bringing me to tears for the first time since the race. I didn't realize until now just how emotional this would make me. Wow. I was actually perfectly fine after the race, but I guess it's taken a bit to process.

I haven't actually broken my training down since my Vermont City DNF and the two weeks off, so I'm going to do that now.

Week starting June 11, 2018 and ending October 7, 2018

Week 1- 27.4 miles
Week 2- 21.9 miles
Week 3- 29.2 miles
Week 4- 37.1 miles
Week 5- 35.9 miles
Week 6- 24.2 miles
Week 7- 44.8 miles
Week 8- 36.6 miles
Week 9- 49.9 miles
Week 10- 43.8 miles
Week 11- 35.6 miles
Week 12- 45.3 miles
Week 13- 51.4 miles
Week 14- 31.3 miles
Week 15- 59 miles (Highest Mileage week!)
Week 16- 39.4 miles
Week 17- 9.6 miles

Number of ROAD runs 10 miles or more

Eight!!! Over 17 weeks.
10, 10.3, 11, 10, 11.2, 13, 11, 14

The teary eyes are dry. Now, I'm laughing! Haha. Wow. That is NOT marathon training. That's not even half marathon training. That's the training of a casual runner! Makes feel a little better at least. Granted, I've never been a high mileage runner, but I was generally in the 50-65ish mile range when I trained for my 2:55 marathon at VCM in 2015. And I trained HARD. I can't say I have much from those 17 weeks that would qualify as "hard". Haha. I was destined to fail, and I knew it.

Race Recap

John and I left Friday mid-morning to head to Hartford. Minutes before we left, the FedEx guy showed up with my Topo Athletic Shoes that I'd ordered with my 50% discount for being on the National Snowshoe racing team. I opened the box quickly and put them on. They felt good so I decided, "What the hell. I think I'll race in these tomorrow." Haha. It's a little less than a 4 hour drive, but I had to make a few stops on the way so it ended up taking us 4 hours almost exactly. Goal arrival time was 3pm. We pulled into the Red Lion Hotel at 2:57pm. Not bad. The drive had been easy.

This has been the host hotel for the three years I've run this except it had changed from a Radisson to Red Lion in the last year. It's a decent hotel, and everything related to New England's Finest (NEF'ers) is all located there which makes it super easy to navigate. After dropping things in our room, we went down to the Manhattan Room to get my bib, shirts and Elite tags. Ken was there as always. It was great to have that welcoming face again. He's always kept an eye on John in the VIP area for me and is just super nice and supportive. We chatted a bit and then I went back up to the room.

I've already worn both. Haha.
The sadness and disappointment were already kicking in as I looked at my NEF shirt and elite tag. I didn't deserve to be here. We headed down to the XL Center where the expo was since I booked a 20 minute massage. My neck and back had been killing me as usual so I had him work on that and my hips a bit. It felt great. Stupidly, I didn't think about taking photos at my poster beforehand. Now my face was all mushed and my hair a rat's nest from the massage. Oh well. I wasn't really feeling it anyway. I felt like I'd gained 5lbs overnight and felt ugly in general. Just a bunch of self-defeating crap going through my head at the time. Fortunately, my spirits were brightened a bit by running into people I knew, and we all chatted by my poster. Haha. Bruce Christensen, Bob Fitzgerald (Fitz) and Michelle LeBrun. It definitely made things brighter for a moment.

I look horrible.
 I didn't do the usual fun by the poster like the last two years. Instead, I decided to spoof Christin Doneski's poster for her since she couldn't be there.

After that, we went outside and I had John take a photo of the outside poster which had such a glare on it that you couldn't really see it.

I got John a Starbucks drink and then we walked back to the hotel to have the pasta dinner the race puts on for us. John decided to take up Pokemon Go! again while we were here, just like he did in 2016. It was kind of neat to see that he also had a bit of nostalgia here.

The race details said the dinner would start at 5pm so I showed up to find it not ready yet, just like last year. Luckily, Mike and Christina Stadolnik were waiting, too, so I sat with them. They're super nice and I've gotten to know them a bit over the last few years since our paths have crossed some. Morgan Kennedy, Jason Lancaster and this really nice woman named Christine joined us. All of us except Morgan would end up eating together when it finally opened. I was grateful for that since I didn't know many people here this year, and I ended up with such nice people for dinner. When I was done, I made John a plate and brought it back to him in the room.

I spent a bit getting all of my stuff together. My post-race bag and then the 3 choices of outfits for the next day. I was pretty sure I knew what I was going to wear, but I still made the final decision in the morning. I did my usual rituals. Epsom Salt bath. Brought my one pre-race beer in there with me. Unfortunatly, I didn't have my lucky beer, Stoneface Porter, but my substitute was actually better, and no lucky beer was going to help me the next day.

The change of hotel companies meant no more glasses.
We watched TV a bit, and I looked at stuff on my phone just trying to take my mind off the race, but it didn't work. I was really nervous. Poor John was the only one I had to talk to about all of this so he was probably happy when I shut up and went to sleep. I actually slept pretty well. I woke up a few times to check the time thinking I'd overslept every time, but I didn't and went right back to sleep. The 5am alarm was still too early, though.

I got up, made coffee (priorities!) and then picked out the outfit I knew I would. One I would be easily missed in. No team singlet, just a black tank and black skirt and my new Italian visor. I just wanted to hide. I ate the usual Trader Joe's Banana protein muffins; they're very small so I usually eat 3, but I could only stomach 2. This had me a bit worried. Digestion for me with this gut problem is very slow. At night, my abdomen is usually so bloated due to this. I still eat plenty, but anytime I stuff my face with a lot of food, I regret it. I started to worry about my race fuel. Would I actually digest the gels? I never thought of this until now when two small muffins (260 calories) felt like I had just eaten the Country Boy Breakfast (over 1000 calories) at the Cracker Barrel. I was also worried about how my gut would hold up for the race; I had to consider the fact that I might end up in the porta potty. Ugh. Luckily, I didn't have any problems!

I don't normally eat soy, but for some reason these muffins usually do well for me pre-marathon
Once I got John up, we walked down to the park. The skies were darker than usual. The forecast showed 47 degrees and rain starting right around race time and stopping right around my projected finish time. John is so old hat at this that as soon as we walked into the VIP area, he went right to the couches in the VIP trailer. I set my stuff down in our tent, and he was gone. Haha. Found him already lounging. :)

I went right out for a mile warm up not just to loosen up and see how the tendons were but to double check that the Topo shoes would be ok. I'd never even tried this brand, but they felt great and so much better for my plantar fasciitis than the worn down Brooks Pureflow's I had planned to wear. This is NOT the first time I've done this before a marathon. I've also worn brand new shoes I've never tried prior to two Boston Marathons. When I know they're right, I can feel it. These were right. And I wouldn't be wrong! Haha.

The week off from running prior to today hadn't helped on my left side, but fortunately, I at least had zero pain on the right side. It wouldn't last the whole race, but I made to about 16 before I started feeling anything on the right side. Sadly, the left wasn't improved at all. I can say that I have been in less pain than I was at VCM at least, but that really isn't saying much since I was still in pain. I was nervous. Knowing I was about to start a marathon I didn't train for while feeling injury pain did not give me a boost of confidence.

When I came back from the warm up, sprinkling rain began. I was sweating under my sweats, though, so I didn't change my plan for the race. I'd wear light gloves but nothing else warm. I was actually looking forward to this weather as long as the rain wasn't heavy.

I hit the bathroom a few times, changed out of my warm clothes and then walked with the group to the start. I lined up with fellow masters, Shannon Siragusa (who would end up as first master in 2:54:55!!) and Tammy Richards. Tammy was somewhat in my same boat except hers was sudden and unexpected. After a sub-3 marathon at VCM, her training continued perfectly for Hartford until 2 weeks ago when thay dreaded pain in the right hamstring reared its ugly head. I could tell she was really nervous about it, and unfortunately, it would end up getting her early on. She finished the race limping almost the entire way and in a disappointing time for her in 3:05:06.

The rain was a little heavier at this point but would stay a fairly light rain for the whole race. I was cold in the starting corral, but I knew I'd be warm quickly. I stupidly had a high goal of 3:05 in my head at this point. I don't know why, but I thought I could maybe pull it off even though I knew I'd struggle to break 3:10. That 3:05 thought started me off on the wrong foot right at the gun.

I took off with Tammy for the first mile. This mile is always fast, but it actually ended up being a slower split for me than usual, and I enjoyed having Tammy's company for a bit. Shannon was just ahead, but by mile 2 they both started moving ahead. I let them go. Despite the left hamstring tendon pain, I felt good, which also didn't help. I did struggle on every incline with the tendon pain, but otherwise I was good. There was such a disconnect between my mind, my cardiovascular fitness and my legs that I couldn't do anything right today. I stupidly went off like a bat out of hell for the first 4 miles before finally reeling it in a bit for miles 5 and 6. I still hit the 10K mark WAY too fast in 41:57. 6:45 avg pace. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I made an effort to slow down more and did pretty well. I felt super comfortable at the pace I was at. I normally feel worn out a bit at mile 10 on this course for some reason, but today, I felt ok. I was feeling some heaviness in the legs, but it didn't seem unusual. Mile 11 is a bit tough with a few rollers so I was worried when I saw 7:09 for this mile and that's when I had the passing thought of dropping, but there was no way. I was finishing this today. I knew I could. When I hit the halfway mark, I actually thought to myself. Another one of what I just did? Easy. 1:30:48 at the half. I was actually really happy with that. I ran a 1:29:30 for the first half last year so this seemed reasonable.

I felt pretty decent for the next miles. The cool temps and the rain actually felt great. At this point I really thought 3:05 was a possibility. I took my water bottle and gel off the elite fluids table. I could barely stomach the gel. It felt like the first gel was still sitting in my stomach. I honestly don't know if they were any help to me at all. My worry about my digestion issues could very well have been true. It would explain a lot of my fueling problems during some of my runs.

Miles 14 & 15 were a little slow and my legs were starting to feel heavier but I still felt good enough to pick up the pace slightly as we started the gentle incline on mile 16. Mile 17 is the longest "hill" of the course. Considering the hill, I knew I would have a slow mile and then planned to pick it up on the downhill after that. 7:16 for that mile. I was ok with that. I really couldn't do uphill with any speed. I expected to drop back under 7 min for mile 18, but it didn't happen. It was like a sudden punch in the face. At mile 18, my lack of fitness caught up to me. My race would go downhill so fast from this point on. My legs were suddenly nothing but lead, every bit of them. Quads, hamstrings, calves and not to mention the tendon pain that was now bilateral. Hahaha. It was crazy, though, once again, like the 5K and the 10K, I felt like I was taking it too easy. I didn't feel at my max. I was giving everything the legs had, but they were just physically unable to move faster. They were certainly capable of moving slower, though. Every mile from 18 on got slower and slower (except mile 22 which was a second faster than mile 21 haha). Looking at my splits from 22 on, you'd think I hit the wall, but it was only a part of me that hit the wall. 7:31, 7:44, 7:51.... I didn't actually feel bad or tired, believe it or not. It's a good sign that I do have some fitness there at least, but a bad sign when my legs just stopped working.  Bruce Christensen and Todd Brown pedaled up alongside me. I was able to talk to them without difficulty. I gave this awesome cheering guy at a water stop a fist bump. It was such a strange experience. The last two miles were a shuffle, but it was all I had. People were passing me and trying to give me words of encouragement which I hate. I didn't respond. I could have easily, but I didn't need their good jobs and keep it ups. Fuck off. I don't really mean that personally, but it's how I felt every time someone would say something like that to me as they passed.

I kept checking my watch, I couldn't believe it. I wasn't sure I was going to break 3:10! Omg. 5 miles ago, I thought 3:07 was still possible! I saw the finish shoot. I checked my watch. 3:08. I saw Michelle and made a meh face. I turned the corner. I saw Scott Mason. I couldn't smile. I had to focus on breaking 3:10! I saw the clock ahead. I knew I could do it. I came through in 3:09:23. 16th female and 5th master.

I'm usually dead at this point. Like out of breath, needing water, slapping the heat sheet off my back, but I was fine. Ken was helping with the heat sheets so stopped to get one from him. I talked to him for a few seconds before walking into the VIP and made a beeline right for the beer. Normally, I'm still struggling to recover by now, but nope. I didn't feel that normal fatigue. It was so weird. You'd think I didn't leave it all out there on the course, but I did. Part of me did anyway. And that's what I mean by that disconnect. It is so hard to figure out and work around. I feel good and then suddenly my legs just die. Ugh.

I got my beer and went right into the VIP trailer to say hi to John. He was grabbing a plate of food. The food here is awesome, so it's too bad I can't stomach food for a few hours after a marathon. I can never eat it. But John was my actual companion this year so he was entitled to have whatever he wanted in there. (All NEF'ers are allowed a companion who gets free entry into the race and all the VIP perks. This year, I didn't offer it to anyone since I felt like I should use it for John for once instead of basically having two companions like I have the last two years.)

I went back to the tent to change clothes even though I was surprisingly not cold at all in my soaking wet clothes under the heat sheet. I was in no hurry for once. I chatted with Jason and Tammy a bit before finally putting on dry clothes. After I came out, Morgan and Jason invited me along to Hog River Brewery with their group, but I sadly had to decline since John and I needed to walk back to the hotel and then head home. I hate that. I rarely get invited anywhere and then I had to turn it down. Ugh. It was the right thing to do, though. For John's sake since he had just hung out at yet another race for me. I grabbed another beer and sat with John on the cozy couch. For the first time, they gave us our posters to take home post race. That was nice. I like having them even though they just sit covered up in a corner in my room. If I had a real home "gym", I would hang them up in there as motivation, but I just don't have the space, and I'm not going to hang them up in the regular part of the house. That would just be weird.

I ended up talking to Christina and Mike post race. Most other people had already left by the time I finished. Haha. I think I said goodbye to them like 4 times because we kept running into them over and over and over before we all finally left the hotel. It actually became a joke. Haha.

Back at the hotel, I showered, then John and I left Hartford. As I drove away, I had a feeling this would be the last time I'd be at this race for awhile. Unless by some miracle I can get healed up, have enough to time to train for Boston and can pull off a good race, I will no longer be considered worthy of "New England's Finest." It's been a good run. Two women's masters championships. One of them a 2:57. I can't complain. I hope to be back some day. I'm going to do my best to get there.

Here are my splits if you want to see how NOT to run a marathon...Hahaha.

Full Results.

Oh! I almost forgot! The shoes! The shoes turned out to be awesome. Such a good decision!

Topo Fli-Lyte 2
The ride home would be the most painful post-race drive I've ever done. It was brutal. Oh how I wished for a chauffeur! It felt good to be home in the quiet woods walking the dogs. I could have walked for miles, but it was dark and drizzly. Instead, I opened a beer and plopped on the couch with Phoenix.

I hate to be there bearer of bad news, but this blog isn't over. I decided to write the race part first while I was on a roll with it. Like my last post, I'll keep this part at a minimum.


Like last week, I continued with no running through Wednesday. Total miles, including Hartford: 32.7

Thursday 10/11- Participated in running shoe research and a test run with Saucony. The run was at Tin Mountain in the rain with one of the Saucony people and Victoria Weigold. 2.3 miles in 29:06. More on this later.

Friday 10/12- Wanted to test the tendons at a little faster pace so I ran 3 miles on the treadmill in 22:28. 7:29 avg pace. No elevation. Left tendon pain was present, but otherwise, I felt good.


Monday 10/8- Unplanned 30 minute spin on the bike to recover from dealing with Bryan in person. My only real biking this week.

Sunday 10/14- 10 minutes of light resistance just to loosen up the legs.

Hikes & Walks

Monday- Took the day off work so that I didn't chance it being out all night. Plus, I needed to burn some earned time. I didn't get out until much later than planned due to Bryan and John having issues and then me getting caught in the middle of it. Bryan actually came into the house and it was just like old times. Standing there having a stupid conversation for 1.5 hours before I finally had to walk away. They just don't get along, and Bryan refuses to see his own fault in it. It drained the life out of me.

The weather was gross so I wasn't too upset to change my hiking plans to something shorter. I hadn't done the UNH Trail up Mt Hedgehog in forever so I took Phoenix along with me. The hike is a 4.8 mile loop that I always do clockwise. We ran into people, but it was surprisingly not too bad considering Columbus Day weekend is hands down the WORST weekend of the year to be here. If you have a brain you would NEVER come here that weekend. If you just don't know and you make that mistake once, you will never do it again. Although it is comical. People standing in the middle of the roads for photos. People everywhere with tripods. A family of 20 people walking on a road taking up the whole thing. This place is the Land for the Ridiculous every Columbus Day.

Post-hike, I used my gift certificate to the Black Cap Grill which was fortunately not crowded at 4pm. Kept to myself at the bar and talked to no one but the bartender when he took my order.

Tuesday- Woot another day off to hike. The weather was 70 and sunny. Perfect! But as I drove down to Holderness, it dropped 10 degrees and turned cloudy. So weird. It would end up being a mix of cold and very warm for our hike up Mt Percival and Mt Morgan along the Squam Ridge. There were quite a few people, but we somehow lucked out and had the summits to ourselves. Ran into a few people at the overlook past Mt Morgan where I ran into a couple from Athens! That was kind of neat since they have a summer home in Sandwich. 5.5 miles total. Just under 2 hours total. 1,597ft of elevation gain.

Sunday- Beautiful day to go for a hike. The weather was gorgeous and I needed to move my VERY sore post-marathon legs. I hoped to pick apples in the old orchard like last year, but we arrived to zero apples! I was so bummed, but it was still a great hike. SO beautiful. We meandered for 3.3 miles out and back to the two overlooks.

John made me drive home through the traffic to chase down Pokemon. Haha.

Random other stuff

Bryan found the air pump in his pile of crap when he had to move it off the van seats that had been in the garage. This meant John could finally pump up his bubble balls that his aunt gave him a few years ago. As soon as we got home from school on Tuesday, he went right to it and then forced me to play with him. It was hot out by now so I sweat to death in the plastic ball and it pulled my pony tail out making me look like a crazy person. Haha. I was so afraid of getting hurt, but luckily I was too heavy for John to knock me down and heavy enough to keep knocking John down. Haha. It was fun.

After we were done with the bubble balls, I mowed part of the yard (the mower is working again) and then spent 6 hours cleaning the house for my Saucony guests on Thursday.

Fortunately, no one would be home on Wednesday while I was at work to dirty up the house. I was actually really impressed with my house for my guests. I NEVER have people over so I had to make it look good. Since it was rainy out, my house didn't seem dark and gloomy! I don't use a lot of bright lights since I don't like overhead lighting so I had all of my more dim lights on, and the woman, Julie, walked in and immediately said, "Oh wow! It's so pretty!" I was relieved. I'm pretty self-conscious about my house with its popcorn ceiling, awful bathroom and kitchen. But I will admit it was super cozy, comfortable and clean in there for at least a day. Haha.

So anyway, a "shoe company" reached out to Tom Hooper looking for trail runners to participate in a 2 hour interview in their homes with a friend joining, as well. After the interview, the name of the company would be revealed and we would test the shoes on a 30 minute run and follow up with a 45 minute post-run interview. I completed the survey and was super excited about it until they called and could only do Wednesday up here. The ONLY day I was working this week. Figures. Totally bummed me out. I mentioned it to Tom who worked his magic and got it moved to Thursday! Yay! Paul Kirsch was supposed to join, but he couldn't so Victoria Weigold came over instead.

Our interview ended up going for 3 hours. It was very detailed. They weren't really there for us to test shoes but there to study their market and what makes each of us tick when it comes to buying trail shoes. We went through our current shoes for likes/dislikes. We could only do a few of mine since we didn't have enough time for all 10 pairs. They took photos of us, of my home (all with permission) because they wanted to really study the people they were interviewing. At the end of the 3 hours, Julie asked if I had any idea which company, and I said, "Saucony." Haha. Twice, I noticed Saucony got mentioned by them, but that was my guess anyway prior to the whole thing.

I was given a pair of Peregrine 8 trail shoes. As soon as I put them on, I was in love! They felt awesome right from the start. We drove up to Tin Mountain and ran with Doug for a loop in the rain. They felt so fast and light on my feet. So comfortable with a really solid tread. I tested it out on some wet, green rock and they held. I was very impressed. I can't wait to take them out for a mountain run. We did the last part right at Tin Mountain and then said goodbye. Definitely a fun experience for me.

One last funny thing. Friday morning, I get a message from my old ambulance partner asking, "Is this yours?" with a photo attached...

Why, yes. Yes, it is. Haha. And, no, I didn't lose him. I didn't even know he was gone. He wears a collar when he's with me. And, yes, he was found by Bryan the next morning. Chill has learned how to outrun cops. Haha.

So what's next? Well, within hours of finishing Hartford, I was already thinking about Baystate. Yes, I'm doing it. I plan to run with or near a pace group. I don't care what I run there. Just doing it to finish the Grand Prix. I have no idea if my legs will be ready or not, but I'm leaning towards not. No running until Friday when I have a mountain run planned. If I do anything it will just be easy walking or light resistance on the bike. I have to work 4 days straight so there will be forced rest. I don't know why I'm looking forward to Baystate. It's going to hurt like hell.

Yay for a new Lana song! The "I'm your man" lyrics are quirky, but she tends to do that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2018 Kismet Cliff Run & Lone Gull 10K- USATF-NE GP#6

I'm sitting here at my computer on a Monday night three weeks overdue on my blog. I'm actually not at work as I write this since I took this Monday off. I have only 6 days until Hartford, and like last year, I didn't want to be at work overnight tonight. The fear of getting no sleep led me to take today off. Not to mention, I need to burn some earned time. So anyway, I probably would have gotten to this sooner today, but I was busy actually doing things instead of sitting on my ass in middle of the CarePlus Ambulance Circus. Haha.

I've decided to throw all three weeks into this blog which means an attempt to make it more concise and focus on the highlights, but it's SO HARD. Haha. This post would take me three days to write if I didn't do that, so I'm going to attempt to leave out the tangents and blah blahs. Might mention some things, but I'm going to try to summarize it. I will make the Warner Trail, Kismet and Lone Gull reports longer, though! We'll see if I follow through on that. If you're still reading this post after the hour mark, you will know I failed. I'll try to get all of the blah, blahs out now. :)

These last three weeks have up and down for me. A good race, then a bad race and then no running at all. I had mostly good regular runs and then my only attempt at a long run before Hartford, I cut short to 14 miles from 18.5. Oh well. One trail marathon, a 20 mile trail run and a few road runs around 10-12 miles. That will sure as hell buy me a visit to the Embarrassment Farm on October 13th. However, what I said about VCM, I am not saying for Hartford. I knew going into VCM that I was probably going to DNF. I will not DNF Hartford unless my foot breaks in half...which is actually a possibility. But no, if I am able to run, I'm finishing it. Even though the tendons are bad (and my foot, too!), they aren't nearly as bad as they were before VCM. That and a full week off from running give me hope that I can finish. As far as the Baystate Marathon goes, I have no idea. So I haven't registered yet. I'll wait until 3 days before to make that decision, but there is a possibility I won't even be toeing the line there. If I do, I won't be racing it. I'll only be out there to complete the Grand Prix Series and nothing more. I'll probably just jump in with a pace group for fun or find someone who wants company.

I did a thing I said I wouldn't do....

I really, really wanted to run it next year! I'd already missed the two previous Boston Marathons. So Monday night (9/17), I was lying in bed at work. Week 2 registration had just opened. I looked at my bank account. I added up my expenses for the next 2 weeks. I could pull it I registered. Should I have wasted money on that? Well, that will be determined in April. It did suck being part of the week 2 registrants since I had to wait 10 days for my confirmation email, but it gave me a lot of time to read Instagram and FB comments by other week 2 registrants, the majority of whom were under the 5 min qualification standard. I read through it every day since I was actually concerned even I wouldn't make it since I registered so late. It was a pretty emotional process for those people, and I do feel for them. When it came down to the end of the wait, I would end up being probably one of the last 300 people to be accepted, while over 7,000 were denied. After seeing the emotional drain on so many people, it's really a good thing they dropped the qualifying standard by 5 minutes. It will definitely save a lot of heartache and be less of a burden on the Boston Marathon people who spent so much time on it.

Another thing that happened over these 3 weeks....I sold the van!! Yay! I put it on the local Conway Swap & Sell page on Facebook last Tuesday. $1000 OBO. Immediately had responses. I picked the first person, who came right over. It was sold for $800 in less than 2 hours of me posting it! Wow!! Based on the interest, I probably could have gotten more, but it needs so much work, and I just wanted it gone. Plus, the guy was so nice and so excited about it. He offered $800, and SOLD! I was now able to pay the $400 for John's school trip to Washington DC in November. Yay!! Plus I had some left over. And, in case you're wondering, yes, I kept the other $400. That thing sat in my driveway for 2 years. I deserved that money. Bryan didn't care anyway. It was a tad bittersweet since we really did have some great adventures in that thing. There were actually happy times believe it or not, so it was sad to see it go, but it had become nothing but a rotting burden on me (just like our marriage haha). It was time to say goodbye.

Other highlights- I've killed 15 mice in the last 2 weeks. It's been an infestation! It's insane! I finally had to get reusable traps since I was going through the regular ones like crazy, and then Walmart was always sold out. Even when I went this last time, there were three of us there in the aisle looking for stuff. Apparently the mice have been really bad this fall for a lot of people up here. I got lucky enough to have something even bigger go on a rampage in my house last Friday. I came home to my heavy plastic trashcan ripped apart and my kitchen ransacked. I guessed it was a squirrel, but I don't know where it came in or where it went out. It was definitely no mouse. It was all for nothing, too. There was nothing in the trashcan. I had emptied it that morning. I "fixed" the holes with black duct tape since I just happened to have some. My original squirrel assumption was correct when I busted a red squirrel trying to claw it's way into the house from outside yesterday! Fucker! Ugh.

Week September 17-23, 2018


Actually a big week for me mile wise with 59 miles. 7,346ft of gain.

Monday 9/17- Treadmill 4 miles in 29:47. 7:27 avg pace
Tuesday 9/18- 11 miles on mostly dirt roads starting at Chocorua Lake and looping back via Old Mail and Gardiner Hill Rd. Rain for the first 2 miles. 1:32:20. 8:23 pace. Not accurate. My GPS went WAY off course and cut off at least a half mile if not more. 854ft of elevation gain
Wednesday 9/19- Outer Limits/Corridor 19 trail run from work 4 miles. 9:52 avg pace. GPS messed up again and only recorded .7 miles.
Thursday 9/20- Warner Trail failed attempt. 19.5 miles on the watch, but 20.0 miles according to the guide book. I'll write more about this one below.
Friday 9/21- 6.2 miles on pavement. Mountain Division Trail. 48:03. 7:44 avg pace
Saturday 9/22- Zero Day
Sunday 9/23- Kismet Cliff Run. 13 miles in 2:41:34. I broke my own CR! More later.

After Tuesday's run in Chocorua
Hikes/Walks with John and/or the Dogs

Tuesday- 2.3 miles hike to Sexton Cabin and Bald Ledges with Chill and Phoenix

 Friday- 1.8 mile walk with Phoenix in the Green Hills

Free Reward Drink!
Sunday- Took John and the dogs on a hike to Whitton Ledge after the Kismet Cliff Run. So strange that I didn't even feel like I had raced at all and wasn't tired. I'd never taken John past B&M Ledge so I thought it was a good hike for the day. The climb is mostly gradual and the best part is no people! The ledge is part of an old quarry with minimal views, but John didn't want to go farther than that to the best viewpoint. It was still good enough. 4.6 miles round trip. He really enjoyed it. Dogs, too, of course. Phoenix lost her orange cape in the woods at some point which was a bummer. Maybe I'll try to find it. Maybe I won't.

Sad car
HIGHLIGHT RUN/RACE OF THE WEEK- I'll start with Thursday's attempt at doing a complete run of the 33 mile Warner Trail. If you've been following since last December, I've vaguely mentioned a trail that I was piecing together in Massachusetts. Well, this was the Warner Trail, a trail I'd never even heard of. While looking at trails in F Gilbert Hills one day, I noticed a marked trail that entered Gilbert and exited Gilbert. Hmm. What's this? So I looked it up. And wow. The Warner Trail began as an idea between two Appalachian Mountain Club members in the 1930s. The idea became reality when the trail from the AMC's Ponkapaug Camp in Canton was completed to High Rock in F Gilbert Hills in 1947. By the early 1950s, the trail was completed to Diamond Hill State Park in RI. Development caused a move of the start to Sharon, MA.

I made it to the Senior Center before calling it quits.
This really peaked my interest, so I showed it to a friend who was also interested which led us to begin doing it in out-and-back sections over time. Winter put a damper on it for awhile, and also, with me living so far away and working most of my only free Thursdays, it took quite awhile to complete. And we still had about 6 miles uncovered. All I can say is, this was the most frustrating trail ever tried to follow, and we ended up off-trail constantly, with one time completely lost going in circles and another time bushwhacking. We ran a road an extra 1+ miles another time. Haha. And the goddamn Bay Circuit Trail steered us the wrong way many times. The trail is often poorly marked and VERY overgrown (remember the skin ripping grass?!), but it was always an adventure and constantly had me laughing. But no way would I ever suggest attempting this whole trail without doing it in sections first. Just an example below of the trail where it veered off of a road. And yes, that is the trail you're looking at. Haha.

There is actually a trail marker in this photo, but this is where we kept going on the road 1+ miles the first time.
So, even though there were about 6 miles unknown to me, I still set the date of Sept 20th to complete the whole thing N->S. I took half of my Wednesday shift off so that I could leave around 4am to get down there early on Thursday morning. This would be a solo effort since my running partner wouldn't be able to complete the whole distance with me. Instead of bothering other people for a ride back to my car at the end, I planned to take Uber. I packed my terrible running pack with a liter of water with Tailwind (turned out not to be enough), way too many salted potatoes, maple syrup, the entire guide book and a change of clothes for the ride back (absolute necessity!). So needless to say, my pack was pretty heavy from the start. I got started around 8:30am which was my hope. Traffic had been a breeze fortunately. Temps were in the 60s and it was overcast.

Marker at the start on Dedham St
We did this first section early winter last year, so within about 20 yards, I had already blown by the first trail turn. Haha. It was completely overgrown and not visible, but since I remembered it from before, I realized it immediately. There was basically no trail here at all with all of the overgrowth, but my memory led me the right way. I was actually surprised at how well I remembered everything and only veered of the trail twice and only very briefly before immediately realizing it. Doing the trail in out-and-back sections made it seem so much longer, especially with all of the missed turns. This time, it seemed to fly by. I felt pretty good for about the first 8 miles, but it was at that point, I really noticed that I was soaked in sweat. It was cool but very humid out. I made fueling mistakes early on that probably caused my failure. My gut was not happy throughout the entire run which didn't help. I stopped around mile 10ish in Foxborough to attempt eating some of my potatoes, but could only stomach one. I should have filled my water up at the gas station across the street. Another fail. I ate maple syrup instead. I was already feeling a little drained but still thought I was good to go the full distance.

Crossing over I-95

Overgrown trail behind me

More overgrown trail

One of the many different types of markers for the Warner Trail

Headed into F Gilbert Hills

The only shelter for the trail along the way

He established Friends of the Warner Trail in 1994.

Sunset Ledge- A favorite stop in F Gilbert Hills
The trail becomes very well-marked once you hit F Gilbert Hills, but that didn't stop me from passing a turn briefly. Haha. It left Gilbert and crossed Rt 1 which looked scary but only took me less than a minute to get across. On the other side was the beginning of the section we spent an hour trying to find and then gave up because it was so overgrown. I actually stopped and took a break here to look at the description of the trail since I was about to enter one of the two sections I hadn't done. After this short .5 miles through the woods, it would enter a residential area with a lot of turns, so I decided to carry the guidebook in my hand for this next part. When I was ready, I stood up and noticed a dead chicken on the ground behind me. Hmm. I think it was an omen. Haha.

I dreaded this next section because I assumed it would be more overgrown than July, but much to my surprise, someone had cleared it!!! And not only that, they marked with marking tape AND fixed up the bog area with better footing. Yay! Unfortunately, the next part that appeared to be easy to follow turned out not to be. The guidebook was written in 2009 and unfortunately, a house was built right over the trail since then. Haha. I spent 12 minutes (looked at Strava Flyby) wandering the cul-de-sac back and forth and then realized it HAD to be behind the house so I bushwhacked through the woods until running into the trail that had I been able to run through the house, it would have been a straight shot from the end of the cul-de-sac and only about 100 yards to where I met up with it. See!! Frustrating trail! Haha. A Strava screenshot from that bit....

I was at mile 16ish when I hit the next road crossing and was suddenly feeling pretty drained. I still had no plans to quit and even took the Strava CR for the climb up from the road here as it entered into the Wrentham State Forest. This was the last section my friend and I completed prior to this, and I'm sad to say that there were no blueberries left! I ran over the Pinnacles and followed the trail easily, even though it's pretty overgrown in some sections. It's very well-marked here, but the Warner Trail is a much lesser used trail than the rest. All of sudden, I was just completely drained. I was drenched in sweat and was at the stumbling point. Even though I had begun to feel it earlier, it still wasn't so bad that I thought I would have to quit, but with 2 miles to go to the Wrentham Senior Center, I was suddenly just cooked. All done. I decided to stop there and take another break and reevaluate. I would have just over 13 miles still to cover and the next 5 mile section was the only other part I hadn't done yet. As soon as I got into the lot, I sat down and decided to call it quits. I was done for the day. 20.0 miles according to the guidebook. 19.5 miles on my watch which is pretty impressive that the GPS only lost .5 miles through the thick woods over that much distance. The trail is very hilly, but only with short ups and downs mostly so elevation gain was only 1,957ft. It certainly felt like a lot more. I did not try to do this for speed. Took a lot of breaks. Stopped for a lot of photos. Ran a very slow, comfortable pace. My only goal today was to complete the trail, not get a FKT on it (I'm not into those at all). I didn't complete my goal, but I was perfectly happy with my effort and already took time off work to make a second attempt in November. It will (hopefully!) be cooler and most of the overgrown stuff will be dead. The leaf cover will be a challenge, but my memory of the navigation was really clear this time around so I don't expect to have much trouble the next time. I wish I could get over to do that last section I haven't completed yet, but I've booked myself solid with work on my free day through the first week of November. But I'm looking forward to another attempt and feel pretty confident I will pull it off. It will be something good to end my running season with (along with Lil' Rhody Runaround, of course).

Once I made the decision I was done, I checked my Uber options. The two cheapest had me waiting an hour. $5 more said about 10 minutes so I chose that one. I changed clothes in the woods and got a ping that my driver was only a minute away! Took him 7 minutes total! And thank goodness for my change of clothes. His car was probably the cleanest car I've ever seen! I'm sure I stunk so bad, but at least I had clean, dry clothes on. Marcos was friendly, but spoke very little English. I didn't mind since it meant no small talk. Yay! After many attempts through the language barrier, I was able to end his confusion as to how I got where I was by showing him the map of my run on Strava. Haha. I can't tell you how nice it was to be driven around by someone else for once after my run. Just one of those little things I never get to experience. So relaxing.

Even though I didn't have grass ripping my skin off this time, I was still covered in scrapes and cuts from briars and random overgrown shit.

I went to Castle Island Brewing for a few beers after my run then stopped at Whole Foods for a slice of pizza. The lady at the checkout told me there was free coffee outside and sure enough, there was! I had planned to get some at Whole Foods but opted out after seeing the cost. Lucky I didn't because free was better! I knew going into this that I would get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home, and I did. It didn't mind it at all since I had prepared for it. Just listened to my music. Only stopped once to get gas in Wakefield, Ma where gas was $2.68/gal. 20 cents cheaper than home. I'm not kidding at all when I say we are price gouged up here.

Kismet Cliff Run Race Report- Kismet has always been one of my favorite trail races since first doing it in 2010. Back then, I didn't live here. I lived in the flat lands of eastern North Carolina, but I just happened to be up visiting Bryan's family that weekend. I had found the race months in advance, and being used to trail races selling out quickly in North Carolina, I registered immediately. Little did I know that wasn't a thing in New England yet (except for a few races and now look at it!). Kismet was in its second year then and was only the 5 mile loop over Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges. I'll never forget looking up at those ledges from Echo Lake that morning and feeling terrified that I was going to be running up THAT! It would be one of the hardest races I'd ever done up to this point. Probably second behind the now defunct Continental Divide Trail Race in Laurel Springs, NC that I had done a month prior. 7 months later, we moved back to the Mount Washington Valley permanently. I would do Kismet that year taking 4 minutes off my 2010 time and snagging the course record (that still stands). Gabe Flanders (the previous RD) worked his magic to get a longer 13 mile course through the National Forest in 2012 and thus began the Beast of the East. I would go on to run that for 4 years straight. In 2014, I was all of a sudden in really good shape and through extremely wet and muddy conditions, I still took 27 minutes off my previous year's time to take the course record for the Beast course in 2:42:09. The course record was still standing coming into this year's race.

Due to Lone Gull 10K conflicts, I had missed 2016 & 2017, but when I realized it would work out this year, I registered. I had no idea going into the week that I would actually race it. If I completed the whole Warner Trail, I was going to back out of the race and just volunteer. Since I didn't finish the Warner Trail, the race was a go, but I was SO not into it at all. I planned to just go out without a care in the world. I went out with Tom Hooper, Roxanne Serrecchia, Hilary McCloy and Andrew Drummond the night before to Barley & Salt. I had two really strong beers and shoved my entire plate of pulled pork sandwich and mashed potatoes in my face. I figured that would ensure a pretty terrible race the next day. When I got home, I opened the mailbox to find the creeper letter in there (see two blog posts ago). Good thing he used so much tape on it. I'm sure it has a lot of fingerprints stuck to it.

Roxanne & Tom
I was thankful for the change of race start from 10am to 8am since Six03 took it over. It would ensure cooler temps for the race. It also meant John would probably be asleep for the whole home. Since this was a local race, he was able to stay home! Yay! But this did mean racing with my phone on my arm. Haha. I wanted to have a way for him to contact me if there was an emergency so I just carried my phone. I couldn't believe how perfect the weather was this morning. Temps in the 40s and the trail SO DRY. I still wasn't into it, though, and just planned to have fun and not worry about my time. I didn't expect to break 3 hours today. I'll admit that I was a little put-off by the crowd. This race had always been very low-key with only about 20ish racers every year until last year when Gabe handed it off to Six03. I wasn't used to this at all and it kind of changed my plans of starting off slow. There was no way in hell I was going to get stuck behind a million people once we hit the steep singletrack up Cathedral.

Pretending to exchange shoes for beer with Freddi Tribeck before the race.
I started the race with Haley Heinrich. Haley was super nervous, but I kept trying to get her to stay with me for the first part. She did at first. Two women went out ahead of us, one of which I knew was slower than the both of us so I told Haley not to worry about her because she was going way too fast and would fall back to us. The other woman I didn't know, but she looked super fast. The day before, I had marked the section from the Bryce Path sign out to Cathedral Ledge Rd. Tom asked me on Friday if I knew that part of the course since it turned out, he didn't. Not only him, but no one who was helping remembered that part. Haha. I know the course by heart so I marked it Saturday morning.

I breathed a sigh of relief as we ran this section since I had marked it really well through here. There are SO many cross trails for climbers that it would be easy to go off course without it marked well. Yay. Once on the road, Haley was with me, and we turned onto the steep as fuck climber's trail where of course all the gung-ho-at-the-start people began to die. Thankfully, there weren't too many to pass here, but we got caught in a few conga lines. I was actually surprised when we already caught the second girl just barely into the climb. Haley dropped back here, as she planned. She's in way better shape than I am so I knew she would catch me later on. That was fine. I was in a comfortable pace and decided to stick with it. I could see a group  that included the first woman just ahead of me. When I didn't gain any ground on her during the decent from Cathedral, I knew she had to be a good technical trail runner so I had a feeling I wasn't going to catch her at all since I also wasn't gaining ground on her on the climbs. I figured she could always fall back later, but based on what I was seeing at this point, I was doubtful. And it was ok since I really didn't plan to be competitive today.

The climb up Whitehorse is actually the worse climb to me of the entire course. I don't know why, but I've always thought this. By the time I got to the top where Tristan Williams (former CR holder) and Leah Hart were cheering I could see no one in front of me or behind. I didn't expect to be alone this early in the race if at all! I hit the next long downhill hard like I always do and when I turned onto the Red Ridge Link, I finally caught a glimpse of one guy in front of me but no one else. As we turned left onto the Red Ridge Trail, I was really surprised to have no one ahead in sight. There are some longer straightaways here, so I expected to see the first woman and the group she was with since she wasn't that far ahead of me the last time I saw her. But no one. And no one in sight behind me.

The run to the FS Rd crossing is long and usually muddy, but today, it was completely dry! Craziness. I kept my pace fast here since the real race was about to get started when we began the ascent up Middle Moat Mt. The guy in front of me immediately started walking so I passed him. 4 miles into the race, and I wouldn't run near a single other racer (who hadn't gone off course) for the entire rest of the race! I ran this entire first section up to the brook crossing like I always do and then began my power hike/run cycle for the climb up to the ridge. I would occasionally spot 2 guys way up ahead and then two more guys way behind when the views were clear along the open ridge, but no first woman and no Haley. I assumed the first woman was just really fucking fast and long gone, but Haley should have been in view at this point so I worried she was struggling (it turned out that she went off course; still completed the race after adding on 5 miles running it all at a faster average pace than me! That's impressive, even if also bad luck). Realizing I had a good chance at 2nd, though, I decided to keep pushing and really got into race mode. The climb seemed to go by quickly, and the next section felt effortless. I know almost every step, rock and root, by heart. I came up and over North Moat feeling great. I checked my watch since I kind of had a time mark in my head and realized at the rate I was going I would definitely go under 3 hours. Sweet!

The last 2 years that I've missed the race, the descent from North Moat has been bone dry. I had never once done this race when it wasn't a wet mess. When I got the CR in 2014, it was so wet and slippery that it took me 25:35 on the descent. Finally, this year I got to run down a dry trail!! And I hauled ass! I felt so confident and light on my feet. This was AWESOME! All of a sudden I started to catch up with people. One told me, he had gone off course and that he was really upset. I had no idea where he went off course since he was descending North Moat. Weird. Then I passed two more guys, one who just stepped aside. He looked a little defeated so I thought he was just worn out. Turned out that both of them ALSO went the wrong way, but I didn't know this yet. I would end up running the descent in 19:36. 6 minutes faster than 2014!! Knowing how much faster I was then, it's safe to say that had the course been this dry, I probably would have run it in the low 2:30s then.

At the base of North Moat, I continued to move quickly in hopes of keeping 2nd place. At the brook crossing to head back up Red Ridge, I really needed to fill my handheld so I stopped and chatted with Hilary and Andrew. I mentioned that people went the wrong way, but I had no idea how. The course was really well-marked. They said a bunch of people turned right on Red Ridge off the Red Ridge Link instead of going left like the HUGE left arrow indicated. I screwed on the cap of my bottle and started to head out when Hilary said, "You're first woman." I was like what?! She said the first woman had gone the wrong way, too! And I'll admit it. I had a very loud outburst of excitement. Haha. I couldn't believe it, but fuck, I just wasted time thinking she was WAY ahead of me and already breaking my course record. Now, I was in first and wanted to keep it! Andy snapped a photo as I was crossing the brook.

Looking at my watch I kind of started thinking that I could break 2:50, and I ran the fastest I've ever run up this part of the trail back to the Red Ridge Link. I power hiked a bit of it and then hit the final 2 miles home. Most of this was downhill so I gave it all I had. I kept checking my watch and realized I was going to come closer to my course record than I thought. I definitely wouldn't beat it, but I thought a 2:45 was a possibility. I didn't look at my watch again for the next stretch. I turned toward the lake with about a half mile to go and hit the left turn for the last part around it. I looked at my watch. 2:39 and change. OMFG! I could do it!! I think I actually laughed out loud and just started flying and checking my watch nearly every step. I crossed into the picnic area. My watch crossed 2:41. Holy shit!! I could see Tom there staring at his watch as I came through the finish fucking ecstatic!! I said, "I did it!!" 2:41:35. I beat my own CR by 34 seconds!!! I haven't felt that happy about something in what seems like forever. It was the same feeling I had in 2014 when I got the first CR. When I first realized I was fast. It was that race when I knew something had changed. Today, the happiness was for a different reason. To beat my old CR while injured and running slower than I've run in 7 years gave me that same feeling. And to top it off, I didn't feel tired. I felt nothing but good. I was on a high. I needed this today. Full Results.

My awards- hat and beer

Another award
I didn't stay long since I wanted to get home to take John for that aforementioned hike. Stopped to get us bagel sandwiches and a latte for him. So much tourist traffic, but I was too happy to have my usual road rage. Haha.

Check out Roger Marcoux's video of Kismet:

Other Random Stuff from this Week- Saturday, I took John to the 100 Acre Challenge. Since he's 12, this is his last year doing the kids race. Hopefully, I can get him to do the regular race with me next year. It was really cold this morning and he got covered in mud. It was great. He put in a great effort which I love seeing. I helped Richie Blake with timing as usual, mainly just he kids race and inputting day of registrations into the system. Once the regular race started, he didn't need me for anything else so John and I left.

The rest are mostly dog photos from the week with one of John wearing a ziplock bag as a hat. Haha. The last one is a photo of my mom's mug from my parents' 20th wedding anniversary party. I had a drink in it to celebrate their 44th! And this is the second marriage for both of them. Although I doubt I'll ever get married again (or even date again), they are proof that 2nd marriages can be far better than the first.

Fun work story from this week. Got a 911 call right after finishing the truck check on Wednesday. Truck wouldn't start! A smart ambulance company wouldn't have only ONE exit door for the garage. Two perfectly good ambulances stuck behind the dead one did us no good. We were running around searching for jumper cables while hearing dispatch ask 15C1 if the 60 unit (that's us) had signed on yet. Ahhh! No jumper cables! I remembered my jump box for my car so I ran out there, grabbed it then handed it to my partner. 15C1 pulls in the lot, I hop in his car and we head to the scene. Glenn on Center Conway offers to bring his ambulance to cover. I arrive on scene. A rescue member is there so we do our thing. Meanwhile I'm completely flustered this whole time. Call goes well. I tech the call in Center Conway's ambulance while Glenn drives. The patient was none the wiser. Care was rendered. But WTF. My partner was actually able to jump the ambulance with my jump box that was designed for a small car. Took 8 minutes, but it worked. Learned later that there were jumper cables... in one of the other ambulances O2 compartment. Yeah, that's smart. That's exactly the first place I would have looked. *Eyeroll* Another day in the circus.

Week September 24-30, 2018


Less miles this week, but I needed to recover a bit to be ready for Lone Gull 10K. 39.5 miles.

Monday 9/24- Zero day. Walked 2.1 miles at work.
Tuesday 9//25- Quick run in between shifts. 5.1 miles out and back on Ossipee Lake Rd. 37:00. 7:11 avg pace. Felt good. Got in 26 minutes on the indoor bike that night and did a full upper body and abs workout.
Wednesday 9/26- 3 miles on the trail behind work. 24:12. 7:49 avg pace.
Thursday 9/27- Was supposed to be my first and last long run before Hartford at 18.5 miles. Wasn't feeling it and cut it short to 14.1 miles. Oh well. Still ran a decent pace for this one with a very long climb in there. 1:48:25. 7:41 avg pace. 997ft of elevation gain.
Friday 9/28- Run up Black Cap via Red Tail then back down a new trail for halfway. REALLY fun running on that one. High steep banks. With Phoenix. 6.5 miles. 1:12:59. 11:09 avg pace. 1,650ft of elevation gain.
Saturday 9/29- Zero Day. Did 30 minutes of spin intervals on the bike.
Sunday 9/30- Lone Gull 10K. Disappointing as expected. 40:18.

Tamworth Run

Tamworth Run

Summit of Black Cap with Phoenix

Black Cap run

Black Cap run
Walks/Hikes with John and/or the Dogs

Thursday- 2.8 mile walk with Phoenix at the Albany Town Forest.

Saturday- I had planned to do that same hike up to Sexton Cabin and the ledges, but John wanted to do a different walk at Purity Spring. I liked his option so we walked the trails from The Mill (where the pool is I use on occasion) down to the beach. We ran into a few people along the way so I was surprised to find we had the beach to ourselves for almost an hour! I couldn't get John to leave. There were swings there, and I honestly don't know the last time John has been on a swing, but he couldn't get enough of it. And then Phoenix found a soccer ball and went nuts. One of her favorite things is chasing around a soccer ball. Haha. Such time well spent with John. 3.3 miles total for the walk.

Sunday- I had planned to walk at our old haunt Ravenswood after Lone Gull, but I ended up changing my mind for a walk at the Willowdale State Forest in Topsfield. Upon parking, I realized the Discover Hamilton Trail that Dave Dunham had suggested to me literally started right there across the road in the Bradley Palmer State Park. Plans were immediately changed. I pulled up the trail map and came up with a good loop of the Discover Hamilton Trail. I'll have to come back and run all of it at some point. I was so amazed at how neat and beautiful this place was. And SO many miles of trails. A lot of people around, but not crowded at the same time. Once again, John was game and really enjoyed the walk. Such a gorgeous day. Phoenix had to stay leashed, much to her chagrin, but those were the rules...that I only sometimes follow. :) We walked a 4.3 mile loop in just under 2 hours. Then drove home. Stopped at Deciduous Brewing for some beer on the way.

On the way over to the walk

Yes, this is my new favorite shirt!

Lone Gull 10K Race Report

Not much to report since I could sum it up that I sucked and leave it at that, but I won't let you off the hook from rambling. Nosiree! Haha. As with every single road race this year, I went into it knowing the outcome wouldn't be ideal. I only hoped I would do better than last year. Last year it was really hot and I was still struggling getting over my chest cold, but I still managed a 40:23. This year, I wasn't sick and the weather was perfect, the best weather of the four Lone Gull's I've raced. My issue this year would be the stupid tendons that would hold me back as usual.

We got there pretty early. John was asleep and would end up sleeping until well after my cool down! After picking up my bib, I went right out for a 2 mile warm up. I actually felt as good as I can feel at this point. I came back. Chatted with a few people but not many. It's so spread out between the huge lot and the distance to the start that I didn't catch up with Regina until I got over there. I knew most of the details of  the new course except I had the thought the start was in the same place. It turned out to be on the other side of the hill before the old one. Although it was tight, I actually liked that it started on an uphill. It would definitely keep me from going out way too fast. Not that it wouldn't still be too fast, but no sub-6 mile. I lined up with my CMS teammates and basically with all of my usual people I've been running close times with.

As we got going, it was very slow in the tight crowd as expected, but once we crested the hill, it became spread out enough to have some room. I tried to settle in behind people I knew I should be close to. A few were behind me, but I expected them to catch up to me early on. The course continues on the same route as before until we got to the normal left hand turn and went right instead. I felt good through here. This was a steep hill for a bit before turning right onto a slightly tighter road around mile 2.5. 6:06 for mile 1. 6:32 for mile 2.

The next mile would be the new course with a lot of rollers. I actually really liked this section and would probably do well here if I were 100%, but unfortunately, this is where my speed just dwindled away. 6:42 for mile 3. We got back on the original course around mile 3.5. A slight headwind here but nothing that would have slowed anyone down. It actually felt good. Mile 4 would be quick since most of it was downhill. 6:18. After mile 4, I watched those ahead of me getting farther away. I just couldn't hang. I was stuck at the pace I was in. I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't in mile 6 since the old finish was now around mile 5. Kind of mind game this year. With the gradual incline and the short steep hill, I slowed to a sad 6:44 mile for mile 5. I was able to pick it up a bit for the last 1.2 miles which seemed to go on forever, but I did gain a bit on two women. I passed one, but she caught me back just before the finish. The last stretch to the finish line was deceptive, but I told myself that as I entered the lot so that I didn't push whatever bit of "speed" I had left too soon. 6:31 for mile 6. And 6:17 for the last .2. Came in in 40:18. 5 seconds faster than last year.

The only photo I'm in from Lone Gull. Haha.
I was genuinely happy with it considering my body's limits. I still beat last year. Yes, I'm disappointed, but I'm not wallowing in it. I'm disappointed in my body mainly. It's failing me. My own fault for sure, but I can still feel this way about it. I keep thinking about how I ran 38:23 at Lone Gull in 2015, and how I want to get back to something like that again. Despite the disappointment, these races are actually helping me focus on the future. Hopefully as soon as next year! I'm envisioning the fast me again. I can't stop thinking about it. Once I'm healthy, I want to get back to MY training. The training that worked for me before. Will I be more cautious about overdoing it? Of course! Do I expect to be as fast as 2015? Nope, but I want to be close. It may take longer than I expect, but I have a vision and a goal. I have my own plan. I don't care what works for anyone else. I'm doing what I know how to do. What I did for myself in the beginning. It will happen.

Post-race sucked this year. No one is fun anymore. Nobody to hang out with. People doing extra long cool downs to get in extra miles. It's just not my thing AT ALL. I was lucky to get in a 1.9 cool down, and that was only because I joined some CMS women. I love running and I love racing, but I also love to have fun after. My crowd just isn't here anymore. Another reason I won't be an Iron Runner next year.

So, needless to say, we didn't stay long after. Regina had to leave suddenly to take over the childcare from her soon to be ex, and she was the only person I really wanted to hang out with anyway. So we headed out. Only took 2 minutes to get out of the lot. Followed my GPS and stopped for coffee and hot chocolate nearby. GPS lied and told me to take a right somewhere, and then I suddenly realized I had just gone in a full circle, so back I went with the GPS this time telling me to go straight where it told me right before. And right there at the stop light next to me was Regina. I don't really believe in those things that happen like this, but I'd like to think it wasn't random. The light was long enough that we were actually able to have a conversation through our windows before we went our separate ways.

Other Random Stuff from this Week

Picked up a rare Tuesday track shift. My view from the ambulance of the pouring rain outside. The Audi club here today was a bunch of dicks. A few got kicked out within the first hour. Disobeying the rules. Just a bunch of entitled shitheads.

The regular crews were SO busy. Like tone after tone. So I decided to take some selfies  for them of how my day was going. Haha.

Oh so cozy in the ambulance

John helped make lunch for everyone at school today.

Could make a good meme.
The next photo was the finale of dealing with Bryan via text for 1.5 hours when he ordered me to buy John tea tree oil and force him to use it on his face. I suggested he buy it instead of me since I buy everything else and that this was his idea. I said if he did then I would remind John to use it. Should have been a done deal, but no. Turned into the usual pattern of a conversation with Bryan. Twisting things around to confuse me in an effort to make me comply. I did not. Then turning to the guilt trip that it will be my fault that John has acne scars if I don't comply. Then went back to telling me I had to force John to use it. I told him I gave him Pro Activ to use. He tells me that it's crap. Reminded him that I'm not against tea tree oil, and that if he buys some for John I will remind him to use it. It then turns to anger and him saying he is fucked up now as an adult all because of the acne he had as a teenager. Admits to being pissed off which was obvious from all the f-bombs (8 in one text alone). I stand my ground with him buying it and me reminding John to use it. He finally gives in. Says he'll pick John up from school and they will go buy tea tree oil together as long as I remind him to use it. Back where we started. I win. He picks up John from school and brings him straight home. Never mentions the tea tree oil. Hahahaha. The next morning. I find this bottle of tea tree oil (that Bryan already had for John but had taken it away because John wouldn't use it) sitting on my porch. Haha. A conversation that never had to happen.

John taped "Burn" on there at some point prior to this because it burns and he hates it.

Week October 1-7, 2018


Well, this part is easy. I only ran one day this week on Tuesday. That wasn't the plan. I was only going to take a zero on Monday. I took Phoenix on a run partly in the rain at the Moat Mineral Site. I actually felt decent. I made a loop that included a trail I hadn't run in a few years. It was a fun run, but as I was running, I thought about how running more isn't going to help my tendons for Hartford. And running more isn't going to make me any fitter for Hartford either. So I decided to take a week off from running to see if it helped. I got on my bike every other day this week instead and did some hiking.

So total miles for the week...9.6. 1:34:02. 894ft of elevation gain.


Found some decent videos on YouTube finally. CycleOps. Just wish they had more, but the ones they have are really good. I did their videos and one Gym Box video during the week. Every workout is intense so even 30 minutes is an ass kicker. And I'm always drenched in sweat. Puddles on the floor kind of sweat. Haha.

Wednesday 10/3- Sprint Intervals 30 minutes
Thursday 10/4- Climbing Intervals 30 minutes
Friday 10/5- Tempo Ride Mix 52 minutes
Saturday 10/6- Mix of Everything 56 minutes
Sunday 10/7- Hill Endurance 45 minutes

Walks/Hikes with John and/or the Dogs

Wednesday- 2.1 mile trail walk at work
Thursday- 1.8 mile lunch break walk at Club Motorsports
Friday- Flat Mountain Pond Trail/Snowmobile trails. Accidentally veered off the Flat Mountain Pond Trail with the dogs and found some signed trails that I followed. I learned later that these are local snowmobile trails which is awesome because they make good skiing in the winter. 5 miles total. I wanted to walk farther, but I ran out of time since I had to pick John up from school. Really beautiful walk. See photos below.
Saturday- Waldorf Trails from home with the dogs. 1.9 miles.
Sunday- Both phases of the Corn "Maize" at Sherman Farm. We are way too good at the corn mazes now. Blew through both quickly. I can't even do a corn maze without getting competitive. I kept trying to beat all of the people around us which wasn't hard. Haha. .55 miles for Phase 1 in 18:38. .65 miles for Phase 2 in 17:47. I did win a race overall through the corn maze 4 or 5 years ago...but I did kind of cheat. We came out the week before and did it so I had it memorized by race day. Hahaha.
3 miles with the dogs when we got home. Checked out the now official new trail at Tin Mountain to measure it and came up with a new Dirty Girl course along the way.

Flat Mountain Pond Hike

Flat Mountain Pond Hike

Flat Mountain Pond Hike

Flat Mountain Pond Hike

Flat Mountain Pond Hike

Flat Mountain Pond Hike

Waldorf Trails Walk

Waldorf Trails Walk

Waldorf Trails Walk

Signs for Tin Mountain's new trail.
Random Other Stuff

Played games on Messenger with John while I was at work

Neat to be front and center for the GP Bid application
 I finally had to pay off John's cell phone. His original phone was killed in Costa Rica 15 months ago, but I still had to pay it off. In the meantime, John's been using my shitty old phones that won't hold a charge at all so it was time. Except, he didn't get the new phone. I did! He got my Samsung S7 which is perfectly good, and I got the Google Pixel 2. There was no way he was getting to keep the better phone. Haha. He complained at first, but after I showed him both phones next to each other out of the cases, he realized they weren't much different. I actually wouldn't care much, but it's the camera. So much better than the Samsung. He doesn't take photos really. So that's really the only reason I wanted it. I took that first Flat Mountain Pond hike photo with it. This photo of Phoenix was the first photo I took with it.

School dog

Dog snuggles
Saturday, we volunteered at the high school cross country meet.  We parked at the ranger station and walked over through the woods to avoid the traffic. On the way over, a freakin' orange cone knocked me down. Haha. The meet was actually really fun. We helped guide runners at an intersection. Maureen Gillespie was there as coach for her team so she hung out with us for both races. Surprisingly, John watched and cheered the entire boys' race and said that it was cool. He was bored by the girls' race, though. Haha. It was a fun way to spend a few hours...especially since it meant a trip through the dessert table line after. Haha. While I was there, Paul tried to give a Six03 bag and water bottle that I had to decline since I have a million of them. Haha. But I did accept his offer of an awesome visor from a trail race in Italy! Love!

The corn maze was a bit disappointing this year. Not only are they charging a dollar more per person ($11), but they got rid of John's favorite thing there. The jumping pillow. He would spend hours on that thing. They replaced it with the most lame bouncy thing shaped like a pumpkin. He was so bummed out. Tried it out once and said it barely bounced. Lame move, Sherman Farm. He doesn't even want to go back next year. I love the corn mazes, but they aren't worth $22. We still had a decent time. Played a lot of giant checkers and tic tac toe. I ate a large bag of kettle corn pretty much by myself and then we did both corn mazes. We spent about 2 hours there and then left. John wasn't interested in the ride to the pumpkin patch so I guess the Corn Maize has run its course for us. Kind of makes me sad since I took John to it the first year it opened in 2007, and we've been every year since 2011. I guess we'll spend our money on the fair next year instead. 

Yep. Favorite shirt. I swear I wash it.
Foliage around my house. I mowed that grass mound yesterday.
And one final photo for this blog post. October 7th marked the 20th anniversary of my first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. It seems like forever ago. When I think of everything that has happened since this photo was taken, I'm like damn! I have truly lived so much life in between. I went on to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, the Lost Coast Trail and the AT, a second time. Spent 2 years living in our van or on the trail after 9/11/01. I was a flight attendant, a dog walker, an Army spouse for 7.5 years. I became a mom. Sent my husband off to war for 15 months. I got to live in Monterey, California, Key West and other places that weren't as cool but still an experience. I became an EMT. I've run two sub-3 hour marathons. I run mountains. I went through a divorce and came full circle to become myself older, stronger version of that girl in the photo.