Loon Mt Race 2019

Loon Mt Race 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

2019 Loon Mountain Race

John at Heron Pond during a walk on Saturday
I was excited about this week. Looking forward to my 9th Loon Mountain Race...until the Loon FB posts started streaming in and taking over my feed. And it wasn't just other people's posts, it was my own Loon FB memories were also annoying. Made me realize I was just like these people back in my younger Loon days so I had to forgive the excitement. Haha. Despite the hype overkill and annoying multiple uses of the word "epic", I was still looking forward to it. I thought for sure I'd kill last year's time by at least a minute. I was in much better shape than last year. I've been beating so many of my own times on trails/mountains the last month that I just knew for sure that I'd do better. Well, it didn't turn out that way. If you add in the slightly extra distance with the return of the switchbacks on Upper Walking Boss, I basically ended up running the exact same time. 1 second faster on UWB, but you can't compare it with the straight up UWB since part of it was runnable with the switchbacks. So what happened?

Early in the week, I found myself fairly fatigued and even skipped Whitaker Woods because I was so exhausted. I was able to eventually catch up on sleep, though. So I don't think it was that. I wasn't tired that morning or the day before. One of the factors that I do believe affected my race and why I felt "off" was the same reason I felt off at Loon in 2017. PMS! I have literally run some of my worst races during the last 3-4 days of PMS. Extremely bloated and probably holding onto 5-6lbs of water weight. Some months aren't as bad as others, but when it's been hot and humid (just like before 2017 Loon) for some reason I'm far more affected by it. And wow. I really should have taken a photo of my stomach Friday and Saturday nights. It once again looked like I was 4-5 months pregnant. It's insane. It's not as obvious from the front but from the side, it definitely is. I'm lucky in that I've never had cramps like some women; I'll take the bloating/water retention any day over that. But it just sucks when races fall right in this small time window. And especially a race like Loon when I have to pull my weight up steep climbs. 3-4lbs makes a huge difference. It was the same with speedier road races I suppose, as well. I wrote basically this same thing in my 2017 Loon post. Haha. However, I actually felt really good run-wise during my race in 2017. I can't say the same exact thing about this year.

It wasn't that I felt bad. It wasn't that at all. I honestly can't even explain the weirdness of this year's race. It just felt off. The race itself. And this sentiment was felt by other women, as well. In the past, when Loon isn't a national championship race, both men and women have always raced together. I've enjoyed that since having men to race against helps recreate the competitive atmosphere of a national championship. But with huge increase in participants, the RDs had to make the decision to split up the genders. I don't disagree with this at all. I think it was definitely the right call. Just seeing the photos/videos of the crowds in the mid-to-back of the pack is enough to know having all of those people in one race would have been a nightmare. Here are a few photos I found on FB of the men's race alone. What a cluster it would be with all the women mixed in.

Start of the men's race

I didn't expect for those of us in the top quarter of the pack to be so spread out, though. This is why I think my race just ended up being kind of blah. And why it wasn't injury or fatigue or even PMS (well maybe this one contributed) that had me running the same time as last year. It was so quiet at times. And past the first mile I was only around the same 2 women the entire way with brief moments near Christin and Haley. I had many moments where I felt I wasn't even racing and thought this in my head during the nordic section; that I felt like I was just out for a regular run. I wasn't really pushing hard because that race feel just wasn't there. I'd say the only moment I did feel it was on the first downhill of the nordic section and again on the long downhill to the base of UWB. So we're talking about maybe a mile out of the 6.4 miles where I felt like I was racing. Compare that to last year where I had the 3rd master right in front of me the ENTIRE race and Kara Haas less than a minute back. I had a rabbit to chase and a wolf to run from. I raced so hard last year to snag that 3rd master spot and got it. So basically today was all mental. Not that I wasn't dying up UWB or the other climbs, but there were many times I know I would have given more effort had the opportunity arisen . All that said, I'm not disappointed in my race. Not at all. It just was neither a great race nor a bad race. Nothing spectacular. I could say nothing it's nothing to write home about, but you know I won't let you down with my race report in way too much detail. Hahaha.

This was a very early morning for us even though I only live 45 minutes across the Kanc from Loon. With the women's race starting first this year, it meant getting there before 6am since I had also volunteered to work the women's bib pickup. (Thank you so much to the RDs for this, btw. The women so deserved this after racing second at the national championship races since 2016. There is a reason for this, though, and I do stand behind them for continuing to have the men's race first in championship year. After watching the top men weave around the many women racers in a video from Sunday, I've changed my tune from last year. However, in a non-championship year, I think they should continue to have the women start first).

I was mostly nervous about getting John out the door and then awake when we got there at 5:50am. He was working the water stop at the gondola and would need to be ready to go up at 7:30am. Not a huge deal normally, but when I was woken up at 2am by John in the kitchen getting a snack because he was still awake, I was pretty worried. Haha. Thankfully, it all went smoothly with no complaining from John. Phew. The drive across the Kanc started off just as every single early morning drive on the Kanc starts...I get behind the only other car on the road, and they're driving UNDER the speed limit. Haha. Without fucking fail. Every time. Fortunately I was able to pass them on a straightaway early on. Just past Bear Notch Rd, I saw massive bull moose that was spooked by the car just as he was about to cross. He turned around and ran quickly. It just so happens that prior to this morning, I had only seen one of other moose while driving the Kanc. It happened to be on the drive to my very first Loon Mountain Race in 2011. Haha! Also a massive bull moose. He actually waited on the side of the road until I stopped and then crossed the road in front of my car. He was huge, like a dinosaur. I found it funny that as much as I've traveled this road since 2003, I've only seen moose on the way to Loon. It was also on the way to Loon that both Kevin Tilton and I saw a completely unexplainable animal. Very large like the size of a wolf but with rear goat-type legs. I swear I'm not lying. I would have questioned myself on what I saw if Kevin hadn't brought it up in the gondola on the way down after the race not knowing I had seen it, too. Maybe it was a young moose with mange or something. Haha. I'll never know.

We got to Loon around 5:50am and parking ended up being the opposite of last year. We were parked down by the river, literally right by the start. This would be so convenient for me since I would only have 20 minutes after bib pick up to get in a warm up and get race ready. I totally lucked out with this. I even discovered a new woods area for a pre-race bathroom stop. Haha. I brought John up to the lodge with me and settled in to the A-D bib pickup space. John left with the gondola crowd a little before 7:30am. Christin arrived right after me and jumped in to help until she had to go warm up. Then Ashley Atkinson helped me. We moved the line through pretty well, I thought.

Around 7:35am, Ashley found someone to take our place. I ran my stuff to the car and then got in a mile warm up. By the time I was back to my car, I only had 8 minutes to the start, but luckily I was parked right there. I had to weave through the crowd to the get to the front. I lined up with Christin and Haley Heinrich behind a very unexpected large competitive group of women. I should have expected it, though, with the huge prize money increase for a non-championship year. Just from a quick look around I guessed about 10ish very fast looking women. In addition to those young women, I also had Christin and Kara to worry about as masters. Or so I thought. At the last second this Canadian woman stepped into the front line by Christin. I swear she had to be in her mid-40s. Christin thought she might be, too. (I kind of feel bad since I learned later she's only 35. Haha. Now I wonder how old I look. Good thing she was 35 because she ended up finishing 2nd woman). So even before the race started, I didn't expect to finish in the top 10 and thought for sure I wouldn't finish better than 3rd master at this point. 4th if I couldn't beat Kara, whom I only beat by a minute in 2017. This definitely took any pressure off, but that "pressure off" attitude certainly didn't help in the race.

After Chris Dunn's pre-race announcement, we were off from the river. I actually stuck to my plan to hold back for the first mile-ish. I spent too many early Loon years going out way too fast in the first mile before I learned to hold back until the nordic section. Roger Marcoux got a video of the women just past the start before exiting the river lot. I was 18th before we left the parking lot. I actually felt good with my pace at this point, but for some reason the first steep climb after we got up above the lodge hurt way more than usual. I think part of it was because Kara was in front me and I was trying to stay close. This is a climb I would be power hiking if it were later in the race so I think I pushed a little bit harder here. This isn't a bad place to do it, though, because you get a really good downhill right after it. I take any downhill at Loon hard. It's the only way I can get a jump on the good climbers.

Andrew Drummond got a shot of the downhill. Squall was with him.
This downhill took nothing out of me since I can run these downhills without putting on the quad brakes. I actually passed a few women here, but I was surprised not to catch Kara. She can't normally do downhills well due to her previous injury; this had me worried as we curved right for the runnable uphill to the nordic section. I used to die on this section when I went out too fast at the start. Today I felt strong here and kept the same distance behind Kara from the start of it to the turn into the nordic section. Dave Dunham got a photo of a lot of us during the climb. I wasn't the only one who commented on having no recollection of the fence in the photo. Someone else also commented that the road looked flat. That road wasn't flat! Haha. Funny the things you don't notice during a race.

My plan was to either catch up to or pass Kara as soon as we got onto the nordic trail since it almost immediately starts a long, somewhat technical in parts downhill. I breathed a sigh of relief to pass Kara right at the first water bar. I was surprised that I actually passed about 3 other women here as well. About 30 seconds later I found myself very close to Christin. I knew that wouldn't last once we turned to head back uphill for a long, gradual climb. I completely expected all the women I had passed to pass me back here, but it didn't happen. Instead, I found myself pulling ahead of them and was pretty much running by myself. I could see Christin and another woman up ahead playing leap frog and only saw a small group of women, including Sarah Canney and Haley Heinrich, behind me when we made the right turn on a switchback. I couldn't see Kara at all. This entire next stretch was the point I mentioned where I felt like I was just out for a regular run and not racing. I didn't feel fast at all and wondered why Haley and Sarah weren't catching me. This was the 5th year the women have been racing the nordic section, and some of those years have been very wet and muddy. Today was fairly dry. I ran it the 4th slowest of all 5 years. 1.8 miles in 15:38, as opposed to 15:03 in 2016. My slowest time was in 2017 when it was the wettest, muddiest year in 16:12. 13 seconds slower than 2018, but like I said I was chasing down the 3rd master. So the feeling that I wasn't racing was actually pretty accurate. This just confirms that.

As soon as we hit the downhill, the woman Christin had been running near got ahead of her and I quickly started to catch up. Just before the bog bridge and the last part of the downhill I caught up to Christin. We chatted a bit for this stretch, and she said she just wasn't feeling today's race. I told her I felt the same way, that it just felt really quiet like we weren't racing. Our run together didn't last much longer as we started the climb up the service road. I knew I wouldn't catch her again after all of the upcoming climbing. I would see her up ahead for only about half of it due to her uphill climbing strength. She stayed in sight through the water stop and the next downhill, but this downhill wasn't long enough for me to catch her.

While Christin caught up to and passed the same woman she had been leap-frogging with, I surprisingly started making gains on this woman. I could hear a woman behind me making gains on me, as well. This is a long, mostly steep climb to the top of a lift so I powerhiked almost all of it. Andrew and Squall appeared here and got this photo.

I was caught off-guard to see Corey Dowe just up ahead on this section. The last time I saw her, she was leading the entire field out of the river lot. She shouldn't have been here right now, but it was obvious she was struggling. I somehow managed to pass the woman in front of me on the short downhill from the lift and caught Corey shortly thereafter on the next climb. I talked to her briefly. I could tell she was bumming out. She said she just wanted to finish so I told her she would and then moved on. Some days it just isn't your day, and it sucks. I felt bad that she was struggling, but like the rest of us, she'll bounce back.

Andrew and Squall reappeared after the next bend and I got in a quick Squall pet. I love petting Squall. He's a giant fluffball. I think this is when Andrew took the following photo, but I honestly can't remember. Both of the women behind me would pass me shortly after it was taken. The one in the colorful outfit is the same one Christin had been battling with.

The women both passed me just as we turned on the long climb up the service road to the gondola. I remember feeling strong and "fast" here last year even though I power hiked most of it both years. Power hiking is my strength though so I didn't lose much ground on them although I didn't expect to catch them again at all. I was relieved when the gondola came into view because...

1. I was about to see John.
2. I was parched.
3. The long downhill was close.

Relief didn't last long as we came around the bend to find the course rerouted. I literally was like WTF as I looked up at the old route. I was actually kind of annoyed that we weren't told about it. (When I learned it was a last minute decision the day before, it made sense why we weren't told, but I didn't know this at the time). Funny enough Roger Marcoux happened to snap a really awesome photo at this moment.

I love this because it's something different for a backdrop and I'm not looking at the camera.
I passed Roger and then came around the gondola to where I could see the aid station. But I didn't see John at first. The reason? Because I was looking for a little kid. Haha. When I finally saw him, I realized he was the same height as everyone else. Haha. He turned around and looked right at me then held up two cups of water. THAT is a photo I wish I had. Him handing me the water. I stupidly forgot to get any photos of him at the aid station. Grr. I drank one water and dumped the other on my head then ran around the playground to start the descent. The other two women weren't far ahead of me so it didn't take too long to catch up and pass them. I go all out here. I felt 100% certain they would pass me right back on UWB. I love this downhill because it's a much needed break from the climbing before UWB and it's long enough to get ahead of potential competitors. Just as I was starting my ascent, I heard the other women talking as they began theirs, but I could also hear a 3rd woman now. I figured it had to be either Sarah or Haley but I didn't look.

For some reason, the climb seemed harder than usual. I don't know why and maybe it's only because I forgot how it felt, but it just did. The sun was beating down on us at this point, too, and here I thought we'd have a much cooler race with the earlier start. I guess most of it was, but not here. I was power hiking as best I could when Haley hiked past me easily. She is a much better hiker than me. She got ahead fast. I assumed the others would, too. I turned around to walk backwards a few times and saw the two women and Sarah right behind me, but no Kara in sight. At this point, I knew I was going to finish at least 3rd master, but I still got a little bit competitive being so close to the end. I actually pushed a little bit harder and ran half of the first switchback and 1/4 of another. This actually helped me ensure those 3 wouldn't catch me. I tried like hell to run the steep straight-up climb to the finish but failed 3 times until the very last part when I jogged it in. I'll admit I was a bit disappointed to see the clock past 1:13 knowing that's what I ran last year, but at the same time, I was ok with it. I knew I hadn't raced as hard as last year so it honestly wasn't a surprise. I had no idea my place then, but I would end up finishing 13th female and 2nd master in 1:13:36.
Women's Results

So it wasn't until well after the race that I decided to compare my splits to last year. I ran the first the 3 miles 19 seconds slower this year than last. So my feeling that I was slower was accurate. The last 3.5 miles (or whatever is accurate) was only 4 seconds slower than last year, but with UWB slightly longer (probably just under 1/10th mile longer) and still having done it 1 second faster than last year, I'd say this last section wasn't as slow as I thought. Pretty close to the same time as last year but I put a lot more effort in last year than this year for the nearly same result. So I'm happy about that. This is from Strava since I have my auto lap on the watch turned off, and I didn't hit manual lap splits.

After the finish, a group of us hung out talking briefly until we couldn't stand the mosquitoes anymore. We walked back to the gondola where I parted ways to get my backpack by the water stop where John was. I went to the bathroom, changed clothes, then relieved John from his volunteer duties and helped with the water stop for over 2 hours since we had to wait for the last finisher and then break everything down. John hung out in the cafe after getting something to eat. I enjoyed watching the men's race there, but I did end up missing quite a few people when I left briefly to fill up an empty water jug. I was happy to help out, but I was ready to relax when it was all done. I had been going non-stop for the last 6 hours. I love helping out at races, but today might have been a little much. I still enjoyed it and will continue to help out next year as needed. Speaking of next year...it will be my 10th Loon Mountain Race! Crazy how time flies.

John and I took the gondola down which took awhile. Christin messaged me that I was missing the awards, and I totally forgot about the raffle, too. I didn't care. I was ready to go hang out at the river. John was dead tired and just wanted to nap in the car so I moved it under the bridge in the shade, left the windows open and then met up with the Brightman's, Rachel Flacksman, Fabienne Pattison and Jim Boule' for the traditional beers by the river. Everyone left for food after a beer, but Jim and I hung out for awhile chatting before we both had to leave. I was starving and needed the half bagel left over from the early morning.

Photo that John sent me from the cafe

John being goofy on the gondola
The drive home was as annoying as it is every single year. Slow as hell drivers creating a huge line of cars and showing zero courtesy by pulling over and letting people go by. If you can't drive the speed limit, pull over! You are being an asshole if you don't. How hard is it?! I don't get it, but it happens every drive home from the Loon Mountain Race. Haha. This race is almost always the end of the holiday weekend so I am usually ready for a break from tourists by then.

Got home. Found Chill wandering around the yard again. Good thing he doesn't run off from the yard anymore. Not understanding why Bryan keeps leaving him there and not putting him in the house or tying him up. He has a very long lead that we put him on if he wants to sit outside since he has a history of wandering the neighborhood when left unattended. Haha. But it seems like he might be able to be left loose in the yard now.

Laid back evening. Totally forgot to do my upper body and abs workout since I was tired from the early morning and long day.

Week Recap- I went backwards with the race report first so here's the rest of the week.

Total Mileage- 51.5 miles. 8,688ft of elevation gain. I'm going to stop worrying about mileage at this point. My weeks are going to vary for the rest of the summer. So many factors determine what I run and when so mileage isn't going to be a goal for me. Like this week, for example, I skipped Whitaker Woods because I was dead tired for some reason. I cut short my run on Friday due to the heat. And Saturday, I did very little mileage due to the next day's race. My hope is to hit at least 50 miles a week, but if that doesn't happen, I'm not going to worry about it. Running is not my whole life. And I'm not so fast road focused anymore so I don't care about getting in the road miles and speed work. Running complements my life; it doesn't control it. I'm enjoying racing every weekend again instead of training, especially through the summer and fall when snow isn't limiting what I do.

Monday, 7/1- 3 miles. No zero today. Still without a watch, I used my Strava app to record the run. On trails, my phone GPS is always far more accurate than the watch. So today's run pace actually matched feel. 22:47 for time. The actually mileage was 3.07, so avg pace was 7:24. I'm not sure why the phone GPS is so much better, but I watch the GPS watch lose mileage with every out and back on this run. With the phone, it doesn't. I'll probably keep using the phone for this run.

10 minutes of glute strengthening/activation also done during the day. Not sure how much I still need this, but 2 days a week of it definitely won't hurt anything.

Another month when the monthly truck check fell on us since our shift was on the 1st of the month. Annoying because when other crews don't do them on the months they're supposed to, we have double the grime to clean the following month. But nothing is done about the laziness here. It's unbelievable. It's across the board in this field; underpaid employees with a poor work ethic think they're entitled to slack off on their job duties. Being underpaid apparently gives one a pass at not doing your job. That whole blaming others for your problems mindset. It just leaves the few employees who do their jobs to pick up the slack. I fucking hate this private EMS field more and more every day.
Yes! Love it.

Tuesday, 7/2- 13 miles. I purposely cut back on my elevation gain for the week due to Loon being on Sunday since I didn't want to totally destroy my legs. So I opted for trails that were completely runnable. I went right to the Mineral Site from work to do a longer loop of basically the same run I do most often. I just added in starting and finishing with the High School Loop which adds on 4 miles to the usual run. I felt pretty good during the run, but by the end all I could think about was drinking the cold jars of milk I had leftover from work in my car. Haha. I still got quite a bit of elevation gain, but 2,092ft isn't a lot over 13 miles.. 2:16:58 for moving time.

Thompson Falls has dried up quite a bit.
When I got home, I was all of a sudden dead tired. So much so that I ended up on the couch for awhile. I decided to skip the Whitaker Woods race due to this. We only have to do 6 out of 9 to count for the Series so it didn't matter if I missed it. I feel like it was the right call.

I was still up for taking John to the Conway Lake Beach, though. We brought Phoenix along again, but this time we sat on the opposite side of the bridge since dogs are allowed over there. We had to put Phoenix in the water to cool her off so she was offended after that. Haha. John decided to try a front flip off the bridge for the first time ever. He used to do front flips on the trampoline at gymnastics and ninja class so it was easy for him. Now he can't stop doing them off the bridge. Some of the kids can do back flips, but he says he's not trying that.

Had enough energy to my upper body and abs workout after we got home from the lake even though I was sweating to death.

Wednesday, 7/3- Zero. I was still super tired today so I didn't run at work. Did the glute workout as usual, though. John sent me a photo of Phoenix on my bed when he got home.

I had brought clothes to do the Ordination Rock 5K again on the 4th, but I decided racing a 5K wasn't a good idea before Loon since I haven't been training for anything like that in months. I worried it would take more out of me than the Friday Night Vertical Race (since I'm in shape for this) so I decided to bag it and continue with my plan for a regular run.

Thurday, 7/414.9 miles. After working the 4th last year and having such a miserable day, there was no way I was picking up a shift today. I did not want to deal with the stupidity of people today nor stage in an ambulance at Schouler Park for hours upon hours. I did my time with that last year and at the Ossipee fireworks 2 years ago. My goal for today was to stay out of North Conway, and I succeeded.

I had planned to run the Flat Mountain Pond loop in Sandwich after the 5k and still stuck with that part of the plan. It was going to be in the 90s today so I wanted to get all of my running done early. Skipping the 5K meant I would get a much earlier start on my trail run so it worked out. The weather was actually perfect for the entire run.

I chose this run because I remembered it being easy, a very gradual climb up to the pond. The last time I did this loop was in 2015, 2 days after the Whiteface Skymarathon (back when it was over 18 miles). I was SO sore. Probably the most sore I've ever been after a race except maybe my first marathon. Haha. I wrote that I ran it super slow. So I'm thinking, "Well, slow in 2015 would probably be fast today," so I expected to run about the same time, but once I got on the trail and realized how dry it was compared to my 2015 run I figured it would definitely be faster. Last time the trail itself was a rushing brook. Haha. So today's run was super pleasant. A perfect choice for this week.

The pond was just as beautiful as I remember, too. As I got up to the flat area, I stopped at a spot where 100s of dragonflies were swarming. This meant no mosquitoes so I probably stopped about 5 minutes. How could I not? Dragonflies started landing on me, and I managed to get a photo of 4 on my leg before scaring them away. Dragonflies are so calming so I came up a business idea. Dragonfly Therapy. Charge tourists for a half hour of sitting in a quiet room with dragonflies. Haha. If only that would work, I'd make bank off of those people. Haha.

I continued on. Bypassed the shelter area where I went skinny dipping in 2015. Haha. People were camped there this time. The trail from here followed an old logging railroad bed for about 2.5 miles before veering off onto the Bennett Street Trail that I followed down along the brook to the trailhead. Except this wasn't my trailhead. Like last time, I ran the last 2.5 miles on the road back to the other trailhead. It isn't bad since it's very pretty, quiet and flat, but I did have a deerfly swarm with me the whole way. I took a dip in the freezing cold brook when I was done then drove home. 12.1 miles total in 2:07:27, 24 minutes faster than 2015. Only 1,471ft of elevation gain.

As soon as I got home, I unloaded the car and immediately left again with Phoenix. I wanted to take her for a 3 mile run in the Albany Town Forest to get her some exercise before it got too hot. Well, it was already too hot. She ran with me fine for awhile, but after that, she stopped in the water as many times as she could and then tried to protest after a mile. I got her to finish off most of the run, but she adamantly refused to go an extra .2 miles to make it an even 3. So 2.8 miles was the total for our run. 29:09. Almost as slow as my first run, except this was completely flat. Granted, I had stiffened up on the drive home so I could barely run the first half mile of this.

We went right back home where I showered and then sat down with a bowl of cereal. I had literally just poured the milk in it when Steve Brightman messaged me that he and Jennifer and the kids were 20 minutes out from Hobb's Restaurant in West Ossipee. I put the bowl in the fridge, threw my stuff in the car and headed right for Hobb's. Lunch was fun hanging out with them. I got the very last pour of Salinity Now, their gose. So good. My meatloaf sandwich was way better than the bowl of cereal I had planned (Oh, and, yes, I still ate the cereal, but for dinner. And yes, it was completely soggy, but I'm in no financial position to ever waste food. People who don't take their leftovers with them from a restaurant are a mystery to me hahaha).

The Brightman's headed on to North Conway hell, and I drove to Silver Lake so I could get out on the water in my boat. The lake is the place to be on a hot day like today, and the paddle out to the other side of the lake had a nice cool breeze. It was awesome...until I turned around. Nothing but hot stifling air. I finally had to stop and get in the water to cool off and found an awesome oasis at the end of the point from East Shore Drive. I floated for awhile, and it felt so good. Then it was back in the boat to paddle back to the other side of the lake. Just over 5 miles of paddling. Took a little over an hour and a half.

My lake oasis
Once I was home, I was there to stay. For some reason there were no bugs so I sat on the deck with Phoenix for awhile. And that was pretty much it for my 4th of July. How I like it. Not alone all day, but mostly alone.

Friday, 7/5- 8.7 miles. I had an easy run planned for this morning, but I stupidly got out after 10am when it was hot as hell. I attempted to take Phoenix up and down Heavenly Hill, but she once again refused. Only made it a quarter mile before turning around. I put her in the house then went back out to do a run up Heavenly Hill and through Tin Mountain. I had planned to run most of my course and come back via HH, but I was dying. Just way too hot so I ended up cutting it short and made a shortcut to the Waldorf School and back up the trail to my neighborhood. 4.8 miles in 55:09. Still a lot of elevation gain for a short distance. 877ft. The only nice part about this run was seeing the mountain laurel on the Laurel Loop in full bloom. So pretty!

Had to take a selfie as soon as I got home. My face was more red than the photo shows.

I got in my upper body and abs workout. Not much different than Tuesday's. Pouring in sweat. Surprised to see how much stronger I am again with pull-ups after only 5 workouts.

My watch arrived in the mail today! Thank you, Gabby, from eBay!

Just before 2:30, I took John to the library for the teen movie and pizza thing. I'm really glad they have this event for the kids. John really seems to like it. I drove over to Saco River Brewing to get some cans and stayed for one drink of the Old Course Porter. Sitting in the shade outside was nice. I drove back to the library, checked out a couple of books then sat in the kids room to read while I waited for John to finish up.

I couldn't convince him to come with me to Friday Night Vertical even though I really liked having him there. It was still 89 degrees in the parking lot when I got there, but once I got in the shade for a short warm up, it felt a little better. When I was done, I talked to Lydia Gill, who was back for another race, and Nick Aguila who came up with some friends from Connecticut for the weekend. He and 2 of his friends would end up crushing the course. So fast.

This was week 6 so it would be a repeat of week 3's course. This was the one race I've missed with Mt Washington the next day. I had studied the Strava of the course and it looked like it was a lot of switchbacks and only 1.4-1.5 miles. Hmmm. Switchbacks sounded too runnable for my taste. Haha. Sure enough, it was. This course ended up kicking my ass right from the start. Looking back, I wish I had let Lydia lead because I think I went way too fast at the start. She was right on my heels the whole way. The running was tough, just like I thought. Way too runnable. I still powerhiked, but they were never long enough for me to catch my breath. Plus it was still really fucking hot. Lydia never backed off so I knew it was only a matter of time before she passed me. Surprisingly, it was literally only about .2 before the finish that she did. But she still smoked me from here to the finish. What a difference for her from the week before. She seemed way stronger with her power hiking. Left me in her dust beating me by 14 seconds. Haha. I finished in 19:16 which was actually a really good time. I never would have pushed that hard without competition there so it was a good thing. Full Results. (No photos as of yet since Andrew hasn't posted any). Editing to add FNV photos ...

It took me a really long time to catch my breath after I finished. My heart rate must have been way too high from that effort in that heat. Hung out on the deck for a long time chatting and then ran back down with Lydia. Did the usual pizza, beer, raffle. I took a Tuckerman beer for the raffle. Stayed late tonight just talking to people. Didn't get home until after 9pm. Good way to finish the day, though. I love the Friday Night Vertical Series.

Saturday, 7/6- 4 miles. I had no shame opting for 4 flat miles on my treadmill in the basement in 60ish degrees with my power fan. I wanted to run short and flat anyway so it was the perfect decision. Of course I got one negative treadmill comment on my Strava post. Why do people do that? Outside was horrendous, and I had no desire to run in that again today. Some of us like the treadmill. Notice the difference in my happiness after today's run vs yesterday's.

Didn't put too much effort into this run, as planned. I wanted recovered legs for Loon the next day. 30:22. 132 avg HR.

Even though I didn't want to walk in the heat and bug hell, the dogs needed exercise, so John and I took them to the Bolles Preserve in Chocorua for a walk. I knew that would be our best bet with very few people. We did see two others, but we chose a different path so we wouldn't be close to them. Still ended up running into them at Heron Pond. This walk was literally bug hell, but the dogs loved it, and Chill got to cool off in the Pond. Only 1.7 miles since it was all we could tolerate. Haha.

Dropped the dogs off at home and continued to Conway Lake to swim until a thunderstorm rolled in. It was perfect timing really.

Cloud rolling it. At first I thought it looked like a seahorse, but then my immature mind saw something else. Haha.

Stopped at the store briefly then went home. Called it a night pretty early since I had to get up at 4am. And the rest of the story? Well, you already read it. 😊

Sorry no "official" Loon photos for this post. They are taking way too long to post. Not a criticism of the photographers, but more of a suggestion... I think people would prefer to see the photos sooner than have the bib search option. It's a very nice thing to have with so many racers, but it isn't necessary, especially if it causes the photos to be posted 5-6 days after the event.

So another good week overall. Nothing overly exciting. Nothing bad. No drama! Yay. Bryan and John are getting along pretty well still. I'm SO happy about that. I have quite a few race weekends coming up for the next month so it will be busy, but that's how I like summer. A lot of my fall race plans are actually pretty open. The only set plans I have are the Pisgah 50K, Lone Gull 10K, Waterville Valley Mountain Race, Pachaug 50, XC champs and Lil' Rhody Runaround. So not a lot going on as of yet for October. I'm trying to keep that month as open as possible right now. And I don't want to even think about that evil S word that will begin to appear on the ground around then.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

2019 Cranmore Hill Climb

John and his friend, Dylan, sprinting to the finish of the Cranmore Hill Climb
This ended up being a slightly down week mileage-wise, but it honestly didn't feel like it. I was tired and sore by the end of the week so I think the lower mileage was a good choice since I felt like quality far out-weighed quantity. I basically did 3 races if you count Whitaker Woods. In addition to that was the Friday Night Vertical Race which I actually pushed extra hard in due to having competition this week. Whitaker was pouring rain and cool temps so I actually ran closer to race pace than tempo pace. And the Cranmore Hill Climb, while short distance, actually took a lot out of me. So while total mileage was only 45 miles, I actually finished off the week feeling pretty beat up. Finished off the week with 8,999ft of elevation gain which I thought was pretty funny. Could have added one more foot, but I thought that would be silly. Just a little over 8 hours of running.

As I added in as an edit in my last post, the Thursday shift I picked up got cancelled so it wasn't as horrible of a week as I thought it would be. I still had to work Friday and got moved to a regular shift in North Conway which was excruciating, but we were fairly busy. This is where I lost some of the usual mileage since I only ran at the Friday Night race instead of Friday morning, as well. Thursday I had more planned than I ended up doing, but it still wouldn't have been a long run really. With the unexpected day off, I did try to do as much as possible. A run up and down Mt Carrigain followed by a walk with Phoenix, Saco River Brewery and then a kayak paddle on Conway Lake, also with Phoenix. I was living my free day to its fullest. When free time is no longer a regular thing in your life, it's important to use it to its fullest. Just one of the many positive things having a child has taught me. I think about who I was prior to having John and think of how being a mother has made my life so much better. Only my opinion, but the childless are missing out on this aspect. They can claim they're not, but only those of us who have kids have lived on both sides of the coin and can know the true difference. I know not everyone has the same experience as a parent, but for me life has been better and more meaningful. (And sorry. Dogs are not children. You are not "mom" or "dad" to your pet. It isn't the same thing. As much as I love my dogs, there is no comparison).

Woke up to a bunch of these by my garage one morning. Thought they were pretty.
Monday, 6/24- Zero. I was pretty sore from the 5K so I took a zero. Walked 2 miles on the trail out back. I brought my weights with me but decided after I went upstairs to workout that I was done with the weight lifting. Like I said before, I don't like the way it's made me look. I decided to go back to Zuzka Light workouts so I re-upped my membership. I need equipment for her workouts so I only did a glute workout today.

Fitz posted a photo of me from the BHZ 5K. You can't see my running belt. Yay!

Tuesday, 6/25- 10.4 miles. I decided against my original plan for a steeper mountain run and chose to run up Black Cap via Kettle Ridge since it was entirely runnable the whole way. I won't lie, though. Someone did take one of my Strava CRs on a short segment of this climb 2 weeks ago which motivated me to do this run. It wasn't so much to take it back, but I got the previous CR on my fastest run up Kettle Ridge in 2014 so I was trying to figure out why this one segment was so slow. Well, I guess I must have stopped along the way at some point because I beat my original time by 36 seconds, but I still ran the entire climb from start to finish 3 minutes slower than 2014. The Fall of 2014 was when I got super fast and ran everything hard so I have CRs I'll never come close to again. Haha. 

But anyway, this was super easy run up with all of the switchbacks. Stopped briefly at the summit but had to keep moving due to the black flies. Ran down Red Tail and came across a cute little bear. Not a cub, but a very young one. We both stopped and looked at each other before he ran one way, then I the other. 7 miles total for the run. 1,650ft of elevation gain. 1:24:02.

I started over with Zuzka's Black Diamond Upper Body and Abs series today. 15 minutes each. Felt easy, but I was actually a little sore after. I did tweak a muscle in my back during it, but not while doing an exercise but instead just getting into position. What the hell? It wasn't bad and was gone after about 36 hours. Happy to be back doing mostly body weight stuff and pull-ups and using light weights occasionally.

It was raining most of the day so John and I took Phoenix on a short walk on the Conway Rec Path. It was SO buggy. 1.65 miles.

I was getting sick of running in the rain so I almost didn't go to Whitaker Woods, but then I realized how much nicer it would be to run in rain instead of hot and humid. It turned out I was right. I did put in a little more effort because it felt so much easier. Ran about 40 seconds faster than the week before in 20:49. I was happy I came out for the run after all. I had to wear my phone all week to record runs, but the phone GPS is far more accurate on trails than the watch. It was almost spot on with the wheeled measurement today. So it was nice to have the avergae pace be more accurate at 6:45/mi.

Stopped for Taco Tuesday take out at Jalisco's on the way home. Walked in to a madhouse of tourists. Yikes. We didn't even get to ease into them before they flooded in. Haha.

Hiding from the rain before the start
 Took these photos to show how soaking wet I was, and you can't even tell! Haha

Wednesday, 6/26- 4.6 miles. I really don't know why I bother. Still can't run outside that early. I was so stiff and running the 8:29 avg pace felt harder than the Whitaker Woods run the day before. I do feel better the rest of the day having done it, but in the moment it's painful and feels pointless. I did see a deer along the way that just stood and watched me until it got really close before bolting almost with a scream. Seriously, it did like this screaming noise and kept doing it as it ran through the woods. Very odd. 39:43.

I walked a mile on the trail in the evening at work and still did my glute work. Glute work is all I'll be doing at work now unless I decide to run or walk.

Monkey truck came back to us today as a backup truck. We used to have this truck up here all the time before Careplus pulled it to its southern bases for tranfers. It was originally a pediatric ambulance, hence the animals, but we all love it. I see it on I-95 in Massachusetts occasionally when I'm on my way down to Mass or RI since our company does a lot of transfers to the VA in West Roxbury.

This meme made me laugh so hard. So many people in this field think way too highly of themselves like they're heroes or something when this is more accurately the case...

We ended up getting a middle of the night call right around 1am. I didn't get back to sleep until close to 3:30am since it's hard to get back to sleep. Left me all messed up and tired the rest of the week. Still about 6 hours of sleep, but after getting up at 4:30am to run and then it being so broken up, I just couldn't recover. This is one of the reasons I'm hesitant to get up before 5am to run since I might need the extra hour on the other end. This week I did. 

Thursday, 6/27- 10 miles. As I mentioned already, my shift got cancelled so I planned to run the 13 mile Mt Carrigain loop returning via Carrigain Notch, like I did the last time I ran this in 2015. The only thing I hate about this loop is the very remote, little used trail that drops off the north side of Carrigain. I had no idea what I was getting into the last time and found myself climbing down boulders. I wrote in that blog post that it wasn't runnable. You drop over 2000ft in about 1.5 miles. As I started today's run, I immediately found that the trail was very wet due to all of the recent rain. In fact the entire way up was mostly wet slippery technical trail so it had me a bit concerned about my plan. The Desolation Trail is rough when it's dry so I had to make a decision on whether to do it today while it was so wet. Honestly, it wasn't so much my fear of just falling, but it was more a fear of falling and being by myself and no one else would be coming that way to find me. Had it been more traveled I would have continued with my plan, but I decided to opt out and change my run to an out and back. 10 miles vs 13 miles. No big deal really.

The run up was rough. I had forgotten how crazy technical the trail is, as well as fairly steep for the last 3 miles of the climb. I remembered powerhiking the last time, but I felt like I was hiking more and dying this time around. It was super humid today, but the temperature stayed in the 70s so it wasn't bad in that sense. I had actually forgotten the hike up was 5 miles and for some reason thought 4.5. I kept thinking I'd hit signal ridge any second but it kept going and going. I started passing hikers along the way. I stopped very briefly once I got to the open ridge. The cooler air felt great after the stifling air in the trees. I took a quick photo of the tower up on the summit where I was headed. I liked the way the kids' shirts made the photo colorful. 

From the ridge to the summit really isn't as far away as it looks so I was up there in no time. I figured I was a good 10 minutes slower for the whole climb compared to 2015, but somehow I did it over 3 minutes faster! Yay! Felt like death. Still faster. Good sign. 1:29:04 from the start to the summit. I stopped on the wooden tower to rest a bit. I drank my entire Hydrapack bottle of Nuun and half my second Hydrapack of water. The breeze was nice, but unfortunately the black flies were swarming me quickly so I was only able to take about a 5 minute break before heading back down. Got some good photos, though. There was a cloud inversion over the MWV which I tried to capture. And the sun hit Signal Ridge perfectly for a cool shot. 

Very muddy
I took the run down really easy. I wasn't breaking any records for the decent today. I actually expected for it to be slippery, but all of sudden the trail seemed to be drying up as the temperature rose. By the time I got within 1.5 miles of the end, one of the bog bridges that had been soaking wet on the way up was now completely dry. Of course this made question my decision not to do the loop since the trail down the back probably wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. But oh well. I still felt like I had done enough. By the time I got down to the bottom, I was drenched in sweat and felt so hot that I went right down to the brook under the bridge and dunked my entire self in. It was cold but man did it feel SO good. I felt so much better. 

Very technical like this most of the way

Post brook dunk
I changed clothes then headed back home, stopping at the Cider Company along the way. Walked into a tourist madhouse there, too. Go away!! Haha.

Once home, I showered then took Phoenix with me to Fryeburg for a short walk up Jockey Cap. It was really hot by this time so this short .6 mile walk was more than enough. Phoenix didn't seem to mind getting back in the cool car. I went right across the street to Saco River Brewing after and left her in the car with it running and the a/c on. I only had one beer but took some cans to go.

I LOVE my new sunglasses. Even though you can see my selfie arm in the photos, you can't see my eyes to see how old I look. Haha.

As planned, we headed to Conway Lake to do some kayaking. I don't normally bring Phoenix since my kayak isn't really set up for passengers and it gets uncomfortable with her in my lap. But today, I just didn't want to leave her behind. And she loves it. Just sits in my lap and looks around at the boats and birds. She doesn't move around at all; just content to sit in my lap. I paddled out and back about 4.5 miles total. So nice to be out on the lake. I love it.

The drive to the lake on Potter Rd. I put in at the quiet area instead of the motor boat area.

I swear I wasn't trying to do one of those up above makes-me-look-thinner photos. It was the only way I could get both of us in the shot.
Friday, 6/28- 3.3 miles. I SO didn't want to work a 10 hour shift in North Conway today, but I was needed there more than the track so I agreed. Part of the problem is my partner. Don't get me wrong. I like him despite so many reasons I shouldn't. He's the poster child for a Trump supporter and the laziest EMS provider. He tells you the same story over and over and over. But, honestly, he is someone who would be there for anyone in an emergency. He is the type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. But working with him SUCKS. It's not that he's not a good provider. That's not the issue. He's just so burned out that he has become the LAZIEST provider. So I wasn't too keen on the first call when he didn't even help with patient care prior to transport. He shut the door and walked away to socialize while I did all the vitals, gathered medical HX, etc. Once I was done doing everything, he came back and offered to tech the call. Really? After I've already done everything. He knew I would say no, so it was just a fake attempt at being helpful. And it was fine; I didn't mind teching the call although he could have given the guy some zofran, but whatever. The next two calls were definitely ALS calls so he HAD to tech them, but he still stood back to let the ALS providers on rescue do all the work on scene. The only time he did anything was just to one-up another provider by using a 14 gauge needle for an IV since the other person had done a 16 gauge. It was totally just to show off and this was a serious patient. Not the time for playing who has the biggest balls. While doing this IV he got blood EVERYWHERE. I literally spent about 25 minutes after the call cleaning up blood. That shit congeals fast so it took a lot of scrubbing, thus delaying our turn-around time. It's just annoying working with him most of the time. Luckily, though, when the shit really hits the fan, he does step up and he does it well so there is still a good AEMT in there when you need it. 

I was so happy when 5pm rolled around. I'll never pick up a regular Friday shift again. Plus, John was at home alone all day, although he messaged me to say that he and his dad took a walk. I had told him he had to walk to the library at 2:30pm for the Teen Time thing unless he and his dad did something in the morning. I also told him that if it was just too hot (which it was) or he wasn't comfortable doing the library walk then he didn't have to go. Since he walked with his dad, I said it was fine he skipped the library thing. But I still hated leaving him all day and then the rest of the evening while I went to the Friday Night Vertical Race. I had about an hour in between at least. 

I was happy to be heading up to Black Mt to run. After doing nothing all day other than Upper Body and Abs (I brought my equipment), I really needed to run. For once, my legs wouldn't be trashed for the race so I hoped for a better time than the last time on this course.

On the way up to Black
Once I got up there I saw that Haley was there so I knew I wouldn't be winning, but I was still happy to have some competition to push me faster. I did a half mile warm up then hung out with people before the start. As we lined up, I noticed a fast looking girl there. Hmm. I was going to have more competition than I thought. This all turned out to be good. As we started, I fell in behind this unknown woman, and Haley fell in behind me. She's been doing really well at pacing herself better this year than before so she was starting off conservatively. The girl in front of us was moving at a quick pace and seemed to be doing it with ease so I made an effort to keep up with her, but she started to get more of a lead on us a little bit and that's when I told Haley she needed to go ahead of me and pass this other woman. With less than 2 miles for the entire race, I didn't want her to hold back too long so that she ran out of time, and at this point it seemed like this girl could give us both a run for our money. So Haley went on and passed her easily and continued to pull away for the rest of the race. I thought for sure I was going to be 3rd woman to finish since I was trying really hard to just keep up with this other woman. But all of a sudden we got to a longer steep section that I powerhiked up and caught right up with her. She still maintained a lead but once we hit one of the steep downhills, I knew I was going to catch her and was right on her heels. One more steep section of powerhiking followed by a rough, wet downhill and I was past her and just about to catch up with Kevin Tilton when I stepped in some sucking mud and came out of it without my shoe. Haha. I started laughing and went back to quickly grab my shoe as it was beginning to fill with water and sink. The woman passed me right after I grabbed my shoe. Dammit. I stepped off to the side to put it back on. I hoped I could just slide it back on, but that didn't work so I had to untie it, put it on and retie it. I felt like I did this fairly quickly, but after watching the Strava Fly By, I could see that it took almost exactly 40 seconds. Only one other person passed me by. But damn, now I had to push hard again to catch back up to the 2nd woman. I knew this last part of the race was mostly steep so I was hoping my powerhiking would get me back in 2nd. It took some time and all out effort, but I caught back up to her and passed by just before we started the last stretch up the service road to the finish. I was able to catch back up with Kevin here, but I never passed him, just stayed about 2 seconds back. I took one look back at the now 3rd place woman before we turned for the final steep climb to the finish just to make sure she wasn't close enough to catch me. I was good and finished 2nd woman and finishing 1.5 minutes faster than the last time we did this course on June 7th. Wow. That was with the stop for the shoe, too! Definitely helps to have competition. It felt good to push it. And knowing how long I had to stop and still finished less than a minute behind Haley means I wasn't that far behind her before my shoe came off. Full series results for the first 5 races.

I love the putting on the brakes shot and Squall's head!

I hung out after with Haley and other girl who turned out to be Lydia Gill. I don't know her, but she's taken a few of my Strava CRs lately and appeared on numerous others so I knew of her. She's super nice. In med school at Dartmouth but from Tamworth. I feel like such loser when I meet these young women who are doctors or in med school. Haha. She appears to be a very good runner and will be back this Friday at FNV so I will have my work cut out for me again. I'm a little hesitant to push it with Loon on Sunday, though, so I may not go all out. I missed this course the first time so I don't know it at all. We'll see how I feel on Friday.

So I found out while I was at the lift summit from Bryan that John had lied to me. He and Bryan never took a walk. John's first big lie! Haha. He just didn't want to go to the library. I was annoyed with Bryan's texts but more annoyed with John so I had to leave the summit to call him and then ran down alone after that just so I could think about it before hanging out with people again. John admitted to lying because he didn't want to go to the library or FNV. I told him there was no reason to lie. Just tell me the truth. I said if you didn't want to go just tell me that. We always talk through this stuff. And there was nothing wrong with him having a down day after doing so much physical activity over the week with his dad. (Swimming down the river and then walking back to the car). I told him lying just breaks a trust which means I'm not going to be as likely to let him stay home by himself like that again. I'm not into punishments. I'm more into reason because I feel like he'll understand it better when I don't leave him alone next time. Consequences. I feel those are better learned from. But when I got home, I told him that he had had too much screen time and didn't take care of the dogs like he should have so I made him shut off the games, take the dogs out and do his summer reading. It wasn't to punish him. I made it clear that he needed a break from the screens and that one of his responsibilities when home alone was to take out the dogs. He failed to do that. He was trying to give me his mad angry at me face during all of this, but it was just so funny to me that I busted out laughing which caused him to break his mad facade, and he started laughing. Our talk was more in depth than I'm writing here, and I'm happy with the way it worked out. I want him to know that he can talk to me and not be afraid of punishments so that he lies instead. So far that's worked out. Will it forever? Maybe not. But I'm going to be optimistic and hope that it does. If it doesn't then I'll have to change my course of action. But if we can trust each other it is so much better of a relationship. I have a lot of teen years ahead, though. And I'm just winging it day to day.

Saturday, 6/29- 10 miles. I had absolutely zero motivation to run today. I almost didn't. I woke up sore and tired even after sleeping in. But I knew Sunday would be low miles with the race so I got myself out the door for a slog on the roads. I didn't enjoy this run at all and ran this particular route slower than I ever have before. It's actually slightly modified since I ran the RR tracks instead of Route 16 out and back so that did account for some of the slower pace, but not enough to be an excuse. Haha. The weather was perfect so no excuse there either. Just totally not into it. Ran up through Bald Hill and back the Kanc. 1:21:52. 8:08 avg pace. 894ft of elevation gain. Meh-est of the Meh.

After I got back and showered I took John to the Squam Lake Science Center. I mentioned in the previous post that I got us a pass from the Conway Library so it only cost us $10 total. Sweet deal and this place is just cool. Even though John's too old for the playscape, he appreciated seeing the animals more and reading the signs. So it was actually a better experience for him. We first came here in 2014, 3 days before I left Bryan. Haha. The next time was in 2016. I didn't realize it had been 3 years since we were last here. The place was surprisingly not crowded at all. In fact, all the trailheads in the area hardly had a car in them. So weird considering tourists were everywhere. 

Pretty sure it wanted to eat us.

Really beautiful bear there.
I've taken a photo of us every time we've been here so here are all three. We've both changed a lot over the years.



We stopped at the Squam Lake Marketplace down the street after and got really good sandwiches. I wish I were rich so I could shop at a place like that with so much good stuff. I have way too rich of tastes. I did grab two Squam Supply Co beers to take home.

We filled up the water jugs at the Sandwich Spring on the way home. Phoenix was not happy about being left today so she parked herself right in front of her door of the car and glared at me so that I couldn't leave without her again. Haha.

I didn't drive anywhere but took them on a short walk on one of our trails.

Sunday, 6/30- Cranmore Hill Climb- 6.4 miles. I was happy for the local race which meant we didn't have to get up too early, but I still wanted more sleep. I woke up still tired and even more sore than I was the day before. WTF? I didn't know if it was from FNV or Zuzka Light, but it was my legs so it had to be from running. Ugh.

I had signed both John and me up for this race. It's a small White Mountain Milers event on its 32nd year! The Cranmore Hill Climb and the Cranmore Mountain Race used to be the same thing until Paul stepped down as President from the Milers and decided to make the Mountain Race an Acidotic Race. Similar to how I made my race a Six03 race instead of a Milers race. Both races needed to go a separate path although I still have mostly Milers as volunteers at my race. I wanted full control over my race once I stepped down as Treasurer of the Milers because I felt like they wanted to control too much of it. It made sense since the proceeds went to Tin Mountain anyway and not the Milers. Plus, I wanted full control on how I spent the money on shirts, awards, food, etc. 

But anyway, the Milers decided to continue the Cranmore Hill Climb in its original format and while it doesn't get the numbers the Mountain Race gets, I think it still has its place on the race circuit, and I was happy to be able to take part in it this year. This course, however, is NOT my cup of tea. It's uphill only on the service road. Not steep enough to do a lot of powerhiking (even though I did anyway), but still all uphill with an occasional semi-flat section. Just not my strength. With Kara Haas signed up I knew I probably couldn't beat her on this type of 100% runnable course. I also worried about Hilary McCloy who is super strong and really good at this type of course. There were a few other women there I didn't know who looked like they could be strong so I had no idea how the race would work out.

I let John sleep awhile longer while I went for a 2 mile warm up. I followed the first part of the course that cuts across the base of the mountain just to see what it was like. I was SO sore, but I didn't tell anyone; I knew they'd think I was just being a sandbagger and I didn't want to be a bag of excuses. The course went through the fun park but still had a small uphill before going back down behind the fitness center to start the long climb up the service road. I used to run the service road all the time when I lived down the street on Valley View Rd, but I hadn't run it once since we moved to Albany in 2013. It's not like I don't run all around there, but running up the service road had lost its appeal. Back in 2013 I actually created a Strava segment for the Cranmore Service Rd. In fact, I created numerous Strava segments in the Valley then. Literally, Kevin Tilton, Jim Johnson and I were the only ones in the Valley who used Strava back then. At some point in 2015, Strava deleted a lot of segments I had created. No idea why, but they all went missing at the same time. The Cranmore Service Rd was one of them, but fortunately, someone created a new segment of the service road and called it the Cranmore Hill Climb. My fastest time up it was in this segment so I was happy to have an idea of what time I would run up road. (The segment only includes the service rd). In August of 2013, I ran up it in 29:04. I figured with the additional half mile and it actually being a race I could possibly run it in a similar time as that. I would end up running very close to that time for the total race and 26:20 for the service road. Not bad.

Around 8:30am, I got John up. He lucked out to have his friend, Dylan, there doing the race, as well. Phew. I knew they would end up walking it together. So John was happy about that. They lined up at the back and I lined up near the front with Kim Proulx. Kara and two other women were lined up ahead of us. I didn't want to go out too hard for this first part so once we started, I fell back into 5th for the women. Freddi Triback took it out really fast, so I thought for a minute that I couldn't catch her, but she finally slowed it down a bit as we got closer to the fitness center, and I went by. Kara had a huge lead over everyone right from the start. I was hoping the two women in front of me would slow as we hit the service road, but they didn't. They both looked strong so I wasn't sure I'd catch them. This first part is a very gentle grade so I held back a little waiting for the steep section coming up. It's not a long section, but it's one of the steepest parts of the whole road so I was planning to powerhike it. I was able to pass one of the women just before it and then managed to powerhike past the other woman as she was running up it. Unfortunately, it would be awhile before I got to anything else where I would powerhike so I was suffering quickly. I wasn't very back from Kara after the steep section, but as soon as the grade lessened she pulled away again. I could always see her, but I never could make any gains again. I took some water at the water stop just to wet my mouth. It was so dry.

There were only very short sections where I powerhiked, and they were definitely runnable, but I felt like my HR and breathing were out of control, and powerhiking gave me a chance to breathe before running again. I kept focusing on Kara, but I knew I had no chance as we came by the base of Easy St. It was only a short distance from here to the summit at this point. As I approached the top of the climb, something told me to take a look back. It was only .1 miles to go, but I'm glad I did because Hilary was literally right there. I felt like I had nothing left, but apparently I did because I fired up the engines for some speed to the finish. I was not getting passed here! Came through 2nd female in 28:55, only 9 seconds ahead of Hilary. Phew. I was dying and had to just keep walking. I couldn't talk. I had no breath. That short race was just really hard for me. Great training, though, for sure! I walked to the Meister Hut bathroom and splashed my face with cold water. It felt so good! Full Results

Pushing to the finish
I ran into Hilary on the way back over to the finish area. She said she was confident she would have caught me if I hadn't looked back, and I think she's definitely right. I don't know what made me look back at that point, but I'm glad I did. 

I hung out with Kim again until she left with a group to run. I hung out waiting for John. The black flies were pretty bad, but I found this perfect spot right behind a ski lift pole where I hardly had any flies around me. It was quite a long time before John and Dylan came up last to finish. They had just walked slowly up, but then decided to duke it out to the finish. They broke into a sprint and were dead even when John caught up just before the finish, but Dylan got the upper hand. It was so much fun to watch.

John actually got ahead of Dylan right after this and then Dylan got it back as they crossed the line.

John and Dylan took the lift down. I had planned to do the same thing, but I felt like running down Charlie Doesn't Surf instead. I tried to follow the Mountain Race Course, but it was really overgrown so it sucked. Haha. 

We hung out for awards and I finally got to talk to Kara a little bit and meet her husband who turned out to be the guy I ran with a lot of the race. 

It was fun little race despite not being my favorite style of course. It's just fun being with the local runners for a good cause. 

As I got back to the car, I had a notification from eBay that I was super excited about...

The best part is that the seller is in Portsmouth so I should have the "new" watch by Loon! Yay! I wish I knew her in person so that I could have just picked it up instead of paying the shipping, but whatever. I'm so happy to have another watch. It's exactly the same one as my old one. And I got it for a deal. I didn't really need that extra shift that got cancelled, although it would have helped.

We went right home after that. Thunderstorms started right around noon and were scattered for the next 7 hours. Later on I took Phoenix and Chill with me to Walmart but stopped first for a walk on the RR tracks. The rest of the day would be scattered thunderstorms off and on. We only walked a mile and caught in some rain on the way back, but they were happy for the walk. The dogs tend to get the shaft in the summer just because it's too hot to leave them in the car when we go somewhere so by the time we get back, I only do something short with them.

See? Can't see the eyes so I could pass for 10 years younger! Haha.

I was all done the rest of the evening except for another 15 minute upper body and abs workout. John was happy to veg out after his 3 mile hike and thunderstorms sealed the deal for him. I was glad he participated in the Hill Climb without a bad attitude. Having Dylan there made it fun. And we found out Dylan is doing middle school XC in the fall. I'd love to get John out there, too. Not for the running part but for the team aspect. No better team cohesion than a XC team.

On a different note, I'm about to apply for another job. Good pay and benefits. I'm nervous about it since it means zero free days for me ever. Literally never a free day. That's one of the reasons I've stayed at this job. But a Monday-Friday job is a rarity here so I have to jump on it and at least try. My job here at Careplus is on its way out so it's inevitable, but I know I'm going to hate the change. Hate it. But I can't sustain my life financially as an EMT anymore. It will be nice being home every night, but without a free day, I don't know if I'll stay happy. But I guess happiness needs to take a backseat right now because I'm barely hanging on financially. And John has a school trip to Copenhagen in October, and I have no idea how to pay for it. If I made even just $100/wk more than here I could put enough away to pay most of it and have Bryan pay the rest. I don't know. It's a scary change. But to be honest, I can't worry about it yet. My chances of getting the job are minimal anyway. I'm not qualified for much more than loser jobs. What a life I've made for myself. Such a failure career-wise due to poor choices. I can blame 9/11/01 for some of it, but not for what I chose after that.

So upcoming...Loon Mountain Race! My 9th year in a row! I'm looking forward to it. I had a good race last year and would hope that I'm faster this year. I'm in way better shape, but then again, I was in way better shape in 2017 than 2018 and ran a slower pace overall. So who knows. I think it will just depend on how I feel on race day. I'm not sure who my masters competition is besides Christin Doneski and Kara Haas, but I'm expecting someone to surprise me. I know I can't beat Christin but Kara will be a toss-up. I beat her by a minute last year. She can beat me on the uphills, but I can get ahead of her on the nordic section and that downhill before Upper Walking Boss, but I don't know if that will be enough. I think we'll be close but it could go either way. We'll definitely push each other at least so that will help for a good race. I could go through the entrants' list again, but it's so damn long that I don't feel like it. And honestly, it doesn't matter. I'm more interested in how well I do for myself nowadays and if that leads to a win or a top 3 finish overall or masters then I'm happy with that. I'm all about the effort I can put in. I'm not going into it with any nervousness. Just going to do my best. It's so nice going into races like this now. So much more fun to be less stressed. I'll get in competitive mode once I settle into the race.

I was planning to jump into a 4th of July 5K tomorrow. Even brought the clothes for it, but now I'm thinking that it would be a bad idea. Taking a zero day today due to being overly tired yesterday so it has me thinking I should skip the speed and just go for an easier mountain run instead before it gets too hot then enjoy the 4th. Get out on the kayak. Have some beer. I don't know what else. Maybe nothing else.