Friday Night Vertical 2021

Friday Night Vertical 2021

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

2022 Promise Land 50K++


James River bridge on the AT

I realized time was flying by so I needed to update my blog if I want to keep up with the races and be a running blog again. Haha. 

Back in November, Ryan mentioned doing the Promise Land 50K++ in Virginia. He had already done a few races down there put on by Dave Horton and really wanted to go back. I was game! It would be nice to take a trip down there again. Virginia was one of my favorite sections of the AT so I thought it would be awesome to do a spring race on those mountains. I hadn't hiked that area since my last thru-hike in 2003.

As soon as registration opened in early January, we signed right up... and I had just stopped running to nurse my posterior tibial tendonitis, but I figured I'd only be out a month and wouldn't lose much. I would be wrong. I did a test run the first week of February, but it was a no-go. Luckily, I had just gotten the new boots to go with my skate skis so I was really starting to pick up this new fitness that would end up being the only thing to get me to the start line of Promise Land. I didn't run again until the very end of February! At this point, I had no idea how I could pull off running a 50K 2 months later since my runs were all very short and awkward. I also had to slowly build up. I didn't run anything over 6 miles until March 26, and that was only 9.3 miles! At this point I was getting really nervous about the race and wondering how in the hell I could pull off a 50K+ (and by +, it's literally way more. Over 34 miles on the GPS so probably at least 35 or 36). I did my first "long" run on March 31st. A 14.1 mile road run around Tamworth. I had to run it at a very easy pace in order to finish it. Between April 2nd and race day, I did 4 "long" runs. And that's in quotes because it was 15.2, 12, 14.9 and 17.5. Hardly what I would consider a long run when getting ready for a 50K. I honestly thought I wouldn't finish, but we were still going down anyway. Ryan had been able to run over the winter, but it was very little so he wasn't that far ahead of me with with his running fitness.

We left on Thursday for the LONG 13+ hour drive to Virginia. John stayed back to hold down the fort and take care of the dogs. For the record, he is ALWAYS invited to come with us, but he has no interest. And he actually likes being home by himself, and it's easier for us with the dogs. We never could have brought them with us because, of course, Virginia would be in a heat wave on race weekend! Haha. It didn't surprise me at all, but it made me doubt finishing the race even more. The drive ended up not being that bad. It's nice to travel with someone you get along with. We talked and listened to music. Looked up segments on Strava of the places we were travelling through to see what kind of trails were there. Crazy how we used to just drive by these places never knowing there was a huge trail network right off the highway. That's a cool thing about Strava. I have a love-hate relationship with it, but that's one of the things I do love about it. It's also the only place I keep track of my running (which is probably a stupid idea haha). We got to our Howard Johnson hotel in Lexington, VA late and pretty much crashed. 

The next morning we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to parking area that would be the site of the 3rd aid station on the course to do a short run up Apple Orchard Mountain on the AT. The temperature had already reached the 80s by this point, and the climb up was STEEP, so we suffered. I felt completely awful. My legs hurt. My breathing was erratic. I felt like I'd just started day 1 of the Couch-to-5K. I started to panic and had a mini breakdown. I told Ryan that I couldn't do the race. That I shouldn't even toe the line. There was no way I was going to finish. Ryan talked me down in just a few seconds telling me that it was normal for my legs to feel badly after that long drive. I realized he was right, so we were back running again. My "breakdown" was probably less than a minute. Haha. Got to the top of Apple Orchard, took some pics then ran back down. I was still really nervous about the race, but I was at least going to start.

(Side note: I learned 3 weeks later that my ex-husband is thru-hiking the AT again. He was right in the same area while we were down there. How crazy would that have been if we'd run into him on Apple Orchard?)

We drove down to town for lunch at this cute deli with outdoor seating. The hot sun felt good today, but I knew it would feel like Death Valley during the race the next day. From there we headed out to the race site where we'd camp with most of the other racers that day. We lucked out only being the second vehicle to arrive so we literally got the best spot in the whole place. Our own nook in the woods. We were excited at first, but then it just got hotter and hotter, and there was nothing to do. We got so bored just sitting around for hours on end, but it was probably good for resting the legs. We knew no one there so we were pretty antisocial. I'm not a very social person to begin with, unless it's a crowd I know well, so I had no desire to strike up any conversations. (Well, we did know Justin Contois, but we never saw him until the next day).

Dinner ended up being Domino's Pizza so we didn't eat much. I was glad we'd had a big lunch. Being on the other end of the field in the woods, we couldn't see or hear the other side and missed half of the pre-race briefing.When we walked over there, I noticed that NO ONE had visible tattoos except us. I thought that was weird and worried it would make us stand out. I was also worried about my bib number which was given to me based on my Ultrasignup ranking. UGH. Sometimes that's so inaccurate, especially mine. If you look at it, most of my races aren't ultras, but my ranking makes me look fast. There was a very brief period of time when I was fast, but those days are LONG gone. Nothing puts a target on you more than a 101 bib number, based on rank, that started at 100 for the women. Cringe. Haha. Luckily, I am really good at only focusing on MY race when I do 50Ks. I might get nervous about being passed near the end, but I always run my own race for the majority of it. Too easy to go out too fast and die later.

With a really early race start in the dark, we were up before 5am. I didn't sleep well in the tent since my mat really isn't that comfortable. I tossed and turned. I woke up really nervous and rushed. We had coffee, bagels w/peanut butter, used the bathroom then hit the start line. I was thankful to be hiding in the dark. Ryan was way less nervous than me. He was feeling pretty fit and ready, although we were both worried about the heat. Luckily, no one at the race was ready for temps in the '80s so it was an even playing field weather-wise. I hugged Ryan and wished him good luck then stepped into the crowd at the start. 

The race immediately starts with a climb...a climb that lasts over 4 miles. The first 3-ish are up a dirt road which was good so we could spread out. I just got into a rhythm and stuck with it. I noticed a lot people walking immediately which made me nervous. If it's runnable, I run it, unless I need to take a break to eat something. I'm just not into the walking when unnecessary so I started passing people already. I wondered if these people knew something I didn't, but it ended up being fine. I didn't walk a step until 11 miles in. I saw a few fast women move on ahead early on and ran behind a group of 3 women for probably the first mile and a half before moving ahead. I had no idea where I stood in women's field at that point, but I would turn out to stay in that exact spot the entire rest of the way.

The course finally hits the singletrack around mile 3-ish. These faster guys had stopped there at the aid station and ended up right behind me. One of them chatted me up a bit. He was young and seemed nice... until he asked if I was Rachel's mom. (By Rachel, he meant elite runner, Rachel Spaulding, now Lemcke who was slated to possibly win the race that day). I was a little taken aback by the question at first. Did I really look that old from behind and in the dark? I told him no, but that I guess I could have been old enough if I were a young mom. The New Englander in me thought he was being a douche, but then the Southerner in me decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and that he really thought I looked like her mom. Either way, it ended up being a pretty comical story to share after the race. Of course, I had to FB stalk Rachel's mom later to see if I did look like her, and I have to say I look nothing like her, but I'm super flattered. Thanks, Will! Haha.

Those guys passed, and I climbed on. The temperature was still cool at this point, but the sun began to rise. It was a gorgeous sunrise as we ran a very loooooong downhill. There is nothing like this course here in NH. We don't have 4-5+ miles of long runnable downhills. The closest you could come around here would be the Ossipee Mountains, but even that doesn't compare. I had no idea how to run these so I didn't kill myself trying to run them. While I think that was really smart on my part for this particular day, knowing it was going to get hot out, now that I know the course, I would be much more aggressive on those downhills if I ever did this race again. Today, conservation was key. Killing yourself early on meant paying a price once the temps got into the 80s.

I was surprised how fresh I felt coming into the 10-mile aid station. I was also surprised to see Ryan leaving the aid station. I knew that wasn't a good sign. He should have been way farther ahead. I assumed he was just being conservative for the first half. We still had over 24 miles to go! I'm not a big user of aid stations other than water and then soda in the later miles. I can't stomach much solid food. If you read my blog posts from my 2019 50Ks, you'll see how badly I suffered not being able to fuel properly. I couldn't find anything that worked for. Luckily, the only good thing that came out of my 2021 Boston Marathon was the discovery of Maurten Gels. They have been my racing savior!! Today, I brought 5 of them, along with old school S-Caps, one for each hour-ish. My fueling is super simple, but it works. I quickly filled my handheld with water and grabbed one grape (Or it was a strawberry? IDK) before heading back out. 

I was surprised to be catching and passing Jordan Chang right out of the aid station. I'd heard him tell someone at the beginning of the race he had planned negative he was passing me. Now here I was passing him. He was supposed to be fast. I thought maybe he was having a bad day already. That would turn out NOT to be the case. Haha.

I hung in near this same group of guys I'd been leapfrogging with for awhile as we topped out just near the summit of Apple Orchard. From here it was a long downhill on a dirt road to the next aid station. Most of those guys pulled far ahead. Coming into this aid station was crazy. Huge crowds! It was cool. I had forgotten to drop my headlamp at the 10 mile station so I dropped it at this one (unfortunately it never made it back to the finish line before we left so I inadvertently donated it to Dave Horton's students. haha). I filled my bottle, ate one piece of fruit then grabbed a pop-tart piece to go and headed right back out. As soon as I got into the woods, I tried to eat one bite of the Pop-Tart. That was a no-go so it was immediately tossed. 

I quickly pulled the headlamp off my head when I saw the photographer. Haha.

Ryan was already hurting only 12 miles in.

I found myself solo for short stretch as we ran down another LOOOOONG downhill. I did finally catch up to this guy who I'd been near before. We were literally running the exact same pace without even trying so we ran together for almost all of these 5-6 miles. I'm not chatty while racing so we only talked briefly. This downhill was brutal. From the aid station I think it dropped over 3500ft! Shifting gears back to the rolling single track at the bottom of it hurt. I actually walked the short first hill to eat a gel and take an S-Cap. On this side of the ridge, you could really feel the heat building. I had no idea where I was for the longest time. I had looked at the map, but I had absolutely no reference for where I was. I quickly passed through an aid station and hit a forest service road. My running buddy had dropped off as soon as we left the downhill, but I caught up to another guy I would leapfrog with the for the next 5 or so miles. As soon as I got on the FS, I saw an orange hat up ahead. NOOOO! It was Ryan! I was catching him. That meant he was having a bad day! I was so bummed for him. I hoped that maybe he'd just stopped to use the bathroom and I wouldn't catch him. And, in fact, he did pull ahead a little. I didn't catch him for another 5 miles! This stretch of the course was tough. A lot of rollers on the FS Rd. I started to catch and pass people who had started the heat sufferfest early on. I was surprised that I was still feeling good at almost 25 miles!

Just before the next aid station, I finally caught up to Ryan at a creek. He wasn't upset but said he'd been cramping horribly since very early on and was just trying to finish. We both blew in and out of the aid station close together. He was hurting pretty badly so I caught right up to him as we began the grueling climb up to Apple Orchard Falls, about 2000ft of gain. I passed him at first... and then the heat finally got me. It was my turn. It was crazy how quickly I went from feeling good to suffering. I was suddenly dying. The climb was brutal already, but add in the midday sun (no leaf cover) and 80+ degrees, and I was done. The entire climb was a sufferfest for me. Ryan actually stayed right behind me the whole time, and about 5 guys who hadn't even been visible started to catch me. As bad as I felt, I was able to enjoy the beauty of Apple Orchard Falls...for a second. As soon as I stepped up on the first of MANY stairs, my right calf cramped for the first time ever in my life. Literally at the exact time, I heard Ryan gasp behind me as his legs cramped up, too. Luckily, I had one S-Cap left so I immediately took it. I never had another cramp. I couldn't say the same for Ryan, I could hear him yelling as each cramp happened. I honestly don't know how he even finished the race. That took a lot of mental fortitude to do that.

I was so happy to finally see the aid station again. This meant only one more brief climb before 4.5 miles of the most painful downhill I've ever done. I quickly grabbed water, a cup of ginger ale and a bite-sized pickle then bolted out of there. As I was leaving this guy named, Frank, blew through the aid station with the crowd cheering. It was impressive! He passed me, and I never saw him again after the short climb. As soon as we started the downhill, I looked back to see about 4-5 guys hot on my tail. I don't race men, but it still made me not want to get passed. I don't know how my tired legs could do it, but I hauled ass down the single-track. No one passed me! The only person I could see was Jordan Chang as he slowly gained on me. It didn't take long for him to pass me once we got on the road. And yeah, about Jordan Chang. He wasn't having a bad day. He was finishing a Promise Land DOUBLE. Haha. Amazing!

I was shocked that no one else passed me before the finish, but I did muster up some downhill speed for the last 3.5 miles because I wanted to break 6 hours. But omg, did it HURT. I was so overheated at this point and the road never ended. The squirrel mailbox never seemed to be in view. I had enough energy to curse the Confederate Flag in my head, but on replay in my head was, "Please let this end!!" My last 3 mile splits were 6:57, 6:44, 7:10. I only slowed up in the last half mile because I knew I was going to break 6 hours. 

I finally came into the field in the hot sun. All I could think about was cooling off in the creek. I came around to the finish line and there was Dave Horton with his arms outstretched for a hug as I crossed the line. I was so hot that the thought of hugging someone made me actually step away quickly. I felt badly, but I was dying. I said a quick thanks and muttered something about needing to get in the water. I kept on walking all the way to creek. It was SO cold that it took about 6 tries to get my head underwater, but it felt so good! I got right out and headed back up to say a proper thank you to Dave and grab my shorts and polo. 

So, oh yeah, you're probably wondering how I finished. Haha. I was 4th female in 5:56:52! 26th overall! I was super psyched! The day before, I didn't expect to even finish, let alone finish 4th among some young, speedy runners. Full Results

I waited for Ryan to finish. His legs were trashed, but he hadn't really been able to put in the effort to match his fitness so he actually looked fresh coming in. We went back out to the creek where we hung out with Justin Contois for awhile. It was nice catching up with him after so many years. 

We hobbled back to our campsite to get changed then hung out a little while before heading back to Lexington to the Howard Johnson. We had a great dinner at the Devil's Backbone Brewery outside on the deck. It was so beautiful there with views of fields and flowers. The view of my cute boyfriend wasn't so bad either. 😉

It didn't take long for us to crash that night. The drive back the next day wasn't horrible. Stepping out of the car to walk every time was stopped was brutal, though. Haha. The long drive definitely made the legs stiffen right up. 

Despite Ryan's race not going as he'd wanted, we still had a nice little getaway. It was a good training run for him. For me, it was a building block to finally getting back into shape for longer distances. It had been 2.5 years since I had run much over 15 miles. I just wasn't into it. Covid changed me a lot when it came to running. It got me to slow down and realize that the amount of racing I was doing was ridiculous. I enjoyed the break from longer distances, but I'm finally in a place where I want to do it again. I was in so much foot pain last year that I couldn't muster it. The break from running, coupled with nordic skiing healed all of that up so the thought of running now is a positive thing...well, except  when it comes to speed work. 😄

We've done two races since this one, so I still have a lot of catching up to do. Trying to keep these posts as just running focused, but I'm sure I'll sneak some regular life stuff into the next ones. Here's preview:

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Winter 2022


Where to begin?! Winter was super awesome this year... once it finally snowed. Every December, I'm reminded of how much shoulder season sucks. And Ryan and I learned never to book a real vacation at the end of November again. It was not fun coming back from Vegas to another month of cold weather and barely any snow. It was another month before we took our first spin at Jackson XC... when my life changed! Ok, it's not that dramatic, but it really did! I finally learned to skate ski (mostly!) and that has changed everything.

December was pretty dull and gloomy. And I was in a lot of pain. When you do stupid things like running the Boston Marathon untrained and in the wrong shoes, you get injured. 10 years ago I would have been fine. I could wing marathons with zero training and still eek out PRs, but I learned my lesson this time. The nagging ankle pain since Boston turned out to be posterior tibial tendonitis, and every step was painful. I started dreading my runs. Ryan and I had to cut a few runs short due to my pain, but like always, I pushed through it until I realized I couldn't anymore. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I still had plantar fasciitis along with this, so it was double the pain. My New Year's Resolution would be to stop running! After work on NYE, I ran a 3 mile snowshoe run through Whitaker Woods, then hung it up. It was the best decision. I didn't miss it at all. 

We got in a few good runs right before I called it quits on New Year's Day. Run in the fresh snow on Tamworth roads, Mt Willard to make some new memories for Ryan and Bear Brook.

By this time, the snow had fallen and trails were groomed. We had season passes to Jackson XC this year so it was finally time for me to skate ski. It was easier said than done. I'd really never picked it up the year before. I tried, but I had pretty cheap gear. Old combi boots and skis literally child sized. No joke. I paid $25 for them at the ESSC ski sale in 2019 when I thought I'd pick it right up no problem. I tried maybe 4 times before I gave up. In 2021, I kept trying. Ryan found me a pair of really nice race skis for free last year, but for some reason I couldn't ski on them. My ankles literally fell inward. I could skate a few steps then my heels would literally fall onto the ground inside the skate. I was SO frustrated, but I kept trying them. I kept saying that I literally couldn't ski in them. He tried to figure it out, but there seemed to be no explanation. Meanwhile, this continual improper form is what caused the plantar fasciitis. I was gripping so hard with my toes and feet to stay on the ski that I fucked it up. Done. PF for the rest of the year. The last ski of last season, I went back to my old "kid" skis, and I could suddenly do it. I figured the other skis were just too advanced for me or something.

So this year, I went back to the kid skis. It was insane the amount of effort I had to put in to ski in these. They were so soft and my feet wobbled on the downhills. My first out-and-back on Boggy Brook took over 52 minutes (I would cut that time in half by the end of the season). I was getting an insane workout, but ideally, I shouldn't have been putting in that much effort. So that became frustrating, too. My technique was terrible. I thought I was the worst skate skier ever. But, at the same time, I fucking loved it. Ryan and I both became addicted to skate skiing this winter. I kept trying and thought I was improving so I figured I could ski fine in the nice skis now. Nope. Couldn't ski a step. Wanted to cry. Hung them up. Back to the small skis. I must have looked ridiculous trying to make these skis work, but on the bright side, by the end of January, I was super fit. I suddenly had muscles I'd never had before, and I couldn't get enough exercise. Most days were doubles of xc skiing followed by some type of "backcountry" skiing (quotes because real backcountry skiing was basically nada this year.).

Finally, by the end of January, I was talking to Ryan about how wobbly my boots were and how I noticed my ski track bowed out on my left leg instead of being straight. I also said I couldn't skate downhill because it felt like I was going to fall due to the wobbling. That didn't seem right to him so at home we pulled the skis out with the boots to get a better look at them. First the combi boots on the kid skis. Ryan realized that the boot moved back and forth on the binding easily, and the skis were way too soft and short for me. Then we put the boot on the "new" skis. How stupid did we feel? My combi boots were for NNN bindings. The new ones were SNS!!! OMG. How did we not realize this a year ago. No wonder I couldn't ski on these skis. I had the wrong boots for the bindings. Being ignorant of the gear was the cause of my plantar fasciitis!! I was so happy and angry at the same time. I was happy to figure it out, but so mad at myself for being so dumb!

Anyway, we had just bought Ryan an entire new skate set-up so I didn't want to spend more money so soon so I hit up ebay and found a pair of SNS boots in my size. They are absolutely hideous, but they did the trick. My first time using the proper set up was on fresh groomed powder at Roberts Farm, and it was amazing!! I would have been struggling in the old skis and boots, but  I was finally having fun. 

Me posing in my new, ugly skate boots

Skate skiing got so much more awesome after this. I worked hard to finally get it down, and I'm close. There's some little technique I'm not getting, and another woman at Jackson XC who saw me ski wants to give me a lesson at the beginning of next season. 

I LOVED skate skiing so much. Ryan and I spent nearly every day we could up in Jackson all winter. I never wanted it to end! We ended up entering the Long Haul Loppet 21K Race, something I never thought I'd be able to do at the beginning of the season. Conditions weren't great, especially for the 4+ miles uphill on the Hall Trail, but I finished right at my goal of under 2 hours. 1:59:30. 5th female. Over the course of the season, I nordic skied over 400 miles and Ryan did over 500 miles. It was hard to watch it end, but I guess it was inevitable with another low snow year. I can't wait for next season. I am the fittest I've been in a long time which helped switching back to running again. It only took a few runs to get used to it again. 

Winter weekends meant a lot of driver's ed for John in Ossipee so sometimes Ryan would go ahead to Jackson to ski and we'd meet up later for another ski of some sort. Came back to my car to find this on it from Ryan. 💓

One of my last skate skis. Finally got out to Hall Ledge

Unlike last year, we got very little backcountry skiing in. Conditions mostly sucked. I was lucky to hit the Sherburne Ski Trail a decent amount and have one of those days be the most amazing powder. My quads were dying since I was in the backseat, but it was seriously amazing conditions. Hit up Wildcat once. Cranmore twice. A lot of King Pine since we have season passes there. Had one great day at Hypnosis Glade, also fun powder. Thought I was going to die in the fresh deep snow at Maple Villa Glade. Got up there and realized I had no idea how to ski in fresh deep snow. Made it down but not without some panicking. Haha. I was able to practice this more later on on the Sherby and in the great conditions one day at Bretton Woods. Ryan and I did mostly lift serv and hit some fresh powder moguls. All of things he'd been trying to help me with finally clicked. I finally understood what he meant! So hoping to for better snow next year. 

Cranmore ski. We didn't realize Ryan had accidentally picked up one of my poles when I took this.

In addition to all of that, we did a 4 event skimo race series at Mt Abram, put on by our friend, Jesse Wall, of TruStrength Athletics. This is something I really enjoyed a lot even though the weather was crazy in some way every single race. The first one was -7 degrees, and I literally froze the tips of my thumbs. The "snow" was basically ice so it was really challenging. The first two races were around 5 miles, the third was over 8 miles, and the last one was over 10 miles. I was around 3 hours for the last two races. Great endurance workout!! Especially since I'm in the Heavy Metal Division. I ended up winning that division for the women, but only by default. Haha. Ryan was in 3rd for the series going into the 4th race, but he had tweaked his glute while bowling the weekend before, and with his goal race, the Tuckerman Inferno, the following week, he DNFd after the first climb. Definitely the right decision since he was in peak condition for the Inferno.

While heavy metal is slow, it's a freakin' grind. I was cooked by the end of the last two races. I love this stuff, though, and I want to get better next year. I will never be a great downhill skier, but as soon as I can actually ski downhill in the new skis I bought from Ski the Whites, I'll be able to move quite a bit faster. I can't wait to do these races again next year.

After the frost nip at the first race.

Ryan in a shirt with him on it.

Post-race lunch at Mr. Pizza

One of the few photos of me, and I'm wearing a mask. Haha.

All winter Ryan had been training for the Tuckerman Inferno. He wanted to do really well there this year. He put in a lot of work strength training and hitting every sport in the Pentathlon. He even did a practice run of all 5 events one day. It was pretty awesome watching him transform his body into this powerhouse of muscle over 6 months. He was so ready for this. I crewed for him just like last year. There isn't much to do, but the little things made a difference. 

Unfortunately, the snow situation was very grim, but Great Glen Trails was able to just pull it off for the fat bike and nordic ski legs. Ryan's brand new race skis suddenly became his rock skis, but it was worth it because the nordic leg is what got him back in the running after finishing 20th on the fat bike (this is combined for solo and relay so it's not really accurate since relay people don't have to add transition times to their splits). His fat bike is SO heavy that he was in the back within the first half mile of the start. But he's become such a great skate skier that he made up a lot of time there. His biggest gain would be on the snowshoe run where he would finish 3rd, only behind two relay runners, and his transition time added on 2 minutes. So it was here that people were breaking, but he left the transition strong. I followed him out to run up to the ravine to watch him ski part of the last leg; I couldn't even keep up with him. He ended up passing two people who had been ahead of him the whole race. 

Not every day that you get seeded next to an Olympian (Kris Freeman)

I never even noticed he still had his helmet on. Haha. He didn't realize it until a half mile in so he ditched it.

Once he got to the bowl, I was able to keep track of his place. I couldn't believe it when I realized he was next to ski down and only 2 solo skiers (plus the first woman, Josie Fisher, who is an amazing athlete!) were ahead of him! I couldn't believe it! He'd done it. He was going to finish 3rd Tuckerman!!! He'd worked so hard for this and had an awesome race. 20th to 3rd! Full Results

This was such an important moment for him after so much bullshit and chronic injury over the last year and a half. Watching him struggle last year was hard. His ex-wife almost broke him, but he finally let it fuel his fire. His huge fuck you to her and anybody who believed and supported her. He is finally out of that rut, physically and mentally. 

Ryan's Mug Shot. Get it? Haha.

Seems like so much good stuff this winter! And don't worry. I haven't forgotten about John! He's just doing his own thing most of the time now, although we get to spend a lot of time in the car together with him driving. He turned 16 in February!! He finally finished driver's ed in March, but he still hasn't gotten his license because he's 6 hours short on night driving. I think it's going to take until the end of May at this point. He's not super motivated to get his license because his car is the Kia Soul which, according to him, "just isn't cool." 😄 It's also a standard, and he's still uncomfortable with it. So he's procrastinating. Like the opposite of me when I turned 16. I got my license that day! I told him to ask his dad to buy him a car. It's the least he could do. The only problem is that we don't know where his dad is. He's on foot somewhere walking across the country. I honestly think he would buy John a car if John asked. He has the money. He did help take John to driver's ed every week. Put off his trip until that was done. It really is the least he could do since he doesn't pay for anything else (although he paid for half of driver's ed after I asked). 

Anyway, we actually had a huge snow storm on John's birthday. John invited his friends to join him for skiing at Cannon. It was long, rough drive there, but we made it. John and his friends skied the entire time. I went out for one run, but the conditions were not fun for me. Fresh powder that was being blown off of the ice underneath by the wind. So I skinned up to the summit then hit the bar for lunch. The ride home was also sketch and long. Ryan made burgers for us and then we had cake. Pretty fun day for John.

John ended up finally getting Covid-19 3 weeks ago. It started over the weekend and since he mostly stayed in his room, we never caught it from him. When he did come out, interaction was brief. Once he had it, he wore an N95 when he came out of his room. Ryan and I still haven't had it. We had it in the house, and we still didn't get it. I don't know how we continue to dodge the bullet.

Another awesome thing that happened over the winter was that I got my car back!! My Kia Sorento finally got its new engine in February after sitting at Nucar Kia for 4 months. It took almost 6 weeks to hear back from Kia that they would replace the engine for free under the recall. And then it had to be shipped from S Korea so it took awhile. I was SO psyched to get my car back!!

Winter was a blast, but way too short. So it was back to running. It felt so awkward since it was almost 2 months of no running. I'd done one 3 mile test run the beginning of February, and that was a huge nope. The next run at the end of February felt so foreign to me. My legs felt like they'd never run before, but my lungs were bored. I did a very slow comeback through the 3rd week of March, then just started hitting it pretty hard. Cardiovascularly, I was ready for that, but the legs took a bit to catch up. I'm pretty pleased with how quickly I got back to a decent place in just a month. I owe it all to nordic skiing for sure. New muscles, so much fitness. It's just building up the distance that is going to be tough, and I'm having to do it quickly. So far, so good, though.

1.5 weeks ago, Ryan and I made the decision to race the Northern Nipmuck 16 mile Trail Race. I was not ready for that distance, but I pushed through and finished first female. I haven't pushed like that in a really long time, and it hurt. Ryan finished 2nd overall. On the way home, we stopped in Worcester for the best thai food I have ever had. 

Time for random photos! Dogs and us!

Photo Fred Ross took of Ryan when he randomly ran into him on Mt Pierce

Flowers from Ryan

John driving Ryan's Jeep

Sweat earsicle

Ryan's prison tattoo cover-up. Haha.

Valentine's flowers from Ryan

Phoenix in her new winter jacket

Mt Isreal. My first mountain run in over 2 months

Couldn't stop laughing when I saw this one.

Kevin Tilton collage that I made from Ledge Brewing. He didn't know I was taking them. Haha.

Mount Pierce run

We rollerbladed 18 miles on the Nashua River Trail then ran in Beaver Brook. Margaritas and tacos after

Mt Chocorua run. Mixed bag of conditions that day.

Heavenly Hill

Explored some new-to-us trails in Tamworth

Cooking the parasitic worm in beans. That's what the kielbasa looked like anyway.

Might be racing again soon so the blog might actually make its comeback as a running blog! I'll never race as much as I used to again, but I'm finally ready to throw a few more on the schedule this year.