Manchester City Marathon

Manchester City Marathon

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 New Bedford Half Marathon- USATF-NE GP#2

After the double race weekend of the trail race in Rhode Island and the snowshoe race in Vermont, I was a hurting puppy. I needed some days off from running completely. I still had hope that New Bedford could be a good race for me. That faded over the week until Saturday when I had false optimism about the race. And in the end, it would be a disaster. Oh well. I think the days off were needed anyway. My glutes and hamstrings were killing me, and I was just tired. Too much racing and driving. It ended up being good timing for some zeros since Tuesday we were slammed with nearly 2 feet of snow. The runs I did do were slow on purpose. It was a good recovery week. Just too bad it ended on a low note. Haha.

Monday, March 13, 2017- Like I said zero day, but I planned ahead for Tuesday's impending doom of Storm Stella and brought my stuff for the pool at Purity Spring. Slept all night...then second week in a row. A call at 0545! Of all mornings when I wanted to get out on time so I could workout and beat the storm. Actually lucked out and the patient signed off. We got back to the base right at 7am.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017- Of course there's a blizzard on a Tuesday!! Always a Tuesday or a Thursday. Grr! But I rushed out of work to Purity Spring to get a quick aqua jog in the pool. The flurries had already started  by the time I got there, but it was light. I had just enough time. No one was there except one other woman so I had some room in the pool to move around. It was weird. I've been able to put that 911 call out of my mind for the most part, thankfully, but the second I started aqua jogging, all of a sudden, the heartbeat on the monitor just popped into my head. That was it. I don't know why just that or why then, but it quickly faded and I moved on to other thoughts. The 45 minutes seemed to pass quickly, and the snow outside the window was getting heavier!

I had arrived before the desk was manned, so I stopped back by to give the woman my punch card. I basically got scolded for arriving with a punch card before 8am, and then she said that I was lucky no one showed up for class that day or I wouldn't have been able to use the pool. I was a little confused and said I didn't know there were classes on Tuesday mornings. She said, "Yes, every other morning during the week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday." Haha. She apparently didn't know what day it was, but I didn't correct her. Just stated that I was trying to beat out the storm and figured it wouldn't be busy. If there had been a class, I would have gotten out of the pool. I was a little annoyed since that did cost me $10 for the one visit to the gym/pool with only one other user, and I was now being reprimanded for coming in before 8am. Geez. She's lucky I decided to be an honest person today instead of like what I did at the Planet Fitness in Waltham. Haha. Ok, maybe that last sentence shouldn't be followed with a "haha." Oops.

The roads were already getting slippery on the drive home through East Madison, but I made it with just a quick stop at the Community Market for a few things. This storm was going to be nuts, so I knew I wouldn't be going back out again until the next day for work. John's dad had already messaged me asking if he could go ahead and leave John at the house. That was cool since I was on my way anyway, so John was there when I got home. This is his kind of day! Not having to go anywhere!! Haha.

Trying to pet Spot when I got home

Phoenix was jealous

Only the beginning of Stella
Chill the snow dog
I decided to go ahead and get my upper body and abs workout in, then showered. As I've said before, I am not into house projects, but I have been wanting to fix up the mess in my kitchen for awhile now and decided today was a good day to do it. Silly me didn't think to take a before pic until after I had already started emptying the shelves. It looked WAY worse than this. So bad.

I cracked open a beer and spent about 2 hours rearranging that whole thing. Once I was done, I realized I no longer needed both of those racks so I moved on to my dreaded bookshelf project.

And I don't have a before picture of the bookshelf, but this is what it ended up with...

It's not a bookshelf technically, but the one we had was gross, ugly and falling apart. I happen to like these kitchen racks for shelving.

When I was done there was no rest. The snow was coming down so hard and fast that it was over a foot by this point. I had to get out and snowblow to keep up with it. If I tried to wait, my snowblower would never be able to pick up almost 2ft of snow at once. It was slow enough with a foot of snow already and took me FOREVER to get through it. By the time I made it to the other side of the driveway, I kid you not, 4 inches had already fallen back over what I had started with. I couldn't keep up at all, but it was still better than nothing. Took me 2.5 hours and I didn't get to part of the driveway by the house. I was exhausted! It's not just standing behind this thing that moves for you. You still have to push the stupid thing. Plus, I had to shovel still and scrape whatever of the roof I could get to. When I came inside wanting to collapse, I found John hadn't completed the one job he was given to do. Sweep the house. I was so mad. After busting my ass, he started complaining about having to sweep! Well, I made sure he did even though he wasn't happy about it, cussing, complaining and sighing the whole time. It was actually hard to hold back the laughter. You'd think I'd forced him to poke out his eyes. Haha

I relaxed for awhile, but still had to take the dogs out and do laundry before I went back out to snowblow AGAIN around 11pm so John's dad could get down the driveway to park his van for the night. The storm had actually passed and only about 4-5 more inches had fallen. I still had to shovel again to get the snowblower out, started it up...only to have the shoot where it throws the snow clog up with snow. I'd clear it; it would clog. Over and over and over!!! By this time, I had lost my shit completely. 1.5 hours and I made it 2 ft. No exaggeration. I was in a complete meltdown. Thankfully, what I had cleared earlier was enough for Bryan to get down the driveway. He pulled in with his headlights right on me. Took one look at me then told me to go inside. That he had it. Haha. Nice thing about an ex-husband is that he knows you well enough to recognize when you're losing your shit. I felt really bad because he'd just gotten off work, and it seemed like 10-15 minutes before he could get the thing going. When I last looked he was still snowblowing and shoveling. That was probably the nicest thing he's done for me since well before we even got divorced. I was sure to thank him the next day. I was so tired. Out cold as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017- No way could I get myself up at 4:30am to run after the day before. I was so beat that I struggled all day long. The skies were clear and the day beautiful, but I was stuck at work. We had some good calls all back to back to back in the middle of the day and then nothing else the rest of the shift. I tried to write my blog post, but had trouble concentrating and took too long.

Thursday, March 16, 2017- Decided it was time to run again. I needed to fill my water jugs so ended up parking at the spring again and running from there. This time towards Center Sandwich instead of Wonalancet and back. I had a loop planned originally but then realized those were probably dirt roads that would still be covered in snow/ice. I didn't want to run in microspikes today so I ran an out on 113A and 113 to Upper Rd and then back. I ran easy, rarely looking at my watch. It was a beautiful day out, but this run was hilly, and I was still really sore and stiff. Starting to think New Bedford was going to be bad. Looked like the weather was going to be awful, too! 45mph winds and 3-5in of snow!! What?! My goal race now looked bleak. My run was 10.4 miles total in 1:21:23. 718ft of elevation gain. I wasn't too psyched about how I felt. It was as if I had taken no rest at all. My quads and glutes felt exactly the same. Could I have high hamstring tendonosis? Possibly. Time will tell, but that's what I meant in my last post. I might already be injured! This pain really came about after the Granite State Snowshoe Championship Race. I was sore from my long run the Thursday prior to the race, but this really came on after the race.

Once back at my car, I filled up 23 gallons worth of water. In the process, I ended up slightly dropping a jug and spilling water all over my legs and hands. By the time I finished filling the jugs, my hands were in agony from the cold. Someone had pulled in the lot just as I was finishing so I couldn't change clothes there so I drove with my hands practically inside the heating vents to warm them. The thawing was excruciating. I parked at a trailhead to put on some dry clothes and then drove on to the Tamworth Lyceum for a latte and a blueberry thing. Haha.

It was home from there and into a hot shower. Ah. I didn't stop there, though. It was right back out to Tin Mountain to ski with Spot and Phoenix. I was originally hoping to pack down my trail race course (shameless plug here!!!!! Dirty Girl Trail Race!), but hardly any of the trails had been touched. The ones that had were either by another skier whose track was way too narrow for me or a few snowshoe tracks that were hard to ski in. Most of it was untouched and what wasn't I still broke trail alongside of it. That was tough! I made it 2 miles in over an hour. I was pouring in sweat. It was an even harder workout for the dogs, especially Phoenix who still sunk into the snow the whole way.

Thursday is normally my day to myself, but John had asked if he could come home that night. Even though I wanted the quiet, I also wanted him there, so he came home right after I did. I still wasn't done, though. I still had to get in my upper body and abs workout. After that, I was SO done and sat down the rest of the night watching something on tv I can't remember. It definitely wasn't basketball. I hate basketball...and I played it for 10 years and got two varsity letters...for riding the bench. One of the worst experiences of my childhood. Seriously. Too stubborn to quit, but I've never liked basketball since except for shooting hoops on our own "court."

Friday, March 17, 2017- Couldn't help myself with a slightly offensive post on Facebook. Haha. But it is SO true:

I'm pretty sure I only got unfriended by one person...whom I was about to unfriend myself. So that worked out. Haha. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the fun of St Patrick's Day. It's just a pet peeve of mine when people refer to themselves as Irish, Italian, French, etc. when they're AMERICAN. They may be of 100% Irish or whatever descent, but don't call yourself Irish if you weren't born there or don't hold dual citizenship. For someone like me to say that would imply I grew up in mid-80s Ireland when the economy sucked, The Troubles were ongoing in Northern Ireland and emigration was at all time high. I am not Irish. I'm an American who, in the 1980s, lived in a middle class (then later upper class) neighborhood. My parents both had great jobs, and I went to private school. Big difference. Celebrate your heritage! By all means!! It's good to keep that going, but don't identify with something you are not. And then don't get your panties in a wad when someone like me writes it on FB. And this just proves that I'm right! It's basically on a shirt! Haha

Anyway, it was actually pretty enjoyable for the most part. I actually liked most of the responses I got!

John's dad picked him up then I went out for another slow, easy run through Cranmore Shores. Still sore, but not as bad. 5.8 miles in 45:32. Some of the roads were slow going since they were snow covered still, but I didn't care. Not breaking any CRs today. Once again didn't even look at my watch.

Came home, showered, then packed up our ski stuff for $17 day at Wildcat!!! It's our favorite mountain, but it's usually for rich people, not us. But on $17, here come the locals! Haha. Every time we've been able to go to Wildcat, the weather and conditions have been phenomenal. Today was no exception. I picked up John from Frontside Grind then drove up to the notch. The wind was whipping over the Presidentials, but the sunny skies won out. Even with the wind, I was never cold once. It was perfect!! John was so excited.

The first run down Polecat was tough. I wasn't used to skiing in so much snow so I had to get used to it. On the second run, it was way more fun, but my quads were already on fire!! Polecat is 2.5 miles long and took over 10 minutes to get down. I'm not into speed. Skiing still terrifies me. Fun is a green slope at a slow pace. Haha. After the 2nd run, John said he was ready to go down the other side. That meant blue trails. So, blue trails at Wildcat are like black diamonds at the other mountains around here. I don't do those. No thanks. But John really, really wanted to, so I reluctantly agreed. Oh my god. I was scared to death the whole time. It was awful. Haha. John had to keep waiting on me. By the time we got to the bottom, I told him I was never doing that again. Hahaha. It was time to take a break so into the lodge we went. Yes, of course, it was beer time. Pig's Ear Brown for me. A drink for John and some chicken fingers. So healthy! Now, where to sit? Even though signs clearly state no bag storage on this floor, every single table was covered in people's things! Why do people need to bring in all of that stuff?! That's something I'll never understand. No need for it. We've never once brought in a bag to a ski lodge. Put on your boots at your car and carry your skis over. What more do you need?! My wallet, phone and keys go in my pocket. Obviously, I must not be meant to be downhill skier. Haha. So in trying to find a place to sit, I spot two empty seats. Of course the floor under those seats was covered in bags and shoes, but this isn't elementary school. No saving seats. Just as we're sitting down, I see it's right next to Mick Arsenault! Funny! He met his dad there to ski for the morning. I talked to him for awhile until they left. We finished our drinks and food and then headed back out to ski some more.

As we were getting on the lift, John said he really wanted to do the blue trail again. I told him I couldn't do it. It terrified me. I could see the disappointment in his face. So I finally had to make one of those big parental steps. Let him go alone. For me, this wasn't as simple as letting go. He's responsible; that wasn't the issue. This was letting my kid go after the incident I had recently had to go through at work. Skiing is a high-risk sport. So many injuries. Deaths. But I know John loves it, and I didn't want to hold him back. We got to the top. He went right. I went left. I tried not to worry and just enjoy myself. Most of the people had left so I had the trail to myself most of the time. It was really fun, but as I got to the bottom, I started to look around for John, and there he was. Arriving at the same time as me. Phew. Then he said, "That was so much fun! Let's do one more!" How can you say no? You just can't. My quads were trashed and screaming, but back on the lift we went. Absolutely no line. Once again at the top, we parted ways. Again, alone on the slope for the 2.5 miles down. When I got to the bottom, I didn't see John, nor did I see him on his way down. A little bit of panic started to form until he popped out of the crowd by the racks. He had beaten me down. Haha!

It was time to ski back over to the overflow lot where we parked. John was so happy! That's when I realized that next winter, it might be time to just buy him a season pass to Wildcat/Attitash. If he's ok with skiing by himself, we can afford it! John said he was game. Right now, it's "only" $400 for a Peaks Pass (7 mountains total) for a junior. I talked to Bryan about it, and I think we're going to do it. A pass for me or Bryan is out of the question. Just not affordable. But between us, we can pull off a pass for John.

John dabbing
John was pretty much exhausted and fell asleep on the way home and then for another hour or so when we got home. I got in my upper body and abs workout. I had really worked myself out these last two days and hoped it wouldn't affect my race on Sunday. Eek. The weather still looked terrible anyway, so I had already thrown my goal time out the window.

Trying to get myself psyched up for New Bedford with my team glass. It didn't work.
Saturday, March 18, 2017- An absolutely beautiful day...that we spent most of in the car. It was kind of shame really. Sunny and warm. I had some regrets about driving down to Newport, RI for the night. The weather was still showing snow overnight and in the morning, so I thought staying down there the night before was a good idea. Turned out to be unnecessary. It made for an easy morning before the race, but it was also a wasted day.

We didn't leave until 11am, so we still had time to hang out at home. I got on the treadmill for a FLAT, slow 3 miles and stupidly felt this false sense of optimism. I felt great! I had this feeling that things were going to go well and I would  have a good race. Usually when this happens, it comes true because a lot of it is mindset. But for me, it would be wrong. Dead wrong. And, duh, of course I felt good. I ran the 3 miles in 23:35, a 7:52/mi avg pace. Easy. Oh well, at least I did go into it feeling as positive about it as I could.

This happened along the way. I think I've driven over 30,000 miles in the last year. No wonder my ass hurts.
I had to make a stop in Saugus on the way down, but it only took about 45 minutes before we were back on the road. John wanted to go to Monkey Joe's again, so we stopped there for him to play. I took the dogs out on a road that was closed on our end, so that made it nice to let them off leash for a short bit.

Spot rolling in the snow
I went back in Monkey Joe's and found John having a blast. We only stayed about an hour this time, but he was pouring in sweat and worn out by then. It was back on the road to Newport. We went the longer way around and got to drive over the bridges. I'll still never forget the first time I drove over these bridges in 1993 when I was 17. I remember I was listening to some really calm music tape as I looked out the window thinking this was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. Funny how those tiny little moments stay with you. I've since seen many more beautiful places, but it was still a memory I hold on to.
Phoenix's perch during the drive
Finally, we arrived at the Motel 6. Funny, I didn't remember it being so seedy the last time I stayed there in 2007, but now, I could see why it was so cheap. Eek. Just as we arrived, so did 3 police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance for an overdose on the second floor. Haha. Nice. John called me from the car all worried the place was on fire. I told him later it was an overdose.

The place was definitely a dive, but the room was actually really clean. The only issue I ended up having with it was that the bed halfway collapsed overnight! Hahahaha! I woke up feeling like I was rolling right, but it was so slight that I didn't think much of it until I saw the bed the next morning. Pretty funny. But seriously, no other issues besides that. We didn't go out for dinner this time around. I got Five Guys from right next door and had a beer that I brought from home. John was pretty happy there since he actually likes hotel rooms. I'd prefer to camp myself, but campgrounds aren't open right now.


I'm trying to watch tv, Chill

As you can see from all of the room pics, I was pretty bored. Haha. I did watch Marley and Me on TV and vowed not to cry at the end this time. I failed. Haha.

Sunday, March 19, 2017- New Bedford Half Marathon-

Woke up to no snow, mostly cloudy skies and wind. It wasn't so bad where we were, so I thought maybe the weather wouldn't be so bad after all. It was definitely nice having the 11am start time, so we didn't have to leave until 8:45am. I love not rushing out in the morning. The drive over was only about 35 minutes. The drive was interesting to John because he got to see a  nuclear power plant for the first time (that he can remember). He just stared at it.

*Editor's Note- It has been brought to my attention that I am mistaken. This is a coal plant. Oops. I'm a moron. Haha. Oh well. It's still cool to look at.

I decided to park on Water St right next to the Y like I have the last two years. It's just so much easier for going in and out of there. I went in to get my bib and left John in the car to get his warm stuff on. He was going to hang out with Tony Wild and Scott Mason during the race. While I'm sure he would have been fine in the car with all three dogs, New Bedford is just one of those places I wasn't comfortable with him doing that. Plus, I really like it when he can get out and walk around and actually take part in what's going on. He generally enjoys it and gets exercise at the same time. Plus, he's always hanging out with cool people. Tony is one of those cool people since he speaks John's language. John is really into manga and anime, and Tony knows all about it! They've had multiple conversations about this. It's great. Last time we saw Tony after Exeter, I told him that he and his wife needed to have kids. Haha. He is so good with them, or John, at least.

It worked out that Scott and Tony were in the Y when I messaged them so we met up, and I left John with them. Then I went out for a warm up. Where I ran for the first mile, there wasn't much wind, but when I turned around to run back up most of the last mile of the course, I hit an insane headwind. Oh boy. This was NOT good. Finished up two miles at my car. After the race, I felt like I should never even have bothered warming up. I titled it "Pointless warm up" with the description, "Should have just pounded two beers in my car instead." Notice that was in the description box...not the title, Strava users!! :) Haha. The warm up had been extremely slow, and I was feeling it in my glutes. I kind of had a bad feeling, but at the same time, I still felt like I could pull off the same time as last year. My original goal of 1:24:30 was already thrown out the window. With the wind, I thought maybe a minute slower. Once again, I was wrong. DEAD wrong.

Got to the start and made my way up to the front where the women line up only to find Ginger Reiner and Diana Bowser there. I talked to them for a bit. I think they were dreading this as much as I was. It was cold standing at the start in that wind. I was happy I had gone with the long sleeve and 3/4 tights (skirt thing) just for this part. People quickly started to file in. It was great being surrounded by a big group of fast women that I've gotten to know over the last few years. The wind was beating on us, so I knew this first mile would be nothing like my first mile the previous two years, 5:45 and 5:50. I was already feeling a sense of dread and just wanted to get this over with. I didn't have a good feeling. I was relieved when we started just to be warm, but it was right into a crazy headwind. I was struggling from the get go, but I felt strong and stayed in the group I wanted to be in with Christin and Amy and a few other women who are usually the beginning anyway. The pace felt quick, but against the wind, I knew it would be pretty slow. 6:34/mi. Ouch, but we were all in the same boat. The next 2.5 miles would be mostly climbing (with one nice downhill before the long climb up Hathaway). I felt really good here. It helped having some strong women running with me. Surprisingly, I ran this last climb to mile 3.5 my fastest ever. It was probably due to us having a bit of tailwind by this point, but, still, this climb is tough. I felt good by the time we made the left turn to start the LONG descent for over 3 miles. In 2015, this is where I hauled ass and started passing people. This year, it's where I got passed. By nearly everyone. All of the women, except Diana Bowser, just pulled ahead. Diana would the one person I would run with almost the entire way. She probably didn't know this since I was right behind her, but we were literally right together until I passed her in mile 11 or 12. She actually helped me keep going that whole race.

The 3 miles seemed to go on FOREVER. The best part was right around mile 5 when I saw John! I always, always, always love seeing him during races. I think I need to find a non-runner guy who will come to all of my races and hang out with John. Hahaha. And I don't really remember a tailwind or a headwind here. It was nice, but I guess I really wasn't speedy through these miles. I didn't feel bad, but I was comfortable in the pace I was going and didn't want to try pushing it yet. I knew what was coming and wanted to save my energy. As we approached the bottom of the hill where we take a hard left, I could see flag blowing hard to the right. That meant we were about to turn into the wind. Ugh. And sure enough we did. It was a blow. I could not run against it. My pace slowed 24 seconds for the 8th mile. This is when I started to get passed by women I beat at Amherst. It was as if I was standing still. I felt like I was giving 100% effort at this point, but I could not go any faster against that wind! Tammie Robie and Kelsey Allen went by me at the same time. I could still just barely see Amy. Christin was long gone. Mile 9 was a bit of a reprieve since we had some shelter from the wind for a good portion of it. I was still already feeling discouraged, though. I actually never looked at my watch once from mile 1 until mile 12. Not once. I knew after mile 1 that this race was going to be slow. But it got slower than slow.

Towards the end of mile 9 and the start of mile 10, you can see water out ahead of you. It was all huge white caps. It was almost like knowing you're walking into your death, but you don't stop. You just keeping going. It's inevitable. I knew it was going to be strong and thought I was prepared for it. I was not! At the turn, the wind slammed into me so hard that I felt myself get pushed backward for a split second. I wasn't prepared for THAT. I could not move! But then, all of a sudden, like within seconds, I started getting passed like crazy!!! I was like what the fuck!!! It was mostly men at first. Like I was standing still. Then women! I was seriously going ALL OUT. I didn't know how these people were running against that wind. Was it because my glutes/hammies were hurting me by this point and I just couldn't get the power to move against the wind? I'd love to use that as an excuse, but I really don't think it was that. I think a lot of it was due to my size and lack of strength (nothing to do with my soreness). The extra 5lbs probably did make a difference in that wind. Lack of leg training?Yes, I think so. I've run a lot of hills, but that's it for my legs. In the summer when I'm cranking it out on trails and mountains, my legs are considerable stronger, but right now, I honestly think my lack of strength training in that area held me back. I don't think it was particular to me just being slow or having a bad day since I never actually felt bad. I really do think it was a failure on my part to train in that area. At the time, I couldn't figure it out. I was getting so pissed at being passed in droves. It seemed like Diana, Tammie, with whom we were slowly catching up with, and I were the ONLY ones being affected by the wind. I started to get so pissed off and so frustrated. Like I said, I didn't look at my watch until mile 12. I didn't even look at my splits until later that night. I couldn't bring myself to do it. 7:29 and 7:18 for miles 10 and 11. OMG. I'm so glad I didn't look or I would have been even more upset. There was a slight break in the wind during mile 12 so I was at least able to bring my split under 7 minutes. Woohoo. 6:54. When I saw the clock roll just past 1:20 at mile 12, I cringed inside and thought. I may not break 1:27 minutes!! Funny to think that I was horrified by that when I ended up not even breaking 1:28!!! I didn't feel bad in mile 13, surprisingly, but I still couldn't run against that wind. 7:28 for mile 13. Once again. Glad I didn't look.

Finally, the turn at KFC. Downhill. It seemed longer than I remembered, but I think that was because I was mentally all done. I could see Scott Mason in the distance so I looked a little harder until I could see Tony with John. I was so beat. I managed to wave and smile at John just before the turn onto the final stretch. That's why I was still smiling in Scott's pic. Not sure I could have mustered a smile otherwise.

The turn to the finish was amazing. The headwind at the start was now a strong-ass tailwind to finish in. Although, it's probably not accurate due to a short segment, Strava has me listed as second (along with Apryl S) for the second fastest. Hahaha. Pretty funny to see that after a shitty, horrible, awful, etc race.

Coming into the finish
I couldn't believe the clock when I saw it. Over 1:28!!! My time would be 1:28:09! I was horrified. I came through the finish not too far behind Tammie so when we saw each other, we both were like, "That was awful." I turned around to see Deb Slason right behind me. She said the same thing. Tammie already had the right attitude of oh well, gotta let that one go. I wish I could have had the same attitude. I didn't even want to take a medal, I was so horrified by my time. Walking through the shoot, I was cooling down quickly. I just wanted to get to John and tried to walk down to where he was, but it was blocked off. so I had to walk up a block. Happy I found empty porta potties where I stopped for a minute, but as soon as I stepped out, the cold wind hit me and I was COLD. John seemed so far away, and I almost turned around to go get clothes first, but I really wanted to get to him. I was freezing cold by the time I over to him. Bob Jackman was there so I talked him for a minute about the Hoka Hupana's I was wearing since he almost wore his, as well. I was happy with them during the race. I think they're perfect up to that distance. Tony looked really cold. I felt bad he was out there in that cold for so long. John looked perfectly fine. Haha.

John and I started to walk back. I was frozen by this point and ended up having to borrow John's "Kenny" jacket for the walk back to the car. I was dying. Thank goodness he had that jacket. Once back at the car, I changed clothes, but could not get warm. I was shivering uncontrollably. Just could not get warm. I was glad the Moby Dick Brewing Co was literally right there. It was so warm inside that I was comfortable again within minutes.

I met Tony, Scott and Mike Daniels there. They had two rounds, while I just had one. I couldn't stomach another one. Their beers were not good. Yuck. The place just opened last week, though, so they'll improve. I'd definitely give them another shot to impress me.

We went from there to Freestone's at Scott's suggestion. Fitz and Michelle and some of the BAA people were at the bar so we said a quick hello, then got a table. We were starving. Better beer was had here. Troegs Java Stout. The food was great, and we ended up having a good time. I only had the one beer, surprisingly, but I think I was just so full!

Scott and Mike. Tony was there but out making a phone call. I love how John put his face in the shot.
Scott and Tony were parked in an opposite direction so we said our goodbyes. Mike just happened to be parked almost right behind me, so we walked back together, then said goodbye. I took the dogs out briefly, then hit the road. John had walked about 3 miles during the course of the race, so he fell asleep for hours on the ride home. I took 93 through Boston since it was shorter, but a really bad accident happened just as we got into the city. I was lucky to make it to the Ted Williams Tunnel before the traffic started to back up and took 1A instead.

The ride home was tough for me because it was when I could finally reflect on my race. The first time I allowed myself to even think about it. It immediately brought me to tears. I had had such a bad race. And, yes, the wind affected everyone...but not the same. I was one of the ones who just couldn't handle it. I was so down about it the whole drive. Pissed about all of those people passing me. I felt like I just sucked so bad. I had two friends say the exact same thing to me; that I was being too hard on myself. They were probably right, but this one hit me really hard. To have it go from my goal race to a total shit show is like a punch in the gut from my own fist. I knew my time would be slower than I originally wanted, but by over 3.5 minutes?! The wind was a huge factor, but I think it was my inability to power against the wind due to lack of strength that made it so bad. So really, it was a rough day, but it's my own fault. But, then I think. How can I possibly fit in leg work without getting too fatigued? This is what happens EVERY time I try to add leg work in. My legs end up overly tired and sore too often before a race. Once again, it's like I should cut back on racing so that I can cross train and build strength so that my races are better, but if I cut back on racing, I miss out on a lot of good races and the chance to be social. So it's like, what do I give up? For starters, it IS the racing... to a point, since I backed out of the marathon. That weekend will now be race-free. The weekend after will be a fun race. I think that after the 15K on April 1st, I'll add in the leg work and see how it goes. I can't have a New Bedford 2017 happen to me again. It was bad. So bad. I sucked! But it's changing my perspective on things, so it has its positive.

Brain Spewing

October 2014- In my innocence of newfound happiness and becoming fast just by running in the mountains
This past Sunday was the New Bedford Half Marathon; it was a total shit show. It was tough for EVERYBODY out there racing on Sunday, but for me, personally, it wasn't just tough, it was a total disaster. So much of one, in fact, that it's changed my mindset for the rest of the year. I'm done with the road running for as much as I can be. I'm still going to do the whole USATF-NE Grand Prix and a few short road races here and there, but, like I said before, my schedule is almost all trail/mountain racing this year anyway. So my training runs are also going to be trail/mountain running for the most part. I'll still have to hit the treadmill at work on Mondays and before work on Wednesdays. I also really enjoyed the track workouts last year, so as soon as that oval is clear of snow, I'll be back at it. Other than that, I'll be in the woods. It all should have been obvious, but I was in denial. The more I thought about things on the way home from New Bedford, the more I realized that all of this road running is ridiculous and not sustainable for my body. I've been injured, then on the verge of injury and now on the verge again. My current state does have more to do with the insane racing I've been doing, including snowshoe racing, which I think did me in, but in between all of that, I was out there pounding out fast miles on the road, only to find myself getting slower and slower. Thinking back over the last 2.5 years, I've had nothing but a gradual decline in speed. That doesn't mean I haven't had some kick-ass performances, but in general, I'm fading. That's when the light bulb lit up. I was my fastest when I ONLY ran trails and mountains. My half marathon PR of 1:22:36  was obtained without a single bit of road training. NONE. And I wasn't in fucking pain or tired! My average mileage a week then wasn't consistent because I didn't look at, nor did I care. But looking now, it was probably 40ish miles a week. Granted, I then did jump on the road and had an amazing 11 months of success...BUT most of that running was racing on the road. I don't know. I guess I can't say for sure that I will get faster going back to the trails, but I can tell you that I was injured at the end of that 11 months, then nearly injured a year later...and nearly injured now. It's like a normal thing for road runners to be injured. Par for the course. Well, I'm veering off course. Last summer when I was finally able to recover from VCM and get in the mountains, my entire body was stronger and I came back into road racing season in August faster and fitter. This can't be a coincidence! I've just gotten too caught up in the road running game of high miles and trying to keep up with Jones's. I'm just not built for that. Even with the core and upper body strength I've been doing, I feel weak and flabby...and I hurt. That isn't to say I don't love road running!! I was a roadie LONG before I became a trail runner. Not high mileage or competitive, but I loved a good road run. And I absolutely LOVE the road running crowd here in New England. Such a great group of people. Supportive no matter which team you're on. At New Bedford, I was lined up with women from CMS, Craft, Whirlaway, Millennium, GMAA, Western Mass, and we were all talking like a big group of friends. It's changed my perspective so that I've found the trail running crowd to be far more elitist and critical of each other in my experience these past 2 years. But I LOVE trail racing. It's where I'm happiest and strongest.

So, anyway, before I went off into blah, blah, blah land, the point of this was supposed to be that I'm changing my mindset. I backed out of the marathon I had registered for in April. I can't do it. I just can't. As beat up as I am right now, I'll never recover from it. All of the fun races I have planned wouldn't be as fun. I'd be piece of crap for who knows how long. The amount of relief I felt when I made this decision on Sunday was huge. It's the 100% right decision. The marathon I was registered for was Rhode Races Newport. They actually offer deferments or transfers to any of their other races within a year of the original race. I could have chosen another marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5k, but, instead, I chose their Wine Run. Haha. The money was already spent, so I figured why not do something fun? These events are crazy expensive, so it's not something I would normally do. But the money was already sunk, and I couldn't get it back. So, yeah, I just went from a road marathon to a 3-mile run through a vineyard. Hmm. No brainer on which one sounds way more fun to me. Haha.

So once I made this decision, I was able to look past April 15th (no, not my taxes, the date of that marathon haha) and realize I was actually going to enjoy myself this year. I wasn't going to be recovering at the end of April and May. I'll actually be able to train for Cranmore and maybe have a good race at Sleepy Hollow. Hopefully, I'll go into the 50-miler I'm doing at the end of May and actually not DNF this time, but if I do, fuck it. When I do jump back into some road races, they are going to feel great and not dreaded. Am I going to worry about all of those long road runs I'm not getting in? Nope. My next road marathon isn't until October. By then, I'll be fit enough that I'll only need to put in few long road runs to pull it off. Of course, I write all of this in the hope that I'm not injured already and just about to break like at the Vermont 50, when I went from fine to barely able to walk in a matter of 30 minutes. Yeah, it could happen. If it does, I'll deal with it just like last time. I'll have to. Does any of this mean I won't run on the roads at all. No. I will still get out on the roads some. I have a few dirt road runs that I enjoy, and there will be a few weeks coming up when the trails are going to be difficult to run on through mushy snow. I'll have no choice but to hit the roads. I may even change my mind and feel like a long road run, but I'm changing my overall plan. This worrying about mileage and pace is going to end. I'm not going to peruse Strava and worry that I'm not keeping up with what everybody else is doing. In fact, I'm sick of people I don't really know watching what I'M doing, so I might be thinning out my followers list. If I know you, that's cool, but if I don't? Don't get offended when you end up off my list. I just need to end that feeling of all eyes on me all the time. I don't like being in a spotlight, and to me, Strava is a huge spotlight. When I was first on Strava years ago, Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson were the only people I followed because they were the only local runners I knew on there, and I often wanted to learn some of trails they knew. It actually served that purpose well. Now, I have 205 followers, and I follow 113! And...I just cut 28 people from my followers list. Nothing personal. I swear!

This post was supposed to be my New Bedford post, but I've decided to write a separate one for  that and the rest of last week. This brain spewing is just too much to read before scrolling down to a depressing race report. Haha. So that will be my next post. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to end this one on a positive note. I guess I could say that, other than New Bedford, mentally, I've been having a better month than last month. My few relationships with people seem to be going well now. I'm in dire need of losing weight and sleeping better, but it will come with the warm weather. I'm cutting back on the beer for a few weeks to give my body a break from those extra calories, since mid to late March is when I ALWAYS gain weight. ALWAYS. Not planning to cut it out completely, but majorly cutting it back. Not like that's going to hurt me in anyway. Haha. I'm also cutting out sugar again for the most part. That's something I need to do all the time since its excess is the reason I've gained the weight I have the last month. I guess I'm just trying to make my life better by doing small things right now. I was so disappointed after New Bedford that I cried a few times on the way home, but, now, I realize that it actually has helped move me forward in a more positive direction.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trail Race in Powder/Snowshoe Race on Ice

Another double race weekend! Which meant another recovery week with shorter, slower runs. That's pretty much what my running is shaping into right now through April. I actually couldn't remember any of the runs I did without looking back at Strava. The only thing that came to mind when I thought of running was snow and wind. Haha. I still got in 56 miles for the week surprisingly. I didn't expect to break 50, so that was a plus. I didn't take any zeros, so that helped. Plus two races over the weekend added on more miles than I would normally get in if I wasn't racing both days. Speaking of, don't ask. Because I don't know why I have done this to myself for the 3 weekends of the last month. I was actually going to skip Belleville Pond on Saturday because I only have to do 4 out of the 5 races in the 4th Season Series, but I just didn't want to miss it. I knew it would hurt my snowshoe race on Sunday, which was dumb because it is an All-Terrain Series race. My performance was mediocre and definitely hurt me in the percentage points, but oh well. The craziest part of the week was that the trail race ended up being in about 3 inches of fresh powder snow, and the Northeast Federation Snowshoe Championship race was basically on a sheet of ice, due to lack of snow (as of this writing, they got 34 inches of snow yesterday; figures. Haha).

Monday, March 6, 2017- Ran the usual 5 miles on the work treadmill, but slowed the pace just a tad from what I usually run. 36:32. Really only 30 seconds slower than usual. Work was the same as usual, except we had a call around 0545 that had us getting off shift an hour late, thus cutting into my run time.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017- I don't know what it is about Tuesdays, but the weather almost always sucks! The only day we can usually ski, and it's just shitty typically. Today was no exception. Woke up to a light layer of snow on the roads which meant slippery shoulders. I rushed home and back out for an out-and-back up Rt 16 to West Side Rd. The plan was to stay on West Side, but the snow covered shoulders gave me nowhere to run on a busy road, so I took a left on Passaconaway Rd instead. Typically a super quiet road, so I was able to run in the road most of the way. Ran out to Cross Rd, where I hit 5 miles and turned back. Just as I turned the corner into Conway Village, John's dad passed me; I noticed John wasn't with him. I don't think he realized I wasn't home. Haha. Oops. No big deal since, like I've said, John can be home alone for short periods of time now. Finished up my 10 miles back at the house in 1:15:41. Very easy pace. Not much elevation gain. Hamstrings and glutes were really sore during this run. I think the snowshoe running is aggravating them.

 The rain started as soon as I finished. Once again, no skiing for us. It's just not fun to me. We did end up running errands. Bought wood pellets, dog food and a grocery store run. Then took the dogs on a short, very icy walk in the Albany Town Forest. The weather was just gross. I'm turning weak...or maybe I'm just over it. Haha. I've done my time living in the literally hiking and sleeping in the rain for days on end. Soaked clothes, tent, backpack. Just not really into that anymore. Haha.

Got in my upper body and abs workout before taking John to ninja class. Home late as usual.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017- Finally decided to shake things up a bit for my morning treadmill run. On Sunday, Jamie Woolsey and I were talking about her uphill treadmill runs in preparation for Mt Washington. I've known about this training for a few years now, but I've never had any desire to actually try it. Talking with Jamie about it lit a spark because at 4:30am, it seemed like a good idea. It was a tough workout. I didn't do all uphill the whole time, even though I probably should for the specific training, Instead I did intervals. First half mile was at 1% grade 8.1 mph. Slower pace to warm up. The next half mile, I bumped the treadmill up to 10% (the highest my treadmill will go) and dropped the speed to 6.5 mph. It wasn't easy. Next half mile, back to 1% and 8.5mph. Continued this for 5 miles. Last .2 miles, I took all of the elevation away just for a quick recovery before stopping. 5.2 miles total in 42:42. Figured out elevation gain using a calculation to be about 1452ft. Not bad...especially for an early Wednesday morning run when I'm usually still half asleep during my run. Haha. If I'm up for it, I think I'll continue this workout for my Wednesday morning runs.

Crazy busy day at work. Got to work with Conway Ambulance using their bariatric truck and stretcher for the first time. That was interesting. Sad such a thing has to exist, but it's great that it does. No way are two of us lifting a 400+lb human being. We'd be injured for sure.

Thursday, March 9, 2017- Brought my clothes to work for my run so that I wouldn't have to go home and, thus, procrastinate. I wanted to run on Haley Town Rd in Fryeburg since it had been awhile. I'd never run the entire length of the road so that was the plan. Parked at the Visitor's Center, changed clothes, then walked the railroad tracks about 50 yards to Haley Town Road. I was shocked to find someone had sanded the road. This is Maine! They don't do that here! Haha. Looked like it had been done by a small truck, probably someone who lived on the road, since the sanding ended somewhere in mile 2. Boo. The previous day's rain had now frozen into black ice on the road edges, but like Passaconaway Rd, this isn't a very busy road, so I was able to run in the middle of the lane where it was dry, for the most part. When traffic came, I ran on the side of the road which was dirt and had traction. Most of the run out was under beautiful blue skies, not too cold. Felt really nice since I tend to forget what sun is. I had to run a very short distance down Hampshire Rd to make the run out 5.5 miles, then turned around.

As the miles clicked on, the sky began to turn gray. Then during mile 8, snow flurries started. By the middle of mile 9, I found myself in a total whiteout. An insane, blinding snow squall had moved in. Heavy snow blowing into my eyes and quickly covering the road. Mile 10 was like running on a slip-n-slide with my eyes nearly closed. I was wearing my Hoka Hupana's, and while I like them, I can say they have zero traction in these conditions. I had to slow way down and ran an 8:29/mi avg pace for mile 10...which was all downhill. This would have been a run in the 6s normally. This snow squall was so crazy that I had to stop and take some pictures. I was barely moving anyway, so it wasn't a big deal to stop briefly.

So this squall lasted less than 15 minutes. It ended just as I finished mile 10...which also happened to be near where the sanding was! Yay! Mile 11 was back in the sun/blue skies on decent road. Ran that in 6:56/mi avg. Since my watch is kind of crappy with accuracy, I had 11.2 5.5 out, 5.7 back. 1:24:25. 390ft of elevation gain, so once again, nothing crazy as far as long climbs go. Once back at my car, I was soaking wet from the snow squall covering me and then melting, so I changed clothes, then drove home under blue skies. Haha.

I decided to go to Maine to pick up a haul of beer I had ordered from the Bier Cellar that I hadn't been able to pick up as planned after the Bradbury Squall race. I guess it's been months since I've been in there, but, still, the same guy who is always there recognizes me the second I walk in and immediately works on getting my order together without me ever saying my name. He has a really good memory. I really wanted to pick up this beer because of our usual Rhode Island race beer trade coming up Saturday.

I was STARVING when I left there so stopped in for a very quick lunch at the King's Head in Old Port. Of course, some creepy, older guy at the bar tried to talk to me. Why do I attract that? I was able to fend him off quickly, but then he just annoyed the bartender instead. Haha. He was looking at a local magazine and asked her, "Do you think this ad is sexist towards women?" She takes the magazine, looks at the ad, then says, "Well, I don't think it's sexist considering this is a women's magazine." Hahaha. I was laughing inside. Lunch came out quickly, and I only had one beer. I was probably in and out of there in half an hour.

Six Grain Milk Stout by Austin Street, one of the many great beers on tap here
I had to hit Bissell Brothers after that since I promised Scott Mason some. Stayed for one small drink there. The place was dead so I was able to get a good table in the sun looking out the window.

I thought about going to a movie while I was there, but there wasn't anything I wanted to see, so I just headed back home. Quick trip. I was home around 6pm. Got in my upper body and abs workout, then watched My Best Friend's Wedding which I probably haven't seen since it came out...TWENTY YEARS AGO! How did that happen?! Funny to watch silly movies from the 90s. I loved that corny stuff then. I also watched the newest Impractical Jokers episode since it's my favorite show then went to bed. Totally wild and crazy night, for sure. I'm turning into an old fuddy duddy.

Friday, March 10, 2017- Slept in until 7:30ish, but didn't get out of bed until 8. Fridays are my lazy mornings! I love them. I was in no hurry to get out for my run since it would be an easy, slow as hell 6 miles on Corridor 19. After I took the dogs out, I sat down at the computer and finally got my stuff filled out for a new passport. My passport still said "Leslie O'Dell Beckwith" on it, and since John and I might visit Canada at some point this year, I decided it was time to send out for a new one. When I was done, I got changed into my running clothes, stopped at Walgreen's for a passport photo (why I did this on greasy, slept on hair, I don't know) then drove over to Hemlock Lane for the run with Spot and Phoenix.

The trail was solid, a lot of it ice. Microspikes were perfect for this. Ran 3 miles out to where the Mason Brook Trail starts then ran back. Phoenix decided to go on her own adventure at one point making me have to stop for 5 minutes. I was rip shit when she came back covered in something gross. She can't understand a word I say, but I still scolded her. "This is why I don't run with you!" "You can't just take off like that! You're too small! You'll get eaten!" "Next time, you're going on a leash!" "You're really pissing me off right now!" I went on and on like this as we ran. If anyone were listening, he/she would probably be laughing his/her head off. Haha. Finally made it back. 6.1 miles in 58:53. Super slow. And funny, this run has over 500ft of elevation gain, but at that slow pace, you really don't feel it.

Ran a few more errands. Post office to mail the passport, store again, farm stand for eggs, then home. John showed up right after I did. We ended up staying in for the rest of the day/night. Since we would be out of town the rest of weekend, I decided to let John have time at home.

John making Chill wear sunglasses

Taking the dogs out behind my house
15 minutes of upper body and abs, followed by packing for the double race weekend in Rhode Island and Vermont.

Our company newsletter was released, and, I, unfortunately, got chosen to be in the "Employee Spotlight". Ugh! Definitely embarrassing, but I was surprised that I haven't been made fun of more than I have! Mitch, my boss, actually wrote a decent description. Just missed that I was NOMINATED as Athlete of the Year and not the actual Athlete of the Year, but that's ok. Reading it kind of makes me sad because I sound so great and driven...yet, I live in small town America living paycheck-to-paycheck making $11/hour. It really doesn't compute. Haha. And funny, one of my coworkers this morning even said, "After reading that, we were wondering why you work here!" Haha. Exactly. Just the one part of my life where I haven't been driven. Oh well. In due time. When I grow up. Haha.

Saturday, March 11, 2017- Belleville Pond Trail 10K-

Knowing I was coming down to Rhode Island in hopes of racing on dry trails, the weather gods decided to spit out about 3 inches of fresh powder the day before. Finally a snowshoe race with good snow! Oh wait...not a snowshoe race. A trail race!! Ugh! Haha. What to wear?! I knew shoes with good traction, so my La Sportiva's were the obvious choice (Hopefully will try the Hoka Speed Goat's in the near future to test out their grip!). I didn't know yet if extra traction, i.e. microspikes would be useful or not, but I brought them along.

Woke up at 4:15am. Loaded up the car with stuff, all 3 dogs and John. The ride down isn't usually bad, but I struggled this time. I've gotten used to going down the night before instead of driving in early, so I'm not so used to it anymore. Struggled to keep my eyes open. Had to drive through Boston due to I-95 being shut down in Wakefield for an accident; I was really happy there was no traffic! We made it there pretty early. Only Scott Mason and one other car were there. Mike Galoob was there but off marking the course so check-in wasn't ready yet. I decided to go ahead and do my first mile warm up with Chill wearing microspikes. Stepping out of the car, I was met with a brutally cold, gusting wind. Yikes! I wore my down puffy jacket for this. Since no one was there, I let Chill run mostly off leash after I passed Mike going the opposite direction. The spikes weren't bad. I could tell they weren't necessary, but I seemed to be getting a decent grip. Put Chill in the car, checked in. Bib #1 again! Yay! Haha. Came back. Took off the microspikes and ran another mile, this time with Spot. My La Sportiva's have great tread, but there was definitely a difference. After Spot's mile, I knew I was going with microspikes. Poor Phoenix got the shaft for the second year in a row. I only had time to run her a half mile, but she really didn't even want to get out of the car in that wind anyway.

John was awake and cozy in his sleeping bag by this time. Complaining that he couldn't load his music on his phone, until I reminded him that he drained 10 gigs of data in a span of an hour when he didn't realize the wifi had cut off on his phone while watching YouTube. So...for three weeks, we will be in "Safe Mode" which means FREE, yet VERY SLOW data. Haha. I wasn't really mad about the data thing, because he didn't turn off the wifi. It cut off on its own, and he didn't know it. I was able to look at data usage and figure out when this happened and with what app. He was at the house, so it was an honest mistake. I've told him now that we know, he has to always check he's connected to wifi before watching YouTube. Anyway, his music finally played just before I left the car to go to the start. Phew. Walked to the start line, and this was funny. A few people had been standing on the road, so other people thought they were at the start line so they filed in until everyone was lined up at what they thought was the start. Meanwhile, Steve Brightman, Jonny Hammett and I were standing at the actual start line by the baseball field. I was laughing. Even people who've run this race many more times than I have were lined up with the group in the wrong place. Hahaha. Mike Galoob walked around the building and told everyone to line up at the start line that was where we were. Hahaha. I was already there, but standing a good distance away from the start line. Like 5ft back. EVERYONE lined up behind me. Hahahaha! I was like, "Wait a minute!" and moved behind the fast guys. There was one somewhat packed down rail in the snow. Outside of that was fresh powder. I lined up in the rail, but that ended up being silly since I immediately had to move out of it as we rounded the ball field.

The race spread out quickly. So quickly that I was pretty much by myself as we entered the single track. I had some guys a little bit in front of me. Seth Acton was one of them and two other guys I didn't know. Those guys would be in view nearly the whole race, although I would pass one eventually. Running through the snow was pretty fun. Definitely much slower than it was last year, by far. I was immediately happy I wore my spikes. On all of the ups, even the little ones, they made a difference. I would have been sliding all over the place without them. When we got out to the double track section that was super fast last year, I was once again happy to have spikes since there was some ice in this section. I was really pushing hard trying to keep up with the group ahead of me and not let the guys behind me pass. Other than a guy just after the start, I never got passed by anyone. And I only passed one person. The course was familiar as we got close to the power lines with it's short steep climb, down and across the power lines and up a very short but steep hill into the woods. This is where the guy in front of me started having trouble. He had on no traction and ended up having to walk up the hill. I'm not sure what happened there, but I caught up to him quickly as he stopped and was adjusting his shoe or something. I wasn't sure, but I kept moving. I remember this rolling section being pretty difficult last year. Small rollers that still allow you to go fast, but it hurts. The guy I had passed caught back up with me quickly, but every time we hit any hill, he would fall back. If he had had traction, he would have run that race a lot faster. He kept me on my toes, though. I really didn't want to get passed back. At the same time, though, I started asking myself why I was racing so hard. I really didn't need to; I knew I was going to be first woman. Slowing down would save my legs for Sunday's race. Running in this soft powder snow took a lot of effort. Part of me wished I had been able to slow down, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

We made a familiar turn onto the power lines briefly, but this is where the course stopped being familiar. We still ran back in the direction we had come and then turned again to go in the opposite direction, but some of that, I just didn't remember. I know my watch isn't accurate on the trails, but I glanced at it just to get an idea of where I was. I remember thinking we still seemed so far out for so few miles left. Turned out I was right. After making our way back onto the single track close to the pond, I looked at my watch and knew for sure the course was longer than last year's. I was running slower, but not THAT much slower. Finally, the left turn to the bridge came into view. I know this spot since it's the half mile turnaround for my dog warm ups. haha. As I approached the bridge, Scott Mason was there ready with his camera. He was snapping photos as I crested the bridge.

He stopped shooting just as my foot slid about three feet down the bridge. I don't know how I stayed upright. I almost made Scott's Wall of Shame! Haha. I finished up this last trail portion back to the other ball field that we run around to the finish. At this point, I just kind of jogged it in, finishing 1st female. 6.7 miles on my watch in 54:45. Full Results. Last year, I had 6.2 miles on my watch and ran it 9 minutes faster. So longer distance in snow made it much slower. But, honestly, I was really slow. There were people ahead of me whom I beat by a lot last year. My glutes and hamstrings were pretty sore when I finished. They had been when I got out of the car after the drive. By the end of the day, they would be pretty painful. I knew that I'd probably screwed up Sunday's race AND that I would need to take some major zero days the following week.

As soon as I finished, I talked to Jonny for a few minutes about the race then needed to put on some clothes. The wind was blowing hard, and it was COLD. I put on some clothes then went back out with Chill for a cool down. Ran into Andy Neil along the way, so he joined us. Only a mile, but it felt good to loosen the legs back up.

John stayed in the car the whole time. It was SO cold and windy that there was no reason for him to come over to the awards. It was almost the exact same crowd left as after Beach Race. Steve Brightman and I were the winners and walked up together to choose our prize. We both chose the same thing. Of course! Haha.

Whalers Wanderer. It was really good!
After we were all nearly frozen to death from the wind, a group of us headed over to Oak Hill Tavern for beers and lunch. It was a good time. We had the waitress take a group photo of us. I turned part of that into a Michael Crutchley/Grumpy Cat meme. Haha. If you read my post from last year's race, this is where I first heard of a stuffie! I've been ordering stuffies since and ordered two today. I was super jealous of everyone's cornbread and chili last year, so I made sure to opt in this time around. Combined that with a good beer.

Michael Crutchley, me, John, Jonathan Short, Beth Lazor-Smith, Seth Acton, Jonny Hammett, Patrick Quinn, Scott Mason and Rachel Flaksman

I took one look at Crutchley's face and thought, "He looks like Grumpy Cat!" Hahaha

Pat, Scott and I toasting!

#stuffiesNOTonthelevel Last year Eric Narcisi put our stuffies on the Level Renner tab and coined the hashtag: #stuffiesonthelevel. No Eric this year! Boo!! 

By the time the check came, I realized once again that I was the only one who never has cash and needed to put our food on a card. I was just going to take everyone's cash and put it all on my card, but Jonny Hammett thought that was silly and ended up paying for our lunch. He's so nice. I always feel weird about people paying for my things because I can't often return the favor, but Jonny just told me to bring a lot of beer to Brrr-lingame in exchange. Will do! That's on my list for Thursday's errands. Haha. Maybe some day I'll remember to have cash in hand.

Rachel, Scott and I headed over to the Tilted Barn Brewery after, just like last year after Oak Hill. We each had their Cactus DIPA. It was so good! I filled my bottle with Mt Yasur porter, then John and I began another long drive Vermont!

Photo that Scott Mason took of Rachel and me
We didn't go to far north before a stop in North Attleboro at Monkey Joe's for John to have some fun. We had a Monkey Joe's in Fayetteville, NC when we lived on Fort Bragg. I used to take John there all the time. He loved it so much! The last time we went was for his 5th birthday party. It was so weird to be back in a Monkey Joe's 6 years later with him now one of the big kids. And I no longer had to follow him around to protect the little kids he liked to push down. Haha. It was nice just sitting down while he played. He instantly made two friends and played for almost 2 hours with them. He had so much fun! I was so happy to see him having fun there.

We still had a LONG drive ahead of us to Bennington, VT. The drive would end up taking us into New York for awhile before going back into Vermont and arriving at our motel around 9pm. I'd booked us a room at the West Road Motel. It didn't have great reviews, but the place was great. Very outdated, but it was such a beautiful location and perfect for taking the dogs out. It was crazy cold, though. Below zero. I was nervous about the race the next morning. I am so sick of racing in the cold. Ugh! Had a night cap then went to bed. John stayed up a little later playing Roblox on his computer.

Sunday, March 12, 2017- Northeast Snowshoe Championship Race-

Woke up to temps around zero in Bennington and around -3 degrees up at the race at Prospect Mountain. It was so beautiful out, though. I'll take outdated for a view like this...

I got up and took the dogs out right away. One step out of the door smelled like skunk spray, but I didn't see one around. Phew. This was great since I could totally let the dogs run free down the hill. When we came back up to walk around the pond, I was throwing a stick for Phoenix and Chill when I looked back to call Spot, who was sniffing around. And what do I see?! A skunk literally running up to Spot!!!! She didn't see it, thankfully, and I screamed for her to come. She started running to me completely oblivious to the skunk that was now starting to run as well. The skunk started chasing us around the pond!! I started running and kept the dogs running by throwing their stick. They never once noticed the skunk that chased us ALL THE WAY AROUND THE POND! It was so crazy but so funny at the same time. We managed to get ahead of it and run back to the room before it caught us. Oh my god, could you imagine the 3 hour drive home in a car with a dog who'd been sprayed by a skunk?! Spot really lucked out. Haha.

The skunk finally disappeared back to wherever we had disturbed it from. I made coffee and woke John up. Chill was hot in the room so I tied him up outside as I loaded up the car. Crazy dog. Those temps were comfortable to him.

I dragged John out eventually and drove up to and passed by Prospect Mt. Totally didn't even see it. I was about 2 miles past it when the road started to descend. Oops. Turned around. For some reason, I remembered it being on the opposite side of the road so I wasn't even looking that direction when I drove by the first time. We parked. The crowd was small so far, which didn't surprise me. It was brutally cold!! Stayed below zero through the race before finally getting about zero. I brought John in the lodge. He was not happy to find no wifi nor good cell service. I told him he would have to read his books instead. That's when I learned we didn't have them! They were on the bookshelf at home. Eek. He was able to download some music, so that's what he did during the race.

I went out for a mile warm up. I was SO sore in my glutes and hamstrings. I had a bad feeling about the race. Good thing I wasn't expecting to win. Kasie Enman was there (since it's an All Terrain Series race) and also the woman who was first master at World's. I knew I was going to suck and that my percentage points for the ATR would be bad. Kasie would end up obliterating me by over 4 minutes. Ugh! Hopefully, that won't hurt me too much for the ATR, but it probably will. I think 2017 is just going to suck for me. I've had a good winter for the most part, but I am insanely slow. It's a good thing I've decided to stick with mostly trail racing this year or I would probably be totally burned out and discouraged by year's end. The last two years of intense road racing is starting to wear me down. It's time to cut it back.

So anyway, my face nearly froze off during the warm up around the parking lot. I was not looking forward to this race, especially since it was going to be on pure ice for the most part. There was no snow here, and Tim Van Orden had to do his best to pull off the race. I think he changed the course 3 times over the week as the snow melted. I was sad to learn the Vertical Challenge was cancelled because John was going to do that one. He wasn't disappointed, however. Haha.

It was finally race time. Stepping out into the arctic from the warm lodge was not encouraging. I ran up the hill with Dave Dunham who gave me a quick run down on the course. Two loops of rolling hills all on nordic trails. Tim started the race pretty quickly. It was a lung burner from the start right up hill. I went out way too fast. Kasie and the other woman passed me right away. I would only see them ahead of me for a short distance. I had trouble getting the speed up. It didn't help that I didn't know the course so I figured I would just run it slightly slower until I warmed up and completed the first loop. My toes were numb the entire first loop, plus some.

The course was a beast. Climbs and rollers, a little down, then a steep climb before a quick downhill to complete the first loop.  About 3/4 of the way through the first loop, I actually had thoughts of dropping out. I honestly wasn't sure I could finish, but by the time we got down to the bottom to start the second loop, I felt like I could go on. I was bummed to see Jamie Woolsey maybe only 10 seconds behind me at the turnaround. This meant I'd have to push myself through the second loop! Cry!! I was able to stay just behind this one guy for most of the race so he helped pull me along. Other than him, I saw no one in front of me after the first mile. Knowing the loop this time around made it easier to gauge where I could push ahead. I could feel my toes by mile 4, so I was actually feeling much better on this loop than the first. It paid off. I was able to get a better lead on Jamie (but not much!) to keep my 3rd female position. 6.2 miles on my watch in 49:33. I was so happy to cross that finish line. That course was just way too fast being on the ice, and my legs were in no shape for speed today. I wasn't too happy with my race, but I did it to myself and expected a poor performance so I really didn't dwell on it. It's my own fault for doing too much. I had to be happy with 3rd female and leave it at that. Full Results. No pictures from this race since no one was out there taking any.

I was so happy to get back in the warm lodge! John was up and about the room. The owners had turned on the hot chocolate machine for him so he had a hot chocolate and was buying some food. He actually seemed perfectly content. He didn't need internet. My face was SO RED and would end up peeling from the cold burn later the next week. No wonder all of those old-time photos from New England show hard-worn faces. They were out in the cold all the time.

We took this funny selfie. My face is SO RED from the cold.
I took the dogs out briefly, then came back in and sat with Diane Levesque and Brian Gallagher and John for the awards. Diane and I were both taking handfuls of Toblerone chocolates from the snack table (no wonder I'm gaining so much weight!) The awards finally started, and it was a choose-your-own type award. I was so hoping no one would pick the one I wanted, and they didn't! Yay! It's an Insulated Eco Vessel. I didn't get it for coffee. I actually picked it because it will keep beer cold at the lake beach!! And it will look like a coffee! Haha. Much easier way to break the rules. :)

Fred Ross snapped this photo of us during the awards
We left right after this and headed east for home! But not without a stop at Whetstone Station in Brattleboro. The place was packed, so we waited about 25 minutes. Chris and Karen Dunn had the same idea and walked in just before we were seated. The beer and food are good here, and our waiter was great!

John just got a small chicken breast with teriyaki sauce so we had to make one more stop in Concord for dinner for him on the way home. I was so happy to get home! And we made it back in time for The Walking Dead! Haha. I skipped my upper body workout. My abs were actually sore frome the races, and I was just worn out, so I only got three days in with that this week. Good enough. I'm about to pick it up again with the legs soon to strengthen up for mountain racing season, just over a month away! I'll miss the two mountain races in May, but that's going to be made up with a lot of mountain/trail running and training on the Cranmore course. So looking forward to that!

So, after weeks of beating myself up, it definitely caught up with me. I needed some major zero days the following week. New Bedford Half Marathon was coming up. It was my goal race up until this point. Now, I was feeling pretty discouraged about it. I was in a lot of pain in my glutes and hamstrings and knew that there was no way I was going to recover from that in 6 days. Thus began the dread that would last all week. Oh well. My racing obsession is sinking in that it's starting to be like last year at this time. Same thing. I did too much. I started to have mediocre races. It's a pattern I'm falling right back into, but if I don't race, I'm so freakin' isolated! I like to be alone, but I need some human interaction! So it's a catch 22. Race too much? Wear myself out and have mediocre results. Race less? Be completely isolated for weeks (other than with John of course) with the inability to get in any good runs on the weekends. Same dilemma as last year. And I'm obviously still trying to figure it all out.

New album by The Shins came out. Almost all of the songs are great. This is my one of my favorites...